Thursday, November 21, 2013

Recent reading

So many great news articles... so little time. There have been a couple of really good ones lately, though, & I managed to flag some to share here later: 

First, I loved this Remembrance Day/Veterans Day article from the Washington Post about a group of bereaved mothers who take comfort in their weekly visits to the graves of their soldier children at Arlington National Cemetery, and the friendships they have made there. A very different kind of loss than mine (yours too, I imagine) -- and yet, there is a common thread that runs through all kinds of grief that makes it easy to empathize with these women. I understand the comfort they take from visiting the cemetery every week (dh & I still do), and how their grief has changed with the passage of time. And the friendships they have formed remind me so much of the friends I have made since losing Katie 25 years ago -- "in real life" through our support group, and through message boards & blogs. (Although we don't make a habit of meeting in cemeteries.) (I have seen some of them there by chance, though.)

I understood this:
Davis knows that her family and many of her friends think that she would be better off not visiting the cemetery every week.  
“It doesn’t make me sadder,” she says of her weekly visits. “On anniversaries and birthdays it can be sad. But this isn’t a sad place for me. It’s hard for them to understand.”
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From the New York Times, a rare visit to "the island of the dead" -- Hart Island, where more than one million New Yorkers have been buried in a potter's field since 1869 -- including thousands of stillborn babies. In fact, the article is seen largely through the eyes of Elaine Joseph, who has been searching for the body of her baby daughter for more than 30 years. There are strict rules governing visitors to the island;  however, the article suggests these policies may be changing.  Let's hope so.

In the not-so-distant past, it was common practice for hospitals to whisk away the bodies of stillborn infants to be buried in common unmarked graves. Even today, I still hear occasional stories of shell-shocked parents who agree to let the hospital "take care of things" for them, without realizing exactly what this means.

This article is difficult, yet fascinating reading. It reminded me of the Children's Garden at Toronto's Mount Pleasant Cemetery, where the support group we attended holds its annual Walk to Remember every fall. I wrote about the garden, its origins and the walk here, back in 2008.

Beware the comments.

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The New York Times's Motherlode blog has been running a lot of posts lately related to infertility and pregnancy loss. 

Since earlier this summer, Amy Klein's Fertility Diary has been a weekly feature. Forty-something Amy has walked readers through her IVF cycle and the two-week wait, announced a pregnancy -- and then, sadly, a miscarriage -- addressed the "why not adopt?" question,  confessed to baby envy and had her husband take over for a week to answer questions about his experience.  This week's post is something some of us know well -- finding support on Internet message boards.

Sometimes Amy's posts can seem a bit disingenuous -- but overall, I enjoy them. I'm glad the New York Times is giving regular profile to this subject, and I am sure a lot of readers are getting an education in what infertility is really like.

Beware the comments -- some of them have been quite harsh (including ones from people who have dealt with infertility themselves). 

Yesterday, Jennifer Massoni Pardini addressed the difficult issue of finding out, 23 weeks into her pregnancy while living in Chile, that her unborn son had a life-threatening congenital heart defect, and the heartbreaking choice she was faced with making.

And today, main blogger K.J. Dell'Antonia finds herself unexpectedly telling her children about the sister they lost.
I was sad when the baby died. I am happy to have my daughter. I could not have had both... As adults, we take these contradictions, and we just sort of prop them up in the corner of our mind and look at them now and then, hoping that maybe another angle will give us some clarity.

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I don't always care for Leah McLaren's columns in the Globe & Mail, but I loved last Saturday's piece about the taboo topic of miscarriage.
When a wanted pregnancy ends, a world of desired possibility is destroyed. A doorway to an imagined future of laughter, music and silly dancing is slammed shut.  
These silent tragedies are around us everywhere; they are the blood stains on the discarded bath towels, and the pillowcases soaked with 3 a.m. tears. They are real and unacknowledged and, most important, they are absolutely not our fault. We need to believe this, and then we need to talk about it.

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And finally, the now-infamous New Yorker article by Ariel Levy (which McLaren references in her column), detailing the premature birth & death of her infant while she was on assignment in Mongolia (of all places). Melissa at Stirrup Queens wrote about this article here. (ETA: Andrew Sullivan at The Dish also has a thread about miscarriage, prompted by Levy's article.)

The writing is so beautiful, so honest, so relatable to anyone who has suffered pregnancy loss. The certainty that nothing could go wrong (so why NOT fly off to Mongolia when you're 19 weeks pregnant??), the denial, the disbelief when the realization sets in that something is going very, very wrong indeed.
I had been so lucky. Very little had ever truly gone wrong for me before that night on the bathroom floor.

And this, near the end:
But the truth is, the ten or twenty minutes I was somebody’s mother were black magic. There is no adventure I would trade them for; there is no place I would rather have seen.

Me either.

1 comment:

  1. Argh, I thought I had replied to this. I blame the iPad - it makes commenting on blogger blogs very difficult (comments are impossible to edit).

    Anyway, I wanted to thank you for this, and say you've given me much food for thought. I'm going away to read all these articles, and then may come back and comment again.