Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ezra on Christian's Seashore

Christian's mommy, an amazing woman named Carly,
remembers our babies by writing their names in the sand
on a beach near her home in Australia.
I just realized today she had done Ezra's.
And today is Ezra's 3 month birthday.
What a beautiful birthday present for my little man.
Thank you Carly!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

3 Months Today

It's 3 months today since we learned Ezra died. Tomorrow is 3 months since he was born. I'm not sure I can gather my thoughts enough to comment on the significance of 3 months. Other than to say I stand in awe of how much my life has changed in that time.

Around this exact time of day 3 months ago today, I sent an email to several coworkers titled "I'm fine." See the doctor had called me that morning saying I needed to come to the hospital for some tests...immediately. And since I was already at the office, I had to quickly let folks know where I was going and get coverage for a case in court...and off I went. Since I'd gotten a few email queries about whether everything was ok, I sent the few people who knew where I was an email when I got home. Everything's good. The tests were normal. My blood pressure's a little high but they think it will come down if I go home and rest. The baby's doing great. I feel kind of crummy so I'm not coming back to the office. I'm just going to get some rest now. Everything is ok.

I have never been so wrong.
So incredibly astoundingly mistaken.
I was not fine.
Ezra was not fine.
Ezra was likely already dead.
Slipped away, most likely on the car ride home.
When we left the hospital, my stomach felt a little upset.
And as we rode through Chinatown I felt a huge cramp.
David thought I was complaining about his driving.
All the bumps and potholes in the streets of Philadelphia bothered me so much more when I was pregnant.
But this was not a pothole.
I now understand it was Ezra's home, his placenta,
ripping away from the side of my uterus.

My poor little man.
His only source of oxygen,
Wrenched away.

I often wonder whether Ezra felt anything in those last moments.
Whether he realized what was happening,
Or felt betrayed.

I'm sure anyone who knows anything about child development,
Would tell me no way, he didn't know,
He didn't have the capacity to know.
He just went to sleep, never to awake.

But I worry, I really do.

By the time we got home the cramps were more painful, more consistent
"Drink water, eat something," the midwife said when I called.
She never asked me if I felt the baby moving.
I never realized that I didn't.
I was too focused on the pain, the unbelievable cramps.

It was only when I called back, the second time.
After the doctor had called about the normal test results
And to apologize for putting me through the tests.
(I mentioned I felt sick, he didn't ask about the baby's movement)
After I had drank 3 glasses of water only to throw them back up.
When I called back to ask, "maybe I'm in labor?"
What did I know, I've never done this before.

Only then did the midwife ask whether I felt my uterus contracting
And I realized I felt nothing.
Rock solid.

And yet it never occurred to me that my baby had died.
Never crossed my mind Ezra was no longer living.
I just thought maybe he was coming early.
Which was fine with me.
I couldn't wait to meet him.

I really didn't understand.
When the doctor said that our baby had passed away.
How could that possibly be?
He was fine.
Just a few hours ago he was fine.

I was just so very wrong.
Nothing is fine.
Nothing is ok.
And I'm not sure it ever will be.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Un-Thanksgiving...

I wrote last week about how I'm struggling with gratitude. I've decided I just can't do it. I can't feel grateful. I think feeling gratitude requires a level of humility I just cannot muster this year. And I don't feel humble. I feel bitter. So I'm not celebrating Thanksgiving today. Because as many things as there are in my life to be thankful for, the one thing, the one person who is most important, is not here. Not having Ezra here overshadows everything.

My dad came home from the hospital today, and that's a HUGE thing to be thankful for. So I renamed today 'Thanksfordaddy day' and I'm leaving it at that. Its all I can handle.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My New Necklace

Ezra is always with me wherever I go.
Now I wear something to remind everyone else about him too.
The letters spell Ezra in Hebrew.

The Walking Wounded

As some of you know, my dad had quadruple bypass surgery yesterday. He made it through ok - he's in a lot of pain but stable in the ICU. He'll be in the hospital for the coming week.

Unfortunately, seeing my Dad in the ICU set off intense flashbacks of Ezra's death. The beeping machines, the IV drips, the blood pressure monitor brought it all back in such an intense way, as if Ezra just died. I started crying and couldn't stop, couldn't breath in fact. I left the ICU with tears streaming down my face, afraid my Dad would notice something amiss. I stayed in the hallway, trying to breath, trying to stop seeing Ezra's lifeless body on the ultrasound screen.

