Thursday, November 29, 2007

my reason for writing

I receive an insult this morning. Slap in the face. Kick in the stomach. A claim that this blog is a cry for sympathy, a plea for validation. I am stung. I want to shut down. Screw this blog, I'll just go back to scribbling away in my journal and keep it hidden in my closet. But then I stop and I ask myself this: Why am I writing this blog? What is my purpose here?

This blog started simply as an outlet. Writing is like breathing for me. It is how I process life -- it's my way of taking it all in and blowing it all out. I've never shared my writing before, though, so this part is new for me. I'm nervous, vulnerable. But for once, saying it is not enough. I need to be heard.

And then somebody hears me. She stumbles upon my blog a few days after losing her own baby. She hears her own voice in my story. She is experiencing the loneliest kind of lonely. I know this because I was just there. The person LIVING inside of her has just died. And even her own husband, as much as he tries, can't understand what this feels like.

But I can. And suddenly she is not alone. And neither am I. That's what this is all about.

So am I asking for validation? Yes, I am. Am I looking for sympathy? Yes. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. Sympathy is not pity. Sympathy does not belittle; it comforts. And it validates. Hallmark has made a fortune on sympathy. It is a natural human reaction. And a natural human need as well.

And if you have not lost a baby? Why should you read this? Well, maybe you shouldn't. You are welcome to close out whenever you wish. I will never even know the difference.

But if you choose to stay, perhaps my story can give a voice to your friend or your sister or your acquaintance who cannot explain it all herself. If you can't validate my experience, maybe you can validate hers. Maybe you can tell her, "I'm so sorry" instead of "don't worry, I'm sure you'll get pregnant again." She already knows she will get pregnant again. That isn't the point.

If my story can offer validation to somebody else; if it can give or inspire sympathy; if it can somehow soften this experience for just one other woman, then this blog has purpose.

And my baby's existence did not go in vain.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"why me" moments

I keep having these moments that creep up on me -- moments that can only be referred to as "why me?!?!?"

The first of these moments comes while I am decorating my house for Christmas. Never mind that I am Jewish. My husband is not, and I am trying desperately to bring joy back to our home. What better way than putting those little peaceful candlelights in our windows. As I place the last one in the bedroom, the light falls from my hand to the hard-wood floor and the glass shatters everywhere. The tears are immediate. Why is God punishing me? What did I ever do to deserve this?? I am defeated. My plan for a peaceful, joy-filled home is swept into the dustpan with the shards of broken glass.

The next moment comes while my husband and I are enjoying english muffins for dinner in front of the TV. We are in our jammies under a blanket on the couch. I am cozy. I am relaxed. I am content. I reach for my plate. The muffin slips off and lands first on the blanket and then on the floor. Jam-side down. Again the tears are immediate. I cannot understand it. First my baby, then the broken glass, now this? Raspberry jam?!?!? Why why why? What did I ever do??

I have an old friend who ended our last conversation ever with "watch out, karma's a bitch." My baby was due to be born on her birthday. Coincidence? Or am I finally paying the price for kissing the guy she liked back in '99? Could this be karma coming back to even the score? Has it taken my baby?

Today there is another moment. My husband has a job interview in D.C. He is quite successful with his current job, but he is not one to close a door that has been opened for him. So he does his research and he gets excited about this new opportunity. I pick up his best suit (the one he wore on our wedding day) from the dry cleaner's. He wakes up at 4am, showers and puts on his lucky boxers. He kisses me good-bye on the forehead and I mumble him a "good luck." He is off to the airport.

A few hours later he calls me and tells me he missed his flight. What?!?! He's never missed a flight in his life. God is punishing him too?? What did he ever do wrong?

And then I realize. Nothing. He has done nothing wrong. He is as good as good gets. He is honest, smart, responsible, generous and kind. He is nice to his mother. He is nice to his step-mother. He is even nice to my mother. In fact, I can't think of a single person he is not nice to. Karma may have been here to kick me but there's just no way it would have any reason to mess with him too.

