Saturday, December 11, 2010

Blue, Jeans

Thursday, I stepped out of the shower and into a pair of jeans I hadn't worn in five years.

I'm not sure if I expected a parade and confetti, but needless to say, that didn't happen.

I have a post up at Glow In the Woods.

(Sorry it's a few days late; this time of year is all shades of crazy.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Good Bye to a Grieving Mom

Before I start that story: This Sunday, 12/12, is the International Worldwide Candlelighting sponsored by Compassionate Friends. Per usual, Familia Awful will sojourn to Philly Children's where they will read the names of children who have died there over the years.

When I first considered going to this event in 2007, I was petrified that I would turn into a blubbering puddle making a spectacle of myself and causing great alarm to my family and Bella who was then three. I decided it would make me feel a bit more edified if I took along the names of all the children I knew from my friends in the computer -- written down on scraps of paper in my pocket. They would balance my load, remind me I wasn't alone.

And they did.

Every year I ask if there is a name I can carry with me, and so here I am asking once again: If you would like me to carry your child's name with my own and my now rather modest stack of names in my pocket to my event, please leave it here in the comments. If you don't want to print your child's name here, feel free to email me at tashabf at gmail and I'll take it from there. If you've responded in the past, I still have your child's name. But please go ahead and double check and make sure. Please note that these names are not read out loud nor are they really a part of the ceremony I attend. I write your child's name on a scrap of paper, and the scraps go into a bag which gets put in my pocket. When I'm there listening to all of the other names and watching the flickering candlelight, I know your names are close to my hand and heart, keeping me company. When I come home, they go into a bowl next to a candle for a few nights until they get overrun by Christmas -- and then I make sure to safely put them away until next year lest a neighbor accidentally place a dip and some pita chips by the bowl thinking the tableau was set up for something else entirely.


After Maddy died, a friend of ours sent us Elizabeth Edwards "Saving Graces." It sat on my coffee table for months, Edwards' flawless skin and slight smile staring up at me from the cover. When I finally had the strength to pick it up, I did not start at the beginning -- I skipped right to the chapter "Raleigh," which begins,

I've now come to a chapter that I knew I would have to write.

I knew I had the right one. I read about how the policeman came to their driveway and told them their son was dead. I was awestruck at their ability to celebrate his next birthday. I breathed a most enormous sigh of relief when I read that Elizabeth Edwards, somewhat famous person, had also collapsed into a teary heap at the grocery store. Following this chapter was a chapter -- an entire chapter -- on how the internet helped her through her grief. I had only started blogging, but I thought maybe, just maybe, this lady is onto something. She seems pretty together now. I could only hope that the invisible legions within the computer could help me as well.

Barely three months after starting a blog, I wrote a post about presidents who had lost children. I began by pointing out that a few of the people currently running for president -- including John Edwards -- had lost children. I had heard through the grapevine that Elizabeth Edwards was internet savvy, but clearly that was an understatement: Apparently she must have had a search set up to sift through anything that popped out the name of her family and her son that notified her immediately because shortly after hitting post, I got a comment.

From Elizabeth Edwards.

She wrote a beautiful metaphor about how life is like a blackboard, and when your child dies, the blackboard is erased and it seems as if nothing will ever be important enough ever again to expend chalk and space upon a square. I got that. She claimed over a decade later her board was filling again, and that she still grieved, but it wasn't all the time, and not as painful as in the beginning. It was hard to fathom the metaphor; in part because I was still so, so far away from realizing it, and in large part because I was so moved that she used Maddy's name. She typed out her name.

I was still so blinded and rubbed raw and my blank chalkboard was in pieces at my feet, so it was all I could do to try and respond without resorting to profanity (although from what I hear, she would've been ok with that). She seemed so . . . hopeful. So . . . . ok. Would I ever be? That woman on the book jacket seemed a million light years from where I stood.

It is three years to the week of that post, and I already see what she means. All I need to do is glance at my real calendar to see that even trivial things like bookclub are once again making me feel, well, alright about life. (It's this Friday, and we're selecting next year's books, and I'm just atwitter.) And even where it's not filled, metaphorically speaking, I'm holding that chalk just above the surface wanting to write something. I'm ready. I'm ready to put something down, dammit. I think.

A week or so after that post I went to my first candlelight ceremony at Children's, and perhaps it was presumptuous of me, but on one of my scraps I wrote "Wade." Elizabeth Edwards would never know, but I figured she took time to write my daughter's name, the least I could do was the act of writing out her son's. It came with me that year, and will again on Sunday. Just because his parents are kinda famous, I thought, doesn't mean he's any less missed. And I'm sure his parents fought to keep his memory alive as much as any of us.

I'll always remember Wade. And you too, Elizabeth. And you too.

Please let's all raise our chalk to a woman who suffered way more in her life than any woman should, and did so with staggering grace and dignity. She was a champion to many women for many reasons, but for me she'll always be the woman who took time out of a campaign schedule to write my daughter's name.

Monday, November 15, 2010


He is dragging us forward, kicking and screaming. Literally.

Nothing screams "your dead baby is frozen at six days" like a live baby. Used to be when walking him around, trying to get him to sleep, I could sidle up to a picture of Maddy sitting on a shelf and do a quick back/forth to see if they resembled one another. I became convinced that Maddy's hair was indeed of a reddish tint like her siblings, and finally steeled myself and and brought up all her pictures. And there, in a particularly grim one, with her head just tilted so, with the god-awful light shining just right, so that the wisps of hair on the side of head were visible over a white cot blanket: red. I imagined were we able to take her outside and hold her in the bright winter sun after a snow, that her hair would've been evidently red especially in relation to what would've been her father's days-old tired, unshaven red beard.


Ale-Muffin is progressing forward, so fast at times I need to back up and study him to remember last week.

He has two tiny (motherfuckin' sharp) pearly white teeth on the bottom.

The teeth have changed his facial structure somewhat.

He loves zucchini.

He hated Smitten Kitchen's vanilla pears -- which initially broke my heart. (It was the only food so far where he has scrunched his face and stuck out his tongue, and practically shouted, "Are you trying to fucking poison me?") My son will not be a foodie! Until I tasted them. And then sat completely unashamed and finished the bowl with the baby spoon and then licked it clean while my baby and dogs watched in silent alarm. The only thing that could be better, I decided, was to have them warm over ice cream, and now at least I don't have to share the remaining frozen squares. Heart mended.

His favorite book is "Dog." This is really the only one he will sit and ponder and poke at the pictures and make excited noises and not deign to grab out of my hands and eat in the middle of the climax. (Micky does not get baked! Please let me finish!)

He is not even like Bella anymore --

Everyone studies him to figure out who he looks like, and the jury is still out: sometimes me with the double dimples and round face; sometimes dad with the brow line and chin; sometimes just a bundle of cute like my brother was. He is his own person now.

He sleeps better than Bella did, but cries more and more loudly -- ironically, when it's naptime.

He is a giggler, a smiler, and a belly-gut laugher. His sister can get him going so hard I worry about aneurysm.

He is not a drama queen. We're all suffering from that dry nose/throat/crusty eye crap in the morning since turning on our heat coupled with our concomitant slow-ass ability to get the humidifiers up and running. Two weeks ago, Bella woke in the night with her eye crusted over and after dealing with a warm cloth, she moaned and groaned for a solid two hours. "Mmmmmooommmmm, Mmmmoooommmm, my eyyyyyyye." Oh go to bed already, it needs to be closed. We'll deal with it in the morning. (She was fine by the next morning, incidentally.) So a few nights ago, after stupidly getting Ale's congestion moving with a bath in a steamy bathroom (note to self: try and do this earlier in the day), he awoke in the middle of the night with snot drippings and a crusty eye. I used the snot bulb (which he likes, for some reason) and started to deal with the eye. Which I hate, because involuntarily closed eyes take me right back to the NICU and Maddy's tightly shut lids, which never opened. So there I was, bent over the baby, strings of mucus streaking across his cheeks that I had hadn't wiped up yet, holding a warm washcloth over his eye, trying desperately not to have a flashback, and he . . .

began to giggle. Until we were both a booger-covered giggly wreck in the lamplight.

Thank you, I murmured holding him close. One dramaturge in the family is plenty.

He is almost as heavy as Bella was at this point, his big head already making it tricky to pull on 9m necklines; but not as long as Bella.

And I realize through this emerging person, this person unlike no other, that he is drifting farther away from Maddy.

I walk him by her picture now and I can't see him in her anymore, or her in him.

I actually have half a mind to send out holiday cards this year, for the first time in four years. And I wonder how or if to include Maddy in this, and she appears as some sort of Macabre Flat-Stanley, existing in two dimensions, quietly radiating that one-week baby look while Bella and her brother are seemingly captured in three dimensions, the voice and drool palpable.

He is not six days, he is not frozen. (Although his room can get a bit chilly at times.) He is no longer that generic baby, the one that looks like Yoda. He is doing that lunging thing when he sits, putting down his hands and then propelling his feet and upper body and throwing himself forward. He will realize soon, too soon I think, that by gently moving forward onto his knees he can indeed move ahead less violently.

He is pulling us all forward with him, in fits and starts, for better or worse.

I need to be pulled there, even head first into a basket of toys. But as healthy as it is -- and oh jeez, what a relief not to be stuck anymore -- it makes me sad to know she will always be stuck, there. I'm moving on, Love, and you're frozen. Beautiful, but frozen. And getting more solidified by the day.

