Sunday, February 28, 2010

Another one down . . .

. . . and tomorrow it will be March. As in, spring might be near. As in, time marches on. As in, February has come and gone and here we still are and we made it through. As in, only ten more months of this abomination we are calling 2010.

The memorial went as well as I could have hoped--so many friends there in body and/or spirit. I made it through without totally losing my mind, and I think we gave our little girl a good introduction and farewell to the world. At one point I had to get a major grip---the marquee in my brain read: "The Funeral For My Daughter." This was, in that moment, a funeral. I nearly freaked. I admit, I was on the lunatic fringe for a moment or two--and then it passed. Thankfully.

I definitely will not say this brings closure. I don't know that there ever will be "closure," nor do I think I want this to be a closed case. The memorial was one more "thing" to get through. One more event on the calendar, one more chance to face the music. It was, well, good. It was the least we could do for our little baby. Time marches slowly, benignly on.

Someday I'll share the story I wrote for Calla. Maybe here, maybe there. Maybe I'll keep it as my little secret. I hardly remember reading it aloud to our gathered friends and family, but I know that I did. And although my personal beliefs do not include a white-puffy-clouded heaven, I hope that somewhere, somehow, Calla heard my story, heard our voices, knows . . .

Man, this is HARD. And if I stop to think about it for too long . . . well, let's just say there are some dark places I can get to. As sad as this weekend was, I think there was a spot or two of--well, if not happiness, then maybe peacefulness. And little dab or two of an "it's-going-to-be-ok" from the universe.

I can't really ask for much more these days.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Say what?

So it's been quiet around here lately. I've been saving all my words for the memorial service on Saturday. How the heck am I going to do this? What exactly am I to say?

It's difficult to eulogize someone who barely had a life, let alone one that hardly included anyone else but C, E and me. I don't want it to sound like it's all about me--it's actually not about me at all. But Calla's entire life existed inside my body, physically.

This whole thing is all just so WEIRD.

It's like the record skipped, and suddenly the lyrics to the music make no sense. And by the time I catch up with the music, I don't really want to listen anymore, anyways.

And so, I'm off to write what I've been putting off all week. Who can gear herself up to write the words for her lost little girl?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Babies Born to Everyone, Hurrah, Hurrah . . .

The first one has arrived. The first baby born--after Calla--to a friend with whom I'd been pregnant. A good friend, a work friend, someone madly in love with her husband and excitedly expecting her first baby.

The overwhelming emotion? Relief. Of course I'm beyond thrilled for her and her family. I know how it feels to have a brand new, warm, snuggly, screaming baby. It's the most amazing feeling in the world. But the first thing I truly felt when hearing the news was relief. Relief that he's here, safe and healthy. Relief that everything went OK. Relief that I didn't run up to the roof or dive into a bottle, overflowing with jealousy. Relieved that SOMETHING went the way it was supposed go.

Baby, baby, baby. Like many women my age, I found myself in good company while pregnant. Many of the same friends who were pregnant at the same time as I was with E were again this time around. Calla wasn't to be the first or last born, but comfortably in the middle. As friends had their babies through the fall and early winter, my excitement grew while our due date approached.

Then the shit hit the fan.

And then there were still more babies to come. And I was getting, frankly, a little panicked. I found myself in a whirlwind of nervousness for the babies' safe arrival and anxiety about how I'd react. See, I don't get the happy ending this time, and while others are rejoicing I am still devastated. But I'm glad my happiness for other mothers isn't completely snuffed out. I can still be a normal human being, on this level, at least.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still a wreck. I still am sad and wistful and pissed and confused--and sometimes I indulge in copious amounts of self-pity. I see complete, happy families, full of siblings and new babies and not a dead one in the lot. I often want to scream: Why me? Why NOT me? Why Calla? WHY THE FUCK US?!

Please don't misunderstand, though--"Why me?" does not imply "Why not SOMEONE ELSE?" It's simply a question posed to the universe, one to which I'm not expecting any answers.

