Friday, April 30, 2010

Thank you Cynthia!

Miscellaneous Thoughts

It's Friday...time for a jumble of disconnected thoughts (seems to be all I have these days).

-My older child is obsessed with peeing in the great outdoors. It irritates me.

-I want to be a doctor. What other profession can you do virtually NOTHING, say, "Gee, I don't know," and still get paid THOUSANDS of dollars? I still love my doctor...but I can't help but wonder about this stuff.

-My insurance isn't too bad as far as dead baby ultrasounds go...only $38.

-We asked the bank to refinance in order to reduce our monthly house payment. They said no. We are seriously thinking there is a conspiracy going on. It would probably be good for the local bank to help Waste Management gain possession of our house at a rock-bottom price...so we can't help but wonder...

-I want a haircut but can't bring myself to do it because I DREAD the hairdresser's idle chit-chat. I wonder how many people burst into tears in the chair?

-Our friend, Lady Cynthia, sent us a deadbaby care package that included $10 wrapped around a wine cork...the closest thing she could get to sending us a bottle. We went to Heritage Wines and bought a wine called "Half & Half." Funny or sick?

-My friend MB sent us a lovely a tower of assorted sweet treats. The chocolate covered caramels with sea salt arrived yesterday (everything else arrived today), and you'll notice they didn't make it to picture time intact. Not sure I should thank her for the extra pounds I'll be having to work off. :o)

-We are starting to think we may have to re-name Myles. We recently realized his name may be a source of considerable confusion during the toddler "my/mine" phase...when he kept repeating "my's toy." Is it possible that he thinks everything belongs to him because the words are so phonetically close? My...Myles?

-When I'm 90 years old and have officially been deemed demented, I think I will really enjoy freaking people out by talking about my dead babies.

-If I just pretend it was all a bad dream, will I pay for it later? I always heard/believed that you can't deny grief or it will come back to bite you.

-And here is where reality and politics potentially collide...Seeing Little Bug on ultrasound and acknowledging him/her as a BABY/PERSON has really fucked me up. I'm just saying (Oklahoma...Florida...Louisiana...etc).

-The dog in the previous post went immediately to the APL. Did not even cross the threshold of home. Eight is more than enough.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Look who we found!

I guess I'm very sensitive to taking care of what is yours...because I was very upset to find this little dog running in the very busy road in front of our house...called it over and picked it right up even though it STUNK like POO!

Going quietly insane

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You know what gets me? I didn't even want to be pregnant.

There...I said it.

I didn't want it because I'd made peace with the way things were. I was finally in a GOOD place and I didn't want to risk...

well...

THIS.

So now there's all this guilt. Even though I know it was just my freaky biology that is to blame, I feel like it's my fault for not wanting it enough (because I know that's all it takes is to want a baby badly enough for everything to be all unicorns and rainbows).

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This morning my sweet Sam-a-lama told me it is "pretty embarassing when you kiss me in public," and I felt the earth shift. I laughed and kissed him anyway...and then I practically ran to the minivan-I-love-to-hate and had a very thorough cry.

The loss of Little Bug means more somehow because it is not that surprise ending we hoped we were getting where the universe miraculously regained some sort of balance. We don't get to ride off in the sunset with three children.

Life goes on filled with all the normal stuff...plus a boatload of heavy luggage. But when my big kid tells me he's embarassed, I feel a gaping hole where all the kisses from lost babies could have been. When Myles plays hard-to-get and refuses me a hug, I feel the joke of it (it IS adorable)...but I also feel an emptiness that I don't think I can explain. I push it down as far as it will go and TRY to stay in the moment because I think that's what they deserve...what we deserve. I need to do better for them. I didn't do better for Little Bug and now I regret it. I don't want to have regrets.

But it's all too much.

Yesterday, I visited the cemetery for the first time in a long time (I thought it might somehow bring me bad luck...HA!). A blue pinwheel for Alex and a purple pinwheel for Travis. Neither of my living boys got pinwheels...and neither one complained.

The silence was deafening.

And then the living among us went for ice cream.

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I want to say something eloquent about all of this. But what wants to come out is a string of profanities (I do try to filter them out before publishing...and I apologize if/when one slips through)...and OMG...and tears...and things I've already said...

I can't believe I have an original thought left in my head.

Today I walked to the local convenience store for a Diet Dr. Pepper and had this vision of myself (hair clearly un-styled, no makeup, Crocs on my feet) as the lady who lost three babies and then went crazy. The stuff of urban legend. And I laughed at the thought because who would have ever thought I would be urban legend for anything?!?!

I've said things I shouldn't have...some deserved...some probably not. I have more things I want to say...again...over and over and over and over until it's not so fucking horrible anymore.

Can someone tell me when that will be?!?!?

Maybe I should just be quiet for a while. I know I've said that before and my need for validation drove me back here. But there is none to be found anymore...and this is just making me even more desperate...

