Elegy for Amy

And We’re Off July 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 6:31 pm

We leave very early tomorrow for Costa Rica, and I couldn’t be more excited. This trip feels like an ending, a beginning, and a grand adventure all rolled into one.

We originally booked this trip for this past January. Neither of us has ever traveled out of the country save for 1 day in Mexico on a cruise several years ago. Our passports are empty. We both loved the idea of checking out the rainforest, and Costa Rica is shockingly close to us, closer than Seattle even. We booked it so far in advance that Amy wasn’t even a twinkle in our eyes, the idea that I might be pregnant at that point never even occurred to us. But, as it turned out, I was about 14 weeks pregnant then, and our doctors disagreed about whether or not it was safe to go. With my high-risk pregnancy, we decided to err on the side of caution and canceled the trip.

Three months later, I was no longer pregnant, our daughter was gone, and the idea of leaving the country for a short while sounded mighty appealing. So we booked it again. And it felt like a closure of sorts – we canceled this trip for Amy’s and my safety, and it turned out we were anything but. Now, here we are, about to take the trip after all.

Which also makes it feel like a beginning. The beginning of life, after. The beginning of living in this moment, rather than always trying to rush ahead to later. The beginning of planning for the worst but expecting the best. And possibly the beginning of another pregnancy, too – who knows? And because it’s just 3 days after her due date, this trip feels like a demarcation, before, after, something big that’s happening that isn’t, you know, “my baby died.”

I was reading an interview with Elizabeth McCracken about her stillbirth memoir, and the interviewer asked how she was doing now. She said, “I think I was worried that Edward and I would always seem like ruined tragic people–that we always WOULD be ruined tragic people. But we aren’t.  What happened to us was awful, but not unspeakable, because we and our friends speak of it.”

I can’t really find the right words to explain how this relates to the rest of this post, but to me, it doesn’t. This trip feels a little like reclaiming the non-tragic in our lives.

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Plans July 26, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 8:38 pm

I was reading an article about Death Cab for Cutie where the lead singer was quoted saying, “Nobody ever makes a plan that they’re gonna go out and get hit by a car. A plan almost always has a happy ending. Essentially, every plan is a tiny prayer to Father Time.”

I love that. It’s one of those things I hear in my heart when I start to get worked up about things outside of my control – things not in The Plan. Because it’s true, a plan isn’t a plan so much as a hope and a prayer, an outline of the things I want and the way I want them to be. When I think of them that way, they’re far less anxious-making and far more full of hope. When we both sit down and acknowledge that I can do all the right things, but ultimately, whatever is going to happen is going to happen, then a plan is just that – my tiny prayer to Father Time.

Because you know I’ve already calculated all the dates. Got it all mapped out. I can tell you when my prenatal appointments would be, when the cerclage decision would be made, the weeks I’m most likely to end up at the very least on self-imposed modified bed rest. But now this feels much more for my information, for me to hope for. If it’s not this month, it will be another, and then I’ll have new dates. New tiny prayers.

Oh, but the induction date? 38 weeks exactly? April 3rd. Sometimes it seems like the world is full of signs.

 

Faith July 24, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 9:52 pm

To do this, I need to have faith. In what, hardly matters. In God, in statistics, in my marriage, in miracles, in myself. In a future that includes putting together a crib, bringing a small human home from the hospital, teaching him or her how to ride a bike, arguing over bedtimes, and so much more. Faith.

Most people start out with faith that pregnancy ends in birth. I didn’t. I was too afraid to have faith. I didn’t want to “jinx it.” Now, though? I just want to believe. Before, I was afraid that having faith would somehow end up with me on the wrong side of disaster, caught unaware. And what’s funny is that in this lack of faith, I ended up in exactly the place I was afraid to end up, and my only regret is that I didn’t enjoy the moments before more than I did.

I found this picture the other day. It’s the last photo I uploaded to my Facebook account before we lost Amy. The very next photos in the album are from the trip we took to Chattanooga a week after she died. I was 20 weeks pregnant, I had just gotten these new maternity T-shirts that finally fit me after trying to squeeze myself into regular shirts for weeks, and I was so happy, in that moment. It was the night before our big 20 week ultrasound, where we found out she had a chin, that she’d likely avoid getting my birth defect. And for the couple of weeks after that, we were happy. We were pregnant, in a way I hadn’t allowed myself to be earlier.

