Sunday, July 19, 2009


It's been quiet in this space for a couple weeks, ever since I wrote about the Sunflower. I'm now 14 wks and 1 day. It's not that I don't have things to say. It's that I don't quite know how to say them.

My wise therapist pointed out last week that I seem to be doing a lot of self-censoring. And the end result is that it's only making me more anxious all of the time. I don't want to talk too much about this pregnancy to other babylost mamas unless they are also pregnant or already had their "rainbow baby" after a loss. I don't want to talk to non-babylost pregnant ladies about all the fears about this pregnancy that chatter away in my mind. In general it just seems like everyone in the non-babylost world is so much more excited and so much more sure that all will turn out ok, than I could ever possibly be--and I don't want to tell them that either. This leaves me with way too much time on my own in my own head.

My intent in this pregnancy has always been to be as present as possible in the renewed hope, joy and love that the Sunflower has brought. I gave Ezra so much love as he grew inside my belly, the Sunflower deserves the same. Indeed, the hope, joy and love is there every day. But these beautiful emotions sit alongside something else that was never present when I was pregnant with Ezra:

I'm terrified.

There's not a day that goes by that I don't wonder if this baby isn't already dead. Even though I'm starting to feel little flutters of movement. Each twinge or unexplained pain makes me imagine I'm miscarrying or going into labor. Even though I had all those same random twinges and pains while pregnant with Ezra. Although I'm beginning to show, I worry the baby isn't growing enough. My mind wanders to every possible thing that could already be wrong...congenital deformities, genetic disorders...

I wish there was an off switch for my mind. The constant negative chatter is really getting to me.

I really don't want to be THIS pregnant lady. The one filled with constant worry and fear. I miss the OLD pregnant me.

The one who positively glowed through every day of the 33 weeks and 5 days I got to carry Ezra. Nobody could wipe the grin off my face.

The one who practically skipped around town with her ever-growing belly. Even the morning of the day he died, I joyfully walked on my own to the hospital.

The one who gleefully announced she was pregnant to large audiences before sitting down in a chair to teach or train in those final months. I don't even want to tell people I'm pregnant this time round.

The one who never even realized there were so many many things to be scared about while pregnant. And now I'm scared of them all. Every single thing that could go wrong. Not just what happened to Ezra.

I wish I could have just a little of the old pregnant me back. I miss her.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Sunflower

When we returned home last night, there was a present waiting for us in the garden. The first of my sunflowers had bloomed while we were gone. It was like being handed a smile. I've been cultivating these sunflowers since late April, when I planted many seeds in a pot inside, shooing the cats away and watching them sprout. As it warmed up in May, I moved the pot outside. Some of them wilted and died, but many of my sunflowers took root, and eventually I dug them up and replanted them throughout the garden. I've continued to cultivate them, pulling weeds and staking them where necessary as they grew higher and higher. The ridiculous June rains (it rained something like 24 out of June's 30 days this year) helped too. And now a first bloom! There are a number of others ready to pop within the next week or so. I love sunflowers!

The fact is that I have always loved sunflowers, they always make me smile. My dad used to grow them in the backyard for me when I was a kid. My college dorm room was adorned with posters of Van Gogh's sunflowers, and whenever they are cheap and available I've been known to buy cut sunflowers for myself. One of my dearest friends bought me a mug and a plate painted with sunflowers, and they are my favorite to use for breakfast. David knows better than to buy roses for my birthday or our anniversary...I'm a sunflower kind of girl. Sunflowers are bold and beautiful, and they never cease to cheer me up, no matter how low my mood.

Over the past number of weeks, we've been cultivating a different kind of sunflower, a ray of hope, that also makes us smile. As of today I am 12 weeks pregnant. We've been calling this baby the Sunflower since the very beginning, because despite all the sadness, she can't help but make us smile. (We are both utterly convinced the Sunflower is a girl, even though it is way too early to know).

So far everything is very healthy and good. Now being considered squarely high-risk, I've already had 3 ultrasounds, and the Sunflower continues to have a steady heartbeat and to grow and grow. My belly is beginning to swell, and soon the Sunflower will be apparent to everybody.

Over the past 12 weeks, joy and hope have had a more steady presence in our lives. We can't help ourselves. I try to stay as present in the joy and hope as possible. We already talk to the Sunflower and let her know how loved and desired she is. But the Sunflower has unearthed a full palette of other emotions...sadness, anxiety, fear. I have been so emotional throughout this pregnancy....terrified of losing the Sunflower, grieving my blissful pregnancy with Ezra. Physically and emotionally this pregnancy has been so very different than my pregnancy with Ezra.

I haven't told that many people about the Sunflower. In some ways I have an overwhelming desire to hide in a cave for the 9 months, and emerge only if/when I have a live baby to show for my efforts. For the people I have told, mostly close friends, babylost mamas and my coworkers, I have felt compelled to share the news but within the same breath make clear I'm both excited and terrified. I need those around me to understand that although I am happy, I also have no illusions about the risks involved.

But the joy is there, ever present, always growing. Afterall, sunflowers always make me smile.

Here's some shots of the Sunflower:

And finally, here's some gratuitous shots of my garden. Its really come together this year:

Friday, July 3, 2009

Grief, revisited

The past week has gone by in a blur, my mind barely processing all that has happened. Our lives are forever changed by the events set in motion the minute David got the phone call, and kept repeating "Dad died" as I let out a slow "Noooooo" as my eyes filled with tears if taking back the words would make it not so.

Almost immediately my mind went to 'why us?' and 'why now?' Haven't we been through enough this year? Hasn't our sense of comfort and certainty been shattered already?

The fact is that David's dad, Al's death wasn't traumatic like Ezra's. It wasn't entirely unexpected, since his health has been compromised for at least the last 5 years, in particular over the last month since he fractured his hip. But he had been doing well with his rehabilitation, and we let ourselves believe that perhaps he would skirt the 'risk factors' associated with his injury. Sadly, we were mistaken.

But so much is familiar. The tears that spontaneously erupt at a fleeting thought. The sense of failure and helplessness. The deep desire to wake up and discover the nightmare is over.

I will admit that the grief is really David's, afterall he has 41 years of Dad to grieve, whereas I only met Al in his old age, when his health was already declining. But he was always gentle and kind to me, welcoming me to the family, and grieving deeply when Ezra was gone. I will miss his warm smile and his goofy jokes.

Mostly it is devastating to see David so sad again, the Ezra-sized hole in his heart now widened by a Dad-sized hole. David said to me that he feels like a part of his molecular makeup is gone, just like a part left along with Ezra. All too familiar.

Making the funeral arrangements on Monday felt easy, we'd made these sorts of decisions before, just over 10 months ago. I returned to work on Tuesday and Wednesday dazed from lack of sleep and disoriented by the events of the week, somehow carrying out my responsibilites on automatic.

And now we are home, having buried Al yesterday (Thursday). The funeral service was personal and beautiful, the highlight of course being David's gorgeous poem...which was met with many an 'Amen' throughout the church as he read the lines. I have yet to read or hear that poem without crying at the end. As the tears fell yesterday, I thought yes its a small comfort that Ezra is now on his grandfather's knee...but really he should be on MY knee.

Just because Al's death wasn't entirely unexpected doesn't make it any less sad or the pain any less raw. As I watched the tears fall yesterday, it occured to me that if we truly allowed ourselves to imagine how much it would hurt to lose those we love, we'd probably never allow ourselves to love at all. But love is what gets us through these hard times, and thankfully we have lots and lots of love to carry us through this difficult leg of life's journey.