Can I still call you that? Fetus? Or have you graduated to the level of "baby" by now? Why don't I just break all societal rules for a moment, and call you what your dad and I have known you to be for some time: Sean. Sean Murphy LeMoine, that is. As in Sean Connery. Sean Penn. The late Sean P-Diddy Combs. A humble, boring, single-syllable Irish name. Not very creative, but this is the name that spoke to me and your dad the loudest, spoke of all things real and simple, outdoorsy, saltwater-scented, grounded - just like the you of our imaginations. Not the fluffy and frivilous name of someone who might disappear at any moment, like Copernicus or Octopusian or Atticus Dillwinkle.
Just plain Sean. A strong, shimmering, earthly name that seems most likely to keep you here.
Allow me introduce myself - the woman I am at this moment, eight-something PM on Monday, March 13th, 2010. I am your mother, the person inside of whom you are now floating blissfully in a cocoon of dark watery warmth. I know; isn't it weird? That's me, the sound of that heartbeat trumping yours in loudness and vibration, the whoosh of blood through vein and arteries, the shrill voice belting out songs in the car!
What's a car, you ask? Never mind. You'll figure those things out later.
Back to introductions. Monica Murphy LeMoine is the name, age 34. Pisces and proud. Irish and English descent, not that that's unique in any way. Thinker, emoter, flawed. Frequent laugher. Loud. College English instructor, wannabe writer, extrovert. Born as Monica Lee Murphy in Hollywood, California. College degrees in French and English. Coffee addict. Red-wine hater. White zinfandel-lover. Bacon-obsessor. Dance-party maniac. Studied abroad multiple times. Spent 2.5 years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan, known to foreign service people as "Ickistan" (and with good reason). Loved it. Married to a brilliant, quiet guy with loads of common sense, which you'll certainly inherit to make up for marked deficiencies on your maternal genetic side.
You are 39.5 weeks along today, and due to emerge any minute. That's a remarkable feat! You are, after all, the first to make it this far in this particular mother's body, the small string of siblings before you having lived too-short lives due to things we can't control. Yes, pat yourself on the back for showing such perseverance and fortitude! You kept chugging along when my own capacity to hope felt weak and shrunken, when cynicsm took over. You've kept going, kicking my insides, relentlessly optimistic about your own positive destiny - like an obnoxious little Polyanna fairy landing on the shoulder of a grumpy old scrooge who thrives on grumpiness. You've stamped out my grumpiness, and forced me to hope.
Oh, there's still plenty to be grumpy about. Pay attention to your first big life-lesson: life itself is a miracle, and nothing is ever guaranteed. I finally realize that now. Something could still happen - anything - to keep you from entering this world alive. Even after you make it through the tremendous hurdle of birth itself, you could still be snatched by the billowy, translucent arms of Mother Nature. Who knows what that old broad is up to, what plans she's brewing up for you.
But don't let that scare you, snuff out your own optimism. Because ultimately, you've become a symbol of hope - not just for me, but for the handful of eager and loving people surrounding you and awaiting your safe arrival into the "outerworld." That is, the place that I'm writing you from.
(Are you sufficiently freaked out by this conversation?)
Just a quick preview of what your new space will look like - because it sure as hell isn't going to match the dark reddish globe in which you now float. It's a room, just an ordinary room that we still use as a semi-office space. But there are some things in here that make it yours, and that - hopefully - will help connect you to the past. I thought long and hard about how to do this in a non-ghoulish way, how to create a space that's yours, yet that honors the male-this and male-that which came before you but didn't make it this far. Particularly, I want you to have a piece of Zachary with you, to know that you have brothers in some strange cosmic form. Zachary would have been a nice older brother to have, right in the midst of his terrible twos by now, probably throwing shit across the room and head-butting you at random. Wouldn't you have loved that? Of course you would.
Notice, on the walls in the pictures below: Mom's Amateur Stillbirth Art. A fish, a butterfly, and two primary-colored flowers. Everyone told me not to throw these out, so I didn't. And now they're yours. These were painted just days after Zachary's death, in a time span of ten heavily-focused hours, with hardly a break to pee or have a snack. Just paint flung furiously on canvas, powered by all the sadness and yearning building up in my heart.
Ultimately, though, they were pictures of hope - and that hope is now you.
Notice the hanging mobile of folded cranes. See that? Yes, that's a handmade gift from B, a treasured friend of our family - and one who has struggled for some time to have a baby of her own. See how compassionate, gracious, and kind she is - thinking of you even despite her own frustrations and disappointments? It's a lesson we can all learn from, one that I'm hoping you'll pick up through osmosis as you stare up at those origami cranes. Plus, they're just cool-looking.
And there's us, your dad and I - waiting for you. And Tebow, your canine family friend, already guarding your space fiercely. And books - your own personal library - all gifts from people waiting for you.