Thursday, February 19, 2009

The story

A long time ago, maybe two years or so, I tried to write down Thomas' birth story. Partly because I'd never told it here in its entirety, partly because I didn't want to forget any of the details, and partly because that's what new mothers do and I didn't want to be left out.

I started and the words came easily enough, but they wouldn't stop. And each one tore at my heart because I knew how the story was going to end, and no matter how much I wrote, the end would never be the one I wanted to write. Forcing myself to relive, in exacting detail, the days and hours leading up to his birth just reminded me of how quickly things went wrong. How suddenly he was snatched from us. How little warning we had.

The last words I said to My Beloved before the earth gave way beneath our feet were, "Soon we're going to see our little boy."

We were that close. That close.

And suddenly it just somehow didn't seem to make sense to tell the story in great detail. Or, to tell it at all.

He was born and he died. Does it matter how?

God - I mean, of course it matters. Everything about him matters, but what purpose does it serve to write it all down? What good will it do me? Or you? Or My Beloved?

So I saved the unfinished draft, and it remains buried in the list of post titles, somewhere back there.

At the time, I was deeply disappointed with myself for not being able to finish the story. I added it to my list of failures and went to bed with a heavy heart that night.

But I think very differently about it now.

Now I'm not so sure it would be all that terrible to forget some of the awful detail I was struggling to capture on paper. Because I don't know what earthly good it does to remember it. It doesn't fix anything. It doesn't bring him back. And it certainly doesn't make me feel better.

People always say that you forget the agony of childbirth the moment you hold your brand new baby in your arms.

Should I be made to hold onto the agony of mine simply because my child isn't here any longer?

It's just another confusing thing to wrestle with when your child dies. The rules change for you. What others cherish and try to remember, you sometimes struggle to forget; torn because sometimes it's all you have of your child.

Things are different for us. It's the way it is. Trying to pretend otherwise will make you crazy.

In truth, I know will never forget giving birth to Thomas. Or the days before or the days after. But I know for a fact that what has helped me heal and what has kept me moving forward is focusing on the boy, not on the tragedy. Of course they're inextricably linked to each other, I realize that. But I can choose to what degree I make that link.

Granted, it's easier now with time and distance my constant companions in this epic journey, but it still sometimes takes effort to keep my love for Thomas and my grief over losing him in their separate corners when I need them to be.

But I make the effort, because that's when I most feel like he's my son and I'm his mother. It's when he's most real to me. It's when I can best feel his sweet spirit in my heart and in my life.

He is not my grief.


Mrs. Spit said...

When my last computer was stolen, my birth story for my son was stolen on it.

I grieved. I could re-create it, but those words, just written days after his birth, I could never completly recapture them.

I'm sorry, it is so hard to seperate the grief from the joy.

Julia said...

If it helps at all, I never wrote down birth stories for any of my children. Not before, not after. And I realize it may be very different for you because A's birth was after we knew he was dead, so it's a separate (and not all that important, as far as I am concerned) part of the story.
But your new point of view may be exactly why I didn't feel the need to write it down-- he was not in any of the things that happened along the way.
And this too-- he is not my grief. My grief and my missing are reflections of my love, but he is not in them. My love is what belongs to him. My pain is mine.

Catherine said...

He is not my grief. No he is not. Nor is a "happy" birth story truly responsible for the happiness (despite the insistence of some women to the contrary). But maybe it's me...because I never understood the "birth story" thing.

Icantletitgo said...

Being as I too recently lost my son I read your entire blog in a matter of 2 weeks, all four years. I have to think that THIS is Thomas' story. All of it. It's your love (and your pain and grief that are born from that love) splashed across these four years of blogging that tell the real story of Thomas. What he meant to you, what he meant to those around you. So many people have come to know your little boy in a way that most people never know living babies. That is evident in all the things that have been done in Thomas' honor. I can only dream that I too can share my Logan with the world the way you shared Thomas. I have a horrible memory, so I am always grappeling for ways to documnet my life. Journaling, scrapbooking, blogging... But I know that the joy of the memories isn't in the details. I wrote down everything about my first child's birth. Down to the name of the nurses and the position of my bed. But reading those things now, they don't mean a thing to me. The things that matter are the things we can't even begin to put into words. The things that no amount of detail can capture. Obviously it's very different because she is still with us. But my son, when I go back and re-read the details it seems cold and odd and distant. It is filled with such agony that it makes it seem like his life was a curse to me, rather than the precious gift I am trying so hard to believe it was. His life wasn't in those details. His life was in my heart. His life was in my love and his life was in my tears. I feel like a casualty of war, and though the facts are important, in reality they are irrelevant. In the long run people want to remember the affect the war had, not how many people lost their lives, and how it happened and why it happened. It happened, we can't change it. We can't undo the bombings and the death. I like knowing why my son died, but it doesn't mean a thing to my heart. His spirit remains a part of me and his existance, no matter how unexpected and brief, has changed me forever. I want to remember my love for him, not the horror of the day that part of my soul died. I wish I was more eloquent like you. I know what I want to say and it just isn't coming out right. Take comfort in knowing that the rest of this world knows Thomas and who he was for you and your beloved because of the story you've told here. Thomas story. Keep breathing Kristen. I think about you everyday.


Snowflowers Mum said...

Beth sent me over here...

Thank you for writing your a Mother first through miscarriage (4 single, 2 sets of twins) and later through adoption I have often wondered how to separate the grief from the joy, if it wasnt for my multiple losses I would never have had the honor of parenting my two beautiful little girls. So my grief at the losses is also my joy...I know that seems awful to say...but it is the path my life just happened to take.

As a post partum Doula I also understand the importance of the birth story...for EVERYONE involved. It is a way that we can process the joy and the sadness in a way that honors your journey into motherhood...albeit a short one 'physically'...the thing is, your journey as a mother continues, even when you don't have the physical-ness of the classic relationship.

You are a mother...and because you share your story, I see you as a brave warrior and I applaud you.

I will be thinking of you on March 9 and will 'pay it foward' with an act of kindness in memory of your son, and in honor of you and your story.

Hennifer said...

Your entry today is so very touching and so very warming. As are these beautiful comments left behind.

I think Heather said it so eloquently.

Again I find it a priviledge that you have shared your journey through motherhood with us all.

I just don't have the proper words. Thinking of you.

B said...

I too tried to write a birth story - actually I managed that part, but as the days approached her death the details dropped away, as did the story..... and I could not write her death. It was taking something away from the most profound experience of my life to try and hold that, hold her, in words.

But as others have said in their beautiful and moving comments, you tell his story every day, in a way. The true story of Thomas. Not his nurses and his length, but the heart and soul of it.

Thinking of you as this time of year comes around again.

Kim said...

I always wondered about Thomas's birth. But I assumed it was too private for you to share. And that is okay. :) It's your story.

I have to say, I love going back and reading your entries from before he was born. I know their aren't many (and I don't read them often, in stalker like fashion or anything! :D), but I think they reflect so well the joy you must have felt while he was alive in you.

I think that is ALL part of his story. And I think that it all is intertwined. If that makes sense.

Sherry said...

Heather said it so well (despite her not thinking she had the right words, when to me she nailed it).

You have a 'birth' story; it's just different from others'.

I also have an unfinished draft of Ryan's 'birth' story which I've never been able to finish for the same reasons you listed here. The more I wrote, the more anxious I became, knowing I was coming to that sad ending that would always be the same, no matter how many times I switched the words around. And, it was as if I kept reliving the bad (grief) instead of embracing the good (Ryan).

Yes, that "separate corners" thing is tough ...