Sunday, December 30, 2007

The world really is a snowglobe at times. Everything seems so perfect on the surface, and only when you really pry, and look for it, can you find that there is actually a tremendous amount of suffering in the world. Tremendous. When Isla died, our doctor told us Isla was the third neonatal death that WEEK. At the first visit to our baby loss support group, the moderator told us they get a call A WEEK from families who've lost babies. How is this all going on under our noses, and no one knows about it? How are the pregnancy books SO able to avoid this topic past the 12th week? Why are families not at least cautioned to the possibilities of unfavourable outcomes in pregnancy? I am continuously stunned at the number of babies who die every day, that get no mention in pregnancy books. Lose a baby, and in "the underworld", others who've lost come out of the woodwork. Babies die. Lots of them. One book I bought had a death plan in it. It detailed in case of death, what your wishes were regarding the body etc. I thought, at the time, how morbid. Oh, blessed hindsight. I bet the author had lost a child. No one in their right mind can decide whether they want their newborn baby's body cremated, or embalmed for burial, within hours of giving birth. It's just not fathomable. Yet it happens. Who makes a death plan? No one, because babies don't die. If you make it past your 12th week, you're hoem free, right? You never hear about it, in public. No fundraisers ever make the news for neonatal death. There's lots of other, less devastating, dare I say more PC illnesses to support. October is infant and pregnancy loss month, but you'd never know it. Another pink cause is much my more trendy, and palatable to support (no offense intended). Baby loss is something so tragic, and so unbelievably sad and uncomfortable that society avoids it at all costs. When a woman loses a baby, many are isolated from their friendship circles because the bereaved mom makes the others uncomfortable. Why? Because they must then face the fact that this could happen to them too; that they and their precious children are mortal, with no guarantees for a long and happy life. They'd rather not face that. Sure, wouldn't we all? But guess what? Everyone dies. I think it's laughable that we think we can cheat death, specifically infant death, by not dealing with it. Living in a death denying society makes it really fucking hard to deal with death when it ends up at your door. Though we all *know* that eventually, we'll lose a loved one, we sure don't expect it to be our baby. When a baby dies in hospital, the mother is often kept at the far end of the unit, for her own sanity, as much as the other moms, who have their babies with them, and want to enjoy this happy time (which they deserve, don't get me wrong). When babies die in hospital, they are quietly escorted to the morgue in an isolette, "no one will know she's passed" I have heard. Well why not? Babies die. It's no secret. It's not catching for Christ's sake. Why shouldn't it be known that my baby died? It's not a dirty secret, I'm not ashamed. I could sure use the support, rather than the alienation. I hate that we deal with our dead this way. A friend of mine was kicked out of her scrapbooking circle because she chose to scrapbook her daughter's short 3 day life, and her death. It made the other girls "uncomfortable". Well fuck you, I say. Too damn bad. Her baby DIED, and YOU feel uncomfortable? Oh I can't even put my anger into words. I would probably hurt someone who said that to me

I have to be fair though, and say that before any of this happened, I would have been happily treading along in my own death denying existence too. I routinely shielded Evan from the topic of death, choosing instead to tell white lies, and skirt the issue. Case in point: my friend's dog. He was hit by a car, and when he wasn't there last time we visited, and Evan asked where he was, I told him the dog had gone to live with someone else. Save him the trouble, you know? Well, suffice to say, he now knows what happened to that dog, and anyone else whose life has graced ours, and since passed. We have books, he knows what death is, and though it's god damned awful that his baby sister died, I'm glad he knows what death is. It will help him deal with it in the future, instead of being broadsided and immobilized by it like me, and the rest of the death denying world.

I love and miss you sweet baby girl. xoxoxo thinking of you all. the. time.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

And so, like that, Christmas has come and gone. I am on one hand relieved it's over. I think it's true, as some have said, that the anticipation of anniversaries and significant days is worse than the actual event. While I dreaded the day coming, I was able to find some moments of levity, laughter and comfort in it all. Tim's dad sent a beautiful, serene painting he did, dedicated to the memory of Isla, it choked everyone around the tree up when we opened it. It was a beautiful gesture, and really thoughtful of him. He did an identical one, with the same inscription, that is hanging in the dialysis unit where he has his treatments. Amazing. I'm touched more than I thought I would have been by this. We have been so lucky to have supportive friends and family through all of this. I hear/read stories about families who tell the bereaved parents to "suck it up" "get over it" or put their "chin up", and it just astounds me. Do they think a pet died? Or that someone has moved away? Their CHILD died. A person. No less significant than yourself. A human being! How can they possibly just 'get over it'? I am shocked that the topic of a baby that has died can be taboo around a family gathering. I have always felt comfortable talking about Isla, to anyone, especially her family. Even though I am often the one to bring it up, no one has ever tried to change the subject (I would be so very insulted by this), or told me not to talk about it because it upsets someone. I feel so sad for the parents who are not encouraged, and even forbidden to talk about their baby's death. How absolutely tragic. I feel like that should be the one place you can turn for comfort, memories, sharing grief, and these parents cannot. They have nowhere to turn, and my heart breaks for them. I could not imagine Isla being a 'taboo' subject. She's a person. No less worthy of discussion in her honour, in laughter or tears. She is a family member. Not a disease or a mistake.
Christmas itself was as good as I could have expected it to be. There were moments of mild chaos (what Christmas would be complete without that though, really?) where I felt I needed to excuse myself periodically. There were moments of fun; we played games, reminisced about Christmases past. We thought sadly about what 'would have been', had Isla lived. That she'd have been dressed in a beautiful holiday dress, buckle shoes and tights. A little red bow in her hair. She'd have sat at the table with us, and entertained us all with her 3 month old antics. It was quieter than it should have been, even with Evan's electric guitar blaring away... How can a home that's never been graced with the presence of a missing family member feel quieter than before they were even born? Yet it did. Though Isla never came home, her absence was palpable. We missed her like crazy, and knew exactly all the wonderful things she'd have been doing. It would have been perfect with her there, and I don't think I'm romanticizing or idealizing one bit.

