Monday, November 30, 2009


So Thanksgiving was a mixed bag.

The actual day, Thursday, was fine. The drive out was long and I was tired, but we made it. The cat and dog traveled well and were fine (and are getting to know each other slowly). My mom and I cooked dinner together and it was fantastic. A nice day.

We went to bed early in anticipation of getting up for Black Friday sales (and did score a new laptop, a camcorder, a PS3, and most importantly, a fuzzy blanket). Then we went to my dad's house for another Thanksgiving dinner (also excellent, with a Cajun rubbed turkey that was extremely flavorful and moist). Played games, went back to Mom's with a happy, tired dog (he got to play with his cousin-dogs, while Mom's dog is a bit more tetchy).

Saturday found us back out buying more Christmas gifts; we've long had a $20 per person limit and this year have decided to stretch it and ease the burden of shopping by doing gift baskets with 1 personal item for each of DH's family members. Thank God, as it has always been an exercise in frustration and angst and fighting, as I don't know his family well enough to buy really personal gifts or score awesome deals on such a low budget, and DH hates shopping and starts getting depressed about how out of touch he is with his family and it inevitably leads to fights and tension and hurt feelings. Gift baskets = way, way easier on both of us. And our wallets.

Following that, we went for our third Thanksgiving dinner with his family. And this is where the weekend went awry.

Now, understand, this is the first major holiday since we lost Gabriel. In July, we expected this to be the last time we'd see family child-free. I expected to be 35-26 weeks pregnant, huge, glowing. We were seriously looking forward to having Christmas at home, just us for the only time. Walking around Black Friday sales, seeing lots of babies, accidentally stumbling across a Classic Pooh stocking with 'Baby's First Christmas' on it, seeing miniature trees and remembering how we wanted to give each child their own little tree to decorate . . . it hit and pinched and stung and both Dh and I had moments of clenched teeth and glassy eyes and forced smiles of 'No, really, give me a minute, everything will be fine.'-ness.

I was worried about this dinner, more anxious than I've been in a long time. There is history with the in-laws, and perhaps that is playing a role in this too. But the last 18 months have been good. My parents-in-law were lovely and kind about the miscarriage, and excited about Gabriel when we announced our pregnancy at Memorial Day. They were sensitive about me needing space and Jason needing succor when we were at home immediately after the loss. But this was my first face to face, and I wasn't sure what to expect, exactly.

I did not expect what we got, which was nothing.

Not one word said to us about Gabriel. Not a single question about how we are doing, or about him. Not one thing. Not even a question within a question of a lowered voice, filled with concern and crinkled eyes trying to convey the deeper meaning of "How are you?"

At one point during dinner, I saw myself stand up, set down my napkin and fork, stand up on my chair and shriek "His name is Gabriel. He was your brother's son. Your grandson and nephew. He died three months ago and his parents are sitting right here next to you and you are pretending nothing has happened." It was so vivid in my mind that I had to blink a few times to be certain that I hadn't actually just done that, and I was still seated in my chair, my third round of turkey this year on my fork in my hand.

It just was so surreal. And surreal enough that I found myself saying, "Surely, surely they will say something here. During the grace maybe?" No, we prayed for our troops, for our government officials, for world peace, but not for my lost little boy. "Maybe after dinner. Maybe someone will just take me aside and ask." Nope. Nothing.

I settled on the lounge chair and watched the football game while other people came in and out, a baseball game with rotating players and shrieks of joy from the niece and nephew going on in the front yard. I spent a long time studying the wall of family photos from my seat. It was so very apparent how much Gabriel looked like his daddy - the head, the ears (from his paternal great-grandfather, apparently) and the shape of his face (from his maternal great-grandmother, clearly), and I wondered whether he too would have been blonde like my husband as a child. (and I was secretly glad, once again, that my boy had my nose and lips and chin. God, he was beautiful) I saw both my mother-in-law and father-in-law watch me study them, but neither said a word.

When we left, I let loose a torrent of anger at them, focusing on all the little things that irked me - the way they spoke about my SIL, about her boyfriend, the cracks about my nephew I thought were in poor taste, the cutting remarks disguised as teasing that flew around the table - and then we hit a stop light and it tumbled out of me before I had consciously realized what was eating me up.

"Do they KNOW that we had a son? That he died? Like, three months ago? I didn't just imagine it all, did I?"

And DH released a deep breath in something between relief, frustration and a sigh and said, "No,you didn't imagine it. I was starting to wonder too, though."

And I said, "I just wanted some acknowledgment. Some recognition that our son ought to have been here and isn't. Some acknowledgment that Gabriel existed, you know?"

And DH said looked sad and said, "I know." I was angry. Furious that he had been denied that by his own flesh and blood relatives. I wasn't seeking much - we didn't need to be solemn and funereal and speak in hushed tones and look sad. There was very little said at either of my parent's homes about him. But we did acknowledge him, and they do acknowledge him and I know I am free to speak about him whenever I want or need to and it is acknowledged that Gabriel is part of our lives.

I expected that there too. And I didn't get it. I was a roaring mama tiger, in defense of his existence and right to be acknowledged as a human being who lived and died here.

And yet . . .

