I started writing another epic Facebook status update earlier and realized, like my friend Ruthie said, I’ve been writing all along… just not here. With how senseless FB has been in banning me over picture after picture of baby booty or babies on boobies, it seems silly of me to be such a mule for their benefit instead of just locating my brain drainings on a site I pay to own and am ignoring. I also finally realized and moreover, have come to embrace that there is no day that is going to come where I’m going to burst out of my grief and have the next chapter all summed up, world hunger solved, wars ended and everyone home in time for a locally, sustainably grown dinner. It’s just not going to happen. There self, I said it.
Since the time I last wrote, my Facebook page has nearly reached that shimmering 20,000 “likes” status (and nearly as many here) that I used to think qualified real and experienced bloggers who had some sort of schpiel, smarts, snark and schedule worked out (‘The 4 Ss of Successful Social Media?) to make themselves and their pages unique, interesting, admirable and entertaining… yet here I am in that very seat with none of the things I thought would or should be here, in my heart, head or online presence.
I feel like there should be some sort of an event, an epiphany, an obvious breakthrough or change to accompany the numerical one. Most pages I’ve seen approach the 20,000 mark get excited and ask for shares to help reach that elusive number… I feel like I’m not there yet, I still don’t know what I’m doing and I feel like I should by now. So, instead of trying to push myself over the mark, I’m going to take this as an opportunity to attempt to distance myself from it and weed out the people that don’t want to be here, before I get some random influx of people that are just going to judge me sooner or later for being exactly who I said I am in the first place.
The distance between now and the last time I wrote here (which is actually a new “here”, since I’ve switched to WordPress from Blogger) feels like 20,000 leagues under the “blue and lonely section of hell” Stephen King refers to (within the 1000 Oceans Tori Amos refers to -video at the bottom, if you make it that far. Nearly all of my dreams have been of the sea lately, but I digress… Where were we? Right: 20,000 leagues) instead of as many people drawn to it.
I know my page didn’t get popular because of my writing- the last time I wrote anything, I had just over 4,000 likes. I’m at this mark because my son somehow died and I somehow didn’t, and people don’t realize that either of those things are possible. They are both utterly incomprehensible, inexplicable happenings that warrant facts that other people can list and use to prevent these things from happening to them. With SUDC, there is nothing even I can do to prevent it from happening again, even with my existing children. It continues to haunt my days and I have no comfort to offer.
When your baby dies, you don’t die because the Universe doesn’t let you, not for the lack of wishing, not for the lack of sorrow- unless you do. But if you don’t somehow follow with spontaneous separation from your earthly body, it will continue to function; eventually you have to pee and the kids are hungry, the dog needs to go outside, the mail comes with more bills and before you know it, some time has passed and that most painful point in your life is a few minutes farther away, and a few minute points less visceral until the next wave comes. That’s all the comfort I have managed to find.
Sometimes I feel like everyone’s gathered to witness a train wreck, or that maybe I’m in the middle of one and can’t see the forest for the trees… I’m in no position to know better. I do know that a huge part of myself will forever be aching, darkened and vacant- but in my better moments, there exists a larger space that is full of love and gratitude for the short time I was granted with Patrick, and all that I took in- and will continue reflecting on- during that time for the rest of my life.
That said, it’s time to clear out the cobwebs around here and try and make some progress on my writing instead of just in the numbers- the balance is way off. To correct it, I plan to try and write here more often (maybe some set amount of times a week?) to raise my number of posts per month and also try and shrink the number of followers that I am trying to counterweigh by sharing some things I do know about myself that have caused others who came to pity, scoff or judge to dislike me, in no particular order:
- This blog and my Facebook page are in no way limited to parenting, and neither am I. I am just as likely to discuss human rights as I am parenting, health, braiding, coffee, music, tattoos, or some new thing I just learned or laughed at, the same as if we were hanging out in real life. Not everything for people who have had kids is about parenting. No person or parent is limited to a single facet.
