Monday, October 31, 2005

Ghost stories

I have a special attraction to ghost stories this Halloween and I'm sure it's not hard to figure out why. I well and truly believe that the energy that creates a person's soul doesn't just disappear when they die. I don't believe it has anything to do with God or a master plan (never did), but rather the idea that there is something intangible, in the very nature of being alive, that makes us who we are. I don't believe that every person is set up to become a ghost. But I think there very well could be a convergence of energies that could make it possible for a person's soul to remain in a ghostly form.

I don't think that happened with Alex, because I haven't heard or seen him, except for in my imagination. BUT for some unexplained reason, today I wore the blazer I hadn't worn since the funeral and in the pocket were the tear-stained tissues I used on that day. And my amazing husband didn't bat an eye when I asked if it would be weird if I didn't throw them away (in fact, he got me the sandwich baggy so that I could preserve them for a bit). Not a ghost, but a message of some sort that I'm still trying to figure out in my addled brain.

Anyway...

I believe my house is haunted. Not haunted in a chain-rattling, things-moving-for-no-reason, scary sort of way. But I believe there is a spirit there...a friendly one. If I had to venture a guess it would be that the spirit is a woman...a mother.

When Steve and I were looking to buy our first house, we were limited in what we could afford. We knew we wanted horses, so a certain acreage was a necessity. But generally, the houses in our price range with the property we wanted were less than well kept (putting it politely). We looked at one house that literally had two feet of water in the basement...and another that had a bathroom that had sunk into the ground about a foot (and probably would continue to do so without some major shoring up). So we were pretty well convinced we wouldn't find a place for a while by the time our real estate agent said, "I have one that is at the upper most limit of your price range (exactly at our limit), but I think you should take a look at it." Unconvinced, we took a look. The house was so-so. It's an old farmhouse and needs a lot of renovation, mostly cosmetic. The barn and acreage were beautiful...perfect for us...so we bought it.

When my mother walked into the house for the first time, she looked at me and said, "This is the most welcoming house I've ever been in." And she's right. It's a comfortable house despite it's many worn down characteristics. It feels like home. The reason it felt so-so was because it already felt like ours. I could see all the improvements we were going to do...I could see us living there...our future (or at least the happy parts of it).

We moved in and had Sam shortly thereafter. It was no surprise to me the evening we were sitting in the living room and Sam started giggling into space. Usually he was looking up the stairs when he would see whatever it was he saw. He would spend almost a half an hour at a time playing and cooing and talking to whoever it was. It wasn't the sort of playing and cooing and talking that you normally see babies participate in when they are left to their own devices. This was an engaged, focused attention...he was enjoying the company of someone else...someone we couldn't see. And it happened just as often when we were holding him or dancing with him as it did when he was sitting in his bouncy or playpen, seemingly unengaged in other activity. Whenever our ghostly friend would appear to him, his attention was fully on them and no amount of silliness from mommy or daddy could pull him away.

I have to admit that at first I was a bit spooked by it. But seeing Sam laugh and giggle and acknowledge whoever it was that was there, made me feel like we really were home. This house has seen things and been through things we could probably never imagine. The original portion was built in 1840 and the remains of someone's wildflower garden still grow in our back yard. Someone planted the Violets and Star of Bethlehem...loved babies...and made this house a home long before we did. And here we were, connected by this house, to this person we couldn't even see.

Maybe someday I'll get to the Historical Society and look them up so I can put a name to our other-worldly entertainer. Or maybe I'll just leave it alone. Sam hasn't talked to them since before his first birthday. I don't know if it's because he can't see them anymore or because he's afraid to acknowledge that he does see them. In either case, I know they're there. I hope they know I do my best to keep their flowers growing each spring and I'm in love with our home. I suspect they know that. I wonder if they cried with us when Alex died. I suspect they did.

Tough questions from the peanut gallery

Good question posed in comments...
catherine, do YOU really believe that what you say matters? i get the feeling sometimes that you don't think your opinion equal to everyone else's. i'm just saying. feel free to throw bricks at me.

My entire life I have been surrounded by people who are smarter, more empathetic, more conversational, more dramatic...you get the picture. I never really found my niche...who I am...the definition of me. Maybe it was partly low self-esteem that made me think I wasn't x, y, or z...but I generally think that I just realized I wasn't yet in "my" time or place.

I was really coming into my own before Alex died. In fact, my mom and I had had conversations where we talked about how I was finally, "comfortable in my own skin." Steve and I had talked about how happy we were. Sure, we had our issues, but they were of the kind that irritate you...not knock you down for the count. I finally thought, "This is something I'm able to do right." I THOUGHT I could raise happy and healthy children. Now it's just all gone to crap again and I'm trying to figure out who to be again.

So no, I guess I don't feel like my opinion is equal to everyone else's. Self-doubt is a very strong opponent. And there is nothing like having your body kill your child to send self-doubt on a victory lap. Why didn't I do something? anything? How could I let this happen? How could I possibly have anything to say about anything when I can't even do the one thing right that I thought I was good at? Or maybe I'm not as good at it as I thought I was?

I know all the experts and all the moms who have been there know that self-doubt and blame are tough to shake. And nobody would ever outwardly say anything that would even remotely be interpreted as blame. But for ME...I can't disassociate my brain from my body. I have always believed in the whole being...body and soul together...one without the other is no existence. Even those with physical or mental "handicaps" have some form of both to their existence.

So sure, I didn't do anything intentionally. You might even say my body betrayed me. But in the final analysis, I failed. It is MY fault. Whether my brain did this intentionally or not, my body...my biochemistry or whatever...is what killed Alex. So the end result is the same. I am responsible for doing something so "unnatural." That thing that I thought was so easy...so natural...I can't even trust my body to do normally. And if my body doesn't act naturally, then maybe I'm not as good at anything as I thought.

I can't trust half of my existence, so the other half is crippled and waiting for a cue as to what to do. I haven't lost my body...but I have no confidence that it will support me anymore. So my soul is looking around, a bit bewildered, and wondering if it is trustworthy. Half an existence.

I'm sure this makes no sense and a good psychiatrist is what is in order. But I think a good psychiatrist has been in order for the past almost six months now. Which might lead me to a rant about mental health services...if I had the time. But I really should work now so I can post another cheerful post later today.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Goodbye friend

Kay passed away at 5:30 pm Sunday night. She went peacefully in her sleep after her long fight with her lungs. Me and some of her closest family were with her when she left. She is taking care of the animals that have passed over now and the live ones are left to you all to handle. Thanks, Jim (her husband)

Why I craft for charity



I know I had my own "inspiration" to start sewing for charity in my experience with Alex. But I have found more inspiration as the months have gone by. This was posted on my crafting for charity board...(I did not make this particular outfit, but participated in donating other items for this particular hospital)...

We had given a "buddy" set from Suzanne H and Sue C to one of the nurses to take to her baby. Mom and Dad were with baby and ask that we come talk to them for a moment. They were very thankful for all the wonderful items that we had brought for their little girl. I had ask our "tour guide" if I could take a couple of general NICU pics. She said that would be all right as long as we didn't show babies or name tags. She thought that Mom and Dad would let us take pics of their little princess and gained permission (after a quick diaper change) for us to take pictures. Dad was a complete "take charge" guy and made sure that his little girl was completely dressed and ready to be our little "poster girl" (he even got the booties on over the sleeper feet *grin* You should have seen these big hands handling the tiny booties and tinnier little feet!!). When baby was all dressed and ready for the camera Dad placed the blanket in Mom's arms and then put his tiny little daughter into her arms. When Mom tried to wrap baby up Dad said "no, we want all of her outfit to show"! Our little princess, who so patiently let Mom and Dad dress her sat uncomplaining to have her picture taken. She did squint when the flash went off, but no fussing!! Dad was really excited about having his daughters photo shared with you and wanted to see it too (even though he grabbed his camera and took pictures while I was taking some). I got Dad's email address and will send him copies of the NICU pictures. Mom and Dad both thanked all of us (several times) for making and sharing the preemie sized items with them. They wanted you to know that they mean a lot to them.

As we were wrapping up our visit and getting ready to leave the NICU the patient coordinator (our "tour guide" for the day) ask to see us in her office. If you're prone to tears you should stop reading now *sad smile* She shared with us a little about our tiny NICU princess. She said that we had made the day for the Mom and Dad. Baby has a genetic problem that will be fatal for her, she will never live to have a real Halloween. Mom has been having a tough time coping with this information. Through AC4C and the love and talents of our members this family was given a brief moment of "normalcy" with their little girl. She was all dressed up for Halloween like any healthy child with Mom and Dad fussing about how her clothes fit and how she looked. After hearing her story I understood better why Dad was so thankful for what we had brought them. It wasn't just some cute clothing that actually fit their 4-pound daughter, it was a few minutes of joy where just the act of sharing a cute Halloween costume/outfit with 4 strangers gave them some normal, non-medical, time with their baby.
I LIKE changing the format. It gives me something to do at work.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Screaming till I'm hoarse

My entire life has been spent screaming for attention. I'm sure it psychologically stems from being ignored by my parents at some crucial stage of my development. After all, everything is our parents' fault, isn't it? But I just now realized, after an all-out scream-fest at Steve over how in the hell to properly cut lattice, that I have a major problem. I feel as though I'm just not heard...on anything. I could very well have spoken the most genuis thing ever spoken and nobody will have heard it. Not because they can't hear me...but because they weren't listening.

