Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sometimes I think you were too good to be true, Luke.

By far, you were the easiest pregnancy I've ever heard of.  Ever.  And everyone I knew agreed.  I couldn't believe how lucky I was that you were such a gift.  It started when we started trying to get pregnant.  It was practically unbelievable that we'd only been trying for a month when I took that positive test.  I'll admit, at first I was terrified.  I couldn't believe how lucky we were.  And how simple it was for us.  I'd gone into the process with a grain of salt, knowing that not everyone does this easily.  Especially at our ages.  I fully expected this to take a year--maybe longer.  Or not at all.  I was ready for whatever happened, though.  But when I realized how late I was, I knew it was time.  I was shocked.  And scared.  But so happy and excited.  When I told Daddy I needed to take a test...I made him look at it first.  I've never felt those feelings of excitement in my life.  I cried, but I was so happy. 

I hate that writing about this now is making me cry tears of sadness...

Those first few months weren't fabulous.  I was nauseous a lot.  A LOT.  I didn't like food.  It was insane.  I lost almost 12 pounds that first three months.  But I never threw up.  Not once.  I know people who had morning sickness their entire pregnancies.  They'd run to the bathroom all day.  Not me.  Sure, I had nausea.  And I couldn't eat pretty much anything.  But it wasn't that bad.  And it went by before I knew it.

And then there were the completely uneventful doctor appointments.  At our first ultrasound at 8 weeks, they found your heartbeat right away.  You were so tiny.  But your heartbeat was perfect.  And it always was--at every appointment.  The NT ultrasound was perfect too.  The tech had me drink some REAL coffee to wake you up though--cause you were facing a weird direction and she couldn't make you move to get your measurements, etc.  But everything was awesome.  And so it went.  Every appointment.  The doc declared that I was having the "most boring pregnancy ever!," which was a good thing, apparently.  I'd lost weight in the beginning, which was good for me, being a bit overweight to begin with.  I wasn't even blowing up like some people do.  It was perfect.

There was that silly gestational diabetes test that I freaked out about.  I failed the first one.  I'd eaten watermelon for breakfast like an idiot.  I convinced the doctor to let me take it again, and I failed AGAIN.  by like, 5 points.  So I had to take the 3-hour test.  It was torture, but in the end, it turned out I didn't even have gestational diabetes either.  Again, we were perfect.

Then there was the appointment that Friday before we lost you on Sunday.  It was perfect too.  I'd only gained 6 pounds over my starting weight.  The doctor put the doppler on my tummy, and yep, there you were again.  And we were so close.  SO CLOSE, Luke.  I was 1cm dilated already, and we were told you could be coming "any day now." 

Everything went perfectly.  And yet somehow, we still lost you. 

I think that's what makes this the hardest.  There was nothing that prepared us for this.  With a pregnancy that easy and that perfect...for something like this to happen at 39 weeks, when you should've just been with us, it's the most unbelievable thing in the world.  How?  Why?  How could there be NO signs?  How and when did you get so wrapped up in your cord?  Why couldn't it have waited until you were ready to come out?  You would've had a chance...

Even labor, after we found out we'd already lost were perfect. I was so scared of actually giving birth, being a first time Mom, but in reality, it turned out to be nothing compared to the mental and emotional pain we were going through.  I was induced from 1cm.  I was given Cytotec, Pitocin, and an epidural--all things that I was scared of before going into this.  And yet honestly, it was nothing.  Nothing compared to losing you. 

I wish there was something that would've prepared us for this.  But at the same time, I just have to thank you, Luke.  For being so perfect to me while we were together.  You give me hope that  I can do this again.  Someday. 

I just wish you could be here when we get there. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

There are so many things I hope you know,  Luke.  Or come to know from wherever you are.

You were SO wanted.  So very wanted.

I know that when we first found out we were pregnant with you, I really wanted you to be a girl.  So much.  When I found out that you were a boy at that ultrasound, it took some adjustment for me to be excited.  For some reason I never saw myself having a boy as our first child.

I can't tell you how much that hurts me to think about now.  How stupid it was--to think that way.  You were a blessing.  Whatever you turned out to be.

