Tuesday, August 30, 2005

In the blink of an eye

I'm just sitting here marveling at how fast life changes. I'm amazed we don't all have whiplash, as a matter of fact. Here one minute and gone the next - isn't that the way these days? Or is it just me?

I remember a professor I had in University once telling us that he didn't mind getting older, he just hated having breakfast every 10 minutes. I chuckled at the time. I got the joke, theoretically, but I was 22 and couldn't possibly really understand. It's only now that I can slap my forehead and say, 'oooohhhhh NOW I get it.' Because now I do. Life is racing by at an alarming rate.

It's kind of like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when the horrible Nazi guy melts before our eyes after the Ark of the Covenant is opened.

Yes, it feels THAT fast.

I remember being in this very room looking out across the street at a gaggle of moms and tots sitting on the grass in a tiny wisp of maple tree shade. One mom had just had her first baby and I could tell how happy she was to be a part of this exclusive little club. It was a few months before I'd have my first miscarriage - a few months before I'd know just how exclusive and elusive that club actually is.

Now tonight when I look out the same window I see a dark, rain soaked street. It's empty and an uneasy change is hanging in the damp air. The maple tree is a little bigger but there are no moms around to take refuge under its branches. One has cleared out her house in preparation for a move to another neighbourhood; and the other, that once happy new mom who hasn't been seen in an alarming number of days, is dying.

Two years have passed in the blink of an eye. Three of my children have passed with it.

In two years this street has lost three babies and will soon lose two mothers.

It feels like yesterday that I had the same hope I'm sure the dying mother had when she sat in the shade of the maple tree with her new baby. And now? Well, now we're dealing with things we never dreamed would come our way so fast.

My head is spinning with it. I can't even begin imagine what must be going on in hers.

God help us.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Still a pretty long list...

I only knocked off a few items, but it's Monday. You just can't expect much from a Monday.

Here's what I managed:

1. Made the bed
2. Finished the laundry (okay so that last load is sitting unfolded in the dryer, but close enough)
3. Planned the week's meals
4. Bought mums for the deck
5. Went grocery shopping (which is actually where I bought the mums)
6. Stood in line behind a beautiful baby boy while waiting to check out (it was almost 9:00pm so apparently it doesn't matter when I go) and wondered what it would feel like to hold and cuddle Thomas
7. Tried to hack off the towel bar in the powder room (because the plan is to replace the ugly builder's fixtures with the pretty brushed metal ones we bought months ago) but couldn't budge them
8. Puzzled over the incredible strength of the super glue the builders used and stewed about the dents and scratches in the wall around the towel bar from said hacking attempt
9. FINALLY finalized a way to get the book drive books to the northern Native communities that need them.

I guess that's a pretty good day's work for a Monday.

Well, except for the towel bar fiasco. But tomorrow is, after all, another day.

Unsettling dreams and a big, long list

For two nights in a row now I've had unsettling dreams. I don't remember them, but I know they're still in there, lurking in the back of my head like thieves in the night waiting to steal my fragile peace.

Stupid dreams.

As a result, today I kind of feel unsettled. I'm sort of at loose ends - not sure what to do with myself. There's lots to BE done, I just don't know where to begin.

For instance:

- finish the laundry
- plan the week's meals
- go grocery shopping
- drink wine (since AF arrived this morning)
- empty and re-load the dishwaher
- make the bed
- return Mom and Dad's step ladder (shoot, we should have done this last night!)
- clean the basement
- finishing cleaning and sorting out the spare room
- organize the garage sale OR find a charity to take all our bits and pieces
- weed the front garden
- buy fall mums for the back deck and replace dead herbs
- Plant the shrub Auntie Margo gave us

Ugh. Yes, there's lots to do, that's for sure. In fact I need to add subcategories to some of these. But I won't. The items that need their own subcategories aren't going to get done today anyway so there's just no point.

Maybe I'll just start with making the bed and go from there.

I'll be back later with an update...

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Sleep, prayer and other elusive things

I think you know you've had an emotionally draining week when you finally rest your head on a Friday night, are instantly joined by your cat who proceeds to drool all over herself, your arm and your pillow; and instead of freaking out and getting up to wash your arm and change your pillowcase, you mutter a quiet expletive and nod off to sleep.

I guess it's because there was comfort in being sandwiched between my beloved and Lucy, even though one was snoring and the other drooling.

Oddly enough, when I woke up in the middle of the night I also found comfort in prayer. My prayers are still kind of confused and anguished since I'm still in the process of redefining my relationship with God (we're perfect candidates for couples counseling at the moment) but in that foggy, half awake, dreamy state I managed to put a few coherent thoughts together and shoot them up to heaven before falling back to sleep.

