Sunday, December 28, 2008

On birth announcements and anger

I'm going to piss someone off here, I am sure. But, it's my space so here is where I get to dump my maybe petty, maybe serious, gripes with 'issues' that I am otherwise compelled to keep quiet about.

So here goes.
As surprising as this may seem, we actually kept my pregnancy with Cason fairly quiet. We didn't tell anyone who wouldn't actually see me during the nine or so months I was carrying him. The exception was some family, of course, and my one good girlfriend up in San Francisco. The reasons are obvious. It just needed to be us. I didn't want the cheerleaders or the questions. I couldn't deal with either or the inevitable,"Oh, everything will be fine." reassurances that were sure to follow if I actually shared my running fears with anyone who dared ask me how I was doing or how the pregnancy was going. It was hard enough dealing with it with the people who did know and did see me everyday, I didn't want to invite anyone else into the bubble.
Even my husband kept the secret from his colleagues at work until I was past the point where we lost Caleb and even then he only shared the information with a few close confidants. I think we all understand the anxiety that was so tightly wrapped around the disclosing of this little tidbit of information. And the obvious unwillingness to not have to untell this story should everything go wrong again.
Fast forward the nine months and the safe arrival of our beautiful boy. Now came the time to actually do the telling. The birth announcement. So much to be told in one simple piece of card stock. I wanted the whole story of Cason to be there, not just his vital stats. This was not an ordinary pregnancy and Cason is more than just another social security statistic. He is the 'happy ending', right? He is the punctuation of a story that has been unfolding for two some years. He is the ending of one book and the beginning of a sequel, but his birth was the overlapping of the two stories and it needed, for me, to be told just like that. I needed both my boys to have a part in the telling. They both needed to be there in the announcement because they were both a part of the story. I couldn't leave Caleb out. He was/is too important a piece of Cason's life to ignore him.
Turns out they really don't make birth announcements for babies born after a stillbirth. They don't have a generic, fill in the blanks for that. There isn't any sample wording or examples of others to choose from. I had to come up with it on my own. My husband and I talked about the wording, how to fit all of the details into a few small words. How to pay tribute to Caleb and also celebrate Cason. I took to heart the symbols that I have come to know that represent loss and babies after. And when it was all said and done I found the right words, after about a hundred different variations were eliminated, and I found a wonderful printer who was able to create the perfect piece for us.

Here it is:
I love it. I covered up our names, but they are the last two lines on the left side. I'm not sure, before I post it if you will be able to read the print. If not, it reads,

After the storm
came our rainbow...
Cason Patrick
November 17, 2008
seven pounds, twelve ounces
twenty inches

(Left corner)
Welcomed with love
and open arms by
(our names)
(our names)

(Right Corner)
Always loved~Never forgotten
Caleb Robert
Born Still
September 1, 2007

Now comes the part where I piss people off, maybe.

Several things have happened since the announcements went out. First, alot of surprised people have reached out to us to help welcome Cason. Lots of gifts have been delivered, cards mailed, the usual baby things, for which I am grateful, don't get me wrong. Second, besides my immediate family and my one girlfriend in SF, NO ONE has mentioned Caleb or his inclusion on the card at all.

What's worse, I have received cards congratulating us on our 'third' child, I have also received cards and even a hand written letter on the 'grace and power of God' in bringing us Cason. One person, who I ran into in a store, who I only know from my sons sport, after seeing me and the baby (I told her the whole story months ago) said right off, "PRAISE GOD!" because you know, it's all about HIM.

And then there are the stalkers. The ones who never sent a thing when Caleb died but who want to be all over Cason. They call or stop by wanting to know all the details about Cason but overtly ignore that little elephant in the room named Caleb. Even still, there are no words of sympathy or compassion. It feels more like now they can be around me because I'm normal again. Or at least I don't make them feel uncomfortable anymore. I guess to them I don't look like a dead baby mom anymore. Idiots.

And the God stuff. Oh Holy Crap, that makes my skin bristle and my eyes burn. I mean, I am not a religious person, as you may have noticed about me, but I still do have enough faith in me that I wouldn't call myself agnostic, yet. So to suddenly send me a card or say to me, after losing my son a mere year and some months ago, that GOD somehow now decided to give me this baby instead, that GOD decided to let this baby live, that GOD is totally responsible for this, well, it makes me crazy angry. Unless, of course, you're willing to then let me blame Caleb dying all on GOD. As I said to one of my girlfriends after the run in with the sport mom, if it's "Praise God" now what was it a year ago? Hmmm, let me guess, "FUCK GOD", right? I know it's awful, they are awful words to write. And the thing of it is, it's not what I believe anyway. I don't believe, if there is a God, that she or he, micromanages us like that. I'm sorry, but if God has time to pick and choose which of my children are going to live or die inside me or outside me for that matter, what the fuck is going on with all of the children who are starving to death all over the world. Or the ones who are being tortured, raped, maimed, terrorized, suffering from terminal illnesses....the list goes on. And I know the answer to that too. At least I know their answer, "The Mystery, The Plan". Don't question the omnipotent OZ, ooops I mean God.

Come on, people. Open your eyes. At least, if only for my benefit, pretend for a while that common sense is some small part of your religion. If you can't, it's okay, but please, spare me the sharing then, of your beliefs, cuz they sure as hell aren't mine.

Can you imagine if I walked into a funeral for someones baby and announced to the parents, "Boy, God sure must not like you or your baby much. But Praise God!" But of course, the true believers will tell you that God called the baby home and that this is all part of that 'Plan'. And we can't understand it cuz we're too dumb.

I'm not dumb. I'm not evil. I don't even hate God. Unless of course that "Plan" thing is true, then I really do have some serious issues with God. I think bad shit happens to good people. I think bad shit happened to me, to my family, to Caleb. I don't need a bigger, universal reason to explain it. I needed a medical one and luckily I got a pretty decent one. Decent enough to allow us to try again being reasonably certain that particular cause wouldn't happen to us or another baby again. I don't blame God, much. I'm not enough of a lapsed Catholic to have released all of my Catholic guilt. It took years to drill it in to me, it's gonna take the rest of my life I suspect to get it out. So in my moments of weakness, I do call out to God and I have even asked for help. I immediately retract it, reminding myself that I don't believe that God has time for personal prayers, but I still do it.

Funny thing is, this summer when I was rushing my daughter to the ER and I was trying not to be hysterical after my son asked me if she was going to die, I screamed and raged in my head, "You're not taking another one, I won't let you!". Which was stunning to me because that normally would have been a time when I would have fallen back on my praying or more accurately, bargaining with God. But I was so scared and tired of being scared the only thing I had in me was the anger.

And still, it remains, the anger. But, I've kept it in. I haven't rammed my beliefs down anyone's throat.

Now, if everyone else could just show me the same courtesy. That'd be great.

Oh, and one more thing. Please, stop asking us if we are going to have anymore children. Seriously.

P.S. God, if you are reading this I want to tell you, well, you know cuz you can read my mind, right? Thanks.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Through the years we all will be together if the fates allow...

That line always gets to me. Ever since I stood at the side of the grave for one of my best friends from high school as he was buried at the ripe old age of 21 on a cold December morning. Maybe I never paid attention to the lyrics before because I know I had heard the song, maybe it was the version I heard that made it clear, I don't know. But it was then that I realized the fates don't always allow us to be together and it's not a pretty thing. Especially when the one missing is young and beautiful and woefully short of the days necessary to complete a full lifetime.

We all know, too well, how cruel fate can be, how little control we have over anything really. We just have to muddle through somehow. It's what the song says. At least one version of it does anyway.

I'm thinking of all of you and your babies, those that are here, those that are gone and those that will make their first appearance in the near or even far future. And I am thinking especially of Emilie and her family who will never share another Christmas together, at least not here on this earth. I hope that the coming year brings healing to the hearts and hope to the lives of each and everyone of you.

And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.

Pretenders - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Merry Christmas my friends, near or far, I hope you all have yourself a merry little Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Silenced too soon

I don't have the actual post to confirm this news but I have heard that brave Emilie has died. I have not been able to stop thinking of her and her boys all week. I think of her last post, not even a week ago, in which she says "I'll write more later." and I can not believe that her words, her voice, has been silenced.

Yes, tonight will be a silent night. Not the kind I wished for for her and her family. If there is such a thing, I hope that she is sleeping in heavenly peace.

