Saturday, September 24, 2011

My baby has a Grandma

I'm not talking about Finn. For the record, Finn has two wonderful Grandmas that are a big part of his life. He gets to see them often - he knows them, trusts them, has fun with them and loves them to death. And they are so in love with him. I should write more posts about them (or just more posts in general....). But they are exactly what grandmas should be and I am so happy he has them both in his life.

But this post is not about Finn and his Grandmas. I'm talking about my other baby. My baby who didn't make it.

When I was pregnant the first time, G$ and I did not want to find out the sex. I really wanted that ultimate surprise, what I imagined would be a moment like no other in my life. After nine long months of pregnancy and hours and hours of labor and pushing to finally give birth to your baby and have the doctor say "It's a....!" before placing him or her on your chest and you meet face to face for the first amazing that must be. So we told people over and over that no, we were NOT going to find out the sex of the baby (apparently that is just not done very often anymore), we planned on painting the baby's room blue no matter what (yes, I think girls can have a blue room), we expected to get tons of yellow and green clothes, and we worked on picking out two names. I can't even remember the boys names that we discussed but I know there wasn't a frontrunner. But we both had a girl's name we really liked. Naomi. That was G$'s beloved grandmother's middle name. We hadn't officially decided since I was only 5 months pregnant, but I know its what we would have gone with.

After we lost her, we did not name her. At the time, it just didn't feel necessary to either of us. Maybe it was too soon, too painful. Maybe I just didn't know that it was an option. A loss at 5 months is a weird thing. Not a miscarriage, not a stillbirth. I don't know. Even to this day, when I think about her, I mostly think of her as simply "my baby." But a year or so after we lost her, I felt the need to acknowledge her with a name. I just started to feel like she deserved a name. She never got to be a living baby or a real person, but she was a little life who mattered so much to me and to my husband. She was worthy of a name. Naomi. Its not on a birth certificate or a headstone. In fact, until the last few weeks, I don't think I even told another person besides my husband. But I knew. And I'd like to think that she knew.

A couple of months ago, a friend's daughter had a baby and they named her Naomi. This person is a very close family friend - one of my parents best friends. The "celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas together" type of friend. He has two daughters, one of whom is a very dear friend of mine. I am not particularly close to the daughter who had the baby, but I still felt so happy that a baby who will be in the lives of people who are like family to me will have this beautiful name. A living, healthy baby is named Naomi and people I love will know her and love her. They will hold her and hug her and watch her grow and get to do all the things over the years that I will not get to do with my Naomi. And that makes me happy. I don't know if saying that it also feels bittersweet is quite right because I don't really feel bitter about it at all. But it makes me happy and want to cry at the same time.

So our family friend went to visit his daughter and the baby a couple of weeks ago (she lives out of state). I sent him with a gift for the baby and a card for his daughter saying basically what I said above. I think telling her about my baby was important for me - another small way of acknowledging her life and small impact on the world. The thank you card she sent back really affected me and actually changed the way I think about my baby. But timeout for a little backstory.

Her mom Kathie (who was my mom's best friend) passed away 7 or 8 years ago. She fought a long and tough battle with breast cancer. She was one great lady - a real character. I have a tattoo of a pink ribbon with her initials on my left breast in the spot where her tumor was. Her daughter (my friend, not the one who has Naomi) and two other friends have the same tattoo. I have watched my friend struggle with the loss of her mother over the years and I just can't imagine what it feels like. And like I said earlier, I am not very close to her sister, but I imagine that not having your mother as you become one yourself is incredibly hard.

So back to the thank you note. She wrote: "Thank you for sharing with me about Naomi. One thing I do know (or believe) is that my mom is loving on your Naomi. I am sure they are together all the time." I read this and just cried and cried. For one thing, it is huge that someone else called my baby by her name. Someone knows her name and a bit of her story and acknowledged her. And that means so much to me. But more importantly, I love the thought of my baby and Kathie together somewhere. I'm not a religious person, but I still believe in the idea of a "heaven" or something like it or SOMETHING. The soul or the spirit or the essence or whatever you want to call it of my baby is SOMEWHERE. I believe this. And it gives me comfort I have never felt to imagine my baby with someone I knew and loved. I have this picture in my head of Kathie holding my baby and it just fills my heart with so much emotion. My baby has someone to be her grandma and Kathie has my baby to love on. What a gift this person gave me - two lines in a thank you card that brought me so much joy. And another step forward in my grief. I'm not a good enough writer to properly put it into words, but it has really shifted the way I think about my baby. It makes me smile. And that does not happen very often when I think about her.

Its been over four years since I lost her. And in those four years I have mostly focused on the pain and sadness of losing her. Which I think is understandable because it was such a traumatic experience. And the sadness and pain are not gone. I don't think they ever will completely go away. But now for the first time, when I think about her, I can honestly smile and picture her a in a beautiful place. And that brings me so much comfort. Grief is such a complicated journey. But for this moment at least, I have found some more peace.