This time will be different

“You said this time will be different!” he said indignantly.  Maybe even self-righteously.

“How?  How will having another baby this time be any different?  I just saw you at your wit’s end, yelling at the kids!   How would having another baby have made today BETTER?  We have our hands full enough as it is!”

The words stung.

But there was truth to them.  The question was legitimate.

A new baby wouldn’t have.  It wouldn’t have made. Today. Better.

I would have been more tired.  (Is that possible?)  I would have had less free hands to do more things.  And there would have been another really good reason to tell kids to bring the noise level down. “The baby is sleeping!” I would have been pleading.

So what is the difference now?  Now meaning, since Samuel died.  Does the very rational reason that we have our hands full enough as it is mean I can simply stop wanting another child?  It doesn’t seem to make much of a difference to my desire to try for another baby.  The practical limitations of having more kids did have an effect on our family feeling complete after our fourth.  So why isn’t this sense of pragmatism having a significant impact now?

Maybe I am just different.  Certainly, my expectations are different.

I know now that it was actually never possible to do this, meaning have a larger family and maintain some semblance of balance and harmony, without outside help.  And that is what we had been doing.  We had help from our parents who each took the kids once a week when I went to work, but otherwise, this ship was powered exclusively by yours truly and my husband.  When I say “outside help”, I mean someone you hire; a cleaning lady or grocery delivery, or a nanny; whatever the current situation calls for.  It means paying a guy to paint the window trim, or cut the grass on occasion.  It means finding resources which help take the pressure off, allowing you to relax a bit and actually enjoy the life you have spent so much time creating.  

We have never embraced this idea as a couple.  We actually (mostly) enjoy our DIY approach.  However, when we were expecting Samuel, our fifth child under age 8, we sponsored a nanny to come from the Philippines to help us.  This idea of a live-in nanny had never ever appealed before.  We had never been prepared to make the adjustments required to make it work.  And the truth is, I kind of felt like for us, having a nanny would be cheating.  We signed up for lots of kids after all.  Being time and energy challenged was just part of the deal. 

Oh how I think differently now!!

Once I got pregnant with Samuel, I knew that unless I suddenly became capable of bi-location, or auto-cloning, I would need another set of full-time hands around here.   Suddenly, hiring a nanny seemed not only justifiable, but necessary.  There was only so much that caffeine and extreme organization could accomplish.  I finally had admitted my limit.  

And that changed everything.

Claire’s presence in our lives was undeniably positive.  We embraced her as family, and hoped to sponsor her child to come to Canada as soon as she have us the green light.  She gave me the gift of time so that I could heal my heart.  There were challenges to our arrangement, but they seemed very manageable….. to me.  I had begun to feel balanced, and had started to make future plans for this first time since our baby died.

Last week, quite out of the blue, our nanny quit.  It shocked us and has thrown us sideways a little.  But not completely.  (Most things don’t seem to be a crisis now, unless they really are.)

This was simply a momentary set-back.  Yet once again, I found myself adjusting to change and re-assessing every facet of my life.  But this change in circumstance has not change my desire for another child, nor has it made me want to abandon my other new-found goals.  What has changed is who is going to be the person we hire to help us, not if someone is.

So how do I think this time will still be different?”

It will be different because  I will not pretend that we can easily accomplish the goal of another baby or any of our other goals for that matter, without a few critical people on the payroll.  No way.  Just because that nanny decided to jump ship, doesn’t mean that having her hadn’t been helpful.

The fact that I get that is what is different.

The answer to that other largely rhetorical question, “How would having another baby have made today better?”  is this.

A new baby wouldn’t have.  Made. Today. Better.  Having extra help would have made today better.  Baby or no baby.  And if we are blessed with one more bundle of joy, (insert hopeful prayer) without question, we will also hire another nanny.  Sure, there is risk that she too might come and go, but in the end, there is always someone else willing to fill those shoes.

And now, I am happy to let them.

