Trauma – A Perfectly Healthy Dead Baby

It’s been a long, tumultuous, and taxing six months.  In certain indigenous cultures, six months is a marker – perhaps of survival beyond death, or the slow recovery process towards sanity.  At times, I no longer understand the “concept” of sanity, as my mind has become an act of its own, leaving my higher self with the devastating process of observing its scheming acts.  Just observing, without the capability of changing a thing.  For now.  Perhaps that’s where the sanity exists, somewhere in the future, some light years away, when I learn to shift and reside in my true nature, of the moment to moment peace and stillness.  I await for the light to engulf me, to inhale the stardust of the star I come from.  Until then, the world is chaotic and the stories evolve in a dramatic way.  I am Shakespeare and my life is a tragedy.

It’s a process.  A process.  A process.  I must constantly remind myself of this.  I cannot shed years and lifetimes of conditioning and embedded patters within a span of time that fits in a calendar.  But I’m working through it, minute by minute, day by day…six months.  It took death and loss to be a catalyst for growth, for the work to begin, where Pandora’s box opened wide and let the demons of my past come out of their hiding places.  The demons, the patterns, so deeply rooted.  And here I am now, getting to know the roots of these patters, their time of origin, pulling at them with all my might, and trying to discard while remaining grounded.  Once again, it is a game of balance.

I refuse to reside with the demons in the form in which they come.  I have opened the gates and allowed armies of them to enter.  My mind.  My body.  My soul.  From the unconscious to the conscious.  They have been found out.  There is no going back.  My work now is to understand them, accept them, and transform them.  They can no longer be hidden.  But where does the work really begin?


I don’t want to look up a definition of trauma because I have my own.  I have lived my own, and so I own my own.  It is the time and the space where things as we know, things that are safe, become strange and dangerous.  It is where space constricts and defenses raise.  It is when hearts break and the Earth shakes.  It is where boundaries and walls are built.  It is when patterns begin.  It is the root of fear.  The root of conditioning.  The root of a weed, which without control, can overtake one’s entire life.

I choose not to be bitter, sad, or resentful.  I don’t want to become addicted to pain.  I have met my highest potential and fell in love with her.  I have met her in a place of peace, deep understanding, and absolute surrender.  And though I know she is always with me, I cannot always find her.  And so I search for her, sometimes through this rough work of gardening, within the rocky soil, and beneath the hardy roots.

To extinguish the roots, I must know the roots, and to know the roots, I must live the roots.  At least.  One.  More.  Time.

It’s easy to hide a traumatic experience in the depths of the unconscious.  It’s easy to forget.  It’s convenient to forget.  But what is forgotten never really goes away.  It’s always with us, just tucked away under the carpet.  Only in times of stillness, the vacuuming and dusting gets done, and then Boom!  There it is.  Hello!

So  finally after months of resistance, I gained the courage to sit with my experience.

I have been fooling myself into thinking that I can meditate off the cushion.  I made every excuse not to sit …it’s too early in the morning…I have a headache…I’m tired, and so on.  We are the masters of excuses when our mind rebels against itself, or when the ego wants for the patterns to remain embedded.  There was so much up there for me to process that it was simply the intensity of the material that I feared most.  But I was pushed into sitting by my own actions.  I felt myself becoming a monster.  My anger was out of control and other extremities of my emotions impossible to handle.  I was drowning in the invisible forces.  I  attached my pain to anything tangible – my partner, the food I was eating, the driver who cut me off, my friends who were being assholes.  Living became hard.  I was going through the grieving process without really processing what has happened.  I was disconnected from my past because I refused to revisit it.  I subconsciously put a cover over my trauma and walked in circles around what was hidden, utterly frustrated by its mystery.  Within the first few days of sitting with my breath, the mystery was unveiled.  Memories came flooding in, replaying the movie of my experience with birthing death.

