Friday, January 30, 2009

Stupid assholes

So I finally talked to my stepmom, you know the bitch who told me at Christmas that I didn't deserve my daughter. Well, let's just say, her apology was not sincere. I had an inkling, and I wanted to be judicious, but when all was said and done, she meant what she said, and the apology was just to keep the peace.

This is how it went. I've been talking to my Dad, and he obviously was upset with her, but still definitely trying to protect her and downplay her actions that day. He said that she said it to 'wake me up'. Pretty hilarious right? I have a bad day, and she was going to make it better by getting angry and hurling cruel insults. Did I mention she's a genius? (She's one of the most anti-intellectual people I've ever met) So I went over last night for an apology.

So anyway, I get there, it's awkward, and my Dad took Simone downstairs so SM and I could talk. Well, she barely looks at me, and flippantly says that she just wants to apologize for saying what she said, but 'she doesn't want to talk about it'. Real fair, huh? So, I'm not in a flippant mood at all, what she said is as grave as it gets and I'm not going to walk away without telling her what I thought and hearing her explanation. So I tell her that it was the most cruel thing anyone has ever said to me, and I want to know why she said it. Well, as I'm talking (calm, serious) she is interrupting me saying, no no, she doesn't want to talk about it, that's not what 'this' (her insincere apology) is about. She begins raising her voice saying if I don't accept her apology that's fine. I tell her that that actually would not be fine, that it is in her interest that I accept her apology because otherwise I will not visit while she is there, she will not see my daughter, and that will hurt all of our relationships with my Dad. She keeps saying she didn't want to talk about it and she starts yelling for my Dad (who is downstairs). It was pretty absurd because I hadn't said anything out of line or raised my voice or anything, and here she is, interrupting me, raising her voice, and yelling for my Dad. After saying what she said, she couldn't let me say anything??? What did she think my Dad was going to do?

So my Dad comes up and my daughter follows, so now we get to have the conversation with him AND her there, all because SM is a twit who can't have an honest conversation, one on one. Well, come to find out, I was a bad mom that day. See, it was my daughters Christmas (total BS, we 'celebrated' that on the 25th, this was the 27th) and when she opened her doll, she didn't even have a Mom sitting there to show it to, boohoo (dd is scarred for life, she doesn't have 5,000 dolls, she didn't get 30 Christmas presents this year, and toys really are the meaning of Christmas). Maybe if I had just tried that day (see, we can all try our way out of the pit) I would've had a better day.

What does this have to do with religion? Everything. Come to find out she wrote a letter from Myles to me (THE NERVE!!!!! As if she would knows what my son would say or want) and gave it to my sister and my sister wouldn't give it to me because God was mentioned. And this made SM upset.

Now, I don't believe that God was just mentioned, or that my sister kept it from me because it had some religion in it. No, I'm thinking this letter is filled with platitudes (religious and otherwise), the likes of which would boil my blood. My sister is no dummy, she knows I tolerate religious sentiment. When my grandmother told me my son was in the arms of jesus, I agreeably said he was at peace. I don't want to stir the shit with religious folk, let them find comfort in delusion. Why is it that religious people want to force there beliefs on me? My son died and the religious have to tragedy grub like vultures.

No, I think my sister kept it from me for a reason, she has only protected me so far and I'm going to trust her judgement and not read it. So SM is hurt that I didn't get this letter, then she says that she just wants me to see that God has blessed me with a daughter. And she goes to the fridge and points at a prayer and says she says that prayer for me everyday. Well, I've had enough, so I tell her I hope saying that prayer brings her comfort, because it doesn't do anything for me, and I would just prefer to not be judged and talked bad about because I happened to be sad at their Christmas.

Aside: Is that how religion works, people pray for you, and since they're providing so much help talking to the man upstairs that they can say and do whatever they want? Cuz I'd rather just be treated with common decency.

The fucking nerve.

