But each time I begin to write about it, I word vomit all over the blog. Mean words. Angry words. Whiny and complain-y words. I think I start off on a bad note when I go to write about that particular topic because the truth is the word "trying" just rubs me the wrong way, or at least did for a long time. After losing Cale, I hated being asked when we'd try again. Because to me it implied that we failed the first time around. But with some clarity I can try (ha, no pun intended) to look at it in a harmless, and even kind, way. "You had a beautiful baby, when are you going to try for another beautiful baby?" That sounds so much better. But regardless of my resentment towards the word itself, the whole topic rubs me the wrong way and puts me in a salty mood. And don't get me wrong, I fully believe I am entitled to feel that way and have those sentiments and it's not wrong or unhealthy, but even when I know I have a right to be upset, it doesn't mean I want to be.
Because I want to complain about the cruel realty of the world and the fact that people are still losing many wanted and loved babies. I want to complain about all the people who had babies after me and are now having successful pregnancies before me. I want to complain about all the people who seem to breeze through their pregnancies more worried about weight gain and stretch marks than giving birth to a living baby. But no matter how much complaining I do, the fact is I just want people to stop losing babies. I want to stop feeling behind and have another successful pregnancy. I want to be confident that a child I carry will arrive safely in this world. I want a lot of things that I cannot guarantee nor control. My emotions included.
My sister Kate once told me about column she read where a woman, "Sugar" (Cheryl Strayed), responded to submission from a reader who had lost a baby. Kate didn't remember all the details, but a few stood out and stuck with me and a few weeks after my sister told me about it, my friend Brooke shared that same column.
The big take away for me was something that I've already gained. My tribe. Strayed advises the woman to seek out other people who have been in her shoes, who have lost a baby and understand her pain - "The healing power of even the most microscopic exchange with someone who knows in a flash precisely what you're talking about because she experience the same thing too cannot be overestimated."
I read some more wise words from Cheryl Strayed this morning when I stumbled on her facebook page.
"This morning I received an email from a WILD reader of the sort I get every so often--in which the writer expresses the belief that I loved my mother too much and that I grieved her too hard. Several times I've been told that my years-long feelings of loss were "not normal." These statements (usually made without intending offense) stand in contrast to the thousands upon thousands of people who have written to me or approached me at my events (often with tears in their eyes) to thank me for putting words to a love and a sorrow that he/she also has for someone who is now dead--mothers, fathers, siblings, spouses, children, friends. Young women. Old men. Teenaged boys. Middle aged moms. I wish I had a camera strapped to my head so you could see all the beauty and sorrow out there. So many people have told me the stories of the essential person they lost and they have all shared with me a deep sense of gratitude that I wrote honestly about losing a person who was essential to me. It gave them solace. It gave them the opportunity to see their own emotions brought to life on the page. It gave them a sense that they are not alone.
I've often been asked if I could go back in time and give myself what I most needed in the time following my mother's death what would it be and my answer is always company. I felt so utterly alone. Like I was the only one who'd lost the person I loved most in the world. I wish I'd joined a grief group or somehow found others who knew what I meant when I said and did the things I did. All these years later I understand that I created through my writing what I needed most. I found the people who look me deep in the eyes and say, "I know what you mean." I found one of my most necessary tribes by writing what was in my heart.
If my truth and their truth feels "not normal" to you, I think you probably just got lucky and I'm sincerely glad you did, but I hope you will believe that those emotions are normal to a whole lot of us, even if we don't express them often.
This morning's email about my "not normal" grief came at a time when I am thinking constantly about my friend Emily Rapp, whose son Ronan is dying. My heart is broken for her, for them. To Emily and to all of you who are suffering or have suffered I want to say I understand and I know you understand and the power of that mutual understanding is everything. It is love. It is light. It is the only way forward."
I found my tribe* in a similar fashion - through writing. This blog has brought me to my tribe. And when I want to complain about "trying," or not being over halfway through my third pregnancy like I should, when I want to complain about the fact that my first child is still dead and I'm still so sad, I turn to my tribe. I turn to this group of loyal and devoted friends who can simply say "I understand" and it makes all the difference in the world. Thank you for being my way forward.
*I'd like to add that I know a lot of wonderful, wonderful people who have never lost a child and yet are amazing and kind and very much a part of my way forward. I hope you know who you are and how important you are.