Grief is just such a jerk.
Since we lost Grace, I have read books, participated in both online and in person support groups, taken time off work, done acupuncture, meditated, traveled, and have become an advocate to help improve the experiences for others like us (since no one plans for this in their pregnancy, it really is adding insult to injury to be subjected to callous legal requirements). I have exercised more, taken more walks, listened to more music, written letters to Grace, helped other friends unfortunately and heartbreakingly go through the same experience, bonded with many people that have had the same experiences and drawn comfort from them (and hopefully provided some comfort back). I have been in more therapy including a psychiatrist and two therapists than any other time in my life, and I am not new to therapy.
Eleven month have passed by. And nonetheless, it is harder than ever right now.
I wish I knew what was going on, but I'm no expert, and even experts tell me grief is unpredictable and nebulous; that it never really totally leaves, it hits when you least expect it, it's sometimes gentle and other times takes your breath away, and it appears that all you can do is hold your breath and try to accept it and hold on until it's better. That sounds brutal for anyone, and its uniquely hard for someone that has worked under the illusion that with enough hard work and effort, you can overcome anything. Grief is reminding me that I don't control a thing.
I started lightening up on the advocacy work both out of need because it's so hard, and because of other circumstances in my life (if you can believe it, this year has had a jaw dropping number of stressful and sad events not even related to Grace). Likely, tucking that away a bit has given me the space to let the grief come in. But it feels so much more like grief has arrived blasting the door straight off its hinges. I suspect the seasons changing and the influx of holiday decorations is a decent part of it; our fall just finally arrived, and not only do I already contend with SAD, but I have so many memories of being nervously excited about being pregnant, FINALLY pregnant, last fall. Meeting trick or treators and wondering what we'd dress Grace up as this year, when she was 6 months old. We said goodbye to her the day before Thanksgiving, and Thanksgiving, despite being surrounded by people that love us and that we love back, and was brutal exercise in exhaustion, sadness, shock and numbness. Grace's termination anniversary is on Thanksgiving this year. Later, after we lost her, I remember walking through stores and seeing Christmas decorations all over and desperately searching for my enjoyment of the holidays in the hopes that this experience wouldn't ruin my future enjoyment of them. Any time I saw a pregnant woman or baby, I wanted to go up and say my baby had died. It doesn't even make sense to me. It felt insulting and unfair that life went on, and that Grace wasn't with me anymore.
Right now, my grief and sadness it is coming on so strongly and so acutely that I'm doing something I have never really done before and trying not to fight it anymore. I just can't do it. I wish I could and until I went through this myself I didn't really get how something like this changed someone so much, and trying to envision it made me shudder and change my thinking to a more comfortable topic. But I don't get to do that. This actually happened to me. And having gone through this year with all of its frustrations, disappointments, sadness, and losses (including friendships and weakened relationships), to then arrive at 11 months out thinking that relief should be replacing the grief only to have the grief be more profound than ever... the only thing I can think of to say is it's just too much. And we are facing some potentially very, very hard news regarding our own possibilities towards having children any day now. Even if we do try again, I can't even fathom a world where I enjoy pregnancy after all of this. I just know too much about what can go wrong.
I'm not quite sure why I'm sharing this here. In the past I've asked you to consider our story, share it, learn more about your state's and our country's laws, call your representatives and vote to help protect our rights when it comes to situations like Grace, but this time I have no call to action. I've been utterly overwhelmed by your love and support thus far. To my friends and family that have accepted and embraced me through this: and it truly makes a difference. I wanted to share where I am right now, why I am so grateful for your support and for any advocacy you have done on our behalf and all other families like ours, and to say it still matters. Where I am now is evidence of it. There is no replacing Grace; having another child, if we're ever that lucky, will not "fix" this and I'm learning now that it doesn't just go away. I don't feel better thanks to the passage of time or all of the effort I've put in to do so. Different, and able to smile more, but not better. So if you've read this, thank you for doing so. I feel like it's important for me to acknowledge it to honor Grace and how important she was to us, and to honor other grieving people out there.