I've been visiting a website/message board for bereaved parents. Mostly moms, but some dads, which is nice. One mom went into her older child's bedroom when she was sleeping, and placed her palm on the child's chest, and felt the was a beautiful feeling to her, one that she'd never stopped to appreciate before, yet such a precious thing. I can relate to this new gratitude for something so seemingly insignificant. Last week, I went into Evan's room when he was sleeping, and bent down near his bed, and just watched him breathe. I listened to the gentle, even inhaling, and exhaling of breath from his sweet little mouth, and watched his chest softly rise and fall. His skin and lips were pink and rosy, with life flowing through him.
Something so trivial, that most would not think twice about has become a sacred thing for me. The simple fact that my son's chest rises and falls with life is a gift beyond which I can be grateful for. I held my daughter while she died, never to take a single, sweet breath on her own. I see the gift in Evan that is life, and I treasure it like nothing else. If it is true that grief is a cleansing of the non-essential of one's life, then that has never been more apparent than here. I have never stopped to appreciate the sacredness of the fact that I have created life, from my own self. That a separate entity thrives, and craves life solely because of me. Watching this part of me live and grow and 'become' is nearly more than I can bear sometimes. What a gift my little son is. I love him more deeply, more fiercely than I ever thought possible. I am glad to know that the maternal ties between us are as strong as they are, but saddened for the reason I must discover this. Perhaps this is one of the 'gifts' Isla brings. A tangible appreciation for that which I cannot put a price on. A 'thing' that is not really a 'thing' at all, but rather a whom. There is no replacing a loved one, once they've gone. And I am learning every day, every hour, to hold dear that which I cherish the most. My family, the people I love, are more important than any 'thing' will ever be. I must continue to try not to get caught up in competitions of affluence and greed. I want my son to know that the best things in life are not things at all, but rather, the people we share our lives with. The loved ones, family and friends who enrich our lives, and give us joy and laughter, share our tears and tragedies. This is the rich meaningful stuff fulfilled lives are made of. That is what must fill that hollow nagging 'need' that exists in so many people's lives. It is meaningful relationships that make meaningful existences. The most special joys in life are much more special when shared, and the tragedies, more bearable when the weight is distributed among many. When George Carlin lost his wife, he wrote the following commentary, and I've revisited it often, and find it resonating with me more and more.
by: George Carlin
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but
shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more,
but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and
smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees
but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more
problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little,
drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too
little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our
possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and
hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to
life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but
have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer
space but not inner space.

We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air,
but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less.

We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold
more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less
and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small
character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of
two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes.

These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one
night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer,
to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the
stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time
when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going
to be around forever. Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to
you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your

Remember to give a warm hug to the one next to you because that is the only
treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent. Remember,
to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all
mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep
inside of you. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday
that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak
and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.


I firmly believe that we would be a much happier, healthier society if we just reached out more, and allowed ourselves to be reached out to, instead of isolating ourselves in bubbles, unwilling to take chances, extend a hand to a stranger, put an arm around a hurting friend. We are a society full of fear of nearly everything: weirdos on buses, old people who may want to talk too long in the grocery aisle, bratty kids and their negligent parents....lots of people we'd rather not bother with. So we often end up alone, isolating ourselves from everyone. It can be a really lonely world sometimes, and the worst part is, it doesn't have to be. We bring it entirely upon ourselves. Life could be so much more fulfilling, if we just let down our guards, and allowed ourselves to love, and be loved.
So many people (myself absolutely included) spend a lot of time and money searching to fill a niche that cannot be filled with junk from Wal-Mart, or food from McDonalds. There is a hunger that is for human companionship, relationships, and community, that is insatiable by other means. As a society, we keep trying to 'better' everything... have more, make more, use more.. more, more, more. I think actually, that the answer is less. Less stuff, less crap, less distractions in life preventing us from achieving true happiness, which I believe, is to be found in loving, fulfilling, meaningful relationships with others. It's not a big house with fancy furniture. It's a young child, climbing into your lap, telling you you're his "best mom"... you cannot buy that kind of pride and happiness. It's not a shiny car, or fine china... it's holding hands on a walk with a little boy who thinks the world of you, and vice versa. It's shedding a tear for a part of your life that's gone forever, that you miss, and ache for, because it meant so much. It has nothing at all to do with money or wealth. And though I am glad to know this, and know it well, I am sad for the reason I must know it.

I miss you so much sweet baby Isla. You would have changed the world, even more than you already have. I love you more every day. Thank you for being my baby girl, you are so very special to me.
xoxo Mom.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

5 days to go. I don't know how to feel this season. I want to hide in my room and be alone with Isla but I also want to enjoy it with Evan, as it's his first really memorable holiday. He's overcome with Christmas, and all the glitzy things that go along with it. I find comfort and heartache in it, all at the same time. Today was his Christmas playschool party, and it was ... difficult? I expected a lot more baby siblings, thankfully, there was only one. A girl, and a beautiful one at that, in a velvety red Christmas dress. When the teachers offered siblings to go up and sit on Santa's knee after the students had had a turn, my heart wrenched. I had no sibling to sit on Santa's knee. The fact that Evan is now an only child is a big source of sadness for me. Having grown up with a sister to whom I'm pretty close, I know the wonder of sharing life's most special moments with someone you love and know so well. Evan, even with a sibling, at this point will have had most of his exciting moments in childhood alone. That makes me feel like a failure as a parent, like I've let my little boy down. He doesn't seem to suffer for it, or even ask for a sibling, but I know how awesome it would have been for him. The Dodge Caravan commercial made me cry, the first time I saw it. Lovely how emotions take control over themselves. The kids in the back swung their chairs to face eachother, and set up some kind of table in the middle, to play a game on the road. Evan won't have that kind of sibling relationship. No hiking in the woods together, competing for the best finds, wiener roasts, camping, summer vacation, Disneyland etc etc etc.... it's a constant reminder that he won't have the things about my childhood that I cherish the most: exciting times shared with my sister. He will only have us to enjoy them with, and that makes me sad. We're fun, but we're not a brother or sister. It's just different.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

