Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'm size 16, going on 17

Allow me to indulge my vanity for a moment. This is me as a teenager, in one of my favorite spots:

Positively gawky.  Ya know what my nickname was in my house was growing up? String bean. In the interest of being thorough: In college, my two nicknames were "Shrew" (well, my name is Kate, after all) and "Butterball" since--some argued--when I laugh hard, I sound like a turkey.

Gratuitous pic of turkey follows:

Ahhh!  That photo is ginormous!  Someone please teach me how to drive this thing.... eeeek!  Whatev.  Totally meant that.  It goes with my "big" theme today...

At any rate... my point?  Oh yes, that. I'm not meant to be quite this ponderous.  Going all puffer fish annoys me greatly.  My pride is pleased I can at least in part blame steroids: you see, my body found it most fitting to observe the demise of my pregnant with an arthritis flare up. (Nope, not bitter, why do you ask?  I love my mortal coil. what did St. Francis call it? "Sister Donkey?" heh heh heh..hee haw.)  But I digress.

So anyway, prednisone both causes weight gain and increases one's appetite.  In the interest of honestly...  Well, allow me to put it in song:

I'm size 16, going on 17.
I know I should not eat
Pizza and ice cream, chocolate and candies;
Bacon is not white meat...

Totally unprepared am I
To face my shorts sized 10;
Timid and shy and scared am I
Of what will happen then...

I need someone thinner and meaner
Yelling me what to do...
Step aerobics, Yogalates
YMCA must do!
I'm not hungry, I'm really not hungry...
Nope, I'm really not.
I'm not gonna eat, I'm just gonna sleep
I... Oh darn, hand me that Oreo...  Just five, please, really.
My accepted mission: plan to go daily to the Y, and this end up there at least once a week. Just made it two days in a row, and about to leave for the third.  Whew! :)

It's not a perfect experience...  20% of every exercise class is composed of machine-engineered perfect women placed there partly to inspire you while they show off their perfect balance, strength, tone and flexibility... but mostly it's to provide a near occasion of despair.  Also, despite a room full of over-exerted bodies, instructors can smell my insecurities and make huge efforts to be helpful.
In Zumba class, they jog over hooting during a dance routine so they can make sure I'm applying enough dynamic hip action.  The eyes of several toned persons follow me.  When using exercise balls, teachers thoughtfully place their mat beside mine (way in the back) thus attracting the attention of all the robot women looking for their next move. In yoga, they demonstrate both what is supposed to be done as well as the "beginner's modification," with a peacefully pointed look in my direction. Thus, an upside down pretzel executed perfectly by the rest of the class becomes me sitting cross legged looking extra dumb, if--somehow--enlightened.
Will let you know how this goes...  Meanwhile, I'm keeping in mind that at least the pounds I've gained because of kids are worth it... :)  The "Vanity of vanity's" passage would somehow fit here, eh? lol...  Enjoy the sunshine!  I think, maybe, it's actually spring! :D

Monday, April 22, 2013

Month's Mind

It's like an ice cream headache or brain freeze.  The triggers, I mean.  I'll be busily changing over the winter to summer clothes, find a perfect pink infant outfit, and it's... sharp breath... ouch, ouch, ouch... okay, better.  And totally saving this little dress.  Cuz who knows, right?  And mostly, yeah, I can't bear to just donate it right now.

Only totally lost it once last week, for which I'm giving myself a small gold star.  I would have found out the gender last Thursday, as I had scheduled the ultrasound for the last advisable week to find out whether it was a boy or girl so that family from out of town would be with me.  So that was on my mind when I was scanning through my calendar and saw "May 1st: Autopsy results."  And suddenly I'm just bawling mid-sentence into scheduling a mundane event with someone.  (They were kind, if a bit confused.)

Grieving has been an interesting process, witnessing how the psyche separates the pain of loss from the memory of the one lost.  Seems to try again and again to get it just right, balancing back and forth from too much and too little of each: the odd and necessary pairing of pain and memory.   Whenever my mind seems to create a thin layer of ice by getting harder and colder to protect itself from the grief, my heart discovers this deception, smashing the ice through some trigger to preserve the memory, but a little less painfully every time...

