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The tears began yesterday in anticipation of the day to come. Usually I love my birthday. I have always made it a point to plan something fun- whether it’s dinner with friends, a party, camping, whatever, I love celebrating it. I think that it’s important to honor the one day of the year that is just about you. I also was never too concerned with getting older. As much as I don’t look or feel the 38 years I turned today, the fertility world has a very different viewpoint. I don’t care how many women over 40 are having babies, I guess I never thought that would be me. This really should have been the best birthday ever with my sweet little Silas.
Last year, obviously, I was pregnant. We had plans to go to a Mets game with about 25 friends. To me, this sounded like the best idea ever- I was soooo excited. We all now know what happens when you have expectations. Well, it turned out to be the rainiest day of the year and the game was canceled. I spent most of the day crying! The one thing I said to Chris was “at least I’m pregnant.” Enough said.
Luckily I have the best husband in the world. He knew how much I have been dreading this day. In the midst of my first birthday breakdown yesterday, he handed me something wrapped up. We are not gift givers, we would rather spend our money doing something, like dinner, concerts, etc. Spending money we don’t have on gifts we don’t need, isn’t necessary. But in this case it was just what I needed. He actually found the absolute perfect gift for me. It was a bag made from recycled yoga mats. I mean, seriously! I cried even harder.
My 38th birthday is now coming to an end. In between tears, it was okay I guess. It probably will go down as the worst birthday so far, but I did have the most gorgeous sunny day ever and got to spend it with my amazing husband. I worked a bit (which was probably not the best idea), we took a ride to the beach, ate some seafood on the water with Chris’ brother and his girlfriend, and now we’re home getting ready to hit the couch.
I did feel the love coming at me from all over. With facebook, g-talk, emails, texts, phonecalls, cards- you name it, each message reminded me of the wonderful support system I have in my life. But even still, I am ready for this day to end as I anticipate the next few hurdles in the coming weeks. Somehow I’ll get through it, tears and all.
It is the expression on their faces when they’re watching their kids play that incinerates me. I can handle the strollers and toys. I can deal with the carseats. But the dreamy smiles and passively proud way they stand around the sandbox pierces my defenses before I know what is happening.
I was stoic in the sand. I played with our friend’s son and enjoyed it, but I had to have tunnel vision just for him. I couldn’t lay my eyes on the newborn wrapped up with that mom over there. I couldn’t hear the names of the other kids with their pails and balls. Most of all, I could not get into a single second of a conversation with any of those blissed-out parental units floating through a gorgeous spring day, idly hovering over their prides/joys.
Or maybe that look is just lack of sleep. We’ve been babysitting the last two nights and I am definitely not used to a 7am wake-up followed by all day activities. Hell, I even took a nap! The 4 year old we are watching never slowed down for a moment until he passed out amid tears of missing Mom & Dad and pure overtiredness.
We volunteered to watch their son while they were away. We’ve known him since he was born and we think of him as a friend and nephew. He’s a great kid, really fun and funny and it’s a pleasure to spend time with him. Obviously he reminds us of what we don’t have, but it’s a bit removed because we’ve known him since before Silas. And he loves us lots, too. We know that and it feels good.
The weekend has been great, but the park was not.
The knowing smiles on other parent’s faces; the easy bliss of their playground interactions with their kids; their strollers and bottles and the shouts of their kids for “Daddy” to “watch me!” Apparently it was Dad Day at the park, and I felt like a fucking impostor.
Every instant out there cauterized my soul. I was numb with pain and denial.
I could feel the conversations that could have started, conversations I avoided by averting my gaze. My aloofness must have been apparent, but I didn’t care.
“Huh, that Dad is kinda an asshole,” I could hear them think. I wondered if the grimace on my face that was supposed to mimic their happiness appeared as weird and strained as it felt.
Probably not. I think I pulled it off pretty good. I just pretended this wasn’t actually my life and that hanging out with our friend’s son was as natural and correct as it should have been.
We climbed the jungle gym. We went higher and higher on the swings. We tried to knock down the ancient trees and compared dinosaur notes and then took a walk by the river before heading home for lunch.
