Thursday, July 30, 2009

Losing You

I am losing you.
All over again I am losing you.
How did it feel to carry you in my belly?
I try so hard to picture you there,
my hand reaches up to remember
but finds nothing in the soft emptiness
except the crooked scar from your birth.
I am losing you.
How did it feel to rock you in my arms?
They still cry out in pain for you,
but can no longer recall
that feeling of sweet fulfillment?
I am losing you.
How did it feel to hold you close to my chest?
I close my eyes,
offer the same tap-tap, tap-tap against it as I had to your back,
but it's not the same.
I am losing you.
I am trying to remember through the anger and the grief,
to hold on to what was good.
But, I am losing you.
To the memories of
the diagnosis,
the tears,
the fear and the hopelessness,
watching you take that last breath.
To all that I wish could be forgotten
I feel myself losing you all over again.
~Kristin Binder

Monday, July 27, 2009


This morning we had a visit from the contractor who is doing some repairs on our house. Yes, since Peyton died, our house has inexplicably fallen apart. At first I thought it was God's way of trying to distract us from the hell that we were going through. The first major problem, a flooded basement and burst pipe, was discovered as we were trying to rush out of the house to be at Peyton's side for an extremely serious surgery. This was the surgery that revealed the deep set fungal infection that chemo had allowed to inhabit our child's nose, the same infection that ultimately ended her life. That infection was like watching the battle between good and evil played out before our eyes. In that battle, evil won. Someday I may write about it, about the horror and pain that came with that infection, but for now I am still traumatized at the thought of it, and it is just too painful and fresh to share. A hundred years will pass, and I don't think that pain will ever leave. I used to think that people died of Cancer. I now know the truth, they die of chemo.

We bought our house six months after our wedding, a 4 bedroom colonial that we were going to fill quickly with children, and spent the first two years here in newlywed/homeowner bliss, having to do hardly any repairs. Now, since Peyton's passing in October, we have dealt with unblocking a water tank, replacing the guts of our furnace, repairing the water acid neutralizer, repairing our water heater, replacing a well pump, repairing cracking ceilings, replacing a gutter that a sheet of ice ripped off the back of our house, replacing our garage doors and openers after one nearly caught fire, and now, the creme de la creme, having to rebuild our screen porch, a porch that raised no red flags during our home inspection just three years ago, and has suddenly been deemed "unusable and on the verge of collapse" by the local building inspector. This all brings me back to the contractor and the comment he made to me this morning, and the day before that, and the week before that, and the month before that. In fact, this man, a lucky father of two, has felt the need to make the same comment to me in some manner every single time he has seen me for the last month or so.

"Is that the baby?" The contractor asked, pointing to the Thank You cards from Peyton's funeral with her picture on it.
"Yes, that's Peyton."
"What a sweet angel."
"Yes she was."
"No, yes she is. And how lucky you are."
"Not many people are so lucky to have their baby looking down on them from heaven."
"I mean, you are luckier than me, I don't know my guardian angel."
"I have to get going-"

Lucky? Lucky? How can someone look into the exhausted eyes of a broken woman; a woman who stands in her empty, childless house; a woman who was on the receiving end of one in fifty million odds; a woman who birthed and buried her child in the span of a month, and call her lucky? "Are you serious?" I wanted to scream. No, I would not call that lucky.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Mel's Show (instead of) Tell #62

Last month, as I had mentioned here, my husband and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. I feel so blessed that he is my partner, and thank God every day for having led me to him. Our relationship is different than it was before Peyton's birth. Really, how could it not be? There are days when there is a distance in the silence that was never there before, and others where we hold fast to each other. We have been devastated beyond words at losing our baby girl, and for the most part have grieved in completely different ways. But through it all, we have remained together.

To celebrate our anniversary we took a few days to get away and visited Newport RI. We needed to be out of this house and spend some time on "us." We are very different, complete opposites in many respects. He keeps most of what he is feeling inside, while I pour every emotion out onto the page, this blog, or in conversation. Sometimes, on the darkest days, I have wondered if there is anyone, my husband included, that really "gets me" anymore. During this trip he showed me that he still does.

