Monday, December 28, 2009

The truth

My Beloved and I were out for a very chilly walk this morning, and while navigating icy spots along the trail on which we were plodding, it dawned on me that we are very much alone. In circumstance, I mean.

Amongst our closest circle of friends and family, we are a complete oddity. Within that circle there have been probably 10 children born since Thomas died. And two more are expected in 2010. And outside that circle? Countless births. If you include Facebook friends and neighbours, the number probably rockets into the 20s or 30s, if not more. Easily.

And we're still just the two of us. Always walking along life's slippery paths alone, together.

The thought made me so sad, in a way I probably can't explain. Maybe it's the human need to be truly understood; to have someone say, "yeah, I get it", and know that they really do.

We are endlessly grateful and so incredibly fortunate to have such supportive friends and family who, despite not being in our shoes, regularly offer us limitless support, the warmest kind of comfort, and open-armed acceptance into their child-filled worlds.

But we are not of that world. And I'm always aware of that fact.

I'm aware of it when I don't know if a one-year old can have the chips a three-year old has just given her. I'm aware of it when I say "ass" in the presence of a child and have to clamp my hand over my mouth to keep something even worse from popping out. I'm aware of it when my arms tire after just a few minutes holding someone's baby. I'm aware of it when it takes a parent 15 minutes to explain all the rules to me before leaving me to care for their wee one. I'm aware of it when a crying child I'm aching to comfort reaches for its mother instead.

I'm just always aware that I'm different, floundering about in a sea of experts who do know how often babies need to eat and how much sleep they should be getting and how long nap time needs to be.

And I'm aware that this isn't normal. This is not what anyone expects of a woman, for God's sake. We are programmed to care for children. We are built for it, body and soul. It's just not considered "normal" to be without offspring in tow.

And we, the childless, know that. And so there we are; oddities sticking out like proverbial sore thumbs.

I suppose all this self-absorbed, self-pitying ruminating is part of yet another sort of grieving process.

We've lost all our babies and now we know there are no more children in our future. So the settling in process has begun.

I realize I sound markedly less Pollyanna-esque than I did in July. And I promise I was being honest then, abounding in optimism and fortitude and all that good stuff. But I suspect I was trying to convince myself that what I was saying really was true. Or maybe it even was, back then.

But now, five months later, I know a different truth.

This is hard.


I'll make it out alive. I'll figure this out like I've figured everything else out since life shat all over me and My Beloved.

But fuck me, it's hard.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

NOW I get it...

So here's what I've learned (and it's only taken me five Christmases to figure it out...): Christmas Eve is probably always going to suck. I will wake up with a heavy heart and won't be able to shake the melancholic mood until necessity forces me to put on a happy face at my in-laws' house later in the evening.

But eventually the Christmas spirit (or what now passes for it) will worm its way in, and as the evening progresses my smiles will become genuine and my laughter will feel as real as it sounds.

And wine will help smooth out the rough edges and blur the inevitable sad moments just enough to make it impossible for me to see them too clearly.

And it's okay. It's okay to turn inward and recognize my pain, then move it gently aside and enjoy whatever moments of joy might happen to come my way.

Sorrow needs to be acknowledged. Not indulged, necessarily, but certainly acknowledged. Because it's there. And it ain't going anywhere.

We, the bereaved, spend an inordinate amount of time trying not to be bereaved. And all it does is make us feel guilty and useless when we can't seem to shake the sorrow. Because sorrow cannot be shaken. Period. You can't outrun it, out think it, or out manoeuvre it.

Accepting that things cannot be what they were and allowing ourselves the luxury of feeling our real feelings without shame or guilt is the best gift we can give ourselves at Christmas - and the best hope we have of feeling something besides sorrow once it has been given its due.

I just hope I remember this lesson, which took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out, next year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Small talk

I spent a fair bit of time at a Christmas cocktail party on Saturday explaining to someone I don't know all that well why we're not pursuing adoption.

It was surreal. As other people's children milled about and groups of people chatted and laughed, I stood by the crab dip trying to make him understand.

Because he asked. And I'm sure when the answer he wasn't expecting met his ears he was instantly sorry that he did. I saw him recoil, just a tiny bit, as his eyes widened in horror.

Not, I don't think, because my answer was, "No, we're not adopting", but because he suddenly realized he'd put me in a position that would require me to justify a childless existence. Because most people don't live that way. Clearly. All you had to do was look around the room.

It's so unfathomable to people. They want us to have children. They want us to be parents to a living child, and they think that if the answer doesn't lie in my uterus, it must lie somewhere else. And I get that, I do, but unfortunately, it's just not that easy. Not for us, for reasons I'm sure we could never properly articulate to anyone's satisfaction if we tried.

Maybe we're wrong. Maybe we're absolutely totally wrong to have made this decision. And maybe we'll change our minds one fine day. But for right now, this is what is right for us, no matter what you think.

No matter what the man beside the crab dip thinks either.

Friday, December 18, 2009

'Tis the season

Nearly five months of silence.

So it's time for some rambling, I think. 'Tis the season, and all.

I realized, probably not for the first time, but for the first time this year, that the things I do at Christmas post-Thomas are things I do to cope with Christmas post-Thomas. The obsessive ornament buying, the totally over the top cookie baking for the annual family Christmas tea we started hosting the year Thomas died, the ornament making party, the explosion of garland, tinsel and lights all over the house.

It's all busy work. And a bit of a disguise.

Which makes me wonder what Christmas would look and feel like if I didn't try so hard to make it magical. If I didn't wear myself out quite so much. If I just took some time to sit and listen and let the season quietly work its way into my soul on its own terms.

I've been doing this - busting my proverbial (and literal) ass in an effort to prove to everyone that I am full of Christmas spirit and also just fine, thank you very much - since that horrible first Christmas without him.

And while I've been so busy trying to demonstrate my fortitude, I haven't really let anyone do anything for me. I haven't let anyone scoop me up, plunk me down and take care of me during this season when my heart feels both so full and so empty I can't fathom that it even knows how to beat anymore.