Out there in the sand, I realized something that I’ve sorta known for a while now, but it only fully hit me today.
I will never be completely happy, ever again.
No matter what wonderful things come our way down the line there will always remain an untouchable sadness that lingers in the cracks and corners of my being.
So far, though, it more than just lingers. Playing in the sandbox the sadness burned me with a fiery flush that radiated out from deep within, to the point that I could not believe the metal bar of the jungle gym gripped tight in my hand was not melting away to nothing.
Spring is raw for us so far. Where we were for the last one, what isn’t, etc.
But still it compels us to smile, the warm spring air. We look for hawks as we drive, living these lives that we could have never seen.
Is there a way to un-hope for something? If so, I’m living it. So now I don’t do hope. I just do givens, realities, nows.
I’m living a series of nows that must remain distinct from everything that came before and anything that might happen next.
Other terrible things probably await down the path of my life. But I’m sure stupendous beauty and ridiculous fun is somewhere out there, too.
I’m just worried about the timing.
Too many flying bags of flaming shit directly in the face can really beat a man down. So it’s time for better things to start getting better and being more awesome.
I want to get things straightened out and cleaned up, but then I just sit back down here at the computer or out on the couch or often in my car and I just go through the World. Go. Do. Forward. Get. Things. Done. Whatever is the next thing in front of me, that’s what I do.
This weekend while away in the woods, all I could do was read. I read in the yard and on the porch and almost walking up the hiking trail, too, but mostly I read. I had to have it all in my head instead of just there in my hands. I can’t do anything with it if it’s still in the book.
Then to bed. Bed is dangerous. Horizontal hopes send my stomach gurgling and my mind whirling. Upright and walking I wander through the day observing the anxious actions of my physical self. There I go getting shit done. How the eff do I do it, I wonder, my mind wild and tight.
We walked in the woods this weekend and I put my book away long enough to look around and hit the trail and get some breath and sweat. There were long, warm views from atop the mountain and crisp early-spring shadows still laced with snow. I didn’t have much to add to the group’s banter and conversation because I was brooding through the woods.
It was nothing specific beyond Silas and everything that is my life now. No particular worry or newly bad situation rumbled around my brain. A pervasive sadness just filled me even as I relished the thrum of turkey vultures taking off, fleeing my mad dash down the trail around knobby roots and small, firm trees. Old leaves covered every inch of the forest floor, giving each step the potential for slip. But I got winded before I tripped and fell. Lucky me.
For a few moments I was alone in the woods in the rustling quiet of nature. I listened and looked and stood slightly sweating in the cool arboreal shade waiting and wondering for what was next. Not just the next moment, but the next everything. For a moment I thought about what our lives might look like if we had another child, but I couldn’t focus on that thought for long.
I was worried and hopeful throughout Lu’s pregnancy but those thoughts and fears seem vastly inadequate to the magnitude of what happened. So I don’t bother with them anymore. Our lives will be whatever they are whenever that happens, and there was not much I could about it out there on the mountain, in the woods, briefly alone in the chilly spring air.
My muscles were atrophied from lassitude and grief but they kept me moving through the trees until I found the perfect spot to stop and wait.
The breeze across the sweat of my back sent me shivering.
I listened to my soul missing my son by hearing the subtle sounds of the life around me.
My wife and brothers and family and nephew snapped and crackled into my range, their laughter and conversation a beacon for my worn and tattered spirit. I waited for them on a rock above the trail, hiding in the glare of the sun.
Silas is hidden in the glare of my pain and grief. I need to have him close, but missing him burns my mind to a crisp.
Once they found me I walked with Lu’s hand in mine and we didn’t have to say a thing because we both knew what the other was thinking. I hope Silas knows too, somehow.
Back home I picked up my book and read some more. I had to have it all in my head because now, not knowing is worse than anything.
