A Person Never Met

She has dark hair, almost black, but not quite, and smooth.
She has dimples, expected, and deep. The slightest smile reveals them.
She is reserved and thoughtful.
When she plays, she is genuine and curious.
She chooses her words carefully
She seems to innately know how fiercely protected she is. How much she is guarded.  How her tiny life encompasses others, in a symbolic continuation of what was lost.
She accepts that role with seriousness. With maturity. With burden that she carries more than most.
Weight, on her shoulders. She makes it light.

 

Object That Describes Me

I am a scale.  Sleek and polished. I rely on numbers, but numbers only tell a part of the story.

I reveal weight.  I track it over time.  Ups and downs, gains and losses.  But it is just a number.  Pregnancy weight, added and subtracted. Depression battles won and lost.  Over time the chart of check-ins formulates a crooked path.

I draw out misery. Pounds and fractions of pounds and sighs of frustration.  Cringes at the story that a scale doesn’t tell.  Just a number.

There were other numbers.  Other units of measurement. Hcg levels.  Heartbeats.  Statistics.  Number of weeks. Number of hours. Length of contractions.  Dosage of pills.

A scale is also balance.  Weight can be added to either side.  Some days, I feel heavy under the weight.

I Just Move On

While truckin’ down the road of life
Although all hope seems gone
I just move on
When I can’t find a single star
To hang my wish upon
I just move on.
-from ‘Chicago’

 

You know what sucks?  Falling asleep, into one of the deepest sleeps you’ve had in a long time, and waking up to find that it is only 2 hours later. And then not being able to fall back asleep.

 

You know what else sucks?  Moving on.

 

I planned for a baby. Then I planned for another baby. Now, in this place of stagnation, I can no longer plan. Because I no longer believe it will happen.

 

This belief comes to a head in small ways. I have a framed canvas painting of The Little Prince.  My sister painted it a long time ago. I had it in the boys’ room, and then had set it aside to put in the nursery.  It has been in my closet, waiting for its new home on the baby’s walls. But I no longer am sure that will ever happen, and I do not want the picture to continue to be in storage. I thought it would look nicely against my newly-painted blue basement accent wall.  So I moved on.

 

 

I used to have in my budget the anticipated increased child care expense later this year.  I don’t have it planned anymore.


Do I keep the toys that my kids have far outgrown, in anticipation that I might need them again someday?  I can’t decide. I can’t move on.


I tucked away another set of outgrown clothes into the tote labeled with the size. How long do I keep these?  I can’t move on.


The room that was supposed to be the nursery keeps evolving into a more functional space in our home with a different purpose.  I cannot keep reserving it for the future. There are reminders tucked away in the corners of the day.  I move on and can’t move on.


Having a plan and then abandoning the plan sucks.



What I Would Be Doing

I would be seven months pregnant right now. Or have a four month old baby.

When we first learned that Nelle was growth-restricted, without knowing the cause, the doctor told us that one option we might have to explore would be inducing early – very early, as soon as she could be viable outside of the womb.  But without knowing the cause, she might have a better chance on the outside.  I was 20 weeks at the time, and briefly we talked that induction could happen as early as 28 weeks, if they could not figure it out. It scared me to deliver that early, but I have known many premature babies that were fine. I thought “Maybe only 8 more weeks. Then we can get her out.”

At 21 weeks, 1 day she was gone and I delivered her.

Even with no indication that anything was wrong with Iris, with each passing week, I kept thinking “If there’s a problem, I only need to make it to 28 weeks or so.  Then she can be viable.”  I only made it to 16 weeks, 1 day.

Not only do I look at every day with what “should have been” but I am starting to receive reminders of where I was at this time last year. I was a few weeks pregnant.  I was starting to tell people.  After losing each of my girls, I went back through my Facebook profile and deleted every reference to my pregnancies. But the likelihood is that I did not catch everything and On This Day will remind me. My writing from a year ago will remind me.

I was sorting through old bras this morning in my drawer and came across a maternity/nursing bra that I had missed packing away. I thought “SERIOUSLY?”

By accident the other day, I found a t-shirt stuffed in the front pocket of my suitcase.  It was from our trip to Hawaii last summer, never worn.  I bought it after we had checked out of the condo and were on our way to the airport to fly home.  I was 11 weeks pregnant at the time, and the t-shirt didn’t fit; I bought it for future use. Then completely forgot about it.  Now I look at it, and remember that trip. I see all of the photos of our smiling faces and I am juxtaposed with happiness, and now pain as I look at my figure, knowing I was pregnant. I can never erase that aspect from the pictures.

So where I “should be” is so different from where I am and never expected to be.  I should be in a different place. Instead I am writing.

The Art of Love

Even though I wrote recently about being an artist/parent, I have never considered myself an artist.  Writer, sure, but the craft of writing is different than the craft of creating something from colors, textures, materials.  Outside of decorating the house and painting an occasional room wall, I do not have that aspect of creativity.

I have done several wine/painting evenings before, mostly for fun.  Get together with friends, enjoy the wine, and laugh about how un-artistic we all are.  My three previous attempts have all ended up in the garbage.  Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the evening, the result was nothing to be proud of.  Last night was another such event.  I approached it with no particular inclination that the canvas would yield anything special.  The prescribed picture of the evening was a sunset, with a silhouette of a branch with two birds.

As I added the silhouette of the gently rolling hills and trees to the bottom of my painting, I thought of where I grew up, in the coulee.  There is a beautiful lookout spot on my aunt and uncle’s land where I could see the entire expanse of the road and the dotted houses of the people who lived there.  As I extended the branch onto my painting, I thought of the tree where Nelle’s ashes are scattered, and where we will soon take Iris’s ashes.

So I made a shift.  Instead of painting the silhouette of two birds, I painted two small hearts.  Black, with a slight tint of white to make them more gray, and a slight hint of red.  The instructor did not walk  by my canvas for the rest of the class, and I wondered if he was displeased with my deviation.  I wanted someone to ask me about the hearts; I wanted to say something about why I made that choice, but no one did.  As I completed my painting, I thought not only of my two girls, but my two boys.  Two children, side by side, both living and not.

When Theo examined the painting he said “But there are hearts on the tree – that’s not right.”  I said that the hearts were for my two kids, for him and Quentin, because they are my heart.  He broke into a grin and said “Awwww… that’s so nice.”  Whichever angle I take, whether my two boys or my two girls, they sit side by side.  One slightly bigger, older than the other.

I hung the painting on the wall in my house.