ETA: The post from Emilie's husband is up now. Please stop over and offer what comfort you can so he knows just how much his family is being thought of now in these dark hours. My heart is shattered, the tears for someone I never met but felt so close to, surprise even me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

On grieving and gratitude

It's hard to give voice to the thoughts. I want to write and say to everyone, "It's all perfect now. Once you get your baby, everything goes back to normal and all of the dead baby things just vanish, they slip away into the air carried by the cries of a new life." But that is just not the truth. Not even close.

In the moment of Cason's birth, it is true that I saw for the first time the permanence of Caleb's death. Maybe the more accurate thing to say is that I felt it. I let myself feel it. I had to stop holding onto the wishing this had never happened feelings and I had to embrace the reality of my life. I have a child who died. And now I have a child who lives. I have both. I have to live with both. Forever.

I want to tell you that having Cason has taken the sting, or more aptly the full body blow, of losing Caleb away. But it doesn't. Not even a little. I think I thought it would. I wonder if we all think that.

I was wrong. Having Cason didn't even quiet the noise, the running dead baby soundtrack in my head. It's all still there.

Maybe I thought or even believed that having another baby would somehow replace Caleb or fill the void left by him. I didn't think I thought that. I really didn't. I know I wrote during my pregnancy that I didn't want anyone to ever think that Cason would replace Caleb or that I would somehow be healed if I got the live baby. But I wonder if the biggest fool in all of it was me. I think somewhere deep down inside I thought, or maybe hoped, that that is exactly what would happen.
It didn't.

Which isn't to imply or even hint at the idea that having Cason is or was in any way diminished by having lost Caleb. Exactly the opposite is true. Having Cason is by far the best thing that has ever happened to our family, to me, since, well, ever. Do I love him more than my other two living children? No. But my love for him is colored with different emotions. My heart is in an entirely different condition than it was when they were born. Obviously, right? I am not the same anymore. One of my friends once said to me, "No two children are ever raised by the same parents." I always loved that idea because it does truly capture the uniqueness of every child's experience in a family. And never has it felt more true to me than it does now. For Cason is surely not going to be raised by the same people who raised his older brother and sister. We have nurtured two children and have survived the loss of a third. We have a humility and awareness of life and death that we did not know before. We have lived the very best and worst moments as parents. We are most assuredly not the same two people we were a decade and then some ago when we ventured into this thing called parenthood. Even if we wanted to we could not be the people we were before he was born.

And Cason, his very existence is illuminated by his lost brothers life. Can I tell you how many times my husband has called Cason, Caleb? No, I stopped counting a while ago.

And for me, every time I hold him, especially in the quiet late night hours when he and I are alone, him snuggled warmly against my chest, his body curved into an impossible "S" shaped bundle, as I imagine he must have been when he dwelled within me, I stroke his back, my hand now able to reach his skin and not be shielded from him by my belly, I implore him never to leave me. My love for him is so fierce it is almost frightening. The lingering fear of a dead baby mom always hovering around me, reminding me that nothing is certain, that anything can be taken away at any moment. (I sometimes try to shake the fear away with images of me doing an impersonation of Shirley McClain in Terms of Endearment. Early in the movie when she doesn't hear her baby daughter moving in the crib, she tells her husband that the baby must be dead so she climbs into the crib and shakes the baby enough to get her to cry at which point she says "there that's better" and leaves the crying baby and goes back to her own room to sleep. I don't shake Cason but I have been known to move him around a bit, to make sure he is still breathing, often waking him in the process.) I want not a second to pass without him feeling me loving him. I wonder does he know, can he ever know, how much he was wanted, needed in our lives. Will he ever be able to understand just what his life has meant to all of us. Will he feel burdened by his lost brothers legacy or grateful for it? I can't answer that question myself, I have no idea how I will raise a child to.

And then my thoughts are with Caleb and everything that he is missing. All of the love he never got to know, to feel, the life he never got to live. All of the things we will never know about him. Cason is an impossibly easy baby, would Caleb have been? Cason loves his baths, would Caleb have? Cason still has red hair and the beginnings of what seem to be green eyes, a true leprechaun, what color hair and eyes would Caleb have had? The list goes on and on. And it hurts me now more to think of these things than it did before. I think maybe the joy I feel experiencing these moments with Cason makes me feel as though I am somehow cheating Caleb out of something. I don't know how to parent a dead child. I don't know how to love him the right way, if there is such a thing.

It's as if the grief has started all over again. First you get to grieve the emptiness of your heart and your arms and then you get to grieve the fullness of them. I suppose it's not the fullness really, it's the awareness of the stark truth that one is always going to be missing. And while your arms and heart are filled they are never going to hold everything they should have.

My daughter seems to have grasped this reality easier than I have. She will often talk to me about the 4 children in our family, her and her 3 brothers. How if Caleb had lived she would have been a big sister to two brothers. I wonder if she will always include Caleb or if her memory of him and the loss of him will fade over time as Cason and his presence fill her daily life.

I guess I wonder that about me too.

I'll take it though. Living with this confusion is infinitely more bearable than the alternative. I know that. I am not whining. I know how lucky we are, I am. I know not everyone who gets a membership card to the db club gets a living baby afterwards. I remember the night and day I labored and delivered Caleb, two of the three nurses I had were members of this club. I asked both of them if they had a live baby after. Neither did. Hearing that from them was devastating to me. I was already trying to plan another baby and they both were crushing my hopes of the possibility. Getting here, to this place, getting my baby, I am beyond grateful. There aren't words to express the feelings or the emotions that come with the magic that is handed to you in a living, breathing baby when you have already lived through the devastation of being handed your dead baby. And when people see him, people who don't know the story, when they offer the standard congratulations or other baby type welcome words, I feel compelled to tell them everything. I want them to know this is no ordinary baby, he did not come easily, we didn't just decide to have a baby and get one. I want them to understand as much as possible that I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this little boy. I want them to see the magic in him too. But I don't think anyone can truly see it unless they have a membership card.

I see it.

There will never be a time that I look at him or think of him and don't see it. And for that I am grateful.
ETA: Blogger rotated my pic...sorry for any neck strain:)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Comfort & Joy...?

As if any of us need reminding about the unfairness of life and the randomness of that evil bitch fate anyway...
I have posted here before about an incredible mom, Emilie, whose blog I follow quietly. She was diagnosed with cancer while she was in the early weeks of pregnancy with her second son. She braved surgery and treatment and beat the odds, delivering her beautiful, healthy son almost a year ago. The cancer then reoccurred and she has been fighting like a mother bear to save her own life and to spend as much time with her two children as possible.
Today, she posted this and I am heartbroken. For her, for her boys, for her husband and for her extended family and friends who have all been supporting her and helping her fight. It seems the time has come for her to stop fighting and to prepare for something no young mother should have to.
If you have a moment to stop by her blog and offer what ever support one can in an ungodly time such as this,please do. I can not wrap my tiny brain around this. I suppose because there is no way to understand it.
This is not the way it should be, for anyone.
What does that song say, 'comfort and joy'? Where is that now?

Friday, December 5, 2008

What's in a year?

