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.

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.

 

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?

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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?

Writers block!

I’ve been very fortunate in my career as a journalist in that deadlines ensure writers block is never really an issue. But I successfully pitched a story idea to one of my editors for an article on the right way to approach someone who experienced perinatal loss. And now I have to move a boat stuck in the mud out of the way in order to complete this article in time.

It’s such a heavy subject, and while the publication does tackle tough subjects sometimes, the overall tone is relatively lighthearted. I feel stuck. I could go in many directions. I don’t want to overwhelm readers and have a negative tone and sound like a wounded puppy, but I want to communicate how hurtful some platitudes are downright insulting and mean, even though they come from a place of goodwill. Unless you’ve been in it, you don’t know how stupid some of things you say might be. I want this article to be insightful and helpful, and at the same time, let other women who have lost a baby know about resources that can help them heal.

So how am I supposed to do that in 800 words?????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Best Moment Award

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It’s with much thanks and gratitude that I accept WordPress’ Best Moment Award, thanks to Moment Matters.

There are words an music that accompany this award:

Awarding the people who live in the moment,
The noble who write and capture the best in life,
The bold who reminded us what really mattered –
Savoring the experience of quality time.

I was nominated by Mike, from Mike’s Film Talk, for my Easter blog post Someone else who lost a child. I’m honoured and tickled that you would think of me, Mike – thank you so much! You;re also incredibly deserving of this award, and i’m very thankful that you’ve passed it my way, all the way across the pond 🙂 I never knew the blogosphere held such supportive and diverse members, and i’m so happy to be part of that, even though what brought me here was the most tragic event of my life.

The rules of accepting this award are:

Rules:

Winners repost this completely with their acceptance speech. This speech may be written or video taped (vlogged)

Winners have the privilege of awarding the next recipients. The re-post should have a new set of people/blogs that are worthy of this award and then you have to tell the new folks that you’ve chosen.

I’m not being original in my acceptance speech, because the one Mike posted, which was posted from the person he accepted the award from, leaves nothing to add on my sentiment. The following aren’t my words, but they ring true:

Acceptance Speech:

I accept this award with gratitude and heartfelt appreciation.

For any person who takes the time to look at my blog, I am truly grateful.

For every person that likes my blog, I am thankful.

When a person leaves a comment on my blog, I am inspired to continue blogging.

For each person who interacts with me, I am elated.

For any person who Follows me, my face lights up with pleasure.

For every blogger who shares their knowledge, wisdom and thoughtfulness, I am blessed to be in your company.

Every moment in life is precious, so make sure you do everything you can to cherish and enjoy it.

Now, according to me, the next winners of the Best Moment Award are:

Tersia Burger

Transitions and a medically complex child

Rarasaur

And the last step is to Tweet this award with #MomentMatters.

Et voila!

Keeping to myself

When my story was finally published yesterday in Exhale Literary Magazine, it made me realize that expressing my grief publicly has run its course, for now. I’m still heartbroken over the loss of Henry. A part of me will always be sad. But the purpose and urgency to blog that I had when I first lost him has changed.

I think that’s why I haven’t really been blogging lately. My grief has moved to an internal, private space.

I’m not normally too sentimental, but I’ve always appreciated and been very grateful for every comment and bit of support we’ve received. But yesterday, reading some of the reactions from my published article actually made me go “yeah, yeah.” Well meaning, lovely, thoughtful comments that would normally make me cry and feel loved and held.

It’s probably another stage of grief. Acceptance? Dealing with it? Needing space and time? Needing to not delve in to losing my child every time someone asks me how I’m doing? It’s part of who I am, just as much as my nose is part of my face. It’s always there, and I don’t always need to talk about it.

This isn’t’ a signoff. I’ve just been keeping to myself, and I’m comfortable this way, for now. Winter has turned to spring not only in the physical world, it seems. And writing about it has really helped a lot.

But there are milestones. Birthdays, original due dates, anniversaries. An endless list of firsts that Henry never got to surmount.  In fact, on the 28th of this month, it will be six months since I delivered Henry. Six months since this little person who never got to take a breath of air, cry, or look at him mother, lived and died. And changed my world forever.