Thursday, June 30, 2005

I don't mean to sound like a bitch

I don't mean to sounds like a bitch, but I'm calling to see if there is a reason my baby died. Do you think you could stop putting me off and get me some damn answers?

OK...vent done...I'm calm now. :o)

I called the doctor at 2pm. The first reason was to get the birth control pill prescription I forgot when we were there last week.

The second reason was to get the results of the diabetes screen I did last week at my six week checkup. Surprise, surprise...all normal...no diabetes for me...not even what they would call pre-diabetic.

The third reason...Is the final autopsy report in? We'll have to call you back. I waited two hours and got no phone call back, so I called them again. The nurse tells me she put the file in the doctor's office and she'll call me back when she can...she's busy today.

I asked, "Is there some reason the doctor has to tell me and you can't?"

The nurse, who obviously couldn't remember the reason I called in the first place, said, "Well the doctor is going to have to approve your prescription."

"Uh...yeah...I'm well aware of that. But is the final autopsy report in yet?"

"Oh, well that I'm waiting to receive."

"So it's done?"

"I'm waiting to see what they fax me, I called pathology and asked them to fax it, but I believe it's the final report. If you don't hear back from us by about 11am tomorrow, give us a call back. Like I said, Dr. S is very busy today with patients."

Now I really don't mean to sound bitchy...I realize my baby is dead and all...so patients with living babies still to deal with should be a priority...but do you think you could give me something here?!?! I have to call YOU? OVER AND OVER? until I get some answers? And you don't even know if what they're faxing you is what I'm looking for? So what exactly did you ask them when you called pathology? It seems a simple question...is the final autopsy report prepared yet? How could you NOT know what they are faxing you?

I think this cinches it...I'm finding a new doctor. This place sucks.

Maybe the vent isn't over...cause I'm still feeling pissed off.

Sam is sick

He's got some intestinal/stomach bug that is a real treat.

I hate it when I can't make him feel better.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Welcome to the world Baby Quinn

My friend Misty had her baby boy today. She had a long and very difficult pregnancy with multiple hospitalizations. At 3 o'clock they started pitocin. At 5:23 Quinnen Robert came out after one push. 7lb 3-1/2 ounces, 19 inches, BROWN hair (her other two have red hair). Both of them are GREAT.

Congratulations Misty & Frank & Chance & Abby

Welcome to the world Baby Quinn!

I'm so happy, sad, jealous, angry...you name it...it's all rolled into one.

Why did you say that?

Since Alex died, I have replayed several conversations in my head repeatedly. I'm sure it has something to do with the guilt complex I've got going on. So I'm hoping that by giving them a voice "out loud" here, they will go away and leave me alone.
------------------------------------------
After Sam was born, our neighbor never came over to wish us congratulations. We saw her several months later and she explained that she saw my hospital admission and discharge in the newspaper, but no mention of a baby, so she didn't want to say anything because she thought something might have gone wrong, but she wasn't sure. I laughed. I actually laughed at the thought.
------------------------------------------
While listening to Sam scream from the living room for over an hour one night (some two year old temper tantrum), Steve and I were in the bedroom and I looked at him and said, "Yeah, let's have two. Who thought that was a good idea?"
------------------------------------------
My response to the nurse asking, "Feeling the baby move?"
"uh...yeah...and he kicks HARD."
------------------------------------------
Several times at work in response to, "How are you feeling?"
I said, "So great, I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop."
------------------------------------------
Walking to the car after work one day, a colleague shouted across the parking lot, "Girl, when ARE you due? You're huge!"
I laughed, "I know, I know."
------------------------------------------
Sittng in the doctor's office waiting room the morning we found out Alex was gone, this very blonde lady sitting two chairs away smiled at me and said, "When are you due."
I quietly said, "June 9th."
She cheerfully quipped back, "It's not long now."
If she only knew.
------------------------------------------
To calm my co-worker's fears about pregnancy and childbirth I said, "Don't worry about it...you'll be FINE."
How arrogant.
------------------------------------------

God help me, I will watch what I say from now on.

My Great-Aunt Rose Died

She passed away peacefully.

She was 89 years old.

She was my mom's Godmother.

She threw a mean Christmas party.

I haven't seen her in years. I think the last time was some time before Steve and I were married, and we've been married for almost eleven years now. So I haven't seen her in more than a decade. There are a lot of complicating factors in my family that explain why I haven't seen Aunt Rose in such a long time. None of which are really relevant now.

All of my memories of Aunt Rose are from when I was a child, save for that last visit when I was in my late teens or early twenties. And they are all centered around our yearly Christmas celebration. I remember the layout of her house. I remember a fireplace in the living room that was too warm for the room. I remember the plastic slipcover on the sofa. I remember this ceramic Christmas tree that was so typically cheesey and Polish that I simply loved it. I remember Aunt Rose in the kitchen with all the women in the family, creating a feast that could feed five families. There's something about Polish women who lived through the Depression (at least in my family)...They LOVE to feed their families. I remember the dining room table filled with all sorts of wonderful dishes. The house smelled like ham and turkey, Chanel No. 5 and Aqua Net. I remember Aunt Rose's voice as she told stories and laughed in that loud Polish voice that I have obviously inherited from that side of my family.

But most of all, I remember that even though we only saw her once a year, Aunt Rose ALWAYS knew what was going on with us. She didn't have to ask what we were doing in school, because she always knew. She always asked pointed questions about the school play we were doing, or how our Christmas concert went. I suspect there was some sort of Bermuda-triangle type communication system going on there...Mom to Grandma to Aunt Rose. But however it happened, she made us feel like we weren't once-a-year family...but year-round family. She always welcomed us into her home with a smile and a hug that could squeeze the suffing right out of you.

In our last visit with Aunt Rose, I remember those childhood memories rushing back to me as we sat on that sofa with the plastic slipcover. The house was dark and there was no fire in the fireplace. There was no food on the table, no ceramic Christmas tree, no laughter in the kitchen. The house smelled...empty. I remember wondering if I had imagined it all. And then Aunt Rose met us at the door with a huge smile and that hug the welcomed us. She didn't know all about us anymore, but she was still interested...and interesting.

I understand that Aunt Rose had gotten frail in these last few years. I'm sorry I didn't go to see her at least once so she could meet my family. I know she would have scared Steve to death, much like my Grandma does. There's something about us loud Polish women I don't think he'll ever quite "get." But I'm glad too. I still have those Christmas party memories to hold onto. I can still see and hear Aunt Rose laughing and loud...and full of life.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

This is making me crazy

Now I know how Steve feels when I tell him he can't just fix my problems...that he just needs to listen. I want to do something, anything, that will move me forward. I don't want to be told that time will ease the pain and I should just wait it out. I don't want to hear that it's different for everyone...how long it takes to heal even a little bit. I want some concrete answers. I want a plan of action. I don't want to be healed...I just want to know when I can look forward to feeling even a little bit better. Take your time. That's what you tell someone when you have no clue what else to tell them! How about some hope here?

Steve...I'm sorry I ever yelled at you for trying to fix my problems. This helplessness is awful.

Going Postal

The sadness is a given. Everyone expects that and is tolerant when I tear up over the littlest gesture of kindness. But what do I do with the anger? the hatred? the outright venom that I want to spew all over the freakin place?

There is this part of me that find great solace in being able to cry freely. I know I can close my office door and have a good sob when I need to. I now have Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms hanging on my office wall to examine when I have to deal with a particularly difficult phone call. I'm learning to cope.

But then there is the part of me that wants to smash something. I want to kick and hit and bite (nobody in particular...just everyone I see). I want to throw things and tear up anything even remotely destructable. It's funny too because none of it is directed at myself. The experts say to watch for self-destructive behaviors when you're grieving. I have yet to hear of anyone warning about the possibility that I might want to go on a homicidal rampage. I guess that would be self-destructive in a way, but it's really just outwardly directed at the universe in general.

And I can't do it. My office is...well...my office...and I don't want to get fired. In my car, I need to maintain my senses in order to get safely to my destination. At home I have dogs, a child, and a husband who all need me to not lose control. It would probably frighten all of them if I went on a mad rampage. Heck, it frightens me.

I've read a couple of those self-help grief books and they suggest starting an exercise routine. Apparently the physical exertion helps to take the edge off. And since I still have 5 lbs baby weight to lose, on top of the 50 or so just plain fat pounds I should lose, I'm going to give it a try. I'm going to hate every step of it...but if it makes me feel less like running over the little old lady in the grocery store parking lot, it'll be worth it.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Do you believe in signs?

I believe in signs. I always have. And today I NEED to believe in them.

I was having a particularly rough day so I decided to go out to the cemetery and water Alex's flowers. I said, "I love you Alex," turned to leave, and saw the most amazing green hummingbird hovering under the tree my car was parked nearest to. It stopped me dead in my tracks as it hung there in mid-air for a few seconds and the flitted off across the field and into the woods.

Thank you Alex...I love you.

Do you pray?

I've never thought of myself as a particularly spiritual person. I tried church when I was still in middle/high school but fell out of the practice. Then I tried attending again in college a few times. And while I immensely enjoyed the experience, I couldn't drag myself out of bed on Sunday mornings after a week of late night studying (I had a tough course load and was a nerd).

But I have always prayed. But I've come to realize that I've always prayed the juvenile prayers everyone has for special "favors" from God. I pray when I want something. Why? Where in the world did I get the concept that I could ask God to deliver a puppy, an "A" on a test, or a successful surgery for my grandmother? And where did I get the notion that if God doesn't answer my prayers, it must be for some divine plan? He has his reasons?

