Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In the Present

By Cynthia Prest
I should be preparing for the birth of my baby, who would have been due right about now. I should be helping my son get ready for his duties as a big brother. I should be planning my maternity leave from work. I should be agonizing over names. I should be picking out an outfit to dress the baby in when it’s time to leave the hospital.

I can’t do any of these things, because my baby died seven months ago.

Having six miscarriages has changed me, in so many ways. Since experiencing my first loss in 2003, I no longer live in the future or in the past. I used to be an expert at living three months into the future. I planned for EVERYTHING. I cringe to think of what I missed in the present because I was either looking forward or backwards. Something in me shifted after my first baby died, and that shift has gotten stronger over the years. I went from believing that whatever I planned would become reality to realizing that I have no control over what happens. Losing that baby, after all the planning I had done, shook me to the core. Nothing felt right to me anymore. The way I had experienced the world for three decades was no longer accurate. I had always believed that if I planned well enough and tried hard enough, gave it my best, that things would work out the way I wanted. What do you mean my baby died? I didn’t plan for that. I don’t know how to handle that. Where’s the manual for this experience?

I don’t like to live with “should.” Lots of things should of happened, but didn’t. Living with “should” keeps me stuck. I don’t want to be stuck. I want to be present. I no longer want to live in the future or the past. I want to be present as my son learns how to write his name and experiences joy in the simple things, like his new winter boots that he refuses to take off, even in the house. I want to be present for my husband as he explores his newfound love of triathlons. I want to be present for my friendships, both old and new, as these people I care about tremendously navigate their new paths.

I’m supposed to get on a plane in less than 24 hours, and I’m not packed. My former self doesn’t recognize this new woman. This woman who used to be prepared for trips two weeks in advance. This woman knows that I will get packed, and I will get on the plane, and I will have everything I need. Whatever happens, no matter what I have planned or not, will be fine. I will embrace whatever comes my way, and I will be stronger for it.