Monday, October 31, 2005

If he was here

I've been trying very hard not to think about the little Old Navy Halloween sleeper that's tucked away with all of Thomas' things in the basement. It had a little ghost on the front of the long sleeved t-shirt, and brown, orange and black striped velour leggings. He would have worn it today, whenever he wasn't wearing whatever adorable little costume we'd have bought for him.

I've been trying hard not to think about it, but of course it's all I can think about. I guess this is the first day since he died that I know what, out of all of the cute little things we had for him, he would have most certainly been wearing.

It's a hard, strange day because I know what Thomas would have had on today if he was here.

I hate "if".

But at least my Today's Parent subscription has finally ended. I got the notice today, which means we won't be getting any more issues in the mail, thank GOD.

I hate "if" and I'm not really liking today, but I love that that blasted subscription is finally done.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

His name. My son.

Sometimes it pays to sneak a copy of the church bulletin to read before Mass starts. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have known about the book of remembrance. It's a book in which parishioners write down the names of loved ones who have died, and it stays on the altar through November. All the people named in the book are remembered at each Mass through the month, starting with All Souls' Day (or is it All Saints' Day?) on November 1st.

Naturally I had to make sure Thomas was named in the book, as well as my Grandparents. I also made a general "Z--- and F--- family members" entry to cover off everyone who I didn't name specifically. I must avoid offending at all cost, even the dead.

Anyway, I quietly went up to the front of the church to put my names in the book after Mass. I was waiting behind a woman who had an extraordinarily long list of people (seriously, she was writing for what seemed like forever) so I had time to read the little note that was standing up beside the book.

It said something like, "Life does not end, it merely changes" and beneath it was a short list of names.

Thomas' was the very first.

It took my breath away and I'm pretty sure my mouth dropped open. I was startled to see his name, but mostly awed that he was being remembered so lovingly. Every single person who has come up to write in that book has seen his name. I know none of them know who he is - but they've seen it.

I can't remember the last time I felt so loved and welcomed by a community. It was like a quiet but huge bear hug of support.

They remembered. Without me having to say a word, they remembered my beautiful little boy.

When I finally got my turn I wrote "Our darling boy Thomas Joseph Z---", and I felt so proud. It's silly, but I felt like the Mother of a celebrity. It was wonderful. It was so amazing to feel like his Mother, and incredible to have him recognized as a person who lived and breathed - a person who existed just like everyone else in that book and on that list. A real person.

I cried all the way home of course, but good tears.

I really needed that today. And finally it feels like God was listening.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

We ARE a family

I remember a few years ago - maybe before my first miscarriage, maybe after, I can't quite remember now - talking to a friend of mine who had beautiful a 10-month old baby. In the course of the conversation, this friend made a comment like, "'ll see, when you and S___ start a family..." as though my beloved and I, childless at the time, were somehow less of a unit than she and her husband and child were.

I remember being a little irked at the time, but I'm retroactively incensed.

Just for the record, we are a family, My Beloved and I. We joined our lives together three years ago this November 16th and on that day we became a family. We have three children in heaven, but even before that we were a family. And if we never have any children who make it into our home safe and sound we'll still be a family.

I guess I'm getting more politically correct in my old age - or the shit storm I'm in the middle of weathering has made me more sensitive to innocent, well meaning comments that now rub me so far the wrong way I want to scream.

I know my friend meant no harm. Just like I know the friends who've disappeared since Thomas died mean no harm. But sometimes I think people should try a little harder to think before they speak.

What a wonderful world we'd live in if more people thought before they spoke.

After I had my first miscarriage I was told by a well meaning (albeit ignorant) older man in the choir I was singing in at the time that I was lucky. According to him I was lucky because his neighbour had a stillborn child and that was far worse than losing a child at 10 weeks like I did. I remember being utterly stunned that he felt I should actually feel lucky. My child had just died. I'd spent two days in agony, bleeding and cramping before finally losing my baby in a tiny emergency exam room. I didn't feel lucky at all.

I now know that yes, it was much harder to lose Thomas - a perfect and perfectly healthy full-term baby - just hours after he was born, but that doesn't mean that losing a child to miscarriage is easy. No part of losing a child - no matter how long it's been in your womb - is easy. Miscarriage is horrible, gut-wrenching, and desperately sad. And the very last thing a mother in mourning wants to hear is that she's lucky in any way, shape or form.

I have no idea why I'm writing about this today or why I'm still so angered by both of these careless remarks. Maybe I'm just angry in general and this gives me an outlet to express the anger I feel at losing Thomas.

But, interestingly enough, I'm actually feeling pretty peaceful and happy right now.

Hmmm, maybe that little tirade was long overdue.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Things I've never told anyone before

Sometimes I feel like I don't know myself anymore - like I can't trust my own hunches. Everything is just "off".

When I first conceived Thomas, I had a feeling that this time was going to be different - this time wouldn't end in a D&C at 10 weeks or in tears and sorrow at 5 weeks. I just felt so sure that this baby was going to be fine. In fact, the day after I found out I was pregnant I opened up the cedar chest where a handful of baby things were tucked away - things for another baby who didn't quite make it to earth. I looked at the stuffed elephant and bear that my sister had bought, the little white sleeper and angel rattle that my Mom gave me and the light green doggie sleeper that I picked up one day on my way to work, and I felt in my heart everything was going to be just fine this time - that this baby would use all those things.

But as time passed I was plagued by a nagging feeling that I wouldn't carry to term. I was sure I'd go into preterm labour and that the baby would be compromised, or worse.

And yet I did carry to term, technically. I was induced at 37 weeks 5 days and had Thomas at exactly 38 weeks.

But even more disturbing than the nagging feeling that the baby would be born prematurely was the fact that the whole time I was pregnant I just couldn't picture actually having him - taking him home and being his Mom, I mean. I couldn't picture it - it just didn't seem like the logical end to the journey and I have no idea why. I bought him things and, sure, I picture him wearing them, but something just didn't feel right. I assumed it was normal - that first-time moms all feel that way because it is hard to picture something when you have utterly no idea what it will actually be like.

