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

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?