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

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.


sweetsalty kate said...

Virginia, thanks so much for doing this. I will say, though - it made me think about the notion of grieving silently and alone. I'd say the same thing, but then there's this community, others like me writing and sharing and it's not silent at all. It's kept me sane and heard and understood. I hope the same is true for you.

Here's to a new kind of company, eh? Best to you, and light.

Virginia said...

Ah, Kate, yes, I understand what you're saying, and yes, this community helps. But looking back, to the first two, three years of mourning, I didn't have this blog, didn't have this online community. So part of me will always feel like I did it alone, you know? In terms of our families not knowing what to do, in terms of being one of very few women I knew who had lost a baby. It's the familial silence that gets me, that hurts the most, when I want to share my grief with them, but know I can't.

And yes, the online company has been wonderful...but sometimes I want the face-to-face comfort that very few people around me know how to give.

Tash said...

I could've written the exact same answers to a number of these: one (especially the age and fear, and oh the fear); the part in two about family; the part in three about it never being enough; pretty much all of 5, 6, and 7.

Ditto what Kate said. The times I've felt most alone in this process I've had to remind myself I'm not really. And your answers have just reaffirmed that for me. thank you so much for taking the time to do this.