I really hope he was listening. I've been seriously doubting that lately. I know that when you pray for something and you don't get it, theoretically that means that God heard you but had other plans. That makes perfect sense, of course, but unfortunately it's much easier to feel abandoned and neglected instead.

I'm trying to get over that. I'm trying to remember all the prayers that DID get answered. And there are a lot of them. I'm married to one of them, for instance.

But it's still so hard to know that my prayers couldn't save my son. And five months later they couldn't save someone else's either. That's a bitter pill to swallow.

I know people have to die and I know some lives are only meant to be brief, but I still think it's unreasonably cruel to take a baby who is so loved and so wanted just hours after he takes his first breath. I don't believe God is cruel though, and that's why I'm so utterly confused by this. How can a benign, loving entity exact so much cruelty? It doesn't make any sense at all.

Clearly I'm missing something.

I know I should probably go talk to my Priest, but I'm kind of embarrassed by my current faith crisis. I've never had one before and I feel weak and ashamed that I do now. I can't bear the thought of going in and telling him that I've been mad at God for almost 6 months. I'm sure he'd understand and I'm sure he's heard that many times before (I can't be the only person to be shaken by life's cruelty) but I just don't have the courage to do it right now.

I realize the alternative is to stay mired in this confusing spiritual bog, but I've had to use my strength and courage for other things since Thomas died and I'm all tapped out.

One day, if God and I can't sort this on our own, I guess I will take us into couples counseling. But until then I'll just continue to hope that my middle of the night prayers will be answered and that one day I'll have faith in them again.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Well it WAS funny

I was poking through a brochure I picked up yesterday while we were at the cemetery and something kind of funny caught my eye. The brochure is put out by the Bereaved Families of Ontario and under the heading What is the infant loss program? they explain what the organization is all about. Apparently they are "an association of families who have lost a child through death."

Forgive me for finding this kind of funny and forgive me for asking, but exactly what other way do you lose a child? Why couldn't they have just come out and said, "We are an organization of families who had children that died."

I didn't lose Thomas. I know exactly where he is. In fact, he's the easiest child I know to keep track of.

Pardon my morbid humour, but I hate pussy-footing around death. Saying you've lost someone doesn't make never seeing that person again any easier. It's not like you're going to find that person again - at least not in this life.

I know I'm a huge hypocrite because I'm SURE somewhere in this blog I've talking about losing my son. And I'm almost certain I'll do it again, but for some reason I just find that an annoying thing to say today. I started off thinking it was funny and now I'm just irritated.

Welcome to my brain. Don't mind the mess, I haven't cleaned in ages.

Adding Peanut

We had hard decisions to make yesterday. Not nearly as difficult as the decision we had to make after Thomas was born of course, but difficult nonetheless. I wanted the wording to be perfect - I wanted everything as perfect as I could possibly make it for my little boy. Thomas' stone will last, so the literature says, for a minimum of 500 years and I want people 500 years from now to know how special that baby was to us and to our world. Unfortunately there's only a limited amount of space allowed and so choosing those words carefully is critical.

The thing is, my heart is so full of love for him that it felt close to impossible to decide just what to say in the few words we were able to have. I need volumes, not one 24" stone. It's just not enough space to say what an impact he had on my life, how blessed I was to know him for those 9 beautiful months and how much my heart aches without him. I feel like I need to stand on his grave night and day so that I can tell passersby all about my little Peanut because a stone just won't do him justice, no matter how hard we try.

But of course, I can't stand in the cemetery on his grave for the rest of my life. I have a life outside the gates of the beautiful green place where my baby lies. He will be with me in my heart for my entire life, but what I saw and touched, sweet little thing that he was, is gone. So instead I carry him with me, just like I did for 9 months.

In the end I was happy with what we chose, with one exception. I wanted to add "Peanut" to the very last line, but my beloved didn't. He said he didn't want him to be known as Peanut for all eternity. But I knew him as Peanut for longer than I knew him as Thomas and I really wanted that on his stone. My beloved gave him the name after my first ultrasound at 7 weeks 2 days because he thought that's what our tiny little Thomas looked like in the grainy image we were given - a peanut. And the name stuck. I only started calling him Thomas in late January when an ultrasound finally confirmed that he was, in fact, a boy.

I used to send my beloved e-mail updates at work every week. I subscribed to a service that sent me development updates so I'd pass them along to my beloved along with the heading This week in Peanutville or sometimes just Peanut!. I was always so excited to tell him how much our Peanut had grown in the last week and what new things he was now experiencing or doing. I got so used to calling him Peanut that calling him Thomas felt strange at first. I missed my Peanut.

