When I was pregnant with Kiri, I shared with one doctor a secret. In my heart of hearts, I believe we will bring this baby home. I don’t like to say that aloud because I don’t want to appear arrogant and risk being punished for it.
I lived almost every day with Kiri with trepidation. I feared that we would lose him, but I was confident that we would not. I’m not sure how to explain this juxtaposition. I was certain that I had learned the lesson that God wanted to teach me, and I had witnessed the gifts He gave me through our friends and caregivers. Certainly, Kiri would be the baby that Danith and I would be able to raise and love on.
During the drive home after the anatomy scan, Danith and I were hushed and silent. I imagined that his mind was running the same course that mine was. Not again, please. Then, a few minutes later, we exhaled. Our fingers interlocked, and we reassured each other that our son would make it. We had only four weeks to go until I reached 24 weeks, viability. Surely, my body could hold on for twenty-eight days. Then, we returned to the silence. Then, our fingers found each other again.
The official medical team that oversaw our care at the time offered us a grim prognosis. Nevertheless, Danith’s and my belief endured. Late that afternoon, the sky was heavy with dark and bulbous clouds. Thunder roared, and lightning struck incessantly. As a child, I liked thunderstorms. I felt that they washed off the layers shielding me, allowing me to feel my real self. That afternoon Danith and I decided that I would take off from work so that I could restrict myself to semi-bedrest. With rain pellets striking our windshield, we drove to my office so that I could pick up my computer and printer. We stopped by 7-Eleven and bought a bag of potato chips and a Big Gulp. We were pumped; we were going to beat this.
Every day, I rubbed my belly and felt for my son. I reported to Danith the number of times Kiri kicked and where he kicked. I reminded Kiri of the people who loved him and were waiting for his arrival. Every day I prayed for him. I thanked God for him, and I spoke to my biological mother about him, promising her that I would be a good mother. I perused the internet for baby items and considered the paint color for the nursery. I cut and stapled strips of paper to create a chain to count down the days and weeks to viability. Each day, I would tear off a link from the chain. I hung the chain from the corner of my armoire so that I could easily view it from my bed. Friends with whom I corresponded via only written words prayed and counted down the links with me. For the next few weeks, I remained on bedrest except for scheduled and emergency visits to the hospital. My body hung in a precarious position, but my hope for our son did not.
This day, one year ago, I gave birth to Kiri. My son died. Since then, I have stopped praying. I no longer believe in prayers. I can’t imagine that God would favor one prayer over another. Why would He choose not to answer my prayer? What has remained with me, though, is hope. My heart dictates hope. I believe in hope. It lifts me. No, I did not get to bring Kiri home — when we had stopped tearing off the paper links, we still had 13 more days to go. But I will continue to believe in him. I don’t know how to explain this juxtaposition, either, except to say that my son taught me about hope, and I can’t allow any hope to perish with his physical being.