The priest was called and came. Prayers were said. We talked and sang and told Alex how much we loved him, that we were happy to have had him with us inside for so long, that we would soon hold him in our arms and kiss him and hug him. That we were so grateful to be his parents. That we would miss him very much, but knew that he would be with his big brother and sister in heaven. We laid down together and took one final nap together.
At around 3:40, I woke up to an intense contraction. I woke Peter up and we prepared for the final moments of Alexander in the womb. In a few, breath filled pushes, our little feet-first, breech baby was born. He kicked and grabbed at the world, finding solace in his father's arms. We rang for the nurse, while Peter cuddled our son. As previously discussed when the priest had visited, we asked that she baptize him and let him live his life in his father's arms. There would be time enough to weigh him, etc, after he had died... We didnt want a moment away from him.
He was baptized and, soon after, his little feet found their rest, his little hands found their peace, and his once active body slipped into a sleep that he wouldn't wake from. He was weighed and measured; a kind nurse wrapped him in a blanket and, after I had finished delivering, placed him in my arms, and Peter and I rested with him, as a family, as the first rays of sunlight started through the window. Although the day would have phone calls and visitors, for that moment, it was us, a family, resting together.
After his shift was over, Dr. L. came back. He apologized for not being able to help us, save honoring our wishes. Later, when I was on bedrest with Bobby and Maya, Dr. L. once again was covering Dr. B.'s patients and we met again. He told me that I looked familiar and I said that yes, a little less than a year before, he'd been with me as I delivered my 17 week son. He nodded and proceeded to tell me what he remembered. I was shocked that he remembered anything at all, really. I was just another patient, my son was just another lost child. But no... He did remember. And, although I've seen him in his slacks and white coat more than I have any other way, I will always think of him as the doctor who came back to see me in jeans and with his motercycle helmet at his side... The doctor who just wanted to tell us that he was sorry... really sorry. And to call him if we needed anything.
Our priest came... our new, young priest who we didn't really know all that well... He came as Alexander was being prepared by the nurse for the undertaker. He prayed and looked at the pictures the nurses had taken of Alex. I remember him telling me that he had never seen a baby so young before. I also remember him telling me that he could see Alexander had my chin. Things I wont forget... that sentence ever ingrained in my memories of that day.
This passed Sunday, I was cantoring at church. My dear friend, E, is our music director; she just lost her father. Her parents are now both awaiting for her on the other side. And yet, in the midst of this turmoil, she tells me that she prayed for Alexander and was thinking of us. "He was born on Christ the King," she says... And he was... Sunday's feast was the feast day of Christ the King; in 2008, it was November 23rd. "I always remember that..." and I know that she will. She won't forget... She's like that. It was all I could do to not break down and cry right then and there. Because, even though the 23rd is his birthday, it was a Sunday... That particular Sunday... And, being there, and hearing her words...
That afternoon, we celebrated his 2nd birthday with his grandparents, siblings, and Aunt Sarah. We ate our tuna sandwiches and tomato soup, then enjoyed some lemon cake. It's our tradition... their special dinners with family on the weekend nearest their actual birthday... We did the same with Bobby and Maya's birthday party.
Happy Birthday, Alexander.
Two years have passed, although I dont know where the time has gone. In an instant, my mind can return to your pregnancy and birth, to your kicks and your sweet face. I miss you so much, my sweet baby boy... my cuddlebug. I love you even more.
You are always in our hearts. I hear your laughter in the wind as it blows through the windchimes on the porch. I see your smile as lights flicker, your mischievous ways inherited, no doubt, from your mother... although I'll never admit that... Our peacebringer... Our gift... Our Nathaniel Alexander. Our time on this earth was short, but our time together is unending.
Have a beautiful birthday, my sweet one. I love you so much.