I thought this October might feel different. That I’d be able to more smoothly ride the waves.

October is a beautiful month. Fall gets going, pumpkin patches, spooky events, pretend play, costumes, I love it. October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It also leads into all my son’s milestones. Born in November, discharged to hospice care in December, and died in December.

baby holding parent's hand - When You Think You're Doing OK and the Waves of Grief Hit Unexpectedly

Author’s Personal Collection/Elizabeth Thoma – Photo Credit: Abby Alger Photography

I thought I was doing ok.

I’m short-tempered, frustrated, tears stinging in my eyes. Is it just life catching up to me? Normal little kid parent stuff like playground bullies, temper tantrums, and going back to work? It feels like more than that.

It feels like guilt that I’m not doing enough to honor and express my love for Obie. That even now – typing up my emotions and grief – I am doing it one-handed while I nurse his baby sister. It feels like wanting an outlet for this intense pain while also knowing I’d have to give up doing something else important – to me or my family.

What to do?

Try to find the time and space to grieve proactively? Wait for the dam to burst and deal with it then? Keep snapping at my spouse in the meantime?

On Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, 7:00 pm local time came… and I was at a Halloween event with some friends, watching our children run, play, and squeal. When I planned the outing, I thought we’d be back by 7. Instead, we were there until after 8 (and way past bedtime). As it approached 7, my husband looked at me and made sure I knew what was happening – that we wouldn’t be home to light a candle for the wave of light. I took a deep breath, and I chose to let my living children keep enjoying their night. We lit candles closer to 9:00 pm. Late felt better than never, but it still felt like I was falling short.

Sometimes I wish there was a handbook for how to do this – this life after my baby died. Yet, I know if there was I would just throw it across the room and curse it.

One day at a time. One mistake at a time. One breakdown at a time.

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