We marked 10 months without Otis on the 13th. Sometimes the 13ths sneak up on me and knock me down unexpectedly, sometimes I prepare for them so the knock down doesn't feel quite so hard, and sometimes (like this month), they just come and go.
I saw my therapist close to around that time (she and I have tapered down our visits due to financial constraints) and it helped. I had been feeling extraordinarily detached from myself, from my husband, my friends, from any sort of enthusiasm towards life or anything productive...but I didn't feel like it was directly related to needing to talk/cry about Otis. Yet, spending that hour in there, and crying about Otis, and crying about the loss of the woman I used to be - both the woman I was before Otis was born and died, as well as feeling detached from the raw, fragile, open, "love is everything" woman I was right after he died - somehow brought my balance back towards a comfortable place, and things have felt nicer these last few weeks. No insight or even glimmers of insight from that appointment, other than it was a good release to go, and cry, and talk about him and how much I miss him, still, every day, and about how wrong it is that he's not here with us.
We just spent close to a week in the mountains, visiting a family camp that my family camped at throughout my youth. Then I worked there during my summers in college. It holds a very special place in my heart, yet I hadn't been back in a long time. I'd always been waiting to take my own family up there, I guess. So again, this was a bit of a "Otis should be here with us" sort of trip. At the same time, one of my dearest friends, who I met while camping there at the wee age of 5, and who was a devoted pen pal of mine throughout our childhood and teenage years, who also went on to work at the camp, was visiting with her family. Her husband is in the foreign service so they have been stationed in Moscow for the last three years, so I so rarely get to see her (our last visit was a brief one, three days before I went into labor with Otis, while she had a layover in my city. She was one of the last of my friends to lay her hands on my belly and feel him kick.) Her family is now in the country in between her husband's posts (they go to Iceland next) so we decided to surprise them up there.
I was hesitant and reluctant, going to a family camp where children would be running all around me, but, in the end, my desire to see her won. And I'm so glad it did. What a treat, a recharge for my soul's batteries, to get to spend that time with her. I hadn't told her I was pregnant, wanting to keep it as an in person surprise (plus we have been pretty private with this pregnancy, I'd say maybe only 50% of my "real life" people actually know...) It was so great to see her face when she realized I was there, and then when she realized I was pregnant...I wouldn't have traded it for anything. And we got to talk, face to face, about Otis, about this sweet big boy who I miss so much, and I got to see her tears in person, and I got to talk to her daughter about this baby in my belly ("No, it's not my first baby...") and hear my friend say to her five year old, "Remember, you know Sarah's first baby, Otis. We have a picture of him in our house. We talk about him a lot, he's no longer here with us but he's so loved. So loved." And watch as her five year old muddles that information in her brain, blinks back a few tears, swallows, and then lays her hands on my belly, leans in real close, and says, "I love you baby."
The last night in our cabin, we had bats. Lots of them. We shooed two out of the cabin and found one more in the morning so I'm pretty confident there were at least three in there, though perhaps it was one very persistent bat who kept coming back. I am an animal lover. I love the bat exhibit at the zoo, I really do. I have a bat decoration that every Halloween I am so excited to hang on our porch. In fact, it was one thing that brought me joy even last year, in the darkest October of my life. But real life bats, flying through your hair when you get out of bed to pee at night (which, at 27 weeks pregnant, you do about every hour, especially when you're pounding water to keep from getting altitude sickness or dehydration)...not so much. Freaked me out, to no end. And no google to consult with in the middle of the night, since we didn't even have a phone line. I desperately worried that I was going to get bitten by a bat and become "that woman that lost her second child due to a freak bat accident." Seriously. I didn't sleep at all. Every time I heard that bat flutter around I would whimper and cry and beg to be pardoned from the wrath of the bat. No joke. I realized that this is another after-effect of losing your child - horribly random and scary occurrences no longer seem out of the realm of possibility. Of course I could be attacked by a bat. My perfectly healthy son died at birth. The world is senseless. Bats attack. Babies die.
But I didn't get attacked by a bat, and as far as I know, no bats hitched onto our luggage for a ride back home, so I think we're in the clear, at least for now.
So I'm 27 weeks pregnant. I can't believe it. And I can't believe that I'm saying this, but I am really, really, really loving being pregnant. I think, at least right now, at *this moment,* I kind of understand what living in the moment feels like. We rarely, rarely, rarely talk about "when the baby comes." We have not set up anything baby related in the house. We don't have a name picked out. And yet yesterday at the doctor, we got to see him on the u/s screen yet again, and there was his adorable little profile, that sweet button nose and what appear to be some really luscious lips (oh please oh please oh please let them be like Otis's perfect nose and lips) and E broke down into sobs as we walked out of the office, "I love him SO much. SO MUCH," he kept repeating through some really good crying...."Can you talk to me more about your tears, babe?" I asked him...I just wasn't sure if they were Otis tears, or tears for this baby, or - duh - both - since really no tears are ever without Otis anymore...and E sniffled, looked up at me, looked back at the u/s pics, and said, "I think these are happy tears. I really do."