11.29.2007

Transitions, Part II

My second daughter was born one week ago.

My dad died ten weeks ago.

Despite my fiercest hopes and wishes, I was not able to tell him about the birth of his third granddaughter. I wrote about my hope, but based on how relentlessly the disease progressed right before his death, I realize now how far off that possibility really was.

But I’ve been thinking about him a lot. Of course I have.

I get the feeling that everybody has been watching me a little closer than necessary, wondering if the birth of my child would truly bring home the reality of the death of my father. I don’t know if I would go so far as to say that my midwives were concerned about PPD, but they stayed close at hand for the first five days, knowing so well that post-birth emotions and hormones can get to a girl, especially one who may be mourning the loss of both a parent and a birth plan.

The thing is, I am feeling my dad’s presence more than his absence right now.

When we had to make the scary and disappointing decision to deliver via c-section, I thought about all the scary and disappointing medical decisions my dad had to make. When I was walking around with an IV attached to my hand, I thought about the many times over the 8 months that he was ill that my dad had a tube attached to his body. Sometimes his IV was delivering sustenance and medicine, but sometimes it was poison.

He endured agonizing tests that yielded unfavourable results over and over again. But he didn’t complain about having to go through it.

I thought about why I was experiencing my discomfort and why he experienced his. I drew strength and perspective from these thoughts.

I thought very clearly about why I was there, and what I was getting out of the experience.

I am not mourning the loss of my perfect birth expectations. I am celebrating the birth of my perfect child.

My dad would be proud of me. He would have been worried, and happy and proud of me.

He would have loved this child; this child that snorts and grunts and squeals like a little piglet, and makes faces when she sleeps and gazes wide-eyed when she’s awake.

He would have loved her name. It would have made him smile and probably shake his head a bit, in acknowledgement that her name is so us. That it is so her. He would understand why we decided not to name her after him. He would understand that it was too soon, that he was still too present for us to place his absence so symbolically on this tiny child. And if we had, he would have been embarrassed, tried to convince us not to.

He won’t know her, and I could cry ten thousand tears over this painful fact. But she will know him. She will know him from pictures and stories and music and favourite places.

I don’t know if I can say that I look at my daughter and see my father. Maybe as she grows I will see aspects of him in her behaviour or expressions or habits. I hope I can teach her the things that he taught me, like patience and tolerance and how to understand hockey stats. And if his lousy sense of direction skips a generation, well, that’s ok too.


once upon a time



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20 comments:

  1. He would be very proud indeed. And so he should be.

    xo
    Julie

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  2. This is lovely K. You have me all choked up with 'She will know him'. There is such beauty and sadness intertwined in the passing on of things that we learned from our parents.

    I'm sorry you had to learn this last lesson about hospital stays, but you have a wonderful perspective.

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  3. Through you they will always have each other.

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  4. This is beautiful. And I know it's cliche to say that those who have passed live on in our memories, but I have no doubt you will be this link for your new daughter.

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  5. You're so right. I lost my grandma when I was six months pregnant and I felt similarly. My grandma had had an epidural for pain and a catheter right before she died, the very things I had before and during my c-section, and I dreamed about her all the time in those early weeks postpartum. They felt like visits from her. I felt very keenly that she was watching and did actually get to meet my little guy.

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  6. That was very touching. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Oh K, this was so lovely and touching. I'm all choked up. What a lovely tribute to your father and your daughter... they're both honoured by your love.

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  8. I've lost someone important to me during each of my past two pregnancies and it was hard work sorting through grief and joy. You've written so achingly beautifully about this process - your father WOULD be proud of you, of your new child.

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  9. Beautiful, kgirl. As I move into December--my bad month for grief--I am thinking a lot about the grandparents my daughter will not know. This post touched me deeply. Stay well and give that new babe an extra little nuzzle for me 'kay?

    Also, I wouldn't mind so much if you emailed me her name b/c now I am curious.

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  10. "But she will know him." That's just a most excellent thing.

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  11. Oh kgirl, I love this post. It made me cry and I love this post (echo much?). Your clarity is something I admire and I thank you for sharing and inspiring. She will know him.

    And that photo is breathtaking.

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  12. Beautiful post and beautiful photo. I'm tearing up - thanks for sharing.

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  13. I am not mourning the loss of my perfect birth expectations. I am celebrating the birth of my perfect child.

    Strong words kgirl!.. congrats on your second child, I hope along with the kids the mama and the father are doing great too..
    I am sorry to hear about your dad.

    Take care..

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  14. My dad died 9 years ago this December 4.

    One of the greatest sorrows in my life is that my children never knew him. My oldest daughter was only 9 months old at the time.

    And yet, we speak of him always. He is with us...in photos, in stories, in names, in each other.

    My youngest child is his spitting image.

    It's so hard...I'm so sorry for any sorrow you may hold in this. But you are right - our dads are here with us. How could we ever think that they were only their earthly bodies? Their love was too great to be contained by their one life.

    You write so beautifully.

    Blessings to you and your new sweet baby and your entire family.

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  15. Aw Kgirl. That is beautiful.

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  16. I am so sorry for your loss. I am sure he is looking down on you and your children.

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  17. I just want to say that I read this and have nothing brilliant to contribute but you're really talented and brilliant and he must have been so proud of you all your life, and I wish he could've met your new sweetheart, too.

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  18. I'm sorry about the loss of your dad. I can't imagine how that must have felt.

    How are you doing with the feelings about your c-section now?

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