Monday, March 31, 2008

No good deed goes unpunished

Another of my mother's favorite lines. Such an optimist, my mom.

On Friday, I got a call from one of my colleagues, T. She had to be out of town to take care of a sick relative and asked if i could cover her class on Monday (the same one I teach, just a different section, slightly different format). Well, if you were tuned in on Friday, you know that it was *not* a good day for me. I didn't say yes right away, told her I needed to check to make sure I could do it. She was really in a tight spot, as several other people who could otherwise have done it were in class at the time she needed, or were taking comps. T had been very sweet to me when I came back, very understanding -- she's someone I've always respected and whose company I really enjoy. She said she knew that it's been a difficult semester for me, so if I couldn't do it, it was definitely okay.

I called her back a few hours later, after bawling for a little while about how weak and scared I felt, and told her I would do it. Since the students were doing some presentations, it would be pretty low key. I would figure something out.

So today, I came to school, taught my session and then had about a 2 hour break until T's class began. I had some lunch, visited with some people, surfed a little.

About 3pm, I hear a familiar voice. And a baby crying. It's one of the women in my department who had a baby in February, visiting, showing off her 6-week old little girl. This is the same woman who came in to the office at about 39 weeks pregnant and told me my miracle would come, and that "there's a reason for everything." This from a 40-year old woman with her oops, 2nd child do I really want this pregnancy, sticking her huge belly in my face.

I was sitting in the grad student computer area, essentially hiding in the corner, staying quiet, hoping she would not come over to say hello. Please please... I was actually peering over the cubicle wall to see if her office door was open, if it was safe to walk by and pick up my copies off the printer. Her door opened, I heard her come down towards the computers, ostensibly to talk to one of my other colleagues, one who had taken the first part of comps today.

"Hey, S, how are you doing?" I smiled and muttered something like I always do (hanging in there, doing okay). "Getting back into the swing of things...?" Yeah. Whatever, just take your beautiful child and GO. So my colleague oohs and aahs over the baby and as she's getting ready to leave...

Yes, you know she's going to say it... You know she is. Say it with me... come on...

"If you ever need a fix, you know..." Oh, yeah... hah... huh...

"Yeah, you can come over when she's crying and screaming and cranky. You won't miss it so much then..."

Hah, yeah. And I literally turned my entire body back to the computer. I honestly don't know how I didn't scream and/or cry. My heart was pounding. And all I could think was, you don't actually think that a screaming, cranky baby would make me feel better about my sons being dead???

Oh my god. Luckily, there were nice, good, decent people showing up for class at 4, so I got to visit with them. Two women I had been in class with last semester, who knew what happened. One has a sister, I think, who had a stillbirth at full term a couple of years ago, hasn't been able to get pregnant since. She said that she knew she couldn't totally understand my pain, but she had an idea, from the family perspective. Very sweet. I vented to her and we checked in a little, then talked about her for a bit, talked about some program stuff... Then I had to go teach.

If I hadn't helped out, I would have missed out on the drive-by. I'm still kind of heart-poundy from it. Thank god I have no more classes with this prof.

Okay, now this feels very whiny, and poor me. Maybe it's because I don't get a lot of insensitive comments that I feel so shaken. So reminded of how much people can just suck, how much they can just be so freaking clueless. I'm sure that she just didn't know what to say, that she felt weird that I had been so pregnant last semester after 2 years of trying and now I'm not and I just went through hell and she has this adorable baby that she wasn't even sure she wanted at first.

I'm sure she didn't even know how uncomfortable she felt. Maybe she was just strung out from having a newborn and a three-year old. That's it.

I just don't even care.


My taste in music runs far and wide -- if something clicks it just clicks; C has said that he's got something in his huge music collection to offend everyone. Often our tastes overlap, often they do not, and we have both been known to broaden the horizon of the other musically. Last week I went to T.arget, looking to spend money I don't have, and on the way there I heard a song on the radio by Sara B.areilles. It's the song that gets a lot of play on the radio around here, and it took a bit for me to accept that I liked it, and I was curious about the album. What the hell, i though. It was ten bucks. It was a good ten bucks spent, I'm enjoying it. When I told C I picked it up, he said, that he had just been checking her out on line, curious, too. Just coincidence that we were both interested independently of each other. Doesn't happen too often.


Music has always been evocative for me. Though I started piano at 4 and cello at 10, I've never been a particularly strong musician, at least in performance, in creating the music. But throughout my life, like many people, there are songs that simply resonate; they make me not just laugh, but feel joy; they articulate my feelings, my experience; they make me not just weep, but seem to validate, perhaps even mediate, my pain. When I'm sad, I tend to apply my sad story to whatever music I'm listening, too, to see if the words fit, if they tell my story without my words. Yeah, neurotic. Whatever.

There's a song on the B.areilles album that I can't quite get enough of, One.Sweet.Love. I'm certain she's talking about romantic love, but somehow the words resonate for me, in my struggle with infertility and pregnancy loss, particularly (obviously) the loss of my boys, the fear of never having living children. I linked the full lyrics to the song title above, but here's a chunk of them, taken from the middle of the song:

Sleepless nights you creep inside of me
Paint your shadows on the breath that we share
You take more than just my sanity
You take my reason not to care.
No ordinary wings I'll need
The sky itself will carry me back to you
The things I dream that I can do I'll open up
The moon for you
Just come down soon

The time that I've taken
I pray is not wasted
Have I already tasted my piece of one sweet love?
Ready and waiting for a heart worth the breaking
But I'd settle for an honest mistake in the name of
One sweet love.

Savor the sorrow to soften the pain sip on
The southern rain
As I do, I don't look don't touch don't do anything
But hope that there is a you.

I recently came across Sarah Mc.Lachlan's Surfacing album, too, In particular, the track title Do.What.You.Have.To.Do. This song wrecked me. Wrecked me. Go ahead, ask C. It had been years since I heard this album, but it seems it was specifically written for me to bawl my eyes out to (how did SM know about me and my boys?). When I heard this, I could see myself in the hospital when my water broke, before labor, during labor, as we were leaving, as I sit in the dark waiting for sleep to come...

Have you heard that song? Full lyrics are linked to the song title, but here's a little sample, another chunk from the middle of it:

and I have the sense to recognize that
I don't know how to let you go
every moment marked
with apparitions of your soul
I'm ever swiftly moving
trying to escape this desire
the yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do
the yearning to be near you
I do what I have to do
but I have the sense to recognize

that I don't know how
to let you go
I don't know how
to let you go


I've always been a big crier. And usually I feel much better after I have a good cry -- songs like these often do the trick for me. What about you? What are your weepies? Or what songs make you feel better, feel good? Maybe in another post i'll find songs that do make me feel good (or used to, anyway).

Or, is it poetry? Movies? Something else? What resonates for you?

Stream of Consciousness

More whining. Awake at 1 AM.

I can't get out of my head. I can't focus on anything but this. I feel like this helpless child, I can't do anything.


I start every sentence with I.
I can't read anything that isn't this.
I can't bear to focus my brain on this terrible sadness.
I can't bear to focus my brain on anything but this sadness.
I cling to it. I hate it.

I used to be a "night owl." I hate the night now. I sit up in the dark and listen to C breathe. I look at the shadows cast on the wall by my bedside lamp.

I don't even know what I think about, trying not to cry. Trying not to cry too loudly.

I'm such a mess.

I tell C that maybe I should just withdraw this semester, while I figure out what I'm doing in school now. He thinks that if I just push through, I'll find it again. Fake it 'til you make it, I guess.

It took so much just to get to class this semester. To get to class without crying. To get through class without crying. But I don't participate anymore. I don't do work anymore. Sometimes I do get caught up in class discussion. But I have nothing to say. Nothing that isn't angry. Nothing productive. I sit, and in my head I think about how useless this all is. Lots of talk. Very little change.

When I was 13, I had what I guess was clinical depression. The adults called it "school phobia." I stopped doing my work, and then I stopped going to school. It was eighth grade. I would sit in the guidance counselor's office and cry. Sit in my mother's car and cry. I can still feel the damp tissue in my hand. So sad I couldn't even bring my eyes up. I just focused on the tissue, turning it, folding it over and over in my hand. I look back now and it's all very familiar.

20-odd years and tons of therapy later, I've come to understand the root of all those tears, all the sadness. I think I was sitting at a crossroads, on the verge of growing up, needing to deal with my own feelings, my family dynamics, figuring out my place in the world.

Perhaps that's what I'm doing now. Paralyzed. Not wanting to move forward, not yet. Knowing I can't go back. Oh, how I want to go back. I just want to go back.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Eating and Sleeping

There's a very old "Garf.ield" comic strip in which, I think, Jon reproaches his cat because all he does is eat and sleep. The cat makes some obnoxious remark I can't remember (something about how that's what life is all about), and in the last frame, one of them says "I'm hungry," and the other is asleep.