Besides which, every.single.thing other people say or do makes me want to scream and punch and kick and claw. Everyone is so kind...or so clueless...or so something that it just pisses me off. That crazy lady from the urban legend wants to just go insane and freak the fuck out at EVERYTHING.

(Steve and I have taken to saying "FUCK" (and other oh-so-lovely words)...a lot. We really need to stop because this morning I heard Sam mutter under his breath, "Now where the hell is my jacket?" Yeah. Parent of the Year material here.)

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And really, I know he's only seven...but is it really too much to ask that Sam stop asking me why I'm sad?!?! I mean...COME...ON!

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If I still believed in God, I'd beg...

Give me ONE TINY ITTY BITTY TEENSY WEENSY LITTLE mercy here...please?!?!

Maybe this is my punishment for not believing. Maybe I'll just be pulverized until I cry "uncle."

There ya go God-freaks...ammunition. No charge (I aim to please here at EIUC).

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Peace.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Welcome to the world Baby Coccinelle

I hope I'm not spoiling any surprises by posting...but I like to share good news...

Congratulations to Rosepetal and the entire family on the safe arrival of Baby Coccinelle!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On fairness and being fine

Today, April 27th, I managed to perform in four court cases without any tears...even when asked how my family is doing. Progress.

It hardly seems like any time passed between December 23rd and April 7th. And then today, I took the phone call from Dr. A's office asking me what days Steve needed FMLA. Shit, I was 19 weeks pregnant at this time just three weeks ago! I can't even really remember it. And then I go to bed and my mind wanders and it all comes flooding back...and I feel like I could die. Except I know I can't because there are three other people (I love more than life itself) who rely on me...and I would NEVER intentionally do ANYTHING that would make them sad or hurt. But still...

How am I supposed to do this? Nobody can tell me. I desperately want them to tell me...to take it out of my control again. It only seems fair. If the dead baby part of it was out of my control, then the healing part of it should be taken care of as well (call it simple courtesy).

But there are no real answers.

I have a brick-like urn filled with our baby's ashes...a baby I can't really remember but who takes up too much of my heart. A baby I'm not sure I want to remember.

I think Little Bug liked when I would sing along with certain songs on the radio. I think Little Bug liked when I ate certain foods. That's it. That's all I've got to hold onto. Half-stories added to the collection of what I'd like to believe was true.

PLEASE...somebody tell me how to live with this for the rest of my life?!?!

No...don't. It'll only make me want to scream at the unfairness of it all...

That's what I said to myself in the shower after I dopplered and realized I was alone again. I said, "It's not fair." Over and over again, I didn't yell, or cry, or throw a fit. I simply said, "It's not fair." Which, if you think about it, is laughable. Because, really, how could I POSSIBLY think life would be fair to us now? If ANYONE should know life isn't fair...

And yet that is what I said.

And when asked today, I said my family was "fine."

We are as far from fine as you can get.

And it's not fair.

Commenters

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A little more than two weeks after, I finally read the comments from "that day" (yes, I cried...hard).

Thank you to everyone who took the time.

One question though...what is LFCA???
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ah ha! got it! LFCA

It's been a while since I frequented certain websites...for a lot of reasons. Thanks to them for sticking with me even when I couldn't stick with them.
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Monday, April 26, 2010

Thank you Catherine!

The scarf is absolutely GORGEOUS (even if I did have to take a dozen different photos in order for it to not look like it's draped over a big fat blob)! Thank you SO much!


(I will post pictures of Sam and his geodes whenever we smash them open.)

Don't know what to say? Croak

Actual email exchange with the lady in the office next door to mine...

T: “rrrrrriiiiiiiiiibbit”

Me: ???

T: I don’t know what to say to you in my human voice right now but I wanted to say something so I’ve decided to be a frog “ribbit ribbit”

Me: You’re weird. Sweet…but weird.

T: *slimy green hugs*

The truth hurts (warning: graphic post)

7/12/07
I have been inspired by Niobe to verbalize some awful truths about myself. I have been thinking about it for over a year now...have tiptoed around it...but haven't really put it into words for anyone but my husband.

When Alex died, I was devastated. But looking back on it now, I can see that it was more shock and emptiness than it was grief over an actual child. I knew very little about him as a person so I didn't have personality characteristics to miss. Yes, there were memories of him...but they were all tied to the big P...pregnancy. There was no independent memories of him. I did not mourn HIM so much as I mourned the lost dreams I had FOR him. I remember the doctor's visit, the ride to my parent's house, the ride to the hospital and all the little steps toward letting go of those dreams. And with each step, I didn't mourn for Alex as much (if at all) as I mourned for me and Steve and Sam.