I've been doing a lot of praying lately. But I know I can't have what I truly want. I know there will be no miracles and no happy ending. And now I'm wondering what I'm really praying for. If I pray that God takes care of my Alex in heaven, I'm asking for a favor. And if I pray that we find some answers as to why this happened, I'm expecting something. Even if I pray for just the strength to get through...to put the pieces of my life back together again...I'm asking for handouts. Surely, God is tired of hearing from me with all my "I wants and gimmes."

So what do I pray for? Why bother?

Someone suggested I pray a prayer of thanks. Instead of asking for more blessings, raise up my voice to thank God for those blessings I already have. Normally, this would sound like a great idea. But right now it just really ticks me off. So maybe I shouldn't be praying at all. Instead of adding my voice of constant want and need to the already overcrowded heavenly pipeline, I should just be silent for a while and listen. Maybe it's just not necessary to pray if you can't think of anything to say beyond, "Please give me..." The "thank yous" will probably come back some day. But for right now I just don't have them in me.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Update on the trim

Well...the trim is up. The furniture has been moved. Most everything on my panic attack list has now been taken care of.

And the "baby's room"...Alex's room...now all "put together"...sits unoccupied.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Who am I?

I don't know who to be.

And I'm tired of people either (1) telling me who I should be; or (2) simply expecting I'm going to be the same person I was before Alex died.

I am different.

I am tired and angry and sad.

------------------------------------------

Today we went to the cemetery and put out little stars and stripes pinwheels for the baby graves. Some of them obviously are not visited often, if at all. There is this one, off by itself, that called out to me and was the inspiration for this particular decorating episode. Little Andrew Huitt. Born in 1927. Died in 1928. There are no decorations and there is no family buried nearby. I wonder if anyone ever speaks his name out loud anymore.

There are other stones there to mark the graves of babies. Some don't even have first names. Some only have "Baby" and a last name. No indication of whether the baby was a boy or a girl. No story shared about how that child's parents came to bury them in that place.

While we were there, Steve said this was a good idea and that he hopes that some day, years from now, someone will remember our Alex in the same way. I do too.

------------------------------------------

We picked up our Sam's third birthday pictures. They're gorgeous.

Wanna see them?

Off to scan them in...

Friday, June 24, 2005

No Sh!t

"That's not something you get over easily."

Add your own editorial comments here.

I've been thinking about this...

Your comments were duly noted. And please don't think I'm on the verge of a breakdown. I am quite comfortable with the idea that I followed medical advice during my pregnancy. And I know I did everything I should have done according to that medical advice. And I've been thinking about it and I really can't even say the doctors should have known something was off.

I had an ultrasound January 26th at 18 weeks and his size was right on track for June 9th delivery. She said everything looked exactly as it should. I had a blood test on February 21st, no GD. I had another blood test on April 1st, no GD. My next u/s was scheduled for May 26, fifteen days after Alex was already gone. Something obviously went horribly wrong between April 1st and May 11th, as far as his size. There is no denying that fact. Even if we discount his weight...he was 20 freaking inches long at 35 weeks, 5 days! He topped all the charts. He would have been a pro basketball player by the time he was born if he had lived.

I have speculations about what went wrong, but I'm not a doctor (though I'm beginning to wonder if I know just as much as they do). Whether Alex's size ultimately killed him or not, remains to be seen...I know that. But it does me no good to hide my head and pretend it didn't happen, or that my body didn't play some role in making it happen. If I decide to have another baby, this will be valuable information that could save his/her life. I have to face that reality.

Sure, I can't help but wonder if there was anything I could have done to change the outcome. I think about, "what if I had done this, or not done that?" What if I had requested a blood sugar monitor to be on the safe side (I had it with my first child, so maybe I should have considered it odd that I didn't have it this time)? What if I had insisted on another u/s sooner? What if I had talked about how unusually hard Alex was kicking me? What if I hadn't eaten the Easter candy? What if I had gone to see the doctor sooner about my sinus infection and asked about how it might affect my blood glucose? What if I had been doing recorded kick counts and not been lulled into a sense that everything was ok as long as I felt him "regularly?"

But as Steve says, hindsight is 20/20. It's not going to bring Alex back. So we move forward with whatever information we have.

I appreciate everyone's concern for my mental well-being. And I appreciate the idea that there could be some other explanation for Alex's death. BUT...even if there is another explanation for his passing, I still have to address the size issue. Sure, maybe he didn't die because he was so big...but he was still big. That is something that points to an obvious problem within my body. I can't pretend otherwise.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

And the answer is...

...there is no answer. So in the absence of an answer, we're guessing it was my fault. Sort of.

I have sooo much blog material, I just might have to make this one in parts.

I called the Doctor's office yesterday to confirm that they would, indeed, have the autopsy results to go over with us. No sense in Steve taking off work if we weren't going to have the mental breakdown that would require his attendance. First, the nurse, Margie (lovely woman), told me that my doctor is on vacation this week. Huh? OK...so who am I seeing? Dr. B...a wonderful doctor who held my hand and helped counsel us through the labor process with Alex--whose name I can not spell because it's Polish and requires at least a couple z's that I can't remember where to place. So, ok, I'll see Dr. B. Will the autopsy results be there? Yes, I was told.

So we got to the doctor's office today. The receptionist checked me in and attempted to collect the required $15 copay for a regular visit. I told her this was a postpartum checkup and she got that chipper little look on her face that people get when they think they're dealing with a new mommy. She said, "Oh...postpartum...I'll change that then." She crossed off the need for the $15 copay and gave me that happy smile that said she obviously had NO idea why I was there. I could have thrown up on her.

Then we got into the exam room and Margie did the obligatory blood pressure check and game of 20 questions. She dutifully noted all the answers in my file and scurried off. While we waited, Steve and I complained to one another that we wished they would leave the file in the room while we were waiting so at least we could snoop through it. Instead, we were left to sit there in silence and contemplate what the doctor was going to tell us.

After what seemed like an incredibly long wait, but I'm sure was only a few minutes, Dr. B. bounced into the exam room, big smile on his face.

"Hi guys, how are you today?"

No response from us...confused looks to on another and small shrugs that indicated we were so-so.

"So what's going on with you?" he happily asked.

It hit me in that moment...this man had no clue who we were or why we were there.

"Um...not much," I replied, a bit at a loss for words.

"I think we may have met once before," he half asked with a questioning look on his face, growing at least a little bit uncomfortable with the situation.

I finally decided to let him off the hook, "Uh, yeah, in the hospital six weeks ago...our baby was stillborn."

Lightbulb on!

He turned and looked quickly at my file. Then turned back and said, "Oh, yes, I remember, you were there for such a long time. How are you doing now?"

OH MY FREAKING HELL!!!

"Well, I've stopped sobbing uncontrollably, so that's progress, right?" I asked.

Nervous laughter all around.

Let's just say the rest of the exam was routine. I don't need to share those details...and I'm sure you don't really want them.

Dr. B. excused himself and said he's like to talk with us in his office...because he's, "sure we have some questions" for him.

We headed over to his office where he was sitting at his desk reading (perhaps for the first time?) what we thought was the autopsy report. WELL...it was only the preliminary autopsy report. Do you know what they put in the preliminary autopsy report? They look at the baby, the placenta and the umbilical cord and write down what they see.

So here's what we got...

Big baby...9lbs 1oz at 35 weeks 5 days (delivery).

No obvious problems other than large size and infection of placenta.

Infection of placenta could have been because of breaking the water and subsequent exams, etc. Infection could have been there before the water was broken, though unlikely because I exhibited no signs of infection until after my water was broken.

So most likely...big baby...uncontrolled gestational diabetes.

Ummmm...Question:
I was tested THREE times. I ate reasonably well according to the gestational diabetes diet. How could I have had gestational diabetes without it showing on even one of those tests? And IF I had it, why was he so big if I was eating healthy?

Answer:
We don't know.

Question:
Will it happen again?

Answer:
We don't know. What we can do is monitor any subsequent pregnancy differently (more) in order to address any problems before they become problems (serial ultrasounds, weekly non-stress tests, recorded kick count exercises, gestational diabetes diet and blood monitoring).

Question:
If the THREE blood test I took showed no gestational diabetes...what good would monitoring do?

Answer:
Well we really don't know if it WAS gestational diabetes, but that's what we can assume from the size of the baby. (notice how he didn't really answer my question?)

Do you notice a theme here? We don't know ANYTHING!

At one point he said to Steve, "Your son was perfectly normal in every way." Uh, yeah, except he was dead! Paging Dr. Clue!

The "positives" to come out of this wasted time today...

We would be considered high risk if we choose to have another baby. We can take our information to a perinatologist for a consult in that case and he can tell us if there is any further special care we should undertake to make sure the next baby comes out alive. We went to the lab to have blood drawn for a fasting blood sugar level and an A1C (I think that's right), to determine if there is an underlying diabetes problem with me. Ummm...hello...THREE tests...nothing. What ARE we looking for? "Well, they'll most likely come back normal." So if I'm normal...why is my baby dead?!?!?!?!

And I'm not a betting person, but I'm not so sure I'm willing to bet that the mystery gestational diabetes, undetectable by all blood tests known to doctors, wouldn't result in another dead baby. That just doesn't seem like a winning bet to me...for some reason.

Steve wants to wait for the final autopsy report before jumping to conclusions (despite the Dr.'s apparent lack of a problem in doing so himself).

OK...I'll give you until the final autopsy report. But then we're both going to have to admit that it was my fault. It wasn't something I did intentionally, and I did what I was supposed to do...so it's not really MY fault as much as it is my body's fault. This, however, does not make me feel all that much better. I did what I was supposed to do...I DID have the perfect pregnancy...and I got a dead baby.

