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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Six Years On

I never dream of him, though I have always wanted to. I've wanted a chance to see him, because I can't picture how he would look real, here. I've had dreams about people I have lost, dreams in which I've been granted the chance to say goodbye. Other dreams have ended when I wake up, bewildered, because in my dream the person I love has really been alive all these years, and I've been lied to about their death.

Why can't I dream of him? Would it give me any comfort if I did?

* * *


Six years ago I sat in a different house from the one I sit in today, across town, disbelieving. "I'm sorry, he's gone," the doctor told me that morning, and my life fell apart.

* * *


Last week I sat in the candlelight at a Christmas service for people who have a hard time at the holidays, in the very same chapel where we gathered to say goodbye to Ben six years ago. I felt him there. I always do. I almost never feel him with me anywhere else. And I talked to him.

Where are you, little one?

I'm here, mama, I'm here.

Where?

Right here, he said, and I felt a flutter in my heart.

I'm always here.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Death's Dark Shadows

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel...

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death's dark shadows put to flight
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel


It's little wonder to me now, how my favorite Christmas hymns and carols have always been the gloomier ones, the ones that speak not of "the most wonderful time of the year" but of "I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams," and "From now on, our troubles will be out of sight." The melancholy songs. Which is how I feel today. Melancholy. Six years without Ben for Christmas.

What does it mean, "death's dark shadows put to flight?" I know, Christ come to save the world, promising reunion in heaven for the righteous, but here, now, I want to scoff at those lyrics. Because God didn't save my son. Even though I don't believe that's what God does.

I just miss him. That's all.

Six years ago, right now, he was alive. And six years ago, in 7 days, he was gone.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shadows

I just read a post over at Moments of Pause, about missing children, shadows, photos notable for an absence known and seen by a very few.

Fuzzy, indistinct outlines of what might have been. I have wanted a shadow to appear in my family photographs since Ben died, to represent who should be there. An outline of what's missing, for all the world to know.

That's not how it works, is it? The whole world doesn't want to know what we have lost, and I can't say I blame them. I understand. I wouldn't have wanted to know either, if I hadn't lost a child of my own. And some days, even now, I don't want to know of other people's pain, because my heart is full from so many stories, so many losses, so much grief at what I almost had.

It feels, some days, that I have already had a lifetime to get used to being without Ben, though it is closing in on six years. Six years is forever, and no time at all. I think of my friend, the one I told you about in my last post, in her second month without her boy, only beginning to learn what life means now without him. Her daughter is in kindergarten, and the last time we met she told me how, since meeting me, she thinks of Ben every day when she drops her daughter off at school, sends her into the very same classroom where I expect Ben would have started his elementary school education. Knowing that, if things had gone differently, Ben would be playing with her child. She thinks of him while her daughter plays on the playground after school, thinks of the two of them running around together. She thinks of the shadow in my life, knowing she has only begun a lifetime of remembering her own.

She's given me a gift, I think, by remembering what is lost. Seeing the outline, the shadow, of what will never be.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

When Did You Know You Would Survive?

Last month, one of my neighbors phoned me up to tell me that a woman on our block, E., just around the corner, had suffered a stillbirth. She, her husband and daughter moved here in June, and most of us hadn't yet met her. My friend was phoning to see if I could help in any way, as E. and her husband are not from the States and have no extended family here.

We've met a few times, this mother and I. And talked, and talked, and talked. Like me, E. was surprised by how little information there is about surviving bottomless sorrow. Where are the books, the first-person accounts, where is it written down somewhere that you will, you can survive? I bought her two books, the one by Elizabeth McCracken, An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination, and Empty Cradle, Broken Heart, by Deborah Davis. She's read the first one and is working on the second. E. has asked me to give her the answer to the same question I had after we lost Ben, a question unanswered in most of the babyloss books: how does she survive?

And what can I tell her? Words are inadequate. There is no map or blueprint, though I remember being at the same stage she is in now, wanting directions, something to follow, something to do with my time now that there was no baby occupying me. Steps to take to make it through.

There are none.

And I wonder when I knew I would survive. I can't pinpoint it, really. It wasn't after I got pregnant again, not after James was born, not after my marriage nearly fell apart two years later. It's gradual, and agonizingly slow. I've been able to tell her she will survive, but it will take a long time, it will always hurt. I've told her that she needs to get through the first year, observe the holidays and anniversaries, before she can come to terms with what her son's death means for the rest of her life. I've told her she can only get up each day and do the best she can.

What I've told her is not enough, but it is the best I can do: "You will survive. I promise you. But it's going to hurt like hell."

When did you know you would survive? Was it a moment, a particular day, or is it still a work in progress? What would you say to someone in these all too familiar shoes?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

For Jenni

Warm summer sun, shine kindly here.
Warm southern wind, blow softly here.
Green sod above, lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear Heart, Good night, good night.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pregnancy Loss Questionnaire

I came across this site, BeyondPregnancyLoss.com, via Twitter recently and thought I would share it. The site is maintained by an Australian woman, Helen Abbott, who suffered a loss of her own several years ago. Currently, she is researching a book on pregnancy loss and is asking people to fill out a questionnaire about their loss to aid in her writing. Go check it out and consider lending her a hand.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Long Time, No Post

Well, here I am again...things have been slightly insane in the land of broken hearts the past two months, but I am enjoying some (much needed) quiet relaxation time with my family over the Thanksgiving break. I'll be heading back to life as usual far too soon but I think the worst of the busy-ness is over for me and I'll be back to posting regularly from here on out. (Let's keep those fingers crossed, shall we?)

I was interviewed for an article on stillbirth for Pregnancy Today a month or two ago; you can find the link here if you'd like to read it.

I hope all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving had a day full of gratitude and peace.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Current Obsession

I don't know how to embed a video in my blog, so you'll have to click on the YouTube link. I just discovered this amazing singer, Ashley Chambliss. This particular video is just a still picture as I couldn't find any good videos to share of the song. And it is a gorgeous song. I wish I could play the piano like that.

Listen. I think you'll like it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Statistic Worth Repeating

Yes, I'm still on a blog break - but came across a video on Joanne Cacciatore's blog this morning, with a statistic worth repeating:

Approximately 120,000 children die in the US every year.

Around 80% of them will die before their first birthday.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Taking a Break

Hello everybody - just checking in to say I'm going to take a bit of a break from my blog for a while. I have a little too much on my plate, despite my best efforts to scale back (always, always trying to scale back). I'll return in....well, no more than a month.

At which point I hope I still have readers.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Theologian's View on God

Earlier today I was reading Joanne Cacciatore's blog, and she referenced a theologian interviewed on NPR by Terry Gross some time ago. Rev. Forrest Church discussed his battle with cancer, which he knew would be fatal, and his belief in God. His words resonated with me as I keep trying to discern for myself what it is I believe about God and why Ben died. They even validated some of what I feel about God and my own belief that my son did not die for a reason, or because God deemed it would be so.

