We are leaving tomorrow for our annual trek out to the desert. We did this last year as well. It occurred to me last night that as I have been marking anniversary's of sorts, they have all been in relation to where I am with this current pregnancy. Caleb died at week 21, Caleb was born at week 23, that kind of thing. Now that I am approaching the one year anniversary of his stillbirth, (you know I hate that word, anniversary in relation to dead babies, I really do) I realized that it was at this time last year that I felt his last kicks, although at the time I thought they were the beginning of several more months of little feet and hands and elbows and a tiny butt poking at me day and night. It was at this time last year that I had my last ultrasound with him, alive and well. We watched him move and roll and waited patiently as the ultra sound tech tried to get good pictures of all of his tiny parts for the radiologist to review and tell us all was well with our baby. It was at this time last year that we began to hope that we had left the pain of miscarriage and baby loss behind us. It was at this time last year that my husband told me he finally believed that we were going to get our baby and he took the ultrasound photos with him to work to show his colleagues and display in his office. And it was at this time last year that we planned two quick last vacations for summer, one to the desert and one to San Di.ego. The night before we left to go to the desert was the last night I felt Caleb kick and it was the night that his kicking seemed frantic suddenly and then went quiet. It was at this time last year that I spent the drive out to the desert poking and prodding at my belly, willing him to kick again while at the same time joking with my kids and husband about all the funny "C" names we could think of for the baby, never letting them know that I was beginning to think that something was wrong, very wrong.
And so now as I pack suitcases I stop every few moments to poke and prod, I seek out a kick, a fleeting second of reassurance that I am not headed to repeat those last weeks of August 2007. It is hard now, his loss is so tied up in this ones survival, every painful memory coincides with a plea for a different outcome. I feel as though I am robbing him of proper grief. That I am not missing him as I should because I have turned my thoughts to urging this one to live. And still, I know the grief is there, the tears still come and I know he will always be missing from our home and our lives. As we spend these few days out on the water in the hot sun, I will be thinking back to last summer when I dreamed everything would be okay and that by this summer, this trip, I would be holding my baby in my arms and showing him or her all of the beauty that the painted desert has to offer. Instead I will be holding one baby in my heart and in my memories and the other in my body, hoping that as time passes I will find the right way to love each of them separately, knowing that their lives are forever intertwined, one not possible without the loss of the other, neither wanted any more than the other, ones loss leading to the others life, hopefully a long one.
I want these weeks to belong to Caleb, to be a time for remembrance and mourning. I don't want him forgotten because another baby has become a possibility. I want him to have a moment all his own, where everyone stops and says, Caleb was here and our lives will never be the same again because of him and his tiny life. I want everyone to know that his tiny feet left enormous footprints and that time will never erase them.
I want him to know that I wonder what I lost when he died. That I wish I knew who he was, who he would have been, what he might have done. I want him to know I miss more of him than I knew and that I grieve for more than his death. I grieve for his life.
You'll be with us as we go Caleb, I'll be sure of it, no matter where it is, you'll be there.