Saturday, October 15, 2011

Everything Touched Is Changed

Five years ago, October 15th was just another day.  It didnt hold any significance to me, or at least, none that I recognized.  I had lost a pregnancy many years before, but it was a private grief.  Something I held close to my chest.  I knew people miscarried babies, that babies were stillborn or died soon after birth, but I didnt know.  Not really.  October 15th?  What's so special?  Middle of my favorite month of the year- yay!  Halloween is around the corner!

Four years ago, October 15th was around the starting time of my ovulation induction schedule.  Ah... the memories of those FSH injections... The every-other-day follicle ultrasounds.... The hope that I would be able to have a baby at the end of the cycle, assuming my body actually ovulated and things went as planned...  Turns out, things did go as planned and October 27th saw us conceiving Nicholas and Sophia...  It was a good year.

Three years ago, I was blogging (although I didnt blog on the 15th).  I was mourning Nicholas and Sophia.  I was pregnant with Alexander.  And I knew the significance of October 15th- and on several levels.  I had had a second miscarriage earlier in the year.  I had come to know my grandmother's story of loss on a deeper level.  I was hopeful that my pregnancy with Alexander would go well, heartbroken that 8 months had passed since Nicholas and Sophia's births and deaths, and in a place of flux.  I knew I wasn't alone in orphaned parenthood, but I still felt so empty... so lost... so, well, alone.  I'd been blogging only a short time, but the community was opening up to me and, in that, I began to see just what hidden epidemics the loss of children and infertility are.

Two years ago, I blogged about the day and lit candles.  I was busy "NICU raising" Bobby and Maya who were a month old (and only gestationally 32 weeksish). 

In my heart, I knew this date.  I knew the hurt...  The fact that my children who were gone weren't coming back... That one day I would have to tell Bobby and Maya that...  The feelings of hurt mixed with failure and anguish.  I knew that I wasnt alone.  But I was tired.  Tired of the grief.  Tired of not feeling like it would ever be good enough. Tired of everything and wishing, so badly, that I could have them all with me and just bypass the loss.  But realizing, even then, that that dream was impossible... and always had been.

Candles lit... Prayers said... Hearts still broken...

Last year, we were getting ready to move.  It was a busy time as we were 2 weeks from settlement on our house and trying to get everything together.  Reading back over my post, I can still remember writing the words.  The realization of what life meant... Of what being happy in my life for all that it was (and is) meant (and still means)...  The ache and the joy, forever intertwined.  The knowledge that I would trade my very soul for the ability to look into those smiles for just one second...
I'd turned over a new leaf in my own rebirth by that time, too.  The changes that had taken place in me physically- and by my own accord for the most part- had taken me to the brink of self destruction weight-wise and I'd decided to make a change for the good of my children- those who want me around to take care of them for decades to come and those who dont want our souls to mingle in the Otherland for those same decades!  It was also around the time that the impact of knowing each of us who has been touched by loss is forever changed and that we have the choice to make that change a positive one or a negative one at the end of the day.  I cant bring my children back... I cant change the fact that they were miscarried or born too soon to survive and that they died.  I cant change the fact that Bobby and Maya got jipped on their wombtime.  But I was beginning to see that I could change me.  I could make their lives mean something.  I could make their impact as positive as I could.  Lighting their candles that year, made a difference... 

And so, here we are.  October 15, 2011.  A new year... A new place...  Since last year, we've had another miscarriage, bringing that total to 4.  We had a failed adoption.  We've watched the calendar turn on 3 and a half years since Nick and Sophie were born, and almost 3 years since Alex was born.  Bobby and Maya have turned (gulp) 2...  Life is sweet in so many ways.  Mending Heart Bellies became my way of putting my life into focus.  I've completed my coursework to become a certified doula and am just working on my births, and I've almost completed my CBE coursework.  My lifestyle is so different from where it has been for most of my adult life.  I've gone from a size 20 to a size 8.  (I cant believe I'm actually writing that I was a size 20... It's true, but still...)  Life is...honestly, pretty darn good. 

That being said: it still hurts.  All of this, it hurts.  Knowing Bobby and Maya are our only living children out of the nine children who have been in my womb.  Knowing that I may never enjoy an "infancy" period again or that Bobby and Maya may never know what it is like to be a "big" sibling.  It hurts... It hurts to know, time and time again, that happy endings aren't guaranteed (and, apparently, arent statistically probable in this lifetime).

But.  (And it's a big but).  I'm happy.  I'm happy that, in the loss and grief, I've met so many other parents on this journey and that we've found friendship and compassion.  I'm happy that I've been able to have MHB come out of this.  I'm happy that my doula and CBE training helped me support my sister (who delivered her first child, a sweet baby girl named in memory of our sweet Sophia) yesterday.  I'm happy that I'm their mother- every single one of them.  I'm happy that Peter and I are able to remember our children and share in those memories (and in holding one another up). 

I'm so happy that each of them- Nicholas, Sophia, Alexander... Peter, Dimitri, Zoe, Grace...- lived, even if it was only in my womb.   I'm happy that I had the priviledge of carrying Bobby and Maya, even if they only had 2 trimesters inside instead of 3.  I'm happy that we've had the opportunities to look into adopting Patricia and Annie, and sweet little Zaire of recent memory, even if their adoptions didnt work out. 

Today, I'm remember all that was... What might of been... And what is.  Your babies and mine.  You and I... All of us, and all that we will see together on this journey.  And, before I cantor the Mass this evening, I'll be lighting a candle for all the sweet little ones for whom we have the distinction of being their parents.


Hillary said...

Thinking and praying for you this weekend!

lots of love


Baby Smiling In Back Seat said...

Thinking of all of you...

Congratulations on the birth of your niece. How wonderful that you could support your sister during the birth.

Jo said...

Hi Michele,

I've been following your blog for about a year now. When I first found you, I went right back to your first post and then read every single one after that. I cried. A lot. And was amazed and astounded by your strength and courage in what must have been remarkably difficult times. I have found you to be so incredibly honest and frank about how you feel about your children (all of them) and how you deal with your loss every day.

I have a daughter who is a few months younger than Bobby and Maya, and recently suffered my first miscarriage. When it happened, I was struck by an overwhelming sense of loss and immediate anger and grief to an extent I could never have imagined. I blamed myself and have had real trouble coming to terms with the fact that I'm part of the 'club' now and that there are pregnant women everywhere with my due date, some of whom didn't even want to be pregnant :-(

Although I have now very fortunately discovered a BFP (and am desperately hoping for a good outcome), I wanted to thank you. Profusely. For all of your thoughts on the grieving process and on your continual struggle with life after loss. I'm just now realising (and accepting) that I, too will need to continue my grieving process for a long time. And that it's okay to give that baby a name (which I have). And that it's okay to love this new baby and that doesn't mean that I've forgotten about what will always be my second child.

Thank you. From the other side of the world, you have helped me more than many of my friends and family.

Thank you Michele.

All the very best,