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What a beautiful post, Tertia.

Hopefully it will be easier to go think about your bad birth experience and all that trauma in Ben's short life once you've safely passed that same period in Kate and Adam's lives.

Tertia, your ability to articulate your feelings staggers me. You're amazing. HBIJ... almost there!

What astounding strength and perserverence you have. Makes me love you just that much more!

I hope those little ones someday realize what an amazing Mom they have...

What an amazing post.

Is there really such a thing as a 'good' birth experience? I'd like to know.

Awesome post -- incredibly articulate; totally understandable!

Tertia, I can understand. Well sort of. I am still, 2 years after the successful birth of twins (not exactly a great pregnancy) and 4 years after the stillbirth of my daughter, working through and really beginning to come out the other side of my traumas.

Ironically, my delivery with my stillborn daughter was the most beautiful experience of my life. It was the ideal birth experience. Yes, I had to deal with her death and recover from being so sick myself. The delivery was awesome. No pain, natural, easy.

My twins were high tech, very invasive, and scary as hell. It started with a threatened abortion and went on from there. I couldn't even seem to heel from the section well. My birth plan was one definate concept with a couple of wishes tacked on. The main idea....2 live babies. The next in importance to me was to be awake for delivery.

I thank god for Bella's delivery. It helps to reasure me that my body can do something right. I needed to know that the trauma of the twin pregnancy and delivery wasn't my only experience at childbirth.

My mother tells me she still remembers the date her twins died. I try to trust that what she says is true. You are very smart to realize it is ok to be sad. I didn't learn that for a long time. I can't wait to read the article you are working on.

Stacey, yes there is a good birth experience. I'm one of the lucky ones who had one.

Tertia, I hope Kate and Adam's birth is joyful that it helps heal you from Ben's birth. I'm so sorry about your loss of Ben.

Indeed on joy/sorrow simultaneoulsy. Felt it today albeit different circumstances. Again, God bless, Ben. God bless, Tertia. You truly are an inspiration and your honesty, at a lot of cost, is divine intervention -- at least for me.

"Love is not finite"

So true Tertia.

"Joy and sorrow can exist side by side."

Isn't it amazing how that works?

You have put it all so well here. Your honesty is astounding.

You are truly beautiful.


I am in awe of you. You are so damn articulate and convey your thoughts in a way that let's us experience the feelings that you have had along with you. I can see the nuances to your mixed emotions, and admire your honesty. Thank you.

I cried for hours on my son's first birthday. Despite the fact that he is whole and alive and beautiful, I mourned deeply on the anniversary of his traumatic birth. That was the day when he was taken from me, hooked up to machines and deemed "unlikely to thrive." I NEVER expected to feel such pain on the anniversary of his birth. I expected to feel joy that he was with me, whole and healthy.

I have not read the article that you mentioned Tertia, but I would like to. There were few in my life who understood my pain on Nathan's first birthday. In fact, I hid it from most people. I have a burning desire to have another baby because I do desperately want to cancel out that negative experience. It is a want that I fight every day. It is unlikely that I would have the risk free, natural pregnancy and delivery that I so desperately want. But I do not seem to be able to let go.

I am glad that you can allow yourself to experience any and all of the emotions that come with the many experiences that you have been through. I know that you are strong and unlikely to be affected by opinions of others, but I just need to say not to ever let anyone try to talk you out of the way that you are feeling about these things. You can and should allow yourself to experience each and every emotion without guilt or self judgement. I do not think that it is wrong that you have not dealt with emotions surrounding the birth and loss of Ben. In fact, I do not even agree with that statement. I think that you ARE dealing with it. Slowly and in perfect time, your mind is bringing thoughts and emotions to the surface and allowing you to deal with them as needed. The human mind is an amazing machine in that sense. It knows exactly how much we can handle.

No one, nothing can ever replace your darling Ben. He is and always will be your beautiful first born child.

tertia, this makes perfect sense and was very well-put. hopefully your upcoming birth experience will ease some of the pain of ben's birth.

my experience with doctors and advanced medicine came (ages 10-23) from dealing with my mother's ill health and eventual death. i was extremely leery of hospitals, doctors, and anesthesia. fortunately, i had a wonderful OB who helped me overcome my fears, and who, when there was no choice for me but to have a c-section, was very supportive and acknowledged my fears and their roots.

because of my positive experience with her and my other doctors, i came away with a better view of the 'medical machine'. it doesn't erase the bad times i spent walking the floors of ICU waiting rooms and chasing down oncologists in my youth, but it did show me that not every trip to the hospital will end in tears and frustration and grief.