- I have no set way of parenting to teach. Not one of my own, Dr Sears’ or anyone else’s. I have no degree in anything. I can’t even attest that “Hey, at least my kids are all alive!“… not that I am, or anything else has been found responsible for the loss of PatPat’s life, (or that I didn’t spend all of it giving him what I felt was best) but it’s still the cold, hard truth. My best parenting efforts gave me a son that simply ceased to live one night, for no reason anyone can find. Maybe someone that’s happened to isn’t someone you want to take advice from. Maybe I did something unknowingly to cause it that I will unknowingly encourage you to do, too. (Which is the heaviest thought possible to bear.) Maybe I’ve contracted cooties that will infect your kids just by you reading this. I honestly don’t know, and neither does anyone else. I’m not here with many answers, I’m here with questions and sometimes observations… I’m seeking information mostly, not dispensing it. (I do share what I find, though.)
- Sometimes I get fucking sad. (And curse like a sailor. The two are not entirely related.) I’m not rainbows and Rumi quotes all the time in the same way that not every post has to be tied to the loss I’ve experienced in my life. When I’m stuck in my grief, I may rant, say negative things, be reactive or even offensive. I’m a human and my baby died. It gets to me and it comes out, sometimes in writing. I reserve the right to my feelings and to talk about them. I also reserve the right to make mistakes and not dwell on them longer than the time it takes to learn from them.
- Sometimes I post a lot. Sometimes, I don’t post at all. I don’t have any sort of schedule and I haven’t touched my blog in months, so if I have ever wanted to call myself a writer, I’m failing miserably at even trying. I was thinking maybe by now, I would have something together, a thought, a post, a something and instead I’m sitting here writing, “Nothing to see here! Just some struggling human…” instead of something inspired and original. Se la vie.
- I post about ending prohibition of cannabis and support the legalization and taxation of both medical marijuana and industrial hemp. If you want to keep your misinformed opinion, just go now. (And come back after you’ve watched The Union) This is not an invitation to debate, this is me telling you that I have a stance here, this is my page and if you don’t like it, you can leave the same way that you came in.
Part of the reason this is worth mentioning now is because after Patrick died, instead of bereavement support, I had CPS and the police at my door trying to take my older children, arrest me and place my son’s death in my lap all because I have always been open about marijuana, and there are common misconceptions that even the CPS worker had. “Well, your kids could eat some and overdose and die.” for example. Nope! No, they can’t, and that’s exactly what I said to her face, so I have no problem saying it here.
The fact that marijuana is still a schedule 1 drug, (viewed in the same way as heroin, instead of as a medicine that has allowed me to stop taking any pharmaceuticals- even after the loss of my (marriage, father and) son) made me a target for county services instead of a newly bereaved mother who was supported by them, at a time I needed that support more than ever. Yes, I support the legalization of marijuana- yet this, like my loss, is only a portion of who I am and what I believe, and isn’t tied into everything I post, either.
Have I lost you yet?
What if I tell you that…
- I’m not religious. Yes, your child can die, you can live, and not “have faith”. I appreciate when people pray for me just as much as I appreciate if someone wanted to dance naked in the forest for me (I mean on their own time, guttermind…) or chant something, make a prayer flag, meditate, draw words in the sand, what have you. It’s all sending good intentions and energy, I get where it’s coming from and where it’s meant to go. I don’t desire or feel the lack of anyone’s god(s) in my life. I feel connected to everything, but I’m still finding out what that means and how it applies.
- I’m pro choice. Her body, her choice. The end. (Though I still support bereaved mothers of pregnancy loss at any stage of pregnancy. Those mothers had no choice.)
- I’m VERY MUCH for marriage equality. Sexual preference, skin color, age or which restroom you use should not be qualifying standards for exclusion from social, state or community benefits and protections. I post about feminism, social and economic status and privileges held, or that should be held, by all humans of all ages, which leads me into the fact that
- I am anti-CIO, spanking and circumcision. Prevention of harm to others (especially that have no capability for protecting themselves) is big for me. (I see that as a good thing, but some people hurt their kids and don’t want to look at it that way because it makes them feel guilty. Instead of defending what is familiar and guilting yourself, just think about how you can improve your reactions next time and do it. No one WANTS to hit their kids or leave them to cry, and everyone gets overwhelmed, overtired and frustrated, trust me on at least that much.)
