Thursday, January 29, 2009

1000 stolen moments



I could spend an eternity looking at this face....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

In the blink of an eye, you were gone...

January 24, 2009



Dear God,

I went back and forth about how to mark this day. A lot of women I follow on-line choose to recap the horror that they endured the previous year when their child died. I know that a lot of hurt and anguish is relived during these recaps, however my hope is that some of those emotions are released from deep inside when they do re-tell their story.

But, I don't have it in me to do that.

I haven't told our horrid tale from beginning to end, and I think part of this is deliberate, part because those on this path already know the story because they have lived their own versions of it. And part because those who knew us IRL felt the anguish and disappointment of anxiously awaiting the arrival of a son, a son that belonged to all of us in a small way, and feeling the blow of not being allowed to have him.

Today instead I make it a point to talk to you God because you and I haven't talked so much lately since this happened. And even though we didn't always have the strongest of relationships, we did have an understanding and a respect that a lot of people don't have.

And someday, it is my prayer that we would get that back. Even a little.

A lot of people in DBL feel like you have forsaken them. Much like your son hanging on a cross waiting to be saved from the torturous hell of crucifixion, most of us had that moment of hope that you would make it better, swoop down and make the child start moving, heart start beating, cervix stop dilating, amniotic fluid stop gushing, blood pressure stop rising. We like your holy son had to come to grips in a single moment that there would be no miracle and for whatever reason (destiny or just shit luck) were destined to walk this horrendous path.

Was it fair? No.
Was is preordained? I am still not sure. But, my guess is no.

I go back and forth on feeling whether or not you have forsaken me. If I think real hard about it, I do sometimes feel that I was targeted unfairly to be 'chosen' to be in the DBL club. But now after a year spent with many women in DBL the very real truth is that we were all robbed, mostly because you don't really meet people who deserve to have this happen to them. In a fairy tale world, only the bad people would have the bad things happen to them, but IRL most people are decent people, leaving us all in the pool of chance and shitty odds.

But, it still doesn't hurt any less to know it wasn't personal.

I now know that I was given glimpses of what this life was like. It started when I was 11 and my 6 year-old cousin Jacob wandered into my grandparent's backyard with a small rubber ball and decided to play next to a 150 lb metal BBQ pit. No one really knows how it came to be that the small rubber ball started a chain reaction that eventually took the young life of my cousin, but what I do recall is how at the funeral I witnessed my aunt crying uncontrollable, unearthly sobs that can only come from a woman who has lost her only child. When I was alone with Peyton a year ago in that hospital room, I heard her cries echoed in my own.

At the funeral I witnessed the heavy, heavy guilt of my grandparents who were supposed to be watching Jacob, and the denouncing of you. The God they knew would not let this happen. At the hospital a year ago, I saw my father-in-law slowly lose his faith in you, the scripture he had heard since he was a young boy in Alabama slipped through his fingers like water as he watched his wife hold the lifeless body of his first and only grandchild.

When I was in college another aunt had lost a son to stillbirth and went on to get pregnant again with another son, only to deliver him in critical condition, grasping for his life in the NICU. When this happened AGAIN, her dazed husband announced to my family with unequivocal faith that this son would live, and held on steadfast to that hope for dear life until the last breath was taken by the tiny infant a few days later. Arnold's defiance that this horror could not happen to his family (AGAIN) was echoed in Peyton's voice as he assured me as we drove to the hospital a year ago, and stayed right up until the ultrasound tech put the wand on my jellied belly and uttered the word 'nothing'.

Both my aunts went on to have other children. I don't know if that was the point of recalling these memories at the time, because while sitting there on the most uncomfortable bed ever designed in that hospital room last year, ever having a family was the last thing on my mind (but everyone assumed it was). My mentor tried to comfort me on the phone a few months after Ronan died.

"You WILL have a family someday, Reese," he said.

"That's not the point," I practically whispered.

"I know.....I know...." he said softly.

