Unacceptable Weakness

To those of you I call friends and family:

How could I possibly be so insensitive … to disregard how you must feel, what you’re going through?

After all you’ve been through, you just want to celebrate the new baby: Baby Rowan! Just like any other baby who’s arrived on this beautiful earth, Rowan is no different. You don’t really want to see photos of her at two weeks old; I think those photos are precious, but you try to hold back your grimace because she probably looks like an “alien” to you. What kind of person am I to show you such images? I am so sorry. Let’s just talk about Rowan when she’s out of the NICU in her cute little outfits, content as can be. Does that sound okay? Let’s just disregard this place in time, move along with our routines. Of course all you have to offer right now are congratulations. I appreciate your words of wisdom and encouragement; I bet you’ve never expressed such thoughts to new parents before, huh? The words you have to offer are so genuine, so sincere.

Oh, to mention your thoughts and prayers are with Rowan right now while she’s healing? No, no, no. Those words aren’t acceptable to write in a cute little card. We must. remain. happy. You have hearts of gold: Trying to help me “not remember” that my baby is in intensive care … oh, and my other baby is … um … dead. Were you sent from heaven as an angel to bring my heart healing?

I can’t imagine how difficult it is for you to know that Emmanuelle died. It must be terribly uncomfortable for you to mention her. Really, we ought to sit down for some coffee or tea so you can tell me how hard it is for you. Please, please don’t put yourself through more pain by sending me a text message asking how I am or acknowledging Emmanuelle. I mean, she was only here for, like, a sec. Her life doesn’t really count. I don’t know; it’s almost comparable to the loss of a beloved dog or something. Let’s just stick to Rowan. Let’s just talk about Rowan. No, not that Rowan is in the NICU, and her heart rate dropped to the 50s and oxygen saturation dropped to 19 two days ago. No, when I say let’s just talk about Rowan, what I mean is let’s just talk about happy, cute, girlie, baby shit. I don’t want to cause you more pain or make you uncomfortable.

To those of you I call friends and family:

You are not going to help me “not remember” the hell I’m living. Rowan is the most precious baby on this earth; she is my entire heart. She is everything … and the moment I feel secure regarding her health, it all goes to shit. She “forgets” to breathe; her heart rate and oxygen saturation drop dramatically; her skin turns “dusky” – another word for pale as shit; and you have to forcefully offer physical contact for her to get her shit together and come back to us.

You are not going to spare me an ounce of sadness by not mentioning Emmanuelle. Would you like to know how it makes me feel when you completely disregard the life and loss of my daughter? It hurts my feelings. I am offended, and it breaks my heart for Emmanuelle. This precious gift, this beautiful baby girl who deserved better. She deserved all the love her daddy and I had to offer. She deserved Christmas mornings. She deserved family vacations. She deserved fucking Disney World. And you disregard her. How dare you disregard her. But you’re only human, right? And talking about her makes you feel too uncomfortable. Well, let me tell you: I was not uncomfortable at all that morning as I witnessed my intubated daughter dying. As I watched nurses and doctors give her chest compressions. As I looked across the room and saw my husband sobbing. As the doctor looked to us for a solution, for the answer – to let her die. He explained to us how much damage had been done internally. He told us they were offering 120%, but Emmanuelle was giving nothing back. My active, lively girl who danced on the right upper area of my womb. She was now dying.

I’ve never been to a funeral. I’d never seen a dead person. I certainly had never watched anyone die. Until that morning. I witnessed the struggle and death of my child.

And you refuse to acknowledge it. Not me and my feelings. Not my sorrow and depression. I couldn’t give two shits about my feelings. You refuse to acknowledge Emmanuelle. Does her name give you shivers? E-M-M-A-N-U-E-L-L-E.

I don’t expect the world to care about my daughters and me. I do – however – expect certain family members to utter or type Emmanuelle’s name during our encounters. And if you’re going to send me a damn card, I don’t need you to tell me what an adventure parenting is. Trust me, I know; it’s been a mother fucking roller coaster.

We are so afraid to talk about feelings. It’s as if feelings and sadness are signs of weakness. It’s a bunch of bull shit. These things happen, people. This is real life. It’s messy and unfair. Not my-baby-mama-is-a-bitch unfair. Really unfair. Like a 1 pound 10 ounce baby who’s fighting for her life and is 100 times the warrior you’ll ever be no matter how many damn marathons you run.

But we can’t talk about that. We shouldn’t even whisper Emmanuelle’s name … because it makes you too fucking uncomfortable.


41 thoughts on “Unacceptable Weakness

  1. Bravo!!!!! This should be printed and handed out to every family member/friend of anyone who has had a newborn die. That you are able to write so articulately is a blessing for those who cannot. I do not know you, personally, but I can tell you that Emmanuelle is not forgotten by me. She matters to the world and her brief life outside of you mattered a great deal. Because of her, you are able to give voice to many other women who lack your gift of words.

