Friday, December 29, 2006



Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christmas #2

I wasn't sure what to expect from Christmas this year. Last year it was a struggle from that first in-store carol mid November to the moment when the last red and green vestiges of the season were finally packed away in boxes in the basement.

There wasn't much I enjoyed, except for a few gentle moments with family and the kindness of our friends who remembered Thomas in special ways - and made sure we knew.

So I had no idea what would happen this year, except that I figured it would be easier. It had to be easier. And since the lead up to the big day was much merrier than last year, I assumed I would be able to find my Christmas spirit when the sun rose on the 25th.

I think not looking for it made all the difference. I tried hard last year to make merry. I went to parties. I shopped. I wrote cards. I watched Christmas movies. I listened to Christmas carols - and I did it all under duress. I made myself do it because I thought I should, and because I thought if I forced myself to do all those normally joyful things, I'd somehow magically find the peace that had been eluding me all season long.

I didn't find it. I just wore myself out instead - and felt a million times worse because of it. I was happiest when it was all over and I could stop pretending. That's when peace finally came.

But this year was different. I did what I wanted to do, and found that it included all the things that I had to force myself to do last year. Imagine that.

Time is a great healer. Not necessarily because it's particularly kind, but because the more of it there is between you and your loss, the more proven coping mechanisms you have on hand to rely upon when the going gets tough. And the knowledge that the first Christmas didn't kill me (by some miracle) meant I could probably make it through the second too.

And I did.

But the thing is, I more than "made it through" - I actually enjoyed it.

I missed Thomas. I missed him with the same passion I always do. But I felt him with me, so close it was like I could reach out and touch him. He was with me. And I was happy. Happy.

I first felt it when we were driving to my in-laws on Christmas Eve. We had on my favourite Christmas CD (St. Michael's Choir School's Joy To The World) and we were listening to O Holy Night sung by a beautiful voice that has long since been stilled. A friend of my Dad's - someone I knew as a child. Someone who knew me before and never knew me in agony.

As I listened to his voice soar, I started thinking about all the people I've lost who were so special to me and so much a part of the happy Christmases of my past. And I felt them. I swear I did. And Thomas with them, right there in the car on the busy 401 at 4:00pm in the afternoon on Christmas Eve.

Normally those kinds of thoughts would have me sobbing, but instead I felt that one perfect moment of peace that managed to completely escape me last year. I felt it wash over me and course through me. I felt it give me strength - and I felt myself smile from the inside out.

They were there. They will always be there. In my heart, in my memory and, it would seem, in the back of the car when I'm playing Christmas carols on Christmas Eve.

I don't care if it sounds crazy. It was as real to me as this computer and my hands on its keys.

And that's what I'll remember most about this Christmas. That brief, beautiful moment in the car that I spent with the people I never dreamed I'd be sharing Christmas with. Not in a million years. And the feeling of my Thomas near me through it all.

My wish is for everyone to feel that kind of peace and joy, even for just one moment.

Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

If this doesn't make you smile...

Free Hugs

Why did he do it?

"I was the only person I knew in my own hometown, so I wanted to get out there and do something that spread a little bit of cheer and cheered me up, and this was the first thing that really came to mind."

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

For Laura...

...Laura, who's going to try the Ribbon Cookies!!

It's very exiting that someone is going to give this old family favourite a go! So exciting, in fact, that I find it necessary to post an inspirational picture of batch I made for last year's Christmas tea!

That's them on the right. The cookies in the middle were some sort of macaroon (that aren't worth making again), and the ones on the left were delicious little pecan balls which I've somehow (tragically) lost the recipe for.

Oh, cookies. I love you.

A little thing called shame

I had a no-so-nice moment the other day. One of those ugly, bitter moments that you're generally unwilling to admit to anyone that you have - or that you still have (since some people think those moments of bitter jealousy are horrendous and only acceptable right after a loss).

I opened up a Christmas card from an old friend and two small pictures fell into my lap. One was of her little boy who is, I think, 3 or 4 now. The other was a picture of her new baby girl, just 5 months old.

I've lost touch with this friend for the most part. Our only contact is at Christmastime now, which is sometimes just the way it goes. Lives are busy and move in different directions. It happens, and it's okay.

But I was still kind of stunned to see the pictures. And angry.

I sent her a picture of my Thomas in her Christmas card last year with a little note about what had happened. And then I waited to hear from her. The card I got the other day was the first contact she's made with me since, and in it she chose to put two pictures of her living, breathing, smiling children.

I was livid. I snarled and huffed quietly as My Beloved looked quizzically at me, but I was too ashamed of my instant wrath to tell him everything that was swirling around in my head. So I tucked the pictures back in the card and put it in our card holder. And quietly fumed from afar.

Yesterday I took it back out of the holder and read it again - and took a closer look at the pictures. The message she wrote inside was sweet, and I could tell she worked hard to choose exactly the right words from the millions that probably terrified her with their perceived inappropriateness. She asked me to e-mail her. She said she missed me and wanted to reconnect.

I picked up the picture of her baby girl and turned it over. On the back was her name and her age. I started thinking...

When my friend got the news of my son's death along with his picture in her Christmas card last year, she was about two months pregnant. The shocking reality of infant mortality came screaming into her life when she was in the first few nervous months of a new pregnancy. If she'd contacted me, what would she have said? What would I have said?

She must have been terrified.

The last words in her card were, "I know we are so lucky", in reference to their two beautiful children. The guilt in her words broke my heart.

I hate that things that should be easy are awkward. I hate that my sorrow dampens other people's joy. I hate that tentative hands reaching out to me are tentative. I hate that sometimes those gestures are met with hostility. I hate that my first reaction to the photo of that beautiful little girl was anger. I hate so much that I have that in my heart.

I am ashamed.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Favourite Things (SO behind I've lost count)

My Mom's Ribbon Cookies

It's just not Christmas without a ribbon cookie. My Mom made big batches of them every year, and no matter how old I get the magic of seeing those three ribbons of delicious colour in one pretty cookie never fails to make me smile. You should see if it has the same effect on you. Go ahead. Poke. Poke. Poke.

1 cup butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 salt
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 square bittersweet chocolate
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
red and green food colouring

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.

Sift flour, salt and baking powder together. Slowly add to wet ingredients until blended.

Divide the dough into three equal portions.

Add nuts and melted chocolate to one portion. Add red food colouring (until desired colour is achieved) to second portion. Add green food colouring to third portion.

Lightly grease a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf pan and line with Saran wrap, waxed paper or parchment paper, taking care to go up over the sides of the pan.

Evenly press the chocolate dough into the bottom of the pan. Gently layer the green dough on top of the chocolate, pressing evenly. Add the red dough and press, making sure the layers are smooth and pressed into the corners of the pan.

Cover with extra Saran and chill for several hours or overnight.

Using extra Saran, lift chilled dough from loaf pan and slice in half lengthwise (ending up with two long rectangles).

Slice 1/4 inch cookies from each dough rectangle and place 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Makes six dozen.

Cool on wire rack and enjoy!

Pssst - these cookies freeze exceptionally well both baked and unbaked, so make a double batch!

Monday, December 18, 2006

So that's what it takes

I love my sleep. I'm not a napper (unless I'm sick or pregnant), but I love my night time sleep with a passion. And I used to be exceptionally good at it, once upon a time.

When I was single (sleeping alone in my snug little bed) and not on blood pressure medication (necessitating at least one groggy trip to the bathroom every night), I used to fall asleep in mere minutes and stay dreamily snoozing for the entire night.

Imagine that. Sleeping all night long.

I don't have a hungry baby wailing to be fed or a toddler who wakes up crying for me in the night, and yet it's been years since I've sleep right through to the dawn's early light. Years.

I blame it on the medication, the shared (and therefore not always quiet) sleeping arrangements, occasional pregnancies (of varying lengths), and my body's inability to regulate its temperature when confronted with the heat of another warm body. All in all, it makes for nights of tossing, turning and peeing. And occasional sleeping.

But that changed on Saturday night, and I have a bowl full of bad chicken to thank for it.

Maybe it wasn't the chicken fettucine. It could have been a 24-hour bug, but I suspect fowl play. And it kept me up half the night on Friday shaking from feverish chills and using the toilet and waste basket simultaneously. If you know what I mean.

By Saturday night I was quite literally spent. Drained of just about everything, but mostly energy. And so I slept the blissful sleep of the young, closing my eyes sometimes around 11:00pm and not opening them again until almost nine hours later.

Despite missing my favourite holiday party of the year and having to spend the entire weekend before Christmas in a germ-infested exile, I look back fondly on that rotten chicken pasta because it brought me the first complete, uninterrupted night of sleep I've had for as long as I can remember.

Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't trade my occasionally noisy Beloved for anything, nor am I particularly interested in spending another 24 hours in the bathroom - and I'm still devastated to have missed my sister's drop-in Christmas party - but oh the sleep. The delicious luxury of a full night's sleep.

It was almost worth it. Almost

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A random act of kindness

For whoever sent me the sweet little garden cherub...

You didn't include your name so the only way I can thank you is to post here and hope you're reading.

