Friday, May 30, 2008
Dont' know if you've seen this, but a friend of mine sent me the link. And seeing as this is my 99th post, I thought it would be nice to share something fun. Bound to entertain if you are a cat lover, an engineer, or an engineer lover -- or some combination thereof.
An Engineer's Guide to Cats
(I hope this works!)
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Sorry for spewing like that. It was a rough night and apparently I had a lot on my mind.
I'm still having trouble articulating what's in my head. Some of it is grief, some depression, some anxiety. Thinking about starting school again next week. I actually am a lot more functional (if domestically lazy) than I was, and I'm hoping that being at school and being focused will help alleviate some of my anxiety. Nothing like diving in to my field of study. I hope.
I'm a lot less weepy than I've been. I would think it's kind of like being numb, or maybe paralyzed. I'm not *as* weighed down with grief as I was, but I feel no motion. Little strength. Perhaps it's just getting back in the habit of life again.
Which leads to a whole other set of issues (Me/NotMe), integrating who I was with whom (?) I'm becoming. Figuring out how this part of my life fits into my future. What I care about, what I want. What I can handle. What I want to put up with. I still get that sort of... reflex, whenever I get involved in something. It's not that I feel guilty about being engaged in life, I don't think. It's more like, oh yeah, this is who I am, how does this fit? Or something. It's like I'm drawn to thinking about my boys, about the horrible experiences of the past six months, about my pregnancy. The big picture part of me says, though "who cares?" This is not important like that was. And yet, it is important. I am not my loss, not my dead sons, not my failed pregnancy. But who am I?
As many blogg.ers have said, I am aware that when I behave "normally," I wonder how I am perceived. I don't want people to think I'm "over"it. I want them to respect and acknowledge the magnitude and traumatic nature of our loss. That's why I was so pissy about that birth announcement on the office window. I guess it has to do with people forgetting them. My own issues are right there on top of it, because I have always feared being alone and forgotten (yes, I'm a middle child).
I got the name of some local therapists who may have some experience with trauma and/or traumatic loss, or who may be able to refer me to someone who is. Probably a good idea for me to go, as, even though I love my shrink, this feels very different from the stuff we've dealt with. I've made some progress with some of the physicality of the trauma, but I certainly still need help with this. And I was putting together records for (potential) consults, but that's come to a screeching halt, because just looking at the dates makes me kinda panicky. I have made no phone calls, no lists. Even doing research on ce.rclages and pp.rom makes me sweat.
I am beginning to think about the prospect of more children, another pregnancy, though I have this fantasy that it would happen accidentally. My tests all came back normal, though my FSH has jumped a bit. The nurse tells me this is normal for someone my age (at 35 it was 6, at 36 it was 6, at almost 38 it is 8.8). There are no indications of PCOS for the first time since I was 26, at least according to my Day 2 hormones 12 days ago. We have other issues, so the possibility of an oops is very small. And of course the fantasy leaves no room for the boatload of issues another pregnancy would stir up.
And finally, it seems, we do have some good news. C has handed in his dissertation and will defend it in a week, just a couple months shy of 5 years after we moved here. He's worked so hard. I'm so proud of him, I can't even articulate it. Especially considering everything that happened in the last year. Of course, though, I have known that he could do this since the first time he talked about it when we were first dating. And I have known that he *would* do it, and do it well since he started his program.
The icing on the cake? He has been offered and has accepted a visiting assistant professor position in his department for the next year. He will be part of the faculty, he'll teach several classes, do research. It's a real job. With benefits. Hallelujah. I am so proud of him.
And it's so odd to even have something good to talk about. Not just not bad news, but good news. We are always knocking on wood. Just like we did last fall. I guess I am on guard, still, but trusting, hoping, that it will work out.
Well, I go a few days without posting and look what happens. Loooooong, rambling, redundant posts. Thanks for reading this far, and thanks for coming back.
But I am sitting here, listening to C breathe and try to sleep, despite the TV and my light on and rustling around.
I've been feeling better lately, but not better. I don't know how to describe it, how to articulate this place of limbo or whatever it is.
My heart is full. When I write that, the pressure makes my eyes leak. So I guess it is not full of joy. Anticipation? Hope? No, that's not it. Fear? Maybe. Frustration? Likely.
This movie is about figuring out love and loss, I guess. that first flush of love, those unsure steps that could bring elation or humiliation. It's sweet. I'm waiting for it to fall into something cliche so I can snap it off and be annoyed with the pithy superficiality of movies, but it hasn't gotten there yet.
Me/NotMe. I am myself, beginning to heal, and yet not myself. Full of fear, afraid of hope, craving that rapture of simply enjoying a moment. And I fear that will never be again for me.
