Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry In-Between

It was a busy holiday. Lots of family with lots of roller coaster emotions.

Great highs, great big lows. My only living grandmother suffered a stroke a few months ago and is in a nursing facility. She is slowly regaining the movement of her right side. Her speech is slurred and she is eating baby food. She wept when she saw us, and especially when Radha held out a hand to her.

"It's part of the stroke---the process," my step-mother explained, repeating how the staff psychologists explained the weeping to them a few weeks ago.

Sitting there, half paralyzed, watching your family and life pass you by, unable to participate, hardly able to explain what the hell you need or want at any given moment, hell I would be weeping too. People often mutter that getting old---that kind of old when you are basically digressing back into a child---is the worst thing that can happen to you. I often wonder if it is.

I sat and watched my grandmother during these weepy episodes, and I could see her feel the frustration, the fear, the hopelessness, and then she would wipe her eyes, tell herself that it's ok, reassure herself that she could handle this, and she would reengage in the conversation.

It was exactly how I was in the hospital before Ronan was delivered.

If I have learned anything through these past couple of years (other than the fact that I am cut from the same cloth as my grandmother) is that many of the things that come our way, bad and worse, from our birth until our death, are survivable.

Wishing all of you beautiful survivors a wonderful new year.....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Viability

I read about the Duggar’s 19th child Josie being born at 25 weeks at a tiny 1 lb 6 oz last week, and I was filled with conflicting emotions...

I was angry that the media underplayed how serious the situation is. Like severe prematurity was just a small blip---no big deal. A little stay in the NICU and all will be magically better!!!

Never mind the 20% survival rate at this age. And never mind the 90% neurological issues within that 20% survival rate.

Then I thought a little more, and laughed bitterly because in the Duggar world, (where the only loss they had was an early miscarriage their first try out that resulted in the abandoning of all birth control whatsoever), this would probably, in fact, be magically better. And then I became pissed again because sometimes I feel like some people never really experience reality first hand--and witness how it can crap on other people. Repeatedly. I was chatting with my friend M, a doctor who trained in Pediatrics, about this situation, and I was bitching that my first try at motherhood I got dinged with Trisomy 18. Nineteen babies in and this is the first scary, shit experience that they face?!?

Which brought me back to my ranting about faith…. is it truly God who chooses the path, or is it really the luck of the draw? If you are on the argument side of God’s blessings to those who believe, I would be happy to point out the wonderful and faithful DBL mommies who prayed for their miracle at 25 weeks (or later), and only were allowed a precious few minutes or hours before (or none at all) before the Lord took their children away. Many their first child. Many their only child…..Not their 19th.

It is a bitter pill to swallow, and a tangled web I weave. As my faith is being held up with toothpicks during this time, I don’t want to succumb to the ugliness that points and compares lives and blessings. I don’t want to lament about how someone has it so easy and some have it so freakin’ bad. I don’t want to know why some women can have 18 children with no problems, and why some can only have 1, with a massive amount of help, only to lose them.

My heart is heavy enough as it is. I see little boys who are playing with trucks, who are running around, jumping and laughing. I look at my Christmas tree and see an ornament of remembrance, but no gifts for a 2 year old boy underneath….

I guess the point of this whole thing is that I just want my boy....

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Infinity


Haven't felt like writing much lately. It's the season, the weather, the inevitable...

I go from feeling blessed and so incredibly grateful to feeling pissy and worn-out.

Why does everything have to have a caveat? Is there such a thing as a moment where the hum of unfairness doesn't permeate into my present life? Will I truly be planning the Christmas card thinking "if only?" 10 years from now?

I want a reprieve. Can't I have one?

But then I feel like the worst fucking mother in the world for wanting one.....

It's so damn unfair.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for you all and wish you a great holiday!


Friday, November 20, 2009

100% Chance of Rain



The memories are starting to come to me during the hour commute to and from work....My soul knows it before my mind recognizes it.

The coming storm. The anniversary.

Even with all the weather warnings, I cannot escape from it's path. I cannot hop in a car, drive safely inland, and watch the news unfold on the ticker from afar, safely nestled away.

I have to board up the windows of my home, make sure I have enough water and supplies, and pray that it is not too devastating. I pray for a tropical storm.

I beg for no Katrina.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Angels Watching Over Me



About a week after I saw my doctor who confirmed I was pregnant with Radha, I boarded a plane for a conference in Boston. I remember asking him what I do if I start to miscarry on my trip. He stared at me, and scolded me for not being more positive.

"I need practical advice. You can be positive, I need to know what to do if I start to bleed," I said firmly.

He sighed, and instructed me to go tp the local ER if that happened.

I spent a few days, walking around Boston, really trying to grasp what I was about to get myself into. The worry was already palpable. I was remembering my deal with God---if it is not meant to be, let it come early. No stillbirth this time. I made a million trips to the bathroom, checking.

On Thursday, Peyton flew out to meet me. We were going to spend a few days in Rhode Island and in Maine. We walked around the Swan Point Cemetery looking for H.P Lovecraft's grave (Peyton is a fan). It was a dreary, overcast kind of day, and there weren't many people around the property. We snapped a few pictures of the flowers. It was a wonderfully peaceful place.

This particular statue resonated with me. The Nightingale Angel. A turn-of-the-century art piece symbolizing the angels that are watching over the children. And there were so many children with the same birth and death dates. So many children....
And when I walked around that cemetery, I wondered if the child I was carrying would make it. The angel haunted my dreams for many, many months after we left Rhode Island.

I think about taking this journey again, and how insane it would be. I am an only child, and I did not like being an only child. My parents were not doting (in the least), but it has made me the person I am now. I make friends pretty easily, and I have some very good friends that have been with me since I was a wee child.

But I have to tell you that as I sat around my friends' dinner table when I was a kid, I found myself quite envious. Of the dinner table. Of family. Of sister/brother; sister/sister; brother/brother interactions. Deep down I wanted someone to get me like that, and share my history from as long as they could remember. I wanted funny, humiliating stories shared about me when people were visiting. I wanted to laugh so hard about a memory from childhood that my sides ached. As good as my friends were, I still had leave them to go home to my lonely house.

I feel that I owe Radha the chance to have that. But then I worry that she will be angry that she is not the only. That her parent's attention is split. How many people wished that they were only children?!?!

I know that if we cannot have any more, for whatever reason, she will be ok.

The question is, will I be ok? If I can. If I cannot. Am I ready to have this internal battle again? The daily demons, the fear, the loathing, the high blood pressure, the 10+ anatomy scans.....all of it?

I don't know yet. Do you ever really know for sure?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fumbling Towards Ecstasy

(October 27, 2001)

For my 22nd birthday, he bought me a Sarah McLachlan CD and the DVD of The Secret of Nimh. He wasn't my official boyfriend at this time, but I knew he would come around. ;)

We could talk for hours when we first met about anything (and still can).

He told me he loved me first, but only beat me to it by about half a second.

I knew I would marry him when he told me a story about a ball and his baby brother who was only a year old.

He proposed on Christmas Eve 2000, handing me a card that I read by the lights of our tiny Christmas tree in our first apartment in Ann Arbor. He got down on one knee, and we both cried when he pulled out the small gray, velvet box.

His laughter stirs something deep in me, and when he holds me, it's like coming home.

I will never forget how beautifully proud he looked when he was holding Ronan, and how it was the exact same way he held on to Radha for the first time.

For Better. For Worse. Good Times and Bad....

I love you Peyton.....

Thursday, October 15, 2009

And We Remember....




Ronan
Paige
Myles
Henry
Maddy
Jacob
Brenna
Callum
Caleb
Hannah
Jack
Sam
Cooper
Brayden
Zander
Tristen
Liam
Jenna
Gabriel
Serenity
Noah
William
Jacob and Joshua
Emi
Daniella
The Twins
Anna


And the others who went before in hopes no more will come after.....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Turning a Deaf Ear

I know I don't post much about Radha, and that is a little deliberate, but I gotta rant about the asshat pediatrician that WAS her doctor. As of 8am this morning, another, much more nicer, competent doctor is now Radha's pediatrician.

So, to premise, we have had some issues with Radha since birth about gaining weight and pooping regularly. In short, her stomach has always given her some issues. And since I breastfed her, I have had to deal with MANY, MANY, MANY people (including up to the end, her fucking retarded pediatrician) blaming me for it.

I have been saying FOR A LONG TIME now that I think she has acid reflux. I could hear her constantly swallowing and burping and she would make that face like 'Jesus, that burned something fierce'. We could not feed her more than 4oz. at a time in a bottle, because she would spit up the excess. Every. time.

When I told him for the gazillionth time, he said "all babies spit up"--even as she was dropping from the 25th percentile to the 5th. I decided that I had enough and booked her with another pediatrician.