Nobody listens anymore. The husband...please...see aforementioned lattice issues and you will see how my general day-to-day goes. Sam...he's three...what do you expect? It's not that I think anything in my life would change too dramatically. My husband and I would still butt heads over the correct way to cut lattice. But at least I would feel like someone heard me...like what I said wasn't a waste of the effort it took to push the air out of my body and vibrate my vocal cords. I swear I could spend my entire weekend without uttering a word and nobody would notice or care. Hell, Steve would probably even be thankful for the peace and quiet.

But I realized today, even more shocking than the fact that my husband doesn't listen to me (haha), is that nobody has ever listened to me. I spend my entire life trying to convince people that I'm worth listening to...that I know what I'm talking about...that I have something legitimate to say that deserves attention and recognition. And I'm generally saddened or offended or insulted when I am disregarded.

Yes, this started out as a general rant about my husband and his inability to listen, but it led me to realize the reason it hurts so much when he doesn't hear me. My doctors didn't listen to me and my Alex died. I know that not everything I have to say is of the same level of importance. But it would be nice to know that something/anything I have to say is being paid SOME attention to. Why do I have to scream in order for someone to care enough to listen? Why did my baby have to die for someone to hear me?

Sometimes I feel like I could disappear and, aside from the fact there would be no clean dishes or laundry, nobody would notice. Home is where you're supposed to go when you want to get away from the cruel world and have someone pay attention to you...where you know the people care. Instead, home is just like every other place. I have no voice...because I've been screaming so much.

Pay no attention to the screaming lady next door...nobody else pays her any attention either.

Things I like about today

~I slept until 10am under warm covers.
~My period is almost over.
~Sam and Steve slept until 11am under warm covers giving me an hour of blissful peace to myself.
~The sun is shining in NE Ohio!
~I've reached the bottom of the Raisin Bran box...where all the raisins reside. yum!
~Sam and I are both feeling human again, thank you very much.
~This is supposed to be peak weekend for fall colors in our area.
~After a week of rain, the horses will get to go out and run around.
~We're going to work on our fence and our flower garden today.
~I'm contemplating taking Sam trick-or-treating in the "city" near us on Sunday, in addition to Monday trick-or-treating at my parents' house...so I can have access to more candy.
~I think I can raise enough money on eBay to buy the digital camera of my dreams.
~The greeting cards came in from the fundraiser I participated in MONTHS ago.
~I missed what I'm sure would have been a tortuous "girls lunch" at the office yesterday so I don't have any "day after" sadness...just relief.
~I got a nice card from a friend yesterday and it makes me smile to see it on my desk this morning.
~Did I mention the SUN is SHINING?!?!

Friday, October 28, 2005

November 18th

This is the deadline for reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I MUST get it read before the movie. Off to find my book and figure out where I left off...

The holidays are upon us

I saw my first official "holiday" commercial with snow and jingle bells and overly attractive models wearing cute cableknit sweaters and holding a puppy with a big red bow around its neck. I'm not kidding. It would have made me want to gag even without the underlying melancholy surrounding the prospect of facing the first holiday should-have-beens. But now I am alternating between wanting to avoid the holidays altogether and wanting to overindulge my living son to make up for all the disappointment of this past year. Steve asked Alex if he liked his pumpkin, but he was awful quiet about it. We'll just have to assume he's satisfied, I guess. It seems he's easy to please.

I worry that I'm going to have some sort of serious meltdown. I've already issued the proclamation that there will be no "Christmas shopping." A lot of people will be getting gift cards. There will be no "Secret Santa" at work. And I will not be wearing any festive holiday apparel (though I will make an exception and wear my Old Navy $5 Halloween t-shirt just because I love the rare deal on plus-size novelty clothes).

Sam's been asking to put up the Christmas tree. Normally we would put it up shortly after Thanksgiving and let it stay up until after New Year. I'm thinking that maybe this year we'll put it up a week or so before Christmas and take it down the week after Christmas. I just can't look at all those shiny cheerful ornaments for too long or I might pick the whole thing up and chuck it out a window. And the nativity...forget about it...it ain't coming out of the box.

Do I sound like a broken record? I don't care. We had a baby. A full-grown, ready to come home and live with us, baby. The fact that the infection that killed him is "rare" doesn't make him any less real...and it doesn't make us miss him any less. Am I supposed to find comfort in the fact that our situation is a statistical anomaly? Statistics don't mean a thing when you bury your perfect little boy and spend your Christmas visiting his grave instead of watching him open his cute little presents in his cute little Christmas pajamas. So much for the snow and jingle bells and overly attractive models wearing cute cableknit sweaters and holding a puppy with a big red bow around its neck.
"I got a job to do, and so do the people who work in the White House. We got a job to protect the American people, and that's what we'll continue working hard to do."

When this man speaks I hear the deafening screech of nails on a chalkboard.

Dear Howard Jones

A few minutes ago I checked our blog. I scrolled down and saw archives and being the sadomasikist (I'm sure this is spelled wrong) that I am I clicked on May 2005. That off course made me cry. I decided to put my headphones on and listed on the radio. No one is to blame by Howard Jones. Kiss my **@@@@####.

Philistine, who....me

Finally, a word that I have no problems with, as long as it doesn't describe me. Webster's defines a philistine as "a person who is guided by materialism and is usually disdainful of intellectual or artistic values."

Halloween is going to be celebrated at my company this Monday, and rather than participate in my team's group theme of Seinfield, in which I was asked to play George (probably because I have rage issues), and watch my co workers bring all of their children in for trick or treat, I have decided to take the day off and avoid what will surely be a depressing experience for me. I will still take Sam to the in-laws for trick-or-treating that night(We live on a very busy road), I wouldn't want to take anything away from him.

I don't like flavorful food, I like well cooked plain meat. When I go to Mickey Dees I have to have my burger plain, just cheese on it. I don't eat fruits and veggies, except for corn, apples, and tomatoes (if it is on my pizza(a meat lovers pizza)). I don't like most music made after 1985, I don't like going to concerts or the theater, I just like to lay in a dark room with my headphones on listening to classic rock from the 70's and 80's. I don't like shopping for myself, unless it is to look at big high def TVs and I Pods. I like to watch football and baseball on TV, but I don't care much for the experience of going to the game. Once in a while is OK, but if it was a game that I cared about, I would rather watch it on TV, than be distracted by what 40,000 other people are doing. I'm not much for talking to strangers, although I seemed to do OK and Justin and Laura's party.

But I am not a Philistine...... Am I?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The List

My dear sweet wonderful (strange) husband has developed a list of words that he despises. One evening, while watching an Estee Lauder commercial, he announced that he didn't like the word "fragrance." I looked at him like he was crazy. Since then, he has alerted me when a new word is added to the list. So far, the words to grace the list are "fragrance," "lozenge," "suppository," and "au jus." I'm not sure what it is about these words that warrant them being placed on the list, I just know when a new word has earned a place by his announcement, "I hate that word too." I think maybe we're getting a little weird in our old age.

please help

I need to read some blogs that aren't about babies, getting pregnant, being pregnant, or losing babies. Any suggestions?

Making choices

I spent all day yesterday with cold feet. I thought about putting socks on several times throughout the day, but never did. I even went to bed last night with cold feet. This morning, after seeing the dog shiver, I realized there is a cold draft in here and I put my sock/slippers on. They're the $3 slippers I got at Walmart when I bought my mom a pair for Christmas. My mom didn't like them and gave hers back to me, which another dog chewed up. What's my point? I have none. This is how my days are generally...boring and not worth writing about. And my brain is totally and completely incapable of focusing on anything. It took about 24 hours for me to put my damn slippers on. Good grief...what happened to me?

I'm tired. I'm tired of writing about life and death and love and happiness and grief. I want to write about Halloween costumes and what I'm going to overindulge my children with at Christmas. Except that, of course, brings up the obvious thought, "Oh, right...CHILD...not CHILDREN." Then I want to go and piss on everyone's parade. I want to scream at happy people...even happy people who have been through hell to get to happiness. I want to scream at sad people to snap out of it...how bad could your minor little crisis really be when I have a dead baby? I have become bitter and nasty and I don't even like myself. I guess there is something to be said for the fact that I don't act on those feelings. But still.

Then I get emails from people...
Hello,
Just wanted to see how you and your family were doing, I also wanted to tell you some very exciting news.....I found out on Monday that I am prego! It was a bit of a rollercoaster too because I took a clearblue easy test on mon. morning and it was pos. then for kicks too a different test and it was neg. the next day so I freaked out, called my doc. and they said you rarely get false pos. just false neg. so this morning I took the test again(first response early result) and this time it came up pos.! I am very happy, I have my 1st appt. on nov. 22nd, I am going to wait to tell my family on thanksgiving. Hope all is well with you!
Love, R


ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

I saw a strange show on television yesterday morning called Starting Over. I'm not sure I like it because I still can't decide if I believe in the position of "Life Coach," but I couldn't stop watching it...kind of like a train wreck. There's one woman on there who is a breast cancer survivor and is dealing with a lot of mental and emotional pain surrounding her illness and recovery. At one point she was asked to whack the snot out of some punching bags labelled with the things that have traumatized her in her life (cancer, alcoholism in her family, etc). After having a major meltdown and pounding her frustrations out, her Life Coach told her she could choose happiness. And she made it sound so simple...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Remind me...

