Birth story, finally

I’m sitting in a coffee shop for the first time away from our baby for “pleasure” and not an errand. Spoiler alert: baby girl arrived, The Longest Shortest Time ago. Healthy and sweet she’s here and she’s doing great.

I’ve missed writing on a really basic level but have also no idea how anyone with a newborn manages to put words together to form sentences in everyday life, let alone log in to a thing and type them out for other people to read. I’m making excuses for myself and this post will likely get rambly, both because I’m tired and because I have so much I want to say.

I’ll pick up where I left off in January, though. (Trigger warning: decreased fetal movement, induction, early labour.) That trigger warning says a lot already but hopefully anyone reading and holding their breath a little feels like they can continue to read on, knowing that this story ends well. I also realize that some of what I’ll describe will be extremely triggering for anyone who has lost a baby without explanation at full term. (Big hugs and love to you brave mamas.)

In my last post I talked about how baby girl’s lack of movement had been causing me anxiety. Well, the day after I wrote that, we ended up at our midwives clinic for a non-stress test. After two of those without enough movement to reassure our midwife, we headed to the hospital for an ultrasound. The OB on call was a lovely soft-spoken man with an Irish accent who showed us baby girl on the screen and, I kid you not, said she was being lazy. He said everything looked okay but between him and our midwife they didn’t feel good about sending us home. There was no reason why her movements had decreased, but she wasn’t moving around enough to reassure anyone. We all agreed that we should get her out. I had a moment to mourn my planned birth at the birth centre, knowing full well that plans often don’t go as we imagine, took a deep breath and was admitted for induction. I felt surprisingly calm, and also reassured by the people who were caring for me. I have no idea how or why. I’m writing this four months out and maybe I’ve just forgotten the details of how I felt. But I know I didn’t cry, and I didn’t panic. N was with me and we were ready to meet her.

I’ll skip through some of the details of what happened because I don’t know that they’re helpful or necessary but I just want to share my experience because it was positive. And in PAL happy endings are what we all need. A long-ish story short: my induction went quickly, so quickly that my midwife had to interrupt a dinner date she was on to come back to the hospital to deliver our girl. I had no time for drugs and after about four hours of contractions and 20 minutes of pushing she was in my arms, screaming out immediately to let us know she was okay. On January 15th our little Blue Monday baby had arrived safe and sound. Six pounds, four ounces of joy.

There’s so much more I want to say but am just now feeling the itch to write things down again. I will be back, hopefully with some regularity.

We call Odin’s little sister Joanie April.


Call the Midwife

Week 39.

I’ve been relatively calm leading up to the final stage of this pregnancy. I feel pretty good about the way I’ve handled my anxieties and fears. Our birth plan simply involves an ending with me and baby girl alive and healthy. How we get there really doesn’t matter much to us because we realize that no plan is perfect and things rarely go according to them anyway. But as we get closer to hopefully bringing baby girl home (and I have to phrase it that way, I just have to) I think I’m feeling a little more anxious.

I’ve heard from lots of pregnant women that when they take baths their babies go crazy with movement. Our baby either really likes being in the bath and gets really relaxed like me, or she hates it. Either way, a bath is a sure-fire way to get her to be still. And staring at a still belly in a bathtub for 20-30 minutes is a sure-fire way to make me worry. Last night I had a bath and she was still and it seemed like ages before she moved again once I got out. Normally I can stay calm and just do some tricks to get her to move because the pattern of her stillness in the bath is normal for her, but last night I spiralled a bit.

In PAL, for me, my mind does one of two things:

  1. Of course she is dead. Once that’s confirmed, how will I proceed to get her out? Would I have a c-section this time? Or be induced? Etc., etc., dark thoughts, etc.
  2. There’s no way she can die. I can’t believe a world exists where we could have two babies die. Everything is fine.

Extreme? Yes. Normal in PAL? Definitely.

I felt paralyzed when I considered calling our midwife last night. Our team has been incredibly supportive and understanding so it had nothing to do with feeling judged by them. But I still felt embarrassed and ashamed. By the time I made the call I had felt baby move and there was really no reason for me to be worried. But I was and I couldn’t shake it. And maybe the idea of calling our midwife made my fears seem more real or plausible. How can I feel reassured that there’s nothing wrong? Even if she’s moving, couldn’t something still be horribly wrong?

