Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This is the end. Or maybe the beginning.

I'm not one for Big Announcements, but it seems clear--to me, anyway--that the blog is over.

Yes, things are slowly getting back to normal in the P.O.W. household, and, as such, I just don't have that much to complain about anymore. Once upon a time I used this blog to record my daily life, since my daily life was mostly made up of me and two babies--and babies are not the greatest conversationalists. And I used it to make connections with other people, for the same reason, and also because in Real Life I am not sociable enough to connect with other people unless all the planets are aligned. Then, I used it to work through my shit: my marital problems, my grief, my disappointments and fears.

But now my babies are growing up. Isaac starts kindergarten next Wednesday. 8:03 to 2:30, the longest day he's ever had. He can't wait. He wakes up every morning at 6:30, after studiously setting the alarm the night before, to practice getting ready in time. He makes his bed, he gets dressed, he puts his toast in the toaster. He can practically live on his own! And Vivian is four, full of herself, and ready for her first year at preschool without Isaac holding court above her. Her day is from 7:30 to noon, and honestly, she'd be happy staying longer too. They are turning into little people that need so much less from me, and that allows me to have some freedom I didn't even realize I'd been missing.

I've taken a job at the elementary school as an aide, which starts next Tuesday. The pay is terrible, but the hours are what I need, and I am really looking forward to it. We had the first faculty meeting this morning and it felt really nice to flex my professional muscles, to talk with grown-up colleagues about grown-up things. I mean, yes, I mostly mingled with the kindergarten teachers so there was a fair bit of conversation about kids, but still, it felt nice. There are 5 special ed classes at this school--50 kids out of a student body of 250--and talking to those teachers reminded me how much I enjoyed volunteering in special ed classes when I was in college. It got me thinking about new possibilities: do I want to pursue that? Take some classes, get some kind of a degree so I can teach special ed? I don't know yet, but my brain is excited at the thought of something new.

And, well, the blog is not new. The blog is old, and I'm moving on. On to hopefully bigger and better things. Surely this coming year cannot suck as bad as the last one. Already Lance and I are forging a new relationship, one that feels familiar and new all at the same time. Even though my least favorite time of year (winter) is looming ahead, I can still embrace the Indian Summer that graces Southern California from now until October, and I plan to do just that.

I thank you all for your support, and your compassion, and your wise wise words when I needed them so desperately. I apologize for being such a one sided blogger; I didn't comment on your blogs, or even visit, nearly as much as I should have. I send all my happy good vibes out to the internet, where hopefully they will reach all of you and fill your life with joy and goodness.

Peace, my friends.

Oh, and yes! Please keep in touch via email. And I'll still be reading your blogs from time to time.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Babies, babies everywhere.

Son of my oldest and dearest friend, who unfortunately lives on the other side of the country, he was born February 20th. His mother was the first person I told about my pregnancy last summer. We were due exactly one month apart (me, April 1st; her, March 1st). For a few weeks we were each others' rock, venting daily on the phone: my troubles with Lance, my horrific morning sickness; her toddler's speech issues, her exhaustion. That was an extremely difficult period for me, physically, emotionally and mentally but she made it bearable. We went through it together.

Then I miscarried. The daily phone conversations slowed down. She felt uncomfortable discussing her pregnancy woes with me when I was no longer pregnant, and I felt uncomfortable small- talking with her about other things, with the elephant of her pregnancy taking up all the breathing space. We still talked, frequently, (she is my best friend after all) but it wasn't the same. Every day her pregnancy progressed reminded me that mine had ended. Fortunately, a few months later, I was pregnant again. Our phone conversations began anew in earnest.

Hugo was born in February, a healthy beautiful baby and I was happy for her. I really was. Crushed, too, that my baby would not be born in a month, the way we had hoped, but okay. After all, I was pregnant too, by this point about 12 weeks pregnant, and I knew I'd have my baby come September. (I am due September 1st, 5 months to the day after my first due date)

Then I miscarry again. April 2nd, the day my baby should have been born; instead I had a D&E. After that, the black time, which I finally started to pull myself out of in June. I took the kids home to see family. And to see my best friend, and her three wonderful children, including the 4 month old Hugo.

He is the cutest baby you will ever see. I loved holding him and smelling him. But when I got back to California I cried for hours. I will never have 3 children. I will never have a baby again to smell, to hold, to love.

I am thrilled to get to watch this little boy grow up. But every milestone he reaches, from the first crawl to the first college acceptance letter--will remind me of my own lost boy--lost boys--and the milestones they should be reaching too.

Daughter to Lance's best friends' sister (got that?), she was born in the beginning of February. Her mother lives in Northern California but used to visit frequently, which I loved, because she has two girls similar ages to my two. One night in September she was visiting--we were both pregnant at the time and I went over to a friends' house to see her. We spent the time commiserating about the 3rd pregnancy, how no one seems to care about the 3rd, how people are actually kind of rude about it. Like, 'why would you have a 3rd? That's so irresponsible.' I bitched about my husband, told her what an ass he was being. "Yeah, you know what I told him? It's too late now, babe. What are you going to do? Pray for a miscarriage!" I said, laughing. She laughed too, and we clinked wine glasses. It was my first glass of wine of the pregnancy. I was 13 weeks pregnant, and feeling human for the first time in months. It seemed like a good time to have a glass of wine.

The next morning I discover the dead baby at my monthly OB appointment.

When Leah was born, in February, I was already pregnant again. I had the same pang on her birthday as I did with Hugo, but again, it was okay. I would have my baby, just not exactly when I expected.

A few days later we learned that Leah had Down Syndrome. Her mother had passed the 1st and 2nd trimester screenings with flying colors and so there had been no need to take the diagnostic tests. But an anomaly, and Leah was born with the syndrome.

It's a very difficult diagnoses. We go to visit in May, when I've lost the second baby. Leah is 3 months old now, but still very floppy, more like an infant than a 3 month old. Kendra, her mother, is having a really tough time but she is trying her best, she is muddling through. I ask her how she's doing.
"Bottom line, she's my daughter. And I love her with all of my being. So I have to do everything I can to help her." She says. "But it's hard, " she adds, in a whisper.
Turns to me, asks,"What about you?How are you doing?"
"Oh, you know. I'm okay. I'm pissed off at Angelina Jolie. But I'm okay." I pick up Leah and rub her back, drink in her baby smell. Pause.
"But I would kill to have Leah." I say quietly.
"I know", Kendra responds.

October 2007. I am sitting in Vivian's ballet class , smiling at the other mothers but not joining in the conversation, sitting off to the side, pretending to be engrossed in a book. I have just miscarried, I am still bleeding from the d&c. None of these mothers know I was pregnant. I notice some squealing where the other mothers sit, watch as one after another they get up to hug Betsy. "Congratulations!", I hear. "You are due in July?!"

Every week, she comes in with tales of the pregnancy. How she has explained it all to her 4 year old daughter (She is not even out of the 1st trimester yet). How she hopes it's another girl, but if it's a boy she is considering the name Isaac. How her clothes don't fit but she does not feel sick at all (She never gets morning sickness, isn't that odd? (I'm rolling my eyes here, if you can't tell) She just loves being pregnant!)

Then, in January, I am pregnant again. I start engaging in the conversations more. Asking about OBs, asking who will do a VBAC, counting the days until I, too, can tell everyone that I'm pregnant, when I can share in the squeals and the joy and the love. But in March we switch to a ballet class that is more convenient for us. I don't see her anymore, though I get periodic updates from another mom who has also switched.

In May, I have lost the 2nd pregnancy. I sign Isaac up for soccer, which meets every Wednesday at a nearby park. By coincidence Betsy is there, with her now huge belly, watching her daughter. She is thrilled to see me, and again I am regaled with pregnancy tales every week. This time I can't really bear it, so I have the neighbor start taking Isaac to soccer. Before I do, Betsy tells me, excitedly, that her daughter and Isaac will be going to the same kindergarten. I will be seeing her all the time in the fall.

In July, I get an email:

'Genevieve Theda, born June 30th. Healthy and happy, mom and baby doing great!'

At Vivian's new ballet, there is another pregnant mom, this one very pregnant. We have switched over in March, and to my untrained eye it looks like this woman will have the baby any minute. But week after week, she still shows up, looking bigger than the week before. I am intensely jealous of her large belly. I myself am starting to show, but still gun-shy about telling anyone. Still unsure that I will actually bring home a live baby. I decide I will tell them the next week.

Then I miscarry.

That week, the pregnant lady (I have never gotten her name, though we exchange pleasantries) is not there. The following week she is, this time carrying a teensy infant in a sling. This is Daeva. All the moms ooh and ah over the baby--really, there is nothing sweeter than a helpless newborn--but I can't look. I escape down the hall to get coffee, keenly aware of the bloody pad in my underwear.

She has been there every Monday since, growing rounder and stronger, a peaceful sweet baby who rarely cries. She is just a few weeks younger than my boy would be.

