Friday, July 16, 2004

For Twinnie

There was one I got to hold.

Imani. That means faith. My labor with him was the longest of them all, 24 grueling, induced hours. I wasn't supposed to go into labor. After the first C-Section and then that other surgery, the doctors said it would be too risky to give birth naturally. It could kill me, they said. But I didn't care. I pushed him out anyway, in a strange hospital, where nobody knew that about me. They were right Marie. It did kill me, but not because my uterus was frail.

He was so small. Have you ever been to a baby's funeral? I didn't go to his. There was a memorial service for all the babies born dead, that went to pathology at the University of Michigan. They sent me his autopsy report, and a kindly worded letter. They invited me to a memorial service where they would say words over the ashes of my baby, and many other grief assaulted mother's children, but I chose not to go. I was at Kinko's that day. I made copies. I would have done anything, but be at the University of Michigan that day.

I went to Tanya's baby's funeral. I was her postpartum doula. The coffin was so small. That's what I remember most, that awful, little coffin. No coffin should be small.

I held my son in the palm of my hand. I can't even describe how that felt. My son was dead, and in the palm of my hand. He had on this tiny knitted baby hat. Some dear soul sat and knitted an impossibly small, yellow newborn cap, just a bit bigger than a Barbie doll head, for my sweet baby who would never, ever take a breath, or smile, or look at me. Oh My God. Yes, Twinnie. It killed me. I still have that hat, and the square cut from a receiving blanket that was his blanket. Everything about him was smaller than it should be, except my grief. It was so big. I keep his things in a red plastic box that baby wipes came in, of all things. I don't let anybody touch that box. I don't even touch it myself.

You know what I did when I got home, and his death settled on me like ashes? I attacked a perfectly innocent piece of nursery furniture. There I was in the basement, and there was Imani's basinette. Ken had taken it from our bedroom and put it away so I wouldn't have to see it, but I saw it. And I pounced on it. I ripped it apart, crying, and screaming, and mad, until Ken heard the ruckus and pulled me away from the wreckage and I collapsed in his arms. Sweet man. I love him for that moment.

I killed my baby's basinette. You never know how you will grieve.

Ever the optimist, I was pregnant again, two months later. I lost that one, too, my third, and last pregnancy loss. And then came Nia Grace. I named her Nia--which means purpose, and Grace, which means God's unmerited favor. Her purpose was grace. That says everything. And then came Aziza. So don't you give up, diva. Don't stop hoping and dreaming more children to love.

These are things that helped me, soul twin, my sister in the Spirit of the Lord, and not the flesh. They're not gospel, just a little bit of what helped me through, from one sad mommy to another:

You will give birth to her soon, and it may be like getting your period, or it may be like any other labor, with water breaking. With contractions and release, and it will be a sad, birth. But Twinnie, angels are present when babies are born--when *all* babies are born. Take comfort in their presence. Listen for the rush of wings.

You can ask why, but don't be surprised if you never get an answer. Sometimes you don't. Sometimes it's just life on the wrong side of Heaven, Sweetie. It's tainted over here, and it can get really dark and cold sometimes. And don't go looking for a lesson in all this. God doesn't need to take your baby to teach you. He gave us His word, and the Holy Spirit to do that job.

Some days the peace God gives you, will be your sanity, but there may be days, well after you think the worst is over, that you may be like your evil twin here, a basinette assassin. Those days are okay, too. Whatever you feel is simply what you feel. Don't judge yourself or any emotion, and remember that the face of grief can change, day by day, moment by moment. Become your own personal psalmist. Praise God, or shake your fists in the air shouting, "Why!!!!!" God will receive it. No matter what it is, because it came from you, and wow, He really loves you.

You may never get over it. I assure you, you will feel like you again, and there will come a time that the raw, bleeding wound will become a dull ache that you don't even notice most days. But it never leaves completely. And if it does, tell me how, because Twinnie, it's been nine years, and I still feel it. I love them. I miss them. I'd rather they were here with me, even on my worst days.

Finally, hold on to the hope that is ours in Jesus. You said to me when you called tonight, after hearing me weeping on your answering machine, "She can't come back to me, but I will go to her." I marvel at the brave and beautiful woman that you are. Like I always say, "You're the better half of us." What a testimony to Jesus to have that hope. And you will, diva. You will go to her, and you'll be running, and she'll be running to you. But how we'll miss her in this world. And we will remember her name. I stop and say it even as I write this. God bless and keep you loved until we get Home, baby girl. We will always remember your name.

Here's a little from The Message for you. I love you, woman.

I'm so deeply sorry for your loss.

"Is anyone crying for help? God is listening, ready to rescue you. If your heart is broken, you'll find God right there. If you're kicked in the gut, he'll help you catch your breath." -- Psalm 34:17-18 (MSG).

Catch your breath. He'll help you.



upwords said...

Sweet Jesus. Dear sweet Jesus. Thank you for helping me today, Claudia. For helping me to breathe. The things this makes me think I cannot translate into words. I hope I never can.

Looking for my little box,
Marilynn Griffith

Elysa said...

I've lost 5 babies thru miscarriages. I understand your longing as I still miss my babies. I know they're with Jesus, but so many times I've wished they could have stayed with me longer.

I'm going to be sharing this with other moms who have lost their babies. They need to know that its not only okay, but its a sign that we loved them and wanted them that it hurts so bad. Its a sign that their lives were valuable and precious...even if we only had them with us for too short of a season.

Thanks once again for sharing your heart, Mair.

Our arms sure are going to be full in Heaven.

Jenny said...


I was so moved by this post--wonderful, true and brave words. Thank you for this and for you. I'm excited to know you better.

I know what you say about angels is true--I know that every maternity ward is full of them, and that as you say, in every circumstance--we must "listen for the rush of wings."

May I use some quotes from this amazing post for my book?

Anyway, we'll connect this coming week.