The meltdown happened at about nine o'clock last night. It had been building for awhile, that uncomfortable pressure, like someone has corked a steam kettle. When the cork popped, the emotional trainwreck that followed was of epic proportion. I cried, I freaked out, I became a one woman snot factory. I scared the shit out of my husband, thank God the kids were sleeping. After it was done (about three o'clock this morning), I was spent. And embarassed, and sad. Embarassed that my husband has NEVER seen me so utterly and hopelessly fucked up, embarassed that I had actually put words to some of the things I have been thinking of lately and worried that he now thinks I'm a complete mental case. Maybe I am. How tragically sad that I have worried my husband to the point where he thinks I'm a danger to myself. How sad that there is now this wall of words between us that I can't knock down, the things that have been haunting me that I should have kept to myself. It's also pretty tragic that there is still that magnitude of sadness in my heart, the kind of sadness that just seems to cast a shadow over everything good in my life. I miss my son. I miss him to the point where I want to be with him sometimes, and that I suffer with guilt over the fact that he is alone in the ground, alone in his death. I feel like I should be with him. Shane doesn't understand my thinking at all. He said he wishes Calvin was with us, not the other way around. Of course, I do too, more than anything. I would probably give up eternity to have him back with us but I know it's not possible. The devil himself is highly unlikely to appear on my doorstep offering me a deal regardless of whether or not I would take him up on it. So there it stands, out in the open for all to see. Sometimes I would rather die than live like this. Sometimes I want nothing more than to go to the cemetery and dig up my son so that I could hold him again. It's horrifying, I know. But I'm not going to commit these unspeakable acts, it's just the way I feel sometimes. People don't get it. I don't get it. I should have tried harder to keep my feelings under wraps, to contain my sorrow. I am too emotional for that, I wear my heart on my sleeve for all to see and for that I get hurt and judged quite a bit. If I could compartmentalize my feelings for Calvin, shove them away somewhere until I could take them down and deal with them with the appropriate words and response, I would. I'm not made that way. So I continue to embarass and horrify and for that I feel utter and total regret. All I can hope for now is to move past my outburst and keep my head up and hope that I get over the feeling of being judged. If anything, judge me as someone who is very, very sad, not someone who is crazy. I can accept sad but crazy goes nowhere with me.
This past weekend has plunged me back into the depths of despair. I don't know what to do about it either. Maybe it's the natural cycle of grief coming around for another pass, maybe it's the utter failure of my swap meet, maybe it's my hormones. All I know is that I feel like crap emotionally. I think that I need to go spend some time with my son, get some of the heartache out. The cemetery is far from private, unfortunately the Trans Canada Trail goes right through it so there are always people walking by, riding their bikes or taking the kids and pets out for a romp. I hate feeling like my privacy is invaded while I'm there, especially if I'm talking to Calvin or crying. I dislike my life right now. I want it to change. I want to be free from the painkillers so I can stop sleeping twelve hours a day. I'm always tired and lately I could care less about sex, how bad is that? I don't seem to care about much these days aside from my children and making money for Children's Hospital. They're what keep me going most of the time. Today, I realized as I was sitting in the doctors office that it's been at least a month since I shaved my legs. Gross!!! Although my basic hygiene hasn't suffered, I definitely haven't cared about how I look in months. I can't stand myself right now, I'm uncomfortable in my own skin and although I've tried to entice Shane into going out with the girls and I during the day, I think he's in the same boat. He doesn't leave the house often anymore. He hasn't worked in almost a year and he spent one day last week looking for work and became discouraged. Our residual income isn't going to last forever, we're already feeling the pinch but I can't manage to motivate someone else when I'm in the same condition...Fuck, will this ever end? I hate how disrupted my life has become, how unmanagable my feelings have gotten and how I've hidden myself away in drugs and blogging for months now. I just want to feel normal again and I just know it isn't going to happen. How long before the fog lifts and the sun comes out again? Help me ladies, I need some words of wisdom right now....
