What comes after

We met with our doula support team yesterday (after our lengthy doctor’s appointment and the c-section decision process). They were wonderful and sympathetic – amazing listeners. It was an exhausting meeting though, because we re-hashed everything that we’ve been through, the decisions that we’ve come to, and the things to come. It was a 2 hour meeting. About an hour and a half into it, I suddenly felt a tidal wave of fatigue wash over me. I could’ve tipped my head back and fallen asleep, sitting up on the couch, mid-sentence. I find this happens frequently. Exhaustion comes out of nowhere.

Yesterday, when meeting with the doulas, they gently suggested that we should consider what we want if James isn’t to survive his birth or much longer afterwards.  I don’t spend much time dwelling on the thought of James dying. Partly this is because I can’t control it or stop it and partly it’s because I think I would curl up in the fetal position and give up if I did. I have tried to relentlessly focus on the joy of his impending birth, to focus on being prepared, on enjoying this lull for the next 2 weeks before our lives really and finally change forever.While I’ve known the truth of their recommendation for some time, I have tried to avoid looking at the decision head-on. Once they said it, the Pandora’s box in my head was opened, and now the emotions are flooding me.

Bury him? Take my precious, tiny son, put him in a box, and put him in the ground to rot away slowly? This life that has grown inside me for the past 8 months – extinguished forever? This vigorous baby that I can feel kicking me even as I type these words? Cremate him? Take his sweet, perfect baby body and consign it to ashes? Scatter them somewhere peaceful and beautiful, never to be seen again?

Bring him home for a while after he dies – bring him to the house that he never knew, lay him in our bed, sleep with him beside me like I’ve slept with my other 2 babies – even though I will never know the sweetness of nighttime nursing, that warm little body pressed against the S curve of my body, and the nighttime baby sighs of contentment?

I hate funeral homes. I hate funerals. Death in our country has become so hushed. Every funeral I’ve gone to – all I can think about is the muted quality of the funeral home – thick carpeting, thick drapes, no natural light, pews, rows of people mourning the dead in a totally unnatural environment.

Why not say goodbye to James somewhere that feels like it can match my grief? Why not go to the top of Mt Mitchell when it is storming and wild with lightning, rain, and wind? Why not scream my grief into that? Why not tear out my hair and sob instead of quietly standing in a line, accepting condolences from kind-hearted friends and family? Why the hushed, restraint of a funeral home?

I sit here, sobbing with grief, and I can’t see any answers to these questions. I know many, many others have bravely faced this before me, and many will face it after me, but right now, I don’t know how it’s possible to even consider what to do with my baby’s body, should it come to that. Or really, WHEN it comes to that. Even if he beats the odds and lives to his teen years, he will always be my baby, and I will always outlive him.

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