Sometimes I feel almost as though life is the same as it used to be, other times I feel as though a gaping canyon has opened inside me and I’m going to fall into it and never be able to climb out.
Sometimes I find myself genuinely laughing and other times I feel as though I am the best actor in the world – pretending to be sunny and full of life so no one will see how much I’m hurting inside and how hard it is for me to go on.
No matter what, though, there is always this inescapable underlying sadness and everything is jaded now – tainted with the dark hand of bone deep sorrow and loss. Even in the moments when I feel genuinely good, Cora is on my mind.
I miss the feel of her soft skin, so briefly felt, but forever burned into my memory. I miss the feel of her slight weight in my arms, even though I only had a chance to hold her for a little over 30 minutes. I long to see her look at me just one more time and I deeply regret that we didn’t get a single picture of her when she was still healthy and opened her eyes to look at me when I spoke to her.
In fact, I have so many regrets and I can’t let them go yet.
I wish the doctors at BC Children’s would have just told me that Cora wasn’t going to make it the moment they realized it – they knew almost as soon as they examined her, but they didn’t want to tell me until Greg arrived. So, they let me hold onto hope that she would pull through, perhaps in a vain attempt at forcing me to rest. Had they told me the stark truth, I would have fought through my exhaustion and anxiety and I would have sat in her room and held her most of the day until Greg arrived. Instead, because they didn’t want to tell me until Greg arrived, I went back to my room and tried to sleep a little and eat a little. I thought I needed to conserve my strength for her sake.
This regret is colossal.
It weighs me down.
All that time she spent alone, with doctors and nurses poking and prodding her while I could have been at her bedside, touching her, talking to her, soothing her and letting her feel all the love I had for her – just holding her and being the best mother I could possibly be. Instead, I lay on the bed in my room, staring at the ceiling, praying to the universe to save her life. What a waste of time. What a waste of such precious, precious time I could have spent with her.
I regret that we didn’t get any plaster casts of her hands and feet made. They were so small and so adorable. It would have been such a heartwarming reminder of her. Something we could have displayed to remind us how perfect she had been. No one even offered to do any for us. I would think that a hospital that loses sick babies on a regular basis would offer a service like that. When she was dying, there was so much going on and we were going through so much that I look back now and I wonder why the hospital didn’t send in someone to bring these things to our attention.
I also find myself full of questions that I will never find answers for.
I wonder how much she suffered before her brain stopped sending pain signals to the rest of her body. I wonder if she felt anything at all because they pumped so many pain meds into her. I wonder if I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for being so selfish and wanting them to try anything they had to in order to keep her with us.
I wonder if I’ll ever be able to stop crying or if I’ll ever feel truly happy again.
I wonder if I’ll ever believe in anything or have faith in anything again.
This permanent lump that lingers in my throat is always just a thought away and I’m constantly fighting it down and blinking back the sting of tears. But I keep fighting them because people seem so uncomfortable when I cry. I’m not sure if it is because I am usually a happy, positive person and it shakes people to see me so sad or if it is because people think that it’s been a few weeks since she died and I should be over it by now. Three weeks to get over the death of our daughter? I don’t think so. Either way, I fight the sadness and I fight the tears because I don’t want to bring others down.
Another constant reminder of my loss is my body. I have extra fat on my body from pregnancy that I have never had before. I don’t fit into any of my regular clothes, yet I’m too small for maternity clothes. My breasts are still producing milk, even though, ironically, we thought I wouldn’t be capable of breastfeeding because of a previous breast reduction. My hips click when I walk due to the ligaments stretching out in preparation for childbirth. My lower back hurts all the time because three months of bedrest left the muscles weak and tired. And worst of all, post pregnancy hormones are making me feel crazy and out of control.
If I could, I would curl up in a ball and sleep for weeks. I am always exhausted, but can’t seem to get any restful sleep. I have nightmares about dead, rotting babies being handed to me. I have nightmares where I hold her while she dies in my arms over and over and over again. Ialso have wonderful dreams once or twice each week where Cora is alive and well and we bring her home from the hospital and she grows up to be a beautiful, bright, sunny young lady. I have dreams where I die along with her and we just sort of float peacefully along together, feeling content and ready for a big adventure. But every night I go to bed exhausted and sad and I wake up exhausted and sad.
I feel as though I would be better off if I just buried the pain in a corner of my subconscious and forget it even exists, but I know from experience that burying grief is the last thing a person should do. I need to get through it, one awful step at a time until I can wake up and face each day refreshed and full of hope. It sucks, but I must go through it to heal and to grow.
And, of course, the show must go on.