Archive for June, 2009

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tomorrow morning

June 30, 2009

I have a doctor’s appointment and an early ultrasound tomorrow morning.

And yes, this means I’m pregnant.  I know, I’m lucky, but it’s so very early, and so very much could go wrong, and I haven’t been allowing myself to really believe it yet.  And last week there was some very light spotting, which could mean nothing, or something very bad.

Because of Teddy’s loss, my GP, who is awesome, is monitoring me closely.  I’m grateful for this, especially as I know it’s more for my peace of mind than anything actually, well, medical.  At the same time, I’m dreading tomorrow and I want it over with because tomorrow I’ll be faced with a visual – either of a reassuring embryonic heartbeat or of disaster – and no matter what that visual is,  I won’t be able to fend off reality any longer.  I’ll either be attached or regretting not being more attached when I could have been.

And let me just say for the record how much I hate ultrasound rooms, and how I resent hating them.  Right now I’m so jealous of all those happy new mamas who are excited to see their babies for the first time, who don’t associate the gel and the monitor with heartbreak, that I could spit.

We found out about Teddy’s hernia on June 20, last year, and I associate these bright summer days with bad news and impending doom.  I jump at shadows and shy at reassurances and happiness.  We made the questionable decision to share the news with a select few family members and one of them said “Congratulations,” and “We’re so happy for you,” and I felt like I’d been cursed.  It’s too early for congratulations, and I’ll be too scared to accept them for a while.

What I want from tomorrow is a good, strong embryonic heartbeat, and an “everything looks good,” but I won’t be surprised if there’s no heartbeat, or if the measurements are frighteningly off, or if it’s ectopic, or molar, or a tumorous growth.  I half expect the ultrasound tech to find a tiny neon sign floating in my uterus that says, What were you thinking? Are you insane?

Not being surprised, unfortunately, won’t mean that I’m not knocked on my ass by disappointment and pain.

This time, I’m not asking for anything, not pleading, not expecting.  I’ve tried to ask, and the words just don’t come out.  That is not the way I pray, now.  So I’m trying to be open to whatever comes, and to give myself the freedom to scream, wail, laugh hysterically, and/or kick things, whatever comes.

Edited to add: I do realize I come off as the most appallingly ungrateful wet blanket in this post.  This is (or could be) very good news, even if it’s tentative good news, and I’m hoping as hard as I can that I will feel more grateful and hopeful tomorrow.

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Hey

June 30, 2009

first sweet pea

Hey, Universe.

Things are hard right now, and in some ways crazy hard.

You know that.

Still, I want to thank you for my first sweet pea of summer. Today it looks like the thing standing between me and despair is tiny, delicate, and pink. And I can live with that.

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Things I cannot say

June 23, 2009

I had a lovely talk with N’s sister yesterday evening. She is six months pregnant and is finding her second pregnancy very different from her first. There are physical differences, but she is also a tremendously empathetic and giving person who was with us during the days Teddy was born and died. She’s seen what can happen, and it has marked her. She told me that she is trying hard to shake the feeling that she and her baby are next.

I have to admit that part of me finds it strangely comforting that she feels this way, that she gets it so clearly. I hate it that she’s worried about this, but (my brain screams at me) there’s so much to worry about.

And yet, I wish – desperately – that she didn’t have to carry these worries and fears. It makes me deeply sad that these days have been shadowed for her. While I appreciate the understanding so very much, I also feel strongly that no woman should ever have to fear losing her baby, that the world is all out of joint when these fears make sense. I wish my SIL could be relaxed and trusting and happy, the way she was before and the way I was in the first months of my pregnancy with Teddy. Fear is not the legacy you dream of your beloved child leaving behind. And fear of what absolutely cannot be controlled is such a hard burden to bear.

I want to say, Of course not. You’re not going to be next. You’ll be fine. You’ll both be fine and healthy and wonderful. I can feel these words rising up from my belly, ready to bubble out. But they catch in my throat, every time. They won’t come out. I can’t say them. I can’t say these things because I don’t know if they are true, much as I want them to be. I believed I was fine, once upon a time, and look what happened; now I cannot say these words. Instead I make sympathetic noises and stumble over words of reassurance and wish I could tell the universe how to behave. Not all the time, you understand, just when it’s life-and-death important.

I can wish her and the new little one to be healthy and well with all my heart. I can send soundless pleas out into the universe and rouse my hopes and try to send vibes of the most positive sort in the right directions, but there are so many things lurking out there that can go wrong.

We are all so vulnerable.

If I say, You’ll be fine, it could be a lie – or worse, a temptation of fate, a big, throbbingly brilliant, red target sign painted just where it could do most harm. So I don’t say it. And part of what I miss about the person I used to be is the ability to say things like It’ll all be fine, and believe it.

