365 Days Post Exhalation

By: Nora Lafata

Three weeks ago I Googled “Rainbow Birthday Party.”

Streamers. Polka dots. Lollipops. Cakes and cupcakes and salsa and food coloring, and lots and lots of chevron.

I realize none of that is what’s important. Still as we sang to him, I couldn’t help but notice the reds and deep blues and yellows and greens. This celebration of his life, surrounding him in swirly serenade. But no color does the rainbow justice. It isn’t enough to notice them. It isn’t enough to say that I’m happy he’s here.

For nine months I planned his death. Down to the way I would tell his brother, and the social media announcement. Down to the sub plans I made and printed, and made and printed, and made and printed again. His funeral, down to the dress I would wear. All things baby remained in their boxes, pastel and dusty and dark in the garage. No sign of anything new, anything coming, anyone waiting. Ten days before he was born, I arrived from work to find the crib nearly constructed.

And while I allowed this surely disastrous move to continue, I lay awake for days. Absolutely convinced the dark cherry bars had sealed his fate. The sound of his heartbeat was commonplace in my ears, prime to every decibel. I knew every pattern, listened as it rose and fell and rose and fell. I analyzed every movement, every minute. Kick counts were twice, then four, then seven times a day. I was always on the defensive. Always waiting for everything to stop.

His due date, ominous and millions of miles away, loomed in the distance. I could not afford to look ahead. I had lost it all and learned it all and bet it all. Again. There was only moment to moment. One agonizing, terrifying breath to the next.

The fear was its own entity. Something I couldn’t hope to fight, only ride. Through the night. Through the morning and the evening and the afternoon. Had he left me yet? Was it time? Is he gone is he gone is he gone?

Fear bought the Doppler. Fear hid the smile from the love I was growing. It was fear who demanded the NST twice in one day. And it was fear who drove me to the hospital, eleven times in the third trimester alone. I was a prisoner in my own body. Slave to a rogue heart, and a head that knew better.

The day he opened his eyes he showed me more than any scientist, any doctor, any scan ever could. I looked at him and I knew that while the fear was massive and loud and likely forever, there had been something much bigger beside it all the while. Most days, I can’t remember who delivered whom. From where.

Happy Birthday to the heart that saved mine; whose cries are forever my favorite sound. To the boy who shows me, every day, what it means to be courageous and what bravery is worth. You could have been difficult. You could have cried every minute. I could be up all night, every night. I could work for every smile and I would be grateful.

But you are the happiest. You are the easiest. You are the loveliest, purest form of joy I have ever known. Your every move is blond hope eternal. You are the most worthwhile thing I have ever done.

My sweet Dominic Joseph, my brightest rainbow; the hope that continues to grow with my arms. You made me believe in life again, in the most literal of ways and for that I could never repay you, but I promise to try. I am certain I will never be so happy as the day I first met you. I love you with all of my broken, swollen heart. You have made a beautiful mess of me, and I treasure you so.

Love, Mommy

This article was written and submitted by Nora Lafata, from her blog – Here Comes The Sun.

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