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.