This morning my little elfin princess got on the scale, I was very pleased that she gained almost a pound since last month (and that is with some serious effort on Peyton feeding that poor child every 2-3 hours during the week and me nursing every 2-3 hours during the weekend). She is 14lbs and 11 oz. She should be around 16-17lbs. The new doctor asked "has she always been small?" and I say yes and proceed to tell him the drinking no more than 4oz at a time, and all the other things that the asshat Pedi dismissed.

"I don't agree with him at all. She has classic reflux, and it is most likely the reason she has not put on the weight she should"

I looked at Peyton and shook my head.

The good news is that she is healthy otherwise, but just small. She is a few weeks behind in milestones, and you can argue that is because she was three weeks early, but MY GOD! With a small dose of a PPI, the acid churning in her stomach, burning her poor, tiny esophagus could be kept under control and she could nurse to her heart's content. I am so freakin' livid about this.

I think there are too many damn instances where we try like hell to tell a doctor there is something wrong, and they turn a deaf ear, annoyed that the internet has interrupted their golf game and they now have to, you KNOW, work for a damn living. Even with my OB, I had to push, and I swear the only reason he listened to me was because I had a PhD and made it a point to show him scientific literature to show he was wrong.

Why do we have to do this? What makes me cringe is how many people sit there and listen to doctors because they are 'experts' and 'doctors' and know everything. How many women have sat there and listened to this asshat tell them that their milk is no good and they should probably switch to all formula? Damn him, and damn all those other 'professionals' who honestly don't give a shit.

Okay....now that I said my peace, I will end by saying this....


Ain't she cute?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Slivers of Hope

On Monday one of my Sgts softly told our Program Director that her son, who was visiting his father, had not been returned on the scheduled date. Her 3 year old sees his father once or twice a year for a week, usually in the same city as them. For some reason the father wanted to take the boy on a Disney cruise this visit. She agreed and he was supposed to return the boy Saturday.

By Monday, the father was talking weirdness. He had just lost his job and was lashing out, rightfully scaring the Bejesus out of my friend. He could not commit to a date when the boy would be returned. The boy told his mom he was having a good time and he 'just saw his new school'. All hell was breaking loose.

We all tried, in vain, to offer help, support, suggestions. The police would not get involved because it was a civil matter. But, since there was no real custody agreement, as they were never married, so some law enforcement officers and lawyers thought it could be kidnapping. What made matters worse, the father had dual citizenship in the US and in Ghana, adding a cherry on top of an already shit situation.

I went home on Monday fucking sick to my stomach. The bile was in my throat, and I could not concentrate. I had restless sleep, and Tuesday I fumbled through work as I kept an eagle's eye on my friend. She was on the phone, calling anyone who would listen to her story. She didn't know where her son was, and the father was not answering his cell phone.

By the afternoon, she was determined to get on a plane to go find her boy, and reluctantly, the father finally called back and said he was bringing the boy (who was sad now, because he missed his mommy) that evening. He was returned early Wednesday morning and the asshole was served with custody papers, so that he could not visit again without sorting out this limbo mess that my friend inadvertently placed herself and her son in.

When the good news came, we were all relieved, but I nearly cried. I was surprised by my guttural reaction and I really had to take some time to evaluate why I felt this way. I was talking to my friend Gina about my reaction over dinner and she said "You are a mom, it is scary when you see a mom potentially losing her baby"

But that was not quite it.

What got me the most about all of this was watching R's face throughout the course of the day. She had that look.

You know the look.

It was the look we all had on our faces when we discovered that something was not quite right with our babies. When we were laying quiet and we saw the ultrasound tech's expression when witnessing something on the hidden screen, or the look in the eye of the nurse when she placed a wand on a belly and heard silence, or saw the alarm of the ER doctor's face when he slid a finger to check the cervix.

The blood pressure rises, the adrenaline kicks in, and you can hear your heart pounding in your ears. As more information is gathered, the fear is all over the face. And until you know the final answer, you grasp at that sliver of hope. That--I am scared out of my fucking mind, but I am not going to believe the worst until I hear it/see it/live it--hope.

She had that look on her face all day Monday. By Tuesday she was nearing hysteria. I felt so helpless and useless, and my prayer was that this did not turn out badly. I prayed that her slivers of hope would be enough for the universe to make it right, and that her boy come home to her safely.

The slivers were enough this time. Sometimes they are. I have to remind myself of this sometimes.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fine thanks, and you?

"Hey, have you heard from J? She is doing very well...."

I was back in Ann Arbor this weekend, visiting old friends and colleagues. While I was visiting my friend T's lab, I was chatting with a fellow we all worked with a few years ago, including my friend I talked about here and here.

I glanced over at my friend T, who stared sadly at me. He knew the answer to that question.

"No, I haven't heard from J since Ronan died. She kinda fell off the face of the earth and never called me or e-mailed me again," I said.

"Oh," the fellow said softly. You could tell he was surprised. (As was I)

"Well, what can you do?" I said and shrugged, trying to cut the awkwardness.

"What can you do?" T repeated.

We didn't talk about what J could have done. Things like call, e-mail, call again. E-mail again. Things that T did. It seems like a moot point, no? I get that she was uncomfortable with my grief. I forgive her. I would tell her if she ever picked up the goddamn phone again.

I have been on this path for almost 2 years. I know a lot of you who read are not part of DBL (and believe me when I say, I am grateful you are not). I know a lot of you know me in in real life, and have been following this journey with me for a while, and it may seems like I am a friggin' broken record sometimes. Wah-wah-my baby died. I should get the hell over it. Wah. Poor me.

But, for all the times that I feel I should apologize, I read the words I feel from another blogger, or three, and think, it's too late to apologize.

I welcome you to read my exact thoughts written by another DBL mamma, for a fresh perspective.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Give it to me....

I need good news.

I want to hear what happened GOOD to you today (yesterday, last week). You found $20 in your old jeans. You saw a child helping an old woman across the street. Something. Too much negative thoughts and happenings are going on in blogland. I need reassurance that in the midst of all this insanity, my besties are still feeling and seeing some positive things....

XOXOXO

Reese

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Great Expectations

He was born a month before Ronan's due date. A surprise baby, welcomed home by his two older brothers. She was wishing for her girl, but when the ultrasound showed another tiny penis in black and white, she shrugged and said "hey, at least I know what to expect".

I never thought I would see this boy, as he is my BFF's nephew. The last time I saw BFF's brother (and family) was in 1999, before I left for Ann Arbor, and there was only 1 in the brood. When I managed to get the courage to finally meet BFF in April 2008 (and ignore his new wife's 5-month preggo belly), I asked did his brother and sister in-law have their baby. He said yes. He mumbled the name to me, but I ignored it and focused on dipping a french fry in ketchup.

Of course they had their baby. Of course he was healthy. Of course their family is complete.

This past June, when the girl was 5 months old, we walked into BFF's house for his son's birthday party, and lo and behold, the prodigal brother was there with all his children in tow, including the new son, who was now 15 months.

I avoided this kid like the plague. I hardly looked at him, didn't touch him, didn't ask about him. When he was near me, I found reason to get up and tend to Radha. The kid may as well been a pit viper. It was all very immature, but hell, sue me.

Yesterday, at yet another birthday party at BFF's house (this time for his step-daughter), the brother and family were there (much to my surprise since this was not a blood relative's party). I was sitting on the living room floor with Radha, playing with building block and shadow baby J wandered over to me and handed me his sippy cup.

I instinctively grabbed the cup and the boy sat down next to me and stared at me, sizing me up.

In that moment I had to come to terms with the cruelty of time. I feel like Miss Havisham on most days, but this boy, reminded me that life is continuing on. Two years will be here before I know it, then three, then five, then ten. I wondered when I will not feel such devastation. Will it always be there? Most days it is like a small hum, an undercurrent that something is amiss. But then there are days when I wake up drowning and it is takes so much to overcome it. This is truly the crappiness of this world. You never truly get a reprieve. Your child is never not dead.

The boy smiled at me, seemingly reading my thoughts. Someone once told me that children know your true heart. I handed him back his cup. He stood up, touching my hand, and I didn't flinch but instead reveled in the stickiness of it.

It was a start....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Kissing Cousins

He is blonde and on the cusp of turning 3. He loves Hot Wheels, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cereal, and has more energy than a nuclear reactor.

He stops during his daily run of the perimeter of our living and dining area and kneels in front of Radha, who is sitting in her bouncy seat after a meal of oatmeal and fruit.

"Hi Row-ah" he says, and kisses her cheek. She closes her eyes slowly and smiles shyly at him.

He pats her head, kisses her again, and continues on his run.

A surrogate big brother.

A million images of what could have, should have, would have been flutter like butterflies behind my eyes--if only.

If only.....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Shadow Babies



We all have them.

The babies that came along just before or just after the death of our children. The babies that survived and continue to remind us what can never be...

Well, my shadow baby had his first haircut this past weekend.....

Every time. It hurts every. time.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Siblings



I want to ask a question:

Do you have siblings?

Is your sister your BFF?

