This week was one of the hardest weeks of my life. It took everything I had to get myself up and moving each day. I cannot explain why I felt so many emotions. But they did not go away. The pain in my heart felt so real, that often I could not breathe. I had to stop and remind myself, breathe in - breathe out. Even a task as simple as walking to the bathroom, felt like more than I could bear. This week was so painful, so sad, so exhausting.
It has been three months, so people stop asking. Now I am just Amalia, the girl who is and who always was. To so many my identity has not changed. I am not a mother. I am just me, the me I have always been. I do not carry my baby into the store. I do not have her spit up on my clothes. I do not have a car seat in the back seat of my car. I do not have a diaper bag slung over my shoulder. There is nothing visible to show that I am a mom.
Three months is a long time. Long enough for most to forget. Long enough to forget about the poor girl who lost her baby. Now I am back to just me. I walked around for 35 weeks with the glow. I was a mom. I had my precious baby, and most of all I had a purpose. I had a beautiful purpose. But when I was pushed out of the hospital in a wheel chair that Wednesday night, my purpose no longer remained. The only thing left was to bury the body of my sweet daughter deep into the ground. Never to be seen again on earth. I lost myself that rainy Friday morning. As I knelt to say goodbye, and leaned over to kiss that tiny white casket, I knew that I had lost my heart.
But now here I sit, three months later. I realize that I am still alive. I still breathe in and out. I still wake up and go to work. I still lay down and go to bed each night. I still cook dinner, wash dishes, drive my car, and talk. But that does not mean I am okay. Some moments I feel alright, it is easy to smile and to laugh and to sing. I can and do enjoy life. I do find joy in the every day things, and I do hope for a bright future. But other moments, I am the absolute farthest from being alright.
This week I had one extremely awful day. There was nothing, absolutely nothing, that could take away the pain and the sadness. I felt so much, yet I felt like I was dreaming. Nothing felt real, like I was watching myself suffer from above, powerless to make it better. So I decided to do the only thing I could do. I jumped on my bike and I peddled. I peddled hard and I peddled fast. I stopped only when I got to the school. There sitting in front of me, was the playground. The reality of what that playground meant to me settled deep inside my heart. All of my lost hopes and dreams stood in front of me, taunting my very soul. As the tears fell, I walked slowly to the swing. Now I have never told this to anyone, but my biggest regret is that I never took Caroline on a swing. The entire time I was pregnant, I had so many opportunities, but I just couldn't bring myself to swing with her. In some ways, getting on a swing was very final. If I chose to swing, it meant in my eyes, that she would never swing again. But now I am so angry at myself. I never had that experience with my daughter. We never shared that moment together. Now three months later, I knew that I had to face it. So I sat down and began to pump. It felt so natural, like I had been swinging my whole life. As I felt the wind in my hair, and my legs stretched toward the darkening sky, I felt alive. The tears continued to fall as I poured out my heart to God. I did not feel better, but those simple motions helped me to feel real again.
The journey of grief is entirely different than I ever anticipated. They always said that time heals. Well to tell you the truth, time has not healed me. It feels like the band aid I put on my heart is being slowly and painfully ripped off, to reveal a much deeper wound than a band aid could ever heal. The more of my heart that I expose, the more painful and emotional I get. The first two months I was plagued by nightmares. The kind that keep you wide eyed and sweating all night long. But now I am so physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted by the time I finally close my eyes, that my sleep is now just dark and heavy. The last time I had a happy dream I could not tell you, but at least the nightmares have stopped.
The new reality for me is to hold all emotions back during the day. When I interact with others, I am just the old Amalia. The girl who was, but no longer is, a mother. It is hard to be a mother when no one talks about her. When they look at you with pity in their eyes, but not a word about her on their tongues. I hate being that girl. The girl people avoid, because they don't know what to say or what to do. I hate it that I never hear her name spoken, as if she did not exist. I hate having to congratulate those who have a newborn baby, or who are expecting a baby, but nobody even mentions my baby. I hate having to smile and agree when others grumble and complain about their babies and their kids, or the pains of being pregnant. I would give my life to have that morning sickness again, or to be exhausted from waking up countless times throughout the night with my crying baby. But that is my reality now. I will always have to see what others have, and realize it is what I will never have with Caroline.
This post has been incredibly difficult to write. I apologize if it is hard to follow. But this week I have felt so many emotions. I have had so many ups and downs. It has been a very mixed up and crazy week. So somehow this post just seems fitting. I will never be able to fully express in words the journey that I am walking. The goal of this post is not to make you feel sorry for me. Because the truth is that I do not want any pity. This is the road that God has chosen for me, and I accept that completely. But most of all, I want everyone to know that it is not by my strength that I get up each day. On my own I am so weak. I am just barely hanging on. But God did not give me this awful road to walk alone. He gives me His strength, when I have none of my own. The grief I feel is overwhelming, and I wonder often how my poor body manages to keep going. Grief affects your body not only emotionally, but also physically and mentally. It consumes your every thought, feeling, movement, and heartbeat. My grief counselor told me that many people do not realize how much energy and strength it takes to grieve. So not only are you using every ounce of your energy to grieve, process, and feel, but then you are still expected to go about your day as normal. I often get angry at myself for being tired all the time, and for forgetting things. I get angry at myself for not being as organized as I was before. I get angry at myself for wasting time. I get angry at myself when I do not accomplish important tasks. I get angry at myself for failing at just about everything I do lately. It is so hard to remember that it is okay to fail, and to forget, and to not be productive all the time. I am hard on myself, accepting nothing but my best. Therefore, I am learning that instead of beating myself up all of the time, when I do not meet my expectations. I need to turn to God, who accepts me as I am. I know that he does not expect me to be perfect. Instead, I find that I can be real with him. He loves me for who I am right now, and not for who I wish I could be. He loves me as the grieving mother that I am.
In three months my life has changed drastically. I wish that I could say it was for the good, but honestly in this moment, I do not know. What I do know is that my life has only gotten harder. The grief has gotten more intense, the pain has gotten deeper, the hole in my heart has gotten bigger, and accepting myself has gotten much more difficult. But my God has become more real. He has drawn so close to me, that sometimes I feel like he is breathing for me. In those moments, when all I see and feel is darkness, he pulls me close and I can almost feel His arms wrapped around me. This has been the one of the worst weeks of my life, but He has remained faithful and constant. And for that reason, I still have joy in my heart!