Planet My Baby Died

20 Nov

I did not intend to disappear for the better part of a month.  I’m not exactly sure what happened.  I was on a work trip and then it was my birthday and turning 34 did not agree with me and therefore I decided to sulk for a while.  Because that’s the mature attitude to take about  turning a year older.  I’m 34.  I was 28 when we decided to start trying for a family.  That seems like a lifetime ago.

While I was on my work trip, I read the most amazing blog post and even though it would seem very easy for me to pop on over here and post a link to it, it was the hardest thing in the world for this new 34-year-old to do. So I’m doing it now.

Brooke from by the brooke posted an excerpt from a book of advice columns.  The book is by Cheryl Strayed and is called Tiny Beautiful Things:  Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar.  While I was on Amazon grabbing that link, I sent it directly to my Kindle.  I cannot wait to read the rest.

You can read the post here.   I’m not going to repost the entire thing here.  The jist of it is that the woman who wrote to Dear Sugar had lost her baby when she was six and half months pregnant.  A year later, she wasn’t over it though other people expected her to be.  She felt  like it was her fault that she lost the baby and she was punishing herself, for the loss and for not being over it.  The response to this letter brings tears to my eyes every single time I read it.  Never had I read such perfect advice to anyone for anything.  Here are a few quotes that especially spoke to me.

Don’t listen to those people who suggest you should be “over” your daughter’s death by now.  The people who squawk the loudest about such things have almost never had to get over anything.  Or at least not anything that was genuinely mind-fuckingly, soul-crushingly life altering.  Some of those people believe they are being helpful by minimizing your pain.  Others are scared of the intensity of your loss and so they use their words to push your grief away.Many of those people love you and are worthy of your love, but they are not the people who will be helpful to you when it comes to healing the pain of your daughter’s death.

They live on Planet Earth.  You live on Planet My Baby Died.

Oh my God, yes.  I cannot even explain how much better this made me feel to see in print.  People have no idea what this pain is like.  Yet they try to push it away as if it’s nothing, or as if you’re crying over a paper cut instead of the loss of your baby. They have no idea that the entire world now revolves around this empty hole in your life where your baby should be.

It seems to me that you feel like you’re all alone there.  You aren’t.  There are women reading this right now who have tears in their eyes.  There are women who have spent their days chanting daughter, daughter or son, son silently to themselves.  Women who have been privately tormented about the things they did or didn’t do that they fear caused the death of their babies.  You need to find those women.  They’re your tribe.

I know because I’ve lived on a few planets that aren’t Planet Earth myself.

Joining the support group and reaching out for help on this blog were the two best things I ever did.  By doing those things, I met women who understood my pain and my grief in a way that no one in my personal life could.  I found my tribe.  And I’ve never been more grateful for it.  How I wish I could have met those women at book club instead.  Instead, we had this awful thing happen and we were able to help each other through it.

This is how you get unstuck, Stuck.  You reach.  Not so you can walk away from the daughter you loved, but so you can live the life that is yours–the one that includes the sad loss of your daughter, but is not arrested by it.  The one that eventually leads you to a place in which you not only grieve her, but also feel lucky to have had the privilege of loving her.  That place of true healing is a fierce place.  It’s a giant place.  It’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light.  And you have to work really, really, really hard to get there, but you can do it.  You’re a woman who can travel that far.  I know it.

This is the part of the letter where I start openly crying.  Every. Freaking. Time. It gets me and the tears just start falling.  I want these words to be permanently imprinted on my brain.  I want to hear them every day, all day.  Because I forget.  I forget all the time that I need to get to that place where my life is not arrested by the loss of my baby.  It’s part of the reason that is holding me back from the paperwork for the adoption.  I am still held back by the loss but I need to keep reaching and moving forward.  My son would not be proud of a mom that got stuck in one place and couldn’t move on with her life.

You will never stop loving your daughter.  You will never forget her.  You will always know her name.  But she will always be dead.  Nobody can intervene and make that right and nobody will.  Nobody can take it back with silence or push it away with words.  Nobody will protect you from your suffering.  You can’t cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away.  It’s just there, and you have to survive it.  You have to endure it.  You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.

This is the other part I need tattooed on my brain.  It seems so simple.  But I forget.  My baby will always be dead.  It’s so stupid, but I forget.  I forget that this is a thing that I cannot change.  It will always be.  I will never ever get him back and no one can change that.  I just have to survive it.

I never thought that over a year later I would still be here, living on Planet My Baby Died.  I’m not sure that I will ever be able to leave.  I will never be able to forget. I just have to figure out a way to survive it.


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19 Responses to “Planet My Baby Died”

  1. bornbyariver November 20, 2012 at 7:50 pm #

    So very sorry. I’ve never visited your planet, but I can tell you that Planet My Mom Died and Planet I Cant Get Pregnant are lousy places. Sometimes I just need to surround myself with people who understand because they are living there too. It truly is all about living with grief, but escaping it is impossible. I hope you will feel love and support through the holidays. Take good care of yourself, you deserve extra TLC

    • Anna November 20, 2012 at 8:18 pm #

      Planet I can’t get pregnant does suck. I split my time between there and Planet my baby died. And I can’t imagine Planet my mom died. I’m sorry you have to live there. I think the holidays are just so difficult for so many people. I wish it was just acknowledged more often. I’ll be thinking of you this holiday season too.

