Thursday, April 19, 2012

A word

Some of you may wonder if this blog is still active.

Well, it is - at least in the sense that I think about it on an almost daily basis. But you're right, of course. Not much writing going on.
I sometimes wonder if this is it - Am I done writing? Or is it just too painful right now, and will there come a day where I can just pick up the pen or hit the keyboard again, without the fear that everything will end up wet?
I don't know.

Right now, I can't face my feelings, black on white. It hurts enough as it is; no point in spelling it out - literally. I don't believe in the therapeutic value of writing the same things over and over again: I can't accept the way things happened, I can't find peace, the missing only gets bigger, the harshness of death is undescribable.
And that's it - that's my daily struggle - sometimes ending in tears, sometimes not, but always leaving me exhausted.
With one strong ray of light giving some sense to it all, one reason why I have to go on: the little man.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


When you lose a parent, you lose so much more than only your mom or dad.
You lose the feeling of being a daughter or a son, you lose family traditions that have always been around, you lose a piece of yourself. You lose your life as it has always been - but will never be anymore in the future.

In a few weeks, it will be 4 months that my mother has passed away.
I've noticed that people forget really quickly. Once the funeral is over, the condolences and the messages of sympathy stop. Your best friends who have known you for the better part of your life, will continue to think of you. But only the people who have experienced the same loss, who really know what it's like - they continue to be there for you. They tell you the words you need to hear. They are not surprised when you cry, or when you're having a really bad day - with no apparent reason.
It's not because I smile that I don't feel any pain. The pain is always there - always.

Yes, it's almost 4 months. But I miss her more than ever.
I miss her warmth, her smile, her voice,...and above all the wonderful grandmother she would have been.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Let's skip it

I look at my calendar, and it approaches rapidly. December.
Or what used to be my favourite month of the year.

- Sinterklaas, still celebrated in our family, even if I stopped believing in the holy man long time ago. Mom baked gingerbread every year, I received little chocolate figurines.
- Our wedding anniversary - last year, my parents surprised us with a breakfast basket that morning.
- The Christmas market in Leuven. My mom and I made a tradition out of it. We went every year, ate oysters and drank champagne first, followed by pancakes and hot cider.
- My birthday. She made my favourite cake year after year. Last year, she brought it to Brussels through a snow storm. Almost none of my guests turned up, and I had to throw most of it away.
- Christmas, spent every single year together with my parents on holiday in a chalet in the Ardens.
- New Year, or lunch at my parents', and exchanging all the gifts under the Christmas tree.

I want to run away from it all. Of all the memories it will bring, of all the "missing" I will feel.
No, December will not be pretty.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


An email: "beautiful pictures darling. Didn't know you took one of me as well. Kisses, mom"
A text message : "Big hug, and welcome to the little man from grandma & grandpa".
A card : "dear children, happy 2011. May all your wishes come true".
A picture she took of me, the last one, with my big belly.

Everywhere I find little pieces of my mom. Just like the bread crumbs Hansje & Grietje left behind to find the way back home in the Grimm's fairy tale. I open my closet, and I see all the clothes we bought together. I go to the supermarket with my dad, and the self scanner greets my mom.
She's everywhere - and at the same time, she's so far away...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Does it make any sense to give flowers if the person for whom they're for, cannot receive them?
I don't know.
It's the first of november, meaning that the cemeteries in Belgium are abundant with flowers. And I don't know what to do. Yes, I want to give flowers to my mom. But I want her smile when she gets them. I want her to take them in her hands, unwrap them, and put them in a vase. And I want to hear her say "oh, how beautiful" and "you shouldn't have done that". Now all that is left, are silent pictures.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How was it 35 years ago?

Victor is lying beside me, in his “doomoo”, babbling away – apparently he’s exceptionally talkative for such a young baby. And I realize that with each new thing he does, I’ll have the same thought “if only my mom could see / hear this”. Yesterday, we were at a birthday party of another baby who turned one. The whole time I had to hold back the tears, because the only thing I could think was “my mom will never be at one of V’s birthday parties”.

The other day I was at P’s mom , and the subject was “babies’ sleeping positions”. Some 30 years ago, all babies slept on their bellies. Now, the “policy” is to put them on their back. I was asked how I slept as a baby, and there you go. I have no one to ask – and I don’t know. How often did I wake up as a baby? I don’t know. Was I easy, difficult? I don’t know. My dad belongs to a generation where fathers never changed one single nappy, so he’s not a great source of information. I have my “baby book”, so at least I know when I had my first tooth – but I’ll never know how many sleepless nights for my mom that took.
P's mom is now of course talking non-stop about how P was as a baby, and showing all his baby pictures, comparing him with V. And I miss the other side - in what ways is V resembling me, when I was a baby? I'd like to know...

