Every year, 26,000 babies are stillborn in America. In 2003, one of them was my son.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What I Really Want

I just want people to say his name.

(And yes, there are people in my house not saying his name today, and it hurts.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Five Years

Today, five years ago. I sat in my living room, trying to eat some lunch my friend kindly made me, waiting for 6 p.m., waiting to return to the hospital I'd only just left, to deliver my first son. Preparing--as if you could ever prepare--to come home without him.


The poem below doesn't relate to stillborn babies, but the last line slides through my mind from time to time, as it has done for the last 15 years or so, since I first heard of (and briefly met), the poet, Seamus Heaney. He's Irish and has a way with words I envy. This poem gripped me the first time I read it, wrapped a hand around my heart and squeezed. I couldn't imagine, then, the loss of which it spoke.


Last night, before sleep, I thought of a friend of mine, E., dead for nearly 18 years now, whose youngest son was killed at the age of 16 in a car accident, in the week between Christmas and New Year. His name was Thomas, which was--is--Ben's middle name. I had a crush on Tommy, harbored secret dreams of marrying him when we grew up. People have pointed out to me that maybe that first angel, Tommy, led me to give my own angel, Ben, his second name. I don't know. But the timing...of their deaths, and those memories. I don't know. But last night, I thought of his mother, who I loved dearly, and pictured me, now, going back through the years to her, hugging her, both of us crying, and telling her, "Now. Now I understand."


I'm rambling, I know, full of thoughts I can't complete. Today, I remember, like every day. And long for what I'll never have.


Watch out for the poem's last line - I think it will grab your heart, too, and clench it with a mighty fist.


Mid-Term Break

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close,
At two o'clock our neighbours drove me home.


In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.


The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand


And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble,"
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand


In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.


Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,


Wearing a poppy bruise on the left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in a cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.


A four foot box, a foot for every year.

--Seamus Heaney

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just Because

Because there are 528 things currently not getting done in my house and life - the basement renovation that was supposed to end last week, the 10 hours I spent painting the basement this weekend, the carpet that is not getting installed tomorrow but instead on Thursday when I can't actually be home - and the Christmas cards, the wrapping, the baking, the tidying up of this infernal mess that is my home.... I give you a poem by May Sarton:

Now I Become Myself

Now I become myself. It's taken
Time, many years and places;
I have been dissolved and shaken,
Worn other people's faces,
Run madly, as if time were there,
Terribly old and crying a warning,
"Hurry, you will be dead before..."
(What? Before you reach the morning?
Or the end of the poem is clear?
Or love safe in the walled city?)
Now to stand still, to be here,
Feel my own weight and density!
The black shadow on the paper
Is my hand; the shadow of a word
As thought shapes the shaper
Falls heavy on the page, is heard.
All fuses now, falls into place
From wish to action, word to silence,
My work, my love, my time, my face
Gathered into one intense
Gesture of growing like a plant.
As slowly as the ripening fruit
Fertile, detached and always spent,
Falls but does not exhaust the root,
So all the poem is, can give,
Grows in me, to become the song;
Made so and rooted so by love.
Now there is time and Time is young.
O, in this single hour I live
All of myself and do not move.
I, the pursued, who madly ran,
Stand still, stand still, and stop the sun.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giving Thanks, Giving Back

In the spirit of my last post, and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought I'd direct you to another website you may already have heard of. It's been around for a number of years now, and I've been clicking on it almost daily. It's actually a group of sites: The Hunger Site, The Breast Cancer Site, The Child Health Site, The Literacy Site, The Rainforest Site and The Animal Rescue Site. By going there every day and clicking, site sponsors donate money to save the rainforest, feed hungry people and rescue animals, provide vaccinations and medicine for needy children, provide mammograms for low-income women, and give books to underprivileged children.

All you have to do is click. How radical is that?

All the site also have awesome shops, with many fair trade and hand crafted items, including some absolutely gorgeous jewelry (dangerous for me to look at!), Burt's Bees products, clothing, and much, much more. I love to do holiday shopping on these sites; every purchase funds more help for those in need. If I'm going to spend my money anyway, I'd like to know I'm not simply buying into my nation's rampant consumerism, I'm also doing some good.

One thing in this life I truly believe is that small actions can make big changes. Join me in taking some of those small actions; it only takes a minute to make a difference.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Save the Children

I've mentioned Save the Children on my blog before as one of the charities my husband and I chose to send donations to--and have friends and family send donations to--in memory of Ben. This charitable organization helps mothers and children all over the world. Currently, Save the Children has a campaign called "Survive to 5," and, well, the name says it all.

From their website:
"Every year, more than 9 million children in the developing world die before they reach the age of 5. That means about 25,000 children under 5 are dying every day!

Many of these deaths are from preventable or treatable illnesses like pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, measles and complications related to childbirth. Nearly four million of these deaths occur to newborns – babies less than one month old.

Most of the deaths could be prevented through low-cost health solutions. But making these effective, affordable solutions available to families living in poor, remote communities is the key challenge."

One large part of Save the Children's mission is to train community health workers to go out to impoverished towns and villages and make sure parents know that their children need vaccinations, give support to breastfeeding mothers, provide antibiotics for infection and bed nets to prevent malaria-carrying mosquito bites. This holiday season, I'm not going to ask you to make a monetary donation, though if you find it in your heart to do so, that's wonderful. You can go to Save the Children's website and, with a few simple clicks, send a letter to President-elect Obama, your senators and congresspeople to show your support for the Global Child Survival Act, which would expand funding for things like immunizations and medicine for those who need them.

If you're a knitter or crocheter, there is also a download available with patterns to knit baby hats, which Save the Children will give to newborns in need around the world.

Even though Ben is not here with me, I have much to be grateful for. I know just how lucky I am to live in the United States in the 21st century. There's a quote, I can't remember from whom, that goes something like, "For those to whom much has been given, much is required." And I agree. This is one of my ways of giving back, small as it may be. I truly believe small actions can change the world; little things add up to great big ones, and I want every child to have a decent shot at living a wonderful life.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Things They Don't Tell You

They don't tell you about the friends you will lose, nor do they tell you that the world will go on when your world has stopped. They don't tell you of the songs that will make you burst into tears five years later, entire CDs you can't listen to ever again. They don't tell you about the permanent ache you can't specify in this land without a map. There is no geographical place called the land of broken hearts, no mile marker to track your progress through grief...mile 2,892, mile 2,893....nearly there, almost done, destination reached. They don't tell you that you will become the grim reaper for expectant parents everywhere, you will be the last one they inform, the one they walk away from, hoping that it doesn't happen to them. They don't tell you that you will measure other's pain by your own, rightly or wrongly. They don't tell you what to do with the overwhelming, boundless love you are aching to give to one little person, spilling out of you with nowhere to go. If they are wise, they might tell you that the hole will never fill, and they will say that you will survive, somehow.

