We've had exceptionally warm weather here in the Midwest. I hear the birds chirping in the early morning and see the sun rising on my way to work. Normally, the transition from winter to spring/summer was something I looked forward to, something I would eagerly anticipate every year. But lately, it's a reminder of what last year's spring/summer meant to me. It marked the beginning of my grief journey, the beginning of feeling the most immense pain of my life. It marks the death of Ethan.
I remember so clearly, the warm wind on my tear moistened cheeks, my swollen eyes, I looked like a boxer the day after a big match. I wanted to be away from it, away from the sunlight. I wanted to recluse in the solitude of my bedroom, but I couldn't. I had Jason to look after. He kept me going. He was also broken. After the funeral everyone returned to their lives, me I was just beginning my new life, the life of a mother of a dead baby.
Not was I just learning how to function in my new reality, I was also experiencing engorged breasts. My body apparently didn't know I had no baby to nurse. My boobs were hard as rocks. I had to wear nursery pads, I remember when my husband returned from the grocery store with the box of them, I broke down. The box had a chunky, smiling baby being held by his gleaming mother. I grabbed the box and threw it way, took out the pads and placed them in my sanitary napkin pile. I wanted nothing more than to nurse my baby, nurture my Ethan. I had the constant reminder of physical pain that indeed there was no baby, but the milk kept flowing as if trying to keep up with the tears I was shedding. I remember sobbing in the shower, this was my safe place to cry, and looking down at my breast release the milk. It was one of the worst reminders of what I should have been doing, nursing my child. I did look up on the Internet how to dry out your milk and would find all of these nursing mother websites. Eventually, I managed to read a couple of them and concluded that tightly bounded breast would slow down the milk production, I did, with a huge ace wrap I had my husband bind my breast. I also read along the way that frozen cabbage leaves applied to the breast would lessen the pain. I tried this as well, did it work? I'm not sure, but the coldness did soothe somewhat. After about 1 month, the milk did stop flowing. Although, I continued to leak for quite some time after that.
May sweeps came and went, I didn't have the TV shows I was used to watching put me in a trance. Everything was changing, school was out, kids were playing outside, the sun was brighter and our days were painfully long. Outside everybody was happy, smiling, lives continued. Yet, mine and that of our family halted to a complete stop. We were all lost. We didn't know what to do with ourselves. I remember feeling completely at a loss. My house was in shambles, I was barely able to take care of Jason's needs. I didn't want to cry in front of him, yet I was crying all day long. Eventually, my husband returned to work. And I was home with Jason, alone with him. I didn't have the energy to take him outside to play, I didn't want to see anybody. But, I had to do something. I had to take care of him. So, my days consisted of searching and reading blogs, I started my own deadbabymama blog. I let Jason do the unthinkable, vegetate in front of the TV. Then I slowly began to get a routine going again, I started going to the YMCA. This was my way of letting Jason play with other kids while in the kid watch area. And I began walking then running. This was the only thing that would release the pressure building up in my chest, I wanted to scream, I felt as if my head would soon burst. I would blast the music in my ears and run, run and run. I was sweating and the sweat would mask my tears. I would listen to all of the music that I'd listen to during my pregnancy, and I would think of Ethan and cry because he was no longer here, he was dead. We'd stay there 2 hours a day. And this is how I spent those painfully long days of summer.
As the summer winds begin to make an appearance once again, I fear going through the same kind of summer I had last year. I fear the milk engorged breasts with no baby to nurse, I fear the long, dreadful summer days. I fear the look of Jason's eyes looking into mine and asking, "Mommy why did our baby die?"