This time last year, I didn't care if I ever had any children. I was just seething in pain. This time last year I told Peyton that I never wanted to be pregnant again, and I needed to know if he would stay with me if I decided I never wanted to be pregnant ever again. He didn't say "you are just feeling this way NOW," or anything to that effect. He said, with all the fiber in his being "yes, absolutely." And I knew that any doubts I had about Peyton as a spouse evaporated.

Whether or not I would want to be pregnant again was really a moot point. As Peyton has often said, it was really out of our control. As we were coming to grips with the idea of trying this again, she was already en route. A little beauty that looked like her big brother, who screamed at the top of her tiny lungs when Dr. T and Dr. C. pulled her from my womb after 36 hours of non-progressing labor.

Holding her for the first time, I knew we were supposed to be together. I knew that all that I experienced in the 9 months I carried her were worth it. What I don't know and will never know is if her being here is part of a higher plan.

Was there one?

Did I have to lose him to get her? Did I have to experience loss to appreciate my gain? Did Peyton and I have to be pushed to the brink in order to feel we should never be apart? Did I have to hold my dead son in order to be a better mother for my living daughter?

A year later and I still don't have the answers....and am ok with never knowing.

So what is the point of all of this? Why did I decide to break my silence after all of this time? Is it just ramblings of a sleep-deprived new mom encased in grief? Perhaps.

But, what I really just want to say is thanks.

For Ronan. For Radha. For letting me feel their tiny lives flutter inside of me. For letting me be their mother--even if one was for a brief 7 months. For Peyton and his unconditional and unwavering love. For giving me a path illuminated by women who are just surviving the day-to-day, for friends who stayed and friends who loved me from afar and said prayers. Thank you for the snoring of my faithful dog, my family who loved Ronan as much as the love Radha, and for the light that came to me in the hospital room last year when they took my son for the last time this time last year.

Because despite all the lingering questions, there is one thing I know for sure---when I need reassurance about my son, all I have to do is look to that light.

Love, Reese

I miss you, sweet boy. A year feels like a heartbeat and like an eternity.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Things we lost in the fire

The small glow from the bedside lamp illuminated the dark room for the 3rd time that night.

The girl is whimpering, I managed to catch her before she began to cry. I pull her out of her snuggle, wrapped tight like a little crazy girl in a straight jacket.

I unwrap her, like a great big gift, down to her little round belly, umbilical stump still hanging on, and her tiny diaper with Sesame Street characters on them. I change her, causing her to howl. Peyton stirs awake, puts on his glasses to prepare to do whatever he can to help with her feeding.

Her howls go down to whimpers and cooing, her blue-grey eyes searching my face as I bring her close to kiss her now round cheeks.

"It's ok, sweet girl. Are you hungry?" I whisper. She blinks slowly in response. I watch her latch on to my hugely disproportionate breast, her eyes wide with the task of drinking my milk that took its sweet time to arrive. I hear her swallow like the nice nurses at the lactation clinic have taught me to listen out for. In that moment, Peyton looks at me, rubs my back. I am tired, sleeping all of 4 hours a night if I am lucky.

We are content in that moment, but still feeling a great heaviness of what is missing. It is always there, overshadowing every moment.

Does it ever go away?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Radha






Radha and Ronan

When I was pregnant with Ronan we went through baby names again because when we found out he was a boy, the name we had originally picked out for him didn't seem that appropriate anymore. Peyton had the laptop open to a website that was explaining the meanings behind Irish baby names. He read the name "Ronan" out loud and proceeded to tell me the legend of the selkie. Children born to the Selkie are called Ronans, or 'little seals'. It was also legend that Ronan was a popular name for dark-haired children born to red-haired Irish couples. Since Peyton was a red-head, we decided that if the baby was born a brunette like me, he would be Ronan. If he was a red-head, he would be the other name we decided.