Another noticeable aspect of the process is that there are no rules to refer to.  Like when do I take the sympathy cards off the mantle?  They're pretty and they're like hugs on paper so....  Also weird: I-Phone.  Do you know when you try to delete the "My Pregnancy" app it asks: "Do you want to delete My Pregnancy?"  And you are supposed to click yes or cancel.  Yeah right.  That app can just gestate a bit longer.  Whatever.

And there are my odd tiny joys.  Like finding the baby cow.  At least all is right in the bovine world of our toy box.  Moo hoo! 

Another weird thing: anniversaries.  Heard about that trigger but never experienced it before.  With only noting a calendar briefly beforehand, I cried myself to sleep last night and was crying before I woke this morning.  And after a couple weeks of pretty close to normal, today hurts like crazy. 

It's been exactly a month.  Yesterday was the day I found out: The 21st is the date of death on her remembrance card with the passive looking pastel angel-child and the nearly incomprehensible prayer.  The funeral home was kind enough to make them, though I didn't get to choose the pictures nor the prayer, both of which I find on the line between disturbing and humorous, highly desirable qualities of remembrance cards.  Dost thou observe them forthwith?  And "without any desert o of other"?  Say what?  Ah, I want to edit... ack.  :)

And the pics!

Well the bird one isn't truly terrible.  :)

So I had the D&C March 22nd.  At the time in the morning I'm writing this, my parents would not have made it over yet... I remember how their unusual arrival started the day, turning it from totally normal to something strange and then nightmarish. That incomparably horrible day that seems like a century ago, and yet only yesterday. It is the hardest day for me to think about, so I don't if I can help it.  Because even though she had died some days before then, today was the day I really lost her.

I plan to go to her grave today.  I'll admit I don't go often.  Not that I don't want to; I certainly care, and will feel more complete somehow when I get that headstone.  Unfortunately, it's not on the way to anywhere we usually go.  St Ann's Cemetery is in my hometown, its entrance guarded by not one but two beautiful churches of mother and daughter: St. Mary and St. Anne.  Funny how a section of the state I never particularly cared for or paid attention to has become such a beloved little spot on this planet.  So while I've wanted to visit more, business and forgetfulness and distraction have interfered.  Moreover, it just doesn't seem like she's "there." She's an angel beside me and a presence in my heart. Smiling over her sisters while abiding with Our Lord.  I blow kisses in the direction of her grave sometimes as I have to turn home again without stopping by... But then I blow kisses up to the sky too, and sometimes cry because the sky is so big and she was so small.

There seem to be no rules on how often to visit graves or instructions on how to spend these little "anniversaries." So I spent yesterday on a family outing, our two angels surely in tow somehow, and thought of her among the daffodils, and remembered her as I looked at the sea.

I love you baby girl, and I really don't know how to deal with not meeting you this summer, taking you home to your adoring big sisters to hold you, and maybe then have you spend time in the new white crib we just bought weeks ago.  I don't know how to go on without you, my youngest and smallest one. And yet I am.

"Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

I can see that verse in this photo: Can you look at this and deny there's a kite? :)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Lost and found

"She's three.  Well she looks five, but she's three.  Light pink shirt, jeans, blond ponytail, about this tall.  Crown face-painted on her forehead."

Eager to help, wringing her hands, my fellow mom-at-arms looked blankly at me as she tried to recall such a child. 

I sighed, "She needs a belt.  She keeps flashing Hello Kitty underwear."

Instantly the mom perked up, "Oh I just saw her!  She was playing over there at the water painting with my son.  Five minutes ago.  But oh dear, she's not there now..."

Clutching Felicity on my hip, who kept chirping, "C C!  R U?  CC! R U?"  I struggled to catch a glimpse of Cecilia, who had disappeared in the multitudinous mass of children under the silk scarf tent at the "Big Backyard" section of the zoo.  I glanced at the woeful face of the older child I had asked to "stick to your sister like glue while I chase the baby."  Distraction had prevailed, and Cece had vanished.

Looking both Annemarie and Claire in the eye, I said simply, "Cecilia's gone.  Find her." And they ran. 

I should probably be describing a very emotional scene.  I was amazingly calm.  Though I mean yeah, I ran around yelling her name, attracting the attention of hundreds of nearby parents and children, and alerting the zoo authorities who were suddenly looking like they finally had something exciting and super important to do. 

