Sap and Sorrow

Sap (scroll down for sorrow)

Baby Man is the best thing ever. Yesterday morning I got up with him, which admittedly JJ has been doing for the most part for awhile now. As I approached his door he was babbling, “Daddy daddy daddy.”  I called out, “Morning Baby Man!” and he said, “Oh! Nice!” and was jumping up and down calling, “Mommy! Mommy” as I walked in.  When I picked him up, he kissed me and said, “Nice Mommy.” Best. Thing. Ever.



I don’t know if I ever really truly confessed here what I a bitch I am. Do you know that after Natan died I did indeed have tinges of wondering, “Why me? Why not any of the other pregnant women I know, especially those who already have living children?”  I know of no worse feeling in the world than lying alone in a dark room, knowing your child is dead, and wishing it had been someone else’s, anyone else’s, and knowing that that’s an evil thought.  It wasn’t a real wish, however, it was a flailing, a desperately jealous desire to not feel so isolated, alone and hurt. I hardly felt human.

My sister, who has had enough pain in her life otherwise, had a daughter two months before Natan died. She lived three hundred miles away and I couldn’t go see her right after she was born, when I was still pregnant. But I just could not connect to that daughter the first time I met her, when she was 4 months old. I love her now, adore her really, and don’t think of her as a shadow baby, but as herself, a crazy little girl. But unlike with my sister’s other two kids–where my love for them was intense and immediate–it took awhile for me to warm up to her.  I was so pissed that I was still the childless aunt. And I didn’t even have to be that for long.

For the most part, I’m better. Having a successful pregnancy and a living baby made it better.

That doesn’t mean though that it’s okay that Natan died, that it happened for a reason, or that it made me stronger.  My time in the hospital, his death, the aftermath and the subsequent pregnancy changed me. Deeply.

I didn’t realize how much while I was still living in the same city where it all happened. I still had all the same friends for the most part, who treated me the same, but with some additional kindness and patience. I know I got bitchy and sullen at times, but they understood.

It’s different now in this new place, where almost no one knows what happened. Absolutely no one in my department knows.  Only two new friends from blog land who happen to live here know (obviously). I have crankiness to me, an edge that I didn’t notice when I was among old friends.  It seemed temporary, as did my darker moods.  But now those moods are part of me because I’m meeting new people who only know of me post-loss.  I can’t make less than cheerful or optimistic comments about pregnancy and motherhood without seeming unpleasant. 

I have a cynicism about academia, about the mission of my field that comes across as if I lack confidence.  My belief that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing sometimes looks like it comes from lack of experience, rather than my actual feeling that we’re all full of it and most of us are too confident in the significance of humanity.

An older colleague told me (in an unrelated context) that teaching is a performance, and he’s right. He advised me to think of myself as going on stage when I go into a classroom. I know that. I’ve always done that. The problem is, before Natan died, I knew my character.  Now I don’t. And far beyond simply the question of teaching, I often feel like my whole life is a performance where I’m not quite sure of my role, and where the director has left the building.

11 responses to “Sap and Sorrow

  1. I just stated in my latest post that I find it easier to hang out with new friends these days, the ones who don’t know, or know, but don’t really know the depths of my sadness. It’s easier to pull of the act of being happy in front of them, imo.

    And don’t beat yourself up about the why me thoughts. What babylost mama hasn’t had them at one time or another?

  2. Thanks, CLC. I’m not beating myself up, just still coming to accept it. It’s kind of amazing in a miserable way to look back at those days with distance, and to finally be able to face my own self at that time.

    I wish your old friends were easier to be around. I feel like I’ve left some kind of womb myself-the old life was so comfortable.

  3. Damn you are a good writer. You need to post more often.

    And I get it. Lots of people by the way, have an edge to them after a serious emotional event and it will show, but not everyone will know why. So maybe you will just look like the academic with a cool, and mysterious edge. Maybe? 😉

    I used to wish terrible things on other people’s children. And other people’s pregnancies. Really. It’s the unspoken awful part of babyloss. Glad I’m not alone!

  4. For me, the performance aspect of teaching is what got me through. For four hours a week, I didn’t have to be the father of dead children – I could lose myself in the material. It was the quiet at home I couldn’t handle.

  5. Oh lord, CDE, you’re so right. The quiet at home. Quiet anywhere, actually, makes me a bit crazy still at times.

    I need to separate my connotation of performance from fraud in the classroom. Funny that I feel that given what I study and teach.

    Aurelia, haha. If there was anything even remotely cool about my persona I could pull that off. I’m more likely to be seen as silly and goofy, which doesn’t go with mysterious. Sigh. The sad clown isn’t fun.

  6. I have already seen it somethere…
    Have a nice day

  7. Last weekend JD’s HS friend stayed with us for a night, in town for another classmate’s wedding. He has three children. Girl, followed by two boys. And just for an additional kick in the teeth, the girl is older than her middle brother by… why yes, five years. And something he said about the age difference between Monkey and the Cub told me he doesn’t know about us. Surprising in many ways, given that one of his best friends (yet another classmate, who didn’t come this time) most definitely knows. He is a very nice guy, a very very nice guy. But I didn’t say anything. It didn’t seem like the right thing to say… and yet, I wish he would know. He is one of the good ones, and I think it’s not that I want him to feel bad about anything he said, or even to feel bad for us. I think I am back to that old chestnut I thought I put away a while ago– I think I simply want him to know that A existed, and is loved.

  8. I understand.

    This morning I randomly told another mother at the park about Natan. Something told me she’d understand, and she did.

  9. i’m late to this but i get it, perhaps especially the academic end of it…the epistemological doubt being read as lack of confidence. stupid certainty, sez me. i frequently wish absolutely horrible things on anyone over-afflicted with certainty in any area of their life, babymaking or otherwise. it is my defense against the pain their attitude – which negates most of my life experience – causes me. perhaps it makes me a shitty, evil person. perhaps living with that is just the price of consciousness.

    you’re making me wonder if new people who meet me find me flippant or sarcastic when issues of childbirth and babies come up. i would say more than half the people i work with now know about Finn, b/c i’ve gone back to the office i worked in four years ago when pregnant with Oscar. but some definitely don’t, one i particularly like, and the other day she mentioned overmedicalized childbirth and i just made some smart remark about how i liked it better the time i wasn’t strapped on my back. which probably wasn’t what she expected. but i didn’t feel like getting into the whole story 30 seconds before running out to pick up the kids. so…yeh, the exposure of bringing people up to speed is sometimes too much to shoulder.

  10. Came across you on Single Dad’s blog…Thank you for writing these things.

  11. Thank you Claire, for visiting.

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