Sunday, October 9, 2011


I havent written in a long time, I know. It has nothing to do with not needing to write, or that I dont think about Sybella. I need to write just as often as ever, but as those of you with babies know, there is barely time for a bathroom stop, let alone blogging at the moment. Archie is a happy, cuddly, smiley, babbly baby. But he doesnt SLEEP! And so I am exhausted beyond belief. Sometimes to the point of tears. This evening was one such time. Last night, I dont think I had any real, deep sleep at all, but was in the "twilight" zone. My mind was in a dream state, I was partly awake the entire night as Archie fussed and fed.
Me and sleep deprivation dont go together. At all. When I get to the point where I'm crying, I have to mentally slap myself to remind myself that I have a baby who is alive. That's all that matters. And one day, I will sleep again.
Archie and I had a bath tonight, and I got into bed at 7pm, started to breastfeed him and catch up on the second season of Offspring, an Australian television show, about Nina Proudman, an obstetrician.
Some of you may know the significance of Offspring, especially Season 2, Episode 7, 22 minutes and 23 seconds in.

A baby is stillborn.

Offspring got it right. For those of us who have lived through it, we were that mother. I felt like I was living it again. I felt like I was on the screen, I felt like I was watching myself. I was paralysed with stomach churning anxiety while the events played on the screen, until Nina Proudman, upon being asked by the mother if she could see her baby, walked down the corridor of the hospital, swaddled baby in arms while a song played, the lyrics as apt as can be:

I told you. I told you I'd be here.
And I feel you. I feel you disappear.
I'll give you... I'll give you all you want.
 I'll watch you.

Then I couldnt help the tears that fell from my eyes, I cried so hard, that to call it "crying" isnt even right. It was face-soaking, gulping, blurry, temperature raising, grief and I could hardly bear the pain that was swirling in me. Salty tears dripped onto Archie's head and I buried my face in his soft neck while Kelvin stroked my arm. For that moment, I missed her like I couldnt believe and I wondered how on Earth I had gotten this far without her.

When the mother learns the news, she looks around in bewilderment, she begins to shake. The mother sobbed. She heaved with sobs. She swings between hyperventilating and holding her breath. I did that. I couldnt catch my breath. I remember, with every millisecond that passed after I had the information that Sybella had died, I couldnt believe it. All I wanted was to go back to the moment before I lay on that ultrasound table, when my world was normal again. How a world can change in the space of 30 seconds.

When she meets her baby, her expression swings between despair and grief but amazement and wonderment and pride at what she had created. How did they know? The Offspring people? How did they know that we screamed and beat our breasts and grieved our dead babies but still wanted to show them off? "Look! Look what I made! She isnt alive, but isnt she beautiful?"

It takes something like that, even though it is a TV show, to refresh the feelings, smells, and ambience of that time in our lives. Humans are made so that initial levels of new and fresh grief and anxiety have no choice but to dssipate in their intensity, as we cannot survive with those high levels of emotion. I'm constantly sad and miss Sybella crazily, but I havent felt that raw, trembling grief in nearly 18 months. It left me drained and wrung out and exhausted. But I am glad I had the opportunity to "feel" it, because it took me to a space of just her and I.

It was an impressive effort from Offspring, and I commend the writers, producers, directors and actors involved in that particular episode. I thank them for their courage at tackling such a "taboo" topic so respectfully and gently.