So what guarantees am I going to get for next time? I'm guessing that all the additional monitoring would catch any problems early and we could discuss options at that point. This thought makes me a bit sick to my stomach too, because it essentially says that had I had better monitoring this time, Alex could have lived.

Quite honestly, I feel like they're telling me, "Thanks for playing, please hit reset and try again." They don't seem to realize this isn't a video game. They don't realize that I can't just gamble on, "sometimes these things just happen." Another dead baby could possibly destroy me mentally. And I personally think we owe it to Alex to find out why he didn't get a chance at his own life.

"I don't know" just doesn't seem adequate for any of it.

And next time...maybe somebody could actually KNOW why I'm at the office? Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Cereal and the three-year-old

I bought Sam some Finding Nemo cereal. It's not bad cereal, if you don't count the marshmallows. Of course, that's the only thing he eats is the marshmallows. lol

I could die

I don't know why this realization hit me this morning, or what it means, but it felt like something I needed to blog about. First, let's back up a few steps...

Last night I had this flash of insane need to find the onesie I bought for Alex with the green frogs on it. I have no idea what brought it on, but I asked Steve to run down to the basement to find it for me. Our basement is quite the disaster these days with boxes, carseats, strollers, and the like, once sitting upstairs all cleaned up and ready to go for baby #2, now hastily thrown down there to be hidden so I didn't have to look at them. So as you can imagine, my little freak out was actually a feat of epic proportions for my poor husband. He looked and looked and looked. I knew the box the darn thing was in and it just wasn't in the basement. I could see him, frantically searching, ready to break into tears himself because he couldn't provide the aforementioned onesie.

I, for some reason, had one niggling thought that maybe the missing box was upstairs with the crib. So I ventured up there on my own, did indeed find the box with the onesie right on top, and high-tailed it out of there before having a complete meltdown. The nursery is far from done. In fact it still sits in exactly the same condition as it did the day before Alex died. I think it is that unfinished setup that upsets me. But I digress. I came downstairs with the onesie in hand and told Steve it was upstairs. His reaction? "Thank God." See...I TOLD you he was upset.

Anyway...during our search for the wayward onesie, I found a blanket I had also bought for Alex. It's green and has a cute little giraffe and the word, "Baby," quilted onto it. It's so soft, and it's brand new, and I had to pull it out of the box to have with me. Don't ask me why...Alex never even saw the stupid thing. But I'm apparently suffering some sort of weird mental break, so I had to have it. I put it on top of my wardrobe with the stuffed dog (like the one I bought for Alex that was buried with him).

Oy! This is taking a long time to tell...but I'm thinking all these pieces are important somehow.

This morning I got to sleep in because it's my day off with Sam. I woke up early because I have a headache. Which reminds me, I have to go take some Advil. Be right back...

OK. Headache disposal in progress.

So this morning, I'm lying awake in bed contemplating the meaning of the universe when my eyes come to rest on that blankie and stuffed doggie. I start thinking of Alex buried in the cemetery with his doggie and a blankie I crocheted for him. Then I get to thinking about the other babies in the cemetery and how they are all sort of buried in a couple of groups, but Alex is off by himself because we chose to buy three plots together...a family plot, if you will.

Then it hit me! I could die!

Here I am, trying to work past this grief and learn to cope in everyday life. I'm planning on buying books to learn about stillbirth so I can make an informed decision about whether I want to try to have another baby. I'm looking around for better job opportunities. I'm thinking about Sam starting school in a couple years. But there is no guarantee that I will get to do ANY of that. My headstone could have another sixty, thirty, or two years on it. I could get hit by a bus tomorrow. (I've often used that phrase before and never really contemplated what it meant.) That spot in Mount Pleasant Cemetery is waiting for me...whenever. And there is no way to tell when I will end up there.

I'm a bit shaken by this thought. I have done a lot of things in my 33 years that I am glad I did. But there is so much more to do. As I've said many times before to friends and family...I want my life to be gloriously full of committments and responsibilities and complications. But there are two thoughts I'm left with if I choose a life like that. First, if I die tomorrow, will I be able to say that my life was full enough? Or will people look at my life and say, "It's a shame she never got to......(whatever).......before she died"? And second, if I die tomorrow, will my gloriously full life cause undue complication for those who love me? Have I faced up to my real adult responsibilities and provided for my family's future?

I'm sad to admit right now that the answers to both questions is no.

I have not lived a life that is full enough. There are so many things I have wanted to do with my life that I haven't done because of fear. I'm afraid of risk and change and all that fun stuff that comes with a gloriously full life. I have played it relatively safe. Sure, I have built a pretty full life...but if I look deep down and am really honest, I have to admit that there are still things left to do.

I have not provided for a future for my family. I have no life insurance. I have no funeral arrangements. I don't even have a will and I'm a freakin attorney! And if, God forbid, Steve AND I die, I have made no provisions for Sam. I need to start planning for a real future that includes the possibility of death...instead of this dream I've been living in all this time.

I don't want to leave this world with just unused onesies and blankies.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Why?

I'm not ashamed to admit I have been a member of a message board since I first thought I was pregnant with Sam way back in 2001. I have grown to know the ladies on their like they were extended family. We celebrate with each other, pray for each other, and mourn for each other. I love them like sisters.

Since Alex died I have been unable to post more than a couple of messages on that board (congratulations for friends who have had babies). I find something very annoying about posting about cleaning my house or fixing dinner right now...my issue, I know.

But today I was checking our "calendar" to see when a particular friend's toddler would celebrate his third birthday. I scrolled through the birthday list, which has now been updated to include births that occurred after our Due In June 2002 babies. This includes all babies born in 2003, 2004, and now 2005. 42 babies born since our last June 2002 baby was born. If you scroll through the pages and pages of birthdays, you come to a section at the end..."Our Angels." Alex is alone in that section. I'm touched that they would remember us in that way.

But now I can't stop crying.

All those happy birthdays...Why our Alex?

More customer service stories

I just had the most ridiculous telephone conversation with the receptionist at our large animal vet's office. Dr. Emily (yes, they call her Dr. Emily rather than Dr. Miller...welcome to Little House on the Prairie) is going to vaccinate our horses this afternoon, did we want the straight tetanus or the one with eastern-western?

Having had the horses for a little over a year now, and no real idea what this woman was talking about, I asked, "Ummm...what's the difference?" I was, of course, thinking she would tell me a bit about the illness creating the need for this eastern-western addition to the tetanus vaccine. Nope.

She responds with, I kid you not, "Well, one has eastern-western added to it, rather than just straight tetanus."

I reply with the equally idiotic, "OK...but what IS eastern-western?"

Silence. Shuffling of papers.

"Ummm..."

You have got to be kidding me?!?! I'm supposed to decide whether to give my horse a vaccine and you can't even tell me what it is?

I say, rather calmly (I was proud of myself), "I've only had the horses a year and I didn't get that vaccine last year...what does the doctor recomment?"

More silence. More shuffling of papers.

"Well, it's really up to you."

At this point I'm smiling and trying not to laugh hysterically into the phone.

I decided against the added vaccine...I wonder why.

For those that are wondering, Eastern is Eastern Equine Zncephalomyelitis, a virus commonly referred to as sleeping sickness. Western is Western Equine Encephalomyelitis, its closely related cousin virus. There is also Venezuelan equine encephalitis...another cousin.

Who needs a vet when you have the internet?

Am I supposed to?

I feel like...

-there are things I'm supposed to say and do that I'm just not saying and doing.
-everyone is waiting for me to either fall completely apart or go on like nothing has changed.
-I'm not supposed to be able to string two words together to form a coherent sentence or I'm supposed to be the same old Catherine.
-(to borrow a phrase from someone) there is an invisible sign around my neck that says, "My baby died."
-I'm supposed to find God, or lose God completely...this in-between place I'm at isn't acceptable.
-if I cry or if I smile, I'm doing something wrong.
-I feel like everyone is watching me and judging how I grieve.

Has my grief turned to paranoia? Is this the first step toward all-out mental illness?

Yesterday I heard that the guy in the office next door to mine flew to Vegas and married a girl 20 years his junior. This is his fourth marriage. Everyone was gossiping and had some pretty nasty things to say. I couldn't stomach it, so I said, "I just don't know what to say," and walked away. I think what I was really wondering is, "What do you all say about me when I'm not around?" I mean, really...whose business is it except for him and his new wife? I think I will send them a congratulations and best wishes card.

Did I mention that I "highlighted" my hair and it looks like crap? I think this is one of the reasons they tell you not to make any drastic life decisions or changes for the first year of the grieving process. lol eh...it will grow out...or I'll color it a different color!

Monday, June 20, 2005

It was bound to happen

For the first time since I've been back to work I walked in on two of the women in my office obviously talking about me. I heard, "When she's feeling better," and then that deafening silence that says, "Can you please leave the room so we can finish our conversation about your sad existence?" These are two women who have yet to acknowledge me beyond a polite, "Hello," and some official office business conversation, despite the fact that we previously shared pregnancy talk and were quite friendly (one gave birth about three months ago one (who I've previously blogged about) is due to give birth in a month). I suppose I've become the walking billboard for everything they fear, and I really shouldn't blame them for not acknowledging me or my loss...I guess.

And it's not that I'm naive enough to think people don't gossip about me at the office...but to openly talk about me where I could walk in on it is a bit much...especially since you haven't talked TO me in three weeks. I mean, come on, you have offices with doors! Go in one of them and close the door...I promise I won't care.

