Saturday, December 12, 2015

Should be Would be Birthday

To quote Pink, "in a parallel universe, where nothing hurts and nothing breaks," today Lydia would turning one.

It should be her first birthday party.  It would be perfect, being a Saturday.

Most pregnant women don't know the date their baby will be born.  I did, or thought I did.  With my c-section scheduled for months and months before that date, there didn't seem to be any doubt about it.  Dr. B gave me the options of December 11th or 12th, and I chose the 12th.  Why?  Because Benjamin's birthday is 4/4 and I thought 4/4 and 12/12 was pretty damn cool.

I never imagined that instead we would be holding her memorial service.

This year, nothing's noted on December 12th on the calendar.  Not Lydie's birthday, not her death day, not even her due date.

Just the day she was supposed to be born.

I actually don't subscribe to this theory.  Not at all.  But I do like seeing Josephine wearing Lydia's name.

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This year, Justin was invited to a holiday party that some bigwig at his work throws yearly.  Holiday parties are full of small talk.  Small talk is full of triggers.  And only one or two people would even know about Lydia there.  But even though neither one of us particularly wanted to, we figured we should probably go.

And Oma Jo drove in just for the evening to babysit, since we wouldn't leave Josephine with anyone else.  (Thank you Oma Jo.)

On the ride there, Justin and I discussed how we'd answer the question, "How many kids do you have?"  It was inevitable, and we wanted to be on the same page.

We decided the answer was "three," and when the follow up question of "how old are they?" came, we would reply, "two-and-a-half, would be one, and two months."  If anyone caught on to the subtlety of the "would be," we'd explain more.

But a glass of wine in and I already butchered our response.  Instead of leaving it at "would be one," I added "but she died."

The woman quickly stammered, "I'm so sorry."  And never mentioned it again.

Which honestly, was okay.

The next time we were asked, the man told me I should speak with his wife.  She's a professor.  She teaches nursing.  And a labor and delivery course.

Soon I was chatting with this woman all about Lydia.  There I am describing the moment I found out my daughter was dead in the middle of a cocktail party.  She asked a lot of questions and we had been talking for about thirty minutes, when she said, "Well, sometimes we just don't understand the reason."

"Excuse me?" I asked.

"The reason.  You know, everything happens for a reason."

I started shaking my head profusely.  "No," I said.

"You don't believe everything happens for a reason?" She asked.

"No," I said.  "And you wouldn't either if your child's urn was on your mantle."

We debated it for another minute.   She told me, "Sometimes bad things happen and it takes me ten years to figure out why, but I always do."

I was aghast.  My boyfriend didn't dump me; my child died.  It wasn't just something "bad," it was tragic.

I found Justin and announced this lady made me need more wine.  And when I went to the bathroom upstairs to pump, I called my sister and told her, "You're never going to believe this!"

Last night, I was able to find the humor in the situation.  I just talked with this woman for thirty minutes about my dead daughter, and then she tells me that she died for a reason!?!  Are you fucking kidding me?

Today, I am insulted, and I am also a bit worried that this woman instructs nurses.  I would like that woman to read this article: Everything does not happen for a reason  As Tim Lawrence writes: That's the kind of bullshit that destroys lives.  And it's categorically untrue....  I'm not going to construct some delusional narrative fallacy for myself so that I can feel better about being alive.  This is why all the platitudes and fixes and posturing are so dangerous: in unleashing them upon those we claim to love, we deny them the right to grieve.

Besides that woman, it wasn't a terrible time.  It felt big to be out, without my youngest daughter and with my grief.




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Today, Lydie's little sister is two months old.  And today, she smiled at me for the first time.

It's a heavy grief day, but Josephine helps to lighten that load.


Caught one on camera!  Little sister with our Lydie Bear

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Sometimes I am surprised how much I can miss someone I never actually got to know.


12 comments:

  1. Heather, I so admire your honesty. I've found myself in conversation (with a nurse at the OB's office!) being told that there is a reason for everything and while we don't...blah blah blah blah blah. I just sat there though, cocked my head to the side with a look of, "could we change the subject please?!" We didn't. But I wish I had had the courage and honesty that you had at this party. Your voice is the voice of so many loss moms and I admire it so much.

    Happy would be should be birthday to sweet Lydie. She is so very special and I love her so.

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    1. We love you and Eloise too. And next time punch that nurse for me.

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  2. Oh wooooow.

    I've had this conversation with someone once. One of my good friends, actually. She subscribes to the theory too. Granted, she has good reasons behind it--being that she had unexplained fertility married to her ex for....7 years? Then gets divorced because he was a dick, then she gets remarried, and hey, she's pregnant.

    I get it. She thinks God worked all that out for her.

    But I've explained to her a few times that no, that's not true. You just got the best result out if a shitty situation.

    And I didn't get good results out of a good situation.

    She still believes it, and I still don't. We'll never agree on it, and that's ok. I'm kind of over debating about it. But I hate the fact that I think she believes that Luke died so I could have Lena. That will NEVER be a reason. Never.

    Shit happens. We do the best we can with what we're given. That's all. I posted that article, and I wonder if she read it. Deep down, I hope it made her rethink how she says that.

    Anyway. Should-be-birthdays should never be a thing. That's what I think.

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    1. Your friend would drive me nuts. How nice that it worked out that way for her. I felt like this woman was also meaning that now I have Josephine - as if that makes up for losing Lydia? She has 3 kids and I told her, "I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want to choose between your children." Thank goodness I had some wine in me.

      Plan B. We're doing the best we can with Plan B. And we'll forever mourn Plan A.

