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Lover’s Gifts XLIV: Where Is Heaven

Where is heaven? you ask me, my child,-the sages tell us it is
beyond the limits of birth and death, unswayed by the rhythm of day
and night; it is not of the earth.
But your poet knows that its eternal hunger is for time and
space, and it strives evermore to be born in the fruitful dust.
Heaven is fulfilled in your sweet body, my child, in your
palpitating heart.
The sea is beating its drums in joy, the flowers are a-tiptoe
to kiss you. For heaven is born in you, in the arms of the mother-
dust.

~ Rabindranath Tagore

(First off, millions of apologies for taking so long to post! We had no internet access at the hospital, and had to stay 48 hours for monitoring. But we’re home now! I have so much to tell you’all, but for now… …)

I feel as if I am walking in a Dali timescape, with clocks melting, landsape shifting, the ground moving and unreal under my feet. But, she, this precious little bundle of warmth, all eight pounds and 20.5 inches of her, is real. She is real and here! My tears surge to type this… thank you for walking with me, breath abated, and all the support you have sent my way. I cannot tell you how much all these means to me.

It was a fast and intense four-hour labor; she made a gracious exit while I screeched and yelled like some possessed baboon-hyena… but she is here nevertheless, and we’re all in love… while feeling as if we are living in a dream.

Thank you, thank you, thank you you all again, far and near, waiting for news. Photos later, and for now, a letter I wrote hours before I headed to the hospital, all hysterical, and needing to unload all that tension… I titled it “Before I look into your eyes”–

My sweet, sweet little one,

I am weeping. Because I am wedged, between joy and grief and pain; between hope and not daring to hope; between anticipation and surrender, and boy, that is such a painful place to be in. But, I am wedged. It is painful, and tangling, what a mess, but I am staying in this place, because this is just where I am now.

Because, you, you, you, you have been anticipated for so long, I am suddenly surprised that tonight, no, probably tomorrow, at some point, I am going to be looking into your eyes. I am going to look into the depths of your eyes and meet your soul. And I will welcome you, once again, back to earth realm. I am finally, my heart, going to feel your warmth and your weight, and press you into my quivering bosom, and hold you there, and never, ever let go. And for that, I weep.

I weep for this opportunity that has presented itself, and that has held itself out for so long. For the door to not have bang shut on my fingers yet. For all the love and pain and beauty that I have experienced this past months. For all the feelings that I allow to wash over me, over and over, wearing down my wretched heart, smoothing over my raggedness, bubbling over my raw being.

I don’t know how to describe this to you. This thing called a mother’s heart. This thing that is a grieving mother’s heart reaching out towards the light, leaning into joy. You have no idea what it means to me to have you come. Although, perhaps you already know, you wise little soul; you are a traveler, just like your brother before you. And tonight, I think he is escorting you, from the realm of the mysterious stars, to us all here. All of us here, who have been waiting for you, little sweet. Do you know? Do you know that you are anticipated by so many people? We all can’t wait to meet you, to welcome you… it will be such a gorgeous, yet humbling moment.

I await. A-trembling, and trying to breathe ever so deeply.

love,

mama

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Dear sweet little soul,

your birth is pending. Pending, pending. It could be in some hours, in two days, in several days. Who knows? Perhaps only you, and the mysterious forces of the universe.

Your birth is pending, so is mine. We are going to birth.–

When your brother Ferdinand died, I died too. It was easy to die. There was no strength, no bravery in me to live. I let go and lay down, wishing never to walk out into the light again. But, death, or perhaps, Life, will not let me have it so easy. I gotta live again, because I still have things to do, apparently. I still have much to learn, and much to grow. But I was allowed to cocoon for a bit.

Now, it is about time for me to break from that safe cocoon, that has been warm, dark, and comforting. I have to birth again. And, golly, that is hard! What am I supposed to be now? How am I supposed to be? I dare not think, and I am not sure. I cower, dig in my heels, beg to lay back down again, but it is time to birth.

