Liam's birthday was last Saturday.
You can read about Liam here:
The actual day this year was particularly hard. First of all, this is the first time that I've had to go through the day without Liam's dad. I considered calling him up, to at least mark the occasion, but decided against it.
Also, I did something this year that I've never done before. I visited Liam's grave.
It was fairly awful.
I knew that my family had been unable to get a name marker when Liam died, but I had visited infant grave sites before, and had prepared myself to see some kind of button marker with a number on it. Instead, I found that Liam's grave is marked by what looks like a wrought iron stake with a hook on the top that one could hang a flower pot off of. It looks like some kind of haphazard gardening mistake.
I immediately lost it. It just broke my heart to think that my little boy was lying anonymously under a flower pot hook, and that no one on earth save me, or my bridesmaids who accompanied me on this visit, would know that there was a person under there.
Let me share two stories -
The day we buried Liam, I was in a complete haze. It was very surreal, and I felt as if I was being shuffled from one place to the next, shaking hands, receiving hugs and watching people sob for us. I cried very little that day - I was fairly numb after two weeks of barely sleeping and near constant sobbing.
Shortly before the service began, a priest approached us and asked if the baby had had life. I thought that was a bizarre question, and it simply did not compute, so I said "What?" And he clarified "Was the baby born alive? That affects which sermon I am going to give." I had to reply "No," but in my head my subconscious self was screaming at this man "Of course he had life you FUCKING ASSHOLE. What a question to ask the mother of a dead child right before said child's funeral!"
Now, I do not wish to debate the topic of life at conception, life of cell mass clusters, life versus choice, blah-blah-blah, that's a whole can of worms that I don't care to open on this blog. But to me, Liam had life. He had life, because I believed he did. He kicked me, and kept me awake at night, and he danced when there was music on. I remember the wonder of seeing the shape of his little feet through the skin on my stomach.
He was REAL.
Fast forward to about a month ago when I placed a phone call to find out where Liam was buried. I had to wait on the phone, heart-pounding, with a cemetery staff member, as he searched through maps and records, to find the information that I needed. When he found something he asked me "Liam Cost, unborn baby, is that correct?" For yet another time, I agreed with this man, while my head began to spin. Unborn? UNBORN? I had needles jammed into my wrist got dosed with pitocin to give birth to that baby. I labored for three and half hours, WITHOUT PAIN RELIEVING DRUGS, did my lamaze breathing, bounced on a yoga ball, took showers, and cried and sweat and yelled and held M's hand all the while. I eventually pushed that baby out. I held him in my arms and he was the most beautiful perfect thing I had ever seen in my life. My family members held him too. We cried and said our goodbyes. UNBORN? That child was born, buddy, and I remember every fucking painful second of it.
Again, he was REAL.
I share all of this so that, readers, you may understand. One of the hardest things for me to deal with over the years has been that Liam is real to ME, and me ALONE. I used to think that was something that I shared with Liam's dad, and now I'm not so sure anymore. The whole grave side experience just compounded these feelings. How could something so wildly important to me, be unacknowledged/unnoticed in the world?
Liam's death is the most tragic event in my life to date - I pray that I never have to go through anything harder than that - however, it was not an entirely negative experience. I do not think that society has found appropriate words to describe and deal with the experience of a still birth. I do not insist that Liam had life because I am in some kind of denial about the fact that my baby never actually took a breath. No. I insist that he "lived" because the strength and character that I gained from surviving that terrible time shaped who I am as a person today. I literally found out that I had a second chance at life, and that knowledge made me a lot gutsier and tenacious. I went after and achieved major life goals that had been pipe dreams before Liam happened. I am able to handle this whole divorce situation because Liam happened. I am empathetic to others that suffer, and I believe that my capacity to care about people grew ten-fold because Liam happened. I am more grateful for each day, for my job, for my friends and my family. I try not to sweat the small stuff. I enjoy life. I live with abandon. I can do this, because Liam existed.
Liam's existence made me the person that I am today. And who I am today is not half bad, so at risk of making others feel uncomfortable, I choose to honor that by talking about him.
So here we are again...
Happy birthday angel baby. Six - WOW! The adventures that we have missed out on...You will always be my peanut, and I know that you are somewhere watching out for me.