Sunday, January 31, 2010

At any given moment . . .

. . . you can catch me feeling one of the following ways:
*left out
*happy? (or maybe bemused--yes, bemused is a better choice)
*ready to punch a fist through a wall

When people ask how I'm doing, I usually say, "OK, minute to minute," or some other such nonsense. But really, any one of the aforementioned adjectives would fill in the blank. How am I doing? That, my friends, is a loaded question, with an equally loaded answer to follow. Let "OK" stand for what you will.

Last night E was up. ALL. NIGHT. LONG. Like, newborn up. Except that when he was an actual newborn, he was never up like that. He'd wake, cry, nurse, sleep. This could happen several times a night or only once, but he has always been a boy who likes his sleep. He plays hard and sleeps hard, and never the 'twain shall meet.

Not last night. It was a marathon--an ultramarathon, actually. From 11PM 'til 6AM, C and I pulled every trick out of our bag, and then made up some more. Nothing was getting this kid to sleep. During a brief respite in crying, E was asleep on my chest, down on the couch. In from of the television. And in my sleep-deprived stupor, I couldn't help but think that this is how my life is supposed to be right now.

Except there's supposed to be an actual newborn keeping us awake all night. E's one night (fingers crossed!) of sleeplessness reminded me of how drastically our immediate future has been changed.

It's the last night in January. Thankfully. Let this horrific month come to an end, please. Except the end of January means the beginning of February.

And my due date.

And my birthday. Which happens to be my due date.

And for nearly the past year I've been looking forward to, eagerly anticipating, wondering about and waiting for February.

All I want is to fast-forward through this month. The networks have all been counting down to something (yes, I watch a lot of TV. Sue me.)--the Winter Games in 10 days! Season premiere of Lost in one week! Valentine's Day and Presidents' Day sales!

Those countdowns used to be mine, too. At any given moment, chances are, somewhere inside, I'm feeling like crap.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Really For Real

One of the nicest, most empathetic things anyone has said to us came from a good friend. She told me, "MB, Calla was real to us."

I don't know if I can adequately explain why that means so much to me. Obviously, I was pregnant with a real baby. Obviously, Calla was alive inside me. Obviously, she was going to be born, eventually.

OK, that last one was optimistic. I get that now.

But a baby living inside her mother hasn't yet been formally introduced to the world. Everyone is curious to know her, meet her, kiss and hug and hold her--certainly. C described the difference between a mother's love and a father's love like this: a mother begins her bond at conception, has a 9 month head start on everyone else. That love gets galvanized in pain when the baby is born. A father's love truly begins with holding, and rocking, and physically BEING WITH the baby. While he loves the baby, of course, their bond begins after birth.

This little world Calla and I shared was quiet, inward, secret. No one knew her like I did. When I read and sang to E, she would wriggle and squiggle in response. She loved when I ate chocolate. She kept me company on miles and miles of runs. Calla was my little sidekick (no pun intended, I guess).

While I realize our loss is different from any other--different from a miscarriage, which has its own grief and pain, different from losing a child who'd been born alive, lived part of his or her life--it is still the loss of a child. Calla was here. She was alive and real, even if no one else really knew her. C and I, and E and our families and friends, loved her already. We'll remember her always.

Why do I even feel like I have to explain this? Maybe it's because I'm afraid that as time passes, and life eventually goes on its merry way, my memory will fade. I will begin to question whether it was real, whether I really had her. Maybe it's because I'm afraid people will judge me for still being sad, years and years later.

I'm afraid that when someday, you look at me and see me smile, you'll think, "Whew! Glad she got over all that!"

No one tells you how this is supposed to work. But knowing that Calla was real, and that people know it, acknowledge it, remember it, makes me feel a little more normal.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sitting, Waiting

While pregnant, both times, I kept myself fairly active. Busy. The first go-round I ran for a while, then kept it all yoga, all the time. The second time I ran for nearly 7 months. I ran in races--heck, it's possible I was pregnant when I ran the marathon back in May. My swan song was the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving. The calendar turned to December, and the weather clicked into winter.

