Pictures “of” Mara

Oh dear!  I’m really pregnant???  ~ (Taken sometime around March 6-8)

Are you serious???  ~ (Taken on March 6 after Tahd saw the pregnancy test I left for him on the dresser)

A quick and early belly shot.  ~ (Taken March 8, 3w5d)

An “Oh-my-gosh-I-think-I’m-having-a-baby!” self-portrait.  ~ (Taken March 8, 3w5d)

Mara’s second ultrasound, because so far I can’t put my hands on her first ultrasound pictures…  ~ (Taken April 12, 8w5d)

Mara’s third ultrasound, a face shot!  ~ (Taken May 5, 12w0d)

Another one from Mara’s third ultrasound, one of my favorite pictures.  ~ (Taken May 5, 12w0d)

A second belly shot – showing a little growth!  ~ (Taken April 29, 11w1d)

Saying goodbye.  I snapped this shot quickly before we left for surgery.  ~ (Taken May 10)

The Waiting Place

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race

down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace

and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,

headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

It’s a strange place, this waiting place.  I thought having a d&c would eliminate the waiting place from our experience.  I naively thought I was waiting for the baby’s body to pass from my body.  The 32 hours between the time we found out the baby had died and the time I was taken in for surgery were the longest of my life.  I was afraid to move, afraid to breathe, afraid to sneeze, afraid to do anything for fear I’d do something to start the process of miscarrying on my own.

I don’t regret the d&c.  I don’t wait well.  I just didn’t understand how much waiting would be left when it was over.  I’m waiting for the bleeding to stop.  Waiting for the results of testing.  I’m desperately waiting to find out if the baby was a boy or girl so I can put a name to the pictures in my mind.  I’m waiting for the funeral home to call and tell me we can collect the ashes.  I’m waiting for my follow-up appointment to find out more about the fibroids and clotting issues.  I’m waiting to leave for Florida.  I’m waiting for the Prozac to start working.

What I’m not waiting for?  To feel better.  It makes me angry when I notice feeling lighter and welcome the return of sadness when it follows.  Sometimes I flirt with the idea of pretending these last 12 weeks (well, the 9 I knew about) were all figments of my imagination.  Then I’m incredulous that I could ever consider the idea and I let guilt inflict a little wounding on my soul.

I wonder when, exactly the baby’s heart stopped beating.  I heard it around 11:00 last Saturday morning.  Over the few preceding days I had noticed it was hard to keep track of the baby with the doppler – I’d find the heartbeat for a few moments and the baby would seem to move away.  Because of this, I tried to listen briefly because I figured if the baby was consistently moving away the doppler waves might be irritating.  How long after that did it end?  Soon after?  Right before I tried to find it again around 8:00?

I suspect I know.  Around 5:30, I stopped at the store to pick up some soda for the evening.  We’re not typically soda drinkers, but we were having a small get-together so Tahd could cash in on a Christmas present – a pay-per-view UFC fight.  I grabbed two cases, a Sprite and a Mountain Dew, paid, then tossed them in the car.  As I got in, I felt a funny burning sensation in my lower abdomen.  I arrived at church a bit later and noticed the sensation a few more times and tried not to worry because pregnancy is fraught with strange sensations and unusual annoyances, the analysis of which could drive a person insane.

Most pregnant women seem to have a few moments earlier in pregnancy where they wonder if they’ve felt the baby move.  Of course, they wait a few more weeks and have an unmistakable experience of movement and are able to focus on their feelings of increasing intensity for the rest of the pregnancy, forgetting the earlier sensations that may or may not have been baby.  I had several of those experiences and was growing quite excited about feeling what was unmistakably the baby.  Herein lies the only benefit  I can see of my experience – because I went from pregnant to not pregnant in the course of 36 hours, I’m quite sure I felt the baby move.  Before Saturday evening, my belly was alive with activity – not all the time and nothing strong – but there were whispers and taps that left me wondering but questioning.  Knowing how instantly they subsided, it makes me think those things really were movement, a small gift to me I would never have otherwise understood.

