Monday, March 6, 2017

Birthday


We celebrated Sonny's birthday this past Wednesday.  My rainbow boy is a year old.

Psalm feels so far away sometimes, and this is one of them.  My darling, my daughter, I can feel her slight weight on my chest still (or maybe I'm deluding myself, but I have tried very hard to remember that feeling), and I look at her pictures often enough I can remember what she looks like but she has been gone for a very long time which is also absolutely no time at all.

And my heart breaks. 

This is one more thing we never got to do with her.  The second birthday of hers that she hasn't been cuddled for, hasn't been kissed for.

When I got pregnant with Psalm, I thought about how she was due late enough in October that she just might be born in November.  Douglas was 11 days overdue; Psalm might have been that long overdue, or she might have been just nine days overdue and born on Esther's birthday, or maybe she would have been born on Halloween.  And I remember saying on Facebook that I wanted to make a wee Halloween costume but that would surely jinx the baby to come after that holiday.

That worry seems so...na├»ve now.  So many things from after I knew I was pregnant but before I knew her problems do, and always will.  Some part of me hurts to see them, but sometimes I like being reminded of the eighteen weeks of happiness I had instead of the eighteen weeks of dread.



We celebrated her birthday again last year.  I guess we always will, even though I never really planned to.  I let Duncan, who was nearly seven months, smash some cake for her. 

I have said this before.  I keep this mental list of things she never got to do.  This is the extra sadness of the rainbow child; watching them mark off all the milestones the one who is gone missed out on.  I think having Duncan help out on her birthday stacked up with his celebration to make it feel as though he's now had two and she's had none.  And he will only, God willing, continue adding things to that list.  And the more he grows, the more out of reach she is.  And my heart hungers for her.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Exiles


Today, this passage speaks to me:

This is what the LORD says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the LORD. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”

I have been in exile; I have spent my time mourning (and I still do), but I am looking toward the future when I will be called home again.

(This photo is of Duncan holding Psalm's heartbeat bear.)

Thursday, February 9, 2017

It creeps up.

The truism that grief pops up out of nowhere every so often is, well, true.

Two days ago, I was sitting outside, knitting, and one of the kids came out with Duncan.  I glanced up and over at him, and the exact angle his fat little foot was at for some reason put me in mind of Psalm and her thin, small foot, and I almost cried.

I play with Marie's feet and Doug's feet and they are long and thin.  They have their dad's feet.  Mine are wide.  I remember Psalm's foot, how it was turned to the side.  I remember touching her little foot.  There was so much of the tragedy of her life wrapped up in that one foot.  When Duncan was born, I cupped his feet in my hand and held them up to Erik and said "Look!  He has two feet!"  The newborn ritual of counting toes takes on new significance when you have had cause to stop early.

I will never see her foot get fat.  Will never see it tucked behind her as she crawls, will never see it and its twin stomp the floor as she learns to walk.  I am seeing Duncan do all the things she was never able to do, and I wonder whether she is watching her baby.  Whether she is cheering him on.  He walked early, he talked early.  I think maybe she is right there, whispering in his ear, making it so that he is halfway ahead of himself.  He surely has love for two people, happiness for two people.  He will know how much his big sister must love him, because her love for her whole family was so fierce that she fought her brokenness to be born to us.  He will know that losing her made me love him more.  I have two babies' worth of kisses to give him.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Look at this rainbow. Look at this ghost.

I never meant to not blog for a year.

I went and had a baby.  I didn't post about him here because (and I know how this sounds) I feared my ex-husband would find it and make trouble for me.

Oh, how I wish I had been more brave.  How I wish I had thought to say all the things I felt when I felt them, instead of now.

There's something existentially terrifying about a rainbow pregnancy.  Your innocence is gone.  I was told while pregnant with Psalm that I had no greater chance of having another baby with the same condition than anyone else.  Given I had already beaten the odds once, this was not as comforting as I'm sure the doctor imagined it to be.

I went to the midwife.  She was happy to see me.  She brought in the ultrasound machine and showed me the baby.  I asked her to show me the tummy, and there it was round and perfect and whole.

She told me another thing.  The baby was a boy.  I'd known, somehow.  But I was still sad, still carried with me some hope that the really obvious penis was magically an umbilical cord, until the anatomy scan.  Fun fact: boys are still valued so highly over girls that the ultrasound tech will get really, really happy to show you unborn penis.  And then you're supposed to be really, really happy.

I wasn't.  I wanted another girl.  Not to replace Psalm, but for all those things I missed out on when she died.

Gender disappointment with a rainbow baby is a shitshow.  You're supposed to be super happy and super stoked and grateful all the time.  But you're not, and you feel guilty as hell and it's terrible.  I knew that was going to happen, which was why I departed from Team Green.  I was hoping that 20 weeks to get used to the idea was going to be helpful.  It was not.  Instead, it was 20 weeks to be sad and then to hate myself for being sad.

I had a c-section.  I hated it.  I struggled with the decision up until nearly the last second.  And I regret it like I do nothing else in my life.  Rainbow pregnancy strikes again.  I couldn't do it without support, and I didn't get any support.

Best laid plans, and all that.

On Leap Day, Duncan-Mark Thomas was born and he broke my heart and then repaired it.

It was the same, it was different.  Same OR.  Same obstetrician.  But this time things were relaxed and everyone but me was happy.  The baby was delivered.  His beautiful, long cord was cut.  His beautiful, healthy lungs filled with air and he cried.  And I cried.  And he was cleaned up and wrapped and then given to me.  And I held my little dark-haired boy to my heart and listened to him cry and I cried and was happy and I cried and missed my little dark-haired girl.

He was so pink.  So perfect.  So alive.  And because I have two templates for children, and because he was made from Template B (Dark Hair) he looked exactly how Psalm should have looked.


And we took him back to recovery, like we did Psalm.  And he lived, like she did not.  And I was grateful and amazed and in love and broken again and again.

I uncovered his feet and looked at them and marveled that there were two.


I uncovered his hair and stroked its darkness and marveled at the warmth of his head and the size of his head:


I held his little hand and it held mine back and was warm and I knew the time to mourn had been replaced by the time to rejoice:



I played him Psalm's song, and cried the whole time.


He is innocent, and perfect, and a balm to my soul.

(Just to be clear, he is nearly a year old.  I will work to tell more about loving the rainbow while mourning the loss.)