The Year I Missed Fall

This summer isn’t much different than one I had several summers ago.  I was alone much of the time while Jared worked.  I  had some arty stuff going on from time to time.

That summer, I was pregnant with my….um, how should I put it? I don’t consider Porter my first child because there was one before him, one that didn’t make it past its first trimester.  I know what it is to lose a child.  That is not this story, though.

Anyway, that summer I felt like utter sh*t.  My tummy balled into hard knots constantly.  We took a trip up into the mountains of Colorado when I was nearly five months pregnant.  Hard, rock trails were physically uncomfortable in the Jeep necessary to climb narrow, dangerous trails.  But, I did it because I felt it was my duty as family to do so.

Somewhere after that trip, we discovered that the balling-into-knots feeling in my tummy was actually productive contractions.  Nearly two months later, I gave birth a month and a half early.  There’s a video somewhere of Porter.  On the surface, it looks like a cute newborn yawning a lot.  He was yawning, though, because he couldn’t get enough oxygen.  His little lungs were only half-baked and his nervous system wasn’t done.

We were in the middle-of-nowhere Iowa.  Jared’s family was closer than mine.  I reached out to his friends and family.  I got “I’m sorry’s” and “I’m not your pastor’s” and “I’m four months pregnant…my doctor has advised me not to travel even though nothing’s wrong.”  Our parents came the first week.  No one else visited.  My aunt e-mailed but no one called.

We were alone with a baby we didn’t know would live.

I grew detached from the baby.  I’d show up at the hospital in time to make sure he was fed, but I started spending less and less time there, much like I imagine a mother cub does when she thinks her baby cub won’t live.  I honestly felt like the child would die.  I’d already lost one…God had a lot of proving to do to me to show this one would live.  Thus far, it hadn’t looked promising.

The alarms would go off.  The baby’s heart rate would break in half and his little oxygen levels would drop to half their normal levels.  And those levels would stay that way until someone shook him ever-so-slightly on his little belly.  We had to remind him to take a breath.  He wouldn’t do it unless we touched him.  Even now, I can hear those d**med alarms.  Even this minute, I feel the incessant desperation of the loneliness; the pure, unadulterated terror of the waiting for that baby to someday be fine or die, one.

Alone.  We waited alone.  We watched him, alone.  We loved him, alone.

I want to be a bigger person.  I want to tell those people who hurt us, who could have come but chose not to, I want to tell them that it’s okay.  I want to tell them I’ve forgiven them.

I can send baby presents.  I can “like” Facebook statuses.  I can be happy that other people are happy.  But I cannot share my husband’s elation for his friends and family as they welcome little ones without an inkling of the H*ll we went through with Porter.  Or how alone we felt during that time.

I was that mother cub, who once upon a time, was ready to say goodbye to a second baby.  I actually read the section of the Neonatal Intensive Care parent manual on abandonment and what would happen both to me and the baby should I choose to relinquish custody.  I read those things and I prepared for all possibilities because that baby had been a part of my body once upon a time and I felt his little struggle for life to the depth of my bones.  It hurt so much that, to this day, as I write this, I cannot hold the tears back because that wound is a wound that may never heal.  You simply cannot know what it is like to have a child who may not live, a child who may be on the brink of death at any second, unless you have been there.

I have been there.  Alone.  I was in that Purgatory for five weeks.  Alone.

The terror is something that even Jared and I don’t share because there are some things only a mother can feel for her child.  But I can tell you, it sure would have been a little easier on me if there had been more presence and less “I’m sorry’s” on the part of people we love, people we thought loved us.

So forgive me if I send regrets along with a gift to baby showers sometimes.  Please overlook it if I  don’t call or comment on a wonderful status update.  There’s only one person I don’t love in this world and the folks reading this can be assured that that person isn’t you.  (Unless, of course, we met when you were in law school. If that’s you, well…go to Hades.)  My lack of elation isn’t because I don’t truly share in my friends’ happiness or because I don’t love them. My distance is because I have open wounds when it comes to babies and my new mother experience.   I was never a glowing one and I can only be comfortable around a select few new babies and new mommies.

A new mother should be surrounded with love and protection and care and plenty of visitors to ooh and ahh over the new baby.  Even when Liam was born, I didn’t have that experience.  So, please forgive me my bitterness.

 

I’m working on getting past the wounds.  It’s a process.  Today, I got affirmation that the wounds are still fresh.

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