My sweet son,
Three years. Three years already! How can it be?
Your whole pregnancy, I was anxious. I remember your positive pregnancy test. We were all sick, I was getting ready to take some Motrin and had an inkling. But, I was so very afraid. I took the test, threw it across the bathroom, and shut the door. I took a long shower, stepped out, got dressed. I opened the door, saw the test lying against the wall on the floor. I gingerly stepped over to it. Picked it up. Read the digital message.
Pregnant. 2-4 weeks.
Everything within me rejoiced and feared at the same time. Another sweet child growing within me. But this pregnancy would be anything but joyful or easy. Every appointment, every span of your stillness within me, I grew fearful. I remember, halfway through the pregnancy when we hit the same week we lost your brother, I didn’t feel you for hours. I fell into an anxious black hole and fell apart. Your Aunt Molly talked me down and advised me to call my OB, who squeezed me in for a last second ultrasound. The whole thirty minutes down to the Air Force base I mentally braced myself for another silent, still ultrasound; I started planning your burial. But, as I lay on that table, I saw you sleeping and your heart beating away.
Your pregnancy was so hard. We had unexpectedly lost your brother halfway through the prior pregnancy. Afterwards, through a series of doctor’s appointments spread out between a military move, I found out I had a clotting disorder and severe endometriosis/adenomyosis. My body had killed your brother. Oh the bittersweet pill that was! We had answers; it was preventable. But my body had slowly committed the worst crime; it had betrayed my babies and me. As a result, I was on massive doses of progesterone, baby aspirin, blood thinners, and folate. Every night before bed, I would grab a handful of stomach, insert a needle, and push in medicine all in a desperate attempt to keep you alive. Still, said my maternal fetal medicine doctor, this all may not be enough…. Those words haunted me the whole pregnancy. But, so did the words I spoke the morning I found out you were growing within me:
I will walk on shards of glass everyday if that’s what it takes to keep this child alive…
I prayed so hard for you. I said daily rosaries that we would bring you home. I completed a 54 day rosary novena, a St. Gerard novena, and several novenas to St. Joseph begging for your health and survival. In a silent whisper, I begged for a boy. I felt selfish. I should be happy with either. And I truly would have been. But I longed for a son. A boy. Healthy. Alive.
All in your last month, you gave us so much drama. Three weeks before your due date, I contracted every three minutes all night long. The contractions grew stronger. By ten am, we thought this was it. On April first, as we walked through the doors of Labor and Delivery, the contractions stopped suddenly. You little prankster; you kept me up all night. A couple of weeks later, in the middle of the night, you were incredibly active. All of a sudden, I felt the worst pain of movement I’d ever felt in any pregnancy. The next morning, as I prepared for my routine OB appointment, it felt like a softball was just under my right ribs. Come to find out, you had flipped completely, and we were now facing a C-section. I did everything to flip you. I was so stressed and so scared. I needed things to go just right; I needed to hold you right after birth, to envelope you immediately. I was grieving all of that. One afternoon, another painful movement. I felt around and realized you had flipped back head down. I did not sleep lying down until after you were born.
After that, we scheduled your induction for Sunday the 17th of April. But, that morning, I awoke at 5 am to sharp sudden pains that were coming and going. I woke out of deep sleep each time, wondering what in the world was causing pain. After thirty minutes of them, I realized…could this be…? They didn’t stop. I woke up. I showered. Still they persisted. I pulled out Mass clothes and began getting ready for church. By this point, I was holding on to the walls or furniture as the waves of pain hit. Offering each one as a prayer for your sweet life. Fortunately your father talked me out of Mass. The pain grew. I couldn’t sleep through it, though I tried. My friend came, giving me Holy Communion. She wept with me as I slowly let myself believe this might be you coming. This is it, I think, she said. She stayed a little longer, and we prayed together.
Your grandparents showed up, whisked off your sisters, and I retreated upstairs. I packed, waiting a little longer, and then we left for the hospital. As the nurses and doctors ushered me to a room, I lagged behind. When they walked inside, I stopped, frozen. The last time I was in a delivery room….memories flooded back as I saw the machines, the isolette, the bed. A nurse touched my arm. She knew. She’d seen my file. It’s ok…come on…you can’t have a baby in the hallway… We laughed and I climbed into the bed. My body worked so hard to have you. I prayed a rosary, finished your baby journal.
And then it was time.
You came fast. They told me to be gentle, take my time. But, I wanted you in my arms. Sadly, you were safer there than within me. Finally, you arrived. After nine months of worrying, weeping, wondering, you were laid on my chest. I cried hard right along with you. I didn’t dare move, didn’t dare do anything but hold onto you for an hour. I kept asking your daddy to make sure you were indeed a boy–my boy. I kept asking the doctors, he’s okay? Are you sure he’s ok? And you were. Praise God, my son, my long-awaited little lamb, was finally here.
I love your sisters. They light up my world just as much as you do. But they have a soft spot for their daddy. It is a sacred place I was never allowed inside, and I didn’t begrudge it. All girls should have a soft spot for their daddies. And oh, how they do. But, I longed for my own little person who had a soft spot for me. I missed my little boys, all gone too soon to our Lord. But, how you love me! You save your kisses, hugs, snuggles, all for me. You still seek me out, beg me to hold you. Only I am allowed to talk to you after you first wake in the morning; only I am allowed to take as many kisses as I want. For the first time, I have a baby who adores to be rocked to sleep, even still. As I grieved my father’s health and then his absence, you would hear me crying even from across the house. You crying, Mommy? You crying about Grampy? And you crawl into my lap and squeeze my neck.
You have broken open and helped heal a wound I never thought would heal. It still throbs occasionally; it still aches deeply at the absence of my other sweet children. But, God gave me all of my answered prayers. The Easter prior, as my body and heart still struggled to recover from the stillbirth of your brother James, that priest placed his hand on my shoulder at Holy Communion. As everything around him glowed, he said, “Jesus will bless your family again. Jesus will bless your family again.”
And He did.
Not only did He bless me with my (sadly) final child, not only did He allow me one more sweet life before my body fell apart from fertility issues; He gave me a son. He answered the deepest and selfish desires of my heart. All those prayers, all that heartache. All the anxiety. All of the darkness. I would walk through all of it again for you.
My love, you must never lose your faith. Even in the darkest, most terrible moments, God redeems. Even if there seems no logical, practical way out, God will open a tomb. Light will pour forth inside, and He will help you out. Even amidst the ashes of death and loss, God always resurrects. Even as I buried and mourned our James, I repeated within my soul, “Weeping may tarry through the night…but joy comes in the morning.” Weeping tarried, for me, for a long dark night. But morning came. In that Labor and Delivery room in Virginia a little after ten pm at night, morning came. God swept light into my life, even if I didn’t deserve it, and laid a small boy on my chest.
Happy Birthday, my sweet boy. This day, out of all the days of the year, reminds me to keep the faith. To keep praying, even if our prayers are outlandish and seem too big. To hope big, love big, believe big.
You have my heart sweet boy. Thank you for loving your mommy so deep and hard.
And thank you, Jesus, for my sweet boy. Thank you for answering my most desperate prayers. Thank you for this long-awaited little lamb.