I am both those today. Woke up, had a bagel, talked to B, dozed, gave in and took a full-fledged nap on the couch for a couple hours, woke up, had some chips and iced tea, had some popcorn, and that brings me to now.

Busy day. Whatever. It's helping me get through, and making up for not eating yesterday because I was too upset.

It occurs to me that eating and sleeping is also the sum total of what newborns do -- along with the diaper activity, of course. Of course that occurs to me. Saturdays are hard, because that's when I entered the next week of my pg. I would be 33w today. 13 weeks ago, we were trying to figure out what the hell we were going to do. How much of a chance our living son would have. If infection didn't set in. If I didn't go into labor. If he didn't just die inside me like his brother.

God, that sucked. I look back, and it seems like a whole other universe. The time I was pregnant, it seemed so long to get to 20 weeks. Every day was an eternity. I remember thinking early on that I'd be 20 weeks at New Year's. After the new year, I'd start polling my friends for recommendations on baby stuff. Maybe we'd go look at cribs. Start moving stuff out of C's office into mine to make room for the babies. Maybe I'd have stopped puking.

Well, I stopped puking. I had actually just reconciled myself with the idea that I'd probably be sick the entire pregnancy, that I'd be sick until May. Guess I was right, on one of those, at least. Goddammit.

Looking back, the last three months have flown. My friend S is where I was (or beyond where I was) when it all went to hell. My sister is past her first trimester.

Life goes on.

I eat. I sleep.

Friday, March 28, 2008

I'm okay

More or less.

I think a lot of things were hitting me at once. I still don't know how I'm going to get through this semester, or even complete my work from the last one (when I was sick all the time). I'm starting to seriously consider a medical withdraw. Not getting work done. Not getting anything done. How am I going to get through the semester?

Hell, I don't know how I'm going to get through tomorrow. But I will. Whether it's sleep, or M&Ms or lots of drugs. We'll see.

Guess I should have called the pharm shrink my therapist referred me to on Tuesday. I had been weepy, but felt so much better on Wednesday, even Thursday. I thought it was mostly hormones (period started on Wednesday). Silly me. Know what I'm doing first thing Monday.

I wish I was numb. having good days just seems to end up with me on the floor weeping. Or 6 feet under. did I just say that? What I meant was, as good as I feel one day, I'll feel that bad the next. I intended no reference to actually being 6 feet under. Really.

Theoretically, rationally, I know there are good things going on, that everything is not all bad. It just feels that way. K made it through the surgery okay. So far, so good (with fingers crossed). I'm going to update the post below.

Thank you all for your responses. I can't tell you what it means to me to know I'm not alone in all this. That we're not alone. Really.


Today is my dead mother's birthday.

I quit

I can't do this anymore. I'm not strong enough. It's all just too much. I can't function. I can't think. I can't do anything.

It just hurts too much.

I give up.

Worried *Updated*

Not about me this time.

I just got off the phone with my friend B, whose husband, K, is very ill. I think I mentioned this before, but he's got cong.estive heart fai.lure and has been deteriorating. He's was in a local hospital in upstate NY, then transferred to a big, world-renown hospital in NYC to try to stabilize him. He will definitely need a transplant. In fact, they are so worried about him making it to transplant that they are putting a device in his heart as kind of a bridge, to help it pump. So his organs don't fail before the transplant.

His open heart surgery for the device is this afternoon. He has the top doctors in the country taking care of him, and they tell him he is "very, very sick." You know it's bad when the doctors who have seen everything are concerned. I thank goodness he's in good hands, but I'm so scared for him, and for my friend. We have been friends since meeting in 4-H at 15. They are among the best people I know. They have 2 small sons. I am 1000 miles away, and wondering how much it costs to fly there on no notice so I can just go sit with her and wait.

He has to be okay. He has to make it through this. He just has to.


My friend B called, and let me know that K got through the surgery okay. He's pumping a lot more blood through his heart already. Now the concern for the next 24 hours is bleeding. Once he gets through that, it will just be a matter of keeping a close eye on him as he heals. Apparently, the doctor said that his heart was very, very damaged, and that without this device, he probably would not have lasted the week. Any damage done to organs should heal with the improved blood flow. And once he's recovered, he should feel a lot better.

B sounds exhausted. She said both she and her FIL are staying at the hospital, sleeping on couches rather than leaving to go to the hospital's hotel. I didn't even try to convince her to go. I can understand wanting to be there, close by.

Thank you all for your responses, your thoughts and prayers. It means a lot.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


I never gained weight with my pg (in fact I lost some) because I was so sick. In the 2 weeks between delivery and my post partum appt, I was down almost 20 lbs off my pre-pregnancy weight. My regular clothes hung off me. I couldn't eat. And then I could.

Sugary drinks. M&Ms. Lots of M&Ms. And oreos. The belly is rounder. Things are fitting better, or the way they did before pg. And I hate it. It was almost like my pale skin and sickly skinny frame represented what was left of me after this loss. So people could see I was changed, damaged, grieving.

In Judaism, after a loss, the mourners wear a ribbon with a tear in it for a month, which can be representative of keriyah or the tearing of clothing before a funeral. One of the things I like about my religion/culture (at least among my cohort of reformed Jews) is that there are often many interpretations of the meaning of different rituals. I think the tearing represents the pain of grief, the idea that we will never be the same because of our loss. The idea of the torn clothing is evocative for me. You can patch or sew a tear, but the cloth will never be the same.

Looking back, I realize that during that first month or so I often wore a pair of ripped, worn out jeans, that didn't fit right. I didn't care. And I liked looking sickly. Look how different I am. Look at what this has done to me. I am not the same person. Part of me is gone now.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The first day, or...

The very beginning of the end.

Three months ago today, this morning at 10 am, when I got up out of bed to use the bathroom my water broke. We got to the hospital at 10:30, maybe. and they actually made me wait. "Well, we don't know about sending you up to OB. Usually you go right up if you're 20 weeks or more, but you're only 19w3d." This is my freaking hospital. The ER doc did one of those acid tests which came back neg for amniotic fluid (how on earth?) and after they only got one heartbeat on the little handheld doppler, they sent me upstairs to OB and paged Dr. ColdFish.

They set me up in what looked like a monitoring/NST room. The nurse started to set up the monitors for contractions and each of the boys' heartbeats. She got the contractions one going, then the first heartbeat monitor, just fine. It was that second heartbeat she couldn't get. And she tried, used a different probe just in case. We reassured ourselves that that second one was always hard to find. She left just the contraction monitor and the one heartbeat monitor on until the doctor arrived. I was having very very mild contractions, and while the reader was on, the sound of the heartbeat was not amplified in the room.

The doctor did a pelvic, sort of, but was not too invasive (if that's possible with a plastic sterile speculum). It hurt a lot, but he seemed think this was a failing on my part. He went ahead and did a couple of other tests to see if the fluid was amniotic, even though, as he said, they aren't always accurate. Those tests came back negative and/or inconclusive. (So why do they use these tests?)

He did an ultrasound, but warned that it may not be very good, an old basic machine. The hospital radiologist had a much better machine, but he was out, because, you know, it's Christmas. This is my local hospital. I swear to god. I must have been in shock and/or denial to not be completely freaking out at this point.

Jacob came up right away on the ultrasound, his heart beat, I think he was even moving around a little, but there was almost no fluid in his sac. The doctor found Joshua, muttered something about him being smaller, and seemed to have a harder time finding the beat. At one point he thought he got it, and I actually exhaled, but then he corrected, and said he thought it was Jacob's from another angle, or bouncing off something. (With hindsight, this of course makes me wonder how long Joshua was actually gone, since on two separate doppler readings (about 10 or 11 days apart) his heartbeat was harder to find, and was consistently 10 beats slower than Jacob's. This was almost a week after the last check-up, but it seemed, later, that he might have been gone at least that long, based on his condition at birth.)

After this ultrasound, Dr. ColdFish said that he could call the radiologist in from home, if we wanted him to confirm the initial findings that my sacs had indeed ruptured and that it looked like "baby b" had died. He said that it's possible that he was still okay, as it was kind of a crappy machine, and he didnt have as much expertise as the radiologist with the better machine, but "I won't lie to you, this is very..." I don't even remember the word he used. Grave. Serious. Essentially, don't get your hopes up, this doesn't look good at all. He must have said that "baby a's" fluid was very, very low, and that they'd both need more than that for a decent outcome. I remember just kept saying the fluid was very low, very low.