I can't believe that it has been one year since my first post. I had been lurking around here in db land for a while, somehow having found my way to a post by Ashleigh, appropriately entitled 'Bite Me' ( a great post btw, definitely worth reading) and later somehow found Niobe who had recently put up a post about the worst thing a medical 'professional', or other a**hole, had said to you, and my love affair with this place we call db land was sealed.
I started reading the blogs of women who commented on those spaces and found my way to C, Coggy, Charmed Girl, Olive Lucy, A., Julia, Tash, G., the list grew and grew until my side bar of favorites, formerly full of things like holiday cupcake recipes, places to take children and decorating ideas, slowly became a list of lifelines, a support network like nothing I had ever known before and certainly didn't know even existed. I never in a million years would have seen myself as a 'blogger', who could imagine that I would have anything of interest to share with strangers or that I would even be brazen enough to do it if I did. But as we all discover, once we get the chutzpah to actually comment on another's blog, it is like the opening of the flood gates. All of those words and thoughts we have kept to ourselves during the painful days, weeks, months after joining this G*dforsaken club, come spilling out, or as Janice would say, we vomit them all over the screen (I love that saying as it perfectly describes how I write) and pretty soon we need our own space to do it. As happened with me. And to my utter bewilderment, these lovely ladies who I had never met, never seen, never spoken to, reached out their collective broken hearts to me and began to help me heal. They encouraged me to keep spilling, keep talking, keep sharing. They offered me a safe place to be honest, brutally, painfully honest without fear of hurting someone else's feelings or offending someones idea of decency or worse. They offered solace, comfort, shared tears and even the occasional laugh, sometimes a hearty one, cuz even a db mom can laugh, sometimes.
In the beginning I told no one about my blog. I wrote late at night when the house was quiet, a cocktail or three at the ready (the only casualty in the creation of this blog I am afraid was a treasured bottle of Scotch my husband was saving for a really special occasion, which, turned out to be the writing of this blog, but as it worked out, I was the only one who was toasting....sorry honey).
I had no idea where my life was headed 365 days ago. It felt like I was in a downward spiral, hanging on by a thread, going through the motions, trying to hold things together for my children, trying to make life normal in a world that now felt so alien and cruel to me. I knew I was lucky, lucky to have two beautiful children already, lucky to have such a supportive family surrounding me and lucky to have many friends who stayed by my side as I struggled to regain my footing, trying like hell to find that new 'normal' we all search for after being handed our dead baby membership card. But lucky doesn't count for shit when you get handed your membership card, does it?
I wrote about wanting out of the club. The daily strapping on of the grief backpack was burdensome at best and suffocating at it's worst. I wanted to be finished with it. I know now, you don't ever finish, you just learn to live with it and someday's it really isn't heavy at all, it just is what it is.
I wrote about wanting another baby. I truly did not think I would get one. I did not think my husband would be willing to gamble again. He was much more inclined to believe the message was clear, you're done. A miscarriage and stillbirth back to back at our age...give it up. But I made my case, I told him I thought our marriage, our life would be altered forever if we just quit. That I didn't think I would ever recover if we didn't at least try. That I didn't want to walk away from my child bearing years with the awful memory of being handed my dead son as my last memory of the baby world. I told him, it's the tragedy you don't want again, a baby you would love. And somewhere in the pleading, he heard me and, well...we got supremely lucky. Unbelievably, mind blowingly, lucky. I still can't believe how lucky.
And through it all, you ladies stayed here with me. Even when you were dealing with your own grief, your own loss, your own disappointments and shit luck, you still stayed here and even cheered.
And I am humbled. I am awe struck and amazed. That out of this nightmare has come something so beautiful. If you had asked me a year ago to write that sentence I would have spit my drink out in your face. A horrible waste of perfectly fine liquor. But it is true. I am not going to wax on and blow sunshine up your nether parts because I know for some of you this last year has been more thorns than roses and for others it is still unfolding. But for all of you, I am hoping like hell that luck or whatever it is that brings happy endings or beginnings, depending on how you look at it, visits each and every one of you and soon, god damn it. Soon. Because I could not have survived this past year without you and I plan on hanging around here trying to lend the same comfort and shoulders that you have given me. And I'll do it forever and a day if that's what it takes.
I don't know what this blog will turn into now that Cason has joined our family. I still have plenty to write about but it is all wrapped up in this new place I am in and I don't know how to separate them. And this is a place where dead baby mom's should be able to go and not read about the musings of a mom and her newborn. Which is not to say that I don't have db things to say, because believe me, I do, I just need to find a way to do it that is right.
But I'll figure it out. It takes time. As all things do.
So thank you to all of you, new and old to this place of mine. Your friendship has literally kept me afloat and made the difference for me in ways I don't think I could ever describe. But I suspect you know what they are.
Happy Anniversary to all of us...I that sick or what?
Now, be a good friend and go have a drink...on me:)
And make it a double.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Saying hello...and good-bye

Laying on the operating table, I was unable to wipe the tears away as they poured from my eyes, my arms were securely fastened, crucifix style, to the outstretched shelves of the table, to aid the anesthesiologist in vein access. It didn't matter though, I lay there and listened to my newborn son, his cries were hearty and quivery, just as you might imagine they would be, just as I had hoped, for so many months, two years really, to hear one day. My husband kept saying to me, "He's here honey, he's here..." and I kept repeating, "Is he ok? Is he really ok?"
The nurse held him up so I could see him, really look at him through my tears, so that I could see he was indeed, really here. And really alive.
In the moments before he was born, laying on the table, paralyzed from the chest down, waiting for them to start, I was terrified. My body was shaking, not from the coldness of the room but from the crushing fear that still, something could go wrong. They had taken me off the monitors(the very same monitors that two hours earlier had failed to find his heartbeat when they first hooked me up. The universe, I guess, thought it might be funny to send in a nurse with broken, but brand new, equipment...needless to say I didn't get the joke and my stress level never did recover from that scary start to my delivery)and I could no longer feel anything in my belly. The assisting doctor was late and we all were waiting for her. And so I lay helpless, literally paralyzed and fear filled, thinking even now, my baby could die, please hurry, please get it out. We were delayed because of another baby in distress, not news a db mom needs to hear when waiting to deliver.
And then she came and everything started. Through my rattling teeth I chanted, healthy baby, healthy baby, over and over as I waited, my view obstructed by the blue sheet put between my face and my body. I held my husbands hand as long as I could. Then he stood up to take pictures and the doctor told me 'alot of pressure now' and she meant it, I felt as though an elephant had parked on my chest. I couldn't breathe. My husband told me, "...almost honey, almost, almost..." and then in unison a chorus of nurses and doctors yelled out, "Here it comes and it's a.... boy!" and then in a moment it all changed. I heard his cry. The sweetest sound I have ever heard in all of my life. And in that moment, a year and some months worth of grief spilled out of me, poured out of me really, my body wracked with uncontrollable sobs, my eyes blurred by the tears, my voice a whisper as I sought reassurance after reassurance that he really was ok.
And when the nurse held him up, and I saw his red hair, his long legs, his beautiful chest rising and falling with every cry, every breath, it was then that I saw Caleb. In that instant I held my two sons in my mind, one still and lifeless as I cradled his tiny body in a mortuary and the other filled with life, his daddy standing protectively over him as he is weighed and measured, cutting the cord and marking the moments with pictures.
I thought of these two boys, whose lives are so completely intertwined, and yet they will never know each other, never share a toy or a secret, never conspire to squeeze another hour of playtime before bed, never comfort one another or grow old together, these two boys shared my body, my heart and my love. But only one gets to share a lifetime with me. With us.
For that moment my boys were together. I let my eyes soak in the view of my new son and my memory called forth my lost son. The two were there in the room with me, as close as they ever would be. This new life, my Cason, born out of his brother Caleb's death. And I realized in that taking of a breath Cason changed the way I would see his brother forever. Never again would I be able to wish that Caleb hadn't died because that would mean that I would not have my Cason. I can't play the what if game anymore. Caleb is dead, he is gone from me forever. He didn't die so that Cason could be born, but Cason was born because Caleb died. And the only words that came to me were, "Thank you for him Caleb, I love you Caleb.".
And so it happened, when they lay sweet Cason on my chest and I kissed his tiny, perfect head, I said hello to one son and I said good-bye to the other. I cried tears for both of them, holding tightly to one, and like a child holding a balloon by a string, looking to the sky, beyond the clouds to the vastness of the heavens, wanting to hang on to that string forever but knowing the time had come to let him soar, I slowly opened my fingers and I let my other son go.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Bird Day

Thank you to everyone who left kind words, wishes and thoughts for me and my family this past week. It has been unimaginable the emotions, the feelings, the reality. I still wake up in the middle of the night (lots) and look at Cason and wonder if I really am awake. I hope to put to paper, well, internet, the words that might express it, but it is hard, harder than hard.

I have so much to write about but am having trouble finding my voice...things are good, really good and I guess that makes me suspicious. I wonder if I ever won't feel that the quiet is really just a precursor to a storm? Will any of us?
Meanwhile I continue to stalk all of you and keep you all close in my heart. I hope this Thanksgiving finds you with the ones you love, fills you with all sorts of yummy niblits and of course, for those of you who are able, I hope there is liquor involved:), lots of it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Here he is....CASON PATRICK!!!! 7lbs 12oz, 20 inches--mom and baby doing GREAT!!!!

Fw: You had me at hello

Well, its a BOY! He was born @ 5:20 p.m. my time.
His name is Cason Patrick, 7lbs and 12oz and 20 inches long. He is absolutely beautiful with strawberry blonde hair and gorgeous pink skin.
I am drugged up but not so much that I can't tell you how completely over the moon in love I am. I just can not believe this. Ill try and post pix later but my sister may do it instead so stay tuned. And thank you so much for all of your support, it really made a difference in my heart.
I love you guys!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Words of encouragement from an 11 year old DB big brother...

"So baby tomorrow mom?", "I hope this one's not a dud, I hated that."


Bowie - Under Pressure - Live

I may be posting all night..