Your release from my womb will also be my birth. But, I need to let some things die. Birth, and Death, so intimately entwined, my dear little one. When Ferdinand died, he was birthed into another realm. Somehow he never really died, this is something I am still grasping. He feels so close, so intimate to me; I feel when I touch my skin, every single cell I touch is him too. I feel, when I rub my palms over the round form of my belly (your final days in my womb!), he is touching you too. And yet, he feels so distant sometimes. Sweet little one, there is nothing morbid when I say that as I carry you in me- sweet, fresh, tender little life, I carry Death too. You come in Life, and in Death too, if that makes sense at all. From the second we were born, we slowly begin to die.

Before I birth, to you, to myself, I know I need to kill some things first. I need to let some things die, and I need to surrender.

During my Blessingway, hosted by two women whom hopefully will be present to welcome you into this realm, Mani and Leigh, the myth of Queen Inana- Sumerian Queen of Heaven- was invoked. Alone, she had to pass through seven gates, and at each gate, she was to surrender one thing. Worldly possessions they may be, but representative of the psyche. I was asked too, to proceed to seven symbolic gates, my face painted in preparation to be a birth warrior, seven scarves hung and weighed upon my shoulders, and asked to surrender. What shall I surrender?

~ ego: This birth is not simply about me. It is also about the universe’s rhythm, flow and power. Actually, this birth is not about me. You are coming through me, as a gift, but I do not own you. This birth is not about my performance, but rather about how I let go and let flow and let be.

~ need for control: yes, no matter how much I realize about the illusion of control, I still yearn for it. I uncurl my fingers, and then, uncertain of myself, I reach out and grasp again. There is no need to control.

~ fears: I have thought about this a lot the past few days. I puzzled, how is it fear is still here? Don’t I have love, a lot of love? Does love not conquer all fears? … … But I also realize that fear has not been so menacing the past days, but a lingering presence. Perhaps fear is not to be feared. I studied it longer, and deeper, and realize that it is but an energy. Energy that cannot be destroyed, but certainly can be transformed. Fear has been there to energize me, keep me alert, get me wondering. In yoga meditation, fear is asked to be transformed into fearlessness. Fear has been hanging around, waiting for something to catalyse, to be transformed into courage.

I know I fear, because of the need to be in control, because of the necessity to show that I am capable. Ego, control, fear. Banish one and banish all.

~ time: I surrender all concepts of time. I wonder too, how long will this labor be? Long, like the others? It does not matter, really. 20 hours, 2 hours, what needs to transpire will do so. No clocks for me. Only the moment of your safe arrival matters.

~ past memories and experiences: oh, how they haunt me! When they are actually already a part of me, a part of my growth, even if it is painful growth. I let them go, for they do not inform this birth, your birth, our births, and unless to accentuate, they have no place in this sacred space that will be our births.

~ outcome: I surrender to the outcome, whatever it may be. I think, perhaps, that you have decided it is not time yet, because of this- my attachment to the outcome. I grovel, I dig in, I sulk. Because I want to know the outcome, before I even begin the journey. I want to have a guaranteed, positive outcome. I really do. I want someone, to somehow tell me, you will come, safely. But then, we may as well turn the planet inside out and trade places with Neptune. There is no guaranteed outcome, only committed action. I surrender, truly and totally. Whatever the outcome, no matter how you come, I will go through this beautiful process. My heart is exposed this way, in the most raw, vulnerable and quivering manner, but it seems there is no other way to walk this journey. There is no other way to mother, to birth and to be. No bargaining, no bartering.  I know I have to walk through fire to find out, and gladly I walk.

~ boundaries: I am not so sure now what I meant when I said this, but I think I am trying to transcend all time and space. It does not matter where I birth you, that space boundary no longer matters. And it does not matter what realm, physical or spiritual, Ferdinand may be. (Yes, this is as much about you as it is about Ferdinand, separate and unique entities you may be; but I truly believe you both are connected, intertwined…) This is about now, and yet the past, present and future are all entwined in one space, in one moment. I just sense it.

