Sunday, December 4, 2011

Diamond sweaters

Today was actually a good day. We went to church. We still are not up to the main service, but Sunday School is doable. I watched out of my eye as one of the ladies sat down (couldn't see who) and little legs kicked into view. Bare, just as Perry's would have been today if things had been different. It was a little sad, but I remembered how happy I was to have a baby on my lap in that same area. I felt so blessed to have him that I didn't want to put him in the nursery, I didn't need any 'relief'. We didn't mind changing him or wrestling with a nursing cover (except 'that' Sunday).

The class is a little like what I imagine a tame La Leche League meeting would be. There are many Moms in the group, some with double digit families.We can't get the children's ministry to understand that when the nursery workers don't show up, it is perfectly ring the babies to our classroom; they are all ours, and if another isn't it would be easily absorbed into the arms of a willing parent with older children. When the issue to many is finding the next step up from a van to fit everyone in the same vehicle, the women simply don't care much anymore about how strangers perceive them. They learn to take care of their kids efficiently. With Emily I was somewhat envious of that ability, and with Perry I made the attempt in what seemed like a safe place. It worked for a bit, but one Sunday Perry decided he wanted to take a look around the classroom. I had just about convinced myself nobody noticed, but when trying to discuss the dynamics of the class (why Perry was a fixture) Jeremy said 'you just don't look too closely at some of the women with young babies'. Here is where a video camera would help a bit, because while I have to laugh a little, I am sure my cheeks are red.

However, this same environment was a curse after my first miscarriage. I hid out like a cat under the house until I emerged one Sunday with Emily in my arms (The class was a bit puzzled, and somewhat miffed at being denied the ability to fulfill the Southern Baptist ministry of plying new families with food). But I loved holding Perry in this class instead of ushering him to the nursery, it is one of the things in my 'do not  regret category'. Even though I do not have Perry here anymore, I do not want to people to avoid the class with babies. I recognize that tomorrow is not guaranteed for anyone, each time you hold a baby or a young child it is a blessing to store away.

I guess if I have learned anything from my miscarriages it is that you will be sad, but life moves on. The babies or pregnancies that were around the same age as yours continue to progress. Women continue to become pregnant, bellies grow, and babies become taller. I can remember the pain as certain milestones passed with my other pregnancies and I would see pregnant women that were about where I should be. If you have not experienced a loss you are wonderfully naive. Women that miscarry or lose babies torture ourselves. We remain lurking in internet birth groups and subscribed to week by week progress newsletters because we are trying to hold onto our children. Years later, with another child in our arms, we will find ourselves remembering on what should have been a due date or a birthday. The missing never really goes away.

With Perry and Emily they were both advanced babies. Perry was a day shy of 5 months and yet he was right at the newlsetters that I received today for a 6 month old. Babbling, sitting up very briefly, rolling across the floor, recognizing his name, and knowing Mom or Daddy is different from strangers. From here on out I will face the choice of reading on as the babies outgrow him or erasing it like it is no longer valid material.

 He was starting to say syllables. He was starting to say MehMeh and I knew it was only a few short days or weeks from him realizing that the word made me happy because it meant me (MaMa)... or did he know? I'm not really sure. When I changed him I was starting to touch him and say his name, and then touch myself and say my name. Then I would say I love you and sign to him... and he smiled (right before kicking the cloth diaper basket onto the floor with enthusiasm) . With Emily I remembered that early attempts often seemed coincidence, until they happened too frequently and I realized they weren't. But that is another mystery I will never know. I wrote it anyway under his first word in his baby book... so many first are blank.

Today my husband held another baby in the class. I knew we were both crying a little. Before this, my husband never had a desire to hold a baby that wasn't his own. I realize that as horrible as this has been, this has changed us both, mostly for the better. My husband seems to have softened, even towards the neighbor that had assaulted him before. The neighbor had become enraged when my husband tried to ask him to stop riding his four wheelers... I was incredibly cranky and scheduled to be induced with Emily the next day. My husband said "Even if we eventually buy the land between us that he rides on, I don't think I'll ask him to stop. He is riding them with his son to make him happy, he is just too inward to look outside of himself. I don't want to keep him from being happy with his son."

As I was pondering the meaning of my husband changing, a young man walked in with dark short hair as we were heading out the door. I am sure that he caught me staring at him several times, he glanced at me quizically... I couldn't stop. My breath caught. It took a few minutes to figure out my intense curiosity and positive feeling. This young man was wearing almost the exact same sweater I dressed Perry Bryce in. I know because it has geometric diamonds on it, and I had found matching leg warmers that allowed me to show off Perry's cute fluff. Fluff = cloth diapers for the uninitiated. It seems odd that an infant sweater would almost be a ringer for something a late 20's, early 30's man would wear, but there it was.

It hit me that when I have been thinking of Perry in Heaven I have been trying to imagine what he will look like... a baby that I hold in my arms or a young man secure in Christ. This man was giving me a glimpse of what my son could look like now, rather than the pain inherit in the baby stage emails.

Now maybe I can unsubscribe, or even if I can't do that, maybe at least I will not find the need to read them?


  1. I don't even know where to start except to tell you that I really like the way you are able to face this by putting it all into words. Our losses are so different. You losing your baby son, plus the miscarriages, and me losing my son at 24 from suicide. I will say that the firsts are so hard. The first time you go somewhere that you were with them last. It is like you think they are going to just suddenly appear, and when it hits you that they aren't, it's like a ton of bricks on your chest. I still have not been able to bring myself to pack all of my son's things away. I left his room exactly the same until about 6 months ago, when I slowly (with help from my husband) started going through things and packing some things away. After it happened, I would just go in his room and look around, his car keys on the dresser, his wallet..I had to leave it like that because for a brief while I could stand in there and think he was just gone for awhile, and that he would be back anytime. I still call it "Roger's Room", although we have taken all of the old furniture with the exception of a few things out, put my piano and my grandmother's couch in there. That at least took the image out of my mind of finding him in the bed that day. Just know that my heart aches for you, and that even if I can't offer a word of comfort, or if I don't post a comment, I am reading, and I pray for you.

  2. Katie I imagine Perry to be a strong man in Christ as he has his wings and is teaching us all as he lives in Heaven. The softening of Chris is magical truely and for him to no longer want to stop the 4 wheelers but rather relish the notion he is making memories with his son brings me tears. Tears of sadness but also joy. Love to you both and I am here reading along and praying for you all daily. THe kids ask daily how you are and we often mention Perry when we see some magic colors in the sunset or the morning mist rising off the river. We think of it as a gift from him in Heaven letting us know that he is secure and knows our love!