Have you ever been thrust into being in charge of something where you actually looked forward to the challenge? Have you ever been truly disappointed by how that something turned out? That was my weekend. I had been asked to be in charge of coordinating the next Parent's Buy, Sell, Swap indoor swap meet. I jumped at the chance because the last one was very successful and raised alot of money for the charity "The Ayden Project" at the door. Yes, I wanted to do this, and yes, I thought I could raise alot of money for BC Children's while I was at it. I posted an event on Facebook inviting table rentals, I booked a meeting room at the Days Inn, I messaged everyone on my friend's list, on the Parents Buy, Sell, Swap group and all those who showed interest in attending. I put an ad in the paper, one thing the last organizers had not done. I took it the extra step. My mother and sister in law came down to help me sell and to collect donations at the door. It was a dismal failure. I booked the swap meet the same weekend as Elvis Festival and the Peach City Beach Cruise, both of which are huge events. I didn't know they were happening this week until it was too late. So there I was, in a room full of women who had rented tables from me and spread out all of their baby and children's items to sell, and I wanted to cry. One by one, they approached me and made suggestions about how we could bring in more people, "Maybe you should call the radio station...", "Maybe you should run down to the park and put up posters for this before the Farmer's Market is closed for the day...." Pretty soon, the suggestions became complaints, loud complaints at that...about what a waste of fucking time this was etc. and soon, my sellers started packing up their wares to leave, two hours early. I sat there apologizing profusely, trying not to cry as everyone started angrily packing up their stuff. I wished the earth would swallow me whole at that point. I felt like I had let everyone down by not doing my research well enough to ensure nothing was going on in the community that day. I felt like I had let Children's Hospital and Calvin down. I felt like I had imposed on my inlaw's time for nothing. I was embarassed, horribly so, and incredibly let down. I felt like a failure and it completely sucked. I need a hug....
Somebody's baby was buried to-day -- The empty white hearse from the grave rumbled back, And the morning somehow seemed less smiling and gay As I paused on the walk while it crossed on its way, And a shadow seemed drawn o'er the sun's golden track.
Somebody's baby was laid out to rest, White as a snowdrop, and fair to behold, And the soft little hands were crossed over the breast, And those hands and the lips and the eyelids were pressed With kisses as hot as the eyelids were cold.
Somebody saw it go out of her sight, Under the coffin lid -- out through the door; Somebody finds only darkness and blight All through the glory of summer-sun light; Somebody's baby will waken no more.
Somebody's sorrow is making me weep: I know not her name, but I echo her cry, For the dearly bought baby she longed so to keep, The baby that rode to its long-lasting sleep In the little white hearse that went rumbling by.
I know not her name, but her sorrow I know; While I paused on the crossing I lived it once more, And back to my heart surged that river of woe That but in the breast of a mother can flow; For the little white hearse has been, too, at my door.
I found this poem the other day and it really struck a chord in me. This poem, written close to a hundred years ago so perfectly describes the kinship between babylost mamas. There is a bond that draws us close, that terrible feeling of knowing, of understanding. I don't know any of the mothers I blog with in real life, but I've grown to care deeply for many of them. There is something about the heartbreaking cry of a mother mourning her child that draws those of us that have been there to her, to comfort her and love her. At first, when Calvin died, I felt that it was kind of morbid, mothers of dead babies flocking together. Now I have a deeper understanding into the compassion and shared sorrow so few can understand.
I have also been struck by a passage on another blog about how infant mortality rates are so low today compared to what they were a hundred years ago. I suppose it's true, I ran into hundreds of examples of mothers and infants dying during birth when I was researching a little family history. Funny how those old vital statistic records make you think twice about life today. I'm pretty sure it was taken for granted that a family would lose at least one child back in those days. My grandmother even had told me a story about my grandfather's mother giving birth to a stillborn baby in the pasture of their farm. She simply left it there and went about finishing her chores and didn't go back for the baby until she was done. While I suppose it was commonplace maybe even fifty years ago for infants to die, today it just doesn't seem like it should happen. We have so much knowledge, our society has made so many advancements in medical technology that you would think that they could fix anything. I never knew babies died anymore until mine did. And I guess they always will. It's such a sad thing, to realize that some things can't be fixed, that human beings will always die from something, even the youngest amongst us. However, in learning firsthand that sorrow, and having shed tears for many a mother I've met through this dark journey, I have learned that even though death can't be undone, there lays a comfort from those that have gone before, to pave the way for those of us who come behind. And we too shall bear offerings of comfort and love for those who join this dark journey behind us. May I never forget the hands that reached out to me in my darkest hour by reaching out to those in theirs.