I also did not bring him up. Me, who is never afraid to mention him in casual conversation, to tell strangers about my son, to say his name, to bring him up. I did not bring him up to my in-laws. And of course . . . I should have.

I tend to forget on this side of things, how prickly I really still am. I forget that not everyone knows I long to talk about him, and would have delighted in comparing his picture with DH's baby pictures, and tracing his features with my parents-in-law. How lovely I would have found it to talk about his big feet and how he kicked me with my SIL who has children.

People don't know how to react among the bereaved and fear saying or doing the Wrong Thing, especially if it reminds them or hurts them or God Forbid, makes them cry. I forget that, because I know it can't hurt me any more than it already does and I know that crying is cleansing and healing, not something to be feared and avoided.

I also don't know how much they know, if they know how traumatizing the whole thing was, if they know how perfect he was. I know they haven't seen his pictures, and I don't know if they know of their existence.

And so, I battle with myself. Were my expectations too high? I battle with my anger towards them (and is it fair, and do they deserve it, or am I being hard on them because of our past history?) and towards myself (am I a coward, or was I just too stunned to break the barrier down?). With what to do now. My determination is to continue to give Gabriel space in our lives. After all, nothing changes the fact that he is our son and we are his parents. It's just that he is not visible to us now; his spirit is all around us. I want him to remain in our lives and want him to be acknowledged as such. And already, now, the precedent has been set by both sides to leave it alone, don't mention, keep it quiet, ignore, pretend it didn't happen.

How do I fix that now?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Before I shut this thing down and head out way too early (it could legitimately be termed the ass-crack of dawn), a happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

I hope sincerely that everyone can find some thing or some one to be grateful for today and that everyone can enjoy a good, bountiful meal in the company of someone they love.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Three Months

It's been three months since the world flipped itself wrong-way-round and my life shifted into a parallel dimension in which I am a mother and not-a-mother. There was a splintering, a fracturing, and I learned that it is possible to live several lives simultaneously; I understand and yet I prickle. I am compassionate and also taste the bitterness I hope to avoid. I hold my head up and let the tears roll down my cheeks. I am defiant, speaking his name, demanding acknowledgement, and I hold him close to me, my own tiny little boy. I seek light and I shrink from it. I hold my motherhood in my hands and it is alien.

And I don't know if I would have recollected the significance of the 24th day of the month - despite having cleaned my silver band, my Gabriel ring, just this morning and run my fingers over the engraving - had I not been discussing my Thanksgiving plans with a colleague and grimacing over the fact that I had not actually successfully avoided a full meal celebration with the in-laws. When she asked why I made a face, I summarized our history and then I blurted out without thinking that it would also be my first face-to-face since the baby died. She looked confused and asked when that happened (she was not here then, and has only heard snippets since, and God knows my uterine history is awfully confusing without a handy timeline in front of you), and I said "August. August 24th. Three months ago . . . exactly, actually."

Three months.

Three mere months. I would not even have been near delivery yet. In fact, I read a post from my friend who is due the day after Gabriel was due about how the baby has shifted, and thought 'how bizarre that a few months ago we were comparing notes on the big ultrasound and the NT scan and morning sickness.' I am so far removed from my pregnancy in my mind now it might as well have been three years ago. It was startling to realize that the people I was pregnant with are still pregnant, because the world I walk in is so very different.

Three months without my son.

And it doesn't feel like yesterday. The pain is still there, the sadness and grief still lurk. And yet . . . as someone once wrote in a way that seemed a promise to me:

One day, you breathe. And you know that, despite not being fashionable or palatable, you are more compassionate now than you ever were before. You know how surreal it is to cradle an urn in rush hour traffic. You are all at once a giant and a meek, trembling, spitting thing. You know now to embrace both. You know that it's not your fault that some people can't bear the taste of black licorice.

One day you breathe, and it almost feels like oxygen.

And I do breathe and it does feel like oxygen. The alien-ness and foreign-ness and new-ness is gone, and strange as this new life is, I've become comfortable in it. I don't like it, and parts of it make me want to shriek and scream, but I don't, and that's ok.

Three months. It won't be long before he will have been gone longer than he was here. We are moved on, focusing on another shadow-child, another pregnancy . . . and yet he is with us still. With us always. A child of shadow and light, little more than a whisper carried on the wind and a butterfly from nowhere that makes me whisper in my head "Gabriel? Is that you, precious one?"

I still crave proof of his existence, still long to hear his name spoken by other people, still force his being in front of other people so that it cannot be denied. But with passing time, I grow more certain that Gabriel was, and Gabriel is, and Gabriel will be. He is not what I had wanted and will not be what I had hoped, but perhaps our parenthood is not so different from living children after all, in the end, because he will be what he will be, and I know now that my love for him does not and will not change.

Gabe, my darling, we love you and miss you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Well, THAT didn't go well.

So, in order to make the introduction between Jonah and Barney go as smoothly as possible, we've been following all the recommendations. Letting Barney explore at his pace in controlled environments, introducing each other to their scents and sounds, showing love and praise and reassurance to both when the other is moving around. . .

We planned to slowly bring Barney downstairs while Jonah was crated, so that he could see and hear Jonah in a safer environment and get used to Jonah's frantic yips and desperate pleas for friendship in dog language that don't translate so well to cat language. And then eventually, after lots of praise and reassurance and a few visits, let Jonah out on leash . . . you get the idea.


