For me, motherhood is like buying a super expensive DSLR camera and realizing you prefer Polaroids.
Immediately produced memories that are tangible. They are a little sloppy. Slightly discoloured. They aren't perfectly planned with time to review exposures.
The truth is, I wanted to be a photographer. I had the dark room planned out, the camera bought, the internship lined up. However, much like in motherhood, I'm an amateur at best. I'd consider myself, at this point, a hobby mom. I'm not great at taking it seriously, but I know professional work when I see it. At times, I lack vision, organization, and follow through, but sometimes: I'm fun. Efficient enough. Making do.
I was supposed to be better at this.
Somewhere between point and shoot, I lost it. Frame by frame of trying to catch my breath, I think I have it. I'm figuring out: I don't. Activities, trips, crafts, games, pre-planned meals, bedtimes ON time. Pinterest pages of parenting blogs I haven't read, homemade toys and experiments I visioned, but haven't attempted. Piles of laundry. Disorganized closets and mismatched socks. I was supposed to be better at this.
It turns out that much of the photography we see in print and online is photoshopped. With each click and drag, imperfections have been brushed out, and the finished product is perfection. I'm not that artist. I make my work quickly and shake the images produced with rushed hope. Balance is hard.
I will keep taking my moments as they come, and hoping I have it together enough to make a sweet memory or two. To have enough "remember whens," and less "I forget." One day, I'll learn how to do more than point and shoot and plan on the fly. For now, selfies will do.
April is a month for transition. Out goes the snow and ice left from March's indecision and in comes the predictability of wishy washy April. April will rain, and glow, and blow, and then lather, rinse and repeat. Much like an over- tired toddler, April doesn't know what is next.
In July of 2012, I got pregnant. I found out soon after that I was miscarrying. It was an early loss. Some would term it as a chemical pregnancy. For me, I feel that term invalidates the grief that we have when Hope unravels. I was to be due in early April.
So the seasons pass and April rolls around. The due date falls on my college reunion. With women I hadn't seen in years, we recall memories of professors, relationships, polar bear shots before exams (don't judge, I share my birthday with my best friend.) Conversations have a ribbon woven throughout. Babies, marriage, kids, engagements, work, husbands, girlfriends, babies, houses, kids, careers, babies. Babies. Babies. I'm in the bathroom of the Moxie's on Richmond deep breathing in the stall. Trying not to blink. Looking up. Can't. Finally, I return to the table and order another glass of wine. I should be waiting for a baby right now. I should be at home with swollen ankles waddling in the nursery, assessing each Braxton-Hicks. I'm not. I'm sitting with women I am heart bound to and hearing them talk about their toddlers, babies, pregnancies. "You're next, Jackie." I can't. Not today. I am so happy for them but can't shake the weight.
The next day, we figure was the date we got pregnant with our second. We lost again. Three months later, we were pregnant with our son. Our double rainbow.
Here are a few thoughts as I consider what I needed that April:
I needed the distraction of going out with my college friends but I needed permission to be real with them. I didn't give that to myself that day. I needed them not to ask about me and my reproduce plans. Well meaning people who I dearly love, didn't know what was reeling below deck.
I needed my early loss to be validated by care providers. I had the Early Pregnancy Assessment resident ask me "What's Wrong" after performing my ultrasound and confirming the loss. Not shitting you. I needed permission to be anxious during my pregnancy with Andrew. I had early bleeds. I felt like I was hoping uphill. I was petrified. I needed support. I needed serious postpartum care. I should have had a doula. I attribute my PPD in partiality to my anxious pregnancy.
What to do on loss anniversaries: whatever you need to. Stay home, distract yourself, go out, or don't. Honour your baby. Honour what you lost and whoever you're missing. With a baby born in 2013, I'd have a four year old, and should be registering her for JK this year. Light a candle, yell, cry, remember. And if you need to forget, that's ok, too. Every year for me is different. Sometimes it's easier. This year, I'm not sure.
This week, before relabeling file folders at work, I started to write their names in marker. Illegibly, I scribble the previous clients' names before it gets a new label. I smile because I can do that now. Hope. Everett.
My living toddler's birthday is May 10th. April showers, bring May flowers. Rain, blow, and glow.
Jackie Anger is a London, Ontario doula, a mama to an amazing toddler, a community advocate, and a lover of coffee.