Eli's second birthday is quickly approaching and I find myself this year, for the first time in two years, not pregnant in February. The memories of the last two years haunt me during these few weeks. My husband's birthday and our second daughter's birthdays are also rapidly approaching so it is hard not to remember our celebrations last year and how joyous (and plump) I was compared to the year before when I was just a little less plump and a whole lot less joyous.
But the pregnancy, birth and loss of Eli was different from Wyatt's. The knowledge of what was to pass made things easier but so did my children. For all of my worry about what Eli's death would do to them and then when he did die, having to watch my children suffer through the same emotions that I felt, it was nothing like watching our first child, Wyatt, die, and living through the aftermath. I now know why. Because when Wyatt died, in a way, so did my motherhood. I had nothing but pictures, a few clothes, blankets and stuffed animals to remember him by and to identify myself as a mother. But without the baby those things could not be so readily displayed and I found myself visibly robbed of claiming that identity.
When Eli died I suffered through many of the same emotions and difficulties. Some of the worst for me was my milk coming in and still looking pregnant but not having that baby to make it all worth while. But I was still a mother to everyone else. I had three little girls at my bedside the day I gave birth to him and every day after. They needed me and more than they'll ever understand, I needed them. They gave my days purpose and eventually they helped me to see the little joys again. After Wyatt died it was just my husband and I. But he went back to work and then it was just me alone with my grief and my wounded body. Physically and mentally I probably healed more peacefully since I was really able to go at my own pace. But it was so lonely and overwhelming that I ended up going back to work as soon as my doctor would let me. We tried to fill our hearts by getting a dachshund puppy but her needs and our abilities to meet them did not quite match up so we made the gut wrenching decision to find a family who could make her happier. That didn't exactly help my grieving process. But neither did banging my head against a brick wall over a five pound puppy! It just wasn't the same. My husband gives me an identity as a wife but only my child could identify me as his mother.
So with Eli even though it was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausting to care for our children while going through a pregnancy that would end in loss and then experiencing that loss and trying to heal from giving birth via c-section, it was those three girls that saved me. They kept me afloat and for that I am so thankful.