Awakening Goddess: Empowering the Goddess Within
As above, so below, as within, so without - every thing that we desire, and every thing that we fear, exists within us. This blog explores nourishing our dreams, committing to our highest values, and healing ourselves from the inside out: awakening and empowering the Goddess within our bodies, hearts, and lives.
Gifts Hidden In Loss
On February 21, 2015 my second son, Galen, was stillborn.
I wrote out the whole traumatic story, then found myself reluctant to share it. I wish what happened to me would never happen to anyone else. So I'm not going to share the details in blog form. Maybe in my next memoir.
I'll summarize it for you, though. Basically, when I got to the hospital, a sonogram confirmed that his heart wasn't beating, and that he had probably passed more than a day earlier. It also showed that he was a very big baby, but I was afraid of surgery, so the doctor gave me time to try vaginal birth. The next day, in nonstop agony despite an epidural, I opted for surgery. He was 13 pounds, 12.4 ounces. After the surgery, I hemorrhaged and actually died for a moment, but they brought me back. Three days and several units of blood later, I finally got to go home.
Moments after the doctor told me my son was dead, I posted to facebook, "Galen is stillborn." I couldn't bear to think of all the people eagerly awaiting news of his birth. I was having contractions 45 seconds apart at that point, and couldn't talk, so I had to text my dad to let him know before he found out via facebook. Now that it's all over, I wish I'd handled it differently, but yeah. I was in shock, and in labor. Can't feel too bad for decisions I made under those conditions.
The wonderful thing about my labor was the seven women who stayed with me, encouraged me, held me when I cried, talked me through the pain. My midwife, Kelli Johnson, not only took care of me, but took care of my sisters when they broke down. My doula, Elizabeth Harper never left my side. Erin Monroe took the picture above. She and Mackenzie Heacox, through Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep, donated their services as birth photographers and stayed with me throughout the horrendous 24 hour labor. My friend Michelle Smith, a hypnotherapist and bereavement doula, also stayed by my side. Without her magic voice, I would not have gotten to sleep those few precious hours.
My sister, Niki, stayed with me two nights, and put together a beautiful memorial for my baby. During the memorial, she invited everyone who attended to lay a flower on the altar and spend a few moments with me. I felt so filled up by all the love and support, their was very little room for pain.
My sister Crystal witnessed my surgery, my death and rebirth, took care of me, and is still taking care of my older son as I recover, filled out as much of the paperwork as she could, and no doubt lots of other things my foggy brain missed.
I can't even imagine going through what I went through alone. I know so many women have had to, and my heart weeps for them. I don't think I could have survived all this without those women supporting me.
On the third day, after I'd said goodbye to my baby and sat alone in my room, I had a vision of dozens of people wearing blood-red scrubs standing around me, encouraging me, reassuring me. I felt their hands on me, felt them sit beside me, the departed loved ones of all the people praying for me and sending me love. They took me on adventures while I slept so I wouldn't have nightmares. They made sure I felt their presence when I was by myself and when the nurses did painful things for my own good.
I saw a flash of my baby, smiling and happy, waving goodbye.
One gift in my loss was that outpouring of love, from all over. Even people who didn't know me sent love and support. The community came together for me, arranging care for my older son, meals for me, cleaning my house, getting me better furniture, calling on me, checking on me in and out of the hospital.
My good friend and doula, Christine, lost her father a few days before I had Galen, and literally on her way back from her father's arrangements set up an indiegogo account to help me with funeral and living expenses and became my personal assistant, collecting the information of everyone who offered to help however they could and helping me however she could. She drove me home from the hospital when they finally released me.
When I came home I had five mamas decontaminating and reorganizing my house so I wouldn't try to while I recover from surgery. I have had 2-3 visitors checking up on me and bringing me food every day since, not counting the phone calls and texts and facebook messages and posts.
At Galen’s memorial, I said the following.
Grown-ups tend to think that children come into this world empty and unaware, needing their parents and other adults to teach them everything they need to know in order to survive on their own by the time they turn eighteen.
I believe we have it backwards. I believe we come into this world full of primal wisdom, which we forget over the years as we try to become more grown up. I believe adults need children in our lives to remind us of those important life skills we were born with:
- v how to be fully present in each moment
- v how to live in joy
- v how to create from our imagination
- v how to love without condition or limit
- v how to ask for and accept help
- v how to trust
- v how to explore
- v and the difference between surviving and truly living.
Aiden has been patiently, and impatiently, teaching me all of these things and so much more over the last six years. Galen was so brilliant, he taught me from the womb. He reminded me to take care of myself first. He showed me how to surrender, how to let go of those things I cannot control. He reminded me to record the most precious moments so they could hold me to the light when the world seemed darkest.
Galen forced me to face all my worst fears so that I could learn that I am stronger than fear, I am stronger than pain, I am stronger than hopelessness, and that I can, in fact, not only accept, but welcome help. He showed me that love is not something that gradually grows over time, but that love is the primal force at the base of everything – beneath fear, beneath doubt, beneath the illusions that make us feel separate, all that remains is this powerful, overwhelming love, and he showed me how to let love hold me up when my body felt broken, my heart shattered, my mind inoperable.
Galen is still teaching me. I am grateful that he chose me to be his mother for his short time here, and that he knew I was strong enough to become a member of this club that no one wants to join.
I always felt awkward around parents who lost a child, not knowing what to say or how to comfort. Turns out you don’t need to say anything at all. All we need from you is to feel you holding us in your hearts. All we need is compassion, space to grieve, practical help as we recover, and the love you send us with your prayers, thoughts, and shared grief.
Thank you all so much for loving and supporting my family through this. I have never once felt alone in this whole experience, and that is possibly the most precious gift of all.
Thank you for reading, for sharing, for helping. <3
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