Monthly Archives: May 2008

Baby Man’s teeth

JJ: I’ve been trying for awhile to capture his barely existing teeth since they’ve been barely existing, and this is the best I could do. I think you can see them.

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Better late

From Glow in the Woods, 6 x 6 (a series of 6 questions they’ve posted for us to answer, and have answered themselves).

1 | In a word, how would you characterize yourself before your loss, and then after?

Before – young. After – worn.

2 | How do you feel around pregnant women?

Even when I have Baby Man with me, I feel somewhat like a poseur. As if, if they knew the truth about me, they’d run in fear or disgust.

3 | How do you answer the ‘how many children’ question?

Apparently right now, if it’s someone who’s anything more than a stranger on the street, I will say, “Well, we have Baby Man and we had a son who died at birth before.” Strangers, I don’t know. It entirely varies. I have just said, “No,” when someone I’ll never see again has asked, “is he your first?”

4 | How did you explain what happened to your lost baby to your living children? Or, if this was your first pregnancy, will you tell future children about your first?

I already mention “your brother” to Baby Man in passing, and two weeks ago we sat together next to Natan’s grave and I talked about him. Of course, Baby Man cannot yet understand but I hope I’ll be strong enough to continue when he can. And I hope it won’t be a burden to him.

5 | What would another pregnancy mean to you, and how would you get through it—or are you done with babymaking?

I am not sure if we will try again. My hope is that if it happens, while I’ll never be carefree and pregnant, that I could be more relaxed during a prospective next time because I know that in theory, I can bring a healthy baby to term. It’ll be hard though, and I would worry a lot about my ability to care for Baby Man during it. That would be my primary reason not to try again, because I don’t want to hurt him.

6 | Imagine being able to step back in time and whisper into the ear of your past self the day after your baby died. What would you say?

When I first read this question, I thought it said, “your past self the day before your baby died.” My immediate reaction was, “My Gd, no, I don’t want to talk to her. Let her have one last day of hope.” Or the possibility that I could have changed something, that’s too much to bear.

As it is really written, I still don’t want to whisper to her. It’s not as if it’s “alright,” now–I don’t want to tell her that. I don’t want to give her advice. I don’t want to tell her about Baby Man, well, because those early days of mourning are Natan’s. I wouldn’t want to encourage her to think of the future at all.

An easy way to feel good about yourself

Take the train.

Although in the past 18 months I’ve taken only 1 flight, and Josh 3, in a usual year we take many many more than that. This summer we need to go east for a seminar for me, and to see JJ’s grandfather at the same time. I so wanted to take a train, but the only way we can do that is to take a bus to a train leaving at 4am. I tried to psych myself up for it, but really, when I think about what time we need to leave home, only to take a bus for 45 minutes, and then still have to get on a train….with a will-be-then 6 month old baby, I get grumpy. Flights are so expensive, not to mention bad, and we’ll need a car anyway. So we’re going to drive, and we’re going to get a rental because my old car is getting very bad with the gas mileage, and something is happening with the sealing on the doors I think because it’s also getting very loud in the interior when we drive on the highway.

We are both desperate for a relaxing vacation. We can go to Florida for free-Josh’s stepdad is going to give us some free tickets he has and we can stay in his mom’s condo. Flights are bad, I know, but we’re going. Maybe someday we’ll rent a cabin or something in a closer-to-home place, but the appeal of FREE tickets and FREE housing is too great to resist.

So even as I’ve been daydreaming about eco-friendly vacations, I now have two big gas-guzzling trips planned.

Third necessary trip this summer – I need to go to my hometown to see my nieces and nephew. The first weekend in June my niece has a dance recital and she wants me to attend. JJ can’t go. He defends his dissertation less than a week later. So driving the 300 miles is just not an option at all. I will not be in the car alone with Baby Man for that long. My conscience kicked in this time, and I bought a train ticket. It’ll take considerably longer, but I feel good about it.

I know this is rather a boring post, but I’m wondering, are any of you changing your travel habits this summer? If yes, is it because of the cost of gas? or a growing concern for the environment?

Two teeth!

