Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Signs of trauma manifesto

It is missing.

It's not REALLY a big deal, but...it IS missing nonetheless.

No...it's not my purse, or my tiny wallet with keys attached, or my coat, shoes, or favorite pair of yoga pants. It's not the tootsie pop that I claimed as my own the day before I found out my pregnant belly was a tomb. It's not my cell phone...or a purple dog leash, or the card that entitles me to a free loaf of bread at the local bakery.

No. It's simply my "Griz card". The card that allows me unlimited, free access to the city bus because I am a student at the University of Montana.

Like I told you, it's not really a big deal.

It's just a dumb card with my face on it.

The only reason I mention it at all is that I've had to replace it several times in the past 10 months. I've had to replace it four times in fact. After having had the original card for four YEARS prior to that...I've lost the replacements four times in the past 10 months.

Each time, the picture looking back it me reminds me that I am a very different person than I was 10 months ago. Before my womb became a tomb. The replacement pictures look sad. Bloated. Tired. Old.

It doesn't look like I remember looking.

I keep wishing I could find the original one. The one with the smile, and sparkly eyes free from dark circles. The one where I didn't know my children could die. Not REALLY die. It was an abstract concept. Something that happened to other people...in other countries....for other reasons.

But...anyway, the card...I've been looking everywhere for it; looking for any one of them in fact!

Here is what I found instead of my Griz card:

A receipt from the ultrasound office that said I'd paid for a video that they forgot to take. . .they told me we could do it "next time"...but there was never a next time to see my babies alive.

A bag filled with school papers and studies related to circumcision for a report I was supposed to do last Spring for my woman's studies class, a thick baby name book borrowed from my midwife, a homeopathic vial of morning sickness tablets, a half eaten box of ginger candy and my yellow binder filled with my pregnancy progress. It was the bag I carried from the bus, to my midwife's home....and then to the ultrasound office to confirm that my body was full of death, instead of life. There was a crumbled hardened tissue in the bag as well.

I found a purse filled with odds and ends from my hospital stay. Pamphlets about stillbirth. Papers that told me how I might feel as a reaction to losing a baby.

I discovered, under my bed, clothing that fit me 10 months ago...they had folded nicely under my thriving belly...and had made my butt look great! I hadn't looked for those jeans....because I knew they didn't fit--even though I am not pregnant.

I discovered in the crevices of the couch in my living room about a pound of popcorn, a handful of m&m's, about $10 in change and a list with possible baby names that my husband and I had laughed about...only 10 months ago.

I found my favorite hairbrush in an overnight bag...and a pair of blood soaked pants and a bloody shirt, hardened...crumbled....from the night that brought to light that not only had I lost one baby...but that two babies had called my body home, and that the 2nd had spent 6 weeks rotting inside of me until finally I began to hemorrhage and required that they take him out in pieces to save my life. It was the 2nd time I died in 6 weeks. I guess my husband had had other things on his mind besides trying to salvage the clothing I wore that night.

I found all my childbirth books. Stuffed into a bag. I'm sure my husband was trying to put them out of view.

I found my favorite lipstick that I last wore 10 months ago. It looked strange on this face that has gone without any embellishments...for 10 months. Why put it on if your just going to have to wipe it off when you cry. No...I only wear lip balm now....because breathing through my mouth cracks my lips...and my nose is usually swollen from crying...my eyes have raw marks at the corners. Every-time they heal a little....I lose it again.

I found a "bully stick" that I bought for Ferdinand when he first came home with us. Still in the bag that I put it in. For those of you who are in the dark about what exactly a bully stick IS...I'll spare you the details; but my puppies LOVE them in capital letters. I'd forgotten where it was--so I bought more.

I thought I had put my Griz card back in my wallet the last time I used it. I was taking the boys to Aikido.

It saves me a dollar every time I ride the bus. I have no memory of any other possibility. And in truth....it really doesn't matter. It's just a bus card, with a poorly taken picture of a sad woman.

It's just something I seem to keep losing.

It's only a reminder that I used to be a little more focused. A little less fat. A little more smiley. A bit less scattered.

It's just a card.

It's nothing compared to what I lost 10 months ago. Espesially when you consider the fact that no matter how many times I lose that card...I can always pay ten dollars to replace it.

There is nothing I can do to replace Simon and Alexander.

That's when you call it loss. When you can't replace what is missing. Ever.

Pure loss.


That is the kind of loss that puts losing a plastic card into perspective. It's the kind of loss that explains WHY you lose other, more meaningless, things.

It's the kind of trauma that puts slippery slides where the foothold of your mind used to be.

And so you lose things. Meaningless things. Things that remind you of the real losses you've had.

The losses you can't replace, or find, no matter how hard you look.


  1. Oh Sara! My heart cries out for you today. All my mama friends who miss their babies are heavy on my heart today...I don't know why today... but know that someone has prayed for you, hears your cries and cares for you in this moment.

  2. Sending you LOTS of HUGS and LOVE! xx

  3. i could never say it as good as you do... but i lose everything too. and i freak out about it. and then wonder why do i care, it's just a little thing? just a bill, just a ponytail holder, just a pair of shoes.

    but it does matter, and it feels scary. you literally lose all the control you thought you ever had when you lose a baby, and to lose those little things feels like losing control all over again.

    love from me!!!


  4. I have been having this same thought today: "pictures look sad. Bloated. Tired. Old.
    It doesn't look like I remember looking."

    Sending so much love your way sweet friend. I am sorry that looking brought so many more reminders of loss, the ultrasound receipt, the list of names, not that we ever aren't thinking of them though. This is all just so unfair.

    Losing our children leaves us at a loss for so much else, not the least of which is who we thought we were, and would be.

    hugging you.


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