A blog about babies: the babies I lost, the babies I never had, the baby who made me a Mama.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Tale of Two Thanksgivings; or, When Feelings Become Farts


The date: Thanksgiving Day, 2009
The place: 'Round the dinner table at the Sloper's familial home
The event: The annual recitation of "What are we thankful for this year," in order from youngest to oldest.

I knew I would cry. I did cry. My sisters cried. My mom cried. My husband stroked my back. My sister's fiance told me how sorry he was. I mentioned my gratitude for health insurance. We all laughed and cried at the same time, wiped our tears with our napkins, and ate some good food.

Conclusion: Crying's not so bad.


The date: Day after Thanksgiving, 2009
The place: 'Round the table at Mr. Lawyer's father's familial home.
The event: People just eatin' some lasagna in a traditional product-of-divorce, making-the-best-of-a-split-holiday kind of way.

I knew I would cry. I felt like crying every time I saw my sister-in-law's tiny baby bump (though no one mentioned the pregnancy at all that night, thank God). I was close to tears all evening. And then Mr. Lawyer made some innocuous comment about, "Yeah, it's a real trial taking care of her" (it was a joke and in the context of a conversation). And then I thought about all he's had to see me go through the last two weeks, and all the support he's given even while hurting himself. And I burst into tears.

Silence. Complete, utter silence from every person at the table. Even the 22-month-old niece was silent. It could not have been more silent if I had just let loose the loudest, smelliest fart ever heard or smelled. I got myself under control and took off for the bathroom for about five minutes of nose blowing and pep talking.

Conclusion: Crying sucks major balls.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankfulness; or, Counting Blessings

I am thankful this weekend for so many things:

For my family, for the fact that we can all be together tomorrow, that we love each other and are always a stable force in each others' lives, even when we fight. And for my in-laws, who show me the love and kindness they would give to a daughter of their own.

For my friends, who have been so supportive these last two weeks. So many people have shown me how much they care about me, how sad they feel with me, and how hopeful they are for me.

For my education, that I'm paid to study a subject I love, and that I have the opportunity to introduce students to books they may not choose to read, but that they will (I hope) remember for all their lives.

For my home. It's comfortable and big enough for us and our dog and in a neighborhood we love. We have plans to fix up a few things and money to afford the improvements and we're not in danger of losing our place to live.

For our health and (maybe even more important!) our health insurance. I'm so grateful that all of the ultrasounds, doctors' visits, test and procedures were covered by insurance. I'm grateful that I was able to be proactive about seeing my physicians during my pregnancy, about testing to try to find out what went wrong, and that I can trust I'll be in good hands going forward. And I'm grateful to have mental health coverage and a therapist who is helping me through these struggles.

For my husband's job, which is secure (as secure as things can be right now) and allows me to pursue my academic dream instead of working in a better paying industry.

For the pregnancy. Even though it was short and even though I'm sadder than I ever imagined being, I loved my baby for the four weeks I knew I was pregnant. I'm grateful the baby had those seven weeks to live. And if there was something irreparably wrong, I'm grateful the baby felt no pain during its short time alive.

For the moments of hope and optimism, when I feel confident that we'll conceive another child and that we'll have the family we dream of.

Most of all, I'm grateful for my husband. He is my partner, and I couldn't survive any of this without him. I've never felt as loved and supported as I have these last two weeks, and I thank God every day that he is the man I married and the man with whom I will one day have children.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Back to School; or, Back to Life

I'm up at 6:45 am because I'm going back to teaching for the first time in two weeks. I keep thinking about the fact that at the last class I taught, I thought I was still carrying a healthy pregnancy. I was puking between my courses. I scarfed down two slices of pizza at a staff meeting. I drove home and puked some more.

And then the next morning everything changed.

I really don't want to go back. I want to curl up in a ball in my bed and drink tea and hold my hot water bottle and watch bad tv. But my students have missed out on a week-and-a-half of their course. And while they wouldn't mind never coming back in again, I'm sure, I can't let them down like that.