I will keep planting and I'll do my very, very best to keep believing. Thank you for thinking of me at Christmas and for sending me a gift with so much meaning. It will find a special place in my angel garden in the spring. I promise.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

And now back to our regularly scheduled holiday cheer

My Favourite Things


When I think about what happened (I mean really think), I still find myself truly dumbfounded that I survived. Not physically (although given what happened to my body during and after delivering Thomas, the fact that I'm still here is relatively miraculous too), but mentally.

I am, for the most part, sane despite living through the worst hell on earth. A hell that continues, though greatly diminished in its everyday intensity, after 21 long months.

And while I'm shocked by my sanity, I know the reason I have it is because of the voices in my head.

Yours, yours and yours. And yours too. All the people who have listened and spoken and comforted and consoled and convinced and cried and prayed and laughed and sympathized and tried so desperately to understand - even when they couldn't possibly. All those little voices have stayed in my head, offering quiet comfort in the night and welcome company when I find myself alone with my sad, lonely thoughts.

Voices like these are very definitely among my favourite things:

"It is a fact that you couldn't save him. But you are also the reason he lived. Your body is just a small part of "you". You also have a mind and a soul. And your mind and your soul are not the reason he is dead. Your mind and soul are the reason you can still feel him with you."

Thank you Rosepetal.

And thank you, My Beloved. Thank you Mom, Dad and Kathy. Thank you to our families. Thank you to my dear friends, both virtual and real, both near and far away.

Thank you for your voices, but mostly thank you for not being afraid to speak.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Guilty mind

I used to be one of those cemetery visitor types. It never really made me all that sad, for some reason. I found great comfort in being where my people were, and I liked having a special place to go to where I could quietly say whatever happened to be in my heart, even if it was just a quick hello when I was just passing by. In fact, one of the hardest things about my miscarriages was that there was no place to go. No grave to visit. It devastated me.

But when Thomas died, all that cemetery goodwill changed. And with it came a boat-load of guilt - the complex kind that you think is one thing but turns out to be something else altogether.

The thing is, I have a terrible time visiting his grave. I read the blogs of other mothers in mourning who visit regularly, taking seasonal decorations and remembrances to the spots where their children lie, and I'm consumed with guilt because I don't. Hardly ever.

I went the day before Thomas' first birthday back in March (I can't even remember what I brought with me), and I didn't go again until this past Friday when I took his Christmas wreath to him. I let nine months pass between visits because the idea of going upsets me so much - and because I always get so upset when I'm there.

And I figured out why not long after I stood by his grave as the cold wind whipped through my hair and chilled me to the bone.

I talk to Thomas all the time, but when I'm at his grave it's different. I start out telling him how much I love him and miss him, but I always end up apologizing. I find myself saying "I'm so sorry" over and over and over again, and feeling the agony of a guilt I can't seem purge myself of - and don't always feel except when I'm standing by his tiny granite plaque.

I couldn't save him. My body failed him and he died. I am the reason he is dead.

I didn't do it on purpose of course, and I know there were other factors at play (including a fucked up medical system), but the bottom line is my body couldn't do what it was supposed to and my child paid the ultimate price for its failure.

And I never feel that guilt as acutely as I do when I'm standing in the cemetery staring at his name etched in stone.

I guess there's something about being right where he is - so near and yet so impossibly far away - that brings that awful guilt to the surface.

I didn't realize it until Friday. I had to pull the car over in the middle of the cemetery because I was sobbing so hard as I was trying to leave. I thought at first it was just being there, in that place, but it slowly dawned on me that it's the guilt that's robbing me of peaceful cemetery visits with my boy.

I'm not sure where that leaves me. I guess it's good that I have somehow subconsciously managed to contain the guilt - allowing it to surface only when I'm where he is - because it means my days away from the cemetery can continue to get better and better as time passes. But I also now know that ugly guilt thing, more powerful and frightening than I ever imagined, is lurking in the cemetery.

I talk to Thomas all the time, and I feel him with me - especially, and magically, when I need him to be. I keep his memory alive and honour him in small ways that make me happy and bring me peace. We have a nice little relationship, Thomas and I.

I know he doesn't blame me. I know no one blames me. But that's not really the point. The point is I blame me, and I'm not really sure how one gets over something that, from where I'm standing, seems absolutely impossible to resolve.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I swear I have more favourite things...

...and I know I'm behind two days again. Because I'm tired and a little bit of a space cadet, I'm going to cheat and kick it one word style:

DAY FIVE - chocolate

DAY SIX - cake

I like them together and separately, incidentally.

Why am I tired? A two and a half hour seminar on adoption last night. A lot of information went into our tiny little heads, and it took a very long time for it to stop swirling around before we could finally close our eyes and sleep. Which we did, but not until close to 2:00am.

And the swirl continues today.

Not in a bad way, just in a "how did I end up this grown-up" kind of way. Surreal. Once again, so very, very surreal...

At least my life is consistent.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Because you asked for it...

...I did it.

Plumpkin Heads

My favourite things - day 3 & 4

I kind of got a little behind (yes, already) so I'm combining yesterday and today in one post. It's okay to do this, by the way. I checked the official My Favourite Things rule book. Really, I did.

DAYS 3 & 4 - old home movies and the people in them

Last night after dinner and my mom and dad's we sat down to watch old home movies that we haven't seen in probably 16 years. Not since my grandmother died, in fact. My sister arranged to have all the old 8mm family movies my Mom shot in the 60s and 70s transferred to DVD just in time for Christmas.

And just in the nick of time too.

The ravages of time were starting to set in on the now ancient celluloid reels. The once vivid colours had slowly started to wash away and the crispness that I'm almost certain was once there has been reduced to soft edges and grainy blurs.

But there we are, in all our wonderfully young glory. The people of my memories. My grandparents - alive, vibrant and younger than my mom and dad are now by years. My mom and dad - not old and tired, but running, bending, lifting, kneeling and chasing after two toddlers. Kathy and me, two tiny little mites with wide brown eyes and big trusting smiles. Great aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, many now long gone. The house - the same house we sat in last night - with foreign furniture, strange lamps, wallpaper I'd long forgotten and impossibly tiny trees.

As I sat transfixed watching my early life play out in front of me on the screen, I realized that I have far more than I sometimes think I do. I'm ashamed to admit that I'd forgotten how rich my life has been - how much I've really had. I've been consumed with loss for what seems like forever, and somehow I allowed myself to forget the things I do have - that I've always had. And the proof is captured on those films.

Seeing the gentleness in my mother's touch and the love in my father's face brought me to my knees. Watching myself, at two on Christmas Eve, wrap my arms around my Grandfather's neck in the kind of hug only love knows how to give broke my heart. Seeing my face peek out from behind my sister's back and stare up at her with utter awe and devotion made my want to lay down and cry.

I've had so much. I've lost so much, but my God, I've been blessed.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

My favourite things - day 2

DAY TWO - Saturdays

1. Bacon and eggs
2. Pajamas for clothes
3. Large format comics
4. Afternoon cooking shows
5. An entire day with My Beloved
6. Not having to cook dinner
7. Old movies
8. Staying up past my bedtime
9. Falling asleep on the couch
10. Knowing there's another day to do/enjoy the above

Friday, December 01, 2006

My favourite things - day 1

To give credit where it's due, I freely admit that I have stolen the idea for the next 25 blog entries from My Beloved. He thought it would be cool to do a Christmas countdown by way of a list of 25 of his favourite things.

What better way to focus on being happy than THAT, I say? And so, I copy.

(I think he's actually going to start on day 2, by the way, since right now he's sound asleep on the couch in front of the TV and there's only 10 minutes left of day 1. But we'll forgive him because in addition to having excellent ideas, he's very cute).

DAY ONE - Advent Calendars

Oh the little joys of Christmas when you're just a little girl. Picking open tiny cardboard windows to see what picture, bible verse or Christmas greeting was hidden beneath them was the highlight of every December morning when I was a child.

I would gaze longingly at that huge double window hiding the Christmas day message as I dug my fingernail under the lowly first few numbers, knowing that until I was into double digits Christmas was at least a good hundred years away.

I got a new Advent calendar every year, sometimes from my Grandma and sometimes from my Mom and Dad, and with it came the thrill of knowing Christmas was really and truly finally coming. I was holding the proof of this miraculous fact in my pudgy little hands. At last.

I can't remember any one calendar. They've blurred into a sea of donkeys, stars, snowy mountains, steeples, mangers, shepherds, reindeer, baby Jesuses and Santas in my memory. But the feeling of anticipation before opening each window - and the sheer brute force of willpower (the intensity of which I haven't seen since) that kept me from opening up the whole lot of them all at once - is what I remember vividly.

And it's why I bought myself a pretty winter snow scene Advent calendar this year. I decided it was time to bring back as much of the magic of Christmas as I could, in any way I could. And an Advent calendar seemed like a pretty good way to start.

The funny thing is, my sparkly winter scene isn't the only Advent calendar I have this year. The other day My Beloved came home with a Santa ornament for our tree that doubles as a Christmas countdown, and my sister sent me a very cute sock monkey-themed countdown wheel that's currently hanging on our powder room doorknob.

After probably close to two calendarless decades, I suddenly - magically - have three. And the little girl in me couldn't be happier.

After all, it's the first bit of Christmas magic I've felt in what feels like a very, very long time.

