I think of Finnian and Maisie every single day, usually for most of the day. So much of the time I feel robbed of my life with them - my thoughts vacillate between dreams of what our time together should have been like and realizations of what our time together was. Despite all this pain, I am full of love. I am full of so much love it makes me feel swollen.
People have been very supportive for the most part. I am grateful to have wonderful family and a few close friends and colleagues that have given me permission to grieve openly, tearfully, and passionately. Because I am so very grieved. Others are very well meaning - telling us the babies are angels, that we will have future children, and that eventually everything will be okay. For the record, we don't believe the babies are angels; we do believe they are humans and that they went to heaven. Sometimes I wish I could just stop people and tell them to pleeeeeaaassseee work within my belief system when talking to me right now. I'm not always that way; I'm usually more open to hearing what different people think and how that is comforting for them. Just for right now, regardless of what you believe, sit with me in the way that I do, because I'm trying to heal and there are too many voices.
Also, there may be future children, but they won't be these children. These two babies are irreplaceable. My heart may expand, my love may increase, my hope and joy may return ... but it will always be tinged with the sorrow that these two are not there. Please know that my longing for them will not go away, when or if I have another child. You might disagree, you might have more experience than I do, or you might just have a way of seeing the future - but this is my reality: every second of every day I want them. I want their specific DNA, their bodies, their laughter, their tears, their little voices saying my name, their little arms around my neck, and that want is SO big I just cannot imagine it ever changing.
I say their names every day - Finnian and Maisie. I find different ways to work it in. During my pregnancy, I wrote to them in a journal and in the last two weeks I have started to do so again. I don't know how it all works, but I love to imagine them receiving the letters one day. It helps to talk about them and to imagine what they would be like - I always try to connect it to the things I knew about them in utero. Their personalities were different than each other and more apparent each time we saw them. We have many pictures of them too. I look at them every day, just because. I would love to hear you say their names. The sound of them brings joy to my heart and reminds me that they are remembered and cherished.
Longing and love are the bulk of grief, and the rest is muddled confusion, pain, and deep sadness. There are moments I cry so hard my body wretches uncontrollably and screams escape. Other times silent tears travel down my face or my throat clenches at the simplest mention of babies. If calculated though, these moments don't make up the whole of my day. I do laugh a little everyday. My husband continually makes me smile. Things are not so destroyed inside that my whole life is wrecked. I am re-engaging slowly with work and friends. I'm reading a little and writing a little each day. I'm still making plans. I smile. I shower. I'm still living - not just surviving but actually choosing to engage life.
That is what life is like right now. I think of Finnian and Maisie every single day, usually for most of the day, and my heart aches with loss and love. I don't have a lot of insight to share at this time... just a glimpse into what life is like 6 1/2 weeks after my sweet twins were born and died.
It all feels trite … trying to explain how broken my heart is, how deep the wounds go, how much the aching, throbbing, longing occupies the corners of my mind. Nothing seems right to do. After my sister died, I remember throwing myself into school and work. I remember trying to escape. But that feels impossible now. To escape, to throw myself into anything else, is to admit that all our plans are over.
I know this from my work in grief and from being a griever – the world always keeps moving. Time only stands still for the one grieving and even then the stillness is fictitious.
I’ve only left my house for a few hours at a time. I’ve laughed and conversed and been pleasant. I’m not drowning, I’m not allowing the self-pity to become defining, and I’m denying depression at every step. BUT … I only have a few hours at a time, before I want to crawl under the blankets. Only a few hours where I can pretend that every second that I am not pregnant, every second that I am not carrying my twins, doesn’t feel thoroughly empty.
I cried the hardest I had yet this weekend. The house was quiet and my husband was gone and it just hit me. I allowed the bellows to escape my lungs loudly and my eyes to swell shut and the salt to cover my face. I have no understanding of why this happened. I have no way of integrating the fact that we spent so many months fighting infertility; that I wept in uncertainty if I would ever be the mother I longed to be. Then the greatest blessing of all – two sweet babies. And oddly, I always wanted twins, even before I knew about our infertility, when the possibility was remote that we could ever have them. I felt truly blessed. Every second I held them I was grateful for their lives. We were acutely aware of what it took to have them … and we repeated our thanks as often as we could.
So, how do I go back to “real life” now? How do I finish my classes? How do I meet with therapy clients? How do I continue doing all the things I planned to stop doing in order to be their full time mom? How do I accept that the only Mom I can be for them is in my heart? These questions are all rhetorical, though I don’t know the answer either. No one does. Despite all the well-meaning and caring, there is no one who can answer this for me. Somehow I will do it – I will move forward, if only because time doesn’t now allow another option.
I started this blog a few years ago. We were approaching the ten-year anniversary of my sister’s death. Rachael’s absence and the way in which we integrate the loss into our lives has been a defining characteristic of my family. We don’t accept that she is gone, however we have learned ways in which to thrive despite not having her here everyday. When my husband’s mother died she made sure to teach each of us how to die with hope and grace. Her legacy further encouraged my ideas about grief – it is connected to the amount of love we have and love does not end after death. The goal of Loss and Life was to explore these thoughts and to hopefully share with others ways in which to live after loss.
Of course, as with all things extracurricular, my blog took a back seat as I worked my way through my MSW and the beginning part of my PhD program. But I am back today … today it has been four weeks since my precious twins were born too early to survive in this world. My son and my daughter – a most harrowing loss.
I’ve wanted to be a mother since before I was 10 years old. When asked what do you want to be when you grow up, I would respond “a mother and a writer.” My own mother tells the story of me coming home from second grade convinced that I was pregnant with a miracle since my teacher had been blessed with a miracle baby. To be a mom has been the deepest yearning of my soul.
A little over 8 years ago, I experienced a first trimester miscarriage – a blighted ovum. At the time the loss felt very big but it was also the first time since my sister had passed that I felt hope. I was reminded during that brief pregnancy period that I wanted life. However, many things surrounding that circumstance were not right. I was told repeatedly “at least you know you can get pregnant.”
Fast forward to marrying the right guy and trying to get pregnant – not quite so easy. The infertility battle itself is full of grief. We spent our first year of marriage trying to fight infertility. Finally, after a successful IVF attempt we were blessed with two perfect babies. They had no chromosomal problems, they were growing perfectly, and each and every ultrasound we were able to distinguish their emerging personalities. I bought a home heart rate monitor and listened to them every night. We began purchasing all of the items for their nursery and to care for them. To say that we were excited does not begin to cover it. I have never in my life been as happy as when I was carrying those two babies, married to the man of my dreams. All of this was done while still working as a therapist and pursuing a PhD to research grief. My life finally felt like it was reaching its purpose.
The birth and death of my son and my daughter has shifted me. This time though I have all the information about grief, I have an internal therapist telling me what’s normal and how to be gentle with myself, and I still have an incredible support system. None of that changes the feeling of waking up each morning empty and longing for the children we tried so desperately to bring in this world though. Despite all the knowledge I can’t stop being angry at my body for failing me, again.
So I am back here, writing. After we lost Rachael I threw myself into creative writing. Before the loss I had done journalistic writing. As a kid I wanted to write children’s books. In the last few years I have been writing research. So here I am writing again in hopes to somehow work through this pain.
Hi, I'm Tiffany. I believe in the power of stories to connect us to each other. I write about life after loss and all the love, longing, and learning that comes from it. Grief is big, love is bigger. My newest stories are about motherhood (after both infertility and loss). In my experience, love doesn't get bigger than motherhood.
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