Note: this is a deeply personal story. I’m still struggling to articulate it – in real life and in words. As a writer, I find it impossible to not process my feelings in narrative form. As a journalist, I find it equally impossible to write only for myself, which is why I have a blog and not a journal.
On Dec. 1, I lost my second son due to (still mostly) unexplained reasons. He was 18 weeks old – too early to be considered stillborn, too late to still be a secret. The experience wrecked me in some way. Despite my attempts at maintaining a sunny disposition, I withered. Despite my naturally steely resolve, I withered. Despite having just grieved the death of my sister’s newborn, I withered. Despite knowing nothing good would come from turning to the internet, I Googled – and withered. The people who knew me best thought I was doing OK. How could I let them think otherwise? No one wants to talk about dead babies, so I put on a nice face, feigned levelheadedness and withered.
Each night, I searched the web for stories like mine in a fruitless attempt to find answers or peace or a crystal ball forecasting that this will never happen again.
Yet Google never brought me peace. It just made the situation worse. I cursed my luck. I cursed my body. I cursed the shitty misfortune of being born a woman and not a man. It’s always easier for men, or at least it is in the MINDFUCK that is reproduction. I cursed my genes. I held my sister as the doctors pulled her baby off a respirator. I watched in horror as my niece, born full term to loving parents, took her last breath. It was a moment so awful, so cruel and so sad that I vowed I would never write about it. Instead, I channeled this sadness into something positive – an online photo project that went semi viral. I wanted my sister to know that her daughter mattered. Now here I was, exactly six months later, curled up on my bathroom floor, moments away from delivering a boy who wouldn’t matter in the most literal sense. At 18 weeks, he wasn’t even old enough to warrant a birth or death certificate.