A Rory Meltdown

A picture showed up in my Facebook memories today. A beautiful picture. This is my little baby belly when Rory was percolating inside. Not very far along, my belly was swelling with the sign of new life for the very first time. After 2.5 years of struggling with infertility and countless trips to the city to see specialists, we found something that worked. I injected myself in the stomach to force ovulation. We did two rounds of this. Usually you do up to 4 rounds and if that doesn’t work, it’s the end of the road before IVF.

I didn’t do the usual “pee on a stick” test. I could have, but I waited for the official phone call after doing bloodwork on the allotted day. I didn’t think I could handle looking at another one of those blasted things and see the one lonely line one more time. (In hindsight, I really should have bought those things in bulk.)

I remember where I was when the phone call came. I was curled up in the basement in our oversized, black, leather chair. I knew the call could come that day, so the phone was beside me. When it rang, and I saw the clinics number, I thought I was going to throw up. I answered, and heard the words that made me burst into tears. “Congratulations! You’re pregnant!”

And thus began a rocky pregnancy, full of complications, unexplained bleeding, unexplained pain… and unspeakable joy.

My little Rory was born at 30 weeks, 5 days, in an ambulance on the way to the city. She was healthy, and so strong; her premature lungs were even able to let out little wails of discontent.

For six wonderful days I held her, bathed her, pumped milk for her, brushed her hair, cleaned out her little mouth with a tiny sponge, changed her diaper, read her stories, sang her songs, and kept watch over her while she rested in her isolette.

Then she got sick, and twelve days later, the unimaginable happened, and I left that hospital without a baby in my arms.

There are certain days of the year that are the hardest. Strangely enough, the anniversary of her death is not as hard as her birthday. Also… Mother’s Day.

She was my first. She was the one who made me a mother. I never got to celebrate a Mother’s Day with her in my arms.

After the births of Kadon and Eli, I always had myself what I call a “Rory meltdown”. There’s something so poignant about holding a new baby, one that resembles Rory, and holding them on my chest and rubbing my chin on their soft, downy little head just like how I used to with Rory in the NICU. As the happiness of having a baby to love envelops me, so also does the sadness of what never was, of what never will be. There’s nothing quite like holding your own baby often the loss of a child that makes you wonder, makes you yearn to know who that other little one would be, who they would look like, what their personalities would be.

I hadn’t had my “Rory meltdown” after Silas. I felt it coming many times, and pushed it back. It was too much. The storm rolling in didn’t look like one I could weather. Her loss is still so great, so painful… yes, even after six years, after having three healthy boys after her… in many ways, nothing has changed other then time has moved on and new joy has been found.

But time does not heal wounds like this. Time removes us, time dulls, time introduces new… but anytime I allow myself to immerse myself in the memories, to truly remember what happened, the pain is there, just as fresh, just as tragic, just as unhealable as it always was, and always will be this side of Heaven.

Maybe it seems crazy to still struggle with Mother’s Day when I have three little boys to love. But as gracious as God has been to me, to give me these amazing sons, and as much as my heart holds so much love, joy, and yes, peace; there is a part of me that will forever be grieving. Losing Rory isn’t something I can move on from, it’s not something I can get over. I can’t put what happened in a neat little box with a tidy little bow. Losing her almost made me lose everything; my hope, my marriage, my very life. My relationship with God is now a messy, imperfect thing that rides mostly on mercy, grace, and compartmentalizing.

So, there it is. My Rory meltdown. This weekend when people will maybe be bringing flowers to their mother’s graves who have passed away, I will be bringing my daughter flowers to her grave. I will also be celebrating with my precious, wonderful, beloved little boys. And thus, the conundrum of my life, one of incredible joy and inescapable loss, continues. 


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