- I can’t cook worth crap. Not much in the way of recipes or food here, unless you count lactation cookies. Maybe you guys can help me, here. My slow cooker and my rice cooker are two of my closest friends. (That last sentence may be another reason to back away slowly, all on its own.)
- You’re not going to win anything. No fun contests, giveaways or other promotional stuff. I’m just me, that’s it. If you’re looking for free stuff and that gambler’s rush, you’ve hit the wrong site. Whammy.
- I’ve had three baby daddies. I was married for 7 years in between all this craziness, had one baby before and one (years) after my marriage ended. I’ve been a young, single mom working two jobs, a military wife, am now a SAHM, and have filled and let go of so many other labels along the way, I can only imagine that I will probably go through plenty more.
I’ve worn ten zillion hats in my parenting journey, so far- to judge anyone else’s position would be to judge my former self, and I know good and well that I was trying the best I knew how when I voluntarily stopped breastfeeding and bottle fed my first three kids, left them to cry when I was overwhelmed (and usually crying, myself) raised my voice or swatted at their hands or little booties when I wanted their behavior to change.
I didn’t know any better, was supported by friends, family and society in those parenting choices… yet felt I could do better if I could only find out how. So, I now try to provide a place where parents can seek information and support to improve their lives and parenting as they see fit, in the way I wish I’d been able to do when I started down this parenting path 12 years ago.
I’m of the “Do the best you can. When you know better, do better.” persuasion- and no one is going to be any better, least of all me, unless there are opportunities within our minds, hearts and communities to leave what is familiar and seek what is healthier, better, more interesting, more fun. “Progressive” means “marked by constant improvement” and that is all I have ever aimed to do. Neither I or anyone else can do it alone, which is why I made a place that respects, welcomes and celebrates a wide variety of parenting choices and styles.
If you’ve read this far, I’m equally amazed and appreciative. If you choose to delete me from your cyberworld for my heresy towards your reality, I understand completely. I don’t even like or want to be around me half the time, but not because of any of the reasons I listed- you’ll have to stick around for those. I can only promise that I will keep trying to improve in every way possible- and it may even happen… but you can count on me to make mistakes, to keep trying and to keep choosing love as best I know how, no matter what anyone thinks of me- myself first and foremost.
I’m closing with the video 1000 Oceans by Tori Amos (my all-time favorite singer/songwriter, as a fact about myself I’ve been long aware of) that I mentioned earlier. It came out in 1999 and I loved it then, but both the music and the video speak to me in ways I’d never imagined now. Grief feels very much like being inside a barren box, watching the world go by, watching people watch me to see what I’m going to do. Some have compassion for me, sometimes it’s the other way around, sometimes it’s mutual.
The title of the song ties into another thing I’ve learned about grief: it comes in waves, sometimes tsunamis, and it constantly feels like drowning in a vast sea of ache, anger and unending despair. (And I’ve certainly cried 1000 Oceans by now.) I’m still struggling to find shore, or even the surface some days, but I try to just keep swimming.
Sometimes, it even works.
You are one of the most amazing women ever. I feel like I know you. You have a friend all the way over here in Oz. Keep on writing, you say you’re not a writer but you are, you’re eloquent, and wonderful. Thanks for sharing yourself, your life and your truth. I’m sending virtual hugs and 420 your way girl.
[…] a friend (and fellow bereavement doula-in-training, also responsible for getting my butt into gear here) who took the initiative to ask for help for me. I couldn’t get it out myself, I was down a […]
Agree with you on all counts. And cooking is something that can be learned – although slow cookers have saved me more times than I can mention. Keep on writing.
Hello been meaning to write something for a while. Just wanted to say that your posts over the last year have always inspired me deeply. and more recently your posts about grief. I lost my mum a year before my first baby was born and of course I can’t even begin to understand what losing a child could be like but the way you talk about your grief and the messages of positivity and acceptance have profoundly affected me deep inside and have helped me face my grief.