I am just empty today. I have spent most of the day with my girls, tending to their needs, taking care of them while their father is away. My heart wasn't in it though. Today I was definitely on autopilot, my head somewhere far away thinking about Calvin and all that we've lost. If I could flog myself to release some of the pain, I probably would, however self-flagellation is not socially acceptable here and I would probably be locked up for being a danger to myself. I need a release. I'm tired of carrying everything so close to my chest these days. Tired of holding in my grief. I need to expel some of the demons that make my life feel so miserable and purposeless on days like today. I need something...I just don't know what. That empty feeling inside could swallow me whole I swear, and although I've tried, I just can't seem to fill it. There isn't enough anything that could fill it...I think. Maybe it's just learning to live with it. Learning to live with the ever-present gnawing inside, the ache that screams for recognition. Lord knows I've tried to satisfy it with food, drugs, sleep, shopping and blogging, but my offerings seem a pittance to the void that threatens to suck out my very existence. Maybe if I cover my ears and scream La la la la la la la as loud as I can, it will drown out the call of emptiness that echos through my soul. Maybe if I just treat it like a bad weed and cut off it's food supply it will wither up and die...But how do I do that? How do I rid myself of this relentless pain? How do I push the dead aside long enough to focus on the living, my girls? How do I set my world straight again? God, I feel like a shell. A hollow fucking shell. I want to rescind my membership to this dead baby club and have my son back. And my life. Can I please speak to who's in charge here?
Both of my sisters-in-law are pregnant right now. Susan is due in October and Trisha just found out recently and is due in February. I am so incredibly happy for them. I am also so filled with longing for another baby, it's making me a touch blue. Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful for Georgia and I love every little bit of her adorable baby self. But she's growing far too fast. Too soon she'll be running from me rather than to me and my days of snuggling and kissing and caressing all that baby softness will be coming to an end. Making the decision to have my tubes tied after my c-section was probably the right decision for me both mentally and physically, but it doesn't take away the desire to have more children, to try again for another baby boy. Shane and I have discussed all the different options, IVF, adoption, using a gestational carrier, but have no idea where or how to proceed. I know as far as having my eggs harvested, I'm on a timeline. Most clinics will only harvest your eggs up to age thirty-nine and I'm thirty-eight now. I also have a high level of follicle stimulating hormone which isn't conducive to IVF. I don't know whether I should just start making peace with the fact that my pregnant days are over and that our two girls will be all we have, or whether we should forge ahead and attempt to have another baby. I guess I never really realized how much I would grieve not only my son, but the loss of my childbearing potential. I'm sad for us. I'm sad because I feel like I've ruined any chance for us to conceive naturally again and that in itself is heartbreaking. I've tried praying about this but I just haven't gotten an answer about which way we should go. All I know is that I want another baby and while I will have the chance to be a hands on auntie with one of my sister-in-law's baby, it won't be the same as having my own sweet child sleeping nuzzled into my shoulder. I guess I'm kind of feeling sorry for myself right now, and I know that there will be resolution to this problem one way or the other. I just don't know whether I want to accept the fact that it might not be what I want.
Today I honour my husband Shane. He is the best father in the world to our children. I can't say enough how wonderful it has been to be married to a man who adores his children. When our first child Lorelei was born, I was terrified. She was tiny, only five and a half pounds when we brought her home. I was so worried that something would happen to her I was paralyzed in my mothering. Shane jumped in with both feet, even though she was his first child as well. He never hesitated to change a diaper, give a bottle, cuddle for hours or give a bath. In fact, he has bathed both our girls since birth, their slipperiness made me too uncomfortable to try it myself. He has been tender with them, soothing colicky cries, kissing boo boos, dancing with our girls to his favorite music. He makes them feel cherished. I love him so much for that. He is amazing with our oldest, firm and no nonsense but also doting. He has spent so much quality time with Lorelei since Calvin has died, taking her camping and fishing, spending daddy time with her. She has needed it, her place in our family has been shaken since the arrival of the twins and the death of her brother. He has been very aware of her needs and I thank him for that. Too often caught up in my own grief and the needs of Georgia, I often didn't have as much to offer Lorelei in the months following Calvin's death. I am so proud of Shane. He may not always be perfect, but his love for his children is.
