Saturday, June 28, 2008

I find it exhausting...


Maintaining friendships. 

I sound like an uber bitch writing it, but I think it needs to be said. Those of you reading this who don't belong to the 'club' won't understand it. You will assume that it's been 5 months, I should be getting 'better', whatever the hell that means. I should be cheerful and thinking about future. Time heals everything.

When you lose a baby, all time does is remind you of what you don't have. My son should be 2 months old right now, grinning at us, cooing, getting into a pattern of finally sleeping more through the night. I go into malls, or restaurants and see little kids, and I think that it will be years before I get to see my husband lift a child on the back of his shoulders, or smile that patient daddy smile to them. 

When my friends call, most of the time I don't want to talk to them. I don't want to tell them how work is, or how hot it is here, or how I am doing. I want to tell them that I am pissed that I was one of the chosen. The one in 9,000 who got zinged with a fatally mutated child. I'm angry that I have to go through this alone, and that I have to explain myself in order to help guide everyone's insecurities about seeing me this way. (And please don't tell me I am not alone. Feeling sad/bad for me is not the same as going through this with me, or understanding what it means to wake up everyday and see a box that holds what remains of your hopes and dreams). 

I am tired of being normal for people. I am tired of people assuming that I am ok and that life is the same as it was before Ronan died. Oh, good, she's back to normal! 

Normal don't come around here no more....

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Pit


I'm lost. Help. 

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Men


Cyber friends in crisis do not bode well for my mental health. Antigone is having issues and thus has sent me on a mini-tirade of waxing poetic and hypothesizing as to why a man would lose his shit and utter these horrible words. 

I remember having a conversation with Peyton early on about how married men (and women) sometimes utter the most horrible words to their spouses, words that they would never utter to complete strangers. Would a man go up to a random pregnant woman and say fuck you I wish you'd kill your unborn child? Yet they would utter these words to the women that they have vowed to love, honor and cherish. Why is it unacceptable to say it to strangers, but acceptable in their heads to say it to their wives? Does a sense of ownership make things alright?

Is it anger? Frustration? Or is this man just mentally ill? 

I have seen this kind of behavior several times on the message boards. Men who lose their shit with their wives, walk out because the stress of losing a baby is too much. Divorce them stating 'I didn't sign up for this' as if marriage is a contract of skipping through a field of poppies. Do you think the women signed up to lose their minds along with their children? Do men actually think leaving is helping their wives? Let's add betrayal to utter heartbreak. The rock that we should be anchored to crumbles under one pound of a sledgehammer. What does that say about men as a species? 

I know I'm generalizing. Some men have stayed. My man stayed. But, I gotta tell you, it was one of the first things I asked him after we saw the ultrasound that fateful night. After the nurse left,  I asked "Are you going to leave me?" He looked at me like I was insane. But, I bet you money I wasn't the only one to ask that question. It must mean that the fear stems from something deep and learned. 

Am I really lucky or are all men just lying in wait? I bet if you ask the women whose husbands left, some would tell you that it came out of left field. They were eating dinner one night discussing nursery colors, and the man just up and announces he's through, leaving the women mouth gaping, forks hanging mid-air. 

I don't take anything for granted right now. My worst fear has already been realized. My second worst fear is always lying in the shade, coiled, waiting to strike if the wind blows in the right direction or something has rustled it from its deep slumber.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I am 17. He is 23. It was the summer before my senior year in high school. He was introduced to me by an older friend. She invited me to Pizza Hut outta the blue, and there he was. Dark hair. Handsome. Ridiculously cute. He had met me a few months before and had taken a liking to me and asked her to arrange another meeting.

We had Hawaiian pizza that night. On pan crust. We talked for hours about nothing. I was oblivious to the fact that he had any interest in me. My friend asked if I could come back to her place and hang out. He wanted to be alone with me, but again, I was oblivious. 

It took him kissing me on the couch later that night that I got a clue. His kisses were gentle and filled with experience. He told me I was delicious. The boys I had kissed up until that moment were my age. Sloppy tongues darting in and out of my mouth. I thought I was the luckiest girl in the world.

Nothing happened more than these stolen moments. Frenzied kisses. He always grabbed my shirt in the back when he kissed me, wrinkling it. No one kissed me like that ever again. He said he cared about me, but told me straight up that he knew I wanted to go to medical school, and he didn't want to keep me in that small town. I actually thanked him when he broke up with me. Then I found out a few weeks later he was dating a doctor from the hospital where he was a tech, and he didn't want to be bothered with a high school girl anymore. 