  2. Emmanuelle is on my heart every time I see Rowan. And I even though I never met her I think about her often because of her name and the season. I heard a song on the radio yesterday and I hoped that hearing her name would bring you peace and that you could find even an ounce of joy in this season where her name would be whispered everywhere.

  3. Like Charity, I think about Emmanuelle every time I see Rowan. I think about how huge the void must be for you and your husband and how processing the joy and grief together must be so difficult. The four of you are on my heart. We’ll never forget your Emmanuelle.

  4. Oh, how I hated when people would pretend like L never existed. It it infuriated me. Emmanuelle and Rowan are in my thoughts. We are always here to listen and share about both of your daughters and Emmanuelle will not be forgotten. Sending a huge hug.

  5. I have never met you but I think about you and Emmanuelle and Rowen so often. Your beautiful daughter Emmanuelle will always be remembered by me. I am sending any strength and good thoughts to your precious Rowen. I can’t even begin to understand the pain– my heart breaks. Love to you all and a swift kick in the butt to the friends and family that need to wake up and be there for you.

  6. Love you girl. And your precious daughters. Good for you for speaking up. E is lucky to have you as her Mommy. You will never let her be forgotten. A love that sweet will never leave. Xoxo hugs and love.

  7. Such great courage it must have taken to write this! Sooo incredibly well written and true! BOTH of your girls are perfect. You are a wonderful momma to two beautiful, precious, perfect little girls! I haven’t walked what you are walking through, and I can’t even imagine the hell it must be. Emmanuelle will NEVER be forgotten. Hugs, XO

  8. I’m so sorry. It’s terrible how many people are too uncomfortable with death to even acknowledge our babies. The vast majority of my family never mentions our twins. Remembering Emmanuelle with you, and sending positive and stabilizing vibes for Rowan.

  9. I’m so sorry. People don’t know how to deal with loss so they try to keep it light. I think you should send a letter/email to your family and let them know that what you really need is to talk about the loss of your perfect baby and about the terrifying hell that is the nicu. They need to hear it.

  10. I can understand what you are feeling , but to the casual reader ..well..it comes off as CALLUS. Are your real family and friends reading your blog? I hope not. Because if they read it like I did ,with the loaded diapers of sarcasm and loathing, I wouldn’t say shit to you about any baby topic. Get a grip.

  11. Your sweet little Emmanuelle will always be remembered by me because you speak of her and Rowan both with such love and devotion. You are doing a great job of keeping her memory alive. It’s so hard for people to know how to react and how much you can handle talking about her. The one thing I have learned though that most people don’t seem to realize is that parents who have lost a child are almost always willing and happy to talk about their child. It’s healing and comforting to know that your baby girl will never be forgotten.

    I know that people just want to distract you from the situation with Rowan by reassuring you that she will be well and at home with you soon. No parent should have to go through the constant fear that you are having to experience. Hugs to you and baby Rowan.

    • My heart breaks for you that you feel alone in carrying on the memory of your precious daughtger. I think the truth might actually be closer to this commenter, “The one thing I have learned though that most people don’t seem to realize is that parents who have lost a child are almost always willing and happy to talk about their child.” This is so true and I would encourage you to keep showing people it’s OK to talk about her.

      I feel like it’s not that people are forgetting your Emme, it’s that they never will. Such a tragic event to happen to people they love more than anything and they feel powerless knowing nothing they will be able to say or do will take your pain away.

      Personally, I know that my husband and I will never ever forget our dear friend’s still birth even if we don’t say something about the baby every time we’re together. I do my best to continue the conversation though when my friends do bring the baby up. Grief is such a complicated emotion but I hope you find some support with the many who comment here.

  12. In case it helps: I think many strangers like me carry both Emmanuelle and Rowan in our hearts and minds because you have written about them and your love for them with such searing honesty.

  13. These words brought me so many tears. Tears for you, your husband and BOTH of your sweet girls, Emmanuelle and Rowan. You have been stronger than anyone should have to be. I’m so sorry that anyone in your family or your circle of friends are not acknowledging the reality in which you are living day in and day out. I pray that so very soon you are at least home with little Rowan and can begin to start relishing your motherhood. Not just to her, but in Emmanuelle’s memory as well. Stay strong my dear friend. I’m here for you if you need anything. xoxoxo

  14. As I’ve written before, you are so strong and your strength comes through in your beautiful writing. I am so glad that you feel comfortable here to be so honest. My heart aches for your sweet Emmanuelle. It aches for your warrior Rowan, for you and for your husband. Sending much love to all of you.

  15. I find it so sad that you even had to write this post. Your friends & family have also lost a beautiful little girl, Emmanuelle should be part of their lives as well. How can they not try and understand what you are going through?
    Emmanuelle did deserve all those things you mentioned, it is heart breaking that she won’t get to experience any of those fun and amazing things… But most of all, she deserved you and Allison… you deserved her, she was your little piece of perfection, I just know she would have been beautiful… just like her mum.
    So many of us are thinking of you, and wishing the days away until you can take Rowan home.
    Kia Kaha.