A girl barely out of her teens strode towards me brandishing a walkie-talkie.  "Okay, I've got the description: Hello Kitty shirt..."

"NO no no, pink shirt, blue jeans, blond ponytail, Hello Kitty underwear... hey never mind that part.  She has a crown painted on her face!  Really, I think that's quite distinctive..."

As she barked my descriptions into her device, I saw over her shoulder three figures pacing towards me from the Treehouse section.  Two tall, and one short and smiling.  A crown painted on her forehead. 

Despite the appropriate consequences and reasonable scolding that I administered, I'm not completely confident I got my message through.  Cece stills insists, "Mom, I'm not lost!  Just having a great time!"

You'd probably say the same, huh Pepper?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

One burning question...

Wow. Two nights by myself in a hotel room. Highly recommend it. Moms, for your next birthday; go see just in case it might work! :)  2.5 star hotel somewhere nearby to sleep, swim solo, read and write, watch your very own show, eat slowly while sitting down: very unique experience. I'm not sure I will check out... hmm... :)
Well I managed to check out, been working on this post for days you see.  Apparently it nearly killed me to leave though; I have a accidentally photo from my phone of the light at the end of the tunnel!  :)  Okay, hallway.  You see? Hee hee.

ANYway, as I have been gradually recovering from the shock of my experience (um no, not leaving the hotel), I have found myself left with one pressing question...  My mom never had a miscarriage that she knew of, and if anyone in my family did I'll never know, as the bloodline I was born into simply does not talk about unpleasant things. 

But my mother had close friends who did have this awful experience. And from the age of 9 I just knew, as I saw these women hug and cry their hearts out, that I could never handle such a loss.

Thus ever since I was a kid who had no clue how babies arrived on this earth, through my teens and into my young adulthood, my most constant request to God was a very specific prayer, asked in the greatest faith and trust: that I never would have a miscarriage or a stillborn. It was my greatest fear.  Second to that was sharks of course, but as I saw no chance of me becoming an oceanographer who handfed steaks to Great Whites for a living, it wasn't a continual prayer of mine, though I'm sure it occasionally made the list...:)
Now I find myself having had one of each (well as close to having a stillborn as I want to get). And my heart is asking why.
At the very time when it has never been more necessary for me, and all the while feeling surrounded and upheld by the prayers of many like never before, and in the very midst of experiencing much more peace and calm and even quiet joy then the situation required, and in weeks where I have felt the grace of God more keenly than ever: I still find myself calling the whole process into question.
Namely, what is the value of prayer, of asking God for something, if He is simply going to do His own will anyway?
And not just doing His will, but in this!!! To separate a mother from her child. To have a tiny child die, possibly to have suffered. To have a mother grieve this loss and feel this absence for the rest of her days. To know no family picture, travel, or holiday will ever be really complete. To wonder "what if" and "what would have been," to call to mind so many questions with no answers. As a dear friend of mine recently put it: Lord, why send a child only to take them away?
I got out my Bible. I thought about everything I'd learned about God's antecedent and consequent will.  Went back to what the Summa says based on 1 Timothy 2:4, that God wants all men to be saved and come to know the truth, but since this doesn't happen, what does this say of God's will?  Seems scholars of Scripture have claimed that this verse expresses God's "antecedent" will, which is the sort of willing expressed prior to considering all the facts of a particular situation. (These terms are used in law, I believe). But what actually occurs at times is God's "consequent" will, which takes all facts into account (such as man's free will).
Naw, that didn't help much, other than to reassure me that God does not like death, that what happened to me wasn't the perfect plan for mankind He had in mind in the beginning.  Just like I'm sure the awful Boston Marathon bombings weren't in the antecedent will of God; it just came to be consequently from the diseased mind of some hapless soul.  At any rate, the study part made tremendous sense when I was in college. But now it's mostly "baby is gone; want baby back." So later I picked up a rosary, and started to pray the first sorrowful mystery, reflecting on Christ's Agony in the Garden.
And I thought of Jesus perfectly praying, three times, very specifically, in great trust and faith and blood-sweating earnestness to the all-good and all-loving Father: "Let this cup pass. Yet not as I will, but as You will."
You know, when I did have the time to study theology back in the day, I wrote my thesis on the "fiat" of Mary, where in response to hearing God's incomprehensible will for her, she said to the angel Gabriel: "Be it done unto me."  The title I used was "Fiat: The Word That Made Man Higher Than Angels."  I was all studious and non-emotional about it at the time.  "Be it done unto me. Not as I will, but as You will."
When Jesus prayed "Let this cup pass" the night before His death, it didn't "work." And He didn't want something that was bad. And He wasn't asking the wrong way. And we wasn't at all lacking in the faith that could move mountains.  And He probably knew the answer anyway, which is way more than any of us do when we pray...
So then why did He bother asking?
With this question nipping at the back of my brain for days, I went to a study session on a book by Priscilla Shirer.  This awesome Baptist church down the road has Bible studies with child care that I recently started attending again.  Child care and coffee.  Frankly, I think I might come to a study on the Cat in the Hat with that setup, but fortunately it was on Scripture. Listening to the video segment, I heard Ms. Shirer talk about how everything that concerns us concerns Him, and then she hadta go straight to talking about the sparrow scripture, and I got all choked up of course, and I'm trying to hide it, and I don't have a tissue, so I sneak out....
After I got back with a tissue and checked to make sure my eye makeup wasn't approaching late Goth, the video had moved on to to Ephesians 3:20-21: "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Priscilla reflected that however big a miracle we could ever dream up, that God can do way better than that miracle. The discussion revolved around the indisputable fact that God is able to do all things; He can, but sometimes He won't.   That it is our business to believe He can do anything, while it is His job to decide what will ultimately be for our greatest good.  That it all boils down to trust: if God does not do what you ask of Him, do you trust that He has something better in mind?  And He does; He has tremendous "Kingdom" purposes we can't see from this earth. 'He is way past, my way past," Priscilla kept saying.  His best interests for me are way better and beyond what my best interests are for me.  That's for sure... 
I was in the right place at the right time.  I started furiously writing my own notes, the kind I write so fast I can't read them later because my handwriting is atrocious.  But scanning back over them I was saying something about how on Good Friday, the "good" thing which no one could see as a good thing at the time myseriously was the death of God.   Because He foresaw the resurrection.  I scribbled about Jeremiah 29:11, and was thinking that all things are not good, but all things are worked out for my good because I love Him. That if one stops praying, it doesn't limit God, but being closed off in our communication, and our lacking in faith and trust, does indeed limit how we receive from Him.