I was a child in my own head, my own world, until snapped into reality by bedtimes or homework or dead pets or 7th grade betrayals. I didn't need a prince charming anymore -- my prince met my needs, desires. He touched my heart.
I wonder how to go back to the girl who got distracted by the idea of pie for breakfast, or craved cold Chinese food for lunch. The one who would just get in the car and drive two hours to see a special place, of rolling hills and the echos of the BSO in the off season.
I'm too old. Too sad. I don't trust anyone.. I don't trust me to follow through to do what's right. I don't trust me to stick around when the going gets tough. And even though there are those who have kind, there are limits, to what you understand, what you can give me. And I don't trust that we can understand.
fucking life. fucking complicated. love. family. siblings, marriage. Children. Death. lost children. Lost hope.
Forever now? Forever? Now?
Who am I in this world. How can I find the notme that's close enough to the oldme that i can recognize her. That I can have faith in her.
But how do I get through the place where I am, so I can go to the place I used to be while incorporating the very new me who has survived all this shit;
*likely to come down in a moment of lucidity. Never fear. No permanent harm done. None we can tell yet.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I have been given the pink rose/kind blo.gger award by three wonderful blog.gers: Luna, Busted, and Ya Chun, but I can't even seem to compose a thank you. So, well, Thank You. Your kindness means more than you can know. I truly appreciate this.
These are three amazing women, who, despite their own struggles, have given me unwavering support in our little corner of the blogosphere.
I would like to pass on this rose to everyone struggling, everyone surviving, but I'll just pick a few:
I would also like to honor AMS at Our Own Creation. AMS suffered the loss of her boy/girl twins, Lennox and Zoe, due to extreme prematurity this past January. Her writing is very honest and she often writes what I feel. I don't comment enough on her blog, but I feel less alone reading her words.
How to pass it on:
1. On your blog, copy and paste the award, these rules, a link back to the person who selected you, and a link to this post: http://smartone.typepad.com/smartone/2008/05/pink-is-my-favo.html. You will find the story behind the Pink Rose Award and other graphics to choose from there.
2. Select as many award recipients as you would like, link to their blogs (if they have one), and explain why you have chosen them.
3. Let them know that you have selected them for an award by commenting on one of their posts.
4. If you are selected, pass it on by giving the Pink Rose Award to others.
5. If you find that someone you want to nominate has already been selected by someone else, you can still honor them by posting a comment on their award post stating your reasons for wishing to grant them the award. 6. You do not have to wait until someone nominates you to nominate someone else.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I had absolutely no idea what awaited me, out there in the "real world." I had no idea how things worked. No idea, really, how my life would evolve -- friends, relationships, romantic partners, parents, siblings, work, marriage, having children. In the end (meaning today, 17 years later), I did wind up with good friends (several of whom I met in college), a wonderful marriage, work I care about. But the path is one I never, ever, ever would have anticipated. Never.
Was I even capable of looking forward then? Could I ever realistically plan out my life? Can anyone? I remember exchanging greetings cards with JK, saying "42 days till the real world! No more homework! Free nights and weekend!" Who was that child?
If I could go back and talk to her, I don't even know what I would say. Maybe something to the effect of "you are stronger than you think you are. you are more capable than you think you are. go do something that scares you." But the thing is, I was doing things that scared me -- I was scared of everything. I don't know.
In high school and college, I never understood why graduation ceremonies were called Commencement. Didn't "to commence" mean "to begin"? This ceremony marked the end of something, didn't it? Over the years, I have come to understand how much that ceremony really did mark the beginning of the "real world" for me, the real world lived as a bird leaves the nest. I was still a child, both chronologically (not quite 21) and emotionally/psychologically.
But I went out into the world and I started to grow up. Again.
Right around the time I met C, I had just had a "growth spurt" of sorts, emotionally. I had begun to really find myself, writing, making friends, exploring the world. That summer, for my birthday, my brother gave me a collection of poetry by Charles Buk.owski. One of the first poems in the book struck me; I have a copy of it hanging in my cubicle (the one I never use) at school. I used to think of it when I was pregnant, the last few lines in particular would roll around in my head. Both for me, and for my sons.
The Laughing Heart
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
-- Charles Bukowski
I feel like I've had another commencement. A new life, developing a new me. Who am I now? Who will I become. What will this next part of my life look like. I just don't know yet.
What would you tell your 18 or 21 year old self, if you could go back to his or her "commencement"? Would you have listened?
I feel like I could make a list of things I want to talk about, and then check things off as I go. But I get anxious just thinking about making such a list. There are so many things I need to make lists for -- and lists used to be so comforting -- but I am paralyzed.
Perhaps it's all this unstructured time (next week I start making up school work) or all the anniversaries. Maybe I'm just getting to the point where I can even bring these ideas to the forefront of my mind. The lex.apro is working, I'm more functional in a practical sense, but I feel more sad. More anxious.
