Thursday, January 28, 2010


Well I'm back. My trip home sucked. I spent most of the two days I was there crying. I don't know why I bothered. I suppose I was hoping for some kind of acknowledgement of my loss and the deep hurt that not having family support caused me. Instead of the apology I was hoping for, my wounds were torn open again when my grandmother told me I had wasted my money buying my son a headstone. I was aghast when she said it, saying that he didn't need it and that it was a waste for us to have gone to the expense of a funeral for him. She also told me that my "religion" was pitiful, that there is no God or Heaven and that religion is just a crutch for people who can't handle the truth. She critisized almost every area in my life from the way I raise my children, to being financially irresponsible, to my weight and Georgia's weight and the fact that it's time I cut my hair and act like a grownup. I sat there sobbing as she told me I was making my baby fat and that I needed to stop buying my kids toys for Christmas because they were going to be spoiled. My poor mother sat there in her wheelchair, unable to say much because her speech is so bad other than to say "Don't cry...please, don't let her make you cry." I couldn't help it. I cried out of hurt and anger and frustration that this woman who has never been to my house or seen how I live could critisize everything about me. Attacking Georgia's weight really pushed me over the edge. Yes, my baby is chubby but she is a BABY. Lorelei was chubby too but thinned out alot when she started really running around. To have my grandma tell me to stop feeding my baby so much made me so angry I was shaking. And all I could do was cry. I hated every second of being there. While she railed and yelled at me for not visiting my mother as often as I should, I felt myself shutting down. When she finally left to give my mom and I some privacy, I told my mother that the reason I don't visit as often as I should is because of grandma, that she's so fucking mean to me that when I think about going down for a visit that knowing that I'm going to have to listen to grandma's tirades about everything that's wrong with me, I simply avoid it by not going. In the beginning, when it was just Shane and I and we would go for a visit, he once packed our bags and we left as my grandma screamed and yelled and told me what a failure I was. He told her to never talk about me that way around him again and when he is with me, she doesn't. This time I went alone so I was fair game I suppose.

Because I have struggled with weight issues my whole life, my weight has always been a sensitive subject with me. As an overweight child and teenager, my self esteem suffered horribly. I was insecure in my body and tried many times to lose weight to please people around me. My grandmother has always had a huge hangup about weight, every visit from the time I was ten or so involved comments that hurt. She would say horrible things to me about my body and the way I was "squeezed" into my clothes and "aren't you worried you'll never get a husband". When I did manage to lose most of my weight she was overjoyed telling me for the first time ever that I was beautiful. Every visit after that involved her scrutinizing my thighs and arms looking for extra pounds. On one visit she told Shane to stop carrying in all the luggage and let me do it, "Aren't you afraid she'll get fat again?"....Well I did get fat again. I got pregnant and packed on the pounds with Lorelei. I was still fifteen pounds up when I got pregnant with Georgia and Calvin. I was terrified that she would berate me during my pregnancy about weight issues but she managed to leave it alone until after the babies were born. For me, because I had felt so much hurt over the years because of comments she and others had made about my weight, having her suggest to me that I was making Georgia fat hurt me most of all. As a mother who loves her children more than anything in the world, fat is the last thing I would want for my daughter. I would never wish for my children to suffer the pain and low self esteem I had growing up and although I have yet to conquer my own weight issues, I make sure my girls eat nutrious, healthy food and not much junk. As I sat there bawling at her vicious remarks about my beautiful baby girl, I couldn't help but wish hateful things on her. I hate feeling like that, so full of hurt and rage that I actually wished she would just die and leave me alone.

