Sunday, April 29, 2012


The bereavement literature recommends taking a vacation after the loss of a baby, perhaps 3 or 4 months out. E and I have discussed taking a trip and agreed that it was a good idea. Except, and if you’re a bereaved parent you’ll understand, neither of us is very capable of making decisions these days.

Honestly, I hardly have the capacity to take care of my day-to-day living like showering, meals, dishes and bills, let alone deciding where to go on vacation and then planning all of the details. So for months we’ve talked about it and taken little action.

Then I was notified by work that I would need to travel out of state for a few days. It is very unusual that I would have to travel for my job, but this particular client lives in another state and cannot travel up to our office so I must go to her.

Perfect. The decision was made for us. I will go down for work and a few days later when my job obligations are finished, E will meet me there. We’ll spend another 4 days together.

The other gift of this trip is that the city where I must be is of moderate size and has never piqued our interest as a destination, so there’s no pressure. If we were going to a locale we’ve always dreamed of visiting, I’d feel the need to see the sites and have the full experience. But this normal/mundane city offers a few sites if we feel up to it and also access to nearby mountains if we feel like taking a drive. That’s the beauty of this particular trip and destination. We aren’t making any plans. We will simply awake each day and decide what to do based on our moods. Perhaps we will do nothing but stroll the neighborhood and sit at a park.

That may be what we’re doing this very second! If all goes well, you are reading this while I am resting out of town. (I wrote this post prior to departing and it is scheduled to post Sunday while I am away.)

This mini-vacation gives me a break from my surroundings, but not from Griefland and its unpredictability. No guarantees that I will return rejuvenated, but I am looking forward to getting away. I am looking forward to the freedom from daily life and its demands that only vacation and offer.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


A few months after A’s death my cousin and his wife announced they were expecting their third child. My other cousins, who live out-of-state, had given birth to a son 2 months after A’s death (see this Post) this is another set of cousins and they live locally. Of course I was happy for them and they were extremely sensitive in announcing it and whenever they were around us. Still, I was dreading watching her pregnancy progress and the inevitable birth of their baby. I can't avoid it as easily as I can the out-of-town family.

Last week, these local cousins lost their baby. I believe she was around 4 months along. E and I both cried when we heard the news.

I feel like I should know the magic words to say. Because I am a bereaved mother, I should know what do and say to bring comfort to my cousins.

The truth of the matter is no one can ease the pain of losing a child. It’s so awful to watch loved ones experience something this awful. I feel extra helpless, if that makes any sense.

Luckily for me (and my own need to do something) she has been receptive to my emails and has even asked me about local support groups. At least I can offer her resources and literature. But it still doesn’t feel like enough. Shouldn’t I have the magic alchemy? The right equation or potion or spell? Shouldn’t I know exactly how to respond every step of the way?

I wish no one ever had to lose a baby ever again.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

When to Try Again

E and I always agreed that we wanted more than one child, even if the final number is still up in the air (it is one thing to fantasize about how many kids you want and another thing altogether once you’re living in the reality of child rearing). That day in the hospital when we found out A had died, I already knew I wanted to try again. But I also want to allow both E and I enough time to grieve and heal a bit. What is enough time? I don’t know. Nobody knows. No one can tell me because it’s different for each person.

I promised E we’d wait at least 6 months before even discussing it so we could focus our energies and emotions on grieving and honoring A’s life and memory. April marks 6 months and it’s taken all of my self-control not to speak to E about having another baby until now. I am beyond ready to get pregnant again.

I’ve been dedicated to getting my body, mind and spirit into the best possible shape in order to fairly provide baby #2 with the best beginning and the best Mom I can be. For 6 months I’ve been taking prenatal vitamins, a folic acid supplement and a calcium supplement to replenish my stores. After gaining 60 pounds with A, I spend considerable time contemplating what I eat and exercising consistently in order to get as close to my pre-pregnancy weight as possible before conceiving again. I don’t want any additional complications from issues that arise with being overweight and pregnant. Although the hours of reading, researching and questioning doctors have not provided a conclusive answer about why A died, it has provided a sense of peace that I’ve done my due diligence; that I’ve tried my darnedest to determine what happened and can now move toward acceptance that we will never know for sure. I take the grief work very seriously, believing that if I pay it forward now, I will be better off in the future. Journaling, counseling, support groups, honesty with my feelings, whatever I can do to move the process along and heal.

Like I said, I am very ready to start trying to conceive. But I know a subsequent pregnancy will be remarkably challenging in many, many ways and I will need E’s support more than ever. Thus the importance that he also feel ready. I planted the seed (sorry for the pun) a couple weeks ago explaining to E that I was more than ready and asked him to think about if he was ready.

We haven’t spoken of it since. It’s very hard for me not to bring it up again. It dominates my thoughts. I’m sure I could convince him into trying to get pregnant right now, but I absolutely do not want to influence his decision of when to start trying. I genuinely need him to feel ready of his own accord.

This of course does not stop my brain from calculating birth months if we got pregnant in April, May, June, etc. Or from fastforwarding to how we’ll plan for the birth (most likely an induction), or baby names, or how long to wait before announcing, or how our family and friends will react, and on and on and on. I just can’t share these thoughts with him. I bite my tongue so as not to pressure him.

