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.
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 air...it'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.