Thursday, December 29, 2011

Bits and bobbles

Today is 21 weeks and 3 days gestation.

In other words, we made it through The Day. Christmas Eve was busy, I barely noticed. It was a nice holiday though, with my brother and SIL and my mom. We had an unexpected Christmas Day guest though, when my mother left to return home and had a blow-out about fifteen minutes away from our house. Bless her heart, she was so upset because they told her she couldn't make it all the way home on her spare tire. She was afraid of inconveniencing us and upset because my brother and SIL were supposed to stay at her house that evening, which wasn't possible if she were in Houston. It all worked out though, and I was selfishly glad we got more time with her.

Unfortunately, I've not felt up to updating because I finally succumbed to sickness. Since November, I've been cooped up in my ridiculous office with at least once sick coworker. I think they all went out at least twice between November and December, and I managed to avoid illness . . . until I go on vacation. Started as congestion, then became a head cold complete with wicked sore throat, and then worse congestion and then a light cough, followed by a worse cough. I spent most of Monday in bed, Tuesday on the couch, Wednesday moping on the couch because I felt like shit and had planned to go into work and get some stuff caught up, but felt too bad to do it. Then I had a breakdown about 5 am where I cried and cried (and coughed a lot) and told DH I am terrible at my job, I feel like I'm one forgetful day away from total crisis and losing my job, and I can't continue doing this. How much of that was fatigue and how much was finally admitting that I don't want to keep trying anymore, I can't say. I am dreading a return though. I really do loathe my job at this point and I don't know how to fix it or make it better.

Baby seems to be fine, though I've definitely lost weight. I've had no appetite all week long, and haven't eaten enough. Little one seems oblivious - just keeps twisting and turning and kicking in there. I had a moment yesterday where I thought I hadn't felt movement in awhile, and needed a doppler check - literally put the probe down right on top of the heartbeat, which was reassuring. Passing The Day was a relief (though the moments of reflection made me miss Gabriel so intensely I can't put it into words), but I won't really feel better until we are past viability. Of course, that is not a magic cure, but at least there is a chance then, when there isn't yet, even if we are past Gabriel's birth point. I know I just won't completely relax until the living, breathing little one is in my arms, and then it's just a whole new set of worries.

I am beginning to believe that we will see this baby, though. It's disconcerting and not a little frightening. I've bought clothes and baby gear just for this baby and it still seemed like a game. Practical matters like finding daycare if my mom can't move out here (another panic attack related to work when I considered that), finding a pediatrician, etc. . . that all needs to be started and I am utterly uninterested. It's still so hard to believe, that I just don't yet.

I have more to add on so many things, but this headache is getting worse. Ugh. I'm so pissed off about being sick!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Twenty Weeks

That is today.

According to various online experts (parroting stuff taken from various printed book experts), the baby is about 10.5" inches long and weighs about 13 oz. Baby is gaining weight steadily, adding insulation for birth. Baby is swallowing several ounces of amniotic fluid per day, kidneys are processing it, the digestive system is beginning to produce meconium, and taste buds are forming. The uterus is now level with the belly button (or just above, in my case) and baby should be moving a fair amount, though how much one feels the movement depends on the location of the placenta and where the baby is located.

Many people think of this as the half-way point in pregnancy, and celebrate being half-baked.

I look at this and realize it's the week I've been dreading all along.

Hand me a paper bag?

I'm torn between wanting to be at work, where the avalanche of back-log threatens to topple, and only the business staff are present. There is plenty to choose from, plenty that needs to be done before we go on break for a week. And there are plenty of people with less to do who wish they were on vacation and therefore plenty of conversations to be had. So - distraction aplenty.

But I'd also rather be in the waiting room at my doctor's office, you know, just in case. No, I won't disturb anyone, I'll just watch the fishes and gaze out the window, if that's all right. Maybe go down to the hospital cafeteria for lunch, since it's only three floors from the antepartum unit. Nice and close by, if it's needed.

Half of me is busy trying to finish up Christmas things - all of DH's family's gifts must be wrapped to go with BIL on Wednesday night (which means we need to make a pit-stop for some chocolate and gift-cards for the sisters-in-law). All of my family's gifts need to be wrapped and cards sent to my grandmother and my sister. I haven't purchased one single item for my husband, for his stocking or his gifts, though I've been informed that he's perfectly happy to wait until after Christmas, if it's easier. The house still needs massive cleaning and I've promised to bake banana bread and make fudge for the office, and we've got a happy hour Wednesday night, and did I mention we're hosting my brother and SIL and mother for Christmas Eve, so there is a menu to be fleshed out, shopping to be done and preparations for Christmas dinner to be started?

And all of it leading up to Christmas Eve - which is, incidentally, 20w5d. In case that isn't wholly clear, 20w5d is the gestational day at which I went into labor and delivered Gabriel.

I have never wanted so much for a week to be over.

And this is just one more milestone - granted, it's a big one. The biggest yet. But it's only of small relief to pass it, because we are still four weeks (as of today) from viability. We need more time yet, and I feel wild for it to be here already. The thoughts swirl darkly in the back of my mind that we will pass this weekend - after all, why shouldn't we? - and get to 21 or 22 or 23 weeks only to have something go wrong before that salvation of a day at 24 weeks. And won't that taste be bitter in my mouth?

There is no relaxing, no relief, no lowering of the guard, not yet. No matter how often I repeat the mantra "This is a different pregnancy, this is a different baby. We've done everything we can do to keep baby safe." It rings hollowly. They are only words until this baby is safely in my arms, breathing and alive and with the promise of coming in that same state.

And the knowledge that 24 weeks isn't a magical marker at which all problems vanish is there. I cling to that date, but I am aware of the real statistics. I know the outcomes, and I know that babies still die, that there are still very real and present risks, and longterm complications, and so I am not content with that date either. But at the least, that gives us a chance.

But to get there, we have to first get through here, through this week.

It's going to be a long week, particularly when it's so hard to breathe evenly and not let my heart race away in panic.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

And suddenly two weeks passed . . .

So the anatomy scan went well, but I sort of needed some time to process it. The scan itself went so quickly and with so little explanation as it went that I wasn't convinced for awhile that things really were ok. The perinatalogist said the baby looked good, the cervix looked good and he was quite pleased. But since the scan took about 20 minutes, I asked DH several times whether or not the peri had actually measured everything and whether or not DH thought we needed to be worried about anything.

The answer was consistently yes, and no.

The sex was confirmed, by the way, unmistakably. Since we've suspected it all along, and since it concurred with the bloodwork that was done, it wasn't as climactic or exciting as it was with Gabe. Rather just a sigh of relief that we'd not been calling baby by the wrong name all along. I did cave and tell a few people what we are expecting, but on the whole, I'm keeping it to myself. Only one person at work knows, though it's possible others have guessed by overhearing snippets of our conversation. Our families don't know and I'm not sure whether I'll tell or not. DH leans towards yes, but I enjoy having a secret. My mom really wants to know though, and it seems to have become a game to see if she can get me to slip up and tell. Given that I've purchased some new gender-specific things, it may be hard to hide when she visits for Christmas. I certainly did slip up on a pronoun once and she was all over it, so she at least suspects.

Things seem to be well, but Christmas Eve looms. That is the gestational date at which I went into labor with Gabriel. Everything is different this time and I logically know that. But logic has little to do with fear. I'm trying to be calm and sometimes it works. Other times, I just want it to hurry up and move along.

The 17p is happening each week. The injection isn't bad, but the throbbing/soreness at the injection site is not fun, nor are the killer headaches that follow for two days after. But if it helps, worth it I suppose. I'm just hoping everything goes smoothly tomorrow, which is supposed to be my first visit with the home health nurse for injection. The meds are supposed to arrive earlier in the day via FedEx - the last thing that was supposed to arrive via FedEx was delayed a week when the driver claimed he had no access to the delivery address. I suppose our remote control gate that every other driver can access with ease was just mystifying. But given that we are discussing meds that I have to receive tomorrow, let's cross fingers, shall we?

Work continues on apace, though this hasn't been the best week. I was feeling more optimistic for awhile, but now I'm drowning in what needs to be done before the holiday vacation and concerned it's not going to work out properly. It's obnoxious to share an office with three other full time staff and a rotation of 4 interns. At least we're all getting along now, which was not the case for awhile. Even pleasant, at times, but not a good work environment for me. I've worked an extra eight hours this week in the evenings just to have some peace and quiet to get something done. Of course, it's beneficial when I have to take half a day off to go home and wait for medication to be delivered (ha, in multiple ways). I just wish I felt more settled or more hopeful that things would get better. On the bright side, my doctor signed off on a temporary handicap permit, which will eliminate much of the walking I do.

I don't do much anymore these days. I follow all the restrictions, which is how it should be. It gets tiresome though. I was actually depressed over the weekend when I couldn't do anything to help with Christmas decorations - it was either over 10 lbs or involved step-stools or too much bending and twisting. I can't do much of the housework, and my pubic bones starts aching if I stand too long or walk too much (worse at the end of the week) which makes trips outside the house oh so fun. In short, I feel like an invalid and a burden, and while there are good reasons for these restrictions, it frustrates me to feel that I can't do much. A good motivator for getting into better shape whenever this is over; I can't tell you how much I've taken for granted the ability to move and not get winded walking from the car to the office.

But overall, things are well with us all. The animals are good, and largely sweet. All have been more cuddly than usual. DH spoils me and could not be a better partner in the face of all my restrictions and fears. He remains upbeat and positive, and has done so much to clean the house and decorate for Christmas (things he loathes) and tries hard to make me laugh and keep me going.

I will end here with a picture. The baby and I at 19.5 weeks. God knows I didn't do this enough with Gabriel, to my regret, but I was self-conscious and thought we had time. I have some earlier photos, but they are mostly icky. The quality of this isn't stunning, but it was taken with my iPod, so we'll just blame that.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Oh, Right. Blog. Hi. Um. 17 weeks!