Is your brother a complete ass and you haven't talked to him in years?

Please share your stories. I am interested in the dynamic that I never experienced (being an only child).

Thanks for sharing!!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How and Why?


The path is slippery, cold and uncertain.

I wish none of us were on it.

And I wish that there were guarantees that no more tragedy awaited us at the end of it.

I wish. I wish. I wish.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

What Gives You the Right?

I was reading the message boards on the MISS website today.

I caught a thread that made me so unbelievably angry--and I haven't been this angry in a long, long time.

The nutshell of this post was a woman talking about how her SISTER of all people was calling her psychotic for remembering the daughter she lost last year. And by remembering, this woman basically did a balloon release this year on her child's birthday.

The letter was awful:

you having a birthday party and even posting photos is very sad and disturbing, what does Jason think of all this. I have MANY friends how have lost children in many stages of their lives. NONE of them have gone to the level is psychotic. I debated adding you as my friend because of what you post. I do not want my friends to see how disturbed you are. I have blocked you from my wall. Please seek help to remedy the loss you have experienced. Please move on with your live and live in the present not the past. What happened happened. I love you and want you to close this chapter and begin a new one. Christina is alive and so are Charlie and Roman. Take pleasure in them not the child you lost. She will never be on this Earth while you are. We are sad for your loss.
Rhonda, Elaine, Gammie, Cory, Katrina, Dana are just a few people who have lost children and they are living their lives not dwelling in self pity and sorrow, waiting for some one to keep feeding this addiction.



The poster's response:

You know I held my tongue the last time you called me crazy,
as much as I wanted to do nothing but cuss you out and defend my
feelings. I just can't keep quiet anymore...

Firstly, I am NOT the only mother or parent of a child who has died
that has had a birthday or angelversary celebration for that child.
Jason even helped to pick out the balloons and got them out of the
tree so we could get them soaring to heaven as intended.

Secondly, I know you have had some small amount of schooling in psychology,
but that doesnt give you the right to say I or my actions are psychotic!
Maybe I am the only one not putting on the fake "Oh Im ok and don't miss
my baby" face. Maybe I am working thru and dealing WITH my grief, not
shoving it down inside until it explodes out of me in 20 years. Maybe you
just don't understand, and I f**king thank God for that! That means you
haven't had to suffer the loss of a child.

Thirdly, I am seeking help, even if that is none of your business.
I am just as "normal" as the people in my support group and the online
child loss group I belong to. I am not living in the past, I am keeping
Elora alive and in the present. Just because I like to talk about her,
doesn't mean I'm dwelling or not moving on. All I'm trying to do is
honor her.

Lastly, I know good and well my other three children are alive!! I take
lots of pleasure in celebrating them and their lives. They like to talk
about and remmeber their sister too! By the way, I did not make them wear
the cremation jewelry they have. They chose the urns on their own to
suit their own personal style. It was charlies idea for all of us to put
tokens in the casket before she was creamted, so that we would have parts
of all of us...together as a family...in the charms.

I'll bet if you gave your friends a chance, and actually asked them how
they are doing, they might tell you the truth. Did you ever think that
this attitude keeps them from opening up around you, and letting you know
that they are still hurting? You don't just lose a child and
then move on after a while!

Until you can treat me and my family with respect, and the grief that we are trying to get thru,
I don't want to hear anything else you have to say!

The death and birth of Elora did close a door
to the previous chapter of my life. Like it or not, this is the new one...


Her sister's response:


Now you have pissed me off. I sent that to you, not all your friends. Thanks for the privacy.
Treat yourself and your family with respect!!! You are not just honoring her. You love her more than your living children. That what it seems like from here. And the memories that they have are what? A few hours of holding a dead sister. Yes I have asked my friends how they are doing. Dana had a difficult day 7 years ago on her son's 10 anniversary of his death. You know what, she was at work. Now visiting cemeteries, not baking birthday cakes for 17 years, no she is living her life and had a child a few years after the death of her other one. He was 10 days old and died in her arms.
Gammie- gave birth to two children between Mom and Uncle Jerry. She lived. She took them on vacations across the country, raided them on her own after her husband committed suicide. She was and is a very strong woman. one was 2 weeks old, the other a few hours.
Rhonda- had two living children. She has a husband who tried to commit suicide and is now in a full care facility. She still had one in high school. She is doing well, i ask her how she is holding up, and how her kids are dealing with their father like that. Years ago she lost a child. She is actually a happy person.
Elaine- lost a child, a few days old. She is very funny, positive and had managed to have a good life.
Cory, has one child. She went on maternity leave and came back to work 2 years ago. Then she left for a couple weeks, she lost a baby to SIDS. She was devastated. She managed to come back to work and care for her family that was living. She will always remember her girl but she moved on.
Katrina has had 2 miscarriages this year!! After the "safety point" she has managed to stay herself and is pregnant again. We are all praying for her to keep this one. She is 27 years old.
Bonnie- her oldest son was killed by a drunk truck driver when he was 16 years old. She did have a hard time dealing with her loss. however, her oldest child and youngest child helped her to move on with her life and not dwell on something she could not change. They helper her live.

I have kept quiet for a long time. I am the only one who will say anything to you about this. I am glad you didn't come to my wedding. I did not meed your pathetic, pitiful, pay attention to me, feel sorry for me, because you will keep this up for year to come. You love the attention.
As for your group. They are dwelling in sorrow from what is sound like. It is a perperual circle. You all just sit around mourning for what will never come back to you while you are on this earth. Why do you insist that she will come back? you will meet up with her when it is your time.


The Poster's Friend's 2 cents worth and her Sister's reply---

Me Today at 12:50pm
I'm not sure if you remember me or not, but I'm a friend of Kim's. I've just read your email to her and let me just start by saying I have never in my entire life come across someone as completely heartless as you.

To say the things you've said to a complete stranger is bad enough, but to your own sister? You have absolutly no idea the total devestation a person suffers at the loss of a child. Just because you know people who have lost them does not make you privy to what it feels like. And I hope to God you never do come to that full realization yourself.

Kim is not crazy, nor are her actions in grieving Elora psychotic. Keeping her daughters memory alive is the only thing she has left of her. Why you can't seem to understand that is beyond me. This wasn't some aquantience, this was your niece for crying out loud. That if nothing else should garner some sort of respect.

Your words and actions toward Kim are completely unacceptable. How dare you even think them let alone say them to her. The fact that she has three other surviving children does not, and never will ease the pain of the one she lost. Nor does that make Elora any less important to Kim, and to those who love her.

To say that you love her in the same breath as saying all the other horrid things you did, just in that one email alone makes me wonder if you are the one who is psychotic. Quite honestly it shows exactly how little you care for your sister and the loss she has suffered. All it does is prove exactly how heartless, self-serving and concieted you are.

At the very least you owe Kim an apology. Although I honestly hope she never accepts it.

Mother of the angel Brianna Christine


Chandra R. Today at 1:23pm
You are not my family nor did I post that to anyone but her. She is not healthy. She is living for a dead person. You cen't just keep feeding her addiction and I know that people do not become obcessed with the dead being a good healthy thing. I am not heartless, not cruel. she needs help. Medical attention. For all I know you are a freak. By keeping this going you are aiding her living for a dead person , not the ones who area still alive. Waiting for her to love them. They are not getting attention and love they deserve. She loves a child that has gone to heaven more than the ones who are alive. That is even more sad.


Me Today at 1:39pm
Wow, you really just don't get it do you. Granted you've never suffered the loss of a child and to that great extent you never will fully get what it's like.

I on the other hand have. I know exactly what Kim is going through, I've been through it myself having lost a daughter 16 years ago.

The loss of a child, or the grieving that goes with it is not an addiction, it's a process. There is no set length of time for that process, especially when that grief is over the loss of a child. And there is absoulty nothing unhealthy about it.

Kim is getting the help and support she needs both through her AGAPE group as well as her friends and family. I'm sorry that you don't have it in you to do your part in helping her. Because what you are doing to her is only hurting her further.

There is no need for anyone to wait for her to love them. She loves Christina, Charlie and Roman with all of her heart and soul. Loving and missing Elora does absolutly nothing to take that away.

What is sad is that you can't see that. What's even more sad is that you are doing everything within your power to further the hurt and suffering she feels.



No other e-mail have been sent from the sister to date. And the poster wanted to share that the responses she got from her real friends----those who were NOT related to her, were wonderful.


I know that people who witness us going through all of this don't really get what this is like. They read our blogs and maybe talk to us about it once in a while. To the outside person, it may seem that we are not moving on, or that we are clinging to the past if we continue to talk about what happened and what we have lost. It is these thoughts, like this fucking idiot sister, that had women swallowing their grief 50 years ago, insisting that they never speak about it, that caused a lot of fucking neuroses. Closet drinking, whoring around, whatever they could do to numb the pain. Talking about it until we are blue in the face is a lot easier, I think, than watching your love one self-destruct. No?