At the kids' Karate class, I sit next to another mom, watching our girls in the "tiger tots" class. It's pretty cute, and I enjoy watching Vivian do something physical. Generally speaking, she is not an active child. I have struck up a friendship with this mother, Collette. She is friendly and funny and our daughters seem to like each other. It is January or February, I am pregnant, but not obviously so. She confides in me that she is pregnant, due August 2nd. "Really?" I exclaim. "I feel like I look more pregnant than you do, and I am not due until September 1st!" This cements our friendship and we spend the next several weeks discussing our pregnancies. How the siblings will handle it, how it's been so long we have to buy all new stuff, whether we want a boy or a girl, and so on. She is one of the only mothers I have told. I love our Friday afternoons together.

Until I miscarry.

The next Friday I have to tell her that I am no longer pregnant. And then every Friday after that I sit next to her and watch her belly grow. She is extremely cognizant of my feelings but I insist that we keep speaking of her pregnancy. I ask how she's feeling, what she's done to get ready. I am not purposely torturing myself, I genuinely like this woman and I do want to hear about it. I am living vicariously through her, I suppose.

I have not seen her since the baby was born, a few weeks ago. But I think she will be at karate this Friday, teeny infant in hand.


One of Vivian's best friends at school is a little boy named Dylan. His family moved to LA from London in February. When I first met his mother, I thought she was a little heavyset; however, after a few weeks it became clear that she was pregnant. She is due in May, and in March I try to work up the nerve to tell her that I am pregnant too. That never happens, and I miscarry in April. A month or so later, Kaylana is born. Her dad gleefully comes to pick up Dylan, waving around his iphone with pictures of the beautiful infant.
"That's the way to do it, right, love?", he says to me, watching as I herd my kids into the car. "First the boy, then the girl, then done!"
Smiling, I say, "Oh, right."
"No more, though! Done now!" He grins at me, and waves, and heads off with Dylan.

Every day at pick up, Kaylana and her mother are there. The other children, my own included, are fascinated by her teeny tiny toes, her squawks and, later, her smiles. She looks exactly like her brother.

She is 4 months old now, getting bigger every day.


January 1st, 2008. We head over to a friend's house for their annual New Year's Open House. I am just barely pregnant, about 5 weeks. In the kitchen with the host, Michelle, I grab her arm.
"You're pregnant, right?" I ask. (I had been out with her a few weeks earlier and I noticed her drinking water)
"Um . . ."
"I am too!" I say, excitedly. "When are you due?"
"Oh, yay! Congratulations! Wow. I'm due August 3rd. What about you?"
"September 1st! I'm just a month behind you!"
Then we commiserate for awhile, venting about the exhaustion, the morning sickness, the fear.
Our pregnancies progress the way pregnancies do, each of us feeling terrible but still managing. Both of us are desperate for a VBAC, although I am superstitious enough to not want to think that far ahead yet.
When I am about 14 weeks pregnant, we go over to visit their new apartment. They have moved to a larger place, a little bit farther away, and I realize it is very close to the specialist who will do my 20 week scan. I make plans to stop by on my way home from that appointment.

At 17 weeks, I miscarry. Around the time my 20 week appointment should be, I ask her to come by my house and pick up all my baby stuff. The double stroller, the little boy clothes, all of it.

Shamefully, I haven't seen her since then.

On 8/8/8, Beatrice is born. I speak to both parents and congratulate them, make plans to meet the littlest member of their family in a few weeks.

I will watch this baby grow up, too. If Hugo is the doppelganger for my April 1st pregnancy, then Beatrice is the same for my September 1st pregnancy.


Yesterday, at preschool a new mother was dropping off her daughter. She is hugely pregnant. I smile at her, ask when she is due.

"August 30th", she says with a smile. "I can't wait to meet this baby!"

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Today after pre-school drop off, I decided to hit the drive-thru Starbucks, so I picked up a coffee and headed home, following a route I haven't taken in a while, a route that ambles right by Marine Park. When the kids were little--when Vivian was 2 months old and Isaac was a maniacal 18 month old--I used to drive that route every morning. First to Starbucks for my coffee. Then to the park where Vivian would (hopefully) sleep in the carseat while Isaac ran off some of his never-ending steam on the play structure.

I'm not sure why it hit me so hard today--I have driven past that park before, and recently--but as I drove by, chai latte in hand, I felt a physical longing for the little ones. For diapers and squawking infant cries, for unsteady toddles to the slide, for high-pitched voices that can't pronounce the letter S and tantrums over footwear. Maybe it was the weather: August, when the morning sun glints off the tall (by California standards, anyway) trees in the park, when the road by the park is empty, all its regular denizens off grasping one last vacation before summer is over and school starts again. August is when I used to come here with the kids. August is when I had finally just about got a grip on the two kid thing, figured out that I needed to leave the house before nine if I wanted to avoid a full-on Isaac melt down, figured out where the drive-thru coffee store was, and the closest park to it.

You know, those were not particularly wonderful times, I'm realizing now, no matter how bucolic the memory seemed this morning. Isaac the toddler was extremely difficult to keep entertained and always half a second away from terrible injury by running into the street, or sticking his face in the stove, or plunging a fork in his eye or something. I should have wrapped him in yellow caution tape from age 1 to age 2-1/2. Vivian was not a difficult baby, but she wasn't a great sleeper, and that is never fun. I was exhausted, bitter about my c-section, feeling inept as a mother to two children, sure that I was neglecting Vivian too much, convinced I would never be able to control Isaac. We would last at that park about 30 minutes, sometimes a little more, before Vivian would start crying, or Isaac would fall and get hurt or get bored and demand something new. And I would sigh and look at my watch and wonder how in the hell I was going to fill the next 3 hours before naptime. Hmm. Yeah. In truth, it sucked. Hard.

Still, this morning, as I drove by, it hit me like a punch: I want that back. I want to hug those little babies and smell their baby scent. I want to do that again. I want to feel that needed again. I am good at it, no matter what I thought at the time.

Thank you, nostalgia. Thank you, stupid Lady Hormones.


I have a whole 'nother part to this post. A litany of all the babies that surround me, as a mother to pre-schoolers. But it is taking an eternity to write. And I'm not sure it's even interesting. So I just give you this, and maybe the rest will come later.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Reason Number 20045 to keep drinking

Wednesday night a friend was in town so we had an impromptu ladies night out. Not surprisingly, I drank too much. But we had a great time, and it was just what I needed, in more ways than one.

Thursday, Lance came home from work in a pleasant mood and we chatted amicably (!) for a few minutes before he went out to play baseball with Isaac. Just before he went outside, he stuck his head back in the door and asked,
Hey, did you mean what you said last night? Or was that sarcasm?
Me: What? Last night? Did we talk?
Lance: smiling Yeah, babe, we talked.
Me: furiously flipping through the Rolodex in my mind, searching in vain for any such conversation Oh.
Lance:Well, I just wanted to say thank you. It means a lot. I'm glad you understand.
Me: Um. Okay. I--
Lance: laughing Just say 'you're welcome', babe. I'm taking it all as heartfelt, whether you can remember or not.

And you know, things have been so much better since then! I mean, yeah, it's been less than two days, but still. Who knew? Drunken conversation=relationship salve. I gotta try it more often.

Though I do wonder what exactly I said.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Tale of Woe, Part: Present Day

Friday night, after a long week of pure grumpiness on Lance's part which resulted in a week of avoidance on my part, we finally had a conversation.

Yes, a wine-fueled conversation, but hey, whatever it takes, right?

We talked, and argued, and talked, and I think we even laughed once. I won't say we solved all of our problems--I'm not even sure we solved any of our problems--but it was nice to say the things we'd each been thinking out loud finally.


Truth: Lance is extremely stressed out about his work. The sales are not coming easily anymore, and this is a change he has not handled well.
Truth: I am extremely UN-empathetic to his plight. In my mind, having to work a little harder than you are used to is no reason to pout and throw a tantrum.

Truth: Lance does a really good job, at Cisco, as a salesman; and at home, as a father.
Truth: I don't give him nearly enough credit for that.

Fact: Lance needs deserves strokes from me. When he is feeling down, he doesn't need me to roll my eyes and tell him to suck it up, he needs me to pat his back and tell him he's doing a good job.
Fact:It is almost impossible for me to do that for him. I am just barely holding on to my decision to forgive him, and to not hold any of last year against him. Asking me to go above and beyond that is not fair.

That was Friday. Saturday and Sunday were good days, spent mostly in the company of friends, at the beach, at the neighbors house, lots of summery drinks and barbecues and laughter and friends. Lance and I do great with other people around. It's when it's just the two of us that things get dicey.