I call you sweet little soul, but you are not young. I believe you are an old soul who wishes to visit earth again. I am honored to have you come through me, so I may learn from you. You have no idea how much joy it has been to nurture you these past months. Oh, of course there was the almost-constant anxiety, but certainly there was much joy too. I thank you for this opportunity, for which I am also humbled. It has been a privilege.

Those months have been long. Bittersweet, heart-opening and beautiful, often tinged with sorrow. We approach a threshold now. And I am ready. I hope you are, too.

In love,

mama

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Today is January 2, 2009.

Big deal, really. It doesn’t mean a thing to me.  For me, Dec31 is a random ending to a year; and Jan 1 likewise is a random pick for the beginning of a “new” year. Perhaps these dates are so closely bundled with the joyous ho-ho-ho season of peace, love, and cheer, I tend to view it with suspect. These dates make me feel as if I have to do something about it. You know, review in retrospect, ponder and reflect,clean up my acts, make resolutions, look forward, be new.

I don’t feel new; I don’t feel like looking back in retrospect; I don’t feel like cleaning up my old devilish ways; and I don’t feel like becoming a better person with spanking new resolutions (truly just things I wish I am but never will be, renewed each year under a new guise).

You know what I want.

And, thank you, thank you, thank you, for all your love, support and comments the past weeks. I really, truly, deeply appreciate all of them. I hold them close to my heart and they buoy me through every single second of the day. I am reading (sort of), but not really commenting. And actually, not writing as much- again, suspect of being too verbose and having to regret things I said. But, I read all your posts about your thoughts and feelings about 2008 and your thoughts, feelings and hopes for 2009. They are thoughtful, wistful, heartbreaking, beautiful, amazing, and I curse with you, and I wish with you, too. Truly, sincerely. I hope this new year gets better for us all.

Another reason I am staying away from my own blog is… this may start to turn into something like a…. erm, daily cervix report. Or, daily contractions report; or something like: how my cervix feels like today.

Really.

I had a cervix check today. Would you like the details??

Better to fast-forward to the conclusion for today: no need to rush to hospital or anything. But body and baby seems to be heading in right direction. Still some ways to go. will wait till coming Tuesday to decide on next step.

Yes, it’s excruciating. And brutal. And I think I am coping by totally screening out the sensation and awareness of time. I do not think about the day of the week, the date, the year. I just breathe in and out and remember not to slouch too much. And eat chocolate cake. (I am eating this one now.)

Despite all my misgivings, I hope 2009 is all you wish it to be, and much much more.

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38 weeks today. And today instead of the CNM we saw the OB, and he made it very clear that I should not still be pregnant; that I should have induced seven days ago, get the baby out safely and be done with it. We should not be holding faith that because things look good so far, we should wait till 39 weeks to think about induction. He did not explain why hospitals, guided by principles of the American College for Obstetrican-blah-something, will not allow for scheduled induction prior to 39 weeks. I did not tell him what I have read in silent horror about how things can go horridly wrong during an induction. It almost feels as if we are fighting a battle. If something (G-d forbid) happens to this baby, he’s going to tell me, “I told you so. You should have gotten her out at 37 weeks.” And if we have gone with an earlier induction and something happens, will it be any comfort to me to be able to say to him, “I told you, 37 weeks was too early.”

Crap. Crap. Crap. CRAP. And, sh*T.

(bangs head against padded cell. spits. hisses. bangs some more. cranks up music.)

So far, everything looks fine. Normal. Textbook perfect.

Only we know it takes less than a fraction of a second for disaster to strike.

I have this looming sense of doom that is hard to shake.

I also go into loony states of dreaminess where drool flows out of the corner of my lips, smiling to think of us cooing and oogling over a sweet, fresh, young life.

And then sense-of-doom starts to rattle my door-knob, hankering to join the party.

I look around at all the things we have dragged out, have bought and stowed away, in anticipation of her arrival, and I wonder if I am nuts, and there will be a primal, animalistic urge to get out the boxes from the garage and put everything in the boxes and sealed. Just. in. case.