I wasn't going to risk falling, so I, um, abandoned all exercise. For nearly 2 months.

I settled in to a daily routine of sitting on the couch. It wasn't the most cardiovascularly challenging routine, but HEY! I was pregnant. Give a sista a break.

And now I'm not. And still, here I sit.

I've been thinking a lot about the past two-and-a-half or so years. When I finally got pregnant the first time, I waited and waited for E to arrive--actually, I waited longer than I thought I would. He was 10 days late. Small potatoes, I now realize.

Shortly after E's arrival, I began training for a marathon. And nursed. And waited for the spring to run said marathon and then--hopefully--be pregnant again. Lo and behold, the plan happened. And from the spring through the fall and winter, I waited some more for our second baby to arrive.

That didn't turn out quite how we'd planned. We ended up waiting and waiting for things we never wanted to wait for.

And now I'm not. And still, here I sit.

It's been a long time since I was a girl without something happening. I hadn't planned on being here for another year or so. But here I am, still waiting. All I can do is wait, remember, think. I started Calla's baby book this summer. I'm waiting to be ready to get it out and finish it. That's kind of irrelevant to how I'm feeling right now, I know. I feel like my whole life is up in the air. The job I thought I'd have another year to put on hold--they're going to come calling soon.

Grumble. Sigh.

And on another note, it's a hard pill to swallow to know our baby girl would have been born, perfectly normal and healthy, if this hadn't happened. Forehead, meet the wall.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nothing's Better Than Something, Right?

So here's the lowdown from MoTown:


C and I met with my doctor today. She was awesome--explained EVERYTHING that happened and could have happened and tests that happened to us, leaving no stone unturned. Answered all of our questions, offered guidance and support. Basically none of the tests--autopsy, genetic tests, pathology--have shown any reason for Calla to have died. There are still a few parts that have to come back--placenta pathology, for example (at least I think that's what she said)--that could reveal some answers. But overall, nada.


So, if this mysterious NOTHING hadn't happened, then I'd be still pregnant, or holding my baby girl right now. Weird. It's amazing how in these modern times, we know so much but still know so little. The human body has a way of doing its thing, despite modern medicine.

I'm kind of oversimplifying things here. I'm not so great at remembering details and nitty-gritty. I was basically waiting to hear what I needed to hear, and then let C absorb all the rest.

It wasn't the bacon. It wasn't the anti-bacterial cream. It wasn't an infection or virus or undercooked meat. It wasn't the worry that I wouldn't, couldn't be a good mother to two children. It wasn't the worry of getting two kids into the car and around the grocery store. It wasn't the running. It wasn't any of these things that I control in my life. It was . . . out of my control.

So, moving forward, there appears to be no increased risk of this happening again. So far. Tell that to my already-neurotic-worrywort brain. When we're ready, we're ready. Barring any major issues from outstanding tests, it's an eventual green light.

But still I'm sad. How can nothing take away everything?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Four Words and Tomorrow

We're firming up our cemetery plans. Although we are not scattering Calla's ashes at Forest Lawn, we did purchase a plot and a marker in a beautiful spot. If you're familiar with Forest Lawn in Buffalo, you might know the spot. There's a hill towards the Main Street side, the highest spot in the cemetery. There's a white, abstract-ish statue of an angel pulling a person skyward at the top of the hill. That's where. On the hill, amid some young trees.

I like that spot--as much as I can like any spot there. We've spent countless hours running through the cemetery, training for race after race. We live practically across the street. Several times while walking through with Eliot, we've seen children playing on the hill. That makes me smile---to know there will be kids there, playing, keeping Calla company.

I know she's not really there. But it will be a place where I, we, can go and remember.

We chose a marker, and on it we could put four words. Four words--aside from Calla Valentina Scott, aside from her birthday. How can I sum up everything she means to us in four measly words? I can't scratch the surface of how much I love her, miss her, want her here with us. I can't begin to explain the hopes and dreams I held in my heart. Four words? May as well be zero.

In the end we chose these: "Beloved daughter, sister, friend." Not nearly enough--a metaphor for the time she was inside me, with me, living.