And so it goes…

Jan. 19th, 2012

I drove out to California with my best friend in the seventh month of my pregnancy to sit a final 10 day Vippassana course, before becoming a busy mother.  I figured, shit, this might be my last road trip for a while, and what could be better for the baby than a calm and peaceful mama?  I got in my car and headed west.  If women all over the world can work until the day they give birth, then why would I not be able to handle a short trip?  We followed all guidelines by stopping every hour or two to walk around and get the circulation flowing, and never drove for more than seven hours a day.  I was being safe and cautious.  We reached California within 3 days and arrived at the Vipassana center outside of Fresno just after sunset.  That night, right before I went to sleep, I felt Leif kick hard, for what was to be the last time.  I remember sitting in meditation the next morning, knowing somewhere deep inside that something was wrong.  I couldn’t focus on my breath because my mind or my intuition kept on coming back to the persistent urge to leave.  But I ignored my intuition, and went into the kitchen to work.  By noon, with still no sign of fetal movement, I began to freak out.  I called Nathan and he instructed me to go to the nearest hospital.  I waited for Jo to get out of meditation, made a million phone calls, trying to find a place where I could actually get an ultrasound without a referral, and left the center.

At the hospital, we were greeted with a bunch of stuck up people and a too many questions.  They brought me into a room with about 10 other women separated by thin curtains and checked for the heartbeat with a doppler.  No heartbeat.  I asked the woman,” what does that mean?”  “was there any possibility that the doppler was off, that perhaps the baby was in a weird position,” but she just looked at me and told me to wait.  Wait for what?  Wait for the worst?  Wait to find out that my baby might or might not be alive?  I waited.  I waited for almost three hours before anyone came back.  I can account to those three house being the worst of my entire life.  I was surrounded by heartbeats, loud and clear, from all the other women’s babies, echoing through the room, and there I was…waiting.  If Jo was not there with me, I would have lost my sanity.  But she was, holding my hand and drying my tears.  I loved her for being there then as I do now, but back then I needed Nathan.  I needed Leif’s father to hold me and tell me that we can get through this, no matter what the outcome is.  In came the machine, confirming the worst.  Leif was dead.

I had no idea what was to happen next.  I never expected this.  How could I?  I had tests done a week before, showing my body in ideal state.  My midwife told me that she wished all her clients were as healthy as I was.  But there I was, healthy and all, with a baby whose heart no longer beat.  They told me I would have to birth him.  I couldn’t believe it.  Wouldn’t believe it.  How could I birth a body that was still?  I didn’t fear giving birth up to that point because I knew that the life force would keep me going.  But without the life force, all that remained was fear and anxiety.  One of the nurses looked at me and said “don’t worry, it’s not that big of a deal.”  Are you fucking kidding me?  Not that big of a deal?  I knew instantly that I could not stay there, could not endure another second of the inhumane maltreatment I was subjected to.  I called my midwife, who in turn, told me of a smaller hospital, in San Francisco, three hours away.  Everything comes in threes, right?

Nathan was already at the Denver airport, three hours away from San Francisco as well.  We headed for  SFO to pick up the missing piece.  Numbness took over my body and mind.  I couldn’t even dare look down at my belly.  Reality was fused with a nightmare.  It was a reality of lost dreams, the beginning of the end.  I sat at the airport, waiting for almost an hour, while Jo circled around.  I watched all the people embracing, laughing, living a trauma free moment.  Some looked at me, but not for long.  Noone could handle looking at my swollen face, the emptiness in my bloodshot eyes, my enormous, motionless belly.  I wanted to disappear, to spare them the awful spectacle.  I didn’t want to see him when he appeared.  I wanted to crawl under something and become invisible.  We hugged a brief hug, not smiling or laughing, and went on our way towards the dreaded hospital.  More questions, more paperwork, and a room the size of my bathroom with no windows.  This was where I was to give birth.  Not home in bed, not in a big tub of water, not in the hands of my trusted midwife, but there, in the windowless cage, far away from home.  Another ultrasound confirming the already confirmed.  They told me I didn’t have to look, but I looked anyway, hoping that maybe someone somewhere was wrong.  But they weren’t.