No I'm not saying "I completely get it now"; prayer is still mysterious to me, with God's plan prevailing overall, yet with Him taking what we ask into account, somehow.  But I know we are tremendously valuable to God, so it stands to reason that our thoughts and desires and words to Him matter too. Scripture tells us He holds every one of our tears (Psalm 56:8). That He loves us, and sings over us (Zeph 3:17). We are paradoxically always safe in his hands while still on the great and unpredictable adventure called a lifetime, the journey we don't get out of alive. After which, we are immortal. Not a bad deal, that last part.

Don't get me wrong: I have not reached some magical place of total peace at a second trimester loss.  I haven't.  I'm deeply saddened, and on this earth I never will fully understand why this happened.  But I believe I will someday understand.  And I trust in the truth of one of my favorite verses from the Lord: "For I know the plans I have for you  . . . plans to prosper you and not to harm you: to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11)  I still don't get how Samuel's mother Hannah, after her years of infertility, had the courage to give her son up to a life of service in the temple. (1 Sam. 1:22) But I can believe that Perpetua was called to a life far better than one I could give her here, and that she has a meaningful purpose, summoned to serve in the courts of the Lord. 
In the end, I'm realizing more that prayer is a profound expression of trust, not a list to Santa. And as we trust and talk to God in prayer, by pouring out our hearts to a God who knows us intimately and loves us deeply and feels our smallest suffering: having this conversation keeps us open to grace. Knowing He can do all things, we ask for what we want and need. Knowing that the price is paid and the bill is taken care of, we are very free to ask for any good thing. But while I pray to my God for what I believe I need in good faith, I can confidently add at the end, "Do that, or something better." I want to have that courageous trust in my Father, even while I remind Him to go gentler on me.  To remain open not only to what I, in my limitedness, think is good, but to a good so good as to be beyond my wildest dreams.

Lord, I trust that You love, You care, and You know better than I.  Not my will, but yours be done. Fiat.
For in the end, sometimes, if the cup passes like we ask, we could miss the Holy Grail.