I’m sorry you might be getting negative comments from some people but I read a few other honest open blogs and I see the same kind of people getting off on criticising others in the most unconstructive way and seems to be a little internet hate mongering game they are playing. I hope you can take some of that precious energy you have to not give them energy which is exactly what they want, ignore them and let them move on.
Finally your comment about sites like facebook endlessly banning breastfeeding photos seems to been a problem which lots of people face and has been going on for years. I have realised that they aren’t willing to change their ridiculous policies on this and therefore we all have to change. I feel a boycot of facebook is the only way. If they don’t follow the same principles I hold dear then for god’s sake why am i following them. I will look forward to your deeply inspiring posts and will only look for them here on this site from now on.
Thank you for sharing your heart with us, we are all a little better people for it!
Your blog is SO refreshing. SO real. I like that you don’t share crafts and recipes and giveaways. Your integrity shines through so clearly and inspires me as a mom and blogger to just be real and be myself instead of chasing after some ideal set by other moms and bloggers. I swear like a sailor, too, and tell my kids, “Don’t say that at school!” Haha. I read this post right to the beautiful end. You’re doing hard, important work by recording your truths and beliefs as they shift and evolve. I feel blessed to be along for the journey.
I just wanted to let you know that I was here before PatPat died and I will continue to be here. I like to think that those who arrived after PatPat died aren’t here for voyeurism but because their hearts shattered alongside yours when a caring follower shared your story in hopes of enveloping you in as much love and light as possible. Keep doing your thing, Mama. No apologies.
You make my heart bleed in the best of ways. I can’t even remember when I found your page. I know it had to have been within the past 2 yrs, as my daughter is 2 and I seeked out pages of support like yours…that actually meant something to me, ones that were like me but not all about parenting, the good the bad the ugly and the controversial…..remember when my at the time ex posted some PAS stuff on your wall…I emailed your page.. he was just angry and any way to make me hurt he had tried. The only # you have of mine is on Facebook, I just dont subscribe or follow bloggers…I just go to their blogs and your one of my most favoritest. I feel like I need to be around to hear and read from you, especially since the lastest incomprehensible event. Fucking bullshit.It still blows me away, and I am so very sorry, you know this stuff!!! It still makes me angry and I cry probably like you and your best friends do, sissy’s and mommy!! I don’t seek to see your trainwrecks, but I always hope I’m online to read them, because, umm, your human and brave, I also know writing for me is a way to release and get it out of me at times, and you’d see that on my awful rants of status posts at times if you were a personal friend. I actually hope to see your writings, and blog posts, just a simple reminder you are ohsoHuMan!!! I always hope I can send you my One Love and Huge Hugs. The depth of your father in you, is so very close to me and my father and I remember going back through all the blog posts and just reading, reading “You” ! That love is specially created for souls like us. I may need you when my daddy passes away!!! My once ex I mentioned is now my husband and he actually knows when Ive been on all your blogs reading away – and that you musta posted, most times I’m all puffy faced and a mess, a good truthful, real, honest mess because as shitty as I feel about my life and the choices Ive made and marrying someone who honestly doesn’t serve my inner most soul (gulp, that’s hard to publicly write) I get a real glimpse at what a different life looks like that is very close to how I live day to day but without your type of grief and I think…coulda been anyone of us…you just happen to have already exposed your writing talents and self to us and then bam the worst of worsts… I feel like I could sit in our houses and laugh and smoke and just be friends, cry and be love…maybe you are my friend and you n I just dont really know it – ya know, our universe is magic most always. I comment on your facebook posts time to time when I catch them and I love reading your blogs. You give another perspective, something to cling too, and as much as you are probably done with hearing it…PatPat is the reason I’ll always love you and feel deep love for you as a friend I would in my touchable face to face life. Be Well. Keeping thriving! One Love! That “PP” is crazy now…if you think about it. But ohSObeautiful!!!!
Your words fill part of my life. I have been one if your followers that cares. I never liked the pity remarks & since I’m a Grandmother now – I simply did not know what to say. It was fear of others judging me! I was under the wrong assumption that they are all active parents.
