It’s been three months to the day since we lost Emmett. I keep rechecking the calendar to see if that’s right; I feel like I’ve changed so much that it must have been three years. January 19th. A lifetime ago.
J’s MA Capstone Colloquium was last night, and she was brilliant. She presented on queer parenting, which, if E hadn’t had blood clots, we’d be only a couple of months away from practicing. Her words made me believe in what we’re doing (or what we’re trying desperately to do) all over again. One of her fellow panelists presented on evangelical Christianity and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and when she discussed the scene when Willow tries to get dressed for Joyce’s funeral and falters, telling Tara that she can’t do it, I started crying. I’ve felt that emotion so many times these past months. I can’t do this. I can’t feel this way any longer. I can’t survive this loss. But then you just do. There’s no choice.
L’s comment on my last post meant so much, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot these past few days. It’s strange because it was the worst day of my life, but I find it comforting to remember that I have labored; I did, in a sad, sad way, join that club. I had months of fatigue, and all.day sickness, and insomnia. I felt the elation of knowing I was carrying our first born, the secret of it. I felt the exhaustion of the first trimester wear off, felt the energy of the second trimester kick in. J talked to our daughter (Baby G) all the time, and kissed my growing belly softly every night. For the last month or so, real pants were out of the question, and I fell in love with the stretchy tops of maternity jeans. I sang to E when we were alone. Once, in an elevator, I put my hand on my belly when I felt dizzy, and a stranger asked if the baby seemed not to like the sensation of rising. We saw her kicking and stretching in ultrasound photos. She made me have to pee about a thousand times a night. I wasn’t nine months along when I went into labor, and my baby didn’t live, but I labored for five hours before giving birth to our daughter. I was in agony (physically and emotionally). I pushed her out of my body with no help beyond my amazing mom and my amazing wife. She had the most perfect hands I’ve ever seen. I bled for a month after, and it took over six weeks for my pregnancy hormones to abate. My milk came in. I had no one to feed, but I could have. I felt the ache of that. I know it’s flawed thinking to believe that carrying a child is what makes me whole, and I’ll work on that. In the meantime, though, I did carry a child for nearly four months, and the time that E and I were together is no less significant because of its brevity, or because my child is not here. Thank you, L, for that perspective.
I’m also trying to remember that, when compared to many, many women who face the heartbreaking reality of not being able to carry to term (which, by the way, puts me in a whole different camp of strong, brave women in the world), I have LOTS of tools at my disposal. I have my education, which offers me outlets for understanding this loss, and for learning to live with it healthfully. I have theories (queer theory, various feminist theories) that can help me reshape my vision of womanhood, and motherhood, and femininity at large. I have a wife who can (I pray) make a baby, or babies, or even, if we choose to prioritize this and if we discover that my eggs aren’t too compromised by the clotting disorder, my biological baby. J and I are on track to (one day. we pray.) have jobs that will allow us to afford adoption (if we can find jobs in a state that deems us fit to parent). I have friends and family who, whether they understand this kind of loss or not, will listen and support me as I struggle to make sense of it. And I am adaptable. My crazy childhood came with some downsides, but one major upside is that I can roll with the punches. I feel the depth of these losses (Emmett. Other children inside of me. The notion of giving life.) in my head and my heart all the time right now. But the idea of carrying a child is a narrative, and J and I are master narrative re-writers. As our friend K said to J on the phone a few days ago, it’s as if we’ve been in a creative writing workshop for the past three months. And we go in, again and again, and are told to rewrite some central aspect of the narrative. So we rewrite. And we rewrite. And we love the narratives we’re writing over, but we’re forced to let them go. Oh, for livable narratives that we’re allowed to keep.