July 26, 2011

Sunday, 8pm: I am SO motivated.

We have our calendars out - my laptop and keyboard, her paper and pencil - and sit across a wooden table from one another in our kitchen nook. I feel ready for a schedule. I feel ready to plan five days in a row. I am done shuffling listlessly from here to there, without directions or purpose, blown by the winds of grief from hour to hour.

This time every Sunday evening is sacred in this household. For our parenting sanity. For my routine driven personality. For productivity. And it prevents me from wasting time, something I can occasionally do with reckless abandonment. We haven’t sat down like this since late March.

Monday, K says, let’s talk about tomorrow. We trade tasks and plans and switches and meals and add them to our calendars in unison. I start by typing 5:45am: WAKE UP and feel steadfastly confident in my ability to get up that early again, as I did in my former life.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Lock it in.

As it stands on paper and screen, it’s going to be a good week. We are going to exercise more. We are going to tackle some home projects. We are going to try for another baby. We have time for reading and writing, time alone, meals with friends and enough shared energy to give Stella another action filled week.

Sunday, 8:30pm: The shutting of my computer is the beginning of the end, though I don’t know it yet. My shoulders drop. I stare out the window as the traces of light shoot across the yard. She is always on my mind. Would she be sleeping now? K gets up and makes a couple of drinks. Whiskey and vodka, for this crew.

Sunday, 11pm: We fall into bed early. I set my alarm. You can do it, remember this feeling of motivation, I press myself, and I still have a small part of me that thinks I can manage. I read a little Bukowski and laugh again at his dedication in Pulp: Dedicated to bad writing.

Monday, 5:45am: A soothing sound rises from my phone, which sits on the ground just within reach. For a split second, I’m awakened to a new world, a fresh day that doesn’t have a dead baby stamp on it. Then I remember. Margot is still dead. This is still my life.

Before all of this happened, the bed was like a magnet, pulling me back towards it, beckoning me to rest just a wee bit longer. I rarely caved in then. Now the bed is a wall of concrete, with a heavy ball and chain deeply set into it. The chains wrap themselves around my limbs, the ball sits on my chest, leaving me in a state of heavy submission.

I stare upwards for a moment. The fan blows cool air in from the window. I feel a small drop of comfort in the familiarity of this grief. I skip the snooze altogether and reset the alarm for 7:30. I turn towards K and close my eyes.

July 18, 2011

This piece is dedicated to the 160 babyloss parents who took part in Angie's epic Right Where I Am project (as of July 18) and to all of our babies that were lost. It is also dedicated to the thousands of faceless parents around the world that lose babies every year (some 30,000 in America alone). I originally joined the project because I wanted to soak up as much as I could from everyone who has gone before us. And as I feel Margot slipping away from me as the days without her trudge on, I felt like this was a way for me to be close to her and to honor her death. So, I read and read and read, all the way up to last night, when I read and filed away the 160th post in the project.

I just want to say a huge thank-you to all of the babyloss parents who participated. Words cannot describe the gratitude I feel for each one of you, whether you are years out from your loss or just a few weeks or months. Each and every post, whether heart breaking or hopeful or a blend of the two, was so meaningful and raw and beautiful in it's own right. There is solace in this beautiful mess of a community we have formed since all of our losses. I titled this piece Right Where We Are because in some strange and mysterious way, no matter how many miles separate us, we are in this TOGETHER. There is strength in numbers and I pull from your strength every day.

Cold is the water
It freezes your already cold mind
Already cold, cold mind
And death is at your doorstep
And it will steal your innocence
But it will not steal your substance

But you are not alone in this
And you are not alone in this
As brothers we will stand and we'll hold your hand
Hold your hand

- Mumford and Sons. "Timshel." Sigh No More.

If you're interested in having this file for yourselves, please leave a comment below with your email so I can send you the file (it's really large and downloading it from here won't allow you to print it full size).

