I was in the shower this morning when it hit me. The memory of holding Addison for the last time. Of course, I didn't know it would be the last time. And even in that moment, Chris and my mom and my sister Sarah and I all discussed how good she looked--that she would seemingly hold on forever and make this even more difficult for us all. It seemed at that time the state of limbo we were in--with her being alive but not really, just waiting patiently in the hospice for death to come--was the worst it could possibly be. That once she died, we could get about the business of mourning and get past this terrible thing. For the longest time, I had this idea in my head that I couldn't shake--the idea that I could have "closure." I'm realizing there is no such thing. People talk about starting new chapters in their lives, moving on, looking ahead. It's an illusion. It doesn't really happen like that. This so-called closure is actually a slow, painful drift through time, punctuated by strong floods of shit that knock you off the lifeboat you were barely clinging to in the first place. At least, that's how it's feeling for me these days. One of those shitstorms hit me this morning in the shower. I had that guilty, horrible feeling again because I actually WANTED Addison to die once I learned of her condition and prognosis. To then have her around one day--one minute--one second longer--just seemed to cut the wound deeper. During the visits I had with her those days that she was "alive" I held her, rocked her, breathed her in, memorized her, and told her to let go because there was nothing to fight for. A brain dead baby born in a coma has nothing to live for. No hope. No future. So we pumped her full of morphine and hoped that she would somehow forget to breathe. Quickly. I thought during those days how pathetic it is that we don't allow for euthenasia in this country. We can put down a dog who is suffering, but not a human. For Addison, it would have been the most ethical, loving and kind thing to just end it for her. I felt that way then; I feel that way now; and I will live with the guilt forever for having these feelings. I can justify them in my head, but to be a mom with those feelings toward her own daughter...well, that is unforgiveable. The week she lived was hell, and my life has become hellish ever since. Perhaps I will choose to punish myself forever for hoping, during those horrible days, that she would just die already.
I know, now, that I can never replace Addison. I would never even want to try. I think in those first weeks and months after she died I subconsciously thought I could replace her in a way. Like, if I just got pregnant and had another baby, it would create a wrinkle in time that would undo Addison altogether. With 8 months of grief under my belt, I'm now fully aware of the emotional trials and tribulations I will likely endure during a future pregnancy. I follow enough blogs to know there is no such thing as a "happy ending" after losing a child. I turned 36 a few days ago. I thought I would be done having babies. And yet, our family seems incomplete without 2 living children. I realize that the overwhelming emotion I have surrounding a potential future pregnancy is fear. That's not even a strong enough word to accurately describe how scared I am--about everything pregnancy related. I know too much. The door has been opened and I have entered, against my will, a world that I never even wanted to know really existed.
And yet, I've begun peeing on sticks for the first time in my life. I've been pregnant 3 times. I have timed sex 0 of those times. I've certainly never peed on a stick to figure out likely ovulation. But I'm getting older, and the fear that I won't be able to get pregnant "by chance" is one of my oh-so-many fears:
I'm afraid I won't be able to get pregnant.
I'm afraid to have a daughter to show me what Addison could have been.
I'm afraid to have a son, which would mean never raising a daughter.
I'm afraid the pregnancy will end early.
I'm afraid to have a c-section too early.
I'm afrait to wait too long and having the baby die before birth.
I'm afraid the baby will have a chromosomal disorder due to my age.
I'm afraid I will have to make a real choice about the future of my unborn baby.
I'm afraid the baby will be born with severe problems.
I'm afraid the baby will die of SIDS.
I'm afraid I will lose everything I currently have and everything I don't even have yet. I'm just plan afraid.
Forget grief and rage and guilt (the standards I've been feeling). Overwhelming fear is the current overriding emotion right now. And even with fear in my soul, I have to do it. I don't want to wait. Even without trying to get pregnant, I'm scared. So I guess I'm not choosing to face the fear; I'm choosing to continue down my path in spite of it. And what if....everything worked out. What if I got the line on the stick and conceived and got the line on the "other" stick weeks down the road and the baby lived and thrived in my womb and it was born healthy and lived to be able to tell me "I love you." What if. I will still mourn our loss of Addison. And I know our family will never be complete without her. But such is life. I have no other choice but to continue living in spite of the pain and fear. I guess I'll just shoot good thoughts out into the universe. Universe, would you please cut me some slack?