Last week when I was in St.Louis, my mentor Pam took me to this place called “Black Madonna Shrine”. It was a sacred place to honor all mothers. We walked around a bit and found a place to perform a little ceremony for Miroku (you can read more about Miroku here). Pam blessed Miroku’s picture – she took it in her palms and said that he will never be forgotten, but at the same time, we are letting him go. I placed the picture on a stone surface behind this statue called “life memorial” and put some leaves to cover it.
Today I received a package containing a beautiful silver pendant. On one side it has tiny hands and feet prints, and on the back, it said “Miroku 12/07/2009”. It took me a few seconds to remember who sent this gift, but then I came back to me; this company Juilian & Co, based in Coronado, CA has this service for those who had lost their babies, and I vaguely remembered filling out the form which was in a folder I received at the hospital on the day he died.
It is truly a special gift. I was also happy that looking at those tiny hands & feet and his name on the back did not make me feel sad. It was a celebration of life and a beautiful reminder that he was there. As I write this, I hear my husband’s and our two sons’ voices in the other room, happily singing ABCs. I tell myself, I am blessed, and I can feel that even more deeply now because of Miroku. He will be with us always and in all ways.
I recently watched the movie “My Sister’s Keeper”. It is based on a novel with the same title, however the movie differs from the novel slightly. It is about a girl, Anna, whose DNA was genetically designed so she could be a perfect donor to her older sister, Kate, who has leukemia. In the movie, Anna, age 11, decides to sue her parents seeking to win control of her own body on the grounds of medical emancipation as she no longer wanted to give her body parts to help her sister due to the potential impact it would have for her own life. Despite this serious theme, I found the movie enjoyable and somewhat uplifting. It was also thought provoking; would parents really go as far as having another, genetically designed baby so they’d have a perfect donor to their dying child? Where is the line between wanting to do everything within their power to help, and going too far? Continue reading
We all have experienced events in our lives which have affected us profoundly. When we talk about those events, we often use this phrase ”It totally changed my life”. Events such as living abroad, going to Zimbabwe to work on an HIV/AIDS project, the experience of giving birth to babies, attending a self-development courses….all of which are my own life changing events. Life changing events are not always pleasant – I am certain that some people would say that losing a family member or a close friend affected them significantly. I know many people who have said that the 9/11 event changed their lives. For me personally, losing Miroku would qualify as one of such events. The other day, I came across a phrase; One of the simplest forms of prayer is to say “Life is a gift from God”. When I saw it, I thought, “yeah, don’t I know it” with a mixture of gratitude and sadness. A part of me is very happy that I do (know that statement to be true), but a part of me feels that I wish I would not be aware of that so keenly. Continue reading
As many of you know by now, I grew up in Japan. Here in the U.S., the New Year holiday is relatively quiet in comparison to the Xmas holiday. Where I come from, in contrast, the New Year holiday is a great deal, even bigger than Xmas. The first few days of January are called “O-sho-gatsu” and it is a time for the entire family to get together and eat well, kids receive “O-toshi-dama”(money in a small envelop) from family and relatives, people visit temples and shrines, and watch special new year sporting events such as a famous long-relay marathon takes place between Tokyo and Hakone on January 2nd and 3rd. Most businesses are closed at least for 3 days, if not longer. It is also a time to ponder upon the upcoming year, where people wish all the best and good luck to each other and to themselves. Even though I appreciate the weather here in San Diego, I always miss Japan very much at this time of the year. This year, my mother is visiting from Japan and she cooked all the great food I would have had in Japan, and while it is not exactly the same, I still enjoyed the first day of the year 2010. We spent the morning at the Balboa park, visiting science museum and did a mini-train ride with the kids, followed by a picnic lunch. After coming home, I worked out at a 24 hour fitness club which I had not been to since I became pregnant last October. I know, it’s such a cliché to want to start anew in terms of doing exercise and I was afraid that it might be very crowded, but the gym was almost completely empty and I was pleasantly surprised. Continue reading
It was raining really hard and even stormy on Monday this week, highly unusual for San Diego. I canceled my RCB course as I was feeling some pain in my abdomen. Being 16 weeks pregnant, I felt that I needed to take it easy. I lied down in bed and waited for my doctor’s office to open at 9:10. But before that time came, my water broke and I went into a premature labor. My husband and I rushed to the Sharp Mary Birch hospital where we had delivered our two previous children over the past few years. Long story short, our baby was born at 10:31. It was a boy. His heart was no longer beating. According to the doctor who took care of me, it was a miscarriage because it was before 20 weeks – but to me, whatever the correct medical term might be, what happened was that we had our baby boy and he passed away.
