If you are like me at all through your child loss journey you NEED to hear this song. It is a Christian song which is something I have a very hard time listening to now because it angers me….but this…..this is something you need to listen to. It opens that window to your soul that you thought no one was looking through and speaks to it. It actually helped me feel hope in my faith and known in my circumstances. I LOVE IT!!!!!
People warned me that life in this new category of “still motherhood” would bring about some of the worst things. One thing I heard continuously was that people would say the most atrocious things to me as it pertains to my son or our reality as a forever incomplete family now. It’s been a little over 9 months since I gave birth to Adam and I will admit I have heard some pretty dumb and insensitive things. People not thinking before they speak and thinking they have the perfect words to console me when they fall disastrously short has become a common trend. Yes, there were some looks of “what the hell?” during those moments but for the most part I let them roll off my shoulder. After all, another thing people continuously told me was that everyone will try to understand but no one has any idea what you are going through except for someone who has actually been through the exact same thing, so they really just don’t get it.
Well, I have encountered some feedback that is what everyone said it would be, atrocious. It is eating away at my happiness and filling me with an anger that is consuming my thoughts. The “feedback” which were some awful thoughts on the way my family remembers my son was posed to my husband. So initially I wanted to freak out on this woman. Then I thought I would remain respectively quiet -that respect being for myself, not the woman with the opinions. But now that it has been a few days and I still find my mind caught in some hateful battle and I am seeing how negatively these thoughts affect my interactions with my family, I have to speak up about it.
So here ensues my first ever “Open Letter.”
An Open Letter to the Woman Who Doesn’t Know Anything About Baby-Loss:
I have tried to push your words out of my head. I have bit my tongue at your thoughtlessness and selfishness time and time again. I have looked the other way when I feel irritated by the things that come out of your mouth. But I can’t do that this time. When you told my husband to stop taking our children (his biological, my “step”) to the cemetery to visit their little brother because it was bad for their mental health, and when you said that visiting on memorial day or his birthday was understandable but that the rest needed to stop, and when you called us selfish parents for “not thinking about the kids” you basically asked for this.
When did how we remember our son become your business? When did offering your thoughtless opinion on our visits to the cemetery become acceptable to you? Where in your mind did you find that it was okay to tell a grieving father, mother, and brother and sister exactly how to grieve a loss that you know NOTHING about? I truly can’t fathom how these thoughts came into your mind and out of your mouth thinking, “yes this is a good idea. Yes, I am qualified to share these thoughts.”
I know my husband already told you to mind your own business but you didn’t get it. Adam is our children’s little brother. Documenting our time at the cemetery with him is in no way unhealthy or traumatic to the kids. It is how we, as a family, remember him and is always a positive visit. Our photos and time spent there is something you also know absolutely nothing about. So, let me tell you about our cemetery visits. We go to the cemetery (the kids have ZERO problem with this and actually enjoy it) we get out of the car, go to Adam’s headstone. I clean it off as well as the decorations while my oldest child, Doodle, makes her usual observations about how nice it looks to which I positively respond. Then her little brother (the living one) greets his little brother with some variation of “Hi, Adam.” Then they go and look at all of the other babies and tell them hi. They play in the grass in the baby section, which I love. Because if you stopped to think about it, which you haven’t, how those babies who are looking down from heaven must love that! Having other children laugh and giggle and tag one another while running around in their resting place is the most perfect visit to the cemetery in my mind. We used to read stories, in which case Doodle would read the story to practice her reading skills and Bub listens happily asking a million questions about the story. Then I tell Adam I love him and how handsome his headstone looks and I walk back to the car. Doodle and Bub say their own personal sign of affection to him, unprompted by me I have to add, and they walk to the car. Generally as we pull out of the cemetery gates they turn around and say goodbye to their brother again and tell him “sweet dreams.”
Because of what life has handed ALL of us my children have gotten comfortable with asking questions about heaven and death. This is good thing because they will deal with a lot of death in their lives. But Bub getting excited to take a picture at a headstone, no matter if the headstone is Adam’s or a great-great grandparent is not an issue. It isn’t bad for his mental health. Never in our visits to their little brother do I (nor my husband) feel that our children’s mental health is at risk. And if we did, we would rethink our approach to remembering Adam. And that is key. WE would rethink OUR approach. This reality our family of 5 now is a part of is just that: ours. You, while clearly a part of our life in some way, are not a part of this part of it. How we decide, as parents, to deal with the death of Adam and how we feel is appropriate to remember him with our kids will not be moderated by you. There is no place for your opinion when it comes to remembering our son. You don’t know how it feels. You don’t know the first thing about it or about life after losing a child.
I don’t mean to be rude, but I do mean to be blunt: Where it concerns the cemetery, Adam, or taking pictures we do not need your input. We are perfectly fine with how our children have dealt with and accepted Adam’s loss and how they have a healthy understanding of death and heaven as a result of that.
