Sitting here, on May 16th, as I’ve done for the past 6 years. Aching. Yearning. Lost. Weeping. Heavy arms, broken heart. I sit here and I feel all of the memories flood back. So vividly as if it were still happening. The week in May between Mother’s Day and Delaneys birthday is an emotional mash up of what was, what is and what can never be. The physical and mental angst of grief.... sitting here thinking of how six years ago I held my wife hand with our family surrounding us. We were numb. We were in shock. We were waiting for my labor to kick in.
I replay the day as if I’m stuck in it. These memories that are so real. I find myself trying to remember everything else from the 38 weeks that I carried her in my body. I think of the process of getting pregnant with her. The excitement and fear of becoming a mama. Planning out all the fun baby planning milestones. Pick a name, the first most important decision you make for your child after you decide to have one. I remember being afraid to eat anything that could harm her. I wouldn’t even touch coffee. I mean, I was extremely ill with hyperemisis so my diet consisted of potato perogis, crackers, ginger ale, sour popsicles, bananas and water for months and months. I remember the flutters that started. I cling to her movements and wish I could remember them as vivid as do remembering what the feeling of her lifeless body felt like in my womb. These memories that are thought to be cellular.
“Cellular memory can refer to: A variation of body memory, the yet to be proven scientifically hypothesis that memories can be stored in individual cells. A recognition of a memory of an incident, event, or experience which is at once felt throughout the body ie the memory at the cellular level”
It’s interesting what our bodies can do with cell memory. How trauma can be stored and rear it’s ugly head. I think back on these 27 hours of laboring her. What would it be like to meet my daughter? I didn’t think of how not hearing her cry would destroy my world. I didn’t think of the face my wife would make meeting our child for the first time. The faces that she made when she would read books to our daughter. Both of us sharing the fears of being good parents for her. Each sharing promises of the things we would never let our children go through. Thinking of how she would look, how she would feel. Spending 27 hours surrounded by our loved ones trying to hold us up while we were falling apart at the seams.
I think back to her delivery and how scared I was. I was afraid to push to hard, I was afraid to hurt her. I was still trying to fathom what would happen when she came out. Would they be able to do anything to save her?
I count down the hours to the deep breath and calming peace I receive on her birthday. When I play two songs for her and blow out a birthday candle. It’s the release of exhaustion and tears, followed by a smile and a wish for her.
It’s my Delaney strength. The reason for my being now. She is the reason I exist. Being her Mama is what I was meant to do. I don’t get to mother her physical being. But I do mother her soul.
This year would’ve been an adventurous one. A year where our plates and scheduled would’ve been even more full than they are. We would’ve either had a little girl in dance, karate, softball, soccer, or whatever else made her happy. I would hopefully gotten Racheal used to doing a curly hair girls hair. I imagine all the things she would do and all the things she would love. I imagine the messes she would make. I imagine her being the best big sister and a mini mother hen. I imagine her to like singing and dancing like her mama, and love being outside doing projects with mommy. I have these amazing dreams and in them I get a glimpse into our life of how it could have turned out.
People look at me with sadness when I say her name. I don’t think that people will ever understand the depth of peace it brings to say her name, see her name and hear her name. It shows that her life does matter. It proves that just because her physical body isn’t here with us, she will always be a part of us. She’s 1/3 of my heart. I will love and miss her until my last breath.
I may have my bad days. My sad days. However, I’m no longer a grieving mother much as I am a bereaved mother. There is a big misconception between the two. Learning to parent a child whom isn’t here on earth has been an interesting task. Floating between caring what others think and not giving a shit what others think. I find joy in the time I had with her growing in my womb. I have those memories to always reach back for. I have those memories to cling to on the days where I’m stuck in a bit of self doubt. When I go to the ugly part of guilt. I am her Mama. Delaney is my daughter. My beautiful first born. My little girl that died before she was born. My little girl who is the most beautiful little girl I’ve ever seen.
Don’t be sad for me. Say her name for me. Remember her with me. If you knew me when I was pregnant, remember the joy she brought us. Don’t cry for me. Write her name. Smile when you do it. Remember a little girl that has brought so much power in her name. Don’t forget her for me. Hear her name, don’t stop listening when we talk about her. She is always going to be a part of us.
Happy birthday, Delaney Ann. My wish for you is..... (close eyes and blow)