Today marks 7 months since we said hello and goodbye to Avery. It has been a very difficult road, and although in the present moment 7 months may seem like a long time…zoom out and realize that 7 months is simply a mere moment in a lifetime. I have taken time away from writing. Mostly because I feel strangely unwilling to share intimate details about my life. Some of that may come from insecurity or fear of judgement. While the other half is my inability to find the right words to express what I have been going through.
When we first lost Avery I was very open about my feelings. When I would start my writing it was always at moments when emotions were heightened or I felt an artistic form of expression begging to come forward. I would journal out my feelings, find comfort in kind words and friendship and when it was over I would feel better. But that was in the beginning. And things are so different now. I want to share some perspective of the last several months.
In the beginning I was numb. Completely numb and in shock. You see, I never knew I had an incompetent cervix. And with that was a lot of body shaming, anger, frustration and loss of confidence inside of me. There were so many questions and what if scenarios. And I could not forgive myself for not knowing that this could happen. I was responsible for Avery’s well being and that was the one thing I could not have been prepared for. For a long time, and in part even today, I can’t get over knowing that he was perfect in every way but had to leave this Earth because my body simply wasn’t strong enough. It hurts. And it will never be ok that that had to happen. Ever.
After the shock wore off I started finding comfort in others that had been through infant loss. Here is where it sometimes feels difficult because I have friends and family, but the reality is, I had to form bonds with people that understood. Not every loss is the same. Infant loss is a child gone, leaving a mother and father with empty arms. Infant loss is lost time in preparation, lost dreams, lost memories that would have been made. Child loss is living the rest of my life with a missing part of my heart and my family. Infant loss is lost birthdays, milestones, pictures, bikerides, weddings, graduations. Infant loss is a loss of literally a lifetime.
There have been dark days. And then days that were worse than the days I thought were my darkest. But there have also been days filled with joy, remembrance and love. Some days the darkness doesn’t go away. It is ever present from the time I open my eyes until the time I go to bed. Other times it appears for a few moments and then it is gone. To those around me, I know it is difficult for them to see me struggling. But as frustrating as it is for them that I am not fixed and back to my old self, it’s even worse for me that I can’t fake it enough to make them comfortable to be around me or that I am unable to feel better. But, I question, what exactly is “better”.
Somewhere over 7 months I have changed. And I know I have changed a lot. Losing Avery has made me more introverted to my life. There is a division of my life. The before and the after of grief. Maybe in part that is because I have a different role in society now. I am 33 with no children on this Earth, while many around me have established families. But each day I get up, face the day, face the triggers and still find strength to try to help others.
I’ve dealt with hundreds of triggers since Avery grew his wings. And these triggers come in many forms. But I have worked very hard to try to turn the pain of daily events into art. Through Christmas I sponsored Avery’s Garden Reclaimed Memories Tree and now am in the process of working through grief journaling. I reach out to other bereaved mothers now and extend my hand to help create art for their children. In return I have friendships, support and understanding. Does it turn the triggers off? No. Does it lessen the blow? Not always. But it does help. And I have learned that allowing myself to say no to a foreseeable uncomfortable situation is what I might have to do now, to survive.
My body retains memories. Not only does my heart hurt deeply, but my mind goes through days while I was pregnant, the moments leading up to the loss and then the aftermath that follows having to give birth to a child you are not allowed to keep.
But at the end of it all this is my outlook. I like talking about my son. I am not uncomfortable talking about him. And as women continue to have children they can walk beside on this Earth, I will continue to remember my child in Heaven. He is a part of me, he deserves a legacy, and I will not stop writing his story because he lives infinity through me. As long as I live, he is my child.