the skies never so blue
There is no way to brace for this impact: I lost the baby.
I've had to find ways to write it, to say it out loud again and again. It's impossible to sugarcoat it. I can't put a positive spin on it; even me, the eternal optimist, is unable to find some shining way through. There's a really good reason that no one ever talks about this, and that's because it's fucking unbearable. How do you grieve a life that never was, how do you mourn the loss of not only that life, but of hope? Why do we say it this way, my child has been lost, when I think it's actually my own soul that will forever roam, invisible and misplaced at sea, when it's me who has vanished into a violent squall of heartbreak? It is my body that feels quiet and desolate, hushed in unfamiliar stillness. I am the one that can't breathe, that has been blown apart, that is not surviving.
A week or so after it happened, I was chatting briefly with a friend, and he said something that resonates still. You know the path to working stuff out in your head - you've written beautifully about it a dozen times. Trust that it's there for you now. I told him, then, that to write about it would mean I'd have to look directly at it, and I wasn't ready to relive the trauma over and over by way of an impossible search for words. Writing about it somehow signifies that I am courageous enough to stand tall in the face of unimaginable grief, and I'm not. But I do believe in the healing power of storytelling, so I've somehow arrived here, fragile but finally. I am not so eager to share this story; rather, timid and terrified, stubbornly digging my heels back into every letter I type. It won't be beautiful. It will be woefully inadequate, frustratingly insufficient, and I don't know how to reconcile the imperfection of writing in such a way that fails to capture the intensity, the screaming and savagely harrowing depths of this loss. All I know is that I am here. Now we are here. I'm searching for a path. I'm ever-so-tentatively trying to save myself. The yearning vulnerability of barfing words out onto this page offers weak potential for forward motion, as frightening as it may be to seek the ghost of a future where I learn how to coexist with this heartache, instead of allowing it, as it has for weeks now, to consume me. To destroy me.
I've spent hours reading, researching, desperately searching for an explanation. If I can force losing my baby through a lens called logic, maybe I'll understand it, and can some day accept it. But it is illogical. I'm healthy, strong, fit, bursting with life. Eight thousand years old, sure, but I do bicep curls and I eat vegetables and I didn't fall down the stairs. There has been what I would consider an entirely unreasonable amount of stress in my life over the last six to nine months, and it's hard to rely on years of mind-body physiological training via ironman coaching and not believe that there isn't a direct connection there, but in the end, reason is not what's going to bring me through. Finding a path towards understanding won't actually alleviate my suffering, as much as I'd like to carry on distracting myself from dealing with it. My experience is unique but not that rare; science tells me it is random and there was no way to predict or prevent it. This may be true, but I struggle with that interpretation, because of my unshakable faith in a universe that I do still believe wants me to find my way.
If you've come for the grim and grisly details, you may as well click away now. I'm sure there would be extraordinary courage in walking through every moment of the worst days of my life; I am not so brave. The chest pain, the blur of bloodwork and scans and monitors and wires, the panic, the procedure, the crushing sadness on the face of the nurse who stayed by my side, and finally, finally, exiting the hospital into a world overcast with grey skies, knowing that I was once again alone, although I had been through all of it, this entire time. Alone. How do you weep for a life that never began? In this way, my grief feels somehow inappropriate, the reel on repeat, I never knew what I needed until I felt your hand holding mine. Except I never got the chance to hold your hand, to count your tiny fingers and toes, to look into your brilliant blue eyes in the very first moments of your existence and embrace the clunk of recognition that I knew would twist up from deep inside my soul. I belong to you. That day, I drove for hours, the cool wind of the mountains blowing around me, trying to outrun my despair. I left part of me forever in a random parking lot two miles high, shaken and shaking, groping under my puffy vest to find only sunken emptiness, jack-knifed in half while rain spattered down, sorrow wrenching the breath from my body, not knowing how to exist or move forward through a world that no longer had my child in it. My future, my baby, my life, flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood, you say I'm your hero, but you were the one that saved me. If I ever lost you, I'd fall to my knees. I can't imagine my life without you.
It would be easy to shake my angry little fists at the heavens. To rage, to cry out, what have I done to deserve this absurd series of misfortunes? People have said things like, you're strong, you'll survive this. But why has my life become something that I continually need to figure out how to survive? Just because I've so far managed to carry it all doesn't mean it's not heavy as fuck, it doesn't mean it's not devastating, it doesn't mean that it hasn't cost everything that I have, everything I am, to still be standing here today, abandoned alone amidst the ruins of my formerly gleeful, vivacious existence. The truth is, though, who am I to be spared? It would be easy, I think, to lose faith right now. To stop believing that there is a plan, especially when it is excruciatingly painful to be unable to see beyond the next turn in the road. But I still believe. With all the fragmented strength I have left, I'm continuing to trust that I'm being led in this specific direction for a reason. I am not so arrogant as to believe that I am in control; in fact, I have never before in my life seen clearer evidence of a higher power at work than I have recently. Maybe strength - maybe resilience - is as uncomplicated as accepting my fierce and beautiful fate, as leaning into the path I am distinctly meant to take. Because the universe is merciless and unrelenting. The universe has an endless supply of pianos to wallop you with, and refusing to fold forward into your destiny is always the choice that causes the most pain, no matter how terrifying and uncertain all other roads may appear.
Friends have asked me if I regret sharing the news, and my answer is still, no. I'll always be grateful that I told everyone. I'll always cherish those weeks of overwhelmingly happy moments, of delighting in the joyful freedom of living my life out loud. The pink lines of the positive test, telling my doctor that I was more concerned with a headcount than a heartbeat after a week of triplet nightmares, putting the due date on the calendar, so many belly bump progress photos that I can’t bear to look at but will never erase, my jittery excited nervousness in Target late one morning, buying that first pair of tiny shoes. Had I not shared the sunshine, I'm not sure that I'd be able to grit my teeth and now share the storm. Telling your story piece by piece makes each mouthful easier to swallow; I'm here today not for any other reason than continuing to walk forward with my truth, adding another pebble to the pile. This is what is real for me, this is how I survive. I'll keep showing up, I'll keep sharing whatever small moments I have to add into the world, and at the end of it all, I think I'll be glad to have left this modest trail of word vomit breadcrumbs behind me. This is the story of my life. It is authentic, it is honest, it's imperfect and raw and I fuck up all the time but it's the only life I've got and I'll be goddamned if I ever settle for less than putting the full force of who I am behind every step, every breath. This is my tale to tell. It can be told a thousand different ways, but even from the midst of incredible darkness, I still choose light.
This was the last photo I took, and I guess I should probably apologize for my naked fat freckled stomach blurping out of a workout bikini but it's just one more thing that I can't bring myself to give a fuck about. Not anymore. This was the last time I can remember feeling happy. Content, lucky, solid, sure. Because I was so happy. I had dared not only to dream, but to act, to leap blindly, confident in my faith that a net would appear. Actions, not words. I was so thrilled that I had made the choice to do this, so enchanted with my changing body, so grateful, so elated, so at peace with the life that was growing inside of me, the future that was unfolding before just the two of us, together, I thought, for always.
Until. Until. Until the moment I found myself standing broken and alone on some distant shore, caressed by the jagged edges of the sun rising all around me while I wept. Holding both hands up towards the sky, letting the wind catch and carry the embers of a life that never came into being, of what remained after hope was so viciously torn through. Watching some fundamental part of my heart depart, one that I never knew how much I needed until it drifted away, twisting delicately, spiraling upwards into a world where sunsets never were so bright, the skies never so blue. Into the light, this legacy, my dream, a star that flickered and died before it had even a single chance to burn. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust.