I’ve been asked a few times how I’ve been able to stay so strong through everything we’ve been through and there are so many different answers to that. The easy answer is that Sean and I are both healthy, can try again and *should* have a very healthy baby next time. The hard answer is that I know Deidre is in a better place and not suffering as she would have if she had survived to full term. The honest answer is that although I may appear calm and collected on the outside, on the inside I suffer as much now as I did the day we lost her – I’ve just learned how to cope with it.
The range of emotions we’ve both had is really overwhelming. On one hand we both feel blessed (as cheesy as that sounds, it’s true and there really isn’t a better way to phrase it) that we were able to have her a part of our lives for even the short period of time that she was here. We saw her pictures. I started to feel the beginnings of her tiny butterfly movements. We heard her tiny, beautiful heartbeat that was the single most amazing moment of our lives.
We feel sad, for obvious reasons, although the sadness that we felt to begin with was so deep seeded that we didn’t know that we would ever recover. We feel more love that we thought we were capable of-for each other and for the little girl we met so briefly when I gave birth to her. We also feel reluctant. Reluctant to try again, reluctant to acknowledge the room in our house we have set aside for a nursery and reluctant to keep opening up to talk about it for fear that we may appear weak to one another or even worse…everyone around us.
The funny thing about tragedies is that people wear their true colors pinned to their sleeves-out in the open for everyone to see. I’ve had some real personal angels over the past few months. Some I’ve known for a long time and knew they would be there for me and others that I would never have guessed but have really shown what kind and caring people they are. These people have really help lift my spirits when I wasn’t sure there were any spirits left to lift. On the other hand, I’ve also had some people who have been the exact opposite. Ones that barely acknowledge the struggles that we have gone through or that we even had a baby to begin with. It is still a daily battle within myself to deal with it in a mature way, but deep down I know that it is probably not intentional no matter how much it hurts me.
One of my biggest fears is that Deidre will be forgotten. Lost over time, lost among the surviving siblings, grandchildren and cousins. I curse myself for even thinking that because I know my family will honor her memory forever but I guess that my worries and fears just come hand in hand with becoming a mother. It is an amazing thing to look within and see the changes that have taken place once you start loving and taking responsibility for a tiny being. You would fight to the ends of the earth for them and will love them forever.
I truly believe that the best way to stay strong is to honor yourself and your feelings and accept them for what they are. If you continually fight against yourself and make yourself think and believe something that is not in your heart you will never truly begin that vital recovery process. Don’t live up to another person’s idea of perfect because you will only disappoint yourself. If you feel sad-feel sad. Cry. Eat ice cream. Watch sappy movies. Do whatever it is you want to do to make yourself feel better. If you feel angry-feel angry. Throws things. Scream. Let off some steam. Do whatever it is you need to do to release some steam (just don’t hurt people!). If you need to vent-confide in your own personal angels and let them work their magic. Don’t let someone tell you that you should be acting one way instead of another or you should be doing this instead of that. The only person that knows what you need is YOU.
Once you acknowledge your feelings and honor them, the recovery process begins gradually and you get stronger by the day. Don’t get me wrong-it will continue to be a struggle. You will have days where is seems like every ounce of strength you had was false and your walls are crumbling around you, but this is only natural. After all, that is a part of being human. Let yourself be ok with the times where things look bleak and those around you will be there to help you back up again.