I miss him still.

Anyway, this morning I talked to my beloved and asked again if we could include Peanut on the stone. I stated my case in a way I didn't feel free to in the tiny cemetery office with the strangely grumpy and not particularly patient clerk looking on.

He agreed, and so the last line of his stone will read: We will always love you Peanut, which now feels right. I'd need a million stones to tell his story properly, but I'm content. We did our best.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The stone

I'm worn out.

We chose Thomas' stone this morning. It's a beautiful, deep, reddish-pink granite and it will have a small angel cuddling with a lamb engraved in the bottom left corner. Before he was born my Mom bought Thomas a soft little praying lamb that played "Jesus Loves Me". It was a shower gift, actually. I used to wind it up and hold it against my belly so Thomas could hear it. I remember my Mom singing that little hymn to me when I was small, and I hoped hearing it would help Thomas find comfort in its familiar tune after he was born if he was ever scared or sad.

Now it's me finding comfort in a small engraved lamb and angel that will be on his grave marker.

I hate every single second of this.

I came home and cried. I cried until I thought my head was going to explode and the wall I was leaning it against was stained with mascara and tears. A very good friend told me she knew Thomas was with me today, so I held out my hand and told him to take it.

It should be the other way around. I should be looking after HIM - wiping HIS tears and soothing HIS cries. But instead I'm calling on him for strength to help me get through this life without him.

This is just so wrong. I feel like I'll be shaking my head in anguished awe for the rest of my life.


MARCH 9 - MARCH 10 2005


Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Twelve hours later...

So apparently I'm not 16 anymore. Or even 26. As it turns out I can't be awake for close to three hours in the middle of the night and be a functioning, coherent adult during the daylight hours that follow. Especially not when I finally fall back to sleep at 7:30am, only to be roused by a phone call from my dear sibling a half hour later.

In short, I've been in a fog all day. I WANT to do things but instead I just sit and stare. At the computer. At the television. Out the window. Whatever. If it can be stared at, I've stared at it today.

I think my biggest accomplishment was putting out the wasp trap to combat the alarmingly increasing numbers of wasps and bees floating about our back deck. I'm bothered by the idea of purposely trapping and drowning something, but I'm more bothered by the idea of someone getting stung. It's a dog eat dog world. Or a girl kill wasp world, as it were.

Oh my. I don't remember the last time I was this tired.

Oh no, wait. Yes it do. And I don't feel like thinking about that right now so I'm opting not to. My brain is so addled by fatigue I can trick it into not thinking today. I'm magic. Today, anyway.

The people next door had their concrete driveway poured today and it's very lovely, all smooth and milk chocolate coloured. And all I can think of is that since they've widened it right to the property line, in the winter they'll be dumping their now massive driveway's snow on our lawn instead of the little patch of grass that was theirs but is now concrete. I know it's a selfish thought, but I'm psychotically protective of our grass (not that you'd know it from our weed infested boulevard which suffered due to a crappy sprinkler which I finally replaced a few weeks ago). I'm glad they're up for neighbourhood beautification, but I just hope it doesn't come at the cost of my tiny patch of green.

This is a riveting entry.

Anyway, I really just wanted to say that...

You know? I don't even know what it is I want to say, so I'll just say goodbye - and hope that I sleep through the night tonight. We're going to arrange for Thomas' stone tomorrow and it'll be extremely dangerous for me to go in this current befuddled, loopy and ever so slightly crazy state of mind.

Hopefully Thomas will tell the angels to keep Lucy off my bed, or at least out of punching range, tonight so I can sleep in peace.

In the still of the night

It's 4:00am and I can't sleep. I WAS asleep but I woke up fast and completely when I punched Lucy (my sweet little feline) in the head. It was an accident - I was rearranging my pillows and suddenly there she was. I'm sure she took my stirring as a sign that I wanted to cuddle. Next to eating and chasing string around the house, Lucy LIVES to cuddle.

Anyway, I didn't see her but I certainly felt her after the punch. I got up to check on her (and go to the bathroom, since I was up anyway) and now I'm wiiiiiiide awake. I think the screwed up toilet roll is what did me in. It was a new roll and it took a LOT of concentration to find the end and get it to roll properly.

Lucy's just fine, by the way. Purring within minutes of impact and now curled up in the hall. A fuzzy meatloaf.

And here I am. Too awake to sleep.