In case you were curious, the picture under today's window was a big, fat snowflake.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The blankie

Today I did an odd thing. And I'm not sure why.

My neighbour was over with her 6-month old daughter this afternoon, and when baby J got a little fussified I volunteered to get a blanket to put on the floor so she could lay about and do her baby thing there for a while (since she'd abruptly stopped enjoying being held).

I ran upstairs to the room that once belonged to my little boy and pulled a cozy blanket from the top shelf of the closet. It was, of course, Thomas' blanket. It's been in that closet since the day I received it from a very sweet friend who made it for my Peanut and sent it up to us before he was born.

It's a soft, two-sided fleece blanket with moon and stars and big fluffy clouds on one side and plain white on the other. My friend's handwritten note was still pinned to it with instructions on how to wash it - and how to use it to cuddle up with my Peanut.

I froze for a moment, then unpinned the note and headed back downstairs.

I fought with myself all the way down. Don't use it. Use it. Don't use it. Use it. Don't use it. Use it.

Finally logic prevailed. Thomas is never going to use the blankie, so why not lend it to the little girl next door for a few minutes. What harm could it do? Other than break my heart just a tiny bit, of course.

I paused on the last step before rounding the corner, clutching the blanket to my chest for dear life. Do or die. Round the corner and it's all over - baby J's mom will see the blanket and I won't be able to explain my sudden decision to use a sheet instead. If she sees it and me holding it, it's going on the floor and a real live baby will actually use it.

A baby that's not my own.

I turned the corner, spread the blanket on the floor and smiled and cooed at baby J.

It felt good and horrendous all at the same time. Kind of like that brief feeling of relief you have between stubbing your toe and actually feeling the pain.

I've thought about that blanket a lot. Often when I'm in the closet rummaging around for something else I'll reach up and touch it, thinking about what might have been. I don't have any idea why today I finally got it out and used it.

But somehow I think it was a good thing.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Well looky here!

Hey, maybe my
think happy and be happy
theory wasn't too far off base.

All I have to do is stay out of hair salons...

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Short lived...

So, it appears I lasted all of two days with the happy talk. I tried. I did. It's not my fault I needed a haircut.

I'm happy with the job Eduardo did. That must count for something, right?

Friday, November 24, 2006

The sad story lady

My hairdresser, the wonderful Debra who gave me a such good cut along with the understanding that only someone who has also struggled to have a child can give, left the salon. Her whereabouts are unknown - at least to me.

I had no choice but to try someone new.

Here's how it went...

Enter Eduardo, a young man in his late 20s or maybe early 30s, all pimped out in trendy gear with a multicolour fauxhawk, overly plucked eyebrows and an earring. We shake hands, discuss my cut then head to the sink. He washes my hair and gives me the best head massage I've had at a salon. Ever. I'm a happy girl. We move back to his station and the cut gets underway. We make idle chatter for a few minutes. Finally, it happens...

Eduardo: (Innocently) "So, do you have any kids?"

Me: (Shifting uncomfortably) "Uh...well.....uh....I have a sad story. We had a little boy, but he died."

Eduardo: (Very quickly) "I'm sorry."

Me: (Thinking: awkward, awkward, awkward, awkward, awkward.)

Eduardo: "How old was he?"

Me: "He was only 20 hours. He was just a baby."

Eduardo: (With a trace of relief) Oh, okay. (Brief pause) I know that's bad, but can you imagine how hard it would be if he was like two or something?

Me: (Shocked, flabbergasted, outraged, hurt, angry - and utterly paralyzed) "Yes. I know. After our son died, the mother of a friend of the family told me that she understood our pain because she lost a son when he was two. I told her I couldn't understand HER pain because I couldn't imagine going through what she did, having her child with her for so long."

Eduardo: "Yes, I mean you really know the child by then - it must be awful."

Me: (Finally regaining my wits) "Well yes, but it's also very hard not to know your child at all and to have no memories of him to hang onto. That's pretty hard too."

Eduardo: (Looking a little shocked and contrite) "Oh. Yes. I guess so. Well there's good and bad both ways I guess."

Me: (Wondering what the good part is and laughing a soft, humorless laugh) Yes. Yes there is.

Yes, yes, yes. He meant well and it was a shocking thing to hear and he didn't know what to say. Blah, blah, blah, fucking-blah.

I will never understand people's need to try to convince you that what you've gone through isn't as bad as it could have been when they don't have a fucking CLUE what it's like. You take your heart (or the thing you love more than anything you've ever loved in your entire life), rip it out of your body, hand it over to strangers and let them bury it under six feet of cold spring earth. THEN you can tell me how hard it is or isn't to lose your baby - even if he was only 20 hours old.

Oh Debra. Where did you go???

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Because everyone needs a little magic now and then


1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups sweetened coconut
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (it has been suggested to me that chopped maraschino cherries are a good Christmas substitute for nuts if you're not a big nut fan or have nut allergies. I haven't tried this, but it sounds good to me!)

Mix graham cracker crumbs and melted butter in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan until the butter is completely incorporated into the crumbs and there are no dry patches. Press the crumb mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of the pan.

Pour entire can of sweetened condensed milk on top of the crumb mixture in an even layer.

Add next three ingredients (in order) in even layers, pressing down gently but firmly after the last layer (not so much that you get covered in goo, but enough that the nuts and chocolate chips are slightly embedded in the coconut and condensed milk).

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Cool completely, then cut into squares.

These are some serious goodness (and very, very easy to make). Bake at your own risk.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


In my quest to make a happy life (as per my post yesterday) I'm going to talk only about happy things today.

I realize it's not this easy - I know I can't trick myself into forgetting what I've lost and I don't want to forget him - but I think I need to focus more on what makes me happy. I think I need to dwell on that as much as I've been letting myself dwell on what makes me sad. Which seems to be so much. Too much.

Maybe I can rewire my brain by forcing happy thoughts to the front of my mind. And if I can't, the worst that will have happened is that I'll have thought of a whole bunch of happy things.

And so here we go. Get ready - it's all happy, all the time. Today, anyway.

1. This afternoon I made Magic Cookie Bars for a lunch I'm having with friends tomorrow. I waited as long as I possibly could before "testing" a little (kind of big) piece. It was still hot - a mass of gooey, sticky, sweet, chocolate-y goodness. I stood in the kitchen cramming my pie hole full of it, and licked the graham cracker crumbs and melted chocolate chips off my fingers like a kid when I finished. It was good. So good. And I was happy.

2. Last night after My Beloved fell asleep, my sweet old kitty hopped up on the bed for a cuddle. She usually likes to wait until we're both asleep before burrowing her way under the covers, but I guess she couldn't wait. I rolled over, my back pressed against the warm strength of My Beloved's, and made a little hidey hole in front of me for Lucy to crawl into. She quickly obliged and snuggled down beside me, purring. I lay there feeling so warm and safe, sandwiched between the love of my life and the furry little friend I've known for 10 years. And I was happy.

Okay, that's only two things. But as they say, a journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step. I two-stepped it tonight, and I think that's excellent progress.

Monday, November 20, 2006


I went to a performance of Mozart's Requiem with my Mom, Dad and sister yesterday afternoon. We haven't done something like this in so long. Someone's always sick or too busy, or I'm too sad, or we intend to it and just never get around to arranging it. But we pulled it off yesterday. It felt like I'd traveled back in time to simpler days when trying to escape from sorrow wasn't my primary pastime.

Listening to the music was a wonderful distraction. It's a terrible cliche, but it truly did transport me, taking me away from the cares of my world for 56 lovely minutes. I felt uplifted by its beauty, even though it was music for a funeral mass. And even though the concert took place in the church where we held Thomas' funeral. For some reason I was able to divorce myself from that reality, despite the fact that yesterday was the first time my family has been to that church with me since that sad, sunny day in March 2005. It was the first time we'd all sat together in those pews since that awful day.

But although I made a mental note of that fact, it didn't bother me. I was peaceful and content.

I even wandered off on a brief flight of fancy, wondering if it would be possible to swing having Mozart's Requiem Mass performed in its entirety at my own funeral. If it's possible to laugh one's ass off after death, I would be doing so as my very long and ridiculously melodramatic funeral dragged on and on in all its musical splendor.

I don't suppose anyone else would see the humor in an extra long and drama-filled funeral, but it sure would be funny to me. You know, what with me being joyfully reunited with Thomas and everyone I've loved and lost, sitting on my cloud in the happy place.

But I digress.

Midway through the concert I began to think loftier, headier thoughts (ones that didn't involve funeral planning) when I caught sight of the hands of the frail old lady beside me. She was one of those old people that you can't believe is still alive. She looked like bones loosely wrapped in spotted crepe paper and she nodded off peacefully about halfway into the Requiem.

I looked at her hands, then looked at my own. Hers were gnarled with wear, the translucent skin clinging to tendons and swollen knuckles. Mine were firm, pink and plump. A few scars here and there, but otherwise strong and capable looking.

There we were, side by side. Old and young. And I started thinking about how much life I still have - or presume I have - and how there's still so much beauty to be drunk in and savored.