And you do. You survive, whether you want to or not. Whether you know how to survive, or not. You go on.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

31 Questions



C., over at My Resurfacing, tagged me for this meme. A little fun is always a good thing, so here goes:

1. Where is your cell phone? In my purse or on the kitchen counter.

2. Where is your significant other? Downtown, at work.

3. Your hair color? Blonde.

4. Your mother? More talented than she knows.

5. Your father? Really smart.

6. Your favorite thing? A cup of coffee, a good book, and a sunny day. (Ok, that's three.)

7. Your dream last night? Don't recall any.

8. Your dream/goal? Publishing my book.

9. The room you are in? The living room.

10. Your hobby? Don't have enough time for hobbies.

11. Your fear? I will lose another child.

12. Where do you want to be in six years? Not living in this town, and successful in my career.

13. Where were you last night? Home.

14. What you're not? Where I want to be in my life.

15. One of your wish list items? More time.

16. Where you grew up? Ephrata, PA.

17. The last thing you did? Vacuumed.

18. What are you wearing? Jeans, an old t-shirt and an old cardigan - my cleaning clothes.

19. Your T.V.? Wonderful for distracting the kids.

20. Your pet? None. But wishing for a cat.

21. Your computer? Indispensable.

22. Your mood? Stressed.

23. Missing someone? Every second of every day.

24. Your car? A Volvo wagon. How yuppie of me.

25. Something you're not wearing? A hat.

26. Favorite store? D├ęcor? Clothing? Shoes? Umm.... wow. Shoes: the red mary-jane-ish pumps I bought in August - I LOVE those shoes. Clothing: My Levi's jeans, which are wearing out. Decor: Hmm. I love several - so let's say kind of eclectic, but don't look at my home and assume that's what I've got! Favorite store: I think the only stores I go to are the grocery store, TJ Maxx, Target, Marshalls and Michaels. Boring. Probably TJ Maxx.

27. Your Summer? Went too quickly.

28. Love someone? Yes.

29. Your favorite color? Blue.

30. When is the last time you laughed? Yesterday.

31. Last time you cried? Last week.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pregnancy and Infant Loss - Still in the Dark

It's National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day - right in the middle of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and on the same day as Blog Action Day, when bloggers around the country post on a selected topic, which this year is poverty. Stillbirth, again, as always, lost in the shuffle of other issues - the economy, the election, other topics deemed more important, more noteworthy, more acceptable for public consumption.

But dead babies? Are they no big deal? It seems they are only a big deal to pro-lifers who picket outside abortion clinics, holding up their grisly photos for all the world to see.

Why are dead babies, those stillborn and delivered too soon, a big deal only to their grieving mothers and fathers? Today alone, 71 babies will be stillborn in this country. Think about that. That's approximately three 2nd-grade classrooms the size of my daughter's class, vanishing every day. Worldwide, approximately 10,958 babies will be stillborn today. That's about 4,000 more lives than the total population of that town in Alaska we keep hearing about, Wasilla, population 7,028.

How many articles in newspapers, magazines, on TV or online have you seen this year about autism? Dozens, I suspect. How many about stillbirth? One? Two, tops? Unless you are actively searching for news on stillbirth, you'll very rarely find it. While stillbirth takes the life of 1 out of every 115 babies in this country, autism affects 1 out of every 150 children. Why the disparity in the news?

Oh, right, I remember now. It's because stillbirth is about dead babies, and we don't want to talk about that. But if autism is an "epidemic," as I have read in some articles, why is stillbirth, which touches more lives, not?

You - we - can change this. There is currently a bill sitting in the House of Representatives, House Bill 5979, the Stillbirth Awareness and Research Act of 2008. By writing to our representatives, we could ensure that this bill is passed. Passage would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a national, standard definition of stillbirth and a standard protocol for stillbirth data collection and surveillance. This bill would also require the Secretary of the HHS to carry out a national campaign to increase public awareness and knowledge of stillbirth, much as the "Back to Sleep" campaign has done for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

We can save babies. We may not ever be able to save them all, but with research, we can certainly save some portion of those 26,000 we lose every year in the United States. No parent should go through the kind of heartbreak I have been through. No parent should spend the rest of her life wondering, 'What if?'

This day is set aside for remembering our little souls, who took a piece of us with them when they left us. Today, and every day, I remember Ben, and I remember Sam and Jack, Sophie, Henry, the twins, Dylan and Riley, and all the other babies who never came home.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Feeling Complainy

I think I need a vacation. Yes, I've already had one this year, a really lovely one with my sister, but fall is closing in and winter is looming and I hate winter. I'm tired, I'm discouraged, my husband is currently in India and the kids had no school today because of Rosh Hashanah. Mommy needs a break. And a really good massage - I hurt my shoulder a few months ago while I was weight lifting and it has never recovered. Picking my 3-year-old up all day long probably doesn't help. And I've had a nervous eyelid twitch in my right eye for months; it comes and goes but mostly stays.

I didn't want to complain here; I feel I should try to be inspiring or useful, but I'm just not today. And I feel guilty about not posting very often, but I just don't always know what to say. (This is a recurring problem in my marriage, too. What fun.)

More another day...anybody want to propose topics for me to write about?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Before and After

September 11, 2001, I had just put my 8-month-old daughter down for her morning nap at 9 a.m., and I entered my office to do some work. I turned on NPR, as I always did, and heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. I figured it must have been a small, private plane that had gotten in trouble, but decided to go downstairs and turn on the TV. There I saw a 2nd plane fly into the other WTC building; there I watched people jumping to their deaths; there I watched, on my hands and knees in front of the TV, crying and praying, the buildings fall down in a mass of ash and fire.

It took me days before I even realized that, as those buildings came down, people were dying inside. Days before I could allow myself to think it. My parents and my husband were supposed to board flights that day, flights that were cancelled. My daughter was scheduled to be baptized two weeks later, and my in-laws, who were to fly over from England, cancelled their flights because of September 11.