I haven’t decided if I’m waiting to get really angry or not.  I have moments of it, as I mentioned earlier, but that’s it, really.  Just moments.  We went to church this evening, our typical Saturday evening routine.  I didn’t want to go; I felt like everyone would stare at me and I’d cry.  But Gabe really wanted to attend his children’s program and Tahd said he felt like going, so I obliged.  I’ve said no to basically every other thing Tahd has wanted to do this week and I’ve been feeling guilty.

Nobody stared.  I did cry.  There were songs at first, but I couldn’t sing.  My mouth was glued shut and I tried to swallow over the lump in my throat.  But eventually I sang – not because I wanted to but because I was still worried everyone might be staring.  The lyrics seemed strange, very foreign.

Oh Lord my God in You I put my trust/Oh Lord my God in You I put my hope


I’m casting my cares aside/I’m leaving my past behind/I’m setting my heart and mind on you Jesus


Forever, author of salvation/He rose and conquered the grave/Jesus conquered the grave

The last one really bothered me.  It is a strange feeling to have walked with death inside you, to be a grave.  The only thing I imagine it compares to is holding a loved one in your arms as s/he passes.  But even that’s not the same.  I suspect that’s worse in many regards, especially if it’s a child who is dying.  But to hold death in your body is extremely personal, and odd, really.  I know some people who have lost a later-term pregnancy feel a rush to get the baby out of their body for this reason.  Other people would rather wait because they’re not ready to give up the physical connection.  I felt neither of those things, really.  I felt an urgency to have surgery because I was scared of delivering, and although I felt desperately sad at what had happened, I didn’t feel the same connection to the baby I felt when I knew it was alive.  I guess when we sang these words I felt bitter.  And disbelieving.  And angry.  I was a grave just one week ago, and I’m certainly feeling no victory.

But then we sang this:

With all creation I sing/Praise to the King of Kings

and I was back in the in-between.

I have fairly specific beliefs about the beginning of life.  Without going into tremendous detail, I will say that I generally believe miscarried babies will be in Heaven.  I believe I will see this baby again.

The line in this song says “with all creation I sing.”  Quite simply, I imagined singing with my baby.  Perhaps we’re separated by time and dimension, but the idea of doing the same thing at the same time, united in heart brings comfort.  Granted, I don’t know if I’m right in my belief that miscarried babies are in Heaven and I certainly have no clue if babies in Heaven can sing.  But I imagined it and it felt good and I liked the idea.

Early in this pregnancy, I told God that if He gave this baby to me only to take it away via miscarriage that I didn’t think my faith was strong enough to sustain the trauma.  I told Him is He was going to do it, to please do it quickly – to not let it drag on because every day it went on was a day I fell deeper in love.  To have miscarried this baby at the turn of the trimesters ON Mother’s Day is almost like a slap in the face.  He did exactly what I told Him I didn’t think I could handle.  What I don’t think I can handle.

And yet.

We sang those words and I realized I’m in a bind.  To hold onto the hope that I will see my baby again, I can’t let go of the schema on which it’s all based – put loosely, the God/Jesus/cross stuff.  On the other hand, if I give up the schema, I also give up the hope.  It’s a tricky spot, hating to believe and hating to not believe.  It’s sort of like another line from the Seuss book:

I’m afraid that some times you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.

So I wait.  To get answers.  To work it out.  To feel peace. To find comfort.  Something – even one of those things.  I wait.

(Happy) Mother’s Day

It was Mother’s Day. 2005.  Five beautiful years ago.  It was our first May in our inaugural home, a home we had planned for and saved for and created out of love and sweat and dreams.  A home to grow in.  A home to bring our babies home to.  A home to grow together in.  It was beautiful.

When we moved to Wisconsin and looked for our first home, there were several features we wanted.  Hardwood floors.  A fireplace. And of course, the basics – a stable foundation.  Strong walls.  But in my heart, I also hoped for small indulgences.  One was to have a home with a tree – a breathtaking magnolia tree, the kind that opens with blossoms so pink and vibrant they take your breath away.