This is probably obvious, but after speaking with our midwife I felt better. Baby girl was moving around even while I was talking on the phone and I was reassured to hear that at this stage in baby’s development she sleeps for up to 80 minutes at a time. And, now that we’re getting closer to delivery, her movements will start to feel different. I can go in for an NST (non-stress test) any time we’re worried. Our midwife also suggested that, for me, doing kick counts might be helpful (though they typically don’t recommend their patients focus on it).

I’m still feeling a little rattled this morning and am very focused on her movements. I’m on edge and a bit grumpy despite having slept pretty well. I’m going to try not to obsess too much, but it’s hard. It’s also hard to admit that I’m feeling this way. Part of me still feels really silly to be this worried, even though I know it’s normal. I’ve been a bit nervous to write over the last couple of weeks for fear of seeming negative. I know I am so lucky to be pregnant with this baby and to have made it this far and to likely be bringing her home very soon. And we are so excited to meet her. But it doesn’t mean that it’s not hard. I’m trying to be kind to myself but sometimes that’s the most challenging part.

I think today for self-care I’m going to try and finish this blanket I started making out of Odin wool. Wish me luck!

Lessons, Not Resolutions

I think it’s nice to start out a new year with some resolutions. I don’t know that I’ve ever really set any official ones, and I definitely won’t be this year, but I do like the idea of January 1st being a time to reflect back and to set some intentions for the year ahead. With grief as a constant and unpredictable companion, though, resolving to do much of anything can lead to a lot of disappointment. Grief has its own ideas and it’s a skill to learn to just roll with it. Which is why I’m reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned over this holiday season and thinking about how I might do better in the year ahead with my buddy grief.

Christmas was hard. Harder than we had anticipated. I’ve said it before (and I still believe it’s true) that anticipation of a thing is often harder than the thing itself. I thought I had a plan for making Christmas feel okay, but it just didn’t go the way I had imagined it would. Somehow I thought this year (our second without Odin) would be easier than last year and it just wasn’t. In some ways it was harder.

Typically, I’m pretty good at articulating my feelings. Which usually means I can talk relatively freely about what I need. For some reason this Christmas I sort of clammed up. The plan I mentioned in my last post to light a candle and bring Kornflake for my niece and nephew to play with sort of just didn’t happen. My niece had the barfs so I didn’t want to bring Kornflake out and, for some reason, I sort of just snuck Odin’s picture and candle onto the piano when no one was looking. I didn’t say anything and I’m not even sure who noticed it was there. I have no idea why I did it that way. Maybe in part because it’s so sad to have a memorial set up when Christmas is meant to be a happy celebration? Maybe I felt guilty about bringing people down? Maybe I was hoping someone else would do the work of saying something?

The Christmas routine unfolded as per usual with the high-volume chaos that accompanies 8 grown-ups and 2 kids under 6 opening a million gifts. When it was all over I just couldn’t contain it anymore and I retreated to the bedroom to sob and spent a couple of hours avoiding brunch and feeling sadder than I had felt in a long time.

I should have said something. I should have asked for what I needed. It’s all over and we didn’t talk about Odin at all. I’m so sorry, baby boy. I miss you.

There were a couple of bright spots to the morning, though, and ones I’m grateful for. N’s brother and wife slipped him a card after the gifts were opened and I was hiding away that read, “In loving memory of Odin we’ve made a donation to the High Park Nature Centre. Love Uncle M and Auntie T”. Which was very sweet and thoughtful of them to do. Also, my other SIL had two wrapped gifts and a card for Odin (something she did for us last year that was so incredibly important for us). This year it was a little grey sweatshirt that would have fit his nearly two-year-old frame that says Odin in gold letters. (The note suggested that Baby Girl could wear it in a couple of years.) She also gave us a board book about fish that was a favourite of her kids when they were two (and is extra special in a family full of fishermen). Having this ritual of opening gifts for Odin is the saddest but most heart-warming part of my Christmas (in addition to having an Odin-ornament-only Christmas tree). The fact that he is remembered and thought of in this really tangible way helps so much. I regret, though, that we opened these gifts in private. Each year we open SIL’s gifts away from everyone else because, inevitably, we break down into crying messes thinking about how things should be so different. I think that next year I would like to open them with all the other “normal” gifts. Bearing witness to our grief — even years down the road — I think is important for our families to see and be a part of. I hope that well in advance of Christmas next year I will be able to communicate that we need to talk about Odin. That we’d like to start a ritual where we all light a candle together or that we’d like everyone to do an act of kindness in his name. Or maybe we’ll do a stocking with notes to him. Something. Anything, really. I’ll admit that I sort of resent having to tell people what to do or to ask people to be thoughtful, but I’ve realized that what to do for grieving infant loss parents is a huge blindspot for people in general. Without articulating what you need, (except in rare and very special cases) you just won’t get it.

