Why is it when you get a handful of moms together that the conversation so often turns to birth experience?

Why does this have to be?

If I hadn’t lost my baby, I would love talking about birth. But among new friends I cannot talk about my first birth and my second birth when they see me there with only one child. I do not want to tell them that my baby died. I just want to talk about his birth…because that is a very big piece of what little I have of him and I want to talk about his birth and share my experiences too.

And women are compelled…even among good friends, who all know how I lost River, the conversation passionately turns to birthing experience, and then, I wish, and I feel, like they should know better. I mean, how insensitive is that? One of your best friends gushing over the new birth of another friend’s baby and pressing about how wonderful birth is??? I mean, isn’t that over the top? And am I really here right now? Being subjected to this conversation? When you all know… that birth is not wonderful for me…

I have felt that I must be silent, forever, every time the subject of birth arises among women. Both among women I know, and women I don’t, alike. I will have to stand in silence, holding back my thoughts and feelings. I know, because I have tried to talk about his birth, among friends, as if, there was no elephant in the room. But it doesn’t work.

I will never be able to share my birth stories without something missing, and not just something, but, the love of my life, my baby, my son.

I will never be able to share like one of these other women. To share fully of my birth experience without the filter of loss…I will never be able to just share my birth experiences.

And why does it have to be that way when you get mothers together…?

Because:

Birthing, is profound. A profound and singular experience, birth. And that those midwives took that away from me and my son – took away my profound happiness, my profound motherhood – and left me instead a profound loss beyond imagine…

I must somehow communicate the magnitude of the profundity, somehow communicate the magnitude of profound loss… Birth is profound, and to lose your child and have to birth him into the world and not have him – not be able to keep him – is unspeakable.

You cannot imagine.

I think there’s something every day. Issues, issues, ah the issues I have…

This morning when Sweetie woke up she pointed to my son’s ashes in the bedroom high up on a shelf. I squinted at her and told her, “River’s ashes,” but today I didn’t know what else to say.

Yesterday pushing Sweetie in the stroller, we had to circumnavigate the abortion activists with their horrible signs, and the “life is a beautiful choice” thing. “LIFE.” It kills me every time they’re out there and I see them. They protest a lot. Don’t they know how many babies are stillborn in this country!? One in every one hundred and fifteen. Why aren’t they out there protesting that!? Don’t they know that midwives killed my baby? Why aren’t they out there protesting that!? Don’t they know that those signs just cut into our hearts – those of us who have lost babies – those of us who wanted our babies so badly and they were ripped away from us!? Why do they have to stand out there with those heart-wrenching signs? Don’t they know how they are pouring searing acid in our eyes and noses and hearts and mouths and gaping wounds?

After we avoided the lifers (as I call them), Sweetie played with Mila. River would be the same age as Mila. Mila and River resided within pregnant bellies side-by-side in prenatal yoga at Breathing Room, Mila in Winter’s belly, River in mine. Mila was born, and River died. Then, as Mila grew, I was pregnant again for another year with Sweetie. It has been hard for me to see Winter and Mila, but Mila was with her daddy yesterday and somehow that was easier. Winter is pregnant.

Jennie is pregnant too. My daughter and Jennie’s son were born a few days apart, six weeks and a year after River died. Jennie had a son. That is hard for me. Jennie is pregnant again. That is hard for me too. I know I should be happy for these people, but these things just push my loss into my face. I do not have my son. I am not pregnant again. I am a mother of two who is mothering one.

Everyday it’s something… something that tears at me every day. I don’t have my son, I don’t have my son, I don’t have my son.

Everyday I see Sweetie grow and learn and change and I wonder and wonder and learn what I am missing with my son. We see other boys out in the world and I learn and I wonder what I am missing. I see what was taken away from me – from my husband – from us – our family. Our family was taken from us. -and from my daughter…

Everyday we learn.

We see a two-year-old and learn what we may be doing in a parallel universe.

Many nights I can’t sleep. Ever since my son died I fear that my loved ones will die in their sleep.

Night-time is scary.

I lay awake, stiff, listening to my husband breathe. I put my hand on him and feel him breathing. I shake him when the terror clutches me and I think he has stopped breathing. I get up and check on the dog. I shake him too sometimes. Once, when I was pregnant with my daughter, my poor dog…he was so sound asleep and not moving that he scared the dickens out of me – I shook him and shook him in utter fear and crying – but he was fine – just asleep… very very soundly. And my daughter – I usually hold her while she naps (in fact, she is napping in my lap right now); and all night, I listen to her breathe or have her close so that I can feel her moving. Will I ever be able to let her sleep on her own?

I want to be there for her when she stirs, if she needs me, if she wants me…

I don’t want her to be afraid.

This summer I have been offered a job at a private school. My daughter, who is now one, would have the opportunity to play and learn with the children at the school as part of the new infant program, while I put some time in the logs in-house. It sounds wonderful – a wonderful opportunity, but I just can’t seem to let her go, even for a minute, while I go next door and log onto the computer. The position was supposed to be flexible over the summer and then this fall, they would need me at least one full day each week, maybe two, but I don’t know if I am going to be able to do it. We tried, kindof, one day… but I just couldn’t trust, and I couldn’t leave her. I couldn’t bear the separation, the anxiety; I couldn’t bear to let her cry, I couldn’t bear to sneak away or be without her for even a minute; I couldn’t trust the teachers to not feed her wheat.

