Your mommy is a perfectionist. I love knowing precisely how things ought to be done. I like to know how one ought to behave in certain situations, how to write that essay perfectly, how to do my job as well as possible. I love fixed form poetry (like sonnets) because I know exactly how many lines and syllables I ought to have, and how the lines need to rhyme.
But when it comes to grief, I don’t know what I’m doing. I prefer to be led by reason rather than emotion. But reason can’t get me through love and loss the same as emotion can, and is doing. It’s a strange place to be, because there is no right or wrong way for me to love you and grieve you.
No one can tell me how much I ought to love you. You were only 9 weeks’ gestation, but my body held you for two more weeks, so to my mind you were 11 weeks. You were never viable. As much as I’d like to blame myself, biologically you would not have survived. I know this. I have known this. But no facts or reason diminish my love. Had you been born without a chance of thriving, I would have loved and grieved you no more and no less.
At my follow-up appointment on Friday the doctor assured me there was nothing I did wrong. That miscarriage is usually the body getting rid of a non-viable fetus before you get too attached. She didn’t mean it unkindly, but I have heard from women who knew they were pregnant only a day and grieved for months. But I have also known women who were pregnant for months and grieved briefly, and moved on. There is no right amount of grief, just as there is no right amount of love.
I knew I loved your daddy and wanted to marry him after one month of dating him. I know families who wait for that phone call to come meet their adoptive child, who wait for months or even years, and when they finally get the call and meet their child, they fall in love in one day.
From the day I knew you existed to the day I knew you had left me was 7 weeks and four days. I wish I could ask someone the right amount of love and the correct amount of grief I ought to have for that time period. I see the world around me ceasing little by little to ask me how I’m doing and I see them moving on, which I understand and expect. But my grief is still very much present. Such a thing as “the correct amount of love and grief” does not exist.
It is strange for me to not have a rule to follow. I feel I must move on and do life normally again and run errands and get my hair cut and meet people for coffee and return my library books again. I must live now without you. No one expects me to pretend it never happened. Everyone who loves me knows you will always be an enormous part of my life. But will people become frustrated with me if they think I am clinging to grief? Not that it matters what others think.
I have been surprisingly encouraged by the number of people who have reminded me, “it’s only been a few weeks–let yourself grieve,” or “I’ve been there. It takes a long time just to feel normal again,” and by the number of pins on Pinterest with quotes about grief that say things like, “Healing takes time. You are doing the best you can and that is perfect” or “just because I’m used to it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt anymore,” or “everyone keeps telling me I can just get pregnant again and have another baby. But I wanted that pregnancy. I wanted that baby,” and I feel comforted by the knowledge that I am not alone.
And then I hear of women who convince themselves that it’s not a big deal, biology was simply at work, there’s no need to name the child, just move on. And I wonder if I’m a fool. But no–Rowan, I loved you deeply. I loved knowing you were in there with me. You were changing my everything–my perspective on life and love, my energy, my tastes, my pants size. You were so present, so real, so alive, so loved. I do not know how to grieve you and when to stop. I wish I did–I would feel more in control of my life. I like control. I have pride. But you seem to have removed both of those things in me and I must live, confused, alone, grieved, and missing you.
There is no right amount of love to have felt for a child, whether pregnant for a day or for nine months. There is no right amount of grief to work through either. If the world looks at me funny three months from now when I still sit in my car or at work and cry for you, I must not let myself care what they think. When the world doesn’t understand the depths of my (likely post-partum) depression, it doesn’t matter. I loved you and I grieve you. There is no timeline for that.