The last time I was at this Starbucks, my husband and I were shopping for a crib, researching the necessities to add to our list of things to get for our baby. I was 19 weeks pregnant at the time.
I don’t think I have intentionally avoided this Starbucks. I don’t know how I haven’t been here since; my husband works one of his part-time jobs right next to it. I guess he just doesn’t normally work weekends, so I don’t normally have to hang out nearby while he is working.
I remember last time I was here, he had met me right after he got off work so we could dream of baby things. I had just recently let myself even hope this baby would actually survive, since it’d been a few weeks since the bleeding had finally ended. My husband was more than excited for both of us, though, so I think that helped.
It was the last time we dreamed of things our baby would need at home. After that, the only things he needed were a coffin, a gown, a burial plot, a blanket, a patron saint’s name. People who are expecting a baby don’t typically do these things–not buy car seats or cribs or diapers. At the end, when I again let myself just one short glimmer of hope that Seraphim might make it out alive–when my doctor, who was so unemotional, expressed excitement that he had continued to grow in the womb long after she thought he would’ve stopped–I worried that he wouldn’t have the things he needed. My husband assured me we would get those things if we needed them, and we could borrow things in the meantime.
Of course, we had everything we needed in the end and that was that.
So I’m sitting here, realising this is yet another “first.” The first time I’ve been here since Seraphim was alive, and the first time I’ve been here since we even knew he had a terrible problem.
The firsts are the hardest, and there seems to be an endless line of them.
A lady at my church had a stillborn son–her first–nearly 30 years ago. She warned me that the firsts would be so hard they would sometimes feel unbearable and insurmountable. But they are, somehow. I realise from talking to her that the pain will never “go away.” She still cries about him, and she admits that there are certain things that trigger her emotions over him even now. She warned me every pregnancy from here on out will be a terror–something I already assumed. Another woman at church who also lost her first-born to premature birth about 30 years ago has said the same. Both of these women survived their losses and are stronger for them, and both went on to have other children despite the recognition that horrible things are actually possible. They never forgot the loss of that child, though.
I realise how fortunate I am to have lost a baby now, and not in a circumstance during the time period these women lost theirs, though. We could hold Seraphim as long as we wanted, we could keep him in our room with us until we left the hospital. These women’s babies were rushed away immediately. They never got to see their babies, let alone hold them. During that time, it was believed that women would suffer the loss too greatly if they had the opportunity to see or hold a baby that had died or would soon die. Instead, they’ve suffered it worse because they couldn’t.
I have pictures of Seraphim and memories of him–though few–outside of my womb. I am glad I met him, and glad I was permitted to be as close to him for as long as I needed. I will always mourn for him, and I will always love him. He left a big, gaping hole in my heart, but I am happier to have it as a reminder that I had him than to not have it at all because he never was.
And I’m sure life will continue to be full of these “firsts” for a long, long time. Mundane, almost meaningless memories until now.