The fateful night at the hospital while we were waiting to be induced, Peyton and I were having the very emotional discussion about names. Everyone in DBL knows the ultimate hell of having to choose a name for your baby, and trying to decide if you will use a name that will not live on, but rather be buried with your dead child. Some people choose to rename the baby, to save the name for a living child. This especially happens if the name has family origins. I did not not feel this name should be saved, and neither did Peyton. We agreed Ronan was his name. And when Ronan was born, he was born a brunette and missing his thumbs and radial bones, causing his hands to fall at a perpendicular angle to his arms, looking like little fins.

Ronan, my little seal baby....

This past May I was in the pit. We had met with the perinatologist and she said that everything was a-ok to try again, Trisomy 18 was just a fluke occurrence. I was in a deep depression about how to proceed with our future plans to plan a family. How do you begin to even move on from something like this?

On a particular horrible night, I had a dream that I was sitting in a waiting room with my boss. A nurse walked in carrying a baby wrapped in pink. We both stood.

"She's not yours," the nurse told him. She handed the baby to me.

"She's yours," she said.

When I woke up, I had a sense of peace that I had not had in many months, and I knew that I was already pregnant and that the baby was a girl.

When we looked at baby names, we dug back through the Irish names again and found Radha (pronounced Row-ah) that meant 'a vision'.

And I knew that was going to be her name, because she came to me in a vision.....

Friday, January 9, 2009

I didn't know....




....that love could just find your broken heart, and blur the pieces together, trying to fuse together what was left there.

I was worried that Radha would be encased in the grief that found us around this time last year, but what I have found is that she is her own wonderfulness and joy. She looks at us like she knows our hearts, assures us that we all belong together, and whispers to us that those that went before us are still very much part of our family.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

She's Here!

Baby Radha (Row-ah) made her way into the world this morning at 9:49 am.

7lbs 5 ozs.....quiet beauty.....

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Term

My child is now term.

According to my Peri, she weighs almost 7.5 lbs.

According to the 3D ultrasound, she has my nose and chubby cheeks.

There is no furniture in the nursery yet, no rocking chair, no car seat bought. Yet.

I have washed the bag of clothes I have received from Craigslist and the few things people have bought us. A box of diapers, wipes, and Johnson's baby wash are hanging out in the near-empty room (with a saved receipt from Target).

Bassinet is in route, arriving via UPS Ground sometime this week.

I am having a 'surprise' baby shower at work on Tuesday.

Despite all of this, I am ready for her to come.

Please come safely, little one.....

Friday, January 2, 2009

Mental Breakdown #348,009

I crawled into bed last night and basically busted out crying. The family was here to celebrate Christmas with my bro and sis-in-law, and I was just in a far away place.

Please get here safely rang in my mind over and over again all night long, and when the lights finally went out last night, I just started to cry.

When I was in Nigeria as a babe of 22, I ended up on a road trip in the middle of the night, something they told us NEVER to do, lest you get robbed, beaten, raped and/or murdered at these impromptu check-points where the random insane Nigerian was perched with an AK-47.

The trip was not supposed to go this late. It was a 4 hour car trip that turned into a 8 hour trip in a rickety station wagon that was about to break down at any second. The final leg of the trip included a long, slow ride down this narrow, winding dirt path. You could not see 10 feet past the headlight beam on this path, and after 30 minutes on this road, I was convinced this was the most torturous trip of my life. You could not see your destination in the distance to gauge how much longer you had, you could not get off the path unless you wanted to sleep in the brush that surrounded the road, and you had no idea what awaited you once you got there. It was mental torture.

This fear that surrounds me now in dealing with the final stage of this pregnancy feels eerily like that path again. I am told there is a healthy baby awaiting me down this bumpy, dark road, but I can't see past where I am in the moment. I am told that if I am patient, I will reach my destination safely. However, no one can guarantee that there will not be a check point awaiting me the second I round the corner.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Antigone Has Won!

Antigone was one of the first blogs I read back in February when I was neck-deep in DBL, drowning.

Like a Phoenix rising, she has overcome more than just the traditional DBL insanity that we endure in order to try to bring a new life into this world.

I am thrilled to report that tonight she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

Welcome into this world sweet boy....

Congratulations sweet girl.....