Man, I’m dreading Saturday. I wish time could somehow just pause or skip over this one day so that I don’t have to do this. I don’t want to celebrate my baby’s birthday without her. I don’t want to blow out her candle for her. I don’t want to open up birthday cards for her. I don’t want to answer the door to trick-or-treaters in tears because it’s also Maya’s birthday and she’s not here for it. And I especially don’t want to sing happy birthday to a picture. This isn’t fair. Why did this have to happen to me? To my family? Why can’t we rewind six months and wake up to Maya crying for mommy and go on with our lives the way they were supposed to be? I should be getting things ready for her birthday party, not sitting alone crying and unable to sleep for the third time this week. I had this long list of toys that I wanted to buy for her and all these plans about what we were going to do. And an even longer list of people who I wanted to invite to her party. I even had her Halloween costume planned. And now what do I have? A long list of people who no longer talk to me and a hole that will never be filled. I can’t even count how many friends I’ve lost since Maya died. I finally have a friend and it’s my neighbor. Don’t get me wrong, she’s amazing and I’m so grateful that I have her. But I’m tired of being avoided because I’m “the girl whose baby died.” I don’t want to be marked for my entire life. I don’t want to have to keep telling new people that I meet that, yes, I do have a daughter, but no, she’s not here because she’s dead. I want to be up at night because Maya needs me, not because I don’t have her. I want to wake up early and play with her and watch her run across the yard. Make food together and cuddle for nap time. Maybe go on a walk to see Daddy at work. But now none of those things will happen. My Maya’s gone. I don’t want to do any of this.
It’s been such a long time since I’ve blogged. Sorry. Things have been so crazy for us. We moved all the way from California to Minnesota. We loaded up all of our stuff into a truck and left. Our new place is a two story townhome right next door to my little brother and sister. And my other little brother lives three miles away. It’s so nice here. I also started college on the 17th. I’m taking nutrition, childhood growth and development, human development, and medical terminology. They’re all going great so far. Let’s see, what else. I’m thinking about becoming a CNA with my stepmother. It’s a great job to do in the meantime and it pays well. Mine and Austin’s four year anniversary is tomorrow and our one year wedding anniversary is the next day. I can’t believe it’s been that long and we’ve been through so much together and are still so strong and in love.
Maya would have been ten months old yesterday. That is starting to get to me. Especially being here. I thought that being away from all of the pity would be helpful. But it’s like she doesn’t even exist here. No one ever talks about her or thinks about her anymore. And don’t get me wrong, I’m happy that people aren’t paying for our food or avoiding us in the store anymore. But I just don’t want her to slip away from me. The entire last year just feels like a dream. Better than the actual dreams I’ve been having. I’m haunted by the memories of finding her that morning. When I close my eyes, all I can see is her body stiff and unmoving. It’s like when you find a frog that’s all dried up and dead and you touch it and the whole thing moves at the same time. But it’s my baby doing that. The one that I grew inside of me and fed and clothed and loved. I can’t get away from it. I can’t sleep. The thoughts make me sick to my stomach. Sometimes I just want to sleep all day and night and not ever have to think about all this pain again. Why did this have to happen to me? It’s not fair. All of these people have their babies and never have anything bad ever happen to them. There’s thousands of horrible, disgusting parents out there that abuse or neglect their children, but can have as many as they want with no problems. Why can’t I have mine? All I ever did was love Maya. And sure, there were times when I was frustrated and I admit that I needed to see a psychiatrist for possible postpartum psychosis, but I never would have hurt her. I loved her with everything that I had. And sometimes I fear that there’s nothing left.
Today marks three months. Wow. Three whole months without my baby. How is that even possible? Three months is too long to go without her. I don’t want to be without her another second. This isn’t fair. I would do anything in the entire world to have my baby back with me. Anything.
A little stuffed duck. Yellow fur, orange feet and beak. Pink Easter bunny ears. It was Maya’s. I picked it out for her Easter basket. She loved it. She would try to chew on the bow around its neck. Now I can’t let it go. I carry it with me everywhere, even in public. I hold onto its little arm in the store. It sits next to me on the couch when I watch tv. I even hold it when I sleep. It’s getting dirty from constantly being in my hands. But I can’t get rid of it. I don’t know what I would even do with it. Put it in a box somewhere? That just seems cold. But I can’t carry a stuffed duck around with me forever. Right? I just feel like when I put it away, she won’t be with me anymore. I won’t have a little thing to hold or kiss when I miss her. And that scares me.
