Monday, July 30, 2007

Six months

Today is six months since A died. Tomorrow-- since he was born. The fact that there are two dates, and that they come in this weird, crazy, unnatural order still does something to me. Something strange, like trying to breath, but realizing there isn't enough oxygen in the room, but only for you-- everyone else seems fine, and turning around to take the scene in, and starting to go dizzy and to fall due to that lack of oxygen thing, and getting a very strange, swirling picture of that room, of everyone's faces as you go out.

I am reorganizing Monkey's toys today. I really started last night, but it's not a small job, so I am still at it. Monkey is out of town-- at a rental house near the water with JD's parents. Next week it's my parents' turn. I have a lot to get done, but somehow the one that I decided to tackle first is the toy project.

I had friends over for lunch. Friends that work nearby. There's four of them, and it's one of the best things about not working now-- I get to invite them to my house for lunch. If they remembered the date, they didn't say anything, but neither did I. It was good to see them, even if I felt a little removed. Only a little, though-- remarkably, there were moments when I was right there in the moment with them, telling stories, listening, laughing.

Today is also three years since friends of ours' twins were born by emergency c-section, one alive and one not. I need to call her.

I miss my son. I am getting better at looking at other people's babies. I was even able to look at Rachel's baby yesterday, although I chose not to speak to them. So I can look, and I may even be able to smile at the baby.

But oh, how I miss my son. How I long to hold him, feel his warmth, make him laugh. Feel him do anything, actually. Maybe the most heartbreaking thing to me after he was born was feeling no muscle tone, nothing. To see how big and strong he was, to still remember so vividly the big dance party he had in my belly the night before he died, and to feel no response from his limbs, from him to my touch. I knew he was gone. I still know it. And I still miss him. This physicality of grief is not as frequent a guest with me now as it was in the early days, but it's still here. And today it is here in a vivid, visceral way.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


It started. Today was another summer event for Monkey's new school, this one for just the new families, and the families of outgoing and incoming kindergarteners. I was imagining a smalish gathering. But by the time everyone got there, the place was positively teaming with kids. Big kids, little kids, babies. And a pregnant mom. But even before the crunch time, the head of the parents association wondered up to us to talk to us and to Monkey. And there it was, the first of many, I am sure.

"So is she your one child, or do you have any more?" The question didn't leave me much room to maneuver (at the last school event someone asked us whether Monkey was our oldest, and JD simply said "yes"), so I took what felt like a very deep breath, looked straight at her, and answered "We have one living child."


That's all she had--"Oh." But for some reason I found that my hands were shaking for good ten minutes afterwards.

Spies like us

So my sister is getting married next summer. I thought that would be an excellent thing to use to try to put my mother off the scent of us trying. I told her that the doc said 6 months, which he did, and then I had my sister tell her that I was "mad" at her because it didn't make any sense to try in a way that would give us a baby before the wedding, so we will have to wait to miss it. Was very proud of self because my mom? She is a worrier. I know that my next pregnancy will be very hard for her, and it is likely to therefore be even harder on me. So this? This was a perfect plan-- in case I did get pregnant such that the due date would be before the wedding, I would save my mother a few weeks of worrying.

Enter my friend Natalie. She is good friend, and a mother of one of Monkey's best friends. And she talks to my mother once in a while. See if you can follow this now: my sister called to tell me that my mother told her that someone told her that we tried and it didn't work last month. Of course there was no question on who "someone" is. I called Natalie and bit her head off. She said she didn't think this was secret information. It wasn't secret from her because I found out while on the summer week with friends and promptly had a boatload of cocktails that evening. And a day from hell the next day, as the first day of my period always is.

It's not that I mind my mother knowing when I do get pregnant. I just (1) didn't want my pregnancy, whenever it will actually start, to start for her now, and (2) I was enjoying thinking that I had a little bit of privacy left. My friends knew of what the doctor actually told us, and so I knew that they would be watching me very carefully. I just wanted to not have my mother involved in this as well.

