The hardest thing I have ever done was watch my home of joy and laughter turn into a house haunted by nightmares and pain. Ghosts visit the quietness of a Sunday afternoon, creeping into the sunlight as a reminder that there is a hole in my heart. The most taunting of the voices whisper “You wanted this. You wanted this. You got what you wanted.” The house with three living children. I never specified that three children should come from three pregnancies – a one-to-one correlation. Three children from five pregnancies was the cruel answer to my unknowingly vague prayer.
That house. That empty room. Shifting around furniture for a nursery, then not a nursery, then an office, then changing colors and artwork and hoping that I could forget it was supposed to hold a baby.
That family, over whom death now hangs. Parents, missing a part of the spark in their eyes. Parents, bitter and shattered and missing children in their home. Wanting to hear screams – of children playing, of a baby waking at night to be fed, but instead hearing only the screams echoed in their minds: the guttural sounds that emerged upon learning that their children had died. Screams that creep into the darkest of dreams, shaking and sweating between sleep and awake.
Pregnancy transformed from the shape of something beautiful and exciting into something ugly and terrifying. A shape I proudly wore before, and after hid behind loose shirts, baggy pants, and avoiding inquisitive gazes. That life-growing bliss was stolen from me. I watch other women meander through pregnancy, unconcerned, and I am filled with resent and envy. I hold my breath with the women that I know who are navigating their own pregnancy struggles. If I see her and I do not know her story, I quickly look away.
The hardest thing I have ever done was want another. Conception turned into a clinical mass of needles, medications, tests, and unending waiting. The blue “+” on a test was only a split second of elation before devolving into tears and anxiety. To say “I’m sorry” to the babies that I lost: I’m sorry, for whatever happened that ended your lives. And I still want another baby.
I turn and turn in the endless hallways of the house, not knowing where it ends. Where does the family end? It became a maze of uncertainty, where it had previously been so clear. The home, the security and warmth of the family that we had created, felt foreign, dull, strange. We could not be comfortable in our own space.
The hardest thing that I ever done was give birth to a baby that had already died. To feel her body leave my body. To go from being pregnant to not pregnant in the slipping passage of a single moment. The hours of labor leading up to that second were unreal, but giving birth: it was a corporeal existence.
I held those hard moments in my hands, and I formed words. As the clock on the wall in my house kept ticking, I sometimes could not find words. They do not exist, or could not be combined in a way that began to turn my pain outward. And now I move forward, through the hardest things, and try to repair my house, one damaged slat, or chipped paint, or cracked window at a time. All the while knowing that the outside world will never see what I live with every day