Monday, December 24, 2007

The Gift

I was just lying in bed, hands on my belly, laughing as the baby did a series of flips inside me. I'm 21 weeks today and the reality of this is so much better than I had even imagined. It has been hard to find inspiration to write about it, as every post would read something like, "Still pregnant. Still incredibly grateful. Still happy."

Which is not to say that this pregnancy hasn't actually been filled with drama. At about 12 weeks, we had the standard triple screen for Down Syndrome which came back with an alarming result: a 1 in 9 chance that the baby would have the condition. To put that in context, plenty of women become panicked when their odds are 1 in 100. Once we got that information, we had a month's wait before the final amnio report assured us that the baby was genetically typical. Which he/she is (we've decided to be surprised about the sex).

That was a lot of time to think about what it would mean to raise a child with special needs. And for me, that was the only option—raising the child. After these losses, and especially after seeing that baby wiggling around in the ultrasound, and knowing how much I loved him/her already, I couldn't terminate. If it had been another trisomy, a fatal one, that would've been different. And if Down's had been accompanied by life-threatening heart defects that promised multiple surgeries and misery, that might've been different. But every blog, essay, and book I read assured me that raising a child with Down's (who is otherwise fairly healthy) has its own gifts.

Which is not to say that we weren't absolutely frightened. The thought of coping with societal prejudice; of fighting for school placements and resources; of having to go through the rest of the pregnancy feeling different or unlucky, unable to bond with the "normal" pregnant people with all their easy optimism; worrying about raising a child who would need some form of special care well into adulthood...the stress manifested in a rash of red welts on my face and in a reluctance to share our news with anyone outside a small circle of friends and family. It was...very hard. wasn't wasted effort, either. One thing became very clear to me through this: the whole purpose of having this child is to love it, just for being alive, and to to find daily meaning in providing that love and care. The point is not to see this child grow up to become some thing—an artist, a college graduate, a race car driver. It's to love the process, not the product.

Of course, I won't be able to remember this every day. I'll get caught up in the same bullshit that everyone does. I'll fret over report cards and standardized tests. But it's a gift to have this perspective at the outset, and to have even more reason to feel so grateful for this healthy baby kicking away. Sweet is the fruit of adversity.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New year, new beginning

I didn't go to temple for Rosh Hashanah this year, which I regret. It is an intense time, and it would've been good to spend a day thinking about the past year, in all its misery and grace.

I'm pregnant again. We found out about a month ago. My cycles had been strange. I was beginning to think that I wasn't ovulating, and because charting was proving so stressful, I had skipped it altogether. But then I had some symptoms—the twingey sensations in my uterus, breast tenderness—so we tested.

The news came on a very good day. We had moved back home and were spending the weekend in a favorite coastal town. In the preceding weeks I had been feeling so relieved. Almost fully healed. Life felt rich and full again, I liked my new job, our friends were glad to see us. So I was on that high when we saw the faint second line.

Since then, I've been on a roller coaster. I started the Lovenox shots, which weren't nearly as bad as I had feared. I got some good hcg results, followed by last week's ultrasound which put me at about 7 weeks, with a good, strong heartbeat. That's a first for us. But being pregnant again is also kicking up some of the pain from last year. It feels like I'm far out on a limb, now responsible for this little life, while also managing my own emotions. It's so hard to not give into the fear and the what-ifs. Who am I to have a healthy pregnancy when I was such a mess just 9 months ago? How can this end in anything but heartbreak? Can I handle the uncertainty and the physical changes? How do I think about this little life? What do I owe it? For now, I'm tentative, trying to be welcoming and loving, but not able to really pull it off.

I'm trying to breathe through it, remember to talk to people when it seems overwhelming. The nausea and fatigue are slowing me down, which maybe isn't a bad thing. I'm trying to surrender to this.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Not pregnant

Looks like I ovulated later than usual this month. It's hard to say exactly when, but it might well have been when Adam was out of town. Or maybe we just didn't get pregnant, for whatever reason.