Monday night, I am making dinner*, the kids are playing. Lance walks in from work.
Me: Hey babe. How are you?
Lance: grumble mumble mutter Hey
Me: Looking up, watching him open up his computer and glare at his email.
Me: Another great day at the office?
Lance: What? mutter grumble
Me: making dinner
Me:Big sigh. Bad day?
Lance: Yes. Okay? Mondays are just not that great for me these days, okay?
Me: making dinner, not making eye contact

Eventually, the kids come in to eat; Lance and I decide to feed them first instead of sitting down to a family meal. We disagree over the crispiness of the bacon. He makes snide comments about Vivian's leotard (we had suspended her classes this summer since we were traveling so much but she started up again yesterday. Lance thinks it's a waste of money.) I sigh a lot and say to the kids, "Let's hurry up and drink all our milk guys, Daddy's in a bad mood and I don't want to make him madder!"

After dinner, baths & bedtime I escape upstairs while he turns on Sportscenter downstairs.

dinner being leftover pasta and BLT's, which is all I can rustle from the pantry. We have no money for groceries until the next payday, which is not until Friday.

So yeah. What would you call that: two steps forward, one step back?
Or is that backwards?

I know I need to do better.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

This post brought to you by 4 Coronas

Is it wrong of me to hate Angelina Jolie? I mean, I should probably spend my time thinking about more important things, right? But I just can't bear it. Six kids! WTF?

I don't feel rage personally anymore. I'm actually mostly happy, most of the days. Lance and I still don't talk, but he's only home in the evenings, and the rest of the time it's just me and the kids. And I'm okay. I'm not depressed anymore, I don't cry anymore, everything is slowly getting back to normal.

But Brangelina. God, I hate them. I have transferred all my hurt and pain and anger onto them and I loathe them with every fiber of my being. Also, I want to steal all those babies, especially the twins. And did she really have to steal my name? Vivian? With the fancy snotty French spelling? UGH.

I will NEVER have what they have. I will never have another pregnancy, IVF or not. I will never adopt a baby, even though I would KILL to do that. It is not in the cards for me, SO WHY IS IT FOR THEM? Do they not have enough, what with the gazillions of dollars, the 6 healthy kids, the gallivanting all around the world, the adoring fans? Just where are MY adoring fans, that's what I'd like to know.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

5 items

I have been doing very well on my diet this summer, with the notable exception of alcohol. Still, I've lost 5-7 lbs and gained a bit of muscle and I'm starting to like the way I look again. To celebrate, today I made a pan of brownies with the kids and promptly ate 1/2 of it. I'm pretty sure I gained back 3 lbs just doing that.

Vacationing with friends is lots of fun, especially if you keep it short and sweet--say, a weekend at most. But differing parenting styles are never more apparent than when you are in an enclosed area for an extended period of time. Quick question: if your 5 year old cried like a baby over every. little. thing. and pouted and whined for an entire weekend, would you not be embarrassed? Would you not have something to say about it other than, "oh, honey, what's the matter?" Oy.

San Francisco is a beautiful, vibrant, hip city; I know, I lived there for 8 magical years. But man, there's just something fundamentally wrong with shivering in jeans and a Northface jacket in the middle of July. Seriously, the cold. I can't take it.

My husband is really cranky when he is tired. I completely hate it when he is cranky, which is funny (read: shameful), considering I've been cranky for the past year.

I don't think I'm supposed to admit this, but here it is: being a stay-at-home-mom is BORING. I mean, at first it wasn't. When the kids are little it's exhausting, and I think, a lot harder in many ways than being a working mom. But now that they are older? I have GOT to find something to do with myself. I have some feelers out there--there's a possibility I could be an aide in the kindergarten next year, except the budget cuts are holding that up, and my old job has expressed an interest--but it's really difficult to find a job with the hours I need (i.e. 8:30am to 11:30am) and that pays enough to be worth it. (Although at this point any money would be worth it.)

Want some photos with your blather? Okay:
(It was squinty. This was from our weekend to San Diego with the neighbors--warm but overcast)

From our trip to Colorado with Lance's parents:
(Ain't she cute?)

From our trip to the Outer Banks with my family:
Summer II
Now that looks like summer, doesn't it?

Monday, July 28, 2008


Upon picking up my daughter from a sleepover at my mother-in-law's house:

MIL: So, I just need to tell you something that Vivian said to me yesterday, out of nowhere."
Me: Oh, what?
MIL:She said, 'Mommy doesn't love Daddy'. And when I asked her why or what she meant, she said, 'Mommy always yells at Daddy'.
Me: Oh! Uh .. . . .
MIL: So I just told her that sometimes people get frustrated with each other and speak sharply to each other but they still love each other, like when Isaac made her mad, she might yell but she still loved him. That seemed to pacify her. But . . .
Me: Oh, that is terrible. That, uh . . .
MIL: So I just thought you should know. They pick up on that stuff. They know what's going on.
Me: Of course. Yes. Um, thank you for telling me. That is terrible.
MIL: And you know, Isaac said the same thing to me, about 6 months ago.
Me: . . .! . .

It makes me want to throw up, just reliving it now. But I need to. I need to put it here, where I can see it, where I can remind myself to grow up already and stop acting like an idiot. So I give it to you to hold and remember, to throw back in my face if I ever start getting high and mighty again.

God. Am such an asshole.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

State of the Union, Part Deux

Where was I? Oh yes, the lovely 13 week miscarriage after months of debilitating morning sickness. Let's skip over the horrific part, the appointment with no heartbeat, the call from the genetic counselor days later cheerfully letting me know that my CVS results came back "perfect, everything looks great!", the D&C at the under-construction hospital that was delayed by 3 hours because my OB had an emergency difficult delivery, the waiting on a cot in a hospital gown and nothing else in what amounted to a hallway, staring at the other knee-replacement patients, the nurse who actually asked me if the surgery was elective--yes, skip all that. It sucked.

What was Lance doing during all this?, you might wonder. Actually, it is at this point that he finally took off the evil selfish passive-aggressive hat he'd been wearing and put on his knight in shining armour suit. He was very apologetic, he was very supportive, he took care of me, he tried to make me laugh, he cried with me, and he insisted that we try again. At first, I welcomed this. I needed someone to lean on, and it felt good to have him on my side again.

Our 9 year anniversary was October 3rd, and I remember our dinner out. We had a fabulous time, talking about everything, the miscarriage and when we might start trying again included. We laughed and drank too much wine and it felt very intimate and right.

But it didn't last, and I suppose that is mostly my fault. I didn't really trust him, and once I started feeling better, once I didn't need his support so much anymore, then the trust issues came up again. Also, resentment, for putting me through hell and for what? So I started pulling away a bit. We stopped talking about babies, we stopped talking about most things. I started gearing up for the holidays and I'd wake up feeling resentful but instead of talking about it I'd just let it smoulder all day. We were having sex, and that was still good, but we weren't talking about it, again. I wasn't paying much attention either, as I felt ambivalent about baby-making sex: I still wanted a baby, desperately, but I was also terrified.

Then, miraculously, December 23rd, I got a positive pregnancy test. I was in complete shock. It hadn't even occurred to me that I might be pregnant that cycle, I was sure we hadn't timed intercourse correctly. But there it was.

I wrapped up the test in Christmas paper and handed it to him that night after the kids were in bed.
"What's this?"
"What do you think?" I ask, smiling, thinking that surely he can guess from the shape of the package.
"I don't know."
"Well, open it."
Slowly, he tears off the paper, then says, "Jesus, you are incredible."He laughs a little, drily, so it sounds almost like a cough.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, Jesus! I can't believe it." That dry laugh again.
"But it's good, right?"
"I guess. . . shit."
"Why are you swearing?"
"I don't know."
"I love you, babe."
"You know you can't drink at Christmas now, right?" He turns to look at me for the first time and he is not frowning, but not smiling either. His face looks tight and I can't decide if he is teasing me or being intentionally cruel.
"I know, don't worry." I decide it is just nervous excitement and kiss him on the cheek, escape up the stairs.

This pregnancy is easier than the last: I am not so sick that I can't sleep, I am able to perform simple tasks like boiling a hot dog without gagging. But I am exhausted, like never before. I nap every afternoon with Vivian, leaving Isaac to roam the house alone, playing hour after hour of video games on the computer that I do not have the strength to supervise and god knows what else. Once again, I escape up to my bed the moment Lance is home from work. I sleep easily 12 hours each night plus an hour or more nap during the day and still I feel tired, groggy, heavy, dull as I shuttle the kids to gymnastics or karate.

(You may notice here that pregnancy and I do not mix well. I freely admit that I fail spectacularly at pregnancy, and not just because I miscarry all the time. Also because I can barely function, I am completely undone physically by pregnancy. Some women breeze through it, glow and look beautiful and happy; I do not. I suffer, mightily, and I do not suffer alone. I make sure to drag everyone else along with me.)

