Anna would have experienced her first snow today. We woke up to a world of white and got about 5 inches all at once. She would have noticed. There would have been video and pictures and Memories. She might have just stood there completely unfazed. Or looked at us like we’re crazy for bringing her outside in the cold with a “Why are we doing this again?” expression. Or maybe she would have looked around in wonder and spluttered as snowflakes landed on her face. Maybe she would have grabbed handfuls and giggled after plopping down in it on her bottom because she’s not sturdy enough yet to stand for long. I wonder which. I wonder what she’d look like now. Curls in that dark hair? Eyes just like her Daddy’s? A chub or still delicate? His personality or mine? I wonder what kind of cake I’d be planning for her birthday. Probably cupcakes, for Year #1. I wonder how much more in love with her we’d be for all her nuances and quirks and moments of the last 11 months. I wonder if we’d have any idea what we were in for with her by now.
I haven’t written here much lately even though as I said a couple entries back, I think about it almost every day. Some of you have seen that the Adoption Site is up and running. It’s not ‘ready to launch’ yet, but close. We’ve realized that our last name is included in the website URL, which is a big no-no. We have to see if we can get that fixed before blanketing the nation! It seems that every second I’m not working or maintaining the household at some level, I’m working on that site or our new homestudy or something else related to getting us a damn family. It’s exhausting. Appointments, research, planning,paperwork. The kind of paperwork that involves serious mental investment. Writing for unknown potential birthparents and the people that know or love them, writing to represent who we are as individuals and a couple, writing for social workers, repetitive personal information for the plethora of forms required by our new adoption agency. I don’t have the energy left to write here too.
Except that in focusing so much on getting to where we want to go, I’m not spending time accepting where we are, not grieving Anna. And it’s coming back to bite me, just like the ‘experts’ say it will. There have been more tears more often the last several weeks, not a time I’m alone in the car that they don’t spring up anymore. But no full-on letdowns of more than a minute, until Monday. It feels like the pressure has been building and I wasn’t consciously aware. Or maybe didn’t want to be. Monday afternoon at the end of my work day I answered an email that started me crying, and I found I couldn’t stop. Brad and I went to support group that night, cried most of the way through it. (The woman who runs the group lost her full-term daughter 28 years before to the day. She’d fallen apart Monday herself. It’s true, it never goes away, and I still don’t know how to process seeing our ‘leader’ and mentor-of-grief be one of us struggling.) Anyway, we came home, I cried with Brad some more, realized I need to talk with his family about Anna in small groups or I’ll never make the holidays together, and finally admitted that I just need to go in her room and sob. He came with me. There’s nothing particularly significant about all that, certainly it’s happened in similar ways before. But there was something different about Monday. Remember one of the early blog posts entitled “Icebergs”? When I said on the night she died “it was as if every dream, hope, wish, expectation and desire we ever had surrounding her got wrapped up in an enormous, billowing transparent material that wound quickly around us. As the hours went by, its space transformed into a solid mass. Immense. An iceberg. As that iceberg slowly thaws, pieces of those dreams and expectations are exposed. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to their order, nor to their depth within the berg itself.”? Well. Turns out that was an apt description. Except I didn’t say that the night itself was splintered and frozen the same way. I never cried that night, not from the moment we learned her heart rate had dropped in the labor room until we gave her up the next day. Never even came close. I remember many pieces of those 16-18 hours vividly and think about them still, all the time. We know that she lived for 38 weeks before that, but if feels like her whole life is all in that night. I hope that someday we’ll focus on her Life instead of her death. We’ll see.
Anyway. Things got quieter after a several minutes of letting out all that had been pent up. But then, literally as if rising up in smoke from a deep dark place, a specific section of our night with Anna began swirling in my head. One I’m very, very familiar with. But this time all the emotion that was not expressed back then came too. Before I knew it I was gagging, moaning, screaming or whatever that horrible sound is that comes from the human psyche experiencing something unthinkable. They were wheeling me out of the OR on the gurney to the special care nursery to see Anna for the first time. Brad was somewhere near me, but I couldn’t tell you where. I couldn’t tell you the layout of the nursery except there was a hallway of sorts with bassinets on either side. I don’t remember seeing her directly, but I knew Anna was at the far end and many people were down there surrounding her, waiting for us. What I did see, with perfect clarity, was the live baby on my left. Under a light, wiggling, fussing, chubby for a newborn, a boy. Something must have been going on with him or he wouldn’t have been in the special care nursery, maybe just jaundice, maybe something more. But he would clearly live. His parents were standing to the left of his bassinet. I might have looked at their faces for an instant, maybe not, but I know that their expressions were a terrible mix of horror, fear and discomfort. How much of it was for their own situation or ours, I don’t know. But there was no doubt whatsoever that they knew they were witnessing every parent’s worse nightmare. It was like a bad accident they got stuck in and couldn’t stop watching. I could feel their emotions and hated it, didn’t want them, didn’t want to be this person that warranted them. I believe the look on my face was blank, the same as it was in all our pictures with Anna. But I remember thinking in some thin distant but familiar voice “that baby is alive. The one I’m about to see, mine, MINE, will be still. Quiet. I will never, never... never see her move like that baby” and “Those people get to take their baby home. We will go home alone”. I can see that baby better than Anna in my mind. I ‘see’ Anna only from the pictures I have, not from any clear personal memory from inside of me. I do remember her right arm as I was lying on that gurney, the Mr Magoo doctor that they called in from the U of M lifting it and letting it drop to prove to me that she was gone, as if I needed proof, as if seeing her lifeless would help me accept it. He kept doing little tests and looking at me afterwards, “See? Nothing.” God, I resented him for that. Don’t do that. I know. I knew. Don’t show me how she’s nothing like she should be right now. How she’s nothing like that baby that I can still see, just 10 feet away (or was it 50? Some mental snapshots are so clear, others so distorted.)
It was those few seconds, passing that baby and his parents, knowing that I was heading towards my reality and couldn’t do anything to stop or change it, that surfaced Monday night. All the emotions one would expect, coming without warning or explanation. Why now, who knows. Why that particular memory, who knows. Apparently the iceberg is in fact melting. I believe that finally experiencing those emotions is probably healthy, probably even necessary. And I admit there was been a sense of lightness in the following days. But I wonder what is coming next, and when. There is both holding my breath for the time bomb and a desire to get it over with. But clearly there is no control over such things. Funny how we are taught we can control so much of our lives when in fact the most important things are out of our control entirely.