Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Don't mention the DEAD BABY

Last night Michael and I were discussing the arrival of the new dining table we have bought in memory of our daughter. A strange memorial, but I'll explain. We received the baby bonus, not because we had a baby, but because our baby died. If her birth had been as it should have been, if our lives were as they should be, then we would probably have been just over the cut off. Being handed a great sum of money is usually fun. We could really use a holiday right now, but for us, it felt wrong to squander it on something that would have no significance to Olidea. We have been living wiithout a dining table since Michael stole my cute old 50s laminate one and turned it into a potting table, about a year and a half ago, so it was a definite must have when we listed what we had to do before Olidea was born.
Anyway, when we were still naive, we went looking at tables, and we both fell in love with a great big slab of timber turned into a table, but it was way above budget...we kept dreaming. It was 2.7 metres long, 1.3 metres wide, and had benches down each side. I dreamed about filling the benches with friends and family, having a table full of food to share. I dreamed we would have a dozen kids crowded around, all sharing fairy bread, cocktail franks and chocolate crackles. I dreamed I would sit at the table, with my morning coffee, or cutting vegetables for dinner, with my baby strapped into a bouncy chair up on the table, watching me, talking to me, smiling, sleeping.
Then we didn't need a table anymore. I stopped dreaming.

As April approached, my feelings toward making her room ready changed. Now I know it will never be her room, It will sit and wait until we need to get ready again, if we ever do.
We talked it over, we could put the cash toward paying off loans, we could buy the oven, dishwasher or other electronic appliances that would make life easier for us. It isn't our money though, it's her money. I needed whatever we bought to reflect that. In the end, we decided to buy the table we had dreamed of raising our family around. (Although it's a slightly different table because when I went to buy it, I found out the one we had seen was an import, not WA made. The one we are getting is still enormous, a slab of marri polished and crafted here in Perth, with chairs not benches, but Michael's going to make them for me.)
It will always be with us, wherever we go. It will be part of our daily lives. Every time we sit at that table, every meal we share, it will be a reminder that she was here, and in a weird way, it will be like having her in our lives again. It's not a painting to sit on the wall and be admired, it will acquire marks and scratches over time, as we use it, just as a person acquires scars and reminders of the life they have lived.
As I lay in the bath thinking about the table we had ordered, it struck me that of all the tables we had seen, we bought the only one with curved edges - it's an 'O'. Then, I thought that it might be nice to engrave the centre, or inlay it, with a small 'O', just because I want to make it Olidea's Table.
Last night, Michael got angry at me about that. He doesn't want to 'ruin' the surface. Neither do I, if we do put the 'O' into it, it will be a carpenter who does it properly. . But more importantly, he doesn't want me to mark the table with anything that will tell other people that it's Olidea's Table. I can put the plaque from her coffin underneath the table, where no-one can see, but I can't tell anyone why we have bought a dining suite that costs the same as a second hand car.
He tells me that he doesn't want me to tell people, because he doesn't want to share our daughter.
He told me I can't tell my family, because they would be uncomfortable sitting at a table our dead daughter bought for us.

I can't tell my best friend, because according to him, she would also be too uncomfortable. These people and other friends already know, and it's not a problem for them.

I'm really angry that he tries to project his own opinions onto other people, to manipulate me. He has done it before, and he will do it again. I don't know why he can't just fight fair.

He says his best friend would refuse to sit at the table if he knew. His mum isn't to be told, because she will refuse to sit at the table.

My respone to that is:

Anybody who does not want to sit at Olidea's Table, to share a meal with her family that includes her memory is not welcome in the home where she should be living.

According to him, that isn't fair. It might make people uncomfortable. I'm not allowed to make other people uncomfortable, and dead babies make people uncomfortable. If I am asked, I have to say I have no children, I haven't carried a baby in my body, I have not felt the confusion and pain of her body coming out of mine. I haven't washed and dressed my child for a blessing and naming ceremony. I haven't carried my baby's cold body to the path lab for autopsy. I haven't cried as I laid flowers and photos around my baby girl, before screwing down the lid on her coffin. I haven't cried, looking at an empty crib with only her ashes to lie in it.