We decided to hold off on calling the radiologist in, unless he came in for something else. It was mid afternoon at this point, so we figured we could wait until morning. I don't know why we didn't say, "hell yes, call him away from his Christmas dinner, my babies are at risk!!" Denial, probably. Or putting off the inevitable.

I got set up in a room in OB, the first of many with a falling leaf on the door. They started me on antibiotics and brought me something to eat, maybe. I had been texting with my friend, JK, the one with the sick father, back east. He had been moved home for hospice and somehow had made it through to Christmas. I let her know that it "looked like" my water might have broken, I think, but very few details as we knew little for absolutely sure, and she had enough to worry about on her own.

At 3:26 pm on Christmas day, I got a text from her that said, "Dad is gone." It shook me. This was my dad away from home when I was in college, since they lived relatively nearby. JK's mom always signed cards "Mom & Dad H." I always had a place in their home. The last time I had been there for a visit, I got the greatest hugs from him, and from her mom. That was the last time I saw Dad H. He had taken our college yearbook pictures, and they came out so good; that day holds some my favorite memories of him, the three of us. And then we went to the Aca.pulco's for the best Mexican food in the neighborhood.

I remember sitting in the hospital bed looking at the text and I gasped, with tears, telling C. showing him my phone. I sent something back to her and we had a few exchanges. That's really all I remember from that night. I'm sure we watched tv or something, tried to eat. The phone calls hadn't begun yet. C went home around 10 or 11 to look after the cats, get some home sleep and take a shower. We had little idea of what lay in store, or when there would be time -- or normalcy -- for such things in the coming days.

I'm just doing this all wrong

Or rather...

I'm doing everything wrong. I can't do anything.

I'm ruining my career. I'm isolating myself from my friends, my family. Everyone who loves me. My 90-year old grandmother who has finally gotten the hint that I can't talk to her every day. It's been days since we spoke and she just wants to hear that I'm okay. I feel like I'm failing everyone. And they would say, no, of course you're not. But I am. I am.

I'm hiding away in our bedroom with the cats and the tv and my computer. Searching, searching for something to focus on, something that makes sense.

I used to like to leave the house. Now it's an effort just to go to the market. Too many choices. Too many people. Too many babies. Too many pregnant women on magazine covers.

I had about 20 minutes today where I felt okay, then I realized it and it all went to hell. Actually that happened twice today, so I guess that's progress, huh?

But now I can't sleep and I want to cry out loud. And I'm so tired of waking C up with my sobbing. I'm just so tired of all this.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Feeling the love

(Okay, I tried to include the image, but I have no idea if it worked.)

The lovely C. at My Resurfacing has bestowed upon me the "less than 3" award. I am honored and touched. It's been such a comfort to be so warmly welcomed into this "club no one wants to join." It's hard to choose another blogger whom I "less than 3." Many have been chosen already, and, honestly, I depend upon so all of you daily.

I think I'll choose two whose blogs hold a special place for me:

First, Luna at life from here. She was one of the first deadbabymamas I read, and her eloquence and honesty continue to inspire me. My fingers are crossed for her as she takes this next step in her long journey.

Second (but certainly not least), CDE's blog, Once in a Lifetime. Without getting too mushy, he tells our story with sensitivity and (dark) humor, and demonstrates his strength and courage in dealing with this horrendous loss. I'm glad he has found an outlet for creativity and support.

You guys rock. All of you.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Living the Dream

Did you ever have one of those nightmares when you're in danger and want to run but can't move at all? I never have.

But that's what I'm feeling like right now. I just can't move.

I've been wanting to write a post for a couple of days, this idea "dream paralysis" or whatever it's called has been lurking in the back of my mind. And yet I can't seem to move. Even to type, to get the thoughts out. Even as I type, right now, I feel my heart pound a little, my anxiety up.

My body is leaden. Everything is too much work. Schoolwork. Bathing. Finding something of substance to eat. Going to the store. Getting out of bed.

My school was on break this past week, so there was no place I had to be (except for therapy on Tuesday). Friday, C and I went into town for lunch, and went to the mall, the bulls-eye place. Halfway through the mall I could have just gone home. I had wanted to see if I could find a nice ring with the boys' birthstone -- just something simple, as a little memorial to them, but there was really nothing. No one carries much in the way of garnets. Nothing, appropriate, anyway. Maybe I should just get a couple of little bands, or something, with no stone.

So, I think this is probably a good indication that I made the right decision to stay in school this semester, just to have someplace to go. A schedule to follow. A commitment to keep. But I feel like I'm getting so little out of it. this is my doctoral program -- I should be invested in it, I should be up to my eyeballs in work and research, and planning papers and going to conferences. But it's all I can do to show up, let alone really dig into the work.

I'm having trouble caring about it, my field of research. This thing I can't shut up about, normally, I just can't even think about it right now. I know part of this is depression, and grief. But who knows how long it will last? And what if we want to try for more kids? Will I be sick all the time again? Will I wind up on bed rest? Will I even care about this freaking degree?

There's a part of me that just wants to give it up. Just drop the classes I'm taking and give it some time, until I feel better, and more invested in the work. But I can't do that. We can't afford to live on just C's stipend and financial aid. I would have have to work, likely at something mindless. That would just piss me off daily. At least where I am there are people who care about me and whom I care about, people doing good things. Opportunities to use my brain, occasionally.

It just seems to have lost meaning for me, I guess.

This is so depressing. I don't know how to end this on an up-note. I'm so tired of feeling so down all the time. And it's all I can write about. All the time. My writing teacher would say to just keep writing. Get it out so you can get past it. I'm so tired of feeling this way, and the idea of feeling good feels alternately scary (anxiety-provoking) and/or impossible. When I do have a good moment, it feels a little freaky, like suddenly I'm aware that I feel okay, almost normal, and that freaks me out. Like if I feel good for any length of time, I'm going to get smacked down with something else, something bad. Very healthy.


Okay, I'm going to try to get up and find something to eat. Right now there is a small cat curled up against my leg. Another dozing in her perch at the window. The sun is making the sky bright, and in the distance, I think I hear birds. Maybe spring is coming after all.

Friday, March 21, 2008

It's the longing.

I think we had just started trying, or just found out we wouldn't be able to conceive without help. Since I'm Jewish, the holidays are pretty simple, and we usually go to C's family (1000 miles away) for Christmas. C's sisters had brought over the kids for a visit and and one of them, maybe a year and a half said, "Mommy, can I..." I don't remember what he asked for or what he said. This child just looked at his mother and called to her. Thinking about it now, I don't know, it sounds kind of cliche. But... there was something so basic, so primal. And I wanted it. I can't even describe what went through me -- it wasn't thought, it was feeling.

Luna at life from here sent me a copy of one of her posts in response to my last entry, and I think the way she articulates it is exactly right. She talks about trying to enjoy her family, those events that celebrate the young children in her family, enjoying her nieces and nephews and cousins. And that many of those times can be, well, joyful. She connects with these children, enjoys them at least for a little bit. It's just later that the pain sets in. The longing. For the children lost, for what should have been, for the opportunity to be a mother to a living child. Even to participate in the "mommy club."

That's what gets me. I was trying to name the ache in the center of my chest. The one that fills my throat. The quiet sadness I feel after talking to a pregnant woman, or friend. Like my sister. (Quiet? who am I kidding, it's usually audible weeping.) I want so much to enjoy her joy, but it gets eclipsed by my own longing for what she's getting. I'm not saying I don't feel other things, but I think this is the thing I couldn't identify.

Lately I've been feeling it in my arms. The longing, the ache to hold something. Someone. I thought I had escaped that "emp.ty arms" feeling since I'm a couple months out now, but over the last week it's been getting worse. Stronger. I'm feeling like there's something missing, like I need to hold something.


Last night I was thinking of my cat, whom I adopted when I was in college. She lived to almost 15 years and was quite possibly the best cat in the universe. over the last 6 or 8 years of her life, she would snuggle up with me when we went to bed. She seemed to wait for it, the way one of my current kitties waits for wet food. If you have a pet, you know the look. Well, I'd pat the bed and she'd jump up beside me and lay right next to my chest.

With me laying on my side she'd snuggle in on her side, leaving her vast expanse of soft, white belly fur for me to rest my hand on. It's hard to not sleep with a loving, purring cat laying blissfully against you. And so, almost every night, especially in her later years, this is how we'd go to sleep. Me spooning the cat, C spooning me. I was surrounded by love, my arms were full with it.


Last night I was thinking of my cat, wishing I could hold her, after I realized that what I wanted was to hold my children. To smell their heads. To feel their breathing slow and deepen as they drift off to sleep. To have my arms full with them.

I just long for it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I think I have to stop talking to my sister.

