Another thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving morning.

We are off to our traditional Thanksgiving celebration later today and I have mixed feelings. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday- food, drink, family.  But now, like every holiday, I face the day with a little cloud over my head. The holiday has gotten easier after I lost Mabel- every year I still feel her absence but I can carry it with me and still enjoy the time with family.  This year I anticipate things to be a bit harder.  There are some new babies in the family who will be joining us. I know I have come a long way- I have Felix to fill my arms; I have returned to work caring rather effortlessly for pregnant women and new moms; I am able to really see those babies born at the same time as Mabel as real adorable little people and not simply triggers.

But….

The babies.  I know today I will see lots of cooing and holding warm wriggly little humans, outpourings of love from family. All so very deserved. I think I can safely say I truly understand how precious little babies are. I have taken that into my heart in an even greater way after having Felix.  Understanding what a gift it is to have a living breathing child to hold and watch grow up.  Watching Felix grow from a baby to a toddler occasionally reminds me all that I missed with Mabel.  For the most part, I am so very grateful.  Grateful to have the opportunity to parent a living child.  But I am also still sad- sad to have missed that opportunity with Mabel.

Since Mabel will be my forever baby- my memories of her as a five pound chunker curled on my chest-newer babies can be a reminder of her.  Reminder that she did not come to Thanksgiving, that most of my family never even met her, that she might not seem as real to them as Felix or any new baby entering the family.

I tried to go through some of Felix’s old clothes to bring down to one of these babies- as Felix was gifted many hand me downs.  It was a struggle to part with any of them. I pulled out some- ones that I know had been hand me downs- but most I couldn’t bear to let go of.  Going through the clothes I grew super emotional, realizing how lucky I was to have had a baby to fit in them- holding up newborn, then 0-3 month, then 3-6 month outfits. The ache was so strong for my other baby that only wore two outfits ever.  So I pulled out a few onesies- most of the clothes were the wrong season/size anyways- and that’s what I’ll bring.  I hope they understand why I can’t be more generous.  I need to hold on to the rest- they are a reminder of Mabel, a symbol of how grateful I am to have Felix and a beacon of hope that someday, if I would ever be so lucky again, I might have another baby to wear them.

In the meantime, I pack up the cheesecake, mac n cheese, some eggnog and a few onesie hand me downs in anticipation of our family gathering.  My ears have tiny carrot earrings and my feet have my carrot socks.  I’m wearing a sweater- one that my husband dislikes for its gaudiness- one with Olaf the snowman from Frozen decked in sequins. But his carrot nose is a tribute, literally close to my heart.  I am adorned with my Mabel armor, so that my forever baby can join us this Thanksgiving.

Advertisements

Labor memory triggers

Someone recently commented on here mentioning the tv show House of Cards. I was immediately thrown back to the day I went into labor. Valentine’s Day 2014. I was in the hospital, patiently passing the final weeks of my pregnancy, enjoying each day under continuous monitoring until I hit 39 weeks, the planned time for induction. At 36 weeks I thought I had plenty of time. Chris and I planned a romantic date in the hospital- he was going to pick up sushi (cooked rolls for me) and we were going to watch House of Cards, which was released that day. While he was at work I was having cramps on and off all day and when I saw a little bloody show, I called him, suggesting he come right to the hospital after work. I was scared something was happening. But as the day progressed and nothing seemed to move forward, I called him again, telling him to go ahead with our plan- get the sushi, but stop at home first and pick up Mabel’s blanket- the special one I had ordered, just in case. (just in case she died. I wanted her to have a special blanket to hold her in) Once he made the trek picking up all the necessities, we settled down to a nice dinner, each of us sitting on one side of the hospital tray table on wheels. I was a little uncomfortable with the cramping through dinner and so we decided to walk to the lobby and pick up some ice cream. The hospital café recently started stocking Ben & Jerry’s so we grabbed a pint of peanut butter cup, with full intentions of snuggling together in that one person hospital bed, chomping on ice cream and watching House of Cards. By the time we got upstairs to my room and I had a few bites, it became too uncomfortable to sit down. Labor had started.

Reading the House of Cards comment, brought me back to my labor- not in a bad way. It’s nice to be able to recount my labor in such a safe space. I don’t often tell my labor story outside the babyloss community because the follow up questions and comments can be rough- I didn’t realize you have a baby! Or How old is your daughter? I know I have every right to chime in, like any mom of a living child would do when something brings up a memory like that. But if a simple remark about how xyz reminds me of my labor then leads to my child’s death, awkwardness inevitably ensues- we all know what this is like. And I don’t want to seem like I’m fishing, looking for sympathy. Honestly, most of the time I simply want to remember and share my story- be a regular mom who can tell these things without consequence. I don’t want the awkwardness, or the pity- in some ways I just want the gentle laughing at how these seemingly random things remind me of childbirth. But it’s often just not the case.

I think of my labor whenever I think of sushi and Ben & Jerry’s peanut butter cup ice cream. I remember eating them and throwing them all up later. I think of my labor when I am reminded of House of Cards or Valentine’s Day. These are my little triggers (delightful triggers in a way) that remind me of that day. A scary day that led to a sad day, but it’s still part of her story, so I take pleasure in remembering it.

Do you have random things or associations that trigger memories? Do you share them?

Parallel Lives

She was telling me about a problem she’s had since her baby was born. To get a better sense of the duration of her symptoms, I asked when she had the baby.

February 15, 2014.

As I typed the date into my note, I my fingers began to freeze. They understood the significance of that day. For the woman in front of me, it was the best day of her life. For me it was the worst. We were in the same hospital, on the same labor floor at the same time. We both held our first borns that very day, changing our lives forever.

My family came to meet my lifeless child, while hers came with balloons and teddy bears.

While she changed diapers in the middle of the night, I slept in an ambien-induced haze.

She woke to the sound of a crying baby; I woke to the sound of my cell phone, a call from my credit card company to inform me of some fraud that happened while I was listening to the nurse ask us if we wanted to call the chaplain.

A day later, I was leaving the hospital empty armed and she stayed learning how to nurse her child.

Her milk came in, as did mine, but she had an outlet for her brimming breasts.

While I planned a funeral, she learned to care for a baby.

I sat on my couch, staring mindlessly at the tv; she longed for the free time she had pre-baby to catch up on her shows.

She watched her baby grow into an infant, learning to smile and respond; I placed photos of my dead baby around the house, knowing that I would never see her smile.

She raised a baby while I got a puppy.

She is a mom and I am the shadow of one.

She lived the life I was supposed to have.

At the end of her visit, I slipped into the bathroom and cried.

 

Have you come across someone living the life you were supposed to have?