Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!
Sometime last spring or summer - it's all a blur to me now - I reluctantly went to a three-day "women's healing infant loss retreat," which I had seen advertised in the flimsy newsletter for the Puget Sound Parent Support group. Here's why I was reluctant:
1) I wasn't sure if I was eligible, if stillbirth would be considered "infant loss." Lord knows I didn't want to try to sneak in there without really qualifying. That would be just bad form.
2) Even if I DID qualify, I wasn't sure if I even wanted to go. I'm really not a "healing retreat" kind of person. I didn't know these women - the organizers, the other participants - or what the whole thing would entail. The advertisement was suspiciously under-detailed. No itinerary, no price, no location, nothing. It wasn't affiliated with any particular organization or anything - just these two random women who were organizing it. Would it be a bunch of pow-wows and yoga sessions and bible-thumping? Would everyone get stoned and watch the sun set and talk about deep things? What if these women were all a bunch of annoying losers? Just because you've lost a baby, doesn't mean you're automatically a cool person (contrary to popular belief). I know that sounds really snobby and horrible, but imagine being stuck in close quarters for three solid days with the wrong people. I was apprehensive.
3) Even if it DID turn out not to be some kind of freaky cult-ish thing, I was pretty sure I was over the whole stillbirth thing. It had been, like, six or eight months since the Ultimate Shitty Event. I was SO done talking about it.
4) When I e-mailed the organizer to get more deets, she told me the price - somewhere in the $300 to $600 range, and just about wet myself. I'm sorry, did you just day - gulp - what you just said? For two nights? Now, granted, the thing was going to be held at this fancy-shmancy resort and spa up on Hood Canal - which, for those of you who aren't from Washington State - is really more like a huge, lake-width river that snakes along with the jagged Olympic Mountains in the background. Not some murky, nasty, sewage-smelling typical canal like the ones in Uzbekistan. And of course, it included all of your food and everything. But still - couldn't they just as well have done it at the Motel 6? Seriously, I would have been fine doing that and subsisting on dried fruit and potato chips from Trader Joe's for the weekend.
ANYWAY, in the end - after C and D, the organizers, convinced me I was a "perfect fit" and K told me "YES, do it!," I did it. I won't bore you with all the details of that weekend, but suffice it to say, it was - and I am not kidding here - one of the best things I've ever done for myself. I wasn't as "over it" as I'd thought, and couldn't believe how much I bawled and yammered about it. The group was small - only about seven of us. We did lots of sitting around, sharing our stories, eating and talking more, crying, commiserating, going through boxes of Kleenex like it was nobody's business. I felt, for the first time ever, like I had found "my tribe." Oprah Winfrey would have loved it, and most of our husbands would have hated it.
Oh, and the resort was pretty damn nice too, although I did get irritated when they had baskets of tempting snacks in the rooms - peanutbutter cups, Pringles, chocolate truffles - with signs listing the ridiculous prices of these things if you so much as MOVED one from its original position in the basket. Gawd, why do the most expensive places nickle-and-dime the shit out of you? I mean, come on. You're already charging up the wah-hoo. For god's sake, at least give me some free Andes mints on my pillow or something. Even Motel 6 gives out free coffee in the morning.
But that's beside the point.
When I got home, K said, "So, what did you guys do for three straight days?"
Me: "Talk about stuff."
K: "Mmmm. Glad I stayed home. Do you know if we have a wrench anywhere? Oh, and what are we doing for dinner tonight?"
Men. Gotta love 'em.
I'm still in touch with these gals, for the most part. Once in a while when I need to vent, I'll pick up the phone and call one of them to discuss. At one point a month ago, they were all knocked up again (the organizer herself was pregnant DURING the retreat, it turned out, but kept mum about it), which made me get that "I've got a lot of catching up to do" feeling (which I despise).
Then just a few days ago, I found out that V - one of my retreat buddies and just about the sweetest person you'll ever meet (her daughter P was stillborn), just miscarried at nearly 14 weeks. This news made my stomach drop about ten floors, perhaps because when you bond with women who have undergone horrible circumstances, you just want the best for them no matter what. What's particularly sad and scary is the notion that a person can actually be KuKd X two, or even three or more. What is UP with those odds! That's one of my worst fears - that I could get knocked down again (Actually, truth be told, I have worse fears than that. For example, I worry that K might suddenly disappear, that I might suddenly become allergic to milk or wheat, that my fly might be unzipped while I'm teaching a writing lesson at the college, etc.)
"I guess I'm a card-carrying member of the KuKdX2 tribe," V told me on the phone. Not exactly a tribe that anyone wants to be a part of. You kind of get thrown into it unwillingly. I'm considering making her a laminated membership card, but I'm not sure if she'll want one.