And I'm so tired of it. Tired of feeling this way, tired of talking about this, tired of writing about feeling this way. Even as I'm starting to feel new, but equally ugly, difficult things. And it seems I can't put any of this into words, at least not without typing, deleting and retyping 2 or 3 times.
It's not even spewing because it's so controlled, even though it's whiny as shit. I know I'm allowed to be whiny, I'm just fucking tired of hearing it. Even though I'm not ready to let go of any of it -- the whining, the feelings, the reasons for all of it.
Maybe it's just the process. Integration.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
I have a ton of posts in my head, and no words for them. I can write and write and write and say nothing. The title of this post isn't even original; it's from a Sara Bar.eilles song. Though these words have been running through my head this last week.
I am up. Then, suddenly, weeping.
I have been given the pink rose/kind blo.gger award by three wonderful blog.gers: Luna, Busted, and Ya Chun, but I can't even seem to compose a thank you. So, well, Thank You. Your kindness means more than you can know. I truly appreciate this. I'll put together a post soon, paying it forward, nominating other kind blo.ggers.
I appreciate all of you, those of you who are reading, commenting, sharing your own struggle. It does make me feel less alone.
I haven't been this tongue-tied since January or February. I hope to get this all out, try to share what I'm thinking. Unload, so I can move forward. Or at least release some of the weight from my mind, my heart.
My writing teacher used to say to write even if you have nothing to say: just write whatever is in your head. I'm going to try to do that.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
For the last 10 months I've been living my life in increments. Stims, then, the two week wait, 48 hours for the repeat beta, another week for ultrasounds, two weeks. A month between appointments, waiting for NT results, waiting for amnio results, how many weeks along. listening to heartbeats. listening to silence. how many contractions, how many pads, how many doses of pitocin, units of blood.
Then, how long has it been. How many days, weeks, months. How many weeks would I have been.
Now there is nothing. No counting. No measuring. Yes, I will still count how long it's been, probably. But the duration of pregnancy has ended. The boys are far enough away now, and were when they were delivered, that I don't feel compelled to say, "they would be X months old." Just that they are gone X months.
I was going to say that I am sort of numb, sort of floating aimlessly. I need to focus on school, at least for the next few months. I need to re-establish my contribution to my department, make myself worthy of investing in, improve my value. (Yes, theoretically, they all believe I have value, but even my Chair said "well, you're still a plus, even if you're not as big a plus as you used to be." Tactful? No. Honest? You bet.) I need to find a way to care about all that work I have to do. C says that I still care about it, he could tell by the way I talked about my students' work in my class, but I don't know if that's enough. I need to find a way forward.
I was going to say that I was numb, but I guess I'm not. I had on the La.w & Or.der: S.V.U where someone's very hugely pregnant wife is in a serious car accident. Her water breaks, contractions began. That's where I turned it off because of the panic rising in my chest.
I've been a little weepy. Sad. Both my sister and my dad called yesterday to check on me and I had nothing to say. Sad. Angry. Too afraid to be hopeful. I want to hope for something good, but it seems that only the bad news touches me. Pleasure at someone else's good news is fleeting. Reaction to not-bad-news is not much reaction at all. I got the results from my blood work, and mostly it's fine. Don't really know what to do with it. I'll probably write about that soon, too. The idea of trying to have living children, I mean.
The memorial service made me cry. It made me sad, made me realize, again, that my boys are gone. But it didn't really touch me. The level (and choice) of religiosity in it distracted me. But even the last bit, when they read the poem, where the group (not me) said "we will remember them" after every line. It made me cry. It made me feel worse. I told my dad I guessed that I was glad that I went, at least I wouldn't wonder. Maybe in time I will be able to appreciate the service, but right now I just don't know.
I guess this is grief. Mourning. Lack of affect? No, I have affect. Right now, it's mostly sad, though last week or the week before I could laugh. I guess this is reaction to time and place. To Monday, and hopes unfulfilled. I guess it will get better. I have to trust that, that it will get better. That I'll find a reason to hope. And that fear and sadness will not eclipse it.
Thank you, everyone who commented, who came and checked in with me and with C. It means a lot to know that there are people who care and who understand. It's amazing what comfort a few words can bring. Thank you.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Saturday, May 17, 2008
*First, today is CD2. As I previously discussed with my doctor, we decided to re-do all the fertility and pcos testing since it's been about 2 years and I'm inching towards 38 in a couple of months. Doctor waved to me as he went from one appointment to another. Nice nurse drew blood for FSH, E2, LH, TSH, Testo.sterone, DHEAS, Prola.ctin, Creati.nine.
