Today we welcome a guest writer who is familiar to most of us in this community. If there is such a thing as an champion commenter and support person, Australian writer Sally from Tuesday's Hope would win the gold. She is often the first other babylost mama women meet when they begin blogging, and she offers equal support to people years out from their loss. Sally's first child, Hope Angel, was stillborn in August of 2008 after 41 weeks of pregnancy. In the almost three years since Hope's death, Sally has gone on to birth Angus, her twenty-one month old son, and is about to give birth to her third child. We are so honored to have Sally share her words and insight here at Glow in the Woods. -Angie
What to say, what to say? What on earth to say? What, in fact, is left to say?
Each time I’ve gone to put fingers to laptop, I’ve drawn blank. Mute. The loss of my baby, the safe arrival of my next one 15 months later and the pending arrival of number three has left me in a stunned silence. I feel I’m simply all out of words.
photo by garrettc.
When life chewed me up and spat me out one chilly August day three years ago, on the other side of the equator, where August equals cold, the first place I found myself in the land of dead babies was here, at Glow. A dear friend sent me a link about how to dry up your milk and I read the post, then every single other post on the site, given Glow was still relatively new then.
I didn’t have a space of my own to write. For the time being, all I wanted to do was listen, and observe. So that’s what I did. And this was the first place I found solace, the first place I felt less alone.
A few weeks later, finally realising there was no way out of this heinous club, I found the courage to comment. Then start a blog of my own. And the words spilled forth, each and every day for months on end. They would keep me up at night, whirring around in my head like a washing machine on spin cycle, and the only way I felt better about things the next day was if I got them out, coherently or otherwise, on to my blog. And the love and support I got back in those early days via comments, literally saved me. They kept me going.
Through the first six months of my grief, and the next nine months of my next pregnancy, I was a slave to the laptop. But since that pregnancy ended happily in November 2009, then raising my son and now growing the baby I carry within on this very day, I’ve struggled to know what to say or how to say it.
So it may come as a surprise to some that I’m a journalist by trade. I studied journalism at university and got a job in the field where I worked for the next 10 years or so before trying my hand at the baby making game. Initially, that was pretty unsuccessful, which is why I ended up here. Stillbirth, you bitch.
During my journalism training, my shorthand told me I was perfect for the profession because I was a “compulsive communicator”. I loved to talk, write, meet people, learn things and expand myself. I was a people person, through and through and making connections was what I did best.
But throughout my career, I never felt fully satisfied with anything I was doing. Or writing about. My journalism job ended due to the limited opportunity and abysmal financial reward and I moved in to the world of corporate communications, writing crap for big companies I cared little about. It sapped me of my drive and left me feeling empty about the career I had built and hoped to fall back on once baby making and child rearing was complete. I wanted to be able to write but about something I was passionate about, and make money at the same time. A pipedream, perhaps, but that’s ultimately what I was striving for. I just hadn’t quite figured out how to make it happen.
Enter the stillbirth of my first child at 40 weeks and five days after a perfectly boring pregnancy and bam, I finally had something I was passionate about and wanted to write about. And write I did.
My Hope was born on August 19, 2008 and I hadn’t yet turned the calendar over to September when I realised I’d spewed out, like hot lava, nearly 40,000 words of her story.
My house was buzzing with family, flowers kept arriving on my door step, but I sat on my couch, laptop at the ready and just poured it all out. People would bring me food and drinks and I just kept on typing.
I also began connecting. Commenting more. Reading more. Writing on my own blog more. Participating in this community more. And my inbox was full because of it. I made friends. Real life friends I’d never met, but we shared a common pain, and we bonded none the less.
The words, both written, spoken and read were what kept me afloat. I also purchased every single babyloss/stillbirth book I could get my hands on to sooth my soul with the more tangible style of words and filled journal after journal with the darker thoughts not really suitable for blog or email fodder. I threw myself in to the language of babyloss wholeheartedly. I was living and breathing it. Your words in, my words out, like a calming yoga breath. And that’s the main way I survived. I honestly don’t know how the women of generations before ours did it.
But now, three years on and just weeks (days?) away from the birth of my third child, my second pregnancy post loss, and I feel I’ve run out. My milk quickly dried up after my daughter died and my words have dried up now.
I’m sad. I miss her. I want her back. I still get angry. I still sometimes play the why me game, when I know I shouldn’t. I get jealous, but not as much. I feel tired. I hate that this is my life, but I do make the best of the life I have now. I still can’t believe this happened to me and I think part of me will always be in shock. But that’s really it. Round and round. Rinse and repeat. What really is there left to say?
Is it simply healing? Time? The birth of a subsequent live child, reinstating my role as an active parent? The due date of another, just 10 days after the third birthday of the big sister he or she will never meet? A combination of all of those things, or something else?
Even when talking about her to those in my real life, I struggle to get her name out. I get so choked up just thinking about her, thinking about what we went through that I worry if I let those tears out again, I might simply never stop crying. I have been referring to her birthday this week as “Friday” and not as “Hope’s birthday”, which is the more accurate description of what the day actually is. On “Friday” I don’t know what I’m doing. On “Friday” I think we’ll visit the cemetery. On “Friday” I’m not sure I’ll feel like catching up with you. It is no wonder people don’t know what to say or how to act around me anymore, when I struggle to get those simple words out myself, even to my nearest and dearest who know how much I still hurt from the inside out and who wouldn’t care if I cried an ocean of tears at their feet.
I update my own blog when I can, but I feel it is mostly out of obligation now, to let my readers know where I’m at. But the words don’t flow as freely now, and none of the thoughts seem as organic and pure as they once did.
I still read and comment every day but that’s about it. I’ve posted just six times this year. Yet I still have that desire to write and write about what I’m most passionate about. And that still is my daughter. But really, what else is there to say? She died and at least for now, my words might just have died with her.
Do you sometimes feel mute when it comes to talking or writing about the death of your baby? Did you reach a point where you felt there was simply nothing left to say? If you have a blog, how often do you post and how long do you think you’ll be able to keep it up for? Do you find it easier to talk than write, or vice versa?