Monday, November 30, 2009

Goals update

I seem to have lost a post somewhere... but anyway!

A quick update

Goal 1: 6kg down and have started a bit of road running. Went this morning with The Band which was cool.

Goal 2: Have put together a very detailed calendar step by step for getting the business started. We were told last week that our offices will be moving from Stellenbosch to Cape Town by the end of next year. Feels like confirmation for me. There is no way I am happy to spend 2 hours a day in traffic and even less so if we have a child by then, so ya, feels like the end of an era, and my mind is pretty much made up.

Ooooooh I nearly forgot! I went to the SHRINK last week! I was quite disappointed: no lying on a chaise lounge like in the movies... just sitting on a couch (hardly the same!) It was good. Some of it was very helpful, particularly as she specialises in pregnancy related psychology and understands the medical side of things... ya, who knew there even was such a thing. Basically she was on the whole trying to see if I was suffering from post traumatic stress and if my marriage was suffering. negative and negative. I am doing fine, just walking the long and lonely road of grief. I won't go back, I don't think it is necessary, and she doesn't either, though she gave me stuff to read and things to look out for.

Anyway, that's me and where I'm at. Still fragile - yesterday a friend with a newborn mentioned something in passing about another friend who is having her caesar today. It was actually quite a funny story and at the time I laughed, but minutes later it hit me again: the sickening realisation that yet another friend will be having her child (the first of my friends to have a girl since... and she will be dark haired on top of it) and I am stuck on the same treadmill, running and running and getting nowhere and watching their joy, their self-indulgent pity (*sigh* I am getting no sleep *smiles fondly at baby*) UGH! and drowning in envy and what ifs and could have beens. Putting on the brave face when I see them, crying with the pain when I'm out of sight, and feeling the emptiness of here.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Baby Loss Meme

Living in the Rainbow suggested I do this meme. There is something jarring about the fact that there is even such a thing as baby loss meme. That's not to say I think it is wrong, I think it just jars because traditionally blog memes are such frivolous fun things (Got writer's block? do a meme) and this one is so not that.

Losing my baby girl has opened up this whole other world in my life... I was completely oblivious of its existance until 2 months ago. Now I have friends from around the world thanks to a shared tragic commonality. In many ways I feel like I know other "baby lost" parents better than some people I've known all my life. Another part of this world which jars me is that it has its own lingo. Baby lost parents. Rainbow babies. TTC. etc. etc. There is something so sad in that. I'm trying to figure out what the essence of that sadness is and I suppose it is that this whole realm is so established. So real. So definite. But I digress...

Onwards to the meme. Oh... and BTW I am going for complete honesty here, trusting that this is a safe place for that.

1. What do you want people to know about the child you have lost?
I guess the initial and most obvious thing would be that she is a person, she has an identity, she is loved, she matters.

When we got to the hospital on that awful day and they scanned but found no heartbeat, I asked the doctor whether the baby was a boy or a girl. She responded "that's not important." A while later when she was finished with the "intense" part of the scan (where she was really trying to figure out what went wrong and what danger I was in) she asked if I had questions. I said "yes. Is the baby a girl or a boy?" She said "why is that important?" In my head I was screaming, but I was muted by shock and so Stef answered "because it is!" She checked and told us that she was a girl.

That moment was a horrible one for me. Of course now with the shock subsided I would be able to give that doctor millions of reasons why that questions matters. Some of them are: I knew her, we knew her, we loved her, we love her, we miss her, we have dreamt of her, we look toward the day we will see her again. When a person dies, we don't forget them... really pointing out the obvious here: a baby is a person! It is not as if some miraculous metamorphosis happens between the womb and the outside world and so I guess that takes me back to the first line of this answer.

Sophia is our first born. I have a daughter. We are parents. We will love all future children of course, but they can not replace her.

2. What names did you give your child and why?
We had decided to go the traditional route and not find out whether we were having a boy or a girl. We had names in mind for both. Nevertheless, as I've mentioned before, I knew we were having a girl. I had dreamt of her and seen her in my mind's eye so many times and when people used to say they "knew" it was a boy I'd be downride annoyed with them.

