As I drove by those familiar golden arches my heart sank a little. Almost every night for the last twenty-three weeks I had sat in my car in the same parking spot happily eating a $1.29 hot fudge Sundae. Although there was no one in my passenger seat, I was not alone. It was “our thing”; a special moment that I thought would be the first of thousands of special moments we would share together. I would picture sitting in the same spot a few years from now, gazing in awe at her through my rearview mirror, blonde curls falling around her little face, her bright blue eyes looking up at me, and a great big smile smeared with ice cream. Today things are different, well, things are the same, but different. Now I’d never even know if she would get her father’s beautiful blue eyes or if they’d come out a plain brown like mine, what her hair would look like, or who she would become. Feeling the now all too familiar lump in my throat and tears in my eyes I tried to shake my head and think of anything but the thousands of special moments that would never happen.
What is it like to miss someone you never met? It seems impossible, but I will tell you. I never met my daughter, but I have missed her every minute of every day since she left my body. Although my life has seemingly returned to normal, nothing is the same. I go to work, I see my friends, I cook, I clean, I do all the things I’ve always done, just with a heavier heart. Sometimes it feels absolutely impossible to go on. There are moments I feel like I can’t even breathe, to the point where I’d rather fall over and cease to exist than deal with all the unanswered questions I have. The guilt I feel is almost unbearable, and although it isn’t tangible, I carry it around with me everywhere I go. Not a day has gone by that I don’t wonder what I could have done differently to prevent this from happening.
When you reach a certain age as a female and still don’t have any children, even if you aren’t too concerned about it yet, I can assure you, society will be. I am only in my very early thirties and yet I found people asking me almost daily if I have any children and being shocked when my answer was no. One woman even said “oh gosh, I’m sorry” when I told her I was childless as if it were too late and there was no hope for me. Though I’m fairly certain that most women can have children into their forties and now even later with all the advancements in technology, once enough people start to act concerned for you, you begin to be concerned for yourself. It was never really a worry in my head until other people put it there. Finally, at age thirty-two, a little pink plus sign changed everything for me.
Today if someone asks me if I have any children, I would have to say no. However, for twenty-three weeks and five days, I had a daughter. Her name was Cora and because of her I finally felt like one of the lucky ones. After years of my life spent watching everyone around me announce their pregnancies and have baby after baby, it was finally my turn to feel special. To top it off, I was having a girl, which like most women was what I had always wanted. My heart burst with excitement thinking about a tiny little mini-me to dress up in matching outfits, my forever best friend. There were so many things I couldn’t wait to teach her. I would spend hours looking up everything and anything having to do with little girls from nursery décor to dance classes, even though it would have been years before I could enroll her. Now there would be no tiny dancer in my future, and although there was still hope of moving on and getting pregnant a second time, it would never be my Cora again.
For as long as I live I will never forget the feeling of her little bumps inside of me. I miss them so much. The first time it happened I was standing in yoga class resting my hands on my belly when I felt the slightest little nudge against my right hand. Honestly, at the time I wasn’t sure if it was a gas bubble or not but as time went on and the movements became more frequent I began to be able to tell the difference. There is no way to explain the feeling of your baby moving inside of you. To me, it was simultaneously the weirdest and coolest thing I have ever felt. It even got to the point where if I didn’t feel her moving but wanted to, I could push different spots on my belly for a minute and eventually she would push back, the beginning of this amazing bond I thought would last forever. For two days shy of six months, I was never alone. She was with me everywhere I went, in everything I did. And even though she will always be with me in a way, I wish I could have gotten more time with her.
Being pregnant is one of the most beautifully disgusting things that a woman can go through. You are growing this tiny little human being inside of you, which to me is such a wild concept. People call it a miracle, and it really is. With that being said, there are some pretty gross and mildly annoying things that come along with it. I won’t touch on any of the gross stuff, but I will admit to being annoyed and sometimes even downright miserable while I was pregnant. Looking back now, I feel so guilty for feeling that way. Often times toward the last couple of weeks I would lay in bed wishing she would stop moving for a little bit because the flutters were keeping me awake. Oh, what I would give to feel them now. If I had known then that those movements were about to stop so suddenly and forever, I would have stayed awake for days on end to soak up every last one of them. You don’t know what you’ve got until its gone has taken on an entirely new meaning for me now.
From the moment she was conceived, I constantly had to pee, could smell something that made my stomach turn from a mile away, and wasn’t allowed to have some of the foods I loved because they were on the “do not” list given to me by my Doctor. How petty and selfish being annoyed at those things feels now. I remember thinking “this sucks” so often when I would want to eat something or do something that I couldn’t because I was pregnant. Three days after she was gone, I sat in the Wawa parking lot and cried over a honey smoked turkey sub, something I had desperately craved throughout my pregnancy but couldn’t eat because cold cuts are a no-no while pregnant. Nothing was stopping me anymore, but I still couldn’t bring myself to take a bite.
I wasn’t always annoyed at my baby, so please don’t think that. There were times during my pregnancy where I was selfish, but I loved my daughter immensely. I wish I showed it more. Carrying her around with me was an experience I will never forget. Though our time together was short, and we may have never officially met, she gave me the most incredibly beautiful few months I’ve ever had, and I will never forget our time together. The noise the ultrasound machine made when capturing my very first picture of her echoes in my head, along with the sound of her heart beating on the Doppler every month until it stopped, and I still remember being amazed at how fast her heartbeat looked on the screen even when she was just a tiny little blob. There will forever be a part of me that wonders what she would’ve looked like and if she would’ve gotten my sassy attitude or her father’s (not sure who’s is worse).
“Everything happens for a reason” or at least that’s what every single person I have spoken to in the last few weeks has told me. Although it’s a nice sentiment, and I do wish I could find the reason in all of this, it doesn’t make the pain go away. I don’t think anything will. This has been the greatest heartbreak I’ve ever had; making anything else I ever thought was a tragedy pale in comparison. While I know life goes on and I still have a lot of life to live, I would’ve given my life up right then and there to spare my daughter’s. There is hope in my future and maybe one day I will get a second chance at having a child. But even if I never get pregnant again or give birth to a healthy baby, even if I am not a mother to the rest of the world, I will always be Cora’s Mom.
To my beautiful daughter Cora, you may have not been someone to anyone else yet, but you were everything to me.