Some crabby nights the past few days. Suddenly this morning we have two teeth! Two teeth at only 5 months 9 days! Not unheard of at all I know.

I hope he’s not a biter.

from google

I get lots of hits from people apparently trying to get information about preterm labor. Often they don’t include any words to indicate emotions, so I don’t know if it’s just about a concern, or true diagnosis, or if it’s for themselves, or a friend, or a loved one.

Today somebody came to my site today via a google search of “preterm labor feel failure.” If you come back, I’m so sorry. Please know you’re not a failure.

No free ice cream here

I have been watching big love, an hbo series about a polygamist family. I have no desire to gain a sister wife, but somehow the show is making me come to grips with my residual yearning for a big family. My best friend in late elementary school came from a Mormon family. she had 3 brothers and sisters when we met, 4 and 5 by the time they moved away. I loved going to their house. Loved it.

Not Mrs. T was all hugs and kisses all the time. Even for me. I remember vividly one evening, when her daughter and I were in sleeping bags in her living room and I was sad because a certain boy didn’t like me, that she promised me one day some boy out there would appreciate my high cheek bones, and that it was ok, really, that I had gotten my period already.

I want my house to be the one all the kids want to come to, and to be the mom my child/ren and their friends can talk to. I loved the chaos of the Ts’ child-centered home.

Anyway. I will not have 6 children. I may not even ever have two living children. I suck for lamenting that already when here I am with my living child. I am incredibly lucky. But I am only human and I have been very sad sometimes these past few weeks about it. Not all the time, but enough that I need to vent.

It is spring and in this town that means there are pregnant women all over. I was standing on a corner the other day and realized that there were 6 other women in sight and all of them had visible pregnant bellies. My heart twisted, even though I was standing there with my son in his stroller. That is ridiculous.

Even if I had a uterus or a cervix that functioned well without assistance, or without a random lightning strike, I wouldn’t have had 6 children. So it’s not the large family issue. It’s the question of will I ever even have 2. That’s a question I don’t even need to think about right now, and I don’t all that often. But sometimes, sometimes already it is plaguing me.

Not what I needed to read

Salon has an article on a new “profession” – baby planners. My response: so when the baby dies will these folks also help you pick out the gravesite, or the urn? Call your family and friends? Or will they just run away, and send your account to collections if you don’t  pay for the “services” already enjoyed?

Screw this. It makes me nauseous.



Yesterday was seriously, before the evening, one of the best days of my life. I ignored Mother’s Day, pretty much, which is easy enough to do in a college town on a rainy day when school’s out. If there had been lines at the usual brunch places, I’d have just pretended they were the usual lines. But it was pouring, so I didn’t even have to imagine anything. JJ worked and Baby Man and I went out, because he has a wonderful weather guard on his stroller and our apartment is too small for a gray day. And because I’m remembering how few the spring days are around here and how I spent so many of them last year holed up and scared inside.

I don’t want to miss a thing. Had we not lost Natan would I have been so pressed to be conscious of the fleeting nature of every moment with my baby son?

Baby Man and I went to a coffee shop and he napped for awhile in his stroller. Then napped for awhile on my lap. All the while I read a book about the Hungarian Revolution. When Baby Man woke up he sat for a while on my lap. I continued to read while he slapped at the pages. He is far more into my books with their white pages and black letters than his own colorful (anti)-tomes. Then more out of my concern than his, we stopped reading and cuddled for a long while, and he ate. We practiced sitting up on his own and then he flirted with the girl on the couch across from us. He got bored and we left.

Fast forward to the evening and bedtime. He finally agreed to one of my long-held dreams and let me rock him to sleep, singing to him with my terrible voice. He likes to rock but rarely actually falls asleep for the night that way – he tends to get upset as soon as I put him down.

Seriously the best day.