3 months ago today (well, it's just after midnight, but close enough) you were born, my sweet baby girl. It has been a very lonely 3 months without you. Dad and I spend much time talking about you, what you'd be doing now, like holding your head up. Your brother did that just around 3 months too. You'd probably be sleeping in your own room now, in the same cuddly sleepsack Evan did. I ache when I see other baby girls in malls or stores, especially the ones around your age. I feel angry and want to scream why did this happen to us?!!? for everyone to hear. We miss you terribly, and though you never even came home, this house feels tomblike without you here. I remember joining the support group after you died, and meeting the others who'd lost their babies around 3-4 months prior. I thought that seemed like such a long time ago, but here I am, 3 months without you, and it feels like nothing. I can still remember almost everything about your birth, and how it all felt. I thought the other girls must have been so far along their grief journey by 3 or 4 months, and how I couldn't wait to get there myself. Yet, now that I'm there, I feel like barely any time has passed at all. It is such a slow, lonely journey Isla. I don't know if you can even imagine how much you've impacted our lives in the short time we were blessed with you. My god, you've made such an impact. I struggle to muster up the words to even describe it, but is has been profound. I try, constantly, to find ways to have your life affect me in a positive way, in the choices I make every day, the decisions I must make in my life. I want to live in honour of you, live a life you did not have a chance to, but it is oh so hard, my baby girl. I strive to do the right thing, be kind and nonjudgmental of others who don't recognize the gifts they've been given. I try to sympathize with others who life lives full of loss and hardship. I try to be compassionate and forgiving. But often, I fail. I can only maintain that perspective for so long, before I am overcome with the loss of you. It is not fair that I had to lose you. You were a brand new life, so full of potential, so ready for the world. We were so ready to watch you grow, breathe in new life and face the new world head on. We were so proud of you, before you were even born. We knew you'd go on to do grand things. How is it fair that you were robbed of all of that because of a fucking stupid accident with your own body parts? How can this even happen? I cannot believe this happened. It is still so hard to accept. When I see women with baby girls, I think to myself 'they get to go on and live with their little girls, but I don't. I don't now, and I won't ever get to hold my baby girl again.' My god, how unfathomable it is that you are gone forever. We knew you so briefly. If there is one positive thing that I can glean from your death, it is that I no longer fear my own. If by some miracle, there is an afterlife, and I get to see you, and hold you again, then I fear nothing in my own death. What I fear is the misery I will endure until that time. Though I am absolutely blessed with a family whom I love, and who loves me, such a huge part of it is missing, I feel your absence all. the. time. I miss you so much sweet girl. Please know how much daddy and I love you, how much we miss you, and how we'd give anything to have just a few more moments with you. How my heart aches for you Isla. xoxoxo mommy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Life has been fairly acceptable this week. I hesitate to say 'good' because that might give the illusion that they are. It's not 'good', but this past week, I have been able to function like a pretty normal person. This comes with a mixed reaction from me. On one hand, I am grateful for the reprieve from the crushing grief that paralyzed me weeks ago. I am glad I can enjoy some of the Christmas season through the eyes of my son, and appreciate his wonder and enthusiasm for life. I am cautious in this acknowledgment, however, because it kind of scares me. I don't know if I should be feeling this okay... this "good"... I am told by other grieving parents, and by my wise husband, to take what comes, unquestioningly. Accept that the hard days will not be forever, and embrace the good ones for what they are: good days. They are something to be grateful for, to be sure.

I am just one of those people who are constantly second guessing themselves. I don't trust myself enough, I don't believe in the legitimacy of my emotions. Somehow, when it's bad, I panic and seek respite from the pain, and when it's good, I worry that I'm not grieving properly, in that I'm able to feel good, and all of this will come back to haunt me, because I'm not doing it right. Yes, it's lots of fun inside my head.

As my grief journey is progressing, and some of the black, deep, despair is (thankfully) softening, I am finding I do have some control over the acceptance, and expression of my mourning. This is good and bad. When Isla first died, I was shattered, unable to function at all, unable to do anything but immerse myself in her death, and try not to drown. Now that I've found some footing in this experience, and am incorporating this loss into my life, I am more able to choose when I wade into the sadness. The problem is, a lot of the time, I am just choosing not to at all. I know it's the wrong thing to do, I am fully aware of when I choose to deny an impending grief outburst, or stifle tears in an inappropriate (and sometimes, appropriate) situation. It's not good that I am doing this. This is not honouring my daughter, this is not working through the grief, it's working around it. This is the bad way. Many books will say there is no 'wrong' way to grieve, but I believe there is. Yet, I feel such a sense of relief in my ability to exercise some control over my emotions. It's empowering, and gives me some strength, some hope, and it's hard to deny it. I relish this newfound control. Perhaps it is okay... I don't really know. I assume that because I am human, and doubtlessly loved my daughter, that the grief hasn't disappeared at all, rather, it is ebbing, as grief is apparently wont to do. My emotions swing broadly to and from the extreme ends of the spectrum, and I can't assume that because I am currently in a place of tranquility and hope, that I won't swing back to despair eventually. Not that I am inviting such a self-fulfilling prophecy, but just that maybe I can take today for what it is, and try not to ask too much of myself, or question my own experience too much. It is, after all, my own unique experience, and sometimes I forget that that doesn't make it right or wrong, it is just mine. It is sacred and unique, to me.