If I had a sister who told me this crap, I would sever that tie. I am grateful that only one person tried to play shrink with me never tried to again. That being said, I am quick to slay anyone who thinks that I am crazy, citing references and making sure that at least my fucking spelling is correct. Call me Type A, whatever.

Crazy and grieving are two entirely separate things, but because we as a society have been told that grieving should follow a certain protocol, when our grief falls outside the scope of comfort, it must mean that it is wrong, and that we are wrong.

We all adapt to carry this burden. No one has the right to tell us that how we carry it is wrong.

No one.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

HOLA!

I know it's been forever since I have posted, and for the 5 people who read this, and have been checking in--sorry for the delay.

The funeral and trip down South to pay respects turned out as well as could be expected. I have a whole lot to write about the service and the flood of memories about Ronan's service that overcame me, but I have been busy as hell lately. My cousins who were around my age were nice and happy to see me (even though it had been 15+ years), and my aunts in general were too wrapped around in their own grief to start bickering crap with me. It broke my heart to see my grandfather stare at the body of his wife of 54 years during the rosary. But after the funeral he seemed at peace with it as he held and played with Radha's feet. Overall it was a pleasant trip and I am glad I went. It was nice that even the young cousins (who are mostly teenagers) knew who I was, and held my first grandchild ranking with some respect. In their hearts, we are family, irrespective of time and distance. That's all I ever wanted. And it was I who took up the rear in the line of family that followed my grandmother's casket to the hearse to be carried to the cemetery. It felt appropriate. And I was grateful to be a part of it.

After we got back from the funeral I dived head first in proposal hell and tried to prepare my team to deal with my absence as I was scheduled to go to DC and make a presentation this week.

It was hell preparing to leave Radha for the first time. And I know that I can share with you here that the thoughts that go through your head once you are a member of DBL are not rational and tend to be more in line of slightly morbid. Planes crashing, cars crashing, fate being cruel and awful, etc. etc. My heart was breaking because I didn't want to leave and I didn't want to place our family in fate's hands. Again. I know they make drugs for this, but listening to In Cold Blood on audio downloaded to my ipod seemed to take the edge off the plane rides.

It turned out fine. I was worried I was going to dry up (I am miraculously still breastfeeding), but lo and behold, pumping went beautifully---a 1000 times better when I was relaxed in a hotel room versus held up in my office under the crunch of deadlines and bullshit. The conference went well, but a quick scan of the audience revealed that my nemesis was in the audience. She sashayed up to me and shook my hand, I smiled a "DIE BITCH!!!" smile, which my boss's boss picked up on and smiled an amused smile, but alas, she was too wrapped up in her hairstyling products to notice. What I noticed was that there were A LOT OF promises of change---especially of how money is doled out, and her sugar daddy's power is supposed to be lessened, and a working group is supposed to take the helm and decide who is worthy of $$ and projects---based on merit, not bra size.

I don't know if it will come to fruition, but props to one of the Directors who gave a talk about our Division who made it a point to make me and my colleague stand up and announce that we were responsible for about 90% of the projects that he was discussing. I made it a point to be charming and lovable when meeting new people, and I took it as a great sign that the Director of my wing (who is a very high ranking Civilian) made it a point make my talk, because he was impressed with me when he met me three months ago.

Perhaps 97% is worth something in the long run. A girl can dream, no?

Hope you all are well!

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's time....

My Grandmother finally passed away today. Monday is the funeral.

{Sigh}

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You Have Mail

The alert reminded me for the 8th time that if I didn't archive my messages that they would send the e-mail Nazis after me to break my knees ala Nancy Kerrigan.

I spent some time yesterday moving messages from 2008 into the archive. All my e-mail started March 3, 2008---when I returned from my 'maternity' leave after Ronan died. 5 weeks later and I was back at my desk typing, typing, typing......numb. So very numb.

I read some of my e-mail from then. They are coherent and concise-- well thought out and professional. I remember typing back then while thinking WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING BACK AT WORK?!?!?! MY SON JUST DIED!!!!

There was a request from a Colonel that I had lunch with 3 weeks before Ronan died. She asked for my help and I answered her e-mail quickly and professionally. She sent back a thanks and a line:

"I was so sorry to hear about the baby, Reese"

I didn't tell her thank you. My fingers froze on the keys. My professionalism suffocated by the reality that I was typing so fast to forget.

Everything had dates and reminded me of that time between March and May---the time we were waiting for the test results (mailed out on my 33rd birthday), the appointment with the geneticist, the plans to meet up with old friends in Boston, the day I found out I was pregnant again, etc. etc.

I put those messages in an archived folder.

I pray I never have to open it again.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Relatively Speaking

I want to talk frankly about family.

To preface all of this, let me start by saying that my maternal grandmother is dying and will probably pass in the next few days. As I am getting this news, I am a little shocked that I don't have more feeling about it.

So, I have been delving into memory banks trying my hardest to try to come up with a memory, any memory at all that would be 'grandmotherly' in nature to associate with my grandmother.

And I got nothing.

My mother comes from a large family (12 children that lived, a couple of stillbirths also in there). So, my grandmother was always busy having kids/raising kids, so much so that my grandmother's youngest child is only 3.5 years older than me. She was not the affectionate grandmotherly type. Her feelings were always guarded. She didn't bake or hell, even cook all that much. She never sat down in any real attempt to get to know me. Once when I was in college, she called and asked if I could pick up her son at the airport (who, would be my uncle) but she made it sound like I was an acquaintance she was asking for a favor, not her granddaughter. To this day, it still blows my mind about how Peyton's Nana treats him and his brother and how my mother-in-law treats Radha. It is what you read about--that blind devotion. My paternal grandmother is a little more like that---but there is a language barrier that always seemed to get between us.

When I went to college, I attempted to bridge gaps with my maternal grandparents. I sent a few letters to let them know how I was doing. I invited them to my graduation, which they attended, said hello, and skipped out on all the festivities in lieu of a shopping trip in San Antonio. I continued my card/letter writing when we moved to Michigan. In 6 years of writing, my grandmother wrote one letter, a few lines, to tell me that her mother had died and she was devastated. She also said she wished me well and apologized for not writing more.

When Ronan died, there was nothing. Not from her or anyone on that side of the family---even from my aunt who lost 2 boys to Pompe disease, and knew personally the hell we were going through. It was like I had been written off already, the eldest grandchild. Gone.

I have been doing well not caring about it---until now that the very real reality of her dying and me having to make a decision about whether or not I will drive 5 hours to attend her funeral is upon us---Can I handle watching all my aunts and uncles and the grandchildren who were loved sob over a woman who I just remember as being so very cold?

On one hand, I keep saying that I am an adult. I should be respectful and give respect even though it was not given to me.

On the other hand, I am bitter, mad and wanting to throw a tantrum about the crapiness of it all. It really pisses me off that I have only one side of my family I can depend on. And not to be too stereotypical here, but I am a Mexican American. And Mexicans PRIDE themselves on family (LA FAMILIA!!!!!). How in the hell did it even get to this?

I can already tell you I am going. Whenever it is. Because it is the right thing to do.

But I gotta tell you, this grown up shit sucks.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Wonder Years

Maybe it's the fact that my supposed good friends from back home have decided to post all these God-awful pictures of me from junior high/high school, maybe it's the fact that I caught someone in a pretty big lie and she tried to blow it off like I was a little girl who didn't quite get it, but I am reliving a lot of my school days over again and again in my brain this weekend.

I was not cool or popular, but I was well-liked. The happy go lucky nerd. And this is a point of contention that I have now, reliving these damn moments in time-- if I was so damn well-liked, how come my life wasn't different, with boys, with life, with everything?

I wrote something on my other blog (back before I ended up in DBL hell, I kept a blog to help me through graduate school) that when I defended my thesis, and was welcomed into another, prestigious club of PhD-dom, that none of that would have happened if my life had been different in high school. If I had been Prom Queen, had the serious relationships, the 'peaking' at 16, then I would have never taken this type of path. I do not regret any of it, rather I have embraced it somewhat, as it is fundamental to who I am now. I don't regret not getting the guy then because I have my Peyton, my love, now. This is not regret I am feeling, but rather a what-if that tickles my brain with a feather.

I have also been looking at my cousin's wedding photos. She is 23 and they are both beautiful and so in love. They had a wonderful Costa Rican honeymoon. I wondered today if they were going to wait a while until they have children. Hoped they wouldn't, but then wondered why I had that thought.

I guess it's because I wonder that if this would have happened to us if we had tried for a family when we first got married (I was 26). Would this have happened? Would I have a 6 or 7 year old now? Would Trisomy have come knocking on our door if I had gotten pregnant in August rather than July of 2007? Would I have a healthy 1 year old child now?

It's something that we all do, this what-ifing. But with DBL, it seems to compound any other issues that I have, past and present.