This pit in my stomach is a sign of the uneasiness I feel every second of every single day. It hasn’t let up as time has gone on, it’s actually getting worse. This uneasiness is there to take the place of Silas being here with me, with us. He also has found himself a spot on the forefront of my brain, kind of like in my 3rd eye. The place where I am supposed to have found enlightenment, but is also what is believed to be the place where mental images are evoked that have deeply personal or spiritual significance. Silas lives in that place 24/7. I think the only time I can push the thoughts of him aside are when I’m watching enjoyable tv or teaching. Otherwise, his unmistakable absence is firmly planted in every part of my being.
We went to visit my parents in Florida a few weekends ago. There was this dark cloud of What Should Have Been, hanging over us the whole time, it was unmistakable in its presence. My parents have been waiting a very long time to be grandparents. I am almost 38 and the oldest child and there are no other grandchildren yet in our family. It is time, and has been for awhile. Down there, pretty much every single friend of my parents are grandparents, and they just could not wait for their turn. It was wonderful to see them, to spend time, to relax and enjoy the really hot Florida sun. But we all knew what was missing. It made the trip really, really sad for all of us.
My days are filled with his absence. I know it isn’t healthy for me to think about how he should be here and how he would fit into my every day, but I do it anyway. I can’t help it. When Bandha wakes me up every single morning at 6:30am to be fed and to be let outside, I imagine it to be Silas waking me up. I think that Chris and I sleep as late as we possibly can, every single morning, just because we can. Waking up is the hardest part of the day. I fall asleep no problem, and even stay asleep. But I always crawl back into bed after letting the cat out, and then never want to get out of bed again. We drag ourselves up, unwillingly, because we both have a lot to do each and every day.
This absence is filled with work, work and more work. We are both building our businesses and spend as much time as we can just working hard. It is filling this void, this constant emptiness we feel and it is just a really good distraction.
I am finding myself having to confront the world of the 6-8 month old almost every single day. If it’s not a parent hanging out with one while i’m teaching a class, its a woman calling me to register for my teacher training and telling me that it will be the first time she’ll be away from her little one. It’s all very innocent for all the non-babylost parents out there. But for someone like me, the mere mention of an 8 month old sends me bawling from the elliptical and into the bathroom for 10 minutes until I gather myself. Why I’m being tested like this, I’m not sure.
As much as Silas has been filling my thoughts, I haven’t really felt a sense of him with me that much. We do have this thing for hawks, though, and are pretty much obsessed with the fact that they are everywhere and are so beautiful to watch as they sail gracefully above us, surprisingly here in CT. I try really hard to feel Silas in these amazing birds of prey. The other day though, I had an encounter that was like no other I’ve ever experienced in my life. I was standing outside a school where another teacher and I had just taught some kids yoga. We were chatting away, when suddenly, a humoungous bird swoops down in front of us, practically eye level, and then flies off staying really low for a bit before heading up to a tree. I looked at it with my jaw dropping and said “was that a hawk?” My friend looked at me and said “you know what that means right?” and we just looked at each other, started crying and hugging and just stood there in shock. I felt it with all my heart and soul. It was my little Silas, just letting me know that he was here with me, filling up a little of that emptiness, even if it was just for a split second.
My post for April was just published over at Glow in the Woods. Thanks for reading.
Silas is silent
I cannot find him. He is
my quiet, lost love.
1 | Give us a few words you would have used to describe your body, your health or your sense of physical vitality before the experience of babyloss—and a few that you’d use to describe it now.
Before I was pregnant I felt strong, healthy, flexible. While I was pregnant, I was in awe of what my body could do, but felt so inhibited in movement. I couldn’t bend or sit or walk the same and it was uncomfortable for me. I loved being pregnant though and loved that my body was able to grow a baby – you have no clue whether its possible until it happens and I was ecstatic! Now, after losing Silas, I feel flabby, tired, overweight, uncomfortable in my skin. I am working on it, but still see my body as what caused this loss. It’s been burdened.
2 | What do you do to take care of yourself? Has this changed?
