When you lose a baby, you lose everything. You lose all the hopes and dreams you held dear over those ten months (or fewer, for those who have losses before full-term), you lose confidence, hope, courage, strength. Your sense of control. It’s all gone, even if it’s only for a short amount of time. All you have left to you is grief. It’s the only thing that’s real; everything else is just an illusion.

These things that you’ve lost, they aren’t recovered easily. Fear and doubt are your new  companions. Sadness settles right in along with them. Hope is hard to hold on to. In this world of the babylost, nothing is guaranteed. Pregnancy promised a baby, a future, parenthood – but a babyloss parent doesn’t have these things, not exactly as they should be. We have twisted versions of them, and so we know: promises aren’t always kept. Just because you want something doesn’t mean you’re going to get it.

Losing a baby demonstrates to you that you have no control over anything in life, no matter how hard you try. This is a lesson that is just as hard to deal with as the grief that comes from losing your child.

I did everything I possibly could to protect Lauren, from the very moment I knew of her. I never touched alcohol (I couldn’t even stand the smell of it), I developed the habit of sleeping on my left side, I eschewed raw fish, I took pre-natal vitamins (even though they are not in abundance the way they are in the States, and my doctor didn’t feel I really needed them), I ate healthy and tried not to gain too much weight (only 15 pounds total!), and I tried to cut back on caffeine.

And Lauren still died.

Here is what you do gain when you lose a baby: guilt, doubt, fear, despair, a sudden realization that you never had control and you never will. None of this is entirely rational, but that’s the point. You can’t rationalize the unexplained death of a baby. It defies reason. I’m sure other babyloss parents could add to this list. Anger, for one. Frustration. An inability to trust.

Perhaps these new gifts are not present each and every day, nor are they all present at the same time. They come and go. They come, and we suffer through these days, wondering when we will be free of them. They go, and we rest easy and believe we’re able to be okay again. And then when those old, dark feelings return, we’re blinded by them, struggling with the demons we thought we had already conquered. They keep coming back. All we can do is learn how to better deal with them.

The triggers are unpredictable. I can go through a pile of Lauren’s clothes and be weighed down by sadness, but I can continue to function. But suddenly I have to make a phone call, and I crash, unable to even think about picking up the telephone without tears coming to my eyes. I can’t explain why. All I know is that I cannot physically make this call. I know I’ll start sobbing in the middle of a conversation with a person I don’t know and have never met.

(Point: I could barely get through that paragraph without the threat of tears.)

Losing a baby is like opening Pandora’s box: you become haunted by all these negative feelings, everything that you tried to keep at bay during the pregnancy. Early on, it’s a constant battle, but eventually, you have to learn how to live with it all. Some days are easier than others.

Which brings us to hope. In terms of Pandora, hope is left at the bottom of the box; the common interpretation is that the box is again shut, sealing hope away from those who need it. I don’t agree. Hope is kept treasured, hard to get at but present when we need it. For the babylost, hope is our saving grace. We have to have hope – otherwise, what is the point of going on with life?

All through November and December, I struggled with dreams of losing Geordie. I haven’t had one since the beginning of the year. A victory, even if I’m not sure how it came about. But fear and doubt are never gone from me for long. Now, they’re focused on this potential job situation of mine. For the past 10 days, many of my dreams have been set in classrooms, troubling dreams that I can’t remember but leave me with those old, familiar feelings of fear and doubt. I can only keep moving forward, to work through these feelings and not against them.

Which is why I will repeat what I said yesterday: I have to believe there will be another day to try again. I have to believe that, if I fail today, I’ll have tomorrow. That’s hope. I fall down, I can pick myself back up. I can have a day that breaks me completely, because I can rebuild myself a little stronger. Hope does that.

I’m not at a place where I can only live for today. Everything is dark here and now, in the shadow of Lauren’s absence. Hope is the light, even if it’s a hope I can’t touch right now. It’s a light shed by my hopes, by the people who love and support me. It’s what keeps me going. If I can’t live for tomorrow, what’s the use of today? Without the promise of tomorrow, I can’t use today to its fullest, even if it’s only to endure that which presses me down, the demons of the babylost.

There will be a tomorrow. It will be there with or without me. I want to be there; some days I am, some days I am not. As long as there is a tomorrow, I’ll keep going.

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