In December of 2014, I sat in a chair and was captivated by my husband’s vasectomy procedure. Two weeks afterwards as he healed, I mourned the loss of the daughter I would never know. I would never need to know how to French braid, I would never help pick out a wedding dress, I would never paint tiny toe nails. In the throes of babyhood, and having a demanding baby at that, I quickly grew content with having two sons and done. The grief was brief, as the sleeplessness was real.
As my second son was about to celebrate his first birthday, I was looking forward to weaning him and gaining strength back in my body. Growing people is sometimes less than awesome for us short-statured ladies. Carrying two babies in my short torso had given me diastasis recti, a state in which the abdominal walls have been weakened and stretched thin. As I rounded the bases to that first birthday party, my body was almost fully recovered from pregnancy. I was feeling strong.
I was ready to focus more energy back on my professional life now that the constant active parenting was winding down. I could see cocktail hours and kid-free weekends in my future.
Then, boom. Pregnant. Grief. I sank down into a depression, unwilling to go along with something that wasn’t part of the life I had envisioned. My husband and I had long talks about what this would mean for our future.
Embrace Change was a mantra I had picked for 2015 when I found out I was pregnant. My sister had stamped it on a pendant necklace and sent it to me as a gift. I wore it on especially grumpy days, when I could feel myself digging in against all the changes we needed to make. We decided to move where my husband’s job was based since staying in our current city only made sense if I was returning to work. With another baby on the way, I was not. So we listed our house, I rubbed the pendant, cried in my garden, and we left our neighbors who were more like family. We had lived in that city for eight years and leaving caused Grief.
As Reece grew, I found comfort in knowing I would make new friends when I plugged into the local babywearing groups and La Leche League. Raising my sons had become a way of life, a new career, and I was deep into networking within that career. For adult interaction, and novelty, and sometimes, for survival skills. Having a third kid is the threshold breaker. With a third car seat, one needs a minivan. Rub the pendant and buy the van. Our plans of a four bedroom house now became a five bedroom house. Rub the pendant, sign the papers, and buy the house.
By Halloween, I was finally feeling settled enough to feel a tingle of excitement.We had a name picked out, we had all the baby stuff ready, some which had to be bought again. No more Grief. I was ready to embrace the Big Change that was coming and lean into all those people poised to help me survive the first year of Reece’s babyhood. Hubs could tell I was getting excited because I started talking to Reece any time he would hiccup or wiggle about. Hubs was excited that I was excited. It had taken me a long time, about 32 weeks, but I was there. Ready. Breathe in, breathe out, Embrace Change.
And then he died. In labor, I wore the pendant on a rubber band around my wrist. Embrace Change. He was here and then he was gone.
The grief of losing him is at times still overwhelming. This last year has been a year unlike any other. It has not just been about Embracing Change, but about experiencing Grief. All the grief. From mourning pig tails, to mourning freedom, to mourning a city, a four-door vehicle, and finally, the catalyst to all these changes. My Reece. This year wraps up and over into 2016, to which I have yet to pick a new snappy phrase. More changes are coming.
Perhaps my mantra for 2016 will just be “Now What?”