Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Am Still Here

I've been quiet for a while now. It's not that I haven't wanted to write, I have. In fact, I've had blog posts floating around in my head often, every day. But somehow every time I sit down to write, I just end up staring at the computer screen, waiting for words that never come.

How do I describe in words how I have been feeling recently? Sure, I'm grieving. But I don't think that one little five letter word - grief - adequately describes all of the emotions I have been feeling, the depths of those emotions. I've actually perused the dictionary looking for a words that could adequately describe these feelings in a way that others who have not experienced the loss of a baby could understand. There really are no words to describe how this feels. I think any attempt to describe this to those untouched by such an experience is futile. And well, I've done enough reading recently to know that you, my online baby loss mama friends, get it, so I don't need to explain myself.

I am so grateful for my ever expanding network of friends from across the world, who, having never met me in person, have offered me so much love, understanding and support. I really do feel this outpouring of love for all of you and your babies. I weep for your sweet little ones almost as much as I weep for my own. I want to turn back the hands of time for all of us, to raise the dead, or at least find some other magical cure to erase your pain and my own. I want to hug you all through cyberspace and I can feel you want to hug me to.

I understand that no one in my "real" world can offer me that same understanding and support. But seriously, is it too much to ask for a little extra compassion? an attempt to understand what Tim and I are going through? or at least to remember that while you may have already moved on and forgotten Isla, or somehow otherwise internalized her death, we're still thinking about her, yearning for her 24 hours a day?!

Tim and I have received much love and support from a few close friends and family members. If any of you are reading, I won't list names for fear of missing someone or offending others, but I hope those of you who I am referring to, know who you are - those of you who still email and call regularly to check up on us, who sent such beautifully written, thoughtful cards, who don't mind spending time with us despite that we are now quite boring. I love you and thank you.

But then there are the other people. I can forgive and understand most of the people who have simply disappeared. Who know Isla has died but who have not called, emailed, said a word. It's okay. I'm really bad at those things too. I've probably missed the death of one of their loved ones. Seriously, no hard feelings.

I can also forgive many of the people who have called or written and said things we have found unhelpful and at times hurtful. Things like "it was God's will" or "you can always have another baby". I get it. They felt they wanted to say something and just didn't know what to say. It's awkward. It's okay, they meant well. I appreciate that these people have reached out to us.

But recently, a few things have happened or been said that have sent me into a bit of a tailspin. Again, I won't name, names. Although it may be obvious from what I am about to write, who I am referring to. If you are reading and offended, I apologize, and I hope you can forgive me for expressing my feelings, just as I have forgiven you. But, I need to get this off my chest.

There are a few very close friends and relatives who are currently pregnant who feel compelled to use Facebook to advertise how happy they are. I understand that these people are just excited about their own blissful state of affairs and want to celebrate (I myself changed my status once or twice back when I naively believed Isla was a sure thing). I also know that nothing that has been written, was written with the intention of hurting me. But seriously, is it to much to ask of my closest friends and relatives (all people who celebrated our wedding with us just 11 months ago and with whom there was much excited discussion about Isla being the same age as their babies), to think about us and refrain from advertising about their still to be born babies on Facebook?! This bothers me on so many levels. First of all, it hurts, badly hurts, that these friends and relatives could be so insensitive to what Tim and I are going through that they could not stop and think before changing their status that we may read it, and feel hurt by it. Secondly, it breaks my heart that these people are seemingly so unaffected by the loss of Isla. A much anticipated playmate for their babies. A cousin. I get that life goes on, and I do not expect anyone to feel her loss in the same way Tim and I have felt it, but I just wish Isla was important enough to these people that they would still be remembering HER and not posting such things out of respect for HER and their own loss of HER. Thirdly, it really bothers me that these people are still so naive as to believe that their babies are such a sure thing that they can publicly advertise in the way they have. Actually, having stillbirth hit so close to home, I think its quite smug. I never want these people to be on this side, the dark side of pregnancy, to really understand how smug it is. But I do wish that they had been affected enough by our experience that they would maybe think twice before so publicly counting their chicken before its hatched.

As I said above, I forgive these people. Some I have felt anger towards, others just more disbelief at the lack of sensitivity, but mostly I am just so hurt. So deeply hurt. Ultimately I guess I have control over whether or not I continue to expose myself to such hurt. I could just stop logging into Facebook, right? But it doesn't really matter whether or not I'm reading. What hurts is knowing these posts have happened. I am being selfish? Self-absorbed? Expecting too much from everyone else? Maybe. But this is how I feel.

