18 December 2016

In which I discuss the hard things...

It's been 6 weeks since we buried our Israel Blaine.  Millions of thoughts and emotions have gone through my mind over the past 6 weeks.  I have been overcome with grief, buoyed up by so many, and moved on to living what seems to be a perfectly normal life.  I spent 2-3 weeks at home, eating chocolate, and facing the new reality.  But, I've got 5 children, and they have lessons to learn, classes to be at, and lives to live. And so I've picked myself up, and carried on. And, I'm doing just fine.  I really am.  I can carry on normal conversations. I can laugh at jokes. I can host dinner guests. I can even talk about the baby without crying.  But every once in a while something hits me and I realize that I am still sad.

The thing about having delivering a baby at 20 weeks is that the baby is just on that cusp "real".  If delivered before 20 weeks, a mother would have to go to the ER, not Labour and Delivery.  The baby would be considered a "product of conception," not a baby, at all.  There would be no blanket to wrap him in, there would be no need to arrange for his body.  The loss would be considered a miscarriage rather than a stillbirth.

But, once you hit that magical 20 week mark, you enter a new realm.  The hospital staff handled us so delicately.  They wrapped his body up in knits lovingly created by a wonderful knitter. The nurse by my side kept saying, "Oh, I'm so sorry.  Sweet baby, poor sweet baby."  They took pictures of Israel for us to take home to remember him.  They filled a little bag with tiny mementos.  They brought in a social worker, and the funeral home offered their services for free.

In the real world, the line isn't drawn so clearly.  Most people have been totally wonderful, and I'm surprised by how many people have either experienced a similar loss, or someone close to them has.  There are also those who don't understand the loss.  But, what is clear, is that no matter what gestational age my baby was, I did, with complete certainty, have a baby, and lose a son.  My body doesn't know that he was only 20 weeks along.  My breasts still filled with milk, ready to nourish him.  My hair still began to fall out in fistfuls.  I still bled for weeks, a constant reminder of what I lost. But, in one terrible morning I went from a glowing pregnant woman, to not.  And, despite what I was feeling within my body, it only took a few days for me to look completely normal, too.  For this, my fifth pregnancy, I had finally bought new maternity clothes.  Just two weeks before the baby died I bought a whole new wardrobe.  And, just two days after he died, I packed it all away and brought out my "pre-pregnancy" clothes.

And so I carry on, driving to the back of the parking lot, past the "Parking for Parent With Child" spots, because I am definitely not with child, turning off the radio whenever there is a song that makes my heart weep, clinging to any opportunity I get to hold another newborn, which breaks my heart a little, but also ads just a portion of healing balm to it at the same time.

And, I'm trying to make something good of it, as well. I've started a knitting project: #20setsin20weeks.  Having had a hand knit blanket and hat for our sweet Israel meant so very much to me. Never in a million years could I have imagined that I would need such tiny knits, but because of the sweet generosity of an anonymous knitter, I was able to bury Israel in those.  It was such a tender mercy to me.  I have started knitting blankets and hats to donate back to the hospital for other families going through the same thing, with the hope that they will provide the same comfort that the knits Israel was given brought to me.  Today I finished my sixth set, and intend on knitting 14 more - 20 in total: one for each week he grew inside me. The days are definitely getting easier, and with each blanket that I knit, I feel just a little more put together, as though the stitches in the blanket are somehow mending my broken heart.

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