rock star baby

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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T-minus zero

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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my place

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

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

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

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

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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back under

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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