Sunday, December 28, 2008

On birth announcements and anger

I'm going to piss someone off here, I am sure. But, it's my space so here is where I get to dump my maybe petty, maybe serious, gripes with 'issues' that I am otherwise compelled to keep quiet about.

So here goes.
As surprising as this may seem, we actually kept my pregnancy with Cason fairly quiet. We didn't tell anyone who wouldn't actually see me during the nine or so months I was carrying him. The exception was some family, of course, and my one good girlfriend up in San Francisco. The reasons are obvious. It just needed to be us. I didn't want the cheerleaders or the questions. I couldn't deal with either or the inevitable,"Oh, everything will be fine." reassurances that were sure to follow if I actually shared my running fears with anyone who dared ask me how I was doing or how the pregnancy was going. It was hard enough dealing with it with the people who did know and did see me everyday, I didn't want to invite anyone else into the bubble.
Even my husband kept the secret from his colleagues at work until I was past the point where we lost Caleb and even then he only shared the information with a few close confidants. I think we all understand the anxiety that was so tightly wrapped around the disclosing of this little tidbit of information. And the obvious unwillingness to not have to untell this story should everything go wrong again.
Fast forward the nine months and the safe arrival of our beautiful boy. Now came the time to actually do the telling. The birth announcement. So much to be told in one simple piece of card stock. I wanted the whole story of Cason to be there, not just his vital stats. This was not an ordinary pregnancy and Cason is more than just another social security statistic. He is the 'happy ending', right? He is the punctuation of a story that has been unfolding for two some years. He is the ending of one book and the beginning of a sequel, but his birth was the overlapping of the two stories and it needed, for me, to be told just like that. I needed both my boys to have a part in the telling. They both needed to be there in the announcement because they were both a part of the story. I couldn't leave Caleb out. He was/is too important a piece of Cason's life to ignore him.
Turns out they really don't make birth announcements for babies born after a stillbirth. They don't have a generic, fill in the blanks for that. There isn't any sample wording or examples of others to choose from. I had to come up with it on my own. My husband and I talked about the wording, how to fit all of the details into a few small words. How to pay tribute to Caleb and also celebrate Cason. I took to heart the symbols that I have come to know that represent loss and babies after. And when it was all said and done I found the right words, after about a hundred different variations were eliminated, and I found a wonderful printer who was able to create the perfect piece for us.

Here it is:
I love it. I covered up our names, but they are the last two lines on the left side. I'm not sure, before I post it if you will be able to read the print. If not, it reads,

After the storm
came our rainbow...
Cason Patrick
November 17, 2008
seven pounds, twelve ounces
twenty inches

(Left corner)
Welcomed with love
and open arms by
(our names)
(our names)

(Right Corner)
Always loved~Never forgotten
Caleb Robert
Born Still
September 1, 2007

Now comes the part where I piss people off, maybe.

Several things have happened since the announcements went out. First, alot of surprised people have reached out to us to help welcome Cason. Lots of gifts have been delivered, cards mailed, the usual baby things, for which I am grateful, don't get me wrong. Second, besides my immediate family and my one girlfriend in SF, NO ONE has mentioned Caleb or his inclusion on the card at all.

What's worse, I have received cards congratulating us on our 'third' child, I have also received cards and even a hand written letter on the 'grace and power of God' in bringing us Cason. One person, who I ran into in a store, who I only know from my sons sport, after seeing me and the baby (I told her the whole story months ago) said right off, "PRAISE GOD!" because you know, it's all about HIM.

And then there are the stalkers. The ones who never sent a thing when Caleb died but who want to be all over Cason. They call or stop by wanting to know all the details about Cason but overtly ignore that little elephant in the room named Caleb. Even still, there are no words of sympathy or compassion. It feels more like now they can be around me because I'm normal again. Or at least I don't make them feel uncomfortable anymore. I guess to them I don't look like a dead baby mom anymore. Idiots.

And the God stuff. Oh Holy Crap, that makes my skin bristle and my eyes burn. I mean, I am not a religious person, as you may have noticed about me, but I still do have enough faith in me that I wouldn't call myself agnostic, yet. So to suddenly send me a card or say to me, after losing my son a mere year and some months ago, that GOD somehow now decided to give me this baby instead, that GOD decided to let this baby live, that GOD is totally responsible for this, well, it makes me crazy angry. Unless, of course, you're willing to then let me blame Caleb dying all on GOD. As I said to one of my girlfriends after the run in with the sport mom, if it's "Praise God" now what was it a year ago? Hmmm, let me guess, "FUCK GOD", right? I know it's awful, they are awful words to write. And the thing of it is, it's not what I believe anyway. I don't believe, if there is a God, that she or he, micromanages us like that. I'm sorry, but if God has time to pick and choose which of my children are going to live or die inside me or outside me for that matter, what the fuck is going on with all of the children who are starving to death all over the world. Or the ones who are being tortured, raped, maimed, terrorized, suffering from terminal illnesses....the list goes on. And I know the answer to that too. At least I know their answer, "The Mystery, The Plan". Don't question the omnipotent OZ, ooops I mean God.

