I wrote the following on the one month anniversary of losing Teddy. I was sobbing. Over the cruel reminders surrounding me, the injustice of losing my healthy newborn son, the senselessness of it all. I was thinking of editing it later, but after re-reading it, I feel like I don’t need to make any changes. It’s raw and it’s real and it’s what I was feeling. It ends with a mantra I’ve been telling myself over and over and the lyrics to an S. Carey song that has spoken to me since Teddy’s passing.
I’m sitting here on the verge of tears, feeling so helpless yet also so angry and wanting to throw or punch something at the same time. I’ve never been an angry person. Never had rage or what you’d call a temper. But when you see the preemie sized diapers and wipes that you can no longer use because your newborn son is dead, it just kind of makes you incredibly sad and angry at the world. I’m surrounded by reminders that he isn’t here. I see an herbal bath mixture gifted to me by the birth center that I was supposed to use with Teddy at some point during his first week of life. Oh how I was looking forward to that first bath with him.
The new Solly Baby wrap I ordered as a back up (in case of spit ups) sits unopened on top of the newborn and preemie sized clothes we had washed, ready to dress him in. My body is soft and overweight and my breasts still feel like they’re about to leak milk every single day, even though I haven’t pumped in over a week. Frozen milk bags are overflowing in our tiny freezer; seeing them makes my heart drop. Preemie sized outfits I ordered the day he was born (because we were shocked at his size) are finally returned (they arrived the day he died…). The diaper pail hasn’t been emptied. It’s been over four weeks and I can’t bring myself to empty it. We were celebrating his poopy diapers just hours before he died. The meconium had switched to brown and seedy stools and I was almost jumping up and down with joy. I told Teddy I was so proud of him. Ben laughed and made fun of me, but I could tell he was happy, too.
I see a woman at Target, pushing around her two children in the double stroller we were going to purchase, the baby in his carseat on top and the toddler boy on the bottom, whining about something (as toddlers always do). I tear up and hold back tears because that should have been me.
Weight that otherwise would have been shed quickly due to breastfeeding clings to my body in uncomfortable ways; a horrible reminder of how things aren’t as they should be. It’s unnatural that Teddy isn’t here and that I’m not breastfeeding. My body is itself a physical reminder of what should have been but isn’t. Sometimes my anger fixates on this excess body weight. Teddy should be here and he should be benefiting from the weight I gained. It should be nourishing him and helping him gain weight himself, not sticking to me with such stubbornness and intensity. He would have been five pounds by now, for sure. We saw a glimpse of some neck rolls forming Sunday night, Easter Sunday. I was so happy to see that glimmer of hope. He was doing everything a healthy newborn should and he was making progress in leaps and bounds. In just twelve hours he had made a complete one eighty. I was so happy, so encouraged, so proud. My little fighter was working so hard. I told him over and over again how proud I was. With each swallow of milk I applauded him and his efforts. He was doing it. We were doing it. Soon we wouldn’t have to work so hard.
I did my best. I did my best. I did my best.
Every time I see the west
A hole fills up inside my chest
The meadow where I left you there
Has washed away in winter’s grey
Every time I see your face
It washes all the skin away
And hold you fast, embody me
You left me with the holes you see
You can stay, you can stay
I wandered off but found the way
And all these cliffs surrounding me
The holes are patched, in thanks in part to you
– ‘Meadow’, S. Carey