Happy second birthday, Angelo.

Two years ago today we gave birth to our angel baby, Angelo.  His story is on my sidebar if you’re not familiar with it.  Someday I want to write a book about this beautiful boy who changed our lives so much—who is still changing our lives—and when I do, the first chapter will go something like this.  I wrote this when I was five months pregnant with Angelo.

It’s funny how the things you’re thankful for change over time. When I was a kid, I remember thanking God for my first pair of real stirrup pants. In high school I thanked God when I made varsity basketball.  In college I thanked God for my success. As an adult, I thank God for good health, for an amazing family, for a sunny day. And in the past month I have thanked God every day that I know my unborn son is going to die.

Not to be misunderstood, I am not thanking God that Angelo is going to die—although surprisingly I have thanked him for that once or twice as well—but I thank him that we are aware of it. That we have this time to love him, to build a garden for him and write poems to him, to teach our two-year-old as much about his baby brother while we still have physical evidence of his aliveness.

I sometimes imagine the delivery room if we hadn’t found out about Angelo’s Trisomy 13 at our 20-week ultrasound. I would have spent the next few months preparing the nursery, having baby showers, dreaming with Vincenzo about what his brother would be like.  I’d be joking about the dates he’d go on with my pregnant friends’ babies.

Then during labor, something would go wrong.  Maybe his heart beat would speed up and he’d be in distress. The doctor would call for an emergency C-section. I’d be scared. They’d remove the baby from my stomach and rush him to the ICU where he would be tested and treated for everything, the doctors knowing something wasn’t right. I’d be worried but I would trust that everything would be all right—it always is, isn’t it?  The doctors can fix it, the doctors can fix it…and then they’d return with my dead, blue, cold baby, shaking their heads and saying they’re sorry, and I would be thrown into such depths of anguish that it would take me years, years, to climb out.

Instead, at 26 weeks pregnant I am buying preemie outfits with angel wings on them and expensive, ultrasoft blankets to lay Angelo in, and I am imagining a delivery that, though sad, is also sweet and peaceful. No matter how Angelo is born, we will have time to love all over him all because we have some idea of what is coming.  And I am so thankful for that.

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Even though Angelo’s death was a tragedy on many levels, we wanted to make sure the world was a happier, lovelier place because of him rather than a drearier one.  Our friends and family continue to help us with that.  My friend had the perfect words for us in a card she sent this year: “We’ll celebrate Angelo’s birthday not in measuring milestones but in remembering the love-filled feelings that exist for someone who you know is special.” 

We love you Angelo.

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10 thoughts on “Happy second birthday, Angelo.

  1. I can’t wait to buy your book. (I hope I get an autographed copy.)

    I love the way you love your sons, I love how you honor Angelo’s memory, I love how you make his absence meaningful. Lots of love going on. I love it.

  2. I’ve read about Angelo many times and it still brings me to tears every time. You seem at peace, and in a richer place because of him.

  3. Yup…lots of tears 🙂

    You are an amazing woman and have a wonderful way of thinking about things…

    Lots of love to all of you!!

  4. I too have read and re-read Angelo’s story and am thankful that you shared it and continue to honor it.

  5. I don’t think you want my tears but I just can’t help it. You’ve got them. This is so beautiful Rachel. Your love and your spirit and the precious photos of you with Angelo… beautiful.

    Angelo made a difference in my life this evening.

  6. Rest assured my friend that sweet Angelo’s life has made mine brighter. My appreciation for the little things that are taken for granted has grown. I actually just read the Hopi prayer you sent us, on Thursday night. It still moves me. I admire you in so many ways.

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