I've been informed that I am a terrible correspondent (true) and that it's now been officially over a month since I updates (er, also true). Um. Sorry?

I am officially 17 weeks today, and the baby is somewhere between an onion and a mango in length, if you can believe that. I can, in that holy shit am I big and does this kiddo move around and stretch luxuriously. I can't, in that, whaaaaa? How'd that happen?

Slowly, with a lot of trepidation and freakouts and worry, is the answer. The cerclage is still in place (to my knowledge. Not that it would, like, just fall out or anything, but since I can't see it or feel it usually, I have to assume a bit here), and so far as I am able to ascertain (despite numerous frights), my water has not broken. Baby moves around a lot, nearly everyday now. I'm bigger than I was when I delivered Gabriel, with an honest-to-goodness visible bump amongst all the fat. There was a two week period in which an anterior placenta dulled the bits of movement I'd been feeling and wildly interfered with picking up any sort of reliable heart rate on doppler, but it seems those dark days are behind us. I am trying very hard to use the doppler only twice a week as needed, and so far it's going ok. (Tip: Go out of town for five days and leave it behind. That helps with the not using it part, but does tend to ratchet up the anxiety. Six of one, half a dozen of the other)

I should have updated sooner. I intended to, but then I wanted to wait for news. And then I was having freakouts, and God, if I'm tired of living them, not only do I not want to relive them in prose, but I assume everyone else is pretty tired as well. Oh, right, and work. Which . . . is probably best left alone. I can be concise (for once) and say that I do not love my job right now. I can be accurate and say I loathe it, and dread most work days because of whatever the fuck else is possibly going to happen. I dream of winning the lottery, or some windfall in the division that allows us to hire new people so someone could take one of my departments. My boss is great though, encouraging and kind and very sensitive to the difficulties (work and pregnancy) and the restrictions I'm facing, which is great. So, onwards. I guess. Not like there is any other option, anyway.

So yes, things are ok. Thanksgiving was nice, but it was nerve-wracking as well. So much talk about baby and buying of baby things and no doppler (only movement) to reassure and there were some scary times. But all is well. Really, apart from the crippling anxiety and the cerclage and high-risk monitoring, it's been a remarkably easy/textbook sort of pregnancy so far. I mean, I still have a lot of food issues and I'm only now over a week without vomiting, but overall things are ok. No crazy bleeding, no reasonably scary weirdness - just aches and pains and the crippling terror that necessarily attends this fiasco.

DH chooses to be positive, and I've started tentatively talking about what life will be like with baby. It feels a bit like a game, like our lottery game (how will we spend the money? what trips will we take? how many bedrooms in our new house? etc), as I ask whether we'll do arts and crafts with baby, whether we'll take baby to the zoo, whether or not we should register for two car seats or one. It's fun, but there is nothing in it but idle chatter, and a bit of hope or longing. I still cannot wholly shake the countdown in my head that has observed less than four weeks before the point at which Gabriel was born. It feels portentious, heavy on me. I can talk about April, but not with the fervent tones of a believer. More like one who makes plans for Rapture Day (If I'm still here, I suppose I'd be free for dinner. But you know there's a chance I won't be here, right? I'm not like the rest of you people). I think I honestly fear stillbirth more than anything. It's like - we've addressed the obvious problems and concerns (I start 17p this Friday, more on that in a moment), so those things are much less likely to go wrong. That only leaves things outside my control. More than once while at my mom's, I stopped, took a deep breath and reminded myself that this baby seems to be developmentally on track, as Gabriel was, and that given that history, I'm back to the 1-2% chance of things not going well, which are decent odds, altogether. Wish I believed it.

Occasionally, I get a bit lightheaded or dizzy, but I can generally link it back to too much time on my feet or not eating recently enough. I'm trying, but I struggle at work to eat regularly (let alone healthfully) and it's a habit I need to break. I didn't have nearly enough today, but I'm full from the soup I ate, and it's hard to make myself eat more now.

The restrictions are ok at times, necessary at other times, and well, restrictive, at still other times. It's hard because of course, I want to do whatever I can, but I am so invalided and when I feel strong or capable of walking or standing or bending or lifting, I want to do it. There are times it's nice to tease DH about what I can't do, but ultimately, it's terribly humbling to have to ask for assistance with things that should be easy, or to sit down after being on my feet for ten minutes, or to be completely winded at the top of my stairs, because I am losing what teeny bit of fitness I had. . .

But whatever it takes, I guess, and it's not so bad. I try to see it less as restrictive and more as a proactive approach to keeping me off bedrest. I'll let you know when that start working.

Friday is the first detailed anatomy/anomaly scan. It's a bit early at 17 and a half weeks, but that's standard for my perinatologist, apparently (he did schedule it quite specifically). So far I'm not anxious, but I expect I will be later. I feel a bit more strongly (today) that baby is healthy. So far, so good anyhow. My NT test results were fantastic, so I'm hoping for further confirmation things look ok. Also curious to see what the infamous Jack or Jill gender determination test has to say - rather, whether it is correct in its prediction or no. The actual sex doesn't matter. There are reasons I want both sexes and reasons I don't want either sex. But I want to know, to have some more time to spend knowing who this LO is, I guess. Those few days with Gabriel were wonderful - magical. I guess I want a bit of that again, but I'm not yet holding my breath for it all.

Days flow into each other, into nights, and I sleep, often fitfully. I awaken between three and four and have to pee and then run over the list (of all the things left undone and all the ways I suck at my job) until my mind wrests itself away from the negative feelings and I sleep again. Mornings are never long enough, sadness. I love the weekends, when I can sleep in. I dread the weekends when they draw to a close, and I have to go back to work again. I worry over the status of my vaginal discharge, perpetually wondering what watery means. I catch myself holding one-sided conversations in my head with baby, and I smile sometimes.

I rub my hands over my bump, knowing it's not really baby so much as everything baby has pushed aside as my uterus swells (it's nearly up to my belly button), but I rub all the same, perhaps hoping for some luck from the buddha, vaguely guessing I've got it mixed up somehow, but for a moment content all the same. These moments are fewer than I might like, but they do exist. Just in case though, I think I'll start reading aloud soon. I never got to read to Gabriel about what happened to that unfortunate storm cloud that flew near the honeybees. I'd like to imagine him there, listening to me read to his little sibling, approving of the story; flight of fancy or spirit of my son matters not in the imagining - as is true of all great stories, I think.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sewn up like the Bayeux Tapestry, to quote my friend T

NT Scan yesterday:

Went well. Nasal bone very prominently and clearly present (looks like this little heffalump* was not as lucky as his/her brother in that department and may have inherited DH's family's more, erm, prominent nose). Nuchal fold measured at 1.6 each time. Brain, heart, stomach all present, no apparent gross open neural tube defects. I left feeling vastly relieved. This kiddo is very obliging, and was in perfect position and holding still for the initial and most important measurements, and then started dancing around for us. Also, hiccuping (interfered with the heart rate, because it would lurch with the hiccups. Cute.).

Actual results will be available in about a week, but given the clear u/s I'm not concerned and was in fact comfortable with proceeding with the cerclage. The tech did not give an official guess because she couldn't at this early stage, and I had the Jack and Jill fetal DNA test done, which would tell us, so . . . (sidenote, the test is offered for free as a courtesy to my OB's patients because she refers all her patients to this place, otherwise we would have declined). However, she did say aloud that she would lean towards a particular sex. Interested to see what comes back on the DNA test and of course on future u/s. We do think we will keep it to ourselves, though.


No eating after midnight, so I had a glass of milk at 11 and went to bed. Woke up about midnight with terrible diarrhea, but glad that was out of the way yesterday. Never did sleep well again, knowing I'd be up in about 4 hours.

Got up at 4:45 to take a shower. Then got dressed and was ready by 5:15. The cab was picking us up at 5:30, and I needed to be at the surgical center at 6:00. Timing worked out well. I got there about ten til. Too bad it didn't open until 6:00 on the nose - the mosquitos are awful right now.

I was scheduled second of the first five, so I completed my paperwork and paid relatively quickly and was back in prep by 6:30. Got changed, into bed and then they had anesthesia come talk to me (haha, jokes on me, it was under general in the end). The anesthesiologist was quick to reassure me that the drug they used has been used in pregnant patients for over 25 years and was safe for me and baby. That was honestly the first time it had ever crossed my mind to wonder about that. Mom fail?

The anesthetist had a very difficult time placing the IV. Three tries in the end and my left hand, wrist and arm are purple. Turns out they do better when they don't use a tourniquet. Go figure. I was told that I would not be sedated before being wheeled down because the sedation they normally use wasn't safe. Ok, shrug. They did an u/s to check position of the heffalump and I watched him/her roll around and stretch several times. That kiddo is just always, always active. And then DH was brought back and then Dr. K showed up and checked the u/s again (but oddly, I wasn't laying back, so he had trouble and his CRL measurement was a full week back of the first one today and the measurements yesterday . . . heh).

Then DH took my ring and my glasses and they wheeled me down and moved me onto the table and had me taking deep breaths of oxygen, and then they had me taking deep breaths of oxygen only my throat was very, very sore and I was coughing some and I couldn't open my eyes and then they said "Can't find it, um, should I get someone?" Followed by "Oh, sorry, no it's right there. Fetal heart tones look great via u/s." And then I tried to open my eyes and they said I was all done and did I want some juice? And my husband would join me soon.

I got some juice, and my throat hurt a lot. And there was a lot of pressure and I could feel the stitch which was weird. DH arrived and I was pretty in and out of it for awhile. I know I asked him a couple of times about what the doctor told him. My b/p was sort of high, though again at home, it's been ok. It was decreasing by the time I left. Got dressed and called the cab and then we came home.

I went to the bathroom. Mild spotting, nothing big, some cramping, but like light menstrual cramps, nothing scary. Again I could feel the stitch when I went to the bathroom, though now it's not really a big deal. I stretched out on the couch and have taken a few naps. Not the most comfy ever, but not terrible. I'm still feeling lazy and sloth-like. Some cramping that Tylenol has taken care of, spotting seems to be nearly gone.

