Thursday, September 1, 2011


I was tempted to title this post, "Fuck You, September..." but that doesn't sum up my love/hate relationship with the month very well, just sums up my general state of anger and rage at the world that's been permeating quite a bit of everything I do lately.  Plus, you know how I love my curse words, and The F Word is certainly one of my favorites. But anyway.

It's September 1st.

September is the most beautiful month out here where I live.  So beautiful, in fact, that when E and I decided to get married, we knew it would have to happen in September.  Fall colors just starting to appear on the trees, a crispness in the evenings, signs of Fall all around, except that September is also when we get our hottest days usually.  Beautiful light, hot sun, still wearing tanks and sundresses, but the anticipation of baking bread and football season and cozying up with a bowl of homemade soup is palpable.

It's also Back to School Month, which for me has always been Back to Work Month (well, actually, that's usually August, but September is when it kicks in...) but it's still a lovely month...the workload has yet to get overwhelming or bothersome.  It hardly ever rains in September.  It really is just lovely.  Any time anyone who hasn't been here thinks of visiting, I tell them to skip the summer tourist season and wait for September, or even October.  It's just so beautiful here.

But not anymore.

September is Otis's month.

His due date was September 4/5 - Labor Day Weekend last year.  Oh, how clever, what a great way to remember it: LABOR day.

I spent last year's Labor Day in hopeful anticipation.  Walking.  Walking.  Walking.  And more walking.  It was HOT.  (Warning: very gory, but entirely unrelated to labor, story in 4...3...2...1...)  We ended up in the midst of a CRAZY neighborhood emergency - a neighbor had cut off his thumb with a power saw, and we were walking by his house as we heard it happen.  E couldn't just keep walking, the screams were too bloodcurdling.  He went in.  He stayed with the man (who had cut off not just his thumb but the tips of two other fingers as well) and his wife while the paramedics were on their way.  They searched for the thumb.  Seriously.  E calmed the wife.  I could hear him talking to them both - he was amazing. So calm, rational, grounded. The paramedics arrived, they continued to search for the thumb.  It was surreal.  I stood outside, 9 months pregnant, on my due date, with my dogs, and explained to the other neighbors what was going on.  "No, they're looking for it.  They can't go to the hospital until they find it.  Umm, yeah...Well, today is actually my due date.  I'm doing okay...  Yeah, a boy... Yeah, we're excited...We think Otis, but we'll have to decide for certain when we see him... "

At one point they even tried bringing our little dog in to help sniff out the thumb.  (He was unsuccessful.)  20 minutes later, they found it (it had flown over the roof and into the side yard, they discovered this by being all sorts of CSI and tracking its hypothetical path and following blood drops.)  The poor man and his wife took off in the ambulance, and E and I walked home.  Hot, sweaty, pretty shaken up.  But I was decidedly not in labor.  The whole thing was so surreal.  But afterwards, E was like, "Well, wow, if I could handle that, I can totally handle your labor...I can't imagine it being any more scary than that..." (Oh, if only.)

That night our little dog got sick, (no, he had not eaten the thumb, as many who I told this story to thought was my "punch line," but probably a rotten plum or something while out on our walk, because he seemed kind of drunk).  I debated taking him to the vet.  Just what I needed, a dog at the emergency vet and the way things seemed to work for me, *that* would be when I went into labor.  But I held off on the e-vet, the dog recovered, and I didn't go into labor.

Two or three days later, I did.  Late at night, as E had just gotten home from work, I had my first contractions.

I can't write the story of my labor and delivery.  It's all still too much for me to revisit.

But it was four days in total, from my first contraction at midnight-ish on Wednesday, to my delivery in the wee hours of Sunday morning.  Later Sunday we learned how very sick Otis was.  We took him off life support the following day, Monday, the 13th, around 3pm.

Wednesday, the 15th, was our 3rd wedding anniversary.  Or, if you count the wedding we had while lying in my hospital bed the night of the 12th, it was our 3 day anniversary.

See, when we realized the gravity of the situation we were facing in the hospital, E crawled into bed with me and cried, and cried, and trembled, and screamed, and cried.  I cried too, I trembled too.  We were both terrified.  We were losing Otis.  The only thing I could imagine that could be as painful would be losing E.  I stopped, turned to him, and asked him to marry me.  Again.  Right there.  I told him that I couldn't lose him, that I knew this would forever change us, and that I could only do it if I had him right by my side.

The hospital chaplain came to sit with us later that evening, and we asked her to do a mini-ceremony of sorts, renewing our vows, resealing our marriage contract.  It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.  In the early days of our grief, when one of us was having a particularly hard time, the other would turn and ask, "Will you marry me?"

It was our way of saying, "I'm not going anywhere.  This is as hard a pitch that life can throw our way.  I will stand by you through every bit of it.  I love you.  We will get through this.  I don't know how, but we will."

So here we go.

Into September.

My once-favorite month.

The month I got married.  The month I finally held my Otis, the month I triumphantly pushed and pushed and birthed that beautiful glorious 11 pound baby.  The month I saw his gorgeous head of hair, and that perfect nose, and his lips...his lips...The month I learned what it feels like to have your heart stretched and stretched and stretched some more to accommodate the incredible amount of love that a child brings with him as he bursts into the world.

The month I remarried E.  The month I learned Otis was not going to stay with us.  The month I watched as we unhooked tubes and said our goodbyes.  The month I cradled him in my arms, kissed his head, and baptized him with my tears.  The month I watched as E sobbed and howled and held that baby with all the love a papa could ever muster.  The month my world shattered. The month I fell more in love with E than I ever dreamed possible.  The month I learned what true love is.

