Friday, April 28, 2006

Farewell, My Friends.

Frankly, what I am about to say horrifies me. So, thanks for reading, good to have known you.

When I watch a Birth Story reality show on TV I always hope the baby will die.

There. I've said it.

Then, in the grocery store - We all say that, when we look at pregnant people, the pain that we feel is pain for our loss and has nothing to do with the baby. We don't want their baby to die, we just are sad that our baby did.

Sometimes, not always, I do hope for that baby to die.

I am going to make a half-assed attempt at defending myself:

  1. When I am watching TV, I don't really relate to the people there. They are sweet, with lovely little lives, and POP! they have a new baby. It is a false environment that does not lead me to empathize with them in any way.
  2. If we are talking Celebrity Baby, then I think of what it would do for families of stillborn babies if we had a Brooke Shields. Someone who carried their baby to term, had a perfect pregnancy and perfect care, and still had the baby die. Someone who the media would listen to and who would become active in educating the public about stillbirth. (though I would never want Tom Cruise or B.Spears as a stillbirth spokesperson...)
  3. I am jealous.
  4. I want people to know what I am dealing with every day, and the only way for them to truly know is to live it.
  5. If more people had babies die, then maybe it wouldn't be such a scary thing for me to talk about my dead baby.
  6. I don't know why I feel this emotion, I just feel it.

I am sorry that I am such a small person. What kind of horrible human being hopes for another human being to die? And I guess that when I dig underneath all of the jealousy and pain, and think about what it would really be like for the person I am envious of to lose their baby, I probably might not really mean it.

Not much else to say here. I hope I grow out of this smallness as my life goes along. Don't know if I will. This is the ugly, ugly, side of my grief. Which is why this blog is annonymous. So I can say the ugly things without personal retaliation and looks of incredulity and horror.

So, thanks for reading. Nice to know off you go and find someone without such a small little soul.

How far is Heaven?

Note: I just noticed that I spelled Santa Claus wrong. Ha ha (in Nelson's voice).

Los Lonely Boys were on the radio this morning, so those lyrics are bouncing around in my head. Which brings me round to my stance on Heaven...

One of the "comforting" things that we all get all the time is this "your baby is in Heaven" and "now you have an Angel watching over you." I am not going to address the absurdity of those comments - you all get that. The prevalence of such comments, however, did force me to deal with the whole concept of Heaven in those worst days immediately following the death of our son.

I am an adult. I don't believe in Santa Clause or the Easter Bunny anymore. So the concept of a Heaven as some sort of Garden of Eden in the clouds just doesn't connect with me. I have also struggled with the idea, since I choose to believe that something of a person is infinite, of how those people who have gone before me would exist and how I would "see them in Heaven" (as so often promised by well meaning souls). Every time someone would give me that piece of helpful commentary, my mind would go into a tailspin. How old would he be? What will he look like? Are we people at all when we die? Does our spirit convert to some sort of energy form that interacts with other energy forms? What's the deal with eternity? Do we move on to another plane of existence?

The whole thing, for me, is like the tailspin that happens in my brain when I ask myself the question "how big is the universe?" If there is no end to the universe, then how do you define the boundaries of the universe? Is there more than one universe? Warning, warning, system overload, abort, ABORT!!!

So I don't really think about Heaven anymore. The tailspin of thought is unpleasant, so I just figure I will know what I need to know, when I need to know it.

Of course, the world sometimes circumvents the best-laid-plans. Like, the other evening, when an old Standard of the American songbook came on the radio, and this image of me dancing, with a person I knew to be my son, popped into my head. He was a young man, in his early 20s, wearing a nice suit, and I put my head on his shoulder. I wasn't sleeping, I was washing my face to get ready for bed. But the image was as vivid as any dream I have ever had. Is that Heaven? Will I, some day after I die, and if I have achieved the entrance requirements, dance with my son? Will I change his diaper, or kiss his boo-boo all better, or see him married, or meet my grandchildren? Is that how the universe works? Is it like The Five People You Meet in Heaven? Didn't I promise myself I wouldn't ask these questions anymore?

sigh...But in a good way. I think I will just take that image, and turn it over and around in my mind and in my heart, and cherish it the way I cherish the real memories that I have of my son. Even though it wasn't real, I will regard it as if it were. I guess that is all we can do when we don't have the real memories. Accept the dream memories as a nice little kiss from beyond, as a trinket to pull out of the back of your heart when you need to connect with your baby.

I mentioned that I had a run-in with a middle manager, who asked me "how's the family - you had a little one, right?" , and who should have known better. I guess that just reminded me that, since it was important enough for him to remember that I was pregnant, and not important enough for him to remember that our baby died, that the human mind remembers things in a weird way. Seriously, how can you not remember something like that? And how did he miss the 2 weeks of BabyLoss awareness activities that I did at my work in October? Retirement dulls the senses, I guess.

However, I was proud of myself for not trying to make him feel better about asking. Firstly, he should have known. Secondly, it should not be my responsiblity to deal with his faux-pas of asking in the first place. And I didn't feel it necessary to explain or anything. I just changed the subject and walked away. I was annoyed by his idiocy, but pleased with my reaction. I didn't let it hurt me.