This tiny, frail lady suddenly seemed so strong to me. She was there too, just like me, enjoying the music on a chilly Sunday afternoon. Living her life and enjoying her days. I don't know what sorrows she endured during the course of her life, but there she was just the same, being lulled into a restful slumber by beautiful harmony written hundreds of years ago.

I want that too. I want to stop living in a cloud of sorrow and misery punctuated by moments of sun and cheer. I want to stop wishing for someone to turn back time. I want to once again be aware of the beauty around me and I want to make the world beautiful while I'm here. I don't want to eke by, barely surviving for the rest of my life because sorrow cut me off at the knees and killed the light within me.

I can't do that to me, to My Beloved, to our future - or to Thomas. He can't be the reason I died inside.

I want to be a frail old lady at a Sunday afternoon concert closing my eyes and dreaming to the music, remembering a life that I made happy.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I have no answers

It's been an unnerving week. So many losses; tiny little lives that have come and gone in the blink of an eye.

None of them mine, by the way. But each of them touched my life in a way that has surprised me. I thought I was mostly resistant to other people's sorrow, hardened by a thick protective shell that enabled me to express sympathy without having the unpleasant side-effect of absorbing any of their pain.

But I guess I'm not. Or not anymore, anyway. Maybe I'm strong enough to allow other people's pain in now. Or maybe I'm too weak to fight it off. I don't know.

But I do know I'm grieving right along with two dear friends as well as a total stranger who contacted me through my website. Three babies lost in one week.

I sometimes wonder about those little souls and what they feel. If you believe, like I do, that life begins at conception, then those little souls that lived for a matter of weeks or days were real people whose earthly lives will never be more than just those few precious moments.

What is that like? What is heaven to them when they haven't known anything at all of earth?

I complain about people with those moronic bluetooth phone things stuck in their ears, and people who don't signal lane changes, and dog owners who don't properly pick up their dog's poo (a story for another blog), and yet my life is more beautiful, more full, and more complete - even in its sorrow and imperfection - than those little souls could even fathom possible.

Why am I here and they're not? Why am I sitting here bathed in the light of my laptop screen typing a rambling journal entry into the blogosphere when little lives - some that will never be known even to their parents - are starting and ending all over the planet.

Why did I live when Thomas died?

Why am I so completely unstrung and affected by these losses?

Maybe because it's devastating to me to intimately know the pain my friends are feeling tonight. Maybe because I remember that yawning emptiness and despair after my first miscarriage, and how everything seemed to hurt me. Maybe because my tolerance for loss and sorrow has reached an all time low and I can't bear that it keeps happening to people I care about.

I don't know.

I just know I'm thinking about my two friends and that sad stranger who are all mourning profound losses. And there's not a damn thing I can do to make it better.

All I can say is that I'm so very, very sorry.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's coming soon - I promise

The website, I mean.

Uh, and now I'd better get back to my crocheting...!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

So instead, I made another monkey

Because I was sad and Kokopuff (the brown monkey) needed a friend, I crocheted a second monkey (who magically turned out much larger for some reason). He's kind of sock-monkeyesque in a deliberate homage to the sock monkeys of the 1970s that my Grandma made with my sister and me one sweet Saturday afternoon back in the day.

Cozy memories and a cozy little monkey.

You do what you have to do, right?

And the shiraz worked wonders too, in case you were curious.

Friday, November 10, 2006

10 Ways to cope with a second failed IUI

1. Stand in the closet and cry into a towel until you can't possibly cry any longer.
2. Go shopping.
3. Look at pretty Christmas things that you don't need and pretend that you're rich enough to buy them all.
4. Recognize the emptiness in pretty things because what you really want can't be bought in a store - but enjoy looking at the pretty things just the same.
5. Buy tupperware on sale.
6. Buy two great big bars of dark chocolate.
7. Buy sock monkey coloured yarn and plan to make your crocheted monkey a little friend (because even crocheted monkeys probably need friends).
8. Stop at a wine tasting on the way home.
9. Buy a bottle of shiraz.
10. Make plans to attend a seminar on adoption in an effort to show the gods that you cannot be broken or beaten, no matter what manner of shitstorm might come your way.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Manufactured memories of a 20-month old boy

Most of the time when I think of Thomas, I remember him as he was, as I knew him; a tiny, perfect little baby. He's frozen in time, always my tiny baby.

But sometimes I don't just remember him as he was. Sometimes I think of him as he might be.

I just realized today that he's growing in my imagination, just as he would be if he was really here. I've been doing this for 20 months without really thinking about it. Children of friends and family have served as reference points. I can imagine how big he'd be, what he'd be capable of doing and the things he might be saying all based on what I've seen other children do.

I can't decide if this is crazy or not. Or if it is crazy if it's something I can stop. Or something I even want to stop. It's excruciating imagining that sandy-haired little mop top toddling through the house after me. But those short moments of reverie make me feel connected to him in some strange way.

Make no mistake, those moments hurt like hell when they end and I realize I'm standing here alone with just the ghost of a boy in my head, but they're still worth it in some really strange way.

Maybe it happens because usually when someone dies you have memories to hold onto - moments you had together that you can look back on and take comfort from. Things you can smile about, even through your sorrow and longing. Memories, they always say, are the things that keep people alive after they've gone.

Except I don't have any. I was robbed.

So maybe what I'm doing, in some bizarre, retroactive sort of way, is trying to create what didn't happen so that I can still have the comfort of memories. I'm owed some comfort, after all, even if I have to manufacture memories to get it.

Or maybe I really am just plain nuts.

Hard to tell. Hard to tell.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Whose life is it anyway?

I think the Clomid is catching up with me. The blissful four days of near normalcy appear to be coming to an end as PMS settles in for the long haul.


I dunno. Maybe it's the rain. Or maybe it's the nearly three and a half years of TTC with only dead babies to show for it. Hard to tell really.

And if you think that's morbid, you should crawl into my head for a few minutes and see what things are really lurking behind this mask of sanity. In fact, My Beloved and I just shared a giggle over an advertisement for a Thomas the Tank Engine Christmas tree train set a few minutes ago.

Editorial note: If you're in the family way, please seriously reconsider naming your child the same name as a very popular toy. Particularly if it's a beloved toy that every store seems to think warrants a TON of display space with that name screaming out at you in all font sizes and colours.

The copy from the ad begs us to consider, "how wide-eyed they'll be to see a battery powered Thomas going around the Christmas tree".

No freakin' kidding. Wide eyed, pale faced, slack-jawed...

Oh how we laughed.

It's weird in our world, but amazingly normal to us. And I have no idea how we got here.

When we were having lunch in Niagara Falls last month, we shared conspiratorial eye rolls as the tourist at a table behind us complained loudly to the waitress that he didn't get the extra olives he'd asked for. He'd only gotten one. ONE olive. Can you believe it? One when he'd clearly asked for extra.

You'd have thought the world was ending.

My Beloved, a sarcastic smirk on his face, quietly told me he should complain to the waitress that he got a dead baby.

I nearly spit my soup all over the table. It was classic.

And something I never in a million years dreamed I'd ever, ever be laughing at.

Seriously, how did we get here?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Monkeying around

I learned a few things this weekend...

1. You can't drown out sad thoughts with opera on the car stereo. The Barber of Seville will not push unwanted memories of your baby shower from your brain, no matter how loud you crank the volume.

2. Miraculously, sometimes Clomid gives you a grace period and you have two or three very, very, very happy days in a row. Well, not counting the brief opera fiasco.

3. I can make a monkey in a weekend. And I can fall ridiculously in love with said monkey who I somehow find oddly comforting.

4. I can overlook the tiny flaws in a crocheted monkey but I can't overlook flaws in myself.

5. The monkey is lucky.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Another cop out

Since I'm still in a horticultural sort of mood and still somewhat addled and incapable of a thoughtful post (let's blame it on the Clomid again, shall we?), why don't we all have a look at what happened to my Silver Leaf Dogwood shrub this fall.

I bought it in the spring - on my birthday, to be exact - and planted it a few days later. It grew and thrived, probably doubling in size, even though it was planted (somewhat stupidly) in a bit of a ditch that collects an alarming amount of rain water.

Sometime in August it started to turn a little pink. Then it turned really pink. By the time the leaves dropped it was virtually completely fuschia. Bright, bright, bright fuschia.

Surely that's not right, is it?

My Mom and Dad had a big old dogwood bush when I was a kid and it always stayed that delicate ivory and celery green all spring, summer and fall. I'm sure it did. Surely I'd remember a bright pink bush in the backyard, wouldn't I?

I've seen a number of dogwoods during my walks around the neighbourhood, and none of them went pink so it can't be something environmentally specific to this area (like red clay, as I first suspected).

So what's the deal? Anyone? Anyone?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

It's a cop out, but at least it's pretty

Good God. I've started this post three times now.

I have many things to say and nothing's coming out quite right.

I can't even make it to the next paragraph. Started that twice.


Perhaps I'll just leave you with a picture of Thomas' tree since my words are failing me so cruelly tonight.

Last year the tree turned red, but as you can see this year it's orange and yellow instead. I knew he would have been a mischievous little imp, that boy.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

It was fun, but I'm glad it's only once a year

Another Halloween come and gone. Surely one of the cruelest holidays for bereaved parents with no little ones at home.

