Do you remember when you were little, and you would play the "what do you want to be when you grow up?" game?
What did you want to be?
I wanted to be a comedian at one point. And a truck driver. A war correspondent. A writer. To me these were all things to strive for.
Now, I just want to be normal.
I want to be that mom who gets to complain that she has been up all night because of the baby, and not because she can't forget the way the baby died. I want to live in a world where spending the day with my child means laughter and playtime, not tears and a worn patch of grass. I just want to be what I always took for granted that I would be, a normal, happy, mom.
I was thinking about this the other day when I happened across this blog. Ironically, it was on the same day that I wrote my angry little post about facebook rubbing in just how far outside of normal that I am.
The blog is written by a BLM named Rachel, whose daughter Lyra was lost at 30 weeks to placental abruption this past December. As a means of processing her grief, Rachel has made a commitment to expressing herself creatively every day.
I am no artist. For me, having to draw a stick figure is a bit of a stretch, so to stumble across a blog like Rachel's, and see what I am feeling expressed so beautifully through art in a manner that I, myself, could never dream of expressing it, really spoke to me.
There were two pieces in particular that struck a chord with me. The first was this one titled "Left Behind."
For me, this piece really highlights the way that we babylost parents are made to feel like outsiders. When your child first dies, you are surrounded by crowds of family and friends who want to do everything they can to help. Masses of people call and send flowers. Folks come to be with you at the funeral, and hold your hand as your child is lowered into the ground. Then, just as quickly as the crowds appeared, they begin to drift away and resume life as usual, and you are stuck on pause, alone, staring at a mound of dirt and a plaque that used to be your child.
Grief (and infertility for that matter) makes it feel like the sun shines with ease on everyone but you. The world goes on but you can't. When you have been left behind in the world of babyloss, a black cloud seems to follow you wherever you go with reminders of what you no longer, and will never, have. Then, more than ever, you just wish that you could be normal.
For those who are normal, a visit to your side of the universe is a temporary, heartbreaking event. For those who are normal, it's possible to walk away from having witnessed something as tragic as a baby funeral, and to not look back. Their compassion is genuine, but the loss is not their's. They have the choice to go on holding their children. They can distance themselves from babyloss. They can do all of the things that those of us who have been left behind, cannot.
The second piece that really resonated with me was this one, called "The Weight Of It All."
I can relate to this figure, slumped over, trudging through that black cloud, wearing her grief like a heavy cloak that has been sewn into her being. It has changed her. Morphed her. Grown into her. This figure can never remove the weight that her grief has placed over her, and as hard as I try, neither can I.
What struck me first was how central the themes of loneliness and failure were to the piece, and how large a portion of Lyra's mommy's grief revolved around these feelings.
Justified or not, the sense of failure is something that weighs many of us in the loss/infertility world down, and with those feelings comes a greater sense of loneliness.
Whether due to self isolation, or feeling left behind by others, loneliness and failure can be two of the heaviest burdens of grief. When I lost Peyton the sense of failure overwhelmed me. I had failed to bring a healthy child into this world. I had failed to save her life. Once infertility was added to the mix, my sense of failure mushroomed. Not only had I lost my first child, I had failed to create a second.
Seeing this piece offered me some validation for how I was feeling, that even though what I am going through might not be normal by society's standards, for those of us living through these very abnormal circumstances, they are.
Thank you Rachel, for allowing me to discuss what I drew from these pieces, and for expressing yourself in such a profound and relatable way.
The pieces above are copyrighted material. I was granted permission by the artist to re-post them here. If you would like to re-post or copy them, please contact the artist first for permission. Thanks :)