Friday, November 30, 2007

Three of us, three of them

I can't remember a time when I didn't know that my Mom lost her first baby. It feels like I've always known, which is probably partly because I'm so old. I can't remember the beginning of a lot of things things. Hell, my head is so full I often can't remember much of yesterday.

But I digress...

I've thought so much about my lost brother or sister over the years. There was a time when I was a child that it preoccupied me endlessly. I decided that the baby was a boy and prayed for him at church and before bed, all the while wondering what life would have been like if there were three children instead of two. Me and two siblings instead of just one. Me with a big sister and a big brother.

Of course I never bothered to try to figure out the logistics of this feat. My Mom became pregnant with my sister just a few months after losing the baby, so clearly Kathy wouldn't be here if that first child was.

But details like that aren't important when you're a kid all caught up in the romance of having a mysterious lost brother. A secret sibling.

I remember being so affected by the tears in my Mother's eyes when she would talk about that long lost child. I was in awe of the strange bond that she shared with him and, truthfully, probably a little jealous. Which is, of course, totally ridiculous. But having never seen my mother cry over me it was jarring to see her express such sorrow and love for a child I'd never known. And would never know.

Her eyes still fill with tears when she talks about him. He would be 42 in May. Forty-two, and yet the pain is still so acute that it brings tears to her eyes.

This is endlessly comforting, even though there is certainly guilt in taking comfort from someone else's pain.

But the thing is, knowing that she still misses her child this deeply makes me think that it's okay that I still cry. That I still mourn. That I still think about my lost babies too. I came to the conclusion that this is the way it's always going to be a long time ago, but my Mother's tears validate it in a way that nothing else can.

And so my brother means that much more to me. Is that much more a part of the fabric of our family in an awful, but also loving and healing way.

He matters. Just like all the little ones do.

In the days and weeks following her miscarriage, my Mom worked on an art project to occupy her mind and soothe her spirit. I didn't know this until that art project found its way into my front garden last week after I coyly finagled its liberation from the back of their garage. Just in time for Christmas.

Knowing its history, particularly with the history of sorrow I now carry in my own heart, makes it even more special to me.

It reminds me of love and family and loss and bonds that are never, ever broken. Not even after 42 years.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

For Christy

This morning I found out that one of my "virtual" friends died last night, just two and a half weeks after having her second baby. A little boy.

She never suffered the loss of a child, but she certainly went out of her way to reach out to those who had. She held my Thomas in her heart and made sure I knew it. She and her first child, a little girl born two weeks after Thomas, celebrated his birthday every year by making donations in his name and sending me beautiful and thoughtful gifts that showed me must how much they cared - how much his life impacted theirs.

Last night an unknown infection took her life, taking her from her husband and her family, and the two beautiful children she loved so much.

I could rant about the unfairness of it - about the seemingly random nature of fate that wreaks havoc on the people who least deserve it - but I'm just too tired. Too sad. Too heartbroken for Christy's sweet little babies and her husband who is now all alone.

Instead, I'm going to do what Christy did, and ask you if you'll consider doing the same. This Christmas season try to find someone who is suffering in some way and reach out to them - even if it's someone you don't know all that well. Find a way to show them that you care - that you're not afraid of the sorrow that might be eating them alive or the circumstances that have brought them to a place of loneliness and despair.

Christy did this for me. She was never afraid of my sorrow. She was never afraid of my pain. She was never afraid to reach out to me. Ever. She just quietly went about the business of trying to ease my pain by showing me how much she cared, and by remembering my little boy with so much love.

And for that I will be eternally grateful.

Godspeed Christy, and thank you, my sweet friend, from the bottom of my heart.

Monday, November 26, 2007

No man's land

Sometimes I wonder who's still reading. I write for me. I write because at least for now, this form of therapy keeps me on the friendly side of sanity.

But I wonder, after all this time, who is still out there. I'm not fishing for reassurances or asking people to reveal themselves. If you're here, I'm glad. If you're not, that's okay too. Truly.

But sometimes I wonder. So many people have moved past the spot where I'm still standing. And I just wonder what possible relevance anything I have to say has for the lucky ones who are no longer walking this road with me.

While I know this is not true, I sometimes feel like I'm the only person in this sad little blogging community who is always standing still. Never moving anywhere. I've worn down a neat little trench from all the pacing, and spend all my time waving goodbye to people who were once in the trench with me. They've either gone on to birth or adopt a living child, or have made peace with the reality of never adding another child to their family. Either way, they've moved on.

