Monday, January 30, 2006

A good day

Today was a very good day.

It was Weight Watchers weigh in day and I've lost another 1.6 pounds (taking my grand total to 4.5 pounds in four weeks). It's a drop in tub of lard really, but for me it's a big achievement because I've worked hard to do it. Really hard. That first week and a half I was so hungry I'd have happily eaten shoe leather and batteries if someone had handed them to me wrapped in lettuce.

But the hunger has subsided, and in its place I've found willpower I didn't realize I had.

I put on a shirt I haven't worn in a month and it felt a tiny bit looser than it did last time I had it on. The hungry torment of the last four weeks was all worth that moment of pure joy and pride this morning.

And speaking of pride, the Leafs finally won a game tonight. Halleluia!!

I'm not actually a huge hockey fan, but somehow I've been sucked into the excitement of the games. Maybe it's just because it's fun to spend those two hours watching TV with My Beloved (and asking him a million and one stupid questions like "what's icing" for the 900th time) or maybe it's a latent sports appreciation finally making its way to the surface of my all-girl exterior (much to my Father's glee). But whatever the case, I'm actually enjoying hockey.

Although admittedly I enjoy it much more when the Leafs win every now and then.

While watching the hockey game (and later, The Bachelor - yes, I admit it) I finished up a little crocheted hat. It was supposed to be a 3-month size but it didn't come out quite right. It's more like a toddler hat, really. I guess using the right size hook actually does matter. Who knew?

Anyway, even though it's not quite perfect and I improvised the design on the front, I'm happy with it. It feels good to create something - to have something to show for myself at the end of the day besides another pile of clean laundry and vacuumed carpets. Okay, vacuumed downstairs carpets.

But what I think made the day really good was reading all the comments from my pride and prayer post yesterday. Once again, I'm awed by the kindness of people (strangers, in some cases) and the capacity for goodness that exists in this sometimes sad and scary world.

I can feel your prayers today, and I want you to know that each and every one of you are in mine.

Yes. This was a good day indeed.

P.S. Here's the little hat I made. I shouldn't be as proud of it as I am because there are many, many imperfections in it, but nothing in life is perfect, right? And so why should a little hat be any different.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Project Linus

I know this is my third entry today (I just can't seem to stop talking) but as soon as I stumbled upon Project Linus I knew I had to post about it right away.

According to the organization's Canadian homepage, Project Linus is a 100% volunteer non-profit organization whose mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, homemade, washable blankets and afghans, lovingly crafted by volunteer blanketeers.

I've been wanting to do something like this - needing to, actually - and I'm just so glad I accidentally stumbled upon this wonderful organization (unless it was a little angel who directed me there!).

They have active chapters in both in Canada and the United States and the links to both country's home pages are posted below, in case any of my crafty friends and family are interested in taking up the challenge.

Canadian Chapter

American Chapter

I just started crocheting again after a very long hiatus, and I'm putting a Project Linus blankie on my to-do list for sure.

Prayers, pride and an idea...

I don't think it's a secret to anyone that My Beloved and I are trying again. However, it is a secret that we've been trying for almost 8 months without success.

There. I've said it. I steadfastly refused to tell anyone anything when we first decided to try for a second child (well, technically it would be our fourth since I miscarried twice before Thomas) because neither of us wanted the pressure of people waiting and wondering and watching and speculating and whispering month after month after month. But since we know they must have figured it out by now, I'm officially letting the cat out of the bag.

I know I'm at a disadvantage because of my age - and God knows what the hell has gone on inside me after two miscarriages, a D&C and a physically traumatic C-section - so I know 8 months isn't actually that long in the grand scheme of things, but quite honestly it's starting to feel like it is.

People who started trying when we did and were successful right away will be delivering their babies in a month or so. That makes it seem like a very long time indeed.

According to my doctor It's allegedly "just a matter of time" (a phrase I'm going to slap right out of the next person who tries to use it on me). So I'm attempting to make good use of that time.

I've been praying about all this for months now. It's still an uneasy relationship, God's and mine, but I figure that since he's the one holding all the cards I don't really have any choice but to go to him. Today at Mass I literally begged him to let us have another child. It wasn't pretty, but my pride has long since vanished. I'm willing to do whatever it takes. In addition to begging, when I pray I'm always quick to qualify that we want to take our next baby home with us - and I want us all to grow old together. I wasn't clear on that last time...

Now here's the thing - I know I'm not alone. I know there are many people out there who are trying to have a baby - whether it be their first, their first after a loss, their first after many losses, or maybe their 7th after no losses at all - and I thought maybe if we all kind of ganged up on God (so to speak) and prayed for each other, those prayers might be answered a little quicker...or just plain answered.

As much as I struggle with my relationship with God, I believe in the power of prayer. As I've said before, I know the prayers of family, friends and strangers have carried me safely to the place where I am now. I'm willing to give it another try - to rely on prayers to help us yet again.

I'm generally a pretty private person when it comes to matters of spirituality, but as I said, my pride has long since disappeared and I'm not ashamed to ask for help. In return I will happily pray for you too. I know the joy in seeing a glimpse of heaven in the face of a child of your own, and so I know what it means to want that almost more than life itself.

