Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: Taking Stock--Now With a Bonus PS!

Holy cats. The phrase "what a year" does no justice to this abomination. But that's not entirely true, is it? Never black or white--always just gray, gray, gray.

One year ago tonight, C and I spent a quiet night in watching "Up," hanging on the couch; I'm not sure if we actually saw midnight, but Calla was alive and, um, well? in my belly. I can't say with confidence, though, that she was well, because she died not a week later.  And thus began the worst year of my life.

And while it did end well, and we ARE on a new path, things were really, really rough throughout the past 12 months. Learning to live without my baby was the worst lesson to learn. My entire life was so completely altered, in every possible way.  Finding out I was pregnant just two months after Calla died was thrilling and excruciating, and the next eight months or so were nothing short of psychological warfare. It was a constant struggle to stay focused, positive, hopeful, all while deeply and desperately grieving my daughter.

It wasn't just me, either. I sat helplessly by as so many of my friends and family members struggled with life-altering happenings, too. Two friends hospitalized for mental health, one family member hospitalized with a life-threatening medical emergency, one family member battling a mothereffer of a disease, one friend losing her job, one friend serving a man with a protective order, the death of a father, a breakup, C's mysterious health issues cropping up again and again. I'm sure I'm missing more significant things, but I'm on a bit of grief overload . . .  Peel back the onion skin a little further, and there's three more dead babies, a preemie whose life was in the balance for months,  . . . and the whole time, I was a basket case.

That's not to say 2010 didn't bring some wonderful things, too. Baby O tops my list, but there was also a family wedding, a family engagement, friends and family members with new babies, friends with new pregnancies, a new adopted daughter, a new job for a friend, a new family puppy (not ours), and hope for the future. (Oh, and toilet training. That one's a mixed bag.)

But by far the most positive thing to come of 2010, besides, of course, Baby O's safe and most welcome arrival, is the realization that I have some wicked awesome friends. This year has brought me a new crop of posse-love, whose friendship I can't imagine my life without. People who have held me up without asking a thing in return; dragged me through this year whether I was able to stand or not. Friends I've made through this here blogosphere, if you will. Complete strangers who tell me things I need to hear to keep going, who listen without judgement and understand. No longer strangers, this world has gotten just the littlest bit smaller, in the very best way. How I wish it didn't take my daughter, and their own children dying for us to be in each others' lives. But here we are.  Old friends cropping up when I never thought we'd meet again, coming into my life at the very right time to hold my hand. And of course my closest friends, rallying together to help me find some semblance of the old me. My best friend, holding my hand every single day of this effing year.

So where does that leave us? Like anywhere else. Not totally wonderful, not completely horrible. Just here. I am so very sad, so very happy, so very grateful. Wishing all of you a peaceful and healthy 2011, and maybe, just maybe, a happy New Year.

ETA: Oh jeez. I wanted to write something about how I started this year feeling like Baby New Year, and now feel as old and grizzled as the old year's Old Man is always depicted next to that rosy-cheeked new one. Also, I wanted to include the earthquake in Haiti (which happened just a day or two after Calla died), the oil spill in the Gulf, the tears of hope I shed when the last Chilean miner was aboveground . . . but it came out all wrong.  So those things too.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holidaze

They've come and gone, the eight million days of Christmas. There's still New Year's Eve to wrap things up, to be certain. We've got good plans this year.  It's all so familiar, yet all so surreal.

I keep thinking, "Last year . . ." all while living this year. And this year's holiday season has been a good one. But there's still last year's memories to contend with.

The gifts have been opened, played with, stashed in their new places. Photos taken on our crappy camera--I curse that damn thing every time I try to take a picture. I have approximately one good photo out of 300--but the pictures have been uploaded and ordered anyway.  Cookies have been baked, eaten, also cursed for being so delicious and handy. The haze of the days is slowly washing off.

And yet. As one year approaches, I still find it hard to believe. Did that really happen? Do I have a daughter who died? Yes, dear. Yes I do.

We keep going. We laugh. We smile. We show up. We bake cookies. We wrap gifts. And sometimes amidst those happy things we cry. That's what we do. That's how it works.

My brain is still in newborn-cum-holidays fog. I've been composing some brilliant posts during O's middle-of-the-night feedings. Unfortunately by morning, they're lost. But I'm assuming one day I'll be able to string something of consequence together.

Until then, I'm counting down the days to bid 2010 a kick-in-the-ass-out-the-door adieu.  This motherfucker was a shit-ass year. Mostly. With lots of good stuff sprinkled around the edges.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Just Say It

I've been thinking quite a bit lately about how it feels to have the words "my baby is dead" come out of my mouth. I mean, who ever thinks about how to say that?

How on earth can I put into words how it feels when your child, your baby, someone you've spent months loving, growing, caring about, suddenly dies inside your body? And then comes out of your body silently? How can I describe feeling like running into highway traffic would certainly be less painful and less traumatic than waking up every day without your baby? That banging your head against the wall, repeatedly and forcefully, is the only way to silence the roar?

Dramatic. That, up there, is dramatic. But not overly so, as describing the pain, anxiety, trauma, sadness and grief cannot be overstated. Words alone, though, don't do the pain justice. For someone who's--luckily--never experienced such pain can't possibly understand fully (again, luckily) just by reading these words.

So do I say it matter-of-factly? Simply, "My baby is dead. She died inside me, and then she was born." That's a freezing bucket of water in your face, yes? But it still doesn't convey, precisely, how awful and empty it feels.

Or do I stay silent? Let the bags under my eyes, the gray in my hair, the not-quite-a-smile tell the story for me? Ach. I have no idea.

It doesn't get better. At least, almost a year out, it isn't better. It is, however, different. It is just as horrible, lonely, shocking, and sad as it was on that day. It is not all-consuming. I think that's the only difference right now. It's not immediate. But it's still there, just as fierce when it comes to the surface.

There are so many babies missing. No, not missing. Missing implies there's hope they might be found. They're missed, certainly. But they're not coming back. So many families without their babies. This time of year is especially difficult--so many anniversaries, birthdays, holidays within the next few months.

But then again that's not the entire story, because all year long there's the same days. On and on and on.

None of this is easy, or simple. No matter how you say it.

I miss my daughter. That's it, plain and simple.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

This Time, No

So, currently this is my favorite song.



"My head told my heart, 'Let love grow,'
but my heart told my head, 'This time, no.'"

I don't know. Right now I'm saying let love grow, but I SO get "this time, no."

Monday, December 6, 2010

To the Nines

I have mentioned this before, I know. But it's really starting to sink in now. Calla was born on the 9th of January. O was born on the 9th of November. Of the same year. Making them 10 months apart. Irish twins, if you will.

I knew this going into the induction. Shit, I knew it going into this pregnancy. When I found out I was pregnant with O, I counted ahead to 37 weeks, and made the connection. At that point I just hoped he'd make it, dates be damned.

And then when given the option to be induced early, again I threw all sentiment to the wind and said, "Just get him out alive, as soon as possible, please and thank you."

So here we are, coming up on the 9th again. Sometimes I think of my life in terms of that Gwyneth Paltrow movie "Sliding Doors." Remember it? It's kind of like those old "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, except it shows the characters on two distinctly different paths. Scenarios A and B.

Scenario A: This Christmas, on the 9th, we're celebrating Calla's 11 month birthday. I follow her around as she tries relentlessly to stuff the ornaments into her mouth. And I don't have my sweet little newborn.

Scenario B: This Christmas, on the 9th, we're celebrating O's one month birthday. I am sleep deprived but happy, and dress him in all the tiny "Baby's First Christmas" and reindeer gear. And I sorrowfully remember the beginning of 2010, and miss my little girl terribly.

I know. I will slowly drive myself mad weighing these two scenarios, imagining the what-ifs. "Choose Your Own Edgar Allen Poe Short Story." The truth is neither one is completely happy, nor completely sad. If Choice A, then no Choice B. If Choice B, live forever remembering Choice A. As if either one was a choice, but you know what I mean.

So on and on, moving ahead, the 9th of each month will be a seesaw. Which, I suppose, is a fitting representation of how things really are. Happy and sad together.

But. Still. Really. How?

 Gods how I love this new little dude. He is just the sweetest, for reals. Homeboy sleeps in my arms, sleeps on my chest (sleeps in the crib? Eh, we're working on that one.)--and it is so delicious. But oh, the price I've paid to get him here.

He is here. I am lucky. I am in love. I am grateful. But I can still be sad, too--and dammit, I sure as hell am.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Tired

I am not complaining. But I am really tired.

This kind of tired I can do. I remember waking all night, nursing all night, changing diapers all night. And then doing it all day, too. I remember this, I can do this. In many ways, this kind of tired is so very much easier than the tired I was after Calla died. That tired never quite seems to go away.

I am lucky, though. This little guy sleeps more than I thought he would. Unfortunately I cannot sleep while he does, due to caffeine or a toddler or a racing mind. But I can rest and unplug my brain.