But it always bothered me. I even mentioned it to one of the many ultrasound technicians who gave me those precious glimpses of Thomas which are now memories I treasure more than anything I have on this earth. As we watched the grainy image of my beautiful little baby moving about on the screen one day, I said to the tech, "I know he's in there, but I just can't picture him actually being on the outside - it's so surreal."

I don't think she replied. Maybe she smiled, I don't remember. But that day haunts me. I don't know why I said it or why I felt it, but I did.

And he didn't come home with me. He didn't wear any of the clothes that were waiting for him except the outfit we buried him in, and I'm still left feeling that the whole experience was one giant, surreal mind-fuck.

Which is why I'm so confused now. I keep trying to read my gut - trying to figure out if I think I'll ever have another baby. But I can't feel it. I don't see it and I don't know why. I was both so right and so wrong about the way I felt when I was pregnant with Thomas, so I suppose what I'm feeling now means nothing - but what if it does mean something? What if it means I'm right again and there isn't going to be another baby?

When I lay down on my bed in the birthing suite for the very first time I watched the nurse check out all the supplies and equipment in the bassinet area - all the things we'd need right after Thomas was born. I remember thinking - or was it feeling - that we wouldn't need any of it.

Oh God, why IS that?? Did I know something, deep in my heart? Did I sense it somehow? Were all my fears during pregnancy justified after all, and not just normal paranoia that all first-time mothers feel?

The week before I was induced I stood in the kitchen and cried. I told My Beloved that I was afraid that I was going to die during labour. I really was. I was sure something awful was going to happen to me. I didn't get the sense that Thomas was in any danger, just me. But in the end, even though I was very ill, I was fine and he died.

I had odd hunches and concerns all along. On and off. And the very worst happened. Did I know - did I feel it, or was it all just a series of awful coincidences.

I have no idea. But as a result I feel like I can't trust anything I think anymore. And I don't like that one bit.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Freddie the vole

By some miracle I felt a lot better today. No more sore throat, no sniffles - it was wonderful! I don't know how I managed to kick this cold, but I did. And after not being out of the house for two days I wanted out badly so I decided to cut the front lawn and clean out the front garden.

It went well. Until Freddie showed up.

I discovered Freddie quite by accident during the summer when I was weeding the garden. He ran along the grass, dangerously close to my shoes, and popped back into the safety of the flagstone garden wall. I didn't scream. I wanted to, and then I very quickly determined the weeding was over for the day (who are we kidding - for the summer), but I didn't scream.

My Beloved spotted Freddie a few times after I did, you know, after the weeding suddenly became his responsibility. He also found Freddie's elaborate system of burrows and tunnels beneath the cover of our potato vines and the little purple flowering groundcover neither of us can remember the name of.

We discovered that Freddie likes lilies after he ate my birthday presents - two beautiful Stargazer lily bulbs (my favourite flowers) that my Mom and Dad gave me on the saddest birthday of my life this past April. I hated Freddie a little after that. Mostly he just scares me, but I do have to admit that I full out hate him for eating my Stargazers.

Anyway, once the surviving assembly of flowers and shrubs took hold and took off, we didn't have to do all that much weeding and Freddie was left to his own devices with the run of the garden. For the most part anyway. My Beloved did try to force an eviction by putting Lucy the cat's poop in a few of his burrow holes, but apparently Freddie doesn't mind cat poop. When all was said and done we were left with moldy cat turds and additional burrows.

We all knew the day was coming when the plants would die and be pulled out, requiring a reassessment our uneasy relationship with Freddie. And today was the day.

Freddie won this round. I did the best I could and removed probably 75% of the dead or dying plants, but I just couldn't bring myself to take out the remaining groundcover or turn over the soil. I caught sight of him twice, ducking for cover, and that was enough for me. I realize I'm a thousand times his size and both times I saw him he was running away from me, but small things that move fast scare me. And Freddie is small and extraordinarily fast.

As much as he scares me, and as much as I hate him for eating my birthday present, I felt a little bad for the little squirt. He's had a beautiful, safe, comfy home all summer, and today the wrecking crew came in. I don't know what voles do in the winter, but we're making his safe little have a barren, exposed wasteland. I know it's our garden and we can't let a vole run our lives, but, well, I guess I'm feeling weak. I know what it's like to have your safe, comfortable world turned upside down and I don't know if I have the stomach to inflict that on another creature.

Even if he is a lily eating vole.

So I don't know what the answer is. We really do have to finish cleaning out the garden and I'm not crazy about him staying there, but where else will he go? I'd love to be able to get down on my hands and knees and get my fingers in the dirt next spring, but if I know Freddie's just inches away tunneling underground or, even worse, running past my knees, I won't enjoy it at all. So where do we go from here?

Does anyone want a vole?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


I have a cold. First day. I'm tired, my throat is slowly getting sorer and sorer as the night wears on and, well, I'm just whiny and pitiful. You know, a real joy to be around.

Anyway, it's a little after 10:00pm and I just got out of the shower. For some reason while I was in there, my last OB appointment before my first and eventually aborted induction attempt kept running through my mind. It was the one where my OB said, "So, are you ready to have this baby" and I stared at him slack-jawed and said, "Today?" in a small and stupid voice.

For the second time since Thomas died I prayed for God to turn back time and take me back to that moment. I'd know what to do this time. I wouldn't let the hospital turn me away because my blood pressure had returned to normal and labour and delivery was overcrowded. I would insist on the induction and I would have Thomas a week before I eventually actually did - a week before the abruption that killed him.

Sorry. I digress.

Anyway, feeling sad and sick, I climbed out of the shower and pulled on my pink pajamas. There's nothing better than flannel pajamas when you're sickly. I decided it would be best to dry my hair. I don't know if my Mother and Grandmother are actually right and you can get pneumonia from sitting around with wet hair, but I'm not pressing my luck. Not after the luck I've had.