That was the plan.

Things were going so well. I went upstairs for an hour and let Barney free but refused to bring over to me. If he wanted pets, he was going to have to navigate it to me, which he eventually did. We spent a fun forty minutes playing together and cuddling. Then I came downstairs to watch some of the Spurs game and left him out upstairs to explore, which he did. He got onto the rocking chair and then onto the ledge.

What you have to understand is that the master bedroom overlooks the living room and there is a ledge and shutters. We tied the shutters closed after Prince indicated a willingness to consider a suicidal leap. Barnaby thought the tie was fun. DH was concerned, but I reassured him I wasn't concerned, because the small opening if he pushed them outwards was too small for him to squeeze through and he could balance on the ledge in a way Prince couldn't.

I was wrong.

Out of nowhere, there is a thud next to me and I look over to see a very startled (but perfectly fine) Barnabas looking around him and in the next second, a blur as Jonah sees him and realizes the object of his dearest wishes is right there, OH MY GOD IT'S A CAT BE MY FRIEND HI HI HI HI KTTY!

I'll leave you to imagine what two black streaks, one hissing, one barking joyfully are like.

We grabbed Jonah, and Dh held him while I approached the unhappy kitten. I spoke soothingly and stroked him and then picked him up and loved on him and he relaxed and started purring. We let them see each other, Jonah hopeful and excited and Barnabas tense and wary, but trusting.

Then Jonah broke free and bounded for me.

Which made Barnabas dig every claw he had into various parts of my flesh (ripping my shirt) in order to launch himself as far away from the loud beast as he possibly could. Which was pretty far, but holy fuck that HURT. My left boob will never be the same, I fear.

We got Jonah into his crate and cajoled Barney away from his hiding spot. He sat in my lap for awhile as I petted him and reassured him and he stared menacingly at Jonah and Jonah barked in hope and frustration from inside his crate. Eventually I took Barney back upstairs but he gave me nasty looks when I sat him on the bed. I took him into the bathroom and he calmed down. I bribed him with toys and he was interested, but I had to call a stop when he accidentally pawed through the feather and sunk a claw in under my thumbnail.

All in all, another instance in the best laid plans category.

I can't wait until Wednesday, when the two of them get to ride next to each other for three hours on the night-time drive home for Thanksgiving fun. What the fuck was I thinking when I agreed to go home? Seriously?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Meet Barnabas



Barnabas, obviously, is a black kitten, who now belongs to us.

Sigh. Chuckle.

Here is how it happened, paraphrased:

me: So, do you think you will want to get another cat?
dh: Yes, eventually, I think I'd like to. How about you? I mean, Prince was your cat for 18 years.
me: Yes. Eventually. Not right away. Probably after the holidays, so we don't have to worry about cat care.
dh: Good thinking.
me: Adult cat, young cat or kitten?
dh: Oh, cat, definitely. Don't you think? Kittens are a lot of work.
me: Yeeeeeaaaaaahhhhhh, but. . .
dh: What, they're cuter?
me: Yeah, but I was actually thinking that a kitten would be easier to train to co-exist with Jonah. They are a lot more curious and a lot less set in their ways. We would have to worry less about a cat that has had experience with dogs, you know?
dh: Hm. Good point.
me: So, after the holidays, we'll look for a kitten? Doesn't have to be a baby, just under 6 months.
dh: Yeah, I'm cool with that.
me: Can we get a black cat?
dh: Sure. Why?
me: I think they are pretty. But also, they're harder to adopt out and a lot of places will just euthanize them, because they are considered bad luck and often targeted for animal cruelty.
dh: Whatever.

So that was the plan. Get a kitten, after the holidays. I figured we'd have plenty of time to look, plenty of cats should be available after Christmas kittens were returned when it turned out they scratched furniture and required lots of attention because they like to play at 3 am.

And then, naturally, fate intervened and threw out our plans.

A friend contacted me because they had a friend who had a black kitten who needed a home by this weekend or the kitten would be going to a shelter. Basically, they found this kitten hiding by their house on Halloween of all nights. Not wanting any harm to come to it, they took it in.

Unfortunately, their dog considered the cat prey. Their neighbors agreed to take the dog for awhile while they searched for the cat's owners, assuming it was lost. They did ads in the paper, fliers around the neighborhood and called shelters. The only person who answered their ad was a creepy redneck dude who couldn't accurately describe the kitten - they think he intended to use it for target practice. Nearly three weeks had passed and their neighbor said they couldn't keep their dog anymore, so the cat had to go, and as mentioned, if they couldn't find a home for it, they were taking it to a shelter.

Apart from the difficulty shelters have adopting out black cats, there is another complicating factor, which is that a longer spell of warmer weather (thanks, El Nino!) has apparently led to a longer breeding season and there is a higher number of kittens being turned into shelters this year. Some shelters aren't taking as many or are euthanizing more quickly than they might otherwise.

So, of course, when a black kitten fell into our laps and was facing an uncertain future, we caved.

And that's how Barnabas came into our lives.

He is pretty cute.