I haven't shown the people around me that I'm still vulnerable. That while I love Christmas, it also hurts. That maybe I need a little extra TLC these days, or at least a pass if they find me slightly out of sorts at some point during the back-to-back festivities (all of which I promise I really do enjoy in my own way).

I steal moments, finding empty corners of unused rooms in which to regroup. But I do it secretly. As if there's something wrong with needing a moment to breathe.

I've put an inordinate amount energy into avoiding the need for pity by proving my strength, and to my own detriment. Because now, now maybe I want people to take a moment and whisper that they remember. That they miss him too. That he is not forgotten and never, ever will be.

And now they probably won't. Because they think I don't need it.

Or worse, that I don't want it.

Because I've worked very hard to show that I don't.

Stupid, stupid me. Although, in my defense, who the hell is good at grieving? Especially this kind of grieving?

I think I've done well these past four years and nine months. As well as I knew how, anyway. But I've learned some lessons, and I'll be making an effort (because it's always about effort, isn't it?) to tone down the Christmas dog and pony show next year.

I think it's time.

Next year will be for me.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

No one thinks you're funny

Tonight I picked a 6lb 2oz, 19" long zucchini from our vegetable garden.

God thinks he's soooo funny making it baby sized and hiding it from us long enough to grow it that big.

Oh that wacky God. What a kidder.

Fortunately for him I like zucchini bread.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The journey

Moving, moving, moving. Always moving forward. Which is, of course, the only direction that makes any sense.

Saturday we took two carloads of Thomas' baby things to a maternity home in a neighbouring city. All those precious odds and sods and sweet little things we were lovingly given, and purchased ourselves, with such hope and love and optimism.


But it's good. It is.

It started the week before last when I took the crib, a play mat and a bag of smaller items to the church for a needy family who'd just had twins. I cried all the way home. And then I sobbed face-down on the couch for another 20 minutes once I finally reached the safety and comfort of my quiet little house.

Father G. asked if I wanted to have the mother contact me and arrange for pick-up or drop-off, but I just couldn't. I want the things gone - off to homes with living babies to use them - but I can't know specifically where they've gone. I can't bear to see the family whose babies will lie snug in my dead son's crib while I'm sitting at Mass trying not to hate God. And I can't bear for them to see me. And know.

He was, as always, incredibly kind and understanding, engineering a drop off/pick up plan that would ensure that none of us would have to meet.

And that's how it began. The great purge.

The last load, just a small one now, will go off to another maternity home in my old hometown sometime next week.

And it's as it should be.

The most sentimental items I just couldn't part with are safely tucked away. Knitted items lovingly made by my Mom, stuffed toys chosen by my sister, and a few things I bought and just couldn't send away. They're still here.

And now it feels right. Clean. Peaceful.

I'm sure, in time, even the remaining items will be whittled down to just a handful of things - especially if any new nieces or nephews find their way into our family - but for the time being, I'm holding onto those last few dear bits and pieces.

It was hard to get to this point. It has been an unbearably long road. But once I found myself standing at the end of it, it just made sense. One day while My Beloved was dutifully cleaning out the cat boxes, I happened to turn my gaze to the disassembled crib leaning against the opposite basement wall where it's been for the last four years, and just knew.

Just like that. I knew.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility that we'll find ourselves with a magical, healthy pregnancy that blossoms into a living child at the end of it. But I hold out no hope for that now. Not really.

And I'm okay. I am.

I'm slowly embracing this new life in small, quiet ways. And I'm coming to terms with what a childless future will mean to us. And what it will look like. Even all the way at the end of it.

I was talking to a friend who is childless by choice the other day, and it was like what I imagine the first breath of pure oxygen is like for a firefighter in the midst of a smoke-choked room.

My stories? Where will they go?

"Write a book", she said.

And my things? What about my things?

"Donate them to a museum."

And company when I'm old?

"Make very, very good friends with your nieces and nephews. And remember, there's no guarantee that even if you had kids they'd want to visit you in the home."

She then sagely pointed out that there's also no guarantee I'll even get old. Bad shit happens, as we all know. All too well.

There are other ways to live. There is a life out there - even if there are no living children in it - filled with possibilities, and laughter, and hope, and love. And, most importantly, meaning.

There is still worth and meaning to my life. I'm positive of this. I believe raising children is probably one of the most fulfilling and meaningful things a human can do. And one of the most important.

But it's not all there is. And those of us who have no choice but to prove it? Well, I guess that's just what we'll do then.

And in the meantime, there's a new kitten in the house. Filling it with chaos, ungodly early wake-up calls, deafening purrs and endless entertainment.

He's not a substitute for a baby. He wasn't brought into the house for that.

But he is, I realize, part of the process. He is here because I am carrying on. Moving instead of standing still. Looking forward instead of behind. And searching for new joys and new happiness in whatever form they happen to take.

Life takes you where it wants you to be. The secret is being open to whatever newness it holds, and to resist the urge to claw your way back to the past and stay there, mired in the remnants of a phantom life that no longer exists.

I can't bear living like that anymore.

I'm ready for the newness.


Dibley, June 26/09 - 9 weeks old

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

The eyes have it

I've started about four billion posts in my head since April 13th, but none of them seem to find their way to the computer screen.

I'm stymied by my inability to figure out exactly what to say. This really is so unlike me. Truly. Just ask My Beloved.

I've also been busy in the garden and busy crocheting and busy getting on with things in general, in the profound absence of anything useful going on in my uterus.

And thinking. I've been thinking too. All. The. Time.

My conclusion? Really, I think it's over. I turned 39 a few weeks ago and it behooves me to face facts like the great big grown-up woman that I am. If I'm unwilling to submit to further surgeries and testing, it's very likely that I've had my last child. Seen my last second pink line. Announced my last pregnancy.

It's over.

And there is so much to say about all that, I just don't know where to begin. I could write volumes on that alone.

