Saturday, January 30, 2010

Long overdue

I've wanted to blog all week. A hard and long week filled with a lot of negative emotions and losing battles against them. I wanted to vent to you, my support group, but there is a pathetic fear with me now because I know that not all the people in my life are supporters. Some are critisizers. Some are quite confident, having never lost a baby, that I am doing this all quite wrong! And they may not comment on this blog, but you bet they look at it and at my life and disect and comment to their shallow heart's content.
Well, it's a sad day when you cower to your critisizers. They certainly don't help you move forward, so why act - or not act - based on them? My husband keeps gently telling me that now is a hard time; now is a time to surround myself with people who support me and who know that what I feel is totally normal, and that how I act is too.
I'm grateful for him. I know he's right. But it's all cute on paper to say, "surround yourself with support" when often in reality the people foremost in our lives aren't the ones who really get us. What then? Maybe it's time to openly make some enemies! What kind of Christian am I if I go in that direction though? I'm confused.

I feel angry sometimes at this life. I want to be so many things, and while in the past it was hard to realize who I wanted to be, it was nothing compared to now! How many of you are like me, who want to be loving supportive friends? But now that you're living in post-dead-baby-land you can hardly look friends in the eye? Sometimes for no apparant reason... like today, my son's 8th birthday party. I saw some friends and almost burst into tears --- still not sure why. I just thought, "I'm not strong enough to do this today" and when I saw them I wanted to collapse into their arms.
One of my sweet friends just had her 4th baby. She wanted a fourth, she got a fourth. She had her about 3 weeks early, just because her body does that naturally - and of course her baby was fine. I am happy for her. I was happy after her baby was home safe and sound because I knew that she will never have to be me - to live in my terrible world. I wouldn't wish it on anyone. But then I saw her out in public less than a week after her baby was born. She had the teeny thing with her. I wasn't ready to see the baby. But what could I do? I squirmed and swallowed tears. I practiced fake smiles. And my heart broke all over again for my dead little girl. I said to God in my mind, "Were you aware when you sent me this trial that not only would my personal life be hard, not only would my husband and mother and my children be broken apart, but that my friendshipping skills would be deraled too?" I thought about this friend and I a year ago... I was pregnant with my son. She talked about getting pregnant with her last. She supported me. I supported her. We "lunched" as young mothers do! If he had been born like normal, I'd be giving her baby equipment right now. I'd have thrown her a little shower, because that's what my instincts are to do. I would have given her clothes and toys and lots of supportive phone calls. Claire would have never been born. As it is, now I barely give her baby a smile and a brush of my hand, because God knows I can't hold that child. Now I run away and I cry when no one is around. I want to be a better friend. But it is what it is. Our kids will never know each other, never even get the chance to be friends or not. Now we will never be as close as what could have been.

I had a mother tell me recently, literally tell me how nice she is to me and "what have I done for her lately? Nothing." Ha! She had a healthy little girl the same weekend I was scheduled to have my daughter, by the way.  How could I tell this woman, with NO clue what it's like to live in my life, just what I have done for her? She will never know. She will tell herself how nice she is because she engages in small social niceties. She will confidently know that she is such a great person and I am so small, so selfish.
What do I do for her? Some of you who've lost babies wonder that I even have seen her at all, you can't imagine. Well, I went to her babies' special blessing day and didn't once mention my daughter. I didn't once cry. I was shaking before we went. I was crying. But it's not her or her baby's fault that this is my life. So I showed up and did as I should have, keeping it about them. I went to all functions relating to her and her baby and myself. I certanly didn't hold her baby (probably to her anger) but I didn't make any emotional scenes either. No one would have wanted that. Isn't that how it is, ladies? We're supposed to just play nice and don't make scenes? Keep the mess to ourselves. She, in her blissful ignorance, will never know what that takes. Only other mothers like you know. Only fathers with dead children know. Only you know how one day publically around babies so soon after your's are buried brings about two weeks of depression suffered at home.

I'm so grateful you have told me your stories. You don't know how you have saved my life! I'm thankful to you, Cortney for sharing with me how you didn't go to a baby shower for about 2 years while you suffered through your multiple miscarriages. I'm so relieved, Angie, to read about all your bad days on your blog and how you struggle to be a good mother to your living children when it's so hard to get out of bed because you miss your dead ones. I'm so inspired and even a little jealous, Denise, that you had no problem telling an old girlfriend who didn't seem to care much about your twins when they died that you just didn't have room for her in your life anymore. You women are so honest with what you are dealing with and you aren't apologetic for it. I hope to get to that place. I know this is a hard road to recovery, and I have a hunch that such protective stances make the journey down it a little less bumpy.

