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Losing friends…

Losing friends…

One of the many sad truths of grieving the loss of a child is the people you loose around you.

I have yet to figure out exactly why this is… 

All I know is that over the past couple of months the invites have become less… the phone calls have become less… the ‘see you this weekend’ have become less…

My guesses are that people are afraid of our pain, afraid to ‘awaken’ our grief and afraid to remind us – trust us we don’t need you to remind us – our daughter is never far from our minds or our hearts! 

Yet we still spend more and more weekends alone…

We do need you to call us, to extend the invites and for us still be one of your first thoughts. 

We need you to not be afraid to talk about our daughter, find joy with us in hear beloved memory and laugh with us at every day jokes… we need you accept the new us and still love us like you had before…

We need our friends…

Uncomfortable answers 

Uncomfortable answers…

There are two conversations that are surrounded by so much stigma… infertility and miscarriage/stillbirth. For the stigma to be lessen we need to ‘up’ the conversation…

With every ‘calander’ event comes a frenzy of social media memes, pictures, special arrangements, gifts, questionnaires and the list goes on and on… 

One of these going around now is this Mother’s day questionnaire and I wish more than you could ever know that I could comfortably copy, fill out and paste this questionnaire… 

So in doing my part to reduce the stigma I will do that exact thing… 

Here goes:

In honor of upcoming Mother’s Day: ALL ABOUT YOUR FIRST BORN

 1. Epidural – No – full on anesthesia 

 2. Father in the room? No – he was in his ear to the hospital 

 3. Induced? Emergency c- section (but not side to side – from my navel down – emergency as in the focus was to save my life)

 4. Know the sex beforehand? Yes

 5. Due Date? 31 October 2016

 6. Birth Date? Stillborn on 07 July 2016

 7. Morning sickness? Nope

 8. Cravings? Yes, cheese

 9. Kilos gained? 4 kg 🙉🙈🐵

 10. Sex of the baby? Girl

 12. Place you gave birth: Pretoria East 

 13. Doctor? Dr Trouw

 14. Hours in labor? 5.5 hours 🛏😅👩🏼‍⚕️

 15. Baby’s weight? 380g

 16. Baby’s Name? Shiloh Pretorius 

 17. How old is your baby this mothersday? She has been dancing in heaven for 10 months and 3 days

My list may not look like yours – point is that does not make me any less of a momma! My arms are empty but my heart is not…

(NOT)Mothers’ day

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(NOT)Mothers’ day is the Mothers’ Day so many of us had and will have this year.

On Sunday 07 May 2017 was bereaved or still- Mothers’ Day in the loss community and the utter sadness I experienced caught me off guard.

Honestly, I have not given the concept of Mothers’ Day much tough up until the last week or so, mostly because I did not want to. I did not want to be reminded everywhere I go that my Mothers’ Day will not be what it should have been. Looking back now, I probably should have faced my feeling a lot sooner; maybe it would not have been as difficult to deal with as it is now. All those emotions that I conveniently shoved down are coming back up, not as it went down – bit for bit, feeling for feeling, but ALL at once.

I found myself being angry with myself because I know better than to shove my feelings away. So here they all are, all at once, staring me in the face, reminding me, saddening me, torturing me.

The cherry on the cake of sadness on (NOT)Mothers’ Day, was the 10 month anniversary of the stillbirth of our daughter. I think that was my tipping point, 10 months is a long time and yet it still feels like just yesterday. The tears are never tucked away too far, the emotions and triggers jump up from nowhere and everywhere and more often than not I am transported back to what feels like the bottom of my mountain of grief and I have to start all over with the climb.

This time I have no profound conclusion, no awe-inspiring advice, no comfort to offer… this time I am just sad, bereaved and jealous of every mother that gets to celebrate Mothers’ Day for real…

Take the time to NOT be fine

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Take the time to NOT be fine is a phrase I heard on an episode of one or another show I watched. I literally replayed that scene about five(5) times before the actuality of the phrase sunk in. Take the time to not be fine…

To be honest, I know this phrase is not revolutionary in the least and over the past months I have heard a version with the same idea more than once, but something in the compilation of this phrase resonated with what I was feeling and needed to hear.

I am an endless optimist and if I am truly honest, grieving as an optimist is a whole new experience. Something in me wants to believe that one day I will wake up and see the world smile at me again. Discovering over and over again that that smile has to come from inside of me is petrifying and I am afraid that I will never again be able to do that spontaneously.

In moments like that I have to gather all my strength to not crawl back under the covers and stay there and I have to remind myself that it’s okay to take the time to not be fine… and soon the optimists starts creeping back and I find myself hoping again.