The night before I left to come home, I tried once more to talk about Calvin to her. I brought out his book and showed her what we went through. She saw the pictures of him dying in our arms and of him lying in his tiny casket. After an hour of reading the book, she closed it and looked at me and said, "Do you read this all the time?" and when I answered no she said, "That's good, because it's pretty depressing." Really? No shit it's depressing. It's the reality of what we went through with Calvin in vivid colour, all there in front of her so that there was no denying it. She didn't have anything more to say about the situation than that. No "I'm sorry I didn't come to his funeral", no "I'm sorry I wasn't there for you", no "I'm sorry that saying his marker was a waste of money". Nothing. I was so eager to get out of there I was in bed by nine that night and up by five am so that I could hit the road. I couldn't get home fast enough. All the way back I had to choke back tears remembering the horrible things she had said to me in front of my mother who was helpless to do anything to intervene. I thought about Georgia and her smile and Lorelei and her bright blue eyes and Shane and how his arms feel around me as I drove, willing the negative stay behind as I headed towards the loves of my life. I wish I could say that I truly left all the hurt behind but the disappointment still sits behind my eyes and my chest feels heavy. Although I knew it would probably not turn out the way I had hoped for, that little bit of hope inside had made me go and take a chance that my feelings would matter this time. They didn't and so the topic of my son is something I will no longer discuss with my family except my mother. I just hope that I find the strength to go back again for her sake. Thanks for all your wishes of support for me, how wonderful I do have the support of my bloggy friends here, it means so very much to me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Family Relations

This coming Monday I am confronting a deep pain that I have carried with me for over a year now. I am going to visit my family five hours away and I have every intention of letting them know that by not attending the funeral of my son, they have hurt me very deeply. I'm bringing Calvin's book so that if they choose, they can meet my son and see what he endured in his short life. I have tried to speak of Calvin over the phone a few times with my grandmother until she snapped at me one time and told me that all I ever talk about anymore is my dead son. It cut me to the core. I was absolutely gutted by her comment and since then have merely muttered, "I'm fine", when asked how I am doing. It's awful to live with the knowledge that there is such little care about my feelings, so little love, that my family could pass on coming to the funeral of a child who was very much wanted and loved by my husband and myself. To be honest, the day of Calvin's funeral, even though I was in a complete daze, I was very much aware of their absence. I never even received a sympathy card. It has made me bitter towards my remaining family, the few relatives I have left on my mother's side. Some days I wonder if I should just cut all ties completely because it is clear that there is very little interest in my life. The reason I keep hanging on is my mother. My mother, my sole caretaker when I was a child is dying. She has been in the terminal stages of MS for years now, any little infection could kill her. My mother is someone I love with my whole heart despite the rocky time we went through during my teenage years. While I am extremely grateful for my grandmother's complete devotion to my mother, dealing with her has been a nightmare. To say I am intimidated by this ninety-one year old woman is an understatement. I'm literally terrified of having to have this conversation with her.

It's amazing to me how when I talk of my grandmother and my relationship with her people tend to laugh or dismiss her mean streak as age. I can probably only count on one hand the number of visits I've had with her since I was a teenager where she hasn't made me cry. On one hand, I love her so very much and I admire her strength for enduring so much pain and hardship in her life. My grandmother came from a very poor family in Ireland and in the early 1920's travelled by steamer (in steerage) to Canada where her parents hoped to live a new life. Her mother died on the voyage over of tuberculosis and when they landed in Canada, her father gave all five kids up for adoption. My grandmother, being the oldest was the only one who never got a family. She lived in foster care most of her life in very poor conditions and was treated basically as a slave. She definitely had her share of hard work growing up. Part of her was damaged during those years though, the emotional part of her took such a beating that she became bitter and unable to empathize. She has very little tolerance for things that she doesn't agree with and she has no qualms about speaking her mind if things don't meet her approval. At best, her tirades are embarassing, especially when she goes off in public. At worst, she has hurt me so deeply by attacking everything in my life I am sensitive about until I have been crying in hurt and frustration and there's nothing I can do but sit there and take it. Truthfully, there are many times that if she hadn't been old and if I didn't feel indebted to her for taking care of my mother that I would have liked to have punched her in the mouth for some of the cruel things she has said to me. At the same time, she can be so kind and generous it's like Jekyll and Hyde. She makes me feel like an infant for the most part even though I now tower over her in height. To say I am looking forward to this confrontation is a joke but it's something I have to do for me and for my son.

