Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Betrayal of a Grieving Memory

     As painful as all of it was, is, will be, I will always remember it all.  I will remember and feel every contraction, every tear (rip), every tear (cry), the feeling of my bag of waters as it emerged and retreated, emerged and retreated and finally emerged and burst.  The way my body felt as my legs were bent and pushed wide out to the side, my knees in my armpits, my hair wet with sweat.  I will remember how it felt when I reached above my shoulders and behind my head to brace myself against my wall expecting the force of my pressure to burst through the barrier.
     I will remember the way it felt when I delivered my child's head.  The sense of relief knowing that just another push or two and I would to hear my baby cry, hold my baby in my arms, and watch my baby suckle at my breast.  I will remember the sense of wonder I had, in that moment, at the marvel of birth.  I will memorialize the way my child's head felt when I reached down and smoothed my finger tips over her soft, hair covered scalp.  I will remember the moments of anguish that followed as my body betrayed both myself and my child.  The moments when I was forced to pivot onto my hands and knees in hopes that my body would release and my beautiful child would be born into this world pink and bewildered.  I will remember the intense yet defeasible pushing, my midwife's profanities, the impenetrable words NINE-ONE-ONE.  I will remember the sirens, the voices of the rescue team.   I will remember and feel the burn of every piece of my flesh as it was manually ripped open by as many as three sets of hands at a time.  I will remember the desperate disbelief as I was taken from my home and lifted into the ambulance.
     I will remember my final two contractions when my body finally released and my child was born.  The way I could only see the front of the ambulance as we raced down the road and the fact that I only discovered my daughter's gender from the pronouns that were used after she was fully delivered.  I will remember the hope, the fierce hope, when one rescue worker said her color was getting better.  I will remember the entry to trauma room, the extreme abandon I felt for my own safety, and my focus on my daughter's wellbeing.  I will remember having to deliver my placenta and attempt to be stitched without proper anesthesia all while a curtain was drawn between myself and my daughter.
     I will always remember when the neonatal doctor came to me, head shaking in defeat and I saw my daughter for the first time.  The nurses brought my limp daughter to me, intubation tube still in place, blood from birth still spotting her scalp. I will remember how, in that moment, I knew I would never be the same.
(Photo by Sherry Kruzman Photograohy )
A picture that normally depicts the beginning benchmark
for the development of an adorable scrunched up baby.
For me, however, it has become this image above of my
breathless infant who's life outside my warm belly never
     The rest blurs.  I know I was taken to surgery where I was put under a general anesthesia.  I know the first words I remember after coming out of said anesthesia were from the lips of Patrick's mother "She robbed everyone of this baby," she accused.  I know the hospital was compassionate and allowed me to hold my daughter late into the night.  But the details, those fade.  The faces of the doctors and nurses who worked on both Celia and me that day, even those who came to visit are missing from my memory.  The Lisa I was before my daughter was born, before my daughter died is missing too.  Perhaps someday I will remember her, the Lisa who came before.  I will not be her again, I know this.  But I am told that I will meet a day that is not wet with tears, I will laugh a true laugh or smile a true smile that will not be followed with pain.  When will this day will come? I do not know, but I am told it will.


  1. I can't believe that someone would say that to a grieving mother - I'm truly sorry that it isn't one of the things you forgot. I hate that you've had to experience so much physical pain on top of the emotional pain. It all just seems so unfair. I wish no woman would ever have to go through such a horrible tragedy.

  2. Dear Lisa, I believe your arrival at that future day is heralded by your thorough expression of your experience with Celia Jane and willingness to feel the hard feelings now. I spent a semester this past fall trying to unlock the day my sister died over 35 years ago, recognizing the tremendous impact those unfelt feelings and unexpressed experiences are still having in my life every day. I really couldn't go to the place where you are today. I am so proud of your courage, so inspired by your expressive writing, and so vehemently a part of the cheering team that wants to see you come to the place where you can again laugh a true laugh. The experiences of watching other families experience this same kind of ultimate tragedy have taught me that HOW a person navigates the journey afterward has a huge impact on their future health. I completely believe in you.

    And, pardon me, but FUCK PATRICK'S MOM.

  3. Lisa, You express your anguish and deep yearning for Celia so well. Even with your ability to write and describe your grief, I know your words cannot adequately tell of your grief. For there truly are no words to describe the death of a baby. Other parents may benefit from your blog. Do you mind if I share it with others experiencing a loss? I'm so sorry for the unkind words of others. I realize how deep they cut at your already existing pain.
    It's been awhile since we spoke. I've been wondering how your job has progressed. Please send me an email or call me anytime to talk. My heart goes out to you for becoming a part of the group no one wants to enter- the group of mom's and dad's that have experiencd the death of their baby. When my son died I couldn't imagine finding joy or meaning in life again. But I have and I have HOPE that you will as well. Just be patient with your grief, it is a long journey. Hugs. Thinking of you and Celia Jane.

