Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Having you here as I continue to process Emma Grace and her role in our family is such a blessing. However, as the converstaion was opened during ILCW we DBM's who go on to have another pregnancy and deliver a live child have an added piece to our blogs, parenting after loss, and although both pieces fit perfectly in OUR lives, they may not always fit with the IF readers.
I have been giving this alot of thought but the last two days have really brought the issue to a head for me. In the beginning, when I mentioned Bear or The Comedian it was always in conjunction with their connection to Emma, or how they relate to the idea of her death, or my shift in perspective parenting after a loss. But, in the last couple days I have been writing the occasional Bear Only post or "Comedian Inspired" post and find that Emma is not in their stories.
In processing that line of thinking I realized that although in my little world Emma, Bear and The Comedian are as far from mutally exclusive as you can get, my goal for this blog, my mission really demands that they be exactly that in the blogosphere.
This blog is a safe haven for mothers suffering through their losses and regardless of labels clearly placed in the title, I don't want you to be subjected to a picture or parenting story that throws you back to a hellish place in your grieving process. But never fear - my big Bear and totally hilarous Comedian will not dissapear entirely from Building Heavenly Bridges they will only appear when story is somehow a connection, annecdote, or celebration day about their sister, Emma Grace or a personal tale of my parenting road in relationship to a stillborn baby.
That said, I really cannot stop myself from blogging about them as individuals as they grow, evolve, say and do really funny stuff, and occasionally baffle me to the point of reaching out to all of you for help. The solution was really simple, but as usual, took a few days to come to me - arriving like a big booming voice from above..."CARA - START ANOTHER BLOG!"
I am starting another blog. It will be appropriately called: The Bear And The Comedian - Living Life - Parenting After A Loss. I don't know when I'll have it up and running but I'll be sure to post when it is! At that point you will have choices! (hooray for choices!)
If you are feeling low and looking for inspiration...go to Building Heavenly Bridges
If you are looking for a cute kid story to lift your spirits or feeling like you have all the parenting answers that day, come to The Bear and The Comedian to share them with me!!!
Either way...please visit and tell your story so we know what you need!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
"Three Weeks With My Brother" is the moving memoir written by the Sparks brothers. Yes, Nicholas is best known for his fiction (he rocks!) and Micah is (was) relatively unknown, but their story of a "three week trip around the globe" combined with childhood tales that make you laugh and cry (and occasionally wonder if social services should have been called) is hands down, the best memoir I've ever read.
I've posted in the past that Emma Grace, my sweet angel, is my literary inspiration, and she is! But, to give credit where credit is due Nicholas and Micah Sparks, were the catalyst - the "spark" you might say (sorry, I just couldn't resist the pun) that forced my computer open and got my fingers-a-typing.
THE IDEA became A CATHARTIC ACT
On a Friday evening about seven months ago as I read the last page tears were streaming down my face. Without much thought, I took inspired action. I closed the book, walked to my computer and began typing.
INSPIRED ACTION became AN IDEA
CATHARTIC WRITING became A BOOK
THE BOOK became A MISSION
THE MISSION became AN OUTREACH
THE OUTREACH became A BRIDGE
THE BRIDGE is my current MISSION (and I need your help!)
All this has happened in the last seven months and who knows what is on the horizon, but I'm ready. So, here's the twist...I know you are here for show and tell, but before you click back to see what the other smarties in the class are presenting PLEASE click on the BRIDGE link above after reading the post, add your much needed input to the loss bag we are re-vamping for the local hospital. THANKS, THANKS AND A THOUSAND TIMES THANKS! I know we can't take away the fresh pain of loss, but we can help.
Well, I did it! I went back to the birthing center where you were born. I know you wanted me to. I have felt you calling in these last months, not just to write the book, but also to reach out and make a difference for others, to build heavenly bridges. Thank you for leading me for I now know how great the need is.
As I drove to the hospital this morning I looked down, and for just a moment I was eight years younger driving a green Ford Escort and my stomach protruded in such a rounded shape that it pressed against the steering wheel. You were with me during that drive in just the same way you were today, angelic form, for although I was blind to the truth, you had already died inside me. Today, I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself that I had to do this, not just for me, but for others, primarily for others. Even so, I took the stairs as a way to walk a different route, a way to differentaite this experience from the memories that wanted so badly to return.
I have to say, the nurses have come so far. I was ushered into their private lounge to meet. Lisa, the childbirth instructor, had the presence of mind to know that it was the one space I had never seen and would be an emotionally safe meeting place. I am so grateful for her forethought. She had also taken the time to have all the loss materials ready for me to pour over. They have the same "grieving" pamphlet and a small book focusing on stages of loss, but they also have a home-made wooden "memory box" now they pack with mementos of the baby: a lock of hair, their hospital band, tags with name, weight, and height, a picture and whatever else you might want in there. What a lovely gesture. Unfortunately, they are down to their last one (lots of loss this last year...be with those babes honey) and the woman who designed the boxes has also passed away. I'm thinking of asking your daddy if he will make some. Wouldn't that be a wonderful way for him to get involved?
Speaking with Lisa I learned so many things. I already knew that the nurses, these underpaid and overworked employees - both emotionally and physically, did MOST if not ALL of the work during a labor and delivery. But as I listened to Lisa talk about how they are affected after a baby's demise I was really struck. They process too, they grieve right along with us, but they are also astute enough to recognize that they can't relate from the emotional standpoint. Beyond all this, they still have a job to do: uterus massages, blood pressure readings and checking stitches are just three of their post-partum duties to ensure that we, the moms, are physically safe after the delivery. They escape to the hall for a good cry, then return to do their job.
I proposed many new additions to their current loss packet that all come from an "I've been there" perspective. We are going to add (and keep updated!)a list of resourceful reading material with short descriptions of each book so newly grieving mothers don't have to do all their own legwork to find the right read for them. We will have a personal invitiation to come to the monthly off-site support group to listen, talk, or just cry. I'm still chewing on a few more ideas like maybe some "what your body will do even though..." information and ...well it will come together.
