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miscarriage, loss, grief, pregnancy, parenting

A Year Ago Today, the Loss of the Unimaginable

by Deborah Cruz

miscarriage, loss, grief, pregnancy, parentingMay 1st is the anniversary of what has so far been the worst day of my life; the day that I lost my third baby. I feel so many emotions. I am overwhelmed and consumed, swallowed by inescapable grief. There is a feeling of finality that I was not prepared to feel. I don’t want to feel this; not today of all days.

Should I stay home under the covers and cry my eyes out like I did last year? Or should I go out and be happy that I made it thru this year? I deserve it after this past one but I’m afraid of having an inappropriate break down in the middle of the fucking mall. Do I spend it alone? Do I ask my husband to help me get through it? I’m afraid that will only make me feel worse, amplify my feelings of inadequacy and failure.

Do I have my dearest friend or sister come and spend the day with me? I need someone who understands how I feel yet knows not to come too close for risk that I might break into a million tiny fragile pieces and no one will ever be able to put me back together again. Will I ever be whole? Right now, I feel like I am being held together by spit and prayers. I want to scream and cry and be silent and not move all at the same time. I am feeling a million different emotions at once and it is too much.

On the day that I went to the hospital to have my D & E, I was on autopilot. I had to shut down every instinctual emotion that I was feeling or they would have killed me. I’m sure of it. I would have died on the spot. I am not built to handle that kind of pain.

I woke up that morning and somberly prepared to head out to the hospital for my 7 am scheduled outpatient surgery.  All I could think of was how can this be outpatient, my entire life is about to be destroyed. I’m not sure if I can survive this. One foot at a time, Debi. Just Breathe. And I did.

My 4-year-old woke up and asked me, “Where are you going mommy?” Holding back tears and trying to give the most positive spin that I could, I replied, “ I am going to the hospital to have my surgery. Remember, Daddy and I explained it last night.

Then she began to whimper. It took everything in my body not to fall down to the ground and cry for an eternity. I held it in and pushed my shared overwhelming sadness down, deep, deeper than anything has ever been pushed down.

I wanted to rage against what was happening. I was devastated and I was pissed. I was mad. I was furious. Angrier than I had ever been before or ever have been since. I hated the world. I couldn’t understand why God would give me this gift only to snatch it away from us; from the girls. It was cruel and unjust and I was so furious, I wanted to scream and rage against the entire world.

Gabi asked me to lie down with her and that is when she asked me if she could say good-bye to the baby. It took every bit of my strength not to begin sobbing uncontrollably. I was afraid if I started, I would never stop. She gently put her arms around my belly and whispered in her small voice, “good bye, baby. I love you!”

Then she begged me to get a photo of her baby for her. I will never forget the feeling of failure that I felt at that moment. My heart broke into a million tiny pieces. She looked up at me with her innocent blue eyes and said, “ Maybe if I knew the baby was in your tummy I could have loved the baby more and he wouldn’t have died.” I whimpered, holding back the flood of hurt and pain that wanted to come crashing out and consume the entire world. I had failed her completely and couldn’t give her what she’s wanted so badly. What she still wants. What I am not prepared to risk again.

We left the house silently. Christina Perri’s , “Thousand Years” was playing on the radio and with every word she sang, my tears swelled because

I have died every day waiting for you darling don’t be afraid, I have loved you for a thousand years, I will love you for a thousand more time stands still beauty and I will be brave I will not let anything take away standing in front of me every breath every hour has come to this one step closer I have died every day waiting for you darling don’t be afraid I have loved you for a thousand year, I love you for a thousand more

When we arrived, I felt my stomach drop to the floor. I wanted to turn around and run away and keep my baby with me for just a little longer. Pretend none of this was happening. But it was and there was nothing I could do but try to hold it all together and get through it and that’s what I’ve done for the last year.

I remember lying there on the gurney, every nurse who passed looking at me knowingly and giving me a half smile filled with pity and empathy. Some even shared their own stories of loss with me. I found myself overcome with sadness for them. I was the one getting the D & E and I felt sorry for them!

At one point, there was a mother and small child about a year old in the outpatient prep area, I saw them and all I could think was Thank God, we are not here with one of our children being sick. That would be too much to bear. I said so to my husband. He gave me a look like I was crazy because we were there with our sick child, the sickest of children; our child was dead. It’s funny how the mind rationalizes things that are too painful to process and it is not yet ready to accept.

When my obstetrician finally came in to explain the procedure, I was already in a state of fugue. I had completely separated myself from the situation. There was no time for self-pity or crying, this was happening and I had to think of it as logically and distanced as I could. It was a terrible thing that was happening to me, but it felt like it was all happening to someone else. Not me.

I told my doctor immediately that I could not, would not, have the surgery until another ultrasound was done. I had to get that picture for Gabi and I had to make sure that my baby really was gone.

It’s hard to accept that your baby has no heartbeat when you see a perfect little baby on the ultrasound that looks like he is peacefully sleeping. Not dead. Not gone.