In the following days, the world was so quiet. No planes flew over my house; generally dozens did. There were no cars racing down my urban street; the neighborhood was unusually subdued. That's what I wanted after Ben, as well, for the world to stop and acknowledge he was gone.

At the time, I felt that this was most likely the defining moment of my life as an adult, the moment where everything changed for us in America, that we - none of us - would be the same ever again. This was the permanent "Before and After" for my generation, like Pearl Harbor was for an earlier generation.

And although I was stunned by the events of that day, I wasn't surprised. When I was in college, I travelled to England and Ireland, and that was when I "got" the fear of terrorism. This was during the time of the Irish Republican Army, and while travelling through the airport in Dublin, I saw members of the Irish military in their uniforms, with automatic weapons strapped to their bodies. I got it then, a little bit of what it is like to live with the threat of terrorism every day, which much of the world has been doing for generations. Later, I lived in England and commuted to London for work, and was always aware of the terrorist threat, had train service cancelled because of IRA threats and suspicious packages placed in underground stations. I knew, somehow, that something like this day was coming for us.

I remember boarding an airplane for the first time after September 11th, sobbing in my husband's arms as I thought of all those people on those planes, what they must have felt, how frightened they must have been, how innocent they were. I thought of the families left behind and prayed to God to help them find some peace. I remember standing in the Newark airport and seeing New York City on the horizon, with two buildings so obviously gone.

I was wrong, however, about this defining moment for me. September 11th was not the defining moment of my life. Ben's death was my defining moment, my own marker of a time Before, and a life After.

Today, I remember all of them - all those who lost their lives that day, and all the ones they left behind. I remember Ben, and I remember all the babies who, every day, don't come home. I remember that 7 years ago, in hospitals and homes across America and the world, babies died, grandparents died, moms and dads and siblings and aunts and uncles lost their lives, and their deaths have gotten lost in the horror of the terrorist attacks.

I remember you.

Fragile

If blood will flow when flesh and steel are one
Drying in the colour of the evening sun
Tomorrow's rain will wash the stains away
But something in our minds will always stay

Perhaps this final act was meant
To clinch a lifetime's argument
That nothing comes from violence
And nothing ever could
For all those born beneath an angry star
Lest we forget how fragile we are

On and on the rain will fall
Like tears from a star Like tears from a star
On and on the rain will say
How fragile we are How fragile we are

- Sting

Monday, September 8, 2008

Pink Rose Award

Monica, over at Hopeful Momma, very kindly gave me a Pink Rose Award, given "to those who inspire you or need to be inspired, to those who have encouraged you or those who need encouragement.” She sweetly said that I am one of the bloggers who encourages her, post babyloss, with my story of loss and my life-and baby-after Ben.


I can't figure out how to post the Pink Rose Award icon on the side of my blog - perhaps I'll figure it out soon. Or maybe someone can tell me how?

Anyway, thank you, Monica, for giving me this. I'm glad I have been of some help to you in your journey.

I hereby give this award to Jen, at The Comfy Place. She has inspired me as she battles cancer and raises her children - she is a remarkable human being. I also give this to C., who, after two devastating losses, is struggling to keep going.

****************************************************************************************

Here's what to do:
1. On your blog, copy and paste the award, these rules, a link back to the person who selected you, and a link to this post: http://smartone.typepad.com/smartone/2008/05/pink-is-my-favo.html. You will find the story behind the Pink Rose Award and other graphics to choose from there.
2. Select as many award recipients as you would like, link to their blogs (if they have one), and explain why you have chosen them.
3. Let them know that you have selected them for an award by commenting on one of their posts.
4. If you are selected, pass it on by giving the Pink Rose Award to others.
5. If you find that someone you want to nominate has already been selected by someone else, you can still honor them by posting a comment on their award post stating your reasons for wishing to grant them the award.
6. You do not have to wait until someone nominates you to nominate someone else.

Pink_rose_award_4

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Support Early Infant Death Research

First Candle is an organization devoted to making sure babies don't die. They do research and support work relating to stillbirth and SIDS. Over the summer I received a newsletter from them with the news that the website www.goodsearch.com allows users to search the web for free, and donates money to the charity of your choice for each search.

Here's the blurb from the First Candle newsletter: "GoodSearch.com is a new Yahoo!-powered search engine that donates half its advertising revenue, about a penny per search, to the charities its users designate. Use it just as you would any search engine, get quality search results from Yahoo! and watch the donations add up for First Candle!"

I say we give it all a try - anything to help.

Monday, August 11, 2008

This Is Not a Fairy Tale

It's a bit like a fairy tale, this story of mine. Not in the "happily ever after" sense, for we all know how my story ends. It's like the original tales, by the Brothers Grimm, where the stepsisters cut off their toes to try to make the shoe fit. Mine begins, 'Once upon a time...' just as all the modern tales do; 'Once upon a time, there was a happy couple with a beautiful daughter, a beautiful home, everything they could ever wish for, except a son. Then one day, the happy couple found out they were to have a son, their perfect family, and they had nothing left to wish for, for their happily ever after was about to come true.'

Except it didn't. And in the aftermath of death, we tried to sort out 'ever after.' For no matter how stark the real stories by Grimm, Cinderella still got her man; Rapunzel, after years of wandering, found her prince; and Hansel and Gretel escaped the witch, who burned to death. The bad met their just end; the righteous prevailed. And in my story, in your story, the righteous don't prevail, though we are left trying to learn how to live with it for the rest of our lives.

I was told by someone very wise, when I asked her how I live with this unimaginable sorrow for the rest of my life, that, one day, Ben's death would become a part of me, like my blue eyes are a part of me. Something I carry with me, always, in every moment. I clung to those words, waiting for the time when that would be true, as it is for me now. But anyone can look at me and see that I have blue eyes; only those I've told can look at me and see Ben's death etched across my face.

His death has become a part of who I am, as that wise woman said, though I wish that part of me wasn't so hard to share with those who don't know. What she didn't tell me - and perhaps what she herself did not know - was that the biggest part of me, my son's death, is the biggest secret I keep. There are no conversations that include, "I'm from Pennsylvania originally, I'm home with my kids right now, been married for 12 years, and have a dead son."

And I pretend I have the fairy tale, the happily ever after. I hide the biggest part of me from all but a select few and wonder how anyone could miss seeing the hollow emptiness I carry with me always.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Happy Birthday to my little guy


I've just read Monica's post over at Still Hopeful and am thinking yet again of what might be, and of what is. Yesterday was a year since she and her husband lost Jack, and I am reminded again of the sting of anniversaries. But today marks a happy anniversary for us, James's 3rd birthday. We were expecting him on the 5th, but despite the 6 a.m. induction, he chose not to appear until 12:57 on the morning of the 6th.