      "Should-be-birthdays should never be a thing." Nope. They shouldn't.

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  3. Thank you for this post. I can't bear small talk right now - it is just too exhausting. I am so glad you spoke up to that woman. "Everything happens for a reason" or "This will have some purpose in your life" is easy for those who have never had a tragedy to say.

    I heard something on a science show - that what you believe as truth is based on your perspective. Boy- losing a child can really shift your perspective. Sometimes bad luck and the laws of nature strike us and leave our hearts with a gaping hole- for NO reason. I am so sorry your night was upset. People don't realize how much it takes just to put yourself back out there. What dread it brings to answer those simple small talk questions. At not even six months out, I am still hiding out.

    That article you shared was excellent. I am taking a break from social media but it is so good I am tempted to share.

    So sorry your Lydie is not with you. Kim

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    1. Kim, I was still hiding out at 6 months too. It's gotten a bit easier over time, but it's still hard, especially when I encounter ignorant people like that woman. I agree that it's about your perspective, and I guess that was one of the frustrating parts of this conversation. How nice it would be if I could still believe that, but I never will again, and it seemed disrespectful to say to me at that point in time.

      Anyway, I hope you are hanging in there as best as you can. That's the most we can ask for some days. When you're back on social media, feel free to look me up. Connecting with other loss moms is the best part of it these days for me.

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    2. Thanks Heather.I hadn't really thought of connecting with other loss moms on Facebook but it might be helpful. When I rejoin society I will look you up.

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  4. Gah, I hope she doesn't say that shit to moms who are in those first moments of learning their baby died. It's such a cruel and stupid (and WRONG!) thing to say.

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    1. I knoooow Caroline! I'm a bit worried. Why would you even work in the medical profession if you believed this to be true? Like why try to fight cancer if whatever will happen will happen? Give me a break.

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  5. I have been reading your blog for a while and find it very comforting-my husband and I lost our daughter this past August from what they think was a cord accident. I am so devastated, I was going to stay at home with our daughter but instead I have returned to work. I often feel like life has returned to "normal", which is so painful. I have heard many times before that "God has a plan and a purpose for everything", I even heard the painful comment, "what if she would have died after birth because of a disease or something?" People don't know what to say and in their effort to comfort us, they say really crappy things. I'm sorry this happened to you. I too am scared that this woman is teaching nurses-this is not the thought process a nurse or anyone in the medical profession should be thinking...

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Ashleigh. I always like to know who is reading! I'm sorry about your daughter. I see you've connected with other friends of mine too... I hope that has helped you a bit.

      I wrote at one point that the "new normal" was just like the old normal with a big fucking hole in the middle of it. I still think that's accurate. It's really hard to go back to work, especially when you should be on maternity leave, home with your baby. I'm sorry. Work was really hard for me for a long time and I really wasn't able to invest much into it.

      We have all heard such shitty comments. I'm sorry you have heard so many too.

      And yes, how scary is it that this woman is teaching other medical professionals?

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  6. Going to offer a little "nurse" perspective on this one. I have been an RN for 16 years and worked in many different areas. Many, many healthcare professionals subscribe to the "everything happens for a reason" belief (very similar is the "this pain has purpose" belief). It used as a coping/self-preservation technique. I have seen so much completely horrific awful during my career. I have experienced secondary trauma as a result of the awful stuff I have seen and been a part of as a professional. I still love being nurse and wouldn't change my profession. A way of coping with the awful is to believe that good can come of it, that there is a reason behind it that we can't see right now. It gives a much needed measure of hope and enables one to move on to the next awful thing. There is good that happens, too. Much good, but plenty of awful that cannot be brushed off or ignored. I have also experienced a high level of personal trauma that resulted in PTSD, two years of counselling/grief therapy, and a crisis in faith. What I have learned is that people are going to cope with tragedy the best they can. If they find something that works for them, they are going to share it...because coping with tragedy is f*ing hard and you want to offer a life ring to anyone you see that is floundering. I could argue both sides of this debate because I have been firmly planted on both. We are all hurting and doing our best to deal with the hurt and move forward to a place of acceptance. I don't think the nurses/healthcare professionals that use the "this pain has purpose" or "everything happens for a reason" method of coping are wrong. Perhaps they are doing their best to make sense of of the countless tragedies they bear witness to in a way that allows them to keep getting up and going to work. Is is wrong for them to offer this perspective to others dealing with tragedy? When I was blindsided by personal tragedy I was so grateful for every life preserver tossed my way...even the ones that ended up not floating well. Because at the core I could see it wasn't about being right or wrong but about someone that cared trying to help they best they could with what they had. Great nurses (great people, actually) have learned how listen more than they talk, and to talk to someone rather than preach at them. I don't begrudge anyone that believes all things happen for a reason, but I do struggle with someone trying to force this belief on me. I am sorry this happened to you and hope you can understand why she feels strongly about this. It works for her in the space she is in right now, it works for lots of nurses/healthcare professionals. It stops being helpful when they believe it will work for everyone, just like my coping skills will lose value if I try to force them on someone that doesn't have my perspective. I am so sorry that Lydie died. So very sorry. It is tragic and I feel it in my guts when you say that nothing will make it okay. Oh I get it, and I wish I didn't. I wish that people would stop trying to make grieving people feel like they need to find a reason that makes our losses okay. My prayer is that this nurse recognizes what is helpful to her isn't for everybody, and that she chooses a different life preserver to toss next time. Maybe the "I'm so sorry, that is so sad. Thank you for sharing your daughter with me. I can see you loved her very much." preserver...

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