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Tag Archives: stillbirth

Speechless

29 Jun

Sometimes words don’t do justice to an amazing gesture of kindness and love that comes from the other side of the world. 

This is one of those times. 

Thank you, Cristy (and Grey) for doing this for Nadav, Shmerson, and me. Thank you isn’t enough to describe how grateful and loved we feel. 

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Open Wounds

14 Apr

A decision has been made.

As soon as we’re cleared medically (which means most likely next month), we have decided to jump into TTC right away.

I can’t say I’m happy with the decision, but I don’t think I’d be happy with any decision. This is the best decision we could have made for our sanity.

I can’t say it’s a good decision, but it’s the right decision.

This isn’t just about what the Russian said. This isn’t about getting the “project baby” show back on the road.

This is about us being tired. We are tired, and we want to know where this is leading us sooner rather than later.

The fact is that we have an open, festering wound that’s done nothing but grow in the last two years. No amount of time will heal this wound. Nothing will heal it. But there is one thing that will at least make it turn into a scar – and that’s a baby.

We can’t ignore this wound, so we’ve chosen to accept it. We will jump in, hold our breath, and hope against all hope that it will become a scar sooner rather than later.

I keep myself busy. I try to do things that are good for me. But the fact is that most days I feel like a walking freak show. I’m that babyloss mom. I’m that woman that miscarried all those times and had a stillbirth. I’m that broken body. I am not me.

That is the open wound. It’s one that will never go away.

I just hope that we can make it scab over soon. And that somehow through all of it I manage to maintain a bit of myself.

Don’t Think

5 Apr

I’ve noticed a kind of theme emerging in conversations I’ve been having with newly pregnant/newly TTC/newly babylost women lately. I figured it was time to make it into an actual post, and it’s pretty timely, considering I’ve been living by this mantra since we lost Nadav, and even more so the past week or two.

How many of you have been told the following:

“Think positively, and everything will work out.”

How did I not come up with this on my own? Of course! That’s the magic solution! Think positive thoughts! I’m sure all of the crap that has happened to me is entirely my fault because I didn’t think positively!

Don’t you all just love that little gem of advice? Useless and guilt-inducing all at once! It’s the whole package.

The fact is, that this journey sucks. The more loss that happens, the greater the trauma.

Allow me to paint you this picture: someone tells you that there is a present for you, and it’s inside a dark room. You step into the room. You get slapped. You step out, your cheek raw from the pain.

Somehow you are convinced that this slap was a freak accident. Step in again and everything will be fine, you’ll get your present. You take a deep breath and walk in. SLAAAAP!

At this point, you’re kind of pissed. “They” tell you that this hardly ever happens. Surely, if you step into that dark room again, you will get that awesome present.

So you step in for round three. Guess what happens?

At this point, stepping back in for a fourth time would make you a fool.

I’m a four-time fool so far. Somehow, insanely, willing to go in for round five. Will I get slapped again? I think I’d be an idiot if I didn’t flinch a little bit just thinking about it.

Trauma is trauma, and I’ve been through more than I would wish on my worst enemy. So no –  I can’t “think positively”.

It’s a miracle I’m functioning at all. And now that we’re starting to talk about round five, anxiety is a given. How can anyone possibly be positive after going through all of this? You’d have to be an idiot. Or get a lobotomy. Maybe a lobotomy would work.

So the way I see it, I’ve got two choices, and neither of them is “thinking positively.” Attempting to “think positively” and the inevitable failure of that attempt will only lead to wallowing and guilt.

So I either think negatively or I don’t think. Period.

I’ve opted to not think.

Or in other words, keep as busy as possible at all times.

Content clients have been falling out of the sky and I’ve been saying yes to everything.

I’ve been working 60 hours a week, sometimes more.

Two days ago I laughed so hard I cried. It was the first time I’ve truly laughed since we lost Nadav. I even found time to hang out with friends between meetings. I had a freaking amazing week.

Then, a couple of hours ago I finally finished what I had to do before passover tomorrow. I sat down at the computer and opened the blogs for the first time all week. Immediately I was hit with sadness again.

Because reading the blogs right now makes me connect to everything I’m dreading, and everything I’ve lost.

Because tomorrow will be another passover without a baby.

Because I was looking forward to having a huge belly right about now.

Because another year has gone by, and nothing has changed.

So I don’t care if some people would say I’m repressing. All I know is that working so hard I don’t have time to think is what’s keeping me from being sad. It’s allowing me to have fun. It’s allowing me to live and not to wallow.

Oh, and it’s making me some pretty decent money.

So that’s my mission looking at round five and everything leading up to it: keep my brain blissfully babyloss free at all possible times. Don’t think, and I just may survive this with my psyche at least partially intact.

It’s not denial. I’m dealing with my fears and my losses – but in small manageable doses with my therapist, with my husband, and with my friends.

But if I stop running even for a second I know I will sink into a grief and fear abyss.

And there’s only so much of the abyss a girl can take.

So I choose to run. And that’s the best piece of advice I can continue to give myself. And you for that matter.

 

I’m Not Going to Lie to You

31 Mar

I’ve been stopping and starting blog posts almost every day for the last week.

Apparently, somewhere through the grieving process, I skipped over stage three (anger) and now it’s coming back to bite me in the ass.

I’m angry. At everything. I hate everything. I don’t want to think about babies, talk about pregnancy, or TTC, or loss, or grief or anything. I don’t want to comfort anyone and I don’t want to be comforted.

I want out of this freaking messed up game, and biology is keeping me in it now more than ever.

