11 Months (Revisiting)
“Suffering that is nourished by the flame of faith becomes something beautiful.” (St. Pier Georgio Frasatti)
I’m a day late, my love. Yesterday, it was 11 months. How have we happened upon one month shy of a full year?
I know I haven’t written in a while, but so much has been moving and churning within the depths of my heart. It’s almost been too much to articulate amidst the exhaustion of daily life, grief, and pregnancy after loss. However, I think you know. You’ve witnessed it all.
Eleven months ago, my world came crashing down when I received the most unimaginable news of my life...your heart had stopped beating just two weeks shy of your expected due date.
Over the past month and a half, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit those places and memories both physically and tangibly. My anxiety over your little brother’s well being ushered me to the hospital for monitoring many times. I was desperate for peace and for answers and for security.
My eyes would blur with thoughts of despair, and I would be overcome with fear and worry. My mind would play tricks on me, and I would fall into a dark pit of doubt.
Recalling the first trip to the Labor and Delivery floor after your death...
Your little brother had been having a sleepy day, and by the time the afternoon rolled around, I was paralyzed in my bed. I was thinking about the circumstances and events surrounding me losing you, and I wanted to go to the hospital to be monitored for him, but I was terrified. How could I go back to Labor & Delivery to check on another baby, when the last time I did that, I found out your heart had stopped beating? I knew your brother was alive, but I feared something might be wrong.
I literally could not move. Panic set in as the tears continued to rush down. I felt as though I was in a tunnel and could not see anything but death.
Your Daddy stirred me to rise. I told him over and over that I didn’t think I could do it. How could I go back? He continuously assured me that this would be different.
I finally got out of bed, and we left to bring your brothers and sisters to your grandparents. The drive was quiet. They were concerned, too.
I often forget how much losing you has affected them. How much weight is resting on their shoulders? How much expectation and hope was there for them as they anticipated your little brother’s arrival?
I just kept trying to breathe. I couldn’t think. I felt so much.
We arrived at the hospital and took the elevator to the waiting room of the Labor & Delivery floor. The last time I was in that elevator I was in a wheel chair without you. My deflated skin hung loosely over the waist line of my pants, as my empty arms lay bare and exposed. My disheveled hair and swollen, somber face stared downward as my tears flowed freely for all to see. I felt so much shame, sorrow, and heartbreak. I felt so much disbelief. I had just left you behind...in a bare cot, with a swaddling blanket placed over your cold and lifeless body.
As the doors of the elevator opened, I was jolted from my memories and back to the present moment. Could I take a step? Could I walk forward? What power would will my body to keep moving?
I wanted to suffocate. I remembered...I relived...I saw that broken woman being pushed down the waiting room hallway. I saw all that was lost. My eyes ran hot, and I couldn’t get to the bathroom soon enough to allow myself to feel and fall apart. I cried so unbelievably hard. I hated that hallway. I hated the fact that I was there again. Knowing I needed to step out and face why we were there forced me to move.
Your Daddy and I then stood before the double doors where all became a blur of emotions and confusion eleven months ago.
We walked through the halls and arrived at the nurse’s station. We signed in at the desk and filled out paperwork. They took my driver’s license, insurance card, and asked for my social security number. I didn’t remember this from the first time. Then a nurse walked us down the winding hallway to an examination room. I moved so slowly, trying to take it all in. The walk felt so long this time. How could so much have been erased from my memory?
Then we passed the room that I was certain was your room. Room 221. The place I cried endless tears, delivered your lifeless body, held you for the only time, and left you behind. The place where people came and prayed and stood in utter confusion, wordless, over the events that had taken place over the last twelve hours. The place we had to break your sibling’s hearts when we had to tell them your heart had stopped beating, and we didn’t know why.
That dark day, the nursing staff had been so kind to place me away from all the other mothers who were making happy memories. They kept me away from the noise and the sounds of crying babies. Your room was set apart.
I remember, however, looking back at the door when they wheeled me out the next day....eleven months ago today. Upon returning, I knew that was your room. I wanted to go in so badly.
My mind transitioned back to the present as we were led into an examination room. How are we still walking? Am I just moving in slow motion?
I was asked to remove my clothing and to put on a hospital gown. This was also different. For you, the nurse just placed the fetal heart monitor on my belly. After moments of silence, she tried the Doppler. After more silence, we did an ultrasound. I knew you were gone. This time, as soon as the fetal heart monitor was strapped on to me, I heard your brother’s heart beating steadily and strong. A rush of emotions flooded over me...gratitude, relief, and sadness that I didn’t hear the sound of your heartbeat that day 11 months ago.
I laid in the bed, hooked up to the monitor, listening to your little brother so full of life, and cried an ocean of tears as my mind recalled visions buried deep from that dark day when your life was no more.
And I did that many more times, even to most recently as a week ago yesterday.
Then, seven days ago, I unexpectedly went into labor three and half weeks early for your little brother. (I will write about that day and the days following another time soon.) And yesterday, after a short, but feeling almost endless six days of surrender and absence of sleep, your little brother came home. Eleven months to the day from your death, new life entered into the walls of our home.
I know it to be no coincidence. He came home on a Sunday in Easter. You died on a Sunday in Easter. I waited six days from your death to your funeral. I waited six days from his birth to his homecoming. Your presence saturated every moment, and I experienced you so tangibly in ways that I have not yet, felt.
Eleven months later...a new baby in my arms, filling my heart and our home with hope, who rests on my bare chest, kangarooed tightly to me, as I type these very words. His chest rising. Breath being released from his lungs. His arms and limbs squirming outside of my skin, no longer confined within. His small voice releasing grunts and cries for his momma.
Eleven months later, a little boy is here, because you are not. And I’m trying to take it all in, comprehend this past year through my exhaustion and lack of sleep, and I can’t believe what I have lived, endured, survived, and continue to walk toward...a new day. A new dawning. A new beginning. A new life.
My tears scarcely fell yesterday; but, oh, how I missed you, so. And still do. As I hold him, I stare at your picture, wishing I had BOTH of you. I don’t understand. I may never. But I know his presence will bring healing. And I know you are a part of him, too.
I love you, my sweet girl. Always. FOREVER.