Sunday, February 20, 2011

New take on the pregnancy nightmare

Whenever I'm pregnant (or even trying to become pregnant) I start dreaming about the baby dying.  Whether it's miscarrying, or something happening in the 2nd trimester, right on up to another full term stillbirth.  I guess this is normal, my day-to-day suppressed anxiety manifesting itself.

Last night though, was different.  My sister-in-law is pregnant.  Now, this isn't the first time that I've been pregnant with a family member, so I don't know what makes this particular instance so different, but I dreamed that my little niece (who is due in June) was stillborn.  Not stillborn in the future, the dream I woke up to the phone ringing and it was today and something had happened overnight to make sister-in-law go to the hospital and Sara didn't make it.

In a way it was a relief not to have the dream be about my own loss.  It was much easier to talk myself out of when I woke up that way.  But at the same time, I'm so scared of it happening to someone else in my family.  There's already been so much loss, from my grandparents on down.  I'm the only one, when counting my siblings/spouses, in my generation that has had any sort of loss, and I'd like to keep it that way.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Real Cora Song

I've love the a capella group Insideout for a very long time.  Their album Primary Colors included the song "Lullaby" written for the son of one of the singers.  When I became pregnant with Cora, I memorized it.  I would spend hours listening to it.

Sun's last ray, light of day 
 Lazy sunset slips away
 Close your eyes, go to sleep
 Dream of Heaven, dream of peace
 Starry skies, moon's soft light
 Heaven keep you through the night
 Morning light brings the day
 Sun's first ray
I sang this song to Cora in the evenings when she'd wake up and kick me.  I sang it to her the day we spread her ashes.  And I sang it to both Erin and Patrick, both before their births and after.  I haven't started singing it to Skittles yet, but I will, probably when I start feeling regular movement.

I love this song, but it is inexplicably tied to Cora.  Every time I've sung it to my rainbows, I've done it in honor of Cora and all the times I didn't get to sing it to her.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's different seeing it...

Matt and I went to go see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: pt 1 yesterday.  It was strange for me to wait this long, as I've seen all the others opening week.  Even for Half Blood Prince.  We found a babysitter for Erin and Patrick was young enough to go with us.  But this go around it was a little more difficult to find someone who would take both kids.  So it was really nice to get out.

I really enjoyed the movie.  I've read the book and I knew what to expect.  And I cried in all the same places, even though I was expecting it.  While reading the book, Dobby the House Elf's death took me by surprise, and I cried and cried.

Watching the movie, I started crying in anticipation.  But it was much harder to watch than I thought.  Not his death, actually, but as Harry was digging the grave.  Ron and Hermione carried Dobby's body, wrapped in a white shroud, up the hill, and it looked like they were carrying a child.  I'm not sure I would have thought that if I hadn't been through what I have, but I had to look away.  I just couldn't do it.  I cried for a totally different reason.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

My husband

Many times over the course of the past nearly-five-years in baby loss communities, I've heard several times women ashamed to admit that they'd rather have lost their husband than their child.  It has always made me wonder about the differences between their marital relationship, and mine.

I truly believe that the reason I survived Cora's death is because I had Matt.  I had him to lean on and support, to comfort and be comforted by, someone to experience my grief with.  I was not and am not alone.  If Matt died....who would I turn to?  I'd be utterly alone.  As much as I fear having another child die, I know that with him I could survive it.  I don't think I'd do so well if he died.

Being alone is my greatest fear.  It was my fear before I met Matt and got married (I was terrified I never would and I'd be alone forever), and since becoming engaged have had occasional nightmares of him dying.  It's actually my most common nightmare.

So while I need my children....I can't survive without my husband.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sympathy and Empathy

Before Cora died, I felt bad for couples who lost children.  My parent's first baby was stillborn at 21 weeks, my mother's mother's first baby died during labor and was stillborn.  My father's parents had a little girl die a couple months before she turned 3.  When I was 16 a little boy that I babysat died.  I truly felt bad for all these families.  I did.

But I didn't understand it.  It wasn't something I truly felt (well, it came close with Kade because I love him so much from babysitting him his entire life).

Now, when I hear about someone's child dying, I feel it.  I truly feel it.  It takes me back to that emotional place, feeling like the world is falling apart around you and being completely helpless and alone.  Now, I empathize.

