Friday, July 31, 2009


Today, two little girls were born. Out of the five women in my inner non-dbm circle who are pregnant, two delivered today. I am so incredibly happy for them and their perfect babies. Pictures and birth announcements. And older sisters. Did I mention they are girls?

Can I cry now?

The truth is, if I was left out of the birth announcement email with photos, I would be really devastated and upset, but I was so heartbroken to see everything I didn't get to experience, while simultaneously being thrilled for them. I am so incredibly grateful, thankful, happy that their stories are different than mine. I want to be last. A dying breed of the dying breed, if you know what I mean. I know I won't be.

So, wanting to divert attention from my own weeping and self-pity, what do you think would be the best way to announce a birth to a babylost mama? What do you need from pregnant friends? How do you respond to mass emails with photos and stats? Please feel free to wax poetic, bitch or overall talk about how non-babylost can celebrate and still be sensitive.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


A very wise woman also on this journey said that sometimes blogs teach her new ways to be sad. It resonated with me so deeply. Months ago I sat with a friend who had experienced a devastating loss. I was still raw from Lucy's death, but eager to sit and witness. Just be the friend that I had so desperately had wanted. She wept and said, "What if all my happy moments have passed? What if the best day of my life has happened already?"


It hadn't occurred to me before that moment. What if Lucy's death cast a kind of shadow over my life that will prevent any happy experience from being too happy? I couldn't shake it off then. I was too delicate. I have never been one to compare days, but it haunted me. My mortality, the days rolling closer to the end. I began calling myself middle aged. Sometimes the thought of how quickly this all passes overwhelms me, and I am all caught up in the fear and trembling.


I was old enough to be biking on the road, but not old enough to be jaded. My sister, a friend and I. We probably just got finished lying in the summer grass talking about how bored we were, or going to feed the neighbor's goat a can. But something sparked our curiosity in our long lingering searches for four-leaf clovers. A tree in the middle of a Pennsylvania cornfield. One tree. We lived with it everyday on our horizon. A simple silhouette. In the winter, it was just a walk. Not too far. In the summer, it was an adventure. And we decided to go there with a picnic. To the tree surrounded by a deep sea of green.

Running through corn is a scratchy, itchy business. It must have been July, or August, because I remember the corn towering over us. Easily lost and disoriented, we reveled in the adventure of cornfield afternoons collecting wild berries in the hedgerows, and scaring ourselves and each other by trying to get lost. And so, we keep close, afraid of finding a snake, or naturally, a ghost lurking in the next row. We thought maybe gnomes lived at the tree, or fairies. Who really knew? We had to go and investigate. Find the source of the magical tree. It was easy to imagine a universe around a tree. We talked of building our own tree house there, far away from the world, to escape.

The tree was a small piece of breathable real estate, but a welcome knotted place of roots, and rocks to sit and strengthen our courage to go home. Our families lived on top of a hill. A few houses surrounded by hundreds of acres of farm land. Wooded areas separated the fields, and darkened the valleys surrounding the rolling hills. When we got to the tree, sweaty and itchy, we could finally orient ourselves.

I planted myself at the roots, leaning back on my hands. After a few moments, that creepy disconcerting feeling of a bug crawling across skin made me pull my hand back. Covered in bugs.


The entire tree trunk was an undulating, pulsing mass of ladybugs that made us feel like explorers, scientists, and blessed beings all in one sigh.


I thought my moments would never be happy again after Lucy died. The truth is when I spoke of my amazing days before, they have really always been an amazing moment or two enveloped by the mundane. And now, they are amazing moments enveloped by the grief. And they are, in their own way, sometimes happier. Maybe the juxtaposition with grief makes them happier. If someone asked me many years ago to describe how both my best and worst moment could be wrapped up together, I couldn't have imagined what that could possibly be. Then I birthed Lucy, knowing she was dead, both so incredibly tragic and beautiful. Her birth was a peaceful moment of agony.

It took some beautiful alchemy, a congruence of summer, magic, innocence, adventure, and patience, to turn the ladybug colony into my favorite moment. Now it takes a smile and pat from my daughter, the special way the light plays in the afternoon, or a lingering summer laziness with tickles and smooches to make my moment magic. Nothing extraordinary, per se, just the ordinary that captivates me. It isn't that they are better now, but simply that I appreciate, in the deepest, loneliest parts of me, how fleeting they are. And I want to savor them, capture it all on film for when I am old.

At this moment, my daughter rocks on our antique rocking chair, singing a happy little gibberish song in Spanish that I began singing to her when she was first born. The sunlight, filtered through our Japanese maple, casts a pinkish hue over the room. The dog yawns a loud puppy noise and stretches beyond his little legs to wags his spotted tongue at me. Sam smiles. "I love our family, Angie," he says.

"Yeah, me too."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Dream

I step off the elevator. "You are late." My mother-in-law looks at me and walks in the other direction. "Come. Everyone is here for you."

Why is everyone here for me?

And it is a party. A baby shower party, and I look down and I'm not pregnant. And I look at my table of people, Sam, Beatrice, and then there is a little girl with black hair and dark eyes...Sam calls her Sofie, and she reaches up to me and says Mama. And..."A boy? You are getting a boy? What are you naming him?"

I turn around again and again looking at everyone. What are we naming him? Are we adopting a boy?

I begin writing names I love. Harry Thomas. I circle it. The names of our fathers.


My eyes pop open.

OW, ow, ow. ow ow ow ow ooooooooooooow.

Beatrice. Is she hurt? She is caught between the bed and the wall. No, maybe her leg is pinned in the bedrails. Or, she fell out of bed and is wandering around her room in pain. What is happening? And before I process completely, Sam has jumped out of bed and run into Beatrice's room.

"Ow. ow. ow. ow. ow. Oooooow." It is coming from the window. Is there a child wandering lost? No, wait, of course, this happens every year.
"Bea is fine," he says. I glance at the clock. 5:15a.
"A cat in heat," I say. "It must be a cat, because only two creatures make such a heartbreakingly creepy sound. Children and cats."
"But why do they have to say OW?"
"I know. I dreamed we adopted a baby."
"Really? Just now?"
"I wish I could dream about Lucy."
"Yeah, me too. I haven't had one since she died."
"Me either."