When "everything happened" we needed to decide on a name. We'd originally wanted to name our daughter after my gran who died last year, but knowing our little girl too had died, I just couldn't do that. And so we went with the name we had saved for our second daughter, Sophia Grace. It was a sad moment... naming our child. I was still in labour at that stage and it was so so far from the "moment of naming" that I had expected. I had thought that I would be holding my baby girl, cuddling her, a lifetime of possibility before us. Instead it was a sad conversation in a hospital hallway.

Sophia Grace is a beautiful name and it suits her. I wrestle a bit with this though: I don't want to ever be at a place where she becomes "she who shall not be mentioned". I want to speak of her and have people speak of her and yet I can barely say "Sophia" without my voice catching and my eyes filling.

We didn't even know, when naming her, that Sophia means Wisdom. Wisdom and Grace are her names and I believe her character has both. Both are what we need in navigating our way through this.

3. What rituals or ways of memorializing your child seem to best help you cope with their loss?
The day I found out I was pregnant we began a book of letters to Sophia. We recorded all the adventures of pregnancy, all the scans, the first kicks, the special moments. We had planned to keep writing in that book until she was 21 and giving it to her then. We have continued writing in that book from time to time.

I also had her name inscribed on my wrist and I love that.

I have chatted with the ladies from Bosom Buddies about their supporting moms whose babies die and I hope to become more involved in this after a time in honour of my daughter. I think that the various ways moms and dads honour their children's memories is incredibly beautiful. I will do a whole post on this at another time.

I think as time goes by I will find different ways of keeping her in remembrance.

4. What are the kindest and/or most helpful things people have said to you? What are the worst?
The kindest things really are when people have the guts to acknowledge what has happened, to say they are sorry for us and to call her by her name. SO FEW PEOPLE mention Sophia by name. She is reduced to "that thing that happened". So I guess it's not in specific words, it is more in people's attitudes. People mean to be kind when they pretend that nothing has changed. I know their hearts are right... they don't want to put me on the spot. But it grieves me... things HAVE changed. EVERYTHING has changed. My daughter matters and mentioning her by name acknowledges that.

People have, in general, been thoughtful, but some of the worst things have come from some people closest to me and have actually been intended as kind. Two examples:

The first: a friend of mine who has an adopted child and a biological child said through my process she has now realised that you are a mother throughout pregnancy and beyond. Seeing me suffer has made her realise that. She never used to think that way because she never thought of her adopted child's biological mom as a mom at all. The biological mom never held him, comforted him, fed him. She "merely" carried him for 9 months.

I realise that it may be difficult to see why this was so sore to hear... I'll try to explain. I guess it was the mention of any doubt at all that you're a mom from the start. I guess it was the initial dismissal of the bond a mom and child share through the womb in comparison to the shared joy that follows birth.

The second: my closest friend is fiercely protective of me and I of her. When I returned from Plett, she told me that when she'd heard what was going on, she had just wanted to drive there and be with me, but, she said, in retrospect it is perhaps good that she didn't coz The Band and I were so strong and so sure in our actions and choices in that time (referring to us knowing that I should go through natural labour instead of a c-section).

She said (and here it comes....) when she'd heard that I was going through labour she couldnt bare the thought of it and felt that those doctors should just "get it out of Caz". Now I don't know if she said "it", maybe she said "her" but that's what I heard. My daughter, reduced to an "it" to be eradicated. That one hurt a lot, probably because I think that just about everyone (The Band excluded) probably felt the exact same way. I know my brothers and my dad couldn't understand why I was going through labour. And all these people only felt this out of love and protection for me. I know that. But for me, as a mom, I would have laid down my life for my daughter and it's heartbreaking that those closest to me still think of me first... if they'd ever met her, or known her like I had, she would have captured their hearts too... not just the prospect of her, but HER and then they may have felt differently.