I also suffered from extreme shock. Things like stillbirth don't happen to people like me. I lost my innocence. I lost my ability to look at my life as fully beautiful. I had lived a charmed life up until that moment. Sure, bad things happened around me and I felt sadness. But it was outside of my existence and I was always able to move on. Bad things didn't happen TO me. This ugliness had pounced on me when I least expected it and I was...in a word...flattened.

But the truth is, I was repulsed by the idea that I had carried a dead baby around inside me. When Alex was first born I looked over to see them lifting his body into the bassinet, but I couldn't really see him because I didn't have my glasses on. I only saw a blurry image...his arms limp and hanging out to his sides, his legs limp with one hanging loosely over the other, and all his dark hair. When I did have an opportunity, I couldn't even look at him. I sent him away from the room for HOURS while I slept. He was not my baby...not my son. He was nothing more than a dead body to me. And I couldn't look at him.

After the man from the coroner's office came to speak to us at 3 in the morning and after I ate the best tasting turkey sandwich I had ever had in my life...only then did I allow my curiosity to get the better of me and ask to see my son's dead body. I slept and I ate a sandwich! And I enjoyed the sandwich! What kind of monster am I? Shouldn't I FEEL something other than these things?

The next morning I did ask to see Alex again. I don't know why. It felt like something I was supposed to do (And I've always been one to do what is expected of me). I made sure to keep him tightly wrapped so I didn't have to see what death had done to his body. Not because it made me sad, but because it made me sick to my stomach. Before I had them take him away, I kissed him on the cheek. To this day, I wish I hadn't. It was nothing more than a cold dead body. It was a million years from the warmth of the squirming bundle I had imagined so many times during my pregnancy.

And with Travis...
It still seems odd to say his name. In fact, I make efforts not to say his name outside of this blog because I don't FEEL anything for Travis. He didn't have a name. He didn't have an identity. We had just found out he was a boy. We gave him a name because we felt like we had to...like we should (and again, schoolgirl guilt dictated my actions).

Worse than that, most of what I do feel when I think of Travis is selfish. Embarrassment, anger, shame, horror, stupidity. There is no shock. There is just how "this" affected me and Steve and Sam. I have, at times, wished Travis never existed. I look at the pictures we took of him (and us) in the hospital and I marvel at how disconnected I look...at how disconnected I still feel. I have to really LOOK at his pictures to even conjure up a hint of recognition. This was my child? The thought repulses me to some degree.

When I think of my "grief" I think of it as being two years old. I am a veteran and I am "past" much of the hard stuff. I don't think of the "grief" as being refreshed just one year ago today. I just don't. I must admit that I often forget about last year altogether. And this makes me think even more that the "grief" I felt wasn't at all about either of my babies...but was entirely about me and how I had to shift my view of my reality. I am not sad like my friend who lost her mother. I do not miss them. How could I? They were never even born! I do occasionally find myself thinking about what Alex would look like now...comparing what might have been to reality. But I find that to be more about the three of us...me, Steve and Sam. How would WE be different?

I sadly admit that I discount my babies every day. And there is shame in that because I feel as though I'm a fraud...and have been a fraud...since the day we couldn't find Alex's heartbeat.

4/26/10
Three years that post set there in draft form. Three years and the only reason I post it now is because there is so much more horror to add. There won't ever be a pencil portrait of my last baby. Not even an awful hospital Polaroid of its dead body. And after it was over, I ate cottage cheese and vegetable soup...and I keep eating cottage cheese and vegetable soup now as if that will do something...I'm not sure what.

We don't even know if it was a boy or a girl, but we have it cremated and sitting on top of our electric fireplace in our living room. How fucking ridiculous is this?!?!

And I'll be honest, I don't even know if what I feel is sadness because the baby is dead or sadness because I failed again. Every life is precious...blah, blah, blah. But what was it? In the end, it was no more than another tiny dead body inside my belly...a dead body that didn't have the courtesy to exit the premises when it was done watching me jump through meaningless hoops.

Yes, there was hope and love and some measure of peace. And now there is none of that and I still feel death. And who will dare tell me that I shouldn't worry now? Who will be bold enough to suggest I am not cursed...that I have paid my dues...that there is nothing more to fear? Who in their right mind can say that I even have a chance at moving on from this place?

And I wonder...how do I even know? How do I know I won't walk out in front of a bus? or drink myself into oblivian? How do I know I'm strong enough THIS time? I've not done this before. Something similar, maybe....but maybe THIS is the last straw.

And what if I simply fall asleep and never wake up?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

FYI

Dana Klein at Portraits by Dana did the portraits of my boys from (awful) hospital photos.

One of those days

Yesterday, the bleeding seemed to have stopped.

Didn't sleep well...even with the Ambien.

Had a charlie horse/blood clot in my calf sometime last night and momentarily forgot (have ONLY ever had a charlie horse while pregnant).

Woke up feeling cheated...and sad...always so fucking sad.

Dealt with a "want go car" screaming fit from the two-year-old because he refused to put his diaper on and therefore could not go. At one point, actually said, "we don't always get what we want, kiddo."

