One, I was in such a cloud for the entirety of my hospital stay that the experience is this hazy memory. I think I got a total of a (very short) row and a half knit on the first day of bedrest, but my eyesight was such that knitting and reading were out of the question. I dictated work and personal emails to Eric and the TV gave constant coverage of the political scene during the primaries. If I didn’t have evidence of fading stretch marks or the pregnancy experience in general, I would hardly trust my memories. I guess that’s one grace of having been so sick, but there is an irrational part of me that wishes I had been more alert so I could have capitalized on every moment of Katherine's life instead of being unable to control my exhaustion. I understand my body was just trying to recover from the surgery-preeclampsia-HELLP Syndrome trifecta, but the feeling is there.
Two, since Katherine was never brought home, in one sense our house was never touched by her presence. There are memories everywhere – the overflowing box of cards, Julie’s painting, the photos of her and the prints of her hands and feet, small items of clothing both purchased and knit. But there aren’t the memories of crawling out of bed to tend to her cries or holding her as she slept. No memories of her nursing or of introducing her to Augustine or changing soiled diapers.
Just these disjointed, foggy memories of her birth and that beautiful wail she let out as she tested her newfound lungs. Memories of first being wheeled down to the NICU, then trying my legs at walking. Memories of sitting by the side of her incubator and talking to her as I stroked her frail body. Memories of pumping and Eric or Heather running the collection tubes down to her. Memories of the nurses or Eric updating me to her steady progress, then the memories of holding my little girl as she left this world.
Some nights, though, as Augustine comes looking to cuddle with me as I drift off to sleep, I cradle her little ten-pound form in my right arm just so – exactly as she insists – and as she settles down and lays her head onto my chest or against my neck, my throat turns raw and my face constricts as I think about how I wished I were instead cradling my precious daughter.