In early June I had written a post about my journey through this grief. It is actually the post that I am most proud of, and for some of you will be a repeat, but I am including it below. The post was entitled
Sea Glass. It read:

It was recommended months ago that I find a journaling through grief group to help me process some of the emotions that came with losing Peyton. I was lucky to find a group to meet with on a near weekly basis, and the support from these women over the last several months has meant more than any words that I could write. This weekend I went on a retreat with them to the Mercy Center in Madison. I walked along the shoreline, combing the sand for something to bring back to Peyton that was representative of my experience with the group. I found three beautiful shells; one yellow, one orange, and one brown and white, that looked like the face of an eagle. I also found three beautiful pieces of seaglass; blue/green, clear, and brown. When I went for my daily visit with Peyton on the top of the hill where she is buried, I shared with her my experience from the weekend and what I had found for her. I described to her what shells were, how they ended up on the beach and what they looked like. I told her why I had chosen the ones I had, and detailed the vibrance of their colors. Then, placing them near her picture, I moved on to tell her about the three pieces of seaglass that I was holding in my hands; and in starting to speak about them, realized just how much their experience mirrored mine.

I told Peyton how most people find seaglass on the beach and admire its beauty, without giving much thought to all it has endured to wash up there. Like the bottle that these smooth pieces of glass came from, at first I was shiny and full and had purpose; but then she passed and it shattered me. Sharp and broken, I cut out in every direction, the pain so overwhelming that it hurt those who reached out to hold me. The grief and the anger dulled my spirit, and the waves of emotions pounded me relentlessly. The reminders of losing her were everywhere, crashing down on me without reprieve. As I entered Peyton's bedroom - crash. As I passed happy mothers on the street - crash. As I felt the emptiness she left in my arms - crash. I tossed and turned in that current, and was left disoriented by its attack. My sense of direction gone, I just prayed to safely reach the shore. In an instant, I, like the broken bottle, lost my ability to hold, support and protect what had come from within me. The tears washed over me, leaving only dullness where there had once been shine, and yet through it all, like the sea glass, I am still here.

This beach is certainly not what I had expected, and sometimes when the tide comes in real high, I can feel the waves coming back for me, but I won't give in. I know that no matter how safely I land in the sand, the rhythm of those waves will always be close enough to feel, but I am staking my claim on this piece of shoreline, and in doing so, know that I will be left standing. I am forever changed. My life had been clear and transparent, each step seemingly planned out for me before I reached it, my purpose well defined. Life has deepened me, washed a different perspective over me that I could never have imagined, and left me worn. I, like the blue/green, clear and brown shards of glass that I found this weekend, have stood in the path of the universe, feeling each blow in its efforts to pound me out of existence, and like the shards of glass, have not been lost to the sea.

People walk the beach and see pieces of seaglass, something tangible to take home as a reminder of a trip, but I know that there is so much more to their story. I know that these smooth little stones hold a special kind of beauty and wisdom, one that can only be attained by surviving the journey.

And so this brings me to the showing. After spending the day talking and walking through Newport my husband pulled me into a shop. "I found you the perfect anniversary gift," he told me, with pride in his eyes. Taking my hand, he brought me to a glass case. "See," he said pointing, "one for each year we have been married, and it's seaglass, just like you." I was so touched. This was the first time he had ever told me that he'd read my blog.

And so today I share with all of those following
mel's show and tell , my beautiful seaglass necklace, the gift that means more to me than any other. When my husband couldn't find the words to tell me that he still understands, that he still "gets me", it was with this necklace that he showed me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Swirling, Unforgiving, Nauseating, Heart Pounding Questioning

