During my last pregnancy 3 years ago, I kept Kleenex stuffed up all my sleeves like my grandmother used to do because I was always on the brink of tears. I once sang Christmas carols during my entire hour-long commute because everything on the radio made me cry too much to see the road.
You see, my mother had passed away in 1988, my father in 2008; I lost two uncles, in 2002 and 2008; in the past year, I lost my two remaining grandparents. Losses have a way of compounding, and when pregnancy hormones are in the equation the pain can be exponential. Powerful enough to make Guns ‘N Roses songs tear-jerkers.
I have walked around today in 2015 with my face unnaturally bunched, trying not to cry when I am in public. Now there are no grandparents or parents to call upon for help in the hierarchy of my family tree, and my own little family just moved over a thousand miles to a new city during my first trimester. This pregnancy, the grief promptly set up shop on the left side of our bed where I spend increasing amounts of time
When I look inward to self-diagnose the endless tears, I am reminded of a question posed by an insensitive former friend 6 months after losing my father, “Why are you still grieving?”
Here’s what I’d love to tell him:
Because when I found out the news of my pregnancy, my hand lingered over the phone after I called my siblings. Who do I tell now? There are no phones anymore on the other end of my instincts.
Because when other people have parents fawning all over them during their pregnancy, taking them out for pedicures and buying “My Grandma Rocks” and “Grandpa’s Little Slugger” onesies for the baby, I drive solo to Babies R’ Us to buy what I know we need: tiny fingernail clippers and those awful nose bulb snot remover thingies.
Because watching so many loved ones face death and miss out on the lives of their children makes me terrified it will happen to me. I worry that my beautiful 3-year-old and the one I haven’t met yet will have to grow up knowing too early what real grief is, and I that will miss out on the multitude of milestones that will lead them into and through adulthood. I worry that my husband will be left to try to do it on his own like my Dad had to.
Because my kids will never know these beautiful souls and will only be able to dutifully point to their photos and recite their names and associations.
Because when your loved ones were not lost recently, nobody anticipates your struggle, so nobody asks. It can be lonely.
[This is where my chin raises defiantly]
So how do I know it will fade (again)?
Because I know to ask for help. I have incredible siblings, friends, and in-laws who answer my calls when I need them.
Because my husband will sit and keep the tissues flowing for as long as I need him to do so.
Because when I held my first son for the first time, that little life became the most important thing to me, overshadowing my losses. I can only hope that in 9 more weeks, the immediate love of welcoming a second child into the world will again replace the pain I feel right now.
Mostly, because every once in a while, my son gets my grandfather’s glint in his eye, or my mother’s focused expression, and I know that they are all right there for me to silently appreciate and it’s my turn to be that person to another human being.
I’ve got this.