I need to digress again. A thousand years ago, back when I was in a Catholic all-girls high school, I once had a nun tell me that I'd get hemorrhoids from sitting outside on a cold cement step. Seriously. She stopped on her way into the school to warn me that I was compromising the health of my anus. I'll never forget that. And HA!!! to her - I've never had hemorrhoids, not even after 9 months of pregnancy and three hours of pushing. Not a one.

Nuns don't know everything after all.

Anyway, back to 2005.

I dried my hair quickly. I didn't condition it or brush it straight - I just blew it dry fast because, quite frankly, my energy was waning. A long day of laying on the couch feeling crappy is surprisingly draining. The result was rather unexpected. Frizzy is a bit of an understatement. I hastily scooped it up into a clip figuring I'd let it down right before I went to sleep.

But the clip didn't help. "Oh God." was what I muttered when I looked into the mirror. Red-faced from the heat of the shower and the hair dryer, snaky gray hairs poking out and slithering in and amongst my precious brown hair, big dark circles and a halo of fine frizz. Beautiful.

And then I farted.

I'm sorry. This post has a fart and an anus in it. My apologies to the more genteel readers.

My Beloved heard the gaseous expulsion and said "Nice", as he always does. I went in to the office to retrieve my laptop and said, "You've got yourself a real winner here."

He laughed but seemed puzzled. I pointed out the frizz, the gray, the general dishevelment and he looked at me with love and said, "I think you look nice."

You know, I think he meant it.

I remember once when we were dating - early years - and he surprised me by coming over late on a Saturday night. He had some family shin dig to go to and, with no plans of my own, I decided to have a spa night. When he dropped by I was wrapped up in a big flannel teddy bear robe without a lick of makeup on and, if I'm not mistaken, giant gym socks with holes in them.

He looked at me then the way he just looked at me now and said softly, "You look like someone's mom" and smiled.

That was the first moment I knew that sexy was in the eye of the beholder.

Thank God.

Monday, October 24, 2005

A cautionary tale

If you're in the grocery store choosing a carton of eggs and a stray, broken egg oozes out of the side of one of the cartons into your hand and you're compelled to use hand sanitizer to sanitize your eggy hand, make sure you let the hand sanitizer dry before you pick up a bag of milk.

Why? Well, if you don't, the dark blue ink from the bag will transfer itself to your hand. This won't be as much of a problem for you if you happen to be one of those organized-type people who actually carries tissues with you. But if you aren't one of those people, you'll briefly consider ripping open a maxi pad you've discovered during your frantic digging that was left over from the last time you needed to carry one around in your purse. Once you've dismissed that as a simply terrible idea for so very many reasons, you'll decide to use hand sanitizer to attempt to clean up. This will only serve to dilute the ink and pass it to the hand that wasn't tainted in the first place and you'll end up with two blue, wet hands. You'll search vainly for something to dry them on and end up opting for the inside of your jacket pocket and an old shopping list. You'll be cursing yourself while at the same time fervently praying that no one is watching this ridiculous one-woman Blue Man show.

In the end you'll sigh, and just decide to pretend that nothing is wrong and that the dark blue stains on your hands are virtually invisible. You'll hope against hope that no one will notice and, that if they do, they'll think nothing of the strange staining that looks suspiciously like security tag ink.

The good thing is that when you finally get into your car and tear into the Snickers bar you're pretty certain you've earned, you'll make sure not to touch the chocolate with your eggy smurf hands and you'll enjoy every bite of it. You might not have a strategy for dealing with broken eggs and milk bag ink, but fortunately you'll always have your wits about you when it comes to chocolate.

Well, you will if you're anything like me, anyway.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


I think I'm getting a cold and I'm all freaked out. I'm guessing I was a little more scarred by my traumatic post C-section illness than I thought I was.

I shouldn't be this worried about a cold. It's just that it started in my chest with the tightness and wheezing and paranoia-inducing discomfort chest colds always bring.

I'm not sure if my fragile psyche can deal with a chest cold right now. I knew I was bound to get sick again - and we are hurtling rapidly towards cold and flu season - but I guess I hoped I could somehow avoid it. Especially since I'm at my paranoid and neurotic best right now.

PMS and paranoia go hand in hand for me, I'm afraid.

My poor beloved. All he wanted to do was sleep last night but my coughing, clearing my throat and panicky movements in the bed (trying desperately to find a position that would help me breathe easier) kept him awake until finally he got up and made me a cup of hot tea in the hopes that the steam would ease the congestion.

I guess that and the Halls cough drop I took helped because I finally drifted off to a fitful sleep about a half hour later.

I woke up thoroughly exhausted this morning and took to the couch. All day. I lay there feeling tired, congested and paranoid all freaking day.

I must have been such a joy.

I finally hauled my bum off the couch long enough to shower, dress and meet my family for dinner to celebrate my sister's 38th birthday, but now I'm back home and once again in bed.

The congestion is still these, but not nearly as bad as it was last night. Maybe I'm fighting off a cold, or maybe it was just a particularly vicious allergy attack that knocked the stuffing out of me.

But whatever it is I wish it would just go away and leave me alone. I admit it, I'm afraid. I don't want to be sick. I don't want to worry about me any more than I already do, which is a lot. I worry constantly about the ways my body will and won't work, I really don't need the added stress of a chest cold on top of that. I really don't.

What a joy I am. My Beloved is certain a lucky, lucky man today.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

But I AM happy

Today My Beloved asked me why I'm so sad all the time.

I didn't really think I was sad all the time, so the question kind of caught me off guard. I was bothered by it for a couple of reasons. I mean, he's right - I am sad all the time, but I'm not just sad.

This is hard to explain.

I guess what I mean is the sadness of losing Thomas is permanent. It will always be there. I will never again be able to truthfully answer no if someone asks me if I'm sad. Of that I'm convinced. But I'm not just sad, I'm happy too - and I'm sure that happiness will grow and overtake more and more of the sadness as each year passes. But the sadness will never go away completely because if it did that would mean that I'd forgotten Thomas and that's never going to happen. Not if I live to be a thousand.

So I am sad all the time. I just didn't know I wasn't showing the happiness I feel too.

