Dear Gabe

at night

when you are asleep

and our whole world is quiet

and it is very, very late

and very, very dark

I sneak into your room

and lean down over your bed



that my nose touches your cheek

and I leave it there

until I catch the rhythmic cadence

of your breath




and I leave my nose by your cheek a little longer

so I can drink in your sleepy scents

and soak up your youth

and bask in the sweetness of your spirit

until my tiredness overtakes me

and I have to leave

and crawl into my own bed

and fall asleep for perfect night dreams

where you

and I

and dad

can hardly stand how happy we are

simply because we are



my daughter, Mara Shirin.

It was a big day in the slightly cosmopolitan household.

Test results.





So tonight, I want to make a list.  Of things I know about my baby.  Because even though her life was short, she was still here.

  1. It’s a girl!  Something I’ve always wanted to say!
  2. She has a name, as I said earlier.  Mara Shirin.  By most sources, Mara means bitter.  Shirin, however, means sweet.  Bitter sweet.  A fitting name for a long-awaited-for child who left us too soon.  We’re thrilled she joined us and heartbroken we didn’t get to meet her.
  3. She was normal.  100% chromosomally normal.  No trisomies.  No translocations.  No nothing.  There was nothing wrong with her.There was nothing wrong with her.
  4. She had a really fast heartbeat.  Like, seriously fast.  180-190.  Every day for 4 weeks.  Knowing what has happened, this gives me some questions I didn’t know I should have had before.
  5. Once she was able to move, she didn’t seem to like the doppler.  She quickly moved away from it once I would find her heartbeat.  Which I found at least 60 times.  I heard her heart beat at least 60 different times.
  6. She showed off during the ultrasound, her little feet and sweet wiggly legs.  She rolled over, stretched for quite a while, gave a few kicks, and then settled back down.  The ultrasound tech tried really hard to get a good picture for us of the soles of her feet, but they were just a bit too tiny to translate well on the screen.
  7. I think she would have been a thumb sucker. After she rolled over and stretched and kicked for a bit, she drew her left hand up to her face and held it curled and in perfect thumb-sucking-position for the duration of the ultrasound.
  8. She was beautiful.  I would know this even if I hadn’t seen her ultrasounds.  I know this in my heart.

It appears as though there was some sort of placental abnormality.  I couldn’t be sure because a) I had a 5 minute phone conversation with my doctor, b) the abnormality he mentioned may simply be abnormal because it wasn’t a “term” placenta, and c) my doctor is from Scotland and speaks quietly.  However, none of those things will stop me from Googling obsessively, at least until we leave for vacation.  I’m really hoping we can learn something valuable so we have the prerogative of additional treatment if we choose to try again and have success. Eight things.  I know eight things about her.  My daughter.  Mara. I wish I knew more.


You have been my voice of reason for 14 weeks (longer, but especially these 14).

You have done every stitch of laundry, every bit of heavy lifting, without one complaint.

You talked sense into me.

You let me be me.

You didn’t overreact.  But you took me to the hospital anyway.

You fathered our son through tremendous pain (yours, min, and his) elegantly.  Honestly.

You grieved for me.

You told me I deserved more.

You grieved with me.

You opened yourself wide and bared your soul.  In the hospital. At home. At the hospital again. At home again.

You let me see where I had hurt you.

You forgave me.

You never left me alone.

You signed your name next to mine, the hardest signature I’ve ever signed.

You let me say horridly scary things to you and didn’t freak out.

You still hope.

You have been my strength when I have been beyond fragile.

You have been broken with me.

You were there for me.

You are there for me.

You are my life.

I could not do this without you.

I love you, Tahddie.

A Shirt and a Dress

I didn’t know I was in trouble until I was in the fitting room.

Even then, I didn’t know it right away.  Maybe I should have, since I had been warned.  More than one person has told me to stay away.  But it seemed like a good distraction, this new experience, and I didn’t realize how caught I was until it was too late.

