I stood in my kitchen today, coffee in hand and stared blankly at the calendar on the fridge. January 11, 2017. Six months. It's been six months since I've heard the words or rather saw the head nod between the midwife and the nurse confirming there was no heartbeat. I'm so sorry hun, is what I think she said as I began screaming, alone in a hospital bed with my 36 week belly. Six months since my daughter died. I wanted to cry, yell, scream and break things but I didn't. I stood there dressed for work in total shock.
I texted Beau, It's been six months...
Yes, it has.
How am I here? I used to keep a diligent mental tally. It's been a week, a month, ok now two months. Breathe. Now back to work. One week, two weeks. Brace yourself, here comes Christmas. It was a survival technique. Along the way I must have stopped but there it was today. Six. Months. That's half a year.
So when you reach the age of 30 (gulp nearly 31), you've mostly used up all of your firsts. Your first step, your first day of school, first love, first car, first job. Children grace us with a whole new privilege of experiencing firsts. But when your child dies, your entire life because a different brand of firsts.
This coffee is stale. Is the first average thought I had after Piper died. When the grips of grief let up only for a second, I thought of my expensive drive thru coffee. I had used it to bribe myself out of the house. I remember the first time I thought something was funny and wanted to tell someone. But was so distracted by the normalcy that accompanied the thought I've forgotten what is was. The first time I used an emoji. It was the red heart, sent to Jay.
The first time I went to the grocery store I required an escort to complete the task. I stumbled around the aisles of an unfamiliar grocery store because I was actively avoiding mine as to lessen the chances of human interaction. The first time I saw someone, called a friend, went to the gym. The first time I drove, was to therapy and I cried the whole way. I remember the first time my husband flirted with me and I looked at him like he'd lost his mind. Flirt? With me? After my kid died, get out of here. The first beer, the first dance, the first good belly laugh. The first day I didn't cry.
These firsts are my new path. Every time I do something for the first time, the next time is a little easier. Like the whole walking bit. A friend of mine told me over lunch, action precedes motivation. By going through the motions, you can gain strength and eventually joy. When you are in a sad fog, nothing and I mean nothing, beats your PJs and your couch. So getting out of your bed daily is an amazing feat. I congratulate myself if I've gotten up, showered and fed myself that day. Because winning. Anything else is a bonus.
Despite affirmations of strength and bravery, I am often on the edge of an emotional breakdown. Though warranted is not conducive to life.
We have survived six months of different kinds of firsts. I'm fast approaching my birthday and you know I thought I'd be a momma to a little blonde. 31, looks different. It's unfair and tragic. After I finish this tantrum and perhaps stomp my foot a bit, I'll go complete another first because my child died but I'm alive. Living is the choice so firsts are the answer.
Rest easy, Piper, my first born.
Piper Kai Bennett
I will scream, sing and share her story may it be short. Our only child was born still at 36 weeks secondary to an umbilical cord accident. This is our journey about choosing life rather than existence.