Only three weeks left. I can make it.

I guess that's what being a grown-up is about.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Tennyson; or, Break, Break, Break

I like to read poetry when I'm sad. I like it when I'm happy too (there's a Christina Rossetti poem I was memorizing for the occasion of the m&m's never-to-be birth), but I especially like it when I'm sad. Tennyson is one of my favorite poets.

Break, break, break
On thy cold grey stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish'd hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

- Alfred Lord Tennyson

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Odds and Ends; or, Collecting Thoughts

I forgot to relate a little event that happened at the d&c. Before anything began, I had a stack of medical and other forms to fill out. Slipped in among them, they had accidentally put the consent form for termination of pregnancy.

I'm Catholic and have huge moral problems with abortion. (Which, I want to clarify, doesn't mean that I think people who have had them are evil or bad or immoral. One of my closest sources of support during this process has been my friend who aborted a first trimester pregnancy with a d&c two years ago, and I understand her reasons for making her choice. (The political aspects of the issue are a whole other kettle of fish. I'll just say that I tend to vote Democrat)).

Anyway, seeing this legal consent form intended for a woman voluntarily ending her pregnancy just made me flip out. I started sobbing. And weirdly, the first thing that popped into my head was that if I ever decided to run for political office people would think I had an abortion if I signed these forms.

I didn't sign them, and they cleared up the mistake and gave me the right ones. But my husband found my reaction a little bizarre--simply because he knows running for political office sounds like hell to me!

* * *
Today we're going down to my parents' house for an engagement brunch in honor of my sister directly below me in age. We're going to meet her fiance's parents, sister, and brother-in-law. I've been really looking forward to this. But I woke up this morning at 4:30 crying. Emotionally this doesn't feel like a stable day. I'm going to have to get past that for my sister's sake.

* * *
Rapidly fading/fluctuating pregnancy hormones don't just mess with your emotions. They also fuck with your skin. The clear, smooth, slightly dry skin of my pregnancy is gone. I've got zits now in places I didn't know they could grow.

* * *
Finally, we're going on a cruise in January! I've never been on one before and usually like more personalized vacations. I pour over travel guides, search online for deals and tips, try to cram in as many sights (and sites) as I can in a short vacation time. But right now, paying someone to take me around to sunny islands while providing me with booze and unlimited food (and a gym) sounds pretty great. My husband is delighted I've come around to his planning-free mode of vacationing.

Anyone been on a cruise before and have any recommendations? We're planning to depart from NYC just to cut down on bother and expense, and the only cruises leaving from their in our time frame are the Queen Mary 2 (ha!), Norwegian, and Royal Caribbean.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Two Steps Back; or, Toddlerhood

I thought I was doing better the last two days. I felt so calm after the d&c, so capable. I can do this, I thought. I can get through this. I'm going to be fine. At least it's behind me.

Today I feel like crap. I woke up at 6 am and promptly started crying. I cried on my husband's shoulder after he woke up. I cried on the walk to breakfast with my mom, and I cried as she drove away to go back home. I'm lying here, completely exhausted. My eyes hurt. My chest hurts. Every part of me feels raw and alive with pain.

It's not fair! It's not fair! I'm like a three year old who wants to shout at her parents. It's not fair that my first pregnancy was a screwed-up one. It's not fair that all my friends have had such easy times conceiving and carrying their children. I want to stand on my roof deck and just scream that this isn't fair.

I know the answers to that: Life isn't fair. Everyone has his or her own challenges. Don't judge my struggles by what I can see of others'.

If the good days are just a phase, then so are the bad ones. But God, do they ever suck while you're riding them out.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

D&C; or, Done

I'm not pregnant anymore. I guess, technically, I wasn't before. The baby died probably about a week and a half ago, so I hadn't had a living, healthy pregnancy since, I don't know, last Monday? Or Tuesday? But now, I'm really, truly not pregnant, with the empty, scraped-clean uterus to prove it.

