New Year’s Lost

I made New Year’s Eve plans all the way back in May.

I envisioned a truly special night. I had a little room booked for me and the wife. Nothing fancy and we weren’t going to travel far, just a few towns over to Hyannis. Some of our friends would’ve come with us but there would have been plenty of other people around too who would devote themselves to us, take care of us and cater to our every need. All the anticipation would’ve built up and then just after the stroke of midnight, a new year and a new life would have begun.

Alex was scheduled to be born on New Year’s Eve.

Usually I love celebrations. Christmas, New Year’s, anniversaries, birthdays—if there was a reason to party I was going to be first in line. But since we lost Alex, I just don’t feel it anymore. Christmas was fun, but subdued. I didn’t even go out and get a tree. I’m going out for New Year’s, but mainly it’s to be around good friends who I know can put up with me when I’m drunk. Which I most definitely will be. And as an added kick to the testicles, MJ and I have our fifth wedding anniversary coming up on Jan. 13.

Normally I’m the one who makes a big deal out of birthdays and anniversaries. I remember the exact day I first kissed MJ and the day we first made love. MJ, on the other hand, has forgotten my birthday on more than one occasion and simply isn’t one to celebrate sentimental milestones. Usually I just ignore her and plan something fun anyway, but this year I didn’t plan anything because I don’t feel like celebrating and I figured she wouldn’t mind.

Well, she does mind. She’s really upset we’re not making a big deal out of our anniversary. She misses me and wants to spend time with me. I miss her too and I really do love her more than ever.

But I physically ache when I look at her.

She should be HUGE right now. Her gigantic belly should be just about to explode. I’m supposed to be massaging her swollen feet and making midnight runs to get her weird food combinations. We’re supposed to have a bag packed for the hospital and I should be at work, checking my cell phone every four seconds, waiting for the “IT’S TIME!” phone call.

The crib is supposed to be ready and decked out with bright new pink sheets. Girl clothes and all that cute shit should be overflowing from the nursery as relatives call everyday to get progress reports so they can be the first to show up at the hospital. Will is supposed to be ridiculously excited (and slightly pissed off and jealous) to become a big brother. I would have purchased a newborn-sized Patriots cheerleader outfit she could wear on Sundays.

And if she held on until New Year’s Day, maybe she would’ve been the Cape’s first baby of 2011. A reporter’s kid as the New Year’s baby with a front page spread. It would’ve been perfect.

But things are not perfect.

MJ doesn’t think Alex was a person. She thinks we lost a fetus, nothing more than a damaged collection of cells that failed to survive. I don’t hold that against her at all, and in fact I’m rather envious she can reconcile things like that. I wish I could convince myself to feel that way but I can’t.

I admit I didn’t know how to feel when we lost Alex. On one hand we’re talking about a 16-week-old fetus I never met. Technically we don’t even know it was a girl (although in my mind she was). So how do you grieve someone who you’re not even sure counts as an actual person? I don’t know the answer to that, but I think it’s at the heart of my struggle. MJ and I talked recently and because she’s much smarter than I am, she made me realize my heart has been treating this like the death of a loved one, but my brain is constantly trying to convince me that’s not the case. Therefore I never really dealt with it. Each time I tried to I’d get about halfway and then pull myself back because I’d tell myself this wasn’t a “real” loss.

But it was real for me. Whether I’m right or wrong, I see what happened as the death of a child. I know it doesn’t compare to the actual death of a living child several years old (a horror I selfishly hope I never encounter), but at times it feels that way to me. And instead of repressing that thought I need to deal with it so I can move on and be a better husband and father.

I’ve always viewed therapists and counselors as helpful people who are great options—for other people. Never me. You’d sooner see me in a Yankees hat than talking to some quack and admitting I couldn’t handle my own problems. Despite the fact I’ve seen it work for MJ with wonderful results, the thought of me on that couch is one of the most terrifying and embarrassing things I can imagine.

But the only thing worse is spiraling to the point that nothing makes me happy, my wife feels lonely and my son constantly tells me to cheer up. I don’t want that and won’t have it. I’m better than that and my family deserves better as well.

I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution in earnest. But for 2011, I’m hoping I can conjure up enough testicular fortitude to admit to my shortcomings and do something about it.

Happy New Year.

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15 thoughts on “New Year’s Lost

  1. Wow Aaron. My heart aches for you. I wish I had the words to express my thoughts but I simply don’t. I think both you AND MJ are correct. You both will deal with this situation as is appropriate for each of you – it is human nature for you to view it and handle it in different ways. Neither of you is right or wrong. Luckily it sounds as if you’re both sympathetic to each other’s needs which means so much. I can’t seem to concoct a single coherent thought, but know I am thinking of you & your family. I too sought counseling after thinking I never would – and it was the greatest gift I could give myself and the people who surrounded me. Much love to you & your family in 2011.

  2. Aaron: I got here via The Good Men Project. First off, it’s a pleasure to read such strong writing. However, I wish that composition of this particular post wouldn’t have been necessary. Your pain is evident in your words. I’m sorry.