Tertia - you're an amazing person. Not very many people are capable of putting such mixed emotions so succinctly, and of being in touch with their own feelings enough to sort them out. I've often balked at people who ask people to "cheer up", but never ask them to "sad down". The depth of our emotions is the the depth of our human experience, and to ignore, avoid, or deny them only muffles our ability to live.

sorrow is a reflection of the depth of the love.

sorrow reflects the depth of the love.

I lost a friend some years ago, and I have been in contact with his parents ever since. His mother once sent me a poem which she felt was appropriate, about a tree who'd lost its limb. The point being that while the tree can still flourish and grow and its branches can still reach up to the sunshine and feel the full benefit of that, that limb will never grow back, and it will always be a loss. Loss can coexist with great joy, I believe. The loss doesn't make that joy any less. But the two have to co-exist together, and that's just the way it is. Ben will always be a part of your life, and so will the loss of Ben.

Now, about a traumatic birth experience - when I was pg, a lot of people kept telling me to hire an independent midwife, together with my ob/gyn. This seemed like a pretty extreme approach to me - I kept saying, "I just need to give birth; I don't need an entourage." Nevertheless, so many women I respected who had more than one child kept saying how profoundly different it was to have a midwife with them at birth.

In the end, that was the way I went, and I was so glad I did. Here's why:
- I knew my husband would be a bit panicked during childbirth because of our struggle to get there and I knew I'd be worse. I wanted someone calm around me.
- I didn't want my husband to bear the full burden of keeping me sane.
- I liked the idea of continuous care during labour, which can be long. At the hospital, the regular nurses will come and go during shifts, and each have different ideas as to what you should be doing. My midwife and I worked out a birth plan and we stuck to it. (except that I had an emergency c-section; until then, I managed to do without serious painkillers which is what I wanted.)
- I don't know what it's like in Sth Africa, but here in Oz, the doctor only comes for the last 15 minutes of the birth or so! By contrast, my midwife came to my house during labour, checked if I was dilated, put a monitor onto the baby's heartbeats, etc.
- I wanted the birth experience to be a positive experience for everyone - including myself, my husband and baby. My midwife ensured that this would be so.
- She also proved to be a really good liaison between myself and hospital staff, and has been available as an incredible resource even now my son is 4 months old.

In short, I never looked back from this choice! I'm not saying that having someone like this could stop a traumatic birth experience, but I do believe that having her made things infinitely better, and would have no matter what the outcome.

When my friend Simone had a cardiac baby she eventually yelled at her family "it's ok that I'm not ok". She needed to be allowed to experience a whole gamut of emotions without guilt becuase her family didn't know how to treat her. We are raised with a very sick mr-fix-it obsession, I'm sorry that people are trying to cover you over with bandaids. x

Tertia - amazing posts both today and yesterday. You write so well I can feel the emotion coming from you. I am so sorry about Ben and very excited to read every day about Adam and Kate...

Thank you for posting these...

My cousin Krista had a horrendous birth experience with her first kid. She pushed for hours before the doctor finally decided on an emergency C-section, done under general anesthesia with her husband not allowed in the room. Her son suffered from a lack of oxygen, causing severe seizures, and he was close to death. He was taken to a hospital a couple hours away from her. Her C-section incision opened up, and she also ended up needing gallbladder surgery while coping with a sick newborn. Her son is now a healthy 9-year-old struggling with cerebral palsy.

It took Krista years before she wasn't too afraid to get pregnant again. She feared that her doctor would want her to try a vaginal delivery again, and was very relieved to be able to schedule a planned C-section. Her daughter is 2 1/2 now.

After my son's birth (high-risk pregnancy followed by emergency C-section--at least I wasn't expecting to have a full-term, normal delivery), I wasn't well enough to be released from the hospital for 6 days. There were so many difficulties with lactation and feeding, and I was dealing with a new health concern. I cried pretty often for the first few months. I asked my doctor, "Is this postpartum depression requiring medication, or am I just sad for a number of very good reasons?" I suspect it was just a normal reaction to difficult circumstances.

Now that my Ben is almost 5, I no longer feel acutely that I was ripped off. For me, it probably took about 3 years to stop feeling bad and start accepting the situation. (Dealing with my son's speech delay helped keep me focused on the unfairness of our experience.) My kidney disease means that a second pregnancy would (A) probably result in an even earlier preemie and (B) speed the failure of my kidneys. So I've also had to accept that there can be no second chance at a "normal" pregnancy and birth for me. I'm a tad jealous that my cousin was able to take that second chance, but mostly I feel fine about things the way they are.

