Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Strength to strength

I haven't really felt like writing lately.  I've been way too pensive  and being rendered trapped by a pathetic amount of snow and ice hasn't helped at all.  From the weekend of the 26th of November, Scotland became a frozen wasteland that saw flights grounded, trains halted and highways turned into parking lots.  I went into work one day and it took my travel companion and I over 3 hours to get in.  That day was the only time I went in for two weeks.  So yeah, I had A LOT of alone time, which wasn't a great thing.  It wasn't always a bad thing, but perhaps I could have done without it.

Luckily, I was fortunate enough to go to Nottingham before Scotland froze over and Dave and I made it to London when things began to thaw.  I had a really good time in Nottingham seeing my friends and catching up and saying goodbye for a while.  London, though, took the cake.  I had one of the best times in the capital EVER.  Between seeing Billy Connelly in Boots and Jaime Bamber at Koya in Soho, walking through new areas in London, eating some beautiful meals and visiting the Victoria and Albert Museum, I had a fantastic time catching up with friends, meeting new people and seeing facets of the life I left behind and the life I want to have in the future.  I am a city girl, through and through, and it begs belief that I tried to convince myself that anything else could havebeen enough.  So while I was talking to interesting (and attractive - WOW!) people in cool locales about art, culture, travel and social politics, I felt so happy.  In fact, while saying goodbye to our gracious hosts, I got a major lump in my throat.  I wish I took more pictures to remember the happiness and wonder my heart felt.

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Christmas is coming and I'm still not looking forward to it.  My attitude has been lacklustre to say the least and I'll try to play the role of happy Ms. to make everyone else more comfortable, but part of me wants to buy a box set (preferably Grey's Anatomy), bake an apple pie and lock myself in a dark and quiet room for 2 days.  I try to shake off this feeling because I'll be with my extended family and I love them and I'm leaving them, but I can't lie - there's a baby sized hole in my heart and all the tinsel and stuffing in the world isn't going to fix it.  I can't help but think that at this time last year, we were working on making a baby.  Right before New Year's Eve, we conceived her.  So yeah, it's hard.

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I now have 7 days left at work and people have been asking me if I'm counting down.  Why yes, yes, I am.  I don't intend to ever work with students again.

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If anyone would have asked me what I wanted for xmas or a goodbye gift, I would have told them a donation to SANDS in Isla's name would have been perfect.

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I'm going to miss Dave like crazy while we're seperated.  I'm not sure how I'll go 3 months without looking into his beautiful hazel eyes.  I know I'll have a fantastic time repatriating, but I'll miss my husband.  Sometimes the only thing that helps snap me out of a bad spell is one of Dave's hugs.  I keep telling myself I'll be over there laying the foundation for our future.  He'll be with me soon enough.

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I no longer want to talk about regrets.  It's a road Dave and I go down too often and it doesn't help anyone or anything.  I can no longer think of how our lives could have looked like had we not moved to Dave's hometown. We could have been in London or in Canada.  We would have had a better experience as a newlywed couple.  We should have taken that job opportunity or moved to Canada sooner.  I think we both think that if things were different and I was happier, perhaps we wouldn't have lost our daughter.  Coulda, woulda, shoulda.  Don't want to do that anymore.

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We have so much to look forward to.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Getting back to svelte

I have a confession to make.

I've been counting calories.

I know, I know.  I shouldn't do it; just keep eating the healthy foods I've been eating for the last 5 years, decrease my portion sizes and hit the gym.

Sigh.

If only it were that simple.

Let’s see. Well, I’m 32. I stopped running about 10 months ago. I started eating bigger portions 3 years ago (since leaving Japan). I work at a desk job where I’m only on my feet for a few minutes at a time during the workday. I had an angel baby. I love food.

I do eat quite healthfully though. I eat good fats, lean meats, plenty of fruit and veg, loads of water, moderate carbs (very little white stuff), no processed foods-all that good stuff. I’ve been at the gym 3xweek without fail since September doing cardio and strength training. But I’ve only lost one kilo.

One fracking kilo.

So I’m on a mission. I now have 9 months to get my body like whoa for Caribana, or at the very least, make it so I don’t get arrested for indecent exposure. My girl introduced me to My Fitness Pal to help me see where I’ve gone wrong. And damned if I didn’t go wrong by at least 800 calories.

I also learned that I need to change my gym routine as per this Oprah article. That means more cardio! I’m going to build up my running stamina again (I had to quit due to my wonky knee) so that should help. Unfortunately for me, my work gym will be closing on December 10th (right in the middle of the eating season!) so that sucks zee balls. BUT, luckily my sis, whom I’ll be living with very soon, lives across the street from the gym. So if you can’t find me, I’ll be there.

Working out and minding my food has the added benefit of giving me focus during my mind-boggingly dull days and keeps me from thinking sad thoughts. It’s a good thing, I swear!  I actually feel quite powerful when I'm pushing my body.  Like I'm back in control.  And for a type A gal such as myself, it's a very good place to be.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Laughing Out Loud

It's not always long faces and tears in our home.  Dave and I love to laugh.  Who doesn't?  Our senses of humour are very much in tune and he's very good at eliciting at least a giggle out of me.  Lately, I've been actively looking for sources of mirth.  Here's what has been putting a smile on my face:


Despite this movie being ridiculous, it had some funny bits.  Let me say, I cannot wait to watch 30 Rock again!



This song always has me jumping at my chair at work. I love how JW calls Blaze and he's like "What?! She gave you work??!?!" And the Cookie monster looking fella?! Soca videos have come a looooong way since my high school days.



I've always appreciated British comedy since watching it on the CBC from time to time, but my like for it has grown.  Dave introduced me to this guy Limmy when he had a show on the Beeb.  Maybe you have to be in Scotland to fully appreciate it, but if you're not Scottish and can understand every word, please let me know.  You might also enjoy this (not much talking), this and this.  If you also have the chance, I recommend "The Inbetweeners" a very funny and very dirty show about boys in high school.  Dave actually cringes when he watches it.



Antoine Dodson.  You never fail to make me smile. And cringe a little. From the good ole US of A.



I've got nothing but love for JT! And The Roots! And Jimmy Fallon! Loved this. I seriously wish I was there.

And last but not least:


Anything Andy Samberg does, I will most likely love. "Poseidon, look at me!" Please, you must watch all the Lonely Island videos.  Don't forget "Dick in a Box" with JT, Natalie Portman's rap, and "Like a Boss."

Good times, no?  You're welcome.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

6 Mois

It has been exactly 6 months since we lost her. I still love her and think about her every day.

The pain is still there, but less obtrusive, more like full bodied arthritis rather than a coma. But I’m getting better. Planning for our move has helped pass the time and given me a focus that I had previously thought impossible.

I still weep, but the jags are shorter and cleaner.

Last week, Dave told me that I was becoming a negative person, one filled with anger, fear and jealousy. Whereas I was once optimistic, my lack of faith was darkening my views and my attitude. He was right. I don’t want to be that person.

So I’m more conscious of how fortunate I am and how much my light our daughter brought to our life. I’ve started talking to her to help strengthen me. “Hi Isla. I love you and miss you. I’ll try to have a good day and hug your daddy a lot.”

Lara mentioned that it does get easier. She’s right. I’ll have my bad days, intense and dark, but thankfully they’re shorter.

I bought these roses, similar to the ones I bought for her funeral, to have something beautiful that reminds me of her. I used to hate roses. Now I don’t.

