Archive for October, 2008

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The dream house (no, not what you think)

October 31, 2008

Kate has a beautiful post over at glow in the woods.  The piece in its entirety is worth reading (go there, now, and read it if you haven’t already).  In describing some of the strange and marvelous community of babylost parents, of the sharing and storytelling taking place at glow and online, Kate writes:

We’re all so different – what we went through, the point from which we began, what we believe. And yet in your voices I hear the thump of my own heart.

First of all, yes. And I wanted to add here that I’m so grateful for all of you that I’ve met on this journey I didn’t want to take.  For your warmth and compassion, for just being there sometimes.  For knowing or recognizing what it’s like.  I owe you a large chunk of my sanity, and if I get through this year (and the next, and the next) with any smidgen of grace, I owe a lot of that to you, too.

Secondly, Kate’s post reminded me, suddenly and powerfully, of one of the first dreams I had after Teddy’s death.  I’ve never been able to dream about my baby, or if I have, none of those dreams have been held by my memory after waking.  But about a week after I found glow in the woods, I dreamt that I was in a huge, slightly rickety, house built all of wood – carved wood, wooden planks, teetering wooden staircases.  I was moving into this house, without my Teddy, who even in my dreams is dead, and I was heartbroken.

But the house was inhabited by women, lovely and strange and varied.  Some I could see clearly – their eyes, the swish and fall of long or short hair, and some were shadowy and blurred.  But they helped me move my things into the house, helped me sweep sawdust out the doors and over the edge of the porch, and invited me over for coffee.  And I knew in my dream that they were all like me, all missing their babies.  It was written all over them, even the ones I could barely see.  At night, we found our way up and up to the house’s attics, and we rummaged through closets and among boxes, looking for our children, but finding other things instead – old wedding dresses, long-lost artwork from our own childhoods, strange wooden musical instruments…

Even though I couldn’t find Teddy, this dream was a comfort.  I don’t subscribe to any one theory of dream meanings, but I think the comfort I felt upon waking came from relief that my little family isn’t alone even though no one near us quite understands what we are going through.

Have I mentioned that I’m grateful?

Thank you.

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Angel Mommy Blog Award

October 31, 2008

I’ve received the Angel Mommy Blog Award from the wonderful Heather of Rising and Setting.

The award, accompanied by the following poem, is passed to blogging mamas who are missing their babies.

Don’t Tell Me

Please don’t tell me you know how I feel,
Unless you have lost your child too,
Please don’t tell me my broken heart will heal,
Because that is just not true,
Please don’t tell me my son is in a better place,
Though it is true, I want him here with me,
Don’t tell me someday I’ll hear his voice, see his face,
Beyond today I cannot see,
Don’t tell me it is time to move on,
Because I cannot,
Don’t tell me to face the fact he is gone,
Because denial is something I can’t stop,
Don’t tell me to be thankful for the time I had,
Because I wanted more,
Don’t tell me when I am my old self you will be glad,
I’ll never be as I was before,
What you can tell me is you will be here for me,
That you will listen when I talk of my child,
You can share with me my precious memories,
You can even cry with me for a while,
And please don’t hesitate to say his name,
Because it is something I long to hear everyday,
Friend please realize that I can never be the same,
But if you stand by me, you may like the new person I become someday.

Thank you, Heather.

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Monday breakdown

October 27, 2008

I knew this would happen.

I knew that, sooner or later, I’d be helping a library patron who was holding an infant.  I was banking on later – I work in an academic library, and our students and faculty with children know that we’re not the most welcoming place, on the whole, for the baby and toddler set.

And today I helped a nice couple find peer-reviewed journal articles while trying hard not to freak them out by staring at their very little baby boy.  And then I told my co-workers that I’d be right back and ran to the bathroom to cry.

Still crying.

I know this is part of the process, part of my process.  But things just shouldn’t hurt this much.

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Cleaning

October 26, 2008

Today I made a start at cleaning my office, something I’ve been meaning to do for a very long time, for over a year at least – procrastination is an art form I excel at, unfortunately. This is the room that would have been Teddy’s, and it is the room where all of his things are. In fact, the nearly overwhelming clutter has very nicely camouflaged the car seat, the bag of baby clothes and books, the pack n’ play, the co-sleeper, the crib mattress, and the memory boxes. Nothing can camouflage the hand and feet castings, but even they command a bit less attention with everything around them in disarray.

But I have a lovely desk, a gift from N from before we were married, and I miss sitting at it, miss seeing the surface of it. And I missed having a place all my own in our house. While I would have given it up, this room of my own, more than willingly for Teddy (I was even contemplating whether or not my beloved desk would do for a changing table), my office was turning into a messy shrine.  The camouflage of clutter was starting to fail me, and it hurt us to look through the doorway.

So today, I unpacked and threw away most of the contents of two boxes, boxes that have traveled with me from college, to grad school, to the big city, to this rural college town. I threw away old letters to old friends that I never mailed and tossed out old birthday and holiday cards. I packed away clothes and blankets, sorted through knick-knacks, and then dusted off my beautiful desk.

