Grapefruit & Pizza

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In January of last year, I was craving grapefruit and pizza….

a year later, I sit in my living room and reminisce of,

breaking the news to my husband after our son went to bed while he was playing on his new 3DS,

looking down at the Clearblue Easy pregnancy test that indicated ‘positive’ at 3 weeks,

going to the first ultrasound appointment, drawing out ‘the plan’ with my perinatologist with diversions keeping in mind preeclampsia might be present again, watching our 8-wk Lea on ultrasound,

grabbing a whopper junior with my husband afterwards before picking up J from school,

having the feelings of excitement and being pregnant at the same time as my sister-in-law,

shoveling after a snow storm outside remembering I was creating a little one inside of me,

and cleaning out J’s closet in the hopes of getting it cleaned out to make room for Lea’s things on Super Bowl Sunday.

The how-many-kids-do-you-have question

Met a friend of a friend tonight. We were having girls wine night and just like the usual niceties, we asked one another how we knew our mutual friend. We then got to the “so, how many kids” question.

I said, “just one” careful not to have it sound like a question.

How can you tell a complete stranger you actually have two, but one died?

Conversation stopper- that’s what.

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Thankfully, our friend comes back into the room- saving me from other strange questions I’m not totally prepared for.

Then- they all started to talk about their daughters and their siblings and talking to them about periods and boys and student driving. They talk about when they all went over the edge…”did you handle two kids better than three?!”

I felt like the odd one out.

The woman who did have a daughter but now doesn’t.

The woman who won’t ever experience what it’s like to have two kids.

The woman who will always wonder who her daughter would have been.

The woman who won’t get to give her daughter the things she didn’t have growing up- like the birds-and-the-bees-talk and buying her a real bra just so she could feel like the other 12 year old girls in her class.

The woman who sits quietly listening to her friends talk about their daughters silently wishing she could vanish for that tidbit of conversation.

The woman who will watch her friends’ daughters marry and have their own children.

The woman who will never relish in her own daughter’s beauty and innocence at prom.

The woman who can’t talk about her daughter in the same way others can because she is no longer living.

Though it’s not as raw as it was in the beginning, I feel like I’m navigating this other side of how to live with the loss and how to incorporate it in your life- because not doing so would put you deeper in denial and pain.

It’s hard to face these secondary losses when you least expect them.

I automatically turn my head away from pregnant women roaming the aisles with their pregnant bellies. Not that I hate these women because they are pregnant, but I just started doing this a bit ago. I’d either look and notice her swollen belly and look the other way while we’re passing each other or I’ll see one and just follow her silhouette and sort of admire the little miracle.

I’d then remember for a moment how it did actually feel to have Lea inside of me. Then, the rude awakening that it was all in the past. That isn’t my life now.

All I can show you are my stretch marks and my linea nigra.

That First Celebration

It was our son’s birthday this weekend! Most of my extended family came to celebrate in our itty bitty house.

The day before the party, I set out to make the gigantic pork and vegetable mix for spring rolls and bake the cake. Then I started to make a filipino specialty dish called pancit.

Before all this, I laid on the couch with my hands behind my head. Closing my eyes, I’m all of a sudden thinking about how very different this day was going to be had I had my daughter, Lea. I pictured her and I hanging out in the living room. She’d probably be in a bassinet or in a bouncy chair amongst the streamers, balloons, and the smell of aromatics on the stove… or maybe she’d be nestled into my chest and we’d be laying on the couch together and I’d smell that sweet baby smell babies seem to have on their heads and bodies.

Instead, there I was on the couch, clutching onto an 8 year old receiving blanket my son had brought down the day before. I wrapped it in a ball or a log and placed it on my chest. For a moment, I pretended it was real. That we were together.

I would have been exhausted, excited, giddy. I would have had a joy overflowing in my heart. My boy would come home from school and we’d be happy and watch Lea ‘coo’ and maybe smile at the dancing her brother would have done. He’d take her little hands and move them up and down and pretend both of them were dancing.

I have been feeling nothing lately. But I’m glad I could cry and let myself feel the sadness and ride it out. I hopped back on my feet after the wave passed and five hours later, food prep was a thing of the past!

I cried the night before telling my husband that I was praying and asking God why I wasn’t feeling anything lately. Then I cried. My husband told me it was okay to cry and he was glad I was feeling something. He even told me it’s good to let it out.

He told me he cried in the car sometimes.

God- I know that is You. Because 6 months ago, there’s no way my husband could have ever said that. He is being transformed before my very eyes and You comfort me through him. Thank you.

Looking for a Sign

The box of mementoes is bursting at the seams. A knitted blanket she was wrapped in, the diaper she wore, the cap she wore on her head, and the gown she had on that someone had made was inside. Cards and envelopes, flowers, the CD of ultrasounds, photos the nurse took of Lea, the thumb drive with pictures from the funeral also took their places in that special box.

In the early weeks of grief, I took this box out to look at it’s contents as much as I could. One day, I just had to keep reminding myself this was cold reality.

I looked inside the cap she wore- looking for a sign of life previously lived.

And there it was- strands of light brown hair inside that cap… and it was enough.