The D&C was not fun, but the recovery has been better than I expected. They drew blood and gave me an IV to administer the sedative, and I panicked like I always do, but I got through it. And afterward I puked three times from the anesthesia (again, as expected, I'm super sensitive to it) and lay there moaning with the worst cramps of my life. But eventually the ty.lenol kicked in and I felt a little better and was able to go home.

We paid extra out-of-pocket for the "VIP" treatment, which meant a comfortable, private room with a bed in which to wait for and recover from the procedure and extra attention from the nurses. It was expensive, but worth it to be able to have time and privacy to recover without feeling like I was a cow in a cattle stall. We joked that this was my Christmas present.

The nurses were all lovely and kind, and the doctor was nice too. They all reassured me that this was just an accident and doesn't mean anything about my ability to have children. One of the nurses was alone with me in the OR for a little while before it started, and she told me how sorry she was for my loss. I started to cry for the first time that day and thanked her. She told me she had been where I was and she now had three children. That she miscarried her first, too, and that it had taken her a year to get pregnant the first time. A lot of people have told me those kinds of stories, or told my mother (they're mostly older women who are done bearing children). They do help. I try to hold on to them when I feel scared about the future.

I've been popping ty.lenol every 4 or 5 hours and that seems to keep the cramps at bay. I'm also using my trusty old hot-water bottle. I bought it 10 years ago at Bo.ots' pharmacy during my year living in England between high-school and college. I never knew it would get me through so many awful times, but it's been there for me through periods I didn't want to get (and, long ago, periods I desperately wanted to get) and now through this.

I seem to have moved into the anger phase of this process. I've been a cranky bitch these last two days to my mom, my husband, the voices inside my head. I snapped at Lawyer Guy last night for nothing! Because he was talking to his mom about being upset he'll have to miss his family's Thanksgiving this year for mine. I sniped "Screw you" and stomped off to the bedroom to sulk and cry for three hours and then try to make up. Is it hormones? Am I angry at him? He's been so wonderful.

I don't know what I'm feeling half the time. I don't cry all day any longer, but I don't feel like myself, either. I need my husband and family so much, but I also push them away.

Real life starts again next week. I think I'll be ready for it. I think I'll be ready to move forward.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ten True Things; or, Promises

On the eve of my D&C, I make to myself these promises:

1. I will be pregnant again one day.

2. I will have a healthy, beautiful child one day.

3. I give myself permission to cry, to moan, to huddle in a ball, to avoid their babies and their swollen pregnant bellies without punishing or hating myself for being weak and selfish.

4. I will remind myself that their babies didn't take mine away, that their happiness doesn't cause my unhappiness, and that being there for others even when times are tough is the mark of character.

5. I give myself permission to laugh, to smile, to have happy times and moments without feeling guilty and callous or like I'm forgetting.

6. I will show my husband every day how much I love him and how indispensable his comfort and support are to me.

7. I will never complain about being pregnant. I will never bitch about vomiting, or getting fat, or people touching my belly.

8. I will never assume I know another woman's story. I will never assume my pregnancy or my child are of interest to the world.

9. I will never respond to another woman's struggles--be they infertility or miscarriage or loss--with silence.

10. I will practice patience every day. I can't control this. I can't force God's time. But I can love my life as much as possible at each moment.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Home; or, Hindsight


I never thought I would feel a sense of dread thinking that word. But walking up the stairs to our apartment tonight--the night outside dark and the world inside empty--I felt my heart sink with sadness as I approached the door. I'm alone and nothing seems right.

I'm waiting for my husband to return from California. He's somewhere between Dallas and New York right now, and thinking too much about his exact location in the sky activates my plane phobia and terrifies me that I could lose him, too.

He shouldn't have gone to the wedding. I needed him this weekend. I was glad to be with my family, glad to have my mom to coddle me and my dad to hug me and one of my sisters to make me laugh. But I needed my husband to grieve with me. I needed him to hold my hand and talk with me about the baby and work through this together.

