A season on your own terms
My twins died at the end of September, 2009. I’d spent the previous months fighting the heat and humidity of a New York summer while simultaneously battling Twin-to-twin Transfusion Syndrome, the placental disorder that, for almost 16 weeks, had been threatening to, and ultimately did, steal our unborn daughter’s lives.
When I think back to that summer, I remember nothing of the fun and sun that is supposed to accompany a young family’s life. Instead, I remember the doctor’s appointments, waiting in the stale, humid air for the valet to bring us our car after yet another appointment that brought no clear answers and left us to simply “wait and see.” I remember walking through the unbearable heat, literally holding my too-large belly to relieve the pressure on my pelvis, and I remember the bus station where every morning I’d hobble off the bus and down the long platform amidst the filthy stench of exhaust fumes and sweat, just to get to the one escalator, because I knew the long, narrow stairwells were not my friend.
Ultimately, the summer passed and so did our girls. The days grew cooler and I returned to work, oblivious to the world around me as I was buried under the weight of a grief that had turned everything a single shade of gray.
By the following summer, I was pregnant again. Our rainbow was due in October, just weeks after the anniversary of our loss, and I spent that pregnancy in fear. As the days grew hotter and my belly grew larger, I once again became aware of the toll the summer heat was taking on my body. Again, I took no joy in the sunshine and beauty of summer. Instead, I cursed it for reminding me of what my body had experienced the year before. I grew to despise- more than ever before- that morning commute and the disgusting heat of the bus station, so much so that I stopped going to work almost a month before my due date. As I sit here typing, try as I might, I simply can’t remember much else about that summer, other than the morning I had a panic attack in the bus station which ultimately landed me in a local hospital. I hadn’t felt my daughter move for a few hours. Turns out, she’s just a deep sleeper. I receiving a rented doppler machine in the mail a few days later and used it every day after to check her precious little heartbeat.
And last year. My first summer in 2 years without a baby inside me. I remember the day I ‘noticed’ that summer could maybe feel good again. It was the smells that brought me back. The smell of summer at my house- the freshly cut grass which suddenly felt promising again. The smell of our neighbors’ BBQ which made me want to sit outside with friends and enjoy a burger and cold beer.
My loss had taught me so much about myself and the life I wanted to live- a life spent with my loved ones, doing that which feeds my soul and honors my daughters and the talents & gifts I was blessed with to share in this world.
But that bus station. It taunted me. Every day last summer, as I got off the bus into the filthy heat and stench of the bus station, as I easily bounced down those steps in my healthy, able-body, just to spend those beautiful summer days handcuffed behind a computer in a stuffy, uninspired office. It felt like a betrayal to the lessons I’d learned, the lessons my daughter’s lives were intended to teach me.
In September I quit. On the three year anniversary of the day we said goodbye, after months of internal struggle and discontent, I walked into my bosses office and told him I couldn’t do it anymore. I could no longer betray my heart.
It hasn’t been easy, I won’t lie. There are days I have no idea what to do and days the stress of not having a steady income leaves me freaking the hell out. But in my heart of hearts I know that this is where I’m supposed to be. I know I have angels that are guiding me and this summer, I’ll breath in deeply and smell the beauty of a season lived on my own terms, a season spent honoring my daughters, my journey and the strength that they have planted inside of me.
We walk this journey but once in this earth bound body. Allow your losses and struggles to lift you up and empower you to live this life with fearless abandon. You’ve lived through the worst. You can handle anything.