My baby died of Cancer.
Sometimes this very sentence sends me reeling. How could this happen? How could my child, formed of immense love and carried within me, enter this world with the chips so severely stacked against her? A one in fifty million chance, was that some kind of a joke? When you worry about what can go wrong in a pregnancy, you never picture this. It is simply unimaginable. How could her body have betrayed her so cruelly? How could her blood have been riddled with Cancer at its creation? Why were there no warnings? I was her Mother, how could I have not known? Sometimes I lose days on end, lost in the swirling, unforgiving, nauseating, heart pounding questioning.
Since losing Peyton, I feel unable to escape stories of sick children fighting for their lives. Each blog, it seems, has a button with another story of a sick child needing prayers. Click after click, I read these stories and pray that God will show these children a level of mercy and healing that he did not bestow upon my child. And with each story, I wonder how many more Mothers need to leave hospitals with empty blankets, aching arms, and broken hearts?
It is as if I am seeing the unforgiving nature of this world for the first time. How can this be? Was it always this way; a world filled with the suffering of children? How could there have been so many Mothers with broken hearts out there, without me knowing? How could I have been so naive to believe that terminal illness was for the old? How could I have thought that those that I loved were immune to the evils of Cancer? Was I that proud? Was I that self centered?
Last night I stumbled upon a story about a beautiful little girl named Abigail, who is fighting Leukemia, the same vicious disease that took my Peyton. Abigail's chances are much better than Peyton's. She is older, three or so, and has already made it through several months of chemo. She falls into an age range with a 90% plus cure rate, my poor Peyton was looking at a percent of a percent at best.
While reading her story, scrolling through her page, and admiring the strength of faith displayed by her parents, I found myself sucker-punched and unable to breathe. The right side of her blog had a picture of Abigail with her parents, it read "us with our sweet Abigail who was diagnosed with Leukemia on Oct. 2nd, 2008." Reading that, my heart broke at the realization that on the very day that my sweet Peyton drew her last breath in the battle against Leukemia, this little girl was just beginning the fight. I sat there, staring at the date in awe, knowing that our lives, and that of Abigail's parents, came crashing down on the very same day... and I prayed to God to grant this child the miracle that we had so wanted for Peyton, the miracle of a cure.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


The roses sit atop her there
in fields of green where wildflowers bloom,
So pink and delicate and fair
they stand brave soldiers at her tomb.
To watch o’er her and company keep
as she lays just below the earth,
A cruel and unjust game of odds
ending her life so near her birth.
When did this world, once thought so warm
become a place where children die,
and mothers with their chests beat bare
scratch at the dirt and wail and cry?
The future had once seemed so bright
when dreams were dreamt through eyes naïve;
yet when now viewed through loss’s lens,
there is no happy dream perceived.
Could it be I’m that fortune’s fool
as penned in scene so long ago;
why meet her, love her, hold her near
to just be forced to let her go?
~Kristin Binder

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Today, while out with my husband and parents, an oddly dressed woman approached us.
"I am a Shaman," she said as she reached us. "I look at people and can see things about them."
My parents had been speaking with another woman about some fundraising that she was doing to assist a local homeless shelter, and asking them to donate. At the news that a spiritual advisor was nearby, this woman jumped forward excitedly asking the Shaman to do a reading for her. The Shaman told of her future, of her health and family, of things to come; and all the while, the woman being read nodded in agreement, broke into smiles, and seemed genuinely happy with what she was being told.
"She's spot on," the woman said, "she was exactly right!"
"Do her next," my mother said smiling and pointing at me, "what do you see for her?"
The Shaman turned towards me and I offered her nothing. I said nothing. Deep down I hoped she would say something like, "your daughter is at peace" or "she says to tell you that she knows how much you love her." I hoped she would give me some hope, some relief from the burden this guilt and loss has placed over me.
The Shaman sized me up from top to bottom, and then looking quite sure of her intuition, began to speak.
"Well, I can tell you have been very happy lately..." she began, and the false hope placed on her words were lost. I am sure she said more, but I was no longer listening. Could any statement possibly have been farther from the truth?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mel's Show and Tell #61

Last year, while six months pregnant and preparing for a housewarming party, I came across a mother bird nesting in the rhododendron off the deck outside of my kitchen window.

Day after day I would watch her sitting vigil over her eggs, warming them, keeping them safe, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of her little ones. We were so different, this little bird and me, and yet so much the same in our journey towards motherhood. About a month or so later, the little ones hatched.

I continued to watch how this mother bird cared for them, feeding them, protecting them from the larger birds that attempted to reach her nest. I wondered how long I would be blessed by their presence before they went off into the big world, and felt sad for the struggles that nature imposed on this poor bird in her attempts to keep them with her and safe. I felt for her knowing how limited her time with them would be before they left the nest.

I don't know exactly when these little ones found their wings and flew. I lost track of them with Peyton's birth, her illness and passing, and the grief. In the past week I was outside looking over some work that is being done off the back of our house, and noticed the empty nest still sitting in the tree. Like Peyton's empty room, I found in that nest another reminder of how brief life can be, how quickly a mother can lose so much when her child leaves. Like those baby birds, my child too earned her wings too quickly. And, like that mother bird, I too had to say goodbye.