Life flourishes all around me. A child on every square corner of my street. Pregnant friends popping out of the woodwork. Multiples. Surprises. They're everywhere.

Except here.

And the thing is, I need to be okay with that. Because this is what it is. This is my life, for better or for worse. Every day I breathe in and I breathe out and the myriad possibilities of a clean, white day stretch endlessly in front of me.

I can write whatever I want on that page. Perhaps I can't be a mother to a living child, but I can still be.

I can grieve my lost babies and still be something more than just a woman grieving her lost babies. This is not the end. I am not finished.

Yesterday I had tea with someone I haven't seen in nearly three years. I've lost two more children since the last time our eyes met. And in those eyes I saw fear. She was afraid of me. Of the person she must be worried I've become. Of my loss and my grief and all the horror I've witnessed and felt. Maybe of the things I might say, the craziness I might suddenly exhibit, the tears I might spontaneously shed.

And it broke my heart. Because while there is an indelible story of grief written deeply in my heart, I'm so much more than that. And I want people to know it. I want them to really, truly know that I am devastated by the loss of my son and by my inability to carry the other four babies we wanted so very much, but I am alive and I have survived and I have thoughts and dreams and hopes that have nothing to do with the carnage of the last six years.

I want it to show in everything I do, and in everything I say, and in everything I don't say.

I want to be walking proof that there is life after loss.

A good life. A happy life.

Monday, April 13, 2009

This 'n that. Photo essay style.

See? I've been doing stuff - honest! I just haven't been talking about it much.

I'm sure I'll find my voice again. I'm just mulling and musing.

I'm good at mulling. Some may call it over-thinking, dwelling or obsessing. But I prefer to call it by less distasteful, more benign names.

Even if they're secretly all one in the same.

P.S. Thanks to My Beloved for the most excellent photographic stylings.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

She's alive!!!!

I have no reasonable excuse for my unprecedented two week absence. And no, I wasn't biding my time before coming back with a spectacular long-awaited announcement either.

Same old same old. Busted uterus. Fucked up periods. Cycle number 62 halfway in the bag.

And so I just haven't had much to say. I think there comes a time in every loss blog when this happens, particularly when a subsequent successful pregnancy fails to materialize.

Most loss blogs eventually morph back into pregnancy blogs and then baby blogs and then parenting blogs. Still, of course, with lingering sorrow and grief issues woven throughout.

But this one? This one never seems to change. And I'm not sure where to go from here.

I don't feel done, exactly, I'm just not sure what's left to say. At least not right now when I'm still sitting in a childless limbo, unsure of exactly where we're headed.

Direction should help.

I'm just having a little trouble nailing that down.

Until then it feels like I'm spinning my wheels. Talking about the same things over and over and over.

Which, to be honest, I'm perfectly happy to do. But I worry that this is all I'll ever be if I continue to focus on it. I am more than a bereaved parent. And I'm slowly moving back into the world from whence I came before five small souls drifted in and out of our world without a sound.

But in the meantime, while I straddle these two worlds, I find it hard to know what to say in this little corner of the universe. And so, obviously, I'm struggling with regularity. As far as blogging goes, that is.

But I'll be around. In fact I'm here every single day.

I'm just not sure I'll be here as often.

But who knows. I've been wrong in the past.

Plenty wrong.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Yesterday, after I commented on some pictures a friend posted of herself on Facebook when she was pregnant with her son, we got talking about being pregnant. I was 30 weeks behind her, but for a while we were pregnant at the same time. She asked me if Thomas was a "kicky pants", if he ever got the hiccups, and if he poked me all the time like her cheeky little monkey (who is now a great big almost five-year old!) did.

We traded stories, back and forth.

Yes, Thomas got the hiccups a few times later on in my pregnancy. I remember the gentle, rhythmic movements and feeling so terrible that I couldn't do a thing to stop them except talk soothingly to my lumpy belly while I rubbed it.

No, Thomas wasn't a kicky pants. He was an acrobat - moving in and out of breech position long after he should have had room to do so - but a relatively gentle one. He used to poke me regularly in one spot, just under my left rib cage, and he used to tap dance on my bladder every once in a while. But mostly, he was calm and gentle.

As we chatted, my friend and I, it got me thinking about how nice it was to talk about Thomas without talking about Thomas dying.

We all know how the story ends, so it was really nice to focus on the middle bit for a while instead. Reliving those perfect, blissful moments when he was alive and thriving. And I was undamaged and happy.

It made me miss him like crazy, but it also made him feel so very, very real again.

While it's busy bringing healing, time also has a cruel way of stealing the reality of a lost child. It dulls the only memories you have of that little one, taking you farther and farther away from the moments you had together.

It's a necessary evil, I understand that, because we desperately need the the healing time brings.

But we need the memories too, and I'm so grateful to my friend for not being afraid to ask. For talking to me like she would talk to any "normal" mother. And for bringing the happiest times I spent with my little boy back to me for a while.

I smiled so much yesterday.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


My sweet, my dear, my darling, you're so far away from me.
Though an ocean of tears divides us,
Let the bridge of our love span the sea.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Birthday kisses to heaven

I love you more and more every single day. I can't imagine how there will be enough of me to hold all that love eventually, it'll be so big.

I miss you. Happy 4th birthday, sweet one.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


I'm much better tonight.

I just forgot that it's okay to allow yourself to feel sad. I wasn't purposely ignoring it, but that's absolutely what I was doing; focusing on the good and pretending there was no bad at all.

For balance and sanity it is, unfortunately, necessary to feel everything.

Once I gave in and just let myself hurt, I started to feel better. It sounds counter intuitive, but for some reason acknowledging the dark somehow makes it okay to bask in the light.

Okay, I'm not exactly basking - let's be honest. But I do feel better.

So what if there's a little mind-game action going on? That's necessary too. On days like this, very necessary indeed.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


I'm blue. So blue tonight.