We tried to get a doppler reading, but the kiddo was moving way to much. We'd catch it then whoosh- moved. If it's moving that much, I think we're good.

So yeah. It's going to be ok, maybe. For the first time I'm thinking there is a possibility of this working out. Never thought I would actually get this far. But here we are - second tri and sewn up tight.

The restrictions - which I've known about for a long time - are a little daunting, but they will become second nature I'm sure. Going to be a long few weeks, but I'm hopeful, I think. Just taking it easy right now - I am not looking at anything work related, just chilling on the couch. All. Weekend. Long.

*heffalump came after the NT scan when one of said jokingly, 'we've got a heffalump that jumps in there.' it's been sticking.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Deep breaths, deep breaths.

Inhale slowly through the nose, exhale slowly through the mouth. Oooooooooooo. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I've been repeating that a lot the last couple of days.

Last night, I woke up and was convinced that there was something in my vagina. It felt a lot like when I would pass a clot, actually. Only, there was no clot. Or anything, though I cried for about twenty minutes. I was finally distracted by horrible, horrible vomiting (to little effect, as I hadn't eaten in hours). I eventually realized that if my water hadn't broken with that vomiting, I was probably fine and tried to ignore the cramping and fell into an uneasy sleep.

This morning was better. But I'm scrambling to get everything done at work that needs to be done before the surgery. I feel constantly behind. The sole consolation is that I felt the same last year so maybe there is hope yet.

I got a call from the surgical center today, and when I gave them my height/weight suddenly they said I was too heavy to have the cerclage placed there. They said the anesthesiologist was uncomfortable giving me anesthesia because they'd have a harder time intubating me at my size, and I should be in hospital. Given that no intubation is required (the anesthesia is a spinal), I was really confused, and then really upset. The nurse at the peri's office straightened it all out though and we are back on for Thursday morning.

I am scheduled for the NT scan tomorrow and getting the first panicky twinges about it. I have no reason to think anything is wrong - baby's hit the milestones and had good heart-tones, movement, etc. Nevertheless - test. Big one. With results coming a week after they stitch me up. Nerve-wracking. Lip biting. Scary. I'm hopeful we see all the markers we are looking for, so I'm reassured. With Gabriel I remember being very concerned about anencephaly, and the presence of a brain was enormously reassuring. Let's keep our fingers crossed that all is equally well with this one.

At least I am not worried about it being dead when we arrive tomorrow - we had a great session with the doppler tonight. It's been very hit or miss, and I limit attempts to no more than every other day and usually stop once we get a heartbeat. Tonight though, it was as clear as it's ever been and the parasite (who clearly dislikes the doppler as much as its older brother did) obligingly stayed in relatively the same area, so we got great sounds. Good enough to make us stop and just listen for awhile. There was a flash of excitement and pride, a breakthrough from the usual detachment I have with this pregnancy.

Which is not to say that it's gone - far from it. The question of Gabriel's sex was a looming one throughout his pregnancy. Of course, I was convinced he was a girl, and quite afraid of having a boy and what on earth I would do. I was legitimately concerned about gender disappointment, having always wanted a girl first, but it didn't matter in the end. I loved him, and was so excited when it was finally official that he was male. I'm curious this time, but there is nothing like the fervor of last time. No long conversations or guesses or musings. Of course, nearly everyone thinks this parasite is a girl, and I sway back and forth. In many ways that would be easier, and bittersweet in others. But then I doubt that it will be any other way when the constant comparison is to my poor lost little boy. Having a baby - should we be so lucky - won't answer the questions we've always had about what our son would have been like and what raising him would be. If anything, they'll become more defined, more crystallized as we see more clearly what we've missed and the foggy dream images take shape into a living reality.

Detachment is the only way for me to cope. Yes, I know if we have another loss I will feel guilty about it. But I have to balance that against surviving each day and the only way for me is for the excitement and hope and joy to be compartmentalized and allowed out only in careful doses. So tonight, it was sweet to listen for a few moments, to send a thought to the baby thanking it for its cooperation, and simply have a normal moment of pregnancy and bonding.

A deep breath in the midst of the panic that seems to supersede the majority of the time, if you will.

I will post sometime after the cerclage is placed, if things have gone well. If you'd keep your fingers crossed or think good thoughts or whatever you send into the universe on Thursday, we would surely appreciate it.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Whoa there, buddy, let's just slow this down a bit here, yeah?

OMG, two posts within a week?! Did the Rapture happen after all? No. Just updating.

I had another appointment with the regular OB on Monday. To be 100% honest, I was pretty well wrecked going into it. One of the women on the birth month board I've been visiting was a day or two behind me and we both had appointments on Oct 7, both had healthy babies with healthy heart beats, and then suddenly she went back and it was a missed miscarriage. Scared the fuck out of me.

And also, Monday was a huge deadline for a funding request and it's the first one I've done for this special funding that makes up, oh, a quarter of that department's budget and after working on it the previous week and then for 8 solid hours on Sunday, I was still not done and a little panicky.

So when they called me back and we didn't start with the u/s that I was supposed to be getting, I started getting very anxious. Apparently, my blood pressure was through the roof, despite being perfectly normal at every other appointment. The nurse was concerned, and asked if I was stressed out, to which I responded with a terse YES. She said we could try to find the h/b with the doppler and then she'd take it again.

Yeah, she couldn't find the h/b with the doppler. She was definitely not taking the blood pressure again at that point. Now, logically, I know that it was 11 weeks exactly, that it was still early, that it isn't automatically bad news, but I was already so freaked out that there was no way to separate the terror and nod sagely about logic. They wheeled in the old portable u/s machine, which was great, but they insist the doctor do the u/s in case there is bad news. I had to wait, naked from the waist down, staring at the u/s machine (which looked a lot like movie robots from the 80's) for fifteen or twenty minutes, during which I nearly completely lost it and started crying.

Dr. B was calm and reassuring as ever, but I was such a wreck that it didn't matter. She slid the probe in and immediately said, "Oh, see, baby's just fine, dancing away, saying nothing to worry about here Mom." and she turned the monitor so I could watch while she quickly checked the cervical length, heartbeat and placenta. Everything looked fine, and I was (and am) relieved that they immediately did the u/s for reassurance, but that's why I am supposed to have an u/s at every visit to begin with, scheduling person who fucked that up.

Then I learned that Dr. B doesn't actually do cerclage, so the list of questions I had prepared and the dates/schedule I thought I was getting? Nope - had to call the peri back to get it scheduled, which made me sullen and teenagery inside because I want an adult to arrange things for me, damn it.

I am to monitor my blood pressure twice a day (er, not been great about that just yet) and keep a log to take back. So far, it's been low. Go figure. I need to make certain the monitor is calibrated correctly, but it is returning normal figures for DH, so I sort of think it is working ok. I also got referrals to several psychiatrists and need to find one who takes my insurance, because the point at which my blood pressure is rising precipitously like that is the point at which I say I need some fucking anti-anxiety medication, please. Dr. B was quick to get me her referral list, I might add, after I said calmly that I desperately needed help with this. She also gave me a referral to the genetic center she sends patients to for the first tri screen (also known at NT scan), and that is scheduled for next Wednesday morning.

I don't see Dr. B again for nearly a month, but that may have to move up, depending on how things with the cerclage and whether or not I will have a follow-up with the peri.

Ohbytheyway, that (the cerclage) is currently scheduled for next Thursday. They'd have done it sooner, but I said I wanted the NT scan done first. Um. When the nurse called me back today to tell me it had to be next week, I nearly flipped out. I made sure that they know I'll be 12 weeks and change next week and she very impatiently clucked and said yes, yes, she's aware, next week.

I was not prepared for next week. I thought closer to 14 weeks. Certainly sometime after 13 weeks. Like, maybe after the official end of first tri? Also, I wasn't preparing work for next fucking week and OMG, what?

So yeah, Thursday, early in the morning. Wow. It's good. Really. Things are going well (provided the NT scan doesn't identify a hideous anomaly, but we don't have much reason to expect that given what we've seen so far), and the sooner the better, especially given the 'short presentation' of my cervix in the vaginal canal. It took me all day to figure out why I was so surprised and why I felt so steam rolled by this all happening so fast (beyond the work implications). I mean, I've known for 2 years that I would likely have a cerclage, and I learned 2 weeks ago that I definitely would. I know it would be placed before 15 weeks. So . . . what is the issue?

I finally pinpointed it and explained to Dh on the drive home thusly:

"It's like, whoa, there. This is all moving a bit fast, don't you think? It's like we've just met. And we're already getting intimate. But more than that, it's sort of . . . permanent. I mean, obviously not permanent, because it's going to be removed eventually. But it's a pretty big step to take, when I have no idea how this pregnancy is going to go. Which I realize is completely stupid, because the whole point of the cerclage is to help the pregnancy go as far as possible. But it feels like an awfully big commitment, and I don't feel ready to make that commitment. I feel like holding my hands up and telling him to stop thinking about my vagina and maybe back off and see where this thing is going first, you know?"

That's right folks. I'm concerned that the thing designed to prolong my pregnancy is being put in too soon because I'm not convinced I'll still be pregnant in a month. That repetitive sound is the sensible portion of me bashing itself against the wall created by the lunatic portion of me to keep the sensible one out.

Can't talk about work with a fuckload of profanity and foaming at the mouth, but am reminding myself that I was pretty much at the same place a year ago, and we all (me and the departments) survived, so it'll probably work itself out again this time too.

