Thursday, September 27, 2007

Sorrow upon sorrow

Sweet, wonderful, kind and compassionate Lisa (More Than My Share) lost her battle with cancer on Tuesday evening, surrounded by her husband and family. She miscarried two dearly loved babies in 2005, then struggled with infertility before finding out she had lymphoma late this spring.

More than her share indeed.

Thanks so much to Catherine for posting this message from Lisa's husband Greg, who now faces a life without a woman so many of us came to know and love through her words, her humour and her endless support.

When they put trying to have a baby on the back burner while she underwent chemo, she sent me a giant pack of OPKs she'd bought and hadn't had a chance to use. I used them the cycle I conceived the twins. She didn't know that. I never told her. When things went bad for us this summer I shut down and went into hibernation mode. There were so many e-mails of support I didn't respond to, and hers, God bless her, was one of them.

I'm just sick that I didn't tell her how much it meant that she reached out to me while she was in the throws of something so terrifying and, ultimately, so much bigger than what I was going through.

Even now, I'm wasting space talking about myself - assuaging my own guilt.

Lisa, I will miss you dreadfully. I'm sorry we found each other under the circumstances that we did, but I'm grateful and blessed to have had a chance to know you and to be carried along by your support and friendship for as long as I did.

God's speed, my friend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Any suggestions?

I have a meeting with my priest tomorrow afternoon to talk more about my idea for a Mass/liturgy/prayer service for babies lost to miscarriage, stillbirth and perinatal death.

If anyone has any suggestions at all for such a service, please e-mail me or leave me a comment here with your thoughts. I have some ideas I want to run by him, but I would love to hear from anyone who has been to such a service or helped organize one.

And if you've never been (I haven't either, by the way - I'm flying by the seat of my pants here) but, as a bereaved parent, know what you'd like to see and experience a ceremony dedicated to your lost children, please feel free to share that too. Every little bit of information will help me to present the very best possible plan to my priest tomorrow and, I hope, make for a very healing and memorable service.

Thanks so much.

Monday, September 24, 2007

It actually seemed like a good idea for a split second

We watch a lot of reality TV, My Beloved and I. Rocker Moms, 'Till Debt do us Part, Rich Bride Poor Bride, My Super Sweet 16, Wedding S.O.S, Nanny 911 - whatever happens to tickle our fancy, amuse us and/or make us feel a little less pathetic (there's nothing like watching people humiliate themselves on TV to make you feel better about your own particular lot in life).

Last night during during a commercial break we had the following conversation:

HIM (with a mischievous twinkle in his eye): They should do a show called "Sob Story".

ME: Sob Story?

HIM: Yeah, you go on and tell your sob story - like a Baby Story or Wedding Story but different - not so happy. And we could go on it.

ME: Ooooh yeah, and at the end of the show they turn your story into a happy one by giving you whatever it was that you lost. THAT'S how we could get a baby!

Oh the wacky, morbid humor of the childless and bereaved...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

But I'm still okay

We went to a Fall craft fair this afternoon, My Beloved, my sibling and I. Even though I was initially disgruntled by the unseasonably (and decidedly un-Fall-like) warm weather, it really was the perfect day for strolling along outdoor corridors lined with craft booths.

I could have spent a fortune, but I ended up leaving with a catnip toy for Lucy, a tiny stained glass stocking ornament for the tree, a bar of cranberry olive oil soap (sounds weird but smells wonderful) and pumpkin honey, courtesy of my sibling.

It was, as my Dad would say, delightful.

And the whole time I felt peaceful and happy. I enjoyed myself. Really and truly.

Yeah, my uterus ached a little whenever we passed a booth filled with gorgeous handcrafted baby clothes, but as long as I kept walking (at a good clip) and didn't let my eyes wander, it was okay.

The whole day was just so good. So much like old times - the old me.

The funny thing is, I'm not entirely sure why I'm still managing to feel so good. A spate of recent births has brought up some very vivid flashbacks over the past few days.

