Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mad, mad, mad.

This was bound to happen, but it pissed me off more than I thought it would.

So I was interviewed by a local newspaper about the group that I run. The woman who interviewed me was very thorough, and while she clearly had no context for understanding what it would actually feel like to lose a child and was obviously quite surprised by some of the things I had to say, she asked good questions to try to get a handle on what she needed to know. She was very intrigued that "people like us" take photographs of our dead babies. "You can do that?" she asked me incredulously. I told her that yes, you actually could, that it had once been very common for people to photograph their dead but had fallen by the wayside with the arrival of home cameras (which allowed many fortunate people to have photos of their loved ones alive). She asked whether she might be able to print a photo of myself with Charlotte in her paper, if her editor would allow it. She'd have to check with him.

Now I know, as the words are escaping her mouth, that there is no way in hell the editor of this conservative, Springfield MA newspaper is going to publish a photograph of me, unclothed in a hospital bed, with my deceased child, also unclothed, across my bare breast (no nipple, though!). Just the same, I encourage the woman to encourage him to publish it. I tell him about the positive reaction Mothering Magazine had when they braved the criticism and published the photo. I tell her how important it is to make this real for people. I send her the photo. I know it will be rejected.

So today she calls to arrange for the photographer to come to my house to photograph me "with my children". The editor, she reports, "couldn't withstand" the photograph of me with Charlotte. "It really upset him," she told me.

Oh, that poor editor. Imagine him being upset by that photograph of me. Imagine him having to step out of his charmed life for a moment and fathom that some people have to LIVE with the reality EVERY SINGLE DAY that their child is dead. Pity that poor man for having to face me for a brief moment, to know that all I have left of my daughter is a black and white photograph. How upsetting.

I informed the woman that I was deeply offended by her publisher's decision. I then asked her if he would permit me to be holding a photograph of Charlotte, just a head shot, in the picture that the photographer took, so that it would be very tiny. She left, asked him and came back.


So I told her that perhaps my living children wouldn't be in the picture after all. I told her they could choose to include my children, or not. I really wanted to tell her to tell her editor to take the article and stuff it up is a** but frankly I appreciate the publicity of the article, whatever it includes, and certainly it will inform lots of people who might otherwise never hear of our group which is of huge value to me.

So what I've decided is that once the article is published, (and I'm scheming ways to include Charlotte in the picture otherwise, don't you worry) I am going to try to organize a letter writing campaign to the newspaper regarding the article and in response to the fact that there was no photo included. So I hope that you will be willing to send a postcard for me when that time comes. I'll keep you posted. I really am so much more pissed off than I thought I would be. Even though I knew, knew, knew what they would say. Knew it! But it bit my soul deep down. Truly I wanted to cry.

(I also felt a lot of rage, and wrote and deleted a lot of expletives while writing this. I don't like to think of myself as a huge F word person but let me tell you the F bombs flew)


ezra'smommy said...

GRRRR. I'm down for the letter writing campaign. I'm furious too.

Shanti Mama said...

Let us know where to send the postcard and when.

Cara said...

Oh - you KNOW I'm on board and currently seething right along with you!

When we were first publishing news our our group's beginnings I wondered about Emma's pictures being published. But, it was in the memory box and I just submitted the photo. They printed it and I was floored - thrilled, framed it...but floored.

Wonder if you can use your angel shot is some way???

kris said...

Oh Carol, you know I'm in on that...and I almost live in the circulation radius for that paper. What is that editor thinking?

I love your photos of Charlotte and know they would only enhance an article.

Amy said...

Sometimes only the F bomb can fully express the rage within.

I'd be glad to write a postcard.

The photo of your sweet Charlotte is lovely, deserving to be published. The editor took the cowardly way out, which is really too bad for so many people your story and picture could touch.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit that looking at your photographs the first time (yes i've looked more than once) definitely brought a level of sorrow I wasn't expecting. I sat there and literally sobbed for you and sweet charlotte.

I sit here now and think "how dare he?!"

I do love the "all my children, or none." You go girl! That was my thought as well.

Hope's Mama said...