Still, things are better. Lance and I are not talking a lot, but there are smiles, the occasional joke or kiss on the cheek. We still separate to our respective corners every day--me in the bed upstairs, Lance downstairs watching ESPN--but when he crawls into bed later he'll kiss me. When I stumble back into bed after my 5th trip to the bathroom and notice him there I drag my finger over his arm, or pat his back heavily before drifting back into deep slumber.

I actually think if that baby had survived, if I was still pregnant right now, we'd both be happy, we'd be anticipating to his birth equally. But of course he didn't, and so now we are in a different place altogether.

Hmm. I'm getting bored of this story. Aren't you? Good thing there are so many Blogher posts to read instead. I'm almost finished though. We're already up to, say, February, 2008. I'll do the rest later . .

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ugly is as ugly does

Originally I planned to write this from Lance's point of view. Or, at very least, I intended to show his side of the story. Obviously, it hasn't worked out that way so far. But I do want to be honest here, or as honest as I know how to be. I want to admit my own culpability, I want to own my part of the fallout. So here's a few things that may not be clear.

1. I am not a talker. I don't like to talk, especially about myself, especially about important things. My natural default is to claim everything is fine and change the subject. (Remember?) So, in the beginning, when Lance and I were "trying" to get pregnant, it was very easy for me to not discuss the elephant in the room. Yes, it was unfair for him to have repeated unsafe sex with me for months and then punish me when a pregnancy resulted, but also, I'm not an idiot. I knew what we were doing, and I knew he didn't really want a baby, I just decided to ignore that. I wanted the baby and I let the sex be his answer, instead of all the comments he was making about not wanting a third. So then it's not really fair of me to be surprised or hurt when he reacts exactly the way I knew he would.

2. Right about the same time all this was happening, we moved back into our house. We did an extensive remodel in 2006. Our mortgage doubles. Power and water bills go up by about 1/3. Lance works in sales for Cisco, and sometime that summer, they redid his compensation plan. His 'goal' is set much higher than it had been in 2006 and for the first time in a few years he is facing making less money than he did the year before. (As it turns out, he makes about 25% less in 2007. 2008 is worse.). The financial strain is great. I know this (I am the one who manages the money in our household), yet I refuse to consider its implications for our family. I refuse to accept that adding a third child will undoubtedly strain our budget to the extreme.

3. Remember how I said I'm not a talker? Well, after our Big Fight, I stopped talking altogether. I said nothing to him. Not good morning, not how was your day, not thanks for taking the kids, not wow, this morning sickness is kicking my butt. I went about my days, (spent mostly in bed) and absolutely ignored his presence. Some of that was unintentional, some of it was simply a result of feeling so sick that even talking took too much effort. Some of it was because I didn't want to hear anything he had to say. I didn't want to hear the word abortion again. But it was also intentional, it was also me punishing him for not being the husband I wanted him to be. And it got to be a habit. Ignoring him, feeling annoyed by him, wishing he were someone else. Then before I even realized what was happening I forgot how to be nice to him. I have not been nice.

If Lance were writing this story, he'd probably have about 10 more points here to add, times when I acted immaturely, where I shut down or shut him out, when I expected him to read my mind and punished him when he read it wrong. I am not the victim here. I am a fully invested participant and I want to make that clear to you--and to me. Lance may not be the husband I wanted, but I am certainly not the wife he envisioned either.

The one thing that has somehow remained constant: I still love him. He still loves me. Even when I was so busy hating him I couldn't even say his name without rolling my eyes, even then, I still loved him. I want to make this work, and he does too.

And so we keep keeping on.

I'll return to the story tomorrow maybe. I can't believe I'm only up to September 2007.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

State of the Union

So, Lance. I haven't written much about Lance, because it's been so . . . difficult. It's such a long story, and it's complicated, and I don't know where to start. Well, here:

Christmas 2006

We are at Lance's best friend's house for dinner when we get the news: the newly married couple (you may remember their wedding), are pregnant, due in August.

Later, Lance turns to me, whispers,"I feel kind of inspired, don't you? Maybe we should do that, too."

"You mean---What? Really? Yes! Totally! Absolutely! We have to!" I am positively giddy, and fresh tears of joy prick the back of my eyelids. Never in a thousand years did I imagine he would agree to try for three.

The next day I make the appointment to have my IUD removed, and by late February, it is done.

We are driving to Disneyland, following Lance's best friend and his pregnant wife, plus another couple with two kids whom we all know.

"We'll have to get a new car", I say casually, glancing back at the kids in our Lexus SUV. "I don't think we can fit an infant car seat between their two." I am testing him, waiting to see if he is serious.

"The lease is up in a year I think, plus I need to sell my car. We'll figure it out."

I don't meet his eyes, afraid he will see the excitement in my eyes, afraid to scare him out of it. But I still can't quite believe it, so I add, "Wow, three. I don't know, I always thought two or four was better. Three was tough for me growing up. Should we have four?" Here I giggle, to let him know I am joking, to give him an out.

He doesn't answer, so I press on. "But I'm so old already, I just turned 37. God, I'd be 40 by then!"

And he says, "We could always adopt the fourth". I sneak a glance at him, sure that he is joking, but he is looking straight ahead, he is not smiling, he seems to be serious.

May 2007
We have been 'trying' for a few months. I put trying in quotes because it is unlike the trying we did before we conceived Isaac. We don't talk about it. I don't tell him my fertile times or give any indication that I hope the sex we are having might end in a baby. It seems very one-sided; the trying is all on my side. His side is just enjoying the sex. I don't want to rock the boat, I'm still terrified that the wrong move on my part will halt our efforts in their tracks, so I just go along, quietly.

Occasionally he makes comments that puzzle me: We clean out the garage, and he piles the old strollers together saying, "We should give this stuff to Alex." I don't answer, afraid of what he is saying, but that night we make love as usual and he doesn't pull out.

At dinner when my parents are in town I spill the beans that my best friend is recently pregnant with her 3rd. My parents are thrilled for her and my dad asks, "What about you two, would you ever consider a third?"
"No way", Lance says, emphatically. I reach over, rub my hands through his hair and smile, then say, "Well, you never know. Right, babe?" He doesn't answer.

June 2007
Earlier in the day Lance has again commented something to the effect of wanting only two kids. And yet here we are, in the evening, about to make love--about to make a baby. I stop what I'm doing, sit up.
"What are we doing? What is this? I don't understand you."
"Why do you say things about not wanting a baby and then come home and have sex with me?"
"What else am I supposed to do?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you are giving me no choice. Either we have this baby or you resent me forever, right?"
"But I thought you wanted a baby."
"I never wanted another baby!"
This quickly degenerates into a shouting match with nothing resolved. A week later, we have sex again. No mention is made of babies or contraceptives.

July 2007
I am in Delaware with the kids, visiting my family. Lance is in California. I have a feeling that I am pregnant, but I have had this feeling for at least 3 months before and I have been wrong. And now I am terrified--if I am pregnant, Lance will freak out. That is a given. I try to avoid alcohol in the off chance that I am, but I'm with my family--we are a family that enjoys cocktail hour--and it is impossible to decline. My period is two days late. Finally I break down and buy a pregnancy test. I have to know, I have to stop drinking if it is true.
Two lines. My heart beats rapidly in my chest, I feel light-headed. I sit on the bathroom floor, holding the test in my hand, not sure what to think. I am ecstatic. I am terrified. I can't breathe. Quietly, quickly I run out to the hall and grab the phone, sneak back to the bathroom. I dial my best friend, the one who is also pregnant with #3.
"Susanna!" I am whispering because I don't want anyone in my parents' house to hear, but also because my voice is not working properly.
"I'm pregnant."
"What? Amy? Are you okay? I can't hear you."
"I'm pregnant"
She screams in joy and laughs, "Oh my god! I'm so glad! Yay! Oh my god! I can't talk I'm so happy!"
I smile for the first time and laugh, too, nervously. But she is so full of hope I can feel the terror subsiding and I start to consider the baby. The baby that I have been wanting so much. A baby! Those teeny tiny toes! And gummy grins! And sweet sweet smelling heads!

I make it through dinner with my family somehow, put the kids to bed, retire to my room. Now I am terrified again because I have to call Lance. I know his reaction will not be what I want. But surely once he gets over the shock he will be alright. He had to know this was going to happen eventually.

"I have some news".
"I'm pregnant."
"I'm pregnant."
(Long Pause)
"Are you there?"
"Lance? Hello?"
"Yes. Yes, I'm here."
"Um, what do you think?"
"What do I think? Hmm, well, I think this is the biggest mistake of my life."
"Come on, babe, it's not that bad. It will be fun. You love babies, too, remember? And it will be easy this time, we know what to do!"
"I have to go, I have to hang up."
he hangs up the phone.