And I do.

And so I'll pray...

A Sunday afternoon vent

I was just watching the Shopping Network (I know, I know, but it's pouring rain, I'm lacking motivation and we've already played four games of ping pong) so it's time for a little Sunday afternoon rant.

So Ivana-no-longer-Trump was on with her fabulous jewelry collection. Signature watches, sparkly cubic zirconia crosses, better-than-gold-plated-but-not-quite-as-good-as-real-gold necklaces and earrings. You name it, she's hocking it.

Aside from the fact that she's not kidding anyone (we know the only time she deigns to wear faux baubles of any kind, even ones from her own signature line, is when she's on television trying to get us to buy them) she just represents all the things that I'm growing to despise.

Now don't get me wrong, there's nothing, wrong with jewelry or wanting jewelry or getting it and being ecstatic. My neck rarely parts with the tiny square-cut diamond necklace My Beloved gave me on our first anniversary. I love it and I'm not ashamed to admit it. It's special because he picked it out himself and gave it to me on our first anniversary - a difficult one because I was recovering from my first miscarriage.

Jewelry is fine. I have nothing against it whatsoever.

It's just Ivana with her, "don't get just one, get two!", making us feel like we need to have more, more, MORE of those things - those shiny bits of gold, silver and crystal - that gets my goat. Her urgency implies that It's almost a matter of survival. It's as though she can single-handedly save our pathetically un-sparkling lives with her buckets of fake beads and almost-gold.

It's deceiving. Life is so pretty when she's sitting there holding strands of polished pearls and handfuls of swarovski crystal earrings on a glimmering TV sound set. But when you turn off the TV you find you're still in your own family room with your couch that sags in the middle, your grocery store carpet and your dusty Ikea bookshelves. Without halogen lights making everything bright and shiny, you're left with a dull Sunday afternoon, some dust and a dirty kitchen.

The thing is, there's nothing wrong with that (quite honestly, the fact that my couch knows my ass so well its made a permanent dip to accommodate it, is very comforting)!

Ivana is wrong.

I could buy a million of her peach jade necklaces and still not have a perfect life. They wouldn't bring my boy back, they wouldn't make my parents healthy, they wouldn't bring back lost friendships. They wouldn't make a mid-day phone call from My Beloved more special, they wouldn't make snuggling up to him at night more comforting and they wouldn't make the love I feel for him and my family stronger.

They're just things.

Now once again, don't get me wrong. I like pretty things. I am, after all, a girl. It's just that since Thomas died I've been able to see the true value of things in a way I wasn't able to before. I've reassessed what's really important and it isn't what I can carry with me in my arms. It's what I carry with me in my heart.

I had to turn the TV off when Ivana told us that she has upwards of 2000 pairs of reading glasses (some, she claims, are from her signature collection). She leaves one pair in every room of every house she owns, and takes pairs with her when she travels. Bejeweled with hundreds of tiny crystals, her glasses caught the light from every halogen bulb on the set as she told us how much she was envied by two stewardesses on her flight from New York City for having them.

2000 pairs of reading glasses when there are people out there working two and three jobs just to put food on their tables;when there are people dying because they can't afford to pay for adequate medical care; when children are dying of starvation.

It's just not right, and 2000 pairs of glasses can't seem to help her see that.

I wish it hadn't taken my child dying for me to see things the way I do now. I'm ashamed that it took something so horrific to open my eyes. But it has, and so I rant. Not because I'm by any means perfect, but because I can see imperfections (my own included) with such startling clarity.

From my vantage point the world has changed a lot in 10 and a half months.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Wishes and shelves

Today we went out and I got my shelves! The top of the basement stairs has never looked more organized or safer than it does right now. The cat carrier has been put away, the sheet is on the Christmas tree and all the miscellaneous odds and ends that were threatening the health and safety of all household stair users have found a home on the new shelves. It's a thing of beauty. Truly.

And, just in case you were wondering, we haven't had a fire yet so I haven't had to use the fire extinguisher. Could be things are looking up.

So overall today was a pretty good day, even though mid way through it My Beloved suggested that perhaps my moodiness of late is because I might be pregnant. But I'm not. I know I'm not - two tests and a period don't lie.

I explained that it was possible for me to be pissed off with him without me being pregnant, shocking as that might be.

And then we carried on with our Saturday. It was spent running errands, going for a walk, making dinner, putting up the shelves, watching the Leafs lose yet again, and playing ping pong.

I keep trying really hard to remind myself that this is a good life. Yes, it's a life without our son, but it's still a good and happy life in so many ways. We're healthy, we financially stable, we're in love and we have wonderful families and friends who care about us more than we ever knew. Life is good and kind. Mostly.

It's just that I wish I could fill that little empty hole. I wish I didn't feel like my life was incomplete. I wish I didn't feel like I'm just killing time until...until something. I wish I knew what to do next. I wish I could get pregnant and feel the promise and joy I felt when I was carrying my boy. I wish I could feel complete happiness the way I used to before death wandered into my life and took up residence in a most disturbing and unwelcome way.

I wish Thomas wasn't missing.

Above all, I wish for that.

