For Mo

Nadav

He was here. Four years hasn’t changed that, nor could forty.

Sometimes I wish there were rhyme or reason to the universe, but clearly (to me, anyway) there just isn’t.

There’s never going to be a good reason why I got to bring Ike home safely but Mo didn’t get the same chance with Nadav.

Shit doesn’t happen, in life or in death, for reasons that can actually help us deal with the shit that happens.

There isn’t a damn thing I can say that could help Mo feel less alone…but I can remember. Even if it is in the abstract, which of course it is for me, I can remember what I remember, if not what Mo can. And so I shall.

Counting kicks and crying at my desk at work, wondering how the fuck could this possibly be okay, ever….

He was here.

Just Write

[Oops – this was supposed to publish Saturday, but apparently I saved it as a draft instead…still not gonna proofread, though, so let me know if anything is particularly unintelligible, please and thank you.]

Yet again it’s been ages since I sat in front of a new post screen to write anything other than a letter to Ike; unfortunately, what brings me back again fits my past pattern pretty well. As much as part of me would prefer to let it all go unwritten, the rest of me knows better – this infertility bullshit, my own experiences with RPL, is what prompted me to start writing so many years ago (I think my first post was almost eight years ago, but verifying that can wait for now), so it would be incomplete at best and dishonest at worst to gloss over or omit my latest round, complete with a brand-new-to-me variation: ectopic (probably, anyway?). I am in the car, just starting a long ride home after a week’s vacation, so this is sure to be poorly organized and probably a less than complete account of the whole mess, but my intention is to JUST WRITE.

So much of this pattern is ridiculously predictable for me at this point: not trying/not preventing. At my last annual appointment with my OB, I asked whether I should presume that I would need the same elaborate pharmaceutical cocktail if/when we wanted to try again. He basically said it was up to me, that sometimes it is possible that a successful pregnancy can in some way reset things, so if we wanted to try without all the meds first, feel free. I wouldn’t say I felt very free about it, but I was both hopeful and skeptical that it could be so simple a second time around. Way too scared to actually TRY, as usual, but willing enough to be semi-oblivious and know conceiving was at least possible, timing-wise, especially as it happened mid-Aprilish. Come the beginning of May, I was suspicious, hopeful, terrified to actually test. I was probably four or five days late when I finally did, on a Saturday morning. Clear positive, no squinting required.

Next part of the pattern: the end begins pretty much before the pee’s even dry on the stick. I’d tried to go on about my day as usual, pretending hoping to be self-convincing that it’ll all be fine, so it’s fine, JUST BE FINE. Mike and I even had a conversation about age gaps and another crib versus not converting Ike’s to a toddler bed (not that he ever slept in it, frankly). Stuff we never even pretend to think about for the most part, let alone talk hopefully about. I dared to be pleased that this was the next to last cycle that would have allowed me to escape the AMA label.

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Mike got ready and left for work, Ike woke up and we took our time getting ready for a story-time event at the library, stopping first to meet a friend at a local garden center to pick up tomato and pepper plants. I made it through the stories at the library, but as I was chatting with a few other moms afterward, I had the feeling that I ought to hit the restroom and either confirm my fear or calm my paranoia, hoping for the latter…but finding evidence of the former, of course. Of fucking course. Nothing emergency-level, but clearly more than spotting.

We leave. I ought to have taken Ike home for lunch and a nap, but Mike is still at work and I really don’t want to be alone with my thoughts, so we go to my friend’s house to pick up the plants she hauled for us, and end up just staying for the afternoon. Ike skips his nap in favor of way too much Daniel Tiger and Super Why on Netflix; I send my OB an email to request an order for a Monday beta and crack a beer. That sounds foolish, I know, because it could have just been “normal” bleeding, right? Except, you know, the pattern.

On Monday my beta is 100 even. Two days later (they wanted to wait a week but I said please, no, this is not my first – nor third for, that matter – rodeo) it was down to 63. Seems like a(nother) simple chemical. I go ahead and make a follow-up appointment with my OB. Clearly I may as well go ahead and collect all the prescriptions, then take my time filling them and deciding when to actually put them to use. I am thinking I should try to enjoy the summer and maybe we’ll go for it in the fall, or even wait until winter depending how antsy and anxious (the pattern) I feel. One week later my beta’s down to 17. Seems like a nice steady drop, and the bleeding has already stopped; per the pattern I’ve had pretty minimal pain. Nobody called or emailed me to say they’d ordered another test, and I didn’t assume they had*, my f/u appointment scheduled – meaning I didn’t have another beta drawn for…almost three weeks? Shit. At my appointment I asked all my questions about whether it was worth repeating any blood work (for causes, hoping we might see a reason to eliminate even one of the meds I took for my pregnancy with Ike – not likely); he wrote me scripts for met, clo.mid, pred.nisone, and a folate complex for MTHFR, formulated at a compounding pharmacy (not sure if that test result can vary much over time or not, but I was negative a few years ago); he also ordered a test to check my vitamin D levels, and oh yeah, let’s go ahead and check beta hCG one last time…since that order’s still in the system and all.

