welcome

Parents of lost babies and potential of all kinds: come here to share the technicolour, the vividness, the despair, the heart-broken-open, the compassion we learn for others, having been through this mess — and see it reflected back at you, acknowledged, understood.

Many thanks to artist Stephanie Sicore for allowing us to feature her little bird in our banner.

subscribe
categories
search
Powered by Squarespace
Monday
Mar302015

babylost fathers: a special call for submissions

One of the things this community has always been proud of is that we are not just a place for grieving moms. We are here for all babylost parents. Mothers and fathers, birth parents and partners and adoptive parents all come through our cabin door and stay awhile. We find ourselves in a relatively quiet moment here at Glow, with only a few babylost mamas writing, and we'd like to invite more male voices onto our front page. Our intent is to feature the writing of babylost fathers as guest posts throughout the month of June.

If you are a babylost father, even if you don't consider yourself a writer, we encourage you to write about how your loss(es) have affected you--your relationsips, your career, your faith, your outlook, the way you exist in this world. For our submission guidelines, you can look here on the Guest Writer Submissions page, and then you can submit your writing here.

Monday
Mar232015

from the archives: life's leverage

With this post in 2009, Chris became the first babylost father to begin writing for Glow in the Woods. One of only a handful of men voicing the pain of their losses in a community that often overlooks their right to grieve. Glow in the Woods is proud to be a community of mothers AND fathers, and we have been so honored to have Chris here with us these past six years.

Chris has decided it is time to step away from Glow. So today we say good-bye. Chris, we will miss your tender and brutal honesty, your beautiful writing, the way you named some feeling just right, the way you chose the perfect word for your image. Thank you for the voice you've brought to Glow, and for all of yourself that you have shared.

These days are brutal. They are less vividly awful than the first days and weeks and months after Silas Orion was born, but these days have a subtle ache and desperation that is deeper and more pervasive than the raw shock of his death. That experience was nearly impossible to comprehend and now, day by day, the specific truths of his absence are revealed in life-sized cascades of loss.

I don't just wake up anymore. I have to pry myself out of bed. I have to slit my eyes open with razors of truth and face the empty day as the pain bleeds away into the active motions of living. I manage to forget that I am wounded to my core sometimes. Sometimes I even have fun. Sometimes I just fake it real good.

Because that's what we do, right? We of this Terrible Tribe. We know things about the World that no one else understands. The depth of our pain is beyond fathoms or miles. Beyond lightyears. Our ache resonates in a space that is the size of an entire Universe.

It is the Universe that would have lived in each of our children's minds if they were here and we could hold them in our arms. If we could watch them grow and teach them about the beauty of the World, they, in turn, would show us everything we had forgotten about this amazing place.

There is a big difference between forgetting and learning, though. How do we hold on to the good that remains all around us while our guts trail behind us like a nauseous shadow? How did we come to this? This limbo? This World where everything is dangerous and uncertain and somehow still stunning? And how, while in this World, do we get up every fucking day and just go do shit that needs to get done?

I guess it's just more interesting to try to be strong and powerful than to just give in. At least it is for us, for now. We freak out and get pissed and cry and rage and then sometimes we laugh our asses off. An example would be sledding down the icy hill in New Hampshire this weekend where we zoomed into laughter and then nearly into the trees. Danger loomed, I felt it. At least we ran towards it knowing.

I see people all the time who don't believe that life can be terrible and I just want to shake them until they see. But that doesn't help anything. The only way to know this is to go through it, and it is nothing I would ever wish on anyone.

My wishes don't matter, though, that's obvious. Everyone will experience loss and pain and tragedy in their lives. We just happened to get shafted early and good. That is why it is so important to celebrate every joy and happiness and beauty that we can find in our daily lives and in our dreams.

Resentment and jealousy leave a stench on my soul that I loathe. I try to push those feelings into calm acceptance. This is the only life I get to lead, and I must do better now for Silas, too. I hold him in my heart every moment of the day, and when I see his stars above at night, I feel their distant heat on my cool winter skin.

I hold Lu's hand and we walk. We push nothing but we pull each other along and somehow have some fun on another brutal night. Today it was Guinness and a snowstorm. Tomorrow, who knows.

Monday
Mar162015

tender

Death is suddenly everywhere I don’t mean to look.

We watch the movie Labor Day thinking we will be watching a steamy love story, but no, it is really about babyloss. Stillbirth. Miscarriage. Accidental drowning. I hold onto A’s shoulder, appalled that I talked her so unwittingly into watching this movie with me.

