Tuesday, June 28, 2011

(This post is part of a project "Right Where I Am" Where I Am Project)

Where I am, 5 years and 4 weeks after saying hello and goodbye.

Five years and 4 weeks ago I was gripped in a new reality. I had walked in to my 40 week doctor's appointment a pregnant woman with my first baby and walked out a grieved parent. I had given birth to a 6lb 10oz baby boy. I had held him in my arms, touched his little nose, said goodbye to his little body...and I went home.

I went home to grieve. I went home to try to create a new life. I spent a lot of time on the couch. I researched, I read, I sought out any baby loss mom I could find who had another baby. I knew that time would help. I have often said in this blog and in my life, that even in those early days, I knew 2 or 3 years down the road, I would feel better.

Here I am. 5 years later. I know I am one of the lucky ones. My marriage didn't crumble in the wake of this. We were still newlyweds, barely married a year and a half when Curtis died. We both clung to each other and both seemed to grieve in similar manners. We listened to each other. We supported each other. And then I got pregnant. Miscarried. Got pregnant again. Had Claudia and then had Cole. And here we are. Laughing and hugging our children. Up all night with puking kids and frustrated at each other for not doing this and that. You know, life. Life of a married couple with young children.

In all of this? Is still the knowledge of my greatest loss. My greatest disappointment, and of the best thing I have ever done. Craig recently started working a documentary of some sort, where we have sat down and started to 'record' our story. Explaining, on camera, piece by piece of Curtis' life and death was difficult. I cried and cried and told my story through my sobs. After talking, I felt drained and exhausted after one does with emotional upheavals... but his story has always been something I am proud of. Curtis is always something, someone, I am proud of. I made him. I created him. We were together, me and him, for 9 amazing months. I want you to know him. I want you to love him like I love him....just like I want you to know and love Claudia and Cole.

And, in that, is still the part I struggle with. People don't know Curtis like I know him. They see this family of 4 and never picture another little boy, possibly holding his sister's hand, or possibly making her scream. They never picture him playing tball with his daddy like I do. I want people to know him. I want him to be as important as my living children in their eyes.And that is something I struggle with. People _forget_ a baby died inside of me. Recently a co-worker repeated a horrible comment, a joke actually, about a baby dying inside of the mother. I sat, in absolute horror before I had to leave the room in tears. She felt horrible. But it speaks volumes that people forget. Forget what happened to me. She didn't know me when I lost Curtis, but knows my story...and it never registered to her not to say this in front of me.

I was hurt, but I wasn't mad. I know, in my heart of hearts, she was just repeating a dumb comment. Not trying to hurt me. All is forgiven.

I am not sure I could have done that 3 or 4 years ago. I did cry. I did talk to my husband about the comment. But I accepted, truly accepted her apology. I have often said in my grief process I KNOW people aren't trying to hurt me, but what do I do with the comments that DO hurt? Why must I be the grown up one and forgive hurtful comments? I still feel this way, why does the one who gets hurt have to be so generous? But, it does get easier to be generous with these things five years later.

On his birthday this year, I didn't cry. I did cry two days before, had a pretty big meltdown. But on his actual birthday, I felt peace. Later in the day, after all of our activities and travel, we were in our hotel room. Craig said "Is it 5:31 yet?",. And I said "What is 5:31?"

The time Curtis was born.

I felt _horrible_. Yes, it came out of nowhere. We had crawled out of the water park, soaked. We were ushering the kids in the room, they were begging for juice, crackers, and movies.

But my words haunted me for a long time. How could I NOT know what he meant? 5:31pm. On 5/31. It was his time. And I questioned what it even was.

So, five years later, I still have a very hard time forgiving myself for not being the perfect mother to Curtis. I didn't save him when I know I could have. And after his delivery,  I made constant mistakes and missteps. 5 years later? I still am. That is the part I struggle with the most. Still screwing up the few times I CAN parent him.

Claudia and Cole have been some of our greatest joys. Curtis truly lead the way to them. Claudia mentions him all the time, though I know she still doesn't get any of it. I  think she thinks the statue we go visit is Curtis. She talks about wanting to buy him a birthday present again. I know they won't have much relationship with him, it will be something that happened to her mom and dad and not something that happened to her. But I want them to understand we love all our children. No matter what. In life, in death, in bad choices and in good. We love our children. I would like to think I would have cherished Curtis the way I cherish Claudia and Cole had he lived. But there is a deeper element that comes with it all. I probably linger a bit more over their sleeping silhouettes, I may indulge their Dora obsessions a bit extra, I may worry a bit more after a rough daycare drop off. than I would normally.

But, with everything...I am still me. I still need my alone time. I still enjoy working and having something outside of my children to focus on. That was a surprise to me. After having Claudia, I was convinced I wouldn't ever let my children out of my sight...but I have and I do. I have given up some control. I wasn't ready when Claudia was a newborn, but at about 9 months, I was okay.

