Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Trading in some baggage

I had a lot of baggage from my first birth. Prior to Myles, giving birth to Simone was simultaneously the best day and the worst day of my entire life. I had this 'terrible' birth. She came five weeks early, before my baby shower, before my birth plan, before I bought a single diaper. I said yes to induction (cytotec) which I now regret, my water was broken without my permission, the epidural was coerced, my doctor said she was going to give me an episiotomy no matter what (when I was 5cm). She was right about that. In addition to my 3rd degree episiotomy, my DD was born with forceps in a room off a NICU and she was whisked away. I didn't see her for an hour, didn't attempt nursing for four hours.

In hindsight, it was not any one intervention that upset me. It was the way I was treated; like an object. I was made to feel ashamed and scared and out of control. It was awful. As soon as it was over and I had my darling baby, it was pure love at first sight, but my initial reaction to the actual birth was that I wanted another try. I wanted to do it again, right that day (isn't that insane?).

It took me months to physically heal, I had lots of pain, and some problems with my stitches. Afterwards I was scared to death of my yearly physical (PTSD), so much so that I didn't go back for one for over two years after her birth. I was emotionally scarred, scars only another birth could heal.

This was my baggage. And when I went to my midwife (not the bitch OBGYN I had with Simone) for the first time after learning about my pregnancy with Myles, I bawled and unloaded all of it. I thought I had a lot, and I wanted to let it go. I had something to prove, to me, to myself, with his birth. Some might think that childbirth is just one day, and it is, but it is a day that you will never forget. A positive birth experience is a powerful thing, and a negative one, well, mine haunted me for years. Thus, I instantly saw my pregnancy with Myles as my second chance, perhaps my last chance, to get it right.

That dream was almost shattered when I went into preterm labor with Myles at 28 weeks. I didn't think there was anything worse than a premature birth, my son in the hospital for 10 weeks. My vision of a natural water birth was gone. My worst case scenario for Myles was premature birth, I never imagined anything worse was out there. I was so naive. But after many weeks of bed rest, battling depression, I achieved my dream. I made it to term. My water birth was once again in sight, and I was SO EXCITED to give birth to my dear son. I did hypnobirthing, and a big part of preparation was imagining and visualizing your perfect birth experience. Imagine I did.

Never did I imagine at 37 weeks to the day, that I would lose my son. Never did I imagine that his heartbeat would be there on a Tuesday and gone on a Friday. But Myles didn't leave without giving me a gift. I got my water birth, except for the most important piece (my sweet boy), it was everything I had ever dreamed and more. It hurt (there is no word adequate to describe the pain of childbirth) but I was surrounded by my loved ones; my caregivers were AMAZING, they wanted whatever I wanted. And I gave birth to my son in an hour, completely naturally, with everyone listening to me and honoring my body and my wishes.

So, Myles gave me the gift of healing. I was able to let go of the fears and worries and questions that haunted me from four long years before. But I didn't just drop off some baggage that day. I picked up some new baggage, baggage I never wanted to carry, baggage that no one should ever have to carry. It's a heavy load, though I've had some help here and there, it is for the most part my burden alone. And it is overwhelming. But the experience; to be simultaneously healed and scarred on the same day, to have my dream birth, and lose my dream baby. Well, it was the worst day and the best day of my entire life. It was the day I met and lost my son. It was the day I dropped off what I thought was some major baggage only to find out life had a much greater load waiting for me to haul around this world.

And now I realize, to be pregnant, to give birth, to have a child, is an amazing journey. It is an experience that takes place in that gray area between birth and death; it brings not only fear and immense heartache, but also love and healing and strength. I don't know if I will have another pregnancy, another birth, another baby. But I do know that it is all worth it. This is life, and it's cruel AND beautiful, and I'm not going to give up on the beautiful in order to avoid the cruel. So I want another baby, a hundred babies, because they are worth it a million times over. And I'll carry this baggage forever, losing my son will hurt me every day for the rest of my life, but maybe my next baby will help ease my load a little, and maybe (s)he'll have a new lesson for me as well.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I have no title, just sad

My life these past weeks has been a haze. I think I've been walking around in shock, going through the motions with little comprehension of what's going on around me. My brain is mush, it's gone. I have no short or long term memory (no it's not the weed, LOL) and I rarely experience any strong emotion; except when I do, and then it's immense pain and sadness and anger and everything bad you can feel. I take no real joy in anything (not even food) even though I manage to smile or even joke around or make light conversation, it's more out of a sense social obligation than from feelings of happiness. The major exception is Simone, of course. Looking at her face, hearing her crazy ponderings about this world still brings me a genuine smile, and I'm thankful for that. If something happened to her, I would kill myself. Period. I realized that today when my sister took her to NP. I'm so scared of something happening to her now. I couldn't do this again.

