Wednesday, April 30, 2008


As I was wheeling my grocery cart out to the car yesterday, in a bit of a foul mood because I'd trailed a woman with a baby boy all the way through the store, it dawned on me that maybe part of the reason I'm sometimes consumed with sorrow and envy is because I've put myself directly in the line of fire. Working from home, and homemaking when I'm not working, means I'm in a suburban world all the time. I never leave it, and the only people who reside here with me during the day are old people, stay at home moms, and moms on maternity leave.

I'm in their territory 24/7. We shop at the same time, avoiding stores filled with weekend shoppers who have no choice but to cram their carts down crowded aisles with the rest of the commuters who can't get to the store any other time. We cross paths constantly during the week, me and the moms with living children.

This realization made me feel infinitely better. I'm sometimes in awe of My Beloved who doesn't seem bogged down with the weight of grief and envy in the same way that I am. I know he misses Thomas every bit as much as I do. I see the sorrow in his eyes when he thinks I'm not looking. But he's not functioning on a day-to-day basis in a world where Thomas' absence is palpable. There's a Thomas-sized hole in my back seat, grocery cart, and hand.

We should be together while Daddy's at work.

Instead Daddy's at work and I'm here without Thomas. Working, yes, but still in the same place we would have shared had he lived.

I certainly don't mean that My Beloved has it easier than I do. He works like a dog while he's away from this mom-filled suburban world, and I absolutely know for a fact that there are Thomas-sized holes in his life too; ones that I'll never fully understand because I can't even begin to fathom what it must be like for a man to lose his only son.

I just think that maybe some of my healing is being hampered by geography, that's all.

This is an interesting thought that took three years to come to me. The challenge now is to figure out where to go from here.

Ain't that always the way?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Last night I had a dream that I was about to have a C-section. My Beloved and I were standing side-by-side, carefully laying out the new baby's coming home outfit on my hospital bed. As I straightened out the little sleeper and matching booties My Beloved had just handed to me, I made the assertion that this one indeed WOULD be coming home, even though I'm pretty sure I didn't believe it.

We were somber but pretending not to be, because that's not the right pre-delivery mood at all. Unless, of course, you've gone home to an empty nursery. My Mom sat in the corner of the room looking terrified while I tried to fake everyone out with my false optimism.

The dream slipped away into a different one before I found out what happened.

I would consider entertaining the notion that it might be a prophetic dream were it not for the fact that last night I also dreamed that I was rooting on my best friend Jennifer Aniston in a cooked chicken throwing contest.


Monday, April 28, 2008


We had a garage sale on Saturday and I'm pleased to report that the declutterification efforts of the past few weeks resulted in a tidy $154 profit. And a LOT more space in the basement.

I do have to say though, that it's very interesting that people will haggle on a $2.00 item that's worth way more than that.

I mean really? REALLY? You won't pay a measly $2.00? Really?

Whatever. I'm glad the extra set of jumper cables went, even if it was a bargain at the haggled-down price of a buck.

After revealing to Therpist Lady that I have a blocked tube and a malformed uterus (things I guess I neglected to mention when I was regaling her with my litany of gynecological/breeding horror stories at our first meeting), her jaw dropped.

"I know," I said, about to launch into the standard, "Can you BELIEVE there are so many things wrong with me?" tirade. But she cut me off, then told me how in awe she was of my body.

My response was to sit there blinking in confusion until she explained.

"You have a blocked tube, scar tissue issues, a bicornuate uterus and you were STILL able to get pregnant FOUR times? Wow. What a strong, healthy body you must have!"

We were flush with pride, my body and I - for about 10 seconds. I mean it still doesn't mean much when none of those pregnancies resulted in a take-home baby.

But it was nice to hear praise for a body for which I feel nothing but contempt most of the time.


Sometimes I wonder if knowing why you feel/think a certain way is useful if you still think/feel the things that bother you.

I wonder this as I hand over my $120 cheque after each session.


Therapist Lady also said that she was reading some infertility/loss related materials and pointed out that my negative reactions to the Spring stroller parades and new pregnancy announcements may be more a result of my belief that it's never going to happen for us again than it is mourning what we've already lost.

I suspect it's a combination of both.

It hadn't occurred to me that I might be already mourning a loss we haven't even had yet, but it's possible. It's very, very possible my reactions are now more to do with what what we still don't have rather than what we've lost.