I am not a mother, because saying I am night make you uncomfortable.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


I am ashamed. I am ashamed of the way I chose to handle my child's diagnosis. I started off being able to speak what we chose openly, but stumbling on the word for the procedure - I'm never quite sure whether it's a birth, a death, an abortion or a termination. Usually I just settle for 'that day'. Now, I am ashamed.

I chose to end my pregnancy, when faced with unsurvivable abnormalities in my child.

My baby died when she was born.

I called my baby to come early, so she could die quicker, and hopefully more gently.

I terminated my baby girl because I was scared that if I waited until she was big, my uterus could be damaged so much that I would never be able to have another baby.

I rejected her because she wasn't perfect.

I killed her because it was inconvenient to keep a complicated pregnancy with no expectation of a living child.

I was the only person between my daughter's life and death, and I let other people choose to take her life.

I am god. I chose my baby's death-day.

I have no right to mourn my child, because I killed her.

All any unborn child asks is for a mother to care enough about her child to provide a safe, nurturing place to become a dependant, but independent child. I refused my daughter that when I expelled her from my body.

I had an abortion to ease the burden on my husband, of watching me wait for her to die.

I had an abortion because she might not have made it to full term anyway.

I had an abortion, because my baby was not a viable candidate for transplant surgery. She was not a viable candidate because they thought there was more wrong with her than I did. They thought she had a 'syndrome'. She might have done, but really it was just her spine that triggered the CDH and heart problems. They didn't believe me about the rest until they cut her open. But they would never have known until she was born anyway, and then it was too late.

My dad wanted me to terminate, because one possible diagnosis included facial abnormalities. He didn't want me to have a baby without a face. He didn't want to feed his grandchild through a tube direct to the gut. He needn't have worried, her face was perfect, and although her intestines were in the wrong place, they would have worked fine if they had been put in the right place. Her heart would have still stopped beating though.

I killed my baby because we didn't want to watch her struggle, be cut open and kept alive by machines, if she would die like that, could never live past childhood.

My husband and I disagree on 'quality of life'. To him, a wheelchair is unnacceptable. To me, a person in a wheelchair can have friends, intellect, a family, successes, mistakes, dignity. A person who cannot speak, cannot eat, cannot control movement and wears a nappy is probably suffering, but can't communicate. To me, that isn't fair.

She should be here now.

I am a bad parent because there was no place for her in our home when she was born.

I am a bad parent because I let her spend her last night in her body, locked in the morgue, refrigerated. We should have brought her home to sleep in the cot that we never bought, in the nursery we never decorated, before her cremation. We should not have left her there alone.

We should have let her be, and not tried to take so many measurements, and castings.

I should have known what was happening during her birth, I should not have taken so much for the pain, and I should not have had a general when they removed my placenta.

We should have waited, and had a proper funeral.

We should have waited, and not had her at christmas.

I should have more photos of my belly. I didn't want them because I thought it was stupid, knowing she would die.

I wish the hospital staff were more helpful when preparing and planning for a death that hasn't happened yet. Other people have a birth plan, I wanted to have a death plan.

I wish I had known more about labour. It seemed to be expected that I knew how it works, but I haven't had any other children. I only read my pregnancy manuals as far as five months.

I wish the politicians would stop comparing women and doctors who terminate for 'medical' reasons to nazi scientists. It isn't nice, but don't take medicare funding away, give more to help us please.

I wanted my baby to live, to be smart, healthy and alive. I didn't want to kill my baby.

Friday, May 1, 2009

How do I deal with it?

I'm struggling. I would like to know that whatever happens in my life, I can count on my Mum for her love and support, but I can't. She has no empathy whatever for how hard this is.
In the first few days after we found out that Olidea had major problems, my mother made a comment to me one morning as I passed her on my way to work - "it happened to a girl I know at work, but hers was worse". The woman in question's baby also had CDH, but the organs had grown outside of the chest cavity. Apparently there is a scale of grief relating to your unborn child's abnormalities. It's not as simple as knowing your baby is going to die, it's about how attractive their corpse will be.