Here is some of his dialogue with Terry Gross:


GROSS: You know, you write in your book, you know, again, about how you don't believe in an interventionist God, and you say, once you start praying to God to cure your cancer or asking God why he didn't answer you prayers, the questions never stop. And then you refer to, like, a bishop who said his faith was shaken by the tsunami.

Rev. CHURCH: Yes.

GROSS: And then you say, you don't like it when people say about a tragedy or about, you know, an illness or death, well, God has his reasons. It's just part of God's plan.

Rev. CHURCH: This is God's plan.

GROSS: What do you object to about that? Why isn't that the...

Rev. CHURCH: Well, I can see how it can give comfort. But God doesn't throw a three-year-old child out of a third story window or allow a drunken driver to kill a family crossing the street. This is not part of God's plan. These are the accidents of life and death. And if God, for instance, is responsible for a tsunami, that obliterates the lives of a hundred thousand people and leaves their families in tatters, then God's a bastard.

I cannot believe in such a God. For me, God is the life force, that which is greater than all and yet present in each. But God is not micromanaging this world. That is a presumption that we are naturally drawn to because of our sense of centrality and self importance, but there are 1,500 stars for every living human being. And the God that I believe in is an absolute magnificent mystery....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pretty Pictures

I needed something pretty to look at today, and a bit of cheering up, so here are some pretty photos of Venice. I am wishing I were there.






Friday, September 18, 2009

Awkward Family Story: The Thanksgiving Letter

Because I could use a laugh, and this made me laugh until I cried. A little comic relief is a good thing.



Awkward Family Story: The Thanksgiving Letter

Posted using ShareThis

Monday, September 14, 2009

What I Don't Want To Do

What I don't want to do tomorrow is go to a card store to pick out a sympathy card for the parents of a young man who died yesterday in a motorcycle accident. I don't want to purchase a card to send to his grandparents, either. I don't want to think about his mother and what she was like as a teenager--full of life, always smiling--and how she feels tonight. I don't want to think about his family, spending the rest of their lives missing him, wondering what might have been.

What I don't want to do is spend the rest of my life afraid that I will lose another child. I don't want to know that, far more often than anyone cares to think, children die. I don't want to know some of what those parents are feeling. I don't want to be part of a world where tragedies occur every minute of every day.

What I don't want is to be this sad.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Out of Words

After this, I don't know what to say, except how very, very sorry I am.

But sorry doesn't even begin to cover it.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Loneliest Number

They say one is the loneliest number, and so often in this land of grief, the solitary loneliness rears its ugly head. Over the last week, as I thought about the first day of kindergarten, I was reminded how alone I sometimes am. In bed on Wednesday night, my husband asked me what was wrong. I tried so hard not to tell him, didn't want to be upset, even though I'd just been crying in the bathroom.

"Ben would have started kindergarten tomorrow," I told him, and started to cry.

He didn't know what to say. I don't blame him for that; I understand that we are not the same. It is my job to get the children to school, to pack the lunches, sort the clothes, take them to the doctor. They are on my mind every moment of every day; no matter what I am doing, they are part of me. I don't know if it's something biological, or something that happens once we have a child, but it does seem to be common to mothers everywhere, this marking of time in relation to our children, this recognition of where they should be. It's not the same for most, probably all, of the dads I know.

And while I have friends who remember every year on the anniversary of Ben's death, there are moments, like the one I experienced this week, when what would have been a milestone in our lives is unrecognized by others. I don't blame them for that either; before Ben, I wouldn't have thought about those milestones in the life of someone else.

But I'm reminded how lonely this journey is, and I wonder if I make too much of what would have been. Do I need to let go more than I have, of Ben, of the possibilities that no longer exist? Or am I right where I should be?

I don't know. Not every day is like last Thursday, but every day I am aware of what I am missing. I don't want to forget completely, but there are times when I am tired of remembering.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Another Day, Another Milestone

I've been thinking about this day all year, wondering what I would do when it arrived. Would I stand on the school lawn, a voyeur into the marking of a moment, many moments, staring at others' tears and smiles? Would I enter into the circle, as I so wanted to do, to both welcome and send off, to be a witness for the parents and children starting a new chapter in their lives? What would I do, on this day that would have meant something for my family, if things had worked out differently?

Today, Ben would have started kindergarten. There are milestones on this journey that we mark; in the first year, the holidays, the gatherings missed, the first birthday, the first anniversary of loss. Later, more birthdays, significant moments, like this one. I won't ever have a day to mark when he might have married, had his first child, no certain date for his first day at college. But this day, this day I know.

I watched for a few moments, from the playground, as James played with a friend, as the kindergardeners gathered,some of them crying and hugging their parents, reluctant to take this big step. The parents took photos and wiped away tears, promised to be back soon, that all would be okay. I walked away as they gathered in their circle on the lawn to mark the official start of their formal educations, holding James in my arms.

"Why you stop and look, mama?" he asked me.

"Because I wanted to," I replied, my voice full of tears.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I'm Back

Hello everyone! I am back from my vacation, which was just wonderful - 2.5 weeks in England and Venice, most of it spent with my in-laws in England, though my hubby and I had 3.5 days in Venice alone. Venice was amazing - romantic, beautiful, wonderful. England was also great - we had amazingly beautiful weather, very little rain, loads of sun, perfect temps - better than we could have hoped for.

I am seriously jet lagged now; we got home Sunday afternoon and I am still trying to recover from the time difference, get through the mail, finish the laundry, get the school supplies, plan for James's belated birthday party on Friday, and everything else. I just wanted to let you all know I am still alive and kicking!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Just for Fun

I love this quote, from Bertrand Russell, and thought I'd share it today:

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Socialised Medicine

Obama was in my town yesterday, talking about healthcare. And there were many protesters around my house, anti-healthcare for all. Which I don't get, having lived in a socialised medicine country (England) and seeing all that is wrong with our system here. We pay far too much and get far too little, on the whole. Imagine losing your job and not having to worry about healthcare. Or starting your own business and not having to pay sky-high premiums for insurance. Yes, Brits are taxed more than we are, but you know what, folks? They spend less on healthcare than we do and are healthier than Americans.

Mrs. Spit, a Canadian, wrote an excellent post about universal healthcare that I wish every American had to read. Find it here, and I will get off my soapbox now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Son of My Sorrow

Some months after Ben died, I went online to look up the meaning of his name. Because he was the second child, I had not obsessed over his name as I had with my first child; we knew, more or less, what we would name a son, having decided during our first pregnancy.

The definition I found hit a little too close to home:

"A biblical name borne by the youngest of the twelve sons of Jacob. His mother Rachel died in giving birth to him, and in her last moments she named him Benoni, meaning 'son of my sorrow'. His father, however, did not wish him to bear such an ill-omened name, and renamed him Benyamin. ... In the middle ages the name was often given to young boys whose mothers had passed away during childbirth."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Great Article for Co-Workers of Those Who Have Lost a Baby

I just discovered a fantastic article at Open to Hope on how employees can help their co-workers who are returning to the office after a stillbirth. Though I was a stay-at-home mom when Ben died, I know there is a need for this information and hope it helps people learn what to do--and what not to do--in this situation.