    I hope that you do whatever it takes to get where you need to be, where your wife and son need you to be. You deserve it, and so do they.

    Best wishes for a fresh start in 2011.

  3. I have been right where you are and it’s so unbearably hard. Hard on everything, your heart, your life, your family and your marriage. I’ve also been the one who was unable to reconcile things the way MJ has and was envious of my husband who was able to do so. I was stuck in my grief and unable to move on and make that grief part of my life and grow from it to honor my baby. But eventually, once all of the “big” dates had passed like my due date, the one year anniversary of our loss and so on, I found that slowly, remembering that joy I felt initially as well as remembering what might have been may have still caused me sadness, there was also peace and healing there now too. You will never forget and that is ok, eventually that hole in your heart will grow smaller and you will be able to remember Alex fondly for the love and joy she brought to your lives even if it was for a short time. I wish you and your family much love, healing and happiness for 2011 and my hope is that time is kind to you all as you work your way through this.

  4. You are absolutely correct in thinking that Alex was a person, she was part of you and MJ. MJ’s thought process on believing that Alex was just a cluster of cells is her own way of dealing with the tragedy. You lost a child and that is the fact. Now the question is how to heal from it. I myself used to think that going to a therapist was for other people, but now that I’ve gotten older and there is MUCH more to deal with, you have to wonder if everyone else had discovered a way to some sort of peace that you’ve been trying to find. You should give it a try, what’s the worst that could happen, you think that it sucks and never go back? All you would lose is an hour of your time or you could find something worth while!

  5. you not only lost a child you lost all the hopes and dreams that go with that. I’m glad your wife can move through the pain the way she has, but I know i would be like you. Alex was real and was lost, not only her tiny person, but all that she might have been, her future is now just a ghost. I’m so sad for you and your heartache and I hope someone can help you come to terms with your grief so you can live life to the full. With your wife, son and the memory of your little girl. All the best for the new year.

  6. The story of Baby Alex, your struggle, and the story of the road to recovery have touched my heart since the first post you ever made about it. I cannot imagine how you feel, and I can’t pretend to. But what I can do is tell you that there are hundreds of people out here in the online world that are here for you when you need us.

    It shows in your words that you are not just a “man” but you are human, and you have that right to hurt. It also shows that you are ready to start moving forward and be the husband and dad your family needs you to be. For that I admire you. Stay strong and know that we are always here when you need to lean.

  7. oh gosh, hug ((HUGS))
    miscarrage is a particularly hard way to loose someone you love because of this social debate over whether they ‘really’ exsisted, especially when it happens relatively early in the pregnancy.

    You’re not just loosing a child, you’re loosing all this potentional, all these queries, all these wonders that will now never be fullfilled.

    We each define our own reality – in yours, Alex was really real and you loved her. Remember e=mc2? Thant is, stuff doesn’t just vanish, it has to be either mass or energy?

    Well her mass is now energy – love is an energy. It really exsisted and it never really went away.
    Prayers and love to you all xx

  8. Aaron, your words move me to tears. My heart aches and breaks for you and for MJ. It was baby Alex and your story that spread like wildfire through the internets that first brought me to your blog. I won’t pretend to know your pain, but I’ve encountered it all too often in my work. Alex was a baby. She was your daughter. It’s okay for you to mourn the loss of her. And it’s also okay that your grief is different than MJs. Grief, although you’re experiencing it as a couple, is a very individual thing. Personally and professionally, I think that you might benefit talking to someone- not necessarily a therapist or counselor, but maybe through an pregnancy/infant loss support group in your area. I know that you can, and will, survive the loss of your baby, as small as she was. I believe that your life now is different than before her. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I’ll be praying for you and MJ as you enter into a new year.

  9. Aaron, Thanks for sharing this story. I was very moved. A strong writer is someone who is willing and able to share his most personal experiences with the readers. Thank you for doing that. Jared

  10. I’m so sorry. My due date was December 29th this year and I still struggle with the loss on a daily basis. Although we lost him early, we still had his colleges picked out the moment we got that positive beta.
    Best wishes, I hope you find the help and happiness you need in 2011.

  11. For me, finding closure was the only way I could get over the loss from my miscarriage. You don’t actually lose something or someone, so it makes it really difficult to grieve the way you would a normal death. What worked for me (and I realize everyone is different so you may think this is the worst idea ever) was getting a tattoo. Mine is not focused solely on the baby I lost, but is a design from my wedding picture with a Pisces sign in the middle for when the baby would have been born. In time you will find the thing that gives you closure, the due date was definitely one of the hardest days to get through. In theory you have made it through the worst…

  12. This one really hurts to read. I know the pain of loss is very real for you and I can’t even imagine how to deal with it. I have talked to someone for help before and I am the last person on earth that would want to do that. I felt about it the exact some way you do. But it helped me more than I could tell you. I hope you can find it in yourself to give it a try if this is what you tnink will help you. You are still in my thoughts and prayers.

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