Friday, January 31, 2014

Wading into Words

Dear Alaska, ?! 
One month, baby girl. You were born one month ago. I know that you were already an angel, but I still say that you were born on that day. New Year's Eve will forever be your birthday. I love you! 
Mommy <3

On this 31st day of 2014, I should be 20 weeks pregnant. Instead I am living the one month anniversary of my daughter's birth. I know that birth is probably not the right word because it implies that I have an alive daughter, but it's the word that I use. The dictionary on my ipad defines birth as "the emergence of a baby or other young from the body of its mother," so going by that, Alaska was born. The next part of the definition gives me some problems with "the start of life as a physically separate being."

Alaska emerged from the body of her mother, my body. That moment was the start of her death as a physically separate being from me and the start of my life physically separated from her.

Miscarriage as a word for Alaska just doesn't work for me even though it is the correct word: "the expulsion of a fetus from the womb before it is able to survive independently." Alaska wasn't expelled before she was able to survive independently. She died first--a "late missed miscarriage." Too soon to be considered a stillbirth. Too soon to be given any legal recognition of life or death. If she had been born because my body couldn't carry her for another day, I still wouldn't like to use that word.

So I choose to use the words "birth" and "born" when I refer to Alaska because I feel like this acknowledges her life. My daughter lived and died. My daughter who lived for just over 15 weeks died, but she is just as much my child as my sons. She was loved before she was born and will be loved now forever. Her life matters.

Since I have known that I was the mother of a dead child (for the past one month and one day), I have been unable to read for pleasure. I have tried but failed. I realized that perhaps I should try to reread Looking for Alaska by John Green. Maybe revisiting this story could be my first step toward healing my reading life. So far, it's working. It's impossible not to love these characters with passages like this one: 
Her library filled her bookshelves and then overflowed into waist-high stacks of books everywhere, piled haphazardly against the walls. If just one of them moved, I thought, the domino effect could engulf the three of us in an asphyxiating mass of literature.        (p. 15)