Tuesday, December 28, 2010
That is not to say I'm "over it". Because we all know just how arrogant, and untrue that statement would be. No. I'll never be over Leta. But. But. I have reached an okay place. A place where it's not so dark and cold and scary. I've been to dead baby land, and I've built my own, our own castle here. I'll always be a resident, but for now, now I'm facing away from the pain. Now I'm looking towards the sun. I'm allowing the sun to beat it's tattoo upon my face once again. I'm allowing myself to see, feel and hear the beauty around me.
The weight of losing Leta, and yes it is a weight, The weight of losing her is still there. It's a part of the fabric that makes me. But now it's becoming a thread, a PART of me, but not the WHOLE of me. It's a black shimmery thread woven tightly against the other more brightly colored threads.
I cried in target one day. Lost it. I cried a little on Christmas thinking of all the should have beens. But I'm not the tear stained mess I was once. I'm a little less of a xanax covered mess, and more of a, well I'm not sure....But I think it's better. I hope it is.
I'm at a place in my grieving where I can listen to music again without crying. And that is a huge thing for me, music.
Today I have my Itunes playlist on, just randomly playing on the background as I go about my work.
When the song "Rise" by Eddie Vedder came on I stopped and listened. The words "Gonna rise up, find my direction magnetically" Stood out to me today. Because that is where I am. That is what I'm doing. I AM going to rise up. And instead of feeling my way blindly through this grief, I am going to FIND my direction. I have, I think started to find my way. This is part of my healing. This is part of me. I've tried to capture the beauty around me. I know how soon that beautiful things are lost and gone. This is me. This is my year in Photographs.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
She lost her son Jimmy at 36 weeks, just a little less than a year ago.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Sure I've covered the mask with my "I'm fine, look, I'm wearing pants!" mask.
The other night I had a conversation with a very wise man. One who, in the beginning didn't understand why my pain was eating me alive. Didn't understand exactly what the last 8 months have been like. During our conversation, which had me in tears, I explained to him that our daughter had died in my womb, that my body had failed her. That we labored and delivered our child, the one who's bones were broken. The one who's ribs were all fractured. We delivered her into silence. I think he understood why I am the broken one now. I think he got it.
He picked his words carefully and with great weight and meaning. He told me I need to open my heart, and let her go. Not forget her. Just let her go. I have been desperatly holding onto Leta, this child that I never met, this child of my body. I have been clinging to her. I need pray, and I need to let her be in peace.
Now anyone else saying this to me would have fighting words. It would have raised my hackles and I would have POUNCED. But this man, is a wise one. I respect his words, his truth, his peace. So I listened.
What I took away was there will be a time that I am ready to say goodbye to Leta Blue. To "Let her go" To give her to a higher power. That time is not now, but I feel that it will be soon, has to be soon.
So my mask will remain, both of them will. The terrible scary heartbroken one that I show only to a few. And the "I'm okay, lookatme i'm wearing pants" one that I show to everyone else.
I do see, in the future the mask that I will wear. I see the peace on her face. I see the acceptance. I see the faith. However, that mask will come complete with an empty baby shaped spot in my heart. I can let her go, but I can never, ever forget her. My baby. My Leta Blue.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Sunday at church, every Sunday, this one couple invites us for dinner. So thoughtful and lovely of them, really. But. But. They have a passel of kids. Mostly 3 and under. Girls. And I can't. I just cannot. So we've begged off. Too many times. Not wanting to be rude and appear as a bunch of jerk faces, Jim took the husband aside and explained to him about our loss, and that I have massive social issues of late and cannot be around tiny children right now. He was so very kind about it. But I wonder what he said to his wife. I wonder if SHE understood? Or if they now think I am a total freak. (I am, but that's a different post)
There is such a paradox inside of me right now. I am broken and torn, and miserable and just a giant ball of ICK. But I also, at times have this wonderful positive tiny spark of hope. I hope we will conceive again. But no. I hope we will BRING a baby home this time. I hope I don't ever have to tell my kids again that their sibling died. That I failed.
I can't talk to people. I can't pay attention to what they are saying. I can't DO anything lately. All my friends and family are losing patience with me. I'M losing patience with me. My pain is so on the surface and palpable right now, more than ever before and it makes people uncomfortable. I cannot keep nodding my head, smiling and saying I'm fine. No one wants to hear how unfine I really am, and I cannot really talk about it anyway. I can write, sure, but I cannot speak about Leta right now. I just cannot.
I can't talk about how imaginary she feels. Where is the proof that my Daughter existed? It sits in a blue urn. In a box filled with obituaries, and tiny buntings. In my heavy, broken heart. That's all I have.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
PILLOWS. Particularly MY pillows. I have my basic head pillow, and then my beloved "snuggle" pillow. They can only wear a certain set of pillow cases that are soft and wonderful (and don't match my bedding, but whatever)
I emphatically do NOT ALLOW anyone else to lay on my pillows. I am a freak about flipping my head pillow over to the cool side a million times a night.
Shortly after Leta died, I decided to wash my beloved snuggle pillow. It is a king size synthetic down pillow and was looking kinda manky. So I filled the machine with hot water and bleach and soap and waited. Upon finish of the cycle I encountered a horrific site. My beloved pillow, the one I've had for 10 years, had ripped in the wash. The machine was full of wet pillow fluff. FILLED. I shrieked hysterically, sobbing and was incoherent, only able to point to the machine of death. Jim, confused as to what was happening, slowly opened the machine. Saw the destruction, and led me to lie down quietly while he scooped the remains out. This man, my husband, salvaged every last piece of fluff, put it back in the remains of the case, and sewed that pillow back together for me. He's a good man, that Jim :)
(I'd also tell her, psst.... those boobs are gonna come, so quit stuffing your bra, girl!)
