Tuesday, January 31, 2006

It seems I suck on so many levels

I'm jealous of my friends with more than one child. I simply can't relate to them because I find that missing what I should have overshadows any possible feelings of happiness I could have for them. Now I've been taken to task for those feelings. I'm apparently allowed to have them...I just shouldn't express them. My blog has recently become a place where people feel free to tell me what they think I should write about...what I should think...what I should feel. A friend has even emailed me to tell me how disappointed she is in me.

Apparently my inability to smile and pretend that things are just peachy keen is offensive. I am apparently hurting my friends with more than one child by admitting that it hurts to be around them. I'm apparently a bitch for requesting an extra ounce of sensitivity from people in that they not send me smiling happy shiny family pictures with their Christmas cards. I'm additionally insensitive for not being able to contact people and instruct them on what kind of support I need to get through this. I should just be quiet and let people unintentionally hurt me...after all...they're happy...why should they have to change how they think or act?

Now I see why blogs become watered down...or stop altogether.

This is the honest truth. This is how I feel. If it hurts your feelings or you are otherwise upset with what I write, feel free to not read. I won't apologize for expressing how I feel. I'm trying to find my way to a new normal...a normal that I can't explain to you (if you don't understand it on your own). Deal with it.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Yarn goodness

My alpaca/angora yarn...isn't it pretty? You really can't tell how soft it is with my poor photographic abilities. But trust me...it's soooooo soft.




And a BIG THANK YOU to my secret pal! A fabulous package was waiting for me when I got home from my crappy day at work today. I love it! I can't wait to sit down and get to learning to knit. And soft yummy purple yarn...my favorite color...thank you! (And thank you for the virtual hugs...I appreciate it)

A woman can only take so much

Over the past eight months I have tried very hard to be understanding and to not make people uncomfortable when dealing with me. I have worked hard to make my life about more than just losing Alex. I have really searched my soul to find the pieces of me that remain whole and untarnished...and build something that isn't bitter and angry and sad.

But as I sit here typing this, there is a screaming seven day old baby in the next office.

Now never mind that our LAW office is no place for a baby...seven days old or seven months old. And never mind that the child is obviously unhappy about being here, for whatever reason. And never mind that I already gave them a baby present just to show how kind I can be (when a baby department/store is pretty much one of the most painful places I can ever find myself). Never mind that the endless baby-related talk is making me want to run screaming from the building.

Never mind all that.

Just tell me how much I'm supposed to take?

The parade of babies through this office is just too much. I was once a part of all of that...the happy anticipation and the shared joy of welcoming a new little person into the world. There was a time when I would have gladly oohed and ahhed over a screaming bundle of joy without one single nasty comment or thought coming to mind. But now? Now I'm lonely...isolated...afraid. My office door was closed before the screaming baby appeared...and closed it remains, despite the new father's obvious "announcement" for everyone to come out and meet the precious little one. I so desperately want to be a part of that again. But I know that if I open the door, I run the risk of falling apart...the risk that the tears will come uncontrollably.

I know what they all must think of me. I know because of the hushed whispers that stop when I come around a corner into a room. I know there is a combination of pity and impatience for me. Yes, I lost a child...but why can't I be happy for other people? Aren't I over it yet?

But I know too what they would think if they were witness to my immediate deconstruction at the sight of the kind of miracle that eluded me. Maybe there will come a day when I can look into the face of a newborn baby and not see the gaping empty hole in my own life.

But right now it's just too much. I'm not strong enough. I wish they would understand that too.

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

Oh crap. I was sitting here crying and daddy knocked on the door. (Doesn't a closed door buy you ANY privacy these days?) So I dried my eyes as best I could, took a deep breath, and told him to come in. To his credit, he didn't run away, but rather walked right in and introduced us. His son is beautiful. And I feel like I've been flattened by a truck. And I can't stop crying.

Why did this have to happen to me? to us? I want to know damn it!

(On the up-side...I guess I'll get to find out what happens when they see me fall apart.)

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

Daddy stopped by my office later in the day to tell me how sorry he was that I was upset...how sorry he was for everything I had to go through. He made me cry AGAIN. I know he meant well...and he was so kind (more than any mommy has ever been who hasn't suffered a loss). He really tried to comfort me...I have to give him points for that. He's a good guy and he'll be a great daddy to his new boy. And hopefully someday I'll look at his baby and not cry.

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

MB...I would have told your therapist to f*ck off too. rofl

Crochet Help Needed

If anyone knows of a good crochet christening gown (boy) pattern (reasonably priced), could you let me know? Thanks!

Friday, January 27, 2006

To my secret pal

If you were so inspired...I would LOVE this pattern. :o)

How I know I've been away from civilization too long

I am seriously realizing that I have spent entirely too much time in the country lately. I REALLY need a city fix. Maybe a lunch out with mom? Or dinner out with Steve? Oh, it's not that we don't go OUT...it's that we go to little places like "Best Friends Restaurant" where the gravy covers everything. I need something fancy schmancy and decidedly less artery-clogging.

What brings this up, you ask? My laundry. Yep...I've gone round the bend about my laundry.

The other day I received some clothes I had bought off eBay. They came in a recycled brown box (you know you do it too), but they were carefully placed in between some crisp pieces of white tissue paper and were obviously freshly dry-cleaned and pressed. They even still had the dry cleaners tags on them! I was ecstatic! I haven't used a dry cleaners since...oh lord...I don't know when. There has got to be something seriously wrong with me if I'm getting this excited over freshly laundered clothing.

Then this morning, I was ironing my button down "stretch" shirt (you know the kind...cotton/spandex blend that us fat girls wear to give the impression that we have a figure somewhere under our fat rolls) and all I kept thinking was, "No matter how much I iron this shirt it's not going to look like those other ones did from the cleaners." And I was actually sad about it! I started calculating in my head how much it would cost me to have my work shirts cleaned and pressed weekly (too much if I'm going to maintain any sort of other bad habits...like buying expensive yarn...and eating). Then I realized that it really wouldn't matter anyway. Here I am getting all dressed up (and it's not even "dressed up" by NORMAL professional standards), and I KNOW I'm going to walk into my meeting this afternoon to find at least one person wearing jeans and work boots...maybe even a worn out baseball cap.

I DO love the country. It has many advantages. But I really think I need to revisit civilization every now and then or I just might start wearing my wrinkled pajama pants to the grocery store (but now I'm told that may actually be "IN" now...who knew?).
---------------------------------------------------------
I took the plunge and bought the 80% alpaca, 20% angora yarn from my friend. It's so soft, I just want to sit here and pet it for a while. It's a natural color...I will post pictures later. Now I just need to figure out what I want to make with it. She tells me it doesn't have the "memory" of other types of yarns, so something flowy or drapey would probably be best. And before someone suggests it...no...I still will not make a poncho. To find the perfect pattern...

Good grief...I've been in the country so long I'm buying locally produced textiles/fibers and making my own clothes.

Help!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Baby Ella

Please send a good thought out to Kelly, Todd, and big sister, Lydia, as they remember Ella, stillborn on January 26, 2004 (38 weeks, 4 days). She weighed 7lbs, 13ozs, and was 21 3/4 inches long. She is buried just down the cemetery aisle from our Alex.

On the day that we were trying to decide where to bury our sweet Alex, I stumbled on Ella's website and I knew. Through a twist of fate, I ended up on the same message board as Kelly, Ella's mom. We have since exchanged a few emails and hope to get together sometime when they move back to the area. It sounds weird, but on that awful day in May, I didn't feel so alone standing in that cemetery. And to this day, I always stop and say hi to Ella on my way to visit Alex. So I couldn't let this day pass without sending up a wish for peace for Ella and her family.

Happy Second Birthday sweet girl.
Congratulations to JL (the guy who has an office next to mine), on the birth of his son, Michael, this past Monday. He weighed in at 6 pounds, 4 ounces and was 18 inches long. A little early, but everyone is doing fine.

I'm already behind

Randi at I Have to Say has started quilting lessons for a pinwheel quilt. She posted the first lesson on Monday...and I haven't even bought my materials yet! eeks! I may just have to archive the lessons and work at my own pace later. I'm not feeling particularly inspired just now. Maybe a trip to the fabric store is in order. :o)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I try not to be bitter

There are times when I catch myself looking at Sam and thinking how drastically our lives have been changed forever...while at the same time thinking how not much has changed at all. It can be, at times, as though Alex never existed. We lost hopes and dreams but really we didn't lose that much of an actual part of our lives. How can someone who's loss I mourn every single day not really have existed?

