Monday, November 9, 2009

At the first support group meeting I went to, not quite three weeks after Sierra's death and birth, we did a writing exercise.  The writing prompt was to look at a collection of hearts - glass, metal, cloth, wood,  different colors and textures - and write about the state of your heart.  Here's what I wrote:

In September of 1993, I was a first year student at Smith College, contemplating an exercise like this - the state of the heart.  My writing that day was full of optimism.  At this moment, the first thing that enters my mind on hearing the word heart is Sierra's heart on the ultrasound monitor - five weeks of it beating defiantly in spite of a placenta that was failing her - and then - the last week - nothing.  It was so still.  And now, almost three weeks later, I don't quite know what the state of my heart is.  I don't know how to go forward from here.  I miss her so much - she should still be in my belly.  I suppose the obvious metaphor is one of the glass hearts on the table in front of me - glass breaks, shatters into sharp bits - but those glass hearts look strong at the same time - and I am finding strength I didn't know I had, through this whole experience, strength and patience, but I wish I didn't have to find it this way.

At first I had this real sense of "if I can birth a dead baby, I can do anything."  It made me brave; I didn't care what people thought, and all the little day-to-day challenges in my life seemed manageable.  But it didn't last.  Now I feel anxious and overwhelmed by the little stuff, wanting to hide in my office at work, or better yet, stay in bed all day.  But I don't stay in bed all day - Austin won't let me, and I'm very grateful for him.  I guess I've found the way forward - just keep putting one foot in front of the other - but it sure is hard sometimes.  I still know the strength is there, but, as I keep seeing on other blogs, the true test isn't birthing the dead baby, or holding her body, but living without her. 

A friend told me recently that she could see that losing Sierra had changed me, that I was visibly sad.  She knows me quite well, we talk a lot, and she lost her first husband 14 years ago and understands grief -but I thought I was the only one who noticed that even when I think I'm hiding my sadness, it's there in my eyes.  Apparently I'm not as good at hiding it as I thought, but it was actually gratifying, in an odd way, to have someone notice that I've changed.  I do think I've changed in positive ways too - I have gained strength - and patience, and compassion.  But right now, I'm mostly just sad.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Four Months

Nov 3, 2009

Dear Sierra,

Has it really been four months? Four months since we said hello and goodbye, since I held you - tiny and perfect and so heartbreakingly still and silent. How I wish I could have seen you alive, even if only for a short time. I still remember how the tip of my index finger just fit on your little cheek and how prominent your cheekbones were. I'm so sorry you were so thin, struggled so much those last few weeks inside me. That was all I could say to you that day as I held you - I love you and I'm so sorry.

You were born four months ago today, in the summer, when the days were at their longest. Now it's nearly dark when I leave work, and geese rise from the canal and fly honking into the dusk. The trees have changed from bright green, to brilliant orange, pink, red, and yellow, to more muted gold, amber, and brown. Most of the leaves are on the ground now. I wish you could see all this change, wish you were here, tucked warmly against me in a sling. Your brother has always loved fall leaves; even as a tiny baby he would focus on their colors and movement. I bet you would have too.

Last night Daddy and I talked about you for the first time in a while. Daddy sees you as a tomboy, as I was growing up. He thinks you'd be a feisty little one, capable of fending off your older brother's rough affection - or returning it in kind. We both love and miss you very much, and we hope you are with your uncle.

I wish I knew where you were, baby girl. I want to think that our energy continues on in some way after we die, that we go somewhere else, but I don't know where that somewhere is. Twice I've thought your uncle was with me. I see you everywhere and nowhere. Did you choreograph the moonrise for me tonight, lovebug? It was gorgeous; I got out of the truck and stood at the edge of the canal, watching the huge, orange moon rise over the water and turn the edges of the clouds pink and silver. Ducks quacked and leaves rustled in the wind, it was not quite dark, I was alone. It was all very peaceful.

I miss you so much, Sierra. The longing to have you alive, whole and healthy in my arms is just as strong as the day you were born - even stronger maybe, now that we've passed your due date and you should most definitely be here. I wish things had worked out differently - I'm so sorry that they didn't.

All my love,