Sunday, December 16, 2007


The babies in Mr. ABF's family came at the end of summer. Mr. ABF, who had been doing rather well all things considered up to this point, took a self-imposed break from his family, close and extended. A month or so into the silence, he received a phone call from a mediator relative, speaking the "concerns" of others, who told Mr. ABF that perhaps he should "quit moping, suck it up, and get over it." Mr. ABF nicely told him he was grieving, not moping, and he'd deal with it on his own sweet time, thankyouverymuch. (There might have been a few more swear words in there.) The overall message came through loud and clear: according to a number of family members, six months was really time enough to mourn a child, and now it was high time to return to happyville where people danced and rejoiced in the streets about live babies and bought them copious amounts of Carters.

Days after this conversation, Mr. ABF received a text message from the mom of one of the babies, and arguably the closest relative (and spouse) we had cut out, both emotionally and geographically. She informed Mr. ABF that mediator relative of the rude phone call did not speak for her, and we should take our time. Mr. ABF wrote back something about reconnecting, and she shot back: "It's not reconnecting. You will never have to 'reconnect' with us. It will always just be hello." We knew these two, and baby, would be patient, kind, and have our backs even in our silence.

Last Sunday after the other side of Mr. ABF's family stood us up at Maddy's memorial service, I had an epiphany: I thought we had a supportive oasis in them, but I realize now the only thing going for the asshats was that they didn't have children. On the other hand, the relatives with baby would have gone to the service with us. In driving snow. We could've told them that space was limited, and they would have gone anyway, walked to the top of the parking garage, and lit candles there. And so I decided: Baby be damned, we need them. We need the support. Mr. ABF needs the support. Right now, it's more important that we be around people who give a shit. I told him to call them.

And yesterday they came for dinner. My last full conversation with them was February 18: they were in the car on the way to deliver dinner to Bella and the caretakers, and I told them we were removing Maddy's life support. When I came home that night, I simply asked them where Bella was, went upstairs, and that was the last I saw of them until yesterday when they entered my house, now with their son. It was a bit familiar, and a bit awkward, and a bit sad. There were the proverbial laughter and tears, and at times one intermingled with the other. They tried desperately (and at times, rather comically) hard to shove the baby in a corner and not discuss him (which actually worked fairly well seeing as he slept a lot of the time), I desperately tried to peek at him occasionally, gauging my nausea, and had Bella run and pull a toy out of the outgrown toybox for him.

The dagger in the heart came when I was making salad for dinner. I opened my refrigerator and there, on the middle shelf between the milk and peanut butter, was a baby bottle. And the entire six days came flooding back in a millisecond. All I could see were the tiny, yellow-topped plastic, carefully labeled bottles of breastmilk waiting to be transported to the hospital. And the memory of opening the freezer a few days after Maddy's death and finding a couple of bottles tucked in there that were summarily washed down the drain and forgotten until yesterday. And the never-before-thought wonder if any baby had been able to take advantage of the milk I had donated. And the abysmal realization that I will in all likelihood never feed another baby again.

It sucked horribly. It hurt like hell. But we'll see them again, the rellies with the baby. I'm not sure about the asshats. We're trying to work our way through that landmine as I'm sure they have no clue they did anything wrong, or that we're remotely perturbed about last Sunday. I'm fairly sure they think they're doing us some sort of favor by not calling and "interfering" with our "private time" or whatever the hell.

This time of year is just so magical, isn't it.


Hekateris said...

I'm glad you were able to connect with people who love and care about you, even though it hurt like hell.


meg said...

I'm truly glad these relatives could be supportive. I would have found the baby hard, but to have family be there for me...I might have been able to manage.

It shouldn't be this way. We should have our entire family there for us, so we can choose who we want to be with, and when. So it can be about us (you know the ones who need the support), not about them and how uncomfortable this whole thing makes them feel.

The thought of you looking at that bottle in the fridge, is heartbreaking.

Depressionista said...

I remember getting those same kinds of "get over it" comments at around six months after losing our daughter...which was especially hard because for me, that time was for some reason the deepest, darkest time of grieving for me. I'm sorry Mr. ABF got those comments, but glad he stuck up for himself.

I'm glad you were able to face the pain of seeing the good relatives...but sorry it hurt so much.

charmedgirl said...

asshat relatives never realize they are the asshats. what, you think it's about you and your dead baby? we need to talk about who's making the string bean casserole for xmas so get over it already. seriously, they are that stupid. i know. i'm sure i don't have to tell you. sh*t if it's not annoying, though.

god...the baby bottle. little things like that can shoot straight to the core of our beings. i am finding it's never the obvious that hurts as much as the completely blindsiding tiny little sidenotes.

six months? seems like they're going to be "pretty annoyed" when they realize that you will still grieve her in six years...six decades. it's good that you broke the seal with some good, supportive family. and pretty ballsy on your part.

samill said...

I too am glad you have some support around you, everyone needs that.

I had tea at a friends house yesterday and one of the girls there had her 3 month old with her. It was hard, Harvey would have been 1 month old now, if he'd come on time.

Funny how these things seem to spring up on you out of nowhere and take you unawares.

niobe said...

I've frequently thought of getting in touch with my stepbrother and sister-in-law. The ones whose baby is exactly the same age the twins would have been The ones I haven't spoken to since the twins died. The only ones in my enormous extended family of siblings who sent me a card expressing their sympathy.

But, after reading this post, I don't think I'll ever speak to them again. I know that wasn't your point at all, but I don't think I could bear it.

Julia said...

Oh, that must've been hard. And the bottle... Just heartbreaking. I have a lot of issues about my milk still. About nobody getting any use out of it. But I just couldn't put my family through watching me pump, you know?

I am glad Mr.ABF, both of you, really, have some supportive family in your corner. Screw the mediator relative. He should go hang with my MIL. Might keep all of them away from all of us.

Becaro said...

Hi, I just found your blog. I too am a member of the club no-one wants to belong to. I had two still born babies, (About 4 years apart) and a miscarriage. Funny thing is, those in the club know you never! "get over it" you get used to it. I am lucky enough to have 4 healthy kids, but to this day, my heart breaks anew at the thought of the babies I didn't get to keep.

Searching said...

Wow, that took alot of courage! I'm so glad you have SOME sort of support system now, albeit with baby. The rest of the family tree sounds like a bunch of egocentric pains-in-the-ass. Glad you are done with them, as much as you can be.

I'm so sorry about the baby bottle. I can't imagine the punch it the gut that was.

The liver kid (who is still alive by the grace of God) turns out to have some unidentifiable mitrochondrial disorder. His brain is halfway okay though. He's jacked up though, and is so incredibly sad. It makes me want to cry to look at him. He gets IV pain meds every 2h but he still cries out in between and breaks my heart. He is gorgeous too. I spent alot of time last night talking to him and apologizing. Sometimes I had to change dressings, which hurt him, and sometimes I just felt bad that he hurt at all. But it made me cry for Maddy. I actually think about her, and you, alot.

Waiting Amy said...

I'm glad for you that someone from Mr. ABF's family is stepping up. But I'm sorry it was so painful.

Each small step is a forward one.

Kaleb's Dad said...

Wow... you got six months? I was still in the hospital the day after my son was born and my own mother told me that I needed to go back to work... that went over sooooo well with me (and frankly I did have to stop my wife from killing her).

A day after we got back from his funeral I had to be back at work and not a damn soul has asked me how I am doing since then. Apparently dads aren't s'posed to grieve for the trip into deadbabyland.