They brought in an on call hospital midwife.  She told me that the baby must have just recently passed.  I already knew that, I felt him kick 24 hours before.  And then she said that she thought it would be better for me to go home to Boulder and be induced there.  She suggested that having my community and home nearby would be helpful.  At that point, I just wanted him out.  I couldn’t imagine flying.  What if I went into labor during my flight?  We had the night to think it over, but how can one think in the midst of the worst situation known to a woman?  There was a big black mama of a nurse who would come in and check on me.  She held me as I cried.  She was an angel, I’m sure of it.  I don’t know how or when but the decision was made to fly home and catch the six AM flight.

I took a pain killer before the flight.  As we took off, my body went into panic.  It could have been the meds or the hard reality setting in.  I’m not sure to this moment, but whatever triggered the panic made me feel like I, myself, was dying.  My vision went blurry, while my body was shaking and sweating.  I wanted to scream, and get off the plane, but I also wanted to get to Boulder.  I calmed myself down with cold water and soon after fell asleep with my head on Nathan’s lap, only to awake three hours later to a beautiful, sunny day in Boulder.  I left Boulder 4 days before with a completely different reality.  I left as a mama-to-be and came back a stranger carrying a lifeless body.

There was no hurry.  There was time for a shower and a nap.  There was time for rage and breakdowns.  There was time for my sister to get on a flight from Ct and arrive at the hospital hours before I was induced.  I was taken in by the Boulder midwives, although I have not met any of them before.  The hospital room was beautiful, even more so after my sister and Nathan brought in plants, Christmas lights, and wall hangings to make it seem more like home.  The midwife on call was incredible.  I was grateful to be in Boulder.

By 11 pm, I was induced.  I won’t go into the details of the labor for they are beyond words and somewhat fuzzy.  The two people who I love so dearly were with me the entire time – holding me, bathing me, supporting me.  The life force that was missing from Leif was inside of me still.  I felt myself connected to every woman from the past, present, and future.  I have given birth many times before, I am sure of it.  Leif’s body came out at 6 am, after two big pushes, and hours of intense contractions.  My little boy was as beautiful as any breathing baby I’ve ever seen.  He was almost three lbs, with a slim body and big feet, a perfect little replica of his parents.  The midwife was dumbfounded.  My blood work came back perfect.  The placenta looked healthy.  I have birthed a perfectly healthy dead baby.

I held him, kissed him, and handed him over.  He was my son but he was also just a body.  Dying flesh.  Material that my own body grew.  There was no sparkle in his eyes.  There was no giggles or screams.  There was only silence, and within that silence, I also managed to silence myself.  In that moment, I chose to forget.  Everything that followed was an acute reminder, but always held at a distance, just far enough for me to disassociate from.  And so most emotions that arose thereafter were not related to losing Leif, but to every other damn thing around me.  But it wasn’t until I sat with my mind that I came to this realization.

In the depths of stillness, I found the root of the many explosive emotions, sleepless nights, tears, and breakdowns.  It was too obvious, and everyone around me clearly knew.  But I couldn’t have known until it was discovered within my own mind, until I went down the rabbit hole and retrieved what has been stolen, or what I gave up so easily; handed right over to my unconscious.

I am recording this story so that I never again forget.  I am freezing a moment of fear and hopping right back on the horse, that threw me off, that I bit, that wasn’t a horse at all.  I am sharing this experience as one that forever changed my life.  I am seeing the root.  Sleeping with the root.  Admiring the root.  Conversing with the root.  I am becoming the root, so that I can stop the pattern from going deeper, and from planting other toxic seeds.

