Saturday, October 31, 2009

Walking the tightrope

People who see me for the first time always ask me how I'm doing (*intense look, head tilted to the side*) What do you say to that? I still don't have a good standard answer. The polite thing to say is "alright thanks". The truth is "up, down, surviving, drowning, glimmers of optimism, chunks of denial, pools of depression, zero motivation, infinite sadness, despair, hopelessness."

Yesterday I had this strange feeling. As I mentioned before, I've been in distraction and avoidance mode lately, and yesterday it felt like this: I remembered again with shock what had happened to this girl I know. This girl I love. She had the most awful thing happen to her and I feel so sad for her. I felt muted shock as I recalled it. That girl is Caz Past. The Old Me. The girl who is no longer here. What a weird feeling. To feel sorry for a past you. To think of yourself in the 3rd person. I guess perhaps I got a glimpse of how others might feel about me. As I allowed myself to think about it more and more the externality of that grief became less. The grief merged back into its rightful place; within Caz Now.

I wonder if there are elements of depression setting in. If I should go speak to a grief counsellor. How would I know? I have mastered the "I still fit in with all of you, lets discuss inane frivolous things" act. I feel an expectation from people to suck it up now. They see the "together" me and think that's my reality, but that's a fraction of it. There is a lack of joy. There is a sick heaviness that never leaves. I think of summer and I feel so so sad. I am dreading summer. I guess its mostly because of how different it was meant to be but also because last summer was one of such adventure - we had an amazing journey - bazaruto, zimbabwe, zambia, it was a time of such joy and excitement all culminating in Sophia's conception near Victoria Falls. This summer takes me somehow further away from Sophia.

Friday, October 30, 2009

that damn sun

The last two weeks I have been kept really busy. I am back at work, I am also now able to exercise so been doing plenty of that. I've allowed myself to just escape in it all. When I have a moment, I swallow it down and get on with something else. Distraction.

But it bubbles there, this grief. It prowls beneath the surface and when I let my guard down, out it creeps.

The other day I walked through The Room Formerly Known As The Nursery. It was mid-morning and the sun was shining through the sliding doors which open out to the garden. It looked so beautiful and warm. A wonderful place for Sophia to rest in.A place I would want to rest in. A place to sit, nursing my baby girl. A place for the two of us.

Something as small as the sun shining in crushed me. The room is no longer a nursery. It is now just a shell. Everything packed away. An empty, echoey room.


So many have you have contacted me either through this blog or seperately to find out if you can donate money to help with the situation. Thank you all for caring.

I don't want to take any money until I know what it can be used for so I will (obviously) keep you guys posted. At this stage I'm not sure how money could help.

What is needed first and foremost is for a home to accept her... so please - those of you who do - pray for that.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

South African Tragedy: Part 5

I should be surprised, but really I'm not.

So Tuesday Kuselwa and Mavis go to the hospital to be with Lily* when she is moved to Sive Nathi. They wait and wait and wait. They are told that when the ambulance driver is ready he will take them. They wait and wait and wait some more. Eventually at 16:30 he is ready but needs the phone number of Sive Nathi before he will leave. The hospital does not have it. The social worker can't be reached. Mavis calls me and i find it for her.
They phone to confirm that Sive Nathi are expecting them. Affirmative.

So? all systems go right?

No. Now the ambulance driver has disappeared. They wait and wait. They ask and are told he will come back. Eventually Mavis leaves to be with her children. Kuselwa waits some more. She ends up spending the night in the chair next to Lily's bed.

I can not believe the complete disregard these people have for this woman. How can you care so little? Even forgetting the fact that they have ruined her life and destroyed her child, it is shocking to treat someone like that. As if her time means nothing. As if her comfort means nothing. She is missing work to be there because they told her to, they don't give a dam.

Eventually yesterday at mid day the ambulance dropped them off at Sive Nathi.

It gets worse.

Sive Nathi looked at Lily and said they can't care for her. She needs medical attention daily, they only have a doctor visit once a week. Surely her condition was communicated before they got there? Before they approved her arrival?