It's crazy here. People have been here all day. Well, not people, my parents. Trying to help. Hanging curtains, grocery shopping, cleaning, laundering, cooking, directing children..."where do you want this?" "Where does this go?" "What do you want me to do with this?" all trying so hard to help. People are calling, wishing us good luck, reminding us to call when we have news. Ring. Ring. Ring. It's chaos.

I want to crawl under my covers, wrap my arms around my belly and fade away.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I live in hell. Seriously. Here are some snaps I took from my house this afternoon. I don't know what kind of national coverage our wildfires get but it's all we are hearing about here today. The city where I live is surrounded by not one, not two, but three burning out of control fires being fueled by wind and unlimited supplies of dry brush. The temperature here is in the high 80's to 90's. The relative humidity is about 4% or 5%. It's what we call a lovely fall day here in SoCal. I hate it. I want to move. Today.
In the second shot you can see the smoke from one fire at the top of the pic and then the smoke from the other fire at the bottom of the shot, we are hoping that the two fires don't meet up. The air quality is horrendous. There is falling ash the size of pennies and then debris being blown around by our not so beloved Santa Ana winds. Perfect for a pregnant woman. Needless to say I am house bound. Painting trim and breathing those fumes is actually refreshing compared to being outside.
Already homes have been lost, the count will only go up.

What a wonderful place to bring a baby home to.


Friday, November 14, 2008


It's a bit unsettling, walking out of your doctors office after your last prenatal appointment. Knowing it was the last. I'm sure for them it's normal, "OK, see ya, good luck!" but not for me. It's the realization that you're on your own. They've done what they can now it's up to me and this baby to get through the next few days and show up at the hospital where my doctor will, hopefully, deliver a healthy baby into my arms.
Similar words were shared as I left the stress testing office. "Promise to bring the baby by after, o.k.?" they asked, while I thought in my head, "...if...". Out loud, "Sure thing." One of the most bold faced lies a db mom can make, right? "Sure thing." There's no such thing.

Even with all of the uncertainty, I still find myself feeling melancholy about nearing the end here. Before I entered this club being pregnant was one of the best times of my life. I've always had easy pregnancy's and I loved the transformation of my body and the feeling of a life stirring inside me. Amazing how carrying your dead child inside you and then delivering him can change that. The anxiety has taken much of that away, replacing it with anxiety over whether the kick I just felt would be the last or if I am feeling nothing at all spending anxious minutes or more desperate to provoke some movement to reassure me that there is still life within me. Now though, I am spending as much time as I can just sitting and watching my belly move. Feeling this life inside me, trying to burn the memory of it into my brain. Knowing I will never again feel anything like this. Knowing this is truly the end of my life as a pregnant woman. In the back of my mind I mull over the idea of it not being over. If I was younger, if...and then I realize, I will never feel like I have finished because I will always be one child short of where I should be. One child will always be missing and so this journey will never feel complete. Not even if I had 10 more kids. There is no way to fill the void left by a child's death. Anyone who ever says to a parent who has lost a child that by having another child you are somehow moving on and letting go has never held their dead baby or child in their arms, has never experienced the penetrating grief of burying a baby, has never had to live the life after, and will never understand that a life, any life, but especially a baby's life is not replaceable or interchangeable. The impact of a child's life is not measured in the length of days it lives and to believe otherwise shows only ignorance and callousness.
So here I sit, marveling in this little one as he or she moves inside me, seemingly unaware of all that has surrounded it's journey. I try to picture who it is that has occupied my body all these days, given me what would be considered an easy pregnancy by anyone who hasn't been where I've been. And yet it's been the hardest pregnancy I've ever had. I hope, along with all of the other things I hope for, that when this baby comes out, if everything goes right, I will be able to untangle this baby from all the strings and ties that are wrapped around it's very existence. But I wonder, will I ever really see this child and not think about Caleb.

It's a hefty burden from all sides. One I hope I am strong enough to carry for both of us. Which makes me realize, again, how grateful I am for all of the support I have received here. From those who have been here with me literally since my first post to those who we met along the way. We have all worked, worked like hell, to figure this all out. We get up and we go on and we fight on and sometimes we get knocked back down and still we keep fighting. Together. It is a woman's work, the fight to go on. And you all have shown me how to do it. Even when we don't know how, we at least have been able to look around and know that we are not fighting alone. Strength in numbers. Never has that made more sense to me than it has here. For all of you who have shown me the grace and fortitude of the will and strength of women, this one below, is for you.

Don't Give Up, Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush.

Don't give up

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Signs revisited.

I'm at a loss for words. There is so much going through my head and yet I can't speak intelligently about any of it. We are mere days away from knowing how this will all turn out and I still can't picture that happy ending. I try to, I really do. But it just seems so unrealistic to me that I am reduced to tears almost immediately and have to change the subject in my head. Morbidly, it is actually easier for me to imagine how I will react to the bad ending, what I will do differently this time, how I will make decisions, what I want done for the baby. It's awful, really awful. Then, even when I can think about a live baby, there is something wrong with it. They missed Downs in the nuchal screen and 5 million ultra sounds I've had, or some other horrible, life altering disease or diagnosis that will be delivered to us along with our baby.
There is something in my head that has convinced me I don't deserve a healthy, alive baby. That I have been greedy and I should have stopped with the two beautiful children I have. Many months ago I wrote about "signs" and I pondered the notion that the universe was trying to tell me something with my miscarriage and then the f'ed D & C and then of course Caleb. I am back there now, wondering if I forged ahead, ignoring the warnings and on Monday, I will be handed a child who is so severely ill that our entire lives will be consumed by the care of this little one. And I will forever look back and say, I should have listened. I should have been happy with what we had. I deserved this because I was....I don't even know.
I'm not proud of what I have been thinking, but it is what it is. F'ed up. Kinda like me. I know it's too late to do anything and I should just let it go until I know, but it's hard. There is something about being a db mom that makes me, maybe others too, feel undeserving of anything good any more. I am always looking around the corner, waiting, knowing it is coming. Learning the hardest way that you can walk into a doctor's office a shiny, happy pregnant person and walk out an empty shell of the person you knew, never to be the same again. Never able to trust that anything good will come your way or that anything good ever lasts and isn't always topped off by a heaping dose of 'take that'.
Sometimes, if I am still and I feel the leprechaun moving, I just want to freeze the world and keep everything just as it is. Perfect for that moment.
I'm headed down another long dark tunnel, I don't know what is waiting for me at the other end anymore. But as I think I said before, I sure as hell hope that the light I see isn't a train headed straight for me.

How's that for a 100th post??

Monday, November 10, 2008

Caleb's Place

He needed his own place. We've been making room for the leprechaun, clearing out the room that would have been Caleb's, redoing the kids bathroom, moving computers and old school crafts, papers from years gone by, photos, lots of photos have been filed away into boxes (I have visions of one day actually getting them into albums but realistically speaking....yea, never) and even daring to move some new baby things into 'the room'. But with all of this chaos going on around here, there he sat. Where he has always been. Quietly resting on my dresser. The tiny truck placed on his urn by his big brother would occasionally slide off and need to be repositioned, but for the most part, he is quiet. As any dead baby always is, right?
Every time I walk by the dresser, now more cluttered with things that have yet to find a new home, littered with dust and socks without partners, I see his hand print, his footprint, his name engraved on the silver top of the urn with just one date underneath. That's all he got. One date. September 1, 2007. That's it. And the sadder thing for me when I see that date, is that while to others it marks the date he died, to me it doesn't. I know he died many days before, maybe even almost two weeks before. The doctors knew he died the day before. August 31. September 1, only speaks to the day he left my body and slipped right through this earth and all that was waiting for him and went on to some other place. Maybe on the other side of the rainbows. Maybe.

He deserved more than that. He deserves more than a cleared space on my desser. He is not an afterthought, or a single date. He is my son and he is gone from me forever. I do not know what he would have looked like had he lived, I can not close my eyes and see his shining eyes or hear his voice or even his cry. I know so little about this tiny boy who has forever changed me and I can give him nothing to make up for the life that was denied him.

But I want him to have a place that is just his. A place where it is his story that will be told. A place that says you were important, you mattered, you are loved.

Last night, your dad and I built you a place. It's right above my desk where I can see you when I am writing about you. That is when I feel closest to you. I don't know where you are or what happens to babies that die. I don't know if there is a place that keeps you safe and loved while you wait for your parents and family to come. I don't know if that place on the other side of the rainbow exists. I want to believe it does. I hope it does.

