This post has been stewing and building for a couple of months now and I can no longer contain it. It may be controversial and I might take some flak for it, but I have to do it.
So here goes...
10 months ago today my second son was born and he died the next day. The details of which are many, profound and not all important for the purpose of this post. What is important is that I recently discovered a really cruel and inaccurate blog post that was written 6 weeks after Joseph's death regarding me and how I am "narcissistic, selfish and immature." This blog is call The SOB (Skeptical OB-GYN) and is run by a women named Amy Tuteur.
Here is how this unfolded: I had a hunch to google my name one day. The fourth link down was one entitled: Sure my baby died, but look at the benefits to me. So I clicked on it and read on.
My emotions started out at shock.
Then moved to anger. Then rage (like I would rip your eyeballs out if I could reach you rage).
Then sadness, deep sadness.
Sadness for me, Joseph, my family. But even more then that I started to feel sadness for Dr. Amy. It seems to me that someone would have to have been treated (or treated themselves) incredibly cruelly to respond to someone else the way she did me just 6 weeks after my son had died.
She scoured the internet to find snippets of posts on an online forum where I was offering to donate my breast milk after my son had died, from a friends personal photo site where we posted photos of Joseph and my family and took everything horribly out of context to somehow prove her point that home birth is a totally irresponsible and horrible thing to do.
This post is not about my defense to her accusations however. To be blunt, I think her limited and perhaps stunted view of the situation is fairly obvious on its face. How can you say you know anything about any situation when you have only read a couple of paragraphs written online and taken them out of context?
No. This is post is about my story, from my perspective. I don't ever expect anyone who comes from such a vastly different world view to understand mine, but I do think that we owe it to one another to respect each other.
But first, I need to give a little bit of back story about what happened. This whole story is large enough to fill a book, so this is the very brief nutshell version. Joseph ultimately showed me the true meaning of unconditional Love. I feel like he gave his life to deepen mine, to give me back to me and to help me discover my drive and purpose in life. Part of which is now spreading his wonderful message of how loving and supportive the universe is and showing folks how to find hope in the most hopeless of circumstances. His brief life was an act of ultimate service and generosity.
Before I found out I was pregnant, I had a conversation with God (Universe, Spirit) and in this conversation I stated that I was feeling pulled in two directions: one towards my passions and being of greater service to the world and the other towards mothering another child. At the time these seemed like conflicting aims since mothering for me is a very all encompassing thing for the first 2-3 years. I asked for guidance about how to proceed. Two weeks later, I found out I was pregnant (we were not trying).
I figured that was a pretty clear answer: the path of mothering it is.
This brought up another conversation with God for me: Chiron our first son, has Cystic Fibrosis. It has been a long, beautiful and very hard road to walk. It will most likely continue to be for the rest of his days. I was sure that I couldn't handle a second child with CF and I didn't want another child to have to deal with what Chiron has to everyday. I stated that I was ok with this child not coming to fruition if they weren't healthy (thinking early miscarriage, of course).
The pregnancy continued normally with no signs of any issue, so I assumed that all was as it should be.
Fast forward 9 months, Joseph is born, at home and is not breathing. He was showing no signs of distress up to the moments of his birth. Here is what happened as far as we can tell: he was delivered gripping his umbilical cord in his hand. He pinched off his air supply during the final moments of delivery.
This in and of itself was highly symbolic for me and my family. It was not an "accident" that killed him. He LITERALLY cut off his source to life with his own hand.
We knew enough to know that something greater was going on here. And then there is this:
This photo is of a gift from a friend at my blessingway ceremony as I was preparing to give birth to Joseph. It is a small shell with a hand reaching out of it, grasping it tightly. She didn't know why she was drawn to bringing it to me but she was. At this time it was just a beautiful and strange item. After Joseph was born it all made sense. This is exactly what he did. He reached out into the world, grabbed on tight, touched physical life for just a brief moment, before returning from whence he came leaving behind a sea of Love, grief, shattered stories and a return to the deeper meaning and magic all around us. To top it all off, the little clay fingers even resembled his long skinny fingers.
After the initial moments of Joseph's birth, which seemed to span an light filled eternity, the problems multiplied because the paramedics and ER team were having a hard time intubating him. His lungs were not functioning properly. In that moment I knew that he too had CF. We requested the test and sure enough he did. His lungs were having problems from the moment he was born.
Little did I know what I was asking for when I stated that I was ok with the pregnancy not coming to fruition if the baby wasn't healthy, but sure enough someone/thing was listening, in a strange, unforeseen, tragic and miraculous way.
The miracle is that had Joseph miscarried early on in the pregnancy, I would have been deeply saddened, but I never would have been so profoundly affected. I'm not sure if I will ever be able to do justice to what happened to me in the moments after Joseph Phoenix entered the world. I have never in my life been so filled with inexpiable and unconditional Love and Gratitude like I was after Joseph's brief journey into our lives. NEVER.
Now as if that wasn't enough- and there was so much more- here I am, a few months after Joseph's death reading the blog of a women I have never met before that is essentially calling me a selfish baby-killer. After I had taken a couple of hours to grieve and be angry and feel all that came up for me (and after I had gotten over the fact that I wanted to sue her for defamation of character), I started to notice some interesting symbols in her post.
The opening picture of Dr. Amy's post is the same picture I used to open this post, I (heart) ME, written in the sand.
I gasped and started to cry. This time out of joy.
On Mother's Day, a few months prior to my discovery of Dr. Amy's post, my family and one of my best friends went to the Oregon Coast to celebrate life, remember Joseph and the crazy year it had been so far. We wrote Joseph's name in the sand as a remembrance and watched as it was washed away by the ocean. It was cathartic, healing and connective for us all. It was something tangible that we could do for him.
I realized that yet again, I was getting another message from the universe, I LOVE ME was the message in the photo, but it meant so much more than even that.
To me this was another expression of what Joseph meant to me, LOVE, in the universal sense. It also felt like a little message of encouragement on my path as I walk towards a fuller expression of myself and my Love in the world.
I think that learning to Love oneself is key to a happy, healthy, love-filled life.
I do love me and I hope that you love you as well. Some days that is all we get.
I know that Joseph Phoenix came into this world out of Love and left it so much greater than it was without him in it. Sometimes all it takes is lending a hand.
I would like to formally thank Dr. Amy for doing what she did. She gave me a special message of Love in the unlikeliest of places. Even what looks like hatred can really be Love in disguise.
She also lit a fire under me. When I was able to calm down and look at her with the eyes of compassion, I realized that the only thing she was guilty of doing was living in an ENTIRELY different version of reality than me. And in her version of reality, I must look like a pretty self-absorbed, narcissistic, immature baby-killer.
I also realized that I like my reality. Here are a few of the salient views in my version:
1. Death is as beautiful a transition as birth if we allow it to be.
2. There is no such thing as an accident. Everything happens because it is right that it does in a more cosmic way than we may understand. There is perfection in everything.
3. We are so undeniably connected to each other, in fact we are all one.
4. Since we are all one, I like to say we are little walking individuations of God, when we hurt someone we are hurting ourselves and everyone else.
5. Love is all there is.
6. There is no such thing as right and wrong.
7. The universe (God) is speaking to everyone, all the time, in many ways.
8. Last but not least, we each have a larger role in creating our realities than we realize. Not what happens to you but what you do with it.
What version of reality are you living in?