I typically don’t waste a lot of time thinking about what might have been. The past is in the past and I tend to believe that the things that have happened, both good and bad, have taught me a lot about myself, about life, and about how things should be. I take what I need from those lessons and I don’t dwell a lot on the coulda, shoulda, woulda.
But, when you lose a pregnancy, you can’t help but think about the should-have-beens.
I should be feeling my baby move all over the place.
I should have been preparing the nursery by now.
My belly should be watermelon-sized and I should have a hospital bag packed.
I should have planted more in our garden this year, but since I was anticipating being pregnant this summer, I didn’t.
I shouldn’t be dreading August 20…but I am.
That’s the day (give or take a few) that we would have welcomed our little boy into the world. Evelyn would have become a big sister. Instead, he was born 24 weeks early. The baby things have been sold, the nursery is a storage room for the time being, and I’m still hanging on to the weight that I gained in the first trimester….a constant reminder, like my body won’t let go of what it already lost.
How does anybody cope with a due date after a pregnancy loss? I don’t know. I’m not even sure how to write this. I am still getting through it. In a way, I will be glad when it passes. It feels a bit like the last mountain to climb before I can work my way back to normalcy. It also feels like losing him all over again. So far, it’s just been best for me to let the feelings come, experience them, acknowledge them, honor them. They are what I have of my son….the should-have-beens.
I am grateful that Michael’s vacation time will coincide with the date and several weeks ago, I suggested we take a long trip. Yep, I’m running away from it….away from all the things that remind me of what should have been. I guess I didn’t have my head on straight when we planned the return trip because on August 20, the day I should have been holding my son, I will be sitting in a car for 12 hours, with nothing but time to think about it. Maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t know. I guess we all just muddle through this life and try to figure it out as we go. At least that’s the way I do it.
I’m hoping not to live in the should-have-been for too much longer. “Should have been” suggests that the world owes us something. It does not. We are not owed or guaranteed a single thing. I think about this when I try to figure out how we might honor our son each year. I don’t know how we will do it, but I do know when I’d like to do it and it won’t be on August 20. In the time that it’s taken me to write this, I have realized that I do have more of my son than the should-have-beens. I have what actually was. I still gave birth to him. I still got to hold him. Not many women who have miscarried get to say that. Sure, there have been times when the memory of those moments with him made this loss much more painful than my previous miscarriages. But, I’d much rather honor him on the day he was born rather than the day he should have been.
That seems like a huge step, right? Accepting what was instead of wishing for what should have been? I’ll keep working on it. One day at a time.