Tuesday, 8 September 2015
The Best of times, the Worst of times
Three months ago the new normal switched again
I've talked about the new normal on this blog before. I've talked about how everything is different now that Grace has died. How fear and sadness is part of our every day reality.
Well three months ago Kira, our Rainbow Baby was born. The definition of a rainbow baby is this -
A Rainbow Baby is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.
I haven't written much because the new normal has been rewriting itself and the resulting internal confusion stumped my ability to find words.
For Siobhan there is a complex of things happening; joy, healing, fear and a new take on grief. This baby is a healing presence, a salve for the never ending emotional rawness that has become part of who we are. There is a new smile on her face that I haven't seen before and the reasons are many.
Imagine, if you will, a child dying inside your body and despite reassurances to the contrary, there is an unavoidable distrust of your most basic physicality. The result is that you become out of step with yourself in every way you can imagine, like constantly grinding gears in a car that should have been serviced several decades ago. To find a smile, to exist as normal is a monumental effort.
A new baby then becomes a healing ointment, something that dulls the raw edges and says 'now you can start to learn who you are again.'
There is a downside.
For the first time since this terrible journey began my wife and I are on different roads. While there have been slight differences in the way we process our grief, this is the first time that we are looking at each other from different perspectives. While there is a complex of healing, joy, enhanced fear and grief going on for my wife, I have none of the healing and for a while Kira's presence, as delightful as it is, compounded everything that happened and made it worse.
Without this healing I am left with three things.
Joy - Kira is a beautiful, chilled out baby, with a regular smile and an engaging nature. It is impossible not to feel joy when interacting with her.
Fear - part of the new normal comes from living with the knowledge that our baby died in the truly randomest of accidents. One that surprised and shocked experienced birth professionals. We know that anything can happen to anyone at anytime...and that changes everything. The other night I walked in on Kira sleeping peacefully with her mouth open.
"Please don't be dead" I said out loud as I walked over to her and poked her.
When she stirred, something inside relaxed and I carried on with my evening.
It was the casualness of the whole thing that brought home to me how much our lives had changed. This is normal to me now. Similarly, no one will know the monumental effort it takes not to smother our 4 year old, our Alannah. To hold her and never let go. To coddle her and protect her from the world beyond all reason.
A new grief - Every moment of joy is tinged with sadness. Unfortunately for Kira we can't look at any of her milestones without wondering how Grace would have been at this age. Would she have smiled already? Would she have started teething by now? Would she have had her first belly laugh at the same age?
We shall never know and it means that even our best days have a touch of our worst days about them.