I have recognized a pattern.  It appears that the more patterns I identify, the more of them pop up.  It is never-ending, or so it seems – a bottomless pit of roots.   But they have to be realized because that is the only way I can become conscious of all that I put away in my unconscious.  Like I said, there is no going back.  And so I’m ready, in ways I don’t yet know, to find the roots, and transform the demons.   I need to be gentle with most, as they were formed at a young age.  Others are still hidden.  We are an accumulation of patterns, sprung from the roots of traumatic moments.  For me, it is time to awake from the unconscious.  But I must remember that it’s a process.  A process.  A process.









Rocky Road

As if the grief itself wasn’t enough, I have now been diagnosed with postpartum depression.   I was feeling the intensity of the grief gradually lessening and slowly peeling away, and now this whole new level of emotional complexity has slapped me in the face.  It’s not the kind of depression that makes me want to stay in bed, close the curtains, and become a vampire.  It’s the kind that makes me swing ever so high and low.  I alternate between bliss and gloom.  The highs are out of control, where life appears to be full of amazing options and possibilities, and I can’t wait to jump on all of them.  The world vibrates with color and yumminess.  The lows, on the other hand, are not as fun.  The fire of the drive gets extinguished and I become a lump of misery full of stagnation, surrounded by the theme of death and abandonment.  And to think that this is just the hormones playing their devious games!

I used to hold a theory that we are all moving in an upward spiral.  I say “used to” because these days I find myself running in circles, and even frequently spiraling downwards.  It’s as if I am turning back into a child; one that’s in a constant state of a tantrum.  Then for a minute, I snap out of it, become an adult once more, shake my head at my immature behaviors, and remind myself that this is a process.  Until again, the tantrums come on and I degrade one more level, back to where I started some years back.

I have always been a sensitive person but sensitivity has now gained a whole new meaning in my life.  I cry when someone gives me a bad look, or when I accidentally kill an ant in my attempt to bring it outside to safety.  I scream in my car when someone cuts me off or when the traffic is not moving.  I cry for being an angry person.  I yell at my partner for not being there for me, when I don’t even know how to be there for myself.  Again, I cry.  I push him away.  I pull him in.  I throw lamps, kick walls, break things.  And then I sob, uncontrollably.  In the midst of my tantrums, I turn into a wild animal.  There is no reasoning with my mind in that state because my mind has been emptied of reasons.  The only reasons that are left are the ones worth crying over.

Where are these crazy emotions coming from?  I was told that anger is one of those forces that once expressed, gains power instead of dissipating.  I also read somewhere that the more I reject a part of myself, the stronger it becomes.  But I am having a really hard time accepting this “new” me because it’s ruining my life.  And like I would never do to a child, I scold the one in me, afraid to accept it and love it.  Sometimes I think that I’ve created a child in my emotional being so that there is someone to take care of, in the face of losing Leif.  I’m constantly trying to find some sort of tangible explanation for my madness.  The hormones don’t always resonate with the mind that seeks a more solid explanation.  Where the hell is the off button?

I have chosen the naturopathic path to recovery, hoping to bring back some balance into my life through good old herbs and acupuncture.  I’m tired of running into the wall, and just  really want harmony present in my life.  This has been a bumpy ride on a rocky road, to say the least.  But I’m still learning through it all.  Perhaps the learning is the upward spiral, after all.  The mind/heart space is a deep and complex space and experiencing new depths of it, as hard as the experience might be, is always in some way enlightening, even when the lights appear to be out.  Onward, I move, to see what exists around the bend…


A slippery, synthetic duvet is slowly suffocating me, pressing me into the pillows that feel like they’re filled with rocks.  I’m tossing and turning to the sounds of the Beagle snoring at my feet, on top of my feet.  More heaviness.  I can’t breathe.  My throat feels like it’s clogged and someone is stomping on my chest.  It’s emotion.  Feeling displaced.  Both, it, and I…

Where am I?  This was a place I called home at some point, for some time.  The room has been transformed from a colorful teenage chaos filled with posters of Weimaraners dressed up as people and the beautiful face of Jim Morrison, to now, an office with two computer monitors and a couch that pulls out for my arrival.  My mother is sleeping in the room next door, ecstatic to have her little girl home, to tuck her in to a bed that was made with love for a sleepless night.  I drift in and out of consciousness, looking for home on this couch-bed, but home was left behind in Boulder, Colorado, and home is out, dancing and being free for a night away from me.

