For more 6x6 memes, visit Glow in the Woods.
1 How would you describe your relationship to fear before and after the loss of your baby?
When I think about it, I've always lived with anxiety in my life. We moved around a lot when I was a kid, & it was hard for me to face new situations & new people, especially as I got older. I also spent some time in hospitals (having various tests run) when I was a grade schooler, which was a highly traumatic experience that gave me nightmares for years afterwards. But fear? Fear that something would happen to me or my loved ones? Those kinds of things always happened to someone else.
I try to live my life optimistically. My dh has a lot of anxiety issues, and I feel like I have to stay positive & upbeat as a counterbalance. But fear is always lurking menacingly in the background. I know that bad things do happen to good people, randomly & without warning. The innocence is gone.
2 Is your lost baby/are your babies present in your life? In what way?
Even after 10 years, there is not a day (& often not an hour) that goes by that I am not thinking about my daughter & what happened to us in some way, shape or form. She continues to be present & influence my life. We still visit her niche at the cemetery just about every weekend. It's often just a very brief visit (one particularly blustery day last winter, we didn't even get out of the car), but it's a ritual that gives us comfort.
We also have various physical reminders of her around the house… our most personal keepsakes are not openly on display (except maybe in our bedroom), but there are things like angel figurines on the piano & on my desk at work, a tree in the backyard & magnets on the refrigerator that hold special meaning for us, even if the rest of the world doesn't realize it.
3 Tell us about something said or done after your loss that left you feeling nurtured or supported.
A few examples:
Arriving at the cemetery for our first visit after the funeral -- only to find that FIL had already been there, leaving a bouquet scotch taped (!) to the then-plaqueless niche wall. We knew it was him because there was a card tucked inside that read (in Italian) "Your Grandparents."
Getting cards & notes from totally unexpected people -- the secretary to the CEO of the bank I work for (the very first note that I received from anyone), the vice-president from another area that I had been working with on a project with, a member of my lunchtime Toastmasters club, the travel agent who shared office space with my dad's real estate company & worked the phones tirelessly to get my mother to Toronto to be with me in time for delivery.
The (older, childless) coworker, my best friend from work, who came to visit me at home while I was on leave, listened to me tell my story, & wiped her eyes as I did.
The (older, childless) admin officer from my office who, in calling me to discuss the details of my leave, said emphatically, "It's a tragedy, Lori." Yes, it was! Thank you!!
The angel figurine that my childhood best friends, three sisters (one of whom was the twin to a stillborn sister), sent me at Christmastime to let me know they were thinking of me.
At my grandfather's funeral (two months after the loss of my daughter), my cousins' other grandmother (a tiny, frail lady in her late 80s, a woman of great faith & a neighbour to my own grandparents), gave me a huge hug & said how sorry she was to hear about my baby. She said to me, "I love you & your sister like you were my own grandchildren." I hugged her back & said, "I love you too, Grandma R." (She is still with us, now in her late 90s!)
4 Tell us about something said or done after your loss that left you feeling marginalized or misunderstood.
A few examples:
The people (well meaning, I'm sure) who would say something like, "Well, you can try again," or "I'm sure you'll have another baby." I would just reply, "I hope so." Completely setting aside the fact that babies are not interchangeable & I wanted THAT baby, not a new one, it showed me they knew or understood nothing of how long we'd been trying to have this baby. Having another was by no means a sure thing (as time has borne out).
The friend (whom I supported through a divorce & problems with her strongwilled daughter) who called me at home when she couldn't reach me at the office &, upon hearing what had happened (granted, she was caught off guard, BUT…!!) started babbling on & came up with this gem: "Well, you know, Lori, you've had a pretty easy life so far." Oh really?? Like it was my "turn" to have something bad happen to me??
The people who said nothing at all, or perhaps a very perfunctory expression of condolence, & nothing since then.
The hints & outright comments that we must be rolling in dough (i.e., because we don't have kids). One of dh's cousins actually started to say this to him at a family gathering this winter, & then sort of caught himself, like he suddenly remembered WHY we don't have kids, & shut up. Duh.
5 What's taken you a long time to do again? How did it feel, if you have?
It took me a long, long time before I could walk into a Baby Gap store again. Even now, if I go in there, it's usually to buy a gift, & I'm in & out as fast as I can. Still way too painful. And I still can't/won't watch "A Baby Story" on TLC. No way, no how.
6 How would you describe yourself as a partner before, and after?
I've always felt dh & I had a strong relationship. Loss & infertility have tested it (sorely at times), but I think that overall, the things we've been through have brought us closer together. As for me in particular as a partner -- I think that loss has made me a little more vulnerable & needy than I once was. (I must ask dh what he thinks, lol.)