I wish I’d done more of that. I want to do that, this time. And strangely, I’m so much less afraid.

 

Here I Go Again July 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 1:34 am

So much has happened on my whirlwind tour of mind, body, and spirit with regards to pregnancy. The biggest news: went to the OB/GYN for my annual yesterday, and she’s officially cleared us to start trying again, like, immediately.

Cue excitement and terror. I doubled up on birth control as a result, because I am logical. Okay, really because I don’t want there to be any chance that I’m pregnant before we return from Costa Rica, a trip I would like to simply relax and enjoy without worrying about daily injections or taking pregnancy tests in a foreign land.

She asked where we were with it, and I said we’d like to start trying again this next cycle, and she exclaimed, “well, I don’t see why not!” Then gave me the full work-up and declared my womb re-opened for business. She seems excited for us, which makes me like her more.

The other reason I doubled up on birth control is more embarrassing to admit, but allow me to just embrace my crazy here – I went to see a psychic on Monday, and she told me I would be pregnant within a month, possibly a few weeks sooner than I expect. I’m somewhere in between a skeptic and a believer, but that felt a bit like playing with fire.

I’ve never seen a psychic before, but my mom and my grandmother do. Kind of more often than the average person looking to be entertained. I don’t really know what I believe about that kind of thing, except that I want it to be true especially now, and I thought, why not? Just see. Plus, I have this big personal truth now that isn’t the kind of thing the average person would guess, so if she knew about Amy… well.

Within the first five minutes, she had identified my husband’s first initial and said that she was seeing something really big in April, something that involved a lot of prayer and love for the two of us in the family. And then she said, this is just a question so don’t be alarmed, but has someone close to you passed away very recently, I’m getting that it either just happened or is going to happen. And maybe you can guess that if you’re going to see a psychic there’s a decent chance someone close to you has died, but April? I’m not saying it’s 100%, but it was uncanny for sure, as was most of the session.

She tells me that I’m going to have three children, including Amy, so two more, a girl and a boy. The girl first, she thinks. That my other two pregnancies would be complication-free and everyone will be healthy. She identified my clotting disorder and my morning sickness from last time and told me neither would be a problem in the future pregnancies. And that the girl would be a redhead.

I don’t know if I believe in or not, but I want to believe all of those things, badly (okay, the redhead thing not as important but it is my most fervent frivolous baby wish to have a redheaded baby).  I want everything to go perfectly from now on. I want to have healthy, happy, full-term babies. I want pregnancy #2 to go so well that I sign up for #3 with no reservations. So I choose to believe in it for now, because I want to.

 

Dead Baby Sad July 16, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 8:13 pm

A confession about my last post: it’s a little bit of a lie. Mostly, it’s true, but all the same, it’s trying too hard. I try too hard. Some days. Not every day.

Some days are fine. I go about my day, work, home, relax. Maybe I hear “our song” on the radio and belt it out. Remember her sweet little head and holding her in my arms and think what a horrible shame. And continue on, about my day. Dinner, cuddle, sleep. Her birth, her death, it’s just another fact of life.

Some days, I’m more incredulous than anything. As in, holy crap, my baby died. Because really, how does that even happen?? Babies don’t die. Babies cry and poop and make weird faces and wear adorable outfits. Babies live. That’s what babies do. So sometimes, I think of Amy, and I just look at Dan and say, “Can you believe this actually happened??”

But then there are the other days, where I spend most of every hour fighting to keep my head above the crushing sadness of her death. And I do. I succeed. Finish my to-do list. Go to the pool. Hang out with friends. I laugh. I have a genuinely nice time. It helps. And then whatever distraction is over, and I get in my car, or in my house, or in my office, and I’m just sad.

I’ve been sad before. I’ve been heartbroken before. I’ve missed someone beyond reason. This, though. It makes all of those times before look so trivial. I’d love to be only that sad. Because now I’m dead baby sad, which I’m convinced is pretty much the saddest sad there is.