I hold hope, yes. Light strikes into my padded cell and I observe the swirling particles of dust dancing in that stream of light, while staying in that spot of darkness. I wonder about the dust.

It is so darn freaking hard, and I don’t suppose the next seven days will get any easier. If all goes well, we will have an induction in a week. If all goes well, we are going to welcome our fourth child into this world, in a week… maybe earlier, should she decide to come earlier.

I am hanging by the shreds. On the brink of explosion from holding in hope and anxiety and goodness knows what else. I can’t think much ahead. On New Year’s day we are planning on the greet-the-new-year hike, and then that’s it. Just waiting and trying not to die myself first.

Apologies for my silence.  You all are still never far from my thoughts. I am just… anxious. Really anxious… …

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We’ve all been there… we’ve all said, yeah, we could plan, right down to every minute detail but of course we have absolutely no control. Control is an illusion. Especially when it comes to living babies.

This lesson cut really deep for me when Ferdinand died. We planned for the two girls to be playing with a little brother, and they shall teach him what a true gentleman is, and how a knight will behave towards the ladies. We shall have a lovely family time up at our cabin for the six weeks, because R has six weeks of paternity leave, and he had planned to take full advantage of it. (After Ferdinand died, that leave is revoked. Instead, we filled out papers for him to go on “sick leave” so as to take care of a “sick family member”.) We had planned for a waterbirth out in the beautiful natural surroundings of our cabin.

We had planned, we had planned… and we had worked hard for our plans to come through. We did not just sit and dream wishful thoughts, thinking all will be well and aligned for us.

But sometimes even dedicated hard work has to go unacknowledged.

**

So, when we discussed about trying again, we talked about whether we should try to do a homebirth again. R was adamant that a hospital birth is the way to go. A lot of monitoring, he muttered. I had asked him, “Do you no longer trust in the human body to do what it needs to do?” I think in fact I was asking him, “Are you doubting what my body can do? Do you think I killed our son?”

And he said No, but now I trust technology.

Later, we agreed that technology only gives an illusion of control. Sure, it had helped save lives, but it had lost its grips on many lives too. How often have we seen in movies, the patient dying, as the machine keeps on churning and chiming? It beeps urgently that something needs to be done, but what can be done? Nothing but to pull out the plug and pull over the blanket, and say, “I am sorry. We tried.”

So, with my twice-weekly monitoring, I have been asked, “Does it give you assurance?” — Not one bit. Sure, I see the baby on the ultrasound; I watch her little heart diligently and miraculously pumping along. I watch the fluctuating number on the fetal monitor that tells me her heartrate. I watch the black squiggly line as the paper spit out from the machine, showing me the pattern of her heartrate. At all those moments, she is real and very alive. But, I know too well now anything can happen at any given moment. And I will not be counseled for a decision in advance. I have been bracing, expecting to see the heart suddenly stopping, or that the machine no longer registers a heartbeat.

Death is a certainty. That I am sure of now.

Yesterday, my CNM was on vacation, so I saw the OB. Since we don’t know who will be on-call when I go into labor, I see the OB from time to time, just so he knows I exist. He suggested that I consider an early planned induction, right at 37 weeks. That means, two weeks from now. Given we do not know what happened the last time.. better to get the baby out early, he said.

But, I argued, my body may not be ready. The baby may not be ready. An induction could result in complications.

He nodded and agreed. Very fair, he said. But he said to think about it. Earlier is better.

We drove home and then I sat down and bawled. I was totally keeled over. I felt I was dealt a hard blow right in my belly. My nose felt like someone had punched me brutally.

I am not ready yet. No, I mean, I am anxious to see her. I am dying to hold her in my arms and smell her and love her and hug her tightly. I want to see her sweet little face and I want to hold her fingers and stroke her feet. I yearn to touch her warm skin, feel it next to mine. I cannot wait to have the girls’ faces bowed over hers, admiring her every feature and singing and cooing to her. I want R to finally be holding a live baby in his arms.

But, dare I call the shots? Dare I be insolent again?

Who am I to decide? How am I supposed to decide?

