Thursday, July 24, 2014

One Month

The milestones do not go unnoticed, even though Livia and Lucy aren't here on earth to celebrate with.

Today it's been one month since I gave birth to my tiny, perfect twin daughters. For other mamas, one month is celebrated with pictures on Facebook, exclamations of "I can't believe it's been a month already!" or "Look at how big she's getting!"

Well, I can't believe it's been a month already either. But my sweet ones aren't here to measure. In my memories, Livia will always be one pound, and Lucy will be thirteen ounces. Their hands and feet will always be so tiny that my engagement and wedding rings could fit around their wrists and ankles. They will always be even smaller than the little stuffed bears which my dear friend brought to the hospital for them. For me, one month is celebrated by bouquets a sweet friend brought me– with roses in the bouquet for Livia Rose– and talking about their birth, and remembering.

What has surprised my friends to learn is that giving birth to my stillborn daughters was not a horrible or traumatic experience. Eyes have widened as I've tried to express just how much I love remembering my labor and their birth– how beautiful it was, not just in retrospect, but at the time– and how, if I could, I would go back and do it over again in a heartbeat. I can see the puzzled "why?" in peoples' expressions even though they don't give it voice, and I try to explain: giving birth to my girls was the only thing we were ever able to do together as a family. My husband was there, my rock of unrelenting, tender support and love. And together with my mom and sister, we spent the long hours laughing, weeping, breathing through contractions, and giving our girls the best gift we could– a gentle, patient, loving birth.

Because we are a family, and during those hours of labor and birth, we were a family in some way still whole, even though the souls of our sweet girls were already in Heaven. We still got to see our girls, to hold them and cherish them and cry over them. For me, the trauma didn't begin until I had to say goodbye to Livia and Lucy's bodies, the bodies I had carried for twenty-three weeks, the bodies my own body had grown and nurtured.

So yes, I remember, and honor, and celebrate the birth of my daughters. I cherish the remembrance of every detail: the compassionate care of our doctor and nurses; how we all giggled about Nate and my sister Emily and my mother all taking turns napping on the hospital bed (since bed was the last place I wanted to be); how I read the last chapter of The Horse and His Boy out loud at a lickety-split pace because the contractions were intensifying and I wanted to finish the book before they got any worse; how we joked about sabotaging the contraction monitor just to freak the paranoid doctor out; how our wonderful, kind doctor (not the paranoid doctor) called Livia and Lucy by name as I was pushing; how our last nurse had tears in her eyes as she hugged us goodbye; how lightly and easily the girls both rested in my arms after they'd been tenderly wrapped in tiny blankets. How I sobbed over their stillness and quietness. How our photographer smiled at them and called them, "Ladies," as she gently arranged them to take their pictures.

There's something about their birth date, June 24. It's three days before their daddy's June birthday. And I was born on the 24th of September. It is a good birth date for our girls: a little gift from God to bring them even closer, to remind us that they will always be ours.

Nate and I say it often to each other: Livia and Lucy are still our sweet, precious daughters. We are still a family of four.

We are simply separated for a time, and while we wait for reunion, we will remember.

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