That night, the dream and the cat, happened in June. I wrote down that morning. I couldn't shake that feeling of having another baby. So powerful that night of screaming and baby dreams that I reread this post often. Saved in my draft posts, I thought about posting it many times, but then stopped. I just didn't want my dreams and unconscious life to say we should try again. It isn't fated.

After Beatrice was born, and she lay still unwashed on my body, I looked at Sam and said, "I'm not doing that ever again." Of course, your body and mind somehow transform the physical pain of childbirth into beauty. Call it evolutionary biology, or divine intervention. It didn't take too long for me to want another baby after Beatrice. Beatrice was nine months, we began talking about planning for our next baby. Sure, I couldn't will twins, but I could have our girls (Oh, I knew we would have girls) close together so they were twin-like. They would have been twenty-one months apart by the time we got pregnant. After Lucy died, it wasn't the physical pain I couldn't take again, it was the emotional pain of her death. "I will never have another baby, Sam."

Truth is, we both want another baby in our house. Sam and I. So, we are going to begin trying again. I have wrestled with whether or not I should announce this, or not. It seems strange to not say something, and strange to say something. I asked Sam if he thought I should announce it and he said, "I don't know. I just don't want anyone to say 'Yay, you are better now.'" Shit, he hit the nail on the head.

I know most of you understand this precarious edge we walk. Wanting a baby in our home, but not wanting to replace our dead child. Happy at the thought of a new member of our tribe, but sad at the loss of another. Optimistic, but terrified. Knowing that getting pregnant does not mean the same thing as 'happily ever after.'

I don't want to be too attached to an outcome that is not guaranteed. I don't know what the state of my fertility is like; the uterus could have issued Defcon Level Four in December for all I know. I don't know what happens now. I am summoning my inner zen master. I'm trying to breath deeply and accept whatever path reveals itself.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Updates and clarifications

You know some clarifications on my last post so no one is uncomfortable. The handsome charming ex-boyfriend really ceased being an ex-boyfriend a very long time ago. Truth is, he is our dear friend now. Sam and I enjoy having him over, talking to him in that easy way that you do with old friends about his incredibly interesting life. If I had to nearly amputate my finger, I was actually glad to do it in front of him, because he is cool-headed but sympathetic, much like my beautiful, charming, handsome husband. I really was just trying to illustrate the point that I am so very uncool. So very.

Last night, after experiencing my hand being completely numb, my pain threshold being maxed out, nausea, dizziness and hot flashes, I decided that we needed to go to the emergency room. I unbandaged myself and the finger oozed, and was twice the size. It was getting worse not better. I kept thinking of that Elf quote, "My finger has a heartbeat." We dropped Bea off and headed to the hospital. Five hours later, I got a script for an antibiotic, and probably picked up half a dozen viruses from my heavy-breathing emergency room lurkers. I overheard some guy with an ice pack on his head on the phone, "Yeah, Mom thinks it's meningitis. So she made me goto the hospital, dude."

I took a bunch of pictures of my finger. I want to remember what it looks like when you do something stupid. I'm tempted to post one, just to hear the digital ewwwws. I overheard the nurses joking about me.
"What a night."
"Yeah, we even have a lady who stuck her hand in a blender."
"That's gross."

I was okay until they took us back in a little room finally, where we were told to hurry up and wait. The curtain. And the waiting, and the ER smells, and the public health posters became overwhelming in the early hours of morning, and I cried. I looked at Sam, and I said, "I miss her."
"And Lucy?"
"Yes. I miss them both."

That room, the anticipation, took me right back to December. Right back. I wanted to be in bed, moaning, and I missed Lucy, last heard in a room much like the one in which I was sitting. It just became too much. The Murphy's Law of waiting rooms is just when you crack, the doctor walks into the room. So, here I am, with a little bitty finger cut crying, and in walks the lady who takes care of dunderheads.


If you are really interested in having a baby lost weekend (See how I did that?), please send me an email (uberangie (at) gmail (dot) com). I sort of need to get an idea of how many people are interested in a real way for organizing. This retreat would be on the East Coast, most likely outside of Philadelphia (or in), possibly the Jersey shore, on a weekend in October/November. I am SOOOOO excited.

I will try not to talk about my finger anymore, unless they eventually amputate, in which case, I might obsessively talk about that for a while.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Memory of a moment

I am typing this with one hand. I am better at it than I would have ever imagined.

Last night, while hosting my charming, handsome ex-boyfriend, (you know, the cool one who is a trapeze artist, photographer, sky/scuba diving, documentarian who travels around the world and models when he is down on money) I almost amputated my finger in a hand blender making some homemade ice cream. Blood may or may not have spurted on him. He cannot remember if that stain was there before he arrived at my house.

It isn't too hysterical. My nurse practitioner husband, who looked at it, clearly the blade hit the bone mangled the finger all meaty and bloody and flaps hanging here and there, said, "Do you really want to go to the emergency room on Friday night? It's not like it will fall off any more than it is. I can do just as good of a job here." I passed out straight away onto the kitchen table, then sat, in the charming seductive way that only a trauma victim can, with my head between my legs,and breathing deeply...I let him, with copious amounts of wine, and my ex-boyfriend charming the dickens off of Beezus, perform home surgery. I sat for the painful soaks in Provodine and Saline and fake stitches. I grimaced and cussed.

"Your mama has big cajones." The ex-boyfriend smiled and messed up my hair. He blamed himself for talking to me while dessert-ing. Truly, I am just an idiot. Make no mistake. I put my finger in the hand blender to scrape the lingering bits of fresh berry and accidentally hit the on-button. (Unplug, people. Unplug.) Declaring, "I think I just cut off my finger."