So nothing is settled, we ended the conversation because it wasn't going anywhere, and I went and played pool with my daughter and dad. I think the most telling part is that her explanation for spewing her hate that day to my brother (who also can magically channel MY SONS wants and desires), was that she was afraid I was going to lose my daughter. That was never once discussed last night. So, as I had suspected, he lapped up a bunch of her lies and bullshit in the aftermath and liked the taste so much he thought he'd convince everyone else to eat it. What a fool. This woman genuinely thinks I don't deserve my daughter, plain and simple, and it has nothing to do with my morose attitude at THEIR Christmas, it's because I'm an atheist.

Well, fuck her, I'm a good mom and the proof is in the pudding. Simone is honest and compassionate and generous and it's because of me and her dad, and we didn't have to make her afraid of God or Santa Claus or any mythical being, she is just good for the sake of being good. I'm sure she'll have a lot more decency and compassion when she grows up than my wicked SM.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The fight to love

My daughter is doing a jump rope for heart thing, and she gets to color a heart in memory of someone. Of course, the little dear wanted to put Myles' name on it and it will hang in her gym, which is so bittersweet. She had put glitter glue on the heart so they needed to dry, so this morning I cut it out for her and she took it to school.

On the way there, she did something she hasn't done before. She said that she can see Myles, he's not just in my heart, that he is right next to her in the back seat. Well, these are the things that I don't want to react to until I process it. I asked her what he looked like and she said, just like he did when he was born, except alive. (wince) I know she didn't mean anything by it, she's just a kid who says what she thinks, and the one thing she KNOWS is that Myles was dead; he looked dead, he felt dead.

I thought a lot about what she said in the car, we live in the country now so it's a good 10 minute drive to get to her school, and then I'm alone on the way back. I guess, what struck me, not for the first time, but for the first time this clearly, is how hard we have to fight to love our dead babies.

Stillbirth is such a unique and tragic situation. It's not like losing a child any other way, because we never get to see our loved one alive. I was arguing on this message board where people were saying those 'real babies' are creepy. I don't have one or want one, but it made me mad that this was their reaction knowing that some moms cherish those dolls. I was told I shouldn't be mad because that's how the majority of people think, but I don't think that's a good reason not be mad at all. Basically, the argument was that these babies didn't look quite alive, and that made them creepy. When I discussed bereaved parents, somebody even argued that bereaved parents are wrong to buy these dolls, one poster said it would be like having his brother die, and then getting a doll replica of him dead. GRRRRR.

The point I made to him, is that analogy is stupid. Unlike him and his brother, I NEVER SAW MY SON ALIVE. He had purple lips, and a bruised face. And even if those dolls were unsatisfactory in those people's eyes, they looked WAAAAY more alive than my son did.

So, I don't know if I was barking up the wrong tree, or maybe just beating my head against it? But one thing is true about stillbirth, we have to fight to love our dead babies. That's the one thing that has stayed with me from An Exact Replica, the idea that it's okay to love them, it's not morbid or macabre. Even though we never got to see them smile, or the color of their eyes, even though we've ONLY seen them dead and lifeless, we love them just the same.

I birthed a dead baby. I held and swaddled a dead baby. I love a dead baby. And in every other way he was a perfect baby, my Myles. He just wasn't alive.

And I have to fight for it, damn it. Because it makes people uncomfortable, grossed out. We have to fight because others combat their awkwardness by believing there is something wrong with us. They want us to move on because they can't deal with it, they aren't comfortable looking death in the face. But when you've experienced a stillbirth, you carry death in your womb, you birth death, then you hold death in your arms and you sing death a lullaby. It's not creepy, it's not gross, it's tragic.

So I guess I have a new sense of vigilence, thanks to a stupid people on a message board and a long commute. People who have lost a child to stillbirth deal with the guilt and shame of losing their child unexpectedly, why the hell should we be shamed into hiding our love and our grief?

Friday, January 23, 2009


Tomorrow is 14 months, my son would be 14 months old. And finding myself here is a little surreal. What everyone told me in the beginning is right, it still hurts, sometimes just like it was yesterday. But somehow you start to find a new way, not the way you wanted, but a way forward.

