Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I received a message from a mother today who is in her third month since her baby died. Just entering it, just having passed the anniversary of her baby's death. I swirled back on the calendar to July, 2003, which was the worst month of my life, really, truly.
It actually seems logical to me that July would have been the worst. May I got to have her. She was born, I held her. I still had quarts of milk for her, my belly sagged, the lilacs blossomed and fell and she was still around in so many ways. In June, we had her memorial, the cards kept flowing in, and in, and in. People brought meals. We were still in a state.
Then July hit. Two months had passed. The ceremonies had finished. The milk was gone. My belly was flat. The cards dwindled, and ceased.
My baby was still gone.
One day stands out in my mind, a blur among many simliar days I am sure. I could barely keep my head on my shoulders. I did not know left from right. Greg was outside in his shop, working on the table he was building for some friends as a wedding gift, and I was in the house alone.
I crept upstairs to our teeny, tiny nursery, and I laid myself down on the beige, woolen rug, and my body ached with the missingness of my baby. I laid there, like a comma on the rug, alone, my tears soaking the carpet, and loud animal wails filling the house. I wonder now how many times my neighbors must have heard me crying, and I would have plugged my ears in agony to have heard that sound, even if I didn't have the context. What is more horrifying than the grieving cry of a mother, alone, without her baby? All of you who have been there know this sound, it is crying like you never knew you could do as an adult, it is the child of two who has missed his nap and his mommy has left and he's fallen and scraped both his knees, it is a cry like that, but you are older, and the pain is even deeper, and it ricochets around the room and haunts you to imagine you are making that sound yourself.
It seems like I was there for hours, and perhaps I was. I know the rug was wet. Soaked with tears. Finally Greg came upstairs, and the sound of him padding up our tiny, narrow staircase made me feel warm all over. I was so lonely. He wrapped his arms around me and laid his head on my middle, and the relief flooded through me.
"Do you want me to stay?" he asked. My body shook, I was crying still. I took a deep breath. I did want him, I did. But I also knew better.
"No," I said. "You go and be where you need to be."
"Thank you," he said. He held me, tightly, for a few more minutes. Then his footsteps padded down those stairs, and I heard the screen door slam as he headed back out to his workshop.
Fat tears rolled down my cheeks, I was alone again.
But I knew that lying on the rug crying was not how my husband grieved for his daughter, at least not for hours at a time in broad daylight. His time in the nursery was after dark, it was brief, and it was his. During the day he created beautiful things while he thought of her, his own tears staining the spalted maple and cherry and other amazing woods he chose for his pieces. I had to let him be what he was, just as I was being who I was.
This was a day in July.
And my heart aches to hear of someone who is there, stuck in the month that is no-mans land, far away from where one wants to be, and too far to see where one might go.


ezra'smommy said...

You just described my October 2008. Absolutely yes, yes and yes.

Isla's Mommy said...

I'm there. Month three. September, 2009. 12 weeks ago yesterday she died. 12 weeks ago today she was born.

I read here to see where one may go. Since I can't go back, I so desperately want to go forward. Forward to the future with living babies. Forward to the future where it no longer feels like I may fall to the floor and make those horrible noises and soak the carpet at any moment.

Thank you for sharing your story and for sharing Charlotte. Your blog gives me such hope. Hope that one day I will be a Happy Sad Mama too, and not just this Sad Mama. xo

Hope's Mama said...

I ache for these mummies now, too. Even here, at only 13 months out. I would very much like to erase Sept/Oct/Nov/Dec of 2008. And here people are thinking the day she was born was the hardest day. Nope, I got to hold her that day. I'd relive that day a thousand times over if I could, just none of the days that came after. Thankfully, it gets easier. Especially with wise mamas like you leading the way.

Joey Finch said...

I know the exact excrutiating pain you are speaking of. Oct 2nd will be 4 months since we lost our sweet little girl, Reagan. I've heard month 4 is one of the hardest, and I think it's true. In these coming days, I have been an emotional wreck. Crying at the smallest thing that makes me think of her. I almost did the primal scream tonight as I was driving home from work because of a song playing on the radio. For all the parents out there grieving their little ones, my blessings and hugs to you!

