There are many layers to my grief. It is much more complicated than death alone. A, is our first child. From the moment we decided to try to get pregnant, I immediately began imagining our future as a family. Even during the high-risk first trimester, I couldn’t help but think of names, nursery décor, watching E interact as a father, taking 4-generation photos with our child and our grandparents, etc.
First and foremost, I am mourning the loss of my son. However, I am also grieving other losses in addition to A. I was terribly excited to be a Mom – to nurse, nurture and bond with my child. And although I am still a mother, I’m mourning the loss of actively mothering.
I’m mourning the loss of being a family. A was born in October and we were supposed to have our first Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas as a family. Both E and I were looking forward to lazy Sundays together, all three of us, maybe going for a stroll, maybe both of my guys napping together on the couch.
I’m mourning the loss of the future I had imagined. We were to have our first child in our arms now and another one a couple years from now and hopefully an additional one or two more. A, was going to be the firstborn, the big brother. We were going to lead the normal (not idyllic - normal) existence of a young family. I wanted that lifestyle desperately. I wanted to be buried in laundry, sleep-deprived and covered in spit-up. I wanted my priorities to turn upside down and worry more about which day care to use instead of how to divvy up vacation days this year.
I wanted to watch my parents in their new role as grandparents, immensely proud and overjoyed. Observe the entire extended family assimilate our new little one into the flock.
I mourn the loss of everything I wanted to show A. All of the important and not-so-important things I was going to teach him; good manners, silly songs, bad jokes, spelling words. The countless things to wonder at in this world: This is what a hyacinth smells like. This is what a polar bear looks like. This is what pancakes taste like. This is what sand feels like. The list is endless.
So I grieve not just for my son and his life that will not be, but also for all of the plans, expectations and hopes associated with having a child, especially our first child.