But there was a moment in there earlier in the day when he was napping and I was in the kitchen washing the dishes, that my thoughts wandered from him. I have been planning a trip to my hometown, which has to involve seeing S and her son. As the days get closer I am reluctant. I’m not sure if her son can be around other children, and I am not excited to drive 45 minutes each way for a visit without Baby Man. Not so much because I don’t want to be away from him as not having him there will leave me somehow exposed, vulnerable. It’s easy to not talk about the elephant in the room with him there. Also, I want to bring my mom for another shield, and well, if I can’t bring Baby Man he obviously has to be somewhere else, with someone else. I thought of an even better plan for a shield though. And to prevent the annoyance of a long drive to the country when I will only be there less than 72 hours and have so many (other) people (I want) to see. If the baby can be around other kids, why not get two other friends and their kids together at my sister’s? So that’s out there as a possibility.

But that’s still just talking around what upset me yesterday as I did the dishes. Tash’s post over at Glow in the Woods today really hit home, and at what I was going through 24 hours before she posted it. S is so clearly in the bad 1/3. And just as Tash wrote – it exploded 6 mths after. And it was almost a year ago at this point that we stopped speaking after she made my pain all about her and my being a bad friend to her.

And where are we now? We are speaking and it has not been spoken of. And I can’t do it. And I feel like I am betraying Natan and all of us grieving parents by just tacitly agreeing to ignore it. But I know she will not apologize. That other post a couple of days ago? She will not surprise me like he did. She won’t. For f’s sake when I tried to talk to her about how she abandoned me after my miscarriage she got all weirdly defensive.

I know if I bring it up I will be the bad guy. Because my baby’s dead, buried, gone, no one cares anymore. She’s dealing with the stress of a sick baby. Why should I add to that? I shouldn’t.

Why am I still whining about this? I set myself up by being the good person – although it’s more likely seen among the masses as not being a bad person – and calling her in the first place.

The thing that worries me the most is that I might have made it seem like our conflict was petty, or less important than her crisis, when I dropped it so quickly.

And he didn’t turn to stone

Re: Wabi’s comment that my sis and niece are a perfect match? We all are. Because my response was, oh man, I wish she’d saved it until I had a chance to see it. And then I spent too much time looking online for images of sinus fungus.


I talked to somebody yesterday that I hated for over a year. From our perspective, he was unconscionably mean to Josh a couple of months after Natan passed. From his perspective, Josh was the one out of line. Misunderstanding built upon misunderstanding. It turns out he didn’t know what had happened.

He apologized. He said he should have acted differently. Had he known, he would have. Still, he should have handled it differently. Maybe we’d have worked it out earlier, and things would have been different.

I expected that he would feel bad, but I thought he would get defensive, and tell me that one of us should have told him and that Josh was still wrong, even if he was hurting. He didn’t. He did not make excuses, just expressed regret for it all.

I’m thinking back over the year that I hated him though, and wondering if there’s a lesson for me in it. There’s not. We were the ones hurt. Other people should have stepped up to help, and in this case, they didn’t. We didn’t do anything wrong.

I thought he might take the fact that I’d let it fester a year as an excuse to make us take the blame. He didn’t.

Sometimes people will surprise you.

Her Body Makes Cool Things

It was 1am and my niece, La, couldn’t sleep. She had no fever but was intermittently crying and fussing. She’s just over 16 months old and my sister’s kids have never been good sleepers, so she and my BIL weren’t too concerned. But then, after my sister had sat with her for an hour and her husband took over when he got home because he had the next day off and she didn’t, the crying turned to screaming. She’s been prone to ear infections since she had RSV, so they checked her ears. They were fine. She seemed a bit congested, but that was also frequent since the RSV and her voice had a sort of constant nasally quality to it. My sister checked over all the other extremities, all looked fine there too. La seemed to be calming down so my sister went to bed. My BIL and La fell into a fitful sleep as well, then suddenly at 4am the screaming came on full tilt again. And then there was sneezing. And more sneezing. And coughing. And more sneezing. Finally, an enormous sneeze, and my BIL gets wet and sees something shoot across the room. The room fills with an awful smell, and he gags. La immediately falls into a peaceful sleep. My BIL doesn’t want to turn on the light, so he grabs a flashlight. Plugging his nose, he walks over to where he thinks he saw something fly. He finds an enormous green mass. It’s hard and bigger than La’s nose. Gagging, he picks it up and takes it my sister, who, being in pathology, does not gag at all and could not find it more fascinating. She at first thinks La had shoved spinach up her nose, but can’t think of when they last ate spinach. They check in on La, she seems fine, and the other two kids managed to sleep through the whole event. They go to sleep.