Friday, January 27, 2006

I just wanted some shelves

I went out to get some shelves and came home with a fire extinguisher instead.

Ain't that life in a nutshell.

We needed both, but the shelving unit was what I actually set out to get. I was hoping to put it at the top of the basement stairs in an effort to stop the avalanche of crap that seems to collect there, threatening the stairs and all who use them. Right now you can find Lucy's cat carrier (which has yet to make its way back to the basement after her vet visit), some old sheets (which have yet to make their way onto the Christmas tree I took down to the basement three weeks ago), two rolls of paper towel, a basket full of magazines, a TV tray, a small tool box, and assorted cleaners for the powder room (because there's no shelving in their either). All sitting at the top of the stairs.

The only thing challenging the ginormous pile of crap's existence is the colony of dust bunnies cowering beneath it.

So I need shelves (and I need to vacuum too), but the fire extinguisher seemed like a good idea when there were no shelves to be had. I just had to leave with something.

What's that song? You can't always get what you want, but you find sometimes you get what you need. I can't stack all the crap at the top of the stairs on the fire extinguisher and that kind of sucks. But it would suck a whole lot more trying to put out a fire with shelves.

So I guess things worked out the way they should have today.

I have to say though, I'm really hoping that one day things will go exactly as I plan. A whole day of things going my way - what a novelty that would be. I know I'm at risk of slipping back into full wallowing mode, but I'm getting a wee bit weary of trying to find the good in the way things end up turning out, always to my surprise.

I just wanted some damn shelves.

Fine. If we have a fire before I find shelves that fit the back stairs I'll be grateful for today's twist of fate, but right now all I can think of is the pile of crap and the need for shelves.

Hmmm. This better not mean we're actually going to have a fire.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Fragile. Handle with care.

I can't wait for this year to be over. Not the calendar year, I mean what should have been Thomas' first year - March 2005 to March 2006. I need this year to be over so I can stop remembering what I was doing a year ago when that year included Thomas.

I thought the holidays were bad - and they were - but I now find myself almost apoplectic at the thought of March so fast approaching. I can remember it all like it was yesterday, those last few weeks with my boy.

The evening of Valentine's Day, 2005 we spent at the hospital with other expectant couples. It was our labour and delivery orientation - a night that reassured Sandy and completely freaked me out. Afterwards we went to the store where we'd bought Thomas' crib and picked up the missing screw set that we had to order once we discovered we only had half the hardware. Then we had ice cream and went happily home, thinking about what was to come just a few weeks later. Or what we thought was to come, anyway. We naively believed it was going to be the start of a brand new life, but we had no idea that new life would be not his, but ours without him.

February 28th was Oscar night and we spent it at my sister's house, as always, trying to win her annual Oscar pool. I made a ballot for Thomas too. None of us won, but of course I really didn't care because I had everything I'd ever wanted. I was truly blissfully happy. Scared to death at the prospect of giving birth, but blissfully happy just the same.

The next day at my 37 week appointment my OB determined that an induction was in order because my blood pressure was starting to act up ever so slightly. And that's when our journey into hell began. The induction ended up being delayed for a week and I got my first application of gel on Monday March 7th. Thomas was born via C-section two days later.

Then came the horror of finding out he was brain dead, the horrible decision we had to make, the infection, the prolonged hospital stay, planning the funeral, the service and the slow road to both physical and mental recovery.

Which brings me here - January 26th, 2006.

Lately I've been having really strange and disconcerting flashbacks. They don't come in pictures or memories exactly, they come in feelings - in disturbing waves of emotion. It's hard to explain, but obviously something is triggering memories I've tried very hard to forget or to move away from, and the trigger takes me screaming back to an instant of horror and then back out again before I can fully piece together the origin of the terror. Sometimes the sensory memories (for lack of a better descriptor) aren't even horrific ones, which leads me to believe that those are happier, pre-trauma moments I'm being reminded of. Both kind shake me up and leave me feeling more fragile than I care to.

I really hope I'm not going insane.

I can only assume that because I'm getting closer to his birthday I'm remembering more and more of what I was doing and feeling and experiencing a year ago. Maybe I'm mentally preparing myself for March - maybe my brain is giving me sneaky little reminders so I won't be overwhelmed when I'm swimming in memories and sorrow on his birthday.

I don't know.

Oh God, just when I think it's getting easier...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Waking up

I had the most horrific nightmare about my Dad last night. I've had these kinds of dreams before - many of them in the 23 years since he had his first heart attack - but this one was the most chillingly realistic one I've ever had. I woke up panting in fear with tears rolling down my face.

Such a nice start to the day, waking up from a dream that your father has just died.

All the elements were there - the phone call from my Mom, the empty chair once we got to their house, the glass of wine on his end table half finished with his lip marks still on its rim...

I just can't believe how real it was - and how real the horror and grief was too. It scared me to feel that much sorrow soon.

I went over to their house first thing this morning because I had to see him. It wasn't enough to know that he was okay by hearing his voice on the phone (or my Mom's reassuring me that he was alive and well). I had to see him.

Is this how true lunacy starts?

