March 28, 2012

my birth after a stillborn

I live in this weird place, what I refer to in my head as "between the land of the living and the land of the dead". 

I delivered a stillborn son 18 months ago.  He was dead, and then he came back to life.  But his return to life, at first, only promised us another, innate, death.  There was shock, a sort of disbelief, and much to mourn.  I can relate to the mothers of stillborns.  I understand, at least, their first hour.  I stood there.  I did that. 

But then God, for some reason, moved me past that point.  The mothers of stillborns cannot relate to me.  My son is slap in their faces, I think.  I did not finish that grieving process and so, in many ways, I am still dealing with it.

I was then promised a severely disabled boy.  Cerebral palsy, seizures, blindness, a blank mind - all of these things were offered to me as options.  So I can relate to mothers of special needs kids.  I know about the fears, loneliness, and questions of worth and ability.  I lived through the follow-ups, specialists, and therapies, especially in the first year.  I stood there.  I did that.

But then God, for some reason, moved me past that point.  The mothers of special needs kids cannot relate to me.  My son is a slap in their faces, I think.  The odd thing is that with every thing that was given back to us - sight, a healthy brain, fine motor skills - it seemed to simultaneously make the load lighter and focus my grief more intensely on the things that were still missing.  I felt like there was always another heartache, another thing to mourn.  But I was pulled out of that, too, and so I'm trying to figure out how to grieve something that isn't gone.

I suppose I sound ungrateful.  JF, my little (alleged) miracle, was restored to me - like Lazarus to Mary and Martha.  But I never let myself deal with these thoughts and feelings at the time - there wasn't time! - and so now I continue to find them bursting out of me.

Of course, you see, all of this is magnified and made much, much worse by my approaching due date.  The things I had stuffed away as I told myself to stop crying are coming back and sometimes they leave me practically immobile.  Probably hormones are, in part, to blame but I am also aware that there is much more to my frequent naps, sleeping in, skipping out on certain social events, and whatnot.  I am emotionally and mentally and physically exhausted.  My head hurts from crying, or from straining to not cry.  I am sleepy, sleepy, sleepy.

And when I think about this labor I am terrified.  I do not want to go into labor.  I do not want to push this baby out.  The last time I pushed a baby out he died.  I don't want to have fetal monitoring because I don't want to know when her heart stops.  I don't want to be in a hospital surrounded by people I don't know and procedures I don't care about.  I want to be at home so that when this little girl is placed in my arms I can lay in my own bed, in my own house and cry over her still little body without anyone bothering me.

When I think about her future I do not plan her baptism but her funeral.  With my other children I pictured their names on resumes and wedding invitations; with her I picture a tombstone.

I want some kind of closure but forcing it hasn't worked so I suppose I must just continue to deal with things as they arise.  And so here I am, unable to spend much time or energy in "the land of the living" but shut out from "the land of the dead".  I'm not sure who will relate to this - I seem to be alone in this situation but there it all is for you.  I am tired, scared, and exhausted from mourning a long list of things that didn't happen.


  1. Wow, Bonnie, I knew you had been through a lot but I never thought of it in quite that way. When I read this blog entry, I'm reminded of Mary who "pondered these things" in her heart when she thought of her dear boy. Quite an honor to share even a hint of that, but so difficult.

    God be with you.
    God is with you.

  2. I am praying for you and I added you to our Moms' Group prayers this morning.

  3. Oh, my gosh, what an honest and heartwrenching post. Hang on tight ... my prayers are with you through this rollercoaster of emotion and uncertainty.

  4. I love you and am praying for you Bonnie.

  5. Beautifully honest post, Bonnie. Thank you. I second the comment re Mary: Her son was dead and now He lives. May the Easter light of Life shine upon you and your baby and banish the chains and powers of death. I pray that God guides you to peace and rest and that this labor is a healing experience for you. God be with you, Bonnie!

  6. sorry to give advice....but I can't help it.