It's a sad thing, this.

And yet, it's altogether wonderful.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sizing Up

I knew there would be tough conversations. But I figured with death already in the rear-view mirror, how hard could boys, sex, alcohol, drugs and rock and roll be? At least those are sorta fun things, yes? And if I threaten death in any one of those conversations, she knows I mean it and that it's not some abstract notion -- like in the classic Victorian novel where the protagonist meets a boy and then symbolically cuts her hair and listens to Elvis and winds up face down in the pond at the end.

I forgot all about the body image conversations, largely (no pun intended) because I didn't think they'd come up until she was 22 16 12. But no, here they are already.

Bella grew two sizes since last fall. She is by no means overweight, or remotely what I'd classify as "chunky" or "hefty" or any of the nice synonyms that kids clothing makers use these days like "plus" or "husky." Good lord, to a six-year old, a husky is a DOG, people. And this isn't mom talking out of her ass; I asked her doctor to please spare me the percentages and go straight to the BMI and tell me if I need to be worried: No. She's fine. Pefect even. So far.

But like any human being, she is not constructed exactly like every other human being. And so it came to be that she opened a box for her birthday and was presented with a pair of jeans. I cringed.

Before she tried them, I had a discussion with her: Sweetie, they make different kinds of jeans for different sized people. "But I wear a 7, and these are size 7!"

(Gulp.) "Right, but there are different size 7's. For example, some girls don't really have butts."

"Do I have a butt?" she asks turning around to check her backside.

"Yes, you do, and it's lovely, and believe me, girls who don't eventually want them. It's a good thing."

She smiles.

"But some girls, even though they're the same height, have different sized legs. Or different size thighs. So they make different kinds of size 7's, and if these don't fit you, we'll go and find a pair that does, ok?"

Bella proceeds to do the classic 1980s move where she lies down, shimmies herself into the jeans, stands up to button them, and stands there immobile unable to bend or move.


"Sweetie, you can't even sit down in those."

"Yes I can!" She says, leaning against the window seat like a paper doll.

"No, you can't, and they're uncomfortable, and jeans shouldn't be uncomfortable. We'll go and find another size 7 that fits."


And she seems incredibly cool with this and not remotely upset and I think I've done my job pretty well, thank you. And then I get a look at the tag:

Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME?? Just how many things do you find wrong with this descriptor? (Leaving aside for the moment that our classic American company jeans seem to be made in the country hiding terrorists.) I was fuming. It's one thing to bitch about the obesity crisis and how kids are getting bigger thanks to high fructose corn syrup; it's another to tell my six-year-old, medically sanctioned proportional daughter that "Super Skinny" is "Regular." Skinny is not even "Super" in my opinion. It is not. (And last I checked, "Super Skinny" got one checked into a clinic.)


As much as I'm trying to have these level-headed conversations with Bella so she doesn't turn into an eight-year old with an eating disorder, I'm struggling with the same debates in my own head. I know kids pick up on parental signals, and so I try -- I really do, much harder than I try and monitor my salty language (just yesterday, my husband yelled up the stairs during the baby's naptime, which led me to give him a loud and bewildered, "What the Fuck?") -- and keep my own self-image in check. Actually, this hasn't been too too much of a problem given that for some reason (well, breastfeeding plus cutting dairy and the fortunate ability to run, who am I kidding) I've managed to lose a chunk of weight. I'm ahead of where I'd thought I'd be when I had that chit-chat with myself about realistically losing weight following this pregnancy.

So I've been fairly cool on the "Jeez I'm huge, nothing fits" talk (done with huffs and eye rolls and yes, occasionally tears) and have been wearing stuff that causes Bella to ask, "Is that new?" and me to reply that no, it's pretty damn old but I just fit in it again, thanks.

And I really thought in my wildest dreams if I ever got my weight back down to something within the realm of sanity (I'm not an underwear model; I still have weight to lose, it's just much much less than what I had anticipated) that I'd be over the moon and my troubles would be over.

Turns out they're not.

I took Muffin Man in the powder room the other day to check out his studly self in the mirror, and checked out myself while I was at it.

People, I am old. I don't have crow's feet. I have aviary feet. The tell-tale footprints of crows, cardinals, jays, finches, pigeons, robins, and a woodpecker, like they all stood in a circle and lunched on my eyeballs. The streaks in my hair that usually turn blonde in the summer are considerably less blonde than I remember.

I was always one of those gals that got carded far beyond legal, and looked late 20s for quite some time. Until Maddy. I think I've aged a decade in the last three years. My neck skin is doing this weird thing making me hope turtlenecks and scarves are in for fall, and I'm pretty sure a 41-year-old body should not have this particular set of hormones running through it. I'm hot all the time despite my central air, my bones creak when I bend down to pick up a certain somebody despite the fact that I'm running.

What is particularly ironic is that the wrinkles and turkey clucker are especially apparent when I smile. Which I guess I'm doing more of these days than staring somberly into the mirror and wondering how on earth I got this many decades into my life. I guess to look better I'll just cut it with the happy. And wear a fetching wrap around my neck.

I'm not a particularly vain person, and I'm not going to be running out to shoot botulism in my eye creases. But looking at this person holding a baby is reminding me of just how long this process took, and how long I waited, and what I went through (those lines there? the NICU. And those? Family treating us like shit. And those? the months I couldn't stop crying). And, well, how thankful I am.

Because I am.

I'm just not sure about getting photographed with the baby.


Speaking of photographing and baby:

What is it with subsequent kids that we can't seem to drag out the good camera? Where is the good camera, anyway? Is it charged? Eh, moment over. While Bella has umpteen-zillion magazine-worthy photos of her by four months of age, this guy has shit like this, taken on my phone, with his carseat as background. Nice, huh. Put that in a frame on the family wall. And really I took it because he's cute and he was just so happy to be shopping at TJ's! (Don't know why; here they discontinued my bar, after discontinuing Bella's about six months ago. Apparently we are not to snack, or in my case, eat lunch.)

I digress: Here's Muffin wearing green in honor of Ale-Jet:

And that my friends, is the clue to his name. And a load of probable nicknames to use here, like Ale-Cute and Ale-Poop. (And if you're pronouncing Ale like the drink, you're wrong. But I like the way you think.) PLEASE don't go blabbing the full name in the comments and save my anonymity from my family. We use either side of the name as a nickname, in case you were wondering.

Friday, September 3, 2010


Who knew a footnote could cause such a ruckus? Apparently in the drafted edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (also known as DSM V, replacing DSM IV, natch) the Powers That Be decided to remove a footnote that made grief an exclusion to depression. Ergo, in V, for all intents and purposes, they propose absorbing grief into the definition of depression. Which has some positive features, and some negative ones. I link to some articles and opinions and invite your reactions today, at Glow in the Woods.

Yikes, I didn't mean to cease posting here which given my last entry, I apparently did. It's been a rough summer. Hopefully next week my life will cease to be quite the fire-drill it is now. One can hope.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

On Ashes, Boxes, and Stones

I love writing for GITW, but truly one of the most incongruous things I've had to write was the recent article on "funeral planning for a baby" while looking at and listening to the little fat fusspot in the seat beside me.

I'm not sure whether I was tempting fate or that dirty diaper was a big ol' F-you sign to the reaper and his minions.

In any case, we thought it would be helpful for those who find us from the hospital (and many do, sadly) to have a permanent article up on Funeral Planning. I know this is one of those painful memory kinda things for many of you, but if you get time and have the inclination, could you please go add your experience over there, too? Someone will surely come along and read it, and read your words, and think, "Well there, her. That's me exactly." And someone will feel less alone in this whole ugly process.

We have a new permanent article up today at Glow In The Woods.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Now We Are Six

Wherever I am there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
"Where are you going today?" says Pooh:
"Well that's very odd 'cos I was too.
"Let's go together," says Pooh, says he.
"Let's go together," says Pooh.

Apropos of absolutely nothing, we were at some social gathering recently and the subject of potty training came up. "Bella was easy," shrugged Mr. ABF. Which elicited one of those "Who are you and what have you done with my husband?" stares from me.

"HA!" I snorted. And I took a swig of whatever was in my hand and got my lips all ready to humorously and graphically detail what an extracted affair it was getting Bella to use the toilet when I suddenly realized . . .

I forget. I forget it all. I have absolutely no idea. I have this vague sense that it was horrible and miserable, and I really do remember hitting the wall at some point and deciding: you know what? Just buy new undies and throw those out. I recall an accident at the zoo where I dutifully pulled out the lysol wipes and sanitized the seat she had been on and then hustled her to the car where from she rode home naked. I have a vague recollection of awarding stickers, but not prizes. I think the stickers were the prizes. I know by the time she ran into preschool (at age 3 years and one month) ahead of me without nary a backward glance she was in underwear.

I don't know what I did, I don't know how I started, I don't know why I started when I did. Was it quick? Slow? Usual?

Is forgetting a hellish childhood period (filled with excrement nonetheless) a typical parental quirk?

Bella potty trained while I was in my fog of grief. I remember so much pain, and yet I remember very little about her. There's about a year there where I'm also without the help of photographic evidence (thank god for the blog or Christmas would be a blur as well).