Remind me not to eat Jambalaya the night before coming down with the flu.

Remind me to watch where I step...an incontinent old dog lives here too.

Remind me to guard the doors carefully or the declawed cat might get out and leave me searching in the darkness and rain for him, fearing he had run away and causing me to break down in front of my three year old son.

Remind me to stock up the house with throat lozenges (had to throw that word in there for Steve), because Sam doesn't care if I feel like crap and will still ask me a zillion "why" questions.

Remind me how lucky I am.

Remind me it's not all bad.

I'm turning on the cartoons for Sam and crawling back into bed, bucket by my side.

***Addendum***

I'm NOT pregnant. Got my period yesterday. It's JUST the flu and the normal accompanying digestive pyrotechnics. Though it's not all bad...I do get a very low and husky phone-sex voice as a bonus.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Rosa Parks died last night at age 92.

"When I made that decision," she said, “I knew that I had the strength of my ancestors with me.”

I wish I had that kind of faith.

Goodbye my friend

About a week ago, I cleared out my email inbox and sent a couple of emails to friends I hadn't heard from in a while. Included in that bunch was an email to an animal rescue friend, Kay, in Pennsylvania. We haven't spoken since before I found out I was pregnant, well over a year ago now. Kay doesn't know anything about Alex (I don't know if she even knew I was pregnant). I wonder if I should tell her now.

I'm not sure how old Kay is because she's had a tough life and it shows in the lines on her face and the grey in her hair. She's not what you would call a soft and cuddly person (some would say the same about me). She does things her own way and didn't give a hoot what other people thought of her. So it seemed natural that Kay and I took to each other like old crows who gather together (usually around some roadkill somewhere) and squawk about this and that.

Today I received this return email:
This is Kay's husband. The wife is in final stages of cancer. No more transports except her move to heaven. please remove her from all transport and rescue lists. Thanks, Jim

I knew in my head that she would eventually get sick and die. She smoked too much and was suffering from emphysema when I met her. But she seemed so strong and straightforward that I never guessed it would be so soon.

I remember one particular transport last summer where I mixed up the directions terribly and we sat at the wrong exit on the highway for a good hour with a pup that Kay was supposed to pick up for the next leg. She didn't make me feel stupid, just rolled her eyes and said, "Get it right next time." I SO have this urge to drive over to her house and tell her the same thing right now.

I hope that Kay finds peace wherever she goes. I know she has helped more souls on this planet than will ever be recognized by anyone outside our animal rescue community. There are literally hundreds of dogs and cats who owe their lives to Kay and her crusty old heart. And there are a few of us humans, battered and beaten by life's circumstances, who love her for her friendship and caring. I hope her family finds some measure of peace in knowing that the work Kay did here on this earth was good and pure and loving. I know I speak for Steve and myself when I say that we will miss her.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Halloween preparation

Second verse, same as the first

Today I have incredibly chapped hands. I think the hours of digging in the garden and the hours carving our Halloween pumpkin yesterday took their toll on my poor fingers. So I pulled out the True Blue Spa Mega Butter my friend H bought me as a pamper mommy gift when I was expecting Alex. I had dumped it in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet upon returning to work, in one of my "I can't deal with this right now" acts of cowardice. I saw it today and thought it would be great for my hands.

It was the only lotion smell that didn't make me want to throw up while I was pregnant. I would sit here and talk to my fellow pregnant co-worker, taking off my rings and rubbing the cream into my hands. I vaguely remember my belly being big and heavy. Even more vague is the memory of my Alex wiggling and kicking. But it's still there in some deep dark recess of my mind.

The now mommy co-worker walked past my door on her way to the office kitchenette. Like so many times before, I half expected her to stop in my doorway for a chat. But she didn't even look my direction. I could tell she was hoping I didn't speak to her. We just don't have anything to talk about anymore, I guess.

It's been a year since I carried the secret that would be Alex with me. This time last year is when I shared my secret with my friends at work. This time last year was so full of happiness and anticipation. This time last year was magic. Sadly, the familiar scent of my hand lotion just didn't bring any magic with it. Nor did the return of my co-worker from her extended maternity leave. It's looking more and more like the life I had is gone for good. On some purely academic level, I guess I knew this. But it is always an emotional blow when the news reaches my heart and soul again and again. Perhaps that's what it takes for me to accept it or deal with it or reconcile...whatever the term du jour may be.

The tears are coming today for some reason. Maybe it's the stress of other things weakening my ability to keep it all together. But I find myself without a smile...without joy. Today is just a bad day.

I took a little hanging Jack-o-lantern to the cemetery for Alex's grave yesterday and sobbed. This isn't how this is supposed to be. If I can't even get through Halloween, how am I going to get through Thanksgiving and Christmas? I am tempted to boycott them altogether. I know I should be ready to count my blessings and be thankful for what I have. But there is this sadness and anger that fills that space where happiness and thankfulness used to reside.

So I overcompensate and make a production of buying Sam a Halloween costume and hanging up Halloween decorations. And I smile but don't speak to the new mommy co-worker. And I use my True Blue Spa Mega Butter. And I sit here and remember. And I cry.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Same ole, same ole

I have discovered, over the past few days, that I really haven't travelled that far away from the shy nerd I was as a freshman in high school. Who would have thought that at 33 years old I would still be suffering from the same insecurities I was suffering from 18 years ago? Who would have thought that the same things that made me happy back then would make me happiest now?

I still worry that people will talk about me behind my back.
I still get physically ill at the thought of confrontation, or the thought that someone is mad at me.
I still get tongue tied when new people talk with me.
I still worry that my hair is sticking up or I have something stuck between my teeth.
I still worry that I'm not as smart as the people around me and they will discover that my whole persona is nothing more than a farce.
I still like pizza and cold beer late at night.
I still HATE it when people don't pay attention and then cover their mistakes/asses with lies.
I still wonder why people don't smile.
I still love it when I can make a friend smile.

Most of my insecurities seem to be rooted deep in my fear of what other people will think or say. Funny...that is one of the few things I can't control...so it seems to make me the most uncomfortable. I can't just grab someone and say, "You MUST like me." Life doesn't work that way. And no matter what I do, some people are just not going to like me. Why does that hurt me so? It's irrational, really. But there it is.

People often talk about feeling young or old. But for myself, it doesn't seem to be that there is much difference between the two.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

The two faces of me

I will soon get back to my regular blogging for me. But right now I want to do some blogging directly to you, my dear friends.

Please let me say that we truly appreciate the offers of financial help. It felt GOOD to know that someone cares enough to offer concrete help. There is a part of me that says, "They're offering to help, you'd be a fool to turn them down." I even said to Steve, "Why should we refuse? We've been through enough, let's accept whatever help we can get." The look he gave me said it all. And after a bit of thought, I have to (reluctantly) agree with him.

This is OUR fight. And while we think it is wonderfully thoughtful of anyone to offer to don suits of armor and come riding to our rescue, we have to fight this fight for ourselves. We will, without doubt, need to rely on you all for emotional support...no matter what happens. But at this point it just doesn't feel right accepting money. Particularly when we know so many of you can use every penny you have for yourselves and those things in your lives that are important.

Steve and I will find a way to make this happen. Just like everything in our lives that we've managed to do together through the past eleven years or so...when we want it badly enough we find a way. Would that it were so easy to bring our little Alex back. But short of that impossibility, we will do whatever we can to find some justice for him, regardless of the cost. Nothing about this is going to be easy. So we have to accept the fact that the money hurdle is just the first in a series of tough things we're going to have to face if we want this bad enough.

They say pride goeth before a fall...let's hope this is different. I already feel like I'm standing at the bottom of a huge mountain...looking up...and realizing I've left my climbing gear at home.

But this is something we have to do. For our peace of mind.

For Alex.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Worth blogging

Me: "You need to realize you are not the only person in this..."

Sam interrupting me: "And it's NOT ok mommy...and I'm NOT a person, I'm a BIG BOY!"

huh?!?!
------------------------------------
"You're not a girl...you're a mommy.
------------------------------------
"Are you doing that to your hair so you'll be beautiful?"
------------------------------------

Thank you

Again, the support you all have offered has simply amazed me. Please know that I did not ask the question as a means to beg for money. I just needed to know if I was needlessly tilting at windmills here. Thank you for caring enough to respond. And thank you so much for offering to help financially. That was of the type of kindness that induces tears. You are all wonderful and if I can say I am lucky in anything to do with losing Alex, it is that I have "met" all of you and can count you as friends. Thank you.

I finally did it.

Today I sent a request to the university that I spent 4 years of my life at and did not receive a degree from, to obtain a copy of my transcript. Hopefully, I can get my act together and figure out what I will need to do in order to earn the bachelors degree that will hopefully allow me to advance my career beyond the current cement shoes that it seems to be in. I just hope that I am not getting in over my head.
I just realized how many time I overused the word hope in this post.
Oh well

Update: OK, maybe I am getting in over my head. The university just called me and told me that I forgot to sign the request. Back to the fax machine

I need opinions

Here is where I ask for a favor. I want honest opinions...no holds barred.