I expect I will always think, on this day, no matter how old the two of us get, that if Ben had not died, there would likely be no James. Physically, time-wise, it would have been possible to have them both, born 18 months apart. Had Ben lived, it is very likely we would have an infant now, a child under the age of 1.5. My naive plan to have three children, about three years apart, might have been complete. That dream might have come true.

Today, I can't imagine having three kids - well, no, I can imagine it, but I can't somehow comprehend what life would be like. I am faced with the terrible knowledge that, if Ben had lived, James wouldn't be with us. I can't imagine life with the one, but without the other. And I could never make that choice, if I had to, although I believe that if there were no other choice but to have Ben, stillborn, or not to have him at all, I would take him as I had him.

But today is not about Ben, though he is never far from my thoughts. Today is James's day, and I can't imagine my life without him. Every day I am amazed by how much I love him, how much he lights up my world. I think he came here to make us laugh, which we all need. At three, he loves big trucks, dinosaurs, and making loud noises. He tells me he loves me, gives great "squeeze hugs," and is generally a crazy little man growing up far too quickly. He loves preschool and wearing his "packback" and carrying his lunchbox. He adores Thomas the Tank Engine and his stuffed monkey. He also adores his big sister, who he calls "Diddy." He has changed my world for the better and he is the reason I smile every day.

Happy Birthday, Little Man. I love you, more than you will ever know.



Friday, July 25, 2008

Hanging Here in Space

That Christmas, before Ben died, my husband or daughter, I don't remember which one, gave me the Sacred Love CD by Sting. We listened to it that day, though not thoroughly enough for me to really hear the songs and learn the words. As it turned out, I didn't listen to it again before Ben died, and in the months that followed, I couldn't listen to any music at all.

About six months after his death, I started listening to music again, CDs that I thought would be safe, that wouldn't make me cry. And I pulled out Sacred Love in my car one day as I ran errands, cruising along in the sunshine of a late-spring day, though my thoughts were always, always, on Ben.

It's a post-9/11 album, both in release date and in content. Sting sings of war, love, memory. I wasn't expecting to find a song that would make me gasp for breath and have me sobbing halfway through, but one song, "Dead Man's Rope," nearly did me in that day, and on many days since. The lyrics took my breath away, felt just exactly right for where I was in my life: drifting, walking away from one thing and trying to walk into another, walking away from emptiness and devastation. I searched online to see just what Sting was thinking when he wrote the song, but found only a short commentary, that it is about a man trapped in a "well of memory", needing to deal with reality. I think it's a little more religious than that, at least for me, but I'll let you judge:

Dead Man's Rope
"A million footsteps, this left foot drags behind my right
But I keep walking, from daybreak, 'til the falling night
And as days turn into weeks and years
And years turn into lifetimes
I just keep walking, like I've been walking for a thousand years

Walk away in emptiness, walk away in sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,

If you're walking to escape, to escape from your affliction
You'd be walking in a great circle, a circle of addiction
Did you ever wonder what you'd been carrying since the world was black?
You see yourself in a looking glass with a tombstone on your back

Walk away in emptiness, walk away in sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,
Walk away in anger, walk away in pain
Walk away from life itself, walk into the rain

All this wandering has led me to this place
Inside the well of my memory, sweet rain of forgiveness
I'm just hanging here in space

Now I'm suspended between my darkest fears and dearest hope
Yes I've been walking, now I'm hanging from a dead man's rope
With Hell below me, and Heaven in the sky above
I've been walking, I've been walking away from Jesus' love

Walk away in emptiness, walk away in sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,
Walk away in anger, walk away in pain
Walk away from life itself, walk into the rain

All this wandering has led me to this place
Inside the well of my memory, sweet rain of forgiveness
I'm just hanging here in space

The shadows fall
Around my bed
When the hand of an angel,
The hand of an angel is reaching down above my head

All this wandering has led me to this place
Inside the well of my memory, sweet rain of forgiveness
Now I'm walking in his grace
I'm walking in his footsteps
Walking in his footsteps,
Walking in his footsteps

All the days of my life I will walk with you
All the days of my life I will talk with you
All the days of my life I will share with you
All the days of my life I will bear with you

Walk away from emptiness, walk away from sorrow,
Walk away from yesterday, walk away tomorrow,
Walk away from anger, walk away from pain
Walk away from anguish, walk into the rain."

I've been sitting here with my laptop trying to explain to you what this song meant to me, and I find I can't. It's tied too much to that time, it's too deep in my soul for me to make sense of to anyone else. But that emptiness, that sorrow, the notion of walking away from everything, but still being "led here to this place" - that's where I was, hanging in space. Waiting.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Days Like This

Ok, folks, bear with me. I'm going to whine. (I've been hearing so much whining from my daughter that it has rubbed off.)

I'm exhausted. Not sleeping well - too hot, too stressed out, too much on my 'to-do' list worrying me. Summer has officially become too long this week; my kids are between camps and lessons and the constant requests for something to do, to phone a friend, the 'I'm-boreds,' the 'why-won't you-let-me's,' the, 'this-is-the-worst-day-of-my-life' screaming fits . . . well, I've had enough. I feel totally unappreciated and unacknowledged. Parenting is the best thing I have ever done and the hardest thing I've ever done. No one tells you that, while you're raising your kids, they won't appreciate you, they won't say 'thank you' unless reminded 18 times, they will demand as much of you as they can get and they won't respect the fact that you are exhausted, have a need for time to yourself, or are trying to make dinner/pay bills/clean/have a conversation on the phone . . . .

What's in order for me right now is a good massage, a pedicure, and a big, big margarita. (And none of those things are going to happen, especially not the margarita as it is currently 10:30 in the morning.) I am feeling sorry for myself, but I'll get over it. Thanks for indulging me.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Half Sick of Shadows*

"You don't smile enough," he said. "You never did."

I smile less now than before. So does he. Last summer we went to see The Police in concert, and when Sting came out on the stage, I started jumping up and down and screaming like a teenage girl. (I heart Sting.) He turned to me then and said, "I haven't seen you smile like that in...I don't know when." And it was true, and his words pricked at the dead place in my heart, that lump of ash that sits in the center of my chest.

