My life has become a void. An endless succession of hollow days, going through the motions, accomplishing nothing for months on end. I stare at an rectangular electronic device from the moment I wake to the moment I close my eyes, lulling my mind into a stupor to mask the emptiness and pain. Hours, days, months…it’s all the same. I think the seasons have changed. I feel like a building that’s been condemned, dark, empty of life, pathetic. The only true proof I have of the passing of time is my ever-growing belly. Pregnancy is supposed to be a time of happiness and excitement, two people feeling the movements of their unseen child, discussing who he might become with eyes full of joy. Sometimes I’m successful at being excited and happy, but he seems disinterested. I long to hold my child in my arms again more than anything in the world, even though this child will never replace the one I’ve lost. I’m trying my best to prepare for his arrival, in both the traditional way and mentally. Will I love him like I did Daxon? Will he share my eyes, or will they be blue like Dax’s, or maybe both blue and green like his father’s? Will he sometimes make the same expressions as Dax, sending a thousand needles through my heart? Will he live? This…this is what plagues my mind. I am where babies go to die, it seems. I want him so badly. I need him to survive. But I feel like a deep, dark part of me knows that he won’t, and then I won’t either. I can’t have three babies in Heaven before me. I can’t. When will this day ever end?
My heart feels like it wants to gnaw its way out my chest, like it’s infected with some cannibalistic virus. It won’t stop pounding inside my ribcage. The sensation is maddening. Why won’t it just stop? The hot, torrent liquid that is anxiety is starting to rise above my chest now; soon I’ll be drowning in it. I can’t think of my son without feeling the gaping hole in my chest. I swear, it’s almost visible. I feel like I could reach both my arms inside it and still have room leftover. I just want this pain to end and to leave me with my baby in Heaven. How am I supposed to live like this? How am I supposed to raise my new baby boy like this? How am I supposed to give birth and look at him without wishing he were Daxon?
I was not supposed to feel this way anymore. My greatest anxieties were supposed to be long past, allowing me to live a happy, fulfilling life, overflowing with love with my son. Everything had changed and everything was perfect. But for far too short a time. I hadn’t felt this familiar grip in so long. Years. Now, it’s like the demon on my back has returned, grinning larger than ever, its stench wrenching into my body and blackening my heart. The only reason I want to keep breathing at all is for the tiny baby growing in my belly. Otherwise, I would likely let the madness take me. Just let go and not give a duck about anything anymore. Dax would be so upset to see me like that. I honestly suspect that that is why I was already unknowingly pregnant with his baby brother when he died. God knows I’ve wanted to kill myself for many, many years. It’s been my faith and fear of the unknown that’s kept me going. Well, that and a shitload of drugs and alcohol before I found out Dax was growing inside my body. I hated myself for so long, until I became a mom. I’d found my purpose, the one thing I was kind of good at, the one person I love with my entire being and would do anything for. For once, I looked forward to the rest of my life, watching him grow, teaching him so many new things, being there for him when he hurt, when he fell in love, when he just wanted to cuddle and watch movies all Saturday morning. Now, there is the biggest black cloud over my life that I know will never go away. I’ll have my rainbow, which is a miracle because there is no sunlight left. But I’ve made it one more day. One more day closer to my sweet boy.
Today was pretty much like every other empty day. Wake up late, go downstairs, grab a drink, sit on the couch to fill the hours with electronic distractions. There is nothing else. There is no happiness, no change, no little boy smiling up at me anymore. Maybe it’s partly due to the snow this week, but I’ve been feeling extra dark and lethargic lately. I’m restless and bored, but exhausted by both pregnancy and grief. It’s getting to me. It’s really getting to me. I was kind of looking forward to a bit of reprieve tonight when I’d actually leave the house for my third grief group session. I made the mistake of reading an article about child loss before getting ready to go. The page was loading so impossibly fucking slow, then it decided to go off course and, with my emotions already crumbling, I kind of lost it. I was in the shower and lost it. Crying, throwing bottles of conditioner and body wash to the end of the tub as they fell on me, vomiting, because apparently that’s what I do now – vomit when I cry.
I’m angry. I am so angry that this is my life now. I’m angry that I now read articles about losing a child or baby, I’m angry that I know so much about SIDS, I’m angry that I have to know all the amazing people in my grief group. I am so unbelievably angry that my baby boy is gone and I can never get him back and I have to live with all of this pain. It’s just unfair. It is so fucking unfair that he is gone and I have to stay here and live way too long a life. Don’t get me wrong, I am so grateful to have another son growing inside me and I cannot wait to hold him in my arms, but… I want Daxon, too. I never would’ve thought having both my children alive would be too much to ask. There are so many days, I just want to scream and break and stab everything in sight in a complete animalistic rage. Why is this my life?! Why??! I am so much better a mother than those who continue using drugs or abandon their children in the mall or sell them to traffickers. Daxon had such a great life ahead of him, not one of pain and neglect, but so completely full of love and family. He didn’t need to be spared from any terrible fate, he needed to be my son, alive and growing and learning with me.
At group, I didn’t say a word, except when a couple people asked if I was okay. I just said that I was having a bad day, all the while, holding back tears that were screaming to be freed, my head pounding with their insistence. I cried on the way home. I cried on my knees in front of the open pantry because I knew I had to eat for the baby’s sake, but nothing was appealing to me. All I wanted was for my boyfriend to talk to me about it, but he didn’t say a word, as usual. He tries to comfort me just by holding me, but I need to talk about this. Often, I’ll try to talk about it while in the midst of tears and he sits there in silence, leaving me feeling almost abandoned in my grief. Alone. So fucking alone. I can’t wait until the day I die. Then I’ll never be alone again.