Giving birth changed my body, my entire biological make up really. And apart from the excess pounds and the stretch marks that won’t go away I have nothing to show for it.

I’m seriously starting to understand those crazy ladies who kidnap babies.

No, I won’t kidnap a baby.

 

Today I yelled at my mom that she doesn’t understand what I’m going through. And she doesn’t. If you haven’t been through it you can’t understand what it’s like to have your entire body screaming “where’s the baby I just gave birth to?” at you 24/7 when all you want to do is get on with your freaking life already.

Instead, you stare longingly at stranger’s kids and have crazy fantasies about deciding to live child-free and your body actually going along with this decision. Heh. I wish.

This is nothing compared to a first trimester miscarriage. This is a different, exclusive kind of club in hell and I don’t want to be a part of it any more.

I’ve been stopping and starting blog posts because I find myself saying the same things over and over again, and I’m sick of it.

I can’t just wallow in grief, because that would be pointless. So I’m wallowing in anger, bitterness, and frustration. More than I have felt in my whole entire life. Not healthy either but at least it’s not depression. At least I can work every day and go about my life, and at least my eyes aren’t swollen from crying any more.

Oh – and if one more person gives me the sideways “how are you feeling?” pity glance I’m going to kick their ass.

So I’m not going to lie to you guys. I hate every one and every thing right now. So let’s make a deal: No “oh hon, I’m so sorry” comments anymore. Tell me what pisses you off the most about infertility or RPL or the world in general. Tell me a joke. Tell me how much I suck.

Because if I get any more attendees to this little pity party I continue to throw myself I’m going to scream. Seriously.

 

There Can Only Be So Many Dates

22 Mar

Thank you everyone for your supportive comments on my last post. A couple of people mentioned that their readers haven’t been updating since I moved to the new address. Sorry if that’s happening. Please do update your linkage to mommyodyssey.com just in case!

I’m doing a lot better. Mostly hella-distracted because I’m drowning in work, but that’s a good thing. I’m already feeling guilty for being a bad ICLWer. But hopefully the weekend will make me be better.

Tomorrow I’m going to get a tattoo for Nadav. Yesterday was one month since we lost him.

I spent the day working outside the house and I wasn’t sad. I was just… Busy.

And I got something like 10 calls from people making sure I was ok. And I was, I really was.

I was also ok today. I spent most of the day painting the closet doors and the box holding the blinds in our bedroom, and then putting on decals. The end result was pretty freaking fabulous:

The pics are crappy iPhone pics, but I think you get the idea. I haz made a pretty, I haz a happy.

I’ve been thinking a lot about something my dad said, and I mentioned here a few posts back. Nadav’s birthday will never be his original due date. It will always be February 21st, 2012. Even if he had made it to term, chances are that he wouldn’t have come on his exact due date, so in fact, June 22nd has become a somewhat arbitrary date on the calendar. I keep on trying to “prepare” myself for that day, but really, I’m not sure if it’s necessary.

His birthday was, and always will be February 21st.

I think that measuring this loss in terms of dates just feels wrong to me. I can’t just be sad every 21st of the month. Just like I can’t be sad every Tuesday because we lost him on a Tuesday.  Just like I may not feel sad on June 22nd (though if I am, that’s ok).

I should just be sad when I want to be sad, and let myself be happy when I want to be happy.

I’m going to get the tattoo tomorrow not because it’s a special date, but because I just want to have it, and I wanted Shmerson to come with me, and he doesn’t work tomorrow.

And either I’ll be sad tomorrow or I’ll be happy. And that’s ok.

Here’s the bottom line: My son was on this earth for 22 and a half weeks. And he managed to pull off some pretty awesome stuff as a result of his short time here. I think celebrating the awesome is getting easier. As is getting through the grief.

I don’t feel guilty for being happy, because HE made that happen.

And I can’t wait for my new awesome tattoo to commemorate my awesome son. So maybe I’ll celebrate tomorrow. And maybe I’ll cry for a while too.

I think I’ll be ok with either. Or maybe both.

 

I Demand a Refund

20 Mar

The place where I teach had a get-together tonight for the instructors. Just a night out at the bar away from the students. It was supposed to be fun.

An hour into it, for no apparent reason at all, I started bawling.

It was embarrassing. They know about Nadav so no one gave me a weird look, but I hated everything about it.

There I am, in the middle of a freaking bar sobbing like a little girl.

I think it just hit me today, all at once, once again.

It started with a box. There’s a box I made, just for Nadav. It has little things from the pregnancy, and all of the cards I’ve gotten from everyone since we lost him.

Today I went out and got fancy letter stickers and wrote on the box: Full heart, empty arms. 

Empty arms.

I’ve been pregnant long enough for a baby and a half. And my arms are empty. And I miss my son.

I guess writing that sentence down today triggered something. Or a song they played at the bar. Or just the fact that this all freaking sucks.

I carried him for six months. Six. Freaking. Months.

And now – whenever we decide to go again, I have to start all the way at the beginning. For the FIFTH time.

Universe – can’t I just magically be six months pregnant again? I don’t need the baby right away. Just give me those six months so I don’t have to go through that torture again.

I demand a refund.

Tomorrow (well, it’s past midnight here so actually today) marks four weeks.

Wednesday is a month since we lost him.

On Friday I’m going to the tattoo parlor to have a big turquoise butterfly and a small pink one added to the two purple ones. The big turquoise one will be for him. I’m sick of adding butterflies. I don’t want to add any more.

