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.