As for my own dad, he wasn't the greatest father. He had alcohol and drug issues, gambling problems and didn't think twice about hitting his wives. He was though, the only father I knew and our relationship wasn't all bad. He was extremely proud of me in his own way, often taking me to his favorite neighbourhood watering hole and sitting me up on the barstool next to him. I would drink Shirley Temples until I thought I'd float away and he'd marvel at how many I could put away. He always had room on his lap for me, and I snuggle in against his belly and enjoy the smell of his cologne and the feel of his arm around me. He would take me for two weeks in the summer, always at some swanky cottage he had rented or in his camper at the best rv park in the world for kids. I would swim, play with the other kids until dark and stuff myself with peanut butter and cheese whiz sandwiches. I worshiped my dad. In the later years, we fell apart, my disapproval of his lifestyle driving a wedge between us. When I married my first husband, he urged me to contact my father and rekindle the relationship. I did and although it was strained, I was eventually able to say "I love you" again. The last conversation I had with my dad was him telling me he was going away for awhile and that I wouldn't be able to reach him at his home number. I assumed he was going to jail. Six months later I received a call that he had died of lung cancer. When I received the box of his things, it was filled with pictures of me. I wept like I would never stop. I do miss him and I'm so sorry he died alone, without family there. I pray he is in heaven looking out for my baby boy, being the grandfather to him that he was as a father to me when I was little.
I am humbled. I am humbled by the goodness of people, goodness I never thought possible. I am in awe of those that devote their lives to helping the sick and injured. My perspective of the medical profession has changed since I had the twins, since I lost Calvin. For a long time, I didn't know how they could do it, how the doctors and nurses could go about their days dealing with devastation and death like they were untouchable. I know now that the "untouchable" part is untrue. I know now that doctors and nurses cry for their patients, that sometimes their hearts break too. What I had always perceived as a lack of feeling or emotion has proved opposite and I am small in the revelation that I was so very wrong. How do you fit all that emotion into one heart? How does one human channel so much goodness and create a lifetime devoted to sharing that goodness with others?
I am humbled by the talent of others. People that can make me laugh and cry with the words they write. Expression is an artform in itself. Whether through canvas or song or sculpture or written word, the beauty created leaves a legacy of passion in it's purity and leaves me trembling in awe. I have stood in front of the works of the great masters and wept, been moved to tears or raucous dancing by song and yet I fall short in harnessing the emotion that floods my soul and leaves me drowning with no outlet of my own. I am humbled by those who know themselves so well they can pour a lifetime of hope into a few brushstrokes on canvas, a few words on paper. My shortcomings scream to be heard above the din of greatness. At times I don't just feel insignificant, I embody it. I wish...
How do you harness an emotion you have to work at? How is it that some can be so overflowing with goodness, patience, love, peace, hope, devotion, while I have to work daily to find those things? My desire to do something to make a difference, heal the hurt, bring a smile, change the world feels ineffective at times. I wish I could just "be" all those things, that they would come to me naturally to spill forth from my heart and splash goodness on those around me. There are days my gloom and negativity crowds out the love and leaves no room for light. I ache desperately to give, to show gratitude, to give of myself for all that I feel inside. Some days, I wonder if I will ever be heard.
There are those of you who bring me such joy, such love. You comfort me, your words wrap around me like a favorite blanket enveloping me with warmth. I thank you for the unique ways you have each touched my life. I wish you could spend a minute in my heart to truly understand how I feel. I struggle with expression, I struggle to spread goodness, I struggle to find the one thing in life that makes me different, that makes me memorable. I am humbled by all that you have been to me and hope one day I can be that to you too. In the meantime, I sit back in quiet admiration of your hearts and thank you for all that you share.
Maybe it's reactionary grief, maybe it's insanity, maybe it's the hand of God working in mysterious ways....
