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Zeph is here with us every day. Every day he’s a baby and he has to do it the entire time. After all, there’s no relief from being a baby. You can’t crawl, can’t walk, can’t talk, can’t do anything but smile, study, gurgle and cry. Lots of crying, but not as much as some, I’m told. And so much laughter. I had no idea a three month old child could have a sense of humor.
I’m still in shock that there is a baby in our home. Our baby. Our place. And he laughs, all the time. When mommy comes home. When I come back in the room after being gone for a few minutes. When the blue elephant rotates into view as the Endlessly Small, Small World jingles from the mobile.
I wake up humming it and find myself drumming the tune on my steering wheel as I drive and drive my mind moving in so many ways to figure out how to behave in this whole new World. It’s a small one alright. He’s heavy and solid but easy to lift and when I’m rocking him to sleep again and again the entire World fits in his face.
The bottomless pit that lived in my stomach has a bottom after all. But this doesn’t feel like a bounce, this new journey into actual parenthood. I’m not passing the same sights on this path that I plummeted past on the way down. A threshold instead, perhaps. I fell so far down that I passed right through the bottom and started falling back up the other side.
The happiness I feel right now is sickening to others I’m sure. It’s that goopy, silly, happy joy that just makes me want to puke, except now it’s me. Frankly, I’m embarrassed to feel this good when I felt so awful for so long. It’s like a betrayal to that former self, to Silas, to how much we have lost and what could have should have would have been if we lived in a World where shit like our shit didn’t happen. But I can’t help it, I’m fucking ecstatic right now.
I thought I was going to be this happy, content, loving father to my son so long ago that I had given up expecting anything to turn out the way I wanted. What I wanted didn’t matter, clearly, so I had to be happy enough with whatever scraps I could salvage for three long years. And now suddenly I’m at a feast of awesomeness and I don’t have the stomach to fit everything in all at once. I’m taking it in moment by moment, and Zeph is all about the moment so it feels like we’re on the right path, together.
I love rocking him to sleep with Harry Hood and Graceland on the stereo. He melts me with his infrared smiles and atomic laughter. Not just giggles, these. Laughter. Fucking laughter from my 3 month old son because he likes making us laugh. That’s insanity, yet I see it every day. And he screams like he is being strung up by his toes when he’s hungry and the boob is not forthcoming as rapidly as he’d like. He’s got this one little shriek that cuts through any sound in the world. It probably hits the moon if he aims it right. And as sad and demanding and upset as he is when he fires it off, all we can do is laugh and look at each other and wonder how is he here? Where has he been? How can we be this happy when so recently and for so long, we were so, so sad?
Now, everything has changed once again. From nap nanny to playmat to tummy time to the carseat and a drive to grandma and grandpa’s house, it is go go go. We languished in grief for so long that it feels like I’m moving at lightspeed now, just trying to keep up. And the vortex hasn’t vanished, it just changed in an instant from darkness and chaos to velocity and light.
I can’t stop kissing him and I can’t wait to watch him grow.
Zeph is asleep on my chest, lightly stirring and breathing and sighing as my heart melts within.
I have to stop and read that again a million times.
But he doesn’t last in that position long. If I’m not standing up swaying and lightly bouncing, I’m not doing it right. Too quickly he’s fussing and I have to hand him back to Lu. She’s on 24 hour feeding patrol. And he’s a thirsty guy, just like his dad.
His dad. Me. Finally. We did it and it’s the first thing I can believe in so many years. Silas is my son, but I never got to be his dad, no matter what people say. And feeling that way for so long, as something I couldn’t be and didn’t have and wasn’t able to do, it feels shocking to apply that label to myself right now. Shocking but perfect. Shocking but right. For the first time in my life the chaos and correctness and beautiful, brilliant danger exactly matches what I want.
The first time we were home together, the three of us, it was like a vortex swirling out from Zephyr rearranging my mind, my soul, the physical reality around us. Immediately I had to start pushing furniture around and go through boxes of clothes and gifts and random objects of babynessas as Lu lay on the couch with our son at her breast directing my efforts. It was fucking glorious.
This is his house too, now.
12 days into our new lives together and the grandparents are freaking out. Our friends are suddenly lighter and elated. We are wrapped up in his quiet, alert gaze when he feels like being chill and amazed by the lungs and breath and voice as he screams into the night as all babies do when they are alive and want everyone to know it.
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 face.book 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.