Monday, March 9, 2009

Springing ahead

The light is returning. The sun is higher and stronger and sometimes blinding, even as it snows today. As we near Baker’s season, it is the light that strikes me.

I labored for three days at home beginning on April 1st. On the first day, I baked chocolate chip cookies to bring to the hospital. I rechecked my list of things to pack. Chris painted the remaining pieces of trim from our kitchen remodel. On the second day, we walked to the library and I sat through a few contractions in the periodical section, vaguely considering what to do if my water broke on the upholstered chair. Chris painted a wooden bench for the front porch, I baked a chocolate birthday cake for our return home, and we figured out how to flip open and close the stroller. That evening, I called the birth center to tell them my contractions were coming 5 minutes apart. The midwife had me draw a bath and focus on feeling the baby’s movements. In the dim light, Chris helped me towel off and get to bed, where I dozed between contractions throughout the night. On the third day, I rested on the couch with the kitty and listened to yoga and birthing affirmation CDs as the frequency and intensity of contractions increased. I nibbled on grapes and toast and focused on my breathing. Eventually, no longer able to concentrate on anything other than getting through contractions, I handed my timer over to Chris and had him mark the start of each surge.

Time blurred during those three days. It is the light that I remember-the ebb and flow of light to dark and back to light. I called the birth center when the sun was at its highest point on April 3rd. The midwife said to come in at 3:00. I called back at the appointed time because I couldn’t remember if she told me to come in or call again. During the quick drive to the birth center, I shut my eyes to the still-high sun, too focused to bother locating my sunglasses. The midwife deemed me 7 cm dilated and definitely in active labor. I could stay! She drew a warm bath, and I lolled about in the tub until darkness fell. Chris rocked in a chair next to me. Baker’s thumping heartbeat filled the room whenever one of the midwives checked on him. Chris opened the door to the outside to air out the steamy bedroom, and I was struck by the shadows of twilight. It was just the three of us, peaceful and calm and expectant.

It is nearly one year later and the light has returned. I both welcome and fear its return. With the light come the blooms of hyancinth and daffodil bulbs from Baker’s funeral arrangements that Chris dropped into the ground around our house. Snow crocuses, the first bloomer of spring, opened on the day we gathered with family to bury Baker’s ashes, a blindingly sunny day that didn’t match the occasion. I expect them to start poking through the ground any day now.

The entire month of April that followed his birth and death were bluebird-sky days that I think of as Baker wrapping his arms around his stricken parents. Once I was well enough to walk, we trudged around the neighborhood on daily one-foot-in-front-of-the-other walks, pulling each other along because there was nothing else to do and nowhere else to go. The time and space we had carved out for our boy left a gaping hole. So I stuffed my pockets with Kleenex and we walked and cried and squinted into the sun.

The calendar ticks by and will soon mark the end of the first of many years without our boy.

But we hope to see him in the light.


Emily said...

Gorgeous post, Dalene. Just gorgeous.

Hope's Mama said...

Heartbreaking, breathtaking and beautiful. And in part, so very familiar. We lost Hope just as winter here was drawing to a close. Spring was first starting to appear as we returned her body to the earth. And in those early months of spring, I pounded the pavement and walked that lonely road out ahead without her.

CLC said...

Thinking of you in these coming difficult weeks.

Bon said...

spring is our season too, and the light always brings memory and heartbreak and just a whiff of presence with it...each a little fainter every year, except maybe for the presence.

i keep wanting to write a post about light and presence and the photographic process. maybe this year.

Cara said...

Dalene - This post is gorgeous and heartbreaking. Your story, like all the others, is so important to me. You Baker - sweet boy - is part of this family.

As you remember - relive - know that we are here.


Anonymous said...

Spring is difficult for me because of the contrast....the joy and the sadness. I will be thinking of you as Baker's anniversary approaches. (((HUGS))) So glad to learn of the new one also.
D. from MDC

aliza said...

just found your blog and wanted to send my love to you. thinking of you both and baker. as this spring comes into bloom.

Kim said...


I was touched by this post. Reading it gives me a glimpse into how you were feeling and what your hopes and expectations were during those early stages of labor. It's a gift that you are able to remember that time as a peaceful time, unmarred by the tragedy that passed just after the point when your story ends.

I'm thinking of you and Chris always, and especially in the coming weeks as Baker's birthday approaches.


Dana Varney said...

Chris and you are a fine, strong, and loving couple. We think about Baker, Chris, and you every day. Baker is a grandchild we will love forever.

With love

Maija said...

Dalene, I'm not sure we have ever discussed the days you speak of here. I am glad to know your lovely memories and the sorrowful ones, too; they help us all to know Baker better.

Lani said...

wow, this post is beautiful and heartbreaking. i don't know how i missed it. i come here often (as you know) but somehow these days flew by and I hand't checked in on you. i'm sorry for that. I am definitely with you on this journey, especially as the light and date approaches the year mark.
xo sending love your way