I know it doesn’t seem like much, but pants can become a big deal when you’re caught in the rift between what almost was and what devastatingly is.

In one of my first days off from work after learning Dakota’s diagnosis, B and I bundled up in layers and drove out to Montauk to build a beach fire and talk. It felt like a transformational moment at the time, this meeting of the minds to shore up our confidence in facing the uphill climb, to take stock of the reassuring aspects of his prognosis, to commit to his treatment and make a plan. The following day I packed up all my regular clothes, which were exploding from every drawer and hanger, into winter and summer bins that were moved promptly to the garage. I finally picked through the mother lode of hand-me-down maternity stuff I had been hoarding for weeks in the spare bedroom, followed by a trip to Motherhood to buy a few things for spring that made me feel pretty with my big belly. I filled the empty closet and drawers with knit dresses, ruched t-shirts in Easter egg colors, and sock-waisted jeans. I was committing myself to him, the pregnancy, my role as his mother, and the moral imperative to stay strong for our sick child.

It wasn’t until Philadelphia that the outlook veered wildly to the left. The MFM here had missed a horde of things on his ultrasound, and Dakota’s situation was grave. In a manner of weeks we had gone from blissfully expectant to grieving parents morbidly making private burial arrangements for our boy. And since it’s not enough to lose one’s child to a lethal birth defect after nearly six months of carrying him, I also had to make arrangements for him to come out. A woman spilled her entire cup of coffee on my belly at the Au Bon Pain in Penn Station that day, effectively ruining the new pastel sweater I had purchased just a few weeks earlier – so much symbolism in the clothes.

Today I’m struggling with this aching hole in my chest, and just finding the gumption to shower, brush my hair, leave the house seems impossible. I’d rather cry into my blanket on the couch, drink wine before noon, take Xanax and sleep all day. I’m fighting against this powerful lure into the cocoon, so I went into the bedroom to find something to wear out into the Sunday sunshine only to be confronted with a closet full of sweet things meant to attire a reality that doesn’t belong to me now, and it was almost enough to send me back to bed. Fuck it, though: I need to go buy some pants, ones that suit the rift, unpregnant with baby weight, in hopes that it’ll be easier to get dressed tomorrow.

43 thoughts on “Pants

  1. I have nothing constructive to say. I just wanted you to know that I’m reading. That I’m here. That I’m with you. That I’m sorry. And that I will keep reading and being here and hurting with you. Some days, just breathing is enough. Be gentle on your self when you need it. And get pants if you need them, but really, pants suck. {HUG}


  2. I dreaded buying maternity clothes. The symbolism of committing to a new wardrobe was overwhelming. To see them now must be crushing. The weight of that hope, and of the loss.. Sending you all the love.


  3. A, You will get dressed tomorrow..and the tomorrow after that and every tomorrow ….because it simply is who you are .. ❤️


  4. After the long road you’ve travelled, I look at your amazing strength and I’m absolutely in awe of what is possible to endure. It helps me put one foot in front of the other on my (much shorter) infertility journey and feel hope that even if it turns out I have a long way ahead, its possible to survive much more than I thought. Obviously, being an inspiration in how you handle grief is not what you wanted with this pregnancy. But I still want to thank you for your inspiring courage. I truly hope that you will be a mother one day, the world needs more kids raised by someone like you. ❤


    • When I read that book So Close (she lost twins in the 2nd tri…had no idea then how much my experience would parallel hers) it made sense to me in the beginning when she said she kept trying because she was too scared not to. I just can’t believe that all this will end with me grieving the ultimate loss (in my book) which is to never be a mom. That is the scariest thing of all, and I know from being as pregnant as I was that the taste of that happy conclusion quickly washed away the lingering memories of pain and angst. Hopefully I can get there again at some point.


  5. Just read this and your last post… My heart stopped and then dropped to the depths of me. I didn’t want to believe it. I am so sorry that this is happening to you and B, to your baby boy. In the face of this apocalypse, your prose is as moving as ever. Keep writing A, there is a light and beauty in the love and pain expressed, and I hope one day there will be healing too.


  6. A- we are here for you….listening, hoping, hurting. When you are ready strength and life and energy will come flooding In and although you are tired of being so strong you will be and that will be an inspiration to so many. Your words are so beautiful and although the sorrow makes them so very powerful this gift of yours will help you through. Keep reaching out. With love-


  7. My heart sank as I’m reading this. It aches so bad. I am beyond sorry, for you, the struggle and this unfunny, unfair life.


  8. Longtime, devastated reader here. Your words about feral cats and butterflies with their wings torn away will reverberate for quite some time – you write so exquisitely, and I wish you never had to communicate such a thing. This is just so un-fucking-fair.


  9. I am so so sorry to read this. I know words can’t really help, but hope that you know, even when I can’t find the right words, that my thoughts are with you. We’re all with you.


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