All around me I find reasons to be bitter. People who are so hopeful. People who are so happy. People who are able to put the past behind them and move forward after something bad happens to them. A part of me wants to rain all over their parade...to tell them not to count their chickens before they're hatched...nothing is guaranteed. A part of me wants to tell them to shut up and feel miserable for a even a fraction of a second...or in some cases to maybe remember what it's like to be miserable. And then I realize what I sound like and I bite my tongue and ponder what is wrong with me.

I don't want anyone to look forward. But I think that's just me. I don't want to look forward. I don't really want to look back because that's too painful. But I don't want to look forward either...that's too scary. I'm stuck in bitterness land and it's not a fun place to be. But then again, if I only lost hopes and dreams, why am I so damn bitter? Why can't I feel the normal emotions you're supposed to feel for people who have found hope and happiness and healing?

Monday, January 23, 2006

The throw-ups

My husband is a far stronger person than I. That's what I choose to believe instead of that he's just more lucky than I. Sam brought home "the throw-ups," and as Darwin requires, we all get to share in the joy. Sam spent Friday night and Saturday puking. He was over the worst of it by Sunday and we even enjoyed some time outdoors on Sunday afternoon when it became apparent that the Steelers were going to beat Steve's beloved Broncos. We were inside for a total of two hours when I started to feel "not right."

Round about the time the San Andreas nuclear reactor was about to meltdown on West Wing...so was I. Fifteen hours of stunning digestive pyrotechnics later (I love 10 Things I Hate About You) I was ready to curl up and die. Unfortunately, the alien living in my abdomen didn't feel that sleep was necessary. So I stumbled to the kitchen for a popsicle, lovingly purchased for me by my husband this morning shortly after the grocery store opened (he went to work late so that he could be sure I had everything I needed...namely enough toilet paper to support my three roll a day habit). As I was opening the freezer, the kitchen door opens and in skips Sam, healthy as a horse. He was followed closely by a trudging Steve, looking a bit green around the edges.

But here's where we get to that stronger thing. He hasn't puked once! Not one single time! I spent 15 hours sitting on the toilet with my head in a bucket, utilizing the emergency exits on both ends of my body...and he gets over it all by just sleeping it off. Now, it probably helped that he hadn't eaten anything when he started to feel "not right" (where I had eaten a French Dip sub...which I will not be eating again anytime soon). But come on! Not that I wish him ill...but can't I catch a break here? What IS his secret? Once he's conscious again, I may have to interrogate it out of him.

Good news is, Sam is completely normal so I'm hoping this only lasts a maximum of 48 hours.

And I just have to share why I love Sam's daycare. They heard he was sick over the weekend and the director made him some special chicken soup for lunch. How do I convince them to come here and take care of me and Steve?

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Saturday, January 21, 2006

The key to success

Apparently, the best way to get great results from my houseplants is to add some plant food and then completely ignore them.

Yellow primrose



African violet

Friday, January 20, 2006

Comments

You are all amazing! Thank you for your very thought-provoking comments to my diatribe.

Holley ~ You are exactly right and I hope you don't mind if I adopt your words as my new motto...People never get smarter or stronger if they are given no information.

Sweetcoalminer ~ No worries. Your thoughts are honest and fair. I have a whole lot of thoughts about lawyers and the legal profession as it relates to wrongful death and medical malpractice, not the least of which is my absolute horror at the way justice is dealt away for a certain price. My lawyer may not be happy with me for saying this...but no amount of money will replace our Alex. I am pursuing a lawsuit simply because I want the doctors to KNOW that I know they screwed up. And I want to help protect the next innocent woman who walks into that practice. If ultimately there is no case or there is a case and we lose, I can handle that. But I won't be silenced. I won't ever let them think that they can continue to do what they do because people are too afraid to speak up against them. This is too important. And my dare was not directed at you...but is a general dare to anyone involved in my situation. Go ahead and say I didn't do what a normally prudent person would do. My defense...I did what the doctors told me to. I would love to see the legal spin put on that one.

In no way did you offend me. And I'm sorry I sounded defensive or as though you had upset me. It's difficult to express my emotions accurately sometimes.

My dear friend lauralu ~ I completely understand where you are coming from and I am sorry if I sound insensitive. I often get on my soapbox and can't see when my mouth may have hurt someone's feelings. Of course the naivete of pre-loss pregnancy is something you would long for. All the worry and the stress is not something to take lightly, by any means.

Please understand that my opinion is not purely from a sane, ration, objective level. My opinion comes from the knowledge that my son could very well be alive if only...

While you come from a place where all that preventative stuff was valiantly tried, and ultimately failed, I come from a place where I didn't even know. I didn't have the necessary information because everyone apparently thought it too rare an occurrence to share with me. In fact, I was distracted by the possibilities of gestational diabetes and other accusations based on my being a fat pregnant woman...when I didn't even have gestational diabetes. I tested negative three times for it. What a waste of time that was. What a completely useless exercise. And yet nobody thought to non-stress test my baby when I was so sick and complaining of symptoms. It simply boggles my mind...and pisses me off.

So while I understand the need to feel blissfully naive, I can't help but think that that naivete comes at the price of my son's life. I know it's not logical and it's not fair. But dammit, it's not fair that I had to bury my son because nobody told me what to look for.

And honestly...if someone had told you all the information during a previous "normal" pregnancy (and you didn't face any the problems you did)...don't you think you would still maintain some real level of naivete? I mean...you were told about Downs, and gestational diabetes, and all that without falling to pieces. I would venture to guess that your lack of naivete really stems from actually losing Hans, rather than talking about the possibility of losing him. But I could be wrong.

Jill ~ Two things that immediately sprung to my mind reading this post is that 20000 people in any segment of society is a massive number. It is ludicrous that so many deaths can be ignored and I feel certain that the deaths of 20000 women, or African Americans, or Jewish men (etc..) would be met with panic and massive financial and academic resources.

Absolutely! For some reason, this particular segment of the population is just supposed to suck it up and accept that this is an "acceptable risk." I don't understand it. And I don't understand the thought process that says we're too emotionally weak to handle the realities...the information.

mopsy ~ I totally agree. The "Joy" of pregnancy is a luxury, not a right. It wasn't until the latter half of the twentieth century when women became deluded into thinking pregnancy = guaranteed living Gerber baby.

You know, I hadn't even thought of that. I'm going to have to do more research. I wonder when it was we changed our approach and became so completely full of sunshine about pregnancy? When did we lose the natural fear and why? It really hasn't been that long, so it shouldn't be too hard to pinpoint. I wonder if it isn't directly related to doctors and medical professionals repeatedly telling us "not to worry." It's like we went from a realistic look at pregnancy and its risks to some sort of mass delusion that we had NO worries at all. Bizarre.

To everyone who can't see my blog in it's holiday format, what web browser are you using? (**never mind...just let me know if you can see it now**)

Now that I've beaten the horse to death...I need to come up with something original to blog about. hmmm...

Who says there is no power in email?

Manhattan, NY (OPENPRESS) January 20, 2006 -- About 2 weeks ago the customer service department at Lion Brand Yarn received an email message from a blind customer. The customers message said that they could not access the yarn and crochet patterns that the site offers their users. Something needed to be done.

Nancy Miracle, the Webmaster for the Lion Brand Web site needed more information on how to resolve this problem, so she reached out to a group of blind and visually impaired knitters. As a result of this collaboration the Lion Brand Web site now offers hundreds of knit and crochet patterns that are computable with "text to speech" Web browsers and devices that produce Braille from Web pages. The company now also gives detailed written description of the patterns and colors that appear in each of the yarns that they manufacture.

"According to the American Federation For the Blind, the minimum number of visually impaired computer users is about 1.5 million." said Ilana Rabinowitz, the director of consumer marketing for Lion Brand. "We know from user feedback that we have an active group of visually impaired customers who are passionate about yarn crafts and want access to our Web site to obtain knitting and crochet patterns. With the recent changes, these users now have complete access to 1,500 patterns."




(OK...who else loves the fact that Nancy Miracle was on the case?)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I almost forgot!

I must share my big accomplishment yesterday...I got ALL the laundry done and I purged my sock/underwear drawer so that it now closes completely!

No applause is necessary.

A new look for Valentine's Day

...or...

How I avoided work this morning.

More comment response

why freak people out? why cause that anxiety (which is neither healthy for mother or baby)?

This is exactly the kind of mentality that keeps stillbirth from being addressed. It accepts the status quo. It accepts that sometimes these things just happen. My assertion is that while yes, sometimes these things do just happen and nothing can be done, there are times when something can be done. There are times when babies could be saved. If education and a freak out is going to reduce the risk (even by a little bit) that even one baby will die, I choose the education.

