Having a baby is all about the future. From the moment you get that "could I be pregnant" inkling, thoughts about how your life will change bombard you. Regardless of how you feel about impending motherhood, you know everything will be different. If you are happy about becoming pregnant, you begin to dream about a little boy or a little girl who looks like you or your loved one. Your dreams weave that image into every aspect of your life until the day that baby is born and actually becomes a part of every aspect your life. You imagine and plan for every possibility...except that your baby might die and you might not get to take him/her home with you.
If the unimaginable happens to you, your course suddenly changes. You are no longer looking and moving forward, but you are frozen in your tracks, looking backward. Facing the future becomes too painful with all those unrealized dreams littering the path before you. You no longer dream of what is to come, but have nightmares about what came before. You spend an incredible amount of time picking apart every aspect of your life so that you can un-weave that dream image you had so carefully crafted. It seems easier to go backward and take it apart so you pretend you never had those dreams.
But everyone tells you you must move forward. Moving forward means picking up the pieces of what's left of your dreams and putting them together into something that you never wanted. This wasn't your dream. This is just what's left when a dream dies. It's the scraps...the leftovers...the stuff that never seems as good when you re-heat it. And you can never imagine yourself having another dream as grand and wonderful as the one you are leaving behind. This is the hardest journey you'll ever make, the experts say. And you're scared that you won't be able to do it. You're not sure if you can put one foot in front of the other and take even one step.
But one of the more enlightening moments I've had through this whole process of grieving has been when I realized that I didn't have to un-dream my dream of Alex. I don't have to pick it apart and remove the dreams I so carefully wove for myself. Instead, I have to accept it for what it was, an incomplete story that never got to happily ever after. Rather than worrying about the scraps of dreams that lay before me, I want to wrap myself in the dream that was, and take those first steps forward. It doesn't mean I don't have wishes about that dream and how I would have made it larger and more luxurious. I have a bucketload of wishes about Alex. But no amount of wishing is going to change the reality. So I will take what is behind me and use it to help protect me from the sadness that lays before me. It will be like a shield to help me face those moments where there is an empty space left by an unrealized dream.
Alex is my baby. He blessed my life for eight short months. I will carry him in my heart forever. And when I agonize about how he should be here to play on the swingset with his brother, or how he should be here to wish his Daddy a Happy Father's Day, or how he should be snuggled with us in the bed watching cartoons in the early morning, I will feel the sadness but remember the joy that was the time we shared. In that remembering I will try to feel the happiness of his simple existence and try my very best to put one foot in front of the other.