Without warning I find myself in the OR staring at the back of the hulking pediatrician as he instructs the team working on Thomas. His gown draped over the front of his massive shoulders, the ties dangling down his back. His hands on his hips, his body bent over the tiny, lifeless body of the son I can't see and haven't heard.

Or laying in my hospital bed splayed out like a thief about to be crucified as nurses try to find veins in my arms that hadn't collapsed while a small, humourless doctor staples up a leak in my incision.

Or looking out the bathroom window of my birthing suite at the dark, almost-spring sky and the snow drifted up in mounds along the side of the roof. Before the epidural, while I could still walk. While Thomas was still alive.

They keep popping into my head, these flashbacks. They usually end with a wince and a shake of my head as I force myself back to the present. Back to a life that somehow feels okay despite having memories like these.

I wonder if people who have normal births and take home live babies do this when they hear about three or four people giving birth within a few weeks of each other. I wonder if a volley of births does this to everyone or if it's just me - just those of us who didn't bring our babies home.

I don't know.

I wish I could quiet the memories. But at least they aren't intruding so much that they're ruining the progress I seem to have somehow made, against all odds.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Woe is me

And suddenly, without warning, I'm having one of those "why won't MY body do what it's supposed to??" kind of days.

Why won't my body keep any babies safe?

I will give a million dollars and my left arm to anyone who can come up with an answer.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I wish some people understood things as well as D.H. Lawrence.

From Lady Chatterley's Lover:

"And dimly she realized one of the great laws of the human soul: that when the emotional soul receives a wounding shock, which does not kill the body, the soul seems to recover as the body recovers. But this is only appearance. It is, really, only the mechanism of re-assumed habit. Slowly, slowly the wound to the soul begins to make itself felt, like a bruise which only slowly deepens its terrible ache, till it fills all the psyche. And when we think we have recovered and forgotten, it is then that the terrible aftereffects have to be encountered at their worst."

Now there's a man who gets it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

And I lived to tell the tale

When we took down Thomas' nursery, we carefully packed away all of his things in big plastic tubs which have been sitting in the basement ever since, carefully stored on a large shelving unit at the bottom of the stairs.

Sometimes, in my haste to get out into the garden or grab a can of tomatoes off the pantry rack nearby, I'll fly by the shelves filled with his things without giving them a thought or glance. Other times I'll find myself standing in front of the collection of clothes and nursery items lovingly chosen for our little boy so long ago, running my fingers along the containers. Or just simply staring, arms dangling useless at my sides.

After two and a half years it somehow feels normal to have an assortment of brand new baby things for a child who never came home to use them. Not necessarily easy, but normal. And having them all tucked away in their own little spot in the basement meant they were safe. They couldn't be harmed, nor could them harm me. It was an excellent arrangement.

Over the years we've donated a few things here and there - things that I knew I wouldn't use for another baby and didn't feel sentimentally attached to - but probably 85% of Thomas' things are still down in the basement.

Waiting for a baby that never came home. And for more babies that may never come at all.

It's probably a self defense mechanism - or me finally facing what is rapidly becoming a likely conclusion to this four-year saga - but after I lost the twins I found myself thinking more and more about the possibility of the days of baby making being behind me. Not because I want it to be that way, but because it probably is.

No decisions have been made and no medical opinions are leading us in this direction. It just somehow feels like it's over in a way I can't exactly describe, but know I've never before felt.

It was those feelings that somehow made it possible for me to venture down into the basement, retrieve two tubs of the sweetest little baby clothes I've ever seen, and go through them to find a few outfits for a friend who just had a baby boy of her own. After two losses, she understands what it's like for dreams to turn into nightmares.

Those tubs have been sealed tight for two and a half years. And I've been dreading the moment when, for whatever reason, I had to open them up and come face to face with tangible evidence of Thomas' loss. Dozens of outfits, sleepers, receiving blankets, hats, booties, burp pads, towels and washcloths don't lie. A baby was supposed to live here. All those unused items - most still with tags on - tell the grim tale in a shockingly real way.