And that's when it clicks. If God is not punishing him, maybe he is not punishing me either. Maybe this is not the art of karma at all. What if what they say is actually true -- sometimes bad things happen to good people. Maybe it's just that simple. Broken glass, spilled muffins and missed flights happen to good people.

Perhaps then, lost babies happen to good people too.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

breath of fresh air

My husband and I spend Thanksgiving with his father and step-mother in central New York. We debate about canceling our trip due to our recent loss but decide that maybe a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air is just what we need. And fresh air is what we get.

Things in central New York always seem to be a little bit colder, a little bit quieter, a little bit slower. His father lives in a cabin-transformed-into-house on the top of a hill in the woods overlooking the mountains. The bed we sleep in has sheets so worn you can almost see through them. Its covered with a mismatch of at least 5 hand-made quilts and big goose-down blankets. A bear-skinned rug lies at the foot of the bed. I always sleep late in central New York.

And then there is Nicholas, my husband's brother's son. He is 3 1/2 and filled with nothing but love, joy, kindness and affection. I won't get into his parenting situation or the details of his home life. I'll just put it this way -- his good nature is nothing short of miracle and he is the absolute light of my in-laws' lives. He is the light of my husband's life too.

He spends the night with us at his grandma and papa's house. In my lazy sleep-in morning, I am awakened when Nicholas sneaks into our room and crawls into bed with me and my husband. He gets right up under those cozy covers, cuddles right in between us and pretends to sleep. A tiny little giggle escapes him. In this moment my heart sings. And it breaks. I love this moment. I want this moment. Only I want it with our own child.

Later we take Nicholas for a walk in the woods. He loves the crunching of the snow beneath his feet and the icy water of the lake. He loves the stones, the birds, the fresh air. He loves the outdoors. He is like his uncle. I watch the two of them and thank God for this day. I thank God for the father my husband will be. I recognize the miracle in Nicholas and I pray for our own.

back to the gym

So today is my first day at the gym in almost a month. Right around Halloween I decide to use fatigue and exhaustion as my ticket out. Then of course our little bean is in trouble so I put my feet up for a whole week. Then I lose the baby and am on bed rest for four days and then comes the "poor me" excuse. Well today I am all out of excuses and I'm sweating and grunting like the rest of them.

My normal routine consists of a Sunday morning and Thursday afternoon strength class with some cardio mixed in between. By my doctor's recommendation, I inform both instructors I am pregnant from the beginning. I am not worried about "un-telling" my Sunday instructor. The class is always full and she is not the friendliest to begin with. The only words I've ever spoken to her are "I'm pregnant" and I'm not about to follow it up with "actually I'm not." This one I can just ignore. Let her think what she wants.

I do feel like a big cheater, though, when she passes by me with a slight nod as I am wussing out of a set of squats. She thinks my growing buttocks, little belly and half-assed squats are sweet. She thinks I am a cute pregnant girl; that my dark circles are from exhaustion or maybe nausea. Perhaps I've missed the last few classes because my morning sickness has kicked in and I am home puking in the toilet, drinking ginger-ale and painting my nursery. What she doesn't see is that I am nothing more than out of shape, overweight, lazy and in mourning. Far from cute.

I peek out the window trying to find my husband's cute little ass on the elliptical. Shit! There is my Thursday instructor peeking back in. Why is he here today?!? Unlike the Sunday lady, this one has a name. Jeremy. Funny, friendly, high-fiving, laugh-out-loud Jeremy. He is my friend. On the day I tell him I'm pregnant he smiles his giant smile and his eyes get all big and he congratulates me with a monstrous hug before I can hush him and explain we aren't actually telling people yet. He can't help himself and I can't help but find his joy contagious. I'm pregnant. Yayyyyyy!!

Only now I'm not and how do I tell him this. I feel him staring at me and I look away. I can just hear his loud happy voice with his outreached hand ready for a hard shake -- where've you been, girl? How ya feelin? How's that little baby in there? I can just see the awkwardness in his face when I tell him the truth. I can't do it. I am trapped. Trapped in this room of sweat and movement and strength. "Strength" class. Only I don't feel strong. I feel weak. Frozen. Broken.