Lately I've been thinking about one lady in particular. Elsa, we called her. She looked like she had been a beauty at one point. Her hair still long and wavy, white as snow. Elsa was dependant on her aides. Immobile, limbs frozen, hands clenched tight. She was also in the throws of dementia.
Elsa couldn't speak, but you couldn't mistake the absolute panic in her eyes. Terror, as if she could speak she would tell of all her grief. She would take to fits of rage, gutteral sounds, crying. This went on for weeks. No one could calm Elsa. Not her aides, nurses, or even the Haldol the doctors prescribed.
Elsa didn't have any family that visited her. A lonely, decidely crazy old lady living out her latter years in a place that was unfamiliar and scary. We tried to calm her, tried to engage her. Nothing doing. She became combatant and though she was old, she was STRONG.
One night, while I was charting, I looked through her history and there it was. Elsa had had a stillborn baby. The nurses and I decided, and we were really at our wits end here, to buy Elsa a baby doll.
When presented with the baby, Elsa lit up. Her limbs relaxed. Her eyes softened, and she rocked and crooned to this tiny plastic dolly. From then on, as long as Elsa had her baby, she was a different woman.
Such a nice happy ending, but the real point is, this woman in her dementia was reliving her grief for her dead child. In having this doll, she could mother the child she had mourned for so long.
I often wonder what became of her. I know she couldn't have lived much longer. I hope she was able to reconcile her grief. I hope she was happy for a moment. I hope that as a young and ignorant aide, I was able to help Elsa.
And now I feel her pain. I feel her grief. The difference is I'm able to speak out about it. To grieve out loud. I grieve for Leta, yes. I also grieve for all those women, past and present that aren't able to talk about it, aren't encouraged and supported to feel the grief. Because the feeling of it, as awful as it is, the feeling is paramount to our recovery. There will be beauty from this pain. There will be a rainbow. Elsa showed me that.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Whatever. I love Church, but hate it at the same time. I love the Gospel, the scriptures, the message. But it is HELL for me to be around so many fertile women who have no idea that it can all end so very tragically. And you know, I could be a total lunatic and shout it out, shout "Stop! Stop and enjoy every second, it's gone too soon. You might be the next victim!" But I'm planning on saving those gems for my later years, when I become the crazy bird feeding bag lady sitting on the library steps, creeping everyone out.
But I digress. What I want to really say here, and I've totally gotten off topic. What I have been thinking about. Does Leta see me? Is she here, somewhere close by watching me, shaking her head at how I've become this deranged selfish person in the last 8 months? Is she with me? Why don't I feel her? I didn't really know her. I never "met" her. Would I know if she was there? Does she know how very sad and destroyed we are? I am? Does she see my pain, my tears, my secret heartbreaking, pillow punching WAILING? Does she see her Mother falling apart?
I want to badly to put the pieces of my life back together. To assemble them all into their neat little slots, but the pieces are jagged and broken, and they just do not fit together, any longer. It's going to be, if I can ever do it, an amalgam of hurt, and trust broken, and betrayal. Perhaps, as the time passes I will add happy, and laughter, and joy. But it's going to be a puzzle smashed together, crammed with all this garbage, and hopefully someday, sprinkled with some sequins and glitter and bows to wrap up this hellish pit of desolation. To make something beautiful out of something hideously ugly.
I hope she sees that I try. Am trying. There is sunshine, and glitter and shiny things, I can see them, but cannot reach them yet. The summit is too far, and I have no energy nor will to climb out yet.
My heart is overcast and cold. Rainy. So it's Autumn. I love Autumn. Usually. But I don't really care. All I can see in the near future are "this time last year" days. This time last year I got pregnant. This time last year I was overjoyed, rich, blessed. Now, so much has been taken from us. I know we still have a lot. We have J, S, and C. I know. Thank God. But so much else was robbed. We lost a baby, but we lost a lot more. We lost our innocence. We lost our trust. We lost our will to... to what? I don't know. Believe that life isn't scary or sad or devastating?
Halloween is soon. I have always hated it, but this year, the year after the year, I want to hide under my covers till all the damn holidays have passed. I don't want to celebrate a trite holiday with candy and merriment. I want to do nothing. But I can't. I have to celebrate this piece of crap day with candy and costumes and a big fake smile.
I can't even think about Thanksgiving right now. I told Jim that we need to go away for Thanksgiving. To some out of the way crappy hotel. I want to make a point of ignoring Thanksgiving. I don't want to spend it with well meaning, but ignorant family. I want to do NOTHING. Last year I was sick as a dog cooking dinner for family. Sick but so HAPPY.
Christmas, the thought of it, paralyzes me. How do I celebrate. The year after year.
Dead baby land is a giant oozing suckfest, isn't it?
Saturday, October 9, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
Thursday, October 7, 2010
2. Music. I have totally changed my style of music since losing Leta. I like Indie music a lot. I listen all day and night. I have a night time play list called "in the wee small hours of the morning" that is so peaceful and soothing.
3. Photography. I'm no good, but I love doing it. I love editing pictures. I love lomography. The bright over saturated colors make my heart happy.