It's quite interesting what goes through your mind in the middle of the night when you can't sleep because you've just punched your cat in the head. What's particularly interesting about it tonight is almost nothing seems to be going through my mind. I expected a bunch of deep, dark, middle-of-the-night scary thoughts when I first realized I was too awake to sleep, but...nuthin'.

Maybe that's a good thing. I have enough deep, dark thoughts, so I guess I'll just enjoy this 4:00am void.

I wish someone else was up to enjoy it with me though, but my beloved is asleep - as is everyone else I know who hasn't sucker-punched a cat tonight. So I guess it's just me and my empty head. And meatloaf.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A quick note and a thank you...

I just want to thank everyone who has ever made a comment here (with the exception of the spammers, of course) and I want you all to know that I read and cherish every single one. I'm constantly in awe of the support I have gotten and continue to get, and you need to know how much it means to me and how thankful I am. If I lived a thousand years I couldn't thank my family and friends enough for all their support and prayers.

I also wanted you to know that my beloved is coming with me to the cemetery later this week. I was going to go by myself tomorrow, but we've had a change of plans. He didn't know how much I wanted him there because I'd never told him, and once I did he said he'd come. It's a big thing for him - he's not a cemetery sort of person, and this is, I'm sure, the hardest visit he'll ever have to make. I love him more and more every day for reasons just like this.

Anyway, I know some of you mentioned you'd be thinking of me tomorrow and I wanted you to know that we'll be going later in the week and I'll have my beloved with me so it will be much easier to bear.

But thank you for the flurry of comments and e-mails, and the support you so willingly offered yet again.

I love you guys. Truly, I do.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

My new little friend

I made friends with a little baby at Mass today. She's about three months old, I think. I'm not sure why, but today I was kind of hoping this particular family would sit in front of me so I could see the baby. I know it's crazy - particularly after my experience last Sunday at the grocery store (we're still trying to get through all that yogurt) - but I just wanted to see her. I wanted to be close to a baby today.

She started to fuss mid-way through the Mass so her Mom picked her up out of her carrier. We were almost eye level then, and that's when the smiling began. Either I'm ridiculously funny looking, or she knows something I don't, because she just kept laughing and smiling at me. I started to wonder if she really DID know something I don't. I've heard - and believe - that children have a sense that we, as adults, have long since lost. I believe they can see what we can't and have memories of heaven that we've forgotten we ever knew.

I'd like to think that she was smiling because she knew we're going to be blessed by another little one some day.

I realize it's far more plausible that she was smiling because that's what babies do, but I'm happier believing that she has a direct link to the heavens and knows that there's a wonderful blessing in store for us. Maybe she and Thomas even crossed paths and one of her smiles was meant as a gift from him to me. I'd like to think that too.

I'm probably insane for thinking, let alone believing, any of this, but it's a rare day that a baby brings me as much comfort as that little girl did today, so I'm opting to believe that anything is possible and that she did have a message from heaven that, today, I was finally receptive enough to hear.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

And that's FINAL

I made an appointment with the cemetery to arrange for Thomas' grave marker today. I'm going on Monday morning, God help me. I know it's been almost 6 months, but it's a very hard thing to do. Putting the words down on a stone makes it very, very real. And very, very final.

I also wanted to wait until I was pretty sure I could do it without crying in front of strangers. I have to actually go into the cemetery and pass his grave to get to the office, so I needed to make sure I could do all that AND talk to the staff about his stone. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

I hate that I have to, I hate that I have to, I hate that I have to.

I just can't bear to have him lying in an unmarked grave any longer. That's now bothering me more than having to make the arrangements, so I know it's time. He's buried with my Grandparents (who have a stone of their own) so I know he's not alone, but no one knows he's there. No one passing by has any way to know that there's a sweet little soul tucked in there with his Great Grandparents, and that thought kills me. I want the world to know that a beautiful, beautiful boy named Thomas once lived and was loved so much by his Mommy and Daddy.

And once I've made the arrangements, that's all I can do for my sweet baby boy. It's the very last thing I can do as his Mother.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

It's the little things

Sometimes the smallest things help you get through a day. One tiny little victory is all it takes to make the pendulum swing in your favour.

Today it was lip gloss.

I have a tiny tub of The Body Shop "Born Lippy" raspberry lip gloss that I bought a few months ago. It was yet another purchase designed to help me drown my sorrows in something other than a vat of chocolate. I just love The Body Shop lip gloss. It makes me feel young and happy even though I'm old and sad. Remarkably so.

