Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Perfect Storm

Gabriel was going to be my rainbow baby.

After I miscarried in May 2010, the positive pregnancy test indicating that Gabriel was on his way brought the color back to my world. I learned quickly that the rain hadn't necessarily disappeared when, on Baby Cude's due date and at four months pregnant with Gabriel, I woke up and immediately started crying at the memory of how that day was "supposed" to be. Gabriel had brought me hopes and dreams and a bit of sunshine again, but he hadn't "fixed" everything. It wasn't his job to fix everything. He was just a little, tiny baby, and that was his only duty. My duty as his mother was to love him and grow him, and in being able to do that for him alone, my world was brightened.

Then, like a clap of thunder, some doctor came storming into my world with her textbook explanation for the very complicated path that I was about to travel: My son, my rainbow, had a condition that was incompatible with life. A fatal condition. He would not live. He would die, shortly after his highly anticipated birth. And there wasn't a thing I did wrong to make him that way, but there also wasn't a single thing I could to to fix him, either.

What she didn't tell me was that I would somehow have to find a way to live. I would have to find a way to go on in a world where my children didn't. I would have to make my heart beat, I would have to will myself to function every day, and that every day would be matter of learning to go on without not one, but now two children.

She didn't tell me that my marriage couldn't sustain two losses in less than two years. She didn't tell me that this experience would push my husband over an insurmountable edge, and that he would never be the same and that he would never be able to be the husband and father that I needed him to be to continue in that marriage myself. She didn't tell me that what started out as a sincere, beautiful, mutual love would melt away, unable to endure this weather.

She could only predict a few things: That if my son were carried to term he stood a 25% of fetal demise before he was born; if born alive there was a 50% chance that he would die in one day or less; there was only a 25% chance that he would live longer than one day. She could only tell me in her clinical speech that I could expect a strom.

I was afraid of the cold and the ache, but I chose to stand in the rain. I braced myself for the storm and faced it knowing that although I wouldn't get to have a first day of kindergarten, or a high school graduation, or a lawyer or an MLB pitcher, or grandchildren from Gabriel, or his hand to hold on my deathbed, I would get to have experiences that I never got to have with Baby Cude. I would get to hold Gabriel. I would get to tell him, face-to-face, that I love him. I would get to hold him in his hour of need, and I would get to comfort him until his spirit left this earth.

I was promised that this storm would be lonely and sometimes unbearably painful, and still worth every moment. What a perfect storm I found myself wrapped in.

No one told me I would get to be that mother who got to keep her baby for ten days. No one told me I would get to bring him home from the hospital. No one told me he would feed, and poop, and smile. No one predicted his blond hair, his beautiful fingers, his perfect face. No one could make me believe that even after watching my son die a slow and struggle-filled death, I could feel such peace at the release of his soul. No one told me how my little boy would live 10 days and change the world.

Even as the storm raged on, even as I tried to adjust to life without my child and even as my ex-husband obliterated my hope that the marriage would ever produce another child, I was thankful for the rain. I was thankful for my perfect storm.

I took shelter among family and a group of friends that helped me want to carry on. One day an e-mail arrived in my Match.com inbox, like a ray of sunlight through the clouds. That e-mail turned into a first date, and a second, and then eventually a positive pregnancy test. My world began to fill in with color again.

As California faces a devastating drought, I cannot forget what it was like to live so long in the eye of a storm. When the physical world around me is dry and longing for water, longing for nourishment, can only be thankful for what I have weathered. Some people go their whole lives, and never get the opportunity to love like I have loved. Some people never have to get caught in the rain, but then, they never get to experience the rainbow.

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