If I say yes, will my body cooperate? Will our baby be ready to meet us? What if it all goes wrong and something disastrous happen (again)?

If I say no, let her come in her own time, will it all go smoothly then?

I have been sitting and trying to visualize. It is hard, because I am getting flashbacks so often. Too often the ending I see is yet another death.

I have slowly come to surrender to the outcome, which is beyond my control. I have prepared myself for a long, brutal labor, full of anxiety, trepidation, tears and all kinds of crazy emotions.

But now suddenly, I have been asked to take control. Not of my emotions, but of the outcome of this pregnancy. To decide when and whether to do it.

I can’t.

Either way I know I have no control. But no matter what, I have to make a choice. Even to choose not to make a choice is a decision in itself. At some point, I have to make some kind of decision, and be held responsible for it.

I’ve been trying really hard to listen for an answer. But all I hear in my head is a jumble of that distant screaming, a newborn shrieking and a river of gushing tears.

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That’s how my brain works. It is all over the place.

Alternatively, I could title this post: A Proustian journey through my brain.

Wouldn’t that sound so much better? Except, who am I fooling? I commented a while back on Julia’s blog that I post in order to cleanse my head (and my guts). I do not form pretty sentences, I just come here and vomit all over. Then I feel good, wipe the remaining spit off my face and I feel I can get on with life again.

So, without further ado, I present you, oh-brave-ones! with my innards… …

Staying in the present is hard. Those Zen masters who sit so still and do not bat an eyelid and simply utter, “Here. Now. Breathe. In. Out. Here. Now. Present.” Well.. I would like to bat their heads a few times and pour ice-cold water down their necks. uh-huh, I do. Staying in the now… is very hard. It’s tough. I try. I really do. I breathe in. I breathe out. I repeat my mantra of Now, Now, Now. Be HERE. Stop running away, stop turning back, stop craning forward. Get here now, and stay.

But, everytime I step into the room for the ultrasound, I shudder. I make myself look into the technician’s face. Look at her, she is not the same person. LOOK. She. is. a. differenet. person. It is NOT the same all over again. I make myself look around the entire room. Look, it is different. Not the same room. This is smaller, see? But as she lowers me down and dims the light, it feels as if she’s putting me into a time capsule, and there is no way to run. The door is closed. I make myself look at the screen, which, unlike that time, is not turned away from me. Look, look at that. There’s the baby. She’s moving, can you see? Look at that heart beating, hear it. Every single time, I wonder, will the heart stop beating justas we are all gazing at it?

**

We each have our little silent horror movie. I have, for a long time, wanted to ask R, especially after an ultrasound, what exactly did he see on that fateful day. The screen was turned away from me, but he could see. I looked at his face but he was not giving anything away. All I saw was a focussed look and a neutral face. When I asked, what do you see? He said, they are taking measurements. I wanted to ask him, what does a deadbaby look like on the screen? What does a still heart look like? Is a baby with no more amniotic fluid around him a horrifying sight?

But, I never asked. I think, if I do, he will answer me honestly. But, I never did ask. I did not want to tear open the wound again. I have wondered if it may lighten his burden a little to talk about it, to share the terrible details of it all… but somehow I feel it would only be all the more traumatising. So, I always swallowed the question. We will each have our own little horror movie that we play silently to ourselves, over and over.

**

Names. I looked into books with names of all sorts. There was this entry:

Panda: Resembling an animal that eats bamboo leaves.

Very funny, really. Very funny. Except I am not sure if I am more appalled or more shocked. Or just plain incredulous. Panda. Pppfff. Indeed.

And Val, her head in Fairy-lala-land these days, came up with some suggestions.

Like: Isabel.

Like: Ninja.

Like: Far-nini

Like: Mar-nini

I told her: erm, I don’t think I like so much names that ends with nini’s or lala’s or similar such sounds.

She said: Oh, ok! But, these are great fairy names, with wonderful meanings, you know? Didn’t you say the meaning is more important?

Yes, yes, I did say that. But still….