Anyway, it's easy to get the gloss out of the little tub when it's full to the top, but the more you use it, the harder it is to scoop it out on the tip of your finger without gobs of it going under your fingernail. This might not be a problem for some people, but I hate having gunk of any kind under my fingernails. A few weeks ago I reached the point of under the fingernail gunk and it's been bothering me ever since.

But yesterday something magical happened; I sheared off a fingernail doing the laundry and reduced that nail to a mere shadow of its former self. It's down to the quick, as my Mom would say. As a result, I now have the perfect finger for scooping out lip gloss - there's no nail for any of the gunk to get under.

Victory is mine. This day has officially been saved.

My heart still aches with sorrow at every beat, but I can scoop out my Born Lippy lip gloss without suffering from under nail gunk.

Sometimes they're very, very little victories, but I'll take every single one.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Yesterday was kind of a hard day. I guess it's because I was still reeling from the news of another lost soul and hurting so much for the poor parents who I know, like us, have a lifetime of sorrow facing them now. I was also hurting for my beloved and me, and remembering too much...

Going to the Mass where they do baptisms didn't help at all. I didn't mean to, but I'd slept in and had no choice. In retrospect maybe I shouldn't have gone at all, but I live in hope that one day I'll be sitting in church and peace and complete understanding will hit me as a ray of light envelopes me and angels sing.

It didn't happen yesterday. I cried almost all the way home instead.

My beloved had lunch waiting for me, as well as a big hug that cheered me up. We ate and went out for the afternoon. We eventually ended up at the grocery store where I bumped into a friend from high school that I haven't seen in years and years. She had her 11 month old daughter with her. Her other 11 month old daughter was at home with her husband. Twins. She has two babies. Two sweet little girls. Two.

I don't know why God insists on kicking me when I'm down, but I'm getting really good at pretending my heart hasn't stopped and my stomach hasn't dropped to the floor. We chatted about her babies and I smiled and cooed at the little one in her cart while I gripped my own empty cart with hands of steel. I kept willing her to ask me if we had any children. I wanted so desperately to tell her about my beautiful son, but she never asked. I just couldn't think of a way to bring up my dead baby standing in the cheese section at Loblaws, so I didn't. And then I felt guilty - like I'd somehow betrayed him. He's not a secret, he's my child for God's sake! How can I not talk about him? How can I not bring him up? What's wrong with me??

After we parted I walked around the store in a fog, randomly grabbing this and that. As a result we have way more cheese and yogurt than we need. And hot dogs too.

Why does it always happen at the grocery store? The secret ambushes and heart crushing sightings, I mean. I guess the bigger question is when will it all stop feeling like a kick in the gut? When will life stop beating the shit out of me?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Mountains to climb

I found out last night that another Mother from my chat board has lost her son. Her little boy lived just one day longer than mine. From what I understand there was some hope, which I can only imagine made his few days here a nightmarish roller coaster ride for his Mommy and Daddy. It looked like he would survive with the help of surgery to repair his tiny heart, but in the end they had to make the same agonizing decision we did. They too held their tiny son as he died.

I hoped I'd never hear about another child lost like this. Not because I can't handle hearing about it, but because I never wanted anyone to have to go through the unbearable pain my beloved and I have. It's unfathomable that someone as kind as S is starting out on the long journey I did 5 months ago. It's all uphill and it's a miserable, long, lonely road to walk.

But there's no choice but to take those first heavy, slow steps.

I remember it so well. Lost in a whirlwind of sorrow, physical pain and weakness, praying desperately for it all to be some horrible bad dream. Those first steps were hard, but I needed to take them so they could carry me to where I am now - a place with, finally, a small amount of peace. I know there are still mountains of sorrow to climb, but at least there are now also small peaceful valleys in which to rest.

Oh S, I'm so sorry. I'm just so, so sorry.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

It's crazy in there...

Okay, so last night I woke up in terror because I was dreaming I was being attacked by a wolf. The night before that I was Jessica Simpson's new maid/personal assistant.

What is going ON in my head at night?

I didn't really mind being Jessica Simpson's maid/personal assistant, but I didn't much like her mother, who was bossy and kind of nasty to the help. Plus I don't know WHO chose the colours for her kitchen, but I blame the bright fuschia, orange and yellow for confusing me and making me appear rather inept. I think I did manage to make her a grilled cheese sandwich though. Or maybe it was microwave popcorn. I can't remember.

I think I've had exactly two dreams about Thomas since he died. Once the morning after we got home from the hospital and once not that long ago. The first dream was horrible and I woke up crying for my beloved. I'd dreamt that Thomas had died, and woke up to find out, to my horror, that I was actually living that nightmare. It was real.