And lastly - in case it's not been made clear - I am half in love with Noel Gallagher, and fully in love with his music. I was crushed when I realized that even though Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds was released on 10-17 in the UK, that it's not available here until fucking November 8. Because I love The Death of You and Me in a wholly unhealthy way, and because If I Had A Gun has jumped onto my top 10 all time favorites list. Seriously, it's one of the most romantic, haunting songs I've ever heard. I got chills when I first listened to it, and still get chills. If you are big into Jesus you may not like chorus line "you're the only god that I will ever need" but if that won't upset you like it upset my intern at work (who audibly thanked the holy father for protecting her ears when I turned it off; I didn't think it was even loud enough for her to overhear), then dear god go listen to it on youtube. Fucking amazing.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day

Remembering all the beautiful babies that have been lost far too soon, and all the grieving parents wishing they could hold them again. I hold you all in my heart and in my thoughts today.

This is something I've read and re-read lately, because since I got pregnant again, Gabriel has been more firmly on my mind. Reliving his pregnancy, reliving his birth, trying to remember the beautiful moments and not just the scary ones. Now that more people are learning of my pregnancy, people who don't know about Gabriel or understand the dangerous path I'm walking right now, I find myself reading this again and nodding along.

It is of course from my dear Elizabeth McCracken and her memoir An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination and if you have never read it - do. A brilliant writer who carries you into her world of loss and grief in a beautiful, honest, funny way. She captured so brilliantly the things I wanted to explain to other people, and I will never forget buying it about two years ago and opening it while I waited for my to-go order and standing in that line simultaneously laughing and crying out loud because this was a kindred soul.

How she speaks of loss and her Pudding here, this is how I feel about Gabriel today:

"I want it, too, the impossible lighter-side book. I will always be a woman whose first child died, and I won't give up either that grievance or the bad jokes of everyday life. I will hold on to both forever. I want a book that acknowledges that life goes on but that death goes on, too, that a person who is dead is a long, long story. You move on from it, but the death will never disappear from view. Your friends may say, Time heals all wounds. No, it doesn't, but eventually you'll feel better. You'll be yourself again. Your child will still be dead. The frivolous parts of your personality, stubborner than you'd imagined, will grow up through the cracks in your soul. The sad lady at the Florida library meant: the lighter side is not that your child has died -- no lighter side to that -- but that the child lived and died in this human realm, with its breathtaking sadness and dumb punch lines and hungry seagulls. That was the good news. She wasn't going to pretend that he hadn't, no matter how the mention of him made people shift and look away.

A stillborn child is really only ever his death. He didn't live: that's how he's defined. Once he fades from memory, there's little evidence at all, nothing that could turn up, for instance, at a French flea market , or be handed down through family. Eventually we are all only our artifacts. I am writing this before our first child turns into the set of footprints the French midwives made for us at the hospital . . .

. . . I don't want those footprints framed on the wall, but I don't want to hide them beneath the false bottom of a trunk. I don't want to wear my heart on my sleeve or put it away in cold storage. I don't want to fetishize, I don't want to repress, I want his death to be what it is: a fact. Something that people know without me having to explain it. I don't feel the need to tell my story to everyone, but when people ask, Is this your first child? I can't bear any of the possible answers.

I am am not ready for my first child to fade into history."

Love to all of you mothers and all of your children, present with you or not.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Back with another update

The short version so you can skip the rest of the shit if you like:

Still pregnant with a viable fetus. Saw the perinatologist Dr. K on Friday and my little parasite (the most affectionate name we've come up with) was measuring ahead a bit with a good steady heartrate and good placement. My cervix measured 3 cm, but on manual exam showed a 'short presentation' - based on this and on my history, Dr. K has agreed completely with Dr. B's assessment and I will have a cerclage placed in 3-4 weeks and start 17p shots weekly at 16w. He said that of course there are no guarantees, which I know, but that he felt pleased and thinks I have a good shot at this.

And now the rest of the crap:

I honestly meant to write more between visits. But I found that every time I opened it up and stared at the blank white box, the fear would rise up again and I quietly closed it and went on my way. Or I'd come here and pour out a very long piece which was either a long rant about work and how buried and unhappy I am (which, once redacted to remove identifying details is confused in the extreme) or a long rambling on how convinced I am that the pregnancy is over or will be soon and god, I am tired of thinking it, how boring to read such things over and over and over.

In truth, I'm coping. Probably not very well, and dear lord do I stare longingly at that gorgeous unopened bottle of Mt. Gay Eclipse, but for the most part (long panicky and repetitive emails and chats with my dear T aside, who patiently listens and soothes though she's probably ready to do herself in to get it to stop already), I plod through each day.

Now that I'm nearly 10 weeks (and oh, yes, after measuring ahead, I went back and changed all my tickers back to where they were before the last u/s because I like Monday ticker-change better than Wednesday, because it's two days ahead my precious), and we've seen a good heartbeat, the risks have dropped to under 3%. We've also heard the heartbeat on the home doppler, which may drop us down to 2%. Not that I'm holding my breath over statistics - they've never been kind in the past. It's more like, ok. Maybe the tension can unwind a click now.

The hardest part was the in-between of the u/s. Just around 7 weeks and not another until 9.5, because of scheduling (and yes, I know how 'lucky' I am to get all this monitoring, I've been told on my birth month board, to which I snapped back that I'd much rather have a healthy normal pregnancy and forgo all the extra u/s ...). That particular time was difficult because it was too early to use the doppler (who am I kidding, we started trying at the end of 8 weeks/beginning of 9), far too early to feel movement, my uterus is still pretty far down in my pelvis (I can find it easily now though!) and the prime time for missed miscarriages. Symptoms are changing as well, as we approach the end of first tri, as the placenta moves towards taking over hormone production, etc.

I went from constant boob soreness to mild achiness in the evening. I went from all-day nausea and food aversions to hunger, interest in certain foods (I can eat tomatoes! and onions! and pickles!), and only some really bad near-vomiting after eating and in the evenings. Fatigue - well, hell, I'm so stressed out that ones particularly hard, and frequent urination? I have been drinking water like I'm a camel embarking on a desert journey, so who can say? Take all of that, through in paranoia, and some cramping, and a massive dose of stressed-out crazy and you get, well, me. It was difficult to function. All my free thoughts pulled together to say AFRAID AFRAID AFRAID AFRAID. I had horrible nightmares about the pregnancy ending in gruesome ways, about my family members dying or murdering others, and finally the past week saw me awake every night between 3 and 4, and be unable to return to sleep because of the things running through my head.

And let's not forget that work is a godawful disaster right now that brings its own high stress levels. I can't even get into all of it, but there is no sense that things are getting better or that that will ever get better (though that is a bit dramatic, really). No light at the end of that tunnel, really. I told a couple of people that I thought I would be coping better overall if I only had work to deal with or if I only had the pregnancy to deal with. The combination, instead of distracting me from the pregnancy or increasing my focus at work, has left me one big mess of a person who feels like she is failing at every thing she touches.

The anxiety levels are through the roof, in other words.

Things will get easier though. I hope. At least now, we're into fetus-hood. We're into the point where the doppler is working (and oh, obliging baby, how grateful I am that you are so kind - placed right at the top of the uterus, my parasite moves right near the probe and obligingly swims back and forth at that spot - no real searching or following, not like with Gabe. The technobeat freight train fades in and out and we let out a breath we'd been holding and there it is). We have a plan in place for my treatment. The pregnancy has been so different from Gabriel's - no bleeding, no worries, no scares except in my head. The baby will get bigger, the heartbeat easier to hear and measure. The trimester will end, and a cerclage will be placed. The monitoring every other week will continue, movement will start. As each of these things happens, another click of unwinding, of ability to move or to breathe. Not relax - ever relax? I doubt it. But easier, I hope.

I am able to do a little more - my family has been told now. I think we'd have liked to wait to make any announcements until after the cerclage (that certainly is the general plan for the rest of work or Jason's family, make sure that goes without disaster), but alas, my brother's wedding the week after placement makes it difficult, as everyone else is going and we are not. Everyone seems excited and hopeful though and my brother was really nice about the announcement. I bought canvas to make letters for the name for this one - Oliver or Vivienne (I'm starting with Vivienne, as nearly everyone believes it to be a girl). Cream letters, with sage green trim for Oliver or mauve trim for Vivienne. The colors were so clear. I didn't shake like a leaf this time. I had a few moments of doubt, but not the paralyzing fear of even a week before.

This is as positive as I can be, I fear. I feel an uncomfortable duty to pretend to happiness and delight, to be grateful for the symptoms that were dragging me down, and I can't do it. I feel terribly for those who would love to be in my position, but I can't manufacture emotion. Abstractly, I am happy, and hopeful. Emotionally, I am numb and want it to stay that way. The fear is hard enough when I am numb. Attached and hopeful and stupid? I don't think I could get out of bed again. So we go about every day, breathing in and out, trying to do one day at a time. Some days it works better than others. That, really, is the essence of life, I guess.

Oh, and as an odd post-script? At nearly 10 weeks pregnant, for a lark, I took one of the internet cheapie tests that are still laying around here (can't pass them off on anyone, not just quite yet, not really) - these tests that were the bane of my ttc existence with their faint lines and squinting, that gave me the first unbelievable positive at 9 dpo? 10 weeks pregnant, and the test line is still not darker than the control line. Wow.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Oh, hi!

Important stuff:

1) Mom's surgery went well. She's been recovering nicely, and the pathology report came back clean, so she doesn't need any chemo follow-up. Her doctors did a great job and her remaining vocal function was preserved. I was glad to be there taking care of her for a few days, but it does make me wish we lived closer together (or that DH and I lived back home).

2) My appointment on Tuesday was good. Monday night was difficult. There was a lot of fear and a lot of preparation for bad news, because I just wasn't convinced that this pregnancy could be viable.

DH was not able to be there for the u/s, because of timing issues, which was nerve-wracking. They were running on time though, and had me back quickly, and within three minutes of entering the room, I was getting intimate with the dildo cam. Right away, an image popped up, but I didn't have a great angle on it. The tech pointed out a blob, and then began pointing out the yolk sac and I couldn't take it and blurted out, "But is there a heartbeat?" and she laughed and pointed it out.

