Monday, 27 August 2012

6 months

Feb 27th was a Monday. 
The last day he was alive was on a Sunday.  How 'bout that?  It's here again.  A Monday the 27th.  Just like that Monday. 
Last night as I watched the clock from 11 something, to after midnight… I remembered very well what I was doing 6 months ago exactly.  I was at home… trying to will my baby to move. 

(Bits and pieces of my story come out.  One day, I will tell it all.  I promise.  I don’t know where to start, and I don’t know where the day ends.  It's all so clearly a blur)

I remember at this time, 3:34pm, I was terrified for my own life to get the epidural.  I was afraid the worst would happen in anything I attempted.  I thought I would lose my legs.  I thought I'd be paralysed for life should I get the epidural.  I'm already having a dead baby - why not have the worst case scenarios for EVERYTHING.  For sure I'll flinch
The physical pain of labour wasn’t bad at all. Maybe I can say that because I only know what labour feels like alongside with knowing the baby you are labouring is dead.  THAT HURTS. THAT WAS AGONISING.  I MET MY MAKER IN THAT PAIN.  I WAS BEAT.  THAT PAIN TRIUMPHED.  At 8+ cm I wailed for the epidural.  I couldn’t breathe through the contractions anymore as they started to overlap… while knowing….  I tried to retell the story to myself… but I still knew…Tell myself it was all going to be OK, and I could do this.  I felt deep down how much of a lie that was.  While transitioning I held on to the disbelief.  My efforts didn’t matter.  The corners of my clear mind started to clutter. Reality started to crash into my walls of meditation and nothingness I held on to.  My knowing it was all true took over, and I started to cry.  My sobbing and short breaths made my contractions feel infinitely worse. 
I reached my breaking point.   
I could feel the next one start to climb.  I had been in labour since 6AM? 7AM?  Maybe earlier?  I don’t remember when they started the oxytocin drip.  I don’t remember when the contractions started to the point where I had to stop talking through them.  I don’t remember the first time I squatted down on the hospital floor, letting all my muscles go, letting all my breath out, letting all my tension go….I just remember it was 3 something that I couldn’t do it anymore.  I couldn’t keep labouring a dead baby.  I couldn’t focus.  I couldn’t manage my pain.  My mind kept reminding me that what my body was doing was for nothing.  That this pain was all for nothing.
It was heartbreak on steroids.  I threw in the towel.  Cursing everything around me.  I'm done.  You got me.  You win.  I'm out.  I fold.  Whateverthefuck then...9 months down the fucking drain.  Just make it all stop.  The epidural was given – I didn’t have more than 20 min of down time.  It was time to push.  I knew it.  I yelled it.  I demanded it. 

They asked me to wait.  The doctor was en route.  20 minutes.  I told them if she’s not here in 10, someone else will have to catch.  Because I’m not holding back this urge any longer.
He was born at 4:51 PM.  I felt so relieved.  Instincts took over.  Relieved he made it.  Somehow the “dead” part was turned down a bit.  I was so fucking relieved that I didn’t have to go through the hell of labouring this mess of a loss any longer.  Man, I thought the tough part was over.  If I could go back, I’d shake myself to drink that boy up, hold him tight regardless of how obviously dead he was - and not waste any emotions on feeling better… and just take him in. 

I was stupid on that bed.  Downright dumb.  Because I thought to myself, “the worst part is finally over.”

That was 6 months ago.

I don’t know where the hell I am anymore.  I often have meaningful emotions, and revelations ... and glorious pools of healing wash over me… filled with a lot of sadness as well.  Usually these feelings sweep over me while I’m doing something monotonous or routine – taking a shower, doing the dishes, going to the washroom….but I feel compelled to write.  Often, I speak about my life in the third person to myself, or, talk to myself as if there is a third person listening…and situations become very clear.  I speak of the injustice that not many can understand.  I mention current events in my life that are taking on a very different role than they normally would, had my baby not died.  I talk to myself often how things will never be the same.  I cry a lot.  I let out a lot.  I feel compelled to write… to dry off quickly, wrap things up… and open my computer and give my very clear thoughts a place to live. 

But I don’t.  Things come up.  Time restricts my expression… and I carry on doing absolutely nothing important.


I wanted to write today.  This is a big marker.  6 MONTHS.  I was browsing etsy this morning, looking for a big wooden “A” to start a craft project…and I read something like, “you know what’s important about today?  You only get one try” or “it’ll never be here again...” or fuck it, I don’t remember.  But for whatever reason I didn’t want to let this day pass and not acknowledge it. 
6 months.  A would have been baby at 6 months is a pretty special thing. 