I am not complaining. I will take this tired a million times over the kind of full-on weariness I discovered in January.  The exhaustion after losing our little girl is unending, and when I stop to put my brain to it, it threatens to overwhelm me. As it is I feel like I am holding on to everything with the fumblingest of a grasp; the balance we have can slip at any minute.

I am not complaining. My husband will laugh, but I almost relish gross diaper changes, spit-up on my shoulder (who am I kidding--projected spit-up down my neck like sour perfume is more like it), the middle-of-the-night grunting of a boy trying to kick free of his swaddle. I am not irritated, or annoyed, or even wishing for more sleep. It means he's here, and real, and breathing, and mine to keep. I will take this tired. I will cherish this tired.

I do not want to be tired from grief any more, although that's not going anywhere anytime soon. That is a bone-deep tired, adding weight to every step, every heartbeat. That is a tired I am still learning how to do. I don't know that I'll ever get used to it.

It is a tired that doesn't pass; when there's no baby to learn to sleep through the night, there is no reprieve, no waking in the morning thinking, "I can't believe how rested I am!" It is a restlessness, a searching, a puzzle with no answer.

I am still not complaining.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Black Friday

This year the pseudo, consumerist "holiday" of Black Friday really got to me. It seemed everywhere I turned there were ads, coupons, deals, frenzy surrounding this day of gluttony. So much so that my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, was a mere speed bump to hurdle just to get to the shopping. Don't get me wrong, I'm a girl who loves both shopping and amazing deals, but standing in line at 3AM to save sixty bucks on a television ain't never going to happen. NEVAH.

Maybe it was the painful irony that people are willing to TRAMPLE EACH OTHER for a great deal for CHRISTMAS, the holiday where we're supposedly selfless and giving and charitable, that really twisted the knife.

Maybe it was the phrase itself, "Black Friday." Lemme tell you about Black Friday. I had my own back in January, and I'm going to co-opt that phrase for my own self.

Maybe it was the parallel. We all have so much, yet there's always something more to want, something just out of our grasp, something we'd trample our best friend's grandmother to get. I am . . . blessed? Part of me absolutely hates that word. But I have an abundance of wonderfulness in my life. And yet. There's that little girl I can't ever have with me, something I want so desperately I'd trample EVERYONE'S grandmother to have back.

I am sitting on the couch, my big boy asleep upstairs, my newborn little guy asleep next to me. Currently, the newbie's down a sock. See? We all need something we don't have.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Beautiful Things

2010 has been quite a ride. At the beginning of this year, I'd have been hard pressed to find things for which to be grateful. Certainly E and C and all our family, and our friends, and the roof over our heads and food in our bellies, and and and. All the things we remember at Thanksgiving, and always when we take time to be grateful for our lives.

But this year knocked all the charity right out of me. I had to cling tightly to those things, for fear they'd be yanked out from under me, too.  And then the darndest things started happening. Through the lens of grief, I started finding all these wonderful new things for which to be grateful. Notes in the mail. New friends. Flowers.

I want to show you three material things I acquired this year that have really helped me through. The first is this beautiful necklace. It was sent to me by old friends from college--girls I'd lost contact with but had reconnected with through that demon FB. (Now, don't judge, but these girls who sent it were in my--dun dun DUUUUN--sorority in college. And our mascot was an angel. I think it's fitting.) I wore it all through O's pregnancy as my talisman, keeping us safe. I love it. It reminds me that there are people out there, in and out of my immediate life, who think good thoughts and direct them our way. It feels really good.
So then there's this worry stone. This summer I went out for a nice evening with one of my good friends. We were celebrating her birthday, and she handed me this stone. It's hers, but she lent it to me to hang onto during O's pregnancy. She wanted for us not just worries to be gone, but joy, too. And I'll tell you, it helped. I brought it with me to my sonograms, and just knowing it was with me helped keep me sane.

And finally this. The day after O was born, my best friend came to visit us in the hospital. She brought a gift for baby O, and and gift for me. This silver bracelet with birthstones for each of my babies . . . I am not sure I can express what it means to me. Because they are all my babies, even she who's not here.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not pulling sunshine out of a shitstorm. I can't find anything good about Calla's death. Not one thing. But what I can do is try to keep appreciating the good things that didn't die when she did. I can pull my had out from under the covers once in awhile and see the world going on, with or without me. And hold my breath and jump back in. These things help keep me going.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Settling In and Settling Down

Baby O has been home for a week. I still am in disbelief that he's here, to stay. He is, right now, as mellow as a baby can be. Child can SLEEP, I tell you. E was never like that. He was a great baby, but he was always AWAKE. I've heard tell of these mythical, sleeping newborns, but I never thought I'd meet one in real life. Or have one living in my house. I'm waiting for a unicorn to prance through the backyard soon.

I still don't have the energy for a long post, despite the more-than-anticipated amount of rest I've been getting. I think Baby O is sleeping so much because I NEVER let him sleep while he was inside. He's making up for lost naps.

Would saying thank you make me seem like a shit? Because I don't think I could have made it through this year without so much love and support. I feel a little like I'm delivering my Oscar acceptance speech ("I'd like to thank my OBs, the nurses, and the entire receptionist team . . ."). I can't believe the outpouring of shoulders, ears, and arms I received over the past eleven months. Words of encouragement, ensuring I was, indeed, justified in feeling crazy, sad, hopeful, woeful, scared, and excited.

But that's not to say this living, breathing, pooping (POOPING oh my word) infant erases the memory of our dear little baby girl. Despite maybe some people thinking that might be so. It just doesn't work that way.

So a picture or two. Here are a few of my new favorites:
Like my stylish cuff?

E is far more interested in all his new trucks

Our newest pumpkin
First shot of the four of us
The big and the little


This last one is my favorite. We are happy.

I can still, though, see the little-girl-sized hole.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

HE'S HERE!!!

Hi y'all. I left things kind of frantically--sorry. Here's the upshot if you're in a hurry: Oliver Orion Scott is officially here, in our arms, breathing. We are completely gaga and are in transition, of course. Life is headed towards The Valley of Insane, coming out the the Land of Crazy.

I'm still a little bit in shock. I mean, good shock. But shock. What a year. And yep, it was 10 months EXACTLY since Calla died that Oliver was born. To the date.

I feel a little bit like I've gotten as close to newborn-instant-gratification as I could have gotten. In the lotto of life, I traded in my losing ticket and won a second chance jackpot. And right now Grief is holding Joy's hand as we walk together down our particular path. When Baby O finally came out, I cried for about 15 minutes straight as I held him. Joy, grief, happiness, sadness, disbelief and relief.

It was surreal--as soon as we walked onto the L+D wing, the EXACT SAME NURSE who greeted us when we went in for Calla was there, taking care of us. And then the next morning the EXACT SAME NURSE who delivered E was with us for Baby O's birth. That night, after he was born (more on that in a different post), three of the nurses who guided us through Calla's death and birth came in to see us. They were so happy for us, and it was a relief to see them, too. They were THERE. THEY knew it was real, they helped me to bring it into balance.

Because as I was pushing Baby O out, it was a complete difference from my labor with Calla. It was calm--I swear, you could hear a pin drop in that delivery room between contractions. I started to cry because I knew, until he came out, it wasn't for sure.

But then I heard him cry. And it was . . . I have not a word for that feeling. Because before, it was a nightmare. When it was silent AFTER she was born.

I am still in disbelief. Disbelief of this entire year. Two babies, bookending 2010. The yin and the yang and the horrible and the sublime. I have harbored and pushed out two completely different beings, one girl--dead--and one boy--very much alive. Both of whom I love with ferocity.

How is it we were planning on two children for our lives, and now we have had three, and only two are with us, and if the second were here, the third most certainly would not; how is it I want them all, don't have them all, but can still find some happiness? And yet still have such sadness within me, too?

Enough for now. Baby O let me sleep quite a bit in the hospital, but I have to get my life back on track here. The mail's not going to read itself, unfortunately.

Thank you so much for all your kind words and well wishes and good thoughts. Another step in the road, ensuring my life will never be the same. I'll be back soon, got lots more to talk about. And I do promise at least one picture, soon.

XO to you all.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It's GO TIME!

It's a go. We're going in tonight to get this party started.

Whoa nelly.

Will post updates as I have em--oh. my. god.

!!!!!!

The Word of the Day . . .

 . . . is surfactant. Used in a sentence: "Please oh please, Universe, science, god, goddess, God, biology, Buddha, Cher--let there be enough surfactant in this baby's little lungs to get him out tomorrow."

Going in for the amniocentesis at 8:30. I wish it was this second. I am anxious, nervous, READY. Not to mention my crazy dreams all weekend, ramping up for today. Last night's involved getting the news that it was negative. The giant needle does not scare me--it's the possibility of more waiting, pacing, stressing. I am ready for normal newborn worries; I've had enough of the will-he-come-out-alive worries to last a lifetime.