About me: I had 2 babies in 1986 & 1988. I joined La Leche League & proceeded to nurse under much hell from my elders. I was fortunate to have a husband who believed in my judgement & helped support my choices. My Daughter Asha Lickley-Dore told me about you & she couldn’t talk about your writings because it hit too close to home for her. She has taught me the value of the written word. I enjoy your writing style as much as the content.
About you: keep going! Do what you need to do to protect your soul. You are brave & wonderful just the way you are! I mean that. I don’t tell awful people these things. The world is full of ignorant repetitive thinkers. It’s a shame. You are above them in the way you keep moving forward. Even if it’s a snails pace… It’s forward. THAT is honorable.
I may be looking at the world through rose colored glasses, but I don’t believe that your numbers jumped because people wanted to watch your train wreck. Rather I think they wanted to rally around you and offer you some kind of love and comfort. No one can really help. Not in any way that would make you feel unaffected by Pat-pat’s death. No one can take away that the pain or make you better. But we CAN make sure you’re not alone and that you know that you’re loved. As mothers we know that the hand you were dealt was INCREDIBLY unfair and we all are grieving for you because even though we often say “we can’t imagine”, we can…and it is horrifying. All I want to do is hug you tightly, cry with you and then find some way to make you smile again…even momentarily. You deserve it.
❤ and all of the above is what I was drawn to 12 months ago. When I read of your loss I was on a full train w my new husband on our way to airport for honeymoon. I openly sobbed for your pain and instantly wanted to return home to my DD.
Your strength and courage is amazing and admirable. And that keeps me going xx
Stay exactly as you are beautiful x
I heard of your baby’s death while I was pregnant with my son. I started following you a little after he was stillborn (we will never know why), someone reminded me of you and thought reading some of your early stuff would help. It did. I’m back in the deep throes of grief, it’s only been 3 months for us. Anyway, just wanted to say hi. I bet you have more bereaved parents following you than you realize.
You are my hero. Seriously. Being a new mom, I have now been following you for almost two years and have laughed, cried and have been fascinated with all you have to say.You give me strength and I thank you for all you do Julie! Hugs
This post made me want to stay so much more. Be well, my friend.
You are incredible, and you and I are very like minded on, from what I’ve read, everything lol. I know I’m just a stranger in this big Internet world, but if you ever feel the need to reach out, please do. Keep doing what you’re doing and give no fucks about what anyone else has to say about it 🙂
Sending my love, you beautiful woman
That was very powerful and filled with a lot of emotion. It hurts my heart to see you in pain and I would never wish that on a person. I hope one day it will be easier to bear but for now ill keep you in my thoughts and hope that things get better for you.
I follow you, support you, ache for you, and admire you. One Love, mama. ❤
I love this post. I am here to stay. One love.
It sounds weird to say it, because I don’t know, but I love you. Your honesty, openness, your heart. You are fucking amazing! Love you, internet stranger.
I am so moved by your willingness to bare your humanity. You’re real and that’s you and if people don’t like it, well that’s just too bad.
There’s so much I want to respond to, but for now I say thank you. The first blog post I ever read was about the time you were with your kids in Target and some silly lady was giving you the eye because you were wearing Patrick. Just the honesty and humor of the post instantly drew me to you and I’ve been reading your writing ever since. We have much in common and I identified with what you were saying–that’s what good writers want-to connect with the reader and you did it when there were 3000 of us who ‘liked’ you on fb, and you continue to connect with 1000s more. But it seems you have realized something crucial, making progress, setting realistic goals.
Perhaps we could form a writing group? In my paid working part of life, I’m an academic, so part of my job is writing and it’s damn hard! A few of us have formed a group and support and encourage each other along the way. I’ve written so much more (& better!) this year than I have since I began a few years ago. I have started a blog, but haven’t been writing as much as I had hoped. Maybe we could discuss things like purpose and set some goals?
Keep writing! And thinking, being, talking, loving and progressing.
You are such an impressive human being! I feel privileged to be able to follow your blog. I have a personal story I keep questioning whether to share with because I worry, even though there are parts that will make you smile, it might deeply upset you…I will be brave another day xxxx