Monday, July 31, 2006

The other room

The one conversation we have tactfully tiptoed around is the inevitable one about what to do with "the other room." The plan calls for a three bedroom, three bath home. We will have our 'domain' with our master bath (and our jacuzzi tub). Sam will have his own bedroom (tastefully decorated with all things Thomas the Tank Engine and talking Cars).

We call the other room..."the other room."

It's no longer "the baby's room," since there is no baby to occupy it. The baby's room is going to be wiped away with the demolition of the existing roof and second floor. All that empty space filled with empty hopes and dreams will finally be gone. No...not really gone...since that space will actually be absorbed into the area of 'our domain.' That is poetic somehow, though I can't quite find the appropriate words to describe or explain it.

We are still planning on 'that other room,' because it will increase the value of our house (and is required by the bank). We can't quite bring ourselves to call it 'the spare bedroom' just yet. And calling it "the baby's room" just seems too sad. It's there on paper and it will become a reality and we both know it's coming....that moment when we'll decide what to call it...what to do with it. But we can't say it out loud...not yet.

The plan is to give Sam the queen mattress on a platform bed in his room. He doesn't sleep in the toddler bed anyway, so we might as well rid ourselves of that fabulous knee-bashing obstacle. We are definitely practical and thrilled with all things cost-effective, so this is a grand plan. But that leaves that other room without any furniture. Another big empty room. What color will we paint it? What will we put in it?

I suppose we'll get there eventually. But for now it's just 'the other room.' We're not going to talk about it. That's just the way we have to do it.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

I did it! I finally reached that point. The point where the husband incredulously says, "MORE plants?" It took me a while, but I got there! I feel as though I've accomplished something. I think it was the fact that I hit WalMart, Home Depot (times two), AND Lowes for the garden center clearances...all within two days. I could have spread it out over a longer period of time and made it less noticeable...but then I would have missed all the good clearance bargains. And I already had a good start on my "Alex garden." So this was a good way to get a start on my "Travis garden." My flower gardens are going to look awesome next year!

The ultimate plan is to do away with the majority of the grass in the front yard and make it all like an English cottage garden with stone paths and gorgeous flowers and plants everywhere. I have only just begun to shop! I am giddy with the planning of it all.

It's going to take some time, but I think it's going to be a fabulous project for me. Of course, much of it must wait until the builders are done trampling through my yard. I hope they're gone in time for me to do some fall planting. I love spring bulbs!
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I sat down and made a list of all the things I need to do.

Bracelets for the MOM Project (and a couple for gifts for friends).
A sweater for a friend's new baby.
Something for another friend's new baby.
A blanket for another friend's new baby (come on Milo!).
A Thomas the Tank Engine blanket for my Sam.
Two blankets for myself.
A wrap for my mom.
A blanket for a charity auction.
Something marvelous with that Alpaca yarn I bought and for which I haven't found "the perfect" project.

Where am I going to find the time?

When does American Idol start? That's usually when I get my best crafting done.
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I posted some new pictures on my flickr site. I've got the beginnings of ears of corn! Actual, honest to goodness corn! Yee haw!

And if anyone can identify the droopy flowering bush that I've got growing in my back yard, I would love to know what it is. I think it's a weed. But it's pretty, so I haven't cut it down yet. I'll see what it does and then decide if I'm going to chop it. It does fill in an area that I would otherwise have to mow, so I'm hoping it's pretty so I can just leave it. Lazy, I know.
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Steve and I were up at 8am on Saturday and we worked on the yard and gardens...a lot. We ran out of gas for the mower, though, so there are some weird patches that remain un-trimmed. Hopefully it will stop raining sometime in the next week so we can finish it all up and not look like such white trash. (Remind me to tell you about the broken window and the duct tape some day.)
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I've been reading a bunch of blog posts about the BlogHer conference. I'm fascinated by the idea that you can make money by blogging. I wonder, though, if it changes the tone of your blog. I like the idea of making money, but not the idea that I'd be writing for the set purpose of generating an audience to satisfy advertisers. I think my blog would lose some of its honesty if I did that. But it's an interesting concept.
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We didn't find a car this weekend. Funny story...
We went to look at a used Honda at a dealership. We got there a half hour too late...it had been sold. We're about two minutes down the road when Steve's phone rings and a perky little voice chirps at him, "Mr. C, we see that you were interested in the 1998 Honda Accord we have. I was wondering if there was a time when you'd like to come take it for a test drive since it is still here on our lot."

(weird pause)

Steve says, "uuhhhh, actually, I'm just leaving your lot. We came to look at it and were about a half hour too late. It's been sold."

In a day and age when all inventory is computerized, you'd think they would avoid such embarassments. But it gave us a good laugh. And the mascot puppy they had at the dealership was fun to play with. So the trip wasn't a total loss.

The next stop was a scary scary dealership where the guy tried to sell us a Kia Sephia that had only 58,000 miles on it...but was so obviously damaged by a front end collision that I had to walk away for fear of laughing in his face.
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I don't often get sentimental about the pups that I transport for rescue. But there were these two sisters this weekend that I'm just crying over today. Beautiful black lab/golden retriever mixes. They were black like labs but had the long wavy hair of the golden retriever. And they were so in love with one another. One sat down under a bush and the other laid down and snuggled right up next to her. A matching pair...They were like bookends. I immediately hoped they would go to a permanent home together. But I got an email this morning that one was adopted without the other. So one is going to a permanent home and one is going to a rescue. A happy ending in that they're not being euthanized. But still, my heart breaks a little that they couldn't stay together. Overly romantic and stupid, I know. But I guess I still have a little of that left in me somewhere...even if it is only for dogs.
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I made the mistake of showing Sam this television and saying that he could maybe have one in his new room. I thought it was implied that "in his new room" meant "once your new room is built and you're actually sleeping in it." But noooooo...I obviously slipped up here and forgot how the four-year-old mind works. The constant nagging is driving me CRAZY!
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I need some new clothes. Luckily, I have a shopping trip planned with the beautiful Julie...after she kicks ass on her nursing boards.
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Sunday, July 30, 2006

We're really doing this

The plumber came by yesterday and we're all set as far as he is concerned.

So today we made our first purchase...the sinks and the faucets


Mom's funny tears

I was fifteen, almost sixteen, years old and had my learning permit to drive. My mom was the only one to really let me drive with her. I think I was responsible for most of her gray hair appearing around that time. My dad never let anyone else drive (I'm guessing that's where I get most of my control issues). He never had a lot of hair, so I figure it was partly a protect-what-ya-got move on his part.

I remember the Blue Dodge Ram van with the short wheel base. I learned to drive in that thing. Parallel parking on our driveway was my favorite lesson. My mom sitting in the passenger seat reading or crocheting while I maneuvered around the strategically placed rocks...back and forth...an hour at a time. Quality time...lol.

I don't even remember where my mom and I were headed that day. But for the first time ever, mom said, "Why don't you drive it down and meet me at the end of the driveway?" I was thrilled! Our driveway is all of 100 feet long, if that. But to me, it was a fabulous step toward getting the all-important drivers license. I was smiling so much my face hurt and my heart was racing. I checked all the mirrors and positioned everything just right for my journey.

When I got to the end of the driveway, I found my mom standing at the mailbox...not with the proud smile I had imagined...she was crying. And not a nice single-little-tear-rolling-down-her-cheek kind of cry. An all-out red face, snot nose, chest heaving cry. "You're so grown up," she managed through her tears as she climbed into the passenger seat. "I'm sorry?" was all I could figure to say, even though it didn't sound quite right.

Initially, I was irritated that she had ruined my moment of glory. But then I started to laugh. I mean, really, how could I not laugh? The whole situation was just ridiculous. But yesterday, nineteen years later, it was suddenly not so funny.

We had our tray of McDonald's best and were looking for a table when Sam announced he wanted to sit at the little counter with the bar stools. I told him I didn't want to sit on a bar stool because they're made of metal and not comfortable. He still insisted. So we compromised and he sat at the counter and we sat at a booth across teh aisle. This is the point in the story where we would normally have Sam crying, "But I want YOU to sit WITH ME," and raising holy hell while we wilted in embarassment. But not this time. This time, he looked up at me too cheerfully and said, "OK."

And as I sat looking at his back while he munched his cheeseburger and fries, I thought of my mom standing at the end of the driveway and crying. I wonder how many more times during my life she quietly cried as I took small steps away from her. I wonder what it was about that day on the driveway that she finally felt free to let me see. But most of all I wonder how she did it. Because it's not as easy as it sounds. Nor is it ridiculous or funny.

Yesterday Steve quietly said, "Do you feel like we've been dissed somehow?" as we both looked over at Sam sitting on that bar stool by himself. "Yeah," I giggled.

But today I realize...we're all just growing up.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Happy yarn stash busting!

Jessica at Fig and Plum has started a destash and restash flickr group for unloading yarn that you're not going to use...or picking up some good deals on yarn someone else is destashing.

I LOVE the Garden Center at WalMart

I just got back from the WalMart Garden Center Clearance sale. I spent only $24 on...