The bleeding started again during doughnuts and coffee.

Steve stored the maternity clothes in a tub in the basement for me because I couldn't face them (took two weeks to get them washed for said storage). I actually asked him to douse them in gasoline and light them on fire, but he refused.

William, the cartoon pig on NickJr, says, "If your mom is having a baby and she asks you whether you want a brother or sister, that does not mean you're really going to get the kind you ask for."

Sundays are just going to suck for a long long long time.

As if it were meant to be

I actually haven't had a wallet in a long time. I've been walking around with a little zippered change purse and a badge/credit card holder (I have an official badge as an assistant prosecutor...which sounds cooler than it is). But when I waw this wallet yesterday, I HAD to have it...


Peace and Love

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Because she's awesome like that

Thanks Kathy...I love it and I love you.

Goodbye Cass

An "internet friend," Cass, died unexpectedly yesterday. She was 31 years old...and eight weeks pregnant.

She was an amazing woman and I will miss her very much.

All my love goes out to Greg and their furbabies.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Monday, April 19, 2010

Later tater

I think I just need to be quiet for a while.

Peace.

Today's moment of levity

Brought to you directly from recess with Sam...
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"We were playing toilet tag and ya know what? There were two people who were cheating."
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Sam: "Now, mom, don't tell anyone in my class, ok? But I think Nate LIKES Naya."

Me: "Oh really, how do you know that?"

Sam: "Because Naya told me so."

Me: "And does Naya like Nate back?"

Sam: "(laughing) No, I think she thinks it's pretty annoying."
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More lovely

There exists such kindness all around us...







(clickable)

Let the jealousy and self-loathing begin

I was here and here. I was in that place where it felt weird, but I could honestly say it was just another of my scars...no longer a gaping wound.

And, with everything in my being, I want to be back there again.

A friend nailed it on the head when she said, "You know, you've been here before and probably expect yourself to be an expert at this grieving business, but having been there before doesn't make it easier or quicker, does it? Maybe it makes it harder to wait for the "good" days you know will eventually come?"

Honestly, it IS harder because I can't stop thinking...WHAT was I thinking? But if I'm honest, I have to admit that I did it to myself. I walked into oncoming traffic with my eyes wide open and just my crossed fingers to protect me. I didn't realistically consider how I would handle it if the baby actually died. I foolishly believed it couldn't happen...not to us...not AGAIN. I'd paid my dues and I was all set for balance to be restored. Because, really, what were the odds?

HA! HA! HA! HAHAHAHAHA!

And now here I am...jealous of everyone. Naive pregnant women. Women who've suffered loss but learned to live with it. Women who've just suffered their first loss even (how sick is that?).

THREE! Can you fucking believe it?!?!

I won't ask what I did to deserve this...because nobody deserves any of this. But I can't help but ask what I did so differenly than other women that I should have to bury three children? What is it about ME that makes the oh-so-natural process of pregnancy and chidlbirth such a nightmare?

In the end, I guess it doesn't really matter...no answers will bring peace...

They asked if we wanted genetic testing on "the baby." We said no. What's the point?

So I wear high heels and contemplate new hairstyles and slash away at my husband who is just doing the best he can to make it through another of my failures. I consider "flipping out" and quitting my job...maybe making chocolate chip cookies...maybe getting on an airplane and just going (I don't care where)...or breaking all the dishes in my kitchen. The possibilities are endless.

The course of antibiotics is over. A week. Time to get back to work. The phone calls come and I can't answer, for fear of bursting into tears on an unsuspecting client.

After a week, I fit back in my regular pants...as if nothing ever happened. As if it was all a dream.

When I knew Little Bug was dead, this is what I wanted...to just get back to my life.

Here I am.

Go me.

Lovely

I just stumbled on this this morning...

(clickable)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Just look up

I was feeling particularly sorry for myself when I heard the rumble of the lawn tractor. I looked out my window to see this...(I think I have a similar photo of Sam when he was about the same age.)

Too much, too soon

Here comes one of those excessively whiney posts I hate to write...but I have to get it out somewhere or my head may explode (though, I'm in a much better place this morning after a good ambien-induced dreamless sleep than I was yesterday). I guess it's my own fault for having forgotten that "normal" days are no longer possible. I'd forgotten that this grief monster has the ability to ruin even a simple trip to buy shoes and I have to readjust my thinking to a "new normal."

My goals were small...shoe shopping to buy baseball shoes for Sam...pick up sushi at the grocery store...come home and eat the sushi with my mom (who was supplying wine)...ambien for dessert. I had sucked up my pride the night before and emailed Dr. A. to call in a prescription for me. Right there, I should have known things weren't destined to go well...but I had high hopes.

