Of course I’d miss it by a day. I’m just not that organized, and I guess I never noted the exact date in my mind. August 8th, 2016 was the day that we found out I was pregnant with Brady. One year and one day ago.
I might not have burned that date into my mind, but I do have a lot of memories of that day. I remember driving home from work, noting that I was out of pregnancy tests and deciding to stop and get some. Tomorrow would be the day that I could take a test after the two-week wait. After the first couple of months of just winging it, we’d gotten strategic this month. The pressure was on.
When you lose a child, you’re committed to a life sentence of dealing with triggers. It’s difficult for those who haven’t been through it to understand that these things come out of nowhere, and the intensity at which they hit you. I never even knew that triggers existed until we’d lost Brady. Triggers stop you in your tracks and hit you like a metaphorical traumatic brain injury.
When it comes to triggers, there are things that “make sense” to others, as in, they can understand that seeing pregnant women would trigger a woman whose pregnancy ended far too soon, and then there are plenty more that are less easily understood. An important thing to remember is that while some individuals have similar triggers, like anything else grief-related, there is no such thing as “one size fits all.”
The backyard at our new house is amazing. First off, we have an actual yard (buh-bye townhouse), but more than that, it just doesn’t feel like we are very close to other people. Our yard isn’t even a 1/2 acre, but I guess the space must be used well. When we’re outside at night, looking up, Jeff and I have both commented that it feels like you’re at a cabin. The starry sky is vast and stretches out around you in all directions. Looking up at the night sky, I have always felt a sense of peace and calm.
You’ve already heard my thoughts on pregnancy announcements here, and now I think it’s time to discuss another, somewhat related, trigger. The dreaded baby shower. Keep in mind, I’ve never been a huge fan of showers… but I have also not dreaded them until now.
I think some of these situations happen because we’re into the 5th month since Brady passed away. Those peripheral people in my life have started to forget that I experienced a loss.
It’s hard to believe that we should have a 6 month old at home. Not a day goes by that I don’t imagine what Brady would be like, and what milestones he would be hitting. I googled “3 month milestones” (with Brady being a micro-preemie, his adjusted age would be 3 months) and laughed when I saw that one of them was “supports upper body with arms while lying on stomach”. Our 4 day old micro-preemie did that… well, for at least a couple of seconds. Those other babies must be some serious slackers. (You can read that story here if you missed it) Maybe adjusted age wouldn’t have been much of a factor with our little badass. That’s just one of the many “maybes” that I’ll never be able to answer.
I am grateful for my life, and sad that my son isn’t here. Those two things are not mutually exclusive feelings, and while that might not sound earth-shattering, it has taken several months for me to come to this realization.
Recently, I read an article about a young, healthy woman, Lauren Bloomstein, (a NICU nurse, actually) who died from HELLP Syndrome. (It’s long, but you can read it here if you want). While I had a very short amount of time to accept my diagnosis, I’ve always understood the gravity of HELLP Syndrome, and how sick I was in the hours before I delivered Brady. However, it’s taken me several months to come to terms with the fact that the decision to deliver wasn’t a decision of my life or Brady’s, it was a decision that was best for both of us. HELLP is not a slow killer, and had I not been under the care of competent doctors, I truly believe I wouldn’t have made it long.
It’s been over 5 months and I’m still up 10 pounds from my pre-pregnancy weight, and 20 pounds up from my wedding weight. (Holla for gaining a whopping 10 pounds on our honeymoon!) I always thought I would be the one that was back to her pre-baby body no more than 3 months postpartum. In all honesty, I used to judge women who “let themselves go” after having a baby. Didn’t they care about their health? My experiences over the past few months have given me a new understanding of life, and my ability to judge so freely is now almost nonexistent. My experience has shown me what motherhood truly is. I think the root is that we all desire to do right by our children, and we can do that in a huge variety of ways. What works best for one, might not work for another, and that’s okay.
The day Brady passed away, my parents and sister came over to see me and Jeff. I know that Jeff and I did not want any visitors, but it was one of those times where they said they were coming over and we knew there would be no way to stop it.
I can’t remember much of what was said, as I was in some serious shock, but I do remember my dad telling us a story of a dream he had right after his mom passed away. He and his mom were very close, and my dad was heartbroken when she suddenly passed. Shortly after she’d passed, my grandmother came to him in a dream and embraced him. He asked her to come back and she said she couldn’t and that she was where she needed to be. The dream was so vivid that my dad could actually physically feel her embrace.
It dawned on me last night, as I listened to a friend talk about how they chose their baby’s name on a podcast, that I hadn’t shared how we came up with Brady John’s name. I even looked back at my earlier blog posts to make sure. There’s a brief mention of why we chose John, but otherwise, nothing. Like most stories, there are two sides. In this case, I’ll share mine and my husband’s.
To the person who doesn’t know what happened to my son,
You didn’t just make the worst mistake by asking me how he is or how he’s doing. I know you think you did. This has happened before, many times. This isn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last time. And trust me, it is far from the worst thing you could have said. The worst thing you could have said is nothing. Think about it, tons of people know what happened to my son and won’t ask about him. You, on the other hand, care enough to ask about the most important little person in my life. You looked at me and thought, “Ah, it’s been a while, the little man must be here!” I know my answer wasn’t what you were expecting, but I’m not mad you asked.