So, that was dumb, too. It was back up to 65, and then two days later only down to 52. Because it was so early on, my levels had never been anywhere near high enough for an ultrasound to be of any use, my OB was thinking ectopic. Methotrexate for me. Whee. I will save my rant on the logistics of that whole fucking fiasco for next time. Three days after the shots my beta was 7, and on Ike’s birthday it was < 5.

I am going to call that the end for now, lest I wear out my thumbs or find some reason not to post this at all. It’s a timeline of sorts, at least. I’ll try to come back and rant/reason again soon. I hope this finds anyone still reading well.

* NOT per the pattern

October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day

Despite my high hopes of having written something other than Dear Baby Ikes by now, I’ve…not.  I can’t even remember if I wrote anything at all last year on October 15th, but without going back to check, I suspect not.

I don’t feel the need to retell my story of loss here today (though I should recreate an About page or the like).  Suffice it to say that four miscarriages over five years or so makes for a very long story to tell. I do tell it when it seems to be the right thing to do, but this year it doesn’t feel like it’s my own story that weighs heaviest on my mind. Stuff has been rather…ugly, lately.  Not only for me; a friend’s marriage and a long-term relationship between two other friends both fell apart recently, with no solid indication in either case whether there’s even a chance for them to be put back together. Humpty Fucking Dumpty. That’s not what this day is actually about, of course, but for me that kind of grief touches very close to the sort grief with which I do have more experience. I’ve written previously here and there about the impact of my losses and how I did and didn’t deal with them on my marriage.  I’m not sure I have much new to say about it now, and while I logically know I’m not the only one who probably seems to struggle more than most (at least it seems that way to me), I will never be one to spout platitudes about how it only made us stronger, closer, better as a couple.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to look back with more perspective and see it that way, but I guess I’m still not far enough removed. Someday, I hope.

I always hate this time of year, anyway, mostly because my first miscarriage happened in September, but the way the changes in the daylight and the trees and the seasons always coincide never fails to leave me with a months-long hangover of remembered grief.  Last year I felt a little bit better equipped than usual to cope.  Having a baby will do that, at least in my super-scientific sample size of exactly one.  We even took Ike to the gathering at a local park organized by a local Face2Face group (find one in your area here).  He’s older this year, obviously, and the 7 pm International Wave of Light gets dangerously close to interfering with his bedtime, and he’s got a new tooth coming through, so I’m not going to try to take him to the park this year.  For other reasons, too, it simply is not as appealing to me right now.  The healing vibe has faded, through no fault at all of the organizer or the group, but for me…I just can’t do it this year.

What I have been able to do of late, is reach out and make connections with a couple of women I ordinarily am not very close with, who now unfortunately have their own history with pregnancy loss.  These are more real-life more-than-acquaintances/Face.book friends, but not members of the online ALI community, so in reaching out I did have a bit more trepidation that they wouldn’t be open to talking about it, that I’d end up hurting feelings more than I would be able to help. Thankfully that wasn’t the case in either situation, and both seemed somewhat relieved or at least touched and not hurt that I’d brought up the subject seemingly out of nowhere.  Their stories aren’t mine to tell; I could probably do so making them anonymous, but that isn’t really the point I want to make today.  I find it quite hard to articulate the gratitude I have for the ability to reach out and make those connections.  Like we often say, it’s not a club anyone wants to join, and there is of course nothing about their losses that actually makes me happy, but I am so very glad to have felt brave enough to reach out and offer to just listen, if nothing else.  It’s not something I could have ever done without having lived my own bit of hell. The community of ALI bloggers has been an unending and ever-present source of support when I’ve needed it (and hopefully I’ve been able to lend support back as well), and it felt rather amazing to take the risk and extend that support rather spontaneously to women who probably have no idea that an ALI community exists.  Paying it forward, I hope.

So that is my take on October 15th this year.  As you remember the babies that aren’t here with you or with your loved ones, look around and take the risk of reaching out.  Bet that saying something is going to help someone much more than saying nothing.  There will be many names on my mind this evening as I light my candles, and while I’d never wish for the list to grow, I hope that those grieving can have the tiniest bit of comfort knowing that they aren’t the only ones who will never forget.

One Year

I wanted to put this up again, as I am thinking today especially of Mo and Nadav and Baby-lon 5, and of Marwil and Samuel, and of Anna and her little one, and of all babylost mamas.
I am still angry that your lives are not now as they were once imagined, and I promise to never, ever forget your children.  There are times that I feel so very guilty for having been lucky.  I wish that there were something, anything, that I could do that would actually help make it better.  Instead, I abide with you, always.