Right after Silas died, I began my own home yoga practice, about 10-20 min a day. I saw that while it was calming me emotionally, it wasn’t getting rid of the baby weight. I started doing workouts on exercise tv on on demand. That made me feel a little better, but I still saw no progress. Now I have been going to a personal trainer for the last 2 months and I’m feeling stronger and stronger every day. I don’t see that much changing in terms of weight loss, but I am feeling like I am taking control of my body in a way I never have before. I also get acupuncture, take a weekly yoga class, get energy healing and started seeing a naturapath. I’m on it. Oh, and my wine and dark chocolate almost every evening while relaxing on the couch watching tv. That is what I really need.
3 | Give us one or two words to describe sex or physical intimacy before, and then after the loss of your baby.
before: loving, sweet, with intention, fun
after: hopeful, loving, emotional. I feel like we have gotten closer then ever because of this. We share this intense pain that I think comes through sometimes when we have sex.
4 | Has loss and/or grief left a physical mark on you (a scar, a chronic condition, insomnia, a tattoo)?
I have my tattoo of the tree and the orion constellation and it makes me feel like Silas is with me always. My extra 20 lbs is there too. The feeling of running out of time since I’ll be 38 soon is also weighing on me.
5 | Do you medicate or control your emotions with food, wine, altered states, prescriptions? Without judgement, what have you gravitated towards in an effort to heal, and how do you feel about it?
A glass of wine or a beer, but in moderation since we are still trying to get pregnant. Seriously, my few pieces of dark chocolate every night is what I look forward to the most. I’m not one for medicating, I think it makes it worse and sadder for me. I’d rather feel it all naturally.
6 | Was physical healing important for you in the first year after your loss? What did/does physical healing entail and how did/do you work towards it? If physicality hasn’t been a priority for you, what do you do that makes you feel stronger or more able to cope?
Well, we are still in this first year and the physical healing is so important for me. This body and what it looks and feels like are reminders of what I don’t have. I feel like I need to develop that physical strength in order to regain some of that emotional strength. I love throwing the weight ball around – it definitely helps to get rid of some of the anger and sadness I carry with me. But I am working on both, so hopefully together they will help make me whole again. I also can’t forget music, food, writing, teaching the kids yoga, friends, family, my endless trips to TJ Maxx, Chris, all of that has played a huge part in helping me to heal.
7 | If you could change anything about your body and/or health, what would it be? What would it feel like to be either at peace with your body, or at peace with this babylost state?
I would be pregnant again right now. I would have my old belly back. I don’t think I’ll ever be at peace with my body, I never have been. I feel like when I am finally pregnant again, I will not focus so much on what my body can’t do anymore, but more on what it’s doing. I don’t know if I’ll ever be at peace with this babylost state. I wish I could say that I see that for my future, but I don’t think I do.
We were psyched up about the Tweedy show last week, and when he actually dedicated those songs to our son we were blown away. Both the beauty of the music and the power of hearing our son’s name in such a public setting sent us both soaring.
Yesterday I clattered to the ground disoriented and upset.
I miss him I miss him I miss him so much was all I could think yesterday. I was barely holding back tears as I went about my business. But there’s a rule: No Crying At Work, so I just put my head down and got to it all. And I was busy. The business grows weekly and it’s hard to digest each new account and plan for their new needs and schedules. The thing of it is, our goal at work is to become overwhelmed. When I finally physically cannot do everything that needs to get done, it’s time to hire someone else.
However, feeling overwhelmed is not fun, and my ability to withstand pressure and chaos is not what it used to be. My tactic is the same as always, though. One step at a time. Do what must be done first and next and worry about the rest of it in its own time.
The high of gorgeous live music dissipated yesterday. I felt guilty and icky about feeling happy over the previous few days. It was as though I had betrayed Silas, as if I was somehow wearing his death as a badge. How dare I feel good when all I really want is him, with me, now. Yesterday I spent a day living in all the future moments I won’t have Silas and it was overwhelmingly terrible.
Today I’m a bit more balanced. Today I’m walled up and fortified. Which was a good thing because today Lu called me sobbing on the phone. Her crash was the same as mine. The ache of missing him. That reverberating twang of loss that nearly snaps the strings of our souls. The guilt of feeling happy for a little while. But today I was able to be calm and helpful, to soothe her wounds just as she did for me, yesterday.