All of this happened over a week ago. It’s taken some time to talk about it. Mostly because I don’t know how to describe this. Part of my feels like I’m being self-indulgent. This happens so often. And I truly have so much to feel grateful for. But any loss diminishes me. Sand is washed out to sea and this continent is the lesser for it.
When I heard Ellis thumping around in her crib an hour after bedtime, I went upstairs. I opened the door and she greeting me grinning, her hair tumbling into her eyes. She lifted her arms over her head in a little hallelujah.
I hoisted her up into my lap and settled into the black and white chair that was our nursery splurge back when she was just an early morning vomit and a late night worry.
We rocked. Her head nestled right into the curve of my neck and her body fit against mine like the perfect puzzle piece. Her knees curled in my lap. Her little bottom resting on my forearms. I patted her back and she patted my arm. It’s amazing how bodies fit together. Fingers interlock. Baby bums on mommy hips. The big spoons fit the little spoons. Small heads nestle perfectly into chests. Tiny tushies perch on arms.
Usually when we rock, I sing. “Buckeyed Jim,” “You are My Sunshine,” and “Old Joe Clark.” Songs that remind me how I used to fit on the piano stool next to my mom, thigh to thigh. But that night I didn’t sing. It was all I could do not to think about how just 20 minutes earlier, I had leaned my head into Dave’s shoulder, right where it fits, just to the right of his collar bone, and told him that I was still bleeding. The baby we thought was there was breaking away.
I sometimes think of loss on a sliding scale. It’s not a 10. It’s maybe a 7. It feels like a 7. But compared to other pain I see it should only be a five. But no matter how something breaks away, it’s still a loss. I wish that all of this had just ebbed and flowed out of me while I remained unaware. It was so early. I didn’t like knowing.
But I have to know. I have to think about it every time I go into the bathroom and grab another pad, every time my stomach cramps up, every time I flush. This baby didn’t fit inside. And now I have to say goodbye, one awful toilet trip at a time. It’s crude and ugly this business of breaking.