I'm beginning to contemplate whether it would be smart for us to meet with an adoption agency when we move back home next month. Just to get some of the preliminary work underway. It might be that I'll get pregnant and it'll stick and all will be well. But I need to learn more about our options. Adoption takes time. And if we ever do manage to have a bio kid, we'd still want to adopt a second, if possible.

Meanwhile, we'll get back on the schedule that has worked for us in the past: sex every day in the 10-day fertile window (to allow for o-date variations).

On other news, I just flew home yesterday, after having completed all my job interviews. They went well. At least, I'm happy with how I did. If I don't get any job offers, I'll still know that I did my best. Meanwhile, I wonder what will happen if someone does make an offer. Can I handle a new job while also dealing with TTC and potential miscarriage? What if I do get pregnant? These jobs are all intense. Not pregnancy-friendly. They're also great opportunities. Career-defining opportunites. Do I let them pass me by on the off-chance that I end up with a baby that I want to be home with for a while? Could the stress of a new job hinder our attempts? I can't answer these questions until I know whether or not there's an offer at hand, but if that does happen, I'm going to have to decide quickly. Help.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

"The world is a narrow bridge...

...the important thing is to not be afraid."

-Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav

Friday, June 1, 2007


My chart is fucked up this month. I thought I was seeing an ovulation spike yesterday, but it dropped again today. Meanwhile, the thermometer is giving me a different temp every time I take it. Just two minutes apart, these temps tend to go up steadily, even though I haven't gotten out of bed or even moved.

Just in case I have ovulated, I've started taking low-dose baby aspirin for the rest of this cycle. But I'm so very much in denial about what I'll also have to do if I actually get pregnant.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


I finished up my last day at work and am now officially an independent contractor. It's strange, having no office to go to, no place where I have to be. Unsettling. And there's a lot of contract work to do. At least I can do it sitting on my bed.

Adam and I took a long weekend in a resort town nearby. It was a charming place, as they always are, and unfancy. Mineral baths were cheap and clean, which really played to my egalitarian fantasies. Spas for everyone!

Lying in the bath, knowing I was near ovulation, I tuned in to something like sadness and unease. So I talked to those emotions the way my old therapist taught me: You give the feelings a persona (actually, you just let the image come to you. It's usually a younger version of yourself), and then talk to her in the voice of your most wise, compassionate self. It's a Sybilesque dialogue, a way to soothe the difficult emotions, and accept them as part of you, but not all of you.

I asked her (the image I got was of a younger me...early teens?) what was wrong. I got a deep sadness in my gut, and tears in my eyes. "I can't believe you're going to make me go through this again," she said, crying now. The miscarriages. I imagined gathering her up and telling her that I won't leave her alone this time. I pictured all the resources we had now, the ones we didn't have before. Being back home again. A safety net. I said I wouldn't abandon her like I did before, no matter how anxious or sad she gets. And I pictured all the different parts of me as a group that could surround her with love and safety. I resisted the part of me (it's always there) that saw the exercise as silly and indulgent.

It helped. But sometimes it's so hard to do this work while still living in the world. There's no space to stay tuned in like this. And yet I seem to need to do it. How?

Saturday, May 26, 2007

To clarify

After I wrote my last post, it occurred to me that what I had written is exactly the sort of thing that would have freaked me out right after my first miscarriage. So I should just say here that it's not inevitable for a woman feel up feeling as though she's dragging around a dead part of herself after a pregnancy loss. What happened to me happened in the context of my life, my family history, the other losses that were happening concurrently, the fact that we were living 3000 miles away from family, a frustrating job situation, and my own tendency toward anxiety when times get really tough.

I do think that the nature of grief is different for these sorts of losses. But people are bound to feel it to widely varying degrees.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

The grief that we know

Rosepetal has sustained more losses this year than anyone should ever have to. She wrote so eloquently today about her grief. How she can't eat, how she feels like a shell of her former self. It got me thinking about one of the subtle, profound experiences of miscarriage and infant loss. It's hard to talk about this without sounding a little extreme, a little melodramatic. But it's worth a try, because there's something here that I wish I had understood at the time.