I have been contemplating writing some songs with some of my loss issues at their core. However, I cannot stand the trite poetry that is written regarding this subject. Give me Shakespeare or Wordsworth or even Sarah McLachlan or Steven Page. Though the sentiment is sweet, in the songs that have been written, it is too gooey for me. I want real, but not ugly. I want contemplative or angry, not sappy and sad. Something with substance.

So I guess that leaves it to me to either write some decent music and lyrics all on my own (daunting, very very daunting), or search for some decent poetry that I could set to music (only slightly less daunting). Maybe this isn't a project for me, but it feels like it should be. So I intend to follow my gut.

Please, if you have something that isn't all rhyming, gushy, gooey, sappy, blech, Please either email it to me or post a comment.

Sample of what I like:

They are not gone from us. O no! they are
The inmost essence of each thing that is
Perfect for us, they flame in every star;
The trees are emerald from us, they do not roam
The flaw and turmoil of the lower deep,
But now have made the whole wide world their home,
And in its loveliness themselves they steep.

They fail not ever, theirs is the diurn
Splendor of sunny hill and forest grave;
In every rainbow's glittering drop they burn;
They dazzle in the massed clouds' architrave;
They chant on every wind, and they return
In the long roll of any deep blue wave.
- Robert Nichols

And also, this one:
I did not die young
I lived my span of life,
Within your body
And within your love.

There are many
Who have lived long lives
And have not been loved as me.

If you would honor me
Then speak my name
And number me among your family.

If you would honor me,
Then strive to live in love
For in that love, I live.

Never ever doubt
That we will meet again.

Until that happy day,
I will grow with God
And wait for you.
- Christy Kenneally

Neither one seems particularly musical, but I may pursue the idea more before I exhaust them as possibilities.

So there is your homework.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


How many times will B.Spears and K.Fed. procreate before I see two pink lines?

Note: Apparently #2 has been confirmed. Just to clarify. Noting that she most definately IS trying to live up to her trailer-trash roots.

Now play nice and take a guess...How many times? Will it be two? will it be three? where she stops, nobody knows!

Mini Hiatus

I have eight million thoughts bouncing around in my head these days...however, I have managed to injure my right hand. So, this post is composed (with an annoyingly huge number of errors) by way of full-fingered-left-hand and one-fingered-right-hand typing.

So, I guess I must wait to dump those thoughts here, maybe a day or two.

'til then, a preview of upcoming thoughts:

  • the retired middle manager who sent a sympathy card (and I think came to the funeral) who asked "how's the family? you have a little one now, don't you?"
  • what is Heaven? and my fantasies therein
  • where did all the good poetry go?

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Summer in April

Today we had a beautiful summer day. It isn't summer. I appreciate the one day fast-forward. I spent the day in my garden and helping with a home improvement project my husband had undertaken. Tomorrow will be cold again.

We won our first eBay auction. 40 ovulation predictor strips and 10 pregnancy test strips are on their way to us. For $28 Canadian. Why did I resist online purchase for so long? I will be testing like a crazed chemist in a couple of weeks. At least the OPK strips always do something (unlike pregnancy tests).

In a fit of despair, I spent some time with my son's clothes this morning. They are so small. I felt compelled to undo all the snaps and buttons and zippers. And run my hands over and through them. Where his body could have been. I hugged them and held them to my face. I wish we would have dressed him in his clothes in those hours after his birth.

Instead, they wait. Folded in a drawer. Hand-me-downs for a sibling who doesn't exist from a brother who never wore them.

Today I am not happy. I love my husband and I love my cat. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Big time Friday night

Smirnoff Twisted Watermelon Vodka Mixed Drink does not have a twist off cap.

I was out and saw a group of drunken people. I supervise them at work. They told me that I am "the best". Aw, gee.

I wish that I had some reason to not drink this cooler, at home, entertained by the hockey game and Playstation.

I wish I were pregnant.



Wow, what was that? The sound of a lead balloon going over?

Check out the number of comments from my last posts. Wow. Did I ever get you going with that post! Now, don't be insulted - I am just teasing. Actually, I am laughing at myself. Didn't our parents always tell us to keep politics and religion out of polite conversation? But I am not very polite...anyway, it was my theological/philosophical stuff, not yours. I needed to sort that stuff out, did the dirty work, and now can move on (for a while) on to topics of more interest to my (imagined?) readers.

Onwards and upwards...I will be drinking alcohol this weekend. As much or as little as I want. I even managed to be patient enough that I didn't waste any pee-sticks! My rational hopes were not high for this cycle, but the irrational hopes were up for a few moments.

I still have not heard from the RE. I wonder when that letter will come. I hope that I don't get put on the non-urgent list because I am not yet 30 and have been pregnant before. I feel like this is getting ridiculous and I need to get going on the medical intervention.

You may have noticed, when I posted my chart a week ago, that I noted "eggwhite cervical fluid" on my chart for a number of days. Strictly speaking, that was a stretch (or not a stretch? ha, ha, a little fertility humour, there). I was NOT happy with the quality/quantity of cervical fluid. I would describe, but frankly I doubt you are that interested in the details of the inner workings of my reproductive organs. Suffice it to say, I am wondering if this has been the problem all along. There were a few things that were a little different this cycle that made me pay closer attention to that particular fertility sign. Which makes me feel a little wild about getting to the RE. Lets do a post-coital, do the analysis, and get on to the IUI if this is the problem. Seriously. "You must try for 365 days or you don't have a problem" - how totally absurd is that??? Gah! What an old rant this is getting to be.