Believing is out for me, at least for now, and I think I can learn to accept that. But I’m hoping like mad over here, and hoping that this, somehow, helps.

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Fortunately, we’re likeable

June 19, 2009

I just found out last night that our current landlord, the one who has been charging us full rent for living in a leaky duplex, told our future landlord that she has reservations about N’s character and that she can’t recommend us as tenants.  Her concerns about character arose from the fact that N (very reasonably, I think) complained about roof work starting up on Saturday and Sunday mornings with no advanced notice.

I am very angry at her.  We’ve been good tenants for three years, have been quiet, and have paid rent reliably (though she could be right when she says our payments were late four times this year.  I’ve been pretty flaky about a lot of things since August 2008 and I only have so much control over the Postal Service).  We scrounged up the money to pay rent three months in advance last summer when we knew we’d be distracted by hope and fear and traveling to an out-of-state hospital.  And, in spite of all the mopping up we’ve had to do with the leak in the kitchen in the midst of our year of tragedy, we’ve been pretty good-natured in general.

Future landlord is a good sort, though, and called us to get our side of the story.  Which, thankfully, he seems to have believed.  Also, he told N that he picked up on a much better feeling from us than from her.  He likes us, in spite of our current landlord’s best efforts.  Which means we still have a place to move in August.

Unfortunately, our side of the story also involves something like this, “Well, you see, our son died in August so we were not in fact at our best this year, although we still don’t think we were bad tenants or that we said or did anything unreasonable.  Yes, our current landlord knew this.”  I hate dragging Teddy into this mess; it feels cheap and somehow slimy.  I want to tell people about him, yes, but certainly not because of circumstances like this.  His loss is part of our side of things, and I tell myself we’re not using him, but we really are.

I wish I could move out now, that I could pack up my family and memories and run to safety.

And I still wonder if I missed it, the time and place where I could have cleared up misunderstandings between us and our current landlord, helped her to see our side of things, helped us to see hers (I know there’s more going on on her side than we know).  I feel like – somehow – I should have prevented all of this from turning so ugly.

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Protector

June 17, 2009

When I drove from Montana to Chicago for graduate school, all alone, with my earthy possessions crammed into my car, my mom started calling me her “steel petunia.”  Which is kind of overkill, as petunias are some of the toughest flowers I know.

(Pansies are tough, too, though, and if someone calls you a Pansy, the implication isn’t one of toughness, so what do I know?)

I took my sheltered, small-town self to the big city, and spent years honing my survival skills.  Chicago broadened my shoulders, toughened my skin, made me less gullible and more alert.  I learned how to walk from the nearest El stop to my apartment at 2:00 am without getting into trouble, how to be safe instead of nice, how to push for what I wanted.  I survived grad school, the Red Line, and living on my own for the first time.  I changed, from someone who’d been largely taken care of to some one who could (and did) take care of herself.

I’m still proud of that.

So, this morning, when N explained that he didn’t want me staying home alone while the contractor and our landlord’s boyfriend are there working on the water damage, that he didn’t trust them alone with me, I was skeptical.  He’s much more disturbed by the sound and fury of home repairs than I am and I’d hoped he could go to his office on campus and work, away from things that would infuriate him, while I stayed home and made sure that our cats and possessions remained safe.  While I do tend to believe the best of people as long as I can, I’m not a delicate flower who needs to be protected.

N has been angrier since Teddy died (well, I have been, too, though maybe less obviously), and I can’t help but wonder if sending me in to work while he stays home is just a way to let the anger boil over, to stew and fume until things reach some sort of fever pitch.

But on my walk into work, I thought of all he couldn’t protect me from last summer, me and Teddy.  He did just about everything you could do to protect your wife and unborn child – reminded me to take my nightly prenatal vitamin, brought me water, took care of the cat litter, did all the heavy lifting, came to my OB appointments, gave me rides to and from work.  When we heard that Teddy was in danger, he was my prop and my comfort; when I was on bed rest, he fetched and carried and tried to console me, and took the brunt of working with our insurance so that we could find a hospital with ECMO.  He drove us across the state, took out the communal garbage at the Ronald McDonald House, stayed by my side when I was hooked up to IVs, made me laugh, befriended all of our nurses, comforted Mom, and held my hand.  He did everything he could, and he did it with strength and grace and skill, but Teddy still died and our hearts still broke.

I often think that, of the two of us, his job was the hardest.  He had to watch. He had to be the one who was most helpless to save us even though he loved us more than anything.  And in addition, he had that pressure to fix things and to protect that is laid, heavier than lead blankets, on men, in spite of all our societal advances and Real Men (Do or Don’t) Eat Quiche.  I couldn’t have done it; I would have cracked into a thousand pieces and run screaming through the streets, or melted into a gibbering puddle of despair.  A little anger, that’s understandable.  That’s positively sane.