I stupidly asked her how she was feeling or what she was eating or something. And she told me, and I don't know what I asked, but she started to gush (verbally, as opposed to what I did) -- about how excited her husband is, and how she's been telling people because it's getting hard to hide it (at 11 wks), and she's got the NT next week which will be her first appointment with the OB, as opposed to the RE.

And you know, I asked for it. I asked her questions. I found myself asking questions and I just couldn't stop myself. I heard myself asking questions. And she sounds so happy. SO happy. I remember that. The cautious optimism. She's eating, and showing, and planning. Cautiously, but less than before. I can hear it in her voice. She's getting excited. I almost said something about how it's good she's told people, because if something goes wrong at this point, she'll need the support. It just sort of popped into my head, but I didn't want to spoil her fun. She knows that anything could happen. Though, the doctor had said, go ahead and tell people, the risks of loss now are pretty low, it's safe. This reassured her husband, especially. Safe. Will we ever feel safe again?

I find myself doubting almost everyone, full of hate. Worrying that the worst will happen, not just to me, but to people I love.

Initially, it wasn't so bad talking about her pregnancy, but it's getting more and more difficult with each milestone. Thinking about our NT scan and how that's when C really started to get excited. She's showing. Exactly two months from today, on or around the boys' due date, she'll be where I was when my water broke. Except she'll be big and glowing with a healthy pregnancy. I'll have nothing to relate to her about, at least in regards to pregnancy. I could just not ask her about it. But how could I not?

One of my very close local friends is about 19 weeks now, I think, with her second. We're supposed to get together at some point this week, but I'm already getting anxious about it because she'll be so clearly pregnant. How am I even going to be able to look at her? After I lost the boys, we talked about things, and she asked if it was going to be hard for me to spend time with her since she was pregnant. I told her that probably when she was showing, we would have to revisit the issue, that that would likely be very difficult for me.

It is, but not in the way that I anticipated. Seeing big round bellies on strangers is hard. Seeing them on people I love... people for whom I wish only happiness? How can I say, "No, I can't see you, I can't talk to you." These women understand. They know that it's a way to protect myself from further... I don't even know. But they wouldn't hold it against me. And I am so lucky in this way. And yet.

It's another loss. And I am further isolated.

How do you deal? How do you face -- or not face -- those who are living the dream you lost? Is that melodramatic? Screw it, I'll be melodramatic. How do you face pregnancy all around you, especially close friends/sisters/sisters-in-law, those relationships you've come to depend upon? I know that some have essentially lost family members who don't understand or can't relate or underestimate the magnitude of the loss we've suffered. How do you manage? How do you deal with the fact that they just don't get it? (How can they not get it? I hate people.)

Any ideas?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


(Once you get me talking, it's hard to shut me up. )

My husband and I met over words. Way back in the stone age of the internet (late 1998), we each signed up with the online personals in a local "alternative" weekly newspaper, sort of accidentally. After work one day (during a loooong dry spell), I was on this paper's website looking through the classifieds for a roommate. Came upon the "personals" service and decided "What the hell? It's anonymous. It's free. Let's see what kind of freaks I get email from." I put together my little profile and let the dating gods do what they would.

C signed up almost in defiance of his friends, as this seemed to be reaching the last resort, to "show them I would never meet anyone."

He sent me an email. He was the third guy to write. It was smart. It was funny. It had potential. I wrote back. He wrote back. Our emails got longer and longer. I remember writing that it was like having a really great conversation, where you have so much you want to share, and so much you want ask. I found myself checking email every morning at work and finding an email from him. After a couple of weeks, we met for coffee (what else?) and talked and talked and talked. One of the things I love best about our relationship is our ability to really communicate.

So we're a wordy couple. This is a long way way of saying that my husband has posted a very long account of our nightmarish adventure on his blog. I've posted links to each of the 5 (yes five) sections, plus conclusion in the sidebar. I haven't checked to make sure each link works appropriately, but will do that when I finish this post. Here's the first installment, if you'd like to read it and haven't already checked out his blog.

Our own Rashomon
I vacillated as to whether I would read his account, and then whether I would link to it. Since that very first email, I've loved his writing. I've been wanting to write my own story and wondered if having this here would interfere with that, either by shaping the way I remember it, or by stopping me from putting it down at all. I think that I will still write my own version, though certainly in a different way, via flashbacks (if you'll pardon the expression) or other snippets which I'll try to piece together.

I know I need to write this story. I want to, but I'm not ready to sift through the details yet. It will come in time. I'm glad to have the space to get there.

No Man is an Island

And neither am I.

In my last post I mentioned that it seems to be time to stop reading the pg/pg after IF blogs, since I'm not one of them anymore, and it's become too painful. One of my commenters kindly said that she hoped I found another place to land in the computer.

To paraphrase my response to her: It seems I have. The support I've gotten from you and the other deadbabymamas has been a lifeline for me. I'd probably write whether or not you all were there, but I am so grateful to be in your company.

I'm sorry to be in the club, but, honestly, I can't tell you how comforting it is knowing that you are there, sharing your own story, contributing to mine. That I'm not alone, and I'm not any crazier than anyone else. So far.

Thank you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Whole Other Life

I just realized that had things not fallen all to hell, I would be six weeks away from delivering. Another blogger I was following who was exactly 6 weeks ahead of me just gave birth. She was a little early, but with twins, I would have probably gone early, too.

Yes. It's time to leave the pg after IF blogs. Time to face facts and quit some of the denial.

I really don't know how I'm going to get through this.

I just don't know

If I were a dog, I'd be doing circles trying to get comfortable, trying to settle, then getting up and circling again.

After my orthopedic appointment today, I went down to a nearby mall to get some stuff for my cats at the vitamin place. Went to for cat food. And spent probably half an hour in Bord.ers. I wanted to get some cds, maybe an easy book to read, since I'm on spring break. I should be correcting papers, doing work, catching up on leftovers from when I was sick from last semester, but let's be realistic, shall we?

I picked three cds, two of which I wore out on cassette in my twenties and a "retrospective" from a band I started listening to in college and still favored 10 years ago. These album strike chords for me that, what? They satisfy my auditory cravings for harmony, for lyrics that...I don't know, make sense in some way. The sounds resonate. Reassure. Guess I'm trying to go back in time. Finding something I know is soothing. Actually, no, it's not that they were particularly soothing, I think it's more that I listened to them when I was finding myself, figuring myself out. Or trying to. These are artists I listened to before I figured out who I was, what I wanted, and how I wanted to live.

Maybe that's what I'm doing now. Trying to figure out who the hell I am now. I keep saying it, here and in my head, I can't believe this is my life now. I know I won't have this heart ripping pain every day. But. I'm materially changed. I was saying to C last night that it feels like my life, the path I was on, has veered off in some direction I never anticipated it would go.

Maybe it will head back in the general direction I had intended: family, friends, career. They all have these big "IFs" attached (no pun intended). If we can have more children -- and if they live. If I can find a way to relate to those I love again. If I can find the excitement I used to get out of my field of research. If I can do my part (if we can both) maintain the amazing relationship my husband and I have built since we met almost 10 years ago.

Everyone says, don't worry, it will suck for a long time, but it will come back. But I won't. The old me is gone. I've read these words written by so many strong women who have struggled to get through similar circumstance. But I don't feel strong. I was just getting my feet under me when the world came crashing down. I don't know if they're ever going to work again. I don't know if I'll ever find me again. It took me so long to get the old me figured out. How will I figure out the new me? What will she be like? I don't even think I want to be her.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

You know what I hate?

(Aside from the obvious, of course.)

Waking up from a nap with my hand resting on my belly, just like when I was pregnant. Somewhere along the way I developed the habit, and I still find myself doing it.

I hate that.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

A Worcester Day

(This turned out to be a LONG, messy, ugly post.)

I went to a smallish university about 50 miles outside of Boston. When I was there it was struggling city, parts were fine and suburban, but my school was located in the heart of the city, or a mile from it, where things were kind of grey and dingy. Main Street South was known for its poverty, homeless population and CU.

It seemed any time my mother came to visit, the weather was crappy. From my first visit my senior year of high school, it would be unseasonably cold, with grey rainy skies and wind. Low light. (The only time the weather was strikingly different was my graduation day, when it was 75 and sunny, a gorgeous day.) In my family, and then with my college friends, we began to refer to days like this as Worcester Days. Just grey, rainy/drizzly, shitty weather. Lo these many years, the expression has maintained, and that's what's bouncing around my head today. It's a Worcester Day here in March in the Midwest.

It occurs to me too, that a family joke was that my mother brought the rain and lousy weather. Frequently when she visited anyone, the weather was unseasonable and usually rainy. On my wedding day, a little more than a year after she died, there were torrential downpours. It's a nice fiction.