By the way, my beloved grandmother died last January 4th, the day your Ben was born. Did he perhaps have the soul of a kind and nurturing librarian?


Thank you for expressing that so beautifully. It is so difficult to explain to people who've never been there that children aren't interchangeable. And joy and grief can most definitely coexist. And that sorrow isn't something to be scared of.

As my therapist put it, grief isn't something to be feared, it's just another way of expressing love.

You are an amazing person. Negative birth experiences never completely leave you. How they affect you changes (I no longer cry about the horrid birth experience that caused me to miss my youngest's first cry and first day of life) but they are with you forever. I hope you have a wonderful experience birthing Kate and Adam and it helps heal some of the remaining hurts.


First off, my heart goes out to you as you remember beautiful Ben. I cry for him and for you & Marko every time I read his story.

I really admire how you wrote about the complexity of emotion here; it's something not often addressed, how we can feel both joy and searing loss and hope simultaneously. I think we get these ideas of how we're "supposed" to be feeling, pushing away the other stuff because it doesn't click with the rest. Reality is just plain messy and chaotic.

My FIL told me that often people would say, "but you still have two kids!" and that hurt him the most. He said the two he lost (in a house fire, on his only daughter's birthday) were unique and irreplacable. Then my MIL told me that, after years of people putting their feet in their mouths around her, the only thing she's found that's acceptable to say in such situations is, "I'm so sorry for your loss." Wise woman, that.

"Joy and sorrow can exist side by side" - it's a tough concept to wrap our brains around.

I used to feel guilty about it - feeling joy. I was almost 8 months pregnant w/my second child when my mom passed away, unexpectedly. She was my hero and best friend. I wound up delivering 12 days post due via emergency c-section. And so began my year of firsts - first Mother's Day w/o my mom, first Mother's Day as a mom of 2, first Thanksgiving, and Christmas w/o my mom, and my daughter's first Christmas. Watching my daughter's first smiles, first steps, first joys - and not being able to call my mom first to tell her about them.

It was such a struggle to be that happy and that sad all in the same breath - it wore me out. I never really had the time to grieve - I went from planning funerals and writing one hundred thank you notes and taking care of my 4 year old who was also grieving, to giving birth, and taking care of a newborn and a 4 year old, to going back to work and taking care of a whole extended family that needed healing.

The grief is still there, just under the surface - it doesn't go away, but it does get easier to deal with. I think the biggest wake-up call for me was when I realized I was in danger of missing out on some of the best moments of both of my children's lives because I was felt guilty about feeling happiness and joy again - as if I was betraying my mother's memory by being happy. I know, it sounds ridiculous, but that's how it feels sometimes. Of course, I also know my mother would be devastated to think that she had any negative impact on my - or especially my kids - lives, and so knowing she would be yelling at me about it also motivates me ... ;-)

I've learned that it's good to take your grief out and examine it from time to time - as long as you don't lose yourself in it. If you feel like you're drowning, just yell - lots of people will be more than happy to throw you a life line! Good luck w/your babies, and your journey!

Forgive me for quoting a book rather than sharing my own thoughts, but I often think of one of the Anne of Green Gables books when thinking about lost children and how subsequent ones are thought about. For those who don't know -- as the books go on, Anne's first baby is born and dies the same day. The author, I think, clearly writes from her own experience...

A year later, a second baby is born:

"The best dream of all has come true," said Anne, pale and rapturous. "Oh, Marilla, I hardly dare believe it, after that horrible day last summer. I have had a heartache ever since then--but it is gone now."

"This baby will take Joy's place," said Marilla.

"Oh, no, no, no, Marilla. He can't--nothing can ever do that. He has his own place, my dear, wee man-child. But little Joy has hers, and always will have it. If she had lived she would have been over a year old. She would have been toddling around on her tiny feet and lisping a few words. I can see her so plainly, Marilla. Oh, I know now that Captain Jim was right when he said God would manage better than that my baby would seem a stranger to me when I found her Beyond. I've learned that this past year. I've followed her development day by day and week by week--I always shall. I shall know just how she grows from year to year--and when I meet her again I'll know her--she won't be a stranger. Oh, Marilla, look at his dear, darling toes! Isn't it strange they should be so perfect?"

That was a beautifully written post. Even though I've never experienced anything even remotly as traumatic, I can fully understand the conflicting emotions part. Your ability to express those feelings is amazing. I hope getting it all out in writting will help you heal.

Oh, Tertia. You are so right.

I love you.