So I bit Natalie's head off. And then I called my mother to tell her that she should've called me, and not my sister. Whereupon I was informed that she didn't buy the sister act, and she knew we were going to try in August anyway, and that July try is already past. Damn. Of course, this is the woman who called me the day I got my positive test results with A to ask me whether she needed to book vacation time for sometime in March. She saw me the week before and thought I looked pregnant. I did throw up that day, but this is still impressive, no?

So it appears that my attempts at lessening her anxiety were never going to work. I still think Natalie deserves the head-biting-off, but I think I will call her now and tell her that I am not as mad as I was before.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Finer points

I am, most days, able to be happy for people having babies. I mean, the alternative is for them to join us here, and I certainly don't want that. But this morning I learned just how precarious my inner balance is. Yesterday I heard that an acquaintance (friend of a friend, really, but I see her from time to time too) went into labor. She was overdue and was hoping for a VBAC. When we didn't hear anything by 11pm, we were worried. This morning, my friend Aite told me that the baby is here, VBAC was successful, all is well. I was relieved.

But it turns out that hearing that someone had a baby is not the same as reading about it. I saw the birth announcement online. I didn't even register at first what about it was sending me into a rapid tailspin. I had to re-read the whole thing to find it. And there it was-- the very first line, "We are parents of two kids now!"

So is it because I want to say "so are we," or is it because I will never get to write that particular line? Or is it because I feel like telling her that they have been parents of two kids for a while, and now they are lucky enough to be parents of two living kids? She is not even the clueless kind-- in the few interactions I had with her since A's death, she has been very nice and didn't say anything stupid.

Or is it that I am reading too much into it? That I am hearing a very quiet whisper there, "you only get to be a parent after they are born, you are not a parent of two," is that it? I know this last interpretation to be patently ridiculous, and not only because I believe that we each get to define our own truths about our understandings of when it is that we become parents, but also because, quite clearly we make parenting decisions while they are still in utero. Not to mention it was a birth announcement, not a letter to me.

But more than any of this, how is it that I can be so thoroughly undone by a line that I don't even register, in an announcement of the birth I already knew about, and was relieved to know occurred? Turns out, six months is no time at all.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Accomplishment of the day

I taught Monkey to ride a two-wheeler today. JD, and then both of us together, tried to teach her yesterday, but failed pretty miserably-- she has been using the balancing wheels in the "up" position for too long, and has come to rely on being able to tip the bike any which way without consequences.

See, this kid, who does cartwheels and pull-overs, with no help or even spotting, she was afraid to fall off the bike. This is the most challenging trait she has, I think-- for all of her many talents, she is risk-averse. So I challenge her, early and often. The thing that is as sure to get me upset as finding a dragon egg in his Christmas stocking is sure to make Hagrid happy is when Monkey refuses to think. And she knows it. I don't care if the answer she comes up with is wrong, just that she tried to reason it out, rather than guess it. Of course, once I persuade her to commence with the thinking, she is into it, and always eventually gets it. This is largely because I never ask things I don't think she can handle, and is also why I can tell her that I am sure she can get it if she tries. The main thing is to try. Same with physical challenges-- she has to try.

So today was not at all unusual. I had a friend over, and the two of us talked with Monkey about how boring it would be if we only did things we already knew how to do. My friend pointed out that Monkey wouldn't even know how to go to the bathroom if she wasn't into learning new things when she was little. That there was a real eye-opener.

Half hour or so of talking complete with the afternoon snack, and out we went. You have to try. You have to keep your balance. You have to go fast to keep your balance. Yup, just like that. The most maddening part? She did it once, and then got scared again, so she rewarded us with a long period of screwing up. She did it a second time, and another period of "oy, let me sabotage myself" followed. Finally, the third time she succeeded, she got it good. Not without minor incidents of relapse, but very, very minor.

When daddy got home, she showed off. And then told him that she knew that he would just open his mouth when he saw her. Rather proud of herself. Which, of course, is the whole point-- to create a series of accomplishments, in tasks that seemed difficult at first, such that she would learn to consider taking risks more routinely. Let me ask you this, though-- how many of these experiences do you figure it would take to propel her all the way through high school with a healthy self esteem? I only ask because I am so out of shape that running after that bike today winded me but good. I think I better make these next two weeks or so all about exercise.