A wise friend of mine, who also tragically lost her infant daughter, told me that it's not forgetting, it's not stopping grieving, it's 'moving along in my grace'. I don't know exactly what she meant, but it sounds good to me. I think it means something along the lines of me being human, suffering an insufferable loss, finding a glimmer of hope in the dread. Embracing it, and letting it embrace me, for I need this, and I deserve it.
And so come the tears.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

So, I had a root canal done yesterday. I've been dreading it for weeks, though it really needed to be done. Once I got there, I realized instantly how long I've been out of the 'real' world. People rushing around, appointments, phones ringing, hustle and bustle. I think this was part of what I was dreading, the demands placed upon me to be in a certain place, at a certain time... Yet, once I got used to so much frenzy (and yes, it was actually quite frenzied, even at the dentist's!) , I actually kind of enjoyed it a bit. There was a sense of order and purpose to it all. Something I haven't felt in quite a while. A refreshing change from my typical anomic existence, as of late. It was strangely comforting, and reassuring. I am still technically on 'mat leave', so I have lots of spare time, and not much to fill it with. I don't think I want to reenter the world of professionally employed, just yet, because there is still the issue of Evan and child care, but I think once we move, I may look into some kind of part-time volunteer work. Who knows what, but probably not something with kids, which is a bit scary, because it's all I've ever done, in one capacity or another.
Last week was really tough. I don't know what, if anything, sparked it, but it was a few days there where I felt very low. It's the kind of day that I know is going to suck as soon as I wake up. Before I even get out of bed. There's a real "who cares" feeling to everything, and an inability to give a shit about anything, let alone pretend for the sake of others. I know that makes it hard on Tim, that some days I can't be a good wife, and hold up my end of the household, marriage and all that, but at those times, I just don't care. Those are the days I can't really get motivated to do anything; eat, shower, play with Evan, go out... I'm reduced to my bed or the couch, with a book for quite a few hours. I find it quite debilitating, and realize that I'm being completely unfair to Tim and Evan, but at the time, I just don't feel well enough to care.