I think one of the reasons that Shane and I have had for the most part such a good marriage is that we both come from families where we have felt disappointment. I think the disappointment we have experienced growing up made us realize what we wanted for ourselves and our children. I wanted my children to feel loved most of all, to know they are valued. I wanted my children to feel secure and safe within the confines of our family and know that they could count on their dad and I to be there for them no matter what we may face down the road. I have been told many times by not only my therapist but by others that I cannot continue to let the lack of interest in my life that my family has, keep hurting me. I have been told to "create" the family I had always wished for growing up. For some reason, I can't let go. I can't let go of the hurt I have felt by my family's apathy in regards to Calvin's life and death. I can't let go of the feeling of being silenced by my grandmother when she told me that all I do is talk about my dead son. I cannot let go of the disappointmet that my family who looks so wonderful on the outside, has very little substance on the inside. This trip may break my ties altogether or it may help them realize that I am here and I am hurting. I'm not holding out any hope for one of those "lightbulb" moments where they all get it and apologize even though it would be nice. I guess I'm mainly doing it so that I can purge some of the crap I've been carrying around for a year now and let it go. I need to do it to honour Calvin and myself, and even though I am scared to death of how it will go, I know that afterwards I will have done what I have set out to do and for that I can be proud. Wish me luck...

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Welcome Isobella Mai!!!

I just wanted to post my joy at hearing that Jay at Opus Angara has safely brought her rainbow baby Isobella Mai into the world. I must admit I suffer anxiety everytime one of you babylost mamas gets pregnant and then gets close to the due date. I care so much and so deeply for some of you that I could not bear to see any of you suffer any more than you already have. I have followed Jay's pregnancy with Isobella for some time now and have been in awe of Jay and her peaceful outlook on her pregnancy. Not only is she breathtakingly beautiful while pregnant, she makes the most gorgeous babies too. Please pop over to Jay's blog and welcome Isobella if you haven't done so already.
It seems as if there are an overwhelming number of rainbow babies on their way right now, some days it's difficult to remember who is pregnant and when they are due. I do have a little envy I must admit. While I have my two lovely daughters here with me, knowing that I probably will not ever be pregnant again is difficult to accept sometimes. I love the newborn/first year stage so much that I'm sure if I had been well enough, I would have had a baby every year until my uterus fell out. Seriously. There is something so incredibly intoxicating about the smell and feel of a newborn baby and in watching the development of milestones within those first twelve months. I love the first smiles. I love the excited rush of realizing the baby has just slept through the night for the first time. I'm sure Georgia and Lorelei will still keep me busy with their firsts but they are no longer as dependent on me as they were in that first year of life. Georgia still runs over to hug me every few minutes as she's playing or exploring, almost as if to reassure herself that I am still here as she moves further and further away from me into her own little world. Lorelei still demands snuggles and mommy time in the evenings or early mornings (thank God), but it's those tiny feet and hands and that soft downy hair I will miss as my girls grow older.
The conceptions and births of these rainbow babies has me thinking so much about Calvin lately. I miss him and no matter how hard I try to imagine him as Georgia's age right now, I can't. All I can see in my mind's eye is how he looked as a newborn, how precious and soft and wonderful he was. Oddly enough I had my second dream about Calvin last night and although the circumstances of my dream were chaotic and weird, the feeling of holding him again was wonderful. I woke up feeling peaceful and happy, like I had once again received a message from my son telling me he loved me and that things were alright for him. Indeed I am trying to focus on my belief that a hundred years on earth is only a few seconds in Heaven so that by the time we are reunited, Calvin won't feel he has been away from me for very long. I like that thought alot. Even though in my previous dream, Calvin came to me as a grown man of thirty with the promise of seeing him grow up in the rewind of my life, last night's dream had him as my infant son again. Only he could speak (aren't dreams weird?) and he told me he loved me repeatedly. Even though I long for more babies, I know that another son would not keep me from missing Calvin, in fact I know I will think of him and love him until the day I die. This realization has made me understand on a deeper level how the births of these rainbow babies must affect the mamas. While it must be a huge relief to hold a living child in their arms again, one baby can never take the place of another and that pain of separation and longing for the one you've lost will never completely go away. In a way, I think these babies bring back hope. Hope for the family, hope for new beginnings, hope for a happier and more fulfilled tomorrow. I wish there was a way to bring that hope to all of us who have lost a child especially for those of us facing fertility issues. The only way I can keep the hope alive inside myself is to focus on my girls and to share in the joys of the mamas out there experiencing motherhood of a different sort now, the mothering of children who are alive and well. It is something I wish for everyone.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Catching Up