For the meantime, I have an open communication with the birthing center nursing staff and they are going to call me whenever there is a loss to drive over and sit with the mom and support her. I was specific in my concern that little or nothing is done for mothers who miscarry before 15 weeks. Often, they are never even sent to the birthing center. I hope to make a BIG difference in the way this is handled by having a set of my cards in the ER too stapled to the support group invitation. Walking away with just a prescription for vicodin and a verbal promise that "it should take care of itself naturally" is not ok.
I look forward to being a catalyst for healing and I am so grateful to have you as my daughter, my first born. You are the reason I can be who I am today and you are the reason I am ready to reach out to others. Thank you for walking me across this bridge my sweet girl. Stay with me for the best is yet to come.
(LADIES - IF ANY OF YOU HAVE IDEAS THAT WOULD MAKE A GOOD ADDITION TO THE LOSS PACKET, MAYBE SOMETHING YOU WISHED HAD BEEN DONE FOR YOU BUT WASN'T OR SOMETHING THAT WAS DONE FOR YOU AND YOU HOPE IT CAN BE AVAILABLE FOR ALL...PLEASE COMMENT OR EMAIL ME WITH YOUR IDEAS!)
Friday, September 26, 2008
Apparantely she didn't know the answers to inquiry numbers 1 and 4, but she had numbers 2 and 3 covered!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
YOU are sure this is the way you need to be going. It will be the BEST and QUICKEST route to your destination and so, your immediate reaction to the orange roadblocks is irratation...disgust...and a quick consideration that maybe you can find a way to beat the odds and pass through where others can't. But, after a moment you realize, you will not be passing through on your intended route and you turn the vehicle, now in the opposite direction, giving in to the detour and accepting that you will be ten minutes late for the meeting.
As I approached the platform that would take me accross my bridge (click here for the backstory) those signs lept out...DETOUR...TAKE ALTERNATE ROUTE...DEFINATELY EXPECT DELAYS...
This a very dramatic way of saying, No...the meeting didn't happen yesterday and it's not happening today or tommorrow..."maybe Saturday" is the best I could get from the sweet toned nurse on the other end of the line. "Lisa is really sick" she reported, then rushed on so I would know she took my message from the prior day seriously, "but...I did call her at home and let her know you called. Her next scheduled day is Saturday." I hope my voice didn't convey my obvious dismay at not being able to come until ...SATURDAY (OMG - when did I mentally convert to WANTING so badly to go back to that childbirth center?) as I said, "No problem. I will call Saturday morning and if Lisa is availiable I will drive over."
I have learned so many valuable life lessons over my eight years of forced grieving. One of the most powerful is how to accept unexpected outcomes (and detour signs) in my path. I thought I had really internalized this, but here as my biggest bridge yet looms ahead of me, still under construction, men "working" but NOT as they stand around smoking their cigarettes and nodding importantly at the site where they are supposed to be adding supporting structures and thinking..."well today is mostly gone. What do you say we come back and try to make some progress tomorrow?" - as this bridge remains unsafe for the passing, I wait.
Waiting isn't something I have ever been good at. Actually it made me very nervous, allowing all manners of opportunity to "think" about the pieces of the journey that are most difficult for me. But in the last year (as I learn to quiet my body and mind through meditation and actively working to live in the moment) I have begun to accept these roadblocks as opportunities for learning, a teachable moment - if you will - just for me.
I don' t what lesson will present itself between now and Saturday...but its coming. When I, the good student, completes my course I will publish the report just for you! Thanks for coming along for the ride, and do me a favor if you will...PLEASE send a "Get Something Done" glance to the men working on my bridge if you happen past!
Monday, September 22, 2008
I called on Friday and had a lovely phone conversation with her. My main intention when I called her was to ask about the very different packets they send home with mothers who birth live babies vs. us dead baby moms. I am interested for two reasons:
- I remember there being some gaps (gaping holes actually) in the packet of stuff I finally got the courage to flip through after a few weeks of losing Emma.
- I am doing some on-site research for the book and want to be accurate about what kind of information is currently being distributed.
I have a feeling that the "loss" packet isn't updated nearly as often as the "live birth" packet regardless of the title, breast feeding or bottle feeding as Lisa reported "about 4 stillbirth babies a year". Obviously I live a VERY rural area.
Now, I have BEEN back to that hospital for a variety of reasons over the last eight years: blood work, kids appointments, and even a trip into the ER, but going to the fourth floor and walking past all those perfectly framed pictures of sleeping babies was never part of the plan. (In case you are wondering I had my two other girls in different hospitals)
Even as I dialed the numbers for the switchboard and heard myself asking for the childbirth center, I knew my questions couldn't be answered over the phone. I knew our conversation would lead to a face-to-face meeting in the exact location where I had labored and delivered my still baby. So, I was midly prepared (cognitively anyway) when Lisa said, "I'm on again both Monday and Tuesday. When would you like to come?" We made an appointment to meet monday, "if they weren't busy with laboring moms."
I put the phone down and thought, Can I do this? Can I truly walk back into that space where they couldn't find a heartbeat and my whole word collapsed around me without falling apart all over again, and for that matter, this close to Emma's birthday? Then, I recalled the rest of our conversation. We hadn't just talked about pamphlets and books.
Lisa was EXCITED! her voice conveyed the appropriate sympathy but a "holy grail" kind of enthusiasm that she had finally located (or been located as the case may be) by someone who had come out the other side of the horror and was ready to help out. Feeding off her, somehow our conversation covered the topics of how they don't have a package to send home with mothers who miscarry. Why the hell not???? I internally screamed, but calmly said, "Maybe I can be helpful with that as well."
