Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dead babies last forever

"My soul was a burden, bruised and bleeding. It was tired of the man who carried it, but I found no place to set it down to rest. Neither the charm of the countryside nor the sweet scents of a garden could soothe it. It found no peace in song or laughter, none in the company of friends at the table or in the pleasure of love, none even in books or poetry...Where could my heart find refuge from itself? Where could I go, yet leave myself behind?"*

It was serendipitous, stumbling across this quote when I did, just after posting the picture of the tattered and dying rose** that has somehow managed to bear new life from the center of it's withering bud. It answers the question. From somewhere deep within, where no beauty can be seen, the potential for new life waits. What it will look like, the new life, that is the million dollar question. That is the mystery that is grief.
It's hard writing here now. I feel the need to be more careful with my words. To censor thoughts and feelings so as not to wound, albeit without intention, another. I am keenly aware of the divergence of our paths, those of us who have somehow stumbled our way onto the road of life with a live baby after, those who are well on their way to that path and those that are not, some by choice, some by cruel design, some a combination of the two, choice and design. And of course, none of these women got there because they happily decided, "Hey, no more babies for me, I'm done!". And really, for some the decision hasn't even been made by them, but for them and in direct opposition to their wants and hopes and dreams.
The idea that any of us really gets to choose our path is ludicrous isn't it? We all know, or think we know, which path we want, but the reality of it is that we end up on whichever road fate decides and the only real power we have is how we choose to live while we walk. It's not good or bad, it just is what it is.
A year ago today I was at my lowest. It was the end of a cycle, one where we had 'really' tried and still nothing. I had visions of the rest of my life, or at least my ovaries lives, being nothing more than rounds of trying and 2ww's and pissy trips to the store to buy tampons and alcohol, lots of it. I saw myself in DBL watching and reading as slowly each and everyone of the women who I had come to know would become pregnant and get her 'almost happily ever after' baby. I envisioned myself the ancient gatekeeper to DBL, welcoming the new members with my tale of woe, only to them it would be a cautionary tale, the story none of them really wanted to hear because I didn't get my live baby ticket out of Dodge. No one would want to be near me. Or at least they could explain me away by rationalizing that I was afflicted with that "AMA" syndrome, more commonly known as advanced maternal age, which must be why I didn't get the baby. She's all dried up they would say, she waited too long, that won't happen to us....we hope. I imagined it because it was what I did when I read. I tried to find reasons to explain to myself why someone else's tragedy wouldn't befall me IF I got there, you know, pregnant, again. Sometimes it worked, most times it didn't. We all know there are far too many more stories where there just is no reason why it happened than there are ones where we can blame someone or something, anything. And beyond that even, nothing is guaranteed, nothing certain, not when it comes to live babies anyway.
Off I went to the store, bought my industrial size box of tampons, vowing not to have to come back and do the walk of shame month after month, and I dove into a glass of 'make it all go away' when I got home. It was the last month I had to do it. And we all know what happened after that.
Now when I write, I find myself writing to that me. The scared, desperate and hopeless me. The me I was a year ago, not the me I am now. Because I can hear the chorus in my head of the ones who are 'there' when I write otherwise, either in a post or in a comment. "Easy for you to say, YOU have a baby now." "You don't know what it's like anymore, you got out easy." "Don't blow sunshine and glitter into my world, you didn't have it when you were here and you didn't want to hear it either." I can go on and on but there's no need. You get it. And maybe it's not what anyone really feels but it must be close on some level.
I suppose the dbl club is an evolving one with many rooms. We all go in and gather in the front room, our eyes moist, glazed and shell shocked. We cling to each other, fighting for every breath. We talk because finally we have found others who know. Slowly we find comfort, we get comfortable, we move, we explore our new surroundings, we seek out others who have been there longer, we look for ways out or at least other places to go, we gather information, we garner strength and we welcome those who come after hoping to show them the same warmth that we found when we entered. And after a while our stories change, our needs change, our voices change. We all still share that horror of a common bond but now we find ourselves different again, each one of us unique in our grief and our life after. There is a room for each of us to be sure, no one will ever be alone and there is comfort in that.
In a way I think that getting a baby after has inflicted a kind of survivors guilt in me. The feeling that I was a part of the horrific crash that devastated all of us but somehow I walked away less damaged or less entitled to feel damaged because I have a baby now. And in reality, having the baby does make it better. It just does. There. I said it. It doesn't make the grief better but it does make the living with it better. Infinitely better. And that's the part that brings the guilt. And I don't write this as a complaint or a whine or anything of the sort. It's an observation. A feeling. A way of being. For now. Something else I've learned along the way, everything is temporary around here.
Except for the dead babies. They last forever.
*St. Augustine
**See my last post


ezra'smommy said...