And so even though I desperately wanted to share some of Thomas' things with my friend and her son, I was terrified of what I had to do to achieve that end.

But the thing is, I survived. I more than survived.

I lugged two massive tubs upstairs one sunny afternoon last week, cracked the lids and found peace. I looked at all the sweet little fuzzy sleepers, the knitted blankies my Mom made, the t-shirt and sweater my sister brought back from Ireland - and by some miracle I found a measure of peace.

I felt sorrow too. There's no way to go through you dead child's things without feeling sorrow. But it was the peace that surprised me. Seeing his little clothes and remembering the shopping trips and showers that brought them to me was a joy. It's like the memory of 9 months of excitement have been trapped in those tubs all this time, just waiting for me to open them up and set them free.

What was also surprising was how easy it was for me to separate Thomas from a pile of unused baby clothes. They were his, but they're not him. Keeping them entombed in the basement won't bring him back.

The things he wore - the things that actually touched his tiny body - I will always keep. They're tucked away in his drawer upstairs. And the blankies from his Grandma will always have a home here, as will a few selected items that hold too much sentimental value for me to part with. But I can see now that if there's never going to be a baby in this house - if that's what the future does in fact hold - I can part with the rest of Thomas' things.

I hold him in my heart. That's where the most important part of him lives. It always did, I just didn't fully realize it until last week - until another little boy came into the world and helped me heal.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The good, the bad and the ugly

On Sunday afternoon during a quiet moment I realized, with both relief and horror, that I was feeling good. I was actually feeling good.

It's a combination of things, I think. I'm no longer worried that I'm going to unexpectedly bleed to death, I picked up some freelance work that's hopefully going to keep me busy for the next few months, and I made it through the first 5 days of Weight Watchers (a little hungry but otherwise relatively unscathed).

I think it's the combination of those three things that has made me feel so much better. And yet so guilty too.

With healing comes the recognition that the sorrow - the only thing you knew of your lost children - is getting easier to bear.

And while that's great from a "pick yourself up, dust yourself off and carry on with your life" perspective, it's also agonizing to know that the one thing that connects you to those children is the one thing you need to try to get past.

Except for the brief moments of strangled hope we had that the twins would be okay - that we'd find two little heartbeats in there eventually - all I know of them is sorrow. In a strange and horrible way it feels like healing from the sorrow means healing from them.

It's unbearable to have all your children so inextricably linked to such agonizing pain.

When I think about Thomas I do remember all the joy he brought while I was pregnant - the hope for his future and the dreams for his life and ours. And when I look at his pictures I'm flooded with a love that overwhelms me.

But in the end, I still know he died. I can't think about Thomas without ultimately thinking that he's not here. That no matter how much my body aches to be able to hold him just one more time, I never, ever will.

I've been thinking so much about him lately. Playing his birth over in my mind and remembering those horrible moments I try not to think about.

He is the face of all my sorrow. The only child I ever saw or held or really "knew" in any tangible way.

And then I feel guilty again. Turning my attention to Thomas when I should be thinking about the two little tigers who only just left me.

Grief is a monster I'm not sure I'll ever truly understand. And at the same time, one I know all too well.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


A very, very dear friend safely gave birth to her third child this afternoon. Both mommy and baby are doing just fine after a frightening pregnancy fraught with complications (and preceded by two devastating miscarriages).

It's moments like this when somehow the world just seems fairer.

Happy birth day little Button.


Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Clearly I need an editor.

It didn't occur to me that it might have sounded like I was scolding hundreds of people yesterday when I said I was sad that some friends and family have simply faded away. I wasn't - honestly. There are just 4 or 5 "in real life" people that I'm surprised I haven't heard a word from since I miscarried the twins, that's all.

