As the days of August draw in, I am ever more aware of the cracking in my heart. The aching has not subsided but is actually throbbing more and more as we approach the period when my pregnancy should’ve concluded, when my babies should’ve been born, when life should’ve been right. Yesterday, I would’ve been 34 weeks pregnant and my twins would be born some time between now and September 7th - in an ideal world that is. But they were not, will not, are not going to be. It continues to hurt more.
My husband and I are leaving for vacation next week – dog and house sitter are set. We will be gone through the bulk of our “due” weeks (twins shift a pregnancy from due day to a range of days). I’m going to take a blogging hiatus during this time since my energy is lacking. I may return with more blogs, perhaps a slightly shifted focus off the intensely personal and more on grief knowledge. Maybe not, maybe I will be even more introspectively sharing. We will see what happens after we get through these next few weeks.
I have always told my clients that it is important to follow what heals them. I'm taking some healing space. I'm exercising. I'm journaling. I'm crying. I'm laughing. I'm creating memorials. I'm being kind, gentle, and understanding towards myself (as much as I can remember to be). This next season is for healing ... not healing away the broken heart, because it will always be there, but finding a way to live in the joy of having loved, and continuing to love, my children so much. I love Finnian and Maisie so much.
It is still incredibly unhelpful for people to tell me they imagine us having other kids. The insensitivity and invalidation of thinking that will somehow erase the longing for the two we already have stings every time someone makes the suggestion. It will always be more helpful for people to tell me that they remember my twins and to ask me about them, than for people to tell me they just know I'll have another baby.
You would never tell someone whose mother had died:
“Maybe you’ll get a new mom soon,”
“I heard a wonderful story about someone who had a rainbow mom after their loss,”
“I dreamed you were hugging your new mom and you were so happy.”
"Once your new mom is here you will feel happy again."
"A new mom will make things better."
It would be weird. It would be as though you assumed their mother was replaceable with any other mother. It would be as though you thought having a living mother would stop the griever from missing the mother that they already had.
That said, for those who are deeply troubled by the idea that we will somehow stop our journey to raise living children: we intend to try for more children, probably sooner rather than later. We are greatly aware of the challenges that lie in this. We know that there are many variables to consider and many challenges to face. But we are hopeful.
We will consider any future children siblings of Finnian and Maisie. Our heart will expand to love them just as it would have if their brother and sister were alive to greet them. We would never have taken some love away from Finnian and Maisie to spread to the other kids – we would just grow more love.
While love and grief are totally intertwined, one does not erase the other. I am open to opening my heart to more love, because I believe it has the capacity to hold both intense love and intense grief simultaneously. I am open to more love, even if I am terrified of more grief.
Thank you to all who have been reading along the journey. It will always be a goal of mine to connect with other's grieving, whether here on this blog or in whatever next career step I take. The most helpful thing for me to remember is that while it won't ever be okay, I am not alone. You are not alone. Living is in the connecting.
I slipped into a numbness pattern this week – a lack of motivation, wish the days were over, kind of dragging. I’ve admittedly done a lot of napping. I know this is a phase of grief. I’m coming down, or up, from something. I can’t put my finger on it or name it just yet. This post is a little less clean ... more a compilation of thoughts, revelations, loose experiences from my notes over the many weeks since my twins died.
Grief is messy, unclean, non-linear. Grief is different every day, hour, minute. Grief doesn’t just look sad, angry, shocked, bargaining, or accepting. Grief encompasses every emotion. Grief buries itself into all parts of your life. Grief strokes each moment that you live without them.
Grief is dreaming in too many colors or no color at all - dreaming with fear and reliving death, or dreaming with visits and hopefulness.
Grief is opening your eyes, staring at the ceiling or the wall and remembering what your life really is. Grief is rolling over and trying to sleep for another few minutes, another hour.
Grief is everyday negotiating whether or not to nurse your own broken heart or to honor their memory by living.
Grief is mascara stains on your pillow. Grief is letting more tears fall then you knew you could produce. Grief is puffy eye sockets, red-rimmed and bulging.
Grief is running out of tears. Grief is dry numbness when you explain what happened.
Grief is having a different kind of day every day, all while doing the same things over and over. Grief makes the minutes feel long but the days seem short.
Grief is recognizing the exact shape of your physical existence.
Grief is feeling fuzzy brained, struggling to converse, forgetfulness absence from the moment. Grief is painful awareness of silence.
Grief is forcing a smile. It’s listening to yourself talk to people from some inner echo-ey hole, detached. Grief is struggling to listen well to others.
Grief is experiencing moments of truly being alive and then turning around to see a mirror that reflects someone other than you. Grief is realizing your reflection is forever changed.
Grief is realizing that your heart held more love than you imagined. Grief is feeling the borders of your heart as it expands and breaks.