At 8am today, the office was rocking. I've only seen the office that full a couple times in the (on and off) 2 years I've been going to this clinic. They usually schedule things far enough apart so you don't see many people. In the waiting room was a "husband/partner", and a family. Yes, a family: man, woman and child. Yes, a child in the waiting room of the fertility clinic. He was about 18 months old, maybe. Running around and squealing. He took his shoe off and giggled. Loudly. This morning was one of 2 or 3 times I've had to wait, but it was with the family. The child even walked up to me as I was studiously avoiding his gaze by reading on my b-berry.
Usually, I try to be sympathetic when people bring small children with them to the clinic. Maybe the babysitter canceled. Grandma was sick. But you know what? If you have to bring your child with you? Keep him in your lap. Bring a book so he can sit quietly. Take him outside to run around until you're called for your appointment. And for god's sake keep him away from the other infertiles. Keep. Him. Quiet.
Results will be back Tuesday, probably. This may give us an idea of how much time we have to play with (ha, play) and what if any additional challenges we may face.
*I decided to go to the service. I really didn't decide until this morning. Last night, C said he really didn't want to go. He had his own way, his own plan to memorialize the boys. And if there was threat of "god talk," he didn't want it.
It was good that he didn't go. There was plenty of god talk. Four or five readings. J, my grief counselor was there, handing out the programs and the readings. She's so good. She knew not to give me one. There was one verse about Nathan and seeing his dead son or something? I don't know, I just hear in my head "seeing his son dead," "seeing my dead son." Christ on a bike. Oh, and my favorite bit was "blessed are the mourners." Blessed? What?? How did I get so lucky to be blessed? The minister said he had a stillborn son. He talked about grieving his mother, a cousin who died when they were both eight. Blessed?
I really don't understand. I mean, I guess I understand, but I really don't appreciate it. Screw you. Bless this.
And I know C would have stalked off cursing. It just made me cry more. I got through the service, there were other parts that were okay. The reading of names (as requested by parents) was very sad. I didn't rsvp so they didn't read the boys' names. If they had, I would have just been a freaking, sobbing mess. J, who lost a little girl at 20 weeks almost 30 years ago, handed out white roses. People placed them on stones. She gave me two roses, one for each of my sons. I didn't place them. I didn't want to let go of them. One of the nurses sang, someone brought a therapy dog. It was nice to see people, but so sad, too. Someone said this was the biggest turnout they'd had in a long time. Some there were older sibs of a lost baby. There were probably 3 kids around 7 to 10 years old.
Because I was alone, J came and stood with me for parts of the service, put her arm around me and we both cried. Before and after the service, she (re)introduced me to the nurses who attended. A couple of them were familiar, a few weren't. She introduced me by saying my name, and that my due date is tomorrow (I actually had a few). It was weird. Several of the nurses came straight from their shift. There were no doctors there.
One of the nurses, Sara, greeted me with a genuine hug. She had taken care of me one of the days we had come back to the hospital, when I was afraid I was going into labor (I wasn't) and she spent a lot of time with us that day, just talking with us. When her shift ended that day, she said something very sweet about us being a wonderful couple, and that it was an honor for her to be with us during this time. When we had come back, thinking we were going to be able to induce here at our local hospital, Sara was on duty, and asked to be our nurse for the delivery. She was so so sweet. Today, when I told her about my sister, she closed her eyes and shook her head in disbelief. She remembered something my dad had talked about the day of the almost-induction almost 5 months ago. Very personal, very kind.
*Went to a chain jewelry store and found a garnet ring to memorialize the boys. It's a heart-shaped stone in a bezel with a teeny, teeny tiny chip of a diamond on either side. There were other fancier rings that I liked, too, but this was simple. And there was enough symbolism with the birthstone and the heart between two little gems. It's not something I would normally pick (no hearts!), but I think it's good, simple, appropriate. I'll try to take a picture and post it. Unfortunately, this ring was small enough (size 5.5!), that there was not really room for engraving on the inside. But the symbols are enough. I know what it means.
And so we got home around 5 or so. I'm exhausted.
On a Saturday, 36 weeks ago today, I had the IUI in which I conceived Jacob and Joshua. Technically, I'm at 40 weeks today -- or would be. Official due date on Monday. I don't know what I'll do for the day.
In the meantime, I left the roses outside, threaded through the handle of the railing on our stoop. No balloons proclaiming "It's a boy!" Just 2 white roses.
Blessed are the mourners.
**By the way, thank you for your responses to my questions. It did help me decide whether or not to go. While the religious aspect did not suit me, I think I'm glad I went. Even if it was draining. Don't know if I'd go again, but it gave me a lot to think about, at the very least.
