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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Right Where I Am: Seven Years, 5 Months

*I'm writing this post as suggested by Angie at still life 365.

Seven years. Five months. A lifetime. One little lifetime, to be exact, seven years and 5 months of missing a small boy who would be in first grade now, but is not. Who would be tormenting his big sister just like his little brother does, but is not. Who would be one of the great joys of my life. (Who is.)

Where am I on this journey of missing Ben? Ah. I am accepting. I am sad. I miss him with every breath that flows in and out of my lungs. The story of my life started the day he died: I don't think that's a sentiment you can understand unless you've been in these shoes. (But maybe not.) All that came before him--or much of it--was ordinary, unexceptional. And then Ben died. That is the beginning of my story.

I am better than ok. But the hole in my heart does not go away, does not fill in. It has scabbed over, there is a scar, and if you probe it too hard the hole might open again. But this is how grief is. I want Ben back with every part of my being but I have also accepted that this will not be. For if I had him back, I might have to give up James, and I could not lose him too. Yet I cannot have all three of my children, here and now, alive and well. And so there is a shadow, ever present, marking what was.

I am afraid of pregnant women; I'd prefer all pregnancies were kept secret until the baby arrives. I know all too well what there is to lose. My innocence is gone, never to return. But there is also a joy I thought was lost to me forever; it springs up like a tenacious flower after the lawnmower has passed overtop: nothing will hold it down, cut it off. It disappeared for a time but has returned, changed.

People told me losing Ben would make me stronger, make me better--but I dispute that. It changed me, certainly. I am more sorrowful, more introspective, more aware that all of us--the whole world--suffers from a broken heart, and that the pain manifests itself in different ways. Sometimes in anger, hatred, silence, or compassion.

I hate that people will still not acknowledge what we've lost, will stand in my house on the anniversary of his death and see my tears and say nothing. I more than hate it; it infuriates me, drives me to a rage beyond... reason? Or maybe just beyond. I want to say his name every day but know this will not happen; for some, silence is the only response they can manage, for reasons known only to themselves. And I try to accept that, knowing that some days I simply can't.

What I have: my living children, my life, they are good. Incomplete, but happy. I am lucky, and I know it, every day. I am so, so very lucky.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Just in case the rapture occurs at 6:00 p.m. EST tonight, I'm posting this link to the Center for Disease Control's blog post on dealing with a zombie apocalypse.

If you're really worried, I'd suggest doing what I'm doing right now: finishing off the chocolate.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

For Mother's Day

I posted this prayer last year for Mother's Day and like it so much I decided to post it again.

Wherever you are in your mothering journey, I wish you peace on Mother's Day.

Today we bless mothers who sat up all night with sick toddlers saying, "It's OK honey, Mommy's here.

Today we bless mothers who gave birth to babies they may never see. And the mothers who took those babies forever to be their own children.

Today we bless mothers who attended ball games, recitals, rehearsals, etc. etc. and said, "I wouldn't have missed it for the world," and meant it.

Today we bless mothers who show up for work with milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.

Today we bless mothers who put pinwheels, teddy bears, or flowers on children's graves.

Today we bless mothers whose children have gone astray, who haven't the words to reach them, and yet have never put them from their heart.

Today we bless new mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation. And today we bless mature mothers who are learning to let go.

Today we bless all mothers: working mothers, stay-at-home mothers, single mothers, and married mothers. We also bless all women in life giving and nurturing roles. We thank you. We honor you. We bless you. Amen.

- adapted from a prayer of Dan Bottorff

Thursday, May 5, 2011

An Interview

Thank you to all who read my essay "Ashes" over at r.kv.r.y. and left me kind comments about the work. I really do appreciate it.

If you are interested, the editors of r.kv.r.y. interviewed me about my writing and how loss is incorporated into my work. The link is here, if you want to read it (you will have to scroll down the page a bit).

(Self-promotion does not come naturally to me, so thanks.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

"Stillbirths Matter to People"

I'm sharing this video from Lancet TV, an arm of the British medical journal The Lancet, which published the study about stillbirth I mentioned in my last post. Richard Horton, editor-in-chief of that journal, made some wonderful remarks about stillbirth and how the tragedy of stillbirth has yet to become an important issue in maternal/fetal health today.

Please watch it, and pass it on. Knowledge begets understanding, and people need to know.

Richard Horton on Stillbirths » Maternal Health Task Force