We received a letter from the lawyer. The nurse practitioner thinks there MAY be a case there, but recommended it be reviewed by an OB/GYN for an "official" opinion. The cost of the nurse's opinion was $500, which the law firm paid. The cost of the OB/GYN's opinion is $1500, of which they would like us to pay $1000. If the OB thinks there is no case, we are out $1000. If the OB thinks there is a case, we will pay nothing more...but we could still be out $1000 if we lose the case. I could do alot with $1000 and am thinking it's a lot of money for no guarantees. I was all ready to fire off a letter thanking the attorney for his time, but then I got to thinking I owe it to all of us, Alex included, to find out for sure. I mean, what IF there IS a case? Who else is going to step up and hold these people accountable for their failure to meet standards of care? What I said before still holds true...I don't want ANYONE else to lose their baby because they went to this doctor who couldn't be bothered to take the time to pay attention.

What would you do if you were me?

As an aside, I do not have the energy or the willpower to "shop around." It's this or nothing. I'm not emotionally capable of anything more at this point.

Thanks.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Halfway to nice


Some really great friends sent me a gift certificate for plants and flowers. So, after four years in this house, I'm finally getting my entryway flower garden...part sun and part shade. This is right off our deck, outside of our kitchen...the entrance way that everyone uses. Hopefully next spring and summer those little specks of green will flourish and flower. I've got a variety in there...forget-me-nots, lily-of-the-valley, primrose, blue scabiosa, pink dragonflower, red penstemon, bleeding heart, blue polemonium, and the roses (donated by mom). It still needs more mulch. Steve doesn't know I've claimed some of his posts for border purposes (and I'm posting late so he won't know until he actually sees it...hee hee). That's my spastic cat, Bella, on the brick walkway. She spends most of her time outdoors and she likes it that way.

I plan to put a matching garden on the other side of the walk. But since I played hookie from work today and spent four hours working on this one (building on the hour or so I worked on it yesterday), I'm not holding out much hope that it will get done before next Wednesday (my next day off). I have a luncheon on Saturday with Mom. Then we have Lauralu's birthday bash. And Sunday we have to wake up early to transport a puppy. Of course, Steve and Sam will be home all day Saturday...I just might put them to work a little. (hee hee) Or maybe I could play hookie again tomorrow. Nope...I won't get my paycheck if I do that.

This is the garden statue I intend to put in one side or the other. I think I'll bring it in this winter though, and wait to see what plants actually survive before I decide exactly where it will go.

I thought I would be sad to actually plant a garden in memory of Alex. But I think it's going to be nice. When I get it all done, I think I'm going to have to thank those friends again. Even if it's not much to look at yet.

Now I just have to keep it weeded...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

God again



I don't know what to do about God.

There, I said it. I've been thinking for some time that I am lost and facing a crisis of faith, but I haven't been able to verbalize the true nature of my dilemma. Message boards are apparently good for helping me sort out those confusing thoughts in my brain, because I realized what is wrong while reading a, "Why do you believe in God?" thread. All these women (and they are all women...I'm not being sexist here), said things like, "How can I NOT believe in God? Look at all the wonderful things in the world." And I had this almost uncontrollable urge to ask about all those horrible, awful things in the world.

How do you turn a blind eye to those as a means to support your faith? And if you are truly faithful, how do you explain them?

It's not that I'm now blind to the good things in life. I can see them every day and I realize that I AM blessed in MANY ways. But there are SO MANY bad things in the world. Really bad things that I can't even comprehend. For me...there's this one thing...and it's a biggie to me. It's of the sort that makes me cry, "Why me? What did I do to deserve this? What is the lesson to be learned?" And you know what I get as an answer? Silence. That is even more unfair. Because then I get flippant statements like, "God provides the answers in his time...he doesn't answer to you...and he doesn't always provide the answers we want to hear." Oh, how that makes me want to smack someone. Basically, the message is, I'm a puppet on a string who is subject to the whims of some grand power who offers no explanations and no comfort. I can't even imagine how people suffering through worse must feel.

So what now? I have this feeling of WANTING to believe in something. But how to feel comfort from something that you are so angry with...

I feel like God is there, like those crosses you see on the side of the road. You know they're there, but you drive on past them, not even turning your head to really see them. And a part of you is repulsed by the thought of them being there...what they really mean. But part of you is touched by the thought that someone thought enough of that person to place a cross on the spot where they died. Why do they do that, by the way? I know of no other socially acceptable practice where we place religious symbols at the location of someone's death. But I digress...

I can't pray the old prayers. But I have yet to figure out how to pray new ones.

And to the women who ask, "How can you NOT believe in God?" Take a good look around. Watch the news. Leave your quiet suburban life and visit the real world that other PEOPLE live in. Look at them and whip out your flippant quote about God and his answers, and see what kind of reaction you get. I suspect there are more like me out there who think of God as a highway marker, rather than the amazing comfort you do.

So what use is there for God? He is the keeper of the promise that says I will see my Alex again someday. I guess that's why I want to hold onto some shred of belief. But there's a lot of time between then and now.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Introducing Dispatch/Mix 97.1 Family Nights with the Columbus Blue Jackets

The Dispatch/Mix 97.1 Family Nights offer a great way to spend quality time with your family and friends and enjoy a great savings! Each family pack includes:


4 Tickets
4 Sugardale Hot Dogs
4 Pepsis
4 Popcorns
4 UDF Ice Cream Coupons (redeemable at UDF)
4 Chiller/Dispatch Ice Haus Skating Passes
A package valued at over $190 is yours for as little as $80. A savings of over $100.


Dear Blue Jackets...I know you're not privy to all our secrets.

BUT THERE ARE ONLY THREE OF US!!!
Maybe all one can hope to do is end up with the right regrets.
-Arthur Miller

Big Brother baby

This better not be a sign of things to come in the United States, or I will sell my television.

Fun stuff

If you're in the market for a new blog template...check out blogfrocks.com for some VERY cute linkware stuff.

Adults only?

Holy crap! The last adult thing Steve and I did together (besides the obvious), was his company Christmas party (at which I was pregnant and couldn't even drink the mammoth glasses of wine they were serving...we really must go back to that place sometime...I have dreams about those wine glasses). OK...let me qualify...that was the last FUN adult thing we did together. Delivering a dead baby, picking out caskets and seeing plays about grief just don't count.

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

I'm not feeling too inspired to write these days. I think maybe that month after month of pouring my heart and soul into coherent sentences has finally paid off...I'm on an even keel again...at least for today.

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

I'm not up on my grief research. I wonder if it is considered "more difficult" to move on after a loss that is sudden or a loss that is prolonged. Does it help to get a chance to say goodbye before? Or is it an easier healing to make your goodbyes after the person has already died?

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

I really can't stand No Doubt. Not even on free internet radio.

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

Steve's not a weirdo. You should see how they look at ME at the daycare. I'm the mom that doesn't even drop her child off in the morning...abdicating my responsibility to my husband...putting my career before my child...they have NO idea how to talk to me. If anything I'm the weirdo...at first it made my uncomfortable...now it makes me chuckle.

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

Am I selfish to want a baby? Should I just accept the one child family that I have?

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

Today I had a taste of big city fear. As I was turning my car around in our driveway, two men pulled up and got out of their pickup truck. A million thoughts ran through my head...mainly what's the safe thing to do? I forget. Do I get out of the car? Do I roll down my window and say hello (what do you want?)?

I never thought about it, but my job puts me in a higher profile than some other attorneys. Not that I deal directly with crime and slime, but I could be judged guilty by association. It's a scary thought, so I will banish it for analysis on another day.

Anyway...I pulled up and these guys identified themselves. Employees of a client out to give me an estimate on re-roofing the house. Oh yeah...Steve...trouble township has a trustee who's selling shingles. So I figured it wouldn't hurt to get an estimate. I forgot to tell you last night. Sorry.

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

I need creative ways to market the rescue dogs. I really want to find them good homes. We're on the internet, but that's hit or miss. I'm going to do the Petco adoption board. Any other ideas?

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

I found out that a female registered sex offender lives a few houses down from us. Ain't life wonderful?

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

I have to go work now. blah.

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

Monday, October 17, 2005

Nothing

Today...I got nothing. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I'm not interested in talking to anybody. Maybe I worked out my aggressions while pounding in the nails on our fence repair yesterday. Who knows. I'm going to go to bed and recharge for tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll think of something witty and attention-grabbing to blog about by tomorrow.

As Promised

Hello, as promised, I am returning to the world of blogging. I'm not used to writing about myself, so bear with me. Today I invited Sam's friend from daycare to come over for a playdate. I felt weird because this is a little girl; however, Sam really seems to enjoy playing with her, and She seems to enjoy playing with Sam. I'm told that they are inseparable at daycare. I guess that I felt weird because I am the only father that drops off and picks up their child, and I feel uncomfortable talking to the mothers of the other children, like I am some weirdo that doesn't belong there. I know that it is just in my head, but I can't help feel that way. Most of the other parents ignore me, I think it is becuase the teachers all talk to me when I arrive, and they ignore the other parents. Perhaps to overcompensate for the fact that I am the only father there. Fortunatly Sam's friend's mother is very friendly and has no problems talking to me.

