I am blessed to have Zoie on the blog today. This is post she wrote (first anonymously) about her own experience being suicidal after the birth of her stillborn daughter. Today she is ready to share her journey publicly here on Motherhood Unadorned in honor of Suicide Prevention Week. I am very thankful she is still here today to do so.
Trigger Warning: For stillbirth and suicide ideation
GUEST POST By: Zoie, Yogini mama to three boys on earth and one girl who soars. She has been known to bust out ardha chandrasana pose while unloading the dishwasher and enjoys seeing how far her partner can roll his eyes at her hippy ideals. She wiggles her toes near the San Francisco bay and waggles her fingers at TouchstoneZ: Gentle Parenting and Mindful Living off the Mat. You can also find her neglecting her Facebook page in favor of Twitter.
This post was previously published anonymously for the Naked Pictures of Faceless People Series at Raising My Boychick. I am grateful to the blog owner and all around amazing person, Arwyn, for creating and holding the space for me to share my truth until I was ready to take ownership of my words publicly.
We had been sequestered in our home for days. I was so fragile that I could crack and crumble to the floor if I began thinking about anything more than breathing in and out. I had my husband, but he didn’t understand. I had my 14 month old, but he didn’t understand. I had friends who might understand, but I wouldn’t let them help me.
I ventured out of the house because the fall weather was calling to my 14 month old and I couldn’t keep him from life even though I was no longer with the living. I strapped him into his carseat tightly and took him to the playground.
He couldn’t wait to be free of me as I lowered him to the grass at the side of the car. He ran toward the slide and I panicked. I slammed the car door shut and quickly caught up his hand in mine. He smiled his sunlit smile and I tried to respond like I used to.
I climbed to the heights above the smallest slide, placed my son carefully on my lap and slowly slid down, cradling him tightly against me to protect him. I made certain not to allow any of his limbs to extend outward because a broken joint could happen so quickly on a slide.
When my feet touched the ground, he squirmed away from me and ran back to the steps. I struggled to catch him up, but he was already climbing up and there were children between us. He was at the top of the towering play structure, a full three feet off the ground, and I knew I was about to watch my child die.
I watched from my trapped mind as he fell those three feet onto the padded, recycled tire covering around the play structure. I saw with my horror-filled imagination as his head hit the padding and crushed his life away. In my imagination, I couldn’t get to him in time to save him.
As he slid down the slide and ran up behind me giggling, I was frozen in my horrible panicked fantasy. My 14 month old son would die within my imagination just as surely as my daughter had died within my body a few days earlier. She was twenty-three weeks when her heart failed. I knew she was already dead when I gave birth to her body unassisted at home.
If I was going to let my son live, then I needed to stop hovering. Walking 10 feet away from the play structure to sit on the bench was hard. I wasn’t sure I would make it without crumbling apart, but I did it. I could do that for my son, if not for myself.
I did crumble when a playgroup arrived shortly after with three heavily pregnant mothers, smiling and unknowing how painful it was to see them. I cried silently behind my Jackie O sunglasses and watched my son play. I still believed that he would fall to his death at any moment.
Once I had myself together enough to gather up my son and get back to the car, we returned to our house and I began my new plan. I was staying alive to give my son breastmilk, but if I pumped and built up a large enough freezer stash, I felt I could be free to end my life.
Unfortunately, my husband was warned by my midwife to watch me for such a plan. He told me to get some professional help. I fought against it, but agreed to do it as long as I could continue unhindered in my milk-stash plan.
I look back on this time after having birthed two more thriving baby boys. If my daughter had survived, I would not have my second and third sons. I have not reconciled my desire for all four of my children to be alive with me. But, I have found a sort of peace in the exercise of letting my children run and play without a hovering mom. It is getting easier, even though it is not getting better. I no longer keep any milk stashed in my freezer.
A related post, the story of my daughter’s stillbirth will go live on Friday, in memory of her birthday: http://touchstonez.com/2011/