Giving Up - The Hope, The Holidays, The Rainbow

December 9, 2017

By Sanda Rathamone

Artwork by, Aidan Koch.

"Infertility is a loss. It's the loss of a dream. It's the loss of an assumed future. And, like every loss, it will be grieved."
We were in the kitchen, eating together. It was amusing to watch how my husband's infant niece just couldn't stay still in his arms while he was trying to feed her. So, back to grandpa she goes.

As he returns to the table, we could hear Jazmine retorting to her grandpa, as if she was saying, "NO!" in her baby talk. Her grandpa was trying to put her down for a nap. She never likes to sleep, she always cries and wants to play. 

It's strange how I have become acquainted with and have accepted Jazmine. I know that she hates sitting, she's very active and curious about every little thing. She wanted to walk before she learned how to crawl. She's in that stage of being able to stand, while holding onto surfaces and crawl everywhere. She makes the most interesting sounds - some of them odd, some adorable. She puts everything in her mouth, needs constant supervision because of her constant exploration, and learns new things very quickly. 

It's even fun for me to watch her grow and witness the things she's learned to do. 

Yet, living with the in-laws, while they babysit (now) ten-month-old Jazmine, still brings me this pain. I still feel left out. I still wish to see Elijah in his grandparents arms. And the anxiety of facing Jazmine with her grandparents is still there. The anxiety has never left, nor has the pain fully healed or lessened. 

I thought that by now, I would be "okay," and by okay, I mean "less emotional." 

The truth is: 

Some days, I need time to get out of bed and prepare myself to face Jazmine and her grandparents. Other days, I cannot stand to be at home because hearing Jazmine and her grandparents laugh and giggle is all too much. 

And it's not like this hasn't happened before, it's just that as I am beginning to feel comfortable with being Jazmine's aunt, the struggles are still present. It's like I'm living in this double life of grief and joy and I can't seem to be happy, without being sad. Still, it's not like I am unfamiliar with this experience. 

I just wish that the pain would go away. I just want to be happy. 

Back to that scenario at the kitchen table, my husband says something like:

"I wonder how it would be like if he (his dad) had to take care of two babies - if he had to care for both Elijah and Jazmine." 

Because we know that Jazmine is already a handful...

But all I could muster was, "I don't know" with a shrug. Usually, I like to talk about things like this or bring up thoughts about how it would be like with Elijah or if we had another baby. 

Unfortunately, I really didn't know and didn't want to talk about it. I knew that my husband wanted to make a connection, but I didn't want to get emotional. I have been repressing my emotions lately and didn't want anything to trigger them. Moreover, I just got off of my period and seeing baby and pregnancy stuff plastered all over my instagram feed every day just made me want to bawl until my eyes fall out. 

As I watch loss moms receive or give birth to their rainbows, as I watch friends and family post things about their children, I feel more and more undeserving and neglected. As each month passes, the anxiety levels and disappointment gets higher and higher and more painful than before.

My hope for another baby is slowly disappearing. To hope is risky, because disappointment is just around the corner - not that I don't already know how it feels. 

Disappointment is heavy and with grief, it's even heavier. 

I often feel that God has forgotten about me or that it is so unfair that some can get pregnant so easily, while so many others cannot - I wonder why that is. I just want to give up. I don't want to hope or wish anymore - it hurts far too much. Hope is becoming a wound instead of a healer. It has been nearly eighteen months after Elijah. I waited three years for him and cannot bear to wait another. I don't even want to think about babies anymore; it's too painful to wake up from another dream about a baby. 

I still catch myself crying before bed. Some nights, I'm too exhausted to even think about anything and wish that it was always like that. I hate the crying. 

I catch myself wanting to go on walks alone to cry under my crappy sunglasses and just be by myself, surrounded by people who know nothing about what had happened to me. People who are oblivious to child loss or even people who are just like me, walking around hiding their pain. 