It's really swollen and horrible, but it wasn't the pain or the injury that kept me awake staring at the ceiling last night. It was the cellular memory of how quickly everything can change. An instant to lose a finger. Or a daughter. I remember. I was listening to my belly with Sam's stethoscope, not really thinking anything can be wrong. And then I was terrified. And then I thought, she could be dead. It wasn't a change of reality but of perception. I will never know the moment of my daughter's last heartbeat, but I will always remember the moment when I last thought she could be alive. Last night, I almost lost my finger. Not an exaggeration. It was two seconds away from being gone. I will have permanent scars and nerve damage on my left index finger, but mostly, I will be unchanged. It's just a finger on a non-dominant hand. It's not a daughter. But it reminded me of how quickly life changes.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Woman Who Cried a River

The day Angie arrived at storytime, no one in the village noticed.

Maybe if this morning were a folktale, that is how it would start. I had a beautiful morning with my daughter. First to the cafe to buy some coffee beans. Then we drank coffee, pulled out crayons and paper to draw. I brought my pencils and drew too. Bea and I do this thing where I have her tell a story and I draw it. We drew a story today about a girl who jumps in a puddle with her doggie. Her mother watches her with a happy face, and then her daddy comes too. We took out some gnomes and mushrooms, and played. We talked about whether gnomes have doggies too, and whether apple juice is better than milk (It is not.) When it was time, we headed over to the bookstore for storytime. All morning, Beatrice has been jumping up and down and yelling "YAY, Storytime."

I found the loveliest folktale book written in both Spanish and English about a woman named Lucia. It is called "The Woman Who Outshone the Sun." Outshone the sun, indeed. I needed it as part of our collection, if simply because Lucia is the heroine. It is just a lovely, heartbreaking story about a woman not accepted by the villagers because she is different and strange. When she bathes in the river, the entire river is absorbed in her beautiful long hair, hair the villagers accuse of blocking out the sun. The people call her cruel names, and one day she leaves, and takes the river with her. Of course, the villagers realize how mean they were, and that they want Lucia back. She eventually comes back, combs out her hair, and all the fish and otters and water goes back in the riverbed for the village.

Storytime starts with a handful of kids, and then, in the middle, a woman walks in with a baby in a sling. She was in my prenatal yoga class, and she greets another woman, also in my prenatal yoga class. Her baby was a few months younger than Lucy would have been.

It took my breath away. Sharply. Abruptly. And my beautiful Beatrice looked at me, not knowing anything but that my heartbeat quickened. She hugged me tight, "Okay, Mami. Okay." I held back my tears for the entire reading, and tried to focus on my Beatrice. She loves the stories, and the other children. This is about her. Let this hour be about her.

Neither of them acknowledged me, like most people who know and never said I'm sorry. She just pretends she doesn't know me anymore. I am persona non grata. The accursed dead baby mama. We talked, her and I, often in class. She looked at me a few times, and then away. The other woman, who may or may not have remembered me, walked her seven month old over to us. Thoughtless new mother enamored of her precocious beautiful baby. Maybe she thought I wasn't paying enough attention to her baby because I couldn't see him well enough. I braced myself. My Beatrice's eyes lit up. "A baby." And I, trying not to cry, said, "Yes, mi amor, a baby."

Swallow. I just thought over and over, all tense shoulders and clenched teeth, "Please leave. Leave. Just leave. Leave."

It didn't work.

She made him wave to us, then dance. I changed my tactic. "Please, Angie, kindness, compassion, love. Be love, Angie, be love. Forgive, Angie, she doesn't know. She doesn't know." Polite smile. He was an adorable baby, even if he was the same age as Lucy would be.

Sometimes our growth is measured not in paragraphs, but in small sighs. I stayed for storytime, something that simply would not have been possible four months ago. But as I developed my hundred yard stare through "If You Take a Mouse to School," I imagined myself in the folktale. I wanted to release my hair from its rubber band, and let it flow down my back, suck up the river around these women, and walk out of the village with the river and the fishes and the otters, leaving a dry winding riverbed of sad.

When I left, I sobbed in the car for about 15 minutes, head in my hands, as Josephine Baker sang through our car. Couldn't drive. Couldn't go back in. My goodness, how I miss the life I never got. That is what I cried for, my arrogance, my ignorance, my life. As I sat sobbing, I apologized to Beatrice who just said quietly, "S'okay, Mami." I saw people pass my truck, and look in, wondering if they should help me. And I wanted to just say to someone, anyone, "My baby died that's why I'm crying, because my baby died. There are still other babies in the world the same age, even though mine died. Cry with me, please, cry for her."

And so the tears pooled at my feet, and rose in our car, until they cover the seats, and our toys floated by us, out of the cracked windows, until the river ran back to the village, surrounding the babies and their mothers, guiding and protecting them from a sorrow they do not know.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More randomness

The nights grow later and later before I drift to sleep. I feel like I have forgotten how to fall asleep. I had a dream a long time ago that I awoke on stage. There were hundreds of people staring at me. I sat up. Trying to orient myself to my surroundings, and there was one man with me on stage.

"What were you doing there?"
"I dunno. Sleeping."
"Yes. Sleeping."
"What is sleeping?"
And I stared off into the crowd of people. All of them staring back at me with bags under their eyes, disheveled hair, waiting for my answer.
"You don't know what sleeping is?"
"No. But we have heard that word before." And I began to explain what sleeping was and why it is so important. And the man told me they no longer slept. They only worked.

I must have been in my late teens or early twenties when I had this dream. I always thought that even in that period of time where teenagers sleep inordinate amounts, I still thought about how it made me special. Like my slackeritude somehow would be recognized in the future as something remarkable.

The rest of the dream I taught this futuristic society how to sleep. How to let go and drift off into happy oblivion. Last night, as I stare at our knotty pine ceiling imagining faces of polar bears, and intricate bird's beaks, I tried to remember what I said. "Close your eyes, and let it all go. Stop holding on to consciousness." What a crappy sleep teacher I was.