On a different note, we go to my doctor tomorrow. I'm awaiting this visit with equal parts excitement and dread. We may leave there tomorrow with no more resolution than we have today. But at least I can touch base with someone who was there, to remind me that, no, this wasn't all a dream--rather, it wasn't just a nightmare. It was, indeed, real.

I'm scared. When Calla was born, there were no apparent cord issues, no placenta issues. I'm scared it was something more--something genetic, something really, really bad--something that will make the doctor look at me and tell me what I fear most: don't even think of trying again, girl.

Because right now, that hope of moving forward, of--of what?! Certainly not a replacement, or a quick fix. But of a possible number Three--this one with a different outcome--that's what's keeping me going. I need that hope--you don't know how much I need it. And I'm really, really afraid of getting it yanked away yet again.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Son of a bitch, is it really still JANUARY?

Fair Warning

A note of caution: sensitive readers may be offended by the following post. I am pissed and sad and crazy mad and having a really bad day. Prepare, ye, for a few F-bombs.

Fuck, you Duggar Family. Who do you think you are, hogging all the good baby-making mojo? And you, Jon and Kate--you two can kiss my fat ass. How dare you make a spectacle of your family and your--boohoo--8 perfect kids? Go fuck yourselves.

I am really effing mad today. And really, really sad. I feel like I'm sitting here, spinning my wheels, while the rest of the world goes on and on and on. Tra la fucking la. I am sick of being magnanimous and strong and positive. I'M SICK OF IT! I'M MISERABLE, GODDAMMIT!

I hate that I might not have any answers to all my questions. I hate that I have to sit here and wait, helplessly, for answers that may never, ever come. I hate that we may get an answer that could change our future forever. I hate that I have to force myself to eat. I hate when I get impatient with my beautiful, perfect son. I hate that I'm becoming obsessed with the Internet, blogs, stories about people I don't know and, quite frankly, never wanted to know about. I hate that I have a head full of "what ifs" and "maybes" and thoughts of an uncertain future. I hate being sad all the time. I hate that I have a daughter who died. I hate that she will never be more than a memory, I'll never hear her laugh or her voice, or get to smell her and clothe her and love her as a growing little person. FUCKING A I hate this.

And I hate that I can be rational, and find the positive, and know the world is bigger than me and my problems. I just want to be selfish and small and weak, for now.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our Little Man

I can't jump off the roof. I can't run out into traffic. I can't empty the contents of the medicine cabinet down my gullet. I can't because I'm still a mom and a wife and a daughter and a friend and a person. But mostly because I'm a mom.

I don't pin all my hopes, dreams and happiness on Eliot. But he needs me, and I need him. He's 19 months old and doesn't know any of the sadness his father and I feel, thankfully. From the minute I hear his little voice in the monitor at 6 AM ("Mommy, Daddy, where are you?") to the minute I lay him in his crib at bedtime, he needs us.

He needs us to chase him, tickle him, read to him, turn the channel ("teebee--on!" and "Teeee-OH" and "Elmo!"), build houses and forts, hide, seek. He needs his snacks ("Bunnies? Cup?") and his meals and his baths.

We needs his laughter, his smiles, his cute little voice, his hands, his kisses, his screams, his energy. Without him, I'm sure life would be a whole different, darker place. He gives us joy every day, a gift he gives without thought.

I know most certainly without him this would be so very impossible to endure. Just another reason on the pile of why and how I love him so.

Food, inglorious food

Ugh. I just can't eat. I've discovered a way to drop 25 pounds in a week, although I wouldn't recommend it.

I love food. Christopher is a "eat to live" kind of guy--he's amazed at my "live to eatedness." I love to cook, sniff, taste, talk about and shop for all things gastronomical.

Those days are gone for now. I have been choking down all the wonderful treats people have brought us, because I have to be able to do things like walk and think. But given a choice I'd rather leave the food to rot and just not nourish my mean old body.