I try to push the Beagle over, to make some room for breath, for blood to reach my tingling feet, and in the innocence of her sleep, she growls.  Why am I here?  I gaze over and next to me, buried under a ton of heavy air sits “The Tibetan Book of The Dead,” and I remember that I am here to heal.   Here to process the anger that has been erupting like a volcano, being projected at home, on home; the anger that they say is the final stage in the grieving process.  But if grieving is cyclical and if grieving is a process, then how can there be a final step?  Perhaps, a spiral into the ether?

The healing has been slow.  Is slow.  I’ve allowed the past to partially scab over, but picking my scabs has become a bad habit.  Sometimes, I just don’t want to forget.  I scratch to remember what I have lost, longing to hold it close to my heart.  Other times, I wish is to forget, but I bump into things that remind me, and the wounds re-open, get dirty, infected.  I bump into babies on the street, or people who don’t know.  I run into people who know but are too uncomfortable to face me.  I bump into smells, sounds, tastes.  I run myself crazy with memories.

I don’t know what I bumped into tonight, in the room from my past or the room of my dreams, but I am startled awake, remembering and feeling; the density of life.  I miss my home.  I miss Leif.  I miss all that never was.  I’m learning how to live so that I know how to die.  I’m trying.

There will be scars, no doubt.  Wounds like these don’t go unnoticed.  Anger alone leaves streaks behind, welts the size of small mountains.  But I will take scars any day over fresh wounds.  The scars show that I’m a survivor.  My heart beats stronger, and day by day, I’m healing just a little bit more.

Following the Body

It’s getting harder and harder to think in a linear way, to think logically, to think beyond this experience.  I’ve been advised to write, but how can I write when I can’t think?  How can I try to make sense of thoughts that are following the body?  Not just the body that has passed through and on, but the body that is still here, recovering slowly, dripping at the edges with wasted nutrition, now only absorbed by starry hemp pads.  How can I allow words to be written down and follow the body down the rabbit hole, where sadness and grief reside?  The body doesn’t know it.  The body is oblivious.  The body believes it has just given birth, whole and breathing, and now expects closeness of both bodies, closure of something that has been opened.  The mind follows this body, my body, that follows the scent of his body, still residing on my body.  The seams are popping at the edges, craving touch, wanting to hold what is no longer here, he with bright red lips and feet too big for his body.  The thoughts are confused, riding the roller coaster of emotions that come and go, and come again unexpected, like waves, like tsunamis, of tears, of sweat, of breast milk.  They don’t understand; reason cannot back them up.  There is nothing.  There is only a void that gets filled with visions no more exciting, not sufficient to keep the mind alert and active.  The drive for life has died along with him – my little hummingbird.

The uterus is closing, the pores are drying up, the body is slowly healing and shrinking to fulfill the space once occupied, to bring the space back to its original state, before the seed was planted.  The only miracle remaining open is the heart where emotions go and dwell.  This space of love painfully expands, stretches to dimensions not yet comprehended.  It beats, steadily, and in that beat, echoes and sounds reverberate that used to represent Life itself, growing and becoming.  Now that Life has passed on to a place that the mind with its thoughts cannot perceive as real, cannot digest as food, cannot rationalize within this body.  The body is human, it knows only of what it’s been programmed to understand.  There is a glitch in the system that seemed so perfect, that has kept me in awe over the past seven months.  It is a virus, contaminating thoughts which have no mind of their own, which follow the naivety of the body.  How can I think when all appears irrational?  How can I free my thoughts from the grips of error, in life, in the system, in the body?  How can I write?