How many times have I found myself sitting in front of the computer, trying to share my story but not feeling I can adequately express what effect the loss of my children has had on me? Ask me for stories and I can talk for hours but ask me to share my children and I pause because instinct tells me to protect them and me from judgment. So many people have shared so much inspiration over the past 6 year journey. I know grief has made me wiser but how do I give that wisdom to you? It’s at the cost of my children so I’ll start with them.
In the first year after my son, David, was stillborn and we found out about his twin, Alex, who was an early loss, I shared everything with everyone. I couldn't stop talking if I tried. There was no greater mission than to get what was inside of me out. It felt like the world had ended and all the people who went about their daily lives were ghosts; merely echo’s of what life once was. I wanted to go back to that world but all the shadows of what could have been haunted me and I was tormented.
I spent a long while thinking I’d gone insane. After my outbursts calmed down I learned to hole everything up inside of me. While I was quick to pass judgment about everyone and everything I also learned that I needed to keep everything to myself. I made enemies before I learned not to air my opinions. How could I be so angry all the time? Where did all that anger come from? It was present every moment of every day. I loathed myself, my family, my friends, pop culture, religion and god; especially god.
I was ashamed of who I’d become, knowing I’d made myself miserable. I knew having a baby wouldn't heal that misery. I knew, even if everyone else judged, that I had limitations to my abilities most people don’t have. I was so broken that I could not function and people are going to have to take it on faith that I wasn't simply being lazy. The world and everything in it terrified me. My mantra over the years became, “say nothing to anyone ever, under any circumstances.” I said I did that to protect them from me but I was really protecting myself from any embarrassment over who I was. I wanted to be an inspiration, a strong woman, who succeeds where other women crumbled but I, like everyone else is fallible. Failure is my oldest enemy and she sent me diving ever deeper into this dark hole I’d dug for myself when I lost my twins. It took untold amounts of effort to begin digging my way out.
It took me 3 years to feel I was ready to try again. We were restrained this time. My husband and I became less intimate and there was little passion in us coming together. We were too frightened to be hopeful. What used to be a beautiful part of us as a couple now drove us apart. I had been unable to cope with life after my loss but we got pregnant only a few months after my husband returned from a deployment. While he’d been gone I learned to face my fears so I could survive.
Savannah miscarried. I’d only just picked out the ladybug crib set. After the shock wore off I had so much emotion that my body shook and rocked myself to get some of that energy out. Any woman who has lost a child knows what it’s like to wail from your guts while your soul is shredding into a million pieces. From the moment the nurse took David from me I knew why they put me in the room farthest down the hall. This was no different. The snot and tears ran down my face. I didn't care if I showered or got out of bed. I didn't care what my neighbors would think of the noise. It was too much emotion for one person to carry. I had to find a way to turn it off so I turned to anti-depressants and alcohol. Lord knows what I would have turned to if anything else had been legal. Therapy didn't seem to help. I began to think I didn't want help or I’d be better already. I never wanted healing to take time. No matter what I’d hear to the contrary I believed grief had an end point. I felt coddled and judged while I also missed my kids terribly and wanted to bring a baby home. The ache for a real live baby was stronger than any drug. It was an obsession. I was not weak but people walked on eggshells around me. I knew I was being taken care of rather than taking care of myself. I wasn't suicidal but I hated myself for being a burden.
I was done with this roller coaster. How many years does someone have to wait for some good news? I was so tired. By the time I found out what caused my losses I had no emotions left to cope with the idea that I would not have natural children that were genetically mine. I remember the day it set in for me clearly because it was the day I went to a birthday party for my friend's twins. We got a second opinion only hours earlier telling us our odds of conceiving were "astronomical". That must be irony. I felt completely empty. I knew I had to find some way to live.
The answers lied in action. For years I’d been frozen in a state of not having a job because I left my job right when I got pregnant. I was the stay at home non-mom. A person needs a community but it has to be the right community. That is hard to find in culture ripe with trolls. No one wants to listen to you complain unless you are a huge success. They like hearing about death even less.
So, I made the choice to go to school after losing Savannah. If the universe would not send me good news then I’d make it come. I had to face the fact that may never be a Mom. My grief came out in paralyzing fears. At one point I’d been afraid to walk across the street to get the mail and now I was driving 40 miles away to get an education, five days a week. School gave me something else to do. I didn't spend 24 hours a day thinking about my loss, fears and anger. I didn't have time any more to drive myself crazy. Suddenly, I had a schedule and structure.
When my husband and I realized we had nothing left to give to an adopted child I had my tubes tied to prevent any further miscarriages and we said good-bye to parenthood. You would think that would be the darkest moment of all. It’s certainly the scariest for women with infertility. I’m the nagging dark fear itching at your brain, “What if I never get to have kids?” For as sad as my story has been the moment I knew I was done my soul became lighter. I felt happy. I forgot what it was like to be carefree. It’s not that I suddenly stopped wanting kids. I never turned off my grief. I turned on everything else. The world was in color again. Suddenly, all those opportunities I saw as a kid were options to choose from. Sometimes I’m bitter but mostly I don’t care anymore. Some things will always bother me, like a soldier who comes out of battle changed I have been changed and that growth is who I am. I no longer blame myself or my husband or god. But I know better how to empathize and how to form my opinions. I’m less likely to be so angry over circumstance. I’m less likely to judge without serious fault. I'm a more cautious person and quieter but I think I'm also a nicer person because I'm not as ignorant as I once was to how bad it can get.
Last week was the 6 year anniversary of the twin’s birth. We put birthday balloons on the grave with toys. We said a prayer and this year we said good-bye. It has been a long journey but now it’s time to move on. I left my mark on Utah with my diploma in the other hand. I run a Resolve Infertility support group for women who are now where I was and hopefully that will exist long after I’m gone. My husband and I are relocating across the country to start a new chapter of what I hope will be our happily ever after children.