Hmmm I am aware that the above is confusing and I don't know if it'll make any sense to anyone. oh well.

5. Who is your hero? Who helps you make it through the dark days better than anyone else on the planet?
The Band - he draws me out of myself. He loves me unconditionally. He doesn't judge. He knows when to just hold me. He speaks of Sophia with such love.

This blog - an outlet for so many emotions. A place of support and love. Through blogging I have had the privilege of learning through the experiences of others and of getting glimpses of their children who, perhaps, are friends with Sophia in heaven.

Claudine - Claudine lost her daughter last year and has since given birth to her second child, beautiful little Madison. The midwife at the hospital called Claudine and asked her to come visit. She ended up coming by every day of my hospital stay. I think that hearing her story, her lessons, before I'd even given birth was immensely helpful and made such a difference to the whole thing. We have stayed in close contact and I have come to value her as an incredible women and a very caring friend. She totally gets it and I thank God for her.

My aunt aka FA (favourite aunt) and I am FN (favourite niece) though no one knows about that but us :).
FA lost her husband 10 years ago in a tragic car accident. They were very much in love and weren't yet forty when it happened. She has known tragedy. And she has known grief. She has known the reality of life moving steadily on all around you while you are stuck at the point of impact. She generally calls me once a week on a Wednesday coz she knows Wednesdays are tough days for me. She sometimes remembers it's Wednesday before I do. She asks the questions that no one else is brave enough to. She gets me to talk about things and she always calls Sophia by name.

The Guv - ok, ok, so The Guv may not be a hero (although he is a skilled fly slayer and we are very proud of his prowess!) but he is a delight. This little kitten crept into our hearts and has brought us so many laughs and much joy. Waking up to a handful of fur staring at you about 3cm from your face and purring furiously means that your very very first thought is not of your despair and grief. And no, as one person asked, I don't feel like he somehow fills the gap because now I have something to mother (I MEAN SERIOUSLY!????) but a kitten is a very sweet thing, and this crazy little feline is particularly special and in fact warrants his own post on another day.

6. Is there anything you need to say or want to say but haven’t been able to? Can you say it now?
Unless you have lost a child (in which case the following becomes a thing of hope for me) please don't tell me about your baby or your pregnancy. Please don't hear what I'm not saying: if you have a blog, what you write there is 100% your business, your space, your privilege, it is my choice whether I am strong enough to read it or not, but here in this space and particularly in real life, don't assume, because I am going through the motions, sucking it up, smiling, laughing, joking, that I'm not in agony. The constant narrative in my head details how different things should be now, how big Sophia should be now, what we should be doing now.

Also curiosity kills the cat, or as the Afrikaans say "van nuuskierigheid is die tronke vol and die kerke leeg" (from curiosity, the jails are full and the churches are empty). I understand the heart behind it, but don't worry about warning me against reading this magazine or that blog... that makes me curious to know what you think I shouldn't read and makes me more likely to read it.

I am sadly far from the place where I can feel genuine joy for others with regards to their babies... It hurts so so much to hear about babies and pregnancies. I hope and pray this changes at some point, of course I want to be happy for people I care about and I am, but it is coupled with so much agony.

The Band and I actually spoke about this last night. It is not the same for him and he had no idea that it was as bad for me because I am very talented at putting on a happy face. What would be helpful is for you to pray for me on this one because as I have mentioned in the past, I don't want to feel like this, it's not something I like in myself, but it is the way it is.

7. How are you doing? How are you really doing?
I have my ups and my downs. In general I am somewhere inbetween. Everything has changed. I feel this defiant indifference with regards to the opinions of others, a kind of "this is me, take it or leave it" attitude which is really probably only some lame attempt at trying to regain some form of control. I really really battle to be mentally motivated. Work feels like running on a treadmill uphill in the heat and without the endorphin rush. I feel like my life is in limbo until I have another child. I feel like there is such unfinished business just hanging in the air... I am a mom without my baby. Empty arms. I feel restless in this place.