And, when I look through the book of names… I will come across familiar ones. Some that belongs to babies whose parents are missing them so achingly. And I will whisper that name, over and over, asking in my head, “Why? Why did you not come? Where are you now?” And I will bow my head and remember, and names and faces form and swim in my head and my heart throbs.

**

“Pleaseis not a magic word. I don’t know who started this, who taught this first, but let me tell you this, I do not believe for a second that “please” is a magic word. NO.

Some weeks back, I overheard R asked Val, after she asked him to do something, “What is the magic word?” and I immediately stood up, got in the way and said to him sternly, “Please is not a magic word. What are you teaching her?!” And I turned to Val, “You remember, right? Please is not a magic word.”

“Yes, mom, I remember. We use it because we respect our friends, because we want to be polite, but it does not mean it will get you what you want.”

Exactly.

But, I have been using that p-word a lot.

When I gaze at the image on the screen, I plead to the little one, please please please, stay with me. Please do not die. Please live. Please come to me. Please. Please. PLEASE!!! I know, this world is just absurd, ridiculous and sucks in many, many ways. I will not argue with that. But I promise you, there are good things, beautiful things, delicious things, and I will show you them all. I will give you all the chocolates you want. But please, please come. PLEASE. PLEASE. PLEASE!!!! Please do not die. Please do not change your mind about coming to this realm. Please, just come, please be born alive and stay alive. PLEASE give me a chance to be your mother. P L E A S E.

No, it is not a magic word. It will not get me what I ask for. But I use it anyway, I ask anyway… what else is there for me to do?

**

Futile battle. As the days flit pass, and the leaves quiver and flutter, I feel as if I need to prepare. But exactly what? I don’t know. Battle?

I polish my armor till they blind. I sharpen a quiver of arrows, and I spit and polish my sword sharp and good. I prepare myself mentally, telling myself not to flinch if I need to draw a line of red around my enemy’s throat with the tip of my glistening sword.

But, what battle is there? Who am I fighting?

Nobody but myself. Nobody but the demons I have unleashed myself.

Those of fear and doubt and doom.

I manufacture them in my own head, release them into the room and then I have to strike them all down.

I wear myself down. This has to stop.

**

Put me in a padded cell. For a while, I had a post in my Drafts folder that had that title- put me in a padded cell. I titled it but did not write anything. It was just how I felt, weeks back. Like I am going nuts. Then a few weeks back, I deleted it. I felt I was in a pretty good place. And then, now, I think, yes, put me in a padded cell. But, don’t forget the creature comforts either.

With each passing day, I watch the stakes get higher. Anxiety level fluctuates, and her heartbeat, her activity level, they fluctuate too. I cling on to the shreds of hope. Then I let go. I surrender. I know where I am in this whole grand scheme of things. If you squint and look really hard, I am one of those dots. I repeat to myself: Don’t Expect, just Accept. Life is big, Death even bigger. I cannot fathom the Mystery of it all. I keep wondering and demanding the answers. Why me? Why Us? Why these babies? What is the reason?

But the answer… it sounds like chance. It sounds like the randomness of Life. It Just Is. I was not hand-picked. Well, maybe I was, but I will never know.

So, I decided, I will stop wondering, and stop demanding for the answer. I will surrender, give in, accept. I will Marvel. I will do my best and trust. (Although that is damn freakin’ hard.)

I feel as if we have made it a long way… but the last time, something went terribly wrong in the last weeks. Exactly what, and exactly when, we do not know, and probably will never find out. So, I do not know what I can do this time to alter the outcome. The thing is, I am not the one in control. I wish I am. I wish I get to flip the switches and navigate and map out the route. Maybe I get a small, tiny measure of say, somewhere, without even knowing it. But for now, I need to let go… of my ego.

We’ve been reading this book for bedtime, this book called The House Above the Trees. At one point, this little girl, Hepatica, who is sp special she can see the Forest People, she was running with this Wind Creature called Cloud. She could not keep up, determined though she was, and Cloud told her, “Let go.” and she let go of his hand, and stood and sulked. But, what Cloud meant was, You need to let go of yourself! Do not try to keep up with me. Do not be afraid that you cannot keep up with me. They tried again, and this time, she let go, not of his hand, but of herself, and her fears, and then she began to fly along, the speed of the wind, weightless, fearless, limitless.