I feel awful that he sees so much sadness in me, but I guess it's because I let my guard down most when I'm around him. He knows the same pain and so he isn't uncomfortable seeing it the way I imagine other people are. I don't have to pretend with him, and the mask of forced happiness falls off when it's just the two of us alone.

But I hate the idea that he thinks all I am is sad, or that I think our life together is sad. It isn't. What happened to us is heartbreakingly sad, but our life together is wonderful. I love him more than I ever thought I could love another person and I love every moment I spend with him. Okay, almost every moment (I'm human, after all).

He's my best friend in the whole world and I love the life we've created together. I love the ordinariness of our existence - evening walks, inside jokes, watching movies snuggled on the futon in the room that used to be Thomas' - and I love the day to day comfort of knowing he's there. I love that he comes home to me every night and that we take refuge from the cold, cruel world in each other's arms.

We work hard at our relationship to make it as good as it is, but the reward is a love I used to pray fervently to God that I would someday find.

So, My Beloved, yes, I am sad all the time. But I'm also happier than I ever dreamed I could be.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

A very merry meltdown

I should have known better than to play Christmas carols on the piano. What the hell was I thinking?

Let me rewind...

I went out with a very good friend of mine this afternoon to hunt for Christmas sheet music for caroling purposes. We also drank hot cocoa and ate cookies and had a really nice time chatting (one of my favourite pastimes).

Anyway, I sat down at the piano to plunk out the carols we'd purchased after dinner. Yes, yes, I know it's early and the official Christmas music season doesn't start for another few weeks, but Santa wasn't watching. I swear.

I started to hum one of the carols as I was playing it and suddenly I felt an overwhelming sadness. It was crushing - and quite startling. I picked my way through the rest of the pieces and then wandered upstairs to sit with My Beloved in the office.

The guy has some kind of radar, I swear. He immediately knew something was wrong. I attributed my sudden melancholy to hormones (PMS?) and was content to let it rest there, but he kept asking what was wrong and, of course, before I knew it I was in tears. It only dawned on me as he held me in his arms while I cried into his neck that the reason I was crying was because I won't be able to sing those Christmas carols to Thomas.

I will never sing him to sleep.

I remember the many sweet daydreams I had while I was pregnant. I used to think a lot about what our life would be like, Thomas and me. I imagined us surprising my Mom and Dad with visits - and I pictured their beaming faces as we pulled into the driveway, I imagined taking Thomas out in his carriage when the cold of March turned to the warmth of spring and summer, I imagined seeing him toddling through the grass in the backyard, I imagined making dinners while he slept in his bassinet nearby, I imagined waking up and taking him, all warm and sweet, from his crib and rocking him back to sleep. And I imagined singing him lullabyes that would turn into Christmas carols come December.

I will never sing him to sleep.

I'm so lonely for my Thomas tonight.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


A million and one things happened today that I thought I'd blog about. And some things happened that I don't want to blog about. Yet.

But ugh, now I can't remember one single thing I did think was blog-worthy.

Oh, except that while we were out in search of a particularly elusive part of my sister's birthday present I saw a sign that confused me. Next to two wheelchair parking spots was one reserved for "expectant mothers".

I think the artist who supplied the line drawing for said sign is confused about the way expectant mothers actually "carry" their babies prior to birth. It's not, as the picture seemed to suggest, in a baby carriage.

Having carried a baby for 9 months I can say with certainty that it would have been nice to be able to opt for that method of gestation - especially towards the end - but as far as I know modern science hasn't yet figured out a way to grow babies outside the womb.

The sign was stupid. But all I can think about is how much I hope one day I'll be able use that parking space.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Hair and heating pads

This evening I was shuffling stuff around in one of our cluttered bathroom drawers searching for a clip so I could pull back my hair (which is desperately in need of a cut) when I bumped into a heating pad/wrap that My Beloved bought for me the week before Thomas was born.

I'd done something to my wrist. I didn't know what at the time, and I still don't, but it was hurting like hell and I was concerned about not being able to look after the baby properly if my right wrist was sore and not able to support much weight. I was really kind of freaked out.

My Beloved, who was (and is) so ready to do anything to help me, ran off to the drugstore and returned home with everything imaginable to help a pregnant girl with a bum wrist. The heating pad was my remedy of choice, and it helped a lot. Within a day or so my wrist was just fine again.

But as it turned out I had no reason to worry. I didn't end up with baby to hold anyway.

Damn hair. Damn clip. Damn, stupid, friggin' heating pad all full of memories.


Sunday, October 16, 2005

A message

A friend of ours invited us up to her cottage on Georgian Bay this weekend for a little fall fun and frolic. It was pretty cold and rainy so we didn't frolic a whole lot, but we did have lots fun and lots of incredibly good food.

I learned a few things during our quick, 24-hour getaway.

For starters, table hockey, for those who've never tried it, is surprisingly exciting. And crokinole is a lot of fun too, only it might make you swear a lot...especially if you're teamed with someone better than you and your ineptitude is the only thing preventing that better player from savouring the sweet taste of victory. My apologies P.

I also learned that sometimes when you think you'll be sad, a whisper on the wind changes your mind and brings you unexpected peace.

My Beloved and I were standing on the shore of the Bay this morning, looking out across the water. The sky was a patchwork of angry looking dark blue clouds and the Bay was a pale shade of gray, punctuated by huge, foamy white waves. The roar of the waves as they crashed against the boulders of the breakwall is something you truly can't describe - and it's pretty much all you can hear when you're standing in such close proximity to the relentless pounding. Words were whipped from our mouths and carried away to the heavens, which eventually forced us into contemplative silence.

I was awed by the beauty and power of what I was witnessing, and then I started to think about the fact that Thomas will never get to see it. He'll never have a chance to stand on the shore of an ocean, lake, river or even a stream and marvel at the wonders he might see there. Just as I was about to spoil an otherwise magical moment, a line from a poem popped into my head...

I am a thousand winds that blow

Maybe it's because I've read a half a million bereavement websites since Thomas died, but I still found it strange that that line of poetry would push its way into my head so forcefully this morning.