We treated an endless stream of adorably clad princesses, pirates, monkeys, witches, tigers, assorted dead things and even a chicken during the course of the evening. We figure we welcomed at least 80 little Halloweenies last night.

80 children that belonged to other people.

And oddly enough, we had a really good time. After all, what could be cuter than a tiny lion peering wide-eyed and unafraid at the giant spider on your door. Or "pido", as she called it.

I guess if you can't manage a live child of your own, having 80 of them come to your door isn't half bad.

Except that it kind of is. It kind of hurts like tabasco sauce in an open wound when you're on the outside looking in at a holiday made especially for the one thing that seems increasingly out of your reach.

But we made the best of it, laughing with our neighbours as we sat on the porch and handed out Tootsie Rolls and Doritos to the spooky hoards.

I thought about my Thomas a lot last night. He and I had a quiet little chat in the living room before things got too busy. I told him he'd have been the cutest little trick or treater on the street, and I told him for the 9 millionth time how much I love him and how desperately I miss him.

Then I bundled up and went outside with My Beloved and smiled into the night; into the street lit with pumpkins and alive with the sound of shrieks, squeals and children's laughter.

Monday, October 30, 2006

I know you meant well, but shut up

So it finally happened. The ugly old, "maybe it's not meant to be" phrase finally lurched its way into our quiet little world of loss and infertility. A friend of the family uttered the unthinkable to my mother.

She meant well. She's a sweet, sweet woman who has been nothing but kind and wonderful to my parents, particularly since Thomas was born.

But all good intentions aside, it was an awful thing to say. Just awful.

Those words have no place coming from anyone but me or My Beloved. We decide when things are winding down - when hope is well and truly lost - not someone else. Not anyone else but us.

We're very well aware that people all around us are getting pregnant with ease. We're well aware that both of us are another day older each time we rise with the sun. We're well aware that I have problems that make conceiving difficult. We're well aware that my biological clock is winding down.

We're well aware that maybe it's not meant to be. Trust me.

We don't need people to remind us. Those thoughts run through my mind in a disturbing and unrelenting inner monologue 24-hours a day. I know what we lost. I think about him all the time. And because I know what we lost, I know how devastating it is that we can't seem to have that gift bestowed upon us a second time. I'm painfully, in fact agonizingly, aware that that we might never have another child of our own. I know that. I get it. I'm not stupid nor am I so Clomid-addled that it hasn't occurred to me that all this might be for naught.

Maybe it's not meant to be.

But please, please don't remind me.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Good to know, good to know.

Under no circumstances should you attempt to make apple pie when you're so hopped up on fertility medications that you can barely think straight, you're beyond tired and you hate pretty much everyone who breathes.

I'm quite serious about this. Don't do it. It'll end in tears and a spectacular kitchen tantrum compete with the pitching of dough, the whipping of pantry doors with a damp dish towel and swearing that would make a sailor blush.

And while you're at it, don't listen to that snobby Hampton bitch ina garten (who is too chic to use capitals, sweetie) who claims you can make pastry dough in your stand mixer. You can't. At least not the "No Fail Pastry" recipe Crisco has on the back of its package. It does fail - and quite dramatically - when you attempt to make it in your stand mixer.

You'll peer deep into the bowl of sticky, yellowish dough and wonder if a little extra flour will do the trick. But it won't. It'll appear as though the dough has been repaired (at which point a little self-satisfied gloating might ensue) but it's not actually fixed.

Not buy a crumbly long-shot.

It won't roll out. It'll just crack and fall apart. And then fall apart some more. It will mock you like you've never been mocked before until finally in a fit of rage you'll throw the whole works into the garbage, seething and spewing like a madwoman all the while.

Please don't ask me how I know all this. Just trust me, I do.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Where am I?

I'm lost in a sleepy, irritable and slightly bloaty Clomid haze.

If you see me wandering helplessly through the streets looking confused and a little pissed off, please give me a cookie and point me in the general direction of home. Or the closest bakery.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


We were laying about like sloths on Saturday night watching something or other on TV, when a wedding scene flickered onto the screen. The divorced parents of the bride and groom were making awkward small talk when one ex asked the other, "Are you happy?"

The response was, "Of course I'm happy - we're at our son's wedding."

And that's the point at which my mind, as it so often does these days, wandered off on a little journey of its own. It went to the land of "there'll be no wedding for your son" very rapidly, before finally coming to rest in "you might not live to see your grandchildren" town.

Seriously. It's theoretically quite possible that I'll die before my grandchildren are born. If I got pregnant right now I wouldn't give birth until after my 37th birthday. If we started adoption proceedings right this second it would be longer than that. If our child ends up on the same timeline as we are for starting a family, I'd be in my mid 70s before its child was born.

I'm not planning on dying at 74, I'm just saying it's not beyond the realm of possibility to think that I won't last that long.

And even if I do, I'll be old. Way old. The grandparents of my generation were young when we were born (relatively speaking) and in many cases lived well into our adulthood. I lost my last living grandparent when I was 34, just a few months before giving birth to Thomas.

For my grandchild to have the same experience, I would have to live to be 108.

Call me pessimistic, but I have my doubts about my ability to manage that feat. I already feel old in body and spirit. I'm not sure if I can handle another 72 years.

This is the way it is these days. People are staying in school longer and working hard at building their careers, and as a result they're getting married and having children much later than they used to. I'm not saying education and careers are a bad thing. Not at all. I'm merely pointing out that in our quest to achieve personal greatness and self fulfillment before our time to do so runs out, we may have overlooked something very important.

That is, of course, that time will run out on something else.

We are older mothers - wiser maybe, and with much more life experience to pass on to our children - but we won't be here for them for as long as many of our own mothers will be here for us. We'll be great-grandparent age when our first grandchildren are born. We won't dance at their weddings. And we won't have a chance in hell of being in one of those once-popular four-generation photo shoots.

I'm not trying to start a debate and I'm not being judgmental - honest. I did it all too. I went to University and started a career and always felt young enough to conquer the world. Mortality, scrambled eggs and the rapid approach of 40 were a million miles away.

Until suddenly they weren't.

I don't regret the experiences I had and the choices I made before I married My Beloved at 32. I loved going to school and my early working years were fun and exciting. I grew into the person I am today because of the life I chose.

I just wish I wasn't so old.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Things I love

In no particular order...

Cake. I love cake. In fact one of my very first blogs was about my overwhelming affection for cake. Almost two years later my love for cake is still as strong as ever. I can never resist its sweet siren song. Seriously. Never.

I didn't take this picture and I don't know exactly where in Muskoka, Ontario it is, but that region is one of the most beautiful in the world and a place that holds some of my dearest childhood memories.

Thomas' angel wings, high atop our Christmas tree last year. I found them at Canadian Tire, of all places, and knew that they had to have a place of honour on our tree - which is where they'll find themselves this year and every year.

Me Beloved tending the beets in our little vegetable garden. He's so proud of that garden (he designed and built the frame and is usually responsible for the majority of the harvesting) and I love it because it reminds me of how much I love him.

Lucy. Sweet, simple Lucy. She's been a loyal and loving companion to me for almost 10 years. She's always there with a deafening purr when I'm desperate for something to cuddle and all she asks for in return is a Lucy size share of the bed, a few treaties every once in a while and breakfast RIGHT NOW. BREAKFAST NOW. NOW. NOW. NOW.

This always makes me laugh - the whole idea of it. I asked my sibling to put together a vegetable platter for a BBQ My Beloved and I threw in the summer, and this is what we ended up with. A weird fruit guy. Oh, and some vegetables too. She never fails to disappoint, my sibling.

Last Christmas was unspeakably difficult for a million different reasons, but this moment - this shot of my Dad by the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve - was one that brought me a momentary feeling of peace. I had so few last year, and I'm glad I captured this one on film to remind me that even in the midst of hell there are the briefest glimpses of heaven if you look hard enough to find them.

There. That ought to help me make it through another round of Clomid.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The remedy for wallowing

Okay, so you know what helps to combat wallowing in self pity (other than wallowing in a vat of chocolate)? Spending $75 on yarn and Christmas decorations at Michael's.

I was practically giddy.

We have a system, My Beloved and I, that allows this kind of frivolous spending. It's called "fun money" and we each get a certain amount of it every month that we can spend on absolutely anything that tickles our fancies. And for me, the more unnecessary and cozy-inducing, the better.

I needed the yarn, but the tiny silver Christmas tree and accompanying ornaments (including a tiny tree skirt, a tiny garland, tiny balls, and tiny little lights)? Nope - didn't need any of that. But I pictured it up in our little sitting room (converted from a nursery oh so long ago now) and I pictured My Beloved and I curled up on the futon watching It's a Wonderful Life in the glow of the tiny, fully dressed tree - and I had to have it.

I'm not going to apologize for this either. I know I could have put the money to better use. I could have donated it or bought a pair of dress pants (which I'm desperately in need of) or gotten a much-needed haircut. But aside from the fact that none of those things are supposed to come out of our fun money, I needed to do what I did. I didn't need the things themselves, but I needed to have them just the same.

Trust me, it makes sense.

