Sunday, April 11, 2010

A daughter of a daughter

We're all a daughter of a daughter, of course.
I can only go back to my great great grandmother, but I was the fifth generation to give birth to a baby girl. In four generations, on my mother's side, there had only ever been one boy, and he was the fourth after three sisters. I can't say that I expected to deliver a baby girl, but it would be fair to say that girls were all I ever knew, so it seemed like the order of the universe when that baby was born and she was the girl I suddenly realized I had always needed.
I go back to this moment, time and time again, and for those of us babylost who didn't know who we were waiting for, I'm sure we all remember it. The moment we realized, too late, who we had lost.
I always remember the light first, that cold, flat light with the rain pouring down outside. It was 2:14 when Charlotte was born, and in those first moments I clutched her to my chest and drank in her tiny face, amazed at the very fact that she was there. She looked so perfect to me, as I imagine everyone's baby looks to them, and it felt almost frantic inside of me, this rush of joy and amazement while knowing this baby was on her way towards leaving me.
But she was here, she was here. I held her to me as best I could with her cord still attached and coming out of me. I was bent over to make myself reach her, to allow myself to wrap my upper body around her, like I was trying to curl her back inside of me. Greg and I were weeping but we were amazed, we were astonished by her, and some of the fear had lifted.
Then I remember this, so clearly, I remember pulling back slightly and seeing her tiny knees, white and covered with vernix. Her little thighs were pressed together against my belly and her cord snaked sideways and down. I leaned back slightly and lifted her top leg and saw that she was a girl, and then suddenly there was this rush of incredible sadness, this amazing and huge new grief for her. Here she was, the daughter of a daughter of a daughter of a daughter of a daughter, the sister I had always wanted for my other children.
Had I really wanted a girl, I wondered, as this sudden sadness hit me? Was this something I had repressed? In the moment, I decided that yes, all along I must have really longed for a little girl, and here she was, and I ached for her. Looking back, I redefine this for myself, because I think that what really happened is that suddenly I saw my life with her when I realized who she was. Instead of being the nameless, sexless baby who made my belly do flip-flops and kept me up at night, she was suddenly Charlotte Amelia, who would have been my daughter. She would have been the eldest child, the big sister, just like I was. In that moment, she became. And in that moment, I realized who I had lost.
She was still there, but I wanted her back.
I still do.


Shannon said...

I want my Isabella back too. My first baby, my first daughter. It's hard to believe it's been almost 3 years. Like you said in a previous post something like, "I never thought I would be able to go on". But obviously I didn't die even though I felt like it at times, that my heart would surely stop from the pain.

We can only go forward. But never forget.

Never forget.

Hope's Mama said...

Again I relate so much. I never knew the gender, but I had always suspected boy. Truth was though, I always really wanted a girl. I think I just thought boy to protect myself in case it was a boy, and I was disappointed. Of course I wouldn't have been, either way. The true disappointment, not that that word even does the situation justice was her death.
I can still hear Simon exclaiming "It's a girl!" with the excitement of any new parent. You wouldn't have known it in his voice that she was already gone.
I so hope to have another girl some day, that daughter I always dreamed of.

dude said...

Delia was the girl I never knew I wanted, and will always wish I still had. I am still amazed at how quickly my mind was able to go from 'A GIRL'? (after 3 boys)to her as a toddler, a schoolgirl, her wedding day. As the days passed in the hospital those moments changed, until they were all gone and I was left with only letting her go.
I ache for her, and I weep for her and also for Holly, the girl who gets a damaged mother, a mother who didn't, doesn't and never will look at her and feel such reckless abandon at the prospect of her future.