This is the complete poem, By Mary Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

I guess it could have been me (my subconscious mind, that is) protecting myself from ruining an otherwise perfectly wonderful moment by recalling a line from this poem. That could well be all it was. Self preservation at it's best and most well-timed.

But I wonder if it was more than that - I wonder if it was a whisper on the wind that managed to make its way to me when I needed it most. Its message was not to be sad, not to be sorry for experiencing that wonderful moment because Thomas is all around me - all around both of us - experiencing everything that we are right along with us.

It was nice. I don't know who to attribute that moment of peace to, but whoever sent me the message, thank you.

And this is for you, Thomas. Even though you were already there with me to see it.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Today, October 15th, I am remembering Thomas, our two other babies who were too small to know, and all the sweet souls taken from their loving parents far too soon.

I wish you comfort today and always, my friends.

And I love you, my sweet little ones, forever.

So THAT'S why I'm here...

Last night in bed I told My Beloved that just this week, after more than 7 months, I began to start wondering why I'm here - why I survived when Thomas didn't, I mean. I could have easily died. Twice. Once when I hemorrhaged during the C-section and again a few days later when I developed a blood infection.

I could have died, but I didn't. So why am I here?

Without missing a beat, My Beloved said, so lovingly, "To do my laundry." Last night that was the absolute perfect answer. We both laughed, snuggled in and fell asleep.

Every once in a while, for a few moments and against all odds, life is still perfect.

Friday, October 14, 2005


The other night, driving home from Thanksgiving dinner at the in-laws, I had kind of a weird, morbid thought. It was drizzly and miserable out, and for some reason I thought it would be just the kind of night for a horrific car crash. It was a scary thought and it made me rather uneasy, to say the least.

Then I started thinking about what would happen if we died in a crash. (I told you it was morbid. But you know what? I've lived through a boat load of morbid and it's hard not to have it surface every now and then in odd little ways.) I was comforted by the notion of going together - of not having to lose My Beloved and never feeling the suffocating pain of loss again. Ever. And, of course, I was incredibly comforted by the thought of seeing Thomas again.

Lost in my little reunion reverie, it only slowly began to dawn on me that if we really did die there would be a lot of people left behind who would be devastated. Two sets of parents would lose a child, four people would lose siblings, three people would lose an aunt and an uncle, and a lot of people would lose a friend.

But mostly I thought of my Mom. I know how devastating losing my own child was (is) and so I have a pretty good idea of what she'd go through losing me. And My Beloved too, who she thinks of as the son she never had. I pictured her being told the news, and just thinking about that moment and imagining her pain was incredibly painful to me.

I started thinking about how terrible I would feel knowing that someone I loved was hurting so much because I was gone, and how I'd wish I could reassure her - to let her know that I was okay. I would desperately want her to know that I was happy and safe and that she didn't need to cry for me.

And that was the moment I somehow managed to put myself in Thomas' tiny little shoes. I got an overwhelming sense that he wanted me to know that life goes on - that my life MUST go on - and that he doesn't want me to be sad.

That's like asking me not to eat chocolate - it just ain't gonna happen - but still, seeing things from his perspective has been incredibly eye-opening. I will always be sad that he isn't here, that I won't have a chance to see him grow into the beautiful man I know he would have been, but I know he doesn't want my life to end because his did. I know he doesn't want me to stop living, only going through the motions and merely surviving.

So I'll try hard to really live - and to live with hope, even though I sometimes struggle so desperately to find it and hold onto it.

But I'll try little one, I will.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Grief is...

I saw this on my travels through blogland and was stunned by how true each and every one of these statements is. It was so well said I thought I'd post it here too.

Grief is laughing with your children and wishing for the absent one to make the circle complete.
Grief is crying in your car at stoplights.
Some days grief makes you brutally honest; other days,grief muzzles you.
Grief reconstructs your heart.
Grief is sadness, hope, smiles and tears - rolled tightly like a snowball.
Grief makes you search past the stars and the moon for Heaven.
Grief strips you of everything you were pretending to be.
Grief gives you new priorities.
Grief opens hidden treasures from deep within your soul.
Grief allows you to empathize more deeply with others who ache.
Grief makes you unapologetically bold.
Grief is a daily companion, best dealt with by admitting you do walk with it, even after all these years.
Grief is the price of love; grief is a gift

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


God and I just had another one of our classic discussions. Me crying and raging, him saying nothing at all. He plays dirty, that God. He knows deafening silence just makes it worse, but he also knows it'll eventually make me give up, too tired to fight.

All I'm asking for is a simple answer to a simple question: why? Under the circumstances I really don't think it's too much to ask, quite frankly. I'm not asking for him to turn back time (I already did - he won't) and I'm not asking for a Lazarus-style miracle (I would, but I know that ain't gonna happen either). All I'm asking is why.

It seems supremely unfair that My Beloved and I should have to discuss things like whether or not we'll include our baby in the "2005 Babies" insert that comes out in our local paper in January. If Thomas were alive there'd be nothing to discuss. We'd do it. End of story.

But he's dead, so the decision becomes more complex.

One of us feels that Thomas is "ours" and that we don't need to share him with the world at large - a world that will never know him the way we did and can't possibly know what he meant to us. The other one feels that he deserves to be recognized, and that putting his picture in the paper is another way to somehow connect with him and to prove that he was real and loved since there's so little we can do now that he's gone.

This is not a discussion for a gloomy Wednesday morning. This is not a discussion for any day - gloomy, bright or otherwise. This is a conversation reserved especially for two people trapped in an endless hell of sorrow who keep struggling to be normal but find roadblocks like "2005 Babies" inserts thrown across their path at every turn.

And so I repeat, WHY??

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Hugs and kisses

There's nothing like a sweet, curly-headed three-year old boy running to give you a hug when you walk into a room, and there's nothing like getting a big, wet, unexpected kiss after dinner.

Thank you so much J. I needed that more than you'll ever know - and I love you too.



