Late night veg + hummus snack last night.  Making good choices instead of eating all the dessert.  Sore hips, sore back, squirmy baby.  Not easy to get comfortable in bed and stay asleep between the aches, the anxiety, and the anticipation.  What a ride.

Yoga has helped.  Prayer has too, in whatever form it has taken lately.  And staying busy as much as my body will allow.  Short trips out in the heat.  Planning as many errands as possible during the cooler morning hours.  Dips in the pool when I feel myself getting too hot after watering the lawn or walking the dog.

And I have pre-delivery nerves like crazy these days.

Beyond 35 weeks is new territory.

My feelings have been ALL OVER THE PLACE lately, reverberating the realization that we had delivered, held, and lost Ian by now.  Occasionally, I call D by I’s name because I think about our first boy so much. My body is tired, mind fatigued, and heart sore from jumping between joy and fear.

With D we’ve progressed farther, the weather is hotter, and all signs indicate we’re far more likely to have a third person at home in four weeks.  But I know that can still change:  there are surprised grieving mothers everywhere.  Today there’s a baby being born earlier than expected, with complications.  So it’s time to send some more good vibes and approach the great paradox, the abundance and precariousness of life, with reverence.


A Glimpse of The Marvelous Structure

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.  It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. . . . I am satisfied with the mystery of the eternity of life and with the awareness and a glimpse of the marvelous structure of the existing world.”

– Albert Einstein

A Glimpse of The Marvelous Structure

Moving Away

We’re moving.  Finally.

We’re relocating to the south Texas coast:  H to a new job with a bigger company, and I resigned my job at the library to prepare.

I’ve been tapping down exactly how much I wanted this.  It wasn’t helpful to want a move when there were no prospects in sight.  Instead, I enjoyed my new job and new friends; I gave up worrying when we’d get away.

But now we’re definitely moving.  To a new neighborhood, road, grocery store.  A fresh state to wash sour memories out of our mouths and set the positive ones.  A big body of water and coastal breezes to refresh us.

Everything is right around the corner:  the surveyor came Friday and made a list of our belongings for the moving company.  I re-homed the fish and cleaned extra papers out of the office.  Laundry is rolling, vacuum is cooling down, suitcases await, packages were sent and received, and new lists are made every day.  I’ve attached the top, sides, and zipper to the pouf.  The cat and dog eye me nervously while I bustle around at home instead of going to work.

Now, because the company is paying for our move, we’re just waiting for the paperwork to push through this week.  Then H will fly up, we’ll pack the car while they pack the house, and take a road trip south to learn a new city’s streets, close on the house, find a new doctor, help the pets adjust, host a horde of visitors from Oregon, pick new favorite eateries, and make new friends.

Moving Away

Trying It On, Taking It Off

Have you ever tried on a belief and subsequently wanted to take it off again?

I tried on a belief that would put me more in line with the Church – I studied its logic, even said it out loud to someone dear – but it’s not sticking.  In fact, it feels awful knowing I said it without meaning it, and worse knowing I said it in an effort to belong.  Thankfully this person is forgiving.

What I’m certain of:  I’m not 100% in line with the Church and I doubt I ever will be.  I am certain I am not alone:  polling data among Catholics proves that.

Instead of continuing to worry about it, I mean to stay focused on a practical application of the positive things I picked up in church:  to live rightly, with joy, compassion, and forgiveness.

After all, right living is what’s most important.  I believe what a person shows me over what they say.  For love is dead without deliberate action.  It doesn’t happen by accident or wishes.

Trying It On, Taking It Off

Handwritten Notes

It’s been some time.

I’ve celebrated my birthday, travelled to the Great Lakes and¬†returned, and¬†received handwritten notes¬†since I last published, each reminding me how sweet it is to be and have loved ones.

Each day, especially those containing a direct reminder, I should adjust my focus and remember¬†everyone needs something different from their friends.¬† Some need quality time; others need words; still others need hugs.¬†¬†A shorter drive may be more convenient than a long flight, but no easier or more important. ¬†I am called to meet my friends’ needs I can as best I’m able, in the moment, whatever the distance, no matter how much or little I want back.

Of course, I knew this already.¬† But bringing my friendship vocation to life¬†through phone calls and¬†handwritten notes is the part on which I need to work. ¬†I can’t love someone without showing them, still¬†expecting them to stick around indefinitely.

So I strike a deal with myself to meet the needs of my friends better, more often, without condition.

Handwritten Notes

Tiny Noises

Ian made two small sounds in the delivery room, but I can’t hear them anymore. I knew my memories would fade, slip a little, as all memories do, but I’m surprised how quickly some of the details have dissipated.

I never could come up with the right word to describe his first and only two sounds. If they were squeaks or squawks, they were the smallest, softest ones I’ve ever known. If they were cries, there was no force behind them, as if he knew he didn’t have the breath to spare.

Occasionally I pray to dream about Ian’s birthday, that in my sleep I will feel the blurred rapture of finally seeing his face and hearing those two tiny noises. It felt so strange to set his birthday, unkind to sleep the night before, and bewildering to finally hold him.

When they laid Ian on my chest while surgery continued, I hardly understood what was happening. I wanted my baby there on top of me, but I didn’t know what to do with my arms. He was so close to my face; it was surprising and confusing. When David picked him up and cradled him next to me, it began to feel so natural: our little family falling into place. He barely breathed when he was first delivered and became so still in the recovery room during the following hour that I have no idea exactly when he died. Truthfully, I don’t need to know; I was so happy that his death was peaceful after the ups and downs of that winter.

Last September I was getting used to being pregnant. Learning what to eat first thing in the morning to settle the nausea. How to sit up in bed without feeling faint. David and I were thrilling at the fact that we had made a new person. And it had been so fast!

This September I wonder what other stories lay before Ian, in an alternate future where his condition was misdiagnosed and he came home with us in good health. Now, those stories matter little in real life. Ian wasn’t given any of those paths and, as a result, his reward is already sealed. Meanwhile, David and I are still here, and we still miss him.

Those two noises weren’t mewling or coughing, squalling or screeching. Ian barely parted his lips and out came something, twice, which I hadn’t dared expect he’d be able to do. Two tiny miracles.

We heard his real voice that day, so I don’t want to imagine I hear him in the wind and the rain. But I wouldn’t mind the memories sticking around a little longer.

Tiny Noises

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.

Burying Baby