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Archive for November, 2007

I’ve got Ferdinand’s website set up. It’s not ready to run yet, but I have started transferring some journal entries over to the blog/website. I did not transfer all the entries as some were really just total blah-blah’s. How did I make people read that? It is ok to write that because I guess as a pregnant woman I am a very blah-blah type of person. Or, in general, I am just a very blah-blah type of person. I wish i could be succinct. Or eloquent. Speak like a female Rumi or just shut up. But I can’t. I guess mental diarrhea started long time ago for me.

When I came to the July mark of transferring the entries, my hands started to sweat, my eyes hurt and I started to get cold feet. I began to tell myself, “I don’t think I can do this.” and “Why am I doing this?” and “Who wants to read this? Why am I wasting time here?”

And I think maybe it is because I just do not wish to re-visit July. July 2007.

Yet, driving the girls to their ice-skating class yesterday, I knew I had to do it. I will do it.

I just feel, it is necessary to sit with the pain. Sometimes, it feels really hard to cry. It makes me feel like I am stuck. Like ten thousand years later someone is going to come around and still find me at the same place, hunched over and weeping. Sometimes, it’s as if if you do not cry, then maybe it did not really happen, you know? Sometimes, the crying feels really painful. Hurts like hell and you just do not wish to go to that place. But often, after the crying, you feel better. The wound weeps, but the scab gets thicker. And slowly, the scab will dissolve, and a scar will slowly take its place; another feature in the landscape of my life. And I know at the end of it, I will go over every feature with love and longing, and it will not matter if it was grown from hurt or pain or love or gains.

I also feel, because I so desperately, in the early days, wanted to read someone’s grieving and healing journey, that I should put mine out there. One night, I was in deep despair. Alone, downstairs, at the computer, the only light in the total darkness emanating from the computer screen, searching for examples of someone who walked a similar path. What did they do? What thoughts went through the mother’s mind? Did she feel like dying too? How did she find strength? What does the grieving journey look like? I guess I needed to know someone would have written something to let me know that what i went through was “normal” and eventually it will be somewhat “fine”. Things change, you are no longer the same person, but Life is indeed going to move on, and there will always be Hope, always be Love. So, even if the blog/website is not going to shatter the earth, change lives, reverse what had happened, it will be my little, humble contribution of Hope, and a shining example of love and support.

In bed last night trying to fall back to sleep again I also started to chicken out about the dinner. I was afraid I will bawl uncontrollably, and I DO NOT want it to be about me crying. It is not about me, really. It’s about Life and Death and loss, and our journeys; about finding hope and having hope. About connecting. About celebrating. About friendships. Just about us, mere mortal beings, floating about in this space called earth, finding each other and sometimes losing each other. I wanted to share about the interesting and wonderful experience I had of a silent meal, and I just wanted to see my friends and spend an evening with them, remembering portions of our lives. I recall B’s email to me. I invited her to the dinner even though she is out-of-state because she is just such a dear friend and I know she would have much wisdom to share. But she told me it made her knees weak. She was flattered to be invited, she said, but scared to be called to be so open and honest. She said she will send a writing that I can read that night. I told her I am sorry I put her in a place of discomfort. But she said no, it was not that; it is just she thought she would not rise to the occasion. But there is no occasion to rise to. I decided we will be just where we are that evening. I decided I must let go this fear of crying in-front of other people. If it feels right, then the tears will surely come. Why hold back the memories and emotions? I just hope, and I fervently hope, that the dinner will be a wonderful one. I think it will be.

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I think I need to stop visiting those Loss forums.

They are addictive in some ways. I visit because, I want to reach out and give hugs. Shed tears for fellow moms who have to suffer losses as well. To let them know they are not alone. They can never be alone, because pain is a component of Life. We all experience it one way or another; one form or other; one time or other. But once you have experienced a baby loss, a stillbirth, your heart does a different act when you hear it.