I wanted to break down and sob right there, but instead I just lowered my head, scurried about my business, and walked out the door.

Unluckily, one of them was headed out at the same time and I had to endure that awkward walk to the parking lot where she struggled for something to say. "I get to sleep in tomorrow," she chirped too happily. Do I give a sh!t? Nope.

More from Stephen

Well, it’s been almost a week since my last post. Since that time I have had some really good times (this past weekend that I got to spend almost entirely with Cathy and Sam), and some really aggravating times (irritating and insensitive management at work). I knew that father’s day was going to be a hard day, and I have to say that Cathy and Sam, and my in-laws too, did a pretty good job of getting me thru it. Sam decided to remind us that he is not a self-sufficient adult yet, and he does still need us to take care of him. What I mean by that is that he decided to break any record that he pervious had with diapers, and decided that in a two-hour period he would go thru about 5 pair of underwear. In many ways I am truly amazed at how far Sam has come, and how he compares to the other children his age. He talks like a 5 or 6 year old (and sometime like a truck driver), and can get his own food, turn on the TV and find what he likes, and even use the computer by himself (as long as it only involves using the mouse). I am also amazed at what Sam can remember and cling onto. Last week, Sam did not want us to go to work, because he thought that we were going to hospital again (See Cathy’s post about Damage Control). Cathy found out about a conference regarding stillborn babies that will take place this September in Washington D.C., we are considering attending this event, and I hope that it works out that we do, because I would like meet others who have gone thru this in person and share our experiences. I also look forward to learning what is being done for research to find out causes of stillborn death. Well, I have to go now and take a company mandated yearly on line ethics tests now. I will blog again later. Thanks for listening to me, and please excuse the terrible spelling and grammar that will be rampant on my post.

How are you?

The cards, letters, emails, and phone calls have all stopped, but for a few very close friends who don't mind listening to me obsess over and over again. There is a part of me that is glad because it means less that I have to deal with or less that I have to avoid, depending on my mood at the given moment. But there is a part of me that is sadder than before. It seems it only took the rest of the world six weeks to move on...while I'm stuck in pretty much the same place.

That's not entirely true. I was able to string two good days together in a row last week...so that's progress.
-----------------------------
I have my post-partum checkup on Thursday. God bless him, Steve is taking the day off to go with me.

I have to tell you, the anticipation of these "events" is starting to make me a little spastic. First it was the weekly anniversaries. Then the first visit to the OB for my mental health check. Then the return to work. Then the due date. Then the one month mark. Then the return of AF. Then the first birth control pill. Now the post-partum check. I remember when I could go through my daily life with my dayplanner and not get heart palpitations at the thought of seeing something scheduled for that day.

I remember looking at my calendar and being excited to see doctor's appointments. Now I look at my calendar and give an audible sigh of relief when I don't see any appointments scheduled. And then, of course, I remember the reason there are no appointments scheduled is because this was supposed to be my maternity leave, so I purposely kept my schedule clear. So even though there's nothing written in ink, there is still something on my schedule. I'm so tired of seeing ghosts everywhere I turn.

Anyway...maybe we'll get some answers on Thursday. I hope we do. I've prayed that God helps me out with this and doesn't leave me hanging for the rest of my life wondering how/why this happened to Alex. Unlike the "was Oswald the lone shooter" mystery, this one could literally drive me crazy.
-----------------------------
What IS the irony about having to take birth control pills after a stillbirth? Steve and I were trying to figure it out and put it into words and we just couldn't express what it was. Maybe it's just one of those poetic things that is beyond the grasp of an amateur to philosophical writing like me.
-----------------------------
I'm tired of being snuck up on. I log on to eBay...the front page has categories and the third one down is "Baby." It's no different than the other categories, but it seems like this one is in big, bold, flashing letters. I go to the scrapbooking store and there is a whole section of materials for pregnancy and baby. It's no bigger than the other sections really, but it FEELS like it takes up half the store. I get the mail and there are Pampers coupons. I get my email and Hotmail has decided to provide me with an article, "Adjusting to a Second Baby." I'm tired of not being able to look anywhere without wondering when I'm going to break down again.
-----------------------------
My son is three years old and nowhere near potty trained. I'm one of THOSE parents. I even tried bribery and it got me nowhere.
-----------------------------
If one more person talks about "God's plan" to me I'm going to hurt someone.
-----------------------------
So...how are you?

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Dear Steve...

You know I'm not much on public displays of affection, but I wanted to take this time to tell you how much I love you. I love you to the moon and back, sweetheart.

I know this Father's Day isn't what you had hoped for, and I am so sorry I can't make all your dreams come true. There will be so much opportunity this Father's Day to mourn what you have lost, I wanted to take a moment to celebrate all the blessings you have brought to our life together.

You have been my rock for the past five and a half weeks...but you were my rock long before that. You keep me grounded, but give me room to dream (horse farm anyone?). You take care of me when my body is sick or my heart is broken. You laugh and play with our Sam so that he knows the joy of childhood and the love of an amazing father. You teach him the value of hard work and responsibility. We both love you very much.

And Alex. I know he can't be here with you and that makes you dream of all that should have been. Please also take a moment to remember what was. Remember the happiness...the anticipation...and how he blessed our lives for the short time he was here. You know I have my own crisis of faith to deal with, but I truly believe he is with your Dad in heaven and they are having quite the Father's Day celebration. I hope that is some small consolation to you when you miss him today and every day.

We can make it. I know we can make it. You have given me the strength to see that. And we will build a happy life for ourselves and our Sam. If we have to start from scratch...then we'll do it. Because you are a wonderful father and a truly amazing husband.

Happy Father's Day Steve.

Here's to the future...and the past.

Love,
Me & Sam

Saturday, June 18, 2005

OK Maybe Not

So I'm not back in business just yet. It seems one of the puppies is sick, possibly contagious, so the transport is postponed until next weekend. Crap! Now what do I do?

I guess it's time for some more home improvement. We could finally finish the flooring job we started in February. Or maybe I'll go up and finish the guest room (formerly designated to be Sam and Alex's shared room which Sam now wants nothing to do with if he has to be by himself...poor kid). I could go out and repair the fence on the side pasture, but it's cold and wet and I'm not too keen on hard manual labor while trying to keep an eye on Sam at the same time...too much like work. lol

I feel sort of bad because I made Steve get up early and take three of the five dogs to the vet this morning. Not REALLY bad...just SORT OF. hehehe

Maybe I'll just curl up with a cup of coffee and a good book until the motivation to do something productive hits me. Oh, who am I kidding? I'll be curled up all day if I wait for motivation to strike.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Back in business

I've decided that it's time to recapture some of my life. This weekend we'll be transporting and overnighting FIVE puppies. They are coming from a kill shelter and going to a rescue who will find them loving forever homes. I hope some puppy kisses will do me some good. But more than that, this is a cause that's near and dear to my heart. My last transport was our foster dalmatian, Deja, the weekend before Alex died...

You know it is so strange to write that last line because I don't know WHEN Alex died. I know he was dead by Monday morning, but I don't know exactly when he actually died. And it's not really right to say birthday. I mean, I delivered his body, but he wasn't really born. So what do I call it? Alex's heaven day or angel day is just too cheesy for me.

Anyway...

I have all sorts of feelings tied up in that last transport. I have a picture of me all pregnant and smiling in the rain with Deja and Sam. When I look at it I think how utterly naive and clueless I was. I had worked so hard getting applications screened and we were so thrilled that Deja had found a forever home after being rescued from a kill shelter and spending months in foster care. We were also glad for us that we would be foster-free during the time the new baby was supposed to come home. I cried when she pulled away with Rita on the next leg of her journey at the New York state line.

We're only headed to Erie, PA this weekend, but I'm sure I'm going to cry for different reasons on this transport. But it will be good...I will face those demons and get them under control so I can get back into the rescue biz. Something I'm actually looking forward to, if you can believe it.

And the hits just keep coming

Warning: may include too much personal information for some viewers.

This week has been so much fun, wouldn't it be nice to finish it off with Aunt Flo? Sure! Of course! Today is/was my original due date. The date the doctor gave me in that very first visit to her office before all the poking and prodding and ultrasounds. I am caught in one of those low points in the cycles of grief right now and I can't seem to break myself out. I'm back to feeling lost and crying at the drop of a hat.

I was thinking about all the "major" accomplishments I've made in the past five weeks...
Started to bathe again...though I'm using baby wash so I can have the smell of Alex around me during the day.
Started to wear "normal" clothes and shoes again...though none of my clothes fit just right yet (I refuse to wear maternity clothes).
Started to bother with makeup again...though I don't know why since it washes off with all the crying I do. And I don't wear eye makeup for obvious reasons.
Started back to work again...though I could care less about any of the nonsense that goes on with any of my clients.
Started talking to my pregnant friend again...though we both kept it short because we're obviously both uncomfortable. Yet another thing I've lost...probably forever...just great.

I'm on a freaking roll! I mean, what's next? With all this glorious achievement, I can hardly stand my own succes! (/sarcasm)

And if all of this sounds very me-centered...it is. And I'm sorry if I sound self-involved. I felt it coming...this is what they call "a bad day."

I think it started earlier in the week when Aunt Flo came to visit. You would think I would catch a break somewhere. I mean, I got ONE lousy week with no bleeding before she rears her ugly head. So that means that even while the remains of my oh-so-successful pregnancy were being expelled from my body, my body was gearing up despite my objections, and getting ready for another?!?! Ummm...hello!!! I know, I know...life goes on and all that crap. But this is seriously sick. My own body doesn't even recognize what I lost. Shouldn't I get some sort of pass on this one for a LITTLE while anyway?

