Wishing you courage

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying 'I will try again tomorrow'."
- Mary Anne Radmacher

Thursday, March 31, 2011


Usually I can tell the instant a pregnant woman is near but I was fooled last night by a baggy t-shirt and conversation that was not initially pregnancy-centric.  But I'm calming down about that anyway; learning of a pregnancy is not like being emotionally stabbed anymore, it's more like a healed injury.  For a real life analogy, the knee I broke last summer feels just fine 97% of the time, but every once in a while I'll step funny and yowzers!  Although, my heart that broke for Toren doesn't feel fine 97% of the time yet.

Anyway, I decided to stay present and not get swept away by memories and that went well, though I did drink a little too much wine, and got quieter and quieter as the conversation got louder and louder, and was the first one to leave.  But it did get to the point where she expressed how unpleasant it is being pregnant and joked that she was keeping a journal reminding herself not to get pregnant again. 

She said "pregnancy is HORRIBLE!"
And I thought, "Lady, you don't even know how horrible pregnancy can be."


The first ultrasound with Toren was supposed to be around 9 weeks and even though I was certain of my menstrual period dates the ultrasound revealed that he was actually almost 13 weeks gestation (that last one sure looked like a menstrual period).  I was so happy to be further along because that was closer to when the nausea was expected to ease up.  Being pregnant really does make some people feel horrible.  And then to have it end horribly makes it a mystery why a subsequent pregnancy even sounds like a good idea at all.

Really, why do we want to risk repeating that experience again?  Is this my biological clock creating this sense of urgency to repeat something that was horrible?

Monday, March 28, 2011

1, 2, 3


These are the loneliest day, the terrorversaries.

These have become the days when it hurts the most that his father left me behind to handle these days alone - to remember our son alone.

Today is the third anniversary of a day when nothing happened.  Had his story taken a different path, Toren would have been 3 years old.



The day after the prior post I had a very important therapy session, though it's hard to describe why.  Here's some rambling: People with children do sometimes kill themselves.  If Toren had lived, my marriage probably would not have improved enough to make it good.  The same persistent problems would have returned once the difficult aspects of raising a child emerged.  This is not some sort of comparison that ends with determining that it's a fucking blessing that Toren is dead because now I'm out of a bad marriage, this is letting go of the dream I was clinging to that Toren living would have meant that my husband I would only grow closer and closer.

Sometimes I miss my ex more than I could ever say out loud, and that makes me so angry that he could not be the person I thought he was.



Birth control has run out and cycle charting has begun.  Even while dutifully logging temperatures and whatnot, I can't believe that a baby could be the end result. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I'm going to tell you a story because I don't know who else to tell.  You all, my necessary, anonymous friends.

My part in it was very small.  It was Thanksgiving Day, 2008.  I had spent the previous week involuntarily admitted to a mental hospital after a suicide attempt on a Sunday afternoon.  Toren had been dead for just over a year.  One of my closest friends from the past (the mommy mobile girl, for anyone who has been following and remembering this bitter sob story from the first year) had just given birth to a son and he was very ill.  I was having constant anxiety attacks; overwhelmed by something more complex than jealousy, it was utter confusion about why she got a live baby and I didn't, but also unmaintainable concern that she would lose her son too.  And I was driving my husband nuts.  He wanted me to be nothing but happy for our friends who were new parents, but I couldn't do that.  I couldn't get beyond the hugely complex, uncomprehensible emotions of my dead baby, her live but sick baby, and in hindsight, the lack of support I had from the man who was un-becoming my best friend.  The Saturday before (suicide Sunday, to jump around terribly) my husband was out at a nightclub, as usual, while I was at home, unable to face a night of dancing post dead-baby, as usual.  With bottles of wine, as usual.  That Saturday night I really needed someone, but they were all out dancing.  Saturday turned into Sunday and I continued with tears, alcohol, then tossed the contents of all medicine in the house into the mix when my husband said he was going to move out.  My husband MADE me get into the car and I hugged Toren's memory box all of the way to the nearest ER.  The memory of Toren was the most beautiful and painful thing, but on that day, it felt like all I had.  I didn't know if I was on my way to be with Toren, but there was no longer much point to be alive if I was going to be so alone.