A told me to jump into the Healing After Loss thread, but I could not, it’s such a crazy thread, with pages and pages of posts everyday! And it’s pages and pages because so many women have suffered infant losses. And everyone desperately wants to be reaching out. Honestly, it freaks me out and scares me to know that things like that happen daily and so often. In their sig lines, they have three or four angels; I see still born babies being remembered too. And so I realize, Shit! I am not the only one! How can this be!!  There is comfort in knowing others have been there, others may understand. But it also creates an overwhelming sadness in me. I want to find a way to erase this pain. But, there will be other pain. And, really, haven’t I said before, and haven’t I tried so hard to understand, that pain really is a part of Life? Deny it, and Life is no longer what it is supposed to be. Well, some people may experience very little of it, but who has the time to keep count?

After you have experienced a loss, and you get to these forums, and you learn that the women who have suffered losses had banded together to support each other as they try again, you watch the thread like you are watching racing horses. This is a bad way to put it. But it feels that way. All these brave, beautiful mamas are putting their vulnerable, quivering hearts out there again. To try to conceive again. And often, the words said are “to have another living baby again”. It’s like a challenge to Life, to Fate. So you watch these woman like racing horses, betting against Fate that they are going to make it to the finish line and triumph over Fate. To win!!! To show Life that you are strong enough to come out of it again.

Today I learned that someone lost her baby’s heartbeat the day she was 40 weeks. I pounded my heart. NO!!! The immediate word that comes next is Why?! She said, nothing to blame for… no infections, no placenta issues, no cord issues. The heartbeat just stopped.

The heart just stopped. It just stopped. Just freaking decided not to beat anymore.

I have been thinking of our hearts a lot lately. This small, amazing muscle. This small dot that blinks on the ultrasound machine telling you there is a live sign, that you have a living baby in there. It makes me tremble to think that this tiny little beating muscle once started, is Life, is Love, is why we exist and why we love and why we cross paths. This small muscle once started, keeps beating, and beating, thumping and pumping, keeps us going until the end of our journey here. Sometimes the heartbeat stops… at a few weeks, at full term, at so many years- whatever has already been written in the books. Sometimes Sophia puts her hand to her heart and tells me, “My heart is still moving mama!” And it makes me want to break down. I want to grab her and tell her, “Don’t you ever let it stop!”

Sometimes the thought and the sound of a heartbeat obsesses me. I want to reach out and be able to hold it.

I still cannot believe Ferdinand’s heart stopped beating. Why? How? When?

It still feels very surreal. Sometimes I still have to ask, “Did this really happen? Why did he die? Why did his heart stop beating?” And I still cannot believe everything that I am doing, and that i have to add to a milestone in my life, having a stillbirth. Now, things are not “before college”; or “after kids” but “before and/or after the stillbirth”. At least for now, it is like that. But Life moves on, scenery changes. Scars heal, new hope emerges… hopefully ten years later I can define myself and our lives on a different term.

It all depends on the heartbeat. This little amazing muscle. Our hearts. Our babies’ hearts. Don’t stop beating.

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It’s funny.

I mean, the past days, or maybe even weeks, I have experienced an overwhelming need to laugh.

And I mean, really, really laugh.

Howling, hooting, gasping for air, almost peed in the pants, totally hysterical, tears coming out of the eyes, gasping and coughing, till no voice can come out, till you feel like choking on your own saliva, till your sides ache and you roll on the floor or curl up because it hurts so good kind of laugh.

I don’t know how to achieve that though I deeply yearn for that. Really crave for that.

It’s been too long since I have laughed like that. Like some crazy idiot who heck does not care what others think.

For post-Thanksgiving dinner movie, I thought of getting “Mr Bean’s Holiday” because I heard it was really funny (“I was absolutely howling!”), but they did not have it at the video store so I got “Shrek III”. Well, it was not very funny. And I feel damned that I did not get to howl like a laughing coyote.

