Saturday, December 22, 2007

who's next?

So I am keeping dibs on my co-workers. I teach elementary school. I work with 40 women. Somebody is always pregnant. Last year there were two. One had beautiful twin girls, and the other, a healthy baby boy. So who's next? It's a game many of the older women like to play. This year I seem to be playing along in my head. I dread the day it actually happens.

Megan is a year older than me and got married two years before me. Up until a year or so ago she wasn't even sure she would have children. But she seems to be swaying more toward the yes side lately. She tells me the other day that she just booked a trip to Utah for February vacation. A ski trip. So she's out. Who would plan a ski trip if they were planning on becoming pregnant? Phew.

Then there's Rikki. She is 28 and her wedding was the week after mine. She and her husband just bought a house in the town next to mine. This is her first year teaching at my school. The other day we share a commute together and I confide in her about my miscarriage. She seems surprised I got pregnant so soon after my wedding. She tells me she's nowhere near ready. I smile to myself. Two down.

Next is Karen. She's been married for two years and is almost 10 years older than me. If Karen is next, I will jump for joy and cry happy happy tears. Karen was pregnant last spring and was put on bed rest due to some clotting. We all prayed for her. She lost her baby at 14 weeks. She sent me a card in the mail after I lost mine. I still pray for Karen every day.

And then there is Chelsea. Her wedding was also this past summer. She got engaged the month before me and married the month after me. We shared our wedding-planning experiences together. Our staff threw us a double bridal shower last spring. We've been riding along in the same boat.

Yesterday she tacks her Christmas card up on the bulletin board in the Teacher's Room. I think of my pregnancy-announcing Christmas card that I had been so excited to tack up there. So cheesy. I think of that whole stupid box I had to throw in the trash.

Hers is a collage of photos from her honeymoon. She and her husband with big carefree smiles. Happy newlyweds. I love her card.

Chelsea is not pregnant either but I suddenly find myself insanely jealous. Did I miss something? Have I forgotten? I had a honeymoon!! I had carefree smile-big moments with my husband too. Why aren't they up there on the bulletin board right next to hers? Why did I jump right over it? What was I rushing for? Why did I get pregnant so soon? And what other newlywed bliss have I missed out on because of it?

I should be looking back at 2007 as the best year of my life. It was the year of my perfect wedding day and my incredible trip to Switzerland, the year I married my best friend! Why did 2007 become labeled as the year I lost my baby? Why did I put such a mark on it? How do I get carefree back? I want carefree!

Well it's too late for Christmas cards now but here is my too-late-but-let's-pretend-I-made-one-anyway. Happy Holidays everyone!!

Friday, December 14, 2007

one month later

There is a big snowstorm yesterday. Everybody gets sent home from work early. My husband and I hunker down in our p.j.'s, open a bottle of wine, snuggle up on the couch by the Christmas tree and decide to play a game of scrabble. I kick his butt. We laugh and talk and actually stimulate our brains. We enjoy ourselves. It is a good night.

Later we are getting into bed and my mind wanders. I am suddenly stressed about what to make for dinner for our family holiday party next weekend. This little tangent brings me to panic mode. Suddenly my eyes are filling. Then I am crying. Then sobbing. My husband can't understand it and neither can I. Am I going crazy? My heart is bleeding and I am falling. I can't breathe. I am breaking in half. I am coming undone.

It's not about the dinner party anymore. I am crying for the 8 lbs I have gained and the breakout on my face. I am crying because I don't look like my best me. I am crying for all things I cannot control. I am crying for the newborn on the news today who stopped breathing in the backseat of her parents' car in the middle of the blizzard. I am crying for my best friend's newborn who I will see tomorrow. I am crying because I am scared to death to hold him and scared to death that my friend will ask me if I want to. I don't want to. The last time I held him, I was holding my own baby inside of me. Two days later everything changed. I am crying for the one I lost.

It has been one month to the day since I lost her. And I'm not over it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I am nine when my mother teaches me about the birds and the bees. She tells me girls as young as me can get their period. I spend the next four years repeating "please no, please no, please no" every time I use the bathroom. I want nothing to do with it. And when it happens at age 13, I still want nothing to do with it.

I find myself doing the same thing 18 years later after I discover I am pregnant. I am terrified. Please no, please no, please no. I breathe a sigh of relief every time I see that beautiful stark white of the toilet paper.

But I lose my baby anyway. Since my miscarriage is in the form of a d&c, I have almost no bleeding. The toilet paper remains white.