Come on, people. Open your eyes. At least, if only for my benefit, pretend for a while that common sense is some small part of your religion. If you can't, it's okay, but please, spare me the sharing then, of your beliefs, cuz they sure as hell aren't mine.

Can you imagine if I walked into a funeral for someones baby and announced to the parents, "Boy, God sure must not like you or your baby much. But Praise God!" But of course, the true believers will tell you that God called the baby home and that this is all part of that 'Plan'. And we can't understand it cuz we're too dumb.

I'm not dumb. I'm not evil. I don't even hate God. Unless of course that "Plan" thing is true, then I really do have some serious issues with God. I think bad shit happens to good people. I think bad shit happened to me, to my family, to Caleb. I don't need a bigger, universal reason to explain it. I needed a medical one and luckily I got a pretty decent one. Decent enough to allow us to try again being reasonably certain that particular cause wouldn't happen to us or another baby again. I don't blame God, much. I'm not enough of a lapsed Catholic to have released all of my Catholic guilt. It took years to drill it in to me, it's gonna take the rest of my life I suspect to get it out. So in my moments of weakness, I do call out to God and I have even asked for help. I immediately retract it, reminding myself that I don't believe that God has time for personal prayers, but I still do it.

Funny thing is, this summer when I was rushing my daughter to the ER and I was trying not to be hysterical after my son asked me if she was going to die, I screamed and raged in my head, "You're not taking another one, I won't let you!". Which was stunning to me because that normally would have been a time when I would have fallen back on my praying or more accurately, bargaining with God. But I was so scared and tired of being scared the only thing I had in me was the anger.

And still, it remains, the anger. But, I've kept it in. I haven't rammed my beliefs down anyone's throat.

Now, if everyone else could just show me the same courtesy. That'd be great.

Oh, and one more thing. Please, stop asking us if we are going to have anymore children. Seriously.

P.S. God, if you are reading this I want to tell you, well, you know cuz you can read my mind, right? Thanks.


Hope's Mama said...

K I am SO stealing this idea when/if I welcome another baby in to this world. I just love it. We did send out thank you/birth annoucement cards for Hope though. Just a bit off a "eff you" really, as I didn't want her to miss out on one of these, just because of the lack of a heartbeat.
Your relationship with god sounds much like mine. Don't feel too bad, there are plenty of us out here.

Steph said...

kalaky, this is such a timely post. I have blogged myself about family having their noses out of joint from having to find out about this sub pregnancy through the grapevine, rather than from me, myself. I am honestly stunned at the thought of them being angry at me, but whatever. I have no time or desire for those who had nothing to say about the "big elephant" in the room, but enthusiastically want to chat about this baby, that everything will go well for, they just know it. If you couldn't even acknowledge my daughter's existence a year ago, I sure don't want to hear from you now, no matter how great the crap is you're peddling. Arrgh. People suck.

Sophie said...

I'm with Sally on this one. I am so gonna do this too. You're right, another baby is the happy ending/conclusion of it all. It is both babies story. You put it perfectly.

Steph is right, people suck.

Cynthia said...

I find your reflections on God more refreshing than many of the so called believers you reference.

And I too love your birth announcement. It's perfect.

charmedgirl said...

that's a beautiful announcement. i'm actually surprised that no one's come forward to tell you how *wrong* it was to include caleb. i guess i expect the worst of people, not to say that not to mention it AT ALL isn't pretty bad. i suspect that they don't know what to say and it's just so much easier for them to focus on the living one. i've come to the conclusion that trying to make anyone understand that doesn't have their own dead baby is just futile...i've even given up telling people who ask me about how many children i have, when i used to make a point of saying it.

OMG, really, if this ivf works...i dream about not telling anyone, like, EVER!! really, i don't think i'd be able to handle the bullshit conversations, the fucking "encouragement." BLEHHH i freak out just thinking about it...

CLC said...

It makes perfect sense to me why you didn't share your pregnancy with Cason with too many people. And as for the God talk, I can't explain it. I had a similar rant about God and someone commented that these comments usually come from simplistic minds (or something like that). I guess it makes them feel better, even if it does make them look totally ignorant. I am sorry you are dealing with them.

