September eighth. Those two words sting. They reach deep into my chest wall, rattle my heart and squeeze it tight. So tight that I become breathless.
Breathe girl, breathe.
Then my limbs go numb. Especially my arms.
The same arms that are skilled at holding pain for others and carrying it far away from them become anchors.
Heaviness down my shoulders towards my elbows and no feeling below that.
All the feelings in my heart. All of them but especially nothingness.
September eighth. Nineteen years later you aren’t any easier.
Today, as I write this I am twice the age I was on that day.
Nineteen years ago, I was nineteen facing the darkest moment I have yet to live. I was giving birth to the only daughter I’d ever have. Two days earlier, at a prenatal checkup it had been discovered that she had died in utero.
This wasn’t what I had planned for her. To this day I would do anything to bring her back. To have a mother-daughter relationship with her. To see if maybe being on the mother side of that relationship would heal very deep wounds I carry. But no I find myself choking on these tears trying my best to type away with these hands I can’t feel.
There are so many ifs. So many memories that have never ever occurred that clearly play in my mind’s eye. They were only wishes in my heart. Shattered by that one moment in which the doctor couldn’t find her heartbeat.
Followed by Air Force doctors showcasing her textbook Turner’s Syndrome to one another before telling me that she was dead. Inside. Of. Me. In those moments all I wanted to do was run the hell away from everyone and everything. Especially my body.
September eighth, I have come to the realization that you might never be easy on me. So, here it goes all the things that I’ve held inside for so long…
They can eat shit…
The stupid doctors that treated me like I was absolutely invisible, ignorant and without emotions. They stood there talking about my daughter’s genetic anomaly like it was an academic win to see such a specimen. They could have talked to me like a human being and asked my permission before inviting four extra residents into the ultrasound room.
The Air Force for forcing all the young unmarried Airmen moms to attend parenting classes and have our appointments on those Fridays. It made us feel less than, it isolated us and shamed us.
All the people, including my mother, that told me that losing my daughter was a blessing. Their opinion was that I had been given my entire future back without the burden or baggage of raising a child.
I forgive myself…
For all the moments in which I let shame overpower this grief because I am also a woman that has had an abortion. This pain doesn’t hurt any less because of my other choices. This pain in fact has taught me the importance of women being able to have a choice in when and how they bring children into this world. And because my daughter was so very much wanted is why this still hurts nineteen years later. Because my daughter’s life mattered to me is why I will always stand up for the reproductive rights of other women. I am not sorry for any of my reproductive choices. I own them. They were mine to make.
For breaking my promise to my daughter. In the hospital while I held her I told her that I would take up running seriously. I hated running so much and it hurt that she would never ever get to even do the things I hated. It turns out I am not wired that way. It isn’t just the running, I am referring to but all things that don’t feel good. In the last nineteen years, I’ve learned that the best way to celebrate being a woman is by following what feels right in my bones. It feels right to me to honor her by being true to my inner knowing…I am not a runner.
For putting down my own mother’s pain. September 8, 1996 is when I realized that our relationship was no good for me. In the days that followed she said some very hurtful things to me that revealed to me how she felt about being a mom. And I so agree. It is incredibly hard to be a mom and it can sometimes seem soul-shattering to always be a good, loving mom. Everything and everyone tells mothers that our children should come first and they mostly do. But self-love, oh that thing that mother never learned. I am finally practicing it so well that she had to be shut out of my life. At least, until I can manage both my growth and teaching her how to do the same. Maybe in my absence she is learning how to value her dreams and see beauty in her flaws.
And I am so grateful…
That your life, Isabel Grace, changed mine forever. September 8, 1996 everything changed. Each year on this day I mourn your loss greatly because we didn’t get to grow fierce together. I was reborn the day I had to let you go. Every choice that I’ve made from there to here has led me to become a woman that I am proud of. Even on this day, that stings and cuts deep, I would not trade places with anyone. The pain, as much as the joy, has made your mother a woman that…listens more than she speaks, backs her bark with a lot of bite and loves deeply, gently and without fear. I’ve tried my best to become the woman I would have wanted you to be.
And I hope you can feel the love I send you as I can feel the strength you send me. I love you forever. My only daughter. My angel.
© Anaín Bjorkquist September 8, 2015 ~ All Rights Reserved.