I know the more Zen side of me, the side that agrees with the therapist, could tap into the "it is what it is" mantra that's been on a continuous loop in my brain for the past 10 months. But right now I'm kinda like, "fuck that shit. Get this kid out, alive, por favor."

Oh, and did I mention today is the 10 month ago day when we learned Calla died?

Will keep you updated throughout the day. Keeping fingers crossed for good news this afternoon; feel free to do the same :) Mille grazie.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Not That I'm Counting . . .

 . . .  but we're in one-week mode. That is, assuming this amnio comes back positive. Assuming this little guy makes it that far. I am on the schedule for next Tuesday. I have the amnio on Monday. Let's hang in there til then, shall we? Definitely, if I'm following this marathon metaphor through, at mile 25.

I can barely breathe, barely exhale, barely believe it. Actually, I won't believe it until we get there. But oh my gods.

Thankfully our lives are a complete whirlwind until then. I am in full-on Christmas shopping mode. We are having our ENTIRE HEATING SYSTEM overhauled---the 95-year-old boiler is gone, no hot water for 24 hours starting tomorrow, three more days, we hope, of being exiled from home during the day.  I have a fun date scheduled for tomorrow night with some of my girlfriends. A dr appt on Thursday. Library books due. Things to distract me.

Trying to stay positive, to keep the bile down while I sleep, and to not panic.  Gotta get more books from the library . . . need some more distractions.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Day 30--A Dream For The Future

If you're still reading at this point, thanks for coming along for the ride. October sure was eventful, eh? I'm personally still holding my breath, but I feel a little bit better having made it through the weekend--well, the lead-up and beginning of the weekend. I was dreading going past those days, and, in all honesty, they were really hard. I made it through the actual point where Calla died, then the night it would have been when we went to the hospital (day-wise/Friday), and now today, the day I would have delivered her, day-wise, or the day we had to say good bye.

Ugh. One step at a time.

So back to the dream, or Day 30. This dream, you realize, is premised on this little guy coming home with us, and staying, and being healthy and whole and ours.

Looking out a few years, I see C and I holding the boys' hands as we stroll down the streets of Paris; taking them to Les Tuileries, eating pain au chocolat, teaching them French, nodding a quiet "bonjour" to the passers-by. I expect to get a little misty eyed as we pass a boutique with frilly little dresses and assorted froufrou in its windows, and offer up a little hug and kiss to Calla.

Or exploring the Grand Canyon together, holding hands, teaching the boys about geology and the passage of time and the smallness that we all are.

Or swinging on hammocks together overlooking the beautiful Italian countryside, outside our little rented farmhouse. The yard is ample enough for the boys to run and chase, as C and I enjoy a little vino from the farmer down the road.

Or driving up to Canada, or Cape Cod, or Connecticut, or Maine. Or camping in the Adirondacks.

Living a happy and adventurous life, showing the boys some of the places C and I loved, finding new favorite spots together. But most importantly, just being together.

Before we had children, C and I had these visions of taking a family vacation, and then an adults-only vacation each year. The second one is not nearly as appealing anymore. What's the fun of having children if I can't explore the world through their eyes, too? (That's not to say I'd turn my nose up at a night away, or even maybe--down the road--a long C-and-me weekend.)

Anyway. I just want to recapture the happiness we once had so easily. I want to be a good mother, I want our children to be happy and curious and adventurous and, most importantly, kind and compassionate. I want to learn how to make our daughter a part of our lives, despite her missing presence. Once, I'd not have thought that was too much to ask.  Dare to dream.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Day 29--Hopes, Dreams and Plans for the Next 365 Days

First of all, I'm both impressed and annoyed with myself by this point in the 30 days game. I am proud of myself for having stuck it out; I sometimes have a tendency to start a project, only to leave it unfinished. But I also feel a little self-indulgent writing all these things about myself, too. But it's been a fun endeavor, and I've enjoyed reading everyone else's posts.

Now here is the depressing part. I don't really have any hopes, or dreams--and definitely no plans--for the next 365 days. My obvious hope would be to bring this little boy home alive. But I've learned the hard way that plans can go to shit in an instant. I don't know that I can handle hitching my wagon to a falling star again.

So, I guess my hopes and dreams are that my children and C and I stay alive for a year? And longer? That we have a healthy 365 days ahead of us? That our house stays standing? We have food and money enough to feed and clothe ourselves? I can maintain a somewhat reasonable grip on sanity and reality?

When your life hits rock bottom, there's little in the way of expectations to reach for. Waking up alive is enough. And I guess that's something right there. It's just not how I enjoy living my life. I'd love to dream of a vacation, getting myself back into shape, being happy, accomplishing some sort of personal goal. But I can't even formulate any of those things in my mind yet.

Sorry for being depressing, it's just kind of where I am right now. How's that for self-indulgent?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Day 28--What's In My Handbag

I carry a huge Big Buddha purse. I wish I could carry something smaller, less cumbersome, but I need a huge bag into which I can throw just about everything. I really need a new bag, as I've been carrying it for about a year straight and it's looking a little shabby. I have a tough time choosing purses; what will I want for every single day? Sigh.

On a daily basis in my handbag you can find: my wallet, a garage door opener, a pack of gum, a package of baby wipes, a package of boogie wipes, a small packet of tissues, a pen, a notebook, several lip glosses, a mirror, my keys, a few chocolate Reisen caramels, a package of Annie's fruit snacks, my phone, a bottle of hand sanitizer.

Additionally, I usually have a book (for waiting rooms), a few snack cups and a sippy cup, receipts, possibly matchbox cars, sometimes an apple and a string cheese. Sometimes my huge water bottle.

That damn purse is simply cavernous. And while I love the size, I'm often digging around in the bottom of it for something I can't find. Shit just disappears in there when I need it most.

Right now the new Belle and Sebastian CD is in there, waiting to be listened to in the car.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 27--My Worst Habit, And Where We're At . . .

Obsessing. I can obsess over anything. It's been amplified over the past 10 months, especially now being subsequently pregnant and being overly tuned in to every little burble and gurgle and wiggle and ache in my giant body.

If you don't believe that I've always been this way, ask C about the film container I thought I'd lost on our trip from SanFrancisco to Seattle. Shudder. Two days of that trip ruined, but my peanut brain couldn't focus on anything else. This was in the stone ages before we had a digital camera. That's all we need to know about that.

But usually I obsess over something I want, or can't figure out. Like, for instance, I see a cute pair of shoes I'd love to add to my collection. I'll spend HOURS online searching for the best price, cheapest shipping, my size, the right color, planning if they're worth the expense. I can't sleep for thinking of these shoes.

Now replace the shoes with the current resident in my uterus. In light of the fact that the last resident did not make it out alive. Welcome to my fun brain.

So where we're at is here: tomorrow will be the bookmark in my pregnancy where Calla died. Maybe it was tonight. I've always thought of it as 35 weeks and 3 days; imagine my surprise at my dr appt today when she said I was AT 35 weeks and 3 days today. So maybe it's four days. Whatever. My point is, I RATIONALLY know this is a different pregnancy, a different baby, a different set of circumstances. But EMOTIONALLY I'm right back there.

Here I am, some 10 months almost later, hyper-aware of this little one's every move. Was I not paying attention back then? Was there something I missed, a gradual slowdown? Now THIS is some real obsessing.

I had an NST today, and while they're usually reassuring, this one got me a little on the ropes. It was overall good, and steady, and he was moving a lot--which lead to the nervousness. Every few minutes, we'd lose his heartbeat. He was moving so much, moving away from the monitor. I'd glance over and see 59 BPM, 72 BPM. Clearly, MY heart rate. And try not to freak out. The doctor (the same one who delivered Calla, BTW) came in and stayed with me, kept moving the little pad around to stay with him. And she was satisfied. So I guess I was, too.

If only it wasn't, you know, RIGHT NOW. And if I am induced the day we hope, that same doctor will deliver this little guy. It doesn't make me nervous--she's awesome and level and very smart and compassionate--but she was worried that I'd be upset, not want her there. I guess that doesn't so much matter to me. It's not like it was her fault. I'd actually feel better giving her a do-over, I guess.

Fuck. Everything is so goddamn hard.

Maybe that's why another of the doctors, the one I had an appointment with today, gave me a hug and a kiss before she left the room.

Good thing I'm seeing the therapist tomorrow. Day 27--a day to indulge in bad habits.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 26--My Week

So, each weekday is a variation on Day 25's post. C works M-F, and E and I hang home-side. We like to get our goings-on done before lunch and nap time.

We are lucky that both sets of grandparents (my parents and C's) live in town. I try really hard not to overuse them for babysitters--E has never stayed with anyone else, except my brother and sister-in-law, and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. We are very lucky.

My point is that lately it's been a real boon having all this babysitting help. I have at least two doctor's appointments a week for myself (OB and therapist), and usually some random, better-if-kid-free shopping to do (i.e. choosing picture frames or greeting cards). Also, since I'm usually an exhausted whale by the end of the afternoon, it's nice to have people around to spell me if needed.