We talked about the evolution of a support group in an off-site location for mothers with losses to come and feel safe sharing their story, not only infant loss and not only recent loss - but wherever they are in their greiving journey. "Sure." I said, "I'd be honored to lead such a group". And, lastly, Lisa said the most amazing thing. "Maybe" she said "you would be willing to be a liaison, an outreach for us to call after a stillborn baby has been born. We try, you know" (she said referring to the team of nurses) "but we really don't have any idea what these mothers are going through".
I hung up the phone physically swaying with the notion Whew - this is heavy stuff. So I sat for a minute and let it all sort out in my head, compartmentalize into then vs. now. Then, suddenly, the gravity of my own "bridge crossing" issue seemed less overwhelming than it had a few moments ago. I guess this is how you know that you are REALLY on the right path, whether in life, relationships, occuaption, or grieving. The name of the blog is Building Heavenly Bridges. I am attempting to build bridges for others, so (duh) I really do have to keep crossing my own as they arrive. Do as I do...not as I say...right?
So, this morning dawned and with it an outfit I hadn't seen (or fit into for that matter) for a LONG time. It was professional and exuded "I am here, I am OK and I want to make a difference". I even put on MAKE UP! (not something I often do in case that wasn't clear) I shuffled kids here and there, caught up on my ICLW for the day,then made . the . call!
She wasn't there. She was "in the bulding" but she wasn't "on the floor". Yes, sure they would take a message and she would call me back. She didn't. She works again tomorrow, maybe she will be available then.
(BIG sigh) - Isn't that just perfect? I wasn't sure I could go there then I got to a mental place when I was VERY ready to go there, then I am told ..."Today is not the day, maybe tomorrow". Maybe tomorrow. I used to put off so many mentally challenging notions with that very evasive phrase. In the past "maybe tomorrow" would have washed me with a sense of relief, a whew - I didn't really want to do this and now I don't have to AND - even better - I don't have to take the blame for cancelling! But this time my inner voice was screaming, NO! I want to cross that bridge! Let me across it even if I do have to come back and go over it again!
Another lesson learned? For today I remain behind the detour sign, but "maybe tomorrow" you'll find me on the other side of that bridge! (I'll keep you posted)
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Then, my natural instincts kicked in. There is NOTHING in this world I love more than a LIST! (ok- maybe a checklist so I can SEE my progress). That is why I copied and pasted the linkage list to a word document then printed it. I now have a hardcopy where I can place a perfectly formed "checkmark" next to each link as I visit and comment. Moreover, I can keep track of how many times I visit each blog and this will allow me to know who I am really connecting with. (anal? compulsive? a resounding need for order? - I don't know...you saw my pantry after all)
Speaking of pantries ... no my obsession with all things categorized would be better vizualized if I bullet off some of my past actions: (mom if the ages are off ...please comment!)
- Age 9 (ish) Turned my white pine bookshelf in my bedroom into a library by organizing the books into an alphabetical sequence (this reaked havoc with their ability to line up by height - but hey..what can you do?) and fixed each one with a label. Then HANDMADE a pre-windows spreadsheet looking-like-thing so you could (and here is where it gets a tad bit crazy...) CHECK THEM OUT!
- Age 12(ish) Completed unassigned and never-to-be-graded book reports in the SUMMER (probably a mental checklist I had created- who knows!)
- Age 15(ish) Labeled my mother's pantry with food and brand names in their designated locations to make unpacking the groceries "easier".
Ok - lists are one thing. Setting goals and reaching them while keeping track of your progress is a good thing, right? But here's the REAL problem. I don't like limits, they scare me. I like to be within the limits. I don't like getting down to the wire. I don't like deadlines they scare me too so I have to set a deadline within a deadline. (then why, do you ask are you writing a book?) A few more tell-tale examples:
- Age 20 - In College I ALWAYS finished my papers a day or two ahead of their duedates so I could, proof them, "just" one more time! (Ah-ha...the writer is vindicated)
- Age 22 - Planning a Wedding (Nuff Said!)
- Age 25 - Joined Weight Watchers to lose the weight from the first baby (Emma - stillborn) so I could get pregnant with the next. If my point limit was 25, I used 20. If my goal loss for the week was 1.5 pounds I lost 3. See a pattern?
Ok, now that I have effectively established my "live-by-the-ways-of-the-prescribed-world" personality (I have evolved - so don't judge too harshly please - smiles) I think you are in a better mindset to understand the rush of "checklist lust" that went through me when I saw the 122 blogs on the list. Truly, I have evolved, but I just CAN'T resist a checklist!Visting each one was never a question, How many do I need to visit each day? was the question ticker-taping through my frontal lobe. (me- grabbing a calculator and punching numbers...122 / 7) = 17.42 blogs a day. No biggie! 18 blogs a day (see I rounded up, not down??)
My self-imposed mission set I dove into my reading / commenting mode with coffee abounding. Only later, and by a fluke of the mouse, did I see this thing called the Iron Commentator. My delusional reaction? Hmmm...there are people that don't visit all the sites? Ahhh....I have come so far but I have so far to go. (NOTE: must meditate more every day!)
FYI - Yes, I've been to 18 blogs today.
Friday, September 19, 2008
FOR THE RECORD: I did can the mushroom, but not for my FIL's sake. My husband helped and he REALLY likes these meaty, chewy variety of mushroom. So, for him...my hard working hubby...for him. I canned the mushroom.
And so, for posterity's sake (and proof that I can't fit another jar) I unveil my pantry! I can't can even one mo' can! (Said in the rhythm of that fab book I ain't gonna paint no more!)
I leave you with a question: Why to they call it CANNING when you use JARS? Shouldn't it be called JARRING?
Thursday, September 18, 2008
They don't haunt me like they used to - a constant shadow ready to attack at any part of my day, sent by invisible triggers and only banished by a good cry and a forced replay of the worn road I've travelled too many times in my mind. What if I had reacted when I felt excessive movement? What if I had forced the doctor to induce on my due date? What if I had actually listened my gut instinct the FIRST time? What if ---If Then --- I Wonder.