I demand a refund.

And I miss my Nadav.

What Nadav Taught Me: Rebirth

13 Mar

The lessons so far…

This will be the final post in the series. From here, it is time to move on. This blog will continue as a space for me to learn how to live again. For me, for Shmerson, for Nadav, and for the children that we will have in the future.

Losing a child before he or she has been born is a different kind of loss. Yes, the child was a person, but mostly in our minds and hearts. We had only a little bit of a past with Nadav. No memories except for little glimpses of him on a screen or the feeling of him moving inside of me. Losing Nadav meant losing a future.

The path we were on was cut off exactly three weeks ago today. We are now on a divergent one. What we mourn is not what was, but rather, what could have been.

I am proud to say that more often than not, we have embraced the new path we have been given. To say that we prefer it to what could have been would be a lie. Three months from now, I was supposed to be holding my Nadav, my beautiful baby boy in my arms.

Now, I will not be. Nadav’s birthday will never be June 22nd, 2012. It will always be February 21st, 2012.

And it will also be a birthday of sorts for us.

Shmerson and I have changed profoundly. So profoundly that to put it into words seems impossible. The way we view the world has changed. The way we live our lives has changed.

It starts with small things.

I now leave the house with a little bit of make up on and wearing my fabulous jewelry which had been gathering dust. I now have the confidence to sit in front of a new client and ask for the wage that I deserve, and no less because I’m no longer afraid they’ll “like me less.”

Shmerson now sticks up for himself more and speaks his mind with more conviction. He enjoys doing little things around the house. He defends me more loudly and fiercely than he ever has before. He speaks with and sees his friends more often.

We now load the dishwasher immediately after finishing a meal, rather than letting the dishes pile up in the sink. We now buy flowers for our home, to fill it with beauty and color. We now hold each other just a little bit tighter.

It goes on to the bigger things.

Our life choice discussions now also involve what will make us happier, and not just what is “practical”. Our relationships with each of our parents has become more openly loving. I tell my parents that I love them every single day.

Those are just a few small drops in a giant ocean.

Every singular change is part of a whole. They all add up to the fact that we have become completely different people. We are still us. But profoundly changed.

Everything has been turned upside-down. But we are working hard to make sure that this turn will be for the better.

When I look back at this moment in time decades into the future, I know I will see it as a moment that changed my life completely, and I believe – in the long run – made it a happier one. And Nadav, my precious son, is who made that happen.

The last few days have been insane, I’ve been overloaded with work and I let myself drown in it. This morning, it took me a few hours to realize what day it was, and again to let it sink in that it’s only been three weeks since we lost our Nadav. It seems like ages ago, and yet no time at all.

Later in the day I realized that during the packed few days I had had, I hadn’t sunk into thoughts of him at all. I felt guilty about it. I am no longer crying every day. Just once every few days. I’m enjoying my work.

Does that mean I’m forgetting him? That I’m not doing his memory justice?

I was drowning in that guilt today. Finally, I talked about it with my mom and my therapist, and they both said the same thing: he will always be here.

A scar, yes.

A small empty space filled with light reserved just for him.

But also a catalyst for healing myself. For healing my family in a lot of ways. For healing my marriage.

He will always be here because of the understanding that he left behind.

Nadav’s death made me begin to truly live again. And live well. For him. For my husband. For the children we will one day have. For myself. For myself.

This will forever be his legacy. And hopefully I have captured it well on this blog as a memorial to him, and perhaps a comfort to anyone who comes across this little space in the blogoverse.

I now give myself permission to return to the snark and the humor this place had before we lost our son. I now give myself permission to write about frivolous things when I feel like it. I now give myself permission to gradually bring this blog back to where it was before. Only better, because its writer has decided to make her life about more than bringing a baby into this world. She has decided to live it.

And that is something that has been a long time coming.

Thank you Nadav, for teaching me to live life for today.

Thank you for making me appreciate a beautiful blue sky.

Thank you for helping me find some of my old self-confidence.

For teaching me to acknowledge and appreciate…

The tiny moment of satisfaction that comes when I know I’ve cooked something delicious for dinner.

The scent of your father’s hair just after he has come out of the shower.

The view from our balcony just as the sun is setting.

The little conversations I have with your grandfather, when I feel he is truly listening.

The smile on your grandmother’s face when she walks into our apartment and sees that we’ve managed to keep it clean.

The moments when your uncle makes me laugh so hard that it hurts.

The sounds Luna makes when she’s dreaming.

The warmth of a home filled with fresh flowers.

The simple act of sitting on the couch with Luna and your father while we watch a stupid TV show, snuggled under a blanket.

The satisfaction of looking at myself in the mirror and feeling that today, I actually look kind of pretty.

The warmth that surrounds me each time your father holds me.

Every tiny little joy in life that has gone long ignored. Far too long.

Most importantly – thank you for showing me the beauty and unfathomable power of a strong marriage, true friendship, and a loving family.

You will forever be a part of our family, forever in our hearts. Every smile, every laugh, and every tear will echo with what you have taught your parents. We are forever changed, and for the better.

This is because of you, my beautiful baby boy. You did this. I will never ever forget that.

I will never ever forget you, my firstborn son.

On the night of February 21st, 2012,  when their son passed away, a mother and a father were born

What Nadav Taught Me: Live Life

9 Mar

The lessons so far…

It’s kind of strange, the way your psyche can react when you get devastating news. Shock first, of course. The shock sometimes leads to tears, or sometimes the tears come right after, when the news starts sinking in.

