This week is the anniversary of my lost baby's estimated due date. Happy unbirthday, baby. Unhappy, bittersweet day for me. In a parallel universe, I'm in the middle of posting birthday photos of you up on my blog ...
For the longest time I spent a rueful portion of my time in that aforementioned parallel universe, a place where my angel baby did not have a fatal genetic problem. That Wabi was sashaying around town with an unscarred body and an unbattered mind, a rosy-cheeked little bub strapped into her Bjorn as she walked to the park with Big A to meet friends, eat tasty, organic snacks, and enjoy witty reparte about whatever idiotic thing was cresting the news cycle that day. Coincidentally, that Wabi appeared particularly unwrinkled and svelte, and had a better job than I do. And I would call her a bitch out of envy, but of course she was too nice to wear the mantle of bitch ... oh, and you should have seen that Wabi's house. It was fantastic.
Marking time in that fabled parallel universe was sweet at first. So much better than the real world. But the problem was I could never find any balance between there and here. After awhile focusing so much on what might have been was more destructive than good. It's like drinking: One drink loosens you up to enjoy the party, but fifteen will break up the party. I could never stop at one. There was no moderation in my grief, only obsession and bottomless fury and sadness. I could not mourn within certain proscribed hours of the day, leaving blocks of time for quality time with family, work projects, and a little yard work. Everything in life was groaning at the seams, ready to fall apart. Yet all I could do was yearn that it was different. Yearning of course does not actually make anything real different, unfortunate as that is.
The biggest gift Little A gave me was the ability to let go of that phantom universe and to live resolutely in the present. There is a moment in the movie "Waitress" where the main character looks at her baby and says "OH MY GOD," and suddenly her life snaps into focus, and all sorts of good things that seemed impossible before that moment are suddenly within reach. That would have seemed like a ridiculous writing conceit to me before I had Little A. But afterwards, I just sat in the theater squeezing DH's hand and nodding. Yeah, that's how it was. Thank God. That's how it was.
So, I am here now. Not holding a phantom baby in my mind, but jiggling a real one on my knee. I am here with the poop accidents and knock-knock jokes and the prodigious amounts of drool, not to mention the ever-growing spider colony in the garage. I am here for quiet snuggles with the kids on the couch. I am here for those other not-so-endearing times when the vein in my forehead actually bursts through the skin and pulses like a garden hose because something has irritated me to the brink of death. Day in and day out, sometimes overjoyed and sometimes not, I am caught in the flowing river of real life again. Here.
And yet, as right as this feels, on this particular day I cannot help but think of my little angel baby again and yearn for her in the old, not-so-healthy way. She deserved to be more than a lesson in carpe diem for her family. She brought that too and we'll take it, but c'mon. She deserved the chance for a life that a random genetic mutation robbed her from ever being able to have. There is such sadness in that. This is the part of the grief that will never go away, no matter how far away I travel from parallel-universe land. The feelings I have about my own hurts have changed. Anger and what-ifs can and do fade to something else. But the things that trisomy 18 took from my baby remain unchanged. And I will always feel those losses for my baby, on her behalf.