Bah, humbug.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Filed Under: Utterly Bizarre

I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. To be fair, I love it most days. I enjoy catching up with old friends and seeing how 15 years have changed them (most of the time). I appreciate sending a few SOS's out there and getting reassurances that I am not mentally incapable when it comes to raising a child, although I can feel it on a daily basis.

And then there are the surprises that come into my inbox. One of them was this guy.

So, it has been about 17 years since I have seen or heard from him. And, I gotta tell you, when we befriended each other, I had no earthly idea where that would take me. He is 40 now for all you math people out there. Married with 3 kids. And a man of God.

(Try not to snicker.....I know it's hard. I had a hard time trying not to....)

Seriously, aside from his day job, he found the Lord, got a degree in Theology, and is the associate pastor at an undisclosed church. I was sitting there reading that, trying to take that all in, and immediately he wrote on my wall how happy he was to find me.

Then in a 4 day e-mail string we caught up. I laid it on him---the good, the bad, and the ugly. The really ugly. I challenged conventional religious beliefs. And I don't know if I felt the need to question his God (who, incidentally, is MY God), because he was who he was and I had a little bit of history with him, or if I just took an opportunity to blast anyone who happened to be supposedly more enlightened than me.

And this is what he wrote:

It's OK to feel the way you feel. I will never know exactly what you went through, and for me to say anything to resemble an understanding remark would be arrogant, and probably self-serving. The only thing that I would ask of you is to believe that God doesn't mean any harm to you. The best Theological advice I can give people comes from an honest heart that I personally believe that everyone can see through. My answer is that I just don't know. I don't know why God does what He does, or allows what He allows. I just have to trust that He knows what He's doing, because the alternative is to be a victim of my God, or worse, at war with my God. And, for me at least, that's unacceptable. I think that you are dealing with your plight the best way that you know how, and I'm very proud of you. If you haven't already, I'm sure that one day you will wake up and notice that it hurts a little less.

When I was waiting for this response, I seriously thought whatever he replied would piss me off, make me roll my eyes, or make me vomit a little in my mouth, but, surprisingly, it did not. I actually felt his warmth through his words. Felt that he was coming from a place of compassion, not the need to be right, or the arrogant -time-will-lead-you-on-the-path-back-home.

I have moments where I am still grappling with faith and fate. I used to be a big believer that everything happened for a reason---until I could not find a reason when Ronan died. And then out of the blue, some jerk who broke my heart when I was young and naive and didn't know a kiss didn't mean the world, comes back into my life and sits down with me. Holds my hand. Tells me that it sucks but we can make it through it. And the ice melts. Just a little. Very weird. A little bizarre.

And, yes, to be petty, I look WAY better than him after 17 years. Chump.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Debbie Downer


So, I am giving the middle finger to the pit. I am tired of it. Saturated is a better word. Do you know what I mean by that? It's like watching too much of the same tv series all weekend long. Your mind becomes nothing but the story line, the plot twists, the characters, what happens next. Then you walk outside, rub your eyes at the glaring sun and realize how much time had passed.

I don't choose to fall in, but I can work like hell to get out.

So there.

I had a good week last week. My friend Ryan was in town (he was living in Brazil) and we sat down to a meal for the first time in 15 years. That is a funny thing about my childhood friends. Most people I know went to high school with 600 people. I went to kinder-12th grade with the same group of people (*hello small town, Texas), and pretty much maintained some level of civility with the majority of my classmates. Ryan was a football hero. One of the only 2 sophomores to make Varsity. He was still all mouth, bald as a cue ball and still loyal. Fiercely loyal. One of the reasons I love him.

He got married (for the 3rd time!) to a woman from Venezuela. Very kind and very Spanish, kissing me on both cheeks, draped in a wonderful shaw in the 100 degree heat (mostly to hide her post-pregnancy belly). She was warm and comforting. I loved her immediately. Ryan has a son who is almost 3 and a 7 week old son, who was sleeping soundly at the restaurant. He handed the infant to me, and I had mixed emotions. I had prepared a speech about how I was not prepared to hold a baby boy, haven't held one since Ronan, and really had no intention of holding a boy other than Ronan.

But then suddenly I was in it, and the wee child squinted at me, confused about who I was, and he whimpered a little. He was not Ronan. Didn't look anything like Ronan. I reminded myself that there was no crime in holding another, that it did not diminish any memory I held. I was nice and detached.

This past weekend Peyton and I made an impromptu trip to Austin to see old friends. We hung out, ate, watched movies, ate, made funny faces at the girl, ate. All in all, a very enjoyable weekend.

I am still dealing with evil redhead issues at work. My boss took a bad tumble on his bike and is on medical leave recuperating from breaking, essentially, the entire left side of his body (shoulder blade, collar bone, 6 ribs). Thank God he was wearing a helmet or this story could have had a much worse ending. In his absence I have been dealing with, for lack of a better word, ridiculousness. I was asked today for a projected budget for 2012. To which I said "are you freakin' kidding me?!?!?!?" I have 2 projects due in a couple of months, and they want me to look 3 years into the future RIGHT NOW? Gotta love the government.

Monday, June 29, 2009

1,000 Yard Stare

I re-read the cards that were sent to us after Ronan died. I did this a few days ago when I was in the pit.

How difficult those words must have been. Friends, far and near, sitting with their pens in their hands, looking at the blank paper, wondering what the hell to write. What do you say to a woman who has had her whole world turned upside down?

The letters came in full force from about early-mid February. We got some surprise cards, cards from our friend's parents that I barely knew, a haiku from an old co-worker back from Michigan with a picture of her son by a barren tree on a cold winter's day. She said that the picture of her son in the distance reminded her of Ronan.

We received cards from a few older women that I didn't know that well, and it dawns on me now that they probably knew exactly what we were going through, as this DBL extends many generations, from the dawn of man. I am not special. Many women have carved out their stories in hieroglyphs, and yet they managed to go on. It is that very fact that calls to me like that goddamn Drill Sergeant from Full Metal Jacket, dragging my heavy soul out of bed.

DO YOU THINK YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE TO LOSE A BABY? GET YOUR DAMN, CRY-BABY SELF OUT OF THAT BED AND TEND TO YOUR LIVING CHILD. WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR MALFUNCTION?!?!?

I am tired of this war.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

STOP THE INSANITY

Farrah.

Michael Jackson.

And, the pit.

Yes, loyal readers, the pit doesn't get any less deep and dark because she is here. It just means that instead of sobbing in public, I lock myself up in the bathroom....

I got a 'please forgive me' e-mail from a friend I e-mailed a year ago about Ronan. He claims he stopped checking that e-mail and just came across it.

"I am so sorry. Please forgive me for not being there for you...." he wrote.

I closed my office door and sobbed. Sobbed because he was a good friend. Sobbed because, really, if he were a better friend, he would have asked me over a year ago how Ronan was growing. Sobbed, because I don't know who's who and what's what anymore. Who are my friends anymore? Who is really out there listening and hoping the best for me? I wrote him back, told him I was hurt but I understood and I wished his family well.

I wished him well.

Despite the 1.5 years of silence, I wished him well. Shouldn't I wish him harm and hurt and every creepy, crawly emotion I have experienced in the last year and a half?!?!?

But I didn't. And I won't.

Because even in the pit and with the whisperings of doubt, I can still get a glimpse of who I was before all of this happened.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

I have little words today, so these pictures will have to suffice....

















Happy Father's Day, baby!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Love Actually

If a rose were called April Rose

Would it still stink as bad as this story?

I am sharing this with my non- DBL friends as well as those who may have been out of the loop of this in-frickin-sane tall tale.

Apparently numnuts Beccah decided it would be cool to start a blog for shits and giggles about her fatally diagnosed baby (diagnosed with Trisomy 13 which is fatal, like Trisomy 18). She got all sorts of women involved in this insanity, including the Christian community who promoted her blog, held her as the poster child for Pro-Life---held prayer circles, baked cookies, etc. You get the picture. It was a hot mess.

Well, numnuts Beccah decides that her baby girl April was going to be 'born' at home (Seriously?!?!?) and blogged a real-time assessment of the whole ordeal a couple of days ago, which began the snowball effect of something stinks in suburbia. She was outed by the 'heathen' while the 'righteous' threw their stones of do not judge until we know everything, but finally gave in and agreed it was all a hoax.

A batshit crazy girl preyed on the hot button topic of baby death. Shame on her. So what should we do about it? Feel sorry and pray for her troubled soul as the 'Christians' continue to push on their blogs? Burn down her house and drag her by her roots, put her in a burlap sack and beat her with a 1,000 reeds? (which is what I'm sure a lot of people WANT to do).

I tell you what I am going to do--

I choose to sit here, shake my head, and hold those who truly have walked this path in my heart tonight.

That's what I am going to do. I hope you join me....

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A Wrinkle In Time

I was reading one of my friend's responses to a Tooth Fairy issue she posted on Facebook. It was quite a tale about her son suddenly wanting all his teeth back from the Tooth Fairy in lieu of money (!)