But quite honestly, I find it ludicrous to think that women can't handle information and education. Why freak us out? Because we are better off armed with information. Doctors monitor gestational diabetes...we are offered information and education (including many references to stillbirth)...and very few women actually "freak out" over it. We are offered AFP testing, which has a less than stellar track record for diagnosing true problems. And yes, there is stress involved...but it is the woman's choice whether to get the information. I should be informed of all healthcare aspects of pregnancy by my doctor. A doctor should never tell you, "Oh, that's so rare, you really don't have to worry about it." It is my right to know. And, in my opinion, the healthcare profession does a great disservice to women by hiding the real possibilities from us.

Someone on my mommy message board said, "I didn't know that could happen to a woman in this day and age," when referring to her friend who suffered a massive stroke while delivering her baby. She didn't know it could happen! That says to me that there is a huge gap in the information we provide to women. And why? Because we're too emotionally fragile to handle some education on the topic?

I would trade my fragile sensibilities for a better chance at bringing home a live baby (and surviving the experience myself). I refuse to believe that we need to dumb down our healthcare to protect those who are unable to process or deal with what is the reality of life and death. And this is life and death. It's time we stop acting like it's all about what stroller you register for and start paying attention to what really matters. "Protecting the joy" of pregnancy seems silly if it means babies have to die so the majority of women can remain blissfully naive. And my assertion still stands that we're imagining that women need protected from themselves...from education. Women can handle it. We're not wilting flowers who need to be guarded from information. We should be offered everything relevant so that we can make the best choices for us and our unborn children. We should demand better of our healthcare system.

Don't tell me everything...I don't want to know...I'm happier this way pretending that nothing can go wrong.

That's insane on so many levels.



(**and I won't delete comments just because we disagree...there's enough room in my brain for a variety of viewpoints**)

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Dragging me kicking and screaming

Someone said that Sam would drag me through the holidays kicking and screaming (probably a figurative reference and not an indication of how this person feels about Sam), and it was true...he did. He and Steve pulled me through. And they are the reason I wake every day and go on. This is a good thing...right?

I watched a cheesy movie the other day...I think it was called Only You with Marissa Tomei. There was a line of dialogue in there...humans have an amazing capacity for moving on...it's what we do...move on.

All the distractions in my life have helped me move on, I suppose. But I wonder if my concentration on moving on hasn't cheated my memory of Alex. I wonder if he doesn't deserve better. More attention...more something.

Comment response

I didn't know that stillbirth was preventable?! What were you supposed to do to prevent it?!

There are many things that can be done to prevent stillbirth from occurring. Many of these things depend on intensive monitoring of the pregnancy after early detection of a problem (sounds like a slogan of heard somewhere...early detection is key).

Many stillbirths (and miscarriages for that matter) are the result of blood clotting disorders or other treatable conditions. We aren't tested for them until AFTER we have suffered a loss.

In cases of knots in the umbilical cord, and in many cases of cord accidents, a trained ultrasound technician should be able to see the development of the problem (knot, too short of cord, cord looped around a body part that could become compressed during labor). The sad fact is that many u/s techs are not trained to do this type of exam.

In my case, the case of ascending intrauterine infection, paying attention to the symptoms in order to accurately diagnose...and then treating with IV antibiotics...could have been successful. No non-stress test was performed on my baby to determine if there was a problem. I was a victim of a doctor who was too busy to pay attention.

There are SO MANY causes for stillbirth. There are SO FEW health researchers studying these causes and what can be done about them. It is as though the world has accepted the 1% risk as hunky-dory. To the tens of thousands of us who have had to suffer through a stillbirth experience, however, the lack of concern is astounding.

According to the National Stillbirth Society (and from my own experience), there is no uniform protocol for even finding out the cause of a stillbirth. Often, doctors and nurses just tell the bereaved parents, "Sometimes these things happen." Why is there no system? Why are we willing to accept this? If there is ANY means by which we could gain knowledge about the various causes of stillbirth, we should be MANDATING them in our hospitals.

An illustration of the lack of respect that stillbirth gets in the medical community...Almost 10 times as many babies are stillborn each year than die of SIDS. There is a massive public education campaign concerning SIDS. Nothing about stillbirth. Even taking into account the fact that the public awareness campaign for SIDS is responsible for the decline in numbers...where is the public outcry for stillbirth education?

The fact is that there ARE things that can be done to prevent stillbirth. We don't know them all because this area of women's health has received so little attention. But we do know some of them...and we should be taking advantage of them. Blood testing for clotting disorders, better ultrasound technicians (how many of us have had bad experiences with one of these? I know I have), doctors that are better equipped to LISTEN to their patients and pay attention (rather than crank us in and out of the office so fast they can't even remember why we're there).

I don't mean to sound like there is any one magic cure-all answer to the entire stillbirth epidemic. But a 1% risk of stillbirth is not acceptable. We should strive for better. And if we can find a cause...a way to prevent...even ONE baby from dying...then we will have made progress.

There are MANY things we can do to prevent stillbirth. Education is the key. Not treating women as though they are wilting flowers who cannot handle honesty about their own medical care is a major issue. How many times have I heard, "It's a freak thing...we can't treat every woman as a tragedy waiting to happen." Instead of advocating that women be provided information that will help them identify if they are at increased risk for stillbirth, we allow the medical establishment to gloss over it.

In fact, we allow the medical establishment to give women the false sense that they "don't need to worry about it" because it is so rare. How are we EVER going to make strides to eradicate this problem if we don't have the information? I'll probably never get struck down by cancer, but I know the things to avoid in my life to make the odds swing a bit in my favor. Why not the same education for women who may become pregnant?

Because 20,000+ dead babies a year is an acceptable risk...to allow women to walk around blissfully naive and not have to face the reality of the delicate balance between life and death.

Thanks for the comment Rach...it's very thought provoking and I hope I don't sound like a nut in responding to it in this way. Maybe I'm just bitter that I'm not one of those naive women anymore. But I don't think so. I TRULY believe that a little education could go a long way in this area. I think the psychological discomfort of women would be far less than people think. Women are strong...they can handle information. And if it helps to keep even one baby alive, then I say we should give it a try.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Stillbirth prevention education

Dear friend of Missing GRACE Organization,

Make sure to join us this Thursday January 19th at 7:30pm Central Standard Time for the Tele-Conference call. You won’t want to miss this important topic: Causes and Prevention of Stillbirth. Dr. Jason Collins will be our special guest speaker. Please read the description of call and speaker bio in this email below.

If you are not familiar with our Tele-Conference Calls, we would like to share with you a bit of information. It is very easy to participate. You simply dial in, enter the access code we give you, and a chime will let other callers know another person has entered onto the call. You will NOT be identified and can remain anonymous if you choose. You can mute yourself so that you can be doing other things while on the call. The speaker will often inquire of their audience of callers about their situations and what questions they would like to cover. People can simply state a question and can share a bit of their story, but again can remain anonymous if they don’t feel comfortable sharing their name. The callers can interject with questions and often it ends up being a very active discussion with many involved in the conversation, with others simply listening in.

You CAN call in from outside the United States- this has been a question we have received from our UK and Australian members and we want to let you know that you are welcome to join us. It will just be a more expensive long distance call, so hopefully you can get a good calling rate for your long distance charges.

Please pass along this valuable information to others who might like to participate.

With Grace,

--
Candy McVicar
Founder and Executive Director, The Missing GRACE Organization
Grieve * Restore * Arise * Commemorate * Educate
Email candy@missinggrace.org
Web http://www.MissingGRACE.org
Office 763-497-0709



Missing GRACE Organization Monthly Tele-Conference Calls:

We offer, as a free service to members, the opportunity to participate in monthly tele-conference calls. Non members can also participate for a discounted fee of $10! Normally the calls are $20. With this discounted rate, we hope you will be able to make time to join us.

Each month a different specialist (physicians, counselors, authors, etc.) presents valuable information about important topics such as: infertility treatments and options, stillbirth prevention, subsequent pregnancy, prenatal care, stages of grief, and how to keep a marriage strong. Each call is an hour and a half long and consist of the speaker providing 45 minutes of information in a lecture format, after which the lines are opened for a Q & A session for the remainder of time. The calls take place the 3rd Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m. Central Standard time.

Register now by emailing info@missinggrace.org and you will receive an email with the tele-conference phone number and the private access code to enter the conference call. Participation is as simple as dialing in and you can call from home, work, or your cell phone!


January: (January 19th)
Causes and Prevention of Stillbirth. On this call Dr. Jason Collins will share information about identifying and understanding different cord issues and how he manages a cord issue in pregnancy to prevent a recurrence of stillbirth in a subsequent pregnancy. Dr. Jason H. Collins attended Tulane University Undergraduate and Medical School , interned in N.Y. , N.Y. and finished his four years of OB/GYN training in New Orleans at Charity Hospital . He has delivered babies for 25 years and formed Pregnancy Institute a (501C-3) to study pregnancy related issues. The Perinatal Umbilical Cord Project is ongoing and studies the issue of Umbilical Cord
Accidents. http://www.preginst.com

February: (February 16th)
Author, Carol Cirulli Lanham will speak and lead discussion about pregnancy after a loss. She suffered her own loss and since has had two sons. She is the author of "Pregnancy After a Loss: A Guide to Pregnancy after Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Infant Loss." She is also a news correspondent for the Associated Press, Reuters,
Newsweek and Vatican Radio.

