I can’t breathe, a pit of despair in my stomach.
My baby is dead. My son is dead.
I alternate between waves of despair and then denial. Everything is a trigger. I fed Eli sweet potato this morning, and thought of how Sidney would never get to eat sweet potato, Eli’s first food. Unsure of how I will bear this loss. Yet, I am bearing it because there is no alternative.
My mind keeps telling myself it can’t be real. It does what it does whenever I am anxious about something. It tells me, you didn’t do anything wrong, you’re worrying over nothing, this can’t have happened. But it did happen. How can my mind still be trying to tell me it didn’t? I catch a glimpse of the condolence cards. A really sweet one from my students. You are an inspiration, it says, we are praying for you, it says. From my department. There are no words. Lean on us if you need to. But how? and in what way? When people ask what I need, I want to scream, “I need Sidney.” But I say nothing, thank you. When they say how are you, I want to scream, My baby is dead. How do you think I am? But I say, taking it one hour at a time, or struggling, or something a little more socially acceptable.
I looked at Sidney’s pictures last night. It was the first time I had looked at them. I wanted to convince my mind he was real, and that he was gone. He looked less like Eli than I had remembered, a bit more like me. And his face and lips were purple, an indication that life had already slipped from him, before it began. In one though, it looks like a ‘normal’ newborn picture, a new baby sleeping on his stomach. I wish I had held his hand, stroked his fingers, accepted the nurse’s offer to cut a piece of his hair. And now it is too late. I will only remember kissing his soft perfect cheek, knowing he was gone already. I will never know what color his eyes were, what his personality would have been, how he would have fit into our family routine. I ache for him, and want to cry out, but have not been crying as much. My mind has gone on a retreat, insisting that this is not real. Why don’t I cry? what is wrong with me?
I got an email from the interim department chair. It demands to know if I will teach in the fall or take a formal leave of absence for medical reasons. The option that I would have had, to not be on leave but not be teaching, seems to have vanished, and I am not sure why. He also asks how I plan on getting my grading in, and says my maternity leave was never filed because he thought the old chair had done it. bullshit, I want to scream. i didn’t even know of my pregnancy until you were already chair. but what is the point in fighting, in getting angry. not sure how to respond to him, how to plan for the future, when the future has been ripped from me. angry that i have to deal with him at all. i have gone out very little, beyond appointments with doctors and bereavement counselors and an occasional safe walk with a few people who have reached out. when I went to meet with the bereavement counselor yesterday, i was kept waiting 30 minutes in a waiting room. i wanted to scream, my anxiety mounting, listening to receptionists talking about their trip to new york, and thinking how i had canceled my trip to new york when i lost my mucus plug, believing labor was imminent. if i had gone in then, would sidney be alive? the doctor said I didn’t have to come in but would it have mattered? unproductive thinking because either way he is gone. My son is dead. I wanted to get up and throw the magazines across the room, yell that they shouldn’t keep me waiting. but what would that accomplish? i could say I wish I were dead too, but that isn’t true. I just want Sidney to be alive. I could say, commit me to a hospital, medicate me, help me, but it wouldn’t help. that wouldn’t bring Sidney back. Nothing will bring him back. Nothing can change this, which makes everything seem pointless. People compare this to miscarriages, telling us they have had losses too. their losses are real and painful, but they are not the same. Sidney was full term and my body went into labor on its own. He was big enough that he should have had no problem surviving. but why didn’t he? how could he not be alive? with all the inventions in so-called modern medicine, how come they didn’t know this was happening, how come they couldn’t save him, how come they didn’t try? how come he is not here with me now? how could this be real?
I have learned all these new terms, baby loss mamas, rainbow babies, sunshine kids, joining facebook groups I wish that I didn’t know about. I don’t want to be part of this club.
The few people I have been seeing tell me to just get through each hour, to make sure I get out of bed, so what is wrong with this department chair, that he expects me to make big decisions right now? where is his sympathy? the rest of the world keeps going and expects me too as well. but how can I? my son is dead. I am angry that my body seems to be physically healing. it is betraying me too. how come it keeps working, functioning, when my heart is broken? how does it not know or care?
A phone message from the rabbi, call him to talk. Kind, but what will talking do? what will anything do?