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Saturday, October 24, 2009

This Time Last Year

This time last year I was happily pregnant, convinced my lifa was about to change forever. I was in the second trimester of my pregnancy and was filled with happy hormones. Sunil was so full of joy and excitement. We exercised regularly and I was in excellent physical shape. I went for walks every morning and then on the weekends I spent a couple hours doing water aerobics or just floating and dancing around a heated pool. This was my special time with Akul. The pool was usually empty and I coud sing to my baby. I sang all the nursery rhymes I remembered in hindi and English. One day when I was singing "hush little baby, don't say a word...papa's going to buy you a diamond ring..." Sunil joined us. He told me he would not buy his son any "rings." He said his son will not want any jewellery...if it was a girl it would be different. So I rewrote the nursery rhyme.

Hush little baby, don't say a word
mama's going to buy you a singing bird
If your singing bird won't sing
Dad's going to buy you a basketball ring
If the basketball ring is too high
Dad's going to buy you a rocket that flies
If that rocket were to ever break down
You will still be the cutest little baby in town.

When they got Akul off the life support and put him in my arms, I sang this to him. It is his poem, but he barely got to hear it. My baby never got the chance to grow up. To me he will always be the cutest little baby in town.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Festival of Lights

Today is Deepawali or Diwali. It is the hindu (Indian) festival of lights. Mythology tells us the story of one of the hindu gods, Rama, who triumphed over the evil Ravana and returned home on this day. He had been away from his family and his kingdom for 14 years. On his return, the people were very happy and to show their happiness they lit oil lamps all around their homes. This evening, most hindus will light candles or lamps outside their sparkling spring-cleaned homes and invite God into their homes. And what will Sunil and I do? We don't know. The light has gone out of our lives. It went away the day we were told that our son had a brain bleed and that we have to "let him go." When our son breathed his last breath, we were engulfed in a dark blackness and that darkness is here to stay. The only candles we light are candles lit in remembrance of our lost baby.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eight Months of Empty Cradles

Akul would be 8 months old today.

After we lost our son, we got a memory box to take home with us from the hospital. This was created by a support group called "Empty Cradles." We lost Akul on Feb 16 and the first wednesday in March we went for our first "Empty Cradles" meeting. I still remember that was one meeting for which no one had showed up when we reached there. The coordinator was there and she had a candle buring in one corner, a coffee pot with freshly brewed coffee, a few stuffed brown baby bears sitting on one table and some literature about this organisation. She also provided the group with a box of tissues. Sunil and I went there but we were unable to tell our story. The group leader or coordinator talked to us about her own loss and then a few more people walked in and started sharing the stories of their losses. I just sat there and cried. I was so numb and my husband was so angry. By the end of the evening we were able to tell the few people who were there our story. It was a disjointed jumbled version of what happened and I knew that many did not even understand what we were saying. But they all sat patiently listening and shedding tears. This was our only outing during the first few months of our loss. The one place we could go and vent. So we did. We went month after month till everyone heard Akul's story and they all started talking about "Akul" and not "your baby."

This month our meeting was very special. October meetings are memorial meetings. The Empty cradles website reads,
"This is one of the most important and moving meetings of the year…a time to remember, reflect and connect with your beloved baby(ies). We’d like to invite you to share with others at the meeting the various ways that you have memorialized your baby(ies). Perhaps you have a memory album, pictures, a poem, a quilt, a box, special mementos or some other cherished items that helps you to remember and keep your baby’s spirit alive. Please bring any memorial items that you would like to share to the October meeting and join us for our candle lighting memorial."

We went and sat in a circle. We had the option of reading poems from a book they provided us, or reading something we wrote ourselves for our babies. I read something I had written for Akul. It was really hard to read it but I was honoring my son. I had to do it. I also took Akul's baby boy album and a little diary I write which is entitled "Letters to My Son." We were given cards and we had to write messages for our babies which were read as we lit candles for them. After lighting a candle we were asked to pick up a rose from the bunch of roses arranged in a vase and return to the table with our rose. I chose a white rose because I associate Akul with white roses. We had a little break from teh ceremonies and during this time we were able to share our babies pictures and items we had brought with us.

This month I also decided to start volunteering and went for the "Empty Cradles" volunteer meeting. I think about Akul every day, almost all the time. However my time at my support group meeting is always special and it is something for me to look forward to. We smile, talk and reach out for the box of tissues that occupies a very important place in our monthly meeting. If you can spare a minute, visit their website. The section on internet resources has helped me in the past.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Time Stands Still

Today I went to the hospital for an appointment. As I was entering the main door, I saw a proud dad standing, car seat in one hand and a boppy pillow in the other. Next to him was a nurse whose hands were full of new born things. My thoughts went running to the day I left the hospital, empty handed, defeated, old and tired. Ofcourse I cried as I entered the hospital. Then as I sat waiting for my turn to see the doctor, I saw a mother with a little baby in a car seat. The baby looked at me and smiled. She must be about the same age as what Akul would have been were he with me today. She had beautiful golden brown skin, laughing dark brown eyes and chubby cheeks. I was totally mesmerized. I could totally see my little son in her. The only difference was that she was a girl. I felt the distance I had walked from outside the hospital to the doctor's waiting room was the distance time had travelled from February 16th of this year to today. The only problem was that I had not moved. I am still standing outside the hospital empty handed and tearful, waiting for my ride home.