Saturday, May 9, 2015

my third mothers day

Mother's day can be a difficult day for any number of people. Children who have lost a mother they miss, children of mothers who aren't a mother at all. Childless women who want a macaroni necklace and some burnt toast in bed. Mother's who lost children. It's all hard.

For me is especially hard. 2 years ago tonight I was being induced to deliver a baby I already knew was dead.

We didn't know that his name was Oliver.

If you had asked me the day before he died what his name was, I could have told you that we were about 80% sure he would be named Benjamin. I had started to picture him with that name. Thought about nicknames. Imagined if it would be stern enough to say with a disapproving tone when he flushed something important. So when he was born, and that future was gone, his name was too. We started over, going back through rejected names, family names, panicking because it was the only thing we could give him.

In middle school in my French class we learned about saint days, and how in some places a saint day was like a birthday. So we googled. Some website had the saint listed for July 12 as Oliver. As soon as I said it I knew it was his name. Sometimes it feels odd, as an atheist to use saint days to name my son. Sometimes I wonder what if we had named him Benjamin. But it feels now like he was always Oliver.  From the first kick to the last.

We chose his name on mother's day. Sitting in the private room at the hospital, that is reserved for a different kind of delivery.

When you don't need to protect the baby, labor is very different. They give you medication that they can't give to moms of living babies. There is no urgency. Less physical pain. Oliver was coaxed slowly out, breech.

I spent my first day as a mother holding my sweet baby boy. The only day I would get to hold him at all. Memorizing his face and tiny hands and perfect ears and tiny toes.

I spent my first mother's day deciding if we would do an autopsy, and choosing a funeral home. When mothers share birth stories they get uncomfortable when you mention that part. That before you started pushing you signed the papers to donate his organs to research. I never knew what happened to a stillborn baby before I had one. People never ask. So you don't tell anyone. And sometimes parts of it start to fade. It makes me afraid, that if I can't remember which nurse brought in the tiny donated hat, how will I remember him. I only had 24 hours to hold his body, how could I let one second of that day slip away. It was my first mother's day. How could I not replay it all. Second by second.

But I remember all the seconds of him.

We gave him the only thing we could give him, his name. He never even heard me say it. Mother's day for me will always be a difficult day, followed by his birthday however many days later it happens to be. For me it's the anniversary of the only day we ever spent with our firstborn son. The anniversary of the most profound day of my life.

Oliver, I miss you every day. Not just mother's day. Not just your birthday, or Christmas, or when there is an Oliver keychain for sale at the zoo. I miss you when I think of you, which is every day. You made me a mother. You changed me forever.

I love you Oliver.

1 comment:

  1. Sheryl Pauls DyckMay 10, 2015 at 3:22 PM

    What a wonderful tribute to your sweet son, Oliver. Although we have never met I am privileged to know Taylor Matheson Robertson and that is how I came upon your blog. In 1981, my first son was stillborn and so I identified strongly with your words. My son died 3 weeks after his due date and I delivered him 10 days later. Hard, hard days those were. We too struggled with what to name him for the very reasons you did. I know you will always treasure the day you had to hold your precious baby. I must confess, I am somewhat jealous of that opportunity as in our situation, because of the circumstances I was never given the choice to see our sweet baby much less hold him. I remember my thoughts flipping from the irrational, he'll be so cold in the ground to the rational, when hearing other babies on the ward cry, ( because in those days I still had to be in the maternity ward) at least my baby will never cry for anything. No one, even after an autopsy was able to give us a reason for his death. They said from all they could see, he was a perfectly healthy baby. This did nothing to help us on our way to acceptance. You will miss your firstborn all of your life but do know that you will learn to cope better. It never gets easier- you just learn to handle it better. And so today, if I may use your words, I say. Christopher, I miss you every day. You made me a mother. I love you Christopher.

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