And so Kuselwa and Lily waited and waited again for the ambulance to return and take them back to Stellenbosch Hospital.

False hope is cruel. What choices are left for this child?

I spoke to the social worker today and she reckons that Lily does not need to see a doctor daily at all. If she was ill, sure, but she is not. She thinks everyone is avoiding taking Lily because of the legal issues surrounding her story. They are scared to get involved. How sad is that? Fortunately the social worker has really taken this case to heart and I know that she will do everything in her power to find a place.

* the saddest thing ever. Mavis told me she went to the hospital on the weekend for the first time in a while. She said when she said hallo to Lily, Lily began to cry - silently - then she calmed down. When Mavis said goodbye she began crying again. Also when they were packing her things and preparing to leave the hospital on Tuesday she cried again. It seems that incredibly, she must have some cognicense of what is going on. I'm not sure if this is heartbreaking and hopeful or just plain heartbreaking, but I do know that this little girl absolutely needs to have company, to be spoken to, to be stimulated.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Goals to keep me going

Over the past week or two I set myself a few goals. Goals and deadlines are what make me tick. I'm pretty useless without them.

Goal 1:
Lose all the pregnancy weight and a bit more

I didn't want to stuff around with random diets and eating plans also I need to make sure that my body is a healthy one going forward so I bit the bullet and went to a dietician two weeks ago and signed up at the shmancy new Virgin Active.

I am a week and a half into my new, improved way of eating (basically low GI) and it is a breeze so far. Seeing dietician on Friday so will update you then. Been gymming and spinning and powerplating and hiking and am really loving it at this stage.

Goal 2:
Launch a business
that would:
a) Provide me more freedom to spend time with the Band and future children and to allow me to invest time in people, to be there for people if they need me. for example if a mom finds out that her baby has died and needs to speak to someone, I'd like to be able to go be with her.

b) Provide opportunities for incredible women who currently have none. AKA Mavis's sisters.

c) Provide a decent income and a brand new adventure.

I've got the idea worked out and have been speaking to relevant people about it. For now I just need to muster up the energy. I am so mentally demotivated... really battling to focus on my work too. The Band is trying to help me set small steps and deadlines. Once I get going it's ok, but getting going is tough.

You guys need to help keep me motivated, ok?

Monday, October 26, 2009

South African Tragedy: Part 4

I went to see Lily today over lunch.

Wow. My heart. I can't make peace with what has happened to this beautiful little girl so how on earth can her mom?

The good news is that the social worker has finally found a home that will take Lily in. She says she has been hounding all the homes for months and months but they are all either filled beyond capacity or don't have the facilities to care for a case as severe as Lily.

Anyway, finally a place called Sive Nathi (God hears us in Xhosa) has agreed to take her in. I found this infoon Sive Nathi and it is a bit outdated, but wow. It sounds like a sad story too! People genuinely trying to make a difference with pretty much no support from government. You can check out their website here.

Basically they are at this stage needing R500 per month in order to accomodate Lily. I told the social worker that of course that is fine. Although she was trying to see if she could get the hospital to contribute which I believe they should, on principle!

Anyway, once Lily has been moved there I will try go see it and see what some of the realities are. Will keep you guys posted.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

These are my friends

And suddenly it all started making sense....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Others

One of the really horrible and unexpected results of "the thing that happened to me" has been my reaction to pregnant women and moms with babies*.

I know it's a cliche to say "you feel like you've been punched in the stomach" but that is the precise feeling when I see a pregnant woman. It's not even just seeing them. It's reading on facebook how you are "loving cuddling your baby" and how you "can't believe she's already 3 months old!" that makes me want to vomit. I wonder if this eases over time coz it feels like it is getting stronger. Perhaps only when I am pregnant again myself. But perhaps not even then.

The envy that courses through my body when I see or read such things is hard to describe. I can't say I'd ever genuinely envied before all this. I suppose there were moments of envy, but it would be inconsequential things, this is 100%, full blown envy and it's not pretty.