So far, he has been largely contained to the bathroom, though we've let him into the bedroom as well. He seems pretty curious, but apparently the floor is lava. He hates the carpet. Whether it's a texture issue or the lingering smell of our departed kitty, we aren't sure. He certainly doesn't care for the spots Prince frequented, but doesn't seem at all bothered curling up in the same spot on the bathmat Prince enjoyed. Nevertheless, that little piece aside, he loves to play and enjoys being petted and held a great deal.

He's yet to meet Jonah, as he hasn't approached coming downstairs yet. Jonah is well aware of a new addition and has sniffed at us and is familiar with the scent and the noise and is not bothered. Barney has heard Jonah make noise and is alert to it, but not yet bothered by it. We know they will get to meet each other when we all travel to my mother's house for Thanksgiving, at least through their crates.

I do think that if we can get him over his fear of the carpet, he and Jonah could be good friends. Barney is quite a little energetic boy; I think they could be great friends.

Oh, and for good measure, here is Jonah in his new holiday pajamas. He thinks he's pretty cute, I agree.

Friday, November 20, 2009


So yesterday was my first appointment with the new therapist, hereafter known as Dr. K.

Dr. K was selected from a list provided by Dr. B, and becuase we played phone tag and because of appointment and work conflicts, we weren't able to meet before yesterday. I was nervous because, well, it is difficult to open up to a total stranger and because I feel so much better these days, it's hard to know what goals I have for therapy.

Admittedly, my eyes were on the future - I am anticipating going off the anti-depressants in the first trimester of pregnancy and the thought scares the shit out of me. Because if you've been around for awhile, you'll remember that I was totally and utterly freaked out while pregnant with Gabriel. And lemme tell you - that's not going to get any better with the next one. Some things are already better, like the tests and the monitoring that we are going to be doing. So getting a therapist who can help me manage that anxiety seemed important (apart from the fact that Dr. B required it).

I liked her. It was ok, you know? I told her the whole story, and she was suitably and predictably horrified. And then we talked about our future plans and the plans I have with Dr. B for managing a future pregnancy and the tests we are doing.

What I didn't realize is that Dr. K's sub-specialty is in helping women with previous pregnancy loss. And she believes in taking an active role in care management and in communicating with the other caregivers. And has been active in the midwifery groups in town. So, really? She's pretty perfect for me. She gets where I am coming from, she gets why some of the changes are hard for me. She is all about working with the doctor and has in fact worked with my doctor and just about all of the MFM's I could possibly see.

Her program for me is going to be pretty broad-based. She'll help me work off the meds gradually and deal with the anxiety and help me go through more working through the trauma of Gabriel's birth. Physical stuff like walking and yoga, diet and sleep. She wants to help me learn a lot of coping techniques for anxiety and also for focusing on shutting out the negative possibilities. On getting me as ready as I can be for the next pregnancy. She's pleased with the proactive attitude Dr. B has and with how we are going ahead and, like Dr. B, is positive we can do this.

I'm all on board for that, believe you me.

I'll see her again next week, to get started. Bring it on.

In other news? Ty, Dr. B's nurse, called and Dr. B is insistent that we get the SHG done asap, and so has offered to have the infertility specialist do the procedure, as she will be out of town, if I so desired. Hell yeah. I like Dr. B a lot, but I am not yet so attached that I need her to be the one doing it. They can collaborate and if it means we get moving sooner, awesome. I am growing to like Dr. B more and more. So we are currently scheduled for first thing in the morning, Dec. 8 (but I'm to call if my cycle is wildly different than projected). All of this feels like forward movement, like positive changes. Which is so very welcome right now.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My cat died today.

Prince was almost 18 years old and had been getting thinner and weaker the last few weeks. We knew the end was coming, because he eating less and less everyday and was far more willing to be held and cossetted as we liked than was his norm. He did not seem to be in any pain, but I've known it was probably coming.

Still, it hit me very hard when DH went upstairs this evening after we got home and I realized there was no mewling greeting him. Sure enough, when I asked, he confirmed that he was gone. It appears that he fell asleep and passed quietly and peacefully.

He lived a very long life and a pretty good life. He was insistent, demanding, smart, condescending, loud and intuitively sweet.

I owned him from the time he was a kitten; and I am so very sad right now. I just ache.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Lovely afternoon.

I had a wonderful massage today, with a therapist whose hands are strong and magical. For once, I was perfectly relaxed and walked out feeling good about my body and not at all sore - an amazing feat. That woman is magnificent.

And then I met my friend A for tea. I ordered a lovely, fragant large pot of Earl Grey and Lavender. And a chocolate chip cookie. Both quite good. I was pleased to see A walk with, her ten week old son in her arms.

Seeing him was no problem. I had had a bad moment on the way there, fretting a bit over whether she would want me to hold him or not and whether I wanted to hold him or not. Sometime ago I remember telling myself I would never hold another baby until I was holding my own in my arms again. But I saw him and cooed over him a bit and she asked if I wouldn't mind holding him as she removed her sweater because it was so warm. And I felt no hesitation.