My best friend lost one of her friends a couple of weeks ago. Lisa, my friend, has struggled over the years with addiction and it has broken my heart to see where her life has taken her at times. Thankfully, Lisa got arrested and was sentenced to a year on house arrest and during that time, she went to treatment. She's been clean ever since...Lisa's friend Payge also has struggled with addiction and had gone through treatment as well. Payge's life was looking up. She had planned to move into the same building as Lisa and was in the process of applying to have her older kids come back from foster care. Payge also had a beautiful one year old boy named Kaide, who she did have custody of and was by all descriptions, a wonderful and loving mother to him. A few weeks ago, Payge left her boy in the care of a girl she had gone to treatment with and left to go to bingo for the night. She never came back. The girl she had left the baby with called social services and he was brought into protective custody until his mother could be found. Payge had slipped and had been out using that night. She died from a heroin overdose. Payge's parents feel that they cannot possibly raise this little boy, so in the interim, he remains with a social service's appointed guardian. My friend Lisa, and Kaide's father are applying for joint custody. He also has struggled with addiction problems and is not in the position to take his son full time. I sent Lisa a letter last night, offering her to move into our house with Kaide while she shares joint custody. To me, it feels better knowing that the baby would have a secure, safe household to live in, with lots of love and two little girls to play with. My thinking is that if it doesn't work out with Kaide's father taking care of him, then he can stay here with us permanently. I want him. When I learned that this boy's mother had died of a drug overdose and that her family couldn't take him, every cell in my body screamed out for me to get him and bring him into our family. I'm afraid to get my hopes up, for me and for him. I'm afraid he'll end up being bounced around in foster care from one family to another or that his father will be incapable of caring for a baby full time. I know I could love that child. Please pray for Kaide, that the situation goes as God wants it to, whether he comes to live with us or stays in foster care. I just hope that little baby boy ends up in a home filled with security and love....I know I'll probably get comments about trying to replace Calvin, it's not like that for me. Nothing will take Calvin's place in my life or in our family. My heart just goes out to this little innocent baby who just lost his mother and any chance he might have had to be together with his siblings again. He deserves much more than he has had in his little life and I know that Shane and I could give him the family he needs right now. The custody hearing is on June 25. All we can do is wait now...
I can't believe it's been almost seven months since you left us. So much has happened since then, I don't know where to start. Actually, yes I do. I love you. I miss you so much some days I'm surprised I'm still able to get out of bed. I think of you everyday, some days, you're in my thoughts from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep. I must be on autopilot during those days, because my thoughts are filled with you and my longing to have you here with us. I've tried to make peace with God over what has happened to us, I've prayed, I've railed against Him, I've cried and begged for answers. I don't have an answer for what happened. All I know is that at times the guilt over what you went through is all consuming. I wonder what would have happened if we had insisted on waiting until you were a little older, a little bigger, before allowing the surgery. The doctors say you were showing signs of stress, that your heart defect was already affecting the blood pressure in your lungs. There are so many things I wish I had gotten the chance to do for you before you died. I wish I had changed your bum. Sounds silly, but after you died, I realized that I had never seen you naked, never looked at your little parts. I wish I had turned you over and patted your little bum, run my hands down your back and under you as I held you against me. I wish I had gotten the chance to nurse you. I only was able to nurse Georgia for a few days, when you died I needed antidepressants so we switched her to formula. I wasn't making much milk anyway, but I wish I had been able to hold you against me as you nursed from me. I wish I had more time with you that wasn't anxious, worried, and tearful. I wanted you to be okay so badly, but I was so afraid to get my hopes up. I know I spent much of my time holding you and crying, wasting the precious time we had being afraid. I wish I had brought Georgia down before your surgery so you could cuddle with your twin. You two spent thirty seven weeks nestled up against each other in my womb and then when you were born, all of a sudden you were apart. I regret that. More than anything I wish you could have spent time with each other, touching, feeling the familiar comfort of having her against you. When you died, I wish I had known that I could have bathed you myself, that I could have spent time with you doing what I should have done as your mother. I would have held you for hours had I known that I could have. I would have also taken more pictures, not only as you were dying but afterwards when you looked so peaceful and beautiful laying there. I'm glad I asked Dr. C to sew up your chest again. Your dad and I talk about you everyday. He misses you as much as I do, he just doesn't express his feelings as openly. We've had a rough time being without you. Our family doesn't feel complete anymore, there is an empty space in our lives and has been since you left. I cry alot. Sometimes I feel so lonely and sad that I wonder if I'll ever be able to enjoy my life again. I worry that heaven is just a myth, that I won't get the chance to see you again and it scares me because the only thing holding me together somedays is the thought that I will see you when I die and go to heaven too. I went to your grave the other night. Your marker isn't installed