Click here for the article.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Support Stillbirth Legislation

I've written about this legislation before, but it's time to write about it again. Stillbirth legislation has been introduced to Congress (again--I don't really understand why the "again," but such are the mysteries of our government). Information on the bills can be found at the First Candle website; an excerpt is here:


First Candle is pleased to announce that the Stillbirth and SUID Prevention, Education and Awareness Act of 2009 was filed on July 14 by Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ. A companion bill was filed in the House by Frank Pallone, Jr., D-NJ-6. This bill would improve the collection of critical data to determine the causes of stillbirth, SIDS and SUID, increase education and awareness about how to prevent these tragedies in the future and expand support services for families who have experienced a stillbirth, SIDS or SUID loss.


We need to have letters written within the next week to members of Congress in support of finding the causes and preventing stillbirths. Please, write a letter and pass this information on to friends and family so we can make a difference for parents--and babies--everywhere.

26,000 babies stillborn in the U.S. every year are 26,000 too many.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award


Something Kreativ

Monica from Still Hopeful tagged me a few weeks back for the Kreativ Blogger Award, because of my love of poetry. I love Monica and wish I lived near her, in part so I could indulge in some of the wonderful goodies she creates and bakes--I keep hinting she needs to open a bakery. Thanks, Monica!


Here are the rules.

1. When given the award, you write about seven things that you love.

2. Pass the award to bloggers that you love, and be sure to tag them and let them know they've won.


So, here goes, 7 things I love:

1. My husband. I don't always know how or why he puts up with me, but he does, and after nearly 13 years of putting up with me, I know I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

2. My kids. They can make me crazier than anyone or anything else in the world, but in return, that's just how much I love them.

3. Coffeeshops (not the Starbucks variety) and nonfat vanilla lattes. There's a great coffeeshop near my house, independently owned, that I just love going to when the kids are in school and I have a few hours to myself to write and work. I'm missing going there during this summer vacation.

4. Traveling. We are planning a trip to England to visit my husband's family and hubby and I are going to Venice for a few days while we're there, for an early celebration of my 40th birthday.

5. Books. With two degrees in English, what would you expect? I don't have nearly enough time to read, and the pile of books by my bed and on my "to read" list numbers in the hundreds.

6. Gardening. I'm not very good at it, but I love to putter around and get my hands dirty. I love watching my plantings grow, I love picking out new flowers to plant in the ground.

7. And, since this is why Monica nominated me, I couldn't neglect to say: poetry.

So, I will leave you with this, from William Wordsworth:

Splendour in the Grass

What though the radiance
which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass,
of glory in the flower,
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind;
In the primal sympathy
Which having been must ever be;
In the soothing thoughts that spring
Out of human suffering;
In the faith that looks through death,
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

I tag: Concrete & Honey because of her gorgeous photos, and Holly at Decor8 - her blog is just gorgeous. I'm sure there must be others, but I'll have to add more later.

Monday, July 6, 2009

For Parents, After a Baby's Stillbirth

I've just published a short guide, When the Baby Dies: A Guide for Parents After a Stillbirth, on Smashwords.com. It's a 10 page ebook offering some advice on surviving a stillbirth: relationships, grief, funeral planning, plus additional online and print resources. It's designed to be short enough to read through quickly; I remember after Ben died not having the attention span for longer books.

It's for sale for $4.00 (I hate having to charge, but I am a professional writer, and feel this is a very nominal, and fair, fee), and you can purchase it by clicking on this link above, or here.

You may read the first few pages for free; if you do purchase it and find it useful, please let me know. And thanks.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Right now, I am waiting for something to happen that may or may not change my life.

And it's driving me crazy.

I'm not ready to disclose what that thing might be, but perhaps in a few more weeks I'll be ready to share. (And no, it has nothing to do with having another baby, though I do think about that a lot. We gave the crib away yesterday and we've agreed we're done. That doesn't mean I'm happy about it, but I believe I've already posted about this elsewhere.)

So, to go with my theme of waiting, I'll direct you to some other bloggers who are also waiting:

- Monica, who is waiting for a BFP

- Niobe, who is contemplating another baby via surrogacy

- Mrs. Muelly, who is waiting for her baby girl to arrive after losing two boys

- Jen, who is just simply waiting, and surviving

- Shana, who is waiting to wake up from a nightmare that will not end.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Cult of Celebrity

So. Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson died today.

Do you think I care? No, I do not. Sad for their families, but it matters not a bit to me.

I don't get the "cult of celebrity" thing. Why are we so wrapped up in the lives of people we will never meet, people we only see on television, or on stages hundreds of feet away? Do we know them? No, I don't think we do.

I was in England on the day Diana died. Living there with my husband. It was my 28th birthday, and we, Luddites at the time, watched TV on a very limited basis (once a week, maybe) and hadn't turned on the radio that day. We were having a lovely day, out and about, seeing beautiful things, having tea, enjoying ourselves. I remember that we saw a church with the flag flying at half mast, and figured someone had died.

Indeed, someone had.

At the time, I worked in London, and spent 3 hours a day on trains from our little village, into London, where I switched to the Underground. All that week, people sat on those trains, some of them holding flowers, many of them weeping. And I thought, why? Did you know her? How did she improve your life? I may sound callous, but, really--who was she to you, other than some woman who married a prince and happened to be reasonably attractive? I think Diana, like any other celebrity, knew how to work the media, knew how to make herself more appealing, knew how to, perhaps, use the public for her own goals.

And yes, she was the mother of two young boys, and I do believe she loved them with all her heart. I'm not disputing that. But we didn't know her, none of us. Didn't know her faults (for surely she had them), didn't know her weaknesses, didn't know who she genuinely was. Anymore than we know who Farrah and Michael were. I suspect that the passing of Michael Jackson will elicit something of the cult-like devotion and hysteria that followed Diana's death, and once again, I will be amazed by it.

Do you remember when Ronald Reagan died? I remember the day of his funeral, turning on PBS for Charlotte to watch one of the children's programs, and instead there was his funeral procession. Thousands of people standing in the streets, newscasters from all over commentating on the spectacle of the hearse going by, the funeral aired on TV.

And all I could think was, weeks past Ben's death--why did the world not stop in this way for my son?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wordless Wednesday


It's summer...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What Not to Say to a Parent Who's Lost a Baby

1. You'll have another baby.

2. It wasn't meant to be.

3. It was God's will.

4. God needed another angel in heaven, or, the variant, God needed your baby in heaven more than you needed your baby here. (You really think God is that freakin' cruel? That's not a God I want any part of.)

5. Your baby couldn't have survived if he'd been born.

6. I know just how you feel. (Hint: Unless your baby died too, YOU HAVE NO IDEA. None whatsoever.)

7. It happened for a reason. (There is no good reason for my child to have died. He was not meant to have died. But he did anyway.)