4. Thrift stores. I heart thrift stores. I dig anything vintage. I love cheap bargains!
5. I'm not gonna lie. Xanax. God bless Xanax.
6. Girls night out. I don't leave my house often (I'm a bit of an agoraphobe lately) but I try to go out with a few girlfriends once a month. The two in particular make me laugh, allow me to speak candidly without judgement, encourage me, and love me. I never imagined a year ago that I would have such amazing women in my life, but I do. They didn't know me "before" but I am so grateful for these two ladies!
7. Faces of loss website. Reading other peoples stories makes me feel so much less alone.
8. Notes from my children. They are charming and wonderful and I treasure them.
9. Anything Blue. Anything.
10. Reading. Reading anything. I devour books. I read sometimes two a day. I've been trying to read scriptures more as well.
11. Naps. I love naps. LOVE ell oh vee ee naps!
12. The way my children smell. Weird i know. But it's so intrinsically THEM.
13. My husbands neck. It smells incredible, always the same. I wish I could bottle that smell. I think I must be a freak.
14. Collage. Right after Leta died I made this HUGE collage that really expressed my feelings of grief. I think it's beautiful.
15. Creating anything! Drawing, painting, gluing, sewing. It stops my brain and slows me down a bit.
17. The river. I am so drawn to the river and I can't quite explain it. I can sit there for hours and do nothing but absorb the sights and sounds. It's a 5 minute walk from my house and I go a few times a week.
18. My bed. The way my blankets feel. The softness of my sheets. My pillows (I'm a freak about my pillows) I feel safer there than anywhere else.
19. You wouldn't believe it, but laundry. The routine, the washing, drying and hanging up.
20. Lame I know, but seriously My husbands eyes. He has these amazing eyes. I can just look at him and know he loves me, doesn't judge me, and is willing to care for me in all my craziness and grief for as long as I need. I really don't think I realized how much I love him until Leta died. Sad I know. But he has been and is such an amazing human. I'm glad to know him.
Day two:A movie that has helped or jumped out after your loss; I don't know why, but "Into the Wild" It allows me a cathartic cry and made me become obsessed with Eddie Vedders voice.
It's in my top 5 Favorite Movies. 1. Harold and Maude (soundtrack alone is killer!)
2. Into the Wild
3. Garden State (again with the soundtrack? wow)
4. Gone with the Wind (Sigh. It's just so...so!!)
5. Moulin Rouge (guilty pleasure I'm sure!)
Day 3; A television program that gets you through hard times.
Hmmm. I don't have one. I tend to rent whole seasons and get lost in them though. I like to be distracted. Desperate housewives, King of Queens, and Friends. Yeah I'm original right?
Day 4; My favorite book has changed since my loss. I read "Expecting Adam" during my pregnancy and could totally relate to the odd spiritual experiences she had during her pregnancy with her son Adam, who was dx with Downs. She refers to her life being led by "bunraku puppeteers" I can relate.
Day 5; favorite quote. I usually find quotes trite and annoying. But I love this one; "Mourning is not forgetting. It is an undoing. Every minute tie has to be untied and something permanent and valuable recovered and assimilated from the dust." Margaret Allingham
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Why does it feel as if I take two steps forward, then fall back into this pit of despair?
There are some that don't understand my pain. I've heard the term "she wasn't even human yet" tossed around. I swear to you this was said to us. And it broke us. It broke my Husband, it broke me. It turned us bitter and cold. There were those that refused to come to our child's funeral. Saying that we were ridiculous to hold a funeral for "products of conception" But they don't know. Didn't ask. Didn't realize. I LABORED for 15 hours. My body writhing in pain. My soul breaking in pieces. I labored, my water broke, I pushed my child out of my womb. Into silence. Instead of buying bottles and diapers, we bought an urn. Instead of sleepless nights due to a newborn, we had sleepless nights due to grief. Instead of a baby shower we had a damned funeral.
So I'm bitter, WE are bitter. I am angry. WE are angry. My husband, me, our family we are broken. But we are together. And together, with Jim, With Jakob, Stella and Claire, we will find a way to be okay. Sadness will always tinge our family. But it won't ruin us. No it will not.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
People judge us wanting to try again. They think we are crazy. I know the "what if's" I know the risks. And I am willing to try this again. . Maybe it's selfishness, maybe it's insanity. I don't know, but I feel like I have to do this, am supposed to.
I am keeping my fingers crossed. I am doubtfully optimistic at this point.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
The leaves are starting to turn. They hung yellow over the water. I picked one for your memory box. The leaves are turning, the seasons are changing. Soon it will be winter. Icy like the day you came into this world. I keep hoping that each month will bring change within me. I am searching for peace after my world was broken and ripped apart.
Seven months seems to have gone past slowly, living each day on this planet without you. Seven months Leta.
Last night, Mommy was missing you so much. I read "Good Night Moon" to your brothers and sisters, and you. The story made me think of you. I know your little spirit is all around us. In the stars, the breeze, the air. I love you so much My tiny little daughter. Good night stars, good night air, good night noises, everywhere.
I love you Leta Blue
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Last night I cleaned my room. Normal right? See the normal girl, doing the normal everyday things? I got all done, and made my bed. I put Leta's blanket on it, the one that Jim had embroidered with Leta's name the day before her funeral. I just threw it on the bed, but her name was face up. I felt like I'd been sucker punched in the heart, seeing her name and birth date. That's such an apt description too. Sucker punched in the heart. I had to stop and catch my breath. It's those sneaky little reminders that are going to do me in.
