Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday's at Grandmas: An Aunt's Perspective

Coping Mechanisms and an Irish Blessing--From Nora's Awesome Aunt Kristi

I have many ways that I cope with the horrible situation my family has endured.  One way is through avoidance; pushing my desperate sadness to the deepest nooks and crannies of my brain, only allowing it to surface when I am too overwhelmed to keep it at bay any longer.  Another way is through giving my grief a horrible inappropriate cynicism and sarcasm lens when I am speaking with my husband or alone with my thoughts.  I also get angry, resentful, negative.  Sometimes I am able to channel my grief into productivity (often when I think about how much worse my sister and her husband must feel).

But other times I cope by imagining.  I don't imagine that Nora is here, because she's not, but I imagine that there is an alternate universe where everything had gone according to plan.  I often use this mechanism when I am deeply, deeply sad about the situation and need to have a ray of sunshine to give me hope.

This alternate universe gives me hope.  To me, a happy family--my happy family--exists there with a beautiful, perfect Nora to spoil.  She is healthy and happy and every day there is a new story to share about her growth.  She grows cuter every day.  Giggles and laughs at her awesome aunt and crazy uncle.  Coos into the phone to her grandparents.  And overall is just a peanut of happiness and sunshine for that family.

Today I am thinking about that alternate universe.

St. Patrick's Day is special in my household.  We inherited this from our Irish grandmother, who always took this holiday to the extreme!  It was a holiday we celebrated with the traditional corned beef and cabbage meal and everyone was expected to wear green (except for my German grandfather who would wear orange in protest of the day!).  I really looked forward to watching Nora be introduced to this crazy family holiday.  The cute outfits she would inevitably wear (covered with shamrocks and green that her great-grandma inevitably sent her).

So today I think of that alternate universe and imagine how much fun they are having.  Nora is being passed around wearing the cutest Irish outfit for a baby.  Two weary-eyed parents are happy for the relief but also enjoy sharing their daughter with everyone.  People are laughing and having fun.  Darkness does not shadow this family.  They are at peace and their hearts are filled with love, all because a tiny little girl brought this bliss into their lives.

I am not jealous of this universe because I believe my family's loss was able to give this family their hope and happiness.  Some sort of cosmic check and balance.  For some reason, it is easier for me to believe in this alternate universe as opposed to imagining my niece as an angel in heaven (an issue that I have lots of thoughts on that I most likely will not share on this blog).  I believe in energy and existence, and for now I am content imagining that Nora is existing somewhere else.

Perhaps this doesn't make sense and seems silly, but I've never been one to be serious, and in all honesty, this alternate universe I have created sounds pretty awesome.  So today, I am happy for this alternate universe.  I share in their joy and love and wish them the best with this Irish blessing:

May joy and peace surround you,
Contentment latch your door,
And happiness be with you now
And bless you evermore!


  1. I completely get the sentiment that I can't relate to the idea of my baby being in heaven. I even spoke about it in our eulogies at the funeral. It does not resonate with me and it stirs up a feeling that deeply angers me for some reason, this concept that she's floating on clouds with angels.

    I get the alternate universe. Our precious girl was born last week at 39 weeks. I have moments where I feel like I walk in two worlds. This one where she's not here and we just buried her. And the one where I am holding a 12 day old and breastfeeding instead of drying up my milk. It's very visible and very visceral. I get it.

    1. Lauren,

      I read your blog. It is very moving. I have had some of the exact same feelings as you in the first week or two. The pushing of the belly that is now empty and no longer alive with movement. The concept that I didn't want others to forget about my husbands grief either. And thinking about baby names for my next child. At one point I had to create a different name for our next baby girl just to help me realize that Nora was gone.

      I am still struggling with all of these things 2 months out, but the first sentences on your blog for your most recent post, 'not having a name for childless parents' I totally get and I am still struggling with. I know in the pregnancy and child loss community it is referred to as 'baby lost' parents. But even that doesn't seem to help. I want you to know that I am now a follow of your blog and will list it on my site if that is okay with you.

      May peace find a way into your heart again,


    2. Absolutely. I'm subscribed to yours as well. I'll be following your journey faithfully, because I know that the more people that read our words, the more people who keep our little ones in their hearts. To me, that matters.

  2. I read the story of your daughter this morning and was so moved! i am so sorry for your loss! i have had 4 baby losses as well. I wanted to recommend another website. it is full of amazing resources. I pray you are able to continue to receive the support you need for healing!

  3. Thank you for the recommendation. I do like stillbirthday. I am sorry for the loss of your 4 precious babies. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

  4. I wrote this on your post about failure but wanted to make sure you saw it

    I don't have a way to email you, though I keep searching the blog for ways to make contact. I feel like we have such a similar story that I couldn't not reach out. I'm a therapist. I specialized in PTSD and trauma therapy. I couldn't stop apologizing for the last two weeks since Ree was born. It's the only words I could utter to her when I was finally alone with her. It's all I seem to say to my husband. I only made it through labor because I felt I owed it to him to let him meet his daughter. I didn't feel like I even deserved to at that point. The feeling of failure was so great, even before she was here.

    I'd love to talk if you are open to it. I'm only 13 days post partum today and desperately hoping to find others that are on this journey too.

    Email me if you are open to it.


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