Friday, March 9, 2007

the worst mom in the world

I've read so many blogs of mothers who've lost their babies and it strikes me forcibly (kind of like a cold hand gripping at what's left of my heart) that we all mourn in such different ways. It seems like most bereft mothers want to acknowledge their child as a person, to refer to the baby by name, to share pictures and memories.

Me, well, let's put it this way. Only one person (I think) knows my daughter's name and I've forbidden him to ever mention it again. No-one knows my son's name and I plan to keep it that way. I feel so much more comfortable referring to the babies as "the twins" or, if I'm just talking about my daughter, as "it," not "her." I've thrown out everything that reminds me in any way of the twins and I've asked the hospital to destroy any pictures or momentos that they might have kept (although who knows if they've complied).

I've even made a real effort not to learn the exact date my daughter was born, because I don't want to have to think about her birthday/deathday.

Go ahead, tell me that I'm not normal. 'Cause, honestly, I don't think that my response is, to put it mildly, the most, uh, usual reaction for a mother to have.


Catherine said...

There is no "normal" in any of this. You just find your own way to make it through. Try to be gentle with yourself and try not compare yourself to others. Only you can say how you need to grieve in order to survive.

JuliaKB said...

I have been thinking about writing this for a while. I guess I needed the invitation.

We all grieve in different ways. I look at pictures of my son a lot. My husband never does. There is no right way or wrong way, I think-- only what helps you.

And that is the real issue-- it's not necessarily what is easier, but rather what is most helpful in the long run. What helps you to heal the best, to find the new normal. We will never be the same as we were just a few short months ago. But I try to look forward to the day when my son is, as Cecily said, a shadow on my heart, rather than a huge ragged tear.

So I think there is no right or wrong. I can tell you why I do what I do, and what brings me comfort, but I can't say if these things would help you.

I don't know you at all, and this is probably incredibly presumptuous of me, but I worry about you (since, you know, wondering over here from Cecily's on Wednesday. So for the whole three days now). And not the least because of your rabbi situation. I hope you will consider talking to mine. When I left you a comment on the Rosh Hashana post, I just registered, and didn't realize my email wasn't in the profile. It's there now, so please email me if you want to talk about rabbis or anything else...

delphi said...

I am with Catherine (one of the wisest women I know of). There is no normal.

Thank you for your comment on my blog and thank you for the profound words that you are sharing through your blog.

kari said...

you sound a lot like me. after my daughter was stillborn at 38 weeks, i could not look at her pictures, hear her name, or bear to be reminded of her loss in anyway. i put all of her things away in what was to be the nursery and didn't open the door for an entire year. i could not go anywhere near baby aisles in grocery stores, even if it meant foregoing coffee or something else i really needed. i couldn't stand to see babies, pregnant women or even small children. then i got pregnant again and i expected all that to change. it didn't. i still can't stand to see pregnant women, altho babies i'm a little better about. i forced myself to look at pictures of my firstborn on her first birthday, but i was sick and cried all day and they are now back in the closet, possibly forever. so i guess i'm saying, you're not unusual. i, too, thought i was a bad deadbaby mom because i avoided all thoughts of my baby while other women in my situation were framing pictures and hanging them in the living room. i guess there's at least two of us who deal with it differently.

vixanne wigg said...

My situation is a little different because I don't have any pictures. Feel free to e-mail if you want details. I'd rather not write them here. But honestly. I'm sort of glad. The more time that passes, the more it all seems like a bad dream--which I guess is sad in some ways. But I think it's healthy too.

I don't think the choices you've made are strange. Everyone deals with loss in different ways. You may feel differently in two years, five years...or you may not.

Sara said...

Everyone else has said what I would say, but I just wanted to confirm that we all do this in our own way. I didn't grieve my miscarriage the way "What to Expect" and my sister told me I would. I worried more about whether me or my husband had some chromosomal issue or something. I think my sister thought I was a bit heartless, unaffected by it, but that could hardly have been less true.

With Natan, I don't know why I talk about him, and call him by his name. I just need to, for me. It probably weirds out people in real life, for whom pregnancy and childbirth means live babies and healthy, happy mommies. And so to protect myself, I only do it in front of people I really trust. Perhaps you're protecting yourself in some way?

Honestly, what on earth could be the "usual reaction?" And I hope that you don't believe the title of your post describes you.

I have so appreciated the posts you've put on my blog but I hate that we're all out here in the blogosphere.

niobe said...

I appreciate everyone's comments on this post. The title is, well, kind of a joke, but as we all know, there really are no such thing as jokes.

I'm especially "happy," if that's the right word, to hear about people with reactions somewhat similar to mine. I've just read so many sites about dealing with the loss of a newborn and seen the way that so many mothers react -- and, honestly, very few of them seem to share my feelings or reactions.

Not that, you know, there's anything wrong with that. But I think there's a certain comfort in being able to say "Yes, that's exactly how I feel too" and a corresponding sense of self doubt that creeps in when you have to keep saying "But that's not the way I feel at all."

Aurelia said...

Late responding here, but Niobe, can I just say that I hope you are open to the possibility that your emotions may change over time?

Some women do exactly what you have done...years pass and they change their minds and decide to look at photos or say names out loud, or have a service. I'm not saying any choice in there is right or wrong, but honestly, over the last 8 years in my support group I've seen and heard of every variation.

Hospitals keep photos for precisely that reason...because there are women who come back and ask for photos after ordering them destroyed, literally 20 years later according to one nurse I know.

And because there is a remote chance that someday you will change your mind, I really hope they kept something.

It's not about normal or abnormal I think, it's about dealing with what you can in the moment.

niobe said...

Aurelia, of course you're absolutely right. It's impossible for me to predict with any degree of accuracy how I'll feel tomorrow, let alone a year from now.

Monica said...

Like pp write, you do what you have to do to get by. No one who hs read more than three entries of your blog would question your love for your babies.

Anonymous said...

niobe, i have never lost a child, but i did lose a sister and a pregnancy at 10 weeks. i speak of neither. i told no one my daughters name. for me, some things are so painful they are unspeakable; some things are so intimate they are not meant to be shared; words only tear open a barely healed wound. we are all different, and we are all human.
heal however you can, and to whatever extent you can.

Kami said...

I am sure it was well over a year before I referred to our son as anything but "the baby". When I first used it with a friend, she didn't know who I was talking about. Grief comes in all flavors. You need to grieve in your own way and in your own time.