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The time has finally arrived. It has been mutually agreed upon that Elm City Mom needs her own blog. Come by and say hi!

(And don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out!  He shouted.)

By nature, I am an extremely curious person. I love to ask questions, I love to know your story, I love looking at pictures and getting a glimpse into people’s lives. I think that’s why I took to so quickly a few years ago when I joined up.  At that time, only a few of my friends were on it and it was much quieter. These days, it has taken on a life of it’s own. Everyone is on it and giving the play by play of what used to be the mundane and ordinary parts of our lives.

But at my age, almost everyone I know is married with a family.  This year, though, it seemed like there were more babies being born then ever before. Or maybe it’s because everyone is sharing all about it in detail. When I was pregnant, it was fun. I loved sharing my updates, my excitement, connecting with old friends who were also pregnant. But now, wow, being in this situation – it’s like a daily form of torture.

A lot of us here in babylost land have ditched our memberships. It is just too hard to see all those baby & pregnancy pictures. Not me, oh no, I stayed the course. I figured- you all were here when I was pregnant supporting me, you’ll all stay with me when I go through this nightmare as well. And you know what? I was right. I have heard from countless friends these last 9 1/2 months since Silas died. Many sharing their own horrific stories, others just offering up their love and thoughts. It’s been overwhelming. This is the good stuff though. The stuff that keeps me going. The emails, the words of encouragement, the love.

The other side of this is the baby & pregnancy pix. It  just tears me up. Little by little I find myself hiding friends from my news feed, because I really don’t want to know what you and your new little baby are up to. But I kind of do. I need to take that peek, to see what I’m missing.  I look at the pictures, I read your comments, I torture myself with what I don’t have. Then I cry and feel sorry for myself and punish myself for looking in the first place. It’s an ugly cycle that I can’t get out of. Luckily all I have to do is click hide and *poof* you’re out of my life for now.

2 great friends of ours just had their babies this past week. I want to know everything and nothing at the same time. I am torn. I want to make sure everything went okay because I love them, but then I cry because I know that I can’t get past my own unhappiness to be happy for them. I want to so badly. I want to go hold their babies and give them every ounce of love I can find in me. But I can’t. So, because of that, my curious nature gets the best of me, and I have to look first before I hide.

Why must I torture myself? I am not able to shut it all away. We work at the farmer’s market every week, where new parents parade their new babies around like show dogs. I put on my blinders and pretend they aren’t even there. I guess it’s easy enough to pretend when there is no connection in the first place. With friends though, it’s harder.

I still cry when I see my good friend’s 4 month old. I still can’t allow her to exist in my brain, even though I know she does. It’s just too hard and they understand.

Some days I feel okay. I wake up and think about how okay I am, and wonder how that is even possible. Then a week of new babies being born takes me down that ugly spiral where I feel like I can’t and don’t want to crawl back up.

To all of this, I know there are no answers. Maybe it’s because I’ve stopped asking questions.

I have had these images of myself with my feet stuck in cement, and everyone else is just flying past me. Their lives are moving forward, baby after baby being born.  And here I am, stuck. While I know I’ve moved forward in these last 9 months in so many other ways,  I am still not a mom to a living child. As a teacher, I have always taken care of other people’s children. I have always imagined what it would be like to finally have children of my own. I almost did.

When we decided it was time to start our family, we were still in SF. The timing never seemed to work, and then we decided to move east. At that point, we figured we’d wait until we were settled in a new town in a new apt. As soon as that time finally came, we got pregnant pretty quickly. It happened so fast and so unexpectedly. Our bodies really were connected with our minds.

Here I am, years later from when we first decided we were ready, and we’re back to square one. It’s so frustrating and so upsetting. I am realizing that in all this, I am scared to death that it will never happen. I am terrified that I will never get to be a mom. One by one, all the babylost mom’s out there are getting pregnant again. Then here I sit, waiting, stuck, a life on hold. It’s almost unbearable at times.

I have the angel on one shoulder whispering in my ear in the most hopeful of voices “of course you will get pregnant again, don’t be silly.” I have the devil shouting at me  “don’t set yourself up for disappointment again, look what happened to you already.” and the battle continues. Do I fill myself up with hope that it will happen to me? Or do I put away all thoughts of what will & could be and accept what is now.

I don’t want to accept it. I imagine my Silas with me, 9 months old, almost every single day. It’s my daily torture. It’s this constant longing for what isn’t here and what will never be. Then I fill my thoughts with hope for a new life growing inside of me. But that is not happening, and at this point, is hard to really believe that it will. I want to believe it, oh so badly, but that devil forces me back to reality.