No amount of subsequent living children will make me miss A any less. But a living, breathing baby in our arms and in our home will help to fulfill some of the loss we’re dealing with (more about that in this post). To my fellow bereaved blogo-mamas who are trying to conceive (Tash, Kate) or currently blessed with new hope (Aoife, Mama Bear, Renel,) and those who’ve lived through subsequent pregnancies (Jess, Mary Beth, Janis), I hope to join your ranks soon. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012


"We lost the baby."

Those were my exact words. That's how I announced the news the very first time, on the phone with my parents from the hospital. That’s how I informed various friends.  In the beginning, the word “lost” was much easier to say than "died" or "dead." But in a more literal sense we really did lose A. I did everything in my control to “keep” him; nourished myself with healthy food, drank quarts of water, rested, went to every single prenatal appointment, avoided extreme heat, unpasteurized cheeses and loads of other risks.

For nearly 10 months my body, mind, hormones and emotions had all been anticipating the arrival of our baby. We made adjustments to our life, stocked the house, made arrangements. Every aspect of my life was devoted to preparing to bring A home. So when we didn't bring him home I felt lost.

Most obviously, my body expected a baby and my breasts filled to bursting-levels with milk; hormones coursed through me compelling me to nurture. I've read about bereaved parents sleeping with their baby's stuffed animal or blanket. Personally, I felt compelled to rock A’s fleece snowsuit (and did so often). Surely emotions play a role, but I'm convinced on a more atavisitc level our bodies and brains push us toward cuddling and coddling. In fact, it’s been documented that chimpanzees, baboons and other primates will carry their dead infants for days, up to months. I can relate to that bond. I can understand because every ounce of my being wanted to stay with my son. Walking away from A was counter to eons of evolution it went against nature herself. Weeks after A had died, the thought occurred to me, “We could have snuck him out in our duffle bag! Then at least we’d have had a little more time together.” Intellectually I knew his deteriorating body would upset me, but that thought of taking him home did not generate from the intellectual part of my brain. It was more biological, instinctual.

More bizarrely, there have been a few instances where I genuinely felt the urge to go look for A. I felt that I needed to find him. It wasn't logical. It wasn't even conscious. But the message was clear; he should be here with me. In the middle of breakdowns I would sometimes sob, "Where is he?"

After so much anticipation and preparation it's natural that I'd feel lost without my baby. And it continues, months later just not as intensely.

Although he is lost, I feel lost without him.

Note: I considered linking to an image or video of a mother chimp carrying her baby’s corpse. But it was too disturbing. If you’re interested in learning more about how primates mourn, a simple Google search ought to do it.


Happy first Easter Sweet Boy! And Happy first Dyngus Day tomorrow My Little Poopka!

I wrote the above entry earlier in the week to post today. Then this morning, I started my day, not even out of bed yet, bawling. I have not stopped crying all day. Is it the Easter holiday? Is it the many family gatherings? Is it the 6-month anniversary approaching?

It does not matter which combination of triggers keeps my tear ducts working overtime. The fact is I am especially sad and I miss my son extra today. I have not had a day like this since early on. I don’t have much more to say about it, but wanted to share openly how melancholy I am right now.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

March Baby Madness

My co-worker’s son was born this week. I knew he and his wife were expecting; I knew they were due in March; I knew it was a boy. Every Monday morning I’d arrive at the office anticipating the news of a weekend delivery.

Wednesday afternoon, he texted the big boss to share the news that the baby was born including a snapshot of little Ethan swaddled in a hospital blanket. The big boss passed this photo on to the entire staff via email. My initial reaction was nausea. I literally felt sick to my stomach.

What an awful response to the news of a child’s birth? I am not a wicked person. On the contrary, I understand the lack of guarantees when it comes to bearing children and the joy that comes once that baby is safely in your arms. But hearing of his arrival and seeing his photo made my gut flip-flop.

Naturally I cried and then put my headphones on to drown out any discussion around me of the cute new baby and tried my damnedest to make it to 5 o’clock. Though I ended up crying a couple more times at office.

Of course the kindhearted folks I work with stopped by my cube to see how I was doing and offer support. They're so wonderful. But they also say the stupidest things that are not supportive at all. "Your day will come." "You'll be a mom someday." "Someday it will all be ok." I wholeheartedly believe all of these things. But guess what? Knowing those things does not make me feel any better. It does not make me miss my son any less. It does not make the day any easier to survive!

March was rough. Between family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and acquaintances there were 6 babies born. Perhaps it’s our age, but every time I log onto Facebook, it seems every single Friend has photos of their children or are expecting. It makes me glum and angry. I avoid FB for the most part because of this. And after one particularly teary, rageful evening E said to me “No more Facebook on Sunday nights, ok?” *sigh*

Knowing that someday we'll have living children and I'll be a mom does not make it any easier to watch hugely pregnant peers go into the hospital and a couple days later bring a baby home HOW IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE. Why does everyone else get to keep their baby?!