The process of birth is one of separation (and actually, reunion). In utero, the baby is part of you, made from your very body, and yet it is not you. It's a complex reality. Two realities, really, existing simultaneously. The baby is of your body. In many ways, you and the baby are one. Women sometimes describe giving birth and saying, "You mean, there was another person inside me all that time?" Similarly, when the baby is born, s/he doesn't yet grasp that the mother is a separate person. As the baby grows, so does the awareness of an individual identity. It's a gradual thing. Both mother and baby slowly begin to conceive of the other as unique, separate.

So when that baby dies, doesn't part of you die, too? And not just in the poetic sense (as in, "It's so sad I could die"). The part of you that was one with the baby is dead. You aren't alive the way you were before. You're walking wounded, but worse. Dragging this dead part of you, like a paralyzed limb, everywhere you go.

I was trying to explain this to my sister-in-law, who was trying to dismiss the loss. "Something died inside me," I told her, instinctively putting my hand on my abdomen. "My baby died inside me." And suddenly she winced in sympathetic pain and never minimized our loss again.

That is why this grief is so different. It's emotional and physical. Our bodies grieve this loss, not just our minds/hearts. It's almost as if we live in a liminal state between life and death. We feel like shells of our former selves because, in a sense, we are.

When I was at my worst, that sense of being close to death, of some part of me being dead, terrified me. I feared that I was on the verge of becoming suicidal...that with just a little more stress, something would break and overtake me and make me do something horrible. But that didn't happen. Thankfully, with help, I began to see that it wasn't suicidality, but something else. No less awful, but different. The death I was feeling wasn't some future thing to fear. It had already happened.

For a while after that, I wasn't so haunted by death, but still felt untethered, disconnected from the world. I remember hiking up my favorite hill one day and lying down in the sun at the top. Before my miscarriages, I had always had the feeling there that I was grounded, with the comforting warmth of the earth under my back. But now I felt as if I could just float away. The earth could just shake me off. Adam and my family were the only things that gave me context and tethered me to my life. I held on tightly to them.

Then, with time and help (Adam, therapy, family, Celexa), I began to have glimmers of feeling alive again. Those moments kept me going. I had moments of feeling like I belonged in this world. There would still be dark days, but they would be followed by days in which I felt that I felt connected, even rooted. I began to feel like myself. And then, in time, I began to believe in the future.

I am awed to know that, even after such darkness, life can still come back. It feels like a miracle. In fact, I can only feel safe talking about those dark days now that I know that they can recede. I used to think that resilience meant never falling down. Being unhurt by injury. But maybe that's not it. Maybe it's more about coming through to the other side.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Time to get busy

It's CD10 and we're entering the window of fertility. Oh please let this work.

Meanwhile, for your entertainment...

Thursday, May 17, 2007


In the past two weeks, three friends have had babies and one has announced her pregnancy. Last night, it was our turn to bring dinner to one of these new families. To say we dragged our asses there is putting a really perky spin on it. On the way over, Adam suggested we sing "We are the losers!" to the tune of "We Are the Champions." I love him for that.

Thankfully, this visit was a blessing in disguise because these babies (twins) were conceived via donor eggs after 3 years of infertility (she is in her early 40s). These people know exactly what it's like to visit your friend's new baby when your own arms are empty. They made it easy for us. We arrived, put the food down, and Jenny said, "How 'bout you wash your hands and pick up a baby?" It was all very matter-of-fact, which broke the ice. And holding that little girl made me feel good, not sad. Like maybe it's possible for me, too. I looked down at her perfect face and thought, "Oh, I hope."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Not pregnant

It's ok. I mean, it wasn't my favorite thing to figure this out on Mother's Day. But I can also recognize that it was a good thing to stick my toes in the waters of trying without having to manage the emotions of an immediate pregnancy. If I'm not pregnant five months from now, I won't be so sanguine. But for now, it's ok.