When I walked in the front door it was like I'd somehow managed to turn back time or raise him from the dead. It was very surreal seeing him standing in the kitchen, clearly happy and as healthy as possible given his heart condition. He wrapped his arms around me and told me how good it was to see me, and all I could think was, "you have no idea!!"

Today felt like a gift. My Dad was taken from me during the night while I slept and given back to me in the morning when my eyes fluttered open in terror.

I know the day is going to come when I'll be living that nightmare too, but it wasn't today. Thank God.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What happens when even chocolate won't work?

Oh dear. I am in such a foul mood today that I barely recognize myself. Even chocolate hasn't helped. I tried two delicious squares of dark chocolate just after lunch. It only appeased the beast in me for a few minutes. I'm right back to my miserable self and I don't want to waste any more Weight Watchers points on mood enhancing candy.

My hockey team lost last night. The political party I voted for lost last night. It snowed today. The cat threw up.

My baby is gone.

I pretty much couldn't be any moodier than I am right now. Touch wood...

I remember counting my blessings a few months ago when I was having a really bad day. I literally wrote out all the things in my life that were right, even though so many things seemed so wrong. It helped then, but I just don't have the energy to try today. I don't even think I want to feel better.

I'm in full wallowing mode. How very, very attractive.

Have I mentioned how much I hate hormones? I'd be doing cartwheels if they were pregnancy hormones, but I have my doubts.

So I think I'll just crawl back under the giant rock I squeezed myself out from under and continue on with my disgustingly self-indulgent pity party.

If only I had cake.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Do I need a passport?

Ah hormones.

There's nothing quite like 'em to push an otherwise relatively normal and mostly sane woman directly over the border into crazytown.

I mean, it can't be normal to want to shove an empty yogurt cup up your husband's bum because he left it on the kitchen table overnight instead of walking the extra three feet to the garbage can to throw it out himself, can it?

I think I know the answer.

And I think I should just quickly and quietly slip into bed and sleep it off.

PMS only lasts a few days, thank God.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Pink in my cheeks

I'm feeling so much better today. The spring-like weather and all the wonderfully kind and supportive comments I received on yesterday's blog certainly helped a lot (I'm sending endless virtual thank-you hugs right back at each and every one of you!).

But I was also buoyed by news that the blood tests I had two weeks ago (hormone levels, thyroid, etc.) are completely normal. I know it's by no means a complete fertility work-up, but it's enough to ease my mind for a few more months anyway.

Today life was good, and one good day at a time is really all anyone can ask for.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

All shades of blue

I feel blue today. I had a really nice afternoon with my best friend and my Mom and Dad (we took lunch over to their house and had a great time talking, eating and laughing) but when I came home to the empty house I found myself feeling kind of empty too.

I hate these days. I have so few of them now, but they really take a lot out of me when they do sneak up on me. For the most part I'm pretty even keeled these days (with the exception of holidays which wring me out completely) but every now and again, WHAM. It hits, and the loneliness and sorrow I feel for Thomas is suddenly overwhelming again.

I just want him here so badly.

The sight of the 4-month old behind us on his Grandma's knee is actually making me physically ache. I can see them through the kitchen window as I busy myself with dinner preparations.

Part of me wants to call my most supportive friends and ask for a long distance hug or two, but another part of me feels like I should just wade my way through today on my own. This is what my life is and I have to rely on my own inner resources to battle the demons that will inevitably keep popping up on days when I think they're as far away as Thomas is.

Oh my boy, I just wish so much that you were here.

After all this time it's still so unfathomable that you're not.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Walking with Thomas

I went out for a walk this morning, right in the middle of a little bit of a snow storm. In an effort to prove that my timing remains impeccable, the gods have since stopped the snow and it looks like the sun might, might peek out from the clouds at some point this afternoon.

I didn't really mind the snow, except that the dime-sized flakes made it difficult to see when they landed on the lenses of my glasses. As a result I walked with my head down, tucked into my chest, while I was walking into the wind. Happily I had on the cozy hat and scarf my sister bought for me in Ireland two summers ago.

As I rounded a corner, forcing the wind and snow to lash at my back instead of my face, I started thinking about Thomas. Actually, I started talking to him. I don't know what it is about walking that always seems to make me feel so connected to him - like he's right there with me. Maybe it's because walking is almost meditative, and when my mind is released from the confines of the house and mundane tasks like grocery shopping it soars to meet his tiny spirit. I have no idea, but I whatever the reason, I love it.

I told him I probably wouldn't have taken him out in the storm, but I would have held him up to the window so we could watch it from inside, all cozy, dry and snuggly together. I would have pointed out all the big, fluffy snowflakes and talked to him about God, who made them.

Yes, the same God who I now mostly just eye warily.

I told him my life would be so different if he was still here, but that even though it's another kind of different now, it's okay. I told him I will love him forever. I said he would have been enough - we wouldn't have asked for another baby if we still had him. He would have been enough for both of us, our beautiful boy.

I don't know why I feel the need to try to convince him that I love him - that I haven't forgotten about him and that I'll miss him until the day I die. He knows that. I know he knows that. But I still need to say it to him just the same. And since he came out to walk with me today, it seemed like a good time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

That kind of a day

I cleaned out the linen closet and determined that a speck on the middle finger of my left hand was a tiny scab and not a new mole in its formative years.