Next Christmas, it will be even more important for us to be vocal about what we need. The routines of the holiday are already distracting enough but we will (fingers crossed, hopes high) have a nearly one-year-old who I’m sure will be keeping us busy. And the feelings of joy at having her there will be complicated by missing Odin. I can’t even imagine what that will feel like, but hopefully I’ll be able to talk and be open about it.

Christmas, Round Two

I’ve been sick with a cold for almost a week now. N has had it, too, but worse and for longer (t’is the season). It’s had us both couch- and bed-ridden, exhausted, and depleted. And it’s been a distraction to the lead up to Christmas because we’re just trying to physically function as the days tick by. I’m feeling a little bit better this morning and I looked at the calendar and can hardly believe how quickly Christmas has snuck up. What woke me up this morning was the vision I had of how we’ll include Odin in Christmas morning at my in-laws. I often struggle and get anxious about what holidays or events will look like when I want to include Odin in everything we do but, so far, I’ve always had an idea pop into my head as the day approaches. (For example, at our family baby shower for baby girl a few weeks ago, N and I took a few minutes before we opened gifts to talk about Odin and to light a candle for him and for other family members who are no longer with us. It felt good to bring him into that space where we wanted to celebrate our baby girl, but also wanted to acknowledge that life without our baby boy is still so hard. That forever balancing act.)

For Christmas, the idea isn’t anything all that creative or fancy, but the image of what I think will help our hearts came to me so clearly and made me think of our little guy and, of course, brought on a wave of grief.

We have so much to be grateful for, and so much to look forward to. But that doesn’t change the fact that there will always be a missing piece. 

Grief ebbs and flows and changes, sometimes daily. It’s no secret that the holidays are a difficult time for anyone who has experienced loss. It’s a time to be together with family and to celebrate and when you’re missing someone it just makes everything harder. The happiness of others can be excruciating when you’re missing a piece of your heart. When I think about last Christmas and how I just wanted to skip the whole affair, I know that this year will be different. The sadness isn’t as raw as it was a year ago, but there’s no doubt that it will still be hard. I think every year will be hard even though I know the grief will continue to evolve.

Sometimes grief is a monster that rears its head, bringing you to your knees with images of the days and weeks around the trauma of the loss. Sometimes you are overcome with longing for what your life should be. But sometimes grief is gentler, and tugs at your heartstrings when you consider how much deeper you are able to love and understand the pain of others since your loss. Even though you would trade it all in a heartbeat to have your baby back, the connections you’ve made with others on this journey are a gift. Sometimes grief steals; sometimes grief gives.

What I imagine for Christmas morning is that that we will bring a small framed picture of Odin with a flameless candle to place on top of the piano in the room where we all gather to open gifts. I think we’ll also bring Kornflake (the bear we got at the hospital when Odin was born) so that our niece and nephew can play with him while the gifts are opened. Hopefully that will make everyone comfortable with thinking about him and maybe saying his name. Hopefully it will feel like enough.

Every ornament on our Christmas tree is for Odin. This one was made this year by Jessi Snapp over at Luminous Light Studio.




I’m not sure why some people feel the need to give advice to those of us with babies on the way. I guess I know it’s just part of how our society operates but I really really want to know the why of it. Because this specific brand of advice for expectant parents is always at least a little bit the same. It’s typically some kind of warning or scare tactic to make you realize that parenting an infant is “gonna be the worst!” Does it make people feel better about how they dealt with certain aspects of raising a newborn? Are they trying to project their experiences onto me? I honestly can’t figure it out.

“Sleep now while you can!”