And I'm distracted by a couple of job prospects that have recently come up back in our hometown. What luck! What timing! Only thing is, I had planned to ease off the work a little bit. Do some consulting and independent projects. I thought that was the Big Lesson I was supposed to be learning after my miscarriages: Slow down a bit. Work more independently. Learn to go with the flow. Have a flexible schedule. Get pregnant, try to relax, tune in. But these opportunities have landed in my lap and if I'm offered either of the jobs, it'll be pretty impossible to turn them down. They don't come around often. Hardly ever. A very lucky dilemma. But how to manage a (pretty please) pregnancy and a new job? And then to be locked into full-time work after some sort of too-brief maternity leave? I've lost some of my drive. Work doesn't seem as important anymore.

In the past, I've found that it helps me to look for signs, indications that a particular direction is the right one. I've toyed with the notion that when you're on the "right" path, things tend to fall into place. When I look back over my life, certain people or opportunities have come along at key moments. They seemed to recommended themselves with their good timing. It was as if the universe was saying, "Here. Do this!" And it has always worked out.

I know that this is, in many ways, crap rationalization. But I yearn to feel that I'm on a path. That there's some meaning and order in life. So I ponder this good fortune on the job front: Does it mean that I'm supposed to take a job (if offered) and keep plugging along? Will it lead to great things? Or should I interpret this as a sign that the marketplace values my work; that I could do well as an independent contractor?

Well, first step is to not blow the interviews, I suppose...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007


Just got back from my trip, which was very good in almost every way except for my time with my family, which had me feeling oddly isolated. I think this is normal, though, when you go through a life-changing event and then return to your old haunts. I feel different now. And all of our old familial habits and ways of relating seemed hollow.

Don't I sound like Suzy College Freshman! Anyway, I think this will get better with time and proximity.


Possible pregnancy signs:

1) Sore breasts & nips
2) Crying at the drop of a hat (not in a depressed way, praise prozac, just a weepy way)
3) Toothbrush can make me gag
4) Occasional uterine twinges

Not-promising signs:
1) No implantation spotting (had that both times before)
2) No metallic taste in my mouth
3) Boobs don't seem that different from PMS symptoms
4) Didn't use the Pre-Seed this month, which has worked like magic in the past.'ll be at least 5 days before I can test. Even that might be a little early.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Last night, I had a sudden craving for Nutter Butters. This is noteworthy because a) I'm trying to wean myself off sweets and have mostly lost my taste for junk food (rest assured, I haven't lost my taste for bread, cheese, and homemade pie). And b) the last time I had such a specific craving, I was pregnant. In that case, the craving was for leafy greens and liverwurst. I guess I needed iron. The pee test one week later confirmed that I was indeed up the duff.

It's unlikely that I'm pregnant already. I'm only now feeling the twinges of ovulation and my temps are just starting to creep up after a week of ping-ponging. But the sex was well-timed. So...I'm taking low dose aspirin* and waiting.

I'm also noticing that I'm not really freaking out right now. Of course, as I type this, my lizard brain is saying "SHUT UP! They will hear you and then you will be so sorry because you'll freak out really bad and it'll serve you right." See how healthy I am? But I'm trying to hold onto this peace, even if it is brief. Right now I'm ok. Even if I freak out in the future, I will still have these moments of calm. I hope.

Tomorrow, I'm flying cross-country once more to see family and to prepare for our big move back home, which will happen some time this summer. We're tired of being so far from our nearest and dearest and we want more support from the people whose bad genes got us into this mess. So we'll pick up stakes sometime this summer. It won't be easy to say goodbye, but there's a rightness in this decision that makes me feel comforted.

*Edited because I had initially typed "aspiring". This is getting rich.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Back in?

Today is CD 15. I generally ovulate around day 16, though my temperature was low this morning, so it may be a bit delayed.

In any case, we "tried" yesterday. I put it in quotes because it is too frightening to me to declare it. To simply state that I want a baby and then go about the business of making one. It feels like hubris, oddly. Like I'm inviting the universe to knock me down again.

If I get pregnant this cycle and the pregnancy sticks, I can have a baby before I turn 37*. It matters to me right now. So we tried. But emotionally, I'm keeping my head down, plugging my ears, and chanting "lalalalala" to silence the worries and superstitions. I don't have much faith in myself. I'm trying.