I missed a year of short six year life. Almost a whole year, because I was distracted by another child. A child who isn't even earthbound and lives only in photos and in my imagination and heart. I'm not big on regrets, but I am sorry -- truly sorry -- that I missed a year of Bella's life. It's probably why I'm overcompensating this year, with another child at my breast, by hosting a tie-dye party. What in god's name was I thinking, not outsourcing a party when I'm barely alert and feel a bit like a bobblehead most days? I thought enough in advance to hire her baby sitter to join us and help us out. And ordered a barbie cake where the cake is her skirt -- tie dye, of course. I'm more excited about it than she is. I'm not missing anything this time around, and am going to photograph and remember every technicolor detail.


Bella, self portrait.

The baby is bringing Bella into relief. Bella is LOUD. Bella is not subtle. At all. Bella isn't horribly gentle with fragile things (this trait is backed up by watching her with neighbor's kittens). She is ready to roughhouse, now.

Bella is big. She has a toothless, slightly crooked grin now that makes her look like a Norman Rockwell. I noticed on Memorial Day that her tummy was pooching out in her swim suit and thought, "here it comes, a growth spurt." Three weeks later she seemed three inches taller. The pooch was gone, and her legs shot out spindly like from her now too-short shorts. Her hair is long (and unwashed and uncombed. Thus starts a post for September which hopefully ends with me taking her screaming and kicking to the salon for a crop).

And I look at the baby and it all floods back -- her crooked smile, her brilliant blue eyes, her intense silence. Geez, remember that? (And for the record, I'll take a screamer who sleeps over a silent non-sleeper any day of the week.)

A few moments with the baby can set off my internal photo album. I can remember things Bella wore when she was an infant -- in fact, when she asked me a bit about our neighbors in our old 'hood, I could not remember her babysitter's name but I could remember in staggering grotesque detail the pink outfit that the babysitter's mother gave her when she was born. It helps that her little brother is wearing a fair amount of hand-me downs (though not the pepto-bismol outfit), but there are other glimpses of past seeping through. The Christmas we all got violently ill and it was warm as heck out. The adorable velvet handme-down dress. The first week in December '04 when she didn't even cat nap for five straight days. Actually going to one of those pre-Christmas sales at 5 a.m. because we were up.

And then the album stops. And it picks up again and here we are, dissing the Hanna Anderssen catalog as "boring," and capturing her mother's heart by reading mystery chapter books. Her interest in sewing puts me to shame, and she can mix a batch of cookies while I hold a baby and give instructions. She can roll her eyes and huff like the best thirteen-year old (causing me to sternly use all three of her names), and linger in a pre-off-to-camp hug. She wants a(nother) dog, she wants a stuffed animal marketed to a two-year old. She wants a DS, an iPhone and a laptop. (Spoiler: She is not getting any of those.) She can bat a ball better than I ever could at any age, and just got her deep water badge at the pool. She whines way, way too much.

I'm half-wondering what happens when the baby turns two; do I get to experience that year in all it's glory, sans mind-altering prescription drugs? (Will I decide I liked it better the other way?) Will I remember anything about Bella that was previously lost?


'What's twice eleven?' I said to Pooh,
('Twice what?' said Pooh to Me)
' I think it ought to be twenty-two.'
'Just what I think my self,' said Pooh.
'It wasn't an easy sum to do,
But that's what it is,' said Pooh, said he.
'That's what it is,' said Pooh.

Mr. ABF and I lengthened our extremely brief wedding ceremony (which we purposefully wrote so as not to say anything more than "I do") in order to add a couple of readings, one of which was "Us Two" by A. A. Milne. There was something so primal, so fundamental about that feeling of finding another that goes with you everywhere, including dragged down the stairs feet first. The other whose mere existence helps you solve problems, and reaffirms your very being.

Ten years ago today we listened to this poem, and the silly short words we wrote, and then we went forth as a couple to hunt dragons. Little did we know the dragons were real, and breathed fire and almost burned down the toybox. But we continued on, always reaching out for that soft, stubby, love-worn hand in hopes it would still be there.

So far, so good.

'Let's look for dragons,' I said to Pooh.
'Yes, let's,' said Pooh to Me.
We crossed the river and found a few--
'Yes, these are dragons all right,' said Pooh.
'As soon as I saw their beaks I knew.
That's what they are,' said Pooh, said he.
'That's what they are,' said Pooh.


It's amazing how much can be encapsulated in a day. Here we thought on our wedding day, listening about a stuffed bear, that today would always be ours. (Ours and Princess Di & Prince Charles'. And Brad and Jennifer's. Auspicious, huh.) And four years later in a delivery room, we realized today would forever cease to be about us, just as our lives would cease to be about "us two" from this moment forward.

Ferdinand's day is today too, and he reminds us that it's not even "us three" (or five as the case may be), but Us here and there, those we can touch and those we grasp for in our mind's eye and in our dreams.

To say sharing this day with Ferdinand makes me more appreciative of the life today celebrates (the life which is currently screaming and throwing a ball around with her new lacrosse stick, jeebus watch that window) is a gross understatement: it makes me touch it, and hold it, and inhale it and her chlorine-scented hair, and find some small, quiet amount of thanks for that which I am blessed with.

Every snarled, dirty-faced, leave-socks-on-the-coffee-table, remind-she's-too-young-to-paint-her-fingernails inch of it.

Here's to remembering, and looking forward. Looking forwards and backwards, all at once, all in the same day.

So wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
'What would I do?' I said to Pooh,
'If it wasn't for you,' and Pooh said:
it isn't much fun for One, but Two
Can stick together,' says Pooh, says he.
'That's how it is,' says Pooh.


Happy Birthday, Ferdinand.

Happy Birthday, Bella.

Happy Anniversary, Us.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Dream Weaver

Recently I wondered why my bouts of indigestion and gas seem to be worse now that I'm no longer pregnant. I wondered this out loud, standing at the kitchen counter, while sucking down my lunch in 90 seconds next to a screaming baby. I then chugged an ice-cold glass of water. I further pondered my bloatedness while scarfing a hamburger on the one minute walk home from a neighborhood barbecue with a screaming baby in a sling. Hmm.


Had a dream last week where I was in the airport with the baby and my flight was delayed for something crazy like six hours. And I looked at the baby and said to myself, well, you're comfortable and cool here (we're going through a heatwave here on the east coast) and you're past security so I'm sure you'll be safe, so I'm going to leave a go home for a few. And I did. Without the baby.

Analysis and Interpretation: a) HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, because isn't that just so sensical and typical -- leaving the fussy kid to fend for himself in the international wing while mommy cools her heels in the quiet comfort of home with a martini? Funny stuff. b) ZOMFG, WHAT THE HELL? FOR SERIOUS, SUBCONSCIOUS? I remember while dreaming this that my sub-sub conscious was sorta uncomfy watching dream self mill about the house, but really what the fuck? As if I would purposefully leave my child behind somewhere! (Note purposefully. I know of many wonderful, sane, competent moms who have accidentally left stores and realized once in the parking lot that they came to said store with more than what they were leaving with. I haven't done this yet, for the record.) c) Ok, deep breaths, this isn't really about leaving my cherubic fusspot behind somewhere, is it. Oh no. Let's go Jungian, shall we, where everyone in the dream is really me and what the dream is trying to say on some level is that *I* feel abandoned. I feel abandoned? Because of the baby? Am I in some way abandoning myself on this journey? (Dum dum dum!) Is the baby to blame for this self-identity abandonment? What am I really trying to say about airport coffee?

Hey, at least the baby appeared in my dream! I took that as serious progress that I'm accepting that he's here.


Had a dream last night that we -- Me, Mr. ABF, Bella, and Baby -- were at Children's. And I couldn't figure out why, because both kids looked healthy. Something to do with Maddy? (In a footnote, Charlie Sheen wandered through this dream. I don't even like Charlie Sheen.) This was followed by a dream where after just putting down a happy infant, my mother came carrying him to me asking where the baby aspirin was because his temperature was 108.

This is more like it.


I was invited to a baby shower for one of the umpteen babies arrived/set to arrive in my neighborhood. Which is nice, not feeling like the neighborhood vampire at which pregnant people shake garlic in front of to ward off my cloud of evil and doom. But it's my first since Maddy and I must confess I find the whole thing so fucking weird.

My lovely neighbors just threw me a baby shower a few weeks ago and it was kinda awkward and kinda awesome and really overwhelming. All these women who were apparently dying (no pun intended) to bestow their good wishes and future funtime projections and take bets on size and birthdays and do silly things with toilet paper had to stifle their optimism while I pursed my lips and reminded everyone that there were no guarantees here. And like a geyser, emotions were released in a cloud of adorable onesies, homemade burp cloths, and beautiful books (many of my neighbors are graphic design people which I discovered makes for an incredibly tasteful and beautiful shower).

But to acknowledge something that's not done yet? Oddly, I'm able to see positive outcomes for other people, just not myself. While still pregnant I got news that a family member was expecting this fall, and I immediately could see their wonderful outcome, but still not my own.

Putting me in the situation, however, to congratulate and celebrate something still undone is really anathema to me. It's like throwing a victory parade while the game is in the 5th inning; awarding the prize money before the experiment is run. The horse isn't out of the gate, and here we're hanging the wreath of roses. You get the point.

I don't count chickens. I'm very squeamy about attending and pasting on a smile and handing out a bag of our favorite baby goodies. Because . . .

well, I won't go there. I know the if. I know what happens. I'm not into bad mojo or jinxing or hexing and lordy, if this bunch was they certainly wouldn't have invited me. And yet I'm just so uneasy. What's an appropriate gift from the hesitant and realistic pessimist?


