Sunday, December 6, 2009


I had a terrible day of snapping bitchiness and impatience. It was snowing here. The Christmas music was echoing through the house. It is the formula for my happiness, and yet: The dog. The kid. The husband. Lack of sleep. Dust bunnies. Things dropped and broken. Being smacked across the face with a stuffed tiger. I  could not manage that "Up With People" kind of attitude you need with toddlers, so I put my apron on and made her some cookies, just to, you know, buy her love with chocolate. Maybe a little. Beatrice asked to help, and for a while, that worked. We stayed present and focused on Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies. (They really are good.) But after the last batch began cooling on the rack, I barked at the dog and girl for being underfoot and wrestling in the kitchen and sent them both for naps, muttering cusses under my breath.

This year has left me absolutely unsure of my ability to be a decent friend, good mother, and adoring wife. I'm not even sure I can be a good me anymore. I went into my corner and licked wounds this year when I could not be generous with my listening and with my spirit, but somehow, I just never fully came out of the corner. About June, I began feeling friends become less and less patient with my grief, my sadness and my sensitivity. Maybe it is that their defenses went down and they were ready for the old Angie, though my heart was still raw. Or perhaps it is just that I began telling people my truth, and I seemed too impossibly hard to read, or deal with. Somehow things haven't really recovered. I read blog posts about women talking about girl's nights, or getting together with friends, and I don't even know of anyone I could or would call anymore. I am simply a vessel now. A vessel for emotions. A vessel for babies. A vessel for grief.

Early in this journey, someone said to me that I would "feel" Lucy all around me. "Just wait, you will. Lucy is everywhere." It made me angry to hear that then, and I almost rejected this community wholeheartedly because of it, as though they knew this supernatural essence of my baby when I didn't. I miss not knowing her soul or her spirit. I miss not feeling her aliveness enter a room.  I still haven't felt her. Not the ghost of her, not the memory of her. I feel like I even fail in being a dead baby mama when all these women feel their babies or see them everywhere. I can't imagine Lucy as anything but what she was and is now--dead. I am somehow incapable of visualizing her, or conjuring an imaginary future for her.  I can't even imagine her smiling, because she never breathed and I never saw her face move. I conjure her in symbols, but can't even develop a mythology elaborate enough to make her responsible for the symbol I created. I pretend for a day or two, then abandon the endeavor to poetry and allusions.

I stopped looking at my pictures of Lucy. Not because it hurts, or reminds me of what I have lost, but simply because she looks dead to me now. I am disgusted with my inability to be a proper mother to Lucy. I used to will people to say her name. I wanted to speak it aloud right next to the phrase, "My daughter." I wanted to write it across the sky in big loopy letters. I wanted to be asked the questions about myself, so I could tell my story. Now, when people speak of my daughter, I recoil. Everyone seems to know her better than I ever did. They imagine her, what this one year old little stranger would be doing. And I just hold a dead baby lost amongst disturbing nightmares and fearful realities. There is a sinking resignation in the complexities of having to talk about Lucy. I didn't just lose a daughter. I lost everything, except the facade of our life. Last year, I was exactly right here, sitting on this couch pregnant, yet things couldn't be more different.

This past week or so, I have been writing my depression, my anxiety, my insomniatic inarticulations and self-pitying rants on this blog. And the emails have been coming in, "Are you okay?"

I am okay. Nothing has changed, sadly. Nothing. Has. Changed. I have no insight. No enlightenment. No deep knowledge or insight into the universe. My daughter is still impossibly dead. I am still waiting for results and answers about this new baby. My other stuff is still there, the same as last week, and the week before, and the month before, but I'm just exhausted and overwhelmed. Everyday I pull it together for the life and joy of a two year old girl who needs a whole mother. I simply have nothing else left. This past week, we remembered my father-in-law on the one year anniversary of his death. (God, we miss him around here.) There is a distinctive pallor of grief around both Sam and I, and the bubble of ignorant bliss around the girl. When we cry, she still wants milkie. We just miss our people and our feeling of safety. I sometimes just want everything else to pause, so I can go have a good cry somewhere, and a night where I fall asleep easily with no nightmares, or interruptions of oppressive anxiety and grief. It is the same as everyone else in the community of sad people. It is just another in a series of bad days.