*Edited because I had initially typed "36". Hah. That's funny.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The secret

My best childhood friend has lived a charmed life. She grew up in a generally happy family. They were well-off. She has always been healthy. She has taken risks and they've always worked out for the best. She met her husband at 31 and got accidentally pregnant right before their wedding. Because she's suspicious of Western medicine in general and prenatal care in particular, she saw only midwives throughout her pregnancy. Not even an ultrasound. She gave birth to her daughter at home, with no complications.

All of this has led her to adopt a particularly optimistic philosophy, one that reframes her good fortune as a reward for living the right way. She practices yoga, Ayurveda, tai chi, massage, vegetarianism, and can-do New Age spirituality. She believes that our body states are merely expressions our emotional/spiritual realities.

So you can imagine why I've been reluctant to call her in the months since my miscarriages. But she has been leaving messages and my silence was starting to look suspicious. So, as I was feeling strong and optimistic yesterday, I have her a call.

Two comments stood out:

1) Her response to the general news about the miscarriages and my antiphospholipid diagnosis: "Have you heard of The Secret?"


My reply: Yes, but I found that philosophy particularly unhelpful since it blames people for their own suffering and serves only to comfort the fortunate.

2) Her response to my news that we'll be moving back to our home city over the summer: "Maybe your body just didn't want to give birth in a place where you don't feel at home. I bet that you're going to feel so grounded when you move back that it'll all work out."

My reply: "Hmmm...that's interesting."

But what I wanted to say was, "FUCK YOU!!!! Saying shit like that only comforts YOU and makes you think that you're in charge and that you "deserve" your happiness. And you know what?? You're not in charge! And I can't wait until something comes along to burst your goddamned smug little bubble."


The thing is, she means well. Her heart is in the right place. She wants me to be happy, she wants me to get what I want, and she wants us all to feel safe in a benevolent world.

But she just doesn't get it. And I don't really wish that reality on her. Still, I get so very tired of having to excuse peoples' ignorance in light of their good intentions. I'm tired of the hush-hush attitude that makes miscarriage seem like such a rare aberration that people are clueless about how to comfort us.

So lately, when I'm talking to someone who seems compassionate or smart about things, I find myself more apt to tell them about what has happened to me. Not compulsively, not often. But when the conversation opens up in a particular way, I open up. I feel the need to record it: These things happen. To good people. Life can be random.

I'm just very anti-secret right now. Anti-Secret, too. People are suffering all the time, all around us. And we further isolate them by responding to their pain with fear and avoidance and platitudes. Albert Camus once described America as "this place where everything is done to prove that life isn't tragic." He's right. Life is pretty fucking tragic sometimes. Our only hope is to know that we're not alone.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

At the gate

My new cycle started this weekend. I think we're finally going to try again. I think I'm ready. At least, the thought of trying doesn't fill me with the panic that it did a couple of months ago. And taking care of the new cat has intensified my knowledge that I really, really, really want to have a child. I think I'd be a good mom. I really want to try.

The timing isn't ideal. Adam has to do a lot of traveling in the next couple of months. If we get pregnant this time around, I may well have to start the Lovenox injections while he's out of town. It's scary. I don't even know where to begin. My doctor said to call when I'm pregnant, but who's going to teach me how to do it?

On the other hand, I need to get moving. The pressures are partly biological: I got pregnant easily before, but what if my ovaries are winding down? They're also psychological: I don't want to face Mother's Day without at least having tried to get pregnant again. I'd like to try to have a baby before turning 37, if I can.

If my calculations are correct, I should ovulate around the 30th. Until then, we wait and see.

Friday, April 6, 2007


My trip to see the in-laws was just so, so good. I slept like someone who hadn't rested well in months. I sat in the sun and was quiet. I was proud of myself for facing my fear of flying, Adam and I had a couple of good meals, the weather was perfect, and we adopted a kitten! He just showed up on my mother-in-law's doorstep one morning and jumped in my lap.

"It's like God sent him to you!" said my sister-in-law, who's in recovery and believes that God is in charge of everything.