6 months of grieving has felt like some sort of sentence in hell.  Isolating and lonely.  Misunderstood, and stagnant.  Frustrated, and not pregnant.  Life seems to be unfolding, but I do not fit.  I do not live.  I exist, at best. 

And all the stillbirth “survivors” (and baby lost parents) seem to all sing the same song.  The verses seem to all carry the exact same tune.  Some I read along with in present time, and others I’ve read through their archives.  I’m nothing special, and nothing I feel is unique.  I’m just serving my post stillbirth time, punching my clock at 6 months. 
I think I was feeling better before the weekend… during the weekend… even last night I was looking forward to sitting down and writing this post.  But I accepted a visitor this morning… and caught up on things in person.  Did a whole lot of dead baby talking.  It didn’t really go as I had envisioned.  It was fine… nothing was said that really offended me.  She was just trying to offer comfort.  But I emailed her over the weekend before she came.  I wanted to set the tone for the visit.  I wanted to prepare her for MY LIFE.   Part of the email said this …

“The only ones who can really get it, are those that have lived it.  The loss of a child is like no other.  Its unnaturalness tears through ones core, and there is little to no comfort in a "presence" or knowing they are somehow living on.  Your child's journey is so permanently ingrained to be by your side, living, breathing, growing... and when that reality is so traumatically changed, its sorrow strips away your beliefs of what is meant to be.  Cremate my child?  Bury my child?  I seem to have forgotten to prepare my life for those hardships, as one would assume (and hope) you out live your young.
I still feel some days that he is just up stairs... just out of my reach.  Somehow, I am still waiting.  I was waiting for so long... full term, over due... waiting... waiting... waiting.  Now, there are no cries, no naps, no cooing ... and I find myself waiting... waiting... waiting... for him to come home.  I turn a corner, and I expect to see a bassinet... I expect a child.  But no.  I am still waiting... waiting... waiting. 

But waiting without the anticipation is I guess what they call longing?  Aching?  But I know nothing will be different tomorrow.  Nothing will be different when/if I ever have another child.  Alexander will always been our missing boy.  Our family, with the missing +1.  Forever dead.  Never here.  And I don't presume my expectations will ever change.  He was always supposed to be here... but I believe those expectations will one day no longer be in the forefront of my every thought. 
Your children are not supposed to die.  So life right now, in all ways feels very wrong.  Very incomplete.  Terribly trying.  But not many people can really understand that.  And yes, this is a very lonely, isolating place... life with a dead son.  Not many can say, "been there, done'll all be OK."

I am not depressed though.  I use this compose box as a bit of a platform to allow myself to release.  I do not think the 'every day' person in my life knows, or can imagine, how very life changing this loss has been for me.  I look the same as I did before I had him.  My voice sounds the same.  I wear the same clothes.  But I am forever changed.  I am forever richer to have experienced such a love that I wouldn't trade for the world.  I am forever battered and bruised by the horror that is living without my first born. 

All things remain bittersweet.  Life is good.  Life is love.  And maybe one day (and don't worry, I'm looking for a suggested estimation) maybe the bitter wont overpower the sweet. 

When my father died in April of 2010... It was very different.  I almost had no choice but to see all the love and wonderful time I had with him, and it would often blanket all my sorrow.  My grief was strong, and it definitely changed its role in my every day as the months passed.  I love my father, and I miss him still.  His death sentence via cancer was sudden.  His death was quick, all things considered.  But I felt beyond lucky to feel a love so real in my life.  And it never went away. 
I can speak the same of my son.  But it's different.  Oh my God, how lucky I am to have a love so true, so pure.  It broke me wide open.  More than I ever could imagine.  I have never felt so deeply captivated by love before.  He made me a mother.  And that will always be his title to bear.  First born, mother making Alexander.

But the heartache is like no other.  The extreme injustice of such a life lost pummelled me to the ground in my early days.  I was beside myself, negotiating with my sensible side, and neither of us could make any sense of this mess.
I don't invite any "on the brighter side of things".  In my early days, I would listen as friends and family would stumble about, desperately trying with good intentions to somehow ease my pain, and attempt to lighten my loss.  "you will have more children." "you are young, don't worry" "at least he didn't have to suffer" "something good will come out of this, you'll see"  "everything happens for a reason, we don't get to have the answers as to why".

The death of a child, your child, has no brighter side.  I don't like it when my grief is redirected due to the uncomfortable nature of my life.  I have heard every one of those statements above.  I know people "just don't know what to say", but it doesn't make it any easier to hear any of it. 

