Wednesday, January 16, 2008


I think the last two posts pretty much sum up my life in a nutshell. There is a lot of sadness in my heart, but it hurts a lot to be there. I am far enough away from losing Charlotte that on a daily basis, I almost have a choice about whether or not I want to think about those really, really sad parts. Most of the time, I choose not to. It's too sad. It makes me too sad. I think this is why I like having pictures of Charlotte up around my house, and lighting candles for her at every meal (sometimes the kids even request the candle at snacks, as I light it they chime in together, "We love you, Charlotte. We miss you. Honoring this phantom sister they never saw). It makes me feel like she's just a regular kid of mine, I can love her in a comfortable place, appreciate the cuteness of her little face and the love in Greg's eyes as he gazes down on her. I can look at photos of myself pregnant and think of the absolute joy she brought me. I think I have taken down or torn apart (literally, through house construction) every little detail that reminds me of the long months of sitting in silence in my home, arms heavy and empty, my calendar blank, wondering what on earth to do next. This period can happily not exist for me on most days.

I don't mean to say that I don't think I should remember this. It's just that having the choice not to, and then deciding instead to think about the happy parts, including the happy parts of Charlotte, keep me in a better place overall. Then, when it's quiet, I can choose to remember those sad moments, I can sift through the 300 sympathy cards and look at the photos of her empty nursery with all the things we brought home from the hospital and cry when it's convenient.

I was really aware of this happy/sad dichotomy because I sent a few people links to this blog yesterday who I actually know. I haven't really shared this blog many people who I actually know at all and so I felt a little sheepish and unsure about giving out the info. What would these normal, regular people think of me? I look so jolly picking up my son from nursery school and cheerfully running across the big grass at the cottage, chasing some tiny naked children, yet here is the inside part of me, splayed out.
Part of it is that as much as I want people to feel sorry for me, as much as I want to say, this is what happened to me, can you believe this, can you believe I did this, I am afraid to actually talk to them about it sometimes. Not it. I can talk about Charlotte, but when people tell me about how sad it makes them, then I start to realize how sad it is, and my day-to-day front starts to crumble. My strategy for survival is that I have braced myself to be able to say whatever I want to about Charlotte with a straight face. This way I get to keep her here with me. If I couldn't do that, if I cried every time, I couldn't be as open about her with the general public as I am. But sometimes I find myself in a situation where I have removed myself so much from my own reality out in my public face that someone else is crying for my daughter and I am not. I am matter-of-factly explaining about how I got to the hospital with my bags all packed expecting to bring my baby home and then the monitor never beeped, never picked anything up and a doctor kindly informed me with a very gentle face that my baby's heart wasn't actually beating anymore, and the person I am telling this to is tearing up and I'm just talking about it like it's the latest price of gas or the snowstorm about to arrive. Is that right? Is that wrong? Either way it feels awkward.
But this is my strategy, I suppose, and not a conscious one. And at the same time that someone else crying makes me feel a little funny, I am grateful for their tears, and a hundred times more grateful that they were brave enough to ask me in the first place. That they thought of something to say. Even I am dumbstruck sometimes around loss, me this person whose whole life revolves around my own loss. I still don't know what to say.

1 comment:

Birdie said...

I haven't yet been in this kind of situation too much, but when I do get into them...I just tell them what happened, I want them to know about Birdie, that I am her Mama.

Even though its so incredibly sad, I cannot feel bad about who I am, and I cannot feel bad for telling that person because it feels too important to tell them who I am and about Birdie and why she is not in my arms.

I feel like we simply must share out children, and the fragility and the reality that can be life. It does feel awkward sometimes, but it shouldn't? I mean, it's that uncomfortablenes with death that we have that after losing a baby you would think you would no longer carry that feeling.

I don't know if this makes an sense. All I really meant to say is, that we must share these experiences. That its ok if others cry and feel sad. It's ok.

The other day at whole foods, the clerk asked why I was wearing a baby pin (It's a picture of Birdie). I said, "because our baby died". The clerk got really red and flush...I said, "Its ok that you asked that, please don't feel bad".

Then she said...oh that's just so sad, I'm sorry. What happened?

So I told her "Our daughter died when I was in labor with her, and we have no explanation as to why".