Monday, December 31, 2007

Abide with me

I'm not a bible thumper, I swear. I don't think there's anything wrong with being one, I just happen to keep my thoughts about God mostly to myself and quietly do my own thing. Unless I'm complaining about Him here, of course...

But because I found myself ridiculously early for New Year's Eve Mass tonight (I thought it would be crowded. It wasn't.) I decided to kill some time by flipping through my missal. I usually forget to bring it with me but for some reason I remembered tonight. It's all new and red and pretty and it caught my eye as I rushed out the door.

It shouldn't look quite as new as it does, actually. I forget it a lot.

Anyway, the back is filled with hymns and prayers and sundry, which is what I was perusing while I waited. Nothing like boredom to force you into prayer mode.

So when I read this little prayer, which I recognize as an old hymn that I think was one of my Grandfather's favourites, a chill tickled its way up my spine. Twice. My body payed attention to the magic in the words. The divinity, I suppose.

I don't know why, but I think a good spine-tingling prayer is worth repeating, especially in the dying hours of an old year that, for the most part, I'm very happy to see come to a close. Once and for all, and all that.

If it doesn't make you tingle, that's okay. If nothing else, maybe the archaic language will give you the cozies.

Either way, I hope you enjoy. And I hope the close of the year brings you some much needed peace, no matter who you are or what you've struggled with these last 12 long months.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A prayer

If you're the praying kind - or the throwing good thoughts out into the universe kind or the sending positive thoughts someone's way kind or the crossing your fingers and wishing on a star kind - could you please do any and all of the above for a friend whose one-month old baby was just diagnosed with juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia?

We don't need any more sorrow in this already overcrowded blogosphere of grief. We don't need another mother in mourning.

Oh please God, not that...

Friday, December 28, 2007


My Beloved, I think, was a little stung when I made an offhanded comment about the ugliness of 2007.

And, to give him credit, he's correct in saying that it wasn't all bad. Some of it was good. Some of it was very, very good. I just have a very bad habit of dwelling on the things that wore me down and wounded me rather than focusing on the things that lifted me up and healed me.

So, in an effort to achieve some year-end balance, a list of good things that 2007 brought our way...

First, answers. As terrified as I was of the laparoscopy and all that surgery entailed, it did achieve the end we were hoping for. It gave us answers. It told us that the reason we'd been trying and failing for almost two years was the fine weave of scar tissue I'd quietly grown after the C-section and subsequent blood infection. Armed with this information I felt less broken. Less useless. More hopeful.

2007 also brought us our Goddaughter. She was born in 2006, but we were given the honour of becoming her Godparents in July of 2007. I had just found out I was pregnant with the twins, just stepping onto the roller coaster that would chew me up and spit me out a month and a half later. Having that blessing - knowing that we were that loved and trusted and forever bonded to a sweet little girl we both already adored - helped me cope with the uncertainty and sorrow of the weeks that followed.

We are still together. We are still in love. We are still committed to finding the path that will lead us to the happiness we want so badly. We are also still crazy (perhaps increasingly so in my case), but we're crazy together. Always.

Our families are whole and healthy. Mostly. Our parents are getting older, and aches, pains and chronic illness continue to batter them, but they're here. They're still here. Thank God.

The incredible near-toothless beast is still here too. Still warming us up with purrs and headbutts and furry cuddles on cold winter nights. And on hot summer days. And, really, whenever the hell she wants them.

I found two new freelance clients that arrived, as if on angel's wings, a few weeks after the D&C, giving me the much needed distraction of busyness. And it happens to be work that I'm loving so much it almost feels wrong to call it work. But don't tell them lest they decide the joy of doing the job is payment enough.

We have a house. We have food. We have a car. We have enough money to support my crochet habit.

We had a very good year.

We had a spectacularly bad year.

And yet we are still here. Sometimes I wonder how the hell that's possible, but it is. Somehow, it just is.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I suppose I'm slow. I kept wondering why I was having such a hard time with Christmas this year. Last year, after all, was so much better than the year before - the first year without Thomas.

I enjoyed virtually everything about Christmas 2006. I missed the boy, yes, but I truly enjoyed all of the festivities in a way I had been completely incapable of the year before, lost in deep haze of grief.

So I stupidly assumed, without giving it much thought really, that this Christmas would be even better. Even easier. Two Christmases under my belt had to make this one even easier.

Except that it wasn't.

This was a hellish year in many slow, quiet ways. It started in January with the suggestion that we entertain the notion of exploratory surgery because all else had failed. Spectacularly so. Surgery was in March, a few weeks after Thomas' second birthday. It nearly broke me, if you'll recall - the lead up, pure terror. Then a third failed IUI. Then twins. Then a month and a half of torment and uncertainty while we waited for confirmation that the twins would never come. Then a D&C, hemorrhaging and an overnight hospital stay.