We've settled into a rhythm, which involves a fair amount of nighttime sleep for me so I'm not complaining! Just stating! And a whole ton of up time in the day, which over the course of the day devolves as someone gets more and more tired and refuses to nap for more than 20 minutes at a time. Until he's purple with tears, or maybe it's me who's purple, and then we take a bath which he just loves and settles down, and we eat and read with big sister and fall asleep and do it all over again. But it means for much of the day, he-who-shall-not-be-put-down-or-away-from-paternal-contact is in our arms or in a sling and while this enables us to have some mobility, it does not allow for much. And when the heat index is 100 and you have a little heater pasted to your front and hormones raging through your body? It does not feel so very nice come 5 p.m. We have eaten cold cereal as a dinnertime main course.

But we do it, and I can make him giggle now, and he's got a double chin and knee folds, and hey -- he's here.

You know what's weird, I realized while emailing back and forth with Angie, is that I don't use his name much. And I'd like to blame the blog (damn you for making me anonymous! And suspicious! And paranoid!) but geez, I've only posted a handful of times so I really don't think that's it. No, I think it's something else. I love his name, I love hearing other people use it and the plethora of nicknames that break from it, but I don't use it much. When I write or talk I tend to stick with "baby," or the universal "Him/He," and when I'm talking to him directly I find myself splurting out something a bit stupid like "Muffin Man" or similar.

I'm thinking this is all part of the accepting process. You know how most normal people get excited when they're pregnant? And they start planning and thinking and anticipating so when the baby actual arrives they're already kinda in full swing with those emotions? And part of this is rolling baby names off the tongue, and maybe sheepishly out-loud when you're home alone, just to get a feel for them? It's like I'm in the first trimester here, just sorta feeling my way around the general idea. Like he's here, but not really, and hey -- wouldn't that be a great name?


I was on a run yesterday . . . wait, back up: Kids, I'm Running! Have been, actually. This time around I'm being overly cautious and ramping up incrementally slowly using interval training so as not to blow out my foot again. So far, so good.

So anyway, running. Or wishing I could. I actually feel like I'm in good shape -- I ran through about 32w until I had to move to the elliptical and kept that up through about 36w -- but I put the Maserati in 1st gear and just take my time because I don't want a repeat of therapy and cortisone. Yesterday was just a delicious day, with a morning in the 60s. I had my tunes plugged in and my running app keeping count of my intervals. I was humming along to whomever . . . Cake? The Killers?, feeling pretty fucking happy about my weight loss and the cute red-headed dude waiting for me at home, and


The grief cloud hit with a sudden rage, and within a second I was brushing off tears.

I was happy. And I was sad. I was sad because I was happy. How fucked is that.

I'm not a "I feel guilty because I feel happy and I should feel sad" or "Happiness means I'm forgetting Maddy" person; no, I'm much more of a "Well it's about fucking time I feel happy" person, but I think what got me was the odd sense of deja vu.

Because I was right here, right here on this square of sidewalk, before. With my tunes in, and the sun shining, trying to shed some baby weight.

And it was so unbelievably, cosmically different. Like Freak Deja Vu, where it's the exact same except everything that was scorching blinding white is now filled in with cool black lines. Everything upside down to the point it made me nauseous, is now right-side up. The Poseidon Adventure, except now standing on your head so in some peculiar way it makes sense. All the songs that made me sob are replaced with tunes that make me run faster. The running wasn't desperate. The sidewalk doesn't lead to a gaping empty hole, it takes me back to where I want to be.

It's upsetting, for some reason. I suppose because all stories should be like this, not like that. And because it's not a peculiar otherworldly sense I'm picking up on, some eerie rustle through the trees. Uh uh. It happened. It's still there, scarred into my brain, and a faint ache in my foot.

And she'll never be there when I come home in need of a shower.

One big huge slurpy sniff at the traffic light, and it was past. The thundercloud moved on.

It sill always be like this, won't it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

More (Extremely) Random Thoughts

I've come to rely heavily on the effectiveness of breath mints.


Bella is, for the most part, doing ok with all of this. We have some extremely typical behavior: when people come over to see the baby (or hell, to drop off the mail or fix the gutter) she all but pulls out a microphone, cues the spotlight, and starts crooning "Don't You . . . Forget About Me." She started talking in baby talk. Which was at first, was so completely psychologically appropriate as to be hilarious; then it was annoying; and now it's downright rude and unbearable. We had a talk last week after she started in with her violin teacher using high pitched monosyllables. We've had a few more outbursts than usual, a few more efforts to stall moments when she has our attention. These are, however, interspersed with excitement and interest and outright love for her brother. She loves holding him (and is very good (anal?) about making sure you have his head steady before she lets go). She's helped with diaper changes. She kisses him on the head at bedtime. She is desperate for him to start talking ("I'm pretty sure he just said 'Yeah'!") She's starting to take it in stride when we read the comics at breakfast or I read her book at bedtime with a baby attached to my breast. She's taken to calling him by a nickname I was aware of but didn't think we'd use and it's just so effin' cute that I've caught myself saying it too.

We're all getting used to the new being.

This is, frankly, the area where I feel the least amount of good. I miss my unscripted Bella time. She is presently sporting a wide gap where her two top teeth used to be, and when she puts in ponytails and dons her t-ball outfit it's all I can do not to eat her up. I haven't taken nearly enough pictures of her in this place, and her adult teeth are already punching through. I try -- but sadly, some of my limited one-on-one time comes at bad opportunities. Like violin practice, which may in fact be a victim of this whole little brother experiment. We practiced juggling a soccer ball yesterday while I held a milk-drunk infant (it can be done!). And I tell her as often as I can, for my sake as much as hers, that it won't always be like this. Yes, now there will always be another family member to coordinate around, but he won't always be glued to my breast, my patience won't always be so thin, I won't always be such a tired bitch. I don't want this point to be the nascent beginnings of that mommy/daughter conflict that runs through history. I tell her as often as I can that I love her. I spend as much alone time as I can afford with her, even it means giving up my shower (or worse, taking my unshowered self to pick her up at school or take her to ballet).

And I realize, I felt all this before, but couldn't articulate it, couldn't bear to let the words leave my lips lest I burst into tears (again), and she most likely wouldn't have understood anyway. We weathered a massive maternal distraction before, and by gum, we'll do it again.


Dude, I LURVE having the new baby around, why do you ask?


I am not fond of this stage. And let me say up front, I also don't believe that infertility or a deadbaby precludes one from complaining a bit about how hard live babies can be. I believe you need to vent that steam valve, people, or else the guilt and the hang-ups just build until you're one weirded-out mama. Motherhood is complicated, what with the cute and torturous sleep-dep, the cuddling and the stench of 72 hours sans shower, the first smiles and the shrug when he cries because you really just need to go the bathroom. NOW. Yes, you can be grateful and happy and at the end of your rope and fucking bitchy all at once! Come, let me show you!

My point was . . . oh right. This stage is not my favorite. So. Going through old clothes, I saw that someone had bought Bella a onesie that said something to the effect of "If they could just stay little." No. Just, no. I like my kids walking, talking, and using the toilet. Dressing themselves is also a big bonus. I gave the onesie and a diaper to Bella so she could practice dressing her bear.

The fussiness reached fever peak last week with a long scream session and I was convinced that we were dealing with reflux and decided right then and there to chuck dairy. Which is taking a few days to thoroughly wean from my diet (and I guess takes a week for my system to axe anyway) and yet boom, everything normalized within 12 hours and baby is fine (going on day four of fine), showing moments of happiness during awake time even. I was actually able to get a picture of him smiling, and not from gas. So now I'm thinking probably not the dairy, but I'm going to go ahead and ditch it anyway and slowly intro back in just to see if it helps. He's also that mystery age where "colic" (boy, that's a loose term if ever there was) begins to dissipate. Who the fuck knows. Babies cry.

Having said that, he still refuses to be put down to go to sleep and ergo is spending inordinate amounts of time in the carseat (the preferred hands-free place of recline), the front facing sling, and on my chest. And before you start the chants of "Swaddle!" I just re-read an email I sent to someone my second night in the hospital where I pointed out that even in his super-industrial hospital swaddle enforced with duct tape that he began to fuss and cry the millisecond someone set him down horizontally in his bassinet. I'm thinking he's just a fusspot who likes his parental contact.

Which means I could be in serious trouble here.


I must have been HIGH (HIGH!) to think I could've dealt with an infant and a 2.5 year-old. (HIGH!) That age gap (two and a half) was not really my preferred choice, but Bella was so late in coming (two years) that I figured we'd better start in with the second before my already slow-to-eject eggs became scrambled. Mr. ABF wasn't a huge fan of the close age gap either; he and his brother never really clicked (and woo boy, look at 'em now) and I remember some testy conversations about making sure the kids got their space and weren't forced to do activities together and share friends and whatnot.

And look how that turned out.

So now we're dealing with a 5.5 year gap and it's STILL really hard, but ohmygod, how nice that she can get ready for school by herself, and feed herself, and brush her own teeth, and GO TO SCHOOL and leave me with a few hours to deal with Mr. Fussybritches. It's a dream to know she can get in/out of her carseat without help. She can get her own drink at dinnertime, help set the table (albeit with a sidetrack of whine), and help water the garden, and what was I thinking that I could've done this when she was a toddler? A toddler who still couldn't use the toilet and didn't go to school? A toddler who DIDN'T NAP?!