Of course

Is it any wonder that when your husband, before leaving for vacation, leaves a note for the mailman with a polite request to hold your mail until the 23rd, that said mailman will, indeed, hold it until the 23rd? With, you know, both copies of Harry Potter?

One more reason why I love my husband-- he is sure to provide comic relief. But boy, it will be a while before he lives this one down.

Edited to add: By request of the subject of the above, I am now making it clear that he (the subject, aka beloved husband), knowing that books are shipped via that brown company (they even sent the tracking number, see?), asked the mailman to hold the mail until Monday rather than Saturday so that we wouldn't have to deal with junk mail accumulated over the vacation week, and could enjoy the books instead. And that he (subj, husbnd) didn't know that the books were shipped via the brown company to our friendly neighborhood post offices for delivery with regular mail. He felt it was very important for all of you to know that. Personally, I think that's kinda cute. Whatdayathink?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Murphy called

He wants his law back.

We came back today to what was supposed to be two packages of Harry Potter, one ordered by JD months ago, and one by my sister because I didn't think JD placed the order yet, and she has free shipping (and they have a no-cancellation policy). So two packages expected. And, yes, as you have no doubt guessed, none arrived.

I started rereading the older books on vacation, but only got through the first couple. British edition, though (thanks, sis!). I forgot or didn't catch a bunch of nice little details the first time through, which is why I was rereading in the first place. But I was going to stop and switch to book 7 today. Guess I have till Monday now to get through a bit more of the older books. I just have to carefully avoid any place or person that might give things away.

Going to bed to read for a while now. It might even help me stop wondering whether this was really a chemical, what with a strange start to this period, a pretty heavy flow for two days now, and a faint second line I noticed on the HPT when I went to throw it away today (I know I am not supposed to be looking at it days later, but it was just laying there since Wednesday morning when I didn't see anything).

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Signs point to "No"

Cocktails tonight. Cosmopolitan and Appletiny, I think.
And what's your BFN special?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bullet, apparently dodged

Every time I get thyroditis I have an 80% chance of getting my thyroid back to actual normal levels. Which means, 20% chance of having to take meds for the rest of my life. Because I am, in fact, a geek, I multiplied it out to figure out that if I started counting the very first time I got it, and knew that I was facing at least four more or less full term pregnancies, I would know that I was looking at an overall chance of (0.8)^5, or of only about 33% of walking away from the whole deal without needing the meds. But because I am, as I believe I mentioned, a geek, I also know that these here events are apparently independent, which means that I can discount from my calculations those run-throughs that have already happened. So when the fun started in April, I was looking at (0.8)^3, or about 51% chance of getting away. Last week I took another set of bloods, and they showed thyroid levels back to normal. Which means that I got away this time, and that now I am looking at only a 1-(0.8)^2, or 36% chance of needing meds when all is said and done. Assuming I am only in for two more long pregnancies, of course.

P.S. I have been unplugged since Saturday. I got some sleeping and some ocean swimming in. And some sadness and some tears from being in the place I have only ever been to before while pregnant with A. And more sleeping, and a good long evening hanging out with the girls. And I need to decide when to pee on a stick.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

On bravery and choice

What is the bravest thing you ever did in your life?

I think I am supposed to say this is the bravest thing, the trying again, the daring to hope for an actual live take-home baby at the end. But is it really bravery when you don't feel like you have a choice? My family is not complete. Simple as that. Nobody can ever take A's place. That is so obvious I feel silly even writing it. But even before A died, he wasn't supposed to be my last baby. To stop now would leave us with one amazing kid and a hole the size not just of A, but of all of Monkey's siblings. The hole, really, the size of our family.

Monkey takes my breath away every single day-- with the way she talks, with the way she moves, with the way she is-- and yet, she is not enough. There are people who would call me greedy--to want more after getting one living child, the child so amazing, but also so challenging, so complex, so real that you could fill volumes and not be nearly done, so all of these things that it humbles you, every single day. Heck, when I put it like that, I start to feel greedy myself. Only not really, because now I also know just how much more room there still is in my heart. Monkey can't possibly be any more than she is. But she also can't be more than she is. She can't be it. For our sake and hers, this house is too quiet, there are too few children living here, there are too few relationships in this family. And so we can't stop, we can't not try again, we can't not risk it. Is it really bravery then?

