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.