Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Secret Life

Dear Stevie,
The first couple months of being pregnant with you were the best. Aside from puking at the mere smell of chicken, or eggs, or actually, pretty much everything, and the constant state of exhaustion, and the heartburn (which was only made worse by the fact that I craved hot sauce and would eat entire bottles in one sitting--totally serious), it was awesome. My favorite part about those first 12 weeks or so, was that you were a secret to most of the world. I loved walking around Target, or talking to co-workers in the lunchroom, aware that I had a little baby inside of me, and knowing they didn't know. How exciting! How thrilling! Of course, I wanted to spill the beans so badly sometimes, just blurt out to the cashier ringing up the popsicles I was buying in the middle of winter, "I'm buying those because I'm PREGNANT!" But I also really enjoyed the days when you were a secret. My precious little secret.

Now that you're gone, I'm back to carrying around a secret, only this time, it's not so much fun.

It's like I'm living a double-life sometimes. The Secret Life of a Babyloss Mom.

"She's your average just turned 25-year-old enjoying life post-college. She enjoys going to the beach with her girlfriends, walking her dogs, hitting up late-night happy hours with her husband, and her nonprofit job. Looking at her, you'd never know the secret life she lives: the life of a babyloss mother."

Monday night I went to the big Lady Gaga concert in town with a couple of my college roomies. We put together come pretty amazing Gaga-inspired outfits (see below), and had a really fun time at the show (which was very, very weird, but very, very awesome).

I had to include this one because she is wearing basically a big mop, and it was one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my entire life.

While we were walking around downtown St. Paul, before the concert began, I kid you not, like 50 people wanted to take pictures with us and our awesome costumes. We assumed everyone was going to be dressed up in crazy outfits, but it turned out most of the girls just used the concert as an excuse to dress like, well, skanks (ha), so we were one of the few groups that actually looked Gaga-esque. While we were laughing and taking pictures with strangers, I kept thinking, "these people would never in a million years guess what I've been through the last 3 and a half months."

They see a smiling, giggling girl, who I'm sure they assume is in high school or maybe college, dressed up in a crazy outfit, out having a good time with her friends. They have absolutely no clue that behind the smile, there's a grieving mother. That underneath the silly clothes, there's a broken heart and a wounded spirit.

Sometimes I feel out of place. I'm young, and I'm mainly surrounded by other young 20-somethings. But I feel like I've aged so much in the last nine months or so, since you came into my life and then left it so suddenly. While other people my age are thinking about meeting boys and where the coolest party's at, I'm trying to figure out what to do with my daughter's ashes that are still just sitting on a bookshelf in the living room. The experience of losing a child kind of forces you to grow up, I think.

It's like there are two separate and distinct parts of me: the "normal, happy, goes out and has fun' me, and the 'forever changed, often sad, babyloss mom" me. I guess I need to figure out how to combine the two into one somehow. I'm working on it.

Sorry this was a kind of jumbled and rambling post, Baby. I miss you so much, little girl.



Catherine W said...

I love Gaga's giant mop outfit!

I also loved the 'secret' first few months of my pregnancy. I just felt as though the secret was literally bubbling up inside me and would spill out of mouth! I had one of those buying popsicles moments myself.

I didn't join the land of the baby lost until I was the grand old age of 29 to your 25. Although I think that nobody is ever prepared for this to happen, it must be very hard when all your contemporaries are fretting over such very, very different things. At least I'd got to the age where most of friends were (or are) starting to think of babies.

You look so young and happy in these photographs. I think that Stevie would be very proud of her lovely, fun mom. xo

Rhiannon said...

I can totally relate. Like you, I feel like there are two totally different sides to me now. I think this is part of our new normal and I wish it wasn't so. I would love to not even know what "new normal" means! But here we are and I think we are all doing the best we can.

Looked like a blast of a night! If Lady Gaga could have seen you through the mop outfit, she would have been proud! :)

Curls O Fred said...

I know what you mean. I've gotten to the point where I can spend a few hours with friends and be "normal", and then I slide back to that secret babyloss mom side again. You do look happy in these photographs...and you are beautiful!

Emily said...

I'm 27, almost 28, and most of the people I know or worked with in my old job are doing the "getting married, having kids" thing so I felt right at home getting pregnant when I did. But being a babylost mom does change you. Sometimes over the summer, when I would be doing something fun, or hanging out with friends, I would like "Holy KID just the hell am I doing this?!". But then I would think, "why not...staying and home and moping won't bring him back and if I feel good enough to do this, then I should".
I think being a nurse helped me with this. I would often deal with really crazy shit (like babies dying...not mine, granted), and then carry on with my dinner break or go home on the subway sitting next to people who had no idea that hours earlier I was giving a dead baby his or her last bath. You learn to compartmentalize.
But I hear you about how weird it feels the whole world only sees such a tiny fraction of your soul...and that's all they would want to see. The shiny, Lady Gaga outfit wearing you.
So...despite, and even perhaps because of your babylostness, I wanted you to know that you totally rocked that wicked outfit.

mommy4boys said...

You look awesome for the concert. I am glad you had a great time.
I know how you feel leading two different lives. It's even confusing for us once in awhile. You are doing such a wondeful job in all aspects right now. Stevie would be so proud of her mommy.

Erin said...

When you say that underneath the silly clothes there's a broken heart and a wounded spirit and that you and that you feel out of place...well, let's just say I can really relate to that.