Friday, 5 November 2010

In the meantime

The other day I received an email from an old friend whom I haven't seen in a very long time.  Her subject heading was "Love" and in her very sweet email, she quoted Dr.Phil, via Oprah: "Time doesn't heal all wounds; it's what you do with time that helps with the healing."

It has been nearly 6 months since we lost our daughter.  It's still hard, it's still heartbreaking, but I feel it has been getting easier to accept our loss.  Granted, planning our move to T.O. has been a driving force in my recovery, but it has been helpful to plan for the future since our plans for our daughter were ruined.

I still think about her every day.  I still cry and I'm still grieving.  I still smell her little hat but am dismayed that it no longer smells of her.  But I'm trying so hard to make my life better.  I don't want to mourn our baby and feel like shit every day.  Rather, I want to live for her.

I don't think I believe in guardian angels and people watching down on us.  When I've said things like "Isla would want us to be happy", I must admit, the words sounded hollow to my ears and tasted like sawdust on my tongue.  I think what I really feel is the beauty I experienced when Isla was inside me was achingly sublime, so much so that I want to experience again and again in my life.  If I'm lucky enough to bear our progeny sometime in the future, I would be able to feel that specific pleasure again, though it would be different from the first deliciously naive time because it will be coated in fear and anxiety.  No, I want to feel that wonderment and love continually in my life in other ways.  So in wanting to live for her, I would essentially be living for myself and being more responsbile for myself rather than hoping that someone "out there" has my back and that everything will just work out.

I'm feeling that next year, 2011, will be the year that I change the rest of my life.  I've been a passenger for too long, complacent with things and people that were unsatisfying but needed because I simply had no choice.  When I received that email with that quote, I realized that I can't get anywhere by scratching out the days of the calendar, gliding through this grief thing until I would get to the point where I'd say "it has been x amount of months/years; I should be better by now."  I need to add dimensions to my life so that I can start living it again and thus, get to a place where I feel like I've healed and be in the midst of leading an authentic life I can be proud of.  Right now, I'm not proud of myself.  Some days, I truly hate myself.

People have started to ask me if and when I'd like to try for a baby again.  I tell them that I'm not ready and moving back home and starting all over again has thankfully taken the pressure off.  In the meantime, I'm hoping I can gain a satisfaction with myself and what I'm doing during these days between hell and heaven.  If heaven does exist and my little girl is looking down on me, I'd hope that she'd feel happy that her mommy was doing A-OK.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Cooking Porn Stars

Whilst living in Japan, I would sometimes indulge in what I labelled cooking porn.  This was the kind of programme where someone would cook and/or sample food and would have food-gasms over what they've imbibed or ingested.  The eater would close their eyes and squeal "Oishii!" (delicious) and make facial gestures similar to those expressed when feeling physical pleasure.  These kinds of programmes or segments were really popular on TV and my friends and I would emulate these people whenever we'd eat something ridiculously delicious (I tried to find an example on You Tube but I couldn't find anything appropriate).  Little did I know that this was the start of an obsession with watching cooking on TV.

Anyone who knows me knows I love to eat and I love food.  I've turned into a foodie groupie and tend to watch cooking shows a lot.  One of my favourites is the British MasterChef.  A little birdie back home told me that Gordon Ramsey has produced MasterChef for US audiences and I was a little chagrined.  Firstly because Gordon Ramsey is SO ANNOYING, and secondly, the UK show kicks ass and I will watch that ish three times a week when it's a new season.

A couple os Saturdays ago, we were forunate enough to score free tix to the GoodFood Show in Glasgow (ah, the perks of being married to a journalist) and I got to see the stars of MasterChef LIVE!  The permanent judges are John Torode and (sigh) Gregg Wallace.  Now, I don't know what it is about this bald, tubby, dimpled Cockney bastard, but he had my heart thumping when I saw him on Saturday.  I proceeded to stalk his ass, though I never quite got the balls to throw my panties at him, or more sanely, buy some MasterChef plonk and have him sign it.  Dave thought I was a little insane, but meh, what are you going to do?


Gregg (and John) signing some MC merc.
Gregg and John playing up to the audience.

Gregg's big old head.
Gregg's big old belly.
Dhruv Baker, 2010 MC winner and quite the looker.
Of course, MasterChef LIVE wasn't the only thing going on that day.  Dave and I sampled loads of food, cheese, desserts and alcohol.  There were cooking demonstrations, celebrity chefs roaming around, product demos and loads more.  We showed remarkable restraint and didn't buy everything we tasted, though Dave still bemoans the fact that he didn't buy that delicious Lanarkshire blue cheese he eschewed in favour of an oniony cheddar.  You live and learn.  Some more sights from our day:

My media pass.
Sampling some delicious wheat beer.

A cooking demo with seafood.

The SECC was jam packed!



Cooking classes for £10 a pop and all sold out.

Said cooking class.

Fresh seafood (the langoustine at the top was moving!)
For the first time in several months, Dave and I genuinely enjoyed ourselves for hours.  The irony is that the venue, the SECC, was the same place we visited some months ago when it was hosting a baby show.  This was not lost on us, particularly when I cried my eyes out some hours later.  Sigh.  You gain a little, you lose a little.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Sponsor This!

As I've recently announced, I will be leaving the UK and moving back to Canada. Can I get a woot?! We decided some months ago that all the sadness and misery we have experienced since moving to the UK is just not worth it. Don’t get me wrong: I think Scotland is a beautiful country, but it’s not for me. I need something bigger and more diverse and definitely closer to my loved ones. One of the biggest things I’ve learned over the last few months is that I need my people. My mom, sisters, sista-friends – they are my heart and soul. Of course, Dave has the number one spot in my life, but we both know that he can’t be everything to me, just like he can’t expect me to be everything to him. So we’re moving to the Great White North. Unfortunately, we won’t be living in my beloved Montreal, but we’re going for the consolation prize: Toronto.

Given that I’m a true blue Montréalaise, I have given into the Toronto-Montreal rivalry in the past. It’s just something that is ingrained in you when you’re born. I mean, it even has its own Wiki page. Montrealers are (very generally) sophisticated, laid back, culturally inclined and blasé about sex and drugs, but definitely serious about chilled out parties and great food. The city itself is very European with a lot of French influence as seen in the old buildings, grand churches and cobbled roads in some districts. Torontonians, on the other hand, are more serious about work, a bit uptight but are really tolerant of others. And as for the city... well, quite truthfully, I don’t know much about it. I’ve been to Toronto hundreds of times, but I really don’t know it. And that goes for Torontonians as well. I don’t have any friends who are native Torontonians. I know quite a few people who have jumped ship from the sometimes frustrating place that is Montreal (especially for young Anglophones) to the big pond of the “Big Smoke”, but I don't know a soul who was born and raised there. So while Toronto will be something familiar, it will be something new. And I’m going to totally embrace my new home.

I’ll be moving over in January and I will be going alone. My sweet husband will be staying behind whilst I get our new life started up. I’ll be looking for a job (started that process already) and then finding a flat for us to live in. He’ll move in with his parents, save a few paycheques then come over in a few months time. To get from here to there, we’ve had to put in a lot of time, money and effort in preparing his application for permanent* residency. Part of that application was to supply information that would prove I would be a suitable sponsor. Luckily, since I earn money, have money saved, am not a drain on society and I’m a Canadian citizen, I have been approved to sponsor my beloved. It took about a month to get this approval and this was the relatively easy part. Now we must wait to find out if Immigration believes our relationship is actually genuine. I’ll get into all the hoops we’ve had to jump through (so far) to prove that we are actually in a committed relationship rather than a marriage of convenience. Oy. Cue massive eye-rolling.

