During this time last year, I treated every day like it was a gift. I marveled how big Jensen was growing and how his kicks were getting stronger. Sweet lullabies were sung to him as I mindlessly worked or planned his baby shower.
Every morning I woke up with a smile.
It was never a conscious decision. I was genuinely happy knowing he was growing safely inside my belly and I enjoyed looking at my pregnancy app religiously every morning after I told him good morning, I love you. Even with the storm of confusion with finding out about Down syndrome and being shuttled to the constant appointments, I was thankful for everyday. Last year’s February and March were the happiest months in my life.
Of course everything changed when April came.
Those mornings I woke up in tears or just stone faced. I couldn’t make myself feel or do anything. Honestly, it’s hard for me to comprehend how I made it through the first three months. The body and brain do an amazing job of protecting itself through shock. I don’t think anyone could take losing a child without the fog that surrounds you (and that continues to protect me most days). Smiles didn’t come naturally those beginning months. They were all an act, I knew when I was supposed to act a certain way during conversations. Not that I even knew what anyone was saying to me, but I didn’t want to seem weirder than I already had felt.
The first time I truly smiled after Jensen was born, I instantly felt guilt. I’ve talked about this before, but I feel like it needs to be said again. In that moment, I let my guard down and was able to feel something; glimpses happiness are very enticing. BUT, how could I smile? My child is dead. What a slap in the face to his death. I’m supposed to be mourning, not laughing and having a good time. I would never see his smile or hear his laugh, so why do I deserve to do all these things.
I started to choose nothingness.
What’s nothingness you might ask? I didn’t want to make myself frown or to be sad. That was kind of inevitable. On the other hand, I chose not to smile. I would hear things that would spark a good feeling, but I honestly did not think I was worthy of any good. So I chose the middle ground. I succumbed to shock and feeling blah. To be fair, I was too exhausted to want anything else. I was feeling every emotion, every second of the day. It felt like being on a roller coaster that has constant loops.
Everything was bland. Food didn’t taste like anything. Even when I would eat Nutella (my favorite) there was nothing. Sleep and I had a love-hate relationship. There would be days I slept for hours upon hours, then the next I wouldn’t sleep at all. The hours of sleep I did get, didn’t make me any less tired. Nothingness felt right in those early days and I’m thankful it helped me make it to today. I can vividly remember thinking this would be the rest of my life. There wouldn’t be a day where sleep would welcome me, food wouldn’t taste terrible, or I could ever choose to start my day with a smile.
Until, I dreamt of his.
Jensen has a unique way of letting me know what he wants for me; whether that be a physical sign or putting a message in my dreams. In the dreams he’s in his blond hair is always a little too long, his cheeks still chubby, and his eyes always searching for mine. When our eyes meet, it’s always an instant smile. I’m telling you guys, it would light up a whole entire city. Maybe even the world. The first time I saw it in my dreams, he probably was the ten months old. Yes, the age he would be now. It was gummy and his nose scrunched up which made his eyes squint even more. I can remember never wanting to let go of that moment and I wanted it to be real. Maybe in another dimension it is.
That morning, I smiled.
Fast forward to last night. After I settled in bed, I felt grief starting to press down on me. It has been a rough two days anyways, but nothingness was fighting its way back to the top. Sleep kept eluding me and I just prayed that I would fall under its spell so I could have some relief. In my dreams, each part of my mind was at war with one another. It was a fitful night of sleep, but when I awoke I knew what side won.
The nothingness that I was scared of drowning me was gone. There was grief, there’s always grief and a tugging of sadness, but it did take me over. Yet, there wasn’t an immense amount of happiness. I felt peace and could only picture a blond hair boy with chubby cheeks urging me to keep going on.
Today I woke up with a smile.
Happy forty-four weeks in heaven, my perfect boy. The weeks seem to be getting closer together and it’s getting very close to your first birthday. With each passing day, I feel myself getting more and more nervous. I’m going to try to choose to honor each day (but one) with happiness and peace in your honor. You make me want to do better. I miss you. I love you.