I wonder if this is the "tree" poem that someone mentioned earlier. This was left by a kind stranger (mother of a stillborn) in the guestbook of our webpage for our daughter (a twin who died of SIDS at 3 mos.)She wrote:

I just want to end this with a Swedish poem that I have tried to translate. I hope it will mean something to you.

The Tree

How silly it is to believe
that one can forget
and how silly it is to believe
that time will heal the wound.
The great sorrow
- it isn't a wound,
it is a seed
that is born in the chambers of a heart
and growing - growing
to become a tree as years have passed
a tree that will bring a bitter
blooming every spring.

(Written by Karl Asplund)

I wish I could take your pain away, but I know that is not possible.


As my mother once told me, "you love your children equally, but differently". The love you have for Ben does not negate the love you have for Adam and Kate.

The loss of a child is an unimaginable sorrow that never goes away. It may fade in time, but there will always be that twinge for what might have been. Telling Adam and Kate about thier big brother will keep his memory alive for you, and will help them grow to love him as well.

I hope your birth experience this time around is a postive one, and that it will help you in the emotional healing process. Ben was a precious child, your firstborn, and he will always be in a special place in your (and Marko's) heart and mind. No child will ever replace a another, and anyone who says or thinks otherwise is obviously suffering a severe case of foot-in-mouth syndrome.

Sending you positive vibes on the upcoming debut of the awesome twosome...


Tertia, you are a beatiful and wise woman.

Tertia...what an utterly eloquent post. As a longtime reader(usually too shy to post a lot, I'm sure I can speak for all of your readers when I say...Ben will never be forgotten by us. We will share your joy when Kate and Adam enter the world,but we will also always remember your beautiful boy Ben and mourn along with you.

Wonderful post Tertia.

I recently had a huge blowout with my mother because I was feeling very deeply that day the loss of Marrissa. She told me that I have other children I need to think of.

I lost it. That is one of the most horrid things anyone can say to a grieving parent. I know I have other kids, but their lives do not negate the loss of Marrissa. The hole left in my heart, in my soul, cannot be fixed by anything or anyone.

Adam and Kate are not replacements for Ben and Luke. They cannot be expected to heal your pain, to "fix" you. That's far to big a burden to place on tiny little beings, on anyone.

You don't get over the death of a child, you learn to live with the loss.

Your heart, once broken in a million pieces, mends, but is forever altered, forever scarred.

Grieving for Ben, for Luke, for the experiences in your life does not mean your love for Adam and Kate is less than it should be. Mourning your loss does not take away from others. It's a part of who you are, who you will always be.

Be gentle with yourself.

Much love! xoxo

I can totally relate to what you are saying!I have a strong feeling that once Kate and Adam are born, things will feel very different in terms of the "post-traumatic stress" from the whole experience of losing Luke and Ben (the magnitude of which I cannot even imagine). Not that it will totally go away, but that energy will be diverted; "sublimated" I guess is better word. Raising a baby (much less TWO babies) is scary and stressful in its own right, but there's such a sense of realness and rightness about it that it's much easier to deal with than horrible memories. I might be wrong, but I really believe that there's only so much space we have in our minds and bodies for fear/stress (and I stretch it to the max, believe me!), and taking care of those babies is going to take up a lot of it, but in a much more manageable way.

The feelings you express about the loss of Ben, and how that grief will never go away really resonate with me. I've never lost a child (which is the WORST loss possible), but have lost many other loved ones in my life, and what I've found is that you're right; the saddness never goes away. But it does become less raw and painful. Eventually, it comes to be something with which you peacefully co-exist, and even find strangely comforting.

I wish you much peace in the coming weeks, and am keeping you, Adam, Kate and Ben in my thoughts.

Of course you will feel sorrow for the loss of Ben. Just as you also feel joy because of Kate & Adam. Anyone who thinks you can just forget Ben is foolish. Kate & Adam do not replace Ben. You will always feel sorrow at his loss.

It may ease after a while, but it will never go away. I love the last stanza of this poem:


Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann'd:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.

Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

-- Christina Rosetti

I wish you peace, Tertia.

Very well said, Tertia.

Tertia, you always manage to bring tears to my eyes with you writings. I can't know all of what you must feel, but I appreciate the glimpse you give us.
I wanted to comment on the birth experience, and the trauma. As you know, I have 4 children.. My 3rd was enourmously traumatic for me, it caused permanent damage to my body and fear in my heart and mind. We had been undecided regarding a tubal ligation up til then because I did want more children, but that day pretty much sealed the deal!
When we finally got preg with Zach, it all rushed back to me and I spent my entire pregnancy in fear. Fear for the limitations of my own body, and fear for having to go through a womans most exposed moment (as I believe birth is) in horror.
But I wanted to tell you, that we had a understanding OB with Zach that listened and acknowledged my fears, and our birth this time went so smoothly, it was nearly perfect.
Nothing will ever erase the previous birth experience from my mind, but my experience with Zachariahs birth went a long way in healing it emotionally for me. Physically, I still require a hysterectomy and a pelvic rebuild, but I can deal with that. :)
You time to meet Adam and Kate is fast approaching..I pray, truly pray, that when that moment comes, it's a moment you'll always remember fondly, and without fear.
And to Ben..Watch over your bother and sister and lead them to happiness lil boy.