Oh Carol I am horrified, but also hardly suprised. I tried to get my story, Hope's story, in our newspaper just recently, and we never even got to the point of discussing photos, they said no to the story. "Too taboo, too sad, too depressing. We are after light, happy stuff", I was told. I was seething. Yes, how uncomfortable for others to take a brief glimpse in to our lives. We are the ones who had to push our dead babies out in to this world, and we are the ones who have to live with it EVERY SINGLE DAY. How are any of us ever goin to change things.

Heather said...

I am furious right with you, but not surprised.

I am definitely in on the letter writing.

charmedgirl said...

i love your pictures of charlotte. i always look for longer than a glance, and i wish people could see and know what we've experienced. that can only happen when they see that our babies were actually BABIES. i don't mean to discount babies born still at earlier gestational ages...i really don't. there's just something about seeing our dead babies like everyone sees their own alive ones born healthy and screaming...they have a point of reference; it looks like, and could be, anyone's baby they've ever seen. except...EXCEPT...dead. no matter how many grocery store clerks i tell, no matter how many times she comes up in meaningless stranger-chatter, THEY HAVE NO FUCKING IDEA WHAT I'M REALLY SAYING.

carol, i'm sorry that editor won't publish your photo, for all of us. this is our lives, isn't it??

and just for the record, FUCK!
cause that's what i feel about the rejection. and, of course, FUCK HIM!!

Dalene said...

Ugh, I'm fuming with you! Let us know when the article comes out. Also, I didn't know that Mothering printed Charlotte's picture, as I found the online version last year after Baker died. That's wonderful. Their loss board was the first place I went after my son died, and it was so helpful.

Hennifer said...

I'm game for letter writing.
I am so sorry this happened to you. It isn't just that they won't publish it but all the BS behind it and the reasoning.

I have found pictures of "you" and "your babies" and "your families" breathtaking, powerful, emotional, heartbreaking, but above all beautiful! I consider it an honor anytime the greater "you" is willing to share that intimate piece of a too short life.

Sara said...

It's just wrong--and your pictures are heartbreaking but beautiful. Count me in to write to the paper.

Jen said...

Carol, that editor is a stupid, cowardly, fucking asshole. Yes, this is eminently swear-worthy. I am enraged. It made me want to instantly post a picture of you and Charlotte on my blog (as my own tiny corner of the 'public' publishing world) and to say, "This is a picture of a loving, grieving mother and her gorgeous baby who died. I choose to RECOGNIZE and HONOR them, unlike the Blankity-Blank newspaper who refused to publish this." And then probably a long, furious rant. That was my impulse, but it is your picture and your tale to tell, so I didn't. And then I had an image of legions of non-babylost bloggers doing the same, posting pictures of dead babies, and saying, "We are not afraid, and we are not interested in turning away our eyes; this is the truth. These babies and families deserve our recognition and love and support!"

The pictures of you and Charlotte are some of the most important and moving images I have ever seen. It is an outrageous insult for that editor to claim he can't withstand the sight.

Please let me know the details on writing a postcard. Can I write more than one? Can I tell others? You and Charlotte should not be treated like this!!!

caitsmom said...

I would be honored to write a letter on behalf of your family and all the babyloss mamas. How dare they suggest that all of your children aren't worthy of being in the picture. Peace.

Charlotte's Mama said...

This is all so exciting for me. YES. Fuck them. They are so full of ignorance and here we go again, being shelved as "someone else's problem" but it deserves to be said that there are a LOT of us out there and so we'll speak our peace! I will absolutely keep you all posted on when and where to send a postcard, as well as a link to the article once it is published.
Thank you so much for your support-- I can see that you are all like me-- not surprised, but still mad as hell.

Catherine W said...

I'm so sorry. I'm so angry. Not surprised. But angry.

Charlotte's pictures are beautiful. I am certain that Hope's pictures are beautiful too. They deserve to be seen. Yes, these pictures are sad. But also beautiful. More beautiful in their way than pictures that this editor would deem acceptable. Yes, it hurts to see them but life hurts sometimes. They're still your daughters. Certainly "all my children or none". I feel honored to have seen them.

Also happy to write. Some people deserve to be F bombed. Perhaps it will wake them up. Couldn't have put it better than charmedgirl. Some people really have no f*"~ing idea.

Mommy (You can call me OM) said...

You have so much more strength than I could ever muster. I will most certainly send a letter in due time.

Birdies Mama said...

oh yes mama, i am on this too!!!!!!