I am sorry if I have been a shitty commenter lately. I want to write something. I do read. But every time I write a comment, I feel like it is meaningless drivel, even though I mean it. I go back and think about erasing it. Then I feel stupid erasing it. I'm not sure if it is extreme self-consciousness, or just this feeling after I rounded the half year marker, that this journey, all its ups and downs, and curves and bumps is necessary, no matter how painful. I just feel so impotent. Like all the non-babylost people must feel when talking to us. I think about how people trying to fix me piss me off. I just want to be heard sometimes. I just want to have a witness. And then other times, someone says something that just changes my whole perspective, or gives me a new tool in my box.

Sometimes I just want to write on every blog I read. "I am here, listening. You aren't crazy and I love you."


I have finally alienated everyone. I woke up yesterday thinking that. It seems like there is no way to find a medium in this brave new world. If I don't tell someone how they hurt my feelings with an errant comment, I silently stew on it, festering resentment and avoidance. If I do tell them, they feel like they can't say anything, and stop talking to me. Then I have to spend many emails trying to kiss their ass and be my friend again. It is all so exhausting.


So, let's say hypothetically, if someone, or two, on the East Coast were to find a venue for something like what Monica is doing and organize a sort of weekend at a spa in Pennsylvania or New Jersey to hang out and get to know each other, like how many people would be interested in that?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Random Saturday bits

My Google Reader keeps recommending that I read my blog today. It also recommends I read a Panamanian investment blog and a blog written by a woman widowed with twins.

Somehow Google knows I am a grieving Panamanian twin, which is simultaneously terrifying and comforting. At least someone knows.


I didn't mention this earlier, but I am on a raw food elimination diet, and bought a book called the Raw Food Detox Diet. I am not sure how long I can tolerate not eating cooked food, but during these hot months, it is fine. The author suggests eating a Green & Black's 70% dark chocolate bar after dinner. I think I have been abusing this particular part of the diet, since before taking up this particular diet, I didn't eat chocolate any time of the day. *sigh* Still, since my post reconciling my anger with my body, I have dropped something like six pounds.(Sure, it's water weight, but I'm taking anything I can get.) Speaking your anger and shame helps, I am convinced.


My daughter calls every sport soccer. She keeps repeating, "I wear my soccer game hat" which of course, means she is wearing a baseball cap. Shooting hoops this afternoon was met with a "Mama, look, an orange soccer ball." I blame my husband.


I had a lovely brunch with Molly as Beatrice slept through the whole meal. I feel so blessed and lucky to have her in my life. It makes me long to have brunch with other babyloss mamas in real life. It is so damn comforting to talk about anything without having to talk about everything, or be forced into a conversation about nothing because the other person cannot deal with everything.


Here is a story. On a normal December day, the next door neighbor came over with her daughter, who is the same age as Beatrice. And as the girls frolicked about the house, my neighbor told me she was pregnant. It was winter solstice, and I thought my babe would be born that night. I didn't know Lucy was dead yet. I just laughed and talked as I got ready for a baby shower I was attending later in the day. I might have even mentioned that Lucia hadn't been moving much. Later that night, when my nerves got the best of me, and I called the midwives, I frantically called her and asked her to stay with Beatrice until my sister could arrive as we raced to the hospital. I know she was devastated to hear of Lucy's death. Shook to the core, I would venture to say. A new fear invaded her new good news.

You know the rest of my story.

A week later, she came over, so beautifully confident and loving, letting me navigate that raw period of crying and talking and telling the story over and over. She was an amazing support during that time. She was the first person to come to our house (to be honest, only one other non-family person came over to sit with me and talk.) But she asked me direct questions, she was straightforward and earnest. She teared up with me. She told me her doctor told her my type of stillbirth, the one without an underlying medical condition, was so rare, he hadn't had a case of it in his practice. I can only assume now this was her primary care physician/family doctor. But at the time, I thought only of her OB. I mean, she just told me she was pregnant so I was thinking baby doctor. I thought how I could never go to an OB who hadn't dealt with a loss. I want my midwife or OB to have seen every single issue a pregnant woman might face. I want them to be well-rounded in catastrophe. Now, I realize he must have been soothing a very nervous, newly pregnant woman confronted with her new worse case scenario. Me.

Truth be told, though, I haven't thought much about that day with her, even as I have seen her belly grow, heard about her ultrasound results, listened to name ideas, planning for the new sibling...Honestly, I am happy for them, even if their house addition, a new baby bedroom, was the noise issue pushing me into insanity a few weeks ago. But as her baby grows, it reminds me of this grief, planted within me at the same time. Turning, quickening, growing, changing, becoming a new life. This morning, out of my dining room window, I saw her totter out to the car. She is less than a month to her due date now, her due date being literally five days before Lucy's ninth month anniversary. And I wonder too, as she gets closer to birth, what will I birth? What has been gestating in me? In many ways, I hope the same thing as her.


Friday, July 17, 2009


I went to see my new therapist this week. As we were talking, she said, "It doesn't seem like you have many questions about this." I began weeping. Oh, but I do. I do have a question.

"How am I supposed to live my life without one of my children?" And I just wept.

And she got a pained sort of smile as I cried. To me, I read it as a sort of victory. Something she could answer. And she looked in her notebook, and began reading off this list of things to do. "Make Lucy apart of our everyday. Write about her," she said. Write about her.

Ha, ha, ha, ha ha...ha, ha, ha...ha...yeah.

"I write a blog."
"You write about what happened. It is better if you write in long hand. Just to her. Write about her. Write to her. Write in her voice. Write poetry."

So, what she was telling me is I haven't been writing in the correct way? Typing. Blogging. To an audience. For myself. To process my own feelings, rather than Lucy's feelings. So, of course, the implication is that I'm not writing enough evidently. Because you know, what she is saying is a couple of hours a day, sometimes more, just isn't enough to make sense of your child dying. And you know, I can't do those things. I already am conscious of how much I write in a day, and how much it detracts from my mothering. I can't write like I am Lucy. I can't pretend she forgives me, like my therapist suggests, because I don't think she is mad at me, and also because she is dead. I also don't want to write long hand. My handwriting is barely legible. I am not wired like that.

"Have a space that is Lucy's space. Buy a toy that reminds me of Lucy and share it with Beatrice. Rituals. Talking about her. Pictures. A symbol, like butterflies, so when you see it, you know she is communicating with you. You need to develop a spiritual relationship with your daughter, because you don't get a physical one."

