when loss hurts

I hang out with a lot of moms and in a lot of places where moms go. This happens when you spend all day with a 3 year old. Inevitably, there will be pregnant women and there will be babies. There will also be announcements and excitement and then the also inevitable introductory "so how many kids do you have?" Sometimes people who know our story will awkwardly try to hide these things from me. Two women will be discussing a pregnancy and a friend will swoop in and start asking me about the weather and if I think it will rain on Friday. Seeing other pregnant women doesn't hurt me. Seeing other newborn babies doesn't hurt me. Their babies are not my baby; it's not as if they took Wylie away from me and that's why I don't have her. Sometimes, friends will avoid the word baby at all cost, as if they're playing that silly baby shower game where you lose your clothespin if you say the word. They'll avoid it to the point where it's awkward and sticky and silent and uncomfortable. The same goes for "pregnancy" or "daughter" or even "Wylie." It's well-meaning, but "the thing that happened" is a lot more hurtful than "your daughter." I explain this and the response is always inevitable: "I just didn't want you to hurt."

Here's the thing: I don't hurt when I hear her name. I don't hurt when someone remembers her or talks about my pregnancy with her -- the morning sickness, the cravings -- as if the outcome were different. If anything, it makes me feel good. It makes me feel valid. It makes me feel like I'm not some lunatic who dreamed up a second pregnancy and scheduled a c-section for a phantom baby that existed only in my head. It doesn't hurt when I hear her name or when you ask me how much she weighed at birth or who she looked like.

Loss hurts always. It's unavoidable. The thought of my daughter's brief existence is validity. It's warmth. It's some kind of blanket of comfort that sweeps over me and numbs the pain for a few fleeting seconds.

Loss hurts constantly. It hurts when it rains, when it's sunny, when it's hot, when it's cold. It hurts when you're awake, when you're asleep, when you're working out or grocery shopping. It hurts when you're all dressed up with a face full of make-up and styled hair. It hurts when you're schlepping through the day in a torn pair of yoga pants and your husband's t-shirt.

Loss hurts when I'm alone and when I'm in a room filled with other people. Loss hurts when I'm surrounded by anyone, the current state of their uterus completely irrelevant.

It hurts when I'm watching my favorite television show or reading my favorite book. It hurts when I'm listening to my favorite band or singing along to my favorite song. It hurts when I'm drinking my third Starbucks of the day or when I'm dragging on a Thursday afternoon.

Loss hurts when I'm laying out at the beach or wrapped up in a busy schedule. It hurts when the doctor tells me that my fertility isn't doomed and it hurts when the friendly Target cashier smiles and says "is he your only one?" Loss hurts whenever I walk the hallway and pass her closed bedroom door. It hurts when I imagine the crib, the clothes, her things still laid out and untouched even though she's gone. It hurts in my dreams to the point where sometimes I wake up because I feel like my bones are aching.

Loss doesn't stop. It never lets up. You simply learn to trudge through, somehow. But the pain? It's always there. It suddenly becomes the only constant. The only thing you cannot question. The only thing your subconscious understands that you will never lose.

But her name? The way she would dance in my stomach and listen to Cake and eat Captain Crunch in the mornings before Ethan woke up to see? This doesn't hurt me. Hearing her name escape the lips of someone who never got the chance to meet her, it's comfort. It's the warmth of a hug and a meaningful conversation all wrapped up into one word. Wylie. And as long as you remember her, as long as you acknowledge her as my daughter as much as Ethan is my son, it almost feels impossible to hurt. At least in that moment.


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