It was cool because with Gabriel, it was a pole or grain of rice with a flashing pixel. The extra week made a real difference because this time it was a blob and I could see the heart expanding and contracting as it beat. Very neat. Measured 6w6d - or spot on for fertilityfriend's chosen ovulation date. That meant that as with Gabe, my hcg levels were really high. No twins, thank god. The heartrate was 134 bpm, which is fantastic for about 7 weeks. It appeared the placement was good.

The relief was overwhelming. And I'm still more relaxed than I was a week ago. Knowing that the horrible, horrible nausea and fatigue and every other physical thing isn't completely in vain makes it a bit more bearable.

But for all of that, I still refer to the pregnancy rather than the baby, still feel detached (and would be happier if I could just ignore it for awhile), and am just feeling grimly that I want to get on with things. Oh, there are moments of excitement and I find myself too easily slipping into thinking about the future as if it might come to be. I can talk about baby names or returning to work, but I shook like a leaf after telling my brother we aren't attending his wedding, because I am pregnant and am likely to have the cerclage the placed about that time. It seemed too much like calling attention to the pregnancy and that's what I want to avoid at all times. There is a primal inner urge to keep my head down and not to draw attention to us and that may be the only way to sneak this through.

I simply cannot forget how it ended last time we got this far. I can still feel as clearly as when it happened how it felt to finally let my guard down with Gabriel and fall in love completely with him. And I still can't quite forget the sense of betrayal I felt when it was snatched away just four days later. Of course I can't escape it. Every day is a comparison, and Gabriel seems to be more firmly present in my mind than he has been in awhile.

But yet again, for all the fear, there is a peace somewhere. No idea how long it might last, but there is a certain pull that is difficult to explain. I would not dare to say I feel optimistic, but the fear is more conscious than deep-seated in my soul. I am not sure if that makes sense. With Chickadee, there was simply a disquiet deep within that I kept trying to overcome with logic - I had symptoms and no spotting, things were probably fine! But I couldn't shake it. Despite everything going wrong that did with Gabe's pregnancy, I continued to try to be optimistic because he was well. But there again, a disquiet in my soul that I tried to talk over. So far, this is the reverse. There is not yet a soul-dread, but there is plenty of logical fear and I talk myself into negatives as if that might protect me. I feel like I need to avoid comfort or settled in or smug, but it's so I'm not tempting fates, not entirely because of a deeply rooted terror.

For now, anyway.

This after-life is complicated. Well, so it is and always has been. I should be used to living as a walking contradiction, but it never has gotten easier to figure out.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


One of the things I remembered clearly about my pregnancy with Gabriel was how miserable it was. There were moments of joy - I can remember the occasions when we listened to his heartbeat in a reassuring rhythmic lub-dub, and chasing him with the doppler, and feeling him move inside me.

But for the first twelve weeks, I was in complete misery. Overwhelmed by fear, and terribly sick. I can remember how difficult it was to find things to eat that would stay down, I can remember individual vomiting sessions. I remember at least two weeks in which I subsisted on Easy Mac, v8 fusion and smoothies. I can remember that it was dreadful. I can remember how much worse it got when constipation struck, and how incapacitated I was when the bleeding episodes hit. Further on, I can clearly remember the clutch of terror at the feeling of a clot sliding out of me in a gush of warm, red blood.

But the visceral feeling? How it felt to be so ill? What that vomiting felt like. How miserable it was to have nothing I could eat that would not come up again. How sore and aching my muscles would be, how charming the pinpoint hemorrhaging around my eyes was.

I've been very forcibly reminded of these things.

Very little is staying down - Gatorade, very cold Sprite, water are going down and mostly staying down. Food eaten after 7 seems to have a better chance than anything before that, save crackers. I'm quickly remembering survival techniques like eating bland foods, remembering that protein helps, but carbs like mashed potatoes and noodles stay down more easily. Chicken broth is a god-send.

Vomiting doesn't make me feel better, mostly, but is sometimes unavoidable. I don't like feeling like this at all. I should be grateful for the symptoms, but not only was I unable to go into work this weekend, I have no idea how I'll make it tomorrow. The balance of work and this illness is terrifying to me when I need to prove myself and feel so utterly behind and so physically incapable.

Of course, I also have to cynically wonder how large a role the progesterone is playing in this sudden downward spiral into worse than morning sickness. I mean to say that before I had this prescription, I'd experienced inreasingly frequent and strong bouts of nausea. I'd gagged over brushing my teeth a couple of times and I certainly threw up my prenatal quite unexpectedly and violently Tuesday morning. But this all day paralysis of near-vomiting and the degree to which I vomit when it does happen didn't really hit until yesterday, which followed 2 doses of progesterone. Taking it vaginally is supposed to reduce side-effects, because it bypasses metabolization in the liver. I'm not convinced it is poisoning me, to be honest.

I do think this will be a little easier if this pregnancy is viable. The uncertainty right now makes coping with this much more difficult.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Saw my regular OB yesterday

Ok, let me say this first. I've been wondering in the last couple of weeks why I was still trying to work with Dr. B's office. It was frustrating, felt obstructionist, and the bureaucracy was killing me. Admittedly, I didn't go back for awhile; but the last thing I'd been told was not "You need to come in every year to maintain current patient status, so whatever happens, we'll see you in November!" It was "Call when you get a positive pregnancy test so we can start running labs." I don't blame them for wanting to keep their patients current, given that it is a busy practice and given that it gives them the opportunity to work on helping their patients stay healthy. But the fact that there was no recourse for me was beyond frustrating.

However, the moment she stepped into the exam room, I remembered why I wanted to work with Dr. B. She's awesome. She gets it. In fact, this is how that went down:

Dr B walks in and asked, "Ok, so how are you doing?"

"Um, terrified? That's a good word for it," I responded.

She plopped down on the wheelie stool and said, "Well of course you are! But you're going to be fine." She immediately proceeded to say that she's looked over my labwork and thought the numbers looked fantastic, and that she's not too concerned about the progesterone because the hcg looks so good. Of course, she is giving me a prescription for progesterone suppositories, so if there is a problem, those will take care of it.

Relief, blissful relief. (btw, what I think she meant about not being concerned was not that progesterone was fine, but that the pregnancy seemed otherwise viable at this point. There was nothing concerning in the hcg that suggested progesterone would merely delay a spontaneous miscarriage.)

The rest of the visit was equally reassuring. She talked to me like I was an intelligent woman who knew what she was talking about; at no time was she condescending or patronizing. There was no discussion about my weight (which, thank you. I know I'm morbidly obese, but there isn't much to do about it now, is there? Thank you for treating me, and not scolding me about my size!). She discussed needing to find a high risk doctor to do concurrent care with, and I told her I already have an appointment with Dr. K and she was pleased. She said she'd get my records over to him before then. We talked about a scan (scheduled for 9/20) - she didn't want to try yesterday because of the likelihood we would not see a heartbeat and how worrisome that would be for me. She talked about the likelihood of a prophylactic cerclage and said I should probably prepare myself for some bedrest or at least modified work schedule.

She was just . . . perfect. Understanding, reassuring without being overly positive, talked with me as if I am a partner in this endeavor. Exactly what I needed. It was a relief. When I was wrapping up with the appointment lady, she walked by and gave me a big squeeze and that summed it up. I get the sense that she cares about me and understands why I'm a wreck right now. I wish her practice were less bureaucratic, but I can work with it now that I'm a re-established patient.

I got the prescription filled yesterday (which was it's own adventure as there was a big debate between the pharmacy and the doctor's office about whether or not the standard prometrium were ok to be used vaginally and then about whether I required capsules or tablets and it all ended with a sheepish call from the nurse explaining that capsules were actually just fine and sorry for all the confusion). First dose last night and at first I thought I was fine. Then I tried to go upstairs and I was extremely sleepy and very dizzy. I slept very, very well last night and woke up feeling groggy and a little out of it. Hey, whatever, as long as it works and gives this pregnancy a chance to succeed.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Good News/Bad News - Blood draw 3

Good news: Beta, drawn at 135 hours past previous between 20 and 22 dpo came in at 7273, which is a doubling rate of 34 hours.

Bad news: Progesterone has dropped from 11 (low end of normal) to 8.4 (below normal).

Verdict: I am officially freaking the fuck out.

I called my doc's office - she's back from vacation. Her office will still do nothing until I see her, but the nurse is squeezing me into the first appointment of the day at 8:30. Hopefully I can then get a progesterone supplement.

The question is whether or not it will be too late tomorrow morning for progesterone supplementation to work. Google produces a lot of anecdotal high-fives and success stories and a number of 'too late' stories when HCG was normal or better. The fact that hcg is increasing so well, and that I have no spotting or cramping is hopeful. The fact that pregnancy symptoms are disappearing is concerning.

I am, frankly, terrified. Everything but this has been so good. I don't know if this will work out. And I did everything I could to try and get a prescription for supplementation, to no avail. I feel like I'm going to cry, I'm so stressed out and worried and scared.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Update 5 - Not what we planned

Given everything with work, with how tired I am, with how much I need to focus on my health and really lose some weight, and given a promise I made my boss that I would not have a baby during a time that would have me out during the summer (for as far as I could prevent it), we decided after work started seriously discussing me taking over Dept 3 that it was time for the long break from trying to conceive we'd talked about.

After all, last year, when I had just taken over Dept 1, my cycles went insane from the stress and I only had one clear ovulation in the fall and a couple of weak ovulations in the winter. I felt like the best thing we could do was take a break. I planned to call my OB and schedule an annual appointment and discuss our options, get serious about dropping some of this weight, and continue paying down our debt - we've started to get serious about house renovations. And frankly, I could use a break from ttc, from the rollercoaster of emotions it produced, from the faint lines and the hope and the terror. I know that I'm not done with trying, but I was accepting that I was ready for a break. Dh was supportive. Of course, that all happened in the days after ovulation.

Are you getting a sense of where this is going?

Well, I'm not one to completely ruin the suspense.

