Today as I was looking through some old blog posts I realized it’s been 302 days since we lost Liam. I don’t know how it’s been that long.
Most days I feel fine. I was telling my mom recently that all of my worry right now is completely focused on making sure the twins make it to us safe. That part is hard, but it means that I feel pretty okay about Liam most of the time. Having the twins doesn’t make losing him any less awful, but it feels like now we’re getting some good things, too, and that’s nice. Every blessing that comes our way feels like it’s sent with a kiss from Liam.
But I still think about Liam all the time. The other day I went off on a tangent at work about tax law for stillbirth and infant death and the complicated ramifications of the personhood bill in Colorado. My whole office knows about Liam because I talk about him like anyone else talks about their kid. I had a conversation with a coworker about low birth weight and in passing mentioned, “My son was six ounces.” I didn’t realize how shocked they would be. They’re starting to get used to be talking about my stillbirth like it’s part of my everyday life. Because it is. And I’m proud of that. And I really appreciate them letting me do that.
And most days that’s how it goes. I talk about Liam, and I think about him all the time, but it feels normal. I’m okay. Good, even.
I like being reminded that’s how K goes about his day, too. We got sushi for dinner the other night, and I mentioned that I am pregnant (everything I ordered was fully cooked). The man behind the sushi counter got excited and asked if this was our first. Before I could form an answer, K said, “No. This is our second and third.” After navigating the excited stranger twin conversation, K mentioned to me how someone in one of his classes at school recently asked him, “Hey. You’re the guy who’s married and has a kid, right?” And K replied, “Uh, well. I am married and I have a kid…” After the person asked how old “she– or was it he?” was, K determined that he was probably not the person he was looking for. We both kind of chuckled as I pointed out that anyone who had heard our story would probably remember a little more detail about us than, “married with a kid.” But I just felt so comforted knowing K is just as proud of our little family as I am, even if our story is more complicated than “married with a kid.”
So mostly, we’re okay with our story. We own it, and it makes it a little easier to live with. But every once in a while it still rocks me. That’s not necessarily a bad thing either.
Tonight I went up to our room alone to rest and impulsively opened Liam’s box from the hospital and started looking through his things. It was strange to be able to feel his hat in my hands and cover his handprint with my thumb and still not feel the tears coming. This was normal now. I packed his things back up and climbed into bed, but now that I was thinking of him, I wanted to see his picture. I pulled his blanket out and set it on my left side where it had been in the hospital. Then I found my favorite picture of him on my phone and zoomed in on his face until the diamond on my ring in the picture was the same size as the diamond on my hand. That is how I know how big he was. I turned my phone sideways so his head was under my right hand. This was how I held him in the hospital. And suddenly it came rushing back. Images of his face when they first handed him to me. My feelings of grief and shock and pride in that first moment seeing my and my husband’s faces reflected in our perfect, tiny baby. How smooth his head was when they first handed him to me. And his tiny, pointed nose. Pulling back the tissue to see his legs and feet and toes, and his little pot belly. K’s face when he held him before we sent him to the nursery so I could rest. K was the last person to hold him.
Now I was bawling, and I didn’t even know why. I could hardly look at his face in that picture, but I wanted to study every inch of it at the same time. All I could think was, “He was so beautiful.” I wondered why I was suddenly crying so hard. I wasn’t thinking about how old he would be now or how different our lives would be if he were here. I wasn’t thinking about how unfair it’s been trying for so long to have a living baby. Really, I wasn’t thinking about wanting anything to change. There was no selfishness or jealousy. Even the longing was subdued. I didn’t want to picture him any other way than how he was when I saw him. He was so perfectly, heartbreakingly beautiful. My sweet little boy. Mine. Yes, I missed him. I always miss him. And yes, it hurt. I felt like I was broken open, lying there in bed with my sweet son’s face in front of mine. But I didn’t want it any other way. It was a blessing to be broken. To feel so deeply. It was a relief to cry. The hurt was healing, refreshing. There’s so much more that can be felt than can be thought. So I lay there, heart open wide, hearing echoes in my mind of, “beautiful,” and “mine,” and letting go of finding meaning for them. I let the feelings speak for themselves. Peace. Love. Relief. Inexplicable, but there they were anyway. I was bawling my eyes out in the midst of a peaceful storm. What a beautiful thing it is to know that’s possible. What a wonderful gift to feel the ache of over 300 days of longing turn into a love too powerful to be expressed in words. To be allowed the deepness of feeling that can only come from being broken beyond fixing, but to have your heart bursting with love instead of aching. To be able to look at the baby you miss so dearly and instead of resentment at the one who took him away find only a mother’s pride at his perfect, beautiful little self. My sweet baby. Mine. Forever. What a wonderful thing.