I don't mean I want to erase, or forget about her. No way. I just mean, when I least expect it, I'm going to be mauled by such pain that I cannot fully take a breath. That's my new normal. That's my new life.
Monday, September 13, 2010
And so, Today I dressed my 6 year old, and crooned to her. I hugged her, and held her and wiped away her tears. I walked her onto the bus.
Sometimes, we all need some patience and understanding. Maybe in doing for Claire, I was doing for me what no one seems able or willing to do.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Multi faceted. Iwish they would expound on that. I think I need a manuel to walk me through the grieving. Because I swear some days I go through EVERY stage of grief. I wake up angry. I brush my teeth in denial. I eat breakfast while bargaining. Every stage except acceptance. I'm not there yet.
But this post, this one I started months ago, isn't supposed to be about grief, or death, or Leta. It just sort of happened.
Sometimes in your life you get knocked upside down, and backwards and you emerge knowing who your true friends are. Sometimes they are the people you would least have expected. But there you are, coming through this dark, thorny tunnel or grief. Raw and torn and broken. They are there with a hand, a hug and a shoulder to cry on.
I've been unbelievably fortunate to have found these friends this year. A few I know in real life. A few have been there for 10 or more years. Most I met through my online stillbirth support group, or OI parents support group. But ALL of them have become my lifelines.
So as the new year approaches, I want to say thank you. Thank you isn't enough. But it's all I have. Thank you, and Lemons (there will always be lemons!) And laughter. Hopefully much, much more laughter in the coming year.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
A popular version of the tale is that Sadako folded 644 cranes before she died; her classmates then continued folding cranes in honor of their friend. She was buried with a wreath of 1,000 cranes to honor her dream.
Sadako wrote a haiku that translates into english as:
I shall write peace upon your wings, and you shall fly around the world so that children will no longer have to die this way
That's where The Leta Project comes in. For every 50 cranes we are sent, we will donate a memory box to a local hospital or family in need. Each box will contain two blankets (handmade) one for baby and one for mom and dad to keep. A small teddy and a certificate to receive a "weighted" Bear from Mollybears.com. We will also include a Cd of songs to comfort, a tiny hat, and other little "treasures" that will bring comfort to a grieving family. Please go to
http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/The-Leta-Project/146356652057287 for more information and to show your support! We have one family right now that will be receiving a memory box very soon!!
But stop for a second. Take a closer look. Notice the crinkles around his eyes? He got those from smiling at me and our babies. Notice the worry lines on his forehead? Those are from the many sleepless nights he has spent listening to my worries, or rocking a baby back to sleep after they've had a bad dream. Keep looking. Do you see the slightly graying temples? All me. (and maybe a little bit of the kids) Look even closer now. Look at his soft kind eyes. His eyes tell you everything you need to know about this man. This man that you might not take a second glance at, is a hero.
He is an ouchie kisser, a bed time story reader, supreme ice cream cone maker, piggy tail doing, couch snuggling DADDY! A slayer of dragons, a leader of prayer, a calmer of fears, a rock that we, his family cling to in times of sadness, in times of joy. A hero in the truest sense of the word.
Look again and notice the deep sadness that is right at the surface.
This year has been especially tough for us. Him. This year my Husband and I, we lost our child. Our Daughter. Our Leta Blue. While I keened like a wounded animal, he was there, picking me up off the floor. While I sobbed and screamed in anger, he was there. And while I pushed our child from my womb, our child, so still and silent, He was there. And afterwords, when they had wrapped our stillborn daughter in a blanket and taken her away, away to a cold dark place where Mommy could not hold her. Away. He was there. His arms held me as our tears mixed together. Both of us clutching her blanket. As I questioned the fairness of it all, he was there with reassuring words, reminders of our faith, and touches and glances. As I could not hold myself up on the day of our Daughters funeral, he was there letting me lean into him. He was my strength. Is. And as I grieve for our Daughter, the one we could no see. The one who came too soon, and was born too silently. He is there. He is there.
A calmer of my fears. A soother of my agony. A kisser away of my tears. My love. My rock. My best friend. My Hero. My Husband.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Two lines on the test. There were two lines. After 6 years of infertility, We had given up, put it out of our minds. God had blessed us 3 fold with our son, and our twin girls. What more could we have asked for really? But, there it was. Proof of our labor, two lines. Two lines, not expected, anticipated, but definitely wanted.
We were expecting! Looking forward to! Anticipating the arrival of our fourth (and final) miracle!
At the doctor they did another test. Negative. Disbelieving, heartbroken, crushed. Tears, oh so many gut wrenching tears! I recall being terribly ill the next week, being rushed to the ER. “Any chance you might be pregnant?” A sad shake of my head. Warm blanket wrapped around me. It smelled like the top of a newborns head. Baby. I was warmed, comforted by this, by the voice inside telling me to wait, be patient.
The ER doctor delivering the news, PREGNANT indeed! 9 weeks along, heartbeat on the screen, no denying this! Our little family was so excited, expecting! Looking forward to! Anticipating!
A summer baby! July. Weeks went by, filled with OB appointments, and morning sickness. Oh morning sickness! Like I had never experienced before! Hospitalized for dehydration. Hyper emesis gravidium they said. So sick, miserable. But still seeing the light at the end of the tunnel; baby.