But then your mind can go to places you never expect.

This is what happened with me. We got the news that Nadav probably won’t make it at 4am. By 4:30 I was admitted into the hospital. By 5am, I was hugging Shmerson and two sentences just spilled out of my mouth:

I want to enjoy our marriage.

I want to go study art therapy. 

Translation, now that I can look back at that moment:

I want to live my life again

A few moments before uttering those sentences an unexpected feeling was flooding every part of my being: relief.

As my mind was racing in those moments I couldn’t help but judge myself harshly for that feeling. Relief? My son is dying and I’m feeling relief? I was sickened by it until I recognized the cause.

I was finally, after almost two years, released from anxiety. The worst had happened. The worst possible thing. I didn’t need to be afraid anymore. It was, as my psychiatrist called it during our session today: Instant Immersion Therapy.

But it was also more than that. I was now finally out of the race. Because after such a devastating loss, how can you not be out of the race?

I know those last two sentences don’t necessarily make sense out of context. So allow me to give you some.

I used to be a vibrant, ambitious, energetic woman. I had chutzpah. I had dreams. I had goals. I went out with friends. I had fun. I dyed my hair silly colors. I would buy crazy jewelry and crazy shoes.

The decline – the gradually growing distance from that person – started happening before our first loss, but our first loss tossed me into a spiral. As I’ve written here before, my brain broke. Even after getting happy pills to address the problem, I still wasn’t the same person. Even medicated, my other identity continued to slip further away. Everything became about a singular focused mission: I needed to “make up” for this loss. I needed a baby. Stat.

And I pulled Shmerson into the spiral right after me.

Just so you have a general idea of how this has affected our marriage: We were married at the end of May 2010. My first miscarriage happened in July. We’ve been in the race since then. I have been pregnant for approximately 75% of our entire marriage so far.

Or in other words, I had only two months to truly enjoy my marriage before I dragged Shmerson after me into a baby making race. It consumed us. He wasn’t as vocal about it as I was, but everything was about “when a baby comes.” Or “after we have a baby.” Or “If I’m pregnant”.

Each time I saw a cute dog up for adoption, my mantra was: “Baby first, second dog later.” When I considered any major change in my career, with which I’ve been unsatisfied with for a while, it was always “Baby first, career change later.”

Everything was “baby first.” With the exception, of course, of things that would be good for a baby, like moving into a bigger place.

Baby first.

Even my lame attempts at self-improvement and “living for me” during the break between loss #2 and loss #3 weren’t for ME. They were for “a baby”. Period. I lied to myself and to you by saying otherwise. I was convinced at the time that “just relax” would work and we’d finally have a successful pregnancy. We all know how well that adventure turned out.

Over the course of these two years, Shmerson and I gradually became hermits. We couldn’t go out with friends, because we needed to save money for when a baby comes. We didn’t plan anything too far into the future because – what if I’ll be pregnant?

Once I was pregnant with Nadav things just got worse, specifically with me. What I wrote here was the tip of the tip of the iceberg. The fear was paralyzing. Apart from going to teach twice a week, I never left the house. And I’m not just talking about when I was on bed rest.

For six months, I. NEVER. LEFT. THE. HOUSE.

I also barely spoke with my friends, “real-life” or “bloggy”. I sunk into my own cyclical, self-destructive, anxiety-ridden thoughts. It was its own special form of hell.

No wonder I felt a sense of relief to be free of it.

Back to the race: The freaking race that we all call TTC. That race stole 2 years of my life. It put my thoughts of a career path change on hold. It kept me from my friends. It kept me from traveling. It kept me from enjoying my marriage. My new marriage with my best friend and the love of my life.

Instead of spending our “newlywed years” enjoying each other, we spent them in mourning, in anxiety, and in a race to fill a void that began with our first loss and just became bigger and bigger with each subsequent one.

The race. The obsessive race. It put our life on hold.

As women, we all desire a child. That desire can overcome us. A loss, naturally, throws that desire into sharp relief and makes it even greater. There is no getting rid of this desire. It’s ingrained into our DNA.

However

There is desire and there is obsession. My desire to fill the void morphed into an obsession. One that consumed all of my time, energy and thought. One that did me harm.

And let’s be honest, there will always be a void. Nadav left a hole that will never be filled with another child. It will be filled with love and light for him, and no one else. I can say the same for each of my other three pregnancies as well, though of course, I will always consider Nadav my firstborn.

St. Elsewhere recently wrote about her new baby Figlia, and the one she lost, Cbub: Figlia is my rainbow baby. Cbub is my unicorn baby.

Like she so beautifully wrote, this is not a race to fill a void that is impossible to fill. And making it one leads, at least for me, to obsessive behavior.

I used to look at myself as two different people. The Mo before the losses, and the Mo after the losses.

That was the mistake. We are one and the same. I just forgot to grow and nurture the “Before Mo”. I ignored her. I let her whither and starve.

“Just in case a baby comes” I ignored her dreams.

Because “we should have a baby first” I told her not to go back to school to get a Master’s in Art Therapy.

I kept her from going out with her husband, seeing her friends, and enjoying her marriage because “we need the money for a baby.”

The “Before Mo” and the “After Mo” are not two different people. They are one and the same. They are me. And I need to be nurtured. Yes, I need to fulfill my desire to have a child, but I also need to grow. I also need to have fun. I also need to live my life.

There is no “Before” and “After”. There is just a woman, already a mother in her heart, that needs to remember that she should mother her own body and soul first and foremost.