But my stark white days end yesterday, 26 days after my miscarriage. I am brought right back to being 13 -- terrified and disgusted. I want nothing to do with it. Only now it's worse. It's like a big loud neon sign. NOT PREGNANT. NOT PREGNANT ANYMORE. DEFINITELY NOT PREGNANT. It crushes me. I hate it.

Somehow I thought I could by-pass this misery. Our doctor had advised us to wait two cycles. We did our own research and learned there was no medical reason to do so. We decided to be rebellious and not wait at all. I was so sure I would get pregnant again immediately. I didn't even consider the alternative.

Until there it is staring me in the face.


Do I get to add a yet to that?
(see below)

Monday, December 10, 2007


Being a first grade teacher, I have a million different activities up my sleeve. One that I have been doing on a weekly basis since the start of this school year is called "Dear Mrs. C." I am a penpal with every student in my class. They each have a special notebook in which they write letters to me and I write letters back. They ask me questions and I answer them. I always tell them the truth.

How old are you?
What is your favorite food?
When is your birthday?
July 22

Do you have any children?

And there it is. The question I dread. The one that catches my breath and breaks my heart every time. The first time I get this question is on the actual day of my d&c. I'm not at school, of course, but there it is sitting on my desk waiting for me when I return -- with my d&c date right at the top of it.

Dear Mrs. C.,
I like school. I like you. I missed you today. Where were you? Do you have any children?

It was almost as if he knew. How can I answer? I hate getting that question from anybody but there is an added element when it comes from a child. An element of innocence. And assumption. I am an adult. I am a woman. I am married. Of course I must have children, right? Or at least plans for one, right? And if not, then why not? I stare at the innocence in his letter. It pulls at me. How can I match it and still tell him the truth? There is nothing innocent about this truth.

Dear P.J.,
I almost had a child. I wanted to have a child. I started to have a child but it died just as you were writing me this letter. I was at the hospital and actually the doctor had to kill it. She had to stick a vacuum inside of me and suck that life right out of me. I am glad you like school.
Mrs. C

I close the notebook and put it aside. I take a deep breath. Of all the questions I've ever been asked (and I've been asked a lot) this is my hardest to answer.

It's because I hate having to answer it for myself.

Dear P.J.,
I don't have any children yet.
Mrs. C

Yet. For such a small simple word, it sure has a lot sitting on it. It carries enough hope to fill the ocean. And it softens even the hardest of truths. I remember this word from my pre-husband days. There was another question I used to hate just as much.

Why are you still single?

What a slap in the face. Don't you think if I knew that I would fix it! My answer never wavered, though.

I haven't met the right person yet.

. I still panic every time I use that word. Does there come a time when you have to drop it from the end of your sentence? A time when your answer becomes final? How do I know if my yet will ever happen? It worked out for me in the husband department but how do I know I will get that lucky in the baby department? Yet is filled with doubt. Uncertainty.

But within this uncertainty comes the hope. It's not certain that I will have children. But it's not certain that I won't either. Inside "yet" lies my faith, my energy, my dreams. "Yet" is that rope I'm hanging on to for dear life. Only three little letters but it makes all the difference between hopeless and hopeful. Only three little letters but its power is immeasurable.

I think I know what word I'm adding to my spelling test next week.

i've been tagged

Blogging is new to me but I guess I've been tagged which means I have to tell you 8 random things about myself. Here goes:

1. I once tried out for Survivor. I sent in the 3-minute video and everything. I never in a million years expected them to contact me. But they did! I had a phone interview first and then went to CBS for a real interview/try-out. I had to fill out about 60 pages of paperwork. During the interview (which was on camera) they asked me if I'd ever take my clothes off on TV. My answer was no because I am a teacher and I know my students and their families would be watching. I didn't make it on the show. I like to blame it on my decency.

2. I used to run away all the time when I was a kid. I never got much farther than the woods behind my house but it was a weekly fiasco. I've always been a drama queen.

3. I am a neat-freak. I can't relax unless everything is put away and cleaned up. When I walk into my house I can't even pee until I've put away my coat & bag and opened up the mail. Sometimes I even empty the dishwasher first!

4. I am the hugest Oprah fan. I feel like she is one of my closest friends even though she doesn't even know that I exist.

5. I am a total math nerd. In high school I was totally in the closet about it. I used to tell my friends I had detention and then sneak onto the bus to go to math meets. And I was good! Both my bachelor's and master's degrees are in mathematics and I am one of those people that actually love to talk about math. My very first fight with my husband was about math!