I put the candles we lit at our wedding on the top shelf with the card that holds a single hand and foot print, prints I took from you at the mortuary. The card has your nameplate, made by a good friend and the date. Your date. The candles are there because when we took the two candles and lit one together, you became a reality. We didn't know it then, but that promise we made gave life to you. So it seemed the right thing to have them there with you.

Your two urns, the one with your name and the one with the cherub, the truck from your brother and a red glass heart all share the lower shelf.

While we lit the candles at our wedding there was quiet music playing in the background by a string quartet. People commented to us that they recognized the songs melody but couldn't place it without the lyrics. They said the song had made them feel melancholy, almost sad but not quite. It was a familiar song that brought back feelings of days gone by. Of things that are lost but hopefully not gone forever. Of dreams and beliefs and magic.

We chose the song purposefully, for all of those reasons. And everytime I see the candles, sharing your space with you, I hear it in my head and I hope it's true.

I am putting it here for you Caleb, in your place, so you can hear it too.

the rainbow connection

For Caleb.

the rainbow connection

For Caleb.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

That day...

I had to go over to sign some checks. That's what she said anyway. As Pres.i.dent of an organization, my signature is required on all of our checks, makes sense to me. We just finished up a huge event and now the piper had come calling. The checks needed to be signed. I fit in a time in between my fetal monitoring, doctor appointment and running a million errands trying to put my house together before next week. When I got to her house, in a hurry and anxious to be moving along to my shopping, she opened the door and before I could finish saying hello, about 25 of my friends shouted "Surprise!" and about scared the living daylights out of me. They had thrown a baby shower for me. I never suspected a thing. This compounded by the fact that I still haven't wrapped my brain around the whole actually bringing a baby home idea, my head was spinning and the tears were flowing.
These women, many of whom were at my doorstep last year with food, flowers and comfort, had again reached out and said to me, we won't let you not enjoy this, at least not for today, not for this moment. Just for these few hours, you will be a mom to be who is allowed to hope, to dream, to believe, that in a few days, you will bring a healthy baby home to love. Just for now, put the fear down, release the worry and revel in this child who is here, now. Just for this instant, let us surround you with our faith and our love and our conviction that this baby and you will be okay.

These women, many whom have known tragedy in their own lives very recently, a son's death, a grandson's death, a father's death, a son in Iraq, a brutal divorce and yes, even a stillbirth (which preceded Caleb and was only told to me after he had died, in quiet confidence but with the telling came the beginnings of the realization that I could survive and live despite my belief to the contrary), bestowed upon me and this baby, new beginnings, tiny new sleepers, tiny new slippers, quilts made by hand, each stitch its own gift, hangings custom worded for the wall wishing a little one Sweet Dreams, a diaper bag stocked with all the necessities for travel, at the ready and crafted by the fingers of a grandmother to a little boy named Caleb, (who was in my daughter's class last year and who was the first child I had to work with, on my first day back to volunteer in her class, after losing my own Caleb, calling that little boys name out that day nearly broke me but I told myself if I ran out at that moment I would never be able to return and so I sat with him and worked on phonics while holding back tears and visualizing the za.nax that waited for me in my car) each gift a small reminder of the women who have stood beside me in the last year and who have quietly but ever so strongly said to me day after day, you can do this.

So for a few hours I let myself be the happy(well, mostly, it was hard) pregnant woman, opening gifts, eating cake, sharing stories of being pregnant, and detailing the nursery developments and painting escapades. My Caleb wasn't far from my mind that afternoon, all the things that were never to be for him and me, our story will always be one of sadness and loss. But that day was not about him anymore, it was about a new life, a new beginning, a new baby.

When I got home I brought it all inside. I didn't leave it out in the garage, hiding it away until certainty was upon us. Instead it all sits downstairs, cards lined up on the shelves, gifts in neat piles on the floor, waiting patiently for the room to be finished so that they can take their place and wait, like the rest of us, for a new baby to come.

Feeling a bit brave and a little feisty, I took the kids and the ever growing belly of mine and we decided to mark the moment. No matter what happens, I want to remember that day. I want to remember the day I lived my life like a shiny happy pregnant person....even if it was only that day.

So this is what we looked like, the leprechaun and I...that day.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Many years ago I went with a bunch of friends to work the Ironman in Hawaii. No, for goodness sake I didn't compete in it, we volunteered to work the different stations/transitions in the race. First directing the swimmers out of the water and leading them to their bikes, then 'catching' their sweat and pee soaked bikes (yes, they really do pee right on their bikes while they ride, something I wasn't told until after I grabbed the first bike by the seat as the rider jumped off and made his way to the changing room, my coworker nicely said to me, "You might want to try for the bar, just in case...."yuck) and then finally waiting at the finish line, well into the late night hours, as each triathlete made their way across that coveted "FINISH" line. My job was to catch the runners as they crossed the line, handing them their towels and doing a quick but vital check of their state of awareness and consciousness, being trained by the docs to look for glossy eyes, incoherence and other indicators that the athlete was in trouble and in need of immediate medical assistance and interventions. The docs explained to us the power of the will of these athletes to finish the race, that they literally would at some point lose their mental faculties and go into an autopilot mode that would allow them to continue racing, well beyond what their bodies and minds could handle. They would stay in this state for as long as they needed to get to the finish line and then they would collapse. It was our job to spot those athletes and catch them before everything shut down and they were injured or worse.

In the early hours, they would jog across the finish as easily as if they had just finished a light workout, not a grueling, all day under the burning sun, triathlon. One guy even proposed to me, yes, I did think about calling for the medical team for him, knowing he was clearly delusional, but I let it slide....And then as the day wore on, the first athletes who showed the signs of trouble began to show. It was amazing to me, how strong they looked coming across the line, all the way up to the line even, good posture, measured stride, an outward appearance of total awareness of their surroundings. And then, as they crossed that line, when I would look into their eyes, I could see it, total vacancy. Nobody was home. And it was only a matter of seconds before everything would shut down. Sometimes they would even manage to utter a few words to me, seemingly able to converse, "I did it." and then I would feel their muscles go limp, their bodies literally collapsing on themselves, as I would yell for a medic and a stretcher.

The power of the human mind is an awesome thing. The ability to will oneself to a certain point. A finish line. To be able to mentally see a goal and then to, by sheer force of will, compel your body onward, even when every ounce of you has said no, it's too much to go on, it's stunning really. Because you do it, without even thinking about it. I wondered all those years ago if the athletes really ever knew when they had crossed over into that auto-pilot mode, if they felt themselves slipping and if so, what happened within them to coerce their mind into the takeover of the body. What was the difference between the ones who crossed the line and the ones who collapsed before they got there.
At some point I think, they must have stopped focusing on the steps they were taking, they just kept looking for that "FINISH", believing it must, surely be, just around the next curve in the road. Just keep moving everything the same way and somehow you'll get there. Don't stop, don't look back, don't think about anything else, just keep moving, just keep moving.
I never thought I'd ever see anything like that again, certainly never experience it myself. But I wonder, if I get to my "FINISH" line, will someone look into my eyes and see the vacancy, see that I am on auto-pilot, will someone be there to catch me when this is all over? Because even though I am no athlete, certainly no triathlete, I think I know now, why they call it the "Ironman".