He died.  It's hard.  It's painful.  It is not going to change.  It's unimaginable.  Nothing will ever change what happened.  And I still cry all the time.  All.the.time.”

I send her this email, along with the recent information about my miscarriage in hopes that she’d just listen to me, and let me grieve, and cry, and talk, and NOT TO TRY TO MAKE IT BETTER!  And not say the words, “I know how you feel”. 
It was fine.  She came early, we talked, I cried.  I just regret having company on this day.  I wanted it to be somewhat symbolic of my state in how I feel.  Quiet, isolated, alone, hopeful, rotten, sad, annoyed, depleted… all wrapped into one.  And after today’s visitor, I feel the rotten annoyed side of me step up to the front lines. 

Maybe I’m just being picky.  I’m a jerk.  I know.  But she mentioned having a miscarriage at 12 weeks in between her 3rd and 4th living children, and then for the remainder of our time used the phrase “after I lost my baby” … and it irked me.  She talked about the pain in losing her mother a few years back, and how long the grieving process was and still is.  Again, irked the fuck out of me.  I’m horrible… she’s just trying to be nice, I know.  Horrible horrible horrible me!  But I feel I let myself down.  I made myself out to be a liar.  She tried a few times to put a spin on my loss... and I just smiled and nodded.  I see she's set in her ways.  She really is 'just trying to help' and doesn't know any better.  How can I get outwardly mad at her?  Why did I expect anything to begin with?  Maybe because she was a childhood “aunt” figure in my life that hasn’t seen me in OVER A DECADE.  I thought I’d be comforted as I was when I was a youngster… wrapped up in ‘kiss it all better’ vibes and hugs until it won’t hurt so bad.  But no.  She’s just a woman, with her own problems and suffering that was looking to share her story of life and loss, too.  Comparable?  Relatable?  Not really.  Good intentions?  Oh yes, very much so.  But it was exhausting.  I found myself explaining my loss a little too much, and correcting how she so easily compared it to her losses.  She used the phrase "I know how you feel" too many times, and I just got tired of sharing. 
It was just a little too much of what I try to avoid, invited into my home.  I didn’t even want to talk about this crap on this blog!  I had so many other things on my mind yesterday, and last week…. And now, it’s just *poof* gone!
And I have oodles to let out.  Health wise (not pregnant though), work stuff, a wedding (not mine), and personal bullshit challenges coming my way… And I cant seem to channel the proactive desire to GET IT ALL OUT (without sounding like a rambling fool!!).

In time, in time, in time…


Today marks 6 months since my son died and was born.  I miss him.  I love him.

I Love You, my Alexander… my almost made it babe.  I wish things were different.  I'm so sorry they are not.


  1. My first comment disappeared. Which is a shame because I'm sure it was full of brilliant insights that I will never be able to recall.

    Six months fucking sucks. It sucks so much. It takes you further from your baby than you'd ever want to be, but not far enough from the birthdate to make any of it bearable.

    People who want to comfort us are so well meaning and so misguided. There is no comfort. I had an aunt call me and try to explain that I shouldn't be so sad since my baby is in heaven... I hung up on her. Your e-mail perfectly articulated everything but there's no getting through. Unless someone has been here, there's just no way to explain what it's like to walk around gutted alive.

    I was really struck by what you said about punching the time clock. In a way I found it comforting to know that other people proceeded through the same stages and felt the same emotions along a relatively similar timeline. But I also remember wanting to prove my grief was the SADDEST, like I needed to do that for my baby.

    I'm so sorry that Alexander isn't here. I'm so sorry that you don't get to mother him the way you should.

    1. Blogger must be hungry lately - because I've recently have had lots of comments EATEN, and had to rewrite my SECOND best response!

      Getting further away is something I'm having trouble really feeling is real. Often times I think of getting pregnant - and I think I'll some how have him *then*. And I have to remind myself that he will always be gone. Like, it's only different babies coming my way. He wont pop up somewhere, say, when I'm picking all the kids of from school down the road. But that's how I feel these days. And it makes me feel a little crazy, because I completely understand the finality in someone dying. I guess I have some die-hard expectations about Alexander that my subconscious cant shake.

  2. Ya know - even if we have been there - there's still no understanding it all. Sure, I can read this (which is beautiful and heartbreaking) and think "I totally get that" but at the same time, there is no way - because there is no way I will every understand the connection and the love you have for Alexander and who he was and is to you, because you didn't just lose a baby - you lost a part of yourself.

    6 months blows. this all blows.

