Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A foot in both worlds

I just came upon an amazing non-profit organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep (NILMDTS). With volunteer affiliate photographers in most states, NILMDTS provides sensitive and compassionate photography services to families experiencing the death of an infant. The photos on this site are moving and brilliant and even hopeful, despite the obvious sadness inherent in the theme of infant loss. What comes across even more than tragedy in the photos is the love and tenderness that each family feels for the child(ren) who died. I found the photos of the children with their living siblings to be especially profound. The photographs show such respect for the families and their children, without exploitation or manipulation, that they reminded me of the Victorian-era post-mortem photography I've discussed here before.

(If you're beginning to worry that I've crossed over into the dark side, rest assured that I have also been keeping myself busy with "normal people" activities like looking into daycare, baby shopping, and nesting--well, I don't know how much nesting I'm really doing in this oppressive heat... I'm just your average bereaved mother, perfectly capable of grieving one child while celebrating the coming of another.)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Birth and death

Seems that Gwen and Ang weren't the only ones to give birth this weekend. Our car's engine has been destroyed for the second time in 3 weeks by nesting rats. NYC rats don't mess around. The first time, mama simply chewed on the wires and filled the engine cavity with bits of paper, lint, glass, and whatever else she could find to provide warmth for her babies. Yesterday, after a leisurely drive, the engine warning light came on again. Upon inspection, it was obvious that mama had come back to deliver and had caused more damage along the way. The engine was again packed with nesting materials, which DH carefully and somewhat squeamishly removed with rubber gloves, revealing several tiny, no longer living babies, whom mama had likely been forced to abandon when we started the car earlier in the day. We were able to exhume all but the two tiniest runts, who were too tucked away to reach without the proper tools. Apart from the $400 we'll have to pay to take care of this (for the second time), we are both feeling quite disturbed and distressed over this incident. What is mama going to think or do when she comes back? We both feel silly, but also a little sad over this latest bizarre incident in our world.

Friday, May 26, 2006

100% girl

One of the residents who works with Dr. G. in cardiology added a little fun to our usual anxiety-provoking visit by giving us another peek between the baby's legs. For the first time ever, we saw LABIA. No doubt about it, Natalie's a girl! It may seem silly, but the image was very exciting, considering that without any visual proof to date, there was still a good chance that all the dresses I've bought for Natalie would end up being worn by Nathaniel.

The good word is that her heart still looks great, no sign of hydrops or anything else of concern at this point, and she's measuring according to dates, weighing approx. 3 lbs., 5 oz. On top of that, my BP was good, and I haven't gained any weight in the past 3 weeks, so I'm still at 17 lbs. total. I might just get through this pregnancy at nearly the same weight I was at the end of my pregnancy with Julian, which isn't too shabby, considering that I was able to lose that weight right away, even without the added advantage of being able to breastfeed.

Stuff to watch:

If you haven't had the opportunity to see the award-winning documentary, "Little Man," it's currently airing on Showtime and is totally worth the box of tissues you'll go through as you learn about one family's struggle with life and death decisions regarding their premature son. The themes are controversial, often disturbing, and at times political, but also deeply personal and profoundly moving. This is a story that rarely gets told. Click here for local airtimes.

In a sub-subplot of episode 10 ("The Baptism") of my new favorite HBO show, "Big Love," a past family tragedy is revealed when Bill celebrates the birth of his new nephew with brother Joey and sister-in-law Wanda, and mother Lois pronounces matter-of-factly, "This one's gon' live."

I just rented the 2005 film, "Junebug," a quirky family drama that unexpectedly delves into the tragedy of stillbirth. The film was nominated for several film awards and stars one of my many fantasy boyfriends, Alessandro Nivola.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Happy dance!

I just found out that one of the most deserving people in the entire world got some really good news today, and I am overjoyed for her and her family! :)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The party is over

I've just had a nice visit with my mom, and a good check-up with the cardiologist last Friday, but I think that other recent events that I won't go into, in combination with my hormones and lack of pill popping have pushed me over the edge into pre-partum depression territory. Just when I thought I was coping so well, I'm suddenly reduced to a puddle of tears. Is it too soon for another vacation? Somebody wake me up in 8 weeks.

P.S. I was struck by the following on the bus the other day and thought I'd share (from MTA's "Poetry in Motion" series):

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in the grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase 'each other'
doesn't make any sense.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

More frivolous baby things

To keep my mind off how anxious I have become in these past few days, as we approach the final 10-week countdown, I thought I'd bore you with talk of frivolous, though necessary, baby things. (Please don't think I've lost my mind, I'm just trying to distract myself from the paralyzing sense of fear and dread that could easily overtake me at any moment.)

Our stroller arrived, and we love it! I'll come clean--the stroller is indeed manufactured by Zooper, but I ordered it from (shhh!) Pottery Barn Kids. This particular stroller was made especially for PBK by Zooper, and most closely resembles the 2005 "Swing" and the 2006 "Hula" styles (the biggest differences are the rear wheel width, the fabric, and PBK label, which though subtle, may be offensive to your aesthetic sensibilities--it slightly offends mine, but I'll live with it for the price!).

The stroller is substantial, handsome looking, and easy to maneuver. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the stroller came with extras like a UV cover, infant seat adaptor, rain cover, and boot, which manufacturers like Maclaren and Bugaboo would gladly label as "optional" and charge extra for. It is surprisingly made in the U.S.A. and the customer service office (based in Portland) is amazing. If you are stroller shopping, be sure to check it out, and act quickly--it was a major steal at $129.99 (originally $249.99). I can only assume they didn't do well because lots of parents find it unsettling to buy a stroller from a furniture store, and perhaps it wasn't clear who the manufacturer was. If you need more convincing, the Zooper was a top pick in this year's edition of Baby Bargains (another must have item!).