This weekend we are going to Laura's birthday party. I am looking forward to this. Cathy and I haven't really been out with other adults, besides her parents, since before Alex died.

A bit of frill

I hope the new girly look doesn't scare off the hubster.

And again, I have revisions that show in the blogger preview...but not once published. What's that about?

A challenge of sorts

I wonder what it would take to get the wayward husband to post again? Maybe if our dear friends helped me, we could convince him to cut loose a few words for the masses?

PLEEEEEEEEEASE?

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Mommy...mommy...mommy

There is the constant, "Mommy...mommy...mommy..."

And Mommy tells him, "Sam, I asked you to be quiet."

And he looks up at me with a slight smile and says softly, "You're my best friend."

(long pause for everyone to say, "awwwwwwww.")

They don't know

Yesterday we slept late, grabbed a cheeseburger at McDonald's, and headed out for a day of wandering the outlet mall in central Ohio. We made a short pit stop at the auto mall right next door to the outlet mall. The recent what-will-break-next adventures, have made me realize it may be time to invest in a cheapo car that will reliably get me back and forth to and from work every day. After a test drive in a Hyundai something-or-other...with an airbag light that wouldn't turn off and an air blower that wouldn't turn on...and the car salesman saying, "You've got to give me something here...how about x dollars a month," we decided to wait a bit and find the "perfect" junker. Actually, we HAVE the junker...we need the "perfect" cheap car that ISN'T a junker.

So...off we went to the outlet mall. In between stops at the twenty-five cent ride machines and the free playground we managed to hit exactly SIX stores. I swear, those amusements were either installed by a) someone who knew parents shop in twos, so the kid(s) can play with one parent watching while the other parent shops; or b) someone who has NO idea how much time it takes from the shopping experience for one child to experience all of these delights (because, of course, you can not pass up even ONE when you have a child in tow). But my wonderful husband took pity on me and sat at the playground watching Sam play while I was able to hit the candle store (to buy a small gift for a friend whose marriage is ending), and again while I wandered in Bath and Body Works' 50% off sale.

We got chocolate...the kind of expensive chocolate you can only get at those outlet mall shops (this one being Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory). Sam got chocolate covered marshmallows, and Steve and I got peanut butter cups that weighed about a quarter pound each. They were delish!

We would have shopped more, but we had agreed to transport some shelter pups up north to near home (on their way to rescue in New York state). So we loaded up two gorgeous shepherd mix girls and headed north.

On the way home, I sat in the front seat passenger seat and watched the sunset lights play across the trees that have started to change colors. The light itself was that gorgeous buttery yellow and marmalade orange that made the trees look like something in a painting. Beautiful doesn't seem quite a strong enough word to describe it.

As I was watching the light, I reflected on the day and its pleasantness, excluding the pushy car salesman and the potty training accident (which thankfully occurred in the outdoor mall hallway). I had a GOOD time. There was only one or two moments where there was anything remotely close to sadness or melancholy...one was walking past the Healthtex outlet and the other was when an adorable boy rode by in a stroller, about the same age Alex should be right now.

Now how did that happen?

I realized that none of the people know me. The saleslady at Bath & Body Works would sell me my shower gel the same as the way she would have before Alex died. Because she didn't know. The sales guy at the candle store would have been just as cute and friendly, because he didn't know. The salesman at the car dealership would have been just as pushy...because he didn't know.

There is freedom in not knowing...In not being taken along for the ride on the roller coaster to and from hell. There is peace in moving on. The fact that I can shop amazes me. But the fact that I enjoy it is almost beyond amazing. I'm definitely a softer, more friendly shopper now (though I did walk out on the car sales guy when he was a jerk). I'm definitely quieter and less quick to smile. But surrounding myself with people who don't know my sad sad story seems to provide at least a brief respite from the sadness.

And it was good enough to last through our visit with my parents today. I was able to smile knowingly when my mom showed up at our house with red eyes and a stuffed nose, saying, "We stopped on the way over here." They had visited Alex, and it was ok...it didn't even bring tears to my eyes.

Balance. It's all about balance. Balancing out those people who know with those people who don't know. Finding things to do and making sure I don't project my grief and sadness onto everyone I run into. I need to let it go every now and then. I know it will find me again. But there is relief in letting go of it when I can...maybe even happiness.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

October 15th - Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

To my Alex:
This has been a week of remembering for us. We remember, and we try to move forward. We will always miss you and we will always love you.


To my friends:
Thank you for everything. I could not have survived this without you.


To those I do not have the privilege of knowing who have suffered a loss:
I hold you close in my heart and wish that you find some peace. I'm so sorry you have reason to understand.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Boss' day lunch

I sat there today and silently ate my lunch...with the woman who gave birth in February, the woman who gave birth in March, the woman who gave birth in July (with her baby), and the man whose new wife is due in February with a boy.

It was ok.

I talked baby stuff with the moms and wished my male coworker congratulations on his wife's pregnancy.

I was ok.

Until someone joked how everyone had had a boy...how the boss should advertise open positions as the way to have a baby boy...a "boy guarantee" of sorts.

I froze.

I couldn't get up and walk out. It would be too obvious.

I couldn't cry. That would elicit pity that I don't need or want.

I couldn't smile and laugh. I felt no joy.

I couldn't look anyone in the eye. I didn't want them to see.

I can now tell you every ingredient in the vegetable lasagna I was eating.

I froze in my chair and searched for some answers in my God damned vegetable lasagna.

Guess what?

There are no answers in the vegetable lasagna.

And there are no guarantees.

I should have been a mechanic

$350

That's right boys and girls, when you ask them to do a brake inspection, they may or may not actually DO a brake inspection.

Brake lines...blown out...rust...$350.

sigh

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Let me tell you about my day

As I've said before, my bullshit meter is a bit off kilter since Alex died. It doesn't take too much to set me off. So the computer thing today at work really was a hassle. I dealt with it and was pretty proud of myself. All in all, not a bad day since I managed to miraculously get some work done in my weird little vibrating closet.

But then...and you knew there was going to be a kicker to this story...

I go to start my car...foot on the brake pedal the way you're supposed to do...and phhsssshhh...my foot goes to the floor. What the...? I get out and examine what I can only guess to be brake fluid all over the inside of the rim of the left rear tire. These are the new brakes I had put in on August 17th. These are the new brakes that cost me $592.13. And you know what the manager of the location tells me? "IF it's something we did, hopefully it's not, we will reimburse you for whatever it costs you to have it fixed, including towing."

IF?!?! I am about freaking ready to go postal. Do you KNOW the kind of day I've had? Do you KNOW that my bullshit meter has reached capacity for today?

I'm off to find a tow truck...and then I'm going to have a good cry.

Work...or something like it

Today I was going to take some time and write a really thoughtful post. But when I came into work (where I do some of my best blogging...always on my lunch break, of course), there was a note on my computer screen that said, "Catherine, I am working on your computer, please do not touch. Marc" Marc is the computer geek here at work. I discovered the note almost five hours ago. He's still not done. In fact, he thinks he has unleashed a virus in my computer that will require it to be wiped clean and reformatted.

So here I sit, in the corner office on the other side of the furnace closet. The office that a co-worker vacated at the first opportunity because the roof leaks and the walls and floors vibrate when the furnace/air conditioning turns on. We affectionately call it the vibrating office...where you have fun...just be careful not too much fun. Aside from the vibrations, the desk is stacked with water-wrinkled file boxes and papers from the last time the ceiling leaked and flooded the whole darn office (thank goodness there's no serious threat of rain today or I might be sitting here typing while holding an umbrella). There is literally a two foot clear space on the edge of the desk in which I'm supposed to work. I'm feeling a bit...claustrophobic. I cannot close the door and engage in my normal type-and-cry-fest that would leave me ready and willing to face the remainder of the day.

Do they not know that I can't work in these conditions...let alone blog?

Excuse me while I walk back to my office to retrieve the phone number of a client I need to call...

Oh holy heck! He's closed the door! To MY office! As though I shouldn't interrupt him!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Too much insight

It seems fate tries to punctuate those important days with what s/he must think is an exclamation point. Un/Fortunately, I have pretty much removed all surprise and amazement from my life, have learned to accept the possibility that ANYTHING can happen, and I just see yesterday as another comma in a rather long run-on sentence (much like this one).

Was it supposed to be funny that Alex's headstone was placed yesterday? Exactly five months after he was stillborn? That's sick, not funny. Was I really supposed to be impressed with the overly happy woman who called and left us a voicemail to tell us it had been set and we could "go take a look if we wanted?" Was the whole day...the whole exercise in raw emotion...supposed to bring me peace? Guess what? It didn't.

And despite our best attempts to discuss it, the future appears cloudy or hazy on a good day...and just plain dark on a bad one.

So here we are, with a big old rock with our dead kid's name on it, and no idea where we go from here...five months later. I am not a happy camper.

But today I figured out how to brighten the screen on my laptop when it's running on a battery...I did a load of laundry and washed the dishes...there was cold pizza for breakfast...there will be pork chops for dinner...I have one living son and a husband I adore...and I think the "puppy" and I have reached an understanding about her biting me. Not too bad.