So, our activities, to be plugged in on any given day, usually include a trip to the zoo or science museum, a trip to the dry cleaners, a trip to Wegman's, music class (usually Fridays), and, twice this Fall, Cub Club at the Zoo. I was initially bummed out because we got shut out of most of the classes I'd tried to register . . . for . . . anyway. And then we attended our first class. Oy. All I can say is I'm sure I would have enjoyed it more if I wasn't a former K teacher. And thankfully, E is pretty well behaved and even-tempered. But then again, what do you expect for six bucks?

Thursday nights I have a standing date with some super cool friends--we watch Project Runway together, eat lots of tasty treats, and laugh our asses off.

Weekends are generally really nice. C gets up with E on Saturdays, so I can sleep in. Although, sleeping in for me is about 7:30 or 8--but it's still really nice. We've been going to the Farmer's Market a few blocks away nearly every Saturday since early Spring. We usually meet Mo and A and O (her kids) at the Market. C and I take E for a walk with the dog in tow. Unfortunately my walks have been abbreviated, as waddling through the streets isn't all that comfortable these days. C gets things done around the house--recently it's been painting, taping, raking, fixing concrete, getting our basement ready for the heating-system huge overhaul happening, oh, next week. When E takes his nap, I usually run to Target or on some other errand. The afternoons see more of the same from the morning. Lately C and I have been trying to fit in a date night--a necessary component of any marriage, I believe.

Sundays are church days--we head down to the UUCB. Sometimes I go alone, but when E and C accompany me, C takes E up to the kids' room after about 15 minutes. These days we come home to watch the Bills (blech), and then when E gets up, we head to my in-law's for pasta dinner. E gets to play with his cousins, T and D who are 9 and 7. They are so good with him, and he loves them so very much. "The gulls, " he calls them. We eat our pasta dinner with my sister- and brother-in law, my parents-in-law, usually C's grandmother, too. It's very cozy and filling and delicious. I like pasta dinner. Sets a nice tone for the week ahead.

I used to bake bread every Sunday; I think as the weather gets colder I'm going to fire up my oven once more.

So there you have it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Day 25--My Day In Great Detail

First, I am a stay-at-home parent. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be one. I didn't realize the transition from career wife to home wife would be even a little bit of a challenge, but amazingly it took some adjusting. In my previous life I was a Kindergarten teacher, but for a wide variety of reasons that career was deeply unsatisfying. For me. And when I became pregnant with E, C and I decided I'd stay home for at least a year. I was lucky enough to have a job in a district that would hold my position for two years. If, during that two year time, I had another baby, I'd get another year before I'd have to either go back or resign.

The extra year? Um, yeah. Didn't happen. And although I already knew I wasn't going back, it was a bigger shock than I'd thought sending in my letter of resignation. "Hey school district? You know how people are DYING to get a teaching job, and you're laying people off, and people are taking any jobs they can to bolster their resumes? Know how you're the top school district in the area? Yeah, well, you can shove it. Thanks." Or something like that.

Anyway, I'm now an official SAHM. So here's the typical day. C gets up with E on weekdays and Saturdays. Which, these days, can be anywhere from 5:30 to 6:30. They head downstairs, feed the pets, E has his yogurt--all while I'm catching a few extra minutes of sleep. I come down around 7:15, and C goes to get ready for work. Usually we watch a whole bunch of TV--E will have an apple, look at his magazines, watch a few shows, all while I have my coffee (that C made for me) and catch up online; checking email, blogs, FB, whatever.

After all that, we head upstairs so I can shower and get E dressed. He still sleeps in a crib, so while I'm in the shower he hangs in there with some books, trucks, magazines, his monkey--Pull (long story)--and his pacifiers (don't judge--they're just for in the crib). We get dressed, head downstairs, and start our real day. Usually this includes errands--today it was dry cleaners and the library--but some days it's the zoo, music class, the science museum, or a random trip somewhere. I prefer getting errands out of the way early, before the after-work-and-school crowd shows up. (Ever try going to the grocery store at 4PM? Horrors.)

We have lunch at around 11:45, then E goes up for a nap. He's--knock on wood--a really good napper, and he'll even tell me, "Mommy, I go up for a nap now." Bless his little heart. Any time in the crib usually involves books, trucks, or magazines (I swear, this kid LOVES looking through magazines/catalogues of toys, bedding, books--you name it). While he's asleep I get my only quiet time of the day--and to me this is sacred. I can nap, but usually I go online again, clean some things, usually vacuum somewhere, think about what to make for dinner, and, oh yeah, write (hence the name of this blog. Clever, no?).

When E gets up, we usually watch a little more TV, read some books, and, most recently, have lots of TRUCK TIME. This is what he calls it: "Hey Mom, let's have some TRUCK TIME!" So we play, hang out--we used to take the dog for a walk in the afternoon, before heaving myself down the sidewalk became too much of a chore. Poor Cosmo.

C gets home around 5-5:30, for which I am eternally grateful. I feel very lucky he's able to be home at such a reasonable hour, because by 5 I'm about at my limit. He takes E upstairs to change clothes and then I can make some dinner. We eat around 6-6:30. C takes E up for a bath, then when they come down E and I watch trucks on TV--YouTube on the BluRay player. E goes to bed around 7:45, where I read him some stories (recent favorites are Tom by Tomie De Paola, and Ten Red Apples by Pat Hutchins). The benefit of being a former teacher is the wicked library I accumulated --we have hundreds of great picture books, leaving out library gathering to the non-fiction variety.

So then I head downstairs, where C and I are so exhausted we watch TV, or "Dexter" on streaming Netflix, or now the Sabres games. Sometimes we read, sometimes we play games. I, invariably, am in bed by 10 PM.

Some of you reading this might think, "Holy crap, what a boring-ass day!" But I love it. Being a SAHM has given me the space I need to grieve--outside of people watching me, away from the tedium of a job I don't enjoy. I find my son to be funny, and a good conversationalist, and we have fun together. Is it monotonous sometimes? Sure. So we go to the playground or somewhere he can run around.

I hated the rigidity of my work schedule--thinking about working and having to make an important, personal phone call makes me break out in hives. Or, goodness, taking a day off? Scheduling a doctor's appointment? It's not as though I could leave my desk and catch up the next day. I'd always be more worried about what was happening in my classroom, how things were going down, wondering if I'd covered all my bases. I love the freedom I have now--that's just my personality. Do I like being busy? Yes, I do. I like having projects to work on and a to-do list, and I like being extremely organized. Only now it's for things that are truly important to me. And for this I a grateful.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

False Alarm-Updated

UPDATE BELOW--Nothing dramatic, don't worry.

We had a little, uh, incident this morning. I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty, but I thought this morning I'd sprung a leak. The upshot: I didn't, but SOMETHING was going on. We ended up heading to the hospital just in case.

Now, since I'm past 34 weeks we went to the hospital where I'll eventually deliver. Where E was delivered, and Calla too. This was our first visit since Calla's birth, and I was, um, freaking out? Kind of. I knew Petit Trois was OK, as I could feel him going crazy the whole way there. As soon as I was hooked up to the monitor his heart rate was good, he was moving and kicking and just having fun. I was even having some contractions;  I couldn't help but wonder if this was the day.

Wouldn't that almost be nice? I've never gone into labor spontaneously . . . twice induced. And, if all goes according to plan, I won't ever. And I'm OK with that. But I was very unprepared this morning. We don't have the room ready. We don't have the car seat installed. I don't have anything organized or even remotely ready. And we had to hurriedly shuffle E off to my in-law's house. But, huh. If he'd come today, no more fretting over the amnio. No more stressing over his movements.

I'm cool, and he's absolutely perfect. The sonogram was fantastic--he was even practicing breathing. The last time we had a sonogram at the hospital, on that floor . . .  I STILL have a tough time thinking about it. It was hard taking the elevator up to the L+D wing. There were lots of nurses in there on our way up; they were all, "ARE YOU IN LABOR?!" And I was like, "Uh, duh, I don't really know." But thank goodness PT was still wiggling, or I'dve freaked way out.

All in all we were there for about two hours. Am I a teence disappointed he didn't arrive today? Maybe. I'm still not putting that car seat in, not unpacking any clothes, not digging out my nursing bras. All that can wait. And so can I--what choice do I have? Hoping, hoping, hoping for the best.

ETA: Please don't read this as a selfish, I-want-to-be-done-being-pregnant-preemie-be-damned wish list. OF COURSE the health and long-term well-being of this little guy is tantamount. Along with his arriving alive.  I should have written that it would have been nice for him to arrive COMPLETELY HEALTHY, not just early. Sorry for the confusion. I'd wait forever for a healthy, living baby. 

Day 24--Where We Live

I love our city. Many others do not. I love that it has some cosmopolitan areas mixed with residential neighborhoods. Our city is chock full of beautiful architecture; mansions line one of the main streets in the city, once referred to as Millionaire's Row. I'm an unofficial "Buffalo Ambassador;" I tend to geek out on Buffalo history and its beauty to strangers. I remember a few times being in elevators on vacation, telling total strangers to come visit.

