9 months in, 9 months out. I can’t believe I am writing this.
On that chilly February morning back in 2014, when two pink lines appeared that would forever change our lives, 9 months seemed like an unbearable period of time, a terribly long wait until we would get to hold our first child. We didn’t think we could wait. In some ways, we wanted life to speed up. To wish it away and arrive at the moment with our son in our arms. But time didn’t listen. Thankfully it doesn’t work like that. We were patient. We waited, in the moment, with our son. I am so grateful.
The three of us enjoyed, we savoured, those 9 months. A mummy bestowing back rubs, wearing out the right side of all of her shirts. A daddy regaling the day’s news and important tidbits of knowledge. A baby showing his parents how much he loved to play with his punching, kicking, hiccuping and wiggling skills. As Speck grew into the Owen we adore, through an abundance of organic fare and giggles, our hearts continued to fill with the love and joy of parents. Every moment, celebrated.
The only useful, somewhat accurate, warning that came from the barrage of unsolicited just you wait style ‘advice’ received during this time was that they grow up so fast. That some day we would wake up and realize that the time has passed. To make sure that we cherished every moment with our son as some day our little guy would soon be a not-so-little guy. In many ways, they were right. Sure, physically, our little guy will always be little. That fact hurts. A reminder that makes me feel ill. But he has grown, oh so much, just not physically. Every thing that we teach him, share with him. Everywhere that we go with him, explore with him. He grows.
Owen is growing up so fast. A statement that I wish I was able to say without the ensuing looks of confusion. Without the feeling that I need to explain that my son’s spirit is alive. That, yes, I will continue to love my son, to parent his spirit, and caretake his memory. That, in this way, I am raising my son and I will continue to do so. His presence is no less grand, no less cherished, no less valued than any other child’s place in this world. He is no less deserving of a parent’s devotion and undying love. He is no less deserving. I wish I didn’t have to explain.
Time has this uncanny ability to move slowly and quickly all at once. We spend so much time wishing our lives away, looking forward to another place in history. And then it is gone. We can’t get it back, so we need to make the most of it while it is here. I do not want this time of our lives to be gone. I do not want to fast forward. I am comfortable where I am. It hasn’t been easy, and it might sound strange, but through the sadness, we have tried to cherish these past 9 months. These are the early days with our son. We want memories. We want to remember the grief, how we navigated the raw, intense love and heartache of the loss of expectation. The time we learned how we continued to live with, in honour of and take care of our little Owen Benjamin. The time we were determined to continue experiencing the beauty of the world together, as a family, in whatever way we could.
In the early days of my grief, I did wish time away. It hurt too much to stay where I was. I thought that if maybe, just maybe, I could get to 3 months, I would understand. Then when that time arrived, and no understanding accompanied, I hoped for a couple more months. I hadn’t yet learned how to sit with my grief. It wasn’t yet a part of me. We were not companions, nor was I ready to accept that we had to be. In many ways I still am not. I do not want to be friends with the grief, but I also do not want it to go away. It is a connection to our son. A place that is just for us.
So far, parenthood has not been easy, but I never anticipated it would be. I have been acutely aware of every day, every moment, every breath physically with, and physically without, my son in my arms. I have been present in every moment of joy, and in every moment of relentless grief. Through it all, I continue to be in awe of our son and the beauty that he has brought to our lives. We try to make the most of every day with our little boy. Each one bringing a new adventure, a struggle, a fresh realization that our reality cannot be changed and that embracing it is the only way forward. In his honour.
Owen, today you are 9 months old. Goodness. This month we visited special friends and family in England, watched kitesurfers and played in the Mediterranean in Spain, found a tree for you in some woodlands in East Sussex, played pooh sticks at Pooh Bridge (the littlest of the three won, of course), learned that the first bud opened on the rose that Nanna and Grandad had named for you, witnessed a princess marry her prince, watched some floatplanes (with cold chocolate and pizza), worked on your garden (planted a tree, a heather, and placed a bench), saw some fireworks (including heart and happy face ones!) in Vancouver with some special friends, and started to read Winnie the Pooh together (but we haven’t finished Paddington!). We met a dog that looked like a fox, some blue grasshoppers, a frog with a green head, and a stripey blue dragonfly named Libellule. You also travelled to other exciting and beautiful places in the hearts of many. I am looking forward to the memories we will make this month. I have no idea where the time has gone, and continue to shed tears as I learn how to live this life, but I am comforted by the memories we are making together. Mummy and daddy love you so very much.