It's been that kind of a day. No motivation, no energy, no enthusiasm. Just rain, boring chores and the silence of the house pounding in my ears. I know it's a waste of electricity, but I often leave the television on downstairs just so there's noise somewhere in the house that isn't being generated by me or a yappy cat (who is back to her yappy, pre-surgery self).

Every once in a while the silence that threatened to deafen me after we came home from the hospital sneaks back into the house, uninvited.

I've talked about this with my friend S who lost her beautiful little son Ryan in August. We were chatting on the phone not long after he died and she told me she couldn't bear how quiet the house was or how horrible the sound of nothing was in her ears. And I knew just what she meant, because the silence in my house should have been regularly disturbed by the sounds of a baby cooing, laughing, crying - living - too. But both our houses remained still.

They were no quieter than they were before we delivered our sons, but they suddenly seemed tomb-like afterwards.

I've since learned that leaving a radio on upstairs and a TV on downstairs remedies that problem, but it's pretty horrific that it exists at all.

Anyway, the day droned on and on today in a blur of boredom and malaise.

I know I should be on my knees in prayer every day thanking God that I'm alive because I nearly died when Thomas was born, but it's so easy to forget that - and to forget to be grateful. Mostly because when I think about it all I can do is wonder why him and not me.

There's a big mind-fuck of a question for you.

And you know what? It's far, far too big for me to even consider pondering today. I got the linen closet cleaned out and that's about all my winter-blahed brain can process today.

Clean towels. Stacked sheets. More pillow cases than a small hotel (don't know how that happened). Two extra blankets and a ratty, cherished quilt that belonged to my Grandparents.

All neat. All organized.

That's it for today. Good night.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Big fat hairy deal

My tiny post-pregnancy underbangs have finally grown in to meet my long overbangs. I'm oddly buoyed by the notion that my hair is normal again, as if perhaps it's a sign that the rest of my body is once again normal and possibly ready for a new pregnancy too.

We'll see. I can find "signs" in just about anything these days, so maybe it's all nothing more than a sign that a startling amount of time has passed since I was pregnant with Thomas.

Who knows? But whatever the case, I'm happy I have my bangs back.

Now if I could just get these damned, freakishly curly sideburns to grow in...

Saturday, January 14, 2006

The cat came back

The cat came back, the very same day. The cat came back (I thought she was a goner) but the cat came back; she just couldn't stay away.

(With apologies to Harry S. Miller, writer of The Cat Came Back)

Lucy is fine. Three teeth lighter, but just fine. My Beloved has taken to calling her "Gummo" instead of her old nickname, "Bucky". She doesn't seem to mind, but it's possible that she's still a little hopped up on drugs. Give her time - she'll exact her feline revenge eventually. Perhaps with a particularly large poop, since, much to his dismay, he is the master of the litterbox.

I worried like crazy about that poor little snaggletooth. I would never, ever compare her or what she went through to Thomas - never in a million years - but having to take her to the vet and leave her there knowing she was scared and in pain just about killed me. I don't have the stomach for this - not after Thomas. I felt so guilty - so much so that I bent down and apologized to the furry, confused little face starting out from the carrier and told her I loved her before I left. Right in front of the bemused receptionist. And I didn't care.

I wanted to make sure I said goodbye.

I don't remember if I told Thomas I loved him and I don't think I said goodbye. Oh God, I don't remember...

That immediate horror of losing Thomas came flooding back yesterday, but as a feeling of dread I couldn't shake - not as images or real concrete thoughts. I just knew that it was possible that I was going to lose another someone I love, and that horrible feeling of being awake in a nightmare returned.

I asked God to let her come home to me. "She's just a cat", I said. "I'm not asking you to save a baby this time - surely you can at least leave me with my cat."

No, I didn't get struck by lightning. But I did stop praying at that point, fearing I'd gone just that one step too far. I honestly didn't mean too - I just got carried away. Sometimes I don't realize the depth of the anger still simmering just below the surface.

But in the end Lucy came home, a doped-up, staggering, bleary-eyed mess of a cat. Minus three teeth. She has seen me through a lot of sorrow and change during our almost 9 years together, and it's amazing how attached I am to her. Like any pet, she's a walking ball of love (who now has much fresher breath).

The only thing is, I woke up this morning wondering why God answered this prayer and not the pleas of a mother in agony 10 months ago.

I'm happy I have Lucy - but why wasn't I allowed to have Thomas too?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

That ain't no muffin

I think one of our neighbours across the street is pregnant. I was peering out the office window watching the world go by when I caught sight of what I suspect is a slightly rounder tummy than normal. She's one of those people who could eat a muffin and it would show, so I'm betting I'm right.

I, on the other hand, could eat a dozen muffins and no one would suspect a thing. In fact, I was 5 months pregnant and had to tell a co-worker I didn't see that often that I had a baby on board because she had no clue and was visibly perplexed by my ramblings about due dates and pregnancy symptoms.

Anyway, I haven't seen this neighbour without a coat on in months, but this evening she stepped out onto her porch to say goodbye to her husband. Her snug brown shirt was pulled suspiciously tightly over a telltale bump.