The lead up to Thomas' birthday has been so good - easier than last year which was easier than the year before, and so on. In fact, it's been almost happy in a strange sort of way. There are nearly 1200 people signed up to do random acts of kindness on Monday - and more who are not part of the Facebook group who have said they'll participate too. I have our good deed arranged and ready to go. My Beloved has the day off and we have plans to spend it together. It's good. It's all good.

But I've been so focused on all the things being done in his memory - and excited by them too - that I kind of forgot that he's a memory.

And I miss him. Oh my God, I miss him. So much that every fibre of my being is screaming for him; searching blindly in the dark for the missing piece of my heart.

It is easier. It gets better. But it's still the hardest thing I do, breathing in and out every day while I miss my boy. While I watch My Beloved miss his son. While the world around us carries on as if this massive wound was never inflicted in the first place.

The bigger world, I mean. The world that never knew of him and still doesn't.

I'm okay. It's strange that my heart can open up and bleed itself dry, but somehow fill itself up again and keep on beating. Over and over again.

But it does.

It's just that it still takes some getting used to. Four years isn't enough time to become accustomed to such agony.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Prayers and a plea

I admit that I don't really understand how prayers work anymore. I used to. Or I thought I did, anyway. But the useless, frantic prayers I said for Thomas weren't answered - at least not the way I wanted them to be - and I've remained very wary of the "power of prayer" ever since.

But just in case they are sometimes heard and answered in ways that bring us smiles instead of tears, could you remember a friend of mine in yours today? She underwent a kidney transplant a week ago yesterday and things aren't looking very good.

She says she can feel the prayers being sent her way. If this is true, I'd love for her to feel more. As many as you can spare.

I'm sending mine too, but I worry that mine are too small. Too weak. I have little faith in my own prayers and in their ability to be heard.

Please. Help?

Thursday, March 05, 2009


I've been thinking a lot about the past six years lately. To be clear, I don't regret a single thing we did. Not one single choice. We made the decisions we made very seriously and with a lot of thought and soul searching. And under great stress - and a shroud of sorrow too.

And I don't - and never will - regret Thomas or our other wee babies. They are my children. My heart and soul. They made me a mother, and they have helped to make me the person I am today, scars and all.

But there's something about coming out the other side of an emotionally traumatic period in your life that makes you turn around and stare back at it in awe. It knocks the breath out of me when I think that I've spent six years focused on just one singular goal. I've lost almost all of my 30s to my quest for a living child.

It's like I've opened my eyes up to the world around me for the first time in years.

My parents are old. Old. They need so much help now. They have aged so much since I first stuck my head up my uterus in the summer of 2003.

And me - I've aged too. I'm limping towards 40 with a stagnating writing career, a basement full of unused baby things, and a drawer full of condolence cards.

And I don't really know what to do now. All that keeps bouncing around my head is, "What now?"

I have some creative irons in the fire, as it were. Some ideas that I'm moving on. And freelance work continues to dribble in here and there. But essentially, I'm standing on the threshold of...something. And the wide openness of it all is scary.


My mind flickers back to high school when I still believed that anything was possible and the world was at my fingertips; full of ripe, juicy apples of opportunity just waiting for me to pluck them from the trees.

And I'm warming up to those feelings of excitement and possibility.

But I'm still scared. I'm worried that I'm damaged. Maybe irreparably. And too old. Too old for so many things now.

I dream of winning the lottery. I would buy a lifetime supply of yarn, a house full of books and a nursery full of plants and shut myself away in a happy cocoon of crochet, reading and gardening.

But odds never seem to be in my favour. Well, unless you count bad odds.

I get the feeling that nothing is meant to be easy. And I'm meant to keep walking towards whatever is waiting for me, regardless of how broken and old I might feel. Regardless of how useless I worry I am.

So I'm walking. One step at a time.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

I love my cat...

...and she loves me.


Friday, February 27, 2009

We are the lake

I was telling my therapist today that the approach of Thomas' birthday gets easier each year. Because somehow, inexplicably, it does.

And yet still I find myself drifting back, pulled into another time - another life - by the warmer February breezes and the thawing snow. Remembering a time that seems like such a very long time ago, now.

I'll say it until the day I die; I still can't believe it. I can't believe he was here and gone. So fast. The more time passes, the more it feels like a hazy dream. The pregnancy, his birth, his death, our struggle to recover.

Our lives have slipped back into an easy routine, free from fertility treatments and panicked trips to the doctor for betas and ultrasounds.

It's very calm here. Safe and quiet.

It's nearly impossible for me to fathom what almost was in the midst of this gentle peace we've so carefully cultivated.

We went from parents to empty-nesters in just 20 hours. And now we walk together in this strange fringe world where we almost belong. Where people almost see us as parents. Where we almost, but don't quite, have experience raising a child.

I used to love to sit on the dock and watch the lake at my Grandparents' cottage when I was a child. It fascinated me to see it glide effortlessly, shimmering in the sunlight. It never occurred to me that the calm, placid surface was moving so gently because of the currents coursing beneath the surface. So much unseen. So much movement and darkness and pull and swirl and flow. Just the gentle, sun-touched beauty on the surface - that's all I saw.

We are the lake.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The other day I was rooting blindly through the back of my night table drawer (which needs a very thorough sort, as I've discovered) desperately looking for Chapstick, when my hand closed around a little pink notebook tucked beneath some papers.

I had a vague sense that I knew what it was when I pulled it out, but opened it anyway.

Inside were notes from our baby classes scrawled in My Beloved's handwriting. I guess I must have figured that since I was making the baby, taking notes in class was his responsibility.

The first few pages listed breathing exercises and labour tips. Then there were some doodles he drew while we were in L&D the week before Thomas was born, including one of a little baby saying "Hi Ma!" and waving. That was the day they told us they were too busy to admit me - even though my blood pressure had spiked high enough for my OB to send me there with the intent of having me induced - and sent us home.

The last page with writing on it simply listed numbers. Contraction intervals.

I closed the book, put it back and left the room; the wind knocked out of my wheezy sails.

It seems like a lifetime ago.