And while I was reading, I caught a glimpse of her, and all of the girls who shared their stories, of us in junior high---with big stripes and permed hair telling each other that we finally French kissed that cute guy in the class.

I wanted to tell the nerdy 7th grade me with the glasses (because my father didn't want me to get contacts until high school) about all that she was going to do---and to hang on and not get so damn depressed because the cute guy you liked thought you were not cool enough for him. (He didn't turn out so hot, so I am not all that depressed about it).

But I also wondered would I tell her what had happened to us last year? Would she even believe it? And if she knew about it---would she even had tried to get pregnant in the first place?

What would you tell your young self?

Friday, May 29, 2009

97%

There is a book series by Alexander McCall Smith called the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. It is set in Botswana and is about a woman of ‘traditional’ build who inherits a bunch of cattle when her father dies and decides to open up a detective agency. It’s a warm series, made to make you feel good about simple life, simple things. Recently, HBO picked up the series, and it stars the beautiful Jill Scott as Precious Ramostwe and the wonderful Anika Noni Rose (of Dreamgirls fame) as her ‘side-kick’, Grace Makutsi.

Grace is a dowdy kind of girl who attended the Botswana Secretarial College where she excelled and earned 97% for her final grade, a record in that college. But, she often remarks that women who scored 40% but wear short skirts and allow their male boss to chase them around the desk are far more successful that she is. There was a beautiful scene where Grace is talking to her HIV-positive brother about a run-in with one such girl. Grace was caught on her hands in knees trying to catch a dog when one such girl she went to school with is dressed to the nines in a short skirt and a fancy handbag and brags that she has a fabulous position and her boss takes care of her. Grace tells her brother that she was rude to the girl but felt badly about how she reacted. Her brother, who is very ill at this point, says ‘you’ll do better than all of them’. And you can tell that Grace wants to believe it.

I am Grace Makutsi. I too have lived in this delusion that if I work hard and obey {most of} the rules that I will be rewarded for all my hard work and sacrifice. I am learning on a very personal level a very difficult lesson--- in this day and age, women in short skirts being chased around are still getting further than I am. And I don't know what to do.

I went to undergrad with a girl, who made it a point to use her charm and good looks to get ahead. She would befriend a nerdy male in every difficult class and basically use him to get extra help---letting him fall madly in love with her then dumping him at the end of the semester. You know the type. I knew she did this, however, when my friend M fell under her spell in one of our classes, I said nothing. My punishment for my silence was a devastated M at the semester end who became deeply depressed and suicidal, needing to seek serious professional help. Thanks be to Jesus he pulled out of it, but it was a sin I never forgave that girl for, because there are just some men that it should be a crime to abuse. M had a kind spirit. He did not deserve that.

You can imagine my surprise when I report to my new job a year and a half ago and find out that this same girl managed to get her PhD and had a very cushy position at a neighboring base. I was appalled, but say nothing, assuming that A) she is down the road (out of sight/out of mind) and B) she is tasked to do other things differently from our mission so we should never really run into each other. Wishful thinking.

Lately, we have been needing to deal with her and all of her insanity. We (my group) have found that some of her practices are highly questionable, but when we called her on it, (and by 'we' I mean my work group as a collective), she pulled a male out of her hat--a particularly powerful male that is pretty high up in the food chain. And suddenly demeanor changes around here, general pissiness and vows to have her head and/or make sure she pays are replaced by grumbling silence. She has obviously bought this protection somehow (and intra base grumblings are pointing to her old ways—old dogs, old tricks) and it leaves me feeling vomitous. I am fucking sick about all of this.

It truly makes me wonder why I worked so hard back in undergrad or grad school. It makes me wonder why I work so hard now. But, being the bigger person, (literally and figuratively) I am opting to continue on with my job, do the best I can without trying to pay much attention to her. But then grumblings in the hall of ‘guess who got a multi-million dollar project to do XYZ?’ are uttered, it takes everything in me not to go postal.

I look at my infant daughter, so naïve and unsuspecting. We all tell ourselves that we will tell our children that they should always do their best and the right thing and they will be rewarded. But as I see that iron cocoon 10 miles down the road over a woman who calls everyone sweetie while flashing a flirtatious smile, it almost makes me wonder why bother to lie to Radha. I should tell her the truth. There are times when you work your ass to the bone and all you have to show for it is a boney ass. There are times that you KNOW women will sometimes use their charms to get ahead, but doing the right thing means it's better to be able to sleep with your conscience at night, even if it means that your reward does not come. At night, when I put my daughter to bed, I pray for her safety and good health. I pray that she will be a good person and that she is deliriously happy. I whisper that the world is truly beautiful now that she is in it.

This woman also has a young daughter... I wonder what she whispers to her before she puts her to bed at night.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Molly Fucking Sunshine

When I was in high school, my 'friend' Ronda exclaimed to me one day "You are the most negative person I know, Reese!"

To put this in perspective, I grew up in a town of about 5,000, so she really didn't KNOW all that many people. But that being said, I still don't know what I said to invoke that particular response from her. I remember being really pissed because I thought I was pretty pleasant and upbeat for the most part.

Lately I seem to be hearing Ronda's voice (all whiny and condescending) now that I am in Facebook hell being reunited (and it feels so good--not) with some people from my past.

One particular girl who I didn't really like all that much but our mothers were friends was all like "Hey Reese, how the HELL have you been, girl? It's been ages."

So, I wrote her a quick note to tell her how the hell I have been.

...And the equivalent of crickets chirping was her reply.

I KNOW people don't want to be slammed with DBL news in their happy, innocent inbox. But, for fuckssake, if you ASK how I am, I will TELL YOU how I am. I am doing ok, but I have had a rough year. Thank you for telling me that my daughter is beautiful and I am blessed, but, can I pretty please put my 'perfect' life in perspective? Thanks ever so much.

Then It occurred to me that honesty can be perceived as negativity. I think that is what happened with Ronda. If my memory serves, she asked how I was doing in the hall that particular day and I said I had a bad day. And gosh darn it, it was not what she wanted to hear.

People gush about Radha and I want to immediately mention Ronan but I am shushed like an old woman shushing me in church. I am finding that people want to do this hand waving thing. Look at your DAUGHTER and don't mention your SON for Chrissakes! It makes people FEEL bad.

That so?

I am not a good faker, people. My grad school mentor told me once that I wore my emotions on my sleeve. To which I said "why the hell should I hide how I feel from you?" He just shook his head.

I mean, I get it. I work for 'powerful' men. I know how to hold my tongue and not to cry--basic essentials to being a woman.

But if you ask how I am....I am grateful for her and forever missing him.

I don't think there is anything wrong with saying that.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Philly Bound

Work is sucking.

Big time.

Some day over a tequila I will babble the ridiculousness I have had to endure in the last 2 weeks. It has to do with an evil red-head and the flu.

I have a conference in Philly next week.....Thank God!

Hotel sheets, here I come!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Saving Private Reese

It starts out a little choppy. Like the boat ride before we get to the beach.

I manage to get my foot on the sand and then I hear the first shot. I am under attack. Memories come whirling past me like bullets.

That first night in the room after everyone had left for the night, Peyton closed the door, walked up to me and I sobbed like a little girl as held me tight.

I hit the ground, but it is a storm all around me.

He had Peyton's feet. A tiny replica of Peyton's feet.

It's the hormones. I can feel the familiar tightening of my uterus. I am on a pill that does this to me twice a month.

I lie on the ground and pray for a cease-fire.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Like a Virgin--

It was a gigantic steam bucket in the JC Penney's studio this afternoon. My MIL wanted us to get one of those family portraits, you know the ones that looks something like this:





Swearing the whole time that we would look 1,000 times better than everyone else ever did in these freakin' things.

We sat in weird positions, my MIL, FIL, BIL, and SIL, Peyton, me and Radha---all wearing blue jeans and a shade of some sort of blue in our shirts. Radha had just eaten and was being cooperative for the camera, and we all were misty and red cheeked from the heat as the young girl snapped us in several, mostly unflattering positions. Peyton and I were asked if we wanted to sit alone with Radha for a pic, and I agreed to a couple mostly to appease my MIL. But in all honesty, when I envisioned ourselves taking these kind of pictures, I saw us outdoors, in clothing that we liked to wear, looking as natural as we could.

We snapped one where we were teetering our huge asses on tiny benches, my 2-baby pregnancy belly hanging out, and one where Peyton and I were staring at Radha staring at the camera. That was the most flattering one, so I decided to buy it.

"You should get the 8 x10," my MIL stated, "Get the big one since it is your first mother's day,"

I looked at her and paused, but she did not see her error.

"It's your first mother's day, so you should splurge!" she repeated again.

I looked at her again. She was still not getting it.

I sighed, ordered the 8x10 and decided to let it go, but it gnawed at me all day.

You know. IT.

I was a mother last Mother's day too. My son just happened to die.

