As I round the final corner of this pregnancy, I struggle to come to grasp with what is to come in the next few weeks. I find myself overwhelmed with excitement, and also very anxious. I'm excited because OMG she's coming (!!!), but anxious because we've been here and done this before, except last time we left the hospital with empty arms and broken hearts.
I watched the video clips we have of Jack today, because I really have nothing better to be doing with my time, and it's been a while since I've sat down to watch them. I watched from his delivery through until the night before he was admitted- all the video documentation of his little life. I smiled at some of the looks on his face, I laughed along with myself on video at my husband's antics, and sighed at the video clip in which my husband repeatedly says, "hello Jack" and I watch my boy roll his eyes, as if on cue.
I watched myself telling Jack "we've waited our whole lives to meet you" just after we had met. I heard Scott's voice crack and the high pitched "awwww" he managed when he first laid eyes on him. He couldn't stop thanking the doctors and the nurses for his little boy, while in actual fact it was he and I who made this perfect little being. Together. Incredible.
Jack's cone-head from being stuck in my pelvis all day is red and raw in the film. The nurse assures us on tape that Jack tried his very best to squeeze down there, but he just couldn't do it. I watch his sweet little tongue dart in and out of his rose bud lips and smile to myself that his sister shares these same lips.
It's hard to look at this footage, even though at one point it was the only thing which got me through the day. It's hard to see us so optimistic and happy and not think of what was yet to come- that which we were so blissfully unaware. We had every reason to think he would live- he was here, he was checked out by the pediatrician and declared healthy... Why would we ever suspect it wouldn't last? It's heartbreaking, watching our prior life on tape and knowing we were just days from our whole worlds crashing down.
In approaching these final days, I've managed to get my nerves at bay by telling myself it can't happen again. That we have every reason to think Grace will have a different outcome than her brother. It makes me feel confident that we are doing everything we can to get her here safely (ie, the weekly BPPs) and to ensure she remains healthy. But I feel badly that we somehow let Jack down, that we didn't/couldn't offer him this same thing.
I know there isn't anything more we could have done. I feel confident in the decisions we made about his health and his care in the hospital. I honestly believe in my heart of hearts it was simply too late and the infection too strong to have ever changed the outcome.. But my heart hurts all the same.
Parts of my memories of him are fading. I was surprised by his kitten-like noises and snorting on the video today, I had forgotten how noisy little babies are. I've forgotten what it feels like to hold his weight in my arms. So many of previously strong memories have faded, and I find I am not as affected by triggers as I once was... Dates no longer seem to upset me in the way they would have just a few short months ago. The fact Grace is scheduled to arrive on the 16 month anniversary of his declaration forces me to approach the dates a little differently, it brings out the beauty of what was previously a day on the calendar which had haunted me.
Sometimes it doesn't even seem like it was real... It doesn't seem possible that we made it through the birth, and the subsequent death of our firstborn. That he was really here- born to us, and then he was taken away... That we could have anticipated his arrival with such excitement and hope for 9 months only to lose him days after he got here... It's just incredibly hard to accept that this has happened. It just seems like such an incredible waste of a young life, and I hate with my entire being that this is the only shot Jack got at living a beautiful life. We wanted so much for him, I still do even though it's impossible.
Together, Scott and I have persevered through all of the ups and downs we have been forced to experience over the past 16 months... We have taken the challenges we have faced, and together we have overcome them. If not overcoming them, we have learned to live with this gaping hole in our hearts and life, for better or for worse. It's entirely impossible to believe that we're coming out on the other side of this very dark tunnel, and are somehow (better? worse?) alternatives to the people we were on January 1st, 2011 when we first laid eyes on our son.
A part of me won't let me "go there" with all of this, it won't let me be swallowed whole by grief at this point- I suspect there are some survival instincts kicking in, keeping me afloat right now.
I can only hope that as we welcome Jack's baby sister into our lives, we are able to balance our great joy with the grief that is equally great. I hope we continue to be able to grieve the loss of our son as we are celebrating the life of our daughter. Because they will always be my kids, and together with their dad, will always be the great loves of my life.
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