and there's this burning like there's always been

Every week, I've been receiving those "your pregnancy this week" e-mails and, every week, I've been deleting them. Not without letting myself read the subject line in it's entirety first, just to let all of the horror and hurt soak into my bones. Like I was lacking either horror or hurt, or something. Eventually those e-mails morphed into "your newborn" and "your one week old" and today I decided that I had enough and I opened the most recent one up and clicked unsubscribe. That was it. It was done. I felt equal parts relief and sadness. Sadness because a little part of me felt as if I were trying to erase any trace of my little girl's brief life and then relief because the taunting was over. The you should have this was now out of my face and thrust back into the inboxes of people who it applies to. People, of course, who aren't me. I didn't really need an e-mail to remind me of this. But there they were and now they're gone.

Tonight my husband and I had one of those talks where really I'm talking and he's listening and I expect him to have answers to all of my questions. Questions like "if we have another baby, what do we do with her stuff?" Questions he doesn't even begin to answer before I push the issue further. "But it's her stuff! It's her stuff, it's no one else's stuff!" He didn't have an answer. Maybe no one does. Maybe her stuff will be packed into boxes neatly, her name written on the outside in Sharpie just like Ethan's stuff. My dad has a trunk of his stuff in the garage, stuff from his childhood. As an adult, I loved sitting with him to go through it all and reminisce about the part of his life I wasn't around for. Sometimes I imagine Ethan sitting with his future family around the boxes of his stuff reminiscing and I'm already prematurely thinking about how no one will ever sit around her boxes of stuff longing for a glimpse into a childhood that never got to happen. Maybe it's all just stuff and it holds no meaning but yet somehow it holds too much meaning for me to come to grips with on a Monday evening. "You're getting ahead of yourself" my husband will say and I'll roll over and stew on it some more.

Tomorrow I have my first appointment with a new dentist and I feel my anxiety already rising. Not because of fear of any dental procedures, but fear for the explaining. The introductions. The "my gums hurt since I've been pregnant" that will inevitably be followed by a "how old is your baby now?" Or the "I'd rather not do x-rays until I'm finished having children completely" that I've been rehearsing in my head because when something happens to your baby that there is no cause for or reason behind, you start to suspect everything. But tonight I saw a shirt online that I knew I would have bought for Wylie if she were here and when I told my husband about it he laughed and said "that's definitely something your daughter would wear." I laughed, too. I laughed in spite of the stuff or the dentist or any of it because my daughter would have rocked that shirt so hard. My daughter. I was able to laugh because there is some strange healing in hearing what I already know: that I have a daughter.

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