So many people were waiting for your arrival.  Obviously, Daddy and me were the most excited.  But you have SO MANY people in your family, Luke, who couldn't wait to meet you.  Nana and Grandpa.  Nana was so excited to take care of you when I would go back to work.  Grandpa couldn't wait until you were able to play catch with him. Vovó couldn't wait to see your sweet face.  Grandpa Ken was excited all the way from Virginia.  Your Aunties...Ali, Lauren, and Lauryn...they couldn't WAIT to spoil you.  Everyone wanted to babysit you.  Uncle Chris couldn't wait to turn you into a Dodgers fan, and Uncle Andy would have taught you how to play guitar.  Uncle Pooter couldn't wait to have you as his permanent baby model--All he wanted to do was take adorable pictures of you.  And they would've been SO perfect, too.

And PJ was going to be your best friend.  Sure, she's a dog.  But she was finally getting used to seeing the stroller and your carseat and your toys laying around.

Mommy and Daddy's big extended families were waiting for you too.  And our friends.  And our work families.  When they say "It takes a village," I truly believe that your Daddy and me have that village.  And now all we're missing is you.

Literally the day before you left us, Daddy and I had finally breathed a sigh of relief--we were finally ready for you to come home.  Sure, we'd procrastinated a lot--but at almost 39 weeks, we finally made it.  And I was so glad you decided not to make an early appearance like so many other babies.  We'd gotten so much laundry done for you, and the rocker finally came in and we picked it up.  The car seats were installed in both of our cars.  I cleared out a space in the kitchen cabinet for your bottles, and I'd sanitized them already. The baby monitor was set up and we'd tested it out--it was so cool--we could watch you from our iphones.  We could watch you sleeping or giggling from wherever we were.

I had finally packed my bag for the hospital and loaded music on my ipod.  I had a nursing bra and pajamas, and the house was as  clean as it was going to be.  

I know it took me and your Daddy a little bit longer than most parents to be ready for you...I hope you didn't sense that.  Because by that Friday, we were there.  All we needed was you in our arms, and we'd be complete.

Instead, now we're left with empty arms and your empty room, and a gaping hole in our hearts.  And all  I can ask myself is "Why?"  Why did this happen to you?  To us?  To all of us?  Seeing so many other people with their babies hurts me so much.  I keep telling myself "It's not fair."  Somehow people have kids who are "accidents."  And they're fine.  This is the most unfair thing that's ever happened to me.  I remember when we were kids--We used to complain to our Mom and Dad that something wasn't fair.  And my Dad would always say "Life's not fair--You better get used to it."  Somehow...I don't think this is what he was thinking.

I was robbed.  I feel like you were stolen out of me.  You were stolen from your family.  We were robbed of the privilege of being your parents in this world.

I  know we'll always be your Mommy and Daddy.  But that doesn't take away the pain that we'll never get to know what kind of person you'd grow into.  That we'll never get to cuddle or hug you.  I'm so glad that we did get a chance to hold you at the hospital, even if it wasn't while your spirit was still with us.  It's the closest we'll ever get to you, and I hope you know how much that means to us.  I wish I could hug you every day...but until we meet again, those short cuddles will have to do.    

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A letter from your Aunt Ali

Yesterday, it was creamy oatmeal with butter on a cool, almost-fall morning.

The day before that, it was the sound of your Uncle Andy quietly playing guitar in the other room while I was working.

Today, it was the warm, sloppy morning kisses from Muffin, your furry Boston terrier cousin.

These are the kinds of things that catch me off-guard and break my heart a little more each day since you left us.

They're simple, everyday things that I never thought much about before, never paused over, never really appreciated as much as I should have. But now I think of you constantly, and these tiny facets of life overwhelm me as the things you never got to experience. This is incomprehensibly unfair.

When I notice these things, my sorrow bubbles up and often spills out of my eyes, and I feel a thick lump in my throat. Sometimes it's a wonder to me that I can continue standing when there is obviously a bowling ball in my chest that wasn't there before.

But underneath all that sadness, Luke, there's something else I didn't expect, and I know it's a gift from you.

A sense of peace.

The days after your death were the darkest our family has ever experienced. We all felt lost and desperate. Not only did we each feel a very personal loss of our son, grandson, nephew, but we also had to witness the terrible grief of the people we loved the most in the world. It was double-stuffed grief. I wished for Doc Brown to show up with his DeLorean and take us back to September 7, when your mom was at the doctor and you were simply, perfectly, alive! Maybe we could've warned someone, Luke, so that all of us could've experienced your birth the way we had imagined it instead of the way it turned out to be.

