Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A different kind of New Years resolution

I haven't written much lately. I've tried to get caught up in the Christmas spirit, but this year no one really seemed to feel it. Myself included. We all wanted to just get it over with. Everyone was happy to see each other, but we all spoke of our relief that the season was ending.

Part of it is not having you here, at least for your Daddy and me. It's hard, with so many new and about-to-be-here babies in our life, not having you here to share in it. This should have been your first Christmas, and I couldn't seem to care without you. I think your Grandmas felt that too.

I don't really know what to say. It's hard sometimes, when I sit down to write to you, to put the swirling collective cloud of lovejoygratitudesorrowlonlinessfrustrationgriefwonder thoughts into words and sentences. I can't make linear statements about these completely nonliniar thoughts, and I can't make them make sense, because most of them, considered, don't.

I think about you often in whatever place you are. I often think about you playing with other children who have gone before you--particularly with Layla. Less often I think of you with your great-grandparents, and with my own brother who died at about the same age you did. Sometimes I think of you as what age you would be now. Other times I think of you as an older child, even as an adult. And sometimes I imagine you as a being so much wiser and more conscious than myself, now that you aren't limited by these pods of electricity and raw meat.

Sometimes I feel like you are near me; some little spiritual nudge, a drawing of my attention to some small thing--sometimes helpful, sometimes funny, sometimes sad. You make me see the patterns in the frost, the shape of the bare white trees against the dark firs in the woods, the moonlight reflecting off of waves. And I see something small and perfect and beautiful like that, and part of my heart says that's Isaac. Brief and beautiful and perfect. I can carry the moonlight on the crashing waves on Christmas Eve in my heart the same way I carry the indescribable shade of red your tiny lips were.

I find myself confused by my own writing here. Why the serious tone? Why are these letters--this blog--not funny? Why can I be my dark, funny self here? I'm thoughtful and reflective outside of this, of course. But the biggest thing in our life is laughter. Your very name means laughter. And the people closest to us, to you, are the very same people I can make pitch black deadbaby jokes to. Even alone, I make jokes. Constantly. Out loud. (You might have noticed this, actually).

I guess this post (which, originally, was going to be me saying that every time I watch Mythbusters, I have the random intrusive thought that Kari and I were pregnant at the same time and her baby is alive and mine isn't) has winnowed itself down to a New Year's resolution to be more relaxed and funny here.

Perhaps it is a different phase of my grief; the part where I don't just talk about the deep, quiet, solemn parts about your life, or the wistful memories of it. Perhaps now is when I write fewer "letters" and more "blog posts." Perhaps it is time to speak not just to you, but openly to those who are reading this.

Hello, world.

It's a start.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I want my baby now

Sometimes missing you is almost more than I can stand. Today was one of those days. I had to work, so of course I had my perky groove on. But I wasn't really there. I was distracted and clumsy, and on every break I would sit in my car, unable to cry, rocking back and forth and whimpering to myself.

I want my baby now.

I want my son.

Really, jokes over. I want my son back now.

I can't stand this. I want my baby back!

I wish I had something more eloquent or interesting to say. But I don't.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Just another day

I've been missing you a lot this week. Part of it is the miscarriage. I don't really feel right saying "your brother or sister" about it anymore, because really, I don't feel like I lost another baby. There wasn't a person there. Not like with you. You had so much personality even in that short time we were together. You liked riding in the car--you'd always bounce around, especially if I sang along with the radio. You hated being poked and prodded. You'd always kick indignantly when somebody poked at you. It was a good thing, too--because Daddy and Grandma P got to feel you kick from the outside before you were gone. You would get very quiet if I played music just for you--as soon as the headphones hit my belly, you would stop whatever you were doing.

I wish you were here now. Most of my friends have (or, if all goes well, are about to have) beautiful, healthy babies. And here I sit, smoking in the house and watching a movie. Your room is full of things we don't have a place for. All the little clothes we bought for you are packed away in a box, along with all my maternity clothes.

I just want you here now. I want to know the boy you should have been. I want to show you off at holiday parties. I want to see you smile, to hear you're gurgly little laugh. I want to kiss your belly and dance you around the room. I want to curl in my safe little corner of the couch with you tucked safely in my arms.

I want you in my life. Not in my memory.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

It looks like we've lost your brother or sister. I woke up this morning and my first thought was that I didn't feel sick today. The spotting had already started. I went to the doctor and they did an ultrasound, where they showed the new baby was measuring at 4 weeks instead of 5 and a half, which makes a big difference very early on. It's gotten worse and it's pretty clear this one isn't going to work out.

It makes me sad and angry. I feel humiliated that I told people about your new brother or sister--we should have waited, I guess. I was only telling people I wanted to be there to support me if something did go wrong, but instead I'm just ashamed and want to hide.

I feel guilty that I don't feel that sad. Disappointed, sure, but mostly I just feel like, well, that's a bummer, maybe next time. And I miss you all the more, because I shouldn't have to go through this. I should already have a living child.

I'm still so grateful for the life you did have. I love you so much.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today was strange. Wonderful, but strange. We had a quiet family thanksgiving dinner with our family, then a raucous dinner with friends. At both places, people talked about you, asked about you, said they were sorry you were gone. We're so incredibly lucky--everyone has been very supportive. We decided that we didn't want to act like you never were. We talk about you often, and pretty much everyone seems to respect that.

At the same time, I felt like I was abandoning you. Because today we told people about your new brother or sister, who we just found out we're expecting. Your new sibling will be born right around your birthday; the due date is July 26, and you were born just ten days earlier.