Each time I pass Daxon’s bedroom door, I look at it and say something to me either in my head or out loud, depending on whether my boyfriend is nearby. I know he’s not in there, but I think it’s more of s reminder to talk to him and tell him that I love him. I don’t go in often, but about once a week I feel like I need to be closer to him so I go in and sit and cry, usually on the floor beside his crib or sometimes in the rocking chair. I’ll look through his favourite book once in awhile, Little Bear is Hungry, and run my fingers over the fuzzy parts like he used to do. I’ll turn on the sound machine that casts a projection wheel on the wall of different things. The one we used the most was the fishy one, so that is still in there. A couple of times, I’ve turned on the toy I hung in his crib just days before his last. It has a screen with a waterfall in the background that lights up, a monkey that swings, a frog, and something else near the bottom. When I first put it in there, I put him in his crib and turned it on and he was so happy. He got up on hands and knees, making those cute little noises of joy while looking from me to the toy like, “Mommy, are you seeing this?! This is amazing!”
This afternoon, I started having a meltdown on the couch. It wasn’t even anything that really triggered it either. I went upstairs and into his room, opening the door quietly like I always have, and bawled my eyes out like one of those wailing foreign women you see in movies who have just lost their husbands in a terrible battle. Then, I started looking through things. I looked through books and drawers, when I found his Love You Forever book, I broke down again. That was the first book I ever read to him while I was pregnant and then many times after. He loved that book, probably because it had a little song I’d sing in it. He loved music. I went through his closet and folded and put away some clothes my boyfriend had washed but not properly put away. He has this little chubby fox costume my mom got him to wear for Halloween. That was one of the last days he was alive. I has a big fat bum on it with a tail and the hood is a fox head, complet and with little snout. I held that costume to me and cried yet again, not entirely surprised to notice that my arms went around it in the exact same way I used to hold my son.
Afterward, I picked up a few things that were lying around, toys went in his toy bag, baby monitors that boyfriend had tossed behind the rocking chair went into th closet, funeral home bag went in the closet… Then I sat in the chair looking through his baby book, you know, the kind where you fill in all the pages about his firsts and family tree and everything. I never realized how big of a leap he went through at six and a half months. That’s when he first said, “Mum,” the first time he stood by himself for a couple seconds. And I remember these times, too.
Tonight, as I was walking up the stairs for bed, I looked at his door as always and I felt something different. It was almost a peace, I think. Not quite happiness, but it wasn’t just sadness and longing. It caught me off guard and really confused me. I know it won’t last and there will always be hard days and less hard days, but I think this was somehow a step in my healing, though I’m not entirely sure how. I don’t want to spaeculate either, and ruin it so I’m just going to accept it as that and enjoy the moment a bit longer. I still miss my little boy terribly and want nothing more than to be holding him right now, but I feel like maybe this is God’s way of telling me that he heard me yelling at him today and that everything is okay, we will be together again.
One day in paradise.
Triggers are weird. Sometimes, they’re exactly what you’d expect them to be, like the photo I wrote about in my last post or a movie that has a baby dying in it. Of course those things are going to make you feel like someone just rammed a hot poker through your chest. But some of them are so unexpected and when they blindside you, it feels like an attack as you’re simply going about your day. For me, seeing those packages of pre-cooked sliced chicken or turkey sets me off. I’d bought a couple of those for Daxon as he began preferring food he could pick up himself and chew. A few days after he died, I noticed a package at the back of the fridge. It sat there for a long time. I couldn’t throw it out. I guess Dan must have, eventually. There’s still a pear in there that I bought for him. I’m sure it’ll sit there until it goes bad and Dan tosses it out, too. I just can’t do it, silly as it sounds. That is my son’s pear. Sometimes, I’ll just be sitting in the tub and suddenly start bawling because I remember lying him on my chest when he was tiny and we would bathe together. He would get hungry and I’d breastfeed him right there in the bathtub. That’s one of the things I miss most – bathtime. Especially when he got older and discovered bath toys. Seeing those in stores sets me off. My mom said it’s strange things that set her off, as well. I thought being around my friends’ kids would be difficult, but for the most part, it actually seems to help a bit. Only in short burts, though, or my anxiety builds and I just want to hold my own baby and I feel like I’m going to crack. I know everyone says it’s okay to not be okay and to cry, but I still feel awkward letting go and I know it makes everyone else feel that, too.
This pregnancy is almost a constant trigger. I remember how Dax felt the first time he kicked, how his footbecame lodged in one spot below my rib age for the last couple months and it drove me crazy, how I’d rub my belly and imagine all the amazing things we would do, who he might be, what kinds of things he might be into. I don’t think I’ve done that even once with this baby, now that I think of it… I feel guilty for it. But then when I do focus on the new baby, I also feel guilty, like I’m trying to replace Dax. I’m sure I’ll love this baby, too, even if it takes a bit longer, but I know there will probably be so many triggers along the way. All of the firsts Dax and I had are going to be replayed in only a few months and I’m sure they’re going to cut deep. I only hope that, by that time, those things that remind me of Daxon will make me smile rather than cry.