I love our beautiful Olmsted parks, I love the parkways and Frank Lloyd Wrights and EB Greenes.  I love that it's relatively cheap to live here, leaving extra funds to travel. I love that our house is within walking distance of nearly anything I'd need to do: shop at the Co-op,  go to dinner or a coffee shop, buy books at my favorite book store, take a yoga class, shop for cute things. I love the seasons here--Fall being my favorite, but Winter's pretty great if you know how to make it work. Buffalo is home to brilliant, inspired dining--believe it or not, we don't eat chicken wings every day of the year! We are close to many farms and have access to gorgeous produce for most of the year. Eating local year-round is easier than one might think.

Buffalo is much maligned in the national media and by people across the country. We have our share of black eyes: the Bills being one of those (how's it feel to go to the SuperBowl 4 times and never win? Shitty.) (Oh, and a 0-5 start this year? ugh.). "Is it snowing there now?" "No, it's August." Friends live far away, as there's not a whole lot going on job-market wise. I could go on listing negatives, but why? I love it here--it's taken me awhile to fully embrace it. I grew up here. I've spent nearly my whole life here. Do I feel a bit provincial? Sometimes. Who cares? I'm happy. We have a great life, we eat well, we play well.

You should totally come visit!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Day 23--A Youtube Video That Makes Me Laugh

Well, this one doesn't exactly make me laugh, per se, but it makes me really happy. I should preface this by telling you I don't visit the youz toobz too often for my own self. We're there a lot, but mostly for dumptruck, firetruck, monster truck, cement mixer, any-knd-of-truck-you-can-think-of videos for E. That's his before bedtime treat.

Here's my YouTube treat, hope you enjoy:




I defy you not to at least smile.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Day 22--A Website

I can't point my finger directly at one specific website that helped me after Calla died. It was the whole. damn. internet. Seriously. Shortly after her death, I started spending HOURS online, looking for . . . what? Who knows. Something I couldn't hold in my hands, someone to understand, something to help everything make sense. But really nothing did.

Until I discovered the loss community blogosphere we have all found ourselves a part of. I found one blog, and then another, and then I was poaching links from others' blogrolls, jumping into people's lives, trying to find some answers. What the hell happened? You too? Holy shit, we're still alive to tell the tale? Wait, this happened to you more than a year--two years--three years ago? I couldn't get enough of the stories, the histories, the names, the babies.

And I'll admit, I'm a relative rookie to the blog world. I found myself commenting on blog posts without introducing myself, jumping right in as though I'd been there all along. I don't know from blog-iquette.

But then friends, and strangers, and anonymous people, and fellow loss mamas started commenting on MY blog. ME! Someone was actually reading, internalizing, listening. And knowing that made each day a little less lonely. It became helpful for me to type instead of talk. I could get it out of my head without actually having to speak.

So I guess a specific website that was helpful? This one, the one you're reading. Not trying to pat myself on the back or anything. Just trying to be grateful. Thanks for reading, even if it's not interesting. You can't imagine how much it has helped, and continues to help keep me afloat every day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Day 21--A Recipe

I really like cooking. I like to experiment. For my birthday, or maybe Mothers' Day, C and E got me The Flavor Bible, which was recommended to me by a chef at one of our favorite restaurants. It's basically all the most delicious taste combinations for any and every ingredient known to man. I have at least 50 cookbooks, a subscription to "Cook's Illustrated," and notebooks full of recipes I've collected over many years. I have church cookbooks collected from who knows where, and recipes bookmarked on my computer.

But I don't actually use many of those recipes. Baking almost always requires a recipe for me, as I view it more of a precise scientific process rather than "cooking." But for every night dinners I usually go with my instincts and think about what might taste good, and then go for it.

Fall really reinvigorates my cooking desire. Summer grilling loses its appeal early, leaving me wanting water and popsicles most of the time. By Winter I'm through with heavy food, and while holiday baking gets me jazzed, I'm over it by about December 28th. Spring's exciting, what with her asparagus and peas and broccoli; it's a promise that the abundance of garden goodness is on its way.

But oh, Fall. Soups, muffins, fresh bread, roasted goodness from the oven. I like the fruits of Fall: apples, squash, pumpkin, pears. So hearty and versatile. Soup really makes me feel like I'm a good person--eating it is relaxing, making it makes me feel resourceful and productive.

The other day, using what I'd zealously purchased from the farm, I made a batch of Butternut Squash soup. This is one of my favorites, in all its iterations. Last week I made a curried squash soup. This week, straight up, throwing in things that might work together.

3 or so cups of peeled, cubed butternut squash
2 shallots, minced
olive oil
apple cider vinegar
apple juice or cider
honey
salt and pepper
chicken or vegetable broth
butter

Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven. Add shallots, cook til translucent. Add vinegar and juice, then add squash, salt and pepper and honey (just a little). Cook a minute of two. Add broth to cover veggies, bring to a boil, then simmer, covered, for about half an hour. Take it off the heat, taste and readjust s and p, and use an immersion blender to make it smooth and unctuous (I love that word!).  Serve with a pat of compound butter (chive butter would be delicious here) or a swizzle of maple syrup or a dollop of Greek yogurt. Or just straight up out of the pot. Whatevs--it's your soup.

It's a simple one, but so delicious and satisfying. Dang, I love soup.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 20--A hobby of mine, and how it changed

Running. This is the only "hobby" into which I put any sort of real time. I do enjoy cooking, trying out new recipes and being an adventurous eater. But, well, I have a toddler. So, um, my experimentation in the kitchen is limited to finding food he'll actually eat. I'm not crafty, or artistic, or, well, hobby-tastic. I used to play the piano pretty well, I used to sing quite a bit. Shopping? Is that a hobby? If it is then I'm nearing pro-level (although, I've recently cut myself off, cold turkey).

So back to running. I ran in high school, quit, went to college, would periodically attempt to run again, was fat, quit, graduated from college, worked insane hours, joined a gym, made a new friend, ran with him, quit, got myself a real job--a career, one might say--and was asked to participate in the Corporate Challenge on my school's team.

Then I started running for real.

I actually ran the whole 3.5 mile race, and placed in the top two females for our school district. So, I signed up for some summer 5Ks, and, to my great amazement, started winning medals and trophies for placing in my age group. Like, pretty often. I started getting faster and training harder, and my times steadily got quicker.

This was about 10 years ago. I've made so many friends through running, and have logged about a billion miles alone and with these friends. I've learned there's little better way to get to know someone well than to spend an hour and a half huffing and puffing together. You find lots to talk about. I've run nearly every distance race, from 5K to the marathon. My favorite is the half marathon. My first half marathon was an eye-opener, but I learned how to pace myself to get faster and to actually race one, rather than just survive it. I haven't mastered that for the marathon yet.

Let's not kid ourselves. I'm not going to the Olympics, or setting any kind of records. But I do enjoy competing against myself, pushing to do better on races year after year. Sometimes it happens, sometimes not. My favorite time to run is the Fall, and my favorite races happen then, too.

When I found out I was pregnant with E, C and I went on a seven mile run together; it was Columbus Day, a Monday. I felt, well, different. And the whole time I kept saying, "Oh my god, I can't believe I'm pregnant!" I stopped running about four months in because my body just HURT. With Calla, though, I was coming off months of marathon training. I kept running, logging about 15 miles a week. I ran all the way to Thanksgiving--the Turkey Trot was my swan song. I was almost seven months pregnant, and that had been my goal. Also, immediately after Thanksgiving the weather turned to winter, so I decided I didn't want to risk slipping on the ice, even though I felt great still.

And then Calla died, and was born. I remember lying in the hospital bed, wishing I could run away. Run home. Run anywhere. After wondering how to survive, and how E was going to be, my first thought was, "When can I run again?"

I got the green light two weeks later, and it became my salvation. The only time I could escape my life, my head. I loaded up my iPod and just went. I started running with a new bunch of friends, every Saturday morning at 6:15AM. I figured, hell, I didn't have to be home to nurse a newborn, why not? And it really helped preserve what remained of my sanity.

That's not to say I enjoyed it. It was hard. My body was shot; my brain and heart were hurting. The few races I ran were slow and miserable. My bestie Mo helped me through and especially hard 5K--one run in memory of an infant who died from childhood cancer. And uh, I was pregnant and fighting wicked nausea the whole way.

Oh, right--remember how I got pregnant two months after Calla died? Yep.

So here we are. It's been over three years since I've been fit, or fast, or have run like my old self. But to be honest, the summer before I got pregnant with E, my running was losing emotion--I was running out of gas. Now that I've spent three years running while pregnant, running while nursing, running while grieving, running while overweight, I'm looking forward to getting back to the girl I was a short time ago.

I've learned a lot about my body and what's really important over these three years. It will be awhile before I'm fit, or fast, or race-ready or healed. But the time will come. And maybe I'll bring home another medal yet.