I hope someone comes here, someone who is in danger of saying some of these horrible phrases to newly bereaved parents, and learns something. The best thing anyone can say is simply this: "I'm sorry."

Readers, do you have anything to add to my list? I'm sure you do, so please, help me enlighten the rest of the world.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

(I Forgot to Give This Post a Title and Realized it Days Later)

I have been tagged by Debbie of Loving Rylie, Missing Sophie, Expecting Finn.

THE RULES: Mention who tagged you. Complete the list of 8’s. Tag 8 other people.


8 THINGS I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO:

Going to Venice in August.

Having a morning out with my girl on Friday.

Sleeping in on Monday morning.

A date with my husband in July. (Yep, had to plan that far ahead.)

Eating ice cream on Friday night.

Eating chocolate. In, oh, the next few minutes.

Meeting a friend in Chicago in September. (Right, B?)

Puttering in my garden this weekend.


8 THINGS I DID YESTERDAY:

Drank a latte.

Wrote.

Made cookies.

Ran errands.

Read with my kids.

Talked on the phone.

Supervised a playdate.

Read my e-mails.


8 THINGS I WISH I COULD DO:

Dance.

Play the guitar.

Get organized.

Live someplace with less snow and more sunshine.

Stop volunteering for everything.

Find the perfect job.

Buy new slipcovers for the sofa.

Rip out the big ugly bushes at the front of my house.


8 SHOWS I WATCH:

What Not to Wear

How Clean is Your House?

Spongebob Squarepants (thanks, kids)

The Daily Show

The Colbert Report

(No, it's not 8 shows, but I don't watch much TV.)

8 FAVORITE FOODS:

Chocolate

Ice cream

Peaches

Chocolate

Apple pie

Spaghetti

French bread

Chocolate


8 PLACES I’D LIKE TO TRAVEL:

Greece

Hawaii

Quebec

Switzerland

Austria

Russia

Istanbul

Italy


8 PEOPLE I’VE TAGGED:

Umm, everybody I would tag has already been tagged. If you haven't been tagged and feel I've overlooked you, come yell at me in the comments and consider yourself tagged.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What Will Matter in the End

I was at a women's retreat a few months ago, enjoying a lovely weekend close to home (no overnight, unfortunately, but that's ok) with good people, doing fun and insightful things. One of the retreat leaders recommended a book by Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow.

Now, I've been through some difficult times, so I was intrigued by what this woman might have to say to a deadbabymama like me. Could she really have any insight into what life's truly shitty stuff does to a person? Could she have any clue how to go on living your life after you've lost the best thing in the world? (Do you detect cynicism on my part? Hmm.)

I was a bit afraid the book would be very touchy-feely, New Age flaky. Not so. After reserving the book from the library and enduring a long wait for it, I brought it home, read it, and went out and bought a copy. I want to read it again, and I also want to share pieces of it with you. I know this book isn't for everyone, and it's certainly not geared to deadbabymamas, it's simply geared to anyone who has lost and wants to go on after, to learn what they can and maybe even (and I hesitate to write this, but I can't think of another way to phrase it) be better for it.

In one passage, she writes about Sept. 11, and gathering with friends for a dinner shortly after. Everyone at the table was full of different emotions and thoughts about America, war, and terrorism, arguing about then-President Bush and politics. Trying to find compassion for the world, no matter politics or religion, Elizabeth sits at the table crying, as their waitress comes over to tell them that she worked in the World Trade Center, and lost 50 friends that day. "The only thing you should be talking about tonight is how precious your life is," she tells them. "How lucky you are to be alive."

Later, driving home, Elizabeth writes, "I found my thoughts returning to the people on the airplanes, and to that moment when they realized they were speeding through space toward their death. I let my grip on life loosen, until I was with those people, sharing the awe, finally understanding the secret--the same secret we will all know when death is just a breath away: In the end, what will matter is how much we loved--our children, our mates, our families, our friends, everyone we know, everyone who traveled with us during our brief visit to this unbearably lovely place. What will matter is the good we did, not the good we expected others to do."

I'm trying to absorb those words in my days of fear: fear of my own death, fear of my children or husband dying, fear of some catastrophe. I fear so much, and at times it keeps me from truly living my life. And life is too short to let it be ruled by fear. So today, right now, I will love what I have, love this life.

And every day, I will keep waking up, opening up my arms to embrace whatever lies before me, and love.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Free Chocolate!

Yes, really. Free chocolate from the Mars company!

Click here: https://secure.realchocolate.com/

Then go back again next Friday, and request again. Up to 4 free coupons!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Friday, May 22, 2009

Because I am Tired, Another Poem

Not only because I'm tired, but also because I had what is quite possibly the world's largest margarita last night. And also because I think we should all read more poetry. This poem was written by a Chinese man following China's devastating earthquakes last year. It first aired on NPR last year, and they replayed it recently to commemorate the first anniversary of those earthquakes.

Elegy

Thousands upon thousands of anguished cries
Returning to silence and tranquillity
Heavenly acts cannot be predicted
The moon over Wenchuan
Still, a question mark
Aftershocks extend to Chengdu
Sorrow engulfs half the world
Tears turn to ice
Let candlelight melt them away
Children, climb on a dandelion
and line up for heaven

- He Xiaozhu

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Because My Life is so Exciting

Or not.

(And also because I am feeling tired and sitting down blogging gives me an excuse to look productive while sitting on my arse.)

Hubby and I spent the afternoon cleaning the laundry area of our basement, which has been filthy and cobwebby for quite some time (um, since perhaps we moved in nearly 4 years ago. Ahem.). We had the other part of the basement redone last year - we had a mold issue that needed to be cleared up, ancient, stinky carpet that smelled like mold and cat pee, and horrible knotty pine paneling, which I hate.

The other portion of the basement we didn't have renovated, as it's separate from the "nice" part, and, quite honestly, that's more money than we could spend.

I have been wanting a new washer and dryer, as the ones we currently have came with the house and aren't very efficient, not to mention fairly old. On Friday, the washing machine started gushing water out of the bottom. Yippee! We decided spending money to repair the darn thing was not worth it, and went out yesterday afternoon to purchase a new one. We got a good deal on a higher-end model than we would've looked at (it was the floor model) and it will arrive on Wednesday.

This meant, however, that the laundry room really needed a good cleaning. So we spent the afternoon with lots of bleach and cobwebs, shifting the washer and the dryer around, cleaning up.

See? My life really IS exciting.

We considered getting a dryer as well, but there were no special deals or rebates on dryers to be had. Also, the saleswoman we spoke to said we should check the dryer vent to see if it's blocked, as that is a likely reason the dryer doesn't work so well. So, we cleared it out and are keeping our fingers crossed it actually helps.

Wow. I feel so immensely boring writing that. And it's rather sad to tell you how happy I am to have purchased a new washing machine. There will be even more excitement tomorrow, when the roofer comes to assess the amount of repair work we need to have done on our roof, which sprang a big ol' leak this winter.