We’re planning a trip – a trip to Florida.  My consolation prize.  Tahd would never have chosen Florida, but he knows how fixated I’ve been on getting Gabe there while he’s still young so when we found out we were pregnant he humored me and agreed that if the pregnancy didn’t stick we could go to Florida.  Neither of us ever thought we’d actually cash in.  But here we are, planning a trip.  We’re having photos taken, our first really official, grown-up, artistic photos since Gabe was 6 months old.  Hence the shopping.  I was looking for clothes.

I tried on the first shirt.  No, no.  This won’t do! It highlighted every single feature about my body I don’t like.  I took it off.  Quickly.  And moved it (and the three other shirts of the same style but in different colors) to a different rack.  A fitting room is nothing if not organized, in my opinion, and so I worked hard to keep my 60 shirts appropriately organized between four hooks (each equipped to hold about 5 hangers).

Next shirt.  Another bust.  I’m not buying something I don’t absolutely love.  I probably shouldn’t be shopping anyway.  So I’m not wasting my money on mediocre. I tucked that shirt on the same rack as the first and moved on to the mounds and mounds that still remained.

It went on like this for several items and I felt good.  Things that I loved on the hanger looked ridiculous – almost comical, really – on my body.  I had carefully selected shirts, hoping to find some that would camouflage the bit of bloating and puffiness that seems to remain in my belly.   I want our photos to document what is, not what I imagine.  But let’s face it – these are photos!  I want to look good!  I was surprised to be finding nothing given the fact that my family had kept this store a secret from me for quite a while due to the fear that I’d walk in and come out with one of everything.  I thought it was probably all for the good, however, since the prices were well beyond what I’d normally consider spending.

While I tried on clothes I sat on the stump in the fitting room for a long time.  I’m sure they wondered what I was doing in there, the girl with 60 shirts, uncombed hair stuffed under a ball cap, and hospital bracelets hanging off her arm.  I just sat on the stump and leaned over and hugged the clothes to me.  I was hardly clothed but it seemed so hot, and I felt weary in body and spirit.

And then it happened.  I put it on and that’s when I knew I was in trouble.


People have been asking us if we’re planning to have a service.  My dad asked us first when he was with us before surgery while the nurse helped us to arrange what to do with our baby’s remains.  I called the funeral home the next day and they asked us second.  Gradually, more and more people have asked this question, some with their own opinions on what we should do.  A service never really occurred to me, honestly.  Had the baby been a little older and I could have delivered it I would feel differently.

Tahd, I think, would like to.  I think this because he told me so.  I don’t know how strongly he feels that way, though, because in the moment those words spilled from his mouth, I almost instantaneously spit back at him, “No!!!  We can’t do that!!”  He looked at me quizzically and questioned why and suggested it might give us some closure.  Closure, I told him, is exactly what I don’t want.  I just want to be us, a family of four, for a little while.  Maybe I’ll want closure later.  But not now.   Not now.


The shirt is pink.  It is ruffled and gathered and beautiful, with a deep v-neck and lots of texture.  I picked it up from the rack on my second pass through the store and rushed back to the fitting room one more time.  I put it on and looked in the mirror.  And I heard my own voice.

There!  This one is good enough for my baby!

Until that moment, I hadn’t realized it.  I thought I was looking for a fun, inspiring outfit to use for our family photos.  Really, it was much more than that.  I was shopping for something so I could look pretty for my baby.  In addition to thinking about what type of outfits we want to wear in our photos, I’ve been thinking about ways we can include the idea of this baby in our photos.  I have a few ideas with balloons and blocks.  To me, these family photos represent the one “official” time we’ll be a family of four.  We’ll get our pictures taken and it will seem real.  They’ll capture us as a family of three and honor  us as a family of four.  In my mind, the photos would become our service, a holy experience, a sacred goodbye.