The hospitalization was one of the best things that ever happened to me, once it was over anyway.  It is very scary to be forced to go somewhere.  It was very late at this point, I rode in the back of a sheriff's car, was strip searched upon arrival, sedated, and sent to bed for a few hours before the mandatory time to start the day.  My husband came for a "family" therapy session a few days later and the therapist expressed her thoughts that any trouble between us could be repaired and I believed her.  I was able to leave after four days to enter out-patient treatment.  I only told one friend about it and carried on like everything was fine.

I think I brought a pear frangipane tart to Thanksgiving dinner at a friends house, just like in previous years because everything was "fine".  Thanksgiving at my friends house was our new tradition and all sorts of people stopped by while those like us, who didn't have family nearby, stayed all day.  There was a couple there that I hadn't met before and their two children were there as well.  I'd estimate that the little girl was around 4 or 5 and her brother was a year or two older.  The couple was really cool; young like us, tattooed, into the same club scene.  At first I felt uncomfortable around such adorable, young children, but before even a few hours past I was running around the yard with the kids playing games.  The kids and their Mom sat by me at dinner and we kept each other entertained.  The little girl had a tin of powdered pink lemonade with a tiny spoon and I helped her make lemonade.  After dinner on the deck all of the adults chatted and the girl held on to my hands and shook her head wildly, so wildly that she would have fallen over if she weren't hanging on to me.  She did this over and over and we all laughed.

Not that these were my motives, but I thought my husband would see how happy I was, and how fun I could be with kids by how I interacted with these children and surely we would mend our marriage.  SURELY, we would resume our family building plans.  We could be like this great couple who had the lifestyle we had but also had children!  We had met role models.  But on the drive home I laid my head on the center console where his arm was and he moved away, and later that night the discussion began again - nothing had changed with him, he had no desire to see if our marriage could survive.

I never saw that couple again.  I never went to Thanksgiving at my friends house again.  There were those horrible months of being so alone and feeling suicidal for so long, but thankfully I had the mandatory out-patient treatment to go to 3 times a week plus my regular therapy.  And the one friend I had told about my mental hospital stay kept me afloat through that time.  And my story moved on.  My SnuggleBunny is in this very room playing a game on his computer, in our home.

In early February the wife of that couple died.  Piecing information together, it sounds like she committed suicide after her husband fucked another woman.

Her husband killed himself a few hours ago.

I bet that no one could even comprehend their truths.  I can't believe that I survived and they didn't.

My heart breaks for their story and their orphaned children.  May they all find peace.
Thank you all so much for your encouragement on my last post.  It really means so much to get support for a story that involves an issue that is so controversial.  I don't think of Toren as being aborted, even though it does fall into that category.  I think of it more like his pregnancy was terminated.  I don't think that most early elective abortions are taken lightly but there were so many things to consider with Toren and none of them were anywhere close to "is this a good time for a baby?".  That's very shallow and stereotypical since there are thousands of other questions to consider with an early elective abortion, but I'm trying to say that the terms feel so different that it ... I can't find words for it.  I was very pro-life where Toren was concerned - if only preparation, determination, and love could make organs grow.


I'm in a slump.  Just this week I started fundraising for the March for Babies (check out Toren's cute little face in the sidebar) and it's going to be a very half-assed effort.  Raising money for the March of Dimes is important, but right now Japan could use a great deal of help so maybe I'll feel better about encouraging people to donate to this, not-so-urgent, cause in a few weeks.  Anyway, this is my 3rd year walking in the March for Babies and it has been a positive experience.  If you are considering doing something in memory of your baby, look into the March for Babies and see if you think it will assist with your healing.

It's not clear why I'm so tired and down lately.  I'll have a good week, then a bad week (last week was good).  Meds have been tinkered with and along with increasing doses my body is plumping, plumping, plumping.

For the past 6 weeks I've hardly been drinking wine.  I thought that would be the key to ending this LONG period of depression but it didn't exactly work that way.  Inspired by Reba's post's about telling a story in six words, here's what I wrote a few weeks ago:

Drunk or not, baby is dead.