Seven days past ovulation was Gabriel's birthday. I hadn't felt anything, really, not even sore breasts. Nothing was different that day. I did take one of the stupid online cheapie tests that continued to give us faint lines and that DH had asked me to throw away after last cycle. It was completely 100% clear - snow white in the test area, which was nice to see. I knew it wouldn't be positive, but at least the tests were capable of giving me clear negatives.

Eight and nine days past ovulation were relatively the same, save for testing. My mom was coming into town to visit for the weekend, so on a whim, at nine days past ovulation (last Friday), I took a test. I figured it would be negative, as I wasn't overwhelmed with pregnancy symptoms and we both felt pretty convinced that despite good timing, this wasn't likely to be our cycle. Please take a moment to imagine my utter shock when I looked down at the test about 3 minutes in and realized there was a faint but distinctly pink line on the test that already looked darker than the faint lines we'd had to that point. DH agreed that it looked like something. I was even able to get a picture of it, and my friend T agreed she could see it too. A second, and third test agreed that the first was not a fluke. There was a faint line.

Oh, shit.

The next morning, Saturday, was weird. We needed to get the place cleaned up for my mom, but well, we were preoccupied. The first thing in the morning, I peed in a cup and took out the last FR I had in the house. My hands were shaking, and I was convinced it would be negative, but I did it anyway. Within a minute, the line was there, but so what? I'd seen it before with these 'new and improved, more sensitive' FR. An evap line appears, but never turns pink, it's just the test strip becoming more visible. Only, before two minutes have expired, that line is pink. There is no doubt, no twisting and turning and squinting. Not as dark as the control line, but definitely a clear, pink line.

When DH came into the room, I handed him the test with a frown on my face. He took it with an air of long-suffering, and brought it up towards his face, expecting to do the usual stare-down, only to get it about half-way up, see the clear line and shout "FUCK!" and throw the test back at me in surprise. Then he stood there shaking his head and saying, "There is no mistaking that. That's a positive."

It was. In fact, the digital popped up 'Pregnant' in less than a minute and I collapsed into a fit of nervous giggles. The other few hundred tests I've taken have been equally positive, if not more so. Anecdotal though it may be, the tests have continued to get darker and darker, even the stupid internet cheapies are as dark as the control line a week later.

I'll spare you details of the past week, though it's been quite frustrating. A call to the OB's office revealed a patient policy I was unaware of; because I've not seen her in over a year, I have been reverted to 'new patient' status and they will not order labs, order prescriptions or give a referral until I see her. The problem? I need the beta series and the doctor is out of town. And no one else in the practice will see me because I'm not considered an 'established' patient. In the end, I had to go to a private clinic and pay exhorbitant amounts.

The betas came back well so far though, draw one was 188.24, draw two (exactly 48 hours later) was 475.69, which is a doubling time of 35.8 hours. The individual numbers are quite high for a singleton pregnancy at what I thought was 12 and 14 dpo, so there is that. There is a slim possibility ovulation was really two days before, in which case the numbers are above average, but less crazy high.

The big concern was the progesterone. I'd never had progesterone drawn before, and rather wish I'd not now because it's been difficult to stop worrying about it. It came back on the first draw at 11. The normal range is 9-47. So in the range, but on the low end. And everything I've ever heard is that it should be over 15. Oof. Scary. My doctor was out of the picture, so I begged and pleaded and favors were called in and there was drama, but I saw another doctor. I wanted a progesterone supplement.

He was very nice, but unintentionally condescending. He would not give me a prescription, insisting that it was in the normal range and in the absence of any spotting, I needed primarily to relax and let the pregnancy take its course. Sigh. There was one good thing. He's going to try to get me in with a sensitive, good perinatologist - one who's been recommended to me several times. If that comes through, it will have been worth the mortification of that visit.

Really, I'm still worried about it. I decided not to have it drawn with the second beta, and I delayed the third beta on the idea that I will have it drawn again. And since I'm on my own this weekend, and since it's a holiday, and since there is nothing I can do, I decided to wait until Monday to have it drawn. At least then my OB will be back in town and able to squeeze me in if possible and get me progesterone if needed.

Overall, I vacillate between fear and hope. Things have gone pretty well. I couldn't ask for better beta levels at this point. I have symptoms every day - fatigue, large and very tender breasts, queasiness and nausea that come and go, bloating. . . things seem to be as they should be. I passed the point my period should have arrived, and there has been no sign of spotting. The cramping that comes and goes occasionally is disconcerting, but not too worrisome. I try to remember what is normal, but honestly, I've no sense of it for myself. I know what the texts say, but believing it for myself is different.

I am currently going with the earlier possible ovulation date, because it makes more sense to me in terms of numbers, but also because I won't know much before the u/s, if we get that far. So at the moment, about 4w5d (or 4w3d by FF's calculations).

Crazy. Despite the fact that we intentionally had unprotected sex around ovulation time, we can't help feeling like this was unplanned. The timing is not what we would have chosen. And yet, there is so much hope right now. It feels good. You know, in between the moments of pure terror (like every time I go to the bathroom, because I'm afraid spotting will have started).

Honestly, I have been through just about everything at this point. I know I can handle whatever will happen. I know I'll live and be ok, whatever happens. What's killing me is the waiting to see what that is going to be. The uncertainty and lack of control is unsettling at best. But I suppose, really, that's life, isn't it?

Update 4 - Gabriel's Birthday

I honestly don't know what to say about this. Wednesday, the 24, was two years. I took the day off work, and it was good. I wrote out his birth story again, on Glow, and it was awful. I cried. And cried some more. And then I slept and that was largely that. DH and I went to dinner, and we didn't talk much about it until last weekend. Most of my emotion about it was spent two weeks before when I was more tense than can be imagined, when my temper was beyond frayed and my patience gone and I snapped at someone that if that goddamned department called me one more time I was going to strangle someone . . . and then from nowhere, I said aloud, "I miss him. I miss Gabriel. And I wish he was here." Ah, yes, I knew then.

It's something I felt oddly about. Most days, I feel at peace with it. Which is not to say I am ok with it or that I don't still feel all the things I felt two years ago - anger, sadness, terror, regret, guilt, love. I still miss him, who he would have been, who DH and I would have been, the life we would have had. I still see him out of the corner of my eye, and wish I could catch a fuller glimpse and drink in his features.

But I can't. And I think I've began to resolve that within myself. The things I felt two years ago are still there, but are more measured. They are a background noise, familiar and comfortable. I know that a fear I had early on that I was unable to articulate is that I would forget him. That I would cease to love him because he wasn't here to be loved, that he would become less important to me, and if he did, then he would cease to matter.

And something I've learned, two years later, is that the fear I felt then was unfounded. Gabe is my son, my darling little boy. How can I ever forget him? How could I ever stop loving him? I can't. And more than that - he won't be forgotten. He is remembered and equally loved by many people. Will that carry forward beyond our lives? Not with his name or mine, no, but then little will. The love that he inspired, the kindnesses that have happened in his memory, the acts of compassion, the children who were hugged a little tighter or loved a little more because their parents suddenly understood how fragile and tenuous it all is . . . those resonances are Gabriel's legacy. Those resonances will spread outwards further and further, reaching beyond our sight, beyond our lives, like water rings from a fallen stone. Who can predict that?

I have changed in two years, and so has DH. And I like to think we've changed for the better. Less judgmental, more compassionate, more aware of humanity and what it means. Kinder to each other, better sense of perspective, of awareness. I think, and this took me a long time to reconcile, that I like who I am now better than who I was. And I think that's ok. It's not that I don't want Gabriel back, in a heartbeat of course. But I do think that I understand he won't come back, not in that way. I won't hold him in my arms again, or finish the story I'd started to read to him. I can continue to commune with his spirit, to appreciate him as he is now. To be grateful for all that he has given me and taught me.

Do you know, Chris on Glow wrote a piece about a year ago (Simple), that said things so perfectly, so beautifully . . . he was two years out from losing his son Silas at that point in time. He wrote that missing Silas was something he did every day, that it was just a part of who he was at that point. I identified with that, with the need to laugh and enjoy life, with the perpendicular lines of reconciliation. With the small smile and admission, with the impenetrable nugget. . .

That is how it is. I think we would have liked to have done more, but we didn't know what to do. Gabe is so commonplace to us, but his death still so painful, that celebrating didn't feel quite right. We haven't hit on quite right yet, but we're getting there. Maybe next year I'll bake a cake.


I did want to note that I have some of the most wonderful friends in the world. They were checking on me that week, that day. A number of people emailed or checked in to let us know they were thinking of him, and of us - and I can't thank you enough for that. I need still to go back and thank you individually, and I hope to soon.

But my friends. Oh, my friends. They did some of the nicest things for Gabriel. There were balloon releases, with his name and birthday tied to the balloons. There were plants and flowers, his name feeding an orchid, his name with candles. And a wonderful story that filled my heart in a way that I can't quite explain. I'm repeating this entirely without permission, but I hope you don't mind T, because it was so wonderful it gave me goosebumps.

"We made him a paper boat, because two year old boys love paper boats,
and took it down to the creek so it could sail to the river and then
to the sea. The SS Gabriel had different ideas, however, and shot
straight across the current and towards the far shore where he was
lost from sight.

I think when you finally reach the far shore, you'll find him there
with sandy feet and a curling smile, wondering what took you so long
when he sped across so easily."

Somehow, I think she's right.

Update 3 - My mom

I found out last weekend that my mom is having her thyroid removed in the middle of September, because of an inconclusive biopsy.

She's been having voice problems; her voice has weakened and she constantly sounds like she's at the end of a bad cold - weak and raspy. She's been seeing a specialist, but it's been hard to pin down. More than just growing old, but nothing clear or obvious. So she's had numerous scans and things, and in an early CATscan, they found nodules on her thyroid. Now that, in itself, is not uncommon and they were not concerned at the time.