I understand it might be difficult for them to reach out to me. My God, what DO you say to someone who only breeds tragedy? But at the same time, I'm kind of tired of having to cut people slack. I have enough to do (what with the grieving and healing and figuring out where the hell to go from here), and I just don't have the energy to add trying to worm my way into the minds of the silent few to the list.

I think this is just what happens sometimes. There are people who simply can't deal with tragedy and prefer to fade away. Unfortunately I don't have the energy to reel them back in this time. I just don't.

But luckily we have many incredibly supportive friends and family members that can deal and do give My Beloved and I unending support in all its varied forms.

For that - and for those brave souls - I am eternally grateful.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Where did I go?

I've had so many thoughts running through my head during the last two weeks, and none of them even remotely coherent. But one thing that that seems to keep rearing its ugly head is how much it bothers me that all of this has taken the me from me. Starting with the first miscarriage nearly four years ago.

I know life experiences change you, even the happy ones. I'm a different girl than I was before I met My Beloved - but I like the way that changed me. That's the difference.

Four years of trying and failing and mourning has made me someone who struggles too much and has missed too much.

It's hard to explain.

The last couple of months have been mentally exhausting to say the least, so I didn't have the energy to do what I would otherwise have done. I didn't visit my mom and dad as often as I should have or wanted to. Days passed while I sat in seclusion waiting to miscarry or waiting to hear good news or absorbing bad news or having ultrasounds or making appointments. That's all I could deal with. It's all I could think about. And when I did venture out it took so much effort. I had to put on a good face, answer questions, reassure others, pretend the sky wasn't falling. Pretend to be the me I used to be before hell broke loose.

I haven't supported friends who needed it because it was all I could do to support myself. I missed virtually the entire summer that my sister was off. We had great plans and hardly did any, and when we did it was to distract me. It was always about me.

And I hate that.

I've been on autopilot for what feels like forever.

Somebody asked how I was doing a week or so ago, and I said it's like I'm not quite part of this earth. I can see the beauty in a sunny day, for example, and I can want to be part of it, but I'm outside that bubble of pleasure and joy. I can recognize that it exists but I can't partake in it. I can long for it but I can't have it. Not yet. And not because that's the way I want it, but because that's the way it is.

Multiply this by four separate losses, and this has been my life for the last four years. Obviously losing Thomas took the greatest toll - and still does. And obviously the out-of-body kind of sorrow that is most intense right after a loss hasn't plagued me relentlessly all this time, but enough for me to have intense regrets about what I've missed. About what I should have done. About the time that has slipped away while I've been mourning and healing and mourning again.

And then there are the people who have quietly slipped away while I've been dealing with my losses. Some family, some friends, all quiet as church mice and nowhere in sight. Not a word since I lost the twins - not a word since I knew I was going to lose them. Is it because they can't deal with this much repeated sorrow and drama? Is it because I haven't done enough to keep them part of my life? Is it because out of sight, out of mind is much more comfortable when someone appears to be as cursed as I do? Is it easier for them to wait for the storm to pass? Is it because this has become so routine for me they think I don't need them anymore - that I'm used to it all by now?

Is it because I really am as different as I think I am, and this is what happens when you change so much?

I don't know. Add it to the list of things I just don't know anymore.

So I'm trying to focus on taking back some control. I'm starting Weight Watchers again today, for one. I've gained back 14 pounds since the lap in March and I need to nip this upward trend in the bud. I need to regain control over the body that so stubbornly refuses to be a safe haven for our children. I can make it do this, at least.

And I'm trying to formulate a vague plan for the rest of me. I have some freelance work that should be starting up soon, with any luck, and once those projects are established I'll figure out what else I can fit into my work schedule. And look for more.

As for trying to have more children, I just don't know. I don't know if my heart can take any more loss, and I don't know if my body can take any more trauma. I've been lucky enough to survive two surgeries with frightening complications. Is it tempting fate to risk it one more time? I don't know. We don't know. Not yet. It's too soon to know that yet.

For now it's still about healing and trying to find myself in all this. One more time.