The guilt of forgetting can hit us when we least expect it. Last night, Florian and I returned from a few days away in Bangkok. While on the plane, my thoughts floated back to our lost triplets. I was thinking of the names we had planned for them initially when I found myself struggling to remember our first daughter’s name. I sat there thinking, going through the alphabets hoping that a letter would trigger my recollection. Nothing.
In the end, I had to turn to Florian for the answer. Thank God he remembered. However, as soon as her name escaped his lips, I felt guilt ridden. Tears threatened to overflow as I wondered how I, her mother, could dare forget the name we dearly loved and wanted for her? I told Florian exactly this. His reassured me that I had merely forgotten in that moment, that it was just a blip in time. Ironically, the struggle to hold on to the things we refuse to forget, inadvertently makes remembering a battle.
The Significance of Dates
If we had come out of hospital unscathed; If I didn’t have the complication of intrahepatic cholestasis, our babies would have been born this week – at 36 weeks as of yesterday. They would have reached full term for a multiple pregnancy.
I know that come 16 December, their estimated due date (EDD) if they were singletons, will not come and go without us thinking of them. It makes me wonder whether I will ever pass August 23, November 18 and December 16 without thinking of what could have been. Even if only fleetingly. August 23 is the day they left us; November 18, their multiple pregnancy EDD; And December 16, their 40 week EDD.
I wonder if I will beat myself up for the times I may forget. Some days, it is almost possible to feel as though life with our triplets in my belly were no more than a dream. Is that forgetting?
There’s Forgetting and There’s forgetting
Our good days are getting better, and our bad days are beginning to become passing moments. In the hearts of Florian and I, we know that our love for our babies will never diminish. As such, we can have confidence in moving forward every day towards a future we know we deserve. The guilt of forgetting may not be easy to sit with, but trust in your ability to know the difference between truly forgetting, and experiencing a small lapse in memory.
To forget is ‘to be unable to remember a fact, something that happened, or how to do something’. As Florian puts it, the day I forget will be the day he mentions our babies and I draw a complete blank. He assures me that that will never happen. Conversely, a memory lapse is like how when we’re telling a story about a friend’s dog and suddenly, we forget the dog’s name. Later on, it will likely pop back into our minds as quickly as it slipped out.
To answer my question from the section above, I suppose the dreamlike-ness in thinking back to when we miscarried isn’t so much about forgetting. Instead, I believe that God has created us to be a lot more resilient that we imagine. Situations where we think we will never get over, we will learn to deal with in order to become stronger. The blow of loss has softened over time, hence, it feeling like a dream. This in turn has enabled us to have faith in what lies ahead of us.
Time Is A Healer
They say that Time is a healer. I thought not at the beginning. Now, I am starting to see differently. Time does heal. It dulls the pain, soothes the scars and builds up hope for the future. Another pregnancy doesn’t seem so daunting anymore although I will admit, the fear is still present. It is present, but not as acute as it was, say, two months’ ago.
At the beginning, fear led me to cling on to whatever memories I could of our babies, intangible as some of them may be. I learned over time that I will never forget them. They were, after all, a part of me. They still are – they will always own a piece of my heart. Still, I may suffer from the odd lapse in memory and fail to remember bits and pieces. It honestly sucks, but thankfully I have Florian to help me through the guilt of forgetting (momentarily).
Naturally, there is guilt in forgetting a name, a moment. I guess this is where I say that forgiving ourselves is important. It is human to experience little glitches in our consciousness for a heartbeat. That does not make us a bad parent. It just means that we are learning to live away from the shadows of the past.
We are not designed to thrive in darkness. Rather, we belong to the light and will therefore learn again what joy is. Just as Ellen says to be kind to one another, we have to be kind to ourselves too. Guilt traps us; Forgiveness sets us free.
I am still learning to handle the ebbs and flows of emotions that come with miscarriage. Forgetting one of my baby girl’s name struck me hard, but Florian’s quick response allowed me to reframe the situation. It reminded me to take a step back, to breathe, and to know that these things happen, and it is okay.