It's so confusing. It feels like a betrayal. Sometimes I talk to your new sibling, but every time I do, I feel like I should really be talking to you. And I feel like I can't see or hold either of you right now; if you're only near me in your spirits, then somehow I should be trying to "keep it fair" how much I talk to either of you.

This new baby doesn't change how much Daddy and I love you. Not one bit. And our family will always be incomplete; we will always be missing you.

Today, on this day we're supposed to be grateful, I am grateful for both my children. I'm grateful for you, for your short life inside me and for how much you changed Daddy's and my world. And I'm grateful for your brother or sister.

Take care of each other, if you're out there.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Swine Flu

Mommy and Daddy got swine flu.

That? Sucked. It's the first thing I'm not sorry you missed. It feels like being the butt of a cosmic joke, because we were exposed to the virus over the weekend of your memorial. That stings. Especially since I got the H1N1 vaccination two weeks before that--shortlisted because I was listed as pregnant. Didn't do me much good, unless it made the sickness milder.

It was rather nice having such an extended period of time off (five days, two workdays after taking six days). But that has sting in it too; I should be on maternity leave. Generally speaking, I like my job--at times I even love it. But the holidays are rough at work, and I was so excited that I could spend an entire holiday season--my favorite time of the year--free of work.

But instead I just got home from the holiday meeting. I'm worried that I won't get enough sleep before I go back tomorrow. And several people are irritated with me that I completely messed up the schedule for everyone else by missing work. Right now, everything feels unfair.

I miss you.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Last Moments

You should have been born this week, and that makes me think a lot about the birth you had. It's hard to talk about even now.

We left for the city early--a two and a half hour drive. Our mothers were in one car, and your Daddy and I were in another. We listened to a book on tape--Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince--because music was too exhausting for me. The drive is a blur. I remember I was okay for most of the drive. But when we got into the city I began to panic, and when we turned into the hospital driveway I started to panic and cry almost hysterically. I felt in every bone that I couldn't possibly go through with this.

Your Daddy helped me out of the car. I had to hang on his arms pretty heavily. I couldn't look at anything. Anyone. The only thing that was real was your father's arm around me. We had luggage with us, but I couldn't tell you who carried what. We went up to the waiting room. You were still kicking; bouncing around inside me for the last time. I couldn't stop crying. The waiting room was full of babies and women with round bellies whose babies would live. I made it to a chair and curled up. Hid my face and let the tears fall. The wait was endless but I didn't want them to call our names. I wanted to run.

I didn't run. I could only do this one thing for you--I could be a strong, loving mother once and set you free from a life of agony and limitations and surgeries and pain. Or I could be a cowardly, weak mother, forcing you to suffer all the pain I feared. I held my arms around my belly and rocked you, breathing deeply to calm myself. I didn't want your last moments to be full of anxiety and fear.

They called our names. Grandma L decided to wait for us, so it was just Daddy and Grandma P and you and me. A friendly, eager-to-help lady took us into the room, where we met a doctor and an ultrasound technician. They were so kind to us. I asked if you would feel pain. She said no, and gently put an arm around me and said "Just remember, this is as close and safe and warm as you could ever hold him. If he was outside you, you couldn't hold him as close as he is now. And any pain he would have felt you are taking on yourself." Those words have stayed with me--every moment I suffer is a moment you don't. So I take this suffering gladly to spare you.

They did a final ultrasound--my belly still sore and bruised from the diagnostics just days before. And there you were on the screen, one last time. They looked you over and confirmed all the defects the other doctors had seen. And then they let us have a chance to say goodbye. They showed us your little, perfect face one more time. You pursed your lips over and over, as if you were blowing kisses to us to say goodbye too. All of us saw the kisses. I will always remember those kisses.

And I was at peace. My breath was slow and deep. My mother was nearby, but it was your father who held me. He stood at the head of the table and bent over me, his forehead pressed to mine, his arms around my shoulders and holding my hands in his, so tight. The prick of the needle was painful, the maneuvering of it worse. The doctors' voices faded away and all I could hear was your father. "Breathe with me," he said, and breathed, slow and deep, steady and rhythmic. My mind begged for them to stop the needle but I felt no pain or fear in my heart.

Finally they took the needle out. They told us it would take a few minutes, and they left us in the room alone. Just you and me and your Daddy, one last time. And we held each other and felt you kick once or twice as you left. Then there was quiet. No pain in my body, and for the moment, none in my heart. Just this overpowering, glowing feeling of peace. And it was over. You were gone. The rush had passed. Now all we had to do was go over to the main hospital for you to be born. We took a little walk first. My mother, your Grandma P, said that as they'd used the needle, she'd had...not quite a vision, but a deep image of her mother coming into the room, beaming, and wrapping you up in a blanket and taking you with her.

I remember the peace, that it was over. Your struggle was done, you would never feel a moment's pain. My pain waited, patient. It would come, but for that time, it waited its turn.

I'm sorry, my little one. I cannot finish the story of your birth right now. I am too tired from writing what I've been afraid to write for so long. I love you Isaac. Never forget, everything we've done, every moment, was for you. Is for you.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


You should be here today.