In many ways, I'm just starting to deal with some of the issues that I think complicated my grief for so long. I've been reading a lot about shame and guilt and stillbirth. I guess I didn't know what shame was, but from what I understand, shame is what you feel when others look down upon you, and guilt is what you feel when you look down on yourself.

And so, I realized that what I felt from the beginning was just so ashamed, I couldn't show my face. Everything was hinging on me during my pregnancy. I went into preterm labor and was on bedrest. And I didn't follow bed rest very well. Period. Especially as time moved forward, I remember saying, 'maybe there is a reason he wants to come early?'. and I started doing things around the house, little things, and I couldn't stop working completely, so I started going back once a week. And the studies I read did not show bedrest to necessarily do what it was supposed to do (no evidence based in my circumstances), and I'm just so anti-authoritarian. So I blatantly broke some of the rules.

So when Myles died, I knew it wasn't my fault as far as bed rest, the bed rest had nothing to do with Myles health directly, he was NEVER in distress that we ever knew or saw. The bed rest was just to keep him in there until he was good and cooked. But nobody else knows that. Everyone I know knew I should be on bed rest and that I wasn't following it completely. So, when it comes down to it, from the beginning, I was so ashamed because I thought everyone would think I killed my son. My husband wrote a letter to Myles the other day that he wanted to read to me, and he even said that he wonders if I had followed my bed rest, if things would be different. And it hurt me so much to hear him say that.

I didn't kill my son.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Little boys with glasses

The biggest trigger for me is not babies. It was never babies. The biggest trigger for me is little boys with glasses, they were everywhere it seemed the other day at the roller skating rink. Oh, I had all of these ideas about who Myles would be. I hoped he would be smart, and sensitive, but confident. I wanted him to be studious, lol. Really, everything I wished for Simone. But for Myles, I really remember imagining how he woud look when he was a preschooler, like Simone was during my pg. Would he look like her?

I've often wondered, 'why glasses?' what am I trying to say about having glasses? Would I have wished near sightedness on my son? No. As I've thought of it this last year, I think it was a way to make him like me. I've worn glasses since I was a young child. And it is said that losing a child is like losing a piece of yourself.

Well, after a child is born safely, at even a few weeks old they defy our wildest expectations in the most wonderful ways, we could never have truly imagined how unique and special that child was really gonna be. And those revelations happen throughout life, these wonderful gifts that keep on giving. Our beautiful children.

And when a child is not born safely, you only have those insufficient dreams, dreams that we dreamed knowing they would never come close to the magnificence that would be our child, dreams that we dreamed not knowing they would be all we have.

Little boys with glasses will always remind of Myles.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Yesterday, my mood got out of control, major anxiety, until I had a panic attack. I had a doctors appointment, and I saw a nurse that I saw the week I lost my son. We had talked a lot about my pg at that fateful appt., I've always been so afraid of having to talk to her again and have her ask me about 'how old my baby is'.

So, it was just a trigger, but a trigger that had more power than anything has had since the months after I first lost him. NOW I'm feeling like I just lost him all over again 14months out. When the nurse came in, my pulse was over 100, she didn't believe the machine so she took it and found out it was right. I told her it wsa my anxiety. Then I started crying when she left the room. I spent considerable time trying to get it under control, lots of deep breaths, and refocusing, but I'd just fall back into the crying.

Well I opened up the floodgates. I just haven't been able to hold back my tears since then. It's like I'm walking around with a lump in my throat on the verge of tears. All anyone would have to say is boo, and I'd probably burst into sobs. All I have to do is think his name, and I'm crying (see just started crying). What is doing this? I've dealt with a lot of hard situations, this shouldn't have me so panicked.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

REVIEW: An exact replica of a figment of my imagination

I finished reading Elizabeth McCracken's memoir this morning and abruptly burst into tears. I'm always sad when books are over, especially ones I love, though I've never cried, let alone sobbed. It was like the young male sage femme said to me, "C'est fini."