Additional information will be available soon for March, April and May calls!

I'm in trouble now

As it turns out, an acquaintance from work raises alpacas and sells alpaca yarn. She deals with a company that takes her "fluff" and makes it into yarn. The choices are delicious! She just showed me some 80% alpaca/20% angora yarn that is so yummy I just want to buy it ALL. Thank goodness my birthday is coming up. Steve and Mom...if you're reading this...hint, hint, hint. :o)

Best & Worst Dressed

I watched the Golden Globes last night. While I've only seen one of the movies that was nominated for anything (Cinderella Man...good movie...no awards), any excuse to catch a peek at Russell Crowe has me tuned in. :o)

My vote for best dressed of the evening goes to...
Jaime Pressly. I have no idea what she's starring in lately...but she looks fabulous!


And my vote for worst dressed goes to...

Gwyneth Paltrow.
I know she's pregnant and all...but COME ON...what is that thing?



By request...Drew Barrymore

Treasured memories

Who is this girl and why is she standing barefoot in the snow?

In 1980, when I was eight years old, we all took a trip "out west." We hit Yellowstone and about a zillion other scenic points along the way. We traveled with my aunt, uncle, two cousins, and my grandparents (my Dad's side). When I thought back on it, I thought I was older somehow. But I was eight...eight years old and gullible enough to believe my cousin when he told me that glacier snow wasn't cold.

I'll probably look through these old photos and post a few more. They make me smile.

Cropped out

I haven't scrapbooked in almost a year. I've been rather distracted by the sadness in my life to spend time making memories look pretty in a little book. But lately I've been getting the urge to get back to it. I even looked through my stash yesterday to see where I left off and what supplies I had to work with (I have too much stuff, if you must know). I didn't quite get to the actual scrapbooking stage because I had Sam home with me...and nobody to distract him. Now, scrapbooking, on a good day with Steve to run interference, is hard enough with Sam around. He's curious and talkative...and very "touchy" (I don't like my stuff to be moved when I'm working with it). So it's best that I put it off and plan for a weekend. I was even considering packing up my bag and heading to the scrapbook store about a half hour from home to use their "crop room" sometime soon.

But in the true f--- you fashion of the universe, my email this morning informed me that the store is closing its doors. I'm bummed.

It's one of those places that you can run to if you need something...because you know they will have what you're looking for (or something adequately similar). It's also one of those places that you save up your money so you can go in and impulse shop to your heart's content. On more than one occasion I have left with a bag full and a promise, "As soon as I get paid Thursday, I'm coming back for x, y, or z."

The people there are incredibly friendly and they were always running some fun promotion or other to entice you. Now I'll have to settle for those big chain craft stores. While they're nice in their own right, they just don't have that same feeling. The customer service is oftentimes given with an attitude. And there's a pretty good chance you will visit and not find what you are looking for.

I really wish I had the business sense to open my own craft store. I think it would be interesting and fun. Of course, the scrapbook store only lasted three years...so I bet I'm better off where I am.

Where's that special store that you shop? You know...the one place that is "different" from all the others...that you really enjoy visiting to spend your hard-earned money?

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Misery loves company

I live in a small town. I work in an even smaller town. The kinds of places where the teller knows your name at the bank. The kinds of places where people were born and raised. Nobody moves into these towns. People spend their lives trying to find a way out of towns like these. Except us.

We moved into this town almost five years ago now. I've been working in the other town for two and a half years. This place feels like home, but the tellers still don't know my name at the bank. We still don't have friends that we can invite over to dinner or to play cards. We don't know anyone who can help us move heavy tree limbs when we need to. We don't know anyone who will plow our driveway out of kindness.

I know a lot of our not "connecting" has to do with our circumstances...I lost my job, I had a baby, I got a new job, I had a dead baby. Not a lot going on there that really entices people to be your friend. Nobody wants to hang with the depressing chick and her family. But you know what's sort of funny? I've started to collect friends who are just as, if not more, depressing than me. The gal that works in my office who suddenly wants to spend some time together now that she's left her husband. The guy who works in my office who suddenly wants to chat because his friend no longer works in our office and whose wife lost her job.

Does the whole world have to be miserable in order to want to spend time with me?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Creepy

Do you think inanimate things can have a memory? Do you think that something can be involved in something so horrific that the residual energy lingers around that object somehow? Do you wonder about the people who held the things and created that energy?

We ate a pizza lunch in our conference room today. And besides having to get up and walk out because new mommy coworker was complaining about what a chore it is for her to pump breastmilk for her beautiful six month old baby boy, there was something notable that happened. Maybe it just happened in my mind. Our conference room has been used the past couple of weeks to prepare for a big murder trial here in our county. Ralph Clark, involved in a rather strange "church," killed his estranged wife after she got custody of their children and announced her intention to move out of state. (I can talk about this because word is that the Defendant entered into a plea agreement this afternoon.) Trial preparation naturally included a review of the evidence to be admitted at trial (scheduled for next Wednesday).

There I sat, eating my pizza next to a box that contained the rifle a man used to beat his wife to death...next to the envelopes and bags of her clothing, her eyeglasses, and other bits and pieces of her broken life...all presumably spattered with her blood, though not visible through the chain-of-custody packaging that is used. We sat there talking about work and our lives (eventually devolving into what seems to be an inevitable conversation about babies...which necessitated my quick departure from the room).

It seemed wrong to me.

Carolyn Clark isn't here anymore. She's dead. And there sits the evidence to prove who killed her...next to me as I eat my lunch. I wonder about her family...Her thirteen children...Her husband. And I felt this connection by sitting next to these "things" that I couldn't shake. I could feel his rage and her fear wrapped up in brown paper wrapping and marked with biohazard labels.

When Alex died I had an urge to give away certain things...to sell others...to purge myself of some things while holding fast to others. Right this moment, as I digest my lunch, I wonder if my subconscious wasn't telling me something. I wonder if things don't hold onto their energy and it takes being stripped of all our pretense and facade to really feel it and accept it for what it is.

There are a few more items I think I'm going to have to get rid of. A certain pair of pants...a ring I wore the day I found out...they both have a "weird feeling" about them. I've been debating what to do with them for a while. But lunch has definitely convinced me to err on the side of caution. I don't need that kind of energy around me now.

The uniform of a preschooler

Sam has a blankie and a doggie that he simply MUST take with him to daycare/preschool every day. The blankie is usually one of the two that I made him, so I think that's sweet. The doggie is this floppy thing he got as a Christmas gift for his first Christmas from one of my aunts. He's developed an attachment to this poor thing and can't eat, sleep, or travel without having it by his side.

This morning, while going through their normal morning routine of Steve folding Sam's still 3/4 sleeping body into his coat, I heard Sam say, "No, that's MY blankie." I giggled and said, "Nobody's going to mug him in his sleep." And it's true...he has a sort of radar about these two snuggly items that is adorable to watch. I thought it was a unique part of his story. Until this morning.

I was driving to work through the quiet residential neighborhood near the courthouse and I past this little yellow house. The mother was attempting to usher her half asleep daughter out the front door. They were headed to preschool. Know how I know? Yep...a blankie and a doggie.

OK...so it's still a unique part of Sam's life story. But it also means he part of something bigger. And when I think of him spending all his time during the day at daycare/preschool, I can smile and know that he's not alone out there with his blankie and his doggie.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Miscellaneous thoughts

I miss my miscellaneous ramblings...so here are a few for today.
----------------------------------------
Amazing what a little sunshine will do for your mood. I'm thinking that wherever we vacation there must be sunshine...and a beach...and fruity drinks with umbrellas. Cost Rica? I'll look into it lauralu...thanks for the suggestion. I have a few months to convince Sam that he will love to ride in an airplane. A small white lie I know he will call me on as soon as the plane doors close. Do you think anyone would object if I just stuck him in my checked luggage? (I'm KIDDING...mostly)
----------------------------------------
If you haven't tried the McCormick Crock Pot Seasonings, I recommend you do. Sure, there's too much sodium in them. But the Italian Herb Chicken is so yummy you won't mind swelling up like a balloon after you eat it.
----------------------------------------
I'm working on soliciting donations for the Public Animal Welfare Society's big event in May. We're going to have an auction to raise money (and have some fun). If you know anyone who has anything interesting they'd like to donate, please drop me a line and let me know.
----------------------------------------
Thank you for all the kind comments about my sewing pictures. I post them so I can convince myself that I'm not a complete sobbing mess whose lost her mind. (no comments Mom)
----------------------------------------
Some people don't know how good they got it. Fact of life. No use trying to change them or make them understand. But it still makes me sad to see someone who can't appreciate their life for silly reasons.
----------------------------------------
I was indescribably happy that I found the hooks for the over-the-door hanging ironing board that I gave my mom. It wasn't just a dream...I KNEW I put them in that general vicinity...they simply shifte positions in my closet (read: were on the floor under a pile of other crap)
----------------------------------------
I watched LOST again last night. I was quite perturbed that they advertised a "special two-hour LOST," only to air a re-cap show for the first hour. And then to have the second hour of LOST start with "previously on LOST..." Well...that was just plain assinine.

