October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Despite my high hopes of having written something other than Dear Baby Ikes by now, I’ve…not.  I can’t even remember if I wrote anything at all last year on October 15th, but without going back to check, I suspect not.

I don’t feel the need to retell my story of loss here today (though I should recreate an About page or the like).  Suffice it to say that four miscarriages over five years or so makes for a very long story to tell. I do tell it when it seems to be the right thing to do, but this year it doesn’t feel like it’s my own story that weighs heaviest on my mind. Stuff has been rather…ugly, lately.  Not only for me; a friend’s marriage and a long-term relationship between two other friends both fell apart recently, with no solid indication in either case whether there’s even a chance for them to be put back together. Humpty Fucking Dumpty. That’s not what this day is actually about, of course, but for me that kind of grief touches very close to the sort grief with which I do have more experience. I’ve written previously here and there about the impact of my losses and how I did and didn’t deal with them on my marriage.  I’m not sure I have much new to say about it now, and while I logically know I’m not the only one who probably seems to struggle more than most (at least it seems that way to me), I will never be one to spout platitudes about how it only made us stronger, closer, better as a couple.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to look back with more perspective and see it that way, but I guess I’m still not far enough removed. Someday, I hope.

I always hate this time of year, anyway, mostly because my first miscarriage happened in September, but the way the changes in the daylight and the trees and the seasons always coincide never fails to leave me with a months-long hangover of remembered grief.  Last year I felt a little bit better equipped than usual to cope.  Having a baby will do that, at least in my super-scientific sample size of exactly one.  We even took Ike to the gathering at a local park organized by a local Face2Face group (find one in your area here).  He’s older this year, obviously, and the 7 pm International Wave of Light gets dangerously close to interfering with his bedtime, and he’s got a new tooth coming through, so I’m not going to try to take him to the park this year.  For other reasons, too, it simply is not as appealing to me right now.  The healing vibe has faded, through no fault at all of the organizer or the group, but for me…I just can’t do it this year.

What I have been able to do of late, is reach out and make connections with a couple of women I ordinarily am not very close with, who now unfortunately have their own history with pregnancy loss.  These are more real-life more-than-acquaintances/Face.book friends, but not members of the online ALI community, so in reaching out I did have a bit more trepidation that they wouldn’t be open to talking about it, that I’d end up hurting feelings more than I would be able to help. Thankfully that wasn’t the case in either situation, and both seemed somewhat relieved or at least touched and not hurt that I’d brought up the subject seemingly out of nowhere.  Their stories aren’t mine to tell; I could probably do so making them anonymous, but that isn’t really the point I want to make today.  I find it quite hard to articulate the gratitude I have for the ability to reach out and make those connections.  Like we often say, it’s not a club anyone wants to join, and there is of course nothing about their losses that actually makes me happy, but I am so very glad to have felt brave enough to reach out and offer to just listen, if nothing else.  It’s not something I could have ever done without having lived my own bit of hell. The community of ALI bloggers has been an unending and ever-present source of support when I’ve needed it (and hopefully I’ve been able to lend support back as well), and it felt rather amazing to take the risk and extend that support rather spontaneously to women who probably have no idea that an ALI community exists.  Paying it forward, I hope.

So that is my take on October 15th this year.  As you remember the babies that aren’t here with you or with your loved ones, look around and take the risk of reaching out.  Bet that saying something is going to help someone much more than saying nothing.  There will be many names on my mind this evening as I light my candles, and while I’d never wish for the list to grow, I hope that those grieving can have the tiniest bit of comfort knowing that they aren’t the only ones who will never forget.

Fifteen Plus

Dear Baby Ike,

More than two weeks ago already, you turned fifteen months.  I’m clearly having just as hard a time keeping up with these letters to you as I have keeping up with you these days.  You are very much on the move.  The pitter-patter of your still fairly tiny feet sound off at a pace that I suppose qualifies as running.  I can put you down in one spot, turn my head for just a second, and then have to guess which direction you went.  Usually, if we haven’t taken care to put Dexter’s water bowl up out of your reach, you’ll be found in the inevitable puddle.

At your fifteen month checkup with the pediatrician, you weighed in at 22 pounds and three ounces, and were measured at 30 inches tall, which again puts you right in the middle of the pack for weight, though on the shorter side.  Your head circumference is still on the higher end of the curve, which makes it very tempting to dress you up as Charlie Brown for Halloween.  All we’d need is a yellow tee shirt and some electrical tape!  While you still don’t have much hair on top of your head, you have sprouted some length in the back.  Business in the front, party in the back, baby-mullet style.  I already don’t ever want to give you a haircut, but your father will likely prevail before I let you look like too much of a flower child.

Really, I should find you a little doggie costume for Beggar’s Night, as that is still your favorite word, followed closely by ‘birdie’ and ‘apple,’ which sounds more like ‘ahh-puuuw.’  I can’t get enough of it.  When we read the Charley Harper ABCs book we borrowed from the library, you’ll chime right in on B is for BIR-DEEEE and D is for DAGG-EEEE. You find much joy in putting Daddy’s baseball cap on my head, which serves as a great distraction during the diaper changes you’ll hardly hold still for anymore.  You’re picking up more and more words every week, including ‘hat’ and also ‘head,’ which you’ll throw your hands onto when asked where it is.  You also say ‘cheese’ (kee) and ‘keys’ (dee-dee) and probably at least seven other words that I am forgetting right now.  Oh yes, PEE.  We hear that with regularity during diaper changes. You call every infant or kid, and some adults too, in photos or random product packaging, ‘bee-bee’ (baby).  When you see pictures of me and your dad you point and exclaim MOMMY and/or DADDY.  I’m a little sad to have Mama fade into Mommy already, but you still bring Mama back every once in a while, for which I’m ridiculously, sentimentally grateful.

It takes you a little while to warm up around new people or those you don’t see very often, but sooner than later your curiosity takes over and you’re all explorer, checking out what you can get into if we’ve taken you to a new place.  As we move further into toddler territory, I know that we need to set firm limits on a lot of things, but I hope that you will keep that overwhelming curiosity at the same time.  I love watching you discover the world, giving names to things, and seeing your face light up at our excitement as you start to say those names out loud.

Next month you’ll be the ring bearer in Uncle Mikey and [almost technically legally finally] Aunt Steph’s wedding.  Your tiny suit arrived last week.  I’m torn on whether to look further for dress shoes for you or to just let you rock the black and white sneaks you already have that are probably almost close enough to fitting to work.  I honestly have no idea how you’ll react to a church full of guests looking at us (I will accompany you as the Flower Maid – a hybrid of bridesmaid and flower girl) and oohing and ahhing over your cuteness.  Around the house or out and about you will sometimes take my hand and lead me over to show me something, but I don’t necessarily expect that to work well on the spot.  I’m searching for some much lower than I’d normally wear heels, because I expect I might end up having to pick you up and walk you down the aisle. Hopefully having Daddy at the other end will help; you can always steal the show taking off running toward him.  I just hope that if you do become the center of attention it’s not for thrashing or screaming or earnest fussing.  As long as I don’t try to brush your teeth during the ceremony, we probably won’t cause too much chaos…though those may be famous last words!

The next letter I write to you here will be for your half-birthday.  I can’t wait to see how much you change between now and then.  I know it will be a lot, but as the months go by, I find I can never quite imagine the amusement (and some frustrations, of course) you’ll provide for us next.

Love you so much,

Mama (hanging onto that as long as I can!), better known now as Mommy

Photo credit to your Aunt Jeni

Stopping in to see all the ladies at Aunt Steph’s shower.