Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Ugh, I intended for this post to be a photo retrospective of sorts - a cool visual way to end ICLW week. But I just made the fatal error of spending a bit too much time looking at the photos we have of Thomas in the hospital. And now, well, I'm spent.

The very hospital-y shots we have of him are always so shocking. Precious, of course, but startling. In my mind, he's the peaceful, gorgeous baby in the pictures we have framed in our bedroom and living room. No tubes, no wires - no obvious evidence of a hospital. The ones in which the hospital is not disguised, however, always take my breath away. In a bad way.

So this is going to have to do, this funny shot of me covered in cats. It was late summer of 2004, and I was doing what I did best during the first 10 weeks or so of my pregnancy with Thomas. Tired? Who me?

Whilst I was making good use of the couch, I became a mattress for Lucy (our cat) and my sister's two kittens who we were cat-sitting that week.

Apparently cats dig you when you're pregnant. Like, a lot.

Luckily Lucy still digs me now, pregnant or not, which is pretty nice. Pretty nice indeed.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by for ICLW! It was so nice to "meet" you, and I appreciate your visits and your comments more than you know!

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I feel, for the most part, that I'm on the upswing in terms of accepting a childless life. I had some scary complications (both after Thomas was born and after I lost the twins) that made the idea of continuing to try less appealing than it otherwise would have been, and I love the life I've built with My Beloved in the last few years since my most recent loss. Plus an end to the crazed hamster wheel of shots, drugs, raging hormones, timed sex, and dildo cams? Well, that's been nice too. Very, very nice indeed.

I feel almost normal.

Actually, in truth, I probably now feel as normal as I ever will.

The big secret no one ever tells you is that sorrow doesn't go away. Time doesn't heal all wounds. It simply makes the scars less angry and harder for people to see. But the scars, they stay etched on your soul for the rest of your life. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, because there's nothing worse than thinking you should have to stop missing your baby - that that's the healthy thing to do.

I assume no mother with living children ever simply forgets they exist. And so just like those moms, I never forget my son. And I will never forget the other three times I found out I was pregnant, nor the hope and joy those positive tests brought to my life and to the lives of the people who couldn't wait for those children to be born.

But the thing is, that's all feeling more and more like a chapter I just finished reading. Trying to conceive, miscarriages, losing Thomas, fertility treatments - that all belongs to a different part of my life.

I've gently, quietly turned a page. Almost without noticing.

Maybe it's partly because I'm so focused on my mom & dad and the extra help they need right now, I don't know. But it really does feel like the time for children has well and truly passed, and the idea doesn't fill me with the same overwhelming grief it once did.

It's a decision we made about a year ago, but it's settling in with me in a comfortable sort of way now. And I'm as surprised as anyone that I'm making peace with the hand we were dealt. Because it was a fucking awful hand - right out of one of the most horrific nightmares imaginable.

It'll never be fair that we didn't get to be parents to living children. And I will always grieve for that beautiful life I thought we'd have. I want to scoop up those two silly kids who sat on my sister's patio and talked about having children on one of their first dates back in the summer of 1999. I want to scoop them up, hold them close and tell them how sorry I am that things turned out this way instead.

And then I want to tell them how proud and amazed I am of the way they're going to weather the shitstorms to come.

It shouldn't have been this way. But somehow we're making it work.

Imagine that.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy X2

So, the dancing? In a word, Fabulous!

Not us, of course. We were mediocre at best, really. We stepped on each other (a lot), we lost concentration and laughed, we made stupid jokes and giggled when we should have been listening, our basic cha-cha looked more like a pot bellied pig and a giraffe having a synchronized seizure, the waltz made my right bum cheek ache (I don't think the waltz is supposed to hurt), and I was scolded by My Beloved more than once for leading (because apparently it's the man that leads. Hunh).

But still, fantastic. A solid hour in his arms - and no room in our dance-challenged brains for any of our cares or woes.


And then today, after paying for a cab ride back to the train station from a meeting, I was handed a toonie (Canadian for a $2.00 coin), and two caramels by the cab driver.

The toonie, he said, was for a cup of coffee. And the caramels? Something sweet to go with it.

In the history of cab rides has anyone ever been given money back at the end of the trip? AND candy, for heaven's sake?! I've been wracking my brain all afternoon trying to figure this out. But since there's no logical explanation for it, I'm just going to assume that he had a good reason for doing such an unexpected and kind thing for a total stranger.

And I'm going to remember how this feels, and pass it on.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Painting the town red-ish

A few weeks ago I boldly proclaimed that my goal was to do at least one thing a month that we couldn't do if we had kids. Not to gloat, as you'll recall, just to try to make the best of a situation we never wanted to be in, in the first place.

