It’s been real, blog friends. Thanks for bearing with me.
Abiding with the babylost across the world, from Connecticut, USA
It’s been real, blog friends. Thanks for bearing with me.
Abiding with the babylost across the world, from Connecticut, USA
I intend to be a voice for the babylost in honor of my precious child.
I not only posted my #CapturingYourGrief here on my blog, but I also posted on facebook- much shorter versions of what I wrote here. It was fun trying to sum up each post in a few lines, but I also felt it was a little risky. Here on my blog,the people who read are choosing to do so, for the most part- understanding that they are going to read a post about grief and babyloss. When people friended me on facebook they didn’t necessarily sign up for a daily post about babyloss. I was terrified of being viewed as wah-wah- someone who is throwing herself a pity party, seeking for attention (babylossmamma wrote about it well here). But I also wanted to take advantage of this month and use it as a time to educate my family, my friends and my coworkers what babyloss looks like. Yes, it’s been 8 months, but I’m still sad. Sad in new and different ways, sad in ugly ways, sad in ways I”m not particularly proud of.
I also felt vulnerable, posting all these inner feelings- what if no one liked them, what if no one commented. How many “likes” would I need to feel heard? If the likes died off as the month progressed was I turning into the wah-wah I feared I’d become?
I’m glad I have posted more publicly on facebook. I got the support I needed- I had people reach out to me, when perhaps they wouldn’t have otherwise. I knew people were reading because they’d pick up on little things, like correcting me, commenting “you ARE a mom” when I used “was” in my post. And as I had brunch with a nurse colleague from the hospital today, she congratulated me on my posts and the good work they were doing in educating our peers. I was once a midwife quite unfamiliar with the grief of babyloss and would have been thankful to be so informed; my hope is my friends, those in the field, can take what I’ve shared and help guide them in caring for others who have suffered babyloss.
And had I not shared on facebook, I wouldn’t have had brunch today with said friend and would not have received these gifts (at least not today..perhaps some other day). I am thankful for that.
Today I have been without Mabel more days than I had been with her. For 36 weeks an 1 day she was safe. Despite the low fluid, my body nourished her, grew her and comforted her. All her needs were met and she wanted for nothing. She was safe. She didn’t need kidneys or lungs- my placenta did all their work for her. Her clubbed feet fit nice and snugly in my uterus. The holes in her heart made no difference- just added to the flow. Her extra chromosome was invisible inside me. I would have kept her in longer if I could. A few days before labor I asked if we could push out my induction for two more weeks and was thrilled and relieved when my high risk doctor and midwives thought it was a good plan. Mabel thought differently. She decided at 36 weeks that she her time inside me was up. I like to think that had she stayed inside longer, she might have died or had such distress I would need a c-section, and so she chose to come on her own so that I could meet her alive and have the vaginal birth I had hoped her.
Today is 36 weeks and 2 days since that day. She has been out longer than she has been in. In a few more days she’ll have been buried, in the dark of the earth, longer than she had been snuggled in the dark of my womb.
Her memory fades with time. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that she was real- that this really happened. Holy sh*t, I had a baby. I was a mother. My daughter died. I don’t remember what it felt like to be big and pregnant except for the random phantom kicks I still get. They are sparse and an awkward reminder because my baby had no fluid, so she wasn’t the biggest kicker. My pregnancy almost feels invalidated by her death. No one will ask me about my experiences when they are pregnant for the first time. No one will seek my advice. No one will ask for baby clothes hand me downs. And then they’ll have their babies and I ‘ll be even more useless, because though I had a baby I know nothing of parenting a live child- unless of course someone wants advice about taking their baby off life support. I know a few things about that.
I thought I would do something to mark the day I turned 36 weeks and 1 day without Mabel, but the day came and went. It feels like my due date felt- an end to something that I don’t want to end.
Today I’m sad that the time I will be without my daughter will continue to grow longer and longer but my time with my daughter will forever be shorter.
I have lots of healing to do. Too much anger and bitterness. I work with my therapist several times a month on such things. Before pregnancy I worked with her on my anxiety and some compulsions I had and then in pregnancy she worked with me on my fear of miscarriage and stillbirth and the anxiety around the unknown and poor prognosis my baby was given. Sometimes we simply did talk therapy and sometimes she worked with me on techniques to deal with my anxiety. What do you do when your anxiety is justified? In pregnancy, mine was. We worked on distraction- it was the best tool I had when things got bad.
There is no set ritual I have, especially nothing I haven’t already mentioned- exercise, puppy, puzzles, etc. My ritual differs everyday. My ritual is distraction.
Today my distraction was a book group outing to the farm. One of our members moved to a quiet corner of the state and we visited her new house (old farm house) and met her new husband and acquired furry family.