I'm doubtful. In fact, if I were one of the Seven Dwarfs, that would be my name. But this kitten does feel like a gift. And now that we're back home, the work of getting him settled in and integrated with our existing cat feels...satisfying. It gives me a place to put all my frustrated maternal instincts. It makes us feel like we can nurture life. It gives us something to focus on and laugh about.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Made it

I'm writing from the other coast, where the weather is warm and the jasmine is blooming outside my window.

My flight here was long and turbulent (I mean overhead-bins-flying-open turbulent). But I was fine. I was not the crazy lady writhing in the aisles. Rather, I was the pleasant lady chatting with her neighbor and even dozing off for a brief nap. Yes, I took a Klonopin. But this trip has reminded me that I'm not broken, just a little traumatized. And it will get better.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Laugh when you can

I know a woman who, after a really traumatic pregnancy loss, wound up at Chili's one night for dinner. Salt in the wound perhaps, but she was at the mall and there was nowhere else to eat.

So Chili's was doing a little table tent promotion for their signature ribs. It read, "I want my babyback, babyback, babyback..."

She took it home and keeps it on her desk. I love her for that.

Monday, March 26, 2007


So yeah, Adam's grandfather died Saturday. There is so much suffering on top of suffering right now, I just don't know what to do or how to think about it. We're muddling through, one foot in front of the other, but I can't face TTC this cycle in the midst of all this loss. And that feels awful.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Only fear?

My great-aunt M. died yesterday. She was an amazing woman. Widowed in her late 40s, she moved to California and made a life for herself. She never had children, but she was so happy, so optimistic, so full of life. In recent years, she would sometimes go foggy and talk about an imaginary daughter who had died. My mother said she may have had a miscarriage, though she's not sure. M was the last one in that generation and while it's a blessing that she went peacefully, it's so very sad.

Adding to the strain, we had looked at this cycle as our target for trying again. Now in the face of it I'm so frightened that I can't think straight. It's hard to even write about it because I feel so ridiculous.

On days like this, the thoughts sound like this: Do you want a baby or not? Yes. Why this foot-dragging then? Because I'm broken. Oh, stop it. Buck up like other people have. Stop the self-indulgent whining. I can't do this. I'm too fucked up. Do you want a baby or not? Yes. Then why this foot-dragging...

I'm so, so tired of this. How on earth do people find the courage to try again? And forgive their weaknesses?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Rebecca Walker said an asshat thing*

I hate to hate on feminist spokesmodels, but from Sunday's New York Times:

The most incendiary notion in “Baby Love” may be that, for Ms. Walker, being a stepparent or adoptive parent involves a lesser kind of love than the love for a biological child.

In an interview, Ms. Walker boiled the difference down to knowing for certain that she would die for her biological child, but feeling “not sure I would do that for my nonbiological child.”

“I mean, it’s an awful thing to say,” said Ms. Walker, who in a previous relationship helped rear a female partner’s biological son, now 14. “The good thing is he has a biological mom who would die for him.

First of all, screw you, lady! Second of all, who is that poor boy and can he read?

Fortunately, over in the Sunday Book Review, Alexandra Jacobs pans the book, calling it "solipsistic open diary," in which Walker "sorely tests the reader’s patience while settling into a pregnancy of privileged contemplation, achieved with relative ease under the ministrations of a homeopath."


*I've softened the title of this post a bit (from "Rebecca Walker is an asshat"). I'm sure she is not, in fact, an across-the-board asshat, and I understand that comments can be taken out of context in newspaper stories.

And yes, I realize that she was "only speaking from her own experience," (That old chestnut! "I'm just speaking from my own experience, but old people smell bad. And gay men talk funny.").

But she's the one who framed the issue as a "biological mom" vs. "adoptive mom" thing. She could have said, "child of my happy marriage," vs. "child of the woman with whom I was in an ambivalent relationship" or "child of a family unit that preceded his birth" vs. "child I came to know later in his life as as a step-parent".

