I chose these pictures from the Calvin Phoenix Photo Project, because on this The 5th Belongs to Calvin, six months after delivering my 4 1/2 month old baby boy, I want to share the ways in which I know my son.
The top image is from Louie’s cousin, Abby. The image underneath is from my sister, Raquel.
If you would like to contribute a picture for Calvin Phoenix, please read about the Calvin Phoenix Photo Project.
Just because I never held my living child in my arms, just because I never heard his cry or coos or felt his fingers wrap around mine, it does not mean I did not know him. It’s true, yes, I will never experience the knowledge of Calvin as a boy that grows up through adolescence and into manhood. But in the 4 1/2 months that he lived inside my womb before he went to live with Jesus, my relationship with him grew, and my love for him flourished (it still does).
The first ways in which I began to know my son came with the changes I experienced during my pregnancy; they came because he was being knit in my belly.
Because of Calvin, I craved bacon, watermelon, bangus (milkfish), raw veggies, mustard, bagels with cheddar cheese, oatmeal, and Filipino food on the weekends (I don’t know why this was a weekend thing). He, however, did not let me enjoy the taste of beef. Steak was especially unpalatable, and I couldn’t stand chewing it and tasting the flavor spread across my tongue. Eggs made me throw up. As did orange juice – or any kind of juice, but orange juice especially – unless it was freshly squeezed. Not even Odwalla, which I loved, but that he apparently did not.
And the vomiting. I very rarely throw up. Even when I want my stomach to expel whatever is it that’s ailing me, it’s normally just dry heaves and saliva that my body can force out. But with this pregnancy, vomit would come every 10 minutes at its worse. And at its very worse, it would force its way up and out through my nose as well as my mouth because they were just too much. And yes, that is another I have connection to my baby.
I also know him through the intense lower back pain that was ever present through most of my pregnancy, and that shot through me when I walked up and down stairs, when I got up from laying down or sitting, or when I was on my feet for extended periods of time. This is the most hurtful pregnancy “symptom” to think about (I spoke of it here: the absence of pain), because after I delivered my son, this pain disappeared, without even a lingering ache.
And when he got big enough for me to start feeling his movements, I began to know his touch.
What a precious, secret joy that brought to physically feel him and have this new leveling of knowing him. Of recognizing the way he would flip and tumble inside me in the afternoons, before his early evening nap. Of knowing that he’s a deep sleeper like his daddy. I know because he refused to be awakened by the ultrasound tech’s prodding and pressing and making me cough. And when Calvin was awake, he turned and swam away from the the pressure of the ultrasound wand — so much so that I would have to turn from side to side and get tilted so that my head was lower than my feet, all in trying to coax my stubborn little boy into the positions they needed him to be in.
And after I delivered him, I continued to get to know my baby.
I was able to cradle him in my arms and look at his sweet little face. And thus, I know him through the weight of his head in the crook of my elbow. Through the widow’s peak of his hairline (which he inherited from me). Through the lines made by his shut eyelids. Through the small bridge of his tiny nose (which is still more of a nose bridge than I have, and which he got from his daddy). Through his tiny gums. Through the shape of his head.
I even know him from the remains of his cremation. From the bones that stayed intact. Yes, even that means something, because it’s proof that he existed, that he formed within me, that he LIVED.
Louie and I will never know our firstborn in the same way that parents know their living children, but we are so blessed to know Calvin Phoenix in the ways with do. We carry him in our hearts, and we know him through our love for him. And that means everything.