Obviously, we wish that at 6 and 3 they didn’t have to deal with burying a sibling, but they have. So we move forward from there, because that is where they are. We will visit the cemetery, we will take pictures with his grave, we will do whatever in the hell we feel is healthy and adequately remembers our son/little brother because this is ours, he is ours. None of this is yours so keep your extremely small minded opinions to yourself.
We are doing a great job of life after Adam without your thoughts on the matter.
A really pissed off “still mom”
You’re feeling happy today?
“Well, let me fix that”, my mind must say.
“Bring it to her attention,
the anger-Don’t forget to mention
The Sleight of the world, at whole.
Hah! How could her mind have been so bold?”
“Try to fight it!” her heart tells her
“Don’t let the day get caught in the burr
of heartache – so easy to feel.”
Some days she asks herself, “is this real?”
“But not today!” she says silently,
The sun shines down bright and violently.
The war can subside – at least for now
She sits, watching the passerby’s and clouds
wondering if this feeling can stay
while knowing she can barely keep it at bay.
The knowledge of that seems so much to bare
Soon the things she sits and stares at disappear
She is wracked by the impending sadness
The happiness she felt soon leaves- as if weightless.
Her mind smiles at it’s own success
as she stoops deeper into her depress.
Life will not be the same, she accepts
The happy feeling now at the ocean depths.
I haven’t really written about my life dealing with the loss of my son lately. I have wanted to multiple times, but when it comes to actually putting words on the screen, I can’t do it.
I realized this morning, at the 8 month anniversary of his death, that it is because I am too angry. I’m angry at a lot of things, some rational and some irrational. But I know that I feel too angry to open myself up and share my thoughts, feelings, etc. with anyone.
I’m sure I can’t be the only one who has felt this way though? Other Loss Momma’s, have you experienced this overwhelming sense of anger? If so, what advice would you give to help another struggling Mom?
Not only does this apply to life as a step-parent but life as a parent in general AND life as a still-mother. Covers all the bases!
This morning while I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get myself and my two kids ready for school, work, and granny’s house my 4 year old was sitting at the breakfast table eating Apple Jacks and talking to his sister.
Both of their gazes shift to the display case that we keep all of Adam’s things in and Bub looks at me pulling my boots on over my socks on the couch and asked, “Where is Baby Adam now, Mary?” They (nurses etc.) said these random questions would happen at the most random times. And from sitting in line at the grocery store trying to get Bub to stop telling the people behind us that we are buying this garden decoration for his “baby brother” to now, they were absolutely right.
One thing I didn’t realize, however, was that I would love the questions. Never have I been hurt when one of the kids bring up Adam. Sometimes, I have to really think hard about how to answer their questions (like ‘how did he get out of your belly’) but I try my hardest to be honest with them and explain things at their level of understanding. (except for that question. We’re not going down that road yet!)
So today when Bub asked, “Where is Baby Adam now?” my response was simple, without looking away from my boot I said, “Well he’s in Heaven, Bub.” To which Bub replied, “Where is Jesus?” And the conversation went something like this:
“Jesus is in Heaven too.”
“He is in Heaven with Adam?”
“Is he next to him?”
“Yeah I bet he is next to him. Probably holding him right now.”
“Where’s his stone?…Is it next to him on this side or on that side?” I thought about this for a minute before I realized that Bub was talking about Adam’s headstone. They are always very aware of the other babies in the cemetery around Adam and they often run around from stone to stone visiting each one and asking their names or commenting on their flowers. So, naturally, in my 4 year old’s cut-and-dry-mind, Jesus must be next to Adam somewhere in there if he is in Heaven too, because everyone else over there is in Heaven.
So how do you answer that to a 4 year old? He asked, “Is his stone next to Adam?” again because I was thinking too long. I told him that Jesus’s stone was far away but that he had a stone. (Silently proud of myself for the pun…you know the stone was rolled away yada yada.) So Bub’s next question was, “Is his body down there too?” Well….okay then. So I ended up trying to explain the ascension to him at which time my 7 year old asked, “How can Adam being running and playing up in heaven if he is just laying down there all…?” She immitated the seriousness of Adam’s face in his casket and put her hands on her belly with her eyes closed. The Lord loves to see how I answer complicated questions!
So THAT question led to a brief explanation of Souls and that everyone has one and our body is only a temporary house for our soul, that when we die our body goes in the ground and our soul goes up to Heaven. After assuring that Adam did indeed have a soul too, they were both satisfied with this answer and just as randomly as the topic came up, it ended just the same.
Which leaves me here, now, sitting at work feeling some kind of weird happiness at their questions. Why their questions bring me such this weird feeling of happiness is not very clear to me but I do know one thing. I worry that they will forget him every day. That as life goes on he will become less important to them as the recentness of his loss fades away into years. It really bothers me and worries me where it probably shouldn’t. I will keep his memory alive as best I can and I am sure that specifically for Doodle, she will remember him for the rest of her life. The big task will be keeping his memory alive to Bub who was only 3 when we lost him. But days like today, when he randomly brings him up and wants to talk about his baby brother make me feel good. Knowing I have at least one more day of not having to remind him who the baby pictures in the display case are brings me a happiness that is not easily explained.