*Permanent. I just love that word. Finally, I will have a permanent address again. This will be our final port of call. No more temporary, furnished flats. No more moving countries. This is it!

Sunday, 24 October 2010

Disappointment

It is so sad to be disappointed – by life, by friends and by family. Of course it’s a natural thing, very human, but it’s sad all the same. I just consider it a fact of life. I used to get disappointed quite a lot as a child and after a certain point, I decided to roll with it. Shit happens, right? It stings, but if you apply a little balm (retail therapy, a good cry or moan), it is usually a temporary affliction for me.

The disappointment of losing Isla was crushing, of course, but the thing I didn’t really expect were people’s reactions to us. Let me be clear – a death in a family, especially a death of a child, is an incredibly difficult, awkward, weird thing to be a part of. I’ve lost both a parent and a child and let me tell you, losing a baby is the kind of thing that properly puts the shits up people. And I knew that. But I had no idea how disappointing people could be when you needed support the most.

When some people disappoint you (e.g. colleagues, acquaintances), you kinda just take it with a grain of salt. Sure, it hurts when people that you’re friendly with walk the other way when they see you coming towards them or pretend they don’t see you. And you know they did. Ouch. But you tend to think to yourself “Well, they ain’t shit anyway.”  Then there are those who talked to you nearly every day about your pregnancy but suddenly found the weather much, much more interesting. And you tend to think to yourself “Ouch, but oh well, it’s a hard topic and we’re not that close anyway.” And then there are the others that break your heart in a million different ways when you dare think about how they have disappointed you during the worst time in your life. I’m not going to single anyone out but their faces are there in my brain, as sharp as stiletto knife. And it hurts so much.

I’m not sure if lost baby mamas feel the same as me, but when someone hurts you purposely or passively after your loss, it feels as if they didn’t consider the loss as anything of real importance. With me, the central message is one of two: 1. “Because your baby wasn’t full term and because we didn’t get to meet her, she doesn’t hold the same importance as a “real” baby. So I’m just going to shit on you and/or totally ignore this barely inconsequential event.” And 2: “This is way too hard to deal with and I can see/hear that you’re in a lot of pain, but I’m going to be totally selfish and not going to go there with you even though I know you well enough to know that you would like to.” While this isn’t said or expressed obviously, actions speak louder than words.

I heard somewhere that “forgiveness liberates the soul”. I can’t forgive this type of disappointment. Not yet anyway. So I focus on the love we received over the past few months. My friends have been amazing. Truly breathtaking. They have been there for me in the truest sense of the world. In my darkest days, when contemplating suicide was less pie in the sky and more lining up the 5Ws, their being there helped to keep me going. They came through with texts, emails, phone calls, FB messages, SKYPE time and they were amazing, even when they weren’t trying very hard.  I found this pic on http://www.postsecret.com/ and thought it was so accurate.  So, so true.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Homeward Bound

So that’s it.

After:

5 years
3 countries
4 addresses
3 passports
4 jobs
2 weddings
23 flights
2 cell phones
60,783,394 tears

I’m going home. A new home, and a permanent one at that. Goodbye UK, hello T.O. See you on the flipside on January 13th 2011.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

One note

I realize it has been a little one note here lately, as it's reflecting what's going on in my brain. But believe it or not, there are some breaks between the grief.

Dave and I took a lot of walks and a lot of drives and saw and ate many beautiful things.  In some ways, driving around Scotland has been restorative.  It is such a beautiful country.  The weather usually sucks balls, but the landscape is W-O-W.  I especially love all the animals that dot the country side.  As much as I'm a city girl, I do like spending time in the country (but as Dave will attest, not too much time!).

This past summer, we were lucky enough to get a free stay in a posh hotel (all the bells and whistles included) and it was in the very pretty area of Pertshire.  We ate and drank a lot and genuinely enjoyed each other's company.  We sped down winding country roads and walked around in the rain.  The pic at the beginning of this post was taken on one of our jaunts.

The pic to the right is of the grounds of the hotel where we stayed.  There was even a lake the back of the property and it was truly stunning.

In addition to getting close to nature, we kayaked, went hill walking and mountain climbing, did some touristy stuff, ate a lot of great food and talked a lot.  I think we're starting to heal. 

I'm not feeling particularly word today so I'll let the pictures do the talking:


Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Good ole Edinburgh Castle



My beardy honey in a kayak

Moi

I can't remember where we were.


Thursday, 7 October 2010

OPP (Other People's Pregnancies or Other Pregnant People)



Me on the rocks, taken in Dysart by my very talented SIL
  This is a bit hard to express in mere words, but I will try my best. 

When I was released from the hospital and left the building without our baby, we passed a heavily pregnant woman.  I crumpled into a quivering mess of tears and snot and needed Dave to prop me up so that we could make it to the car.  In that moment, I wanted to be someone else rather than who I had become: a DBB*.

From then on, my perception of pregnant women has radically changed. Whereas once I was indifferent (before pregnancy), I became awed and curious (during pregnancy) then finally, anxious, nervous and envious (after pregnancy). When I would see a preggo lady waddling towards me, I would avert my eyes and try to not guess where she might be in her pregnancy and not think of where I would be in mine at that time. I would also get really, really nervous for her. I’d mentally scream out warnings – “Hey you! Be careful! Love that baby every day because you might lose him or her, like I did!” Or, “Did you know that I’m part of the 1% of pregnancies that end in the second trimester?! I didn’t know it could happen but it did, so I hope to goodness it doesn’t happen to you!!” Of course I didn’t yell these things out, but I really, really wanted to.

Inevitably, OPP hit closer to home. As a woman in her early 30’s, it’s just a fact that you would know at least one other woman who is pregnant at the same time as you. I had three. It was all peaches and cream until WHAM! I wasn’t pregnant anymore. And that was hard. One person was a co-worker. She had her baby shortly after I had mine so I haven’t had to see her. Another is a close friend who went into labour I think shortly after I did. When I went home, I decided I couldn’t see her and be near her newly arrived daughter, her first born.  We have just resumed phone calls, though she was reaching out through email over the last few months. And lastly, the other woman is my BFF who was about 8 months pregnant when I went home and saw her. For this visit, we opted to prepare each other for our first meeting in a year when so much had happened. Seriously, it was like getting ready for a middleweight fight. But in the end, meeting my BFF was good. We hugged and I felt her huge belly between us but luckily, that was the only thing that was in the middle. Thank goodness no other "stuff" made it's way between us. I’m grateful that the first pregnant person I had contact with was her. I don’t think I could have reached that milestone with anyone else.

So now, nearly 5 months later, it’s still hard, but I’m trying my best. My friend at work is pregnant and now noticeably so, so it’s in my face at least 5 days a week. Am I happy for her? Of course. She’s been trying for this baby and I’m happy she has this chance to partake in this miracle. Am I sad for myself? Most definitely because we had previously planned on getting pregnant together and spending maternity leave at each other's flats.  But I can’t stop the world from turning.  I only hope I can feel that phenomenon again.

The one type of OPP I can feel thrilled for without reservation is a DBB who becomes pregnant again. There is a woman in our support group who is pregnant again after losing triplets last year. When she told me her news, I burst into tears of joy and hugged her. I barely know her but I can understand where she is mentally. As a purely selfish gesture, I asked if I could feel her belly (very uncharacteristic of me). I just needed to feel that life after so many weeks of the oppressiveness of death. She obliged me and I was transported to when I was at that stage of my pregnancy. And it made me feel warm about OPP and so happy that bitterness and jealously hasn’t enveloped my heart.

