Still born

My goodness, it’s been a while. Let’s catch up a bit.

Right now, I’m sitting on my bed while my family hangs out/be crazy/clean up after dinner. I’m supposed to be working on a 20-page term paper on governance and fair trade coffee, because I am a grad student now out of Athabasca University (yaaay!). I was so cripplingly bored and antsy after we moved across the country that I dove in about two years ago. It’s great, but I also have to do the self-discipline thing and actually find the bits of motivation needed, like some buried chocolate in a crappy chocolate chip muffin that is mostly just dry cake, to get things done. Why is this challenging? Well, because I have two bambinos now.

They are everything, but it’s also important for me to not just identify as a mommy. I’m not a mom, I’m their mom, uniquely for them. I’m also a bunch of other things. Another thing I am today is reflective on what Henry means to me after I gave birth to two living children, now 3.5 years old, and 8 months old.

I find myself feeling guilty whenever I lose patience with my toddler, because I should be savouring every second. Also, I do a lot of self-admonishion for feeling that guilt, because momming is fucking hard and challenging, and when there are two of them? At the same time? Fuuuuuuuuuuck, man. Sometimes, my face doesn’t even look like me. My eyes are glaze-y, my nose looks chunkier, I have this big ‘ol mom belly that’s kinda dangly and wiggly, but, I’m strong as fuck. Which is why I was prepared for what life threw at me today.

This morning, a beloved friend was asking me for advice of the worst kind. What should she do for her friend who delivered a still born baby last night? A lot of my answer can be found in this very blog, but basically, there’s nothing you can do. Our friend (or not friend? Or, really doesn’t matter how you relate because too bad) time will chip away at the raw, blistering pain at a life event that just cannot make sense. One thing hit me hard and stayed with me throughout the day — that she couldn’t believe she had to leave the hospital without her baby.

She could not leave the hospital with her baby.

Let that sink in.

I had to do that, too. If you’ve never done that, then you have not walked through the dark valley of hell that is walled with flames, spikes, crying, silent babies, and the oncoming onslaught of offensive images that is other people leaving the hospital with their babies. This woman, who my friend knows, is going through this right now.

The worst thing that can happen to a parent is going on so close to me, and it all comes flooding back, as if I’m also just leaving the hospital, in a fog, just trying to cope. My body compensated by developing a years-long facial tic that makes me feel like I can’t blink hard enough, almost like my body wants to shield my eyes from the pain my waking self is living.

Life is so fickle sometimes. Some babies live, some die, and the only thing separating you from those horrible moments is the time between now and then. It doesn’t matter that I have two amazing, healthy children. They don’t erase Henry, they don’t replace Henry. Henry was and always will be the first, and will always be the great mystery of my life, and my greatest loss. My two living kids bounce along in a joyful raft around the island of my loss, and more and more, that island gets sprinkles of the confetti that is the happiness from my two kids. It’s all still there, but the look is changing. I still wear my locket, and always will. but I don’t feel compelled to tell people who compliment me on it that it’s full of my baby’s ashes. He’s gone, but he was still born, just like my friend’s child. The only advice I can really give for her is, hold on tight, this is going to hurt. But you’ll surface again, so take your time.

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One, seven, one

I’m really not sure which blog this post should belong to. Since it’s an emotional time of year for me, I’ll let it live here.

One

This Saturday will be my first child’s birth and death day. On September 28, 2012 at 11:13 a.m., my beautiful son, Henry, was born broken and sleeping.

Life has irrevocably changed.

I’m less patient and more patient. I’m less understanding and more compassionate. I’m less tolerant and more tolerant. I’m less hopeful and more pessimistic. Who I am doesn’t really matter. This doesn’t make much sense because losing a child doesn’t make any sense. Life is on a random-generating system, and I’m just a marble rolling around bumping in to things, trying to squeak out a living.

Seven

Tomorrow, on September 26, I will be celebrating seven years with Henry’s dad. Life with him does make sense, and the love I feel for him anchors me. I’m proud to be someone he chooses to spend his life with, which helps shine a light through my wretchedness, essentially making me lighten up and see life isn’t all bad.

A quick Google search will bring up items on there being seven-year cycles. Your body is new after completely regenerating all its cells, then there’s the seven-year itch, and seven is a lucky number, yadda yadda. Appropriately, this year is going to be our last September anniversary. On March 14, we’re getting married, giving us a new date to celebrate.

One

And finally, in one month, if all goes well, Henry will have a little brother. Someone who shared the same space he did within me, and will fill our days with a sleepy contentment that we can achieve parenthood together. A little blue-eyed, delicate human that we made and will raise in our own loving, quirky way.  He’ll have a step-brother, but equally important, we will teach him who Henry was, that he’ll always have another brother no matter what comes. All of this just blows my mind.

I feel reflective, and only slightly willing to peer down the twisting path that has brought me here today. Growing up, I never wanted children. Never wanted to get married. But life shook and rattled me, making me change my mind and seek out stability, companionship and love.

All of this makes me so tired, and sigh deeply. Life is hard work. I’m surprised I’m not more of a hedonist, where I feel it’s okay to escape life and go live out my days getting drunk on a tropical beach, not worrying about a thing.

