October 3, 2013
“How are you doing?”
That is perhaps the most difficult question to answer after losing a baby. At least that’s been the case for me. How exactly am I supposed to answer that question? On what scale am supposed to evaluate my well-being? And, really, does the asker truly have the time (let alone want) to hear the real answer? This is my second go at this thing, this mourning a baby journey. And if there is one thing I’ve learned from the first time to the next, it’s that even within the same person, the experience is not the same.
After losing John Blaise nearly three years ago, part of me kept waiting for life to return to normal. After all, it seemed, the rest of the world around me continued on as usual and I was expected to join back in.
I’m not sure when I realized that expectation was based on a myth.
MYTH: Life will return to normal.
Maybe the myth isn’t that life will return to some kind of base state, but rather, that such a state as “normal” exists at all. After losing John Blaise I came to learn it would be “normal” for me to ache at the sight of a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy. My “normal” included a new depth of knowledge of pregnancy risks and statistics. “Normal” would include awkward moments in the grocery line when my five-year-old son would inform an innocent passer-by that, “actually, there are four boys, but one died.”
“Normal” came to mean spiritual growing pains, being blindsided by anxiety, and a greater appreciation for my boys here on earth.
How can a woman feel “normal” again
when she has had a child die inside of her?
One month ago today my world was shaken again when Alexander was stillborn at 18weeks 6days. I have felt anything but “normal.” I have felt broken, angry, empty, sad, exhausted, and rejected, but never “normal.” I have felt like an outsider to myself. Like an unworthy mother to the children I have here, and I have felt profoundly grateful to have been entrusted with them. I have felt lost. I have felt so very loved by my family and friends. But not “normal.”
And the irony is that all that I’m going through is… normal.
I believe that time and faith can ease all wounds. Whether those wounds are from grief, rejection, addiction, or other affliction. But the myth of “normal” is dangerous. We cannot un-become who we are, what life has grown us into. To long for “normal” is to want a more ignorant, less life-experienced self. I have decided not to wish for that anymore.
So, while life may never be “normal” again, maybe the key to consider is that the only thing that is consistently normal is that normal changes.
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