On this day of my first pregnancy (21 weeks, 6 days) Odin was born. When you’re living in the dark timeline, the one that begins when your child’s life ends and yours continues, it’s hard to ignore these types of landmarks and dates. They’re the ones that remind you, despite the happiness or contentment you’re now capable of feeling, that your life is not exactly what it should be. Last year at this stage of my pregnancy I was admitted to the hospital and, 36 hours and 7 doses of misoprostol later, Odin was in our arms; his perfect (but tiny) outside disguising the fatal flaws within. Perfect chin, perfect nose, the littlest toes, fingers as delicate as thread. Our son.
From this point on, everything about pregnancy will be new to me. I know I will continue to balance missing Odin with the excitement and anticipation of meeting our baby girl (with a side of anxiety for good measure). I also know that grief and joy can live together and some days one wins out over the other, which is okay. It’s the price of great love when that love has nowhere to go.
Back in February I ordered a Molly Bear. Molly Bears is a non-profit organization founded by a woman who lost her baby girl, Molly Christine, in 2010. Seven years and 26 volunteers later, they have produced over 11,000 bears and have shipped to 35 countries. Each Molly Bear is handmade and weighs exactly what your baby weighed. Initially, I had mixed feelings about ordering one, but decided to go for it after reading that other loss parents had found comfort in these bears. Ours arrived a few weeks ago and it’s so hard to describe how that bear makes me feel. At first glance, it’s very cute. It’s scruffy and brown like we had requested and has a red felt heart on its chest with “Odin” embroidered in it. And it weighs his exact 470 grams (which is just slightly over a pound).
When you hold your baby in your arms and you know it will be the first and last time, you do your best to try to remember everything. Aside from the endless and all-consuming love you’ll feel for your child for the rest of your life, these few moments are all you’ll have. You live a lifetime of loving and shared experiences in whatever short time you have with your baby before saying goodbye. And you don’t even know at the time that that’s what you’re doing. It’s impossible to prepare for that. Sometimes I try to go back and remember every excruciating moment just so I won’t forget. But forgetting is inevitable. The memories become less sharp and the images become blurred. I try. I try so hard to keep it all but I can’t, it’s just not possible. I read a quote from a poem called Grief by Stephen Dobyns a while ago that describes it so perfectly:
Trying to remember you
is like carrying water
in my hands a long distance
When I held our Molly Bear I couldn’t believe the weight. I spent a lot of time checking my math and second-guessing that I had sent the right information. The bear felt so heavy to me. Eventually, I realized that the things I had been holding in my arms since Odin died (the stuffed bear from the hospital, his clothes, the blanket he was wrapped in) were all empty; nearly weightless. I had forgotten the weight of him. And I crumbled. I couldn’t believe that while Odin’s presence in our lives symbolically weighs so much, the reality of his physical weight had slipped away from me. I try so hard to keep it all but I can’t.
The bear is on Odin’s special shelf now, keeping safe guard of his ashes in the tiny brass urn. I haven’t picked it up since the day it arrived in the mail, but I am comforted to know that I can hold it and be reminded of what I try so hard to keep.