The last couple of days have been better. Had a birthday celebration with friends last night, at a big sports bar. About 2 hours in, I started to fizzle. I was mentally burnt out from all the happiness around me. There were several staff Christmas parties going on, so lots of laughing, hugging, wishing each other Merry Christmas. It was fine at first, but after a couple of hours, I'd just had enough. I wanted to shout out to them that they had no right to be this happy. That they didn't realize how much pain I was in, or how their happiness made me feel so alienated. We left, and in the car, Tim kind of deflated right away. I think the night was about an hour too long for both of us, in spite of having fun with our friends. It's still hard to see others having so much carefree fun. I know that I don't know what's going on in their lives, or what the future may hold for them, but I know this: I am not happy and they are, and it's not fair. It's a constant reminder that they have something I don't; the blissful naivete that everything is great, life is wonderful, and tragedy is something that happens to other people. I was one of them, who didn't realize that all around me might be people hurting and trying their hardest to get through a night full of happy people while they quietly suffered alone. I'd go back to it again in a selfish heartbeat, and give up every ounce of 'being a better person' and all that bullshit. It is an incredibly lonely place to be when you're aching for something so badly, and everyone around you is laughing, enjoying themselves fully, not a thought in the world about all the things that could go wrong. I even managed to worry about Evan, though he was in quite capable hands. I often worry that he's going to suffer a major allergic reaction, and no one will know how to use the epipen, or he will get some incurable childhood cancer, and I won't be able to do a damn thing about it. While out with the women from my infant loss group today, every one of them called home on their cell phones to see how their other kids were, though we were only gone a few hours. They confessed that they too often worry about their surviving children, and think something equally tragic will befall them. What a damn rip-off that is. Jesus, we've already lost one child, and now we uncontrollably worry about the ones we have left. It's not fair, and I hate that I think about this all the time, while other moms are thinking about decorating their homes for the holidays, shopping etc etc... I am a prisoner to my thoughts , and right now, there's not much I can do about it.
I found out a good friend of mine is expecting her 3rd child. I knew this was coming, and wasn't sure how I'd react. It was much harder than I expected it would be. When I found out, my whole head went fuzzy. Like that feeling of being on Tylenol 3s... kind of foggy headed, "this isn't really happening" sort of thing. I felt immobilized and numb for a few seconds, before I could muster up some words. I told her that if I cried, it was okay. And I did cry, briefly. I'm happy for her family, absolutely, but it's such a tangible reminder of another person who gets to have her baby, while I don't. We should be sharing in the excitement of her new pregnancy together, while enjoying my newborn...instead, I am grieving my baby's death, and imagining how wonderful it will be for her when her new baby comes. It all just makes me feel empty, useless and ripped off. As glad as I am for their family, I am just so sad it's not me, with my new baby. I am sad for our friendship too, because I think it will suffer as she goes on in her pregnancy, and nears her due date. Though we won't live here anymore, I still hope to be close, and I am afraid I won't be able to be a present, helpful friend at the times she'll need me the most. In fact, she may not even want me around...maybe it makes her uncomfortable to be pregnant around me. It probably would make me feel that way. Maybe she's secretly relieved I'm moving, so she won't have to worry about the awkwardness of our friendship growing as she does. I don't know, it's still so new, and I have no firm grip on any certainties. Except that I feel like I'm rambling here, and not sounding very coherent, which is always a sign that it's time to stop writing.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Well, it's been a while since I wrote. We went to BC to see the new house. Tim hadn't seen it yet, and we took Evan. It was a mixed bag. We didn't plan very well, and ended up having to buy a few necessities to get us through the week. We stayed at the house, which has a few guests, it appears. Bugs. Whatever, apparently they're normal. Evan was as good as a bored 3 year old could be, really. And even then, we found our patience wearing thin and yelling too much. He spent some time with Colby and Tyler, but we neglected to arrange anything concrete. And here Tracy was planning to make Evan a birthday cake etc... And now this week is Evan's actual birthday, and I've fucked it all up again. A good friend of ours was waiting to hear from me about the birthday plans, and since I didn't get back to her, now we're having a mediocre party at the mall, not at all what I really wanted, but it's my fault anyway, so whatever. I hate how this is all going. I feel like people are trying so hard to do what I want, and accommodate me through this, but really, I wish people would just tell me what to do. Make the decisions for me. I can hardly decide what to make for dinner anymore, let alone plan a birthday party. It's an excuse for being a lazy correspondent, I know, but I really feel unequipped to deal with the responsibilities and obligations of being a good friend right now. I feel torn between trying to be the good friend and make plans for outings etc, and just saying fuck it all, and dropping out of everyone's lives, because at least then I can't let anyone down anymore. I think I'll just do what I usually do. Suck it up, let them be angry and disappointed in me, and move on. Tim wanted to talk vehicles last night, about his, specifically. The original plan was for us to get a small SUV for me and Evan, and a battered old pickup truck for him, as we'd be taking trips to the dump, bringing home home reno stuff, etc... and now he's thinking an old SUV would be better for him too, and what do I think about that? And he throws all these questions at me, and I just couldn't do it. They may seem like just 'ideas' to him, but to me, these are huge discussions, that rattle the already tenuous foundations of my existence, and I can't handle much change right now. I could feel the inside of my head bubbling over with ever question, until I was almost mute... I literally could not answer another question, and lost it. I had to explain how being inundated with all the questions affected me, and how unstable it made me feel, and how I am wracked with indecisiveness right now, and can't even handle being asked what colour car to get, nevermind what kind of car, truck or SUV. Fuck, I feel like everyone expects things to be back to normal now. Don't get me wrong, everyone has been really supportive, and wonderful, for the first 8 weeks or so, but now I find people feeling impatient and frustrated with me. I think it must be like this for them: I had a loss. A wicked, horrible, unfathomable loss. They grieved with me, it was torture for many of them too. After a few weeks, life carried on for them. As it does for me too, I mean, time doesn't stop for me either. But how I deal with life now is different than those who got to go back to their normal, relatively unchanged lives. My everyday existence is different than it was before, and it won't ever be what it was, no matter what. So as much as people want me to be who I was before (which, truth be told, wasn't great either, I've never been a great friend, really) I can't. I am not that person. Though it may puzzle and even frustrate people that I can't even get through a seemingly unrelated activity without somehow coming apart at the seams, I can't help it. And if I repress my need to somehow escape, to save the others the awkwardness and inconvenience of my grief outburst, then I fall into a black hole, and am moody and withdrawn for the rest of the activity. So what do I do? I don't want to be the killjoy, the one who dampens the mood or whatever, even for myself, I get angry at myself for falling into it over and over again, when all I even want is just to have some uninterrupted fun with my family and friends. I just can't. I can't do it, because it's a part of me. Isla's life and death is woven through my whole self. It will be a part of every single thing I think, say and do for the rest of my life. It'll affect my choices, my ability to cope with future crises, my willingness to take risks, and accept challenges. I think after an appropriate grieving time, most of my friends and family went back to their lives, but didn't realize how I can't do that. One blogger whom I completely respect and am in awe of, despite our religious differences, described it beautifully. She said she feels like she's sitting on the bottom of the ocean. Her grief is the deepest and darkest of all, and no one is there with her. There are friends and family on the surface of the ocean, looking down at her, maybe dipping a toe or a finger in. They cannot share in her experience, it's so different at the bottom. And she cannot share in theirs. They are above her, in a different place, with different realities and experiences in the world. They don't see the world from the same vantage point, and therefore, she can't live the same way as they do, or the same way she used to. That's how I feel too. Everyone's back to normal, and want me back to normal, but this IS my new normal, and it sucks for me too. Bigtime.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Well, it's been 8 weeks, plus a day. Today was an okay, no, pretty okay day. I hesitate to say 'good' because that would be misleading, in that people might actually assume I'm better. Anyway, I think today made up for Friday, which blew. It was my first night alone since I had Isla. Tim was on evenings, Evan went to bed around 8 and I had 4 hours of uninterrupted wallowing time. And wallow I did. Deeply. Grief is an interesting emotion, I'm discovering. It's always there with you, like a body part almost, yet in different strengths. In fact, I think I'll liken it to a toothache, since I have one of those too. Lucky me. So my grief, like my toothache, is omnipresent. It's constantly there, in my awareness, just existing. Sometimes, I feel a sense of pressure, not exactly pain, just an awareness that something feels different around that tooth, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Sometimes, I'll avoid chewing on that side altogether, to avoid any chance of a flare up. Sometimes, I tease it a little. I'll send a small bit of food over to that side and test the waters... does the tooth hurt when I push food into it? Does it feel okay? I feel like I do this with my grief a bit too. Sometimes I totally ignore it. I don't want to even entertain the possibility of a meltdown because I'm in public, or because I don't want to be a killjoy or because I'm just so god damned tired of crying. Sometimes, I deliberately bring it on... I'll listen to sad songs and look through her pictures and have it out. The toothache, when it hurts, HURTS. Sometimes all I can do to get through the pain is pop a few ibuprofens, close my eyes and rock until the pain subsides. It's white searing pain, and every time it flares up, I curse that I waited so long to book the root canal I can't get in for until December 7th. Grieving is like that for me too. Sometimes, the ache of missing Isla is so intense, so physically palpable, all I can do is hold her blanket, or myself, and just rock while I sob. And I do sob. Sometimes so loudly and fiercely that my fillings vibrate. That's never happened before, and sometimes, the power with which it comes out of me scares me a bit. What am I capable of? How is this stuff inside me? How can I manage to have a somewhat normal day and then collapse into a heap in the evening? It's bizarre to me.

