Thursday, September 28, 2017


I think I said maybe I'd write about it more. I just read this, jotted in the middle of the night on my phone about a week after I put her to sleep. I considered posting it on Facebook, since so many friends were so involved, present for so many things in her life. Not sure if I'll do that though.

The other day I wrote a much longer thing related, similar post. Maybe I'll replace this,or post it, I don't know.

Anyway.  Here it is.

Death is so weird. Odd. unexpected.

I've always been agnostic about God and heaven. My mother was sure in her non-belief. I remember those last breaths. In..out. Pause. In...out. Pause. Pause. In....out. and gone.

Stella's sedation...I think it help her body start to really let go. She was antsy in *the room.* But she arranged her blanket the way she wanted, and settled in on it. She got kind of shaky as the sedation really settled in. Enough for me to call the doctor with concern. She check and could see she was under. Told me she was going to do it and gave her the last shot. I could barely see her last breath, couldn't hear it after all those days of her working so hard for it, barely see that last breath from that swollen belly. Barely at all. Her heart kept beating for just a little bit longer and then it didn't.  The whole time I just kind of spooned up to her, rubber her ears and her head and talking softly to her, what a good girl she was. I don't think I had time to tell her it was okay to go, to rest.  But she did. And she was just quiet. I kept rubbing head, and talked to her, petting her shoulder, and paws. Somehow something changed. Maybe her paws started getting cold, that was when I had to go. I don't know why I kept talking to her, petting her. Maybe I hoped there was just a little of her left to hear me, sense me.

After I delivered the boys, dissociative, I was told they were both born dead. Records later showed Jacob had a heartbeat, briefly, whatever that means. I felt awful that he died alone. Even if he wasn't conscious or developed enough to be conscious. If I couldn't be there, someone should have been, gently, tending. A witness to this last heartbeats. I still don't know time of delivery and death exactly due to the recording bring screwed up. Afterward, I wanted to see them, say goodbye, as if I'd be there at the time. I asked them to bring up the boys. Then, almost hysterical, I changed my mind. I couldn't bear holding them cold, especially from the morgue. And besides, I told myself, they weren't really there anyway, my boys, themselves were gone.

Even as she had settled down on her blanket, Stella began getting quiet. She'd been concerned: it wasn't the regular type of room and no treats on the trip or while waiting. And we had to wait a little since  they squeezed us in.  She couldn't decide if she wanted water. But she made things as comfortable as she could with her blanket. Next to me.

When she passed it was almost like she was sleeping, but not quite. She was always a snoozy girl, and even when she breathed easy you could hear and see it. To me, that was peace for her. Just resting, comfy, no worries. The scent of corn chips often wafting from her feet. I got one last whiff of it a few days before I brought her in. Or maybe it was a week. Time shifts around death.

After Stella was gone, I told folks it was "heartbreaking, but peaceful." And yes, no more worries, working to breathe, no trying to please me with that tail going up when I called her name. And there was no panic or fear in the room as her breath and heartbeat stopped,  just one of our comfy snuggles, and then quiet.

Just quiet.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Stella's Heart

Stopped beating at about 5:05 pm on Friday, August 18, 2017. She was about 12 years old.

I didn't feel it stop; the vet did but she went sleeping, spooned against me, as I petted her silky ears, gently rubbed her face.

I hope to be posting something more about her, but since I shared her entrance into my life nine years ago, , I thought I'd share news of her passing away from it.

She started out sad and often apprehensive, but her spirit grew and it was a privilege to watch. Despite the many physical challenges Stella faced over her life, she stayed trusting and cooperative. Never did a tooth touch skin --  canine, civilian, or medical. The overarching adjective for her from stranger to friend to veterinarian was "sweet."

She was a good girl, no matter what she got into, tore up, or ate. She was there for me when I needed her. She was a good girl, heart and soul. And I loved her.

Okay, technical difficulties -- working from my phone. I'll post the others soon, maybe. In the meantime, here's one of my favorites, from October 2016.

Friday, March 3, 2017


There are only two pictures of me visibly pregnant, from the same day at 16 weeks. I'd just gotten home from the hospital from my nth visit for fluids, and only recently did I see how really pregnant I did look.  I had been so hunched over with nausea and worry and exhaustion,..but hope.  just a teeny bit of hope that grew as my boys did. There was one day, I was weepy after class, worrying that I was so sick, I couldn't give them what they needed to grow and be healthy. A friend, mother of 3 soon to be 4, put her arm around me, comforting me, "Don't worry, it's okay, really, they'll take what they need. They'll be okay." It helped,

My memory of my pregnancy is not one of round, full, excitement.  There were wonderful moments, Ultrasounds and sharing the news, the butterfly flutters as they moved around my belly, early on. Then the first real shove.

