Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dead Baby Cards

Is there a website that specializes in dead baby cards? It was difficult to find an appropriate card for my dear husband as a childless father for Father's Day last week. Also, since A officially made our parents grandparents, I wanted to mark Mother's and Father's Day this year for them as well. The variety for Mother's Day grandmother cards wasn't great, but I did find two that worked. Father's Day was impossible because every single greeting card was either from the child's perspective or had "Happy Father's Day" somewhere on it. Certainly there was nothing happy about my Dad's first Father's Day as a grandfather with no grandchild to tickle. I resorted to an online card site where you are able to customize the wording. It worked out fine and he was really touched, but it took some digging and some effort on my part.

The more I thought about it, there are other dead baby card needs too. Given the uniqueness of losing a baby, thoughtful sympathy cards specific for when a baby dies would be a gift for both the bereaved family and those who are sending the card. We received some awkward ones and unfortunately I've had the occasion twice since A died to purchase sympathy cards for other couples who lost their babies. The pickin's are slim in the card aisle.

Also due date, anniversary and birthday cards that are sensitive to a babyloss scenario would be handy. Possibly even congratulatory cards on a subsequent pregnancy that also acknowledges the continued sorrow and longing for the deceased child.

Or how about birth announcements. We did not send birth announcements after A was stillborn. It wasn't because we thought it strange or uncomfortable, but because we were numb and consumed by grief. I know that some of the online birth announcements could be used interchangeably for a living or deceased baby. My fellow babyloss blogger Mom, Julie, has a beautiful example here. But no parent should have to scroll through pages of examples depicting breathing babies right after they've had to part with their own precious bundle.

If anyone knows of a site that caters to the babylost community with products like these or if someone creates such a site one day, please drop a line and let me know.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Childless Father

There is so much to say about the phenomenal man who loves me unconditionally and whom I proudly call the father of my child. As I sat down to write a post for Father’s Day, out poured pages and pages and tears and tears. Perhaps I’ve been avoiding writing about E because it strikes to the very center of my being. When I think of him and A together that brief day or imagine how they’d interact today, the emotion splits me completely in half.

I was very proud and so thrilled to give the man I love a child. I always knew he’d be a wonderful Dad. He has the perfect blend of responsibility, wit, patience and humor. As the pregnancy wore on, it became apparent just how badly he too wanted a baby.

E was attentive through weeks of childbirth class even doing further research on his own. He practiced swaddling dolls and looked forward to bouncing our baby into serenity on the exercise ball. In the heat of summer, with myself unable to assist, he spent days replacing windows in our apartment because they tested positive for lead.

He would talk to A, shine a flashlight through my skin, prod and play with his ever growing baby. When we found out A was breech, E would physically support me as I hung my enormous self halfway off the couch trying to flip him head down. He would tie a sling around my back to ease the aching. He carried my bicycle in and out of the house each day. I can on and on.

The support he gave during the pregnancy, his thoughtful preparations anticipating our child’s arrival and his dedicated interactions with A in utero further confirmed what a fantastic father he would be. But watching him instinctively wash, wrap and cuddle his newborn son solidified it. The tenderness with which he held and sang to him overflowed my heart with love. He advocated for his child and me during our ordeal at the hospital and ever since. 

He wrote a heartfelt note to A and left it in the bassinet with him when it was time to leave. He pushed the bassinet to the window so A could enjoy his first and only sunset. He practically carried me out of the hospital that night and he hasn’t set me down yet.

Although this isn’t the way I had pictured Father’s Day 2012, my darling E still deserves  recognition and honor for being an incredible parent and a devoted Daddy.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

On The Day You Were Born

E has been quite sick the last few weeks. Thus most of my energy and focus has been devoted to taking care of him and his appointments. Grieving has taken a backseat. I feel out-of-touch with my grief, but I don’t necessarily miss it.

Since I don’t have many current Griefland insights to write about, I thought I’d share a little something that came to me the other day.

On the day you were born,
My life changed forever.

On the day you were born,
I communed with death.

On the day you were born,
I shed the skin of my known identity.

On the day you were born,
I have never been prouder.

On the day you were born,
The globe stopped spinning and time stood still.

On the day you were born,
You transformed him into a father.

On the day you were born,
The significance of your life rippled seismically outward, touching many.

On the day you were born,
My world turned upside down.

On the day you were born,
We recorded every memory and savored every second.

On the day you were born,
I faced the biggest challenge of my life.

On the day you were born,
I fell even more in love with you.

On the day you were born,
My heart burst wide open. May it never fully close.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Birthday Shmirthday

I recently had a birthday. The number of my age doesn’t bother me all that much. My experience has been that special occasions, holidays and family gatherings all seem to magnify A’s absence. It makes those supposed-to-be-happy events god-awful.

After coming off Mother’s Day, I knew I did not want to make a big deal out of my birthday. Typically there is dinner with my Mom and family and another dinner with my Dad and family. Plus whatever E plans special for us. This year, I just wanted to ignore my birthday. I didn’t want any acknowledgement, just wanted to shut my eyes and wake up on the other side of it.

I called off all birthday get-togethers. E and I went out to a low-key dinner that was exactly what I needed without any of the fanfare. Then came the well wishes. I don’t mean to sound unappreciative that folks think of me on my birthday, but I hated every single message. The texts, emails, cards and voicemails from family and friends were infuriating.  (My friend and fellow babylost mommy had a similar experience.)

“Enjoy your special day today!”

“May this year be your happiest!”

“Hope you’re having a wonderful day!”

Are you effing kidding me?

Now I can understand this sort of superficial nonsense from Facebook acquaintances who may not know that A was stillborn in the fall, but to hear this crap from people in my life who are well aware of the hell I’m living is flabbergasting. I wanted to personally retort to each message.

“Enjoy your special day today!”
            Eff you. Today does not feel special. It feels horrible.

“May this year be your happiest!”
            Not unless you can resurrect my son!

“Hope you’re having a wonderful day!”
            How can I possibly have a wonderful day? Don’t you realize what a struggle it is to survive each day? Don’t you listen when I explain how intensely I miss my son and hate this life without him?

I am glad the birthday shenanigans are over. I am glad I can stop smiling through gritted teeth thanking people for their “kind” thoughts. I am glad I can go back to my daily routine of focusing on survival instead of focusing on A’s absence.