Overall, good episode. I'm going to have to hit the message boards to find the special "catches" that I missed. I'm SURE there was something special about Mr. Echoes chosen Bible verses on his "Jesus stick," but I'm going to have to look them up.

And can I just say...big black smoke creature...CREEPY! I've already seen a theory or two about this. Still CREEPY!
----------------------------------------
The sun is shining...but it is NOT warm outside. brrrr!
----------------------------------------
I have failed to get another Thursday challenge photo. I've been busy! I have excuses. I'll work on it.
----------------------------------------
I'm working on a new red blankie for Sam. It's a mindless baby afghan pattern in red Bernat Softee Chunky that has more "character" than any blanket I've ever done before. I'm going to have a hard time letting him have it when I'm done, I think.
----------------------------------------
Trader Joe's French Truffles are YUMMY!
----------------------------------------
I think I'm going to try to arrange a "baby shower" for my male coworker whose wife is expecting in February. I'm sure the office won't think of it, since he's a guy and all. But I know Steve was touched when his coworkers had one for him before Sam was born. And I know he doesn't have "baby stuff" left from his first kid...who is in his teens.
----------------------------------------
I'm thinking about going to church. I'm just thinking about it. Mental preparation, I guess you would call it. This is one of those times I wish Reverand Bob were still around at my old Methodist Church. I remember talking to him when I was a kid...I bet he would understand this.
----------------------------------------
I have work to do. Ta Ta!
----------------------------------------

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

My super secret project

My first purse...



I was going to send it to my secret pal, but then I thought, purses are kind of a personal taste thing. Then I thought about sending it to my sister, since her favorite color is blue. But again, that personal taste thing makes me unsure. So now I don't know where it will land permanently.

My other hobby

This post is to respond to a request from my secret pal. I sew (from patterns) medieval faire costumes for my mom and her friends (and myself when I'm so motivated). I haven't been great about keeping pictures handy, so please forgive the poor quality of some of these. There's on picture I couldn't get loaded of my dress from the first year. But you aren't missing much, since I made it WAY too big and I didn't really like it. I ended up giving it to mom...whom I'm sure will be asking me to alter it in some fashion at some point. :o)

This was the first year...the first dresses for mom. I cursed her and called her all sorts of names for choosing these materials. Silky and slippery...sewn on an old Singer sewing machine without bells and whistles. I'm surprised I did more after these, quite honestly. What a nightmare. But I was so excited to actually have someone wear something I'd sewn that I stayed up all night the night before the faire opened so I could finish it.



This was the next year. I had just given birth to Sam and needed to escape the house. So I made myself a costume and hung out at the booth with mom. I've since had to alter the dress to compensate for the non-breastfeeding breasts.



This is me and mom in that second year. I made her overdress and she bought an underdress. It has since been altered to provide less train and easier maneuverability in the muddy woods.



Here's a close up of mom's dress pre-alteration.



Here's mom's mystical dress that lasted on wash. Neither of us knew that the star chiffon would snag like a bitch in the wash. I think it was really the drier that was the ultimate demise, but who knows. Either way, I had to take it apart and replace the sleeves with a blue satin. It was also an opportunity to shorten up the sleeves, as mom discovered that long flowing sleeves are not necessarily a good idea in a stained glass booth.



This is Heather. I made an entire outfit, but the shirt had sleeves long enough for a chimp, so Heather had to substitute this blouse underneath. This was my first bodice with boning and I was quite nervous about it. It's easier than the pattern looks. As you can see, Heather had gained a bit of weight since I'd measured her. She since lost it and looks fabulous in this outfit (if I do say so myself).



I did the skirt and the sash here for Celtic weekend. I'm not sure the pattern is anyone's real tartan...but it's cute nonetheless.



This is the costume on the way for our friend Lori. It's in the process of alteration because I didn't make the armholes big enough and I made the length too long for poor short Lori.



A close up. I sewed the store-bought frogs on by hand. Isn't the material great...stained glass-ish, no? $1/yd at WalMart.



And this year's enterprise...except with several changes. The red will be dark gray satiny material. The inset will be white with silver thread embroidery. And I'm not sure we'll get the collar done...but we're going to give it the old college try.

1/11/06

Eight months have passed since our baby died. I used to have this urge to say "since we lost our baby" or something similarly euphemistic. But it's a new year and I'm striving for honesty...even if it hurts. And it does hurt. Instead of waking with the exciting anticipation of spending the day with our bright and smiling boys who would both learn new things, I marked the beginning of this day by noting that it is sunny and we could go outside and play...just Sam and me. That prospect would have filled me with delight on any day before that day eight months ago. Now it brings a strange mixture of happiness and sadness...and makes me feel. I hate feeling. I'm tired of feeling. I just want to be for a while.

I don't want to be a traitor to the family that I have here with me...wishing they were more or somehow different. I want to be able to appreciate them as they are and fully enjoy my life with them. But the love and anticipation that have become horror and sadness always seem to stick their ugly noses in to remind me what is missing. My perfect family is now always slightly insufficient. It's just not fair.

I'm moving on...but I'm apparently taking a boatload of baggage with me. I thought I'd be able to put some of it in storage for a while as the months passed. You know, store away my summer grief during the winter months and vice versa? But nope...apparently I get to haul around a complete year's worth of nightmare. Eight months and counting.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

What if...?

All the what if's for one day...

~What if Sonya's yarn is expensive?
~What if this scratch on my arm becomes infected?
~What if something bad happens to Steve or Sam?
~What if I can't do well for the animal rescue and the event in May is a complete disaster?
~What if I can't get pregnant?
~What if Alex was our last chance?
~What if dinner sucks?
~What if my secret pal secretly hates me?
~What if I can get pregnant?
~What if our house burns down?
~What if I get fired because I can't concentrate?
~What if I drank too much caffeine today?
~What if Sam refuses to sleep in his own bed for years?
~What if I win the lottery?
~What if my horses get sick?
~What if we go on vacation in May?
~What if the boss catches me blogging?
~What if the expert tells us we have a case?
~What if it rains tomorrow?
~What if my dogs get sick?
~What if the expert tells us we don't have a case?
~What if I die?

I think I need to do something fun. Too much thinking. Too much worrying. I'm going to babyless and bald...with an ulcer...and a strange twitch in my right eye. I'm half expecting a plague of locusts. Any thoughts on a decent vacation in early May (preferably somewhere warm where an almost four-year-old is welcome)?

So many strange dreams

I haven't been sleeping very well the last couple of weeks because of the snot that seems to have taken up permanent residence in my head. And you know that mucous couple on that commercial? They're living in my lungs...though I think they may have split up and one of them is living in Sam's lungs. All this means I never really reach that restful REM sleep. Instead, I linger in that half-asleep state where your mind plays tricks on you and makes up dreams that you'd really rather not have.

The other day I dreamed I lost Sam. Not that he died...but that I LOST him. I couldn't find him. I have no idea when or where I misplaced my rather vocal three-and-a-half year old...I mean...how could that happen anyway? He's like my shadow, following me from room to room, refusing to let me do ANYTHING other than devote my full and complete attention to him and whatever activity he has chosen at the moment. Last night I simply HAD TO read a book to him when he demanded...not after my tv show was over as I had requested...NOW! There is no way I could lose this kid! But in my dream he was nowhere to be found. And I looked everywhere. Not frantically though...which disturbs me. I was almost resigned about the thought that I couldn't find him.

I won't discuss the dream I had about Alex the other day...after visiting the cemetery where the baby-coffin-size depression in the grass that still remains was all filled with water from the melting snow. I made a joke at the time...hope Alex likes to swim. Apparently my subconscious did not think I was so funny.

Last night, after the trip to the baby-filled grocery store, I dreamed that I had lost all reproductive capability whatsoever. No periods, no pregnancies, no nothing. It was as if my entire female designation had disappeared. I spent hours and hours trying to self-diagnose...with helpful comments from my boss tossed in for good measure...only to awaken to my son kicking me in the left kidney. (No, he still isn't sleeping in his own bed.)