I shudder. I realize that part of my zen about this era of sleeplessness is that I've been through it before and know it will end, but also that I can often deal with baby one-on-one. And I feel . . . well, not sure how I feel. I'm not big into counterfactual history and sitting around wondering what would have happened if the South had won or JFK survived, so I'm also not big on wondering what would have happened had a terminally ill child somehow been born healthy or otherwise have lived. It didn't happen that way. It happened this way. So I guess I go forward, thankful for the small things time has afforded me.

I wish it afforded me a shower more often, though.


Mr. ABF pointed out that there are two types of congratulations; there are the ones from people who know the backstory, which are met with exhales and smiles when I proclaim myself to be "tired yet relieved." And there are those where we simply say "thank you," and the other person has absolutely no idea what mental gymnastics we went through to get here. To them we are simply another couple who had another baby which is obviously the most normal routine thing in the universe.

I have been invited to join a new and soon-to-be parents group on the street in back of my house seeing as come fall there will be six new babies including my own. While I rejoice in the ease of future playgroups and playdates, I admit to being a bit nauseated when faced with the prospect of frequent brunches with a group of parents -- some who know, some who don't -- who want to chat baby exclusively.

Truth is, I'm still really squeamy about babies even though I have one.

I'm not sure what it is -- like I said above, I don't deny parents the right to bitch and moan a bit about sleeplessness or their birth experience or the pros/cons of cloth diapers, regardless of their live/dead baby ratio. I can't really go through life with the mindset that I will only ever be comfortable around other parents who've experienced similar -- hell I've already become great friends with parents who haven't, and I'm not going to deny my child friendships because I've got a hang-up. Maybe it's a bit that I don't want to rain on the parade, maybe it's the whole optimism of new life that I can't relate to.

Maybe it's that they're firmly here, on this side, able to move forward through the maze of first-year issues while I'm still getting banged on the head with a frying pan of reality: it worked. He made it. He's here. I'm not here yet, but he is. Breathe. Just breathe.

I also think it's the tricky ability to see the future. I have no idea how a pregnant woman can join this group (and a few have). I have no idea how you now look at an infant and think, "He could be drafted by the Phillies someday!" when I'm reluctant to buy clothes for him six months in advance. I think I'm ok with older kids, it's the babies. Babies don't do much, and they certainly don't reciprocate the love and attention dished upon them; parents instead do this themselves by projecting into that future where the baby smiles when s/he sees you, and hugs you, and presents you with hand-drawn artwork, and signs a major league contract. I'm having trouble projecting, I'm very firmly in the now having only just committed myself to coaching soccer again this fall -- the most forward planning thing I've done in over three years.

I'm having to drag myself kicking and screaming to this side. It's not that I don't want to be here, I just can't possibly think it will turn out ok. I got burned last time, and I've learned not to touch the hot pot. It's hard to deaden the nerves and go ahead and pick it up and splatter soup on the walls while laughing and screaming, "Who gives a Fart!"

Not there yet. But he is.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Voices Carry

I know my voice has changed over the years somewhat. And yet I feel as though the foundation of my voice is still visible, and it's what's getting me through the roughest patch of my life.

I have a post up today at Glow In the Woods.

It's a few days late. Sue me.

(And for Pete's sake, INDOOR VOICE, please!)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

(Extremely) Random Thoughts

(mostly typed with one hand)

(over the space of about three weeks)

I only just called Children's to let them know. Part of this was because I was tired and busy, part because I didn't want to jinx anything by calling with good news -- and then have to call back the next day with a problem. I waited over a week, and through the second pediatric appointment.


Last week, at some point in a 45-90 minute stretch of heavy sleep, I had a dream that Bella was obnoxiously and very purposefully keeping me up at night. He's here, and he's still not in my dreams.


File under signs that my IRL personality is not so different from blog voice -- in case you were wondering:

(Midwife waves off anesthisiologist who apparently poked his head in the room too late to do anything, and says to no-one in particular but looking in the direction of my husband, "It's too late.")

Mr. ABF: YOU tell her.

(At some point following my involuntarily unmedicated labor and delivery)

Mr. ABF: I'm so proud of you . . . you didn't swear out a single person! You didn't even drop an F-bomb! I can't believe you made it through that without profanity. There is no way I could've done that without dropping an F-bomb.


Why yes, he does nap fairly consistently every day at 10:00 a.m. Whaddaya know.


My neighbors were overwhelmingly amazing after Maddy died, I think especially since we had only lived here six months. And so it is extremely satisfying to see just how happy they are for us now. The woman who brought us chicken dinners and dedicated a church service to Maddy, last week brought us dinner and begged me to now let her throw us a party. Another neighbor who wasn't here during the Maddy debacle but knows the whole mess, took a pajama-clad Bella at 6:00 a.m. last Monday brought me chocolate and visited me in the hospital (and then followed up with a dinner as well). The UPS man set down packages yesterday to hug Mr. ABF . . . twice. My fridge is full, there are homemade muffins by the coffee pot, but coming from people who not only provided for us once before but put up with my emotional distance then and for the last nine months . . . well, it's just all-consuming how lovely this place is. It takes a village, and I live in one of the best.


I wondered if I would be a hypochondriac and to some degree I suppose I am; we're far more nervous about his swaddle encroaching on his mouth, and we both randomly wake and check him -- I caught Mr. ABF holding an iPhone for light over him the other night, just checking. And yet . . . perhaps after a healthy baby and a NICU stint gone to hell, we've seen it all. I caught myself the other day quickly strolling through the kitchen to let the dog in the back door with a six day old infant on my breast. Last night he suffered his first two hour crying jag and we both reminisced about Bella's first where we were sent into a full-blown panic. Last night we simply turned up the sound on the movie and took turns walking around so the other wouldn't get too tired. It passed, I'm sure it was gas.


And yet. I was ordering summertime PJ's for Bella on an online sale, and promptly added a hoodie for the little guy a size or two up so it will be good for Fall. And I was flooded with that forboding, what if . . . should I really do this? Plan ahead like this? Jeebus, here I am introducing him to all these people, what if something happens . . . My finger hovered above the "Put In Cart!" button, as if it was Death himself standing there with his scythe proclaiming judgment right next to the "You Might Also Like" pictures of little swimsuits and sunhats.

No, not over it yet. It will be a while.


I think I got breast milk on my iPhone.


Mr. ABF wondered the other day if he, this little screaming creature (we got us a fussy one), changed how I thought about Maddy. That is to say, are the two children under our roof now the 3:4 roulette winners? Or was Maddy just doomed by something else shitty from the get-go? This guy's pregnancy tracked almost in every way with Bella's, which is to say: Normal. Maddy's was a trauma from the get go, with me bleeding out thinking I had miscarried about one week in. It went south from there. This healthy boy has been added to the file at Children's, no doubt a cute little male symbol extending downward from the symbols that represent us, right next to the female symbol with the line through it. He has been recorded on her tree, Children's will continue to look into it if opportunities present themselves, and we? Will likely never know.


Sitting outside on a warm spring afternoon, Mr. ABF had just finished mowing the grass -- it smelled like early summer, and our house looked divine surrounded by late-blooming iris and dark purple veronica and the new shoots of lavender and the seedlings that finally got placed in the planter beds last week. The neighbor's drive was filled with contractors (new kitchen), cars puttered down the street, the dog went ape-shit over a squirrel.

It was perfect.

But it wasn't.

It was as if I had entered a time-warp -- this was the scene I dreamed of three years ago, new to my neighborhood but already loving the surroundings, sitting outside with a baby on my chest. It finally happened! The time was here!

But oh, what a cost.

I wonder if one could accordion those three years, not just the horror and grief and ashes in a box and depression and heartbreak, but the loss of hope and expectations, the year I zombie-walked through Bella's life, the destruction of relationships red-flagged by the people who have not contacted us, nor us them. Is it possible to fold this up, and imagine a smooth time line leading me here? Unlikely. I'll have to take what I can get.


I owe you pictures, and I'm frequently too wasted to get them and then transfer them from camera to computer. We've been doing a lot of phone pictures, which I suppose is the degradation that befalls the subsequent child along with hand-me-downs and a casual attitude toward just about everything baby. Also? This child is a fuss-pot: His channels are: Sleep, eat, and cry. (Thank goodness for Bella, because most mornings I look at her eating breakfast at the counter after having dressed herself and think, well it won't always be like this. Except for yesterday morning when she pitched a fit because I made her use the toilet before heading off to T-ball. "I always have to do EVERYTHING!" she scream-cried. Phases people, phases.) Ergo, I haven't been terrific about pictures, and especially pictures when his eyes are open and he's not asking to be picked up and held by someone who directly contributed to his DNA. But here's a nice eyes closed one (he is alive, trust me on this) that we've been using to figure out who he looks like, exactly.

We've decided he looks like Harold, you know, of the Purple Crayon.

I also still owe you a name. Which isn't so much me being squeamish over internet privacy, but me being squeamish about certain relatives wondering if we've hidden a cache of pictures somewhere online without telling them and entering my children's names into google and winding up here in the land of cynicism and bitch-slapping. I am still pondering. I will tell you that it is Italian, and lovely.

Friday, May 7, 2010


You'd think the picture in my head that I'd take away from all of this would be one of the classics: Baby swadled and lying sweetly (and may I just say I'm now a bit weirded out by pictures of live babies with their eyes closed. They look dead. And this has nothing to do squeamishness over looking at deceased children -- I just now assume any baby with closed eyes is dead. I recently looked at a bunch of Bella's infant photos and got a little unsettled); baby being placed on my stomach after delivery; mom holding baby in delivery room while midwife looks on proudly.