Yet, on the other hand, I am afraid to laugh.

There is this yoga DVD where somewhere in the middle of it you are supposed to lay down on your back, and without thinking, just laugh. For about 30 seconds. That DVD I have been avoiding. In honesty, I am freaking scared of doing that yoga set. I am not sure if it’s because I think I will totally lose control, or if I just won’t be able to do it, or if… … I could really laugh!

It’s as if, I am stopping myself to laugh when really I wanna laugh. But I also do not understand where did this urge to laugh come from.

Maybe, the body’s urge to self-heal?

Because in that book I was reading about adrenal fatigue, one of the DIY suggestions was to laugh daily, and to do it by all means- reading funny books, funny comics, funny plays, funny jokes, watching funny movies, etc etc. Just laugh. When I read that, I said to myself, “You gotta be kidding me!”

But, although I am usually not so funny in person, I am actually quite a funny person. I like funny stuff. I do like to laugh. Make jokes, tell funny stories, write funny emails, play really silly games with my gals.

Just have not done it a lot lately.

What’s there to laugh?

I can smile. In gratitude. In relief. In response to the girls antics. Sometimes I chuckle too.

But throw-head-back kind of laugh? Have not done in a long time.

Because, it seems wrong.

It is all very contradictory, really. Because now, after four months, some people really think you should “move on already” and no longer dwell on what happened, and just be happy (and better be grateful too), do your thing, go on and have another baby or something. Yet at the same time, if you are really laughing, I think they may feel a bit shocked too. Like, “Is she really all ok already?”; “Is that laughter real? Or is she venting, laughing instead of crying?”; or maybe even “Now she is totally losing it.”

Laughing is a lot like crying to me. Takes a lot of energy, and needs a lot of safety in order to do so. It takes a lot of energy, but in good ways. You feel drained, but you also feel good too, because your body has released some pent up energy.

The thing is, I no longer know what is “normal”. Back when life was “normal” I don’t sit around writing about whether to laugh or not; or why I should even do it. I just laugh, or not laugh, and do not think much about it, if even at all. Ferdinand’s death had totally consumed me, I cannot place myself anywhere, or do anything without thinking first of him. It’s as if, if I laugh, then that he died was ok, and it is absolutely, in no way, OK. I can accept what happen; I can honor his decision, but it is not ok. Not yet.

And, I think he wants me to laugh.

Because he never appeared to me in any way or sense that would make me think he is suffering. I never dreamed of him cold, lonely, crying, scared, hungry, or bullied. I dream of him happy and peeing. J told me she dreamed of him laughing and playing with his two sisters. L saw him as a peaceful, smiling boy. I dreamed of dancing with him; he was twirling me. Even though R only dreamed of him once, and it was a replay of that fateful day, he said what he felt was peace, not the pain and agony of that day.

I have thought that all these were messages to me- that he was fine, safe, content, at a better place. He did not want me to be worried. He did not want me to remember him as my dead child. But as a child somewhere else, but happy, and serene. That he wants to be very much alive in my thoughts, in my memory, as a happy little boy.

Never have I thought that I have to sit and write something like this. Or to actually decide something like “I really wanna laugh!” and to actually exert effort in accomplishing…. laughter. Does that sound pathetic or what?

Yet, in the life of a bereaved parent, this is something normal, this is something we go through. You laugh and then feel guilty or wrong. You do not laugh, and then you feel an insatiable urge to do it. This is so crazy, but this is true.

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Dear Ferdinand,

suddenly it is cold down here in the valley too. I could not sleep well last night because I was cold, despite warm clothing and socks and a warm blanket. I thought of you, and if you are warm where you are right now? If you need anything, you have to let mama know.

Lately Sophia has been talking about you a lot. I can sense that she is missing you a lot of late. She calls out your name often and wonders if you need food, and she told me once she heard you say her name. We all miss you very much, and this missing and yearning does not diminish over time. It does not, my son.