A few notes on the project:

- Basically, I took one word or a few words or a sentence from every single post and added to the piece. Each line and color represents a new post, starting with the first post and ending with Angie's. I read every post at least twice and looked for a theme within that post. Whether it was sad or hopeful or depressing or content, I tried to honor that person's post with what I chose to include in the document.

- On a deeper level, to begin with, I also put all of the collective posts together in one document and then read through the document as a whole piece to see if I could find lots of repeated ideas that were communicated. For example, how we will all miss our babies forever or how hard it was for so many people to deal with friends or how anxiety filled the subsequent pregnancy was...stuff like that. And then I tried to include this kind of thing as well from different posts that were written for the project.

- Special love goes out to Sally (Hopes Mama) and Jill (Only A Whisper) - they commented on almost every single post in the entire project. I felt their presence as I read and copied and pasted for hours on end.

- All in all, there were approximately 141,471 words written or 239 pages in my word document. This doesn't include a few BLM's that had private blogs that I couldn't access.

- I went over and over through this piece to make sure I didn't leave out any baby names. I hope I got them all, and I'm fairly certain I did (excluding those who have private blogs that I couldn't access). But if I missed one, please let me know and I can add their name in.

- The original document itself is 4800 X 6000 pixels and 300 DPI, so it prints really clearly at 16 X 20 inches.

July 14, 2011

I am grateful. I am grateful. I am grateful.

I find myself thinking of these words between the rising and setting sun, as the weeks and months click over and move into the past.

But what I have found to be remarkable about these words is that I don’t need to remind myself of them. It’s not as if, in the middle of the sometimes intolerable sorrow, I need to dig deep and remember what I’m grateful for. Nor is it conjured up, a coping mechanism to get me through. Instead, this gratefulness is always just there, as with my grief, and together they seemed to have formed a balancing act that allows me teeter totter my way through the day. These two powers reside somewhere deep inside the cavernous parts of my being, both existing together without being forced or contrived.

For how can I stay in the dark when there is my Kari? How can I keep sinking when there is my Stella? How can there only be sadness when there is my life, which is still filled with more beauty than I could have ever imagined?

Some days my grief shouts louder than my gratitude, leaving me in a paralyzed state of sadness. On these days, I would trade everything good in my life to have Margot back. But some days, like today, I close my eyes, stretch out my hands, crank up the volume and let the gratitude wash over me, one person and experience and fortunate circumstance at a time.

July 9, 2011

It was July 2010 and the line on the pee stick was faint. I hardly even believed K when she showed me, my eyes squinting and focusing, trying to find the line that meant we were having a second child. But there it was, all fuzzy and gray as I held the stick in front of the window.

We embraced near the toilet and exchanged a few excited words. We imagined the little pin point embryo taking shape inside her, the cells multiplying to form the tissue and organs that would become our second little tike.

All it took was that line. We were in. The colossal ball of anticipation began rolling down a mountain that was forty weeks tall. We walked out of the bathroom with eyebrows raised and a  lightness to our steps. I could feel my heart expanding, making room for another child to fall madly in love with. We were going to be a family of four. Stella was going to be a big sister. April 2011 couldn’t come soon enough.

And then we thought and talked about that little person every single day. We followed it’s progress week by week, looking at pictures of how big it was, reading about what new development was happening inside K’s growing belly. We guessed the sex, our guts always playing games with our minds. It’s a boy. I think it’s another girl. No, it’s gonna be a boy. Back and forth we went on it’s gender, just because it’s so damn fun to think about.

We sat in front of a screen at twenty weeks and saw it for the first time. It swooshed and turned and flipped while our doctor probed and pushed until coming to the conclusion that we both guessed at different times along the way. Our little baby was a girl. A girl. We held hands and smiled to one another as our doctor continued to look things over. Stella was going to be a big sister. The colossal ball of anticipation became even larger, if it’s possible, as it rolled past twenty weeks, halfway down the mountain.

The naming of this SHE immediately followed our appointment and the conversation went on for months. We started in on the car ride home. Do you still like Margot? I asked Kari. I think so, she said. I think so.

