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Life After Loss: The New Normal

A new friend of mine invited us to his theater production last Friday night. He runs a nonprofit theater group for kids. He's been working on a new project: original musicals for kids to perform. We were supposed to go last month, but that was before we lost the baby and I was still having early pregnancy symptoms — I was just too tired and irritated to get it together to drag myself out of the house. I promised him we would be there this time, and even though I have not been feeling so hot emotionally or physically, I decided we had to go.

I keep thinking, "I need to get back to normal." I still haven't spoken to my family. I'm ashamed to say my brother's wife stopped by unannounced and I hid in my room and made my husband tell her that I wasn't ready to see people yet. When I look at in writing, it almost seems silly to me, almost. But I just couldn't face her. I didn't feel like hugging and wailing. When she texted and said she was in the neighborhood, we were watching "Orange Is the New Black" and I wasn't crying. When my husband came upstairs to tell me she had left, I was back in bed, staring out the window wiping my nose with a pile of tissues. I'm still not eating in an optimal fashion; I still burst into tears; I still feel incredibly sad.

I keep thinking, "I need to get back to normal"

I thought getting out of the house and watching some theater seemed like a good step, but it was bittersweet. I had read that after a miscarriage, certain things can trigger you, and I have experienced terrible sadness when I see a woman walking with a round pregnant belly, little toddlers tumbling around the neighborhood or plot lines about pregnancy on shows. I expect those things to make me sad, and if my husband is with me when it happens, he always takes my hand or rubs my leg or pulls me close if I start crying.

My friend's two boys were sitting in front of us, and the sight of their little heads covered in curls so much like my husband's overwhelmed me. They got a little squirmy during the show and turned around, flashing their light eyes set in their little tan faces at us from time to time. His daughter couldn't have been more than two and kept trying to get to her daddy even though he was in the show. Her perfect face, green eyes, blonde curls, brown skin and "Daddy!" squeals filled me with such sadness. Looking at those beautiful babies, seeing them crawl on their grandmother's lap and get swept up in their mother's arms, it was heartbreaking for me.

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I had mixed feelings about being pregnant. I wasn't thrilled like I thought I should be, but one of the things that got me excited about the pregnancy was imagining what our baby would look like. I loved thinking about that. My husband was an adorable baby and I was pretty cute myself. I was curious as to what our mix would create. I was not alone in my sadness when I was looking at those kids, my husband's hand was in mine and as we listened to the teen girls sings their songs about bullying, drugs and abortion, our fingers curled tightly into each other, half listening to the music and half lost, thinking about what could have been.

The hardest thing for me right now is that I am still recovering from the D&C, they told me at the clinic that it's usually 1 to 2 weeks of bleeding and spotting, sometimes longer. I'm on week 3. The flow varies but it is always there, a constant reminder. And it means we can't try again and we don't know when we will be able — it's a terrible waiting game. When I saw those beautiful, curly-haired children laughing and running and loving the theater, my grief became amplified all over again, haunted by what I thought our baby might have been like and what my husband and I would be like as parents. I wanted to comfort myself with the thought of "someday," but not knowing when I will be recovered and when my cycle will return to normal has me in such an uncertain place that "someday" is cold comfort.

I want to know now; I want to have a tangible hope made in our bed. But I am denied that by my body. A friend of mine told me she felt like her body had failed her when she had a miscarriage; I feel like mine is failing me now, by not getting back to normal. But maybe it knows — I'm not back to normal and I need more time to heal and to grieve for what was, before we can make what will be.

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