And I'm still here. I know it's not a race or a competition or anything else equally distasteful. It's just life, and I'm ecstatic when it lurches forward positively for someone else - particularly after struggles and losses and ungodly sorrow.

But I wonder why I always seem to be standing in the same spot day after week after month after year. Just losing and grieving and not moving anywhere.

Don't get me wrong, seeing other people move on is healing. Seeing the dreams of shattered people finally realized and watching those people glue a tiny piece of their hearts back together in the process is wonderful. It makes me see that there is hope and justice and peace. Eventually.


It's just that I'm still here in the trench. In no man's land. And it's lonely sometimes.

I need to make it very, very clear that I do not begrudge anyone this happiness. This is what I WANT for all the incredible friends I've made since my world shattered and I discovered this community of similarly wounded souls. I want it so much for each of them.

I just happen to want it for me too. One way or another.

And I'm tired of standing here by myself waiting.

I'm sick today, and feeling extremely sorry for myself (just in case you hadn't noticed).

Friday, November 23, 2007


We caught a little bit of the Santa Claus parade while we were in Montreal. We didn't stay for the whole thing because it was very cold out. And we were hungry. And we're pussies, evidently. But we watched a bit of it and enjoyed soaking up the Christmas atmosphere.

It's funny just how barren you can feel when the crowd you're in has a median age of four. And you're easily outnumbered by them 5 to 1.

We eventually gave up the excellent curb-side spot we'd secured to a family with a toddler in a stroller and another one very obviously on the way.

And I felt somehow small and ashamed by my childlessness.


Four days in a hotel is the precise amount of time it takes for you to become completely used to someone else making your bed, cleaning your bathroom, vacuuming your floors and making every single meal for you.

Coming home to a house with no staff sucks ass.


I'm procrastinating at the moment. My plan is to take Thomas' Christmas wreaths to the cemetery today, and it always requires a little mental preparation before I make the trip.

Fortunately it's a lovely, sunny day.

But, well, my boy is still dead.


I got a hair cut yesterday afternoon.

My stylist is a bit of a wing nut, but I forgive her because she has been kind and tactful enough not to ask me any prying questions about children or my uterus since she heard the whole story during my inaugural visit. I love her for this.

I did catch her taking what she believed was a furtive glance at my tummy, but I can overlook this indiscretion. I should have told her that any bump she may have seen was just one too many croissants.

Lord, those Montreal croissants are good...

Anyway, I love my stylist and the cut is excellent, but I don't for the life of me know why she insists on blowing my hair dry into a ridiculous bouffant.

I know now to make my appointments late in the day when the only place I need to go afterwards is home.


I shouldn't have mentioned croissants. My tummy heard me.


I think they should start building space shuttles out of whatever my purse is made from. I bought this thing at least four years ago (as a reward for making through a particularly annoying Monday at work) and with the exception of some very minor wear (that's virtually invisible unless you're inspecting it closely) it looks brand new.

I don't know how this can possibly be since I use it year round, but I'm increasingly curious to see exactly how long it's going to last. At this rate it's conceivable that it might outlast ME.

The best thing? It was dirt cheap - something like $35, as I recall.

But it's cute. I swear it is. Shut up, it is.


I'm out of material. It's time to head off to the cemetery.

This is NOT the life I ordered. Why does it feel like the longevity of cheap purses is the only thing I can rely on?

Well that and, thank God, My Beloved.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

More evidence...

Why I feel the need to incriminate myself, I don't know. But I'm too tired to think straight (post vacation letdown/fatigue) and this picture sums up the great Montreal gorge-fest of '07 perfectly...

Monday, November 19, 2007

Our 5th anniversary getaway, or, How I used my anniversary as an excuse to eat my way through Montreal

In case you think I'm kidding, I give you exhibit A:

These are the remains of our last dinner in Old Montreal (I packed away one more pierogi and scarfed down most of the sauerkraut after I took this shot).

The restaurant was Polish. We were hungry. Kismet.

And yes, as a matter of fact those are three plates you see there on the table. As yes, there were only two of us on this trip. We ordered three dinners that night, just 'cause we could. It was that kind of a trip.

C'mon, it's very, very hard to choose between peirogi and potato pancakes.

