There’s always lives lost in a war. But I can’t help feeling that the most innocent lives were the ones taken in this war. My babies…some so small they died before they were born, some bigger but taken from me and lost their fight soon after…all of them had their own personalities, apparent right from when I was carrying them. All of them I loved instinctively and deeply. All were taken from me in bitterly cruel circumstances.
Some kicked like mad, others were evidently sleepier. Some liked certain foods, some liked me singing whilst I carried them….others quite understandably appeared to hate this. All of them made me smile. All of them made me proud. All of them made my life seem unbearably frightening and evil, because I knew their fate long before they did – if they ever did. And then I can’t help blame myself…maybe they would have survived if I hadn’t resigned myself to their loss so soon? Maybe there wouldn’t have been the miscarriage…maybe it was my lack of faith…maybe they knew…maybe they misunderstood….
It’s all pointless tearing myself apart, I know. But it won’t ever stop. I survived, and they did not. My job was to protect them. My job was to put them before me. I did my best, but it wasn’t enough. I am here, and they are not.
Whenever I see a woman with a baby I get a sharp, tearing pang of jealousy. And then of guilt. And then of absolute joy that she could have such a precious baby and could have that life.
Every night in my sleep I feel that pain again. The labour pains followed by the sensation of my heart breaking, again…the bewilderment that my heart could still break. The abusers still hadn’t shattered it. I remember wondering if the heart fixed itself, which is how it could keep breaking. I refused to become heartless as they had. So that meant I had to feel the pain, time and time again. How they mocked me whilst I screamed for my baby, just for one moment where I could hold them. I remember their twisted laughter, as I lay there, tied to the bed, in agony physically and emotionally…knowing the baby was too small to live but wanting to hold them anyway…wanting desperately for them to somehow know they were loved, for somehow their tiny soul to have experienced love in their short lives.
I remember how time stood still, on the times I did get the chance to cradle my baby for a few precious seconds. For the smaller ones, already sleeping, I just held them in my hands and whispered my song. For the slightly bigger ones, I remember the absolute moment where we made eye-contact, and suddenly all conscious and rational thought was gone. Suddenly, for half a second, I did not care where I was…and barely registered it. Time stopped, granting us just a moment where we could silently portray that bond of love. Her tiny head and hands resting on my quickly rising chest, as I caught my breath back, her tiny eyes staring directly into mine…the most natural and beautiful moment in the world, and yet for me equally the most bittersweet…because heartbreak would follow immediately.
And then her screams as they took her from me. She wanted me. Barely seconds old and she knew who her mummy was. She knew my voice. I’d sang to her for months, felt her panic when there was a thunderstorm. I’d been able to soothe her by my touch long before I met her. Now when she was most terrified, I couldn’t soothe her. I shared the fear. I shared the grief and the heartache. I knew she wasn’t strong enough. I knew she needed me. I knew her fate.
It destroyed me. I’m using “she” in a generic sense here…there were boys as well. Each time destroyed me. Each time broke my heart. Each time proved too painful, and my entire memory of my life would be wiped so that I could cope. Losing a baby is the only thing that causes such a profound and sudden memory loss. Traumatic events as a general rule cause memory loss, but usually for me of the event itself. Losing a baby…is almost always followed the next day by total memory loss. It’s the only way I knew how to cope. I couldn’t have survived that much heartbreak otherwise.
Even now, to the world I smile. To the world I’m stronger. To the world I have started speaking out. I laugh. I sing. I study. I eat and sleep and function and run a crazy hectic lifestyle and complain about emails. I guess I must look normal. One of my personalities asked me today how I can pretend it’s all okay. I’m not pretending anything. I’m very aware that it’s not all okay at all. But if I sat and cried 24/7 for months and years, as I actually want to, then I won’t have a life…I’ll get lost in the grief which haunts me, which digs it’s poisoned claws into my heart every night and leaves me paralysed with tears and frozen with the pain in my heart. My smiles are true, but they too are bittersweet.
Grief is cruel. I hate grief. Grief was the reason why some of the abusers had turned out how they had; they had not known how to deal with grief and took it out on the vulnerable person near to them. Due to this, I am determiend grief will not destroy me or swallow me. I allow it into my life because I realise it’s healthy. But there’s a definite love/hate relationship, and I have to spend every waking moment keeping an eye on where it is, and if it’s getting too close to finishing me. Time and time again I look at my empty arms and I want to just sob.
Now I’m speaking out a bit, now I’ve offered myself that protection…there is more space to think. I don’t need to run from grief anymore, but I do need to keep an eye on it. But the reality of the losses are hitting me hard. I feel it kick me in my chest and I’m physically winded….today I ended up keeling over the sink unable to breathe; not crying, but just winded by some emotional kick to the gut. How is it the body can even do that? Then I felt my heart stagger from the kick, and felt the pain again…and my legs buckled, and I collapsed, and I howled from the pain and cruelty of it all. I think I kept saying “why my babies why my babies WHY?!” to an empty room, and I know there’ll never be an answer. I know I’ll always be here and they won’t. I know I need to keep living for them, in memory of them, and because part of them still lives in me. If I don’t live, then the part of them dies too. I have to keep going.
Sometimes, I’ll get a ghostly scent of newborn baby….that soft, milky smell. Sometimes I’ll hear a faint cry, but when I blink it vanishes. Often I wake up and feel a warm, nuzzled pressure resting on my chest. I count to ten, allowing myself just ten seconds of living with an hallucination, and then I take a deep breath and sit up. Ten seconds a day of holding them…that’s what I allow myself. Strictly. Anything more and I will be lost, and unable to move for the rest of the day or week.
But how I wish they could be here with me, and I could kiss them gently and lull them to sleep. How I wish I’d been taken, instead of them. I would have given anything…but of course this was known, and half of the cruelty of it was forcing me to live whilst my precious ones fell to sleep.
They live within me, and that’s the only comfort I can gain. My heart feels constantly heavy, and that’s the price I have to pay…but it’s a small price. I’ll keep them with me, and take them on this journey too…and I’ll make sure they’re never forgotten. J