I can't believe it's been a week since my last post and that I haven't found the time in my day to sit down and write what's been going on with me. So many little things. First, I have been nominated by three fellow bloggers for the Beautiful Blogger Award which I will get to as soon as possible. I promise I will try to do it tomorrow, I just had so much on my mind tonight that I wanted to spill about that it will have to wait another day, another post.

I am a little upset right now because my camera battery is not holding a charge and there are things I have wanted to share with you all on my blog. I am going to try to get a few pictures taken in the coming days so that I can share the beautiful gifts I have received from Karen and Barb. During the twenty five days of Christmas giveaway, I won the stolen moments wrap from Karen at Busy Hands. It's simply gorgeous and I've been wanting to take a picture of it to share and I will as soon as it's possible. As well, I won a handstamped page from Barb at Burble, a beautiful piece of silver jewelery that she lovingly stamped with Calvin's name, birth and death dates. It took one month from the day she mailed it for it to arrive here in Canada. I knew it was coming but never having received anything from the UK before, didn't know how long it would take in the mail. I must say I was getting anxious about it's arrival because I knew Barb had mailed it out weeks ago and it only arrived the other day. Nevertheless, it's gorgeous and I want to share it too. Thank you so much Barb and Karen for your beautiful gifts. I promise I will try to post pictures as soon as possible given my camera situation.

Today I ran into an old friend from years ago at City Hall while I was out paying my utility bill. Cory and I were friends as teenagers and for awhile, he lived on my couch when things weren't going so well for him at home. It's been probably at least eight or nine years since the last time I saw him and we made small talk while we were standing in line. The usual "Are you married and do you have any kids?" talk came up and I laughed as I told him I was on my second marriage and asked him the same questions. The last time I saw him, he had a girlfriend and I'm sure she was pregnant so it was to my surprise when he answered No, not married, no kids. I waited for him to pay his bill and we carried on our conversation on the steps outside. I told him about Lorelei and Georgia and then I took a deep breath and told him about Calvin and what had happened to him. Immediately Cory got a soft look in his eyes and said how sorry he was and then taking my hand, he told me he lost his firstborn and only child, a daughter. I could see the pain in his eyes as he related how his girlfriend went into labour and how as they were in the delivery room with her parents and his parents waiting outside, they lost the baby's heartbeat. He looked at me and said," One minute I was going to be a dad and the next minute my baby was dead and there was nothing they could do about it. Her cord was wrapped around her neck twice." My heart broke for him as he told me about the death of his daughter and how it ruined his relationship with his girlfriend. He told me that it hurt him so much that he didn't know if he ever wanted to have children again and that he had gone from relationship to relationship, not really feeling much of anything because he had all this hurt inside he was trying to keep down. He told me that he had hardened himself, that nothing in his life had hurt so much and that there were a million tears inside trying to get out. I could see a sense of relief in his eyes, knowing that there was someone out there who "got it". I couldn't believe one of my childhood friends had gone through losing a child too and it was amazing to me how comfortable it was to talk with him about it. He knew what I had dealt with because he had been there too. He knew the toll the death of your child takes on your relationship because he had been there too. I could tell he hadn't talked very much about his daughter with people but that he felt okay talking to me because of that terrible understanding. I walked away feeling a sadness for him but also a sense of kinship that I can't explain. I know that today's chance meeting will not be the only time we talk about our babies and that now that he knows someone else who has lived to bury their child that I will be there if he ever wants to talk.