Quite frankly, I'm mad at my inner workings. What the hell were you doing, uterus--sleeping on the job? How could you let my tiny, defenseless baby die? It was YOUR job to keep her safe, hold her, protect her. You really let me down, bod. We've been through some tough times before, but this is beyond anything I'd thought you capable. Are you still mad at me for making you run the marathon? Is this payback for all the bad things I've ingested, inhaled in the past?

I know I have to eat. If I want to move forward in my life, in my family's life, I have to be nourished and healthy and whole. I need to look at mealtime as preparation, training for the future. But damn, that food's not going down easy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Just feeling kinda lonely today. In a strange kind of lonesome way--I don't want to be around anyone, per se, but I am feeling kind of left out of life at the moment. I think this is just reality settling in, the adrenaline wearing off, the caffeine going kaput.

The night before the shit hit the fan, Christopher, Eliot and I had a prenatal/maternity/family photo session. We wanted some pictures like the ones we took when I was pregnant with Eliot. This time we got some cute ones of Eliot kissing my belly, all of us laughing and smiling and just being a family together. We were happy, providing proof for a future sibling that we were waiting and waiting for her arrival.

I got the link to the photos in my email 2 days later--and today I clicked on that link. The pictures were gorgeous. All of us so happy and just, well, EXCITED! My giant belly with the popped-out belly button, Eliot's little hands on my stomach, kissing his sister through my shirt. Christopher holding me, cradling my stomach.

We'll buy some of those pictures. I want them. They are some of the only pictures we have of me pregnant with Calla. I want to remember how happy we were waiting for her arrival. I want Eliot to see them and one day understand his sister was once here, waiting for him to be her brother.

I am lonely in the quiet stillness of naptime. I miss my little baby who used to keep me company. Oh Calla. Why?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Youth: The Cure-All

Let me just put this out there: people are really, really nice. And there are no great words to say to us right now, I completely understand. Were I on the outside of my situation looking in, the best I'd be able to come up with is "I'm sorry," which-- believe me--is perfect.

Here's the BUT: But why have I been "consoled" the past 2 days with "You're young."

HUH?! I'm--gulp--YOUNG?! What the hell does that have to do with anything?

First of all, I'm not young--not in my 20's anyway, which, I suppose, is prime Fertile Myrtle time. But second of all, WHA?!?! It's OK to give birth to a baby who's not alive if you're young, and thank god I'm not OLD?!

Now, I know. I know. I'm being a bitch. I'm reading too much into a comment that's meant to be kind. Christopher tells me it's a generational thing--the older ladies have been there, done that, bought the stillborn T-shirt a million times over in their day.

But really, come on. It's not about me being young and, yippee, I might have a few more grains of sand in my child-bearing hourglass. We lost our BABY--and telling me I'm young and can try again--though possibly a valid point--completely discounts our sense of loss and cheatedness.

I'd never go to a funeral for someone's Grandpa and say, "Well, at least he was good and old," would you?

Arrrgh, I'm so being a bitch. No one has the right words, no one can undo what's happened. People are being kind and wonderful to us, more than I could have ever imagined people to be. I'm the one who needs to get a grip and realize words are sometimes hard to come by. No one means us any ill will or emotional distress.

And yes, it does help to hear stories of others that have happy endings despite the screamingly horrible middle. So maybe that's what the ladies are saying: have hope, young girl. Despite the sadness and tears always have hope.

We do.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Time Keeps on Tickin'

Wegmans. The tailor shop. Perfectly mundane errands. Except I am no longer my same old self. Who is this crazy person performing these pedestrian chores?

I had to get out of my house. Yesterday we took Eliot and Cosmo for a walk--an abbreviated version of our neighborhood travels. And damn, was it strange. Believe it or not, the outside world HAS NOT STOPPED FOR US! Same old at the coffee shop, same old at the bookstore, ditto at ETS and the bank and the bus stop. Huh.

I really don't believe myself to be the center of the universe. But for the past week or so I've not left the walls of my house, have watched the news without listening, haven't so much as glanced at a newspaper. So you can understand how I felt as though I was emerging from a cave into a strange new world. (Earthquake in Haiti? How terrible! Does anyone know about this yet?)

