Hi. What's new? I guess everything. I had a very frustrating attempt at transferring this blog to different host and in doing so lost all of the comments and feedback messages I had received and have to manually reimport all the photos for each post. Frustrating and very sad. The comment and feedback meant a great deal to me. But here I am, on a new space, devoting time again to writing. As I sit here typing this I have Sylvia's little brother, Leo, now one month old, asleep across my lap. Surreal.
In the past several months I have had many, many ideas for blog prompts but emotionally found that I couldn't go there. I feel guilty as not only is it important for me to document my thoughts and feelings but I have had an overwhelming response to this blog with appreciation from parents navigating life after the loss of their child. I want to be a support system. I want to be able to open the doors of human connection in a world that, very suddenly for parents who loose a child, feel isolated in. I can't tell you the number of people that have messaged me or connected with me that simply needed to feel like their thoughts weren't alone, that their fears were valid and that survival is possible. My absence has put my ability to provide that to people on pause and for that I am sorry.
Leo's first month has been hard. I kept gearing myself up for the emotional rollercoaster that his arrival would bring but, like so many other things, could not have predicted the ways that his life would push and pull me emotionally into a hundred directions. With Sylvia I anticipated, planned, imagined and fantasized about her entire life. I had trips planned out that we would take, outfits she would wear, my idea of what she would look like, what I thought her personality would be, every conversation Carlos and I had started and ended with plans of her. We had even talked about what the first words we would say to her would be...moment to moment until I died, I had imagined what her life would be. In an instant, all of that was gone. The hope, the imagination...gone. During my entire pregnancy with Leo I do not remember once planning a single trip, I never wondered much beyond a single thought what he would be like, appearance wise, I only begged that he resemble her, I didn't fantasize about maternity leave with him and Carlos and I talked seldom beyond what was mandatory about the future with him. I simply couldn't imagine that he would ever be here. When your only experience is that of holding your child who is no longer alive, the idea of having a live one, seems truly impossible. While pregnant, I would have fearfully and bravely told you that my entire being believed he would die too. In my head, it would play out that we got the hospital, got hooked up to the monitoring machines, induction started and then he would die. Nurses would run into the room, hopefully it was a placement issue with the sensors, performing any interventions they can while calling the doctor, but it would be too late. We would be at the finish line again, with another child who wasn't alive.
When Leo was born and placed pink, screaming and wiggling on my chest I was sobbing but silent. I remember someone said, 'Teresa talk to him!' and I simply couldn't even come up with words. I felt like I was choking and gagging and numb and terrified, I had no idea what to say or do. I felt lost. It was more than a I-never-thought-this-would-happen moment. It was more than a dream like feeling because I never dreamt that. It was more than an out of body experience because I felt very present, just very confused. My tears while pushing were fear, it wasn't excitement, it wasn't overflowing love, it was fear. My tears continued when he was there, sticky and warm, in my arms again not entirely because of excitement or overwhelming love but mostly from extreme confusion and extreme, extreme sadness. I should have done this with Sylvia. This should be her story and her beginning and Carlos' first words to her would have been 'I love you,' just like he told me.
I am overdue to suck the boogers out of Leo's tiny little nose and also overdue to pump. As I look down on him, his raspy little breaths with his tongue out, I fear for his significance and importance. Its still so surreal to me that he is here that I still won't allow myself emotionally to plan much for our future as a family. He looks so much like Sylvia that I am terrified for the day that he grows out of the baby-ness that resembles her and into the stages of life that she never got to experience. For almost all of this first month with him he has felt like a stranger. I didn't have the anticipation with him like I did Sylvia. I don't really feel like I know this little baby lying in my arms versus Sylvia, who I felt like I knew while pregnant with her and now since have had nearly 16 months to continue to imagine and really feel like I know her. I feel guilty for not immediately having many of the emotions that I hear people describe with their newborn but it unfortunately is just more complicated than that. He is here, she is not. He isn't her, but he's the closest thing we will ever have to her. They would likely have had similarities in personality, quirks, maybe the same laugh, but all those things we have to imagine and wonder about. I am learning more about Leo and who he is and who he will be. I am allowing myself to have forgiveness and grace for some of my more dark and more vulnerable thoughts and I am trying to take my days moment to moment. I miss Sylvia more and more every single day which I had no idea was possible. I am finding new ways with Leo here to miss her as well. I know the take that could be had for some of these thoughts. I know it can be interpreted as ungrateful, cold, unfair and shuffled off into a post part depression diagnosis and I disagree with all of these. It isn't that I am not in love with Leo (I am...) and it isn't that I am not thankful to be experiencing this path with a newborn (I am...) its that I am forever, until my dying breath, heartbroken that I have a child that I will never get to parent and experience the millions and millions of moments of life with.