Ah, well, at least I can address myself to that bottle of Merlot that has been whispering my name...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Note: I have now added the formerly missing Tolkien quote...

Currently, God and I have issues. I just don't understand so much, about so many things. And I sometimes feel like this one-sided relationship of belief is just a game wherein He knows all the rules and I don't even know if we are playing Cribbage or Chess or Hopscotch.

I was laying in bed, thinking, two nights ago, trying to determine why, exactly, I continue to believe in this God fellow. What is it that keeps that belief going in my life, despite the confusion, anger, and hurt? Why do Humans believe in higher powers of any type?

I really believe that understanding in life comes to us, sometimes in a deluge, sometimes through a laborious eternity of effort, simply by asking the right questions. On Monday night, as I tried so hard to fall asleep, I felt like the right question was coming to me.

What is the point of human existence?

Oh, yes, a small question, isn't it? Then, I think the more important question came to me: Why should there be a point? Which led to: Why do we want there to be a point?

And that, I think is the right question. What is it about we humans that hungers so mightily for a purpose in life? When we look around the animal kingdom, we see these instinctual beings, some of them very intelligent, and (near as we can tell), they do not spend lifetimes arguing about The Meaning of Life. Why do we?

Why do we, for the most part, measure life's meaning by the relationships that we surround ourselves with? I don't believe that it is some sort of evolutionary trend - why on earth would evolution lead us to monogamy as the most widely accepted approach to human coupling, when random sex with multiple partners makes for a better gene pool? Well, I just don't know enough about social structures in the world, or animal couple-bonds, or biology, or evolution to really have much of an answer to that, but it made me think:

Why does so much of our human nature revolve around emotions that seem to have very little to do with evolution and survival?

Which brought me to this:

I believe in God because I yearn for something greater than this world. I long for my life and the lives of those I love to have a purpose, an eternal presence. I feel as though I long for something more because there is Something to long for. And, as I understand myself and my world, that Something is actually a Someone.

And to somehow prove to me that this was the argument that needed to be fully digested in my brain, as I read The Narnian last night, the chapter that I started was on this very topic. And I read the arguments of great men for and against the idea of God. Frankly, I with Tolkien on this one:

The heart of man is not compound of lies,
but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,
and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,
man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.
Dis-graced he may be, yet is not dethroned,
and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,
his world-dominion by creative act.

Whence came the wish, and whence the power to dream?

- from "Mythopoeia: Philomythus to Misomythus" by J.R.R. Tolkien

Ah, that God, always insinuating control into my life in ways that I don't expect. Develop my respect for C.S. Lewis, which leads to reading his biography, that argues in favour of His existence, quoting several learned Oxford Fellows like J.R.R. Tolkien.

I get it.

So...... that, for me answers the question. I believe in God because, to the very soul of me, I believe that this life is bigger than what we see. And I believe that is because of God.

Now, it would be artistically stronger for me to have ended the post at the last paragraph, but I must point out that this is my answer for my question and I have absolutely no desire to convert anyone to my point of view. It is simply helpful for me to structure to argument so that I can understand what I mean.

Also, this question of do you believe in God and why gets me only minutely closer to where God fits in my recent life experiences. I have absolutely no sniff.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Good thing Maverick ain't my man...

...because I am losing it. And perhaps some psych-drugs are in order for me.

I hate the Celebrity Baby Buzz. Why does entertainment "news" inundate us with baby "bumps" from all directions? Why am I incapable of ignoring it (I pick scabs, too)? Have these kids already, I am sick of hearing about your pregnancies Brangelina and TomKat!!

To add fuel to my self-pitying fire of disgust, I received this lovely little email from a former college classmate today:

Sorry for the group email but I can't wait to tell as many people as I can - before my dad does! The time has finally come for us to settle down and start having a family. We are expecting our little bundle of joy to arrive some time around December 6.

We are so excited and truly blessed.

My comments? Yes, I did use my Due Date Predictor to determine that she is, you guessed it, a grand total of 6 weeks pregnant! I have always been irritated by people who announce to the world the moment the line turns pink.* I never speak to this woman, I rarely see mutual acquaintances, I wouldn't know her dad from Bono if he fell on me. I could have gone for months without having to think about yet one more person who is pregnant. In fact, I could have missed the blessed event entirely, years down the road hearing that she has 3 kids and not really caring. But no, I get this lovely personal email.

Seriously, if you want me to know that you are expecting, I have earned a little respect and empathy. My son died, and I have refrained from driving off a cliff. For that reason, if you feel it important that I know you are procreating, you can share the news with a little tact. You could call me, or send a personal email if you are too chicken to call, and say: "I feel like you are an important person in my life, and I don't want to hurt you by allowing you to hear through the grapevine...I am pregnant. I know if must be difficult for you to learn of other people's pregnancies, but I thought that the best way to handle this would be truthfully and personally. I will follow your lead in this - if you want me to keep you in the loop, I will. If you don't want that, I will respect your wishes. I don't expect you to scream with excitement; I am okay if this news causes you to shed a few tears. I won't try to console you with hollow words like 'it will be your turn soon' or 'now your little angel can guard my baby'. I have the utmost of respect for you and your experience and I will allow you to control the flow of information. And I won't abandon your friendship as my duedate approaches, in fear of your bad luck rubbing off. You are a person who has earned my respect." **

But do you want to know the real reason I am ranting like this? To try and stop the Am I? Am I not? Am I? Am I not? chorus that refuses to stop circling in my brain. I swear, here and now, that I will NOT pee on a stick until I am sure. I will NOT waste expensive medical devices by using them before they have a chance of working. I solemnly swear that I will try to pull myself together instead of sitting in my office mentally composing an announcement post, choosing names, and shopping for maternity clothes.