I know what the braves thing my parents ever did was-- they packed up the family, and moved to a new country, with a new language. Even today, their accents are pretty easy to spot, and my father had more than his fair share of professional disappointments along the way. There are other things, of course, but none are the point now. The point is that we wouldn't have starved if we stayed. My parents had an actual choice. They made their choice, and they made their lives harder for it. That was brave. Me? I don't think our choice is nearly that brave.

So what was it for you, your bravest thing?

Monday, July 9, 2007

The last battle, it's the hardest*

This is my last week of working at my current job. I have a few things to wrap up, so, naturally, I am procrastinating.

Next week is the teh fun vacation (see #7), and I am looking forward to that. But you'd think I would move faster to wrap up stuff at work. And you would be, what's the word?.. oh, yes-- wrong.

And just so this post isn't entirely content-free, here's another painting from that trip to the museum a couple of weeks back. I even believe that I got the colors pretty right on this one. It is by Renoir, and is called Onions, although there is also garlic. But I have to admit that I would've missed the garlic if not for the plaque next to the painting. No deep message, I think, just inspired skill that takes my breath away.

And, what the hell, from the same trip, evidence that stupid prep boys have existed for some time now:
Yes, this is 19th century graffiti on the wall of an ancient Egyptian temple. I would just bet that Mr. Livingston, on Christmas break from his prep school in England, had himself a rollicking good time at a wild New Year party the night before. It is even possible that his girlfriend participated in the "Prep School Girls Gone Wild" pencil drawing contest.

Ok, Julia, back to work.

*If you speak The Old Country language, yes, it is the reference you think it is.

Friday, July 6, 2007

How many children do you have?

The Parent Blogger Network is having themselves another blog blast. This is to celebrate the release of this new pregnancy book, which purports to be all that and a bag of chips. I went to the store to try to ascertain that for myself, but they didn't have it. And the PBN reviews don't start rolling till next week, so I am flying blind.

Them's the rules-- use an annoying pg/new mom question as the title and let loose in the post. You know this wasn't even a close one, right? The dreaded question. The one that weighs heavily on many a bereaved parent mind. I wasn't even going to say anything else, just point here, here, and here. Plus, in indication of nothing so much as of how small my circle of real-life interactions is, only one person, a masseuse, asked me this so far. Yes, really. I thought it would be relaxing. But I know more's coming, maybe even in a week, at the first summer event for Monkey's new school.

The blogblast people? They want snark. I wonder how to answer this question, the one that makes your insides go cold, how do you answer it with snark? Well, let me see. How about?..

Two, but one's not really good at all this socializing stuff-- he's dead.
Too morbid.

Why, is there a sale somewhere? Do tell-- I've been meaning to pick up a couple more. I seem to be pretty bad at this getting a take-home baby thing myself.
Too consumerist. Or is there such a thing?

And what is the most painful part of your life? Do you enjoy discussing it with strangers?
Too antagonistic.

Doesn't seem to be working. I think I will stick with my "one living child" for now. But of course, get me on a bad day, and I make no guarantees.

Teh rules again. I am supposed to end the post with the following:

Don't you wish you could've just handed them this?

Um? No! Because I have no idea what's IN the book. That's why I went to the store. But they don't have it, and Amazon doesn't even have the index of the book to search through. So I have no evidence whatsoever that this book is remotely sensitive or helpful, and I make it a point not to knowingly hand people things that may end up hurting them. Like cleavers and shotguns. Or books I know nothing about.

This last part was not part of teh rules, but you knew I wasn't going to just leave that question hanging, right?

Therapy, DIY style

My insurance switched to an HMO this year. Which we didn't terribly mind because all our doctors were in the network anyway, and we got new benefits for the old price. Except, not the old price. We now have $250 deductible for EVERY hospital stay. Right, so if I ever get previa again, like I did with Monkey, I will be very tempted to not leave the hospital after the first bleed. THAT will surely save the insurance company some money, don't you think?