And a few weeks ago, on a rare night when I smiled, when we laughed the way we used to, he said those words to me. I told him how, a few months ago, I found myself laughing at something, I can't recall what, but I was laughing one of those deep belly laughs that make your stomach muscles hurt and the tears flow from your eyes. And I realized, I hadn't laughed that way in years. Four, to be exact.

I've always been serious. Many times I was told, when I was younger, that I was older than my years. And I was. I am prone to depression - with the diagnosis and medication to prove it - so a sunny disposition has never really been my thing.

I've lost my joy, what little of it I ever had. And I'm tired of not experiencing joy. Life is too short. Stop yourself and say those words out loud, slowly (yes, you. Now). Life is too short. It's more than just a cliche, it's true. I want to find joy again, and I am declaring to you now that I am going to find it. There are too many shadows, and it's time to sweep them away. I will not live out the rest of my life like this.

* "'I am half-sick of shadows,' said the Lady of Shallott," from the poem The Lady of Shallot by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Inverted

My husband and I were talking last night; we have both been feeling down recently; he is still working out his grief for Ben - he's had so much trouble grieving, and I haven't known how to help him. At times I haven't tried very hard to help him, either.

Last night he said, "I feel like our lives are inverted." I asked him what he meant, and he said, "It's supposed to be happiness interspersed with moments of sadness, but it's really sadness interspersed with moments of happiness."

Is that how it is from now on? After four years, we really still don't know.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

What Do You Want to be Remembered For?

Yesterday evening, while standing at my kitchen sink washing dishes, my son called out to me from the living room, "Mommy? Pway?"

"In a minute, honey," I replied. "Let me finish these dishes."

"Minute?"

"Yes, honey, minute."

***

My husband and daughter were out on a bike ride and I was trying to finish up those few little chores before bedtime, always multi-tasking, always hoping to do just one more thing. I haven't really been mentally present with my family recently, wrapped up in this book I am writing, and, this week, with more sad news from home. Two wonderful parents were on their way home from their daughter's college graduation, with their daughter and all her stuff in the car, when they were struck by a large truck, which had swerved to avoid a minivan that had, apparently, run a red light. The parents died instantly; their daughter, a beautiful, intelligent, caring and giving 21-year-old, is in critical condition in the hospital. She has endured 6 hours of brain surgery and has multiple broken bones and internal injuries and is currently in a coma.

This is what I was thinking about when I was doing the dishes last night, along with the rest of my to-do list, and how I couldn't wait until the children were in bed. With my hands deep in the warm, soapy water, my son called out to me, again, "Mommy? Minute over?"

***

I'd been following the story of the crash online and knew that this young woman's mother was a teacher. I remembered her, and her sunny, positive outlook on life. She'd had trouble getting pregnant and had her first child at 33, her second at 37. Warm, funny, energetic, she touched so many lives through her teaching, because she took the time to listen to her students, to bring out the best in them. One assignment she made her 8th graders do every spring was to write a letter to their future selves, stating what they want to be remembered for, who they want to be. Four years later, on their graduation day, she would deliver those letters from their past selves to remind them of what they had hoped for in their lives.

***

And who do I want to be, I asked myself as my son said, yet again, "Mommy pway?" Do I want to be remembered for being thin (which I am not), for having a good wardrobe, for having a tidy house? For always having my dishes done, nary a weed in my garden, for the things I own?

No. I want to be remembered as a great mom, a caring person, someone who made the world a little better after she left it.

***

I put my sponge down, dried my hands, and said, "James, what do you want to play?"

***

None of us is promised a long life. None of us is promised tomorrow.

***

Who do you want to be?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pregnancy after Baby Loss

If you've been reading Glow in the Woods, you'll know that bon just put up a post on being pregnant after a loss. (Glow in the Woods is a new blogging community of several babyloss mamas; it's terrific, {as if anything about babyloss could be terrific, but these women are so articulate and write so beautifully}, so head on over and say hello.)

Her post has given me so much food for thought; she is 20 weeks pregnant and fearful, hopeful, terrified. She is on bedrest and....managing? Yes, managing as well as any babyloss mama can. Bon asks the question how we feel about pregnancy now, and oh, I have so many mixed feelings. So much to say.

I want to be pregnant again. Sort of. But not really. I want a baby. I am also mourning the loss of that possibility in my life, although it is, still, physically possible, but emotionally, I am not so sure. I am rapidly approaching the end of my "safe" reproductive life - I am well into "advanced maternal age" and while there's no reason I couldn't have a baby again, it is very unlikely I will. I am both jealous of those who are pregnant and holding new babies, and frightened for those whose bellies I see protruding. I know I am a harbinger of death for those among my group of acquaintances who get pregnant; I see the spark of fear in their eyes, the slight distance they put between us, for I have shattered their innocence by losing my son.

Bon talks about "owning the elephant" in the room...I love that phrase. I'm not sure I own the elephant; perhaps it is easier now to pretend I'm not the elephant in the room of a group of mothers and hopeful mothers. But I still feel it, that distance, that experience that sets me apart from all the rest. It holds me back from becoming friends with the lovely women I meet at storytime with my 2.5-year-old; those women who are showing up pregnant at the library, at James's gym time, in the neighborhood. It keeps me from becoming friends with the moms at Charlotte's school, whether they are done having children or still expanding their families. It keeps me from feeling like I am truly being myself with nearly everyone, and I hate feeling that way. Part of me has closed off permanently to others, even to myself. I don't know what to do with the dead baby part of my life, so it just sits there, quietly waiting.

It is so hard to see other women pregnant, and I suspect it always will be. I met a woman shortly after Ben died - I knew her only slightly before then - she lost a baby some 30 years ago. He seemed fine when he was born, but died unexpectedly sometime in the first 24 hours of his life. She told me a little about her experience, and mentioned that the daughter of a friend of hers was pregnant, and how terrifying that was for her. That is where I am now, and permanently.

I see younger mothers at my son's preschool, who are expecting, and I feel...I hate to say this, it seems so awful...disdain. Perhaps it is because they are driving in their SUVs, with enormous diamonds on their fingers, designer clothes, manicured nails...which is not my thing...but their personas shriek entitlement, and perfection. And they barely see me, a late-30s, average mom, with perhaps 10 pounds to lose, fairly attractive, wearing reasonably-priced clothes, who doesn't believe in ostentation, who doesn't play tennis or go to a gym to work out with a trainer, who doesn't run with cliques and never has.