Every month I allow myself to hope and every month I am crushed. Why oh why do I let myself believe every month that this is the magic one??? Hell, I am not even sure that we managed to have sex on the right days this month. Gah!

Bring on the Prozac.

*though recently I have begun to exclude sufferers of multiple miscarriage from the Annoying ones. Or anyone who has suffered a loss, really. For us, we are celebrating while we have something to celebrate about. It is the Naive Ones that really annoy me.

**There, now that I wrote that letter to myself, I feel better. I will now pretend like Ms. Oblivious wrote that letter. Amazingly, I actually have one friend who has treated me with the aforementioned respect during a recent pregnancy. What a gift to have such a friend.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Easter Sunday

This year is so much easier than last. Easter Sunday was to be the date of our son's baptism last year. We didn't go to church. I have rarely missed Easter Sunday services in my life. But I certainly could not go to witness the welcoming of other perfect little babies into our congregation.

This year was better. Happier. The service took a little different direction, with the inclusion of some dramatics and extraneous singing. The hymns were, as per usual, poorly sung (that brings a certain amount of entertainment to the musical - me). There was a certain amount of humour in the general confusion surrounding communion when the Easter Congregants (where do I go) joined the Regulars (get out of my way, I know what I am doing).

We are not spending time with our family today. I am not really sad about that. Certain siblings have been less than supportive in the last 6 months - basically, if we want to have anything to do with them, we have to call them, we have to drive 2 hours to visit them, we have to bend our lives to suit theirs. So, no bending today. That is a sad reality, but how can we keep chasing after them? I feel like the younger sibling sent out to play with the older - the older really doesn't want younger around, so spends the time between school and dinner trying to shake Little Sibling. Then when Younger complains to mom or dad, Older claims that it isn't true. Normal between a 7 and 12 year old. A sad relationship, when it is between 30 year olds.

We spent some time with other family members on Good Friday. In so many ways, we are just completely out of synch with family members. Parents that still treat you as if you are a child, siblings that have no clue that there are certain comments we don't want to hear. Sigh. It is tiring, more than anything. I can't quite work up the energy to be sad or mad. Just tired of it.

Even our priest, who is a generally empathetic soul, has moments of pure cluelessness. Suggesting that we have time for interest in electronic gadgets due to the fact that we don't have kids (oh, yes, glad we don't have kids - then we wouldn't have time for important things like blogging and that would be horrible). Educating the public is a daunting and exhausting task. I have begun to give that up as hopeless.

After my son died, at least a dozen families shared their experience with a similar loss. Some in empathetic ways, some in horrifying ways. I was irritated with these people. Why hadn't I heard of stillbirth as a common occurrence in our society? All of these people were telling me that it was common. Why did I feel as if it had never destroyed any family but ours, that we were being singled out for this devastation?

I am starting to learn. Society doesn't want to talk about it. It doesn't change. You can't, as an individual, change social mores. People tease you about your childlessness as a matter of course, as a matter of pride. They would be insulted, and believe it rude, if I were to remind them that, in fact, I do have a child (he is just remarkably well behaved in his casket, so you hardly notice him).

If we all banded together and became activists in the way other movements have (gay pride, for example), maybe it would be as socially unacceptable to ignore our dead children as it is to refer to a person as a faggot (my stomach turns as I type that word) or use the n-word in reference to colour. Though the difference between the issues is distinct, it is the activism that inspires me. I just can't do it on my own. I cannot face a table full of laughing, joking people in the work cafeteria and stop them when a hurtful comment is made. I am not strong enough. I wish I were.

What I need is one of my friends - you people - on either shoulder, like avenging angels, with fire in your eyes, giving me the strength to leave a swath of education in my wake.

My temps are all over the place this cycle. I have had 2 days below the coverline, and I think that I am only on 6-8DPO. Implantation? Or have I miscalculated date of ovulation and should I expect my period? Or maybe this one is annovulatory? I am tired of this "trying" business. Would be nice to succeed eventually...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Feeling a little Maundy

OK, so that really doesn't make sense. According to, "maundy" means:

maundy \Maun"dy\, n. 1. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper. [Obs.]2. The ceremony of washing the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday.3. The alms distributed in connection with this ceremony or on Maundy Thursday.
Note: In England, the foot washing is obsolete, but the ``royal maundy'' is distributed annually on behalf of the sovereign. Since 1890 this distribution has been made from Westminster Abbey.

I didn't sleep well last night. I have work stuff on my mind and vibrant pregnancy memories circle when I close my eyes. And my skin feels tingly all over (what on earth is that all about???). So, in celebration of Maundy-ness, I feel Maundy. That is, tired, a little defeated, ready for a nice Easter Holiday. Not very sacrament-minded of me, is it? Doubt that was what Jesus was thinking on Maundy Thursday, "gee, feeling a little tired here in Gethsemane. I know what I need - a nice three day Passover holiday. But Passover is so last year. I think I will call it....Easter."

