I’m going through some stress in my life so if I am not online as much right now, it’s because I’m dealing with it. It’s taken me a while to try put together enough of a coherent thought, because it’s simpler to try distract myself with other things. I will be fine; eventually.
Warning: I talk about abortion, morals, and loss here, so if you think you can’t handle that, for whatever reason (whether it is triggering to your own loss; you feel it might be judgemental of choice – and it will be, because this is an opinion column – or simply because you don’t want to read about abortion) that’s fine; don’t click the read more as I have put this behind a blog cut. If you do, however, you don’t get to be offended about my opinions.
This is, however, from the perspective of a woman who has lost two babies of her own, through stillbirth and SIDs. This is not a religious opinion either, but a purely factually scientific one which is admittedly against abortion.
Recently I watched two sci-fi movies that I deeply enjoyed; Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale, and the live action version of Ghost In The Shell starring Scarlett Johansson. Despite vastly differing source material, they touched on related themes. Memory – or what is perceived as memory, also played heavily in the movie The Arrival. All of these were excellent movies that I highly recommend watching, as they both entertain and, for me, are incredibly good science fiction stories, full stop. Speaking of stopping, if you haven’t seen these, you’d probably want to stop here.
(Spoilers abound, you’re forewarned.)
Today my baby Brandon would’ve been two years old. I think he would have been having a fun time today; though perhaps his birthday would’ve been much quieter than Vincent’s party a few days ago.
We gave him his presents – a toy tank and a toy helicopter, and his Grammy and Grampy sent a hand made card.
Rhys and I spent a little time reminiscing fondly about his birth, and a few delightful memories. I wonder about how he and Damien would’ve been like now, but that happens a lot. Perhaps his hair would have been gently curling, like his eldest brother’s was. We still can’t imagine him smiling, however, as he was a baby with a rather impressive scowl. I think Damien would have been the plague to him at the same time being a favourite playmate.
What could have been…
Yesterday was weird. I woke up thinking it was Wednesday (and it wasn’t it was Tuesday, but when I woke up I didn’t know that.)
I woke up and thought about the dinner specials a pub we go to has, and looked up the pub’s menu, and let Rhys know it was one of the specials we like to take advantage of for our date nights. These Date Nights aren’t fancy; we go to the pub, have dinner out, come home after a lovely meal. Continue reading
I’m very short. This is something I regularly make fun of. Four years ago, I measured four feet, 8 and a half (or three quarters) tall. I’ve shrunk since then by maybe an inch, or two. (This was discovered over measuring my height with each subsequent pregnancy.) We’re not sure why I’ve shrunk. I just have. I tease my husband Rhys that I’ll be pocketsized by the time I’m sixty. David teases me about my height and eating like a bird. (Though, now that we have a pet parrot, Riley, he is starting to revise the opinion about ‘eat like a bird.’)
This is going to be one of those posts on my grieving, so I’ll pop it behind a cut; not because I’m censoring myself, but rather I know that grief and mourning – especially of a parent mourning the loss of children – is really hard to read.
Besides the comment above, which was written on Vox Popoli (the post being a topic-related jump off from Jerry Pournelle’s) the other reason why I bought the book was because, as I leafed through it, this passage caught my eye:
The other big disadvantage involved public perception. No matter what you did as a Kennedy or a Shriver, no one gave you credit for your accomplishment. Instead, people would say, “Well if I were a Kennedy, I could do that too.” For all these reasons, Maria had to fight harder than most people to carve out her own identity.
While nowhere near the level of Maria Shriver, I can relate to that. People frankly expected grand things from me, upon finding out I was Antonio Modena’s daughter. “Oh, so are you going into journalism, like your father in his youth, or going straight for the DFA?” (The Department of Foreign Affairs.) To this day I still feel a little twinge of guilt that I didn’t do any of that, even if my father never urged me toward those careers and was keen to have me forge my own path through the jungle of life. Arnold’s straightforward, little paragraph brought that back for me.
I was also keen to read what he had to tell about what life was like for him, being born on the heels of World War II. I don’t think I’m going to be in the least bit disappointed with this, or bored.
I’ll admit that I find biographies a bit hard to read. I’m not sure why, since I enjoy hearing what my family calls people stories, but biographies tend to feel rather flat to me, when read. But Arnold’s autobiography, when I leafed through it, is thoroughly readable, and I can even hear it in his voice. The narration even sounds like how he talks, and it’s …relate-able, as if you’re listening to the man himself talk.
If Keanu Reeves came out with an autobiography, I’d actually like to read that too. That man has had a completely relate-able experience of loss and tragedy, and he seems to come out of it scarred but intact. I’d like to know what he did, to hang on to his sanity, how he was able to make it through each day.
Life’s recent rather severe stresses seems to have taken a very huge chunk of my own ability to deal with the setbacks in day to day experiences. I don’t like this, because of how it cripples my ability to think. Rhys, because he’s been deployed, got the ‘things you watch out for’ and reckons I’m suffering from PTSD. It’s pretty severe, since a lot of the time I have nightmares and flashbacks to the horrible day that I woke up to discover Brandon had died in his crib while we both napped, or the day that we lost Damien to stillbirth.