Then yesterday, when I walked in to Drug Mart to buy supplies for my unwelcome visitor, I was confronted with Fourth of July paraphenalia. I don't know why it struck me as odd that time had marched forward, but I realized I was completely unprepared to face it. The summer is here. The summer I was supposed to share with our new baby. I immediately started to cry as I thought about how we had planned not to see fireworks because of the new baby...but now we are free to do so if we want. So there I was, walking through Drug Mart, crying over maxi pads and fireworks. Ain't life grand?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

In all fairness

An email response to one of my posts got me to thinking...so let me clear something up. I know I spend a lot of time complaining about people who say or do the wrong thing these days. This does NOT mean I think everyone falls into that category. There are many people in my life who have said or done exactly the right thing at exactly the right moment. For that I am eternally grateful. There is no feeling like knowing that you are loved and looked out for in this random universe.

I think it's just easier to complain about those who hurt us because they have hurt us. It is much more difficult to explain to those that you love why you love them. For some reason, it is embarassing or uncomfortable to feel and express those feelings. I need to work on that, obviously. And rather than assuming people know that they are special, I will try to tell them outright. Because once someone you love is gone, it's too damn late for it to make a real difference.

Damage control

I'm so afraid we have irretrievably broken our son. This morning he was super clingy and refused to put his shoes on to leave the house with Steve. I took him and rocked him for a little bit with his head on my shoulder. Out of nowhere he asks, "Do you have to go to the hop-pital today?"

Six weeks after we dropped him at his grandparents' house and his life was changed forever, he is apparently still plagued by the uncertainty and fear.

I asked him why we would have to go to the hospital and he said, "I don't know," and shrugged his shoulders.

I wanted to break down and cry one of those in-your-bones crying jags that seem to happen all too frequently these days. He shouldn't know about the uncertainty of life at three years old! I want to scream at the universe that this is unfair to him! Mommy and Daddy should be constants that he doesn't ever question being there for him. He shouldn't worry that we're going to disappear to the hospital again and leave him damn it! I'm so angry that this situation has turned my self-confident independent little man into an insecure and worried little boy.

The sadness over losing Alex I can handle. I'm not sure what to do about the stark fear that I heard in Sam's voice this morning. Just who do I talk to about that anyway? Dear God...not only is my Alex gone, but now my Sam is suffering...a little help down here sure would be nice.

You're kidding me

I know this is going to sound like I made it up, but I didn't, I swear.

This morning, while driving to work and daydreaming about what kind of brothers Sam and Alex would have been, I pulled up to a stop sign behind a dark green minivan. The license plate said, "SAM ALEX" I'm not kidding you! It was the strangest thing! And then, a pang of sadness shot through me...but not for the reasons you would expect. I thought how sad it was that someone else had my license plates and I couldn't have them. I'm not kidding you! What is wrong with my brain?!?!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Blech

What was that crap I wrote about anyway? Oh please tell me I'm not going to slip into the world of bad poetry!

The future and the past

Having a baby is all about the future. From the moment you get that "could I be pregnant" inkling, thoughts about how your life will change bombard you. Regardless of how you feel about impending motherhood, you know everything will be different. If you are happy about becoming pregnant, you begin to dream about a little boy or a little girl who looks like you or your loved one. Your dreams weave that image into every aspect of your life until the day that baby is born and actually becomes a part of every aspect your life. You imagine and plan for every possibility...except that your baby might die and you might not get to take him/her home with you.

If the unimaginable happens to you, your course suddenly changes. You are no longer looking and moving forward, but you are frozen in your tracks, looking backward. Facing the future becomes too painful with all those unrealized dreams littering the path before you. You no longer dream of what is to come, but have nightmares about what came before. You spend an incredible amount of time picking apart every aspect of your life so that you can un-weave that dream image you had so carefully crafted. It seems easier to go backward and take it apart so you pretend you never had those dreams.

But everyone tells you you must move forward. Moving forward means picking up the pieces of what's left of your dreams and putting them together into something that you never wanted. This wasn't your dream. This is just what's left when a dream dies. It's the scraps...the leftovers...the stuff that never seems as good when you re-heat it. And you can never imagine yourself having another dream as grand and wonderful as the one you are leaving behind. This is the hardest journey you'll ever make, the experts say. And you're scared that you won't be able to do it. You're not sure if you can put one foot in front of the other and take even one step.

But one of the more enlightening moments I've had through this whole process of grieving has been when I realized that I didn't have to un-dream my dream of Alex. I don't have to pick it apart and remove the dreams I so carefully wove for myself. Instead, I have to accept it for what it was, an incomplete story that never got to happily ever after. Rather than worrying about the scraps of dreams that lay before me, I want to wrap myself in the dream that was, and take those first steps forward. It doesn't mean I don't have wishes about that dream and how I would have made it larger and more luxurious. I have a bucketload of wishes about Alex. But no amount of wishing is going to change the reality. So I will take what is behind me and use it to help protect me from the sadness that lays before me. It will be like a shield to help me face those moments where there is an empty space left by an unrealized dream.

Alex is my baby. He blessed my life for eight short months. I will carry him in my heart forever. And when I agonize about how he should be here to play on the swingset with his brother, or how he should be here to wish his Daddy a Happy Father's Day, or how he should be snuggled with us in the bed watching cartoons in the early morning, I will feel the sadness but remember the joy that was the time we shared. In that remembering I will try to feel the happiness of his simple existence and try my very best to put one foot in front of the other.

Lunch

OK...so I bribed my kid. Sue me. I told Sam we would go to Ronald McDonalds for cheeseburgers for lunch, if he would just stop running around terrorizing the post office.

As an aside here, the US Postal Service workers have NO sense of humor. As I approached the desk with packages towering above my head (and thus no free arms to wrangle in the kid running wild and free) I read the little sign taped to the desk next to the register that says, "Please control your children at all times." I laughed and said, "That's a joke, right?" Earning me a stern look from the man behind the counter who really wasn't old enough to be able to deliver a stern look correctly.

Anyway...onto the bribery....

We were having a great time at McDonalds. There was a crew outside working to replace the driveway and parking lot. They had big trucks and a backhoe and a street sweeper. Anyone who knows Sam knows he was in heaven. Great, no problem, we have all day to "goof off," as Sam had requested.

Then this couple sits down at the next booth, with their baby boy. I was fine, I could concentrate on Sam's excitement over the trucks, right? Wrong. This boy kept staring at me with those big beautiful blue eyes of his. And I mean STARING...like he knew something...some deep dark secret that I have written on my soul. It was unnerving.

His father was apparently disturbed by it as well, as he kept making silly faces and noises and drawing the baby's attention and making him smile that toothless baby smile everyone loves. But once the baby was done with whatever distraction was offered, his stare returned to me like a laser. And he didn't blink at all...just stared at me so intently I felt frozen in my seat.

I can't help but think that Alex was born still five weeks ago today and I'd been having a "good day" today up until lunchtime. It wasn't that this baby reminded me of Alex or even made me miss what I don't have...it was just weird.

Stephen's first post

Well, this is my first time ever blogging, or sharing my thoughts and feeling with anyone except my wife. It has been just over a month now since Cathy, Sam and I found out that our little boy Alex had died and would be stillborn. I have found that most people want to treat me as though nothing has happened to me. Particularly my coworkers. While I was out on a Leave of Absence, the controller of the department decided to tell everyone in my department that they should not mention Alex’s death to me, or ask me how I am doing. While I know that he did this with good intentions, my co-workers are now treating me as though I am same person that I was before Alex died, when I am defiantly not that same person. I suppose to them nothing has changed, however; to me everything has changed. My priorities have changed. I am no longer looking to take on extra work to try an impress my management team, instead, I am looking to do as little as I can to make it thru the day and still be considered having showed up for work and done my job. I no longer care about getting another promotion, instead, I care about getting to leave at 5:15 and enter into the part of my world that really matters.
As anyone who knows me can tell you, I am a very talkative person, however; it is always about nonsense. I’m not typically one who likes to talk about what I am feeling, however; Alex’s death has really made me look at who I am, and what I want to further become.

---anxiously awaiting---

I'm anxiously awaiting a promised post from my husband.

(drumming my fingers on the desk)

Another wish

Another wish to add to my list of wishes...

I wish I could get back to a place where I could listen to people complain about everyday things and not think, "You think you have problems? Well I wish my baby boy was still alive!" It makes me a not so nice person to be around, and for that reason I have pretty much stopped talking to some people.

It's not that I want to talk about Alex 24/7, but my brain can't stop thinking about all the human-made drama out there that is completely unnecessary. I find myself thinking (but thankfully not actually saying), "Don't like it? Change it," or, "Are you seriously worried about THAT?" I feel like I've turned into that stereotypical grandmother who has the uphill-to-school-barefoot-in-the-snow story. If I don't get it under control I won't ever be able to be out in polite company again!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Scumbags at law

Good thing I have tomorrow off work or I might go postal (sorry to offend anyone who might work for the US Postal Service).

I just met with the family of an Adult Protective Services client. There has been a long delay in their Aunt's case due to some tap-dancing at the opposing counsel's office...and they wanted a progress report. After the meeting was officially over, the great-niece congratulated me on keeping my job (long-time readers will know the potential lay-off story) and asked how I liked having Wednesdays off. I told her that Wednesdays off weren't because of the budget but because of my loss. She said she had heard and she was very sorry. She knew??? Then she told me how everyone in my office was professional and respected my privacy...but opposing counsel apparently not only shared my loss with them, but blamed the delay in the case on ME! $#!@%^

Loss and bad poetry

Am I the only one that is disturbed by the amount of just plain bad poetry floating around out there on the internet? It seems loss inspires people to write. You're subjected to my blog ramblings and I'm subjected to bad poetry. :o)

Everything Thomas

Oh, if it were only so easy as when we were three years old.