Huh. I guess it was. It was.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The story

A long time ago, maybe two years or so, I tried to write down Thomas' birth story. Partly because I'd never told it here in its entirety, partly because I didn't want to forget any of the details, and partly because that's what new mothers do and I didn't want to be left out.

I started and the words came easily enough, but they wouldn't stop. And each one tore at my heart because I knew how the story was going to end, and no matter how much I wrote, the end would never be the one I wanted to write. Forcing myself to relive, in exacting detail, the days and hours leading up to his birth just reminded me of how quickly things went wrong. How suddenly he was snatched from us. How little warning we had.

The last words I said to My Beloved before the earth gave way beneath our feet were, "Soon we're going to see our little boy."

We were that close. That close.

And suddenly it just somehow didn't seem to make sense to tell the story in great detail. Or, to tell it at all.

He was born and he died. Does it matter how?

God - I mean, of course it matters. Everything about him matters, but what purpose does it serve to write it all down? What good will it do me? Or you? Or My Beloved?

So I saved the unfinished draft, and it remains buried in the list of post titles, somewhere back there.

At the time, I was deeply disappointed with myself for not being able to finish the story. I added it to my list of failures and went to bed with a heavy heart that night.

But I think very differently about it now.

Now I'm not so sure it would be all that terrible to forget some of the awful detail I was struggling to capture on paper. Because I don't know what earthly good it does to remember it. It doesn't fix anything. It doesn't bring him back. And it certainly doesn't make me feel better.

People always say that you forget the agony of childbirth the moment you hold your brand new baby in your arms.

Should I be made to hold onto the agony of mine simply because my child isn't here any longer?

It's just another confusing thing to wrestle with when your child dies. The rules change for you. What others cherish and try to remember, you sometimes struggle to forget; torn because sometimes it's all you have of your child.

Things are different for us. It's the way it is. Trying to pretend otherwise will make you crazy.

In truth, I know will never forget giving birth to Thomas. Or the days before or the days after. But I know for a fact that what has helped me heal and what has kept me moving forward is focusing on the boy, not on the tragedy. Of course they're inextricably linked to each other, I realize that. But I can choose to what degree I make that link.

Granted, it's easier now with time and distance my constant companions in this epic journey, but it still sometimes takes effort to keep my love for Thomas and my grief over losing him in their separate corners when I need them to be.

But I make the effort, because that's when I most feel like he's my son and I'm his mother. It's when he's most real to me. It's when I can best feel his sweet spirit in my heart and in my life.

He is not my grief.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This, that and the other


Because I am vain, please look at this. Please?

I'm very proud.

And, yeah, vain.


My right inner ear has been twitching for daaaaaays. I'm slowly going mad. MAD, I tell you!! Twitch. Twitch.

I think I might be jaw-clenching at night, so I'm wondering if the two are related.

Riveting bit of information, I know.

It's been a slow news week.


I didn't mean to offend anyone with my last post, by the way. I absolutely know that those kinds of offhanded remarks aren't said to hurt me. I know they're simply meant as jokes and, sometimes, as tension cutters. And I know that parents have been offering to give away their children in jest for as long as humans have been breeding.

I totally know that.

I'm just sayin' that it's not always all that funny to me. That's all.

But then again, the world isn't here to amuse me. I know that too. Seriously, I really do, despite evidence to the contrary...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

If one more person...

...with living children says, "Oh, you can take him/her!" when I comment on the cuteness of their child, I'm gonna.

You've been warned.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Picture Monday

Last week, late in the afternoon after a morning of more snow (ick), I peeked out the office window and found a great big angel on our driveway.

It was just the work of kids who'd made tracks in the fresh snow on their way home from school, but from where I was standing looking down on the footprints, it looked like a giant snow angel.

See? Look at her!

I shoveled her away later that night, but she was sweet while she lasted.

There are no words adequately beautiful enough describe this sunrise on January 18th, captured from our bedroom window...

Lucy likes our new office chairs. It's important that the cat approves.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

This 'n that

I feel badly that I rarely respond to comments. I read them all (it's very exciting to know I'm not just talking to myself), and I'm so touched by each and every word you so kindly choose to send my way. Truly, I am. They make me laugh, cry and everything in between, those words do.

But I always forget that you can't see that, what with you not having spy cameras and recording devices planted inside my house.

So thank you, so much, for the support, advice, smiles, commiseration, sympathy, compliments, hugs and kind words.

You rock. In the very best ways possible.

The other evening I was outside shoveling snow - a task that I normally loathe - and I found myself enjoying it.

The cold has finally gotten to me. I've lost my mind.


This morning I started thinking that maybe I'd like to get a kitten instead of a puppy. A kitten would be much easier to work into our little family dynamic. Easier on Lucy and easier on us (never having owned dogs before).

I just wish the Norfolk Terriers weren't so cute, and that I hadn't already started envisioning nightly walks and furry dog kisses...


On Tuesday I started a Facebook Group in an effort to promote good deed doing on Thomas' birthday, and I was floored to see that as of this morning, there were 190 members.

It has spiraled out from just people I know, to friends of friends of friends.

It's even gone overseas to Scotland, Spain and India.

And every time I think about it - about all the extra little kindnesses that will be done in Thomas' memory on his birthday all over the world - I smile.

I'm so proud. So unbelievably proud.


This morning I read about a craft co-op in Toronto - a space where locals drop in to, well, craft. The co-op rents out sewing machines, space and tools, and people come in to make handmade treasures and commune with other like-minded artisans. They sell fabric too, but mostly it's a space to create.

I drooled. Enviously.

I'm a lone crafter out here in the suburbs. I crochet on the couch, sometimes with Lucy and Sandy nearby, but usually by myself, because I don't know anyone in my real life who shares my passion for hooks and yarn.

The thought of a cozy, creative, community space right here in my neighbourhood where other knitheads and hookers might congregate is so appealing.

I wonder...

Sometimes I let myself think about what my life would be like if Thomas was still in it. I mean in the tangible, earthly sense.