August 2007
I am sick. So sick I can barely raise my head off my pillow. Food is disgusting, yet it is the only thing that makes me feel better. I stuff chips into my mouth constantly, chips and cookies and processed foods. I carry heated frozen pizzas to my bedroom and eat them while lying down. Every time I get up, I gag. I wake in the night, the nausea so bad I feel like I am on a sailboat. I eat bowls of cereal throughout the night, and I feel slightly better, enough to fall asleep for another hour. In the morning, I cannot look at Lance or the children. Their smell makes me gag. I am green and drawn, I need to eat something but everything sounds foul. There is a metallic taste in my mouth that will not go away. Twice, I forget to feed the kids breakfast before taking them to school. But I don't care. I just need to lie down. I drop them off, stop at McDonald's for french fries, come home to my bed.
It is the worst morning sickness of my life. This is my 6th pregnancy.

Because I am so sick, Lance and I barely talk. We have said maybe 100 words to each other since I announced my pregnancy. But I don't care. I am just trying to survive. Weekends and evenings, he takes the kids, without any prompting from me, to the beach, to the park, to his parents' house. Anywhere, away from the house, where I lie in bed, stuffing my craw with nachos and Popsicles.
"He's okay", I tell my friend Susanna, "he keeps taking the kids for me, I don't even have to ask him, it's actually kind of sweet".
Except it's not sweet, not really. Because he can barely look at me, and I know, on some level, he is taking the kids not to give me a break, not because he knows how terrible I feel, but because he needs to get out of the house too. My illness makes it impossible for him to pretend this isn't happening. He hates me.

Finally, one morning. He is working from home for some reason. The kids are in school. I come down to the kitchen to forage for some chocolate chips or macaroni and cheese. I don't remember how it starts, but it does. The biggest argument fight of our marriage. I am moody and irritable, I feel like shit and I spew: what is the matter with him, why can't he be happy, why is he acting like this is so terrible? He is not the one who feels like shit, he is not the one who can't sleep, what is his fucking excuse?
It is during this argument that the word abortion is thrown around, (though he completely denies it now) and I remember saying shouting "Well you better decide if you want to abort this baby now because I'm not doing it after 10 weeks!" "Thank you", he answers quietly, "thank you for considering that option."
I am 8-1/2 weeks pregnant. I call him all kinds of bad names, stalk back upstairs, cry on the bed for hours. Then stop, because I feel too terrible to concentrate on him and what he is thinking. I can only concentrate on feeling better.
For the next few weeks, again, we hardly speak. I don't care.

September 2007
We are in Canada, vacationing with my family. I am feeling slightly better, though I still have days where the effort of speaking to anyone seems impossible. Nothing tastes good, but at least I do not feel like I have to be in bed all the time. My family is annoyed, slightly, that I am not my usual self--they don't get to see me very often, and they want to have fun with me. But I am not drinking, I go to bed early, I take naps, I don't smile that much. I am annoying to be around. I can't water ski, I can't jump off Whiskey Rock, I can't participate as much as I'd like to, or as much as they'd like me to.
I can't help it. I do my best. I remind myself and everyone else that in April there will be a baby to show for it all. (I am due April Fool's Day, a sign if I ever knew one.) Lance and I don't talk much. I read a lot. The kids have a ball with their cousins, and I am grateful that they at least, are having fun. I am sure things will turn around for Lance and I once I feel better, once the baby comes, once he gets used to the idea. In the meantime, I shut him out, afraid of what he will say if we do talk. I wait until it gets better.

September 20th, 2007
We are back in L.A. I am 13 weeks pregnant, I am feeling much better. I had a CVS the week before and should have the results in a few days. I go in for my monthly OB appt.

No heartbeat.

Okay, I'll tell the rest later. Now you can see why I put off writing this for so long. It takes forever! And it is not a happy story. Actually, I'm not sure if this is making me feel better or worse. But thanks for listening, regardless.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Random thoughts

Okay. Sometimes I am very dramatic. The truth is that while I can't seem to make myself do all the things that would improve my marriage, I am still doing some of the things, on the good days at least. I do love him, I want to be married to him.

The other day a very wise friend said, "If you still love him and you know you want to be with him, then you have to figure out a way to be happy with him. You don't want to look back at this time in 30 years, when you are not upset anymore, and regret that you didn't make the most of it."

I'm not sure why the dark days are so dark, or why even on good days I am not able to muster up the sort of kindness he deserves, but I'm trying to work on it. I'm considering seeing a counselor. So there's that.

Also I've been meaning to write a post about Lance, about why he feels the way he does, or at least how he got there. It's percolating, and it will probably help me to write it, although sometimes thinking about him just makes me angry. We have a lot of forgiving to do, the two of us.


One of the things I've been trying to do, in an effort to accept my new four-person-family reality, is embrace the good things about NOT being pregnant. Embracing the alcohol has been easy, I've been succeeding wildly at that.

Next up, trying to reclaim my body. If I am not going to be pregnant, at least I can work on not being fat. I've got 10-12 lbs of spare tire thanks to the last year of pregnancy and it's really depressing trying to fit into summer clothes.

To that end, I started walking. (I have to start slow, I am embarrassingly out of shape.) So I walked for 30 minutes around the neighborhood and promptly got shin splints. Next I tried yoga, which I Tivo'd off the Oxygen network, and all I can say is, ouch. At least doing it at home means that I am the only witness to my humiliation. May I suggest, if you have a body like mine, that you wear a t-shirt, and not just a sports bra, while doing yoga? Because the sight of your huge, cottage-cheese speckled belly hanging over the band of your yoga pants while you white knuckle through the pyramid pose (or whatever it's called) is not so much motivating as it is horrifying. Trust me on this.

I also ordered Turbo Jam (a Sundry recommendation, just like the yoga) but I have not had a chance to try it, since I threw my back out this morning. Yes, I am extremely pathetic. Now I'm hobbling around like a granny in need of a walker and who knows when I'll be able to exercise again.

Body:1 3 billion; Amy:0.

I am not sure what I'm doing here, blogging again. I don't feel like this is a permanent change for me, which is why I've felt so uncomfortable leaving comments at new-to-me blogs. I hate to forge a relationship with people, just to bail once I'm feeling less screwed up. I have been commenting some at old friends' blogs, but I just haven't yet fully embraced my position as a blogger again. So the new blogs make me feel shy. And I rather liked lurking, not feeling any obligation to comment, the last year or two when I wasn't sharing my life here.

All that as an apology. If you have left me a kind comment over the past few weeks, and I haven't reciprocated, I am sorry. It's not that I don't appreciate it, trust me, I appreciate it more than you know. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your words of wisdom and support.

Monday, May 19, 2008


His relief is palpable. It enters the room before he does, a balloon that expands, filling up all the livable space, slowly pushing me out. So I slink away, holding my grief around me like armour, sharp edges that I scrape against his soft bubble of happiness. It does not pop, and I head to the bedroom where I can be alone with my pain.

His happiness cuts me like nothing else. Yet hurting him brings me no relief either.

My marriage is crumbling around me and I do nothing to stop it. I sit here and watch the pieces drop to the floor, make no effort to pick them up and patch the hole, and occasionally take my own swing at it, to hurry up the process.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Letters of my 20 year Reunion

Dear Heavyset man sitting next to me on the red-eye,
Did you notice that all the lights on the plane were out? ALL of them? Except yours? And when I put the blanket of a thousand germs over my head to block out the glare of your "reading" light which was burning holes in my cornea, did you consider turning it off?
WHY NOT, asshole?

Just trying to get some sleep,

Dear Delta,
I know that someone has to sit in the back row of every flight. Someone has to sit in the seat that doesn't recline, has to smell lovely aroma of the latrine for 5 hours. But did it have to be me on both flights?

Seriously. What up, Delta?

32D and 33C

Dear Amy,
You are too old to take the red-eye.


Dear Men of Connecticut,
Blue blazers. Why? You know those yearbooks that were lying around, the ones from 1948 and thereabouts? Did it seem strange to you that the students in those yearbooks were wearing exactly the same clothes as you are today? Maybe you should consider something slightly different, so you don't match every other alumni in the reunion tent. Maybe a black blazer. Or, if that's too crazy, maybe a blue blazer without gold buttons.

Oh, but mixing it up by wearing pink pants instead of khakis? So very very wrong.

Every other state in America

P.S. Bermuda shorts with a blue blazer and a tie? Shudder.

Dear Universe,
I know you have it out for me lately. I get it. It's okay, you've been good to me before, I realize I have to take the bad stuff too. But making every single conversation with my former classmates go from "do you have kids?" to "I have three kids" to "do you think you'll ever try for a third?" to "isn't it fun to have three" to "I always wanted three, how can you be sure you are done at two?" etc etc ET CETERA THREE KIDS THREE KIDS THREE KIDS was a little bit harsh, don't you think?

And then having me get my period unexpectedly Saturday afternoon? Uncalled for, truly.

You got me, okay? Uncle.

Pissed off,
The one you keep fucking with

Dear Brain,
What happened to you? Yeah, yeah, red-eye, twenty years, whatever. How can you not remember so much of what went on in high school? Everyone else there seemed to have a better grasp. Nodding and smiling and pretending to remember didn't fool anyone. Should we be checked for early Alzheimer's?


