In fairness to all the posts detailing the mental mayhem, our Friday appointment was blessedly peaceful. Hilamina started right off with deep practice breathing and we were done with our biophysical in 5 minutes or less. The NST showed her heart rate now in the low 140s (compared to low 120s Tuesday). Honestly. I still don’t think she’s showing all the accelerations at a 15 beat differential, but she’s apparently doing well enough to satisfy the doctor. One of my shorter appointments, at 45 minutes. Now we just need to keep doing that until Brad gets back from Scotland! (He leaves Thursday night, not to return ‘til Sunday June 10th. Ugh.)
So last Saturday Brad and I went to see one of our nieces perform in a dance recital. The recital was about 2 hours long with some 30+ performances by groups ranging in age from 3 to 18. Obviously, the 3 years olds stole the show. I think the whole thing opened with a group of girls maybe 6-8 years of age? Within 2 minutes tears were falling...we’ll never see Anna dance. Never see her on stage, never know if she would be the one stock still in stage fright or reveling in the limelight, the one who knows every move or the one who doesn’t take her eyes of her neighbor, always a half-beat behind. Several times during the course of the show tears came. I hope Hilamina will have the chance to dance. More accurately, I hope she lives and has the chance do everything Anna doesn’t. What hit home once again, sitting there imagining Hilamina up on stage, was that no matter what she gets to do, no matter what joy we’ll have in her every experience and funny comment and priceless moment...is that each one will be bittersweet for having missed them with Anna. I’d like to think that won’t always be true, that there can be purity in our delight in Hilamina - but it’s hard to imagine. We’ll see.
This week I was reading some other BLM posts, and came across this from “Hope, Interrupted”. This momma lost her firstborn son Otis in September 2010 and now has Owen, 8 months old. Her words so capture my anticipated feelings about this matter, I can’t help but post some of them here.
Having Owen here has brought an entirely new dimension to my understanding of what we lost when Otis died. It makes it so incredibly much harder. Every smile, every giggle, every milestone that Owen meets is one that we missed from Otis. Every "first" is a first that we should have done with Otis. The way my heart continues to stretch and grow in the enormity of love I feel for Owen - it kills me that I don't get to have that same stretch for Otis. I wrote it a while back - Owen grows and surprises and is ever changing. As is my love for him. Otis is frozen in time. Forever a newborn. Forever in that striped jammie set the hospital put him in. Forever with his head full of hair combed just so. With his arm draped across his body just so. The photographs have now almost become more real than he ever was. My love for him is still fierce, still all encompassing, and, sure, it grows and changes and evolves - but HE doesn't. And this kills me.
Since her post was inspired by a project another BLM put out there regarding writing “Where We Are Now” and comparing our journey to the year before, she then went on to talk about being “better”.
So it's interesting. In many ways I would say OF COURSE I am "better" here at 20 months than I was last year at 8 months. My day to day operations do not shout out "MY SON DIED!" ... I work part time, I raise Owen, I do not cry daily, probably not even weekly, I laugh...I giggle, I function.
But, this idea that "of course" I'm better, I can't say it with much conviction... I think I deluded myself into thinking (even though I logically knew otherwise and had also heard from enough blms on "the other side of the rainbow" that it wasn't going to magically make it all better) that somehow having a living baby to bring home would change it significantly.
And it has, yes. And it hasn't.
It's like my life has split yet again. There is now the me that operates as Owen's mama - full of love, fierce protective instincts, joy, even, dare I say it, a sense of peace. And then there is the me that is hidden away in a drawer, along with a lock of the finest, most lush, beautiful brown baby hair that I will ever touch. In a box, tied with a bow, along with prints of handprints and footprints ... (I was unable to take Owen's hand and footprints when he was born because doing so reminded me too much of Otis. It felt like a betrayal to take them of my living, breathing baby - when that is all Otis could give me, and Owen will be giving me mementos for (hopefully) many many many years to come.) I have yet to be able to reconcile these two mamas into one.
That’s how it feels, already. In the anticipation of this living baby, it’s hard to reconcile both worlds - the living and the dead and being a Mom to both. Anna’s absence makes her no less wanted, no less loved, no less thought about. Her lock of hair, ashes, “mementos”, the cards we received when she died and on her birthdays...the 99 pictures we have of her (so many looking so similar)...they are sacred. The most Real she will ever be, the physical proof that she existed and was important. Frozen in time, forever a newborn. (Much as Emily will always be 1 month old to us, despite the fact she turns one on Wednesday.) I think that’s what hurts already - doing things to make Hilamina’s life special and happy and feeling guilty I can’t do more for Anna.
How I wish we could do the same for Anna.