Saturday, May 30, 2009

9 Months


Today is 9 months since my baby boy was born.

9 months since I held him in my arms and sobbed and wailed.

I still remember his slight weight in my arms.

I remember his fuzzy black hair, and his miniature version of his daddy's nose.

I remember his tiny feet and hands, and his subtle grin.

I remember...


++


And yet the world keeps turning...the good, the bad.

So many challenges thrown our way these last 9 months...

First one parent's illness, and now another.

Unemployment.

Losing so many of our friends and family relationships.


I try to focus on the positive...

Our deepened love for each other.

The friends and family who have held us in love on this journey.

Our heightened compassion and connection to the world.


And somehow I still have hope.

Most days I don't even know why.

Hope that we will survive this.

Hope that times will be better.

Hope that we will one day be parents to a living child.


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I'm struck lately by the intensity of the ebbs and flows of life.

How frequently bad things happen to good people,

How often good things happen to bad people,

And everything in between.


As the lovely and amazing Gal wrote on Mother's Day:


In the past week,

I learned that Ann was living her final days.

I learned that she died.

I learned that someone very special to me is pregnant.

I learned that a good friend has lymphoma.

I learned that another good friend is engaged to be married.


I am starting to understand that this is how it is

And always will be...

They exist together, the dark and the light,

The sorrows and the blessings,

The arrivals and the departures.


And as usual, my wise friend Gal is right.

Because these last 9 months,

I have become singularly aware of these contrasts

The immense joy of my pregnancy, followed by the crushing grief of losing my son.

The love of family, coupled with the immense fear of our parents' illnesses.

The way I'm able to laugh, even when the tears are just beneath the surface.

So many healthy babies born alive to family and friends since Ezra died.

And yet each new babylost mama who contacts me breaks my heart all over again.

My dad has recovered well.

My sister-in-law's mother died.

David's dad is in the hospital recovering from a broken hip.

There will always be dark,

There will always be light,

It is all part of the universe.


A few weeks ago, a Hebrew song that was part of my childhood popped into my head.

I have not been able to stop singing it since.

It was written by Hannah Senesh, a Jewish resistance fighter during World War II.

And it just sums up so much.


Oh God, my God

I pray that these things never end.

The sand and the sea.

The rush of the waters.

The crash of the heavens.

The prayers of the heart.


Here's a link so you can hear it sung in Hebrew:


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Small Talk

Sometimes its exhausting being walking gloom.

This week I was away at a professional conference, a first since Ezra died. As it approached I became apprehensive about being away from home, even if it was just for 2 nights and 3 days; I've become so reliant on having the safe space of my house and the comfort of my husband to retreat to after a long day. Although it was exhausting, the conference was exciting and so I muddled through.

What I hadn't thought to anticipate is how frequently I'd be asked 'do you have children?' by various colleagues I met at the conference. Up until I was pregnant with Ezra, I'd always answer that question with a hopeful, 'not yet'. Then while pregnant it was 'just this one on the way'.

The reality is that I am the worst liar in the world. The only way I know how to answer that question now is 'yes but he died'. And if they press for more, simply 'he was stillborn' or 'he died just before he was born'. Usually that ends that line of conversation. In fact it sometimes ends the conversation entirely.

Most people don't know what to do with that information. Some are appropriate, at least spitting out 'I'm sorry' or 'I can't imagine'. But once spoken, the fact of his life and death hangs between us, no one quite knows what to say next. I hate being the one to drag a rainy black cloud over everybody. But I can't deny my son's existence.

One particular group of 3 women from the same office were all wearing the same kind of necklace, with their children's names engraved on round silver disks on chains around their necks. One said, 'ooh you have the same necklace as us. How old is your child?' I said, 'he was stillborn in August' and their faces dropped like dominos...1, 2, 3. They all said they were sorry. They all said they had a friend who had also had a stillbirth. They changed the topic.

The interaction reminded me of junior high. Eager to fit in with whatever was the latest fad, it was like having the popular girls say 'ooh you have doc martens like us' and having to admit they weren't the real thing. Still on the outside looking in, just like junior high.

Sometimes its tiring being a mama only in my head and in my heart. I wish the rest of the world could see it too.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Like an Ostrich...

Denial. As Mother's Day approached, the denial grew deeper and deeper. I buried my head in the sand and willed Hallmark to take it back, to not make it come this year. I anticipated it being hard, but unlike all the other hard days I've anticipated...the monthly anniversaries, his due date, my birthday...I had no vision of how it would be or even what I wanted it to be. Sadly, Hallmark ignored my silent pleas.

And then it arrived. It was only the night before that I began to have any sense of what I wanted. I wanted to be pampered and acknowledged like any other mom. And I wanted to hold my son close. Just like any other mom.

The day was an emotional roller coaster, with beautiful happy moments and steep plunges into the darkest places my mind goes these days. All day the sun was shockingly bright. It made me feel raw and exposed.