The 3+ years of consuming impressive amounts of wine did exactly as intended and covered up a lot of grief so stopping this prompted an unending flood of thoughts about Toren for several weeks.  And that's become the emotional theme lately:
      do March for Babies or not, baby is dead
      plan/hope for rainbow baby, Toren is dead
Any action or mindset, positive or negative, does not erase the past that I so want to un-do.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

This is what I said

Yesterday I gave a testimony before my State Senate in opposition of a bill that would make any pregnancy terminations beyond 20 weeks gestation illegal with the only exception being if the mother's life was in immediate danger.  Did I ever expect to be speaking out against an abortion bill?  No.  Even though I am pro choice I'd rather not be involved with a subject with such controversy.  But I think that mostly pregnancies where there is a shitty prenatal diagnosis will be impacted with this bill and it is such an awful time when you hear that your fetus is very unwell that removing options is NOT HELPFUL.

I don't talk about this much here because I don't want to receive a single hateful comment.  It's one thing to say your opinion, and something entirely different to spew mean words just because you don't agree with the view of someone else.  I can understand why a woman would choose to carry to term but I don't think it is the best choice for every fetus and every family.

Anyway... this post may not stay up long.

Testimony for Senate Bill, March 2011
            Thank you for the time to tell you about my son today.  My name is Anna M. and the following events took place in 2007.  In that year I finished my Master’s degree, my husband and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary, we had already bought a 3-bedroom house with a big back yard, and we decided to start a family.  It was a difficult pregnancy nearly from the start, but those were also some of the happiest months of my life.  We already knew our baby was a little boy and we were beyond excited about the anatomy ultrasound to see images of him again and see how he was doing.  The anatomy ultrasound at almost 19 weeks gestation showed that there was no amniotic fluid and the baby was very difficult to see.  There are several causes of absent amniotic fluid and in my son’s case it was due bilateral renal agenesis, which means his kidney’s did not develop.  He was also missing his stomach and bladder.  Amniotic fluid is necessary for the development of the baby’s lungs and the absence of it leads to a constellation of physical features known as Potter’s syndrome.  Because the baby is not cushioned by amniotic fluid the mother’s organs press on the growing fetus causing physical deformities including abnormal limb growth and flattened facial features.  This is a fatal condition and babies that survive the pregnancy and delivery will die of respiratory failure once they are born.
            The doctors had to explain the diagnosis over and over to me because it was so hard for me to accept that they were describing my child.  My husband and I had spent years preparing for a family and months bonding with this baby.  Our family members were already in love with this baby.  We wondered if he would be musically talented like his dad or interested in science like me.  His nursery would be decorated with a jungle theme and he would have dinosaur pajamas.  We were going to breastfeed for as long as possible and learn baby sign language.  There are not words to describe how hard it is to switch from planning for your baby’s future to the reality that he cannot live. 
            Immediately there were choices to be considered about how the pregnancy should proceed from that point.  It is definitely surreal to be weighing the pros and cons of the terms of your own child’s death.  One good way to describe it is having to make a decision when there are no good outcomes no matter what option is selected.  When considering continuing the pregnancy, I could not imagine how I would ever leave the house or face anyone knowing that my baby was going to die.  I didn’t know how I would be able to answer innocent questions about my pregnancy without weeping and health wise, it would be safer for me to deliver early.  My husband stopped touching my stomach, trying to distance himself from his son and trying to ignore his grief.  But the most important factor in deciding to terminate the pregnancy was that I didn’t want my son’s life to be spent in an environment that was so cramped that his body grew deformed and he couldn’t move around, only to suffocate upon birth.  My son was not going to live, regardless of when he was born, and as his parents, my husband and I had to consider the quality of his short life.
            Legislation restricting all pregnancy terminations after 20 weeks gestation, except when the mother’s life is in danger, ignores the families where a fetus tragically receives an adverse prenatal diagnosis.  Many serious conditions are discovered at the anatomy ultrasound which happens around 20 weeks gestation and it can take several weeks to get further testing so it is not unusual for women to pass the 20 week mark before a final diagnosis is made.  And importantly, some time is needed to make an informed decision regarding continuing or terminating the pregnancy.  Carrying to term is not in the best interest of all women and their families for a variety of physical and mental health reasons.  Additionally, carrying to term can mean that the fetus suffers for a longer period of time and has a more traumatic death.  Please keep these families in mind when considering legislation with so many restrictions.