Monday, May 15, 2006

Holiday in Vermont

We had a really restful long weekend in Vermont despite the non-stop rain. Robert (pictured above with Billings) learned to fly a Harris Hawk, and I had an excellent massage and pedicure. Mother's Day was not without its challenges, but I survived (I still haven't come up with a smooth way to answer the inevitable, "Is this your first... How many.... How old...?" I find that I am not able to lie, but also not able to come up with a one liner than won't lead to further questions--please send suggestions if you have them!). Best of all, we had our weekly echo before hitting the road and Natalie's heart looked great, so we were able to truly relax and enjoy our mini getaway together. Oh, and Robert bought me a lovely gold locket. :)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mother's Day

DH and I are off to Vermont for the weekend, but before we leave, I'd like to address the controversial topic of Mother's Day. Last year, I felt confined to my apartment on Mother's Day, because I was scared to death that someone would ask me if I had any children, and I was in no state to cope with the public. This year, however, I feel more validated as a mother, and therefore more resolved not to let anyone take that away from me. On Sunday, I intend to honor myself, my children, my mother, and all the other extra-special mothers out there (particularly Catherine, Delphi, Lauralu, Gabesmama, NervousKitty, Sillyhummingbird, Deadbabymama, Kate, Anam, Jill, and other regular readers) who have had to struggle a little harder than most to achieve and sustain their status as mothers, and who experience the joy and pain of motherhood every single day.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Pregnant again

I just had lunch with an administrator who I like, but don't know very well, and haven't seen for a while. As we were walking down the street talking, out of nowhere, she stopped and asked, "Oh, are you pregnant again?" Of course I responded that I was, and before I had a chance to offer my usual qualifiers, she asked how things were going, and I told her the truth, that there have been lots of ups and downs, close monitoring, and unknowns, that this doesn't change things, and that there are no guarantees. Thankfully, she completely understood where I was coming from, yet didn't shy away from asking further questions about me or the baby. This is typical of this person--she is known for her offbeat and rather blunt communication style. I'm sure it's considered tactless by others, but at the moment, I find it particularly refreshing and comforting.

In other news, can you believe I just bought a STROLLER???? I never got around to buying one when I was pregnant with Julian, because I couldn't make up my mind. It feels like a big commitment, but just found one I like at a really good price that made it hard to pass up. I ended up going with a Zooper that is suitable from birth-40 lbs. I had originally been tied to getting a Maclaren, but the Zooper seems like the "indie stroller" in this city full of Bugs, Macs, and Stokkes. The design is actually similar to a Mac, but touted as being more value for money. I hope I don't end up regretting this!

Monday, May 08, 2006

The world is an unfair place

I just learned that someone in our virtual community has suffered another devastating loss. Please send your best to Catherine and her family. Following the stillbirth of her second son, Alex around this time last year, Catherine has lost Baby #3, who was due in September. We mourn with her.

Sunday, May 07, 2006


We're officially in the home stretch (no pun intended, though my stretchmarks seem to have taken on a checkerboard pattern this week)! Only 12 more (hopefully only 10 more, really) weeks to go!

Friday, May 05, 2006


After a week of Trying Not To Think About It, yet succumbing to fear and anxiety anyway, I am happy to report that our cardio appointment went very well today. No sign of TR, enlargement of the heart, or any fluid where it shouldn't be. We, of course, were thrilled and relieved, and since Natalie was being especially cooperative and photogenic today, Dr. G. even took lots of pictures and recordings to demonstrate a particular procedure to one of her classes at a later date. My OB appointment went well, too--passed my glucose screen, BP was only 120/60, no protein in my urine, and I've only gained 17 lbs.! I will hit 28 weeks on Sunday and will officially enter the third trimester, which I hope flies by with fewer concerns than the second. Please, please, please.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

49 and looking good!

(Yes, he really is 49 this year!)

Happy birthday to the love of my life and the father of my children. May your one real birthday wish come true this year.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Borrowed from deadbabymama

I'm borrowing this post from deadbabymama, because I think it is so perfect.

"Grief is like a well, a well that is so deep you can't even comprehend if or where it might end. You spend a lot of time in it, and eventually make your way to the top, where you hang out, sometimes inside, sometimes partly outside. Sometimes you are sitting on the edge, dangling your feet over the side. Very occasionally you leave altogether and the well just sits at the end of the garden; you always come back to it. Often you come back involuntarily, an incident or image or person drags you back, sometimes even lifts you bodily and throws you down deep. If you are lucky you remember where the footholds are, and where the chinks that your fingers fit in are and you can get yourself out a bit faster and with fewer cuts and bruises than last time. Sometimes you take yourself down to the end of the garden and flirt with the well. You dip a toe in, or lie on your stomach at the edge and peer down. You might throw stones down it, to see how deep it is. Occasionally you throw caution to the wind and step in, hurtling yourself down; afterwards you wonder why you are so cruel to yourself but you also recognize the rewards of remembering. You know that you can't have the memories without the well, so you accept it and even start to incorporate it into the larger landscape of the garden. You plant around it in ways that draw subtle attention to it, it becomes a place you don't avoid but you also don't approach it without awareness. Other people comment on the beauty of your garden, and the worthwhile ones include the well in their assessment. The well is part of your landscape, and you learn to live with it somewhat gracefully, sometimes even proudly; it is no longer deep enough to swallow all of your joy." (Posted on deadbabyblog, 5/1/06).