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I’ve been wanting to write for weeks now, but life with a 6 month old doesn’t afford you much free time. I saw that my good friend Angie posted this project again and it just seemed like the perfect excuse to sit down and write. I’ve had a lot of thoughts about Silas and I am ready to get them down. I just re-read my post from last year when I had been newly pregnant. I remember clearly feeling such anxiety after having had a bleeding scare and thinking “holy shit, I could actually lose this pregnancy right now.”
It was a great post, one that felt important for me to write. After losing Silas, I had grieved for a long time and then tried to put it aside to focus on getting pregnant. That took most of my energy for the next almost 2 years. It felt like I was betraying Silas in a way but it was all I had room for. The pregnancy was a tough one though, fraught with worry at every twist and turn. We were completely teetering on the edge, that’s what it felt like every second. I wanted to believe that it couldn’t possibly happen again, but I know way too much in this babylost world. I knew my odds were pretty good to have a live, healthy baby, but then again I was on the wrong side of the odds the first time. So really, anything could happen and I wasn’t quite sure of anything. All I was sure of was that I wanted this baby more then anything in my life.
But here I am, with 6 month old Zephyr Rigel who is the most amazing little guy. He’s perfect in every way, and our lives are forever transformed because of him. I knew I would love being a mom, but it was always a dream. Sometimes it doesn’t feel real, that I get to parent this living, breathing, beautiful human. He’s mine and we created him. It has taken so long to finally get to this point where I have a baby in my arms that I stare at him and kiss his face a zillion times a day to make sure it’s real.
This post though isn’t about Zephyr, it’s about his older brother Silas who I miss terribly. I miss his being the older brother that Zephyr will never know. I will sometimes mention him to Zephyr, knowing that one day that conversation will really have to happen. I miss him when I see my friend’s kids who were born around the same time. That will probably always make me sad, forever. I get a lump in my throat when I’m around those kids- it’s something I can’t seem to shake.
When I was pregnant again, the question “is this your first?” was the hardest. It made me think of Silas every time and how I should answer. I changed it up depending on how I felt at the time. I liked to mention him, so I did often. It felt right. It didn’t happen every time, just when it felt appropriate and I got good at giving my answer. That’s how often it was asked. I believe Silas was with me during the pregnancy, and his presence was felt when I heard his little brother let out his first cry. The cry that Silas never made, came out doubly loud with his brother. He made sure we knew he was alive and well, and it truly was the best sound I have heard in my life. I get the chills just thinking about it.
When Zephyr was born, I think he looked like that picture we have of Silas. I think about all the pieces of Silas we’ll never know and hope that his baby brother is carrying on some of those traits. Traits like the infectious laugh when we make silly sounds at him or sing his name, his constantly moving legs, or his insane focus when trying to get that toy exactly right in his mouth. His eyebrows are super expressive. I like to think Silas may have had the same ones. It’s hard to tell though, the live memory of him has faded. We only have a few pictures and I never took enough time to study him like I should have. When I think about him, I think about that picture. I wish I knew his feet as well as I know Zephyr’s. I love his feet, I am always playing with them, knowing they will be way larger then mine one day. Boys feet start off so sweet and innocent but grow to be something so completely not! I am savoring them while they are still small and cute.
I think I may be too tired and too busy to grieve his loss most days. This moment when I think about him it makes me angry mostly and of course really sad. Angry for a loss that never should have happened. Angry that my baby doesn’t get a brother, that we don’t have 2 sons and our parents are missing a grandson. I am sad too. But mostly I feel joy for the baby I have now, for his beautiful and pure life that we get to experience every second of every day. As heartbroken and devastated as we are about Silas, that is how ecstatic and in love I am now about Zephyr.
I’d like to thank my friend Angie from Still Life With Circles for putting this project out there for us to participate in. Angie is an incredible force in this community and her blog was one I read daily way back when. I don’t read many blogs these days. I write on mine every so often, but it feels different then when I first lost Silas. Back then, it was my lifeline. It was what kept me sane. I devoured blogs, commented daily and made a group of friends who also lost babies around the same time. Our lives have progressed differently since then. Some went on to have subsequent babies pretty quickly, others, like me, took a lot longer, while still others have yet to conceive again. Though our paths were different after our losses, our stories & comments kept each other sane and able to move forward through the early months of heartache, pain and devastation. I will always cherish those beginning friendships and the strong connections we made. These women just got me, they knew what I was feeling and were there for me no matter what.
I sometimes go back and read my early posts, from when I guest wrote on my husband Chris’s blog Elm City Dad. I was raw, angry, sad, depressed. You name an emotion and I felt it. I was honest though about how I felt. I knew people in my life were reading, people who knew and loved me. It didn’t change what and how I wrote, I knew that they actually used our blogs as a tool to help them deal with us. We told it like it was- putting it all out there with real, honest emotion.
