Archive for August, 2010

thank you

Thank you for all your sweet kind words, all the care sent my cyber-way. I take them all to heart and every word pulls to help me peel myself off the ground.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. I cannot say enough what your words and your thoughts mean to me.


They were here such a short time, but my heart already exploded. This is why for Buddhists attachment is what hinders enlightenment. I got attached so quickly. When at first we only saw one yolk sac, I thought, Oh, maybe they wanted to be together but since the other had a problem, they decided  to leave this womb. Try another place.

And that actually comforted me some. Only we saw the second sac at the next ultrasound, so all we can say is that Nature makes mistakes sometimes. She may have thrown many a pot, but sometimes the clay simply do not cooperate.


Shortly after I found out about the pregnancy Val came home from her martial arts class telling me the mother of her classmate is pregnant. “But it is very early, you cannot see she has a belly yet.” I asked her how she knew then and she said the mother told her.

And I wondered, did she just find out too? We may be due around the same time, in March.

The following week I saw the spouse and after asking me how old Lyra was he announced, “We will be expecting our third baby too.” I congratulated him (we do not know each other very well; polite acquaintances as our kids are in the same class) and asked him when the baby will be due.

“March 8. It is still very early.”

Indeed. I know because I would have been due around the same time and I was about 6 weeks. But I would never share my news that early. Not because Ferdinand died. I am not exactly sure why. But we’ve just always waited until the first trimester passed. I think it was the superstition about miscarriages if you tell too early. Ha. A friend had once commented that we were a cautious couple. I wonder if we are the glass-half-empty couple too.

I thought of that family, and wished them the best of luck.

And I thought too: WTH? Why me? Why again?

I am afraid at the exit interview of my previous life, I had arrogantly sighed and said, “Phew, this was too easy! A tad boring. My next life I would love some challenges, you know?”

And this is why all these happened. I asked for it. Dang.


Will we try again, as someone asked? Right now, I am too tired. My heart, sore with love and loss. I just want to be alone. Any decisions made now will be impulsive, though honestly the thought of another potential loss makes me want to grab a knife and operate on my spouse right now. Sounds a bit violent, I know, but one needs to be doubly sure sometimes.

This week a kind friend took the older two girls off my hands for a few hours so I can some quiet. I still had Lyra but it made a difference. The house was much quieter and I could think, and my mind was clear and I could think razor-sharp. I saw vividly that I am blessed, with three healthy children, right here with me. And foremost I need to love them, and learn along with them. I may not have handled more children very well. Perhaps I need more time just to myself.

I need more time, even if the doc said that my “high maternal age” was a factor in the miscarriage. I just cannot decide right now. I have a friend who gave birth at 45 to her second child with no issues. Screw high maternal age. But everyone is different. I feel more than a thousand years old.

I’d better stop now. I only wanted to write a thank you note but all the thoughts came spilling out. Thank you  again – so, so much.


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the moral of the story

I wanted to title this a fable, but I am not a God, or an animal, and though there may be a moral, it will not be short. It can also not be a parable, because it will not be exactly short, or allegorical.

So it is just a story, and maybe there is a moral. At least I try to find one.


Did I tell you I burned to have a baby for about a year after Lyra was born? I intensely wanted to have another baby, because I felt the missing even more, and experienced even more what I missed. I know I can never replace Ferdinand, so that intense wanting felt irrational for me.

But, we decided to stop. Our lives were put on hold after Ferdinand died and we needed energy and focus to get our family moving again. I was not totally convinced, just almost. And since it cannot be accomplished by myself alone, I began to make peace with the fact that we were done. Clothes were given away, dvd’s sold, the yearning smothered and sewed up. Tucked away.

And I settled into a new rhythm, and made peace.

Except this early July I was late. I told R and he asked if my dates were wrong. I looked and looked at my calendar, and counted the days, and I was sure I was not wrong. But I had to be wrong or it would have been impossible. I put my foot down – I was always prompt in recording the dates, because for a while I was sure my cycle was getting shorter and I was hurtling towards menopause, and so I was watching my dates like a hawk. So then maybe I have a tumor or something.

Except we saw two lines.

We looked at each other in disbelief. And then we smiled. Because we had recently felt that Lyra could really use a playmate- a sibling or a dog. Something, or someone. I told R I had given away almost everything and he said that’s a small matter. What’s big is we would also need a different car, and lots more.

We did not forget the “if” part. No we did not. We remember still, how long and hard the wait for Lyra was, and braced ourselves for another nine long months.

However. At 8 weeks we did not find a heartbeat. Yolk sac- yes. But no heartbeat. And there were two amniotic sacs. Possibly twins. But only one of the sacs had a yolk sac, but it had not developed. The doc said it looks like I will miscarry, but let’s wait a week and see.