But. I'd gladly trade it all in for a healthy baby in a few weeks, for some peace, for a different outcome. Nothing can bring my little girl back, but I'm glad she was my running partner for many miles.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 19--A Talent of Mine

Um, zero? I mean, I can do lots of things. Nothing that's going to win me any contests. I can sing, I can make up funny voices to go along with stories, I can string words together to form sentences and even paragraphs. But nothing that's going to make anyone--even me--think, "Whoa! Take that show on the road!"

But speaking of roads, I do have an uncanny ability to remember directions after being somewhere only once. Doesn't matter where I am--out in the country, another state, another country. I remember how to get where I need to be, even if it's months or years later.

Well, except for Venice. That place is nuts. I got so supremely lost there, alone, at night. But it was a cool kind of lost. I figured as long as I stayed on the island I'd get back to my hotel eventually.

That and I can remember nearly every word to every song I've ever heard. Mostly.

I'd not call these things talents, but odd personality quirks, or unnecessary life skills acquired by living too much in my own head.

The end.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 18--Our Wedding

I recently unearthed the CD containing all the pictures from our wedding six years ago. All of them. Be afraid . . . there was much dancing. Lots of sweating. More on that later.

C and I met the day after I'd broken myself out of a seriously dysfunctional relationship. (Well, actually, we met that night.) Anyway. We met in a bar (ugh) but really, I was there with my bestie Mo, having dinener. I was lamenting that I'd never meet anyone, never get married, boo hoo boring hoo. So on my way to the ladies's room, C stops me, introduces himself and asks if I'd run in a race a few weeks earlier. I did, we chatted, he asked me to dinner. I told him about the breakup from a mere 12 hours before.

Now, this was only a few days before Thanksgiving, and I was planning to run the Turkey Trot before gorging myself on stuffing and pie. I told him if I saw him there, I'd give him my number.

Um, this race? Yeah, it's the oldest and longest-consecutively run race in the country. And it's huge. We're talking, that year, about 6000 runners.  So, the chances of me running into him would have to be left to fate.

We met up, I gave him my number, and almost two years to the day later we got married.

The day of our wedding in late November was a weather-wise anomaly. It was warm, sunny, and NOT SNOWING. Unbelievable.

The service at our lovely Unitarian Universalist church was tailored by us; we each picked a secret poem for each other, and had someone deeply meaningful to each of us read it. Mine was by Rumi, C's was "She walks in beauty like the night . . . " Then we had a couple read a poem to everyone gathered, from The Spoon River Anthology. I walked down the aisle to "My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose," by Robert Burns, sung by our amazing choir. The ceremony was our favorite part of the day.

A close second was our reception. Holy shit were there a lot of people there. All our families, most of our friends--those who could attend--and LOTS of friends of our parents. As in, "Hey, you! Thanks for coming . . . (whisper to C: who the hell is that?)!"

I was, I think, quite a low-maintenence bride. (Bridezillas make me want to puke.) My priorities for our reception were not focused on flowers, or table arrangements, or place settings or colors or any of that shit. It was the food and the dancing. I wanted everyone to eat, drink, and be as merry as they wanted, for as long as they wanted.  And oh, did we dance. And eat. C and I were exhausted by the end of the night, but were so happy that we, and everyone else, had a fun time. Exhibits A through . . . :







Um, did I mention my mother-in-law choreographed a dance for C and me, one which included a LIFT?! Yeah, I couldn't relax until that dance was over. But man, it was fun. I'm so glad I found these pictures. C and I take seriously the whole sickness-health-good times-bad vows. Good thing, because we've sure followed them to a T.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 17--A piece of art that moves me

I'm in a bad mood today. Just putting that out there before I post.

A piece of art that moves me is a dance my sister-in-law choreographed for her and my mother-in-law's dance school recital this past spring. She taught it to her advanced lyrical class. It was a dance for Calla. It was stunning. And I have the dvd in my hands and can't for the life of me get it either on my computer or into this post.

So, blergh. That's what it is.

Also, I have always loved "Christina's World" by Andrew Wyeth. C thinks it is depressing. I find it hopeful, and inspiring, and it makes me want to stop feeling sorry for myself. And, when I was little and a reproduction hung in my grandmother's house, I always thought it was a picture of my mom. I obviously didn't know the piece's backstory then.

Hoping for a better mood tomorrow. Off to snarl and gnash my teeth in solitude. Rowf.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Day 16--A Song That Makes Me Cry, Or Nearly

It was nice to sit with our little candle glowing away in the night. But it turns out, in my remembering, I'd forgotten lots of babies. Because I kept remembering more all through the night and this morning. Which made me increasingly sad, because there are just so MANY babies missing, families grieving. Names, memories popping to the surface of my mental Magic 8-Ball. And I'm sure as the days go on, I'll think of more.

It's totally not fair.

Day 16. Halfway through October. And choosing a song that makes me cry, or nearly, is pretty easy these days. Especially songs with well-crafted, intricate harmonies. Being the dutiful alto I am, I love to pick these apart as though looking for the caramel in the box of chocolates. (I am convinced the Beatles made me an alto.) I love to find the discordant note, the subtlest line of harmony and follow it to the end. There are so many: Fleet Foxes are geniuses here, but then again, so are the Beach Boys.  

But if I had to choose one, I'mma have to go back to the summer after graduating from college.

So, back in the spring of 19blahbiddyblah, I was finishing college with no real direction. It was a tough time for me, as I felt like I'd aimlessly drifted through meaningless coursework for the prior four years. I had no career prospects, no direction. My friends were mostly in long term relationships, some even engaged. I knew in a few short months I'd be leaving all my friends. They were on their own paths and, since we all came from far-flung cities, it was inevitable we'd lose touch. Their lives would go on without me being in their daily narratives, and mine without them. I felt like their paths were much more promising, fulfilling and intriguing than mine.

And then I met this manchild. It was a whirlwind of drama, a relationship into which I put much more heart, energy and meaning than he did. But he made me feel like my life could have some direction, a direction I'd been looking for and wanted so desperately. He told me he loved me and I drank that Kool-aid right the hell down.

And of course, he lived in my college's state, and I was moving back home. Doomed, I know.  Only I didn't know. I clung to this, now obviously, pseudo relationship as a way to hang on to a life I wasn't ready to leave.  When if finally, fantastically crashed and burned, I was living this ridiculous life at home. I was working a million shifts waiting tables, trying to lose all the pizza and beer weight I'd accumulated in college. I was making new friends in my hometown, where I felt more lonely than ever. I didn't know how to be an adult at home. I had no idea what I was going to do for a career. It was an insane summer.

What does this have to do with Calla? Well, nothing really. Except if my life had turned out differently this maybe wouldn't have happened? But then I wouldn't have all the wonderful things I DO have, and that would be terrible. Oh, that and the song.

So that summer I was driving this car that would eventually run itself into the ground. A few years later, after landing my first grown up career-type job, I'd push that old girl onto a car lot and get about 48 cents as trade-in value. But during that summer I'd make the ultimate break-up balm, mix tapes. Incessantly. And the one song that would just rip the band-aid off again and again was "Carry On," by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. I'd sing this at the top of my lungs; scream it, really. I knew every single note of that song, every line of harmony, trying to make my own. When they bust into the first "CAAAAARRY OON, LOOOOVE IS COMING! LOOOVE IS COMING TO US AAAALL!!!"--ooh, chills every.single. time.



So, again, what does this have to do with Calla? The very first line:

"One morning, I woke up, and I knew you were gone."

Gawd. I did. I really, really did. And this song still rips the bandaid, every single time.

Friday, October 15, 2010

October 15th

Please know if you're a DBM reading this, I'll be thinking of your little one tonight as we remember Calla, lighting a little candle and remembering. Probably crying, too, but remembering all the same.

There's so many, it makes my heart hurt.

Much love.

Day 15--What I Love About Our House

We moved here a year and a half ago.  I remember the day clearly when we found it. A cold, snowy January day, our first "official" trip around town to look for our new house. We'd been on and off looking for a year or so, just browsing. We'd put an offer in on another house about six months earlier; a test drive.  So this day was my first day back training for the marathon I'd eventually run in May. Those 8 snowy miles that morning wore me out--I was out of practice and didn't hydrate enough after. Looking for houses seemed exhausting.

But we walked into this house and instantly fell in love. At least I did. It had everything we could have wanted: huge kitchen, big yard, nice sized dining room, a large living room, ample bedroom space, big basement and attic for all our extra crap storage needs. And, unlike nearly every other house in our price rage, there wasn't anything we absolutely had to do immediately. We wanted it so, so badly. And, sadly, it was priced juuuuuust outside our budget. Sigh.

And then we went to see a huge monstrosity of a house with a sauna on the third floor. Shudder.

Cut to the chase, we offered the top of what we were willing to pay, which was still lower than the asking price, but our agent sat down with the owner and explained how much we loved this house. We weren't playing games, we just really wanted this house.

And she sold it to us.