Monday, November 3, 2008

the TWW

So as it began, it ends, with the two week wait. That's where I am now. Back in March when I started the official tww I got to kill some of the time hanging out with the lovely Ms. C., my first ever IRL meet with a db mom. We talked for hours as though we'd known each other for, well, ever. She got to drink cocktails and I had a Spr.ite. I told her I didn't think I was pg but that I wasn't willing to risk the guilt of a few stolen alcohol laced beverages if I actually was and then lost the pg later. As we sat there late into the evening talking all things db, I never thought for a moment that some nine months later I'd be nine months into a pregnancy. It never did. I remember thinking what a shame it would be when the next week I had to shop for more tampons and how pissed I'd be that I'd missed a great opportunity to throw some back with the perfect drinking partner for a db mom, another db mom.
I left C., that night feeling better than I had in months. Lighter and almost giddy from being able to sit and really let it all hang out, no pretending, no covering or protecting the listener form the gory details of having a dead baby. I left her that night feeling happy. That happiness and new found friendship carried me over the next days and every time I felt a cramp or some other symptom, real or imagined, that told me there would be no need for a pg test that month, I thought to myself, it'll be ok, I have company, I have a friend who knows and who will be there when I need that cocktail...cuz everyone knows I love my cocktails.
I ran all the scenarios through my head. How I would react, what I was going to do if the news was bad. If I was going to go to the doc and seek intervention, if the husband would even want to go that far. Every plan I made had to do with how I was going to react to the bad news. Preparing myself for the negative outcome, not the positive. Then came the day. March 17th. I peed on the stick and got the shock of a second line. The tww was over and a whole new, much longer wait had begun.
And now, I am right back there again. Sort of. TWW. I'm scheduled for two weeks from today. I find myself right back where I was mentally in those days of March. Preparing myself for every possible bad outcome. Every negative result. I can't for the life of me imagine the good outcome. When I try to , I am so overcome with sobs and tears I have to stop. It literally is easier for me to plan how I will react to a dead baby than it is to plan how to react to a live one. My family and friends are all helping to get things ready, shopping and painting and running errands for me and all I can think is we shouldn't be doing any of this until we know, for sure. I am trying to keep things actually brought into the house to a minimum, the less we have to take back out is what my mind says. We've made a list of names, which I told myself, either way we have to have names, so this isn't like actually planning for an actual live baby. Not really.
Even when I do imagine a real live baby, I am convinced there will be something horribly wrong and I will lose it anyway. Or we will be forever challenged with a lifetime of guilt caring for this ill child, because we wanted to have another baby when the universe was obviously against it and us.
And then in the moments when the crazy isn't smeared all over my brain and I am able to imagine this baby, unencumbered by the legacy that created it, I think how awful it is that this tiny creature has done nothing so far but grow and thrive and blossom within me and still it is shrouded in the tragedy that preceded it. I wonder, if it does make it out alive, will cutting the cord relieve it of the enormous burden that is it's past? Will I be able to separate this baby from the loss of Caleb and let it live a life free from his death? If I can get this baby to a safe place outside of me, will that release us, all three of us, from the ties that now hold us so closely together that I can't extricate any of us from each other?
The mind games are exhausting. The waiting, eternity. It's enough to make a girl crazier than she already is, trying to explain to people how, "No, you're not excited yet." People don't get it. How can you not be excited with only 2 weeks to go?????? Oh, I can tell you how, you just won't like the story. You'll think I'm crazy. And you'll be right.
Let the countdown begin...

Friday, October 31, 2008

What if?

He did it. My doc that is. He put the date back to the original date. The delivery date that is. He told me how many calls he had to make, who he had to talk to, and finally, that he changed the date back. He also told me that after yesterday, if I do go into labor, he's not stopping it. The nurse came in and gave me another gift bag. You know how when you are first pregnant they give you the goodie bag full of prenatals and formula sign-ups (although a certain company may be rethinking that thanks to the remarkably well written letter by CLC) and the magazines about your baby's growth...I have received that particular 'gift' bag 6 times, well, 7 actually, once I left it in the office on purpose and then this last time I never even took it out of my trunk. I didn't want another one to line up against the wall in my closet, like the others, filled with unfulfilled life and unused vitamins and a few ultrasound pictures that gave promise to a future that was not to be.

Yesterday I got this new bag. It's a diaper bag, it's filled with ice packs for keeping breast milk cool, a changing pad, a carry all that rolls up all tidy for holding and organizing diaper changing essentials, and some magazines about caring for your newborn. I didn't open when she gave it to me. She handed it to me and said, "Here you go darling, since you're at the beginning of the end of this whole thing." That one is still sitting in my car. Opened, thanks to my daughter who loves a goodie bag, but not brought in to the inner sanctum.

This weekend as we set our clocks back and attend soccer games and swim meets, we will be frantically trying to get our house ready for the potential of a live baby. We put it off as long as we could, waiting to see if the efforts would be futile. I know they still can be. But what if they aren't. What if?

P.S. Please go over and give my beautiful friend C., some extra love and hand holding as she remembers her sweet little boy Callum, lost to all of us one year ago today.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Come rain or come shine

13 years ago I married the man I love. 13 years ago we stood together and imagined a future together, a future that was filled with all the hope and promise two young twenty-somethings with the world at their feet could imagine. We lived in a city we loved, we had careers blossoming in front of us, we had our families and friends standing beside us and in our minds we had it all.

So much has happened in the last 13 years, much we didn't expect or plan and yet we have walked, at times stumbled or crawled and yes, even allowed ourselves to be carried, as we made our way through it together. We left the city we loved and two good jobs because when you found out we were going to be parents you wanted to move close to my family so our child would know the love I had growing up, you wanted to give your child what you never had. You were already a selfless father, even before you knew your child. You respected my choice to stay home and raise our son, even though it meant camping out at the in laws a wee bit longer than expected, okay a lot longer than expected, before we could join the ranks of the landed gentry and home of the indebted.

You have stood beside me as we welcomed each new child into our lives, two who have brought more joy into our hearts than we ever could have imagined and one whose death has brought more pain than we have ever known. I have seen you look at your newly born children with both the awe and humility that a newborn inspires and the anguish and disbelief that stillbirth bestows. In the last thirteen years, we have celebrated life and we have endured death, together.

Thirteen years ago we vowed to stay together, through the good and the bad, never knowing how much of either we would have. We promised to love one another forever, no matter what the future held. We pledged to each other that from that day forward, we would always be there for one another, not just when it was easy and fun but when the days were dark and the future uncertain. We did not know then exactly what those vows and promises would mean to us. We couldn't envision a life of struggle or days, long days, of grief. Those are not the things you dream of on your wedding day. We dreamed of joy, of success, of children and a home. We dreamed of the things we wanted and never thought the bad the things would come our way.

Who does?

And in the last thirteen years we have been lucky to have had more of the good than the bad. While it hasn't always come easy, we have managed, together, to always make what we have feel like the best thing there is, for us. We still have dreams left to be fulfilled, we still have hopes that give us something to reach for, and of course, we still have each other.

I know now, more than I ever did thirteen years ago that the future, our future, holds no guarantees. I know it will be laced with good things and I know that bad things will thread their way into our lives. There is no stopping them. But I also know now, that you will be true to your words, that you will stand by me when the rain comes, that you will hold my hand when I feel alone and that you will hold me when I feel empty. I know that you will carry me when I feel I can't go on. I know now that you will tell me I can and I will believe you. I know that while you may not be able to find your keys or your shoes or your wallet, or your long lost wedding ring, you will always find your way home to me, to us.

So today, after thirteen years, I say thank you for all that you have given me and all that we have shared together. I look back and think to myself, so this is marriage. This is the real deal. I hope that this thirteenth year brings us more good than the last two years have. I hope that we have a respite from the struggle and can take a moment or maybe even two, to just recognize all that we do have and enjoy it simply for what it is, without thinking about what it is not.

I am grateful beyond measure for all of it, I would be lying if I said there is nothing I would change, but I can also say that even with the loss of our son I have been able to see things, good things, that I had not known before and never would have known had he not died. I do not believe this gives his death a reason or an explanation or his life a purpose, but I do believe that I can take some meaning, some measure of learning from the tragedy that his death was.

Thirteen years. Here's to the next thirteen times four or five. I still love you more and I will love you always, come rain or come shine.

ETA: I don't know what is up with the cartoon but here's our song....the one I will only ever dance to with you.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

My puffy hearted friend G., tagged me for this meme. What a fun way to avoid doing all the crapola I am supposed to be doing, like organizing an event for Friday night for some 500 or so people. They can wait, the blog-o-verse calls:)

Okay so I have to answer these mind blowers with a single word answer and then pass the joy on to 7 others....Here goes:

1. Where is your cell phone? Table
2. Where is your significant other? Freeway
3. Your hair color? Auburn
4. Your mother? Giver
5. Your father? Hilarious
6. Your favorite thing? laughing
7. Your dream last night? Nada
8. Your dream/goal? Peace
9. The room you are in? Boudoir
10. Your hobby? Wine
11. Your fear? loss
12. Where do you want to be in six years? Someplace
13. Where were you last night? Bed
14. What you're not? Settled
15. One of your wish list items? Health
16. Where you grew up? CA
17. The last thing you did? Cook
18. What are you wearing? Jammies
19. Your T.V.? ??
20. Your pet? Catsssssssssss
21. Your computer? Precious
22. Your mood? Hectic
23. Missing someone? Everyday
24. Your car? Dirty
25. Something you're not wearing? shoes
26. Favorite store? Books
27. Your Summer? Unfinished
28. Love someone? Yep
29. Your favorite color? Green
30. When is the last time you laughed? Today
31. Last time you cried? Saturday

Ok, now you know more or less than you did before....Hmmmm 7 people., Let's see, how about Charmer, Rosalind, Kate, Sue, Sarah, Ange and Ya Chun.

