Goodbye, October

I haven’t felt up to writing much this month, but today it feels good, so: hello again.

I’m writing this as a “hello again” to you, but a “goodbye” to October.

This month has been HARD. October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and it has—to put it in the absolute simplest of terms—absolutely worn me out.

As much as I appreciate having a month dedicated to raising awareness for all of the babies who have gone too soon, I have a lot of additional, more complicated feelings about it, too.

For one thing, every freaking day is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day for a grieving parent. Those of us who have lost a child don’t simply forget about our loss(es) the other eleven months of the year. We don’t forget it even for an instant, not even in sleep. So, thirty-one days of awareness really feels like thirty-one days of hyperawareness.

For another, it is wonderful to have found a community of other grieving parents online, but at the same time, it absolutely sucks (in big, capital letters) that there are enough of us to be called a community. One single baby lost is too many.

When all of us are posting about pregnancy and infant loss awareness all month long, it feels both helpful (We are seen! We are heard!) but also completely overstimulating (Everywhere I look, there are tears.) and disheartening (Am I talking about my baby as much as she is? What if I don’t feel up to it today? Does that make me a bad mom? Why does the job of raising awareness fall on the shoulders of grieving parents?).

We are always, always, always screaming from the rooftops, “PLEASE remember my baby.” In October, we just scream louder.

And by the end of this month, my voice has gone hoarse, my shoulders have sunk, my eyes are bloodshot, and I’m exhausted.

One of my newest (and dearest!) mom friends and I have been talking about these things the last couple of weeks—how tired we are and how eager we are to move on from October. I told her, “We came, we did our best, now it’s time to leave.”

So, we decided to do something fun to celebrate the upcoming month of November—something to lift our spirits.

I decided that I wanted to get a new outfit for our Someday Baby because thinking about having a living child at home someday gives me the most amount of (Earthly) hope that I can possibly muster. (I have endless hope of seeing Eleanora again in Heaven someday.)

Earlier this fall, Daniel and I were in Kohl’s, and I spotted an ivory dress with gray pine trees and barns on it. It brought tears to my eyes. When, just a few months ago, I would have happily picked up that outfit without hesitation and imagined Eleanora wearing it this winter, I now have to grapple with the fact that I have no baby to put that outfit into. Instead of buying it, I wiped the tears from my eyes, took a picture of it to remember for a potential Someday Baby, and went about my day.

When this friend and I were talking about how to celebrate our goodbye to October, that dress came to mind, and it felt like a tiny beacon of hope calling to me again.

Now, if you’re thinking, “Good lord, woman, stop buying clothes for a child that doesn’t even exist yet”: I know that I’ve already bought several outfits for Someday Baby. But hear me on this:

I want something to cling to, to give me hope that someday, I will have a baby at home. I don’t need to buy any supplies for a Someday Baby. This nursery is stocked to the brim with everything this family could possibly need, except a baby. I don’t need diapers, or wipes, or burp cloths, or blankets, or pacifiers, or bottles, or Diaper Genie refills.

The only thing that I can spoil my future child(ren) with, without feeling wasteful or silly, is clothing that belongs only to them.

Of course, I want my future children to wear all of Eleanora’s clothes. I don’t want all of those beautiful items to go to waste. But, I also want our future children to know that they are NOT Eleanora, nor will I ever expect them to be. Babies don’t replace babies. Her shoes are not meant to be filled, and they won’t be. I don’t want them to be. So, as much as I want our future kids to use all of her things, I want them to have their own, too. I want them to know that, as people, they are and always will be uniquely their own, and that is EXACTLY how I will love every single one of our children.

Even so, when I was thinking about that dress, I realized that I have no way of knowing if I’ll ever have another daughter.

I sincerely hope to! I so looked forward to all the mother/daughter things that, to you, might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things (mani/pedis, prom dress shopping, gossip about the cuties in homeroom) but to me, now that they’ve been completely ripped away, are hugely important.

But because I have no crystal ball to tell me whether or not I’ll someday have an Elodie or an Everly or an Evelyn, I decided to see if that pattern that I love so much—the ivory background with gray pine trees and barns—came in a more gender neutral option.

And praise be, it does: a pair of sweatpants and two sweatshirt options. Obviously, I bought them all.

I envisioned a sweet, snuggly baby, wearing that outfit in the sugar house at my parents’ house while we all gathered together around the fire and waited for fresh maple syrup to boil. I imagined that sweet, snuggly baby sleeping on my chest and smiling in dreams. I imagined rubbing that baby’s back and seeing those little pine trees and barns keeping my child cozy and warm. I imagined looking over to Daniel and thinking, “God, can you believe we are here? Can you believe that we have a daughter in the holiest possible place AND a baby here, in our arms?”

Can you believe that those days might still be possible for us? Sometimes it’s hard for me to, but I have to hold on to the hope that they are. If and when that day comes, it will not be lost on me that the only reason our earthside children are here is because Eleanora is not. Her death has significantly changed the timeline we imagined for having children, and that means that they will all, always, only be here because she is not. And breaks my already-broken heart.

But maybe, somewhere up there, she knows this. Maybe I’ve already told her all of this. And maybe, she already knows her siblings. Maybe someday, she will send them along to us with a kiss from Heaven.

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