Sending so much love and light to Missy this weekend, who is marking her son Chai's first birthday this weekend...Missy was one of the first blogging mamas I "met" here in this horrific (and yet so beautifully supportive) blog world of baby loss, and she's been an amazing friend to me in these months. Drop on by and send her some love as we mark Chai's first birthday....
(warning: discussion of subsequent pregnancy)
So we just got back from 8 days in Honolulu, there for a family wedding. We all went - my brother, his wife, their two kids, my mom, E and me...plus there were a ton of family friends there as well. The trip had been planned for over a year, so originally in the planning this was supposed to be our first big trip with Otis. First time on an airplane. First time on the beach. "Perfect time to travel with him," our friends with kids told us. We would be traveling with grandma - free babysitting! Mama and Papa could go on a DATE! Yadda yadda yadda.
My heart broke a bunch of times over during the trip, I missed Otis so badly. Our hotel pool was full of babies swimming with their parents....Everybody saw my pregnant belly and made the usual "Is this your first?" or "Enjoy it now...you'll be busier than you know it soon," line of commentary. I usually just nodded, then ignored most of them and put on headphones; but E would often get to talking.
This one particular family started in with the usual "You're expecting" chatter and I put on my headphones; and I realized soon enough that E was actually sharing the details of Otis's birth and death with them. Turns out, their son, who was happily swimming in the pool with his mama, had shoulder dystocia in delivery as well. But there he was, alive and well, jumping and splashing and laughing....
Why did he get to stay? Why not Otis?
Later in the trip, the father came back up to us, to say goodbye, they were heading back home from their vacation. "I wish nothing but the best for you guys in the next few months. I'm so sorry about your son. Just so you know, we all prayed for you today in church," he told us, tears in his eyes....It was such a kind gesture. I silently apologized for my anger/envy at their good fortune and our crap luck.
Like most of the members of my family (I must be from a different gene pool), my brother likes to make small talk. "How old is your baby?" he'd often ask some of the parents in the pool with us. And inevitably, for every age they answered, I thought of my friends here in the babyloss world and your babies who should be here, who should be that age. And every time someone said, "Ten months," I flashed to Otis, of course. So that's what he'd be like right now. Wow. I often found myself looking away, wiping tears from behind my sunglasses, and then swimming as fast as I could to the deep end.
So, no, it wasn't all sun and surf and bliss, our Hawaiian getaway. E and I are fighting more than usual these days. It was stressful traveling with family. It was hard being around so many babies. And so many strangers and their innocent (yet incessant) questioning about this pregnancy. And their all-knowing "advice" they offer to (seemingly) first-time parents. Many days I escaped into our air conditioned room and cried. Or just got incredibly bitchy with whichever family member happened to cross my path first. One day, I threw a full on fit at the beach of the "exclusive" beach club we were visiting as guests of a member...Yelling and crying and everything, right there in the middle of it all. I stormed out as my mother tried to make apologies for me, "Pregnancy hormones..." she whispered. "Dead baby," I snapped, as I ran out.
The wedding itself was simply beautiful. They rented a home on the beach, and had a small ceremony with only their closest friends and family. The wind was blowing like crazy that day. Just that morning, I had read something about how there is a belief in Hawaiian culture about the wind, how it carries the spirits of our ancestors and those who have left the earth before us. Remembering this, the strong wind became strangely comforting, like Otis was there at the wedding with us after all. After the ceremony, E and I stole back down to the beach and wrote Otis's name in the sand. We used the lei I had been given to make the O, and watched as the waves began to lap at the edges of his name.
Hawaii is a special place - our trip to Maui in January was so incredibly healing and nurturing, on so many levels, plus, we came home with one new member in our ohana - this little baby boy that is currently kicking and wiggling away in my ever growing belly. He loved the trip - and there were moments of connecting with him there that were truly magical. Every time I got out of the pool and laid down on my lounge chair, he would kick and punch to the point that strangers sitting a few chairs away would comment on his strength and determination in his movements. He seemed to appreciate the sweetness of the fruit and fruity tropical drinks there, dancing away like mad after a few bites of Duke's Hula Pie or my virgin pina coladas. When we were stopping on Maui for our layover on the way home, he started kicking like crazy - it was almost as if he was trying to tell us he wanted to stay there. And I got weepy flying into Maui - such an incredibly special place for us all - looking over the land there and remembering our time in January, our dip into the healing waters at the Iao Valley, our work with the traditional healer there, and her words to me, "Your next baby is ready to join you, Sarah, you just have to invite him in..." (Four days later I found out I was pregnant.)
Our friends that live on Maui came and met us at the airport during our layover. They brought us a gift for the new babe - two onesies that proudly proclaim "MauiBuilt" across the front. They are the first gifts for this little guy that I've allowed myself to look at and really imagine him in. And they came home, and got folded and put into the dresser drawer. Tears flooded my eyes as I pulled open the drawer, and I found myself apologizing in my head to Otis as I placed this baby's onesies into a drawer that was once filled with all of Otis's belongings.
Otis should be here. And yet, if he were, this little dude wouldn't be wriggling around in my belly. And I love them both so incredibly much. I can't imagine life without either of them...although I have to live life without Otis physically here, there is no denying his constant presence nevertheless. And this new little guy (we are soliciting name suggestions, by the way), he's every bit as loved and wanted and wished for as Otis...and even with him in utero I am beginning to see how my love for my two sons is differentiated, separate, one not greater than the other, just...different. This little guy is really beginning to exist as his own entity, to hold his own in our family and as much as that fact fills me with fear, it also brings me such undeniable comfort and joy. I'm doing my best to keep the horse in front of the cart, and simply enjoy the moments I have with him right here, right now, and love them for every little bit of heart-stretching-expansion that they bring me.
(And then insert prayers/wishes/disclaimers/pleadings to every deity and power that this guy is healthy, safe, and gets to come home, alive, with us in October.)