Friday, January 7, 2011


My poor Ed. My 35th birthday is in a few weeks. This morning, Ed asked me, “So where do you want to go for your birthday dinner?” Without warning, I started to cry. And in the midst of my tears, knowing how surprised he must have been, I laughed and said, “What did you have to ask that for?”

This is the world I live in now. Anything and everything can set me off totally unexpectedly, even the most innocuous of statements or the kindest of questions. In this case, I was just struck by the fact that making plans for my birthday should be more complicated than it is. We should have to think about Hudson, pick a specific night, and find a babysitter before we could even think about where we might go. Or, as sounds way better to me right now, we’d make a plan to celebrate my birthday with all three of us, maybe with my girl helping her daddy to make birthday cupcakes or some other such fun. And even worse, I shouldn’t be turning a year older when my girl never will. I live every single day in the world of “should have been.”

Living on the edge of falling apart is exhausting. I feel old, haggard, and so very, very tired. Physically tired and so tired of the grief. I’ve written many times about how wholly changed I feel as a result. My fellow grieving mama, Leslie, whose precious son Cullen was stillborn in September, recently wrote of an experience she had standing on the beach in a fog, where she found herself hoping to see her old self emerge from it holding her son, alive, in her arms. She said she feels like she lives in that fog now. Oh, how I can relate.

Here is what I wrote to her:
So beautiful, Leslie. I have struggled with this so much, as you know from reading.  I remember in the two weeks after Hudson died, I posted on Facebook that I felt more like my authentic self than I remembered ever feeling in my life.  I think about that a lot these days when I feel so unlike myself that I am almost unrecognizable, and I try to reconcile the two somehow.  I think what I meant back in May was that when we suffer a loss so great, so overwhelming as the loss of a child, we are stripped down to our very core-- there is no pretense, there is no artifice, there is no silly gloss on an awkward conversation.  We are only what we are, and in that state, we are capable of loving, of feeling compassion, of appreciating the life we have and everything in it like no other person is capable.  I think in the shock of the immediate aftermath of Hudson’s sudden and totally unexpected death, I was able to see that for what it was and be grateful for it.  Since then, as you describe so well, the grief has shrouded me in a fog, making it much harder to see and recognize and appreciate that essential core, for all I can see is everything that is lost, everything that is missing, everything that will never be again.  But I do believe that core is still there.  It is true that I will never again be the woman that I was before Hudson died, and I do miss that person very much-- I miss the ability to feel carefree, to smile without effort, to go through a single day, sometimes a single hour, without tears.  But I also know that the different person I have become is a woman that I will grow to appreciate one of these days-- I will be a different mother to my children, a different wife to my husband, a different daughter to my father, a different friend to my friends,  than will anyone else I know who has not lost a child, and I think all the people in my life will benefit from that.  Another of Hudson’s gifts to all of us.  Although I would trade all that back in an instant to have Hudson back with me, I know I can’t do that, so over time, I hope that the fog will lessen... it will never go away, but I hope that it will peel back just enough every once in a while for me to catch glimpses of the new person that I have become and feel lucky in spite of it all. I hope the same for you too, dear friend. Thinking of you so often.

On these days (which are so numerous) when I feel so run-down from it all, I need to listen to my own words.


  1. (((hugs))) to you Mandy. Your words have so wise - Years ago, I read this quote: 'Everything that happens has to change us.' I do not remember who said it, but I am constantly reminded how true those words are. As for the fog - what an apt analogy -- when a child dies, one continues to go through the fog, but one does not 'get over' it. I'm not sure if you see it, but in your writing, you show such growth. Be gentle to yourself -- hugs to you and the Penguin. Mariann

  2. Oh Mandy.. through tears I write to you tonight. What beauty you responded to me with.. I don't know if you could have realized in that moment how much your words meant to me. Thank you so very much.
    How beautiful to find this post today, when I have thought of Hudson often and have spoken about her twice to other mommies. Your daughter has a legacy that is so vast and far-reaching.
    We are all living in this fog right now- funny enough the day I stood on the beach I found myself wishing I could stand there forever. Because in that moment, surrounded by everything I could not see (no matter how much I wanted to) I still felt the presence of Cullen's life- of his time with me- short as it was. It's those tiny little moments that I live for- the times when, even in the thickest of grief you still feel the love. The love is what makes living worthwhile- especially in the wake of all that has been lost.
    You are exactly right- we will be eternally different- but knowing that others might benefit from that is truly a gift. I hope you might remind me of that when I find myself in my darkest of places.. they seem only a heartbeat away at times.
    Thinking of you, Hudson, and Jackson.

  3. Mandy,
    I did a bit of research for you regarding your search for a new doula. I found, The Magic of Motherhood, which I beleive is in your area. Jill Chasse is a doula but also speacializes in grief and bereavement for parents who have had a child die (either before birth or after).

    I so hope the fog lifts for you!
    Always thinking of you and learning from you each day.

  4. I remember feeling like I was 300 years old, and not recognizing the sad face in the department store mirror as my own. You're in such a hard place. Praying for you.

  5. We are still here, still thinking about you & caring for you from afar, Mandy. I know your grief is so unrelenting. Praying for peace and comfort for you, always.

  6. I just stumbled across your blog, after a search on google, and I'm so glad that I did. I had GD with my first child, a boy born May 2009. And now it looks like we have about the same due date--May 23--and I just had my 20-week U/S where they found an EIF. I have a level 2 scheduled for tomorrow morning for follow-up. I didn't realize the connection between GD/EIF/DS, but I'm just going to try to enjoy this pregnancy as much as possible.
    I hope you can do the same!
    I use a midwife for all my prenatal and L&D and I encourage you to do the same, with or without a doula. They are more relaxed and able to help without the medical stuff getting in the way (but they will use it if necessary).
    God's blessings!

  7. Thinking of you today, and Leslie too xoxoxo

  8. Don't forget that you have all those pregnancy hormones "helping" you out with the unpredictable emotions too. That's quite a double-whammy - one or the other sends all rational people into totally irrational territory, and you have both. Be gentle with yourself. Take care.

  9. Hugs to you. We are snowed in here (kind of a rare event) and I can't help but think of Hudson.

  10. I thought of Hudson in her pink snow suit today, too, as we are snowed in as well.

    We're with you, around you, in front of you and behind you when you're in the fog--loving you, praying for you, here for you.