Archive for March, 2009


Mushrooms, snow, and Mondays

March 30, 2009

They’re popping up like mushrooms, other people’s babies.  In addition to the onslaught of photos of our nephew, I see them as I walk through campus, in slings and strollers.  They visit the library, the research showcase.  Usually, I’m not bothered (not much, anyway) but every once in a while I feel it, that tug, that wanting that seems to start in my gut and spread through the marrow of my bones, into my fingertips, to the ends of my hair, until I am a creature entirely made up of want.  It doesn’t happen so often, but when it does it leaves me shaken.  I feel empty, brittle, and husk-like.  And connected with that wanting is always the sad knowledge of what I had – those few moments with Teddy in my arms, such a cruelly short time, but more than enough in which to fall utterly in love.

Someone I used to be friends with (and there are a few reasons why I don’t currently consider her a friend, but the main reason is that she is the sort of person who, when she was doing missionary work in Guatemala, adopted a cute little black kitten, named him Sambo, had him de-clawed and then abandoned him when she moved back to the States) emailed me with a birth announcement.  It was a boy, of course.  We don’t talk more than once a year, and I’ve decided this is one baby I don’t need to hear about, so I added her email address to my spam filter.  Chances are good she’ll never notice, and this is what spam filters are for, isn’t it?

Can you read between those last few lines and see it, the jealousy and the anger?  Why her and not me?  This type of question pops up in my head all the time in spite of my best efforts to squash it.  It scares me that I’m still angry, that I may always be angry.

It snowed over the weekend (about 4 inches).  Last year, I seemed to see good omens everywhere.  This year, I mainly see harbingers of doom, and I try not to think too much about spring snow, about what it might symbolize if I were writing my life as a novel.  It is melting, the snow, but not fast enough.  I need to see crocuses in the flower beds and new leaves on the lilac bushes.  This year needs a romantic comedy sort of ending, a romance novel ending, a chick-lit ending, a happy sort of fairy tale ending.  And all was restored to her – this is what I want, even though it’s impossible.

With the snow and the babies, this is a harsh Monday, the kind of day I wish I could hide through, sleep through: hibernation, now there’s an idea whose time has come.  But I trudge through work, I give my best fake smiles until they start to feel more real, I move through the day and hope it will be over soon.

N stopped by my office bearing chocolate this afternoon, just as I was thinking I really needed a bit of chocolate to get through the day.  I am lucky, even though I’m unlucky.  I am lucky, even on an unlucky Monday full of babies and snow and back-to-work ennui.


In the words of REM

March 27, 2009

I am…

My grief has been bubbling over again these last few days.  Knowing that we’re going to try again has brought so much I missed with Teddy to the surface, and the news of our new, wee nephew hit me like a Mac truck in spite of all my good intentions and attempts to prepare myself.  I am happy for my in-laws, intensely sad for myself and N, and struggle to communicate the happiness while keeping all that other stuff – the fear, jealousy, resentment, and disbelief – to myself.   I feel torn and fractured, tired of trying so hard to focus on the happy.

I am Superman

But today?  Today I cooed over a coworker’s new baby, admired his long fingers and joked about whether he’d grow into his long toes.  I did it without crying, though I can feel a few tears coming on again.  I’ve been sweet to the in-laws, supportive of worried colleagues, haven’t lost my temper when it’s been sorely tried, have planned a nice Friday evening dinner and a walk home, and have, in general, held it together.

and I can do anything

So today, instead of being Grief Girl, I am Superman.  Figuratively – I didn’t grow man bits or anything.  You know what I mean.

(and yes, I know, The Clique sang it first)

(and yes, I fully expect to be Grief Girl tomorrow, which is why I’m crowing about my small victories right now)


Safe arrival

March 25, 2009

We have a nephew.  His middle name, like Teddy’s, is Isaac.

It was very sweet of them to remember our Teddy in their son’s name.  It makes me feel a little less as though our little guy will be forgotten in the joy over this new arrival.  I hope he brings them all the laughter I envisioned Teddy bringing us when I chose that name.

Part of me, the wounded and jealous part, wishes, just a little bit, that they would have asked us about the name first.  I am trying to shut that part of me up; it’s not the important part.

Part of me thinks it’s terribly unfair that Teddy isn’t still here to bear that name.  That part has a righteous complaint, and I can’t shut it up.

But I am trying to be mostly glad for them, because it is a joyous thing, this birth.  And I’m trying to focus on how kind of them it was to remember us at this birth.  I’m trying to focus on that instead of focusing on reliving my own time in L&D.

I really am happy for them.

But I miss my own boy so very much, and I can’t stop crying.


Right now

March 25, 2009

My sister-in-law is in labor. We’ve been worrying about them all day (induced this a.m.)

It helps that N has been worried, too.  Noticeably worried.  Not frantic, but on the cusp.  It makes me feel less like a crazy woman.

I am scared for them, jealous (still, damn it), and trying like hell to be happy for them.

Ian McKellen’s King Lear was on television tonight –

Why should a horse, a dog, a rat have life, and thou no breath at all?