For the next six or so months friends will be adding brothers and sisters, new babies, first borns. It's going to be bittersweet until the last one comes out screaming. But I'll love them all the same, babies and mothers alike.

And you know what? It's not going to end there. So till the end of my days, I will always vacillate between happiness for pregnant mothers and out-and-out terror for them as well. I promise I won't be morbid, or a downer, or a nag. But know that it's in there-whether I like it or not.

Somedays, when the universe throws curveball after curveball, I want to fall to my knees, bare my heart to the skies and scream "WHAT ELSE?! WHAT ELSE?!"

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Post-Traumatic Statistic Disorder

C had to have a little procedure done today. A muscle biopsy, if you must know. It was originally scheduled for the Tuesday after, what I know refer to as, when the ISH hit the fan. Ironically that week it was I who was to be caring for him after a grueling stay in the hospital. Whatever--shit got real and plans had to be changed and here we are, a month later, finally able to get this procedure done.

The particulars of C's procedure I'll spare you--suffice it to say he's doing OK post-incision, and we're awaiting the results patiently. But this procedure involved me taking him to, and waiting for him in, the hospital.

Have I mentioned what happened the last time I spent any stretch of time in a hospital? I felt a little like a veteran revisiting her tour of duty: there's some shit that went down out there I never want to see again.

We weren't at the same place where I delivered both E and Calla, but hospitals, despite their differences, are strikingly similar. The ubiquitous, indecent, faded gowns, covered with prints so boring the eye can barely discern a pattern. The hex carts, from which hang IV bags and blood pressure contraptions. (I remember when in labor with Calla, my IV hex cart had only five wheels. DB mamas don't need the good, fully-functional carts, I guess.) The instructions, the patience of nurses, the call button, the dry-erase boards. The landscape of a hospital floor is indistinguishable from one place to the next.

Most unpleasant was the cafeteria, where I promptly dropped my container of salad and watched it smash open on the floor. Not unlike in the school cafeteria, I was waiting for everyone to start clapping. I was distracted by the hugely pregnant woman in line across from me. Dammit, I see them everywhere. (Preggos, not salads.) And boy, oh boy, do they make me nervous (again, the preggos). Like I said, I've seen some things I never want to see again.

When I think about labor and delivery, I am permanently scarred from this recent traumatic experience. I flinch thinking about it, from start to finish. It's the inevitable end to physically carrying around another human in one's uterus, and for millions of years women have taken to this task. The whole go-to-the-hospital-come-home-with-a-live-baby thing is completely out of my realm of understanding. But I know it happens--I've already lived through it. So have most of my friends.

Being in the hospital today made me realize I am on an edge I never thought I'd reach. I was always a worrier, but never a firm believer in statistics. One in a thousand? Half a percent? Well heck, that probably won't be me. Except it was, is. KABLAAAM, we were the half a percent. I asked my doctor, at our two-week-post-hitting-the-fan appointment how often this happened. Out of the 500+ deliveries the doctors in my practice perform, MAYBE one per year. ( I dryly noted that 2010's was out of the way.)

What I'm getting at is this: all those statistics, small percentages--they're meaningless to me now. Today the doctor told us that the risk for infection, for complications for C's procedure was very, very low. Unfortunately, if the odds aren't zero, they're never going to be low enough for me to exhale. I've seen some shit go down in the hospital, shit I never want to see again. No matter how low the risk for the worst happening, it's not zero, and never will be.

That's the new me: scared of hospitals, nervous around pregnant women, trust in the law of averages shattered. Being a statistic myself, I can't take the risks lightly anymore.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

One Last Slap

The past two days I have received in the mail:

*an invoice from the cemetery
*a bill from the hospital kindly requesting the balance from our visit, the overage that our insurance does not cover
*an invoice for the additional copay from a fetal echocardiogram done in December, just to make sure the tiny beating heart was OK

Seriously? Here's my bank account--just take what you need, but please stop asking.


I am two people. I have two faces. I am here, yet so very far away.