And, at long last, the onset of the Christmas season followed almost immediately by the onset of therapy.

Why I thought a year like that would gently wind its way down to a sweet and peaceful Christmas season is beyond me. Maybe I just hoped it would.

But I know better now.

Gotta love the usefulness of hindsight.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Counting down

Christmas used to be merrier once upon a time, but I'm doing my best. I am. I swear I am.

But if I'm being honest (and it seems like I should, just in case Santa's paying attention), I'm kind of looking forward to boxing day more than anything else at the moment.

I can't help it. It's been one hell of a year and I'm just missing too many little people.

Sometimes peace doesn't come when you want it to or when you think it should. In fact that's when it can be particularly elusive. Just because Hallmark says I should feel merry doesn't mean merry is necessarily going to find me.

It might. There's still time.

But if all else fails, there's always boxing day.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

I should have figured this out long ago...

You know what's interesting? After four years, five losses and secondary infertility thrown in for good measure, I needed a therapist to help me realize that not only is it okay for me to be uncomfortable doing baby-related things sometimes, it's okay for me to remove myself from whatever uncomfortable situation I'm in to preserve my sanity.

Holy crap. Why did it take so long? Why did it take this long for me to figure out that it's okay not to be comfortable all the time and it's okay to protect myself when I'm not - that I don't always have to protect everyone else's feelings at the expense of my own?

This woman is definitely earning her money. Definitely.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Ah, the Christmas letter

Here's the thing. I've always maintained that I absolutely do not want to be treated differently by the successfully child-bearing among us. And I still maintain this to be true.

However, I do kind of think people should use a modicum of tact and sensitivity when dealing with the bereaved, especially around this time of year. Especially with a still-fresh loss compounding the sorrow of the three behind it.

Which is why I nearly burst a vein last night when I got a Christmas letter tucked into a Christmas card from friends of our. It was a sweet letter, but it was 98% kid-oriented.

I can't necessarily cope with hearing about all the milestones your 9-month old son has reached, especially when that son was born on the day Thomas was due nearly three years ago. I don't want to hear about how his big sister (born four months after my first miscarriage) dotes on that tiny boy.

This probably sounds cold. Mean, even. I love children. I love all my friends' children. I love holding them and making them laugh and cooing at them.

But I do it when I can. When I choose to. When I'm capable.

When a letter barges its way into my quiet, empty house and regales me with tales of life in a happy, child-filled home it makes me ache with emptiness and longing. It makes my house deafeningly silent. It makes the tree lights burn my eyes. It makes me cry quietly while I'm watching The Grinch with My Beloved.

I know my sorrow and its magnification at this time of year isn't top of mind for most people, particularly those we don't see often, but my God, how does it not occur to people (who, by the way, know about the twins when many people don't) that we might not want to read a "look what my kid can do now" letter?

How does it not occur to them that it might hurt us? How is it possible not to realize that a letter like that shouldn't be sent to people like us?

Just, how??

Thursday, December 20, 2007

It's about time this got some REAL coverage

From The Toronto Star, December 18/07...

Compassion lacking for women who miscarry

Lack of empathy for those who lose a fetus prompts woman to speak out

Helen Henderson
Living Reporter

Kelly Bodanis knows way too much about losing babies.

After three miscarriages in the last 15 months, she's also too familiar with the insensitive way society, and the health care system, often treat women going through such loss.

While she would rather keep her sorrow private, she bares her own hurt and anger in the hopes her story will inspire other women to join her call for change.

"Women don't come forward because they're embarrassed and in pain," she says. "I want to say to them: `Don't hide and stay home.'"

Ten weeks into her pregnancy, Bodanis had her most recent miscarriage last October in the washroom outside the labour unit at North York General Hospital.

"I felt like I had the plague. Nobody wanted to deal with me," she says of that afternoon spent in the emergency room.

"No woman who comes to the hospital with symptoms of a miscarriage should be left waiting for care in a public waiting room," says sociologist Deborah Davidson, who has had two miscarriages herself and volunteers with Bereaved Families of Ontario.

"A system to assess and improve compassionate care for miscarriage should be implemented," says Davidson, who teaches at York University and has completed a PhD dissertation on the subject of miscarriage.

North York General's chief of emergency medicine says his hospital's policy stipulates that the emotional aspect of miscarriage "should never be underestimated.

"Routine practice is to refer the woman to our counselling and bereavement program," says Dr. Tim Rutledge. That includes the services of a non-denominational chaplain, burial arrangements and the guidance of a social worker, Rutledge says.

"I don't know why that offer was not made in this case," he adds.

Instead, after waiting for hours, Bodanis was informed that her blood tested normal, that she had simply had a miscarriage and should visit her family doctor the next day.

"I wanted to say: `How do you know I don't need any medical intervention now? You haven't even examined me.'"