As I mentioned earlier, my son Samuel is a Thomas the Tank Engine freak. If you are not particularly familiar with this program, then you may not understand the humor of this little anecdote. Thomas has many friends who are also train engines of various colors. Thomas and Gordon are blue. Percy and Henry are green. James is red. There are many others, but since they don't yet live at my house in toy form, I'm not familiar with them.

The other day, while sitting in the van with Sam, I took the opportunity to ask him how he was feeling. I know how Steve and I are feeling, so I wanted to check in with my son.

So I asked, "Sam, how are you feeling?"

He responded, with eyes down and his lower lip quivering, "Sad."

I said, "Why are you sad?"

He looked me dead in the eye and said, "Because I wanted a baby."

I could have cried...but I didn't. I had a lightbulb moment...this would be the perfect opportunity to open a dialogue with my child.

So I asked, "If we had another baby, would that be OK?"

You know what he said with a big smile? "Yeah! Let's have the red Alex."

I tried not to laugh and cry all at the same time...so much for my lightbulb moment.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Anger

From Common myths about losing a child.

You probably died with your child. You may have remnant pieces of the former self remaining; however, you are unlikely to become exactly who you were before. Get to know who you are once again. Your child's death has changed many things about you and you will need time and patience to reacquaint yourself with the new person you have become.


It took me 30 years or so to get where I was "comfortable in my skin" (as my mom calls it). How am I supposed to figure out who I am now?!?!

And you know what? I'm just plain old ticked off that I HAVE to!

I guess the new me has some anger issues. Good to know.

When you're stressed...

...and have no bubblewrap handy...go here.

A baby or THIS baby?

I have run up against another philosophical question that I do not seem to have an answer for.

Did I want A baby? or did I want this baby?

When we started talking about trying to conceive, all talk was generic. We wanted a baby. It didn't matter if it was a boy or a girl, as long as it was healthy. Obviously, you can insert your own sad joke here.

But somewhere along the line, we were blessed with, and fell in love with, Alex. Sweet Alex who loved when I would sing to him (off-key, of course). Alex, who liked the minivan but hated the Cavalier. Alex, who liked Mexican food even though it gave me horrible indigestion. Alex, who enjoyed country music played loud. Alex, who would wake up at 12:30am every night and demand to be rocked to sleep. I did the bonding thing, and I think that's part of the reason this hurts so much. Because I made Alex into a little person and I attributed all these things to his emerging personality, it is harder to let go. I feel like I know him.

But the philosophical part of my brain has to ask. What did I really know that made Alex into "THE" baby we were seeking when we started on this journey? He could have been anything. He could have hated my singing...perhaps his movement was a sign of protest. He could have been bored by the minivan and loved the Cavalier. He could have been protesting Mexican food and country music. His 12:30am ritual could have been a complaint about my emptying my bladder and removing a soft pillow for his head.

How did I know what he thought? How did I attribute personality to him? Was it all wishful thinking on my part? If I'm being brutally honest with myself and everyone else, I have to admit that I didn't know a darn thing about Alex. I made conclusions that comforted me. Because, after all, no mother wants to consider that their baby isn't entirely happy while inside their body. But the personality attributes I imagined are a definite idealization. I made Alex into something I wanted him to be, in my brain. I pointed to increased movements as a sign that he liked or disliked something (sometimes it was like...sometime dislike...with no rhyme or reason). I paid attention to his sleep cycles and found hidden messages in them. I even projected my cravings for certain foods on him...as his preferences.

So I'm left with the concept that I was in love with a product of my imagination. This baby, while a unique individual in his own right, was not necessarily THE baby I was supposed to have to raise as my child. I made him into THE baby by deciding who he was, by using a completely random though process. I let myself think certain things were specific messages from Alex because it made me feel more connected...more special. Or maybe Alex was THE baby for an entirely different reason?

The truth of the matter was, I was missing the actual message that was being sent. There is no logic. You don't love an unborn baby for his likes and dislikes, you just love them. It's an amazing thing. There is no connection greater than the one a mother has with her child while they are in the womb. You don't need to understand each other or try to figure each other out...you simply exist in one space. THAT is where the magic is. Where there was one soul there becomes two. From the moment of birth, you are on a journey that can bring your souls close...but never as close as you were during that magical time.

Alex could have grown to be anyone or anything. And it's important to remember that he could have cried every time he heard me sing. If he had lived. But he didn't, and we'll never know whether he loved or hated my singing. I choose to think he liked it a little, but that is just a random decision that is made to make my heart feel lighter. That's what "they" call idealization. Alex was a baby who didn't get to be born alive. I have to remember that simple truth and not make him into the greatest person to ever exist.

So was Alex THE baby? Or was Alex “A” baby who became “THE” baby through happy circumstance and a little imagination? I hate to think all those hopes and dreams I had weren't randomly assigned. But I also have to remember that those hopes and dreams could have just as easily not come true if Alex had lived...that's why they are called hopes and dreams. I would give almost anything to have had the opportunity to find out...but that's not going to happen. Reality rears its ugly head once more.

Maybe I'll have hopes and dreams for another baby. Maybe not. Right now I mourn for the fact that Alex never got to realize his own hopes and dreams. And I mourn for the loss of the hopes and dreams we had for him, Sam, and for ourselves. I mourn for the fact that all I have of Alex are my own idealizations of who he was. I mourn for a future that will never be explored together. But most of all, I mourn for the lost magic...and I recognize how incredibly lucky I was to have that magic in the first place. Alex was a part of me, regardless of whether he really liked my singing or not. No matter who he would have grown to be, he was a part of my soul and my love for him is real. He meant the world to me for unexplainable reasons. Alex was THE baby by simply existing.

It wasn't really his personality that I lost, but the special magic that a mother shares with their baby by simply sharing the same space. That special magic is different with each baby, whether they live or die. The difference is, with a living child, you get the rest of your life to try to get it back...or at least something close. It may forever remain just beyond your grasp, but you know it is there. With a stillborn baby comes the knowledge that the magic is simply gone and you don’t even get the opportunity to try to catch it again.

It is bittersweet really. There can never be any disappointments...but there can never be any accomplishments. There can never be any hate...but there can never be any love. And when you “try again,” you’re not really trying again...because you know that you will never have that exact same magic with any other baby. Alex moved from being “A” baby to being “THE” baby not through happy circumstance and imagination, but through the magic that we shared.

I thank him for the opportunity to share that magic with him.

It was beautiful and I will remember it always.

The husband

So I've been asked recently how Steve is doing since Alex died. And why don't I blog about him so people can keep up with him too? Quite honestly, I don't blog about him because he has recently started reading this blog and I don't want to run the risk of misrepresenting him when he might actually find out I've done it. hehe

Seriously, though, I don't write about Steve and how he's doing because it's not my place. If he chooses to share how he feels with people, that is is responsibility and his business. I don't want to intrude on those thoughts and feelings he chooses to keep private. He has a password and he knows how to use it. But he may very well never choose to write about anything.

I can tell you a few things. He seems to be doing fine. He has been incredibly supportive and understanding of all my quirks and insecurities. I am so lucky that I married this man. And no, I'm not just saying these things because he's recently started reading this blog.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Great minds think alike.

It seems I'm not the only one to contemplate the existence/meaning/power of God. I'm currently reading a book recommended by a friend..."When Bad Things Happen to Good People," Harold S. Kushner.

It's fascinating to me, the number of beliefs I have that I've simply picked up along the path of my life. I can't really credit them to any one individual teaching (you're off the hook Mom)...they just became a part of my belief system by happenstance, I'm guessing. Too much television probably.

Anyway, I highly recommend the book.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Insecurities are strange

As if it's not hard enough to come to terms with the fact that our baby is never coming home to live with us. This is permanent...forever. He's buried in a very nice plot up on the hill in the cemetery...forever. The universe wants me to understand this and accept it. I admit that I'm not having a problem understanding the concept itself...it's the acceptance of it that is so hard to take.

And I'm supposed to choose words to honor my baby...forever set in stone. Are you kidding me?!?!

As my fearless readers know by now, I'm not a great poet by any means. Often, my thoughts tend toward the plain old boring run-of-the-mill-Indiana-roots-hillbilly. I am impressed with the genius of slogans like, "Can you hear me now?" or, "What's in YOUR wallet?" I will never be published in an anthology of great works. And I will admit that I often have to edit and re-edit what I write on this blog so that it is even somewhat coherent. How in the world do I come up with something to carve in stone for Alex's grave marker?

Steve is a wonderful man, and an amazing husband and father (Hi honey...I love you). When it comes to words, he's really not interested. In the entire time we've been married (almost 11 years), I think I've seen him read one book. His time online is not spent with poets and authors. When I asked him what he wanted to put on Alex's headstone, he said, "Whatever you like is fine with me. I'm sure you'll come up with something perfect." Uh...thanks.

You probably won't be surprised to know that I approached this like most other things I have no clue about...I hit the net. But despite my previous assertions that you can Google anything, and my hours online searching memorial pages and famous poetry databases, I was unable to find a single thing online that satisfied my fear of forever. There were no verses, poems, or the like, that were "perfect" for my little boy. Then I remembered he's dead and he doesn't care. Who's going to see it? Oh yeah! Me!