"When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation." Luke 11:2-4

(Linked to

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Last night, I was in the beauty aisle of Walgreens, surveying the various sequined and feathered objects meant for female hair. "Tacky, tacky, tacky....where is... hmm, not tacky enough." I was going for sickeningly, disgustingly, absurdly tacky.  Some seriously stupid bling.  You see, my older girls were supposed to dress as rock stars for their school Glee concert (how I got myself into that, I'm still unsure...) 

And somewhere in the makeup and pulling outrageous (but modest) why-did-we-keep-these clothes out of hiding from closets, I found I was actually having a good time.  I also found some hair pieces that fit the bill and the concert was a success, despite the fact that one of my daughters had generously glitter-glued one of her nicest shirts in an effort to be festive for the occasion.

Matter of fact, having considered the circumstantial evidence, it seems I'm back to normal and even more so: I was kept too busy to (gasp!) blog this week.  My husband went on a business trip while my parents simultaneously left for vacation, my older kids were at school, and I stayed home relearning the necessity of coffee and how to make it again.  Finally found grounds, pot, and hot water, combining them to create a concoction which made it clear why cafes stay in business.  And once again, I donated to the cause of all Donuts getting Dunkined.  Yes, okay, it's an addiction.  And indubitably, I'm lacking some supplement or key vitamin.  But until an ulcer says differently, I maintain that coffee is much more fun. 

I am also relearning that if moms like me don't make coffee and pray--simultaneously--you may as well go back to bed and stay there until the toddler hands you (yes, hands you) a fully-loaded diaper two minutes later.  At least with me, if I don't (prayerfully) imbibe coffee by a certain point of the morning, I get slower and stupider as the day progresses. It's like I don't have a brain until I have coffee.

Okay yes, fine, part of this problem is because, okay, I'm not getting enough sleep.  I do need to relax more after all the trauma and drama.  And I am trying really, really, really hard to relax.  Pursuit of relaxation has taken me to the wonderful land of Groupon and sales in services like massages and facials.  I chose both. 

Upon entering the massage parlor, my eyes finally adjusted enough in the dim lighting to see the front desk whereupon was displayed a list of such reasonable, sensible rules as: "Clients shall have showered within eight hours of treatment" and "Clients shall not have contagious diseases."  Then I made out the form of my somewhat disheveled practitioner sitting behind the desk, boasting a bottle of Pepto-bismol in lieu of beverage.  (I'm serious). And I reflected on the reality that people don't always practice what we preach.

After taking me (?) (!) to see her certificate of massage certification hanging on the wall, I was asked to "disrobe to my level of comfort."  Now, as a seasoned rheumatoid (yep, that's a word) I've had therapeutic massages before; as a woman who's given birth to four children... No problem, you know?  These people are extremely professional and the draping is very thorough.  So I get on the table, wrapped in all appropriate blankets.

She was a chatty one.  I heard all about her martial arts career.  I was told what various muscle manipulations were for (without my asking).  I particularly recall one where she said, "Now watch this; this is very relaxing: I'm going to push hard on your rib cage and shoulder here to release the (some muscle group)."  Naturally, I tensed up when I heard the words "push hard," and then was confused because the pressure was barely perceptible....

Anyway, I was somewhat reassured that the Pepto, which she voluntarily chose to explain, was necessary due to an inadvisable meal she had consumed the day before.  Hoping so vehemently, due to my absolute phobia of the stomach bug, I closed my eyes and tried to relax, listening to the recording of a thunderstorm.

"YOU ARE LISTENING TO SOUNDS OF NATURE, RECORDED FOR YOUR DEEP MEDITATIVE EXPERIENCE.  AS YOU PONDER THE INSCRUTIBLE MYSTERIES OF..." A deep voice boomed these words from what had once been the sound of a rain CD.  I burst out laughing, thereby ruining part of my draperies, as the practitioner starts loudly swearing, bustling towards the CD player, punching buttons and rapping at it with her knuckles.  "CATHY!  What have you done to this **&$&! machine! I have a CLIENT!  Get IN here!"  I scrambled to rearrange my draperies as I realize I'm suddenly expecting company... "Cathy" (I assume) rushed in while they both fussed at the I-pod, CD combo machine, still reflectively booming stuff like "AS YOU DELVE INTO YOUR INNER CORE, YOU WILL FIND THE GREAT PEACE THAT FILLS THE UNIVERSE" for 12 minutes (12 minutes which, looking at my watch afterwards, apparently came from the hour massage I'd Grouponed for.  I mentally noted that "you get what you pay for.":)

Did I learn my lesson?  Ha!  Concluding that trying massages without recommendations was a probable waste of my time, money, and patience, I still went for the facial.  Hadn't had one of those since two days before my wedding in 2001.  Sounded less invasive, and possibly youthening.  (Yes, that's now a word, did you know?)