And my goodness, was he wonderful. Small, but squirmy and curious about all the sights, smells and sounds around us, big blue eyes taking everything in. He grabbed my hair and snuggled into my neck and smelled wonderfully like a baby. Then he oblingingly fell asleep, back in her arms, and slept the remainder of the time we were there. I held him again briefly as she gathered all her stuff together and it was so nice.

And then home again, to a freshly vacuumed house and the dryer going with a load of clothes, which my husband has sweetly taken care of.

So nice.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A nice day

We met with our financial planner today. The good news is that we are meeting our goals in terms of slowly building our cash reserves, which is his big focus for us now that we have some form of life insurance. In fact, I think between our three accounts, we are actually half way to our final goal for cash reserves, which, a year ago, was laughable in its enormity (of course our credit card debt is as high as it previously was, if not higher . . . but I'm focusing on the positive). It's slow progress, but we are moving towards where he feels we should be, and once there, we can begin to move toward actual Adult Things like retirement funds and so on. Maybe someday, we'll even pay it off. Hey, it's not that funny.

He, too, shares dreams that we will someday win the lottery. I told him I'm trying hard for all of us. We then joked about who would take whose private jet to meet where and decided on meeting halfway between Houston and San Antonio, a luxurious waste of jet fuel and money and a good joke. He asked when we would try to conceive again and we shrugged and said, "Maybe in the new year. We don't know the timing for sure, only that we are going to try again."

Then we washed Grover at a car wash because he looked so disreputable. We didn't want to waste the energy to do it ourselves, though it would have been less expensive and a better job - it's predicted to rain this next week. The car seemed to appreciate the attention and I have vowed to clean it out and vaccuum it tonight or tomorrow.

Then DH got a phone call from his boss, a bad call. The person who was supposed to have been there today didn't show up for their shift. No notice, no reason why. The second time in as many weeks this has happened. Not his fault, but nevertheless frustrating. And unfortunate, as he then had to go in to work, which is where he is now.

I drove him and then stopped at the shopping center on my way home. I went into Borders, wondering if they had Elizabeth McCracken's book about her stillbirth and subsequent pregnancy (An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination is the title). Today was a book drive for Blue Santa - the local police department's organization of holiday gifts for underprivileged children. Borders was participating - one could drop off gently used children's books or (better yet, in their opinion) purchase new children's books to donate and get a coupon of some kind. I immediately strode back to the children's section and found the Award Winning books - mostly Newbury winners, books that formed the background of my childhood, that I intended to fill shelves with for our children. I chose three that I loved, wondered if they were perhaps not diverse enough, but shrugged and carried them upstairs, where a kind older lady helped me find the single copy of the McCracken book. I went back downstairs and checked out and let the cashier (a young man in his early 20's) know I was donating the three children's books.

He was wide-eyed and grateful and as I struggled to pull my credit card out of its slot in my wallet, I shrugged and smiled and said what had been motivating me all along, "Oh, it's nothing. We lost our son about three months ago and I love books. We're doing a few things in his honor for the holidays, so this is a natural one. I'm glad I stopped in today."

His mouth fell open and he said, "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

I was now snapping my wallet closed and was matter of fact and dry eyed and I shrugged again, smile still in place. "Thank you."

He rung up my purchase and there was a moment of silence where he was contemplating me, this frumpy, fat woman in front of him who casually made conversation with clerks about her dead son, to whom buying a few books for kids she'd never meet was perfectly natural. "I really don't know what to say," he said. "I'm really, really sorry for your loss. Thank you for the books." He returned my credit card and I nudged the McCracken book back towards me. "I hope you have a nice holiday."

I smiled again and said, "Thank you. I will. I hope you do as well." And I slid my card into my wallet and my wallet into my purse and walked out with my book and I smiled, because I could feel Gabriel smiling near me. He may never read The Westing Game, but some other child will, and perhaps they will be as intrigued as I was once.

Then I bought lunch - chicken pesto pasta - and came home and read the book from cover to cover, alternately laughing out loud and crying because I know the pain she writes of so clearly and cogently. Beautiful book, a wonderful tribute to her son and a balm to my soul, to have another person's words bring out again the feelings of my heart.

All in all, not a bad day.

And tonight, I get laid.

Not bad at all.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dual Nature

Sometimes I feel as if I'm living a completely fractured existence. Don't get me wrong - on the whole, overall, I'm in a far better place than I was a month ago, let alone two months ago. I feel, generally, much more peaceful and calm and content with life.

Which makes it all the more surprising when a thought leaps up, seemingly out of nowhere and reminds me of my membership in the Dead Baby Club. It's especially odd because often it takes me awhile to realize just how fractured it all is.

An example:

DH and I were discussing recently whether or not we wanted to try to conceive before the New Year (our original plans) in light of Dr. B's statements that we could try as soon as the tests were complete (this was obviously before yesterday's news). As we talked, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages to trying again so quickly. And my thoughts went sort of like this:

Well, the doctor isn't going to lead us astray. If she says it is ok to go ahead, even before four - six months have elapsed, then we should be able to trust that. And of course, we'll have the tests done, and that's good as well. Of course, if I lost more weight, then when we lose the next one, I won't have to wonder if being obese contributed to the loss.

