When anyone mentions the freak October snowstorm of 2011, it's usually with a do-you-remember-that-crazy-time chuckle. I just laugh along, but I also have a memory from that day, one that I don't share with many people. Because the storm happened just after I gave birth to, and lost, my daughter.
After being on bed rest with episodes of heavy bleeding during my pregnancy, my body had decided it had enough. I started having contractions, and the doctors said there was nothing they could do. Babies can't survive out of the womb until at least 25 weeks gestation, and my baby was only 17. After delivering her, I held her tiny, perfect body and wondered what she would have looked like if I could have kept her safe inside me for longer.
The next day, the nurse wheeled me out of the hospital and made small talk while my husband got the car. "Can you believe it's supposed to snow?" she said as the October leaves rustled along the pavement in front of the maternity entrance. I hadn't even noticed the unseasonal chill in the air.
The snow did indeed come, and as we hunkered down at home I was glad the world was howling along with me. The storm was an aberration against nature, just as losing my baby was. Snow in October is not supposed to happen. Losing your baby is not supposed to happen.
Night fell, and our power went out. My husband went to shovel out the car so he could pick up dinner from our local pizza place, which had a generator. Men need to do things to keep busy. I just sat on the floor in front of the fire. Crying in the darkness, I asked God the question that all grieving people ask: Why? It's a stupid, trite question, one that has no answer. Yet still, we ask it.
I wondered what I had done to cause the loss, both the physical reasons -- had I allowed myself to get too stressed, did I forget to drink enough water? -- and the metaphysical -- had I done something to deserve it, had I erred against the universe in some way? What I couldn't figure out was, even if I did deserve it, why was my husband also being punished? He certainly hadn't done anything wrong. And come to think of it, the baby herself was most certainly innocent. Why shouldn't she be given the chance to live?
My husband came home to find me in a sobbing heap on the floor, and chided himself for leaving me alone. We set up candles for light on the kitchen table in front of a floral arrangement we had received, creating an unintended shrine. We ate the pizza and played cards.
In a way, it was comforting to be in such forced isolation. I couldn't have handled the normal world, smiling and carrying on in the sunshine as if nothing had happened. My world was at a standstill, and with the storm, the rest of the world had to stop along with me.
The next day everything had that untouched, quiet beauty after a new-fallen snow. We still had no power, and I was alternately lonely and thankful for the respite from life. As I stared outside, a red cardinal who hadn't yet migrated south flew across our white backyard, and it reminded me of blood. The October snow was like our daughter, who we named Samantha: beautiful, but come too soon.
Tina Donvito blogs about parenting after infertility and loss at foggymommy.com. Follow Foggy Mommy on Facebook and Twitter. For more about National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, visit october15th.com.