When you're sad and struggling so much and you find a way to make yourself happy and excited, even for a few minutes, you do it. And you revel in it. You buy the package of tiny sparkling candy canes for your little silver Christmas tree and you don't look back.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

As a matter of fact I'm NOT sorry

There are some days that find me desperate to wallow in self pity. I'll have used up all my mental resources, and the only thing left to do that I know will please me (and appease the beast of grief within me) is to feel sorry for myself. Mope, sigh, stare out the window and wish I had someone else's life. Someone who didn't happen to breed only dead children.

I don't feel like crying. It's not that I'm on the verge of tears. I just feel like acknowledging this ungodly shit storm is the right thing to do. Some days it refuses to be ignored and pretending it doesn't exist doesn't work.

It's there. It's right there. It's always fucking RIGHT. THERE. I can't escape from the sorrow of three lost babies or the frustration, guilt and shame of not being able to get pregnant again.

I know there's more to my life than this. I'm not just a walking uterus. I'm married to my soul mate and our life together, shit storm aside, is one blessed by the heavens. And I'm grateful for that - and for all the things in my life that are so unquestionably good, pure and true.

But the ugly facts remain. And they haunt me. I can keep the attic door closed on the ghosts for a little while, but on days like today when the skies are gray and filled with endless drops of rain, I have to unlock the door and let them come screaming the hell out.

This part of my life isn't pretty. It's awful. It tears me apart on a daily basis and forces me to work harder than I've ever had to work in my life just to stay above water.

Some days I slam the windows shut on the sounds of crying babies. Some days I slam the windows shut on the sounds of children playing. Some days I turn away when I see a mother with her child. I can't bear to hear what I've lost. I can't stand to see what I don't have.

This is the ugly truth.

I'm so lonely for my boy and so bruised and battered by the happiness around me that continues to stay frustratingly and achingly out of my reach.

And today I'm not going to apologize for it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Like ships that pass in the night

My Beloved and I were at Costco today picking up 15 tons of toilet paper and a shed full of dishwashing liquid. You know, the usual.

I was shoving the massive, and slightly overloaded cart along the book aisle when I looked up and saw a girl I worked with years ago coming towards me. The last time I saw her I was about 5 months pregnant with Thomas. Like today, we ran into her while shopping and, having heard the news through my cousin who she still worked with at the time, she excitedly rushed over to ask me all about my pregnancy and to congratulate us.

I hadn't seen her since, until today. And it was a very, very different encounter indeed.

As I looked up, I saw her quickly look away - off to the side and down to a stack of books which allowed her to keep walking towards me without having to acknowledge me. I did the same. Our eyes met for just a fraction of a second but I know she saw me. With a strange, unspoken understanding we quietly passed each other by. There was too much to say and not enough courage or energy for either of us to utter a single word. I was as guilty as she was for not stopping to chat, but it made me sad just the same.

These little moments are the ones that remind me that I'm different. They're the moments that make me want to run outside and scream - throw a 36-year old tantrum that you wouldn't believe. Break things. Hit things. Cry.

But they're also the moments that help to remind me that there are a lot of people who don't care that I'm different, and who embrace the person I've become since Thomas died. They're the ones who are always there when I need them and who unflinchingly look me straight in the eye, no matter what.

I don't blame the girl who passed me by today. In fact, I'm sure I'd have done the very same thing if I was her. No one likes awkward moments and extending belated sympathies. Not this kind of sympathy, and especially not in the book aisle of Costco.

But to everyone who hasn't passed me by, thank you. I am where I am today because you've been brave enough to walk with me every step of the way.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


Thinking of my three little Peanuts with so much love, today and always.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The great escape

We ran away from home for a few days this week, all the way to Niagara Falls.

That's me. The Falls are back there somewhere too.

I highly recommend running away from home every now and then. It's not great for the waistline (I ate pretty much everything that wasn't nailed down - mmmmm, cheesecake) but it's very, very good for the soul.

Now go on, you go somewhere too. And let me know what you had for dessert.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The joy of multicoloured yarn

And tassels - the joy of tassels too! I just figured out how to make them (shut up, I'm slow) and I'm now I'm fully immersed in a passionate love affair with tassels.

As for the yarn (which I'm also loving), why is it that when it's multicoloured it's called ombre?

Ombre. It sounds like it should be wearing a black Stetson and reeking of whisky and horse manure. It makes no sense to me. If I researched the origin of the word it might, but I can't be bothered, so I'll just continue to enjoy the dark, dangerous sounding yarn that ends up looking so pretty when it's crocheted. And especially when it's made into tassels.

Mmmmm. Tassels.

P.S. Since some of you asked (and I'm going to assume you weren't just being kind to the crazy yarn lady) I'm thinking of setting up a separate website where you can buy the hats. God knows it would be useful to have an actual legitimate reason to keep making them (since I can't stop and it's starting to get very cluttered and yarny around here) so if someone's willing to buy them, we'll all be happy. Me and the hats, I mean.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

You'd never know it to look at me

For some reason most of the time we only have half the curtains open in our bedroom. Other than being pathologically lazy, I really have no explanation for this odd phenomenon. I always throw open the right hand side - where the open part of the window is - to make sure that air can properly circulate through the room (I'm a little pathological about the need for constant fresh air too, so much so that once I woke up in the middle of the night to find it snowing a little inside our bedroom). But since the left side of the window has no air-based function, I don't bother uncovering it. There's not all that much to see back there, especially now that the angel garden has started to die back.

Anyway, I was feeling a little irritable this afternoon for no particular reason and decided to throw back the left side of the bedroom curtains for a little extra light and cheer.

Which is when I saw the two moms with their tots. Our sightlines through the bedroom window include a peek between the two houses behind us and onto the street they front on. It's chock full of babies and toddlers, much like our street. The two moms were playing with their babies on the lawn - the tiny little snatch of lawn I could see between the houses. I suppose they bumped into each other and just got talking.

It got me thinking about the way you're approached, or not approached as the case may be, when you don't have kids in tow. When I'm walking or shopping, be it alone or with My Beloved, no one with a stroller stops to talk. They smile and pass right by. I'm childless - I clearly have nothing to talk about. But people with babies do. They have endless things to discuss - war stories to tell, hints and tips to swap, sweet ramblings about baby smiles and first steps. And they can talk for hours without even knowing each other's names. Because they have babies in common.

I, on the other hand, have a terrifying birth story that ends very, very badly. And who the hell wants to talk about that?

I have of course told my story (to two hairdressers, the next door neighbours we don't know all that well and my dental hygienist - twice) but telling the same horror story to each new person who somehow manages to ask that one question for which there is no answer but the sad truth is no fun at all. It doesn't bring any joy - to any of us.

It just serves to remind me that I'm standing on the outside looking in and have lost more in three years than many people lose in a lifetime.

I want to stop the ladies with strollers and tell them that if the world was right and the gods fair, I'd have a little boy with me too. I want to tell them that I'm not childless by choice, that I didn't opt to have a career instead of a family and that I love my three lost little souls so much I can barely breathe sometimes - so much that sometimes it feels like I'm going to implode from the combined force of the contained grief, anger and longing.

But instead we pass by, me with a strained, plastic smile on my face and them never knowing how much we almost had in common.

I realize that there's nothing I can do to remedy this. I know this is just the way it is. The mothers who don't know me will continue to talk amongst themselves and I'll continue to pass them by. The parents in the park by our house will continue to acknowledge My Beloved and I with a quick, polite smile at best. Because why would they do anything else? Why would we if we were in their shoes instead of our own?

It's not their fault and it's not ours. It just is what it is.

And I will never get used to it, this business of being an invisible mom. Never.

Monday, October 09, 2006

And speaking of candles...

I was just about finished setting the table at my Mom and Dad's before our Thanksgiving dinner last night, when my Mom told me to light the little pumpkin candle she'd bought for the centre of the table. It was nestled in some dried eucalyptus and wheat, and sitting in front of the harvest angel I bought her a month or so ago.

As I was lighting it she told me she bought the candle for Thomas - a little light for my little Peanut at Thanksgiving.

Thanks Mom

Friday, October 06, 2006

Light a little candle

If the world sees all our tiny candles on the night of the 15th, it will see - and maybe better understand - that the light our babies brought to our lives will burn brightly for as long as we live.

And that we will always remember.

Seriously, I can't stop

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The grass really is always greener

I was struck by something I read on someone else's blog today. Like me, she's been trying to bring home a baby since 2003, and like me she has nothing to show for it except sorrow. Our stories differ here and there, but they both have the same ending. We are both childless - mothers only to heavenly babies.

She has had repeated, unexplained miscarriages. I guess there's enough reason to believe that she won't be able to carry a child to term, which may be part of the reason that she is resolved to accept her fate in a way I just can't. I have yet to be given that horrible sentence.

But even though she has, I'm strangely envious of her. I'm dreadfully sorry for her and absolutely sick that she has gone through so much, don't misunderstand me. But I'm envious of the way she is dealing with this new chapter in her life. She's making the supreme effort to extract herself from the torturous limbo of the infertile. She's not waiting anymore. Her life isn't on hold.

She's moving on.

She's actively searching for ways to live a life that isn't defined by her inability to carry a child. She's looking for new experiences and opening herself up to the world at large in all its wonder and glory. She's charting a new course and finding something else to be - many other things to be - if she's not going to be a mother.