I think that because of our blogs, we are still super close to all our friends. It was their way of connecting to us in helping to know what we were going through. Our friends found it easier to contact us because of it. Having email, text, fb, gchat and blog comments gives us so many outlets to communicate and I appreciated every single one of them. I didn’t need my friends calling me. I didn’t need people to worry about “how I was doing.” My blog shared that, and if you took the time to comment or email or text, I let you know that I was ok. They knew and understood I couldn’t see their new babies, couldn’t send a gift or call/write to congratulate them. The jealousy, oh the jealousy. This part of me was a huge loss- not being able to see, hear, watch, read about babies. They were everywhere and it was almost impossible to navigate.
Those early days were so incredibly hard. I couldn’t lose the weight, couldn’t get pregnant, didn’t have my son and really couldn’t make sense of this world that came crashing in on me. I am one of those people though that couldn’t hide in my bed all day, every day, even though I thought that was what I wanted. Chris and I went out, saw friends & lots of music. Leaned on our amazing families & friends a lot. I practiced yoga, went to bootcamps & therapy, and continued my work as a children’s yoga teacher. I struggled through it all, but I think that because we continued to live life, through our loss and grief, really brought us to where we are today. We are still devastated by our loss, but we don’t wear our grief on our sleeve. We worked through it, around it, inside and out. I will always miss him, til the day I die – but my heart isn’t aching like it did in that first year. Sometimes I can’t believe I’m still standing, and other times I am proud to be still standing.
I am finally pregnant again, exactly 2 years & 8 months later. It took a really long time for that to happen. I think for me, it made this journey a bit more tumultuous. My time was spent grieving the loss of my sweet little first born son Silas and then it was spent trying to get pregnant again. After awhile, it turned into just trying to get pregnant again. Silas was there in my heart, but his loss wasn’t my focus anymore. I was determined to get pregnant and after a year of trying on our own, it was time to venture into the land of infertility drugs. I couldn’t believe this was our life. First we lost our child at birth, and then we can’t get pregnant? That just seemed truly fucked up. I mean seriously? We tried every fertility treatment out there, and finally, became pregnant after our 3rd IVF attempt. I am currently 13w4d and was feeling great until last night. We had a bit of a bleeding scare, but found out I have placenta previa and it’s pretty common. Now I am just told to take it easy which I’m attempting to do.
This pregnancy is fraught with the feeling of it being our last hope to have a child. It finally happened and I wont let anything take it from me. Last night, right after the toilet was filled with blood, I sobbed with the thought of having to start this process over again. It can’t possibly be happening. But the bleeding stopped, the ultrasound showed a heartbeat and a healthy baby, and I’m now required to chill out. At this point, I will do what I’m told. Chris wants to wrap me in bubble wrap and put me in a closet and not let me out til I’m ready to birth this baby.
Now that I’m finally here though, I am finding a new relationship with Silas and his loss. I still get choked up when I see my friends kids who were born around when he was. I sometimes can’t believe I could be parenting a 2 1/2 year old. That always breaks my heart. I am constantly now required to answer the question “is this your first?” This brings up all kinds of feelings and emotions about whether to share and break someone’s heart? or pretend Silas didn’t exist? It’s a very challenging question to answer, no matter how I choose to answer it. I always hesitate and I still haven’t figured it out it in the moment.
Silas taught me so many lessons. He taught me that everything in life doesn’t always work out & things don’t happen for a reason (sometimes shitty things just happen). He taught me patience. He allowed me to fall even more in love with my husband (which I didn’t think was possible). I gained a better appreciation for what I have & more empathy for those who are suffering. Over time I’ve learned that when shitty things happen to me, I don’t have to blame myself for it. Blame and guilt, 2 huge emotions that come with loss. I worked through those emotions, and while I’m not completely healed of them, I don’t beat myself up anymore. Silas Orion will always be a light in my life, will always hold a space in my heart and will always be the big brother to the next little Gallagher to come our way.
The song Sorrow by Pink Floyd came on my ipod today while I was driving and I thought about how that word just nails how I’ve felt this summer.
Yesterdays -all of a sudden- fall weather threw me for a loop. After all the heat and humidity, to get this burst of fall sent a pit to my stomach that is unmistakable. It is that feeling of dread, that feeling I’ve felt only once before and that was last year this time.
The change of seasons now, of summer to fall, will always signify the impending birth and death of Silas. I remember that feeling all too well of hanging in our yard with our various friends and family members, weeks after Silas died, watching the leaves and acorns cover our yard. This time of year will never be the same again. It just feels too soon for it to happen. It’s still August – I just wasn’t prepared for it.