I know it doesn't take Freud to figure out what my psyche is thinking about. I seem pretty straightforward when I read this stuff all typed up pretty and presented for review. What I don't get is why they make me feel all out-of-sorts. Bad dreams are just a part of this fun grieving stuff. I should be used to them. But they make me feel like a jigsaw puzzle all mixed up on the table. Like my pieces aren't quite in the right place.
“All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I looked someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted thier answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was naive. I as looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I could answer. It took me a while and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself!”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, January 09, 2006

Very funny

Is it a rule that just because I'm feeling strong and happy every baby in town has to be in the grocery store on the same afternoon I am?

I hate this!

Mystery shopper phobia?

Today I was sent an email request from the company that I mystery shop for. They need someone to do a retail shop. It pays $15 plus reimbursement for whatever item you purchase (up to set limits). Problem? It's at Ambiance, the Store for Lovers. Umm...no thanks.

Yeah, sure

I'd LOVE to see your happy-baby-at-Christmas pictures. I don't suppose you'd like to see a picture of Alex's grave at Christmas, would you? We decorated it really nice with a little Christmas tree and a poinsetta. Oh, see, now I'm being snarky.

(In my most polite and respectful tone of voice...) Can't you see that every happy baby picture just shows me what I'm missing? What the f*ck is wrong with you? Don't you have a heart? (Oops...I think I lost that polite and respectful tone of voice somewhere.)

What have I gotten myself into?

I signed up for Secret Pal 7. You get assigned a secret pal with a knit/crochet interest to pamper for three months or so. Sounds great...in theory. I have been assigned a secret pal that is a knitting dynamo. I swear, this woman has lightening fast hands. And the projects she completes. Holy moly! I'm still using training wheels as far as crochet goes and my secret pal's got sweaters and socks and hats and you name it. How do I pamper someone who is so far ahead of me on the curve? I don't even know what she's talking about most of the time when she blogs about her projects. oy! I think I have gotten in WAY over my head.

I got an email from the secret pal who got me. Hi secret pal! I promise my blog won't all be depressing and boring. I've got to get a more positive attitude. I've got to move forward with my life. New year and all that sunshiney stuff. Hopefully crocheting will distract me enough to keep me from looking back too terribly much.

I did my first two snowflakes last night! I have to get to the craft store and get some Elmer's and some glitter so I can block them and show them off. I'm so excited! A new obsession in crafting!

Plus, I marked myself down for a February project on All Crafts for Charity. Arkansas Children's Hospital! We're going to make things for all different types of kids too...not just babies...so it should be really fun. Now I just need some inspiration for what to make. hmmmm...

Well...the new receptionist is making the rounds to say hello. I better not be blogging when she comes in. Talk at ya later!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Desperation thy name is ME

I caved. I gave in to the pressure. I folded like a cheap suit all wrinkly and ugly. So much for all my high and mighty parenting ideas.

You see, Sam wouldn't sleep in his own bed because his room is upstairs (ours is down) and it's too dark and scary at night. It's a great little white tube toddler bed that was a hand-me-down from Steve's sister's girls. I even bought him NASCAR bedding AND Thomas the Tank Engine bedding in the hopes of enticing him to sleep in his own bed. Nope.

For months, I have found myself clinging to the edge of my king sized bed, struggling to wrestle blankets for myself, covering my head so I couldn't hear the toddler snores directly in my ear. It was...acceptable. But after months of increased sleep activity on Sam's part, we finally reached a breaking point. Last night I woke to find Sam kicking Steve in the face...with both feet. While it is kind of a funny story to tell, it's not exactly conducive to a safe and sound night's sleep.

So what's a family to do? Better question...what's a family...who has no bassinett in their room as planned...to do? Exactly. The toddler bed is now in the corner of our room. Not EXACTLY the plans I had for this time of this year. But you do what you have to do, I suppose. Now if it works and we all get some sleep, I guess it will soften some of the sting.

Self Conscious

If ever there was a time when I was self conscious about this blog, it is now. I never worried about what people would think when I started it, it was for friends and family who knew me outside of the blogosphere. Then this big thing happened in our lives...we lost our baby. I made new friends...friends who could understand what I was thinking and feeling. But even as that was happening, I never worried about what I was writing. Perhaps I was so involved in my grief that it didn't matter to me what people thought. Well, that's not entirely true. I have censored some thoughts in an effort to maintain some sense of peace in my family. It wasn't that big of a deal and it certainly didn't stop me from dealing with the subjects I needed to deal with.

But here I am now...finding my way to a new normal. I have cried so many tears writing so many entries that I almost don't know how to write the entries that make me smile or laugh anymore. But they are there. They are starting to show up at the oddest times. And I find myself wanting to share those too. But for some reason, I'm self conscious about it. I'm almost afraid that if people see me smile and laugh, even in the virtual sense, they will think I'm "cured"..."all better"..."healed."

In some sense of the word, I am healed. No...I'm healing...in the process...not completely healed...big difference. I no longer feel like a huge gaping wound has been torn in my heart. I don't even cry every day anymore. So yes, I'm healing. But a long road still remains...one that I'm sure I'm not capable of walking alone. But I'm finding it difficult to strike the balance between "better" and still needing love and support. What do I say? How do I behave so that I won't have to explain all this to people in order to get what I need?

I am self conscious about every word I write because I want people to understand where I am...who I am now. I want the freedom to have some fun...and the freedom to cry when I need to. And I know there's nothing that says I can't have it here in my space. But I've been watching several bloggers leave the blogosphere lately for a variety of reasons and I wonder if I'm holding on to my own blog too tightly. What do I get from it?

I'm not one of those people that has a single direction. I'm not devoted to one single topic. Never have been. Call it lack of focus if you like, but I choose to call it being a well-rounded person. So what's my blog about? Me. All of me. Warts and all. Save for the parts that I will keep censoring in the interest of family peace. Forget self conscious. I'm going to engage in some self indulgent rambling as long as the internet will have me. I hope

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Pajama day fun

I went to bed early last night...managed a shower today to change my PJs...watched a movie...crocheted some. Now I'm thinking about hitting the hay early again tonight.

But before I find some sweet dreams, let me fill in my answers to the Secret Pal 7 questionnaire before I forget to do it...

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand? Nope...I'll work with anything. There's a perfect project for just about any yarn.

2. Do you spin? Crochet? Crochet

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? I have a courdery "crochet bag" (with big wooden handles) that has a matching fold-over hook wallet.

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I don't knit...just crochet. I consider myself to be beginner even though I've been crocheting for years. I only did granny squares for a long time and just recently started following patterns and trying things other than afghans.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? I have an Amazon wishlist that is combined with my three-year-old son's wishlist. I don't think I have many crochet things on it though...I'll have to fix that. :o)

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) Sweet scents like vanilla, cookies, etc. for candles. No lotions or bath products please, I'm allergic to most stuff.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Any chocolate will do. Yum!

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
I loved to scrapbook, but haven't done it in over a year. It's been too hard to concentrate on scrapping my son's happy memories after having buried my other son. So it sits...waiting for my return. I love to take photographs, so I'd better get back to scrapping soon or I'll be buried uner a mountain of pictures.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I love country music and anything piano or guitar. My husband has an iPod that I "borrow" and my computer can play tunes to keep me entertained while I'm blogging, etc.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand? Love purple. My house has greens, burgundys and browns.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I'm married with a three and a half year old son. We have two horses, three cats, five dogs, two foster dogs, and five tetras (fish).

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? I wear scarves, though I have a terrible time losing them. I have one hat that I picked up at the dollar store...I've never really had one that I liked. Mittens are a definite must here in the snow belt. Ponchos...no! No ponchos! They give me horrible flashbacks to my childhood. lol

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? Anything soft but not scratchy.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? Wool...I'm allergic.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s? My current crochet obession is baby stuff for charity. I'm hoping to get a small blankie done for my son (he picked out the perfect red yarn for himself) and a sweater/jacket for myself (something warm to wear around the house).

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to crochet? I'm just now learning to do patterns and love to work on wearables.

17. What are you crocheting right now? a secret. :o)

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? of course!

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? I would love to learn knitting with straight needles. But I'm a basic kind of crochet gal.

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? No preference yet. As soon as I learn to knit, I bet I'll be picky. For crochet, I prefer the aluminum.

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? Nope

22. How did you learn to knit? My mom tried to show me once when I was young. I haven't even tried it in years and years. I learned to crochet as a teenager and spent many years doing granny squares. This year, with the loss of my son, I've needed a creative outlet to keep busy. So I'm learning crochet wearables now.

23. How old is your oldest UFO? about a month. Though I have yarn stashed for many more that I haven't even started yet.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird? I love horses.