There have also recently been a few things said to Tim and I directly that have knocked us down. I fear that by saying too much online that I will do some irreparable damage our already tenuous support system. But what I will say is that members of our family, CLOSE members, the kind on the same branch of the family tree, have begun giving both Tim and I the impression that it is time we start moving on from our grief. That we should be getting back to normal by now. It was actually stated that, "its enough now".

Five weeks ago, five short weeks (or five very long weeks if you were walking in our shoes) our baby girl died. Our daughter. Our child. How the hell are we supposed to feel right now if not grief stricken, utterly devastated, consumed by our sorrow?! WE LOST A CHILD. How much more clearly can we explain this to people? She was not just a fetus. She was not just someone we never met. She was our daughter!

Having to defend our grief to these people is so infuriating. I feel as though by expecting us to move on already these relatives are diminishing our loss, their own loss, and the life of my precious baby girl. Discussing this is actually so emotionally exhausting that I really can't go on. I can't explain it right now, or express my feeling in any coherent manner.

Anyway, this is why I have been so quiet over the past week or so. My emotions are overwhelming, my head spinning, and I just can't find words.

When I started out with this blog I wanted it to be a place both celebrate Isla (precious, beautiful, baby Isla) and share my journey through grief and hopefully towards healing. I'm walking it - this weird twisty, one step forward, two steps back path through what is now my life, my life after Isla. I hope to candidly share both my steps forward and steps back. Only, sometimes the steps back are actually more like backward stumbles to the ground, and I just don't have the energy to put into words my swarming emotions.

To my baby loss mama friends, please keep reading and posting your comments. I love them. And even though I can't always find the energy to comment on your posts, I'm here, reading.

To my real world friends and relatives, if you are reading this, please go easy on us right now. We need you now more than ever.

PS - Isla died on a Tuesday. A few days after my last post I realized it was Wednesday, July 29th when I wrote it. I have been so disoriented that I thought when I was writing it was a Tuesday. It bothered me that I could lose track of time like that. Bothered me more when August 1st came and went I and I didn't even realize I had missed the one month mark of her birth. I'm not really beating myself up about it. In a way its a good thing I am not dwelling on calendar days. But I need to set things straight. Isla Michaela Johnston died around 6:45 p.m. (I didn't think to look at the clock at the exact moment) on Tuesday, June 30th, 2009. She was born at 10:44 p.m. (thankfully my amazing delivery nurse Maya did think to look at the clock at that moment) on July 1st, 2009.


  1. I'm so sorry you have been hurt like this. It's not made any easier by the fact these people didn't mean to hurt you because their insensitivity to you in itself is so hurtful. I'm glad you have this blog not only to let out how you are feeling but to communicate with others around the world who really do know how you are feeling and truly understand as they have lived your journey. Thinking of you. Thank you for introducing me to baby Isla.

  2. I too feel so much support form people on my blog, people I have never met. It is amazing. I am so sorry your family and friends are not supportive of you. They have no idea what you are feeling and it is so hard for them to understand, but a little compassion goes a long way. Your loss is so recent, you should not be told that it is enough. How hurtful these words must be to you. I am so sorry, please keep posting so we can keep giving you support!

  3. I'm sorry you have been hurt by family.

    Yes, you should be consumed by your grief right now. It's normal and natural, my goodness you are right at the beginning of a long journey. And really, there is no "over it". Ever. It gets less painful, less sharp, less agonising, but how can any of us ever ever be "over" losing our child/ren? We move forward, we learn to live with a new normal, we learn how to live with happy right alongside sad, but over it? I don't think so.

    And she is very beautiful.


  4. Someone told me very early on that "those who get it, get it, and those that don't, never will".

    That's the sad reality. Its an impossible situation for an outsider to imagine themselves in, and so they don't. And in supporting you, they think that helping you to move on helps, but of course it doesn't. There is no moving on, no getting over it as Barbara says. Losing your baby just changes you to the core. The only way through the grief is to just go through it...its a painful, painful journey, but know that we are all here with you to support you and celebrate Isla.

    Sending you much love and support.

  5. we get it. and we are all here for you. of course i'll keep reading, we are on this journey together.
    i know how much it hurts to have people push you to move on. as if the grief is ever going to end. i don't know that there will ever be "normal" again. i think others want to rush us back to normal so that they can be more comfortable. eff them. this isn't about them, so take all the time you need and do whatever you need to do to grieve, on your own terms. sending big cyberspace hugs to you!

    XO christy

  6. You know what the problem is with all your "smug" family and/or friends who are pregnant?? They do not believe that it could happen to them. They really don't. They secretly think that babies only die for a reason. And that they die because mums are unhealthy, or old, or have bad eggs, or that there are genetic problems, etc. They think that if they have none of these "problems" that they and their babies are safe. They don't get it.