Big belly, so big! I was so proud of that glorious belly! Our children touching my belly, talking to, singing to. And then! Day after Christmas, our baby moves! She’s moving, kicking, swirling, turning! Proof of life. More weeks go by, we are finally past the “danger” point, onto the second trimester, the “safe” period. Breathe sigh of relief. During my next OB appt, discussing tests, opting not to have the AFP. Feeling the need the urge to tell my OB something doesn’t feel right, but not wanting to be laughed at. Something feels wrong, something is wrong with baby. Can’t shake this. But she’s moving, twirling, pushing. Surely, surely I’m just paranoid. It’s been so long since I was pregnant, but not remembering this feeling.
On top of the world, big belly, so big! Driving and singing. The song “with arms wide open” coming on the radio. Crying. Such a moving song. Contraction, tightening! Odd. Too early for Braxton hicks, surely? Strange feeling. Not just the tightening of my belly, strange sense of foreboding. But tomorrow is our ultrasound! Tomorrow we find out if our bean is a boy or a girl! Home, lay down, sleep, surely the strange feeling will stop soon?
Next morning, drinking two bottles of orange juice, waking up baby for our big scan! Wake up baby, wake up! Joking, lighthearted.
During our scan, the scan with all our children present. The scan that is supposed to be a joyous occasion. Silence. Why isn’t the tech playing the heartbeat? Why does baby look so different? Tech tells us a GIRL! A girl a girl a girl! Oh! Happy! So happy, but something is holding me back, it all feels fake, pretend. I cannot imagine our family with a baby, let alone a girl baby. When will I feel happy, excited? Walmart to buy our first PINK things! My phone kept ringing, ringing. Number not recognized. Ignore. Ringing and ringing . At home finally answer. It’s the on call Ob. No heartbeat, no heartbeat she says. Come into the hospital and let’s check again. Animal keening, falling to the floor. No heartbeat. I knew. I knew. This baby. I knew. I knew I knew I knew.
Hospital ultrasound, silence. Too quite too quite too quite. No heartbeat, “I’m sorry she’s gone” No. No no no no no. Not true. Can’t be true! How could our daughter, our baby be gone? Dead? She’s dead and she’s my baby and she’s not here. I should have known, felt when her spirit left me! I’m her mother!
Upstairs. Quite corner of labor and delivery. Can hear babies crying in the nursery, am in a dream. Flower with a tear drop on our door. We are the family to avoid! Don’t come near us, our baby is dead! It might be catching, the dead baby thing! Stay away. People to be pitied! Dead baby!
Labor is started, phone calls. I don’t know who I called. People showing up to pray with us, comfort us. It doesn’t help. She’s dead. My baby is dead, yours isn’t. Life is not fair. I have to push my dead daughter out of my body. All the pain of labor with none of the reward. Physical pain with emotional pain. Labor. To work hard. Doesn’t begin to describe the journey we are about to take.
Sympathetic, pathetic. Dead baby in room 316.
Hours of labor. Hours of knowing what is about to happen, denying it. Hoping within hope that they are wrong! She’s not dead! Broken machine! Whoops!
Middle of the night, I awake from a restless sleep. Someone is next to my bed. There is a light, something next to me. Someone is speaking to me. “Let me go” its saying. “It’s time to let me go Mom” “No! "I say. I’m not ready, I can’t do this, don’t leave! It’s time. I love you, daughter. I loved you I love you.
My eyes open, my water breaks. It is time. I am not ready but it is time to push my dead daughter from within me. My womb. I push. I push I push I push. I lose track of what I’m doing. Eyes locked into my husbands. Don’t look away. If I look away surely, surely I will die. I want to die. She’s alone, all alone. One of us should be with her! She’s a baby! Alone. Tears are running down our faces. I push. She’s here. She’s here and it’s silent. It’s too quiet! I just had a baby, and it’s too quiet! No one says a word, makes a sound. The doctor holding her. She fits in her hand. She’s tiny, and not well, my daughter. She’s broken, and dead. My daughter. Why, how did I not know? I didn’t KNOW! I, maybe I could have done something? She’s dead, and It’s my fault and I wish it were me. It’s not fair. They won’t let me see her. She’s dead, and broken and they won’t let me see my daughter. Before they take her, I tell the doctor, her name is Leta Blue. Her name is Leta. She’s my daughter, my flesh and blood, she’s dead. Leta. Leta Leta. She’s taken from us. Taken from the only home she’s known. The warmth of my womb to the coldness of the morgue. What is going on? I have a child in the morgue? How can this be my reality?? I am torn. Empty. I am empty. I was expecting a baby, not a funeral! She can’t be dead, it’s a mistake! It’s a nightmare! I want to wake up. My husband crawls into bed and we hold each other. We are holding on for dear life. Sobbing for this horrible tragic thing that has happened. How did we become this? We aren’t supposed to be the parents of a stillborn baby! This cannot be happening!
Everything is a blur. We are given small mementos of our daughter. A bunting she was wrapped in. So tiny. This cannot be real. Her hand prints and feet prints. So tiny, so…so perfect. A blanket. A bracelet with her name on it. This is all we have. We have no pictures. We have no first outfit, we only have last. Last outfit. We have outlived our child This is not the way it should be. I feel like a mental patient. I have lost my mind. They should give ME a death certificate. Part of me, the essential part of me has died with my child. Me and my child died this day, this cold February day. Death without life. No birth certificate. Only death. Death death death. Dead. So permanent. So forever.
I’m in a hospital room with a teardrop on the door and our daughter is in the morgue. Dead.
