Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Slang

I've run into a semantic conundrum. How do I respond to people who ask me about Calla? Or rather, how do I answer the question: "Did you have the baby?"

This is how I've been answering:

"Um, oh. Yes--well, no. I mean, yes, I did. But she died."

Which leads to the invariable "Oh! I'm sorry . . . " and leaves me feeling awkward and bad and like I've just ruined someone else's day.

But what exactly is the correct answer? I mean, Calla was born. It just didn't turn out as we planned. The outcome of her birth is the exact opposite of what we'd hoped, planned, expected. And it doesn't really make sense to anyone--it wouldn't make sense to me if I heard it from someone else.

I've read the term "born sleeping." Like she was taking a little nap and was just SO exhausted, she couldn't possibly be awake for her birth.

"Calla? Calla honey? It's time to get up now. You've been born, sleepyhead!"

Nope, that one doesn't work for me. Neither, really, does "stillborn." That's the default term, I guess. But for some reason that word is scarier to me than the word "died." I mean, what the hell does it signify, anyway? Born still. Still born. Not moving. All those pieces, indeed, fit. They just don't sound quite right. Throw in a comma or two here and there and they take on new meanings all together.

Born, still. Still, born.

Theses words are like daggers in my mouth. I guess I have to stick with my stammering, awkward explanation, for now. My daughter died. My daughter is dead. My baby is dead.

It doesn't make sense to me, either.

I really thought I was doing better. I was actually starting to feel a little bad because I wasn't a total wreck all the time. What kind of grieving mother can go to the grocery store and laugh at the telly and shop for nonsensical frivolities without falling to pieces every five minutes? What has two thumbs and isn't a basket case? [points thumbs at chest] This girl, I guess.

That's the funny thing about grief. Its pointy little fingernails pick, pick, pick at its own scab, and at the merest suggestion it's a flood all over again. I lost it, am losing it, yet again. And it's not going to go away. EVER.

I read something, somewhere (because gosh only know where the hell I've been on these interwebs the past month) about wanting another baby after a loss. The author asked if the griever (we'll call her "I" for ease or reference) wanted another baby, or the one that died.

I thought the question was stupid. Of course I want Calla. I want her almost as much as I want oxygen--maybe more. But I can't have her--all I get is memories. And what I've learned is that like a newborn, memories will rob you of sleep, but you can't watch memories grow up, you can't kiss memories good night, and memories make for a really unsatisfying playmate for my toddler son.

So yeah. I want Calla. I love Calla. But somewhere, sometime, I wonder . . . gah, you know where I'm going. I've run out of words for today.

1 comment:

  1. I read your post just before I headed home from work today. And for a moment, I think I got it, got just how you might be feeling. At least for a moment i think I understood. Let me try another way....when you said, "My baby is dead", it was like I felt all that potential grief that I think as mothers we have waiting at our doorstep at any given moment...I felt it all rush at me at once. I think I saw that abyss. And for just a moment I saw how when you have child and your heart opens up in a way you can't explain, I saw, that for you that was in the same instant taken from you. I don't mean to rehash the pain, but maybe for just a minute you were understood. It is so complex it is beyond what we can imagine. Still with you...