The second dream was of my beloved and I tickling Thomas on our bed. I woke up very happy from that one, even though I knew it was never going to come true.

So in 5 months there have been just two dreams about Thomas. I have no idea why my subconscious mind is opting to weave fantastical tales about me and a rag-tag band of celebrities as opposed to letting me deal quietly and logically with losing our baby. Unless this IS my mind's way of helping me cope. Maybe my brain wants a rest from the sorrow at night because it's been occupied with thoughts of Thomas all day. It decides to play at night - maybe that's it. Only I don't know why it was playing with wolves last night.

Anyway, there's no shortage of weird and amusing tales for me to tell my beloved so whatever's going on in my head at night, at least it's never dull and makes for excellent dinner conversation.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

5 months

I can't believe Thomas would have been 5 months old today. In so many ways it seem like just yesterday that we were nervously timing those early, exciting contractions while I lay on the couch in the family room. When I look back it's like those are two people I barely recognize now. Silly kids, they didn't have a clue.

Unfortunately we know better now.

Ah, my poor sweet baby I wish with all my heart and soul that you were here. I had such plans - such dreams. We both did.

But you know what? We're doing okay. We're not those naively excited parents-to-be anymore, but what we are is two people who are in the middle of weathering life's greatest storm and who are still clinging to each other with a sometimes startling ferocity. I've read about couples who are torn apart by lesser things or who don't stand the test of a grief like ours, but we're okay. We're more than okay, actually.

My beloved has become a part of me in a way I can't explain. It's like I don't know where I end and he begins.

I miss Thomas with every fibre of my being, but when I curl up next to my beloved at night I know I'm going to make it. I can bear the loss as long as I can feel him breathing softly behind me as I drift off to sleep, and as long as I can reach out and touch him when a bad dream wakes me.

And when I wake up in the night being pulled close, I know he needs me too.

Monday, August 08, 2005

It's all in my head

I just finished cutting and trimming the lawn, hosing out the garage and watering the front garden. There's nothing quite as satisfying as being dirty and hot from working hard. For one thing, you can justify that piece of chocolate you ate after breakfast.

Maybe tonight I'll dream about lush green landscaping or running through meadows of sweet summer flowers instead of dreaming of being told I have tuberculosis and have a 10% chance of survival. Actually 7% if you ask my Dad who, in my dream, thought honesty was better than the sugar coating policy my Mom had adopted. Although I'm not sure rounding up to 10 is all that sweet.

Does anyone even die from tuberculosis anymore? I mean in Canada? I mean your average, suburban, almost-middle-aged housewife - does she die from tuberculosis in 2005? I'm not worried (I don't even have a cough), I'm just asking.

I guess I'm just preoccupied with my body and what it has and hasn't done and will and won't seem to do. I just hope one day it decides it will get and stay pregnant.

I've been thinking a lot about having a little girl lately. I would be equally thrilled to have another little boy (since I know we make very, very cute little boys) but I can't get the idea of a baby girl out of my head for some reason. We even have a name for her. It came to me a few weeks after Thomas died, and even my beloved liked it (and the reason why I chose it).

Right now she's just a dream, but maybe one day she'll come true. Or he'll come true. Either way we'll be blissfully happy. And maybe then I'll stop dreaming of tuberculosis, euthanasia, and being a paraplegic with Barbara Streisand.

As always, time will tell.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Church and other accessories

I can't believe I was sitting in church coveting the outfit of a 12-year old girl sitting in front of me. Even if it had come in my size it would have looked ridiculous on me, but I still coveted it nonetheless - and in church too. She was just so put together. She had a beautiful, breezy poncho style top over flared black pants, a purple necklace, cute little dangly flower earrings with a purple stone centre that matched the purple in her top and a funky little lilac purse. Geez, even the ponytail elastic matched. And there wasn't one single gray hair on that chestnut head of hers.

Youth really is wasted on the young.

She obviously knew she was lookin' good, but I'm sure she had to put precious little effort into it. She doesn't know how much of an effort lookin' good is when you're sliding rapidly into middle age, desperately clinging to bushes, street lamps, small children - anything to slow down the frightening plunge into old ladydom.

I distracted myself from her perfection by trying to figure out what on earth a 12-year old needs to carry in a purse for an hour at Mass. Kleenex, maybe? Aspirin? Except that's what your Mom's purse is for, so I just don't know.

Man, I wish the purse hadn't matched.

But I had a pretty good accessory with me today. My Dad. My beloved isn't Catholic so he opts out of church on Sundays. That's totally fine with me - I've never wanted him to do anything that isn't "him" just to please me. But being a singleton at church can be lonely sometimes, especially as I watch family after happy family file into the church.

