Monday, March 28, 2016

Dear Baby,

It has been a full trimester since I lost you. The same length of time that I carried you. Three months, I spent my days thinking of you - who you'd be, if you'd have curly-blonde hair like your sister, green eyes like your dad, would you be the son we hoped for or the little sister I secretly wished for Estlin? What name would we give you? What day would you make your way into this world?
Now, these questions will remain without answers. And I have spent these last three months since then, what should have been your second trimester, carrying the weight of this desire to know a face that never even formed. A desire to hold a hand that had yet to grow fingers, knowing there would be no skin to caress, no hair on your head to sniff sweetly. No identity to name. I need to cry a name out loud to give you existence, but you will forever remain nameless, faceless, voiceless. I simply have no memory of you to hold onto. If your own mother can't remember you, who will?
You did exist, though. I know you did. I grew you for 9 weeks before something inside me, without my knowledge or permission, decided you were no longer worth growing. It took another three weeks or so before my body informed me of this decision it had made, with the tiniest specks of blood on tissue paper. But I had very much wanted you, Little Nameless One. I wanted to see my belly grow big again, feeling all the kicks and stretches from your ever lengthening legs and arms. I wanted to birth you in my summer skin, walk your newborn self along the promenade on the days the sun beats down against the water and its rays bounce off the rocks and waves and sand and everyone is basking in it (because summer days like this are rare here, Little One). And they would all coo and ahh at you, little thing all wrapped up warm on a July afternoon, getting your tiny lungs full of ocean air. I wanted to spend sunny mornings in the back garden watching your sister splash in the paddling pool and knock castles over in her sand pit, nursing you in the shade, hearing your coos mingle with birdsong. I wanted to take you for twilight walks down the glen, tucked away in the carrier wrapped tight around me, holding hands with your Dad, watching your sister skipping rocks into the river.
Instead, you'll always be my winter song, cold and grey and stormy, slowing emptying yourself from me on Christmas Day and then rushing out all at once the next morning, nearly taking your mother's life with you. Did you think that I should not exist if you were to be denied life also? foolish of had no conscious thought yet. In those moments, sitting there, losing you and everything else my body had made to grow you, watching my husband cleaning blood from the bathroom and hallway floor, drifting in and out of consciousness, I truly did think I was going with you. I thought I was dying too.
But I didn't. I lived. But with a bloated belly empty of its child and a head so full of the fear of dying, there was no room yet for sadness and tears. My heart was on hold from feeling because the emotions were too big, too important to fit inside my healing body. I hated that. I wanted to cry for you, for me, for our family that would stay just three a while longer, for the path I was on path that was so abruptly and violently cut off. I wanted to cry for everything you could have been and everything I'd never know about you. I wanted to cry for my inability to form you correctly or grow you into your whole self. But no tears came. It was all too foreign a grief. This desire to mourn someone I never knew...someone I will never know.
Now the tears come all too easily. Watching your older sister dance around the kitchen with her Daddy, hearing how quickly he can elicit a laugh from her lips. And I cry because I'll never hear the sweet sound of your laugh. I cried buckets of tears hearing my sister chat about all the details of the gender reveal party they had for their third baby. I cried because I will never know your gender. I cried packing away the maternity clothes I had just been given. I cried when I found a dinner recipe written next to our list of baby names. I cried watching a character on a television show being wheeled into theatre for surgery, flashing back to my own fear of going under and not coming back and never seeing Estlin again. I cried when I never heard back from the hospital, knowing your barely formed body had not been found when I was in surgery. I cried realizing I probably flushed you down the toilet. How could I, Precious Child? Shouldn't I have known? Or felt you? Or seen you in all that red?
For weeks, I'd feel phantom flutters in my belly and I'd forget for the briefest of moments, only to immediately remember. I saw my sister's bellies swelling and solid, a constant reminder of you. Did you know we were all expecting together? Of course you didn't, but you were to be born within two months of one cousin and one month of another. Wouldn't that have been lovely, Baby? But now you are stuck forever in a Christmas day, in a December that held so much happiness and excitement, all ripped away from us the day before we watched your sister open gifts. The shock of it all lost in fairy lights and lit fires, crumpled wrapping paper and the smell of dinner roasting, and in too many glasses of wine. The shock of a body in labour right before the end of the first trimester, a feeling I will never shake.
I want to keep you there, Baby, in my Christmas memories. But you seem to follow me everywhere now. And I can't seem to remember what i was like before you came and went. And I can't seem to figure out what steps to take to move on. I guess I don't want to move on, though. How can I move on from the loss of my own child, when I have nothing to remember you by? What is there to hold onto? I close my eyes and I can't see your face, I never even saw the outline of your body in the grainy black and white of an ultrasound screen. I never had anything of you and neither did anyone else, so maybe that's why I can't let go, because if I do, you'll be forgotten forever, nothing on this Earth to show as a legacy or a life lived. But you did live. You lived inside me, even if it was such a short time, and there will be tiny parts of you, Little One, your cells and DNA, that will forever travel through my veins and encircle my heart. Perhaps that is why I still feel you so close, because you will always be within me. Perhaps I trapped your soul inside my own and the self you never formed will haunt me until I die. That's okay, Baby. I'm okay with that. You'll be safe there.
So, My Sweet Thing, I hope you knew how much I loved you. I hope you can find the corner of my heart that will always hold a space for your little cells to rest within. I hope you can hear the laugh of your big sister who would have played with you and protected you. I hope you can feel the arms of your Daddy when they are wrapped tightly around me and know how much he would have loved to hold you. I hope you'll be okay with us trying to conceive again, our third child, as you will always be our second and never replaced.
When I was pregnant with your sister, I used to read her poetry written by her namesake. I always found comfort in the words he wrote, words I could never quite find myself, but spoke so deeply to me, as if they were my own. And now, the words that have followed me my whole life, finding meaning in so many moments, have taken shape again, filling the space where you should be...

...i carry your heart with me
i am never without it
anywhere i go, you go my dear
i carry your heart
i carry it in my heart...

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