*DBB is Dead Baby Mama, shorthand in the parental bereavement community. I will not let it define me.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Purge

Here I am, back again. And I’m ready to purge.

I am so, so happy September is finally over. The last few months have been the darkest, saddest, most challenging period of my life, but September was particularly bad because it was my due month. I don’t really believe in due dates, but mine was September 12th. The whole month was rough because I was back at work when I shouldn’t have been, doing insignificant tasks when I should have been home basking in the wonderment of my baby. That hurt a lot. All I wanted was for September 2010 to finish so that I would never have to go through it again.

Over the last month, I did a lot of thinking, a lot of navel gazing. I looked within my heart, listened to myself, and grieved for our little girl. I’ve become better at hiding my true feelings at work, but wearing a mask all day is taxing. I’d cry on the train ride home, relieved that I didn’t have to pretend anymore, alone with my thoughts. But something toxic was gurgling within me and either in reaction to this or independent of it, Dave felt it too. And something toxic entered our marriage. We grew short with each other, cold with each other, wanting to turn away from each other when we had been so good at leaning on each other. All my mask-wearing in the day gave way to annoyance and anger at night. Sometimes, I could hardly stand the sight of my husband and he felt the same way about me. We separately wanted to be alone and away from each other. I’ve repeatedly heard that people divorce after the death of the child. I saw all too clearly why. We’re the only ones with such intimate knowledge of what happened leading up to, including and after Isla died, and that created a lot of pressure. I’m the only one Dave can really talk to about what happened. He’s the one I talk to most about what happened. That meant we were talking about it ALL THE TIME. And why wouldn’t we? It’s the defining thing in our lives RIGHT NOW, and maybe FOREVER. It was big, it IS big. It was consuming us as individuals and our life as family.

On our due date, I decided that I wanted to move on. I told Dave, which made it more real. I’m not saying I want to forget because you really can’t; every time I touch my stomach I remember, for goodness sake. But I want to get over the depression and the sense of loss. I know that it’s a hard process, but I felt ready to attempt it. I think it was a positive first step and I’ve given myself allowances (example, get really, really sad when I feel a cloud coming and tell everyone to stay the f*ck out of my way), however, it wasn't all sunshine and roses. There was something else sticking in the craw. I didn’t know what it was, but it was there and it was starting to suffocate our relationship.

I didn’t want to go to the SANDS support meeting last Friday, but Dave gently pushed me to. The group is so good because it lets you be you and the old-timers (the ones who have had losses several years ago) are so helpful and knowledgeable. I felt comfortable asking them about what their relationship with their partner looked like after their loss and mentioned that Dave and I were having problems (yes, he was right beside me). We (including Dave) talked about our recent backbiting and he gave me a new nickname right there – “The Escalator”, meaning when we argue, I tend to step it up a notch, which is quite apt. I acknowledged that I did indeed do this, often in reaction to Dave’s grumpiness. I mentioned that Dave said we talk about what happened a whopping 98% of the time and Jenny, a befriender and a woman I have been spending a lot of time with lately, said the most profound thing:

“You talk about it so much and it has become the centre of your lives because there was supposed to be a person here who was to be the centre of your lives.”

I sat on this for a second, but I knew that it was so accurate, so right, that I immediately began to cry. A lot. And loudly. And I couldn’t stop. Because it was so, so true.

We left the room to go outside to get some fresh air, me crying every step of the way. Isla was supposed to be here but she isn’t and we talk about the trauma so much because we don’t have her. In the recent past, when Dave said he felt I focused on it too much, I would blow up and tell him that I have nothing else! Hardly no friends, no life, nothing to look forward to or distract myself with. This was all I had – a baby gone too soon and broken hopes and dreams! So when I started crying, I knew in my heart what Jenny said was true. And I cried for a solid 15 minutes and I felt like I was back at day one.

Eventually the tears became more gradual and then finally stopped and a peace settled, the kind you get from a breakthrough and a deep acknowledgement. As we drove home, Dave said “we didn’t have a baby, so our grief has become our child” and it’s too true. We’ve nurtured that sucker like there’s no tomorrow. And now it’s time to let go. I want to let go. He wants to let go. It’s time.

I know every person’s grief pattern and schedule is different and I’m not trying to come off like it was some miracle because it ain’t. It’s not over, but now I’m working towards when it will be, whenever that is.

I hope this makes sense. I feel a bit rusty in regards to writing right now, but I’ve been spilling all over my diary and feel ready to put it out there again.

So I’m ready to climb that mountain again, this time better prepared. I’m allowed to stop and rest, take in the view, go backwards and then march on. I muddle through the tricky bits, navigating my own path, noting that whatever route I take will be right for me. I don’t know what will be at the top, but I now feel better prepared to embark on that journey.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Navel gazing

Hi y'all.  I've been a bit quiet for some time now, not because anything has been wrong (well, more wrong than usual), but because I've been looking inward.  I've had some brilliant days where I've felt powerful and strong and I have had dark days where I've just broken down.  I've been kayaking, climbed an extinct volcano, found strength through the support of a befriender and support group and have made the plans that are sustaining me.  I have been thinking about the future and harvesting hope.  I've been grieving for our little girl and the future we dreamed of.  I'm learning a lot.

I haven't felt like writing much lately just because I couldn't find the right words.  I write in my notebook when the feeling hits and it's like a release.  I sit down and cry when the feeling hits and it's like a release.  I close my eyes and daydream when the feeling hits and it's like a release.  I'm growing a lot.

I'll be back soon.  I promise.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Lion-hearted girl

My preffered haunt for jogging is a glorious park near us.  It has a couple of soccer pitches, a rose garden, a fountain, a swan and duck pond and loads of trees.  There is a woodland trail as well and a couple of hills thrown in for a little challenge.  It was where I imagined taking Isla during those long, endless afternoons I was supposed to enjoy during my maternity leave.  I imagined pushing her stroller while listening to good tunes on my iPod while she dozed.  I fantasized about taking her to see the wildlife and teaching her how to pronounce their names.  There would be other walks and short trips to mix it up (hey, variety is the spice of life), but I knew this park would be our favourite place to while away the hours.  I thought about all this as I passed the swings and children's area in the park during my jog Friday afternoon.  I started to feel THE SADNESS and began to slow down when a man ran past me and gave me a "hey" and a friendly jogger's wave.  He spurred me on without realizing it and I kept going whilst listening to Florence + the Machine's Rabbit Heart, singing along: "I wish that I could just be brave.  I must become the lion-hearted girl, ready for a fight..."

This morning Dave and I left the flat, heading to the park for a late morning jog, when I tripped over the pavement and fell hard on grass and gravel, skinning me knee and hand, knocking the breath out of me.  A lady asked if I was alright and Dave told me that we should go back to the flat and rest.  After assessing my bloodied knee and ascertaining that my weak ankles were not damaged, I told him that we should keep going.  So he helped me get up, I brushed myself off and that's what we did.

I guess those two anecdotes basically illustrate how I've been handling grieving for our little girl.  Each time I despair and weep and feel like sleeping forever, I feel it and then brush it off and keep going.  I'm sure I'm stronger for it.  Every time I break down and every time I tell someone else that yes, I had the baby, but she died, I feel like I'm becoming that lion-hearted girl.  Laughing helps and so does running.  Hugging and crying also help to soothe the pain.  I think about my pregnancy so fondly.  I loved that time my daughter and I shared.  Her somersaults and kicks and punches, letting me know that she was alive and growing.  I absolutely hate that she's gone, along with her future, her potential and her place in the world.  But I love that I was her mother for too brief a time.