A week. Two words. Seven days. Endless hours. Long wait.

A week later, another ultrasound. The amniotic sacs grew, and a yolk sac appeared in the previously empty sac. But still no heartbeats. Very dark, fuzzy, and silent.

The doc said, “I am not sure what to make of this.” Wait another week, was the prescription. Come back for another ultrasound to see what is going on.

Two weeks of wondering, and waiting.

Waiting. It is what I am least virtuous at. You can kill me with waiting. But there was nothing to do but to wait. And think that I might die. And think that they may die. Those two little sacs. Those two little souls- do they want to come through? Is something wrong with them? Is something wrong with me? Something is probably wrong with me.

Just before the third ultrasound, blood. I stood by the toilet and watched, as red swirls disappeared into a vortex. My back ached. And more red came.

I have another ultrasound next week. But I do not need the verdict. I know it. But for them, they need to make sure the miscarriage was “complete.” Irony, isn’t it? For now my life is even more incomplete.

And I am tired to the core of my bones, and badly bruised.

I remember how the nurse told me after Ferdinand died, that it was to show me the lesson of love, and I wanted to slap her. Because she was wrong. Some people showed love. Only some. Others walked away, slunk away, turned away.

I laid in the dark, and I thought, there must be a moral to this story, too. I felt the past three weeks could not have been more torturous in the waiting, and I had always loathed to wait, but I had to. There was no other way of getting to the end of the story, albeit an unhappy one. There was no choice but to wait. The ultrasound could not conclude anything, only my body and Fate know. And my body took its time, it had to. It made me wait, because I needed a lesson in waiting.

And perhaps I also needed a repeat lesson in You are not in control.

Of course not. And I totally understand and know it. But it does not make the hurt less.

“It was just not meant to be.” We said to each other, again. The last time we said it, was after Ferdinand died.

Yet another chapter of my life, closed. It felt short, cause it ended too soon. Yet it felt very long too, with the brutal waiting. A friend told me, “I hope you can start healing soon.” But I am still in mourning. They were so tiny, them both. The hope was big, we felt we were blessed, but it was simply a lesson.

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how to treat a deep wound

A friend of mine posted this on her FB, but knowing I am not on it, forwarded the information to me. That was so kind of her, for this information needs wide dissemination. It is based on the comments of Suzanne Helzer, who spoke to a group of nursing students about pregnancy and infant loss and bereavement. (My friend is a nursing student, and I know she will make an excellent nurse!) Helzer works for Bereavement Services/RTS Coordinator at Banner Desert Medical Center. I am sharing her words here. Feel free to post on your blog or forward to friends and family, or the uninitiated.


What is needed to treat a deep wound? The wound of losing a baby is deep and painful, and requires many of the same things as a deep tissue wound.

First is nutrition. The person should take small frequent meals in order to keep up the energy to heal. They have to take care of themselves. Sometimes others have to take care of them, bring them the meals, sit while they eat. This provides a sense of not being alone.

Next, the wound needs to be cleaned. If it sits under a bandage and is never looked at or thought about, it will become infected, possibly even septic. It needs regular wound care. You must remove the bandage. Then you must wash the wound, remove all the dead tissue and exudate. This is very very painful, but the wound must be looked at daily. If you give it frequent wound care in small sessions to remove the dead tissue bit by bit, it is much easier than waiting until there is a large amount to remove all at once. One woman who lost her baby boy in pregnancy said, as she was leaving to go to her bereavement class, “I’m going to get my wound care! It’s going to hurt like hell, it will probably hurt for a couple of days after I get home and I won’t feel like doing  much. But if I don’t do this, it will all build up and become too overwhelming to handle.”

A wound needs to be medicated and bandaged. After cleaning it, put on some ointment. Spread it gently, as the wound is still tender. Cover with a clean, dry bandage. The bandage is white, not skin-colored. It is not supposed to be part of the body. It does not take the wound away. It just covers it and protects it from injury. The bandage is a constant reminder to others that something has happened to this person. They are different. They are hurting.

After many painful cleanings, the wound starts to heal. It takes a long, long time. The new skin is very fragile. It is not the same color as the original skin. It will never be the same color or texture as the original skin. That person is changed forever by the experience. They will always see that scar. They will remember the pain of having it cleaned. They will remember the stares of people who saw them with the bandage. Do not overlook the scar after the wound has healed. Do not pretend they were never hurt. Ask how they are doing when you see them, allow them to talk about it if they need to.

How to treat a person who has experienced an infant loss-

– Do not be afraid of your own tears as you talk to them.

-Ask about the birth experience.

– Ask to see baby pictures or a scrapbook.

– Provide a journal or books for them.