Nevertheless, it's wrong and petty of me to gloat over a bad book review. But I maintain that her comments belong firmly in the category of myopic remarks made in the self-satisfied glow of success, benefiting no one and only hurting the vulnerable.


I bought a big red suitcase on Saturday. An optimistic gesture, since one of the pesky residual symptoms of the big post-miscarriage depression is a fucking fear or fucking flying. I was never afraid to fly before. I loved flying. I loved travel. It was one of my great strengths, having such a sporting attitude about adventure.

Now the thought of flying puts my stomach in knots. It's not a fear of terrorists or of falling out of the sky, but of having a big fat panic attack in a sealed container 38,000 feet above the earth. There are drugs for this. I know these drugs work. But my brain likes to invent scenarios in which the drugs suddenly don't work and I'm trapped! I'm the crazy lady on the plane, convulsing in the aisles, disrupting everyone's plans, forcing an emergency landing, sending the FAA into fits.

This will not happen. My rational brain tells my dinosaur brain that while it may send out crazy imaginings that feel real, they are mere obsessive fantasies with no more substance than fog. I have a cross-country flight coming up in less than two weeks and I'm trying to hold on to that fact. And packing drugs.

Yesterday, on the way back from a little Sunday road trip, my parents and I stopped for dinner at a casual restaurant in a fancy town. A really rather cute couple came in pushing a little dumpling of a baby in a Bugaboo stroller that was the same shade of red as my new suitcase. My mom rubbed my arm sympathetically. I didn't fail to note the poignancy of this parallel...that, rather than being whole and happy with a baby and toting my new red stroller (though I would never, ever buy a Bugaboo, nojudgementandallthat), I am left with a phobia and a discount suitcase.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Due date

Today is my due date. The first baby, who might have lived if I didn't have APS.

When we first lost her (and because I can't know for fact, I imagine that she was a girl), I comforted myself with the thought that she wasn't meant to live. "It's usually a genetic defect," intoned the midwife, the obstetrics resident, the nurse. Funny, then, to learn that only half of all miscarriages, maybe sixty percent, are caused by defects. Is it really more efficient to assume that it's just nature's spell-check at work until the miscarriages pile up? For whom?

This was the baby I saw on the ultrasound, the one whose due date inspired real plans. My parents are here now because last July they scheduled a trip to come meet their grandchild. They decided to visit anyway. I needed it.

This is the baby who would have been ruling my days all this time, the one conceived on Adam's birthday. Whose flickering heart reassured me, until I was told otherwise, that she was fine, everything was fine, I was a worrier. The one whose remains were tossed with the day's medical waste. I wanted it done, over, to put the setback behind me. I wish I could bury her. Why shouldn't she have a place in the world?

There is the comforting borrowed Buddhist notion of souls alighting and departing. Did she only need those nine weeks two days to achieve...completion? Was she meant for this brief stay?

And then there's the thought that she wasn't meant for anything. She could have lived, but I have a disease and she died. Or maybe I would have miscarried anyway. Maybe it was genetic.

Some say that she was an embryo, not a person. I don't even know if she was a she. A potential. Isn't this the assumed view? It feels like unearned credit to call her a baby. Maybe we just don't have the words for this in-between life.

There are things I didn't know at the time. I wish I had, but I didn't. She should have been growing inside me all this time. But she died. She has become more real to us in the months since we lost her than she was during the brief time we had her. I am her mother. She was from us.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

That look

Like most infertiles and hab-abs, I can spot a pregnant woman like a lion spots wildebeest (which is not to truly compare either of us with anything beastly. It's just that I'm that quick). Adam and I were walking behind a couple last night. Both young, slender, and fashionable. Nothing obvious from the back. But there was something about her walk, a slight rolling back on the heels, her stride just a bit wide. As we passed them I caught a sidelong glance. Sure enough. Pregnant.

That's ok, though. Life isn't a pie. Her pregnancy doesn't make me less pregnant. In fact, right now I'm riding high on the emotional peak that precedes each new cycle. Steeped in my happy hormone bath, I am all optimism, energy, and hope. Peace be with all of you. We are all one. Next week? We'll see...