    I love what you said about wanting to go back and take him in regardless of how dead he was. I just shake my head in anger/pity/etc at the Me back then who didn't do my son justice by holding him longer. What a fool. I didn't unfold the blanket he was wrapped in. WHY didn't I hold him until they took him from me? Why did I give him back and say goodbye so freaking soon - like it would make it easier? Bullshit. I was a fool and regret it so, so much.

    Oh hun, I'm just so sorry this is your sad, sad story. I'm sorry I "get it" and sorry that I don't

    1. You are so right. I catch myself saying, "I know how you feel" to other mothers who have lost babies to stillbirth - but the truth is, I don't know much else about them... or how they felt about their children.

      But it amounts to *enough*, whatever it is they feel... the connections I've felt with these women - all who have commented on this blog, and those who I follow - I somehow feel they are the only people in the world who really see me. So, thank you Caroline all the same.

      I have worlds of regret - about everything. during the birth, after he was born, when we went home, when we organized funeral arragements... everything. I feel I could have done so much more. But I worked with what I had. And it wasn't much back then. I was a shell of a woman.

  3. It's a surprise in a way, isn't it, to find out how similar all our paths are through this terrible grief? But, I think Caroline is right, too: we are all doing this differently, too, because we are moving and mourning within the circle of our own particular love for our own particular babies. I am so glad to come to women's blogs and see the way I feel echoed there because I think without that reassurance, I would get worn down by the total exhaustion (which you describe so well) of other people's expectations; their insistence that they know how I should be feeling and/or their hopes that I will just get back to my old self so we can talk and laugh about all the things we used to. Of course they mean well, but there is also an element of selfishness in us all: they want us to be fun for them again. We want to hoard our lost babies to ourselves in a world that works and works to deny them. I think our selfishness wins out hands down in this scenario.

    Your description of your labour put butterflies in my stomach. I didn't get an epidural until the very end either - in fact, it didn't kick in until I"d pushed A out - and for a long time I wanted the pain of labour so that I could scream and thrash out the pain of knowing my baby was dead. Yes, there is a lie you have to tell yourself, I think to get through labour: that everything will be ok. And when you can't tell yourself that...That hospital room was a dark, dark place and while for the first weeks after A died I tried to relive my labour and commit it to memory, in more recent weeks I think I have only just begun to let myself feel some of its horror. Sometimes this is the story I want to tell people who think they understand: I want to tell them, sparing no detail, what it feels like to scream the death of your child, to be afraid to see the face and body of the child you've loved and wanted all those months, to birth complete silence, a baby who is placed on a warming bed that is never turned on, to hold a baby who will never open its eyes in a quiet room while people cheer in the next room the arrival of a screaming one.

    Six months. And the days lining up, too. It's so hard. I wish things were different, too.

    1. Yes, selfish. Maybe I'm wrong to say this - but I feel like I've (unwillingly) earned that right now. My visitor was really looking for a space where she could share HER story. And how better than with someone that would understand her hardships because, well, I'm getting it pretty hard right now. Everyone wants to feel validated in their hard times. And I think she felt so open to tell me about her brain injury, and mother dying (and how she went through the very hard tasks of cleaning out her house) because she felt as if I'd validate her life knowing how unfair things can get.

      She replied to my email saying she had some things to share with me ... but I didn't think she meant she needed comfort and validation. But she did. And I just cant manage to offer genuine support at this time. So I tolerated the visit. And it exhausted me.

      Labour. God. What-a-trip. And what ever awful words you want to attach to it... go ahead. It was unfathomable to me in every moment I endured it. And it's unrealness lead me to do a lot of things after the birth that I wish I hadn't. Or, I wish I had done in regards to my time with him.

      I tried so hard to not connect anything to losing a child while labouring. I thought, "this is what my OB's mistakes resulted in... this is what the health care systems neglect is putting me through." My child, my love... I couldn't bare to think I was losing him too. But it didn't work. I was so afraid to see him... to know I'd only see him dead. It was god awful in those hours. But I'd go back... to get the chance to see him again. I'd go back in a second, and I don't think this time, I'd ever let him go.

  4. Oh my dear. This was so very, very painful to read. I'm just so terribly sorry. For your son, who came so very close to this life, and for you. I wish that nobody had to go through an experience such as this. Even reading your words, I have a sense of unreality. Because, surely, surely, this couldn't really happen? Not to Veronica? Not really? Although, logically, I only 'know' you know because it did.