Cleaning, bleach, roofers, repairmen. Who says domestic diva-dom isn't a rip-roarin' barrel o' fun?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Another Mother's Day

This post isn't going to be so much about me - this is my 6th Mother's Day without Ben, but I always had Charlotte, so I never had to experience a Mother's Day having given birth, but without a child. Oh, I still miss him, of course, and think of him every day, and especially on Mother's Day, but I have learned to be grateful for the two beautiful babies I have, and I treasure every Mother's Day with them.

I have reason to believe some of my lurkers are new here because of a recent loss - and I'm so sorry. And I know you are facing this day, wondering what you are going to do, how will you survive it?

I hope, for your sake, your friends and family rally around you with hugs and flowers, meals and support. Yes, you ARE a mother, even without your baby here. So, how will you get through this coming Sunday?

If you need to hole up in bed, or in your home, and not come out, that's ok. If that's what you really want to do, then do it. If you want some kind of ritual that will honor your child, there are all sorts you can do. Some people plant a tree, or a rose bush, or some other special flower, they can tend to, year after year, and watch grow. Regular readers of my blog will know that my husband and I make a donation in our son's honor every year on his birthday, to the hospital where he was born (we had exceptional care from a compassionate staff) and to the charity Save the Children, which supplies food and medicine for children in need. I know of one family who had a special place at the local zoo that meant something to them in relation to their son, and they dedicated a bench in his honor there.

You may wish to purchase a special piece of jewelry to wear, from someplace like Shannon Schoon's site. Alternatively, go online to an organization like Share, or First Candle, to make a donation or for more suggestions on how to honor your baby.

Regular readers, please offer your suggestions in the comments for newly bereaved parents.

If you're reading this because you're a friend or family member of someone who's lost a baby, and you're wondering how to help, it's pretty easy. Call them or send them a note before Mother's Day (and Father's Day), just to say, "I know this is a hard day for you, and I wanted you to know I'm thinking of you. And that I'm sorry." Believe me, it will mean the world to them. Ask if they want to talk about their baby, or show pictures or share memories. What most parents who've lost children want more than anything is for people to acknowledge the child they lost. If you want to do more, perhaps you could help them with one of the rituals I mentioned above. At the very least, please, please, acknowledge what they've lost.

For all the parents out there who've lost a child, I wish you peace.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Actually, I Do Remember You, I'm Just Ignoring You

So. Yesterday morning I went to an exercise class - Zumba - very fun, dance-y, kick-my-butt kind of class. It's held in the basement of the church I belong to.

This was my third time going, and James and I were the first ones there. (James was not exercising, he was being good with toys in a corner.) The next person to arrive, after us, was this woman I'll call "X." I haven't seen her in a while; she was a member of the church several years ago, then left, and now, she tells me, is back.

"You probably don't remember me," she said. "We left for a while, but now we're back. How old is your son?"

Superficial pleasantries, etc.

The thing is, I DO remember her. And yes, I do my very best to ignore her presence in the world.

Harsh?

Not really.

The Christmas I was pregnant with Ben, she and I were at an Advent wreath making workshop at church. She asked me when the baby was due, and we exchanged random tidbits. One month later, Ben was dead.

The following Christmas, there we are at the Advent wreath making workshop again. And "X" turns to me and says, "Where's your baby?"

I stared at her in utter disbelief. Didn't say anything. She asked again, and I stumbled over the words, "He died." Which, you might think, would lead most people to say something along the lines of, "Oh, I'm so sorry," and perhaps drop it.

But no. "X" starts questioning me incessantly, almost as if she didn't believe me. And believe me, people in the church knew, without a doubt, that Ben was gone. It was announced verbally in services, in the bulletin, in the church newsletter. We had a funeral for him. At Easter, one of my friends gave flowers in Ben's memory. His name was in the bulletin for All Saint's Day. On the Sundays when I attended, I wept the entire time. And there sat "X," not believing me, too thick and socially inept to shut the hell up. After a whole year of seeing me there WITHOUT a baby. I mean, hello?

One of my friends was sitting across the table, and after the whole exchange was over, she looked at me, in nearly as much disbelief as I was in. "I was ready to lunge across the table and throttle her," she said.

I was just stunned. Completely stunned.

So there she was, yesterday morning. And I pretended that, no, I didn't remember her. When, in truth, I don't think I will ever forget who she is, and what she said.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hope for Kai

I just came across this on Twitter, and thought I would pass it on to all two of you who follow me. There's a little boy in NYC who was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia 3 weeks ago. His name is Kai, and he's four years old. Without a bone marrow transplant, even with chemotherapy, he doesn't have much of a chance.

For anyone who might stumble across this in the NYC area, there is going to be a donor drive this weekend. All that's required to register and potentially save a life is a quick cheek swab. For info on the NYC drive, go to www.hopeforkai.com. If you're not in the area, please go to his website anyway and, if you can, donate money for treatment, send good wishes, or follow the link to receive a test kit in the mail, so that you can swab your own cheek at home and send off to the bone marrow registry. (That site can be found here.)

Kai's dad was diagnosed with incurable lymphoma last year. Kai's mom could lose her husband and son. And that is simply not acceptable.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

To Live in this World

“To live in this world, you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go”
–Mary Oliver


I came across this quote on the blog of Jen Lemen, an artist and writer whose illustrations have appeared in Good Housekeeping and other magazines. After two weeks of sad news (Maddie, Thalon, and Isaac, and more) Mary Oliver's quote says it better than anything I could.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Newest Members of the Family


Well, we finally did it. After much begging by the girl, we broke down and went looking for a kitten. And ended up with...two.

Lily and Rosie have been hiding under our kitchen table for 3.5 hours now. They're 9 weeks old and as cute as can be. The kids are over the moon with excitement, and, in all honesty, my hubby and I are kind of excited too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

They Call This Spring?



It is cold and gray here, as usual - welcome to spring, or something. One more gray day and I'm going to lose my mind. Really. Today's high is 51 degrees, and I am feeling more than desperate for something warmer than this. There has been a little bit of sun, oh, maybe four days ago. It's that time of year when I ask myself why I live in Northern Ohio, after a long, gray winter, and into a long, gray spring.

After much fussing and confusion, I have downloaded photos to my computer! (I swear, I'm getting much too old for all this technology!) These are photos from April 7th (yes, I know, quite some time ago in Internet land, but I'm not good with getting photos to load...). Lovely photos of snow on the forsythia and crocuses in my backyard.

I am longing to be outside in short sleeves and sandals, longing to dig in the dirt and sweep away those clouds in the sky and in my head. Until then, I hope the sun is shining in your part of the world.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Spring Break

This week is the kids' spring break, and we're visiting the grandparents in PA. It's cold and gray today, but as I am currently in the house (miraculously) alone, I don't mind. I love me some peace and quiet.

