I got my hair cut on Friday and I hate it. I stood in front of the bathroom mirror tonight trying to tell myself that it wasn’t that bad, but it is and I hate it and I started to cry.
‘What’s wrong?’ R asked when I came to bed, sniffling.
‘I hate it,’ I said. ‘I hate my hair.’
Except it’s not really my hair that’s made me cry. I’ve had a heavy feeling pressing on my chest the last few days. The elation and relief of M’s safe arrival are wearing off and other, familiar emotions are taking some of their place: that old, weighty sorrow that sits right at my solar plexus and lumps up my breastbone into my throat; the anxiety that keeps me up late, wondering, wondering (will he be ok? Will she? Did she feel scared? What will happen to us?) I marvel now at that long stretch of comfort M’s birth provided. I marvel at the endless stretch of days ahead where Anja will still be dead.
This weekend I met in person two women whom I have only known online. One was the wife of a friend who I knew had terminated a pregnancy after it was determined her daughter had trisomy 13. When Anja died she was the only person I could think of who might know what I was feeling and I wrote to my friend and he put us in touch. Her emails in those very early days assured me that I was not going crazy, that I was not wrong to feel as desperate as I did. Today at the playground we hugged like old friends and smiled and looked each other in the eyes. ‘I know,’ our eyes said. ‘I know.’
Yesterday, it was Suzanne whom I hugged. I worried it might be awkward to meet someone I only knew online in person and it sort of was, but when it was time for her to go, I wanted to hold onto her and keep her with me, to sit at that table and talk and talk and talk. I wanted to know so much more about Nathaniel, and about her farm and her living son and then still more about Nathaniel; about what it was like to hold him in that last hour; about how it is to be his mother, every detail; I wanted to know him with her.
It was so good to meet these women. It is always such a relief to be with people who understand. But it is also just so sad. Her baby died. And her baby died. And my baby died. And if you are reading this, chances are good that your baby died, too.
How could I not cry?
I cry, and I know I am a little bit ‘better’ than I was a year ago because then I would not have been able to care enough about my hair to hate it, but I also know that ‘better’ is not what I once thought it would be.