They used to crucify me on a daily basis. I'd get lost in their circular madness, spinning with their almost believable hypotheses to the point of dissiness. In this state, anything was possible. Changing time was possible. Going back in time...ah - now what good idea, then I could ...(and now for my best trick of the day - Drumroll please)....CHANGE THE OUTCOME! Those days were exhausting, draining me like a grief vampire until I was reduced to a pile of mush on the floor, or couch, or bed, or - wherever was closest when the shadows closed in.
Now, only rarely do I find myself paralyzed by these two word questions. Emma has evolved in our family just as I have in my own skin and soul. No, now I find myself wondering something different. Ok - here's an example.
(Scene - driving in the car to preschool. The Comedian in the back seat, but visable by one of those handy mirrors minivan companies install)
Me- "I packed you a snack today, but lunch is grilled cheese and tomato soup. Doesn't that sound good honey?"
The Comedian - "Mama, can you put the soft songs on?"
Me - "Sure" (tuning the radio to the local classical station - then ready to try again on the lunch track I hear...)
The Comedian - (Softly singing) "I love youuuuu....oh yes I dooooooo" (NOTE: She has perfect pitch for a three year old. It's kinda amazing) "Emma is my sissster. Emma is the besssst girl in ooour family. I liiiiiiike she. I liiiiike she plant. I liiiiiike she angel. I loooooove my sister who liiiiives in heaven tooooo God."
(CUE THE SHADOWS FOR A WILDY UNPRECCEDENTED MOMENT) A combination of bittesweet AND introspective smiling AND rip my heart out AND oh-look at what good job I'm doing parenting AND DEFINATELY wow-I really have built a sisterly bridge MOMENT ALL WRAPPED INTO ONE.
I am crying, not sobbing, but crying and she is still singing. It is most beautiful song I have ever heard but it didn't launch me into the cycle of madness (thank God cause I was driving a car!). Insead, I found myself thinking, "How do mothers who lose a baby after delivering a heathly one cope? How do they allow themselved the melting days, the madness days, the indulgent take care of my bleeding heart days when they have another life looking up, needing them for everything?" And for a fleeting second - so wild and crazy I couldn't even believe it crossed my (potentally mad) mind, I thought, "If I did have to lose a child, I'm glad she was my first".
(Now CUE THE EMOTIONS) Anger, Guilt, Knowledge of sacrelidge, etc...etc...
I know we are broken to the point that our consciense mind is forced to look for meaning and reasons so we don't spend every waking minute in that melting stage, but this? This was the craziest reasoning my trecherous mind had ever played on me.
Even so, It was the most beautiful song I had ever heard.
Blogging, to date has been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding experiences I have ever spent on the internet (with the obvious exception of shopping for something then having it whaa-la, appear at my doorstep and all I had to do was...lift a finger!). Ok - seriously, I love this, but I have to think I am not making the most of all my blogging potential.
So, those of you out there with the elusive title of "blogging expert" or "knower of all things blog" will you please help me? Unfortunately, I can't even put my request into logical terms...because (aside from the few listed in the first paragraph - and I don't know if that are all accurate) I DON'T KNOW THE LINGO!!
I welcome any and all suggestions, sites for "blogging dummies" perhaps, simple directions to create links, fancy schancy stuff...whatever - Bring . It . On! Ooooo, but I really would LOVE to know how to program a song to play when someone clicks on the blog!!!
So - what was your best new skill when you started your blog?
Sincere thanks in hops that someday I can pass this info to someone else!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
But then, my mind returned to researching statistics for my book. This, in itself is a daunting task for, finding accurate statistics in the world of baby loss is like trying to count the fish in the sea, especially when you consider MY definiation of baby loss (as mapped out in MY MISSION) SORRY I DON'T KNOW HOW TO MAKE THOSE PRETTY BLUE LINKS YET...HELP ANYONE???
Anyway, based on the latest updated research including stillbirth, infant death and SIDS, "on average" (and I abhor this term because every baby is a soul and I want to know exactly how many have been lost!!!) 99,000 babies died last year. This does not even include the sweet little souls lost to miscarriage, because that is represented by percentage. So take the 99,000 and add in the 20% of all pregnancies ending in miscarriage and our faboulous 1500 brave mothers are only a drop in overflowing grief bucket.
Where are the others? How are the others? How are the fathers coping out there? What about the living sisters and brothers, how are they doing? What about the grandparents who feel like they lost a child? I don't have answers, but I do know that what has begun here...in the world of the blog...is huge! It is just the beginning, but the world is ready for us. The nation is ready to hear of our babies, our boys, our girls, our faceless 9 week losses and our buried 40 week bodies. Elizabeth McCracken's book just released last week, is already getting good reviews indicating that the living are ready to at least...hear about and acknowledge the dead.
I am so excited to be part of this, to reach out and hold a new hand, listen to a new friend, and support others who have lost recently, or a long time ago. Each of us follows our own path but knowing that the path is paved is of some consolation.
This line of thinking led me to wonder, What would my blog have looked like if it had been an option when Emma died? In that period when I was feeling raped by life and like someone had their boot pressed firmly on my heart at all times, I needed this web of knowledge, statistics, love, support, and yes - a hopeful tone from someone who was past the first year of hell. I did search the internet for answers and for groups of women battling the same emotions, but I came up dry...so I turned to something more physical - scrapbooking.
I know it sounds odd to say I can chronicle a dead baby, but I did and I still do. Or maybe its more accurate and honest to say I chronicle my life as it has been forever affected by her. Obviously I only have a handful of pictures of Emma but I journal, put pictures of her burning bush, of her sisters as they arrive, of the red leaf and the rainbow, and rarely...of myself - but when I update my scrapbook every September it becomes my mirror. It evolves into a looking glass where I can see my reflection, differing from year to year. So, even though I don't have a blog of old to compare with the tone of my blog of new, I do have year one in her book and it reads and looks VERY different from year eight.