Here I sit, 16 years later, wallowing in the pit, missing my son with all that is left of my soul, and all I can do is remember some ass who broke my heart in high school. 

What is wrong with this picture?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I miss you. 

I miss you.

I miss you.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tired


Tim Russert dropped dead from a heart attack. He was 58. I am watching his colleagues immortalize him. The amount of effort it must take for Tom Brokaw not to break down and cry in front of the camera, weeping that one of his best friends is dead, truly boggles the mind. 

If one of my best friends died, I would be near hysterics. And I don't think it's just because I'm a girl.

What is it about death and the inherent need to hide away, mourn deeply in private? I felt that way a little in the hospital. That night, the nurse left us in the examination room after we found out there was no heartbeat. I waited until the door closed before I allowed myself to cry. I didn't want to cry in front of her. She was a liar, telling me minutes before that there was a good chance that Ronan was fine. Sometimes babies hide from the doppler. I didn't want to show her a single, solitary tear. 

A few years ago, I used to watch Six Feet Under, a gem of a show on HBO. In the pilot, Nathaniel, the father of Nate, David, and Claire dies in a car accident on Christmas Eve on the way to pick Nate up from the airport. Nathaniel was a funeral home director, and David, the good son has stayed behind and helped run the family business while Nate was granola-ing it up in Seattle. As they are preparing for the funeral, Nate begins to feel like the funeral business is just too sterile for how he is feeling. 

When we lost Ronan, the pilot funeral scene was running through my mind (especially how Ruth (Nathaniel's wife) acted at the grave site), because this is how I wanted to act in the hospital room. If I had acted this way, they would have sedated me, taken me up for observation to the Psych Ward. But no, I made sure everyone else in the room was ok. Kept everything to a dull roar. I didn't have my meltdown until a few days later, at home, where I almost vomited from crying so hard, and I laid down in defeat, too exhausted to cry another tear. 


Watching this scene again tonight, I totally hear myself in Nate's voice.

Knowing what I know now, I would have told David to fuck off too. 






Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Letter

Peyton handed me the mail, the hand-written, addressed to me envelope on top. I recognized her writing right away. Had the nagging sensation all month that I should contact her somehow because last time we talked she knew I was pregnant with Ronan. She didn't know he died. I assumed this was the traditional "Hey what's up with you? And by the way, how is that baby doing?" letter. I had written a couple of them myself to friends I only spoke to on occasion. I am now kicking myself because if I had acted on my gut, I would have intercepted her formal well-wishes on what she assumed was my 9-month worry-free pregnancy resulting in a perfect, healthy, screaming baby. 

I stared at the letter, sighed and slowly opened it. I hate this. I so fucking hate this. Why did I tell anyone I was pregnant?!? Next time I will just deliver and send out cards after the fact. 

As I stare at the flowered design on the heavy, expensive paper, I am suddenly reminded of when my friend/grad school colleague Jess happened to drop me an e-mail to ask if I had my baby yet. That was in March and I was still reeling from pain, the mere utterance of the whereabouts of my son equated to my skin being grated on a Microplane. I felt horribly guilty writing those words 'stillbirth' in my reply, as to shatter yet another innocent's view on the world. There she would be, opening up my reply, which in her mind would be 'no, not yet!' or 'yes, he's here and doing great!' and she gets slammed with 'Dear Jess, something horrible happened....'. She wrote back that she cried when she read it. I wanted to write back: Yes. Yes, everyone I told has cried. Hearts were breaking around the world. My friend from Nigeria wrote me and said that he was devastated that 'our son' was taken back to the Almighty, and it was truly a difficult moment for 'us', reminding me that Ronan belonged (in part) to everyone who loved us.   

I did a mental tabulation before I opened the card of who else knew I was pregnant but didn't know the outcome. How many more fucking times would I have to field off questions about my missing son?

This should be it, I sighed, opening the card. I think everyone knows or knows someone who knows. 

I glance at the letter, get a glimpse at the words "I'm so sorry" and immediately closed the card. 

I wasn't prepared for sympathy. 

Monday, June 9, 2008

Home

Logan Airport 11am

My flight is in a couple of hours, yet here I am, sitting in a nearly deserted terminal praying to a cosmic god to get me home sometime before I turn 34. 

I have had my fill of New England. Even though Peyton was here and we enjoyed each other's company, I am tired of being nickled and dimed to death by hotels, and want to sleep in my own damn bed, with my own firm pillows, covered by a blue and white quilt, with a shorty-Jack laying on his back between mine and Peyton's pillows, snoring and showing me his speckled belly. 