Thank you, Nadav, for bringing me back together with the half of me that was missing for so long.

These tears I’ve cried
I’ve cried 1000 oceans
And if it seems
I’m floating in the darkness
Well, I can’t believe that I would keep
Keep you from flying
And I would cry 1000 more
If that’s what it takes
To sail you home
Sail you home
Sail you home
I’m aware what the rules are
But you know that I will run
You know that I will follow you
Over silbury hill
Through the solar field
You know that I will follow you
And if I find you
Will you still remeber
Playing at trains
Or does this litte blue ball
Just fade away
Over silbury hill
Through the solar field
You know that I will follow you
I’m aware what the rules are
But you know that I will run
You know that I will follow you
These tears I’ve cried
I’ve cried 1000 oceans
And if it seems
I’m floating in the darkness
Well I can’t believe that I would keep
Keep you from flying
So I will cry 1000 more
If that’s what it takes
To sail you home
Sail you home
Sail you home
Sail
Sail you home

What Nadav Taught Me: I Am Superwoman

5 Mar

The lessons so far…

Since I was a teenager, I have been terrified of giving birth. I can’t really explain why. Just the pain of it. The massive undertaking that it always seemed to me. It scared the bejeezus out of me. It’s ironic that for the longest time I was actually convinced that I would never ever want to get pregnant because of this.

The fear of giving birth has followed me into my journey toward motherhood. The way I comforted myself was by thinking that it’s common for a woman, by the time she hits the end of the third trimester, to be so eager to meet her baby that labor just doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. The prize at the end is too big. Too precious for the pain to matter.

Plus, there’s the epidural. I always knew I’d most likely go for an epidural.

And then, in a hospital, having understood that my son was gone, I now had to face yet another one of my biggest fears. Without the precious prize. Without nurses or midwives cheering me on. Without the smiling husband and the eager family. Just Shmerson and I, in a small room in the middle of the night, going through a world of pain.

At 6:30pm on February 21st I was induced. I really wanted the option of just being knocked out, but the hospital that I was in didn’t have that option. I would have to go through labor, wide awake.

I asked to not be put in labor and delivery. I knew I wouldn’t be able to survive going through this while there. I was put in a small private room at the end of the hall in the women’s ward of the hospital.

But since I was away from L&D (and I think for some other reasons that I can’t really remember), an epidural was not an option. And nobody bothered to tell me that. All I had was an IV drip that made me kind of stoned, but didn’t help the pain in the slightest.

Contractions started at 9pm. They gradually got worse, and by 10pm they were unbearable. We called the nurse and they started the IV drip, while I was hoping for some relief from the pain. None came.

All that the IV gave me was the inability to concentrate, and the urge to sleep between contractions.

The on-call doctor was an a-hole, and the poor night nurse meant well, but I don’t think she had really been through anything like this before, so she was pretty helpless. Up until that point the staff at the hospital had been amazing, helpful, and compassionate toward us. At the moment that we needed it the most, we were surrounded by helplessness and incompetence.

For three and a half hours, I drifted between sleep and pain (under these circumstances I am grateful that it only took that long. The doctors had said that induction and labor could take as long as 48 hours).

For three and a half hours we were alone.

Nobody gave me any instructions. Nobody was there to cheer us on.

All Shmerson could do was hold my hand while I screamed and cried.

Yet somehow, through the drug-induced haze and through the emotional and unbearable physical pain of it, I managed to pull up the little that I did know about giving birth.

Like to push whenever I felt the urge to. And only during the contractions, not in-between, as tempting as it was.

So I slept, and I screamed, and finally, I pushed.

I had the sense to understand when he was about to come out and to not look down, and to tell Shmerson to run out of the room and yell for the nurse to take Nadav’s body away.

And just like that, 7 hours after I was induced, it was over.

They started a pitocin drip, and I fell fast asleep within minutes.

At 5:30am I was woken up by a doctor so he could examine me and see whether I needed a D&C. By 6am, they rolled me into an operating room. Up until that moment, I had always hated and feared general anesthesia. This time, anesthesia was nothing.

When I woke up from the procedure, the strangest thing happened. I felt empowered. I had lost my son less than 24 hours earlier, yet somehow I felt invincible.

I had gone through labor. Without an epidural. Without getting my baby at the end of it. With minimal medical support.

I had gone through labor and I had survived.

If I could do that, I can do anything.

About a week ago I shared with you my new insight about fear. How useless it is. How anxiety paralyzes you. Even though at the end of the day, if your worst fears come to light, you find they weren’t nearly as terrible as you had imagined. You find that you can survive.

Things may be hard. Even impossible. But you survive.

Today, I went back to teaching my regular 10th grade class. 7 girls, some from poor backgrounds. One of the other teachers had already told them about Nadav last week, but this was the first time they had seen me.

Not wanting an elephant in the room, I started out the class by letting the girls ask me anything they wanted to know about our loss.

With all of us crying, I recounted our story, as honestly as I could. Then one of the girls asked me: “How can you still be here after all of that pain? How did you survive this?”

The girl who asked me that question grew up with an alcoholic, abusive father and a drug addicted mother. Both of her parents died of AIDS when she was ten. She lives in near poverty, with an aunt and uncle who don’t treat her well. This girl is bright, funny, and has one of the most infectious smiles I’ve ever seen.

This girl saw my pain and found it unbearable, while I see hers and feel the same way. Yet somehow, we both got through it.

So I answered her: “In the worst moments, you can sometimes find strength that you never knew that you had.”