I need to let go of myself too.

**

Many people on my mind. People who have come into my lives via all sorts of channels and means. People whom I never expect to meet. But, I think of them.

Today, I am awaiting, breath abated, for news that a little one had indeed arrived. Safely. The mother, a friend I have never met. Like me, she lost her previous little one at full-term, after a 12-week miscarriage. We have been walking together, me watching her back all the time. Last week, she wrote, I am afraid, I am going for a planned induction. I have never done this. What to do?

Talk to the baby, I told her. Talk to her, she will listen.

Soon after, she has lost her mucous plug. She wrote me she is going to take a walk in the woods to center herself. No internet access at the hospital, she said. If all goes well, I will write you Monday. Today is Monday. My heart is hanging in the air. Please. I repeated in my heart and in my head. Please come. Please let the news come to me fast. Good news.

I await.

Thank you all, for walking along. My heart, it is battered, but still warm, throbbing, and daring to hope.

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Grief has no expiration date.

Grief is also like that wash you apply on your paper when you work with water-colors. The foundation layer. Usually a light, inconspicuous color. It sets the tone, holds up the other hues and sometimes provide contrast. Sometimes, by the end of the painting, you no longer see much of the wash. But, it is there.

*****

I am in big-time anti-social mode. The homeschool park days are starting up, because the weather is finally cooling down, or so it seems. I am trying that “fake it till you make it” approach. I try to keep up with the online discussion about where to meet, what time, all those logistics. I post my replies, sometimes even enthusiastic with ex.cla.ma.tion marks!!! Heck, I even use smiley faces!  But really, I don’t care to be around most people. There is nothing wrong with them. But I am certainly not “right.” I did not make any “announcements” so I am dreading people seeing me in my current state of being and smiling and asking me questions. Those innocent questions. I do not want to mention Ferdinand to follow it with just three words “But he died.” and I also do not want to talk to him to just anyone standing in the park.

When I am out and about running errands, I sometimes get into a panic mode. I kept thinking, what if a bereaved mum sees me and she is hurt by my existence and state of being? What if I made her sad and she thinks, “Oh, look at that pregnant woman with her two girls. She has no idea how lucky she is. Does she know that her baby can die any second?!” It kills me to think by walking around I am causing pain to someone whose pain is not visible to me. It made me want to make a T-shirt that says, “I am not that innocent pregnant woman.”

And then of course, those questions and comments I get. I dread those. I just hate them, actually, even though I know people only have good intentions. Some people even say nice things. But, it is just not the same this time around.

*****

We went for our first hospital tour of the so-called Birth Center last night.

It was awful. We planned our first delivery at the birthing center and ended up being transferred, and I still cannot forget the horrible experience. Sophia was born at home. For Ferdinand, we dreamed of him being born in the water tub on our deck at our cabin. Ended up with a two-day induce-and-deliver. This time, we just do not have the balls to plan a homebirth. We both know deep well that whatever technology they can provide us with at the hospital will all be an illusion of control, and prolonged false assurance. But we also feel a closer monitoring might give an extra shred of hope.

Although, what hope? Even our OB makes sure that every time he sees us, he will tell us, so things look fine so far, but you know that bad things can still happen despite all the good things we do. He will remind us, of course you know this does not guarantee anything. Of course, doc, of course. We know because we have been through that already.

Six weeks ago our CNM told us to schedule our hospital tour. Being superstitious, we waited longer. Just in case, you know.

We dropped the girls off at S, R’s free-and-single French colleague. Then we found our way to the correct entrance, this being our first time there, despite the hospital being just about 6-minute drive from our home.

