(After losing Iris, I joined an online grief writing course in March of 2016. For 30 days, I received an emailed prompt and could write and share it with other people enrolled in the course. As the 30 days ended, I realized how much I needed the prompts to give me some inspiration and direction, so I set about to create my own from quotes and other sources. I ended up with more than 200 prompts. I wrote here, and privately.
In November 2016, I joined a second round of the grief writing course and the prompts took me all the way to finding out that I was pregnant again. Writing kept me going through the emotionally tumultuous pregnancy. As I reached the final months, I realized that I was also reaching the end of my prompts. I planned and spaced them accordingly, right up until my c-section date.
And so begins a new chapter of writing. The original prompts have been completed. Last fall, I attended a workshop for bereaved parents, and we were given a journal of prompts to "guide from darkness to light." At the time, I wanted nothing to do with that sentiment. When I started to reach the end of my own prompts, I began to reconsider. It seemed like a good "fresh start" to work through the ongoing sadness intermingled with joy that I know I will experience, and already have experienced, in my newborn daughter's life.
I do not know how long it will take me to work through the 100 prompts. Maybe years. Much like I don't know the path that grief will take. So here we go...)
Where am I at this starting ground?
There are moments that are so familiar, in having a newborn. The little grunts they make. The rooting, and the "I'm hungry!" cry, and the satisfied milk face after feeding. The tiny, flailing arms and legs, and the wrapped, snug, swaddled tiny human. Ger is goofy around babies and I am a cloud of hormonal bliss and a bundle of nerves.
Then there are moments that are so surreal and unfamiliar. Fearing every little thing, like whether or not she is breathing, or worried that I will trip and drop that fragile little body. I look at her tiny head with its thin layer of black hair, and when I kiss her cheeks I still cannot believe that she is here.
There is joy and sadness in the photos that I take. So many pictures already in the ten days since she was born. Compensating for the fact that I have no photos of Nelle and Iris? Trying to grab every single moment, from fear that something will happen? But the photos are also joy: they are baby fingers and toes and all of those single moments. I have already printed out several photos and filled frames in our house with our new baby. Nelle and Iris only have framed footprints. The hospital sent home footprints of Autumn also, exponentially larger than her sisters'.
Baby clothes, baby blankets, baby gear. A reminder of what I have and what I lost. Of needing to move forward with my newborn baby while still honoring the space of my other two daughters.
I am in a place of in-between joy and sadness. I'll probably stay here awhile.