I wait for time to write a coherent post, but as always, time eludes me.
M is five and a half weeks old. I thought of this as I sang E to sleep last night and remembered that it was five and a half weeks before he was born that my doctor called and gave us the date. At that time, five and a half weeks felt like an eternity and I did not know how I would get through them. These last five and a half weeks have flown though. M’s legs are longer, his wrists and thighs a little chunkier, his eyes more focused. He is really here. He is a real, live baby.
He still feels like a miracle. I don’t really believe in miracles, but he feels like one. I know this is because I never really believed he would be here. I could not believe in a real baby, a baby for us, until that doctor thrust him up over the screen at me, until I held his solid warm weight in my arms (6 pounds 12 ounces so much more substantial – more real – than 2 pounds 8 ounces), and looked into his open eyes. I had never seen such a beautiful baby, and I never will because it was not (only) his physical beauty; it was the beauty of intense relief, of release from fear, of an impossible dream realized.
I never explained here about what happened on the day M was born. That morning, the hospital called and said they ‘couldn’t understand’ why I would be coming in on a Sunday for an ‘elective’ c-section. (They did not read my file.) (THEY DID NOT READ MY FUCKING FILE.) They wanted me to wait until Monday afternoon. ‘It’s just one day,’ the nurse said.
‘Just one day.’ There is no such thing as ‘just one day’ to a mother who has had a baby die inside her and is desperately hoping another won’t. I had been doing ‘just one day” for hundreds of days and I had been provided with the relief of ‘on this day’ and then it was snatched away from me and I could not manage just one more day. I could not do it.
I had woken up that morning calm, excited, amazed at what was going to happen, that we had made it. When everything was sorted out (i.e. after they read the fucking file), I arrived at the hospital sobbing and desperate. When they put me in the same bed where I’d learned A was really dead – after R told them (yes, that’s right HE TOLD THEM and they didn’t move me over to the next bed!) – I felt almost completely defeated.
And then he was here, screaming, covered in vernix, face scrunched up, eyes swollen and shut tight in that bright noisy room. In all of the pictures of me that day, holding M, my eyes are swollen, too, and red-ringed from all the crying I did that morning. But he was here.
The relief has lasted all month. It is like another kind of shock, I think. The shock of a living baby.