So, now that I have managed to insult both Jews and Christians, I will carry on with my Maundy little post.

Today I did one of those things at work where you start a project and realize that it is eight times bigger than what you can possibly manage in the time that is allotted and since now you have started there is no getting out of it. sigh. When will I grow out of that?

And speaking of work, yesterday's meeting was a success, really a culmination of months worth of work that I did. There are few times when you get your well-earned kudos, and yesterday was not about kudos. But it was the final step in a seemingly infinite process.

The CEO of our company was at the meeting. After we left and my mind had the chance to wander, I began to wonder if he remembered my name. He (his office) sent a letter of condolence when our son died. I wonder if they do that for any employee who has a family member die. Or was it because ours was "the worst loss".* Does he even know that he signed a letter of condolence that was sent to me? Did I impress him with my ability to do quality work after experiencing such a horrific event?

When I got home, I discovered that a relative's obituary had been mailed to me. This person had died several months ago, and I was under the impression that an obituary hadn't been written. I was pleasantly surprised to know that it had been written (the deceased deserved that type of public recognition). Even more importantly, to me, was that they had included my son's name in the list of people that had predeceased my relative.

I don't think that the person who wrote the obituary will ever know how much significance they have given me, my husband, and my son by including his name in that list. I don't always feel like my relations really acknowledge my son, and those 4 words in the obituary made my son's existence a part of our family history. To die, you must have lived. To be a relative worth mentioning as predeceased, you must have been a person, a person of importance. Though no one every mentions him or speaks his name, 4 words have gone a long way to create importance and significance for my son. I don't think I am doing a very good job of expressing how meaningful this is to me.

I have never in my life been so happy when reading the obituary of a dear relative. attack the mountain of paperwork on my desk that threatens to topple and end my brief existence on this earth. As Will would say:

Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more.
It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

*Rant on - yeah, I get tired of hearing from the un-bereaved parents of the world about how the death of one's child is the worst thing that could ever happen in the world. It is the worst thing that has ever happened to me. But if my husband and my son had died at the same time, that would be worse. Or if the rest of my extended family was wiped out in a plane crash, that would be worse. Things can always get worse. Why do we need to compare terrible things by using the word "worst"? Yeah, I actually do believe that it is probably way more traumatic to bury your child than to bury your parent. But both suck. So why compare? - Rant off.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Quickly, quickly

I am out of town for a meeting today, leaving in the next few minutes. Thoughts I need to dispose of before I go:
  1. Continuing yesterday's book review, I wonder what the author's experience with the subject matter is. If none, she has done excellent research. The way she describes how the mere presence of a stroller can insinuate its hurtful way into your soul is unerringly accurate. She also describes, from the main character's POV, the (sometimes) disgust with a body ravaged by carrying a baby (the soft flesh at the belly, the sagging breasts, the altered silhouette) when there is no baby to show for its efforts.
  2. My temp went to 97.7 today, for those following at home.

Cheers! (Today's post brought to you by the overuse of the parenthetical)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Book Report, Vol. II - The Final Volume

I finished reading Love and Other Impossible Pursuits last night. The final verdict? Liked it, a lot. Not loved-it-Jane-Austin-style, but really liked it. It was real and it was satisfying.

There was something, at the start of the book, that annoyed me about the main character. When all was revealed, I discovered that it was this: she needed to grow up. Which she did. I was, at moments, quite irritated with the main character's dismissive approach to everything that I have found helpful in mourning my son.* When it comes down to it, I am fairly sure all of the traits about the main character that I found irritating where actually a function of her immaturity. I actually think that it a sign of a pretty good author when she can give the characters dimension by showing their flaws, but still allowing us enough of the good stuff to still like them.

Like I said, I am not much of a literary critic. I am not very good at it.

VERDICT: I think it is a worthwhile read - do note that, if you are as susceptible to mood swings related to books/movies as I am, you should read at least the first 12 chapters in one sitting. That will get you through most of the depressing set-up and in to the flow of the story.

*aside - she is a fictional character, after all, so no use being angry at her for mocking Walk's to Remember or support groups (on and off line). And, besides, if we just admit it, don't we all think that some of the sugared up poetry at Walk's to Remember are a little saccharine? Or is that just my cynicism?

So my stupid body is still not showing any clear symptoms of actually having ovulated a few days ago. Temperature-wise, I mean. Fertility Friend is showing ovulation the day before I got the positive OPK. GAH!

And I think that my cold, which started on CD21 has messed up my temps. Also, my post-ovulatory temps are usually more like 97.7 degrees F. I have no idea how to interpret this chart. Any experienced charters care to comment? I haven't paid VIP membership, or I would ask the folks at FF...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Book Report Vol. I - Love and Other Impossible Pursuits

UPDATE: Read a few more chapters - things have improved in the story and in my mood. Cheers.

So I have read the first 6 chapters. Still entranced, but feeling pretty down. The main character has a complicated life, complicated history, and doesn't seem to be dealing very well with the death of her infant daughter (ha - as if anyone "deals well"). I refuse to review the book until I have read the whole thing, so I am reporting:

  1. I felt pretty down in the couple of hours after I put the thing down.
  2. There are certain aspects about her character that are not relate-able for me (she was the other woman, she is not in tune with or doesn't trust her husband, she has a wildly traumatic personal familial experience).
  3. Perhaps reading this on my lunch hour isn't a good idea.
  4. I like the writing style.
  5. I need to get further into the meat of the thing before I will have any sense of whether or not I like it...the author is still dealing with background at this point.

