Friday, April 17, 2009

out of character

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm just not that into memorials or mementoes or anniversaries. Part of it is my cold, flinty, two-sizes-too-small heart. And part of it is self-protection. Because sometimes, if you ignore a problem that you just can't deal with, it really does go away. Or at least dwindles to a manageable size.

Which means that these days, I must be a little less afraid of being overwhelmed by my feelings, because on Saturday, May 9th, 2009, I'm planning to drive all the way to Springfield, Vermont to take part in a walk for hope and remembrance for people who have been touched by the loss of a baby.

So, two questions: First, anyone want to meet me there? And, second, should I leave my real live baby at home?

eta: Take a look at the comments for some very thoughtful (and widely varying) responses.


Meg said...

I am not baby lost. But, from everything I've read, I'd say that you may want to leave the baby at home. If it would make even one mother's day worse to see him, I think it's worth it to leave him.

On the other hand you may give any mother's who've lost their children some hope to see that they may, too, have a living child in their future. But, it's going to be an emotional day, so maybe leave him.

I think it's great that it's great that you're doing this. The past 2 years my friends and I have done the Relay for Life walk for he American Cancer Society. My dear friend that I grew up with lost her battle with cancer almost 3 years ago. It's a wonderful thing to just focus on her for those 2 days. I think you'll enjoy your walk.

Heather said...

We had our Walk to Remember back in October. I was six months out from my baby's death. There were a lot (A LOT) of small children there. I had mixed feelings about it. If you do bring your baby, I'm sure there will be others there. That said, I think I would have preferred to have it be parents only.

Deshaine said...

remember how you felt being around your own family with children the age of the twins.

Julie said...

I would love to meet you there.

sweetsalty kate said...

At the Walk to Remember in Edmonton, there were tons and tons of kids running around, babies in strollers and slings. It was beautiful. It was a testament to families continuing to grow despite loss, and then coming together to honour *all* the souls that comprised their family.

It felt entirely right and good and in the context of the walk, you know that every family you see has experienced what you have - and so you're much less likely to resent them for their children than you might in mixed company.

I hope you have a lovely day of it - I was amazed at how spirited and healing and moving it was.

Donna said...

You don't ask easy questions do you? I agree with both sides of the issue. It's great to see families who have survived and blossomed after a loss. But I know that it has taken me more than a year to be able to say that. just a few short months ago I would have said no way - don't bring a baby without thinking twice. So I guess it really depends on how important it is to you to have your child there.

Elizabeth said...

I have never, ever, ever heard a woman who has experienced the loss of a baby or pregnancy, or infertility, say that it gave her "hope" to see other people's babies. I think it's a given that it will cause other people pain to see him. But, if it's likely that a whole bunch of other people are going to be bringing their babies and small children, then what harm could it do to add just one more? I'd second what Donna said, that you should decide based on how YOU feel about having him there. Because not taking him won't really prevent other people from experiencing extra sadness.

Ellie said...

Well, it gives me hope to see babies!

The existence of somebody else's baby does not cause me pain; the loss of my babies causes me pain.

If it were me, if I were so blessed as to have a baby at a time when I was participating in such a walk, I would bring my baby.

Maggie said...

I think it depends on how you feel about bringing your baby. There are some that will be hurt at the fact that there will be children there, when they are so devastated by the absence of theirs. But even with yours at home, there will still be others.

I think that Cole has been an important part of your healing, and I would think that it seems fitting that he start to know at an early age just how very wanted and important he was to his parents.

Wabi said...

I have to respectfully disagree with Elizabeth. It gave *ME* hope to see healthy children in the wake of my own loss.

Also, I just went to the website of the walk sponsors and note that the topic of conversation for April's meeting is children/sibling grief. So obviously that group isn't a place where mention of living children is verboten.

I say bring Cole along.

Dalene said...

