Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Still here

The spring was really hard. After mostly avoiding the emotional burden of jealousy and bitterness until then---a bit of grace I was really grateful for at the time---the ugly twins finally caught up with me. Some friends had babies, others became pregnant. It was a kick in the stomach every time. More like a knee in the gut. And it was double the burden for the way it then made me feel guilty for being bitter, the way it isolated me from people I genuinely care about, and how obvious it was to me that they pitied me on some level, or at least felt awkward around me in light of their good fortune, and how that made me hate them. There is simply no winning in these situations.

The summer got better. My beloved cat died, which was horrible. But the grief for Eva let up a little. Once we had time to recover from losing the cat, the first "baby" that we ever had, we were wrapped up in moving from one house to a temporary apartment and then another house that we've been renovating. We were a little band of travelers together, sharing a bedroom for a few weeks, and the closeness was soothing. As the deep grief and bitterness lifted, I began to have glimpses of how you come to accept something as awful as birthing and holding your dead daughter. You don't condone it, you don't want it, you'll never totally accept it, but you stop feeling like you can't really live the life you're in. You stop feeling that you're in the wrong life. You realize that this is the life you have and there are some good things about it. Things to embrace.

So that's where I've been spending more of my time. But I write now because we're coming up on the one year anniversary. One year ago today, I had a bad ultrasound that indicated that Eva was gravely anemic. That the bizarre Kell isoimmunization issue that we had discussed at every appointment might actually amount to something very serious and in need of immediate treatment in the form of a fetal transfusion. Over the next days, it just got worse. The treatment that would've worked if she had been just 3 weeks older before getting sick couldn't help. I keep thinking of that line from Elizabeth McCracken's An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination. I don't have it here with me. She's talking about the day she felt something was wrong with her pregnancy---the baby wasn't moving. In her case, this was at full term. She describes the vague concern followed by the nagging worry, the consultation with the midwife, the reassurance. "And then," she says...and I forget what the next word was. Catastrophe? Calamity? But she gave words to the moment between the old life and the new life, the pause before you plunge into an abyss.

I see that this is how the story turned out for us. What a horrible fucking thing. What a fucking travesty that my daughter died.

I don't know what happens next. We were too wrecked all year to decide what the next move was. We're starting to talk now. I'm old now...40. How unfair that we had the two miscarriages...lost all those years between when we first started trying at 35 and now. And yet we have Sam. How lucky is that? And how lucky are all the other good things? And yet Eva is still dead and trying to be grateful can sometimes get me ping-ponging between peace and self-pity and shame and anger.

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Well, I left this blog on an ominous note and I feel inclined to note that I haven't fallen off the planet, at least.

What has happened since we lost Eva and today is mostly a lot of daily life. We didn't fall apart as much as circumstances might have allowed. In fact, in the early days, I was flooded with this very odd, very deep sense of gratitude for Sam in particular, but for all the other good things in my life. I feel that there's this trick that happens immediately after some losses. Maybe it's grace, maybe it's a neurological response, maybe it's both. But something cushions the blow in the beginning, if you're lucky. Even when you're on your knees sobbing and saying, "I can't do this," there is a moment soon afterward where you think, "We'll be okay." I think it's much harder after the initial crisis when you realize that the shitty thing is still there, only without everyone rallying around you. And the shitty thing shall remain evermore, get used to it.

I now understand what Joan Didion said about magical thinking. I've had so many moments, particularly when visiting the hospital where we were during the pregnancy, where I've had the half-conscious thought that maybe Eva didn't really die or that maybe this new doctor will be able to make things turn out differently. It's hard to even articulate because it's so nonsensical. It evaporates when brought up to the level of words.

Now the grief hits in occasional storms. Not waves, but storms. More storms lately because my due date is this week. When I'm in the storm, I absolutely can not see out of it. I feel desperate. Clawing, screaming, pounding desperate (I save it for when I'm in the car alone. Parked). In those moments, I feel that I am ruined, that Adam and I are ruined, that I must have another child right now because that is the only way I'll ever heal from this. Or, I'll feel that we can never take such a terrifying risk because surely that will destroy whatever good is left. And now we're even more ruined because I'll never stop longing for another child and never stop feeling jealous of every family with more than one and oh my God it is exhausting to be like this. God bless my parents who have gotten two such phone calls from me in recent months. Thank God they're still here to talk me down from the tree. I feel irrational rage toward Adam in these times and I'm glad I at least have the sense to shield him from it.

And when the storms pass, they're just gone. Most days I can feel quite happy. There is a shadow over things maybe. I can see it if I look for it. But most of the time it doesn't distract me.

If we want to have another child, if we want to take that risk, we have three options: use a sperm donor who is Kell negative, do IVF with PGD, or adopt. I suppose we could throw a non-Kell-sensitized surrogate into that mix, but it's not going to happen. I have no idea if we'll try any of them. Adam is so very wary (part of the reason for my rage during the storms). And when I'm not feeling desperate, I tend to agree with him. We got this one beautiful, perfect (within the range of human imperfection) child. We're lucky in many ways and happy on most days. Let's just be grateful for what we have and move on. Think of all the easy traveling we can do! A cozy family of three.

And yet...I think about my life ten, twenty years from now and will I be at peace with it then? Do I want Sam to live his life without a sibling? No answers yet.