Friday, May 26, 2006

Happy birthday, Joseph

I miss you so much.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

One year ago today, I was in labor. I remember this day like it was yesterday; we spent the day at home together, waiting for the contractions to get closer. I was in a house-cleaning frenzy in anticipation of my parents' arrival. We stopped at the library to get books to bring to the hospital. We almost got into a car accident - the shock of almost crashing sent me into hysterical sobs that wouldn't stop. I got my bangs trimmed because they were falling in my eyes and I knew that would drive me crazy during labor.

Never once did we consider the possibility that things wouldn't go the way they were supposed to. I remember that late in the afternoon, we took a walk in the cemetery across the street to see if the contractions would continue or stop. I always read the headstones as we pass, and at one point I realized that we were passing a cluster of childrens' and babies' graves. Reading the heartbreakingly short date ranges on those headstones gave me a cold chill, and I had a moment of "what if that's bad luck...or a premonition?" but I put it out of my mind. After all, these things don't happen to they.

I want to share something here that my husband wrote in his own blog today. I won't link it, because he doesn't know the URL of this blog, although he knows I keep it - we decided that it should be private. But he gave his permission for me to share this, because I thought parts of it might resonate with others.

"A year ago today, my wife began labor for the birth of our son, Joseph William. In the afternoon of the 26th of May 2005, he was born by caesarian section. His lungs had become filled with fluid during labor, and he was unable to breathe on his own.

The team of doctors worked frantically. They were preparing to move our son from the operating room to the neonatal intensive care unit when they called me over to see him. He was squirming and crying, but I wasn't able to hear the sound of it through the breathing mask that was over his face.

The time between that moment and when I learned that he had died has disappeared from my memory. In the days after his death, especially one long horrible day in the windowless recovery room where we stayed for some time, I became paranoid about the missing hour. I could remember phoning my mother, walking into the chapel and leaving because there was no one there. I must have wandered around the hospital; my wife's parents were there and I know I told them the baby had been taken away for help. Once I woke at night sure that someone had simply taken him, and that if I could understand where the hour had gone I would know where my son was.

It's been a year and that's still all I know. That story is sad, but I don't want to tell you a sad story.

The hour after my son's death was the greatest enlightenment of my life. Opaque memories from my youth revealed themselves with a terrifying clarity. The sound of my Aunt W.'s cries as my uncles bore my cousin J.'s casket to our family cemetery. The mother of my childhood friend hugging me at his funeral when I was 17. My own mother's story of her sister Gayle, my own sister's namesake, who died as a toddler. Every selfless act I had ever witnessed between a parent and a child.

All these moments suddenly had a meaning that was deeper than anything I had experienced before. We are being prepared our entire lives to feel the love I felt for that tiny baby, but life is also trying to teach us something else, something less obvious and frightening. Concealed in those memories is the knowledge that our children may not outlive us. We had only loved our son for 9 months; how could one survive a loss after twenty years?

There was a second, more staggering revelation. The people who had taught us had been right about it all. All our lives, all those who had loved us; they had been right.

They had been right to teach us to love those things small and helpless, but also to love ourselves such that when those things are taken from us, we may continue to live. They had been right to teach us integrity toward our friends, knowing that we would someday need them for more than moving a refrigerator. They had been right to teach us faith, as it is the sole thing that can guide us when life loses its meaning. They had been right to teach us dignity, because it is the true essence of strength and we may hold it even in times when our strength is taken from us. They had been right to teach us tolerance, because without it is impossible to accept forms of love and care that may seem wrong at the time. They had been right to teach forgiveness, as vengeance binds us to misery.

More than anything, they had been right in teaching us to persevere. When we were children and crying on the ground, they had been right to take us and stand us up, not to wipe our tears but to make us taste them and swallow them.

They had been right to make us optimistic fools. Without blind trust in life, how could we take this risk again? How could we tell each other that it would simply be fine, and believe it?

At many retirement parties, 60th birthdays, that manner of thing, I have heard men say: "My wife is amazing." It is written in book dedications, it is spoken in awkward moments in public ceremonies both in real life and fiction. I find these moments embarrassing cliches, but then I am a misanthrope and find a way to eliminate the joy from most things to avoid having Kodak Moments that women will make a fuss about later. So I will say it this way, instead: if you are a man and you are looking for the perfect woman, find a smart one and an honest one. But there is no virtue of a woman that you will ever find more moving than the strength of heart that my wife demonstrated to me one year ago. Its power is impossible to describe; its origins are a mystery to me. It is bottomless and eternal, but rare, and even where it exists it blooms rarely in a lifetime. It is why our species has existed for a hundred thousand years and will see a hundred thousand more.

These babies, to be sure, are flesh and blood. Their loss is an agony. But in reality, they are the flower that blooms of your value, your combined character. If they are lost, a part of you is lost, but the love that created them is not. If you hold fast to that, you will make it."

Friday, May 19, 2006

Well! That was fun.

(warning: TMI.)

I've been having this sneaking feeling that his baby is coming early - I mean, even earlier than I'm already scheduled for. I don't know why, maybe just the fact that I seem so big - I haven't gained weight all around, except for my face, but the belly sticks out SO far - and the fact that I'm already so achy and uncomfortable.

This morning when I got to work, I stopped to use the ladies' room, and discovered two biggish clumps of clear mucus - almost like EWCM, but stickier. I had a lot of that in the very beginning of pregnancy, and knew it was normal, but I hadn't seen any in so long that I got a little freaked. When I went into labor with Joseph I lost my plug that same morning, and there was no mistaking it since it had blood in it and I was already having contractions.

