Monday, September 27, 2010

envy or jealousy?

In loss support forums there are a lot of ladies who discuss jealousy.  I usually don't mention it, because I use the word jealousy, too, but it's the wrong word.

When I was in college, I took a Shakespeare course.  One of the plays we studied was Othello.  For those who don't know the play, it focuses a lot on Othello's suspicions that his wife, Desdemona, is being unfaithful.  It ends with him killing her in a jealous rage and then killing himself.  It truly is a tragic play.

One of the days of the week we studied that play was focussed entirely on the difference between jealousy and envy.  Our society has pretty much stopped using the word envy, and therefore jealousy has taken on its meaning.  But it comes down to this:

Jealousy is when you are afraid of someone else taking what you have.
Envy is when you want what someone else has.
Baby loss moms cannot be jealous of pregnant women and new mothers.  We are not afraid that they will take what we have.  We have already lost what it is we want so much.

We envy them.

And even now I battle envy.  I have 2 beautiful children, but I still can't help but envy women I see shopping in the baby section of stores.  I envy that happy expectation that they have on their faces.  I envy being able to say "when" instead of "if."

When it's at its worst, I remind myself that I don't know that woman's history.  Maybe she finally reached full term after several miscarriages.  Maybe she battled years of infertility to finally make it to where she is right now.  Maybe this baby is her rainbow baby after a stillbirth and she's forcing herself to be happy so she won't feel the anxiety crashing in on her as her loss date draws near.  Maybe, just maybe.  I hate imagine those things happening to others, but in the end it helps me to remember that she deserves to be happy about her baby too, no matter what her story.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Was it worth it?

I've spoken before about how insanely sick I get when pregnant, especially when I was pregnant with Cora.  And whenever I talk about pregnancies with friends I usually at some point I say "but the babies are worth it."

But that line inevitably gets me to thinking about the horrid pregnancy from which I didn't get the baby.  I think the fact that I was so incredibly sick with her is the final thing that makes me so bitterly angry that I just can't get past.  It just seems like so much of a crime that it shouldn't be possible that someone can be as sick as I was for 38 weeks and not take the baby home.

So, obviously my sickness with Erin and Patrick were worth it.  But was it with Cora?

Obviously I wish I could have taken her home. Or at least that the universe could have made my pregnancy and easy breezy one.

But I truly believe that the people you love the most are the ones you sacrifice the most for, and the more you are willing to sacrifice for them, the more you come to love them.  And that sacrifice and that love changed me forever.

Yes, my pregnancy with Cora was worth it in the end, because even if I didn't get to take her home, I got Cora. And even if I'm wrong and I will never get to see her again, I would rather have had the sickness, the love and the grief then never have had her at all.

In this instance, I truly believe it is better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all.  I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Making people feel bad

It's interesting how innocent comments people make are hurtful.  They don't know my history, so they don't know what it does to me.

Stake conference was yesterday at church, so there was a lot more traffic in the church parking lot than usual, since EVERYONE in the area was there.  I had my hand on Erin's shoulder as I herded her through the lot, saying "Stay close to me Erin, let's not get hit by a car!"

A lady I didn't know passed me with her teenaged daughter, smiled at Erin, and said "Oh, but then you'd got straight to Heaven! Your mom wouldn't have to worry about you being a teenager!" And then gave her daughter a joking smile.  It was meant to be one of those good-natured parental jabs at their teenager, that's all.

But I admit, all the breath was nearly sucked out of me, and I almost burst into tears right there.  I can't even describe to people what thinking of Erin dying does to me.

I said, "No thank you, I've already done that once, I would really prefer NOT to do that again."

Her eyes went really wide in shock, and she opened her mouth, for an apology probably, but Erin decided to run ahead of me at that point and I had to chase her.

I almost feel bad when I do that to people.  They certainly don't mean to do it.

I almost feel bad.

Friday, September 17, 2010


In the season premier of Parenthood this week, one of the mothers is explaining to her daughter why she is being so crazily irrational over her learning how to drive.  She uses the word "catistrophization" and explains that it's the word her husband made up for when she gets into the mode of seeing the worst and not being able to get out of it.

It's anxiety, really, and I think that the character would benefit greatly from medication.

But it made me think of those times in my life when I catistrophize.  When I have a friend or family who is pregnant and I'm just waiting for the phone call to tell me that the baby died.  When my children sleep too long and I have to go check and see if they're still breathing, even my 3-year-old.  When I follow Patrick closely as he's climbing up the stairs outside because I can just SEE him falling in my mind, and it's all I can do to not pick him up and just carry him up.  When I hold my breath to hear from Matt after he takes a plane somewhere, so that I can know it didn't crash on the way there.

I was this way before Cora died.  I'm worse now.  It's not debilitating, it's just a constant worry.  I manage to suppress it most of the time, or rationalize my way out of it (which takes a LOT of mental energy, by the way!).  I don't keep my kids inside all the time to keep them safe.  I let them do things on their own.

But's just so hard not to expect the worst all the time.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What should be

Many times in the last couple of months I've gotten the question "well, shouldn't Erin be in preschool this year?"

Every time I've wanted to answer, "No.  Cora would have been.  Erin's a year younger."

*sigh*  It's a good thing Erin will be starting preschool next year.  Maybe it'll distract me from the fact that Cora would have been starting kindergarten.

I hate that this awareness of what SHOULD be follows me around.  It's not like a spend a lot of time thinking about it, but sometimes it just hits me.

For instance, I teach the 6-year-old primary Sunday school class at church.  Sitting on the row in front of us during our Sharing Time meeting are the Sunbeams.  They're the children who turned 4 this year.  Last Sunday as I was sitting there with my class I suddenly realized that Cora should be sitting on that row.  It's a good thing that they were singing a really sweet song so that I could cover up the reason I was crying.  It was so hard to look at those children after that.  I've been teaching this class since May, so I've gotten to know them a little bit, but now that I have connected that they are all Cora's age....just hurts.  Hopefully it won't hurt so much again this coming Sunday.