I can see my growth, I can feel my healing, and I am overwhelmed that we, the nearly 1500, can be that for all the other mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters and brothers who have yet to face their grief and take the first step on their road to healing.
I love you Emma Grace, and every other heavenly soul.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Hey...my first show and tell and I have a BIGGIE! (ha-ha, sorry couldn't resist)
Our garden this year was ABUNDANT to say the least. After harvesting and preserving mountains of tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, beans, pumpkins, yellow squash and YES zucchini we gave up the weeding and just...let it grow! As you can see our biggest one measured over TWO FEET LONG!
What did you grow this year???
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I have always been forthright about the hard-to-swallow fact that there are chunks of time and specific days recounted for me, that I have completely blacked out. Bits and pieces come back to me when someone is very detailed in their description, but it is a forced memory and doesn't stay long.
In addition - before I lost Emma I didn't put much stock in this "world-to-world" connection stuff. I was a hard core you gotta see it and touch it to believe it. After she flew it took me a while to accept the feeling / sensing connection, but Emma is part of me (not to mention persistant and patient with me) and so I came to see what was real and true in my life, using all my senses.
I have to admit for the first year I was addicted to the John Edwards show. I would dream about going on the show and having him single me out on the first round..."Ohhhh" he would say sporting a seriously intense look on his face, "I feel a STRONG presance around you. Your daughter, right? An infant...Yes, she wants you to know that her death was always part of the plan and she is with you all the time." And just when I thought he was done and dissolved into tears, he would add, "E. I see the letter E. She insits that I tell you she is proud of the work you have done to deal with your grief." Indulgant? Of course, we all want to hear the words that we believe will settle our heart, but that is the beautiful part of fantasy...we get - exactly that!
Anyway, lately, when I arrive home from dropping the girls to their respective schools and open the computer, time disintegrates and my surroundings become hazy. It is like a portal exists in my dining room (for that is where I do the bulk of my writing as the office is too messy...I'm working on it!) and when the time portal opens I am back in 2000 re-living the pregnancy, discovery of her death, and delivery of our first daughter. Ok, maybe that's not so odd for writers, I mean, you do have to immerse yourself in the storyline regardless of it's basis in fact or fiction, but here is where the really odd stuff happens.
I'll be writing along occasionally amazed by the speed that a thought can fly through me and take form on the screen, and my fingers take off. They develop a mind of their own (or of a spirit in the chair next to me) and begin creating text that had not passed through the mental scanner I like to call "my brain". This all happens in the span of seconds and when I stop to look at what I have written I am shocked to see that names I could not recall have appeared on the page, hospital scenes I only vaguely remember are mapped out in intense detail, and insights between mother and child appear that are so novel to me, they bring tears.
I don't think publishers go for dual authorship when the second party is deceased so I'm not even going to approach it with them, but with you, the circle of other "dead baby mothers" (by the way I love that you call yourselves that with pride!) with you I will always share the credit for my words with Emma Grace. I know sceptics might challenge me and say that my perspective of the events are skewed by maternal love and grief, but they would be wrong! I know what I know and she is with me when I write. She is around us often (see previous posts - "The Burning Bush" and "The Eve") but when the room is filled with only the computer and classical music, our connection is stronger, fueled by a dual desire to reach out and spare other hurting mothers even one second of their pain.
Emma has a message she has shared with me and it is my job to share it with the world, or at least with the population of the world who is ready to hear it. To the skeptics, I say "Be skeptical, but it will only keep you from really living in this world for YOUR perspective is the only one that matters. Mine keeps my heart wide open at all times!"
I tell you tonight...believe.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
But here I am, two weeks later, thinking, acting, and creating like a real-life-rootin-tootin ...blogger! And my deepest emotion is gratitude. I am so grateful to finally find the place I searched for eight years ago (and MAN DID I SEARCH!) packed with women who "get it" so deeply they ofter have answers that the so-called professionals seemed stumped by. I am insanely blessed to find a network of women who live and grieve, cry and revel in their children ( both dead and alive), and most of all - I LOVE that anything goes. I love that one day you can be internal and introspective and people are good with that, but then next you can rage about some injustice that the world has done you just because you have three kids, but one doesn't eat at your dinner table.
I intend to introduce myslef to at least two new blogs a week until my sidebar is "chaulk full" with inspiration blogs. I am not shy... acutally I am probably one of the most outgoing people you will ever meet...and, therefore I am eager to comment and be commented!
If you haven't read my story from the beginning I take this opportunity to give you brief...low down. I am 32 years old, Emma's birthday is September 8th - she is 8 years old, Bear is 5 1/2 and The Comedian is 3 1/2. My husband is a contracter by day and a sustainable living organic farmer by night (by that I mean in his heart and dreams). I am a myrid of things and I am starting to think there is not enought time in this life to accomplish all I would like to. But for the moment, I am a mother and a writer. I am currrently writing an intimate memoir about my expeience from conception to birth and thereafter. So, eventually I imagine, you will all know WAY MORE about me than you ever wanted to. But, there it is. My current mission is to touch every bleeding heart I can with a message of "it sucks, but there is hope" (obviously I write a bit more in an elloquent manner) - but, ah-ha...yet ANOTHER reason why I love blogging.
So..THANK YOU for allowing me into your bloggorific world! I look forward to getting to know each and every one of you, your stories, your strifes and your successes. The tangibility of these connections is almost incomprehensible, but - so is what has happed to us and that, more than anything, is why we need each other.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
But ok, really I'm fine. My lower back is screaming, but no matter. My fingers work and my heart is settled in this post Emma's birthday period. (ok - settling if I'm being honest) and so I'm fine. Honesty, interesting that word found its way into this post becuase that is my main intention on this blog, honesty, with myself and with you, the readers I am blessed to have choosing to follow my journey. Admittedly, I do enjoy the full body feeling writing airy, heavenly, Emma and I connected forever kind of posts. It feeds my ever winding road of healing. But Emma, my sweet girl, as alive as she is for me, is not here. Bear and The Comedian are here and although one (without question) requires more attention from me than the other (who also - without question) gets the short end of the attention stick more often than not - they are my everything. And so, for the duration of this post I will intentially turn the table in the 'attention' game.