I alternately hate those mothers and feel sorry for them. Mostly I hate them. Because they are pregnant, and they are blissfully unaware as they drive off in their Audis and Suburbans that anything can go wrong. And if they knew my story, if I told them, I know they would look at me in horror and never speak to me again. And of course I wouldn't tell them, could never tell a pregnant woman who did not know me "before," what it is that makes me who I am "after." I'm sorry for them because I feel they don't live in the real world, which makes me a snob of a different sort from them.

Ultimately, here's how I feel about pregnant women: after Ben died, I thought no one should get pregnant ever again. It hurt too much to hear about, hurt too much to see, made me feel so frightened. I can't shake that. I fear for any pregnant woman I see and only wish I could be happy for them. That I will carry for the rest of my life.

Strangely, last night I dreamt I went to my OB for my annual check-up, and we talked about me having another baby. I don't remember what we said, only that I hoped it wasn't too late for me, even though I didn't think it would happen again for me. I am conflicted; I both want to be pregnant again, one last time, and I know that, emotionally, I can't do it again. If it were to happen, of course I would, but deliberately? I don't see how I could.

I know how much there is to lose.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What Do You Do For Mother's Day?

The first Mother's Day after Ben died, I remember someone telling me, well, at least you are a mom. And yes, I was. I've never had to deal with Mother's Day with one dead child and no living children. I'm pretty sure that would be akin to one of Dante's levels of hell. And that day was hard; my husband had been away on business (out of the country, no less) for two weeks, and was traveling home on Mother's Day. My daughter had been particularly sweet that weekend - she seemed to understand that I needed a little extra love that year. I held it together by mostly not thinking about it until people started to call me and see how I was doing.

The second Mother's Day after Ben died, I realized that this was it - no matter how many years went by, two, 10, 33, 50 - no one was going to phone me up to ask how I was doing anymore. But I was going to remember that one of us was missing, one of us was not here to give me hugs and kisses, handmade cards, or breakfast in bed. That's it - you get the first year, and then you're done. Or, that is, the rest of the world is done. I'll still miss him in 20 years, and think of him on Mother's Day. Will anyone else, besides my husband?

And for those of you who are reading this, who are missing your babies, whether you have living children or not - I am so, so sorry for your pain. You are mothers, not the way you should be, not the way you want to be - and I honor you, and your children, this Sunday, and always.

One thing I will do this weekend to honor Ben is go to this website and light a candle. For every virtual candle lit in honor of a baby who never made it home, the website Memory-of.com will donate $1 to First Candle, the support organization for parents who have lost children. First Candle's mission is to make sure every baby makes it to their first birthday healthily and happily. You can light a candle any time in the month of May. Memory-of.com is also donating $1 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure for every candle lit here in memory of a mother, grandmother or godmother who has died. I will also light a candle for Elizabeth, who I am missing terribly right now.

Hugs to all of you missing your babies.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

On An Entirely Different Note

Niobe has news, of the very best kind. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers for 36 weeks of nothing but good news.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Oh, hey there. Hi. I'm still here.

I've been having that "fallen off the face of the earth" feeling lately, though I couldn't tell you why. Blog? What blog? Oh yes, the one about the dead baby. How uplifting, how perfectly springlike and warm and sunshine and flowers. Um, yeah. I've been thinking a lot about all of the friends from home dying, 3 women, 3 weeks in a row, all from cancer. One of them I didn't even know, but I grew up playing with her husband. She was 37, and now there are three little boys without a mom. And I feel for them so much, those boys, and my friend I haven't seen since I was 18 or 19 or 20, who used to play tag in my parent's backyard, who is a widower now, and has to grieve for his wife while trying to be okay enough to raise his sons on his own. And my heart aches for him, and for his wife who never intended to leave them, but who had no choice in the matter.

There's another young mother I've been thinking of, in Australia, whose blog I came upon through this one. Jen is a 39-year-old mother of two who is dying. She is fighting with all her might but preparing as well for the end. She has cancer of the bowel and has been told she has anywhere from 7 months to 3 years. If you want to be inspired, this woman will do it. She is courageous and beautiful and accepting of what she's been given, though not yet ready to give up. Some of her internet friends are holding an auction to raise money to help Jen pay for some of the medical care she needs that insurance will not cover and to set up a trust fund for her son. Jen's blog can be found here; the link to the auction on ebay, which will run until May 1st, can be found here. Visit one, or both, and send Jen good thoughts for whatever time she has left in this journey.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Spring has Sprung

I've had a wee bit of a blogging break - recovering from my surgery, my daughter's spring break, time away at a waterpark, the colds we have caught. My daughter is home from school today with a bad cold and I woke up with a headache. I can't say I feel like taking care of children today, but that's what moms do, so I will.

Spring has arrived here, although it was 31 degrees this morning. My daffodils are blooming and the tulips have popped up. I am more than ready for spring and for good things to happen. My legs are nearly healed up; all those pretty rainbow bruise colors are nearly gone, though I am still sore, but they look much better already.

There has been lots of bad news from my hometown in the last few weeks. The sister of a friend of mine died of breast cancer two weeks ago, at the age of 51; another friend of the family died of breast cancer last week at the age of 53. Both women fought long and hard, and both were still so young. The wife of another childhood friend is dying from a fast-growing brain tumor, leaving behind three sons, ages 11, 9, and 6. She's 37. Sometimes life is just so incomprehensible, and you carry on doing the laundry, changing diapers, making meals, while around you things keep falling apart. What else can you do, but carry on, hug your babies, hug your spouse, bring in some daffodils to put in a vase, remember to live now, right where you are.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Bear With Me

I am rearranging my blog...I know it isn't perfect yet, but please stay tuned!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ouch

So, I had a minor operation yesterday and today I am in pain. I have (no, make that had) lovely varicose veins on both my legs, thanks in part to heredity and in part to three babies. "I have the legs of an 80-year-old!" I joked with my husband. They were BAD. Even the doctor was a bit stunned by my veins. Yesterday I had them removed, some were stripped (the really big ones) and some were heated up and made to collapse. I won't get into the details, not everyone may appreciate them.

They put me under general anesthesia, which I can't say I really like; it freaks me out to think about before and after, though not knowing what's going on is good! They also intubated me, and I still have the taste of it in my mouth, not to mention a slightly sore and ouchy throat. My legs are wrapped up right now, and I can take off the bandages tomorrow and have a shower (hallelujah!). But I am really hurting right now, and walking like a 95-year-old. But I do have the good painkillers, which also help you sleep.