I miss her a lot today.

Monday, September 13, 2010


According to, a euphemism is "the substitution of a mild, indirect or vague expression for one thought to be offensive, harsh or blunt."  One of the most common subjects we use euphemisms for is death.  Even the example given was for death.

In that documentary on JK Rowling that I mentioned in the last post, she was talking about the fact that her father requested that she not see her mother after she died, and listening to him was one of her biggest regrets, because "the truth of a thing is easier to handle than what we substitute for the truth."   I believe this to be true.  

I was talking to a dear friend of mine shortly after Erin was born, about her sister that was stillborn (even stillborn is a euphemism) when she was 4 years old.  Her parents talked about "losing the baby."  She said that for the longest time she thought her parents had misplaced her baby sister, and she couldn't understand why they weren't looking for her.

It really made me think about the messages we send ourselves as baby loss parents. Yes, it hurts so badly to say "my baby died," but I wonder of some of the mommy-guilt felt by a mother whose baby has died stems from the subconscious message received by "I lost my baby."

But I didn't lose her.  She wasn't misplaced, or dropped, or left somewhere.  She died.  She died, and it wasn't my fault.  That's why I try not to use euphemisms.  It may be harder for other people to hear, but the truth of the thing is easier for me to handle than what is substituted for the truth.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I'm a Harry Potter fan.  I've always been an avid reader, so when I find a good series (I admit, it wasn't until the first movie was made that I started reading them), I sort of latch on.  I got really into the speculation and everything going on as the books were coming out, I went to midnight releases.  I sort of miss that, actually, I haven't found a series that really has that much hype about it...that is good anyway.

So, anyway, I finally got around to buying the bluray of Half Blood Prince this week.  Last night Matt opened it and we were watching the special features.  There was a documentary that was called "A Year in the Life of Jo Rowling."  I was enjoying it and everything.  She started drawing out a Weasley family tree of the kids and who they marry and who their children are.  She was talking about Bill and Fleur, and their daughter Victoire.  She explained that they named her that because she was born on the anniversary of the last battle with Voldemort.

And then she said "That was the 2nd of May, by the way."

I got the chills.

May 2nd.

Cora's birthday.

I don't know if I can adequately describe what it really means to me.  I mean, it's fiction.  I know that.  But...when reading it, that victory felt like my victory.  And for it to be such an important date to's just strange.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Major life events make me think...

...about how lucky I am.  My older brother got married this last Saturday, and we traveled down to Vegas to be with my family.  The newlyweds have been dating for, well, ever it seems, and I'm so glad that she's finally officially my sister-in-law.  As I sat at the table at the reception (when I wasn't up dancing) I got to just watch my family.  Everyone was just happy.  We've seen our fair share of hardships and tragedies.  The last few months has actually been really hard for my family.  But at that particular time we were able to set aside our sadnesses and just celebrate.

I don't know if I'd appreciate the good times as much if I hadn't had the bad ones.  Would I really, truly, appreciate dancing with Erin as much if I didn't have the disappointment (to put it mildly) of not dancing with Cora?

I don't know.  But I know I do love those moments where I can just forget it all and be happy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Life after death

No, I'm not talking about whether or not someone lives on after they die.

I'm thinking more along the lines that we can live after our loved ones die.  Not just survive (of course, at first you're thrown into survival mode for a while), but truly live.

My older brother, sister-in-law, niece, and younger sister drove four hours from Utah to visit us the day after Cora was born.  They were our closest family, and one day was all that they could manage (well, they stayed the night, so I guess it was technically 2 days, but they left early the next morning).  I remember distinctly sitting at lunch with them. I was sitting next to my niece, who was 7 at the time, and we were laughing about something.  I don't remember what.  My sister-in-law looked at me with sad eyes and said "You're still in shock, aren't you?"
"Why do you say that?" I asked.
"Because you're smiling and laughing."  I don't think I said anything then, but I remember thinking Why shouldn't I laugh when I'm spending time with niece?
Of course, Amber was right.  I WAS in shock.  It took about a week for the full force of my grief to hit, and then I found it hard to enjoy anything.  All smiles were forced, and I hardly ever laughed.  But my response stayed on my mind: Why shouldn't I laugh??

I look back through pictures of the summer after Cora died, and I can pinpoint those times when I did what I did while with my niece in that restaurant: lived truly in the moment, enjoying my immediate surroundings, not thinking about what was or what should have been.  I remember camping with another sister-in-law (my husband's sister this time).  We were goofing off in the tent, and I was laughing so hard I couldn't breathe.  It didn't last long though, something would happen and the sadness crept back in, and I would feel guilty.
But why shouldn't I laugh??

I was watching the movie Raising Helen not long ago.  I saw it in the theater in 2004 when it first came out, so my perception of it this go around was a bit different.

Helen's sister and her husband die at the beginning of the movie, leaving Helen (a single party girl working at a modeling agency) with custody of their three grieving children.

A very poignant part of the movie is when she's talking to her nephew about why he refuses to play basketball anymore.  He explained that he and his father played, and he just felt he couldn't play without him.

Helen then says, "Every time you do something you enjoyed with them, every time you smile, every time you laugh, all of their hopes and dreams for you come true.  If you stop doing all those things because they died, it makes their dreams die."

It makes Cora happy when I enjoy playing with her siblings.  Yes, it would have been great to have Cora here too, but it would be worse if her death caused me to stop enjoying life.

If she were here, she'd be laughing with us.  So why shouldn't I laugh?