Finding my hope is a decision I make every day and reading articles and blog posts of other stillmothers dealing with the same kind of grief has really helped me in this lonely journey. Going through all the emotions related to grief can so often leave a person bitter and angry and to be honest some days I nurture this anger and bitterness a little – taking the time to not be fine

So goes the days of grieving and one day I found myself spending quite a while reading other stillmothers’ posts. I found this post of a stillmother eight (8) years after the stillbirth of her son, feeling just as bitter and angry as I was feeling – and do not get me wrong, her journey is just that, her journey alone – but I realised that eight (8) years from now I really do not want to be as bitter and angry as I am at this point in my grieving.

The optimist burst through me at that moment and I realised I have a need, an urge, to get to the point where bitterness and anger start drifting away and in its place love and celebration remains. I want to celebrate my daughter and the hope she brought and the love she evoked… in the end that is the memory I want to cherish, the memory I am learning to hold on to.

A most hated question

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A most hated question

Unconsciously, there have become certain things about every day, what seems to me, a mundane life, which I have come to resent… and the worst of these are ‘niceties of society’.

What I mean by that is I feel our society has fallen into certain habits of social formalities that we rarely stop to take in what they actually mean…

One of these that have actually cut me to the core is a simple, common, everyday question – How are you.

In my experience, we usually have one of three answers to this question:

I am well thanks and yourself – implying that you are in fact well, you are happy and maybe even to some extent content in your life.

I am okay – implying that things could be better, but they could also be worse.

And on the rare and honest occasion you might get the: I am doing bad answer – implying that things are, well, just that, bad.

How are you has become a question that I truly hate, simple because I do not have an easy answer anymore. At any moment in time in my life there are at least two different ways I could be feeling all at once.

I try, every moment of every day to find the beauty in the world and in my life and at times I accomplish finding that feeling of happiness. I want to be happy again, I want my take on life to be truly optimistic again, so I work for it, I strive for it, I search for it, within myself and out there…

There is however one thing I need you to understand about being happy as a parent to a stillborn child, no matter how much I strive to be happy, I am also always sad. Some days more than others, but one or another form of sadness is always present in my life.

I am not cynical, not in the least; this is just a horrible reality of my life…

Grieving changes over time and certain things do get easier, but let me make one thing crystal clear; you never get over the death of your child. Things don’t get better, they merely become different.

I have hope, oh, so much hope for the future and I have plans, and I smile and I laugh, but I cry and I am sad and I am all of this, all at once.

I do however not have an alternative to how are you, but if you truly want to know the answer, I am all off the above…

The Bitch of Bereavement

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Yes, you read correct… the Bitch of Bereavement.

Two things I want to make clear before I continue.

One: anyone that knows me knows I have little to no ‘brain to mouth’ filtration. With that in mind I’ve actually put thought into using ‘bitch’ for this post. With no other word conveying the feeling I want to get across, I’ve settled on my first thought.

Two: Yes bereavement means grief, but grief does not have quite the same gut wrenching pain as bereavement does.

I have always seen myself as an optimistic, sunshine, la di da type person, one that truly believed that every cloud has a silver lining and that no matter what, the sun will shine the following day. I yearn to be that person again.

I never thought that anything could be more difficult to deal with than our infertility battle and how I wish that that was true. On that cold Thursday in July of 2016 I realised just how life can utterly destroy you. Our beautiful miracle baby girl was born sleeping.

I do not know if I will ever be able to type or say that without feeling my gut twist and throat swell with tears. That was the day I became the mirror image of a bitch.

I have been told I am a bitch countless times in my life, but what woman hasn’t? On that day, I truly became one. Not because I wanted to, not because it was my choice, but because grief turned into bereavement and bereavement gripped my being and all I was vanished.

I learned how someone’s pain can make another so uncomfortable that they would rather remove themselves from your live than to support you. I learned that people just want to make sure that you, the ‘sad’ one realised that they contributed to what everybody anticipated to be your healing process, without actually hearing your pain. I learned that grief and pain and bereavement make people more uncomfortable than having the ‘talk’ with a ‘tween’. I learned that people have no idea how to deal with sad people so they don’t at all.

All this is what turned me into a bitch. I do not need your advice. I do not need to hear all the clichés regarding a brighter tomorrow. ALL I NEED IS FOR YOU TO VALIDATE MY PAIN.

My whole life has been about children. I can clearly remember from as little as the age of 11 I knew I wanted as many kids as I could possible manage. I knew my life’s passion and work would be children. I knew above all that I had an unexplainable love and compassion for the worth, value and importance of children.

Our infertility diagnoses was a horrible day, that day in the hospital when I found out our daughter was born sleeping numb me beyond believe. Numbed me to everything I ever loved and wanted to be.

This numbing is something I fight and struggle with on a daily basis, because my passion and love has not numbed, but my ability to feel these feelings has. I honestly do not know what is worse, my actual pain and bereavement, or the pain and guilt I feel for the person I have lost.

