PagesThe Hospital: Trying to save our babies, moment by moment --via Caring Bridge

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Is grief a mutating virus?

Or a crystal in the light?  Just when my eyes seem to have conceptualized the awful totality, a slight breeze or a cloud or the earth's rotation shifts the input and fragmented light blinds me with new glare, more or less intense, striking a chord within me that I didn't know existed. Over and over and over.  I am so restless and yet not able to focus long enough to create a plan or solution to this irritable lack of peace.  I can understand the appeal of drugs and alcohol, perhaps to numb these feelings, perhaps to make everything seem as strange and unfamiliar as this devastating loss.

We now have all the pieces to put together our babies memorial cards with the invitations to their service and the thank you cards.  Photos of our tiny babies accompanied by their unbelievably small and perfect footprints, together on the page as they never were outside the womb.  The last step is for me to glue the tiny hearts I crocheted to the slips of pink card stock thanking everyone for their kindnesses.  I can't quite make myself.  It's not a hard task.  These hearts have been one of my primary coping mechanisms, when I feel like I can't breathe, when I'm overwhelmed with the idea of time continuing, I have been able to focus on each of the three stitches necessary to make a heart.  Magic ring, chain four, triple crochet three, double crochet three, triple crochet one and repeat in reverse.  Like my experience as a mom, this is a very limited activity.  I learned these three stitches from youtube and have never crocheted anything else.  Glueing these hearts to cards announcing our babies' life and death is another finalization of their permanent absence.

My love and grief are creating tangible shifts in the light, just enough to render me blind and directionless.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

exploding lawnmowers and dog poop

Woke up this morning as the overwhelming sadness crashed over me and pulled me in.  Why are some days so much harder than others?  I dreamed last night that I was responsible for keeping the tiniest elephant alive; it fit in the palm of my hand.  I kept forgetting it needed me and then scrambling to make sure it had water and food and was warm enough.  It drank water out of the palm of my other hand.  I could feel its tiny trunk brushing against me. I decided to mow the lawn to try to move around, do something that would have visible results and not require any thinking.  Then smoke and poop.  There you have it, can't take care of my dream elephant, can't mow the lawn.  Breathing - so far that is the only task I've successfully managed today.

Monday, March 16, 2015


The cable's out.  No cable repair for a week.  I thought about telling the customer service representative that my babies died and the tv is a sort of drug that I cannot stand to go without, that HGTV must be playing in the background of my lonely days, but I managed not to.

I have been mostly avoiding music.  Music with my mom were some of my happiest childhood memories.  I had a anxious feeling during my pregnancy when I realized my music collection isn't up to snuff.  How could I be a good mom without the White Album?  What kind of parent doesn't even own the White Album?  Then I realized everything is on youtube and I calmed down.  I had thought we would rock and sing, dance and sing, clean and sing.  Every song I heard I imagined hearing again with my son and daughter.  Now it stings, all songs.

In the absence of cable I turned on a documentary about Neil Young*.  Only it isn't a documentary, just a concert with a casual lead-in while everyone is driving to the venue.  And I am on the sofa after my first day back at work, after receiving a message from a distant friend excitedly asking if I've had the babies, reading loss blogs, cold, wrapped in a blanket and all of a sudden I felt a little warmer.  Not my feet, they're freezing, but my heart.  My shredded heart feels a little softer.

Is it okay for me to feel comfort?  Am I letting my babies down?  I didn't even know that I felt like I had to only think of them, that I felt like if there wasn't succor for them there could not be any for me either.  Am I less of a mom if I can relax for a minute?  I am full of S and G, every minute, that remains steady and unchangeable.  Tears streaming down my cheeks, this moment of almost comfort, is full of sadness a sort of peaceful sadness.

*Music from my childhood and youth--no indie rock, blues or folk here today.

Sunday, March 15, 2015


I am afraid that returning to work will make it seem like my babies were just a skip in the record.  Songs playing in predetermined order and then, oops, dust on the needle, glad it wasn't something that would have ruined the record.  My babies are the record, the needle, and the song, anything that plays from now on exists within the skip.

I am trying to figure out something that my wife and I could do this summer, like a vacation, but without the expectations that go along with that word.  A vacation is what happy people do or people at least trying to be happy.  Who can say where we'll mentally be in June but I'm confident it won't be vacation happy.  How do you plan a vacation from within the skip?

We actually talked to a travel agent even though we don't have a lot to spend.  We cannot figure it out and heard they will now plan small trips.  We made her tear up at work.  We realized in the moment that we needed to say that we lost our children b/c we have to be somewhere without a lot of children and joyous children sounds.  Probably not something that every walk-in says with our level of urgency.  Days later we went to see a jeweler because I would really like to have a ring to represent my babies.  I want something tangible and unique that I can touch constantly.  R had met the jeweler before and really liked him so we checked to make sure he had time and went to his studio/store.  In describing what we wanted of course we said we had lost both our children.  He had greeted us jovially until we said why we were there.  It immediately looked like someone had punched him in the gut and he began crying.