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And So It Is

It has been 13 weeks and 5 days since Samuel was born.  My surprise number five.  It has taken me 13 weeks and 5 days to write this post.    I have struggled to find the words.  How will I write this?  What will I say?  The irony in that statement;  me the writer, struggling to find the words. I have debated within me the title of my blog,  “Five Under 8″.  Does it fit?  Does it make sense now? Should I change it given what’s happened? How do I handle that detail?  Finally, I know the answer inside my heart.  Finally I think I have found the courage to tell the story. And thus, the words find me.  Deep breath…………Here they are.

My son, Samuel Jude Rogers died March 20 2013.  He was born a day later at the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, March 21 2013.  The medical team believes his death was due to a tight knot in his umbilical cord.  I was 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant.  Our baby was full term and was a gorgeous 8 lb 8 oz little angel.  He was long, just like his siblings, measuring 21 inches from head to toe.  He looked just like he did in my dreams.  At my prenatal appointment the day before, his heart rate was strong, and his movements sure.   He kicked me as he usually did in the bath that evening, and again as I ate yoghurt, right before bedtime.  Little would I know that those were the last movements I would ever feel.

The next morning I knew something was not right.  I just did.  He did not nudge me as I heaved myself out of bed.  I noticed that.  By mid morning I realized I had not felt him move since the night before. ” Perhaps he is sleeping,” I thought.  I drank juice to see if the sugar  rush would wake him up.  Nothing.  I jiggled my tummy vigorously.  He did not respond. My belly felt lifeless.  A sick feeling took root deep within me.  I called my husband and we sped to the labour and delivery floor of the hospital.  It didn’t take long to have our worst fear confirmed.  Our baby did not have a heart beat.

The moments and hours and days which followed were truly the most devastating I have ever experienced.  I have never known such sadness and emptiness in all my life.  The many horrific World War II images I have seen of mothers having their children torn from their arms by Nazi soldiers, speak volumes to me.  This is how losing Samuel feels to me.  It is the most unnatural thing in the world, to have your child taken from you by something as final as death.  There is no negotiating with or changing death.  It is so very final, from our earthly perspective anyway.  I understand now why many people simply cannot believe in God.  He is hard to see where so much pain exists.

Yet somehow I do still believe in Him.  I see Him in the caring hands of the nurses who cared for us at this most tragic time;  in the tears of our kind physician Laura, who tenderly helped me deliver our son in the quiet of that morning; in the intimate photographs taken by our NILMDTS* photographer Elizabeth, who captured the beauty of our baby in a room overcome with grief.  I see Him in the innumerable acts of kindness from our family, friends and extended community who completely surrounded us and held us up with suppers and hugs and tears of their own; and in all who have listened to the story of Samuel and of our family, who love and miss him everyday.  God was there as I gave birth to our beautiful baby boy.  He was there in the strength of my husband who had the clarity of mind to convince me to not let my grief consume me, to not let it suck me down into its foggy abyss, but to help me stay present for each moment of our baby’s birth.  “This is Samuel’s story,” he said.  “It is tragic, yes, but it is beautiful too.  You will regret it forever if you cannot be present for this.  You can do it Shannon.  You can.” Even through my sobs and tears and complete heartbroken  devastation, I was able to see it.  His birth was beautiful.  It was tragic, yes, but beautiful too.

And so it is.  I move forward each day with my grief existing alongside my happiness, my tears just behind my smile, and the love for my five children willing me along.   Samuel’s life, as short as it was, continues to touch our lives everyday; to shape us, teach us, and to help us live our lives  fully.  We are a family of five children, four here with us now, and one in heaven.  I am a Mom of five kids under age eight.  The title of my blog fits.  It makes sense.  It is the only title that does make sense. The title of my blog does not lie.  It introduces our story….my story, honestly.

Here’s to you my precious Samuel.  Our love for you is never ending.  You are in our hearts everyday and we will miss you forever. We are a family.  Not even death can change that.  How I am honoured to be your mother, and grateful for you, my angel.

Until we meet again.

Samuel R.-3

Photograph taken by Elizabeth Cranmer of http://www.lizzyanne.com

Elizabeth volunteers her time with *NILMDTS – Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, a  service providing the gift of remembrance photography for parents suffering the loss of a baby.  Connect with them at www.nowilaymedowntosleep.org.  We are so grateful to her for the gift of these precious photographs.