Last year around this time I found out I was carrying you. It was a surprise, and your father said, a very nice birthday present. Oh, I am shamed to speak of the agony I was in when I found out! Will you ever forgive me? But you know too that, I soon was very giddy with not just nausea but happiness, right? I was very excited and could not wait for you to grow bigger and bigger and then be in our arms. Your father gave me a warm bathrobe last year for my birthday because I am forever feeling cold, and last year we were transporting the bathrobe up and down the valley so I can wear it up at the cabin and also down here. It was a big, thick, and roomy bathrobe. Appropriate, we thought, as my belly is going to grow, and grow and grow.

So grow you did. And so marvelously. I was big and ripe. I loved it. It was a fine feeling rubbing my hands over a big, round bump. We were all sure you are going to be bigger than both your sisters. Maybe ten pounds!

But for some reason you did not grow that much. Actually, we are not sure if you stopped growing, because Robin was very sure you were at least 8 pounds when she felt you through my belly the week before we went up to the cabin to await your birth. I just think, you were trying to make it as easy possible for me. So I don’t have to push as long as I did with your two sisters. I truly believe that, and I am deeply, deeply grateful, my son. You were easy to birth, yet also very difficult, but on different levels. I was amazed that I could stand up about an hour after your birth. I could stand up without passing out, I was not sore at all. No tears, no nothing. Because, you were a small baby. Small, and precious. I know you had your intentions, and I am really grateful for that. Thank you, thank you again.

I miss you. I don’t know how to stop it. And I don’t want to stop it. Maybe this feeling will change, morph into something else, but I am not going to try to will it. I will just let it flow and take its course. Do you agree?

I so wish I can hold you; that you are in my arms. Last night while feeling cold I recall the warmth I felt when I held you in my arms. You were warm then. And so fragile. In my arms and yet already so far away. There was no way for me to chase your soul down and try to strike a bargain with it, or with destiny. But I got to hold your warm body for a little while. I guess, in the grand scheme of things, that was already a whole lot.

We made it through Thanksgiving. It was hard hearing your sisters call out to you to come eat, but I know it is because they love you so much, and miss you dearly. I know you were there in spirit. There will always be a hard time, and tougher days, but we are going to make it through. It helps me to think that you are in a better place, and happy and carefree. And it is great that no matter where you are, I do not have to stop loving you. Love transcends time and space. And you are right here, in mama’s heart.

So much love,
mama

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Nov23

It is always, always, always, when I start to feel better; when I proclaim, in amazement to myself, “I am standing again! I can do this!”; that is when something will happen that will strike me down again. And it need not be anything big. It can just be, seeing a baby who is big, healthy and happy. R said it is the same for him- always creeping up to him at the most unexpected moments. Unexpected it was, and at a time that did not allow me the time and space to bawl it out. I had to immediately drive to Trader Joe’s, shop amongst the zoo of people buying stuff for thanksgiving, then drive to Fry’s and shop again amongst the zoo of people buying stuff for Thanksgiving. Then, finally, I get home and bawl into the freezer while putting away the stuff.

But, it also always get better.

Today I saw on a forum that a mom was in disbelief, that this Sunday marks the one year birthday of her little stillborn daughter. This Sunday is my birthday. I told her I will light a candle and think of her sweet little one. And I also thought, last year when I was “celebrating” my birthday (don’t really ever celebrate birthdays anymore), feeling sort of happy, someone was in pain; someone lost her little baby girl. It makes me think of the myriad of things that can happen at the same time. The same day, or afternoon, or hour, or minute, or second. There could be joy, despair, desperation, celebration or loss. Someone may have found herself. Someone may have lost herself. A life is born; a life ended.

So, all the more, gratitude for all the joys. And all the more, a (reluctant) readiness to deal with losses.

