Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Birth Day

Maddy's birth could not have been more uneventful. Compared to her sister, who was a 24 hr. saga -- involving a harried trip to the hospital interrupted by a family of geese crossing the street, my water breaking without my knowledge, and ending with a torn rectal muscle as they suctioned her out while trying to avoid a c-section -- this was nary a blip on the radar. Went in for an induction, water broken at 1 p.m., Maddy born at 4:45 p.m. after 20 minutes of pushing. It was also uneventful emotionally; were Maddy to have lived I would not be prancing around bragging about "shooting out" my second child (it was birth, after all, and rather uncomfortable). After years of infertility, a miscarriage, and a live daughter, the actual labor and delivery for me is simply a means to an end. I am not one to wax philosophical about the transformative female power of labor, or any womanly catharsis that takes place as a child exits the body -- I just wanted it, all of it, over. I wanted the stressful pregnancy over, the surprise as to whether she was male or female over, the 5+ year struggle to have a family, over. I believe my "birth plan" as it was for both daughters read: "Please, kindly, deliver child alive by any method necessary (oh, and if I could make it through alive? That would be nice too)."

Right when she was born, there was the sound of a gasp, and then the NICU team (assembled for safety's sake as she was a week overdue) rushed her over to a table and began clearing her lungs, everyone assuming she simply gulped a mouthful of meconium upon entry into the world. Her APGARs, given what unfolded, were startlingly good -- 7/8 if I remember correctly. There was no crying. Well, except mine. I was so relieved. And happy. I think I secretly had wanted a girl, never fully admitting that to anyone least of all myself. And here I was, finally, at the end of a journey and an extraordinarily long pregnancy: a beautiful family of four, with two girls.

This twenty minutes, the last twenty minutes of my old life, were sheer bliss. I thought of it all, pondered the infinite possibilities, and held my beautiful, quiet daughter, whose eyes were closed (but no one seemed to find that at all troubling), and held her hands and feet, and traced the shape of her nose (mine), and marveled in her.

And then they took her away, for observation, just to be safe.

Given what I now know of so many of your experiences, of deliveries of babies already dead (and may I just say those that have done this? You deserve a national holiday, a postage stamp, and some money bearing your image. I am in awe of your courage), silent delivery rooms, the joy already evaporated from the moment, I should be grateful. I should be thankful that my last few moments were happy, were perfect, were nirvana.

And yet, it simply makes me all the more angry. I feel as though someone opened the door, showed me utopia, with its lush green meadows and blue skies and singing birds, then laughed cruelly while slamming the door in my face, leaving me flailing in darkness, and then pushed me down fifty flights of stairs. This moment haunts me. How could I have not known? How could I have been so remarkably naive? I feel like a chump on the world's biggest stage, buying into the miracle that wasn't.

I want today, to honor Maddy's birth. To get her flowers, and light a candle at 4:45. I also wanted, somehow, to let the universe know how wildly incredibly angry I am at it. I'm not an eye-for-an-eye kind of person, and yet I wish I knew a way to hurt back. Spray aerosol in my front yard? Not recycle for a day? Cut down a tree? I would love to walk out of a church, and have the doors slam shut behind me, but seeing as I never walked into one in the first place, the drama would probably be lost. I suppose I could burn an image of the double helix in effigy. I have, somewhere, pictures of me and Maddy in the delivery room, during these twenty minutes of bliss. I haven't looked at them to date, nor can I. They are a lie. They simply mock me. Torture me. They represent to me all that is cruel and horrible in the universe, everything unsaid, everything unspeakable. That I could be smiling and she could be devoid of wires and beautiful and breathing is pure fabrication.

So today, I'll just remember it all, the beauty, the relief, the untruths, and the hurtful push down the stairs that followed. I now know that whatever Maddy and her body could possibly have felt or sensed, that these moments, for her, these moments were cruel too. They were a struggle, an unpleasant surprise, a fight to the death. Her body was now devoid of that which kept it alive, and it was falling down the stairs right next to me. I'm so sorry Maddy, for not knowing, for making you fight, in order that I might believe just a few more minutes. You were stunningly beautiful, and I miss you so, so much.