And what a beautiful birth announcement. I love that you included Caleb!

Tash said...

Lovely announcement K. I think people are generally blown away by a display of love and heart that they could never in a million years understand or muster the courage to do. They probably think you put the evil hex on by including it (I know my IL's would) and ergo don't want to make things worse by *bringing it up.* Shhhhh.

You're a wonderful Mom, you do know that, right?

Amy said...

That is the most awesomely beautiful announcement ever!!
I love how you incorporated Caleb with Cason there! What a cool idea!

I've said from the day I decided I wanted to try again,that NO ONE will know! I will lock myself away for 9 months and not tell a soul! We'll of course see how that works for me as I'm not good at being silent!

Sending you love and big huge hugs...none of the gooey G** stuff! I promise! BTW, I have told G** that once I get there I have a fist for his face and a knee for his you know and then he WILL answer my questions and yes, I know he can handle it!

janis said...

Beautiful, beautiful announcement, kalakly.
I am sorry about people's reactions, esp wrt G-d. I hate that Praise Lord thing too, and the G-d willing part. I hear your anger over people's reactions.... I guess some people just will never get it, or understand how our wretched hearts feel. ((hugs))

c. said...

I have to say I'm not surprised by the reaction you've received from the announcement, the inability to acknowledge Caleb, the inclination to praise G.o.d. for Cason's safe arrival, which, as you know, I think is just shit. Pure. shit. But, isn't this reaction what we've been getting since losing our babies, haven't we been constantly disappointed by friends or family or acquaintances? I think these people show us exactly who they are in their responses. And it's not good.

I'm sorry these people have disappointed you, K. You gave them an opportunity to redeem themselves, I'm sorry they didn't have it in them to seize the opportunity, to acknowledge the role little Caleb played in Cason's life, to become better (ie. more sensitive, more empathetic) people in your eyes.

The announcement is beautiful, but you knew I'd say that ;o)

As an aside, I created a deadbaby announcement when Callum died. I never sent out a birth announcement for S or K, but for my deadbaby, not sending out an announcement was not an option. I think the desire to have my son acknowledged was just too big. It still is. I think it always will be. XO.

AG said...

I really love your birth announcement. If I'm ever able to get pregnant again and if the baby lives, I'd love to steal your idea. It's absolutely beautiful.

I live in the Bible Belt and often heard the "praise Gaawd" phrase after our baby died. I'd also hear "your baby is in heaven with Jeeesus". I'm sure I blew them away when I'd reply "my baby isn't in heaven. She's dead, in the grave, waiting for a resurrection like Lazarus." Hey, if they can try to comfort me with their beliefs, I can throw mine back, right?

m said...

I absolutely love your announcements. Both of your boys are beautiful. You did such a wonderful job with the wording. Really wonderful.

This is a timely post for me too. I don't talk about god too much on my blog because once I start to rant, I can't stop. I am pretty sure there is a god out there, but I see nothing benevolent or kind or loving about him/her/it. And that is something that most people really don't care to read. But it's how I feel.

We just lost our twin girls at almost 22 weeks and so far (SO far) I haven't gotten a "it's god's will" comment yet. If I do, I am sure you will hear my rage across states.

I am so saddened that there are folks coming out of the wordwork now to celebrate when they were absent when you needed them also to mourn. And even sadder that no one wants to talk about a big elephant that happens to be your other son. Sigh. I wish I could offer something more here than empathy and some virtual hugs.

Thank you for getting this all down in words. Thanks for this post.

Ya Chun said...

Love the birth announcement. You'd think people would get it....

God is an easy excuse for folks - they really don't think about it sometimes. God did this great thing - I guess the devil does the bad stuff. Don't know. It bugs me when people put their beliefs into my life. Don't share the 'word of god' with me. You'd think people would know you well enough to know this...

Reese said...

As people are finding out, I am wondering how those who don't will respond. I assume I will get a similar response, and will ignore most of it.

God knows where I stand with him. We are at a little bit of an impasse, agreeing to disagree. That alone seems to not sit well with people.

Incidentally, thanks for your continued support lately. I am a bit of a basket case over here.....


Reba said...

We have just started talking about how to include our twins on a birth announcement (if this baby makes it, of course). Part of what we talked about was how we had to be okay with no one acknowledging their inclusion.

I can't even get started on the G-d crap. I can't even get a coherent sentence out about how angry it makes me when people say things like "Praise G-d" to us after the tragedies we've all been through.

Barbara said...