I was breathless with excitement. Drunk with the idea of this newfound freedom.

Until I realized I'm still good and trapped in my own limbo.

I don't resent the fact that we're still trying and I don't want to stop. Not yet. But I'm looking at this woman - this childless woman - with longing because she has found a peace that I feel a million and a half miles away from. And even if I come to a point where I'm forced to make the same decision she did, I don't know if I'll do it with half the grace she has. I don't know if I'll be able to muster the enthusiasm to look for the joie de vivre she seems so determined to find again.

I feel too beaten down to ever be able to walk away from all this with my head held high and my heart set on a new dream. And God help me, I haven't the faintest idea what that dream might even be.

Maybe she felt this way once too. Maybe we all do. Maybe circumstances eventually force us to learn a grace we never knew we had in us, and when the time is right it's there for us to display to a wondering world just the way she is.

I don't know.

I just know I applaud her, and every single woman like her, for not letting this ungodly sorrow eat her alive. For not letting it define her. For not letting it suffocate the person she once was and the person she was meant to become.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

It would have fit. Imagine that.

I normally park on the driveway after I go grocery shopping because I'm too lazy to get out of the car, lift up the garage door, get back in the car, drive into the garage and haul down the door after I'm finished unloading the groceries.

'Cause you know, that amount of exercise would most certainly kill me.

So instead I pull the car up as close to the garage door as I can. I have it down to a fine art (Much to My Beloved's glee, I no longer hit the door leaving dents and gashes) which means the other car can tuck in behind it without hanging over onto the sidewalk.

And everyone's happy. Except maybe the neighbours who get stuck looking at 28 feet of end-to-end car out their front window.

But today, in an uncharacteristic fit of energy, I decided to put the car away all neat and tidy. I pulled it in, right up to the fabulous (and I mean that) shelving unit My Beloved built at the back of the garage, and got out to start the unloading process. When I rounded the back of the car I was struck by the amount of space left behind it.

"Yes," I thought stupidly, "the stroller would totally fit in here."

You see, after we were given the beautiful Peg Perego stroller by my Mom and Dad, I was consumed with thoughts of how best to store it between uses. Lots of people in our neighbourhood leave their strollers on their porches and I figured we'd just do the same. But My Beloved worried that it would get stolen in the night. I loved my stroller too much to have that happen, so I figured we'd stash it in the garage between the many walks Thomas and I had planned to take through the neighbourhood that spring.

But I always wondered if it would fit behind the car. I never thought to actually look and see for some reason.

Until today. Nearly 19 months after he died, I determined that Thomas' stroller will indeed fit quite nicely behind the car.

The stroller that never made it out of the boxes it came in and remains stashed, unassembled and unseen, in the basement beside the similarly unused crib.

I don't know why these things still happen - the random, innocent thought followed by the jolt and lurching stomach. It's so cruel that the healing process dribbles along like a leaky faucet that can't be fixed. Quiet and relentless. And agonizingly torturous.

I wish I'd just left the car on the driveway. I wouldn't still be thinking about the stroller tonight if I had.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Free to good home

I made this little guy a few weeks ago out of some beautiful, soft orange yarn I somehow miraculously managed to find after deciding I wanted to make a pumpkin hat. It was waiting for me in its little wire bin at Michael's and I couldn't have been more excited.

I was pretty proud of the finished product - until My Beloved had a look at it. He was kind, but decidedly unenthusiastic about my cozy gourd hat.

"Maybe it's the eyebrows? Maybe it's the smile?" He didn't know, but something wasn't "right".

So I cast the pumpkin hat aside and continued making other hats that did find favour with the critics (another bear, a cat, a bunny and a blue and white striped hat with ears).

But the pumpkin hat taunted me. I knew it was there, unloved and unwanted, and I knew it had no place to go, unlike the other hats that have all been claimed.

So I've decided it's time to go public with my shame. Admit that the pumpkin hat exists and has no home.

It's kind of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeers of hats, I suppose. And it's yours if you want it. Just leave me a comment and let me know. I think it would fit a child up to about two (although this is a best guess because there aren't any two-year old heads around here for me to try it out on).

Anyone? Anyone?

Friday, September 29, 2006

One small step

I just fired off a letter to my MP asking for help with getting October 15th officially recognized in Canada too.

We shall see.

The government failed my son miserably when he was alive. Having only one OB on duty in a hugely busy hospital labour and delivery ward is unthinkably stupid and, frankly, borders on negligent - and it cost my son his life.

Let's see what the government is willing to do for him now that he's gone.

Fingers crossed.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

It's official

October 15th is officially Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day in the United States. It was passed in Congress today.

According to the wonderful people at

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day is to promote support, education and awareness for grieving parents nationwide (and worldwide).

Too many families grieve in silence, sometimes never coming to terms with their loss. Our goal is to help others relate to our loss, know what to say, do or not say, not do and to help families live with their loss, not "get over" their loss.

I only wish the day was also recognized here in Canada. If I had any inkling as to how to go about doing here what the October 15th supporters have done in the States, I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Any ideas? Anyone? Anyone?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Beans and fibre on a rockin' Tuesday night

Last night My Beloved and I went on a futile hunt for dried butter beans. I wasn't able to find them when I went shopping in the afternoon, and he suggested we try a different store which has a greater selection of non-traditional foods (a classification I assumed butter beans must fall under). So off we went.

No one told us that "butter beans" is just another name for lima beans. We saw a zillion different brands of lima beans, both dried and canned, but passed them up in search of the elusive butter bean. In fact, as he was putting back yet another can of limas he'd grabbed thinking they were the sneaky little butter bean, My Beloved commented on how much the two looked alike.

No kidding.

Anyway, we eventually gave up and found ourselves wandering through the cereal aisle. Beanless.

We're very particular about our cereals, the better half and me. I lean towards crispy flakes or wheaty squares and he sticks with fruity granolas and nutty oats.

But we both love fibre. Ever since we learned the magical equation (in every serving there should be at least 1g of fibre per 100 calories for the product to be considered relatively healthy) we've been fiends about finding the most healthy (a.k.a. fibre-leaden) cereals we can.

So we took our positions in the aisle, grabbed a box each and happily started perusing nutritional stats.

We'd been fully engrossed in label reading for quite some time when My Beloved stopped, cereal box in hand, looked at his watch, looked at me and pointed out how undeniably pitiful it was that we were standing in the grocery store at 10:00pm on a Tuesday night marveling at the whole wheat and bran content of cereals. And enjoying it.

I quietly dropped my box of Muffets in the basket and we slunk off to the cash, two old people wearing pretty convincing 30-something disguises.

We stayed up until after 1:00am watching TV and playing on the computer in what I'm pretty sure was a subconscious way of proving that we're not that old. But I'm feeling it today.

Thank God I had my fibre.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Butter tarts and a billion hats

I've been missing Thomas so much the last few days. I miss him all the time, but every now and then it hits me like a freight train and sends me into complete mental chaos. The disappointment of the IUI and the general infertility malaise that I'm settling into hasn't helped either.

For some reason, every cycle that I find myself still miserably and utterly unpregnant makes me miss Thomas more. It's as though I'm moving farther and farther away from all babies - including him - with each failed cycle. Like they're all out of reach. Like I'm hurtling into a vast babyless void.

And I don't know what to fill it with. I don't know what I will fill it with if it stays empty forever. I guess there will be a lot of bear hats for my friends' kids and a freezer full of butter tarts and pumpkin loaves for My Beloved and me. I can make other things if I can't make babies, I suppose.

Eeew. How maudlin and self-servingly pathetic. But what's a melancholic girl to do? Bake and crochet. Blog and moan. Repeat.

On Saturday night we went to the in-laws for dinner where there was lots of good food and lots of people I love. But I kept seeing the empty space where Thomas should have been. I watched his three cousins running and playing and getting cuddles and kisses from their aunts, uncles and grandparents - and I ached because Thomas wasn't there to do the same.

The kids are all growing up and getting so big and my Thomas is still a little baby.

What a great, big, horrible mind fuck.

Geez, I can't even blame this funk on Clomid since we're playing hooky from the clinic this cycle. It's all me baby. All the negativity and resentment and grief and frustration. It's all me.


Friday, September 22, 2006

10 Ways to cope with a failed IUI

1. Cry a little bit, but try to control yourself while driving because not only do you look like a lunatic (which is probably really disconcerting to other drivers), but it's hard to see properly when you're looking through tears.

2. Keep any non-fertility related doctor's appointments you may have already made, because finding out your blood pressure is perfect will make you feel infinitesimally better about the state of your stupid, broken-down, and frustratingly malfunctioning body. And infinitesimally better is better than nothing.

3. Count your blessings, like the husband who gets mad at you for apologizing when you tell him that the IUI failed and makes very sure that you know he doesn't feel an ounce of anger towards you or said frustratingly malfunctioning body.

4. Treat yourself. Go to your favourite grocery store instead of the discount chain with the shitty produce where you have to bag your own groceries and get a big honking chocolate cake. Eat close to a quarter of it almost as soon as you get home.