So. What do I love about this house? So many things. I love our bay windows overlooking the backyard, especially the one that perfectly frames our older-than-the-house maple tree's trunk.  I love that I have more cabinet space than stuff. I love the skylight in the playroom. I love that we have room for our parlor grand piano. I love the built-in bookshelves.

I love that it felt like home as soon as we moved in.

I love that it is nearly across the street from the cemetery where Calla's stone is laid.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Day 14--A Non-Fiction Book

I just started getting into non-fiction a few years ago. I can't remember the memoir that got me started, but I've grown to really enjoy reading true stories. Well. As true as a story can be, I guess. depends on who's doing the telling.

So anyway, I had a tough time choosing a favorite. Non-fiction is such a broad brushstroke. And so, yet again, I've picked two. The first is The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I like his philosophy on food--eat close to the ground, local over imported, local over even organic, if it means organic is from thousands of miles away.

I read this book at a time in my life when I was in transition. I'd been a vegetarian for several years before I got married, and for a few years after. When we were getting ready for a trip to Italy I decided I couldn't go there and miss out on cingiale and prosciutto, or constantly explain in Italian that I didn't want meat in my food. So, I dropped the ball. But even though I'd incorporated meat back into my diet, I still wanted to be responsible about it. Let's face it: eating meat isn't exactly the environmentally responsible choice.

And this book helped me flesh out my own philosophy on responsible eating--while still maintaining my enjoyment for meals. Ergo our burgers aren't cheap, but I feel pretty OK about eating them.

The second is a book I recently finished titled Born To Run, by Christopher McDougall. This dude basically heads to Mexico to find a guy called Caballo Blanco--a legendary, off the radar runner who lives among the Tarahumara Indian tribe. This is in a seriously badlands part of Mexico where people routinely get lost--or rather, vanish--at the hands of drug cartels or the treacherous, labrynthine Copper Canyon.

Blah blah blah. This was a wicked awesome read, and made me feel some kind of faith in the strength of the human spirit. And it really made me want to go out running.  Dudes, check it out. Check both of these out.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Day 13--A Fictional Book, Redux

So way back on Day 4 I wrote about my excessive bookwormery and got into many of my favorites. But since Calla died, and my life has been, um, a complete unexpected whirlwind, I've been thinking quite a bit about one of my all time favorite books.

The Alchemist, by Paolo Cohelo. Damn, if this book doesn't teach about living in the moment, believing in what we already have, following your dream, and listening to the Universe. I haven't read it again, and it's been awhile since I read it the last time (of how many, I don't know). I think I'll pick it up again when the 3 (!) I'm reading now are done.

I'd highly recommend this book to anyone who is living any kind of life.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Day 12--Something I Am OCD About

This would be a better exercise to find something I'm not OCD about. Not that I have been diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. I don't quadruple check lights and locks, I wash my hands once per time at the sink, I don't perseverate or repeat phrases.

But I'm particular about many things. My CDs are organized alphabetically and chronologically within the artist's work. My shoes are arranged by color, occasion, heel height. My clothes all face the same way in the closet. Books are organized by author, topic, COUNTRY OF AUTHOR'S ORIGIN. Bills in wallet all face the same direction. You get the picture.

Basically, I like things to be in a certain order; I like to know where all things are at all times. This made my life just a teence difficult when E started playing with lots of different toys. "Where's the green matchbox dumptruck?" I'd search the house for some stupid little car--E didn't care where it was; I was the lunatic turning over cushions and peering under couches. And then I realized I needed to chill about that.

So what am I particularly obsessive about? Moreso than anything else? Waiting for, and feeling finally, this baby move. When I start to get anxious, I absolutely CANNOT concentrate on anything else. Hence the insomnia--waiting for a sleeping inside baby to wake up at 2am gets a little nerve-frazzling.

I figure this is one thing no one will roll their eyes at me for obsessing over. And if they do, they can eat a shit sandwich. (Burn!)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Day 11--A Recent Picture of Me and How it Makes Me Feel

There's not too many pictures of just me laying around these days. Mostly our camera is filled with pictures of E--as it should be--and those pictures are mostly taken by me.

Gosh I remember the old days, bringing my camera out with me when we'd go out. Oh, I had bazillions of pictures of me then. Crazy, sweaty, dancy, boozy pictures. Pictures that now make me thankful we didn't have FB way back then.

(Although, when I first joined FB one of my bestest friends from college posted some delightful, fat-faced, post-kegstand pics of me she'd found and scanned in. Cringe.)

Anyway. As I was saying, pictures of me now are few and far between. Mostly I don't enjoy looking at pictures of me. I don't like what back-to-back pregnancies have done to my body, nor what having my life turned inside out has done to my face. But here we are.

One that comes to mind was actually taken right before (the day after?) I became pregnant with Calla. I was running the Cleveland Marathon, and this picture was taken at the halfway point. Then, I was feeling happy, confident, thinking the Boston Marathon was well within my reach.

Glad there's no picture of me from Mile 22.

And here's one from a few weeks ago:
Different physique, different emotions, same mindset: let's make it to the finish line.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Day 10--A Photo of Me from Over 10 Years Ago

Sadly, there are no pics of me on my computer from over 10 years ago. I wasn't quite in the digital age back then, and right now all the old pics are buried in the basement. So scanning's a no-go, too. But I'll gladly paint a picture of my life from 10 years ago.

(Cue Conan O'Brien) In the year 2000 . . .

Oh jeez. I was a teence out of control. I was finishing up my Master's degree, waiting tables, teaching classes at a gym, teaching kindergarten . . . it was a little insane. And I still managed to find time to go out drinking til all hours of the night. I have many cringe-worthy memories from that time in my life. I was in transition from one unhealthy relationship to another.  I was living on my own in my first grown-up apartment. I was nursing a broken heart left over from college. I was driving a car that threatened me daily with a breakdown or parking ticket--or both. I was living on student loans. I was neither woman nor girl, a female in flux.

I'd not go back to that time in my life for all the bee's honey, but I wouldn't trade it in, either. Thankfully I did it then, so hopefully I won't have to do it again.

And I had no idea my life would look like it does now, but boy am I happy I'm here.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Day 9--A Photo I Took (After Our Loss)

This was my first kid-made mothers' day gift. C took E to a big-box home improvement store one Saturday and there was a kids' workshop going on. Planting flowers for Mom. E picked this purple one all by himself, potted it with some help, and was so happy to give it to me.

And later in the spring, we had our backyard redone. Concrete ripped out, beds put in, tons more grass laid down for playing. We'd ben planning this project since the previous Fall, but now I wanted to leave a space for a "girl garden." A little space where I could plant all the pink flowers I could round up. We planted an apple tree there, too, knowing the blossoms would be pink. I know it's cliche to have pink for girls, but it was to be all the pink we'd have.

Anyway, we got these wispy pink petunias and planted them all in the front of the garden. I decided to plant E's purple flower to me right in the middle. Kind of symbolically having both my babies out there together.

Unfortunately, there were a lot of factors against this garden. A blazingly hot summer, my black thumb, a crazy dog who thought nothing of tearing through the garden during a game of fetch.  Those petunias didn't stand a chance, and it made me feel even more like a jackass. But, amazingly, E's little purple flower lasted the longest.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 8--A Picture That Makes Me Sad

But first, an update. I was so freaking PISSED yesterday at my cat that I totally blew past my 100th post. Oh well, big whoop. I didn't have anything exciting planned, but still. The finger is sore, the arm that received the tetanus shot is sore, and the arm that received the IV of antibiotic is sore, too. But only 9.5 more days of antibiotics and this whole incident will be behind us!

Ugh.

Anyway. I have quite a few pictures that make me sad. More than I think any of us really deserve. And you know what kind of pictures I mean. After coming home from the hospital, after delivering Calla, I was in a weird, parallel universe. I'd just delivered our baby, and I had pictures, so, maybe I should share them? But wait, no, that's not right. The baby in the pictures is dead, and everyone else, who would normally be beaming and laughing and cuddling--they're all sobbing. So, hm. Maybe I should keep these to myself.

I did show a few people. I didn't know how to do it. "Do you want to see the pictures?" I'd ask. And then I felt weird--like that scene in "Stand By Me" where they go see the dead body. No one really wants to see it, but no one doesn't, either.

At least that was how I felt.

So I have another picture that, to me, is equally sad. It was taken by who knows who the day I came home from the hospital. The first picture with a little-girl-sized hole in it. The first day of the rest of our lives, I guess.  Fake smiles, exhausted, puffy faces, wishing to be anywhere but where we were, even though we were in our favorite place.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Seriously?!

OK, I am for reals pissed right now. Remember yesterday's post, when I was all, "ooh, my pets are my FAVORITE?!" Fuck that shit.

I mean.
I love my pets.
I do.

We have this one cat, she's a total bitch. I do not exaggerate or say that out of meanness. She is a jerk. Initially. Until you get on her good side. We got her off the street as a stray when C and I started dating. She hated me and loved C. Eventually she's learned to tolerate me.

