3 Years Old

Samuel is three today! I’m looking at a coffee table full of train parts I need to put together, thus hoping he naps long enough for me to finish this post, finish making bread, and finish assembling the little random million parts of the train set. Not a bad life at all. What more can I say? He’s the funniest kid, full of commentary on the world around him, very compassionate yet as prone as any little kid to losing his temper and lashing out. He can throw a hell of a tantrum, and I find them annoying but also rather impressive.

At his 2.5 year appointment, the doctor asked how many words he can string together in a sentence. Ha. The kid can talk. I don’t know if you all could understand everything he says, but let me give you an example. About a week ago, Josh and Samuel picked me up somewhere, and then we dropped Josh off somewhere else. I asked Samuel to tell me about his day. I don’t think Samuel stopped talking until I left him in his room to fall asleep an hour and a half later. Actually, he stopped talking to me at that point, but I don’t think he stopped talking to his cars and Scooby Doo figurines for another 40 minutes. I got a full narrative of what he’d done from the moment I dropped him off at daycare until I got in the car, right down to what Daddy was saying as he pulled up to get me. He doesn’t always talk so non-stop, but he does so often. He can string together quite the endless sentence, is my point. Which somehow seems like quite the perfect match for me in an offspring. He’s a good deal.

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This past week and a half has been a roller coaster. We’re coming up on 4 years since things began to go downhill in my pregnancy with Natan, and then the 4 year anniversary of his birth and death. I do not like to commemorate the anniversary, really, or to refer to his birthday. It’s taken me a few years to realize that as much as I think of him as our first, and as a real person, I do not like to mark the occasion. Not that I don’t notice it. I’m consistently in a foul mood around January 3rd. I just really, really hate to think about the details and the very long process of hopes being held out, crushed, raised, and crushed again. For the most part, it’s a hideous memory, full of regrets and what ifs.

But these past days, however, have not been tough because of the season. Two old friends, two of my favorite people in the world, are expecting twins and are in preterm labor. She’s stabilized, though, and I’m confident about their chances. Very confident, and thus the weight that dropped on my shoulders and head when I heard the news has lifted a bit. I have an enormous lump in my chest though, of fear, anxiety, and an absolute inability to cope.

I do not, do not want to make this about me or to lose sight of how to be supportive, so I’m hesitant to even speak about it. In fact, it took me a good few hours to be able to verbalize it even to Josh. I have the physical sensation of a floodgate in my chest that’s about to burst. But if it does, I know that behind the rolling waves of pain, there’s nothing but gaping emptiness. Parenthood is such a wonder, and the fear that it could be lost produces so great a shock in me, that the period after it is just a void. I cannot fathom it again.

Friends or people I meet who hear about Natan often say, “I can’t imagine how hard that was.” Indeed, I can’t either (but I’m sick of hearing it anyway, as I am overall of pity and sympathy). There’s something of a sacred shell around that period of my life. It’s a block of, and blocked off, time that I barely remember. I think without realizing it, I often choose to stop the bad memories if they start to rise. Yet I welcome the comforting memories. The nurse who kept bringing me warm blankets, or the one who found the hair washing cap. The pizza Josh and I ate and the video games we played on New Year’s Eve. The friends who flooded in, and the rabbi who visited daily for the first week. The food people sent and brought, and my aunt, brother-in-law, other immediate family and friends who came for his funeral. Not the funeral itself though, that’s a bit much to remember. I love Natan, but I really hate that he died.

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5 responses to “3 Years Old

  1. “I have the physical sensation of a floodgate in my chest that’s about to burst. But if it does, I know that behind the rolling waves of pain, there’s nothing but gaping emptiness. Parenthood is such a wonder, and the fear that it could be lost produces so great a shock in me, that the period after it is just a void. I cannot fathom it again.”

    This strikes me so vividly I can feel it. Or, perhaps, I have felt it, parts of it. Three years ago yesterday we found out we had “normal” amnio results, “chromosomally normal” boys. (“Boys!” C, would say, his hand on my belly.) Three years ago today we started sharing that news. Somehow, dates and sensations follow me around, and I am torn between trying to avoid them or getting completely swallowed up in them, reliving the dates and sensations, ignoring the present. Certainly, not healthy, but some of those sensations included that hope you speak of. The joy and hope. Hard not to let go of that.

    Here’s hoping that your friends come home with healthy little ones after they’ve had more time on the inside.

    I love your description of Samuel. It is exactly as I remember him, and exactly why I love him. He is awesome.

    Thanks for posting again. I miss you and I miss reading your posts, too. Love to Josh and Samuel. And to you. XO

  2. I know what you mean when you say you can’t imagine it either. That happens to me, my own story brings tears to my eyes when I think of V, A and my Dad dying within one year , but weird as it sounds, sometimes it’s as though they are tears of compassion for that poor woman who suffered so much pain and grief. I find it double-edged as the indirect grief instead of the direct grief makes me feel far far away from those people who aren’t here anymore.

  3. Oh and I meant to say Happy Birthday to Samuel!

  4. Happy Birthday Samuel! Thank you for giving us a glimpse into a 3 year old’s life. He and Hannah share a special day.
    I hear you about the not imagining part. Every time I hear another sad story about a child dying or being sick, I think I can’t imagine it. Yet, I can a little bit. I guess I can’t imagine going through it again? I can’t figure out which part stumps me.

  5. “I think without realizing it, I often choose to stop the bad memories if they start to rise.” How? Because I would really like to learn this trick.

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