So, rather than tax my brain anymore, I opted for one of those trite phrases you see over-used in cemeteries..."Forever in our Hearts." I wasn't satisfied with it. I wasn't inspired at all. But I figured it was short and sweet and to the point...and it wouldn't necessarily induce tears everytime I read it.

So we went to the memorial store. We laid out our plan for the stone on paper with the very nice salesperson, Michelle. We came to THE question, "Would you like to write something under the name and date?" I told her our less-than-inspired tagline (for lack of a better term) and I could visibly see her smirk and cringe all at the same time. It was as though you could hear her inner voice saying, "That's the best you can come up with?" I don't know why, but in that moment I knew I had to change it. Am I really that insecure? Or was she just reflecting my own feelings back at me?

The funny thing is, I came up with something that I prefer within an hour after leaving the memorial store. It seems I am quite motivated by my own insecurities. It's still not award-winning poetry, by any means. But it's not bad...and it gets an, "I like it," from Steve. So we made some changes and our plans are now set in stone. (I crack myself up sometimes with my wit)

I'll keep you posted on the progress. I may yet change it three or four times before I actually get satisfied with what I want to say for all eternity.

Stay tuned.

Friday, June 10, 2005

It's funny how things work out

I could have taken another job and been making more money. But I would have had to move out to the middle of cow-country (no, where I live is nowhere close to cow country...this is merely rural...that place was no-neighbors-for-miles-rural). So I declined the second interview for the position because I needed to "put my family first." I sent the Prosecutor a nice letter thanking him for the opportunity, but explaining how I needed to avoid all that upheaval at the time. How's that for irony?

I wanted to maintain some stability for my husband and my son, and I wanted to keep my house and remain near my family. It wasn't easy to decide, and it was even harder to admit. It somehow sounded lame or weak to admit that my career came second to my family.

I'm REALLY glad I made that decision now. It's definitely not the stability or the plan I had in mind back then. But I can't imagine being in a new place, with new people and a new job, while mourning the loss of my baby boy. And while I'm currently in an emotional state where I do best communicating by IM, email and fax, I'm glad that the opportunity for one-on-one conversations with family and friends is there when I need it. There is nothing quite as comforting as knowing a hug from someone who loves you is only a few minutes away. Somehow, I doubt the thought of hugging those cows would have provided quite the same feeling.

Try again?!?!?!

Yep...got that one today. "Hopefully you can try again, and if you do, good luck to you." Hey dumbass...he wasn't a TRY...he was my son! He had ten fingers and ten toes and a beautiful face...and a name...Alex...say it...then tell me I can try again. There will never be another one like him. Can you not understand that I can't simply replace him? My children aren't some sort of interchangeable pieces that I can just try again!

I got this from the internet and I think it's perfect to post today...


A BEREAVED PARENT'S WISH LIST

I wish my child hadn't died. I wish I had him back.

I wish you wouldn't be afraid to speak my child's name. My child lived and was very important to me. I need to hear that he was important to you also. If I cry and get emotional when you talk about my child I wish you knew that it isn't because you have hurt me. My child's death is the cause of my tears. You have talked about my child, and you have allowed me to share my grief. I thank you for both.

I wish you wouldn't "kill" my child again by removing his pictures, artwork, or other remembrances from your home. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you wouldn't shy away from me. I need you now more than ever. I need diversions, so I do want to hear about you; but, I also want you to hear about me. I might be sad and I might cry, but I wish you would let me talk about my child, my favorite topic of the day. I know you think of and pray for me often. I also know that my child's death pains you, too.

I wish you would let me know those things through a phone call, a card, note, or a real big hug.

I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over in a short period of time.
I wish you could understand that my grief will never be over.

I will suffer the death of my child until the day I die. Grief is a life long process. I am working very hard in my recovery, but I wish you could understand that I will never fully recover. I will always miss my child, and I will always grieve that he is dead.

I wish you wouldn't expect me "not to think about it" or to "be happy".
Neither will happen for a very long time, so don't frustrate yourself. I don't want to have a "pity party", but I do wish you would let me grieve. I must hurt before I can heal.

I wish you understood how my life has shattered. I know it is miserable for you to be around me when I'm feeling miserable. Please be as patient with me as I am with you.

When I say "I'm doing okay", I wish you could understand that I don't "feel" okay and that I struggle daily.

I wish you knew that all of the grief reactions I'm having are very normal. Depression, anger, hopelessness and overwhelming sadness are all to be expected. So please excuse me when I'm quiet and withdrawn or irritable and cranky. Your advice to "take one day at a time" is excellent advice. However, a day is too much and too fast for me right now.

I wish you could understand that I'm doing good to handle an hour at a time. Please excuse me if I seem rude, certainly not my intent. Sometimes the world around me goes too fast and I need to get off.

When I walk away, I wish you would let me find a quiet place to spend time alone. I wish you understood that grief changes people. When my child died, a big part of me died with him. I am not the same person I was before my child died, and I will never be that person again.

I wish very much that you could understand -- understand my loss and grief, my silence and my tears, my void and my pain. BUT...I pray daily that you will never understand.


LINK

----------------------------------------------------

The same dumbass who told me I could hopefully try again is credited with being my first unsuspecting, "How's the pregnancy going?" It was on the telephone, which accounts for his lack of knowledge, so I'll cut him some slack for that. Too bad he had to follow it up with his keen "try again" insight.

You will be proud of me. I didn't burst into hysterical crying. I took a deep breath, looked up at the bare walls of my office, and said, "I lost the baby." My eyes teared up, but there was no sobbing...and I managed to squeak out a "thank you" at the end of the entire conversation. I really need to get some artwork hung on these walls...it's going to be a long summer.

------------------------------------------------------

Something else I stumbled across on the internet (I was searching for the "perfect" words for Alex's headstone...I don't just obsessively cruise the net for all things stillborn)...

Losing a baby is very different from other kinds of deaths. It is a physical mourning, a bodily grief. One carries about oneself a constant, palpable absence, like wearing an empty knapsack. It is a diminishing experience. It makes you weak, depressive and slightly agoraphobic.

And it is terribly lonely. You are ostracised from the world of pregnancy and of motherhood - pregnant women and new mothers are the first to shun you - and you fast learn that it is unwise to discuss your baby or your body with anyone. To do so is to invite them to say the wrong thing. What has happened to you is unimaginable, and so, unwittingly, people say the most grievous things.

I was so shocked the first time I walked down a street not pregnant and someone bumped into me. Pregnant women are hallowed beings for whom crowds part, cars stop, strangers smile. But just as a pregnant woman is a sacred object, so a mother of a dead child becomes an object of fear, a pariah. She is the embodiment of every pregnant woman's worst phantasms; she is a living death.


LINK (an interesting read for those of us with online "relationships" that have developed out of our own personal nightmares)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

June 9, 2005

Today is/was my due date. I'm taking today off to be with Steve and Sam. Peace and love to you all.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Today it has been four weeks since my Baby Alex was born still. It is thunderstorming outside. That's all there is today.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Dear Sam

Today I wrote a letter to Sam so that he would have a living memory of this whole time in our lives...but most especially a memory of Alex. It was the hardest letter I've ever had to write in my life, because I wanted to fill it with all the love and hope we shared when we were anticipating Alex's arrival. It was good to revisit those memories...if only to be reminded that this life wasn't always a nightmare. It doesn't erase the bitterness and sadness over the time we were cheated out of, but it helps me to remember to be thankful for the time we did have.

I hope that some day Sam will find some peace in knowing that we had good times expecting Alex. I'm grasping at ways to make the long and sad road ahead a bit easier for him. If anyone has any suggestions, I would appreciate hearing them.

Guilt

Guilt has a funny way of sneaking up on you. I didn't realize exactly why I'd been feeling guilty until last night when having a late Instant Message conversation with a dear friend.

There are so many things to feel guilty for. At first I thought it was just that I hadn't noticed Alex moving. In all my wisdom and arrogance, I didn't pay attention. This is still true. I feel like I should have paid more attention and I should have been more vigilent. But there is more to it than just that. (of course there is...this wouldn't be a very good post if it were as simple as that)

You see, I didn't do everything you're supposed to do when you're pregnant. I stopped taking my prenatals because they made me sick. I drank a cup of coffee every morning for breakfast. I took Sudafed. I ate cookies and candy at Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and Easter.

But the thing that makes me feel most guilty is that I didn't do all the tests. I talked with my doctor about the AFP test and decided against it. After all, there was no way I would terminate the pregnancy if there was something "wrong" with Alex. She said the ultrasound would show any problems anyway...the AFP was really just more specific. She left the option open that we could do the AFP after the ultrasound if it was warranted. The ultrasound showed no problems, so we skipped the AFP. I keep thinking maybe that test would have shown us something. Maybe it would have given us a heads up that something was wrong...and allowed us to do something...anything...to prevent Alex from dying. It may not have been successful and we may have lost him anyway, but at least we would have had the opportunity to try. How could I have been that stupid?

This is all speculation and maybe the autopsy will answer all my questions. But until then, the guilt plays on.

And what do I do if I'm right and I could have prevented this from happening to my sweet boy?

Monday, June 06, 2005

My very first total nonsense post

With the maternity clothes leaving the house, I've realized how totally lacking my wardrobe really is. So I ventured out online to try to find ONE top that I liked. Nothing appeals. Not even on eBay. I can buy tops labelled "sexy," which are wholly inappropriate for the courtrooms in our rural county. Or I can buy tops created by Omar the tent-maker...with what looks like material from someone's old curtains. Neither option appeals. I give up.