After it was all over, I was empty. At least at first. The roundness disappeared, my arms skinny, my belly loose, but empty. It surprised me that it was loose, since I had never put on weight (I had lost 6 lbs by 19+ weeks), I lost the roundness after, though. the fluids and extra blood of pregnancy. And after, all of a sudden, it seemed, people started saying, yeah, you were pretty sick, skinny, It had even been hard to tell I was pregnant if I was wearing a coat. I guess because it was just belly.
I had had no idea how round and excited I had become, though. I was happy to finally be getting close, despite the nausea and puking and stress and everything else.  And I had found my work, and colleagues I enjoyed, and now pregnancy -- and my child would have a brother! And no more fertility treatments! -- and my loving husband.  My family, I was growing my family. I was helping to grow my family, with the sleepless nights and the first days of kindergarten and the adolescent arguments and the first days of college, the empty nest, And the silliness.

Way back before we started trying to conceive, when one of my nieces or nephews was little, a toddler, no more that a year or 18 months. or they looked around and found  who they were looking for: "Mommy!" they exclaimed. Mommy! and my uterus ached and my chest clenched. I felt it. I wanted it. I knew.

Every day it becomes more clear to me that I am Childless and will ever be.  I am missing all these things, yes, but that not what consciously runs through my mind.

This is really who I am now. No pregnancy... none of all that stuff No miracles, no adoption at my age or status or PTSD (even now that it's treated), Foster children? To have a child, love a child, and let it go -- I've already done that. I don't know if I could do it again.

There won't be a child that is mine to raise. Not a family.  Plan A is gone. Time to embrace Plan B. Long time past that. Or C, maybe. If I can figure out a way to do that.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


I guess that was partly instigated by the time of year. My cycle is lining up with the one I had when I got pregnant with the boys.

Nine years ago.

Sad, really, that that sticks, though I am usually a freak with dates and stuff like that. If you've been around here, you might remember. 

Don't know that I'll write much more, but I'll keep this up here. Maybe it -- I -- can keep someone company.

I don't know what I'd have done without it, and the company I've kept. Then and know.

Sending love.
(LONG self-indulgent post.)

Stella (11-year old dog) is now supposed to be getting B12, initially 6 sub-q shots on Saturdays since I took her in on a Saturday. I forgot yesterday, so I did it today.  No biggie. Filling the syringe, finding a spot, finding makeshift sharps container. I was a pro. I mean, she's skinny, so finding a spot was hard, but the whole ritual.


I was just telling a friend about it. The sub-q and the intramuscular, and the pills for this and the shots for that and that and that...just to TTC.

 then still shots and stuff once I got pg.

We got used to having med bottle caps and syringe boxes and sharps containers, alcohol swabs, some just around, some neatly stashed. I used to bring my lovenox to school in my backpack when I was pg. When we were trying once I had to do a shot in the airport bathroom.

I completely forgot yesterday. I had even been kvetching about the dozen things I have to do for Stella and Hazel (one of the cats)...totally forgot. Not a big deal for her medically, esp since she's way better than a week ago.

It wasn't on the calendar, and though nothing else is, it was in a paper bag, easily neglected.

I had forgotten all the steps it took, all the pills and the shots and creams and all the appointments and the internal ultrasounds and being told when to have sex. I mean, I remembered, but it was kind of a blur.

9 cycles over almost 2 years. (Some of them almost worked!)

Then 4 more.

I'd forgotten how much work it was. 9 cycles. And a few years later, 4 times more. And here I am. Where I am.

I just hadn't thought about it in a long time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014


From an assignment for a class about the use of narrative. Not my best work, and I may have posted it before, but it's been on my mind. At the end are comments from my professor.


“You’ll figure it out,” he says, as I gather my computer, my purse and a snack, on my way upstairs to complete this damned project. It has been through iteration after iteration. 

Word pictures. Poems.  Edited posts. Posts straight from the blog. 

But which posts?  What part of the narrative do I tell?

I sit cross-legged on the bed.  The dog is snoring nearby, curled up on the pale blue t-shirt I wore today. It was a long day today.  Both Cliff and I were at school the entire day.  She worries, the dog, I mean.  At least she looks like she worries, with those magic ears that can transform her face from curious beagle to Saddest Basset Hound Ever in the blink of an eye.  As Cliff says, “She has cares.”

I burn about 5 minutes describing the dog instead of pondering how to bring a sliver of this story to the page.  It’s not that it’s so original.  My story? I started the blog in a desperate attempt to find some support, some community.  Someone who might understand what it’s like.   In the two years I spent trying to get pregnant, I filled hours reading infertility blog after infertility blog.  I never commented, save once or twice. I considered, occasionally starting my own blog, but it didn’t seem that what I had to say was particularly compelling.  I found enough support in just knowing there were others out there. 