And that is what it boils down to. I am okay. I am more happy than I am sad. I love the heck out of my kids and miss my baby boy. I feel the grief grip my heart on a random day as opposed to his birthday. I have suffered a lot along the way. I still suffer from anxiety and PTSD. I don't know if I will ever, truly, be at peace with not saving his life. I don't know if I can forgive myself but I have learned to make peace with these things. I think it is okay for me to not forgive myself if I am kind to myself in other areas of life. If I truly can be happy in other moments and decisions I have made.

 I will never ever be the same as the woman who walked into that doctor's appointment the morning  of May 31, 2006.

But I am okay.


Hope's Mama said...

Almost three years ago, I was that woman on the couch. Frantically googling looking for others who had lived this. And there you were, like a beacon. I will never forget you and Curtis, as you were the first I found. I'll always remember when I finally had the courage to reach out to you and how good it felt when you wrote back. I knew because of speaking to you, I'd be ok.
And here I am. One (almost two) babies later and I too can't believe it.
So much of what you wrote here was so familiar to me. The grief process and dealing with the silly things others say. And trying to be a perfect mum to my dead child. I forgot to go to the cemetery this mother's day. Who does that? We had so many things on that day that I just..... forgot. So don't beat yourself up too much about not immediately registering what 5/31 meant. We all slip up, but our babies know we love them.
Glad you took part in Angie's project. I'm sure this post will be a help to so many.

Sarah said...

Most of what you wrote is exactly how I feel.

Becky said...

Thank you for sharing this. I am coming up on 6 months without my Liam and it is nice to read your story and where you are 5 years later and knowing your okay and have had more kids and happy.

Ya Chun said...

No parenting is perfect...

and I spent a lot of time on the couch too

ProudMommy625 said...

hello chantel- my son was also a stillborn, i gave birth to him last saturday, i too found out he no longer had a heartbeat at 39 weeks and 6 days. Each one of your blog that I read made the hair on my back stand up because it felt like you were telling my story... I feel like God has sent u to all there womens rescue because you put me at ease even just for a little, my baby leaving so soon is still so raw and i tried emailing you yesterday but i know you are busy with your 2 other bundle of joys... i just really wanted ask for advice if thats even the term... xoxo may God bless you and your family

Kristen said...

Though I've never experience the grief of losing a child, I've learned from what you have said. And what I've learned, I've been able to pass on to others. So thank you for sharing Curtis' story with me. And every May, as I celebrate my own childrens' birthdays, I remember Curtis, too.

Fireflyforever said...

I'm visiting from Angie's project. I read some of Curtis' story. I am so sorry he died, so very sorry.

I believe I am one of the lucky ones too - my marriage survived and we grieved similarly too, which seems quite rare. And I also think that I parent more "deeply", if that's the correct word, because Emma died.

Thank you for taking part and sharing where you are.

loribeth said...

Glad to see you taking part in this project. I've been following your blog for awhile now, but I enjoyed reading your story again from this perspective. I'm glad you are OK. : )

Pauline said...

I would like to reproduce this article in the SANDS newsletter. Please email me.


Pauline said...

I would like to use this article in SANDS newsletter.
Please email me

Hello I'm Lala! said...

Your words give me such hope. I just recently lost my second son, Ezra, December 12, 2011. We said Hello & Goodbye to him that day, for he was born still at 40 weeks 6 days gestation. It is devastating.

Susan said...

Thank you for sharing this. Feb 2 2006 I also walked into a hospital and left in shocked grief. My son Elijah was a day under 20 weeks. I know there are those who see it as a miscarriage but I gave birth to him. Held his little body. Loved him. Had to explain to our other 3 wonderful kids. No more babies for me it seems and I hate to be greedy... Still. 6 years. Found your blog as I was trying to find Erma Bombecks story of her loss. Thank you. And yes I have forgiven stupid people too...otherwise the anger just overtakes us and gives them far too much power over us.

Joann Randall said...

Hi Chantel I too had a baby stillborn, he would be 25 in February. I went into hospital at 40 weeks expecting everything to be normal as with my previous 3 births but alas there was no heartbeat so I went through labor & gave birth to a beautiful 9lb boy. it was devastating & still is. I wanted my tubes tied & never to be pregnant again but the doctors told me I needed time to grieve before making that final decision, oh how glad I am now of their wisdom. 2 1/2 years after the death of my son Ethan I gave birth to a beautiful 10 lb 14 1/2oz son James. He has made me so proud of him as with my other children, I believe that if Ethan hadn't been taken from me that I wouldn't have James not that I would give one up for the other but it leads me to believe that a greater entity in life took my Ethan for a reason. Still 25 years later there is not a day that goes by that I don't cry for the loss of my beautiful boy. JoAnn