When I am down (ya, the above is not a description of down.. that's just the normal... scary but true) I feel like I am drowning. It is a terrifying feeling. A suffocating, desperation. An awful, dreadful powerlessness. Reminds me a bit of The Nothingness in The Neverending Story. When I am up I feel hope... hope for the babies we will still have (God willing). Hope for the day I meet Sophia in heaven.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hope for Lily?

I just found this article on how a guy in a permanent vegetative state for 3 years was given sleeping tablets which paradoxically awoke parts of the brain which were deemed dead. This mom tells of how they are giving the drug to their brain damaged daughter. According to the scans, there is something in the tablet which increases oxygen flow to those parts of the brain. Could this be a possibility for Lily?

Anyone have any clue how I'd go about taking this forward? I have been trying to track down the doctor - Dr Wally Nel - but no luck so far.

Any ideas?
Meanwhile I'll keep you posted!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can you imagine

not knowing what colour your daughter's eyes are?

not knowing the sound of her laugh? or cry?

listening to people talking about their children, their babies, in front of you, knowing that to them it's nothing, but to you it's everything and something you'll never have the absolute privilege of doing?

realising all over again that this is it.

If you can't imagine, this is how it feels:
sickening, physically nauseating, physically painful, lonely, very, very lonely, isolating, desperate, dark.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why I haven't been writing

coz I don't have much to say.

Life is just moving along. Work is really busy - focusing on our new Vote Earth campaign... listen out for the radio ads, my voice features.

Still going strong with Goal 1 and am now 5kgs down.

Goal 2 is tougher, the life coach has given me a values survey to fill in, the theory being that you are more likely to achieve the goals that support your values.

Finally had a bit of progress with The Band yesterday when he muttered something mildly bitter about someone with kids. I think I actually said "FINALLY!" Crikey... it's a relief to see some kind of self pity there because I am frikken swimming in it!!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Beauty from ashes

Great things done in Sophia's name: read about it here.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Goal update:2

Goal 1: Get in shape
Progress: Have now lost 4kgs. Yay. Really enjoying the eating plan still, especially now that the SIL has taught me how to cook all kinds of vegetarian curries etc. Also loving the variety of exercise I've been doing: spinning, abs classes, powerplate classes, hikes, etc.
Next steps: Keep it up!

Goal 2: New venture
Progress: Have appointed a life coach who specialises in helping entrepreneurs to start their businesses. Perfect no? Even more perfect: he happens to be my brother. Have also, somewhat cheekily, already grabbed at an opportunity to feature the business in a publication that is coming out for tourists attending the world cup. How's that for bold? Have also acquired some contacts in terms of setting up a CC etc.
Next steps: Meet up with the brains trust to determine (official) first steps.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

2 months

Two months ago today I was in labour. My life was in peril. My heart was held together only by prayers. The ground was falling away beneath me. My dreams were dying.

Two months ago I held you in my arms. My little bundle wrapped in pink. You were heavier than I expected and I was so tired. But you were beautiful. If I could go back I would hold you forever.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Goals update

The Virgin Life Care website assures me that I have far greater chance of reaching my goals if I track my progress, so bear with me!

Goal 1: Get in shape
Progress: I've lost about 3kgs. Feeling a bit happier in my own skin, but still a way to go! To be honest, for the most part I'm enjoying it. The exercise has been so good for me. The eating side has been made easier by a visit from the Sister-In-Law who is a great healthy food cook.
Next steps: Don't lose motivation when my training buddy goes away for a whole month!

Goal 2: New Venture
Progress: Sent emails to people whose wisdom I want on this, my parents and a couple in the church. Wanted to hear their perspectives in terms of where I'm at and who I am rather than the merits only of the business itself. Is it wise for me? Got some good input. My dad's main advice is about minimising risk, in other words, start the business and have it viable before before resigning here. Makes sense, but will be tough doing both.
Next steps: Set up a meeting of what The Band has dubbed The Brains Trust. Pick the brains of a few close friends with experience of starting their own ventures, setting up CCs, etc etc.

Will keep you posted x