Prepping Stella for this new sibling was an easy task. Before K’s belly was even noticeable, Stella was already elated. When we told her she was having a sister, just like mommy and daddy had, she grew even more excited. And when K’s belly began protruding farther and farther out, Stella talked about it every day. Momma’s belly have baby, she would say. She would usually follow this up with a joke that was funny even after the 100th time. I HAVE BABY TOO, she would yell as she pulled up her shirt. DADDY HAVE BABY TOO! Her older sister responsibilities began when we told her the baby’s name. Margot? she asked. Margot! she yelled. Almost every day she would gently rub and kiss K's belly and talk to her little sister. Her engagement with the whole process was something we talked about every day because it seemed so astonishing.  

As it is for most, pregnancy is not easy with K, as I wrote about in some detail at thirty-two weeks: Her ribs hurt this time around. They feel as if they have been kicked, on repeat, for several months straight. The only nice part about aching ribs is that it steers the pain away from her back, which has methodically worsened with each new pound that adds itself to her chest, legs and belly. When she's not shifting uncomfortably in bed due to muscle soreness and joint pain, she is getting up, on average, six times to pee at night. She is inevitably tired for most of the day, as universal a sensation as there is for a woman with child. Her emotions swell and contract on a weekly basis, depending on the hormonal shifts that tinker and toy with her mood and eating habits and outlook on life, as if she needed something else to push her over the edge. There is also energy inefficient Stella to contend with this time, the little tike that can go from sunrise to sunset without taking a breather, blowing energy on running and talking and getting dirty and always asking us for "two more minutes" to play before nap or bedtime. And all of this while miraculously carrying a little fetus that is developing on auto-pilot just below the surface, whom she shares nutrients and oxygen with through a small, life allowing cord, a feat so primal and beautiful it's hard to even conceive.

And there was everything else. Getting our closet ready for her arrival. Ordering those tiny little diapers and bringing back out the baby clothes and planning for the arrival of our families. We spent more time with Stella as our family of three would soon be no longer. We ate out more, took longer walks, wrestled and loved and cherished as deeply as we could. It’s the end of an era, we kept saying to one another.

We knew what the final push in labor and delivery would mean. The single greatest moment of my life had been seeing Stella’s body emerge from K. The rush of love in that moment practically barreled me over. The pure joy, the sheer ecstasy of that first moment is almost too profound and mysterious for words. As the great ball of anticipation charged past thirty-six weeks, this moment was all we could think about. What will she look like? What will labor be like? Will she be big and long like Stella? Will she have lots of hair? It simply goes without saying. We couldn’t wait to meet her. We couldn’t wait to introduce her to Stella. We couldn’t wait to introduce her to our family and our friends. We couldn’t wait to introduce to her arranged best friend Lyla, who was due to make her own entrance just a few weeks before Margot. We couldn’t wait to dump the copious amounts of love on her that we had been storing up since first seeing the fuzzy line.

By the time the ball of anticipation plowed through thirty-seven weeks, it was all there was. It felt as though we had been holding our breath for her arrival for so long that we couldn’t wait to exhale again as we held our little girl. When people asked if Stella was my only one, I would tell them she wouldn’t be my only one for long. Our baby is coming, our baby is coming. I wanted to shout it out Paul Revere style everywhere I went.

And then, right at the very very very end, just as the anticipation was nearing climax and after all of the deep longing and build up and growing love and physical hardship and everything else that went into those nine and a half months, Margot died.

July 1, 2011

June 2011

In an effort to remember everything else going on these post-Margot days, I'm bringing back the end of month recap. Some days it feels like grief is all there is, but after looking over the past month in pictures, it's nice to remember we got up to some other stuff as well.

HIGHLIGHTS: We spent most of the month playing in our neighborhood with friends and kids, with our fenced in yard being the focal point. My dad also swung through for two days (supposed to be the first time he met Margot). We spent some time hiking at the memorial site, or Margot's River as we have come to think of it. And we made it down to San Diego to see our perfect little nephew Miles turn two. And we got some tattoos. Two circles, one for each kiddo.