God I miss that damn dog. 

I am not looking forward to going back to work tomorrow. I am looking forward to eating normally again. Deep down I am a fruit and granola girl, and when I spend more than a week eating garbage, no matter how great tasting, my stomach starts to rebel. Badly. I have been pretty (ugh) feeling for about 3 days now. I am chomping on some hummus from Logan's terminal, drinking a Naked Smoothie, trying to jump start normality. Here's hoping...

This is the first time since we began 'vacationing' in the New England that we had any sort of money. We flew, we rented a car, we shopped and didn't really blink at the amount of money we were spending, we ate nice dinners, we added amenities to the room, we stayed in a Hilton (albeit, via Hotwire.com) instead of a Super 8, we valet parked, tipped the drivers, tipped the bellmen, tipped the waiters 25%. It was truly a surreal experience. 

And now, I am going back home, placing my thermostat on 76, brown-bagging my lunches, scoping high and low for the cheapest gas in town. 

You can take the poor girl out of the small Texas town, bring her up North and let her pretend for a little while, but inadvertently, the poor girl mentality tends to linger....



Tuesday, June 3, 2008


There is something delectably delicious about eating a Key Lime tartlet while laying back on 6 fluffy pillows on your hotel room king-sized bed. 

{Sigh}

I took advantage of the hotel shuttle and went for a walk in Boston Common this afternoon. It was perfect weather, 70s, and the sun was setting in that mid-afternoon beauty. I snapped a few pictures and tried to take in all that I was seeing...

What I inherently miss about the North is how everyone spills outside once the weather gets warmer. Everyone feels this pull, black, white, yellow, brown, rich, poor, 3-piece suit wearer, hippie tree hugger. 

I saw an older stock-broker type man sit on a bench, tie undone, watching the baby ducklings in the pond. He smiled a slight smile, truly hidden unless you were looking for it. The ducks brought him a private happiness or maybe some peace, restoring his faith in simplistic beauty. On my walk I saw a young Hispanic man, tatted to hell sitting in the back by the Ether Monument people watching. 2 Harvard students with laptops were sitting on the bench next to him. Men with baby carriages were laying on the grass with their newborns on their strong chests.

In the back corner of the park, I noticed a man with a yellow lab with a bright red neckerchief sitting by him, and across from him, a couple completely entangled in each other. They were kissing so passionately, I felt the need to stop and take them in. (I was standing pretty far away, so they couldn't really see the strange girl with the camera staring at them).

They were sitting on the park bench. She was wearing a Matsuzaka jersey, he was wearing a blue t-shirt. When he kissed her, you could tell the world stopped and all that he knew was that very moment. He grabbed her so forcefully that the #18 was transformed into #8. They kissed for a long time, broke apart, kissed again. Every time they came up for air, the man looked drunk with passion. Finally, after a few minutes, they felt the need to leave, take their love home--in private. They kissed 3 more times, when they stood up, each time longer than the other before they finally exited the park. 

I walked away thinking about young love, and then wondered if they were secret lovers. I know there are people who are that in love when they first start out, but the passion that showed struck me as forbidden love rather than new love. 

I made my way back and sat down back by the stock broker. Took my turn watching the ducklings. Practiced my hidden smile. It is days like this that I am reminded that there is still life to be lived, that Ronan is in the light that makes its pattern across the water, the breath that causes those little creatures to make their peep, and the peace that sometimes enters my soul when I least expect it. 



Monday, June 2, 2008

Old friends

The vow to not speak to anyone really didn't work so well today.

I went by the poster of an old colleague back from my days in grad school bacteria world. He is British and kinda proper, but we have good talks and he makes me feel smart and useful. 

While I was at this poster, a familiar girl walked by---my friend Lynne. 

Lynne worked in the lab next to mine when I was in grad school, and we had a good rapport. Before I left, we had a good talk, especially about children. Lynne had suffered from infertility and a successful treatment resulted in a triplet pregnancy. Unfortunately, though, she went into premature labor at 23 weeks and lost all but 1 boy after a long stint in the  NICU. A couple of years later, she spontaneously got pregnant naturally with a daughter, and successfully carried her to term.

When Ronan died, I wanted to contact her. She was really the only other person on the planet that I personally knew who had gone through something similar to me. I could never bring myself to call, not knowing how to start a conversation with "Hi Lynne, how are you? And your kids? The reason I'm calling is that I am drowning in deadbaby land. Please help me."