(Doc Brown, by the way, is a character from the popular '80s movie Back to the Future—he turned a funny-looking car into a time machine. I know you would've liked this movie, and your daddy would've bought you Converse sneakers like the ones the other main character, Marty McFly, wore. Those are your daddy's favorite shoes.)

There are no time machines outside of Hollywood movies, though. So we found ourselves stuck here in the present, with our hearts ripped out and our arms achingly empty and our minds completely incapable of believing what had happened to you. I am trying to put it into words but there's really no way, except maybe to say it was H-E-double hockey sticks.

I know you're probably wondering where the sense of peace comes in. Hang on; I'm getting there. In case you haven't noticed yet, your auntie is verbose.

A couple of days after your mom and dad came home from the hospital, I was driving over to their house in Grandma's old Caravan. It was about 100 degrees, and her car has no air conditioning, so I had the windows down and the hot Southern California air was blowing on my face. While sitting at a light, I was distracting myself by punching the radio station buttons, trying to find something decent to listen to. And on the third station I tried, I heard Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (aka Iz) strumming his ukulele and singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow".

I couldn't believe I was hearing it at first. It's not a song that often gets played on the radio, in my experience. In fact, I can't recall ever hearing it on the radio before. It was like someone had just turned on the soundtrack to the movie of my life, and I knew instantly that I was meant to be sitting in the hot, old car at that moment hearing that song. It was like a big, warm hug from the universe. I finally felt permission to let go.

My stomach and heart had been in knots ever since I got the call about you on Sunday afternoon. It seemed each moment that followed brought a new trial that I just couldn't believe I would pass. I wanted to collapse and disappear, and yet I knew I had to be with my sister (your mommy). So there was the phone call to the airline, throwing clothes in a suitcase, frantically driving to the airport, saying good-bye to your uncle, going through security, getting on a plane. That part felt hard because it involved a lot of activity, but the two-hour plane ride was a million times harder because all I had to do was sit and think about you and what had happened and how everything was suddenly, painfully, different.

And that was only the beginning.

Then there was the hospital, and the heartbroken faces of everyone I love, and your mommy having to do something nobody should ever have to do in a just world. There were crying nurses and doctors, and a chaplain in his uniform, and finally you in your mommy's arms, perfect but still. And there were your daddy's eyes, which should have been filled with pride, but they were filled with tears instead. None of it seemed real, but it hurt for real, until it seemed I couldn't feel anything anymore.

But then Iz was singing about trouble melting like lemon drops, and even though nothing was okay, I suddenly knew that somehow, everything would be okay. I don't know how, and I don't know when. I just know that this grief-filled place is not the end, and I believe you're the reason this peaceful feeling washed over me.

No, there's no time machine so that we can go back and keep you from getting tangled up in your cord. There's no way to give you the life you should have had. There's no way to erase the pain your mommy and daddy, and all of us, will live with for the rest of our lives. There's no going anywhere but forward now, and forward sometimes feels like a big, black hole full of unknown monsters.

But maybe there is peace simply for the reason that the worst has happened, and we're still here. It feels like the peace that washes over the battlefield when the battle is done, or the stillness that fills the sky after an explosive thunderstorm, or the quiet that follows a great earthquake.   

This doesn't mean that there won't be aftershocks. I know we will feel those all the time, for a long time to come. We'll still cry for you every time we see something that reminds us of you. We'll think of you on holidays, when you should've been with us, and on regular days, when you really should've been with us. We'll wonder why, and we'll be afraid, and we'll long for ourselves the way we were before this happened, all full of hope and naïve trust in our charmed lives. We will be crazy people, because, as the pastor said, this is crazy-making stuff.

Still, I can't shake the feeling that you're just somewhere over the rainbow, and it's not so terribly far from where we are. And birds fly over the rainbow…so why, oh why, can't I?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Last night was the first night since you were born that I haven't spontaneously been awake at 5:23 am--the exact minute you were born.  Every day before today, I've woken up for no reason.  It's impossible for me to wake up at ANY given time, usually.  But you did something to me.  It's like your daily reminder--that you're still here, somehow.  The first few days, I woke up, looked at the clock, and started bawling.  It's gotten easier.  The night before last, I woke up, looked at the clock, and just kissed Daddy on the shoulder and went back to sleep. 

I miss you.  I should have been waking up in the middle of the night to feed you--not to cry at the remembrance of you.

But I already feel like you're fading away from me.  And in a way, that's the last thing I want.