Tag Archive | grief

Unravelled

​I found this poem in my facebook memories for today, and had to look it up to discover where it was from. I liked it so I thought I would share it. 

The book was probably the best one I had on pregnancy loss because it was offering art as therapy rather than just commiserating about the loss. As it turned out, the art form I chose was writing (and my first attempt at NaNoWriMo was an unexpectedly intensely personal piece of fiction that I haven’t been able to even go back and edit because it was so raw, but getting it out helped me I’m sure). 

I like this poem because, while it is heart-rending and painful, it is more beautiful than dark. I hope you enjoy it.

After three months
of silent stitching

what finger let slip

what growing row of cells

unravelled, loosing life and

leaving the lap empty?

– Olson Binder, 1993

Quoted in Grief Unseen, Healing Pregnancy Loss through the Arts by Laura Seftel

Aversion Therapy

aversion

I wrote this post once already, but the evil internet ate it up and it disappeared without a trace, so instead of the beautifully crafted original post, you’ll have to make do with what I can cobble back together from my memory.

A few weeks ago, my mother and brother came to visit us from that London, and on the Saturday they wanted to go to the cinema and the only thing that seemed remotely worth watching was Bridget Jones’ Baby, so we went to see that.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?!

Well this isn’t a review. In a nutshell, it’s a perfectly good and funny film (although I have to say it scandalised my mother! I forgot how rude and sweary Bridget Jones was!) But it is a stupidly inappropriate film for anybody who has recently had any kind of baby loss! I should have realised that, but I guess I felt ok – until the part in the film where Bridget goes for her (first) ultrasound scan, from which point, I was a complete wreck. I managed to contain my emotion outwardly until I got home and promptly locked myself in the bathroom and bawled my eyes out.

I told my little tale of woe to my Recurrent Miscarriage group, and lots of people said they wouldn’t even consider going to see it, one lady wanted to see but couldn’t face it and another watched it like I did and had a good cry afterwards, but she said she was glad she watched it anyway. I wish I hadn’t seen it.

On another note (but somehow related – I couldn’t tell you how my train of thought connected the two), I decided to take a proper break from facebook (it’s all baby photos and happy boasting announcements that make me want to vomit – maybe that’s the connection) and I noticed that an old friend, somebody I had known for years and with whom I had shared life’s traumas and troubles over and over – not just mine, but hers (she was evicted at the same time we were, she has a child with a chronic health condition that took ages to diagnose, as I do etc) had unfriended and blocked me, and not only on facebook but on Twitter as well (all my accounts!)

I was really ticked off because it seemed so petty. But apparently we had had what amounted to a fundamental disagreement.

I don’t actually remember exactly what she had posted but it was something along the lines that Trans people being allowed to choose the appropriate toilet for themselves was an outrage to public decency and a danger to all God-fearing girls.  As I recall, I tried to explain to her that being Trans was a little bit more complex than she probably realised. But she was so determined that she was right that she started making very unkind and wrongheaded personal judgments about one of my children (who happens to identify as Trans) and obviously that was not acceptable. I presume that she deleted me as soon as she realised I wasn’t prepared to let her do that.

Whatever.

Well. I’m prepared to say “good riddance” – that sort of ignorant attitude is not really what I want to surround myself (or my children) with.

But it hurts, to be judged, and to be summarily cut off in that way. And of course it worries me that these kind of attitudes are so prevalent, and I hope that my children can be safe and un-persecuted, whatever their personal choices that don’t hurt anybody else.

So just for the record I thought I would clarify some points about being Trans. I hope I’m not misrepresenting anybody, this is just my take on it all, as a parent.

  1. Being Trans – having gender dysphoria – is not a sin.
  2. Being Trans – identifying with a gender other than your birth gender – is not the same thing as being attracted to or having sexual relations with another person of the same birth gender. That can be the case, but it’s a separate issue. Still not a sin, even if you’re conservative enough to believe that all same-gender relations are inevitably sinful, with no exceptions.
  3. Being Trans does not automatically mean having a sex-change. (And frankly, having a sex-change is not necessarily a sin either!) ed.: I’m wondering what circumstances would make it a sin, actually?!
  4. Being Trans inevitably includes a range of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, fear and confusion. Please don’t add to it. Just be kind! Always.
  5. Being Trans is often seen in teenagers associated with Asperger’s Syndrome (in my own child’s case, gender just does not quite ‘compute’, and the whole idea of any kind of sex is disgusting). Not a sin.
  6. Trans people are not known for violence. The argument that allowing M to F Trans people use female toilets would lead to more rape or attacks on female children would seem to be deeply flawed on so many levels, and wholly without basis. The kind of people who desire to make those sorts of attacks are going to do it anyway, regardless of the law.
  7. Gender identity and sexuality are actually a little bit complex. Not the simple black and white, fixed boxes you might assume. It’s not just a matter of physical gender – it’s genetics, it’s hormones, it’s mental, it’s culture. It’s complicated. Take a step back before you jump in and condemn.
  8. And finally, who the (((bleep))) are you to judge? Get that plank out of your eye, people!