This is what happens when you spy on people - you find out things that maybe you wish you hadn't.

Sigh. God now has me completely surrounded.

So you know what I did? I shoveled more carrot sticks into my mouth and turned away. Because really, what else can I do?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Listen...that's the sound of peace shattering

It's really quite amazing what can shake your fragile peace and bring you to your knees.

I took the cat to the vet yesterday to have him take a look at her teeth. Her left front fang just didn't look right to me, not to mention that any time I touched it she'd wince and pull her head away. Vets had been telling me for years that she needed to have her teeth cleaned, but I was too afraid to do it.

When I had my D&C after my first miscarriage I was convinced I was going to die while under anesthetic - I even told the anesthesiologist my fears. Thankfully he reassured me enough to keep me from bolting from the operating room, bare-assed and gown flapping wildly in the wake of my terror.

I don't know anyone who has died while under anesthetic and I know it's an impossibly rare occurrence, but it still scares the hell out of me, and so I've always worried about Lucy, the cat, too. The fact that I was told she has asthma worsened my fears about her going under and so I've just never had her teeth cleaned.

And now, because I neglected her dental care, she's going to lose most of her teeth. Not only is she going to have to go under anesthetic for cleaning, she's going to have a number of extractions including BOTH her fangs.

I stood in the tiny exam room holding onto her rump and willing myself not to cry while the vet poked and prodded her mouth and calmly explained that her teeth were too far gone to save. Apparently she'll be better off without them and won't miss them a bit, so says the man with all his teeth.

When they took her away to draw blood for her pre-surgery work-up I kept my mind occupied by reading a chart on canine and feline periodontal disease. It kept the tears, fueled by an enormous well of guilt, at bay.

I made it all the way home before I started to cry while I watched Lucy devour a bowl of food and settle into the task of washing away the vet visit from her fur.

The first thing that went through my mind when I was told about the severity of her tooth problem was, "What kind of a mother would I have been to Thomas if I can't even look after my cat properly?"

Oh the guilt. The horrible, gut-grinding guilt. I couldn't save Thomas and my negligence may kill my cat.

See? Fragile peace smashed to smithereens.

I'm feeling better today because Lucy's blood work came back perfectly normal and the vet said he's not at all worried about her not doing well during the surgery, but the fact that she has to endure what she's going to just because I was too afraid to have her teeth cleaned years ago when it was first recommended kills me.

Needless to say there's a very spoiled kitty in our house right now. And one very guilty cat-owner.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Ten months

I lost a pound and a half this week! My first (horrific) week on Weight Watcher has been a tiny success. I had hoped for a loss that might more equally balance out the torment of being so hungry so often, but I'll take whatever I can get.

It's amazing how much wanting to be healthy for a baby can motivate a person.

I went for a nice long, chilly walk this morning too. I know I'm alone all day, but for some reason it felt nice to get out and walk alone too. I walked along the secluded trail at the end of our street that opens up to the water reservoir (also known as "our lake") and then walked through the neighbourhood and home.

There's something immensely satisfying about hearing nothing but the sounds of the wind blowing through dried grasses, birds chirping and your own feet crunching on gravel, snow and ice as you walk. It's nice to make a noise - to be heard and to have your sounds mingle with the others about you and eventually float off into nothingness.

Admittedly, I worried a little about being on the path all by myself. At about the halfway point when, if I needed to, the escape wouldn't be any quicker if I turned and ran back than it would be if I ran ahead, I started to panic a little. But all was calm and peaceful. I didn't see a single soul on the path through the woods or once I got out to the open area of the reservoir. It was very exhilarating being the only person there. I owned the path. I owned the lake. I owned the breeze that whipped through my hair and dove into my lungs. I was the only one there to experience that moment and I reveled in it.

It was good. So good.

On the way back home through the neighbourhood I suddenly started thinking about Thomas' stroller in our basement. It's still in the two boxes it came in. Still unopened. Untouched. I thought about what it would be like to be pushing it, and Thomas in it, up the street and back home.

I wondered if today would have been too cold for him, but I figured if I bundled him up properly he'd be just fine. He would, after all, be 10 months old today. I guess that's old enough for a stroll through the neighbourhood on a brisk January day. Isn't it?

It's strange that I don't know that for sure. It feels like that's something I should know - I'm his mother for heaven's sake. But of course, I don't need to know that at all. It doesn't matter how cold it is. When Thomas walks with me, he doesn't need my protection. He doesn't need an extra blanket or a scarf around his neck.

I thought about pushing him in the stroller and my world didn't fall in. There was a flicker of pain, but also just the sense of the ordinariness of this life without Thomas. This is what my life is; thinking about "what if" and not knowing if it's too cold to take a baby outside, even though I gave birth to a baby 10 months ago. And, for some reason, that's okay.

I'm shocked that it doesn't feel like I'm leaving him behind, even though it probably sounds like that's precisely what's happening. It doesn't. I'm not. To me it feels like I'm accepting his absence - not railing against it the way I have been for so long.

There's nothing I can do. He's gone. I can't bring him back no matter how much I want him here. No matter how much I wish I was pushing him through the streets where we live, I can't. That isn't the relationship Thomas and I have. Ours is different.