I'm out of sorts today. More than usual. Or, again. While I usually enjoy my husband's writing, his telling of our story is stirring up all the feelings from that time. Things I hadn't thought about, or hadn't in a while. Perhaps I need to get out some of the difficult stuff. This is going to be long and messy.

**This first part may be disturbing/graphic, discussing physical -- might want to skip down a bit ** I may take this part out.

This week, I broke down and looked at the pictures of my boys. By myself. Hadn't seen anything with their image since we left the hospital. Jacob looked about as I remembered him, like a very little baby, but with reddish skin. In these photos, they posed him, and I was aware of things being placed strategically, over an ear, over a hand. The shape of his head looked odd. Joshua looked horrible. There, I said it. His head, his face and his body were distorted with the effects of death and the other d word I can't bring myself to use. My sweet baby barely looked like a baby. But they took a picture, and a picture of the boys together. It ripped my guts out, and I could only look for a moment.

***End description***

(PLEASE, I am not interested in debate: You have your feelings, I have mine. Let's just respect each others' differences and let it go at that. None of this is easy for me to say.)

I have very mixed feelings about pictures of my children, dead. Holding them, dead. As a Jew (very, very, very reform, more cultural than religious) I don't really believe in an afterlife, as much as I would like to. I would like to picture my mother tending my boys in heaven, finally getting her grandchildren. It's a comforting image, that they're not just gone. Just gone. All these people I love. But I don't believe in that. I always considered myself an agn.ostic, just not too sure about any greater power. After the last 7 or 8 years, I have grown far more skeptical -- any god I would want to believe in would be loving and compassionate; lessons would not have to be learned this way, or any of the ways i have been forced to learn them, and would not subject those I love to the suffering I have seen.

What I'm trying to get to is that it is -- and was -- hard for me to believe that there was anything left of my boys' spirits or souls (or whatever you believe in) once they died. I would so love to think that they were hovering over me sending their love as they left this earthly plane. That they waited to say good bye me, for me to say good bye. Somehow it would be so much more comforting to think that inside those poor sweet little bodies was anything left of my sons. Anything I could hold onto for just a little while longer.

When I gave birth to my sons, at those moments, I was too drugged or out of it to be a mother to them. Or to remember being a mother to them. And that kills me. Makes me wish I could be with them now, to make up for it somehow. The day after then night they were still born, I slept a lot, met with social workers and medical staff, got a transfusion. C had already said that he did not think he wanted to see them. He wanted to remember them as he always thought of them, and with the joy he had felt while they were alive in me. I had decided that I would want to spend some time with them before we left, to say good bye. To see them and hold them. But as the time drew nearer, I knew I couldn't do it. The idea that they would be cold and still. That I could be holding their bodies, but not THEM. I broke down when I decided I couldn't see them. I just couldn't hold them knowing there was no life in them. That they were already gone. A held me while I bawled my eyes out.

I often regret not holding them, seeing them during that time. My only chance to hold and touch my children. Ever. Even if they were dead.

But. I look at these pictures. I think about how I was barely functioning in the hospital, and after. And since. I really believe that if I had gone to see and hold them that day I would have completely lost my mind. Hysterical. Kneeling in the corner, rocking back and forth.

I'm not proud of that fact. It makes me feel week and neurotic and compounds the "bad mother" voices in my head. (And I am not looking for reassurances here, just trying to be honest.) I read so many stories of women fully conscious for the stillbirth of their children, how they held them, and bathed them, and dressed them, and I look at them with awe, envy their presences of mind and their strength. I envy them those few moments they got to spend with their children.


I don't go very often to visit the gravestone of my mother, it's not comforting to me -- I don't feel close to her there. My dad and brother go relatively often, on her birthday, my parents' wedding anniversary, the anniversary of her death. I've talked with my sister, and she has also said she doesn't care to go to the cemetery because that's not her there. Like me, she feels that the spirit of her life, and the things and people she touched are not in that box in the ground.

We had the boys cremated. There are times when I wished that we hadn't, so there would be something substantive left of them. Even if it's just a box in the ground. We haven't memorialized them yet, but I would like to get some sort of stone, some sort of marker put somewhere for people to see. Something permanent that says that these boys existed, they lived, if for a short time, and they were loved.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ten weeks

There I go with dates again.

It was 10 weeks ago I went into the hospital to deliver the boys. We left here at the crack of dawn, but I didn't deliver until just before and just after midnight. Last of the placenta was dragged out of me around 4am, I think. The longest, worst 24 hours of my life.

I realized last week that I passed the dates (the 3rd & 4th) of the month they were born and died, but I always remember the weeks. Every Thursday/Thursday night I think back. Maybe I'm still in the habit from pregnancy, when I counted the weeks.

It occurs to me that my sister is 10 weeks (and a few days) along now. Her cycle started just before ours ended. I don't know what to think about that. Or perhaps there is nothing to think. It is what it is.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

30 weeks, 4 days

That's how far I'd be if I were still pregnant. I know I should stop counting. Can't seem to let it go, even though it hurts. The bloggers who got pg when I was pregnant, and then after, are getting to the point (and beyond) where I was when I lost my sons. I had occasionally been going to their sites, but I don't think I can do that anymore. My local friend who's pregnant is 18 weeks and change. (At 18 weeks, I had just a little bit of spotting, my first in the pregnancy -- not to worry said the doctor). I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to see her, talk with her.

I'm kind of a freak when it comes to dates and anniversaries. I remember the first everything. If not the date, then the season, the time of day, the weather. I remember everything.

Except that night. I remember my sister sitting in one of the two chairs in my L&D room making me laugh to distract me, overstaying the 10 minutes at a time rule I instituted because (aside from the hospital rules) my room was too small to hold everyone. I remember my brother and brother in law taking up the chairs, awkward. I remember the huge cart the young, cute (and apparently new) anesthesiology resident wheeled in, after moving furniture around and then out. I remember the pain of the needle or catheter or whatever it was hitting the nerve in my back. I remember the nurse, Bob, who held me in the right position, and how nice he was, how nice it was to just lean against someone.

I remember seeing my belly change shape with contractions that I couldn't really feel. I remember pain grabbing me so hard around my hips, I was clinging to the handrail, and the doctor -- or someone -- said you're 8 cm, it's time to push. It's time to push. And I cried, I don't know how, I can't do it. But I did it.

I remember my husband holding my hand with red rimmed, worried eyes, with tears. I remember the doctor trying to tear the remains of placenta from inside me. I was out of my mind, asking for tylenol, please something. In a haze, I remember them saying, don't you want morphine? Give her 3 of morphine. And more pain -- so much pain. I screamed. I actually screamed and the doctor said Make it 5.

I remember getting a sponge bath and sheets changed under me at 4am, or 6 am or some ungodly hour. I remember falling in and out of sleep, smiling, thinking "Oh, I had my babies!" Then, "Oh, but they're gone."

One of these days I'll connect the pieces and write something coherent. There's so much more, but I can't really see the screen anymore.

Zig zag

I'm kind of all over the place today. Here are a few things I'm thinking about.

My husband just told me he has started a blog. He also takes refuge in writing and creative things. But he laments the lack of the masculine perspective, the men who have lost children and grieve. He has no community in this part of his life as he begins to really feel the intensity of the loss. I don't know what to tell him. He only has one post up, but I think it eloquently begins to describe his experience of this horrendous chapter in our lives. Not that I'm biased or anything, but I was touched by is first entry.


I hate those days when you walk around with your eyes puffy or still red from a mid-night crying jag, and you catch people looking at you with concern and/or pity.

I am struggling with the idea of writing about what happened. Where do I start? The day I spent in Labor and Delivery? Christmas day, when the crisis began? The first time I spotted in pregnancy? The first very positive hpt?

The other night I had what was not quite a flashback. I found myself in the same posture I held the day I labored with the boys, reclining, but not quite. My right arm raised so that my right hand was behind my head, propping it up. Visions or memories of being in that hospital bed. There was a lot of waiting that day. Spent a lot of time like that head up, legs mostly numb and splayed. I'm starting to ovulate now, for the second time since delivering, so there are all kinds of twinges and sensations. I felt like I wanted to... well, like pushing, or not pushing, clenching. I don't know. Closing my legs, trying to feel control. Feel something besides the loss and emptiness. I don't have a lot of memory from that night, when things really got started. Don't know if it was from the drugs or my brain taking pity on my psyche. Or a little of both. This flashback of sorts preceded the 2am sobbing.

I'm kind of afraid of writing all of it down. I don't know if that's because I'm afraid of reliving it, remembering things I don't want to remember, realizing there is so much I don't remember or won't because my brain is trying to protect me. But I don't want to forget the scraps of memory I do have. Perhaps I need to sit quietly with it a little longer before I write.