With the passage of nearly four years, it's becoming harder and harder to imagine it. I had a sense of what the baby years might have been like. The house was littered with babyness and its accompanying paraphernalia prior to his birth - I could see that life. I know what it would have looked like, if not actually felt like.

But now? There's nothing about the house to suggest an almost four-year old could have lived here.

It's lost to me, that life.

The sadness that fact generates is no longer quite as desperate and agonizing as it used to be when I'd let myself wonder about my once-upon-a-time world. Now it's just sort of wistful. I sometimes even smile when I try to imagine a four-year old Thomas bounding up the stairs.

Maybe it's easier because there is no visible evidence to suggest a four-year old should be here.

Or maybe it's just that time has worn the jagged edges of my sorrow down so that it's smoother and easier to hold now.

I don't know.

The house is still too quiet. But I'm used to it. It's amazing what you can survive, isn't it? It's amazing what you can come to accept as normal.

I miss him.


And finally,

To the person who wanted a monkey (like the one I posted the other day, who now lives on My Beloved's desk at work), I do manage to sell the odd bit of crochet work every now and then (which helps me to justify the time I spend doing it...mostly). And here's where you can find it ----> Plumpkin Heads

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

How much is that doggie in the window? Again.

Sigh. I want a puppy again.

It happens every single year around this time. During the weeks leading up to Thomas' birthday I crave puppies.

Which sounds kind of weird, I admit. For a number of reasons, but particularly since I'm such and ardent cat lover - and devoted owner of the world's greatest feline ever.

I get that it's because I want something little to snuggle and love. I get that I'm trying to fill the gap. Close the wound. Distract myself. That makes sense. In a twisted way (and, in case you're concerned, I'm well aware that you can't replace children with puppies).

But what I couldn't figure out until today was why it only happens now - why it doesn't seem to happen during the rest of the year. I mean, it's not like puppies are seasonal, after all.

What dawned on me today, is that along with wanting something new and little to snuggle and love, I crave a puppy because it was in the dying days of winter that we were waiting, with so much excitement and anticipation, for an addition to our family.

It's the anticipation. Or anticipation's ghost, if you will. I still have it, and have no reason for it anymore.

So apparently I've invented one.

It's the same reason I still get that "back to school" feeling in August, even though it's been years since I packed up a knapsack and headed to class. Habit.

Those weeks before Thomas was born were so exciting, and I have connected it with the season; with the small hints of spring in longer days and brief thaws, and the overwhelming joy of the coming new season.

Which, of course, brought sorrow unlike anything I'd ever known before. But right now, my brain is just remembering the anticipation. The good bits prior to the world imploding.

And with nary a baby in sight, and all this focus-less anticipation, it has also set its sights on a puppy.

This year, a Norfolk Terrier.


Monday, February 02, 2009

Monkeying around

I wish someone would pay me to sit around and write what I want to write and crochet what I want to crochet when I'm not writing what I want to write.

Why is there no job out there like that? Why? Why?


I suppose I'll just keep looking for other, less exciting paying gigs until my dream writing/crocheting job appears.

And blog and make monkeys with reckless abandon while I'm waiting.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


A friend recently asked me how I do it - how I manage to cope in a world where, as she put it, everyone is pregnant and babies are popping out all over the place.

My first response was, "I'm dead inside" (after which I laughed heartily at my self-deprecating witticism).

The serious answer was, "I don't know."

Because I don't, really. There's no magic in my ability to hold babies. To smile and coo at them. To listen with rapt attention to endless stories of breast feeding, colic, teething and foiled naps.

I just do it. Then I crawl home, regroup and carry on. It's just what I have to do. And, sometimes, what I actually want to do.

My Beloved and I were just saying today that the very best thing that could have happened to us, in terms of our healing, was the arrival of a new baby next door a little over a year after Thomas died.

It was immersion therapy for both of us. The baby was there. We were here. And soon our lives become intertwined and we fell in love.

And suddenly babies weren't so scary anymore.

She was the first baby I'd held since my own. And, I won't lie, it was agony. The weight of her. The life in her. But I did it. And I've done it a million times since. And now I've held her brand new sister too.

Because it's that or cloister myself away - separate myself from a world that I sometimes do have a hard time feeling a part of. And I don't want that. I've never wanted that. I've fought hard to make people not fear me and my sorrow. I've worked like a dog to prove I'm greater than the sum of those parts.

I figure if I'm going to talk the talk, I have to walk the walk.

So there's not an ounce of magic in it. It's just stubbornness - my inability to let my particular brand of motherhood keep me from being friends with women who haven't buried a child.

Magic would be easier though. There's no doubt about it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On the other side

Last Wednesday my Mom and Dad had to put their 15-year old cat to sleep after he suffered what they suspect was a stroke.

My Mom called in tears to give me the news, and my heart tore into a thousand pieces listening to her cry over the phone, her voice small and broken.

I went over the next day just to be with them - to make sure they were okay and to try to cheer them up and distract them as best I could. And for the first time since Thomas died I realized what a useless feeling it is not to be able to take away someone's pain.

I didn't know. Somehow I didn't realize.

I have appreciated every single gesture - every brave word, every card, every donation, every flower, every carefully chosen gift, every mention of his name. Not one single thing anyone has ever done for me - for us - since Thomas died has gone unappreciated. Ever.

But I didn't realize until I sat there helplessly watching my Mother cry over her lost Paddington Bear that those gestures were made out of both love and desperation. Because there's absolutely nothing you can do to take away the pain of someone's loss.

And you can't know that until you try. And fail.

I know I was able to comfort them a little with my presence, but I also know that my Mother probably cried herself to sleep thinking about how increasingly small and fragile their world is becoming; about the tragedies they've witnessed and the losses they've endured. And about the little cat she said goodbye to that day.

And it breaks my heart. Over and over and over again, it breaks my heart.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?

So, today I decided to clean up the spare room (which, while it's sitting there being spare, has been doubling as my craft room - and by craft room I mean depository for all things vaguely craft related. And, sometimes, totally and completely unrelated).