I know she wasn't thinking about that, and I am inclined to give her a pass since she has been particularly good about remembering Ronan with charms and balloon releases on his birth date in January and so forth. But, seriously, I don't really think this is semantics, (but maybe unique in my thinking), but when Ronan was born, I became a mother...end of story.

How do women who lose older children handle Mother's Day? Are they no longer a mother because their child dies? Is there a statute of limitations of how long the child has to be alive in order to be considered a mother? What do you all think? What truly constitutes the definition of a mother?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Blessed Art Thou Among Women

We have been taking some blows here in DBL. Women who have lost once have lost again. New members are appearing daily. My heart has been heavy, and it started about 3 weeks ago when one of my on-line friends Andrea lost one of her triplets after she hung on for 6 1/2 months.

I have known, in my utmost core, that life is not fair. It is random and messy and it is easy to shake your fists and wish that you were living a charmed life, still stuck in the cocoon where things like children dying don't happen.

The charmed life--the life that we think the other girl is leading.

On the surface it looks perfect. Perfect husband, job, life. Dammit, you think....if only I could have a life like her....


When Ronan died, I thumbed through the leaflets that accompanied my DBL Mom package, the pamphlets that emphatically stated it was not my fault, the ones that talked about how I should deal with my grief. There were numbers for local bereavement groups, and a link for MISS. When I went to that website, I was welcomed into a world of ‘Holy Crap! It could be so much fucking worse’.

One of the first stories I read was of Amy, who lost her boy Liam 1 hour after he was born and they didn’t know why. I was reading stories of how babies were lost at 34, 37, 40 weeks, and some while pushing the babies out. My loss at 28 weeks felt like small potatoes. I felt lucky in a way.

And I have had and read a lot of this line of thinking as I have maneuvered through DBL in the last 15 months. In the last 3 months alone, I have been told over and over again that I am blessed. I have a baby girl now, I am blessed. I have a husband who stuck around. I am blessed. I didn’t have to spend $$$ to try to get pregnant again. I am blessed. My baby girl made it through a healthy pregnancy and she was born healthy. I am blessed.

And it's not to say that I do not feel blessed. Of course I feel blessed, but I feel that these statements are coming at me through the undercurrent of comparison. If we compare, (which is fucking retarded to do in the first place, but hey, women are notorious for it) of course someone always has it worse. I think about all of the women who cannot get pregnant, or the women who keep having recurrent miscarriages after their loss. I think, so what if you had a stillbirth, after reading about a poor woman who had 12 miscarriages and finally had a healthy baby on #13. At least you had good doctors who delivered Ronan, I thought when I read about a girl's sister who delivered her son stillborn on the floor of a county ER--who made her wait for 8 hours as she slowly almost bled to death.

And so on, and so on. It's like I try to be grateful for my pile of shit, grateful it was small, or not so bloody, so completely downplaying the glaring fact that it is, in fact, a pile of shit.

I know I am not alone in these feelings of comparisons of blessings. We do the sign of the cross when we read about tragedy, grateful that we were not caught in THAT particular statistic. If we think hard about it, we are the charmed ones to several women who are alone, feel they will die alone, and never get their chance to even try for a baby.

Bizzare, I know.

Charmed lives are a Red Herring. No one can really know what is beyond the polished exterior. For every beautiful, charmed woman, there is a story of anorexia, self-loathing, debt up to their eyeballs, gay husbands, and so forth. The stone cold reality is that we live in a world where someone always has it worse. But I keep trying to tell myself that someone else's tragedy doesn't mean that any of us were dealt something any less devastating than the next woman.

My friend H came to visit me after Radha was born. She had started volunteering at Legal Aid, helping the unfortunate with their legal problems. She told me that she felt guilty that she felt bad about her daughter dying when so many people had it worse off than her. It was right then that I saw the utter heartbreak in that statement. H's daughter had just DIED a couple of months earlier. After she carried her to term with Trisomy 18! She had every right to grieve for what she lost.

And I believe that for everyone out here. We should not feel guilt because we are where we are now when others are on a completely different path. We should not downplay the feelings we have about our losses or our joys, or make someone else's tragedy worse than our own. We should acknowledge that we were all robbed, that we are all dealing the best way that we can, and that we all are living this new life the best to our ability, trying to find the blessings when and if they come.

We should...but even in writing this down, it feels like a weak battle cry.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Out of Africa

He grasped my hand and smiled a brilliant white smile. “Pleasure to meet you Dr. S,” he said in the perfect African English. If you have ever met an African, you grow to love the accent—proper British slangs with a hint of tribal dialect. He was a General from Tanzania, interested in becoming partners with Global Epidemiology to aid in the effort to stop the flu outbreak, if there ever was to be one. I was asked to sit in on this meeting, just in case he had questions about the science. I watched the plump man partake in a pastry, sip his tea and was immediately reminded of my trip to Nigeria. It was during the Summer of 1997 and I was 22 years old, mouthy, such a typical Texan---thought I knew everything, even though I had barely set foot outside of the state. When I landed in Kano, I was immediately thrown into another world. Men guarded the airport with machine guns. In a sea of black, we were the minority white. We were hustled into a long line where one rather large, unfriendly Nigerian examined our passports, asked gruffly what we were doing there and laughed a bitter laugh as we fumbled unsuccessfully for an answer.

We were no longer in Texas anymore, Toto.

The drive to Maidugurri from Kano was long---6 hours in a van that felt every pothole in the poorly kept road. Our overseas mentor, Dr. Shatima, a young pediatrician (32) who was slated to work with us in the hospitals, sat in the front seat. He was very tall, rail thin, and pensive. The quiet type. I realized early on he was an observer and he did not like to make a lot of conversation. He initially struck me as a bit of a snob, frustrated that he was stuck with some bratty American kids. Weeks later I would learn that he was not a snob, but rather quite shy, a hard worker who was very good at carrying out orders, no matter how ridiculous and demeaning they were to him. Twelve years later he would become an important pediatric consultant, run his own clinic, and work for the higher ups in government. He would also become my trusted friend and colleague, travelling all the way from Nigeria to Michigan in the dead of winter to witness the hooding ceremony for my doctorate, establishing his place in my adopted family circle of friends. When I wrote to tell him I was pregnant with Ronan, he was so excited, glad that I was finally to become a mother, thrilled to be his 'Nigerian Pediatrician'. When I sent an e-mail last February to tell of Ronan’s stillbirth, he sent back a letter stating he was heartbroken to hear about the death of ‘our son’. He did not write ‘your son’ but ‘our son’, because in his heart, Ronan belonged to him as much as he belonged to us, and his death resonated all the way across the Atlantic, ignoring all religions, tribes and creeds.

I am amazed, even to this day, how a baby only 28 weeks old could bring with him so much love and emotion.

While in Nigeria we stayed at the medical school hostel and my roommate Lisa and I also became fast friends with 3 boys---Jacob, Yakubu (affectionately known as Yaks), and Aliyu. We spent the entire summer with them, playing cards, talking, eating, hanging out like we had known each other forever.

Jacob was the youngest at 20, and very inquisitive. I must have answered 1,000 questions he asked about the United States. Yaks was a cut-up, the class clown but deeply loyal and smart. And there was Aliyu—the class president, a born leader, razor sharp wit and intellect. Aliyu and I would talk for hours like long lost friends, but not about the simple things Jacob was interested in (like if all Texans rode horses like in John Wayne movies), but more philosophical things---like God, and the right to let women lead their own lives. We shared such similar ideas and values, as if we were raised together and not half a world apart. He spoke often about his younger sister Awa, about how hard it was for his mother to raise all the children alone, and how he worked hard now so that someday Awa would have the chance to have adventures like me.

There was an honesty and a friendship that I had with Aliyu that I have not had with anyone else. I could tell him anything, anything at all, and it would be accepted unconditionally. Everything was so easy with him. When I left Africa, I felt incredibly sad that I would not interact with him on a daily basis. We tried writing, but it was never the same as it was that summer. Perhaps it was the situation, much like Lost in Translation, of how you find someone in an unusual place and feel bound to them forever. I knew what I experienced with him was special, and even if I lived to be 100, I would not find that kind of connection with a human being again.

In April of 2002, Dr. Shatima wrote me an e-mail to inform me that Aliyu and his younger sister Awa were travelling back home for Easter when their car struck a truck head-on. They died instantly. Aliyu had just turned 28, Awa was barely 14. I cried for days when I read the news, wept for the injustice of it all---the recently promoted Aliyu, the young Awa and her quest for adulthood and Reese-like adventures. Most of all, I wept for the memory of 2 young kids in Africa in 1997 that sat around contemplating the meaning of life. A couple of years later I was taking a walk one summer evening in Michigan, and I saw a young black man, dressed in a light blue button-down shirt and white pants walking towards me. In the dusk of night, I saw Aliyu’s face, smiling at me and it took my breath away. I stared at that poor man so intensely that he eventually crossed the street, but it was the first time that I truly believed in angels.