Finally finishing this book was devastating for me; first, because I loved it, second, because this book was to be about the 'lighter side of a child's death'. I was sad to say goodbye to the lighter side. Us mothers want truly to remember our child with pleasure instead of grief. To have permission to still love our dead children, a love that isn't 'morbid', 'unsightly', or that not all of this experience need not be 'shoved away'. Saying goodbye to that lighter side, and going back into my darkened grief was hard today. But as I look over the book as a whole, I welcomed the way that she was able to weave in both, the devastating grief, the calamity of it all, but also that immense love and hope we all felt during the short time we had with our dear babies.

Some of the lighter sided? I will never forget the dwarves of grief that provided such relief to McCracken and her husband, I've taken them on myself to use at the saddest times, to put a crack into some of my grief. They have become as dear to me as the pieces of comic relief that sustained me through my own birth. I will never forget my labor and numerous baths in the birthing pool, singing with Simone and my then 3yo niece Stazia. I also greatly appreciated her description of the man she met on a train in Boston, who presented her with a card that said, I AM DEAF. She says, "I have thought of that card ever since, during difficult times, mine or someone else's: surely when tragedy has struck you dumb, you should be given a stack to explain it for you." I reeaallly want that card.

I appreciated how she described her fear to wish for what was. I have felt the same fear, but didn't know why. Shouldn't I wish everyday for my son to be here and healthy? I don't think so. As McCracken stated, bargains/wishes are disastrous in all of fairy tales. "Terrible things happen." And I think the point is that you can't just change one piece of the past, and not risk everything there is today. Somedays, that doesn't feel like much, but I have no desire to risk what I have today (especially my daughter Simone) for a piece of the past which STILL would have no guarantees.

Sigh, there is so much in this book, and I read it so disjointedly, in fits and spurts. I empathized with her on so many things, i couldn't list them here. I also envied her, for I agree with her conclusion. When you are waiting for the birth of your child, you are waiting to be transformed. To go back to my same old life, where nothing was different, but where everything within you is so irreversibly changed is quite awful. Like, McCracken, I think that once you've experienced such calamity, that nothing that came before or will come after can be seen without that lens of disaster. I've want to run away so many times in the last year, to the ocean, to some far away place, to somewhere or to do something wholly unrelated, totally removed from my son's death. I do not have the means to do this, so I was jealous of her in that weird way us bereaved mothers never understand. A jealousy that isn't rational at all. I was also jealous of her rainbow baby, especially when she described how caring for baby Gus, nursing him, bathing him, made her feel like perhaps she was doing those things for Pudding somewhere, in some other dimension. I so looked forward to nursing Myles, but nothing in my daily life feels close to him. Nothing I do day to day is remotely 'baby'. Still, how can I be jealous of a rainbow baby? Inexplicable.

I think everyone should read this book, and by everyone, I mean every single person in the United States. It does everything I have never been able to do. When I have to talk about still birth, I tend to do it with facts and figures. I don't know if I'm trying to scare everyone or prepare everyone, that the statistics are there, and stillbirth is much more common than most ever want to believe. It also gives me an objective stance, one where i can spout of numbers which, in general, hardly bring people to tears, especially me.

What she is able to do is describe what it's like, really like, to live through that devastation, to be forced into this life where you are the worst case scenario, 13 black cats, a thousand broken mirrors. A pregnant woman's worst nightmare. I remember feeling like I would be seen as the harbinger of death. And she describes the awkward and sometimes insensitive comments, the difficult dates and events overlapping between her two pregnancies, and how it fit into her everyday life, sooo beautifully.