Lately I've been having lovely visions of a pristine, freshly painted craft-themed oasis, complete with shelving for all my yarn. Especially shelving for my yarn. Shelving instead of plastic tubs that are surprisingly easy for balls of yarn to get buried in. Lost for months. Years, even.

A place for everything and everything in its place. This was my dream.

My Beloved and I went out hunting for cheap shelving today (I want order, but I'm desperately frugal about it) and were successful beyond my wildest dreams.

Plain, unfinished wood shoe racks. Just $3.97 each (50% off at Zellers, in case anyone is interested). Simple, light, cheap, stackable - and perfect for yarn. We bought eight of them. I wanted to have lots of room.

Uh, but...

I seriously had no idea there was this much yarn tucked away in tubs, bags and knitting baskets in that one, small room. No idea.

And now that I've put it all out there on display there's really no way to convince anyone that I need more. Even though, God help me, it feels like I do. Seeing it there all lined up neat and at the ready just makes me want more. Mooooooooore.

Yarny goodness. So. Much. Yarny. Goodness.

There's no 12-step program for this, is there?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Ugh, forget yesterday's post. My victory. My pride. All of it.

Today I remembered one last article of maternity wear hanging in another closet. I retrieved it...noticed it really doesn't look like a maternity sweater, tried it on, felt how soft it was, remembered that my Mom bought it for me.

And totally couldn't part with it.

It's so cozy! And it really only seems big around the hips, for the most part. It must not have fit me very well when I was pregnant. It can't have. Either that or I was really stretching it out. I mean yeah, it's too big - it's not the size I'd buy if I was buying a sweater NOW - but it's fuzzy, red, soft, and it'll be nice to cozy up in by the fire.

On days when I'm feeling particularly crazy, apparently.


Is this weird? Is it?

Why do I need constant reassurance? Why?

Yeah, answer that question too, please.

The end.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Strange goodbyes

A couple of years ago, I can't specifically remember when now, I gave away my maternity jeans. Donated them to charity along with a motley collection of unloved sweaters, shirts and assorted crap. It was a big deal.

Well, mostly.

I actually hated them. They were never comfortable, always digging into my sides before sliding down and leaving me with a terrible case of saggy ass. But still, giving them away felt like a big step - a monumental shift in my thinking and healing.

The thing is, I'm not entirely sure it was, really.

I was thinking about this the other day, how we donated some of Thomas' things just a few weeks after he died and how it barely bothered me at all. For some reason I was able to very easily separate the sentimental from the disposable in those early, dark days. The diaper bag, boppy pillow, lotions, diapers, books, parenting magazines, and baby bathtub. They all went, and with very little difficulty.

And yet other things I still cling to with a ferocity that startles me. Tubs of clothes, toys, blankies. Little socks. A sunhat. Things. So many small, unused things.

There is no rhyme nor reason for the way I categorize his things; for what I decide can and can't go. I adored my diaper bag, but when I came home from the hospital I couldn't stand the sight of it. But the 9 billion receiving blankets, each a dime a dozen? I can't let them go.

It makes no sense.

I never liked the jeans. I wouldn't have worn them again even if I managed to get (and stay) pregnant long enough to need them. I tricked myself into thinking donating them was an achievement.

When really, it was just common sense.

And I may have done it again. The tricking bit. Because tonight, all the rest of my maternity stuff is packed away in a donation bag waiting for pick-up. All of it. A skirt, a pair of nursing jammies and several tops, including the striped one I loved and wore so much I'm surprised I didn't wear it right out.

I'm proud. I am. I've had that stuff sitting in a neat pile on a shelf in my closet for nearly four years. I couldn't see it very well and didn't look at it often, but I knew it was there. I needed to know it was still there.

But I'm smaller now than I was then. And it's not just the absence of a baby belly. All of me is smaller. I likely couldn't wear any of that stuff anyway even if I did magically find myself pregnant. It would be too big. In fact, it would have been too big if I'd tried to wear it two years ago.

But I couldn't let it go. Until today.

For absolutely no good reason, today was the day I was able to let it all go. Even though I know I never would have worn any of it again anyway.

So yeah, I know I'm kind of tricking myself again. Like the jeans.

But I'm not really sure that matters.

There's a clearer space in my brain just the same. Does it matter that the victory isn't as big as it might appear? Does it matter that I had no intention of wearing the clothes again anyway? Does it matter that the odds are stacked against me and my uterus, making the likelihood of me needing any maternity clothes pretty small?

I don't think so.

I'm crossing my arms, holding my head high, and calling it a victory.

Friday, January 16, 2009


So, I've returned to the hairdresser from whence I came. After spending the last 7 years trying to find one I liked closer to where we live now, I gave up this past summer and went back to my old haunt.

It's a long way to go for a haircut, but aside from being very satisfied with my stylist, the salon is right around the corner from the cemetery.

And so on my way home from getting a new 'do yesterday, I stopped in to retrieve Thomas' Christmas wreath.

I should have known better, really. We're in a deep freeze here - bone chillingly so. The snow, a mostly untouched blanket flecked with diamonds gleaming in the late afternoon sun, was probably close to two feet deep in the cemetery.

I parked, climbed over the snowbank and plodded my way to Thomas, putting my feet in the faint indents of the tracks left by the last person who trekked his way.

Of course, when I got there I couldn't move the wreath. Couldn't budge it at all. It's frozen solid deep in the earth where I placed it in November. So it'll be there for a while, I'm afraid. Snowmen, ribbons and all.

It was too cold to linger. I thought, briefly, about digging the snow off his plaque, but I couldn't bear the wet gloves and snow up my sleeves. Not yesterday. Not in that cold.

So instead, I kissed my gloved hand, like always, and pressed it into the snow above where he lies.

I pulled my hand away and looked at the print; the image of my hand marking the spot where my baby boy lies. And I smiled.

I know it's still there today. It was clear, bright and cold again today. Too cold for the snow to have melted my hand print, and too clear for more snow to have covered it.

