Six months today since you died quietly and slipped away. The beautiful body you left behind wasn’t you, it was broken from missing you just as we are. Why did you go baby girl? We still don’t know everything, and unfortunately, we never will. We know a few facts- you’re cord was judged slightly shorter than average by a doctor not much older than me and it’s not in the records. It was wrapped around your neck, one arm and one leg. But it left no marks, or indentations of any kind on any part of your body, this is in the records. There was a membrane infection missed and untreated. The placenta’s reaction would have been to release chemical meditators which are known to decrease blood flow and cardiac activity in a baby. But that doesn’t tell us the real whys, or how long it took, how you felt. It leaves us with so many questions, and a hard time accepting the conclusions we are left to come to alone. There is one fact that can’t be questioned or picked apart- we love you as much today as we did then, and always will.
Yea, it doesn’t seem that long to me. Every day is long and hard to get through, but once gone, it just adds to the blur of time elapsed since I kissed my daughter for the last time. Did I come home from the hospital a couple nights ago, or a couple years ago?
My birthday, fifteen days from Ember’s. I wanted everyone to ignore it, but that didn’t happen. Especially not once my SD realized my birthday was coming. There’s no explaining to an eight year old why presents wouldn’t cheer someone up when they’re sad. Two months after her birth I went back home for the first time without her. This trip had been planned with her in mind months before, but now the party for everyone to meet my girl didn’t exist. David’s birthday, two months after mine just wondering how time kept on moving. Even worse because last year, his daughters moved away with their mother only a few days before his birthday and we’d made a big deal that this year he’d be holding one of his daughters at least as a sweetest present. The glaring absence was overwhelming. Halloween, would she have been a bunny, or a little fairy? Being too little to go trick or treating wouldn’t have kept us from celebrating her first holiday and taking adorable pictures of her by the dozens. Thanksgiving, watching all the “babies” run around, my sister and cousins, not much more than babies but not the baby who should have stolen the show as the first in a few years. Christmas, sick with dread of it for weeks and then it came. The pure white snow crushed me even deeper, there was no escaping Christmas. New Year’s, how can it be 2011 when Ember lived and died in 2010? These dates, and the seventh of every month marking another month gone, another month older, have kept my heart aware of the passing time, breaking it as it dragged me further and further through time. But all the days in between? They just pile on top of each other, going no further into the calendar, one just replacing the next.
These last few weeks have been harder than I really expected. As Christmas suddenly loomed in my face, the calmness I’d found in the weeks before became a deeper struggle to maintain. New Year’s took me out again, and now I’ve realized half a year has passed since saying good-bye to Ember. The triple effect of these days so close together has me licking my wounds. A friend’s told me the six month mark is often around the time the reality really hits, and you can’t hide from it anymore. Something about the HALF OF A YEAR part is kicking me when I’m already down and surrendered.
Ember was born at 37 weeks, 1day. That’s one week into the ninth month. Thirteen months exactly since finding out she was coming. Six months of missing her since she left. In just a few months, she’ll have been dead longer than she lived. My mind just screams at this, it’s not possible, or right. Only seven months together. That’s not a lifetime, and it’s not enough time to love someone. It’s crushing to know someone IS the other half of your heart and they’re gone before they come into your arms. It’s meeting your soul mate just in time for them to die in your arms. It’s being forever denied.
She’ll never be two with dark curls squealing no at everything. No first tooth, or steps. She’ll never be four, breaking my heart by starting preschool and growing up too fast. Never shiver with excitement petting a bunny or riding a horse. She’ll never be eight, the same age her big sister is now. I’ll never take her shopping for her first dance dress, or embarrass her by chaperoning. Never be sixteen to terrify us with driving. Or eighteen and leaving for college with us left behind, proud and worried every day. She’ll never be eighteen, my age when I carried her. Or nineteen, the birthday without her. She’ll never be thirty with her own house and husband and kids.
When I was eight months pregnant, I waddled around Babies R Us with my mom and sister to update my registry. While digging through all the different models of room to room moniters trying to decide which I liked best, I noticed one single box that was different, pushed behind all the others, not out of place just unnoticed or wanted. I wanted it though, very much. It was an at home fetal heartbeat monitor. I’d never heard of any baby saved by using one, or any baby who could have been. Everything I’d read and been told said that eight months into a pregnancy with a healthy baby an at-home monitor was a silly indulgence that wouldn’t even get much use before she was born, and unreliable at that, they caused undue stress for the parents and unnecessary trips to the OB and hospital. So after mooning over it for a while, I moved on. And forgot about it soon enough. Professional quality ones are much more expensive, but you can rent them by the week or month. Could it have saved my daughter’s life? Maybe. But we’ll never know now. Pregnant mothers’ are a world wide joke. Every comedian has a couple lines about the irrational worrying and behavior of them. First time mothers’ bear the brunt of this, even from the medical community who will chuckle over a woman’s desperate, heartfelt worries. And teen mothers’ are no ones ideal of motherhood. Of age, married, well-spoken and well-read, I escaped a good part of this by simply not being your average idea of a teen mom, and by having an older husband who couldn’t be cowed as I could. I impressed most of my care-givers with my knowledge of the in’s and out’s that often thought they’d have to explain, but the bar is set so very low. I went out of my way to be clear and direct with concerns to avoid as much as of the patronizing as I could. At best, they pet you and patronize you when they don’t care about what you’re saying.
How many times was I told it was normal for a baby to stop large movements as you went farther into the 3rd trimester? At my last ultrasound, they couldn’t make her move her shoulder, neck or head at all, or admittedly see them well. It’d been a week or so before that that I really noticed her movements slow down. She was just too big too, I was repeatedly told. My daughter was five pounds, eleven ounces at birth. Too big?
Pregnancy means loving, protecting and caring for a delicate, needing child while blind and deaf with hands tied. You can’t look them over, or put your finger under their nose to check breathing, or run a thermometer across their temple. You can’t hear their whimpers or stand over their bed at night just to check in.
So why are the jokes about pregnancy worries so amusing to so many people, often moms and dads themselves? It’s part of The Myth. The Myth that preterm labor can’t steal your child’s chance at life, that late fetal death doesn’t happen to those that are good, and kind and smart. That stillbirth happens in third world countries and women who use drugs. That your labor can’t go from painful, scary and thrilling to hell on earth. That your child can’t die from water on their brain, or mal-formed lungs within minutes of their birth.
The myth's a lie of course. Every day, it happens.