I cannot stand the sight of pregnant woman, baby stores or a new born. My heart beats with what I’ve decided to call ‘bitchyness’. Manly because it hurts yes, but more because I am so jealous of what you’ve got.

The bitch of bereavement has made me angry and sad and lonely. I want nothing more than to spend time with your new baby, touch your tummy and spend hours in a baby catalogue. I just cannot get myself to do it and that is what makes us strangers.

I find myself wishing my pain on others and then immediately retracting that wish, because this pain is something I would not wish on my worst enemy.

I need you to understand that I do have hope for the future, the mere fact that I have a bra and makeup on proves that, but my pain will never go away, I will always ace at all that should have been.

The bitch of bereavement is part of me, but my promise to you is that I will keep her as far away from your happiness as I possibly can, but try to understand when her ugly head rears itself.

Small victories and BIG struggles 

The past seven (7) months has been one big struggle for me… and I had to learn, on a whole new level to celebrate the small victories. 

After being released from the hospital I had to give my body time to heal before I could exercise again… not to mention my heart…

I remember my first day back in the exercise game… we went for a hike and I remember thinking come on body this is not as all as difficult as your making it out to be.

Slowly but surely, and when I say slowely I mean it took me almost seven months to finish a race in what I deem as an acceptable amount of time, but surely I got stronger again..

Celebrating the small victories is not something I’ve aloud myself to do often in the past… I always aimed for the big results and forget to stop at each milestone along the way to congratulate myself. 

When you loose a child new perspective is forced on you and you realise the small things have been the big things all along

We humans, well me at least do however find myself in moments where I once again expect the big things from myself and then reality kind of head buds me.

This past week has been a rather good one for me… I even accomplished my personal best for the last seven months during a race…

Then just then, when you feel I’ve got this, a day like today happens. I was so excited for our mountain bike ride this morning. We got here, weather is perfect for our ride and  I struggle from literally start to finish. I was so close to crying myself through the route. 

On the days when you improve your personal best… maybe you accomplished to put on makeup today, you were motivated enough to go out in public, you did not have a complete breakdown when you saw a woman with a baby..  on those days… STOP and celebrate your victory… we need to appreciate our accomplishments… because I’ve realised that on days like today, when you struggle from start to finish, you’ll need those victories to keep you going or the struggle might take you out.

Your days will never be just good and thankfully they won’t be just bad either. 

Take the time and celebrate your small victories!!!

Bubble bubble… My bubble

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Bubble bubble… My bubble

My bubble is my safe place.

My bubble is my happy place.

In my bubble I can breathe.

In my bubble I am okay, in fact, in my bubble I am as close to content as I can possible be.

But life does not happen inside my bubble…

Life is out there, out there where I do not feel safe, where I struggle to find my happiness. Out there where I sometimes struggle to breathe and out there where contentment is but a dream.

I struggle most days to leave my bubble and face life… Life has so many ‘sharp’ objects that threaten to puncture my bubble.

In my bubble I don’t have to find out you are planning your third baby (and my first thought was geez, give me a break, you have two and they came so easy)

In my bubble I don’t have to see baby clothes and wonder what my daughter would have looked liked in that cute pink tutu.

In my bubble I don’t have to wish I was as tired as you are because I have to get up at night for my baby.

In my bubble I don’t have to remember the pain and sorrow that losing your child brings, a sorrow that always looms near the surface of a forced smile.

So what do you do? Stay and hind in your bubble, or slowly crawl out and face life’s sharp objects one at a time?

I want to be happy again, truly happy, well as truly happy as I can be in my new reality.

I want to breathe again, I want to look at baby clothes again, and I want to congratulate you on another baby…

I want to find my new version of being content, outside of my bubble…

Each day has become a conscious decision to get out of my bubble and find colour in my world – to define THE NEW ME

To be, or not to be… SAD

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To be, or not be… SAD! That has been on my mind for most of today! There has been a lot of the number seven floating around in my head today; on the seventh day, of the seventh month, seven months ago our daughter was born sleeping.

SEVEN months has passed since the worst day of our lives. On the one hand it feels so far gone and I am so thankful for the small joys I can find in everyday. At the same time, on the other hand that pain and hurt and longing is never a heartbeat or a teardrop away.

I read a blog post about ‘The Grieving Optimist’. The polarities of grieving that an optimistic persons experience is somewhat strange. You want to crawl into a corner and decay, but you also want to believe the sun will shine on you again.

Today was one of those days. I was so sad and I wanted to be, but at the same time I AM so hopeful for what tomorrow can bring. So basically I was walking around with smile (the best one my heart could mutter up) with eyes full of tears.

So to be, or not to be sad was me today and you know what that is just fine!

I’ve realised that no matter what every day brings, I do the best that I can and that is what matters. I am searching for my colour!

It’s okay to be sad, don’t choose to stay just sad…

It’s okay to be angry, don’t stay angry…

It’s okay to give up, try again…