Learning to Surrender
“Teach us to give and not count the cost.” (St. Ignatius of Loyola)
This past weekend I would have hit 38 weeks of gestation for your little brother. Through my whole pregnancy, I didn’t know how I would make it to that milestone, or how I would get through it, knowing you died after 38 weeks of a healthy pregnancy.
Today was to begin my maternity leave...a week at home prior to his May 7 induction, which would allow me time to grieve, prepare, and decompress from the past year.
He, however, came early and has been in my arms for the past 13 days (almost). He had to do a weight check last Friday, and he gained 8 ounces in three days and surpassed his 5 lbs 10 ounces birthweight. On Friday, he weighed 6 lbs. That means that right now, in my arms, he’s the same size as you upon your Delivery...and at what would be his 38th week of gestation.
It’s an eerie reality.
He still seems so small. How can he be your size? Perhaps it’s because he curls up and cuddles into the nape of my neck and chest, while you laid stretched out, unable to move.
I’m having so many flashbacks, but it took an entire week at home with him (after his NICU stay) before the tears, which had been brewing, to finally fall.
Last night while nursing him, he gave a slight resemblance to you, and I remembered staring down at your face in the hospital room in such disbelief. No matter how much I willed you to breathe or to move, no matter how much I begged God to change the outcome, I couldn’t change a thing. I was completely powerless.
The hospital room was so dark, and I entered into those early morning hours, seeing myself clinging on to you. I couldn’t put you down. I couldn’t sleep. I would doze, and startle, out of fear that you would fall out of my arms. That was the only time I had to hold you. How could it ever be enough?
“Has the baby been put back onto the cooler?” (WHAT? No. I forgot about the cuddle cot...). And then they took you to bathe you, take some photos, and chill you down before your brothers and sisters came to see you that morning. We wanted you to seem “life like” for them, and you were delivered at 11 pm the night before, so they had not seen you, yet.
I feel the hollowness again of you being removed from my arms...First the absence of your soul from my womb, then your body delivered from mine, and then your departure from my arms. I felt empty. Void. Desperate. I remember it all so clearly, and oh how it just stings.
As I care for your little brother, I’m reminded of EVERYTHING I lost with your death. Everything I do for him is a reminder of what I did not do for you. It’s a double edged sword, and reality is settling in thick.
It wasn’t all a dream. I lived the nightmare of still birth, the death and burial of a child, and have endured pregnancy after loss...all within the past 11 months.
Now that he is here, the blur of life is being displayed out before me, and it’s all so real that it suffocates me. The pain of your absence is just as it was when you were first gone. How can that be when your little brother is here with me?
Having him hasn’t made losing you any easier. It’s only made the longing more intense and increase the awareness that this is my life on earth...my baby died. YOU died. And I just long, my little love. I long for you so unbelievably much.
I’m watching it all again...life. It’s unfolding before me, and I have no choice but to surrender and wait.
As my tears for you fall on to your little brother’s swaddle, I rest him within my arms as I sit on our front bench, so I can feel close to you. I look at your picture before resting between nursing sessions, and I ask you to draw near. I whisper in your brother’s ear, asking him questions about you...Do you know her? What color are her eyes? (His seem to be brown like his brother’s, so perhaps your eyes are blue like your sister’s after all.)
I’m scared of May. It will be here tomorrow.
Stay close to me...I’m still learning. Still growing. Still grieving. Still breathing.
I love you, sweet girl. So very much.