I’m trying, really I am. Elaborate pillow system and all. Some nights I sleep pretty well, other nights aren’t great. Being told to sleep now because I may never sleep again, surprisingly, doesn’t make sleep any easier. Weird, right?

“Insomnia is nature’s way of preparing you for the sleepless nights ahead when the baby comes!”

What is grief insomnia for then? I have a hard time believing that insomnia is for anything at all. I think it’s just an unfortunate part of our biology. We are meant to sleep and I doubt there’s any science in lack of sleep being a way to prepare for something. (Someone jump in if I’m wrong here.)

“Get ready for all hell to break loose!”

I know this was meant to be a lighthearted comment. But “hell”? Really? I know a little bit about what my own personal hell is, having lived through it, and I know that bringing baby girl home and into our lives [knocking on wood here that she’s healthy] will not be hell. It will be challenging, but it will not be hell.

“Your job is to not get divorced in the first 100 days.”

This advice was from a person we just met. She was three sheets to the wind at the time and I don’t even remember her name but we had to laugh because what do people think a baby is? If we are lucky enough to bring our daughter home, healthy and safe, I can guarantee you that no matter what kind of baby she is N and I will not be divorcing over her existence in our lives. And this can’t just be because we’ve experienced a loss. For sure N and I have a bond over losing Odin that has made our relationship stronger than anything out there, but regular people have babies all the time. Divorce? In the first 100 days? What kind of relationships do these people have? And where did the arbitrary 100 days come from?

“Having a newborn is so hard.”

Agreed. One hundred per cent a true statement and one we fully recognize (and do not really need to be reminded of). But you know what’s harder? Not having that newborn. Giving birth to your child and returning home without him and continuing to live a life that will never truly be complete . It’s a challenge for me not to remind people of that and I find myself literally biting my tongue sometimes. Most of what I’m talking about here isn’t just about PAL, it’s a general complaint about people not being able to mind their own business. (I know I’m not the only one who wishes people would quit giving unsolicited advice.) But when you factor in loss, it adds another layer. Where were these people who are worried about us getting enough sleep and divorcing when we really were going through the worst imaginable thing? Why is it now, when we’re about to meet our baby girl, that these random people want to put a negative spin on things? We are already anxious enough, thankyouverymuch. It’s such a weird thing to me. People, generally, being so willing to remind you of how “hard” things are and yet also, generally, being so unable to sit with things that are truly difficult, like grief. How and who does it help to suggest that this new chapter in our lives will be hard?


“MYOB” is a thing my grade two teacher used to say to whiny students who would complain to her about other kids in the class. I’m sure it saved her a lot of time not to utter, “Mind Your Own Business” a million times a day to second-graders.

Mind Games

N and I went for a scheduled ultrasound yesterday. It wasn’t totally necessary, but my placenta was low at our 20-week anatomy scan so it was a good excuse to just check on things. I won’t bury the lede: everything is fine and normal and I do not have placenta previa (my placenta is 8 cm away from the opening of my cervix which is plenty far and nothing at all to worry about).

I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with just dropping the information bomb about our loss when we go into appointments like this. I’ve found that if we’re going to get the extra care or concern that we need, it’s best to leave the guessing out. Ultrasound technicians rarely know a patient’s background, so I just came out with it when we walked into the room: “Just so you know, we had a second-trimester loss last year so we’re always pretty nervous for these things.” The technician, Carlos, was kind, friendly, and professional. The ultrasound itself was quick, though, and I couldn’t see the screen while he was doing it. When it was over he made a point of bringing us the report in the waiting room and telling us with a smile that everything was normal.

All of that seems pretty reassuring, right? It probably should be. And I thought it was until later last night. (I feel like this is a running theme for me — the discovery of my not-okayness coming later on in the day after digesting a day’s events.)

He asked me more than once about her movements. He said she was pretty relaxed in there. Something is probably wrong. I’m not feeling her move enough. I know she’s alive right now, I know I feel her moving, but something must be wrong. Why did he ask so much about her movements?

Later in the evening, I tearfully described my fears about the appointment to N who remembered things very differently than I did (and in a way that I should — and am trying — to trust). He reminded me that Carlos asked about movement before the ultrasound even started, and that the two other times I remembered him asking about movement were actually just two parts of the same comment, “When is she most active?” and after my reply, “She’s pretty relaxed in there right now.” The thing is, I wasn’t being negative or looking at the appointment judgementally. I legitimately remembered the appointment being much darker than it actually was, which is a bit scary to me.

