Her

My belly is getting bigger, and we continue to prepare for her arrival.

It is becoming more and more real, and evident in the changes that are happening in our home, that we are expecting a child. Another beautiful and amazing child.

A room for her. A dresser for her. A crib for her. Yet almost all the things that fill the room are things that were her brother’s. I can’t help but feel like it’s cheating. Or that we’ve forgotten about him. And at the same time I want to give her all the light and love and celebration for who she is and what she brings us. Bipolar living, a crazy duality of the happiness and grief, continues to be the main theme of her pregnancy. Sometimes I wonder how all these thoughts affect her, but I remember to tell her how much we love her and look forward to meeting her. Everyday we talk to her.

Everyday I picture her inside my belly, her heart beating and my heart beating, once in a while synchronizing. I picture what she looks like. I wonder how much she will look like her brother.

She moves so much. Very unlike her brother. Ever since I could first feel her movements. We’ve joked about how she has world cup fever.

And then today happened.

She wasn’t moving like she normally does. I noticed this afternoon that she had slowed down a bit. I waited some time, then told Gina. We tried ice water, some fruit, laying on my side. Still nothing. Gina and I looked at each other and I attempted to not be on full alarm, but I was.

After an hour of trying to get her to move and only feeling a light tap here and there, we decided to go to the hospital. I know we both panicked, you can’t help but have those moments of PTSD when you’ve lost a child.

So, we headed to the hospital, alerted our doctor, who immediately said “I’m sure she is fine, but yes, go get monitored and be reassured and please keep me posted”.

Have I mentioned how much we love this doctor? How amazing it feels to have a perinatologist that supports us, acknowledges Luca, and wants nothing more than to have us get to the other side of this pregnancy with our little girl alive in our arms? He doesn’t judge our freak outs and he shows nothing but nonjudgemental support.

We checked into triage, and the wait time seemed forever to get into a room. A nurse finally called our name, and brought us to the bed and left. It was likely a short time, but seemed like another eternity.  Another nurse came by and introduced herself as the one who would be running the monitoring. At this point, both Gina and I were whale-eyed, just wanting to be hooked up already.

As she was placing the straps on my belly, I started to hear the whooshing of baby’s heartbeat, and I think both Gina and I began to breathe again. A bit shaken up, I told the nurse that we came in to be monitored, and that we were hyper-sensitive because we had lost our first born.

She paused. Her name was Jen. She proceeded to ask us questions about the pregnancy and about Luca. She teared up listening to us recount his birth. She had a 10 month old baby girl.  She was compassionate, and empathetic. All the while hooking me up, looking at the baby’s movements, and reassuring us that everything looked good.

She immediately turned a stressful situation into a time to connect, and make two bereaved parents, feel secure and understood.

And baby girl looked good. Her heartbeat and movement looked great. She must have gotten herself in a funky position which made her movements not as easy to feel, which is what caused us to panic.

I am hoping she returns to her normal routine of world cup fever, immediately.

We came back home, and I walked into her room. Reminded again of what we have, what we had, and what we so hopefully and graciously, wait for. And tonight, we actually worked on our baby registry; something we had shy-ed away from for quite some time, is now existing. Granted it’s online, and we didn’t have to walk into a store to do it, but still, it’s a huge step for us, because we are looking forward. We are preparing for her now.

Her brother's books, now passed down to her.

Her brother’s books, now passed down to her.

 

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My Sweet Luca

My Sweet Lord- George Harrison

The first time I really heard this song, like really heard it and paid attention to it, was in the lobby of a yoga studio, heading into class.

I heard it and I felt a sense of relief, of my heart expanding out of my chest. I wanted to sing along, or at least hum it. I cried tears of understanding.

I’ve never been a big believer in the ideas behind organized religion. Growing up Catholic, the kind that makes the mandatory biannual Christmas and Easter visits to church, I never felt any sort of connection to the stories, or the guy that my mother or her sisters would refer to in the “ay dios mio” sense when talking about something shocking. I’m still not a believer of organized religion. I’ve seen members of my own family become brainwashed into extreme religion that started with seemingly harmless joining of multi-level marketing businesses, and others sucked in to the idea of a better life and end up becoming the exact opposite of what I would imagine Jesus Christ would really teach.

Even when I heard that Luca wasn’t going to make it, I didn’t automatically think to pray. Maybe it’s because I had already seen the bad things that the prayers could never seem to fix, and good things that just seemed to happen without any prayer at all being involved. I don’t really remember what went through my mind at all the very first time I heard. I think I felt as if I was dreaming a horrible nightmare, and that everything would be fine when I woke up.

