Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Finn 8


Sometimes I wonder if he was even real, was he really mine? He was in my arms for such a short time - born at 5:39 on Wednesday, September 18th and gone by 3:17 on September 29th (though he was recessutated and fought for for nearly another day, in my heart I knew he was gone when I found him). After he was born I said over and over that I couldn't believe he was mine. He was so beautiful, every little bit of him was perfect. 
It's impossible to try to accept that his perfect little body is gone now. He grew inside me for so long, he was part of me. I can't physically adjust to it, I can't emotionally understand. All those beautiful, perfect parts as ashes, some of which hang around my neck in a locket I'll never, ever let go of.

My precious baby boy. 

The photo of the photo above, on our dining room table after his service. It was taken in our room together for the first night sine he was born. It was Saturday evening, September 21st.
He was wrapped in his blue blanket (I'll keep it with me always) and wearing one of my favourite soft cotton hats - which I had thought was so small before he was born but it was actually way too big for his little newborn head.
At the moment of the photo I think we were both grateful to finally be together. He had been in the NICU since his birth on Wednesday in the late afternoon. I was so happy to have him there snuggled against my chest.

He spent most of the night either crying or nursing, and I think I got about two hours sleep; it was a real welcome to life with a newborn kind of nights. Not easy by any measure, but I was actually excited about it. 
I never really got to the point of the ugly sleep deprivation. He left too soon.


Finn 7

I remember this day, sitting in the same chair I'm in now by the fire. Finn slept against my heart between nursing sessions and nothing else mattered. I'd give anything to be back in this moment.

He was so content. I was so happy. I've remembered and cherished these moments from when Hannah was a baby and had been looking forward to the feeling of a baby sleeping on my chest again for so long.

How can he be gone? I don't understand. I don't understand. I don't understand. I miss him so much.

Finn 6

Yesterday I had so many words swirling through my mind, today - nothing. Blank. I can't even remember simple keyboard commands, or how to download the photos off my camera. It has taken me hours this morning to accomplish anything.
I stood on the doorstep trying to take a photo a photo of the sun rising. (Apparently I've also lost my ability to operate my camera. I stood there in the doorway as the sunrise began with my camera staring at the controls - I knew what I wanted to change but not how to do it.) 
Today's was the second sunrise I've seen since that last Saturday. 
I've been sleeping through them all, until yesterday.  

I know that had Finn not died 
I would be on that doorstep every morning 
with an infant in the Moby 
and a camera in my hands. 
I've imagined that image for a long time. 
Watching sunrises (and moon-rises) with Finn was something I was so looking forward to. There is so much to watch from his window - every window. I imagined playing I Spy with him, and told him so. In the few days we had together in our chair by the window I talked to him about all the things I could see - that he soon would, and how much fun the two of us were going to have watching the world go 'round before our eyes.
his hair
his precious precious hair
look at how perfect his little head is
"Finn watches freighters from the front door." was how I captioned this photo. Edie commented that I should take the same shot every year of his life - I thought that was such a great idea. I imagined so many years of sitting on the steps with him, watching cars go by eating popsicles.

My head is full of all these imagined moments; I think of all the things I was going to do with him and sink when reality reminds me he's gone... and I'll be doing these things without him. For so long the only thing I've imagined myself doing was being a new mom again - the walks we would be going on, the swim classes I had eagerly looked into in August, Kindermusic, and all the mommy and me activities ...not only all of those things, but the images of how I would be going about daily tasks with a young person again, and looking forward to simple things like having him in the swing in the middle of the kitchen while I cooked, or trying to take a shower when there's nobody else around. Doing these things now feels awkward ... it takes me a few seconds to realize why it feels awkward - again the sinking feeling sets in. It's that emptiness again. I miss him so incredibly much.

I was awake around three this morning. Couldn't sleep, head swirling with too many horrible images. Images I'm to be facing and dealing with, but hurt too much right now so I keep trying to cover them up with memories of Finn when he was alive, when he was home, when everything was so good. The painful memories haunt me in my sleep, wake me rattled, weak, disoriented. 