Strangely enough, I was more anxious about this ultrasound than our anatomy scan at twenty weeks. For that one I had somehow convinced myself that if we got a bad diagnosis again and went through what we did with Odin, I could do it. I would give birth and meet my baby and it would be worth it, because I would choose Odin over and over again and go through it all again to hold him. That probably sounds pretty insane, but it got me through that stage. For this ultrasound I didn’t know how to feel. Everything has been so normal so far that I can’t help but think about all of the potentially bad things that could still happen. Being a part of the infant loss support community makes everything that is, in reality, pretty rare, seem so much more common. Lately, I have been more anxious, generally, than I’ve ever been in my life (can you tell?) and this general feeling of dread and impending doom came with me into that room yesterday, even though I didn’t recognize it at the time. The ultrasound image we got of baby girl isn’t a good one. It’s actually pretty creepy. For some reason we didn’t get to see her whole silhouette like I imagined we would. He just showed us her head and face. I imagined feeling reassured by seeing her okay in there, but it just didn’t happen the way I thought it would. But again, my memory of what we did see on the screen is much darker than what happened in reality. N reminded me that we saw her hand pop up and give a wave. And that, although she looked a bit squished, we saw her profile and her nose and it was cute. We may have even “awww’d” a bit.

Our friends have a collection of multiple images from their ultrasounds. Literally a dozen pictures of their baby before she was born. We have nothing for this baby. The hospital where we go for ultrasounds doesn’t give out images like the regular clinics. This time we took a picture on our phones of the screen but the picture is disturbing. It’s just her face and she looks like a ghost; her eyes look like black holes. What if this is all we’ll ever have?

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned this or not, but I’ve been doing a mindfulness/CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) course through the maternal mental health department at the hospital where Odin was born. It’s two hours long, once a week for 8 weeks. It’s been challenging, but helpful. I’ve gained new perspective on thought patterns and how they relate to depression and anxiety. My biggest takeaways so far have to do with self-compassion (probably the hardest part for me) and really starting to believe and remember that thoughts are not facts. I haven’t been super diligent about meditating regularly, but there was a study done recently that shows that all you need to do to gain benefits from meditation is a 9-minute practice a day, which seems pretty doable. If it seems like I’m a mess, it’s because I probably am right now. But it doesn’t mean that I’m not working hard not to be a mess. It’s just that this is hard. PAL is not for the faint-hearted. I am grateful for all the support I have and also for this forum, which helps me work through and process what I’m feeling. And maybe you’re reading this and relating to the mess. If you are, I’m glad you know you’re not alone.

No Pink

I know I’m not alone feeling gutted every time I check my Twitter feed these days. The news is depressing, it’s triggering, and it’s infuriating. I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be pregnant and about all of the silent sacrifices that women and mothers make. It’s hard not to consider womanhood when the news has been what it’s been lately.

I am a woman and I am a mother and I am very happy to be both. But I am about to bring a female baby into this world and this is a world where women are vulnerable, both physically and emotionally to the power of the patriarchy. (Sidebar: I’m having a PAL pang here where I’m feeling scared to assume that everything with the rest of this pregnancy will be okay. Deep breath. . .) The news these days has been heartbreaking on so many different levels, but I’m here thinking about what it means to be a woman. In Hollywood, women who have been fearful and silent are coming forward to tell their stories of harassment and abuse at the hands of powerful and influential men. It’s starting a conversation about a hidden, accepted, systemic problem with how women and men are socialized. I am inspired by the strength the victims have to come forward and horrified by what’s happened to them. I know that there are so many reasons to feel grateful and lucky to live where I live and to have the privileges I do, but I am also scared for my girl.

I hate that she will walk down the street and be catcalled. I hate that some guy at a bar will slip a drug in her drink. I hate that men will tell her she should smile more. I hate that the mandatory uniform at her first job will be revealing and uncomfortable while her male coworkers wear jeans. I hate that she will face judgment and opposition when she makes choices about her body as if it’s anyone’s business but her own. I hate that she will never feel 100% safe walking alone at night.