Two purple coneflower pots (with several plants in each...they just need separated)


One coreopsis (I think I got pink)


Three more asiatic reds


Two salvia


One white balloon flower


One pink balloon flower


I also stopped in the parking lot to pull out (steal) something purple. I'm sure it's just a weed, but it is really pretty and appears to spread rather prolifically. So I took two...we'll see what happens. (I had to plant them right away since they didn't come in pots...I'll get a picture when there's enough light tomorrow).

And I still have the gift certificate for mail order flowers that my June friends sent me. My flower gardens are taking shape.

Now I just have to get my ass out in the veggie garden for some major renovations (of the garden AND my ass).

And I need to figure out what that purple tree is so I can hunt one down and plant it before the summer gets away from me.

I am not

Usual...Normal...Most...Low risk...Routine...Common

The more time that passes the more the weight of this is getting to me. I feel more freakish as each day passes, rather than less. I'm not healing, but feeling more and more like fresh layers are being painfully peeled back until there is nothing left of me but a bloody mess.
Two nights ago I listened to music for the first time in months. Music is generally off limits for me because it allows room in my brain to think. This was particularly bad because I sat on my bed and looked at my boys' pictures on the wall while I listened. I started to cry and would have fallen apart completely if Sam hadn't come into the room to ask for help with the DVD he was watching.

Yesterday morning I was contemplating the imminent arrival of my period and thought to myself, "I can use tampons for this one....Oh God....I just delivered another dead baby less than three months ago..." I nearly fell to the ground and wept.

Everywhere I turn...everywhere I go...there are reminders of what is not. I talked to a client I haven't talked to since just after I hurt my ankle. He innocently asked, "Are the kids making fun of you?" I just said, "Yeah," without thinking. He replied, "Yeah, they love to pick on mom and dad." I hung up the phone and sat here shell-shocked for several minutes...unable to think or even move. I'm assuming he doesn't even know that Alex is dead. And I don't think he even knew I was pregnant with Travis. How did my life get this fucked up?

Time just keeps ticking past and people move on without me. Babies are born, old people die, a million miracles and tragedies take place all around, and I am on the periphery of it all...observing, but not really feeling any of it.

Today I might have been a mom of two beautiful living boys. Or I might have been a 32-weeks-pregnant-(and ready to start talking delivery options)-mom of one beautiful living boy. But I am neither of those things. I'm the mom of one beautiful living boy and two dead boys....with little hope for anything else. Two beautiful and perfect boys who would be here if not for a malfunction within my body. Nothing wrong with them. They were normal. But me?

Not usual...Not normal...Not like most...Not low risk...Not routine...Not common.

Normally (there's that word again), I would embrace my uniqueness. But on this scale, it is just too much. Too heavy. Too big. Too complicated.

Simple conversations become difficult. "How are the kids?" is an unanswerable riddle. The normal progress of time reminds me how far away I am from my boys...from that place and time when I was totally happy. I am on the verge of tears at every moment. I long to remember and forget all at once. Perhaps the roots of insanity are planted when the mind is in contradiction with itself...unable to accept reality as a single constant truth. Like this.

Unusual. Abnormal. Unique. Freakish. Uncommon. Bizarre. Out of the ordinary.

Everyone presumes there will be a future. Everyone naturally looks forward and wonders what I will do. There is no making decisions...there is no power left in me to do that. It's done and today is all there is. The time for planning for the future is long past. This is it. No forward and no backward. Just here...right now. And I HATE this here and now. I'm trapped without the dream of ever being able to escape.

It was hard enough thinking of all the missing might have beens with one. But two...let me explain what that is like...put a plastic bag over your head and try to breathe. That's what it's like.

My arms ache for my boys. I still dream of those anticipated first moments holding them...but alive. How sweet that dream was. How beautiful. But not for me...not now. Instead, I have nightmarish images from those first moments. The physical trappings of death...baby soft skin peeling away...sunken emptiness where there should be big beautiful eyes making a connection...the grey palor of the dead...silence. It all plays in my brain and won't stop. And I can't breathe. It's all there. It's just all wrong.

There is no trust anymore. No belief that things happen in a certain order or for a reason or with any measure of predictability. Our lives have been tossed around like yahtzee dice. No pattern. No understanding.

I can't stand anything. I can't stand myself. There is nothing attractive about me. I have nothing left to offer that is even remotely feminine. My basic innermost soul is tainted...sick...deadly. I dress myself each day with less enthusiasm than one would have for a dentist visit. Yesterday while standing on the sidewalk waiting for my ride home I saw this pretty young woman walk out of the tanning place across the street. She was wearing jeans and a fitted t-shirt. Her hair was up in a less than fancy hairdo. But she had that confidence...that I used to have a lifetime ago. But I have none of that left.

It rings in my ears like some sort of childish taunt. You're broken...diseased...empty.

Not usual...Not normal...Not like most...Not low risk...Not routine...Not common.

I am...so very tired.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Welcome to the world baby Natalie!

Your mama's been waiting for you for a long time.

Alysse...I knew you'd get to put those adorable dresses on her. :o)

Much love to the entire family.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

Dear Dr. A.

Thanks Dr. A.

I appreciate the information.

One question. When you say it, "should not be an issue going forward," what does that mean? Am I totally immune to this particular virus now? So if exposed during a subsequent pregnancy, the baby would not be at risk?

The reason I ask is because it's entirely possible that wherever I picked it up from is still within my realm of daily activity. Do I need to find a biohazard suit in a maternity size in order to avoid it next time?(sorry...more inappropriate humor)

Thanks again.
Catherine
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Hi, Cathy,

Right---you should be safe from getting it as you have immunity against it---so, no, don't need a space suit...

Also, extremely unlikely that it played a role in both your prior pregnancies; also, it doesn't linger around---you had it, and it's now gone.

Hope this helps,
Dr. A

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Yeah...it helps...it tells me that if there is a freak one in a zillion chance I'll kill my unborn, I'll manage to do it.

Good Christ, there's still the plague out there somewhere, isn't there?

One little thing

ok...I know it's stupid and I shouldn't say anything...but if you're going to spend money on an expensive camera, at least figure out how the timer works so you can get pictures of yourself without having to hold the damn camera up in front of a mirror. A mirror?!?! Come on!!! You've got a $2000 camera there...work the timer...give it a try...you can do it...I know you can...that thing came with instructions, right?

gah!

***this interruption in service brought to you by random blog surfing this morning during which I saw THREE blogs with self photos taken in the bathroom mirror with VERY EXPENSIVE cameras. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.**

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I win...sort of

The bank realized their mistake and they will compromise and pay out the deposit up front...with a submission of a list of supplies and suppliers the contractor intends to us. My contractor is not happy ("I'm not in the business of letting people look at my books") but he will work with us and my house will be fixed. I'm not sure I want an unhappy contractor working on my house. If all else fails to smooth things over with him, I think I may have to break out the homemade chocolate chip cookies and the tears. Which to try first...?

I finally caught a break! Can you believe it?!?! It must be a festivus miracle!

And (some of) the test results are in...

Hi, Cathy,

Most of the tests are back; the ones that look for an inherited or acquired predisposition to clotting (which can therefore result in losses) are normal---still a few of those pending, though.

The Parvovirus B 19 test was positive. By the IgG antibodies, it showed that you have had this in the past---can't tell how far in the past. This might well be the cause---no way to know for sure, but it becomes a good candidate in the absence of other clues. If this really was causal, should not be an issue going forward.

I'll let you know once the few pending test results are in.

Yours,
Dr. A

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Great.

So I caught something and killed my kid...again.

Just bad luck...again. (The risk of fetal death attributable to acute parvovirus B19 infection during pregnancy is estimated to be less than 10%, ranging from 3 to 38% in different studies.)

I give up.

It's not fair!

I want to kick and scream and rail at the universe. IT'S NOT FAIR! Despite knowing that I don't deserve what I get...despite knowing that there is no universal justice at work...despite knowing that I'm strong and I can survive this and blah, blah, blah...I want to yell it out...IT'S NOT FAIR! I know I sound childish and that's how I feel.

I watched my son throw a temper tantrum this morning because he didn't want to take his allergy medicine. Pouty lips, furrowed brow, arms crossed in defiance across his chest, dropping to sit cross legged on the floor...I didn't want to be the mom and overcome this obstacle. I wanted to join him. No...I wanted to BE him.

It's not fair that all I have of my boys is ultrasound and dead baby photos. I cherish those photos and hate them all at the same time. They are my boys. But they are all I will ever have of my boys.

It's not fair that they will never get to do ANYTHING. No smiles, no tears, no booboos to kiss, no snuggles at night, no 'I love you's,' no bad jokes, no accomplishments to celebrate...NOTHING.

It's not fair that this may be all we get by way of happiness. We wanted two kids. Not much by way of greed, I don't think.

It's not fair, it's not fair, IT'S NOT FAIR!!!!!!

Someone on a message board whose first son was stillborn said something yesterday that really got to me. She has had a subsequent miscarriage and a subsequent live baby. She said that when she lost her son and had her miscarriage, she was sad. But now that she has her living son, she is even more sad because now she KNOWS what she lost. And I can't help but think to myself...I knew what I lost...TWICE...and it's not fair!

