It was late in the evening, after a day and a half of labor, when I heard the words, “It’s time to push.” And at that moment, my walls came down, and the tears began to flow.
My husband reached for my hand, slid a wisp of hair behind my ear, and told me it was going to be OK. He gave me his most inspirational look and said, “You are strong! You got this! You’ve done this three times before and you can do it again.” For in my tears, he saw fear and pain and anguish.
But what came instead were tears of relief. Tears of grief purged. Tears of all the moments that had led to this moment.
Because we always remember the end of the story. The perfect baby with a wrinkled face asleep in the hospital-issued, striped blanket. The moment of joy we had waited nine long months for.
Yet in that hospital room, we were reaching a goal so much longer than nine months in the making. And so, I cried.
I cried for the days when I prematurely celebrated every potential symptom, knowing I must be pregnant. I cried for the days when I realized that wishful thinking had made me a fool as negative tests were confirmed with a smear of blood.
I cried for the day when the symptoms were real. When I was so full of hope and love and relief. I cried with a painful hindsight, as I knew a tragic future that hadn’t yet come to pass.
I cried for the silence of a sonogram. A deafening silence where I had expected to hear the most beautiful beating a woman can know. The memory of the words, “I’m sorry.” The blur of everything that came next.
I cried for the sterility of an emergency room. For sitting in a room with paper walls where I was just another medical case on someone’s docket and not a woman grieving. Exposed and empty. In so many ways.
I cried for the woman who couldn’t get excited over a positive pregnancy test. A version of me that was no longer full of hope and joy, but full of caution and pessimism.
I cried for the streak of red where you know none should be. The moment of panic, devastation, and the slightest sliver of hope. That this time will be different.
I cried for the formality of a surgery. For sitting in an office and handing over a credit card for a co-pay for a service I never wanted. For having a nurse assist me with a paper robe and a hairnet. She, dutifully doing her job. Me, feeling like I failed—again—at the one job I was destined to do.
I cried for the minutes that felt like hours, left alone in a room waiting for an update. Moments spent staring at socks on naked legs under a paper sheet. Moments spent feverishly praying the update was a good one. Moments spent trying to read the face of an ultrasound tech for any hints of concern.
I cried for the babies who I would never get to meet in this world.
I cried for their brother who would finally, finally, be arriving. I cried tears of hope and anticipation for the moment they’d lay him on my chest.
I cried, oh, how I cried. As much as I wish that in those tears I purged the grief, they were merely expressed but not vanquished. The tears of joy mixed with the tears of grief. Because we carry these moments with us forever. Even after the joy of our rainbow baby comes, the pain remains.
So yes. We are strong. We’ve got this. And when we need to, we cry. For grief, for joy. For pain, for hope. For relief, for sorrow. For our babies. We cry.