I didn't even realize I could miscarry while he was gone until the morning he left. I wasn't thinking. My mind didn't work quite right those first few days. And then he was at the airport and I suddenly pictured myself bleeding and going to the hospital and him being 3,000 miles away. And I realized how stupid the whole situation was.

I was a cranky bitch to him while he was gone, but it was only because I missed him so much. And it felt so utterly wrong that I was sitting with my family crying while he was off at a wedding full of happy people. Not that I thought he was one of those happy people--I know that he wasn't. But we should have been together, dealing with this together. Not on some sort of weird marriage sabbatical just when we needed each other most.

I've cried a little since walking back through the door, and now I just feel blue and blah. I have to walk the dog, fix something for dinner, and maybe even get some teaching prep done for next week, though I haven't decided if I'm going to teach Tuesday yet, or not. And at some point, he'll come back home. And I think things will be better then.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Telling; or, Not Telling

These past few days have been both busy and empty, frantic and calm. I wake up early and lie there in the dawn light and after a few hours the sadness sinks in and I cry for a while and hurt so much. And then it passes, and I get out of bed and try to talk to people and deal with my life with a heavy weight of sadness in my chest that doesn't cut as much as the tears but that never goes away.

Yesterday morning I sent e-mail, just one. I wrote to five of my closest girl friends and let them know what happened. Danny's parents told family. And the phone has rung constantly the last 48 hours. Sometimes I answer it and talk to people. Sometimes I don't feel up to it and let it go to voicemail. I've received so many words of kindness and encouragement, so many thoughts and prayers and good wishes. It means so much to me, even when people don't say the "right" thing or when they talk more than they listen. I know not everyone's good at grief, and I do appreciate the effort.

I've also heard from several women who've gone through this, and not surprisingly, it helps so much to talk to them. One of my husband's cousins called, one of my cousins called, one of our close couple friends, and a friend from graduate school. Just to hear someone say "I know how much you're hurting" makes me feel less alone. All of those women have children now, too, so that helps me to fight back the anxiety and fear that are never far from the surface.

There's someone I haven't told yet, though. One of my closest friends. A bridesmaid in my wedding--I was maid of honor at hers. I threw her baby shower just 1 month ago.

She had her baby yesterday. A boy. She left me a voicemail with the details, telling me she wants to talk and that I can call her today.

I can't call her today. I can't chat and pretend nothing happened to me two days ago. And I can't dump all my sadness and need on her blissful new motherhood. I bought her a baby gift right away, and I sent her a congratulatory text (and mentioned that I'm out of town and will call her next week) and a congratulatory facebook message. But I can't talk to her about this right now.

Which means I can't talk to her.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The baby is not viable any longer. The heart beat is gone. Only limited growth in the last week. Once again, I felt nothing when they gave me the news, but it didn't take long for the tears to start.

I feel very reasonable and calm right now, other than the fact that I keep crying. All the rational explanations make sense. All the platitudes and comforting things people say. I'm totally on the "at least we know we can do it/it's better for nature to take care of its own" train right now.

Of course, I feel completely dead inside and I can't even begin to let myself start to think about trying again next cycle, or how unfair this is, or how much it fucking sucks that I'm still puking my guts out an average of five times a day when there's no baby to show for it.

Nope, right now I feel a limited range of emotions: a numb sort of disconnect with the situation. A huge amount of love for my husband. Overwhelming gratitude that I got this news today and not last Friday, when it would have ruined the baby shower. I'm truly so thankful to God for that gift, the gift of being happy and celebrating with my best friend. Nothing can take those memories away from me.

And a calm sense of inevitability. Did I always know this would happen? Does it just feel that way because it did?

I'm also really tired and would like to go to sleep until 2010.

Monday, November 9, 2009

November Showers; or, Time with Friends and Family

I threw my best friend her baby shower on Saturday. My mother and I did it together, and for a while last week, I was desperately afraid that I'd be hosting this shower while anticipating a miscarriage. I would have done it, because this is my best friend since childhood who I never see, and she deserves it. But it would have been a kind of pain that I'm afraid to even imagine.

