Jul 29, 2010

Buried in a T-shirt!!??

Diving deep into the wreck this week, friends.  I didn't intend to be such a mess but it feels fine to me.  I'll make this quick so I can stop ignoring my son, left alone to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse once again.  I've needed this week to do/have something tangible for Brynn, and someway of connecting with her as well as the baby in my belly, who both feel just like figments of my imagination lately.  I've become increasingly curious about what Brynn was wearing to be buried in, one thing that did not occur to us in all our shock and grief during the week between her birth and her burial, six months ago today.

I've been meaning to contact that beautiful soul of a funeral director, Matthew O'Neil of Middleboro MA, and ask him if I could buy the same gown she had worn.  He was gracious as he always is, but he said he didn't provide anything.  The hospital had provided an "outfit."  He didn't know the name for it.

No problem, I'll just call the hospital and ask them.  It's almost comical, when I call the maternity ward and introduce myself as Teresa Foley, whose daughter was stillborn there on January of this year, "Uh, can you please hold?"  I got transferred around to a voice mail, and called back.  Once again, I was immediately put on hold.  Clearly, nobody wants to talk to the dead girl's mom!

Finally, a nurse got on and I was able to ask what theydress stillborns in.  She said all they would have are T-shirts.  ARE YOU SURE?  Yep.  What about a diaper?  Maybe.  Now, most people don't know this but stillborns still poop.  Brynn did all over the blanket they initially wrapped her in.  A Mother F-ing t-shirt.

I keep telling myself it's just more thing I have to let go.  I could have bought her something, I could have given them her take me home outfit I had packed and with me at the hospital.  Brynn, I'm sorry.  I know you don't care but I do.

Thanks be to God for google.  What did we do before google?  I looked up baby burial gowns and found this wonderful project http://www.marymadelineproject.org/ that takes donated wedding dresses and volunteers lovingly make burial gowns for premies and stillborns, and they are right there at hospitals ready to go, no need to contact anyone, think about anything.  I contacted them, joined their cause on facebook, please consider doing this, which is what they need more than anything right now as they are close to having the coveted status of 1500 supporters, and I'll be sending them my wedding dress. 

I got a reply over the weekend - they will send me a gown for whatever comfort that will bring me, and will put Brynn's name in the tag for any and all gowns made with wedding dresses donated in Brynn's honor. 

As one of my fellow pregnant-after-stillbirth moms told me, It's not enough but IT HAS TO BE.


These ladies sent their wedding dresses in Brynn's honor.  I know of others who have sent dresses, too, and I'm sure there are those I don't know about still.  Thank you, you have alleviated some pain in the world.

Jul 27, 2010


This is not going to be a "feel good" entry. I usually wait until I'm out of a funk like this before I write, but I've already waited awhile and maybe sharing this with you might help me through it.

Where do I begin? With the thing that hurts the most. At first I didn't string anything together, but in the past few months, I have lost contact with some previously very close friends. These aren't my only friends, thank God, but they made up the majority of my inner circle. These friends had all been there for me fully in the early weeks after Brynn's death. They don't know eachother, they don't even all live in the same state, but one by one they each stopped returning calls, and last week I couldn't help but notice this pattern.

I've asked other moms in my position and this is a very sad but typical side effect of surviving a tragedy. It's not just that people get back to their own lives. We had been a part of eachothers lives for 10 - 20 years already. I've started to feel like they are deliberately distancing themselves from me. I know I've changed.  Maybe I became aloof. Maybe I scared or offended them.  I suspect I may have gotten a little too real once or twice in my coping process. I suspect that possibly they are coping with my story by removing themselves from it. It feels unfair.
Now more than ever, I value and protect my self esteem too much to attempt to maintain a friendship that's not reciprocal. I truly wish you all the best, I love you, I forgive you, I cut you loose. I work with the willing.

