“I asked for those flowers because I wanted a reminder of your life, and your birth that was also your death but yet, it was a birth.”
By Sabrina Fletcher
This week I should have been entering the third trimester of my second pregnancy. The trimester of “Oh, when are you due?” and of “Oh wow, you’re having a baby!”… and the trimester of maternity tops and stretchy elastic band pants and round round bellies (and other parts). But you, my baby, are not here with me.
The air is chilly and wet as I step outside to throw the compost onto the pile in our yard. The rainy season arrived early this year. I was looking forward to having a cool, rainy-season baby. I was going to get out my wraps and carriers, baby blankets and tiny little fleece jackets made for the tiniest of humans.
My first daughter was born right in the middle of the hot hot hot season here in Mexico where we live. It was so hot when she was a newborn that we would hang up her freshly washed diapers just to pull them down, dry as a bone, less than two hours later. I actually had to be careful not to leave them out too long for fear that they would lose all their brilliant colors – the reds and greens and yellows, the pinks and purples. But not this year.
This year was going to be different. You were going to be different. You were going to be wrapped in my arms, with no worry of us both sweating through our clothes just to cuddle and stay close.
Instead what I got were postpartum hot flashes, with the kind of sweat that stinks like a hard day’s labor. Teenage boy sweat. After losing you so soon, too soon. I had to wash every single piece of clothing that touched my body for what seemed like just a half an hour’s worth of wear.
Today as I throw out the compost, the birds are singing just as sweetly as they were the morning after we found out you were so sick. You were so sick with hydrops and cystic hygroma. The doctor said your heart would probably stop beating at any moment.
I throw out the vegetable scraps left over from the bubbling chicken soup that is wafting its healing aroma through the house as I write this. Somewhere down in this pile are a bunch of flowers that your dad got for me after you were…”born?” Died? Taken out of my body? Still, I asked for those flowers. I asked for those flowers because I wanted a reminder of your life, and your birth that was also your death but yet, it was a birth. I wanted to connect my current memories to the wonderful memories of my living daughter’s birth, your sister’s birth. Upon waking from a well-needed nap the day after your older sister was born, I had looked over to my bedside table and saw the most beautiful bouquet of purple and white bursting flowers I had ever seen. My parents, sending their love from afar as they hopped on a plane and got there as quickly as they could, had somehow figured out how to send me flowers directly to my house.
Those flowers, my first daughter’s “congratulations on the birth” flowers, and your flowers are now gone. Your flowers are not completely gone though. They are changing shape. They are transforming into something else, into something new, just a few inches down in my compost pile. Soon they will become dark, deep, rich, nourishing humus for other plants in my garden.
It’s been three months since you’ve changed shape. I don’t know where you are now. And I probably won’t ever know.
But the birds are singing. The grass is green and growing long again. I won’t have you in my arms this cold, rainy season. But the birds are still singing.