Rainbows or Lightning
I promised myself I wouldn’t let my blog posts be so spread out. But what I didn’t know then that I know now is that my first 6 months of grief was instinct and survival. The Herculean adrenaline that lets moms deadlift cars to save their kids; or in my case, that let me discharge myself from the hospital a few hours after my c-section to spend any moments I could with Rylea. Regardless, I didn’t realize the way that my grief would hit me when my adrenaline tanked and I’d start to barely have the energy to shower - much less be a functioning human.
Nonetheless, I spent the past year jumping back and forth between the continuums I hang out in. The one where my kid was alive and in my arms and then she died, and then the one where I go through the motions of everyday and try to integrate with normal society. It’s exhausting and it takes maximum effort. If I can say anything about my absence, it’s that I have learned to be selfish and to forgive myself for not meeting my own impossible expectations.
At times feeling like a bad mother and not getting LTLOR off to the intense start that I wanted is really hard.
But, in the midst of the hard things... do we press on indeed.
I think back to where I was a year ago and it’s pretty crazy what all has changed. Purchasing our first home, adding a new fur baby to our family, and promotions at work... perhaps the greatest difference now is that I once again have the utmost honor of the presence of life dancing in my womb. Our second child, our longed-for rainbow baby that we hope beyond hope we get to keep.
I could go on and on about the list of contradictory emotions this pregnancy brings up... mostly I can say that it is bitter and that it is sweet. Pregnancy after losing an infant is maybe the hardest, scariest thing I could think of doing.
I say that and catch myself thinking about the thought-process I had to go through when I was told I’d need to hold my sweet baby while she took her last breaths. As much as that shattered my world like trillions of pieces of broken glass, I never for one second considered any other option than to sit with my brave girl and do all I could to keep her comfortable.
Now with this pregnancy - I don’t know this baby yet. And I don’t know what is going to happen. We have had to take a very blind leap of faith into the unknown and make it clear to the universe that we will love our children as much as we can for as long as we can. But long, painstaking, challenging, and terrifying are all very real parts to each and every day now.
I have recurrent nightmares that I struggle with nightly, waking up in tears. Dreaming of funerals, and miscarriage, and stillbirth, and dead infants. Any and every possible way this baby could die too. In my dreams last night, I watched this baby’s heart stop on the monitor while I screamed and pleaded and begged God to just let me take a healthy baby home if he wouldn’t give me my Rylea back. These dreams, I am thankful to have been able to wake up from.
I’m tired. I’m beginning my second trimester and the mountain left to climb is oh so steep.
There are moments of joy that peak through the clouds of fear and anxiety. Healthy check-ups at the hospital. Moments of peace. Sometimes your self-preserving brain wonders if you’re really regaining a sense of normalcy after all.
And then -
Grief (as it often does) comes in to sucker punch you right in the gut. This week it came following our first monitoring appointment with maternal-fetal medicine at our hospital that honestly has started to feel like home. Thankfully, we got to see baby T 2 bouncing around in my belly and the news that they are - at least for now - healthy and safe. We went through an always sobering appointment regarding what sort of extensive and frequent monitoring and challenges we may expect, but walked out feeling that hopefully, statistics would be on our side. The odds of our fetal-maternal hemorrhage happening with Rylea was less than the odds of getting struck by lightning. Maybe for a moment we could step back into the world where babies don’t die and bringing children into the word is very easy, and that all would be okay.
And then we saw them-
Leaving the MFM unit at the hospital, we saw the elevator door open up at the end of the hall, and I saw a dad with a bag of clothes poke out. When we kept walking, I then saw mom in a wheelchair, glowing with a perfectly healthy baby girl. She was wearing the same hat we’d special ordered for Rylea, and of course the same standard issue blanket we had Rylea swaddled in too.
They looked at us briefly before heading the other direction and though I admittedly do not know their story, the look we exchanged with them staring at my pregnant belly was - “you’ll be on this side soon.” But, will I?
I’m so bitter.
I can’t describe how this brief encounter pierced me. Not because of jealousy - I don’t want her baby.
But the deep, eternal longing felt in my soul... for my baby heaven side and for this baby earth side... well, this mother’s heart is just shattered with uncontainable love and it’s companion grief.
So, looking back on this year and looking ahead to next, what a difference a year makes. And the question I can’t help but ask is...
Will lightning strike twice?
baby Thompson #2... we will risk it all for you 💕🤞🏻🌈
Rylea, please keep watching over your sibling until we are all together again. I’ll never tire of seeing rainbows and dragonflies together throughout this pregnancy!