It's still there, hovering above my boy.

And it makes me so happy.

Monday, January 12, 2009

When I listen

Saint Theresa's Prayer  

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.

My cousin sent me this today, and it was exactly what I needed to hear.

I don't understand God, or the ways in which he works. But when I pay attention, every once in a while a message manages to slip through the cracks and find its way into my heart.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Heading back

What. A. Day.

I'm all done with being a grown-up. Someone get me a flux capacitor so I can hightail it back to 1977.



Thursday, January 08, 2009


Back in the fall My Beloved and I set an arbitrary sometime in January deadline for sitting down and talking about where this nearly 6-year journey of ours is heading.

The plan was for us both to come to the table, having had two months to mull it over quietly on our own, with some thoughts. Maybe even conclusions.

But, uh, I'm not sure I have any. Thoughts yes, conclusions, no.

Although lately I've had a vague sense that I'm moving into acceptance mode. That I'm recognizing and coming to terms with the fact that our time for having more children may have passed. Entirely. No biological babies, no adopted babies.

For some reason that notion seems to be sitting in my head, making a lot of sense.

It's desperately sad, yes. I think I would have made a good mother to a living child. I had a very good role model, and I had many quiet, happy daydreams about the ways I was going to mother our children. Making them feel cozy, safe and loved.

But we've had six years of loss, fear and sorrow. I'm not entirely sure I have the mental energy that the me of simpler days used to have. I hate to think that infertility and loss have beaten me. I hate to think that after all this time they have finally won.

But maybe they have.

Maybe I just can't put myself - or us - through this anymore. Maybe it's time for My Beloved and I now. Just us. Moving on and finding peace and happiness together; making the most of the life we have and the love we've always shared.

I'll be 39 in a few months, My Beloved 40. I know people will throw up their hands, stomp about and vehemently deny that we're too old to be parents. But the thing is, we're older than most people our age. We've seen a lot and we've lost a lot. Too much. Too much.

We're tired. I'm tired.

I want my life back. I wanted children. I wanted that life so much. But sometimes you have to accept the life you're given instead of spending all your time wishing for the one you weren't. Because that's no way to live at all.

We have tried so hard. I don't think anyone could accuse us of not giving it 100%.

We are a family of three that looks like a family of two. But we are still a family. We had a child. I was pregnant. I was pregnant four times.

And now, maybe, I'm done.

If I am alone when I'm old - if everyone I know has gone before me and I have no children and grandchildren to visit me - I'll just find comfort in new friends. I'll write. I'll read. I'll crochet. I'll try to pray. I'll keep searching for whatever makes me happy and brings me peace. One day at a time.

And eventually I'll see my babies again. And I'll wrap them in my arms, hold them close and then, then finally have a chance to be the mother I should have been here.

I'm not making the decision alone, of course. And as sure as I might sound at the moment, I'm just as liable to change my mind tomorrow.

But then again, maybe I won't.

The last line on one of those epic Christmas letters sent to my Mom from a cousin of hers was, "Hope Kris and her hubby will be successful one of these days. Must be heartbreaking."

I don't want people to see us that way. I don't want them to think we somehow weren't successful at life because our son died and because I miscarried our other four children. I don't want our losses to define us or our marriage.

The letter really make me stop and think about how long we've been running on the hamster wheel.

And about how I think it might be time to step off and just walk quietly and peacefully together instead.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

In the absence of a proper post...

I have a couple of posts sitting in my head, but lack the energy to make them exit my brain via my fingertips.

So instead, I'll just say a quick thank you to those who were sweet enough to follow me to blog v.2, and to those who have posted some very nice and encouraging comments there. I appreciate the indulgence.

I'm really enjoying my little project. And, what's even better, so far have no niggling feelings of regret for starting it in the first place. I know I'm only 7 days in and all, but it has yet to feel like a chore. Not even a little bit.

Miracle of miracles.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Sound bite

The headline read, "Travolta breaks two day silence to talk about son's death". And my head came *this* close to exploding.

Breaks his silence
? Are you kidding me?! Does the media - does anyone - think that we're owed something from this family, so freshly introduced to the unfathomable depths of child-loss grief? Does anyone think we should be his top priority right now? Does anyone think we have the right to be miffed that it took him two whole days to speak?

I have criticized people in my own life who have kept their distance from us. But I have to wonder how much worse it would have been to have everyone feel that they had a right to know everything I was thinking and feeling - to continue to poke me until I bled the information they so desperately wanted. For their own entertainment.

My public statement two days after Thomas' death would have been unintelligible. Or, actually, probably really cold and formal. I was still in shock and operating in a strange parallel universe all my own. Looking back, the only outward evidence of my grief was the fact that I refused to leave my room. For 6 days the only time I left the safety of those four walls was to see Thomas the day he died, and to reluctantly walk the hall the day I was released, at My Beloved's urging.

I didn't cry in front of anyone, except My Beloved, and I was pleasant, friendly and calm. And totally, completely out of it.

I can't imagine what it would have been like to feel that way and have the entire entertainment industry breathing down my neck. Waiting for words they could print. To sell papers to gawkers.

A comment. On the death of your son. They should instead ask for a sound bite so that the grieving parents can demonstrate the pain that words simply cannot; with a guttural howl.

That just might get them the privacy and respect they deserve.

Friday, January 02, 2009

His name

On New Year's Eve, when the heat of one too many whiskey sours threatened to ignite me from the inside out, I slipped out onto the quiet winter cool of my sister's front porch.

I stood there, letting the chill of the frozen air seep into my clothes, and watched the snow falling softly to the ground through the glow of Christmas lights.

I wondered if I was so hot that I'd actually see steam rising from my body. But I didn't.

So instead, I whispered his name into the night and watched as the cloud of my breath whirled into tiny beads, sweeping the word away from me.


I said it again.

Then I went back inside and continued on.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

I'm not leaving this blog...

...I've just decided to start writing this one too.

Because apparently I just. can't. stop. talking.