I've thought a lot about my death since I had my postpartum appt. with my midwife. She referred to me as an 'angel', and felt it necessary to reiterate how close I was to dying. I hadn't thought much of it until then, and then I thought what a sick tragedy that would've been for DD and DH, and all who love me. But if it weren't for Simone and my family, it wouldn't have bothered me that much. Even when they were wheeling me into surgery, I thought 'this is it', and I was at peace with it. I was wheeled past most of my loved ones, and I saw their faces, and I felt at the time like I was saying my last goodbye.

But here I am. I was wrong. I didn't die. But part of me died. And I don't really like the 'new me'. And I don't like life much anymore even. I think what is bothering me today is just putting together my CV (like a resume) and realizing how far off track I am from where I wanted to be. And I feel like I've let everyone down. I know I've let myself down, but I feel like I've let everyeone down, and I have absolutely no desire anymore to do any of it, so I know that I will continue to let them down. And it's depressing because I've made them expect so much over the years. But now I don't care. I don't care about anything anymore on days like this.

Imagining myself, sitting down with my committee, and going through evaluations, and telling them what I've 'accomplished' and what I'm going to do next year, and yada yada yada. I feel like I'm going to be making promises I can't keep, the whole thing is going to be one big line of bullshit. And it makes me feel like shit to know that because these people believe in me. But I'm not the same old me. I'm not excited about research. I'm not excited about next year, or getting publications. I don't believe in me. Why should I put any effort in trying to get them to believe in me? And I don't want them to pity me either. And above all, I dont want to make excuses, and promises, and tell them everything is fine, or will be fine. Because I don't know anymore. I don't know anything.

So, I'm sorry to unload my depression on all of you. I've tried to shield all of you for the most part from my turmoil (except for my bad poetry). I've been posting on a message board with other bereaved parents, and they get most of my late night rants that would've, under any other circumstance, gone to you all. I know there isn't much you can say (please don't tell me to get help, LMAO, I am) but I always feel better after writing my woes on here for some reason.

Please don't worry. I've been here before, and I'll be here again; wallowing. But I will feel better tomorrow, I will forget this. And I'll finish my CV and write my personal statement, and I'll feel like a lie, but I'll go through the motions just like every other day and maybe one of these days I'll be able to better understand the 'new' me, and not loathe her so much.

Dear Myles

I don't believe in heaven, but if I could say something to my son, this is what I would say. So, for what it's worth, I thought I would share.

Dear Myles,
I often feel so sad for you. That your time on this earth was so brief, you had so little chance to change this world for the better. I've had my whole life and can't boast it yet, but I had such high hopes for you. If you had lived, I have no doubt you would've rocked this world. It pains me to think you and I don't have anymore than what we had, all those weeks and months waiting and preparing, but for nothing. What we had is what we got, and then it was over. The world didn't know you as I wanted, and it would've been a better place with you in it. My world was a better place with you in it, that's how I know.

I guess I wish you could know that what happened was not your fault. You didn't mean to break my heart. It pains me to think that your legacy is one of broken hearts. That the only thing to come of all of your short life is grief and mourning and disappointed hopes. I can't stand the thought of it. So much sadness and loss; that's not you.

I wish you could know that you didn't cause my broken heart. LOSING YOU is what shattered my heart. Though I never had you in my arms; I, we, everyone, had this precious dream of you. I had your future, our future, before us. And I didn't know what it entailed, but it filled my heart with such joy to ponder how you would be. What you might do in this world. Today those same thoughts fill my heart with such sorrow. To have them taken away; from you, from me, from Dad. All without reason. But I don't want your impact on my world to be negative. I don't want the outcome of your birth to spoil those dreams. Because they were wonderful dreams.