Of course, last night when I was busy not being able to sleep, I looked up info on online. I don't think I have it, but I certainly feel traumatized (as we all do, I'm sure) -- a few symptoms of it are certainly there. There is one word that kept popping up in describing the conditions of the traumatic event involved a feeling of intense fear and/or horror. It must be from the DSM, because all the sites I found used that word; it was hard tho, for me to put my finger on it: what does horror mean? We all just know, I guess. I looked it up in dictionaries, to see if I could find something concrete. Not much luck. It's such an evocative word, though. Perfect.


I didn't get to spend time with the boys after they were born, for a number of reasons I intend to write about. The hospital has sent an envelope of pictures they took -- not just the first pictures from our little "memento" package. They are sitting in the mailer downstairs in the living room because I'm afraid to look at them alone, my husband is not ready to see them yet. I have a dear friend who has offered to be there, be my support when I look at them, but she is about 18 weeks pregnant (with their second) and I don't know if I want to do that to her. I have a therapist and a grief counselor, but no one seems quite right. I vacillate about wanting to see them now at all (taking comfort in the fact that they exist and we have them) and sometimes I'm tempted to just rip open the envelope and let the pain festival begin. Rip. There's a word for you. Just got the image of a wound, like a c-section scar being ripped open. Or ripping my guts out. Or my heart. Of course.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who Needs Sleep?*

Not me. I'll just sit up and cry, thanks. I really LOVE when it just sneaks up on me. LOVE that. Don't remember the last time I was sleeping before midnight. 1AM, even.


I've been doing a lot of comparing lately. My oldest and dearest friend's husband has co.ngestive heart failure and may need a transplant. He's 35. They have two kids, 3 and 1. Two other bloggers who got pg the same week I did had two very different results -- one is still healthy and pg, the other (pg with twins) has lost one twin and the other is fighting for her life in a NICU. Another friend lost her dad on Christmas Day. My pg is over, my babies gone. And I sit here crying.

Why do I compare? Do I want someone to validate my pain? Is there some sort of checklist? A contest I want to win? What is it, the "pain olympics"? (where did I hear that? I got that from some movie or tv show or something. That's what 2 ati.van at 2AM will do for you.) Everyone has pain. I did the best I could. Now I do the best I can. It's not very good though. Didn't do enough for my boys.

I think the A is finally taking effect. Starting to feel a little loopy and sleepy, even. Glad I didn't take a third one.

*Name that band.


Just wanted to thank you for your support of my kvetching. You are right, this is a place to let all this stuff out and lord knows I've filled tons of notebooks with whining. Now that I have something to complain about, I might as well go for it. I would like this to be more thoughtful than whiny (almost typed "whyme" hah) and it's very easy for me to wallow in general if I'm not careful. I know I have a lot of stuff to work out, and it's not going to be pretty. I appreciate the company.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Enough already

I'm tired of hearing myself whine. Guess I'm doing a lot of feeling sorry for myself lately.

I will try to cut back. I'll write what comes, but edit with a scythe. A thoughtful scythe.

Thanks for your patience.

Magical Thinking and Parallel Lives

(This may wind up being two posts, but I wanted to get some ideas down.)


Often in the land of infertility...No, let me start again.

I can only speak for myself. While I know *rationally* that there is no zero-sum game (gain?) in baby making and childbearing, as an infertile woman, sometimes it feels like it. For me. When I hear that someone else is pregnant (or pregnant again), for some reason, it feels like "well, there goes my chance" along with "why couldn't it be me this time?" Like there are only so many pregnancies that can exist, so many live babies born at any given time, so if someone wins (BFP!) then someone else has to lose (BFN). I know (hope) that this is not the case, but I think the feeling is, for me, what leads to so much envy and resentment towards fertile women. Even as I write this, I think, Jeezus! Way to be neurotic.

When I got pregnant, I slowly shifted from reading infertility blogs to reading blogs of infertile women who succeeded in becoming pregnant and/or parenting living children. When I lost the boys, obviously, the pregnant/parenting blogs were too painful to read, so I went back to some of the infertility blogs I had been following. But a number of them had gotten pregnant in December and January, as I was losing my babies, they were discovering that they were pregnant. (Of *course* they were.) I just came across another yesterday who got her bfp 2 days after my water broke. There were maybe 3 or 4 of them at once, so obviously, my zero-sum thing doesn't work out, but god, those first few really felt like it.

And then my sister, with her twins. And my husband's adviser at school announced her pregnancy -- she's about a month or 6 weeks behind where we were. So I guess the zero-sum doesn't work, but my sick paranoid brain feels like it does. I know, there are pregnant women everywhere, and because I'm not anymore they seem more obvious.

And of the 4 women in my department who were pregnant, I was the one who lost my babies. How is it that I seem to beat the odds? Twins. All of our IF diagnoses. Recurrent losses. Spontaneous rupture of membranes and fetal demise. Loss of both twins after heartbeat, after normal amnio, but before viability. (Not to mention being left-handed, blue in a red state, a woman in a phd program, and losing my mom to a cancer so rare that Sl.oan Ke.ttering sees only 50 cases a year).

Waah, waah waah.

Okay, now I'm just whining. I'm sorry. I just feel like I keep falling on the wrong side of all of these statistics. Oh, and I slipped on the ice 2 weeks ago on my way to go teach my class (Mine was the only school open in the universe on this day) and broke a bone in my elbow.

One of my classmates jokes that I should go buy a lottery ticket, because my luck has to change at some point soon. Maybe he's right. I could probably win. Just look at the odds.

Do you ever feel like the deck is stacked against you? Or is it just the randomness of the universe? How do you deal when it feels like you have a great big bullseye on your head?


I'm a freak.

I just realized why today's date kept sticking out in my mind.

Two years ago today I got my first positive beta. My first chemical pregnancy. Goddammit.

Can't Sleep

Daylight savings time is screwing with me. Yeah, that's it. I have a bed full of cats (2) and one deeply sleeping, deeply breathing husband, and i am sitting here with my chest aching from anxiety, despite the at.ivan and zol.oft. I can feel the tears behind my eyes, pushing. Making them wet.

My husband moves in his sleep and the cats readjust -- one against his legs, the other against mine. I didn't want to take a sleeping pill tonight because I have to be up at a decent hour to get ready for school. If I don't get up with my husband, I'll be in bed until noon. I'm not proud of this fact. The flexibility of my schedule has it's pluses and negatives.

Husband starts to snore, but my hand on his back soothes him, quiets his breathing. I wonder if I would be able to do this with my child, should I ever actually have one who lives outside of me. If I would have been able to do this for Jacob, or for Joshua. If I would have beenable to soothe them.

And here come the tears.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Self Indulgence

During our first year of marriage, my husband and I discovered "Buffy," the, uh, killer of pale undead creatures who bite people's necks and make them undead. Flipping channels, I came across one of the episodes in which B's mother dies or has died. Seeing as it was barely a year and a half since my own had died, I was of course pulled in as to a traffic accident. I was touched, though by the sensitivity and "realness" of the characters' reactions, and I could relate somehow. In time, it became an evening ritual for my husband and me to watch BTVS, as one of the local stations was playing 2 episodes in a row each day, an new sort of guilty pleasure. Pretty well-written characters, enough of a metaphor to "real" high school life that I could suspend my sci-fi/fantasy disbelief. We became fans.

Years later, when we got one of those digital satellite tv recording doo-hickeys, we set times to record episodes we didn't have on dvd, particularly, the Musical episode, One of our favorites from that season, if not the whole series. When our recordings filled up, we wound up deleting most of the episodes, but saved OMWF.

After we lost the boys, I couldn't even watch TV, it all seemed so...pointless. I couldn't care about other people's pain, and their happiness just felt like salt in the wound. But somehow I could watch that episode. Songs like "going thr.ough the mot.ions" and "give me so.mething to about" ran through my head, endlessly.

For those that don't know the show, Buffy at the end of the previous season was killed, but brought back by her friends who practice witc.hcraft. See what I mean about suspending disbelief? Anyway, she has a hard time making the adjustment back to the living, as she believes herself to have been pulled out of heaven ("there was no pain, no doubt").

Now that I write about this, it all seems pretty trite and and neat, and the metaphors abound.


I have so much to be grateful for. Despite the horror of the process of losing Jacob and Joshua (which I do want to write about, but don't have the courage yet), I know that in many ways, I am very lucky:

>My family, overall, has been extremely supportive and sensitive. They were there when I needed them (with one exception, also to be detailed later) at a moments' notice and went above and beyond the call of duty. Despite some clumsiness, I know that they love me, and ache for my pain, and would do whatever they could to ease it.