It was my attempt at silver-lining hunting, driven by a deep desire not to waste the rest of my life wishing for what I've lost and pining for what I can't have. Clearly I'm going to wish and pine for the rest of my life (who are we kidding?!) - I just want to make sure I do other stuff too.

The thing is, in all honestly, I can't exactly figure out what we can do that babysitter-enabled people can't. Which is a bit of a pisser, really.

So, for the sake of argument, let's just assume that no parents can ever find babysitters. Like, ever. Or if they can, they find they have to cancel their fancy evening plans because the baby sitter gets sick. Or has a really important term paper she needs to work on.  Or gets grounded for sneaking out of the house to go see a Justin Beiber concert or some such thing.

Let's just pretend.

Okay, so having said that - the thing we're doing this month that we clearly could never do if we had children is go dancin'! Yeah, that's right, I've persuaded My Beloved to take Ballroom dancing lessons at my church, and tonight is our first class.

This is probably akin to the agony of a root canal to most men, but My Beloved is awesome beyond all comprehension and won't refuse me the simple pleasure of dancing cheek to cheek.

Or cheek to teat, really. He's very tall.

Part of the lure is our ability to pay-as-we-go. If it's boring, bad or really, really embarrassing we need never return.

But I'm hoping we'll like it. And not fall down, and stuff.

We shall see.

In the meantime, I have my fingers crossed and my dancin' shoes on!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A wee bit about me for ICLW

Oy, where to start.

I guess the beginning, which, for this blog, was January 2005. My internet adventure was inspired by a good friend's dad who wrote some of the sweetest, funniest things in the last few months of his life while he battled cancer. Yeah, while he battled cancer.

I wanted to do that. To write interesting, funny things about the ordinary bits of my very ordinary life.

I was pregnant with our first child at the time. Thomas. I had already had two miscarriages, one on October 25th, 2003 and a second in March 2004.

Thomas outlived them both. He slipped silently into the world at 5:30pm on March 9th, 2005. The only sound I ever heard him make was one little gasp as I held him while he lay dying.

He was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. He still is. I will die knowing there was nothing more beautiful on this earth than the face of my son.

I had a massive placental abruption during delivery. I lived. He died. He was perfect, healthy and strong, but 12 minutes without oxygen was too much for his tiny body. He passed away 20 hours after he was born.

My blog, which was never intended to be a blog about loss, infertility and, eventually, living without children, became anything but ordinary. It became therapy. Really, really fast.

I battled secondary infertility after a bout with septicemia post c-section left me riddled with scar tissue. Armed with nothing more than a severely damaged psyche, one blocked fallopian tube, a misshapen uterus, and the aforementioned scar tissue, I fought the good fight.

We almost won - twice, really - with twins, conceived in late spring 2007.

But they're gone too. Lost at 12 weeks.

And so it's still only the two of us. And that's just the way it's going to be.

My goal is to be living proof that sometimes that's okay. Sometimes the "happy ending" everyone desperately hope you'll get is one that looks just like ours. Because we are happy, in our own little way. We are sad too, of course. We miss what we almost had - every second of every day we miss that boy's sweet little face. But I think we're as happy as you can be with a history like ours.

Yeah, it's not exactly a fairy tale - but it is my story.

And, damn it, I'm writing is as best I can.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Help make October 15th Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day in Ontario!

The Perinatal Bereavement Society of Ontario (PBSO) is working towards having October 15th officially recognized as Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day in Ontario. If you or someone you know has been touched by perinatal loss, please consider contacting your MPP and asking him/her to support this effort. It would mean a lot to bereaved parents in Ontario to have an official day during which to remember and honour our little souls.

The hope is that promoting awareness of pregnancy and infant loss will also increase the likelihood that bereaved parents will receive greater understanding and support from family, friends, co-workers, and health care providers as they face the challenges of this very complicated, life-altering and lifelong grief. 

I've included a link to the PBSO website where you'll find sample letters (for bereaved parents or supporters) with all the information you'll need, including how to find and contact your MPP.

Please consider helping out by writing to your MPP. 


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Firth and Saunders

I recently read that men have a preferred sex while women have a more preferred sex. Which totally explains how I currently have a crush on both Colin Firth and Jennifer Saunders.

I will swing both ways, apparently, as long as the object of my affection is English. And in show business. And attractive. And talented.

So anyway...

Colin and I went to the movies together on Friday night. We totally, totally did.