A month after Ronan died, I lay awake in the middle of the night and stared at the blank walls of our bedroom. I was still reeling from grief, fighting the horrible thoughts crashing into my poor, weak mind (exacerbated by hormones). I was startled awake that particular night with a question. Who was taking care of Ronan in heaven, if there was a heaven?

The question left me with a new rub of salt in my still bleeding heart. The vision of my poor child alone up there was enough to bring on a fresh, new set of hysterics. All I could do was imagine my son alone. I was panicked, and damn near hysterical to the point of waking up Peyton. I tried to recall those who had passed before me. Who did I know? Who would be there to show Ronan the way?

I saw my grandfather who died when I was a young girl. He couldn’t take care of him. I saw my godfather, Bole, a good, funny man, but I still felt that he was not the one. My mind was burning and the grief was washing over me. Who? Who?

And then I saw Aliyu’s face.

I stopped crying.

I knew Ronan would be safe with him.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

How about them transparent dangling carrots...

April 7, 2009

Dr. S,

I wish there were words to adequately describe the overwhelmingly tragic scene that we were living January 24, 2008 when we first met you. That day had started out with an underlying sense that something was wrong, and transitioned into what would be the worst day of our lives. When we were in L&D that night and it was determined that our son had in fact died, the nurse asked me again who my doctor was, and all I could do was blurt out your name. But, even as I uttered it, it felt like a lie. That was because we had not yet met you. 2 weeks earlier an office slip up resulted in us going to the office for our first appointment when you had canceled your appointments (because you fell out of a deer lease and broke some ribs). The staff frantically shuffled us in to see Dr. C, and we had made an appointment to see you 2 weeks later. As fate would have it, we would meet 2 weeks later, but not in the traditional way.

While we waited for you in that delivery room last January, we were all in a sort of suspended animation. Peyton and I went through the horrible motions of contacting our parents to tell them that their first grandchild, a son everyone was eagerly waiting for, had just died. I don’t recall a lot about that first night, except for the stinging memories of what Peyton’s voice sounded like as he called his father and how my father cried silently as he hugged me when he arrived to the hospital 2 hours later, never remembering a time in my life when I saw him cry. In all that tragedy, I remember you. You came in wearing those damn green scrubs you always wear, said you were so very sorry, grasped mine and Peyton’s hands and said you would take care of us—your patients that you had never met.

It took a whole year to fully appreciate the power of that statement. After Ronan was born and the testing came back for Trisomy 18 three months later, I told Peyton I didn’t know when and if I would ever want to try again. The pain of living in this new world, this Dead Baby Land as we affectionately call it in Cyberspace, was still too much. I was angry, lost, and damning the god(s) who took away our child. But for all my rebellion came a dream one night of a baby wrapped in pink and a positive pregnancy test 1 week later. Little did I know the fear and damning would come in full earnest as I was about to embark on a journey that had an unknown ending. You were happy for us when you saw me again in June, shook my hand, assured me it would be different this time, but all I felt was complete numbness and a growing whispering in my ear of what the hell have you just gotten yourself into?

I know that as a doctor you see the caution and the hesitation-to-be-happy-until-the-baby-arrives-screaming-9-months-later in your patients who have had previous losses. But I would like you to know that the emotion a woman feels carrying another child is deeper than just caution. It is caution mixed in with everything else in the spectrum of emotion, good and bad. But, in that caution there is also hope flickering ever so small, like a single ember still lit after a campfire has been doused with water. It takes several people to help fan it to set it on fire again---family, friends, and of course, the medical staff that is overseeing the pregnancy. The fire lights, and then it putters out, and it is truly one of the most exhausting and frustrating courses, those long 9 months of constantly fanning a flame--sometimes without the help of the mother, who sometimes just wants to lie down, let the fire die, and let her fate come.

Thank you for fanning the flame, for answering every stinkin’ question that came to my mind, for seeing me every week 4 weeks earlier than you would any other patient, for understanding that this journey was difficult and taking the punches when I had lost my mind and my patience. Thank you for being patient, for being strong when I was weak, and for lighting a candle of hope in my darkness. For all your efforts, our daughter Radha (Row-ah) Elise came safely, albeit 3 weeks early. She had her brother’s birth date as her original due date, but I think she wanted January 26th to remain his special day. Her name holds 2 meanings--in Sanskrit it means ‘success’, but in Irish, it means ‘a vision’, an affectionate reminder that she announced her presence to me in a dream before I knew she was coming.

I don’t know if I have it in me to try this journey again. The fear and anxiety is almost too much for me (read: my husband) to carry again. But, I do know this---if we do decide we are crazy enough to try for another, I know I want you by my side.




Respectfully,

Reese

Sunday, March 29, 2009

They Say It's Your Birthday....

I turned 34 on Friday.

Last year, it was a quiet sort of day.

This year, many people took the time to celebrate what a difference a year makes.

We drove to my father's house on the coast, introduced the girl to extended family and friends. It was a nice weekend.

All alone in the dark, with Radha in her pack-n-play I imagined an alternate universe in which Ronan would be sleeping in a crib.

But to have acquired that moment, I would not be having these moments.

My beautiful baby girl...sighing sweetly. Cooing and smiling at all the wonderful people who were so happy to have her there.




My uncle's long time girlfriend got teary at the very sight of her. "She's such a blessing, such a blessing," she muttered over and over again.

My grandmother held her in her frail arms and said in English (a departure from her usual Spanish). "I am so happy..."

Lumps in my throat. Enough to choke a horse.


All of it, every stinkin' bit of this journey, is so goddamn bittersweet. I can hardly stand it anymore....

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I rummaged through the garage and found the box that contained my purses (all 5 of them).

I pulled out the lovely Spring one, a light blue, flowery one that Peyton picked out for my birthday 2 years ago.

In the pocket I pulled out a bright pink paper, folded neatly in a baggy with a pregnancy test. I opened the paper and read

8/3/2007. Pregnancy test: Positive

My doctor in Michigan, a wonderful woman who I still miss with all my heart, had handed me a copy of the slip 'to put in the baby book---so much better than the pee stick' she joked.

I kept them both in my purse for safe keeping while in transit to San Antonio the following month.

Today, I put them both in the box that holds Ronan's belongings.

A piece of paper and 2 lines on a stick. It's feeling like the only proof I have that he was here anymore....

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Breast Intentions...

I am convinced that the women who brag that they breastfed their children long after they were capable of chewing steak were long-hair Hippie Tree Huggers that did NOT work for the Department of Defense.

My child is on a schedule at night. A wake Mommy up at 2, 4 and 6 am, schedule. Thursday night at 2 am I was in a deep sleep, dreaming! (I haven't had a dream in a few weeks, mostly because I have been denied REM sleep) and Radha’s cries (which are really more like whimpers of uh-uh-uh (pause) uh-uh-uh) unleashed my inner Sex and the City woman---the latte drinking-never thought I would have children- imagining my life as a single woman with no children-that lies dormant in every woman who is running on caffeine and 3 hours of continuous sleep a night. I fumbled in the night and reached to pick up the whimpering girl, fumbled to whip out my gigantic, already leaking breast and tried to find her tiny little mouth in the darkness. I exhaled as I felt her latch on and apologized for wishing she was not there—

.... or rather wishing that she could sleep maybe 5 hours in a stretch instead of 3 or 3.5 hours.

.... or wishing that I was on a beach somewhere alone.

.... or hell in someone’s back yard shed. As long as it was quiet and nothing was expected of me and/or my breasts.

I think the guilt over normal thoughts is amplified when you are a DBL mom. You should TREASURE it!!! seems to be screaming at me from the moms who obviously never have to be lucid for an 8 am meeting with military men. I met up with another new mom at a BBQ this past weekend and she confessed that she slipped just the littlest bit of rice cereal in her baby’s bottle so she could sleep through the night so she could be functional at work. Her baby was 11 weeks (2 weeks older than Radha) and already looked like a linebacker for the NE Patriots. I didn’t judge her. I am of the opinion if you carry a child you can pretty much do what you want within reason (that does not harm the child), but oh, I too wanted to be a rebel, ignore Dr. P’s advice to hold off on solids until 4-6 months.

But, props to you for continuing to breastfeed. That’s awesome!” the woman said, smiling a very well rested smile.

I so want to stop breastfeeding. I want to stop having to take off my shirt 3-4 times a day at work to pump. I want to come home, relax, watch a little TV without having a child permanently stuck to me for the next 4 hours.

But then I sit with her, watch her hazel eyes widen when she latches on and remains fixated with mine, and watch the joy she gets when the milk comes, the relaxed facial features, the gentle moving over her chin, the small grunts and swallows, the slow, heavy eyelids, the closed eyes and gentle breathing, the popping off and the stretch and groan routine she does like that was the best damn meal she has ever eaten in her life.

And I wonder why I just can't bring myself to stop...