We got my Mom and Dad's old ping pong table on Saturday - the one my Grandma and Grandpa bought for my sister and I when we were kids. Now that My Beloved and I have it, all we have to do is look at each other and say one word: pong. It's a challenge and a call to action all rolled into one.

And it's a fabulous distraction. It's as good as cleaning, but WAY more fun.

We were really busy this weekend with family gatherings and errands, but we squeezed in a game of 'pong every change we got. I was soundly beaten by my brother in law (who helped us get the table) in my very fist match since the age of 16. I'd been harbouring fantasies that I'd be a ping pong prodigy when I held that racket in my hand for the first time in nearly 20 years, but when I really stopped to look back on my not-so-glorious 'pong career, I realized that playing and winning are two very different things.

I played a lot when I was a kid, but I don't think I ever won one single game. It didn't help that my opponents were my older sister and my father, but I still never won.

There's nothing quite like being the youngest. You get the pants beaten off of you at every turn and at everything.

And nothing's changed.

Well, until tonight. After countless trouncings, I finally beat My Beloved 21 to 18. Or maybe it was 19. But in any case, I beat him. I won. I asked for confirmation of the win (stunned as I was that I seemed to have done it) and then did a tiny little victory dance when my win was confirmed. He took quite well, and so I suspiciously asked if he threw the game, but he claims he didn't.

Which means he was beaten by a girl.

Ahhhh. Victory was never so sweet.

I highly recommend ping pong. Whacking the hell out of those little white balls is proving to be excellent therapy, and I'll gladly take all the help I can get, and victories wherever I can find them.

Monday, October 10, 2005

I'll be home for Christmas

I had a crazy idea on the way home from apple picking today. I was thinking about how My Beloved and I are united in our shared grief, and how hard it must be for anyone to understand how we feel deep down inside, or to know how much pain we're still in. And then I started thinking about all the other couples who are grieving the same kind of loss we are and how hard the coming holidays are going to be for them too.

My crazy idea will seem particularly crazy - and maybe even hurtful - to any of my family members who happen to be reading this, but I'll try to explain my thinking as best I can.

What I imagined was somehow gathering up all the wounded souls I've met here in the blogisphere and in cyberspace - those who have also lost a child - and being with them at Christmas. I mean celebrating Christmas with them instead of our families.

I imagined a group of people who don't have to put on happy faces, pretend they're not hurting, or comfort others when all they want is to be comforted themselves. I imagined a group of people who are in the same pain, mourning a child who should be celebrating his or her first Christmas but is lost to the angels instead. I imagined us all united in our grief and complete understanding of each other, and it felt peaceful. It didn't feel morbid (as it might sound, particularly if you haven't lost a child) it just felt, well, good.

I just think it would be nice to not be different for once - to be in a group where I'm no more special or pitiful than anyone else there and to know that no one was looking at me and wondering what was going on in my head. Everyone at this Christmas table would know exactly what was going on in there.

I know that when Christmas comes there's no place I'll want to be except with my family. I know a Christmas without them would be torture and I'm sure I'll look back on this crazy thought and wonder what the hell was wrong with me today.

And to be honest, I don't really know what the hell's the matter with me today. I just know that this Thanksgiving weekend hasn't felt real. I feel like I'm faking my way through it all somehow, pretending Thomas isn't missing and that nothing's wrong.

I know everyone is feeling his loss. I know they all feel that this is surreal and wrong too. And I know that being with them has definitely helped me make it through this weekend without him. But I still think it would be nice to run away for Christmas. Just this once.

Okay fine, I guess I'm really trying to run away from Christmas. But, damn it, it's coming to town whether I like it or not and it's bringing that jolly fat man with it. Ho Ho Holy crap. There better be lots of rum in my egg nog...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The joy of autopilot

My mind is a fascinating piece of machinery. On the days when I wish, more than anything in the world, I could switch off the constant sad movie playing over and over in my head, turn off the sorrow, or change the channel to something less depressing, I can't for the life of me figure out a way to do it.

But then there are days, like today, when my brain kicks into high gear and has me blissfully flying through the day on autopilot. I woke up this morning at 7:30am, quite by accident, and instead of thinking "Thomas isn't here" I thought, "I have to make the stuffing before I go to Mass". What followed was a lengthy internal discussion about what Mass I'd attend, and what chores I would do before and what ones I'd save for after.

It was like that almost all day long. No time for sadness, no time for sentimentality - just work, work, work. Nose to the grindstone. Peel those potatoes, chop that turnip, baste that turkey - MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!

The only tiny chink in my seemingly impenetrable suit of armor came while I was stirring my creamed onions. I'd been watching a relatively bad made for TV movie while preparing the vegetables, but changed it to another channel when it got dull. When whatever was on the new channel also bored me, I flipped back to the bad move. And lucky for me, I was in time to see one of the main characters have her baby...and lose it shortly after birth. I came back just in time to see the funeral.

I was completely transfixed, waiting to see if the main characters looked like I felt the day we buried Thomas. The father did a pretty good job, I think, but not the mother. I know mother pain and that wasn't it. But what else can you expect from a bad TV movie, I suppose.

I'm not even going to get into the fact that I think it was a particularly cruel movie to show on Thanksgiving weekend, nor am I going to point out that having a calf born at the end of the movie, though sweet, doesn't really make up for the loss and heartache the characters suffered earlier on. Even if it appeared that it did. Stupid characters - what do they know? A whole herd of the cutest calves on the planet wouldn't make up for my loss. Cow does NOT equal baby.

But I digress.

It was shortly after the movie that I started to cry while I was standing at the stove stirring my creamed onions. I'm pretty sure that I would have been okay if I hadn't popped back into the movie just in time to see the baby's funeral. I think that was my kryptonite. I just started thinking that Thomas should be here - he should be with me. And down came the rain.

It was just a short drizzle though, and then I pulled myself together and carried on through the rest of the day and evening, happily back on autopilot.

Even when I lit the candles I was okay. Even when I found myself staring at Thomas' candle on the table, tucked into the centerpiece in front of me, even then I was okay.