I love the announcement too and now I plan to include my George on the announcement of our second child whenever that may be.

(Hi by the way)

As for the religion thing, I have no beliefs but that doesn't stop the people I know who do from telling me that God wanted my baby for an angel... grrrr.

People do indeed suck.

Cara said...

Your announcement is perfect, just like your third and fourth children. I've said it before and I'll probably have to say in a great many more times...parenting a child in heaven is just as taxing as protecting our earthly ones.

You are a wonderful mother to ALL your children!

loribeth said...

I love the announcement! I have heard of doing this, but your phrasing is absolutely perfect. : ) I'm not surprised that nobody has said anything about it to you -- but I'm sure they are probably commenting behind your backs about it!

Meredith said...

I know I dont really know you, but i'm sorry about your baby.
I believe god has no say in what happens on earth. things happen or they don't. bad things happen, good things happen. he cant do anything about it. he cant touch anything on earth. in the end, he is there to care for the baby angels and other children in heaven. he wipes away their tears, but in the end he can't make it all better. because all he can to is watch.

Smiling said...

I popped over from Dead Baby Jokes. I like your word too:)

That is a wonderful announcement -- as in a really amazing way to introduce everyone to these two very important people in your life, even though obviously no one would ever want to write the words you had to write after Caleb's name. I am really shocked that anyone would only respond about one of your children. That to me is akin to only sending a present to one twin. I just don't get it.

I am honoured to learn both your youngest two's names. They are beautiful. Best wishes to your family in 2009.

Julia said...

What a lovely, gorgeous announcement. We didn't send any, and now I almost wish we did. We talked about both boys at the Cub's bris though, and that felt very right. (To all but MIL, but that's a story for another day, ahem.)

If there is ever something that pisses me off about people's reactions to us it's always the chickenshit stuff, the inability to be human and acknowledge, to meet our eyes, and to talk to our hearts. Bleh.

The other thing is the one-sided G-d conversations. Giving credit, but not blame. A little intellectual honesty, puh-leeze, people! I am sure it will be entirely unsurprising for you, but I also do not believe that G-d micromanages. As I told my rabbi, if G-d is sitting there supervising chromosome alignment and division (which is at fault in so many miscarriages), then G-d needs a hobby.

Oh, and we didn't tell. We didn't even tell the ILs till about 17 weeks. Because 1) I didn't want to shoot the breeze and talk about "when the baby is here"-- it's IF, and I didn't even want to talk about THAT; and 2) not with the person who was the world's biggest ass to us when our son died. The second reason is person-specific. The first is far more general.

I feel like saying it again-- beautiful announcements. Just beautiful.

ha. My word verification is "bring." Wonder what I was supposed to bring... :)

Michele said...

people are dumb. we have sent out announcements for each of our babies, combining them with their memorial Mass announcements. And each time someone says something dumb, I remind them. i am so sorry for what you are going through. it just isnt fair.

I love what you did. I think the announcements were beautiful and I'm sorry that others are just too self absorbed to share ALL of your children with you.

Tricia said...

We too acknowledged our first son on both of my subsequent children's birth announcements by stating little brother/sister to Connor X born silently 3/17/2004.

Not a single person (that didn't know about it beforehand) ever mentioned it to me. It made me wish I did holiday cards because I would list it there too until they finally acknowledged the elephant.

Tenielle said...

My uncle and auntie (db parents themselves) sent me a figurine of a little boy praying in front of a cross in that first week after my son died. I took great pleasure in breaking the cross off of it, then repainting the kid's head to hide the halo ;)

Ava Capin said...

You are a rock star. I'm 7 months pregnant with a girl, three years after the birth/death of our second son at 39 weeks and I took a chance and googled "birth announcement after stillbirth".

All the things that have pissed you off have already begun to make me crazy during this pregnancy, especially all the mentions to God and miracles. I am spiritual and believe in God but people say such dumb things sometimes.

Thank you for this! I feel less alone! I am also including my son in my birth announcement (hopefully this rainbow eill get to come home).

k@lakly said...

Hi Ava,

I am so sorry about your son. My heart breaks anew every time I hear from another new member to this awful ‘club’ of ours. Thank you, for your kind words in response to my post. While you may find this hard to believe, I also feel less alone, whenever I hear from another mom who is living the same nightmare, and hear that something I wrote offered some comfort to her along the way, even though it has been 8 years. The support we dead baby moms give each other is unparalled from those who have not walked in our shoes.

I will hold you and your daughter in my thoughts, and hope you will write me when she has safely arrived in your arms.

You are not alone. If you need a place to vent, or have questions, whatever, please email me.

k@lakly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.