Friday, May 16, 2008
If you did go, what was it like? What did they do? Were you glad you went? Did you wish you hadn't? Any advice if we do go? Other thoughts?
p.s. This will be a short outdoor service. About 20 minutes, they read names, hand out roses, there is music and a brief prayer of some sort. Someone brings a dog. It's held in the "Babyland" section of the local cemetery. Also, my official EDD is 2 days after this service.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Well, it was a lovely walk, down a hill, then along a creek and it would have been just perfect except that it had rained the day or so before and the path was muddy. I'm not steady on my feet anyway, especially downhill. Especially if it's muddy, and therefore kind of slippery. Especially if you haven't gotten any exercise of any substance since at least August because, well, you know why. Once we got down the hill, I was okay, if slow since I'm completely and utterly the most out of shape I have ever been. I realized the last time I went on this route with her was when S was trying to get pg, and was getting tested and coming back with mixed results. She is now growing child #2.
Despite some sore muscles, I made it through the walk, and back up the hill to the car. Out of breath and sore, but okay. Actually came out of it feeling good.
I was going to start this post with "I'm back here again, I'm sitting up in the middle of the night, listening to C breathe. I am unable to move, even to take something to help me sleep."
It's true. Since Sunday afternoon, I've tumbled back down the hill. Slid on the mud, on my ass. I think it started when my sister called, and I didn't answer. I feel so conflicted. And I need to let her come to me if she wants support. But was that what she was doing? And when I was needing it most, I didn't have to ask. She probably wouldn't accept it anyway.
And I miss my boys. I miss being pregnant with them (sickness and all). I've been without them almost as long now as I was with them. Maybe longer. This is not the way it's supposed to be. And I'm supposed to go on with my life. I'm so pissed that if I ever have children, they will have a mother who is sad. I had a sad mom, too, for different reasons. And I know I won't always be this sad, but it will not be as it should. (Yes, I know, it is rarely as it should be. You know what I mean.) There will always be someone missing.
The official due date is coming up next week. I can feel myself picking up speed as I careen down this hill. Out of control. Scared. I've come to realize that, had everything gone according to plan, I probably would have 2 living sons by now. My therapist has a theory about all the dates that I keep track of. I don't even recall what it was, something about holding on to moments. Perhaps that I don't necessarily need to let go of them, but carry them with me as I move forward. Try to live my life. Even if it does feel incomplete and shredded. Even if I don't really want to.
There's some witty or poetic way to end this post, this metaphor of the muddy hill, and I don't know what it is. I just fucking hate all of this.
Monday, May 12, 2008
We had this amazing Rabbi (Rabbi Marcia, as we called her) who was very liberal, very feminist, with whom we created the ceremony, combining both our traditions with minimal use of God. In Hebrew, many prayers are chanted or sung, and Rabbi Marcia brought down the house, using her talent and practice from her days singing in gospel choirs. People still talk about our ceremony. We included parts from the Song of Solomon ("I am my beloved's..."), a bit from O, Brother Where Art Thou ("You seek a great treasure...") and a poem written and read by a dear friend on the occasion of his own wedding anniversary ("Brattl.e Street"). (It's a gorgeous poem, perfect for the day -- I'm so grateful he allowed its inclusion in our wedding).
We included the traditional vows "will you take this woman..." and wanted to share our own thoughts or vows as well. This turned out to be way harder than I thought it would be. With all the busy-ness involved in planning and throwing a wedding, somehow, this kept getting put off and put off. Every time I tried to think about it, I'd get lost in thought and wind up crying. "I just... I just love you so much... You always make me feel beautiful..." Crap like that. No, sir, not gonna do it for wedding vows.
So the day approached, and the day came, and I still had nothing written. It was just too hard to put down in words -- too big, too simple -- to articulate why I loved C and what it meant to be marrying him. All that came to me was a bursting heart and lots of tears. How's that for schlock?
Rabbi Marcia sat with me as I was getting my hair and make up done, and we talked a little bit about C and me, and she said she would put something together. She did say a few words, but it never seemed enough, never seemed right.
Every year for our anniversary, I've told myself that real vows would make a great gift, but I've never seemed to be able to pull it together. Here goes:
From the first letter, you've made me laugh. Our conversations, our "discussions," our fights make me think, and feel, and use parts of my brain that are too easy to neglect. We work for it, but I always feel closer to you after we work it out. Even when I'm pissed off, it reminds me why I love you, why I even love fighting with you. To get to the laughing with you. The speed of your brain, and your wit continues to amaze me.
Those first few weeks, you were so unsure. So careful, gentle with me. We were both getting back on the horse, and it was scary. After that first kiss on the platform at the Hyne.s Convention Center T station, I thought, Oh, yeah, okay, I could definitely go for more of this. That first dinner and a movie, (Next Stop W.onderla.nd) something in the way you held my hand made me feel I could be safe with you. I knew I would be safe with you. And I am.
