Thursday, 21 August 2014

Remembering Stevie...

We are all in Sands because a precious baby has died.    Some of us have found it easy to talk about our experiences and our emotions.  Others have grieved in silence.    Some of us have the comfort of supportive partners, family and friends.  Some of us have felt very alone.  Some of us have felt judged -  our babies died in the early weeks of pregnancy - our babies had abnormalities incompatible with life - we shouldn't have been pregnant in the first place (too young, too old, too poor, unmarried ...)

Everyone in Sands has a  story .  "Stevie's Story" is about grieving a baby lost through termination.  It is a story full of pain and anguish, but also of support and hope. 


6 December 1968, Parramatta

Remembering Stevie means different things to me at different times. Let me walk through it as (chrono)logically as I can.

Just after his birth I was confused, distressed, deeply shocked. Shocked to see a perfect, albeit small baby at 20 weeks. I knew immediately I hadn't terminated a blob of cells unrecognizable as human. I had to remember him – remember him as he was – translucent – beautiful – a perfect baby. I had to remember him. He had to be a thorn in my side to remind me of my failure as a mother – a failure as a human being. So I named him Steven, Steven to remind me that what I had done was unforgivable – there was no penance that could atone. Being told Stevie was hospital waste, not acknowledged by his father, not acknowledged by society served to reinforce by belief my life was to be a continuum of pain. That it was. Even as I write this my heart is breaking.

The next day I went back to work. Stevie was locked deep inside my heart. Life went on – somehow and I don’t remember how. We were married a month later and Stevie never mentioned. It was as though he had never been conceived; never been born. Stevie was locked deep in my heart – I remembered him day after day.

The years passed and I no longer conceived. Was it any wonder? I had killed Stevie – I did not deserve another child. In February 1977 I was diagnosed with cancer on the uterus, two days later I was in surgery; 2/3 pf the uterus were removed and I was receiving radiation therapy– I was to be punished by not being able to have children. Stevie was locked in my heart and he reminded me of my iniquity day after day.
In June 1977 when I was in hospital for radiation treatment it was confirmed I was pregnant and was told I needed to terminate the pregnancy immediately; the risk of the baby being deformed, retarded would be too great. Various tests confirmed the child would be severely disabled. Termination would be the only kind thing. Stevie was locked deep in my heart and reminded me what termination was and what it would be. Would I kill another child? Stevie was locked deep in my heart. I told no one of the risk and refused to have the child aborted. In January 1978 my daughter was born; she was healthy – she had no disabilities. The amniocentesis had given a wrong result. Stevie was locked in my heart and I was afraid I would forget him now.

Two and a half years later my second son was born. Stevie knocked on my heart’s door reminding me of all the experiences I had missed with him. My children were what I was living for. Without them I was less than nothing. I could never atone for taking a life.
My rainbow children grew up, flew the coop and with that my purpose for living. There was no point in continuing. I decided on exitus and began to plan and collect the tools I needed … and Stevie was locked deep inside my heart.

And this is where a good friend joined the story. He showed me I needed to liberate Stevie and he started by saying his name. He validated his existence by saying his name. By saying his name he could not be forgotten and he also introduced me to Sands. I can see it clearly now, how – starting with preparing for Stevie’s first memorial and chatting with a Sands supporter at the same time step by step Stevie was carried into my heart – precious and loved – no longer locked up in its deepest depths.
I feared Stevie would eclipse my living children; I learnt by dividing my love between the children it did not become less – it grew.

Lacking any mementos from the time Stevie was born I made memories and to my surprise the Sands community rallied around me when I was down, whenever I needed it. On 9 December last year, dozens of mums in the Sands community had changed their profile picture to honour Stevie and I was overwhelmed by their kindness. Stevie became a part of my family – there to see – embraced in my heart together with my living children. Whenever I think of Steven I also think of my unnamed brothers – brothers I have named in my heart.

In the meantime, I have a number of things to remind me of Stevie, beginning with the copy of the memorial service. There is the Phoenix Ben a young friend drew for me, there’s Harry a lovely peacock given to me for Stevie’s 45th birthday, a Christmas bauble with a peacock feather in it, there is the NameArt and the pencil drawing and a pendant with the names of all my children. With or without these things I shall always remember Stevie. Since I have a pencil sketch of Stevie I no longer see him in that hospital bed gasping for breath. In fact when I think of Stevie I don’t think of him as a baby at all any more – no, he’s grown up. I now visualise him as a man in his mid-forties. I feel I have reached a milestone. I certainly know I'm at peace with that part of my past.

If you require support after reading this blog please contact Sands on 13 000 72637

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