Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Feeling close to Ellanor

I don't know why - and I don't search for reasons anymore - but my firstborn little munchkin is on my mind a lot this week.

There was a corner handwash basin I was supposed to buy (no, stay with me - the two are related...) and I have gone back to that same plumbing place three times this past fortnight, as well as one or two others, not to mention scouring the internet to ensure I was getting something that would a) fit and b) not cost the earth, considering its basic purpose.

Each time I went to this particular local plumbing shop, I held off deciding on one and just purchasing the damn thing, already. I don't know. It just felt rushed. I felt under-researched or... if truth be told, I felt like the showroom showgirls were just that: there for show. Each time I went in there, they didn't seem all that interested in helping me so, uh, I didn't feel all that interested in spending time with them going through the ordering and purchasing motions either.

But today, a new face was there. A new face with an enviably neat pregnant belly. This woman was different. She was lovely. She was paced and welcoming and just .... normal. She even showed me that the very basin I had been considering all along was on special - $55 off, nothing to sneeze at! - and I mused silently to myself that the girl who "helped" me yesterday did no such thing. Pah.

So we went along, finally settling on this hand basin and a mixer to go with it. The ordering almost complete, I did something I NEVER (repeat: never) do these days, not since all our troubles began and kept continuing as recently as 12 months ago... - I acknowledged her belly.

"So you're going to get a baby for Christmas, then!" I said. I know. I suck at opening lines involving pregnancies too - as I said, I never do it. Pregnant bellies confront me more than anything and I almost always allow the expectant parent/s to do the bringing up, after which time I willingly and genuinely chime in with conversation. But I don't ever bring it up first.

"Yeah," she said. And then she told me her first baby boy had been born at 24 weeks, her membranes rupturing at 20 weeks. He couldn't be saved.

I sat and fixed my eyes respectfully on this lovely mum while she went deeper and deeper into her story. She just about leapt over the desk at me once I divulged a little of our journey as well. And although it's something I don't willingly offer anymore (my need in this regard has passed, some years ago now), I completely appreciate the need for someone in her position to hear as much about it as she can. She has never met anyone else who has lost a baby before. I was so heart-full to know I had given her some tangible, walking, surviving proof.... that it will be okay.

I am choked up now remembering again how her brilliant blue eyes misted over and her face contorted, touching briefly on the fear of what the next few weeks will bring. How would she get through the birth this time, she wanted to know? How could she possibly be okay, not knowing until this little one was laid into her arms, breathing, alive, that everything was alright?

I recall the moment vividly when the LGBB entered the world. There was not a sound. You could have heard a pin drop. I was completely out of it with fear, pain and then rising hysteria when I couldn't focus on what was going on. I hadn't heard her cry yet. Jesus, why wasn't she crying!?? I had to yell for attention, they were milling about my pasty-grey little second-born, who still had not cried. I was told she was beautiful - but that didn't equal alive to me.

Lolly needed respiratory assistance straight after birth - a common thing, many have said to me, waving me off - but in light of the fact that she had come along after such an intense and precarious birth, not to mention the 6 year-long journey and loss of her older sister in our past, I have always considered this lessening of my fear state at that time a real oversight by others.

They'll never know what it's like to anticipate a subsequent birth, let alone the pregnancy up to the point of giving birth. Not unless it happens to them. And this is not a slight against people who do attempt to say the right thing - not at all - just more, I guess, a verbal expression of the big sigh I feel inside when I hear about this sort of thing happening to others (because I remember it so well happening to us - we were supposed to be happy now, all had been righted, we had a live baby to take home... what more did we want? Surely we didn't need to keep talking about that firstborn of ours or process the birth of our second child??).

And so, I cherished today for the umpteenth countless time that I had this history of mine. It felt useful. It felt like what it was all about, this experience I have shouldered. Today, I looked in the face of a woman who represented, in the flesh, the many whom I have met online but not sat with in person as they go through their anticipation and reservations.

I did something else I have never done before I left the shop - I gave the saleswoman the name of my website and invited her to go and read it, as she had been saying how isolated she felt about it all. She avidly jotted down the address and thanked me.

I feel so incredibly privileged. And this mother will be in my thoughts in the lead-up to Christmas. I hope I hear from her again. The likelihood is, I never will. Either way, I feel so close to Ellanor today. Perhaps this woman is the reason why my baby girl has been on my mind so much these past days.

Please Don't Judge A Mother

Please don't judge a mother

As she struggles with her grief
Time is NO great healer
Whatever you believe

Please don't judge a mother
As the tears fall from her eyes
You have your child here
But to hers, she said goodbye

Please don't judge a mother
When she feels the need to say
How much she loves her child
Each and every day

Please don't judge a mother
If she feels the need to talk
She'll never get to hold her child
Nor see her child walk

Please don't judge a mother
If she feels she cannot smile
The guilt if she feels happy
Lingers for a while

Please don't judge a mother
If she feels she cannot spend
A minute with your child
You see her pain it never ends

Please don't judge a mother
When she needs to be alone
She needs to wallow in her grief
In the privacy of her home

Please don't judge a mother
When she feels she can't join in
Pain is all she feels
Having fun feels like a sin

Please don't judge a mother
For anything at all
Just listen to her, hold her
And let her tears fall

Author: Christine Wildman

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