But again, I don't know if knowing this makes any difference at all.

I still hate the way I feel when I see the strollers go by. Does it matter why?


I hate to think I'm disillusioned with therapy after just four months, but this last session left me feeling a little cold.

Generally I find it helpful to talk about what's rattling around in my brain, but I guess I'm at the point where I'm feeling better, but wanting more from the experience. Feeling better is good.

But feeling better than better is what I'm really looking for.

I guess it takes longer than four months to sort out five years of pain.

I guess.


It's a cold, rainy Monday. Can you tell?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


This perfectly timed e-mail forward landed in my in-box this morning. Thanks, Kathy. oxox

The Daffodil Principle

Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, 'Mother, you must come to see the daffodils before they are over.'

I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead 'I will come next Tuesday', I promised a little reluctantly on her third call.
Next Tuesday dawned cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and reluctantly I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house I was welcomed by the joyful sounds of happy children. I delightedly hugged and greeted my grandchildren.

'Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in these clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see badly enough to drive another inch!'

My daughter smiled calmly and said, 'We drive in this all the time, Mother..'

'Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!' I assured her.

'But first we're going to see the daffodils. It's just a few blocks,' Carolyn said. 'I'll drive. I'm used to this.'

'Carolyn,' I said sternly, 'Please turn around.'

'It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience.'

After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand lettered sign with an arrow that read, ' Daffodil Garden .' We got out of the car, each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, as we turned a corner, I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight.

It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers.

'Who did this?' I asked Carolyn. 'Just one woman,' Carolyn answered. 'She lives on the property. That's her home.' Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.

On the patio, we saw a poster. 'Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking', was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. '50,000 bulbs,' it read. The second answer was, 'One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain.' The third answer was, 'Began in 1958.'

For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration. The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration.

That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time--often just one baby-step at time--and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world.

'It makes me sad in a way,' I admitted to Carolyn. 'What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years? Just think what I might have been able to achieve!'

My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. 'Start tomorrow,' she said.

She was right. It's so pointless to think of the lost hours of yesterdays. The way to make learning a lesson of celebration instead of a cause for regret is to only ask, 'How can I put this to use today?'

Use the Daffodil Principle. Stop waiting...

Until your car or home is paid off
Until you get a new car or home
Until your kids leave the house
Until you go back to school
Until you finish school
Until you clean the house
Until you organize the garage
Until you clean off your desk
Until you lose 10 lbs.
Until you gain 10 lbs..
Until you get married
Until you get a divorce
Until you have kids
Until the kids go to school
Until you retire
Until summer
Until spring
Until winter
Until fall
Until you die...

There is no better time than right now to be happy.

Friday, April 18, 2008

It's my party and I'll suck out if I want to

PMS and a great big, fat, ugly 38th birthday looming.

Not fair. Not fair at all.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Full disclosure

What to do, what to do.

My therapist was puzzled when I told her that we (well, I really) had decided to shut off the free-flowing tap of information regarding what was going on in my uterus after the miscarriage this past summer.

Everything was so overwhelming. Our world rocked, shook and crumbled. Again. Times two.

I saw the joy that floods My Beloved's body and soul every time I find out that I'm pregnant turn to anger, sorrow, confusion and disbelief. I saw it in the faces of our family and friends. I saw it in the mirror.

Anguish. Pity. Sorrow. Fear. Fury.

It was at that point that I decided it was better to shut the hell up. For their sakes, but for mine too. I was drowning and I needed to reclaim some of my lost privacy, as well as, I hoped, some peace, space and quiet.

And it did help. For a while.

But now I wonder if my silent movie act has pushed people away. I did what I did because it was the right thing to do at the time, but it's left me feeling cut off from some of the people I love and trust most in the world, and feeling like I have no one to turn to but My Beloved.

And it has made me edit myself here, which is sometimes utterly agonizing. I've always used this space to sort out the jumble of thoughts rattling around in my brain, and to not be able to do that as fully and freely as I've wanted to is getting increasingly harder to bear.

For months I have kept my mouth shut (well, fingers really), and I think I need to stop doing that. Once again, for my sake.

Knowing how much you want to say and how much you need not to say is such a delicate balancing act when it comes to issues of infertility and loss. I need people to respect my privacy while still letting me talk about extremely personal, private things.

It barely makes any sense at all. Except that it does.

So, in the interest of getting things off my chest after 7 months of silence, the long and the short of it is that we're still trying and still failing.

