Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Labor

It has been, as you can probably tell, another string of hard days. On days like this, mostly all I feel like writing is “I am sad. I am sad. I am sad. I am sad. . .” over and over again, knowing that in a million years, these words would never communicate the depth of this pain. Our lives in Hudson’s absence are in such stark contrast to what they were before; the grief feels much like a being caught in a vise, the tension of which we simply can’t control or predict. And some days, I feel like I just can’t, won’t, make it through.

But I can’t go one more day without saying something important. So many of you have posted comments and sent messages of many kinds to us saying that if there was anything you could do to take away even a little bit of our pain, you would. I know this is true. I also know that there is nothing you can do that can take away the pain, now or ever. The pain will be with us and part of us for the rest of our lives, which is yet another layer of this unbelievable loss.

But I know something else is true, too. Back when I was pregnant with Hudson, our Lamaze instructor/doula used to tell us that there was nothing we could do during a drug-free labor that would take away the pain. But there were things we could do that would change the sensation of the pain—breathing techniques, different positions, motion, heat, meditation. And when I went into labor with Hudson, I discovered that the doula was exactly right. During the twenty-seven hours that I labored with her, without drugs, the pain went from uncomfortable to miserable to excruciating. There were many, many moments where I believed I would never make it without an epidural.  The pain never went away. But using all the comfort measures we learned beforehand, we were able to change the sensation of the pain. Despite my doubts, I was able to bring that precious creature into the world naturally, just like I wanted to.

This is a labor of a much different kind. I survived a drug-free labor and delivery partly because I knew that it would eventually end and that the ending would be glorious. Not so with this terrible pain—it will never end and nothing wonderful is waiting if we could just get to the other side of it, because there is no other side. But still, comfort measures work. Love, support, prayers, thoughts, shared tears, comments, messages, phone calls, visits, cards, memorials, tributes, memories…all of these things help change the sensation of the pain. I remain so incredibly grateful to all of you, those I know and those I don’t know, for continuing to coach, coax, and encourage us, for crying, screaming, and grieving with us, for continuing to believe and tell us that we will make it through, despite our doubts. So thank you.

7 comments:

  1. Kate Ackley ZellerJuly 21, 2010 at 4:41 PM

    You are a strong woman, Mandy.

    And we are the ones who are grateful - grateful that you allow us to mourn with you and Ed.

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  2. Thank you and Ed so much for sharing so much of yourselves and your little girl.

    And please ignore this if it makes no sense or seems totally off-base, but as I was reading this, I was thinking how it's true this labor will never end, but maybe this labor you're enduring now will be like a backwards labor-and-delivery. Like right now, you're in "transition" - the pain is excruciating and pretty much constant. At some point, maybe more often than not the pain will be less constant and less all-consuming. And at some, still-further point, between the painful "contractions", you will be able to experience true joy, laughter, and happiness again (it will be different, of course, no doubt changed by this new "labor" you'll have endured by that point, but will still be true and still be joy). I don't know. I do hope, though.

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  3. Mandy,
    I am so sorry for the loss of your beautiful daughter. Losing a child suddenly makes one feel as you say that the pain is never ending. People talk of being courageous because we continue to breathe and walk and make it through each day. As a grieving mother like you I'm here to tell you however you feel is the way you're supposed to feel. Crying all day, screaming, wailing, sitting, simply staring are all parts of the grief we endure and sorrow we hold after losing a child.

    I hope you are gentle with yourself. Please know that you are not alone. Thank you for visiting my blog. I take so much comfort from your words. I hope there is some comfort in mine to you.
    Jackie

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  4. Every time I think of posting some response I hope will be helpful, I am humbled by what you are enduring and with what courage you are enduring it. I'm here though, breathing in awareness of your pain, connecting with it and breathing out a prayer for healing to you and Ed and all who share the painful knowledge of loss.
    E.

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  5. I saw your comment on Glow and wandered on over. My daughter died soon after birth on May 14th. I just wanted to send you some love tonight and let you know you are not alone in this.

    I also wanted to tell you about the website a fellow baby loss mama started: http://facesofloss.blogspot.com/
    Please share your story if you like.

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  6. Mandy,
    Just WOW. No really. WOW. I absolutely love the analogy you have constructed here, and like Andrea said, this may well be a backwards sort of labor. We who love you both hope so anyway.

    But I have to disagree in one sense - you are laboring under a terrible burden now, but there is an "end" and there is a purpose. When you do get to the point where the "contractions" are diminished to being hardly noticeable, and the joy you felt at Hudson's birth has returned in it's new form, then you will have crossed the threshold to "the end." Your grief will never truly go away, but once you reach the end point, you will be able to look on this journey as a whole package, and I for one believe that it will open so many more doors to you then you can see right now.

    As to the purpose, clearly Hudson was here to motivate, challenge and love you. That was her purpose, and she did it for 17 months (plus those other 9 when you carried her). In her death she gave you another set of purposes - to plumb the depths of your soul, to strengthen your ties to Ed, to renew your connections with so many friends and family, and to guide us all who know you in the ways we can be better parents, better friends and better spouses. My sense is that you and Ed might well have done all that anyway - its one of the many reasons I am so proud to call you both my friends. But This tragedy has opened for you the opportunity to explore those purposes in ways you would not have otherwise imagined.

    So you are succeeding at this labor, just as you succeeded at the labor of bringing Hudson into the world. You are meeting your pain head-on, instead of hiding from it as too many people do. And though I try to write here as often as I can, the truth is that in your labor,and your success, you are so far ahead of me in so many ways.

    Which brings me back to this - WOW

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  7. I'm looking forward to a day when I can feel good for you again -- like I always used to when I saw you with Hudson. It may be a ways off. When it comes it won't mean anyone will have forgotten your baby or your loss and how it destroyed us all. But I trust it will come and I'm comfortable waiting.

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