I haven't weighed myself yet, but I suspect I'm getting close to my pre-pregnancy weight.  It was important to me to lose the weight I put on over the last few months because it seemed so sad to me to keep carrying the baby weight without the baby.  A sad empty belly with nothing to show for it.  Now that it's pretty flat again, I feel better and look back at my bump with fondness tinged with sadness; bittersweet in every sense of the word.

I've never really shared this pictures before, but I feel that  now it's right to:
Week 19
Week 21

Week 22 - Exactly 1 week before I gave birth to Isla

As the Brits say, I was carrying "neat".  My body was changing immensely, but I loved it.  I absolutely fucking loved it.  I feel stronger each day, but damn, sharing this was hard.  I think I'll sign off here.

BTW, I wanted to thank everyone who commented and discussed with me what I wrote in my previous post.  My new beliefs are helping me immensely through this process so thank you for your intelligent and respectful thoughts.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Why I don’t believe in God anymore

First, I want to preface this by saying what I’m about to write are my own personal feelings and are reflective of what I’m feeling right now. I realize that I might alienate some people, but mile + my shoes should = no judgment. I respect the opinions of others so please respect mine.

Ever since Dave and I lost our little girl, we’ve heard everything one can hear when they are grieving. Some have been helpful while others infuriate us. What pisses me off to no end is when people say what happened was God’s will and that God has a plan. I used to believe this when confronting setbacks in my own life and learning about the suffering of people I love. But like everything else in my world, that belief has been shot to hell. What kind of God kills little babies? Or for that matter, sits by while millions die and suffer through war, famine, pestilence, natural catastrophes? Or watches from above while people get raped, abused, shanked, tortured, waste away? I’ve believed in something greater than all of us for all my life, even when I eschewed religion for personal spirituality. I’ve meditated, prayed and was faithful. When I saw that + pregnancy test, I talked to God every day, thanking Him for the gift He gave me. I prayed with David (he is SO not into that) and went out of my way to light candles in churches. I even believed that if I were to miscarry in the first trimester, it would have been his will.

But then I went into labour. For no apparent reason. I was in agony where I leaked and writhed and bled and sobbed for naught. I prayed and prayed. Dave prayed and prayed. They obviously weren’t answered.

Since that day, I’ve felt abandoned. I couldn’t pray anymore. When family members spoke of God or prayer, I snorted and told them I couldn’t abide by such dogmatic mores. It was a confusing time for me. When I break down, I sometimes want to call out to Him, begging Him for strength to continue and to diminish my pain. Then I stop myself. I steady myself. I tell myself that I am strong and that I can continue and that I can lessen my pain. He wasn’t there for me when I most needed Him so from now on it’s just Me, Myself and I.

I’ve been speaking to a friend of a friend who suffered terribly when her baby boy was born stillborn. She lives on a farm and told me “You know, not every baby makes it.” And it hit me like a lightening bolt: we’re just animals, surviving in nature and we have no control over anything. Babies die, every day. For some reason or another, those little creatures so many of us want to have to teach, love and watch grow, are fragile. Pregnancy is a delicate process, one that is fraught with disasters waiting to happen at every corner. What happened to me wasn’t karma or the will of God. I now believe that our baby, and millions of babies around the world, died because of Nature. And that comforts me greatly. I can now walk down the street and step on cracks without fear of my mother’s back being broken. I can walk under a ladder, while breaking a mirror with a black cat under my arm on Friday the 13th.*

We’ve found out that Isla’ cause of death was simply prematurity while the cause of my premature labour will never be known. We also learned that I had contracted something called chorioamnionitis that threatened my life and would have led to me being induced in a nightmarish me vs. the baby scenario had I not gone into labour naturally. There was nothing wrong with me and there was nothing wrong with Isla. As the doctor said, there is nothing wrong with our ability to make life – we made a good baby.

So here I am. Thinking about the next time. Dealing with the fact that not only was I one of the 1% of pregnancies that end in the second trimester, but I was part of the 2% the catches that infection. Trying to wrap my head around the fact that my chances of going into pre-term labour again is increased. Believing in the power and mystery of nature – a phenomenon that is real and has no altar to beg on. It’s rather freeing, actually.

These days I feel stronger. I feel this way thanks in part to people who I’d previously been friendly with and had known about my pregnancy going out of their way not to meet my eye or change directions when I walk towards them. It makes me realize that they don’t matter and are not helpful in my life anyway. I’m finding that I take immense pleasure in that unexpected phone call or text or hug. I’m in love with the way my basil and mint plants are growing. I adore the taste of champagne and the feel of lingerie on my skin when I’m in bed. I believe in love, family, laughing, movies, sex, books, blogs, good food, good friends, the sun, the moon and the stars. I believe in me.




*Such superstitions are steeped in Christian ideology.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Smile

I've never been a smile-in-pictures kind of gal.  I have photos of myself when I was a young girl positively glowering down the lens.  It's actually kind of funny.  As I grew older, I became more adept at smiling for the camera and even "smizing" when the mood would strike.  These days, I'm finding it very difficult to stand in front of the camera and fake smile like everything is hunky dory.  I try anyway, as this picture taken the day after our anniversary can attest (we were at the Castlerigg Stone Circle in the Lake District).  That doesn't mean that I don't smile right now or feel moments of lightness.  It happens, even in the pit of grief, and I'm grateful for them.  I'm also very grateful that I married such a funny guy.  I've mentioned this several times on this blog - Dave is a very funny man.  He's a master of quipping, remembering jokes, doing impressions and doing silly things to make me laugh.  Even in the thick of our shit, he's made me guffaw.  I'll be feeling like absolute shit and he'll bust out an impression of Dave Chappelle doing Rick James.  Or he'll tickle me until I can't breathe.  Or hug me until I stop being irritated (which is an unfortunate manifestation of grief).  I couldn't do anything without him.  He knows exactly what I'm going through and he needs me to be well again so that we can have the future we fantasize about.

There are times when I forget about what happened.  This usually makes me feel guilty but it also brings relief.  On Friday night, we watched Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes and for two solid hours, I was fixated on a plot and set design and costumes and I felt good and light.  I cut out a pattern for a dress and concentrated on that.  I even manage to concentrate on work for 10-15 minutes at a time, which I consider promising.  I forget and I feel relief.  That's not to say that I want to forget what happened - I just sometimes need a break.

I also feel a lot of empathy towards others.  When a mate at work told me about his break up, I very nearly cried all over his nice shirt.  He felt bad about that, thinking he was complaining about his problems when I had major issues.  But I told him, everybody hurts.  Just because our baby died doesn't make me immune to feeling for others.  Someone close to me is going through a depression right now and I ache for her.  Rather than feeling like "girl, you don't know what depression is until your baby dies", I feel sad for her.  I know there are people who have been through what I have and their sympathy for others is completely gone and they actually wish terrible things on others.  I don't want to be like that.  I know that I am immeasurably changed and I can be totally self-centered and bitter right now, but if I lose that love I feel for others, I know I would be dead inside.  Without that love, hope would go and what be the point in living?

That being said, I can feel happiness for others while feeling misery for myself.  When a close friend told me she was pregnant, I felt an explosion of joy then I started crying and could not stop.  She had been trying for several months so I know this is a much desired baby.  And according to FB, my BFF had her baby and I want to call and leave a message on her answering machine, but I have to wait until my throat is less thick with tears.  Despite the sadness, I feel happiness in my heart and that comforts me.