I already knew you, you know? You were a 'mover and a shaker' to quote myself at about 18 weeks. I never worried about you, not my little Myles. You always gave us such good signs. Big and strong, you were such a constant comfort to me. I always had such faith in you, that you were a fighter. Even if you were born early; you had this vivacious spirit. You danced, my boy, plain and simple. You made so many people smile. I think of the countless people who felt you kick, everyone I know and love. B and Simone of course, but all the family knew your presence. You let your presence be known. You were not someone to be trifled with, despite the fact you were in my tummy. You were a little piece of me, and Dad; another Simone. What a personality!

Myles, you had a positive impact on this world. Even in that short time. The dream of you was wonderful. We thrived on that dream. And just because it's lost didn't mean it wasn't worthwhile when we embraced it so fully; when you were alive in my belly and in my dreams. We loved it then. We loved you then. We love you now. You were part of us then, and I know we were a part of you. We were a family, if only for a few short months. And without you we will never be a whole family again. Not so long as I live. But I will be damned if your legacy is your absence. We will honor your life. I will work hard to make sure those tiny footprints you left in my heart turn into a large footprint in this world. And that will be my lifes' work. Everything I will do, I will do for you.

Just know, sweet boy, that although my heart is broken, it is not your fault. You were an amazing little man, even though we never saw you alive, we knew your spirit. We knew your energy. You made us laugh and smile and dream. And for that I thank you. Because you were worth it. You were worth every sacrifice. I didn't know it then, I thought I was miserable. But I was just tired. And even at my most troubled moments, it was always the thought of you that would lift my spirits. I remember (after weeks of bed rest and other ailments) describing that dream once to my best friend. I just described how excited I was to hold you in my arms and have you home. How decadent. How luxurious. My own soft, new, tiny, beautiful, sweet baby. All mine. And it was so exciting it took my breath away. And that in itself is worth something. How you could make my problems melt away; just the thought of you.

You are my dream child, Myles. You will always be my dream child. Your dream kept my hope alive in what I thought were the darkest days. And that is powerful, and you will always have that power over me. I will try to use it to honor you. To help moms and baby's, and also moms with empty arms like mine; to try to do something that makes this world a better place for them and their families. And just because I cry, doesn't mean you weren't everything I'd hoped and dreamed. You were everything I ever wanted, and all in a short 37 weeks. I'm so proud of you. You were amazing, my son!

I will always love you, every second, every day!!!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I have strength, I need courage

You say I have strength . . .

but it's so much harder to have courage.

I liked this poem:

It takes strength to be certain,
It takes courage to have doubts.

It takes strength to fit in,
It takes courage to stand out.

It takes strength to share a friend's pain,
It takes courage to feel your own pain.

It takes strength to hide your own pain,
It takes courage to show it and deal with it.

It takes strength to stand guard,
It takes courage to let down your guard.

It takes strength to conquer,
It takes courage to surrender.

It takes strength to endure abuses,
It takes courage to stop them.

It takes strength to stand alone,
It takes courage to lean on a friend.

It takes strength to love,
It takes courage to be loved.

It takes strength to survive,
It takes courage to live.

~ Unknown ~

Here's to having more courage to go with my strength

Pics of Myles

It's been seven weeks since I lost my precious Myles, and for the first time today I got to see the pictures taken by the photographer. They bring so many mixed emotions, everything seems to these days, but the overpowering emotion they have brought to me is pride. So now I'm just excited to be a gloating mom and show off my baby.

Here they are:

I also want to take this opportunity to talk about stillbirth awareness, or sudden antenatal death syndrom (SADS). I was amazed to discover it is 10 times more common than SIDS, and the number of babies that die of SADS rivals that of breast cancer deaths a year (30,000). Yet it is such a taboo topic, it just doesn't seem to get the press.