It’s been a little over two months now. And I am having a really hard time with the guilt. The what ifs. The I should haves. I know her death wasn’t my fault. That’s not what I feel guilty about. I feel guilty about all of the time I should have spent with her. All of the things I should have done differently. If I had known I would only have six months, I would have changed everything. I would have been an entirely different person and mother.
I miss Maya so much. I miss her every second. But I also miss having a baby. I want so desperately to be pregnant again. I want to be a mommy again. I miss feeling the kicks and snuggling a baby and kissing a little nose and taking care of boo boos. I miss being needed. I miss being a mommy.
But I feel so incredibly guilty for feeling that way. I shouldn’t want another baby already, I just lost Maya. I shouldn’t just replace her like that.
When will it ever be okay to have another baby? Will I ever not feel guilty? Will I ever be able to look at my future children and not feel the pain of losing Maya? Or think to myself “Sure, baby, you just started crawling, but Maya never crawled.” Or “That’s a cute smile you have, but Maya had a cuter smile.”
I don’t want to forever compare them to her. I don’t want to see her face on theirs. She’s her own person.
I’m so afraid that I will never be able to love another child like I do Maya. Sure, I want more. But will they ever be the same to me after this? Will I ever be the same? Will I ever be able to look at my children and not be so terrified of losing them that I am able to enjoy them? I just don’t know.
They say that when a tragedy happens, you never forget. But that’s not true. You do forget. Sometimes for a few seconds, sometimes even for a few hours. But then you remember. And the remembering is the hardest part. It’s like finding out all over again. You remember walking into her room like it happened an hour ago. And it hits you again like a wave. You feel like you’re suffocating and you can’t scream for help. Your heart races and your thoughts race and a shadow comes over you. You would give anything to forget again, because it doesn’t hurt as bad.
The thing that no one ever mentions though, is the guilt. Even if the tragedy had nothing to do with you and was in no way your fault, there’s still guilt. It’s the guilt of forgetting. The guilt of feeling normal. The guilt of wanting to be normal. The guilt of wanting to forget. The guilt of maybe, possible, someday wanting a baby again. Maybe even soon. The guilt that comes from being happy at a time in your life when you’re not supposed to be. Because how could you forget? How could you forget your sweet daughter that just died? So you beat yourself up about it. Continuously. You get angry with yourself. You might even lash out at other people. But that is not normal. Forgetting doesn’t make you a bad person or bad parent. It makes you human.
Every time I spend time not thinking about Maya, even if it’s only a few minutes, I feel so guilty it makes me sick. How could I just forget her? How can I not just sit around and cry all day long and be miserable? Because that’s what you’re supposed to do, right? That’s what everyone thinks I should be doing. I get the funniest looks out in public when I laugh or look happy. People give me looks that say “Didn’t your baby just die? Why are you smiling? Shouldn’t you be miserable?” But the truth is, I am miserable. But not all of the time. At least not anymore. Sometimes things feel okay and I am able to act almost normal. I shop, I cook, I clean, I go to restaurants, I spend time with my family. I’m still normal. Just a new kind of normal. A different kind. It’s not better or worse, it’s just different. I wish more than anything that I could go back to the normal that I had with Maya. But I’ve realized, that I was never not normal. Things have changed, sure. My whole world has. But that doesn’t make me a freak or different from anyone else.
No one ever mentions that the pain you put yourself through is (almost) worse than the tragedy itself. The regrets, the what ifs, the guilt, the sad songs you listen to even though you know you are just going to bawl the whole time, the endless hours you spend thinking about what you would be doing right now if this hadn’t happened, the utter loneliness you feel but the inability to truly be close to anyone anymore. It all adds up. And it makes it harder. You’re going through the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. It’s okay to not be all right all of the time. It’s okay to binge watch Netflix so that you don’t have to think about things today. It’s okay to eat your feelings. It’s okay to sleep all day. It’s okay to cry in the store when you walk through the baby aisle. It’s okay to still want to have sex with your husband, just for the closeness of it. It’s okay to be angry and sad. It’s okay to hit pillows and throw things. And it’s okay to be happy. Anything that you need to do to get through this is okay. But no one ever says that. They say “Do so and so and you’ll be okay” or “It’s okay, you can always have another.” But I’m telling you, do WHATEVER you want. Seriously. No one is going to be able to tell you how to fix things.