So today I had company for the first time since Thomas' funeral. In fact, as I sat there trying not to covet that wonderful purpley outfit, I realized that the last time my Dad and I sat together at Mass was on that beautiful, sunny day in March when we buried Thomas.

I remember hearing my Dad trying desperately to sing the parts of the Mass that day, his velvety, perfect voice cracking in sorrow. I was glad that my beloved and I were sitting alone in the front row so I didn't have to see the pain on the faces of everyone sitting behind us. I'm so glad I don't have those faces etched in my memory.

But today was different. We laughed, chatted (yes, in church) and sang together, our voices strong and confident.

It's amazing what time can do. Yes, it drags you kicking and screaming into old age, but it also heals you just enough to give you the strength you need to carry on.

Did you know?

Did you know I drank a half a bottle of raspberry wine at dinner?

Did you know it was deliciously decadent and long overdue?

Did you know our neighbors (behind us) invited us to their street party but we just lay on the couch all night instead?

Did you know I wouldn't have minded making a brief appearance at the party but after the half bottle of wine I was also perfectly content to lay on the couch all evening?

Did you know the neighbour's wife is expecting her second baby next month?

Did you know she's been avoiding us like the plague and it would have been awkward seeing her tonight?

Did you know we haven't talked to her and have actually barely even SEEN her since Thomas died?

Did you know I'm not sure I would have had the mental energy to deal with her feeling weird and to do all the reassuring I would have had to do?

Did you know I'm low on mental energy?

Did you know she was pregnant with her first when I miscarried MY first and she was convinced that I thought she somehow had something to do with it?

Did you know I still can't figure that one out, but that's how I knew she'd need a lot of reassuring if we saw her tonight?

Did you know this afternoon I was watching (or spying on, depending on how you view it) our other neighbours who had a baby a month ago?

Did you know I was just watching them happily go about their Saturday business?

Did you know every time I see them (with or without the baby) I wonder what it's like to be them?

Did you know I wonder a lot about what it's like to have a baby and to be able to bring it home?

Did you know I've also seen both of them naked?

Did you know I don't think they understand that when it's dark out and your lights are on people can actually see right into your house if you haven't put your curtains up?

Did you know I think it's hilarious that I've seen them both naked but my beloved has forbidden me to tell any of the other neighbours?

Did you know my beloved flooded the toilet in my birthing suite at the hospital?

Did you know it was in the middle of the night, post-epidural, and I was trying to sleep?

Did you know he stood there watching water and poo tumble out of the toilet all the while trying desperately to think of a way to pin it on me?

Did you know at that point I was hooked up to an IV, had a catheter in and could barely move my legs because they were so numb from the epidural and it would have been physically impossible for me to even GET to the bathroom?

Did you know they had to move us to a new room because he'd fouled up the old one?

Did you know it was actually a much bigger and better room and I was kind of glad?

Did you know now I thank God he flooded the toilet because at least we can look back and have something to laugh at?

Did you know it's kind of weird to have a flooded toilet be the thing that makes you smile when you think back to the day you gave birth?

Did you know life IS weird?

Did you know, R & K, this post's for you?

Saturday, August 06, 2005


My beloved just pulled an origami vagina out of his wallet to show me. He made it by accident while he was standing talking to a co-worker yesterday (a male one, thank goodness). He didn't realize it until he took a good look at it, so evidently he's an idiot savant whose talent is creating female genitalia sculptures out of paper.

He saved it to show me. He said "you keep that". For what purpose I don't know, except that every time I look at it I laugh.

Oh, maybe that's why.

Clever boy.

Just relax

Oooooh so THAT'S all I have to do - "just relax".

It sounds so easy when it's coming out of someone else's mouth - someone who hasn't lay stunned and drugged in a recovery room while being told their perfect little baby boy has 1% chance of survival. Someone who didn't lose two other babies before that through miscarriage. Someone who doesn't have a murderous body that, in addition to not being able to protect the lives it carries, doesn't seem to know how to work properly at all anymore.

Just relax. Excellent advice. Thank you, doctor.

I don't doubt that stress is throwing off my body and causing it to do odd things (or not do anything at all, as the case may be), but I'm not entirely sure how I can possibly avoid stress. Just waking up is stressful sometimes.

You try it. Imagine that every child you've ever conceived has died - the last one at 38 weeks - and then imagine that your body seems to have forgotten how to do what a woman's body should be able to do without any trouble at all. Now "relax". Can't do it, can you?

So how am I supposed to? I'm not imagining any of this. This is my life.

