Thursday, June 2, 2011

Thinking of Charlotte...

My grandfather, who just turned 88, with Maeve
Liam, while I clean up from dinner...

The dust is settling, I suppose.
It's hard to imagine it as dust, unless I picture it as pink, sparkly fairy dust, glittering through the sky as it falls on the now-brown lilacs and the bright green leaves and grass and shoots of new life that surround me. This is a beautiful thing, it is.
It's always different, isn't it. This time, I expected and feared what happened after Fiona's birth: a menacing, haunting sort of post-traumatic episode, where I would wake in the night and fear for my baby's life, where I would feel ghostly and empty if I were out of arm's reach for her, where I was rendered incapable of sharing her with just about anyone, including her father.
This time, while her scent draws me to her, and while I lie mesmerised by her in the half-light of the nightlight in the wee hours, it feels different. This little baby is surrounded by the love of so many people-- by my own, by her father's, and by the true and very devoted love of her siblings, and somehow this time I am wanting to share her at times. When I see the true love that Liam and Aoife have for her, and realize that this is truly a gift for Maeve, I am glad to lie her in their arms, safely confined on our big, soft couch, while I clean up from dinner or take a shower. No longer do I feel paralyzed by my fear of leaving her, and while my body always feels that slight ache when she is not in my arms, the ache does not haunt me and recall the body memory of my depleted form following Charlotte's death. Instead, my body feels grateful for her life and delighted for her to have been born into a world where there are so many people to love and care for her.
Today is a weird sort of day. Maeve is 13 days old, and she was five days early, so I am eight days past my due date. This means that Maeve is, by her gestational age, 41 weeks and 1 day old, which is the very day I met my little Charlotte. The only day I met her. As the years go by and lengthen with my living children, those six hours seem so short. To imagine that my time with my baby would have just begun at 2:14, when I was upstairs trying to help Aoife get her newly purchased (with her own piggy bank money) cheap @#$% Tinkerbell jewelery box out of the box (fact that might surprise you: while I myself am a purist, I do allow my children to make their own choices with their own money, and when you're five... well, enough said). And by this time of the night, as the hour nears eight o'clock, I would be nearing the close of my time with her. Perhaps now was the time that we asked Trudy for the little pad of paper so that we could write a poem about her. Or maybe it was just after Greg's mother left, when we sat in the sad silence of Room 3, slowly and sadly coming to the realization that at some point this would all be over and she would be gone.
I have a lot of work to do in the next little while, folks. When May 13th rolled around this year, I really couldn't take it. I wanted to honor my little girl, and we did, but I simply could not do the rehash. At 38 weeks and 2 days pregnant, I simply could not dig up the details of arriving at the hospital to greet such horrible news, of the aching silence while I labored, and the stillness of the gray light in the room when my daughter was born without a cry. It was all too near, and too real, and too imminent-seeming for me to face. I said to Greg, there's a lot of thinking I need to do, but I need to do it later. I just can't see those things in my head.
It made me sad, to not think of her little face on purpose, so I remembered the feeling of her in my arms and the look of her sweetness and the feeling of first kissing those tiny, tiny lips while I blocked the horrifying truth of what had happened to her.
Even still, now, as I look at Maeve, and study the photographs of Charlotte to try to find their similarities, I can't face that I once held a baby for only six hours and had to say goodbye to her.
Tonight, in the half light of our nightlight, I will snuggle my nose a little deeper into my baby's neck as we fall asleep together, eternally grateful for what I have been given, and though I am taking my time in facing my past right now, never forgetting what (who) has been taken away from me.


Pietrowski's of North Andover said...

A beautiful post!

I'm glad you are all okay after the terrible storms western MA got yesterday!!

Hope's Mama said...

So glad Maeve brought the sweetness back to your May. You are an amazing woman with an amazing family.
These pictures are so heartwarming.