And even now I'm okay. Because I still have one more day - and one more dinner - to get through before this Thanksgiving weekend without Thomas is over.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The fire of hope

It's Thanksgiving weekend and tomorrow, the day Thomas would have turned 7 months old, will be our first holiday dinner without him.

It's funny how inconceivable it still is - how completely and utterly inconceivable it is that he's gone.

But he is, and I've missed him so terribly this week. It's incredible how fresh grief can feel when you're approaching a holiday so geared to family and togetherness. It's amazing how much it hurts...all over again.

As the week wore on, it became more and more important for me to do something special for him tomorrow, something quiet and meaningful so that I'll know he'll be as much a part of Thanksgiving as he possibly can be.

So before dinner I'm going to light a candle for Thomas and put it on our Thanksgiving table. His little light will glow bright and strong and be with us - the people I love most in the world - as we sit together and try very hard to count our blessings, knowing we all lost one of life's biggest blessings of all when we lost him.

I'm also going to light a second candle and put it in our front window in memory of all the tiny souls who've left us far too soon, and in support of the families who will be feeling those losses so keenly this weekend. I'm going to do it on the American Thanksgiving day and on Christmas too.

There's strength in numbers and so I invite anyone who has lost a baby through miscarriage or infant loss to do the same. Light a candle for our little ones on Thanksgiving Day and on Christmas.

Hopefully the glow from the candles will bring warmth to hearts feeling the chill of grief and hope to those, like me, who are struggling so hard to find it again.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Magic beams

This has been a hard week for some reason. I suspect it's because Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and even though we've made it through both of our birthdays as well as Mother's Day and Father's Day since Thomas died, this will be the first big family holiday without him.

I can remember, like it was yesterday, my Mom sitting at the table last Thanksgiving and pointing to the spot where we'd put the highchair this year. The highchair we never bought because, as it turns out, we don't need it this year after all. It was such a sweet moment that my sister even took a picture of my Mom pointing and smiling.

Remembering that moment hurts so much now that I couldn't bear the thought of being at their house for Thanksgiving dinner. I couldn't bear seeing the spot she'd pointed to - a little baby sized space between her and me - with nothing in it. So we're having dinner here instead.

No one knows why we asked everyone here, but that's the reason. I want Thanksgiving to be as happy as possible and if we go there all I'll see is that empty spot beside me that should have been filled with Thomas.

I was thinking a lot about him on the way home from visiting my Mom and Dad today, and chatting with him too. As they often do, our chat ended in tears and with me pleading with him to help me make some sense of all of this. Poor Thomas with such a needy Mommy. A needy Mommy who was crying and driving at the same time. Yipes.

As I neared home I noticed a beautiful cloud formation - the kind that has a hole punched in its centre that allows beams of light to escape and flood down to earth. I call it a bible sky because for some reason skies in the bible are always illustrated that way - with great beams of light raining down from a bank of gilt-edged clouds.

Anyway, as soon as I saw the clouds and the beams of light I knew it was a sign from Thomas. Call me crazy, but I just know it was him telling me that he heard me and that he's close by.

This sounds crazy too, but I could have sworn that one big, beautiful shaft of light was beaming right down over our house. I couldn't actually see the house at that point, but I was close enough to imagine that it was possible for the light from that sunbeam to be raining down right over top of it.

I wanted to get home to see if it really was, but just when I was 30 seconds from knowing for sure, the beam disappeared completely. It went out like a lamp.

He didn't want to spoil the magic. It was enough for me to know he was there.

I know, I know. It all seems like crazy talk, but when you've lost a piece of your heart you grasp at just about any straw that happens to come your way offering comfort. And I don't care what anyone says, a bible sky appearing, complete with a beam of light that seemed to be hovering right over my house, seems like a pretty good sign to me.

And if you think it wasn't, shhhhhhhhhh. It's been a hard week and I have a hard weekend in front of me. I need all the magic I can get right now.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Steaming up the window

I read an article last night about women in my situation. They called us "unfinished mothers". We are the unfortunate few who became mothers and then had our children tragically taken from us. Empty arms, empty cradles and broken hearts are all we need to garner both this wonderfully confusing label and membership into the world's most horrible club.

What confuses me most is that I'm not sure at what point I'll be finished, or if I'm even supposed to be. Aren't you always a mother once you give birth, no matter how long your child lives? Once a tiny soul has flickered to life within you, aren't you a mother - aren't you a mother right at that very moment and forever more?

I guess I should read the article again. Maybe it offers more clues on the second reading.

I've been thinking a lot about my experience as a mother lately. I remember feeling so lost and confused when I first had Thomas because I knew I was a mother, but I didn't know how to go about being one without my child. I kind of hoped that would get easier - if not easier to understand, at least easier to bear.

But it hasn't really. I feel like I'm going to forever be on the outside looking in, steaming up the windows of mothers who have their children with them. Those women know how to be mothers. I know I love Thomas every bit as much as any mother loves her living child, but that's all I have in common with my stroller pushing sisters. I've never changed a diaper, I've never been woken up to the sound of hungry cries in the night, I've never soothed away a bad dream or felt my child instinctively sink into me seeking comfort and the protection of my embrace. Thomas and I never had that - we didn't have any time to be mother and son.

So the question remains: what kind of a mother am I? Is love alone enough? I just still can't help feeling like a bit of a fraud - claiming the title without any of the responsibilities.

My God, I know we had our fill of responsibilities after Thomas was born, and I know in his 20 hours we had to make the hardest decision parents can make - a decision most parents never have to make - but it was all a blur of doctors, nurses, pain and tears. Believe me, I'm not minimizing it - it will take a lifetime for me to deal with just how large it all was - I'm just saying that despite it all I don't feel like I had a chance to really be his mother. I didn't have the chance to be a mother.

I was robbed.

And I hate the feeling of being a mother in name only. I really hate it. I feel so left out and so inept. I want to mother - I want to be able to do all the things I should be doing - all the things I was waiting to do for those beautiful 9 months. I want to feel like I'm part of the stroller pushers club. I don't want to be different anymore.