It doesn't make up for that big rock with our kid's name on it, but I guess it will have to do for today.

I had a good day by myself the other day too, considering I spent it contemplating the meaning of life and all that crap. (Sorry I missed your call Julie.) The lake was windy and cold...but beautiful (that's Lake Erie, Jill, on the North shore of the great state of Ohio...not too far from lauralu and justinian and David). I marvelled at the sheer power of it all, life and death and the forces of nature that we can't control.

It was kind of funny that as I was having this inner conversation with the universe, these guys in hard hats drove their backhoe down onto the beach and started moving these giant boulders around, presumably in an effort to stop erosion from eating away the shoreline down by a relatively nice motel. I sat and watched them, three men that I would normally qualify as big guys, fighting the unwinnable fight against the power of the water and the wind and the tides governed by the moon. I admired their belief that they could somehow influence the forces of nature...but I also laughed that knowing laugh of someone who's been beaten at that game.

I walked the shoreline down to a bridge where, as illustrated in my photos, Jodi's love had obviously returned since 12-2-94 to revoke his/her grand statement carved thereon. It made me smile, and it made me sad. They had obviously, on that day, been so in love that they had planned to spend forever together. I wonder what happened to change their plans.

I saw the place where the water flows into the lake. It was strange, seeing the water flowing out into the waves that were crashing in. Despite the opposition in flow, the water just kept going, in both directions. It was oddly therapeutic to watch it...to see the natural combination of opposing forces. To the one side of the bridge was the river. Looking at it, you wouldn't even know it was flowing. But to the other side was the spot where the waters joined, even when it appeared they were fighting for direction.

I want a baby.

Do I even bother to plan? Do I dare to try?

The thing is, I'm not infertile. Never have been. I don't have the issues that a lot of other women have. I had a decent pregnancy with Sam. I had a picture perfect pregnancy with Alex...up until the end. So I will have to live through the entire next pregnancy wondering. Everything can measure perfectly, everything can sound perfect, everything can feel perfect...and your heart can be crushed and your dreams stolen by a tiny bacteria. I know the doctors will do their best the next time, but there is no trust left in me...no belief...no faith. There are no guarantees or promises.

I want a baby, but I'm terrified of losing again.

I know some people who say, "Whatever happens...happens." And that's great to say, when we're talking about OTHER people. But how do I protect MY heart? How do I create a baby that I want more than anything but not get too attached until it is actually born? I'm afraid that after losing Alex I will be even MORE attached to a baby in my belly...not less. More than anything I want that joy and expectation again. And I want that love.

I'm just not ready to go back and scratch my name off the bridge if I have to.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

One year

October 7, 2004 ~ Positive pregnancy test

October 11, 2005 ~

Dear Alex,

Today you should be four months old. You should be starting to eat solid foods (as the Gerber people keep telling me). You should be developing a little personality and learning to interact with others. You should have outgrown 3-6 month clothing already and you should be wearing 6-9 month outfits your grandma couldn't resist buying you even though she really can't afford it. You should be getting all ready for your first Halloween in your pumpkin costume. You should be making those first efforts to sit up all by yourself. You should be smiling and cooing at friends and family.

Instead, you are five months gone.

You left more than the emptiness in my tummy and the gaping hole in my heart when you left. You left these little swiss-cheese-like holes all over the place in our lives. Everywhere I look I see them. I hate them.

I was thinking yesterday how lucky I am to have loved enough to grieve for you. I knew the blessing of carrying your little soul around with me for those 35 weeks. That is why this is so hard...why it makes me so sad to not be able to see you and hold you...because I love you so much.

I took you a pumpkin and some bright fall flowers yesterday. Can you see them? Do you even know they're there? Do you know how many tears I cry for you every single day? Does it matter? Or are you just gone...nothing left but my memories?

Assuming you can still hear me, I've just got a bit of a rant I want to share. I'm sorry Alex, but you should know your mom's got a bit of a temper...nobody's perfect.

I have heard people say, for a variety of reasons over the past few days, that everything happens for a reason. Am I really supposed to take comfort in the fact that this is what I'm supposed to have? I do feel blessed to have met the wonderful people I have since you died...but is it really supposed to matter to me that I can talk to people about dead babies because I've had this experience? Doesn't it matter that I loved you so much and I wanted you here with me? Does God really think it was worth your life to teach me some lesson? Tell God I think that sucks and I hate him for it.

That's not true. I hate this...but I don't hate God. I'm entirely pissed off at God and wondering a lot about who he is and how he's supposed to fit in...but I don't hate him. I did. But my hatred has softened into mere anger, just as my grief has softened over the past five months into a sadness that I can manage. Don't get me wrong, I still have a temper. But I am learning to measure my right to be angry against others who have suffered more or worse then we have.

A friend talks about seeing tragedies around the world in a new way. Looking at the big picture and, while not wishing ill on others, saying to oneself, "Yeah, that's how it feels." You know what though? I'm sure there is someone looking at me and saying, "yeah, that's how it feels," as though I've got it good. I'm sure there is someone comparing their life to mine and thinking, "she finally got a small taste of what it's like." Of course I know the world doesn't know ME. But I've got a great life comparatively speaking. There's just this one thing that went wrong...one thing I would change.

There is just one thing I would change. Daddy and I talked about that a while back. We were so completely happy. We had a house, pets, family...it was all just right...such that if we had to do it all again we wouldn't change a thing because we really liked where we had landed. oooh boy, can that come back to bite you. I'll know now to never say something like that again. I wonder...what would you choose? Maybe you didn't want to be with us? I know that can't be true. You fought so hard to stay with us. If only we had paid better attention to your pleas for help...

Is there a reason for everything Alex? You've presumably got all the answers now. Would you mind whispering one or two in my ear as I sleep? I've always been the analytical one...the one who needed answers. This not knowing is killing me. Would it break all the rules if you just helped me a tiny bit here?

Some day I hope to be able to celebrate that you existed. Right now I'm still mourning that you don't.

I miss you to the moon and back my little one.

Monday, October 10, 2005

My day in pictures

Alone?

Five months ago was the last day I spent alone. It was the day I was home sick from work just before Alex died. I remember sitting in the house, watching soap operas, eating chicken noodle soup, and feeling like crap. My baby was dying inside of me.

Five months later, I'm alone for the day.

It really has been five months since I've been completely alone...just me and the animals. It's a strange sensation being in this house alone. Sam's toys sit almost mid-play, waiting for his return. There is no constant stream of questions or commentary to deal with...there are no expectations. Sure, there is a list of chores as long as my arm that I COULD be doing. But instead, I'm taking myself to the cemetery to clean up the last of the dying summer flowers on Alex's grave. Then I think I'm headed to the beach. I know it sounds strange considering it is about 55 degrees outside. But I need a quiet place to sit and think...and I'm a water baby...so the beach is the perfect choice. Maybe I'll pick up a sandwich on my way and have a sad little picnic for one.

One thing is for sure, I can't stay in this house alone today. There are just too many ghosts.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

I think I need to talk to someone

Meeting David this past week, and the subsequent flurry of emails from friends and acquaintances, has made me think that maybe I need to talk to a counselor or a therapist. Until recently, I have been very content to type out my thoughts, as it gives me an opportunity to think and organize before I "say" something. But getting the immediate feedback from the people we met at the play, including one supervisor of something or other (I'm sorry I didn't catch her name), made me realize that there's something lacking about this medium. I've been basically talking to myself....with occasional comment from others. But the interaction is hit or miss, depending on what is going on in the blogosphere on any given day. I realize I need a "real person" to give me some sympathy, understanding, coping advice.

Now I wonder, how do I find someone who's any good? There was a recommendation from the perinatologist...someone who specializes in perinatial loss counseling...but she's not covered by our insurance. Do I choose a full fledged psychologist? psychiatrist? would a support group be enough? How the hell did I get to a place where I am even asking these questions?

There have been so many moments during the past five months where I have asked that very question. How did I get here? The thing is, I know how I got here. So why do I keep asking that question?

There is a certain feeling of helplessness that leads me to feel like there must be some answers I'm missing. And there is. But they're not answers to the questions I've been asking. I mean, I can intellectually understand why this happened...how it happened...and I can intellectually tell myself that this is just the way life is now. It all makes sense...intellectually.

But I feel like my brain owes my heart some sort of an explanation. Disappointment...broken dreams...lost love...they're all things that my heart is feeling. No amount of reason is going to soothe the just plain hurt that I carry around with me every single day. It's not going to answer the one question I really want an answer to...Why me?

If I really want to move forward, I think the better question I could be asking myself is this...how do I deal with this? Not looking back. Not, "how did I get here?" Instead, "where do I go from here? how do I move forward from here?" But I'm so filled with the hurt that I can't even think about moving forward. I'm still starved for an answer to the "why me" question.

I think I need to talk to someone. Now to figure out who...

I need a nap.

Got the first bill for our 12 months same as cash loan that paid for new windows. Instead of the $3500 we signed an agreement for, the bill says it's more than $5300. Yep...gonna call Tuesday.

Went online to pay bills today. The online payment thingy won't let me schedule any payments before Wednesday. Guess those bills are going to be late.

The prospective adopters for one of our foster dogs decided to adopt another dog, after a whirlwind "who should we adopt?" tour. While I'm glad they adopted any dog, I'm disappointed Orbit didn't find a new home. He's so sweet.