Another conversation that took place inside my head as some friends and I were discussing one friend's cousin. This cousin recently found out she is carrying a second girl and not the boy they wanted. She has taken up dangerous behaviors like smoking and drinking because she says she doesn't care about this baby anymore. There are two parts to this discussion - one, the talk about desiring one sex over another and feeling disappointment if the sex you get is not the sex you hoped for and two, this person's specific reactions, including dangerous behavior and willful endangerment of her child. My thoughts went like this:

I completely understand being disappointed to some extent by finding out the sex of the baby, if you have a preference or felt strongly. By the time we knew Gabe was a boy, I was excited, but when I first heard that he might be a boy, I was totally deflated because I'd been so sure he was a girl. So I definitely understand the disappointment. On the other hand, I have absolutely zero preference now. There are reasons I want a son - I feel that I was cheated out of raising mine and I crave that experience so deeply now that my previous fears of raising a boy are completely and utterly ridiculous and my reasons for wanting a girl seem so superficial. In fact, the only reason I'd want a girl at all is to hope it would feel more reassuring and like a fresh start, and because a girl would be less likely to live in the shadow of her dead older baby brother.

Also - these people getting so freaking worked up and disappointed? I mean, I get it and all, but for fuck's sake. You have a healthy, living child. Having a boy or girl when you wanted the other is hardly a tragedy. You want tragedy? Try holding your baby in one hand, because they can fit, and get back to me. You have no idea how close to real tragedy and insanity you walk everyday, no idea how close to the edge you really are. Try and show a little fucking gratitude.

And it just flies through my head and I find myself shocked, because I really do understand the disappointment and the necessity for adjustment. And because I don't think that you truly get to make those kinds of comparisons and judgments. I never realized that that sort of thought was buried in me with Gabriel until it flew through as calm as any other thought.

And when we talk about ttc? And I think about another baby? These are actual thoughts, word for word that I've had and that I've said to my husband and only later though "Er, that's probably not normal. I should probably bring this up with the therapist next week." Thoughts like these:

"There is no sense in waiting on the shg. I mean, of course, it would be good to know for certain there are no structural anomalies, or scar tissues or something that could cause implantation in a funky spot. But really? That's just the illusion of control. Whatever is going to happen with the next pregnancy will happen, whether I have the shg beforehand or not. If it's not a structural thing resulting in previa, bleeding, IUGR, it'll probably be a cord accident or a high blood pressure issue or something totally random during delivery that takes the next one. Why pretend we have any control? Might as well give it a shot, because it's not like waiting does anything other than get our hopes up."

"When we get pregnant again, I need to make sure to keep one of the cameras in my purse with spare batteries at all times. That way, when we lose the next one, we'll know for certain that we can get pictures. Maybe I should knit a small hat or something, so we don't have to use hats that are too big next time. Oh, I should be sure to request handprints. I'm sad we don't have Gabriel's handprints."

"Will we try and keep the sex a surprise next time? I really liked that, but no one will believe that we don't know it, with fifty million ultrasounds. And it would be better for them to get to know that baby in case it dies. Because I don't think Gabriel is real to most people at all. They didn't know him, didn't hear his heartbeat like we did - oh, yes, we'll need more doppler gel, we liked listening to Gabe's heart and will want to do that again - didn't see his pictures, didn't know he was a boy or what his name was. I liked the idea of a surprise, but hell, at this point, a living baby we get to take home would be a surprise."

"I never fully understood people who played fast and loose with the 'dead baby card' and argued in favor of a bunch of unnecessary medical interventions (that are proven in multiple studies to be unhelpful for normal mothers) that often led to c-section to protect themselves. But if Dr. B wants me to schedule a c-section the day after a viable heartbeat, I'll seriously consider it."

And yet, at the same time, I am generally feeling positive. I feel good about our chances for another pregnancy, I feel good about the monitoring we'll be receiving, I feel good about this doctor, I feel good about this hospital, I feel like we have a good shot at a good outcome.

That hopefulness exists side by side with this sense of fatality and irreversibly bad outcome, and they both feel completely natural to me. As natural as breathing or considering the Spurs odds of beating the Mavs without Tony and Tim (I bet on them to win, and they did. In fact they exceeded my expectations for point difference). It's like I completely accept that there are dual natures warring withing me and that it is how one lives one's life After. It's so bizarre to actually contemplate, but there you are. They fit so neatly in there together I barely notice anymore.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

No SHG this cycle

It took two phone calls (from me) before I finally got the word that in fact they were unable to schedule the necessary equipment during the window when the test has to be performed.

I was both angry and really bummed out. Dr. B said that we could start ttc as soon as these tests were done (provided they didn't reveal something major). We are ready to start again. I think it is necessary for our healing to start again, to show that faith again, and certainly for us to reconnect again.

But since there is no shg, that means that trying to conceive is not a good idea. While I really don't think there is a structural issue (or we wouldn't have gotten so far with Gabriel without something showing up in there), we can't say for certain without doing the test.

And now that is going to be pushed back to December, and the nurse mentioned that if we were really looking at mid-December, the doctor would be out of town. Which would mean January. And if there is something found that requires attention - even more time.

The delays are pretty frustrating. Particularly when we don't think there is anything structurally wrong. But . . . neither are we comfortable going ahead when the doctor is advising that we do these tests first. The blood testing is done and I think that is the point at which we are most likely to find a culprit and that is done.