  2. Wannabemom November 20, 2012 at 9:11 pm #

    Wow, those are some powerful words. Sometimes I have a really hard time accepting that no one can take the pain away. I’m creeping up on a year and the hurt just grabs me so hard sometimes. These planets of loss and infertility suck. (I don’t have a mom either. She’s not dead but she might as well be but that doesn’t effect me nearly as profoundly). Thank you for sharing, tribe-mate.

    • Anna November 20, 2012 at 9:22 pm #

      It affects me so much every time I read it. I’m so grateful that Brooke found it.

  3. Robin November 20, 2012 at 9:14 pm #

    This is the part that gets me every time…

    But she will always be dead. Nobody can intervene and make that right and nobody will.

    It’s shocking how much that hurts even though its an obvious fact. My son is dead. He’s not coming back. And it breaks my heart every time I think it or someone else says it. How can that be?

    • Anna November 20, 2012 at 9:24 pm #

      I completely agree! The first time I read it that took my breath away. Like how dare she say that? Even though its just the truth.

  4. Amy November 21, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    What beautiful, yet appropriately brutal, advice. It does seem like an impossible thing to ask of yourself, to survive such a completely devastating and heartbreaking loss. I wish that I could describe a surefire way to survive it and stimulate the healing that will eventually come, when you can’t even believe the grief will ever even soften, and you know that it will never be erased. I am abiding with you, still and always, and I must say that I am proud of you for making it this far – I hope you can give yourself credit for reaching out when you needed to find your tribe. I am absolutely certain that you have helped others immeasurably in the process, too. I firmly believe that for every comment we get on posts about grief, there are several other readers that cannot bring themselves to comment, but find at least some solace in knowing that they are not alone, even if they cannot manage to reach back yet.

    • Anna November 21, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

      That’s such a good way to describe it – beautiful yet brutal. It is brutal even thought it’s not anything new. I remember once reading a quote that said something to the effect of “you’re not looking for an answer. You know what the right thing to do is. You’re just waiting for a time when you are forced to do it.” Some days I feel like that is my life – I’m just waiting for the day I am forced to move on and then I’ll do it. Until then I’m just going to hang out in my dark little depressing pity party and wait for that kick in the butt.

      • Amy November 22, 2012 at 8:59 am #

        I see absolutely nothing wrong with that, other than that it must be awful to feel stuck in that party. But really, seems legit, to paint it with a horribly inadequate brush. One day you will feel unstuck, and it probably won’t even feel like you’re being forced…it will just happen, but in the meantime where you are is where you need to be, and there’s no reason to feel badly about that. Big hugs – I hope this weekend is as enjoyable as possible for you (and if it just plain sucks, you’re totally allowed to feel that, too!).

        • Anna November 25, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

          It was equal parts okay and horrible which I think at this point is the most that I can ask for!

  5. YeahScience! November 21, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Wow… such powerful advice. I’d heard of this Dear Sugar column before, but never bothered to read it because I assumed it would be super cheesy. Clearly I was very wrong about that. It might be worth passing this on to the important people in your life, just so they can understand why you’re feeling the way you are, and what you need from them to heal. Although I haven’t experienced baby loss myself, I certainly dread it… I was incredibly moved, actually, by this Radiolab podcast about fetal cells — they explain how, when you get pregnant, even if it results in miscarriage or still birth or anything, the cells from that baby remain in your system for the rest of your life and potentially help you fight disease. It’s really crazy, and kind of amazing/poetic. Highly recommend listening to it… just Google “Radiolab” and “fetal cells” and it should come up!

    • Anna November 21, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

      I agree. I never read the column because I thought it would be cheesy but she writes really good advice. She draws on her own personal experiences to advise people and it is really moving. I posted it on my Facebook page and recommended that people that haven’t lost a babyI read it so they understand what I (and other) am going through.

      I didn’t listen to that podcast but I read an article about that and I loved reading that. Completely agree that there is something poetic about it. I might have to listen to the podcast too.

  6. Brooke November 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

    I really don’t know how any of us survives this pain and loss. I do know that I could never do it alone. Sending much love to you.

    I fucking hate this planet. It’s too bad there are so many great people here.

    • Anna November 21, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

      I agree. I always used to say that there would be no way that I would be able to survive a loss like this. I really thought I wouldn’t be able to take the pain of something like this but somehow I’ve gotten this far.

      I agree – I hate this planet too. And I hate that you have to live here to understand it.

    • Feit Can Write November 27, 2012 at 11:11 am #

      Agreed. But some of the strongest people I know have spent time on that planet.

  7. abbersnail November 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    This is so heartbreaking, and all I can say is this: there is so much love headed in your direction, and it will keep coming. You are incredible, and amazing, and deserving of every good thing in the world.

    • Anna November 21, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

      Thank you. If there is one good thing that came out of this (and I don’t think that there is only one… I feel like he brought me many good things) it’s that I have met some amazing people and realized how much support I have from my friends and family.

  8. amourningmom November 25, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    I wish none of us had to live on Planet my baby died but I am right there with you. Thank you for sharing. Sending hope and hugs.

    • Anna November 25, 2012 at 5:41 pm #

      I’m with you. I wish I could empty this planet of people and just bring their babies back to them. it seems unfair that anyone should ever have to deal with something like this.

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