The backyard fence project has ground to a halt. The posts need cement bases because our soil is all sand and they're not staying steady. Additionally, we need a different fencing material...the cheap stuff we bought ain't cutting it, we've decided. So...back to the home improvement store we go.

After much digging by husband and son, the pipes are uncovered and we have yet to discover what the problem is.

I have a holiday tomorrow and, for some unknown reason, I agreed to get up early and take the minivan in to the dealer for service to determine why the airbag light remains on.

I have no money and need what feels like $1000 worth of postage.

I think I WILL go take a nap now.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

I don't even know what to say

I'be been brutally honest here about just about everything. So I'm going to be brutally honest about this. I hope the person I'm talking about can understand that this comes from a place of deep hurt and it doesn't mean I wish her anything bad.

Why is it so freaking easy for some people? I have a friend who, last I heard, wasn't even sure she ever wanted to have another child (she has one girl, Sam's age). Now I get an email that she's pregnant. Everything is going according to plan and there are no disturbances...not even so much as a roadbump.

Then there's me.

This friend is truly a wonderful individual, and I wish her all the best with her pregnancy. I love babies. So I know how incredibly wonderful it is to find out you're pregnant. I WANTED a baby. So I know how much it hurts the soul when life goes on around you and your baby dies.

I found myself screaming, "I HATE THIS," at the top of my lungs today in my car (as tears streamed down my face...yes...I know...very safe to be driving in such a state). It sounds so juvenile to say this, but it's just NOT FAIR! I want some answers! I want to know why. I want someone to explain how some people can plan A and B and C...and everything will be perfect.

And then there's me.

What do I say? I want to smile and tell her how happy I am for her. But I also want to cry and tell her how cheated I feel. Not only do I not get to enjoy her experience, but I've lost my son, my future, my joy and happiness. And I want her to understand and tell me it's ok. But I also don't want to freak her out and make her run away from me and feel like she needs to hide this wonderful time. I want her to know that my sadness won't go away or get better...but it doesn't make me incapable of being her friend during her good times.

Why is it so easy for some? But not for me?

Friday, October 07, 2005

How much is too much?

I was reading deadbabymama's post about how people share more intimate things with her now that she's lost a child. And, being the insecure creature I am, I began to wonder if I am guilty of sharing too much with people who would rather not be a part of it.

I mean, I have this idea of grief and how I think people should be treated...but who's to say that that's the "right" way...who's to say that everyone should jump to my tune? I know I've suffered something other people can't even begin to fathom, but does that mean that I have the right to force my grief on them? Just as I expect my space when I need it to grieve, other people may want space to escape from the harshness of it. Am I merely playing on that old concept...the one I was forced to abandon a long time ago...if you love me then you will behave as I would like you to behave?

Have I, inadvertently, expected someone to accept my inner thoughts...my sharing of my feelings...because I've earned some special right to be selfish? some special right to share things with people that they would really rather not hear? does having a dead baby give me some special super powers that exempts me from having to consider that other people just may be tired of hearing me cry? how many people have listened to me, out of politeness, when they would rather really cover their ears and sing, "la-la-la-la?"

Further, I'm cautious about this because I've made some "friends" here through this blog (and my obsessive reading of other blogs), and I would like to think that I haven't become some strange person that people are secretly thinking should just shut the heck up. For example, meeting David on Wednesday and seeing his play meant a lot to me. It definitely helped me take a big step (or two) toward healing. But then I think, that's a lot of pressure to put on someone. Am I expecting him to be an expert of some sort just because he's been there? just because he's lost a baby? is it fair to think of him like that?

And there is always the secret fear, of course, that someone is thinking...shut up you whiner. I guess that stems from the normal sentiment of people around me who expect me to be "over it." It's so entrenched in my psychological expectations that I just can't seem to shake it. Do people step away from my writing and think...gee, what a kook? Have I shared anything that maybe I shouldn't have shared? Do the few people that I talk to wish I would shut up? Should I shut up?

Since Alex died, I have doubted everything. Not all at once...just most of my life...in drips and drabs...here and there...question after question. I have never really written for an audience. This has always been "my" place. If someone chose to read it, that was fine. But I never really censored myself for who might be reading it. I never really considered that people might think I'm a loon for some of the stuff I think and say.

Sam things to make you smile

"You can't vacuum poop!"

"Do you want to see my belly button?"

"Look mommy, I'm growing."

"I am NOT going to turn into a Fruit Loop...silly mommy."

"Mommy, are you done on the McPuter?"

"We are NOT having chicken for dinner tomorrow...it will make me sick again...we are having CHEESEBURGERS!"

"Do you like Jay Jay the Jet Plane? It's sure enough kinda creepy."

"I want to run around like a crazy dog."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

A fun game

Stolen from Cat.

Town I was born in
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Town I live in now (no, it's not the same town)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

My name (Catherine the Great)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

My grandmothers' names (Stephanie, my mom's mom-the feminine of Stephen-From the Greek name Στεφανος (Stephanos) which means "crown".)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com and (Ruby, my Dad's mom) Image hosted by Photobucket.com

My favorite food
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

My favorite drink
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

My favorite song (Unanswered prayers...there were a couple other pictures I could have put here, obviously)
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

My favorite smell
Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I am not imagining things

The nurse practitioner who reviews cases for the attorney we have consulted, has advised that our case be further reviewed by an actual doctor.

Regardless of what happens from this point forward, I KNOW that I'm not crazy. I KNOW that our son should be here...alive. If only I had had competent medical treatment...

I'm so sorry Alex.

In memory of my Alex Posted by Picasa

In remembrance of baby Melody Posted by Picasa

A much needed break

I was forced to take today off work today because Sam only goes to daycare four days per week, with Wednesdays normally off. But since we used daycare so we could go to the play yesterday, we had to take another day off. I'm glad I took today instead of tomorrow off. I didn't realize seeing the play yesterday would do me in like it has. I feel wrung out like a wet dishrag. But it's different than the old sadness. I wish I could put it into words and explain this change that I feel. I'm just glad I have the day to mull it over and get some perspective before I have to face work for a day.

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

It appears as though the drunken septic mapper wasn't so drunk when he drew the diagram for our system. Though the reference points are all backwards, the system is EXACTLY where he said it would be. Finally...something easy. Now we cross our fingers and hope that this solves our problem and we don't have to worry about tree roots blocking our lines.

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

I made my first batch of MOM Project bracelets. I'm off to see if I can post a picture.

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

My headache is gone and my Sam just asked me if I wanted to see his belly button. It's not a bad day after all.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Loved "I Hate This"

Another Wednesday...another week without Alex.

Steve and I spent the afternoon travelling to the "big city" to see David's play I Hate This. I stumbled upon his blog shortly after Alex died and, as fate would have it, shortly after David's son Orson was born. You see, David's first child, Calvin, was stillborn in the same room, at the same hospital, that we delivered Alex (and much of the play takes place in that room). Following their loss, David and his wife returned to that hospital twice...and had two healthy babies. I was struck by the similarities in our losses...and the hope of a new baby. I felt compelled to email David to inquire about his play. He was kind enough to email me back. His was the first voice of understanding I found online. His was the first voice that made me feel like less of a freak. His was the first voice of experience to tell me that I would survive this. I could believe him because he had been there.

So we found a free parking space (Steve is, after all, a New Yorker at heart) and ventured into the hospital to find the auditorium. We were both nervous but excited. With only a little directional confusion, we were able to find the place and chose a seat in the back. We saw David standing up next to the stage, but he is an actor, so we weren't sure whether to approach him before the performance to just say hello. He could have been preparing, or whatever magical ritual he engages in before a performance, and we didn't want to intrude. But he saw us and walked right up the steps to introduce himself and say hello.

It was odd. Here is this man who I have never met, but yet to whom I owe those first days of sanity. Then, he did something that I will never forget. While introducing us to some friends of his who are affiliated with the hospital hosting the show, he said my son's name. He didn't say, "had a stillborn child." He didn't say, "lost their baby." He said, "Their son, Alex, was stillborn." I don't think I can ever thank him enough for that moment. Embarassingly, the tears started then (and continue on to this moment), because it hit me that, aside from my mother, nobody speaks Alex's name out loud. Most people refer to him as "the baby." And here was David, not afraid to openly acknowledge that Alex existed and was a very real part of our lives. He didn't feel any of those things that we so often have to deal with...fear, embarassment, discomfort. It was as natural to him as it is to us to say Alex's name. It was good.

The play itself is amazing. As I watched it I found myself crying, of course. But I laughed too. And more than once, I found myself nodding my head in acknowledgment and understanding. The play covers the moment they learned their baby had died, delivery, and the months of grief that follow during the first year. David has captured so many of the things we talk about when our child dies. His play helped me to make sense of some of the things I've been thinking and feeling since Alex died...things that have been floating around in my brain without context or a sense of order.

It's amazing that my one desperate email has led me to a point where I'm able to watch this play with a sense of understanding and healing. For so long, losing Alex has been ALL of my life. Watching David's play, I realized that he had learned to incorporate his loss INTO his life as a part of him. After a while, it no longer consumes everything. Instead, you learn to accept it and make it a part of you...your history. You'll never control it. You'll never change it. You just learn to deal with it.