Talking to Cory today gave me a new perspective on the male side of grief. I only know the things my husband has done since Calvin has died, the supressing the tears, being angry, drinking and acting out. Hearing Cory talk about how he hardened himself made me realize that for our men, it's possibly one of the only ways they can cope. I know that after Calvin's funeral, Shane stopped crying and that he became uncomfortable with my tears for awhile. I know he became angry at the world, my usually laid back and easy going husband had become filled with a rage I didn't know how to fix. I realize now that the anger was part survival. I know that as a man, Shane wasn't comfortable with the way he was feeling, the overwhelming sadness was something quite alien to him and frankly, although he knew it was acceptable for him to cry over our son, he didn't like to. Crying made him feel vulnerable and soft and in alot of ways, it went against everything he felt a man should be. Shane felt he had to be strong for me and the girls. He stuffed his tears away until the pain made him angry. He was angry at his inability to fix what had happened to our son and to us. Rather than talk about his feelings, he plunged into doing things that distracted him from the emptiness. He became obsessive about World of Warcraft, spending hours upon hours online. When that started to bore him he turned to his X-Box, shopping, golf, drinking, anything that would keep his mind off what had happened to us and in his inability to reconcile his grief, our marriage started to crumble. We are okay now, for this moment, but in talking to other couples who have lost their children also, it's amazing how many of them don't make it in the end. The grief divides them. The way men and women grieve is so different, husband and wives become strangers to each other. I know for a long time after Shane and I started having trouble that I was afraid to talk about Calvin because he said it brought him down all the time. We've talked since and sorted it out but for awhile, I was afraid to show my feelings in front of my own husband, the very person who had shared the pain of losing our only son, the one person who surely knew how I was feeling. In talking to Cory today, I got another glimpse at the male side of grief and how devastating it is for them as husbands and fathers to deal with a pain that feels insurmountable without being accustomed to the depth of emotion the deaths of our children invoked. I wanted to reach out and hug him and hold him but part of me knew that the "male" core of his being would not feel comfortable feeling vulnerable in a public place. I wanted to thank him for opening my eyes to the pain of my husband and the fact that Shane isn't alone in stuffing his feelings away. Instead, I squeezed Cory's hand and told him to add me on Facebook, that we would get together sometime to talk and I said good-bye. I have to wonder if we were meant to run into each other, to share with each other our deepest pain. I know I walked away feeling as if I had a better understanding of my husband and for that I am extremely grateful and feel more at peace with the way he has dealt with things over the last year. It's amazing to me that in ten minutes, my whole perspective changed towards my marriage and our struggles because of talking to another man face to face about what happened to him after he lost his child. It's amazing to me that babies dying seems more common than I ever thought possible, and it makes me sad. It makes me sad for the daddies who can't seem to grieve and be okay with their own emotions because it almost seems like we women have an easier time with it. We can cry, we talk about our pain, we are expected to be emotional whereas our men are not. Thank you Cory, for opening my eyes wider to the pain of the fathers, I pray you find peace.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Kickin' It