She brings it up at work the next morning. She works mostly on obstetric and pediatric pathology — sees a lot of dead baby stuff sadly — so nose excretions are not her specialty. She’s very excited about this thing out of her kid’s nose, just completely in awe of it. She thinks it must be extraordinary. The chief pathologist though, finds it quite mundane. Just a run of the mill sinus fungus. She’s probably had it up there growing for a long time, possibly since the RSV, possibly even since birth. Nothing strange or extraordinary about it at all.

But for La, it was significant. She’d spent months growing it and many painful hours laboring to push it out of her nose – and her parents marveled at how the human body’s orifices, which look so fixed in space, could have finally and for a brief moment, expanded just enough to release it into the world, a wet, stinky, bloody mass.
I intended to write that post a long time ago, as a way of mocking a post Catherine at Everything’s Under Control linked to, called something like “My Body does Cool Things.” I won’t link to it because you all know what it says. Just another banal post about the amazing beauty of pregnancy and birth – and to add miracle upon miracle (also know as insult to injury) her stomach looked flat and gorgeous just 7 weeks later. Those of us who have birthed multiple children know the belly is not so elastic the second (or third) time, and those of us who were forbidden to exercise know it takes quite a bit of fortitude NOT to physically push yourself too when those hips and back start aching and the four walls of your home begin to look interminably dull and you begin to look at your expanding thighs and butt and wonder if your husband really knows of what he speaks when he promises to love your body no matter how glaring those stretch marks remain and however long it takes you to put on a pair of old pants.

A recent post at Glowinthewoods (this one), brought it all back. And makes me think, almost five months out, how am I feeling about birth. For months I read about it constantly. All I wanted was a live baby, of course, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I wanted a “perfect” birth to compete with my last disastrous one. I’d managed to birth Natan after a week of hell during which I took only one Tylenol, and damn it, I was going to do the same for Baby Man. All the doctors and nurses respected my wishes both times so strongly, no one ever pushed anything on me – mentioned it once maybe, let it go. No one ever said c-section and even now only non-doctors ask me if anyone said anything about a c-section when it became clear this was one hell of a big baby trying to make an appearance.

In the midst of labor with Baby Man, sitting on the birthing ball, very very scared and having flashbacks, came a moment of clarity. I was stupid. I should have taken the stronger pain killers they offered me for Natan. What was the point of all that pain? I had spent months skipping my other job and reading & talking only about birth, and I realized I knew I would be fine if I took an epidural. I realized the baby would be fine. All along, I recognized, I had just wanted to prove that I could do it. I could have a perfect birth. I am not so different from the women I roll my eyes at (jealously….) Stupid. I either could have a perfect birth or I couldn’t – I had nothing to do with it. The pain wasn’t going to kill me, and I had already told the doctors that if the moment came where they felt I needed a c-section, just whisk me off and do it.

Back when we first got pregnant, I thought yoga and exercise and breathing would make labor easier, would make for a healthy mom and baby. After losing Natan, I realized that those things were still good, but would only really make birth easier if it was already going to be easy. And after weeks of prodromal contractions, during which my dysfunctional uterus that had been so over eager to cast out my first son suddenly switched gears and decided to hold onto this one forever, it was clear my body wasn’t interested in easy labor. I was in early labor for weeks, full on labor for 12 hours. My body was going to birth the baby clearly, but no one was going to be fooled into thinking I did it easily just because I didn’t take a drug. Just like my not taking any pain medications while suffering over Natan didn’t mean I was any braver or better of a mother to him.

Anyway, how do I remember labor now, 5 months out? Well, the baby is now babbling away in the other room, so I remember it pretty damn fondly. A perfect day. Nature did exactly what it was supposed to, and cast a foreign substance out of my body intact. Slimy, wet, stinky and screaming, but alive.