I felt myself close down. I felt myself close off. I just wanted to scream. BULLSHIT. BULLSHIT. This is not what I want. I don't want to know how to do all these fucking little pat things to remember my baby. I know how to do those things, because I do them everyday. I remember every day what happened. I feel it everyday. I talk to my daughter about Lucy, her sister, everyday, and find Lucy's acorn babies, and light her altar candle, and write poetry about how sad I am, and...what I was asking her of course, was the unanswerable. How do I live this cruel life? I want to know how to motivate myself, not soothe myself. I want to know how to find joy again. I want to know how I pick up my feet and move forward. I wanted to know how to not hurt anymore. I want her to say "Cut your heart out." Or "Drink celery juice every morning." OR SOMETHING, besides a bunch of rituals that I do to try to make my dead daughter more present in our lives.

Why did I think that anyone had the answer to that question? I do all of those things. I have done everything I can. I have read the effing books too. I've been in therapy for six months. I felt like Kisa Gotami asking the Buddha to give her dead baby a medicine to bring him back to life. Rationally, I know there is no medicine, and yet I persist in looking for it.

Therapy is bullshit. That is how I felt when I left. I keep going thinking these therapists will tell me something new, and the truth is there is nothing new. There is no secret, magic counsel that frees you from the pain of losing your baby. Sure, I get validated, normalized, in my grief, and that was helpful for a while. But I just have to keep living. Whether I do it well, or not, I'm still going to get to the other end of this raw grief. Doing it well will make that a more pleasant journey. But right now, I am faking it. Eventually, it will just be easier. Sometimes, I just don't think I need therapy, I need a lobotomy.

The truth is what I wanted her to say is "I can't answer that question, honey, no one can, but I can listen to how hard it is. Truth is, you just have to keep living and pushing through."

So, now, realizing that I don't think I need therapy, do I cancel my next appointment, go in there, and argue with her about the validity of therapy for an hour, call her? Anyone ever do this before? I've seen her twice, is that enough to know we aren't compatible?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


When I was a girl, I turned cartwheels. Everywhere. Constantly. I was in a state of perpetual motion. When my mother cooked, I would kick up into a handstand against the wall behind her and tell her about my day.

I wanted to be Nadia. Later, I wanted to be Mary Lou. Her muscular body resembled mine more than the skinny Eastern Bloc girls. I trained at the Parkettes. I was not an elite, or even a junior elite. I competed in one competition. I couldn't progress beyond a certain point, because I had the fear. To be a gymnast, you can't have the fear. You have to have a sense of your body, and trust yourself. Not your coaches. Not your parents. You had to trust yourself. So much of it all is knowing the beam will be behind you when you arch your back, or flip. You practiced it. You are good. You will do it. In your mind's eye, you feel your body twisting.You see yourself flipping, landing, and sticking it. You can't doubt. Your feet will land on the beam. If they don't, you do it until they do. Your last memory will be sticking it.

My first experience in gymnastics was in the third grade at the Y. My first run at the vault was a full speed run, jump on the springboard, slide, ribs into the horse. I heard a crack. I couldn't run for an entire year without a piercing pain shooting through the whole of my body. I never told anyone. I couldn't bear failing at jumping over the horse. I was determined to be better.

I still feel that rib. That rib gave me the fear.


I wasn't just a gymnast. I played a lot of sports growing up. Softball. Basketball. I spent the summer at the local pool diving. One summer afternoon, somewhere around seventh grade, I came lumbering into the garage where my father was building something. Kicking a rock, pouting. "Why are you a mope? Go play something."
"No one is around."
"What do you mean there is no one around? Go shoot some hoops."
"Everyone is trying out for football today."
"Oh, so no one can play ball with you...So, do you want to go?"
"To try out for football."
"I'm a girl, Dad. I'm not allowed to go."
"Why? You have a better arm than any of the boys in this neighborhood."
"You can't play football if you are a girl. That's what Joey said."
"No one is going to tell my girl she can't play football."
"It's against the rules, Dad."
"Sure to shit is not. Get your cleats. Let's go."

And he took me down to the field and signed me up for football. My mother was not pleased. The ladies kept saying. "No, you mean cheering, right?" And I would turn and walk back to my father, who would spin me around and make me walk back. He would not bail me out. He would not talk to them for me. He made me say it. "I want to sign up for football." The ladies said, "But we've been trying to convince your mom to get you to come out for cheerleading. We need gymnasts. You want to be a cheerleader, right?"
"No. I want to play football." They said they would have to talk to the coach.

Coach came in. Looked at me. And said, "You aren't the first girl to play football, you know. Louise Steckler played in 1956 for this team. Couple of the boys say you have a good arm. What do you want to play?"
"Wherever I will be the best."
"Suit up, and let's run."

And I did.

I wore bobby socks that day. I didn't mean to, but it just so happened that I had some frilly white socks on, and all the parents pointed and laughed. I didn't much mind. I knew everyone. I grew up in a small town. I didn't get teased about playing football, not in a way that an outsider gets teased. I was teased like a member of the team. I had already played with all these guys before. When I walked onto the field, I was greeted by a dozen boys who all knew my name, and with whom I had just finished throwing football a few hours earlier. It just wasn't that big of a deal. Second day of practice, two more girls signed up.

But I came home more exhausted than I ever had working out. I worked out, ate, then slept. Every night for a month. The coach asked my father to talk to me. I was hitting the boys too hard. He thought I was overcompensating for my gender. "She just works really hard. She is going to burn out." I just thought I had to hit hard. It was football after all. No one told me that practice and games were different.

In the end, my mother told me I had to choose either football or gymnastics. She wasn't driving me to both. Truth is, she just couldn't handle the football. She told me even if I was a boy, she would not allow me to play such a dangerous sport. "I won't let you box either." She already drove me to Girl Scouts, Junior Achievement, Gymnastics, Art School, not to mention my sister's dance classes. She didn't want to drive me to a sport where boys hit me as hard as they can. I always thought gymnastics was a much more dangerous sport for girls. Broken bones. Delayed puberty. Eating disorders. Concussions.

