Living in the "After"

It's been a year since the last time I blogged. Honestly it doesn't even seem like it was that long ago, yet here we are. So much has changed since then.... Where do we even begin?

There is now a moment in my life - a day that separates the before and the after. Once you're in the after you can't go back to the before. And really...you don't want to. No matter how much the after hurts and you wish it would change, there IS no going back. 

That day was September 22, 2015. The day our third daughter, Eleanor Rosalie, was born still. 

I have relived the events of the day in my mind so often that there is no need for me to recount them here. It was a busy, horrible, shocking, terrifying, and fast day. There was no preparation, no time to process. It just happened. Suddenly. 

One moment I was a normal pregnant mama excited about her new baby (while also being thoroughly exhausted). And the next.....I simply was not.

Nothing was normal.

Nothing will ever be "normal" again.

Life in the "after," quite frankly, sucks. 

Nearly 7 months later, the pain isn't quite as raw. It's still there...lurking, hiding, waiting to be awoken by any number of triggers, but it's not as fresh. Dare I say it's manageable some days?

Many have commented "I don't know how you do it" or "How do you get out of bed?" Honestly? I don't even know. You just do. When you have two other healthy, living, breathing children vying for your attention, you just do. You do the next thing. You make and/or have breakfast. You wash clothes, because you still have to wear something. You eat, because people have brought you dinner. Inexplicably, against all your feelings, you continue to live. Without your baby.

You look at pictures from before and wonder who you were. How were you that happy? Will you ever be that happy again?

You live moment to moment. You panic over normal things. You hover over your living children, terrified something will take them from you, too. You even do irrational things like buy new a carseat, because you're convinced the one you have isn't good enough. You dread even getting in the car. You have a panic attack at your next doctor's appointment. You were there before.

Yet somehow....you laugh again. You play with your kids again. Little by little you do things you did in the before. But it's different. It will always be different. 

Life in the after is hard. It's full of anxiety and spur of the moment grief. It's full of happy moments, too, because now you appreciate them even more. You look for ways to make a difference, to give back, while struggling through the pain...just to give some sort of meaning - some sort of legacy - to your child's short life. 

In some ways, I'm still the same as I was before. I still enjoy many of the things I once did. But in many, many other ways, the after has changed me. My heart is different; it needs protection and care. My thoughts are different. My actions are different. 

I can't be the same. 

That was before.

This is after.

I am forever changed by the short life of a little girl I never really got to meet, Eleanor Rosalie.