I don’t remember leaving the hospital. It’s probably good I don’t. I do remember driving past the funeral home knowing my baby was there alone. So alone. She’s scared, she’s alone, she wants her mama!
Sitting in the funeral home, writing our daughters obituary. What do you say about a life that didn’t get lived? Born and died. Same date. Infant daughter. Born and died. I want to tell the people that she kicked when her brother sang to her. She kicked when her daddy touched my belly. I want people to know her, the way I knew her. I am grieving alone. Only I knew her! Obituary, infant daughter, born and died same day. Should never be this way. I should be buying pink nursery things, not writing an obituary, sitting in this funeral home smelling of death and sadness. I should be knitting booties, not picking out an URN for my dead baby. Alone in this room, the cloying smell of death in the air. My baby daughter is alone in some cold unfriendly room in this stinking hell hole. Dead. The smell of death seeps through my pores.
I don’t know how we got out of there. Don’t know how we are alive. Everything is a blur. Her memorial service was lovely. Good friends set up the whole thing. My husband and I spoke. I don’t know what we said. I remember looking out and seeing the pity, the absolute pity. The "I’m glad it’s you and not me" looks. The pity killed me. Don’t pity me! Don’t feel sorry for me! This could be your daughter! Your son, your child. Don’t pity us!
Balloons. We released balloons for our Leta Blue. Balloons sent to heaven for our baby daughter. Born and died. Died before born. Take these broken wings and learn to fly. You were only waiting for this moment to arrive.
Balloons for my baby daughter. I cannot hold you. I cannot nourish you with my breast. I cannot dress you up in frilly pink dresses, and parade you around, hold you, love you . This is all I can do. balloons. Balloons and tears. If tears were kisses I’d have kissed you a million times now. My baby daughter, you flew away. You left silently. You lived silently. You died silently. My baby daughter, gone. Hold tight to the legs of all your angels. You are my forever, my baby blue.
Today I plan on leaving the house again. I have to say again, and make it seem like a bigger deal than it is. It's not a big deal to me if I stay in my pajamas all day everyday. I think people THINK it's a big deal. Like wearing real pants will make everything OKAY. I think if they see me wearing real pants makeup jewelry perfume it makes THEM more comfortable. Makes them think less "dead baby" and more "normal life"
But the thing, and yeah there is always a thing with me, the thing is is that there IS no normal.There is no Okay. There is only before Leta and after Leta. Before death and after. Hers or mine? Both of ours? It's only before I was faced with words like ashes, and coffin and funeral.And after. Faced only with words like dead and lost and empty.
So back to the leaving of the house, I plan on leaving. That requires a shower, and makeup and clean clothes finding. That requires enough time and energy to plaster this fake smile on my face and try out my fake laughter. I have to make you feel comfortable. And think less crazy. Think I'm less crazy than I really am.
The leaving thing, the thing with leaving the house is that there are literally babies EVERYWHERE.There are the hugely pregnant teenage mothers, the pregnant ones smoking, the pregnant ones screaming at their little tiny children. Taking for granted. And the thought that I have, this thought that eats me up and makes me a likely candidate for the mental hospital is "I hope your baby doesn't die" I told that to Jim once, and I think he was appalled. Is it really that appalling? I do hope their baby doesn't die, but it's more a selfish victim like thought. It's not all apples and sweetness. Not at all.Say it in your most bitter victimized voice. I hope your baby doesn't die. Mine died, and I am a good mother and don't smokedrinkdodrugs or any of the other hideously inappropriate things that parents do sometimes. I hope your baby doesn't die. I hope mine didn't. Wouldn't shouldn't have died. I did things by the book. This baby died. Mine died.Yours didn't. won't I hope. I hope you know how lucky you are. I hope you get it. Don't take for granted. I say that, and I sit here and probably take for granted the fact that I have these three souls here that are in my care, my guardianship, that I am responsible for.I am not whole so I cannot wholly give of myself to these guys, and that is what they deserve, a whole mother. I am a damaged broken mother with a tear stained face. I am a mopey weepy mother listening to sad songs to express how I feel because I cannot say to the depths of my soul how sad and broken I really am.
I will get dressed because I have to. Life goes on for everyone else, not me. My life is stuck, stalled on Feb. 21st. My life as I knew it ended then, and I cannot will not have not made peace with this new life, this life I didn't want didn't ask for should not have. Why me why not me>?
So dressed. And I'll see all these happy disgusting pregnant women, and families with their new baby. I am not at the point I can feel happy for them. Selfish. I hope your baby doesn't die. It's this cycle, this endless self pity that isn't who I was but is certainly who I am as of now.
I know that someday I will look back and probably be ashamed of my inner thoughts, behavior but right now, when everything is dark and tastes of bitterness and resentment, I will get dressed, and pretend. Pretend to be whole and me and the person everyone wants me to be thinks I should be.
But frankly, if you look at my eyes you will see that I am the mother of a dead baby. And listen to my manic laughter, and know that it is for show, fake. My smile robotic and pasted on.
My heart and soul are black and broken and burnt.
That is what I am today. There is such rawness and bitterness inside me that should not be there.I am grappling with the fact that I lost my baby failed her somehow and grappling with these awful selfish feelings of victimization and desperation.
I have failed as your mother. I failed at the most primal thing that as a woman, I am expected, supposed to, wanted to do. I failed to keep my child alive and safe in my womb.