I should be inside, keeping the house warmer than it probably needs to be. I should be crying because I still can't get you to latch on right, and carefully sitting on a doughnut pillow, trying not to worry about the couch. Your Daddy should be holding you with more confidence today. He should be looking at you with that adoring gaze that, until now, only I've gotten. He should be laughing at my mother, who would be fretting over exactly how many diapers she should change to be a perfect help without stepping on our toes. Our mothers should be telling stories about when we were babies and we should be making phone calls and facebook updates with pictures of our brand new son. We should be laughing and crying and most of all rejoicing in this little boy we all wanted so badly and loved so very much.

We should be.

But that's not what happened today. Today your Daddy woke me up to help him find a shirt to wear to work. Today he's supposed to call the genetic counselor for an update on all the testing they're doing on the bits of you and me they have. Today I got up and was out of instant coffee and milk, so pulled the bottle of diet pepsi your Daddy bought by accident to caffeinate myself. Today I bundled up in my warm fleece pajamas, in thick slippers and a hat, to sit shivering in the garage with my laptop so I can smoke at the same time I type. Today I will watch movies and do laundry, eat leftover pizza, and work on your baby book. Today I will smoke at least a pack of cigarettes.

There isn't anything wrong with the today I have. But it is so far removed from the today I want that it boggles my mind. Today my belly should be empty, but not my arms. Today I should hurt, but in my body not my heart. Today I should make milk, but it should be to feed you. Today I should cry, but they should be tears of joy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Milk for Ashes

My body is still making milk for you.

It blows my mind. You died more than three months ago. And I've made milk for you every day since you were born. Not much; not more than a few drops each day.

I'm glad. I actually check almost every day to see if it's still coming. It feels like the only tie I have to you--the only proof you were real. It reminds me that it's okay that I'm still sad. If my body hasn't gotten over you yet, maybe it's okay that my heart hasn't. My body is just crying with me...but it's tears are white.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I wish

I wish I could hold you one more time. I remember so clearly how your little head fit into my hand. I wish I had held you longer. I wish I had kissed you more. I wish I could be in that moment where the world stood still and it was just you and me. It was only a few minutes, but it was ours.

Today I printed out all the pictures I have of you to put in your baby book. I've spent all day looking at all the pictures of you--picking which ones I want in your album, scanning in the ultrasound so I can keep them on better-quality paper. They're spread out in what would have been your room.

Looking at them makes me miss you more. I wish your life wasn't summed up in a handful of 4x6's. I wish I had more to hold than an empty blanket. I wish you were kicking inside of me, counting down the days until you came.

I wish.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Planning your memorial is so hard. Your daddy and I just can't seem to pull it all together. There aren't many guests coming, and we know no one is expecting anything of us. But nothing feels quite right. And so many odd little obstacles keep cropping up. Enough money, enough time...and we're both just dragging our feet over everything. Can't get the rocket ordered, don't have time to build it. Can't get the pictures printed, don't have the energy to put your scrapbook together. Can't even really talk it out because it's too hard to manage.

These weeks, what would have been the last few before you were born, are grueling. Both of us have little fits and spurts of energy that's almost manic; both of us are expending crazy amounts of energy at work--Daddy, because he has a new and very busy job, and me because when I step into work I step into this beaming, welcoming, witty, charming shell that takes almost all I have to keep up, and that sometimes takes hours of private weeping to recover from.

At home we tend to look at the house, which so often lately is messy and feels out of control. I think we both feel out of control right now. We're both drinking too much, letting too much stuff (from paperwork to garbage bags) pile up, and everything feels overwhelming.

I think your daddy is feeling it lately too. I don't think it's just that he comes home and finds me with tears in my eyes. I think a lot of it is planning this. When we took out your ashes to figure out how much there was, he noticed the little metal disc that came with them. He took it; put it on his keychain and I've seen him touching it. His eyes are as sad as mine.

We both miss you, and we miss each other too. We're still so very close, and we still take care of each other. But it feels like the parts of us that went with you ache. And so often it just feels like neither of us can cope. So we do our best, day by day, giving each other slack and holding each other up, holding on for whatever is coming next.

We miss you, Isaac. We miss you so much.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I can't be sad.

I can't be sad. I was the top seller in my district two days ago. I worked yesterday morning, then ran errands, came home and cleaned the house, made vegetable soup and bread from scratch, ironed your Daddy's clothes for tomorrow, spent some time with both your grandmothers.

I can't be sad. I slept in today, woke up with the cat sprawled across me, purring for all she's worth. The sky is almost perfectly clear, the kind your Daddy always calls a bluebird sky. The trees are fully committed to putting on their fall colors, and the air is crisp and clear and cool.

I can't be sad. We have enough money to pay all our bills, and some extra this month so both your Daddy's new speakers and my new cell phone are arriving tomorrow.

I can't be sad. I have the next two days off.

I can't be sad.

I can't be sad.

I can't be sad.

I'm too tired to be sad.

Too tired from not being sad.

Monday, September 28, 2009


I haven’t been able to write, because I haven’t been able to feel. For the past few weeks I’ve felt numb. Detached, dazed, unable to accept the reality of what has happened. Perhaps I’ve helped this dreamy unreality by self medicating. Perhaps not; when I’ve gone days at a time without I feel no more attached to the world than when I’m floating above it. I’d also put forth the argument that the anti-anxiety medication I’m taking makes me drifty—but again, I go days at a time without taking any (sometimes I don’t need them; sometimes I withhold them from myself, forcing myself to breathe through a panic attack in case I might feel something when it’s over) and the sensation that I’m playacting my life persists.

I can’t feel your spirit, no matter how hard I try. I haven’t wanted to look at your picture; I haven’t touched your blankets or ached over your ashes. Half the time I haven’t even worn the little blackbird pendant that I say represents you. It’s like you never were.