So far this break, we've been shopping (lots of stuff for the kiddos, only thing I got for me was socks. Kids are not patient shoppers). Been to my sister's house for my baby nephew's 16th birthday, and been to Hershey to Chocolate World. And, oh yeah, we had a tornado here on Sunday. Fortunately, we were not home at the time, we were on the road, traveling back to my parent's house from my sister's, when it happened. Got home to hail the size of a quarter on the ground, two very large pine trees twisted off their bases, roof damage, one barn across the road without a roof, another barn flattened, and much damage all around us. I'm very grateful we weren't home--the kids would have been terrified. When I was a kid, back in 1980, we had a terrible tornado my family remembers vividly. We were just sitting down at 5:00 to eat when the sky turned black and it started to pour--the rain actually came through the (closed) kitchen windows horizontally, then poured down the walls. We all ran to the basement as the wind blew, and by the time we emerged, maybe 10 or 15 minutes later, our neighbor's barn had collapsed and been struck by lightning and was on fire.

It was a pretty scary scene for all of us; cattle trapped and burning, some had escaped and run away, large sheets of tin strewn all around from the barn roof. Another neighbor lost the roof of their house, we had no power for 24 hours; overall, it was pretty unbelievable. That's one bit of excitement I never need to repeat.

In true farming fashion, however, the community turned up to help haul away the debris and our neighbor's had an old-fashioned barn raising, complete with Amish men in dark hats and coats raising up the new structure. It was a time I don't think I'll ever forget.

What's your best weather-related story? Snowstorms? Hurricanes? Or maybe you had a really wonderful spring break in some far-off, warm location that you'd like to tell me to make me jealous? I've never done the whole "spring break in Florida/Cozumel/Jamaica" thing, which is actually fine by me, but I would love an escape to someplace lovely and warm I've not been to someday. Soon.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Nonfat Vanilla Lattes Make Me Happy

I'm sitting in my favorite coffeeshop this morning, both kids in school after endless colds and runny noses. I have needed this morning out for weeks and I'm so happy I'm finally getting it. I've been in a rut for a while, tired of being a domestic diva, longing for a job out of the house, desperately needing a change. Trouble is, I don't know what sort of change I need. Maybe just a getaway to someplace new, maybe something more than that.

The other day, I had a fight with my husband. I retreated to my room in tears, crying in a way I don't cry all that often anymore——the great, wrenching sobs accompanied by utter despair. The sort of crying I did a lot after Ben died, and I wondered, after I'd stopped crying, how I survived his death. How I survived those weeks and months of desperation and sorrow? How did I survive the pain? I'd forgotten just how awful it was, the depths of it——oh, don't get me wrong, I remember it was awful, but I'd forgotten the feeling of crying, grieving, missing so intensely, with all my body.

How does anyone survive it?

The thing is, I did. We do. In part, you survive it because there is no other choice: you can opt out of life, kill yourself, become catatonic——but if you have people who love you, whom you love, you know it's not an option. And yes, there were times when I wanted only to die, so I could be with Ben, but I couldn't leave my family with that pain. I chose to keep going, I chose to find my happiness again, hard as it was. And no, I'm not always happy. But no one is. Everyone, sooner or later, will feel the pain of a broken heart; none of us are immune. I still miss him. I still grieve him. And I still want him back. But what I have? These children who have lived, this life——this beautiful, amazing, heartbreaking life. I'm grateful for it, in all its ups and downs, grateful for those nonfat vanilla lattes I dream about while at home doing my diva thing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Strange Dreams and Random Thoughts

So, I had two very strange dreams last night. In the first one, my husband got a new, very high-powered job that he neglected to tell me about. An acquaintance congratulated me on his new job, and told me there was some sort of press conference or meeting that I could go to and see my husband. So, I did. I walked into this room with a bunch of powerful people who were delighted to see "the wife," and there was my husband, at the end of a table, in a fancy suit, looking happy. Until he saw me, because he knew he was in trouble.

I ran away, angry and crying, he followed, and we had a huge argument about his lying to me about the job, which came with a big, beautiful new house with a lake view and a staff of two. I gave him back my wedding ring and told him I was leaving, while the staff tried to persuade me to stay.

When I told my husband about my dream this morning, he said that he thinks the dream was more about me being insecure than anything else. I would agree. (I will say, however, that his company is going to be laying people off in his department tomorrow - don't know how a dream about him getting a new job quite relates.)

My other strange dream was about a school project my daughter had to do. She brought home this lengthy handout which she had to read and report on. This was the 2nd time she had brought home this particular report, needing, for some reason, to do it over. The topic of the handout? Stillbirth.

Now where the hell did that come from? Why would a 2nd-grader have a report about stillbirth, given to her twice, to complete as homework? As I recall, there was something about her teacher knowing about Ben, and trying to make a point to me, though I have no clue what the point was.

It's not like my daughter has been asking about Ben recently; she doesn't even know the world "stillborn" as far as I know. I don't think we've ever used that particular term with her to describe Ben's death; it just never came up.

In the rest of my life, I am feeling tired and discouraged, for a number of reasons. Things are going on I really can't talk about, things I don't see a solution to, and I'm finding that hard. I've got that Jimmy Buffett song in my head "...wastin' away again in Margaritaville..." - which definitely correlates to my state of mind; I'd like to waste away in Margaritaville for a little while myself.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

All That We Let In

I'm a huge fan of the Indigo Girls, who are, for those of you who don't know, a kind of folk-y girl duo, very acoustic and with absolutely amazing lyrics. My sister introduced them to me many years ago, just before I headed off to college, and I've been incredibly grateful ever since. Their songs have saved me so many times, in so many different ways: through heartache, confusion, depression, and so much more. I haven't been listening to much music for far too long now - so many days spent listening to The Wiggles, or Hannah Montana, and whatever's on Radio Disney. I miss really listening to good music, with good lyrics, discovering that new amazing group that makes me want to run out and buy everything they've ever done.

With that said, I've just had a lightbulb go off in my head: can anybody tell me some good music I should be listening to, but I'm not? Besides IG, I love U2, Sting, the Police...um, I can't actually think of anyone else. Aimee Mann is good, though a little dark. My musical tastes haven't really moved out of the 90s. Please comment below and tell me who I should be listening to!