The other thing about grief I've been thinking about is how it reminds me of a wave. Like I'm in the ocean, and far out I see a big wave coming in. I see that it's building in strength and intensity, and I speed up to get to shore before it reaches me. In reality, I could escape a water wave, and get safely on the shore and continue merrily on my way. But I can't escape this. There is no safe shore to run towards. The wave just keeps building, and I keep running, faster and checking over my back to see if it's still there. By running from it, and refusing to allow it to wash over me, it somehow seems stronger and more powerful, and might consume me. But, inevitably, since I know I cannot outrun this wave, I acquiesce. I turn into it, face it full on and let it crash down on me. This is my grief. No matter how much I try not to think about Isla, keep her door closed, read books on trying again, try to run from the suffocating grief or whatever, it does not work, and this wave smothers me. So I let it, eventually. What choice do I have? And yet, once I am soaked in it, once I've screamed, sobbed, wailed and somehow squeezed every bit of emotion out of me, the wave ebbs. It's power is gone, it skulks back out to sea, until the next time. I am left battered and wrung out, physically exhausted and spent. Yet, in some odd way, it's kind of empowering. I'm no longer running from this wave; it's relented, for now. I've beat it once again, and come out alive.

I think the anticipation of a heavy grieving experience is worse than the actual experience itself. The dread of coming face to face with the anguish and despair is awful, but somehow, during my sobs, looking at her pictures, listening to sad songs, it isn't as bad as anticipating it. Somehow, this is my way of 'being with Isla' if that makes any sense. It's an intimate time, between her and me, and I actually kind of treasure it. That must sound so odd in light of what I wrote Friday, but whatever, I'm not above contradicting myself, if that's what it seems I'm doing here. In some weird way, these times where I grieve Isla so intensely, while they hurt like nothing I've ever experienced, connect me to her in a very intimate, maternal way. It feels worse to spend the day dreading the impending blowout than actually enduring the blowout itself. I probably won't feel that way next time I have one, or hell, even 5 minutes from now, but if I have to live with this grief the rest of my life, which I do, then I have to find some way to reconcile it into my every day existence. William Faulkner once said "given a choice between grief and nothing, I'd choose grief." I thought this was preposterous the first time I heard it, but I think I understand: While not a pleasant emotion, grief is a connection to something, a feeling that represents a certain depth of love, in pain. So for me, if the choice is to be connected to my daughter in pain, or not be connected to her at all, I choose pain. As awful as it is, I will take it. Sweet dreams baby girl, mommy's missing you tonight.

Friday, November 9, 2007

So, I'm sitting here watching Scrubs. They're performing cpr on a man and I am a mess. All I hear is the hospital staff counting as they did cpr on Isla. It's been a weird day. I had coffee with a friend this morning, it went okay. I think people are desperate to see some sign that things are better. I see it in people's faces when I laugh or make a joke or something. It's like their faces light up at the thought that I'm not in pain anymore. I feel kind of abandoned when I see their faces. Like they don't actually want to share in my grief anymore, they're ready to move on and be happy again. I feel alone, more than I did right after it happened. I almost feel guilty if I want to talk about it, or if I turn the conversation to Isla, I think I see (not sure, but I think I do) a look wash over their face like "oh here we go again..." and I feel really self conscious about it, and so alone. All I want to do is go into her room and smell her things and squeeze the shit out of her sleeper or blanket, to somehow absorb her into me, to hold her so near me that I don't feel the pain so hard. I just want her back and I am so miserable without her here. The things I do to console myself, or get by each day seem so hollow when I'm feeling low. Baking cookies with Evan is such a joke because he's into everything and I get so frustrated I distract him with some other activity, and end up finishing it myself, and what's the point in that? God I am so tired of the sadness, the missing her, the physical lack of my baby with me. I am so, so heartbroken. I am sobbing as I write this and I cannot believe the depth of the pain I'm feeling. I say I don't want the hurt to go away entirely because it'll mean she never made an impact, which I suppose is true to some extent, but this misery is nearly unbearable to me. I have less desire to be here than not. I know that's an incredibly selfish thing to say and probably seems even moreso to those who've not lost a child, but it is what it is. I am broken all the way through, and though I thought the hope of others who've walked before me was helping, I don't know that it is, and I feel hopeless still. All I want, ALL I WANT is my baby girl. God how unfair this all is. How can she not be here? Her tiny soft smooth little body, her brand new hair and fingers, not to ever feel me, or her dad? Never to hear eachother's voices? Not to ever nurse? Not to ever go to kindergarten or graduate from high school? To never get married, or bear children of her own? It's all too much for me, I feel so unable to deal with the magnitude of it all. Sometimes I can push it away for a while, and feel like I'm doing well. Doing well isn't really that at all. It's just pushing it away until I can't anymore. I am alone tonight, and I think that's why it's so damn hard now. There are no distractions. I had Evan up until 8. He stressed me out so badly I YELLED at him, full bore, and didn't even try to stop myself, though I knew I was acting horribly to him. He covered his ears, and I didn't care, I yelled on. I am a horrible wicked parent to him, and I don't deserve him at all. Now that he's gone to bed, which I needed so badly, I'm at a loss of what to do. I feel antsy and scared to be alone with my thoughts. I want to go sit in Isla's room and hold her, and hear her breathing and see her smile. She'd have been 8 weeks tomorrow. 2 months. God please let tomorrow be better. I am so very unhappy. I want desperately to feel genuine happiness, I know I'm not being very patient, and Isla deserves all these tears, and of course, I grieve for her with all of my soul but I am not strong enough to endure this pain for much longer. I am so tired. So tired, the things that mattered enough to keep me going this long are starting to not matter, and all I want is my baby girl. God Isla, I miss you so much.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


I've learned that places of grief and mourning are never ones you really want to be welcomed into, but I do anyway. Because you may be a bereaved parent yourself, or maybe you know one, and my hope is that maybe you will find the comfort that I have in blogs like mine: that knowing you are not alone on this heartbreaking journey makes the burden of it less powerful, less consuming. If you are a bereaved parent, my heart goes out to you. I wish you peace and eventually, some ease of your pain. Welcome.

