Archive for July, 2009


Cracks and seams

July 27, 2009

We are packing, our living space ever-more-encroached upon by boxes, and our anxiety levels are steadily rising.  You know that point in cleaning where everything looks messier and dirtier than when you started?  That’s about where we are with the packing.

The pressure of the anxiety and the chaos has been a strain, on me, on N, and on our relationship.  It’s a temporary strain, but it’s startling to see so clearly all the places where we still need to do better, the things we need to talk about more, the way that insecurities (on both sides) that I thought were vanquished still come into play. The cracks and seams of the places where we’ve so carefully merged our lives together are suddenly visible.

And maybe it’s good to have a clear picture of the places where we could most easily be torn apart, but mostly it’s frightening.

There were times yesterday when the sound of books being packed into boxes in N’s office sounded like anger.  I think there are times when the sounds I was making downstairs, of candlesticks and breakables being wrapped and packed, sounded the same.  He’s angry at me, though he won’t give voice to it, perhaps for the same reason I won’t tell him I’m angry at him, too – because we’re really angry (or, in my case, know I should be) at other things entirely.

We’ll get through this; it’s something I know in my gut, that one little moving venture won’t be the end, or even a part of the beginning of the end, of our partnership.  The seams may be showing, but most of the joins are good ones.  This doesn’t mean that I’m not crying out in longing for tequila, however.

And, it’s worse than it should be because of our loss, and I stare at those words as I write, wondering when that will stop being true.  When will I be able to take on life’s strains and challenges without everything being made heavier and harder by Teddy’s death?  I know that, running underneath the rapids of our moving and our need to get things packed and cleaned and organized, is the undercurrent of knowledge – conscious and otherwise – that the one-year mark is approaching, that these same days last year were leading up to the loss of something unbelievably precious, that we still aren’t ready to be the people who bear this loss and weave it into our every-day lives.

“This, too, shall pass,” is something I say to myself fairly often when in situations like this.  Some of it – the packing, the longing for someone else to make moving and travel arrangements for me, the transition of shifting from home to home, hell, even the fatigue – really will pass.  But some of it won’t.  Teddy is not coming back to us, and once the packing and unpacking are finished, once our full year of mourning passes, we still have to find ways to live with that.

And we will, but in the meantime, I’d like to borrow someone to battle the stressors and practicalities so that I could have my brain back, so I could be a better wife and partner, and attempt to cope with the ebb and flow of this grief.  Someone like Jeeves, who could organize my life impeccably, and pack all of our belongings with organization and aplomb while seeing to it that N and I were always properly dressed.

The man could mix a mean cocktail (and hangover remedy), too.



July 23, 2009

It’s coming on August.  I’m more aware of this than usual because of the looming first anniversary of something I desperately wish hadn’t happened, but also because we’re moving at the end of July.

We’ve thought about packing, but haven’t done any actual, you know, packing. However, today a friend dropped off some boxes, and tomorrow I will get a couple of big rolls of packing tape and a sharpie marker, and pack up most of the kitchen.  N has been stressing out about the packing “we” need to do, but I have the sense that most of it will be my job.  Which is fine, so long as I get my butt in gear and do it.

Unfortunately, we can’t move into the new place until mid-August, so the cats will have to go…somewhere, probably to Montana for a stay with my parents.  And we will be availing ourselves of some storage, and then of another moving truck later on.

I need to figure out how to have the place cleaned, right after we’re out, by someone who doesn’t worry about inhaling serious cleaning fluid fumes, to see if we can have the moving truck for a longer period of time than the usual for a local move, and to start wrapping up knick-knacks and weeding books.

I also need to send something wonderful to my dear friend who was in a horrible cycling accident last week and who is finally home after days in the ICU.  I need to get things done, fast.  I need to go, go, go.  And since my main pregnancy symptom so far is fatigue?  I need to harness the energizing power of panic to carry me through the next week.

I’m somewhat grateful for this flurry of activity, this rush and upheaval that is keeping my brain distracted from the approach of August 15 (birthday) and 16 (the day we let him go).  At the same time, I’m afraid that if I don’t take time to prepare (and how does one do that, exactly?), I won’t be able to face these days as I should.  I worry that all this activity will take away from what I want to give Teddy: the memory, the contemplation, the deep sadness, the reflection, the love.