So I get there, was presented with a terry cloth wrap, and asked to change into it with the opening in the back.  Wondering if it was somehow ordained that every office setting I entered in life would now involve changing into johnnys, I protested that I (really) just wanted a facial, on my face. 

I was informed that "the products we use could alter the coloration of your shirt should anything drip upon it." Vaguely wondering if they used bleach on face now, I observed my shirt. 

I liked this one.  I changed.

Clutching the white wrap, I was then paraded (why oh why) to a room full of prone women on tables with pads on their eyes and wraps around their heads.  Realizing I was to become one of these women shortly, I sighed and let go of my former idea of sitting in a chair with someone tentatively touching up my face.  So again, I get on a table, pull the blankets about, and wait for the relaxation to arrive.

Once they found out how to wrap "all this long hair" (why, thank you) my eyes were covered with pads soaked in something I earnestly hoped was beneficial.  I then realized, as I tried to take a deep, cleansing breath, that I was in near danger of drowning.  My facist (another new word) employed large handfuls of lotion that went suddenly from my chin, over my lips, and immediately all around my nostrils.  I was soon sputtering and giggling and trying to breathe.  Which meant my facist got chatty (well hey, I'm friendly too... who needs to relax anyway) and we gabbed throughout the process when my mouth wasn't covered with other lotions and potions.  Overall, the experience was okay but... well, if I'm being picky the technician evidenced increasing symptoms of halitosis as the facial progressed.... Ah well. 

Approximately 39 hot towel applications were used where one's face is wrapped in a towel dosed in hot water, covering everything but one nostril (most of the time), and firmly pressed.  This was followed by (perhaps they ran out of lotion?) a dry-plastic-gloved facial massage which was so odd as to also require a new word: scrubtrilescant.

Well, I tried to relax with these appointments in the midst of normal mommy life, to no avail.  My husband took pity on my bold and useless attempts.  Thus, I'm writing you from a hotel, where I have been put for two nights ALL. BY. MYSELF.  To think, and write, and sleep. 

Yes, I just felt the emotion surge towards me just change from pity to envy.  :)  Rest assured, I have not spend a night alone in a room, in a place I didn't know anyone, since I visited the Nashville Dominican Convent as a potential postulant when I was 19.  So perhaps this was somewhat overdue.

Thank you for your prayers.  I actually have time to pray, alone, for all of you, and I'm using it, with so much gratitude for all your support during these past few weeks. 

"Truly my soul finds rest in God; my deliverance comes from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken."  Psalm 62:1-2

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Well some results are in...

And one of them is that Nationwide ain't on my side.... You know how the elderly gentleman spun out of control in the right lane, kept spinning into my lane, hitting my van in the front? Turns out, I rearended him.  Yeahhh.  That is news to me.  Currently, our 21st Century insurance is arguing with my "victim's" Nationwide.  We will see how things turn out.  Ah financial issues, our old friend...

So the available distractions from the great mysteries of death, life, and the will of God are increasing in number and intensity.  I am also trying to hyperfocus on organization and spring cleaning now that I ... feel better and oh only about five pounds lighter due to the consistent supply and consumption of brownies and lasagna and the like these weeks. Nice try guys... keeping my weight up. :) You have been such a blessing.  I mean even on my best days, every time I open the fridge I feel like I'm in an episode of Chopped.  I'm quite sure there would have been several days I would have forgotten to cook at all, let alone know how to.  :)

Life sure goes on.... Dan is even preparing for a business trip to NYC next week (though for just two days). The older girls have rehearsal for their choir concert almost every night next week. The younger girls have had the croup for days.