Erika P said...

Oh, yes. I'm there too in that third month and it is a lonely place. But thanks to you I connected with the mama you start your post with, and it was, of course, both wonderful and so sad.

(And to Isla's Mommy - I'm glad to have found you too, and you know Friday is my 12 week mark and I'm walking this road with you.)

Sara said...

Three months was one of the worst for me. It felt like any protective numbness, ineffective as it had been, had worn off, and every thing was moving on and bad things kept happening.

Minnesota Mom said...

I am a little more than a year away from my Noah's physical presence. My grace period after his death was short - two weeks until I was alone with my grief. It was the most beautiful technicolor fall - I don't recall another like it. Mercifully this fall can not compare. I have survived the year. Joninah - my little dove has tempered, if not healed the ache. She is here - and would not be if he were - I can not imagine life without her - and of course that does nothing to quench my desire for him.

Have you ever considered the biology of our grief? The evolutionary inspired or God blessed cocktail of hormones, emotion, desire, love that bind us to our children for 20+ years until they are ready to fledge - and even beyond - turned inside out on us when they die. I do think grief like this has to be part of my biology - it is far too primal for me to have thought it up on my own.

But I have survived. I even find joy in my life and am able to laugh at silly things (I happen to love ancient reruns of America's Funniest Home Videos.) The grief is always always right there waiting for my attention - but it demands it much less now. Those early insistant days and the technicolor fall will never be far from me - the seering, desperate, beauty of my first grief.

I wish all you beautiful mothers missing your babies comfort and peace.

after iris said...

'I laid there, like a comma on the rug, alone, my tears soaking the carpet, and loud animal wails filling the house. I wonder now how many times my neighbors must have heard me crying, and I would have plugged my ears in agony to have heard that sound'

My heart ached to read this, it's so familiar. Those early months are so, so raw.

This post is wonderful.

Jess xx

(Tuesday's Hope recommended your blog to me)

Beth said...

TODAY was that day for me.. 8 weeks ago today, wednesday, she died, and 8 weeks ago tomorrow, thursday, she was born. and today, we got autopsy results.. which revealed a big fat NOTHING. she was perfectly healthy. normal normal normal. the placenta, the baby's anatomy, genetics, all normal, healthy, no infection, SHE DIED FOR NO REASON. i stayed in bed until 8PM. i had the same shirt on for 3 days. i was laying in my own tears and worse on the pillow. i imagined like you, going into the nursery. except i wanted to rip her crib mattress out of the crib and sleep on it. but i didnt. i wailed into my own bed and wondered if the neighbors could hear me. july i met my baby. august we had the funeral and i still got cards. in the words of simon and garfunkl, "september i remember, a love once new has now grown old."

Heather said...

What a beautifully poignant post.

Charles said...

Thank you so much for your heart-wrenching post. I am in month three since i lost my sweet baby Gage. He was 8 months old. You are right- the first month is a blur, the second month is a time where people are still helping out and calling. The third is so lonely. People have moved on. They have done their good deeds and gone back home. You are suddenly all alone with your pain. I have heard myself crying at night and realized that my cry was unlike anything I have ever heard. It is completely crying from your soul. My husband and I have never felt so alone. The world continues to revolve as we are standing still. I am so sorry we are all going through this pain. Unfortunately, we are not alone. Best wishes, Mary (Gage's mommy)

CLC said...

I had this moment in month 4. I am still haunted by that day. Like you, I laid on the floor and wailed for hours. I truly did not want to go on anymore. I still cry when I think about how lonely that feeling is.

Ya Chun said...

at about that time, the initial shock has worn off- and the rawness of the grief remains.

kris said...

Oh, my dear Carol, what a gift you are. What a reassurance and a hope to all these mamas. Be well.

kp said...

Oh, this made me relive the night I woke up to the sound of a primal wail -- about three or four months after I lost her -- and realized it was me. Most horrible night of my life. Even worse than finding out she was gone. I'm four years out as of Sept. 26 and I ache for the mommas still deep in the nightmare.