Monday, March 12, 2007

When things fall apart

I want to talk about the moment when you figure out that something in your life, something big, is broken.

Life can go very well for a very long time. You can start to believe that fortune smiles upon you, that you've earned your fine luck, that the road will rise to meet you. I had a long run.

The career came together, I met Adam, we bought our house and got married, we pulled off a big move, and we stepped up to the baby buffet at the fashionably late age of 35. Pregnancy happened quickly, and I felt proud to be so healthy, so fertile. "You come from good peasant stock," my mother said. I patted my hips, the wide pelvic bones that would make a cozy home.

And then, the little spot of blood. The "just to put your mind at ease" ultrasound, the slow heartbeat, the return untrasound one interminable week after the first, the snowy silence of the screen, the mute technician, the hour spent in the waiting room with all the round bellies, only to be sent to Labor and Fucking Delivery to be told 30 minutes later what we already knew to be true. Then the D&E, the ibuprofen, the little strawberry we picked and buried in the garden, the weeks of spotting, the determined belief that this would go down as a minor setback, a mere delay. "This won't break me," I told a friend.

Then the uncle's death two weeks later, the funeral, the sister's sudden divorce, the decision to try again after a month, the anxiety attack over dinner with friends, the sense of something slipping, the second pregnancy, the terror of a positive test, the next day's negative, the back pain, and, once more, the blood, only large clots this time. I had been making dinner, an ambitious menu for friends. I left the roast in the oven with the door cracked and we drove to the hospital.

We went back to Labor and Delivery. Once more, the nurses seemed caught off-guard. You're what? What to do? Where to put you? In the hallway, we heard a woman shout, "It's a girl!"

No need to intervene this time. I handed over a tiny tupperware cup with the tissue sample I'd retrieved.

We hosted the party anyway. What else is there to do? Life has to go on. Only, I find myself standing at the stove trying to remember what it is that separates me from the other lost causes. Something makes this life blessed, I know, but I can't find it. I hate myself for this. My body feels light, like it could float away. My legs ache. The little joys are so flimsy now. The sun sets and my despair rises. Nights become longer, and as December rolls around I'm frightened. When will this end? How can it, if a baby is the answer and I'm too sick to try? I call the doctor. The failure is complete. Mind and body undone.

Adam curls around me. "I need you," he says. I'm split open, grasping, exposed. I am not the woman he married. But he's there. It's something to hold on to, something to be grateful for. I confess my sins to friends. They tell me, these are not sins. I count down the days until the light comes back, until the drug kicks in. Each day, one more minute of light. When the bottom drops out, I don't fall as far. Soon (but not soon, it is never soon in this state), a pattern emerges. I can match the despair to each cycle. Is it the hormone crash, the absence, or the blood that reanimates the blackness? But it passes.

At some point between then and now, I let go of being happy. I'm rewarded with the first flickers of hope. The smooth path is gone (for now). I fold this chapter in to my story. My therapist tells me, "Love and gratitude are bigger than fear." Now I can't remember what it was to feel only blessed. To have all meaning depend on the absence of failure. But I know that I am loved. There is life beyond being fortune's favored child. I'm grateful.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The first

It was warm today. I'm on the bed with the window open, looking out at the lights from the city. Cat is here. Adam is on his way home. I'm happy tonight.

I had my last miscarriage (5 weeks) in October. The one before that (9w2d weeks), in August. Despite my best good camper efforts, mild depression in November turned to crushing despair in December followed by antidepressants. Post-partum depression, without the baby. So much more streamlined. I wrestled with feelings of failure. Wrestled with God. Wrestled with my skinny jeans. Still no answers, but the light is getting longer.

My blood tests have revealed borderline antiphospholipid syndrome, a clotting disorder. We've sought out 3 doctors, received two opinions. 1) Assume it's a cause and treat it, or 2) assume my levels are too low and ignore it. I'm leaning toward #1, but that means daily belly shots of Lovenox and the odd fear of bleeding out. Or of Adam passing out.

I'm sitting on the bed looking out the window and waiting for a sign. Will it be soon?