They thought they'd isolated the problem and treated it, but it apparently didn't have the success they hoped for, so in preparation for a different type of treatment, they repeated the scans and this time there was something concerning with these nodules. So it was time for a biopsy. That was inconclusive and they've decided that removal is the best option. The actual chance of cancer is low, but nevertheless . . . we want her to be safe and healthy.

So, that's happening. I'm taking time off work to go be with her. She was worried that I would be too overwhelmed when I got back. Clearly, I need to stop complaining about work, because fuck that. My mama's the important thing here. For three or four days, they should be able to deal.

Update 2 - the car accident

First and most important after a title like that, we are fine.

So, there was a light on in the car, related to the electronic stability control. We noted it, but the car seemed to be driving fine, so we decided to wait until September, when things were calmer at work (hahahahahaha) and we were planning to take it in for the 50,000 mile fluid flush/check up anyway.

You may have heard that Texas was experiencing record heats and excessive droughts. I'm used to droughts from New Braunfels. They exist over an aquifer and aquifer levels were always important during summer. And of course, the ability to tube the rivers is a big part of the city income, so I'm used to water restrictions of some kind, but all my time in Houston, this year was the first I could remember such things here.

The problem here in Houston is that the city isn't built for it. We've had a number of water main breaks, which, as you can imagine, isn't good.

In this case, a water main break, a right turn, and the electronic stability control being less than 100% functioning combined to cause the car to fishtail, overcorrect and I had absolutely no control of the car at all. It was one of the scariest moments of my life, particularly when the car did a full 360. We ended up on a curb-height median. It was maybe 10 seconds, but I truly thought for a moment that we were going to end up in on-coming traffic.

In the end, the damage was minor - the splash plate under the car that protects it from debris flying into the engine had to be replaced. There was a bad sensor in the right rear wheel well that caused the erratic reactions by the electronic stability control. That was covered by warranty and they cut us a deal on the rest because the accident was related to that. The part was no cost, we paid labor.

In the end, the rental car cost as much as the repairs. About $800 I didn't anticipate spending, but we are ok, and that is the important thing. I was a hysterical mess immediately after, and DH didn't quite understand why, since we were ok. Once I explained that I had had no control of the car at all, he was a lot more sympathetic. But I'll tell you something - never, ever again. This only clarifies why I will never live in or drive in a state with winter weather. Utterly terrifying.

Update 1 - Work.

Right. So, I never actually posted again. Oops? There's been quite a bit that has happened, so I'm going to break it down into a few posts.

Up first, work.

So, a big part of the reason I haven't posted is that because so much has been happening that I really couldn't (and can't) talk about. Partially because it requires so much backstory, partially because I know about some things I can't talk about, and partially because I've been so fucking exhausted that I didn't much feel like it.

Most of the summer saw me working late everyday and coming in at least once a weekend. My departments, special snowflakes that they are, are doing well. Mostly, I was helping out the division office. I used to work for the division office; I was the division office's department administrator. A year and a half ago it was decided that due to budget cuts, departments would no longer each have their own business administrator, and instead, some would be cut and the rest would be centralized and responsible for multiple departments.

Right, here's the thing. We have some small departments where there is no business or support staff apart from the administrator and some large departments that have (and require) several support and business staff. In other words, vastly different needs. It's a lot to try and piece together. As people left (retired, resigned), we did not replace them, but instead pulled those programs into a pilot program. A year ago, one of the biggest departments went vacant and I was given that department, but I didn't move out of the division offices, because we were centralizing business staff. In another shift, a department that is closely tied to mine was also given to me.

The departments I inherited were both in not good shape, financially or procedurally. I think we've come a long way in a year and we've gotten to a much better place. I've gotten one of my directors to understand budgeting and why it's so important, which is great. We're putting a realistic budget in place in my other department as well. And we do things mostly on time, people get paid on time, and we haven't asked for exceptions to policy, which is good.

However, because of the shifts the office I used to be administrator for, we went from having 4 staff members to 1.5 for months. It became a disaster. My supervisor was doing 3 jobs, including acting as the department administrator for a department that is in bad shape. It was awful. So I offered to help, again and again, and back in May, I started redoing parts of my old job and supporting my supervisor by assisting with paperwork in the department.

Lots of late nights and weekends. I felt it would pay off in the long run, as I was making my case to be one of the top tier of centralized administrators (the plan was to have groups of similar departments each supported by 2 administrators, one at a higher level, one at a lower level). And I liked my coworkers and wanted to help. It got tiresome, but I stuck with it.

Around the beginning of August, we finally got a new person to replace my supervisor's old position. He's great, he stepped in and is doing a fantastic job and is a delight to have in the office. Things were looking up, but it was becoming clear that the department in dire straits was even worse off than we realized because of a bad confluence of events - my supervisor doing three jobs, the office coordinator in the department being unreliable, and a bad budgetary situation. Then the coordinator left, leaving no receptionist and no one to do daily financial/HR documents or workflow.

And then my supervisor took a week's vacation. Here's the thing: our fiscal year runs from Sept 1 to Aug 31. We are still wrapping up fiscal year closeout. Taking a day or two is pushing it, depending on deadlines and a full week is unheard of. And the way in which she did it wasn't the most professional. So I offered/was asked to oversee them for that week. I did. It was awful. Hectic, frazzling, and they latched onto me because I actually responded to their questions and visited everyday to see what was needed (it's located right next to my departments, so I was out there anyway). It was hard. And then the dept asked if I could be their administrator. It was so awkward, because I knew that their situation wasn't working, but that's not my decision.

After a long series of talks with my boss, who was pissed at my supervisor, we decided that I would take it over, with additional help to clear the daily processes. My biggest role would be budget oversight, and spending that time necessary at the departments - meeting with people, meeting with the chairs, overseeing staff (hard to do from a different office) and making sure that bills are paid, people are paid, and monthly business processes are completed on time.

That was the plan for a week, but it was only announced on Monday. The new department is happy and I'm glad in one sense because I pushed for it. If I can turn them around, well, I am well placed in my job. And I have a background in this area, so I understand them more than other administrators have. At the same time, I did this already with two other departments and it's hard and takes months of time. A year later, we're doing better, but we're still not 100%. And now I'm doing it again, only, it isn't the only thing I do. I still have my other departments to see to as well. I essentially just doubled my workload.

And I'm not getting anything for it right now. I can't receive additional pay because no one else has received it for taking on a new department. I can and should be reclassed to a higher position . . . but I'm not eligible for another six months, because you can't be reclassified in a career ladder move until you've been in your new position for a full year. Since I was reclassed in March, I am not eligible until then - unless we finish the centralization process. Because in that case, there will be other avenues to pursue. It will happen. I know that.

But for now, I'm still behind from the week my supervisor was out, still have final clean-up to do, and overwhelmed by what lies ahead. So much of my time has been focused on meeting with people and walking back and forth between my office and my departments that I feel like I don't get anything done.

The old departments love me, and the new department is thrilled, and that is very gratifying. But it also feels like a lot of pressure. I think I can do it, but there are times I questions how well it will actually work. The funny thing is that we are setting up a small version of the groups we intend to have so at least we'll have a month or two to get a good look at how (whether this can work). Because this isn't even a full group yet. To be fair, these departments are probably also amongst the worst off (and biggest), so the rest should be smoother than this.

But, uh, I'm tired, y'all.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


It's quite late Sunday night. We watched the Mavs win a championship, we watched Mary Shannon discover an unplanned pregnancy on In Plain Sight. We watched hours of Leverage this weekend, gearing up for the season 4 premiere.

I gave myself a facial today; something I've started doing on a weekly basis, along with manicures and pedicures. My skin is looking better. Still a few breakouts, but I notice them less when the rest is looking luminous rather than dull and blotchy. One of my colleagues noticed my painted nails and said in great surprise, "You look like a girl!" earlier in the week. Ouch.

Another week passed, still busy. I meant to go in this weekend, just for a few hours, but I let me talk myself out of it when I realized I could access it all from home. The problem, of course, is that I never got round to actually working. I'm feeling a bit worn out at present; tired of all the work I've been doing, tired of the pressures of centralization looming, tired of being one of 3 busy people in an office with more than 3 staff. My office-mate sneered about my workload, because I have staff to assist me (the statement being that I didn't need to worry about Tuesday's deadline because my staff is doing the work for me), and I was nearly foaming at the mouth. My staff does prepare the documents she has to prepare herself, and we have 4 times as many as she does, which all require review in workflow, because I don't prepare them personally. Bah. I know, and my supervisors know, what I do.

I've found myself quite irritable in the past week, another sign of low patience and deteriorating interest in overtime. It seems the limits have been reached, as every little thing seemed to ignite another fire of indignation. There was plenty of ranting behind the scenes, and plenty of bitching about how much easier things would be for us all if they would all just give me what I ask for when and how I ask for it. Truly though, if group A had given me the figures I requested, I could have given them a budget by now, instead of having to answer multiple emails and have a face-to-face meeting because someone read an old report incorrectly. Annoying.

Anyway, I need to let that pass. Last week and soon we start a new week, sure to be full of fresh annoyances. Like annoyance at myself for not having completed my damn work this weekend so I'd not be so pressured tomorrow and Tuesday with deadlines.

Ah, well. I don't regret the time away, to be honest.

I'm back in a place I frequently find myself: wondering if I could be pregnant and whether or not we've been at all wise about how we've gone about this if I am. I'd wonder if the relief I feel when I'm not pregnant is a sign of something, were it not for the fact that the relief comes only after a day or two of intense sadness. In the midst of it, trying feels right. It's only in the waiting - until time to test, until time to try - that I think we're best off just stopping for a bit. That draws nearer though; if this cycle was a bust, we've got one, maybe two more, before our break. I honestly sort of look forward to a break, but not whole-heartedly. The one bright piece of news was that I ovulated within 'normal' time frames on cd 21. The hormones seem to be all in line, with a nice post-o jump and early onset of sore boobs, so we'll see how it goes, I suppose (like there's any choice at this point. snort).