My dad comes to visit and we pick that old classic, Stand by Me. I think it will be good to watch with my dad, like getting some small glimpse into his 1950’s childhood. I hadn’t remembered the whole premise of the movie is that the boys are going into the woods to see the real dead body of a boy who went missing. And that the movie is actually about the main character’s grief—his brother has just died—and he doesn’t know what to do with his brother’s sudden, enormous absence.

I take my fifth graders to Washington, D.C. for two days of sight-seeing and civics education and find myself standing in Arlington Cemetery listening to the tour guide tell us we are about to see the Kennedys’ graves, which include Jacqueline Kennedy’s son who lived two days, and an unnamed daughter who was stillborn. Catholics, the tour guide says, don’t christen babies who are stillborn and so they don’t get named, and I think, How cruel. The Kennedys were already deprived on their daughter, and Church tradition deprived them of her name.

And then, ten pages into the novel A lent me to read on the long bus ride, there is another baby dead before it was born.

I know these storylines were always around me, and I just never noticed, didn’t take them in, but it feels like they are multiplying. They are anywhere, everywhere.

I want to cry over these real and fictional deaths but I’m afraid that if I start, I’ll never stop. The ghosts of dead babies and children are everywhere. Where a few months ago I felt Joseph’s death had given me a greater capacity to handle the sorrows of others, now I don’t want to hear about them. I don’t want to handle them. 

 

Do you watch movies or read books where babyloss is a theme? How do they affect you?

Sunday
Mar012015

No place called home

Four walls, a floor. A roof, and a door. Doors leading to other four walls, windows leading to the other side, the outside. Maybe even a window looking up at the sky? All this, and our things, our dreams, our moments, our memories.

This is what made a home to me. Real estate can assess location, square footage and price all it wants, all I wanted were walls, a floor, and a roof. A few doors and a few windows. All I wanted was a place for my children to grow up in, to make mischief and messes in, and to spread their wings from. A vagabond my whole married life, I wanted permanence, mundaneness, busyness, tiredness. Just an ordinary life bringing up, running with, holding up, my two children.

The walls fell down. The floor cracked, the roof gaped open. The door led in cold, frozen air. The windows were fogged with the breathlessness of death. When the carnage was over, and death left our broken little family stranded in the dark, all that remained of my home was the window to the sky. A suspended window that I look out of every day, toward the sky. Toward the new home of my little explorer.

Do Raahi-s, do explorers, do those on a constant, eternal journey, ever have a home? Surely there is a symbolism in her spending her whole life in a hospital, traveling with us after coming to live with us, and dying in a hotel?

We have spent this past month and half looking for a house to buy. Our means are limited, our list is not long either. We don’t need a lot of space. We just need a place to call our own.

And yet, after a day of looking at homes, making and comparing lists, and focusing on little and big things, as I lay in bed one night, I wondered, is there a place I can really call my own? Should there truly be the security, the certainty of a home for Raahi’s family, when they have been through the harshest insecurity and uncertainty of life itself? Our smallest, newest member, true to her name, never claimed anyone, anything as her own, and lived and died in two temporary places, from where people come and go, and never stay for long. She did not have a room assigned to her, nor a dedicated nursery awaiting her big arrival. Depending on her graduate student father’s new employment, however, her parents had rented the biggest home they would ever live in, in a place far away from her birthplace, and the hospital she was born and lived in.

Her mother, rocking Raahi every day on a hospital-provided rocker near her crib in the NICU, with the clock ticking to the time she would have to put her baby down and head home alone, wished for no new furniture, but a rocker, in her new home. She dreamed of placing it next to the big glass door leading to the backyard. There, after her husband and son would leave for work and school, she would sit and hold Raahi, hold her all day long. She would get up to change and feed her, and sit back again. She would sing to Raahi, play with her fingers, look into her big bright eyes, move her fingers gently on her face, her neck and arms, and tell her that she is finally home, never to go anywhere again, never to be away from her family again. Her mother had promised Raahi, putting her back every night into her crib in the hospital, that she would never put her down at home, and hold her so much and so long, that they would both forget they were ever apart. She had dreamed of taking her little baby out on walks, and of placing her on a mat in the backyard. There, she had promised Raahi, they would have their own little picnic. Raahi would play, lying down, the warm sun on her cheeks, the gentle breeze blowing her black hair, and sometimes making her bright eyes blink, as her mom sat next to her. In the evening, after “the boys” would come home, they would gather near the kitchen, and Raahi would play with her brother, in her playpen, as Ma and Baba watched and cooked dinner.

That was my dream for a home. That was my dream home.

