Like all the other prompts this month, there are a lot of things I could write about for today. The first time we found out we were pregnant, our first ultrasound, our first time meeting Carter, the first trip to the cemetery, the first time seeing his headstone. We have had a lot of "firsts" in the last year. There are a lot of "firsts" you are supposed to experience after you have a baby, but ours have been different than we thought they would be.
I could go on and on about any of the above topics, but I want to write about something else. The idea of "the first time I smiled after losing Carter" keeps running through my head. I know it's a different subject than you might have imagined, but I feel like it's important.
I can't pinpoint the moment when I smiled for the first time, but I know it was sooner than I had expected. At various points during the morning that we delivered him, I smiled. I smiled first probably because labor was finally over. Looking at our handsome boy though, it would have been hard not to smile. Sure, everything was drastically different than it was supposed to be, but he was perfect and he made us a family.
Every single interaction between us, Carter, and our parents that morning was a strange mix of sadness and happiness. The reason for our sadness was obvious, but there was so much pride and love in that room that is seemed to just leak out my eyes and pull up the corners of my mouth simultaneously. Watching Brandon hold Carter for the first time both filled and broke my heart. Watching our parents meet their first grandson did the same. I don't know that I will ever be able to explain it well enough, so all I can say is that, if you've been through, you understand.
That afternoon, after we had said goodbye to Carter and were waiting to go home, we watched Impractical Jokers. I remember laughing a little, and instantly hating myself for feeling any amount of joy on the worst day of my life. Sometimes I still feel that way. Like, how can I go to Disneyland and enjoy myself when my son is in a cemetery? The time frame varies, but we as loss parents learn to live with the grief. There is a large part of you that will always be missing, and the hole in your heart will never heal, but we learn to smile through the pain and enjoy the good parts of life that we have been given.
I have always believed that life is too short to do things you don't want to do, or to be around people you don't want to be around. It's too short to waste away every day in pain and agony. Losing our babies has taught me that living a life full of joy and love is what matters most. So if we're having a bad day and we want to book a trip to Disneyland, then we should book the dang trip, because life is too short to say that we'll do it next year.
There will always be moments where I feel guilty for living a life without my babies. The times that I laugh and get an emotional slap to the face are more frequent than they should be. But as a mother, I still take pride in the fact that we have made two beautiful children, and that they have made us a family of four. I carry them in my heart and mind on good and bad days, and they are at the forefront of everything that I do.
Smiling for the first time after we lost Carter felt wrong, but it was natural. With so much love filling every part of my life, it would be incredibly hard to not let that smile shine through.