Yesterday, I spoke on a parent panel at the local hospital. It's something I've done many times over the years. I speak to labor and delivery staff about what it's like to be a patient who isn't taking her baby home.
It's a lot different now than when I first began speaking, back in 2017. It was so easy in those early years to remember the details of my experience. Now, I have to think a bit before each panel, making sure I don't leave out anything important. The whole goal is to help the staff become better caregivers, so everything I share matters.
But I never think too much about what I'm going to say. It's a little different, every time. I'm not reciting from a script: I'm reliving my experience. And the best way to make an impact is for me to be completely raw.
It's better for future patient care if the nurses cry along with me as I tell my story. Because next time they have a patient like me, they'll remember my story. And my daughters.
But it makes for a very long day. I could tell around midday that I was anxious. My shoulders were tense and my body ached. I knew it was anticipatory grief. It's an emotionally demanding experience, every time I speak on a panel.
One nurse asked how loss has changed my relationship with my older children. I told them that I want them to understand that it's ok to grieve someone, forever. We have cakes on Nelle and Iris's birthdays. I have their framed footprints. I have tattoos. They saw on the calendar that I was speaking on the panel that evening, and knew what it meant.
I also want them to know that society is very unforgiving to the grieving, and expects you to be "over it" at a certain point. I do what I can to change that narrative.
And then after the panel, I'm exhausted, yet wired. Drained, yet somehow very alert and aware of my surroundings. I can never go to bed immediately (even though it's late evening by the time I get home). There are too many memories rolling around in my brain.
So instead, I went to dinner with the other loss mom from the panel. She and I were pregnant with our rainbow babies at the same time: they were born 10 days apart. I've known her for seven years now. We're friends because our babies existed: her twin boys, Nelle, and Iris.
This morning I woke with an even heavier feeling. I realized that I'm getting sick. I didn't manage to escape the illnesses that have been circulating our house for weeks.
I tell myself that's ok. I could use another day to recover.