On giving up

Henry would have been a work-week old today (that’s five days if you’re unemployed like me).

I still very much want a baby – one that lives. And I’m to-the-universe-and-back frustrated that I don’t have Henry to hold in my arms. If I sit and think about it too long, I may just start scratching the walls.

And, to be indiscreet, we’re not ‘as lucky’ as we were the first time. We’ve even gone for fertility tests. And I’m trying not to panic. It feels like parenting my own live child is a far-fetched fantasy that is painstakingly easy for others to achieve.

And I’d like to whine and complain for a few seconds about my misfortune in job-hunting. It seems that for the first time in my life, the well is dry. I’ve never had this much difficulty finding work.

 

Maybe there’s a gnome following my applications and story pitches through the interwebs, whispering in prospective employer’s ears about my shortcomings, eclipsing my virtues and sending me to the poorhouse, or just flat out telling them not to open my email because I smell like cat farts and wet my pants every day at 2:15, scaring off other employees. Or the gnome is telling prospective editors and publishers that I write like an elementary school child, and don’t know how to use proper punctuation or compose a decent nut-graf (one of the first sentences that tells you “oh, that’s what this article is about!”).

I is an JERNALIST!

I is an JERNALIST!

 

It’s not rock-bottom – it’s the asteroid belt. I’m swirling around and around and I’ve lost sight of my home planet. It’s enough to make me feel like giving up. The grass on your side of the fence is much greener than mine, you see. Mostly because mine is buried under three feet of ice and snow. Literally and symbolically.

Woe is me. I’m chugging along miserably on my one-lady pity train – the Bellybutton Express. I know there’s stops coming up where I can get off , stretch my legs, and prance far away from the noise of the pity party. There is a light at the end of this farcical tunnel. I just wish I could get there faster.

So that one day…

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You aren’t alone

This post is written in honour of the parents who have shared their stories of loss with me, miscarriages consisting of the bulk of them. While I didn’t suffer a miscarriage, Henry’s disease is so rare that I doubt I’ll ever meet another parent who has lost a child to osteogenesis imperfecta type 2. Losing a child, no matter how the loss occurred, is absolutely devastating, and needs to be recognized by your friends and family.

I’ve been in contact with some parents whose children are suffering a terminal condition, and if it’s anything like the few days I spent between wondering, finding out, and deciding what to do about Henry, I can assure the rest of the world for you that these days are difficult and dark, but also that you are tenacious and brave.

If you’re not one of these parents, and you don’t know what to say to us, that’s OK. We were like you before our own losses. I came across a post yesterday that brilliantly summarized what to say, and what not to say to those of us who have lost a child. Please have a read here.

If you have lost a child, the book “When your child dies” by Nagel and Clark is very helpful. It validates every type of child loss in short, succinct paragraphs, and gives empowering healing tools for parents, like breathing techniques, creating memorials for your child, honouring important dates, expressing and accepting your grief no matter what form it’s in (sorrow, anger, regret, relief), and imagining what you want in the future (for me, that idea is far-fetched right now, but I’m glad its covered in the book).

This book brought on a wave of shock when it was given to me because the fact that I now owned it meant that my baby was dead. I knew that I gave birth to Henry in the hospital several days prior, and I knew that he wasn’t alive when he was born, but this book was a physical recognition of my devastation and loss.

We all grieve differently, but one thing I have had in common with some parents who have shared their stories with me is that messages of faith actually do not help. Hearing that it wasn’t meant to be makes me feel like I just lucked out of winning at a gambling machine. Hearing that losing a child or having a sick child was “given” to us because “God knew we could handle it” is a crock of shit to me. And anything that tries to make this event cute, like, now I have a little angel watching over me, is actually quite painful to hear, and diminishes my experience. These are covered in the article that I mentioned above. But if spiritual and faith-based messages help, that’s great – you have to take what works for you. But because I don’t believe in that, it doesn’t work for me. And if you’ve expressed any of these to me, I still thank you for it, because there’s no way for you to know what I need to hear. Not even I know sometimes.

No thanks.

I spent time searching for support groups online, and I came across a few websites that I found beautiful, inspiring, and made me feel as though I wasn’t alone.

Still Standing Magazine posts articles, stories, resources, special dates and more. They publish poems weekly on Sundays, and often have calls for submissions for stories, which I hope to participate in one day.

Small Bird Studios and Carly Marie Project Heal are amazing sites run by two mothers finding ways to express their grief. I think they know each other, too. Each site is beautiful, and reach out to parents through crafts, sharing stories of loss, and recognizing important dates for parents of loss worldwide. I sing praises for these women. They have been a real source of comfort for me. Carly Marie has worked to have international days of awareness for infant loss and infertility. The entire month of October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, and her beautiful work has helped push this month and its pinnacle date, October 15, into the spotlight.

I have isolated myself for nearly a month, but I have rarely felt alone thanks to the resources I have mentioned, and the constant flow of love and support I’ve felt from friends, family and colleagues.

As one parent who shared her story of loss with me said, the more we talk about our experiences, the more comfort we can feel. Whether you have fertility complications, have had miscarriages, stillbirths, have a child who is living but you don’t know for how long, had a child who was only with you for too short a time, or you’re like us and had to choose to end your child’s life due to a fatal genetic disease, you are unique, but you aren’t alone.