In this moment I am the most naked kind of vulnerable and I recognize it. I even accept it. Am I trying to protect him? No, I'm trying to protect me. But from what? Embarrassment? Pity? Shame? Why? I have done nothing wrong! I did not even do this -- it was done to me!

My class is over. I put away my weights and exit the room ready to stand up to my own worst enemy. I am a big girl. I will face the truth and I will share it shamelessly. I will do it with grace. I will not hide. Only Jeremy is gone. I will have to wait until Thursday after all. But something in me has changed. I no longer dread this and I will not avoid it. I will hold my head up high and I will live my truth.

I may have wussed a little bit on my squats today, but this strength class has not gone wasted.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

was I not ready?

I already told you about the day I discover something is wrong with our baby. But it's two days before that when I actually receive my first sign, I just don't know it at the time.

It is the day my best friend gives birth to a healthy baby boy. My husband and I rush off to the hospital to meet the new little guy. We are especially excited to visit the exact place where, in just 7 short months, we will be bringing our own little bundle of joy into the world (or so we are thinking at the time.)

We walk into the room and there is my friend, looking the happiest I've ever seen her; husband by her side; beautiful baby boy curled up in her arms. We congratulate them and they congratulate us. It is a happy, happy day. Her husband brings his new son over to me and places him in my arms. "It'll be your turn soon enough," he tells me.

I am holding life. Brand new life. Tiny. Precious. Perfect.

Suddenly my friend looks panicked. "Is he choking?!?!" I quickly hand him back to her. Did I choke him? Did I hurt him? Is he breathing? Should we call the nurse?

Turns out he just needs to be burped. The baby calms down. My friend calms down. My husband and her husband start talking sports. But I haven't calmed down. The questions keep coming. Did I hold him wrong? Will I know how to hold my own? Am I ready to be a mother? What if I'm not?

That night I go to bed with an itchy bug bite on my leg. I wake up in the middle of the night and it seems the bug bite has spread. I am scratching EVERYWHERE. Finally I turn on the light to discover I am covered in hives. Now, I have never in my life had hives. In fact, my only prior experience with hives was when my husband broke out in them the day before our wedding. Stress-induced hives.

I rush to the doctor the next morning and she gives me benadryl and promises me my baby is just fine. I schedule my ultra-sound for the next day just to be sure. This next day is the one I discover my baby is not fine.

I know if I ask any doctor in the world whether there is any relationship between the hives and the loss of my baby, the answer will be no. Absolutely not. That's crazy. It's just a coincidence.

But as much as I try, I'm just not convinced. I practically choke my best friend's new baby and then I lose my own? The irony is just too much for me. Someone up there (or in there) had to have been watching. Did I fail the baby-holding test and God changed his mind? Did he decide I'm just not ready? Did our baby sense my fear and decide she wants a different mother after all? Or worse yet, did I decide I'm not ready? Were the hives my body's way of saying, "Wait! Stop! I'm don't know if I'm ready for this!" And if so, how do I prove that I am? How do I get a second chance when I can't even look at a baby now without wanting to cry? How do I get a second chance when I blew my first one. I promised my baby life. And she died before I could give it to her.

How will I ever feel ready again?

Monday, November 19, 2007

what i've gained

I don't know what possesses me but I decide to get on the scale this morning. It's my first day going back to work and maybe I think it will help me start getting my life back in order. Instead it sends me two steps backwards. Or more specifically, 8 lbs forward.

"But you were pregnant," says my husband (who returned from his trip late last night) when he sees my eyes filling with tears.

I was pregnant. There it is again. Past tense. What else was I that I no longer am? And what am I now? Or better yet -- who am I now? Because I know I'm certainly not the same as I was.

I am bigger; my heart heavier; my pain wider.

But it seems 8 lbs is not all I've gained. I've also gained a deeper compassion for others who have lost something. I've gained an acceptance to my own vulnerability. I've gained a wider appreciation for life -- and the fragility of it. I've gained a stronger need for the people in my life. I've gained a love for my husband that goes beyond anything I'd ever imagined. Somehow in this loss, I'm coming out with more.