One forum I've been on a lot recently is MISS, it's a great community of mourning parents, but also a place for social action. I'm currently working on getting a MISSing Angels bill passed in Nebraska (working the unicameral) which would give certificates of birth resulting in stillbirth to parents. I first heard about it on NPR long before I ever had Myles. Anyway, there has been some pretty recent press coverage of these bills, unfortunately it tends to get embroiled in the abortion debate. Pretty frustrating for somebody as pro-choice as I am as the intent and texts of these bills are all about giving mother's choices.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A good quote

I wanted to share a quote that struck a note for me personally. I've been reading and trying to understand hope in most of my blogs since I lost Myles. Why do we hope, what is it, can I hope again? And double whammy, did I mention that this quote was from Barack Obama's victory speech (yipee) in Iowa?!

"But we always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary [emphasis added], that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it."

It doesn't answer any of my questions (there are no answers), but it felt timely and poignant, and it made me feel like I might be able to hope again. (Of course now I can claim Obama is talking to me from my tv too, which is always a plus. I'll use that to persuade others in the Nebraska caucus on Feb. 9th, LMAO).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Fuck that, Go Barack!

Okay, thanks to a timely (New Year's Eve) call from my brother and SIL (and few drinks), I have to rescind and say that I do have one hope for 2008. In fact, my hopes may be dashed in only a few days, or they may grow larger yet. Please, please, please, I hope so badly that Barack wins Iowa, then N.H. then the whole shbang.

Something in me obviously can still muster to give a shit about politics. Maybe there is hope for me yet, RFLMAO. I never thought I'd envy an Iowan, but go Dust and Lil, caucus your asses off! I wish I were there with you!

Goodbye 2007

Update: I found this quote this morning, it about sums it up. "Losing a parent is like losing the past, losing a child is like losing the future."

My whole world for the last month can be described by one word, ambivalence. I don't know what I want. I feel 20 emotions a day. Anyone who knows me knows there are very few positions in which I'm a 'fence rider'. I've always got my opinions firmly planted on one side or the other. I have even switched sides of the fence, but rarely do I teeter. On the issue of the new year, I'm stuck.

2007 is a conundrum. I think I could easily say, 'Fuck 2007, good riddance'. Part of me feels that way. You might expect I'd welcome a new year, a frest start, maybe something to get me back on my feet. But for some reason, it makes me so sad to say goodbye. Becuase although it was the year my son died, it was also the year my son was born. It was a year defined by my tenacity. My tenacity to finish up my course work, finish my comps, complete the survey for my dissertation. It was a year where I was forced (kicking and screaming) into complete pregnant submission. but I persevered, I even 'successfully' accomplished the goal of my bed rest. My son was 'born' term. When you put it all together, I was miserable, but I did so much. I had so many hopes come through even and I felt like I had so much to look forward to, and so much to be proud of.

2007 was the year of Hope. I had more hopes and dreams than ever before in my life. I'm no stranger to disappointed hopes. I've seen them crumble many times. But I've never questioned my ability to hope again afterwards (okay, maybe after the 2004 elections, something about 4 more years of Bush). But when Myles died, I've never seen my hopes and dreams so completely annhilated. The feeling of it was like watching those hopes, not just dashed to pieces; but beaten to a pulp, then ground into the dirt, then shit on. And much of my recent existential quandaries now revolve around even trying to justify the will to hope. Emotionally, I don't have it in anymore. Logically, I can't see a reason why I ever dared to hope in the first place given my beliefs.

Although I may appear a cynic, its always been my biggest con. I'm a poser. Deep down, I've always been a hopeful person, even to the point of naivete. If anyone asks, I say that I'm sure the worst will happen, but in my mind I always hold out hope for the best. I can think to so many moments in my life where I've been so filled with hope and excitement, it was like my heart could burst. And last year was filled to the brim with that heart-bursting hope. I just forced myself to believe that everything would work out, all would fall into place, and for so much of the year it really appeared it would.

So, saying goodbye to 2007 is quite a sad affair for me. I'm not just saying goodbye to my son again (which I went and did today, and I will continue to do for as long as it takes to set in). It's like I'm saying goodbye to that piece of me that dared to hope. It's like I'm saying goodbye to hope itself. I've already mourned so much, but now I mourn even for the New Year. I've always loved the New Year. So much more than xmas. Why? No, its not the drugs and parties you fucking smart alecs. It was that sense of hope! Hope that maybe, just maybe, the next year will be better than the last. And this year, I don't fucking have it. I feel like there is nothing for me in 2008.