Dear Former Classmate who was my best friend at one time,
Wow. I get that you're nervous. But I googled you, I know how successful you are. And you look hot. So the obscene jokes and crazy behavior just to get a laugh seemed really over the top. I mean, at first it was funny--you were always funny. But when it became clear that that was all you were going to do, when it just escalated and escalated as the night wore on, damn. It got really old.

What happened to you?

Dear Class of 1988,
I was nervous to see you all. I was. I figured that I would feel lame, that you would all strut in with your fancy jobs and your perfect lives and that I would feel inferior. I thought I would stutter over the "what do you do?" question, that I would feel fat and ugly or worse, invisible.
But it wasn't like that for me, and I hope it wasn't like that for any of you. Yeah, a lot of you have fancy jobs. And a lot of you---most of you, really--look great, look better than high school, even. But none of that seemed to matter and I am so grateful for that.

Maybe I'll even come back again before another twenty years go by.

See you in 2018?,

Dear tiny prep school full of wealthy teenagers where I spent my formative years,
I don't know what to say. For a lot of time I've hated you. What a cesspool of entitlement and snobbery and cluelessness, not to mention the preponderance of blue blazers. But you were pretty this weekend. You showed off all your new buildings, you preened under the cloudless blue sky and easy 70 degree temperature. The green fields, the lacrosse sticks and mouthguards, flying cleats and cheering parents--it all seemed promising instead of elitist somehow.
And yeah, there was a lot of pomp and arrogance too. Many of your students, former and present, do not live in a reality that would be recognizable to 95% of the rest of the world, and they maybe never will. They mostly don't have any desire to. A lot of them are assholes, are small-minded, are selfish and ridiculously out of touch. But not all of them. Some of them are even interesting. Some have broken free of that world. Some of them haven't, and yet are still kind and compassionate and funny.
We had some good times, back then, and I remembered why this weekend. Turns out, you're not all bad.


Though I do have to repost this delicious parody, just so I remember to keep it real:

Friday, May 09, 2008

Celebrity Skin

Ugh, I've got to stop writing late at night, after too many beers. Here's something to move that last post way, way down.

Ours is a neighborhood of families--plumbers and salesmen, architects and creative directors, grips and roadies, teachers. It is a tract of modest 1200 square foot homes, built in the 1940s as housing for the employees of the airport, right nearby. In recent years older folks have moved away and many of the modest homes have been remodeled, some tastefully, some not. Around the corner from us, a builder bought three homes, leveled them all and rebuilt huge, monstrous modern residences, then sold them for millions. (Well, actually, he's only sold one so far, but he's trying to sell them all for millions, and I'm sure he will eventually.) Each of them is at least 4000 square feet, making them by far the largest homes around.

A month ago, Dylan McDermott bought one of those homes. He's getting divorced, I gather, and I guess he's down-sizing. We've had a few small time actors living here before but this is the first real celebrity. We haven't seen much of him yet, although I once caught a glimpse of him driving by in his black Range Rover.

Occasionally, in our neighborhood, film crews show up. They park their huge white trailers on the street, set up barbecues and tents for gratis lunches, unpack trucks full of lights and speakers and cords. Film a commercial in one of the larger homes, then load up and head on their merry way, back to the studios for editing.

In fact, location scouts routinely come to my house and take pictures, hoping to entice their directors to shoot here. At least ten different scouts, in the year since we lived here. And yet not once has this house been chosen. I assume it's just not big enough--ours is a modern house but it's only 2700 square feet. These commercial shoots generally last one or two days and pay--wait for it--3 to 5 thousand dollars a day for the privilege of shooting in your home.

Have I mentioned how broke we are? How much we could use an extra $5000 just hand the house keys over to a producer for a day?

Yesterday, they were filming a Cool Whip commercial around the corner. At DYLAN MCDERMOTT'S HOUSE.

Does he need that $10,000? Does he? Really? I just don't think so.


In other depressing news, tonight I am headed across the country to my 20 year high school reunion. I am fat, I am old, I have wrinkles and age spots and bring no stunning achievement with me to rub in the faces of my old fellow boarding students. I am a stay-at-home-mom and I am not pregnant, and that is the extent of it.
Truthfully, I don't really care. I am only going because it will allow me to see two of my most favorite people in the world at the same time, women I communicate with only over email, women that I haven't seen in years--one, not since her wedding 12 years ago! They both live in New England, and since I live in California, and don't venture north of Philadelphia when I fly East to visit family, this is a chance I can't pass up.
Wish me luck.

Thursday, May 08, 2008


People I love, people that love me, offer support. And I nod, and make the appropriate gracious comments, but inside my head a different dialogue rages:

I didn't just have a miscarriage, I had a second trimester miscarriage. I didn't just have a second trimester miscarriage, I had two second trimester miscarriages. I didn't just have two miscarriages, I had four miscarriages. Yeah, I have two living children but one of them has an incurable birth defect.
I have it worse. I have it worse. I have it worse. Don't tell me you understand, you with your single 6 week miscarriage. That is nothing, NOTHING compared to this. You can never understand my pain.
*** ***

In the waiting room at the clinic, I sit for hours. I have sent Lance home to be with the kids, told him I'd call him when it is over and I need a ride home. We got here at 3:30, now it is two hours later, and the receptionist guesses that it will be close to 8pm before I am done.

There is another family waiting, too--the father, I assume, and then two older women. After a few hours I think I have it figured out: father, his mother-in-law, and his mother. His wife is in with the doctors and I can't quite put together if she is here for an elective late term abortion, or if she, like me, just needs a dead baby removed. I don't ask questions of them, and they don't of me--it is awkward, if I am grieving and they are only here for relief--we don't want to make the wrong assumption.

Finally we grouse about the long wait, about how cold it is, why can't the magazines be up to date, jeez, if we have to wait so long it sure would be nice to have a TV in here. The mother-in-law tells me, eventually, that this is their third day here. I understand, from the muted undertones, not from anything explicit, that this is not an abortion. "It's her first pregnancy", she explains, "that's why it takes three days." "This is my seventh" I say ruefully, and her eyes widen as she gasps, "Seven miscarriages?" I try to correct her, "No, no, only my fourth mis . ." but at the same time the nurse has come into the waiting room, is corralling all of them back into the recovery room, and I'm not sure she hears me.

But I get a thrill then, when I see the shock in her eyes. A little glimmer of--what, exactly? I'm not sure, because it is gone as soon as it appears. But I do know that it felt good, and I so badly want to feel good again.

*** ***

As everyone knows, the problem with the Pain Olympics is that when you finally win, when you finally walk up to the podium and accept your trophy, that's when you realize that it's really Freaky Friday Backwards Day, because the true winner of the Pain Olympics is actually the biggest loser of all. And if you've been really playing with skill, then on top of the trophy, you get the enviable prize of alienating all the people that have been trying to help you.

I don't mean to participate, really I don't. But if I agree that your pain equals mine, and you seem to be over yours, then logically I must get over mine, too. And I am not ready to do that, not yet. I want to feel that thrill I felt at the clinic, however sick it may be. I want to shock you with my pain. And part of me feels like if I just scream loud enough, then maybe I can reach the right person, the one who will be able to make this all go away.

I am not finished screaming, I am not ready to give up my spot on the team. I know you are trying to help me but I do not have the words to thank you. All I can do is ask you to try harder.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


I click on this blog constantly, searching in vain for comments. Me, who has not blogged in years, who hasn't really missed it, not the way I thought I would--all of a sudden I am back, and I am desperate for company. Tonight I washed dishes and wondered, what am I looking for? What am I hoping to read, every time I click on the POW bookmark?

But I don't really need to wonder. I know, I knew, I admitted it to myself immediately. I am looking for that one comment that will make this go away. I am hoping, inexplicably, for an answer, and I want that answer to be: No, don't worry, your baby didn't really die. Just do this, and you will have a baby September 1st, just like you planned. Better yet, you will have a newborn right now. Your son, born on April Fool's Day. (Should his due date have been a sign? I thought it was so appropriate, but now, now I am the only fool.)

I have been lurking, desperately, on a new blog, Glow in the Woods. A blog for women who have lost babies. But I do not really belong there. These women have lost full term babies, where I have only miscarried. And while I know it is not the same--my loss at 17 weeks is but a drop in the bucket compared to a 38 week still birth--I still find myself there, reading their posts and crying, and raising my hand, eagerly, saying, "Me, too! Me, too!"

I sing along to the mom station I listen to on the TV while I'm washing dishes or sweeping up. Love songs, easy songs, slow songs. (It is called "The Blend" and it's embarrassingly corny.) And I am so surprised: all these songs about heartache, and not one about a dead baby. All about the seemingly innocuous problem of lost love. Then, of course, "Tears in Heaven" comes on. I almost laugh--I do laugh--a grotesque cackle that quickly turns to sob.

