When Joshua passed, I couldn’t function. I could hardly talk about anything without crying. Slowly I was able to go a day, two, maybe longer without shedding a tear. I coached myself on what I could say to people and practiced it until I could say it without tears. “We had a baby and he passed away at birth.”
While I was pregnant with Michaela, I was a mix of emotions, thanks to hormones. Some were good days, some were bad. My self-coaching was able to get me through the “is this your first?” questions and be able to answer them honestly without tears.
Now that Michaela is here, sometimes I’m a bag of tears. Of course in the first few weeks after she was born, the roller coaster of emotions had me crying most days. I’d look at her and bawl. Cry because she was so beautiful and I was so in love. Cry because I missed Joshua and it wasn’t fair that I missed out on things.
These days when people ask if it’s my first, I never give the same answer. It depends who asks. Sometimes I tell them about Joshua and sometime I don’t. Frankly, sometimes it’s just easier to say “yes, she’s my first”.
In many ways she is my first. She wasn’t my first pregnancy or firstborn. But she’s my first daughter and my first experience with a living child. I’ve experienced all my firsts with her outside my womb. And in that respect, she is my first.
I didn’t always think that way. After Joshua was born and when I was pregnant the second time, I was adamant that everyone knew of his existence. He was real and everyone was going to know about it. When I heard of other loss moms not including their baby in “their count”, I was appald. These days, I feel differently. Joshua is still real to me, but I don’t always want to go into details. Nor am I good at handling people’s responses. Will I need to explain more, will I have to listen to a story about someone else’s baby who almost died, will they change the subject?
These days, when I choose to share my story, I typically cry. Experiencing the birth of a living child makes it harder for me to relive the reality that there was a different outcome the first time around. Babies are magical and remembering that I didn’t get to experience all these moments with Joshua brings me to tears. I miss him everyday.
People have described that grief comes in waves. It ebbs and flows. I’m positive I will once again be able to tell my story without crying. If not though, that’s okay! My tears are present only because of the immense love I have for someone who is not.