I feel guilt that I can't feel unmitigated joy and happiness anymore. All I feel is this emptiness and this anger and this desire to pitch a fit that would rival any my four-year-old could dish out. I try to function each day...filling my time with activity after activity so that I don't have time to sit and think and feel sorry for myself. But then I just resent the activities...thinking, "It's not fair that I have to be here...doing this...instead of where I really want to be...doing what I want to do." Oh God, I want my babies back. I want my soul back. I want to feel something other than this.

It's not fair, it's not fair, it's not fair!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

When bad days get worse

The bank called. No good story ever begins with "the bank called." The bank called and they all of a sudden have a problem with the financing arrangement we worked out with our contractor.

Yep. We closed last night...signed on the dotted line...and it was apparently the first time the bank guy actually read the paperwork. Right there, in black and white, is our arrangement. He has had a copy of that page for almost a month now. But today our equity limits "are maxed out" and they won't front the money to purchase supplies. He wants the contractor to buy supplies and submit for reimbursement. Which would have been a fine deal to make...BEFORE WE SIGNED THE DAMN DEAL! It would have been fine if it had been mentioned sooner than A WEEK BEFORE WE WERE SCHEDULED TO START TEARING OUR DAMN HOUSE APART!

***edited to add***
We have a very small company doing our work. They do not have lines of credit all over town. They just started a similar job and got 50% up front. Our deal WAS $xx,xxx.xx down and draws every other week based upon inspection approval. But regardless of all of that...the point is that the bank knew we were planning on this arrangement since MAY and NEVER said a word. In fact, they haggled with us over the draw schedule because they didn't want to have to do weekly draws and send an inspector out once a week. So I KNOW they read it. They apparently just didn't understand what they were reading. Next time I'm going to break out Sam's crayons and draw them a picture.
******

OK...got that out of my system. The bank loan officer wanted me to call the contractor and break the news to him. I refused. hahaha...he was NOT expecting that. I believe I said something like, "No, I'm not having that conversation. If you're backing out of the deal and you can't keep your end of the bargain, then YOU'RE calling and having that conversation with him. This has been going on for two months now and I think he's been MORE than patient waiting for you all to get it together. You call him and work it out."

We shall see. Steve is going to call at 3:30 (in one hour) and tell them that if they don't get it worked out today we may cancel the whole deal. Think that might motivate them? I think they didn't know they were dealing with people with such anger issues. hehehe

**oh yeah...and I popped onto my mommy message board to post some pictures and check in on everyone...and ran smack into someone's pregnancy announcement. Why can't the universe cut me some slack already?!?! (Not that I wish anyone ill. I fact, I'm quite happy for her...she's a dear friend. But it still hurts.)

"This is definitely a blog post"

The fateful words every blogger loves to hear muttered by their spouse while arguing with their four-year-old in the car on the way to work in the morning...completely takes the wind out of any argument and reduces said blogger to exasperated laughter.

Let me set the scene...

Me: "I was thinking that for the duration of the construction, we should take Sam's bed apart and put it in the basement. That way we could put the armoire in our room and have some extra storage space since we'll most likely have to empty my closet."

Steve: "That's a good idea."

Sam: "But I don't want to take my bed apart."

Me: "But you don't sleep in it...you sleep in our bed. So we're going to take it apart and you'll just have to stay in our bed until your room is done."

Sam: "But I don't waaaant toooo."

Me: "I asked you to sleep in your bed and you said no...you wanted to snuggle with me in our bed...you won't sleep in your bed."

Sam: "The reason I don't want to sleep in my bed is because I don't want to sleep by the wall. I would sleep in my bed if it was next to you."

Me: "I asked you if you'd sleep in your bed if I moved it next to me and you said no, you wanted to sleep in our bed. Will you sleep in it now if I move it next to me?"

Sam: "Yes."

Me: "OK...but the first time you don't sleep in it and say you're sleeping in our bed, I'm taking your bed apart and putting it in the basement and you're sleeping with us until your room is ready. Got it?"

Sam: "Yes...I don't want to take my bed apart."

Steve: "This is definitely a blog post."

Me: "I give up."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Miscellaneous Thoughts

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My sister and her husband participate in a local farmer's coop. Each year, the arrival of their magical box of fresh produce coincides with their visit home. So we are the lucky recipients of a small crop of bok choy, beets, and other assorted strange veggies. This year we enjoyed a fresh coleslaw made with fresh cabbage. And I have fresh garlic that is so potent I can smell it through the ziploc baggie it currently resides in. Yummy! I love the magical box of fresh produce! Thanks Rebecca!
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I love sunflowers. I have none. I must rectify that situation.
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The mosquitoes are apparently enjoying the warm weather. I'm surprised Sam has any blood left in him with all the bites he has on his legs. I'm thinking I'm going to have to bring out the big guns soon and use the old reliable OFF with DEET.
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I'm seriously shopping for doorknobs and faucets. Who knew this could be so much fun? But seriously, we have to have a talk with the establishment. Are dressing room lights really necessary in my bathroom? I mean, we've all seen A Chorus Line...the bright round bulbs across the top of the mirror...sooooo 80's.
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A received the most beautiful "Travis" bracelet from a very talented friend late last week(on behalf of my very kind June 2002 mommies friends). It matches my "Samuel" and "Alex" bracelets made by the very same friend. I am adding a link to the Junebug Boutique on the sidebar. These three ladies do great work with bows, bracelets, and crocheted pieces. Give them a peek if you have a chance.

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We close on our construction loan tonight. This time next week, they could be ripping my house apart. gulp.
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I am, for the first time, admitting that I'm feeling dissatisfied with my job. Three years is about how long I've stayed at any job prior to this, so it's about time I started feeling restless with this one. What to do...what to do...
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The torrential rain let up just enough on Saturday so as not to ruin our BBQ. It was quite lovely. Even if we had to hide indoors to escape being carried away by the mosquitoes.

My puppy transport was moved up a couple hours, so I didn't get any gardening done at all. I did hit WalMart and buy some yarn to complete the preemie blankie I was working on, so it wasn't a complete loss as far as the To Do list.

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From the "People are so frickin clueless" file. I got an email forwarded to me today. One of those, for every person you forward this to, the family receives three cents. Normally I read them and delete them. This one, however, came complete with a picture of a baby girl with a bandaged head and visible burns on her face. I promptly sent a return email that said, "Please do NOT send these sorts of emails to me ever again. Thank you." Too harsh? Too bad.
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When I was growing up, my mother had a "painting" of ocean waves crashing onto rocks hanging up in our house. She didn't want it anymore so I retrieved it from her garage sale pile and it now hangs in my office. I don't know why I like it so much. It still has the $5.99 pricetag on the back, and a weird dark spot/stain in the ocean waves. But it's nice to have...it makes me smile to see it.
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I think I need to go hunt up another cup of coffee. I'm falling asleep.
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I have met a lot of really great people through animal rescue. But let me tell you...there are some personalities that just make me CRAZY! For instance...and this is purely hypothetical mind you...

A lost rescue dog. In my hometown. The "search effort" is being coordinated by someone in INDIANA! And she tells us things like, "If you get a call from someone reporting that they've seen the dog, make sure you get their phone number." Gee...ya think?!?! oy!!!

For a week, this person insisted that the dog MUST be on the east side of town...because that was where the last report was from. Prior to that, the dog had been hanging out on the west side of town. For a week, I said we should keep all our options open and keep looking on the west side of town. I was told I was wasting my time. Guess what? The dog on the west side of town was a completely different dog and was picked up and returned to its owner. I'd be laughing my ass off if I wasn't so pissed and worried about the damn missing dog.
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My husband just came in from working in the barn and asked ME if he needed to take a shower. "Do I smell really bad?" he asks. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! Like what now? Am I supposed to smell him and give a shower rating? Men!
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When recovering from a fractured ankle, it's not a great idea to walk a couple city blocks to a park and then wander around said park at an art fair. Makes for a lot of pain the next day.
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Songs to make me cry

God Only Cries - Diamond Rio

On an icy road one night
A young man loses his life
They marked the shoulder with a cross
And his family gathers round
On a piece of Hallowed ground
Their hearts are heavy with their loss
As the tears fall from their eyes
There's one who'll always sympathise

God only cries for the living
'Cause it's the living that are left to carry on
And all the angels up in Heaven,
They're not grieving because they're gone
There's a smile on their faces
'Cause they're in a better place than
Mmm, baby, than, oh
God only cries for the living
'Cause it's the living that are so far from home

It still makes me sad
When I think of my Granddad
I miss him each and every day
But I know the time will come
When my own gradnson
Wonders why I went away
Maybe we're not meant to understand
'Til we meet up in the Promised Land

God only cries for the living
'Cause it's the living that are left to carry on
And all the angels up in Heaven
They're not grieving because they're gone
There's a smile on their faces
'Cause they're in a better place than
Oh, baby, than, oh
God only cries for the living
'Cause it's the living that are so far from home
Yeah, we're so far from home
Mmmmm, mmmm

I Believe - Diamond Rio

Every now and then soft as breath upon my skin
I feel you come back again
And it's like you haven't been gone a moment from my side
Like the tears were never cried
Like the hands of time are holding you and me
And with all my heart I'm sure we're closer than we ever were
I don't have to hear or see, I've got all the proof I need
There are more than angels watching over me
I believe, I believe

Chorus
That when you die your life goes on
It doesn't end here when you're gone
Every soul is filled with light
It never ends and if I'm right
Our love can even reach across eternity
I believe, I believe

Forever, you're a part of me
Forever, in the heart of me
And I'll hold you even longer if I can
The people who don't see the most
Say that I believe in ghosts
And if that makes me crazy, then I am
'cause I believe

There are more than angels watching over me
I believe, I believe

Weekend sunshine

It's so easy to forget. How's that for irony? But I do forget. Not that they're gone, but that they were ever alive.

