Burying Baby

Remembering it over and over, my soul is downcast.  –  Lamentations 3:20

My son’s name is Ian Brandon.  He was born on February 5, 2013, weighed eight pounds even, and was 19 inches long.  He was delivered by C-section four weeks early because the true size of his abdomen was difficult for our caregivers to judge.  Canal delivery would have been dangerous for us both.  I carried him for 36 weeks.  The day his father, my husband, met him and held him for the first time, Ian stayed with us for one bewildering hour.

He had a head full of dark hair, lips and nose like his father, and eyes tightly closed.  I unwrapped him twice while I held him, gently, curious about the size and color of his round belly.  In his father’s arms, he looked so perfect; the look on David’s face when he brought him out to me was the brightest thing I’d seen in months.

We learned the hard way how joy and sorrow dance together.  We first dove into parenthood with a boundless and naive form of joy, then sorrow threatened to crush us.  In time, we found we could create joy again, but I will never forget the day and the news that our baby would not survive.

October 24, 2012.

Nearly five months on and today we bury our baby.

I still carry him, from the music of his heartbeat to echoes of his head, hands and feet inside me.  My breasts still occasionally release a drop of milk or two.  My husband carries his own memories and we walk through this side by side, watching one another carefully and trying to understand each new type of grief we encounter.  I cannot find an order or pattern in it, so I breathe and lean in, hoping the next wave will be more familiar.

In two hours I will be in a car headed for the church.  Yesterday my family picked wildflowers.  We hiked Cathedral Hill and I realized that I would never protect this child from bees or poison oak, or witness him look up into the trees in wonder, or spot a deer and scare it away with gleeful noises.

My son is already gone to sleep.  We part with his remains today and it is no light thing.  I felt that little body’s weight on my chest the day it was pulled into the world.  For 36 weeks and an hour, that tiny body breathed, grew, and moved gently with life.  But, after today, he will rest deep in the earth.

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Burying Baby