Still, my father gave me a great gift that summer. He believed in me, and gave me the power to believe in myself. He didn't let me continue that ridiculous line of thought that being a girl could ever hold me back. He wasn't a feminist, or an intellectual. My father drove a forklift, but he believed that his girls were strong, and conversely I believed it too. I actually sometimes wish I would have defied my mother's choice and would have stuck out the season. Just to see what would have happened. I was a good running back.

As it turned out, I became a better gymnast because of football. I worked out harder than I did before. I trusted my body more. I focused more. Doing gymnastics meant more to me, because I gave up something I loved for gymnastics. And so I loved gymnastics more. Football gave me an internal voice that said, "You can do it, Angie." Even when the fear said I couldn't.


When I hit puberty, I quit gymnastics, and most of the sports I played. I got boobs. I have a hate-hate relationship with my boobs. They hate me, and I hate them. Both. I have had constant doctor probing of my uncooperative boobies. Surgeries. Biopsies. Mammograms. They eff up my basketball game, and my dress size. Whatever confidence football gave me, my boobs took it away. I guess it was the beginning of not believing in my body. Getting boobs betrayed my sense of self. I never wanted them, even when the other girls were chanting, "I must, I must, I must increase my bust."

I'm not sure how to be believe in my body anymore. My body disappoints me. I starve it, and no change. I feed it, and I get lumpy. I work out, and it breaks. I make a baby, and she dies. I don't look anything like an athlete anymore, except for having some linebacker shoulders. I hardly believe it myself, except for the pains I still have because of sports, and the joy I get sweating.

Sometimes I just want to arch back into a back bend, kick over, and end arms raised beside my ears. I feel the motion. I dream that motion. I see myself making that trick, however pathetic my thirteen year old self would have thought of my thirty-five year old self's ability, or lack thereof, to do a simple back walkover. I know I would pull something, or tear a muscle in this old back of mine. That is the only confidence I have in that trick. That someone or something would get hurt.

"The beam is there, right under your feet, and your feet, Angie, you know where they are."

I am all spent and used, old and broken, fat and tired. I woke up yesterday unable to walk on my right foot. I somehow injured it, though I have no conscious memory of it. I seem plagued by ridiculous injuries and complaints right now. My stomach. My arm. My foot. My boobs. My knees. Is this really pain, or am I just losing touch with reality?

I once had a lovely boyfriend who played basketball. He would look me straight in my introvert eyes and say before we went out to dinner, "You can do it, Kenna. You are the best. You are money, kid." When I can't find my voice in there, I sometimes try to find his voice. Or I try to summon my inner bobby socks...All I know is that I want to be a better me right now. I want to work through my pain. I want to be someone who is strong and capable, who doesn't self-consciously tug on clothing. I want to run on my aching foot through the pain. I want to forgive my body. I want to turn cartwheels with both of my little girls and giggle until I cannot breathe.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My new moon

My first thought this morning was, "Oh, thank goodness, this mood is not clinical." If you know what I mean.

Monday, July 13, 2009

A collection of depressing random thoughts

They are roofing next door. That is after adding a whole other story on fourth of July weekend, and so, twenty feet from my house, there has been a fairly consistent pounding, and men screaming in Portuguese. Last week, some days, not everyday, it went on until 8 pm. Through naptime. Through dinner. Through my evening tea.

It makes me feel like I am going insane.

Maybe I am going insane. I am definitely pushing the well-adjusted line into bat-shit crazy. They also raised the roof, so all the green treetops I once saw from my dining room/living room window are gone. I just see the side of an incredibly unfriendly house. I could have that view in the city. It is a lesson for anyone thinking of skipping the cement for "greener" pastures. I just keep thinking no one will ever buy our house if we want to sell it. Ever. I feel so trapped. So claustrophobic. So tired. All of it combined makes me so sad.

You need the most love when you are most unlovable. I am wholly unlovable right now. Sad. Incredibly, out-of-control anxious. I am trying to figure out how to soothe myself and then the pounding starts again, yet my daughter sleeps. There is a lesson in that.


If you have noticed, my favorite punctuation mark is the ellipse. My speech is also filled with lengthy pauses, and well, I guess I use them to indicate the lengthy, chin-scratching pause that accompanies my stilted speech.

I also know this is an improper use ellipse. I just don't care.


I want to blog about something profound and lovely, but it's just not in me today. No insights. No beautiful intentions. All day today, I saw my death next to us on the highway in a sudden lane change, in the turn of my ankle walking down the hall to my father's room, on the dark steps to the laundry where I was caught up on my own shoes...I think sometimes that I am putting on my own oxygen mask first. That is what I need to do. Does she know that I am trying to fit the mask over my face first? Does my husband? Do they realize I am trying to save myself, so I can save us all? Will they forgive me?


I thought of a poem today, as I folded laundry, imagining my husband finding me after a particularly ridiculous set of foibles that end with my death. It is called a Black Stone on a White Stone, by César Vallejo. Translated by Robert Bly

I will die in Paris, on a rainy day,
on some day I can already remember.
I will die in Paris–and I don’t step aside–
perhaps on a Thursday, as today is Thursday, in autumn.

It will be a Thursday, because today, Thursday, setting down
these lines, I have put my upper arm bones on
wrong, and never so much as today have I found myself
with all the road ahead of me, alone.

César Vallejo is dead. Everyone beat him
although he never does anything to them;
they beat him hard with a stick and hard also

with a rope. These are the witnesses:
the Thursdays, and the bones of my arms,
the solitude, and the rain, and the roads. . .

Friday, July 10, 2009

Clearly, the dog is an oracle.

Found today in the same exact spot on my office rug where I found the dead bird on Tuesday. I walk into that room a little hesitantly now, peer around the corner and look in. The first thing that crossed my mind was "Is that an actual scarab?"

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


I like what Gal said about my recent experiences. "That is some powerful energy around you."

