Apr 9, 2012

on helplessness

The past week has been hard and sad. For the past month I have felt like I was in a very fragile place but doing a pretty good job keeping it together. But needing this surgery, the invasiveness of having no control over my body (again) and everything surrounding it really brought me to a low place. I think it is also the holidays and being surrounded by babies and children and families, too.

When I lost N&A, I was really worried about the bitter and jealousy returning. There was a stretch of time during our infertility struggles when I felt very jealous and bitter of others' good fortune. The jealousy and bitterness was something that came from a very dark place and honestly made me feel pretty crappy about myself. It was something that felt destructive and I made a very conscious effort to work through it. I like to believe I mostly succeeded on this front.

In the aftermath of their birth & death, I was relieved that the bitterness and jealousy didn't return, or at least not in the way that I feared. I didn't want any baby in some abstract sense; I wanted them - my specific babies. Other babies felt irrelevant.

Passover was the first time I was subjected to babies and young children in large doses since our loss. It was much harder than I expected, not because I was jealous, but because it was such a visceral reminder of everything I can't do for my babies. A screaming baby in need of soothing is enough to get me wailing. Because the baby can be soothed. Because there is something her mother can do for her.

I never got to do anything, really, for my babies. It is the most helpless feeling I can imagine, I think, to give birth to a living baby to whom neither you nor medical science can help. To give birth to a living baby who by virtue of leaving your body is destined to die. Perhaps giving birth to Aminadav was in fact doing him a kind of favor because of his suffering - but again, I always come back to it - when I gave birth to Naava I killed her.

I never even held Naava. Sometimes I wonder if I lack basic maternal instincts. One day a couple of weeks after their death, our cleaning lady pulled me close and said "Maybe your soul wasn't ready yet to accept them."

During more rational hours, this seems like a hideous proposition - after all those failed fertility treatments, our first miscarriage, all that longing - my soul wasn't ready yet to be their mother? But why didn't I know instinctively to hold my babies, especially my living one? No one encouraged me or told me to. I was in shock. It all happened to so quickly. I will know better for next time. These are my alibis. But why didn't I just intuitively understand to do it?

I wasn't able to do anything physical for my babies in this world. I love(d) them and think of them constantly. Winter is over and the days are becoming long and hot. I do not think it will rain again. G-d willing we will somehow bring a living child into this world (though that seems to become increasingly daunting to think about with every new complication). But nothing is going to bring these babies back; no amount of magical thinking or new medical knowledge or regrets realized & examined.


  1. Be gentle on yourself... you have been through so much and it all happened so quickly. I'm realising more and more how our lost loved ones are within our heart and will always be with us... not that this makes it any easier to bear but it does help with my feeling of letting Gabrielle down. You did not let your twins down and certainly did not kill her... you have been through probably the hardest thing a mother could ever go through and it was out of your control. I've been thinking of you often over the last few days... and sending you love from afar xoxo

  2. I think we all have regrets from our losses. I know for a fact that if other people didn't suggest things to do or explain something then I wouldn't have done it. After giving birth to Charlotte, I held her but I didn't open the swaddling to really look at her. My mother did though and I felt shocked, like, "Why didn't I think of that?" So it was suggested by someone else that they all leave the room and give my husband and I more time alone with her.

    Do be gentle on yourself. Your alibis are true.

  3. Hugs. I do not believe your soul wasnt ready, I believe god needed your babies for a bigger purpose that we cannot understand. I cant imagine your situation, our loss was much sooner, but the shock and grief that overcomes you is motherly. You will forever hold your babies in your heart until you can see them again one day.

  4. Oh boy, if anyone gets this post it's me. I have SO many of these same feelings surrounding the birth of my twins. The pain at not being able to properly mother them in their last moments, the feeling of helplessness at the whole situation.
    In fact, I wrote a whole post about it a couple of months back:

    My son also was the one to have problems with his placenta and I believe began the labor. Alena was a casualty. That kills me and causes a lot of guilt. This is why, if I can become pregnant again, I will not be transferring two. I can't risk something happening again with twins and the guilt surrounding it. If something happens to the next baby, a second life will not be lost as well.
    You did care for your children as best as you could in that shocking situation. You may always have regrets - I do. But we did everything we could I think in the time and mindset we were forced into. We can't change anything now unfortunately. I wish I could.

    I have found that the more I do now to remember and honor my babies (to parent them), the better I feel. It's all not just for them, it's for me. I have to do anything I can to make things up to them. To love them the way I couldn't have when they were born.

