Monday, March 12, 2012

The talismans

I realized recently that I had never written about my nighttime ritual & good-luck charms. Maybe because I think it might sound foolish. Maybe because it's such an ingrained part of my daily routine that I barely think about it anymore. Maybe because it's the last thing I do before I crawl into bed at the end of the day, and it's not exactly the first thing on my mind when I get up in the morning, KWIM? ; )

It all started with this Boyds Bears figurine. As I wrote about it just before Mother's Day 2008:

MDay [Mother's Day] 1998 [when I was pregnant] was full of happy anticipation. I was about three months pregnant & just newly out of the closet about my pregnancy, so to speak. (After some pointed hints from me) Dh gave me a card & a Boyd's Bears figurine of a pregnant mama bear, called Momma McBear (photo at the top of this post). We'd started giving each other Boyd's Bears figurines as gifts & I absolutely loved this one. I put it on the night table on my side of the bed. After we lost Katie & started ttc again, & then turned to fertility treatments, the pregnant teddy bear became a sort of fertility totem for me. Every night, before turning out the lights, I would rub her pregnant belly. I still do (force of habit), even though I no longer expect results.

After I lost Katie in August 1998, I joined a listserv for parents who lost a baby & were hoping to try again. One of my initial e-friends on the list, who also dealt with fertility issues, had lost a son to stillbirth, shortly before I lost Katie. At some point while we were desperately ttc for another baby, she sent me this clear round green stone etched with the word "Believe." (Don't ask me why the photo keeps showing up vertically?? -- I swear I keep turning it horizontal...) I put it on my dresser, & started rubbing it for good luck along, with Momma McBear's tummy. (We eventually lost touch, but not before she went on to have another baby, a girl, who must be about 12 now.)

A little later, I made another friend through the same listserv, whose daughter was stillborn. Beanie Babies were all the rage at the time, & she ran a small business buying and selling them. She sent me this stork for ttc good luck. I perched him on the headboard of our bed (!), leaning up against our bedpost, and started rubbing his belly before I went to bed too. (She went on to have at least two more girls, and we eventually lost touch too. But a few years ago, I was looking for articles on stillbirth through Google News -- and found her in article, acting as spokesperson for her local support group's remembrance activities. The power of the Internet...

And somewhere along the way, I found this little unicorn with a keychain attachment. He was so cute, I wound up buying several. One went to my mom, one has occasionally adorned Katie's niche at the cemetery, one sits on the shelf in my cubicle at work, one sits on dh's nightstand, and one has sat atop mine, getting his horn rubbed nightly -- along with Momma McBear's tummy, the green "Believe" stone and the Beanie Baby stork's tummy.

So -- we made the decision to stop treatment, to stop trying for a baby, more than 10 years ago now. Why am I still carrying out my nightly ritual?

Let me be perfectly clear: at my age, I am NOT still hoping for a baby. If anything -- I figure I haven't had a baby after all these years of belly-rubbing, so maybe they're not fertility totems after all. Maybe they've been serving as de facto birth control, lol. If that's the case, I'm certainly not going to stop now, lol.

I'm thinking that once I am finally, definitively though menopause, the stork will come down from his perch & I will put the "Believe" stone away with some of my other Katie-related keepsakes.

But the Momma McBear figurine will always remain on display somewhere, I think (if not within nightly belly-rubbing distance). It's one of the few, concrete reminders I have that, once upon a time, I spent one gloriously happy Mother's Day, basking in joy and hope, because a tiny life was growing inside of me.


  1. I actually think your rituals are lovely. A way to mark what is important to you at the end of your day, and one of those people is Katie. All those rituals tie into her. It's your way of tucking her in, saying goodnight.

  2. Now you've got me crying at work, Melissa. ; ) I never thought of it that way before, but you're probably right. What a lovely thought.

  3. I was going to say something similar--it's not about fertility, really, it's about remembering Katie, and that's a beautiful little ritual. I have a bracelet with Eliza's name on it that I wear everyday, and I kiss it twice when I take it off each night. It's just a way to keep her close.

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I think your bedtime rituals are wonderful, and I love the way they keep loved ones and memories close.

  5. Thanks for sharing these. I love that you do that, I agree with Mel.

  6. That's what I thought as well - a way to touch Katie to let her know you are still with her.

  7. I love this post. I'm welling up reading this. Thank you for sharing your beautiful calming ritual.
    I think I need to start one..

    btw, your bedroom! So impeccably clean and tidy.

  8. @Sparkling Rain: hahahahahha... (re: the tidy bedroom) -- the stacks of books against the wall just to the right of the night table aren't visible -- amazing what a choice of camera angle will do, lol. ; ) (And as for the closet....)

    Thank you (all of you) for the lovely words.

  9. I've been trying to comment on this for days (blaming iPad and the Healing Salons). I think rituals, whatever they might be, that give you comfort, and make you feel close to your daughter, feel love, are to be valued.

  10. LoriBeth. Thanks for sharing. As I read it, I could relate to the wishing aspect of the whole thing... wishing that DH would change his mind, that by some miracle I'd end up pg despit his vascectomy and my endo. But, I have to say, your description of "one gloriously happy Mother's Day, basking in joy and hope, because a tiny life was growing inside of me" filled me with jealousy and sadness. I've never felt the joy of a positive pregancy test, or of feeling a kick from a round belly (unless you count the kicking, stabbing pain I feel each month). I grieve never having those things I never had as if they were literally ripped from my arms. I hope that one day I can find the peace you seem to have found.