Wednesday, February 24, 2010


My daughter woke up today screaming, "I miss my sister. I need my sister."
I figured that she had had a nightmare and I figured this was a long time coming.

My living children have made more frequent mention recently of their dead sibling. This day was bound to come. In some ways I have willed it here because I want Eva to be a part of our family, not just my private thoughts and fantasies.

Recently, my older daughter (well, by a minute, anyway and just now I realize how strange an idea that really is) came running, exclaiming, "I found Eva! I FOUND EVA!" and brought with her a doll with no face dressed in a hospital gown. The social workers gave our son two of these dolls to prepare him for his twin sisters' birth and NICU stay (the other doll is in Eva's box).

My son, ever-obsessed with and taunted by villains in his cut and dried world of good vs. evil recently chided his sister because he does not like to talk about real death, which makes him sad. Last month, we resurfaced his worry dolls and he told them that he wanted them to help him not think about "villains, sharks, Eva and death."

But then my daughter, who is not yet 3, told me that she wants to die so that she can cuddle her twin. I have no response for her. I am utterly bereft.

And my son told me that he wants to find a scientist who can turn him into a wizard so he can bring her back, and that one kind of made me smile.

All this was scrolling through my mind as I walked down the hall to my daughter where I found her, "looking everywhere" for her ... slipper.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Stations of the Cross to Bear

The process of getting to you was both one of steps taken individually and one of seeing nothing but the destination, which was your broken body lying in a cold place without your family.

To see you each day, I would get in the car, buckle the seat belt, pull out of the driveway, K-turn to the street heading in the right direction -- towards, away. I was always headed in the wrong direction for one of my babies and the right one for the other. Each step required sure footing (impossible) and my thoughts were both a precise recipe leading to you and an eye chart too far to make out, such was the state of my postpartum brain in survival mode.

Traffic lights were excruciating. Speed up to make the yellow. Force the car to stop for a red. Merging was an act of stoicism. No one needed their destination as much as I needed mine. If they could hear me crying, they would have known that. If they heard me screaming, they would have pulled over. I was the ambulance, such was my urgency.

And then, after elongated minutes of hurling myself around the ring road at destruction speeds, I could see the building. Here was the final test. Pull in to the parking garage. Get a ticket. Maneuver around other scared people in this obscurity -- the dimness of this structure, darkened by the smoked glass of the cars and the people inside could see even less, such was their anguish.

Around and around until I found a hole in which to leave my machine. Find that bridge from the parking structure to the place where some are getting sicker and where others are healed. Cross the bridge, and hurry down the stairs, incision burning, to the hall, to the elevator, up to the floor for very sick children, wait at the call box for admittance, briskly enter, wash my raw hands, ignore the stinging because it is a price and at least I have found one to pay. I want to pay, to make a deal (will you take my limbs?) and that burning is nothing, really, such is the futility of my negotiations.

To your bed and your sweet face. I am useless and this shames me, but I am with you now.

I would have paid but in the matter of your life and death, I had no form of currency.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Too Much Sorrow

In another place, I try to support women who have been through loss in a mono.amniotic twin pregnancy. In most of these cases of loss, the women lose both babies to a cord accident in utero. Then they must deliver. And whenever that happens, I feel my chest constrict for all the women I know who have had to go through labor knowing their babies are dead already. Labor's reward and justification? There is none for these women.

I just think about that and I feel my skin go cold and my eyes sting. and my nose. How could it not? I just have to sit with that every so often. How does one come back from that place of horror?

At other times, the circumstances are less finite. Lately two women have come into our circle who have each lost one of their twins in utero and have each been given such horrendous information, such shoddy care that I want to rage at their incompetent doctors. I want to spit nails. Into their faces. One woman was told to abort her surviving twin because the baby may end up with the same defects that the lost twin has.

The other woman was told that she didn't need to see a specialist because she only had one viable baby now, so it was essentially a singleton pregnancy.

Wait. What??

Yes, yes, pay no attention to the dead baby in the uterus. Don't worry about the extra set of umbilical cords. It's nothing. really.

I have to write this here because there is no other place to express my disgust . I try to remain measured and constructive over "there" but they don't know about this. So, here, I can bubble over with fury at these shitty, dismissive so-called professionals who with their ignorance and neglect alter the trajectory of lives from this point to infinity. Those babies are never coming back. Those mothers are never coming back.

Even from my own small vantage point, I, too, am never coming back. 

Friday, February 05, 2010

Changes and Challenges

One of the many things with which I credit Eva is my modest workout regimen. I am no gym rat, nor am I completely new to exercise, but I value my health in ways I did not before losing her, so I go. And perhaps more importantly, I need that space and the catharsis that I get from channeling my anger constructively. I can't tell how many times I have cried for her on the way back to the office after a workout. I actually do a little running (though perhaps "running" is an overstatement), which in my chubby, misspent youth was nothing short of unthinkable. I was always the penultimate (yeah, cuz I'm about vocabulary) person to come in from a PE-mandated run in high school (I want a paper bag to breathe into just thinking about it). The one person behind me probably had a good 40 or 50 pounds on me. Well, thirty, at least!

Sadly, I get the most movement from the front torso region (more on that later), especially if I get to the bottom of my sports bra stack, like I did a couple of days ago. And lest my reader (no, that's not a typo) think I am utterly hopeless in this endeavor, let me share this: I have a talent, actually, for one part of the whole exercise thing. I am excellent at sweating. I sweat profusely and with abandon. I sweat when I tie my shoes. I turn purple when I reach around to do battle with my bra clasps. I, dear reader, am a world-class perspiration machine. If there was a cost-effective and portable desalination solution, I could irrigate California's Central Valley and solve their problems. No need to thank me.

But it's not all Nobel-worthy. There, too, is the dilemma of undressing and showering at the gym. Books could surely be written about this -- the timing, the strategizing, the order of clothing removal and textile reCOVERy. Angles! As I scurried today from the shower to my locker, I noted mentally that I had a very short window to dress before someone came out of one of the other shower stalls. I had to decide if I should maneuver the dressing-while-toweled approach, which is modest, but clumsy and potentially injurious, versus the dropping the towel and speed-dressing while still damp method, which is riskier but faster. I went with the latter and was yanking my sweater down victoriously just as the other woman emerged. She, incidentally, is a towel-dresser (better balance). The worst part of this for me is changing bras. At the risk of getting too graphic, pregnancy and breast-feeding and yo-yoing weight  have taken their toll on the old ta-tas. Frankly, I need to do a little scooping action when applying the brassiere garment and that's putting it mildly. Sometimes it feels more like origami to tuck the girls in properly. I am a little self-conscious about this, if you must know.

So there you have it, the weepy, the drippy, and the droopy.