Not positive, not negative. Just powerful. My spiritual work consists of desperately trying to remain non-judging. And yet, the first dead bird dragged into my house by my puppy becomes rife with symbolism and portents doom. Truth of it is, there are no bad omens in Electric Angie-land. But in Grief-stricken, Sad, Lucy-less Angie-land, my primitive lizard brain cannot help but beware the ides of March.


Not at all pleasant to be around.

That's a fairly apt description of me for the last few days. The three As: Anxious. Angry. Angst-y.

I've described my anxiety in the last few posts. Here is angry and angsty: today, I checked our local town yahoo parents group email. I gave it its own email address, mainly because I thought I had to, so every few days I read it and catch up. "Birth Announcement." Let me preface this by saying, never have I seen a new baby announcement on this board. It is primarily set up for babysitting suggestions, yard sales, local restaurant/pediatrician reviews, and general announcements for kid-friendly things to do in my area. OCCASIONALLY, someone will get into a parenting-related topic like, "What organic repellent do you use on the children for mosquitos?" But generally, it is a pretty good resource for our area,and pretty benign on the dogma/personal information front. So, I was surprised when I read this announcement: "Just thought I'd share with you that our little one came into the world. I gave birth to baby ENTIRELY UNASSISTED. No meds. No one at all to help. On the floor of our minivan. And we're all fine! Email me if you want the whole story." This isn't the direct quote. I cut out the personal information part, but the highlights are there.

I deleted myself from the board.

It's not that I feel jealous of this person and her new baby, or even know her at all. It's a cute quirky story. But it's the "And we're all fine!" thing that got me. Of course you are all fine. I just don't think everyone in my town would want to see my baby announcement ending with "And we're all fucked up now!"

It was a rash decision, but I'm in no place right now. But it made me feel deeply ashamed of that part of me. The part that calls the township to find out the noise ordinances. The part of me ready to email the yahoo group leader about the proper use of the board. Ashamed that I want to impose my grumpiness on others. So, I took my misplaced anger, and decided I best go if I can't handle the content. Not them. They are in happy world where babies live. And I AM happy people are having healthy babies, even in awful, not-so-perfect situations. I just don't feel like reading about it right now. I just wanted to know where I can get a cheap burrito with my kid, dude.


I have been disturbed and anxious about being so disturbed and anxious. This isn't me. I'm not the negative, disturbed, anxious type. Clearly, all of our relationships change after our child dies, even our relationship with ourselves. I take steps now at the first sign of this crap. I step in and take charge of my new self. I treat me exactly like I would treat my best friend. "Let's get up, and get a shower, now. A shower will make you feel good, and a cup of tea." So I forced myself to check my anxiety in with a therapist. I actually saw a new therapist today, who also is a dead baby mama. Whew. A member of my tribe. It was a first session that felt like a third? (That's a good thing.) (BTW, I plan on seeing the Buddhist therapist again too at some point, but we did more meditating than therapy.)

"Come on, now, Angie, a little sweaty yoga will soothe your soul." And so, I did yoga this evening, and as I began Goddess position, I felt it deep within me. This power. It reminded me of the Haka, which is a traditional Maori dance. It is actually a war dance, and the New Zealand rugby team does the Haka in front of their opposing team to intimidate them. It fires up the crowd, and the players. And that is what I wanted suddenly--to be fired up in my dance. But I think my haka is a love war dance, because I felt this immense love. It warmed my belly first, and seeped into my arms, which looked strong somehow. Not flabby, as the mirror suggests, but with the strength of my youth. It filled me with love of my body and love of my strength, which strangely emanated today from exactly the place I used to think it didn't live--my vulnerability and my three As. As the practice moved into different poses, I let those feelings of war dance and power drift away, and the love take up residence in my extremities.

I thought today about how since reading blogs I have found out not just the one way a baby can die, but the thousands of ways babies can die before birth. But babyloss blogs are not handbooks on how babies can die, but handbooks on how we women survive, on how we grieve, on how we comfort, on how we become more compassionate, on how we love each other. These blogs are our haka for the world. Where we shake, and scream and dance, and threaten our enemies, and embrace ourselves. The place where we fire each other up with love, gentleness, compassion and kindness.

Powerful energy, as Gal would say.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

After a series of bad omens, I decide a dead bird sometimes just rots.

There was a dead bird in my office this afternoon.

Maggots. Flies. Broken neck. Eyes gone.

I’m so tired. I’m so fucking tired. Some days balancing these conflicting feelings of being incredibly grateful, joyful, happy, balanced with anxiety-ridden, fearful, superstitious, cynical and sad exhausts me. A tree caught fire about twenty yards from where I was sitting on Saturday. I was upwind. Today a dead bird ends up in my house. I’m pretty sure in Ancient Greece I would have had to perform an impossible task to appease the angered god, or at the very least, in the fairy tale version of my life, I would be banished from a kingdom or two.

I called Sam at work a little more hysterical than it warranted and he said, “Go to the liquor store, buy a bottle of wine, drive to the nearest hotel, and spend the night there. No. I’m serious.” I love that man more than the air. I’m still at home, but permission to run away is nice.


I admit that I googled dead bird omen. First one I read was a question on yahoo questions. “Is a dead bird on your front porch a bad omen?”

Answer: “It just means you have a dead bird on your porch.”

And really, isn’t that enough? Isn’t that bad enough? To figure out how to simultaneously kill maggots in your rug, keep a two year old and a puppy at bay, and remove a dead bird from your home. It sort of sours the day, even if you aren’t dealing with grieving a dead baby, post-fire trauma, loud construction echoing through your house, a grumpy two year old, and a hyperactive puppy. And that is the thing about being an adult. No one does this stuff for you anymore. Dead birds are squarely in your job description, as well as maggot removal, and dog scolding, answering philosophical questions on why the bird is dead, figuring out how to banish bad juju through mindless play time and procuring happy thoughts.