(Editor's note:  Ahem, it occurs to me after finally hearing from a few of those afformentioned distanced friends, that I may have jumped to conclusions about why I hadn't heard from them.  Turns out summer can be an extremely busy time if you're used to having kids in school, and perhaps not everything is about me all the time :)
All that, plus my sleep and work and parenting a very active four year old schedule, affords me little time to socialize, even with my husband, and our marriage has grown strained as it did in my last pregnancy. And socializing with anyone other than my closest friends is still exhausting. Exhausting because I have to pretend to be fine. Because I feel like I have to protect acquaintances from thinking about my dead baby, and it feels too restrained to purposely avoid talking about her, she is as much my life as my son is. So, this leaves me feeling very alone.

I've lived in Massachusetts for ten years now, and I will always feel like an outsider. I'm reading a book now called I Carried You by Angie Smith, who's daughter Audrey Caroline was diagnosed "incompatible with life" at her 18 week ultrasound, and lived for 2 hours after she was born. Angie felt like it was wrong not to tell her whole story to any stranger who may have innocently inquired about the pregnancy, or the occassion for the dress she was buying for Audrey's funeral. She must live in the South or the Midwest. I think that I would like to try to do that but I just don't think the people I encounter here in Massachusetts could handle it. I feel like it would be rude to do that to them. There are so many mysterious codes for small talk here, and such a general fear of depth, especially too soon, that I have infered that this is something you just don't do here. I started working at a school in April, and no one there knows my story. When I consult for my home party business and people ask me if Shane is my only child, I say yes. But he isn't. And every time I say it, my lonliness compounds.

There is a strength to showing how vulnerable we are, and I think if I could embrace that more, I'd do better.

Today, on my commute to work I was crying, pleading with God for some relief. I could harldy see the road through my tears. I gave in to my sorrow, to my lonliness and isolation, and I let it all out in the only moments of the day I had to be alone. In the same moments I slowed on the highway as traffic built up behind an accident. Then I stalled out. Then my car would not start. I grabbed my things and started walking toward the accident to wave down a police officer and ask that they push my car over. I snapped back into confidant mode and handled the ordeal bravely, not even letting the state cop bully me into taking a tow truck he called when my freebie was on the way.

What was the point of that? I don't know. I'm good at that sort of situation. I'm good at holding back my tears, my hurt. But I don't want to be good at anything anymore other than authentically me, broken, lonely, grieving, heart broken, and crazy. It is far far too exhausting to pretend to be anything else.

Jul 12, 2010

Her Feminine Influence

I have a friend who is, what's the word without sounding too woo-woo, well, I'll just show you. She met a lady at Target shopping for baby swings about a year ago. Somehow, they exchanged numbers and became fast friends. When their friendship was still new, She asked her Target friend who Ann Marie was. Her Target friend was taken aback. My Father's wife, why? My friend was receiving messages from this woman's father, who had died a year earlier. She somehow knew secrets that only her Target friend and her father knew, up until then anyway.
No joke.

So since Brynn died I was hoping for some kind of exchange like that with her. I finally got one. At Shane's party, and at a playdate the week prior, my friend told me that it was like Brynn was attached to me like a koala. As if I was wearing her in a wrap. Brynn has felt closer to me as of late. I find myself casually mentioning things to her, "this is yours, Brynn," or "where's my earing, baby?" When I feel her near, I take more care in my appearance.

Actually, I've embraced her influence in my appearance since the first week. I wanted to look as good as I could for her at her burial. I wore makeup, jewelry, and a pink overcoat. I was overwhelmed with this instinct that girls like their mommies to look pretty.

I remember kind of fighting the color pink when I was pregnant with her. I didn't understand why EVERYTHING for a girl was pink. It seemed oppressive to me in a way. What occurred to me after hours of observing little girls was that they do it on their own. Little girls embrace the inherently feminine. This is something I fought against for most of my adult life, but now, that's changed. To honor Brynn, or simply to go with what feels like her influence, I wear jewelry, a little makeup, and my prettier tops that hardly got any wear last year. I bought pink mary janes. She is in my thoughts now for every accessory purchase. I adorn myself to honor her, and all that she would have shown me. It feels like a relief to cease fire on the color pink.