What you said hits home for me. After my daughter was born into a medical crisis, it was so hard to balance the happy emotions of celebrating her life and the pure sadness of her diagnosis. I learned, as you that the can and often do co-exsist.

I also learned that people just don't know what to say. But they try, and those words come from a loving place (most times) and I try to ignore the words that cut into my heart. Looks like you know how to do that too.

So, Happy Birthday to Adam & Kate's brother.

Thank you, yet again, Tertia, for explaining the aftermath of a lost child in a way that makes so much sense. A new child simply can not and will not ever replace the child that has been lost. It doesn't mean you aren't joyful about the impending birth of another child. I think sometimes that that aspect of pregnancy after loss is the part that is so difficult for family and friends to understand.

Blessings to you, Marko, Adam, and Kate ( and to the memory of Ben and Luke). I anxiously await news of the twins' birth.

Thank you, Tertia. In some way you've really helped me so much in understanding how a very close friend with some very similar circumstances feels. Through your post I realize that I may not always be as sensitive to her loss as I should be.
Good thoughts to you over the next few bittersweet weeks.

That was beautiful. You are an amazing woman. I’m so sorry you had to watch Ben slip away from this life where he never got a chance to run through the grass.
“There is no healing in suppressing the sorrow. And there can be no denying the joy.”
While your son was dying I was giving birth to mine. He will be a year old on the 14th of January. His brother was taken from me on 12/30/02. My little miracle will never cancel out the death of his brother, but he will and he does bring me joy. I used to wonder that I could be choking on my tears while smiling at my chubby baby and thinking of his brother. I would laugh and love and mourn and cry all at once. But I’m okay with that now. That is life. There will always be the chance for both pain and joy in this life. I find my life is richer because I was able to experience them both at the same time.

Amen, Sister.


Your positive experience that I know is coming will help you heal from the first birth trauma. You will always mourn for what you lost in Ben and the birth, but your heart does grow to accomodate all the new memories you are making.

T-minus 12 days. Is it too much to ask for cellphone postings during and immediately after the birth with pictures?

I too wish to thank you, Tertia. You have a knack for expressing the feelings that too many of us live with.

My son turns two next week. I delivered him 11 months after losing my first child (2nd trimester miscarriage). Like you, I rushed into another pregnancy so fast, I didn't have much time to process the grief. I don't think that much matters in the end, although I spent a lot more time crying than the average pregnant woman.

My son is a great joy to me, but as I watch him grow I grieve my lost child again and again. It was only after I had my son that I truly realized that we lost a person, a soul, a unique individual. That was when I stopped grieving for what I had lost, and started mourning what my child lost. What the world lost. But living in the valley of joy, the grief is now just a mountain in the distance, part of the landscape.

I wish Ben a happy birthday, and I eagerly await the happy birth-day of Kate and Adam.

Hi Tertia,

I just want to thank you for your beautiful website. I was scouring the net for something to help me with the immense sadness that has come over me lately. I have been trying to fall pregnant for 4 and a half years, and in the last couple of weeks have had the exciting news that my sister, my sister-in-law and one of my closest friends are all pregnant. Not to mention that my best friend gave birth yesterday to a beautiful baby girl.

Your story is so eloquently written, as are the comments of others posting on your site, that I feel I've finally found people who can understand.

I wish you all the luck in the world with your little angels, and although I can't fully comprehend what you must have gone through with little Ben, my heart goes out to you, and no life can replace another - he was his own person, and you should be given the space to mourn his loss.


Beautifully expressed.


Tertia, you're as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. I sit before you, chin in hands, waiting to hear the rest of your story.

Astonishing. You are.

The thing I'm most sad that Ben never had the chance to experience: getting to know you.

Coming from personal experience:

Time will never "heal" your wounds. What time will do, though, is make them easier to bear. Eventually, some day, your good memories of Ben & Luke will lessen the horror that surrounded their birth and death.

At least, that's what I hope for you.

Such a beautiful post. You are an amazing woman.

(BTW- nice choice for a girls name.) :)

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