I scowl. I actually do. Sometimes, if I'm with a friend, I make a joke of it and hiss at the pregnant woman (not so that she can see of course). But the truth is it is not a joke. Even when I'm alone and I see one my face contorts into a grimace. It's not intentional, I don't want to feel this way, I don't want to have no joy left for others, but right now that's who I am. Not proud of it at all.

Pregnant women all look so oblivious, so genuinely carefree and happy. I'll play the psychoanalyst here: perhaps what I despise in them is the resemblence between them and me when I was pregnant.

It sickens me to think how I moaned about being uncomfortable. How I longed for the pregnancy to be over. How I felt sorry for myself!??!?! How I took it all for granted. I hate those parts of my past, pregnant self.

* Randomly there are exceptions to this. Certain people, if they are sensitive toward me or if I can see that they truly know and appreciate how blessed they are, don't upset me. But those women who gush in front of me, or directly to me - and yes, it has happened - about their delight at being pregnant, and those new moms who moan about getting no sleep and being so tired.... they give me violent thoughts.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

90 years and still crying

Last night I spoke to The Band's 90 year old gran, Ouma.

She lost her second baby when she was about 5 weeks old. I had known this via my father in law, but Ouma has never ever spoken about it to him or anyone. Last night she broke that and spoke about it to me.

She said that she still cries for her baby. 60-something years later she cries for her baby and longs for her. She says the pain never ever goes away. Over the years you cry less, but you long for that child all your life. You see a baby and your heart aches - even if you've had other children.

Her baby died 6 September, her anniversary and Sophia's are days apart. I think our loss has been so so hard on her. Sophia is her first great grandchild.

I think of this woman carrying so much pain for so many years. In those days the solution was "you'll have other kids". I suppose there was little understanding and so she carried it all alone. Bottled it all up inside. She never spoke of it to her husband or her children. What a lonely road.

I so appreciated her just speaking straight with me. Everyone tells me it will get better. Here's a woman who has gone through it herself. She warned me: Caz, it doesn't get much better. That is the blunt truth. Don't get me wrong - there is still so much joy and beauty in this life. I would still, on the whole, describe myself as a happy person. But the pain is here to stay and quite frankly, I wouldn't have it any other way. Weird but true.

Ouma said that the first thing she plans on doing when she gets to heaven is finding her girl and mine and telling them how much they are loved.

Guess who's back

back again

(at work)

Day 1 yesterday was not bad. I arrived and my office was full of flowers and chocolates. About a million people came in and gave me hugs from the CEO to the cleaners - which is one of the things I love about where I work, amazing people.
It was intense but ok.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

South African Tragedy: Part 3

Sorry guys. You've asked a few times for an update on Lily and I haven't gotten to it. (For those of you with no idea what I'm on about, check here and here)

The news isn't great. It all went down in June and her condition hasn't changed. About a month ago she was transferred back to Stellenbosch Hospital from Tygerberg Hospital - I guess it's a capacity thing - which isn't great as Stellenbosch is where the bugger up happened in the first place. Mavis, our maid (Lily's aunt) says that the other day her sister noticed that two of Lily's bottom teeth were missing. She asked the nurse and the nurse said perhaps they had been knocked out when they suctioned excess saliva from her mouth. Perhaps I am being paranoid but to me that sounds like they are not exactly being gentle with her... A 2.5 year old's teeth should not be knocked out very easily. It is concerning to me and to Lily's mom of course.

Ah man, the whole thing makes me despair. I can't believe how powerless we really are. The social workers are apparently trying to find some kind of home for Lily to be moved to but apparently they all say that her condition is too bad. I spoke to the Band about Lily coming here to our house (If she ever does have to leave the hospital I can't think that she should go lie in a shack - the risk of infection and other unsafeties is high and scary) but the reality is that she needs to be in a place where there are people all the time. So I guess the waiting continues.

In terms of the lawyers... well they take forever. I think that's just normal with the law process.