A couple of quotes that I like:

"Don't they realize that obsessive self-pity is an all-consuming activity that leaves no room for conversation" - p. 1 (for those following along at home)

"Last Wednesday I left a couple of hours early, to meet a friend who had decided that a morning of shoe shopping would bounce me out of my despondency, would turn me back into someone whose company she enjoyed." - p. 5

By the way, I never intended this space to be some sort of literary critique - but it looks as if my current coping method is to read something, decide if I agree with it or not, then plop all of those thoughts here.

And, in other news, I have absolutely no idea what the heck is going on with my body. Charting is not helping me detect ovulation --- because I have a cold!!! My temps are up, but barely, making me thing that the higher temps are more to do with something microbial than ovulation. Other signs are equally obscure, making me think "well, who cares! Every other month, I have known exactly when I ovulated and I am not pregnant yet!!" Maybe this is a better approach, anyway.

I feel that I over use the exclamation point. Do please let me know if you agree. Nothing is more irritating that excessive exclamatory punctuation !!! (<--- those are ironic, you know).

I'm grouchy.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

When the Bough Breaks

So it turns out I am actually a schizophrenic reader. I have started reading another book - When the Bough Breaks by Judith R. Bernstein, Ph.D. (the link will take you to Amazon, which has an excerpt that may interest you). It is wonderful so far (I have only read the introduction).

Premise? Bernstein is a psychologist who lost her son Steven to cancer in his 20s. When faced with the literature regarding grief, she recognized that time limits were always imposed - 6 months, or a year, or two, or three. She was several years in and still grieving. So she began a study of bereaved parents who had been grieving a child for at least 5 years to see what their experiences were as time passed. I love that she refuses the words "overcoming grief" or "recovery" - you recover from the flu, not the death of your child! So far, she has impressed me.

This is mourning, as described by mourners. This is "getting on with your life" from people who have no choice but to do so. I am excited to learn from the experience of the 50-or-so fellow bereaved parents who have contributed their stories and experiences to this book. Though she specifically chose not to look at those who experienced the death of a baby (because "neonatal death presents issues of its own"), I think there will be much to learn from this book.

She described her experience meeting with other bereaved parents as "coming home." She writes "In our workaday world no one sees the aspect of us that is bereaved parent. As time progresses, we speak less and less frequently of the children we lost; yet those children are often no further from our hearts than our surviving children. When we meet other bereaved parents, we're home - with people who know that language and who understand the subtleties foreigners can never truly know...Though we had know each other barely two hours, we knew each other better than most."

Isn't that what we are doing here?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I haven't brushed my teeth...

... and it is 6:00 p.m. I finally managed to shower at about 3:00 p.m. I am not just gross - I have a cold. My teeth feel fuzzy. I am going to have to deal with that soon.

My husband had to attend a work function last night and today. Which has left me with little to do but spew phlegm and feel sorry for myself. Despite my carrying on about books and reading, I have spent most of the last 24 hours in front of the TV. Good Lord, there is nothing on TV (which begs the question, how could I have wasted the better part of 2 days hoping for that fact to change while flicking through our 40 channels?).

To drag myself away from the TV, I came on the computer last night to read my favourite blogs. None had been updated. Rats. What to do? Well, I decided to go back to the chat room at

When my son died, I spent the first two months thinking that I was the only woman in the world that was a failure enough to have carried a baby to term only to lose him in the last moments of her pregnancy. Then, to stop the cute little updates coming in my email, I went to BabyCenter to remove my son from my profile under "children". And it automatically forwarded me to the Grief and Loss chat.

I haven't been there in months. Probably June was the last time I was there. But I think back to one year ago and what that chat room did for me. It did what precious else was able to do - it connected me with others who had lost babies and it allowed me to tell my story over and over. To claim my son as a person over and over.

It wasn't the same last night. I guess that a year of mourning changes you. I felt more like a mentor - I was asking the others questions instead of hoping someone would ask me. So I chatted a bit, then switched to the Preconception Room, where I had a very informative conversation about charting, and then turned off the computer.

I guess I just don't need that crutch anymore.

But what it did allow me to do is to reconnect to some of those feelings that I had one year ago. I think that the feeling out of those emotions is healthy for me - each time I revisit them, the emotions smooth out around the edges a little more.

I am spending more time thinking about what my son looked like, and felt, and smelled like. His hands and feet were so big for such a little boy! The perfect little curve of his ear, the peach fuzz on his cheek as I kissed it. He was so beautiful. I remember what it was like to hold him - he was just the right size for a baby. What it was like to show him off, proudly, to our family. He was so perfect.

I doubt I will ever fully reconcile to the fact that I could not protect him. He was so perfect and I was not. The decisions that I made in the last 24 hours of his life will always haunt me. The what ifs will always be there...however, the cacophony that they made in those first months has simmered to a low murmur. I will always regret that I didn't somehow know what the future would bring to miraculously be able to save him.

What I do know is true, despite my emotional need to lay blame at my door, is that we did nothing wrong. We were cautious, we followed all medical advice, and we were as well educated as any two people could be about the process of childbirth. My old arrogance is gone - that is no longer enough. If we ever have the joy of another pregnancy, caution will no longer satisfy us. We did everything right and our son still died, so I assure you, you will never meet anyone more attuned to pregnancy and the state of her unborn's existence as I will be in a future pregnancy.