I'm considering going to Cara's VT walk. If I go, I'll be bringing my 7 mos. pregnant belly with me--I have no choice in that matter. I went to a walk in October, which was 6 mos. out from my son's death. There were tons of babies and small children there. Those were the only babies I could tolerate seeing because the assumption was that they were born after a previous baby died. Those parents and babies gave me hope. And many of the tributes to dead babies in the program listed all family names, including names of little brothers or little sisters of the dead baby. I liked that the parents integrated all of their children together, living or not.

Melissia said...

After my daughter died it was only the sweet smell of newborns that I could stand, or the sound of children laughing as they played together. I used to treasure opportunities to gather with other families like mine, missing a child, but still struggling to go on with life, like I was. I think that each person knows their own limits and what they can stand, and will take comfort where they find it. Bring him if you want, to honor his siblings.

Rachel said...

I'd leave the baby at home, without a doubt.

Just like now that I'm pregnant again, I never, ever rub my belly in public, and when people engage me in conversation regarding my belly in a public place I try to reply to them softly. Because, while I know that some people take joy in others' good fortune, I don't expect anyone else to be any better than I was.

And I hated them all.

Not everyone there is going to have the option of "hope". Some of them are at the end of their reproductive roads. Some of them are out of time, out of money, out of energy.

You can't spare everyone all of the time, but you can spare them this, now.

And I'm not linking this reply to my journal, because I wouldn't want my friends to know just how easy it is for me to get back to that bitter place.

Bon said...

cool about the walk.

there was a point at which pregnant women were sharp as knives for me, and other people's babies caused pain in many situations...but only if the parents appeared oblivious to their own good fortune, appeared to take it for granted. at a Walk to Remember, i'd assume that wasn't the case, so the other babies wouldn't hurt in the same way. but that's just me.

m said...

I'd love to meet you there, you know if it wasn't for the whole other hemisphere thing....

I know that in the year following the death of my babies every baby I saw stabbed me in the rawest bits, but as time wore on I was kind of numb to it. So, I'm of no use to you whatsoever.


painted maypole said...

oooh... that's a hard question. the real live baby may be hard for some people to see, but it also indicates hope and love.

think about yourself, before Cole. How would you have felt about a mother there with a real live baby?

Aurelia said...

Depends on the event. Why not ask the organizers?

Just because at our bereavement group, we have some events that young kids are NOT welcome at and we are very blunt about it. Teens yes, younger no way.

At other events, like our walk to remember or butterfly picnic we invite children specifically because some people are going through secondary loss or IF and their older children sometimes are grieving and those are their ceremonies to grieve at.

We figured that if people were warned there were kids or no kids ahead of time, that we would just leave it up to them to decide.

I am glad you are going by the way. Very glad.

Kristin said...

If Vermont wasn't such a long drive away, I'd be there.

flutter said...

heck no, you take that real baby with you!

Betty M said...

I think I would take the baby but then I am the woman who liked seeing toddlers in the infertility clinic as it gave me confidence that the process could actually work and people could think of siblings so perhaps I am not a great example.

I haven't seen such a loss walk over here - I would go if there was. I will look out for one.

Jill said...

I've been to three walks, one without a live baby and two with. While it hurt to see all the little ones the first year (and there were a lot of them), every time I saw a baby it hurt. But I never once thought that these people should have left their babies at home. The walk was for families to remember, and families includes children. Basically, this is a long way of saying, take the baby.

Christine said...

what is your instinct as a mother? go with that. if you need the baby to be with you or her needs to be with you then by all means bring him.
wish i could--swing by and pick me up on the way? ;-P


Angela said...

I think it's really cool that you're going and YES I'd love to go with you, but Vermont is a bit too long of a drive from Ohio.

And I'm no help at all on whether or not you should leave Cole at home, as I can't even make up my mind for myself. Good luck with that one.

And for the record, I agree with Elizabeth: never have I ever looked at someone else's child and felt hopeful. Can their kid bring my baby back to life? No? Well then what do they have to do with me except remind me of what I have lost forever?