She had a similar experience 15 months before during her first miscarriage, which involved 12 hours spent waiting and being examined in ER at Credit Valley Hospital.

Heather McGillis, director of nursing at Credit Valley, and the hospital's ER manager Janet Cadigan, both say Credit Valley is among hospitals trying to improve emergency services for early miscarriages. That includes co-ordinating with other hospital services and workshops on perinatal bereavement counselling for staff.

And emergency rooms also should be ready to help, Cadigan says.

"We do our best to help with the emotional loss, too, but that can be a challenge on days when we are crowded," she adds.

Too often "the emotional aspect of miscarriage is swept under the rug. It's left to the woman to deal with it," says Dr. Bev Young, a psychiatrist with the perinatal mental health unit at Mount Sinai Hospital.

That depth of hurt resonates at the British-based Miscarriage Association, which offers information and support.

Every time the subject of miscarriage gets media attention, they receive calls from women in their 70s and 80s who want to talk about their own experiences.

"Society views this as not a real baby," Young says. "So people say the most stupid things and physicians are no different. For a woman, the lost potential has to be grieved.

"Most obstetricians won't even book an appointment before the 12th week (of pregnancy) because losses are so prevalent during that period."

Indeed, miscarriages, technically defined as pregnancy losses under 20 weeks, are essentially nonentities – even when it comes to record-keeping.

Statistics Canada places them in a category called "fetal loss," which also includes stillbirths and abortions.

In 2004, the latest year for which figures are available, StatsCan says 2,551 or 0.8 per cent of pregnancies in Ontario ended in fetal loss. That's down from 5,703 (1.9 per cent) in 1995.

Bodanis, an actor and dancer, and her husband Dan, who has his own jazz band, have a healthy 2-year-old son, Sabian. The toddler was born with the help of the high-risk maternity unit at North York General Hospital, the same unit she went to when she realized she was having her second miscarriage last December.

"That time, I was dealing with an obstetrician, a woman who was so considerate, it was as if she knew exactly what I was going through," she says. Bodanis was given an emergency dilatation and curettage (D&C) procedure to clear her uterus.

"The way we were treated there is the way every woman should be treated," says Dan. So in October, when Kelly miscarried for the third time, they headed back to that unit – only to find it closed.

"You can't have a system where miscarriages are treated seriously only if they happen between certain hours," says Dan.

Health Canada guidelines for hospitals say it is "crucial" that women who experience perinatal losses be "treated with sensitivity and that the emotional aspects of their loss, as well as their physical symptoms, be dealt with," says Davidson.

She notes that, in some ways, hospitals have improved their attitudes toward miscarriage more quickly than society at large.

While the care associated with stillbirths and the death of newborns has improved over the last two decades, "compassionate care for women who experience earlier miscarriage is still wanting," says Davidson.

Nursing students are being taught how to support women but "education for physicians is still inadequate," she says, adding she believes bereavement education should be made an important part of medical education.

"Physicians' reactions to a miscarriage range from a somewhat cavalier attitude to an intense level of empathy," says Neal Rote, a Cleveland immunologist who specializes in the field.

"I suspect the breadth of responses does not reflect medical school training as much as the physician's experiences and, regrettably, gender."

When he counsels people, Rote says "I tell them all the things they're going through – the fear about getting pregnant again, the hate and jealousy you feel toward other people's babies, even your best friend – that's universal."

You can find help online

Well-meaning but misguided sentiments from family and friends – "It was for the best," and "You can still have another one" – add to the anguish of miscarriage, says York University sociologist Deborah Davidson.

"To the woman who grieves the loss of her fetus or her baby, these are not comforting words," Davidson says.

Consequently, many women seek solace from websites. Among those offering support:

Perinatal Bereavement Services Ontario,

Bereaved Families of Ontario,

The Miscarriage Association,

Miscarriage Support Auckland,, a site created by Deanna Roy, who lost her first baby at 20 weeks and a twin at 10 weeks.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I've started carrying a chocolate bar in my purse. Just in case. I'm not entirely sure what sudden roadside emergency I can solve with a chocolate bar, but it just seems important to have one with me.


I decided to start seeing a therapist. Four years of trying, failing, loss and infertility have, I have had to admit, finally taken their toll on what's left of my mind. I'm fine - I'm not a knife wielding psycho or anything and I'd prefer you not tiptoe around me as though I am - I just decided I need someone outside my sad little world to listen to me with fresh ears and a heart I can't wound.

I didn't realize how nice it could be to talk to someone who is completely emotionally detached - completely outside my circle. She didn't lose anything when Thomas died. I can't make her sad. I can't slow her healing process. I don't have to reassure her at my own expense.

Nice. So nice. Who knew?