I just want another chance.

Now, wasn't that a mood swing?

Friday, April 07, 2006

More Books

I love books. I love the feel of books, I love the smell of books, I love to talk about books. I love books.

This obviously explains why, instead of the typical BabyLoss Blog List of Helpful Links, which I could include along the sidebar, I have chosen to include a list of Books. I feel a little guilty about that - I have dozens of helpful web addresses bookmarked that relate to BabyLoss. But since they are probably the same ones that you have on your computer or your blog (see how I assume that any reader must be a Dead Baby Parent), I decided to go with the reading list.

To clarify, I am C.S. Lewis obsessed. That is obvious. I also read anything I can get my grubby little hands on relating to BabyLoss. I am also Jane Austin obsessed (me = Brito-phile) - I will pontificate on the glories of her writing, undoubtedly, in the future. Please try to contain your excitement.

I am NOT, however, a person who has any formal education in literary criticism or literary classics. So, the many learned members of the intelligentsia may have contrary opinions to mine. All I know is that I love books. And when I find a story that I love, I hound people until they read it.

Today's library acquisition? Love and Other Impossible Pursuits by Ayelet Waldmen. I am going to read this at the recommendation of a friend and fellow mommy-in-mourning (you know who you are). Listed in my local library under:

Married women -- Fiction.
Infants -- Death -- Fiction.
Stepfamilies -- Fiction.
Grief -- Fiction

Now who wouldn't want to read a book covering those topics?

First - Great title. Secondly - the first line of the book is: "Usually, if I duck my head and walk briskly, I can make it past the playground at West Eighty-first Street." Great first line. True first line. I daily perform the action described in the first line (though, not on West Eighty-first Street).

I really am reading all three books listed in the sidebar. This amazes me: I am a carnivorous reader. I devour books. Three on the go? Unheard of.

On top of all of this book euphoria, it is spring in my part of Canada. My garden is coming to life. The sun shines. You don't have to wear your winter parka - I have given it up for a cute little jean jacket I just bought*.

I feel a little too happy to be responsible for a BabyLoss blog. Aren't I the Carefree Kid?**

I promise. More somber grief work to come.

*aside: When you are always the bridesmaid and never the bride (read: everyone else in the world is pregnant but you), you fool yourself for a while and don't buy new clothes because "you might be pregnant". I have recently discovered the cure to that ailment: cheap, yet cute, clothes from a Big Box Store.

**I am quite convinced that this statement is grammatically incorrect, but my Devil-may-care attitude today allows me to publish poor grammar. Would someone please correct me? See what book-induced euphoria does to a girl?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Are you there, God? It's me, Margaret...

Do you remember the Judy Blume book of that title? Though I saw it hundreds of times in my local library as a child, I never managed to get it read. However, I was always entranced by the title.

For some reason, the title of that book has been reverberating in my head for some weeks. I almost titled by blog after it, but decided that I wanted to deal with more than just the issue of God in what I write.

What do I have in common with a twelve year old girl in prepubescent angst? Not much. Its the question that reverberates for me.

Are you there God?

That simple question. The explanation of who is asking. Simple. But is really is the question, isn't it? By which we, each of us, define our world view and frame all of our experience.

Are you there, God?

Since my son died, I have had to deal with that question. In the platitudes that were handed to me by well-meaning Christian friends. In my own soul, which has gone through periods of ambivalence, but never the full-blown interrogation of beliefs.

And when I speak of a crisis of faith, it is not that I cease to believe in God, but rather see the God that I thought I knew turn in to something terrible and unrecognizable. As if, when I ask, "Are you there, God" the answer in my soul is Yes, I'm here. Just not that terribly interested in your little problems, my dear.

I doubt many people have given expression to these sentiments as well as Jack Lewis (yes, I am obsessive - in my defense, he is often described as one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century). In A Grief Observed he wrote:
Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.' - taken from here
I feel that. I have lived those words, in so many moments of the last 16 months. And I feel as if I have two choices: to give over control to God, accept His will, and get on with things or give up these infantile fantasies of a greater power and get on with things. And I am not prepared to get on with things. I need to continue asking "The Question of God".

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Share and Share alike

This post brought to you by today's sponsor (yes, I tapped this into my Palm whilst waiting for an event to start, brought it home, HotSynced, cut, pasted, and posted...sometimes you just have to deal with stuff in weird places!)

I went to a recent support group meeting and had the strange experience of connecting to the people that were there. Why strange? Simply because that would never have happened a few months ago. When I first began attending this group, it was peopled almost entirely by bitter,angry, frustrated females. Yes, I have bitterness. Yes, I have anger. Yes, I have experienced frustration. But, never, through my whole grief experience, have I ever DEFINED myself as bitter, angry, and frustrated. It's certainly not that I am 'better' than these women, just living a totally different experience.

I don't have anger issues, as a rule, in my life. Guilt, yes. Anger? Not really. Which makes it quite unlikely that anger will define my grief journey.

At the most recent meeting, the Bitter Crew have basically ceased coming. Most have gone on to have subsequent pregnancies, and quit the group (something that always made me feel left behind and inadequate).