Have fun ladies!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


I have seen commercials for this program for a few weeks now. I have debated mentioning it here because I really want this space to be about Caleb, about my journey in life after him. But this particular topic is so wrapped up in all that I have come to know here in db land, I felt the need to say something.
I am really angry about it. I haven't seen it yet, as it hasn't aired, but everything I have read so far, shows me a really irresponsible and heavily slanted perspective of what I can only say is a ridiculously naive decision by mothers who think they are doing right by their babies.
The US has a relatively high morbidity rate for childbirth given the 'development' of our nation. Some of this can be attributed to lower income, uneducated, young mothers who don't seek out prenatal care, who are substance abusers or who literally choose to ignore their pregnancy because they just don't know what else to do. In my state, where we have a very high percentage of illegal immigrants, many are afraid to seek out medical care because of deportation. But when their babies are born here, with a 'poor outcome' they become a part of the US birth statistics, good or bad. Another part of the statistic is us. The dead baby moms. We all know that for most of us, ending up here on the wrong side of the numbers, had nothing to do with the medical care we received. Not all of us, but most of us. In fact, as some of us here have managed to get lucky enough to have a subsequent pregnancy, we have invited, if not begged the medical community, for even more intervention in a desperate attempt of avoiding another 'bad outcome'.
What gets me so angry about this show is that it defies all of the medical advances made in bringing babies into the world safely. It encourages simple-mindedness and uninformed decision making. It tells women that the medical community is suspect and has nothing to offer in childbirth that they can't do at home. The women I have seen interviewed so far for this 'show' have said things like "I am the safest one to deliver my child into this world" or "I don't need any prenatal care from a doctor, I can do it at home". And while I am quite aware that in many cases you can get lucky and be right about either of those statements, there are also many cases where that is 100% wrong and the baby is put into far worse jeopardy because of the blind arrogance of the mother.
The irresponsibility of a program like this shakes me to the core. And while it remains to be seen I seriously doubt that they will do justice to all of the 'bad outcomes' that result from the 'free.birth' philosophy. They will not talk about mothers who lost babies because of undiagnosed GD, or other manageable blood disorders, they will not talk about babies lost to IUGR or babies born with undiagnosed congenital defects that could have been treated in utero or at least could have been born where a neonatology team was waiting for the baby. They will not, I am sure, feature any babies STILLBORN, to these 'mothers'. They will feature only successful outcomes, happy babies, happy families beaming proudly at how they 'escaped' the big bad medical community and all of its invasive technology and went and had a healthy baby anyway. They will encourage other mothers to make the same misguided decision. They will, intentionally or not, put other mothers and babies at risk by featuring this "birthing philosophy".
I wish they would produce a program that spoke to the issues of what can go wrong. A program that talks about what life looks like on the other side of the statistics. I wish that someone was brave enough to put our faces on a program to show that pregnancy loss, stillbirth and neonatal death happens to 'normal' people like us. We are not freaks, we are not drug abusers or impoverished, malnourished women living in huts. We walk by you on the street, we smile at you in grocery stores, we drive by you on the highway. We are not mothers who shunned the medical community and then had our babies die. We did everything we could that was available to us and still came home with empty arms and tiny ash filled boxes. I wish when they produced a show like the one I talk about here, they would show the real story, the real consequence of a bad decision like the one these mothers make. I wish they would talk about the real meaning of the numbers behind the statistics and instead of saying "Is this the right way to go in childbirth" they would say "Why this is such a ridiculously dangerous decision..."
I want to watch the show but I am already so jaded by what I have seen I don't know if I will be able to stomach it.
I get that sometimes babies die, I get it. I know we will never ever be able to eliminate entirely that horrible tragedy from this earth. But seriously, do we have to watch while others choose to make it more likely? Seriously?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Leprechaun Landing update

I finally talked to my doctor about the delivery date. I had my 'speech' all planned out with point by point reasons why the new due date wasn't going to work and what all of my issues were with this delay and why I should be considered ahead of 'routine' C-Sections etc., etc., and I practiced in my head on the drive all the way to the office. When my appointment came and he was done with all of the regular measuring and poking, he helped me sit up and I opened my mouth to begin my rationed, well thought out arguments and out came "I don't' want this baby to die, please change the delivery date to something sooner, please." I did manage to say it without crying, that's always a bonus. I hate crying in front of people, it's like laughing in church, if I start I can't stop and it, the crying, is always worse than it would have been if I had been alone.
Today, the water works stopped short of spilling over and just brimmed the eyes as I begged, much more sophisticated right?
Kind doctor stopped what he was doing, writing his forever noted in my chart, he writes EVERYTHING down, (my friend who referred him to me or me to him however you look at it, said if you told him you found a $10 bill he'd write it down so he could ask you about it at your next appt., I think she's right) and he explained to me why his hands were 'tied' by the hospital as far as due dates and scheduled C-Sections. I guess my hospital has strict guidelines, set by the neonatoligists (we have a renowned Children's Hospital attached to where I deliever) that dictates 39 weeks. My chosen dates put me according to their 'wheel of gestation' at 38 weeks 5 days and 6 days. He told me about the studies on babies born by scheduled C-Sections, which I have read, that indicate a higher percentage of lung issues and NICU stays with babies taken out too soon, i.e. before 39 weeks, especially where there has not been any labor. He also told me he absolutely understands my anxiety and why I would not want to wait any longer than I have to to deliver.
He is going to call the hospital himself, not his scheduling nurse to try and get the date moved based on my history and see if the neonatoligists will waive the guideline. If not he also suggested as an option,, I like options, that at 36 or 37 weeks we can do an amnio and check the leprechauns lungs for development/maturity and if they are ok, then we could deliver even earlier, like right at 38 weeks or sooner, if I choose to.
He's going to let me know. I'm good with that.
So far everything else is still good. I've had my twice a week stress tests and all looks ok with the wee one. Heart rate is steady and reactive, movement is good. The only wrinkle are the contractions I'm having but as of now they don't seem to be to worrisome. I just have to lie down if they start and they usually mellow out. For now anyway.
Thanks for all of the support and words of wisdom, they really do help.
Keep your fingers crossed for the safe arrival of my little leprechaun, we both need it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Please stop for a moment at 7:00p.m. tonight and remember all of our babies. Gone from our presence but never far from our thoughts and always in our hearts. Light a candle and hope that one day, some day, no one will know the pain and devastation of stillbirth.

I miss you baby Caleb.

Friday, October 10, 2008

In which she tries to explain...