Steve and Sam and I spent a delightful afternoon with my friend Mary and her family (pictures will follow this evening). Mary has a husband named Greg and two beautiful children...Gabi, 4, and Ray, 6 weeks. Mary and I have been "online friends" for four (or five?) years. We went through our first pregnancies, first babies, unemployment, presidential election, relocation, new jobs, and second pregnancies...via email and a message board that we both belong to.

Mary is what my mom calls a kindred spirit. Her easygoing kindness has always been one of the things that attracts me to her. Mary is the kind of person that cares about how to give someone a hand up, rather than a judgmental push back down. She is an amazing poet and her words never cease to amaze me, whether in composition or a brief email. She understands more about the human spirit than just about anyone I have ever met (except maybe another poet friend of mine...hmmm...interesting). She's beautiful and she has the heart to back it all up.

(I'd better stop here before I sound like I'm a crazed stalker who can't stop gushing).

And here's where the irony comes into play. I saw her little baby boy and I wasn't sad (though the sadness would come later). I was surprised. He was so...alive. The whole family was so alive. And it made me realize that we've been walking around with this sort of blanket over us that mutes every sound and dims every color. Steve, Sam, and I haven't really been living. We've been existing.

I won't lie to you (or to Mary, because I know she reads here)...yesterday was a tremendous effort and Steve and I both went home exhausted. We had a good time, please don't get me wrong. But the normally simple act of going out and being with people we like (and who understand about us) was something akin to trudging through molasses. We did it as we do every other thing in our lives, trudging through.

But there they were with all their lightness...all their life. It's been so long since we felt that. We've been grappling with so much death and the resulting grief, that it refreshed our souls to see that life remains...laughter, sleeping babies, excitement, grilled burgers, wine, chatter, breastfeeding mothers, art fairs, playgrounds, overtired children having temper tantrums, hungry babies...it's all still there...somewhere outside of this cover that we have over us.

Being brutally honest...it was startling to see a live baby. He smiled and nursed and cried. It was all too beautiful and I had to turn my eyes away. It was easier to watch our June babies, who have long passed the baby stage, run around the yard (and threaten to beat each other with plastic baseball bats). It didn't require me to lift the cloak and look directly into the light. But being in the presence of that light warmed a part of me that has been cold for what seems like a very long time.

In a quiet moment, I talked to him about something silly and touched his little toes. He pulled his foot away and I was surprised by the movement. He cried and the music of it nearly made me weep. He looked at me so intently, drawing something out of me that I almost forgot was there.

Now I remember the life too. Not just the death.

It's been so long.

Thank you friends. We had a lovely day. Whether you realize it or not, you shared more than a BBQ and a walk in the park with us.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Let the demolition begin

The before...

Imagine the second floor on the left side of the house will be taller and there will be a second floor across the top of the right side of the house (where there currently is only a roof). The enclosed front porch will be converted to an open front porch with a porch swing.

The very first hole in our upstairs closet. We had to locate our fireplace chimney. I am soooo ready for this to get started!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Vacation pics

OK...so it wasn't a vacation per se...but pictures are up here of our trip to Detroit last weekend.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Thank you Rachel!

You're the best! I'm going to save it for when my jacuzzi tub is installed in my new master bath. :o)

I opened it after Sherry commented. It smells AMAZING!

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Things to do...places to go...people to see...

I'm getting the itch again to break out the yarn in serious fashion. I started looking at yarns on eBay yesterday and almost purchased some. I was only stopped by the email from our bank loan officer attempting to finalize our home remodel loan. So...this weekend is going to be some serious stash-busting. I still have that alpaca/angora yarn I got locally. And I have some silk yarn I got with a gift certificate from my secret pal during the last round (I think it was SP7). It's a real pretty deep red color. I think it might turn itself into a shawl of some sort.

Of course, all this crocheting or knitting will have to wait until I get all the breakables in my home packed up...and get the second floor cleaned out for demolition day. It's going to be weird taking down the crib...but that's a post for another day (most likely after the emotional breakdown I'm going to have. I mean, I've GOT to share all the ugly details, right?).

So I'm going to be turbo cleaning woman. I just hope I don't pass out in this heat. Have you noticed that it's hot? No...not hot....HOT.

And let's see...weekend plans are pretty full this weekend...

Saturday...
Secret shop for lunch.
Visit JoAnn's (hey...I've got a 40% off coupon or two I can still use!).
Doggy transport.
Weed the flower gardens.
BBQ with my family and maybe cool off in our little pool.

Sunday...
Visit my friend Mary and her family. (please, please, please say a prayer for me that I don't fall apart when I meet her new baby boy cause that would really suck and make us all uncomfortable, I'm sure)
Weed the veggie garden.

Aside from the two potential breakdowns, I think it's a pretty good plan for a weekend. But I REALLY want to crochet. I know I'll get some done while Steve drives me all the places we're going to go. He loves to drive and I love to crochet...so it's perfect bliss. Well...not perfect...but close.

Now if I could just find some time to spend with my sewing machine...

Hey, a girl can dream, can't she?

And the socks are off!

I sent off the watermelon socks today. And I sent out the sock exchange letters to those who requested them (except one that I'm still waiting to hear from, but she's on the other side of the world, so I've gotta give her time to catch up to us...or for us to catch up to her...who the hell knows). Happy sock exchange everyone!

And no, this will not be the last post about socks. I'll have to blog about each and every pair that comes my way. I know, I know...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Get over it. Socks are cool!

(Now I just need to learn how to knit or crochet socks...now THAT would be cool!)

The pediatrician survived

I forgot to tell you that I did not confront the pediatrician. But only because I was trying not to laugh in his face. He was so clueless about life things that truly matter...while being dead serious about the importance of wearing a helmet while biking and getting Sam into swim lessons before he's five years old. I'm not kidding. I almost laughed right in his face. I think I may have even snorted a time or two in an effort to disguise my amusement. And Sam didn't help me much when he looked at the Dr. and said, "You've gotta be kidding me." bwa ha ha ha...out of the mouths of babes.

But the doc's good with Sam and he does a good job with Sam's physical healthcare...taking care of his breathing issues and his infant heart murmur well above the standard of care. So we'll keep him. We just won't ask him for any mental health or emotional wellbeing advice about our child. Because apparently once we start dealing with the brain, this doctor is no good.

So the stats...

Sam weighs 42 pounds and is 40 1/2 inches tall. 90th percentile for weight and just above 50th percentile for height. Poor kid is going to take after his short fat mommy instead of his tall skinny daddy.

He had his eyes checked and he doesn't seem to need glasses yet. Though I am a bit concerned that the nurse conducting the test let him call a "house" shape a "triangle." Now I know the roof is triangular, but the entire shape itself is not a triangle. And she was so concerned that he identify the apple shape correctly. This bothers me for some reason...

Sam hasn't been to the doctor in a year! The doctor looks at us and says, "Has he really been this healthy?" And it dawned on me...yeah...he has! So much for the theory that stress makes you sick. It apparently works opposite for Samuel.

We had the doctor look at Sam's toe too. Don't know that I mentioned this before. While at my aunt's house for my grandma's funeral, Sam dropped Toby the Tram Engine, a beloved Thomas the Tank Engine train, on his big toe while standing on ceramic tile. The result was instantaneous smashed toe...black and blue (I have pictures, but I won't subject you to that grossness). Good news is the doctor doesn't think he'll lose the toenail. yay!

So that's the munchkin's update.

Welcome to the world Baby Hollie

Hollie Margaret entered the world on 7/19/06. Born into the most wonderfully loving family. With a mom that has been my "best friends forever" friend since elementary school.

Birth Time: 11:05 pm
Weight: 7 lbs 14 oz
Length: 21 in.

CONGRATULATIONS mama! I love you and wish you all the best (you better invite me for a visit before she gets too big).

(I can't believe that baby is already on the web...before the end of her first day even!)

Can I make a shameless plea that everyone comment on this email. Sherri reads this blog and I'd love for her to see all your congratulations when she returns. Thanks!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

For some of my friends

Tonight I'm thinking thoughts of friends...

Sherri M who is supposed to be holding her baby daughter right about now.

Jaye who is in the hospital with a mystery illness.

Treggles :o)

Ann who is facing an uncertain future...again.

I love you all and I hope for the best for all of you.

Dear Dr. A.