    I hope this helps you too. I know how painful this is. There are so many regrets and bittersweet moments to think about in reflection. I hope you can find peace in the small things and know that someone else out there sincerely understands the complexities of this kind of event. The unfairness of it all is overwhelming.


  5. I am so so sorry for your loss. I can't begin to imagine how devestating this experience has been for you. I lost my first child in January because it ended in a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, so I do know the feeling of wanting *that* child(ren) again. I wish there was something I could do to make this better for you. Please know I am thinking of you and your angel babies. (From ICLW #20)

  6. I am so sorry...just extending the warmest hug to you.

    "I didn't want any baby in some abstract sense; I wanted them - my specific babies. Other babies felt irrelevant."

    I totally get this.

    We will always be surrounded by other children...but it is not them that we are aching for, it is our children who have gone by.

    My family/extended family saw the births of a small list of children last year...each of the births was a reminder that my baby would have been older than them...that she was the first in the line.

    And now my baby is here, but guess what, she is labelled as the youngest in her cousins. Had Lola been here, she would have been the older sister. I hate chronology that leaves no space for the lost.

    I am getting this feeling so well, and I ache that you are standing at this stage.

  7. first of all, i am so very sorry for your loss, how completely devastated you must feel. it's interesting that you say you aren't jealous of other people's babies, i know that is a very common feeling among infertiles, however, i was never jealous of other people and their babies, i didn't want THEIR babies, i wanted MY baby. i was jealous that other people were able to HAVE babies, but not so much of the actual babies themselves. my heart hurts for you, i really hope you have a great support network in place and that you are able to get through this difficult time.

  8. visiting via ICLW. I have no words of wisdom, only sorrow that you suffered such a loss. I hope you can find some peace in this terrible time.

  9. I am so sorry for all of your pain. So so sorry. And I am so sorry for your tremendous loss.

    ICLW #95

  10. Hey there, I'm here from ICLW, but I've been following your blog for quite some time. I'm so sorry for your loss. Sending peace and light.

  11. Hi, here from ICLW and just discovered your blog. I am so terribly sorry for your immense losses. I can't imagine the kind of pain you are going through. Wishing love and peace for you.

  12. Hey, I can't imagine the grief you must feel. I have never lost a baby so cannot know the sadness you must feel and cannot offer advice, I can only reiterate what DandelionBreeze said, be kind on yourself.

  13. Dearest A... I think of you often and hope that each day gets easier. I've nominated you for a 'One Lovely Blog' Award via http://newyearmum.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/one-lovely-blog-award.html xoxo

  14. You have been through soooo much, I can't even begin to understand the depth of this pain. All I can do is offer you support, and well wishes for better days ahead. I've also tagged you for the lovely blog award! Here are the rules: 1. share who gave you this award to you with a link back to their blog. 2. write down 7 random facts about yourself. 3. give this award to 15 other bloggers.

  15. I have read this three times and still don't have the words...there are no words. What I hope most for you is that you find peace with yourself. The hurt is bad enough already. I am so sorry.

  16. Be gentle with yourself, it's a really hard thing to lose your babies that was so longed for. Sending you hugs.

  17. I wish there was more that I could do then give you cyber {{{HUGS}}}

    Perusing your blog via ICLW (#86)

  18. I am quite angry about your cleaning lady's two cents. These babies were part of your soul. What is she talking about? it is normal to be scared to hold the babies, I know I was and had to work at it initially, but then the instincts did kick in after I held Adrian. I think that we expect things to happen a certain way, and when they deivate in such a big way from our expectations, we naturally are scared and don't know how to deal with life. Don't add to the pain by judging yourself as well. And your cleaning lady had no business saying that, what does she know about you, your babies or your soul and the relationship between you and them? these are only personal things.

  19. I am late reading this - I came over from your comment on my post - but I just wanted to say how upset the comments of your cleaning lady make me. Of course you were ready to 'accept them:' you were doing everything you knew how to do to help them grow and keep them safe and you would have done anything you could have to prevent their deaths. And as for motherly instincts - if you didn't have them, you wouldn't be here, writing and loving them as best you can now that they're gone. When my first daughter was born I worried so much because I didn't immediately feel bonded with her. I wondered if I was a terrible mother. All those instincts and bonding feelings are so complicated, and then complicated so much more by the unbearable and incomparable shock of facing the death of your children. Thinking of you and of Aminadav and Naava.