  16. I once wrote a blog post about the birth and death of Emmanuelle. It was never published. I felt as though I would be exposes your grief through my own grief, as it had not been made public that she died, and that it would be unfair and wrong; aaron asked me to keep it between family only, as my blog is public and shared on my FB and twitter…. Its not fair Emmanuelle died, its so shitty, and I never wanted anything bad to ever happen to you or them. If I ever offended you or failed to utter Emmanuelle I am very sorry. She deserves better. Aaron and I have discussed Emmanuelle and her death, many of time, to each other, and to our own children. I’ve thought so much about it and gave myself so much anxiety over the whole thing, you’d think I was going through it… We probably never talked about Emmauelle with you,out of fear that it would hurt your more; for that I am sorry I didn’t give you more credit, for being the strong person you are.

    As fair as pictures, they essentially show the hell you are in, you have every right to put them up. I think its a good thing to put them up. It gives us, the readers a better understanding and perspective of your struggle, as some of us have never seen or been in such a situation. The way we, your family and friends feel, is shitty and sad for you and your family, but also conflicted because we are so happy to see you as a mommy. It was planned on being twins, it was supposed to be; but now is not, and that is okay in its own shitty way, for some reason it was not meant to happen that way, and now God’s plan is Rowan. And Rowan is a fighter, she may be little, but that won’t stop her from fighting passed this; and so are you Allison, you are strong and a fighter! Its refreshing to see someone in love with their baby. I miss seeing it (from work).

    I love you, Chris, Rowan, and Emmanuelle ❤

    • Erin this really means a lot to me. I didnt realize Emmanuelle was mentioned among you guys. Maybe more family members discuss her than I realize. Thank you for sharing this with me; thank you for talking about her with Aaron. It may sound weird, but it means a lot to me.

    • J – Thank you for sharing this with me. I wish i could five Stuck a huge hug and just listen to her talk about anything she wants to talk about. I’m not a medical professional, but I have a hard time believing she miscarried because of her weight. It is sad her doctor burdened her with that “information”. I couldn’t agree with Sugar more – people who tell us to “get over” this hell we experience have clearly never had to endure something so heartbreaking.

  17. There’s not one day that passes by that I don’t think of you and your girls. Emmanuelle will always be remembered. She will not be forgotten by me or this wonderful community.

  18. I’ve thought a lot about this post, because I read it soon after you published it but didn’t manage to comment until now. I’ve kept you in my thoughts, and I’m sorry I haven’t been writing very much to tell you that.
    I feel like your anger at people’s denial is SO appropriate. I can see from the comments and from your posts that you have a loving circle of friends and family. I am not surprised that this is the response you are getting. People don’t have a script to know how to act in this situation. I’m sure everyone means well, but it is clearly so hurtful to have your daughter ignored in addition to being dead. You are right, the dignity of your daughter Emmanuelle needs to be upheld; she needs to be cherished and celebrated, even if she is not alive today. She is and will always be your precious daughter.
    I am very sad about your loss. I know there is immense joy in having Rowan here with you. And there is immense sadness for the loss of Emmanuelle.
    You and your husband are courageous and strong. I will continue to keep you in my thoughts, as you somehow make sense of your joy and your grief. And I will say your daughter’s name out loud: Emmanuelle.

  19. Praying for you. May God keep you strong and hold you as you and your husband wrestle with your grief and anger. I wish you didn’t have to suffer through this pain. Emmanuelle is such a beautiful name for your precious daughter. Praying for you and your family.

  20. My heart hurts for you. Having your whole heart be so fragile in the NICU is very difficult, but you also have a large piece of your heart missing. I’m so sorry people are acting like nothing ever happened and it’s all sunshine and roses. Emmanuelle deserves to be remembered and acknowledged, right along with Rowan. Hugs to you.

  21. Thinking about Jesus as Emmanuel during this Christmas season has me thinking about your sweet Emmanuelle. It’s a God-with-us time, and I wish your girl was with you, in your arms. It’s not fair. But I pray that she will live on in many, many hearts and never be forgotten. I hate that you feel like she already has been. You should never be made to feel that way. She deserves more than that; she deserves to be treasured in her mother’s heart always and in the hearts of all who know and love you.

  22. I’m a random stranger who has been reading your blog for a while now–I think since you first announced you were pregnant with your girls. I haven’t faced infertility, but my brother in law and his wife have. They finally had beautiful baby boy/girl twins three weeks ago using donor eggs and a surrogate. However, they were born at 25 weeks. Devastatingly, the little girl, Nicolette, died yesterday during surgery. I’m telling you this because your blog has given me such insight into their grief and what they might be feeling. I thank you got sharing your story, so I might be a more compassionate sister to them. I don’t know if you get alerts for comments on old posts, but I’m commenting here bc this post is the one I keep remembering when I think of them. I will acknowledge Nico. A lot of rambling–but basically–thank you for sharing your feelings!

    • I am so sorry to read about the loss of precious Nicolette. 😦 What a beautiful name. God bless your brother-in-law and his wife. I cannot imagine that much loss. Please offer them my condolences. What a privilege for me to help you gain insight on what they might be going through … xoxo

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