You are careful with your heart. You don't just toss it out there for anyone to take. And yet you gave it to me. You are slow to open up, slow to reach out to others, to feel safe with others. But I see how you enjoy being "social," and how, when someone touches you, when someone has earned your trust, you are a true and loving friend. Still, you are careful, but I can see when your heart is in it.
We've had a lot of ups and downs, both in our relationship and in our lives. But, as you remind me, we always "figure something out." Losing the boys has been our greatest challenge. And yet, despite the pain you are feeling, you take care of me, you are thinking of me. At the worst of our trauma, your thoughts were of me and of the boys. How to take care of them.
You gave your heart to your sons, before you could see them, before you could hold them. You hoped and planned for them. The way you dove in to your love for them, thinking the coast was (just about) clear; the life you pictured with them...it makes me love you even more.
And despite my anger and my fears and my ugly bitterness that sometimes shows up as "pointiness", hurtful jabs in my worst moments, you still tell me that I'm beautiful. You tell me I'm doing okay. You tell me you love me and you can wait through this hard part, and that you'll be holding my hand. That we'll get through this together.
You are everything I have ever wanted in a husband, a partner. Smart, sensitive, loving, patient, and yet you're still a "guy." We have our own lives, but we come together to share them, to move forward together. I love what we share: the talking and the "not talking", the laughter and getting through, growing through the pain.
It's not always an easy road, but I'm so glad to be sharing it with you.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Maybe. I think everything you folks said was right on the mark. And I think at some point, she's going to feel this loss intensely. Maybe she's intellectualizing it or something now.
In my family, I'm the feeler. We spent hours in group therapy when my mom was dying trying to figure out how to work together, to come together. Because I felt things, painful things, and expressed my feelings (often through tears) I made others uncomfortable. They thought of it as falling apart. Actually being weak. I'm not exaggerating when I say I think it was a revelation for multiple family members when the therapist said that it was actually a demonstration of strength. To get it out. To express it. And then, after I got it out, I could go on. I actually *was* strong. I didn't fall apart, like they all thought I would.
But now, it seems, I have fallen apart. Or rather, it hasn't been so easy for me to just get it out, get it over with and go on. Which would make everyone much more comfortable, I think. I wonder if they are thinking that I have actually fallen apart. Sometimes I think my dad understands. But I know I make him uncomfortable, especially when I go on about how I won't pretend to be okay for my grandmother when she calls. I think he's struggling to trust that I haven't gone to pieces like he always feared I would.
I fucking hate all this family dynamic shit. And I wonder how much is my projection. Because for a long time I bought into the whole S___ is weak because she cries thing. Hard to let go of. I thought I had, but everything regresses in times of stress.
No, I won't excuse the inappropriate comments. I will try not to accuse, either, though. I will just try to take care of myself. And I think that involves distance for a while.
It occurs to me that, after the initial fallout from our conversation, I am actually mad. I'm mad because it seems there is little acknowledgment (from some corners) of just how far I've come since January. That I actually *am* doing better. I didn't even realize it. Just surviving this. As lousy as I feel. As stricken as I am. Recognizing the enormity of our loss. The enormity of the pain. And while I am not "back to normal" (and will never be) I am living through this. I'm getting through it.
And I am not stuck.
I think she is trying to help me by telling to let it go. I think she didn't say any of this before because she hadn't "been there". Now she gets to say what she thinks. And this brings up a ton of family shit for me.
Part of me felt like, oh, she's in denial. I was talking with my friend S about it and she said it's possible that she purposely didn't connect with her twins because -- after what she's been through, and what I went through -- it was simply too hard to risk losing them until they were born alive and healthy. And if she didn't see them as people yet that helped her do that.
But it also goes to the idea of choice, and that we can't impose our own ideas of what a baby is or is not on others. I am definitely pro-ch.oice*, but I don't know at what point I could or could not end an earlier pregnancy than I did. Or for reasons that I did. Or in the ways that would be available to me. To me that's the point of choice: *I* get to decide.
I can respect her views and her decision, whether or not I agree with it. They may bring up feelings for me, but that is *me* not her.
I'm getting away from my point. Which is that if I tell her "No, those were babies and why aren't you sadder than you are?! Why aren't you acting sadder than you are?!" then I'm effectively undoing the point of choice. And I'm telling her that *she* is grieving her loss incorrectly.
She wept with me. Wept, when we found out there was little hope for Jacob. And yet she tells me, oh, they couldn't hear, they didn't have the brain capacity to feel, to move purposefully. (Some of this is wrong, of course. At almost 21 weeks, his development was further along than her twins' development was. )
She is sad. She is grieving. I think she knows it, too. And as some of you said, part of this may be the big sister trying to help me feel better so I can get better. Though it felt like, Hey, you're doing this all wrong.