Are you there God?

I've noticed that a lot of my posts have to do with inanimate objects that evoke intense emotions and therefore, prolific blogging (I had to whip out my thesaurus for that sentence...don't expect as much from the rest of this post...it's too much effort). Anyway...I was pondering what I could post about that doesn't involve external props and I think I came up with a good one.

To those who are overly religious, please do not be offended by what follows. This is my own inner struggle and therefore is not intended as a comment on anyone's closely held belief system.

Where is God? Where was he when we needed him the most? Why didn't he answer our prayers? How could he let this happen to sweet innocent little Alex? How could he do this to Steve and Sam and I?

I have heard so many well-intended things over the last three and a half weeks that have honestly left me completely perplexed. One person said, "Well I guess it just wasn't meant to be." Now, after I got over my initial I-could-vomit-on-her-shoes-I'm-that-amazed-she-said-that reaction, I began to analyze the statement. I'm assuming that the "it" she was talking about was my son Alex. Yes, he has a NAME. Yes, he was a PERSON. I'm forever hearing right-to-lifers tell me that a baby in utero is a person.

Now either the person who made this statement isn't a right-to-life advocate, or she's caught in one of those political debates in which she is way over her head. A baby is a baby, unless he is born dead...then IT wasn't meant to be? Or is the "it" she refers to the joy of our family having two living children? It wasn't meant to be. Maybe she simply means happiness. I'm not really sure. But let's move on to the second half of the statement that perplexes me even more.

It wasn't meant to be. Apparently, this means there is some grand plan out there in which all of our lives are predetermined and we're at the whim of some all-powerful God.

If that is the case, I'd love to have the nerve to ask this person how God determines what is and isn't meant to be. Does he roll dice? Draw straws? Flip a coin? Because near as I can tell, there is no rhyme or reason to why people lose babies. One in 71 births results in stillbirth...with no regard to race, religion, or lifestyle. So this master plan that determines what is and isn't meant to be...well...quite frankly...it sucks. Someone needs to tell God that people who follow the rules are supposed to have healthy and happy babies. And the rules of fair play tell me that NOBODY should have to lose a child...especially like this.

Not meant to be? Why not? Because if you ask me, it is patently unfair and cruel to let a woman get pregnant and carry her child (yes, I said child once again) for months, only to snatch him away instead of sending him home with his mother. What kind of plan is that?!?!

We're not even going to touch on the comment from someone that said that the reason this happened to us is because of sin. oh boy...that one just floored me. Honestly...it had me wondering if I was being punished for something I had done. Had I done something to deserve this? But then I realized, Alex had a spirit and a soul, and there is no God so hateful that he would let one person die in order to teach another a lesson. At least, no God that I believe in.

Another well-intended sentiment I've been given is that God needed another angel. One of my blog friends (I'm sorry I don't have the link handy), summed up perfectly my feelings on this subject. God is, I'm sure, far beyond needing any angels to the point that he would selfishly pluck this child or that child from amongst our midst to satisfy his own needs. Well said.

But this leads me to my own internal analysis. What exactly DO I believe? I have, for a long time, said that I'm more of a free will gal. I think God lets us run around and make mistakes, like any parent would. I think he offers support and guidance when and where he can...where the person is open and willing to receive it...like any parent would. I think God is happy with us and grieves with us when we are happy or we grieve, like any parent does. I think God is an amazing force of love.

But I don't think God is some grand puppet-master pulling all our strings, making us dance for his own pleasure and enjoyment. And I certainly don't think God makes bad things happen so that he can sit back and watch us suffer. For the life of me, I can't imagine why someone would want to believe that kind of a God exists.

But I'm still stuck with my questions. Where is God? Where was he when we needed him the most? Why didn't he answer our prayers? How could he let this happen to sweet innocent little Alex? How could he do this to Steve and Sam and I?

He didn't do anything. Am I willing to admit that he couldn't do anything? That it was beyond his power to stop it from happening? Or do I choose to believe that he could have stopped it from happening and chose not to? Either prospect is scary for me. If I fully believe in the free will model, I have to decide whether I want to believe (1) God has power and doesn't use it; or (2) God doesn't have power.

If God doesn't have power, then what do I do with prayer? Is it a waste of time? Or maybe it's just a ritual that we have taught ourselves...to make us feel better about being completely out of control of certain situations. Are situations where prayers are answered really just happy coincidences?

We're taught from the time we're little, to "thank God for our blessings." What then, are we supposed to do with our disappointments (or whatever the term is for the exact opposite of blessings...disappointment doesn't seem to quite adequately cover the loss of a child).

Maybe there is no God. Maybe he is someone we have conjured up in order to comfort ourselves through all the hardships that we face during our lives. Maybe he is the manifestation of our collective need to find meaning in everything. Maybe he is a myth created to explain how things came to be...when there really was no way to know how things came to be.

I don't find this comforting at all, because I like to believe that I will again someday see the people I've lost during my life. But is it my need to be comforted that is driving my faith? Or is my faith the source of my comfort?

As you can see, I'm no theological scholar. I even have a hard time spelling "theological." But I think about these things during those sad times when I need to make sense of things. I think about whether I'm truly comforted by God, or whether I've created him in my mind as a means to comfort myself.

I ask myself those questions over and over again and wonder if I will ever know the answers. Perhaps there are no answers. For now, I'll still send up prayers. Because regardless of whether God exists or not, I need to believe in something to get through this. I need to feel like I am loved and I am not alone. And I think God can take it if I'm angry at him for now.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Cards and boxes

At the end of a life, no matter how short, everything comes down to cards and boxes.

People who will help you with your funeral business all give you cards. Friends and family all send you cards. There are cards in the flowers at the cemetery. There are memorial cards printed up as sort of funeral keepsakes.

The body goes in a box. The cards all go in a box. The memories are all boxed up, to be taken out and perused when you feel strong enough to face them.

It's an odd thing...the phenomenon of cards and boxes.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

We got the "memory box" for Alex's things. It's a nice little box and I feel good that it's sitting in our living room so I can see it every time I walk through the house. It's a small box...for a short life. It's contents include: The "I'm a Big Brother" book we bought for Sam. Sam's baby rattle that he was going to give to Alex. A Denver Broncos sleeper that Alex was going to have his first picture taken in. Ultrasound pictures. The little picture frame my friend Holley gave me. The shell Alex was baptized with. The hat Alex wore in the hospital. The polaroids, footprints, cradle card, and ID bracelet from the hospital. The bow from the flowers Steve's work sent. The memorial cards from Alex's funeral. The pages the minister read from at Alex's funeral. The card from the flowers at Alex's grave. The certificates to inform us that family and friends made donations in Alex's memory.

That's it. We will be adding a few things in the coming days. The baby bracelet a friend is making for Alex. And an engraved spoon I ordered for Alex from Gerber (I got one for Sam and I'm getting one for Alex).

We opted to tie up the condolence cards with a ribbon and save them...so that we could remind ourselves, on our dark and lonely days, how many people love us and Alex. There are so many that they wouldn't fit in the box.

Such a short life, but yet all the love won't fit in that little box.

The clothes are almost outta here

I'm breathing a sigh of relief this weekend. I've successfully eBayed maternity clothes and started shipping them out of my house. I'm surprised how much

I'm not sure I blogged about it, but during my pregnancy with Alex, I went through crisis mode where none of my clothes fit and I had to search out bargains so that I didn't have to go to the office in the nude. It was a major undertaking since my short plus size makes it impossible to shop at "normal" maternity stores. So I shopped...a shirt here, a shirt there, a pair of pants off eBay...it was a long, drawn-out effort (much like this post has become--another story for later), but I was finally satisfied I had enough clothes to make it all the way through to my due date. Some of them, I only wore once...or didn't get to wear at all.

I know people will say, "But what if you decide to get pregnant again?" And my answer is this...I will buy new clothes.

I'm losing money, I know. But there is NO WAY I could wear those clothes again. Too many memories wrapped up in some of them. The blouse and pants I wore to the spring luncheon...the pants and jacket I wore the first time I argued before the Court of Appeals...the tshirt I wore in the only real pregnancy "belly picture" I have...the shirt I was wearing the morning I found out Alex was gone...etc. And there are too many "should have beens" in others.

The only piece I am sad to see go is a blouse my mom bought me. It's a pretty shirt and I'm going to have to admit to my mom that I sold it and I'm sorry and I hope she understands.

But there is a relief in having them leave my house. I don't know what it is. It feels like I can move on once they're gone. I'm thinking, as soon as we have some extra money, that I'm going shopping...for how my life is now. I think I deserve a day out shopping for silly frivolous things. I just hope the salespeople aren't too frightened by my unpredictable tears.

Ambushed

Well...not really ambushed. Just another one of those hidden surprises waiting for me when I least expect it.

Last summer I was using one of those online fertility tracking software programs. At first it was more for giggles than anything else, since I was so sure I would get pregnant on the first try. Well, after a couple months, when the dream didn't automatically happen, temping and charting became a sort of obsession. For the first time in my life I was really paying attention to what was happening in my body. Why I didn't learn my lesson and keep paying close attention all through this pregnancy, I don't know.

This morning I was trying to get into a chat program used by other stillborn mommies. For some reason, it will not work with my version of Netscape. I'm on a Mac, so it doesn't surprise me when things don't work right. I've learned to adapt. This time I decided to try Internet Explorer. Got the chat program to work, no problems (yay). But then I innocently clicked on Favorites at the top of the browser and there it was...a link to my chart.

I found out I was pregnant on October 7, 2004.

I have got to learn not to look at this stuff.