In two weeks,  we remember the day that Lucy died and then we remember the day she was born.  I don't really know what to do for Lucy's day. Part of me wants to do some elaborate ritual, and the other part wants to treat it like every day when I ache for her and miss her, but manage to exist without reliving the trauma, grief and pain of that day by immersing myself in snips of her hair, her pictures, her footprints on a piece of paper in a box. There is no ritual to commemorate the death and birth of your child. I crave something automatic and unthinking. All the creativity of trying to discern where I will be emotionally on that day seems too impossibly cruel. I just want to kneel. Stand. Sit. Stand. Cross. Sit. Stand. Shake hands. Cry. My children have given my life a deep sense of meaning and essence. In Lucy's birth, I gained a sense of God and lost my faith in the same moment. How can someone so beautiful be so dead?

What kind of cake do you bake for that?


  1. angie... i'm sorry. i can't imagine how hard things are right now. i'm thinking of you every single day.

    and i have had some of those thoughts too. and i have felt that thing. and that one too. it sucks.

    there is no right way to be a dead baby mama. you are a good mama, to all your children. xo

  2. Oh Angie. I just want to wrap you up in a big "I get you completely" hug and cry with you. It's insufficient, but I am sending you huge love here.

  3. Oh, boy, I get it. Yes and yes and yes. Just yesterday, I realized that I used to have female friends IRL. It was like coming out of a bout of amnesia and realizing something totally implausible about yourself, like that you are a ctually a senator from Wyoming.

    Every bit of hope and fortitude I've got is headed your way this week.

  4. This may come out incredibly cranky, but I hope you will understand what I am trying to say.

    This. This is precisely why it chafes my hide so much when people generalize things that work for themselves onto other DBMs. And the worst part of it is that sometimes what I want to say to other DBMs is exactly what I want to say to the clueless masses out there, the ones who talk out of their asses and are too afraid of looking at what we live with each day to get over themselves and abide. Things like actually, no, I have no idea what he would've wanted me to do or be, or what he would say about this or that. And neither do you. He was a baby. Or I don't have to learn a damn thing from this. This was not a lesson or a growth opportunity. It was a shitty set of circumstances. And it cost my son his life. He is not a bit player, and I won't trivialize him by talking about all the good that came of it.

    See? Cran-ky. But the point is, canonizing our own path is one of the worst things we can do to each other. We share some very important things, some central understandings, but we are not clones. There is no manual. There is no right way. There is no more grace in being able to honestly say that one feels her child everywhere than in equally honestly saying that one has not a clue where or in what form her child is these days, or, you know, in saying that memories and love is all that remains of one's child.

    And I am so sorry about the lack of understanding and sensitivity from the people around you. I've dealt with some of that too. In my case, it mostly came this last year. And I am finding myself holding on to these things now, guarding myself with the people in question.

    And if this helps at all... the first year I planned nothing. Nothing at all. Except I was going to light a candle. And we went with the flow, with what we felt like doing. It was hard, but I think the not planning helped.

    These are tough days. I am sorry. Please please please give yourself permission to get through them any way you need to. Please.

  5. Oh Angie, yes, yes and yes. The rawness is still there, I don't think that any amount of time will actually make it ever go away. I miss my old self too, and I don't think she's ever fully coming back.

  6. angie...i can relate to so much here. i don't feel lev either, my mil just asked me 'well don't you feel him around you' 'no!'. and it is so hard for me when other dbms make me feel like i'm not doing it right or am not as connected to my baby.

    i can count my friends on a few fingers and most of the time i'd rather just be alone these days. how i wish we could have tea and a good cry together.

    on lev's one year we had no plans either...i dreaded the day and also knew nothing could compare to the nightmare i'd already experienced. it is all just too shitty. sending you so much love. be gentle with yourself.