The last time I was out there, I was blissfully unaware of the future in which I'd soon be existing. I was a big bellied mama, loud and proud. That's the thing about being 8 months pregnant--it's out there for all to see, a billboard of fertility and possibility.

Who the heck have I become? What do I do now? I am at a bit of a loss as to where I fit in out in the real world. I do not want to become that preachy, "Kiss your kids because you never know . . ." type. Nor do I want to be the person who can't be invited to a baby shower or meet new members of families, or someone who cries at Pampers commercials. Ugh. I am afraid of becoming a pariah because I make people sad.

So I just decided to jump in with two feet. Do I WANT to go out an face all this crap? Hell,no. I want to go back to bed and get up in about 50 years. But that's crazy (tempting, but crazy). I went for a walk. I looked at people as best I could. I went to Wegmans. I bought the groceries.

I went to the tailor shop. The last time I was there they were fitting me for a dress for Tim--my brother's--wedding. A giant dress to accommodate my growing self. Today the kind Italian lady asked how my holidays were and I told her about our recent sadness. She was sad, too. But then she told me how her family from Palermo had been in for Christmas, and how they got to see snow for the first time. And the moment came and went.

Ahh. It will be a challenge, for awhile. But time will go on, we will go on, life will resume it mundaneness. And underneath it all there will still be sadness, grief, wondering, remembering. But the memory of Calla, our special, secret life together, will be there, too. And that will help make it OK.

Monday, January 18, 2010

All Weird, All The Time

We went to the cemetery today. Totally bizarre. The business of being buried is definitely a booming one. We are not burying Calla--went the cremation route--but are purchasing a plot with a "cenotaph."

Are you as freaked out by that last paragraph as I am? Christopher and I now know WAAAAY more about cemetery stuff than I ever thought I would, especially at the ripe old age of 32. (Or am I 33 yet? Can't remember.) It's such a strange business. We had an appointment with Mili, our Family Consultant (or whatever) who has been very nice and business-like with us. We had to wait a few minutes, and got to listen in on another sales rep discuss prices and plots over the phone. No prices, though, reflect "the discount." And oh, if the caller would like, there's a plot available by the creek right by " . . . Rick James. You know, the singer? It's a beautiful spot."

Weird, right?! (Oh boy, how did Rick James [BITCH!] get dragged into my life like this?)

We laypeople take our lives and the living at face value--not so in the cemetery world. My list of not-for-me jobs grows longer by the day.

Speaking of weird, or strange, or just WHATEVER, that's exactly how I've been feeling lately. I vacillate between being super-charged miserable, strangely normal, and emotionless. I guess this is how it goes for awhile, maybe for always. Ach.

Even more weird? I can't turn off my brain. I grieve for my little Calla, want her more than anything. My little girl I so dearly and secretly hoped for, barely daring to think pigtails and ruffles and raising a strong, confident, kind girl might lie in my future.

But I also know our family isn't yet complete. I can't help but hope for the future, wonder if there's another baby for us--a sibing for Eliot, a son or daughter for Christopher and me. I can't stop wondering and hoping and crying and remembering--my Type-A brain in the blender.

For now time will help sort it all out, and where hurt and despair now live, maybe soon there will be room for hope.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Shopping, stuff, whatevs

I ventured out to the mall today. Needed to get out into the world. Needed to see and feel and touch random stuff. As though shopping for anything could even begin to fill the hole blasted through my chest. (Although I did pick up a pair of electric blue strappy heels I've had my eye on for months. Meh. So what.)

A small victory: I didn't cry. Apparently Sunday is "bring-your-baby-to-the-mall" day--I guess I had forgotten. All the little baby girls in their pink strollers really didn't make me sad. I guess it was because they weren't mine--I wasn't seeing my little baby girl. Now, walking past the cute baby girl clothes on the racks, in the stores--that was a little rough. That led to thinking of the future that can't, won't, be.

But it was OK. For today.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

This is Normal?