Both Chris and I felt it yesterday. We didn’t even have to talk about it, but we acknowledged the change in the weather and that deep, dark pit it left in our stomachs. It’s been a tough summer for me. I haven’t worked all that much, and when I have, I’ve felt like I’ve lost my passion a bit. I’m a lost puppy right now. In between 2 lives. One that I’ve lived and one that I want.
It makes it really hard to be satisfied and fulfilled when you are treading in that in between place. I can’t ever have my old life back. The easy-going fun with friends & music & innocence. I don’t have that life I’ve been wanting now for what seems like years. We’ve been living here in New Haven for almost 3 years. This longing for a child has been with me for longer then that. We started trying way back when we returned from our 3 month honeymoon in SE Asia. That seems like a lifetime ago and a really long time to be wanting something.
I am taking a trip out west in a few weeks and I’ll be gone for almost a month. I’ve had that need to get away for a bit, to maybe find those parts of myself that I lost. I have my sister’s bach party in Vegas, a quick stint in LA, our friends wedding in Napa, some SF time and then my sisters wedding in Colorado. Instead of the back and forth, I decided to make it a west coast journey, with time off to recharge, renew and let go. Chris will be coming out for both weddings so as soon as I start missing him, luckily I’ll get to see him. Being without him will be hard, but I know we’ll manage. It’s really the kitties I’m worried about. I miss them when we’re gone overnight!
The strange part of all of it is that we’ll be apart on Sept 25. I am doing a Kids Yoga teacher training that weekend in Berkeley and Chris will be home in New Haven. I know it will be hard for us to be apart on that day. But every single day of my life is hard now, so really, how much harder will that be for us? It’s just how it worked out.
Last week we rented a beach house with friends for a few days. The Phish shows we saw were really fun, but the real highlight was getting to swim in the ocean. Oh, how amazing it feels to dive in and under huge waves, and ride them to shore. I felt like I was able to leave behind some of the sorrow and grumpiness I’ve been holding inside me these last few months. Then yesterday’s winds and cold came and brought it right back.
I tried really hard to not pay attention to my cycle this time around. But since it lasted for 40 excruciating days, it made it almost impossible to ignore. Days 32 & 33 I thought, “hmmm, where are you period?” I know you are coming. Days 34-36 I thought, ok, this has happened before, I don’t feel pregnant, you must be coming any minute. Days 37 – 39, ok, well, now it’s really really late. I must be pregnant. Right? BFN. Ok, so I’m not. Where the hell are you then? And onto day 40, I finally drank some ginger tea and bam, there she was. And so it goes. Story of my life. If I’m not going to be pregnant, then why can’t my periods just come on time? Why do I have to be fucked with? So unfair. Of course I googled “late period after failed IVF” and a shitload of posts from every baby/fertility site came up. I guess I should have done that a week before and spared myself the torture of thinking, am I? Is this normal?
I’ve been doing the acupuncture, chinese herbs, red clover, red raspberry leaf & nettles tea, royal jelly, false unicorn root path and so I just assumed all that would have helped my cycle get regular. Even though I am taking all these herbs and eating the right foods (though I have not given up beer- I have to have a little fun right?) and all that, I also did not pay attention to my cycle at all. I didn’t even know I was late until I went to my acupuncturist who said, oh, today is day 32 of your cycle. What? Oh, how ’bout that. I was proud of myself for not counting all month and not paying attention to any of it.
And look where that got me.
So, as my sorrowful summer comes to a close, I am going to continue to stay thankful for all the little things I do have in my life right now: Chris, the kitties, being back to my pre-baby weight (yay!) and a super fantastic Vegas weekend to kick off a few weeks of much needed travel.
This year isn’t starting off the way I imagined it would. Remember our kitty Bandha who I left out in the rain for 5 hours? Well, he has bone cancer in his jaw and has a huge tumor that apparently is very aggressive.
Around the beginning of Dec we started noticing him sticking his tongue out of his mouth all the time. While we found it cute, we started to realize it wasn’t normal. Especially because he was drooling a lot too. So I brought him to the vet. She couldn’t get a good look in there, but gave a pretty definite diagnosis that it was a tumor. We decided against the super expensive biopsy and all that entails because we decided that we wouldn’t treat him anyway. They would have to remove his jaw and then do chemo and really, what kind of quality of life would that be for any of us?
So she gave him an antibiotic shot that lasted 2 weeks in hopes of it just being an infection. 2 weeks later, no change- and it seemed to have gotten worse. We decided to bring him to another vet for a second opinion. This vet said it was definitely cancer in his jaw bone and that it is pretty aggressive. She also gave antibiotics for an infection that had developed in there as well as pain meds.
So now I have been giving him his pain meds which seems to be helping, but he’s not eating much and basically that is when they told us it was time to consider putting him down. So it may be time to say goodbye to our little Bandha.