Newtown

It’s now Sunday evening Monday morning, and I’m still having a hard time grasping what happened in Connecticut on Friday.  I saw some headlines via Facebook on Friday morning shortly before we headed into our lunchtime holiday party, and remained fairly glued to my phone throughout, hoping that the initially reported numbers of dead children would be some kind of mathematical fuckup, a false accounting, anything that would make that final number go down, not up by one or two more in the end.  I tried to not think about it and participate in the silly reindeer games during the party, but laughing and enjoying myself felt so horribly wrong.  I desperately wanted to just get up, walk out to the parking lot, and drive to my mom’s house and hold Ike. When I got there a few hours later, she hadn’t even heard the news yet.  I didn’t want to tell her.

I have tried to avoid the news, at least televised – I definitely do not want to see small children trying to explain what they had seen.  I don’t have anything brilliantly insightful to say about it.  It’s horrifying. No explanation could possibly be satisfying.  I don’t know that there is anything we can do to truly prevent all recurrences, but I also don’t think that we should live in fear of something you can never see coming anyway.  I am just trying to enjoy my child, every second that I have the opportunity.  I don’t know what else I can do, other than hold on tight, and still know that I’ll have to let go at times as well.  I am thankful that Ike is still way too young to need an explanation from us.  How can you explain the incomprehensible?

I have seen references a hundred times this weekend – look for the helpers.  There are bad people that do bad things, but most people are helpers.  Thanks, Mister Rogers, for helping us remember that.

What We Say

Not sure where to start.  I really liked Belle’s idea to go half-mast, so even though I didn’t post that intention, it’s felt right to leave Nadav’s name up at the top of the page as long as I have.  To stop the world in the small way that I could, for Mo.  Even now I hate to “move on,” blog-wise, though I know I must, just as she is starting to write so beautifully for her son.  I’ve starred so many posts in the past couple of weeks.  I guess what I mean to say is what she said, and what she said, and what she said about what I said.  It still just blows my mind how close we can feel to those we don’t “know” in a conventional sense – when you know what someone is going through or has been through because you’ve been through something similar yourself, it somehow forges a very powerful connection, whether you can pair it with facial recognition on the street or not.  So while I know I need to continue what I’ve been doing here, writing about my own so-far-so-good-fingers-crossed pregnancy and how (usually) I manage to cope with the reality that it is both thrilling and amazing and yet also completely terrifying every single minute of every single day, it doesn’t mean that I will ever in a thousand million years forget Nadav and Samuel and what their existences have meant to their mothers, their families, and to the wider ALI community.  While nobody would set out to be a member of a club that requires infertility or loss to qualify for membership, the way that this community comes together in times of grief is so touching, so healing…it is almost a sort of silver lining to the worst ever storm cloud that these intensely personal tragedies allow others in pain to find so much support, because we’re willing to share them.  Just clicking around and following links in posts written in support of Mo, I found handfuls of bloggers that have clearly been just on the outskirts of the circle I’ve lurked in for a long time.  So the circle becomes wider.  It’s that awful double-edged sword – you’d never ever wish these things on your worst enemy…but when you find yourself in deep, it’s invaluable to know there are people out there who can genuinely understand and not judge how you process and cope, because they have been there too.

And as marwil commented a few posts down, it helps to find others in different parts of the “moving on” process.  (I need to keep that in air quotes, because we all sadly know that while life goes on in most cases, you can never truly leave your losses behind completely.)  I definitely had days, many of them, when I couldn’t bear to read about a blogger’s healthy, progressing pregnancy or exciting adoption news, no matter how many losses I may have known she lived through, because I didn’t at the time know how to or wasn’t ready to believe that I’d ever get there myself. But it helped to know that it can happen, even if I can only now see that in retrospect.  And it helps to know that while you’re getting there, and when you arrive, it doesn’t have to be easy, or perfect, or only cherished and never worried about.  It helps to know that it can be what it can be, and that it’s just fine exactly as it is.  That it’s REAL, and doesn’t need to be constantly polished and presented to the world as the ideal that nobody ever really lives up to anyway.  At every point, we can actually help each other, rather than be part of the constant stream of YOUR DOING IT WRONG (sic) that seems to comprise most of the assvice one finds for dealing with infertility/loss/pregnancy/adopting/parenting.

So there is a new button in the sidebar – PAIL (parenting/pregnant after infertility & loss).  I still sometimes, often, feel like a fraud, like a fool to believe that this pregnancy will end well, with me as a mother of a living child…but I’m guessing that by the time I read through each of the blogs on the list, I’ll again realize that I’m far from the only one to have felt this way.  Thanks to Elphaba for putting this together.  May we all “make it to the other side,” and keep such good company all along the way.

(23w2d)