This time last year, I dreamed of a child, sadly this year, that dream is still the same. But its defined more by fear and anxiety than excitement and hope. So anyway. Goodbye 2007. I wish you didn't have to go. But there are no do-overs or we'd all sign up, eh? It reminds me of a poem (yes another tear jerker, I'm so sorry I'm downer Debbie now, LOL):

If I could have a lifetime wish
A dream that would come true.
I would wish with all my heart for yesterday and you.
A thousand words can't bring you back;
I know because I've tried.
And neither will a million tears;
I know because I've cried.
You left behind my broken heart, and happy memories too,
but I never wanted memories,
I only wanted you.

Big Sister

I wrote this late last night, I have tendencies toward being a 'weepy' drunk, so I hope you'll forgive my sentimentality. There is something about writing poetry that makes me feel like I'm in grade school again, I'm such and amateur, LOL.

Big Sister

She was a wonderful big sister,
she helped plan for you with thoughtful care.
She thought of everything a baby needs
always a sense of excitement in her air.

She was a wonderful big sister,
she helped me fold and sort your clothes.
We would sing to you as you would kick,
we'd laugh at all your throes.

She is a wonderful big sister,
she talks of you each day.
She wonders why you left so soon,
she asks us why you couldn't stay.

She is a wonderful big sister,
she keeps her mommy and daddy strong.
She gives us hugs and grieves with us
when for you we long.

She is a wonderful big sister,
she keeps our days so bright
with lots of talk and laughter
she helps to keep our dreams in sight.

She'll be a wonderful big sister
to any new babies who come our way
but we all know deep in our hearts
she'll always be a your big sister either way.

Dead end.

One thing that has bothered me about all of this is how normal 'normal' is. As if I were never pregnant, never on bed rest, never had this dream of a child. And there is something deeply disturbing to me about just picking up where I left off. Because, honestly, where I left off, I was miserable. Myles was my savior. I had so many hopes wrapped up in him. And in so many ways I didn't know how he would change my life, what new dynamic he would bring to the mix, but I knew it would be radical and I knew it would be positive. And I fucking needed that change so much. And now it's like none of it ever happened.

You would think that my life would be easier now, pragmatically speaking. Babies are so much work, and four year olds are so much work, and dissertations are so much work, and the job hunt is so much work. But without Myles, doing all of those other things seems SO much harder, not easier. He was my inspiration. Knowing he would be here gave me so much hope, and so much energy, and so much excitement. Now I just feel hopeless. I feel like I need to reevaluate everything in my life, question everything, go back to the beginning. Because the only thing I do know, in my gut, is that I don't want anything to be the same as it was. I just don't want to pick it all back up again and stay on the same course. It's a disconcerting feeling, knowing you need to go somewhere but not even knowing where, let alone how to get there.

All I know is nothing is as it should be but everything is still the same.

Epiphany? No.

I wasn't looking for a religious epiphany from my experience with Myles, and I haven't had one. Having said that, it's 2am and for the first time in a long time I've started asking religious questions again. Not the really lame cliche religious questions that probably jump into some of your heads (Andrew!) but I've begun to look more deeply at my atheism from a philosophical point of view. Because it was in 2004-2005, right around the Presidential elections that I closed the book on all of that pondering and uncertainty. I embraced my atheism wholeheartedly and never looked back (except maybe to crack jokes). Good times. But part of me knows that closing that book was a reaction to the politics of the time. I was pretty bitter, and now that I think about it, perhaps what happened is I lost hope. So anyway, I haven't got it all figured out yet (I've all of the sudden got some big questions to chew on and some books to read), but do expect more long drawn out posts about my atheism alla Fall of 2006.

What I'm contemplating right now (yes at 2am on a Tuesday):

Does atheism=nihilism. I've never thought so, but I recently read an argument by John Haught that made me question it. The question is: can you be an atheist and justify hope for humanity? So, to any atheists out there who want to step up to the plate, are you nihilists? If not, why not? No, I'm not asking if atheists can be moral, most atheists I know have much more deeply held values than most christians (and certainly they are more just). The question isn't the can, its the why? And it's not the why, as in tell me about social justice. It's the why as in, what in your consciousness keeps you striving for those values? Why do you still hope and what are you hoping for?