>My friends, especially my oldest and dearest, and extended family have been there with phone calls, emails, cards, even while going through their own losses and turmoil. Expecting nothing from us.

>The first days I went back to school, the first meetings, the first classes, I was greeted with hugs and "I'm so sorry." It was literally weeks before I got the really inappropriate comments, and really, there were only a few. And there have been a number of awkward moments, people who maybe sent email condolences, but haven't said anything in person. I don't blame them, though it is awkward.

>I have a great relationship with my husband. It has not been easy, and we definitely have different ways of grieving, but overall, we have been able to communicate well. Generally supportive of each other, though I will admit to getting the better end of the deal. He deals by being kind of busy, taking care of me, and I deal by sitting in bed with the covers over my head. He's able to tell me what he needs though, and I try to give him that, and space.

>Grief support in the form of personal therapists, and the grief counselor at the local hospital (where I was treated but didn't deliver the boys). Online support from the deadbabyverse.

>Meds to help me sleep. and not feel quite so anxious.


I know it's a lot. Somehow, it doesn't seem enough. It doesn't stop me from feeling like everything is shit. And I look at this list and I think, oh, come on. Wahh, wahh. I am so lucky in many ways. I know that. There are so many people who endure what I've endured without what I've got.

So when I think to myself, "Give me something to sing about..." I just want to tell myself to get over it. And then I start to cry and think about my boys. And the life we're not going to lead together. And I think about my husband, and how stoic he tries to be, but how much I can see him hurting. And then when he can actually tell me how he's feeling, it rips me apart. And I feel like I did this to him. Maybe it's not rational, but I do, I feel responsible.

So when my shrink, or the grief counselor tells me I'm doing just fine, I think "Lady, you have no idea."

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Broken Record

I hate this.
It's all bad.
This is so stupid.
I can't believe this is my life.
My babies are dead.
I want them back.

I have nothing else to say.

Friday, March 7, 2008

One step forward, two steps back

My babies are dead.

I can't stop thinking about this today. It's been a bad couple of days. Anxiety and sadness. I realized today that I seem to have passed that horrible raw, bone-sticking-out-of-flesh, pain and weeping stage. Somehow I'm able to contain it enough to put clothes on and go out in public. Function enough to get by. Pretend I'm okay and sort of believe it. A lot fewer episodes of audible sobbing in the shower. The wracking sobs come much less frequently -- in or out of the shower. Of course bathing is, I'm sorry to say, still a challenge. It's gross. Well, it's not good. There's something about being alone in the shower. Or maybe it's just being alone. When I was pregnant, my skin was so sensitive I had to be strategic, cover my chest from the pelting stream of the water.

And it was just me and the babies. my growing belly. I'm really alone in the shower.

It's so stupid. I hate this.

My sister came out to my family about her pregnancy this week. Even though I've known for some time, we told my father, brother and grandmother that she emailed me and then we talked this week. I'm not sure why she didn't want them to know I knew, but it's a common dynamic in my family. Managing information: who knows what when.

So A told everyone to give me some space to deal with this a little bit. No one did. Within 24 hours of her sharing the news, I had heard from my dad (message on my cell), my brother (IM) and my grandmother, calling on the house phone. Thank god for caller id.

I love my grandmother, and have a nice relationship with her, but she calls me All.The.Time. After my mom died (her daughter) and after my grandfather died she began calling me more and more often. Like every single night. With not much to say. She's 90 now, and it's the same stories, same complaints. She takes a ton of medications, but generally she's healthy and has her mind. But she comes from that generation where nobody talks about things. Especially things like "what happened" to me. After we told her about 'what happened" with the boys, my dad told her to give me some space, but she continued to call me almost every day. And whether it's poor memory or determination, she will call several times a night. In short succession. Usually when I'm weepy or trying to eat something.

So the point of this is that that I sort of expected that it would be hard for her not to call to check on me, that she wouldn't be able to give me any space with this news. And so despite her propensity for not talking about things, she did indeed call to "make sure I was okay." Which is what she's been doing. I usually tell her I'm fine, or I'm sad but I'll be okay, mostly because she really wouldn't know what to say to try to make me feel better. And she worries. So I do the taking care of her and tell her I'm fine. This week she called, and I figured I'd just get it over with. So she had to tell me that "what happened to me" has happened to lots of other women. I was short with her, "I know." "It's okay, Grandma, I know I"m not the only one." And that was basically it. She said for the thousandth time that she just wants to know I'm okay. Well, Grandma, you know, I was dealing okay until I talked to you.

Both my sister and my dad try to convince her that I don't want to talk on the phone, that I'm okay, and give me a little space. but it's like her vice-grip on my hand when we would cross the street when I was 16. She needs to make sure.

Just like my dad, who I finally called back. After a few rounds of small talk and some awkward silences (not uncommon with my dad on the phone, but these were (if you'll excuse the phrase) pregnant pauses (oh, the irony). We both knew why he was calling, but he wouldn't say it. So I did.

Me: Did you talk to A?
Dad: Yes.
Dad: ....
Me: I talked to her, too.
Dad: You talked to her?
Me: Yeah, she emailed me and then we talked about it.
Dad: ....
Dad: ...
Me: I'm okay. I'll be fine. You don't have to worry. Not too much anyway.

And so on. He said something about me being a strong or courageous woman, and I said Yeah, you can tell because I'm crying all the time. (I'm the crier in my family anyway, and the SW in group therapy when my mom was dying asserted that crying or other similar shows of emotion were actually displays of strength -- I was always thought to be fragile and weak.) We acknowledged our little family learning/joke and I think I moved the conversation along to talk about how she probably wouldn't be at the wedding, had he talked to P (my brother) about it yet.

So my brother finds me on line, and all he can seem to say is "hey" or "what's up" or other crap small talk, and then disappear after a few lines.

They call to check on me to make sure I'm okay, then make me do all the work to reassure them that I'm okay when I have no idea how I am. Do I have to tell them I'm okay? They know I'm not. At least my dad does. But they need to hear me say it. Cogent and not a weeping ball of mess. Not sure why I need to give them that.

A agrees me with me that it was a good thing I knew a month ago. If they had tried to check in on me right after I found out, it would have been bad. It took me a week to recover from hearing about the pregnancy, probably two weeks after I found out it was twins to stop weeping and eyeing a handful of amb.ien like it was milk and cookies. Actually I did talk to my dad shortly after I found out, either about her pg or about her twins, and I was a huge mess, but didn't tell him why.

I'm just starting to feel non-functional again. I had iced tea and crackers with cream cheese for dinner. Just couldn't make it down the stairs, reheating food seemed like too much work.

I guess A " out" was harder for me than I anticipated. Makes it more real. Makes my boys more gone.

Did you get the memo?

Over the last week or two, I've run into a few people at school who didn't know what happened. People I thought would have been included on the emails that went around, or would have been in on the gossip/small talk about me. Or even on the logistics we had to deal with at the beginning of the semester (since I was no longer pregnant, I no longer needed a co-teacher in case of bed rest, so my co-teacher could go take over for the other pregnant lady who did need to go on bed rest. I'd be okay to teach on my own, right? We'll support you, it will be okay, right?).

So over the last couple of weeks, I've run into people who have mentioned the babies, my babies, like they were still inside me. And I say with disbelief, "My babies? They're gone. My babies are gone -- you didn't get the email? No one told you?" In one case, i could change the subject quickly, in another, I gave her the cliff note's version. Maybe it's the surprise, I don't know, but somehow I get through telling them like I'm fine. Even in the short-term aftermath, I'm fine. It's just in my car or at home in my bed that the tears come hard. The punch in the gut.

I assumed there would be a little bit of gossip, but not as much as I thought, I guess. Of course, there are a lot of men in the department -- maybe they just don't talk about stuff like that, not at school, anyway. Or maybe I got "lucky" to associate with people who don't gossip much. Strangely respectful.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Why do I do this to myself?

I'm flipping channels between some stupid cop show and the new show, Me on some health channel. The doctors, three women, were just talking about how hard it is to deliver the news that a patient is losing her baby and getting teary about it. Where were these doctors when i was losing mine? It was the nurses who were really sensitive, not really the doctors. Is it wrong for me to be mad that they're showing how hard it is for the doctors to give this news? What about the patients? What about showing them with the patients maybe supporting them? Not very good tv, I would think.

They have some woman having a c-section because of pre.eclampsia, saying her baby is very premature, would be very tiny at 32 weeks. Ha. No, I know this is very premature and that many babies born at that point don't make it. I do. I just think about how the neonatologist at the hospital told me we would be in good shape if I could get to 28 weeks, that is, if Jacob's lungs would develop in almost no fluid and he wasn't very physically handicapped from having no room/fluid to practice moving in.