I always had an inclination that whatever was meant to happen, would. If I thought prayers would have helped, I would have fell to the ground on my hands and knees, and begged for him to stay. I would have traded anything for the chance to have him live his life, here on earth. I would do anything to have him here and hold him while he cried all night if he needed to, through the sleep deprivation, through the growing pains and teething. Any of it, I would have prayed for, if it would have actually helped.

I don’t know why, at that moment in the lobby of that yoga studio, when I heard George Harrison’s voice sing ‘My Sweet Lord‘, I felt that instant connection. A connection not to what the song said as ‘my lord’ as it relates to Jesus, but instead, to the universe. It was a fleeting one, but there I stood, grounded, like I had an idea as to why I was here.

That moment happened just before I got pregnant with Luca.

The song became a part of Luca’s birth playlist.

That same song I play for her. I cry. You couldn’t possibly be surprised. This is my story. My story is one filled with tears, and that’s part of how I deal with and process the death of my son. It is likely that my eyes will always start to well up when I think of how much I miss him. That’s part of my movement through it.  I shed tears for the moments I will never have with Luca, and those that I only hope to have with her. I change the words around and I sing it, to him.

“I really want to see you 
Really want to be with you
Really want to see you 
But it takes so long, my son

 

 

16 months

July 10, 2014.

It’s been 16 months. Today wasn’t as hard of a 10th as I stayed busy at work. I teared up a bit when a song from Luca’s birth playlist came on, and I looked at our family picture.

That one beautiful picture we have, where we are holding and kissing him.

He’s never far from my thoughts. There isn’t a minute of my day where my stream of thinking doesn’t meander back to my son.

But as her arrival approaches, I spend less time doing the rituals I had done everyday, and guilt comes over me for it.

I don’t ever want to feel that far away from him that I don’t include him in my day, or honor him, or talk to him, or send him my love.

I would do all of that, had he lived, so why really, should it change simply because his physical body left?

I struggle with internal dialogue and dilemma as a bereaved parent. And I try, I do, to let it continue to pry me right open, in the hopes I can continue to expand and make the best damn lemonade out of these beautiful bitter lemons life has given me.

But. I settle down at the end of my day, no longer in busy mode. The 10th.

I can’t help but ache.

Over losing Luca, over being cut wide open with the immense loss of my son and life as I thought it was about to be. Being present, understanding now the image of holding Luca in my arms with his toes touching the ocean water for the very first time, is just a daydream. That wasn’t part of his story. It wasn’t part of my story. That, like so many images I had conjured up in my mind, will never happen, with him.

One can’t help to hold onto a daydream now and again.

I know he wasn’t a daydream. I know he existed. I know most of our loved ones are his loved ones.

Today I was reminded when I came home from work, and in our living room, for the first time since we moved last June, were all of his books. I have just touched these books twice since Luca died.

I open them up and read the inscriptions from our friends to our unborn son, and I feel the love all over again.

16 months later. With so much more love on the horizon. With all the books that we hope to read to his sister, staring me in the tear streaked face.

I miss you Luca. Thank you for choosing us to be your mamas. Thank you for blessing us with your sister. Like all your aunts and uncles said- your mamas love you so much.

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Groundhog’s Day

Every morning I get on my phone and open up the app that tells me how many more days until I meet this little miracle. Like groundhog’s day the scene replays itself, I give an internal sigh, coming to the realization that the days move by-one by one, and sometimes that I have already checked the damn app that day already, and that I’m staring at the same exact number.

And everyday I wonder what it will finally be like to hold my living, breathing child.

And the fear sets in. Mostly when I am alone with my thoughts. Especially at 3 in the morning, when I don’t want to wake my love up.

She gets up every morning and makes me breakfast, gets my lunch packed for me, and then takes care of everything that needs to be done. She builds, she crafts, and creates, she nourishes me and baby, she protects us. Sometimes I wonder how I got so lucky.

She honors her son. She calls me her baby maker. We sort of joke, and get lost a little in the irony, of how I’ve now been pregnant for close to 16 months. We wait longingly, together, for baby miracle to arrive. She watches my ever expanding body continue to house her babies, and she loves me for it.

She lays her head on my belly and waits to get kicked in the head. I daydream about her holding our baby, taking baby girl for a walk together. Being the proud mamas of this baby girl here, and her older brother in eternity. Those women who go on in this world, who from the outside, appear to be holding one baby in their arms, but are invisibly embracing and loving two in their hearts.

We go to bed, and I wake up at 3 am. And groundhog’s day repeats itself. Inching closer ever so slowly until the day when a dream becomes a reality.

I hope.

Holding

Holding onto hope.