It scares me, this detachment. It isn’t just you; I feel like I’m not really a part of this world. It’s as if there’s a blurry filter between me and everything else. Work feels like a daze; being at home feels like a dream. I can’t really keep track of time anymore—not just the minutes and hours, but days and weeks. Is it really Autumn? Has it been two weeks, or three?

Sometimes into this misty unreality drift thoughts—big, scary, existential thoughts. Or lack of existential, I suppose. Terrible thoughts that would make me weep if I could actually feel them. I thought that being an Atheist protected me from losing faith, but I was wrong about that.

Until lately, I’ve believed so completely in that Other-Place. I believe(d?) wholeheartedly in reincarnation. In the fact that there was some reason for everything. Not necessarily some Divine plan, some hand of a god steering us; my beliefs have been more along the lines that we each come into this world with a to-do list, and that we all agree to work together during our time here. The closest thing I can compare it to is the movie Defending Your Life—only less judicial and more cooperative. And I’ve believed that the spirits of our loved ones watch over us.

Nearly everyone in our family believes these things to some extent. Your daddy told his parents that he’d chosen them to be his mother and father when he was little. When I was about the same age, I identified a picture of my grandfather—who had died while my mother was carrying me, and whom I’d never seen a picture of previously—as the man who came to play with me when I was alone. I’ve been able to feel the presence of spirits around me my entire life.

Until now.

I don’t know what I believe now. We talk about how you died because all your work on this earth was done. We talk about what you taught us—the perspective your life inside me gave us; the way you forged, strengthened and tightened the bonds between people. Your daddy and I are closer than I think we’d ever have been without you. Our circle of family and friends has grown stronger and closer. Our patience has grown, as has our gratitude—we strive not to take things for granted anymore, to be truly grateful for everything we have.

And I believe all that still. I can see and touch that. There are letters, phone calls, hugs, conversations. Things I can quantify.

But I feel like I’m just paying lip service to my belief in anything that isn’t easily quantifiable. The worth of my life. That you exist (or even existed) beyond the imperfect body I made for you. Sometimes I can’t even believe you existed that much—often the dreamy detachment makes me feel like I was never pregnant. That this is all an elaborate game of pretend. Not just you, either; I feel like your daddy and I aren’t really married, that we’re just pretending somehow. That I’m going by this new name that I don’t really deserve. And the things I do to honor you—wearing the necklace, holding your blankets—all feels so empty that I feel ridiculous and absurd.

And the future—the future is so misty and dreamy that I actually can’t picture much of any of it. Anything more than a week or so away is unfathomable. The only thing I can picture at all is occasional flashes of having another baby—and that makes me feel vague stabs of guilt.

Yet I think of you almost constantly, and miss you so often. I don’t even know how that can be, when I feel like you aren’t-and-never-were. I miss you but I can’t cry; I think of you but I can’t accept that you were, that you are. I write to you but I feel like it’s just whistling in the dark.

I almost miss the anguish. At least that was real.

This doesn’t feel at all like depression, either. Depression feels like my heart being replaced by a floppy ragdoll. It’s a fine distinction to draw—when I’ve been depressed, I’ve felt like there’s no point to anything because there’s so much sadness. Now I feel like there’s no point to anything because nothing fucking exists.

The strangest thing, to me, is that I still have a full emotional palette. Happiness, joy, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger—it’s all there. Most of the time I feel normal—“fine” even—but like I’m not quite awake. Or that I’m awake for the first time and realizing that nothing is real to begin with.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Two Months

Two months ago today you died. Two months ago tomorrow you were born. These are facts I can never quite reconcile.

All day long there's been a thrumming undercurrent. Two months. Two months. Its been so little time, but it feels like a hundred years ago. It feels like you never were. It feels like you still are. I feel outside myself.

I almost never admit how hard every minute is. Even to myself. I'm often tired, and life itself almost takes more effort than I'm able to put out. But I keep doing it. The house doesn't get too disasterous. I show up clean and bright and smiling every day at work. I laugh at movies with your daddy. I look fine on the surface. Underneath it there's darkness and strain and I can't quite reach it--nor can I quite ignore it.

Two months. How can it have been so very recently that I held you? How can you have been gone this long?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Music for the Journey

I've rediscovered one of my favorite composers today: Erik Satie. His stuff feels like the musical expression of how I feel about Isaac. I'm linking videos here (I picked ones specifically for their imagery).

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hiding from my muse

I want to write about your birth, but that also means writing about your death. I haven’t been able to talk about those last precious moments with you. Only to your daddy and your grandmas. And even then, only a little, always with careful euphemism. I’ve sat down here just so I can write about that day, and I find I’m surfing to other websites, looking out the window, suddenly becoming absorbed in what’s on TV...anything but just write. Why would I want to write about this when I so obviously don’t?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


Going to work is harder with you gone. For so many reasons. Surprisingly, dealing with customers doesn't make it worse--even when I have to explain what happened. That's healing in it's way; not talking about you is harder.

Its the little things I miss. Not just your movements inside me, not just having a reason to sing under my breath when I'm working. Sometimes it feels like there's no light at the end of the tunnel. I don't hate my job, but I was ready to take a nice long break while I got to know you. Now there will be at least ten months--probably more--before that kind of break is coming again. And you won't come with it.

Things just seem pointless some days. My life's work--smiling sweetly and serving coffee. My life has meaning, but my job doesn't. And without you, I question even that much.