Why, indeed?  It’s scary that I now find comfort in what is commonly believed to be Shakespeare’s most disturbing ending.  I’m not alone, you see, because of Lear.  I wonder if Shakespeare, who had lost a son, felt similarly.

The phone is ringing…


More on letting go

March 23, 2009

It’s probably no secret to you now that I”m bad at letting things go. Phenomenally bad, in fact. My childhood experiences with water skiing all ended up with me sputtering water out of my nose because I wouldn’t let go of the rope when I fell. I was so convinced that I could pull myself up again, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Stubbornness runs in my family on both sides, and sometimes it’s a gift, the thing that helps you do what is hard in spite of naysayers and difficulties. Sometimes it’s a curse, the thing that overrides your common sense and need to care for yourself and those you love just to prove a point that doesn’t really need proving in the first place.

I think some of the grief, sorrow, and longing that have been surfacing the past few weeks are because the time when we could try again was approaching. I still want Teddy back, and I feel a little guilty for trying to assuage my grief with another child, or even the chance of another child.

Part of me still wonders if I should seek out healing of any sort, if I deserve it.

Luckily for me, healing has been finding me for the most part, and I’ve reached the point where most days I let it find me and don’t fight it.

This comes back to the same old struggle – I don’t want to let him go any more than I have to. Pursuing the possibility of another child is a way of letting go. I think it may be the kind of letting go I need to do, but that doesn’t make it easier to do.

Wouldn’t it be nice if, once you recognized that doing something would be good for you, doing it would become easier?



March 20, 2009

I stare at my packet of birth control pills – just a few days left.  I can renew the prescription and start another cycle, or (and this is a very big ‘or’) we can start trying.

There are several reasons not to.  I still need to lose more weight to be in a healthy range, and believe you me, I don’t enjoy huffing and puffing as I reach the top of the staircase at work, or the top of the hill on my way home (though I think I need to give myself lots of credit for climbing stairs and walking home in the first place).  My thyroid levels seem to have stabilized, but it wouldn’t hurt to wait for the next blood test to be sure.  We were told we could try again 8 months after Teddy’s birthday, and it may be better to wait the full eight months (and a couple extra weeks) instead of jumping at the chance now, a couple of weeks early.  Added to which, perhaps we should wait until N finishes his dissertation, until we know for certain that we have jobs next school year.

And then, there’s the amount of terror involved.  What if we lose another one?  Such a small sentence, such a giant fear.  After finding out, at 29 weeks, that something was very wrong with my baby, there is no point in any future pregnancy, no magic trimester or week, when I can feel sure that all is well.  And so many of my fears assume that I can get pregnant again, but what if I can’t?  What if Teddy was our one magical, lucky miracle of a chance and we don’t find that out until we open ourselves to new possibilities of hurt?

And yet…

I want to start now.  Hell, I wanted to start trying again months ago.  I want to mother a living child, to give the most amazing gift I can to the world (even though I suspect the world is treacherous and fickle).  I really do want to know what seven months looks like, to know more of what I’m missing.  I want the milk in my breasts to mean something good instead of something heartbreaking.  I want to be trying when our nephew is born so that his arrival won’t hurt quite so much.  I want to be pregnant with N’s sister, who is already at the end of her first trimester. I desperately want to hold a child in my arms who doesn’t need a ventilator to breathe.

There’s a lot of wanting, in this post and in my last, and I know that it’s all connected.  I don’t expect another child to heal me, but I think having one might help me heal.  I’m still trying to untangle that one.

Are these reasons enough?  It’s a scary, disheartening world – melting polar ice caps, starving people who aren’t starving for lack of food so much as for lack of will and effort to get food to them, war and crime and greed and violence and hate.  I think the answers to so many of these problems lie in children who are loved and brave and kind, who are taught that they can shape the future into something better, but it’s still a daunting, serious thing to bring a child into the world – not just for me, but for whoever that brave child might be.

I think about these things, perhaps too much.  I know that any child of mine, of N’s, will be loved and cherished.  We are both ready to love and cherish him/her.  But it’s a giant leap of faith to take, a giant affirmation that I’m willing to trust myself and the universe again, at least a little bit.  And my faith is tattered.

I stand on the edge, for now, taking in the view.  But I’m tired of waiting and nursing my grief.  I want to step off the precipice and see if I fall to the rocks or fly.


Just a note

March 18, 2009

Darling little boy,

This is one of those days where I miss you very much.  I want you here with me, where you should be.  I want to spend a slow spring break day watching you discover more of the world.  I want to know if you really have your daddy’s chin or if I was imagining things.

I want to know what color your eyes are, what your laugh sounds like, whether you are right- or left-handed.  I want to see and hold and smell you, to be able to gather you up and hug you.  I want to watch you sleeping, to know what your favorite toy is.  Days like today, I want and want and want.

I still can’t believe I get none of those things.

You would have been seven months old this past Monday.  Seven.  I have no idea what that would look like, but I’m sure you would have worn it well.

Time stretches out so long before me, Teddy, and it’s so much time without you, so much time to bear not having you here.  I bear it better than I used to, but I’m so tired, baby boy.

I wish I could get you back, that we never had to let you go.

I wish I knew what seven months looked like.