Funny story – someone recently told me they understood how difficult this time was for me emotionally, because they had a really bad break-up in college and it was awful. I don’t even have to explain why this is absurd, right? Dan and I have been together for ten years, we love each other beyond words and both believe there is really no one else who would be a better partner for us, and I can tell you with certainty that if either one of us had to choose between getting a divorce or losing our baby, we’d be at the courthouse is a red hot second. College break-up. Dead baby. You be the judge.

So, I am having the summeriest summer, and that brings me joy. But if I’m being honest, most of the time, when I scurry off to the pool for hours at a time, it’s to escape the dead baby sad for an afternoon, and it really does help. So my last post – it’s all true. But when I get in the car at the end of the day, sometimes it’s just still not enough.

 

Most Wonderful Time July 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 11:03 pm

This has been the summeriest summer I’ve had since I graduated from college ten years ago. That summer, my friend and I packed all of my things up in my Honda Civic and drove from Pittsburgh to my mom’s house in Atlanta, where I lived for the next few months until I found a job. She had a pool and I had no job, so that summer was spent in large chunks of time on the deck, in the pool, reading in the sunroom, going to the water park when my friends came to town.

Since then, there’s no pool, and there is of course a job, and our house is heavily wooded which means mosquitoes galore, and summer is mostly just like every other season except it’s hotter and makes you reminisce about being 18 with no real responsibilities (and no cellulite, either).

This summer, though. I’m grieving. I’m trying every day as hard as I know how to work through it, heal as much as I’m able, and a big part of that is being good to myself and doing things that are good for me. Vitamins. Working out. Eating healthier. But also, fun. Relaxing. I don’t have set hours at work. Most of my job, I can do any time. Or even delegate things (imagine that). So this summer has featured some things my summers haven’t featured in a long time – afternoon movies, vacations, and that summeriest of all summer things for me – a pool pass. Afternoons spent reading by the pool, jumping in every time it gets hot. Slathering on sunscreen, getting burned anyway, my hair all chlorine-y. Everything about the pool, to me, represents summer, and being carefree, the best time of year.

It’s a community pool, so sometimes there are toddlers, and I wonder if Amy would have been like them, or heavily pregnant women, and I seethe a little bit with jealousy, but it’s the pool. You can’t be sad for long at the pool. I can’t, anyway. I’ve got my Kindle and my junky novels and cold sodas and my sunglasses, and I answer to no one and swim when I want to. Summer. And it feels amazing.

 

Not-Due Due Date July 13, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — elegyforamy @ 10:23 pm

How was yesterday? I survived. That’s about as much as anyone can expect of me, right?

It was awful. It was in fact, more awful than I expected. It was easily the worst day since the actual day she died, and maybe it was even just as bad. I had more than a due date, I had a scheduled induction at 38 weeks. Most babies don’t come on their due dates, everyone knows that, but mine had a scheduled date, so July 12th was The Day. The day we should’ve gone to the hospital as two and come home as three.

Instead, I came home (after basically freaking out and fleeing my office) and everything was exactly the same as it’s always been, and that made me cry. A lot. I wondered if I’d ever stop. Everything in our house is the same. Nothing has changed. You get pregnant and you expect that in 9 months or so, everything will change. That nothing has is this big red sign, a physical reminder, she died, you can’t change it.

But, I survived. People say, you have such strength, you have such grace; I totally don’t, I just have no other choice. If I did, I’d surely take it. Your baby dies and the only path left is to continue on. Wake up, feed yourself, go to work, see your friends, feed yourself, go to bed, it’s just what you do, because you have to. And if you’re lucky, in between, sometimes you have fun and joy and hope, too.

We went to see a movie, and it was nice to do something nice, together. The movie was a comedy, but one ironically enough about pain and regret and the lengths you’ll go to to survive them, and maybe also a little about magic and hope and fairy tales. It felt very appropriate. And maybe more importantly, it made me feel a little less like I might actually die of sadness for the rest of the night.

And now it’s July 13th, and there’s only one more Amy date on the calendar. It’s her actual due date, but the thing is, there was never any chance I’d still be pregnant then. So I’ll notice, with regret, but from here on out, every day is the same – she should be here, but she’s not, which is a reality we’ve already been living, every day since April 3rd.