Hmmm, I feel a pity party coming on. Someone open a bottle of champagne, cut the cake and gimme a party hat - I'm in the mood to whine.

I know my doctor means well and I know she's probably right. I guess I'm just mad because I wanted a magic pill that would make everything okay. A pill that would make my body work properly so at least I wouldn't have to stress out about THAT. But apparently I'm actually going to have to work at this too. Just like I have to work at living - at surviving in the midst of the worst sorrow imaginable.

My sibling pointed out that might be my problem - I equate "relaxing" to work. She's got a point, clever girl. But unfortunately my brain doesn't work like hers. I wish it did - now more than ever.

I've been trying to think of ways to "relax" for 37 hours now. Here's what I've come up with:

1. Leave a chat board (filled with women I've known since I started trying to get pregnant two years ago) because all those women have had their babies and the board is filled with chatter about breastfeeding, Dr. Ferber's sleep methods, first teeth, first steps and first words - all things I'll never experience with Thomas.

2. Stop charting my cycles, thus leaving me almost completely in the dark, relying on my own intuition and often confusing physical signs to confirm ovulation.

3. Book a spa getaway for my beloved and me.

And that's it. Only the third option gives me any sense of pleasure. I'm very conflicted about the first two options. Actually I'm really just conflicted about the first option. I'm kind of happy to give up charting for the three months my doctor has ordered. I'm sick of having an otherwise perfectly good day ruined by a low temperature before my feet even hit the slippers.

But giving up a board full of incredible women who have seen me through hell? I don't know if I can do it.

But I think I should, at least for a little while. Sometimes, as I'm reading their posts, I notice how deafeningly quiet my house is. I know their houses are filled with the sounds of babies - gurgles, coos, laughter and cries - and mine is so silent. It's like the lead vest they make you wear at the dentist when you're having x-rays. Heavy and scary.

They leave the boards because their babies are crying, need changing or have to be fed. I leave, sometimes, because I can't bear to be on it anymore.

But then other days it's like a life-line. They've taken me in, even though I really don't belong, and have made me one of their own. They listen to me, laugh with me, cry with me and talk to me like I'm a normal person. They make me feel normal, which is a feat at the best of times. And these are far from the best of times.

Does it make sense to leave all that behind?

I'm not totally sure, but sadly I think the benefits outweigh the loss right now. So I'm taking a break.

But I'll be back. Friends like these are nearly impossible to find, and I've found a whole virtual community filled with them. With the luck I've had I'd be pretty stupid to let them go for good. Especially since I was so very lucky to find them in the first place.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Like father, like son

We were out late last night. We got an invitation to dinner from our neighbours who, as it turns out, are a really nice couple to hang out with. We had a really great time. When you reach a certain age it becomes rare to find new people to tell all your old stories to, and we all took full advantage of the fresh audience last night. As a result, we ended up staying at their house until almost 1:00am. For those under 30 this might seem early, but to four 30 somethings it was quite a feat. The yawns started at about 11:30pm, but we staved off the good-byes until 12:45am.

As a result, my beloved and I are happily drowsy today. He actually just crashed an hour ago. I've been waiting for it all day (I've said before, if it were legal to marry a cookie I wouldn't have waited 29 years to find my beloved - with him it's naps. He loves them, I swear, almost as much as me).

I saw the nap approaching. When you really know someone, you can see all their signs. I know when I've ticked him off, I know when he's about to tell me a funny story, I know when he needs a hug and I know when he's dangerously close to nodding off on the couch. He'd assumed the napping position. He was on his back with a pillow on his head and his hands tucked up under his chin. I started laughing and told him I knew he was on the verge of dozing off.

Then I remembered.

Because mine was a high-risk pregnancy I had a lot of ultrasounds. I loved them. There's nothing in the world like catching those beautiful, albeit fleeting, glimpses of your child before he's born, all tucked up safe and sound. Until I saw my beloved this afternoon I'd forgotten that one of those glimpses was of Thomas with his hand tucked up underneath his chin, just like his Daddy. I remember feeling my body flood with love for both my men when I saw Thomas doing something I've seen his Daddy do a million times.

I was always so preoccupied with telling my beloved all the nitty gritty details of the appointments that he couldn't make it to that I guess I forgot to tell him that Thomas had already mastered his Daddy's napping style. So I told him today. I think we both wanted to cry, but we smiled instead. We don't have many memories of our son and I think maybe we both wanted to share one without showing the pain that always comes with them.

I don't care that the happiness was a little bit of a lie, it still felt good to act like normal parents for one brief moment and smile at our son.