Mavis says her sister (Kuselwa - Lily's mom) is really battling. She works 6 days a week and earns a horrific salary. Her work have never once asked about Lily and in the times she has had to rush to the hospital they have shouted at her telling her business is business. No compassion. This poor woman is so alone. My heart breaks for her. What's more is that even Mavis and the rest of the family battle with visiting Lily. It is really hard for them. Mavis says that she feels so bad - she is hardly even asking about Lily and acting like she doesn't care, but it is because she cares too much and it hurts too much. She said that when I went to hospital she was finished and realised she (mavis) wants to go for counselling to deal with what has happened to Lily and to me.

This is such a special family. I wish there was more that I could do. Providing employment for Kuselwa would be a start, but I wish that Lily could at least be given some dignity instead of remaining in the care of the same staff who allowed this nightmare to happen in the first place.

When I compare situations - Lily in that cold hospital and me in the Plett Mediclinic - the only patient - I realise how terribly unfair life in SA still is.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The end is nigh. bugger.

So today is my last day as a lady of leisure. No more moseying out of bed at 8.30ish. No more leisurely morning cups of tea in the sun room with The Guv. No more gymming mid morning. No more deciding at a whim what my day will consist of. Monday I'm back to work.


Had a back-to-work nightmare the other night... dreamt we were all dentists and I didn't know or care about what I was meant to be doing and everyone was p'd off with me.

The reality is that I haven't missed my job. Before going on maternity leave 7 weeks ago I thought I'd miss it. I haven't. I suppose that was a lifetime ago and everything has changed now. Priorities have changed. HA! I actually used to cling to my career woman image. No more. Yes, I want to be doing something, I need a sense of personal achievement - we all do - but to be at an office all day. Not keen. To be constantly bogged down with unnecessary admin - reports and such - no thanks. To be striving for goals set by others - nope. Can't say my heart is in it anymore.

The past week I have begun to dream a bit. A whole new beginning. A venture that would allow me more freedom. A venture to be run from home. A venture that would give me more time with The Band. A venture that would provide great jobs for Lily's mom and sisters. A venture that, in some small way, would honour my daughter. I am working on a business plan now and doing research and dreaming. Maybe this could be something great.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The calm before the storm?

Today has been a good day.

Don't think I've told you guys about Bosom Buddies? It's an organisation involved with visiting and providing basics for new moms at a number of public hospitals in the Western Cape. They are also involved in providing packs to moms whose babies have died – a number which is obviously quite high in public hospitals.

Anyway, I heard about them a while back and thought of getting involved while I was on maternity leave but then "things happened" (got to love those euphimisms). So a couple of weeks ago I made contact to find out about their involvement with moms "who have gone through the same thing that I have". yes. Everyone else avoids calling it what it is so why can't I?

Turns out the one thing they don't have when it comes to moms of stillborns is a camera to at least take a photo of the baby for the mom to keep. (My photos of Sophia are among my most treasured possessions... without them I may forget - my time with her was so brief).

Aaaaaaannnnnnyyyyyywaaaaaaaaaaaaaay bla bla bla so I emailed my contact at Canon and voila, just like that Canon said for sure and sent me a beautiful camera - valued at around R6k for Bosom Buddies.

Delivered it today. Stoked

Mind you, tomorrow is Wednesday. Wednesdays are baaaaaaad days for me but who knows... maybe tomorrow will be ok.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Greetings from the Eastern Cape

So the good news is I am not typing this while horribly drunk, all on my own, blaring sad music, clutching Sophia's teddy bear, surrounded by photos and scrunched up tissues (and empty wine bottles).
That was my last post... but I have decided that it's best the Band doesn't leave me alone with the wine collection and my thoughts again any time soon.

This weekend I am with my parents in East London. It's been a good time but intense.

My mom and I spent the day at a spa yesterday. Never done that before. It was great.

It seems that wherever I go there are breeders. Pregnant women and people with babies everywhere I turn. Makes me want to vomit. I didn't even notice it this much when I was pregnant myself, now just about everywhere it's babies and pregnancy. Each time it's like a little fist digging into my solar plexus. Nauseating. literally.