5. Decide to take a holiday from the fertility clinic. Throw caution to the wind and bar all doctors, nurses and ultrasound technicians from your nether regions and refuse to take any and all mood-altering fertility medications for the period of one complete cycle. Just because you can. And if you don't you may go stark raving mad.

6. Keep on crocheting little hats for little heads even though you know full well they might never find their way onto a child of your own. Take comfort in knowing that little heads somewhere will be snug and toasty just the same.

7. Mope, but don't lose hope.

8. Recognize that number 7 is really hard to do (the not losing hope part) and that it's kind of annoying that it rhymes.

9. Gratefully accept the hugs and positive thoughts from the 9 billion people you told about the IUI in the first place.

10. Vow to keep things a little more private in future in order to spare everyone's feelings - including your own.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I may have a problem...

Can't. Stop. Making. Hats.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The big lie

It's easy to lull yourself into believing that you'd be okay with not having another baby when you're not around them all that much - and when your memory of the one you had feels more and more like a beautiful dream as time passes. It's easy to lie to yourself when you've been doing it for so long and pretending that you're just being grounded and realistic and mature about the whole thing.

But when you hold a baby - when you look into her tiny little face and are rewarded with big, toothless, open-mouthed smiles and baby-sized giggles, when you feel her warmth and smell the intoxicating babyness of her - it's almost impossible to believe the lie.

I went for lunch with my neighbour and her 4-month old baby today, and I fell in love with her like I do every time I see her. The world around me fell silent while I held her and talked to her and bounced her on my knee and watched her watching me with her big, wondering eyes.

And I ached.

How can I give up when I know this is what I'm fighting for?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The bookstore

Last week, on a rather rainy Tuesday, we headed out to the bookstore in search of evening entertainment because it was just too soggy to go for a walk.

I wasn't looking for anything specific, but I found the lazy wander through the store (our favourite one - slightly farther away but worth the drive) very relaxing. I picked up an interesting looking novel from the bargain fiction area (because I'm cheap) and a crocheting magazine (because I'm delusional - I'll likely not make a single thing from the magazine because it all looks too hard, but it's cozy pretending that I actually could).

I wandered my way into the self-help section and off-handedly glanced at the shelves to see if there were any books on infertility. As it happens, I was standing right in front of them - a whole shelf full. I sort of just stood there dumbly looking at their spines, thinking about how odd it was that I should be in a position to thumb through one and pick up a tip or two - tips that I might actually need.

I took my time, weighed my options and plucked a title from the shelf.

It was like a weird Pandora's box. Upon opening it, the quiet of my lazy trip to the bookstore was shattered and my noisy, uncertain life rushed into my ears. All the words I try to avoid thinking about were swimming on the pages in front of me in ways that I presume were meant to be helpful, but just made my heart pound instead.

I wanted to put it down - as if closing the book would make the words not apply to me anymore. As if it would make me pregnant or not infertile or not the mother of a dead boy.

And then someone joined me, directed to one of the saddest spots in the bookstore by a loud and slightly bumbling clerk whose booming voice cut the silence of my melancholic revery. She stood beside me pondering the spines as I'd just done before reaching out and making her choice. I took a sideways glance at her. I wanted to see if she looked different - if she maybe looked a little like me in some way.

She looked normal. In her late 30s, maybe early 40s. Slim, pretty, ordinary. I wondered what brought her here, to the infertility section of the bookstore. I wondered about her journey and how long it had been. And I wanted to say something - to touch her arm and show her that I understood the nine million things that were probably swirling around her head - that had been swirling there since she first figured out that something wasn't quite right.

I looked at her again.

Then I closed my book, put it back on the shelf and walked away.

What else could I do? We walk alone.

Monday, September 18, 2006

In case anyone was wondering...

....this is what I've been doing instead of blogging the last few days.

It's not that I haven't had anything to say, it's just that I've been keeping my fingers busy with crochet. And my mind too. Which is always a very, very good thing...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

'Tis the season...

...for crochet!!

I made this small lovey for the sweet little girl of a virtual friend of mine. Little E just happens to love blankies, and when I found out I decided it was the perfect way to thank them for donating a pair of Dr. Seuss books (our favourites!!) to their local library in Thomas' memory, and for making a beautiful scrapbook for Thomas' birthday.

I intended the lovey to be a bit more decorative, but I'm simple (and by that I mean not as skilled as I wish I was) and this was all I could manage. I desperately need someone to teach me how to properly crochet in rounds so I can expand my repertoire someday very, very soon...

In the meantime, I hope E enjoys cuddling with her new lovey, and I hope she feels the hugs in every stitch!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's in the stars

Today's horoscope:

Too many things look as though they can go badly wrong. Your concerns are understandable, but the cosmic message is clear - things will turn out fine, albeit after a long haul.

Long haul?

Buddy, you don't know the half of it.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Can I print a retraction?

Me and my big mouth.

My Beloved and I weren't totally sure what we'd do if we ever found ourselves in the enviable position of having to decide to tell family and friends about a brand new pregnancy. There were certainly more cons than pros, given our less than stellar reproductive history. Even just the two miscarriages made us wary of spilling the beans too soon. And then there was Thomas.

But because I can't keep my big gaping maw shut, anyone and everyone who reads this blog (family, friends and strangers) now knows that I'm in the two week wait, with increased chances that something might indeed be percolating within.

I've taken away our ability to choose when we will announce our happy news (if we do indeed get some).

I'm an idiot. Our choice now is to tell the truth or lie. Fantastic.

It's not that we want to withhold good news (for God's sake, we revel in even the tiniest bit of it ourselves, so we know how news this big and this good would make the people we love feel) it's just that we're possibly the most gun-shy people on the planet when it comes to second lines on a pee stick. And when we see them this time - if we see them - we'll need time to absorb it all. To mourn our boy as we celebrate the possibility of a new life, and to make sense of our excitement, fear, bewilderment and disbelief.

And it would be nice to be able to do that without every single person we know staring at us.

Which brings us back to my flapping pie hole. I'm kind of sorry I opened it. And I don't know what we'll do now, so all I can say is please don't ask. Please let us do this the way we need to, even though it might be hard for you while you're waiting and wondering.

Just imagine how much harder it is for us and give us the space we need.

As for me, I guess I'll have to bind my fingers so I can't type and keep my mouth full of cookies so I can't speak.

Hmmm. The cookie thing doesn't sound half bad...

Sunday, September 10, 2006

And scene


No clamps. Three eggs released. A combined 37 million sperm advancing.

And now, we wait.

Come on baby, come on...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Halfway there

Okay, in a word - ow.

I guess every OBGYN has his own personal little touch, and Dr. Tiny, as we'll call him, likes the tenaculum. A scary sounding name quite befitting the object that bears it. The insemination itself was virtually painless - even the catheter going in was barely noticeable - and there was almost no cramping afterwards. But the clamp on the cervix, yeah, I felt that.

Clamp. On. The. Cervix. Good God, that's just barbaric. And not the least bit romantic, I might add. If we conceive, my memory of that blessed moment will be of Dr. Tiny's head between my legs, the stale air of the exam room, the discomfort of My poor Beloved who wanted to be anywhere else but stuck in that tiny room with me, and that awful clamp.

It all seems like a strange way to make a baby.

And yesterday as I sat in the waiting room at the clinic for what felt like the 900th time this week, I was suddenly seized with doubts about what we're doing. I mean, is it right to force your body to do what it doesn't seem particularly interested in doing just because you deem it should be doing it? Does pumping yourself full of drugs and submitting your innards to countless ultrasounds make good sense over the long haul? Will there be any repercussions for me years from now? Should we just accept the fact that Thomas was our chance at having our own child and move on, confident that the gods have our best interests at heart and know what they're doing?

And speaking of God, Is it right to sneak around behind his back like this?

I know scores of people do it every day. The clinic is jam packed almost every time I'm there, and I'm sure the numbers are indicative of patient volume at clinics all across the country. There are thousands and thousands of couples who resort to assisted reproductive technology to have the families of their dreams.

But does that make it right? Just because we can do it, does that make it okay?

It seems logical that in this case, having the ability to do it does make it okay. Why wouldn't we use the technology we have to do something as wonderful as make babies, right? So why does it still seem off to me somehow? It is because it's a little grittier when you're actually in the trenches? Is it because it's easier when it's "them" and not you? Is it because I'm afraid that this, our last hope, won't work and I'll finally be forced to face the fact that I will never carry another child?

And why the hell am I doubting it now? For one thing, it's clearly too late. There are twenty one million of My Beloved's very best, hand selected swimmers having a party in my uterus right now. Thanks to Dr. Tiny and his cervix mangling clamp.

(He must be in cahoots with Helga, the vagina mangling ultrasound technician. A story for another blog.)

And I'm going back for an insurance squirt tomorrow morning, so clearly I don't think it's all that wrong.

Oh Lord, I just don't know anything anymore.

I guess looking into the face of a child you've borne, no matter how that child came into being, erases every single doubt and makes the months of turmoil, disappointment and despair completely and utterly worthwhile.

Having already looked into the face of my beautiful first-born son, I have a feeling that must certainly be true. And in the absence of any other certainty, I'm going to hang onto that.

Particularly tomorrow when I meet Dr. Tiny for a second round of clamp action.