yet but it will be soon. There's grass covering your grave now which looks so much better than it did. It's funny, but the second I get near you I fall apart. I'm glad no one else was there. It was later in the evening and the sun was setting over the lake. The view is spectacularly beautiful from where you lay. I sat down and cried and talked to you for about an hour. It bewilders me how strong the grief can be and how it comes out of nowhere at times. I feel better when I visit you although I am usually drained by the time I get home. Georgia misses your presence too. I notice sometimes that when she's upset, the only thing that will calm her is holding her close against my face. She still can't sleep well without being swaddled. I know that's from being pressed up against you while I carried you both inside me. She's cut two teeth in this past week. Everytime she achieves a milestone in her little life I think of you and wonder if you'd be doing it too....whether it be sleeping through the night, cutting teeth, or starting to crawl. I miss the possibility of you, of all you could have become. You were the most beautiful baby, I know you would have been a striking toddler and a handsome little boy. One of the first things Dr. C said to me after seeing you for the first time was "He sure is cute...". And you were. You were gorgeous. I felt so proud when I was holding you and the nurse in the ICU told me you looked just like me. I wonder if your hair would have stayed strawberry blonde like your dad's was. I've had such a hard time adjusting to life without you. I don't sleep well, I have to fight to stay focused some days just to get the basics done. I miss you so much and think about you so much, but I've never dreamt of you and it bothers me. If I could hold you just one more time, even it's only in my dreams I would be so grateful. Lorelei still doesn't understand why you aren't here with us. Last week she asked me if we could take Georgia back to the hospital and get you and bring you home instead...she knows you've died, but she doesn't understand the concept of death yet. Such a shitty thing to have to teach a three year old about. It breaks my heart that she has lost her brother and doesn't understand why. Things like this shouldn't happen to a family like us. We loved you, we wanted you, we would have done anything for you. Nothing will fill the void left when you died. No one will replace your spot in our family. As long as I live Calvin, you will be in my heart forever. I miss you my son, I wish you were here with me. Tell God that heaven better be worth all of this pain....Love mommy.
I have conflict over my grief lately. I want Calvin acknowledged but I also want my privacy. It's weird. We had a discussion a couple of weeks ago at Glow in the Woods about the face of our grief, and as inarticulately as I could muster, I semi-explained how I'm feeling. I think I lost myself in fact. I don't understand it myself. I want people to mention my son, I want him to be remembered, I want to talk about him, BUT, I want people to think I'm alright, I get defensive about being asked if I'm okay and I feel myself shutting down when people start to pry about my feelings. Does it make sense??? Probably not. It's this feeling I have, that if I don't present a "sane" face to the world in the face of my loss, than people will either turn away from me, or make me the object of their pity. I want neither to happen. I also don't know how to find the balance between shouting to the world how much this has hurt me, changed me, fucked me up inside etc. and smiling and saying, "it's ok, I'm ok, we're ok, everything is ok...blah, blah, blah...I feel like a fraud. I'm starting to get that paranoid feeling that people can tell I'm not ok when they look at me and it makes me hold on very tightly to my feelings. I feel safe in this space and with my husband. I feel safe with my friend Jesse. I feel safe at Glow in the Woods. There are not many other places, other than the blogs of other babylost mothers that I do feel safe. What saddens and angers me is that I don't have the kind of relationship with family, either Shane's or mine, that can fully be open with me about Calvin. There is always something being held back. I can't share pictures of his death, many of the family refused to see him at the viewing in his casket, I had to beg Shane's mother to hold Calvin in the morgue when he died. She now says we "forced" her to do something she wasn't comfortable with. That hurts me so much. His life was so short, my love for him so strong, that his death was all part of the experience of him for me. It was part of my time with him...Does that make sense??? Of course, I love my son so much that I would never stand for anyone to make comments about how awful he looked when he was dying, or say anything that would make me feel bad about sharing my experience. Maybe it's better that I don't share, but I need to. I need to share him, all of him, including his death with someone other than my husband who was there. Maybe that's why in desperation I emailed Dr. C, looking for someone to remember my son by someone who was part of our experience. Finding the balance between protecting my grief and sharing it with people is like walking a fine line. I worry about upsetting people, I worry about horrifying them, I worry that if I don't share my experience in it's totality that it's cheating Calvin and myself by prettying up a situation that plainly wasn't pretty. I just read the blog of someone who lost their son four weeks ago and she said something along the lines of "I want to shout to the world that I had a son and that he died and that it hurts and it's not fair...." That's exactly how I feel, but how do you do it without feeling even more hurt by people who are afraid of the "messiness" of death. I understand how people might be uncomfortable with the prospect of death, I'm not overly thrilled about it either. Calvin's life was centred around his illness, surgery and eventual death. It's not the way I wanted it, but it's the way it happened and I hate having to delete that part of the experience. I'm not sure this post made any sense whatsoever, I'm not sure I understand how I feel...just searching for balance.