Wow, so much I can say about this post. From what you write, I AM the you of a year ago, grieving my son, trying and trying to conceive his younger sibling...not a lot of hope left. And yet I read your blog and those of others who have managed the insurmountable feat of bringing home a living baby after such such a devastating loss of another...and its just about the only thing that lets me still have that hope.

Reese said...

I don't believe that because you now have a living child that you no longer belong in DBL. I wrote a post about the audacity of hope early on in this journey. There is no medal for grief, who has the worst stories. They all suck. They all hurt. The paths after the story does not change the story.

Ya Chun said...

I don't think that you need to self edit.

I read the blogs that I think are well written (no not typos and mistakes due to rushing/gushing - but that there is some brain behind the writing). I like that everyone is in a different place - all are inspiring to me. And I can see that I still have hope for myself, no matter the outcome. (although I AM really hoping to raise a little rugrat of my own).

And part of the good writing - authenticity. So, please, be true to yourself.

If I ever need to be in a different room, I can always edit my google reader...

Tash said...

I think you need to be true to yourself, here in your blog. I don't think you're one to go trotting the rainbow farting unicorn in other people's comments where it doesn't belong precisely because you know what it's like to have been there and read that nonsense. So I really wouldn't worry about it. Like you said, you're still the house, just a different room. And we're all going to keep knocking to find out whassup.

Having said that: sometimes when I read the occasionally happy glowy post from someone I honestly don't know what to say. Some days I'm truly happy and can muster that, but some days I don't feel like being the poop cloud in the room, and I bow out. But that's me, not the writer, and they're entitled to put up anything they damn well please as far as I'm concerned.

so, er, keep it coming!

Michele said...

Grief is such a hard thing... Sometimes I dont even know who I am anymore.

CLC said...

I don't think you blow sunshine up anyone's ass. I can see what you are saying, and maybe someone new to this club might have a hard time reading you right this moment, but you have been nothing but an inspiration to me. And just because you now have a live baby in your arms doesn't mean you don't have the right to talk about the baby who's not here. If anything ,I would think you would need to talk about him more. So please don't self edit, and please don't go anywhere!

niobe said...

I feel that survivor's guilt too. And I worry about what I say because I know too many people who are stumbling along paths I can only imagine.

Dalene said...

I, too, garner hope from stories like yours. Right now, I'm straddling the space between all-consuming grief and live baby land, waiting for this new one to arrive safely. It's a tough road, so it helps to know that others have passed safely through to the other side.

charmedgirl said...

you ain't kidding, huh?

here i am, one of the (short yellow bus) *special* ones. and yeah, sometimes i read posts about post-pregs and post-babies and i just can't comment. and i don't have to. but i still like to read about how it is, how different it is, how the same it is. i actually feel the same kind of thing when i post or comment because i have three other live kids. i mean, i've been at a place where i thought i'd never have a baby at all, during four infertile years. that sucked ass. i now know about having a dead baby, THAT also sucks ass. but at the same time? no other babies, wondering if one will EVER exist, WITH a dead baby on top of it???? no way jose. but it gives me perspective; even though i have alive kids already, it still SUCKS MAJOR ASS! and having a baby after, i know in my heart, it still SUCKS MAJOR ASS. just not as much.

Julia said...

Sometimes I think that I am really odd because I never did think either that a live baby would be my ticket out or that the grief ever really stops, no matter how many children you have before or after. I absolutely cop to having thought the acute phase would be a matter of months. Six months seemed so impossibly far away that I just expected to be a lot better by then. Ha!

I don't exactly censor myself. My blog, when I started it, wasn't meant as a purely dead baby blog. It was my life after, which meant a lot of things in my mind, including life with any subsequent children, should I be so lucky. But I find that most of the time things I want to write about have some connection to the dead baby thing. A rather esoteric connection some days, but still. And yes, some days I am very conscious of the whole "easy for you to say" thing. And there are some days when I feel that saying anything at all to a particular person would be wrong, would be rubbing them in my abundance. And boy do I ever feel the abundance. The joy. All the time. But the hole, too, I feel it. It doesn't go away because another lives. I knew it wouldn't, I expected that it wouldn't. But all of that was theoretical, like the way I knew a subsequent pregnancy would be hard, theoretically. And then I was in it, and I was finding out practically, for real, and it was a lot worse than I could've imagined. And so it is with the grief now-- I expected it to stay, I jut didn't know what it would really feel like. And now I do.

K D said...