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?