    1. Life has been difficult and for me it is remains standing still. I haven't been able to go back to work yet. Feel free to share my bog with anyone you'd like. I started it to help me along in my healing journey. If my words can help someone else, perhaps it will offer me some more purpose and healing as well.

  4. Hearing you will meet a day with less tears is incomprehensible. How could that be?.
    How could it be possible that a song that used to make you laugh and dance would once again have the same happy ending. I greived not only for my baby but also for the death of myself. She was gone, I was just the shell that was used to house the crappy remains. I know, this may not ease your suffering but, there will come a day, soon, that a smile will creep back into your life. A moment where you can let yourself smile without the bitter taste afterwards. It WILL happen, when you least expect and it will be right on time.X

  5. I hope you will get pregnant again. I hope you will have a good OB and deliver in a hospital with all the care and safety which your future child deserves.

  6. I write to you as a new mother who almost had a out-of-hospital birth. Do not blame yourself. Many of us who chose homebirths have placed trust in the hands of midwives who make us feel that birth is inherently safe. God bless your heart. I hope you let yourself dream again my dear.

  7. Dear Lisa,
    I want to reiterate the above comment, please don't blame yourself. I know how hard that can be. My baby died in OOH birth in 2011. I do know this, that every decision I made, I made with love, and with the best information I had at the time. Looking back, that information does not feel balanced, more like an illusion of ideals about birth that didn't turn out to be true. Nothing about my experience was "empowering". Instead it was our life's worst trauma to date. After everything had happened, I felt so disillusioned, mislead, and incapable of making decisions for myself. I had believed I was educating myself, and doing what was best for my baby and family. That's what every mother does, and although we've never met, I'm sure you are no different in that regard.

    Writing has helped me a great deal. Your writing and emotions are raw, and I hope you understand how much love is out there in this world for you, wishing you healing thoughts. It's a long journey, and not one I ever imagined for myself or anyone else. Please also know that your Celia is with you, and will give you strength, love, and a way forward in ways you can't imagine. It's a different way to know the love of a child, but I find that my son has taught me so much about love, life, and perspective without actually physically being here on earth. I hold tight to that thought. My love for him can never leave me and the same is true in reverse.

    We do have a strong network of supportive loss moms in Michigan if you're interested. You can email me (Sara Snyder) at:

    Peace to you.

  8. My deepest condolences on the loss of your beautiful daughter. Speak out. Find a local "Compassionate Friends" chapter to meet with. They are a group of folks who have lost children. Sending you peace.

  9. I came to your blog in a roundabout way, through the site of another blogger. I am so sorry for your profound loss. And no, it's not 'okay' but I do understand the need to offer up that response to people when they offer their condolences. It's an effort to ease their discomfort when faced with something as huge as the loss of a child.

    While "Anonymous" (a commentor in a previous post) would have you snap out of it and get back to living, I encourage to keep doing exactly what you're doing. Grief is such a personal experience, unique to each individual. There is no 'right' time to move on (for want of another term). There isn't a written timeline that tells you when you will 'get over it.' Indeed, I doubt that you will ever 'get over' the loss of your daughter. You WILL experience joy and happiness again. You WILL smile again and really mean it. But 10, 20, even 30 years from now, you will still shed a tear over your daughter. No, you will not be the 'old' Lisa. But you WILL be 'okay', or whatever 'okay' means to you. I know that when I lived in the depths of grief, okay was all that I wanted. I just wanted to know that I would not always feel the emptiness and the despair that consumed my life. Some days I feel as if I've fallen back into that pit, but not nearly as deep as those early days.
    My best advice, is to be kind to yourself. Allow yourself to feel the pain. Cry when you need to. Be pissed at the universe when the feeling hits. Scream at the top of your lungs if it makes you feel better. You will feel guilt too. Guilt is pretty much useless and self-defeating, but it is still something that needs to be worked through. I do urge you to seek out the counsel of someone with whom you have no personal attachment, if you've not already done so. Counseling made me a little angry, especially when she told me something that I knew was right, but it has it's good points. Support groups are also available. Even if it's only an online support group. Just having someone else to let you know that you're normal, in a time when life feels so abnormal, is helpful. Like you, I found writing to be very cathartic. Writing provided me with an outlet that didn't involve having to cater to the needs of others or the need to ease their discomfort or God forbid, to have to comfort someone else who was shedding tears at my loss. (How can you possiby make someone else feel better when your own world has been shattered?)
    What works for YOU is what WILL work for you. And to hell with all those who tell you that it's 'time' to move on. They don't know. They couldn't possibly know. If they could feel what you're feeling for even 30 seconds, it would be too long.

    Your love for Celia is so obvious. I wish that you'd been given the opportunity to shower her with that love every single day.


  10. Oh how I feel for you. What you speak of resonates with me, parts seem so similar to my own experience. I wish things had been different for you and for Celia, and for my baby and I.