If that was all the inconvenience, I would be tempted to say we'll deal when we get there. But see, the therapist my rabbi recommended? Not in the network. The energy needed to interview in-network therapists to try to find one who is not a boob? Don't have. The nice infant loss study at a local university? Over, as in I finished all my sessions. So what happens next? Last Sunday, apparently. AKA, the explosion. And then, because although I may have me some fancy degrees, not a one of them is in anything resembling psych, then it takes me another day and a half to figure out what THAT was all about.

But see, I have friends in the computer. They, the friends, they are much smarter about this stuff. Or maybe they have just been there before. So they tell me things, and that starts wheels turning, and the squeak is heard for miles. And the neighbors wonder what's up with all the loud noises from my house lately, but are happy that at least this time there don't seem to be flames. Or the blast wave. So finally, there is Understanding. And an inescapable conclusion that I should do it more often. Not the explosion thing. But the figuring it out thing. Normally, one might find a shrink for that. But, see HMO, above (also see: blood-sucking leaches). But, HA! I have friends! in the computer! They be my therapist! Yes, they be. So here goes, my DIY therapy session, courtesy of the smart people on teh internets.

Dr. Fitc: So Julia, how have things been going lately?

Me: Not too good. I had a couple of angry days.

Dr. Fitc: Angry? That's new. You didn't seem to have any anger before.

Me: I didn't. I didn't even know what it was when it came. You know, I don't think anyone could've done anything to save A, so I never feel guilty, and I never feel angry either. Probably because I decided early on G-d had nothing to do with it. My mom, she was very angry and wanted to know why? I told her there is no why, and my sister said if she wanted to be mad at G-d, she could, because G-d can take it, and truly if G-d made life, G-d made death. I am not even sure how much G-d is in this business anymore, so I am leaving G-d out of it. Actually, I get upset when I hear people say anything about G-d and childbearing. Either give G-d all the credit and all the blame, or none of either. There is this joke about a guy who buys some bling, the kind that hangs pretty low, kinda south of the equator, if you know what I mean. Then he wears it to the nudist beach. Where his friend tells him to either remove the bling or put on the swim trunks. That's the way I feel about G-d and human events now. Either in or out. So I am cool with out. Just don't want to hear about praying or deserving.

Dr. Fitc: Were you angry at someone?

Me: No. Just mad. Randomly. Flaring up. Wanting to punch things. I actually slammed the bedroom door such that it twisted in the frame. I got it unstuck later, but for a second I thought I broke it. And I was on the outside at the time...

Dr. Fitc: That's normal, you know.

Me: So I've been told. Wish I figured it out when it came on, and not days later.

Dr. Fitc: It started when?

Me: Sunday. I had a nice time at the party, but was pretty tired the next morning. And there was all that work. I kept doing it-- pages and pages of data. Needed to concentrate, but kept thinking about the ovulation cues that haven't yet shown up. Some did, some didn't. And I was trying to figure out what is going on. And then my mom called with something I thought was a silly request and an inconvenient one. And somehow, I just blew up. JD, he tried to ask me if I was calming down, but I bit his head off too. He could've been nicer to me, though.

Dr. Fitc: And before Sunday you didn't get angry in a while?

Me: Anxious. I was anxious since Thursday or Friday. Oh, wait. I actually got mad at an insurance person on Friday. Raised my voice even. I saw that I was running low on my PCOS meds earlier in the week, but didn't want to go to the pharmacy to refill. I had a brief thought, which at the time made me sad, that since A died I have been to the pharmacy more than in any other time in my life that I can recall. I still take prenatals, and the stuff for PCOS. At first I had the prescription strength motrin. Then I had the two different heart medications. Last week-- antibiotics. Like I am 70. So I didn't want to go, and I let the pills run real low. Plus, I was waiting for the stupid override to let me get the number of pills I needed rather than the number determined by their very Orwellian Quality Care Dosage table. BTW, that table says that the Quality Care dosing for my medication is 68. What kind of sense does it make? It's not like it's two a day for a month. It's just 68. Oh, I know-- they must've figured out how to get those extra days that nobody knows about, all to yourself. The ones where you can sleep and read, and drink coffee, and then plug back into your real life all refreshed and relaxed. So their months are 34 days long. But they forgot to switch the calculation when they came back to our dimension. And also? They work on their extra days. Crazy.