I know my mom didn’t breastfeed – simply because it was the Seventies, and almost no one did. But I also remember her saying she didn’t have enough milk. And voilĂ , here I am – in the same situation. So if only I could share all this with her.

The first week that I wasn’t together with my baby, the stress, the emotional shock, the fatigue…it all contributed to “failing boobs” from my side. From V’s side : we tried night after night, together with a nurse from neo-natal to learn him the trick – and the little man tried and tried. But his “sucking powers” were never really what they should be, and he got so tired from trying, that after a few minutes he always fell asleep. So feeding became synonym to waking V up every minute, and trying every single trick in the book to keep him awake.

We tried for almost 6 weeks : I breastfed, I gave bottle supplements after each feeding, and I used the breastpump several times a day (to stimulate, to produce more milk, to have more breastmilk for V). If there’s one image I didn’t have of motherhood, than it was me – sitting at this machine for several hours a day, a sucking cap on each breast squeezing every single drop of milk out of my boobs – and feeling like an utter failure if I didn’t get the required ml. of milk out. Almost every single minute of my day was spent on “feeding” – and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I talked to the pediatrician – who wondered why I'd kept this crazy routine going for so long already.

I felt a huge relief when we found a compromise : breastfeed in the morning, give a bottle the rest of the day. So starting last Tuesday, that’s what we did. Next day, V had some skin rash. Two days later, the skin rash became worse. Three days later, V started to refuse his bottles. On Friday morning, the skin rash was so severe, that I completely panicked. One phone call to the pediatrician, and apparently V’s allergic to the formula milk I’m giving him. So there goes the rest and peace we’d found in our “compromise”. Add guilty feelings too. And add more fatigue, as V now first refuses to drink, but is then hungry every two hours – day and night. P working late more than one evening this week, and coming home after the whole evening routine is over, and V and I are already in bed, was also not helping.

So, to summarize :

- every day, I miss my mother more and more.
- I feel like a failure because the feeding is not working.
- I feel guilty for making V sick (and one more day to go, we only know tomorrow what new milk to give him).

- I’m more tired than ever because I try to breastfeed him again throughout the day and night, asking my body more energy that it simply doesn’t have.
- I almost didn’t sleep (feeding every two hours, not being able to fall asleep again, trying to console little V who has painful cramps because of the damn formula milk, crying for my mom, waking up screaming from a nightmare I had in the one hour I did sleep).
- The physical damages are not gone – somehow I have to squeeze in about 4 doctor’s appointments per week.

And here comes the icing on the cake (if you’re still reading, that is, and are not completely fed up with me complaining by now) : P is going to be abroad for work the next few days.

So, feeling like a failure once again, because I don’t see myself staying all alone for four days & nights with a tiny baby who refuses to eat, I’m going to stay with P’s mom. Bottles, breastpump, diapers, baby bath, buggy, etc, etc,…are all moving from one place to the other as of tomorrow.

to be continued…

Friday, September 30, 2011


I miss my mom so much, now that I'm home alone with Victor.
Just because I now fully realize what an enormous support she would have been, if she'd still been here. Someone I could share all my health problems with, someone who could give me tons of advise, who would be happy to babysit if I have yet another doctor's visit, who would help me out with all the rest of the household chores. And who would have loved to do all that. And now, I cannot even call her.

P's mom is helping, she really is. In lots of ways. For which I'm very thankful.But there's just no such thing as your own mother. I mean : who else can I call when I'm in tears, just because I'm having a bad day, and I haven't slept more than an average of three-four hours the last month and a half? There was just one person who would always pick up the phone (never an answering machine), who would always listen, and always say the right things to comfort me: right, mom.

I've been trying to be so strong the past 4 weeks. And I have been. I can count the times that I really cried on one hand, and even then I fought back the tears, or had to "get a grip" to take care of Victor and carry on. Today, I just feel I'm losing the battle a bit. One wrong word and I feel guttered. A wrong look and I start to cry.

God, I miss her. There are just no words to describe the feeling. It physically hurts. Heartache, in every sense of the word.
One of my mom's best friends gave me a hug at the end of the funeral, and told me, very kindly and honestly "You know the worst is still to come, don't you?". He was so right. The longer she's away, the more I miss her.
What will I do in a couple of months, when it's my birthday, Christmas, etc? When traditions that I've known since I was born (like spending Christmas with my parents in the Ardens) will stop altogether? When I will not even hear her voice on the morning of my birthday?

If only I could just cry my eyes out for a couple of days, and sleep for a couple of nights to recover from the exhaustion that intense emotions inevitably bring with them.
Someone told me this morning : "other women do the same thing, and are able to do all that" (so in other words : why can't you? What's wrong with you that you don't seem to manage?).
Maybe I have a little bit more on my plate than "other women". That's just the facts, not self pity.
If I'm weak now, than that's only because I've tried to be strong for so long.

I miss her - but saying or writing it a thousand times still won't bring her back.