Late Tuesday, June 11th, my husband and I were parents for 34 minutes.
It is very hard to write, but I feel I must. If I don’t, I’ll burst.
A while back, I wrote a post about the fragility of life, about my experiences here on the ranch raising livestock. How sometimes, things simply don’t work out like you planned. Tuesday night was like that.
Throughout that afternoon and evening of labor, I had no doubts everything would be fine. Like all new parents-to-be, I was full of hope and a fierce determination that soon our little family would be larger, and that we would hold our healthy infant son and cry tears of joy and that the rest of our lives would be forever changed for the better by the tiny little soul I was working to present to the world. When the nurses expressed concern over his heartrate, inwardly I laughed them off. Not my son! He was strong and lively — I knew him well after the last nine months. My baby boy would prove them all wrong.
As I got close, it became evident things were not so cheery. I began to feel concern as the room filled up with medical professionals preparing for emergency work, but I ground my teeth together and kept on, because there was only one way out of the situation and that was to finish what my husband and I started.
Then, he was born. Time stopped. The two, weak little cries he gave were one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve ever heard. The medical team sprang into action, and we waited.
There are no words for the numbness and shock of watching the future — the life you had planned for and prepared for — fall apart. No matter how many times I have seen it happen here on the farm, no matter how many times I have watched others go through loss… it is so, so different when it’s your own life. And it is so hard to accept. Grief is blinding. It sears a hole in your gut that can’t be filled. It sneaks into every crevice like a quiet mouse, it permeates the very air like polluted exhaust. As the minutes tick by into days, it remains in every shadow, waiting to spring out at you like a villain from a bad B-grade horror movie. You can’t escape it, can’t go around it — the only way is through. One step at a time.
That’s where I am now. Slowly taking one step, and then another. I am grateful for small mercies — loving family, good friends, sunny days, and the fact that I am small enough again that I can hold my dear guitar. A guitar is a poor substitute for the child I want to hold instead, but the comfort of music is never anything to be denied. I am a musician, and I can curl up in between those notes and let them say what I can’t. I can let them coat that seared hole like a balm. It makes it easier, though it will never, ever be truly easy.
34 minutes is too short of a time for anything, and yet, it was my entire world.