And that's all she wrote.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

We now join a conversation in progress...

"So, if someone like, say, one of your sisters or someone we knew said they'd just give us a baby that they didn't want for some reason, could we say we had a home birth and register it as our own without actually going through all the adoption rigamarole? Would anyone find out? I mean, are people required to have midwives or someone official present at a home birth to verify who it actually had it?"

"I don't know - maybe you need to have blood tests or something to prove its yours."

"Oh. Yeah, maybe."

"But I was thinking the other day, what about if a spaceship crash landed..."

"And we found a baby like Superman in the wreckage and took it and raised it as our own?"

"Yeah. I mean, maybe then we could just keep it and register it as our...hang on, are we seriously trying to figure out the logistics of keeping an alien baby without going through proper adoption channels?"

"Uh, yeah. Yeah, we are."

"Well that's what you call complete desperation, isn't it?"

"Uh, yeah. Yeah, it is."

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Taking a page from Julia's book

Julia over at I Won't Fear Love wrote an amazing post celebrating her blogaversary in which she describes her attempts to participate in what she calls "The Reverse Pain Olympics".

The Pain Olympics is, allegedly, some sort of an odd game (and not a particularly fun one, from the sounds of things) in which participants compete to determine who has the most miserable, sorrow-riddled, horrible story. There appears to be some sort of point accumulation system, and the person with the largest number, and hence the most unimaginable amount of pain, wins.

Wins what, exactly, I don't know. Bragging rights, I suppose. Although one has to wonder what kind of person would want to win a competition in which the prize is the ability to brag about how pitiful and pitiable you are.

Not my cup of tea.

And not Julia's either. She has suffered. Oh how she has suffered, giving birth to a stillborn son whom she never saw breathe, blink or smile. But she is steadfastly refusing to fall victim to the pity game, and she always has. Instead, she opts to recognize that what happened was unfathomably horrific, and then make a concerted effort to see that, impossibly it would seem, things could have been worse.

She's not denying her pain or downplaying her grief and sorrow - or the loss of her son. She's just trying to cope with it by seeing the good too.

And I like this idea very, very much. I'm guilty of participating in my own quiet Pain Olympics. Not with other people and not for points, but I have caught myself wallowing in the death and destruction around me with just a little too much reckless abandon. Feeling desperately sorry for myself. Gnashing my teeth and crying "woe is me!"

Sometimes I really do think that's necessary and unavoidable. You have to allow yourself to feel your pain in order to process it properly and make it something you control instead of the other way around.

But there are days when I know I'm enjoying my pity party just a little too much. It doesn't happen often, but it does happen. It's easy to become complacent and give in to the temptation to feel dreadfully sorry for yourself, especially when it feels like the world seems to take great delight in kicking you when you're down. But the thing is, I worry that it's not a far leap to becoming the kind of person who expects everyone else to do the same. All the time.

And I can't have that. I can't.

So, following Julia's lead, I'm going to try to focus on the good.

Like the fact that I was able to get pregnant at all, and that I had the joy of carrying my beautiful boy to term. That I felt him move and poke and wiggle inside me. That he was a healthy and perfectly cheeky little monkey. That I felt him live.

And there's the fact that I didn't die. That I survived the hemorrhaging during the C-section and the septicemia after that.

That I was able to announce four pregnancies to our family and friends and bring joy and hope to their lives, even though it was brief.

That for a little while I carried twins that I conceived while we were on a "break" from the clinic - twins we made without any help at all.

That I didn't die during the D&C when I hemorrhaged again. And that although I came very close, I didn't faint or throw up the delicious blueberry bagel My Beloved was finally able to bring to me 9 hours after the surgery when they determined I wouldn't need a repeat D&C.

Not fainting and not throwing up rock.

I am not yet completely insane.

I am not yet completely bereft of hope.

I am surrounded by love.

I am surrounded by support.

I am still here to finish whatever it was I came here to do.

And I am a mother.

Monday, April 14, 2008

And once again, free to good home...

It's not that I don't think this book has value - it's a fantastic resource, it really is - it's just that it's taunting me mercilessly from my bookshelf with its promises of successful reproductive bliss.

And quite apart from the taunts, at this point in the game I'm pretty sure I probably know more about trying to conceive (specifically the multitude of catastrophic disasters that can befall those engaged in said activity) than the author.