The 8 lbs can go but the rest is mine to keep.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

the day i know

I don't think I'll be getting dressed today. As if the heartbreak isn't enough, I am cursed also with severe-doubled-over-in-pain cramping. And my husband is still out of town. I lie in bed in the middle of the night moaning in pain, wanting nothing more than to be taken care of by him. But he isn't here and I don't want to call and wake him. What is the point -- there is nothing he can do and why should he have to lose sleep too. So I lie here alone and realize this -- even in the strongest of relationships, the happiest of marriages, the purest of love, there will still be moments of bare-boned complete and utter loneliness. This is one of those moments.

I have another one of these moments a few weeks ago and that's really where this nightmare begins. The day I know. It is the day of my first ultra-sound. I am exactly 8 weeks. I know this because I have been charting and know the exact date we conceived. My husband and I are filled with hope and excitement -- I get to see my child for the first time! Unfortunately he has a meeting and can't come with me. We make the decision that I should keep the appointment. If there are two of them in there, I will call him right away. That is our biggest concern.

I explain to my boss why I have to leave for yet another doctor's appointment. She hugs me and congratulates me and hugs me again. I promise to be back before my lunch break is over. I walk into the doctor's office shaking with nerves. I know this day will change me.

I just don't know how much.

At first the nurse points out my baby on the screen and lets me know that that little flashing light is its heartbeat. My baby has a heartbeat!! It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. The tears start rolling. I am going to be a mother. I can't wait to call my husband.

And then something happens. Her face changes. She squints to see the screen and says, "hmmm." Then she turns off the machine and says the baby's heart-rate is a little bit slow. She wants me to come back in a week and take another look. She's not too concerned, though, because the baby is measuring only 6 weeks and 2 days.

My heart drops. I am 8 weeks and I am sure of it. Something is very very wrong. She assures me I must have my dates mixed up. She brings out the little wheel and shows me -- I conceived on October 7. I remember that date. It is the date my husband came home from his camping trip -- the date I told him we were having a baby. I already had four positive pregnancy tests by October 7. Something is very very wrong.

The next 2 hours are a blur. I call my husband 42 times. I think eventually he will guess something is wrong and pick up the phone. I don't know he has it on silent. I go back to work to get my stuff, sobbing so hysterically nobody can understand me. People are hugging me and they didn't even know why. A little girl on her way to the bathroom looks up at me with shock and terror. She has never seen her teacher cry.

I don't know how I am driving. Through my tears I see nothing. My ground has dropped. I am drowning. Finally I am home, doubled over in grief on the couch. I don't even bother to take off my coat. Where is my husband? It is the loneliest 2 hours of my life. I try to stay calm for the baby but I can't even breathe. Something is very very wrong. He finally walks in the door and he holds me as I collapse in his arms. Everything is going to be alright, he tells me. I want to believe him. But I don't.

There is nothing to do but wait. We pray and stay optimistic and tell our baby over and over again how much we love her and want her to grow strong for us. We promise her the world. I sleep every night with my hand over my belly. I drink lots of milk. We beg God to take care of her.

Back at the doctor's office one very long week later -- my husband at my side -- we learn her fate. She has not grown. Her heart-rate has slowed. There is no chance of survival. He bows his head. The breath I've been holding for a week comes out in a long sad exhale. There are no words for this kind of devastation.

But at least this time I have his hand to hold.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

i think i'm still in here

So I survive the baby shower. Thank goodness for wine! It is my first glass in over 2 months and I definitely refill it more than once. I have a brief freak-out when the beautiful bassinet arrives at my door. And I have to leave the room when she's opening the gifts. It's a good thing my kitchen needs straightening up.

Overall the experience is bittersweet and I will always look back at this picture and smile at the strength in it. I love seeing her happy and I love that I am able to give joy to someone I love (and not have to take it away afterwards either.)

Mostly I love that even in sorrow -- even with a broken heart -- generosity can prevail. I've been robbed. My baby -- along with the joy and dreams that she brings -- is gone. But what remains is my SELF. And maybe, possibly, it's even bigger than before.

self-fulfilling prophecy my ass!

