There is so much about that date, the 23rd, that will make not counting the length of time it's been since we had to say goodbye forever nearly impossible. Ethan's birthday is the 22nd and my c-section with Wylie was to be (August) 23rd. Of course, Wylie's birth came on our wedding anniversary exactly, which was May 23rd. I wonder sometimes if I'm the only one who finds it strange that she chose to make her arrival on the 23rd (the doctors thought since I'd never labored before she would be born the following day, the 24th) when her true birth was supposed to be on the 23rd as well, but I'm sure that's one of those things my mind tends to wander with. I sometimes even go back and wonder where we even got May 23rd for as a wedding date considering it held no sentimental value at the time and we just sort of selected it on a calendar at random but I try to let my mind take a breather once in a while. It's hard to not analyze something so significant that comes with a "there was no rhyme or reason to this" clause. I don't know that my mind is ever going to be able to accept that this was all an act of randomness, an error in nature, something that went terribly wrong for no apparent reason. That seems an acceptable explanation for certain things, of course, but the loss of your child? It isn't good enough. Not that any reasoning will ever be good enough.
People have been telling me constantly how strong I am. I'm not trying to discredit my strength because, believe me, it takes strength to even find my strength and sometimes I even impress myself, but I mostly believe that I'm strong because I have no choice to be. I cannot lay in bed and fall to pieces because I have Ethan to live for. And, even so, no matter how much I could possibly will myself to implode, it isn't going to happen. There are choices in life, sure, and then there is the fact that I have a three year old who needs to eat, needs to continue living his own childhood and, most importantly, needs a functioning mother in his life. Surviving isn't being strong and being strong isn't a choice and there are so many intricacies involved in this loss that I'm still trying to untangle them all. I try to swallow down the compliments as best that I can and I try to continue living as best as I can, though I will never be the same again. I will always, from here on out, be a mother who lost a child. It's a badge that I want to wear without stigma but it's a badge that is stitched to your skin painfully and never really scabs over and heals. It's a weird place to be, wanting to be cleared to exercise again to lose the baby weight while simultaneously not wanting to lose what was gained because of her. It's a place of wanting people to stop sympathetically thinking you're plotting to snatch their babies simply because you lost yours and desperately wanting them to know that their baby is not yours and it's apples and oranges, all of it. It's a place of learning to live a little differently, sort of like a reeducation process that is self-led and without any sort of manual or guide to assist you. Sometimes I break down for a reason that even I cannot identify and I'm sure it's normal, as normal as any part of losing a child can be.
We are coping. We are staying busy as best as we can in the hot South Florida summertime and I am trying not to notice the way I can now fall asleep on my stomach, the way my pregnancy-induced lethargy has officially faded to gusts of energy that can give a three year old a run for his money. Slowly life is regressing back to a place I thought I would never be in again but yet I am and while it's true that, instead of dwelling, I choose to thrust myself full-throttle into Ethan's childhood and it's enclosed magic, sometimes it's too easy to just fall apart. And mention her, or miss her, because I'm human. Because I'm a mother. Because she's my daughter. Because it's too easy to think "she should be here" when she isn't. Sometimes I want to write about her because it helps, because it feels natural. Sometimes I want to write about something else, about Ethan, about the happiness that he brings to our world. I've learned quickly that it's okay to not force myself into sadness when I'm with Ethan out of guilt and that I don't need to explain to people how I haven't forgotten about her or, worse, "gotten over it" like so many others seem to think is possible when I'm out with Ethan. It's another tightrope to walk, another balancing act for me to attempt to master while knowing I've never been the most coordinated. This blog always wore many hats and it has now added a couple more to it's collection.