Things WILL get better. I don’t know if that’s going to be tomorrow, or next year, or in ten years. But I really do believe that someday, I’ll be okay. Thinking about Maya will make me happy, not bring me to tears instantly. I’ll be able to put her ducky away with her other things instead of carrying it with me everywhere I go. I’ll be able to make her quilt out of her clothes and put it on my bed. I’ll be able to have more children and not feel guilty for doing so. And someday, I will join her and get to hold her for the rest of eternity. And let me tell you, I cannot wait.
People say that c-sections are the easy way out. Well, I can assure you that they are NOT.
Having a c-section is insanely hard.
First, you are wheeled to this bright, sterile room. All the doctors are in their scrubs, masks, gloves, and shoe covers. All you can see is their eyes. Your husband takes your hands as the anesthesiologist tells you to bend over and not move, while he’s sticking a needle inside of your spinal cord. All the while, you’re thinking “What if something goes wrong?” and “Should I really be doing this?” The anesthesia is in and they have you lay back. Your husband has to leave the room. The curtain goes up just under your breasts so you can no longer see your body. Your arms lay out straight and you have an oxygen mask on your face. Your whole body is trembling against your will, because of the fear or the adrenaline or whatever it is. The doctors start to scrub your body, and they are not gentle. They insert the catheter. They wrap the compresses around your legs to prevent blood clots.
And then your husband is back and he’s holding your hand. The doctors keep asking “Can you feel this?” and you say no each time, so it’s time to start. You see, when you get a spinal block during a c-section, it doesn’t make you numb. You can’t feel pain, but you can still feel pressure. You can feel that your legs are there, but you can’t move them. Then they start to press and pull on your stomach. You don’t realize it at the time, but they are tearing through all of your skin and muscles. They make a small cut and then tear the rest because it heals easier. They move your intestines to the side and cut into your uterus. And then a doctor presses hard right under your ribs. To the point it almost becomes painful and you’re just about to ask her to stop.
But then you hear the cry. The cry that makes all other sounds stop dead in their tracks. The cry of your beautiful new baby. You see her taken over to get weighed and measured. Your husband clips the cord.
But when you have a c-section, you don’t get to see your baby right away. You don’t get to hold her. You have to be stitched up. So while the doctors were taking her away, you are lying there on the bed getting put back together. They stitch you up, and it doesn’t take all that long.
But you’re not done there. Now comes the really hard part. The healing. You can’t walk for several hours until the anesthesia wears off. You can’t move without hurting your stomach. You can’t cough. You can’t even cry because you miss your baby. It all hurts too much. You take tiny little baby steps with your catheter bag in one hand and your IV in the other hand down to the NICU to meet your baby and then to nurse her every few hours. You’re afraid of the nurses telling you she’s hungry because that means you have to walk again and it hurts so bad to do it. But you do it. Because that baby is more important than your pain. You can barely even hold the baby because everything hurts and you’re so tired. You limp weakly to the bathroom after struggling to get out of bed. The baby is finally in your room again and you have to take care of her alone now. It’s hell to even sit up. How do you jump up at every cry to tend to a baby? You have to use six pillows to make it comfortable enough to nurse. Not to mention it takes your milk longer to come in because you didn’t labor on your own.
And then you get home. But a c-section doesn’t just go away. It lasts forever. You will be in pain for weeks. Afraid to stretch too far or even take a bath. And then the glue starts coming off of the incision, and it’s scary. You have to peel it off. It’s stuck in your hair and it hurts. You peel it off hoping that it’s healed and your stomach isn’t just going to rip open.
But then a few weeks go by, and things start to be okay. You can move normally and care for your baby just fine. The bleeding stops, and you’re healed.
But a c-section isn’t just a major abdominal surgery. It’s a lifestyle change. You can’t do things the way you used to. It hurts to wear pants over your belly. An area three inches above and three inches below your incision is pretty much numb forever. You have to be very careful not to get pregnant right away to prevent complications. You have a very high chance of having to have c-sections again in future deliveries. You have a scar forever.
But I am so happy with the way things turned out. After everything I went through. My baby was safe and I was safe. That’s all that matters. And now, the place where she entered the world will be forever engraved on my body. And I love it.