Nine days before our rental home became available, Raahi died in the hotel. She never came to this home, and I vowed never to sit on a rocker again. I seldom go near the door to the backyard, and I do not like the warm sun or the gentle breeze on my face or hair anymore. Her few things were placed in a box, her playpen never unpacked from the move, and they were all stowed away in the guestroom closet. There I sometimes sit, closing the door and liking the darkness and the closedness of the closet. I often stop at the driveway, and look at this home, thinking how it can be home if she never came here. I often wonder if I would have been able to live here, if she had died here.

Owning a home is a big step and a lifestyle change. “You don’t need to compromise, you have to be happy in it,” chimes our confident realtor. She often comments on how easygoing and “reasonable” clients we are, liking most things, accommodating others. She knows about Raahi, and is patient with us not knowing how many bedrooms we need in a home. “If I were to have another baby” is a sentence I utter during every showing she arranges for us. Even the uncertainty of a future pregnancy seems to be a stronger determinant of our needs than the reality of a lost child. Raahi is never assigned a room. She has no need that we know of.

Here, in our quest to plant our roots in a new community, I feel uprooted as Raahi’s mother. I, a true gypsy who felt unsettled her whole life, had come home with my daughter. My explorer had settled me. Then she left alone on her voyage. Am I true to her legacy if I settle down? Can there be a home for us when she is on a journey?

Four walls, a roof. A floor, a door. A few windows, one always, always opening to the sky. A place to live and grow old in, and a place to house my broken family. Maybe a refuge from the storm, maybe a hideout from the outside world. But never to fill out the empty space, and always temporary, always by the road, always incomplete.

Never a home.

 

What thoughts did you harbor about bringing up your family in your home? What does "home" mean to you after the death of your child(ren)?

Monday
Feb232015

from the archives: make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh

As I've been looking through the archives, I came across this piece posted by Jess about laughing, and it struck a chord. Not because it's the way I felt--actually I don't remember doing a lot of laughing, hysterical or otherwise, after Joseph died--but because this piece is so different from my own experience. I'm even a little bit envious of this ability to laugh. To me, laughter can be a shield. A way to deflect the hurtful or misguided or inane things other people say and do. And I've never been very good at that. No, that's an understatement. I'm terrible at it. 

This was originally posted in August of 2011.

~ Burning Eye

 

My daughter had a tiny little coffin. It was small and white. It was also free. They don’t charge for baby coffins in England. How do you put a price on honouring the memory of your child? They don’t charge for baby funerals at all, unless you want something out-of-the-ordinary.

We wanted ordinary. We wanted the ordinary alive baby that other people took home. Instead we had an ordinary little coffin.

We discussed our wishes with the funeral director. She showed us a death catalogue: the caskets, the urns, the cars. She said ‘you can have any car you want, even a Limo.’ We turned away, our shoulders shaking. She left the room, respectful of our grief.

But we weren’t crying.

She offered us the limo and our eyes met. We knew we were thinking the same thing. We were thinking of driving up and down the main drag of our city hanging out the windows of the limo like kids on their way to prom; whooping it up with our little tiny corpse.

We laughed. Because what the fuck else would we do?

 

The day after we’d been to see Iris for the last time, I was gathering the hot, fresh laundry from our dryer. I held it in my arms and breathed deeply. David said ‘isn’t it nice, having something warm to hold?’ Loaded silence. Hysterical laughter.

We laughed. Because what the fuck else would we do?

We overheard our living daughter and her little friend. They were playing a crying game. They were sobbing huge, fake sobs. ‘Oh boo hoo. Oh boo hoo hoo. We are so sad. Boo hoo hoo hoo. We are so sad that baby Iris is dead. Boo hoo.’

We laughed.

A relative brought a gift for me. A lovely, well-meaning, slightly misguided gift. Iris scented soap-on-a-rope. Because who wouldn’t wash their armpits with sweet babylost memories?

We laughed.

A former colleague bemoaned the lack of sympathy extended to her when her cat had an operation: ‘when Jess’ baby died, everyone was so supportive, but no one seems to care as much about my cat.’ 

We laughed.

When I was pregnant with my son, we'd high-five after every sonogram: 'Woohoo! Let's give it up for an evident HEARTBEAT!'

We laughed

Today my husband had a bad day. A very bad day. He said 'well... no one died... No, wait, actually she did!'

We laughed.

We laughed.

We laughed.

Because what the fuck else would we do?

 

And the questions, as Jess originally posted: What makes you laugh now, following the loss of your baby or babies? Do you find humour in the darkest of places, or are some things Just Not Funny?