Grief is needing someone, anyone, to agree that things will never be okay. It’s needing people to just tell you that you are not alone, that they are with you, that it’s okay that you will never really be okay.
Grief is knowing that, no not everything happens for a reason, no something better will not come of this, and no I don’t have an option to not “be strong.”
Grief is knowing that even if life is beautiful, even if you use your pain for some greater good, that it would have been just as beautiful (or more so) if they had lived. Grief is accepting that fact and still choosing to live kindly and bravely and with honor for them.
Grief is rehearsing a new way of living until it becomes familiar enough to cover your scars.
Grief is knowing that time is divided, your identity is divided, your self is divided into before and after they died. And not just because time moves forward, grief doesn't care about time, but because you can clearly outline the eras of your life based on their existence and their absence.
Grief is loving with every ounce of your being, despite separation. Loving is living - loving is the whole point of living. Grief is still living. It’s just messy living.
Feel free to comment – to add what grief is like for you or what 'grief revelation' you have had. Every experience is unique and the only way we can get closer to understanding the expansiveness of life after loss is to talk to each other about it.
As the weeks of summer have passed with the aching slowness of a heat wave, not a lot has changed since we lost our babies. I’m giving myself healing space – I’ve taken a hiatus from my coursework and stepped back from providing therapy. Writing here is healing. Being completely, utterly, bold-faced honest about each week is healing. But the healing is building only minutely. For every second that I feel confidently up is another second that I am devastatingly down.
This week has felt largely emotional. I think for multiple reasons the waves of grief have crashed over me and I have felt the weight of it in my bones. I spent weeks laughing and forcing myself into life’s moments; weeks choosing to show the joy my sweet twins should be known for, instead of the pain caused by their absence. This is still my goal, to live in a way that proves their light … but this week my pain, my heartache, my longing has filled every pore of my body. My eyes have been leaking non-stop. The salty tears fall around the corners of my down turned mouth. My contacts are so blurred with salt deposits that the world looks as foggy as it feels. But I accept this – crying is as much a part of my humanity as laughing is.
Today marks 16 weeks since my sweet babies left this earth. It also marks 16 weeks since they entered the earth. Baby loss is a unique loss because it intertwines the experience of new life so closely with the experience of death. I think all losses have component of realizing the importance of life – the delicate balance of your heartache with what your heart loves. Grief will always be a balance of pain and honoring their life by living ours. Baby loss just intensifies this notion because pregnancy is full of new life promises, full of planning and dreams and growing life.
Losing my infants has made me hyper aware of how deeply a heart can love. Becoming a mother changed me. My heart expanded in ways I did not know were fathomable. I am learning how to understand that and also comprehend the intense pain of having it taken away as soon as it arrived. The depth of my grief is slowly chasing down the depth of my love. But I will always love them more than I am pained by their loss. That feels like an absolute truth.
Tomorrow will be the doubling point of the length of my pregnancy. I find it difficult to breathe when I think about this. Their existence was short ‘in the scheme of things.’ In the big picture of life, we were only given the joy of them for mere moments. But I’ve learned something about love … it doesn’t care. Love doesn’t care how long you have known someone. Love doesn’t create depth based on familiarity alone. The kind of love you feel for your child - when you look down at their tiny nose, their little feet, their precious fingers wrapped around the tip of yours - the love you feel then is shaped by so much awe that it sends roots immediately down through your core. Finnian and Maisie are deeply rooted in my soul. I feel so much love I could burst.
And yet in a couple days I will have lived their loss longer than I lived their life.
This fact alone has convinced me of one thing:
Time does not erase the pain as much as it doesn’t not determine the amount of love we have for each other. Time is merely a marker between our last goodbye and our hopeful next hello. Time will breed familiarity with the feeling of their absence … so that we become better acquainted with living in a world without them. I’ve learned that in other losses. That’s the only “better” there might be.
Love does not care about time as much as time does not control how and if and when I feel anything, for better or worse. My love for those two humans, my love for Finnian and Maisie, is infinite. It is without the bounds of time. 16 weeks is meaningless in recounting the lifetime that I will spend loving them, even without the gift of holding them or seeing their faces light up, or attending their school functions, or watching them fall in love, or kissing the cheeks of their future children. My babies will never have those things… but I will love them with the same intensity as though we had experienced it all together.
Throughout my pregnancy I sang them the chorus from the Dixie Chick’s song, Lullaby. I’d walk around with a hand on my belly singing. When they were born, I held them in my arms and sang this song to them over and over; until I kissed their little foreheads goodbye. And we engraved this lyric on the box that holds their remains:
“How long do you wanna be loved,
is forever enough?
Cause I’m never, never giving you up. “
I am forever their mommy and they are forever mine.
Grief is big. Love is bigger.
And right now, that’s the only thing I am really, truly sure of.
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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