I think another facet of my grieving process is taking care of myself physically.  It helps me feel like I'm healing physically which will in turn help me heal emotionally and mentally.  I''m running again as well as doing pilates.  I'm looking into acupuncture and I'm eating well.  It gives me something positive to focus on.

I'm currently reading "Empty Cradle, Broken Heart:  Surviving the Death of Your Baby" and it helps me to understand that it's hard and terrible and draining but that it's also normal.  There are several things that I'm taking away from this book, but the one I keep remembering is that I will never get over this.  Rather, I will come to terms with it and that realistic assessment gives me hope.  I never saw how you could get over the death of a child, but one day, you accept it and it's just a part of your life.  I'm working patiently towards that "one day".

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Ruins

It is very important to me to be as authentic and as honest as possible in all facets of my life.  I very rarely tell fibs, even to protect people's feelings because I believe in the power of truth.  I guess it's for this reason why I'm so honest on this blog, particularly now when I'm in so much pain.  It's a process, one that thankfully few people have to go through, but one that is not talked about enough. In helping myself work through this maze, I hope I speak to others to help them understand what it's like, or to assure them that they're not alone.

With that said, grieving is hard work.  It's physically and emotionally draining and you can feel like you're going crazy.  You can make positive progress then regress in a blink of the eye.  Last week was particularly bad.  I didn't go to work on Tuesday, just sat at home and cried. I know this is normal but I couldn't help but feel out of control in a very, very quiet way.  I cried a lot last week then I got my period which made it seem a lot worse (mind you, I haven't stopped bleeding for 8 weeks).  I thought a lot about death and dying and wondered if I'd ever feel the same again.  I know for sure that I'll never be like I was before.  My innocence is gone and I view the world with different lenses.  It sucks for sure.

My boss said a funny thing to me the other day during one of our now regular lengthy chats.  He said it appeared to him that my confidence was gone and I may want to consider a change of job where I'm not on the front line.  It was like he was in my head.  I have lost my confidence and I know I don't want to work with the public any longer, but in a way, it's a positive thing.  I know I'm ready for a career change and him saying that was like confirmation that I'm ready for something new.  I'm grateful for that.

I've been thinking about what I've learned over the last 2 months since my pregnancy was interrupted.  I think I'll write about that tomorrow.

Friday, 9 July 2010

365 Days

365 days ago, we said "I do" for the second time.  Today is our anniversary and there is no doubt I love David more now than when I did when I walked down the aisle.  We've been through so much in a year, more than what some people experience in a lifetime.  Our sincerest wish on this day is that our next year of matrimony will be far and away MUCH better than this last year.  Here's hoping.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Hot Mess

Today was a hard day.  I should have listened to my body and stayed in bed, but like the stubborn mule I am, I got up, showered and caught the train to work, telling myself it would be good to be out on a sunny day and have lunch with my friend/co-worker.

I'm not sure what exactly set me off, but I started crying after lunch and I could not stop.  I decided to go home and was walked out by my friend.  I tried to explain my feelings to her and I started crying as hard as I had when I realized the future we dreamed of was gone.  She held on to me and I held on to her, using her as my buoy.

I guess right now I'm feeling like I'm an absolute failure.  I feel real anxiety when my phone rings at work or someone mentions the programme I administer.  I'm fearful of running into certain people, much less talking to them about every day things like classes and induction.  I can't make decisions.  And I believe my feeling of inadequacy stems from the fact that I could not carry my baby to term and she died.  Rational?  No.  Normal?  From what I've been reading, yes, very.  I think about the last 7 months and I get flashbacks.  I see those grainy ultrasound images in my head and recall her perfect heart, kidneys, stomach, brain.  All wasted.  And I want fold into myself and stop being for a very long time.

It really is one day at a time.  On Monday, a co-worker of my mother-in-law came to talk to me about having gone through a similar situation and how she coped.  I hardly cried during our talk and she said she thought we were doing everything right during our process.  On Tuesday, I found out a friend of mine is pregnant and while I burst into red, hot tears I was and am genuinely happy for her.  No jealousy, just hope for her.  But today.  Ah.  Today was a hot, tranny mess.

I cannot articulate how difficult this is.  I'm looking for anything that will tell me how long it will take for this soul crushing sadness to subside.  I feel like such a pariah.  I make other people uncomfortable.  Hell, I make myself uncomfortable.  This week was supposed to be 30 weeks.  I cannot believe I'm part of 1%.  I will never, ever look at statistics the same way again.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Cliches and the future

I have been hearing a lot of cliches lately because at times of grief (or joy, for that matter) they always seem to make an appearance. I understand where they come from because I've often thought them when I've had nothing to say to someone during times of stress. Sometimes they are helpful, but usually not. I'm due to return back to work tomorrow on a very light schedule (basically, a phased return building up my days per week slowly over time) and I'm absolutely dreading meeting up with well meaning people who feel for me but have no idea what to say. I wish they could all relax around me and say something like "I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. It must be so difficult for you and I hope you get to a good place again sometime soon." And scene. Yep, that's it for me, particularly if I don't know you well. The worst thing they can do is launch into a bunch of overworked cliches and telling me horror stories I don't want to hear about, even if they result in a happy ending. I'm just not there.

Anyway, I think a slow return will be good for me. I like being home right now but I know I'll have to return one day. I'm grateful that at least it's summery and somewhat warm in the east of Scotland. It makes the days more easy to bear.

Another cliche that has been swimming around my head is one that was uttered in an episode of Sex and the City the other day. It was "life happens while you are making other plans". Normally when I have thought of this saying in the past, I have focused on the "plans" part in the hope that the "life" part could sort itself out. Now I'm flipping that on it's head. I'm hoping life will blossom for us while our new plan works itself out.

The road to Canada is being paved. Yes, we are getting everything together to get Dave his permanent resident visa. My current visa here runs out in April 2011 and I'm not renewing. So we are going to fill out the long and complicated forms, go through the medical and police checks (well Dave is), and pay the insane fees. It's not going to be quick or easy, but we hope to both be out of here before May next year. I will definitely write about this process.

I realize that this may appear that were running away, but I told Dave before we even got serious that Canada is my home and I would settle there. Happily, Dave always thought he'd end of up in North America so everything is gravy. We intended to return home with our baby, but since that didn't work out there's no point in spinning our wheels any longer. Rather than hightailing out of here without care, I'm hoping our remaining time here will be healing. I cross my fingers.

We've also decided not to try for another baby while we're here. This is a total 180 on my part. I felt like I wanted to try right away, but I know deep down that I won't be in a place to put myself through another pregnancy without my mind and heart being in a better place and without my family and friends rallying behind me. I'm comfortable with this decision and am focusing on a return to strength inside and out.

The above picture was taken from a design blog I frequent which originated here. "Nothing worthwhile is ever easy." Ain't that the truth. I hope this also becomes a truism for me:

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Diapers and Blood

Sorry for you, but this post has absolutely nothing to do with Gerberas or strawberries. I have reusable diapers and post-partum bleeding on my mind, and I might get TMI. So for the faint of heart, you've been warned.

Dave and I are trying to decide what to do with the reusable diapers (or nappies, for you Brits) we bought a couple of months ago at the Glasgow baby show. We decided to buy them so early because we were in the so-called "safe stage" (ha!) of the second trimester and because we got a deal, and anyone who knows me knows I'm a sucker for bargains. We bought 20 odd diapers in a myriad of colours and put them in the back of my closet to be broken out after the birth of our little one in September. We all know that ain't happening anymore, so what should we do with these diapers (they're Bum Genius, if you're wondering)? As of today, I don't think we (ok, I) won't be ready to try again for some time, but then again, we don't know what the fates have in store for us. Also, having them around, albeit in the back of my closet, makes me feel a touch sad when I think about it. Finally, we can get back the £ 250 we spent on the diapers.