Slowly, and out of nowhere, the longing and sorrow are becoming ordinary. It's not necessarily that they're lessening, it's just that I'm accepting that they're becoming part of me.

I've talked about this - about sorrow being part of who I am - but I didn't understand what that meant until now. It's not happening to me, it is me. It's as much a part of me as my brown hair, long eyelashes and ample bum.

And it's okay.

I don't know why or how, but it's okay.

Sunday, January 08, 2006


My favourite little family sat in front of me at Mass today. They have three little girls ranging in age from about 5 to roughly 6 months. I love watching the girls, particularly the baby. She's a fat, happy little thing and she's always got a smile for me. Today she was wearing a little kitten sleeper in bright, cheerful orange, yellow and pink. I can just imagine how snuggly she felt in those soft little jammies and I just ached to cuddle her.

But of course, I didn't. I smiled at her - at them - like any polite stranger would, and at the end of Mass I quietly and quickly slipped out of my pew and left.

Sometimes I still just have to shake my head. I have three children too, but all mine are dead. Why is that? Why? Why is it so easy for some people to have a beautiful little family and for others it's a task somewhat akin to climbing Mount Everest?

I look at that mother's little girls and think what miracles they are and wonder if those parents know exactly how lucky they are to have brought not one, but three healthy children into this world. I'm sure they know they're lucky, but I'll hazard a guess that they don't know the way I do.

It isn't that I begrudge them their good fortune - their sticky little girl kisses and sloppy, milky baby ones - it's just that I can't for the life of me figure out why them and not me. It just seems so easy on paper. You have sex, you get pregnant and nine months later you take home a baby. It seems so simple...

But right now it's the most impossible feat imaginable.

I hate the feeling that my life is somehow on hold. I don't want that - I don't want to spend the rest of my life with the nagging feeling that something is missing - something more than my Thomas. I can't stand the relentless feeling of longing (for him and for another baby to love). But I can't quite figure out how to shake this limbo.

I move in and out of the days like I'm asleep. Hibernating. Waiting for the spring - for that moment when I see clearly where my life is headed and what my immediate purpose is. Right now I just don't have that clarity and I don't know where to look for it.

If my purpose is not to be a mother to earthly children, then what it is? Why am I here? Why did I go through what I did - what lessons am I supposed to have learned and what the hell am I supposed to do with them?

It's like someone has thrown open the door to the universe and pushed me to the threshold.

Where do I go from here?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Night and day

Finally, a day with sun! All day long - a big fat sun accompanied by a sea of robin's egg blue sky.

It's incredible how much seeing the sun changes my mood. Today was a good day. A very good day.

The first few weeks after Thomas died I would start to get a horrible feeling of dread as the afternoon shadows turned into evening darkness. It was March and I knew there was another month and a half before the days would start to get longer. It terrified me. Those first few weeks were awful in so many ways, and the long evenings were like a shroud that came to smother me every night - it felt like I was suffocating. Once darkness fell it wasn't so bad, but the slow death of the day was horrible, and it came to torment me every night without fail.

I can remember laying on the couch feeling dreadful and useless while My Beloved busied himself in the kitchen making dinner. I would stare at the TV, half watching, while he cooked and ran about the house doing whatever he could find to do in a frenetic attempt to keep himself busy - to keep himself from thinking.

Those days were so unspeakably horrible. Even though I know it was me on the couch dreading the darkness and My Beloved running himself ragged in an effort to block the pain - I can't believe it was us. I can't believe we endured it all. And I still can't quite figure out how.

As I was making the bed today I thought, "what would I answer if someone asked me how I am - how I'm doing?" My standard answer has always been, "Oh, there are ups and downs. Good days and bad days." But today I realized that's not exactly true anymore. I do still have the occasional horrible day (like Christmas Eve) but now mostly I just have days. Days without Thomas. Days as a childless mother. Days of happiness and sorrow.

I'm not back to normal, because I'm not that person and that normal is gone. But I think I've settled into my new normal. There aren't ups and downs like those horrific early days, weeks and months. There is just the steady pace of a life tainted by unthinkable sorrow.

I'm not sure if that's bad or good.

I guess it just is.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A year of blogging

Today is the anniversary of my very first blog. I started peanutsmom exactly one year ago today.

My God. I barely recognize the girl who wrote that first entry.

And it feels like she wrote it 100 years ago.

Reason # 7,465,721

I started Weight Watchers on Monday.

I'm starving.

I just decided that it was time to really take control of things and get myself a little healthier in the event that I do manage to get pregnant again. I'm glad I made the decision, but terrified that soon I'm going to start eating furniture, paper, jewelry and, well, really anything that isn't nailed down.

Why are the people on diet commercials always smiling? There's nothing to smile about. This isn't funny. Hell, this isn't even fun. So quit smiling, you self-righteous skinny people, you! Stop making it look like you're having a good time - I know you're not!! I know you're slightly light-headed, hungry and completely fixated on every single thing that's going into your mouth as well as the mouths of everyone in your line of sight. I know you'd cheerfully shove that guy with the burger into traffic just for a teaspoon of the ketchup on his Whopper.