This is my first attempt at participating in Mel's show and Tell. Please visit this link to see what others are showing and telling.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Questions from the Outside

I feel like an outsider looking in
on what should have been,
how my life could have been,
as those around us birth healthy children with ease
and bring them home.
In my joy for them
my heart is breaking,
the emptiness in this house stinging me,
as the questions come calling without fail.
How could this happen?
Why did this happen?
How did I end up here?
When will I get my turn to be a mom like the others,
and say the baby kept me up all night,
without referring to nightmares and second guessing?
As children, when something didn't go right
we asked for a second chance, a do-over,
and received one.
Where is my do-over?
I have begged God,
pleaded for one,
but my prayers have fallen on deaf ears.
I want to do so much of it over,
to make different decisions and see if we could have saved her.
I want to know motherhood as a joyful experience,
and shake off the cold of being left outside.
I want to know when my penance
of pain and guilt and sorrow and tears will be paid.
I want to be let in.
~Kristin Binder

Monday, July 13, 2009

Time to Vent

I have decided to try something new...

I don't really know who is reading this blog, but I figure that those who do come here are probably on their own journey through loss (child loss, infant loss, miscarriage, infertility, loss of loved one etc etc). In an effort to find comfort in knowing that I/you/we are not alone in our feelings when the wrong words are said, I have decided to start a comments post on this topic. We will see how it goes, and maybe do this on other topics in the future.

I have written a few times about platitudes (everything happens for a reason etc) and other hurtful comments and just simply stupid things that people have said to me since Peyton died. Sometimes people say things and you smile politely knowing that they couldn't possibly have meant to hurt you with their words, other times they send you through the roof with their callous stupidity. This post is intended to offer you the opportunity to respond the way you wish you had at the time.

Here is how this will work.

Click the Comments below this post.
Choose to Comment Anonymously if you like.

Here I will go first:
To the person that wrote to me asking what I had done to give my daughter cancer so that they could make sure not to do the same in their own pregnancy... how dare you! Are you really that stupid? I will tell you what I did. I ate organic foods. I exercised five days a week until my ninth month. I was a fanatic about prenatal care. Can you, with your pointed finger and stupid questions say that you did the same? And yet, you were blessed with healthy children. Are you really so self centered that you didn't know that this question would linger in my mind? Do you not think that I have spent every second of every day scrutinizing why and how this could happen to Peyton, to us? You, with little effort, have beautiful healthy children. Maybe you should be spending less time slinging blame and accusations at me, and more time thanking whatever God you pray to for your good fortune.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A Family, A Mountain, A Moment

This weekend, my husband and I spent a lot of time together, just the two of us, hiking and talking. We visited People's State Forest in Barkhamsted on the Fourth of July, travelling along the Jesse Gerard Trail. We talked about life, about our surroundings, and of course, about our sweet little Peyton. Having nearly reached the top of the mountain, a butterfly, small and white, floated between the two of us, lingering for awhile. I always associate butterflies with Peyton now. We had decorated her steel crib in the hospital with butterflies in a desperate effort to make it feel less cold and clinical; and it has been during some of my lowest moments at Peyton's grave, that these beautiful little creatures have appeared and brought comfort. "Look, it's Peyton." I said to Dru, and we followed as she floated and fluttered before us, up a path and to a beautiful lookout.

The view from atop this rock overlooked the Farmington River, with it's kayakers in brightly colored vessels dancing along the river's bends down below. I wondered how many miles away could be seen from here, and marvelled over the sense of calm that the area below us held from this vantage point. It's amazing how disconnected I have been feeling from that calm these last several months. It was because of the peace in this area that we had decided to settle here, to start our life, to raise a family. My heart welcomed the peace this day. "I can't imagine anything more beautiful than this place?" I said. The view was literally taking my breath away.

I told Dru I felt like Peyton was there with us, that she had offered us this moment, this reprieve to sit among beauty, among each other and be at peace. We thought of her, talked about how we wished she was taking this adventure with us, strapped to our back in a carrier. For a moment, up on that overlook, I imagined how wonderful that would have been. We were not, of course, the first people to discover this lookout, and the remnants of a campfire laid charred in the rock where we stood. I reached into the fire and pulled out a large piece of charcoal, handing it to Dru. "Write her name," I said, "I want a record of her here." We walked the rock finally choosing an area that faced what we thought to be the most beautiful view, and Dru went to work.