Very often, I wish “this period” can be fast forwarded, so I can get to a better part in Life. So I can get to the “nice parts”, happy parts. But, even if I can press that “fast forward” button myself, I am not sure for how long I should keep that button depressed. I may miss some good parts too. And Life, is not the deal like that. There is this, and that, and everything in-between. There is laughter; there is tears; there is laughter mixed with tears, and tears mixed with laughter. And, they say there is a good reason for holding through the tough parts. It heps you grow. It helps you glisten. It cuts you so another facet can shine even brighter.

(Sometimes I do think, stop this crapshit about coming out a better person after suffering. I freakin’ do not wanna believe it. And then, I also said to myself, “Can you stop using these shit-words? “; and I wondered, if I type in “crapshit” at the online thesaurus, what will it turn up? I really hope some educated, eloquent, 4- or 5- or even 6-syllable word that so exquisitely conveys my angst. Ah. Ha!)

But really, I am not in a lot of angst. Slowly, slowly, I am inching forward. But truly this grieving process is not a straight-forward one. It is a very unusual dance. Often one step forward, two steps back. And sometimes it is kinda like trying to move forward in a sideways manner.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving. First major holiday after Ferdinand died. It went ok. We invited Cecille for dinner and in general had a good time. Of course I thought of my little Ferdi, and how, if he were here, if he were to refuse to let go of his latch, how we will ever get Thanksgiving dinner on the table; how we would be exasperated but insanely in bliss. At lunch Sophia said she was thinking of Ferdi, she was afraid he will not have food to eat. I told her Ferdinand does not need to eat. And she said, “what if he gets hungry and needs to eat? I hope he can find food up there…” And I told her, “Of course he will.” At dinner, as we sat down at the table, the girls shouted, “Come Ferdinand! Come and join us! Eat with us! Eat with us!” And I was happy that they loved their little baby brother. ( I miss you, Little One. So horridly and so strongly.) I guess winter solstice and New Year’s is going to prove itself to be harder, but we are going to go through it.

And I want to remember him with joy.

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I am giving up trying to assess where I am.

To stop thinking in terms of “ok, or not”; “healing, or not”.

Because, healing will happen. It can and it will.

And Life will still hurt, in other ways.

I get tired making the assessments. I should not need to.

What I need to do is experience, and grow from it, with it.

I am trying to put together info about “what you can do” on Ferdinand’s tribute website. I had the idea after being in those forums and also someone posting about how to respond to the news of her friend’s stillbirth- what she can do, what to say. I was the first to respond, and many others who did after me said similar things. Then came a last poster and she was quite different and that gave me pause.

She said after 4, 5, 6 months, when people still told her “I am sorry about what happened” she was hurt and angry, because she wanted to move on already and they are tearing open the wound again.

So I know the “what you can do” section is really a list of suggestions, it all depends on the individual. Which I guess, is what makes it so hard to respond to such news, such things, such situations. I remember the counselor who came into the hospital room while I was being induced. She meant well; she had good intentions. But, I was not ready to grieve yet. She said all those things, I believe, she has repeated many times before, and maybe other women had collapsed and cried and she was hoping she could offer her shoulder for me to cry on. But the thing was, I was having contractions and needing to focus on them. I needed that private space with just people I want to be with, and most importantly, to be with my precious son. And I felt she was trying to make me cry so she could comfort me. It feels wrong to say this but it was how I felt. (To be honest, I felt she did not speak from her heart. Or I would have felt different. But perhaps my heart was to closed then.)

But people mean well, and people all have good intentions.

The thing is, sometimes we are not on the same frequency.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

What they say, what they do, need not necessarily change who I am, what I am, and how I am feeling.

It is hard, because ultimately we truly are all connected. More intimately than we think we might be.

Yet, there is also a life force within us that is strong and powerful that we can have control over. This I believe.

Though I surrender, and accept and flow.

I try to. I am really trying.