Dave, on the other hand, feels differently. He believes that if we return the diapers, we'll be admitting defeat and giving up. I understand where he's coming from but I think having them around is so sad. We can buy new ones for our take home baby. I go back and forth. Any opinions?

On a somewhat similar vein, I'm still bleeding (oh, here's the part that perhaps gets TMI). Wait a second - stay with me here. It's been over 5 weeks since I gave birth to Isla, and I'm physically all kinds of messed up. For about two weeks, I had heavy then moderate bleeding, then it became light for about a week. Last week, all of a sudden, the gates opened and I started what I think was my period. It has been heavy as hell and now it has been 10 days of this. I'm so over it. And to make matters worse (here's that vein I was talking about), I've had to use disposable pads. According to the pros, women who have given birth must use menstrual pads to reduce the risk of infection (which I had when I went into labour). The thing is, I haven't used pads or tampons since January 2007. I've been using a reusable menstrual cup, firstly the Diva Cup and then I switched to the Moon Cup last year. And I love it.

In case you're too lazy to read the links, the cup is a reusable hold all made of high grade silicone that you fold easily and is inserted into the bajingo. It shouldn't hurt or be uncomfortable and it shouldn't fall out or leak. There's no risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and it can be used for 8 hours at a time (though some days I stretch it to 12 hours). And, no, it doesn't stink! Also, since it's a product that last for years and years, it's environmentally and financially advantageous. I've had loads of women ask me about the cup and admittedly, most people are straight up disgusted by the thought, but I'm determined to spread the word. Hopefully, one person will be converted (I'm looking at you, Stacy). Anyway, if you're curious, ask away. Obviously, I'm not shy!

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Home

I returned home to Dave on Tuesday and it felt so good to be back in his arms. My time in Montreal was great on so many levels, but it was so hard to be away from Dave, especially during this trying time in our life. Like I told my BFF, I don't just love my husband, but I really like him as well. I have such a strong affection for him and I just love being around him. Everything is just so easy with him and he always makes me laugh. It's so important to have someone who can really make you laugh. This gift is one of the things that attracted me to him. After nearly 5 years together, he still has it.

I spent most of yesterday getting myself sorted. I washed and put away all my clothes, I cleaned up the spare room and stowed away all the beauty products I bought in Montreal (stuff I can't get here). I cooked for the first time in weeks and started on my Blurb blog book (I'm publishing my previous blog and will post a review once I receive it). I also started my pilates programme (DVD at home) to slowly get back into exercising. I took my measurements and hope to see a noticeable difference by Christmas.

I also talked to my boss today about returning to work. I'm thinking of going back on a sort of graduated system, like start with 3 days a week and progress from there. He's totally fine with it (truly, he's a good guy), but the thought of going back scares me and brings me to tears. In fact, after I hung up with him, I noisely sobbed my face off. Just the thought of sitting at my desk, where I rubbed my belly so many times, and seeing so many people who knew about my pregnancy upsets me so much. But I know I need to go back to work soon. Just so I have something to do, you know? Any tips on how I can make this easier?

I know I haven't blogged too much about my trip home, but to all those I saw who actually read this thing, thank you so much for letting me lean on you. Having moments of normalcy in between the grief helped so much. I am so fortunate to know so many amazing, funny, intelligent, down-to-earth women and I truly love you. I want to especially shout out Dahlia (and her family) for suggesting I come home in the first place. I'm not sure if I mentioned this, but Dahlia is 8 months pregnant and we were writing back and forth about our respective pregnancies. We were both worried about seeing each other after what happened, but she really took care of me. I enjoyed spending time with her funny husband Steven and her delightful daughter, Berlynn. One of the highlights of my trip was when Berlynn climbed into my lap and started sucking her thumb while watching TV. Dal said she did that because she was truly comfotable with me. That alone was a major factor in healing my heart. Thank you so much, Rampersinghs. I love you all.

The picture I posted at the beginning of this blog is of a painting I received from my best pal here in Scotland. Signe, from Denmark, is a fellow expat and we work in the same office. In fact, we got hired the same day. We bitch and moan our way through the day and we became more than work colleagues - we're friends. I thank the heavens for her and I know I'm lucky to have a kindred spirit here in Edinburgh. Anyway, while I was in the hospital, she came by and gave me my birthday present which was a painting she did of Dave and I. Let me tell you - it was the day after we lost Isla and receiving her painting lifted our spirits immensely. We put it up in our hospital for the rest of our stay, then brought it to Dave's parents' house and put it in our bedroom. It's now in a good spot in our living room and we love it. I think anyone who knows us will attest that it is a true likeness of us. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I'm blessed with some truly wonderful friends.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Empty belly

I've never had a belly before.

Don't hate me.

I went through a brief chunky period in high school, then I shot up a few inches and the weight got distributed a bit better. Still, I don't remember having an actual belly. All throughout my adult years, my stomach has been flat. Then when I started working out, I had definition in my abdominal area. I really, really liked it.

When I got pregnant, it took some time for my belly to pop and I loved it's fullness. In fact, I really adored my pregnant shape.

Now that I'm not pregnant anymore, I have a really sad, soft, empty belly. When I wear jeans, I actually have a muffin top. On top of everything else I've had to go through, this is a total punch in the gut (pun). I miss my baby and I miss my bump, but this has gots to go. I hope one day it will be full and hard again, it's occupancy filled with a delightful, healthy, take home baby. But until that day, my physical self cannot reflect my mental state. I can't hurry up through this mourning period, but I can take care of myself. That means yes to copious amounts of water, B-complex vitamins and folic acid, long walks and light jogging that will turn into serious jogging, smaller portions and loads of fruits and vegetables. Several months ago, my body was in peak condition and a welcome place for a baby. I don't know when we'll start trying for a baby again, but the least I can do for myself and that future baby is get my body right. Hopefully, my head and heart won't be too far behind.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Heart. Beat.

Yesterday morning I woke up with some peace. I’m grateful for this because Friday did not start out well at all.

I took my mother to a hospital appointment at the hospital I was born in. They have a new annex and my mom was to meet her doctor in the Women’s Clinic. Ok, that really doesn’t mean anything, but I was still relieved to find just a few children in the office with their moms. I’ve been hanging out with kids since Tuesday, so I was solid about kids. Unfortunately, I was totally blindsided, not by a sight, but by a sound.

A heartbeat. A baby’s heartbeat.

Background: While I was pregnant, I absolutely loved hearing Isla’s hearbeat. I initially saw it during ultrasounds, then heard it during latter appointments. When I was admitted to the hospital, I would hear it about every four hours when my blood pressure and temperature were checked. It kept me strong and hopeful. It kills me that I’ll never hear hers again.

So yeah, hearing the sound of a heartbeat filling this small office sucked the air out of my lungs. At first, I was livid at my mother. “Why didn’t you tell me there’d be pregnant women here?” And I got up to leave and dissolved into sobs. I did not care who was looking at me or who was in my path, but I knew I couldn’t listen to that distinctive “whoosh-whoosh-whoosh” anymore. I stood crying in the stairwell while my poor mother kept telling met that she didn’t know, she didn’t know. I was crying so hard that she started crying too. I left to get some air and gain some perspective. Every breakdown that I have is one tiny step to a better place. Embrace it, feel it, and let it go. And that’s what I needed to get in front of the hospital while people went about their business.