I titled my last post Disconnect. And almost ended it with saying "I think I have to stop talking to my sister." Actually, I think I'm going to pull back more from my family for a bit because I feel like there is too much expectation there. On both sides. And I don't need the pressure. Whether or not they are judging me, I am feeling it.
PS: She has encouraged me to pursue a support group in the city. They have been helpful to her, and I might find them so also. I may do that, though I don't really trust strangers anymore. And it's driving an hour or more. I've been to good ones and not so good ones. She doesn't know that I've already got one. A good one. Thanks.
PPS: If you got the draft 1 version of my last post on reader, please disregard it. I accidentally hit the publish button. It's just a jumble of feelings and spewing. There's a reason I didn't post it.
*PLEASE no debates here. Please. We all have different opinions on this. Let's leave it at that.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
I just succeeded in torturing myself with baby blogs. Oh, but not just any baby blogs -- blogs from infertiles who succeeded in getting pregnant. The same week that I did. Some how seeking the 36 weeker recently born was hard, but didn't bring me to tears like the second. The one who had twins, but one twin died at 22 or 23 weeks. And the other twin made it to almost 26 weeks. And is now a chubby NICU baby who smiles when she hears her mother's voice.
It was a video. I didn't have to click on it. No. But I did. Oh, I did, and my heart did a little flip flop when the smile came. Yes it did. And then the thoughts. That's what *my baby* might be doing if he had survived. If we had tried. Even though he was doomed. Even though I know we did the right thing, it still rips my heart out. And it still makes me wonder what if. What might be. In all likelihood I would have a baby or two right now, had things not gone to hell. Due date in 2 weeks. God.Dammit.
The thoughts. Oh, man, am I freaking insane. I'm not asking. I'm exclaiming. I am asserting. I am Freaking Insane. And I was feeling okay. Well, sort of okay the last day or so. Thinking about my mom. Reading all your sweet comments. Talk of ice cream. How could that be bad? I even did a load of laundry.
But I could feel it building today. Once I finished grading. Once I had my mind free to think about how to resolve this semester. And come up with nothing. Once I had time to get anxious about calling doctors. About the possibility of ever trying again.
Once I started thinking about how my sister's doctors said that probably I had incomp.etent cervix, too. That they think that's probably what caused the p-prom. Possibly. And that what happened to me was like getting hit by lightning. Fucking lightning. How do I keep beating the freaking odds?
And my sister, too? We should both buy a lottery ticket because, really, what are the odds?
I last talked to her on Saturday, by the way. Giving her some space, but emailing to stay in touch. She was okay, though she's starting to feel it, I think. Very much of the "putting this behind" her camp, whereas I just can't let go.
I think we're both screwed.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
We had to be there at some ungodly hour. Of course, there were delays, and we sat for, easily, a half an hour or more. I noticed that she was scratching her arm; I pulled her sleeve up and she had a big patch of hives. She was worried about the surgery. She hadn't expressed her anxiety to me, and it hadn't really occurred to me that something could go seriously wrong. "Ma, are you anxious about this?" I don't even remember her response, if it was dismissive or sheepish. I think I got called to get prepped, and then into the OR.
I woke up feeling queasy, but with my mom at my side. I woke around 1pm, but the didn't release me until 7pm or so, because I was so nauseous. She drove my family's huge Chev.rolet Ca.price down the narrow, fast moving lanes of Storrow Drive, with me still horizontal because I was still queasy. Despite the queasy, I could see her white knuckling it as we headed west out of town.
My dad was out with JK, took her to dinner (at the same local pizza place) while they waited for us to return. I was still pretty out of it when they returned home, and was soon asleep. Had to go back in the next day, a Saturday, so the doctor could check on me and take out the packing. My parents said that they could hear me yell as the doctor yanked the packing, but that was the worst pain I suffered from the operation. I was nauseous all weekend. My mom and JK took turns shaking the diet coke for me, and the ginger ale, too, so they would be nice and flat. Crackers for my stomach.
My last memory of that weekend, is my mom sitting on the side of my bed Sunday afternoon. I was still queasy, and my mom was holding my hand or brushing the hair from my face as I was laying on my stomach in bed. Petting me somehow. From the living room, my dad called to her, "Sharon? Sharon, it's time, we have to get going." It was a a four-hour drive back home. She didn't want to go. She looked at me, looked at my dad as he approached my bedroom door to say good bye, but didn't anything. She held on to me, and hesitated. "Sharon? We gotta go." She kissed me and told me they would call to check on me when they got home. JK reassured her that she had plenty of diet coke for me, and was well practiced in the shaking. My dad said his goodbyes and they left.
It just occurred to me that 5 years later, the roles would be reversed. One of the most painful memories of my mother's illness. It was a weekend in April, and JK drove me down and stayed with me at my parents' house. That weekend, my mother was released from a world renown cancer center in NYC, with the head of gynecological oncology telling my dad that there was nothing more that they could do for her. She came home with a wheelchair and an oxygen tank. Very tired, very quiet. A and I fought a lot and it was overall a very difficult weekend.