She hugged me and asked how I was, and I felt the tears come. I told her I had a hard year, and told her I lost Ronan in January. She was very supportive, hugged me as I tried to get myself together in the middle of a mass of people. She offered her support, gave good advice and promised that it does get easier. 

By the afternoon, I saw the 3 people from my old job. A tech I affectionately called "Linder" because she was from Bah-ston and her accent always made her name Linda, sound like Linder. She was excited to be at a meeting and offered hugs and support. My old supervisor was also there and hugged me. Later on she babbled and said that she could hardly believe when she heard that Ronan had died because she had JUST talked to me that day. (And she had. The day Ronan died I was preparing a presentation at my alma mater, and she had e-mailed me a couple of times that day. By that afternoon, I realized he had stopped moving and by evening we were in L&D looking at an ultrasound of my boy's still heart).  I uh-huhed a lot, and realized that her string of sentences weren't getting any shorter and that she was very nervous and had that look--like the flight part of fight or flight was about to be activated.

I made a discreet exit to put her out of her misery and found my old 'boss' and he smiled as he saw me walking up to him. We have always had an interesting relationship, compounded by the fact that we had the same professional degree but I was technically his research tech for a year, creating some minor conflict with us.  When I left that job, our relationship improved significantly, and when Ronan died, he was one of the few to e-mail me to check on me when so many were silent. 

"Hi," I said softly.
He hugged me for a long time and it spoke volumes to me. 

I find that Ronan's death really resonated with people. I think his death made some people take note of their own lives and children. Some people took better stock of their relationships, and some people were just thrown that bad things can happen to people that they know/care about. 

I am still amazed how our children can cause a ripple effect, their tiny fingers dipped into the center of a crystal clear pool of water, the waves reaching out to the outskirts of the pond where people standing so far away can still feel it.

I try not to imagine the impact my son would have had if he had lived....

Sunday, June 1, 2008

4 am. My alarm brings me out of a fitful sleep. My flight is way too early this morning. My head hurts and my stomach is sour. I have only been asleep for 5 hours. I am not looking forward to this day at all. 

Typical.

I take a quick shower. The butterflies are flapping their wings, causing a tsunami in my stomach. I hate traveling. I especially hate traveling this early in the morning.

I wake up Peyton and marvel at the way his body is draped lazily half in and half out of our blue sheets. He is stalling. We both are. We are one of those couples that don't like to be away from each other. People always rib me because we talk on the phone 100X a day when we are apart from each other. My grad school colleague Becky called us 'too cute' when we attended this very conference together back in New Orleans in 2004. Becky and I spent the afternoon walking around by the river, shopping, and Peyton and I must have talked 5 times during those few hours. 

"What do you guys talk about?" she asked.

"Different things. If I see something funny, I call him, or if I think he would like something I saw in a store, I call him. He does the same thing," I mumbled, feeling a strange sort of call out.

You actually like to talk to your husband? You love your husband! How utterly bizarre!

Was it really so strange? I didn't have a lot to compare to. She called her boyfriend every night before she went to bed, or out to Bourbon Street to go get a few drinks. I was the type to have 1 drink, walk back to the hotel with some snacks, call Peyton and spend 30 minutes or so rehashing our day in great detail. 

I thought about how I would miss him when I am here in Boston as he is driving me to the airport. There is hardly a soul on the road at 4:45. I remember a terrible story about how my Microbiology professor lost his wife and child in a car accident as he was waiting to be picked up at the airport. I try to shake that image out of my head. Back before (you know, before) I would be a little excited to be going to a city to get away for a little while. A nice break. Get to meet new people and see new things. I especially love New England, taking little gleeful moments when somebody says "c-ah" or "b-ah" instead of car or bar. Love it. 

Now, it's just a pain in the ass thing I have to do for my job. 

I will be going through motions of the science thang tomorrow. I saw all these youngins with their poster tubes on the airplane. All the grad school girls, 20-somethings, hair pulled back, wearing sharp, Lisa Loeb glasses with not a scrap of make-up on.  A few years ago I was them. Now, I am a 'professional'.  I do not feel the stress of this meeting, the need to mingle and network. I have a job. I have a career. I am wondering if I can get away without talking to a single person when I am here, make the days go by quicker, until the day that I can meet up with Peyton. 

(I know that is not humanly possible....I know too many goddamn people at this meeting....)

{Sigh} A girl can dream, can't she?