I just read a comment from a woman that said that worrying about a miscarriage is a self-fulfilling prophecy. This would imply that I caused my miscarriage by worrying about it to begin with. Yes, I admit it, I did worry. But who the hell wouldn't worry? I was carrying the most precious gift I had ever been given. I have spent the last 10 days trying to convince myself that there was nothing I could have done differently to have saved my baby. And now in 20 seconds all that convincing has come undone.

My doctor explained it like this. Out of the millions of sperm that could have reached my egg, the one that got there fastest just was not a good match. BAD LUCK and nothing more. I would like to find that girl and kick her!

Ok, ok, I don't really mean that. I don't want to kick her. She's probably a very nice person who meant no harm by her comment. It's the world I want to kick. Or God. Or the sperm who was the bad match to my egg. Or something. I wish more than anything I could rewind a week or two and be that innocent again. But I'm not. I've passed into "experienced," remember?

i get dressed!!

I get dressed today for the first time in 3 days. I shower, shave and even put on make-up. I might even blow-dry my hair -- well, I might not go that far but I'll at least brush it. I speak to my husband on the phone without breaking down. Let's hear it for small victories. I feel almost human again and not just a ball of wet grief. Life will go on.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I have these moments that creep up on me. Heartache. Like it actually physically aches. I miss my husband and I miss our baby. It's raw. And real. And the tears keep coming. I miss my baby!!!!!

isn't it ironic

Tomorrow is my good friend's baby shower. I am hosting it at my house. Can the timing be any more ironic? What exactly is God trying to teach me here? Yes, I've been given every opportunity to move the shower. My friend's mother had 7 miscarriages of her own before adopting her so she has been especially sensitive to what I am going through. I've given it a lot of thought and I've decided to keep things has planned. People seem to think I am crazy for doing this so let me explain why:

1. I am happy for my friend
2. I've been in the same pajamas for 3 days now and it's time to get dressed
3. I was excited to host a party at my new house and why should I be robbed of that when I have already been robbed of so much
4. My friend had her own personal struggle with getting pregnant. I won't go into details because this is my blog, not hers. Her story is different than mine but the same theme. She wanted a baby and didn't have one. This is her happy ending (beginning!) and it gives me great hope for my own. (This photo was taken a few years back before I even met my husband -- when she and I both had big dreams to look forward to. We've both had great joy in our lives since then which also brings me great hope. A lot can change in a few years)
5. If I can get through this, I can get through anything

Now if I were the same amount pregnant as her, would I be able to do it? If my belly was supposed to be her size right now and this was supposed to be the month of my own shower, would I be strong enough to handle it? I doubt it. I can't even seem to pick up the phone and call my other friend who was a few weeks ahead of me. So it's not that I am in denial about my loss or that I have some kind of super-power strength. I'm just as vulnerable and heartbroken as anyone else who's gone through this.

It's just that I started planning this shower before I even knew I was pregnant myself. And although I was so excited for us to be pregnant together, we were never really in the same stage so we WEREN'T going through it together. She was always first and I was ok with that. This part hasn't changed at all. She's just going first and I will get my turn someday too. Thank goodness for small miracles.

Ask me in May if I want to host a shower and I can almost guarantee you my answer will be no.

memory lane

Normally I would give anything for three days off in a row. I can't say I'd rather be at work right now, but I'm not so thrilled about being home alone with my doctor's orders to do NOTHING either. My husband left for his business meeting yesterday and is gone until Monday. So it's just me, my house and my empty uterus.

I made my baby a memory box the other day. I break down at Marshalls buying the box. I hold it to my chest through the store thinking "this is my baby's coffin." A woman bumps into me by accident and I nearly drop the box. That's when I lose it. It's bad enough I am going to lose my baby today, you would have to kill me to part with that box.

My husband and I fill the box together. We start by deflating the balloons I bought to surprise him when I found out I was pregnant. He had been camping for the weekend with his dad and I wanted the moment to be one he would remember forever. I was like a crazy woman at the grocery store that day trying to keep my secret until my husband came home. I had to tell someone, though, so I burst it out to the woman blowing up the balloons. She was so excited for me, she squealed! And I had to come back to her a second time after the pink one flew off in the parking lot! I should have known then this was too good to be true.