Back to the purpose of this post: I was listening to the IG's album "All That We Let In" a few weeks ago and these lyrics, to the song of the same name, struck me:

The dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
Heartsick we nurse along the way we picked up
You may not see it when it's sticking to your skin
But we're better off for all that we let in

We've lost friends and loved ones much too young
With so much promise and work left undone
When all that guards us is a single center line
And the brutal crossing over when it's time

Well I don't know where it all begins
And I don't know where it all will end
We're better off for all that we let in

One day those toughies will be withered up and bent
The father son, the holy warriors, and the president
With glory days of put up dukes for all the world to see
Beaten into submission in the name of the free

We're in an evolution I have heard it said
Everyone's so busy now, but do we move ahead
Planets hurling, atoms splitting
And a sweater for your love you sit there knitting

You see those crosses on the side of the road
Or tied with ribbons in the median
They make me grateful I can go this mile
Lay me down at night and wake me up again

Kat writes a poem and she sticks it on my truck
We don't believe in war and we don't believe in luck
The birds were calling to her, what were they saying
As the gate blew open and the tops of the trees were swaying

I pass the cemetery, walk my dog down there
I read the names in stone and I say a silent prayer
When I get home you're cooking supper on the stove
And the greatest gift of life is to know love

--Emily Saliers


That kind of sums up how I feel about Ben. I'm better off for having him. I love more, I appreciate more, and though missing him hurts like hell, I would do it all again.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Peace of Mind Jewelry

I don't remember how I stumbled upon this jewelry designer's website and Etsy store, but somehow I did and I wanted to share her work with you. Shannon Schoon lost a daughter at 34 weeks gestation due to preeclampsia, and she is also a talented jewelry designer. I recently bought one of her designs (though I could buy just about all of them, quite honestly - they're gorgeous).

I bought this the baby loss memorial necklace.

Please visit Shannon's website and Etsy store. Even if you don't buy anything, it's always fun to look at pretty things!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Through These Days of Penitence

This is the season of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter, to the death of Christ. It's the time when Christians are supposed to reflect upon their sins, make sacrifices to remind them of the sacrifices Jesus made. Reflection - that seems to be all I have done in the last 5 years - think about Ben, what might have been.

Because he was born on New Year's Eve, by the time my husband and I decided to venture back to church, it was nearly Lent in the liturgical year. It was the right time for our moods: reflection, sorrow, waiting for this terrible death, this horrible sacrifice.

But then there was this: Ash Wednesday. Ashes in the sign of a cross on foreheads everywhere. Ashes, the ashes sitting in a bag in a funeral home, the remains of our son, waiting for us to feel strong enough to bring home. And that, that day, that was too much. And still is. There will be no ashes for me.

There was also the topic of sacrifice. Many Christians believe in giving something up for Lent, to mirror the sacrifice of Christ. (Which, when they talk about giving up diet Coke, or sugar, is really pretty laughable.) This isn't something my Protestant family every did; it just wasn't our tradition, but these days it seems to have moved into more mainstream Christianity. People would ask me if I was giving something up, and I would stare at them dumbly: hell, I sacrificed my son, isn't that enough for the rest of my life? No, it wasn't a true sacrifice, in the real meaning of the word, but it was the most important thing in the world ripped from me by force. Oh, I'd had my pain, thank you very much, I'd had enough pain for the rest of my life, for a lifetime of Lents.

The worst thing, though? Easter. God's son, risen from the dead. A miracle. A miracle for the whole world, but not for me. And anger: why is there a miracle for Jesus, and not for me? I know, if you believe in God, you really can't compare the two. Ben was not the son of god, after all, but still. I wanted my miracle. Didn't I deserve a miracle?

I still don't do Lent very well. I attend church fairly regularly, but I don't know if I can call myself a Christian these days. Losing a child caused me to lose much of what I thought I believed in. I go to church, I go through the motions, but I no longer feel like there's anything out there. Maybe I will again one day. These days I can call myself a cynic, rather than a Christian. I can call myself a doubter, or maybe I should call myself just plain mad. Skeptical. Unsure.

One day, I may have something to believe in again. Or maybe not. I just don't know. I don't discount a shift in my thinking, my system of belief. Right now, I sit with my skepticism, with my questions, and I search for an answer that may or may not come. I'd like to have some confidence in faith and God, but I don't know how to get there. For now, that's mostly ok, and maybe this is where I am supposed to be. I have more questions than answers; I have questions that may simply be unanswerable.

If you believed in anything before your child died, what do you believe in now? How did it change you? Has it made your faith stronger, or weaker? Has it changed your faith at all? What are your answers?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Honest Scrap

Overeducated Mommy and Debbie tagged me for this award last week (I think) and so, here we are:

(I can't get the picture to load...beats me.)


The rules of the award:

1) Choose a minimum of 7 blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.
2) Show the 7 winners names and links on your blog, and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with "Honest Scrap." Well, there's no prize, but they can keep the nifty icon.
3) List at least 10 honest things about yourself.

* I love TLC's "What Not to Wear." (Somebody gimme $5000 for a new wardrobe, quick!)
* I definitely believe in shoe therapy, though I don't indulge very often.
* I do not enjoy winter.
* I once worked in a bank, in their vault, counting money. 1/2 a million a day, usually. I hated that job.
* Once upon a time, I wanted to be a Rockette, or else on Broadway.
* I turn 40 this year. I think I'm having a midlife crisis. Or maybe it's just a mid-winter crisis.
* I love animal crackers - but not the cheapie kind. Trader Joe's are particularly good.
* Currently I am fixated on nonfat vanilla lattes.
* I love sweet and salty.
* I really think winter should be devoted to hibernation.

I nominate Niobe, Antigone, Monica, Mrs. Muelly, C. at My Resurfacing, The Other Side, and Mrs. Spit.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Is Winter Over Yet?

Blah. Blah blah blah.

Yippee.

Ok, here's a dilemma for you. What would you do if, say, you found out that your 8-year-old daughter, who is strong-willed, stubborn, and difficult - you'll be the first to admit it - has this friend, who is a bit older, in a different grade. But your daughter Capital-A Adores her. And you've just found out that this friend has said, not within your child's hearing, that your daughter is "fat" and "annoying." After spending hours at your house, sleeping over, being fed, coming to birthday parties, etc. And now your child knows it too.

I don't know what to do. I don't know if I should do anything. But this bugs me. And I also realize it says more about me and my insecurities than perhaps my daughter. I don't have many friends here, even after living here for 11 years, and I lack even one person I feel I can consistently turn to as a confidant. Except my husband, but, we all need a girlfriend to talk to sometimes, yes? I never had many friends growing up; I was very shy, which others translated as stuck up. I have a hard time making friends and I know I'm not easy to get to know. And yes, my daughter is a little chubby, but so was I when I was her age; she's also very tall, as was I. And yes, I'm lonely here. I'm afraid that my daughter will feel the same way I did growing, the same way I feel sometimes now - like she doesn't fit in, that she's different somehow.

And it makes me want to cry.

What would you do?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What, Posting Again So Soon?

Hmm. I just posted yesterday, whatever am I doing posting again today? Well, I have some unexpected free time, thanks to my 8-year-old dramatically lying on the sofa, clutching her stomach and moaning. Don't worry, she's fine, just feeling a bit off today. Heaven help us if she's ever really ill, with something serious; she's such a (lovely) drama queen that the slightest poke can have her howling.

So, I keep thinking about this story. Thoughts anyone? Or are you sick of it? Because, honestly, I'm both sick of it and morbidly fascinated. Who allowed this to happen? Did anyone ever suggest mental health help? What about all of those babies - who will take care of them? Will they feel like freaks growing up, everyone pointing and whispering on their first day of school, or as they walk down the street?