These new companions on This Road are much more kindred spirits. More plagued by hurt, guilt, and sadness. Like me. I hope to have contact with these women between group meetings. I have experienced a weird excitement whenever I knew that our group was expanding. I feel guilty for that - I really don't want more babies to die. But, it takes a minute quantity of loneliness away whenever I meet other 'real life' parents of dead babies.

I never really knew why I kept going to the group meetings when I was not relating to, or getting support from, the women there. I guess this is why I stuck it out - now there are women that I can share with and relate to.

And I saw that it was good.

The Narnian

I am making my way through The Narnian, a biographical book about C.S. (Jack) Lewis. I am really enjoying it. In so many ways, I have followed in the thoughts of Jack Lewis through this grieving thing. Of course, A Grief Observed is one of the pivotal writings on the grief experience, wherein he journals his thoughts and feelings in the immediate weeks and months following the death of his beloved wife, Joy Gresham. This should be required reading for grievers - he has a way of putting the pain, fear, anger, disenchantment, confusion, etc. in to words in a way that cuts to the heart of the thing. His autobiographical look at spirituality, Surprised by Joy, was a thrilling read (despite the multitude of little known literary references and obscure vocabulary choices - do this one with a really good dictionary in hand).

Yes, yes, the hype around the movie. I get it. I enjoyed it. I did not, however, believe that the movie quite found the charm and wit and character that was included in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.

In my regular rambling fashion, I am getting to the point. The point is this: I connect with the writings of Jack Lewis in a way that I don't connect with other writers. Perhaps it is because he was an Ulster-Protestant-Anglican, come atheist, come smells-and-bells-Anglican (most of my ancestors practiced liturgically based religions, from places in the British Isles). Perhaps it is my Brito-phile nature that draws me to the language that he uses. Maybe it has to do with my respect for his vast intelligence and experience.

Whatever it is, I really believe that Jack Lewis was one of the last great Renaissance men. And if you haven't done so yet, go and read all of the Chronicles of Narnia (start with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe - do them in the order of publication, not in Narnian chronological order), then read A Grief Observed. And if you are still really interested in his writing, and are also interested in ideas surrounding faith, God, and spirituality, check out Surprised by Joy and then the demon-satire The Screwtape Letters. If this bit of reading doesn't get you thinking about what you feel and what you believe in, I don't know what will.

In this thing, you gotta know what you believe. You have to believe something, just to get through the day.

For me? I believe in God. I believe in Jesus. What does that mean for me, my family, my son? I have no idea. This is as far as I have gotten. Be certain that I will keep you posted on my state of enlightenment.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Oh, Mr. Tyler! Going....down????

I have been having the strangest dreams. I don't really have anything to attribute these little oddities to, but here is the gist of a few of them:

A week ago, I dreamt I was high school age, with other high school age people, including even my husband, with whom I did NOT attend high school (grammar police: is that even close?). The basic problem in this dream was that every person was being overcome by demons, in Exorcist fashion, and a few of us were doing the Buffy-the-Vampire-Slayer thing. Just before I awoke, I was cloistered in a band room, with a few other people, praying the Lord's Prayer over and over. It wasn't saving the others, but it was saving us, so we just kept praying.

A few days ago - I dreamt that I was swimming naked in an underground mineral spa. There were hundreds of people, and we were all swimming in the same general direction. Then, Steven Tyler comes up to me and declares his love. There I am, nude, in all my current, post-baby glory (with the normal post-baby saggy bits), and Steven Tyler announces that my beauty (ha!) has overwhelmed him and that I must be his. What's a girl to do but accept such a proposal? Fast-forward to the next part that I remember, wherein I am 9 months pregnant with Steven Tyler's baby, living communally with him and the rest of Aerosmith and starting to Yoko Ono the band...

Last night, I dreamt that I was being chased by a dead, devil baby, who was accompanied by a demon-angel (something like Galadriel when Frodo offers her the Ring, from LOTR movie). I woke at 1 in the morning, saying "help, help" over and over. By husband was sleeping in another room, due to a cold, and I was almost too afraid to go to the bathroom.

NOW---what does that tell you? All I know is that I want to go back to the Steven Tyler dream.

I am not sure where all the demon-dreams are coming from. Yes, it is a difficult thing to lead a life without your only child, but why on earth would I start having this series of traumatic dreams over a year after the initial traumatic event. Whew.

Due to the weirdness of said dreams, I just had to write it down. I am not sure what else to do about it. I hope that my dreams take a turn for the entertaining and leave this realm of horror.

I want to respond to the very kind comment that was left for me by sue flaska. I appreciate your sentiments and wanted to rephrase your mantra, "this, too, shall pass", in a way that I feel is reflective of my understanding of the process that I am living through.

I choose to understand my grieving process as something that I will live with for the rest of my life. So, in that sense, what I am experiencing will NOT pass. However, I do believe that, as time passes, my grief and I will reach some point of reconciliation. As each day and experience passes, I get a little better at living with my grief. I really think that this is the sentiment that you meant to share with me, and I appreciate that you would share your warmth and kindness, despite the randomness of your finding my blog. I am constantly amazed at the human spirit, that reaches out to each other across continents and the world-wide-web, to offer what we can of comfort and consolation to each other.

I have a lot more to say on a lot of issues. Just to build excitement for the coming posts, topic will include Annoying People, Hiding All Traces of Trying to Conceive from the Masses, and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.

Till then.