And how am I doing? Well, somewhere in between "pretty good" and "how do I go on?" :S  I like the sunshine. I like normal clothes. I love not being quesy.  Yet I wept today while picking up toys, because I found the mommy in the "Kiss and Care" cow set Felicity likes... but I still can't find the calf.  :S

I've actually had a couple tear-free days now, though not consecutive ones yet. Other than some minor physical symptoms, the occasional sad note or drawing from Annemarie and Claire, and my husband's more constant inquiries if I'm "okay," I have moments where I actually wonder if all this was some bad dream, and where on earth I came up with this awful story I keep writing about.  But then there are aching moments of sadness when something changes from the before to the after, and it can be the darndest things... Most recently, it was finding that we'd left a computer running for a couple months.  The moment it was turned off, I felt yet another of those tiny changes from the beloved reality of the past to the emptier present, and it is so bizarre but golly it hurts.

Sometimes these more unreasonable things bother me more than the obvious things which do (indeed) prove this all is real: like today when Women & Infants (yeah the same hospital that performed my surgery) sends me this big fat envelope congratulating me on my pregnancy and telling me now's the time to schedule birthing classes.  Also in the packett was a brochure with a newborn's hand saying "This is Why." (I assume the end of this sentence is "[why] we do what we do.")  Two weeks ago, I was handed the sister brochure to this one, with a smiling older woman going into surgury, and the words "This is Why" on the front as well.  This was particulary odd since I was handed this brochure within minutes of finding out my baby was dead, and the biggest question was (and still is) "Why?!?!"  And somehow I don't think it was to become a smiling surgury patient at this somewhat insensitive hospital....

But yes, back to this post's title, we are a tiny step closer to finding out some answers.  I've had only one follow-up doctor's appointment so far, though there are many more to come.  And I did actually receive some results on Perpetua. I had imagined I'd receive these results in an office with a large, highly-polished desk, surrounded by inane floral decor.  Instead, the first pathology reports suddenly appeared while I was perched on a high exam table, decked out in a paper skirt, fighting the urge to yell and throw things because I was also between an ultrasound machine and a huge wall chart of "Your Baby's Development Week by Week."

Now I'm still waiting on the (hopefully) more conclusive autopsy results. But I will type verbatum the results of Perpetua's genetic testing, delivered in the sensitive manner described above:

"Results & Interpretation (Verified): Female result with a gain of 912 Kb at 6q14.3 of uncertain significance."

Say what?  The dear doctor, pulling from a decade's old bio-chemistry degree, tried to decipher this along with me.  And very basically, it means Perpetua did have something abnormal in one pair of chromosomes, with the right chromosome having more genetic material than the left.  This particular chromosomal abnormality has only been observed in one (!!!) other patient, ever.  And in that case, the baby lived.

The conclusion of a page of barely comprehensible findings states the following two sentences:
"The significance of the gain at 6q14.3 is uncertain.  Genetic counseling is recommended."

So yeah, I think I'll wait for the autopsy, which I hope and pray will be in English and intended for those of us with liberal arts educations.  And baby girl, I don't care what rare thing, significant or insignificant, was different about you.  I love you perpetually.  :)

The most positive experience I've had since I last posted was meeing with a fellow mom who has experienced this type of loss, and has actually had to do so three times.  I stayed out with her till 11; I don't think Panera dared kick out two sobbing ladies from the table way in the back, hee hee.  She gave me a necklace with silver threads wrapped around two shining beads, to remember my lost little ones: Gabriel and Perpetua.

It is perfect.  Such a comfort to have something tangible to hold when I think of them, especially after my hands have (again) automatically sought my once rounded belly.  It is so helpful to remember, in this time when I feel so literally empty, that I am never alone.

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."  Isaiah 41:10

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The glad game

Darn it.  I really wanted to be blogging about the ridiculous weather, and our awesome Pope (who's living in a hotel!  And just embraced the son of a friend of mine, a boy who has CP!  So much to talk about...)

But I still feel lost in all this.  The "lost" feeling has been making me stare blankly a lot. Anywhere and everywhere I am.  I feel like I'm misplaced... That I should really be somewhere else. It's very similar to the uncomfortable, kinda itchy feeling you have when you go on an errand without your infant for the first time. Feels great to be away and get a break, but you're also antsy. 
I feel that way all the time. Like I really must be going, because its high time to get back.  Except I don't know how to get back, and I don't know where I'm going.
I really miss her. 