I decided on New Years Eve that I was going to stop taking the opiates I've been on for over a year now. Cold turkey. I honestly didn't think it was going to be a huge issue, I was sure it would be a little uncomfortable but I was pretty sure I was prepared. I want to get healthy again. I want to not be fuzzed out all the time. I want my sleeping habits to get back to normal. With all these positives in mind, I took my last pill of the year at eleven that morning. By three o'clock the next morning I was starting to feel a little uncomfortable but I was doing it. I made it past the stomach cramps and the irritable feelings but by forty hours in, my muscles were spasming out of control. It was like restless legs syndrome all over my body, simply the worst feeling in the world. I tried to sleep. I had taken 1mg of Ativan to ease me through the worst part of the withdrawl and help me sleep. It didn't help. I took a second mg of Ativan and then a third. Finally I broke down and took a pill. I felt defeated. I can't believe I didn't make it. It was the longest forty hours of my life and I couldn't make it. The feeling of wanting to rip off my own skin was too much for me to handle. I hate to admit it but I think I'm going to need to seek professional help to get off these meds. When I think back to this time last year, after Calvin had just died and I was sicker than sick with e. coli, addiction to the meds never occurred to me. The soft fuzzy blanket of numb that wrapped itself around the sharp edges of my pain appealed to me. Instead of the searing emotions, that feeling of having my heart repeatedly ripped out, my grief had become numb. Bearable. At the time, I needed it. I wanted to die in the months that followed Calvin's death and I couldn't stand the pain. The infection was a vehicle for the meds, a means to an end. In the months that followed, more pelvic problems that required strong pain relief. What should have been my first clue was when I started buying pills off the street. In January of last year at one point I had three different strengths of Dilaudid, Morphine, Percocet, T-3's as well as Valium and Ativan. I was mixing them to adjust the degree of numbing I was used to. It's amazing to me that I didn't overdose and die. At one point, I ended up going back to my doctor and telling him I needed a prescription for long acting pain relief. He put me on a twice daily dose of hydromorphone contin. I've been down to just those two pills a day for a little under six months now. I didn't think it was going to physically kick my ass this hard to try and get off them. I'm disappointed in myself. I'm disappointed that I hid my pain in pills for so long that I'm physically addicted. I'm scared about how I'm going to make it past the withdrawl to get off them. I don't want this life anymore. While at one point in my grief I wanted to die, I now want to live for my daughters, for my husband and for myself. I hate what I've done to myself.

Not only am I ashamed at the "distaste" I've had for people with addiction problems, I'm ashamed to realize I am one of them. I've always prided myself at never getting into street drugs more than smoking a little pot when I was a teenager. I've never done cocaine, or acid, or ecstasy or any of the other designer drugs out there. I've always been very cautious about drugs, always a little on the square side. I haven't even drank alcohol more than four or five times in the last five years. Yet here I am, comfortable enough to take pills because they come with a prescription and then to buy them from people I know because I've taken them before and know what to expect. It's terrible to realize you've become one of "them". Not only that but it's shameful to me that I've been not giving myself the chance to fully feel the extent of my grief. In some ways, I'm not sure how things would have gone for me had I chosen to plunge headfirst into the darkness of my grief after losing Calvin. I do know there were several days that I contemplated taking my own life after he died. I felt a failure as his mother, for not being able to protect him, for leaving him to lie in the ground alone. I felt it was my responsibility to be with him because it went against everything in me to "abandon" him to death. I hid away in the drugs until I could talk about him without screaming, until I could get past the feeling of wanting to rip my hair out and fall to the ground pounding my fists and wailing his name. In truth, I wonder if I will plunge into that abyss once I'm off the pills. I hope sufficient time has passed that it's bearable. I hope that coming out of the fuzz will renew my energy, reinforce the committment I've made to spend more "kid" time with my girls, playing with them and enjoying their childhoods. I know I have to do this, that I WANT to do this. I'm just not sure HOW to do it now that I've failed miserably at going the cold turkey route.

I guess part of me is also afraid of being judged. I worry how people will perceive me as a person, as a mother, as a sister, as a friend now that the extent of my addiction is out in the open. I worry that people will realize that I'm not strong at all, that I couldn't face the death of my child without burying my feelings in pills. I worry that there will be condemnation for what I have allowed to happen to me or that people will nod and say "So that's whats been going on with her." Part of me wants to shout and rationalize and list all the terrible things that have happened since Calvin died and say, "See, see what I've been through this year?", as if those things would give me a reason. And while yes, there are reasons, I do know that other people survive tragedies also and they do it without burying themselves in a prescription bottle. I'm determined to hang onto my identity through all of this. I don't want to be thought of as an "addict" or have the consequences of my actions define who I am. I am still me. I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister, and a daughter. I am a woman who has been hurt terribly in my life and is still standing. I am a survivor who has made the decision to live rather than die. I am a woman with hope, for myself, for my children, for my family. It's not going to be easy and I'm sure I will need support in the days I am feeling discouraged but I do know this is something I WILL overcome. Please say a prayer for me.