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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.

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Monday
Jan192015

naming

We weren’t sure we would name you.

We didn’t know about these things. We didn’t know when I went to the hospital that everything wouldn’t be okay. We didn’t know babies could die. We didn’t know they should be held, and named, and remembered.

We didn’t know you.

We didn’t even know you were a boy. Even as the second ultrasound confirmed your death, we didn’t want to know.

So we hadn’t given you a name. We had two picked out for you, a girl’s and a boy’s, and a nickname combination of the two that your mommy called you on an occasional silly night.

You were, to us, simply, Our Baby.

Then you were born, and we held you, featherlight. I could barely look at your bruised and purple face. We knew this was not you, you’d already gone. The dreams we had for you, gone. The names we had planned for you gone, too.

But you were our baby, and holding you, we knew we had to name you. A family name, like the others, one from both sides of your family tree. But one that no one living held. We couldn’t name our dead boy after anyone alive.

So we chose your name, Joseph. Never thinking that anyone would utter it again. Never thinking anyone would speak of you, remember you.

We didn’t know about these things. We didn’t know your death was not the end. We didn’t know your name should be whispered, written, shouted, sung.

 

We never dreamed you would become your name.

 

Did you name your baby or babies? How did you choose their names?

Monday
Jan122015

it's okay

We are honored to have Christine's mom as our guest writer today. She writes, "My daughter Christine was stillborn almost two years ago, in March 2013. For me, a big part of this journey has been learning to let myself feel whatever it is I am feeling in connection with her stillbirth and my life without her - the anger, the sadness, and, when I can find it, the quiet calm. It has taken me a long time to do this, to let go of timetables or expectations for my grief, and simply experience it for what it is. This poem tries to capture part of this journey, as well as what I think I needed to hear in those early days of my grief."

 

Okay

I needed someone to tell me
It’s okay.
It’s okay to feel this way.

I needed someone to tell me
It’s okay to feel angry that this happened.
Angry that this happened to me, to us, to our little family.
Angry that we didn’t get to keep her.
Angry that we rode the bus home from the hospital that day
Carrying a box of mementos instead of a baby.
Angry that no one on that bus knew.
Angry that as our hearts shattered, the world kept right on turning.

I needed someone to tell me
It’s okay to feel angry at others.
Angry at the people who said nothing.
Angry at the people who said the wrong things.
Angry at the people who forgot, or who just didn’t know,
How deeply it all hurt
And how long the pain lasted.
How it still lasts, and will never really go away.
Angry at pregnant women,
Blissfully ignorant that horrible things can happen,
So carefree and certain that all will be well.
Angry that for so many of them, it is.

I needed someone to tell me
It’s okay to feel the pain.
It’s okay to wail, to cry,
To scream out in horror that it is now my lot
To live the rest of my life without my daughter;
To have to live with this hole in my heart instead.
It’s okay to repeat, silently and out loud,
That my baby died, that it’s not fair, that this shouldn’t have happened.

I needed someone to tell me
It’s okay to love her,
Okay to miss her.
It’s okay to be her mother, even in death.

I needed someone to tell me
It’s okay.
It’s okay to feel this way.

 

Did anyone tell you it was okay? What advice did you get after your loss(es) that was helpful to you? What unspoken gestures helped you cope?

Monday
Jan052015

Time

But at my back I always hear

Time’s winged chariot drawing near …

Andrew Marvell, urging his lady love, to seize the day and love right now, love like the end of time, the end of life, is imminent. Andrew Marvell, among my favorite Metaphysical Poets, inscribing in burning letters, the fears of mortality in my consciousness, in my 19th Autumn. And so, as my entire class, in their final teenaged year, erupted to seize the day, the insecurity that lay securely in the inevitability of oblivion, gripped me.

At nineteen, I stopped hearing the call of the wild. I could not hear the ringing of bells, or the sound of music. I could only hear the hooves of approaching horses, against the cracking earth, as the dust behind them covered what went before, and what would come after. I could hear time. I could hear it ticking like a bomb.

And since then, everything I have felt, e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g I have done, has been axed into shape, paired in perfect unison, with my panic for my mortality. “We will all be dead someday, and we will become strangers. I will NEVER see my loved one again. My Mom, my husband. They will all become strangers. Like we never knew each other.” I would hear these words, and those hooves, over and over again, as I tried to show affection, make calls, write notes, pack lunch, submit papers, walk after a c-section, wake up to breastfeed – all with an urgency, and all with tremendous commitment. Like it was my last chance, the last time.

Until it really was the last time. And I did not know.

For once in years of reflexes built on the acute consciousness of time running out before I thought, did, showed, spoke, and wrote enough, time did not talk to me, as my instincts drowned in an hour-long slumber that July morning. No longer did its winged chariot kick up blinding dust, as my daughter’s tiny heart stopped beating. As it screeched to a halt, a spiraling, yet irreversibly motionless halt, time stopped along with it. 

And yet, over this past year and half, I have been made aware of time’s role, its character, on various occasions, in myriad ways. The healer, they say it is. If not directly, they indirectly refer to its motion, in asking me if I am better, in wishing me well into my 38th autumn on earth, in trying to remind me how I used to weave thoughts into words because I believed in posterity. My friends, my well wishers, are all reliant on time, faithful devotees in prayers to its power to "heal" me.