People ask if we know the gender of our baby and it makes me defensive for a variety of reasons, despite their honest intentions. I am proud to be carrying this baby and proud to be her mother but I worry for her and what it means to be a girl in this world. I mask some of that fear behind a vocal and light-hearted disdain for the colour pink, but it’s much deeper than disliking a colour. For me, dressing our girl in pink feels like allowing the labels and limitations of what it means to be a woman to start before she even has a choice about it. For me, the problem is what’s tied up in baby outfits that say “Mommy’s Little Cutie” vs. “I Am a Superhero!”. It’s how we write on the bodies of babies the gender roles which we fight against as women and as adults. To me, dressing a baby in pink feels like adhering to society’s view of what is arbitrarily feminine based purely on my baby’s sex organs. Our daughter’s worth is not determined by what she looks like but by who she is as a person. We know this, we preach this, and yet. . . The retail market is overrun with the idea that a baby needs bows and sparkles to signify her femininity (what even is femininity in an infant??) There seems to be this strange need to add pink and ribbons to make it clear that a baby is a girl. And I don’t understand it. A baby can’t choose. I will definitely be sure that our girl knows that she does not ever need to demur to the assumed entitlement of boys in “Daddy’s Tough Guy” t-shirts. We will do our best to teach her these lessons while society shows her otherwise.

I am so excited for that wonderful day in the future when people stop asking pregnant women, “is it a boy or a girl?” as if it matters. It doesn’t matter. The answer should always be, “it’s a human baby!” My child can do or be whatever she wants to be whether she is dressed in blue or pink; whether she identifies as male or female.  But even as I say this I know that she will be limited. Unless feminism is accepted in every facet of our society over the next 20 years, she will make less money than her male colleagues. She will be overlooked for promotions. She will be judged for her appearance. She will make career sacrifices and take unpaid leave to raise children, if she chooses and is able to become a mother. She will be victim to the male gaze, no matter what she looks like, what her sexual orientation is or how she dresses or behaves. And all of this makes me so angry. I feel powerless to protect her and I want this world to be better for her. I suppose that’s where motherhood starts.


(I want to acknowledge that my point of view is from a place of privilege. I am a cisgender, straight, white, middle-class, Canadian woman and that, inevitably, impacts my world-view. I try to stay aware of what my privilege means and hope that I haven’t said anything here that is offensive to anyone. I also know that life is a journey and on the way we learn things. If there’s anything I’ve said that you find problematic, please send me a message.)

Always Missing

And sometimes you can’t breathe.

How is this your life? How will you go on for the rest of it without him?

All it takes is an image, a thought, a sound, a memory, and the pain comes flooding back.

You can’t believe he’s gone. He was just a little baby in your arms. A little baby. How can this be?

Everything is tainted by the missing. A tiny him-shaped hole in everything.

All of your joys made a little bit bitter because of his absence. You know he is with you in your heart, but it’s not enough.

There are moments when all you feel is love and you know you were blessed he picked you. And you know you would do it all over again just to hold him.

But why couldn’t he stay?

Insomnia and a Blessing

After Odin died I had a lot of trouble sleeping for a few months. I was prescribed a sleeping pill by my doctor that really helped me get through that period. Otherwise, I have been a boastfully good nighttime sleeper all my life. Until the third trimester of this pregnancy, that is. According to the internet, 75-80% of pregnant women experience insomnia at some stage (usually later on) in their pregnancies. I am always torn about complaining about my symptoms (unless it’s to N, whose patience, I’m convinced, goes unmatched by any other human on the planet) because underneath the back pain, breathlessness (I’m pretty sure I have pregnancy-related asthma now), and general fatigue I am so so grateful to be pregnant with baby girl. The insomnia, though, is really starting to mess with me.

Generally, my witching hours are 3-6am when I am wide awake staring into the darkness. I know there are rules and tricks to try for sleeplessness, but it feels very wrong to me to get out of bed in the middle of the night to putter or read. What if I could fall asleep if I just stayed in bed? I’m not sure how I manage to just lay there for 3 hours, but I do. And it’s getting harder and harder the more exhausted I am to keep my mind from wandering back to that delivery room where we spent our only time with our very missed baby boy. This insomnia feels like a cruel joke. The vicious cycle of being tired and then feeling rotten and being vulnerable to my emotions.