6. I met my husband on eharmony (which was my mother's idea of all things!) We both knew after our first date that this was "it." We were engaged 8 months later.

7. I am Jewish but I absolutely LOVE Christmas and I always have. When I was little all I wanted for Hanukkah was a Christmas tree! It's a good thing my husband celebrates Christmas.

8. I got married on a blue moon. I never knew what that was but I found out so I'll share this fact with you. It's when there is a 2nd full moon in the same month. Since I got married on the 30th of June, there had already been a full moon on the 2nd.

Now, it's my turn!

We're playing a game of tag. I'm IT but I get to tag 8 new people.
The rules: Make a post with 8 random things about yourself. You're then supposed to tag 8 more people. I don't actually know 8 people with blogs. So I'll just do the best I can. And the game continues.

You're IT!

Shanna Banana

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

my mother-in-law

You've all heard the stories of the crazy mother-in-law -- the one who competes for your husband's attention, inserts her opinion when none is asked for, criticizes your every move and makes your life generally miserable. This is not one of those stories. My husband's mother has done none of these things and I am not here to complain. Instead, what I'd really like to do is thank her.

The day after my d&c, my husband had to leave for business for four days. My mother-in-law called me every single day. She sent flowers to my house. She never hesitated to ask me how I was really doing and she wasn't afraid to tell me how she doing either. A few days ago we were talking about my miscarriage and I sent her the link to this blog. In her response, she included a poem she had written for our baby. She signed it Nana. In her poem she acknowledged our grief as well as her own. She was honest. She loved our baby. And she got that it was a baby and not just a pregnancy. I'd like to thank her for that.

Mostly though, I'd like to thank her for giving life to my husband. We celebrated his 30th birthday on Saturday and I realized it was as much a celebration for her as it was for him. In giving him life, she's given him all of its lessons as well. She's taught him to respect and appreciate. She's raised him to be open and honest and to not be afraid to display affection. She encourages him, even today, to keep working hard for what he wants. She's shown him how to find joy in life, how to love and how to be loved.

My mother-in-law is deeply in love with her husband. I know this just by watching them -- the way they look at each other and really listen to one another. They have "date day" every single week. They eat a special breakfast every Sunday. They dream together. They hold hands. They smile and laugh -- a lot.

This is the way my husband has learned to love me. And for that, I thank her too.

There is some cliche I can't remember right now. It's something to the effect of "men choose wives who end up just like their mothers." If this turns out to be true, it would be my greatest honor.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

what happened to rainbows and puppy dogs?

I should be 12 weeks tomorrow. I should be making my big announcement at work. People should be hugging me and congratulating me and excitedly throwing out baby names to me. But none of this is happening. I will go to work, and I will not be noticed. It will be an ordinary day.

When did I start expecting my life to be so rainbows-and-puppy-dogs anyway? Just over two years ago I was 29 and single, living in a one-bedroom basement apartment just outside of Boston with a crazy guy upstairs. I ate cereal for dinner five days a week and thought my life was pretty good.

Since when did my standards get so high?

I met my husband in September of 2005 and fell madly in love. It was the instant fairy tale kind too. There was never doubt. Everything about him was just right. He moved in three months later and proposed the following May on the top of a mountain. He is everything I ever asked for.

And he's hot too.

We bought our first house together and moved from a crowded one-bedroom condo to a spacious four-bedroom colonial in a beautiful little town that has many more trees than people. We had the wedding of our dreams. We said "I do" right on the beach. It was 72 and sunny. God even blessed us with a full moon that night. We spent two weeks in Switzerland eating chocolate and drinking wine. We got pregnant our first time ever trying.

My husband and I are both healthy. Between the two of us, we have six parents and five living grandparents. My entire family lives within 30 miles of us. We have great friends. We both make good livings and don't have to worry too much about money. I have a job I don't hate. Some days I actually enjoy it. I even like my boss.

So why do I have any right to complain? Don't I realize other people have it much worse? Have I been forgetting to count my blessings? Did I really think life would always be this easy? Did I see others suffering and just think I would be exempt forever? Did I forget I was human?

Well, I've been rudely awakened. Pinched right out of my dream. And here I am. Living the human life. Having downs that are just as steep as the ups. And plenty of sorrow right along with all the joy.

I guess nobody gets off scott free. Not even me.