Thursday, September 1, 2011
As a twig trembles, which a bird
Lights on to sing, then leaves unbent,
So is my memory thrilled and stirred;—
I only know she came and went.
How do I tell this story again, where do I begin...
On my birthday I went for an ultrasound, it was silly, and I was having one in a week but I paid a little extra to get a sneak-peek, to find out if she was really a girl, I couldn't think of any other birthday present that I would love as much. It would be the first time Noah got to see his little sister.
The technician found a problem right away and I could tell she was worried, she didn't want to send me off afraid, with nothing to hold onto, so she told me my little baby was a girl and I left the appointment knowing that everything had changed.
The following Monday my Obstetrician scanned me and asked me to see a perinatologist that same day. It was at this clinic that a doctor finally told me the truth, the sad, sad, news that my little girl was not going to be born. I was given choices, none of them good all of them with the same outcome.
Claire did not have amniotic fluid, she did not develop kidneys, and there was a zero percent chance she would survive outside of my body. My little mermaid was washed ashore, the ocean had gone and all she had was my beating heart keeping her alive.
I got a second opinion and I learned her little heart was failing. She would not live long inside me, there was nothing they could do. I wondered if she was afraid, if she felt pain, if she was suffering. I begged her to go to sleep, to find Stevie, to leave this place where she would never swim. She held on tight, and that night I felt her little kicks.
Two days later on August 25th, my other grandmothers birthday, I was induced and I delivered Claire into my hands. It was a long sad day, I woke up before the sun and as it set she arrived. My labor was 12 hours long, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong, was wrong and at one point thought I would die, and I welcomed it.
Then she was there, resting in the nest of my hands, I held her, kissed her, and told her how loved she was, how strong she was, and how sorry I was that I could not bring the ocean back. My tears spilled onto her cheeks as I memorized every detail of her perfect little body.
Her feet were long with graceful toes, the middle one just a little longer than the rest. Her hands so delicate, her little face round with a pouty upper lip and a pixie nose. She was small, mighty, beautiful, and she was my daughter.
(For those of you who could not wrap yourself around the idea that I was carrying a a baby that was not biologically mine let me assure you that biology is small, this little girl was my daughter, she was my child and my connection to her was strong and real, I knew her, I loved her.)
It is unreal, all of it, how can I be here again mourning the loss of a daughter? What kind of universe hands this to a person? What kind of God is so cruel? I spent some time here, thinking of all the reasons why this is unfair but no matter how angry I got nothing changed, I am here with this broken heart again, arms empty.
I then tried to make sense of it all...I told myself that Claire needed a place to grow and feel loved for 18 weeks, that was it, and she chose me, I chose her, 18 weeks was enough but it is all we were ever going to have. Being a mom means a lot of different things and even though I never got to nurse her to sleep or braid her hair I was still her mommy.
I am floating in a place between dream and waking...I am sleep walking through life right now, I have done it before. I will find things to distract me, projects that keep me so busy so I don't have time to cry. This is what I do, I survive.
I want to try again. It disturbs me a little that I can even think about it, that hope still lives in me...Love and pain sometimes they overlap, most times you can't have one without the other and always you must risk one to have the other.
I have learned some important things, they don't comfort me as much as they should but I have learned that birth and death are the same, that love is bigger than loss, that hope is bigger than fear and that nothing can destroy a mothers heart. I won't be crushed, I won't be destroyed, and I will push this boulder up this mountain again and again...because I must.
At night when the sky turns pink I walk around my neighborhood and I talk to my daughters in heaven. I try to access what ever hidden strength is left in me, I try to make plans, I try to believe in God, I try to understand that the universe has a plan for me and all I need to do is be still, just for a moment and wait for direction.
Claire, Claire, Claire...I wanted to be her mommy, I wanted her to sleep next to me, to smell her sweet breath, to hold her hand, to watch her grow. I miss her wiggling inside me, I miss planning, waiting and wondering what she would look like, if she would be born when the moon was full, the sound of her first cry...
I don't know what happens next, I just know that I am here in this moment and there will be a next and a next, where those moments lead is a mystery that offers hope to me even now when everything hurts.