On Your Birthday...
posted 9th Oct
Dear Baby Boy--
Happy birthday. Almost. Tonight is the one year anniversary of the last night I had hope in any decent quantity. The last night I thought I might get to bring you home happy and healthy. After that night, I spent the last two days of my pregnancy terrified, panicked, and trying to make sense of the sudden change in circumstances and slowly learning that you couldn't stay inside me any longer and that you wouldn't survive outside of me either.
I wish you were here with me. I wish I could hold you in my arms and nurse you to sleep and lay you in your crib and turn on the sound machine and I wish I were laying here in my bed worrying about how you'd sleep and if you were going to make it all the way though the night. I wish you were crawling around and picking up crumbs off the floor. I wish you were slobbering on all of your brother's toys and itching to be a big boy and take over the house. I wish you were babbling your first words at me from a high-chair as you beg for more food (and faster!). I wish you were laying on the couch making out with the dog like your brother did at a year old, even though I did NOT approve of this behavior. I wish I were giving you bubble baths with your brother and watching him teach you ALL about the whales and dolphins and sharks floating around you both in the treacherous bathtub seas. I wish you were here to ride in the stroller and slowly melt into sleep as your brother pushed you around the block on our evening walk. I wish you were here to sleep snuggled next to him in his big boy bed, just because you love to snuggle. I wish you were here to leap head-first off the couch just because it seemed like fun at the time. I wish you were here to pick up all of your brother's bad habits. I wish you were here to make me crazy. I wish you were here to make me wonder what I was thinking having two boys! I wish you were here. Period.
If you were here, I'd be baking a cake and mixing icing to find just the right colors. I'd be helping you practice blowing so you could blow out your first birthday candle on your own. I'd be wrapping presents and counting plates and cups and napkins. I'd be double checking the RSVP list for your party. I'd be charging my camera battery. I'd be double checking the grocery list. I'd be washing diapers and cleaning the house top-to-bottom for the arrival of guests. I'd be making a slideshow of all the 1000s of pictures I'd taken of you over the months so everyone could see how you've grown and watch your adventures. I'd be sitting here tearing up over how much you've grown and how far you've come and be thinking, "How did my baby get so BIG?!?"
Instead, I'm laying here alone. Wishing I could hold you one more time. Wishing I could kiss those tiny lips just one last time. Wishing I could relive that hour over and over and over so that I would never forget a single detail of the swirls of hair on your tiny head or the fingernails on your fingers. So I'd never ever ever forget how much I loved your huge feet. So I'd never forget that you had a perfect miniature replica of my nose (and your brother's). So I'd never forget those few minutes I got to hold you in my arms and pray that things could be different for you. For us. Because little boys need their mamas. And mamas are never complete without their little men to take care of.
A year ago, just hours before my labor began, I couldn't imagine a world without you in it. I've been living in that world for 363 days now and it is an awful place. Absolutely awful. You would have made the world so much better, just by being you. You were sweet, but mischievous. You were quieter than your brother (thank goodness!). You never threw wild parties in my belly like he did, but you would roll and kick and stretch out those little legs of yours. Sometimes you'd stop moving just long enough to make me begin to wonder and as soon as I'd break out the doppler you'd run away from it and spend the next few moments beating it silly instead of letting me hear your heartbeat---this habit of yours ultimately got me one last ultrasound glimpse of you in the hospital because the doctor wanted to get your heart-rate for the chart but you were having NONE of it and just happily beat up the Doppler. You liked to toy with us that way. You loved to kick your brother when he kissed you. You liked to beat up Daddy while he slept. You HATED it if Mama squished you with tight clothes or by laying on her tummy. You loved to dig your teeny toes down as low as you could to make Mama uncomfortable. You took almost an hour to show us the goods at the anatomy scan---you waited until we were about to give up and then spread them wide and proud to show off your little manhood. You took your sweet time about things and didn't rush. You were laid back. You were perfect. And I want so much to know who you would have become. Surely not the wild take-no-prisoners toddler your brother is. You'd have been different. The perfect foil for his crazy antics.