Sunday afternoon, we had to head back. I went in and sat with my mom on her and my father's bed, and held her hand. We talked for a little bit. JK came in and kissed her good bye. Mom had given her some forsythia cuttings, I think. I told her I had to get going. And she just kept holding my hand. She didn't say anything, just looked at our hands, and kept holding on. I told her again, that I had to go. I kissed her a bunch of times, and we said good bye. And I had to physically take my hand out of hers.
JK and I started crying by the time we got to the end of my street. It wasn't until later, weeks later, that I realized she wanted to ask me not to go. It pains me that I couldn't understand. That it was to hard to even conceptualize.
A couple of weekends later, we brought in hospice. They came in on a Monday; it took longer than anticipated to make everything official -- I was going to head back up to Boston afterward. It annoyed me that the nurse spoke so loudly to my mother, like she wasn't all there, like she couldn't hear or understand. She could. She did.
The nurse, or whoever it was, told us that she likely would not last long. Had she considered a DNR (Do Not Resucitate) order. We hadn't talked about that, as a family yet. Mom asked me when my brother would be home, she wanted us all to talk about this. I asked her if she wanted me to stay this week. She said yes.
It was her last week. Mom died at 9:15 am on Friday, May 4, 2001. We were all gathered around her. I had stayed in her room all night (we took turns looking after her) and her breathing had become very noisy, what we'd later learn was the death rattle. It was a sound I thought I'd never forget, though I think I've blocked it now.
After my mother was gone, A suggested we share happy memories of Mom, to shake some of the pain of what we'd experienced. I couldn't think of anything of the top of my head, but others did. Then my sister and brother (and his girlfriend) and C and I took the dog and went to a local park by a lake and ate bagels. It was a gorgeous day, one she would have liked to spend working on her garden.
The last thing my mom ate was a few spoonfuls of a McDo.nald's sundae (hot fudge, no nuts) -- she suddenly had an appetite and my dad was so excited he got 6 of them (some with hot fudge, some just plain) in hopes that she'd continue to want to eat. It was a treat that we sometimes got as kids -- my mom *loved* ice cream, and surprisingly, enjoyed this too. Occasionally, on the spur of the moment, we would go through the drive-thru for sundaes.
I have a lot of memories of my mom -- lots of happy ones: my college graduation, the evening that C asked for their blessing on our engagement ("On one condition: you call us Sharon and Bob.") Once when we were kids, my brother and father were out of town on some kind of camping trip, and she took A and me to Fri.endly's to have ice cream for dinner.
Below is a picture JK took a few years ago of a flower in my mother's garden, a Rose of Sharon. I hope you enjoy it. And if you happen to have some ice cream today, if you happen to think of it, send up a spoonful for her.
Friday, May 2, 2008
It's four months this weekend since I delivered the boys. By the end of today, A's pregnancy will be over. Another Friday loss. She'll remember the 2nd of the month, instead of the 3rd and 4th. On Sunday, May 4, it is 7 years since my mother died.
I didn't want to share this with her. All my lamenting about how we had gotten so close, and how I feared it wouldn't last. How we had nothing to bond over now. This is not what I wanted. I don't want her to understand this.
It's been odd over the last couple of years, getting to know her. Finding out how similar we are in so many ways. But also how different. She's like my mom, a lot. She has the same hands. And she has the same brave face. The rational, practical approach: be busy taking care of people. As a kid, I always thought A was so strong. She almost never cried, and I always cried. It scared me when she openly cried, maybe because of the intensity of it. If my sister was crying, you knew it was big.
In recent years, and because we live so far away, it's rare for me to see her show such emotion. At my mother's death and funeral, her stone unveiling, my grandfather's death. And after one of the residents told us about the risks to my baby, being born too soon, with not enough fluid around him. The doctor left the room and -- shockingly -- we both burst into tears from across the room. If I had any denial left at that point, it was gone.
And she was there for me, for two weeks. Before and after the birth/death. She made me laugh in the hospital when everyone else was anxious and stone-faced. When I was getting upset. And I love her for that.
While I was recovering from the delivery at home, we talked about stupid things people say when they're trying to comfort the bereaved (or when talking to an infertile). We decided that most people are uncomfortable so they say stupid things. They feel like they need to fill the quiet space. They are trying to make themselves feel better, less uncomfortable.
I can see myself sitting in my car, after my class on Wednesday night, talking with her.
Me: A, I'm just so sorry. I wish there was something else I could say.
A: That's all you can say. There's nothing else to say. You know.
It was almost the same conversation, but with reversed roles, four months ago. I didn't want to share this with her.