Almost a week after delivering the boys, I made my first foray back into the community: a trip to Starbucks where the staff offered condolences and a trip to school to meet with the Chair.  After being out for an hour, I came home exhausted.  I felt like I was moving through water, all my motions slowed, voices sounded warped and my vision, well, I just felt a huge invisible, yet physical barrier between me and everyone else.  I was weighed down at the bottom of a sea. I lived in a different world now. 

I came home and sat down on the beat-up loveseat in the living room. Well, I’ll give it a try, I guess.  I opened up the computer. I came up with a title and a chose a template.  Easy enough.  The profile was more of a challenge.  How does one begin a blog?  This is how I started mine:

The beginning of the end 
All I wanted for Christmas this year was to enjoy what seemed to be the cessation of my interminable morning sickness. A warm, quiet house on our last child-free Christmas, with day dreams of the happy chaos to come. That morning I woke up to a gush, knowing something was horribly wrong. It was the beginning of the end. My boys would not last; my husband and I -- our hearts broken -- would never be the same. 

I sent a note to a clearinghouse website for infertility and loss telling them about my blog.  And then I closed the computer up for 4 or 5 days.  When I opened it, I found 27 comments. 27. Condolences from strangers.  Some who had been through it, some who just wanted to say, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”  

Cliff came downstairs and found me crying.  “Look.” I turned the screen to him. “Wow. That’s good, isn’t it?”  I nodded, but couldn’t say anything.  Each comment brought more tears.  

It was like reading the sympathy cards we got in the mail.  I was so touched by each one: by both the thought and the reason for sending it.  Almost two and a half years later, I can still feel that tingle behind my eyes when I think of it. 

I posted once or twice more, then left it for almost a month.  After a particularly rough day out in the world, I just jotted down some thoughts, vented some frustration. I wrote as I would in a journal, or tried to, but my audience was always there, in the corner of my eye.  

I began to read others’ blogs more regularly.  I learned the etiquette.  I read some brilliant writing.  Different stories, each of them, but with the same sad ending.  

When I was writing, creative writing, in my twenties, somewhere I read or was told that “what is most personal is most universal.”  Those words echoed in my head, but did not ring entirely true.  I felt disconnected from everyone around me, as I tried to process the loss and the trauma.  But reading the words of other women, babylost women, as some call them, I heard my own fears, dreams, hurt articulated.  And I was reassured by those who had come before me.  Somehow, I was able to reach out to those who came after me.  I didn’t know much, but I could listen.  I could simply say, “I’m so sorry,” and know that I was helping if only for a moment. 

In the months following our loss, I posted and posted and posted again. Getting it out helped. Reaching out helped.  Before I knew it was part of a community. My entries became more like letters or emails to dear friends.  

In the two years and several months since I started my blog, I have written 434 posts.  Sometimes I just want to vent, sometimes just to document. It helps, sometimes, just to write something out; I don’t even need to post it. 

So what do I hand in for this freaking project?  The dog is still snoring, and it’s almost an hour later.  What story do I want to tell?  

I still don’t know.  “Life goes on.”  “It takes a long time.”  What about the reaction I got when I asked about potential participants for research on pregnancy loss and women’s professional lives?  Unanimous sentiment:  Please, tell this story.  Loss is not the end of us, but it is an important part of us.

Sometimes, I feel like my story began on December 25, 2007, when my water broke. Sometimes I feel like it began when we got pregnant.  Or when we started trying to get pregnant. Or when I delivered my twin boys at 20 weeks 5 days gestation.  My life has been materially changed by my pregnancy, the 10 days it took to let go of it, the delivery itself… I am materially changed.  I think my blog has served to document both the change in my life and the change in me. 

But I’m not done yet. Of course, no one is ever done, but what I’m trying to say is that I’m still trying to figure out who I am, and what my place in this new world will be. Two years in and my friends, those in the “club no one wants to be in” are still with me.

I’m going back and forth, still, on which posts – if any – to share. I considered some of the really tough ones from the delivery, the decision making, but instead, I think I’ll share some of the periphery of remembering on the anniversaries of the loss, and life after the first year.  Just some connections.

Saturday, January 3, 2009
I thought I could do it 
I just opened up my computer after spending $100 at the grocery store on mostly crap. Cookies, comfort food.

And yarzheit candles. I bought 4 of them. I'm not sure why I got 4. It's getting close to sunset; we'll light them soon.

I thought I could describe the 180-degree change in the demeanor of the OB resident when she realized what I was there for. And how she had to do yet another pelvic/cervical check (#12?) and ultrasound. The room was darkened for it; I couldn't look, finally, I just couldn't look at the ultrasound. C just held my hand and kept me looking at him.