In the lead up to christmas, as Michael and I trudged to appointment after appointment, hoping that today would be the day that someone found a way to help Olidea, Mum kept asking what I wanted for christmas. The scan was days after my birthday, which I didn't get to celebrate, nor did I receive any gifts. I had asked previously for my christmas present to be contributions or gifts for the baby, but knowing there would be no need for those things, my mum just kept asking over and over again what I wanted for christmas.

Olidea was born 5 days before christmas. We left the hospital on monday afternoon, and had Olidea cremated on Tuesday, so that she could be home with us for christmas. I would have preferred to just keep christmas for our little, sad family this year, but Michael's mother, who lives an hour's drive away, really wanted us to be with her. I went with Michael, because worse than being surrounded by happy people, I didn't want to be apart that day. We arrived, apparently with the intention of only staying an hour, but that wasn't to be. MIL had invited most of her family for christmas lunch, and we weren't allowed to leave before we ate, which got later and later as we waited for BIL, his wife and daughter. There were about fifteen people there, including toddlers, by the time we sat down to eat, and I knew only a few of them. I tried to smile, and failed, I felt so very confused, I didn't know who knew we had held our baby for the last time 2 days earlier, and who was just not talking about it.

Because it was christmas, there was nowhere we could escape to, everywhere was booked out. We did stay in my parents caravan down south for a few days, but even that was horrible,
Mum's BF was there with her family, including her 6 month old grandchild.

I spent those early days psyching myself up to go back to work after new year, but I got to the office, just over two weeks after losing her, to find most people had already been retrenched, and I was next. The bosses had thought it was kinder to wait until after everything was over to tell me, but as hard as I know it would have been to do it earlier, I would so have loved to not spend that time worrying about work, and just let myself feel grief.

I set only one task for myself between her birth and my EDD, I needed to fix her nursery, to give myself a place to sit, and make a place for her in our home. It was important to me that if we have more than one child, that they share a wonderful nursery, with furniture that will still be beautiful if they want it later. The room has been my mother's store room since we moved in here, and before that, as this was my childhood home, until my parents moved out almost ten years ago. I have lived here again for 5, without my parents, and with Michael for 3 years.
Mum is territorial. She didn't want to let it go. I asked her a year ago, pregnant for the first time, but I miscarried, and she took the opportunity to ignore her junk. Again, I asked her when we got pregnant with Olidea. I asked her every time I saw her after confirming the pregnancy last August. Over and Over again, she told me she was too busy. After christmas, we spoke about how we planned to go through with our plans for the nursery - Our home is 2 story, surrounded by trees, with a wonderful big gum tree branch draped across the view from the nursery. We wanted a treehouse theme, with plants and insects and a bit of "possum magic" for inspiration.
Again, mum was too busy, but with the added pressure, came another argument - she didn't have any room in her house. I asked for three months following Olidea's birth, so that I could move the shrine/ crib from next to our bed, and give her a beautiful nursery by the time she was due, just as it should be. One week before my EDD, three weeks after I had asked for the last time, Mum noticed in passing that I seemed to be a little upset about something. That 'little something', after i tried to put her off, to avoid the argument, became my fault, for not asking enough times. Saying it so she could hear, or making her understand. But SHE IGNORED ME EVERY TIME I ASKED!!!! I kept asking her to leave me alone, to go away, but she backed me into a corner, in MY HOME and wouldn't move until I told her why I was upset. That triggered one of her vile diatribes, and ended with her standing in the middle of my driveway, screaming at me that I'm a horrible person, I don't care about my Grandmas, I'm selfish etc. etc. etc, for around ten minutes.

Today, a month later, she tells me I'm making it all up, for some malicious reason, just to hurt her feelings. Again, and again, and again, she does these things, forces an argument, says horrible things to me, and denies it when it is suggested that she may have any reason to be at fault.

She tells me there's something wrong with me, I'm insane, I need to see a doctor, or the psych again, but I AM NOT THE CRAZY ONE!!! She makes me think I am though.