As it turned out, I was able to host the shower in a much different state of mind. My parents knew about the pregnancy, so my mom was really sweet to me all weekend, making sure that I ate and rested and took care of myself. And my best friend also knew--and knew about all our fears and worries of last week--so she, too, was a great source of comfort. She reassured me that even though the doctor wants us to have another u/s this week, everything sounds great and normal to her (my bf is a doctor, as well as pregnant herself, so I take her medical advice with more trust that I would most of my friends').

In all, it was a really nice weekend. Nice to see my friend get so many nice presents to welcome her little boy when he comes in January or February. Nice to spend time with my family and people I love. Nice to be away from the city, from job and school stress, and from the worries that have bedeviled us these past few days. And nice to have other people know what we've been going through.

The one not nice thing: I was horribly sick on Friday and Saturday. I puked three times in the car on the drive down to my parents' Friday night, and Saturday I puked about eight or nine times from the afternoon to right before I went to bed. I also made the terrible error in judgment of eating a carton of raspberries and a carton of blueberries at midnight after vomiting so I'd have something in my stomach. They burned like hell on the way back up ten minutes later.

I've noticed that my morning sickness isn't in the morning at all--it starts about mid-afternoon and is at its worst around dinner time. In the mornings I feel fine! As hard as it is to puke so much, I am so grateful this baby is giving me trouble and causing me symptoms.

Please be healthy and strong on Wednesday little baby!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Emotionally Drained; or, Still Hanging In There

This has been the most emotionally exhausting 24 hours of my life. I apologize for leaving you (or just Stef, if you're the only reader) hanging, but I needed to process and deal with my emotions and fears before I could post.

We went in to my gynecologist's yesterday at 4:30. My doctor performed an exam first and found the cervix closed, so she said the blood had not come from my uterus. Then she did an u/s. Almost immediately, we saw the embryo--big and totally obvious. My husband gripped my hand with relief. I felt oddly detached. And then she said, "Let me just find the heart beat. Hmm, I can't find the heart beat."

She referred us to a diagnostic sonography place for today. She said she gave our chances at a viable pregnancy at 50-50. She spoke a little bit about our "options" if the pregnancy wasn't viable. But then she stopped herself. "Don't think about it any more tonight," she said. "Just go home and rest. We don't know what's going on yet."

My poor husband had almost fainted when he heard her say there was no heartbeat. Literally, he had to go lie down in another exam room (Can you tell we're cut from the same anxious cloth?). I felt numb and calm. We left the office together around 5:30 and began walking down 2nd Avenue.

Our close friends had given birth the day before and were in a hospital 30 or 40 blocks south of my doctor's. We had planned to visit them after the appointment to meet the baby, but at that point we didn't know what to do. I suggested we just walk for a while. While we were walking, I called the other doctor's office and set up an appointment for this morning at 8:30.

After I made the appointment, all my fear hit me. I started crying, gripping my husband's hand. At the same time, I was aware more than ever of how much I loved him and how grateful I was to have him at that time.

We walked, and sometimes I cried, and sometimes I didn't. We decided to visit our friends--who suffered a miscarriage about 2 years ago, then tried for over a year afterward before conceiving this child. We are both so unadulteratedly happy for them, it seemed like the right, unselfish thing to do. And the visit was good. For a little while, I put what was going on out of my mind and just felt happy for two people I care a lot about and their very cute little baby boy.

And then we went home. And I fell apart. Sobbing, vomiting, I was a mess. I wound up calling my mom and I spoke with her and my dad for about an hour. They were comforting, reminding me that we can't know God's plans for us and just have to trust in him. And that hardship comes to every life, but that I'm strong and will survive it. My mom said she would go to morning mass for me today.

We fell into an exhausted sleep at 10, and then I woke to pee at 2 am--I didn't sleep again until 4 or 5, waking for good at 6. I puked all morning and cried into my tea as I got ready for the drive back into Manhattan.