36 comments:

Julia said...

This is not an exchange any of us want to contemplate-- alive or dead, struggling or not. There is no fair in any of it, there is just what is.

Maddy was beautiful, and wanted, and loved. Most of all, loved. If there is anything I could wish for is that you can let go of the self-blame and that what remains is the love and marvel of those twenty minutes. They must've made the drop so much worse. But they were. And they were pure love.

I am thinking of you today and going forward through your difficult march. I will be watching little girls do gymnastics at 4:45. but I will mark the moment, and the next twenty minutes, for you.

kate said...

Thinking of you and your beautiful Maddie today.

Searching said...

I've already cried many tears for you and your sweet Maddy today. Know that I hold you both close to my heart.

It is so unfair. And not your fault.

CLC said...

I am thinking of both of you and Maddie today. I can't think of any words that I can say that may bring some comfort. But I do have faith that she knew and could feel your love.

Birdie said...

Dear Tash,

I am so very sorry that your sweet Maddy is not here on earth with you. I am so sorry. I am also sorry that you cannot bare to look at the photos you have. Even though they feel like a mockery of what you thought you had...they are still memories of you and her right? You can see her beauty in them. Please forgive me for saying that.

I agree with Julia, I too wish for you to be able to let go of the self-blame. I know it is so hard, as I struggle with it too. I wish for you to find a place of feeling nothing but the purest and biggest love, the love that you have for your sweet girl. I wish for you that that love over throw the self-blame you feel.

I will be thinking of you today with deepest thoughts. Thinking of your lovely Maddy, and her sweet spirit as if ebbs and flows through the energy of every one of us.

At 4:45 I will light a candle for her, one of Birdie's candles. In that moment of light they can be together (i think that all of our babies are together somewhere out there).

Love,
Erin

Megan said...

I'm thinking about you and Maddy today and grieving that we don't both have little girls celebrating their first birthdays within weeks of each other.

c. said...

I am filled with heartache, Tash. I am so very sorry she is not here with you. I will be thinking of you and Maddy today, all day. I am so, so sorry that you have to hurt this way and that you cannot know the bliss of your old life still, with Maddy alongside you.

Josh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Antigone said...

Maddy has many people thinking of her and you today. Take care.

--carole said...

tash, at our house we're all thinking of you -- the whole ABF family -- with love and sympathy. One of the first things s said to me this morning was "it's maddy's birthday." we are so, so sorry for all you do not have.

Amy said...

I posted on an older post, I am thinking of you and your family including Maddy today.

I am also sending you thoughts of many pretty flowers.

Sue said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your lovely Maddy. You and your family are in my thoughts today. I hope that your second year without her is not actually worse than the first.

wannabe mom said...

here via Julia's blog, i am sending you big hugs through the wireless. thinking of you on Maddy's anniversary.

Sara said...

I'm so sorry. Thinking of you and Maddy today.

meg said...

Tash, I'm thinking of you and Maddy today too.

G said...

Thinking of you and Maddy today =/

yummysushipajamas said...

I wandered over from Amy's blog (http://williamhenryjohnson.blogspot.com/) and I just wanted to say how beautiful this post is.

I am so SO sorry that you lost your sweet girl. I am so sorry for the pain and the sadness that I know follows you to this day.

If I could hug you, I would. If I could kick God for you, for all of us, I would do that too.

Waiting Amy said...

Wishing you some peace this day. And hoping (and knowing) that someday you will be able to look on those 20 minutes differently. Not as a cruelty, but a special, cherished time. It may be farther in the future than we'd like, but I have to believe that that day will come.

I will remember Maddy today and be thinking of your whole family.

niobe said...

It's so hard to remember the time before this all happened, the last few moments before learning that, after all, everything was not going to be okay.

Thinking of you and Maddie.

NotBitterYet said...