So, wherever we are on the 15th and 16th (and hopefully we’ll be in our new place, if only just) I will light candles; I will take time to sit with N and remember and wish things were otherwise.


thirty five

July 22, 2009

The strangest thing about my birthday this year is not the number, though it’s that scary “advanced maternal age” number.  The strangest thing is how grateful I am not to be reliving my last birthday.

This time last year I’d just been put on bedrest because my blood pressure was going up and because the local hospital was  terrified that Teddy would be born early, be born there, where they couldn’t do much for him besides load him onto a helicopter.  We’d also just received word from our insurance company that they wouldn’t cover our care at the hospital with the excellent NICU in Portland, where our more local doctors had sent us.  They’d cover us at another hospital with a big NICU, but considering that all of my doctors at this point seemed to think I’d go into premature labor any second, the prospect of traveling hundreds more miles to meet a new team of doctors at a new hospital was not just daunting, it was truly scary.

We’d set up the futon downstairs so that I could be where it was cooler, and I was under instructions to lie down as much as possible and also to try to relax.  I’d pulled out all my comfort books, trying to lose myself in imaginary worlds, but couldn’t quite succeed.  I drank gallons of water (the only thing I could do that anyone thought might actually help fend off early labor), distracted myself with reality tv, and cried a steady and despairing trickle of tears that left me blurry-eyed.

I felt hopeless, helpless, abandoned by everything good in the world.  I was convinced that my baby was doomed.

And it’s strange, because here I sit without my baby boy, and back then I held him inside me.  I would think that then would be better, somehow.  But that was as deep in despair as I’d ever been, and when I look back on my past self I can’t help thinking that she still has so much heartache to go through.  Hope would spring up again, our appeal to the insurance would go through and Portland would welcome us with all the kindness a city can give, family would gather to offer encouragement and comfort, but the grief following those last bright days would be overwhelming, immediate, and fiercely raw.

I still grieve, but I don’t have to do that, any of it, again.  Even if something calamitous happens now, I’m different, it would be different.

So I say goodbye to the year begun by my despairing and hollow-eyed past self, to the year I became a mother, to the year I first tasted bitter, raging grief.  I’d do it all again for a few more minutes with Teddy, but as that’s impossible, I’m just going to be grateful that this year of my life is new and different, shadowed by grief but not (I think and hope) solely defined by it.

Welcome, thirty five.


Eleven months

July 15, 2009

More roses for my boy

There’s a folktale out there about how time was invented to make grief bearable.  Sometimes I think that the reason time slides and shifts under us so strangely is because making grief bearable is such a terribly difficult and tricky task.  Time does its best, and I’m grateful, but it’s not the cure-all some people think it is, and today I just sit here and wonder, How can it be only eleven months since he was born? And also, Only eleven months? It feels like half of forever.

How can it be so nearly a whole year since I first saw your darling face?

Time flies and drags and slides, but no matter how much of it passes, we still love you, little guy.


Called out

July 14, 2009

My mother called me out last night.  With motherly precision and insight, she gently and kindly, um, nailed me.

I had called to let her know I’d arrived home safely from my conference and that the conference had gone well.  We had started talking about other things – my newfound fear of flying, how good it was to be home, upcoming moving arrangements, and she told me, hesitantly, that she had a B.aby Ein.stein lullaby CD that she wanted to send to me so that I could play it for the new baby.  I hemmed and hawed a little, but finally said, Okay, please send it and I’ll try to listen to it. And she said, I know how you bonded with Teddy right away, and I think this baby deserves that, too.  Maybe the CD will help.

At this point, talking became very difficult.  This is the kind of statement that, normally, I’d resent terribly, but I’d been thinking along similar lines myself, and here Mom just put it into words in a way that I couldn’t ignore, knocking the breath right out of me.  She’s right.  I hate it, but she’s right.

I’m so damned afraid.  It eases sometimes, but so much of the time I feel as though, if I acknowledge that I might be lucky, all luck will run away from me.  I’m afraid of miscarriage, of another congenital defect, afraid that my body will fail this small spark of life before it gets a chance to be a person.  I am, in fact, so afraid, that I have a very hard time thinking of my little embryonic blob as a baby, of attaching myself to this child by giving into hopes and dreams as I did with my firstborn.  When I was pregnant with Teddy, I spoke to my belly all the time, long before he could hear me.  The only thing I seem to be able to say to my belly now is Are you okay? Please be okay.