BEAR (5 1/2) - I delight in advocating for her as she navigates this new world they call Kin-der-gar-ten. For every once of energy, time, cuddles, and yes - discipline I put into her I know they will not only serve her in her life, but come back at me times ten. (how that for brief?)
THE COMEDIAN (3 1/2)- It is probably obvious the role she plays in our lives (I did pick her "screen name" for a good reason!) She ...is...FUNNY! She is pure comedy. She is so unintetionaly hillarious that it makes everything she does, somehow even funnier. Someone once said to me, "Wow! All you have to do is look at her, and you laugh". Its true - although it doesn't exactly sound great when I write it that way. Anyway, I think of her as the next Ellen, able to shift a facial expression and get a laugh (and here is the important part) - FROM ANYBODY! My Comedian brings joy to the world - joy through laughter. She creates those "truly you had to be there moments" because if you weren't, any measure of re-telling can never re-create the real thing. In fact, I am sorely tempted to try out my theory and share an event from the dinner table last week, but I know better. Words don't do this child's natural talent justice. The picture I had posted for a few days on my Sunday, Sept. 7th post however, clearly showed her innate ability to take any situation and find the humor. ( we were posing behind her sister's headstone after all)
Thank you God for sending me this girl. Thank you for infusing constant humor into our lives, because we need it. I need it. I could so easily drown in Emma's love and Bear's needs and never find my way back to the lighter side of life. I could exist through my to-do lists and my "next steps" without pause, but at least once a day, my youngest, my last little girl, challenges me to see the world through her flexible eyes. To look at what is right in front of me and soak it all in. To NEVER take one little thing for granted.
So how can feel bad? I can't, I guess. "Nothing is more important than that I feel good" says my all knowing card of the day. Silly me for needing a card. I have The Comedian and she shows me this everyday.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
This gave me pause and for the first time I clearly saw how my perception of time has been permanently skewed. I didn't fight it, but I did recognize that other people were righfully baffled when they would ask, "When does The Comedian start school?" and I would answer in everyday conversation tones, "In a couple weeks, on Emma's birthday". Some of them know my history, in fact some of them lived it with me, but it still doesn't make it any easier for them to talk about.
You know, this bothers me, quite a bit. I mean, if I am her mother and I have worked this damn hard for eight years to accept her death and make some shred of sense of her purpose then why shouldn't I be able to talk about it without shocked expressions meeting my eyes? Let me be clear, I have a sizable chunk of people (both family and friends) who can hold a serious conversation with me about her life without looking away or reverting to standard conversational responses (you know, like "uh-hu and hmmm") while nodding their head, but effectively tuning me out and just allowing me to talk without actually being part of the conversation. For these people, I am infinately grateful for their support system and feel truly blessed that they are in my lives.
That said, I have been very clear about my intentions regarding Emma and how I want her to be remembered in our family. So, I'm wondering (and believe me I don't have the answer!)... If I have told the world what I need and they still can't seem anti-up, as it were, then where is the breakdown? Are they too scared to say her name? I say it all the time. Are they too put off by the subject of death? It is all around us in nature, in fact some of these people actually....hunt! Are they afraid if they talk about it, death with come for them? If that is the answer then I am truly sad for these people because when their day does come they will go, as we say, "kicking and screaming".
I prefer to embrace this concept and use the space/time continuum to explore the possibility that we can live harmoniously in one world while integrating the other. I feel this way, not only because I want to visualize a beautiful reunion with Emma in Heaven someday, but because I want to live gracefully surrounded by her spirit for my years here on earth. Like Morrie said (inj one of my favorite books of all time!), "First, learn to die, then you will learn to live." I'm still working on this one, cause its a biggie, but at the end of the day I would rather have smiled, laughed, and inspired just one other human than shed a million tears at the hands of sorrow.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Before I left for my, "take care of my inner spirit" day I picked a card from my Law of Attraction deck and my Inner-Self deck. I know it kinda sounds like hocus pocus, but I do this everyday to center my focus and guide my intentions. Most days the card I pick really matches up with the tasks ahead of me, but today I was overwhelmed with my alignment. Today I picked, "I can relax into my natural well-being" and "I am not here to create sameness". I definatley intended to do both.
"I am one with God. I am more than enough. I am one with Emma. I am strong. I am a good mother. I am healing." are the powerful sentences I reapeated over and over in my head as I was lying face down for (hands down) the BEST massage of my life. Even so, tears escaped my eyes and dripped to the floor causing the massuse, massoose (how do you spell that word?) to silently hand me tissues under the sheet. Now, seriously, how was I supposed to use those tissues? I was face down, my head stuffed in that oblong shaped thing and had no access to my eyes. But, still, it was sweet of her. The most amazing part is I was competly unabashed. When I walked in the door I said, "I may be emotional. Today is my daughter's birthday", just so she wasn't competely blind sighted by my potential outbursts. How she made sense of tears as a response to my daughter's birthday, I have no idea. But, here's my perspective, this is my process and I am NOT here to create sameness! I have walked this grieving road long enough to be aware that anywhere and anytime is a possible opportunity for a heart reaction and it is my job to embrace it.
Embrace is a perfect word for today. After the massage (where I truly did "relax into my being") I was treated to a facial. I may shock some of you when I say, I AM 32 YEARS OLD AND HAVE NEVER HAD A FACIAL! It's true, well, until today that is. It was scrumptously amazing. So, on my sweet angel's birthday I opened myself to a new experience. But it gets better.
My friend teaches yoga and reiki at the spa resort. She treated me to a private class designed just for my healing. The seven shakras (again - spelling?) of the body combined with their affirmations shot me back to the hospital room and visions of a still baby leaving my hands, forever, but then something mindblowing happened.