When do the tears stop? That's what I want to know.

I pull a block of tinfoil out of the freezer, read the notation on the zip lock bag that encircles it. "Lamb, 3-22-08". "He was still alive then," I think, as I thunk it on the counter. Isn't there some saying about April being the cruelest month? It always will be, for me.

But when did he die? I just don't know. Last time, I remember a moment in the grocery store. I felt faint, suddenly, and had to stop, and concentrate, right myself on my wobbling legs. My heart rate sped up inexplicably and there was a long time--30 seconds, maybe--when I considered calling out to other shoppers for help. But it passed, and I chalked it up to random pregnancy oddness. Until two days later at the ultrasound of course. This time, nothing. He was alive, he was kicking, then he wasn't. And I was pretending he was. Maybe he died right after my last OB appointment, at 15-1/2 weeks. But I don't want to believe that. I want to believe he was 17-1/2 weeks, I want to give him as many days as I can. The more days I can give him, the more validation I can give my own grief. It's okay to still be sad, right? He was practically a baby.

Would it make me feel better if he had made it to twenty weeks? Then I would have a death certificate to put in the scrapbook.

I can't decide. Do I wish I had more time with him, or do I wish I had lost him from the start, before I had a chance to get attached? I have had early miscarriages, too, and I know that kind of pain. It is different from this kind, but still painful.

Truly, of course, I don't wish either of those things. I only wish he was still with me, swimming around safe inside me, kicking and sucking his thumb.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Chapter, closed

Today I went to my OB to have the IUD put back in. I started crying on the way to the appointment, even though I'd been fine all morning, even though I hadn't cried in almost 24 hours. Just the thought of that office, the grey carpet, the dusty rose colored sofas with that weird 80s print in teal and gold. The nurses who are so nice every time they see me, always remembering my name now, being sure to smile big, and being extra careful not to ask me how I'm doing. The ultrasound room, the room where twice I have lain on that table, searching the monitor in vain for a blinking heartbeat, the movement of a leg, anything. I can picture so clearly the clothes I am wearing--the first time a flowered short sleeve top from Old Navy, the second a red turtleneck. I hear the silence in the room, feel my sweat starting, remember how I breathed--"I have to sit up now'--and ripped off the paper gown, swinging my legs down and holding my head in my hands, while my ob holds the wand, useless, in her hand.

No, I don't have nice memories of that office. The anticipation alone is enough to start the waterworks.

But I composed myself. Drove to the appointment, smiled at the receptionist. Listened to the nurse tell me a funny story, one I could tell she had practiced since I spoke to her earlier, confirming the appointment. Nodded when she confirmed which IUD I was getting. Undressed from the waist down--how many times have I done that in this room, and for what end?--grabbed a magazine to read, anything to keep my mind off what is happening, to stop the tears that are there, right there, filling up my eyelids at the slightest provocation. (In the parking garage I almost gasp with the effort of keeping them in, repeat to myself as mantra: it is okay, it is okay, it is okay, it is okay. And the elevator comes, another rider smiles at me, and it works, the tears stay put. At least for the ride up.)

"Are you sure?" my OB asks kindly. "We don't have to do this now." I nod, wiping my eyes, as tears squeeze out, a constant drip that I cannot plug. "Amy?" she asks again, and I realize she needs more from me, a more forceful response, a stronger sense that we are doing the right thing. I breathe in. "Yes", I say, struggling to keep my voice from cracking, but it comes out a whisper. "Is this really what you want?" my OB asks again. Furiously, I wipe away the tears. "No, no it's not what I want at all, it's not what I want. But I have to, I need to. My husband . . . I can't do it again." Pause. Louder. "Yes. Yes. Please."

A few cramps later it is done. Aside from a follow-up appointment in one month, I will have no reason to return to this office for a year.

(A little more than one year ago, that is when I had my old IUD removed. I remember the excitement, the anticipation. "Look", said my OB, pointing to the ultrasound, "you've got some great follicles here." "Oh, I don't know if I can convince my husband to start trying right away", I say with a smile, "so far he's only partially on board for this." "Well, go home, make him a nice dinner, open a bottle of wine--or two--and see what happens." And so I did.)


6:53 am, the kids have climbed in bed with us.

Vivian: I want breakfast, Mommy, let's get up!
Isaac: I'm hungry!
Vivian: Is your belly hungry? (Poking my noticeably squishy belly) Is the baby hungry?
Me: There's no baby in my belly anymore, remember?
Vivian: But you can get another baby.
Me: No, no more babies for us.
Vivian: Please? I like babies!
Me: No, sweetie, I have enough babies with you and your brother!
Vivian: I'm not a baby! Hey, Mommy can you go to the doctor today? Go to the doctor and get another baby, okay, Mommy?
Isaac: Get up, get up, I'm hungry!
Vivian: I want breakfast!

Slightly Better
At dinner, apropos of nothing:
Isaac: Mommy, I know that sometimes grown-ups cry when they miss their babies. Like if their children was at camp they would miss them and that would make them cry. And when their babies die they cry too. Like when you wanted your baby and your baby died and then you cried. Right?
Mommy: yes, that's right.
Isaac: And sometimes I cry when I miss you, Mommy.

At lunch, apropos of nothing.
Isaac: I know, Mommy, what if you and me were watching the Tarheels, and they were playing Duke, and Duke had zero points and the Tarheels had 199 points!
Me: That would be awesome!
Isaac: Yeah, awesome!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


I am fine I am fine I am fine. Some days I am even good. But it comes back to me in so many little ways, this sadness, this heavy weight threatening to suffocate me.

I glance back at my children in the rear view mirror of our new Honda Pilot: Isaac in his booster in the third row, Vivian in the car seat in the second row. Next to Vivian, the empty space where the infant seat should go.

A package comes in the mail: two cans of Enfamil infant formula and a letter congratulating me on my newborn. The one that should have been born the day I miscarried the next.

I apply for a teacher's aide position and am directed to a doctor for a TB test. The new patient form I fill out has several sections, among them: Menstruation history--list the date of your last period. '11/25/07' I fill in dutifully, then have to scrawl in margins to explain: "pregnancy lost to miscarriage 4/08".

In the exam room, the doctor explains that TB tests are not covered by insurance and asks what other health issue I might have at the moment, this way she can charge insurance for the office visit instead. "Well, I had a miscarriage two weeks ago", I say, and I don't even cry. But then she says so softly, "I am so sorry to hear that" and the tears spring back in my eyes. Quickly she makes her notations and leaves the room, afraid, I'm sure of a total breakdown. Though that doesn't happen. (Of course.)

Bored, I surf blogs aimlessly, and happen upon one where the blogger has just lost identical twins at 19 weeks. Fascinated and hungry, I read her posts, the ones where it happened, the ones where she is grieving, over and over. I am jealous of the comments she receives and contemplate leaving my own: "Hey, me too! I lost my son, too! At 17 weeks! And also another one at 13 weeks just a few months ago. What about me?" But I don't.

I finally talk to my mother and she is good, she doesn't mention it, we talk breezily for a few moments, carefully avoiding the elephant in the room, laughing joylessly at small talk-- and then she says "How are you doing?" "Oh, I'm fine, I'm great, better than I've ever been" I respond with what I hope is the appropriate amount of ruefulness. But I can feel those tears coming again, and my voice starts to go ragged and I have to get off the phone so I can sob again.

I don't know why I can't talk to her. It is not because of something she has said or something I am afraid she will say. It is because I can't hear her voice without crying. And I tired--so tired--of crying.

"Dr. Platt" reads the notation on my calendar, and in a particularly strong moment I seize the phone to make the call. "I need to cancel an appointment, I tell the receptionist, and she dutifully looks up my date. "Okay" she says finally. "Are you going elsewhere for your twenty week scan?" "No. No. No. I, the baby died." I say, and hang up, and sob.

A week later, the phone rings and I check caller id. "Center for Fetal Medicine" it reads and I look again, surprised. What could they want? Does the doctor have some information for me somehow? I pick up and the receptionist asks "Did you forget your appointment this morning? Your twenty week scan is today." "No, I canceled." I replied. "The baby died, I cancelled last week." Hang up, and sob.

My d&e at the clinic was performed on April 3rd. I was "lucky" because the baby had decomposed enough that it only had to be a one day procedure instead of the usual two days for a 17 week fetus. In fact, while the baby measured 15 weeks on April 2nd at my OB's, the very next day he only measured 14 weeks. "I can't even get a good measurement," the tech said. "The head is already breaking down". "That's my son" I thought, but I said nothing, and let the tears come. "I'll bring in the anesthesiologist" said the tech.

At the "counseling session" before the d&e, the doctor came in after reading my chart. "well, you've got quite the pregnancy history, don't you?" she asked gently. I nodded. "But you have two children" she adds, in a strangely accusatory tone. I nod again. "Any questions?" she asks. And I don't. I have been through this before, I have worked at an abortion clinic before, I know much more than I want to know about any of this. So I say "no", and she leaves.