It’s confusing and scary, and seems to be yet another avenue by which guilt can find me.  Does this baby deserve love?  Absolutely.  S/he deserves love, and dreams, and hopes every bit as much as his/her brother did.  One of the things that I’m so grateful for, is that we loved Teddy as hard as we could for the brief time that he was with us, in my belly and out.  I’m convinced that he felt that, which has helped me overcome more than a few sleepless nights.

Now, I stumble where I used to fly.  I love this new bit of life, with it’s beautiful heartbeat and terrifyingly beautiful potential, but with a tentative and fearful love.  What kind of beginning is it for such a precious and wanted life, to be stinted of open-hearted joy and unconditional love because of my fears?  I hate to think that I’m neglecting my second child, already, or that I’m so damaged I won’t be able to love and care for this one properly.

Teddy wasn’t here long enough to be loved the way I wanted to love him.  I don’t get to watch his personality form, to know what his voice would have sounded like, to wonder what path in life he will choose.  If this new child makes it, grows up, s/he will get all of those things that Teddy never will.  And I want, fiercely, for this little one to have all of that, but it’s hard not to be sad and even a little jealous on Teddy’s behalf because of this.  Even though I know better.

I think the balance will come.  I don’t know if it will come with a Ein.stein CD, but lullabies seem as good a place as any to start.


Court, packing, and sundries

July 10, 2009

Sitting in court yesterday, listening to a very long case about one coworker stalking another, N and I couldn’t help notice that our landlord wasn’t there.  When our turn came (three hours later), our case was dismissed because of her absence.  So that’s one good thing.  I’m relieved and also frustrated.  We worried about this for so long, prepared folders of materials, and then attended a longer-than-usual court session, and she didn’t even have to show up because she already has what she wanted, for her tenants not to contact her about her property.

New Landlord cashed our check.  We’re in.  Which is a huge old relief.  It will be good to get out of this place, but much better if we know we’re moving somewhere we like.

I’m packed, showered, and almost ready to fly off to my Chicago conference.  I’m going to miss N so much it seems silly, and I really wish he were coming with me.  After Teddy died, it’s hard for me to leave home, and in this case, well, Chicago is his city, and it will seem strange to be there without him.


Perfect Storm

July 6, 2009

This is a high blood pressure week, a perfect storm of anxiety.

In about an hour, we’re meeting out GP to go over Teddy’s medical records, to get some reassurance that he had the best possible care and that we didn’t let anything slip.  I think N would be relieved to be able to blame someone, but hopefully if there’s no one to blame (as I strongly suspect) he’ll be able to let go.  It’s so damned hard to accept that there wasn’t anything we could have done to save him, that we didn’t (and don’t) have control over what happened, what happens.

I am leaving for another library conference on Friday, and due to, um, various factors (not the least of which is my uncanny ability to procrastinate) I have yet to get plane tickets or make hotel reservations.  Fun stuff!  (This is the exclamation mark of irony.)

Since finding out we aren’t renewing our lease, my landlord has turned vindictive, and kind of crazy.  So we have a court date on Thursday, where we explain to the nice judge that we really don’t think that calling your landlord to complain about a leaky roof and about roof construction that starts at 8:00 a.m. on Sunday without advanced notice is harassment. And we get to do this after she says nasty things about us.

Our future landlord still hasn’t cashed the check he said he’d cash to hold the new place.  Chances are he just hasn’t gotten around to it yet, but (if I don’t chicken out) I’ll be calling him this afternoon to make sure we still have a place to move come August.  Having to do last-minute apartment hunting is one of my least favorite nightmares.

I have a report to finish writing by the end of today, and some committee work that needs to be finished by Wednesday at the latest, and I’m now in charge of department meetings, which means I have to read the minutes thoroughly instead of skimming them.

I keep wondering where the cute summer clothes are that I was wearing last summer and then I realize, those were cute summer maternity clothes, and I sent them to Goodwill.  I may actually be the frumpiest librarian at this conference, and if you’ve ever seen librarians gathered en masse, you’ll realize that this is saying something.  At least I finally had my hair cut.

And I’m kind of freaked out by flying in the first trimester.  Doctor says no problem, and I agree with her, but still…

The comforting thing, of course, is that by the end of this week, stress should be much reduced, but in the meantime, I feel like I’m standing in an absolute vortex of the stuff.  It’ll ease after I make some reservations and dig into my deadlined projects, but it’s a lot to deal with in one week.  So, is anyone working on that magical alcoholic beverage that has no negative affects for pregnant or trying moms?  Because I’d really love to sip something cool and spiked, something that would help loosen these knots in my neck.