Saturday, October 30 was Trick-or-Treating. Part of me was grateful for the distraction and the 'busyness' of getting ready for that evening. The other part of me felt weighted down by the sadness of missing my baby. It hadn't even been a week since our baby had passed. Because Sammy & Benny love Halloween so much, as does their daddy, I had to do my best to make the evening fun for all.
I was treated to an unexpected surprise, complete with tears--this time happy tears. I put my Princess costume on in the bathroom. It was a floor-length purple dress with gold trim and lacing down the front. It was a Medieval costume and a little too big for me, but the extra room gave my stomach the space it needed to still show.
I remember I had asked Nancy, our nurse, on Tuesday about my stomach, "Will my stomach be back to a normal size after the surgery?" She said, "Oh no, it will take a while to go back to it's normal shape." I can't believe I had asked such a stupid question. I knew better. I replied, "Oh, that's right. It takes awhile for your stomach to go back down--just like when you have a normal baby, right?" A 'normal baby'. More tears.
So with my stomach still showing a bit, I smoothed out my Princess dress in front of the mirror. I even curled my hair like the model on the packaging. I placed the crown-like silky fabric on my head. When I walked into the kitchen, both of my sons instantly came to hug me and gush all over me. How could you not feel like a princess when two little boys look up at you and say, "You look so pretty Mommy! You look like a Princess!" (from Sammy, age 5) and, "You pretty Mama, soft...you Princess Mama!," (from Benny, age almost 3) and the best, "I love you Mommy!" (back to Sammy)
My little sweethearts. At that point, I knew I had definitely made the right decision to get dressed up and to go make the rounds, despite my physical aches and my emotional state. I seriously considered staying behind to pass out candy but Alex had pushed me to go. He didn't want me to miss out. We walked around the neighborhood for about an hour and a half. Alex pulled the wagon carrying the boys and I pushed the stroller carrying cameras, coats and Sammy's Ironman.
About halfway through the trek, I was starting to feel the effect of the walk. When the wagon lost a wheel pin and I had to put Benny in the stroller, the pain worsened. We were about 20 minutes from home and going up a hill, I stopped and yelled for Alex to come back to push Benny. I knew that I just couldn't attempt that last hill or I'd be in for a much more painful night. My doctor had cleared me to go Trick-or-Treating as long as I didn't overdo it. I felt like I was quickly getting to that level.
I watched for heavy bleeding the rest of the night but found none. I was grateful that I didn't aggravate things. It hurt to bend down and pick things up but that was it. I figured that a good night of rest would allow everything to settle back down.
Emotionally, the night had it's ups and downs. When the first few parents we saw on the road wished us a "Happy Halloween!", I had to quickly wipe the tears from my eyes. When I saw a beautiful sunset touch a hill behind our house, I cried. I found myself thinking back to my doctor appointment that Monday. After discussing everything in great detail yet before discovering that our sweet baby had passed, my doctor shared a story with me about a woman who found out her baby also had a fatal diagnosis like mine. She had decided to take her baby Trick-or-Treating and painted her belly for the night. Because things had moved so fast for us, I didn't even have time for something like that. My belly was empty.
It was an up and down night. Tears mixed in with laughter. I laughed whenever Benny said, "Look me! I Thomas!" He said this to oh, probably every person he saw out that night. He was so proud to be Thomas the Train.
Later that night, not knowing what to do with myself yet again and knowing I shouldn't do anything more physical for the night, I sat down to watch TV and found Pirates of the Caribbean 2 just starting. Alex & I hadn't seen it and rarely watch movies together, so decided to see if it was any good. I could not believe how much I laughed through that movie. You know those movies or shows that are full of corny physical comedy? Slapstick kind of stuff? No matter how cheesy, it might be, we laugh anyway. Must just be something about people--we'd like to say we don't find that stuff funny but I bet more of us chuckle at those behaviors than we'd like to admit.
So Alex & I both laughed at Jack Sparrow's antics. Sword-fighting on a spinning water wheel. Trying to outrun creepy pirates. I found myself laughing and laughing. It almost felt good. That was the first time I'd laughed in awhile.
I guess it did feel good but I was mad at myself. As much as I enjoyed laughing and know that it's good for you, I can admit that I don't want to laugh. Not yet. To me, laughter is a sign of returning to normal. But what is normal?? Normal should be putting maternity clothes on. Normal should be counting the weeks--I'd be 14 weeks by now. Normal would be still griping about feeling sick every day. Normal would be crying at every little thing like pregnant women do--loving that I had the excuse that the pregnancy hormone gives you to cry at sappy animal commercials and Cinderella movie previews.
Normal would be anxiously awaiting my baby's movements. I couldn't wait to feel him kick! I had been feeling little flutter type of things in my stomach at night when laying down. I knew they were probably just gas but I liked to dream that perhaps it really was my baby that I felt. I knew that in just a few more weeks I'd be feeling the real thing--kicks, punches, rolls. I couldn't wait. Normal. That's how things were supposed to be. The 'normal' that I knew for 13 weeks.
But instead laughing means that I will soon be returning to normal--that is, the normal that was before my pregnancy. It will mean returning to how my life was before--taking care of my family, unpacking boxes, getting ready for the holidays. It's almost as if I never was pregnant. It's difficult to explain how I feel about this and I hate that I even write something like that. I know I was pregnant, my baby was alive. He was alive for 13 beautiful weeks. He even showed me his energy when he kicked to protest the ultrasound technician's prodding. I loved watching him--every second of that ultrasound I had my eyes glued to the screen.
But the farther from Jacob's passing that I go, I feel like it's too easy to forget. I don't want to forget. I don't ever want to forget. The more that life sucks me back in, the farther from my baby I feel. I have responsibilities--I'm a mom, a wife, a home-maker. I know that. I pay bills. I unpack and figure out where to put everything. It's again just so hard to know how to navigate the tug of war you feel -- you are pulled towards your loss and grieving and remembering your lost baby and then you're pulled back to 'reality'--dishes, dogs, diapers and more. Where do you go?
I'd like to think that maybe it's just a constant blend of where you are in the healing process. I think I need to research and read more about healing after a loss such as this. Expecting a woman to simply 'suck it up' and bounce back is completely unfair. For me, I guess I'll just laugh when I have to and cry when I want to. I hope the laughter strengthens me for those really hard days when the tears just won't stop. I hope the crying keeps me close to my lost son, my precious Baby Jacob. That's all I can do at this point. That, and of course, to keep praying that God will lead me through this darkness. That maybe He's the one sprinkling my life with just enough 'laughable moments' to show me that it's okay to laugh between the tears.
Thanks for staying with me on this journey, my friends. It's still a difficult road and I think it will continue to be for quite some time.