Then the girl gave me a hug. Later she took me aside and said: “I think you are so brave.”

The feeling is mutual, kiddo.

I found strength and bravery on the night I delivered Nadav.

Whatever else there is to come: bring it on.

Thank you, Nadav, for showing me that even in the greatest moments of pain and loss, I can overcome. I can be Superwoman.

Bravely I look further than I see
Knowing things I know I cannot be, not now
I’m so aware of where I am, but I don’t know where that is
And there’s something right in front of me and ITouch the fingers of my hand
And I wonder if it’s me
Holding on and on to theories of prosperity
Someone who can promise me
I believe in meTomorrow I was nothing, yesterday I’ll be
Time has fooled me into thinking it’s a part of me
Nothing in this room but empty space
No me, no world, no mind, no faceTouch the fingers of my hand and tell me if it’s me
Holding on and on to Love, what else is real
A religion that appeals to me, oh
I believe in me

Can you turn me off for just a second, please
Turn me into something faceless, weightless, mindless, homeless 
Vacuum state of peace

On and on and on and on and on and on and on and on
I believe in me
On and on and on and on and on and on and on and on
I believe in me

Wait for me, I’m nothing on my own
I’m willing to go on, but not alone, not now
I’m so aware of everything, but nothing seems for real and
As long as you’re in front of me then I’ll

Watch the fingers of our hands
And I’m grateful that it’s me
Holding on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on
I believe in me

I’m willing to go on but not alone, not now
I’m so aware of everything

What Nadav Taught Me: Self-Preservation

1 Mar

Nine days gone. It feels like longer.

I don’t quite know how to put it into words yet, but I feel like a completely different person. A better person for having carried him and been his mommy for such a short time.

Today, I went out with my mom to buy Shmerson a new pair of shoes and pick up some other things for the house. We shopped, and it was nice. Then we passed by this stall that sold these stretchy rubber balls that my nephew used to love when he was younger. We both lingered there for a second, and then both of us had to run to a closed stairwell in the mall to cry.

It’s strange the things that trigger the grief. A few days ago it was loading dishes in a dishwasher. Last night it was giving Luna a bath.

But the light is not lost, and it’s getting brighter. I’ve gradually started  getting back to work, which is doing me a world of good. Keeping busy really is the best therapy. I’m still physically wiped, so I’m taking it easy, but it’s a start.

Each day things get easier as the ugly memories fade and the beauty of our Nadav remains. Inch by inch, slowly, grief is being replaced with love and light from our baby boy. Which brings us to another lesson.

***

Just a note: This post is about a difficult decision I had to make. It is not an easy post to read, just as it was hard to write. I also want you all to know that I am not judging other women who have made different decisions in similar situations. Each person knows their own limits, reactions and needs, and every individual does what is right for them.

***

Let me start with an explanation: Jewish tradition dictates that a baby is not considered a person until they are alive outside the womb. As a result, Israeli hospitals act a bit differently from other countries when it comes to stillbirth, or the term I really don’t like “late term miscarriage”.

When we realized that Nadav was lost, we were visited by a hospital social worker, and I asked her about our options for after the delivery. All I knew were stories that I had read through our little ALI community. I had no idea how things were done in this neck of the woods. She told me that usually nothing is done, but that if we wanted, we can ask the medical staff to do something.

I didn’t know what to do. Should I hold him? Should we have someone take a picture? Should I do anything at all? A lot of the emails and support I got from other Baby Loss Moms during that first day suggested I hold him, or at least have someone take a picture.

Immediately when hearing about my thoughts on the issue, my entire family said I need to do nothing. I shouldn’t look at him, hold him, or have anyone take pictures.

They know me, and they thought I would be doing myself serious damage with any of these options. Shmerson had already decided for himself not to see him or hold him. He knew it would upset him too much in the long term.

On the other hand,  I went back and forth on this decision for hours. I finally decided to call my psychiatrist. If any of this was going to cause me permanent damage, or on the other hand, help the grieving process, he would know.

After telling him of our situation, I immediately asked for his feedback on this issue.  He told me that he has seen countless cases of mothers coming to him even decades after their loss, and those images haunting them in very damaging ways.

In my case, he said I was in danger of it being even worse than that. My “official” diagnosis is PTSD characterized by internalized OCD, depression, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Or in short – my effed up brain chemistry causes me to have cyclical repetitive thoughts that create anxiety and non-functional depression.

He told me – and I quote – “You don’t need those images in your head. The way your mind works, they will haunt you in very damaging ways and only make the PTSD you already have even more massive, and more long-term. Don’t hold him. Don’t take pictures, and don’t even look at him if you can avoid it.”

Of course, the “expert opinion” still didn’t mean I had made my decision.

I knew that Nadav wouldn’t be alive when I delivered him. I knew that for some women, seeing or holding their babies helped them. And I knew that somewhere inside me, even though he was going to be tiny and not fully developed, I wanted to see his face.

Still – my entire family was adamant. Shmerson especially: “Don’t do it. It isn’t going to be him that you deliver. He is already gone. Holding him or seeing him will not help him, and it will damage you.”

I knew they were right. But I felt selfish. How could I not hold him? How could I treat this little tiny being – my son – as if he wasn’t there?

Because he really wasn’t there. He was already gone. And I was – am – still here.

And I need to be here. I need to  preserve myself and my sanity so that I can go on. For him and for the siblings he will have one day.

So after a full day of internal debate, the decision was made.

The staff at the hospital was given strict instructions: Don’t let her or her husband see him. Be prepared to take him, covered, out of the room immediately after delivery.

