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.