Sometimes it's when you're having the best time that life sneaks up behind you and sticks a knife in your back.
Saturday we took Kaia to the zoo for the first time. I love the zoo. When Aidan died it was one of the many things I feared I would never get to show a child of my own. Although Kaia's too little to fully appreciate it, I made sure to bring my camera so that her zoo trip will be well represented in her book of 'firsts'.
But it wasn't all smiles and giggles.
We went with our friends, male J., female J. and their 22 month old daughter C. Female J. told me back at the beginning of March that she was pregnant with her second child. Two weeks ago however, in the middle of Kaia's bath when we were elbow deep in bubbles and bath toys, Brian's cell phone rang. It was male J. calling to tell us that their 12 week ultrasound showed no growth beyond 8 weeks. Baby was gone. Had been for awhile. D&C was scheduled for a week ago Friday.
Hearing their news dredged up old hurtful memories for Brian and I. Remembering that sinking sick feeling when the ultrasound room gets a bit too quiet. The shock of biology gone awry. The awkwardness during calls to friends and family to share the bad news. Shelving hopes and dreams far in the back of the mental closet. The discomfort of never really knowing what happened, or how to prevent it from happening again.
A week out, J. & J. are doing okay. They say they are at peace with what happened. But, I can only imagine that next time, this experience won't be far from their thoughts.
Then Saturday night during my last pump of the day, I was reading through my blogs like I always do, while also tooling around on Amazon in search of the perfect baby shower gift for my cousin. The shower was the following day as my cousin was in town. She and her husband live in the States so it was deemed easier for everyone to celebrate here, but send gifts in the mail via Amazon. Thus avoiding her having to shlep through airports with a million baby gifts in tow. I left buying her gift to the last minute and therefore I had to choose between the inevitable 'less cute' baby items on the list.
In the midst of this I clicked over to my blog and saw a new post from Becky. Oh that's right, I thought, Becky's C-section was scheduled for today. How nice, her 'rainbow' baby must be here!
Then I read her post. And re-read it. And read it again.
Her daughter had been born almost a week ago.
She died two days later.
I'm pretty sure I didn't breathe for a full minute...all the air seemed to have left the room.
Oh no. Ohnoohnoohnoohno...no that can't be right. It just can't. Her account must have been hacked. Someone must be playing a sick joke. Becky's son died last year. This was her much hoped for, much wanted, much needed rainbow baby. This baby is suppose to be alive and healthy and learning how to eat and poop and delighting everyone with her grip strength and adorable baby coos. She is NOT suppose to be dead. Definitely not.
I was so ANGRY. I wanted to launch my computer across the room. Kick something. Scream at the fucking UNFAIRNESS of it all. Everyone knows that any baby born after the dead one is suppose to be given an automatic pass. Nothing bad is suppose to touch them. Nothing terrible is allowed to happen. Dead baby moms who go on to have a subsequent pregnancy are understandably nervous wrecks through out the whole thing...but in the end everything is suppose to be fine. The new baby is suppose to arrive big and healthy and full term, wondering what all the fuss was about. If the new baby could roll it's eyes and sigh like a teenager it would, "Jeez mom, relax, I'm fine!". Big kisses and hugs and happy tears all around. Roll credits.
One dead baby in a lifetime is more than enough.
It immediately brought me back to last year on March 24th when I was convinced my rainbow baby would die. In those weeks after my water broke I was in turns numb, heartbroken, enraged, despondent and so, so bitter. That termination was once again being offered as a suitable way to end my pregnancy made me want to kick the doctor in the teeth. I didn't know what to do. I spent a lot of time spacing out, staring at the wall. That is, when I wasn't crying the ugly cry. The pain was overwhelming. All the dignity, grace and even acceptance I had fought for in the 11 months since Aidan died was immediately ripped away. It ran out of me in one big gush along with my amniotic fluid. I was SO ANGRY, so hurt, and yet so empty. How could this happen AGAIN? It felt like the universe was conspiring against us.
In those weeks after my water broke, I feel I got a small glimpse into what a second loss would look like. I learned that baby loss after baby loss is not grief added together, the way 1 + 1 = 2. No, a second loss is grief squared. The depth of loss is compounded in a way that is almost too much to bear. A dizzying fall down a cold, dark pit that has no bottom. There are some things that you just can't come back from. That Kaia beat the odds and my second pregnancy eventually ended well is the biggest and best gift we have ever, or will ever receive. We never ever forget how lucky we are.
So it was in this head space that I had to get up and head to my cousin's baby shower the next day. I've had enough practice by now that I felt I did okay keeping the lid on my dead baby crazies. They were still there though, under the surface, which if anyone had looked close enough I'm sure they could see. Baby showers are still not my thing. They are rendered bearable due to having Kaia and the cake that is inevitably served, but they still give me the willies. Not because I'm envious anymore. Not because I don't believe the baby deserves to be welcomed with style, because of course he or she does. Not even because I think the shower will 'jinx' the impending arrival. Babies arrive healthy, without incident every single day all around the world.
But some don't.
That fact alone is enough to spoil the festivities for me. Every family deserves that happy ending, and it makes me so sad that not everyone gets it. Someone has to be on the losing end of statistics and sometimes it's you. Baby showers are just too shiny, happy, hopeful for me after reading about so many of us for whom the baby shower was one of the last happy occasions. Having seen behind the curtain, I just can't un-see it anymore.
Because for any baby to not come home is tragic. But a rainbow baby?