Tomorrow marks 6 months since I met and said goodbye to Adam. And it makes me so mad for so many reasons. 6 months is halfway to a year… the fact that we are half way to a year of having lost him makes me sick to my stomach. I want to claw and grasp at anything to make the time stop. I don’t like moving on in life without him and these milestones just really make me angry. That’s another thing…these 6 months have flown by and dragged by at the same time. I remember when I first lost him and I read things about stillbirth online there was a mother who posted about losing her baby 5 months before me and I thought, “there is no way she can relate to me. I need someone who has just lost their baby, someone who knows how I feel.” Oh how wrong I was. I remember that initial, tunnel of darkness, rush of hormones, feelings of dying, or wishing you could. I remember it like it was yesterday. And I will never let myself forget it. Then the time feels like it drags on too. Day in and day out I wake up and some days I just wait for the day to end. I go to bed at 8 pm some nights just to have the day over with, and some nights I can’t fall asleep until well after midnight because I can’t quiet my racing mind.
But the thought that life does go on after something so unfair happens…..well it’s just not fair. Tomorrow I will cross my arms and stomp my feet with my best pouting face on and curse time for being so heartless and relentless.. The tears don’t come every day anymore, but they can come at the drop of a hat. The anger though, that still comes daily. Thus brings my favorite saying since losing Adam: That’s just where I’m at right now.
The quick and steady bah-dum bah-dum bah-dum met her ears as expected-taken for granted. “One fourty-” her brain only loosly caught the last number of the rhythm and it was forgotten quickly. She would regret not listening fully to that number announced to her on that beautiful August day. But for now she sat back against the angled bed and relaxed her hands over her growing stomach as she let out a breath.
“Go home and drink plenty of water.”
The steady tick of the clock played in the back of her mind the rest of the day as she went about her usual activities. Dinner,tick, Coaching her Daughter,tock, kicking up her aching feet,tick. At almost 32 weeks of pregnancy nothing came as easily as it used to.
A mild awareness of the lackadaisical mood her baby was in sat uncomfortably on her mind and she shrugged it off.
“10 movements no matter how small in an hour.”
tick, tock, tick, tock, 45 minutes and the only movement she felt was the rhythmic pulse in her own heart. tick, tock, tick, tock
Walking through the doors to the familiar waiting room of the obgyn’s office she felt silly. With her husband at her side and feeling something like pressure, that was probably her son pushing on her, she knew she would be embarrassed when she was proven to be overreacting.
“Let me see if the Doctor will come take a listen.”
“Where’d we find it yesterday?”
“The ultrasound tech will get you right in in a moment.”
A subtle shake of the head accompanied by a very still picture projected over head on the wall.
“So, there is no heartbeat.”
No. The rhythmetic tick, tock in her mind stopped abruptly as the floor shattered around her. She left the warm jelly, dim room, and emotionless face of the doctor behind in the room and fell into a fiery pit.
As if they had been lining up behind her eye lids, tears ran down her face, one after another, after another, incessantly. Her own heartbeat picked up pace as if to make up for the lack of rhythm in her no longer growing belly.
“Do you want a minute?”
She would need much longer than a minute.
Everyone take a deep breath and let. it. go.
We made it through the holiday’s!! I know, my post is a little late but after the grueling season that we all just had to endure, I am reluctant to open my heart up to write another post.
But alas! If you’re like me and this season was the first holiday season after the loss of your baby or if you just know what it’s like to endure a Christmas morning in an empty house, then you know; breathe in, breathe out and repeat. Eventually it all comes to an end.
I will not lie, approaching this holiday season I was optimistic and cautious. That is until my husband and I went Black Friday shopping. Then the optimism vanished and I was just cautious. I realized that we were saving so much money on TWO kids and that we should be equally as excited at how much we were saving on baby toys as well. Standing by the pajama’s sorting out a pair for Doodle I looked up and saw the Christmas onesie pajamas across the way and had to collect and reorient myself. Ahhh! Screw them I wanted to say. I wanted to march over and wreck the clothing rack that displayed the cutest Christmas jammies I’d ever seen that read “my first Christmas” across the chest. Screw those pajamas for existing. I thought I had mentally prepared myself pretty well for scenarios such as Christmas morning where we would wake up and instead of seeing presents under the tree for three kids, there would only be two sets of gifts to give out. On top of that, we didn’t have our other two this year, their mother did. So it was especially difficult because we woke up to a silent, empty, still house. That, I thought I had prepped myself for. This though….I didn’t even think about the actual Christmas shopping. So it hit me smack in the face when I saw that onesie hanging on the wrack across the isle from me. It was so forceful that I was sure someone had actually punched me in the chest. I was sure that someone had seen this reality setting in around me that shifted my perspective ever so much. I was sure that the people around me could feel the air thicken and gain an amber hue at the realization that I didn’t need a “my first Christmas” onesie in my cart. But life just moved on as normal. No one noticed, no one stopped. No one had punched me. This was just my little bubble of grief that swallowed me alone.