The name of my blog, Mi Isla Sola, is Spanish for My Lonely Island. A few other translations came up for that as well, but this one suited my headspace the most. I feel like I am on an island in a way. Alone. There's the rest of the world on the mainland, and they're looking toward something. From my island, I am looking toward the same thing, but we see it very differently from our separate vantage points. Though I am near the people on the mainland, and can hear them, see them, and them me, I am not "with" them. I am removed in an almost physical sense, from the rest of the world. I can participate in the mundane every day realities of life, but I don't really 'feel' part of it all. I don't know how I feel about it really. On one hand, I appreciate this new way of looking at the world, like I have bullshit glasses now; in that I can spot all the bullshit in the world, quickly, and not bother myself with it. I've gained a sense of what's important to me in life, and it's not stuff and things of material worth, but love of family and friends, and precious times with them. But it's a lonely place, feeling isolated from the rest of the world; a place in which everyone seems to have some place to go, some people to see, something funny to laugh at and enjoy. I get angry that I don't have the
naïveté I once did, with nothing but the weather to complain about, nothing but a few bills to worry about. It's all so trivial now, and I find that I compare everything in life to the loss of Isla. It's not very productive, or conducive to healing, I'm sure, yet I do it anyway. For example, when someone I know recently complained about her broken arm, and the hassle it presented to her, I was enraged that she could be so shallow and unappreciative of her life. How dare she complain about such a minor inconvenience. I'm trying not to compare everything to my loss, because really, if I do that, I will win every time. There is truly nothing worse than enduring the death of your child, I'm convinced. Yet I must realize that everyone's experience is their own, with value and worth in themselves. I, like many others in the world are coping with a bum deal, and I should embrace, not reproach them for their experiences. I want to become a better person, not a bitter one. Eventually.

I started journaling a couple of weeks ago, and I'm going to copy and paste those entries here, retroactively, so the dates will be wei
rd for a bit.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Today was so hard. This was the last day Tim will be taking Evan to playschool, as he goes back to work next week. I went with him so I could ease back into the whole thing. As soon as I saw the teachers, I started to cry. They both hugged me. It's so hard to see people for the first time, who last saw me pregnant. I don't know why this is, but somehow I know they know what happened, they feel awful for me, and I just lose it. So that was hard. I worked at the daycare right across the hall as well, and dodged a few staff walking back and forth. That was really hard. I don't want to talk to them, I don't want to have to put on a smile, feel their pity, I don't know how to explain it. Anyway, After that, I had coffee with a friend, a mom from the playschool, also whom I hadn't seen since summer. She cried with me, I brought pictures of Isla, she let me talk, vent, and show her Isla's album. It was emotionally draining, but didn't feel bad to do. It's nice to talk about her. She's always on my mind anyway, may as well say some of it out loud. After that, we had some errands to run, and at the dollar store, there was a woman in the parking lot who I knew from playschool and I dared not make eye contact, though I'm sure she saw me. Probably wondered where the baby was, but I walked quickly away, into the dollar store... where another playschool family was shopping. Oh the joys of a small town. I hid in the back section until they left, or I thought they had. I managed to slip past the mum, who I'd seen shortly before going into the hospital. I know it must sound so odd to be freaked out about seeing people. I mean, the "worst" that could happen, is they'll say "I'm so sorry".. no biggie.. it's the whole ordeal, really. The "Oh! You must have had your baby..." And I have to say "Yes.. [awkward silence] ...and she died"... And then I have to deal with the reaction, and almost console them. It's just an interaction I'd rather avoid, indefinitely.

Tonight, Evan and I were in the bath. We brought the Potato Heads in to switch it up from dinosaurs. We realized the small potato heads fit perfectly into the storage back ends of the big potato heads, and so we started talking about having babies, and pretended the little potato heads were being 'born'... Evan said "Now, this potato head is going to have a new child, a new baby will be born..." and then he said "and it's not going to be a dead one, it's not going to be a dead child"... I reeled inside. Not in a sad way, really, just more of a "holy shit, I can't believe he said that" kind of way. I mean, I'm glad he feels he can talk about it, because I don't want Isla to be a taboo topic for him, which he initially thought it was, I think. He asked where she was once, early on, and immediately put his hands over his ears, which he does when he feels scared/threatened/in big trouble... I realized then that we had to talk, and get her 'out in the open'... so, I'm glad he felt comfortable enough to bring it up, and I guess I'm glad he realizes that most babies aren't born dead, or die, and that babies can be born healthy. He wanted to name the baby potato Thomas, which was our boys name, and when later, a girl was born, I asked him if her name should be Isla, and he said "no, we already have an Isla". I agreed, and we moved on. I'm glad he recognizes too, that we "have" an Isla. Even just in spirit, he recognizes her as a part of our family, and that makes me happy. She is, and always will be his baby sister, and he will know all that we can share with him about her as he grows up. Evan would have been an amazing big brother to Isla. I picture the two of them all the time, in the car, in the bath, at the dinner table etc etc... I think it's part of the grieving process, that I fantasize these scenarios, and they're not always horribly sad. Sometimes, I imagine Evan complaining about Isla taking his toys, chewing on things or whatever, and I hear him in my mind, and I laugh at the thought. It gives me hope that one day, Evan will have a baby brother or sister to complain to us about. Hope is a hard thing to come by these days, but I know it's out there somewhere.

I love you my baby girl, miss you and wish you were here every single second.



Monday, October 29, 2007

I wrote to a friend tonight, and in it I tried to explain how I was feeling. I'm copying it here because it sums it up pretty vividly for me.

My world is kind of a ball of confusion right now, with very little feeling certain or guaranteed. Basically, I'm killing time. I wake up dreading a whole day to fill with meaningless crap until bedtime. I remember getting excited as a child on Christmas Eve, when it started to get dark, because it meant Santa was coming soon. I hate that now I feel excited (for lack of a better word) for dusk because it means I've licked another day.