My parents came out to help with the kids, and bring tons of food (my mom is always great with the food), so I am relaxing on the sofa with books and the internet and lots of assistance. It's nice to be waited on for a change.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

To Whom It May Concern

A Letter to Anyone Who Thinks I should Be "Over It":

Two babies were born today, one boy, one girl. One was a third and final child, another was the first. Both healthy, both wanted, both loved. I have known about their coming for months, known that today would be the day of their births for the last week. My heart should be filled with joy for their parents, you think? Oh, it would be, if it were capable. What my heart feels now is both sorrow and fury. Irrational? Perhaps. A byproduct of a rough day with my third child, the one I had because I don't have Ben? Maybe. And that exhaustion that I feel? Is it more emotional or physical? At the moment, I just don't know.

You think I should be "over it," you think I should be fine by now. Here's some news you need to pay attention to: I will never be over it. The birth of these two babies today only reinforces that tiny and unfortunate fact. I am so very grateful that these babies arrived safely, that they are healthy and well, but I want to know, why didn't I get that too? Yes, I have two wonderful children who were delivered safe and sound, but there was that other one, the one you never met, the one you didn't want photographs of, the one whose name you never mention. I want him still.

My heart has broken into more pieces than you could count, these last four years. You think I'm ok, but I still grieve. I want one more chance - I tell myself I want another chance to have another baby, and yes, sometimes that's true - but I really want one more chance to get it right with Ben. There are things in life you've lost, you tell me - and that may be true. But have you lost a child? Can you begin to fathom what that means? The lost dreams, the shattering of the life you knew and planned on, the fear and grief you live with permanently. Have you been there?

There won't be any more chances for me. There will be no more babies. And don't think I've accepted that, that it's all ok. Because it's not. I would jump at the opportunity for one more chance, but it isn't going to come. You tell me I should be grateful for the two children I have, and I want to spit your words back into your face - you have no idea how grateful I am, how lucky I know I am, for all three of my children. So don' t tell me you don't understand why I feel this way, that I should ignore my feelings, that I should just be happy. Until you have stood in my place, you have no right to tell me how to feel.

And just in case it wasn't clear the first time, let me repeat myself:

I will never be over it.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

No Answers

Emily Dickinson wrote in one of her poems something along the lines of "Because I could not stop for death, it kindly stopped for me" and I think of those words while I also think of the poem I put up in my last post. The inequity of death, the inevitability of it, the fact that because I have given my children life I've also given them death, just as my mother did for me, and her mother before her. I've given birth to death quite literally, with the birth of Ben, as have many of you who read this blog. I am still trying to fathom it, four years on: giving birth to one already dead. Or delivering one already dead - a semantic difference I hate, for officially it isn't birth when your child has died in utero - and there are no birth certificates, no apt words to describe what it is a mother does when she has to bring forth her dead child into the world.

And I wonder what happens when we die; where do our souls go, if there is any such thing at all? Some days I believe in god and heaven, some days I don't. Some days I think that there is nothing out there and it terrifies me, then other days I think, no, that can't be so. Where is Ben now? And I don't know, other than in my heart. But is that all we get? That he lives on in my heart, and I will never get to know him in any other kind of lifetime? Perhaps it is.

I think as well that the universe owes me the safety and comfort of knowing my two living children will live on to ripe old ages, outlast me by years, but no one is given even that, no matter how much we may beg the gods that be. I remember, months after Ben died, kneeling by the side of my daughter's bed, sobbing, snot running down my face, pleading with god to not let anything happen to her, to keep her safe. Like the mother in the poem I think of all the things that could happen, but I know I need to let my children go - and let go, and let go. All my life, I will need to let them go.

Poetry for Moms

Moreena, a mom to two girls, one of whom has had two liver transplants in the first 5 years of her life (may be slightly incorrect in the time frame, but not by much) posted this poem by Marilyn Nelson yesterday, and wow. And yes. And help me, someone, keep my babies safe.

Mama's Promise

I have no answer to the blank inequity
of a four-year-old dying of cancer.
I saw her on TV and wept
with my mouth full of meatloaf.

I constantly flash on disasters now;
red lights shout Warning. Danger. everywhere I look.

I buckle him in, but what if a car
with a grille like a sharkbite
roared up out of the road?

I feed him square meals,
but what if the fist of his heart
should simply fall open?

I carried him safely
as long as I could,
but now he's a runaway
on the dangerous highway.

Warning. Danger.
I've started to pray.

But the dangerous highway
curves through blue evenings
when I hold his yielding hand
and snip his minuscule nails
with my vicious-looking scissors.

I carry him around
like an egg in a spoon,
and I remember a porcelain fawn,
a best friend's trust,
my broken faith in myself.

It's not my grace that keeps me erect
as the sidewalk clatters downhill
under my rollerskate wheels.

Sometimes I lie awake
troubled by this thought:
It's not so simple to give a child birth;
you also have to give it death,
the jealous fairy's christening gift.

I've always pictured my own death
as a closed door,
a black room,
a breathless leap from the mountaintop
with time to throw out my arms, lift my head,
and see, in the instant my heart stops,
a whole galaxy of blue.

I imagined I'd forget,
in the cessation of feeling,
while the guilt of my lifetime floated away
like a nylon nightgown,
and that I'd fall into clean, fresh forgiveness.

Ah, but the death I've given away
is more mine than the one I've kept:
from my hands the poisoned apple,
from my bow the mistletoe dart.

Then I think of Mama,
her bountiful breasts.
When I was a child, I really swear,
Mama's kisses could heal.
I remember her promise,
and whisper it over my sweet son's sleep:

When you float to the bottom, child,
like a mote down a sunbeam,
you'll see me from a trillion miles away:

my eyes looking up to you,

my arms outstretched for you like night.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Here's the Truth

So, from my last post, in which I got the idea of the meme slightly wrong (I told two lies, rather than two truths), here's the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but:

1. Yes, my husband proposed 6 weeks after we met. We knew on our second date that this was "it."

2. Yes, I have been married twice (kind of) - but to the same man. We got married in England, where we met and where he is from, and got married in the chapel of his college at Cambridge University. In England, however, you can only be "officially" married in a registered building, which the chapel was not, so we held the official marriage in a registry office (like a justice of the peace) the day before, and held the religious ceremony the next day.

3. True. I wanted to be a Rockette (I loved watching them do kick lines) but I can't dance. I also wanted to be a jockey but realized, at the age of 7, that I had to stop growing immediately. (I'm kind of tall.)

