Not a single day goes by without me thinking of my girls. For one, it’s hard to ignore the alien feeling of someone flipping around inside you or kicking you or playing your ribs like a xylophone. And for two, it’s hard to forget the dreams that I had. It’s hard to keep myself in check when I start thinking about October and seeing my girls’ faces. And it’s hard to not die a little more inside every time I remember that I only get to take one of them home with me when all is said and done.
Two months have gone by. Two months ago, I had just turned 30 and figured this was going to be the most amazing year of my life – scary and exhausting, but amazing. Two months ago, we still had our library intact and hadn’t really even started contemplating turning it into a nursery. Two months ago, I felt big already and smiled at the thought that I was nowhere near as big as I was going to get carrying my two precious girls. Two months ago, I slept soundly knowing that my little girls were safe, sound, and healthy inside me.
Two days from now, two months will have gone by since my world came crashing down. Who knew one 15-minute conversation could change everything. It changed my hopes, my dreams, my future. It changed me.
I know I talk a lot about Cate and about how much I think about her and miss her. Peter expressed concern the other night that I don’t concentrate much on Olivia and how we’ll be bringing her home very soon. And he’s right. I don’t concentrate much on her right now. But let me explain.
Yes, every night, I sleep with the stuffed panda bear that we bought at the Vienna zoo after learning about our embryos.
*Side note: I assigned this one in my head to Cate long ago because when I slept with both bears (the other was a polar bear) out of superstition that keeping them close would make the embryos stick, give me good news at appointments, etc., the panda bear always stayed put. Polar bear went on adventures. We knew from ultrasounds that Olivia was our diva and Cate was our little cuddle bug. So panda=Cate, polar=Liv.
Yes, I spend my spare time trying to figure out the best way to memorialize my daughter. It’s morbid, but I find comfort in researching what our options are.
No, I can’t go into the nursery without thinking about how there should be two names on that, two cribs in there, twice as many clothes.
Yes, when I put my hands on my belly, I go immediately to the area where I last felt Cate kicking, and where, based on recent imaging, I think she is now. I hold on tight, and sometimes I cry. Sometimes I cry harder than I’ve ever cried before. Sometimes I cry so hard that I think I’ll never take another breath, that I just physically can’t inhale.
But think about it. 29 weeks pregnant this week. I will give birth to these girls at the end of October, in 11 weeks, give or take. God willing, Peter and I will take Olivia home with us and raise our beautiful little girl and spend many happy years with her, watching her grow.
And in 11 weeks, give or take, Cate will be taken away from me physically. No, she hasn’t been with me in weeks now. But I carry her tiny body with me, and will for another 11 weeks. And then she’s gone. I’ll see her briefly, I’ll hold her and love on her as best I can, and then a nurse or someone will take her from me. I will never see her again. Never hold her, never have her near me, not physically. And when it comes to a child, believing that she’s “never truly gone” is fine and dandy, but nothing can replace holding your child, kissing her goodnight, hugging her tight. Nothing.
My heart is broken beyond repair, I think. Having Olivia here with us will help me tremendously. But my entire being hurts over the thought of burying my daughter. And I am devastated for Liv over the loss of her sister and best friend. One day, she will reach out for this person she shared my womb with for ten months, and that person won’t be there for her. It’ll just be me. Or Peter. And I know, when it comes right down to it, that may not be enough.