May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
-Irish Blessing

Monday, October 24, 2011

Knowing What I Knew

Knowing what I knew from carrying Wyatt to term altered my experience carrying Eli to term. Both babies had Potter's Syndrome, both bilateral renal agenesis (meaning they did not have either kidney), both turned out to be little boys though despite many ultrasounds their genders were not revealed until birth. But this is a tale of two very different pregnancies. I knew as much a year ago when we received Eli's diagnosis as I know now and despite that knowledge I wasn't able to alter the course that I took.

That is very difficult for me and it is my only regret. Knowing what I knew affected me in such a profound way that it seeped into every aspect of my daily life. I shared news of Wyatt's diagnosis with family, friends and co-workers but told few other people while I was pregnant. My husband and I continued to rent movies, go to church, go out to eat and to the movies, shopping, etc. I lived and I bonded. With Eli things were inevitably different. I had three little girls who demanded a lot of my time, energy and attention in addition to a loving husband who also needed time, energy and attention. I chose to enter the public realm as little as possible, often at times when I wouldn't be around many people and because it was winter I was always able to conceal my smaller than usual belly from prying eyes. I retreated and hid, not emerging until months after Eli passed away. Almost like I was sent away to have a baby in secret and wanted no one to know so that when I returned I could just pick things back up where I left off. Of course, that's not really how things work when your baby dies.

Eli's pregnancy was not what Wyatt's was. Physically they were different, the babies in utero carried and moved differently. I never confused them despite all the similarities. I knew that I was not bonding with Eli and I really really tried. But, again, knowing what I knew, it was just too difficult. Too devastating to become attached to a baby that I knew had no hope. A baby that I knew, if born alive, would take his last breath shortly thereafter. Eli didn't make it easy either. He wasn't a big mover so my family didn't even get to feel his movements until I think I was about seven months pregnant, there were few sweet belly kicks and few times that hands besides mine were laid on my belly to feel him, there just usually wasn't anything to feel and it often took far too long to keep one of the girls interested before they felt a kick. His personality was so much more subdued than any of our other kids, it was like he knew what would happen and did his best to make it easy on all of us for when his time came. Wyatt was the opposite. He was strong and moved strong and never let me forget what a little fighter he was. He was born with fisted hands which looked just like a little boxer. Eli was smaller, softer and quieter and he slipped through our hands much quicker. I don't know what I could have done differently but that question will always be with me. Always.

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