Quite honestly, sitting in the same room as that rocking chair (a stage prop that looks remarkably like the actual rocking chair in L&D #17) made me a bit twitchy. I remember, clear as day, sitting in that rocker after changing into the hospital gown. I remember sitting there while some nurse asked me a zillion questions for my admittance. I remember sitting in that chair, thinking that as long as I stayed in that chair and didn't get in that hospital bed, things would be all right...Alex wouldn't be dead. I hate that rocking chair.

I wish I could bring this play to all of you all around the world. I think you would find it as healing as I have. Again, David's voice has made me feel less alone. As I said to my husband, "I feel like less of a freak." Thank you doesn't seem like enough. But that's all I have right now.

I have continued to cry all day. But it is a good cry. It has shown me that I can remember and be sad, but it's different now. It's not the all-out gut-wrenching sobbing and sadness that I felt in those first few months. Perhaps I am learning to deal with the knowledge that my baby boy is gone. And with the help of amazing people like David, I'm able to understand where I'm at...and more importantly, where I'm heading.

It has also reminded me that my husband is standing right here next to me...ready to hold my hand when I need it...ready to kiss away my tears when he can...or let them fall when he can't. It reminded me that he loved Alex too. And that regardless of everything else, we will always be able to speak Alex's name to each other. And if we're lucky, we'll find other people who are willing to speak Alex's name too.

David, if you read this, I want to say that I'm eternally grateful that you took the time to email me back then. And I can't thank you enough for sharing your story with us today. It takes something special to be able to share your heart and offer hope to someone. And thank you for speaking Alex's name out loud.

Another Wednesday...another week without Alex.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

I don't have control, I don't have control, I don't have control...

When I feel myself flying off the handle about stupid stuff, I just keep repeating this mantra and it somehow makes me calmer. Most everything I am uptight about, and get upset about, has something to do with my lack of control over it. I have a tough time accepting that people are individuals and I can't expect everyone to do as I please (though a girl can dream of that kind of utopia, can't she?).

I was upset with my mother because she asked me to hem a dress in a manner that I think makes it less attractive. But it's not MY call.

I was upset with my husband for not putting a cap on the pipe in the basement because he said he would do it. I can't control the water...and I think we all know I can't control my husband. :o)

I have too much work and not enough attention span. I suppose I could get creative and find SOME control over this...but that sounds like too much effort for too little pay.

I'm finally realizing that there is very little I actually do control. And I'm finding that, despite my previous assertions of being rather laid back, I have been very much a control freak for the majority of my life. I wonder what I have missed along the way while I've been obsessing about control?

Even more disturbing, I find myself slipping back into old habits, fretting about stuff over which I have no control (or very little control). What's to be gained by worrying when I am powerless to do anything about it BUT worry? Nothing. So why do I do it?

There seems so much more happiness when I accept life and live it, instead of worrying how things are or are not going according to my plans.

I don't have control, I don't have control, I don't have control...

Because I know you love these stories

It has been determined that we have a problem with our sewage/water disposal system. The craftily hand-drawn map, identifying the location of our dry well like some pirate treasure, indicates that our septic was last cleaned in 2000. So, we think we need it cleaned.

This wouldn't be noteworthy at all...if we had ANY CLUE where to locate our septic. You see, aside from the cleaning date notation, it's not actually ON the map. And the drawing submitted to the health department with the permit application was apparently drawn by someone who was either drunk or pictorially dyslexic (I think I just made up a new word...cool!). Steve suggests we get drunk and then perhaps the application drawing will make sense. (While I'm up for any activity that involves drunkenness, I don't hold out too much hope that it will work to help us solve the mystery of the missing septic system.)

The poor septic cleaner/repair guy was baffled. And after looking at the paperwork, I am baffled too. So the solution will be to flush a $75 radio transmitter down our toilet and see where it ends up. Yes, that's right, I'm going to flush $75 down the toilet. Why does this seem completely and totally appropriate this year?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Nothing on Amazon.com

I have searched and searched and searched...
Though some purport to provide you with the one-size-fits-all method to deal with grief and loss, there is no guide to finding your happiness again after the universe has kicked you in the teeth and stolen your baby. There isn't a single thing written that I haven't thought or said myself...nothing that will help me deal with this any better than I am. There are a gazillion books on pregnancy, post-pregnancy weightloss, and how to care for your new baby. But there are none that will lead me, like a treasure map, to the end of the rainbow where I will find joy again.

Maybe I'll try eBay.

Rubber Ducky...You're the One...

Remind me again how much I love living in an old farmhouse that needs work. This morning I woke late and was in the middle of enjoying my nice hot shower when my lovely assistant, we'll call him Beavis, opens the shower curtain and announces my shower is backing up in the basement.

"A lot?" I inquired.

"Yeah, a lot," he stated simply.

I contemplated briefly and said, "Well, I'm finishing my shower anyway," and he disappeared back behind the curtain.

It seems the plumber was right when he recommended a cap on that backup pipe in the basement. Thankfully, his prediction of sewage backing up didn't hold true...at least not yet.

Now I will avoid the obvious husband bashing that often accompanies these events. Lesson learned here girls...if something needs done...do it yourself.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Sorry to disappoint

...but there will be no beaded thongs this Christmas. After a day of hard work and half a bottle of wine, I fell completely and soundly asleep...only to have the worst nightmares.

Steve and I talked about watching for nests of yellow jackets in the ground while we were working outside on the fence. But my nightmare consisted of me poking at a hornet's nest...in the basket underneath a baby stroller. Make of that what you will, but I was not amused. You would think that I could get some fun dreams here already! Particularly when I've gone to the effort to drink myself silly. I mean really! I'm tired of this horse shit!

Anyway...

No fence today. We slept late, toddled off to the home improvement store only to be told they wouldn't cut our lattice for us (despite our having had the exact same thing done at a similar store not a week ago). I was tired and cranky and not at all in the fence-building mood. So we went to the dollar store and picked up some kid's bubble bath (unfortunately, our stinky child fell asleep before actually taking a bath so I will just have to be embarassed when he goes to daycare all gross tomorrow. Perhaps I will try to sponge him off tomorrow morning). We also went to the pet store to buy a couple collars for a dog or two. We hit Kmart for the super sale on bed in a bag (I LOVE my new bedding).

And the piece de resistance (I have no idea how to type that so it sounds French)...I went into Babies R Us today, as I know from experience that they have the cleanest bathrooms in town. I realized I despise everything that place stands for. They have all these "expectant parent" things...classes, products, etc. The whole thing, from the time they get a positive pregnancy test, is a happy journey for them. Not for us...not anymore. I have no use for anything from Babies R Us anymore. None of it. I feel like the road weary traveler who can tell you all the tales of horrible things down the road. The journey is no longer important. Now I just want a happy and healthy baby. I have never wanted to fast forward time so badly in all my life. I want to skip over all the crappy scary stuff and just go right to the happy moment where I get to bring a new baby home to be a part of our family. Is that so wrong?

No fence, no happy dreams, no baby...it would seem it was all going to be a completely crappy day.

But magically somehow, watching my dad and my son whack black walnuts out of the tree with a large stick this evening made me smile and giggle and realize that it all isn't so bad. Seeing my husband do his victory lap around the yard after fixing the springwater pump for the horses made me feel at home...at peace. Having my mom and dad climb through the bushes to help me get the fence ready to be put up sometime later this week made me laugh hysterically and think about what I have...instead of what I've lost.

Now I've just got to find somebody to cut my lattice for me again. And I wouldn't complain if I had a happy dream or two...maybe I'll try the wine again. But there won't be any drunken beading. I'm quite careful to avoid any drunken activity that might embarass me too much later.
Yesterday went relatively well with only two slight incidents with the posthole digger.

The first...it slipped out of Steve's hands and the auger remained still while the machine spun furiously around and around in a maddening, "catch me if you can," sort of way. Would have been funny if not so darn dangerous. Steve lost no fingers catching it, while I stood there dumbfounded as to what to do if he couldn't catch it. Stand there and let it run out of gas was my choice. I guess power tools just are not my thing.

The second...I was walking over the meet the mail lady who had driven up the drive to deliver the lampshades I bought off eBay (I'm relatively happy with them, thanks for asking), when I hear, "AAUUGGHH!" I looked over to see Steve holding the machine in one hand and the right side of his jaw in the other. My question, quite naturally was, "Did you break anything?" Steve answered, "I'm all right." Lesson learned...keep your face away from any machinery that has the potential to spin around and knock you silly.

But we got all the posts in. In one day! Imagine that! Another lesson learned...power tools, even though I'm deathly afraid of them, are beautiful things when they expedite an otherwise torturous chore.

Today we're going to opt out of the Pumpkin Festival in order to get more work done. Quite honestly, the Pumpkin Festival sounds like more fun, but we live in NE Ohio and must accept the fact that in the Snow Belt, we don't get a lot of nice weather in October. We need to get a move on before we're buried under three or four feet of the white stuff.

This morning we're only slightly sore, so our enthusiasm is still holding. Maybe not quite as strong as it was yesterday morning... but if we can manage not to hurt one another, it will be a good day.

By the way...I think they know we're building them a doggy playground and the dogs are VERY excited. :o)