I have mentally prepared myself for this inevitability. Right after Silas died, when my cats were the only comfort I had, I had to go there. I know as a pet owner that they won’t be there for as long as you want them, that is reality. But Bandha is only 11 and I didn’t think it was his time yet.
I hate to watch him suffer. I think that is the hardest part of all of it. He can’t tell me what he wants or how he feels and I don’t know how to help him. We’ve been giving him all the love we can, as much as he allows.
People keep asking how our other cat Chumby is handling it. She usually gets annoyed with him being near her and hisses and swats at him. Now, she is just completely ignoring him like he isn’t even here. It’s really strange. She’s still giving me loads of love though, maybe even extra, knowing how sad we are about Bandha.
As far as eating goes- he won’t eat his cat food or the high calorie food the vet gave me (which is driving me nuts – all the open cans that neither of my kitties want to eat- argh!) and instead, will eat only goat cheese! I guess he knows that if his end is near, he may as well go out with a really yummy meal.
It’s been another rough week for Brad, Christa and Carly. Send them over some love today if you can.
Congrats to my dear friends Sally & Simon who have been on this journey with us since the beginning. Little Angus was born this morning and everyone is doing great. Send some warm wishes their way!
I keep hoping for some miracle to happen, as I think about my future self with a child and think-
“yes, that’s when I’ll truly be happy.”
I said that to Chris last week. My amazing husband, who is not a yogi, said-
“You need to find happiness in each day in that present moment. That is true happiness.”
or something like that.
Yes, he’s right. I can’t keep looking towards my future, when I assume things will all be better. Things will keep happening, good and bad. I know that. I should know that. It’s the basis of yoga- being present. Here I teach this each and every day to hundreds of kids and somehow I can’t realize this for myself. I know it, but am not practicing it.
I laugh at least once a day, sometimes more. I do find joy in simple things- in lovely things. Flowers, butterflies, a song I can sing out loud to in my car, a great story on This American Life, chumby snuggling with me every single morning, my hilarious and patient husband, farmer’s market fare, bean & leaf coffee, my yoga kids (most of the time). That’s a short list. Obviously there is so much more- family, friends, Phish festivals (of which we are going to this coming weekend and I am so excited I can barely contain myself!). I can probably list at least a hundred other things that bring me joy. Seeing all my bestest friends from out west and getting real life hugs and love will bring me more joy and happiness then I have experienced in a really really long time. This coming 5 day respite from the daily grind that we have come to accept is a much needed mental health vacation.
The other day I had a slight meltdown. It was a regress, which I know happens sometimes. All the blame and guilt came back full force over our decision to homebirth Silas. A conversation that Chris & I had the other night and this amazing post by sweet/salty kate had me up in arms. Neither were intended to cause this. But both filled me with self-doubt and fear. Most of the blogs I read these days, of women who had stillborn babies, all believe they were truly to blame. It’s frightening how many of us are so conflicted with what is really just a tragedy that happened. For some of us, we could have made other choices, but for all of us, the intention to birth our babies in the safest, healthiest way was always the main focus. It was always what we wanted for our babies. So why the blame and guilt? I guess everything in life that goes wrong needs to be put on someone or something. Perhaps a scapegoat makes us feel better.
Another part of it that I am tormented by is all those out there who blame us for the loss of our baby. It is almost too much for me to handle sometimes. But most of the time I then think – who cares about them, the blame I have for myself, that is what is most important and what needs to be dealt with.
Over this year, I have made it a point to share my view that homebirth is what we believed to be the safest and most beautiful way of bringing our son into the universe. For us, it was not. I am on the fence about homebirth now. For some it is magical, for others, like us, it is tragic. But the same goes for hospital births. All of it is scary and we’ll never ever know what could or would have been.
As humans, we are programmed to think about how we could have changed something in our past or how we want our future to go. I am stuck in that instead of realizing all the beauty that is in my reach every single moment. Even my day in bed when I was sick, was needed and necessary and eventually brought me some happiness.
I hate that I’ve gone backwards- I’m tormented by my past and by my future. I can’t change what is or what hasn’t happened yet. All I have is now and I need to work hard to find those little pieces of joy and happiness in each and every moment. And right now, that would be packing for my vacation!
Thinking of you today Sally and Simon and your beautiful Hope Angel. I’m so sorry you are not celebrating her first birthday today. You have been a great friend to me and so many others throughout this year and I feel blessed to know you. Sending you loads of love across the ocean.
I have been thinking a lot about some of my babylost mama friends these last few days. Monique, Sally, Aliza and Sarah have all gone through a horrific year and are remembering their beautiful babies birthdays this month. Please send them as much love as you can.
I could never have gotten through these last 11 months without you beautiful women.