In February I failed. In August I was finally able to process that failure. To take the grief out of my pocket and examine it. It probably should have stayed there. Or been put in a box and locked. But the grief, it sat there in my pocket, heavy and cold for 6 months. I took it out, and examined it. Looked closely at it. My grief is not different from any other grief. It's not unique. It's cold and bitter and angry and empty. My grief has a name and it's called dead baby.
Everyday I awake, tired from nightmares, and disoriented. Thinking I should feed my baby, change my baby, love my baby. Then I remember and it rushes back to me like a punch to the chest. I remember that my baby is dead. I cannot nurse her, only nurse my grief. And I do. I do nurse it. I chain smoke my grief like it's going out of style. I took it out of my pocket, now I have to deal with it. I have to measure it, and examine it. I have to feed it, change it, love it. It's mine and it's what I'm left with.
I know I have much, much more. This husband. This family. But it's not her,and I know I have failed, am a failure, so I cannot allow myself to feel the happiness of those things. Cannot allow myself for one moment to be okay. I am not okay. I failed. I failed her, and them and him, and me. I know that. I carry that with me too. My twins,grief and failure.
What am I supposed to do with this grief? Am I supposed to turn it positive and change the world with it? Or am I supposed to let it eat me, consume me? He sees me not fighting and thinks that I've given up. Another failure. But he doesn't see my internal fight. My minute to minute second to second fight. I am battling with myself all day everyday. It's not your fault; you couldn't have done anything to save her. REALLY? How do you know? . I knew from the second this child was conceived that something was wrong and I didn't couldn't didn't say a word to anyone. That is my failure. My body failed me and I failed her. It's so beyond repair right now. I know I should see someone, reach out. But I cannot. I am drowning here, and cannot will not cannot see land.
So I hold my grief, now in the open, in the palm of my hand. It's black and hard and cold and angry. I carry it on my hip, jiggle it,rock it, sing to it. My grief is my baby. I must care for it, not fail it,the way I did her.
Her. A she. A tiny baby girl, a miracle baby girl. A light in me. My hope, my safety. And I let it slip away,in the night. I knew in my guts that she was not okay, knew it in my cells that she was to be born early and not okay. But didn't have enough faith in myself to tell anyone. Maybe that is the only way I failed. The not believing in myself? Maybe that is my lesson here.
Some days I'm so positive, knowing she had a mission and a body and came for a reason. Then there are the cold dark days. The days where I scream and cry inside myself. The day sthat I want to lie down and give up. The days where there is no hope, only this deep penetrating sadness. My body betrayed me. It betrayed me! It let me down and let them down and let her down. It stabbed me in the heart with this, and now expects to be okay. It robbed me of my child and made me have to have this ugly GRIEF this saturation of hurt hate cold that consumes me. I'm not all angel mommy in the arms of Jesus lala happyville. I'm angry. No one else is angry. I'm so mad! There is no peace to be had, not yet. Not until I've nursed this grief until the well dries up. Not until I've parented this grief, raised it and given it the tools to survive.
This is my emotional mind. My rational mind knows better. It knows where my child is, it knows that this too shall pass, it knows it knows it knows. But I want to be childish and allow my emotions to rule me right now. For 6 months I played the part I was expected to play. Now it's my turn to angry! I will scream and shout and curse and cry and gnash my teeth until all this rage is purged from me and I'm left with peace and light and happy flower kitty land thoughts! My rants are the thoughts of the crazy, the deranged, the locked up forever in a padded room. That is my inner turmoil and it must be spoken. I make you uncomfortable. That's okay. This grief is in us all, and we, all of us need to mourn and hurt and rant and scream and yell until we have vomited all of this pain and grief out of our bodies. We must get it all out if we have any chance of being whole ever again!
I will purge this, I will speak this way, and it will make everyone around me very uncomfortable. But I must, and I will. And it will come out, and we will, I will, my family will be okay.
Motherhood is a very competitive sport. It’s true! Any Mother, new or old will tell you. “Are you nursing?” “Did you have natural childbirth?” “Do you cloth diaper, organic home made baby food?” Etc Etc Ad naseaum.
Answer wrongly and you will be shunned by what I refer to as “The Muffia” We all know the type, perfect hair, clothes without baby urp stains. The ones that seem to be able to handle the rigors of motherhood and look good doing it. The ones that
Do everything by the book. The ones that make the rest of us look inferior. Feel inferior.