So Friday morning there were no more pills, and I had to go. But I called the insurance first to make sure the override went through. Guess what? They first dropped my call, then claimed to never have received the fax with the request from my doctor. I don't like the office manager at my doctor's, so I thought she screwed up. Called her-- nope, she faxed it over, has a timestamp on her copy and everything. Back to the insurance people. Where she tells me that sometimes your fax can say that it went through, but if something else is printing on their end, the fax gets eaten. That's when I lost it and raised my voice. I told her they were like the biggest insurance company in the state and maybe the country, and I really wanted to know why is it that she is telling me they can't figure out fax machines. And that Orwell was proud of them for naming that particular bag of bureaucratic crap. For some reason she got very accommodating right then. Got my doctor's office to fax the thing to her personally, took it over to the beancounters, whatever. Called me at the end of the day to say the approval didn't come through yet, but she got her supervisor to approve taking the co-pay off for this time, so I could go get the 68 pills for free while they keep debating whether I should have another 25 with each refill. Smart, I know.

Dr. Fitc: How did that make you feel?

Me: Good. Productive, actually. Are you saying that's why I blew up on Sunday? It seemed to work before? But it only made things worse on Sunday.

Dr. Fitc: Well, it works better when the objects are inanimate.

Me: Do blog communities count as inanimate objects?

Dr. Fitc: Why?

Me: I got an email from one about a blog blast that upset me. I think I need to write in and spoil their fun little party. But I have to go by the book store first. To make sure it's not just the blast people who are clueless, but also the book.

Dr. Fitc: Well, the book is pretty inanimate. But remember about the people?

Me: Sure. I don't mean that I will pick a fight. Just that if I answer honestly, there may be some uncomfortable silences.

Dr, Fitc: Would it be honest? Is it something you think needs to be said?

Me: Yes and yes.

Dr. Fitc: Then you better go by a bookstore.

Me: Ok, then. Thanks. Bye.

That completes my first therapy session with the good doctor. I hear Dr. Fitc makes housecalls. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


I am thinking I might have just reached my anger stage. All out of order. I seemed to have skipped guilt and anger (if you don't count some of my interactions with my MIL, but I think those were justified) before now. I still can't do guilt-- just can't find anything at all anyone could've done. But maybe it was the anger talking last two days or so.

I want the baby I had. I want A. I want the next one too. But dammit, I shouldn't have to be trying now. I should be tickling my boy.

I feel better today, but not all better.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Foul mood

Apparently, I don't need fertility medication to turn into a bitch on wheels. Just ask my husband.

In my defense?
1) I am not really sure what this cycle is doing. I think my thyroid going hypo did something funky to this cycle. The last one was much easier to read than this one.

2) We conceived A on the first try. Because it took us over two years to conceive Monkey, that was messing with my head. I mean, infertile people don't get pregnant on the first try, right? It is now messing with my head in the complete opposite way, if you can follow it. I can get pregnant the first time. I want to get pregnant the first time.

3) I just finished a course of antibiotics to temporarily clear out group B strep (GBS) that was in residence on my cervix as of late May. It's a mostly harmless bacteria that a lot of people are colonized with. But it's dangerous to newborns, so mothers who are known carriers are put on antibiotic drips for the delivery. Except that the pathologist found enough of it in A's amniotic fluid (taken by amnio while membranes were still intact) and tissues that she listed it as a contributory cause of death. Bacteria is not supposed to be able to get inside, but this was the third case at my hospital where they found it. In the first two it was the cause of death. The plan from my OB is to give me antibiotics every time he finds these buggers through any subsequent pregnancy. My GP thought we should start with a clean slate, so she took the test, found them (no big shock), and gave me antibiotics. Presumably, I am now GBS-free, but I have no idea for how long. So I am more invested in this cycle than I ever was in any cycle. And see (2) above for contributory factor.

But being freaked out is apparently not the best way to get along with men... Who knew?