I'm also here via Julia's blog. I was up late lastnight reading your archives.

You write beautifully and today's post on Maddy's birthday was, I thought, especially touching. I think you said it perfectly on the anniversary of a very imperfect day.

I cannot begin to understand how you must be thinking and feeling today but please know that I am one more person in the world who now knows that Maddy was here--and beautiful--and missed.

I'm wishing for you AND Mr ABF some moment of quiet calm during what must be a very hard day.

Beruriah said...

Whoops, I commented as my husband earlier by accident....

Oh Tash, what to say. Julia and Erin have said what I would like to say. I am sure Maddy was beautiful, and I hope some day you can look at the photos of her.

We feel like a mother should know everything that is happening with her babies, and so many of us have some sort of guilt over moments where we think we should have known. I wish for you, as well, that you can let go of that guilt. You couldn't have known.

I will honor Maddy's birth today, and think of her and you and the rest of your family. Much love to you all.

kalakly said...

The heartbreak, it never ends. I cried for you and your beautiful Maddy today. I just is so unfair, for both of you.

Which Box said...

I am so so sorry you are experiencing this anniversary today.

It is so hard to think of that dividing line - before / after. And incredibly heartbreaking when that before was so special. That chasm - that inbetween place of before and after is unfathomable, until you experience it. Please know how many of us are thinking of your entire family today.

Carina Hope's Mom said...

Tash ... you don't know me, but I stumbled upon your blog a couple of weeks ago and have been lurking since. As I began reading, I recognized your sweet Maddy's name from the Candle Lighting Ceremony Memorial Booklet that Children's Hospital put together this past December. What a beautiful little girl your sweet Maddy was! My daughter, Carina, lived for 13 days 3 years ago at Children's Hospital (she's on page 30 in the memorial booklet). I can relate to so very much of what you post. I wanted to just extend my thoughts and sympathies to you today, on Maddy's 1st birthday. My heart truly goes out to you, for I've walked in very similar shoes.
(((Hugs))), Michelle

sweetsalty kate said...

You do honour Maddy, with every word. Absolutely. You feel exactly as you should. Bliss while you were unknowingly dangling off the edge of that cliff, and then rage all tangled up in your love for her... you give voice to it all so perfectly.

You may not feel like it today, and this week, but you've got incredible grace. Hang in there.

ms. G said...

Tash, thinking of you and Maddy today.

Carole said...

Tash,
You have been in my thoughts all day today. Thinking of you and remembering your sweet, beautiful girl Maddy.
~Carole
http://accordingtocarole.blogspot.com

Aurelia said...

I've been thinking of you today, and I hope it hasn't been too painful, and I wish you better days going forward.

Dayna said...

I happened to wander over from Niobe. I've been lurking a bit because honestly, I have no idea what to say, and no idea if anything I could say would even help you. But I wanted to express that I was thinking of you and your beautiful, loved little Maddalena today. I would like to light a candle for her this Sunday, if you are comfortable with that (and certainly, if you're not, no offense would be taken).

Wabi said...

I'm thinking of you and your beloved Maddy in this saddest of times. I'm so sorry this happened to your baby and you.

missing_one said...

*hugs* thank you so much for sharing your story and sharing maddy with all of us. She lives on because you tell her story

Lisa b said...

oh Tash I am so sorry.
Reading this is heartbreaking, the 'should I have known' particularly. You are no chump.
I think too about those minutes before they take your child away and everything changes. I hope that over time that memory of bliss stays while the others fade.

Coggy said...

I'm so sorry Tash.
I was thinking of you on Tuesday and just wanted to say I'm sorry in person so to speak.
x

Ahuva Batya said...

Tash,
I don't have any eloquent words of wisdom or support. I can only say I cry for your and Maddie, and the pain of it all, the unfairness of it all, the sheer damned unfairness of it all. I am so sorry.

The Town Criers said...

No good words to mark this birthday. Simply wanted to let you know that I was thinking of you.

Katie said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you and your daughter.