I delivered our Nadav 9 days ago. The hardest moments for me are the ones where I shut my eyes and I can still feel his tiny body leaving mine. They are not moments of peace, they are the moments of true terror. I can only imagine how much worse these moments would be had I looked at him or held him.

For the first few days I felt terrible about my decision. Like I had abandoned him. I had left him all alone and didn’t hold him or look at him. I felt like a terrible mother.

In one of my darkest moments all I could do was scream about how he must have been so cold and alone, and how could I have let that happen?

But in clarity, I know it wasn’t him. He had left hours before, while he was still with me. He was not abandoned. He was loved beyond measure.

I know the decision we made is not what’s right for everyone. But it was right for us.

It means our memories of him are of his little trampoline parties after I had eaten too much sugar.

Of the little dances he did when we saw him on the ultrasound.

The dreams we had of his perfect – alive –  smiling face.

The tiny kicks I had started to feel just days before he left us.

Those are happy memories of him, not marred by the images that could have taken over. Seeing him or holding him would not have helped HIM, and it certainly wouldn’t have helped us.

Despite those darker moments, I understand that now. I know that I made the decision that was right for me.

The decision was one of self-preservation. Something I had never even considered before.

I was always the masochist. The one to subject myself to unnecessary pain and guilt, for no other reason than to punish myself. For who knows what.

Not this time.

This time I chose to preserve my mental health. To not pile on even more nightmares.

We have enough of those as it is. Adding more would have done no good to anyone.

So I thought of me. My future as a mentally stable, happy mother to the children we will have one day. Our future as a family, always missing our firstborn, but being good parents to the siblings he will have one day.

Self-preservation is really Ok sometimes.

Thank you, Nadav, for teaching me that.

Maybe I didn’t like to hear

But I still can’t believe

Speed Racer is dead

So then I thought I’d make some plans

The fire thought

She’d really rather be water instead

And Peggy got a message for me

From Jesus

And I’ve heard every word

That she was saying

And I know I have been

Driven like the snow

This is cooling

This is cooling

This is cooling

Faster than I can

This is cooling

Faster than I can

So then love walked up to like

She said I know that you don’t like me much

Let’s go for a ride

This ocean is wrapped around that pineapple tree

And is your place in heaven worth giving up

These kisses

These kisses

And Peggy got a message for me

From Jesus

And I heard every word that she had said

And I know I have been

Driven like the snow

This is cooling

This is cooling

Faster than I can

This is cooling

Faster than I can

Yes, this is cooling

This is cooling

What Nadav Taught Me: Ask and You Shall Receive

29 Feb

Today – in fact two hours ago precisely – marks one week since we lost Nadav. Time is moving fast, and for that I am grateful. We are doing as ok as we can be. My family and friends have been on “Mo watch”, so I have someone with me literally 24 hours a day, keeping me busy, distracted, or just letting me talk and cry. This is because of one of the biggest lessons that Nadav taught me.

I’ve never been one of those people who expected others to read my mind and then somehow magically give me exactly what I need at any given moment.

On the other hand, I also never really ask for anything. I feel weird asking for help of any kind. I’ve always felt like I don’t deserve it. Or that I’m inconveniencing the people around me by asking.

Nadav taught me that sometimes it’s ok to ask for what you need.

In the three days we spent in the hospital, everyone with me there was in pain. Yes, this was happening to my body. But the loss was everyone’s. Shmerson, of course. But my parents, my in-laws, my brother, my friends. Everyone was shaken to the core.

My instinct when I see people around me in pain is to ignore my own needs and worry about their pain. Even if the people in pain are in that situation because of something that is happening to me.

So there I was stuck in the hospital, battling to make peace with the fact that I was losing my baby boy, and yet I kept on comforting others. Shmerson, my mother, my father… I kept on being “Ok” so they wouldn’t suffer more than they already had been.

But unlike other times, I drew a line. I didn’t do this at my own expense.

If there was one thing that I knew, it was that even if I wasn’t feeling it exactly at that moment, I was heading into a world of fear and unimaginable pain – both physical and emotional. I was still numb so I could still be strong for them. But I knew the numbness wouldn’t last long.

Usually when I’m in a crisis, I don’t answer the phone if a friend is calling. When I’m depressed and a friend offers to come over, I make up some excuse why they shouldn’t. Because I don’t want them to go out of their way to help or comfort me. Because I don’t deserve their help or attention. Or at least that’s how I feel.

Shmerson and I have been through losses before. Not of this scope, but three miscarriages showed me how I respond to offers of help and comfort in a crisis. I don’t. I close myself off and crawl into a deep dark hole, coming up for air only when I reach an unbearable breaking point.

This time I didn’t do that.

Mere hours after I was admitted into the hospital a string of revelations hit me like a 5 ton anvil. One of those was about asking for help.

I thought to myself: You are about to enter into a nightmare, and you won’t be able to face it alone. So just don’t. Ask for what you need.

So I texted friends to let them know what was going on. When someone offered to come see me in the hospital, I said “yes, please.”

I knew I needed some bloggy love and I couldn’t bring myself to post, so I asked Court and Rachel to post on their blogs to let you guys know what was going on, expecting that I would get a few comments that would bring some comfort.

Of course, I never expected or could even fathom the outpouring of love and support that would come from that small request. And when it came, it was more needed and at the same time more comforting than I ever imagined (and I’m sure I’m missing at least a few of you lovely ladies who took the time to send love my way. Wow, just getting those links together is overwhelming. You guys are amazing. Amazing is an understatement).