4. True. Hey, I've got two degrees in English, what did you expect?

5. Nope. I love dogs. My daughter, however, is terrified of them and I have no idea why. I think it's genetic - no one in my husband's family likes dogs.

6. False. Can't stand the things. Told my parents when I was 8 years old I was not going to marry a man who liked lima beans. And I didn't.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Tagged

I've been tagged by Monica to do a meme. Now, I'm a bit unclear what exactly "meme" means, but I get the object of the thing: tell 6 things about myself, only four of which are true. Here goes:

1. My husband and I dated for only 6 weeks before we got engaged.

2. I've been married twice.

3. When I was little I wanted to be either a Rockette or a jockey.

4. I've read every word of both War and Peace and Les Miserables (unabridged versions).

5. I'm afraid of dogs.

6. I really, really love lima beans.

Edited to Add: You, my dear readers, are supposed to guess which are true and which are false. Have at it! And I am also supposed to tag people, I think...can I get back to you on that one?

Edited Again to Add: I didn't read the directions very carefully; 4 things were supposed to be false, 2 true. I did it the other way - 4 things here are true and 2 are false. Can you tell it's been a long week full of sickness and snow?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Things I've Learned Along the Way

It's Wednesday, it's snowy and cold, and I'm feeling a little random...so here are some random thoughts I've learned from my life so far:

1) Never eat half a package of cherry JuJu hearts in one day. Don't ask why, just trust me.
2) There's nothing like a "queeze ug" (squeeze hug) from a 2.5-year-old to make anything better.
3) No matter how many times you tell a 7-year-old to hurry up because we're going to be late for school, it is physically impossible to make her go any faster.
4) 23 degrees Fahrenheit (with snow) is not that cold when two days ago the wind chill was about 10 below zero. It's downright balmy.
5) Even though the school newsletter clearly states each week that the deadline for submissions is 3:15p.m. on Tuesday, there will be 4 new submissions waiting in your inbox Wednesday morning and one on Thursday morning, the day it goes to print.
6) Before children, you could never imagine going out to an informal meeting in the same shirt your child has just peed on. After children, it's no big deal.
7) Brownies make a bad day good. Brownies and ice cream make a bad day downright fantastic.
8) Eating half a pan of brownies, however, will make you feel good for only 5 minutes and fat and sick for an entire day.
9) Having children guarantees that you will be late for every appointment, drop-off, and function 98.3% of the time.
10) I don't actually need more time in my day, I need less to do.

What random things has your life taught you so far?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Three Days at Home

Ok, so the title of my post reminds me of the song by Sheryl Crow with the lines "Three Days in Rome." Ah, if only.

Today is my third day trapped in my house with my children while my husband is out and about interacting with other adults. Charlotte has been home from school for the past two days; took her to the doctor yesterday and she has strep throat. So today she is still contagious and not going to her class at Little Gym, and I've cancelled the babysitter who was to stay with James while I had an hour or two to myself. No need to spread the germs around. My husband is out all day at a workshop, and I am going a little stir crazy. Not to mention the massive headache as yet untouched by the aspirin I took an hour ago.

Bleh. I'm complaining. Anyway...next Friday James starts preschool. We were supposed to go yesterday for him to meet teachers and fellow students and just get used to the place, but we went to the doctor instead. So we will try again on Monday, and then on Friday - 4 hours of preschool. FOUR WHOLE HOURS!! I alternately can't wait and then get all tearful and sad because, come on, my BABY. Is going to preschool. And how did this happen? If I ask him if he's a baby, James says, "No baby." He is so adorable right now and I wish I could keep him right here for a few years, in this in-betweenness of baby and preschooler, when he adores his mama and is still willing to hug and kiss me and be seen in public with me. My girl turned 7 a few weeks ago and is, like, getting, y'know, embarrassed by me sometimes. (Gawd! I'm the mother of a 7 year old!)

My James is calling for me to play Legos with him, so I will go build a monument to boys. How can I ignore a sweet voice saying, "Mommy pway!"

Monday, January 28, 2008

A Tiny Part of Me

Yep, I'm still here. I haven't known what to say this month; I've been tired, cranky, sick of the very cold semi-Midwestern weather. And oh, the snow. I'm really not a cold-weather person. January is just not my month, for a number of reasons, the most obvious being Ben. The weather does, however, mirror a lot of what I felt (and feel) about that loss. I remember in the months after he died, when spring began to push its way through the snow and cold, and I wanted so desperately to stay in January because that bleakness, the gray skies, the cold - the deadness, really - were what I felt inside. So in some ways January suits me, gives me a chance to mope and mourn. A tiny part of me is forever stuck in January; I envision a little corner of my heart figuratively chipped off and left behind in that January, or perhaps left in the hospital and taken off to be cremated with Ben.

I find myself walking around, telling myself, "We're going to have a baby." (I have never told anyone that, not even my husband.) I told myself that through all of my pregnancies, I suppose to try to make myself believe it, and I can't seem to stop saying it. I am most definitely NOT pregnant; though it could certainly happen unexpectedly, it isn't anything we're planning. We're done. But I'm having a really hard time coming to terms (no pun intended) with that. My dreams for a family with three children came true, but not in the way I planned. And I am rapidly approaching the age where the statistics get really bad for safe and healthy pregnancies. In short, I'm getting old, and no more babies means I really have to face that. Perhaps that sounds shallow, I don't know. I can't believe it's over for me; I can't believe those babymaking years went so fast; I can't believe one of my children died.

Maybe I would be more comfortable with the end of my babymaking years if Ben had lived and we'd gone on to have child number three. I'm incomplete this way. Subconsciously, still being able to have babies ties me to Ben; the passage of time for me takes me further away from the time I had with him, and reminds me that I get the time he did not have. But I can't keep myself in those moments I had with him (and believe me, I've tried to not move on). I guess I'm still working on acceptance, of a lot of different things.

*Thanks, Monica, for checking in.*

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

A Loss, but Not My Own

My cyber-friend Christy had a miscarriage on January 4th. She is the mom of Elias, who was a micro-preemie, barely 2 pounds at birth, who is now a beautiful 3-year-old with numerous physical challenges. Christy has two uteri (yes, plural of "uterus" - sounds weird, doesn't it?) and knew this pregnancy would probably require bed rest and many precautions. But she didn't lose the baby because of any physical or medical problems, she lost the baby just because miscarriage happens to about every 1 in 4 women, just one of those statistical anomalies that happen.

Which doesn't make the loss a damn bit easier.