After True was born, we were a family of 3, & we were happy. We were in love, he was our miracle boy, & the three of us danced together in our living room, every single day. And that was completely real.
At the same time, a part of us was broken. We knew that I could not survive another pregnancy - I had gone down to 82 pounds the first time, memories of hospital stays were omnipresent & the two of them were dealing with their own individual cases of nearly invisible, but nonetheless real post-traumatic stress from the whole thing. We were happy, And...in the same way I miss my grandparents & wonder where they are, I missed my other children, who I knew were out there. I missed them so much it made me cry & I would whisper to them at night, where ever they were. I told them that I loved them, that I was their mommy & that I didn't know how they would come to me, or if I would ever even meet them, but that I loved them.
My recovery the first time began after (but not because) I acknowledged that I might lose True, that maybe his gift to me was just to be with me in utero, but not in "real life." Not as a baby I could hold or a child I could get to know & raise. After I accepted that - & I can honestly say that I did; I thanked him profusely for coming to be with me for that short time, for generating such a force of emotions & love & growth & experience, even as a baby in my belly - things began to turn around. I could drink water. Then I could drink soup. I could eat a bit of rice. I could stay awake. I could carry on a conversation of more than 3 sentences & stay awake for more than an hour. I made a rice-paper, heart-shaped dirigible hot-air balloon, pieced together with floss, holding up a tiny bassinet with a blanket & pillow to hold his little spirit for when I was too filled with fear for him to stay inside. I wanted him to know it was safe with us, safe for him to stay. And then I was well. And True joined us.
The lights were off, the midwife was massaging essential oils into my toes to counter the contractions & they had lit countless candles. D was laboring in the bath behind me, as his own injured back was aching & the water was getting colder & colder. I could hear a favorite mix of beats mixed with Tibetan monks chanting about blessings in all forms. My family was in the next room, & they all jumped up & cheered the moment they heard cries. True was born at home in the water, in 45 minutes. He gently swam to the top. Dr. Bleecker was wise enough to stand back the entire time - the only thing he did the entire labor was to say, post-partum, "Aren't you going to pick up your baby?" D & I birthed him together.
Fast forward to my angel-whisperings. Folks asked if we were going to have more, as people love to ask. And the easy answer, different then the truth, which was, "We can't," was, "Not for a long time! We're tired!!" And yet we'd find ourselves talking about our "other" children, & what a great older brother True would be. We wondered where they would come from. I asked D how he felt about adopting, & his eyes instantly welled up - He envisioned walking his daughter down the wedding aisle, along with her biological father. "Absolutely."
And then I was pregnant. I knew because I needed a Filet-O-Fish. Yes. From McDonald's. Which could only mean one thing. I demanded it & D drove me there immediately, knowing he must feed me whatever I wanted, or the cycle would begin. I had to eat & keep eating, or risk dying. I didn't know then that I was sick because of my children's food sensitivities. I knew that I had a rare condition, with a name, but without a specific cure. I can say now, with total medical clarity that I almost died, twice, because my children were allergic to certain foods & certain chemicals. They required me to clean up & detox at such an extreme level, I needed home nurses for months on end, flushing me out with IV's. My sweetest memories of that time were True, at 3 years-old, feeding me a steady stream of pipe cleaner "balloons," little loops twisted with tail-stems. I couldn't hold him, carry him or play with him. I could only thank him & say "I Love You." I love You. I Love you. i love you. And then I was well.
Four years ago today, Free was born at home. True had woken me up in the middle of the night for snacks, in hopes of a midnight date. Usually I would have told him to go back to sleep, but there was something in his sweetness that told me I wouldn't be alone with him again. And it's true, I think, that our children look different once they have siblings, because we are changed. And they are changed. We fixed a plate of food & he woke up D to call our midwives. He knew before I did that Free was coming. I think we had read Welcome with Love so many times, he was the most prepared person in our home. He kept visiting me in the bath, grabbing my wrist & "checking my pulse." As my pre-labor began, Tosi realized my voice was already "catching," & said, "Okay that's the baby." Free was born in 4 minutes. We were all startled & as I held him he didn't make a sound. Being a woman of great wisdom, Tosi said both firmly & gently, "Everyone Breath In. Everyone say, 'Welcome, we are So Happy You're Here." True & D repeated her with total love & excitement. I was still stunned & barely mumbled back. But Free heard us & opened his mouth into a big, beautiful cry. I saw him bloom in front of me & I began crying to, & thanking him for coming, & saying, "Welcome. I Love you. Welcome. I love you. Thank you."
And then we were happy. We were a family of four. We biked around our town everyday.
And I became depressed. I think many women don't realize they have post-partum depression because it's absolutely possible to be both truly happy & depressed at the same time. It's possible to be fully functioning, joyful & inspired while still feeling lost, stopped, devastated & out-to-lunch. Where was my other baby? I knew there was someone else out there, but I didn't know where they were. And I began wishing for a funny thing. I wished to wake up one day, 4 months pregnant. I wished that one day I would wake up & realize, "Oh, wow, I didn't get sick!" In the meantime our kids had been de-allergized for spinach, wheat, soy, rice, chocolate, caffeine, tomatoes, food coloring, preservatives, & sugar. The only thing that didn't work was the wheat. So I had cut it out. And in the meantime I eliminated the depression with an ambitious game of NET, cranial-sacral chiropractic, organic vegetarian foods, weekly coaching, daily affirmations, regular massage, homeopathics, flower essences & exercise. All that may seem extreme, but I had no intention of managing depression long-term. I was committed to real & lasting happiness, & I owed it to D, Free & True. And guess what?
Yes. I woke up one morning & went to McDonald's. If you are a new reader, then let me just say now. I don't eat at McDonald's. I eat things like home-grown chard & local organic sushi rice. Not what I ordered that day. And that Filet-O-Fish was so. Freaking. Good. And then I sat in the parking lot & cried & cried. For some reason I had no cash on me & had to pay for it in quarters that were stored in the door for the meters. And for some reason I made that mean I had no money for "Real Food," since we had spent our food budget that week. Then I realized that was ridiculous & that I was pregnant.
3 1/2 months, to be exact. And Real stayed inside for an extra month, so I got to be pregnant for a really, really long time. And I cherished every second, because I did know this was it. A bonus miracle. He was born at home, while the midwives lovingly said one thing, "Oh, she's birthing him into her own hands." And Free said, "Look, there's the baby. Can I have another cookie?" And Real was born. 3 pounds heavier than his brothers. And yelling. He proceeded to yell & scream, happy, sad, angry & laughing, until he was 16 months old.
And we are all happy. They say you know when your family is complete. And we do. Except for that girl, who we will one day find when the boys are much older.
She will come to us another way. In the mean time, we count our blessings ever single day.
You boys are my miracles. Happy Birthday, Free. 4 Years Old. Amazing. amazing.