It started when we swung through the pharmacy drive-thru and were informed that the insurance was "down." We could check back later, but there were no guarantees. This, I think, resulted in the first chink in my armor for the day. No worries...stay positive...I would just compensate with extra wine if necessary. Not what I had planned, but I would make the best of it.

We had a "nice" lunch at McDonalds (because, really, how "nice" can a McDonalds lunch be?). We drove to Erie, PA for our shopping. First stop, Dick's Sporting Goods. We decided to play man-to-man defense...Steve took Myles and I took Sam. Sam and I had about ten minutes of peaceful shoe shopping before a little two-year-old bundle of energy came round the corner and we heard an exasperated Steve say, "Look, there's Mommy and Sam." Peaceful shoe shopping was done. I asked Steve to try to restrain the munchkin and was told, in no uncertain terms, that he had it under control and I should mind my own damn business. Myles then started opening boxes and shredding tissue paper, eliciting a smart ass comment from me that probably wouldn't have lit any fuse on any other "normal" day. Screaming ensued. Myles was removed from the store and screamed it out in the van. No shoes were bought. And I felt a definite second chink in my armor. But the plan was to continue on to DSW to see if they had any shoes (as well as shoes for Steve...who has been walking around with holes in his shoes for months now). Not what I had planned, but I would make the best of it.

But then we got to DSW and it all ran completely off the rails. Myles completely lost his mind. He wouldn't walk across the parking lot while holding hands...and screamed, cried, and threw himself on the ground when either Steve or I tried to carry him. Remember, we were there for Steve and Sam. Of course I COULD buy shoes, but I didn't need to. So logic dictates I would be the one in charge of the screaming banshee. Just inside the door, I told Steve to go find shoes and I would handle it. For some inexplicable reason, he refused. He said he would take care of Myles...that he couldn't shop with "all this going on." Chink. I told him, in not-so-nice terms that we were there for HIM and that he needed to go find some shoes. He and Sam walked away...Myles threw himself on the ground.

At this point, I actually contemplated leaving him there. My boobs are full and sore, my back hurts, and I still feel crampy...so I don't particularly relish the idea of picking up a punching and kicking ball of anger. But, resigning myself to my standard method of parenting regardless of physical pain, I picked him up and started browsing the sandals. I will NOT allow my children to dictate where and when I go. He could scream and kick, but he was NOT going to ruin the trip. He was SO mad...and SO loud. I could feel the eyes on me, but I wasn't embarassed. This is parenting a two-year-old sometimes. It ain't pretty, but it beats letting him win and reinforce the idea that he can pitch a fit to get what he wants. At least, that's MY philosophy.

I turned around and there was Steve, who grabbed Myles from me and proceeded toward the door. He said something about me browsing the sandals...and I said, "But I don't even want to be here, YOU need shoes...if you don't go buy some fucking shoes, I'm going to punch you in your damned face."

Yeah.

No more making the best of it. No more pretending today could even possibly BE a normal day. I told Steve to take me home. I called my mom and told her there would be no sushi and I would really appreciate it if she didn't visit (even with wine, I didn't think it could possibly go well).

At some point, Steve decided then would be a good time to call the funeral home director and arrange to swing by to pick up the dead baby's ashes...right then...and my armor completely fell apart. We drove home with the silence punctuated by my sobs.


Thankfully, the pharmacy had corrected their insurance issue and my ambien prescription was ready.

We got home and I went to bed and sobbed the kind of sob I generally don't allow myself when the kids are around. But I didn't take the ambien.

And then something hit me. I don't have to. I don't have to be this pathetic. I don't have to wait for my husband or my children to understand. I don't have to wait for anyone to participate in a normal day...I can just make it happen for myself...at least some things are still under my control.

So I ran away. I put my coat and shoes on, grabbed my purse, and ran away.

I spent the next four hours wandering. Some places I went with purpose. Some places I just sort of landed. But I went without stress, without worry, and without that damned deadbaby stamp on my forehead. I could wander the baby aisles and just feel sad without someone asking me if I was OK every three seconds. Nobody knew three of my babies were dead. Nobody knew my ego was bruised and battered to the point I felt useless (and was certain my husband felt the same). Nobody knew that I was desperate to find ME somewhere again.

So I did my CVS deal for toilet paper, paper towels, and kleenex...drove to the nearest shopping town with the radio too loud (discovered the volume goes up to #38)...went to Burlington Coat Factory and wandered the baby aisle and imagined another life...almost bought a blouse and a purse (but the line was too long and I was too impatient)...went to Michaels and bought some deep dark blue yarn to make myself a comfort shawl...went to Barnes & Noble and laughed at the guided journals to life happiness...went to Walmart and browsed the baby section...bought the Black Eyed Peas CD...played it too loud as I drove to my parent's house to pick up a stained glass piece mom made for Monday night's APL fundraiser (she graciously gave me her bottle of wine)...went to Taco Bell and got something disgusting to eat...went home...took an ambien and fell asleep.