I've been having regular acupuncture sessions with Sarah since Finn's death which, as always, have been extremely helpful and healing. It's not just the needles but her compassion, friendship, gentleness, and calming presence. She's been working a lot on breathing, and how to use concentrated breaths to help pull me together when images and reality make me fall apart. I've been holding my breath - I catch myself doing it often, only realizing what I'm doing when my body suddenly gasps for air. I immediately think of Finn, his death, and I panic. Sarah's breathing techniques don't stop the breath holding from happening, but if I can get it together in time hopefully I can eventually learn to take a concentrated breath before the panic sets in.

I tried to breathe last night - just breathe.. I told myself to think of nothing but breathing. It's so much harder to do than it should be. 

I tried to think about nothing but my breaths and the steps I took on a walk yesterday, trying to tune my body, get some rhythm back. It was impossible. I probably looked drunk stumbling along the sidewalk. My postpartum body doesn't know how to sort itself out. My hips are still sore, shifting. My incision is still open and being packed every day by VON nurses and distracted me the whole time I walked. It hurt through it's numbness - kind of like all of me. I'm in a fog, I'm numb, I hurt.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Finn 5

Of all the special knit hats I collected for Finn,
this was the only one he ever wore.

Nobody would have ever have seen this photo if he hadn't died.
I was just playing around with the hat and the backdrop,
seeing if I liked the two together. 
I was just preparing for a photo session, 
this was taken with my iPhone. 
I never even got to take a single photo of Finn with my camera.

I love looking at his little body,
the little wrinkles on his back,
his eyes open, him all curled up
still used to being inside me.

Finn 4

He was so alert and had such curious eyes. I loved watching his work to focus on things and look at me. I could feel him studying me. I wondered who he was going to become, what kinds of things he would like, what he would study, ...I could tell he would be an interesting person, intelligent, a thinker, involved.

Finn 3

I'm feeling such disbelief over what has happened that everything now seems like a dream, or a movie that I'm watching. I don't even think things sound right to me, like everything around me is being filtered through something. I'm a part of it but not at the same time. Every now and then reality hits and the pain washes over and through me just like it did when I was told he was going to die, that he was already gone. It's like somebody dumps a bucket of ice water over me but it washes over me internally, a hot/cold sensation. It hurts.

He was only six pounds two ounces at his first, and last, doctor visit when he was a week old. He was so little but I was still trying to memorize the so many little bits of him - I worry now that I won't remember, that I didn't have enough time, there aren't enough photos.


I remember commenting to Rohan about Finn's knees 
and how big they were 
and how I thought he was going to be tall. 

I can't believe he's gone. Sometimes I can't believe he was ever even real. Was the time with him all just a dream?
I'm so outside of myself right now. This can't be my life, this couldn't have happened.

We met with Hugh Walker yesterday - grief counselling. (I can't believe I'm going to grief counselling for my baby.) He talked about the absurd, and the impossibility of accepting the absurd as truth (I should go over the notes he sent us home with) and that things like this aren't meant to make sense so trying to understand it is pointless. I think I knew as soon as it happened that I would never reconcile this.
It was helpful yesterday, the session with Hugh. I have pretty much no recollection of what was said right now (helping me understand why he gave us the notes) but do know that what was said made sense - at a time when nothing is making sense to me.

The days and weeks following Finn's death are all a blur to me. I remember every second of his final hours, but after that it's all just jumbled. Now fuzzy.

It was the morning of his last day with us that I took the photos of his feet. It was more challenging than I expected to take photos of baby feet with an awake baby - he was kicking and stretching and I marveled at how familiar his movements were. I could remember him moving like that inside me. After having imagined those feet for so long, there they were kicking before my eyes. They were perfect.

Finn 2

I knew I would miss being pregnant before he was even born. I loved being pregnant - ailments and all discomfort aside, I loved it. I knew I would. I loved the feeling of a baby - a new little person with so many possibilities growing inside me, watching my belly grow, and documenting it all with almost daily belly shots.

Sometimes, now, I wish he was still inside me. I miss the anticipation and excitement. I miss feeling him move (Really move - I'm still having phantom feelings of him inside me. Perhaps they're real, just twinges as my postpartum body sorts itself out, trying to return to "normal"...).