We loved Montreal. It tastes really, really good.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

How many people does it take to make a family anyway?

I just got a courtesy call from what appears to be a bulk grocery delivery company (although their website doesn't specifically claim to be a Costco-style organization).

The very cheerful and friendly sales rep said we could save money on our grocery bill, and I'm all over saving money, so my ears perked right up.

CHEERFUL SALES GUY: "Do you have a family of three or more people in your house that you're shopping for?"

Oh shit. Yeah, I know where this is going. I got a call from you people a few months ago. The lady hung up when I answered "no", without so much as a thank you or a goodbye.

ME: "No, we don't."

CHEERFUL SALES GUY: "Oh, well you won't be needing us then."

Nope. Not until we can manage to bring a live child home. Until then there's just the two of us and our sneezy cat. Evidently we aren't enough of a "family" to warrant discount grocery offers.

Fuck you very much.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My favourite MOO

I loved this outfit. I remember the day My Beloved and I bought it.

I was physically incapable of avoiding the baby section of any store while I was pregnant with Thomas. I can't even fathom the number of hours I spent wandering through racks of impossibly tiny clothes, touching their softness, holding them up, choosing between them. Smiling.

We bought the MOO outfit at Old Navy. I fell in love with it instantly and knew it absolutely had to be Thomas'.

I'm sure I'm not the only pregnant woman to stand in front of her unborn child's closet staring at all the little sleepers, sweaters and leggings, dreaming of the day her baby would wear them.

The MOO outfit was, for some reason, one of the ones I just couldn't wait to put on Thomas. I could so vividly imagine how cuddly he'd feel in the little velour pants and how cute the funny little cow top would make him.

We all know how the story ends. Another little boy wore the MOO outfit instead.

But you know what? I still love it. And I'm eternally grateful that I've finally been able to see a cuddly baby boy wearing it.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Crib recall

ASHINGTON (Reuters) - Bassett Furniture Industries Inc is recalling about 8,900 Chinese-made baby cribs because the bolts can loosen, posing an entrapment and strangulation hazard, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Thursday.

The company has received 85 reports of bolts connecting the top corners of its "Wendy Bellissimo Collection Convertible Cribs" loosening. In one case, a 13-month-old child's hand became trapped between the railings, the agency said.

The cribs have been sold at Babies "R" Us stores in the United States since July 2005 for about $500 each, it said.

The recalled cribs are model numbers 5945-0521 and 5545-0521, sold in honey and cherry finishes. Other Wendy Bellissimo Collection cribs are not involved in the recall, the agency said.

My first thought? "Whew, it's not our crib. These cribs were made in July 2005." I was four months into the grieving process by then.

Yeah, how marvelous that I don't have to worry about having a defective crib because they were made after our child had already died.

Marvelous. Simply marvelous.

But you, you should check your crib just in case, okay? Do if for the crazy lady who can't rest until she knows you have...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

NOW can I have a cookie?

I feel like I owe the world an apology for the way I sometimes see things. For my occasional inability to find joy where everyone else does. For my penchant for feeling gut twisting jealousy when I have no business doing so. For my angry thoughts. For my twisted sense of logic. For my inability to pray. For my lost patience. For my tempers and moods and self pity.

Or maybe I do have the right to see life through these jaded eyes but just have trouble making the justifiable fit into the nice, pretty, organized world around me. The world that doesn't like to think that people feel the way I do sometimes, justified or not.

You know, I worry incessantly that I'm turning into someone ugly and bitter that people are eventually going to opt not to be around.

Which then makes me want to fall to my knees in a tear and snot filled frenzy and beg for forgiveness.

When I try not to be the ugly person I am inside during these moments of torment, I end up feeling like a fraud. And a confused one. Is trying to be a better person actually not being true to yourself? Is trying to change the way you feel about something lying or healing? Can you re-train your brain after something so earth shatteringly tragic has altered it?

I never used to be like this. I swear I didn't.

I'm at war with my head today. Can you tell?

I don't fault other people who are grieving and recovering for the feelings they have or their reactions to the ordinary that is suddenly anything but. I never have. But for some reason I have a hard time cutting myself the same slack.


I think I need a cookie. That's the only answer. Clearly.

So, you know, if you have a really good recipe that you're willing to share and you feel so inclined, I'm all ears.

I could use the distraction...

(You can't see it, but I'm furiously batting my eyelashes here - and I'm not too proud to pout...)