As we stood back to admire his handywork, the sun came shining upon us with all of its brightness, allowing us to cast our shadows and love down over her name.

We sat there with her for awhile, breathing her in, before readying ourselves to head back to the trail towards home, looking over our shoulders once more at the name of our lost child on that rock, among so much beauty.

I know in my heart that Peyton had brought us there, to share that place, that moment. I could feel her love and presence all around us. I knew that we had shared this experience, all three of us, as a family.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

9 Months In Womb, 9 Months In Tomb

How ironic that I should no sooner post my writing on feeling numb, on having lost my tears, on my disconnect from emotion this morning, to only be sent back to that bitter sobbing abyss this afternoon. I don't know what brought it on, perhaps the fact that today marks nine months. Nine months, a time frame that should signify life, a beginning, not death. Nine months in womb, nine months in tomb. I went for my daily visit with Peyton today, told her about the grayness of the skies and the beauty of a hawk flying overhead, when the emotions that have been threatening through exhaustion these past weeks to show themselves came overflowing. The tears, the heaving, the "why God, why me, why her!" came fast and hard along with these words...
Below this ground, six feet away,
there is a white box, now her tomb.
Below this ground, she surrounded lays,
with love letters & charms & toys.
Below this ground, atop her head,
the hat Nana Nina made with the green pom.
Below this ground, she is swaddled tight,
by a checkered blanket & christening gown.
Below this ground, her right hand is at her mouth,
the way she held it to bring comfort in life.
Below this ground, she lies so near,
and yet too far from her mother's touch.
Below this ground, you'll find her there,
beneath the dark, the dirt, the rock.
Below this ground, a life unlived,
my only child Peyton,
my heart.
~Kristin Binder


When will this get easier?
The grief feels different than it did last week, last month, six months ago. Different, but not easier. Like a virus adapting to its host, the loss has changed shape to retain its hold over me, one which can be maintained through the exhaustion. Where its symptoms had been incessant tears and shaking, it now comes in waves of fear, fatigue, numb. In the darkest days after Peyton died, I wondered about the day my eyes would stop flowing, wondered through the stinging and burning how many tears could be left before I ran dry. When I imagined the end of tears I didn't imagine it like this, stuck in a place where the rawness of that emotion, the deep connectedness to how I was feeling, would be replaced with an internal pain unable to be set free. I understood tears, felt the relief that came with each drop down my cheek, the emptying of some of the weight of this rolling off my chin. Now the tears come less frequently and I find myself in fits of panic, anger, exhaustion, numb, the overflow quelled and kept below a boil like water for chocolate. I feel so much below the surface, a constant reminder of all that is wrong, but lack the energy to set that pain free. The weight of this grief is like a poison to my system, it slows my movements, dulls my mind, makes even the most simple of tasks exhausting. I think I hate the numb the most.
I woke up this morning fixated on time. How much time seperates us now from Peyton, how much longer I will be so broken. The months have melted together, seemingly all one long reoccuring day, and I can't believe that nine months have passed since I held her dying in my arms, since that last struggled breath. In nine months last year I made her, brought her into this world, became a mother. Now nine more months have passed and I have accomplished nothing. This morning the response of numb and exhaustion came when I thought of her stone. As her parents, we want desperately to get this important memorial just right, to choose the perfect picture of our child to be engraved where she rests. When we first started this process in the beginning of spring, we were told it would take eight weeks to complete once they received our picture and wording. Each attempt at finding the right picture had knocked the wind out of us with the cruel re-realization of what this task is, and how much it hurts us to complete. Months have passed, many discussions on the subject of her picture have taken place, and we are no closer. It seems an impossible task, picking the right image, the one that will represent Peyton. Not Peyton swollen with chemo, not Peyton bruised from Leukemia, not Peyton fighting the infection that took her life... just my sweet little Peyton. I have scanned through the hundreds of shots of her, each bringing that swell of emotion to just below the surface, my mind screaming to let it out, my body unwilling. I hate the numb.