The ultrasound machine would not print any photos. I promised Gabi a photo and if I could not give her the baby brother or sister that she wanted the least I could give her is closure and a photo of her baby. Photos had to be taken before I let them proceed. I am sure I was wild eyed and overzealous in my request. I am also sure that my doctor had seen that degree of desperation before.

We took photos on our phones. The last photos we will ever have of our sweet baby. I still cannot bring myself to delete the photos from my phone. I’ve downloaded them twice to my computer but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to delete the photos from my phone. They are the only tangible proof I have that our mighty little mouse was here. That’s what we called him/her, “Mighty mouse.” Bella was the bean, Gabi was the bird and this baby was mighty mouse.

Then they wheeled me back to the operating room. As I lie there on my back about to do this unspeakable procedure, looking up at the ceiling, my eyes filled with tears and all I could think about is my two girls at home and the look of defeat in my husband’s eyes as they wheeled me away and he told me that he loved me. I wanted to die. I have never felt so alone in my entire life.

Then, I awoke in recovery. I felt empty in every way and I’ve felt something missing ever since. I try not to cry too much but I have become prone to emotional time bombs that appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly. They are not occurring with the frequency they were in those first 6 months but when they come on, I have to run for cover.

All those feelings that were pushed so far deep down last year are finally making their way to the surface. I just hope they bubble over in succession and not all at one time. Just to be safe, I am spending today letting myself feel all those feelings I refused to consume me a year ago today.

I will never forget you Mighty Mouse, you will always be in my heart and one day, I will hold you in my arms in heaven. But today, I have to let the pain and guilt go. Today, I have to forgive myself. I have to be grateful that you were ever here, not be sad that you are gone. I have to become whole again. I have to live, even though part of me died with you. I have to stop mourning and start living. I have to say goodbye.

For a year, many of you have held me in your hearts and prayers and I want to thank you because if it were not for the enveloping love and overwhelming understanding of my family and friends and you, my beautiful and compassionate friends all over the internet, I would not have survived this terrible loss. A special thank you to my brothers, who came to the hospital and sat with the Big Guy while I was in surgery. That meant more than they will ever know and to my close family who left me alone at my request because I couldn’t handle being pitied. To my sisters who cried along with me and to my parents who wanted to swoop in and make it all better. To Sam, Nikki,Nicole, Maureen, Jen, Jenni, Erin, Dawn, Tracy, Alexandra,Jess (I Will never forget the lantern you  lit for my baby), Jeff, Kate, Carol and Dennis and too many to name who lifted me up in prayer and love. And to my husband,Wayne, without whom I could not have survived this past year. You have saved me so many times in the past 16 years that I am convinced you are an angel; my very own big, sweet, wonderful angel. I love you more than I can ever convey in words. Thank you all from the bottom of my broken heart.

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Devan McGuinness 2013/04/30 - 4:55 pm

Sending you much love! xo

Deborah Cruz 2013/04/30 - 5:39 pm

@devan I’m almost afraid of how tomorrow is going to play out. I think that I’ve been holding it in for so long that it’s going to smother me and swallow me up & by the way, I forgot to name you but YOU were so helpful and supportive last May. I know it’s because you know my pain intimately from experience and I hate that for you. You are such an amazing woman. Praying for so many good things for you.XOXO

Kat 2013/04/30 - 6:32 pm

Im so so sorry. It is very difficult to lose someone, especially a baby. You are inmy thoughts and prayers.

Deborah Cruz 2013/04/30 - 6:33 pm

@Kat, Thank you so much for your kind words

Alexa (Kat) 2013/04/30 - 7:27 pm

I am so very, very sorry for your loss. The one year anniversary is really tough. I lost a baby in my 3rd pregnancy as well, and struggled through the same difficult questions with my children. Praying for comfort for you as you move past this anniversary and I am so proud of you for coming to the realizations you have come to. Tomorrow is also the one year anniversary of the loss of a dear friend’s third baby, so you both will be on my heart. Xoxo

Becoming SuperMommy 2013/05/01 - 3:02 pm

What a heartbreaking post. I am so sorry for your loss.

prince bhalani 2013/05/01 - 3:52 pm

oh..my god…i am very very sorry for your loss. i have no words to say.

Tomekha 2013/05/01 - 6:21 pm

Oh my goodness. I am awash in tears. (I played the Christina Perri track while reading – I won’t ever listen to this song again without thinking of you) I can’t begin to imagine what you must feel. *hugs* *hugs*

Shell 2013/05/02 - 4:53 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss.

Maureen@ScoopsofJoy 2013/05/02 - 11:14 pm

Your words brought me to tears, I can feel your pain, your sorrow with every words but also I can feel your strength. Sending you hugs!

Jess 2013/05/03 - 6:10 am

Deb, my heart hurts for you. You are an amazing woman and I pray you continue to feel peace and strength each new day. Xoxo

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