You see, I don't really know how to exist in this world. I feel fractured in two. I listen, I laugh, I participate, I show up. But I'm not really there. I am always in another world, one foot in the here and now, the other holding open the door to my own little existence. The world didn't stop for me, but I am stuck back in just one moment, one memory.

And since I am always there, I cannot fully be HERE. Today. Present. I know moving forward means living in the present, being present. But. I can't. I put on a good show. I ask questions at appropriate intervals, I participate in the give-and-take of normal conversation. I run. I shop. I laugh. I eat.

But then.

The resolve-breaking harmonies of Flee.t
Chocolate Underg.round yogurt.
A book read before Christmas.
The Life is Good onesie bought when I was SURE she was a girl, even without ultrasound confirmation.
Dried cherries.
Vacation photos.
An email from glamou.rmom.

I can't see because I'm crying, crying, crying and I can't breathe through the sobbing.

Running Away, and It's Not a Reminder

Or: Trying to Tie Together Two Seemingly Different Topics with One Ambiguous Post Title

Ever since I got the clearance from the Dr. to run, I've been trying to get my old body back. No, not the REALLY old, rather large one. The post-college, professional, healthy, (sorta) clean-living one. The one that's run two marathons, taught millions of fitness classes, twisted itself into yoga-inspired pretzels.

It's gonna be a long road. That 20's metabolism has gone kerflooey, making it much harder to whip myself back into shape. Throw in a healthy dose of sobbing, sporadic eating, and nightly red wine and a fitness plan is right out the window.

That's not to say I've not been trying. Actually, I'm NOT trying. It's sheer survival instinct that puts one foot in front of the other. Fear of my brain exploding out my ears really puts a spring in my running step. Plainly: if I don't exercise my body, my brain will take over and right now, that's not a great game plan.

Running, yoga; these have for so long been a part of my life, I no longer have to think about HOW to do them. Sure, it's advisable to be mindful during yoga practice. But for now? I can let my body remember where to go, how to move so I can turn my brain right off. Or let it wander. I try to stay away from the complete sadness, and try to focus on the happier aspects of being pregnant with Calla. I've got a solid 8 months on which to focus--8 months minus one day. My body, the muscles, take over the thinking during practice. It's quite freeing.

Same thing with running. I couldn't wait to get out of the house to run, but was nervous about how crappy I knew I'd feel. Amazingly? My body simply took over. Just go, it says. Pace be damned, I can just go, and blissfully feel something other than the physical ache of my empty arms. It's like therapy without the talking.

So what about this reminder thingy? On a complete non-sequitur, many people have expressed their sadness and condolences, but have not wanted to make me upset. Their kindness is genuine and sincere, and it touches my heart. But how can I say, without sounding like a complete jerk, that by saying they're sorry, it's not reminding me? Because I am ALWAYS. THINKING. ABOUT. MY. DEAD. BABY. And it actually--perversely?--gives me comfort to know others are thinking of her, too. As they say, you're only truly gone if you are forgotten.

And, son of a gun, I just won't ever forget.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Friends in Low Places

My birthday--and, for those of you keeping score, my due date--has officially come and gone. Without major incident, I might add. Hooray for me. I remember on that awful day one month ago (well, one month and one day) looking at C and saying, "I really don't want my birthday to come this year." He was having none of that.

This past weekend I celebrated my birthday in what would normally be considered high style. I knew I was going out with some friends--sisters-in-law, local friends--and knew we'd be carted around in a limo. Didn't know where, and honestly, didn't care. As much as I'd rather spend all my time in bed, I was also looking forward to being a relatively normal person for one night.

The car, stocked with Prosecco and fun girls, stopped to pick up my bestie, Mo. As she made her way to the car, I noticed she was surrounded by other people--three more of my friends--two of whom do not live in town. One from California, one from Boston--whom I hadn't physically laid eyes on in nearly 4 years--and one who lives here who I rarely get to see.

