Laying on the operating table, I was unable to wipe the tears away as they poured from my eyes, my arms were securely fastened, crucifix style, to the outstretched shelves of the table, to aid the anesthesiologist in vein access. It didn't matter though, I lay there and listened to my newborn son, his cries were hearty and quivery, just as you might imagine they would be, just as I had hoped, for so many months, two years really, to hear one day. My husband kept saying to me, "He's here honey, he's here..." and I kept repeating, "Is he ok? Is he really ok?"
The nurse held him up so I could see him, really look at him through my tears, so that I could see he was indeed, really here. And really alive.
In the moments before he was born, laying on the table, paralyzed from the chest down, waiting for them to start, I was terrified. My body was shaking, not from the coldness of the room but from the crushing fear that still, something could go wrong. They had taken me off the monitors(the very same monitors that two hours earlier had failed to find his heartbeat when they first hooked me up. The universe, I guess, thought it might be funny to send in a nurse with broken, but brand new, equipment...needless to say I didn't get the joke and my stress level never did recover from that scary start to my delivery)and I could no longer feel anything in my belly. The assisting doctor was late and we all were waiting for her. And so I lay helpless, literally paralyzed and fear filled, thinking even now, my baby could die, please hurry, please get it out. We were delayed because of another baby in distress, not news a db mom needs to hear when waiting to deliver.
And then she came and everything started. Through my rattling teeth I chanted, healthy baby, healthy baby, over and over as I waited, my view obstructed by the blue sheet put between my face and my body. I held my husbands hand as long as I could. Then he stood up to take pictures and the doctor told me 'alot of pressure now' and she meant it, I felt as though an elephant had parked on my chest. I couldn't breathe. My husband told me, "...almost honey, almost, almost..." and then in unison a chorus of nurses and doctors yelled out, "Here it comes and it's a.... boy!" and then in a moment it all changed. I heard his cry. The sweetest sound I have ever heard in all of my life. And in that moment, a year and some months worth of grief spilled out of me, poured out of me really, my body wracked with uncontrollable sobs, my eyes blurred by the tears, my voice a whisper as I sought reassurance after reassurance that he really was ok.
And when the nurse held him up, and I saw his red hair, his long legs, his beautiful chest rising and falling with every cry, every breath, it was then that I saw Caleb. In that instant I held my two sons in my mind, one still and lifeless as I cradled his tiny body in a mortuary and the other filled with life, his daddy standing protectively over him as he is weighed and measured, cutting the cord and marking the moments with pictures.
I thought of these two boys, whose lives are so completely intertwined, and yet they will never know each other, never share a toy or a secret, never conspire to squeeze another hour of playtime before bed, never comfort one another or grow old together, these two boys shared my body, my heart and my love. But only one gets to share a lifetime with me. With us.
For that moment my boys were together. I let my eyes soak in the view of my new son and my memory called forth my lost son. The two were there in the room with me, as close as they ever would be. This new life, my Cason, born out of his brother Caleb's death. And I realized in that taking of a breath Cason changed the way I would see his brother forever. Never again would I be able to wish that Caleb hadn't died because that would mean that I would not have my Cason. I can't play the what if game anymore. Caleb is dead, he is gone from me forever. He didn't die so that Cason could be born, but Cason was born because Caleb died. And the only words that came to me were, "Thank you for him Caleb, I love you Caleb.".
And so it happened, when they lay sweet Cason on my chest and I kissed his tiny, perfect head, I said hello to one son and I said good-bye to the other. I cried tears for both of them, holding tightly to one, and like a child holding a balloon by a string, looking to the sky, beyond the clouds to the vastness of the heavens, wanting to hang on to that string forever but knowing the time had come to let him soar, I slowly opened my fingers and I let my other son go.