And I'm angry with their mother for allowing this to happen: while she has the right to have children, 8 at once? Did she think about the health risks to those babies, far more likely when born so soon, with eight little beings fighting inside her womb for what they need to grow strong and healthy. What problems will they face? I'm not saying she should have done a selective reduction, which apparently some of her doctors recommended; I don't think I could have either. But she didn't need to have all those embryos transfered.

And infertility treatments for an unemployed woman with 6 kids already? Oh boy.

I can't say I've added anything new to this debate, I'm just having a little vent, really. It just boggles my mind.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

First Candle's 2009 Research & Advocacy Symposium

First Candle is "a national nonprofit health organization uniting parents, caregivers and researchers nationwide with government, business and community service groups to advance infant health and survival. With help from a national network of member and partner organizations, we are working to increase public participation and support in the fight against infant mortality." (From their website.)

I expect many of you who read this blog already know about First Candle, and I know I've mentioned them here before. They are holding a symposium in Washington, DC on March 23, 24, and 25. They're planning some presentations on stillbirth and SIDS research, a networking session, and, most importantly (at least to me) a "Day on the Hill" of grassroots advocacy to members in the House and Senate, providing anyone interested with transportation and information on how to talk to your Congresspeople. There are bills, like this one, we've been advocating for, and the Missing Angels Bill, which is all about getting birth certificates, not just death certificates, for our babies.

I hope to be there, and if you're in the area, please consider attending too. I should know in the next few days if I can definitely go; I hope to meet some of you there.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Another One of Those Things

It's another one of those things they don't tell you when you lose a child: 80% of couples who lose a child will ultimately split.

Wow.

That number is huge.

I'm thinking about that today because a number of my blogger friends have been writing about their marital difficulties post deadbaby. And it rings true for me, those marital blues. And while I don't think I'm ready to get into my marital troubles in depth, let's just say I've had them, and am having them, and some days I think to myself, "If Ben hadn't died, we would be okay."

Which may or may not be true.

Grief has gotten in the way of my relationship over the last five years; we each grieve so differently, my husband and I. I grieve harder, while he doesn't know how to let it go. I wrap myself up in my own little world to get through the days (though this is not so much true anymore as it was) and ignore what my husband needs. I get it wrong, so many times.

And I'm tired.

Today is not a great day, despite the sun finally shining down on us, after 10 inches of snow dumped on us yesterday, on top of the 1.5 feet we already had. I don't like winter, I don't like feeling so ... down, inadequate, and ... well, useless, as I do right now. And part of that is my marriage.

I just want to feel okay.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Stillbirth Makes Headlines at Newsweek

Just a quick update before I get ready for my day: Jessica Clark-Roe, of the organization Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, which trains photographers to take portraits of stillborn babies--or babies who aren't expected to survive--and their families, has placed two articles about her organization and stillbirth in Newsweek magazine. The links are here and here.

More from me later....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Another Poem

Hosted my daughter's 8th birthday party this morning, and it was fun until she melted down completely at the end and turned into a spoiled brat. I'm feeling really down now, upset with her, sad, disappointed, feeling like I've raised a brat. Ok, so I'm feeling sorry for myself, I know, but, to change the subject entirely: A friend of mine on Facebook put up this poem by Langston Hughes the other day, post-inauguration, and it is too wonderful not to share. Hope you enjoy it.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll sit at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

-- Langston Hughes

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today's the Day the World Changes

All right, so my title for today's post may be a bit of a stretch, but can I tell you, I am proud today. Whether you are Republican or Democrat, black, white, tan, or whatever color you identify yourself with, whether you loved Bush or hated him, think Obama is a leftie socialist or the savior of the world: you know, today is a day over 200 years in the making.

I've never been one to go around gloating about how America is the greatest nation on the earth (too much arrogance in that statement for my taste, and as the wife of a man who is not from this country, and the mother of two children who can claim citizenship in that country, I'd rather see the world through a bigger lens). I've never really understood patriotism and love of country; perhaps that is my own personal failing, I don't know. I understand loving people, but the concept of loving my country is nebulous for me, at best. Maybe it's the Democrat in me (despite the very Republican upbringing) that sees the flaws as well as the good, the part of me that knows nothing is perfect and there is always more to strive for.

Today, for the first time in my life, I can say with all honesty, I am proud to be an American. Obama has a tough road ahead of him, a country full of potholes and craters created by others. Change takes time, and it is not Obama's road alone - we must all participate in filling in the cracks, listening to each other, working together, finding common ground.

But today, I am going to revel in this moment, in the pride and hope I feel. Change has come, and may America be better for it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Winter/Holiday/New Year's 7x7 From Glow in the Woods

I suspect most of you read the babyloss blog "Glow in the Woods." This month's questions for mamas to answer were recently posted on their site; my answers are here:

1 | Welcome to 2009. What have you left behind in the year just past? What do you hope to find in the year to come?

I've left behind my hope of having another child. I turn 40 this year, and as much as I want another baby, I'm too frightened to try again. And getting too old, and a dozen other things. I've had a terrible time accepting that the baby making years are over for me, but they are. I'll miss them more than I ever thought possible.

What do I hope to find? Peace. A connection. Me.

2 | We've just come through the season in which our culture touts cheer and peace and family togetherness rather relentlessly. How did your child's death impact your experience of the "holiday" season, personally or culturally?

Ben died the day before New Year's Eve, and was born NYEve morning. The holidays suck. And yet they don't, because I have two little ones, alive and well, who bring their joy into my life, their excitement about Santa, presents, candles, secrets and surprises. But this time of year I'm 100 times more aware of what I'm missing than all the other months of the year. The silence this time of year...the silence of the snowy winter landscape, the silence from family members, who won't say his name - and, oh, I could complain bitterly about this, and have, about wondering what they think, do they remember, why the hell they can't say his name.... If they only knew how much it hurt.

3 | If you celebrate in any way through December, are there ways you include or acknowledge your lost baby/babies?

We have an ornament with his name on it that we put on our tree. We light a candle on the day of his death, a candle given to us for his funeral, lit only once a year. We give money in his name to charity. It's not enough, not for me, not for my husband. But what else can we do?

4 | Through the year are there any holidays, seasons, or parts of what were once cherished rituals that have changed for you because of your child's death?

Christmas and New Year, obviously. New Year might as well not even happen - it's just the marking of one more year further away from Ben. All the holidays are different without him, wondering what might have been, what he would be like now, wondering what life would be with him, instead of his little brother.

5 | Do you do anything to remember your baby/babies' birth and/or death day? Or will you?

Not much. We light his candle, give money to charity, but we grieve silently and alone.

6 | Is there anything about the winter season (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere right now) that lifts your spirits? Is there anything that especially brings them down?

Christmas brings me down and lifts me up. Because of the babies I have with me, who saved me from complete despair, the lights, the presents....

7 | During your hardest times, how have you found your way forward

One foot in front of the other. Cleaning like a maniac. Cursing at the top of my lungs. Moment by moment.