Instead the image that resonates in my head is passing through the hospital's revolving door into a bright, warm day with a baby in my arms. I didn't leave anyone behind. This time, we escaped.


Early Monday morning, on the way to the hospital in a torrential thundershower, I told Mr. ABF I was glad I was in labor and wouldn't be induced. Turns out I had been a bit nervous about birth -- not the actual activity thereof, but the deja vu element. The whole waking up and calling the hospital early to check the induction schedule, saying goodbye to Bella, the anticipation of the first contractions, the probable wait through stages where my anxiety about the outcome could only increase. Instead, here I was timing contractions that had only just dropped from 20 to 15 minutes about two hours after a small leak of water.

Except they weren't. Turns out they were four to five minutes apart, but my body -- so used to giving birth by now -- wasn't even registering the tremors between the earthquakes. Until I got there, and perhaps psychosomatically after being told, they began to ramp up in speed, quantity, and intensity.

And suddenly . . . well, suddenly. It was as if a bizarre dream I had lingered over for nine months quickly morphed into a nightmare complete with dark skies and buckets from the heavens. Everything went so fast, there was nothing left but panic and sheer terror -- and honestly, for a number of moments, enough to distract me from what lay ahead. There was enough fear in the present tense to keep me well occupied from anxiety over the near future.

And maybe that's a good thing, that his entrance was so rushed, that nine months of anticipation boiled down to a horrific space of what turned out to be less than an hour. Suddenly, the nightmare stopped and the silence was punctuated by a baby's cry.

He was immediately plopped on my chest and under the small weight I did not feel love, or joy. I did not cry. I did however let go the mightiest exhale of unadulterated relief, for present and future and all the spaces in between.


I've been having a tough go of getting the concept of time back under my feet this week. He was born 37w6d, a week and a day in advance of his planned induction, and two weeks ahead of his due date. I thought this week would be spent throwing things into the garden, making one last grocery run, and doing one last load of laundry.

I've been living a fair amount on Maddy time. Even right after delivery, there came a point when Mr. ABF and I looked at each other, looked at the clock, and said, by this point they knew something was wrong, that she would not be rooming with me. And here he was, still in our arms breathing room air, not yet taken away for his obligatory testing. It wasn't until Monday night when I decided to turn on "24" to keep me awake and occupied for half and hour until I knew someone was coming to run a few more tests that it hit me -- Maddy was also born on a Monday, and that Monday night I also turned on "24" in my hospital room for a distraction. We've done a walk through the week: Wednesday, the morning of Maddy's heart failure, I was this time instead discharged into a beautiful spring day. Today, I ambled around the yard with the baby in my arms, inspecting the iris that bloomed this week and contemplating how it was today, Friday, that Maddy was bundled up into her tin-foil microwave and transfered to Children's. Undoubtedly my checks on his breathing and temperature will only increase as we approach Sunday.


The senior pediatrician came to give him one last check early Wednesday morning as she does with all the babies, and after reviewing his file asked about Maddy -- specifically, she used the term "etiology." I launched into the clinical story, stripped of emotion and full of medical terminology, for what seemed the thousandth time in just the hospital stay alone (nothing like a dead baby in your records to launch the "10 signs of depression" checklist discussion) and suddenly, in the middle of the spiel, grew weary.

I was finished with this. Not with Maddy mind you, but with this part of her. The medical is really her identity and though I'm happy to discuss it, I feel as though I've done nothing but for nine-plus months. And right now, what I want is to simply think of her as my daughter. I want to revel in her beauty, her strength, her promise. I wanted in that moment, talking with that doctor, to simply go home and study her pictures to see if her brother had her nose. If their hair was the same color. If what I remembered about their chins was indeed the same.

I want right now to bathe in all that is lovely and ugly, joyful and sorrowful, of being a mother to three.



We do have a name for the little guy and I'm trying to decide if I want to nickname him obviously or not so very on the blog. We are home, he is under my roof and this morning after eyeballing Bella as she left for school, we went to inspect Maddy's lilac -- which needs deadheaded this week.

Monday, April 26, 2010


From Wikipedia:

Schrödinger's cat is a thought experiment, often described as a paradox, devised by Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger in 1935. It illustrates what he saw as the problem of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics applied to everyday objects. The thought experiment presents a cat that might be alive or dead, depending on an earlier random event. In the course of developing this experiment, he coined the term Verschränkung — literally, entanglement.

Schrödinger's Cat: A cat, along with a flask containing a poison and a radioactive source, is placed in a sealed box shielded against environmentally induced quantum decoherence. If an internal Geiger counter detects radiation, the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when we look in the box, we see the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead.

Back in High School, my boyfriend's cat had kittens and being the bleeding-heart animal people that we were, my family took one of them in. We named him Schrodinger. Which people in-the-know (quite a few, given my dad's job) thought was absolutely hilarious, and people who didn't probably figured it was a high-falutin literary reference or a little-known German composer. Schrodinger was big, fat, long-haired, entirely black, and very sweet but with chronic medical conditions involving his bladder and kidneys. Which often led us to perhaps wish he would undergo some demise in a box, just not by our accord. He survived a heart attack during an attempt to put him under for a medical procedure, and the decision was made to simply make him comfortable until he finally couldn't get up any more to go check out the birds in the yard. At which point my mom (I had long since moved out) determined it was time. Strangely, as much angst as this cat had given us, we were all quite sad at his passing.

Little did I know the significance of this theorem in my life.

I now see my womb as the box, the baby (Maddy or current resident or any baby for that matter) as the cat, with a random occurrence standing between the baby being alive or dead, none to know until it is removed. Of course the fun of the theorem is that you don't open the box, which turns a quantum mechanics principle into a philosophical one to some degree. Because while the box is closed, things can be either -- they can be both. But this box will be opened, the truth will out, and the world shall see the results.

I should name this child Schrodinger.


I just got back from grocery shopping and I noticed putting a few things away that they had expiration dates beyond when this baby will be born. Which is just a really odd thing. I'm staring at a yogurt container as though it was an oracle: You must know something. You will still be here! Tell me what happens, yogurt!

But it's that odd sensation that so many of us got after the ugly: time stops for us, but continues on for everyone else, including my yogurt. Except now I can see it coming -- the seedlings that have sprouted will be put in the garden. Bella will attend a few summer camps, which will be good for her regardless. My house that I'm not preparing will look exactly the same. People who have offered to help will do so regardless of outcome, and they will still go to work and school and pick up kids and eat dinner per usual. Sure, if things go well I'm expecting a few "Well Finally!" Happy-Mongerers to jump out of the woodwork, but let's face it -- there are a good handful whom we've lost over the past three years that will remain silent, no matter what. The dogs will still need walked, the grass will still need mown, dinner will still need made. This yogurt will, according the stamp, still be good.

It dawned on me last night reading to Bella that unless I expire during this process too, I will be exactly where I am now in a few Sunday evenings. A few weeks from now, I will be right here, reading a story to her, or listening to her read one to me. Her room will be lighter thanks to the arrival of summer, but everything will be in it's place -- the fishtank, the bookshelf, the bed, the rug, the curtains . . . and what will we be like, us two?

It's what happens to us internally, that which will change us permanently -- again -- that makes me cringe. And I hate that something out there might know something that I do not. I'm tired of waiting. I want to know. But I fear opening the box -- because while the box is closed, things are alive and dead and I've grown quite comfortable with that 50/50 proposition. Entanglement has become my raison d'etre, and it suits me fine. For perhaps the first time in this pregnancy, I'm a bit afraid and am longing to be one of those things that will remain unaltered in the upcoming weeks. Oh, to be someone else, or a bookshelf, or a towel, or a container of yogurt.

Oh, to not have to open the box.


Last week I was in the enormous store -- you know the one where you buy things by the metric ton? -- in large part because they always have nice (read: appropriate for actually swimming in) girls' swimsuits at ridiculously low prices. And there as I trotted down the kid's clothing aisle, was a table spread thick with Nice-Swedish brand-name organic baby sleepers for about 60-70% off what I know they retail for. Any other normal nine-month pregnant woman would undoubtedly pick one of each pattern and throw them into her cart. I would count well within the bounds of normalcy making scary claw gestures and cat noises at anyone who dared venture close to the table while she sorted through sizes. I held up a tiny 0-6m sleeper covered with animals and stared blankly at it, unable to fathom what could possibly go into that thing. I set it down, and walked away.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sometimes, It's Time

The lovely and enormously talented Kate is stepping down (back?) from Glow In the Woods. SweetSalty Kate had a big-hearted vision to start that site, and did an unbelievable amount of background work to get it off the ground, keep it running, and keep it running smoothly. She's kept the hecklers at bay, and the love pouring forth. And sometimes, you need to respond to the inner voice that says, "It's time to put the snakes in braids and view this get-together from the outside looking in, because the walls aren't comforting anymore." And I get that completely.

She also brought me on board in the original group of writers, and for that I'm forever grateful. Glow has been a lifeline-turned-confidence builder for me, in the writing and the reading and the commenting.