Balance is necessary and important.  Finding it with the opposing thoughts on my shoulders is a challenge. Luckily I have lots of love around me, pulling me up from the cement and moving me in the direction I need to go.

In Sanskrit, Ahimsa means non-harming-  in thought, words or deeds of oneself or others. My awareness of Ahimsa began back in my first teacher training years ago. It is one of yamas (restraints) which makes up Pantanjali’s 8 limbs.  The other limbs that are more familiar would be the asanas (poses), breathing (pranayama) and meditation (dyana). It had never struck me until now, to think of it in terms of myself. I usually thought of it in terms of the non-harming or non-violence of others.

These days, my thoughts are all about the self-blame, guilt, anger, unhappiness and the awful body image. I have focused my being not on healing myself, or taking care of me, but on being angry with who I’ve become since Silas has died. I judge myself in thoughts of resentment. I can barely look at my stomach and the extra skin that just does not want to disappear. I blame myself for the choices that were made and for my body failing. When I find myself sitting at my computer, unable to get work done, I feel defeated. Not yet pregnant? well, of course that’s my fault, stress is wreaking havoc on my reproductive system.  Sometimes I even think that if I leave those thoughts behind, I’ll be leaving my little Silas behind too.

With all the work I’m doing on myself, the EMDR therapy, the yoga, the writing, hanging with friends, getting massages, I still manage to find time to beat myself up. It’s like double the work of just dealing with the grief and that is why I am so exhausted all the time.

Last week in yoga class, my teacher spoke about Ahimsa. It hit such a nerve with me, and I came to a very powerful realization on my mat. I will never fully heal unless I stop these violent and harmful thoughts about myself. I work on this in therapy, I talk about it with Chris and with friends who will listen. I know I am the only one with the power to stop this endless chatter going on in my brain. But it is hard. It is so damn hard to quit. It has become part of the routine of my life. I need to retrain my brain from working in this manner.

The thing is, it is not just about being sad that Silas died, that my baby, who I carried inside me for more then 9 months, is not here with us. The rippling effect of our baby’s death has caused me to suppress the parts of myself where I used to find joy. I hate that I can’t see friends babies, or pregnant friends or even talk about pregnancy or babies. This is something I LOVED. I can’t do it. I have had to tuck that away, which fills me with such enormous pain, I almost can’t handle it. Not only did I lose my baby, but I lost a hundred other things on top of it.  All that stuff has just piled up and piled up in my brain, and I can’t stop it from happening.

I am working on it though. I am letting go of resentments and working on being nice to myself. Just giving myself a break from all the thoughts that keep my jaw clenched and make my brain hurt everyday is really important. It’s hard though. But it’s what I have to do if I want to keep moving forward.

Please send over as much love and thoughts as you can to our friends Brad and Christa and their little Carly. She’s been in a lot of pain this week and they haven’t quite figured it out.  As you can imagine, it has been an incredibly tough journey for them. Lots of love and no-pain vibes heading your way little one!

Last summer I planted my first garden in my backyard. Some veggies fared well:  broccoli, tomatoes, collards, string beans, basil. The rest either started and ended quickly (cucumbers), or didn’t grow at all (lettuce, mesculan greens, chard), or were stumpy little orange nubbins (carrots). This year is different. My upstairs neighbors and I decided to do this together. They moved in mid summer so my pathetic first garden was already almost over.  This year we are a team.

Mid April we started the the digging, the tilling the plotting and the buying. By the end of April, we had our garden. We all began planting furiously.  Seedlings and seeds, marking off spots, planting as much as we could fit. Name a veggie, we planted it. On the other side of the yard, I threw a bunch of seeds someone sent me for a butterfly garden.  I want this to be Silas’ special spot so we are going to scatter some of his ashes in there,  too.

Every day, my neighbor Michael and I meet in the yard and admire our work. We talk about the new little sprouts, and discuss various recent additions. It’s the highlight of my day. I love going outside my back door, to my own huge backyard, to see what I have growing.

This is because last summer, along with my garden, I also had a baby boy growing within me. When I think about last spring/summer, I think about being pregnant, my garden and laying on the couch watching the Mets (and we all know how that ended).  The warm weather keeps reminding me of what I don’t have this spring. I don’t have Silas and I don’t have new life inside me.

What has now happened, is that I can’t stop buying tomato plants and herbs. I am obsessed.  I have 8 tomato plants right now, and I’m sure that will not be the end of it. I stand outside my door every day looking for that growth. That new life that I don’t have in my arms, that I don’t have inside me.  I need it.