I have tiny little zits all over the end of my nose. Someone needs to tell the gods that I'm not 16. Either that or tell them to return my 16-year old body to me along with the zits. Not that it was necessarily all that fabulous, my 16-year old body, but at least everything was firm and in the right place. Plus there wasn't any scar tissue inside it, no one had yet died in it, and nothing on it hurt by the end of the day.

God, I had no idea just how good I had it.


Britney Spears' 16-year old sister is pregnant.

Don't even get me started.


I'm bound and determined not to go to any more stores, grocery or otherwise, until after Christmas. The holidays bring out the inner maniac in people and I find myself decidedly not filled with the spirit of Jesus when I have to deal with them.

You know, because I'm so perfect and all.


I should, by all rights, be nearly 7 months pregnant with twins right now.

Ain't that a fucking kick in the head.


I'm going to make my therapist a very rich woman.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The bow eating cat

For now, this is all I've got.

I'm fine, just busy and distracted by all the pretty lights and shiny things. Kind of like a crow.

So until I can wrap my head around a proper post, here's Lucy pretending she wasn't just mangling that silver bow...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's been that kind of a week

A broken head, a flu shot, hours of baking, 20 guests, too much sugar, tree decorating, a slightly less broken head, a deluge of freelance work, and now a cold that is slowly sneaking its way down into my chest.

I'm spent.

And how are you?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A public service announcement

I simply cannot deny cookie lovers who beg for recipes. It's too cruel. And besides, I know how important a cookie is when you're dealing with things that are occasionally too big for your head to contain.

So here's my Mom's famous, 1970s era peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe:

(seriously, that's what they're called!)

1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 6oz package of chocolate chips

Heat over to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat butter and peanut butter until blended. Gradually add both sugars and beat until fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Beat flour and baking soda (sifted together) into butter sugar mixtures at low speed. Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop batter from tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets, then slightly flatten each with back of spoon.

Bake 12 - 15 minutes.

Makes approximately 4 dozen large cookies.


Monday, December 03, 2007

Monday Musings

The other night, while adjusting myself mid sleep, I plopped my face down into a puddle of drool. And I don't know if it was mine or the cat's. So I folded that part of the pillow under, gave her a scratch and went back to sleep. Somewhere in my addled brain I'm sure I thought, "EWWW!", but the need for sleep was greater than my need for a clean pillow case. And reasonable hygiene standards.

Sometimes I think we're a little too close, the cat and I.

I can't deal with people getting old. Specifically, I can't deal with my parents getting old. The mental and physical decline that's happening right before my eyes to the two people I've always known as the strongest people alive is weighting heavily on my mind these days.

And my mind just doesn't have enough space for it.

Seriously, I just need five minutes. Can everything just stop spinning for FIVE minutes????

Once I had to crazy glue myself into a skirt. The zipper broke in the middle of the day. Irreparably so. I truly had no choice - a quick assessment of the situation in the bathroom revealed that it wasn't a quick safety pin fix. And, of course, I was going to the Cirque Du Soleil that night - a work function.

Lithe, lean acrobats performed fantastical body-bending feats. While I sat there glued into my skirt.

I made some additions to my links. It's something I put off for ages - until blogs and other sites I want to add here become so numerous (stored in a messy bookmark folder) that I start feeling panicky.

Anyway, they're added and I feel calm again.

Well, about this anyway.

Shouldn't "numerous" be spelled "numberous"? I totally think so.

The other day somebody commented on how wonderful it is that I can feel happiness for others. She said she still has trouble - can't let it go and often avoids situations where she knows she'll be confronted by people who have what she cannot.

You know what? I can't let it go either. I am happy for those whose dreams have come true. But it doesn't change the fact that I'm sad for me. For My Beloved. For my parents still waiting to cradle a living grandchild. For my sister still waiting to spoil a living niece or nephew. For my in-laws who want to erase the sorrow in their son's heart. For my friends who just want my dream to finally come true.

No amount of happiness for someone else will ever erase my sadness. It's always there. Always.

In short, I ain't no saint.

I've been baking up a storm lately in preparation for company on Saturday. Seriously. If you'd walked into my kitchen at any point during the last three days it would have looked like a sugar, flour and butter hurricane had blown through the room leaving crumbs, batter and 49,000 dirty dishes in its wake.

It was peanut butter chocolate chip cookies this evening, and I was happily working away when that familiar uselessness washed over me.

My Mom made these particular cookies all the time when I was little. The smell of them baking, all peanut buttery and delicious, made me feel cozy - brought back so many sweet memories of childhood and of her.

But there's no child here. No one to absorb the sounds of baking clatter, the scents of freshly baked cookies, the warmth of a winter kitchen.

I'm not making memories for anyone except me. I'm just a woman alone in a kitchen.

Que sera, sera? Geez, someone needs to smack that Doris Day.

Oh well. At least I have cookies.