I will definitely read more Elizabeth McCracken, and I will pass this book onto everyone I know, bereaved mother or not, because stillbirth is real, it's not something that happened in history, it happens every day, too often. She takes stillbirth out of the shadows, and she takes those emotions we feel; love, guilt, shame, anger, despair, fear, jealousy, out of the shadows too. Surviving the stillbirth of your child is complex, no matter how many well meanign but oblivious people want to simplify it. McCracken portrays that complexity, and destigmatizes it. The love we feel for our dead children should not be considered 'unsightly' in our culture. McCracken's book makes that love beautiful, for all to see, as a mother's love should be.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009, the beginning

I woke up today and as I watched Simone sleep, paint still on her face from the New Year's party at the children's museum, I realized that 2009 will likely hold more for me than my tired mind can imagine, but no matter, it must ultimately be good. Not good in that I'll enjoy it, or even that the year will be a happy one. Good meaning that I will inevitably gain better insight into the world, that if I put this year to use, it may hold within it knowledge that could help me to better navigate my way. Or maybe it will hold a greater awareness so I can figure out when I am lost as I have been so often lately. I do have a hope for 2009, and it's actually a really really big one. One that puts a knot in my throat and a tear in my eye to contemplate.

I hope that I start to find my way again.

I hope to find some pieces of me. Pieces that I thought were lost forever or maybe that I questioned whether they ever really were me. I hope to find the 'new me' not just the 'different me' I'm so disappointed with. The true me. I also hope to accept the parts of me that feel so foreign today, and I dare to hope to take what is new, even if it is painful or hard, even if it will be misconstrued by others; and to use it to make my way. The 'new me' need not be a worst me, no matter how many times in 2008 I've thought so. It's a me without my beloved son, it's not the old me. And it will still likely be a me that smiles less, laughs less; but what I dare to hope is that eventually it will be a me that loves more deeply, understands more fully.

So I'm 28, and I've just begun. I've just begun. In 2008, I found myself a stranger, stripped of all I had built up for soo many years. I can't describe how unsettling that was. My house of cards came tumbling down, and I found myself lost. Foundationless. And damn. I almost didn't make it.

Thoreau said that not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves. I think many of us are lost, for most of us though, we don't even realize that we don't know where we're going or where we've been. It's not just being lost, it's knowing when you're lost.

So, I've survived, I'm surviving, today at least, and I must choose. Do I sit down, stay lost, do I wait for somebody to find me, or do I get up and find my own way? Will I find me in 2009? I don't think so. In fact, it may not be the year for me at all. hell, I may, in fact, search my whole life for me. But that doesn't mean the paths I take this year will not be worthwhile. Life is not just instrumentally valuable, it's not just made up of the things you tried and succeeded at. It's also made up of the things you put your heart into, and still ultimately failed at. Those things don't disappear, the ultimate failure is discounting all the love, and life, invested in something that was never and will never be realized.

The one thing I can walk away with, is that people fail. Everybody fails. I've failed. I will fail. But I've also succeeded. How will I define my world? By my epic fails, by my successes? I think we are all made up by both, but I think I'm going to focus on my success and, most importantly, instead of hiding from my mistakes, or not doing something because I'm petrified of failing, I think I'm just going to choose to fall flat on my face. Just like everyone does in life. I'm not going to be afraid, I'm not going to be complacent.

The fact is, I can wander down the path of life taking baby steps, hands grasping outstretched in front of me, like anyone, and maybe even 'succeed' in the eyes of others. But I'd much rather set forth on the path of life with an aim, even perhaps a foolish aim, like figuring out this world and how the heck I came to find myself in it. All with the knowledge I may never reach my goal, and that I will likely get turned around, misguided by myself or others, and never 'succeed'.

I just want to be able to say, before I die, hopefully when I'm old and gray:

"Somewhere, ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference."

And the one person who I will have to thank, the only person, is my sweet son, Myles. Myles is my guide; the meaning in his life, the impact it has had on me, the love we shared, the lessons he has taught me and so many others. I will be true, I will be me, and will live well, only so long as I remember him and what he has meant to me, and will always continue to mean to me. He will be my closest companion through this life; and though I wish he were here, right now, nursing or holding my hand, he is here in my heart, and that part of me I know is true. So that's where I must start from. 2008 is the year lost, on every level, 2009, I dare hope, will be the beginning.