Friday, April 07, 2006

Forty Weeks

I've heard that nature actually programs women to forget about the woes of pregnancy and the pain of labor as soon as their baby is born. I guess so that they will continue to go forth and multiply, thus insuring the survival of the human race.

I'm so thankful for the forty weeks and one day that I had with Nathaniel. I've been thinking a lot about my pregnancy lately, and I've been wondering what it is going to be like the second time around. I remember being pretty damn miserable a lot of the time--the puking and the hip pain and the heartburn--but there were the other weird things, too. Stopped up nose, horrible burps that tasted like nothing that I had ever had in my mouth, goddamned constipation, peeing in my pants every time I sneezed or coughed (I still do that--when does that stop?) Being unable to put on my own socks or wear proper shoes, because my feet were ridiculously fat. I would do it again in a second, though. What I went through was a miracle--a gift. When I think how we could have made such a perfect little person. It's amazing.

I remember hearing his sweet heart beat for the first time--wooosh, wooosh, wooosh--I cried. For the first time, I really was starting to feel pregnant. Until my 19-week ultrasound, I was certain that Nate was a girl. I had a step-daughter, so I figured that my husband just made girls. I had already bought--who I thought was a her--a purple dress with a matching, snappy little beret, and figured that Alice was a great name for this little person. The ultrasound revealed that we were indeed having a boy, and what a boy he was. There was no mistaking it--my husband was so proud. It took me awhile to get used to the idea of having a boy--I have three sisters, I had no clue what to do with a boy! And then first time that I really felt him kick and there was no mistaking it, was at the movies during The 40-Year Old Virgin. I was totally in love with this kid by this point.

We were keeping the name a secret from family and friends, and in fact, Tom and I hadn't decided on his name until about a month before he was born. We all called him B.K. for Baby K. I had gotten so big with Nate, that my sisters and I called him BK Big Fish or the Whopper. When we finally did settle on a name, I started calling him Nate, Nate Roller Skate or I say, "Nate, Nate, you're so great!" I think that's why I liked his name so much--it rhymed well with things.

Nate heard lots of music in his little life--I was working until just a few days before he was born. I got harder and harder towards the end to perform; he was squishing everything so much that I could only play three measures at a time. I loved feeling him respond to different types of music. He was usually very quiet when I played with harp--I like to think that it lulled him to sleep. During La Boheme, could feel him kick with annoyance when the sopranos got too screechy, and in orchestra rehearsal I could feel him startle when the horns or percussion made their entrances too loudly. I seriously doubt that I'll ever be able to play Dvorak's New World Symphony again without tears. But with all of that Classical music, I still think that Nate's personal favorite was Franz Ferdinand. He rocked out to them.

After he died, I wanted to chuck the whole music thing out the window--it just made me too sad. Even though I had been a musician for 20 years, and played tons of gigs and taught a hundred students before I was even pregnant, I just couldn't stand the thought of any of it. The only music that I could listen to after it happened was bluegrass, because it was the only type that I didn't perform when I was pregnant. I announced to everyone that I was going to cooking school to be a pastry chef. Well, that didn't last very long--I'm back to teaching and gigs again, and it's nice.

I spent a lot of my pregnant time nesting and cooking and knitting. I spent time on the internet on those stupid Due Date Club boards. (I haven't even been back to my February DDC. I couldn't give two shits about their perfect birth stories or their sweet little February babies. Their sleepless nights and cracked nipples, but I digress.) I also spent a lot of time playing with Nate's stuff--organizing all of his little toiletries, folding and re-folding his clothes. Just opening his drawers and looking at the little bitty socks and little bitty onsies. Imagining what my son would look like, what he would smell like. Would he have lots of hair ? (He would.)