I could sell it at our upcoming garage sale, but there's something icky about putting a book about female fertility and gynecological health out for all your neighbours to see.

Too much information.

So anyway, if you're willing to Paypal me a couple of bucks for shipping and you don't mind the book's inherent cruelty, it's yours!

The first to respond in the comments gets it!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

S'not fair!

I passed by the big park at the top of our street on my way out to run some errands this morning and I was stunned by the number of moms there with their little ones. It's been such a cold, miserable winter and except for the little toboggan hill, the park has been deserted.

Spring has brought it back to life.

As I passed by it occurred to me that I'm a complete outsider when it comes to this little part of my community - this little group of people. I keep my yard neat and pretty, I pay my taxes, I clear the sidewalks of snow, I throw salt down when it's icy - but I don't belong at the park. I have no child to push on the swings.

Yes, I know I have every right to be there, but I don't belong there. Having the right to stand in the sand and watch the kids play doesn't make it something that anyone, me especially, would feel comfortable with. Just because I can go, doesn't mean I should. Or that I belong there.

I've touched on this with therapist lady. At my last session I was bemoaning the fact that unless you have a child or a dog, no one talks to you when you're out and about walking or gardening if they don't already know you. People nod and say a polite hello perhaps, but there's no stopping to chat.

And when I'm with someone who happens to have a child, I'm the forgotten blob beside the stroller with nothing to say. Which works out fine because no one is particularly interested in talking to a childless, dogless blob anyway.

This is sounding incredibly sucky. I know that. But it's really bothersome to have a whole little exclusive subculture right in your own backyard that you can't have any part of because you don't meet its membership requirements. Having a leash or a stroller gets you in.

I have neither.

I have a cat, but she views the outdoors as a great big scary room that she wants no part of. She's absolutely useless for membership purposes.

I'm extremely lucky that I have some very good neighbour friends (both moms) who don't give a rat's ass that I'm woefully under equipped. They're friendly with me regardless of my childless/dogless status. They're just friends. No rules or requirements involved.

But the community at large is my issue. The way it's broken up into clusters of haves and have nots, leaving the nots with our noses pressed against the park gates wishing we could come in.

I know that moms have every right to have impromptu gatherings in the park, and I know that mom & tot programs at the libraries and community centres are invaluable resources to new moms as well as stay-at-home moms. Okay, ANY moms.

But it doesn't make it any less isolating to see the groups and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I don't belong.

The only groups available for the kind of mother I am are bereavement groups. And that's just no fun at all.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Just the seven of us

My Beloved and I just came back from a chilly evening walk. I liked the nip in the air. It was warm today, and the first really warm day of spring always shocks me a little. I revel in it, but then find strange comfort in the returning coolness of the evening.

We walked through a new area abutting our subdivision where they're throwing up more houses, and as we padded along the middle of the street, dirt piles and construction materials all around us, I noticed our shadows stretching out in front of us like giants.

And, as I always do when I see our two lonely shadows walking side by side, I imagined the little ones following along, just out of sight. As the wind pushed against me I pictured five little wisps swirling and twirling in the eddy behind us while we walked along the quiet street.

And they were there. That sudden comforting presence. They were there.

I tend to think of my babies as children I've lost. And while this is obviously true, it's incredibly comforting, and necessary I think, to remember that they're still with me in many ways - that they do follow My Beloved and I through life, because they belong to us. Because we're a family. Because they came from us and we will always be connected by the love that created them.

It was one of those moments that somehow should have been melancholy, but wasn't in the least. They were there, close enough for me to feel them, but still so very far away. And yet all I felt was the joy of knowing that their spirits live and that they love us enough to stay so near.

There was no sadness.

Imagine that.

Monday, April 07, 2008

WOW. It's like looking in a weird little mirror...

Serenity now

I've spent the last few weeks cleaning and purging in preparation for a joint garage sale we're having with my sister at the end of the month. She's moving and needs to purge in order to make her gorgeous new home (a beautiful old bungalow in our old neighbourhood where our parents still live) as neat and organized as possible when she moves in.

I need to purge to clear my brain. We're not moving, nor do we have any plans to, but the clutter in the house (even the clutter hidden in boxes neatly lined up on shelves in the basement) has been bothering me a lot lately. I can only assume that the need to take charge of the overflowing nooks and crannies in the house is a direct result of my inability to control anything else in my life. Biologically speaking, of course.