Please say goodbye to her over there, and make sure to keep reading her when she writes in her other space. Oh, and we now need a new writer or two at Glow. If you or someone you know is interested, please check out the submission details over there. We have a few ideas, but we'd love to hear yours.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How Not to Expect When You're Expecting

I can't tell you just how fucking liberating it is not to worry about being prepared for a baby. The annoying question de jour is "Are you ready?" and I shrug my shoulders -- I mean, I'll never be ready for delivering a baby that may or may not live, right? Who's ready for THAT? What exactly can you do to prepare? Put a casserole in the freezer? I suppose that covers you either way.

Oh right, I suppose there is one thing: I've called Children's back because my OB would like a 24/7 contact number in my file because he kinda made a funny face when I suggested that Hospital-Next-Door-NICU would promptly move a sick kid over. I think his underlying motivation was actually sparing Mr. ABF and me from rummaging through our wallets and cell-phone caller id's (in a sea of exhaustion after delivering said baby) to find names and corresponding numbers which -- Nice. Thank you. So I now have emergency contact information to load up into my file regarding how to get all the peculiar specialty fellows who are on call in the middle of the night. What, that's not in your birth plan?

This has left April free for doing what should be done in April: Finding summer camps for Bella. Oh, and we hosted a big neighborhood fundraiser last week which was an enormous time-suck but really tons of fun. And getting Max to rehab -- jeez, talk about one step forward three back. Every time I think he's looking great he wipes out on the hardwood or bolts off leash and pulls up gimpy for a day. And getting indoor seeds sowed and monitored for garden planting. All of which is super crazy when you're planning around two NST's and one OB appointment per week.

But in terms of the other stuff? The stuff that people think you should be doing? I'm ready, completely. Hell I was ready last September. Which is to say, I've done absolutely nothing and nor will I. I like to think of it as Un-nesting.

Here's a game I like to play: You know the whole "In Bed" add-on funtime feature for fortune cookies? When someone delivers a typical pregnancy declaration, I always add on "If He Lives." Usually in my head, but sometimes it slips. For example:

May is such a nice time to have a baby! If He Lives.

Haha, boy you'd better get ready for not sleeping for two years! If He Lives.

Bella must be over the moon. If He Lives.

Gosh, you guys must be going crazy trying to get everything done. We will. If He Lives.

Wow, summer is going to be nuts! If He Lives. Wait a minute . . . . .


Ok, to say I've done nothing is a wee stretch of the truth. I have ordered precisely one thing: A "Carry On My Wayward Son" sling from C's old outfit. I figured at the very least it's a great donation to a wonderful cause in memory of someone I care deeply about. And if the sling goes to an anonymous mom at a shelter here in town, well, so be it -- that's not such a terrible thing in the big karma wheel.

I've also organized precisely one thing. An online DBM who I'll keep anonymous for the moment in the event that she doesn't want people to know (if she'd like to out herself in the comments, that's fine -- or if she's ok I'll out her in a future post) sent me "a few things" that she had purchased for her son who never wore them. She said she'd like me to have them, and I was so humbled and honored and touched I really couldn't say no even though the whole thought of fingering baby clothes kinda gave me the willies.

I was expecting a few things in a padded envelope and received an enormous box with a wardrobe for a boy through about age two. It was so wonderful and heartbreaking to see all of these tiny clothes with the tags still on them. It was also really the only way I could receive baby clothes into my home. I wouldn't dare buy anything myself, and I think getting clothes from people who haven't been through the same would set me on edge. (I could see myself waving a onesie at some poor, unassuming person screaming, "What the fuck are you thinking?!") This for some reason seemed right. Or as right as it can be, touching soft clothing covered with puppies that were never worn by the intended. I like to think I'm remembering this baby because certainly if I have something live to put in them, I won't need reminded of my own. And I think that's lovely.

Bella and I went down to the basement and pulled up the bins with her things through the same era (for some reason I didn't have a downstream for hand-me-downs at that point) and we sorted everything by size and then by gender neutrality. Since we didn't know what Bella would be, there's a fair amount a boy can wear. I bought only a few things for Maddy, and I'm pretty sure I crammed them into a box of clothes a friend had loaned me when I sent them back seeing as she was now pregnant. I really only recognized two things that were expressly bought for her.

We repacked everything back into the bins including the lovely new boy's clothes; donated the girl's clothing; saved a few nice Bella items for some baby girls who might enjoy them; labeled everything; and then stashed the bins away again.

We'll pull them out next month If He Lives.

If not, all clothes, bins and all, will take a trip in the truck to the shelter.

I suppose that's something, but honestly that's where I'm stopping. There will be no painting, no changing table set up, no car seat purchase or even diapers. I plan on just going full-tilt boogie until delivery and dealing with the consequences afterwards.


And the ultimate date of those consequences just got very tangible: At yesterday's OB appointment, I had a lovely midwife whom I've seen a few times before. She's now familiar with my past and my way of talking about it and like my high-risk guy, I appreciate her ability to balance affability and kindness without blowing sunshine and roses up my rear. She saw in my chart that a doc had marked "Patient will Not Go Beyond Due Date." And she gently segued into how I feel about induction (like all things birth now I could care less if they deliver this child through my left nostril), and then said look: why don't we pick a date the week before your due date? That way you'll know, we'll get it scheduled to make sure you're on the books, and you can even maybe pick your doctor. I asked when she was on (strangely, my High Risk guy doesn't deliver I found out recently; I guess he's all about the getting-you-there danger, and then hands off the ball. Which seems very modest to me), and it turns out she is with another hot-doc from the practice during the penultimate week. We put it in the computer.

Obviously this is one of those deals where I call in the morning to make sure they're not slammed and have room so it could drift a day or two, but we have a birthday. After trying to forget my due date (fairly successfully I might add) this one is much harder to blank out. I've told a few people and am equally relieved and nauseated, so I think I'll wait to set it down in print here. So you're going to have to wait. Mid May. Maybe a bit early-Mid-May.


Baby's been cooperating with my attempts to change his schedule and I've been trying to ramp down what it is that wakes him up. Sugar does nothing apparently. And before you roll your eyes and assume that I'm some donut-eating-juice-swishing-fructose inhaler for whom a handful of chocolate-chip-studded trail mix and a frappucino has zero effect, I really don't have much sugar in my diet nor have I since Bella. If anything, I'm especially careful during pregnancies. So much so that an OJ and a banana should be like an electric shock to both of our systems and keep us humming for 36 hours, but not so much. Caffeine seems to do the trick, and although my high-risk guy gave me permission to drink a cup a day, I admit to doing a fair amount of half-caf and de-caf and even milking that down into au lait's which are barely brown. The first time I went to an NST after "my usual," the baby napped per usual. So I'm now trying to scale up the caffeine a bit on NST mornings but not so much his poor heart goes off like a racehorse.

This is my life.

In the fluid check yesterday he was sucking his thumb, and you could see his lips and cheeks moving and my head immediately filled with the Maggie Simpson sound-track. And I forbade my brain from taking the next step, which was . . . certainly a baby with a fried neurological system wouldn't be sucking his thumb, would he?

If He Lives. If He Lives.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Oh Boy

After Stress Test #1 Fail, I decided to go prepared to Test #2: a half-caf loaded with ice, milk, and a ton of enda-Splay. Normally just one of these things (something caf, something cold, something sweet) gets him going but I wasn't taking chances. And the poor kid's heartrate went off like a racehorse and they made me move on my side. But we did pass within 20 minutes, so, um, yay? Oh and also? It was 9 a.m. This is important. So yesterday, Test #3, I tried the middle ground: decaf iced tea with sweetner. On the way down in the car he was gyrating and kicking so much I had to grip the steering wheel and focus. We got there, got settled in the comfy chair, and . . . out. Naptime. 10 a.m. is naptime. It has been historically since I've been feeling movement, and I'm guessing it's because 10 a.m. is usually my most active time of the day and normally not paying attention so he zips out. He wakes up around lunch, and goes pretty much nonstop until I fall asleep. A few kicks and turns in the a.m., and then out for the pre-luncheon siesta. Sadly, every goddamn NST I have scheduled is at 10 a.m. and we can't reschedule unless I'm interested in July.

We are screwed.

Anyway, we failed again (though not as badly, I got him to kick a few times at the end) and were sent to the biophysical u/s where we also sat around and poked and waited until he felt like moving.

Lo and behold, Dr. Hotshit was reading the NST results, and we had a nice little chat in the hallway. She told me even though I didn't likely buy it, what she saw today was passing, normal, fine. We went over his overall movement, how he compares to Bella in the "moves most of the time" department, except more uncomfortable. (Monday night watching basketball half asleep, it felt someone was rearranging my organs ("This would look much better over HERE,") and occasionally giving my lower rib a swift chop. I kept wincing and repeating "Movement is good. Movement is good.") She said schedules were good things, and he's clearly on one as evidenced by last Tuesday. She concluded that this last bit of the pregnancy was going to be the most stressful and was very sympathetic to my angst.

At which point the baby shifted his ass from my right side to my left while kicking a leg up and she saw the whole thing through my t-shirt and said, "See! He's moving now!"

I told Mr. ABF my concern is that subconsciously perhaps I want this child so much that I'm making this shit up. Is that even possible? I feel my rational self is overly -concerned with movement, but maybe the wee voice in my head is telling me everything is fine when it's not? Maybe these are contractions, not movements? (As if that appendage sticking out a good 1.5" from my side the other night was a contraction; and the NST's show absolutely nothing in that department). I guess what I want is a health professional to confirm and validate the extraordinary kick-boxing routine that happens daily.

