Two years ago on Christmas (Eve to be exact) I found out I was pregnant, and that night we broke the news to my family. The house was filled with celebration, and all felt right in the world. We were having a baby. That was going to be our last Christmas without a child. I hate myself now for assuming so much, and having taken the promise of her existence for granted.
This Christmas, two full years after first learning of Peyton's existence, I feel myself going through the motions, but really not "feeling" the holiday spirit. I don't even want to write out the cards. What is there to say?
"My child died. I fell apart. Your lives are all better than mine. Bah-Humbug!"
I try to remind myself of all the things I have to be thankful for. My husband. My family. My friends. My good health, and that of those I love. My new rescue puppy Charlotte. The generosity of those who have donated to Doing Good In Her Name. My writing. The friends I have met in this blog world. And yet, even among these many things that I list, there is a huge, empty, void. She is gone. She is still gone. Was she ever really here?
I would like to say that with the passage of time I have come to accept this loss, but it is not true. Instead I sort of cope, like an old man with a wooden leg, I limp along, but never truly find my way back to a comfortable stride. Something is off. Permanently.
Yesterday we set up our "Peyton Tree" which in reality is not a tree at all, but a plant. I wanted something living, something that I could try (crosses fingers) to keep alive in this house to always remember my sweet girl. I thought I would feel better after finishing the tree, but I didn't. Instead I was sort of pissed off. I shouldn't have to have a Peyton Tree. I should have a Peyton. A smiling, laughing, dancing, little 15 month old to thank the Lord and Heaven for having blessed me with. This is our second Christmas since Peyton was born, and this is our second Christmas without her.
I hate posts like this. Ones where I have no wisdom to offer, or comfort or inspiration to give others on this journey. I read some women's blogs and feel somehow "less than". They have unconditional faith. They find joy in the season. I read them and wonder what is wrong with me, why I can't see the forest through the trees, and then I remember it is because my branches are empty. There is no baby on this tree top. Little hope of fresh buds in spring. There is loss, and infertility, and a looming sense of failure and inadequacy, and that is the reality of mothering a dead child during the holidays.
This year I have a new nephew, he was born just after Thanksgiving, and his healthy arrival is another thing I recite on my Thankful list. I didn't blog about my sister's pregnancy, and how it felt for me, because I didn't know how to do those feelings justice. I would like to say I had been a better sister as she carried this year, but I didn't have it in me. She said she understood, but I feel bad for it nonetheless. It is not her fault that my attempts at having a family have been so tragic, and it is not my little nephew's fault that his older cousin, the one he will have outlived by the time we gather around that tree, is not here with us. He deserves to be surrounded in joy and celebration, regardless of my own personal crap, because his healthy arrival on this earth is a little miracle, and not one to be taken for granted, as we all know too well.
This year I will sit around the family tree and watch all the baby items be opened, and smile as my nieces, too, open their gifts. I will survive this Christmas, as I somehow managed to last year (thanks in large part to alcohol and some really bad Karaoke) because the world just doesn't stop for me. It continues to turn, even as ours has come crashing down.
I will go through the motions, and fight back the tears with a smile on my face, because that is what you do in babyloss land, and I will hope, that even if just for a moment, my smile will feel good, and genuine, and real. As I do, I will be praying that wherever you are, those moments of joy, no matter how brief, come calling for you, too.