25. What is your favorite holiday? I'm really not a fan of holidays right now. Prior to my son's death, I loved Christmas the best.

26. Is there anything that you collect? Does yarn count? lol

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? none

28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? I would love to get ANY patterns/materials/supplies for plus size clothes.

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? I'd love to learn to knit.

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? nope. But I'm going to try some crocheted slippers here soon. My feet are big...size 10.

31. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) February 8th

Friday, January 06, 2006

Forward on!

There are steps you have to take when you are grieving the loss of a child. Some of them you are sure you'll never be able to take. But then by some miracle you're nudged forward and you take them. Other times you take a giant leap with your eyes shut and your breath held...simply hoping for the best.

My friend, Dana, who is a regular reader and commenter here, is expecting her fourth baby here shortly. We're both regular posters on a mommy message board and have been together for literally years. She was my secret sister for a while too, so I feel like I know her a little better than a lot of the women on that board. We're different in almost every way...though she has taught me a thing or two about her way of life that I must admit to incorporating into my own life. She's a smart cookie and I truly do love her like a sister even though I've never met her or even spoken to her on the telephone.

So this leap...this forward step for me...

We have a tradition on our board when new babies are born...the new mom calls a "contact person" to let them know all the important details. I volunteered. And I'm excited about doing it. I hope I don't let her down and burst into tears the moment she calls me and I hear the joy in her voice.

It occurs to me that I've never been angry about others' pregnancies. I've been angry about their lack of empathy...angry about their inability to admit that things can go wrong...angry about the implied judgment that what happened to us was my fault...but never about the actual pregnancy part of it. I haven't been jealous really either. Just sad. Sad because it's not me (so maybe that is a form of jealousy). And I've been able to smile and be happy for them. For a while, the sadness outweighed the happiness and so it was easier to avoid the topic of pregnancy altogether. But now the happiness is just tinged with sadness...but the happiness outweighs the sadness (for today anyway).

I guess I'm not as broken as I thought I was.

You know, I was thinking the other day. One of the questions people always ask when they experience loss is, "When will I feel better?" The generic answer is, "It's different for everyone." But what I find more helpful is a concrete timeline. So if anyone reads this who might be looking for that kind of information I provide this...

I forced myself to go to work after three weeks. It was the hardest thing I ever did, but I truly believe it started my progress forward. I hid a lot with my office door closed (which was ok, because it was still summer and the air conditioning was on...lol).

And then, one day, I didn't feel the need to close my office door. That was probably at about three months. I was ready to deal with other people again tentatively.

I had a slight setback when new mommy coworker came back to work. But at four months, I was functioning again. I was zombie-like, but I was functioning. I took my friend's advice and did a little bit here and a little bit there (at work and at home), and surprisingly, things got done. I have no idea how really, since I don't remember doing much of anything. I know I had clean clothes, but I don't remember actually washing them.

At six months, I felt happiness return to my life.

At eight months, I feel pretty good. I still have trouble concentrating for long periods of time. I'm very lucky I have a boss at work (and at home) who is understanding and willing to give me some room to maneuver my emotional state. I still have a hair trigger sense of anger and frustration. But I'm learning to cope with those things and work with them so I can "fix" them as well. And I'm contemplating my future...with eagerness and excitement instead of dread and sadness.

There are days that are harder than others...like holidays and special events where the hole is definitely more acutely felt. But those days pass and the overall healing continues.

So those are the small steps forward. This contact person thing...this is one of those leaps for me. I hope, hope, hope it takes me forward and not backward. I have a feeling it's going to be good...it already feels good.

OK...so I'm a bit oversensitive

I work in an old building...a really old building. It's on the National Register of Historic Places. It was THE original old courthouse and jail in our county. Our conference room used to be the one courtroom in the county, complete with wood floors, high ceilings and chandeliers. Aside from the lack of modernization since the 50s, it's a decent building to work in. We each have our own individual offices upstairs where the judges and clerks used to have offices. They all have doors. Remember that fact, it's integral to my stupification at the fact that I've had to listen to THREE different "baby" conversations this morning already and I haven't even been here an hour.

You see, we have this new coworker who has a relatively young daughter (I don't think she's quite two yet). Now, I could cut her some slack if she didn't know. But come on...there's nine people in this entire building...I'm SURE someone shared the information with her. So do I really need to sit in my own office and hear her next door telling daddy-to-be coworker all her pregnancy/birth/the ultrasound was wrong stories? Couldn't you all close the door for the, "She's having a baby a week before you're due to take the bar exam for the second time...I'm sure you'll be fine scheduling it that close," conversation?

And there is new mommy co-worker who seems convinced that every new discovery along her journey of motherhood is earth-shatteringly important and must be shared...with me. I swear! Do I need to know your beautiful, perfect, LIVING baby has found his feet this week? Is it really necessary to discuss what size clothing your baby, who is about the same age Alex should be, is wearing now? Do you need to share it with ME of all people?!?! Can't you shut your damn door?!?!

Now, you may ask why I don't shut MY door. I have been. But I usually have to key in to the subject of the conversation first. Because you see, I can't spend the entire day with my office door shut. My office is immediately next to the furnace. If I shut my door for longer than 45 minute intervals, I'm effectively working in a sauna (and the window is painted shut with YEARS of paint). It would be fine if this was summer and I was dressed for warm weather. But this is winter...in the snowbelt...I'm usually wearing more layers than Nanook of the North. I'm toying with the idea of wearing disposable layers. Come to work fully dressed...shut my door...peel off layers as the day progresses and the temperature rises in my office. It's workable. Sure, it's workable. And I know I'm oversensitive. But what happened to empathy?

Today we're having a going away party for one of our co-workers who is leaving for a new job. It's one of those lunchtime get togethers. God help the person who talks about babies. I won't listen anymore...I will get up and leave. I'm no longer going to pretend that it's ok for people to be insensitive. Find some damn empathy...and shut your damn doors!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Crafty me

Went to Joann's today after work and found some great white knitting thread to make snowflake ornaments (and a hook for $0.50!). I know, Christmas is a ways off. But I figure if I work on it a little bit all year long I will have a really nice set by the time I need it for the tree.

While there, I also found Homespun in the same dye lot as the Homespun I previously bought. Now I have enough to make myself a real cardigan. Off to find the perfect pattern...

woo hoo!

Sign ups for Secret Pal 7 are completed and I should have my secret pal assigned sometime soon. The questionnaire should be up soon too. All this anticipation is so much fun!

Fun facts from the hosts...

1. Almost 25% of participants live outside the United States. In all, there are participants from over 20 different countries.
2. Of those participants who live in the US, the largest number call California home. Folks in the Big Apple (NY) are fiber fanatics, too, coming in a close second.
3. The runaway winner for most popular hobby: Reading. Most interesting hobby: I don't think I'll touch this one - there were so many! Share them with your pals....
4. Over 75% of participants have a pet. And all kinds of animals share our homes - cats, dogs, llamas, birds, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, bunnies, chinchillas, and even a corn snake.
[did you see? chinchillas again! bwa ha ha ha!]

I hope, hope, hope, I don't get someone too advanced in knitting or crocheting...I'd hate to disappoint them with my basic skills. I also hope I don't scare my secret pal off with my depressing writing. I swear I'm getting back to something resembling a "normal" life...really...honestly...truly. In fact, in anticipation of this Secret Pal swap, I've been working on a super secret project. I may or may not send it to my pal, depending on her likes and dislikes. Either way, I will post pictures someday. :o)

Also as proof of my return to "normalcy," I offer this epiphany that resulted from several bloggers' encounters with therapists, medications, and routes to healing after the loss of a baby...

I didn't realize it before, but I HAVE made choices in how to find healing from all of this. It hasn't run me as much as I thought it has. I HAVE maintained some measure of control. I chose not to seek therapy or medication. My reasons are many and varied...and have even changed over the course of time. But I did...I made those choices.

I also chose to wait to try to conceive another baby. At first, that choice manifested itself in my horror and disbelief over others who were driven to be pregnant soon after a loss. I thought I was being judgmental...when what I really was doing was making the choice that that wasn't for me. I remember those first few weeks when the urge to have a baby in my arms was a huge driving force in my life. But I knew mentally that I wasn't equipped to handle another pregnancy for a relatively long time. At first, I thought, "Oh my God...wait a year? How will I ever manage that?" Now here I sit at eight months out from losing Alex and I am relieved I made that choice. I feel good about it. I see now that I needed to work on ME before I could offer anything to another pregnancy (and hopefully a living baby).

I actually feel proud of myself today. I'm not completely out of control...as I feared I might become. The pain is there but it is dulled a bit by the knowledge that I have done the best I could with what I was served. I've learned to understand more and to accept more...I've learned that not everything goes according to plan. And I've learned that you have to make the most of TODAY...because you're not guaranteed a tomorrow. I think the shrinks call it acceptance. Woo Hoo...another step toward "normal!"