My mother in law? Not so much. No one can quite figure out exactly what she has against her, but any time my mother in law comes over this cat freaks the hell out. And my mother in law is awesome! And a cat person!

So she came over today so I could run some errands E-free, and of course this cat starts in with her shit-ass attitude. She swiped at E as she nastily perched on the train table, so I picked her up to put her downstairs.

And then she bit the EVERLOVING SHIT out of my left index finger.

That's not to say my entire left hand and part of my arm aren't scratched up. But she really clamped down on my knuckle. (Damn, that hurt. I cannot overstate this fact.) But I cleaned it, put on a bandaid and went on my way.

Cut to this afternoon and I can't bend my left index finger, it's puffy and red, and hurts like a mofo.

I called my OB, they said since she's a housecat it should be fine, just keep the punctures clean. But then I called my GP and I have to go in and may have to have an ANTIBIOTIC.

As though I have nothing else to worry about right now. Totally not stressful, this is.

As I shake my head, because what else can I do, I wonder, WHAT THE FUCK?

Day 7--A Photo That Makes Me Happy

Happy 30th Birthday to me!

I really thought about this one. Since we entered the digital age late, we have no pictures from the first few years of our marriage on the computer. Or anywhere except for boxes and photo albums. And really, I'm no scanning whiz, so there they will stay.

Anyway, I chose two photos for today's post. The first one is obviously me next a ginormous cake. C really outdid himself for my 30th birthday a few years back. he had a huge surprise party for me at this cool shop on Elmwood, called Delish. It's a bakery and a cooking school. He rented out the part where classes are held, and my best friend, Mo, tricked me into thinking we were going there for class. When we showed up, all my friends and family were there. It was a pretty awesome night.

I think my adult life truly started at 30. I looked critically at what I was doing, where I was going, what I wanted. I kicked old, stupid habits to the curb for good (goodbye, binge drinking!) and started to focus on important things. My birthday is in February, and by this point C and I had been married for 2 and a half years. We had travelled quite a bit independently and together, remodeled our cute North Buffalo home to a comfortable point, enjoyed going out to dinner, had both completed marathons and half marathons and numerous other races. But we still weren't at the point where we were sure we wanted to have kids. We did, however, already have our dog and 2 cats.

By May I knew it was baby time---it suddenly clicked.

But we had another trip planned--this time to Paris that summer. It was my 30th birthday present, in a way, and we decided we'd start the baby-making process when we got back (TMI, I know. But hang in there).  And just a few months later, WHA-BAM, I was pregnant with E.

That Paris trip was one of my favorites. It was riddled with disaster, mind you. It took us 2 days and an overnight in both JFK and Reykjavic airports to get there. We got supremely lost while sleep deprived hours after settling into our apartment. C ended the trip with debilitating food poisoning, during which I may or may not have taken advantage of his incapacitation to shop solo for an entire day. (He needed an IV when we returned, as he'd tried to dehydrate himself for the trip home. It was ugly.)

But despite all those hurdles, we really had fun. We ate like crazy, drank lots of wine, walked, shopped, spoke French exclusively (me, not so much C). Every day started with pain au chocolat and a noisette for me, croissant and cafe for C. Oh, it was decadent.

A sort of adieu to our unattached, child-free existence. It was a fantastic send-off.

The picture below is of me, obvs, at a wonderful cafe in the Marais, right around the corner from the Picasso Museum. I'd been shopping while C was resting. He surprised me with flowers when we met up, and we proceeded to have an amazing lunch, ending with chocolate crepes. The likes of which I'd never before tasted, and have never since. Magic. Afterwards, as we made our way back to our apartment, we shopped for C, and I learned the word for cufflinks: boutons de manchette.

We got a kick and a cough out of the dude next to us. And we thought about all the times we must have been inadvertently featured in random people's vacation pictures. Makes the world seem a little smaller, and again, magical.

Ah, 30. You were a good year.
Dude, your cigarette. Blech.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Stress. Tests.

So I had the first NST today. Last week at my appointment my doc suggested I start coming in every week and get an NST at each appointment. Sign me up!

Non-Stress tests. So ironically named. But you know what? I'd sit in that quiet, dark room for the next 5 weeks, listening to his heartbeat and clicking off every movement in a hot second. Somehow, this stressful procedure calmed me. Because even when he wasn't moving, I knew he was alive. The whooshing of his heartbeat washed my anxiety away, if only for those 30 or so minutes.

And, it was nice and warm and dim, so I nearly fell asleep.

The receptionist keeps asking me if I want to make all my appointments for the rest of my visits. I put her off every time. I still can't bank on it. She asked today if I'll still be pregnant the week after next. I told her I hoped so.

And then there's the amnio and induction in the main tent of my life's circus. We sort of firmed up a date, and I refuse to entertain the possibility that the results with some back negative. Meaning we would have to wait another 2 weeks. Meaning my grip on sanity would come unglued. Can't happen.

But until then, I'm going to keep on keepin on. As best I can.

Day 6--20 Things

So today's thought is to list 20 of my favorite things. Let's see. In random order:

1. New books
2. Gelato
3. Checking on E right before I go to bed, when he's asleep
4. Getting (good) mail and packages
5. High heeled shoes
6. Running
7. C's wedding ring on his hand
8. Seeing my friends
9. Going to bed and staying asleep
10. My pets, especially when they are well behaved :)
11. Baking bread
12. Hosting parties
13. Doing the laundry (really!)
14. Purging my closet/changing the clothes for the season
15. Watching E dance and sing
16. Feeling this baby kick after worrying that he won't
17. Travelling
18. Chocolate chip cookies
19. The first red leaves of Fall, and the first green shoots of Spring
20. Date nights with C

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day 5--A Favorite Quote

In high school we used to keep notebooks full of quotes. Lots of Indigo Girls and Tori Amos lyrics were in there, I'm sure. Our yearbooks overflowed with these phrases, interspersed with silliness of our own uttering.

Lately I've paid not a whole lot of attention to quotes. I read them, internalize them, and immediately forget who said what to whom and where and for why.

What I have heard, a billion times over since Calla died, is platitudes. Do these count as quotes? Clearly SOMEONE was the first to say, "Everything happens for a reason," or "It will get better."

I remember sitting in my hospital bed, waiting to deliver our dead daughter. So many times I wanted to scream "WHY ME?!?!?" But I couldn't. It just didn't make sense. Because to me, WHY ME? implies WHY ME AND NOT SOMEONE ELSE? And really, who would wish this grief, pain, sadness, emptiness on anyone?

Words that stick to me are usually the most simple of phrases. Maybe it's because I can't remember an entire sentence, or maybe that's all I can handle in my brain.

"Just Do It."
"It Is What It Is."

These two phrases have played over and over in my head on steady rotation for months now. JDI is how I have to live my life. I have no choice. One foot in front of the other, on and on, slow and steady. But I have to just do it. I don't have to like it. And IIWII is the answer to all my WHY'S? It just is. There doesn't have to be a reason other than it is what it is and was what it was.

Not exactly inspiring, but right now they are my words to live by.

Day 4--A Favorite Book

Like so many other DBMs out there, the book that really pulled me through the fire was Elizabeth McCracken's An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination. I remember tearing this book out of the paper wrapper from the mail, sitting on the kitchen floor, and reading nearly all of it in about two hours. I couldn't get enough.

It was only weeks after Calla died, and I felt like this woman, this stranger, was writing my exact life. (Well, except we weren't living in France. And we're not writers. And lots of other little things.) Anyway, this book was like a life raft, thrown out to drowning me. I'm not trying to be overly dramatic here, but I felt like reading this book helped save my life. At least, my emotional well-being. After I finished it I immediately read it again. I wish I could show Ms. McCracken my gratitude for so eloquently, perfectly, painfully committing to writing my exact emotions.

I really have always been a bookworm. From my childhood straight through adulthood I have found solace in books. These days I usually have 2 going at once, sometimes 3. What I read varies, but I've started to enjoy non-ficton more in the past few years. I tend to read everything by one author in a row--right now I'm on a Richard Russo kick. For awhile post-college it was John Irving. In high school my go-to author was Tom Robbins. Jitterbug Perfume is one of my all-time favorite books. I spent a few years catching up on literature I either skipped over or just plain didn't read in high school or college: lots of Dumas, Hugo, Dostoyevsky, Balzac. I've always loved deeply Toni Morrison and James Baldwin.

I am not someone who HAS to finish a book I start. I've been known to throw a book across a room and turn my back on it forever (hello, Life Touches Life!). Bill Bryson is one of the few authors who has made me laugh so hard, out loud, to the point of convulsive tears, that C has woken from a dead sleep wondering what the hell I was doing.  Some books make me wish I could go back in time and read them for the first time all over again--Les Miserables and The Book Thief come to mind immediately.

Clearly, I could go on and on and on. There's a lifetime of books both behind and ahead of me. How delicious is that thought?

Sometimes it's just easier to escape into a book than it is to deal with real life.