Sunday, December 5, 2010

'Tis The Season (To Be...Heartbroken)

Well, Christmas crept up, didnt it now? Has Sybella really been dead for 7 months? It seems like ages ago, but it also seems like yesterday. In all honesty, the last 7 months have been a whirlwind of pain, heartache, sorrow but also happiness (mostly due to learning about Rainbow Baby), new beginnings, gratitude, learning curves and newfound strength. I attribute all these positives to her. Sybella. She was the one who made them all come about.

Veteran babylost mothers say that 7 months is still so fresh. I am so weary from sorrow that I feel that I have always been this person...the person with a dead child. You know how people say "I cant remember life before children?" Well, I cant remember life without the constant, heavy burden of grief. Others tell me that it took them a good 6 months to feel normal again. To feel human. That they watched the world and felt like they werent part of it. I havent really had that luxury. I fell pregnant immediately, had a preschooler to be there for and a husband who works an hour from where we live, and so I barely see him during the week due to him being away from 6am until 8pm. My life was thrown back into "normality" very shortly after Sybella's death, and so my only outlet, my only forum to process my feelings and be completely indulgent is this blog. I guess that is why it is so "variable." Sometimes it's controversial, sometimes it is narky or angry, sometimes it is bewildered, sometimes it is heartbreaking and filled with pain, sometimes it is lighthearted. Sometimes it just makes no sense. Kind of like my daughter's death.
As Christmas looms, I am struck by a whole new wave of grief that washes over me.The "what if" kind.
Such as the memories from last Christmas, when I was 14 weeks pregnant with Sybella, and we all chattered excitedly about the new baby that would be here by Christmas 2010. I imagined Jack helping a 6 month old open presents and show his new sibling how to "work" the toys she would be receiving. I imagined taking a preschooler and a new baby to visit Santa. As it stands, I took Jack on Friday. And brought home a photo with only him in it. No new baby. It has been only him in the Santa photo since 2006. I prayed after our visit to Santa on Friday that next year's photo would have two of my three children in it.
Writing out my Christmas cards this morning, I remembered that a year ago, I thought I would be writing "from Kelvin, Stephanie, Jack and Sybella." Now it says "from Kelvin, Stephanie and Jack"...and Sybella's name is stamped in the right hand bottom corner, next to a picture of an angel.
Trimming the Christmas tree. Of course, a 6 month old wouldnt have been able to help, but it has always been a family event for us. Except this year, one family member was missing.

My beautiful friend Belinda sent this most gorgeous decoration for our tree. The fact that she thought of us at this time, made the effort to get this star and have it engraved with Sybella's name and birthday just floored me. Not because I am surprised. Belinda is just like that. She is thoughtful, understanding, kind and compassionate. She even sent something for Jack, so he had something to unwrap too. She is just the kind of friend that one thanks God for when you suffer tragedies like this. I wish there were more like my beautiful Belinda.

I also purchased a decoration in honour of Sybella...except it has not quite the same elegance or simplicity as Belinda's star. When I ordered it, I didnt realise how big it was, and as a result, we are unable to hang it on the tree. It does fit beautifully on her shrine, though, and we have decided to keep it there all year round.

On Friday night, Deb De Wilde, Babylost Social Worker Extraordinaire, hosted a Christmas Service of Hope, Consolation and Remembrance for all children who have died. Part of the service, the most heartwrenching part, involved a slideshow of all the little children and babies who have passed away. As a gospel choir sang, in a dark church edged in candlelight, the children's images were illuminated on a large screen. Tiny foetuses, stillborn babies, babies that were born alive and were so sick that they died shortly after birth, babies lost to SIDS, toddlers and older children lost to cancer and other unthinkable tragedies. As I sat and sobbed for all these children, tears ran down my face, unstoppable. And they hadnt even got to Sybella's image yet. Sybella, who was one of them. It was so beautiful to see these babies, and they were all so gorgeous. But the fact that they werent alive haunted me and I couldnt get a hold of myself.
Reading the page with all the baby's names on it, I was astounded at how many of these children I "knew." Hope, Kayla, Jade, Morgan, Layla.
7 months ago, I was not in this horrible Club. It was another world. Now, I am ensconsed in a community of parents and families who know what I know and feel how I feel. Who cry with me and nod along with me. Who have my compassion and who give me theirs. It is a tragically beautiful community. I am proud to be a part of it...but desperately wish I wasnt. If that makes sense.

In our Christmas cards this year, I have included an insert with the following message. If you are someone who I know through babyloss, through my blog or yours, or you are simply someone whose address I do not have, I wish to extend this message to you too:

In the Christmas season of 2010, we look back over our year and remember our daughter, Sybella, a most beautiful and innocent baby, born asleep on the24th of April.
Christmas is a time for joy, although our usual Christmas joy is tainted with sadness and what would have been. Christmas is also a time for gratitude, and this we can embrace. We are thankful to Sybella for choosing us, and as she did, she touched our hearts, our souls and our lives.
We are also thankful to you, for your support, understanding and love over these past few months. Without your kindness, our family heartbreak would have been even more unbearable.
We hope you feel Sybella’s purity of spirit touch your heart this Christmas.

Remembering Sybella Eve

Our family wishes you and yours
all the love and peace
of the season this Christmas.


  1. I still don't think I feel normal and it has been two and a bit years for me. I don't remember life before loss either. It is like when I look at old photos of myself, I'm looking at another person, living another life.
    Seven months is still fresh, at least to me. I was only JUST pregnant again by that point, but not through lack of trying. I still felt overwhelmed and still avoided most social settings.
    And I'm glad to hear you saw Hope! I meant to email Deb back and ask how it went. I knew she had her photo, as she called to say so. I wish I had a "Deb" here in Melbourne.
    Love to you as we head towards Christmas. I know you're limping this year.

  2. I can relate so much to everything you wrote Steph! Especially about being proud to be apart of the "group" now, but wish you weren't. I feel the same exact way. There is a certain depth to those who belong in the group, and my friends with lost babies tend to be my absolute favorite...because they too know how much life can hurt. We all strive to live with so much meaning and purpose after our losses, in ways that others don't really understand.
    A year and a half later, I'm missing Janie so much, and this 2nd Christmas without her is definitely still hard. It's the first one that she'd have some fun I picture her toddling around the sea of gifts and attempting to unwrap them. Our family will always be incomplete without her, and my heart will always have a hole meant for her.
    And as the Christmases go on...very few will remember how difficult of a time it is for those without one of their precious children present.