House

Being with Theo, our bodies joined, taught me how to sit, listen, rest. Pregnancy overwhelmed my mind, taking over my body. It was so refreshing to do only what little boy Theo wanted. Sit, eat, lie down, walk, stand, sleep, yoga, sing.

Now I still try to hear what other people are saying, what I am needing, what the world is crying for, where the mountains are calling me. Its peaceful and now, its another little gift from my sweet boy. And tonight I can hear the house. I can hear the sounds of my own cries and anguish, reverberating back. My tears have been private, the deep expanse of my pain mostly contained in this home. It held me and heard me, not judging in return. These walls have supported me when I scream that its not fair. Its waters have let me wallow in my grief, and then washed away the mess.

Thank you old house. Everyone needs a spot to release their load, you carried it with ease. With Love and Gratitude, Emily

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Goodbye Home

I sit for one moment of stillness, peace and quiet waiting for the movers to arrive. My eyes wander across the street, there sits the hospital sweet Theo was born at. I squint to see if I can peer through our window, is anyone filling that space that was our home for 24 days? What family is preparing to take their little one home or say goodbye for this life? Do they know to hold on tight, value their time?

I will miss these thoughts. I will miss those windows and the dreams I once saw through them.

Maddie sits on my feet, demanding to be pet, bringing me back to this space. Even though we never got the chance to bring Theo home, settle him into his crib and splash together in the bathtub. Even though we never got to sing him lullabies in his rocking chair or tickle his belly on our bed. Even though, this is still our home. This home is our family home. I can hear him in the walls and see him in the floors and feel his touch in every crevice of this house. He is here and now we must go.

My prayer is this, please bring Theo with us, in our hearts and in our new walls, our new windows and new faces and new friends. A mother cannot leave her child behind, so please carry him with us.

Heartache

Try as I might, my heart will never fill. That sweet spot for you my son, is all yours. Can daddy fill it? Oh, how he tries. Bless your loving father, baby Theo. Can all the blue waters filled with all the fish in the sea fill your spot? No, my heart still swims. And what about Madeline your puppy sister? She curls up in the arch of my tummy, filling the spot you once rested for 9 months and yet there is still that ache for you my boy.

Never will the warm sunshine cover your spot, never will another baby cradle the hole in my heart.

I keep it for you. Filled with all the earthly pain of missing you and still more joy from loving you.

This day, one year ago

On this very same day, just one year ago, Theodore was 6 days old. He was full of baby fat and smiles and yawns and soft cries. He brought light and love to my every breath, I was thrilled to be his momma.

But on this day, the neonatologist came in and gave us the results that changed everything. A few days back the MRI brain scan had been done and we were all waiting for a result that would promise a future. I was so expecting to take my boy home and tirelessly work with the needs he had. But God had a different plan, that had been hidden until now. The doctor asked if I wanted to look at the scans of Theo’s brain but I could not. I saw everything I needed to see, in the crook of my arm. He was beautiful, my son.

Sean came back from the room, the doctor shadowing behind him. I knew from his wet face that it was not the plan that we had prayed for. He put his arms around Theo and I and whispered, “i’m sorry.” The doctor sat heavily, showing her years of grief for all the babies she could not save. “Emily, the MRI showed that Theodore has only 10% of a brain, and of that 10%, its very….scattered….disorganized.”

I don’t get it, what does that mean? Can we fix it? Look, he’s doing so well!

Emily, the brain does not repair itself. There is no growth from something that is not there. Emily, Theodore will be brain dead, he will be in a vegetative state his whole life. Without his brain, there is nothing telling his body what to do. Slowly the rest of his body will shut down. We can do surgery to make those things better, but they will get worse again. Its your choice, we will do whatever you tell us to do. We can let him go or we can prolong death with surgeries for the bowel.”

It was as if she was talking about someone else. Who was this boy she was speaking of?

She left the room for Sean and I to ruminate. But all we could do was cry. Theo was alive and happy, held in my arms, and death was looming at my door.

The decision was made for us, God had made sweet Theo to live for just 24 days. I was angry, confused. I’m still angry, asking WHY?!? But on that day our hearts took over and held our son. I wanted the decision in my hands, but instead Theo was in my hands. So we held him and he held us, for 18 more days.

Walk

Blessed walks. The morning and Madeline and me.

Theo would not have been able to walk most likely. At least thats what I understand from the mysterious wasteland of neuroscience. With only 10% of a brain and that 10% being “highly disorganized,” all things I know, do and understand instinctually would be impossible for my little man.

But every morning his tiny, precious soul is with me.

No need to understand mom. God lets me walk, right here with you. Deep in your heart. 

Thank you Theodore. I am so happy to be your momma.

Anniversaries

I am searching for just the thing that will feel right on my heart. What to do on the day of Theo’s birth? On the days of Theo’s death? And what to do for 24 days in between.

A dear friend reminded me that others want to remember him, his love and his life. Do I let people in? Can I share this with the world? My heart wants to crawl back in bed and hide my face from the world for 24 days. Skip work. Don’t cook. Leave the dishes in the sink. Turn my phone off. Boycott the gym. Forget everything and let go of the guilt.

But then I remember how we shared Theodore’s life with the world. We let visitors come to the hospital to meet him when I preferred to hoard him all to myself. My sister made a website for hundreds to watch his story. I could not bring myself to look at this site for months after he died, agonizing over having shared him when I wanted to be selfish. But my little boy could not hide his face from the world, he just squeezed his way through his mother’s tight grip and let everyone feel his love. If it were up to me I would have hid. But Theo in his 7 pound body had his own plan. He called on all the angels in heaven and shouted to the earth, “Come meet me! I have love to share!”

So this one year after his life and his death, the purpose is clear. Share his life, share Theodore’s story and his love. When I stop and listen, I can hear my son leading my heart. I will take days off of work and I will skip the gym when I need rest. I will let others help me cook and scrub the piles of cleaning needing to be done. Theodore’s friends always want to help.

And I will slow my pace to the rhythm of Theo’s heart.

Return to church

I walked back in and my knees went weak, I was hot and faint and I felt like a foreigner. Would God accept me back, in the very spot we laid baby Theo to rest?

As we took our seats, I noticed a clear view to my favorite piano man, belting out sweet hymns. As his voice rose and fell to the rhythm, my heart slowly opened. His face was all joy, the same joy that was in Theodore’s face.

I sat and I stood, I kneeled and I sang, I listened and then……I prayed.

Lord, help me walk.

The muscles relaxed, my mind eased a bit and I stood to put one foot ahead of the other.

Man Hands

 

Mothers’ hearts swell with pride. The nurses all in awe of the big hearty hands of my little man, strength down to the cuticle. I love these hands and I hold them all day long, except of course when the feet need some holding too.

Gratitude. These hands still fill me with pride. My son has hands of a strong man. I miss holding Theo’s hands, feeling the strength of his heart radiating through. But I need not look far, those hands are still gripping, holding, grasping on to love. Theo’s daddy has those very same hands. As Sean takes my hand in his, we cross the streets of grief. I look down and my heart swells once again with that mothering pride. My little man, such big hands!