Thursday, July 30, 2009

Anniversaries

This week's blog post is written by Cynthia Prest, leader of the Madison, WI Share group. Cynthia has experienced six pregnancy losses and has one living son. She started a blog, My Yellow Brick Road has Potholes to chronicle her journey. Cynthia will be a regular contributor to Share Your Thoughts.

Anniversaries are best spent celebrating happy days – the day you met the love of your life, your wedding day, the day you graduated school, the day you began your sobriety. How do you mark the occasion of a baby who was never born?

Do you mark the day you found out the baby died? Do you consider the day on the calendar that the baby came out of you? What about the due date? Some of my babies miscarried naturally, while others were taken out the day I found out or several days later. Which date do I commemorate? I have struggled with this for six years. The only date that has ever felt significant to me was the date I found out the baby had died. So, here they are, documented in order and all together for the first time.

July 29
January 5
October 10
July 18
November 30
March 13

I don’t know what to do with these dates. The first anniversary of the death of my first child, I bought myself sunflowers. I thought that would be a nice tradition to start. I never did it again after that, and I’ve not done anything for the other dates either. Nothing ever felt right or like it would be enough. Then, there were so many that it became overwhelming. So, the dates pass with no fanfare, no cards, no flowers, no acknowledgment that my children ever existed. This brings me a tremendous amount of pain.

I decided after my son was born that since I was done having miscarriages I could have a piece of jewelry to mark their lives. I love to pick up a piece of jewelry whenever I travel somewhere, and all my jewelry (no matter how little the cost) has significant emotional value to me. So, jewelry it would be. I customized a necklace with the birthstones of the months of the three babies. I used the months I found out they died. Even though I had my son at that point, I was nervous to create this, wondering if it would cause me bad luck. What would I do if I had any more miscarriages? Of course, I did have three more miscarriages several years later. It’s hard for me now to wear that necklace. This necklace that I love so much sits in my jewelry box. I understand that it celebrates my first three children, but somehow it feels wrong that it’s not all of them. Unfortunately, since it’s custom made, the jewelry company can’t add stones to it now. I can only wear it on days that I’m strong enough to accept that wearing it doesn’t mean I’m not acknowledging my other children.

I finally decided some time ago (I think after the fourth baby died), that I needed to do something else to commemorate my children. I’ve heard a lot of ideas – planting a tree, putting a marker in Share’s Angel Garden, making a scrapbook. I decided to have large stones engraved with the dates and the gender (if I knew it) to place in my garden. I knew we’d be moving from our current house, so I wanted to wait until I knew the space they’d be going into at the new house before doing so. I thought having a memorial service with family and friends to lay the stones would be a nice way to celebrate their lives. We haven’t moved yet, so I’m still waiting. I think about these stones all the time – how big should the stones be, should I have a picture on them, the bench I should have placed next to them, what will they look like planted all together, whether they will bring me any peace. It gives me something to look forward to. It’s painful to not have a place where my babies are buried, to not have had a ceremony or an obituary marking their lives. It’s as if they never existed. They reside only in my heart, and that has to be enough.

4 comments:

Rose said...

Cynthia, I love this post. You address so many things that I think so many people think/worry about. I know I have myself. Often. I too have lots of dates/months that are significant and have wondered if I should commemorate the dates I found out I was pregnant, the dates I miscarried, or the due dates.

As time has gone by, I have pretty much forgotten the exact dates of the miscarriages because like you, the date I found out the baby was gone wasn't necessarily the date the baby came out of me. I tend to remember time frames more...Labor Day weekend, New Years, etc. Although I do still remember each of their due dates.

It's just too much to think about all of the meaningful dates, isn't it? Your stones sound like a lovely way to honor all of your babies, and I hope you can have them soon.

Salma said...

hubby and I never focused too much on dates, but think this will all change when the one year mark comes around for us (next June).

It is me who continues to put off "remembering". Sure, I blog about it, but I have put away the pictures and won't commit to showing any kind of remembrance inside the house, ie,hubby wants a small table set up with baby's things...i can't do it.

Hopefully within a year I can say that this has changed.

Cynthia- i know what you mean about it being like they never existed...but there is a tug of war for me. Honestly, miscarriages have never been a thought to me until now...I was sad when I had a loss due to one, but I felt no one cared. On the other hand having a grave to visit(I have not visited where my son's buried)it is that much painful for me to go and not be able to take him home with me.

I'm glad you posted this.

Gina said...

It is something so difficult and unless you have been through it it is very difficult to understand. I recently passed my due date (June 4th) and that was difficult, but was more difficult for me was the fact that barely anyone acknowledged it. I had a friend or two that did, but not many.

I don't know what will happen when I get to the anniversary of my loss. I will always remember, January 2nd. I was admitted to the hospital and the baby was fine and I went into preterm labor.

I wanted something so desperately that I could have and hold onto to remember my daughter. I found a necklace it is a twisted circle and it is engraved with the quote "At one glance I loved you with a thousand hearts" I saw it and knew that it was perfect and I have worn it just about every day since. There are days when I think about not wearing it and putting on another piece of jewelry, but I have a tough time with it. I just like having something tangible, I know she is always with me, but Sometimes I find myself just running my fingers on the circle and I don't even realize I am doing it at first.

Thanks for the post

The Garners said...

I do remember my baby's date August 28, there are details I do not always remember though, that is why I began journaling after my loss. I wrote down everything I could remember from the hospital, everything I remember from her funeral, all my thoughts and feelings. I love to go back and see how far I've come, and just have a good cry. Whenever I am feeling sad or missing my sweet Bailey I turn to my journal and write down all my feelings. I find this very therapeutic.
I also love to find poems and angel statues to remember her by. I have made a scrap book for her, and have pictures of her up all over my home. I know i am very fortunate to have so much to remember her by, I've been hearing her name a lot lately, and I know every time I do she is thinking of me too.

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