If Ander had been born at term, this past April, instead of at 24 weeks in the cold of January…
… K would be bringing a one-year-old to her 10-year college reunion in May, showing him off. Instead, we’re hoping I’ll be pregnant, and might not be able to go.
… My grandmother would have met her grandson. Instead, she – at 86 – just lost her eyesight completely, and was told she has fewer than six months to live.
… He would be toddling down the aisle at my sister’s wedding in August, and taking his first international flight to Israel for her second wedding (her fiance is Israeli so they’re having two weddings). Instead, if I get pregnant in the next six months, chances are very high I’ll have to miss her weddings entirely (it’s in CT. I’m in Chicago. Last time I was on bed rest starting at basically 20 weeks). Even though she’s my only sister. And I’m the maid of honor (well, matron, but that word is awful!).
The “it should have beens” are killing me this week. All our perfect planning, all those perfect moments, all those wonderful things that should have been, aren’t. How does one move past that grief?
Do you have perfect moments that now will never be?
so many things. If Mabel had lived-
-we would have had a great family vacation in the outerbanks with two new babies in the family instead of one.
-I might have quit my job to be a stay at home mom for a child with lots of medical and special needs- and I would have loved it! I wouldnt been in the career crisis I am now
-I would be looking forward to the holidays instead of dreading them
these are the first to come to mind. I might be back with more!
I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother. Thinking about my grandparents has been a very difficult part of this for me. Sacha would have been their first great-grandson… If I’m being honest, part of the reason I quickly accepted my unexpected pregnancy was because I wanted to make sure they had that experience. Now my sister is pregnant, and watching them have that experience with her child is going to be brutal.
I would have taken Sacha to Peru earlier this month to meet his family there. Instead, I went myself, with pictures. Several times at the airports, I had to answer “no” to “do you have a lap infant?” I planned to take Sacha to friends’ weddings and my cousin’s wedding, but instead I’ve just skipped several weddings and other big events…
For me to get through the anguish of the “should have beens”, it’s been somewhat helpful to focus on reminding myself that I love Sacha for who he was, and I love him just as much as I will have if he hadn’t died. I don’t know if that’s helpful at all… It doesn’t make anything right or fair. But at least for me, reminding myself that Sacha did have a life (even if it wasn’t what I planned) and that he is real and loved… Sometimes, that takes the edge off a little bit.
*just as much as I WOULD have
K often reminds me that it’s pointless to think of Ander having been born at term and that his due date doesn’t matter anymore, because he has a birth date. Sometimes it helps, and sometimes it doesn’t (like when we have four friends all having babies within a week of his birthday this year). For me, it sometimes helps to think of all the things I HAVE been able to do, and wouldn’t have, if he hadn’t been here, though sometimes that just feels forced and wrong, because of course I’d rather he was here. I love him just as much…. I just wish I had gotten to share him with the world. Maybe that’s selfish of me!
I don’t think it’s selfish to want to share him! You’ve shared him with me — thank you 😀
I think it makes sense to commemorate a due date… At least in my case, expressing my sadness at “what would have been” helps me to work through it, and I get more hung up on things if I try to avoid or ignore them – everyone is different though! I’m a little less attached to due dates in general because I have background in L&D, so I would tell people Sacha was due “ideally sometime in February or March”… And then if they were interested I’d give a spiel about what “term” means, I’m such a brat!!!! But for me, the “viability date” (hah, viability, ugh…) was very important. I’m coming up on that date next month… And I know it will be hard. I’ll probably try to do something to commemorate it.
I’m sorry. Ander should be here seeing and doing all that you describe, with his loving parents and family. You feelings of resentment at the should have beens vs. the reality are totally valid.
For me, the should have beens (since I’m walking this road in tandem, my grief for my 2 deceased boys) have left me bitter and crippled. I worked on letting go of the should have beens, in the years after B.W.’s death. I made so much progress, engaged fully in life as it was. I didn’t need to learn any more lessons about “making plans” or not getting too excited about the future. If Zachary were here (and he would be if it weren’t for someone infecting him with E.coli in the NICU), there would have been even more redeeming value in my life. It would have built off of all the grief work I did in the years after B.W. died. Instead I am deeper into the pit of despair and bitterness than I could have ever imagined.
Of course, there are also so many other tangible should have beens with Zachary.
Oh Gretchen, I feel you on the “I didn’t need to learn any more lessons” part. We said that even before: “we knew we were strong, we didn’t need to be tested.” What a cruel world. We are fed so many lines like “At least this experience will make you ‘X'” but we mamas are like, um… we didn’t need this, really. It’s just so unimaginably unfair that you lost Zachary too.
The other day I got turned around in Target and accidentally walked right into the baby section. They had a display of little monster, ghost, and pumpkin outfits. This is going to sound silly, but I really wanted to dress Owen up in some crazy Halloween outfit and parade him around my birthday party (which is at the end of this month) or stick him in a pile of pumpkins for a photo op. I picked out one of the 6 month outfits, which is how old Owen would have been, and even considered buying it. Instead I put it down and walked off to cry in housewares. Bleh.
On a more serious note, I, like Meghan, would’ve quit my job to stay home with our very medically complex baby. I was looking forward to it! Owen would have gone to the beach with us and put his chubby little feet in the ocean and met all of his far-away family. I would be pulling my sewing machine out to adapt regular baby clothes to fit his special little short arms and legs. I WOULDN’T be having to contemplate becoming pregnant a short 6 months to a year after giving birth (not that I have to, but you know how it goes). So many things.
I’m so sorry about your grandmother. It would be nice for the universe to just back off once in a while.
It would be. But thanks for sharing your Target story – I had a similar experience in Target a few months ago! And I was also planning on quitting my job if Ander’s prematurity caused special needs (which was likely). It’s hard to reconcile ourselves to lives that aren’t as planned.