I try to just get through it. It's not so bad, my job. My life. But it's so much emptier now. I ache inside and out. I miss you so much.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


We're starting to plan a little memorial for you. Nothing big like at the wedding. Just a few people--maybe just us. Don't know yet. We want to take your ashes to the beach. They look like beach sand. Your daddy wants to set off fireworks. They're special.

This fourth of july, just a week or so away from losing you, we set off fireworks in the driveway. The first loud one made you jump, and then you wouldn't stop! You kicked along with all the bangs, and wiggled and squirmed when the bright flashes came. You felt happy inside me, the way you bounced around. When your daddy took too long before setting off another one, you started kicking like you were fussing for more! I told you not to encourage your father, and he came over and put his hands on you and said "this one's for you, kid." We laughed felt like you were laughing with us. You liked the bright flashing ones best. It was probably the very best day of our whole life with you. We all played together. And that night your daddy petted my belly and talked to you. Kissed you goodnight.

When we talk about it now, his face lights up. When he describes it, he's animated and happy. In that moment I get to see him completely involved in being a daddy. That is priceless to me.

I'm so glad we had that wonderful, fun night. I'm glad that your little life was full of happiness and love.

Friday, August 28, 2009


We called you Kicker before you had a name. Its funny, because we had a girl's name picked out before we tried to make you. But not a name for a boy. Your daddy was named after his father and grandfather, so I had thought a son would be another Edward. But your daddy did not want you to be "the fourth." Your daddy has never gone by his "real" name in his life--he's always been Chip. Like your uncle, who is also a "third." But that's another story, I suppose. He wanted you to have your own name. And how we debated it! I wanted a classic name, but he wanted something unusual. We looked at baby-name websites, played alphabet games (Alex? Brandon? Charles?) but we couldn't agree.

The funniest thing was, at first, we both thought you would be a girl, so choosing a boy's name seemed kind of irrelevant. We debated all the way through the 19 weeks, when we went for the ultrasound to find out if it mattered.

The technician wasn't sure. She said she thought you were a boy, but that we "shouldn't paint the nursery yet." The doctor was a bit more certain, but wouldn't commit. And I remember that I felt disappointed; I'd never actually even imagined having a son. I wasn't thrilled at first. But it didn't take more than a couple of days before I came around. I realized how many truly wonderful men you would be raised around. I started thinking how wonderfully, perfectly a little boy would fit into our life. The biggest moment was when your daddy's mother and I went though baby pictures of him. You already looked like him on the ultrasound, and when I finally saw pictures of what he looked like as a baby, I could see you. I could see you as clearly as if you'd already been born. And I fell wholeheartedly, completely, irrevocably in love with you. My son, the boy I never realized I wanted, the son I suddenly couldn't imagine living without.

A few days later, your daddy suggested the name Cedar. We tried that out a bit and rather liked it, but it still didn't quite fit. Then one day, out of the blue, I said "What about Isaac?" It had been one of your daddy's first suggestions, but I'd rejected it at the time. And your father, contrary soul that he is, said he wasn't sure. But within an hour we had settled on Isaac Cedar as your name, and from that moment on, I never thought of you as anything else. But we agreed that we'd still call you Kicker until we knew for sure.

It wasn't until after you were gone I found out that Isaac means "laughter." Maybe that's why it was so well suited to you. Daddy and I laugh most of the time. Even in the darkest hours, we laughed at times. The doctors, the nurses, the counsellors--all of them remarked on how much we all laughed. It was so obviously your name!

But Kicker fit for a while too. My, but how you could kick! I think of it sometimes and laugh (sometimes it makes me cry). You kicked and squirmed so much, and all the while you were doing it with one little leg. When I held you, I couldn't help noticing how muscular that leg was--how perfectly shaped, how well developed. You would kick so hard it would make me gasp. Once, I started to stand up from a chair, and you kicked so hard it felt like you were going to fall right out through my belly!

I felt you move early, too. May 22, only 15 weeks. I was already pretty sure I was feeling something at 13 and a half weeks; a deep, tingling feeling, like my uterus was falling asleep. But I thought that couldn't be it, since supposedly you don't feel things that early in a first pregnancy. On May 22 I went for a massage, and while I was lying relaxed on the table, I felt you roll over pretty clearly.

After that first kick, you never stopped. Within days I could feel you regularly. On June 6 you were kicking hard enough that your daddy could feel you too. And on July 2 I looked at my belly and saw the bulge of your little foot pushing out. So active so early--did you know you wouldn't be staying? You made your presence known so quickly. Even the very first symptom of your existence was only a week after we made you. And you were instantly the center of our lives.

You still are.

I want to remember everything, every moment of your visit. It terrifies me that someday those precious weeks will fade; that things will blur together. I kept a little diary of your life--one of those "pregnancy organizers," which I've barely been able to look at until now. Today I'm able to page through it. Someday I'll read every word again. Someday I'll pull out the ultrasound pictures and put things in the empty scrapbook that's waiting for your life to spread out in it. Someday. But not today. Today remembering is enough.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Still Without Words

I haven't been able to write. I can't find words these last few days. I wanted to post happy memories of my pregnancy, inspired to do so by a post on a support board. I still want to write about your birth. I want to write so much but none of the words will come. No words today, no tears either; even going to my Make-Me-Cry playlist hasn't eased this. I hurt, but mostly I just feel tired and anxious.

