The last month has been a grief minefield. Pitfalls everywhere I go, some expected, some what a friend of mine would call grief sucker punches. I’d say that March and November are generally my worst months. We lost River (our second miscarriage) on March 29, 2004. Technically, that was only when the spotting started, the first warning flare of tragedy. The heavy bleeding came on April Fool’s Day; is that ironic enough for anyone? March also brings the reminders of my Dad’s last days fighting Cancer and the stroke that ultimately killed him. So I guess it’s as much a double whammy as November 5th, the day we lost Aidan on River’s due date. It often doesn’t feel quite as overwhelming, perhaps because it also brings the approach of Spring, and our happy anniversaries. But it still leaves me occasionally blindsided, overcome with tears, or anger.
This year, March came with the news that one of our dearest friends had suffered her sixth miscarriage, along with the verdict that she shouldn’t try again. I think I would actually be willing to go through my own miscarriages over again if it could guarantee that no one I love would ever have to go through one, let alone six. It makes me so very angry that anyone has to survive this. I’ve always found it easier to get angry on behalf of others that on my own behalf, and this is no different. It’s not fair, and I can shout that at the universe for those I love even when I can’t for myself. This is a couple who clearly loves the one living child with whom they’ve been blessed, parents who honor their role, who understand their blessing, and yet they will only have that one child to treasure. It’s not fair.
Other dear friends are expecting their second child. Again, parents who clearly understand what a gift it is to be parents. I’m a nervous wreck waiting for the arrival. I know what can go wrong. I know they aren’t immune to experiencing the worst. I wish with all my heart that the sheer force of my will could protect them, but I know it can’t. I’ve reverted to reciting the mantra that got me through my pregnancy with Elanor, advice from another Empty Arms Mom: Most babies live. Even though at the time, my response to her was: Most of mine don’t. For awhile, when friends were expecting, I knew what week they were on as well as they did. Now, I have a hard time holding a due date in my head. I think it’s some sort of self-preservation instinct. But my soul seems to know automatically when it’s getting close, and kicks my fears into hyperdrive. I have seen so many good, loving parents go through losing a baby. I don’t want to see any more. Least of all those I love most. I don’t want to serve the purpose of understanding what they’re going through. I just want them all to have happy, healthy, carefree babies.
Then there are the little pitfalls. I got past St. Patrick’s Day without hearing “Danny Boy,” the song a friend sang for my Dad’s funeral. I got past April 1st without any of my acquaintances falsely claiming they’re pregnant. But there have been plenty of tears, quite a bit of ‘unexplained’ crankiness, lots of little things that make me exceptionally aware of the empty places in my heart. My living children suddenly seem so much taller and more grown up than I am ready for them to be. And I’m still struck with fear that I don’t deserve them. But April is here, Spring is returning, and I’ve survived another March. So I guess all we can do is keep navigating through the minefield, hoping for the best and climbing back out of the pits when we fall in.