That's pretty much how I've felt my entire life. The whole "having to grow up really quickly" thing has pretty much defined me. Since I was about thirteen, I've pretty much felt like an old woman hiding in the body of a much younger person...with this incredibly sadness and suffering that no one else knew existed or could possibly understand.

Finding that happy medium between a "normal person" and the sad, grieving person that you also are now is really hard. I don't think I've every figured it out.

Anyway, I'm thinking of and praying for you.

Lori said...

Bless your heart. While I totally cop to being an old-lady and not even pretending to have the energy to contemplate anything Gaga-esque (and really, how CUTE are you and your friends?)....this post broke my heart because once upon a time, I did have that age and season in my life and admit that for the most part, I loved them. What's so heartbreaking to me is how acutely aware of so much innocence lost, and I'm not talking about the innocence of pregnancy and motherhood--enormous in their magnitude in their own rights. I'm talking about the loss of innocence that comes with the joy of being young and looking at the world as if everything is your oyster...endless possibilities and roads to travel.

You have been forced to travel one that just is horrendous, and so early on in your marriage and 'real life' after school.

There's so much you've lost, in addition to just your precious little Stevie. It breaks my heart.

Thinking of you.

largirl said...

1. SO JEALOUS of the Lady Gaga concert. LOVE her. Do you follow me on Twitter? I dropped a Gaga bomb the other day but feel weird saying it here, haha.

2. Yes, I totally feel like I'm playing a character and have this huge secret. I always wonder about that.

Dana said...

I often think when I'm out that people just see a woman when they look at me. They'd be shocked to realize that my baby died just 3 months ago, that I gave birth to him knowing that he was already dead. People would just never guess and I'm sure they'd be shocked if they found out. The odd person who has found out has been completely shocked and said something about how well I am doing, just because I'm work. They don't know that I have a room at work where I go to cry, that I am in a constant state of daydream....not really "with it" because my mind is somewhere with Jacob. I feel like I'm leading a double life and so few people know the real me anymore. Sometimes I don't know the real me anymore.

It has also made me wonder what is going on in the lives of the people around me. I am out and walking around so the person who just walked by me at the store or who sat beside me on the subway could have just had something tragic happen to them.

I felt the same way at the beginning of my pregnancy as you did. I loved having this huge secret that only a few people in the world knew. I just revelled in it. When I felt really sick, popsicles were my salvation and I spent ages trying to find BPA free popsicle molds. I sometimes forget how much I depended on popsicles for 8 weeks. Now I see the molds everywhere and it hits me every time. I'll never look at a popsicle the same way again.

Julie said...

i often remember how i felt in those first weeks, when my heart ached for people to know exactly what i was going through, the compulsion to walk up to a stranger on a street or a clerk in a store, and tell them my baby had just died. i am over that compulsion now, but i also often think if people knew about kenny, would they see me in a different light, doing whatever it is i happen to be doing at that moment? (although i haven't dressed up or gone to any lady gaga concerts!) i'm glad you had a good time.

pennynjon said...

((hugs)) I am older than you, but I understand how losing your child makes you feel so much older. Somedays I feel like I can't relate to people around me that are my age anymore. My life just seems so different than theirs. I am still trying to figure out how to pull the old me and the new me together.

Antoinette said...

First I love the outfit and I KNEW that was your bubble wrap intensions lol

Second because of this feeling i have too (the double life) i now walk around looking at all the men and women around and say "Are they a blm or bld?" how many have they lost? were they able to get the rainbow? and these are not just any specific people, even those sporting a baby bump, i wonder is it early? or did they just deliver like I did? I dont even assume anymore that every preggo i see has a baby inside because for 3 weeks i STILL looked preggo...i mean my belly never went flat and I actually got the question once "Oh are u 3 months?" anyway total tangent but point was...i wonder how MANY of those walking next to me wonder that same thing about me? I wonder if people see or hear me laugh if they think "OH im so happy she is over it now" UM not i do still have a sense of humor and that thank goodness was able to come back to normal...xoxo..good post!!

Maggie said...

First, I bet that concert was awesome! I missed her when she came here, but I'm sure it's quite the show!

And yes, I think this type of loss definitely ages you. I feel like I'm a million years old. Some days I look in the mirror and I'm convinced I even look older. It's amazing the kind of 'secret lives' we all lead. I often think that when I'm out, those people just have no idea what I've been through.... can definitely relate! xoxo

Andrea said...


So happy that you were able to take in a little "Gaga"! And your costumes were fab! Its just sad that we have to always equate good times and grief together, as they now go hand in hand. Baby loss mothers have a rough gig, but I would not change a thing having had the opportunity to have Christian with me for the time I did and I know you would not change that either. Though it pains me that we could not change the outcome.

However, I admire your moving forward with life. When it would be easiest to just tuck in and pull the covers over your head, you push forward and live life. I know its not easy by any stretch, but give yourself a big hug for all the effort.

Sending you love and many hugs

Jessica said...

Love the outfits! Seems you feel young while I am around people in their early to mid twenties and now that I am 29 and have gone through 2 losses I feel way older than I did a mere 6 months ago. No one ever said life would be easy but I wish I knew what I was in for. Good for you for having some fun!!! Keep our head up every now and then if we look around something just something may make us smile ;) Here's hoping you get some smiles in the days to come! xoxo

Melissa said...

I agree that it feels like a double life sometimes. I wish everyone could really know and understand what I'm going through but I just know they won't so I often act differently than I really feel. It sucks.

Kelly Jean said...

I love your Gaga costumes. Glad to see you out *trying* to have a good time honey. :D

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