Where I stand now, I sink my feet into the ground and breathe and accept. Try to open myself up and let be.

But I am also moving.

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I really need to see Hope.

Do you hear me, Universe?!

I am in awe of your power. Really, I am. But I am also a bit angry… actually, VERY angry, with your blind errors. Oh no, don’t come to me with that “everything has a reason” nonsense, because even if it has a reason, sometimes NO reason is good enough. Do you hear me? NO REASON IS GOOD ENOUGH sometimes, no matter what you say. I really hate that you have all this power. You say we humans have a role too, and we can shift things and make it happen, but in the end, you make the final call.

In this sense, Life truly sucks.

Can you give me some Hope? Please?

I am crying. I have been initiated into a world of pain and sorrow since Ferdinand died.

So yes, that makes me see how good I had it before. How ignorant I had been of the world’s reality. Of Life’s real faces.

And shit, I hate this initiation. Even if you say this should, and will, make me a better person.

I do not want to be a better person. Just let me drag through scum and gunk and be really mundane and useless and do nothing for this world or mankind. No, let’s not even try to make it sound grand, because, even if my son died, I cannot make this world a better place just by loving more and living more in the moment. Just let me be one of those person that people walk by and think, “How can she live like this? So ignorant in bliss! She does not realize how lucky she is to even have a roof over her head. And she is not doing a bit to help others along.” Yeah, let me be that selfish brat!

But I cannot. I do not even dare say I have known sorrow for fear you will do something to let me know what sorrow can really be like. I have no courage to go that route. But, at least I know a little bit, ok? The hurt, the pain, the sorrow. You cannot tell me I know not a bit of it. At least, grant me grace and say I know an iota of it. A little bit. And that is a lot already, for a coward like me.

And so, I really need to see hope, and healing.

When I know A is pregnant, I started praying. I have never done this since I was in Catholic girls’ school but I pressed my palms into prayer against my heart and I pray: Please! Let her carry this life safely and beautifully to fruition. Let the healing happen.
Because, if she can, then I have a chance. I have hope. Because, if she heals, I can also start healing.

You do not understand what it is like, when your life seems to start to merge with others who walk the same path. You feel as if you have also held their dead babies in your arms; you are sure your babies know each other in a different place, and they also hug each other, and put their arms around each other’s shoulders as they watch us from a distance. When they heal, you can heal too. You want them to heal, you have a deep need to hold them and support them along their journey, your heart in your mouth all the time, and willing with your biggest strength whatever you can do, to make it all good for the other women. You wish you have power to spit at the bad things and make them go away.

I am only barely starting to stand up, and you struck me down again. Two stillbirths in a row, are you kidding me? You got to be kidding, right?!?! And, raising a woman’s hope that she could be a mother again, after her first son died, and then letting it crash. Are you having fun there? And, letting her walk the painful hallways again, after she had lost one of her twins. Not giving her comfort, but assurance that shit happens, mistakes occur, Life can end in a ridiculous, senseless way…. I do not understand you. Or perhaps, i have not fully known you. As I have been told before, don’t romanticize what you do not truly know. Not Nature, not the Universe.

I hate bad news, I hate sad news. If you can make awful things happen, surely you can do the opposite? Lately it seems to me you are doing a lot of God-awful things. (Or am I just focusing on the wrong place?) Can you please show me you can do some good things as well?

In the end, I guess it is up to me to create my own Hope, right? Still, my heart aches for these women whom I know are hurting and in pain, in sorrow. It aches so much i start crying and wailing and it angers me that there is nothing I can do. Just sitting and crying like an idiot.

But I will not give up, or lose hope. It has to be there. Life cannot go on without Hope.

So, with Hope in my heart, I know A will carry through this pregnancy beautifully, and like she said, no worries but hope and love and that she will hold a living, breathing life in her arms in July next year. With hope in my heart, B will pull through; and little B from K will continue to dazzle and heal with his big, broad smile.

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