My heart holds and clutches. I just can’t let her go – I mean…I lost him…so how could I possibly let her out of my sight!

River’s birthday was bright and beautiful, but days were so dark until then.

A terrible smooshup of hard times and dark days piled up before River’s birthday.

Six weeks of pain and misery lead up to the anniversary of his death.

Depression and heartache, coping and dealing…

But his birthday was bright and beautiful, windy and melancholy.

River would be two years old now.

I learned last week of a friend of a friend who lost a baby this month. We were supposed to have tea today but a storm and icy roads will keep us apart. She is in the throws of it.

Like drowning, first you are underwater, inhaling. But this is not right. This is not natural.

Then, emerging, choking and sputtering and sinus stinging, throat, stinging…

Then, on the surface, tossed in the waves, unable to see anything but peak and trough…

Eventually, you are washed ashore, weak, and waterlogged, or you pretend everything is ok by swimming…

But land looks different now because you understand water-speak. Your limbs won’t walk, you are used to thrashing. The world is deafeningly quiet and still. You have a black hole in your chest where your heart used to be and you may implode at any moment into the cosmos within – where your child is..?

In some world, maybe we have a faint blue glow – those of us who know – so that we can identify each another – those of us who have lost a child.

This post is dedicated to those of whom their loss is fresh – you who are choking and being tossed at sea – that you may see us with our soft blue glow, mothers of lost children, our love is deep and endless… I am so sorry for your loss. I am so sorry that you must feel these things, and feel this pain; but I do hope that you will just feel it… be there in the moment and feel… be… be and become with it…

My daughter’s hair is growing and it makes me miss my son. Her hair feels like his, so soft and course at the same time.

We have a tiny snip of his hair. I don’t think they took one of hers. There is so little to compare. Dead newborn baby with live sister growing. If we did her hand prints and foot prints now they would be bigger. And she wouldn’t cooperate anyhow I imagine.

How many times can I realize that he will never grow.

His ashes remain on a shelf where I can see them when I sleep. -his picture, where I can see it when I get dressed in the morning.

When I look into my daughter’s eyes I see and wonder what his would be. Would they be blue-grey like hers, like mine? Maybe they would be brown or green or hazel. Why do we wonder what color our dead babies eyes would be…? I wonder what he would be saying. I wonder whether he would be hitting his sister, or petting her, or playing with her, or trying to teach her something he has learned.

All children are so different. They all have different personalities, they are different people. Who was he? Who was my son? Who would he have become by now…? Who would he be? Who would we be together? How would we be speaking? What silly things would he say and do? How would he amaze me? How would he make me fall in love? Would daddy be happy? Would daddy play with him and take him places?

I love my son – even though he is dead. How can that be? It just is.

Yesterday I found my daughter an angel bear, brand new, exactly like my son’s, for fifty cents. This bear, he just came to me, I don’t know how. I will save him I think, for awhile, until the time is right. Maybe that time will be tomorrow, maybe for River’s birthday this year. Maybe it will be longer, until my daughter will understand more about this angel bear and I can tell her the story of the salty port where River’s bear was found.

I have seen my daughter fix her gaze on River’s angel bear, next to his ashes, although she hasn’t said a word.

But, I want River to have his own angel bear, and I want her to have her own angel bear for River too…

Big brother or older brother, or what? As a writer, a lover of words, and a stickler for semantics, this is the most heart-wrenching word problem. What-oh-what do I tell my little girl?

Is River her big brother? He is not bigger, and will never be bigger…

Is River her older brother? He is not older – or is he? He will never be older than she…

Please, if you love words, and you care to chime in on this most heart-wrenching of puzzles, let me know what you think, because I really don’t know.

We went to some friends’ for Thanksgiving. My husband and I and our new little daughter Rhythm Grey; she is six months now.

I guess I thought they knew… I know Joe knows.

Maybe his wife doesn’t know… I don’t know. But I know that people can know and not know. Sometimes people don’t realize when things hurt. People don’t know all of the little things that make us feel devastated all over again. And I imagine those things are different for every one of us, and that those things are different over time as well.

We were in the kitchen. The kitchen was too small. She and her sister began talking about breasts… breastfeeding, and breast-size following children. I don’t know how it came up. There was champagne. Then she warned me (and this is when I thought to myself – ohmygod she doesn’t know…) -she warned me never to leave my daughter alone for a day, lest she refuse the breast, and wean all-of-a-sudden, cold-turkey if you will… and I thought, ohmygod, she must not know. I froze. My heart was in my throat. I wanted to die. Please no, not now, don’t do this… my zen milk… you have no idea – pain and engorgement, no idea. I know you want to share, but…

The kitchen was too small. I couldn’t run away. I found some other people to talk to for awhile in another room, until that got weird too, and I went back to the kitchen; and then there was turkey.

I was supposed to call her today. We were supposed to get together. But-then there is this sensitive boundary I put up in defense, in those moments I needed to protect myself from that conversation, and I don’t know when I will call her. I’m sorry, but it is easier to hide…

It is like a snag in a sweater, but this time it is in the fabric of my being. I can feel it when I run my hand over…