The Domino Effect

The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on, in a linear sequence.  The term is best known as a mechanical effect, and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes (according to Wikipedia.)

I started writing this blog for multiple reasons.

First and foremost, after my son Finley died, after only being alive for 13 short hours, a chapter I still need to write in the context of this blog, I could not find any help, anywhere.  I read every book I could find in the spiritual or self help section of the bookstore or on-line, and every book that generous and thoughtful people, sometimes friends but mostly acquaintances, had sent my way.  I talked to others who had suffered loss.  I joined a chat room for fellow bereaved mothers.  I looked in nature, in my heart, and at the beautiful photo I have of that little boy who looked so much like his Dad.  And still, nowhere could I find the answer as to why things had happened; how that little person had come into our life and then we had been robbed, nay, raped of the opportunity to care for him.

And then after he died, and as my journey to become a parent to a living child became a march, a militant focus for which there would be no distractions, even though I knew others who had suffered from fertility challenges who had ended up on ‘the other side’, as I say, I still couldn’t find answers as to why some people had been blessed with children to parent, and that we had not.

I wanted to share my experiences so that any one else who had ever felt so alone, so deserted, upon finding my blog, might feel a little less sad, a little less alone, perhaps no longer suicidal or even homicidal.  (I do not suffer from either of those very serious emotional states currently, but without question I have been filled with so much hate and longing and pain that I suspect if I did not have a good husband, some very key supportive people in my life, the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and therapy, that if I were a different person, this could have been a solution for me during an earlier time; my darkest days.)

The second reason I wrote this is to write a love letter to my son.  His spirit is with me, and I know he knows how much I love and miss him, but being a parent to an angel, with my only tangible proof being an urn of ashes, one photograph, and a picture of the size of his little feet, I needed to do something more tangible so that others know that he was here. When people die, they are said to have left their legacy.  For most people, those who have not created memorable works of art or been parts of revolutions or done something important in medicine, that legacy is their children.  And I am not ready to die any time soon, but g-d damnit, Finley is my legacy, and while I am alive, it is my job as his mother to make sure that people speak his name, that they know how much he was loved and wanted by his parents.

The third reason I began this blog is to see if I could help my self at all; find my way; sift through the ashes of my emotional tumult and pain, to see if I could find answers as to why he came and left so quickly.  Moreover, perhaps I could find the answer as to why our next child has not come yet.

And in doing so, in writing this blog, in putting myself in such a raw state with no make-up, no fancy purse, no beautiful jewelry, no small talk, and no barriers, I have created a community of love and support around me that I could not have imagined.

The other day, at a work lunch, an associate sat next to me and started telling me about some pain that she’d been having in her uterus.  She bylined the small talk that is so common in my industry, and started talking about something important; her health, her wellbeing, and she did so because she knew that she could trust me with her truth.  I don’t know what the pain she was experiencing is associated to yet; she told me she is going to see another doctor to research this further, but I feel confident that she knows that I am here for her, if there is anything she wants to tell me.

Also the other day I took a work call from an associate, a woman I’ve known for just over 2-years, who I am convinced I knew from a past life.  She rattled off the work questions and then said, “Lorraine, I was thinking, after reading your last blog and since I know what your next steps are, that if I were a few years younger, if this were a few years ago, I would offer to be your surrogate.”

This is a woman who I sat across from at a holiday work party; I remember we were engrossed in talking about her grandmother and what a strong woman she was, and then I saw a twinkle in her eyes, and no, it was not from the eggnog.

This twinkle was likely something that nobody else would have noticed, but what I saw was a flash of her spirit that came through when she was speaking with love about her grandmother.  I remember freaking out a little bit, and telling her that I had just recognized her soul, and I could not continue chatting with her any more because it was just too intense for a holiday work party!

When she said those words to me, offering to be my surrogate if it were a few years earlier, I was stunned and speechless.

Our next steps don’t, in fact, include the need for a surrogate, but the fact that she would even utter that thought, that her heart had opened up so completely that she could even go there, is without question the most generous thing anyone has ever said to me.

These are two examples that immediately come to my mind of this domino effect that has had.  There are so many others, really – countless, but these personal experiences, these loving notes, these spiritual connections I have had with people are a tremendous benefit of wearing my heart on my sleeve, and sharing my loneliness, my desperation, my love letter, with you all.

And I am supremely grateful for this, and yet I am stunned and helpless right now as to how to help two other mothers I know who are suffering:

Someone in my industry just lost her child.  He was less than a year old, and had been diagnosed in January (I believe) of what was apparently a fatal disease. I saw a picture of him on Facebook, and the image is now engrained in my heart; I don’t actually know the woman, but since I learned her little boy died I have had a gulp in my throat that won’t go down; I can’t seem to swallow the fact that another set of parents is suffering the unspeakable pain right now, as I type, of the fact that their son is dead.  Makes me want to throw up, actually.  Eventually I will write her a note and tell her about all of the books that I read that did nothing for me; I’ll share my website info with her; I’ll tell her that her pain is my pain, but the fact is that these parents are without question inconsolable.

When I told Craig about this yesterday, he said “I can’t imagine…” and then stopped himself and said, “well I can, but I just can’t….” I think what he meant to communicate is that he can’t imagine being in that state again; in the early stages of shock and grief that your son, your flesh and blood, has died.

Even to those who have experienced the exact loss, the thought of losing their child is unimaginable.  That is how intense it is.

The other mother who is suffering is a woman I know who could not get pregnant (she does not ovulate regularly and had a failed IVF / surrogate effort), and so she and her husband moved forward with adoption. About 1.5 months ago I saw a picture on Facebook of their son, who had just been born, and they were fostering with the intent to move the foster parent relationship into adoption.  Every day for over a month there was a new photo up, showing her and her husband loving and caring for their son; showing me that dreams DO come true.

And then 2 weeks ago I learned that someone in the bureaucracy made a mistake, a serious mistake, in over-looking that this little boy actually had a grandmother who was now ready to take him into her care, her custody, permanently.  This couple I know fell in love with this little boy immediately (likely had fallen in love with him long before they met him), only to have him taken from them after 33 days in their care.

I cried when I learned this; it makes me question my faith, quite frankly, as how could and why would G-d and the universe be so cruel?  These parents who have waited so patiently, and been so diligent, nay, militant with their intent, now robbed of the opportunity to love this child, a little boy who they immediately took in as their own son.

And I wrote her a note, because that’s all I can do that is tangible.  But I was thinking that maybe we could put into effect that domino effect here:  Will you who have been so gracious with your prayers and positive energy for me now extend your prayers and strength to those parents, please?  I don’t know what else we can give them, but I know that your prayers and good energy has kept me warm and loved and I want to do anything we can for these others who are hurting.

Craig and I are in the midst of next steps. I am a mother to my next child already, it is written in the stars – I know – but the journey continues as to how that dream is fulfilled.

It is amazing, truly fascinating, the range of emotions I am feeling. I am still not going to share what it is in writing; I am not sharing yet because I am still processing the enormity of this decision.

But to put it in context: A few days ago I texted to my husband that I was in the process of writing the checks for our next steps.  I used an explanation point and he responded, “Okay!”.

Then, as I wrote in the subject line of that exact check that which had moments before brought me such joy and resolution and hope, I burst into tears.

It is surreal being me; living this life, or this nightmare, in this state of purgatory; not knowing from one minute to the next how I might feel.  But I am strong; my husband and I are resolute, and we are led by faith and surrounded by loving thoughts and energy from each of you wonderful people who take the time to go on this journey with me.

To be continued…


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