But it's a hard pattern to break.

I hold onto everything. Sometimes because I think I'll need that scrap of ribbon, empty box or piece of cardboard for something one day. But usually because I'm deathly afraid of getting rid of anything even remotely connected to the people I know I'm going to lose one day. It's like I need to be the memory keeper, even though I don't know if I'll ever have anyone to whom I can pass along the memories contained in all those little bits and odds and ends that represent my life and the lives of the people that came before me.

It's why I still have gift tags written by my Grandma who died nearly 18 years ago, enough used greeting cards to open a Hallmark museum, and countless boxes containing scraps of paper, trinkety momentos and stuff most people would simply assume was trash.

It all means so much to me. Because I'm a sentimental fool.

But I'm trying hard to ignore the inner packrat who's shrieking in horror at the pile of stuff on our ping pong table destined for the garage sale, and instead listen to the inner Zen master who is practically orgasmic at the leaps and bounds I've made.

She has been wanting to get rid of those 9 years of Reader's Digest back issues for a long, long time...

It feels good to simplify. I want that kind of life - that kind of mind.

I think it's totally okay that I'm faking it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A public service announcement

Please, for the love of God, if you live in the Greater Toronto Area visit Cravings Ice Creamery at Dundas and Third Line in Oakville. They're open 7 days a week, noon to 9:00pm, and they serve what may possibly be the world's greatest ice cream.

I kid you not. And I never exaggerate. Ever. Not once in my entire life.

It's a family owned business (and no, not a branch of my family, although if they were they'd be my favourite relatives), and I'm terrified that it's going to go under and leave me ice-creamless, simply because family owned businesses sadly so often just don't seem to make it.

I'm what the kids call an ice cream connoisseur. Trust me, I know my ice cream (you need only look at my ass for proof) and I'm telling you, The Ice Creamery people know what they're doing.

They push samples on you like crazy, waving little plastic spoons in your face from the moment you step in the door (which is how I know that the apple crumble tastes just like a piece of apple pie and that I suspect rum & raisin might leave you a little tipsy if you eat enough of it). Seasonal flavours like egg nog, gingerbread and pumpkin pie for the holidays are reason enough to venture in, but it's the warmth and charm of the owners that will keep you coming back.

Okay, I'm lying. It's totally the ice cream that will keep you coming back.

And if you go, you're likely to see my ass in there too.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


My Beloved and I were having a conversation about my lingering guilt the other day on our way home from our annual Thomas birthday mission (which was delayed a few weeks by a couple of circumstances beyond our control).

He doesn't understand, but I don't really expect him too. He thinks I blame myself, but I don't.

For 9 months I did everything I could to make a healthy baby and I trusted professionals who I had faith in. I did everything I possibly could.

I didn't know the pain I was feeling during labor might have been the start of the abruption. How could I? How could I possibly know the difference between two degrees of agony? I didn't know that taking Thomas off the monitors while they took me into OR for the C-section would be when the abruption would complete itself. If all the nurses and the OB missed the signs of the abruption, how could I have caught them?

I did all I could. I don't blame myself. I'm not at fault.

My body is.

And that's the guilt I can't let go of. That's the guilt I don't have any idea how to expunge from my heart and mind. From my soul.

It wasn't my fault, but it was still my fault. Me as an entity, as a thing physically designed to fulfill a biological role in procreation.

There was much grimacing, hair pulling and sighing as I tried to explain this to My Beloved.

He said he doesn't feel any guilt and just couldn't understand why I do.

I finally told him that, as much as I hate it when people say this kind of shit, if you haven't carried a child inside your body and then been unable to keep it safe and sound when it mattered most, you can't possibly understand the guilt of living in that body in the aftermath of the death and destruction it caused - the catastrophic failure.

You just can't.

To be quite frank, I'm a little frightened of this particular guilt because I don't know how to control it and I can't see it ever, every going away. I've talked myself out of the other guilt I used to feel. I comforted it all away long ago.

But this miserable specter of physical responsibility remains.

I can't make peace with my body for the way it failed us and as long as I can't make peace with it I will feel this agonizing guilt.

I want to walk away from it so badly it hurts. I can imagine what it must be like and how much farther along the path of healing I would be if I wasn't dragging this anvil of burden behind me every step of the way.

I envy My Beloved the peace he has knowing with such verifiable certainty that no part of him is to blame. Or ever was.