Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Two years ago today, I spent most of the day in the offices of a perinatologist and a genetic counselor. They spoke to me with sympathy in their eyes. They gave me a tiny bit of hope around a table in the genetic counselor's office and then took it all away again in the dimly lit ultrasound room.

There was something wrong, something very, very wrong. The doctor put his hand on my knee and I couldn't contain my tears any longer. It would take me two weeks to come to terms with my decision, but it was in that moment that I knew. I knew that she was leaving, that we had reached the moment I had been subconsciously waiting for since a moment in the shower months before, when I first felt that something wasn't right.

I remember the doctors bowing out of the room, making comments about how this was a lot to take in. It was too much for today. We'll give you some space. And in that space I crumpled into the arms of my mom, who squeezed me too tight, which could only mean that she was crying too.

When they came back, they laid out the incredible decision that lay before me. A fucking terrible, impossible question with no right answers. I felt my soul kicking and screaming, looking for an exit from this nightmare of a life I had just landed in. This could not possibly be happening to me, to my baby. I had to leave.

So we did. I walked out of that clinic like a zombie with ultrasound pictures and two pieces of reading material in hand: 'A Time To Heal, A Time to Decide,' and a spina bifida pamphlet. We went to see my husband at work, since he could not get the day off to come with us. I flung the black and white ultrasound pictures in his face first.

Look, here is our baby. She is definitely a girl.

He looked at them, his hope still hanging in the balance. It's not good, I told him. It's actually really, really bad.

His face fell and I felt bad for giving him the news while he still had a night of work to finish, but I was so numb. I had already been crying for most of the day, and there was nothing left.

My mom stayed the night, packing up our Christmas decorations the following day. There was a box of random stocking-stuffers and holiday paraphernalia that ended up sitting on one of our kitchen chairs for months.

I was a shell of myself, numb to the world. I remember so little of those days, the in between.

Eventually I would make the phone call, schedule the room in the hospital in the bigger city, walk down that impossibly long hallway, climb into that horrible bed, push out a tiny baby, fall in love with her, and then leave without her.

How did I do it? How in the world did I ever do it?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

I realized today that Christmas would be here and then gone before I knew it, and felt a surprising sense of uneasiness in the pit of my stomach. It isn't the holiday that I feel strange about, but the weeks that follow. In the short stack of days that stretched between the day after Christmas and the 9th day of January, everything changed.

They are just dates, I know that. But I still don't want to revisit them.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I didn't think the holidays were going to be hard for me. I was lucky that my anatomy scan was scheduled the day after Christmas in 2008, and I clearly remember sitting in the midst of the thick fog of uncertainty that followed saying, "at least this didn't ruin Christmas." And then last year, my arms filled with the soft, cuddly form of your brother at my breast, in a thick fog of a completely different, much happier variety, Christmas very well could have not happened at all.

This year is different. This year your brother is spellbound by the lights, bouncing to the music, and pulling the tree down with vigor. I spent the other night pulling things out of boxes that hadn't been seen since the Christmas just before you left us, and while your brother tangled himself in lights and shattered ornaments with his bare hands (despite our best efforts to find them all before he did), I saw your ultrasound picture in its frame on the piano, and I realized, again, that you will never get these moments. Or more that we will never get these moments with you.

I wanted to know you so badly. Maybe even more now, having spent a year with your brother. There is an ultrasound picture of each of you, still on the fridge. I can't bring myself to take them down. Today I stared at them for a long time and realized that your profiles were so similar. The only difference I could spot was that Orrin has your dad's brow line, and you, most likely, had mine. I want to know what you would have been like: what color your eyes would have turned, the sound of your giggle, if your hair would have started to curl. At the same time I know, in my heart of hearts, that you were never meant for this world. I felt it so strongly, from the very beginning. And still, it didn't (it doesn't) hurt any less.

Your presence in my life has become so quiet in the last year. And yet I feel you are closer lately. Maybe because we are fast approaching your birthday again. Maybe you know that I need to feel that you are okay out there. I'm okay here, somehow. I have become this not-so-new-mom with a big gaping spot in her heart that most people have a hard time understanding. I am a mom who gets frustrated, irritated, and exhausted sometimes, even though she has pictures of a lifeless baby in her bedroom to remind her of how lucky she is.

I am still here, living, almost two years after we said goodbye. There was a time when I couldn't have imagined this point; when two years felt like an eternity and even the smallest sliver of happiness seemed like an unattainable goal.

But here we are. Surviving. More than surviving, now.

There is still not a day that goes by that I don't think of you.