I've been feeling really homesick for Pearl Street. I haven't been there since the early morning of September 18th, leaving in labour and thinking nothing of it - just of a new baby and a new house - a new life. Now I really miss the old everything. We have had some good times there - lots of them. Lots of difficult times too, but when I think of the house I think of over crowded tables with too much food (and wine?), lots of noise, lots of silence, beautiful evenings on the balcony, beautiful mornings on the balcony. I miss watching and waving to my neighbours - having Heather at arms reach, T and T's boys paying on the street, the playful sounds of the back lane ...my garden.
This house sort of lacks the neighbourhood feeling that Pearl Street had. My view now is great - can't beat it,  right(?), ..but I find myself longing for the familiar view of the street, the trees, the people nearby. I feel like everyone is so far away now with no sidewalk directly outside my door even though we purposely moved away from that, thinking the distance was better. It's really hard to say what's "better" sometimes.

I think I'm equating a lot of my homesickness with missing being pregnant. The memories that flash most through my head right now all have to do with being pregnant - everything from morning sickness and days on the couch with headaches to trying to induce labour by bouncing on the ball in the living room, decorating that incredible nursery, waddling out to the balcony (I can still smell the air from that balcony, feel it... that balcony was some kind of magical), bellyshots around the house and garden...  .
I have more memories of being pregnant with Finn than being with Finn. 
I think about it constantly now. 

So much happened in the time I was carrying him, life changed so drastically. I credited my pregnancy with saving me through the loss of my mother. As hard as it was to face having a baby without her, my baby gave me reason to take care of myself and not fall apart.
Sometimes, now, I wonder if she had to die so that she could be there (wherever there is) for Finn. I like to imagine them together - with my father too. Sometimes I picture Finn as a little boy between them holding their hands. I like to imagine him safe with her, learning from her. Were their lives and deaths somehow connected?

How completely unfair. My heart is so broken.

I think about all the places 
Finn and I 
went together while he was inside me. 

When I go out now I find myself remembering

"I was here with Finn"

"I walked this path with Finn"

and when I'm in my own world thinking 
I remember trips we went on - to Ottawa (and one of the first bellyshots on Parliament Hill)

and to Duluth, twice, to get the car we needed for our expanding family.
I think about all the places Finn and I went on my scooter (breaking my promise to my mother that I wouldn't ride while pregnant).

I so badly want to turn back time, have my belly back, have my baby back. 
The emptiness is painful and is going to slowly swallow me for the rest of my life.

The last bellyshot, 
taken the day before he was born 
during the final walk-through of the new house before closing:

Finn 1

I was instantly crazy in love with him. He was cuter than I could have ever imagined. 
He was perfect. 
I love this photo of him.

Our first skin to skin time.

Forty weeks plus five days of being together with him growing inside me, 
and this was the first time (finally) I got to see his face. 

It had felt like it was the longest wait. We've been waiting to see this face for four years.
After having miscarried twice, I worried the whole pregnancy that I would lose the baby; but he was here now - he was laying on my chest and he was healthy and beautiful.
(Obviously a whole new kind of worry sets in after a baby is born, but you don't usually let your wildest nightmare think those thoughts.) 

I remember squealing and crying, saying over and over again that I couldn't believe he was mine, ...he was so, so cute. His resemblance to his father is so present in this moment - he looks like a Millar boy - I had a little mini Rohan resting on me in this moment.

It was a long labour he and I had just gone through together. He didn't like it much (neither did I); so after just a few attempts at pushing and watching his heart rate drop on the monitor it was decided a cesarean would be best. I just wanted my baby in my arms alive.
He had swallowed meconium and was wrapped in his cord and was not permitted to cry when he was born - and act that undoubtedly saved his life. The only part I saw of him was his feet while Rohan was given the chance to announce our baby's gender, which he did by saying, "We have a Finn!"
I couldn't hear him or see him after that, it was just a blur of doctors after that hovering around Finn to the right of me, with Rohan still behind me by my head holding my hand, and a lot of disorientation (and the shakes) from the surgery I was still undergoing. I kept asking if he was okay, but even then I didn't think anything would go wrong. He was born.

The time spent in recovery is now a blur, and now seems like it was just a short time (I don't think it was). I remember Rohan and Hannah coming in, showing me photos of Finn, telling me how cute he was. Even Dr. G. took photos with her phone and showed me.
(Finn was in the NICU after his ordeal, and would spend the next three days in there recovering and balancing his sugars.) 
When they wheeled me in to see Finn for the first time I was ready with my iPhone (bride cam turned baby cam). This photo is one of the first photos I took of him.