Today a coworker brought her beautiful 8-month-old daughter to work to visit. She’s an adorable little girl, and for some reason she’s one of the few babies who doesn’t make me flinch in pain. She was born just after I got back to work, so by rights seeing her should rip my heart out. I honestly don’t know why she’s the exception. Another coworker heard the baby cooing and emailed to ask me if I was ok after they left. As I was talking with her, I said something that only struck me fully when I re-read my own words. Explaining about my new blog I said, “I find it really helpful to have a creative outlet for what I’m feeling. The gardening helps too. It gives me time to think, and it’s nice to do some physical labor and see a payout.”
I just meant that the physical labor was helpful, because somehow the physical work helps me work out my emotions, and it would be rewarding to have fresh produce. And then I realized that what I said was really much deeper. After having worked for 5 months at growing a baby, and then having gone through labor (completely unprepared, I might add), I have nothing* to show for it. No child to hold, no physical scars from delivery, no birth story to share with other moms. Instead I have a grave to visit, I have a hole in my life and in my heart, I have new emotional reactions that I can’t control. Working in my garden, planting seeds and watching them take root, seeing plants produce vegetables for us to eat; these acts of labor will hopefully provide me with the physical evidence of my work that my pregnancy did not.
Vegetables and flowers certainly can’t replace my child, but I think part of me wants to prove that everything I touch does not die. No matter what I know in my head, for a while I felt in my heart that I had to have something green and growing around me or I would lose my mind. That’s why I forced two planters worth of bulbs for Christmas/New Year’s. I had to prove I could grow something. Then I was much closer to my grief, and more aware of what I was doing. This spring my desire to start a garden wasn’t as transparent to me.
Sunday was Babylost Mother’s Day. To all of the moms who might be reading this with no child to hold, I pray that God grants you peace, understanding, and if it be in His perfect will, the amazing gift of children. I pray that this week and this weekend are gentle for you, and that you are gentle to yourself. Don’t expect too much, and don’t be shocked at what you feel. No one can tell you how your grief should look. No one can or should silence you. Even if you feel alone, know that there are others like you in the world who would listen to your hurt, look into your eyes, and say with all truth “I know exactly what you mean.”