But motherhood is full of dirty little secrets. No one tells you just how hard it is. We are, as girls from childhood, led to believe that motherhood is peaches and daffodils. We are surrounded by these strong women in our lives that make it look effortless. We walk into this dream of motherhood ill prepared for just how very much of ourselves we are asked to give to others. We don’t realize how much of us we are going to sacrifice. But it’s more. We know there will be sleepless nights. We know a lot of it is thankless grunt work. We don’t have a clue as to what being a “mother” really means. We glimpse it, this secret club of motherhood, very fast. While our new babes sleep we are trying to cram everything into this short space, this nap time. At least I was. I like to think that maybe I wasn’t alone. I didn’t stop and just BE a mother. I didn’t stop and just let the wonder of this life, this soul that is part of me and not part of me. I didn’t, if you will, stop and smell the roses. I just survived. I got through it. Sure there were moments of pure bliss. Wrapping my beautiful son in towel after his bath, snuggling him for a moment before I got back to the work of “being a mom” Lotioning, diapering, dressing, feeding. Maybe because I was such a young new mother, I felt I had to prove something. Be the perfect mother. I held such shame that I didn’t nurse my son, cloth diaper him, feed him the best organic fare I could find. I was, essentially in a hurry to get somewhere. To become that perfect specimen of mother. And then, time got away, and pretty soon this new babe, this magnificent little lump, became a CHILD. A BOY. No longer a baby. I blinked and my onesie, diaper clad baby became my Osh kosh wearing, truck playing BOY. And then. And then. I blinked and all of a sudden I had this FAMILY. A boy, age 3 and newborn twin girls. These teeny tiny little fairy babies, and this rough and tumble chocolate pie-eyed boy. My family. And I was so busy DOING. So much shame not nursing my son, so I forced myself to nurse these girls. I nursed, at one point for 15 hours a day. I nursed, while trying to read to my son. I nursed while teaching my little boy, my darling darling baby boy to say his letters. I nursed while saying; not now honey, mommy’s busy. I nursed, exhausted from no sleep, from trying to be perfect while pretending to be interested in what this tiny boy was saying. Not really hearing him, and sometimes wishing he would omg shut up be quite and stop talking, stop talking stop wanting, needing omg! I nursed these girls until they were 15 months. They were cloth diapered, organically fed. I tried to be super mom. I tried and tried, but I failed. Maybe to the outside world I appeared to be superior than most. At least in my heart that is the image I so wanted to send out. I am a better mommy than you because I… (Fill in the blank) I perpetuated this competitive thing, this ugly side of mother hood. Instead of nurturing the sisterhood that mothering should bring, I perpetuated this model of perfection. And when I laid my head on my pillow at night, I still was not satisfied with my self. I still felt inadequate. So I tried harder. I tried harder to be this June cleaver-esque mommy. To out mommy the other mommies. And still. And still I wasn’t good enough. There came a point, a day where my father had come to visit and was appalled that I still had Easter eggs in my fridge a month after the holiday. My perfectionist father sat in my home and JUDGED my parenting. Questioned my parenting. My fridge, and my dammed eggs. And this perfect mother act (because it was all just a farce) it cracked and crumbled. It smashed like those damn eggs that were a month old. And I cracked, and I crumbled, and I swear to you I literally lost my mind over these eggs, this judgment. I proceeded to have quite the nervous breakdown. I was tired, exhausted and my eggs were OLD. I failed as a parent! I had to go away. I had to get away from this shitstorm I had created and rest. I had to get myself back. So I left. I left and I checked myself into the crazy house and cried and wailed and rested and medicated, and found myself again. Meanwhile, my mother watched these kids of mine. She fed them (gasp) creamed tuna on toast and paper diapered them. I was horrified. I’m sure my medical file states how I cried for days about my children eating tuna, creamed or not. And the subsequent mercury poisoning I was sure they would suffer. I was, in a word, batshit crazy.
And then I came back. I came back like I was never gone. I came back quieter, with less of a crazy perfectionism glean in my eye. My fire, in a word, had been extinguished. I realized that in my race for perfectionism, in the best mommy in the world pageant, I was the only damn contestant, and I had lost. In losing that perfectionism though, I gained something else. I stopped, and I slowed down, and I was able to sit and be not the gold standard model mommy but the mommy that I should have been all along. The fun mommy, the silly mommy. The perfect mommy for MY kids. I still struggle. I struggle with feelings of inadequacy. I struggle with still wishing I could be that magazine perfect mother. I wish I could honestly care more about toys and monkey bars and all the things my kids love. I wish that I could bake decent cookies and keep a perfect house. But most of all, I wish in my heart of hearts that I hadn’t lost those years with my babies. Those important years. I hardly remember them being tiny little things. I was trying to survive. Not enjoy, just get through the day to day. I missed the wonder in their eyes as they discovered the world around them. I missed this, and I look at them sometimes, and I wonder, “Do they know?” Do they mommy wasn’t there? Do they know they have a supremely flawed mother?
Do they know, that even now, as they sleep and dream in their messy messy rooms, that I will be there, sitting by their bed, brushing the hair out of their eyes, rocking back and forth, whispering; I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I’m sorry.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Yesterday I had cleaned the twins room, top to bottom, windexed the walls, organized toys. All of that. Today My little boy (who I guess is not little at all) asked me so very sweetly if I would help him clean his room so it would look as nice as the girls. Of course I answered yes. He was just so sweet! So him and I are going through the things in his room. All the boy treasures that he keeps. I was trying to be quite mindful of what was important to him, although a lot of it looked like trash to me. He has bottle caps, tiny paper airplanes, buttons, rocks, a whole paper clip section. It overwhelmingly looks like junk. But I'm in there, and I'm cleaning with him, and he's organizing his "collections" and telling me what each thing is and why it's so important to him. And I realized, for maybe the first time? That this person whom I've shared my life with for 10 years, this person is not "mine" he is his own. He has his own ideas, and sacred things. These little tiny pieces of garbage are his treasures. Rubberbands, and screws, just lots of 'boy" things. This is just the beginning of his separate life. From here on out this boy will move farther away, and find his own way. It just seems so very impossible to me that he is capable of this, this growing up. I blinked and I missed it. He's not mine. He is his own. From now on I cannot lead him, only guide, quietly. His path will be his own. Not mine. His will his own. His "treasures" his own. I only hope that as he goes, he will look back once or twice. I hope he realizes that he is leaving me with my own treasures. This boy child is on the cusp of discovering him self. And I cannot wait to watch and see this flesh of my flesh find his way in the universe.
He will be fine, I'm not sure if I will, yet.