Three weeks before Nate was born, my husband lost his dad to cancer. We all thought that he would be here to see his new grandson, but he went so fast--much sooner than we expected. We at least had some comfort knowing that a new baby boy was coming to carry on my husband's last name. I wanted so badly to be able to give back some happiness to the family with the birth of Nathaniel. At the time, we thought that he went early so that he could watch over the baby and help him get here safely. Now we feel that it was so he could meet Nate on his way up. My husband's father was an amazing man and I miss him.

The last day that I was pregnant was on Monday, January 30th, 2006. It was the first day of my maternity leave and I was so excited--Nate's due date was on Thursday. That morning, I had finished knitting a little apple hat for Nate and started on a "5-hour Baby Sweater", hoping to actually finish it in a day or two. My sister dropped by with her new baby boy to hang out for a bit. My nephew tried out Nate's new Fisher Price Aquarium swing, and it was prolaimed badass as far as baby swings go. I had noticed that Nate had been pretty quiet that day, and asked my sister if her baby slowed down before he was born. She told me that he moved a lot at that time. I'm going to make myself sick about this one. I'm so afraid that I was already abrupting, but had convinced myself that he was just running out of room, or that I had become so used to his movements that I just didn't feel it as much anymore. Maybe that was true--maybe it happened suddenly like the doctors have told me, I don't know.

That night was completely routine--although I remember feeling extremely bitchy and just "off" a little. I woke up at about 1 AM on the 31st, and my whole little world was about to fall apart.


Shannon said...

Laura, I don't have any brilliant words of comfort--I wish I did--but I've been lurking on your blog, catching up on your story the last couple of days, and I just wanted to tell you how much I admire your courage to tell your story. Thank you for sharing it.

And I'm so very, very deeply sorry for your heartbreaking loss.

Anam Cara said...

Laura, I am so sorry about the death of your darling little Nate. My heart breaks for you. I only hope you can find some comfort in knowing you are not alone (although I know in the "real" world you probably feel like you are the only one whose baby died - I know I do most of the time). I also hope blogging will help your grieving process. I hate when someone else becomes a member of this awful club of grieving parents. Big (((hugs))) to you.

delphi said...

Somehow, telling your story over and over goes a long way in allowing you to view it from a place of peace. This post reminded me of that, so following in your footsteps, I mean to do more of that. I used to, I don't know why I stopped.

Each time you muster up the strength to tell the story, the whole story, I think it imprints positively on your soul. Keep up that strength, when you can.

sillyhummingbird said...

Soon after my son's death, I remember telling my husband that I was glad I got to know our son for forty weeks. All of those beautiful quirks that make it our exclusive pregnancy experience. I expressed how sad I was that it was gone--how our time together was so brief. My husband remarked that when the day comes that we see him again--we'll have so much to discuss because we loved him from the moment we knew he would be. I hold on to those memories as I would with the ones we would have made if he had stayed with us longer. Somehow, that comforts me.

And I am glad that music has reentered your life.

And the part about forgetting about the pains of labor(emotional and physical)--for me, it is vivid as ever and easily recalled. But the overwhelming love was such that I couldn't imagine not experiencing it again.

lalas_sissy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
lalas_sissy said...

Hi Lala-
Sarah told me about this so I wanted to read. I am a sobbing mess at work and clients are looking at me funny but I don't care. I want you to know that we love you very, very, very much and
I am here for you whenever you need it. And what's funny is I picked out Nate, Nate roller skate as my nicknmae for my Nate! I guess it's the sister thing that makes us think alike!

Love, your sissy, Lizzie

kate said...

So many (((((hugs)))))) to you. I am just so very sorry.

I also thought that, about babies slowing down before labor, but we were not that far along (34 weeks). Still, i thought it to comfort myself until i heard the news and could not deny it anymore. My understanding of abruption, though, is that it is very quick, like your doctors say.

I agree with delphi too, it helps so much to tell the story, in it's entirety.

Sherry said...

(((HUGS))) to you, Laura. I'm glad you've re-connected with your music - Nate would probably want that, given how much he was (from your description) affected by it.