Now I need to do some actual work so I can crochet on my lunch hour. :o)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The proof is in the smiling

I heard from my friend who was finally able to adopt a baby boy. Actually, I sent her an email asking for an update. Today she sent me an update (and a picture).

Catherine...
Here is our little bundle of boy..lol... Chase Aidan...6lbs 3oz...born on 12/21/05. We just got home a couple days ago....it's soooo good to be home!! The dogs all love him to pieces...they keep coming over to lick him on the head...once I have rested up & get things on a schedule will write an in depth letter about Mr. Chase & our travels.
Love,
Sherie , Michael, 5 crazy spots, & Chase Aidan


I didn't cry at all. In fact, it made me smile and I didn't even want to cry.

That makes me smile even more.

Who says television is a bad thing?

It was like a train wreck and I couldn't look away. Some kind person who knows I have Wednesdays off work, warned me ahead of time that they were going to kill off a child on Days of Our Lives, just in case I would want to avoid the storyline. But I couldn't...of course. Call it morbid curiosity. I wanted to know if they would do the storyline any justice. And it wasn't like they were doing a stillbirth story or anything. So I turned it on and watched. Bo & Hope's young son, Zach, was the victim of a hit and run...rumor is he will be declared brain-dead tomorrow and will be a life-saving organ donor for an infant in need of a transplant (liver, I think). Today was the initial "discovery" episode...where the mother stumbles upon her own child lying bloodied and broken in the street. Can you think of a more dramatic storyline? I was unmoved.

I used to the be kind of person that would cry at sappy commercials and sad television shows and/or movies. But as Hope cried on her adult son's shoulder, "I can't lose my baby," I looked at the television and said, "Yes, Hope, you can." There was never a more definite moment when reality was so obviously clear. Regardless of my critique of the show, I was able to distinguish my own pain from the pain of the soap-world. I didn't shed a single tear. But even more importantly, I wasn't angry or bitter or nasty about it. I was able to feel reality, in it's fullness, without any interference from my own pesky psyche.

Then, I was watching As the World Turns (yes, I know, a day of soap operas...how exciting) when I was faced with a truth about myself...one I'd been running from for a while now. A while back, Lily had bargained with God for the life of her teenaged son. Her son fully recovered. And despite her own unhappiness, she was going to live up to all of her promises to God in return for what she saw as an answer to her prayers. She said outright, "If I don't do this, he will die." She sounded like a raving lunatic as she talked about how she had to fulfill all her promises to God or her son would die...how she held the power to decide his life and death. I laughed.

How could anyone think they held the power to determine life and death? How could someone truly believe that what they say had so much power with God that they could decide their own fate? It's ludicrous. Isn't it? But I'm not that far away from that...minus the miraculous survival, of course. Wow...what a sense of ego.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

For my husband


But LOOK what I could do with it!


You can't shear a cow...but maybe a chinchilla?

Brown drinks

Why is it the majority of the things I drink are brown?
Coffee, tea, chocolate milk, hot chocolate, Diet Dr. Pepper, Cask & Cream.
I think I need to drink fewer brown drinks.
Your New Year's Resolutions

1) Get a pet chinchilla

2) Eat more cheese

3) Travel to Holland

4) Study human sexuality

5) Get in shape with surfing

Fear and loathing

...bad waves of paranoia, madness, fear and loathing - intolerable vibrations in this place.

Do you ever find yourself in a place in your head where you are surrounded by a tug-of-war between the urge to snuggle in all calm and peaceful and the urge to scream out loud at the universe like some poor mental patient talking to a street lamp?

A lot of my inner turmoil comes from the constant conflict I feel about other people and how I relate to them. I wish I could not care...but I do. For example...this week I have experienced two opposite ends of the spectrum.

My dear friend who did not know about Alex (and sent me the Christmas card with her Baby #2 news) sent me an email after I told her the news. In part it said, "You are in the lifelong process of surviving one of the very worst things a parent can experience, and you are doing it in a way that is totally in keeping with the Cathy I always knew - with honesty, grace, and of course that trademark ability to see some humor even in life's unfathomable situations to keep it all sane!" One brief communication and I see that she gets it.

And then there are others who offer up, "You are not alone...you know X and Z both had a couple of miscarriages each." There is so much I want to say to that, not the least of which is...I'm not alone? Where were X and Z when I was at my absolute lowest? Where are they today? Cause it sure feels like I'm alone. And beyond that simplistic analysis...and I hope I don't hurt any readers' feelings here...but a miscarriage is NOT the same thing. I carried Alex for 35 weeks. (Sam was born at 37.) Alex was ready to be born...all 9lbs 1oz of him. Pink face, chubby cheeks, curly toes and all. He has a name...he was my SON. I had a world of dreams for him...and we were THIS CLOSE to reaching them. Had he been born alive and then died, I would hope you wouldn't dare compare him to someone's miscarriage. But then again, maybe you would.

I am in conflict because I know I'm in a solitary place. I hear all these voices of well-meaning individuals and I want to be in that peaceful frame of mind that would allow me to smile and accept the positive stuff and let the negative stuff all roll off my back. But at the same time, I want to be in the place where I can tell everyone how their in/sensitivities make me feel. I WANT to tell people how dear their friendships are to me as much as I WANT to tell some people to take a long walk off a short pier. But I can't do either. I'm frozen.

I think a part of it is that I'm afraid of the eye rolls. I KNOW there are people out there who would say, "Get past it already." I know because I have run into the peripherally already. And I don't think I am emotionally strong enough to withstand too much criticism of my grieving process. But I'm not sure I am serving Alex's memory, or my own self-worth, by allowing people to say and do insensitive things.

And I know I'm not honoring the true friendships I have by not being able to tell wonderful people how much they mean to me. But I don't think I'm really strong enough to admit to people that they have completely and totally propped me up for the last eight months. I mean honestly, how sad would it seem to tell a friend that I only survived because she emailed me every week (most often multiple times during the week)? That's an awful lot of pressure to put on someone as a friend.

And then, of course, there are the self-doubts that keep creeping in. Every time I think they are gone, they pop back up and smack me in the head. What gives me the right to think I should have a baby anyway? I mean, the universe and my body said otherwise last time, right? Should I really question that? Shouldn't I just leave well enough alone? But dammit...the universe owes me! I alternate between complete defeat and true stubborn will to fight. Who knows where I will ultimately land?

I could go back to that person I was. I could act like this past year and a half or so was just a bad dream. That is so tempting. It's more tempting every day, to tell the truth. To just smile and "move on." But then someone asks me, "How many kids do you have, just the one, right?" I can't help but respond with, "Yes. Sam's three-and-a-half. And we lost the other one in May." I literally CAN'T leave it out. It's like discounting my life for the past year and a half if I do leave it out. And I find I'm fiercely protective of it as part of my story...and Alex's story. And I did live it...so why should I pretend it didn't happen? Why SHOULD I act like it was a bad dream? It wasn't...it was my life...it IS my life.

Good grief this is another one of those entries that sounded good in my head but now looks like a bunch of insane ramblings when typed out. The funny thing is, I used to be such a decisive, take-charge kind of woman. Maybe I'm already more like the poor mental patient yelling at the street lamp than I care to admit.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Reflection...Anticipation...Phooey

2005 is in the record books. It's over. I thought I would feel some big sense of relief or some sense of eager anticipation for what might be ahead in 2006. I hoped there would be some sense of relief from turning another corner.

But I realized this morning that I haven't turned any significant corners. The change of the calendar hasn't changed a thing about our lives. Steve still got up to let the dogs out this morning. I still feel sick. We're still going to have to deal with Sam's temper tantrum when we try to take the Christmas tree down today.

And Steve and I both tried to say "Happy New Year" to each other...and it just didn't work.

I have the same hopes I had last year. Yesterday and today all wrapped up with one big bright shiny bow under confetti and a paper hat? It's all a bunch of bologna, if you ask me. There's no more promise with the change of the year than there was yesterday or the day before. There is no more hope or happiness or despair or sadness. This is life...my life. And it moves along all messy and complicated.

I guess I got my wish. I wanted it to be a beautiful tapestry...rich and full and complicated. The pain makes the tapestry less one-dimensional, that's for sure. The bad with the good...the sad with the happy...it's all part of the package. We should learn to appreciate it always. Yesterday, today and tomorrow. I feel better about wishing someone a happy tomorrow than I do a happy new year. Less pressure.

I'm sorry if your yesterday was sad and I hope your tomorrow is happy. I do hope you're lucky enough to string a bunch of happy tomorrows together. But if you're not, you will surely know you are alive. And that is something special too.