I'm going in this Friday to have more work done on my memorial tattoo for Calvin. It's been a pretty long process already, I've already spent six hours under the needle. I think it's going to be pretty nice when it's done but it's obviously far from finished. When I got the idea to get a memorial tattoo done, I had no clue it would end up this big, I admit, but I'm actually pretty okay with it's size now. I had gotten Shane's name tattooed on my back on our first anniversary. Shortly after Lorelei was born, I had the little fairy and her name added to Shane's. When I approached Kai about getting a tattoo for Calvin and Georgia, he asked me what some of the things I wanted to incorporate into it. I told him I wanted an angel for Calvin and another fairy reaching into heaven representing Georgia missing her twin. Then I told him I wanted a broken wheel to represent the missing piece of our family now that Calvin is gone. This is what he came up with. It stretches from my lower back up to my shoulder. I had no idea that it would hurt as much as it does getting it done. My smaller tattoos were nothing in comparison to the level of pain I've experienced getting this done but it's okay, in a way it's been a healing pain for me. I'll post more pictures as it progresses after my back heals a bit.
I finished Calvin's memorial book last night. It's taken me six months because at times the emotions became overwhelming and I had to put it away. I can't tell you how relieved I am that it's done. Now I'll have all the memories in one place. I started it almost immediately after we buried Calvin, I needed something to do with all the feelings I was having. It was a good outlet at first but in time started to get painful. Many times I sat down to work on it and within minutes had gotten up and walked away because the hurt became too much. However, the guilt of having it almost done for months now had been eating at me, a little nagging voice in the back of my head telling me to finish it. I put everything I could think of in it. Pictures of our doctors, of Bud, the man who got us money to pay our rent in Vancouver while we were waiting for the babies to come, Calvin's eulogy and the many condolences sent our way via email and facebook. I also put in the picture of Calvin's name in the sand and the moments from his birth to his death. It is very personal, not something I will share easily because it's mine, and it's his and it's all I have now. It will be something I can share with the girls when they start asking questions about why their brother is no longer with us. I can take it down, open it up and show them what it was like. It will be something I give to Georgia when she is old enough, this book about her brother, the twin she knew only in my womb. I want the girls to know how much we loved Calvin, how we would have done anything we could for him and how it broke our hearts to let him go. I'm so glad I did it even though it hurt so much. Calvin deserved this book. He will never have a baby book or his picture taken with us at holidays or birthdays so I felt I owed him this. I love you my son.
This weekend was the BC Children's Hospital Miracle Weekend. It's the weekend Children's does it's telethon raising money for new equipment and research. Shane and I were doing a hotdog sale for the Calvin Zachary Mayer Memorial Fund (which will benefit BC Children's Hospital) on Saturday and when we got home I turned on the television and was instantly glued to the set. I couldn't believe the emotions that flooded through me as the cameras toured the hospital and I started to see familiar faces. When they went into the ICU, where Calvin spent most of his life, I felt like weeping. Then, as I sat watching, Calvin's cardiologist, Dr. S., spoke of caregiver grief. He spoke of having witnessed situations no one should have to see. A father saying good-bye to his son, a family having to let their baby go, and instantly I knew he was talking about us. Shane and I started crying. We have such a connection with our son's doctors, so much so that Dr. S has called us several times just to chat and see how we are doing. He's told us that we made a huge impression on him, that our family was one that he wouldn't easily forget and it was him who connected me with the philanthropy department when we wanted to seek permission to use the Children's Hospital logo in our fundraising efforts. I can't tell you how much this weekend has renewed my love for Children's Hospital. It's also been on my mind alot lately because of what the ICU did for us when Calvin died. There was the hollow heart ceremony that we had with spiritual care when Calvin lay dying in our arms. A minister who works for the hospital said a special prayer for us and gave us the heart within a heart. It was a ceramic heart within a larger ceramic heart. The inside piece comes out and was tied around Calvin's wrist. The outside heart is worn alternately by Shane and myself, a symbol of the piece of our heart Calvin took with him when he died. Our son was buried with his heart still around his little wrist, a symbol of our eternal love for him. The ICU also took hand and foot casts from Calvin and the day after he died, the hospital social worker Sharon, came up to our room and presented us with this beautiful box with Calvin's hand and feet in plaster. They are gifts that mean everything to us. Although I am not naive enough to believe that the heart ceremony and the casts were done just for us, the comfort they brought our family when our son passed was tremendous. It's things like this that endear Children's Hospital to us. The fact that when asked about situations that affect them, our doctor talks about us. The comfort and care we were given when Calvin died, not just during our hospital stay but in the months following his death. Children's raised 15.3 million dollars this weekend. I wish I could give them 15 million dollars more.