"Your baby has passed away."

Friday was 12 weeks since Ezra left, 12 weeks since the world still seemed like a bright place. 12 weeks since I still had hope, and expectation, and could imagine Ezra's life ahead. All that hope and energy has been replaced by darkness. There isn't very much to look forward to now that I'm a mama without her baby.

We babylost mamas are like the walking wounded. We may appear fine on the outside. I've lost count of how many people have told me "I look good," with a hint of surprise in their voice. But regardless of what I look like, I'm not good, not good at all, whether anyone can see it or not. And I walk through the world, never sure what trauma trigger might be lurking behind the next corner. A pregnant stranger. A newborn baby. A beeping machine.

I have heard people talk about the narcissim of grief, the way grief turns you inward and everything you experience relates back to your loss. I feel guilty that my dad successfully surviving surgery becomes about me, about losing Ezra. I want to be able to be there for my dad, to support my mom, as they were there for me when Ezra died. But I think its unavoidable I'm seeing this all through the lens of losing Ezra. I don't have any other tools for relating to the world right now.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Struggling with Gratitude

Gratitude is absolutely the hardest emotion for me right now.

Tonight at yoga class, the teacher asked us to look into the space behind our hearts, where we hold all that we are grateful for. She asked us to reach into that space and focus on one thing or person for which we are grateful, to which we would dedicate our practice.

I thought of Ezra and of course started to cry. I am grateful for the 8 months he lived inside of me. Ezra brought me so much joy in his short life...I have never been so insanely happy as I was when I was pregnant with him. And yet I expected so much more...I expected a lifetime. How can I feel satisfied with just 8 months? Will I ever be at peace enough with losing him that I will be able to feel pure gratitude for the time I did have him?

Of course I am grateful for many people in my life. My amazing and loving husband David. The friends, family and acquaintances who packed our house each night of shiva. Everyone who has taken care of us in ways big and small in the 12 weeks since Ezra left us. The extraordinary community of babylost mamas that I have met here online who prop me up day by day.

And yet something is missing.
I don't feel fully grateful for anything right now.
Not without Ezra
Not without my son.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I guess I’ve passed into that angry stage of grief, the anger that all those grief books talk about. Before, the anger was just simmering beneath the surface, boiling over only rarely from time to time. Like when I saw a pregnant woman in the furniture store, asking about rocking chairs for her nursery…I wanted to scream at her “don’t buy one! You might not get a baby in the end!” But I didn’t…I walked away and took a few deep breaths.

But now it’s boiled over. And there’s a good reason…we learned at the beginning of this week that my dad needs bypass surgery. Apparently he’s had 2 silent heart attacks sometime in the past several years. My 70 year old dad, who still works full time, harder than I do, who plays tennis 4 to 5 times a week, who plays piano and takes weekly lessons…my dad who delights in everyone he meets and who makes everyone smile…could die.

The doctors, and just about everyone I know keep telling me that this surgery is common these days, that most people respond wonderfully and live many years after to tell the story. I don’t care. I don’t believe in probabilities anymore. Most babies live. A lot of good that does me.

And I don’t trust doctors anymore. Perfectly healthy babies inside perfectly healthy mamas die. With no explanation. What good is modern medicine anyway?

And so the rage boils over.
I’m mad at the world.
Furious that the universe seems to be having a long belly laugh at my expense.
Now I’d like to scream and shake every pregnant woman I see…
”It just might NOT turn out ok!”
I’d like to beat someone up.
Or break things.
Or scream until I can scream no more.

And I’m not even scared of my anger anymore.
I was before, when those moments of rage would pierce my otherwise serene self-pity.
But now I own it.
My rage in its full technicolor glory.

I've laughed a lot more this week.
But it's a bitter laugh, not happy at all.
Life just feels like a big conspiracy.

I am just so angry.
And Ezra

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pure Joy

I don't smile very much lately. But a recent visit to a dear friend and her beautiful daughters made me smile a whole lot. More than I have in two and a half months since Ezra died. These little girls are pure joy. I couldn't help myself. Little do these beautiful girls know how much they rejuvenated their Aunt Sarah. I love them very much. And I'm grateful to their mommy and daddy for letting them cheer me up. At least for a little while.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Holding onto Hope

Dear Ezra,

On November 4, 2008 a new era began in our country; Barack Obama became the first African-American President of the United States. He’s a man who, just like you, has a white mother and a black father. And more importantly he represents hope…true hope that the promise of equality of opportunity means something real. Hope that our country can change. Pure hope.