As I wrote in my previous post, I had experienced a miscarriage before I had my first child. Ever since that experience, I was very private about my pregnancy – I waited as long as I could to start telling people each time I got pregnant. I’d tell people only I was into 5th months when my regular clothes no longer fit. So this time, only a few people knew that I was pregnant with our 3rd baby. I just had my OB check on Thursday last week, everything was going well, and I was finally into my 5th months, so I was going to tell people at work this week – then Monday came, and this happened. I had to tell them that I “was” pregnant, but I lost our baby, and that I needed a few days off from work. I stayed at the hospital on Monday night as I had to go through a D&C operation. I returned home on Tuesday. I went to work on Wednesday and Friday briefly to take care of some things, but other than that, I stayed home mostly, trying to recover physically and going through the grieving process. Today I had a meeting at the school where I work that I could not reschedule, so I went in for a few hours. Most people did not even know that I was pregnant, much less about what happened, and I could have just let it be. If I had kept quiet and carried normal conversations with people during the few hours I was there, they would not have known anything at all. But I felt this strange desire to start telling people. As painful and sad it is to think or talk about this experience and our dead baby, if I don’t talk about him, nobody would know about him. I wanted people and the world to know that our baby boy existed even for a short period of time. So I decided to write about him.
We named him Miroku. After he came out, I had to go to the operation room to have the D&C procedure performed, and while I was gone, my husband told Miroku some bedtime stories and about his two brothers. After I came back, I held him for a very long time. His eyes were shut and we never heard him cry, but we have this memory of him, with his tiny arms wrapped around himself. He was wrapped by a blue baby blanket and had a tiny yellow hat on. We finally said good-bye to Miroku later that evening.
We called my mentor Susie Walton while this was happening – I wanted to talk to her, as I knew she could help us get through this experience. She later called back and left a message on my cell phone. She said that Miroku came to us, so he could experience our love. Obviously, I would have liked it if he had stayed with us longer. If I had known that our time was so limited, would I still have wanted him to come to us? I also reached out to my other mentor Pamela Dunn after I came home on Tuesday. We talked on Wednesday, and she helped me work through some of the regrets I had about what happened. She suggested this beautiful “what if”. What if Miroku’s soul needed to be healed by love, before he had to move onto other place to do whatever he needed to do? He chose us to be his parents and stayed with us for 16 weeks. Now that his soul was healed by our love, he had to say good-bye. When I heard Pam say this, I felt something shift in my heart. Until that moment, I had been so focusing on things I wish I could have done better or differently before this whole thing happened. But if he came to us because he wanted to be loved so his soul could heal, I can say that we did the best we could – after he was born, he was never left alone in the room, he was held by either my husband or myself for the whole time – we told him about his brothers, how much we love him, and how much we’d have loved to take him home. We took some pictures, and I video taped my husband talking to our children while holding Miroku, so that they could someday learn about their younger brother. I hope that Miroku’s soul was filled with love by the time we had to say good bye.
There is no point or conclusion to this post as it’s a grieving process that I am going through – I am trying to take one day at a time. I’ve been crying my eyes out every day and I don’t think it will stop anytime soon. My role model Chris Guillebeau whom I had a pleasure to meet back in September has a favorite quote that he posts occasionally, and I dug through his tweets to find it. I think this somehow fits into this situation so I’ll end this post with that quote;
“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” -Dr Seuss