(After losing Iris, I joined an online grief writing course in March of 2016. For 30 days, I received an emailed prompt and could write and share it with other people enrolled in the course. As the 30 days ended, I realized how much I needed the prompts to give me some inspiration and direction, so I set about to create my own from quotes and other sources. I ended up with more than 200 prompts. I wrote here, and privately. Read More
When Autumn was born, suddenly there were echoes of her sisters surrounding me. Close parallels, repetitions, deja vus of the last two times I gave birth, with an intensely different outcome. Or is Autumn the echo of those experiences?
My body bleeds, shedding the remains of my uterus. It was torture to endure the physical postpartum symptoms, for weeks, with no baby at home. My heart was bleeding simultaneously, shredded and lying in raw pieces. Now I look at the physical aspect of postpartum and remember with pain the last two times I had to endure this. The last time my body went through the ritual cleansing after having released a baby.
My body lactates, the echo of when my body purposefully produced milk and I had no babies. Swollen and painful and frantically trying to suppress milk with sage and frozen cabbage leaves. Now I welcome the milk’s nourishment, but cannot forget those moments spent in the shower, trying to hand express milk to reduce engorgement, crying over the unfairness of lactating when I had no baby.
There are cards received in the mail. Meals delivered. Twice in sumpathy, once in congratulations but that’s what people do: they send cards and food.
I set up the nursery today. I had set up a nursery for Nelle. Same dresser. There were clothes that I unpacked, clothes that had been gifts for Nelle. Tags still on them. Unworn. A reversal of when those clothes had to be packed up and put away. That room was supposed to be Nelle’s nursery. Then Iris’s nursery. Now Autumn’s nursery.
There were stuffed animals, also gifts, that felt even more personally like they belonged to Nelle. One was a pink Ugly Doll. Each pregnancy, I bought my baby an Ugly Doll. Theo has one. Quentin had one. Nelle had one. There was also a stuffed dog, an early gift from someone; I can’t even remember. Do they belong to Nelle? Or do they belong to Autumn? Tears stung my eyes as those items came to light after so long in storage. It was such a strong emotional reaction to what those clothes meant and who they were for. They were not for Autumn. They were for Nelle. They should have been worn before now: hand-me-downs instead of tags intact.
And now there are photos. The only photos that all three share are ultrasound photos. Now Autumn is here and I take dozens of pictures every day, trying to capture every tiny facial expression and movement of the baby in front of me. I have already replaced the framed ultrasound photo with a newborn picture of her sleeping. She is so much more than an echo: she is a manifestation of her sisters, giving me a face where I previously could not picture my babies.
And just like that, she was born. Autumn Nadine Taws. It was the moment I hardly dared to picture.
Someone I love wrote to me earlier this week: “When your new one is safely in your arms, you will know that you have been on a hero’s journey and have touched shore.” And what a long journey it has been.
After two losses, it agonizing to decide whether or not to continue along the path to a third child, but we did, and now she’s here, nearly two years after we were forced down a route that we could not imagine. She is my “chance” baby, taking a chance, a third chance at a third child. Baby Three.
Her middle name, Nadine, means “hope.” It was that hope that got us to this place. Holding our baby.
One day more. Another day another destiny.
-from ‘Les Miserables’
I don’t have much to say, on the eve of my c-section. I heard Quentin yell from his room this morning “ONE MORE DAY!” One more day of kick counts. One more day of injections. One more night of anxiety-related non-sleep. By this time tomorrow, we will already be at the hospital.
I have had prompts planned out for myself for months, to help keep me writing, now down to the last one. Below are some lines I’ve compiled over the past few weeks.
Let the world stop spinning
Let me hold hope for a quiet minute
And shake dusty anticipation from my hair
How did I arrive in this place?
224 days ago, such a remote possibility that I would see this day
It was such a faint, faraway moment
A tiny glimmer, flicker of shape
Hope in becoming fully formed
A thousand tears and shaking breaths later
Pounding heart and aching limbs aside
Every day, every hour, a step
Now, final inches ounces pounds
Moments running out of time, into time
Certainty in the unknown
Writing to anchor the moment in time
Heed the final space on the path
I can see it ahead, reach it
Touch it with only the slightest quiver
Fully formed, running out of time
Waiting for that final cry
“Mommy is this our last baby?”
Yes, this is our last baby, I responded to Quentin.
“But what if this baby dies?”
Then it will just be you and Theo.
“And then we would be really sad?”
I have unintentionally drawn a line between my pregnancies. I noticed it when writing the other day. I referred to my “previous pregnancies” but I meant only my pregnancies with Nelle and Iris. I wasn’t referring to my pregnancies with Theo and Quentin.
Now I need to make another decision: do I want a tubal ligation with my c-section? Read More