It rains every afternoon.
Scratch that, it storms every afternoon. It's been the motivating factor in my, um, lack of motivation towards doing much of anything except feeling guilty. (Why does it seem mothers are so susceptible to pangs of guilt? And why does it seem loss intensifies that?) Today, I decided, we would go to the zoo. We go to the zoo all of the time. We just haven't gone to the zoo at all since Wylie's diagnosis. Don't get me wrong -- every place, no matter how familiar, I have to step foot in for the first time following Wylie's loss is terrifying. I'm not entirely sure why that is, but it is. For some reason, the zoo sort of topped that list. It's the place where we had the least likely chance of being recognized which is the complete opposite of my terror towards facing, say, the grocery store or Starbucks following our loss. Still, there was something harrowing about going to the zoo for the first time since Wylie's passing. Maybe it was because the bulk of our happy family memories take place at the zoo, as did many plans that also included Wylie. The last time we were at the zoo, I had asked Ethan what animal he wanted to be for this year's Boo at the Zoo and what animal he thought baby Wylie should be. (He had decided they both should be zebras despite the fact our zoo doesn't have any zebras.)
Today had all the makings of a nightmarish morning. Ethan hurt his foot about a week ago and is still having difficulty feeling comfortable while wearing shoes. No problem, we decided, we would just break out the old Ergo for the first time since I got pregnant. I guess he outgrew it during the months of my pregnancy because that wasn't happening. It took a few go 'rounds of Ethan saying he wanted to walk, and then that he wanted to be carried, and then me realizing neither were going to be much of an option in hundred degree heat. Eventually we rented a stroller which, when I called it a racecar seemed pretty cool, until the zoo employee inevitably let a big "here's your stroller" slip that sent us back to square one. After a half hour of getting situated, we sort of fell back into our Same But Different zoo routine. This time from the confines of his stroller-racecar, Ethan barked orders at what animals he wanted to see and I pushed him through the zoo still in maternity jeans just, well, sans baby. It was strange how different everything felt while simultaneously feeling the same. Life just sort of gave me a big "hey, get used to it," or something. The thing is, we had fun. We always do. We finished our zoo trip with a stop at the photobooth where Ethan took home his usual treasured film strip from our visit. We stopped for pizza on the way home. We stopped at Target on the way home from having pizza. We walked through our front door just in time for the black clouds to show up and the thunder to start rattling the windows.
And it was a good day. It was. But it still felt different, as I'm sure people would tell me is normal. Because, you know, things are different. We are different.
In the midst of a brutal afternoon storm, Ethan sat on the floor eating strawberries and watermelon out of a tupperware container when the phone rang. I saw my perinatologist office flash on the caller ID. Despite the fact we have been grieving this loss for what feels like so long now, I still got that lump in my throat and felt my stomach drop. What now? What am I losing now? The receptionist on the other end of the line was simply calling to schedule our preconception consultation. I had asked -- okay, begged -- for this appointment to happen long before we were even going to consider trying again. I wanted it to happen now because if I had to mourn the loss of any future children as well, I wanted to get it over with. I wanted to feel that pain while I was already in pain. I didn't want to find my hope and heal and have it kicked out from under me again for a second time. July 7th, 1:30 p.m. I've already been told ten times to not worry about it until the day arrives but it's easier said than done, to not worry. I'm torn between feeling numb, depressed, worried, hopeful.
I've always been an oversharer. Sometimes I question how much to share on this blog about our struggle, our lives, this pain of losing Wylie. The thing is, in the two weeks that she's been gone, this blog has had so many hits from people searching for hope during their own loss. So many people who are in this place, who think they may be in this place, people who feel alone. If I can virtually send the message that you are not alone, I'm going to do it. And if July 7th comes and goes and our hope can be planted with the promise to grow into a tangible reality, I'm going to give that hope to someone else because I know what it's like to feel hopeless. I think I'm sort of there right now. Sometimes. It varies from moment to moment.
And I guess that's our normal for right now, as insane as it all feels.