I wonder if this is what it feels like to be an amputee or a paraplegic - and I mean no disrespect what I say that. What I mean is that they're people just like everyone else, but deep down they know they're different. They know what they're missing and they know that in some ways they'll always be on the outside looking in. They know there's nothing they can do to change that and they know people will always look at them just a little differently.

I know differences are what make people beautiful, but there's nothing beautiful in feeling different because your baby is dead.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

A letter for Thomas

Today was already a bit of a blue day before I went to get the mail. I don't know why. That's part of the fun and excitement of grief I suppose - you just never know what mood you're going to be greeted with when you open your eyes in the morning. Today it was blue.

I stumbled my way through the day anyway, doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, writing postcards I should have written from the place we made our escape to while we were actually there, making dinner, cleaning the kitchen. The usual.

And then I went to pick up the mail. Amidst the usual assortment of flyers, real estate brochures and coupons was a letter addressed to Mr. Thomas Z____. It stopped me dead in my tracks. A letter for Thomas - a letter for my boy.

It only took me a second to figure out what it was.

A few months after Thomas died we got a rather frantic sounding note from the city saying his birth hadn't yet been registered. Apparently the hospital should have taken care of it but didn't. I don't know why, but I would prefer to think it wasn't because he died. I would prefer to think it was just the oversight of a weary clerk who let it slip through his fingers somehow, because I hate the idea of the powers that be at the hospital thinking he wasn't worthy of being registered just because he lived for less than a day.

Anyway, after I got the frantic note I filled out the papers, paid the $25 fee to have the country recognize Thomas as a person born into it and sent it off. And promptly forgot about it. The letter that came for Thomas today was a notice that his birth had been registered.

Thomas is a legally recognized Canadian citizen. He's on record as being someone who lived, albeit painfully briefly.

The letter included instructions for ordering his birth certificate, if we so desired. I think I so desire. I want every single little scrap of paper I can have that proves my son was born. I want to have every bit of documentation I can to show to anyone who will look at it. I want more than just his death certificate (of which we have two for some reason) because I want to think of him as someone who lived, not just as someone who died.

I know ordering his birth certificate won't bring him back, but it's one more thing I can do. It's one more link to him.

My work isn't done yet. Thank God.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The 80s

Today my head was filled with very adult thoughts. I don't mean x-rated thoughts, I mean very mature, grown-up, how-on-earth-did-I-get-here-and-how-on-earth-am-I-supposed-to-make-all-the-decisions-I-have-to-make kind of thoughts.

Hard core stuff.

And so I don't want to think about it anymore, nor do I want to write about it. I've been swimming in it all day and I've had enough. I'm stepping out of the pool of adulthood and drying off. With my giant purple parrot beach towel.

Tonight I'm going to be a kid. Or maybe a teenager - I liked 1988. That was a good year. I had a gigantic crush on a guy named Michael (who didn't know I existed and went on to marry someone else, if you can believe it), I loved Mel Gibson and Duran Duran (almost as much as Michael), I was the Social Coordinator on the Student Council (which meant I bought the decorations for our dances and banquets) and I sang back-up in my friend's band. Twice.

Ahhhh, those were the days. Sure, I had my woes and I cried my fair share of tears (primarily over Michael who, as we've already discussed, wasn't the least bit interested in me). And yes, I had worries and I fretted in that way only teenage girls can fret. But it really was all so simple and sweet back then.

And I had no idea I had it so good. I had absolutely no idea life was as easy as it was.

What I wouldn't give to be able to walk into my childhood home at the end of a day like today and know that a hug from my Mom would make it all go away. What I wouldn't give to know that everything is going to be okay and that things will look brighter in the morning. What I wouldn't give to have problems that a good night's sleep could solve.

Today I'm tired of my grown-up life. I'm tired of unending sorrow, I'm tired of facing an uncertain future, I'm tired of feeling like l'm in some crazy-ass twilight zone episode where the unthinkable happens, nothing makes sense and there are no rules.

I sure could use a little 1988.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

On the run once again

My Beloved and I participated in the Run For The Cure this morning. It was a 5K walk in support of breast cancer research, education and awareness programs. I did it for the cause, of course, but I did it for Thomas too.

It's sort of an obsessive-compulsive-paying-it-forward disorder, or OCPIFD, I think. I believe it's what happens when you suffer an utterly incomprehensible loss - you spend the rest of your life trying to make sense of it and trying to do "good" in memory of the person you've lost.

I thought we were good people before Thomas died, but now we're determined to prove it, I suppose. Either that or we're still trying to run away. Literally.

Anyway, just before the start of the run My Beloved filled in the "I'm running for..." portion of his runner's bib. This is what he wrote:

I started to cry almost immediately. I caught myself before I really got going (we were in a field surrounded by literally thousands of people and sobbing just didn't seem the thing to do) but it touched me so much. And it proved that he has as bad a case of OCPIFD as I do. Possibly even worse, in fact.

I "ran" for a girl on my chat board who was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant with her son. She had a double mastectomy and survived and her son is now almost a year old. I admire her strength so much - her ability to make it through what had to be an impossibly terrifying pregnancy with her sanity in tact. I know she just did what she had to do to survive and that to her it doesn't seem all that heroic, but it does to me.

It's the same kind of heroism I see in My Beloved who had the strength to write those words on his runner's bib - who had the courage, strength and sweetness to run for his son today.

He would have been an incredible father to Thomas and I know he desperately misses all the things he'd hoped to do with him. I know he dreamed of playing catch with the boy until it got too dark outside to see, and I know he dreamed of teaching him to ride his first two-wheeler, scrapes and tears and all. I know he wanted to teach Thomas right from wrong, to instill a strong work ethic in him and to one day give him all the old comics he's been saving for years. I know he wanted to tell Thomas all about his family so he'd know where he came from and what odds those who went before him faced and overcame.

I know he wanted to hold that little boy in his arms and never ever let go.

But he had to. And so today My Beloved drew from the bottomless well of strength he seems to have and ran for our Thomas instead.

And as he did I discovered that it was possible to fall even more deeply in love with him than I already am.