On my way home I thought about this and I trembled and I didn’t want to go.  Not to our photo session, not to Florida, not out of our house, not anywhere.  I don’t want to say goodbye.  I’m not ready.

I have a need to wrap things up into neat little packages – tablescapes, birthday gifts, blog posts, and even my life.  I’m fighting within myself over this right now.  I want to wrap our loss up in a neat little package on my own terms.  At the same time I’m trying to keep everything open and fluid and “non-closed.”

I left the store with the shirt and a dress.  Both are independently the most expensive items of clothing I’ve ever owned, so one might go back.  But I couldn’t decide at the store because they were both for my baby and I was overwhelmed at how emotionally charged my shopping trip had become.  I think I’ll be able to sort things out more easily in the morning.  I also hope I’m going to be able to figure out some way to look at this trip as anything other than a goodbye.

Welcome to Vancouver 2010

Nobody knew it, but I’m at the Olympics. Let me show you around!


  1. Note the Olympic Rings.  That’s the flag.  Flags are necessary when it comes to the Olympics.  You can’t see it in this picture, but Gabe has a printout of the Olympic flag taped to his chest and a printout of the Canadian flag taped to his back.  There are also other printouts taped in various places around my house.  I’d like to say Gabe drew these rings, but it wouldn’t be true.  I did.  It’s possible I have the artistic skills of a young child.
  2. Note Gabe’s head.  If you were to suggest he was wearing a hat and a pair of safety goggles, you would be wrong.  He is wearing a helmet and ski goggles.  Big difference.
  3. Also note Gabe’s shirt.  Olympians wear colorful shirts.  (??)  I wrongly got out a yellow shirt with a bright white, blue, and red sailboat on the front of it.  This was wrong.  Olympians wear colorful shirts that are striped. Like, duh!
  4. Note each cluster of Olympians.  Specifically, we have Chinese athletes, Canadian athletes, American athletes, and Russian athletes.  His choice.  When we watched the Opening Ceremonies (which Gabe believes should be called the Opening Ceremony because there was only one ceremony) he begged to stay up until Russia walked in.  Yes, Russia.  No, I have no idea why he was waiting for Russia.Also, in this picture note the fact that Gabe himself is standing on the Canadian podium.  Along with Tahd.  I’m on China’s.  Earlier in the day I had done something (written on his whiteboard) in a way he didn’t like.  Being on China’s team was my consequence.

    Gabe has finally decided to embrace his Canadian roots. Hence he’s on the Canadian Olympic team rather than the US team.  A lesser known fact is that if a Canadian citizen born on Canadian soil has a child in another country, the Canadian citizenship of the parent automatically passes to the child.  Because I was born in Canada, even though Gabe was born in the United States he automatically receives Canadian citizenship in addition to his American citizenship.  I think this is very cool.  Until the Olympics, Gabe has found this fact to be akin to a heritage of mass murderers.  Tell him he’s Canadian and he would scream vehemently, “I AM NOT CANADIAN!”  Now – all thanks to the Olympics – he is Canadian and proud.  He even knows the Canadian national anthem, top to bottom.  Does a maple leaf girl’s heart proud!

  5. I’m sorry, Russia.  You have no medals.  Evgeni Plushenko, take that!
  6. That little thing below the USA’s podium?  That’s not a donut, no.  That’s a speed skating rink.   The USA won its medals in speed skating.
  7. See that little thing sticking up out of the stick-man’s head?  That’s actually a gun strapped to the athlete’s back a la the biathlon.  Canada won its medals for the biathlon.  Go, Canada!
  8. If you look carefully, you’ll note the letters “BLNT” over the Canadian silver medalist’s head (who is Tahd, by the way).  I had to ask Gabe what they stood for.  I kid you not, this is what he said:

    Better luck next time!

    It is taking everything in me not to add the word “sucker” to his vocabulary.

So welcome to Vancouver 2010.  I hope you enjoyed your tour!

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