Saturday, 14 February 2009

A bundle of Absence

Sometimes, when on this horrid road, it is the loneliness that weighs on you. I am eternally grateful for the space created on the net to meet others and overcome this, but, at some point, each of us turns off our computer and takes our heavy heart out into the world.

I don't know anyone in real life, experiencing what I am experiencing. I know a few people who have had a stillborn child. I know a few people who have gone through IVF to build a family. I don't know anyone else (IRL) who has had a child live for a while and then die, or who subsequently has been unable to become pregnant. This is the world I take my battered heart in to day after day, in search of understanding, sympathy and healing.

The difficult thing is that I don't have anything to show for all my work, heartache, courage and pain. It is a burden that is carried silently. Unseen. The presence of a child (whilst not taking away from the individuality of the child and the importance of their experience) tells something, something of the experience of the parent. You know they have a birth story, wakeful nights, love, fear..... It offers an entry point for community. A point of connection, a place where experiences can be compared and contrasted, looked at from different points of view. 

The experience of absence of children is as significant as the experience of parenting, particularly following the death of a child. It is the lack of a presence that is part of what makes this experience so isolating. There is nothing that signifies my loss - and ongoing losses. Nothing to tell the world something of our experience. Our love, courage and heart ache. Nothing that shows years of thought, longing, hope and disappointment. Nothing that offers that point of connection, an entry place, through which people around me can understand a little of our experience. And so, it is largely unseen. Carried quietly, and invisibly with me into the chaos of community life - as many wounds are. I recognise that there are plenty of people with other sorts of internal wounds that I cannot see as I travel in this world. I also recognise that physical representations of trauma (such as burns victims, quadraplegia etc) bring a different set of isolation as many turn away at the sight of you. The pain is too much for some to even look at, and your body betrays your story before you even have a chance to smile at someone.

I wonder though, what would it be like for a parent to have a child that was invisible to everyone else? To live in a world where no-one else had children, and the parents tried to tell the stories of their invisible child to the people in this world. You can see the disjunct. You can see how much people would not understand their experience. You can imagine an invisible child mum meeting someone else who had an invisible child and them huddling in the corner for hours, swapping stories of progress and pain. You can imagine an increasing frustration with a world that while somewhat sympathetic, did not really understand the cause of their extreme tiredness and occasional dysfunction. Frustration at people who could not celebrate their small victories of parenting.

That's how it is for me, carrying Absence, so heavy and obvious to me, but invisible to the world. I am grateful for the few that try to listen and understand, but, ultimately, only my husband and I  can see our "invisible child". I am not talking about Maya, although the loss of her is part of it. It is also all the other losses, the times of opening myself to possibility and stinging from the smart of those possibilities crushed, the friendships that have dissolved, the loss of connection, loss of community, the losing and re-finding and re-losing of faith, the pressure on the relationships I hold most dear....  These are the things that make up my bundle of Absence, so burdensome and so precious, that goes with me into the world.

I wish you could see my invisible child.

21 comments:

Lori said...

Oh, B. You've put a giant lump in my throat.

(((B)))

luna said...

oh B, this post so achingly perfect and eloquent. I think it should be required reading for everyone. seriously.

I rarely say this for fear of being presumptuous, but I will say it here. I hear you and I feel the same. though I could not have articulated it so perfectly. thank you for this.

sending you love and wishing you peace.

Mrs. Spit said...

Invisible children. That's exactly it. I'm sorry, this is so hard.

Me said...

:(

Emily (Apron Strings) said...

B ... once again, you have a way of putting down exactly how I feel about that "invisible-ness" of IF.

Just know that this ... this here blog ... is something that makes Maya, makes your feelings and emotions more visible.

Also, just wanted to let you know that I "tagged" you on my blog. Please come visit.

xoxo

mlg- believe N miracles said...

B, I am so sorry.
I wish the world could "see" our invisible children.
Much love to you.

Michele said...

You speak my heart. It's hard to explain to people that, for those few moments my children lived, I was their mother on earth and not just their mother "in theory". It is such a hidden pain, when others don't see and hence, don't remember.

Sending you a big hug.

Melissa said...

I can't believe I just sat here for almost 2 hours reading... I was so moved by your post on absence, that I went back to the beginning for the whole story. I laughed, I cried, and I was amazed by your compassion, wit, beauty, and strength.

I too have 'invisible' children. My baby girls, conceived with IVF, born at 22 weeks, just this side of viable.(http://melbee1013.blogspot.com/2008/07/grief.html) I too have the lonliness of being the only one I know IRL to experience this horrific pain and loss.

Thank you for writing this. Your words are a balm on my aching heart. Your courage inspires me.

Thank you.

loribeth said...

Wow. Just wow. This is an amazing post.

annacyclopediaisworkingonit said...

This is an amazingly perfect post. I agree with Luna - everyone on earth should read this. Although I wish so many of us didn't understand it so well.

Lori said...

This post is really absolutely amazing. Maybe one of the best I've ever read about infertility. Thank you so much for this.

luna said...

just checking in with you, B. this post, and you, have been on my mind for days. sending you some love from across the globe.

Kami said...

I can see your invisible child.

B, like others have said, this is just perfectly and beautifully put.

I am holding you in my thoughts.

Sara said...

This is such a beautiful post, and so heartbreaking.

I guess that all that I can really say is that I hear you, and that I won't look away.

Nina said...

I do understand. I,too, have had a child and lost it. I've also been trying to get pregnant again with no luck. I'm so sorry for you it hurts. I'm there too. Thank you for putting into words what I've been feeling along with you. You are very brave and strong and surely that means that God will bless you one day, doesn't it? Hang in there, honey. I have faithless, bitter days and I'm sure you do too. I'm trying to have them less often. Just know that I'm thinking of you.

Lisa DG said...

I do understand you, completely. I am here by way of kami's blog. I have been working on the baby thing for 4 years- got real close- and lost my daughter via premature delivery last July 26th. Even while I know there are many like me, and that others have experienced my pain, it definitely feels like a road I walk alone.

Take good care.

S said...

It really is a well written, heartbreaking post. It had so many parallels to my life and the deaths of our daughter, and all the miscarriages. The silence of infertility/IVF/PGD. The vague rumblings in the family that we are 'having trouble'. The agonising wait for the PGD results. The devastation of chromosomal disorders. Little do people know, unless they have walked the walk. Its a tough road... but I'm grateful for the world of internet that brings us together. Because no one in my real life gets it. they just can't. The road we walk, we walk alone.

thanks for this post. You have expressed wonderfully the hurt and longing I feel.

xx

Coming2Terms said...

gorgeous and poignant and heartbreaking all at once...

DAVs said...

What an amazing post. Having failed four IVFs this describes the pain so well. I may very well use some of this in my own blog, just to give my readers insight.
I am so incredibly sorry for your pain. It is awful.

Virginia said...

I would love to see your absent child. Truly.
And I'm sorry.

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