But most importantly, apart from letting my friends know that I was in a crisis – I spoke up. Often.

My parents have a serious issue with seeing me cry. It’s not that we’re not an emotional family. We are. But they get defensive and even angry sometimes when I cry. I realized a few years ago that this is because they absolutely cannot stand to see me in pain, so they react by wanting me to just magically stop being in pain. It’s not really healthy, but that’s who they are.

Knowing this, I thought to myself: Not now. Not this time. Our first morning in the hospital, without a tear in my eye, I sat my mother down for a talk:

In the coming days, and maybe months, I’m going to be crying. A lot. And it may come out of nowhere. And you may hate seeing it. But you have to let me cry. I need you to let me cry, and I need you to hug me when I cry. I need you to let me show my pain. 

And with few exceptions, she has been doing that ever since (as well as my father).

But it wasn’t only my mother. Before going in for all the medical procedures leading to the induction and with the clearest intent, I sat Shmerson and my mother down once again:

I don’t know how I’m going to act in the coming hours. They’re going to be medicating me. I may lose control and scream horrible things. I may be catatonic. I’m sorry if anything I say upsets you. But most importantly, I won’t be able to be my own advocate. I need you to keep an eye on me and make sure the staff is taking care of me. Make sure I’m not bleeding too heavily. Make sure they take my temperature every couple of hours. Make sure they give me medications X, Y, and Z. 

And they did.

But the biggest change?

The phone has rung. Friends have called and sent messages, wanting to come over or just to see how I’m doing.

This time – 9 times out of 10 I answer. If they want to come over, even if at that second my instinct tells me that I want to just be alone, I say “yes please”.

Sometimes I’m too far gone to answer the phone. Usually I don’t feel like calling back. But even then, I send this text message:

Thank you so much for calling and thinking of me. I’m sorry I didn’t answer but I’m not much up for talking right now. But please keep calling. Just knowing you care enough to call is a huge comfort to me. And I promise – I will answer eventually. 

Sunday night was a hard night. Shmerson was already asleep because he had to work the next morning. I couldn’t stop crying. It was too late to call anyone local, and honestly, I just wanted an escape. I didn’t want to talk or cry any more.

So I asked for one. I took to twitter and people came through, sending funny videos and links, distracting me enough so that I could go to bed without taking any pills for a change.

And right at this moment: I have received all of your emails, tweets and comments. I’m sorry if I haven’t replied. But please know that each one of them strengthens me and comforts me, and I appreciate and love every single one of you for the amazing support that you have given me. And I still need it. Thank you for answering my call for help.

And thank you Nadav for teaching me that calling for help is Ok.

20,000 seconds since you’ve left and I’m still counting
And 20,000 reasons to get up, get something done
But I’m still waiting
Is someone kind enough to
Pick me up and give me food, assure me that the world is good
But you should be here, you should be here
How colors can change and even the texture of the rain
And what’s that ugly little stain on the bathroom floor
I’d rather not deal with that right now
I’d rather be floating in space somewhere or
Worry about the ozone layer

And it’s almost like a corny movie scene
But I’m out of frame and the lighting’s bad
And the music has no theme
And we’re all so strong when nothing’s wrong
And the world is at our feet
But how small we are when our love is far away
And all you need is you

 

What Nadav Taught Me: Introduction

27 Feb

I have made a decision. I will not be telling you all of our story. It’s not because I don’t think you need to know. It’s because I don’t want the difficult decisions we had to make and the unbearable and terrifying experience to overshadow the beauty that our son gave us in his short time on this earth.

I don’t think that going through the gritty details will help anyone. Not you, dear readers and friends, and certainly not me.

It has been 6 days since we lost him. I am in pain. I have days when all I can do is go from crying to hysterical screams. I am lucky to be constantly surrounded by friends and family that cry with me, embrace me, or just make sure to keep me as busy as possible. I count every single one of you amongst those friends.

But I need to write. And writing out the thoughts and memories that go through my head during those moments when I break will not help heal me. My healing and my comfort come from the moments of clarity. Those are the ones I return to when I need to be pulled back from the abyss. Those are what will be my son’s legacy. Those are what I will record here.

This blog was started with hope in my heart. It will not become a place of pain. My son’s legacy will not be a nightmare story. It will be the story of the triumphs and understanding that have come out of unimaginable grief. I am determined that his story will give peace of mind and not anxiety. Hope and not fear.

I will post here every few days, when I feel up to it, with the lessons he has given me in my moments of peace, and come back to them when I need them in the moments where I feel the darkness of grief overcome me. When the time comes, they will be a part of me and I will go on and live my life. For him and for me and my Shmerson.

This will be the legacy of my son.

Hopefully they will help you too. Thanks for being here and reading along.

Let me wrap myself around you
Let you show me how I see
And when you come back in from nowhere
Do you ever think of me?
Your heart is not able
Let me show you how much I care
I need those eyes to tide me over
I’ll take your picture when I go
It gives me strength and gives me patience
But I’ll never let you know
I got nothing on you baby
But I always said I try
Let me show you how much I care
Cause sometimes it gets hard
And don’t she know
Don’t give the ghost up just clench your fist
You should have known by now you were on my list
Don’t give the ghost up just clench your fist
You should have known by now you were on my list
Don’t give the ghost up just clench your fist
You should have known by now you were wrong (on my list)
When your heart is not able
And your prayers they’re not fables
Let me show you how much I care
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