My friend Anna got me into reading my monthly horoscope from a specific astrology website. I think the first month I read it every major prediction came to pass. It was tempting to call it true. Next month, it was completely wrong. Let me just say, I basically know nothing about astrology except that in every major astrological cursory overview, I am boring. I am a Capricorn with a Taurus moon. In Chinese astrology, I am a Water Oxen. Staid and true. Loyal. Hardworking. Dependable. And of course, my Myers-Briggs result is a bit on the boring side too: INTP. (Sorry, Kitt.) Let’s put it this way, in the astrological spectrum, I am a dead bird/maggot cleaner-upper.


No fire or air (right now, I’m thankful for that!). Just earth signs. No center of the proverbial party. No crazy exploits. No excitement. My confession on Niobe’s blog is not one of those illicit affair ones. It is not a rule-breaking one either. It’s one of those ones that is not really a confession at all. It is the expression of a guilt-ridden do-gooder. No one bats an eye at it. “Yeah, yeah, lady. You’re a monster (nudge nudge.)”

The thing that Anna did teach me about astrology is not that it is true because a certain planet is in whatever house, or because the eclipse is in your Mars (did that even make sense?), but how you react to it. She reads her horoscope with a notepad and pen. And when the astrologer says something like, “You will change careers this month.” She gauges her gut reaction to the news. She writes it down, her emotional response to the “predictions.” It isn’t about what is going to happen, or the future, or believing in fate, it is about what you want to happen. She uses that information to help her make decisions about her life, her long-term plans, short-terms goals and everything in between. She is wise.

When I reflected on this, I realized my biggest obstacle in life is figuring out what I want, and conversely, what I need. Sometimes I need a third party kook to allow me to tell me what I want—maggots and all.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Le Shitstorm

I guess this is the blog post where I finally ask "Why Me?" over and over again, kick and pound the floor, cry and whine. Well, I don't really do it. But I do the blog post equivalent of that. Since coming home from the hospital after birthing Lucia, I admit I just never really asked that question much. The question "Why me?" sort of goes against my moral and spiritual understanding of the universe. I am no one special. Just a woman. Sure, I try to do right by my body, my family, my friends, my neighbors, my universe, but in general, suffering happens. Not just to other people. It happens to everyone, whether you are good or not. So, while I did ask often, "Why did this happen?" and expect answers from pathologists and doctors, I didn't ask God "Why did this happen?" As I once said on Aliza's blog, the ClifNotes version of my general philosophy of life is this: the world is a random, chaotic shitstorm, and sometimes you get caught in the eye of it. Other times, you are in the trailer park looking at the shitstorm coming straight for you. You can choose to evacuate and recognize that your trailer is a "thing" and not permanent, or stay in the trailer, look the aforementioned shitstorm in the eye and hang onto your crappy tin facade of security and control. But still, the Random Chaotic Shitstorm of Suffering is barreling towards you. Best thing you can do is be kind, help, love and support those in the shitstorm now, and hope that there are others there to help and love you through your shitstorm. Ah, my proverbs are so deep.

This weekend, while enjoying a nice day of picnic-ing with my family, my mother's house caught on fire. Well, I should say a tree right in front of her house caught on fire, and got to the business of catching my mother's house on fire. It melted the siding before my stepfather, acting very quickly, began hosing the house down with the son-in-laws. We evacuated said shitstorm in plenty of time. So, huddled with my puppy and my baby in grass across the street, I trembled. A deep, bone-rattling tremble. I watched my husband and step-father with hoses shooting two stories up, as the brutal wind carried the flames and smoke into the atmosphere. The men put it out within seven minutes, I know because invitees sitting with me kept speculating what percentage of the house would have been destroyed by this point if we waited for the firemen. My family is generally pretty good in crises, and keep their cool. My four year old nephew turned to me and said, "I'm scared." I cuddled him with us, and said, "It's okay, Little. Everyone is here and safe. Why are you scared, honey?"

"I don't want anyone else in our family to die."


Later, in the way that happens after a traumatic event, we all sat around our proverbial campfire and talked about what happened, and our reactions. I talked about how I was sitting around the corner, upwind from the fire, with my daughter painting, drinking a glass of water. When I heard "FIRE", and saw the billow of black smoke engulfing the picnic area from where my family was running in terror from the house, my first instinct was the throw the water on the house. How ridiculous, right? To throw the water from my glass into a fire that reached two stories. She laughed. Then it reminded me of when I worked morning shift in a cafe. I would arrive at 530a alone, start making coffee. One morning, I came into about two inches of water covering the entire floow. I didn't know what happened, and internally, I sort of shrugged my shoulders, scratched my chin. How am I going to open at 7a? I grabbed a mop and began mopping. Dipping the mop onto the floor, squeezing the water into the bucket, repeat. After an hour, with little progress, I realized it was too big for me, and I called for back-up.

It is a feeling I haven't been able to shake since yesterday. As though it were a metaphor for my entire life since Lucy died. Like I am sopping up a flood with a mop and a bucket, or throwing a glass of water on a burning house.


As I sat there, shaking with the girl and the dog and the nephews, remnants of the tree smoldered and the melted siding was strewn in piles around my husband and family, the firemen began coming, and coming, and coming. Soon there were five fire trucks, a paramedic/EMT, a water truck, fifteen F150s (I am generalizing on the Big Truck Models.)The tears would grow in my eyes watching them in their full firemen suits, and face masks, testing everything to make sure my mother's house wasn't burning anymore. Then they would go away, and I would catch a glimpse of my daughter bouncing up and down, and pointing, and yelping, "Mama, mama, look. Firetruck. Mama, look." And my eyes would well up again.

My internal mantra for yesterday post-fire was, "But my daughter died. Why is this happening? Are you aiming at me, God? Is this something Job-ian? Have I failed the test?" It just all came to me in one fail swoop with the fire. That feeling of being damned. Of being punished. That hollow, tinny, lonely echo of "Why me?" reverberating in my soul.

Everyone had a different reaction. My mother was very relieved. She thought of every scenario which could have made it worse. Nighttime. Inside. No one saw the tree. We waited for the firemen to come. No one pulled out the hose. Children playing there. I became furious. Very very angry. I became more anxious than I already am. But mostly, today, I am still trembling. I am still shaken. Still trying not to read the signs in the signs.