I’m sure some fool with a brain riddled with more maggot than brain matter out there will read the above and translate it as ‘she’s saying she’s just like Keanu Reeves, because Keanu Reeves lost a baby to stillbirth’ or ‘she’s saying she’s had it worse than Keanu Reeves because she lost a baby to stillbirth AND SIDS.’ Fuck you. Losing children isn’t ‘fun,’ and it’s not what any real parent would want to have as a Victim Olympics competition. (Unless, obviously, the ‘parent’ in question is a self-centered, self absorbed virtue-signaling SJW. Those idiots seem to WANT tragedy, so they can milk it for attention and victimbux. Healthy human beings would not trade a the life of a child for attention and pity money.)
But I am not a leftist social justice wanker. I’m not a CHORF.
It’s a normal human reaction to want to know how someone else who has survived a similar experience did to survive. It’s normal to think “This person made it through, so I have a chance of making it through this.”
Well, normal, that is, for those who want to live, want to survive, to grab on and climb out of the pit of despair that circumstance has thrown them into, to refuse to be identified solely by the tragedies of their life. While losing my children has deeply scarred me in ways I have no words to express, and that pain on some days is all I can feel, I am not defined by that loss. It is the awareness of being wounded, and that I can choose to want to heal by doing what will bring that healing in time, or cripple myself, in body, mind and soul.
That choice makes the difference between someone like Stephen Hawking, or the invalid.
Jerry Pournelle’s post also included talking about backing up one’s data, and improved ransomware. I am very grateful, once again, to have made such a wonderful friend like Aff. Thanks to him, our network is safe and continues to remain so. I asked him about the improved ransomware and he said that our network is not vulnerable to such.
I sometimes get asked how I manage to ‘still have faith’, when really, the fact is, as hard as my life has been, I still have many, many blessings. I met Rhys, without whom I would have far less reasons to live. He and I have wonderful, caring children, who are surviving the hardships of the past few years with better I met Aff, who has become an important part of Rhys’ and my family, and cares for our children like they were his nephews and niece, and makes sure they’re safe online. I was blessed with friends who encourage me to write, to continue my art, learn things with and share joy with.
There are things to smile about, despite all the sad things that have happened to us, somehow.
Rhys brought me back a magazine from the grocery; and just leafing through it makes me kinda hungry. I think I’ll make sweet and sour fish tonight, because of it.
Aff says that his mother rung up because she was told that he had passed away. There are, apparently, more than two or three people with his name in Australia. We joked a bit about that, that he is now a ghost in the machine, a zombie admin, and so on.
18th of January, 2015, Rhys and I had Brandon born by C-section. I still remember how he was lifted up, and he paused for a whole second before beginning to cry. It was a displeased cry, complaining, clearly communicating how unhappy he was that he’d been removed from his nice comfortable and warm womb, to this brightly lit strange place. Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?!
He was tiny, so tiny. And unlike the warnings of the prenatal ward head doctor, he was a perfect, chubby little baby boy, and not thin and skeletal. He was cute, so adorable and cute, with a thick head of black hair.
He was clearly opinionated, and not afraid of letting people know what those opinions were. Those opinions were often negative; and in disagreement with the establishment. When he was brought up to special care, the doctor decided to give him a small amount of milk; not a full feed for his size. Brandon gulped down that little bit, then when no more milk was forthcoming, exercised his lungs and showed that this was not acceptable!
The doctor quickly changed his mind and had him given a full 35 ml feed.
Brandon definitely did not like being pulled from Mummy in the afternoons, to allow her to sleep for a couple of hours. He didn’t like being put up against his father’s prickly stubble, or bumping his head against Daddy’s collarbone. At first, when he felt this had become unbearable, he would suck in all the oxygen his little lungs could manage and then let out a long, enraged howl, which he would continue to do until he ran out of breath, gave a little cough, and then slump against his father’s shoulder, dizzy from lack of breath, followed with an expression that said ‘fuck it’.
I remember how I had to hurriedly put him down in the center of the bed one afternoon, because I desperately needed the loo. Brandon did NOT like that! He began to let the household know how he’d been so crassly and CRUELLY abandoned! 15 seconds later, Uncle Aff came into the room, to see what was up, and picked him up. Brandon immediately began to complain to him, telling on Mum’s being so unfeeling and not finding a way to take baby with her while she had to go pee!
I heard the unhappy baby talk ‘wa wa wa ma wa wa wa ma ma waaah’ and came out to see a very amazed Aff holding Brandon in his hands. “It’s like he’s trying to communicate!”
“He is,” I said. “He’s telling on me.”
We wanted to know what Brandon’d say, once he started to talk, but we never got the chance because he passed away in his sleep when he was 11 weeks old. We didn’t expect that the only photos and videos we had would be all we’d have to last us our lifetime. That what time we had with him was all we were going to have. All the memories.