I miss you so much. Sometimes I'm so shocked that you're never coming back, that I'm never going to hold you again. Other times it seems like you were never here at all. I miss your little kicks. I miss wishing I could have a drink or a cigarette. I miss fretting because you were having a quiet day. I miss how your daddy would sleep with his hand curled around the roundness that was you. I miss how you'd kick him in the back while I was trying to sleep. I even miss being so achingly tired at work that I thought I'd never survive the shift--it's easier to be there now, but so much lonelier.

Your daddy and I are already talking about "trying again." But sometimes I feel like that's disloyal to you. Especially on those days when I feel like you never really were here. Those are bad days. I'm afraid you'll think we didn't really love you; that you weren't the epicenter of our universe. That you didn't matter. That you don't matter. Because you do. Oh, you do--there isn't a moment I'm not thinking of you and missing you. You are and always will be my son, my first child. My beloved.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I got a letter today. A bland, unemotional letter from the hospital, that blandly, unemotionally told me that your ashes are ready to be picked up. I didn't see it coming; somebody told me that I'd get a phone call when I could bring you home. I made up a story about how it would be; it would probably come while I was at work and that would suck and would I need to go home etc. etc. etc. I never expected some cold printout.

I expected a bill. I opened it up and the words hit me with such force that I fell to the floor and sobbed. I can't remember the last time pain took the legs out from under me. The bruises on my knees are still fresh. I lay there on the floor and just wailed.

The strange thing is, I somehow knew it was happening this week. In the past few days I've had all sorts of intrusive, tormented thoughts about where your tiny body was. Stranger than that is that your daddy has been having the same thoughts all week. Somehow we knew.

I'm relieved and I'm sadder than ever. I'm glad you're coming home, that where you are is no longer a mystery. But now there's nothing but ashes, with a finality I did and didn't expect.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Hard Day

Today is hard. It isn't any special day. I don't know why. I'm so angry, and so sad, and so very lonely.

I never had something so bad happen that couldn't be fixed. It isn't like I lived some charmed, pain-free life. Far from it. Lots of terrible, painful things have happened in my life. I've mourned, I've grieved, I've cried, I've learned...but all of it was something I could "get better" from. But you being gone--it's un-fixable.

Sometimes its like I'm pregnant with your memory--I can no more put you down and walk away from you than when you were safe inside me. I can't feel your kicks in my belly anymore; now you kick in my heart. You're here but you're gone and you're never coming back.

I'm trying to clean the bedroom today--I need to put away the maternity clothes, but I can't bring myself to. The sight of them brings pain, but the thought of folding them up and putting them away doesn't feel right either. I hate almost all my clothes--I don't really fit in anything. I've gained more weight in my pain than when I was carrying you. I'm eating like a defiant child, not really caring what goes into my body. If I'm not nourishing you it's like I can't see a reason to nourish me. Don't have much more appetite than when you were here, but sometimes I find myself eating to fill the void. I feel ugly and fat in everything--and in mortal terror that someone will think I'm still pregnant.

I can't seem to move in any direction right now. I feel guilty for sitting in my pain, listening to music that makes me cry, brings the dull gnawing ache to a clarity, in hopes that this too shall pass. But sometimes I feel guilty when I'm not sad; I question my own happiness when it comes, doubt my own peace when I find it.

I am more aware of magic because of you. A bird landing in a tree, a deer seen unexpected in someone's yard, rainbows, snow in the springtime, beautiful clouds; when you were still here, I saw them and thought they were miracles just like you. Now that you're gone, you're in every beautiful thing I see. Often it's a comfort, but there are moments that I cry that you'll never see them. Never point out something mundane with your child's wonder, never squeal with joy at the sight of a soap bubble, never chase a butterfly. The list of things you won't do aches.

And I'm so angry. I want you back. I want the innocent faith that nothing truly bad could happen to us. I don't want to be grateful sometimes. I want to scream, to yell and swear. Why couldn't we be normal? Why did there have to be some genetic specter lying in wait? Why does it still have to be there, threatening any siblings you might someday have? Why does something so normal as having a baby have to rest on the edge of a coin toss?

Sometimes I feel like there's some greater plan at work.

Sometimes I want to kick the shit out of whoever planned it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bride To Be

I can't quite process that the wedding is on Saturday (and everything needs to be done and ready by friday). Finding joy in being a bride to be is a challenge when I'm no longer a mother to be as well. Stranger in a strange land. Wound up talking to some woman in the wedding aisle at Michael's. She was shopping for last minute wedding things too. I managed not to blurt out anything about the baby to anyone today (though when I ran into a coworker he had heard and offered sympathies, which was sweet but I still wound up feeling like there's no where I can escape the pain).

I'm hoping I can put down the pain again and just celebrate this marriage. It doesn't mean any less to me because Isaac is gone; in fact, it means all the more. We've drawn so tightly together to survive this that we're all the stronger for it. But still...buying a "slimming" body shaper, when i thought this week i'd be buying something to enhance the belly...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Make It Go Away

I had to make myself cry. The numbness was so complete, so aching that I had to do something to bring that pain forward. I listened to one of the songs I've been trying to avoid and cried so hard I was almost afraid neighbors, strangers walking down the street would hear. It hurt, oh god it hurt, but it hurt with a kind of purity I needed. I needed the tears, needed the choking sobs, needed the near-screaming. It's the same almost-scream in my heart most of the time, sometimes receding to a dull ache, sometimes even almost silent.
But always there. Always.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

In The Night

I can't sleep tonight. I've been lying in bed for two hours, staring at the television but not actually watching it, listening to your father sleeping peacefully beside me. My loneliness is the only thing awake aside from me. Took a sleeping pill a minute ago, and I'm hoping that might help.

