Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dichotomies Abound

An extra hour of daylight. The return of the songbirds. Buds on the trees. Unseasonably warm temperatures. Springtime is here with aplomb. At once I feel refreshed, upbeat and optimistic. Then I notice the families out walking, pushing their infant in a stroller. A toddler exploring at the park. A father and his 8-year-old son playing tennis. And all of a sudden the feeble mend on my heart rips open again. I long for A. I want to show him his world, the excitement of Spring. Share irreplaceable experiences and make memories together. I want to be that family at the park, doing nothing extraordinary, just enjoying the day, loving life, getting to know their baby. From reenergized and optimistic to sullen in milliseconds.

Experiencing such a polarity of emotions at the same time – hope, rejuvenation, despair, agony – is confusing, but becoming a defining characteristic of life in Griefland. Right from the very beginning of this god-forbidden journey I’ve been floored by powerful emotions from opposite ends of the spectrum. When A was born I was elated; so thrilled to finally meet our child who we’d been waiting so long for. I was very proud. Simultaneously I felt deep sadness, disbelief and anguish.

After attending support group for the first time, I was encouraged to hear that these families had survived such unthinkable tragedy and had gone on to live fulfilling lives, but in the same breath I was discouraged because their stories, their very existence, attest that this would be with me forever; this unimaginable reality was never going away. In the same vein, after hearing some bereaved mothers speak of the few hours they spent with their infants I felt jealous. I never got to see A alive aside from ultrasounds. Moments later that jealously was countered as I empathized with women who are unable to get pregnant and/or carry to term. On the tail of envy came gratitude, I am thankful for the time I had with A, for the remarkable experience of being pregnant and for the fact that E and I are able to conceive easily.

Four days after the due date is when we found out A had died (see earlier post for details of A's Story). We’ve spoken to various medical professionals - perinatologists, pathologist, midwives – and no one can tell us what happened. No one can explain why A died. The pregnancy was healthy. His autopsy was completely normal. I didn’t have any condition or infection. The cord and placenta were healthy and normal. Concurrently I am outraged and relieved. Outraged that A didn’t have to die. He didn’t have any anomaly or genetic defect that was incompatible with life. He was 100% perfectly healthy. So why the heck did he die? Relieved because I know E and I can produce healthy children.

All of these dichotomies are really trying. Typically, I am a black and white thinker. How can such disparate emotions exist at the same exact time? It’s difficult to get my head around. But I am trying to accept it. Accept the feelings as they come; don’t judge them, don’t over think it. Just accept and go with the flow. Another powerful lesson from A. (Although I’d prefer to stay ignorant if it meant he would be here with us).

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