I decorated our master bathroom that night with the balloons -- my four positive HPT's tied to the bottoms. I hung a onesie on the mirror that said, "I love daddy" and I left a special card to my husband on the counter. There are no words to describe the moment he learned he was going to be a father. The picture says it all.

So we put these photos in the box along with the onesie. We also add the ultra-sound picture of our little bean, a blankie I fell in love with, a "best friends" cap I bought for us and my 2 best friends who are pregnant, (there goes the dream of our children growing up together,) the framed poem we made for our parents to tell them the news and the Christmas card we had made but never got to send. Yup, we jumped the gun and ordered our Christmas cards a week or two ago, a photo of us announcing to the world that there were actually 3 people in the photo. I threw the rest of the cards away yesterday, saving just one for our box. I don't think we're doing Christmas cards this year.

The photo that makes me the saddest is the one of my mom when she found out the news. It's pure joy on her face and now that's been taken away from her. When you've been given joy and then it's taken from you, it's not like you end up where you started out. It doesn't work that way. The joy isn't removed, it's just replaced with sorrow. And you still have just as much. Or maybe more. It breaks my heart.

I had high hopes of sharing these photos with our child some day to let her know how much she was wanted. (I've decided to refer to the baby as a "she" since my husband and I both felt she was a girl. We'll never know, of course, but the pink balloon was still completely inflated as of yesterday, almost 6 weeks after buying it, so that's enough of a sign for me.) But now these photos are put away in a box in my closet for nobody to see but me and my empty uterus...and whoever is reading this blog, I guess.

Who knows, maybe our angel is reading it from heaven.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

why am i here?

Mostly the reason I'm here is that I like to write. Putting my feelings out on paper gets them out of me. I write when I am full of excitement, when I am full of sorrow and when I somewhere in between just trying to figure it all out. I've been writing about my life since the 6th grade and I have about 30 journals sitting on a shelf in my closet filled with my petty troubles and my big moments of the last 20 years -- everything from my first kiss to my wedding day.

Unfortunately I am now in the middle of a sorrowful time and I've written so much in the past week, my hand is actually starting to hurt. I've decided it might be time to make the switch to electronic.

So here I am. And here's my story. I lost my baby. I was 9 weeks pregnant and I lost my baby. I am 31, healthy, happily married, and wanting more than anything to start a family with my husband.

I find myself in the Operating Room yesterday moments away from an abortion. The doctors call it a “d&c” but it is, in fact, the same procedure as an abortion. My husband is standing next to me as I lie on the table, and we both put our hands on my belly and we whisper good-bye to our baby. I like to think of myself as passing from innocent to experienced in that moment, although I don't wish an experience like this one on my worst enemy.

I don't even begin to understand what kind of devastation this will bring until the day I find out I am pregnant. You can’t grasp the loss until you understand the gain. My baby is the size of a pinto bean and I love it more than I've ever loved anything. It is part of me, created by love and actually living inside of me. A heart is beating inside of me. I worry about miscarriage. I am petrified. But my husband keeps telling me everything is fine and it is time to start enjoying this new life. So we do. We celebrate the news with family and friends. We bring tears of joy to our parents. We think of names for our baby. We buy it a blankie. My husband sings lullabies to my belly every night.

And in a moment, the dream is gone. The doctor tells us the baby’s heart is not strong. It is not developing properly. It will not survive.

My husband and I are dealing with our loss, and we are very hopeful for a healthier pregnancy at some point down the road. We understand this is nature’s way.

This doesn’t lessen our devastation, though, and what I can’t understand is why our story has to be a secret. When a family member dies, you welcome the support of all the people in your life. You grieve with them standing by your side. But when the baby growing inside of you dies, you lock the sorrow inside your house. You walk around in the outside world as if nothing has been lost. I don't get it. So I'm done keeping this a secret.

I was 9 weeks pregnant and I lost my baby.