I stayed home from work today because I was feeling so anxious and tired and sad and weird. And maybe Halloween has something to do with it. Yet another kid-centric holiday that reminds us of what we’re missing. An 18-month-old in a dinosaur costume waddling around and giggling with a bit too much sugar in his tummy.

And even as I sit here writing this, I’m thinking that I’m not even saying anything worth reading. Exhaustion brings doubt. So, I’m going to cheat and use someone else’s words to wrap this up. A blessing sent to me a while ago by a dear friend whose baby died last year and who now has a living daughter.

Blessing for a Mother-to-be
John O’Donohue

Nothing could have prepared your heart to open like this. From beyond the skies and the stars this echo arrived inside you and started to pulse with life, each beat a tiny act of growth, traversing all our ancient shapes on its way home to itself.

Once it began, you were no longer your own. A new, more courageous you, offering itself in a new way to a presence you can sense but you have not seen or known.

It has made you feel alone in a way you never knew before, everyone else sees only from the outside what you feel and feed with every fibre of your being. Never have you traveled farther inward where words and thoughts become half-light unable to reach the fund of brightness strengthening inside the night of your womb. Like some primeval moon, your soul brightens the tides of essence that flow to your child. You know your life has changed forever, for in all the days and years to come, distance will never be able to cut you off from the one you now carry for nine months under your heart.

May you be blessed with quiet confidence that destiny will guide you and mind you. May the emerging spirit of your child imbibe encouragement and joy from the continuous music of your heart, so that it can grow with ease, expectant of wonder and welcome when its form is fully filled. And it makes it journey out to see you and settle at last relieved and glad in your arms.


Emotional Hangover

This past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada so N and I headed north to my hometown to spend the weekend with my family. It was pretty low-key. The weather has been unseasonably warm for October so we were able to go for a nice walk in a conservation area. On Sunday we had a big family dinner with some extended family. It was a nice weekend. I slept a lot and I didn’t feel stressed or overwhelmed or sad the whole weekend.

Until we got home.

After some reflection, I think that spending so much time over the weekend talking about (and planning for) baby girl impacted me more than I realized while it was happening. And I don’t even know exactly what I mean by this. Everything was just so incredibly normal and maybe I need to be more mindful about how un-normal our situation is. In our own home we have reminders of Odin everywhere. It’s the place we mourn, remember, and love him freely. And not that we’re not free to talk about him with family, but it’s easy enough to slip into “normal” when you’re in a different space. I think I need to always allow our loss a little bit of space no matter what we’re doing or where we are and that will take conscious effort. While we were away from home we talked a lot about setting up the nursery. My mom gave me a bunch of clothes that she had bought for baby girl. At the big family dinner there was so much focus on me being pregnant. I was fine with all of this while it was happening but when I got home I fell apart. I couldn’t sleep. I sobbed inconsolably into the wee hours. Our reality crashed down on me and I missed Odin as if we had just said goodbye.

On the holiday Monday we went to visit our friends from support group whose baby boy was born ten days ago. They lost a son last August when my friend was 36-weeks pregnant. Given my state of mind, it maybe wasn’t the best choice to visit that day. Or maybe it was the best choice? I have no idea. Their baby boy, Leo, is perfect. I held him and cried for lots of obvious reasons but also for reasons I can’t fully articulate. It felt good to be with that little family. Seeing how they’re okay. Seeing that it’s possible to have room in your heart for two babies, even if one isn’t here to hold. They miss the son they lost and they are overjoyed at the presence of their new little one. Maybe that sounds incredibly obvious but it was something I needed to see and feel with my whole heart. Holding that tiny baby boy was both a high and a devastation that I can’t explain. I feel like an addict who has had a taste and now I want more. But I want that more to be Odin, and it can’t be. If it sounds impossibly complicated, it’s because it is. Holding Leo was a reminder of what we’ve lost, but also a reminder of what hope and joy feel like. My heart swelled and shattered in a giant wreck.

I wrote this on Tuesday (I think I’ve mentioned I hate Tuesdays at the best of times) and I couldn’t care or focus at work. I was on edge. Grumpy. My heart and my mind are so full and I can’t seem to snap out of it. (*Pause here to email therapist to set up appointment.) I know I won’t always feel as bad as I do right now because healing is not linear and grief doesn’t follow any rules. Holidays are always hard and they likely always will be. There will always be a missing piece.