Sometimes I wish I could go back.  Sometimes I wish I could go back to thinking "I can't imagine what that would be like."  But I can imagine, because I've been there.  So now, I cry at even passing stories, like this one and this one.  Before I would have felt bad, and thought "oh that's so sad."  But this morning, reading the first one and watching the second, I cried the tears of a grieving parent.  Tears that you can only cry if you've been there.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The impact of words.

It's hard watching celebrities lose babies.  Hard, not only because it takes me sad, but because of the media response to it.  I'd never heard of Lily Allen or Amanda Holden before they had their recent stillbirths.  It made me so angry, though, that both Lily's and Amanda's losses were termed "miscarriages."  Now, I'm not saying that stillbirths are "worse" than miscarriages, but it is so very different.  And in the mainstream media, when people consider miscarriages nothing more than a late and bad period (a rant which deserves it's own post), it doesn't really help people realize the devastation of going through labor and delivery and holding your baby's lifeless body, and then having to give that body to someone else to never see again.

Further disturbing to me is this quote from Amanda's article
She went to West Middlesex Hospital in Isleworth, west London, after the baby stopped moving. It was later stillborn.
Is it so very hard to say he was later stillborn??  Is it so hard to give that baby boy the respect of personhood that he is due?  They didn't just lose a pregnancy, they lost their baby boy.

It's hard to read those things, because if they would say that about a celebrity's baby, what would they say about mine?  Would they rob Cora of her personhood, too, relegating her to an "it"?

I feel so bad for these ladies, and have said prayers for them.  I hope that they get the support and privacy they need.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Confessions of a Grieving Parent

There is a facebook group call "Chicken Soup for the Angel Mommy and Daddy's Soul" that I love.  Lately they've been doing "Confessions of a Grieving Parent" and I find them amazing.  They're like the "post secrets" that have been really popular, where people anonymously email in their secrets and they're posted in a postcard-type form.  These are things that we think as angel parents, but that we don't say to others because they wouldn't be considered "socially appropriate."

One was posted today, the parent was afraid that there was no afterlife and they'd never really see their angel again.  They said something along the lines that they're afraid to die because they're afraid to discover it isn't true.

It made me think....what if it's not true?  I came to the conclusion that if there's no afterlife, then I won't know it. My last conscious living thought will be my last, so how would I ever know it wasn't true?

Therefore, I chose to hold on to that belief for the hope it gives me.  If it's not true, and I never see her again, then I want to die hoping that I will.  I want my last thought to be one of hoping to hold my baby girl again.  And since I DO believe it is true, then I will have all that joy of actually getting to see her again.  But if won't matter.  I will have had that hope to get me through this life.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

the kindest thing

The February writing challenge for Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope is to "Write about something special a friend, family member, or other loved one did for you after your baby(ies) died that really touched your heart."

We confirmed Cora's death on a Monday, and I was induced the next day, Tuesday.  Wednesday, my brother, sister-in-law and niece, and sister came up from Utah (4 hr drive) to spend the day/night with us.  Honestly, my memories of the days immediately after the fact are very hazy, but I seem to remember that he either called in sick for his Wednesday shift, or went through extraordinary efforts to switch his shift so he didn't have to work that day.  He had Thursday off too, and wanted to spend that day driving home.  They were so wonderful, reminding me that I could go on like nothing had happened because I had physically just delivered a baby so I needed to take things easy.  They vacuumed, did dishes, made meals, and just hugged me and cried with me.  They told me Cora was beautiful (some of the few people to see the pictures of Cora before Matt could touch them up a little), seeing what I saw in her.  They helped me realize that I was not alone in my grief.  They still let me talk about her when I need to.

I also got an anonymous note on my door.   It was exactly a month after Cora's stillbirth, and I was having a hard day.   I walked down to the apartment mailboxes to get my mail, and inside was an enfamil coupon packet with a booklet titled "Cuddling your one month old."  I burst into tears standing at my mailbox, and made my way back to my apartment through misty eyes.  When I got back, there was a note taped to my door.  It's in Cora's scrapbook.  The note simply said that they knew that it was a hard day for me and wanted me to know that they remembered and that I was loved.  To this day I wish I knew who it was, so I could tell her how much it meant to me.