Monday, November 05, 2007


Last year around this time I was able to soothe away the rising infertility-induced panic by repeatedly telling myself that by this Christmas I would either be pregnant or we'd be well on our way to adopting a child.

What a silly, stupid girl I was.


I've been awakened on and off during the last few nights by a sneezing cat and a snoring husband. Fall allergies are making them both very noisy in the night.

They're lucky they're so cute.


Yesterday I bought a personalized memorial Christmas wreath for Thomas to go on his grave. It really bothers me that when snow covers his marker no one knows he's there. This will remedy that little problem.

I told My Beloved it made me happy because there's nothing else I can do for him at Christmas but buy stuff like this.

"Well maybe if you took him more places..." was his reply.

The morbid jokes never get old. We're sick bastards, the two of us.


The other day My Beloved and I spent two hours wandering up and down the main street of our town window shopping. It was the perfect way to spend a sunny, Fall afternoon.

It would have been even more perfect if we hadn't kept alternately passing and trailing a pregnant woman and her husband. The last straw was when she came out of the chocolate shop and stuffed her face full of it as I passed by.

Come on, not chocolate AND a baby!!



I'm not bitter. I'm just drawn that way.


On Sunday I wrote down the names of my angels and my grandparents in the Book of Remembrance after Mass, as I do on the first Sunday in November every year.

I don't think people who haven't had losses like this realize how gratifyingly soul soothing it is to have the opportunity to say "I had children and these are their names."

They lived. That's all I want people to know. They lived.


The Lotto 6/49 jackpot is 35 million tomorrow.

Wouldn't that be a humdinger? I know money can't buy happiness, but it would still be very nice not to have a mortgage. I think the universe owes us that at least.


We're going away for a few days in a few weeks and I'm terrified that something is going to happen to my sneezing, sleep-disrupting cat.

We certainly don't think of her as a surrogate child, but we're both very attached to the hairy little beast just the same.

I'm sure she'll be just fine - we have a plan in place for feeding and watering and attention-getting - but I worry just the same. I think I'll spend the rest of my life fixated on some sort of irrational worry.

It's what I do.

I have no upper body strength. It's a fact.

When I told someone recently that My Beloved says I have "decorative arms" she awwwwed and isn't-he-sweeted like crazy. That is, until I clarified that it isn't that he thinks my arms are pretty, it's that he thinks they're functionally useless.

Oh how we laughed, me and my decorative arms.

I'm addicted to 90210 reruns.

Why is it that getting lost in the 80s and early 90s is so soothing?

If it wasn't for pornaments and 90210...

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Time does not heal all wounds. I probably believed that it did once upon a time, but now I'm only willing to say that it merely dulls a wound's pain. Some wounds don't ever fully heal.

But a dull pain is still a nice alternative to writhing in agony, if I do say so myself.

The first Halloween without Thomas was agony. The little Old Navy Halloween sleeper we'd picked out for him would have fit him that year, and it's all I could think about all day long. Last year was a little easier. There were no Thomas-sized clothes in the house by then. He would have outgrown all the things stored in the basement by October 2006.

This year, although I admit there were quiet tears midway through the day, was the easiest yet. I missed my boy like always, but the pain wasn't as acute. I didn't dwell quite as much on what we don't have that all the other parents coming to our door did. It just didn't occur to me the way it did last year.

And this, while it's a good thing really, makes me uncomfortable. It's not that I want to stay mired in unshakable grief, but not feeling it the same way I used to is somehow disturbing.

Is it numbness? Resignation? Healing? Denial? Or is it just habit? I'm so used to grief that I sometimes don't notice it anymore.

My body has been a giant, clenched knot since I lost the twins. I can feel the grief. I wear it like a coat right now, this newer grief I haven't been able to shed or fully absorb yet.

But the Thomas grief is changing over time. I notice it in my reactions to annual events like Thanksgiving and Halloween, and the different ways I react to his absence each year.

It's good. I think I'm doing good. But it's still a little unsettling for each day to feel so "new". Grief is a journey in so many ways and I'm always moving through it, around it, past it. I'm always moving. Always adjusting to the new way I feel.

I move and ache all at the same time and I don't have time to rest.

Going forward is the right thing to do and I'm glad that for some reason that's the direction in which I'm headed. But what I wouldn't give for a just one minute of stillness and silence and rest.