I thought I could recount the different rooms I was in, all of which echoed with other women's healthy babies' heartbeats in neighboring rooms. How I heard and saw healthy woman laboring as I was wheeled in my bed down to my tiny laboring room.

I thought I could talk about the delay after day in getting the pitocin up to my room, so that (even though I was there at 6:30 am, I wasn't induced until about 2pm).

I thought I could describe how wonderfully easy it was to fall against the nurse, Nurse Bob, so I could get my epidural. And how the intern hit big nerves three times, enough for me to cry out, before his supervisor took over. And how the numbness never fully reached my right side. And how we were able make a lame joke, finally, about my having a lot of nerve.

I thought I could talk about how my family took turns sitting in my room because it was so small. There was nothing bigger available, as the department was under construction. Two at a time, plus C. My sister was a writer for sitcoms in a former life, thank god, so her innate sense of humor could make me laugh, even as I watched my stomach clench periodically. Her and the ativan.

I thought I could tell how awkward it was with my brother and BIL. And the low, florescent lighting cast a pall over everything. And how my father, through his smile to try to comfort me, looked so very sad and worried. How his big, rough hands held mine and patted them, gently.

I thought I could describe how inured I was to cervical checks, and how each one showed that I was not progressing and how it seemed my body didn't want to let go. How it wasn't until that evening that my protocol changed.

There is much more from this day that I wanted to share. Perhaps I'll be able to tell more later. 

Posted by Sue at 4:30 PM  10 comments 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009
Evening Comes 
I don't really know how to end this. There is so much that follows that I've already written about. 

I need to take a breath or two, now. Thinking about what I (we) just wrote, what happened, and about you. I have felt so alone. Even with you here with me. Writing this made me realize just what we went through. It has made me realize that no one, except C and perhaps my sister and father, knew the whole story. The Whole story. I have censored and edited, and really, most of what happened does not fit into casual conversation. Into any conversation. And really, I don't know that it's a story I could tell anyone but you. Not like this.

So now I may take a moment to breathe, a day, or a few days. I'm struggling hard again. School begins next week and I still don't have a plan. But Stella begins school, too and I'm hoping that the routine of day to day will help me ease my way out of this pit again.

Thank you for reading, and for abiding with me. I felt every hand on mine, every arm around my shoulder. I'll leave you with this poem by Jane Kenyon, one of my favorite poets.

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through the chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in the long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to the air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come. 

Posted by Sue at 9:20 PM  17 comments 

Sunday, January 11, 2009
One day I'll write a post about how twice a year she sends me care packages filled with Jewish and NY goodies I can't get here, goodies from Zabars, making sure to include lox spread for C. I'll write about how she sends me articles on topics I once mentioned I was interested in.

Someday I'll write a post about how she begins her notes to me "Suzi dear," and still remembers terrible jokes I made about cereal when I was 10 years old, still gives them a warm laugh. I'll write a post about how at every family gathering for a holiday meal, she will bring crunchy, raw, red peppers for me, because she knows I love them.

Today, I'll write just a few words about how, during our phone call today, after I thanked her for her recent care package, and she asked me about school, my dear Aunt L (Tia, as she prefers), asked how I was doing. I was sort of honest, that it's been hard, this time of year, but I'm getting through. And she told me she lit yahrtzeit candles for the boys.

And I amazed, and touched, that she was thinking not just of me, on those days, but of my sons. She was loving not just me and C on those days, but Jacob and Joshua, too. Perhaps, if she remembered the words, she was saying prayers in Hebrew as she touched the match to the wick of each candle.

And 2 hours after our conversation, I am crying as I think of it, and I think about my worry that my boys would be forgotten. Or, dismissed. And I picture her in her tiny NYC kitchen, looking at each flame, and remembering them. Loving them as she loves me. 

Posted by Sue at 6:50 PM  16 comments 

So, that’s a snippet of a few days in which I remembered a few days from the year before. Did I tell a story? Maybe.  Was it one I intended? I don’t know.  But it’s likely there’s more to come. 

It is a story and a powerful one indeed. It should not be neat and linear as that strategy only obscures how messy loss, tragic loss really is and how it never really goes away…maybe it only ebbs and flows.  The narrative I hear here is the one about finding the courage, finding the energy to tell the story of healing or the story of struggling to heal or doing something before you yourself die from sadness and complicating what that might mean really. There is a very important book here and you should carry on. I wish you what was once wished upon me at a time of utter loss: I wish you peace beyond your own understanding. I know that peace seems, at this moment, so very incomprehensible but hopefully you will find it in your quest to remember Jacob and Joshua rather than forgetting what happened. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014