Georgia cut her first tooth today. I've known it's been coming for awhile now because of the obvious signs such as excessive drooling and chewing but I didn't expect it would be this soon. I feel like my baby is growing up far too quickly. It makes me sad in a way, although I rejoice in these moments like any other parent does. However, it's not to say that it doesn't leave me with a touch of melancholy as well. I wonder if Calvin would be cutting a tooth too or whether he would be a bit behind developmentally had he survived surgery and ECMO. It's amazing to me how much the daily wondering has become part of my life. It's hard to explain to other babylost mamas, this angst, the unsettled feeling of being half happy, half sad. I tried to put a voice to how being the parent to a surviving twin felt, how even though you are dying inside from losing a child, you still have to roll out of bed everyday to take care of the other baby. I feel I offended some of you and for those that read my blog, I apologize if it came out as trite. I realize that many of the women I talk with at the Glow lost either their first baby or it was a single pregnancy which makes the situation a little different than what I've faced. I don't know grief any other way than to focus the frustrated, broken hearted love I have for Calvin, on Georgia. I know many of the parents who have lost babies have a certain feeling of "At least you still have one...." Yes, I do have a surviving, beautiful baby girl. But I lost my only son too. And it hurts just as much. Sometimes, I admit, that when Calvin had first died, I longed for time of my own. It's not that I resented Georgia's presence, it's just that when he died, I wanted to cry, I wanted to sleep, I wanted to take a break from the world and just grieve. Imagine the worst emotional pain you've ever been through and not being able to focus on your emotions or feelings because you have absolutely no choice about being out of bed, taking care of another person's needs. There was talk about avoiding people's babies, how when their baby died, they wouldn't want to see anyone else's baby because it reminded them too much of what they had lost. I dealt with that (and still do) every minute of every day when I look at Georgia. If my talk of ''the luxury" of baby avoidance offended because it was a necessity for some to keep their sanity, I apologize, truly I do, it's just that I wasn't able to do that, even though there were times that I wished I could. I miss my son. I love Georgia for both of them. It's complicated, but it's my reality.
It's three am. Three eighteen to be exact and I'm not sleeping. I went to bed tonight a little past midnight hoping to get a good night of sleep so that I'm not a grumpy bear in the morning. I have things to do. Nevertheless, here I am unable to sleep. This latest spell of warm weather has me befuddled as to what to do with Georgia's swaddle situation. Georgia has been swaddled since birth and she does not go to sleep well without being swaddled. In the last few weeks, she has also taken to wanting to sleep on her tummy which causes me enough anxiety as it is, add to that the fact that she is swaddled and either busts out of her burrito or ends up sleeping face down, arms pinned to her sides. I'm a wreck. I'm paranoid about her sleeping on her stomach. I'm paranoid she's too warm, I'm paranoid she's too cold. I'm paranoid I'm going to go to sleep and she's going to get tangled up in her busted-out-of swaddle and be unable to breathe. I'm finding it hard to relax enough to get to sleep. Sure enough, as I laid there tonight worrying, I felt the familiar start of gnawing in my stomach, the sure-fire sign that the last dose of Dilaudid I took has left my system and I'm starting to go through withdrawl. So, I got up and took another dose, hoping it would take the edge off my anxiety and allow me a few hours of sleep. Instead I lay there thinking about Georgia and what would happen to me if something happened to her. I love her more than anything. I love her with every cell in my body. I love her for the connection she had to Calvin, I love her for him and for all the love I am unable to give him now that he is gone. I love her because she is my last baby, I cherish every bit of babyness she has and now I am starting to worry something could happen to her. Some days I think oh, this is good, things are getting better, I'm really doing okay. Then there are nights like tonight where I think I'm going nuts. My daughter has slept in our room in her crib for going on seven months and now because it's hot and she's busting out of her swaddle and rolling over to sleep I worry I'm going to lose her to SIDS. I hate this. I hate my brain and the paranoid way I think sometimes. I hate that I went through this with Lorelei when she was a baby and it developed into OCD with me checking her fifteen to twenty times a night, often in my sleep. God, I hope tomorrow is better....
I have decided to write about my feelings following the death of my only son in November 2008. I'm learning that grief is a process with good days and bad, a lonely road with new beginnings and unavoidable endings. It is my hope that through writing I can come to peace with what has happened to us and our beautiful boy.