When I first installed a stat counter, I used to check it obsessively. This is how I knew, one day last year, that someone made their way here by looking for how to stop lactation after stillbirth.
I don't check all the time anymore. I don't even check every day. But every time that I do check, I see that several people end up here, on the post I wrote in response to that first search last year, by searching for various versions of lactation, stopping lactation, milk, stopping milk production, or any of the above with the addition of after miscarriage, or after stillbirth. A barrel of laughs, I tell you.
It's not that I don't know that babies die every day. I even know that in this country alone on an average day, more than one baby will die. But it's one thing to know that, abstractly. It is a whole other thing to have proof, even if only via the internet searches, that somewhere, for someone, it happened again. On a sunny day, or a cloudy one. During rush hour, or in the dead of night. Someone's world stopped. And they are one of us now.
That was one of the things I was thinking about Friday night, after I made the phone calls, but before either JD or my sister made it to the hospital. I thought I might end up having the baby that day or the next. I was hoping I could hold out for 48 hours, but not much beyond that. And what I was thinking about was the encouraging stuff the neonatalogist was saying, the encouraging statistics I knew for myself. I was thinking that this isn't likely to be a bad day for me, not likely to become a mine on my calendar. Not on mine. But on someone's, somewhere.
Earlier that very day there was a comment on the lactation post from a newly bereaved mom who had lost her baby just three days before. It was almost a compunction, when I first read the comment, to think back on what I was doing three days prior, to see it anew as the day someone else's life broke into the before and after.
Even more jarringly, as I walked from the garage to the hospital that day, enveloped in my own worry, something caught my eye. It took me a moment to process it, and by the time I did, the woman holding it was already past me. A memory box. She was holding a memory box. The same exact color they gave me for A.
I stopped. I was both glued in place and wanting to run to her. Only I wasn't sure which one she was-- there were four women walking together, friends or family I couldn't really tell. One held the memory box, another-- one of those plastic hospital bags they give you to move your possessions. Before they passed me I wasn't paying enough attention to know which one was still wearing maternity.
I stood there for a while trying to decide what to do. I wanted to go to her, to say what, I do not know. Certainly not that it would all be ok. Maybe just that I know, and I am sorry.
It honestly took a good bit of time for me to remember that I am pregnant, that I am visibly pregnant (or that I am at the hospital because of that very fact), and that, therefore, I might just be the very last person this mother would want to see right then.
It was somebody else's terrible day. Each day is somebody else's terrible day.
Today is the day, gestational age at which A died. Today is also eighteen months since he was born. I was thinking about both of those things all day. But I also knew, kept repeating to myself, that it was a day like any other, that my body and cord accidents do not know about calendars. It doesn't have to become my terrible day, anew. It didn't.
Except I am sure that it did. For someone else, somewhere.
PS. A few days ago, Tash wrote about this very topic-- the intersection of someone's happy and someone else's devastated. It's a beautiful post. Go read it.
On a somewhat related topic, I have a new post up at Glow in the Woods. It is also a bit about the time and space of grief.