Fuck the middle ground, big guy: Friday I'm freebasing coffee grounds and popping easter candy in the car on the way down. You're gonna hafta deal.


At a therapy appointment within a month or two of Maddy dying, I remember walking through my progression of rationalization regarding no more kids. I would have another, but I would be bereft if I didn't have a girl. If I had a girl, I don't know what I'd name her, because I felt like the best names were gone. And bam, lightbulb, what I really want is Maddy back, not another baby.

I felt that way for quite some time.

When we finally decided to give this one more go, I was rather torn as to what I wanted. On the one hand, prior to Maddy, I think I always wanted a boy. Stranger boy babies roaming around public spaces used to just jump into my heart and rend it into a thousand shreds; girls never. They did nothing for me. I honestly never encountered a girl baby that made me want to procreate like the boys did. One sweet boy on a jogging path who accidentally turned and called me "Mommy" transformed me into a veritable pile of goo -- I may have flushed my pills upon my return home. I thought both Bella and Maddy were boys prior to birth (they were surprises).

And I thought now a boy would be nice: it would be different, it would signal the difference. This was a completely separate decision, a totally distinct child. There would be no "replacement" bullshit talk. I would never accidentally refer to him as "Maddy."

On the other hand, the second they said "Girl!" after Maddy was born, I knew that's what I wanted all along. It felt so right to have two girls. It felt complete. I now loved girls, I longed to raise them. And for 20 minutes, my family as it was felt absolutely perfect and I couldn't imagine that I had ever thought of any other arrangement.

And to lose that perfect moment and not be able to get it back, or fix it, or recreate it in another form kinda bugs. I had my family, it had two girls. That's what I wanted, again.

So it was with some disappointment that we received the news back shortly after week 12 that the chromosomes proclaimed XY.

I stared into space. I told Mr. ABF. He stared into space. Out loud, we both admitted our disappointment.

A boy. A boy.

It took about a week for me, and then I was fully on board. I would be fine for all the reasons I had already stated, and knew that in fact, it might turn out better this way -- less deja vu, less pressure on us all including him should he live beyond birth. I remembered the jog trail incident and thought I'd be ok if this turned out. I'd be more than ok. Mr. ABF took less time to climb on board, he was fine with it by nightfall.

Bella was another matter.

Bella claims to miss her sister, and this is obviously more the idea of a sister than Maddy exactly, but I concede her point. And whenever she talked of another sibling, she always used a feminine pronoun, despite my telling her that you can't choose what the baby will be, it just happens. (We're saving PGD for another conversation, clearly.) I think in her head she misses what she could do with this mythical, mystical sister that slipped through her fingers: she imagines, I'm sure, sharing clothing and toys, having a playmate who is interested in the exact same things (the rainforest; Wii; climbing trees), and a sibling with whom she would never, ever fight or disagree with because they'd be having way too much fun discussing stuffed animals or The Killers or whatever.

So when I was still a bit vulnerable about the whole boy thing, we told her we were having a baby.

"Another baby sister!" she exclaimed, and her face lit up.

(Gulp.) "A baby brother," I said quietly with a smile. "It's a boy."

And her face collapsed. Her lip trembled, and big fat hot tears began to roll.

And I almost crawled under the table.

It turns out the only little brother with whom she's intimately familiar belongs to her best friend from pre-school. And people, that child is Damien. He is undoubtedly possessed. How a sweet family can consist of two wonderful fun parents and an adorable girl and somehow claim to be related to this devil-child is simply beyond me. Clearly a case for bizarro nature, not nurture, or something.

And Bella began to wail about how horrible this particular little brother was.

I'm not big into hiding my emotions in front of her anymore (see: Me calling another driver an asshole this afternoon) but I seriously bit my tongue and held it together when all I really felt like doing was crying with her. We gently explained that she would be much older than her little brother than her friend was, and ergo the relationship would be much different. He would get away with far less, things that probably bothered her friend wouldn't bother her because she would be mature. Besides, we'd make sure (gulp, again) that he wouldn't behave like that.

"Ok," Bella said sniffling.

And by bathtime, she was on board team Baby B. (B for Brother, that is. And what he's called in our house.)

Once and awhile she pats my stomach and says, "I wish he was a sister," and all I can do is validate that feeling with a carefully pronounced and un-elaborated, "I know."

And she more than counterbalances those moments when she's with someone she hasn't yet informed, and pats my stomach and says to them with a sly smile and a low conspiratorial voice, "I'm getting a baby brother!"

We're to the point now where I'm starting to get worried . . . for her. For my husband. I feel as though I've steeled myself the best I can, and having made it through once, I'll likely find my way out of the rabbit hole again. But them? I realized last night, watching them goof around on the playset swings while I futzed with dinner, that this is what's going to break my heart -- their crushed dreams, not my own. I still can't imagine this boy. I can't pretend excitement I don't have and won't until he crosses my threshold in a carseat and not a box. I can't force myself to hope. I can only be, and hope if it does turn out, that he's not a pincher.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Like Any of Us Need this News Now

I scanned headlines for distractions today: Was there a lone (brave?) asshole who yelled at Tiger? Some advance scoop to tonight's basketball game? Did Obama's pitch made it across home plate? Instead I found an article about a study that links babyloss to divorce.


I've got a post up over at Glow In the Woods.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stress. Test.

I figured it was about time to call Children's and let them know It's Alive (still) and what plan of action they'd suggest, if any. They mused on it for a few days, and my point-guy called me back. I wish I could remember the exact phrasing because it was priceless, but in a nutshell he said they'd conferred, and I should deliver at the hospital next door without the teams of Children's specialists standing around because they'd like me to have as normal a birth experience as possible. At which point I burst out laughing.

"C," I said, because we're on a first-name basis by this point, my genetics guy and I, "You know this whole experience is going to be so fuc . . . er, messed up that another 10-20 people milling about really won't throw me."

"I know, " he said sheepishly, and I could see the grin on his face. "I know."

So there it is, the birth plan: I will give birth next door. The NICU is staffed with people from Children's anyhoo, and they will be informed that if something looks off do not spend precious time trying to figure it out yourself because trust me, you won't be able to. Put the kid on oxygen, dial the numbers we're going to provide you, and get him next door.

Oh, and the OB said they are not, repeat NOT, letting me go beyond my due date. I will have a baby by some day in Mid May.


Today was my supposed to be my 32w ultrasound, but due to me walking out of the MFM's office after being kept there for over two hours at my 28w appointment, and then having my rescheduled appointment cancelled and again rescheduled due to snow, it sorta turned into my 33w ultrasound.

And I was a nervous wreck.

My last ultrasound with Maddy was around 32 weeks. They checked her growth (by now it had slowed down, she was falling into the previous week and people were double checking my LMP wondering if I had that right and making those blow-off-ish comments about "well, you're small, your babies are small"), her heartrate (within normal limits, but on the low end), they noted that the bright spots on her bowel were gone, and sent me on my way. It was the last I saw Maddy until birth. Between this ultrasound and birth, I notified my OB on at least two occasions that she was moving very slowly. I actually had to do kick counts, and she was making them, but barely. No one seemed concerned. I don't blame them.

I'm now at 33w and am fully expecting to be greeted by horrible news at these growth scans: the baby's heart looks big, his legs are crossed (a sign of neurological damage, it turns out), his growth has stopped. After having umpteen ultrasounds this pregnancy during which I kept my fingers lightly on my rip cord, today my fist was clenched around the ring and the wind was rushing through my ears. All "looked fine" to the doctor and the baby is just about out of breach (where he's been camped out for about three weeks, spinning around, standing up, but always head up) in a funny c-shape. (Does the shape signify something?) His growth is still measuring consistently ahead about a week, his heart-rate is normal in the mid-high range, where Bella's was.

And then I had my first Non-Stress Test.

And the baby, who moves constantly, spinning, twisting, kicking, punching -- he only just moved out of breach last week -- keeping me up at night, making kick counts a moot point because he's seemingly in constant motion -- fell asleep.

I gamely tried to paste on a smile when the nurses poked and said "This always happens, cheeky things!" and so forth with the light "Nothing Bad Ever Happens!" banter, but all I could think as I tried not to cry was, This was it. This is the beginning of the end, the start of the bad news, the first sign. Maybe this is the first day where I think, huh, he's slowed down. Maybe he'll still be slow next week, and the week after.

And what happens when you have Epic Fail on the NST is they take you to a room for yet another ultrasound to check movement and heartrate. And the second the ultrasound probe hit my stomach for the second time that morning, he moved. Not just moved, twisted. Kicked, punched his hands, Yawned. He was fine.

I was a fucking basket case.

By the time I hit the parking lot, he had shifted a bit out of his C so his ass was more in the middle of my stomach, and by the time I sat down for lunch he was doing a circus routine. My fingernails are still cutting into my hand where my fist is still in a tight ball around the ring, and my opposite thumb is desperately trying to feel out the outline of the Eject button. I can't believe I have to do this twice weekly. Has anyone ever stroked out because of an NST? Isn't this what they're supposed to prevent?

I have, believe it or not, still refused to let myself think about what might happen some day in Mid May, either good or bad. I figure that thinking about either outcome is a waste of time. I don't do this to spare me then -- there is no way that not thinking about it will make it hurt less -- but to spare me now. Do I want this? I think that goes without saying. But I'm not succumbing to hope or gut feelings or depression.

We'll all know, soon enough.