I returned to the clinic after some time to keep my mom company and then I left to meet up with one of my BFFs. She took me out for a delicious lunch, we picked up one of her sons from daycare and ran errands. I also picked up my developed and retouched photos of Isla. And we talked about insignificant things and big things.

When my mother got home from work, we stayed up until 1:30a.m. talking about my feelings and how much I hate it when she tells me not to cry and that I’ll have another baby. We then talked about the future and out of that conversation, I felt a new idea forming. I slept on it and woke up feeling good about it.

Things have gradually started to become clearer over the last few days. Coming home has been good for me. I've had a lot of help over the last week, particulary from my mom, sister and my oldest friend. I'm definitely in a more positive place right now (for now). I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who reads this blog and comments and talks to me about what I’ve written. It comforts me more than I can say.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Loser

I feel like such a loser.

I'm 32. I don't have a permanent address anymore. My stuff sits in boxes in three separate homes in two countries. My driver's license expired 4 years ago (!) and I had no idea. I don't have a plan for the future. My baby died and I have no freaking idea which way is up. Seriously, I don't.

My sweetheart Steph called me a survivor the other night. I told her I don't want to just survive anymore. FUCK surviving. I want to live.

But I feel like I can't right now.

The other night a family friend asked if I'm pregnant. Scratch that. He told me I was pregnant. He was sure because of how my belly looked. I couldn't tell him what had happened. So instead I left and I cried for over an hour. I woke up the next morning with the puffiest eyes I've ever had in my life and a resolution not to meet anyone else who is not on my list.

I've come to realize that even if I wanted to, I probably couldn't move back to Montreal. I've been away too long. At once, things are too familiar and totally strange to me. I don't remember how to get to certain places and I don't know how to use the public transport system anymore. After everything I've seen and everywhere I've lived, and going through everything I have over the past 5 years, I'm a foreigner in my own home town. Like the border agent and passport officer told me, I don't live here anymore. Ouch.

It hasn't been all bad, coming back. I'm connecting with my mom on a level I've never had before. I'm really talking to my little sis. I'm laughing with my friends and hugging some pain away. I'm crying when I want to. I have a crazy uneven tan. I have more friends that I'll be seeing, the ones who have known me since before I got my period and know all my secrets. I have two more weeks left.

I miss Dave. I can't wait to be in his arms again. But, this is important. I know I need help. This is one remedy. The hope is I'll get some of me back, get some of the light back, and return to Dave a bit stronger so we can get stronger together. And maybe, we can feel a little less scared of the future.

Are you there, faith? It's me, Kaki. I really, really, really need you back right now. Please, help a sister out.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Coming home/Going home

I am returning to Montreal today. I'm scared about going home. I'm scared about seeing my friends and family for the first time in a year, and for some, the first time in 2-3 years. A lot has happened, most notably I had a baby who died. I'm afraid that I'll have difficulty seeing some people and I'm afraid of being judged. I'm sad to leave Dave. But I know for sure that those who love me and understand me will be there for me. I look forward to their hugs and kisses.

Dave and I returned to our flat on Tuesday evening. It was the first time of sleeping there since I went into the hospital nearly 3 weeks ago. We had returned to pick up some clothes since then, and we also took the opportunity to hide away all the baby books I had bought and received. But some reminders were still lurking around. The bathtub had been stained purple by the heather that had been in the bath when I tried to find relief from what I now believe were contractions. On the couch, there was a wedge pillow I had borrowed to use to put under my bump while I slept. And there were my maternity clothes.

All these things have now been cleaned and put away. I also cleaned up my Amazon wish list, purging it of the millions of titles and things I had hoped to buy one day in order to escape those damned recommendations on my homepage. I have cleared my browser history of all the blogs and information sites I had looked at every day of my pregnancy. The reusable diapers we had bought at a discount and the new hand-me-down baby items I had received from my co-worker are safely enconssed in the back of my closet while we figure out what to do with them. The only reminder I can bear looking at right now is the remembrance box we received from the hospital after Isla died. I look in it every day. I look at her picture and I smell her hat.

Her hat. So small and it still smells like her. We just got it on Monday after we secured a new one for her so we could have the one she wore. I'm so happy I realized I wanted this. One more thing to remember her by.

Well, that's all to say that I am home and now I'm going home. Home is such an interesting concept to me. Montreal is my home, but now, Kirkcaldy is also my home. The former is home because my mom, sister, and sister-friends are still there, but the latter is home because my heart is here. A long time ago, Dave told me people can be home. Such a wise sentiment.

I'll be away for a couple of weeks and might write late at night when sleep is elusive. However, I hope my days are so full of talking, laughing, crying and food that dreams come quite easily. À bientôt.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Saying Goodbye

On Monday, David, his family and I said goodbye to Isla. It had been two weeks since she died and Dave and I were waiting for this day. Our daughter's spirit had left us shortly after she entered the world and we knew we'd have to say goodbye to her physical body before we could begin to properly heal. We went back and forth between a burial and a cremation and it was excruciating trying to decide which would be better. In the end, two things swayed us. Firstly, the gardens of the crematorium are breathtaking. Everything is manicured professionally, there are beautiful trees and flowers everywhere, including cherry blossom trees, and there are even bunnies hopping around. When Dave and I walked around the grounds, we felt at peace. It would be a fitting place to go and sit and think about the beauty of our daughter's life.

Secondly, we know we'll settle in Canada someday soon. We knew that we couldn't leave Isla behind in a place that would be so far away from us. When we leave, we don't want to leave anything behind, especially Isla's body. So we decided on cremating her. We also plan on having her name engraved on a memorial that is especially for babies. When we finally settle down somewhere permanently, we plan on planting a cherry blossom tree in her honour. However, all these things are incidental to the feeling I had in my heart after Isla was finally gone.

Her service was short, like we wanted it to be, but as lovely as Isla herself. Ian, the chaplain who blessed her in the hospital gave the service and he comforted me with his warm words and tranquil demeanour. It was not easy - seeing her tiny coffin and walking her down the aisle of the crematorium, but I felt steady, especially since Dave and I had a few moments alone to tell our baby how much we love her and how we'll see her again one day. I felt like we were letting go and I know that's one step closer in accepting what happened. But even though we were letting her go, I felt close to her and I believe I'll always feel that way. For me, the parting blessing confirms this:

"When you are weary and in need of strength,
when you are lost and sick of heart,
remember her, Isla.

When you have a joy to share
or difficult decisions to make,
remember her, Isla."

I plan on doing just that, for the rest of my days.

After the service, we all walked around the grounds. It was a stunning day, with the sun shining so brightly. It lifted my heart. We even went for a drive later. After the tears in the morning, I felt peace.

I know it's early days and Dave and I have a long way to go before we feel like ourselves again, but I feel like my faith is returning. I know I have a choice. I can let Isla's death weigh me down and I could give in to the despair of losing her. I could stop smiling and I could stay in bed for a year while my heart grieves. It would be so easy. I've had these thoughts and others that are too dark to share.

On the other hand, I could remember the joy Isla brought to our lives. Those 23 weeks were beautiful. Every single one. The week I got the positive test. The week we told our parents that they were going to be grandparents. The week we saw her on the ultrasound for the first time. The week when I felt really sad and lonely and felt her kick for the first time and understood the enormity of what I was doing. I was so in love with my daughter. We both were. We both are. I want to grieve for her properly, but I also want to heal so that I can fully love my husband and we can grow our family again.

I know there are going to be ups and downs and I will never be the same person again, but I'm so thankful and so grateful that I am Isla's mother.