rock star baby

The NICU gave us technicolour eyes and ears and hearts. Knowing not just cerebrally but in the fabric of ourselves that this stuff really, truly does happen to people. Flooded with nonstop empathy for those crying out in the world, “why us?” I don’t know why. But at least I can say I know how it feels, to feel that way. And that’s something to offer: company.

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calculated risk

The conversation stalls, suddenly unwanted by both of us. Like being at a Bill Lynch fairground and getting to the front of the Scrambler lineup just in time to see a kid puke at the height of the spin cycle. How terrifying it is to love this much, to hold pure human energy in your hands. To have it evoke such frantic wanting in you, and hope, and fear, and joy.

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the spoils of coney island

It could be the necessary ravings of a grieving mother, but I feel like the leaves and trunks and grasses and waves watch us as we pass, trying to tell us something. The most eerie sensation, this deliberate, conscious presence. I know it not because I'm desperate, but because it's been revealed to me as a truth I didn't need to contemplate before.

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winners on the flip-side

I stare at the donation card and it stares back, stuck up on the wall with all the others. From Evan & Ben & Liam. For a moment I wonder if some kind of magic will go POUF! and in some parallel universe my eldest is at playschool while I browse through the aisles pushing a double stroller.

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T-minus zero

Sometimes I reach down and touch the incision: still painful, queeby numbness. It will never let me forget that night. This purple bump-strip is the remains of a nightmare. But then… it's sacred, too. Three months ago tonight I sat with a heating pad on my back, unknowingly breathing through contractions, crying in frustration that I just wasn’t tough enough to bear twins. You know how the rest goes.

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12:33 AM

Liam comes to me alone in the kind of darkness that has nothing to do with night. Not him exactly but the demon of what happened to him, the caricature of memory that taunts and stings. The shaking woke me up but the demon keeps me fitful, clinging to me at night when I am unable to shoo it away with the blessed busyness of life.

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power in resignation

A commenter on the last post drove by and with her head lolling out the window like a golden retriever she barked Lordy, this is depressing! and I’d never seen her before and then she was gone and it got me to thinking about declarations and litterbugs and a few other things.

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my place

If I have to look at one more piece of paper, fill out one more form with NAME OF DECEASED: LIAM STEWART INGLIS printed on the top, I’m going on strike. Words I cannot even utter for what they refer to, like cremation, taunt me in certificate form, swing back and knock me between the eyes like boomerangs. Insult after insult in triplicate, injustice that demands bureaucratic ownership.

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consignment

When Liam died, there wasn’t much we had to return. It’s not as though we had a baby blue ‘li’l sluggers’ nursery ready with two matching cribs and two carseats and two of everything else. I had figured I had two boobs, and at least for the immediate future, that would be enough. But this morning I went to a local secondhand shop to drop off our extra Jolly Jumper, the one indispensable thing we had to duplicate along with fetuses. I cried all the way there.

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messages for mama

Stepping into parenthood, we are all blindfolded until we come out the other side. Of every hundred, one or two of us disappear into an abyss. I don’t do too well with silence, tending to fill it with chatter. But you and I, the other one or two, we speak with eyes and mouths and heart-memory and vibration, sending back and forth to one another yes, yes, I know this, and it is mine, and yours, and we share it together through a link more powerful than what else we may or may not have in common.

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blood in the sand

As I turn the corner I see her at the end of the hallway, walking away from me: the young clinician who put a stethoscope to my son’s heart and declared him gone. She has a cup of Tim Horton’s in one hand and lunch in the other and seems hurried, utilitarian. She disappears through a set of double-doors and I press my nose to his head to inhale his scent, once more just the two of us, veterans of this nonstop beige. This place is my Afghanistan.

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tightening the chains

The thing that crouches in the dark place urges pregnancy as just punishment. Another attempted gateway for a soul who tried to come through to us. Redemption. Thankfully my dark thing is chained to the wall. It clatters around but is not set loose to wreak havoc. Such a monumentous event shouldn’t be triggered because the universe dared to screw with me, damaged goods trying to prove otherwise. Not triggered from a place of post-trauma but of peace, if ever.

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a funeral

Last night I sat up in bed grasping to remember Liam. With each month he feels more distant, trapped down the smudgy viewfinder of a pinhole camera, fading, the memory of him breaking up and drifting in all directions. Sometimes I squint, try to see double. Sometimes I feel irrevocably messed up. fucked up. broken.

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back under

Ben is on an operating table at this moment. Maybe the same one that held Liam? Maybe. Down here on the third floor faces seem vaguely familiar, scents and industry and stacks of johnny shirts, blankets. Vacant cribs and ventilators lined up in rows through the hallways, draped in ethereal plastic that swishes as you walk past. The pre-op nurse shows me around and as she does I feign freshman appreciation like I need to know, like I didn't live here for two months.

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in spirit

Once again trying to sleep despite several neonatal emergency alarms, knowing that two floors above someone else's nightmare has come true. Fighting the 2 AM urge to wander the empty halls in my sweats, press UP on the elevator, go to room 702, hold her hand. I will my spirit to do so, curled up in the dark.

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unruffled by frump and solitude

Through all this many of you at one time or another said 'you're so strong', as if you wouldn't be. But you would. When you're in it and the doctors say follow me you follow, and when they say do this, you do. You get swept up in the system, both propelled and abandoned at the same time. You have no choice but to bear it. 

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the robot

I spend a lot of time with my face against Ben's, cheek to mouth, mouth to ear, cooing, knocking up against his flesh with mine because I hope it soothes him, reminds him of shared space and company that calms. Or maybe I'd like a little of that for myself, and I take it from him.

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letter from my son

Everything that touched me is in that old box, the sailmaker’s chest, ventilator tape and monitor leads and a snip of the fuzz from the top of my head and an inkpress of my foot, and I know you stare at that box from the outside but you don’t open it. It’s okay, mama.

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