Many of my triggers have shifted; many are the same.
For example, pregnancy announcements? Still a trigger. Especially when they are made after the first trimester and allude to a"safe" time in pregnancy. You might think that Bowie's safe arrival may have changed that for me, but nope, not at all. And similarly, pregnant women are still just as difficult. Much of it is their naivety. Many of them know all about what happened to Lydie, how we had no warning signs and she was perfectly healthy, and they still seem to believe it would never happen to them (and they are probably right, which is a whole separate issue). In general, pregnancy announcements and pregnant women make me cringe and make me really, really uncomfortable. Women who are pregnant after loss hoping their rainbow babies arrive safely excluded, obviously.
I polled a group of baby loss friends this morning; most of them are about five years out from their loss and all have rainbow babies. I asked them if pregnancy announcements get easier, ever. The resounding answer was no.
And for the record, a year later, I recognize that people cannot plan their families around my family's tragedy, but a little bit of compassion when making a pregnancy announcement goes a long, long way.
Talks of family planning or "completing the family" can send me into a spiral. How nice for them. Our family will never be complete. Never, ever, ever. It's an emptiness and a longing that is impossible to describe.
Another big trigger has always been families with their children close together, specifically of the older brother, younger sister variety. That trigger remains.
I can, however, handle babies better these days. The first baby I held after Lydie was Josephine, and I haven't held another. But I can look at them again. I can walk by the baby aisle in the store. In fact, I can pick up diapers for my daughter without wanting to cry. I even enjoy shopping for baby girl's clothes. I am sure it is helped that my rainbow baby was a girl. If Bowie was a boy, I think the baby girl's section would still make me cry.
But one-year-olds? One-year-olds are so difficult to be around.
There's also some new triggers now that Bowie is here safely.
The pregnant woman is even more difficult when she's expecting her third child. Why? Because families with three children are a huge trigger for me. I have three kids, but my three kids will never look like their three kids. The unfairness of it all slaps me in the face.
My children will never meet each other. Not in this lifetime. My son will never know his sister except for all the kisses and raspberries he gave her in my belly. My daughter will never know her sister, except for the brand new hand-me-downs.
And while "complete families" has always been a trigger, a new addition is sisters. Sisters are tough. Josephine has a sister, an Irish twin sister. She'll never have the kind of sister relationship she should have. She just won't. Some days I start to feel accepting of that, and then I see sisters out and about, and I hurt for both Lydie and Josie.
Yesterday, I told Justin that I felt I was handling my grief well. That we're in the days between Lydie's "should be birthday" and her due date and we're approaching our third Christmas with Ben, our second without Lydie, and our first Christmas with Josie, and I still felt like I was generally handling my emotions well. Which any BLM will tell you brings on a new layer of guilt. When you don't cry as often anymore? Guilt. I must not miss or love my daughter enough; I haven't cried in a week. Some times I miss the tears.
I feel differently today. I feel like shit today. The secondary losses feel huge today. The worst loss is the loss of Lydie. But I also miss my old life and the old me. My daughter's death caused this massive ripple effect through my life. I've held my dead child in my arms, and I will never, ever be the same.
And for the record, Josephine's birth doesn't fix that. It changes it, for sure, and she has brought so much light back into my life. She has given me the chance to physically mother a daughter. But I still ache for her sister. Every single day. Hell, every single moment.
I still ache.