It didn’t take us long to settle on a house, and as luck had it, a tree stood in the front yard.  Being anything but arborists, we had no idea what type it was.  Imagine my sheer delight when, for my very first Mother’s Day, the mysterious tree in my front yard burst with blossoms – white, pink, purple.  Magnolia blossoms!  In full bloom!  We took pictures under that tree, me with Gabe, me with my mother, my mother with Gabe, the three of us together.  It was the stuff out of fairy tales – gorgeous and perfect and lovely in every way.

Each year since then, I’ve wondered when our tree would bloom.  Three of the last four years, the tree bloomed late – much later than Mother’s Day.  Cool springs will do that to you!  One of those years, while experiencing an unseasonably warm snap during late winter, the buds started to try to pop, only to be frozen in time when the weather cooled down again.  The tree bloomed all summer, at no point reaching full bloom.  It was sad to miss the tree in all it’s glory, but it always made me smile to see the late bloomers popping out in mid-August or September.  Could anything be lovelier than a reminder of rebirth when life is already in full swing?

This year?  The tree bloomed too early.  The blossoms have all fallen from the tree and have been picked up, raked up, and swept up into the trash.  How poignant that seems at this very moment.

I watched the sun come up this Mother’s Day morning.  As the sky started to twinkle with the new day, the birds began to sing and it felt so fresh, crisp.  I didn’t expect to have that privilege, especially the privilege of soaking in the newness of the day.  If one thing is clear, it is that I am decidedly not a morning person.   But today, I watched the sun come up.

Also, I watched my husband dissolve in tears.

I snuggled with my son and talked of Heaven.

I watched my father place his head against my entryway hall and weep.

I watched my mother put on her strong face while Gabe scampered around, confused and silly, trying to make sense of this strange day.

All while I watched the sun come up.

The tree that bloomed too early?  Reminds me of my baby.  My baby who, as of about 4:00 this morning, is officially no longer with us.  Well, the baby is still with us in body.  But not in soul.  It’s soul bloomed too early – at least far earlier than what we would have liked.  Sometime between about 11:00 yesterday morning and 8:00 last night.  I watched the ultrasound screen, a screen so different from the one I saw just three days ago.  Three days ago the screen was alive with movement, with hope, with beauty.  There was a baby who, when “commanded” by Gabe (at the ultrasound technician’s request) rolled over so we could get not only a perfect measurement but a perfect profile shot.  I felt like we were suspended in time as we watched that baby stretch and twist and bring its hand up to its face for a prolonged snuggle.  We were transifxed.

In the wee hours of the morning, the screen looked different.  Equally beautiful, but still.  Motionless.  There was no movement, no twitch, no wave of the hand, no kick to my side, no flicker of a heartbeat.  I had a hard time connecting with the fact that the picture on that screen was actually within me.  It seemed too disconnected from the reality I’ve been living.  The technician wouldn’t say a word, but he didn’t have to.  I looked over at Tahd and shook my head while he alternately used his eyes to implore the screen to start moving and used his voice to implore Gabe to sit still.  Oh, the irony!  How much we wanted one child to move while we needed the other to sit quietly.

It will be okay.  And it will not be okay.  I will be okay.  And I will not be okay.  But in the end it will be okay and I will be okay.  The sun comes up.  I see it now.  I heard the birds sing.  This is reality, but there is a dichotomy in reality that is strangely comforting.  New days come.  Ours begins today.  When the sun is bright enough, I will call the doctor’s office and my plan is to basically beg for a D&C.  I don’t think I’m emotionally strong enough to miscarry on my own.  I often surprise myself, but I’m learning that it’s okay to have limits.  It’s okay to be not strong enough.  It’s okay to push for answers even when they don’t readily appear.  It’s okay.

I am weak.

I am fragile.

Four and a half years of infertility do that to a person.

If you’re the praying sort, I’m worried about several things.  First, I’m worried about miscarrying on my own.  And by worried, I would say I’m petrified, enough to ask the ER doctor to send me home with medication for anxiety.  I just want things to hold off until I can get into my doctor.  Second, I’m broken-hearted for Gabe.  My mother took him shopping this week and let him pick out something for the baby.  He selected two shirts – one in case it was a boy and one in case it was a girl.  When Grandma picked him up this morning, he told her – quite excitedly – that she could take the shirts back to Kohls since we wouldn’t be needing them.