– It’s okay to say, “I just don’t know what to say”

– Ask “How are you doing?” And when they say “fine” ask again, “How are you *really* doing?” and allow them to tell you.

– Do not think that because they are acting normal that they are over it.

– Use the baby’s name in conversations.

– Know that holidays are going to be especially hard, and send them notes about how  you are remembering them and their baby at those times.

What NOT to say-

– You are young, you can have more.

– At least you already have two healthy children (They will watch those children go through stages and mourn the stages the baby did not get to go through)

– You have an angel in heaven. (They will want their angel with them, not in heaven, even if they are saying that to make themselves cope.)

– I know someone who was farther along than you when their baby died. (Do not share stories of others– they don’t want to hear about it).

– It was just a miscarriage.

– You didn’t want to be pregnant anyway, right? Maybe this was a blessing in disguise.

– Was it a planned pregnancy?

– This happened for the best.

– Aren’t you glad it happened early, before you could get to know the baby? (The baby is known and loved from the moment it’s known about. For the rest of their lives they will know how old that baby was supposed to be every year. They will think about what halloween costume it was to wear, what books the mom was going to read to it.)

– Everything happens for a reason (What good reason is there for a baby to die?)

– Saying nothing at all

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Feel the walls of your house vibrate with your pain.

I think that’s the most poignant line for me from Maya Stein’s poem. Because I felt that. I felt our house, for months after, emitted eerie, mournful black light that screamed silently, aching towards the skies, straining to reach the stars. And when I went out I could sense my grief oozing out of my pores, shrouding me, twisting my face and choking my voice.

The feeling has never ceased. Time may be a healer, but it is a tardy one, it is not a miracle healer. Sometimes it even seems like quackery, especially when grief seizes at unexpected moments. It seems then that time had played a trick; offered a fake promise.

But one learns to get on. Somehow I’ve brushed my teeth, put on concealer, put my hair up, clothed myself decently and went out to meet the world. Not that it awaited with anxiety to meet me. It was just out there, whether I went to meet it or not. I made the choice to meet it, seeking to find the meaning in it all. Seeking to find the meaning for myself. I’m still searching, I think.


Can I tell you the drawback to believing in reincarnation? Can I??

Well, every time R has to “take care” of a roach we come across, I fervently pray to myself, Please, please, Ferdinand, that is not you. Please, do not ever become a roach because you will never be welcomed in this house, or in most places. Be a ladybug, eat aphids. Be a cute puppy. Or if you prefer not to have a fixed form, be the wind, the clouds, the mysterious sounds of nature. But please, please, do not be that roach. Please tell me you are not that roach that just got smooshed.

Funny? In some sense, yes. And then I wish I did not believe in reincarnation. I can laugh after. And cry, and laugh. He may not be exasperating me with what he might be were he a three-year-old, but I still have to wring my hands in anxiety for him.


The weather has not been cooperating.

I really, really wanted to go star-gazing. But every weekend, every possible place I looked, they are experiencing cloudy nights and thunderstorms. Really. Except where we are, it is just a constant hot, and humidity. We’ve got a few sprinkles, which seemed like mockery. And every time I plan to go somewhere to look at the stars, there are clouds. To say I have been feeling frustrated is a bit of an understatement. It’s a very gross understatement.

This past weekend, we decided to go up to the cabin. We’ve changed realtors and wanted to make sure the cabin is in good shape. The lawn had to be mowed, and I decided to mop everything down and wash windows and all that. Saturday night R made a fire, we grilled burgers and ate outside, listening to the creek gushing by, the cicadas wrapping us up in songs. There was a chance we would see stars.

Except when we looked up, large patches of clouds were knitted together, gray and heavy. But still, a few stars seemed to have spread open the seams here and there and peeked through, and we enjoyed a few twinklings. It was nice, but felt insufficient.

I can only sigh, and comfort myself with the thought that the stars will always be there, waiting. We may not see them, but they see us. And they’ve been there a long, long time.

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I’ve tried my hands at poetry. Tried hard; missed sorely. so I am deeply thankful of poets who produce words that speak our hearts, and our guts. I found this poem by Maya Stein on Patti Digh’s blog. Maybe it’ll take your breath away too. Maybe you’ll also think, I think she wrote it for me.

let the world spin as it spins

Eat the last cookies in the box.

Wear the same pair of jeans two

weeks in a row. See the orchid die, leaf

by leaf. Wipe the countertop carelessly,

so it’s sticky as spit the next time

you lean on your elbows wondering

what’s for dinner. Watch hours

of television. Call for pizza, for Chinese,

for the cable company to give you even

more channels. Drive by the gym

without skipping a beat. Wash your hair only

when it starts to wilt, when the mirror

produces someone who doesn’t look like she wants

to get laid. Think about sex constantly.