I feel like life is piling up on me and there are so many demands at my feet. I'm juggling with my studies, trying to figure out if I'm in school for the right reason, struggling with finding a fulfilling job that meets my personal needs and full-time school schedule, trying to be the best and perfect wife and partner I could ever be (which will never happen because I'm not perfect), while forcing myself to eat, sh*t, shower, sleep, and wake for the next day. 

I have to do all of this while trying to keep myself sane and not cry every minute because losing Elijah destroyed my inner world. And because whatever I do and how hard I work, there is still no stork with a baby waiting at our doorstep. 

The holidays are also the worst. 

Our 6th year anniversary is coming up; we are a "Christmas couple."

The past Christmas eve, I didn't spend it with the in-laws - that was when my grief was at its most intense because at that time, Jazmine was going to be born just two months later. I was only five-and-a-half months into grief and someone else's pregnancy in the family just after my loss was horrifying. I barely made it through most nights and just wanted to die. 

That Christmas, I threw away our small Christmas tree that I would put up every year in our bedroom. I felt that Christmas wasn't going to be a happy one because it was supposed to be Elijah's first Christmas as a two-month-old. Instead, I made a painting of a small white Christmas tree and wrote on it, "Merry Christmas" on the bottom, Elijah's name on the top, and ornaments with Elijah's recorded birth times and dates.

In the tree, I wrote, "We were hoping to see you. Instead, we got a tiny glimpse of you." 

We also took a stroll on Christmas Lane to watch all of the lighted and decorated houses, like we did the year prior, but without a child that we were expecting. That place attracts so many parents and families that just everywhere you turn, someone is pushing a stroller or slowly walking with a toddler on hand. I decided that Christmas was too much of a burden, even though it is also our anniversary.

But then, just weeks ago, I was at Daiso, a Japanese "dollar store," and saw Christmas decor hung on the shelves. I secretly had this yearning to put up a tree, even though I didn't want anything to do with Christmas this year. I found a three-foot tree that was only for six dollars! It was about the same size as the tree we had before - only much cheaper and a little smaller.

I bought it. I even looked for baby ornaments for Elijah at another store, but each one said, "Baby's first Christmas." I just wanted to cry. I didn't buy Elijah his first ornament last year. And this year would be Elijah's second Christmas.

I went home, searching in the garage for our old ornaments. One of them was my husband's fishing ornament, it was a fishing pole with a fish family of three that said, "Our family is quite a catch." It's funny because we got that ornament in 2015 - we weren't even expecting that year, but got pregnant with Elijah just two months after that Christmas.

I later hung Elijah's foot and hand print mold onto the tree, along with a the necklace that he and I both shared. I'm still looking for the perfect ornament for Elijah and an angel topper - I may even make one instead.

Although, this year - like the last year - even though I am happy to hold and care for Jazmine, I am not planning to celebrate Christmas eve with the in-laws. It's not because of Jazmine or because of grief, it's because all year, I have been hoping for my rainbow baby.

I would have given anything to be pregnant again. And I would have savored every moment of that pregnancy.

As I look on my "period app," it says that ovulation is on Christmas - not that this stupid thing is ever really accurate. It even says that on Christmas, it is the 25th day of my cycle. How very interesting that the numbers would align. 

It's as if something is screaming out to me, "The twenty-fifth! It's the twenty-fifth!" 

Would we make love on Christmas night, on our anniversary? Would we happen to conceive that day? I don't know. I don't know anymore. And I really don't want to feed myself more false hope. 

I do know that the signs are all there and believe in them. I know in my heart of hearts that there is a baby girl spirit somewhere near. But, I just cannot bear to add more disappointment to my already disappointing world. I don't want to expect anything anymore. 

If you could imagine me throwing in the towel and walking away, that is a very accurate picture of where I am now. I cannot imagine a future anymore because all I really want is to be happy at the present moment. My battle with infertility left me defeated, over-exerted. I have lost and done enough. I surrender. 

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