The prompt said to plant something, as an act of remembrance, allowing our children’s memory to grow over time. But it’s October where I live, which translates into a cool New England autumn- not exactly planting season. I have planted a garden in my backyard, a little plot that bears her name, filled will colorful flowers by our white fence. I dug up, tilled and planted a veggie garden in my grief, another piece of land that will forever remind me of my daughter.
Since it’s saturday- our usual Mabel’s visiting day- when I picked up some flowers on the way home from work, I grabbed two bouquets. When we arrived at the cemetery, we placed the colorful bunch of mini roses by Mabel’s grave and then wandered around the cemetery with the other bouquet- this one an orange one, the color of carrots. We sought out headstones with specific dates- short intervals, or sometimes just one date. Often it was one name carved in a stone meant for three that caught our eyes. We were looking for children. When we found such tombstones, we placed a stem of roses- a gift from Mabel to them. Though it may not be planting anything, we remembered them today- acknowledging their short lives, giving them a gift from mother earth, letting them know that they are remembered.
I have a lot of forgiveness to dole out. I have been angry at people, felt hurt by people and been angry at myself and hurt myself. I need to soften my heart and let the forgiveness seep in.
But I’m not ready.
Tonight I cried to Chris in the car, “I don’t like being angry. I just don’t know how not to be right now.” It’s been a tough week for me emotionally and so today’s prompt has been a hard one. The concept of forgiveness has sat with me all day- I thought about while doing planks at bootcamp; I contemplated it while trying on clothes at Kohl’s; I reflected about it while driving and walking the dog; it was even on my mind while I was hanging out with friends.
The idea is there and today I planted a seed, as the prompt says. Someday, I’ll be able to welcome it and be the person I want to be. In the meantime, I decided to work on forgiving myself.
Today we were invited over to carve pumpkins with friends. I decided I wanted to go but wasn’t going to carve a pumpkin. I’d go for the company alone. I have no inclination to celebrate holidays this year- a bit out of protest. They shouldn’t exist if my baby couldn’t be here to enjoy them. I certainly shouldn’t enjoy them if Mabel can’t.
As pumpkin carving time approached, I let that word forgiveness seep in a bit and decided I could, if nothing else, forgive myself. I could allow myself to celebrate a little tonight. So I did.
Midwifery is not just my job, it’s my lifestyle. I often ask people “so, what do you do?” as a way of small talk. I recognize that not everyone puts as much weight on this question as I do. I have been spoiled- once I decided on my career and completed my training to start it, i found myself in a job that was fulfilling. I get to help change people’s lives- whether it be welcoming their new baby into the world or putting in their IUD so they don’t end up with an unintended pregnancy.
Having an emotionally challenging pregnancy- first accepting the difficult diagnosis of Down Syndrome and then living with the poor prognosis that oligohydramnios gave at 27 weeks, my view of pregnancy has changed. Laboring with a baby that I very much wanted to keep inside me, knowing that her birth might also be her death, has changed my view of childbirth. Helping women in their gyn life- wanting to get pregnant, wanting to avoid pregnancy- it’s all still assisting them in their childbearing life.
Mabel has made my work painful. My once career-lifestyle has turned into just a job. I have my fulfilling moments but they are balanced by painful ones. Mabel has inspired me to look beyond midwifery, to realize that there might be other things I could do. I don’t know what they are or if i’ll do them. This inspiration might be temporary, but for now, it gets me out of bed in the morning.
I work four days a week. When I was working “full time” as a midwife, I would work on average about 60 hours a week. The plan was when I had kids to drop one day in the office, making me “part time” at 50+ hours a week. Some of that time I was on call for births, meaning I might spend the shift in the hospital awake for 24 hours, or I might spend a good portion at home in my bed. After Mabel died, I eased myself back into work. My goal was to work myself up to that same “part time” schedule so I could have that extra day off for myself, to work on my grief. After a few months into work, I realized that the goal of returning to call so soon was unrealistic and so now I work four office days. My practice was kind enough to allow me this adjustment and Chris and I decided our finances could handle the decreased salary that accompanied.
Wednesday is my day off each week and I use the day to take care of myself. Today I photo-documented the things that fill my day.
I spend some quality time with my pup, who gives me something to care for and love, who reminds me that I am needed.
I had lunch with a friend, who shared her precious cache of chocolate with me.
I exercised, indulging in an episode of Scandal while I hit up the elliptical.
I sat on this couch for a hour, pouring out my soul and working through my anger with my therapist.
I mulled over some thoughts and took a quick nap as I received an acupuncture treatment.
A friend came over and we dressed the pup up. She seemed to enjoy it!
Another friend came over for dinner and we had a glass of wine!
I ended my night with another babyloss mom, enjoying teat and hot chocolate, laughing about things in ways only the babyloss know.
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