But to each her own.

Artblog said...

Really good question, I have no idea what I would do, it depends who wanted to meet me I suppose?

So, going with my gut, no I wouldn't personally, unless you can't find a babysitter that day ;)

And I've already had the privilege of meeting you though I am still waiting for another visit this time from the both of you :)

Artblog said...

Although... Elizabeth's answer is pretty good :)

sarai said...

In my opinion, tending to my living baby would just be a distraction from why I am there.

I agree that probably loads of people will bring babies, and one more won't really hurt anyone. But it may impact the number of people and who you interact with. My living babies both took a fair amount of time and energy. Energy that I then wouldn't have to try to connect with people. And bringing a baby would automatically eliminate talking to a fair number of newly bereaved.

I don't think it would be bad if you bring him. But it's possible you might get more out of it, and others get more out of having you there, if you don't.


Bluebird said...

Living babies always hurt me. It is so, so hard to look at them and know that I should have two of my own. That said, I think that it would be okay, and even good, to take Cole.

I know its not the exact same thing, but you know DH and I are going to the Preeclampsia Foundation Awareness Walk, right? The #1 thing that almost kept me from going, and the thing that I am honestly dreading, is all the children running around. It is purely a family friendly event. But, DH has convinced me that it's different when the children's parents have gone through what you've gone through; when there's that common bond. To look around and know that those children are here despite preeclampsia. Or, in your case, for others to look at Cole and know that you have not for a minute taken him for granted and that you, too, have experienced pain. That makes it different and more bittersweet than painful.

I hope you enjoy the walk :)

Sarah said...

take the baby if it will be meaningful to you to have him there. take him if he helps hold you up, gives you strength, or if it means something to you to include him in honoring the siblings he didn't meet. take him if you think in hindsight you might wish you had. don't take him if you feel like facing it on your own would be more meaningful, or if solidarity with the other moms is important to you, or if you just want to be sure you give yourself the chance to let this be about the twins.

my totally unsupported guess is that if he goes with you, you may be amazed by something wonderful someone else who has faced a loss says about what seeing him means. or maybe it's just a certain look or a smile. but who knows.

mama said...

I want to encourage you to bring your sweet miracle along with you Niobe. I would love to meet you there, but our local SHARE walk is the same day! So glad your going to go. =)

mama said..., at our local SHARE walk, there are plenty of subsequent babies present, so you shouldn't feel that yours can't be there with you. =)

Karin said...

I'd definitely meet you there. So wish I could! But Australia is a long way away!!

To bring baby or not. I would try to not think too much about what others will need (I know that sounds selfish) and primarily think about what you may need from the event.

We have brought our son to events like this. We've done so because it's important to us to participate as a family in the act of remembering. It's not that I don't clearly remember how painful it was to see the babies and children, I do. Yet just as my grief is not about those families, so too is my family not about anothers grief.

It's all painful. I'm unsure if there is any way to assuage it. There is no one-size-fits-all so the best course of action is to follow your needs. Perhaps if you do bring the baby, bring along a support person who could take the baby should you wish to talk with newly bereaved parents.

Elizabeth said...

I am happy to stand corrected! And realizing that I shouldn't try to speak for other people. I guess the range of comments here shows that there are no hard and fast rules or absolutes about grieving. What Karin said makes a lot of sense to me.

Tash said...

I have half a mind to travel there just to see you!

Hmm. I'm actually in a place now where babies hurt me way worse than pregnant women (who pretty much just scare the shit out of me). HAVING SAID THAT, I've now attended three memorial services at Children's where people bring their babies/kids -- and I bring Bella, because she lost a sister -- and I really don't even notice. I'm so focussed on everyone's loss that I kinda see through them. I guess in that situation I realize that even the babies around me lost something, too. I get where the parents are, happy to have what they do, bereft over what they don't. In some crazy overturned way it all makes sense. In the end I say screw others, and do what makes sense to you and what feels right to you.