I know that’s a weird thing to hear from me, but, really, it is.
Yes, it sucks, but these things happen. Yes, I’m crying a lot, especially when I see his pictures or think too hard about the teddy bear we sleep with now… but there are so many things that could have been worse, that could have made it more difficult, and when you’re surrounded by this much love and compassion, it’s hard to really feel sorry for yourself.
Not that I’m not giving it that good ol’ college try every now and again, but I don’t have to Live There. I let the tears come, I let the grief come, I let it cycle, and I let it go. This is what I have to do to get through this, and what I need to do to be there for the other people experiencing this grief.
Yes, I was the one carrying the little tyke, and the one that had to go through the labor and delivery, but I’ve not fooled myself for a moment by thinking that I’m the only one with a right to be affected by this loss. When you belong to a community, you feel the losses of that community, and they feel yours. I know this, and I don’t grudge anyone their own feelings. I think I’ll be ready for phone calls tomorrow, or if you’d like me to call you between naps, feel free to leave a comment.
Some interesting things about the birth:
Our friend Shelly delivered Toby at 5:44 pm. The doctor just didn’t make it in time to do the delivery, and I felt it was more appropriate anyway since she was the one who delivered Roux. Mom and Jae were there for most of the labor, and they hung around for quite some time after he was born. My bio-mother never attended any of my births except for Lili’s, and even then she was more interested in talking to the priest she hauled in there. Having my mom and my brother and my husband and Shelly there made me feel stronger and more loved than I think I ever have in labor.
Toby was 1 pound 12 ounces and 14 inches long. He was born breach, which is very normal for a birth at 30 weeks (didn’t have time to get into position), and the cause of demise was immediately evident: He had flipped around so much that he pinched the cord closed right at his belly button. The whole cord was twisted up like that. Besides that, he was perfect in every way – healthy and complete. The placenta, likewise, was in perfect condition. In a way, this makes it a little easier because no one can take blame for it. It was an accident, pure and simple, and although not common and impossible to predict or prevent, much easier to forgive.
He was smiling and peaceful when he was born. He had the most beautiful long slender fingers, and he had white hair! Not “buttery white” or “ashy-blonde”. WHITE. Eyebrows, eyelashes, all of it. He would have made a great snuggle-baby, and we did get to snuggle him a little.
When he was born, they handed him right to me, and we held him until the placenta was delivered by the doctor a few minutes later. Finally, it was time to let them clean him up, and they did a great job. The one thing I can say about the staff there was that they acted with the utmost compassion and sensitivity. They didn’t treat him like a corpse – they treated him like a baby. They cleaned him up and put him in a little cap and blanket, and they took his footprints and pressed his feet into a plaster cast. They took pictures of him, of his feet, of his hands… handprints… and they gave us all of these things in a little purple keepsake box along with a baby-angel pin and little booties and little tooth pillow and his hospital bracelets, plus a little surrogate-baby bear and a blanket. They worked to legitimize the birth AS a birth instead of marginalizing it strictly as a “stillbirth”.
And, interestingly enough, I found that most of the time, I was comforting other people through it – the nurses, the M.A.s, the doctor, even… I would be a hypocrit and an asshole if I didn’t allow my faith to comfort me in this time, and it served me amazingly well, so I will pass on the wisdoms I’m using to get through it.
We believe in reincarnation because only an asshole of a god would give you only one short lifetime to experience this amazing world we live in. Everything is recycled, and that applies to souls, too. In that light, Toby will always be able to look back on this lifetime and know that he was conceived, lived and died in absolute peace and love.
Everyone gets exactly the same amount of time: one lifetime. That may be a few weeks, a few months, or many, many years, but each life serves its purpose, either through its own actions or through it’s effects on other people’s lives. We were touched by him deeply, even without his external presence, and if that is all the purpose he had, he fulfilled it well.
In the pictures the hospital took of his hands, he was making the Hands of the Buddha (I’ll post them later), and that tells me that he was probably more aware of the whole of his purpose in this incarnation than any of us could conceive. And even if he wasn’t, it’s a comforting thought that, though I couldn’t hold him, I might’ve birthed the Buddha.
Or maybe that’s the meds talking. They’re starting to kick in, so I should sleep now.
Yes, I’ve been changed by this, but only in the ways that this should change me. I will cry sometimes when I see babies, but I won’t grudge anyone else their happiness. Though I hurt inside and part of me still wants to know what part of this is “fair”, I am at peace with what has happened.
The funeral will be on Saturday, probably mid-day depending on the weather, maybe sundown. It seems appropriate. Call if you want to arrange to be here. We’re holding it here at the house.