Even though my doctor had given us 50-50 odds, I felt like they were 90-10. I was sure this was not a viable pregnancy. I sobbed the entire car ride to the office. I imagined how difficult hosting my best friend's baby shower tomorrow would be, and attending my husband's family wedding the following weekend in California, and getting through Thanksgiving and Christmas. I felt heartbroken. But I also knew I'd be able to survive whatever came.

We had our ultrasound with the doppler. It lasted forever, at least 10 minutes, and was actually painful by the end of it. The u/s tech didn't say anything throughout. She had told us she wouldn't, but she spent so long looking at everything, I was certain she was searching fruitlessly for signs of life. She stopped the exam then, went to find the doctor, came back and said, "I see an embryo. And I see a heart beat."

My husband started to cry. I just felt--nothing. Not sadness, not joy, not even relief. Nothing. Tired. Spent.

We met with the doctor after I dressed. He was concerned that we were measuring two weeks behind based on my last menstrual period. I tried to explain that I always have longer than average cycles and this cycle I ovulated especially late. Even so, he wants us back next week to check on the progress.

And he told us the heart rate. 92.

I came home and ate McDonald's with my husband and slept for two hours.

I feel like I've had a stay of execution. I feel released. I don't feel happy or sad right now. Just peaceful. The baby is still alive for now and that's a good sign. I honestly did not expect to get this news today. So it's enough for now.

Though my cervix is letting me know it did not appreciate 2 vaginal ultrasounds in as many days.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Still Spotting

This makes the fourth day. It was a little heavier last night than it has been. It's still brown (ranging from dark to light) and still accompanied by cramps. Both the spotting and the cramping are intermittent.

I'm waiting to hear back from the doctor again. I'm praying that God will keep my baby safe. I'm trying not to cry too much, trying to get some work done before class this afternoon.

I'm reminding myself to be thankful I'm pregnant at all. But I'm really scared.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Something Scary; or, A Little Bit Pregnant?

Over the weekend, I had my first real scare with this pregnancy.

I went to pee on Saturday night around 2 am and found a swipe of very light brown on the paper after wiping. I panicked. I went back to bed and lay there, tossing and turning, crying quietly to myself. The Lawyer was asleep--he hasn't been sleeping well lately because of insomnia due to anxiety/excitement, but he took a sleeping pill that night-- and I didn't want to wake him. So I just lay there for hours, imagining worst case scenarios and periodically getting up to check on the spotting (which didn't come back that night). My parents were in Maine for parents' weekend at my younger sister's college--I pictured myself calling them to tell them to stop off in Brooklyn on the way back down to Philadelphia, pictured myself telling them about the pregnancy after it was gone. I thought about the baby shower I'm throwing for my best friend next weekend and wondered how I would get through it. I was not in a good place.

I finally managed to get an hour or so of sleep, then woke around 6 am thanks to daylight savings time. I went to bathroom again and found more spotting--still faint, still brown. I told my husband what was going on and we called my doctor's answering service and left a message for her.

I was sick that morning. I don't know how much was due to stress and lack of sleep and how much was due to morning sickness. I lay on the bathroom floor feeling awful and waiting for the phone to ring.

My doctor called around 9 am and reassured me. She said this was fine and normal and likely caused by dehydration (as were my cramps). She told me to rest for the day, avoid exercise and sex, and drink lots of water. She said not to worry unless there's lots of blood, "heavier than a period."

I felt better after speaking with her. I made it through the rest of the day lying on the couch, snacking on saltines, sleeping, and working on homework. And I feel okay today, even though I'm still spotting a bit now and then.

We have four days left until we tell my parents about the baby and just over 1 week until our next u/s at 7 weeks 4 days. Those milestones are so close, but I know that so much can happen in an instant. I really want to enjoy the first trimester, but I also really want to move on to a more secure stage. I want to feel like I'm definitely, absolutely pregnant. Not just provisionally.