Dr. A:

Just wanted to let you know that I went to the lab yesterday afternoon and, after the lab techs figured out whether they could do "fancy coag tests," I had my blood drawn (all 10+ vials! eek!).

Thanks again.

Catherine

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

Hi, Cathy,
Yep, a lot of blood---checking for a lot of things...
Will let you know as the results start filtering in...
Take care,
Dr. A.

She did not just say that

I dribbled two small spots of stromboli grease on the front of the lilac silk blouse I'm wearing today. I went to the bathroom/kitchenette area down the hall to wash it off with some paper towel and dishwashing soap (the magic cure for getting out grease I'm told).

I was laughing about it with the woman who has an office right off that area, "Of course, now I'll have a soapy left boob all day."

She laughed and said, "They'll all just think you're leaking."

Why doesn't she just grab an office-approved plastic knife and stab me through the heart with it?!?!

The grease better come out of my blouse.

shhhh...there's a secret

...over at Treggles' place.

I wasn't expecting that

Here I am, toodling along in life, thinking I'm such hot shit and all healed and healthy and all that nonsense. I go in to the lab to have my blood drawn and nearly have not one, but two meltdowns.

First, Steve takes pity on my sore ankle (which I re-hurt yesterday tripping on an entry rug at my office) and drops me at the door of the lab where they're going to draw my blood and do tests to figure out why my babies keep dying inside of me. Holy shit that's an awful sentence to type...to even think. But it's the hard truth, so I might as well get used to it, right? Anyway...I hop out of the minivan that I hate, close the door, take a step back to allow Steve to drive the minivan past, look to the left to see if there are any more cars coming, and see Dr. I (the doctor who delivered Travis).

Like any self-assured, healed and healthy woman would do, I looked down at my feet and hobbled into the building just as fast as humanly possible. What the hell?!?!? A smile and a hello would have killed me?!?!? A "thanks for taking such good care of me when I wasn't even your patient and was having the worst day of my life" would be out of the question?!?!? But nooooo...I ran like a scared little girl. And I could barely contain the tears as I stumbled my way into the building.

Then, after a brief wait in the waiting area, I sit down in the lab chair and overhear the lab techs talking ABOUT me. Never do they think to talk TO me. Bits and pieces I overhear are, "I don't know if I can do this...this one is 8 hours...so she's going to have to go downtown isn't she?...oh, I know what this one is for...(whispers that I couldn't hear, but I'm sure are about how it means multiple pregnancy loss and how sad it is)...I'm not sure, I've never had to do any fancy coag testing, just the regular stuff." OH MY GOD! I'm sitting there calling myself all sorts of freak and trying not to cry. Not to mention the fact that I'm having serious flashbacks to the last time I was in a lab for a blood draw to test my blood glucose BECAUSE I WAS PREGNANT! OH MY GOD! I WAS PREGNANT! And now I'm here getting the blood draw of a freak with no baby at all. Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry...

I wasn't expecting it at all. The flood of emotions that just washed over me. I excused myself to the bathroom to breathe for a moment before Steve and I headed out again because I was really afraid I was going to fall apart on him in the car...and I know he doesn't need that. It's obviously all been hiding in there somewhere. The shame and embarrassment...the sadness and fear...the guilt. Have I just lost the ability to let it out? It's nothing I've done consciously...that I'm aware of anyway.

But now that I think about it, I do notice a difference in myself. Yesterday, someone I hadn't seen since before Travis died gave me "the look" and the sympathetic head tilt and asked, "How ARE you?" It used to be that I would look down, choke back the tears and say whatever few words I could manage to squeak out. But this time I looked her in the face and gave her some pat answer I can't even recall now. But I noticed her look change. She seemed almost shocked that I was doing well. And now I'm shocked at myself too. What an odd thing to realize about yourself...that you don't feel what you should feel.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I have peas!

And they are YUMMY!

If nothing else

You must read this post by Amalah!

Of course it helps if you watch Blues Clues in secrecy...and are a little addicted to LOST.

Too funny.

Too funky?



I don't think the person I'm sending socks to reads my blog, so I feel pretty free to post these here. What do you think? Stupid? I was going to go more tame and send something that might have a chance in hell of actually being worn. But these just spoke to me. Tell me...too funky? Should I go back and get the more normal ones? Oh the decisions...!

good news v. bad news

I told Dr. A to set it up and today I'm going for all the bloodwork that will hopefully reveal with is wrong with me.

It's strange to think that I should be pregnant at this moment. I am so emotionally far removed from that experience right now that I can barely believe it. I don't put much stock in the "should have beens" anymore. I think of them now as "might have beens." But now I think of all the might have beens in my life and I feel very very small and powerless. But forcing myself to think about this at this particular moment has made me feel...well...strange. I should be worrying about serial ultrasounds and possible amnios to check for lung maturity...in an effort to manage my pregnancy. Manage my pregnancy...ha...that's funny now. But I don't have any of that. I have, in its place, the worry of what is wrong within my body. What "thing" lurks there? And will it reveal itself?

It's weird waiting for bad news. So much different than waiting for good news. I mean, I know there's something wrong with me. We just need to name it. If I were pregnant I would know I was pregnant...and we would just need to name it. ha! I guess it's not so different after all.

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

Oh...I almost forgot. I get to go with Sam to the pediatrician today. I hope to thank him for the oh-so-helpful advice he gave us last August.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

In all seriousness

If you might want to play the sock exchange, email your snail mail address to me at Kate94651@hotmail.com and I'll send you the letter. Otherwise I'm going to have to draft the ladies at work (and my family...hehehe).

I've got two people signed up...Sherri (who is due to give birth this week) and Dawn (hi Dawn, you lurker you).

For those who want to know more...Here are the "rules."

You get a letter that says:
This is a Funky Sock Exchange! Please send a unique pair of Ladies size socks to the person whose name is listed on the number one space below (there are two spaces). Then move my name up to the number one position and put your name in the number two spot. Only your name and my name should be on the list when you sent out the letter. I have enclosed a blank letter for copying. Please fillout the letter and sent it to six friends.

This is not a chain letter
(yes it is). It is just for fun! If you cannot do this within 5 days, let me know so that it will be fair to all those who participate. A manilla envelope should mail the socks nicely. You should receive 36 pairs of socks for the price of one (6*6=36), and it's fun to see the different places your socks will come from. Seldom does anyone drop out, because we can all use funky socks and a smile!

The turnaround time is extremely fast because there are only two names on the list. You should start receiving socks within two weeks. Have fun but remember to contact me if you don't participate.


That's it...that's how it works.

If anybody wants to contribute


I am accepting donations to pay for my vacation trip* to the Canary Islands and Madeira, Gibraltar, and the Algarve (featuring a seven-night cruise aboard the deluxe M.S. Le Diamant).
*Case Western Alumni




Someday...

Feeling good? Open the mailbox

I hate Pampers.

That's all.

**edited to add**

In the interest of fairness...

I hate Huggies and Luvs too.

And Gerber.

Computer memory

I just accessed a memo that I haven't used since May 4, 2006. My Dad's Birthday. Four days before all hell broke loose yet again in my life.

It's strange to think about what I was thinking on the day I last used that memo and hit SAVE.

huh...weird.

Surprise surprise

Are you treating other human beings with respect, kindness, and honesty?

I would have to say I have fallen short on this one. It seems it's so easy to fall into the "woe is me" trap and EXPECT to be treated a certain way. And then, when you're not treated that way, to bitch and moan about it. To criticize. To mock. It's so easy, when you're grieving, to think of yourself as the worse off person in the group. But are you? Do you know every single little thing that is going on around you? Do you know if the person next to you just lost a loved one? If they are sick and dying? Do you know it all?

During the last couple of months, some things have been brought home to me time and time again. I have been loathe to admit them because I've been so angry and frustrated with the way my life has turned out. But the fact is that I have not used respect toward many (including my darling husband). I have lost some of my kindness in my feeling sorry for myself. And my honesty...the thing I say I value above all else...I am the biggest hypocrite when it comes to my own honesty.

I'm frustrated and angry...so I yell. I yell about the dumbest things you could ever imagine. Mostly, I yell at my husband. Why? Because he is a safe place. Because he'll take it. Because he thinks I'm a loon and doesn't worry too much about my yelling...and he loves me anyway. And that's a wonderful thing. But where is my respect? Did I misplace it somewhere? I really need to find it again.

I faced off against another attorney who I said all sorts of derogatory things. He was an idiot. He was completely unprepared. You name it, I used it to criticize his performance. Only days later did I find out he has an aggressive form of cancer and is dying. Yes, he lacked the skills necessary for lawyering. And yes, maybe he was sloppy and owed us all a bit more attention (even if it meant getting off the case). But now that I know WHY all that happened I think two things...(1) I'm a big mouthed idiot who needs to shut the hell up; and (2) that poor man. I'm sad that my kindness didn't show on that day.

And honesty. This one makes me snort with self-derision. Who am I to think that people should be more honest or more open? I sit in front of a computer screen and spew out those things I'm too cowardly to say out loud. I talk about how people should stand up for what is right, but I let moments slide past when I have the perfect opportunity to speak the truth. I suppose it's a means to protect myself. But that is not an adequate excuse.

