I woke in the morning with anxiety and a headache. One week to the day from my D&C and I was set to return to work. I had not been working since the Monday before when my husband Michael and I first learned our baby boy had died in my womb. Michael returned to work Monday. I went with him, not quite ready to not be by his side. Tuesday I was set to leave Denver and head to Seattle to live tweet an event and present to small business owners. I love these trips. I love to travel. I live to present. I don’t know what I was thinking would happen as I walked through the doors of Denver International Airport but the usual lift of excitement that generally propels me through the airport was gone. Every step was heavy. The paths towards my gate seemed to elongate before my eyes. Every forward motion of my feet taking me further and further my husband.
These trips are always so much fun for me as the team I work with comes together at our event location from around the country. We work well together and we play well together decompressing after each event with laughter and jaunts to local tourist traps and favorite local food stands. Philly cheesesteak in Philly, the shredded beef joint in Chicago, and yesterday the Ferris wheel in Seattle.
I felt an incredible need to keep the conversation light. Each person who hugged me and said they were sorry I told “It’s ok…” feeling that it was my responsibility to put them at ease. They asked me how I was. I answered with some honesty…”pretty crappy…” but then I had to add “but fine.” I did not want any of these wonderful people to be burdened by my overwhelming sadness. I did not want to cast a pall. Quite frankly I also did not want to feel the weight of my own sadness crushing my soul.
I walked through the Pike Place Market, teeming with people, with my sister like friend and colleague and at each stall I found myself searching for something that would ease my pain. This is not the time for me to spend large mounts of money on the healing stones artfully molded into silver necklaces and rings for hundreds of dollars but I found a small stone with a hand etched in the center a raised heart coming out of the palm. $11. I bought the stone.
As we walked through the market and headed to meet the others for dinner I tightly clasped the stone in my palm holding on for dear life. With my thumb I could feel the raised outline of the heart. I rubbed and squeezed pouring my sad energy from every pour of my body into the heat of the stone. The heart was my baby Peanut. If I could no longer feel him in my womb at least I could rub this little heart and feel as though he was with me.
My greatest grief is the loss of feeling him inside me. In those last days I was sure I could feel him move around and the gentle early sensation of kicking. I know now that I was wrong. He was already gone as I focused so hard and so desperately wanted to feel his movements. I miss rubbing my tummy and feeling that in those moments Peanut was feeling my love and the closeness of being wrapped in me as he grew. I dreamed of those moments after birth when he would be set upon my abdomen and then brought to my chest for a first kiss. I agonized about missing out on breast feeding as I had bilateral mastectomies several years ago so no longer have the equipment to perform the miracle of nurturing my child from my body. I mourned that loss not once imagining that I’d never even get to feel the warmth and weight of my baby in my arms.
I lay here in my hotel bed at 4:00 in the morning listening to the seagulls over the vast Seattle waterfront and my arms physically ache for the feeling of my baby. They hurt. The muscles were ready for the daily task of lifting baby safely nestled in his car seat into the backseat for our daily adventures. Ready for the dozens of lifts up to the changing table for clean diapers. Ready for the evening ritual of bath time in the infant bath next to the sink. Ready for rocking to sleep while singing evening prayers and for soothing fears and sadness and the angst that sometimes comes along with being baby.
My arms are empty. They hurt and they ache knowing they are to remain empty.
In a few more hours the sun will rise over the glistening waters and the rush of morning traffic will fill the streets. Hundreds of small business owners will fill the rooms we have prepared for our events and I will put on my best smile and greet each of these individuals with the respect they are due for taking risks most of us will never face and being the small unrecognized army that bolsters our economy with each new product they bring to market and each new person they employ. They deserve my respect and full attention. They deserve for me to be on.
I miss my husband beyond words. My uterus cramps and aches. My arms seek the comfort of holding my Peanut. But my body will begin the march forward. I will do my work and I will keep my little rock in the palm of my hand to give me strength and make me feel, even for just a minute, that I am stroking the heart of my Peanut and that he is near.