On my mat in a position (ironically called the "corpse" pose) I was transcended, kind of . Cognitively, I knew I was in the solarium on a mat, but I was standing on a cliff, my toes reaching out over the rocks and my body slightly rocking. I guess you could say I was teetering on the "Proverbial" edge. I sensed there was a decision to make. I peeked down to the depths below me and could see that hospital room, see Emma in her tiny infancy, see the nurses taking possession of her, and see myself crumbling away - a shattered heart with a body for a shell.
Then, I looked up. I would love to say that I saw Emma or even some angelic symbol of her shimmering in the heavenly aura, but I can't. In fact, I didn't see anything. (not even my friend holding her hands only inches over me ) No, I felt deep in my inner gut, I knew, like the student who just opened the test booklet and felt a surge of relief that he knew the first answer.I knew that my path was up.
I knew the memory of Emma's physical body wasn't nearly as powerful as her angelic spirit. It is her spirit that has led me through years of emotional crisis to a hopeful place, an inspirational place. It is her spirit that brings rainbows, red leaves, and perfectly times songs on the radio. And so, I took a step over that cliff, but I didn't fall. I was lifted toward my higher self, my constanly evolving self, and it felt good. Simultaneoulsy, my chest heaved with sobs and the tears streamed from my eyes to the mat. I wept because making that choice not to allow my memories to lead my path was like a goodbye. I felt like I was letting go of my security blanket after eight years of holding it close. It is a fine line, because my grief will never dissapear, but I will not permit it to possess me, I am in control and "breaking up" with the images was a process in itself.
I checked out from the world today and checked-in with myself. The good news is I am doing the best I can. The better news is the world didn't stop just because I did. Emma was very busy today! Her most impressive miracle came in the form of a phone call at 4pm, exactly when I arrived home. To fully comprehend the massive nature of this miracle would require much explanation, so let me just say we, as a family, were waiting for something for nine months and this Wednsesday it was going to happen. Three weeks ago I got a call that it was not going to happen and we were back, indefinately, on the list. Today, we were allerted that there was a "freak" opening, this Wednesday and "did we want to come?". "YES! YES! YES!" I practically screamed into the phone as the receptionist had no idea that her "freak" opening was exactly the day we were supposed to come in the first place.
If I keep walking, one step at a time, towards her spirit our mother /daughter connection will stregthen, will grow and our hearts will form an integrated front. I'm listening Emma, guide me.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
While we were making birthday cards for an angel who, "lives to God", according to my three year old, my husband was building a bridge. Seriously! It was a project he had set the sauna tubes for two years ago, but only recently was completing. The bridge connects our yard to our orchard and goes over the little brook that runs through our back yard. Honestly, sometimes I am stunned to silence by the neon signs flashing tiresly in my face, yet I can't see them. Last week when I sat down to name this blog, it never crossed my mind that my husband was building a blasted bridge! I have walked around for weeks as I ready to send my book proposal to publishers knowing that building bridges between huring and greiving mothers is my mission. Did I put the two together? No..of course not...it was just to obvious!
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
"Oh, wow, filling out this paperwork is sooooooo easy in comparison to Bear's!"
"Wait! You know better than to compare children. They are different and that is all there is too it."
Right, I know that conciously, but even so I was thrown back to my early post-delivery thoughts. I was reminded of the years I spent wondering about who Emma "would have been". Asking myself all kinds of unanswerable questions like, "Would she have been outdoorsy or an indoor kid?", "Would she have loved sweets or not?", "Would she have been cuddly or independent?" "Was she blessed with a talent? Art? Sports? Dance?" Remembering, just for a moment, looking back to see how I used to torture myself, how each question would induce another set of racking sobs, I sadly smiled.
My wonderings have evolved, just like my grieving, so they are still there - in the distance, living in an alternate world that represents impossible dreams. Yes - they are still wisps of wonder, but it appears I have finally accepted, truly reconciled, that I will never know any of these answers. This is simultaneously sad and hopeful. It is sad because it makes me feel like I am letting go, but then hope takes over and I see so many of Emma's purposes here on earth. I know her spirit isn't dormant, it is very busy and this turns my focus to the future. What miracles will she do next year or the year after? How will she continue to lead this family in her heavenly way?
That said, I remember the hell of the first few years. I remember the circular thinking (What if - I wonder, If... Then) that put me in such a tailspin I couldn't even walk stright through the room. I remember being sure there could never be, never ever be, any cognitive or spiritual "reason" for her leaving. Where are you in this process?
- Are you in the beginning where you would without hesitation join your baby if you could, just to see one of your phantom answers?
- Have you accepted that she your little one is gone, but can't let go of your questions, thinking that somehow, someday, a way might just present itself to quell you?
- Do you relive the days before you lost your baby, changing key moments and getting so far lost in the charade that you believe you can change the outcome?
I know - I have done all this and more. I have evaporated so far from the "real" world to my creation, which was far better than facing reality. And now, this nubmer, eight, eight years later, why does this number resonate? I don't know, but I don't really need to know. All I need is to recognize that my current reality is exactly what it is supposed to be.
So is yours! Wherever you are today, is where you start. Whereever you are tomorrow, even if its a step back, is where you continue. Check in with yourself in few weeks and try to see, objectively, that you have - just by attending to your emotions, taken more steps forward, than back.
A common soul,
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
So, I turned to meditation. This is a relatively new habit for me. About six months but I don't tend to do it in the wee hours of the morning. Maybe I should because as I sit here typing at 6am I feel settled and comfortable in my body and my mind. Also- as I sat in darkness only focusing on breathing in and breathing out my mind calmed enough for me to see through the foggy chatter and recall the reason I am waking at 3:30 am lately. As a solitary tear slid down my cheek, still deep in meditation, I said to myself "of course, Emma was born at 3:30am". So obvious, isn't it?