Surprise surprise...look what I found under this rock? Myself. And I'm ugly this way.

I appreciate the kindness

There was just a moment of hesitation, just a brief pause. Most people wouldn't have noticed it. But me...with my guard up all the time to protect me against the world...I noticed it.

"Todd is home. I guess his wife...[pause]...is due to deliver any day."

In that brief moment in time, I could almost hear him thinking, "Where do I go from here? How do I finish this sentence? Have I said the wrong thing? Have I unintentionally caused pain?"

In less time than it takes to blink, I learned the depths of your kindness. I discovered the love you hold in your heart...the empathy for others.

In a second, the anger at insensitivity was washed away and replaced with a respect for you...a wish that I learn from your example.

All it took was a pause...a hesitation...here and gone faster than most would recognize.

Thank you. My day is just a bit brighter because you paused.

Competitive nature

I have fallen behind the curve. I'm not pregnant. I'm not trying to get pregnant. I don't even want to be pregnant. And it's not grief that's making me say these things.

I'm rather enjoying having my body back, such that it is. I walk with a limp, but it's a darn sight better than the waddling with a limp I would surely be doing about this time had Travis lived. I don't have aches and pains except for my ankle. And I can take extra extra strength motrin for that ankle pain without fear of creating a two-headed child. I can drink when and what I want. And I do. I lay around in the evening and feel physically good in this heat wave. This morning I put on a skirt that would have been impossible to wear had my stomach been sporting a third trimester bulge. There are no leaking breasts to worry about when I dress myself. Life is good.

That doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. A lot.

And there is still a competitive streak in me that feels like compared to everyone else, I'm failing. I'm not in high school...and I thought I had long ago left that crap behind. But there it is laughing at me..."You don't fit in anywhere you freak."

Real nice.

I wish...

Oh never mind...it's pointless.

Sock swap?

Anyone want to join a funky sock exchange? I've got to send it to six people and I would prefer six willing participants. The plan is that you're supposed to get 36 pairs of socks for the price of one. Heck, if I even get one pair of socks as a return on my investment it will have been worth the fun. What do ya say? Wanna swap socks?

Monday, July 17, 2006

What Kind of Empath Are You?


What Kind of Empath Are You?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Shaman. You are a Shamanic Empath. You are at one with nature and can speak with animal/plant life. Your powers come from the Sun & the Moon, and the elements. The weather moves with your mind and all of nature is at your beck and call. (from The Book of Storms by Jad Alexander at MySilentEcho.com)


(If only I could conjure up some control over my OWN BODY!) grrrrr

Did you know that grrrrrr-ing is very "healthy?" It is. So there.

Update - The New Yorker

Willa Raeburn: Born May 22, 2006
by Daniel Raeburn
Issue of 2006-07-10 and 17
Posted 2006-07-03

Around Christmas, 2004, my daughter, Irene, died in the final days of her gestation. My wife, Rebekah, decided not to have Irene’s body removed by Cesarean section but instead to go through labor and delivery. She knew that this would give her a slightly better chance at carrying a baby successfully to term in the future. She delivered. Stunned, we carried on. The worst that could happen had already happened, and so, in a sense, we could no longer be afraid. Or so we thought.

Nine months after the stillbirth, Rebekah discovered that she was pregnant again. Almost nine long months after that discovery, her belly was as hard and freckled as a farm egg. The baby was in the breech position, and Rebekah was scheduled for a Cesarean. The appointed day dawned purple, as though the earth, holding its breath, were about to burst.

As I secured our empty infant carrier in the back seat of our car, a neighborhood madman shouted at Rebekah in his hoarse singsong. “Dirty whore!” he cried. “Filthy whore!” He brandished a greasy playing card before him like a talisman, blocking Rebekah from his line of sight. When we pulled up to a stop sign, the car behind us honked. The two young men inside, sporting gold jewelry and oversized clothing, glowered as they passed, their stereo pounding, boom, boom, boom. Lake Shore Drive was lined with police cars and sleek black vehicles. Choppers buzzed overhead. George W. Bush was visiting Chicago to proclaim progress in his war in Iraq.

Lake Michigan was as blue and untroubled as the sky. The leaves gleamed in the light; flowers, hairy with pollen, lolled under them. After we had passed downtown, I pulled over and parked. “Our last walk as a couple,” I said. Rebekah removed her sandals to walk in the sand. We passed the relics of a fire: scorched driftwood, an abandoned tennis ball, and a lonely, upright beer bottle marking a mound in the sand. Closer to the shoreline, we walked amid sea glass, shells, tiny bones, fossils. Affluent moms jogged past, pushing all-terrain strollers that featured the emblazonry of mountain-climbing gear.

None of it seemed real.

The hospital did not assign us the room we had stayed in for Irene’s birth, but the new room was identical. Rebekah said, “Does being here give you flashbacks?”

A burst of resonant oscillations came through the walls; it sounded as if we were underwater, listening to someone dribble a basketball. “A baby’s heartbeat,” Rebekah said.

A nurse attached Rebekah to a machine that broadcast our own child’s submerged thrumming. A ribbon of thin graph paper oozed forth, marking the range of the heartbeat.

“Is this your first pregnancy?” the nurse asked.

“Fourth.”

“And what were the results of the other three?”

“Termination. Then miscarriage. Then stillbirth.”

The nurse slipped a needle into Rebekah’s arm. A plosive rush of static sounded from the monitor, like wind at the other end of a telephone connection, drowning out the caller’s voice. Rebekah shifted and the thumping resumed.

Attendants presented Rebekah with waivers and asked her to sign here, here, here, and here. A doctor entered the room. It was the same doctor who had delivered Irene with incredible grace under pressure.

A knot of figures dressed in blue surrounded my wife and commenced their ritual. They shaved, swabbed, and drugged her. Then they wheeled her out the door, leaving me alone beside her wrinkled and empty bed. I stripped and put on the surgical outfit they’d left behind. It was a bright, youthful blue, cut amorphously so it would fit anyone. The bouffant cap and the slippery, podlike shoe covers made me look like a toddler. I was thirty-seven and a half years old. Statistically, my life was half over.

“O.K., Dad,” a nurse called. She ushered me into a nearby room. The figures in blue were crowded around Rebekah’s body. Only their eyes showed. A blue screen, stretched across Rebekah’s chest, kept me from seeing her innards. I sat on a stool beside her head. She took my hand in hers. I looked into her eyes. The nebulae there seemed to be both expanding and collapsing. I recognized, then admitted, her fear. It was my own. I kissed her forehead. She tried to smile. Suddenly, two drops of blood appeared on the blue screen. The drops quivered. I looked away. I saw a stainless-steel cart loaded with cannisters of emergency oxygen. Beside the cannisters were Rebekah’s sandals, tucked against each other.

“Stand up, Dad,” a voice commanded. “It’s a girl.”

The doctor was holding a baby upside down by its ankles. The baby hung there, as blue as a blueberry and covered in fluids. She wriggled. Someone snipped the coil connecting her to Rebekah’s exposed gray bowels and blood jumped from the nub. The blue baby spluttered. She choked and turned as pink as a piece of candy. She changed from an internal organ into a human being. She cried. Then I cried.

“That is happiness,” Willa Cather once wrote. “To be dissolved into something complete and great.” When I’d sifted through Irene’s ashes, my memory of Cather’s line had brought me some solace.

We named Irene’s sister Willa. We huddled around her as though she were a campfire. Entranced, we watched her shift and sigh and emit small, unexpected noises before she settled back into sleep. Emotions quivered across her sleeping face. In her wavering expression, we divined flickers not only of Irene but of ourselves and our ancestors. Willa’s body was as warm as a pulsing ember.

After midnight, I went to get water. As I passed the window of the nursery, I spied a dozen newborns. All were swaddled in pink-and-blue blankets and capped by pink-and-blue beanies. All were still. Each face looked puffy and jaundiced, but peaceful and somehow Asian in mien. The babies were as alike as larvae. Any one of them could have been my daughter. I wanted to hold them all.

Top 10 Best Places to Live

1 Fort Collins, CO
2 Naperville, IL
3 Sugar Land, TX
4 Columbia/Ellicott City, MD
5 Cary, NC
6 Overland Park, KS
7 Scottsdale, AZ
8 Boise, ID
9 Fairfield, CT
10 Eden Prairie, MN

I have been to Naperville, IL, but none of the other places. It's nice...a bit too yuppie for my tastes...but nice.

Are you a good witch or a bad witch?

(apologies to Glenda the good witch)

I'm reading a new book. Simple Wicca. I think it was the girlie bright pink cover that made me buy this book. Or maybe it was the line on page three that says,

Growing up, whenever my family went to church (a sporadic event at best), I remember sitting in the pew and feeling the most tremendous case of displacement, almost of despair, wondering what in the world was wrong with me. I love churches themselves, their structure and ambiance, the softly glowing windows, the candlelight, the hush of reverence. But as I got older the strange sadness grew, and I realized it wasn't that something was wrong-something was missing.