Everyone I know keeps saying, "You will make it through this...because you have to." But you know what? I don't have to. And that is what's so scary. It would be so easy. And at this point, where normal isn't possible, easy is looking pretty fucking good.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Nowhere to go but up

When you're at the bottom of a pit, the best thing you can do is look upward toward the sky. Hopefully, there's sunshine up there and you don't get rain up your nose, right?

So I've been contemplating what to do with this blog. How many rounds of woe-is-me can I really write about? I think even I have reached my limit.

I've reviewed the blogs I like to READ...and they all seem to have something in common...they are all insanely positive. How's that for an unexpected surprise, huh? They all highlight small bits of life (often in photos) and make me slow down and take it in...minute by minute.

I think I'm going to give it a try here...if for nothing else than to try to focus my brain on something/anything good in every single day. Sure, I'm sure there will still be a lot of retread grief posts...it's my way of working through the grieving process. But maybe I won't want to slit my wrists if I just TRY to balance it with something positive.

Right now I'm off to arrange a time to pick up my baby's ashes...

Dear hospital:

I would gladly keep my appointment scheduled for this coming week...if I only had a reason.

May I make a suggestion? Perhaps automated appointment reminders aren't the best idea? Or maybe just have a real person go through them before they're shipped out...just to check and see if anyone has died or otherwise no longer needs a scheduled appointment?

(I'm rather sad to see that we had this go 'round a few years ago and you still haven't changed.)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dear Universe...very funny!

If the baby had survived, I'd have been able to feed it.

Good to know.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

One week

Today was, by far, the hardest day so far. A week ago I knew. I just knew. And now here we are with seven-year-old life slowly creeping back in...school runs (complete with a lady with a little baby standing at the door...making me silently scream inside my head), baseball practice, cub scouts. And I don't want to do any of it.

I want to sit...and cry...and then stare at a blank wall...and then cry some more. Oh, I have spurts of energy where I do a load of laundry or mop the floor or straighten things up...but it all takes so much energy. I still can't go up and down our stairs without feeling winded. The walk across the street from the car to the school just about wore me out.

Then there's the belly. There aren't big enough clothes to sufficiently hide the 19week-lost-pregnancy bulge (and it really is too warm to wear my winter coat). It mocks me...all big and round as if there is still life there (and can we talk about how to stop the phantom kicks?). What a giant cruel joke.

Just the IDEA of going to work next week makes me want to slip into the tub and drown myself.

I'm thinking that tomorrow I might buy some pansies and plant them at the cemetery. I haven't been there in so long (I thought it might be bad luck...HA!). But I'm not sure I can even accomplish that.

And I keep thinking about the blog exchange with the anonymous commenter a couple weeks ago. Why did I do this to myself?!?!?! Hope?!?!?! What the...?!?!?! I'm such a fool.

The in-between time

This time in-between the horrible and the getting-back-to-life...well...it sucks. It's better, clearly, than dealing with the actual physical loss of a pregnancy/baby (the hospital memories from this one will haunt me for a very long time). No, it's the time in-between...when you're not strong enough to go back to your life...but you no longer have a direction or a place to be. Adrift, I guess, is a good word to describe it, though I'm sure the experts would call it a "necessary grieving period," or something excessively clinical.

Whatever.

You know what you actually do during these days?

You wake up to antibiotics and painkillers...
rush your kids out the door wearing dirty pants...
feed them chocolate donuts in the car...
drop them at school and daycare...
go to the funeral home and sign paperwork to have your baby cremated...
hear the funeral director trip over the word "baby" and opt for the awkward safety of "fetus"...
see the tiny marble urn they will use to bury the ashes in...
rush out of the funeral home without saying thank you in order to avoid having yet another person see you cry...
drive to the lake and walk along the beach, freezing your ears off, and obsessively looking to collect seven rocks that look similar (because if you can't create the family of your dreams, at least you can find a family of seven rocks, right?)...
go home and eat potato chips...
take more painkillers...
fold towels...
go out to the garden and chop the heads off every pretty flower you can find (to created the ugliest spring bouquet ever...to stick in a vase in your living room)...
change your mind about the marble urn...
ask your husband to call the funeral director and ask him if you can sit your dead baby's ashes on your nightstand for a while...
look at the handprints of your dead baby...
cry because nothing in the memory box provided by the kind people at the hospital is relevant to the end of your baby's brief life...
surf the internet incessantly looking for something...ANYTHING...that you can put in that damn memory box that will mean something...
pack up pads, pain killers and tissues in your purse...
go pick up your kids at school and daycare...
take them to Toys R Us and buy them toys...just because they're alive and you want to...
return a baby blanket you had your husband buy when you foolishly thought you would get to hold your dead baby and take pretty pictures before you laid them to rest with it in a pretty little coffin...
lose your appetite...
avoid a restaurant you visited just a week or two ago...BECAUSE you visited it a week or two ago and you can't handle the memories...
go to another restaurant and let your children eat crap for dinner...
take more painkillers...
come home and attempt to help your seven-year-old with homework that makes you want to inflict serious pain on his teacher...
note that it took exactly two days for your gluten sensitivity to return...
drink...
blog...
take more antibiotics...
try to watch all the shows you have saved on your DVR, because you're switching to cable in the morning...
drink some more...
hope to pass out into at least two or three blissful hours of dreamless sleep before the nightmares come.