I was speechless, and , of course, immediately started bawling. But it felt good to cry happy tears for a change. All arranged by C--the coolest! It ended up being a great night, by all accounts. I found out later that C had worked with Mo to get all my girls in town--2 couldn't be here but had so much wanted to. As they say, there's no friend like an old friend. (Wait, does anyone say that? Or did I just make that up?) I wish I had to words to express how much I appreciated just BEING WITH my friends. All I got these days is tears.

So moving on past my birthday, or, I guess, moving backward from it: I received a package on Monday. I wasn't expecting anything, so I was surprised when the UP.S man arrived. What I found inside, again, brought me to tears. A housemate from long ago worked with a "band of angels" to send me a beautiful guardian angel necklace and jewelry tree. I am now wearing that necklace as a talisman, a shield from the daily sadness that eventually creeps its way in.

Growing up, going through life, I always wanted to be included, a part of a group of friends. I have been lucky in friendship. I've made some extraordinary ones along the way. That old saying about keeping friends close and enemies closer? It's crap. Keep your friends in your heart, stay in theirs, too. You might never know why people come in and out of your life, but they're all there for a purpose.

My friends, thank you so, so, so very much for everything. It makes everyday easier to bear knowing you're out there. I am inspired to be a better friend in turn.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

New Slang

I've run into a semantic conundrum. How do I respond to people who ask me about Calla? Or rather, how do I answer the question: "Did you have the baby?"

This is how I've been answering:

"Um, oh. Yes--well, no. I mean, yes, I did. But she died."

Which leads to the invariable "Oh! I'm sorry . . . " and leaves me feeling awkward and bad and like I've just ruined someone else's day.

But what exactly is the correct answer? I mean, Calla was born. It just didn't turn out as we planned. The outcome of her birth is the exact opposite of what we'd hoped, planned, expected. And it doesn't really make sense to anyone--it wouldn't make sense to me if I heard it from someone else.

I've read the term "born sleeping." Like she was taking a little nap and was just SO exhausted, she couldn't possibly be awake for her birth.

"Calla? Calla honey? It's time to get up now. You've been born, sleepyhead!"

Nope, that one doesn't work for me. Neither, really, does "stillborn." That's the default term, I guess. But for some reason that word is scarier to me than the word "died." I mean, what the hell does it signify, anyway? Born still. Still born. Not moving. All those pieces, indeed, fit. They just don't sound quite right. Throw in a comma or two here and there and they take on new meanings all together.

Born, still. Still, born.

Theses words are like daggers in my mouth. I guess I have to stick with my stammering, awkward explanation, for now. My daughter died. My daughter is dead. My baby is dead.

It doesn't make sense to me, either.

I really thought I was doing better. I was actually starting to feel a little bad because I wasn't a total wreck all the time. What kind of grieving mother can go to the grocery store and laugh at the telly and shop for nonsensical frivolities without falling to pieces every five minutes? What has two thumbs and isn't a basket case? [points thumbs at chest] This girl, I guess.

That's the funny thing about grief. Its pointy little fingernails pick, pick, pick at its own scab, and at the merest suggestion it's a flood all over again. I lost it, am losing it, yet again. And it's not going to go away. EVER.

I read something, somewhere (because gosh only know where the hell I've been on these interwebs the past month) about wanting another baby after a loss. The author asked if the griever (we'll call her "I" for ease or reference) wanted another baby, or the one that died.

I thought the question was stupid. Of course I want Calla. I want her almost as much as I want oxygen--maybe more. But I can't have her--all I get is memories. And what I've learned is that like a newborn, memories will rob you of sleep, but you can't watch memories grow up, you can't kiss memories good night, and memories make for a really unsatisfying playmate for my toddler son.

So yeah. I want Calla. I love Calla. But somewhere, sometime, I wonder . . . gah, you know where I'm going. I've run out of words for today.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Last One

* Freak of nature.

That one's pretty much all the time.

Just a few more . . .

See Jan 31 for a list of adjectives, and here are a few more:

* like a failure
*un-naive (I know--that's not a word. It is now.)

That's all. For now.