Wicca helped me name that something. It wasn't enough for me to sit and listen to someone else tell me about God. I wanted to know God personally, to feel and sing and celebrate with Him, to speak my words and, most important, to experience the answer.

I don't know anything about Wicca, but I can definitely understand a personal spiritual journey. After all, I'm on one. When I read lines in books like this and find myself nodding my head in agreement, I KNOW that this person has something I might be interested in reading. Something speaks to me. Is it God? Does God exist in those moments?

Yes, I have an obsession with God. After losing two babies, who wouldn't?

I went to a couple of interesting seminars at the conference this past weekend. They were all neatly labeled...Good Grief/Bad Grief...Anger...I'm So Mad at God...Pregnancy and Infant Loss...Wisdom of Words: Writing to Heal the Spirit. But there was something that led me to pick and choose those workshops and pull bits and pieces from each, meld them together, and come away with an understanding of myself that I didn't have before. Or maybe I did have it, but it was hidden away somewhere inside all the grief and sadness. Was God there in those moments? Helping me to choose what classes would help? Helping me hear the things I needed to hear to feel...dare I say it...better?

In the God workshop, the presenter talked about the five God constructs that seem most prevalent in society. A Creator God. A Pre-Ordaining God. An Intervening God. A Disinterested God. A Powerless God. A Punishing God. A Non-Existent God. But I found God in this sentence...

You don't deserve what you get.

Good and bad. Happy and sad. Life and death. We don't DESERVE any of it. Where the sense of entitlement came from, I have no idea.

You don't DESERVE what you get.

There is God in that sentence somewhere...for me.

I'm still processing this, but I think it is definitely a sort of offshoot of the theory of randomness versus control. No matter what you get in this life...you don't DESERVE it. And you can hold onto your social constructs of God all you like...try to squeeze him into these neat little categories. But the fact is that God, whoever and wherever S/He is, is bigger than all of them.

And it is important that people around me (blog readers included) understand that this is MY journey, not theirs. What holds their faith (and their fate) may not hold mine. I can not talk someone into my belief system and they will not be able to talk me into theirs. I need to walk my own path. And there is no harm in not seeing eye to eye...not worshipping the exact same image of God. Nothing will happen if you believe in a Pre-Ordaining God and I believe in a Powerless God. Nothing. That's what belief and faith are about...believing in the unseen. And because it's unseen there is no "right" answer.

The freedom to explore is mine.

And I have come to understand myself in this. I DO believe my children are in a "better place." I have to. I can't believe it all just ends. Previously I would have said, "I can't believe they deserved that." But now I know they didn't deserve anything. Life or death. I didn't deserve anything. Happy or sad.

I DO NOT believe in a grand plan. I DO NOT believe in cosmic justice. At least not here in this world. Maybe somewhere...in some other time...there will be cosmic justice. Maybe not. I'm not meant to understand. For now it is enough to KNOW that I do not deserve anything.

But that is MY understanding...and I had to come to it IN MY OWN time. It is offensive for someone else to try to force that belief on me. And that is why so many things are classified as "those stupid things people say to the grieving." We want to share our own peace...even if it's never been tested. Even if we throw it out from a place where we really have no understanding. Like standing on the shore...tossing in a life preserver...never having to venture into the water. The person really wants to help you from the shore and they just don't know that there is a riptide pulling you in so strongly that the life preserver isn't going to be strong enough. You know if you grab that life preserver you will most likely drown. So you search and search for another way out, all the while not having the energy to explain your actions while the person on the shore keeps yelling at you to just grab their life preserver. They can't understand...why won't you take the easy way out? They yell and yell and yell at you. But they don't realize that their way isn't easy and that it means certain death to you. That you have to find your own way.

Another something that was said at the God workshop was this, "If there is something about what I believe about God that drives me crazy...I just change it." She asked us of God, "What do you expect? Maybe it's not God that's the problem. Maybe your expectations of God are wrong." Maybe. Maybe things are random on this planet. Maybe God set us up here to see how we would handle it. How we would grow and learn and love and hate and live and die. Maybe THAT is the lesson...that we don't DESERVE anything.

I don't know. I certainly don't have it all figured out. But I feel like something has lifted from me. This feeling that I have to fit God into someone else's construct. That there is a "right" and a "wrong" answer. That I have to choose between any of those types of Gods that seem so wrong TO ME. I can change my expectations of God. I can learn and explore and believe what I can believe and toss out the rest. It's ok.

And I think I'm going to be ok too.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

So much

I have had an unbelievable weekend. I wouldn't have ever chosen such a weekend for myself had my sons not died. That's an honest truth. Strangely enough that honestly sad truth is no longer devestating. It is what it is...and I can appreciate it for just that.

As I sat at the kitchen table last night with Catherine and Sarah, two amazingly beautiful women, I was struck by something I had heard at the Compassionate Friends National Conference a day earlier. We parents of dead children tend to spend so much time longing for what we lost, feeling sad, angry, guilty, whatever. And that's ok. But we can (and maybe should) spend some time each day thinking about those people and things that have come into our lives BECAUSE our children died. And maybe, we can even feel a little bit grateful for them. And I do.

Let me tell you about Catherine...the other Catherine. :o) She makes you feel as though you have been friends forever. She's a master gardener with a wicked sense of humor. She knits and beads like it's second nature. And you should see her with her kids. You can tell there is so much love in her home that you can't help but smile when you are there. Her children are beautiful. Alexander is smart and funny and adorable. Catherine is going to have to beat the girls off with a stick soon, I am sure. And Chloe...oh my...what a sweetheart. As we were driving the 10 miles back to our hotel, Sam told us three times, in a very sad voice, "I miss Chloe already." She smiles at you and your heart just melts...she is beautiful. And Sam now tells me he has TWO girlfriends...Little Ashley from daycare...and now Little Chloe. [sigh]

And gorgeous Sarah. She didn't laugh at me when I told her it felt weird to actually meet her and Catherine. She "got it." I'm so glad she "got it." She is a beautiful spirit with an outward sense of calm. I can see how easy it might be for people to take her for granted...to mistake her quiet and peaceful outward appearance for "healed" or "over it." But since I know her story, I know the truth. And in knowing the truth, it's easy to see her sadness...and her love. She's so kind, so loving, so open. I wish the world would treat her with kid gloves so she won't ever lose that.

We drank wine. We ate pizza. We toured Catherine's house...which is gorgeous even in it's mid-construction state. We talked and talked. But there were moments of silence as well. Like old friends, we didn't feel that awkward need to fill up those moments. I think we all knew what we were thinking when (at least some of) those moments happened. We didn't need to explain it to each other. I think at some point we were all thinking, "Where would I be today, instead of here, if..."

Life is an amazing journey. And the magic isn't in the destination. The magic is along the path. And I'm so glad I am not alone on this path...but at the same time I wish I was alone. Nobody should have to make this journey, least of all these two women who, I can honestly say, I love like sisters.

I feel lighter.

I went into this weekend coming from a few weeks of feeling...well...not so great.

I saw some interesting presentations at the conference and I met two friends who I wouldn't met had we not made the trip.

Lorraine Ash, author of Life Touches Life, said in a workshop, "There is a certain importance to having someone bear witness to your story." I think that's why I continue to blog. There IS a certain importance to writing it all down...all the confusion and insanity that runs around in my head. But there is also a certain importance to having someone actually read and know my story too. And for me, knowing that there are people here who I can trust with my story makes it that much more healing of a place. I wish I didn't know any of you...but I'm so glad I do.

I will blog more about the conference during this week. But first I will take some time to digest the experience. If I try to talk about it now, I fear it will lack perspective and be an oversimplistic description of what I learned. Right now, I think I just want to savor the lightness of being that I'm feeling. So I'm going to go play Thomas the Tank Engine with Sam and try to distract him from missing his new girlfriend. :o)

Welcome to the world Eleanor Grace!

Congratulations NK! Best wishes for today and forever.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

More from Dr. A.

I feel like this is an ongoing column. "Dear Dr. A."

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

Dr. A:

Thanks. I appreciate you taking the time to respond. And I really appreciate your kindness. Just so you know...I'm not really trying to make a decision at this point...just gathering information. I am, by nature, a researcher.

I am a bit confused how a blood thinner would have anything to do with a uterine infection. I mean, I understand that infection can cause inflammation which can, in turn, prevent oxygen exchange with the fetus. But what about the infection itself? I'd really like to know what's going on in my own body...and then worry about how it might affect a pregnancy. I read about viral infections and they all sound pretty nasty. Is there an infection lurking about in my uterus just waiting to pounce? (sorry...morbid humor gets me through the days some days). I mean, do I have something I should worry about? Or is it "just" chronic inflammation without an infection? (which I personally would feel better AND worse about). Is this something that could affect me in other ways besides just the obvious reproductive issues?

Also, you mentioned that Dr. E. suggested a test. What test? For what? I'm curious what he thinks. What exactly are we testing for (in layman's terms, please).

I have read a lot online about clotting disorders and viral and bacterial infections...and I really feel the need to get to the bottom of my issues before taking that leap of faith again. And since I'm not getting any younger (I will jump into the "advanced maternal age" category come February), I really want to do what I can do right now. That way, when I AM ready to make a decision, I don't have to start from the beginning and waste valuable time. Surely you can understand that?


