Thursday, July 31, 2008

Every day

When I first installed a stat counter, I used to check it obsessively. This is how I knew, one day last year, that someone made their way here by looking for how to stop lactation after stillbirth.

I don't check all the time anymore. I don't even check every day. But every time that I do check, I see that several people end up here, on the post I wrote in response to that first search last year, by searching for various versions of lactation, stopping lactation, milk, stopping milk production, or any of the above with the addition of after miscarriage, or after stillbirth. A barrel of laughs, I tell you.

It's not that I don't know that babies die every day. I even know that in this country alone on an average day, more than one baby will die. But it's one thing to know that, abstractly. It is a whole other thing to have proof, even if only via the internet searches, that somewhere, for someone, it happened again. On a sunny day, or a cloudy one. During rush hour, or in the dead of night. Someone's world stopped. And they are one of us now.

That was one of the things I was thinking about Friday night, after I made the phone calls, but before either JD or my sister made it to the hospital. I thought I might end up having the baby that day or the next. I was hoping I could hold out for 48 hours, but not much beyond that. And what I was thinking about was the encouraging stuff the neonatalogist was saying, the encouraging statistics I knew for myself. I was thinking that this isn't likely to be a bad day for me, not likely to become a mine on my calendar. Not on mine. But on someone's, somewhere.

Earlier that very day there was a comment on the lactation post from a newly bereaved mom who had lost her baby just three days before. It was almost a compunction, when I first read the comment, to think back on what I was doing three days prior, to see it anew as the day someone else's life broke into the before and after.

Even more jarringly, as I walked from the garage to the hospital that day, enveloped in my own worry, something caught my eye. It took me a moment to process it, and by the time I did, the woman holding it was already past me. A memory box. She was holding a memory box. The same exact color they gave me for A.

I stopped. I was both glued in place and wanting to run to her. Only I wasn't sure which one she was-- there were four women walking together, friends or family I couldn't really tell. One held the memory box, another-- one of those plastic hospital bags they give you to move your possessions. Before they passed me I wasn't paying enough attention to know which one was still wearing maternity.

I stood there for a while trying to decide what to do. I wanted to go to her, to say what, I do not know. Certainly not that it would all be ok. Maybe just that I know, and I am sorry.

It honestly took a good bit of time for me to remember that I am pregnant, that I am visibly pregnant (or that I am at the hospital because of that very fact), and that, therefore, I might just be the very last person this mother would want to see right then.

It was somebody else's terrible day. Each day is somebody else's terrible day.


Today is the day, gestational age at which A died. Today is also eighteen months since he was born. I was thinking about both of those things all day. But I also knew, kept repeating to myself, that it was a day like any other, that my body and cord accidents do not know about calendars. It doesn't have to become my terrible day, anew. It didn't.

Except I am sure that it did. For someone else, somewhere.

PS. A few days ago, Tash wrote about this very topic-- the intersection of someone's happy and someone else's devastated. It's a beautiful post. Go read it.

On a somewhat related topic, I have a new post up at Glow in the Woods. It is also a bit about the time and space of grief.


luna said...

another beautiful post, julia. thinking of you today. and you're right. it's easy to forget that it could be someone's day every day.

and isn't it crazy how only you all know why I will never ever eat cooked cabbage again.

Amelie said...

This is beautiful, and heartbreaking. Thinking of you.

CLC said...

Thinking of you and A today. O hope the minutes go by quickly for you. It's seems rather naive of me, but I try not to think about any day being someone else's bad day. My heart breaks all over again every time I hear about a new Mom who becomes one of us because I know what a hard road they have in front of them. I wish we could tell them that membership is full.

Tash said...

Wow Julia, the scene in the garage left me with a lump in my throat.

It's always someone's bad day, isn't it. And I suppose knowledge of that tempers our good days considerably. Thinking of you this week, you and A.

niobe said...

I shouldn't be, but I'm always shocked when someone else's pregnancy goes wrong. Intellectually, I know the statistics. But emotionally, I just can't believe it's happening all over again.

Anonymous said...

I'm really glad you wrote this post. Thank you. I think about these things sometimes too. My terrible day is coming soon Labor Day, what a day to remember and get a kid ready for the start of school 2 days did I do it? no clue. but things are getting to me, upsetting me and I've been down, and until I read this I didn't put the two together. worrying about getting Anders ready for school will forever be linked with losing my baby, and this time I will feel this one kicking me reassuringly, at least I hope thats how it feels.

Thank you for always being real and true and posting from your heart.