There are so many triggers! Hiding under the bathroom sink in the form of a stick with two dark and definitive lines. In the restaurant with the sappy music that would make you cry if you lost an umbrella let alone a baby.  Mailed in a cemetery plot deed that came today.  Discovered in notes your kid was writing:

("That's so sweet... sob...")  Inside the grocery store where--last time you were there--you were morning sick and craving butternut squash. And speaking of food, it is awfully hard to remember that snacking in the middle of the night no longer means I'll be less nauseated later.  Darn this awesome candy, and millions of friends who can actually cook...  And as if on queue, a certain Sarah just dropped off soup and pizza... I'm being so spoiled.  And I will get very fat... oh dear... :)

And I'm having dreams.  Some are really great and helpful.  In one dream, I was crying that I had not set up her coffin better, done more for her burial, something like that.  And then this statuesque, strong, beautiful sixteen year old with brown hair and the kindest blue eyes said, "Mom, are you kidding me?"  With such gentle playfulness, and so sheerly, delightfully alive.  Yep, I dreamt a teenage Perpetua was sassing me.  Heck, I'll let her.  She's seen the Beatific Vision of God... I haven't.  So in some ways, she's older and wiser than me.  Outside of time.  Time here is linear: you have to grow from a baby to a toddler and potty train and all that... not so in Heaven.  C.S. Lewis writes some about that... somewhere.  I mean, why can't she be sixteen if she wants, and then be a baby at night rocked to sleep by angels?  I'm sure there are, oh, a bazillion delightful options available to the citizens of heaven that haven't crossed our one track, 24-7 minds yet. 

Then I had another dream that I woke shaking from: I could hear a baby screaming for help, but could not find her and could not get to her.  After I woke, I reasoned that this fear probably stemmed from the poor animal side of my brain of a mommy that can no longer tend to her young.  I then went back to sleep and dreamt there was an axe-welding contest a bunch of women were entering where the winner would get free breast augmentation surgery.  I can't make that up; thank my crazed subconscious.  No, I'm not even going to try to figure out where that came from... :S
And I'm scared.  I'm supposed to find out results tomorrow at my OB appointment, when I have to go back to the office I first heard the awful news at.  I'm afraid they will find out that--somehow--this could have been prevented, and then I will have to fend off the inevitable guilty feelings, no matter how I didn't "intend" or "try" to do anything to hurt her.  I'm also afraid I will find out nothing at all, or that it could not have been prevented... because then, how could I feel "safe" if there is a "next time"??

Ugh.  Pray for me. 
But there's more to life than death. Thus, it's time to engage in the world's most annoying pastime: the glad game. Hey at the very least, it would make certain family members very happy to know that I tried the technique.  Particularly the ones who keep reminding me that what happened was definitely for the best and that Perpetua being in heaven will prove to be such a blessing to me. (These constant reminders may be entirely accurate, but they are equally unhelpful.)
Anyway: the glad game! From a beloved classic book and movie, you know: "PolluANNa! Come out 'n play!  PollyANNa!" etc.
I can be glad because... :D
  • I have been reunited with my one true liquid love: iced coffee. So helpful when you can never seem to get enough sleep, so useful to get more done.
  • I'm shrinking, and now fit into real clothes.  Well more slowly than I should be, because there is so much CHOCOLATE around... Hmm.  That's bad and glad, so going ahead... 

  • I discovered my misplaced ultrasound pics of Perpetua sucking her thumb. Okay that was sad and glad, so moving on....
  • I found a place with zero triggers: Twin River Casino. (Yep, that's what I did last time I got babysitting: gambling.) Running a 2-cent slot while getting pickled in the second-hand smoke of a despondent elderly lady is just about close to perfect right now. So completely non-norm and unfamily friendly. And I doubled my money. 10 to 20 bucks. The rush, my friends. The rush.
  • I'm becoming noticeably more agile climbing through the driver's side to get to the passenger's side. Yeah, because the mini van door doesn't work with the dent caused by the guy who spun into me whom the accident report says _I_ hit. Okay that's mad and glad... so moving on.
  • I have adorable kids, a caring husband, awesome friends, and an Almighty Father in heaven. That's super.  

"And the peace of God, which surpasseth all understanding,
keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:7