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

Telephone call response:

The gist is that I have the most honest and kind doctor on the planet. He doesn't know. And the peri doesn't know. Here are the high points...

The placental pathology would lean toward an indication of a viral infection. But none of the other signs of viral infection were noted on the ultrasound or in my presentation. Also, all my bloodwork came back negative. There is a possibility that that could change, so I will get some re-testing done to test for antibodies to certain viruses...particularly parvovirus (the human kind...not the dog kind). I have read about this and asked if I could be predisposed to have it because I have a child in daycare...could he have brought it home? It's possible, but it's also possible to pick it up at the grocery store or anywhere else...from anyone else. Unfortunately, the test will indicate whether I've had it in the past, but will not indicate WHEN I had it in the past.

Given the lack of other indicators, there is a strong possibility that it was not an infection. Therefore we're going to look into blood clotting disorders. Again...more blood tests. Either way, if we decide to try again we will plan on prophylactic doses of blood thinner. If the test shows a coagulation disorder, we will do full treatment doses. There is no way to tell if this will work. So that's what I'm sort of stuck on. It can't hurt...but nobody actually knows if it will really help.

So that's that. I told him I needed time to digest this information. I will call next week and set up the blood tests, since they take time to do. That way we don't have to waste time waiting for test results if we make the decision to try again. It might be nice to know what's wrong with me.

So small

Last night I was out looking for the lost rescue dog, Josie, again. The search has been frustrating and sad. She's out there somewhere...alone...in the rain...without someone to love her. I was really feeling discouraged about the whole thing. I was beginning to think suck sarcastic and skeptical thoughts. And then two things happened.

First, someone said, "I know this sounds crazy, but if it gives hope then we might as well try it." For some reason, that resonated within me and I regained my strength and my sense of humor about the whole thing. (Damn dog. Gonna make me crazy. I find her, I'm gonna wring her scrawny little neck.)

Also yesterday Steve and I drove home from work last night past the scene of a creek rescue. Human beings teetered on the edge of life and death right there at the bend in the road. Some fell on the side of life...and one fell on the side of death. It was all so random...who lives and who dies. It was all so random...where these things happen. We drive past there every single day, multiple times a day. Yesterday morning I had even noted how full the creek was and how fast it was flowing. Why did they go swimming there? Why yesterday? Why did that man try to save another person? Why did he disappear underneath the water while two others held on for more than three hours?

The older I get, the more vulnerable I feel...somehow smaller...in this big ole world. We dress it all up with conveniences, but life is still really very harsh. Giving and taking what it wants...when it wants it...without explanation. Is it God? Is it Mother Nature? Choice? Randomness? We're all susceptible to it whether we realize it or not...whether we like it or not.

I personally like things in neat little justifiable packages. You do this, you get that in return. But just because I like it that way doesn't mean I'm going to get what I want. We may never find that dog. They may never find that man.

We're all just so small in this world. But if we hang onto hope, we just might make it through.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

I haven't learned anything

I found out a friend had a miscarriage in late May. She didn't tell me until now because she was worried about me. I think part of it was that she wasn't ready to tell either...but that's neither here nor there. The more fascinating thing to come out of this is that I am STILL completely clueless. You'd think I'd have the right words by now. But nooooo...I'm still a bumbling idiot. I hope I haven't said the wrong things to her. God knows I don't want to make her feel any worse.

There is so much I WANT to say to her. Like how you don't have to weigh your loss against other people. Like how it's ok to feel sad about the lost should-have-beens. Like how it's ok to not feel sad too. Like how I wish so much that this hadn't happened to her. But I don't want to overstep and cross that line into 'none of your damn business.'

Maybe she'd rather pretend it never happened. Maybe she'd like to analyze it to death. I don't know. So I say the things I think I should say and leave her to take the lead on what she wants to talk about. And then I worry that I'm making her think I don't want to talk about it because I'm not talking about it. But I don't want to talk about it if she doesn't and make her think I'm forcing her to talk about it.

Jesus Christ! This SUCKS! There are no right answers. For the first time, I'm really seeing it from my friends' point of view. What can they say to me? When should they say it? How should they say it? Do they say anything at all?

I know I've been difficult to figure out, but I never truly appreciated the no-win nature of this horrible thing that happens WAY.TOO.OFTEN. We shouldn't have to do this...this figuring out this horrible path.

And what's the deal? I mean...I have far more experience on this path of grief and I still don't know a damn thing. So what was the point of it all? Just to suffer? Must stop that train of thought there...before it runs me over...again.

I love my friend. I think she knows that. I hope she knows that. I would do anything to make this not have happened to her. To make it all go away. The sadness. The fear. The sense that things will never be quite "right" again. But the most I can do is struggle to figure out what to say. I hope she doesn't mind that I haven't learned anything. I hope she forgives me when I say or do the wrong thing.
Hell, who wouldn't want to see what it looks like in their uterus?

Uh...me.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A conversation between two idiots

L: "I'm returning your call from...whenever it was that you called."

Me: "Did you go on a vacation or something?"

L: "No, I've been dealing with the same stuff you've been dealing with...funerals and such...my sister passed on after her long battle..."

Me: "Oh, I'm so sorry." (thinking, "God, am I an idiot.")

L: "Well, I guess that's just...the circle of life or something." (said as though he's heard the platitudes and doesn't believe them either)

Me: "I guess...but it still sucks."

L: "Yeah. Now we worry about my mom. Nobody should outlive their kids, that's for sure."

Me: "Yeah, tell me about it." (thinking, "God HE's an idiot)

Happy Third Trimester

I know it's morose and probably more than a little morbid to track a pregnancy that is no longer. I know it's incredibly sad to monitor the death of a dream in days and weeks and trimesters. I know it's not really healthy to think so much about what should have been. I know all these things, yet I can't help myself. Yesterday would have marked the beginning of the third trimester. But instead, Travis is two months gone. I can barely wrap my mind around it all.

It generally hurts less. Or maybe I'm so desensitized to the pain that it hurts the same but I just don't notice. It generally hurts like a bruise. You know it's there, but it doesn't really bother you until something brushes against it. So everything I feel is there, gently aching just beneath the surface until something reminds me of what should be. And even in the should be's there is conflict. In wishing for one, I dismiss the other. In wishing for Alex, Travis disappears. In wishing for Travis, Alex remains gone. It's a no-win dreamworld anymore.

I feel the need to address certain comments here...

~I did get my hair cut during my little hiatus a couple weeks back. Your kind comments are appreciated, since I've been snipping little bits here and there to "fix" the brown football helmet the "hairdresser" left for me to wear on my head. It's nice to know I haven't messed it up too badly.

~I welcome lurkers. Lurk away. While I write for myself...if it helps someone to read my ramblings, then I'm glad to have helped.

~I have two doctors. My OB is a high risk OB. And I have the head perinatologist. They are both with the Cleveland Clinic. I have no doubt that they are the best at their respective professions. I do believe that Dr. A's emails to me have been less than specific. And I will have a sit-down with the both of them to discuss why this happened and what the future holds. Like I told Dr. A, I am not going into another attempt on faith alone. There better be something to hang onto or I won't be able to do it.

~I'm surprised no one has recommended an HSG or hysteroscopy to actually look around in there.
ummm...I have no idea what these things are. I will consult Dr. Google and ask the actual doctors about them when I talk to them about my ever-growing list of topics.
Dr. Google tells me these are for polyps, adhesions, fibroids, septums, and abnormal bleeding. Got none of that. My problem is chronic inflammation of the uterine lining and the placenta, with anemia (possibly caused by the inflammation), which is indicative of infection but not determinative.

~I will wait to make any final decisions. I'm in not position to decide the color of my socks in the morning right now, let alone life altering decisions. Which explains the combination of black tennis shoes with brown pants and a brown striped shirt today. I don't want to f*** up a BIG decision like I've obviously f****d up my fashion sense. In all seriousness, it took me seven months to figure out what to do after Alex died. I'm on a faster track this time...but not so fast that I can possibly figure it all out in two months.

~Thank you to everyone who listens to me scream and yell and whine and complain. And thank you to anyone willing to join me in a tantrum. You are all the best. I know you have things going on in your own lives that keep you busy. I know that it takes a lot to read about my inner turmoil day in and day out. It really means a lot to me to know that you are willing to spare a thought for me...especially knowing that you don't have to...and that life is so much more comfortable if you don't. Thank you.

~Cups I can throw away! Why didn't I think of THAT? Thank you! Now the strike can officially begin!

~The house renovation preparation moves along...SLOWLY. I want my jacuzzi tub now!

~The pepper is yummy. I ate about a third of it and put the rest in the fridge. I plan to put it in my crockpot chicken for tomorrow's dinner.

So...Happy Third Trimester! I bet I have more complaints about the third trimester than most women. (sorry...morbid again...I just can't shake that)

Off to get some work done and try to distract myself from this crappy crappy day. I hope it doesn't rain. I would really like to go home and pick any blackberries that the birds haven't eaten.