Now that I'm home again the pain is back; the visit to the hotel was like a step out of time. An eye in this hurricane of agony I've been living in. Now I'm home--there's a pile of dishes that I'll need to wash tomorrow, and a to-do list that will need attention. The mundanity of life, back at home; your Daddy going back to work in the morning. The emptiness in my heart was waiting too.

I felt like you were so close when we were at the beach; almost like you were inside me again. In my heart and my soul, but not in my belly anymore. Coming home used to feel so good--curling here in my little safe nest on the couch. I used to balance this computer against the roundness that was you, feeling your little kicks as I typed.

My body has almost healed, but not my heart. Not my soul. The moments just stretch on, a lifetime ahead of me without you. I could, I have cried an ocean of tears, but it doesn't release the pain.


It isn't always bad. There are times, like now, where I feel like my soul is at peace. Today I have felt more peaceful, more...content than I have been since I held you. Its the first day I've felt like I could actually live the rest of my life. I miss you still, but I know you're in a happy place. I can feel you near me. Moments like these are when I think you'd want me to live and be happy. You wouldn't want me in agony all the time. Today has been an almost happy day. We took our first little trip since you were born. We went to the hotel where you were conceived. Only happy things have happened to us here; our first New Year's Eve, not long after we fell in love was in this very room. And we're only a wall away from the very place you came into our life. Your daddy and I loved each other so much we had to make you just to hold some of it. We love each other very much, your daddy and I. We talked about you a lot today, but for the first time neither of us cried. We talked about how much we love you, and how hard it was to let you go--but also how glad we are that you can be somewhere that you can be happy and whole.

It feels strange to feel happy so soon. There have been many moments where I felt okay, or at peace. How can I still miss you so much, still feel that hole in my heart, and feel anything but the pain? At moments the pain threatens--especially when it whispers that I shouldn't ever feel happy again. But for this little step out of time, in this place full of love and happy memories, all I can really think of is the joy you brought into my life during that precious time you were here. And the lessons you've already taught us, the gratitude I feel.

How can I feel blessed when I've lost so much?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Mirror

I keep finding myself standing in front of the mirror--in front of anything that holds a reflection--staring into my own eyes, trying to find myself again. I don't know who I am now; I'm a mother but there's no baby. I'm still a little bit pregnant, but there's no baby. I'm still alive, but there's no baby. I can't process it. I can't make it make sense. When you came into my life you started making me into someone else. Now that you're gone, I can't be who I was, and I don't want to be who I am. I don't want to be a grieving mother. I don't want to be this new person with sad eyes, the breasts full of milk that won't nourish you, the empty arms clutching the blanket that still holds the faintest echo of how you smelled, the deflated belly. I don't want this in-between body; I don't want this in-between life. I just want my son.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Beginning

I worked on Monday. The 13th, the first day of my life, the last day of my life. I was at work well before dawn, singing softly to you while I set up the pastry case, swaying and feeling you kick your good mornings. I was so excited. I already knew you were a boy--I was already calling you Isaac. Somehow the moment we chose your name--the moment you somehow told us your name--I knew you were my son. I could no longer imagine some vague girl-child. You were a boy and you were mine. All that waited was for the ultrasound to show it.

Finally it was time. Your father was waiting for me at the doctor's office. We were so excited we could hardly sit still. Last time, a month ago, you didn't let us see. We saw your perfect little face and one of your little feet kicking, but you had your legs crossed and wouldn't move to accommodate us. They told us your little arms were folded under you. I though it was so sweet, because your daddy sleeps like that sometimes--his arms folded tight, one leg bent at the knee. Even that last ultrsound, I could see how much you looked like him. Every night you kicked enthusiastically at the same time he would start pacing and fidgeting. I could picture you so clearly, all rough and tumble, learning to climb with him, playing in the yard with him. All boy. Both of you.

The first thing she did was look, and there you were. All boy, no doubt about that. We both almost cheered. I remember I said hello to you, and used your name with confidence for the first time. And there was that perfect kicking foot. You were trying to suck on your tiny toes. And she started to look for your other foot, your tiny hands. For our peace of mind, since my father and half brother had birth defects. Just count your wee toes and fingers, just to be sure.

We had always been told that there was no reason to fear that you could have the same thing your grandfather had, your uncle had. That I had ten fingers and ten toes, and so couldn't pass it on. "If she had it, she'd HAVE it" they told my mother when I was born. "If you had it, you'd SHOW it" they told me years ago, when I went for genetic counseling. I didn't bother when I got pregnant with you. There wasn't any real reason to--and later, Kathryn, our new genetic counselor, told us that even she would have placed the odds very low. We couldn't have known.

It was moments after our joy at seeing you, healthy and male, that the world started to end. We both noticed almost immediately that you hadn't moved from the last ultrasound. How could that be, when you never stopped moving? I could feel your flutters nearly every moment. How could you still be cradled in that same spot? The technician stopped talking as she scanned around, pushing the sensor so hard against my belly that I felt the bruises forming. We told her not to spare us, to tell us what she was seeing--to tell us if she saw what we saw. Your little arm waved, but there was nothing past the elbow. Nothing...

The silence in that room was like an entity. I held your father's hand, and held my breath. I could feel him squeezing me back. He knew something was very wrong too. Finally, she spoke--told us that she wanted us to go across the street to the hospital, where they had better equipment. She thought your other arm was folded under you, but she could see both your legs and they were fine. She thought.