That is all.

Abandoned Hope

Cast off the mooring,

The rope in the boat,

And watched it floating away.

Red Herrings 

In May we started the process of buying a flat. It was beautiful and big, but it had no garden or parking, no garage or storage, and it would have necessitated moving towns amongst other things. It seemed like a good idea at the time – it was a nice town that we all liked and we already had friends there.

But then I discovered that I was very unexpectedly pregnant and the lack of garden and parking suddenly seemed more problematic. The final decision not to go ahead was influenced by the fact that middle son felt very strongly indeed about changing schools (as in”I’d rather die!”) and daughter didn’t even get the place we had been assured was hers for the taking at Sixth Form in the same school.

So we said goodbye to the lovely big flat, with no clear vision of where to go or any obvious options other than staying in the housing association house that’s so unsuitable.

But then… I’m not pregnant anymore.

 I rather wish we had a move to look forward to, as the future is looking pretty bleak right now.

This was my 6th loss through miscarriage and since I’m 45 now, there’s no guarantee at all that there will be any more pregnancies or even any more conception (this baby was 4 long years in the making).

And so I’m beyond sad. I’m absolutely broken and bereft. I can’t see any light, only tunnel.

And the worst thing about all this is that we weren’t really trying to conceive anymore. We had given up. And I was more or less, reluctantly resigned to the idea that there wouldn’t be any more babies. 

But now? I can suddenly vividly remember the feeling I had after I lost my twins all those years ago – the feeling that I could more than understand the desperation of bereaved mothers who go on to steal other mothers’ babies. It becomes an all-consuming obsession to somehow obtain that which you cannot have.

Despite my determination to think positively, look for the good and find treasure in the darkness this year, all I can see now is darkness.

Was there any point in all this? Life seems to have a cruel and sick sense of humour. It seems to have been nothing but a red herring. But I don’t know anymore what I’m meant to be focusing on instead.

The Last Straw

Another lick of paint, to cheer things up. What do you think?

The sun is shining, but I cannot tell you how deeply low and bad and desperate I feel. I didn’t go under when I lost my babies, when my Dad died, when uncle then aunt died in quick succession, when we endured floods, when we lost our house, when husband lost his job, when we had to move 6 times in under 5 years*. I just worked through every new grief like a Trojan. See these big muscles? I’m invincible.

But right now, I am seriously considering admitting defeat. I feel as though cruelty upon cruelty has been heaped upon us, and I have had enough. I won’t bore you with all the horrible things I’m having to deal with right now, but Whistler’s passing might just possibly have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

And the next person to suggest that I’m ‘attracting’ all this bad luck can expect to be beaten to a pulp before I get dragged off to the funny farm.

* The abridged version.

 

RIP Whistler

I wasn’t sure how to approach this, as it is all so raw and painful just now so I will just tell you the facts I think.

Whistler

Whistler was a border collie, born and bred on Strawberry Farm near Retford in north Nottinghamshire in the summer of 2003. He came to live in Watford with my sister-in-law and her husband when they moved down there, and were a constant part of my children’s lives from that point onwards.

In December last year, sister-in-law and her husband asked us to take care of their dogs as they were moving abroad and felt that, at almost 13, it would be too much for them. We accepted as the children were already very fond of the dogs and had wanted to have dogs of their own.

It was soon clear though that Whistler was not happy – to begin with I thought he was just pining for his owners; it was such a massive change of circumstances so late in life. But gradually he stopped eating and started to become weaker and we started suspecting that he was actually getting sick.

Two weeks ago, he started having trouble walking and although when we changed to real meat from the dried food he was used to he started eating again, he seemed to be going downhill and so last week we took him to a local vet.

This vet was pretty unpleasant and rude from the outset, almost insisting that we put Whistler down there and then, implying that he would report us to the RSPCA if we refused, but nevertheless shaving him carelessly, cutting his neck in several places, and took a blood sample for testing, gave us a bottle of antibiotic pills, and insisted we call the next morning with a decision. His ‘diagnosis’ was poor teeth.