There is something I appreciate in these emotional responses, a feeling of connectivity and community.   At the same time I also feel guilt, for revealing the skip to an unsuspecting, caring person.  It seems like we should be wearing a signal, mourning attire or the sign they put on our door in the hospital.  Something to warn people because there are a lot of people at my work and a whole lotta people on vacation.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Sweaty in the pits

I haven't left the house much since returning home from the hospital except to walk the dog in the mid-afternoon when I am unlikely to see another person I know.  The few exceptions include going to counseling every week, trips to the bank and a few off-time visits to the grocery store.  I have found that going anywhere around people makes me feel anxious and sweaty--literally insanely wet armpits have occurred.  Even at home, when focusing on work I am having issues.  I was working on an email and while it was somewhat of a politically delicate email, normally I could have written and sent it in 10 minutes.  The first realization that there was an issue became apparent when I noticed that it took me about 40 minutes to write.  In addition I had had to keep rereading what I had written because I couldn't remember which parts I had already said and which needed to be constructed.  The more obvious problem for anyone who has to look at me is that I was totally sweaty in the pits, to the point that I had to get up and change my shirt even though I was home alone.  I think this is a clear indication that I am really not fit for anything but taking care of my babies, even in their absence.

Two very kind co-workers are coming over on their lunch break tomorrow and I have to take the  doglet to the vet.  I am testing myself.  Can I actually see them or will I cancel at the last minute?  What will we talk about during this lunch?  Will I be able to drive out to the vet?  If there is something wrong* with our dog, what will happen then?  How many times will I have to change my shirt?  Will I sweat through a shirt and a sweatshirt?

Love you S and G.

*K has an odd growth on her tail.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Half-pops, landfills and mucous

I have become super conscious of the divide between exterior and interior.  Obviously this is related to my external body and the breach that occurred when my cervix dilated, the mucous plug fell out, S's amniotic sac bulged and an infection developed (there is also the possibility that the infection preceded everything else, I just don't believe that is what happened).  Ultimately the difference between interior and exterior, between life and death, was made of mucous.  Aside from wondering about the idiocy of having mucous as the protective barrier for my tiny, perfect babies; I have also been thinking about interior and exterior as a myth, the reality is permeability.

Our neighbor's delinquent bother and sister-in-law ran over our property and destroyed many planting  and building supplies.  The snow fell while we were joyously pregnant and in Puerto Rico so the crushed pile remained buried until we returned home from the hospital, minus two.  A couple weeks ago my wife rented a truck and took everything to the county landfill.  Although I can't lift anything of substantial weight, I rode along.  I had only ever been to the small dump in my rural home town as a child, this landfill was nothing like that.  The dump was just a big hole located down a dirt road, just like you find on "Alice's Restaurant." The landfill is an industry.  It took quite a while for R to empty the truck, while she worked I googled.  I learned that modern landfills are predicated on the belief that garbage, and the toxic byproducts, can be sealed in plastic.  There are all sorts of technical protective measures, off-gassing, ponds to catch rain water run off, compaction of the trash into "cells," but ultimately our entire waste system relies on impermeability between an interior and an exterior.

R had created a "snack pack" kit for me to help me keep my caloric intake up to ensure the health of our children.  A new addition that I did not get to eat before the birth of our babies was "Half-pops," which are basically my favorite part of a serving of popcorn.  I ate some last night, well I ate a whole bag because apparently I never want to fit into my pants.  My friend google revealed that half-pops can be made at home if I first soak the kernels in a brine for four days to break down the barrier that protects the seed from the world at large.  Popcorn is created when the heat from the pan and oil is so great that it breaks the seal as the corn pops -- if the seal is broken before the heat then half-pops result.

The boundary between inside and out, popcorn and half-pops, clean water and pollution, life and death is dissolvable with a little salt, a puncture or an incompetent cervix.  Suddenly half-pops don't sound like the best idea.  I want to believe in the permanence of protective barriers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Angry with concepts

I am furious with February.  How can the month not have my son's birth date in it?  Are you freaking kidding me?  My son did not have a one month birth/passing date in February.  I have been trying to let it go because what other choice do I really have but I am still mad about it.  It's not like February 17, my daughter's one month anniversary was a super awesome day or anything but it EXISTED.  I understand being upset about babies, pregnant people, being asked "how are you doing" for the 10,000th time but I didn't expect to be so upset by a month.  Then again, when I made it to 14 weeks pregnant, I foolishly expected to have two living, breathing, screaming, laughing babies in my life forever.

Back to work?

I had three choices, return to work the third week in March full time, return to work in April - but with no vacation possible for the whole summer when my wife has a break or return to work half time beginning yesterday.  I chose to return half time beginning yesterday.  It sucks.  I know I am so fortunate: I've been able to stay out of work for a month (after a month in the hospital), I have options and most significantly, I am returning remotely for these first two weeks back.  My supervisor has been very supportive and is letting me work on projects rather than the daily grind for these first two weeks.  He did mention that I could come to work for specific meetings as needed--he obviously has not read my blog and has no idea that I will be showing up in maternity pajama bottoms as I have no pants.

I have also realized how much I relay on my time spent reading other blogs and forums throughout the day.  Spending four hours yesterday working made me feel anxious.  Not only has the world seemed to miss that the two most important people ever are missing and mistakenly gone on with their every day lives and complaints, interacting with work emails is about the loneliest thing I've ever done after weeks of only reading in the company of women who've had similar losses.  The Compassionate Friends, MISS Foundation, Stirrup Queens associated blogs, and abbyloopers are my daily companions and I am so grateful for them.