He would have been SUCH a good big brother to you. He would have loved you to the ends of the Earth. He still talks about you every single day. He still carries his "Brother" doll around and sleeps with it every single night. He knows that you were in Mama's tummy and that you came out and you were too small, so you died. He misses you. He remembers how cute you were and how small. He remembers playing with you and talking to you and kissing you. He remembers those weeks you were growing in my belly. He remembers being there when you were born and holding you and kissing your face and he remembers that you had a weenie (he was very impressed with your toes too!). He knows you were sick and hurting and he still cries for you sometimes. He wishes he could see you. He wants to play with you so much. He calls all of the baby things yours. Even his old hand me downs are yours in his mind. Your blankets, your crib, your clothes, your swing. And he's very protective of your things. Just like he protects that doll. He brushes his teeth with it. He plays with it---and it breaks my heart every time. He pretends that you ARE that doll and that he's playing with YOU. And he tells me all the time what you like, what you feel, what you want. And I wish so much that I could bring you back and let him have his BROTHER. That doll has learned to play so many games and do so many big-boy things that I can only imagine what he would teach you and do with you if you were here with us. It would be amazing to watch and it is one of the parts of losing you that makes my heart ache the most. I may not deserve the amazing gift to be a mother again. I know I'm not perfect. But that little boy deserves to have his brother. And YOU deserve to have your big brother and to LIVE and grow and be. None of us deserved what happened to you.
And your Daddy doesn't talk about it much. He feels guilty. When he talks about you, it usually starts with somethign having to do with how we could have changed what happened. How we could have fixed it. How things could have been different. How to prevent it from happening again. I know he loved you and misses you as much as any of us, but he is quiet. I think he hides it because he knows that the pain is so raw and clawing for me that he feels like he must be strong because talking about you makes us both hurt more for a little while. Its easier for him to deal with the medical facts than with YOU sometimes, so he thinks of it clinically. When he does let himself feel, he's angry. Very very angry. But he cries for you too. He nearly had a mental breakdown for months after you were born. He had migraines and health issues from all of it. At your funeral, he lost it completely, sobbing while thanking his Marines and friends for coming and supporting us and while telling them about how amazing you were. He loves you so very much. And I know he talks to you, just as I do. So listen to his advice. He's pretty good at it. He is your Daddy, afterall.
I feel guilty too. My body failed you. You were perfect and my body wasn't strong enough to keep you in. I wasn't adamant enough to demand tests when I thought something was wrong---I let myself be pacified by a doctor telling me I was just paranoid (because I wanted to be just paranoid. I didn't want to be right). I wasn't mart enough to go to a better hospital so that I wouldn't have to fight for a transfer that never came. I didn't do my job and protect you like I should have. I'm sorry. So sorry. I will carry that forever and hope that someday I can make it up to you and show you how much I truly do love and miss you.
I wish things could be different, little one. I ache to have you here with me. Instead, you're in a box on my dresser just below a collage of photos of us all together the day you were born. Next to that box, there is an album of HUNDREDS of photos taken of you in your few short minutes of life and when we held you the day they cremated you. I wish there were thousands more. Hundreds of thousands. I'd walk across the desert without a drop of water for one more minute with you, my love. One more chance to touch your face and let you know how very loved you are and how missed. You will never be forgotten. Not for one minute. Never. You will always be a part of our family and we will always have a place for you in our hearts. We even have a tiny pumpkin for you in our Pumpkin Family that we do on the porch every year with your initial on it. Your photos hang on our walls. We talk about you and the pregnancy with you, the labor, and our few moments with you, just as much as we talk about the pregnancy, birth, and first days with your brother. We only wish we could have gotten to know you better and that you could have known just how much we truly love you with all that we are.
So, happy almost birthday, little one. I wish you were here to celebrate with us. But, don't worry, we'll have cake for you and a little 3 person party. You're welcome to blow out your candle if you want. Your brother said he'd help. And that you need dinosaur cupcakes for your party. Its going to be a pretty big deal around here. Wish you could come.
I love you. So much.
posted 9th Oct
i just had to wipe the river of tears off my laptop..
Happy Birthday Deagan!
I wouldnt be suprised, if when Ax plays with his doll, that he really is playing with Deagan, he could be there in spirit and probably is. Hugs, P!