Tired. So very, to-the-bone weary. We are trying to adjust to this alternate reality that is our new normal. We are so blessed with amazing people in our lives who have been comforting and feeding us, keeping the ship afloat, so to speak. But what happens next?

My days are spent as a zombie. I feel as though the top of my head's been removed, and somehow my entire body has been filled with concrete. The little sparkly candle that was my personality has been snuffed out, leaving me faking the smiles and, occasionally, a laugh. My wonderful, amazing, fabulous husband tells me that if I go through the motions enough, someday they will be real. I have to believe him.

"The Girls" have been working overtime all week, ready to feed a baby who is gone from me. I've had to send them packing, back to the unemployment line, but they aren't going without a fight.

My little boy has been his bubbly little boy self, and for that I am grateful. He still laughs and plays and expects his stories read. I can't imagine life without him. Every morning as I lie in bed, mustering the courage to actually get out of it, I can hear his laughs and loud voice downstairs. He draws me to him like a magnet.

But being strong has its drawbacks, too. I would mostly prefer to be strapped to my bed, an IV of whiskey in one arm and morphine in the other. I don't want to be able to get dressed and get in the car and pick up my baby's ashes. The little body I was supposed to cradle in my arms is contained in an urn the size of an egg, which I can hold in just the palm of my hand. I don't want this. I wake up each morning holding her little hat from the hospital, the only physical, concrete item I have. Every time I look at myself in the mirror and see the salty trenches down my face I want to pound my head against the wall.

But I can't.

The new normal really sucks right now. Soon I will have to go to the grocery store, the Co-op, the drycleaners, the bakery. I will have to answer the well-meaning inquiry: "Did you have the baby?" I've tried to put the word out to as many people as possible so that when our face-to-face time comes, I don't have to say it out loud.

I want to feel something, anything, other than sad, or mad, or scared. I want my little girl, my beautiful Calla, here with me. I want Eliot to meet and know and love his little sister. I want my husband to have his little "Daddy's Girl." But all the wishing and wanting in the world won't make it so.

I have my beautiful little family. I have to still be a wife and a mother. I have to exist in this world. The real world is still real, still there. I don't have a choice in any of this. But I can choose to love my husband, my son, my family, my friends, strangers, neighbors. I can be present and kind, and someday, I hope, at peace. The new normal is a bizarre place right now, it's hard and rough and sad. But life, as a whole, is good.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Kindness of Others

I used to be a total cynic. There was hardly a way for me to believe anyone cared about anyone else in this world. Close family and friends aside, I thought myself to be inconsequential to another human. As quick as a wink I learned just how deeply we are all intertwined.

The recent loss of our baby daughter, Calla, has left me an intellectual zombie. Going on emotional autopilot for days has given me a temporary reprieve from reality. But all around me are amazing people who hold me and my family up when all I want to do is collapse.

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law stayed nearly an entire weekend, with their your girls, at our house with our toddler Eliot. A huge disruption of their lives was endured without a blink of an eye. Our parents, my brother and sister-in-law, spending nearly an entire weekend in the hospital, waiting, watching, crying, consoling us and one another. My sister-in-law racing to get to the hospital to be with us--all these people who love us, pressing the "pause" button right along with us, telling us how much they love us. How can I ever say enough "thank yous?"

Our dear, beloved Reverend Joel Miller spent the night with us when Calla was born. He blessed her, dedicated her, named her with and for us. A man with a family and obligations of his own--at a moment's notice with us, comforting us. "Thank you" can't quite cut it.

Again, our wonderful families--feeding us, keeping the house running, entertaining Eliot and playing endless rounds of the "HIDE!" game. My conservative, stoic father-in-law heading to Wegmans for--of all things he never thought he'd buy for his son's wife--maxi pads. All this done as though it were a regular day of the week. Really, "thank you" is all I can think of?

Through the miracles of modern social networking I have received so many messages of condolences and comfort. I posted our experience as an end to my frequent pregnancy updates, and what I received as a response has been nothing short of astounding. People I haven't spoken to in many, many years, new friends, old friends, acquaintences, even strangers have offered words of comfort, shared sadness and hope. It amazes me that so many people would even care enough to write a simple "I'm sorry" or a long note--what have I done in my life to deserve such kindness?

