A lot of loss and sorrow are traveling around on the Internet this week, and a lot of hard questions are being asked. I don’t have any of the big answers. But in the course of things, I found some questions at Glow in the Woods that I felt I could handle.
Pray if you pray. Think good thoughts if you cannot pray — send good vibes. Walk if you can. Donate if you can. Just be a good friend if nothing else is left to you. Sit in silence for awhile. Hug your children. Hold someone.
1 | Give us a few words you would have used to describe your body, your health or your sense of physical vitality before the experience of babyloss—and a few that you’d use to describe it now.
I used to live through my skin, through my body. I felt very present in my physicality; I trusted my body. I was alive through the tips of my fingers. Losing a baby means losing, especially, the trust, the simple wonder of what a body — a woman’s body, my body — can do. Having other children can help recapture that, but it is not for everyone. My relationship now is different, whether because of age or loss or the need to accede to the demands of other bodies. I’m not entirely sure. I feel as if I live less through my skin, more through my thoughts. Maybe that’s maturity.
2 | What do you do to take care of yourself? Has this changed?
The biggest thing I try to make sure I do is get enough sleep. At times, this is challenging. I eat well. I used to exercise — and I want to start exercising again. I read, and I write, and I try to be by myself for a little bit. None of this has changed. Well, the sleep thing, probably. I used to be able to get by on much less.
3 | Give us one or two words to describe sex or physical intimacy before, and then after the loss of your baby.
Sex with my husband before Gabriel was carefree.
Sex with my husband after Gabriel was fraught. Did I want to be pregnant again? Did my husband want me to be pregnant again? What if our answers are different? Sometimes we cried.
Sex with my husband now is a pleasure, is our own intimacy, doesn’t happen enough. It’s still a little fraught. Will we try one more time?
4 | Has loss and/or grief left a physical mark on you (a scar, a chronic condition, insomnia, a tattoo)?
No. Nothing physical. Not yet. I have a tattoo in mind that I want to get, a series of glyphs to represent the members of my family. Gabriel will be an angel with a trumpet.
5 | Do you medicate or control your emotions with food, wine, altered states, prescriptions? Without judgement, what have you gravitated towards in an effort to heal, and how do you feel about it?
When I feel stressed, I want to smoke cigarettes. I haven’t quite managed to break this addiction, although I do go for long times without cigarettes. In an effort to heal, though, I don’t think I’ve “used” anything. In an effort to heal, I’ve tried to use my words and my voice.
6 | Was physical healing important for you in the first year after your loss? What did/does physical healing entail and how did/do you work towards it? If physicality hasn’t been a priority for you, what do you do that makes you feel stronger or more able to cope?
Is it odd to feel that I didn’t have to physically heal after Gabriel’s birth? Except for stopping my milk. That period after his death was summed up perfectly by the phrase “insult to injury”. But I had a low-trauma — physiologically — vaginal delivery.
Sleeping well and eating well (both challenging as a mother to young children) make me feel stronger and able to cope. The Internet community helps me examine my feelings about Gabriel, and about my girls. Having time to myself for myself gives me strength. Being both physically and emotionally intimate with my husband helps me.
7 | If you could change anything about your body and/or health, what would it be? What would it feel like to be either at peace with your body, or at peace with this babylost state.
I need to get back into shape. That would bring me more into peace with my body, which I still regard very fondly. I think I am at peace with my babylost state. Which is not to say I don’t grieve. I’ve come to accept Gabriel’s loss and the gifts that he brought us. Which is not to say that I’m not still sad, that I don’t cry. That I don’t miss him.
Because I do. I do.
the eggs our children
our womb their cradle
we hold them from our own
every potential life
a child lives there
for many of us for some time
if not the whole time
children die there too
our hearts die there
then the body goes on without us
bones settle home & we who have lost
did we have the baby?
did we hold life?
could this faithful body
have betrayed us, our hearts?
we do not believe
unless we are sad