I called the next morning and told the receptionist that we would see how he did over the weekend and come in again on Monday evening to discuss options.

He improved massively over the weekend, although it was up and down, and we had decided at that point to give saving him a try.

So when we arrived at the vet on Monday evening we discussed with a junior vet about trying to put Whistler through the operation to fix his teeth, knowing that he was very weak and may not make it through the anaesthetic, but wanting to try and save him anyway.

When the junior vet went to check with the head of the practice though he came out and was extremely rude again, and aggressive, absolutely insisting that we put Whistler down, and informing us that he hadn’t bothered to send off the blood sample for testing! He was also constantly referring to Whistler as ‘she’, which made me see red!

At this point I felt very uncomfortable about staying with this vet and so we left to get a second opinion from another vet, and went immediately to another practice in town.

The difference between the two practices could not have been starker. Where the first vet had been rude, aggressive and unprofessional, the second was kind, gentle, respectful and understanding. The premises were also extremely contrasted. Where the new vet’s was clean, bright and professional-looking, the first one had felt like a dirty, smelly, outback, makeshift shack of a place. Thinking back, I am amazed I even considered trusting the first vet.

The new vet agreed that Whistler was very sick and weak, but said that there were various options and that he didn’t want to condemn him without proper testing. He gave him injections of a steroid, B vitamins and an appetite stimulant and asked us to come back in the morning for blood tests.

In the morning we left Whistler there for blood tests and waited for results. When the vet called, around 2pm it was bad news, but the original diagnosis of ‘teeth’ had been wrong. According to the results it looked as though Whistler had some kind of cancer, either a lymphoma or leukemia. Even then the new vet didn’t condemn him, and said that we could come in to discuss his options.

We all went in together, and after discussing it and deciding that we didn’t want to put him through chemotherapy, we very reluctantly decided that since any other intervention would probably only give him a matter of six more weeks or so anyway, that we would call it a day and let him go.

The children said goodbye and everyone except myself, husband and the eldest waited in the car while the deed was done.

Needless to say it was pretty horrible – not at all brutal (it was quite gentle and quick), but it felt kind of evil, everybody felt awful and there were a lot of tears (and some of us actually howled with grief, I am not kidding.) We decided to leave his body with the vet for cremation as we’re not in our own house and wouldn’t have been able to bury him. That felt pretty dreadful too but couldn’t be helped. We took his collar and eldest held it in his hand on the way home.

So ultimately the result was what the first vet had wanted but I was so pleased and convinced I had made the right decision in getting the second opinion, and had it done in a so much nicer place, where we felt that all the staff were caring and considerate and actually understood how devastating it was for us all.

We’re all a bit shellshocked today.

Whistler is survived by his sister from the same litter, Sapphire.

2015 in review

I thought I would share the WordPress 2015 annual report for this blog again, for a couple of reasons. One is that it’s kind of ironically funny. I think I’ve been less consistent and productive than last year, but I will let myself off for having had a really poopy year altogether.

Secondly though, and more seriously, I notice that the report has included photos that I posted of Michaela Garecht, the daughter of an online friend of mine who was taken in a witnessed stranger abduction in California in 1988, so there’s another chance to draw attention to her case. If it feels as though it is just too far away and too long ago to matter to you, please spare a thought and maybe say a prayer for her dear mother Sharon who is still feeling the pain and torture of not knowing where she is.

When I wrote my post on Michaela, I said that I would write some more posts drawing attention to unsolved cases of missing children. I haven’t, partly because it is such an unthinkably painful and difficult subject to tackle. But as I mentioned previously, I came into contact with these grieving families when I was going through a different kind of grief, and I wanted to help them in a small way. I may still go ahead and do that at some point, with the families’ permission.

One such case is Katrice Lee – the family of whom have endured unbelievable torment since her disappearance 34 years ago in Paderborn in Germany – firstly through the mismanagement of the investigating authorities and then more recently through the harassment of a mentally unwell woman who claimed to be Katrice. I would like to write a proper post for her family, but in the meantime, please visit that link and do your part to keep her story in the public awareness if you can (share that link on twitter, facebook, or whatever). Perhaps, even now, it will jog somebody’s memory so her family can get some peace and closure finally.

On a lighter note, I am just so, so glad to put 2015 to bed, and tentatively looking forward to having a good, happy, healthy, prosperous, successful new year 2016 – for all of us. Thank-you to all my readers and followers who have stuck with me through all the anger, grief, misery, and crazy dreams this year. Happy New Year!

Click here to see the complete report.