I'm so terrified somthing is going to happen to Evan now. Now that I know how cruel life can be, and I only have one child, I am certain something awful is coming for him. I don't know if it'll be in the form of an accident, or an incurable disease, but somehow, I can't shake the feeling that I'm not meant to have him for his whole life. I feel awful, like some whackjob bereaved mother writing that, but it's true. I feel like I can't hold on to him tightly enough, can't rub his cheek enough, hug him enough, kiss him enough, tell him enough times how much I love him. I feel scared I'm going to lose him, and it sickens me, and sends waves of panic through me often.

I really wish I could be anyone but me right now. :(

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Ah baby girl I am missing you tonight. What a hard day, all the baby girls at Old Navy... about as old as you would have been. The adorable little clothes you should be wearing... Some days it seems to be bearable, and I can take in a full breath, fully fill my body with air, And others, there is such a weight on my chest, I feel suffocated by it. I cannot fill my lungs, the emptiness inside me is unfathomable. I am starting to feel angry about what happened to you. Angry at Barb, angry at the doctors, angry at myself, my family and just anyone around, really. I feel so cheated out of being your mom. You were so cheated out of living a full life... becoming this amazing person I know you would have. I've just had another birthday, my 34th. I have lived 34 years, you lived half a day. It is so unfair. So unbelievably unfair. I feel sick when I think about how it should have been me that died, not you. I would put myself in your shoes in a heartbeat. God how I miss you. Everything feels so unnatural without you here... How can a mother go through life living a life of 'should haves' instead of doing them? How can I get up and go on with my life every day when my beautiful daughter has died after 12 hours of life? I can hardly imagine how the rest of my life will play out. I miss you so much my baby girl, god I hope you are out there somewhere and that someday I will have the chance to hold you again. Know how loved you are sweetheart. The other day your big brother Evan told me "Mom, I think you're special" and I smiled and said I thought he was pretty special himself. Then I asked him what he thought 'special' meant. He said "special means the best!" And certainly, he is pretty special himself. You, my darling angel are special too. You are my best girl, and no matter what always will be.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It has been 39 days since I gave birth to you, my daughter, Isla Noelle. This is the first time I've written about the experience. You were supposed to be a vbac homebirth, an amazing experience for our whole family. We had a pool, candles, food, everything planned. All we had left to do was clean, I kept waiting for the nesting to kick in. On Friday, September 14, I noticed at bedtime that you hadn't been moving around much. Come to think of it, I couldn't remember the last time I'd had a really strong kick. We'd been at Ikea all day, with Evan and friends, and not really been paying attention to your movements at all. Around 11pm, I drank 2 strong, sugary iced teas and waited...I got one kick, which gave me enough reassurance to go to bed. The next morning, I had another sweet drink, and still nothing. Tim got up and we left for the midwife's. She said flat out that she was worried. Well, shit, me too. She found your heartbeat quickly, in the 150s, and we all let out a huge sigh of relief. I was nervous at how nervous she was. We called the hospital nearby, and they recommended coming in for a non-stress test. We got there, the midwife came, and the NST revealed a similar heartrate, though without any variation, which concerned the staff. They put an empty pop can on my abdomen, and flicked the tab a few times. I guess this sends waves through the fluid and usually, babies react, heartrates fluctuate and babies move around. None of these things happened. The OBGYN on that day checked my cervix for dilation and the possibility of an induction, as I'd wanted a vbac. I was not at all dilated, and you were still posterior. No chance. And they wanted you out. I was prepped for a csection. Though it was technically an 'emergency', it wasn't, in that I was given time to call family, tell them what was going on, go to the washroom. No one rushed, they worked around my needs, it was leisurely and comfortable. There was no urgency, really, no sense of doom. I requested to wait on cutting the cord until it stopped pulsating, not have my arms strapped down, so I could hold you, and to delay eye ointment so we could see eachother right after you were born. After they cut me open, everything changed. No one really spoke, or said anything except "it's a girl". I distinctly remember not hearing any crying. I remember the anesthetist next to me looking more and more concerned, and eventually leaving, to go help with the doctors and nurses on the crash cart. Then I heard resuscitations and I remember asking 'is my baby going to die'? The anesthetist said "she's very sick"... and I put my fingers in my ears and closed my eyes. The next parts are such a blur, and honestly, I don't care if I remember them or not,so I'm not going to detail them. They told us they were going to take you to a cooling unit thing at the Stollery, a place that could possibly help with possible brain damage. Then the neonatologist came back and basically told us there was no hope, no brain activity, and we should think about discontinuing life support. What a fog it all is. What a whirlwind. I was wheeled into the NICU in my bed, and held you. You had tubes coming out your mouth, and I can't believe how calm I was about it all. We knew you were going to die, and yet, I was able to talk, smile and make decisions. I realize now I was in a complete state of shock. In no way could I comprehend that my newborn daughter was going to die. My body was protecting me, because I'm sure, could I have really understood the magnitude of it all, I'd have killed myself. The next few hours I floated in and out of awareness, I was so drugged up, so exhausted and so stunned. Marcia, the hospital's chaplain, came in and did a blessing for you, and I don't remember a word of it, I'm sad to say. I held you close. I took off your sleeper, pulled down my gown, and just held you against me, skin to skin. God you were perfect Isla. Your tiny shoulders, still with lanugo on them, so soft. Your perfect, tiny ears, your hair, so soft and so dark! Your amazing little hands. How tiny they looked next to Papa's as he held you. We kept you with us all night, passing you back and forth between Daddy, Auntie Sandi and me. When we knew your time was getting close, we came together, and thought deeply of you, loved you, cried for you. It was so very hard to say goodbye to you Isla, so incredibly hard. I don't even know how I did it. I think I should be grateful for the drugs, really. Somehow they kept me from dying from the unimaginable pain and agony that I was going through. I can hardly write about it yet. I hope one day I can write about it, with a smile for you, instead of just this wicked horrible grief that is currently my entire existence.