My first child who demands nothing of me. She doesn't come thumping down the stairs with elephant feet and say "where's my breakfast?" or wake me in the middle of the night with bad dreams for a "huggie and kissie", but once a year she does need me or is it that I need her? I guess, if I'm being honest, its both. Once a year, in the week surrounding her birthday she comes to me during "our time". 3:30 am -9am. That was the time we sat together, swaddled and snuggled in a hospital bed while I told her all she needed to know about her earthly life she attended to so briefly.
The sun came up behind me this morning. I could feel it through the window as I was still in a semi-trance like state and it felt like a gentle hug from the daughter who requires so little but gives so much.
Thank you Emma Grace for your constant attention and occasional nudges to share some quality mother / daughter time.
May you feel the hugs and kisses of your heavenly angel surrounding you with the calm of an integrated soul.
A similar soul,
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
"How am I doing this" I asked myself, "Am I somehow degrading Emma's memory by not attending to memories and tears with the devoted focus I used to?" This is a question I think we all ask ourselves at many points in our grieving roads. How much is too much? When is enough? What actions fall short of memorializing "properly".
What I realized is I am thrown by my ability to function and find myself yearning (in some small non-heart tearing way) for just a bit of the countdown I used to employ to save me from myself.
So I am having a countdown - starting today. It will act as yet another way for me to observe my progress and celebrate the relationship Emma and I have developed. Join me if you like! It is like that friend that you know who doesn't just celebrate her birthday on "the" day, but drags it on for a whole week! I have decided to post a tribute to Emma on each descending day, a trinket of our journey from start to present.
September 2nd - Day 6 - "Emma's First Birthday"
I sufferred over how to speak of this day. I worried over the terminology and if I was supposed to bow my head when I said, "the memory of our daughter's birth" or "the anniversary of our daughter's death". But then I got mad and said, "NO! She died, inside me on September 6th. That would be the anniversary her her death. SEPTEMBER 8TH IS HER BIRTHDAY!"
So I began planning a, well - "rememberance" was the best word I could come up with. Remember, I was only 12 months removed from handing over my beautiful creation to a nurse. I certainly could not call it a celebration, but knew I NEEDED a gathering on that day to feed my ever breaking soul.
I was mentally prepared for Saturday, September 8th, but completely unprepared for Friday September 7th. The pain and memory hit me like a lead weight. I could barely breath.
I attempted work, became a useless puddle on the floor, and returned home where I didn't leave my bed for the entirity of the day and through the night.
Finally, on Saturday morning I roused and we joined our family at Emma's grave. We played her song. We spoke of her and the ways she had shown herself to us in her first year. We cried - oh how we cried! Then, we let go of balloons, each with a personal message written inside, just for her. I broke down entirely when her father let go of his red balloon last, yet it reached heaven first. It is a tradition we maintain to this day (minus the balloons - they were only for the first year). We have many traditions - I will share them with you sometime.
For today - Trust your inner voice when it says "act" and the outcome may overwhelm you.
A similar soul,
Monday, September 1, 2008
In the raw stages of our grief just after losing a child we are shred, unable to participate in any of the world's activities, important or mundane. We don't fit in and when we try we seem to lose layer after layer of ourselves to the effort. Emma's first birthday was like a time portal, I was shot back to the actual event, and worse to the preceeding day and forced to live each stage of the finding out, denial, labor, delivery, saying goodbye, burying her ..etc all over again.
The second, third and fourth years weren't much better. Truly, you didn't want to be near me in the last part of August or the first two weeks of September because there was no telling what would trigger me causing full on emotional breakdown whereever I happened to be.
But here I am, eight years later, listening to inspirational music on my mp3 player and preserving food for the upcoming winter with Emma's anniversary looming, but I am ok. I will not tell you that I don't see those images on a daily basis. I do. I see them because it is September but also because I am writing a book about Emma, our bond, our story and the powerful truths I learned to get to this healing point. To do this I have to recall these scenes in great detail. So yes, I do see them, but they don't hold the same power over me that that used to. In fact, I have taken control of them. I use them to remember her face and the feel of her body pressed against mine as we cuddled together after delivery. I use them to smile when Bear (my five year old) weeds Emma's burning bush and talks to her about our life here, just like I did all those years ago. I guess there was no need, she is still here.
This, it seems, is a big year. The buzz around the world... 8 is a powerful number. I don't know about the world, but it appears that eight years is a very powerful number for my grieving process. Wherever you are in your process, not measured in years, but in your heart and in your "trigger threshold", God bless you and may you continue to walk, one step at a heartbreaking time, down your grieving road toward celebration.
First - A little about me. My name is Cara and I have three beautiful daughters. Two are in the next room negotiating sharing the crayons and one is gently resting in heaven preparing for her 8th birthday.
Emma Grace is my first child. Her birthday is September 8th, 2000. She is one of approximately 26,000 stillborn babies that year.
After three years of heavy, intense grieving and four more proving to me that grief never leaves but shifts and morphs allowing me to integrate both worlds, I can say with certainty, Emma Grace is my guiding light and my inspiration who consistently pushes me to expand my vision of the world, the innerworkings of my heart and is now asking me to reach out and build these bridges between me and you and between you and someone else. I pray these bridges bring hope for the future.
This is a place for anyone who has felt the loss of a child. Treat this as a communication haven regardless of how or when you felt your loss. My definition of loss: miscarriage at any stage, still birth regardless of week gestation, infant death at any month, and loss of a child even if your child was all grown up. For me they all hold the same root of devestation. None are more profound or more "easily" dealth with than another.
Welcome Mothers, Fathers, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Friends and anyone else who needs an ear...
Please come with an open heart.
Please cry if you need to.
Please connect with others who are in your same space.
Please email me if you feel led to
Please comment so we know what you need
Please tell your story
A similar soul,
I will expand on the mission of this site in my next post, but I hear your first is just an announcment - so consider Building Heavenly Bridges "announced"