I wasn't in a panic, but I talked to Andy and decided I should call the doctor, just in case. When I spoke with the nurse, they said as long as I was downtown for work anyway, I might as well come in. So I went in and met with a CNM in Dr. Riley's office.

And, as I suspected, I'm fine. She checked my cervix and I'm 1 cm dilated, but she said that's normal for someone who's already had a baby. My cervix is as long as it's possible to be, which is good. And although the baby's head down (what I thought was her head on the upper left is actually her butt), she's still "floating" and not engaged in the pelvis. I got the usual warning about calling if I had painful contractions or bleeding, and was sent back to work.

I feel a little silly, but overall, I'm glad I went. I'd rather go and have it be nothing than not go and have it be something.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I haven't posted in ages because life's been really busy. This new job means I'm in charge of several codes of the budget, and the end of our fiscal year is June 30, so I'm simultaneously trying to get everything closed for the fiscal year and also look ahead to what's going to be happening while I'm out on leave. I think I might actually be getting the hang of this, too.

Mr. NK and I went to Virginia weekend before last to visit his favorite aunt and uncle; his parents drove up and met us there. It was a nice trip - I love this particular aunt and uncle, and am almost closer to them than I am to my in-laws. Uncle C. took us fishing (I didn't think I'd be able to do it, but not only did I help them catch crawdads in the stream for bait, I also spent several hours on the fishing boat...only caught one smallmouth, though) and the weather was gorgeous. Even the 9-hour drive each way wasn't bad.

This past weekend we went to my mom's for Mother's Day. On Saturday I took a big leap of faith and allowed my mom to take me baby-clothes shopping. I've never been the type to go all gaga over baby clothes, but maybe that's because I had a boy last time - something about the girl clothes made it almost impossible to restrain ourselves. I came home with a little lavender-flowered sleeper to bring the Pad home in; an adorable navy dress with daisies and a matching hat; a tiny pair of pink striped overalls; and tons of other cute things. I had a moment of panic, thinking "Oh god, I can't do this - what if something goes wrong and I have to look at this stuff hanging in the closet, unused?" But then I thought that a) I'm not going to CAUSE something bad to happen by buying clothes; and b) I want to have some happy memories of this pregnancy, no matter what happens. Now let's just hope she's really a girl, because I love that daisy dress so much that I'm putting it on whatever comes out.

On Sunday my brother and SIL brought baby Emma over - the first time I'd seen them since the hospital. I was nervous about that, but it actually went really well. Emma is adorable, and I was able to be natural with my brother and SIL - in fact, I was even able to remember how much I like them both. What happened is never going to not hurt, but I don't have the urge to never speak to them again like I once did.

The day before, SIL had called my mom to finalize their plans and asked to speak to me. When I got on, she shyly said that they had a bunch of little onesies and sleepers that Emma had outgrown, and if I wanted them, she'd be happy to bring them. I said yes because I felt like I couldn't say no, but when we hung up I felt sort of crappy - the one thing I swore I wouldn't do, when I found out Emma was a girl, was take their hand-me-downs. But the next day when she brought the bag of clothes, I didn't feel as weird as I expected taking them.

Maybe I'm finally growing up.

In other news, I'm officially on to biweekly appointments - had one last Tuesday at which I learned that: I'd gained 7 lbs in the month previous, breaking my pound-a-week streak (I blame the biscuits and gravy Andy's family served us every morning) but keeping the total to 22 lbs so far; the Pad is growing on track; she's lying sideways with her head on my left side and her feet on my right, a fact backed up by the left-side head butting I keep feeling; and I don't have GD or anemia. Next Tuesday I have my first non-stress test, and will continue to have them from now on.

The Pad is moving so much that it's almost uncomfortable, especially at night. I still love the feeling, but I love it a little less when I get a sharp kick to the bladder. I'm also noticing that I'm getting pretty uncomfortable, especially when I have to get out of bed or roll over, or climb the stairs (we have a townhouse, so I have to climb a lot of stairs). I probably should have exercised more, but I guess it's too late now.

Overall, I'm feeling decent, and even optimistic. Next week is Joseph's birthday, though, and I really don't know what that's going to be like. I am sort of feeling OK about it and dreading it at the same time.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Like many of us in this circle of bloggers, my sadness and shock at Catherine's news is manifesting as increased anxiety for my own pregnancy. I think when something like this happens to us, we tend to feel somehow "immune" to it happening again, on the theory that lightning doesn't strike twice. This has been a sad reminder that that's just not true.

I sent back the doppler on Monday because the lease was up, and I'm already sort of regretting it. Most of the time the Pad moves around enough to be reassuring, but she's particularly quiet when I first wake up in the morning, and I find myself reaching for the doppler on the nightstand at those times.

Oh, and by the way, if you're a fan of "House" on TV and haven't watched last night's episode yet...don't. I love the show (and Hugh Laurie is so my imaginary boyfriend) but...just don't. Not what I needed before bed last night, for sure.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Life is so fucking unfair

I was away and so I'm probably the last to do this, but if you haven't done so already, please go give Catherine your love and support.

There are no words...except that I'm sorry.

Monday, May 01, 2006

just in case it wasn't clear...

I'm cracking up at the responses to my pissy post on Britney. I was in such a bad mood that day and I know the whole thing was irrational, but just to set the record straight, the c-section part was the only thing that was bothering me. Regardless of the time between her c-sections, Britney is gross. Her husband is gross. The thought of them spawning, let alone TWICE, is gross.

...just so no one mistook me for a fan, or anything. :)