Order cocktails. Play pool. Spend your money

on a massage, on t-shirts from the warehouse sale,

on inflation-priced bagels from the café down the street.

Ignore the obvious fact that the sheets

need changing. Occupy your bed gratuitously.

When you’re done reading for the night,

flop the pages open, straining the jacket.

Allow the avocados to ripen beyond repair.

Stain the kitchen sink with grape stems,

mango peels, olive pits with the meat

still clinging. Use vast quantities of paper towels

for a simple spill of water.

Lavish attention on the minute landscape

between your eyebrows.

Lose time. Ditch the mail into the bulging

plastic bag near your desk. Almost mistake it

for trash. Abandon the task of fixing

the dresser drawer. Turn your car

into a wastebasket.

And when it comes, fall with extravagant

ugliness. Grieve noisily into the balls of your fists.

Push your heels against the carpet, your chest squirming.

Feel the walls of the house vibrate with your pain.

Make pockmarks of your heart.

Collapse if you have to. It is like this.

The world spins as it spins.

No one knows,

even though we all know

this is between

you and you alone.

So yield. Commit your entire body.

Recognize your own astonishing anguish.

Tear it from your skin like a wolf

eviscerates her trapped leg. Shriek like

the downed bird you are.

Invest wholly in your damage.

Lap up each tumescent despair. Swallow

the pinbones of your loss. Caress

every razor edge of not enough. Gift yourself

long, bruising hours of hopelessness.

The world spins as it spins.

Your life is on that same axis,

half shadow, half radiance

and turning, always turning.

-Maya Stein

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Well, I did feel like a bit of a brat after writing the previous post. I can imagine people thinking, “What do you want? Fireworks? A public holiday? Sheesh…”

No, I did not mean I wanted a parade, or fireworks or anything of that sort. Just a quiet acknowledgment that he existed and that we experienced a loss. I know that a lot of the silence stems from the thinking that if no one talks about it, then it will not hurt, or that eventually we will forget it too. Like the friend who shushed my daughter when she talked about Ferdinand, whispering to her, “Don’t bring that up, it makes mommy sad.” Only nothing will ever change what had happened. And I think avoiding the topic only makes it worse.

And I am not sure which is worse- people who truly totally forgot, because they have never met him; or people who remembers, but kept silent about it.


Some time ago I connected with an acquaintance and when talking about children I told her she probably wasn’t aware but I had a stillbirth a few years ago. She replied that she did know, for we do have mutual friends. The only thing was that, when she asked if she could do anything, she was told that I was so deep and shut off in my grief, it was impossible to reach out to me at all.And so she never contacted me.

That really gave me pause, and a slight shock. Without doubt I had dug myself in, but somehow hearing it from someone else, had an effect akin to being hammered over the head.

It made me think I must have been the most horrible person for the longest time – cold, distant, unmoving. It does not help that to begin with I had always been long to thaw and warm up to people.

This must be the double-whammy of grief, to not just feel awful oneself, but to make others feel awful as well.


I’m not sure where I am getting with this. Nothing I want to say in particular, really, just getting some thoughts out. And then I can just move on.

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Ferdinand’s birthday was quiet. I did not want cake, nor a party, nor a parade. It is not about me, but when the Prince goes on parade, the Queen follows with a fan hiding her face.

And I totally dug myself under.

I cried, because Val cried. A few times. She cried because she could not believe that she did not know then why she had to go to our neighbor’s house, where she happily made cards and hearts for the baby. She cried because it had been another year. And she cried because she never got to know him.

I cried, for all that, and for my daughters’ tears. I wonder if it hurts me more that my daughters have to grieve than to have my son not be with me earthside.

July was my ruby red month. But the flower fell off its clip, and the red skirt I ordered off Et.sy not only arrived late but was more like a red earth hue than a ruby red. It was still a pretty color though. And I found these lovely shirts and now own two, and thinking I should get more and wear one for each day of the week. (And I saw too they have a scarf- maybe for winter.) While roaming around on Et.sy (it’s terribly distracting) I came across this shirt. It did not make me think of myself as a little girl, reaching for the stars, but it made me think of my girls, trying to touch Ferdinand.

Neither of our families said anything. I am sure they forgot. But R said he did not think they “forgot”, but that they just did not know how to react or what to say. I think they forgot. I insisted so. Val asked why people will forget, and I simply replied that it is just hard when you have never ever met that person, never spent time with him and have no memories to draw upon. Or maybe, they just don’t want to be put in an awkward position. We did receive a few very nice gestures from a few people, and that was wonderful.

And I strung cranes. Twenty rolls of ribbon, ending up with 114 cranes. I still have some cranes left over, and will finish stringing them up next year, but they won’t be much.

And I bet next year, it will be even more quiet.

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