I have nothing to nurture except my plants and my cats (& my husband?)  Instead of Silas, it’s Bandha who wakes us at 5:30am (he wants to go outside) and it’s Chumby that sleeps in between us (purring louder than a garbage truck) in one of our arms every single morning.

I’m sure everyone in my life is so over me talking about the cats at this point. The thing is, you all just might have to humor me and pretend to be interested when I tell you how big my tomatoes have gotten.   Don’t worry, they don’t spit up.

We have had a tumultuous last few weeks, with both birthdays, this thing they call “Mother’s Day” and Silas’ memorial coming up this Saturday. I had those expectations of a really terrible weekend. I spent Friday crying all day. Saturday I was ok–we sold coffee at Fairfield’s Earth Day and seeing all the cute babies being strolled around didn’t bring me to tears. I actually may have been cried out. See it worked!  Sunday I only had one major meltdown, but it was a necessary one and one that left me feeling a little lighter.

Our moms decided not to celebrate this year. This made it easier for us, there was no expectation of something we were most likely not capable of performing. Most people in my life were scared. I assume scared of saying or doing the wrong thing, so they just didn’t do anything at all. Some brave friends called and of course all of my family. I got some beautiful texts and emails, and one card from Sarah & one card from Aliza that were wonderful.

One note I wanted to excerpt here was from our friend Tina. She has faced this head on with us, from the very beginning. She has not been scared to email, chat, call or even visit, which she did about a month after Silas died, all the way from SF. This email below was another of the amazing gifts I received this weekend.

This year, it is with a heavy heart that I send out my annual mother’s day email.  I debated about whether I should even send it or not.  I debated about whether to send it to everyone except my friend Lani, but that just didn’t feel right either.  As some of you know, my friend Lani is a mother.  She just happened to lose her baby boy, Silas, 10 hours after he was born this past September.  We are all reminded at different points in our lives that life is so precious and sometimes tragic and certainly at times uncontrollable .  And this past year was one of those years for a lot of people, Lani being one of them.

The reason I think it’s important to continue to send this email out to all of you today is because to me, Lani is an example of exactly why it’s important to celebrate the strong, warm-hearted, vibrant, wise, silly and wonderful women in our lives.  Because even when life hands you something so unbelievable, like losing a baby, you continue moving forward.  You exhibit strength and courage and bravery in the face of grief and loss or illness, you still care about others well-being and happiness, even if inside you may feel a range of other not-so-pleasant emotions.  You  can still laugh and find humor and beauty even in the worst of situations.  We are all faced with great challenges in our lives,  I’m only guessing here but I’m sure that is especially true when raising children, and I know that every person on this email has the ability to handle and rise to those challenges (along with the many joys in life) with grace and love.

I wandered around our apt a bit lost. I started emptying the dishwasher and then had the thought “if Silas were here, I definitely would not be doing this.” I think Chris heard my thoughts because he came into the kitchen and told me to stop, and to relax with him on the couch. Unless this was something I wanted to be doing.

That was the problem. There was nothing I really wanted to be doing. So I didn’t know what to do. That was the moment I stopped and sobbed in his arms.  I looked around not knowing what I was “supposed” to do on a day like this day. All the other mothers were getting treated like queens by their children, husbands, other family members.

What about me? I get lost in the shuffle of all this. I also happen to have many friends who have lost their mothers at a young age, what about them? This is the biggest F-You holiday of them all. This post here says it all. Thanks Tash, I couldn’t have said it better myself.

On Saturday we ended up at a street festival after the Earth Day thing and I became the “bitter” Lani. This side of me doesn’t show itself very often. I was making Chris laugh so hard, it was great. We had Thai food from a vendor and shared the dish even though Chris claimed he was too depressed to eat.  We both gobbled it up and made a mess of the outdoor table as families with their babies strolled by.  I got up from the table and saw our messy scraps there and said to Chris, “I hope some mother has to clean it up!”  He started cracking up so hard.  But even still I couldn’t freaking help myself and cleaned up anyway.

I felt the need to diss mothers everywhere, it made me feel good and I was able to laugh (snidely of course) at the fact that I’m really not part of this club yet. A club I so desperately want to be in, yet somehow my membership was revoked just as it was being handed to me. So what better to do to a club that snubs you? Snub back, snide remarks, name calling, lots of f-you’s. It’s fun, you all should try it.

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.

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.

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.

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