This experience is good for me.
It’s good for me because it turned my entire life into a giant question mark.
And I think it’s a good thing to feel like that from time to time.
I have seen how fragile life is. It was a topic that I had been contemplating before I became pregnant with Mia. It was a concept that had become illuminated in my life. And now I know it more deeply.
Last summer, I had been thinking about death and my own mortality a lot. For the first time, really. At the time I finally realized that I was walking through life like I was invincible to death. And I felt that was a foolish way to live when I understood that life is not promised to me.
Going through this journey with Mia has taught me that death is just as beautiful and just as necessary as birth.
And now, I see the gift of life.
In my mind, I picture two newborn babies. One, perhaps a child of my future, who is born alive. And the other, my Mia, who is born sleeping.
The difference between these two babies, the life that exists in one, and the life that is absent in the other, it is invisible. And yet it is everything.
The difference is life.
What is it?
I still can’t understand it.
I still can’t describe it.
It’s in these in-between spaces that my thoughts, my questions, all live now.
The space between mountains.
The space between life and death.
An silent energy that roars.
I don’t know anything about it, but I know that it is the distance between me and my baby.
Both far and near.
She is both far away, and closer than ever. Known, loved, adored, more intimately than I have known in my life.
Joy and pain so beautifully intertwined.
Life and death, Mia and mother, always together
Just moved from my womb to my heart.
I can’t write about her without writing poetry. There is no other way to put it. She is poetry to me.
I don’t know what it is to have a living baby. A baby who comes from me, through me, and moves and cries and opens their eyes.
What is that? It’s life.
And I have never looked at it so closely before. Now, I look at the process of life, this indescribable energy of life with awe and heartbroken tears.
Life makes me cry because I don’t even know what it is. I don’t know what it is to be alive. I only know the symptoms of it – like moving, crying, blinking, breathing.
And I know that my baby didn’t have it in her.
All I really know is Mia, and how she came to us silent and still. And even then, it was enough. It was more than enough. Our hearts were swollen. I watched my husband, take her into his arms and become a father in that moment. Somehow, in that moment, it didn’t matter that she wasn’t alive. Somehow, in that moment, it didn’t feel like a tragic thing was happening.
Somehow, in that moment, we felt like proud parents, whose baby was just born. We wanted to announce it to our friends, our family, to the world that, look – our baby is here! And she is more than I could have ever dreamed of.
And she is not alive.
It was such a primal, instinctual surge within us. I knew it, and my husband knew it too.
Maybe, after reading my blog which centers on the magical and subtle aspects of life, that you would perhaps expect me to be the kind of person who finds comfort in imagining our child in a beautiful place, in heaven with God, in paradise with angels who protect her. Or that perhaps she is my guardian angel now who I can have silent conversations with that would bring peace to my heart. Or that I would see every nice or beautiful thing that happens around me as I go about my day, and believe it to be a sign from her.
I know that this helps many people, and I honor that.
But maybe you should know that, I am not much like that.
Here is what I believe:
I believe that we are a family.
I believe that she chose us to be her parents for a reason that we don’t know.
I believe that she is as close to me now, as she is far, far away.
I believe that in my womb, she had a constant connection to the divine, and that now she has returned to it.
I do not need to picture a beautiful place, or fantasize how it may look, for me to be at peace with it.
I have experienced the energy of the divine as a lavish darkness. Isn’t that strange? Lightness is often associated with these types of things, yet in my own personal experience, the energy seems to be a lavish, glittering darkness.
There’s an idea I’ve always had about death. I had been meaning to make it into a poem, and maybe soon I will. But for now, this is how I think about it;
Imagine you are standing in a room in your home with someone you love. And that person walks away into another room, and you can no longer see them.
But you carry on existing in your room, never once feeling alone, never once feeling that they are gone, because you live with the knowing that they are just in the other room.
I ask myself, is that any different to death?
Then I close my eyes, rest my head on my pillow and think
She’s in the other room.
She’s in the other room.
The most remarkable thing is, the part that I was dreading the most was giving birth to a baby who had already passed away. And yet, that turned out to be the part that I loved most of all. I often think back to it, and if I could, I would go through it all over again. And again. And again.
After having a baby, I think many women would be glad to see their body slowly shrinking back down to how it was before pregnancy.
But for me, it makes me sad to see these changes. I miss feeling her within me, because that’s all I ever really had of her.
I miss being her home.
I wake up in the morning and watch the sunrise. I miss Mia. I wish she could see the sunrise, but maybe she sees things that are far more beautiful now anyway.
I am a mother. A mother with no child to hold. With empty arms that ache.
My body is still wondering where our baby went. My breasts producing milk for a baby that I cannot nourish. I wish it would just get the picture. But I guess that on a physical level, it is a process too. To accept that our baby is gone. So I’ll wait till it catches up.
Now I am left with a lot of unknowns.
I don’t know if my body can make living babies or if they will all be angels.
And pregnancy is frightening for me now.
I find that when I have a conversation with someone about pregnancy and newborn babies, not necessarily my own, I noticed that I have to specify whether they are “living babies or angel babies.”
I think this distinction would only enter into the mind of a mother of loss.
(Or maybe a high risk obstetrician)
I catch myself saying something like “Oh a friend of a friend just had a living baby. She looks so happy and the baby is just so adorable I can’t even.”
Maybe it’s because now I really know that a living baby is not always the outcome of pregnancy.
There are angels too.
We have our 6 week postpartum appointment next week, where we will get the results from the autopsy and my blood work. We need to find out what went wrong so that maybe with the right treatment, it won’t happen again.
I hope that we will have another child soon.
A child who will have the most special angel sister.
Because I’m starting to see that even if I go on to have 1000 babies, there will always be one missing.
Sometimes my hands, they don’t feel like my own,
I need someone to love,
I need someone to hold
– Red dust, by James Vincent McMorrow
Well, it seems my blog has become a diary for my delicate thoughts and reflections.
But I can’t see it being any other way, for now.
Thank you for holding this space for me to walk this path I never thought I would have to.