My absolutely fabulous sister snagged four tickets to the Toronto International Film Festival's premiere of The King's Speech on what was Mr. Firth's 50th birthday. He attended the gala premiere, of course, where I (and about two hundred other people) witnessed his utter and complete gloriousness on the red carpet.

I only caught a glimpse, really. I was rushing back from the ticket office with our tickets when I heard, "COLIN! COLIN! COLIN!", from the frenzied crowd on the red carpet just as he moved his way into the media tent.

But a glimpse of Colin Firth is nothing to sniff at.

Oooh, it would have been nice to actually sniff him...can you imagine?!

Anyway, Colin Firth, Geoffry Rush, and the film's director, writer and some other people (whose names and titles escape me because they were introduced to the audience after Colin Firth, thus rendering me completely incapable of paying any attention to them whatsoever) all sat in the theatre and watched the movie along with us.

It was a big theatre, and I didn't actually know they were in the audience until after the film ended, but it still totally counts.

I went to the movies with Colin Firth.

As for Jennifer Saunders, I've spent the last two weeks blowing through the entire 5 seasons of Absolutely Fabulous (including specials and extras). I can't believe it took me 40 years to discover the awesomeness of AbFab.

Where. Have. I. Been?!

I now want to be her. Not the charmingly amoral character she plays, but her. That career. I want that career.

Never mind that I'm nowhere near anything resembling an actress, have never taken any acting classes, and have no desire to actually be an actress. I just think it would be amazing to write something that clever; to put something so awesome out into the world that it has the power to inspire a 40-year old, musty-brained copywriter to want to do more with the words in her head.

So when I grow up I want to be Jennifer Saunders.

Failing that, I would also consider becoming Colin Firth's second wife when My Beloved chucks me after reading this post.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk

My book was talking to me last night.

Feeling wide awake and vaguely tense (which could have been all the sugar I ate at the CNE yesterday messing with me), I decided to read myself to sleep. It usually works like a Valium-induced charm, but it failed miserably last night. In part because the final 150 pages of the book were gripping, but also because it would not. shut. up.

Talking books are such a nocturnal buzz-kill.

"You make a life out of what you have, not what you're missing", it said to me.

I hate when books are smarter than I am. And I hate when they get all up in my face, trying to teach me valuable life lessons when I'm just trying to get to sleep after a vegetable-less day of total crap eating.

Book was right, though. What was, rather miraculously, left standing in the bloody aftermath of my quest for a child is what I'm building my life upon. It doesn't mean that what (or who) is missing isn't important and hasn't changed me, forever altering the course of the life that remains. But what I snuggle up to each night, hold hands with in a crowded midway, and share my rocky road cheesecake with is what's here.

And my God, it's good.

So, that was nice. A bit of a slap upside the head, but I can't say it's terrible to be reminded that it's important to readjust one's focus every now and then. Book meant well.

"A lost child follows a mother all her life", came just a few pages later.

It screamed through my body and brain, that phrase, with its searing truth. The tears finally came when I read Book's final chapter, closed it, and turned out the light.

Thomas would have been starting Kindergarten today.

I lay on my back with my hands on my belly, the empty tomb where he once rolled and kicked and lived. I cried softly for him in the dark. I whispered his name.

Book was probably thoroughly disgusted with this wanton display of ingratitude for the life I have, especially after it had just reminded me that what I have is pretty sweet, all things considered. But Book can suck it.

I finally got up, took some deep breaths of cool night air at the window, and found a cat to cuddle. Sleep inducing solace eventually came from the Internets. The people inside my computer are as wise as Book, and infinitely more empathetic. Messages from four night owls in response to a pitiful Facebook status gave me the comfort I needed for sleep to come.

And it did. I curled up next to My Beloved, a toothless old cat tucked in beside us, and smiled as I dozed off.  Because books are smart, friends are kind, and darkness makes you see the unfathomable beauty in the light.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Because sometimes we all need a little magic...

Magic Cookie Bars

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pecan pieces
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Dump graham crumbs into a  9" X 13" pan. Pour melted butter over top of crumbs and mix until all the butter is thoroughly incorporated into the crumbs. Firmly press crumbs into the bottom of the pan to form a solid crust.

Evenly pour coconut over crust. Evenly pour chocolate chips over coconut. Evenly pour pecans over chocolate. Evenly pour entire can of sweetened condensed milk over everything.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 25 - 30 minutes. Top should be golden brown around the edges, and starting to brown in the centre.

Remove and cool completely before cutting.

Visual inspiration courtesy of my first annual Family Christmas Tea, circa 2005 
(that's them on the left!)

Now go. Off with you. Make sweets. That's an order.