  7. Just hugs to you. It sucks. It just does. Facade of life, pallor of grief, impossible to plan rituals. Yes. Get it. With you totally.

    Best I manage most of the time is attempts to be gentle with myself. When I notice lots of "woulda, coulda, shoulda" going on, just try to muster a, "oh yeah, the gremlins" and get back to being gentle. And I scream at the ocean a lot.

    We haven't really planned any of Kota's days for years now. It's too hard to know what the day will bring. We try to leave it as open ended as possible and role with it as it comes.

    Creeper Anger. Like a layer of messy energy that runs just under the surface of my skin. Anyone or anything bumps me just so, and BAM! Out it bursts, through my very skin, splattered all over everyone and everything. Not very Zen of me. But real. Some days are just like that now. Absurd. A body of the absurd.

    Just sending hugs to you and doing lots of ocean screaming for you...

  8. Oh Angie, I get it. When I hear (or read) other people say they feel their baby's presence, or they got some type of sign from their baby I am always jealous in a away. I do not feel my girls' presence and I wonder what I am doing wrong. Why can't I sense them, but others can sense their babies? It alomost makes me feel inadequate as their mother. I am sorry you are having some dark days, I hope you are able to find some light in the days ahead. xx

  9. Oh Angie - you are facing such a lot all at once. When I think about my connection to Emma, I suppose it's a *fact* now. She is my daughter, she is missed, I love her but those things are hard facts. It is very hard for me to conjure up a tangible emotional response to go with them.

    The most useful thing our counsellor ever said to us was to get rid of the idea of "should" from our process of grieving. Just because someone else feels one way doesn't mean that I should.

    With that in mind, we planned a handful of different things that we might want to do for her day but we both released each other from the obligation to feel as though we *should* do any of them.

  10. I get it. I get you. I wish I had some insight for you, but I don't. I'm just another babylost mama trying to find her way in this world without her precious daughter. Thank you for such a beautiful post, expressing exactly how I feel, but could not put into such eloquent qords.

  11. I hear you my friend. Loud and clear. Miss you lots but glad to know you are ok. As ok as can be expected anyway. Always here for you.
    So much love coming your way across the ocean.

  12. I am inpatient with the dog and the cat now too - must be me; not them.

    For the first 'anniversary', Triple S baked a very simple cake and decorated with fruit pieces int he shape of a butterfly. Low key, no candles on the cake. Don't know what will happen next February. I kind of like not having a plan, just doing what feels right when the feeling strikes.

    And, yes, our world has been rocked. Nothing feels the same and there is no going back.


  13. I baked a cake because I did not know what else to do. I felt like I had to do something, and it seemed silly doing it, but it was cathartic at the same time. I think I'll do it again this year.

    The first anniversary seems so important, at least it did for me. I think I naively thought I would feel better if I could just make it through, to Dec. 15th per se. I did feel some sense of relief when it was over, but I didn't feel "better". Go with the flow for that day. I let myself go through the memory box and all the cards, just to give myself the opportunity to really really cry. And I did ALOT. But you are right in pointing out that every day without Lucy is painful, so why make a big deal out of one date?
    Thinking of you Angie...sending you a big virtual hug too!

  14. I think, sometimes, being here in db land can be a double edged sword. Sometimes it is TOO much information. You can't do this, this life after, in any way but your way. Don't put pressure on yourself to do anything, in any way, because that is what youread other moms doing.
    We all have each other to lean on but we don't have to mimic each other in our grief.
    If it makes you feel any better, I feel so little connection to Caleb, as I just posted, he is just this void to me. I take NO comfort in trying to imagine what he might be like now. To me he is just a tiny, helpless, dead baby. And I have NO idea to parent him.
    And the first anniversary came upon me like an insult. It didn't feel worse or anything, it just felt like another day that he was gone. I was almost relieved to have it behind me because the pressure of having to "DO" something was awful.
    So just a really long way of saying, go easy on yourself. There is no one way to do this, only your way. Let yourself just be. And if something feels right, then go with it. If it doesn't, screw it.
    Sitting quietly with you. And expecting absolutely nothing. Just wishing you peace.