It's a difficult place to be. We want to move forward. I know that I will not feel complete until I have a living child in my arms. I likewise know that a living child will not replace Gabriel or be Gabriel or make it ok that Gabriel is dead. So it's not like trying to conceive is a way of avoiding dealing with his death. But it was a difficult decision to make and a hard place to reach, knowing what lies ahead of us. We know it will be a difficult road emotionally and probably physically and we know there is absolutely zero guarantee of an outcome that we hope for. But we have decided that we are going ahead anyway and to have reached that place mentally and be told that we are so close to being able to move forward, to getting mentally ready and psyched up for this and then having to stop and reconsider. . .

"If 'twere to be done, then it is best done quickly." I don't want to lose my nerve or leave time for lots of questions that we'll never have an answer to because we can't see the future. It's a cliff we have to jump off and hope the bungee cord doesn't fail and the longer we wait, the harder it starts to look and the more room you leave for fear to paralyze you. Frustrating is the word I continue to return to.

I really wanted this to happen. I wanted it to be done and to be beyond it and not have another test hanging over us with another questionmark. But, like Gabriel's death, it is the hand I've been dealt, so that is the hand I'll play.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Final Tally

A mere 15 vials of blood, requiring 5 sticks. I spent an extra hour+ before they began, which means I am going to be late to work and I feel tired and grouchy.

But all but one test is completed (on my end). I may have to return for that one, there was confusion about it so they left it off the list as they could not get in touch with Dr. B.

I am eating a chicken salad sandwich as I type. The glucola wasn't terrible, but the combined lack of food/drink for 12+ hours and the sugar gave me a bit of vague nausea. Now to sit and wait. Some results by Thursday, others by next week from what they said.

I'm just glad that part is done and that my husband awesomely made terrific chicken salad last night and it was a short hop back to my house to eat it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Head in the Sand

So I got my appointment at the clinic across the street - not for the very opening, but for something not long after.

And I realized . . . I'm anxious. About the blood draw, but really about the results. I feel pretty healthy, but what if the glucose tolerance test shows me as diabetic or pre-diabetic? What if the tests show a clotting disorder?

I know, I know - better to know and have it treated if this is the case rather than pretend it doesn't exist. But there is more.

The what ifs.

What if it comes back that I have a clotting disorder? That means that it can be treated and our odds of a good outcome for another pregnancy increase a lot. It also means that if I had sought out different care or treatment earlier, we might have known in time to save Gabriel.

What if it comes back that there is nothing wrong? That means that there is likely nothing we could have done for Gabriel. It also means we are, yet again, at the mercy of stastics decreasingly in our favor, not that we've been on the right side of the stats yet anyhow.

What if we find out something in the karyotyping that indicates we shouldn't try to have children without genetic screening? Or have to talk about odds and stuff?

The what ifs are scary most of the time anyway, but now they are coming close to home and raising questions that scare me and bring up the ugly sides of Gabriel's death and the questions we'll never have firm, final answers to. It raises my anxiety.

I'm not sure what I'm really hoping for with this, what outcome is good for us here. Answers, yes. A plan, yes. But the other, deeper questions. I just don't know.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Turns out?

There is a Quest lab quite literally across the street from my house.

Cool. That should make getting there easier, as well as getting something to eat after. I'm calling tomorrow to see if I can get in Tuesday, or Wednesday if Tuesday morning is a no-go. I would schedule online, but there are so many tests, I want to be sure I'm ok to do it at that location (would suck to get there and find out no). I'm also hopeful that will make the beta series easier when we get the next positive. Because parking in the Med Center? Freaking expensive.

Clearly, I missed my calling in life and if the lottery thing doesn't work out, I am going to see about investing in/building a parking garage. I can't imagine utilities and maintenance are all that much. Given what I pay for it? I have to think the garage owners are wiping their asses with $20's.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Doctor Appt and My Always Moment

So today was my follow up appointment with the doctor (Dr. B) to check in about how the anti-depressant is working and talk further about our plans to try to conceive in the future and what testing we would do, since she would have had time to review the hospital reports.

I went in, and again, I was running late. I was doing great until I ended up in a turn only lane by accident and I wasted 10 minutes trying to backtrack on one-way streets through construction. So frustrating, and then to top it off, there was no parking easily available and I was feeling flustered again when I got there.

Fortunately, she was running a bit behind, so it ended up not being a big deal.

When I finally got back to an exam room (I left my book in the car, but figured since I was late, it wasn't necessary. I was wrong.), I talked with a new PA and really enjoyed her. We talked about how the Prestiq is helping and what it had done and how I was processing stuff, about exercise and weight (because wtf? I weighed 10 pounds more on their scale than I did on my scale Monday morning. Granted the clothes/shoes easily added two pounds, because I have in fact weighed myself in those clothes and out of them and yeah, two pounds, and I know it's not uncommon for me to put on 5-6 pounds right before my period starts, but dude.) and then she took my blood pressure. I was feeling very relaxed, but it came back really, really high - 145(ish)over 96. Yikes!