Yeah...fun times.

At least there are pretty flowers...and beach rocks...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

This time is different

I fear I may not make it this time.

There are the regular doubts and regrets, of course...

I missed a Lovenox injection.
I ate too much fast food.
I didn't take my prenatals faithfully.
I didn't exercise enough.
I stressed too much.
I worried about the financial burden another child would put on us.

But there things about this that make Alex and Travis' stillbirths seem like the good 'ole days. Most significant, I think, is that this is the way it all ends. It is over. There will never be the hope and promise of another baby in our home.

Someone once told me, when I was considering the idea of another child (who would turn out be Alex), "You will just know when your family is complete." In that moment, it was as simple as that...I knew our family wasn't complete and the decision was made.

The utter shit of it is...I still know our family isn't complete. The only difference is, in this moment, I know our family will never be complete.

It's not that there are already three missing children.

I know that our family dynamic would be very different if any one of those pregnancies had turned out differently. And I'm as ok with that as I can be. Though there are still raw moments, I have mostly made peace with all of that by looking at the beautiful faces of our two amazing boys.

No...it's that it is just over. There is no more hope.

We know we have been beaten and we dare not challenge the fates one more time. We simply don't have the strength to see hope crushed again...to see the shining smiles of our loved ones disappear into sympathetic head tilts and averted eyes. But more importantly, it is time to admit that I clearly don't have the physical ability to create the complete family of our dreams. I can not fulfill my husband's wish to have another child...or my sons' wishes to be big brothers...or my own wish to watch another baby grow (maybe even a girl).

And so it ends.

It's not the raw shock of losing Alex. It's not the resignation of losing Travis. It's not the horror of losing Little Bug. It's the pain of forever shutting the door on the hope that we will feel complete...that we will BE complete.

And that hurts far beyond what I could have ever imagined.

Email is great

I think the email to Sam's teacher can only be topped by the email to Dr. A...who so kindly visited me in the hospital on his time off, called me personally (though I ducked his call at the time), and left a voicemail with his personal cell phone number just in case I "want to talk"...
Dr. A~

Thank you for the phone call. I hope you understand that I just can't talk right now. Maybe in a few days...though I'm not entirely sure what there is to say anymore.

Thank you for everything.

~Catherine
And his response...
I know, Catherine--- I, too, don't know what to say.
Please call me if you need to talk.
Yours,
Ben

Guess that about sums it up.

I wonder...

I feel sick to my stomach. Was it the three margaritas I had last night that allowed me two full hours of uninterrupted dreamless sleep? Or was it the email I just had to send to Samuel's teacher?

Mrs. G.:

I am emailing because I find it's easier (for a lot of reasons)...I hope this is ok. This is very personal information, but I want to convey it so that maybe I can do the responsible parent thing and keep Samuel from falling through the cracks that threaten to swallow me up personally.

First, a little background. Generally, I would just vaguely allude to a "family emergency." But in this case, I think the details may be somewhat important. In May of 2005, just a couple weeks before Sam's third birthday, his brother was stillborn at 35 weeks. In May of 2006, just a couple weeks before Sam's fourth birthday, another brother was stillborn at 20 weeks. Just this past week/end, I lost another much-anticipated pregnancy at 19 weeks (Sam's birthday is more than a month away this time...thank goodness). Samuel and his two-year-old brother spent four days, while I was in the hospital, with their grandparents. We only just returned home Sunday night and spent Monday together as a way to reassure them that everything was ok. Sam tells me he is ready to go back to school (though I must confess to a small Toys R Us bribe in order to get him to agree), so we are sending him to school today (Tuesday). He may be ready...he may not...I simply can not tell.

Sam has dealt with a lot of loss in his short life and, as a result, he is wiser than a lot of people five times his age. But still...I know from our experiences that this initial grief period can be rough on everyone in the family. I would like to ask you to please keep an eye on him and let us know if there is any significant backsliding in his academic performance or his behavior during class. He has worked very hard during this school year to get himself under control and be a "good citizen." As you would expect, he doesn't always know an appropriate way to express his grief and he may need a little extra attention or guidance to stay on track. Please watch out for my little guy while he is there at school. I would hate very much if all of this family stress were to go unaddressed and silently undermine all of his hard work.

I am only a phone call and ten minute drive away at any time during the school day. My number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. And of course, my email is xxxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxx.xxx.