  15. The days and weeks before the 1 year mark seemed horribly draining and rough. It seemed much worse than the actual day.

    Oh Angie, I know these days, this life. Bigs hugs to you.

  16. oh angie. i wish i can wave a magic wand over your head and make it all better.

    know that i am one who barely senses silas ever. when i see hawks i think i feel his presence kind of but i may be making it up to make me feel better for not seeing or feeling him all the time. i was also told that in order to feel the spirit of him, i need to accept that he is no longer the physical being. which i totally get, but maybe we're not ready to give all that up yet.

    anyway, wish we could have another girls weekend, they really are so comforting and needed. i wish i could come down and hang with you and bake cookies.

    sending you love and virtual hugs

  17. Well, Julia beat me to it. I once told a DBM who wrote about a message from her dead baby to please tell her kid if they ran into Maddy to tell her to PLEASE SPEAK THE HELL UP. I don't hear voices, I don't get signs, I didn't get a purpose or a message. And it took me a while not to care, and to realize that wasn't how I personally was going to integrate this story into my life in a meaningful way. I don't need that stuff in order for Maddy to have importance (and I'm going to stress here, good and bad importance). I also no longer visualize her, though I did for a few months. She wasn't meant to live, so I don't see her as any other way other than a baby hooked up on stuff who never opened her eyes. I don't even go through the whole "she'd be (x) old by now" because no, she died.

    The whole first year I was in a coma. I can't remember a fucking thing about mothering Bella -- not a thing. That year got sucked up. I know we potty trained her, but I couldn't tell you how, how long, what worked. We didn't take many pictures of her, I have no idea what milestones she reached, I really have no searing memories of her that year. I functioned. I fed her and clothed her, and you know? She's fine. She's more than fine. The second year, and it sounds like this may be happening to you now, the numbness wears off, and it's where for me things became vivid -- and sometimes painful, sometimes clear, sometimes ugly, sometimes ok.

    Do what you need to do to get through the rest of the month and her day because whatever you decide, it will be absolutely perfect and what you (and Lucy, and your family) need right now.

  18. Oh, Angie. I hear you. Thinking of you as December moves forward.

  19. Just thinking of you, Angie. I'm sorry things are feeling so overwhelming right now. You are dealing with a lot, all at once. I'm here, abiding with you and sending love.

  20. Angie, I am so sorry, and I understand. You said " I can't imagine Lucy as anything but what she was and is now--dead." and my heart broke for you. I don't know why it is that I find Peyton all around me, I often wonder if she is there at all, or just my desperate attempts at feeling her, although, to be honest, even in the spirit sense, I have felt her slipping away, and as she slips, the grief comes calling. Maybe you had a deeper understanding with Lucy. Or maybe you are just stronger, and less full of false hope and ridiculous attempts at making symbols out of nothing than I am. Truth be told, feeling your child, or not, it still hurts. It all hurts. It is this ridiculous sh*tty pit to be in. No momma should be without her child. I hate that you know this loss. I hate that I know this loss. I hate that this loss exists.
    I know that when I was facing the one year mark with Peyton, the anticipation leading up to her birthday was hellish. I would cry and wail and beg like it was the first week after her death all over again. That one year, thinking of what a one year old Peyton would be doing, it was a totally unique grief in and of itself. Then the day came, and for reasons I will never understand, the day was not as bad as the lead up to the day. I pray that you feel some peace on Lucy's day. I know that whatever you do to honor her, whether simple or elaborate, whether a ritual with many people, or simply shedding tears alone in your room, it is the right thing. Sending you much love and remembering your sweet Lucy with you always, but especially these next few weeks.

  21. I hear you, Angie. Holding you close this month. xo

  22. how can someone be so beautiful and so dead?


    i dont know how. i have no flipping idea how. but somehow, they are.

    my answer to your last question.

    a pink one.


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