I bleed parts of him out of my body every day. I have done this before of course, so I am used to it. But it is a special kind of cruelty, these bloody pads I must wad up and throw in the garbage.

A hand-addressed envelope appears in the mail and I wonder, who has had time to send me a handwritten sympathy card already? It's only been a few days. The return address is in Orange County, and I can think of no one I know who lives there. A friend of Lance's? This seems impossible. I open the card, hungrily, to find an invitation to a baby shower. Lance's cousin, having her third baby, due at the end of June.

My children are obsessed with the Junie B. Jones books, since my sister brought a bunch of them out when she visited, right before we got the news. In them, kindergartner Junie welcomes a baby brother to her family. I loved reading this books before, thinking how appropriate, since Isaac will be a kindergartner when we bring this new baby home. Now reading them is not as enjoyable, I will say that right here.

(What was his name? I liked Oscar, though I never said it aloud. I was waiting until I could feel more confident that we would actually bring a baby home. Lance liked Felix, he said, months before we even got pregnant the first time. And I am driving home one day when it hits me: aren't those the names from the Odd Couple? Oscar and Felix?)

Before my appt with the OB on April 2nd, I knew he was gone. Did I ever mention that? For about a week--at least a week--I knew it was over. Not in any place that I was admitting it, but deep in the recesses of my brain and my heart. For a week, I didn't feel him move, never during the day, but every night, every single night I would get into bed and lie there, and minutes later, I kid you not, he would kick. One kick, and I would smile, and say "good boy" and go right to sleep. Can you believe the idiocy? What a fool I was! What baby kicks one kick at the same time every single day? It embarrasses me to admit it, even now.

I walk into the garage, see the double stroller. Feeling strong, I head back to the house, email the friend who is due in August, see if she wants it. Decide to pack up all the baby boy stuff to hand over, as well as the baby girl stuff (she's having a girl). She comes over, brings her 18 month old and I clean out the garage. Hand over all my baby stuff, including prenatal vitamins. It is fine, I am fine I do not feel sad. We are done with this phase of our life, we do not need baby stuff anymore. We will never need it again. It is a relief. It is a weight off my shoulders. She heads off. I return to the house and sob.

Sobbing does not make me feel better. And yet the tears are always there, just underneath, threatening to overflow at the first kind word. Please do not be nice to me, I cannot handle the kindness of friends or strangers. Talk about basketball (goddamn Tarheels) or the weather, but do not ask me how I am doing. And yet: ask about me! help me get through this! You can't. I have to do it alone. I am amazed at the depth of this well of tears, will it ever dry up?

I have imaginary conversations with my friends, with strangers, with my husband. Conversations about the lost baby, the lost babies. These conversations are healing and I am ably to talk freely and openly about all of it. In real life, I clam up. I say nothing except "wow, it sure is hot today".

At night I go to bed early, the way I have every night for the last year, this last year that I have been pregnant and exhausted. But I am not exhausted anymore. So I wake up in the middle of the night, alone with my thoughts and silent tears.

In the kitchen at lunch, I hesitate: 'oh, I shouldn't have tuna fish today', the thought sneaks in. The same one I have thought for a year, a year of policing the amount of fish I eat, the sandwich meat, the cheese, the alcohol. And then I remember. Yes, have the tuna. Have as much tuna as you fucking want, Amy.

How are you doing? my mother in law asks. The same one who didn't want us to have a third child. Did they say why? It's probably because you got pregnant again too soon. "No", I answer calmly, the Corona next to me keeping me numb, "the doctor had given us the okay to try again." Well, then, I guess that's why they say the childbearing years end when they do, she replies. "No," I say again, with no rancor in my voice, "actually since the CVS results came back okay, that means the chromosomes were normal and those are the only things affected by age." Later, I am enraged by this conversation and have wonderful self-affirming arguments with her in my head. But aloud I say nothing. There is nothing to say.

At the kindergarten round up at Isaac's new school I run into a mother I know very loosely. She is carrying her 6 month old in a baby bjorn on her chest. When I saw her last I was pregnant, she had her new baby with her and I was dying to tell her. But I couldn't, I was only in the first trimester then. And of course now there is nothing to say.

I pack up the maternity clothes that mock me, hanging in the closet for a year, close the boxes, carry them downstairs and away. But my regular clothes don't fit me, and I must squeeze into the same pants I wore post-partum with both of my children, almost every day. The pants that bring back memories of sleepless nights, nursing newborns, teeny tiny toes. The empty place in the closet where those clothes once hung mocks me, too. Empty closet, empty uterus. Empty.

Now, there is boredom. Lonely mornings while the kids are at school. I am not tired anymore, I am not sick, I have no excuse or desire to sit quietly watching bad television. So I sit. I read blogs, but I have to unsubscribe from so many. So many written by mothers that are pregnant, or giving birth, things I don't want to read about anymore, although just three weeks ago, I was eating it up.

We are broke. We have been broke, independently of the miscarriages, for a few months, but this month is the worst. I do not have money for groceries, or to pay bills. "Your insurance doesn't cover the facility, since we are a clinic" says the woman on the phone. "Our discounted cash rate for a d&e at that gestation is $2600." My doctor does not want to do it at the hospital, insists that the clinic specializes in this kind of thing, that it is worth the money, trust her. In the end, she is right--a better experience than my hospital d&c, in the same way that falling out of a ten story building is better than falling out of a 12 story building-- but the bill still feels like a slap in the face.

There is nothing to say, I tell well-intentioned friends. And it is true. There is nothing. I have nothing of him except a few ultrasound pictures, the wristband from the clinic where I had the procedure. I paste it in my scrapbook next to the ultrasound from our last lost boy.

But I miss him. I miss him terribly.

Unedited. This is therapy for me and I expect nothing of you, the readers. I am not returning to the blog for any length of time, just for the time, like now, when I need a place for all these thoughts to go. Thank you for listening.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Pregnancy #1: Age 19; terminated

Pregnancy #2: Age 30; miscarried at 5 weeks

Pregnancy #3: Age 31; "missed" miscarriage, baby died at 5 weeks, pregnancy lost naturally at 10 weeks

Pregnancy #4: Age 33; resulted in first live birth (Isaac!) Failed AFP at 16 weeks, given 1 in 11 chance for Down Syndrome. Level 2 ultrasound revealed marker for Down Syndrome on heart; sent immediately for amnio. Results come back normal. Low amniotic fluid at 29 weeks resulting in 10 weeks of bed-rest. Birth long but uneventful. Eventually discover he has rare condition (1 in 20,000) that occured somewhere around 7 month of pregnancy, possibly due to low amniotic fluid, but more probably "just a fluke". No cure, but there is treatment.

Pregnancy #5: Age 34; resulted in second live birth (Vivian!) Failed AFP at 16 weeks, given 1 in 16o chance for Down Syndrome. Level 2 ultrasound showed healthy baby, amnio declined. C-section delivery due to breech position. Currently healthy, unless you count extreme stubborness, brain-piercing whining and innumerable tantrums an illness (which maybe we should).

Pregnancy #6: Age 37; miscarried at 12.5 weeks, 1 week post CVS procedure. CVS results come back: genetically normal, boy. Doctors guess miscarriage caused by CVS but cannot guarantee this. (Aside: CVS was performed by the "pioneer" of CVSes; he has a 99.5% success rate, well above the national average.)

Pregnancy #7: Age 38; uneventful 1st trimester punctuated by biweekly ultrasounds, baby seems to be growing appropriately. Sent for 1st trimester screening at 12 weeks; nuchal fold test results in "gray area", meaning that they cannot say whether baby looks good or not and must wait for the results of the blood test, which we should get in about a week. As I have failed two prior blood tests, chances are extremely good I will fail again, at which point I need to decide whether to have the freaking CVS test again. Meanwhile, good friend gives birth to 3rd child after passing her screening tests and finds out child has Down Syndrome anyway.

UPDATE: Blood test came back positive: 1 in 87 chance for Down's. Not as bad as I thought, but we did the CVS anyway, mostly because Lance is freaked out by the fact that our friend's baby has Down Syndrome even after she had a good screening. CVS performed on Thursday by the same doctor who did Isaac's amnio, preliminary results came back Friday afternoon: everything looks good, boy. Now we just wait and see if the baby survives the procedure. Ultrasound scheduled for Monday morning at OB.


I realize that some people have struggled much more than this but still I am feeling particularly sorry for myself today. And also a little pissed off. Why is this so difficult? Why do some people breeze through the reproductive stuff while others (read: me) face block after block? And perhaps most importantly, why in the hell do I think I should have a 3rd child, knowing what I know about my own reproductive history? Why can't I just be happy with the two beautiful children that I am blessed to have? What is wrong with me?