I don’t think he can protect me.  I don’t think anyone can, not from the things that really hurt.  But I can see why he needs to try.  And, Heaven (or Whatever) help me, I’ll let him, if it makes him feel the tiniest bit better.  I’ll let him.

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Ten Months

June 15, 2009

I still want Teddy back.  Can I have him back, please?

Life is so full right now, so very full.  Things keep happening, and some of them are good, and all of them keep me busy, but I can’t seem to be busy enough to stop missing my boy.

We are moving in August, into the house we so dearly wanted, a crew of contractors will be in our current place this week, fixing interior water damage and driving N and the cats to distraction, Mom was here for a visit, after much scrubbing and vacuuming the house is almost clean, we’ve been having friends over for dinner, and I have new sandals coming in the mail.

While she was here over the weekend, my mom said something like “Once you have a child, you’ll be so busy you won’t know what to do.”  I know she meant it kindly and hopefully, and furthermore, that it’s almost certainly true, but it made me balk and squirm and stumble over my reply.  I had wanted that kind of busy.  That’s what I’d signed up for, in fact.  And if we have another baby, if we are so lucky, part of me will always be thinking, There should be two. And if we end up with two more, I’ll think, There should be three.

For the rest of my life, I  should always be busier than I am.  For the rest of my life, I’ll never be quite as busy as I want to be, even when I’m overwhelmed, overloaded, and dropping balls all over the place.

I’m coming to terms (if not yet to peace) with all of this.  But today I can’t help wondering what it would be like to be mothering a rambunctious 10-month-old.  I can’t stop thinking how nice it would be.  Possibly hair-raising, harried, hectic, and so busy I wouldn’t know what to do with myself, but nice.

Love you, little one.  Wish you were here.

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Collage

June 11, 2009

This is what I want to be doing right now:

calliope reading

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I foresee a lot of whining about not drinking caffeine in my future.  I’ve been a complete wimp about giving it up, too.  I slowly weaned myself down to half a cup of coffee in the mornings, and as of today I’m living (if you can call it that) caffeine free.  Without my caffeine, I feel like a wind-up doll who hasn’t been properly wound up.  I know this will pass, but I want my energy back soon, please.

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I have a friend I only know online, through a fairy tale discussion board and through blogging elsewhere.  This week she announced her pregnancy on her blog and offered (and I think this was largely for my benefit though I can’t be sure) to filter out pregnancy/baby posts for any of her readers who didn’t want to see them.  And I surprised myself, because I did want to read them.  I could feel my heart drop down to my toes when I read her post, but I’m happy for her.  Happy and terrified and trying to focus on the happy.

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My brother and his wife are looking to buy a house.  When I told N about this he said, “It sounds like they’re thinking baby.”

“Maybe,” I said.  And then I blurted it out: “I want us to be first.”

“Yeah.”

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Mom is coming in two days.  I only have a little more cleaning to do because N, who has watched me do my frantic last-minute whirl of cleaning and who has seen that it inevitably ends up with me crying and stressed out, offered to cook dinner all week so that I could, well, not stress out.  So far his plan has worked.  I may take some of the baby things out of my office and put them in storage.  Partly because I don’t want Mom to have to see them, and partly because I feel like now I can do this.

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My coworkers and I went out to lunch together today.  One of our colleagues who’s been retired for a couple of years joined us and I was really glad to see her.  We were sitting at a table in the restaurant, being chatty and noisy, and she leaned across the table and said, “So I heard you were having a baby.”  And I was able to respond without crying, and the conversation picked up again and went on around me.  I was fine, except that I wanted to say more, to tell her all about Teddy and take her back to my office to look at photographs, and it was just not the right time and place for any of that.  It was just a strange, sad, little blip.  Is this scar tissue?  Is this healing?  Is this just resignation?  I don’t know.  I also don’t know if I like it, but at least I’m not a howling mess.  Well, not today.

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I do miss you, Teddy, even when I’m not crying.

Why do I have to tell myself that not crying is okay, too?

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We are still looking for a new place to live and still hoping, though more feebly now, that we’ll hear back from the person we talked to a couple weeks ago about the cute little house with the brand new roof.  But it’s looking unlikely.

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I’m going to buy new sandals for summer.  I’m determined to find a pair that are both cute and comfortable, and I’m going to ask for a pedicure as an early birthday present from my mother so that I can show off both shoes and toes.  Is it pathetic that this plan makes me feel sexier than I have in months?

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I am going to see Up this evening.  Don’t worry, I’ve been warned about the beginning and am bringing tissues.