Our “tour guide” did not look very friendly or enthusiastic; she does not even look like she is happy with her job. But, that’s not my business. She started at the entrance and helped us by telling us, “Remember- B for Baby. That’s the entrance you are looking for.” uh-huh. Then she showed us this small little area curtained off behind the reception. That’s where they check the women who come in. I remember hearing something loud, like a baby’s heartbeat, when I checked in for our tour. No kidding. This hospital may be bigger than the one that belonged to the small town we went to for Ferdinand’s delivery, but they seem pretty hard up for space. I almost blurted out– “But, what if you do not find a heartbeat?!” Am I suppose to wait till they roll me to a remote room before I start to scream and cry?

Then she pointed out the triage opposite the corridor. 14 beds, she said, each with a curtain around it. My stomach started to lurch. Again, I asked her telepathically, “But what if something goes wrong?!” She did not get my telepathic question.

We moved on to the Labor & Delivery Room. There are 18 of them, and she said, they all look the same. It was small. It had a funny smell. R asked about their water-tub policy. She turned and said to everyone, “He’s asking about laboring in the water” and told us well, you will have to bring it in and set it up yourself, as long as your doctor says you can labor in water. R wondered where that tub will fit?

I saw that R had softened his heart a little bit. When we first found out about this little one in me, and I brought up the issue of water labor, he vehemently said NO WAY. He told me he is not going to touch the water tub, or have anything to do with it. It is just going to be too traumatic. I could not reply. Yes, he was the one who had to secure the tub to our car as a summer storm was brewing, and drove it two hours up to the cabin, with the wind and rain chasing him down. But that was not the worst part. There was the returning. Securing the tub on the car again and driving it down for two hours and returning the tub to the lady who rented it to us… without having used it… with a dead baby heavy in his heart.

I had not thought about the water tub again. But he asked the question. He asked it! I started to tear up. He also asked about candles, music and aromatherapy… …

And then our tour guide said, once you are in this room, no food or drinks for mum, only ice chips. R took a double-take. “Not even fruit juice?” he asked. “No. maybe small sips of water. But no juices. Just ice chips.” R frowned and muttered that such practice is unusual and gave me a quizzical look.

By then, we had to move on to the Operating Room, so I just walked. By then, I was screaming inside and starting to have a panic attack. Tragic vibes overcame me. I was sure I was not going to deliver a live baby there. I wanted to rush to the guide, grab her and ask her, where do the dead babies go?! Every cell in me was bursting with defiance, “No! No! Go home now! Have a homebirth in the water!!” Only I blinked and swallowed my tears and trudged on.

And flashbacks. As we walked the hallways, R and I had flashbacks. Lots of flashbacks. It was getting harder and harder to stay present and breathe.

Operating Room, blah blah blah.

Next, the Nursery. We had to stand with our backs against the walls along the corridor, so people can pass. They had huge, and I mean, huge, blown-up picture of healthy, world-cutest babies along the walls. My heart ached. Then, someone rolled by with a bassinet and she said, “Yes, everyone see that? That is the baby bassinet. Beautiful baby in there… blah blah blah…” The baby was small, but quiet, cute, peaceful, precious… and belongs to someone else. My knees felt like they were buckling and I was going to keel over. I leaned back harder against the wall, trying to listen to what she is saying about why a baby needs to be in the nursery, but I was needing every ounce of strength in me to stay there and look normal without breaking down.

Thankfully, it was coming to an end. She waved to some rooms further down the hallway and say that’s where you go after baby is born, blah blah blah…

Then it ended. R and I walked out. Once we stepped out of the building the deluge of tears came. By the time we made it into the car I was totally bawling. R’s eyes were red. “I know,” he said, “It was traumatic for me too.” We sat there, darkness falling around us, and I started to wonder how many other lonely and sad couples are there like us, right now, in the past, on this planet… …

*****

This is the only place where I will come and spew this. No one else will know or learn of our horrible 40-minute tour last night. We go forward, as bravely as possible, the pain and grief throbbing in our hearts, traveling through each and single cell, trying to summon forth hope. Maybe, maybe in a couple of months, we will hold a fresh little life in our arms and the pain will begin to slowly recede… but grief? it is always there.

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