Two days ago I got myself in a pickle. A sweet couple from church had complications during delivery and almost lost their baby. That was about 3 weeks ago. They have been in the hospital fighting for her life ever since. I wanted to go see them so badly and give them an understanding ear, but why the HELL would they want to see me? I am like the grim reaper, announcing death when I walk in the door! I thought I better stay away so as not to remind them that some babies don't make it. Their's was able to come home two days ago! Of course someone asked me to take them dinner because I had been so vocally concerned about them during the whole process. I wanted to do whatever I could. Until the day actually came! I cried all day. All I could think was, 'why did they get the chance to fight for their baby and my baby only got a mere 3 hours before doctors told us to give up?' Why didn't we get to fight for her? I wrestled all day. I got a few things out of the wrestle - one, a feeling that God loved my baby. No understanding as to whys, but I felt like he said, "I loved Claire so much. I was with your doctors." And I was aware that she's in a better state now, not hurting at all like I am. Also, my friend Dawn called and invited my family over for dinner. She didn't know anything about my day, but she was thinking of me and I felt loved by her. I felt like my family would be looked after.  Also, I called Denise, who's lost 3 babies, and she exclaimed, "I've been thinking about you all day!" I just got a sense that I wasn't alone in this motherhood trial and my life is going to be okay because I have not been left alone.
I thought I'd fall back on my husband and have him take dinner over. But he had to work late so it was all me. What a sweet couple and a tender little girl. Of course, I did NOT try to hold the baby or get too close because I didn't want to burst into tears and ruin their moment. They might have percieved me as insensative because I was in and out pretty quickly. But if so, that's okay. I am getting used to people not understanding me! On a side note, they named their little girl Bailey, the name I have always wanted to name one of my kids, the name one of you mothers named your lost girl (can't remember which blog, sorry), the name that's always been special and stand out to me. I left the house with the "Welcome Bailey" sign and smiled, "Welcome Bailey. You may not have been able to come to me, but you came to them, and they will take good care of you. It is as it's meant to be."
I'm grateful the day is over. I'm glad to have been able to do something small for them and I am glad it's over too! I feel like someone who ran a marathon that they didn't feel in shape enough for, but they finished nonetheless. I feel like that a lot, in a lot of little moments that are just plain unglorious to EVERYONE else around! Talk about being humbled.

Listen, grievers. I know what it's like to lose someone you love. I fell to the floor in anguish when I got the call that my dad shot himself in the head two years ago. The day I followed my husband into the room where it happened and cleaned up his blood is in a special place in the front of my mind. I will never forget that experience. But I would clean up the site of a thousand suicides rather than lose another baby. I don't know why. I'm not saying that to lesson the suicide, because it's terrible and unforgettable. It changes familys forever. But there is something so much deeper in letting go of your own flesh, innocent flesh that had no choice. In letting go of hopes that will only ever live in your heart, in quiet moments of dreaming. I'm grateful for my perspective, because having been in mourning on multiple occasions, I don't feel so WEAK that this process is outstandingly crippling. With every death of a loved one, part of me changed. But with the deaths of my son and daughter, all of me crumpled and cracked and fell to dust. It's a thorough rebuilding now, I guess. I don't know why it's like this, but I know it is like this.

If you have made it all the way to the end of this, thanks for reading! I am comforted in the rant. I hope to connect to you who know how I feel. Some friends, like Heather and Andrea and Bri and Barbara really seem to get me even though they haven't had to face this. I am sure there are others as well, so please forgive me for not mentioning you. Please don't feel isolated when I talk to "other mothers and fathers". You have an amazing gift of empathy that few in this life are given. I'm inspired by your love for others. And I am SO grateful you are in my life. What would I do if left alone? My poor husband might have to commit me!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Capturing the Brief Life and Death of an Infant

My good friend sent me this link to a brief audio clip about one mother's infant death experience and her photographer. I hope you enjoy it.

 Capturing The Brief Life And Death Of An Infant

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Help For Dads

We delivered our last two babies 10 months apart in the same hospital. In that span of time, one gift was added to the standard packet they give "widowed" parents. It was a book tucked into the folder that the hospital social worker hands out. The tiny book was called  A Guide For Fathers When a Baby Dies, by Tim Nelson. He had a stillborn daughter, Kathleen. He said he wrote an article about his experience: "because my wife, Monica and I were the only ones to ever see her, hold her and tell her we loved her, I felt a strong need to share her story with others." That article is in the book as well many helpful notes such as,
The Early Hours
If you Have Other Children
The Arrangements
Going Home
Back To Work

Luckily, my husband found and read this book while we were in the hospital. He was immensely comforted reading someone's thoughts who many times, mirrored his own. He was grateful for the advice and counsel. Even if it's been a while since your baby's passing, I recommend this book for fathers. It's a rare male voice they can identify with.
I'm so thankful that the hospital social worker is never satisfied with current resources and seeks new ones for her patients. Each little resource helps.
You can get a copy of the book by going to A link for it is also under my Helpful Hints section.