We held each other tight while we waited for my doctor to come talk about what she thought the ultrasound meant. We were both hopeful. So you only had one arm. You could live a normal life with one arm. We reassured each other that it didn't matter. We wouldn't treat you differently; we wouldn't spoil and indulge you. We'd make sure you had the best of everything.

Her eyes were sad and sympathetic, but she didn't dance around the words. She saw the same thing on both your arms--there were bones missing in your forearms. You had no hands at all. She got us an appointment across the street for two hours later. We walked out of that office still determined, still hoping. We had two cars. I called your grandmother as I drove home, and then tears came. But my mother was just as strong, just as determined. We all agreed, you could still have a good life, and almost normal life. We could still make this work.

I don't remember much of those two hours at home. Your father paced and smoked. We both cried a little, but we were numb. Numb and determined. I remember googling things like prosthesis, upper-limb defects. I was trying to build some kind of system. We didn't cry much. We tried to be resolute. You were our beloved son. We would find a way to give you a good life.

We took one car to the specialist. I don't remember the drive. I remember holding your father's hand as he drove--looking at his hands, touching his fingers. I've always loved his hands--so masculine and strong, but so tender and gentle when he touched me. I wouldn't let myself feel the agony that you didn't have them. Deep inside myself I could hear myself screaming. But I wouldn't let it surface. I kept saying useless things about how you could still be okay; we could make this work. Your father kept saying the same things, patting my leg and sticking out that stubborn chin I hoped you'd inherit.

I remember walking into the unfamiliar office. I took the packet of paperwork and went to sit down. Somebody's toddler--sturdy and healthy and perfect, healthy chubby legs sticking out of little camouflage shorts, blonde hair in a toddler mohawk. He ran up to us grinning and giggling, and stuck his hands up in the air, his fingers all splayed out. Tears came to my eyes and for a moment, I couldn't hold back the screaming mother inside me. I wanted to scream, to fall on the floor, to rail against fate. I forced it back, but when I looked in your daddy's eyes, I saw the same screaming agony. I made myself sit down and do the paperwork.

They called us back almost immediately, and got us settled in the room. Of course, I had to go to the bathroom--so then we had to wait for them to come back to us. I lay on the table, tears sliding out of my eyes, sometimes a sob escaped. Your father held my hand tight, stroked my hair. He kept telling me it would be okay, but the pain in his eyes was raw.

The technician came in again. We told her to tell us everything she saw, no matter how bad. We told her to please, just keep talking. The sensor hurt instantly, pushing against my freshly bruised belly. She kept apologizing for hurting me, even as I told her it didn't matter. Nothing mattered but you.

She confirmed that your arms were missing, but we weren't surprised this time. We knew. But then she started looking for all the bones in your legs. They weren't there either. One leg was perfect, hip to toe, everything where it should be. But your other leg--the leg you kept bent. Bones were missing there, too. And that other wee foot--it wasn't shaped right. She scanned and prodded and looked and talked--but I don't remember what she said. Her voice was gentle and hopeful, but her eyes had that same sad look. Your father and I just looked at each other. All that we could see in each other was the pain.

The doctor came in, his eyes just as sad. Tears in his eyes--I remember that. He sat down and talked to us in his gentle voice. He explained the extent of what he saw, gently touching my arms as he explained what bones you didn't have, touching my leg where your bones were missing. He explained how your arms, the little partial forearms you had, would never extend; you wouldn't have any ability to move them; would never even use the crook of your tiny elbows to compensate for not having your hands.

At some point he asked us if we wanted to consider termination, and gently explained that because you were almost 24 weeks old, we had to decide what we were going to do within a day or two. He said many other things--he talked about if we kept you, how you'd need to go to the Shriner's hospital within a week of your birth. He talked about some of the surgeries you'd have to have--I remember him saying that your first surgery would be when you were a month old. I remembered my first memory of my half brother--he was about six months old, and had casts on both his tiny legs, hip to toe. He was screaming in pain.

In my heart I knew then that I couldn't make you go through that. I couldn't force you to live a life with only one functional limb. I couldn't make you go through months and years of surgery, only to maybe, maybe someday pull yourself around on specially designed crutches. You'd suffer so much agony, so much physical pain, so much emotional pain. You'd never run, never climb, never hold hands with some pretty girl. You wouldn't be able to cradle your own child someday.

On the drive home your father and I talked about it, and he knew too. We loved you too much to force that life on you. We loved you too much to let you hurt like that. We knew what the choice was before we got home.

That night is a blur of pain. I cried until I couldn't see anymore; until my eyelids were raw and red. Our mothers--your grandmothers--both came to us and cried too. But I don't remember much other than the pain. We knew you'd be leaving us--and in only a few days. I could still feel you kicking.

Aching to Write

There aren't any words. Where would I even start? I feel so empty without my son inside me. I miss feeling his kicks. He was so active all the time, and now there's nothing. I hurt to hold him, but my arms are empty. All that's left are pictures and memories and tears. I want my life back--but the life I want back stopped existing the moment we found out he wasn't staying. I feel like the world itself stopped existing--but I look out the window and the sun is still shining. I turn on the television and see life going on. It is maddening and it is comforting. People walk by our house and smile and wave, and I smile and wave back. But I want to scream at them that our son is gone. I want to talk to people but I don't want to say any of the words it would take. Who am I now, if I'm not a glowing mother to be? What is my life for, if I'm not living for him?