I went to a new gynae on thursday. She seems great. We just chatted - i think she actually started crying a bit. It was a relief to have someone to ask my questions.
Basically the deal for future is this:
You are fertile again within about 2 weeks of giving birth (if you aren't breastfeeding). In terms of my phyusical health she would recommend a minimum of 3 months from Sophia's birth before we start trying to conceive again. Obviously our mindset and all that is another matter which we'd have to decide on.
The cold hard stats are that there is a 10% chance that this - placental abruption - could happen again.
There is NOTHING that they can do to prevent it happening. I could have a scan every single day and it would make no difference - there are no warning signs.
Because I think the abruption happened around 37 weeks (a few days before I started bleeding) they would induce labour for me at 36 weeks in future pregnancies.

The Band and I had a long chat about it. This probably won't make any sense to any of you (unless you have lost a baby) but the hugest part of me is desperate to be pregnant again. Funny - I felt rather sorry for myself while I was pregnant - the cankles, the heartburn, etc. Now I would give anything to go back to that time. But our hearts have been opened to a baby. Our home and our lives were reordered around the arrival of our girl and now she's gone. We still want more children. I still want a baby - one that is HERE. But suddenly trying for a child is not such an easy, carefree decision.

Before we decide that we are willing to try again we have to get our minds around the fact that it is a reality: it could happen again. I'd love to be in denial about that, but it's fact. And what if?? What if it happens again? Would I survive it? Would my relationships survive it? What would it do to me, the Band, my folks?
And yet the thought of not trying, of not having even the possibility of my own baby to hold, to bath, to feed, to clothe, to love is one of the loneliest thoughts I can fathom. We will try again in time. There is no doubt about that, but wow it will be a terrifying time.

Surely I am too young for this? I feel ancient nowadays.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

5 weeks past. 3 doors down.

Here without you.

All the miles that separate disappear now when I'm dreaming of your face.
I'm here without you baby but you're still on my lonely mind.
I think about you baby and i dream about you all the time.
I'm here with you baby but you're still with me in my dreams and tonight girl it's only you and me.

Everything I know and everywhere I go
it gets hard but it wont take away my love
and when the last one falls
when its all said and done
it gets hard but it wont take away my love.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


So yesterday I did it.

A big thank you to Ches from this blog for doing the design - love it and really appreciate it.

I asked the guy how bad it was going to be and he said most girls think a wax is worse. So I asked how the guys feel.... he laughed. Apparently guys pass out left right and centre. They have also been known to pee themselves literally. haha
But it wasn't bad at all. Kind of like a deep, slow scratch. Sore but nowhere near a wax, or ear ache or childbirth or even a vit B12 injection.

I was never one of those that always wanted to get a tattoo. It's hardly some fulfilment of the rebel within, but I love it.

When most think about tattoos they think skinheads, tramp stamps, gothic script, dragons, but when I think of this tattoo I think of this in Isaiah 49:

Shout for joy, O heavens; rejoice, O earth; burst into song, O mountains! For the LORD comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.

But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me."

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me."

Monday, October 05, 2009

What's going on?

So I wake up in the morning and I step outside and I take a deep breath and I get real high and I (pause) scream at the top of my lungs WHAT'S GOING ON??
(Or something like that)

Now that we'll all walk around with the 4 non blondes in our heads the whole day...

A friend of mine who was pregnant with me had her baby boy last monday. I got the standard sms telling of healthy mom and baby and proud dad. All was well.
Last night I heard that the next day the baby developed what turned out to be meningitis. He has been in ICU ever since.

I spoke to my friend today for ages. We cried together. Her baby is still alive. She still has hope, so that is something, but on the other hand she has to watch him suffer the worst physical pain.

My heart is breaking for her. At this stage the doctors have said that they can start being cautiously optimistic that he will make it but there's a high likelihood of some long term effects - deafness, blindness, learning disabilities, social impairment. For now they can only wait and see.

