So here goes.
As surprising as this may seem, we actually kept my pregnancy with Cason fairly quiet. We didn't tell anyone who wouldn't actually see me during the nine or so months I was carrying him. The exception was some family, of course, and my one good girlfriend up in San Francisco. The reasons are obvious. It just needed to be us. I didn't want the cheerleaders or the questions. I couldn't deal with either or the inevitable,"Oh, everything will be fine." reassurances that were sure to follow if I actually shared my running fears with anyone who dared ask me how I was doing or how the pregnancy was going. It was hard enough dealing with it with the people who did know and did see me everyday, I didn't want to invite anyone else into the bubble.
Even my husband kept the secret from his colleagues at work until I was past the point where we lost Caleb and even then he only shared the information with a few close confidants. I think we all understand the anxiety that was so tightly wrapped around the disclosing of this little tidbit of information. And the obvious unwillingness to not have to untell this story should everything go wrong again.
Fast forward the nine months and the safe arrival of our beautiful boy. Now came the time to actually do the telling. The birth announcement. So much to be told in one simple piece of card stock. I wanted the whole story of Cason to be there, not just his vital stats. This was not an ordinary pregnancy and Cason is more than just another social security statistic. He is the 'happy ending', right? He is the punctuation of a story that has been unfolding for two some years. He is the ending of one book and the beginning of a sequel, but his birth was the overlapping of the two stories and it needed, for me, to be told just like that. I needed both my boys to have a part in the telling. They both needed to be there in the announcement because they were both a part of the story. I couldn't leave Caleb out. He was/is too important a piece of Cason's life to ignore him.
Turns out they really don't make birth announcements for babies born after a stillbirth. They don't have a generic, fill in the blanks for that. There isn't any sample wording or examples of others to choose from. I had to come up with it on my own. My husband and I talked about the wording, how to fit all of the details into a few small words. How to pay tribute to Caleb and also celebrate Cason. I took to heart the symbols that I have come to know that represent loss and babies after. And when it was all said and done I found the right words, after about a hundred different variations were eliminated, and I found a wonderful printer who was able to create the perfect piece for us.
Here it is:
I love it. I covered up our names, but they are the last two lines on the left side. I'm not sure, before I post it if you will be able to read the print. If not, it reads,
After the storm
came our rainbow...
November 17, 2008
seven pounds, twelve ounces
Welcomed with love
and open arms by
and open arms by
Always loved~Never forgotten
September 1, 2007
Now comes the part where I piss people off, maybe.
Several things have happened since the announcements went out. First, alot of surprised people have reached out to us to help welcome Cason. Lots of gifts have been delivered, cards mailed, the usual baby things, for which I am grateful, don't get me wrong. Second, besides my immediate family and my one girlfriend in SF, NO ONE has mentioned Caleb or his inclusion on the card at all.
What's worse, I have received cards congratulating us on our 'third' child, I have also received cards and even a hand written letter on the 'grace and power of God' in bringing us Cason. One person, who I ran into in a store, who I only know from my sons sport, after seeing me and the baby (I told her the whole story months ago) said right off, "PRAISE GOD!" because you know, it's all about HIM.
And then there are the stalkers. The ones who never sent a thing when Caleb died but who want to be all over Cason. They call or stop by wanting to know all the details about Cason but overtly ignore that little elephant in the room named Caleb. Even still, there are no words of sympathy or compassion. It feels more like now they can be around me because I'm normal again. Or at least I don't make them feel uncomfortable anymore. I guess to them I don't look like a dead baby mom anymore. Idiots.
And the God stuff. Oh Holy Crap, that makes my skin bristle and my eyes burn. I mean, I am not a religious person, as you may have noticed about me, but I still do have enough faith in me that I wouldn't call myself agnostic, yet. So to suddenly send me a card or say to me, after losing my son a mere year and some months ago, that GOD somehow now decided to give me this baby instead, that GOD decided to let this baby live, that GOD is totally responsible for this, well, it makes me crazy angry. Unless, of course, you're willing to then let me blame Caleb dying all on GOD. As I said to one of my girlfriends after the run in with the sport mom, if it's "Praise God" now what was it a year ago? Hmmm, let me guess, "FUCK GOD", right? I know it's awful, they are awful words to write. And the thing of it is, it's not what I believe anyway. I don't believe, if there is a God, that she or he, micromanages us like that. I'm sorry, but if God has time to pick and choose which of my children are going to live or die inside me or outside me for that matter, what the fuck is going on with all of the children who are starving to death all over the world. Or the ones who are being tortured, raped, maimed, terrorized, suffering from terminal illnesses....the list goes on. And I know the answer to that too. At least I know their answer, "The Mystery, The Plan". Don't question the omnipotent OZ, ooops I mean God.
Come on, people. Open your eyes. At least, if only for my benefit, pretend for a while that common sense is some small part of your religion. If you can't, it's okay, but please, spare me the sharing then, of your beliefs, cuz they sure as hell aren't mine.
Can you imagine if I walked into a funeral for someones baby and announced to the parents, "Boy, God sure must not like you or your baby much. But Praise God!" But of course, the true believers will tell you that God called the baby home and that this is all part of that 'Plan'. And we can't understand it cuz we're too dumb.
I'm not dumb. I'm not evil. I don't even hate God. Unless of course that "Plan" thing is true, then I really do have some serious issues with God. I think bad shit happens to good people. I think bad shit happened to me, to my family, to Caleb. I don't need a bigger, universal reason to explain it. I needed a medical one and luckily I got a pretty decent one. Decent enough to allow us to try again being reasonably certain that particular cause wouldn't happen to us or another baby again. I don't blame God, much. I'm not enough of a lapsed Catholic to have released all of my Catholic guilt. It took years to drill it in to me, it's gonna take the rest of my life I suspect to get it out. So in my moments of weakness, I do call out to God and I have even asked for help. I immediately retract it, reminding myself that I don't believe that God has time for personal prayers, but I still do it.
Funny thing is, this summer when I was rushing my daughter to the ER and I was trying not to be hysterical after my son asked me if she was going to die, I screamed and raged in my head, "You're not taking another one, I won't let you!". Which was stunning to me because that normally would have been a time when I would have fallen back on my praying or more accurately, bargaining with God. But I was so scared and tired of being scared the only thing I had in me was the anger.
And still, it remains, the anger. But, I've kept it in. I haven't rammed my beliefs down anyone's throat.
Now, if everyone else could just show me the same courtesy. That'd be great.
Oh, and one more thing. Please, stop asking us if we are going to have anymore children. Seriously.
P.S. God, if you are reading this I want to tell you, well, you know cuz you can read my mind, right? Thanks.