Our dreams for you were so tied into our dreams for an Obama presidency. And so it made sense that the very first time I felt you kick was when we joined 35,000 others on Independence Mall to rally for this man we wanted to be President. And my second to last memory of you moving inside of me was during Obama's speech at the Democratic moved so much I imagined your fist in the air, saying 'yes, I want this man to be President.'

I had imagined so many times taking you with me to vote for our new President. It took me over two hours just to get out of bed to go vote I was so sad you weren’t here. But then as I was walking across to the polling place, I felt your presence so strongly with me. In the afternoon, I spent several hours knocking on doors making sure our neighbors had voted, and as the afternoon passed I was filled with such a sense of purpose…it was the first time since you died that I felt anything I was doing had any purpose, other than grieving you. By the time I returned home, despite achy feet and legs, drenched from rain and sweat, I was nearly giddy.

In the evening I climbed in bed to watch the results come in. Daddy came home and joined me. And when the polls closed on the west coast and they announced Obama had won, I began to weep tears of joy, until they quickly became deep sobs of sadness and sorrow. I expected you to be here to see this, I so wanted you to be here to see this, and I still can’t quite believe that you aren’t here.

Last weekend, two other babylost mamas I know made a shrine to their babies in a park in San Francisco for Day of the Dead. Not only did they include your name and those of many other babies who are no longer with us, they included space for others to add names. Someone added ‘to the ones we gave back’ and ever since they told me about it I’ve been intrigued by the idea. To the ones we gave back…

Is it possible, Ezra, that I had to give you back, for a new day to come in this country? I’ve never subscribed to that notion of justice, an eye for an eye and all that. And yet I can’t quite shake the notion. Your middle name, Malik, was not only for my grandmother Marion, but also for Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, a placeholder for our expectations that you would share our passionate desire for social justice, for repairing the world. We hadn’t considered until after you died that, like you, Martin and Malcolm and your great-grandmother Marion all died before their time, before their work was done. Your daddy and I honor your memory by continuing to repair the world, even though we feel so broken without you.

And this great man, our new President, Barack Obama, also seeks to repair the world. Already he has united so many behind that dream, a dream of mending that which divides us.

Hope is not something that comes easily to me since you left us Ezra. And yet I still have hope. Most days I don’t even know why. And yet this man, Barack Obama, brings me hope.

Barack. ‘Blessing’ in Swahili.
Like Baruch in Hebrew
Bless Obama
Bless us all.


Monday, November 3, 2008

I Wanted a Baby and all I got was this Blue Box

I woke up this morning in a terrible mood, lower than I've been in awhile (which is pretty low already) and decided I wanted to look at Ezra's memory box. The kind nurses at Pennsylvania Hospital put the box together for us, as I guess they do for all the babylost mamas, with momentos of Ezra's short stay on this earth. The box has Ezra's tiny foot prints, with those tiny tiny toes and his daddy's flat feet. There's a lock of his amazing black curly hair (we thought he'd have no hair, like both of us, when we were born), and the tiny hat he was wearing when I held him in my arms. And the blanket and matching shirt and hat they dressed him in for his beautiful angel photo. And a few other things like the measuring tape the nurse used to chart out his 18 inches, and his hospital arm band.

At around 2am the day after I delivered Ezra, the nurse came in to give me the box. She wanted to make sure it didn't get lost, that I didn't get separated from Ezra's box. How I howled at that poor woman, I didn't want a box, I wanted my baby! And I screamed at her to get it out of my sight. Gently she put it away with my things, in the overnight bag I had packed with such excitement a few weeks earlier in anticipation of the arrival of my son.

A few days after I returned home from the hospital I did open the box...and I cried and smiled all at once...I do that a lot these days. Cried that I did not have Ezra in my arms...smiled at these tangible rembrances of him.

The box still brings me some comfort...although I really didn't ask for a box...I wanted a real live baby to hold and nurse and introduce to the world.

Never has a plan I made fallen so flat on its face.

And so instead of a baby I have a box.
A blue box.
A box of memories
And a broken heart.