She had a perfect pregnancy just like me. We were those pregnant woman who did everything right. Not like all those smoking, coke drinking, non-exercising people that abound. We were caffeine free, alcohol free, nicotene free, balanced diets, supplement taking exercisers.

I can only imagine the sick feeling she must be carrying around all the time. What should have been the most exciting week of her life has become a nightmare - she was only allowed to hold him yesterday for the first time since tuesday. It is HORRIBLE.
I think it must be a bit like that moment (did I say moment? I meant 'eternity') when they were searching for Sophia Grace's heartbeat. That endless awful sickening dread. Honestly when I think of it I feel bile in my throat. For her it must be like that extended. The not knowing. The fear. The dread.

Thank God it looks like this little boy will live. Thank God there is still hope that he will be fine. Thank God my friend and her husband have a faith to cling to. I can not imagine surviving the loss of my daughter if I didn't believe in heaven. If I didn't know she was there and fine and not in any pain and that I will see her again, I would be destroyed.

Those of you who pray please pray for baby Luke. For his complete healing.

Saturday, October 03, 2009


So the 2nd Sept was the day we got to the hospital and our worlds fell apart, but labour lasted two days and so Sophia Grace was only born on the 3rd. In my head I hate the 2nd. I hate Wednesdays for the same reason. But the 3rd, the 3rd is her birthday, the 3rd is the day that I held my baby girl. In a way I love the 3rd.
So today is a month since her birthday. A month since I held her. Since I inspected her, through my anaesthesia, through my shock, through my exhaustion, through my grief, I sucked it up - as I continue to do - so that I could inspect her. I touched each toe and each finger. I touched her little nose the way that an annoying great aunt would. I felt her little bum. I felt her knees. But I missed a spot... I can't remember seeing her ears and that just breaks my heart.

Friday, October 02, 2009

A month since...

I felt joy
I felt any real optimism
I felt myself
I fell apart
I entered this abyss of grief

For some reason I am really angry that it has been a month since that most awful of moments - "I'm sorry but there is no heartbeat".

I am not sure why the month thing makes me angry but it does.

I hate waking up in the morning and feeling the dread wash through my body. Psyching myself up to get out of bed. Psyching myself up to eat breakfast. Psyching myself up to drag on some clothes and clean my teeth. I have managed to achieve all of the above pretty much every day which is good. But every single day it is a battle of my will.

I hate this place that I'm in and there is no escape and I am powerless to change it and maybe that's what makes me angry.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

out of titles

Every up is followed by a severe down. I can now hold a conversation or even suck it up for a whole afternoon and fit in with normal life, but the entire time I’m present with the real world I’m holding a completely different conversation in my head. The whole time I’m talking to someone, watching a movie, doing whatever, my head is somewhere else. I am going over things, questioning, longing, crying out. I pretend not to notice the pregnant women and those with their babies. I act as if the display of baby clothes we just walked past doesn't affect me. I nonchalantly smile at a friend's newborn and even give him a pat or two. It all affects me. It all rips at me. I hide it superbly.

I am so lonely. After The Band leaves for work I can’t help but cry. Not because I am alone. Often I’m not. Good friends are around, but I am lonely all the same. I am apart from them all.

I’ve been reading some blogs of people “who have been through the same thing” which is my lame and annoying euphimism because I can’t bring myself to use the term “stillborn”. It is cold and medical and inhuman.

Someone commented on one of the blogs and her words rang so true:
the funny thing is most (if not all) people think that the birth and the dead baby there in their arms is what they couldn't survive....when in fact those are the fucking HIGHLIGHTS. it's the plain ole daily living without them that will rip your soul bit by bit until you have no choice but to sit the fuck up and decide who you want to be.

That is the reality that people can’t get their minds around. People feel sorry for the experience I “so bravely” endured. People wonder if perhaps I don’t have medical aid and that’s why I didn’t have a caesar. Actually those days were indeed the f*ing highlight. At least she was still physically with me. Reliving holding her is a treat not a horror. Life now is the horror.