At that moment the adults in the room heaved a collective sob.  I’m not sure I’ve completely exhaled since then.

Third, I’m worried I’m going to (or Tahd might) sink into a pit of despair.  I can’t help but notice the irony of the fact that something we’ve wanted for so long is being taken from us on such a special day.  When I’m particularly down, I wonder if God pleasures in torturing us in the meanest ways possible.  This – at more than 12 weeks pregnant and on Mother’s Day?  Seems colossally mean.  When I’m down I am also extremely hard on myself.  And in the dark of the pit it’s hard to see that the little things are just that and this isn’t my fault.  I can’t take the pit again.  I can’t.

Anger will come later, I’m sure.  Tears are free-flowing now.  I’m hoping sleep comes soon.  And with any luck happiness will find us on this Mother’s Day, too.  At least for a bit.

Today is a Good Day

Tahd is on his way home.  While we’ve been enjoying the sun and warmth at home all week (it got into the mid-80s one afternoon this week!! In early May!!) Tahd has been fighting the wind and snow in Montana at the same time.  His flight is delayed (thanks @UnitedAirlines for sucking) but it doesn’t matter – he’s on his way home!

Gabe spent the night at my parents’ house last night. Hence I got to sleep in as much as I wanted this morning! Which didn’t end being much, but even though I couldn’t sleep I did get to be lazy, and that’s nearly as good!

My house? It’s nearly all picked up. Oh, how I love my picked up house!  There’s still a bit of laundry to go, but it shouldn’t take very long!

I have pants!  That fit!  An impromptu shopping trip to the outlet malls yesterday netted me two pairs of maternity pants and two pairs of shorts.  Granted, it meant I was out of my house for 14 hours straight, but it was all worth it to get pants that don’t require any elastic bands to stay up!

Finally, today is a good day because I get to spend it staring at this… Could anything possibly be prettier?


I don’t intend to do this, but sometimes I think I end up projecting a reality that isn’t entirely representative of how I actually live. I was reading a blog today where the author said something about her blog being her family’s scrapbook. Try as I might to keep up on my actual scrapbooking, it’s much more accurate to say my blog is my family’s scrapbook! So in the interest of keeping it real and of capturing the actualities of our life, I have a few confessions to make. 🙂

  • When Gabe was about a year old, I had approximately 2000 unscrapped pictures of him.  It has always been my intention to catch up. Really?  I just stopped ordering pictures so I wouldn’t feel so behind.  The last set of chronological pictures I ordered was in 2006.Ack.
  • The week after we found out I was pregnant, I changed the sheets on my bed.  I’m quite certain I haven’t changed them since them.Ew.
  • I am seriously considering spending $130 on a trash can. Our city implemented a new recycling program that streamlines the recycling process.  However, in the process it means we have to reorganize how we sort of recyclables at home.  What I need is a trash can with two compartments.  Hence the $130 – Container Store has the exact model I need at this price!  And it’s on sale – down from a regular $190, which you can also purchase for $245 at Williams Sonoma.  However, of all the things on which I could spend $130, do I really want to buy a trash can?  Surely there must be another alternative!
  • I use my doppler three times a day.  I cut down to twice if I’m having a particularly good day.
  • Gabe and I both wore the same shirt four days in a row.  Not the exact same shirt – he wore his and I wore mine.  But we each repeated those shirts for four consecutive days.Lazy much?

  • Salespeople come to our door.  I don’t know what to say to them. So I ask them to come back when Tahd is home. Tahd loves this.

  • I am so far behind on my emails I fear I will never catch up.  There are 100 messages in my inbox, as well as 70 in other specific inboxes like Facebook. I try and try and try to get to them all, but I literally can’t keep up.  I don’t think it’s because I get an inordinate number of messages – I think I just get inefficient when I’m anxious.
  • And my most favorite?  Gabe told us he hopes he has a sister because then it will be like he’s  married. Uh, yeah.
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