That's right, I know you inside and out my friend. I am you.

Oh God, I'm so hungry...

Everyone says the first few days are the worst, but surely this can't be right! Am I supposed to be this hungry? Am I supposed to be coveting my neighbour's Jell-o, for God's sake?

Thank God it's not BBQ season or they'd find me wandering from yard to fragrant yard salivating like a stray dog and begging for scraps.

Speaking of animals, have I told you how much I envy the cat and her constant access to kibble? I always make sure her bowl is full. It's like a Las Vegas buffet. Okay, so she doesn't have grits, gravy and fried chicken to choose from, but the food is always out and she can have as much of it as she wants. Lucky bitch.

I just keep trying to remember that I'm doing this for the best reason possible. Not that fitting into a slinky dress isn't a good reason, but wanting to be healthy for a future child is an even better one, and that's my primary goal. I can't be the reason another baby dies inside me. I know that sounds like the war-cry of a desperate crazy lady...wait a second, how did I end up in these fatigues? Where did this helmet come from??

So yes, I'm a little concerned that this is going to turn into an obsession - a distraction from the sorrow that I'll end up embracing with just a little too much fervor - but I'm willing to take that risk for now. I'm generally good at recognizing when I'm headed for the brink and hopefully that skill hasn't left me.

Oh Thomas. How much easier life would be if you were just here in my arms.

Reason number 7,465,721 why I miss you so desperately...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


Oh great. Now it's raining.


In desperate need of some sun

If we don't get some sun soon I'm going to start building one in the backyard.

We're closing in on almost two weeks without so much as a hint of it- and I'm starting to go a little stir crazy. Winter is bleak enough without at least a few appearances a week! I'm starting to wonder if it's even there anymore.

C'mon now, God - flip on the switch!!!

Don't make me beg. Again.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Each more special than the last? Sure.

I took down all the Christmas decorations yesterday. The only thing still standing is the tree (now naked) which I'll have to ask My Beloved to help me carry downstairs. It's a brute.

This is the first year in my entire life that I haven't resisted taking down the decorations. When I was a kid I'd plead with my Mom and Dad to leave everything up just one more day and I never really outgrew that tendency to mourn the passing of Christmas or the urge to prolong it for as long as someone would let me.

Until this year.

I was a pretty happy camper as I put everything back in the boxes and bags they came out of in early December. I was wistful, I suppose, but mostly happy to be back to "ordinary time."

As I stuffed stockings, elves, bows and balls back in their respective off-season homes I briefly wondered what our lives might be like the next time they see the light of day. Will we have another baby? Will I be pregnant? Will we be in the process of adopting? Will we be resigned to being childless?

It's scary to have so many unanswered questions. And the longer I live, the longer that list of questions gets, unfortunately.

I never dreamed that we wouldn't have Thomas with us when I put those same decorations away last year, so what on earth will life be like when I put them away next year?

I stumbled across a card friends of ours sent us last year in the midst of my packing away. It was a beautiful card with a really sweet note written inside. They talked about how exciting this Christmas must be for us (with Thomas less than three months from being born) and how much fun next Christmas would be. Then they said every Christmas after that would be more special than the last. They were, of course, speaking from experience. Their daughter is almost three.

I just shook my head and dropped the card back in the box. "Each Christmas more special than the last." Now that's rich.

I can't picture any Christmas in the future being blissfully complete in its joy. Not when someone so important is missing - and always has been.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

There's a cat on my head

I just surrendered the comfy office chair to the cat (because she asked so nicely). I'm now perched on top of the bum-mangling wooden stool instead. This is going to have to be a short blog because my cheeks are already getting numb.

Perhaps I love the cat just a little too much.

But Lucy's been such a good little friend to me, despite the random puking, the occasional fart in my face and the relentless poking when she wants to get under the covers with me at night. Despite all that I just can't say 'no' to her dumb little face.

I used to worry about how she'd react to Thomas. I was never worried that she'd be vicious - quite the opposite. I worried that she'd love him to death. You hear stories (are they urban myths or true??) about cats that accidentally suffocate babies by crawling into their cribs and snuggling a little too close.

The other night I woke up with Lucy on my head. I think I might well have had reason to worry about her loving Thomas too much too.

It's funny the things you worry about. Every catastrophic thing I could imagine ran in and out of my head a million times while I was pregnant. It was like a marathon for disturbing thoughts the whole 9 months. But the funny thing is I never worried about what actually ended up happening. I knew about abruptions, but for some reason never worried that I'd have one.

I guess that's a good lesson - worrying didn't save Thomas, it only made the precious time we had together less joyous than it should have been. And in the end the thing I didn't worry about was the thing that took him from me. All the worrying I did was completely fruitless. I hope I can remember that if I get pregnant again. I hope it will still make as much sense as it does now, that lesson I had to learn the hard way.

In the meantime all I have to worry about is keeping Lucy off my head.

Oh who are we kidding - I'm a pushover when it comes to small, cute things. I'm sure tonight Lucy will once again be tucked up under the blankets with me or, if she so desires, curled up on top of my head.

To be honest, I don't mind a bit.