So here we are, September 1st. I didn't think it would mean as much to me as it does today.  It's just a date, an arbitrary naming of a day, I told myself.  But somehow, even just seeing the word "September" is sending shivers in my spine and reawakening a deep and dark dark dark sadness that lives in me.

Today, just on schedule, the weather is nice and warm.  The light shines in that way that it only does in the month of September.  But there's a breeze in the's cool, reminding me that fall is indeed on its way.  September will turn to October, just as it does every year.   We have our hopes about what that may mean this year, but last year's September shattered me too deeply to even think about hoping too much right now.

So I'm grabbing E's hand, yet again, asking him to marry me, yet again, and attempting to breathe my way through this.  And putting it out there that I couldn't have made it through this year without the support of the baby loss community either, and letting you know I might need a little extra TLC these next few weeks.

To all my readers, thank you for walking this path with me.  To those of you who also lost your babies in September, know that you and your children are never far from my heart, especially so this month.


Renel said...

This post Wow! It made me cry and gave me chills. How lovely that you renewed your vows with E. I felt so similar after Camille died... "I can't lose you too" we had to be in it together. September generally is a lovely month and just like with all things when your baby dies it is nice to have some happy sprinkled in with the sad or we would plumit in to the dark abyss of sadness. I hope the remembering and loving of Otis is cradeled with love for him and love for your husband and life and sunshine and warmth because the cold sadness and ache on the flip side certainly need to be opposed by an amazing force. I am thinking of you, E and Otis. Hugs to you this September.

My New Normal said...

I didn't lose my son in September, it was in August. But his due date was September 4th. So this post really touched me.

Maddie said...

We're heading for October which is all of those things for me but September is when my pregnancy with Matilda became anything but normal. Hugging you and holding your hand as you relive everything - it's awful. xx

brianna said...

What a beautiful post, Sarah. Your love for Otis and E is so evident. I'm wishing you piece this September, though I know how elusive it can be around anniversaries. Thinking of your beautiful boy.

Brooke said...

Tears for you, and for E and Otis. Sending you much love and remembering your boy.

LauraJane said...

A beautiful post. Thinking of you and your sweet boy.

Alex said...

Oh, Love, so much here and so beautiful and heart breaking. I just love you, love Otis, love all that you are. September has forever changed for many of us... what a month of such tremendous paradox. I so with your boy was wish you. xxx

Sarah said...

Your story really resonates with me. Late September 2009 is when we unhooked Parker from his life support. But like you September also brings joy, our rainbow baby was born 1 year ago Saturday.
Its very bittersweet.
I will be thinking about you and Otis this weekend!

Anonymous said...

Tears for you as we walk towards the dates of our sons births and deaths. I don't know how to navigate the next 11 days.. there just aren't words.

Missy said...

I'll be thinking of you and your dear sweet boy my friend. All my love to you and you navigate your way through~

still life angie said...

This is such a gorgeous breathtaking post. My wedding anniversary was yesterday, so also an apropos post for me. I love the image of you renewing your vows. Wow. I have to say that December used to be one of my favorites then Lucy died in December. But three years out I think it might still is deeply sad but also with all the feelings it used to have. Maybe her birthday made is more personal and introspective, less about stuff more about our family. I don't know. Love to you as you navigate this month and these complicated feelings.

Monique said...

Sending love to you during this time. Remembering Otis and wishing it were all very different. xo

Kate said...

Oh Sarah. This is gut wrenching. If I could have written it about myself and my/our story I would have. It's all so close to home, too familiar. Our big, BIG boys. How could such big strong boys die?
The power of those words 'will you marry me' and what they mean to you. No words here. Love renewed in the face of loss. It's happened to us. We were just about separated before Joseph's birth. His death has brought us so close.
I'm sorry that September isn't what it was for you. I'm sorry that Otis isn't here, nearly one year old. It's just not fair.
Thinking of you in the final weeks of this pregnancy. Peace to you. xo

Sarah said...

Sarah, this is a beautiful post. It made me cry all over again for what you've lost. I am so glad that you and E renewed your vows and have been supporting each other through this. I'm here for you, this month and always, with so much love.


Tiffany said...

that was beautiful.

æ said...

September. Otis' month.

I am so lucky to have witnessed the first marriage, and to witness the closer you've gotten too. You're amazing.

I love you.

Hope's Mama said...

This post really did break my heart. Your story already breaks my heart of course, but this post really opened the floodgates.
As you know August is my month, but September still holds so much sadness, I know.
I'll be thinking of you and remembering Otis so much. And as someone else who had a painfully long labour with no reward at the end, I absolutely feel for you.
Otis is forever in my heart, especially in his month of September.

Roccie said...

Sarah I am so very sorry. It is such a hard time. I hope writing this felt good to get it out. It is a beautiful story in the sort of way that such tragic loss can be beautiful. I have a deep thanks for your husband. I imagine his support is your lifeline.

I wish I had a more hands on way to show my support in the next few wks. Tie a string around your finger, look at it, and know we are all standing around you to support you in every moment.

Merry said...

Oh hun :(

April is a similar month here, in terms of loveliness but I have always hated it and the beauty seems to mock me. But Freddie did mnage to alter that.

You have done amazingly this last year. I don't think Max and I could have handled Freddie's death in the early years of our marriage, I really don't.


Hanen said...

Sarah, sending so much love and thinking of you and Otis all this week. I know how bittersweet it must be, that you now have Otis to thank for having two wedding anniversaries per year. xxxxx h

Lori said...

much love to you, sweet sarah. this is my favorite september song. i just listen and cry my eyeballs out and that is just f'ing fine.