Other news? I've been greatly enjoying Stephen Fry's audiobook readings of Harry Potter. I was lucky enough to get my hands on them and they are wonderful. Fry is an excellent reader and the British versions of the books are simply delightful. All leading up, of course, to next month's premiere of the final movie. I'm terribly excited, and dreading it. JKR kills of one of my favorite characters, and I'm still a bit annoyed (or a lot - hence why I correct her egregious error in fanfiction). Still, the Phelps twins are among the favorite people I follow on Twitter, and I really do think they've got some talent, so I'm eager to see it play out on screen. But. . . Fred dies, and then the movies are just . . . over. Forever! Sadness.

DH is well, I suppose. This past week was a bit rough. He wasn't sleeping well, and consequently wasn't feeling well, which often coincides with a general malaise and dissatisfaction with his life. Add to that other things like difficulty in his hobbies, and it isn't always a pleasant place to be. Not his fault - he makes serious efforts to curtail his moods and not direct them at me, but there is no way for me to escape his unhappiness in this house. It eats at me and leaves me feeling anxious and apologetic, no matter how pleasant he tries to be. I'm trying to figure out a better way to deal with it, because frankly, he puts up with a fuck of a lot of ups and downs with me. . .

I've just finished catching up on some fiction that was lost in queue. The two most recent Val McDermid books in the Hill/Jordan series. She is fantastic thriller writer, but the books have morphed since the earlier ones, and as she's moved a bit further away from sexual serial offenders to the last two books, they've gotten better and better. Always strong and compelling, these last two have a bit less sensationalism in them, and they are utterly fantastic. Her stand-alone books are also fantastic, particularly as many of her characters make delightful cameos, and I'm on the lookout for a book released earlier in the year in paperback that hasn't yet made it's way to iBooks.

My own writing has stalled a bit. I need to work on the pieces that are half-published, but one is so light and fluffy that I just feel meh about it (though it's been very popular). The other is a grief-study, and it's at a sensitive point. I just killed off Hermione's father in a terribly guilt-inducing way. Several people commented that it was lovely, an accurate portrait of grief, and one person said it was terribly out of character and she whined too much. I laughed at that, and sighed, because my very first reaction was "Oh, you are so lucky never to have experienced real grief" and my second thought was "For goodness' sake, she's known this for all of a few hours. Give her a day or two, please!" What can I say, I expect I've done a bit of projecting and probing in this project. But it's good. And I feel it when I read it. It's good. Not perfect, by any stretch, certainly not. But I'm still proud of it. That doesn't stop me from wanting to work on other pieces that are a bit more interesting to me right now. Ah, well. I'll get back into it soon, no doubt.

The cat and dog have been sweet lately, which is sort of oddly reassuring and affirming. DH came home early from work one day, and he reported that the dog did what he always does when I'm home and DH is not - that is to say, he huffed, and whined a bit. Frequently begged to go out to see if I was outside. Looked accusingly at the dog parent left at home, sighed, curled into a ball, with ears pointed alertly towards the door for any sign that the missing dog parent might soon return. Nice to know he loves me too, I suppose.

That's about it. It's late and I need to go to bed and avoid last week's habit of late bedtimes - wonder if that had to do with the irritability, come to think of it. The weather looks to be dreadfully hot. No surprise - summer in Texas - but my least favorite part of living here, no question. It could be worse, of course. It could be Not Texas. . . though I admit my fantasies of visiting jolly old England are more frequent this time of year.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June what?!


It's June.


Time flies when you are hiring new people and understaffed and get sucked into FY12 budget development and work late every night and at least once each weekend, doesn't it?

For those who inquired, the last cycle was truly gorgeous, with temps that mimicked Gabriel's pregnancy cycle, but alas, ended on time. I'm currently at cd 14 with what seems to be the beginning of a fertile period (temp dropped a wee bit, cm is thinning out, becoming wetter). If I'm lucky, ovulation will be in the next 10 days or so. One more cycle after this, and a break period if nothing works out.

Work is going. There is plenty to say on the subject, but little that is of interest. All signs point to the initial timeline being correct - a year ago, we were told that the business operations would be centralized and that about half of us would be RIF'd, and that this would take place when space was identified to house all the retained/centralized staff, roughly 12-18 months. Apparently, they are trying to identify space and looking towards the new fiscal year. I'm putting it out of my mind for now, because while I believe I'll have a job, I'm not looking forward to any of it.

Beyond that - well, there hasn't been much beyond work of late. That tends to happen when you work so much. Home has been buried in writing or mindless television and then sleep. That's it.

I can say I've had a few things on my mind. Of course, August marks the second passing of Gabriel's birth/death date. Never did it ever occur to me then that I would not have a living child by now. However, I'm learning to put aside the timelines and mental math about when this or that would happen. I'm beginning to believe I may not achieve a viable pregnancy again. I'm beginning to wonder not if I can live with this being the shape or sum of my life, but how to do so.

It honestly makes me angry to dwell on it. This is not the life I wanted, nor the life I thought I had. For as much time and energy and honest care I put into work, I still catch myself asking what the bloody hell I am doing. I never had a desire to do this line of work, and while it is at times fulfilling and while I love my coworkers, there is no deep yearning or calling here. It's a job that I fell into and have tried to make the most of. It's not something I worked for or studied for or feel drawn to. It's something I don't suck at that pays the bills.

I have a good, decent life. I have many blessings. I wonder if I am greedy to seek more, to beg for more, to be dissatisfied.

DH told me last night that I can change this if I want to. That I can make things different, and it made me sad. Because I don't really see how. The things I'd like to change - it's not just my weight or my hair or my hobbies. It's bigger things, more subtle things. At this point, given our dependence on my income, I can't simply switch jobs. I'm not properly trained for much, really. I never pursued my MA. I've just a list of things I'm good at and no real idea how that would morph into something I really want to do. I've never identified my passion.

Well, I had, actually - women, pregnancy, birth. Only that's one of the things that died with Gabriel. Nothing else has taken its place.

Children . . . right. Well, that's been covered, hasn't it? Adoption and surrogacy are currently out of equation for us, but maybe at some point. Trying for another pregnancy is not going well and there is a point at which we have to ask ourselves - given the high risk nature of things - how worthwhile it is to pursue this avenue.

And then. . . beyond that. . . I don't know. There is a restlessness, a vague depression that is lingering. I can't quite identify it, but I know that loneliness plays a role.

I dropped out of a lot after I lost Gabe. I had to, to preserve any semblance of sanity. The friends who could cope with that are still friends. The ones who couldn't fell by the wayside. I don't blame them, and I don't blame me. We are all of us victims of a shit situation. In reality, some of them deserve some blame, no doubt, and unquestionably I do in some cases, but what's the point now? Nearly two years gone, and there are few individuals I miss. It's more the community and the sense of belonging, a group of people I could identify with and whose company I enjoyed that I miss. Glow is wonderful, but it's also achingly sad and sometimes depressing. The babylost are the most supportive community I've ever found, especially the niche I've discovered who are content with allowing one to explore one's grief as it comes, in all it's ugliness. Nevertheless, I never really wanted to join that club.

Do you know, in two years, I still haven't figured out how to respond to people?

A non-sequiter, I'm sure, but this is being written piece-meal, and oh well. It took about a year, but eventually I could answer the question 'Do you have children?' with relative calm and ease. "No, no living children."

Easy peasey.

But almost a full year after that, and I've still not worked out how to respond when their response comes. "I'm so, so sorry." and I generally believe they genuinely are sorry. But what do you say?

Thank you? Me too? Yeah? Life sucks? Say nothing?

Haven't gotten it down. Apparently, I am as uncomfortable with bringing the spectre of death into the room as I always feel people must be when I do it.

And it's things like that. I think about them a fair amount. Nearly two years and my grief is very different than it was. I recently re-read the early things, looking for something to send to a newly bereaved mother. And the raw pain that was spilling out here took my breath away. I can remember it, vaguely. Thinking back to that immediate aftermath is always a foggy, cloudy perspective. I remember certain things clearly - we watched hours upon hours of Cash Cab and HGTV. Mindless chunks of half-hour numbness that had no babies. I remember boxes of Ding-dongs. I didn't touch alcohol, but by god, I ate ding-dongs. I remember getting my haircut and that awful moment when my stumbling words made my husband think I wanted a divorce. I remember that I hurt and that I felt blind, but I have no emotional memory of it. I can't feel that pain - and thank god, because who could bear it forever? But re-reading it was like opening a window to it and catching a glimpse of it. Oh yes, that feeling, it was like a hundred small knife wounds. Yes.

I still miss Gabriel, but it's less urgent now. Less demanding. More like an old friend. Or a piece of jewelry that I wear all the time. Familiar. The sharp longing is duller now, though it occasionally flares up into an active yearning for a few minutes to know what it would be like to be a mother to that son. To know what he'd have looked like as a wobbling toddler shouting new words. To know what his favorite lovey would have been. To hold him in my arms.

It all fades, of course, because it must. Life insists on being lived, and your options are to end it or to be swept away by it. I think, sometimes, that still bothers me. That the world didn't end, that my world didn't end. There are, even yet, moments in which I feel guilt for that, that I'm betraying him or his spirit or his memory by enjoying a new book or laughing at a dumb joke. But what other choice is there?

Do you know, this is our fourth year of trying to conceive? First started trying with the late May into June cycle in 2008, after that year's delay. God, how I've changed since then. How much has changed since then. I used to have hope, and now I despise it and cling to it simultaneously. I thought things were simple, straightforward then - that you had sex at the right time, got pregnant, and mostly had a baby. Now I know, in my primal being, that pregnancies don't last and babies don't live. Not for me, anyway. That if I ever do manage a viable pregnancy again, that if - I can't even picture it now - I ever have a living child, it will be because the universe wasn't watching closely enough, that I'll feel as if I've snuck one by. . . And still, angry as I get with it, I find so much beauty in the fragile world.

Probably the greatest gift Gabriel gave me. The ability to see and admire beauty even in the bleakest time. And it's hard to regret his life when I have that.