But it is what it is. Random situation generator, marbles, and all. Even after the death of a child – that horrifying nightmare, that thing that’s not supposed to happen – here we are, one year later. Waiting to see where the marble will roll to next. Hopefully not in some dusty corner.

Grief nostalgia??

I was getting supper ready for my bunnies and listening to Vanessa by Grimes when I was hit with a wave of nostalgia for my intense and dark period of grief not long after I lost Henry.

I’m trying to understand it.

It could be that it’s a time when I felt closer to Henry than I do now.

It was autumn. We were waiting to collect Henry’s ashes from Mount Royal cemetery  I did nothing but grieve, cry, blog, and think about Henry in those days.

I think about my son every day. That hasn’t changed. Will never change.

The sudden onset of nostalgia took me by surprise.

Why would I have feelings of longing for a time in my life drenched in tears, living in a cocoon, wanting desperately to join my son, and feeling like my life was worthless if I couldn’t hold my baby? (rhetorical question!! please don’t try to understand it or explain it to me. If i dont’ get it, this complex sea of emotions, then you certainly won’t! Thanks!)

It’s a pleasant experience. Remembering being immersed in the shadow of my baby. Even if it’s marred with sharp grief on the jagged cliffs of pregnancy loss. Maybe this is the part of the grieving process I was told would turn to bittersweet.

Thanks Grimes.

 

September emotional imprint/the Flowerbutts

Before I can even mentally process it, my body reacts to hearing or reading the word September. I’m zip-lined to an unreal time of formidable tragedy. I’m brought to the mouth of a cave that echoes, “Death and Henry are in here,” and I feel the heavy bellowing, damp air emanating from the depths of the cave, and I sit down at its mouth and gaze, hypnotized. I imagine it will always be this way.

It was like this, though not as intense, when I lost my dad. He died on the birthday of a good friend of mine, and was buried on my birthday almost 10 years ago. August is a month of sadness where before, it was celebratory. Now, the month carries a shadow, but I have so many wonderful memories of my dad that the tragedy of his sudden passing doesn’t cause August to be a brooding affair any more.

Tragedy and horrible life events seem to piggyback significant dates in my family. My Aunt had a stroke on Easter this year, my Grandfather died on Easter when I was a child, and we lost Henry two days after our six-year anniversary, at the end of September. It will be interesting to see how much we can stomach celebrating our seventh this year when two days following will be the first anniversary of the death of our first child together.

This is pretty cheesy and melodramatic, but our life is a rose for the beauty and thorns, and if you pay attention and move past the delicate inviting smell, the thorns are by far the most impressive part of the flower’s anatomy. We should change our last names to Thornjumper. Or Flowerbutt.

Image courtesy of http://fineartamerica.com/featured/rose-n-thorns-kevin-middleton.html Title: Rose N Thorns Artist: Kevin Middleton

Image courtesy of http://fineartamerica.com/featured/rose-n-thorns-kevin-middleton.html
Title: Rose N Thorns
Artist: Kevin Middleton

 

Living in two zones

It’s been an interesting few months. I’ve been very quiet about some new developments because it’s something I once simultaneously seethed jealously over while feeling repulsed, and yearned for with every fibre of my being.

I’ve been expressing these confusing emotions on another blog, and that’s all I’ll say for now!

I’m living in grief for my beloved one who is gone, terror because of what I know could happen next, and happiness for what could be.

I still want to be quiet about it, which is why I’m only publishing this on WordPress and not my usual channels. But putting this out now feels right.

Thanks for reading!

Soggy, wet

When I think back to the last few months of my life, and remember the deep, heavy grief I lived with for months on end, the first adjectives that come to mind are: sodden, heavy, wet, drenched, marooned, but not drowned. I didn’t drown.

A grief councillor told me two weeks ago that we heal at our own individual pace, but that it starts second by second, then minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, and so on.

If I think of my grief this way, and it resonates with me (I felt like the world was throwing me off – life just wasn’t a real, tangible thing. My life was worthless without Henry), I see myself in an endless lake. I’m in the middle, vertical. Static, unmoving. The sky is grey, water is murky and grey. I don’t care what might be swimming underneath. In fact, I wished something would just drag me down under so the pain would stop. Even for a minute. Please?

Screen Shot 2013-04-18 at 10.14.20 PM

After seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months – I realize there’s been a canoe next to me the entire time. I didn’t know it was there or who put it there, and I never looked around where I had been floating upright, with the water tickling my nostrils, and never fully submerged for long. I didn’t want to see what was around me, and I didn’t need to, but suddenly – canoe!

I don’t want to escape – don’t need to retreat or leave the deep, dark lake, but I get in the canoe. I feel like I’ve been paddling in the canoe, no destination in mind, no destination desired. I’m not as heavy as I started out. Not as soggy. I can lift my head. I can rotate by body. I certainly couldn’t before.

I have shed sentimentality, shyness, and even some patience. If you’re a whiner – a complainer – I have no time for you, and I won’t even waste my time telling you I have no time for you. I have sloughed off a loose skin that was ultra-sensitive. Floating in the water has helped me transform in certain ways, tightened up, like a rock with many faces. I adore, love stronger, and I shove off stronger. That’s what my grief has done for my life, for better or for worse. And I don’t feel guilty any more for feeling joy.

How has grief transformed you?