Bon said...

those strange intersections of lives and time and dates...they play with my mind, and break my heart.

thinking of you, Julia...with all sorts of love and hope, this day especially.

and sorrowing, quietly, for the unknown people for whom this day will be That Day.

serenity said...

Thinking of you today.

Ashleigh said...

this is just haunting and beautiful.

thinking of you and A.

Casey said...

This is a beautiful post.

The day my younger daughter was born was the same day my friend lost her son. It's heartbreaking.

Magpie said...

Oh, hon.

So true about the "your good day is someone else's bad day". Alas.

G said...

I ended up here in blogland due to a search and ping of your blog and a few others.

Thinking of you.

kate said...

I am thinking of you and A.

Today, as i walked out of the bagel shop i passed by a woman and a ten-year old boy, eating their breakfast. "They make caskets in baby sizes," she explained to him.

Yes, they do.

mama o' the matrices said...


Anonymous said...

You've been very much on my mind.


~Beth (tigermoon)

janis said...

I've been thinking of you. And A and the little new life that we are all holding our breath to scream "Welcome!!" to... ...

That scene in the garage... it just got to me.

Now, I see every day as a mixed package- some good, some bad. Anytime I feel my life is shit, I remind myself that it is probably even more shit for someone else.

Snickollet said...

Thought of you yesterday, thought of you today, thinking of you and A and the baby to come, always.

Wabi said...

Sad and beautiful, Julia. Thinking of you and your whole family these days.

c. said...

I know I've said this before, but you are the reason I found this secret place, when a go0gle search turned up your blog in response to "engorgement and stillbirth."

I've never been more aware that everyday is somebody's bad day than the past few months when I have read blog after blog acknowleding one year anniversaries. I think back to that time and I was still oblivious then, untouched...but not for long. Everyday is indeed somebody's day.

This is all just so sad, so awful. Beautiful post, Julia.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to get here for two days, but it keeps telling me your blog was unavailable. Oh well, I got here now.

The terrible day for someone else does happen everyday. But on the flip side, there is always something good happening to someone else as well. I wish you lots of good days in the next while.

k@lakly said...

Oh Julia, I have been thinking about you and A and this new life waiting patiently to be born, despite all attempts by your body to hasten the arrival. I hope the rest has helped if not mentally than at least physically.
We share similar dates my nightmare began on the 31st and ended on the 1st, the beginning of the end or something like that, escept it wasn't the end, it never ends does it?
I'm sorry my comment is late in getting here, I thought i had posted before but I think I went over to Glow to read your other post and then got lost in trying to formulate a comment over there...that one hit deep, the words still haven't come.
Thinking of you and sending every postive vibe I can for a safe delivery into your arms of one beautiful, healthy baby.
P.S. Your credit card comment gave me the giggles, thanks for that I sure needed them:)

Busted said...

SO insightful. Sometimes I forget how common baby loss can be, and when I hear of someone else suffering stillbirth or neonatal loss, my heart stops at the sheer horror that there is someone out there feeling what I felt 4 months ago. And I wonder if anyone at the hospital saw me and was brought back as you were.

Alice said...

Thanks for your kind comment on my blog. I think what you've written here is lovely and true - but I also think that we spend far too much time labelling things good and bad. I can't explain what I mean really because, of course, some things are good and some bad. But some how letting go of those labels is the only way forward. Now I just try to think, 'So this is what is happening on this day' and leave the labels alone.

With love and thanks,


thrice said...

Awareness is painful. Thinking of you.

The Broken Man said...

I read someone's blog recently and she was talking about a website called "Now I lay me down to sleep"; an organisation which has photographers on standby to photograph still-born children, so that their parents have something to remember them by. I have been trying to decide whether to sign up as a photographer - just feel that as, after 4.5 years of infertility, my wife is now pregnant, I have to give something back....

The Broken Man

Jen said...

Hi Julia,
It's Jen again. The dates of our sons lives seem to match more than I realized. It's been awhile and I don't know if you remember, but my son died on the same day A died. I'm also pregnant again, on strict bedrest, and today in this baby's gestational age is the exact day that Will was born. Three weeks ago I went into the hospital not believing that I was having contractions at 21 weeks, but there I was with a dialated cervix and an amniotic sac pushing out. This time we caught it in time, and they were able to perform a circlage and send me home. Today has been an awful day, expecting the worst, hoping for the best. I have an idea of how you might feel.

Good luck to both of us! I'll be thinking about you and your family.

wannabe mom said...

i'm late in letting you know that i've been thinking of you, always thinking of you and your family.