Monday, March 22, 2010


Tomorrow will be the anniversary, not of Eva's death, but of her first operation. On this day, three years ago at right about this time of day, I sat by her isolette, crying. Those tears came as a surprise, but once they started, I couldn't stop them for a long time. I didn't know why I was crying at the time, and I have only scarcely a clue now. I think it was just nerves, the mounting pressure, postpartum hormones and the sheer effort of having held my breath in anticipation and fear for those many months. I remember that I was sitting next to a woman who seemed kind and chipper. She was with her eighth child, I believe, a boy who had been in the NICU for months and months. I felt self-conscious crying next to this woman, and weak, while from her phone she doled out chores to her older children with pleasant efficiency and matter-of-factness.  The other possibility for why I was crying is that somehow I knew that rather than being at the nadir of this road, as I had consciously believed, some part of my being suspected that I had not yet learned what a nadir truly was.

On this evening three years ago, I held my daughter. Her head was in the crook of my left arm. The cords were draped over my forearm. She was a heavy 4lb 9oz baby (though by then she probably was a little less). I was surprised at how she seemed to sink into me when I held her. I was smiling, beaming really. I was confident. She was holding her stats steady, so I was allowed to continue to hold her as the doctors stood over us and informed us that her surgery would take place the next morning, first case. They would be doing a less invasive surgery because they, too, were confident about her chances. We were relieved and excited. We would finally start our climb to higher ground and put the nightmare behind us.

We never believed in anything other than a full recovery for Eva. We fantasized about bringing her home. It was all we fantasized about. I've never felt complete conviction like that before and I probably never will again.

Last night, our carefree Pro.ject Run.way viewing was interrupted by a commercial that rehashed the well-worn "fighter" conceit. You know how it goes. We're fighters, so we win. We beat [choose your disaster]. We conquer [fill in the calamity]. It reminded me of how one of Eva's doctors in the PICU called her that -- a fighter-- said he'd never seen a baby so small fight so hard.  And that word and that commercial became a trap door that I fell through last night, because calling her a fighter meant fuck all in the end. In the meantime, here, all around us, are fighters who did win/conquer/succeed/overcome. I am attacked by those stories of gut-listening, those gloating successes that pose as cautionary tales and I want to do violence, but of course, I am not enough of a fighter. I just didn't need any further reminders.

The dark clouds brewing within think that all the fighting and listening and advocating are probably unrelated or at best only tangentially related to one's outcome. The universe is random and cruel.  Faith is a waste of time and energy. We have no control and we do not understand. I have no control and I do not understand. In this case, with this child, we did not conquer. We were conquered. All that remains is what we do now.


  1. Oh that commercial. Sadly I don't think being a fighter, or positive thinking, or praying, or wishing, or feeling it in your guts come into the equation. They all add up to sweet FA as far as I can see. I only wish that they did mean something. I think it is extremely cruel to suggest that they might. It is all just random chaos.

    I can only echo you 'I have no control and I do not understand.'

    Thinking of you and Eva tomorrow.

  2. I remember our favorite nurse in the hospital in Portland telling me she had a good feeling about Teddy, how that made me smile and hope. Thinking of you and Eva and wishing that fighting and praying and hoping meant more.

  3. This post just took the wind out of me. One of my biggest fears in pursuing IVF is not not being able to conceive, it is being able to conceive and somehow losing the child. I am so sorry for your loss. I grieve over the loss of my own fertility daily, but it is not a loss that even begins to compare to yours. I truly hope you can figure out what happens next; after you've lost the fight. I am just so sorry...