At home, I am aware of its motion still. It does not move for me, but it does for a little boy, who emerged from my ripened belly five years ago tomorrow. As he is now able to count “up to a hundred,” and measures everything in hundreds, he often asks me how big he will be when he is four hundred years old. Will he be too old, he wonders. If he is growing a few inches every year, he may even touch the roof when he is hundred! And always, always, he is sad that he is growing up. “Why is there no end to counting,” he asks me. He thinks we count on and on, and we live on and on. That death is not inevitable, it seldom happens at random. The son, the only living child of a once-mortality-fearing paranoid woman, he does not know about mortality yet.

And then there is the new year. A friend gets married on New Year’s Eve, there is a party, everyone is hugging and kissing their loved ones, as they almost visibly, almost palpably, step on to another capsule of time. In their midst stands an odd family. They don’t hug. They huddle. They somehow measure time in distance, that time-space singularity maybe? They see the year as one step farther from 2013, the only year their smallest member lived. They do not understand anything more. They don’t think it’s a fresh start, a new beginning, another walk on earth. They know as the clock strikes twelve, that they have now completed a full calendar year without her. In this new year, just like in the one just gone by, they just want to be spared.

Over this past year and half, I have realigned my strained relationship with time. I have questioned why I am suddenly not aware of its relentless motion, and yet I feel I am sinking deep into its pit every moment. I have wondered why I sometimes feel all of it is lost, and sometimes I believe I have all the time in the world. I have reassessed all my thoughts and actions in relation with time, wondering how much of life is contained in the amount of time it takes to live it. And how much life is carried in the amount of time one did not get to live it.

A collection of moments. A wreathe of the past, present, and future. Often linear. Oftener cyclical. Flying on a winged chariot, sucking into a shapeless hole. I have sought its meaning, wondering why it has not “healed,” nor made me “feel better.” I needed to know why it has forsaken me.

And then I did. Find. An. Answer. I saw that the future, that ongoing journey of hope and brightness, should be my daughter’s walk. She is my future, she is the meaning of time. After I have had my children, my time is with reference to them. I am 38 because my son is going to be five. I am tired because my son is getting bigger. I need to brush up my math because he is beginning to count. I should have been thirty seven when my daughter walked, and thirty eight and half when she talked. I should have been a fifty-year-old mom to a fourteen-year-old daughter, and a seventeen-year-old son. Now, THAT would be some meaningful time.

Instead, she is not walking, or talking, or wearing lipstick at fourteen. I am walking into time, without a reference to my life. My parents, my past. My spouse, my present. My children, my future. Half of my future is gone. I am scared to dream of the other half.

The winged chariot is drawing near still. But it is slowly creeping up on me. I am no longer aware of it, no longer scared by it, no longer instinctively a seizer of the day.

I am instead a floater, a sinker, a directionless thinker. A lost painter in the wilderness of time, merely trying to etch a permanent path between the moments I had with my daughter, and an eternity without her.

What does time mean to you after the loss of your child(ren)? What have you heard from others regarding time's power on loss, and how do you think about it?

Monday
Dec292014

from the archives

Things have been quieter lately here on Glow. People come and go. And come. Always, the newly bereved. Always, the babylost seeking out this safe space, this cabin in the woods of our grief. This quiet gives me time to look back at all that's here. I've been digging through the archives, and I wanted to repost this piece by Glow founder Kate Inglis, originally from in the early days of Glow, December 2008. Titled "dear baby," it spoke to me particularly during this holiday season, a time so complicated for those of us missing our babies.

~~Burning Eye

 

Baby, brave baby boy. How you are missed.

You know that already but I am your mother, and so it’s my right to make sure you hear it, as it is my right to nag your brothers about eating crusts and wearing mittens. Please, sweet liam, indulge your mama. Hear me.

It is the holidays and I am surrounded with your family and it all carries on without you and in some moments I want to scream, furious, make them all stop for you. You swaddle me, rock me, bind these flailing limbs and make me still.

Everything is alive, mama, so alive, imprinted with life, even me.

I’m not supposed to still want to be left alone but I crave empty rooms like an addict.

I know, mama.

Outside this door toddlers wail over the injustice of sharing and not sharing and squashed raspberries and cracker crumbs. They blow noses and giggle at farts and form roaming packs and see imaginary tigers in the basement and I think they have either every idea of how alive they are, or none.

I see, mama.

I love you, liam.

I am, mama

 

The questions originally posted with this piece: Do you talk to your lost baby? Does s/he talk back?

Monday
Dec222014

the well

I was taught to divine for water,

walking the earth and seeing with the eyes of my feet.

Here,

dry.

Here, a small stream.

And here, a rush,

the witching rods cross—

gallons per minute flow unseen beneath my feet

in an otherwise unremarkable corner of a field.

 

December has opened a fresh well of grief.

Here,

broad and deep.

 

In the wind through the bare winter trees—

In the patter of snow on fallen leaves—

In the thrum of water below the earth—

the whisper of your name.

 

Over and over I dip down into the cool, dark waters

and drink.

 

Where are you in your grief now? Do you go looking for it? Do you drink of it?