    - give this post to the sweetest nurse in your doctor's practice- let her know where you are coming from

    - they can do fetal monitoring without you hearing what is happening- this is info that could be helpful

    - ask your doc about the possibility of anxiety meds for the labor and maybe a little even now

    - hire a doula or ask a few of your calmest mother-type friends to be on-call for your labor. Your husband is going through a lot too and he might not be the strongest advocate while he is going through this rollercoaster

    - bring a few things from home for during labor- not just after- quilt, pillow, an old stuffed animal, your music (maybe sometimes you could even just put head phones on to block out other sounds), an icon of Jesus (I like the mercy one of Sr. Faustina with red and white rays of light)

    -go to confession before your due date- I find this helps with anxiety

    -ask to receive the annointing of the sick before /during labor (you might need to plan ahead to make sure a priest is available)

    -ask to receive the Eucharist (make sure you have put your religion down on the hospital admitting papers)- most likely you will receive from a lay minister

    -try not to be afraid of information- and let any new doctor and nurse be aware of your scary history

    I lost a baby to miscarriage at 20 weeks and I believe it was my 'forcing' doctors to do certain things (heparin, progesterone and yes- a c-section! I went totally drug free with my first 2 babies- but not the last 2 successful pregnancies)

    Be not afraid! and hug your husband

  7. I think everything you said makes sense; I can't imagine your fear. I'm glad you wrote it down because hopefully it will help you heal.

    If it makes you feel more confident, remember that everyone assisting you in the hospital will expect that everything will go beatifully...because it almost always does. I know you have to reckon with the memory of a complete nightmare, but maybe their confidence will encourage you. And, if you find them unsymptathetic, tell them so. They should try to support you the way you need - fire them if they are making the experience unpleasent...I mean it!

    Thinking and praying for you.

    Love, Em

  8. Beautiful, honest, authentic. Praying for you, your jumble of emotions, and that precious baby of yours.

  9. Praying for you, Bonnie! I pray that you'll have the peaceful birth you deserve. You've got an awesome midwife, I know she'll work hard to make this the best possible experience for you!

  10. It honestly sounds like you could be suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. And it would make perfect sense given what you have gone through. A healthy birth this time around will do a lot of healing for you. But don't be afraid to reach out for help if you continue to feel the fear and impending doom. It can be okay again. Please let me know if you need any assistance. Will be praying for you!

  11. I love that so many people gave you encouragement and I hope you heard and took in every word. But Bonnie, even if the worst happens, you, Travis and your kids will be ok. You have been through a horrible ordeal and you made it through. God never left and you of all people know that. Though it may not easy your worries, know you, your marriage, your faith is strong enough to make it through this birth no matter the outcome.
    That being said, I believe it will be a beautiful experience. I was debating having a home birth or a hospital birth because I didn't want any intervention and I did want the comfort of home ect, but honestly the hospital was amazing. All the staff were amazing and let me give birth without drugs and didn't push me towards anything I didn't want. In fact, my nurse was so reassuring and positive and made me feel so comfortable and at home. Now I wouldn't change it.
    And your story will be unique and she (do you know it's a girl???!?!) will be here soon and you'll be able to hold her and kiss her and once again see the miracle that God has grown in you.
    We all love you & see your strength. You can do this.

  12. Bonnie,
    What and honest, heart wrenching, beautiful post. Please know that even though we don't see each other very often, you and your family are always in my prayers. I pray that God continues to watch over you and gives you and Travis the healing and peace you deserve. Love you all!!

  13. I can relate to your grief, but not the specific circumstances and I can relate to your fear, but once again not the specific circumstances.

    I'm going to put you in my 'prayer heart' beneath a relic of St. Philomena until your safe delivery. She is a special patroness of young married couples and expectant mothers, with a special love for babies and children.

    Cry and sleep and pray.

    Walking through these valleys is hard.

    *hug* Grace and Peace will be yours.