Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sewing projects, tiny kicks, and hope.

Anticipating this baby's arrival has been a beautiful thing. I've been teaching myself to sew the last few months and getting to make things for the baby to use (a changing pad cover, which the cat thinks is for her, a cozy fleece jumpsuit for chilly winter days, tiny hats to go on a tiny head) has been a wonderful way to look forward to October.

This baby has begun to make its presence known tangibly. I wondered a few times whether the sensations I felt could signal a baby rolling around in my uterus, but on Monday, May 4, I knew with certainty that the bump I felt was the baby. A thrill of excitement ran through me - hello, baby! You're in there and you're real!

Grief is not a linear journey by any means. I was amazed at how immediately healing it was to be pregnant again after losing Wendell, but looking back even to that wonderful day in early February when we found out that I'm carrying another baby, I realize that that day was four months to the day from Wendell's birth. Four months between losing my dear second baby, my first son, and learning that my third baby was growing inside me, the size of a grain of rice. Four months is not a long time, not in the lifespan of grief. And it isn't that my grief has disappeared, but it has become much more bearable. The new life inside me is not a replacement baby, but does offer a sweet balm of healing and holds the promise that my arms will be filled with a baby soon. I'm looking forward to the process of giving birth so much, not because I think it will be easy or picture perfect, but because I'm holding on to the massive hope that at the end of the hard work of labor I'll get to hold my living, breathing child in my arms and cry tears of joy over his or her safe arrival into this world. 

I couldn't say that I've "recovered" from Wendell's death, but I also never felt that his death devastated me. It was immensely painful and felt very wrong, as I knew intuitively that his proper place was with me, his mother, and that anything else was against how things should be. But I didn't feel broken from losing him, no matter how desperately I missed him.

Grief has come and gone in waves. I don't cry much anymore when I remember Wendell, but it happens at times I don't expect. We've tried a new faith community lately and the first couple times I attended I felt a sense of Wendell's presence and fought back tears the entire time. I couldn't say what brought it about, he was just very close to me at that time.

I feel that Wendell's life and death have become integrated into who I am, into my life's story. With some distance from the initial loss I can see the path that I've been on that is due to his life and I feel enormous gratitude and peace. I can see how my son has taught me so much. I'm a better person because he existed and was real. I feel a great sense of honor that I was privileged to be his mother and to hold him in my body for his entire life. He was a special little being, one that was a part of me yet separate and unique in his own way. I don't believe that it was any god's purpose for Wendell to die, that it was for a greater good, yet I do believe that his death was not in vain and that his life was not meaningless. It was sacred and precious and he touched people who never got to meet him.

That's something I hold onto. And in talking to friends, I can see how he affected lives beyond my own, leading to spiritual growth.

I was talking to a dear friend recently and realized that this pregnancy feels like it's stretched on forever because in a sense, it feels like I've been pregnant since last March. Like I've been gestating for 14 months already and have four and a half yet to go. In fact, when I added up the time, I've been pregnant for about eleven of the last fourteen months. No wonder it feels like this has been a long, long journey towards the hope of a baby in my arms. 

When I was pregnant with Wendell and eagerly awaiting his arrival, I dreamed of nighttime snuggles, the bond of breastfeeding, carrying him with me everywhere -- but those longings weren't able to be fulfilled with his birth. His birth brought an absence rather than the constant presence that I hoped for. It feels like I've been longing for my arms to be filled for over a year and makes it seem that this pregnancy has stretched much longer than the 20 weeks that have passed. The presence of a baby in my life has been long awaited for years now; we anticipated a baby's creation years before Wendell was conceived. In truth, the longing to meet a living child has been over three years in the making.

As this tiny, thirteen ounce baby bumps around inside me, beginning to make his or her presence known as it grows bigger and stronger by the day, I feel that much more excited to hold this baby in my arms and give it the mama love I've been growing for years now. 

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