    I can't really add anything to what Caroline and March have already written. I was just ranting away elsewhere about schematising (is that even really a word?) grief and what a pointless exercise it can be. We may experience similar elements but to what extent can I say that I really understand, that I know how you feel? As Caroline says, I get it and yet I absolutely don't. Because I can only know what it is like for me, grieving for Georgina. And you are yourself, grieving for Alexander.

    I love what you wrote to your friend about the love, the love that we know is the real deal and that never goes away, the love between you and your father, between you and your son. That is the only thing about myself that I feel that I know, beyond any doubt, that I love my three children with everything I've got. Might not be perfect, might not be the greatest love ever expressed but it is everything that I have.

    I have a lot of regrets too. Perhaps they are inevitable in a situation that is so far away from what we wish it to be? I slept whilst Georgina was alive. I still hate myself for that. How could I?

    I remember one of my friends telling me that she knew exactly how I felt as her son had nearly died during birth. And I just wanted to scream because there is such a huge difference between nearly dying and actually dying. But perhaps you don't know that unless you are setting on this side of the fence?

    1. Yes, nearly dying, and actually dying. Big difference. I really try now though to be sensitive to those that have had near death experiences with their children. When we were 3 months out, we took a trip to the west coast, and visited some of my fathers friends. They were both in their 50ies, and the mrs shared a story of how her now 20 something year old son suffered an infection when he was 5 years old. She was in tears telling me how horrific her time was back then...and choked through "it was the worst thing that ever happened to us, because we almost lost him" and looked at me as if she had been through something I could never imagine. She shook herself out of it, and wished no one ever had to go through an experience like that. Back then, I resented her for comparing the close call to my loss. But I see now, that's all she has. And her capacity to let herself to think or feel a step further isn't there. It's just TOO much for her.

      And yes, I'll echo my response - as different as we all are in our process, connecting with women/people in this community is the closest I've felt to ever being understood.

      Thank you Catherine for your heartfelt words

    2. Oh I hope I would have more patience and compassion now. With the emphasis on the hope.

      This was only, perhaps, four months after Georgina had died and Jessica had just come home. And I know how awful a close call is because I've had several with Jessica (so to some extent she DID know how I felt if she had chosen to draw the comparison with that experience instead) Watching your child nearly die is terrifying and, although I saw her twin died, I still don't really have the capacity to let myself take the extra step and imagine Jessica's death. I just can't. Perhaps that is where the disconnect occurs. Because the human brain simply can't let itself imagine something so terribly painful?

      Ah you're so lovely Veronica. It's taken me years to be half as forgiving of others. But then I am exceptionally Grinch like on occasion. Wry smile.

    3. Lol, oh Catherine - I talk a good one... I TRY at everything... I'm far from 'being' at this point. That day I was told that story of the near death... I swallowed it all. I beared it. We were staying in said woman's house while in Victoria, and that the guest bedroom...I whispered quite the rant to Daniel. "how dare she think she's got it worse than me!! How dare she assume her capacity to understand loss is anywhere near mine!!! Awful, she son in tow ...and to think that that counts, that 'scare' counts, bah! Ameture! Speaking to a PROFESSIONAL Blm, how-bloody-naively-stupid of her to compare.!!".

      I'm not as lovely as one might think. It's all a mess. I just think back to all I wish I could have felt towards those well meaning individuals.

  5. Oh so much to say. Can't quite wrap my brain around it all. I also felt the enormous sense of relief the second Bear was born. Laboring and giving birth was the giant hurdle at that moment. And oh how I yelled and screamed. I also will never underestimate the power of hormones and endorphins for at that moment, holding my dead baby, I felt an unbelievable high. Of course, the worst part had barely just begun...
    I am glad you are able to express yourself so well. I know that probably seems like pissing in the ocean right now, but it is amazing. I am sorry your friend didn't get it. I think that is really hard to deal with--that no one in my life outside of baby loss community gets it, gets what I need to say, do, hear (or mostly not hear). Of course most the time it is fine...just fine. Nothing good, not too much bad. But living with all interactions being "fine" is wearing on the soul. It makes me turn inward and not want to try to explain. It is just too exhausting.
    I also get the feeling that I want to write and then I too, get caught up in something else, or nothing else most of the time. I am glad for when you do write.

    1. You said it well. "wearing on the soul". Yes. And I've gone more inward, and have become more 'part of the crowd' in large settings than I ever have in my life. I feel I make everyone uncomfortable if I bring anything up casually...mentioning something about my son...his nose...his lips...his stunning resemblance to his father. It's like I have to say, "I'm allowed to talk about a DEAD child. Get over it. He's all I've got, and if I ever get more, he'll STILL be brought up."

      Thank you for reading along. And I'm happy for the times you write, too.