Hmmmm, this one is a hard one. My last post may have given the wrong message. I am not leaving db land. Can anyone really ever leave? I mean, no matter what happens in our lives we will all still have our past right? Our children, gone from us physically, will never be far from our hearts or our minds and because of that will always be a part of who we are. At least that is how I see it.
So when I spoke of boarding a ship and looking forward I did not mean to imply or insinuate that I would be leaving everything here behind. Instead, what I find happening within me, is that the more I focus on what I lost and what we all lost, the harder it is for me to believe that any other outcome for me is possible. My own child has become a daily reminder of how quickly everything can go so drastically wrong. When I look at his tiny footprint or his small but perfect hand print, where I used to feel sadness and an aching deep within me that choked my throat, now I feel terror and I have to look away. I have come to a place where reminders of my own son actually terrify me. I fight this everyday. I don't want to fear my child. I don't want thoughts of him to cause me panic and dread. I thought it was enough to have to mourn and grieve and long for him. As hard as those feelings are to live with, they were natural, normal. They are a part of the love that I have for him, the part that misses him and who he might have been. They were sad but beautiful. They were pure and I accepted them as part of who I was as a mother to a dead baby.
These new feelings are raw and ugly to me. I don't like them at all. They feel unnatural and they feel like a betrayal, to him, to me, to every db mom out there. They are the feelings of someone who has never known this world we live in, and that is not me. It is the reaction of someone who has never seen a picture of a dead baby and looks away in horror and can not see the beauty that has been stolen from our world, who sees only the dead baby and not the life that was ripped away. I came to know a different view, being in the club. I could stare for hours at a picture of a dead baby and imagine all of the things that child might have known. I didn't see a dead baby, I saw a child, a life, a mothers love and heartache. I saw potential and promise and dreams and I never had to look away out of shock or denial. I never had to shield my eyes from the reality of what I was looking at. I knew their stories, I knew their names and I wanted to know their faces too. For someone who hasn't been here with us, the pictures are often too much for them. They don't want to see the reality of stillbirth. They don't want to know that indeed, those babies are very much, real. They have eyes and ears and mouths and hair. They have tiny perfect hands and feet, they have everything a living baby has, except life. Friends tell me even now, they can't imagine looking at a picture of a dead baby. "It's just too awful to imagine" they say, much less actually look at.
And now I find myself back there. I am afraid to look, afraid to acknowledge these beautiful babies. I don't want to know anymore, I want to pretend that they aren't here, that they don't exist, that they aren't real. Even though I know I am just pretending. Even when it comes to my own child. I want to look forward and say (and actually believe) "Those things almost never happen".
I want to be able to tell this baby, as I wrap my arms around my belly, "You are going to be ok." and instead I say, "Please, hang in there a few more weeks and then we'll get you out." Well meaning friends say to me, "You're good now, the baby is big enough to be ok if it comes out. Stop worrying." But they don't know what I know. They don't know who I know. And so I tell them. It's not all about dates and timing. I tell them about my reality. I tell them about C., and Callum, who at 34 weeks found out that things go wrong, I tell them about Charmer and Paige who found out at 40 weeks, or Christine and Olive Lucy who found out during labor, or Coggy and Jacob who found out at 42 weeks, or Tash and sweet Maddy who found out after delivery, I tell them about all of you, too many to list...I tell them, you can never know, until you know. The rest is all guessing and a hell of a lot of blind faith.
But some days, it is too much for me. I just want to look out beyond the horizon and not look back. I want to find a place where babies don't die and everyone gets a happy ending. But I know, boy do I know, that place only exists in fantasies.
When I speak of leaving, of disappearing from view, I speak of this strange place where I am. A place somewhere in the middle, somewhere along the horizon where I can see both db land and occasionally catch a glimpse of live baby land. And as I float here, I wonder who can really see me anymore. I think for those who have not yet been able to join me (and the others who have manged to get pg), we might seem gone to you, never to return. To those who have already had a baby after, you may see us coming but know full well that you can't say to us, "Don't worry, you'll get here too". Because we all know, we might not. And so we straddle this line, walking, floating, between the two worlds. Waiting to see, will our future take place in both or will we return solely to the one we want to leave, even though we know, we never really do leave.
So please, be patient with me as I try to navigate these unfamiliar waters. I still need the security of those who know where I have been and I desperately need the assurances of those who are where I long to be.
And at some point in the next 5 to 6 weeks, I want to find my way to the place where thoughts of my son don't terrify me to my core.
At some point in the next 5 to 6 weeks, I want to know that I am not failing any of my children, the two that I have here, the one that has gone from me and the one whose future is still unknown.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I am standing upon the seashore. A ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean. She is an object of beauty and strength, and I stand and watch until at last she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, "There she goes!"
Gone where? Gone from my sight ... that is all. She is just as large in mast and hull and spar as she was when she left my side and just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of destination. Her diminished size is in me, not in her. And just at the moment when someone at my side says, "There she goes! there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, "Here she comes!"*

I have been thinking about these words a lot lately. They speak to me of this unbelievably scary journey I am on. When I first joined this club of ours, I was lost, I was alone and I thought I would never find another who understood all of what I was going through. And then I found you. All of you. And together, we stood on the beach as we watched our own individual ships disappear from sight. I took and take to this day, great comfort in knowing that beside me were others who knew the pain of watching that ship diminish from view. Others who could remember the beauty it once held, the promise it offered, the hope it once danced with on the waves as it made it's journey, a journey that we were never allowed enjoy.

As time has passed we have all taken steps to start to turn our heads away from the horizon. To stop the incessant fixation with the ship that has disappeared from our view. To look to something other than the empty sea for comfort.

For me, I have been walking a path, parallel to the beach, keeping the horizon firmly in sight for the last 33 weeks. Only now it seems that I am on the pier. I can still see and feel and talk to everyone on the beach but I have one foot stepping out onto another ship. To some of my friends here it may seem that 33 weeks ago I put both feet on it and left the port, but I didn't. I held on to all of you and dropped anchor right next to you, firm in my belief that this was where I belonged. That this was where I was safe. Embarking on another journey, pushing off from shore seemed more than I could bear or dare to even dream about.

But now I feel the pull, the need to completely board, to lift my other foot off the pier and let myself go into the unknown vastness of this other journey. The tides are too strong for me to hold her back, to keep her tethered to the pier. She needs to go. It is her time to travel and I am wrong to deny her her destiny. But as I stand on her, I am drawn not to the bow where I can see where she is headed but to the stern where I can look back and draw comfort from those that I have known, who know me and know why I want to stay. At the same time I know most of us have watched as other ships have sailed and wished that we were going with them. We know it isn't an easy ride, the waves come and threaten to destroy us at any moment. And still we long to know what is on the other side. Who is waiting for us there.

I think of Julia and Ashliegh who I know are on the other side. I wonder will I see them. Will I make it to their destination. Can I survive this journey, can we survive this crossing.

I am on the ship now. Destination unknown. I feel the quiet movements inside me of another passenger who begs me to look forward, who pleads with me to believe this ship will survive the passage and will deliver us both into the waiting arms of another group of women who have gone before us.

I look back to the beach and implore with my whole being, please stay there so I know where to go if I fail and then I look out to the vast horizon, desperate to see the tiniest fleck of land, the smallest light that says we are here, keep going, and I feel myself disappearing from view and at the same time not yet visible to anyone waiting on the other side. I can hear you say "There she goes." but I can not yet hear the words I so long for, "Here she comes!"

**A Parable of Immortality, Henry Van Dyke

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Can't people just get it already???

I'm annoyed. I'll warn you now this a whining post about the potential 'birth' of this baby. So feel free to look away and I'll understand.
I saw my OB today and he told me that the two dates I had chosen last time were not available when they called. The OR's were booked. So they rescheduled, without asking me, for the following Friday. There are many reasons why this is bothering me. One, I don't want to deliver on a Friday because that means I will spend the weekend in the hospital. What this means at my hospital, is that it will be crowded, loud, noisy and the nurses will be understaffed and over busy. This is the best hospital in the area. It has a Children's Hospital attached. It has everything you want as a high risk OB patient both for my care and for any potential complications for the baby. But it is also right in the middle of a 'not so nice' area and serves the uninsured and the indigent population that surrounds it. My experience with the Ob floor is that the nurses spend a great deal of their time chasing large families who defy the visiting rules, i.e no children, no more than 2 visitors per patient at a time etc.. off the floor. On the weekends this is many, many times worse. Many of these families bring sickly kids, lots of them and then have them running around on the floor, "just for a few minutes" while so and so says hi, blah blah blah. It's loud, it's annoying and I don't want to deal with it. It boils down to any needs of mine or any other patient coming second to having to ask for the nurses to first act as sheriff and then, please bring me my baby. Preferably down a hallway that isn't littered with kids and germs and strangers. Also, if you do the math, that Friday happens to be the Friday before Thanksgiving. Which isn't that big of a deal but it does mean that I'll be released the Monday before and will be the most neediest the week of Thanksgiving, not so great when your husband is in the Hotel industry. Finally, pushing the delivery back to that Friday, puts me at almost 40 weeks. I DID NOT want to go that far. I wanted the baby out at 38 weeks. My doc says that isn't the "current medical standard" for scheduled c-sections. So he offered up the early dates that I went with last time, which were a Monday and Tuesday. Now I am Friday. And I am pissed. Shouldn't I be at the front of the line? Shouldn't they have pushed me in, for Christs sake, what do you have to do to get a little preferential treatment? Wasn't my baby dying enough??? Should I really have to beg for this???? I was so stunned I didn't say anything in the office because the news was followed up with the "OK, we are starting your stress testing today, twice a week and the amniotic fluid level checks. Come with me to the nurse who will schedule everything". I followed along and it wasn't until I was done scheduling all of that, that I really had time to think about the new date.
Now I have and I don't like it. Does anyone have thoughts on the 38 week 'standard'? I know I have to make a phone call, I just hate having to fight over stupid shit like this. It's hard enough for me to even wrap my head around believing my baby will be born alive much less having to battle over when that day might be.
God, I am so tired. I think the stress is getting to me and the closer I get, the more worried I have become and everything is setting me off. Why do I have to keep explaining that to everyone. Why does it seem like I am the only one this has ever happened to, otherwise wouldn't the doctors office have pushed to get me in on the dates I chose? Can't people see how hard this is? Do they not get that everyday longer is another day that this baby might die? Even if they don't see it that way, can't they at least see why I might feel like that?
Fuck. Why can't people just get it already????