Thank you so much, Mrs. G. I appreciate everything you have already done for Samuel this year already. I hate to ask for special attention, but we have learned to hope for the best while anticipating the worst. I am hoping for the best here...but I still worry.


Yeah, I'm oversharing and hoping it doesn't result in any backlash against my kid.

Who knows what the right thing is to do in these situations? Unfortunately, the experts don't write books about this stuff. Maybe I will write that book. Though not an expert, I clearly have insight that most people don't. This crap has gotta be worth something.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

4-11-10

There are some stories that are too awful to speak out loud. There are stories so horrifying that even the characters in the starring roles cannot fathom the depths of the hell from which they come. These are the stories we bury deep within ourselves so that we may spare loved ones and strangers alike from the nightmares we know will come in the midnight hour. These are the stories that we quietly weave into the fabric of our being...maybe making us seem a little different or making us just a little bit sad to outsiders. These are the stories that ultimately define who we are.

And so goes the story of our Little Bug.

There are a few simple things that we will share.

First...

We have some amazing friends and family. We love you and we hope that we show you a fraction of the thanks and appreciation you deserve. We are so so so lucky to have you in our lives. Thank you for hoping with us during the last 19 weeks...for risking the heartbreak. Thank you for sharing your distractions with us when our world shattered into a million bits again and again and again.

Thank you, most of all, for loving us always.

Second...

We will never know "why" or "what happened"...so please do not ask.

Third...

We know there are the usual grief markers we will have to pass in the coming weeks. We also know how incredibly lucky we are...how much is good in our lives...please do not think we have lost sight of that. If anything can heal a soul, it is the warmth of a ratty old sweatshirt, or the comforts of home, or the endless chatter of a 7-year-old about the magic of Ben 10 Alien Force, or the monster voices of a two-year-old with a contagious giggle. Please do not worry about us. We will be ok. Just be patient.

Fourth...

I do not believe there is a God. I am sure I will lose friends (and possibly the love of family members) because of this. I do not care. I also will not justify it. The hell I have just witnessed for the last four days leads me to this one undeniable conclusion.

I won't challenge those who dare to convince me otherwise. I also won't try to convince them that I am right. Because I have been to that place...where most people can't even imagine in their worst nightmares...where nothing can ever be set "right" again and you know it is pointless to try. In that place, there is no fluffy warm cloud on which everything is ok. No fluffy warm sentiment that makes it all right. Only harsh, cold realities that people have to deal with in the here and now...with no right or wrong...and certainly no promises for a tomorrow.

The only fluffy warm sentiment comes from the amazing capacity of people to care for one another...to make life a little easier in big and small ways...to perform acts of kindness that leave indelible marks on the lives of others. THAT is where hope lives for me.

Fifth...

Given the above, anger directed at God on our behalf is wasted energy. And while Steve and I both appreciate that people love us enough to be inspired to that level of emotion, we do not want the legacy of our Little Bug to be one of anger. Before it all went to shit, Little Bug was a source of much love and hope...and peace...for us. We have to believe that that remains somewhere though it may temporarily be lost in the bleeding wounds of fresh grief. If nothing else, please do this one thing...let Little Bug's legacy be one of love and hope and peace.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

No mercy here

Because I am apparently incapable of doing ANYTHING right...I have been here for two freaking days with NO progress induced. A discussion of "options" is forthcoming according to nurse Jessica.

Fantastic!

And an honest note to Baby #5 (though probably not entirely deserved)...you didn't stick around...you died...so get the fuck out and let me go back to my life, ok? This isn't your space anymore...so quit invading it and just leave.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Goodbye Little Bug

"Unfortunately, honey, the baby is no longer alive.". -Ultrasound doctor

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

More than me

I try to tell myself I am other things, besides pregnant. Mom. Wife. Attorney. Friend. Volunteer.

I tell myself I will still be those things if/when this pregnancy ends. I have a rich life...filled with love and happiness and...life. It doesn't all rest on the outcome of this biological function called gestation. What will be, will be...and I will still be me.

But I can't quite get there.

IT is always there.

Mom...how will I tell the boys?
Wife...how will Steve cope...again?
Attorney...you want me to concentrate on this when there is so much else that is important?
Friend...I am incapable of being a good friend right now.
Volunteer...I'm TRYING...but I just can't concentrate on what you need from me.

Always...just...pregnant.

Always...just...preparing for the end.

The fear and anxiety have kicked in during the last two days. No surprise there. Springtime sunshine. Holiday weekend. 19 weeks. Ultrasound on Thursday morning. Expectations that it all ought to crash down around my ears within the next week or so. And if, by chance, it survives past this point...there is always May to slog through.

Tears swirl the letters on the screen and my hands shake as I type this...certain it is already over. I was certain yesterday too...but the doppler proved me wrong (I need to start carrying that thing in my purse).

I am not sure I can do this.

I know I've done it once before.

But I'm still not sure I can do this.