Then I sat and read a poster for NuvaRing seven times and Dr. B came in. I still like her. We talked some about the depression and she is really pleased with the Prestiq and how I was describing my reactions to it and how things have been going. We talked about the blood pressure, which she wasn't happy with (rightfully!) and she's recommending a new internist.

Then we moved on to testing. She originally said that we would not pursue the huge panel of bloodwork, because there were no links between my pregnancy losses that were apparent. After reading over the hospital reports, she has changed her mind. She said the clotting I described and the clot on the placenta make her want to rule out a clotting disorder and there is no reason not to test for it now, since that is usually very treatable, rather than risk another pregnancy by waiting with no good reason. In addition to a multitude of tests to check for possible clotting disorders, she's ordering a karyotyping to check my chromosome locations (my coworker joked that I really might be a freak of nature, lol), and is asking for cholesterol and thyroid tests and also the glucose tolerance test to check for diabetes. Just to identify any possible problems. All together, it's 14 different tests/panels that will have blood drawn for. My poor, poor, poor arms. While they have a lab on location, they gave me the slip so that I can schedule it at a location nearer to me and miss less time from work and not have to drive far after fasting in preparation for the tests.

Those things are all good, but the thing I am most pleased about is that she is willing to schedule the sonohysterogram for this cycle or the next; initially she had said in the New Year. But she is pleased with how I've responded to the anti-depressants and that my cycle has returned to normal, so she said that if the equipment is not booked (there is only one u/s machine in the office that she can do the shg with), then we can do it immediately. I am crossing my fingers that that is the case and we don't have to wait until December.

Speaking of my cycle - I've been a little anxious, but it was textbook for me. Ovulated right on time, normally, with normal cervical fluid (or, actually, less fertile fluid than in times past, which is actually a good thing, as it could be indicative of my hormones being better regulated), and a perfectly normal luteal phase. Twelve days, just like normal. 100% normal. I have never been so happy to get my period ever - I laughed when I told Jason it was a Happy Period!

Back to the tests - if there is scar tissue or some other obstruction, then I'll have to have surgery. If there is a clotting disorder, then it depends on the apparent severity - she said most likely, I'll be doing a treatment of baby aspirin, but if it's more severe, then Lovenex injections. Apart from that, we discussed my care management during pregnancy. We'd already discussed that I would be immediately sent for a beta series and set up for an early u/s, but I asked today what comes next. Immediately, she responded, "An ultrasound roughly every two weeks to monitor development, the placenta and the cervix. We're going to be keeping a very close eye on you." Which is, in fact, what I wanted to hear, and is a relief.

Even more so when she said she would like me to off anti-depressants for the entirety of the first trimester. Prestiq is not recommended in pregnancy, but can be taken in the first and second trimesters. Dr. B prefers to prescribe Zoloft to pregnant and nursing mothers, which is approved for pregnancy, but says the best course is always to be taking nothing. I agree, but also don't know if I can do it; my anxiety with Gabriel was so high and that isn't going to get better now. But the close monitoring is a relief and should ease that somewhat. And I'll be going to see the new therapist regularly throughout that time, so the hope is it will be enough.

Additionally (finally?), I will see a MFM (maternal/fetal medicine specialist - or - high risk doc) at least once during the next pregnancy, and more if there are complications. Dr. B said the bottom line is that even before we know the outcome of the tests, I am high risk because of my history. Period. She will co-manage my care with the MFM. We just have to see who takes my insurance and what hoops will have to be jumped through.

Basically, I am hearing all the right things and I am very happy with the plans for moving forward. I feel confident I will be well taken care of. I hope that means better things, but I also know that it is unlikely that if I had been seeing Dr. B before that things would be different. It is possible, but it is also possible that all the care in the world won't prevent another loss, another tragedy. That's the biggest lesson in all of this - it is all so completely out of my control.

But I am feeling good. Dr. B said that we will take care of whatever pops up from these tests and then we are free to try to conceive whenever we feel ready. So I'd say that we are feeling pretty good right now, even with my happy period.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chinese Fortune Cookie

"An alien of some sort will be appearing to you shortly!"

Now THAT, friends, is a gotdamn fortune!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009



It was my own fault. The thread was clearly titled, and I opened it anyway. Inside was a story about a young girl, 11 years old, in fact, who gave birth to her new daughter on her wedding day (she was being married to the 19 year old who impregnated her at the age of 10). She referred to her 'new toy' and talked about how she was dropping out of school because she is a mother now.

I got hot, then cold, then felt tears pressing against my eyes.

What was I feeling in that moment? Anger. At the universe for a shitty exchange in which I lose a child and an eleven year old has a perfect child. At the family of the child who thought the correct thing was to marry off an eleven year old to the man who raped her when she was 10 (even though it sounds consensual, a ten year old is not capable of making that decision). Sadness. That Gabriel is gone, that I don't know if I will ever have a child. That this young girl is now a mother, that this poor child is unlikely to be raised well and supported. Jealousy. Yes, jealousy that this child has a living, healthy daughter and that I have a dead son. Disgust, that I would have even an ouce of jealousy towards this tragic situation. Bitterness about it all.

I do not want to feel that way. I do not choose to be that way.

I do not know how to stop feeling that way. I hate it.

I can direct my actions, I can choose my words, but I can't stop the feelings from rushing over me.

Would that I could.