Candor, devastating and electric

 Illustration by  Kate T. , who writes: "Our favorite song came on the radio. We haven’t danced in the kitchen in a long time..."

Illustration by Kate T., who writes: "Our favorite song came on the radio. We haven’t danced in the kitchen in a long time..."

Today's guest post and illustration is from Kate T. of Adventures of a Grieving Mother. "The grieving parents club is one that people don’t really talk about," she writes. "But I realized that if I kept silent, Nathaniel would exist as a shadow of a memory, the stretch marks on my abdomen, and an ache in our hearts. So I vowed to be as open and honest as I could be and to talk about my son, his birth, his life and legacy, and his death."

My husband does not like poetry.  His dislike is partly due to well-meaning, but misguided ESL teachers thinking the brevity of poetry makes it easier to read.

Some of his dislike comes from the fact English is his 6th or possibly 7th language. Metaphors are slippery things, even when you've known a language for years.

Walking to the car after a local Pechakucha night, he turned to me with his eyes glowing with excitement and said, “I really liked hearing Dave Morrison talk. It makes me want to read his poems.” I knew we had to find his poems. So we did.

Heartbreak by Dave Morrison

I want to break
your heart—what’s
more intimate than
that?
No bed, no
embrace brings
two people closer
than shared
heartache.
If I can break
your heart, or you
mine, if we can be
conductors for that
searing blue spark,
then we are no longer
alone.
Our existence is proof
that you can live
through it.
Hope.
Communion.
I want to break your
heart so you’ll fall
in love with me.
So I can break your
heart.

This is the first poem we found. In the cold January night, we turned to look at each other. Though we both knew he was talking about romantic love, this poem whispered Nathaniel’s name.

No bed, no
embrace brings
two people closer
than shared
heartache.

We are the only two people in the world who know what it was like to be Nathaniel’s parents. Many people feared it would tear us apart, but this shared heartache has cemented us more firmly together.

if we can be
conductors for that
searing blue spark,
then we are no longer
alone.

That searing blue spark—love or parenthood—both really, devastating and electric.

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Now, three years after Nathaniel's loss, we are attempting to get pregnant again. Trying to conceive is terrifying for all the unknowns it contains and the constant shadow of “What if it happens again?” It isn’t as if once you lose a child, you get handed a card of exemption the next time around. It turns out that trying to conceive shares many of the same ups and downs of grieving. And, it won’t be easy for us to create another child. We are, it turns out, 'differently fertile'.

When I was carrying Nathaniel, strangers violated my personal space often by touching my belly. Occasionally, when I would underestimate my own dimensions, I’d violate theirs. Because of books and friends, I’d been prepared for people to touch me, though it was still shocking me how social conventions broke down in the face of that huge belly.

As if by ensuring the continuation of the species, I suddenly became public property. But I got it, it was a fascinating thing to touch, hard and yet soft, and interactive. I rubbed my belly all the time communicating with the small human inside. For those who wanted to know what it felt like, or were nostalgic for their own experience, I wouldn’t say no. It was my favorite part of being pregnant and the part that I miss, like having a worry stone that would push a butt cheek or a foot out to offer silent reassurance.

Now, I don’t have people coming up to touch my belly, but they still approach me just as often to talk about the status of my womb. Their invasion of my person feels more intrusive than rubbing their hand along my belly. Now, they are reaching into my uterus and back along my medical history.

I am trying to break down these barriers to understanding miscarriage, infertility, and loss by talking about my own situation openly, so I usually answer their questions with candor. However, it still astounds me the questions near strangers feel bold enough to ask friends who have made no such pledge to candor.

Women’s reproductive choices are not part of the public domain unless they have made a conscious choice to put them there.

So on behalf of every woman who has ever been asked, “When are you planning to have children?”, here is a list of inappropriate questions and the appropriate answers.

“When are you planning to have children?”

We aren’t
We are still negotiating the terms of the contract
None of your business
When the moon crosses into the solar vortex of Jupiter

“Are you trying?”

Are you actually asking if I have lots of sex?
We are not not trying, but we are not, not not trying, either.
None of your business.

“Why don’t you have children?”

My family is perfect just as it is.
None of your business
We are still negotiating the terms of the contract
I do, they just aren’t allowed in public spaces.

“When will you start trying for a second?”

I don’t know.
I need to make sure I survive the first.
None of your business.
When the moon crosses into the solar vortex of Jupiter.

“Have you thought about adopting?”

Why yes, I’m on petfinder almost daily.
No.
None of your business.
Why, do you have one you are looking to give away?

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  “You made me Tikka Masala? You’re the Best!”  by Kate T.

“You made me Tikka Masala? You’re the Best!” by Kate T.

For those of you who share Kate's journey of trying to conceive after loss, how are you doing? Are you managing to dance in the kitchen, or not quite yet? Are you up to your eyeballs in medical terminology and sex-as-task? Are you still remembering to take care of each other in the midst of it all? Let us know how you're doing.