This weekend has been hard for me, although I feel like I could start every post like that, and probably have. But I have been crying more again, physically aching for Sidney, my pregnancy with him, and my dreams of what he would have been like. I still have moments where it seems like this can’t be real, that I can’t really be the mother of a stillborn baby, a death that still makes no sense to me, and probably never will. I have been trying really hard to schedule activities for the weekends so that Eli can feel like we are still a part of living. On Saturday, we had friends come up from DC with their 3 year old. They are expecting their second child in November, and are very considerate about how I am doing, and do their best to not talk about their pregnancy. But of course, at this point, the pregnancy is very visible, and my heart ached for what I don’t have. Ached and ached. And I just felt so tired. I almost cancelled their visit, and went to hide upstairs and numerous points.
And then today I met another friend and her three year old at the Science Center, which was filled with pregnant women, toddlers and young children. And again, I just felt so tired. I didn’t want to be there, and I just wanted to hide. Three-year olds require so much energy–and then I think, ‘what’s wrong with me that I am so drained and I only have one child? Maybe I didn’t deserve two.’ I don’t really think the world works that way, and I have been told that grief is draining, but thoughts about my incompetence in general are quite frequent these days.
We finished the day going to dinner at another family’s house. We don’t know this family very well (we don’t know anyone in this city very well, since we haven’t been here that long) but they reached out and we like them. They have three children, ranging in age from six to 20 months. It was mostly a nice dinner, almost the type of dinner we would have had before losing Sidney, the children playing, adults talking, a walk to get ice cream nearby. Really what would have been quite a nice summer night, except that someone was notably missing. As we walked home, one of their sons ran up ahead, and the father had to chase after him, while the mother carried the 20 month old who refused to ride in his stroller (Eli was riding on my husband’s shoulders). So as the all ran off, the father turned to me and said, ‘Can you grab the stroller? You don’t mind, do you?’ So the evening somehow ended with me pushing an empty double stroller down the street. I couldn’t really say no. I wasn’t carrying Eli, and I didn’t have the 2.5 month old that I thought I would strapped to my chest. So yes, I could grab the stroller. What else did I have to do? A deranged baby loss mom pushing an empty double stroller down the street.
This weekend, it had also occurred to me to show up to one of those stroller strides classes with an empty stroller. I would never actually do this, since it would be horrible on so many levels, but after Eli, I would go to the park with a group of mom friends and our babies, and work out. I am still about 15 pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight, and seem to have stopped losing. For obvious reasons, I am not going to join some type of postpartum exercise class. But I wonder how people would react if I showed up with my empty stroller….
This was not the first time I have pushed an empty double stroller down the street before. During the beginning of my pregnancy with Sidney, someone on the neighborhood listserv posted that she was giving away a sit and stand stroller. I emailed that I would love it, and since she lived nearby, walked over to her house to pick it up. I was wearing sweatpants, hair not brushed, sick to my stomach as I was for much of my pregnancy with Sidney. I remember walking home through the neighborhood with the empty stroller, wondering if I looked crazy, what people might be thinking. And now, that empty double stroller, folded in our basement, comes back to haunt me, my walk through the neighborhood an eerie prediction of my current situation, the label of delusion baby loss mom feeling not entirely unfitting.