I know how hard it is to have a pregnancy loss -- I've had them both very early and halfway through. I don't know how hard it is to lose a baby at 8 or 10 or 12 weeks. I don't know what it's like to have a baby in the nicu because the baby is 4 or 8 weeks premature. (One of my nieces was 4 weeks early because my SIL was developing pre-e. and though they were far away, it was clearly very difficult, very scary. They are both okay now.) Is it horrible that event hough I know it's so painful for them, that I think, "oh please, that's not so bad"? "At least your baby is mostly healthy and alive"? There are other horrible things I can't even articulate. God, I'm a terrible person.

Got home about an hour ago from two hours with my husband and the grief counselor, J, at the local hospital for "support group," which wound up being just the three of us. She is wonderful, and tells us we're doing great for where we are. Very nice to hear, but I don't know if I entirely believe it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Day 2, or another long, rambling, whiny post

Got my first period since August yesterday. Almost 6 weeks after the d&.c to remove infection and retained placenta from delivery two and a half weeks earlier. I wasn't as upset as I thought I would be, nor as relieved (makes Ash.erman's less likely). Just my body, moving on. The sensations are confusing, reminiscent of all that happened in the wake of delivery, and the ensuing infection, recovery from the d&.c. Mild cramps from early pregnancy. I can tell now I'm going to have a lot of body issues, at least for the near future.

Had another great phone call last night with my sister who I'll call A. When we were kids, my parents jokingly called us daughter #1 and #2. Since she's older, A, of course was #1. Can you tell this whole thing is bringing up a ton of old family and emotional dynamics for me? Stuff I thought I was done with, that we had worked out, together and individually. (Thank you, therapy.) When I was pg, it felt like that stuff was out the window, since not only was I successfully pg first, carrying our parents' first grandchild, but I was carrying twins. Ha. Universe slapped me down for that one. Of course, we lead very different lives and so trying to compare doesn't really work anymore. Except.

So I did give my father his first grandchildren. And his first dead grandchildren. It killed me to see him cry. To tell the grief counselor these were his only grandchildren. Because it wasn't enough for him to lose his wife to some rare vicious cancer, and have his daughters struggle for years to have their own families. He was SO excited. His girlfriend would tell me, "he's over the moon." He came to visit the week before, and was absolutely silly with joy. He got to hear their heartbeats. At least there he got that. And now, he'll get his living grandchildren.

Except. That pure joy will be gone for him, just as it will be for my sister. She is amazing in her ability to consciously focus on enjoying every day that she's pregnant. It took her 5 years to get here, and she knows, really knows (as she said), that anything can happen. But, as she said last night, assuming today's ultrasound goes well, when she tells our dad, his first thoughts will be of me. And that's not right. A is philosophical, since so many things have not gone as they should, and I appreciate that. But I hate that I'm a reminder, another case of things not going as they should. Taking away from that naive joy. (I don't believe that I've ruined anything, I know I haven't. It's more like...the bummer factor. A negative reality check.)

And there are all these events and milestones to navigate. The family party for my Dad in April, which I will not attend. The bridal shower for my brother's fiance at the end of May (don't want to go anyway, don't like her). The wedding in July, which A will likely not attend due to her condition. Will there be a family baby shower for her? Right now I think attending that would probably destroy me. And she would never expect me to attend if it would be too painful. She understands. As much as she can, she understands.

Except. I want to go. I want to enjoy her good fortune and the prospect of being an aunt to my sister's children. I want to go to all these parties and enjoy our new relationship, sisters the way sisters should be. Finally. I want to talk on the phone with her about how she's feeling, how things are progressing. I want to share in it the way I should be able to. But as good as our conversations are, and as healthy as we are in talking about the challenges we face, it still takes me a day or two to recover from these phone calls.

Because my babies are dead. I was part of the club for a while. The mommy club. The mommy to be club. And now I'm not. I got thrown out. I am the small dirty child with my nose pressed to the window saying, "Please, please, let me back in."

I'm a member of a new club that no one talks about. That no one congratulates you for joining. There is comfort to know that there is a community, a club of supportive, intelligent, surviving women who are getting through this together. Perhaps I am a fledgling member. I am not as strong as the other members. I see how smart and good and giving these members are, how they certainly deserve memberships in better, happier clubs.

I don't know how to do this. As I tell people when then ask me how I'm doing, every day is different. Today is one of those days I wonder how I'm going to get through this. How I'm going to live with out my boys. One of those days the tears will not come quietly, but with cries from deep inside.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

This was one of my mother's favorite lines. Before she died almost seven years ago she told me she'd be sitting on my shoulder, watching, I guess, making sure I was behaving myself.

I really wanted to write something for the February 29 day of remembering "the almost" but I went the whole day without writing a word. I really meant to do it, but I couldn't even open a journal. Maybe it's still too raw, too new. I'm still surprised when I suddenly fall apart, especially in public. On Thursday & Friday, it was 8 weeks since I delivered the boys around midnight, January 3 and 4. Most of that night is a blur. At some point I'll write down what I do remember, so I don't lose it altogether. They deserve better. Better than that, maybe better than me. Okay, I know I "did the best I could," but it doesn't really feel like that.

On Friday, I reached the peri to talk about the pathology report on the placentas. Nothing terribly out of the ordinary, he said. There were a couple of things related to my pre-existing IF-related issues, but no inflammation, no sign of infection. Nothing that suggested a reason for both waters to break, other than my age and carrying multiples. He said there was a 12% chance of this happening again.

When I asked about the future, if/when... before I could even get the words out, he said, "No twins." I should not even try to carry twins. Why is this so upsetting? I should be happy to get pregnant with a healthy baby carried to term and born alive, born to outlive me. Maybe it's because I was so excited about having two. I felt special, not only to be pregnant, but twins. Once I got over the fear -- did I even feel the fear? maybe it was just panic about how can we afford this, how will we manage this logistically -- it was so exciting and, well, we would have our family.

I was sick the entire pregnancy (nauseous, dehydrated, underfed, never gained any weight) and after all our troubles conceiving, we wouldn't have to worry about trying again. We would have our family. Two little boys with blue eyes and... well, I don't even know. It hurts to try to imagine.

When I called my dad after my water broke and we knew Joshua was gone, he rallied the troops and he and my sister flew out from opposite coasts that night to be with us. My brother came a few days later. He stayed for almost a week, and my sister and father were here for two and a half weeks, I think. I was not close with my sister until after my mother died. In the years that followed, we grew closer, and wound up bonding over our struggles with infertility.

While here my sister (along with my dad) did a lot to take care of me, both practically and emotionally. She cleaned our kitchen, bought us groceries, cooked and froze away food for us so we could reheat instead of cook. After she flew back home, my sister called me every couple of days to check in on me.

At the end of January, when my head had cleared a little, I remembered she had an FET scheduled for when she got back. I sent her an email (silly me!) and asked her how it went. In a very sensitively written email, she told me that she did have the FET and was, indeed, pregnant. Strong, doubling beta, waiting on the ultrasound. What was I thinking? She gave me lots of space to recover from the news (almost typed noose) and we were even able to talk a little about it. the horrible timing. She had tried for years, even before I had started trying. The irony was disgusting.

While I was pregnant, I tried to be sensitive to her pain, because as happy she had been for me, she was so sad about her own situation. Now the roles are reversed. It's so infuriating -- I have been wishing for her to be be pg for years, and now it happens? And why couldn't we be pregnant together? Something to share and grow closer with, instead of something painful to get in the way? She's letting me take the lead in dealing with this. We've been able to talk about it, and about being pregnant; and it's actually okay while we're talking. It's just after I hang up that I feel it. She is SO happy -- not counting chickens, not gloating, just trying to enjoy it while she can -- and she's where I want to be. After we hang up, I remember all things I'm not feeling anymore, what I'm missing and how close I was to having it. A month away. Six weeks. And it's all, just...gone. All I have left is ashes. The blankets they were wrapped in. A few pictures and two death certificates. Empty belly. Empty arms. It's all so fucking cliche. I can't stand it.

Icing on the cake? Her ultrasound showed two heartbeats. Twins. She's going to have a family and I'm back to the fucking drawing board.

This turned out way longer than I intended. She'll be 9 weeks tomorrow, I think. Has her 3rd ultrasound on Monday. If all goes well, they're going to tell my dad and brother. A few weeks later, probably the rest of the family. They will all be kind and sensitive and seeing as I live almost a thousand miles from my nearest relatives (all of whom knew about my twins), distance will help. There's going to be a surprise party for my dad in April, though I have already begged off. My brother is getting married in July. My sister won't be there, as she'll likely be 6 or 7 months pregnant with twins and won't be allowed to travel. But I'll be there. Thinking of her, no doubt.

A whole new circle of hell. Great.