The baby things are still here, but most are neatly stacked in a corner, where they look more deliberate and less desperate somehow.  I put the hand castings in the closet, though.  I want to look at them, but not all of the time; sometimes I cannot remind myself of him enough but sometimes his loss is everywhere and the reminders are at once redundant and painful. I did leave the casting of his tiny feet on the shelf over my desk. I can see his wrinkly little heels as I write this. The cutest little feet in the world, I swear to you.

And for now that’s what feels right.

We have a long way to go, my office and me.  The closet needs sorting, and there are still two bags of assorted paperwork and old mail to weed through and organize.  Vacuuming wouldn’t hurt, either.  Maybe someday it will be the room of another baby, or not.

For now, though, I’ve made a space for myself.  And on this chilly October night I sit in my office, at my desk, writing and reading, settling into my space again in this room that was once completely mine. I share it now.  And while I’m no where near saying that it’s okay, this sharing that isn’t enough, not nearly enough, there’s a strange sort of peace to it. And hey, I’ll take any peace that I’m given.

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Friday’s child

October 24, 2008

According to the rhyme, Friday’s child is loving and giving,” unless, as Wikipedia tells me, you are reading the older version, in which case “Friday’s child is full of woe. Frankly, I think that my own Friday’s child would have been a holy terror, stubborn as his mom and tough and precocious as his dad. The killer, of course, is that we don’t get to know.

On this Friday, I’m just so tired.  I miss our Teddy and I miss the person I used to be before we lost him.  I think it is on Fridays that I feel farthest removed from the energy and assurance of my lost past self.

I want to celebrate him at least a little on this day, but is hard to do at the end of a long week (right now, they are all long; that’s just the way it is).  On Fridays I realize that I’ve been holding on by the skin of my teeth for five days in order to be at work and get things done and that the effort has taken more out of me than I knew.  Part of what this exhaustion does is that my mama-animal-mind cannot be silenced or calmed by my intellect and the pounding refrain of “I want him back” returns.

After the second day of my induction (a Thursday), we knew that Teddy would be born on a Friday, and this thought gave me hope and made me smile.  Friday is the favorite day of Erica-who-was, the culmination of the work week and the beginning of respite. Now Friday is the day they found that bit of muconium in the amniotic fluid, the day of internal probes (which really should have come after the epidural), the day of fever, oxygen, panic, hope, and then of failing hope.  It is a hard day.

But, reading this amazing post over at glow in the woods reminds me that the Friday Teddy came into the world is also a day when I found myself immersed in depths of love the like of which I’d not even imagined.  It is hard, hard, to think of this entire experience as a gift – I balk against it even though it makes me uncomfortable in a way that tells me I need to think about it.  For now I will settle on knowing that meeting Theodore, seeing him for the first time – that was undeniably a gift.

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What’s up with this?

October 23, 2008

Music has brought out the emotional wreck in me since the beginning of my pregnancy.  Seriously, during my first trimester I watched the movie, Honey on TV and cried at each dance number.  Yes, that Honey, the one with Jessica Alba.  I’m a freak.

But that said, is it bizarre or worrisome that I get the damned Chili’s jingle stuck in my head and then cry, and then laugh at myself?  Because while I do want my baby back, baby back, baby back, it’s impossible, especially when the barbecue sauce part runs through my head, not to see that this is ridiculous.  And I don’t even like ribs.

If I ever cry while listening to “Baby Got Back,” I will plead for an intervention.

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Little ambushes

October 22, 2008

Just outside the entry to the library where I work are three rows of rowing machines, operated by athletic young men and women who are participating in a row-athon for the March of Dimes. It’s a very good idea, for a very good cause, and I almost went up to them today to thank them on behalf of my little family, but they have a life-sized baby doll with a little blue hat near their sign, and little blue hats, apparently, need to be added to the list of things that make me cry. Even when worn by plastic baby dolls, which feels kind of pathetic.

I’m part of a university commission to improve work and life for women students and employees and last Friday we spent quite some time at the monthly meeting discussing child care. It’s important, and like many workplaces we need to be better at it, but I really just kept thinking, I’d give a lot to have that problem right now. I left the meeting early partly to avoid being made chair of anything (I couldn’t do a good job of that right now) but mainly to lock myself in my office and make use of some tissues.

And then there is West Wing, which I’ve been watching on DVDs rented from the public library. Ah, West Wing, my retreat from all things baby-related, my escape from real-life politics which seem so bogged down in pettiness sometimes that I’ve started fantasizing about emmigration, how you have failed me. My favorite character, Toby Ziegler, and his ex have twins in season four. I had accepted the upcoming presence of babies in my safe haven of a TV show; I was okay with it. But then they went and named the boy Huckleberry. Little Huck. And it’s silly and almost funny, but I felt betrayed for a moment, hearing our baby’s prenatal name in this show I’ve been turning to for relief. To make matters worse, because of the overall coolness of the show, I may now owe N an apology for laughing when he suggested Huckleberry as a real name for Teddy. And of course the baby in the episode was wearing a little blue hat, which brings me back to where I started, I think.

These aren’t the hardest ambushes, they’re just the little ones.