The day began with an extraordinarily delicious breakfast in bed thanks to my loving husband...an omelet with fresh ricotta, herbs and vegetables. I lolled in bed, read blogs. Smiled with delight at the couple emails from friends who remembered it was my day too. Most did not.

Then to the cemetery. We haven't been since the fall, its been so cold. Plus I don't think of Ezra being there, his spirit is with me always. But recently Ezra has begun to feel so far away. I needed to go, to seek him out. I wasn't prepared for the death carnival atmosphere. The cemetery staff out in full force, offering free flowers, saccharine offers to find a "location".

I sat by his grave and talked to my boy. And I was so overcome with the deep sense that I failed him. I pleaded with Ezra to forgive me for having failed to protect him. For not helping to see this day, this ridiculously gorgeous day. I felt the sun on my face and prayed to the Source of Life. I begged my boy to trust me enough to bring another life into the world. The tears poured down my face.

I don't talk easily about the shame of losing Ezra. The deep feelings of failure that have eaten away at me since he left. I know they aren't rational. On some level, I know that there's nothing I could have done. And yet.... I thought I had conquered the shame. In fact I had stuffed it so deeply inside that until recently, even I didn't recognize it was still there.

Puttering around my garden in the afternoon, I was exhausted, worn out from the morning's emotional meltdown. In the end, I took a nap, much needed to steel myself for the evening's "celebration" with my own mom.

: :

As the lovely and amazing Angie has written, no one in deadbabyland talks about their new relationship with their parents after losing their baby. My relationship with my mom is like the third rail, on this blog, but also in life. Everyone has a complicated mother-daughter relationship, I know I'm not alone in that. My own mother-daughter relationship almost ended entirely over my choice of a life partner. We got past this. It was not pretty. And having teetered on the edge of that cliff once before, I have no interest getting near that edge again. I don't have the energy for round 2.

Which means I'm angry. Furious. I'm furious my mom doesn't talk about Ezra as her grandson, that she doesn't acknowledge my pain as her own. Angry that she won't tell me she's grieving too.

In the beginning, the minutes, hours, days after Ezra died, my mom was my rock. I can't imagine how we would have survived if it weren't for my parents running to our aid. They were at the hospital within what felt like minutes of our call. They guided us through decisions about sitting shiva, purchasing cemetery plots...all the stuff we should still know nothing about. My mom cooked through her grief, stuffing our freezer and fridge with all my favorite foods, none of which I could bring myself to eat.

But as the months have worn on, my mom treats Ezra as a sad episode in our (not her) lives, not a life, a baby boy, who is mourned and missed. For the most part my dad does the same, but he's not my mom. Plus he's been recovering from major surgery. He gets a pass.

That was a turning point when my mom stopped grieving with me. It was 2 1/2 months after Ezra died when my dad got sick. In her shock and anxiety over my dad's health, it was if she no longer had room in her heart for her dead grandson. Not that she ever expressed her grief before, but at least she was more present with mine.

Thankfully, my dad has recovered. I'm not sure my relationship with my mom ever will.

: :

My mom never acknowledged me as a mom on Mother's Day. She didn't wish me a happy day. She didn't mention that it must be a hard day for me. She delighted in her gift. She loved the elaborate dinner I cooked. She went to sleep content, called today to thank me again for her celebration. I raged all the way home.

We live in parallel universes my mom and I. In her universe she has a loving close relationship with her daughter. In mine we share a loving relationship, marred by betrayal.

: :

It wasn't an awful Mother's Day. I anticipated it would be much worse. I am just oh so very grateful its over.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day Haiku


Always his mama
Grateful when you remember
Just wish he was here

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Joy

Three years ago today, our joy knew no bounds. To say our wedding day was the happiest day of our lives understates the magic that pervaded it all.

The look on David's face when he saw me (see above) for the first time that day:


More magic moments:







Today we are celebrating our joy in each other. Amidst this terribly hard year, its good to remember we still have joy...and deep deep love.



Monday, May 4, 2009

Guest Post By Ezra's Daddy: Ooh Child

We heard this song on the radio in the car yesterday and burst into tears. One of my favorite songs of all time, Ezra's Mommy's too. I have two versions here: the original from the Five Stairsteps, and another from Hall and Oates. Some songs just strike a chord for me, especially these days, and this is one of them.

Ooh-oo child, things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child, things'll get brighter
Ooh-oo child, things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child, things'll be brighter

Some day, yeah
We'll put it together and we'll get it all done
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter

Ooh-oo child, things are gonna be easier
Ooh-oo child, things'll be brighter
Ooh-oo child, things are gonna be easier
Ooh-oo child, things'll be brighter

Some day, yeah
We'll put it together and we'll get it all done
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter

Some day, some day, some day
We'll get it together and we'll get it all done
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, some day, some day
We'll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter

Ooh-oo child, things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child, things'll be brighter
Ooh-oo child, things are gonna get easier
Ooh-oo child, things'll be brighter

Right now
You just wait and see how things are gonna be
Right now...

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