I know time will pass and our pain will soften around the edges. The solid core of hurt will never fully fade, but all the kindness of others will help us see our way through.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Calla Valentina

I knew on Friday morning something was wrong. I spent all day waiting for the baby inside me to start its usual dance routine, but after a full day of feeling next to nothing, deep down I knew.

We ended up going to the hospital at 11PM on the coldest night of the year. I brought along my measly-packed hospital bag just in case, but "in case" of what I had no idea. A nurse ran the Doppler over my swollen belly, searching for a heartbeat. At one point she took my pulse to see if the beats matched--and they did. After a sonogram by a junior resident, we knew for sure: our little baby was no longer alive inside me.

I screamed and sobbed,"This isn't real! This isn't real! What do I do now?" My husband beside me held me, rocked me, and let me know that it was, indeed, real. And really happening to US. The worst thing I could think of was now our immediate nightmare. What had I done? How did this happen? Why US? Why anyone, ever? We were given no answers, as there possibly could be none to give. While no one deserves this, it nevertheless happens.

My doctor arrived and told us I'd have to deliver this baby soon, so we decided to stay there and jump right into it. Little did I know what would happen over the next 36 hours. No one, not one woman, goes into her pregnancy thinking about her labor day entailing funeral homes and final resting places for her baby. We fear the physical pain, we decide where our babies will be born, we plan for life after delivery. We don't anticipate coming home from the hospital empty-armed with hearts broken.

Over the next 24 hours I was admitted, given IV fluids galore, pricked, prodded, and poked, and my body was encouraged to start labor. By the time I was induced at 2:15 on Saturday, it felt as though we'd been in that room for a lifetime. We were there through several shifts of nurses and doctors, all of whom were so incredibly kind and sympathetic I could hardly bear to look at them.

One by one my parents, inlaws, brother and sister-in-law, and pastor came to comfort us. The sadness in their faces matched mine, and I couldn't help but feel as though I'd caused their pain. They spent almost as much time in the hospital as we did. They were doing their best to support and care for us while nursing their own hurts and grief at the same time.

The anticipation of labor is a double-edged sword. On one side, the reality of the physical pain it produces makes me shudder, but the sweet joy of a brand-new baby on the other side of it is blissful. This time I would endure great physical pain, only to have our baby immediately taken from us. I could hold the baby, but could not take the baby home with us. She was already gone.

One of my blood tests revealed my platelet counts were low, and further tests showed the numbers dropping. This meant an epidural for pain management was a dangerous choice. A morphine drip offered my only comfort during round after excruciating round of back labor contractions. The final stages of labor were so intense I howled like a wild animal, sobbed, screamed and worked harder than I ever had in my life.

Our baby girl, Calla Valentina arrived at 10:15 on Saturday night. January 9th. Her birthday. 36 weeks into my pregnancy. From her black curly hair, to her rosebud mouth, to her tiny fingers and toes, she was perfect. She was big, 5 pounds and 4 ounces. She was beautiful. The cord and placenta were intact and perfect, too. The answers I so primally craved eluded me upon delivery. There was not one apparent reason she didn't make it.

While pregnant with Calla, I wondered how I could share my already-full heart with another child. I knew that night, instantly, how huge my heart could expand. And instantly all its pieces were shattered on the floor. All the times in my life that I thought had been sad were nothing compared to this. THIS was utter sadness and despair.

I held Calla, kissed her, examined her, talked to her. She looked like a little doll in my arms. I watched as our families and close friends sobbed, held her, and loved her too. I openly and loudly wept from the deepest part of my soul, feeling both empty and alone, and so incredibly blessed. I sobbed, "My little girl! I just want to keep her!"

Calla Valentina, our little girl. Instantly loved and missed. We might never have the answers to why she was taken from us. But she was with us. We love her. We miss her already. She is a part of our lives, a daughter and sister, a granddaughter and niece and friend we will never forget. She was my baby, if only for a short time.