Most of the photos we have show him scowling. Except in his sleep; he’d smile occasionally there; and Aff got a photo where Brandon’s sleepily smiling at the camera. The one time we saw him give a happy baby smile was while he was on skype video with Aff’s dad. Yep, the gummy happy smile with legs and arms wiggle.
Even so, all those photos we got showed that there was going to be a very fascinating personality in bloom. We got raised Spock-eyebrows, disapproving expressions, scowls, frowns, and ‘wtf are you doing?’ looks. On an infant. Yeah, it was going to be fun raising that little boy, we said. It’s going to be fun, interesting, hilarious, once he started talking. We bet that his first word would be ‘no.’
All we have are dreams of what if, and what might have been.
Even if that’s all we had, we wouldn’t have traded him, or the chance to know him. Brandon was a treasure. We enjoyed having him with us, loved having him with us, loved him. The thing we regret is that he’s gone, and we wouldn’t have the opportunity to keep experiencing what he’d show us of him as he grew. That we wouldn’t have fun with him any more.
Brandon died quietly, peacefully, and left a huge hole in our lives, in our hearts.
Yesterday, he would have been a year old.
Happy Birthday, grumpy thing. We miss you.
I’m going to be talking about grief after losing a second baby, medication, and how I feel. FLEE WHILE YOU CAN.
Our son Damien had his birthday on the 5th of September. As he was also stillborn, it also counts as his death day. He would have been two years old.
You did not breathe, you did not cry
Not once did I
Get to hear the sound of your voice
This is not the choice
Not the dream I had for you, not my wish
If I could I would change this
In my womb,before birth
Before you came out to this earth
You closed your eyes, went to sleep
And to God went your soul to keep
How quiet was the birthing room
When finally you slipped out of the womb.
As our tears your face wash
our dreams for you turn to ash
So beautiful and peaceful in your eternal dreams
While we work through what this means
Broken parents’ hearts and the pain
of life without you until we meet again.
We imagine what could have been
The things you might have seen
the man you could never become
the future made more profound
by never being
You cannot speak, you never laughed
never cooed, never asked
for your favorite story, or for favorite food
never threw a tantrum or pouted in a mood
Not to have you is no reprieve
for your parents who only grieve.
So all our dreams for you we find
only broken wishes left in the mind
The empty crib and baby toys
symbolize lost joys
Of the life you could have had
If your birth-day had not been sad.
For us,your parents, the sorrow
Will be with us every day and tomorrow
The you-shaped hole in our heart
bleeds till the day we are no longer apart.
This came in the mail today.
A bit of a backstory here. I remember telling Kate Paulk (and probably the Huns and whoever else got the baby pic mails) while Brandon was still in the hospital that we were trying to come up with a stuffed toy for him. Aff had suggested a tribble, before the little dinosaur nickname had stuck (that’s how early this was!) and I mentioned wanting to order one from Thinkgeek.
Rhys and I lost our baby boy to SUIDs (as far as we know so far) nearly two months ago; and he was only two and a half months old. So I mentioned to Kate (…vaguely. I have a hazy memory) that it would be nice if the tribbles came back in stock so I could ‘send’ one along with Brandon on his cremation. (Don’t worry; he had a teddy bear from his paternal grandparents, and a little stegosaurus cuddly from Mummy and Daddy.) Kate passed this on to the folks who wanted to do something for us / the kids / Brandon; and one of the folks from the Facebook discussions said he’d try to find one in Sydneycon, and swore he’d get one for me if he did.
Well, Aussies are awesome and stubborn folk and while he didn’t find one in Sydneycon, he did find one eventually and sent it. Purrsistence is not futile!
Thank you, Tim, for the Genetically Altered Tribble, hereby named Genni. It will ride on top of Emily the Emu as she perches next to Brandon’s urn. Thank you for caring so much for my boy, and for making me smile today. You are wonderful! People like you are blessings, and I am grateful to have, in this small way, met you.
We got Brandon’s ashes back yesterday afternoon.
We cleaned up a spot for him, since his urn is actually kinda big and so he couldn’t sit in the same shelf top as Damien. I’d like to have a proper altar someday.
Rhys took the crib apart today. He moved my rocking chair into that spot. He hasn’t taken apart the bassinet.
It has been exactly a month since our youngest baby died and I can’t stop hurting.
I need to get away from this now before I smash very expensive computer equipment that costs probably in the realm of ten thousand dollars or more to replace.
There will always be a hole in our lives where he used to be, but he won’t be forgotten.
We bid another son goodbye on Thursday, and I’m finally numb enough that I can write a little about it.
I asked for photos of the flower arrangements. We kept the little blue teddy bear. I cried as Rhys and I gave Brandon a last cuddle. After a while – an eternity that felt like it went by too quickly – we tucked him into the last little box he’ll ever sleep in.
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We now return you to the blogpost proper. – Aff
Beware. Rambly post ahead.
Grief, from where I stand, never plays out the way they portray in the movies.