Robert Frost said “No tears for the writer, no tears for the reader.”
It has been over twenty months since Nelle was born and still, still there moments when I cry because I miss her so much. I miss her because she was my baby, my child, and she isn’t here. She. Isn’t. Here. Even typing those words, I have tears streaming down my face and my throat hurt with the pain that comes from gasping between breaths.
I remember being pregnant with Iris and wanting her so much but feeling like wanting her was at the expense of her sister. I wanted both of them, yet they could not exist together. One night, I sat on the floor of my bathroom and hugged my pregnant shape, cradling Iris and missing Nelle and trying so hard to reconcile wanting them both.
Memories have faded. I used to have nightmares about the details of being in the hospital, but now they are not as clear. I do not remember the nurse who spoke to us when I was admitted to deliver Iris, because I only remember staring out the window, wondering how I could be there a second time. I remember that I was wearing a red shirt.
Giving birth, I remember. I try to forget. That moment is one that I often gloss over when I write, because for many it would likely be uncomfortable. I saw the look on a person’s face recently: realization of something she had never considered, that if a baby dies after a certain point in pregnancy, labor and delivery is the way that the baby leaves the mother’s womb. It had certainly never crossed my mind before it happened to me. I remember asking the doctor “So what happens now?” and being horrified at the response.
I was pregnant for more than 24 hours after finding out my baby had died. Death wasn’t in the room across the hallway, or the bed next to me, but inside of me. My body felt foreign, yet I had never been more aware of my pregnancy and how intertwined I was with carrying my baby.
My only other deliveries had been c-sections and while an epidural could mask pain, I knew that I would be aware of the moment when my baby was born. I would feel her leave my body. A mother can anticipate some of the aspects of childbirth, but nothing could prepare me for the stillbirth of a baby only a few inches long.
Knowing that I was no longer pregnant, and that my daughter was carried away in a silver medical bowl.
Thinking back on this tonight, my heart pounded, my face contorted. I was feeding Autumn, my rainbow baby, and tears fell from my face, dripping onto my shirt. She reached up a tiny hand and grabbed my cheek. And she. I have her, but I miss her sisters.
And because not enough tears had been evoked, by a random shuffling of a playlist, Adele’s song “Hello” began to play. That song always makes me cry. It was released mere weeks after Nelle was born. I thought, to my daughter:
Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried
To tell you I’m sorry for breaking your heart
Somehow, her tiny heart had broken, stopped beating and I wanted to tell her that I was sorry.