Wishing you courage

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying 'I will try again tomorrow'."
- Mary Anne Radmacher

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thank you Meghan! Words cannot describe the feeling of seeing an envelope in my PO Box; I opened it up right there, standing at a counter in post office. A beautiful card! A beautiful sentiment! Again, thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.


Leaving the hospital with a sad but entirely treasured memory box ... what are the words to describe that? Horrible. Unfair. A whole slew of swear words are also appropriate. The morning after delivery I wanted to see the baby again. "He will be cold", the nurse told me. My husband took the opportunity to haul the belongings we had accumulated the past 4 days in that hospital room out to the car; poor guy is not a fan of deadbabies. Toren arrived nestled in a tiny white basket; I sat in the rocking chair, the nurse handed him to me and left the room, and that was my time alone with him. Together we rocked and I told him all that I could, all that was applicable. No life lessons to be passed on other than sometimes things are entirely, impossibly unfair. Sometimes horrible things happen despite our best efforts and intentions. Pretty heavy stuff for a being aged 20 weeks gestation.

His body was so cold and his blood had pooled, turning areas of his skin so dark. I didn't unwrap him to see his body again; I didn't need to see the feet that were starting to club and the fingers growing in odd directions from his body being crushed by my organs. Since finding out he was not surrounded by amniotic fluid I had done my best not to slouch and crush him further.

Knowing what I know now, I would have sat there rocking him longer. I would not have felt rushed knowing that my husband was waiting or worrying that the hospital staff wanted to clean the room. That was my only time to see his tiny body. It's been almost 11 months and I crave seeing him again.

To leave the hospital room I needed another dose of Xanax. Then, finally, I left the room I had been in for the past 84 hours straight, walked down the hall praying not to see anyone smiling over having a new baby in their family, clutching the memory box.

This is it, the white box.
Now it sits in the bottom part of an end table in my living room. On top is a photo of Toren alive, taken via ultrasound; the photo that was joyously e-mailed to family members as a way of announcing the pregnancy. Also housed in that area are family photos and roses formed from palm fronds (or something) that my husband got for me from a guy on the street in Savannah (one of the most beautiful places on Earth). The box holds the soft blanket Toren was wrapped in, the tiny knit hat he wore, a stuffed dog, hand and foot prints, polaroid photos of him, cards received welcoming him to the world, and a few other various things from the hospital. Cards of condolence are kept behind the box.

Initially, I didn't know what to think of the box. It instantly turned into one of my greatest treasures (like if the house is burning down, grab the cats and the box) however the things inside were not items that he enjoyed during life. He never played with the stuffed dog, he never felt the softness of the blanket. His items, memories of him, but they are not his memories.

I wanted to give him so much.

I don't know if anyone else felt this way, but when I found out there was no way in hell that my baby would live outside the womb, finding things to give him did not cross my mind. I wish I would have selected a blanket or toy for his body to at least lay next to, but I gave him nothing tangible. In response to a post on Glow in the Woods recently I expressed my regret with how I chose to deal with his body, I'm not going to repeat it here. In hindsight, I wish I had selected an item just for him and had his body cremated with it. I wish I knew where his body was right now.

Which leads to the point of all of this ... months later the box is still not enough. All this time and all this effort spent on grief work and it turns out that container of memories just isn't enough. I now have a new card, a new memory, to add to the story of my baby's life. Sure it's the part of my baby's life where there is no adorable cooing, drooling, young human - we are limited to a heartbroken couple who barely speak anymore (and who are frequently drunk), a woman who refuses to move on and a man who (I imagine) wants nothing other than to forget the sight of his dead son.

Ready for the shameful part? The part that is our secret? I'm going to buy the things I had intended to buy for him. A halloween, jack-o-lantern hat and dinosaur pajamas. The things I never dared get since the pregnancy was classified as a "threatened abortion" for so long.

I hate that I was never able to tell him face-to-face, while he was alive, how much he was loved.


Sara said...

I wish I could give you a big hug. I'm so sorry. This is torture sometimes.

If it makes you feel less alone, I too have a lot of "issues" about the handling of the remains. Because it was a D&E, no one ever asked and I was too much in shock to even even think about that part of it. I have nothing but ultrasound photos.

Again, I'm just so sorry. This was a heartbreaking post.

Meg said...

If it helps you to buy those things, then don't feel shame. It is love for your child. I'm so sorry that you don't have all that you desire with what remains. But, how could anything be enough, except for your sweet Toren. I'm glad you felt happy for a minute when you got the card! I can't wait to send more. Thank you for sharing this. I wish I could give you a hug.

debbie said...

I am a huge believer in the fact that I think you can tell him that now. Tell him those things, buy him those things, let yourself have that process in your life. During my pregnancy, one of our three kitties suddenly got very sick and died. It was horrible. But strangely, he had the symptoms our baby would have had if she had lived. Somehow, he showed us how difficult it would have been for her. We loved that kitty and did not want him to go. We still talk to him all the time. I guess you'd say we pretend he's still around, but I can't help it if I think he really is.
I guess I'm saying this not to sound like a crazy person, but to tell you to let yourself believe that Toren can hear you. It may help you to integrate him into your life instead of feeling like you are leaving him behind when you begin to heal.

Liane said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm so glad to find your blog and so very sorry for this deep pain you are in. The box, the hand/feet molds, the photos can all be a strange comfort but not even close to enough.

It's been four years for me and your memories bring it all back in such a fresh way. I remember that walk out of my hospital room, away from my son, passing the nursery, my eyes so puffy people stared. I could tell you how much time heals but I know that doesn't help you right NOW when you need it.

I wish that I could make it easier for you somehow.

Gal aka SuperMommy said...

I think it's wonderful that you bought/are buying those things for your son...