I have written thousands of words about how my losses have affected me. About the work I have done to try to heal myself, as much as possible. I’ve written about self-loathing, therapy, yoga, friends, and coping – or lack thereof. I have written very little about the impacts on my marriage.
Loss is a very individual experience. Loss of a spouse/partner, friend, parent… all are so shaped by relationships. Parents are in it together. A dual connection. They came together to raise a child, and losing a child is losing a piece of themselves, a piece from each of them.
In those first few hours and days, we clung fiercely to each other. The second time, I had already been admitted and was lying in the hospital bed when Ger arrived from work. As he entered the room, he ran over to my side, buried his head in my shoulder, and we cried. The hours that followed dragged in the worst way imaginable. Like watching a wreck, in slow motion. Somehow, Ger managed to sleep in the 24 hours that followed. I both envied and resented him.
He held my hand, his forehead resting against mine, for the worst moments.
We walked through the next few days in a daze. We had two other kids to care for. He had to go back to work after a week, while I remained holed up in bed, or on the couch, curtains drawn and blocking out sunlight. He kept our family moving until I finally unearthed myself from the freshness of grief and became functional. The first session of therapy, we attended together, but after that, I went alone. We’ve gone together a few other times, but irregularly, whereas I go every Wednesday like clockwork.
I knew, early, that people grieve differently. I was still openly crying during the day whereas he kept going through the motions. I did not blame him for being in a different place. We openly acknowledged that the physical aspect alone made it much different for me. We moved in and out of spaces of grief, often out of sync with each other. In October of this year, we attended a walk for pregnancy and infant loss. It was a new round of sadness for me, and I was irritated with his stoic manner. Later, he told me that he was profoundly affected by the event: that was why he was distant. Out of sync.
Making a decision to have another baby immediately after losing Nelle was an easy one. It seemed that the joy of another pregnancy could offset some of the pain. Making a decision after losing two babies? Much harder. There seems to be no “right” answer. Our discussions were circular. How much more hurt can we handle?
How to we “be”? We talked recently that we are two broken people; cannot ever be the same. We can’t go back to the days before September 3rd. There have been many times when we have had to prop each other up. I’m down, he’s down. Usually not concurrently. We can be there for each other. But so, so changed. We are now that couple, the one that has lost children. We carry that every time, every single time, someone asks us how many children we have.
Sometimes we are like the basted egg I had for breakfast. Carefully constructed with a thin film holding it together, but one prod and the contents come spilling out.