It doesn’t snow here very often.   Once every few years will we see the kind of snow that is currently blanketing our evergreen world in dove white.  It is lovely: quiet and peaceful in a way that feels temporary and fragile.  It won’t last more than another day.  It will melt away and ordinary life will begin again.  The abandoned cars, without chains and caught unprepared for the weather, will start disappearing as their operators return from wherever they escaped to when they finally gave up on spinning their wheels.  Muddy rivulets will replace the soft white snow and the brief interlude will disappear. 

But for now…

L-O-V-E-U is written in the snow in front of our sliding glass door.   My daughter is bundled up in a pink snowsuit.  Smoke billows from a thousand chimneys.  Kids zoom down the hills with neon sleds. 

It’s idyllic. 

Other than the ambulance parked outside of a house near ours.

I’m reminded, once again, that even something as beautiful as a winter blanketing of snow also holds its ravages. 


Thanks to books/blogs/stories and murmurs of women around me, I assumed that my pregnancy would be nothing but a beautiful experience.  Yes, there would probably be some nausea and swollen ankles but those would really be small in comparison to the magnitude of the beauty it would create.  I thought I was going to have that glow pregnant women supposedly have, as if the tiny new life inside of me would radiate warm light through my entire body. Pregnancy and birth were going to transform me into an ethereal goddess of life or some crap like that. 

Someone left out the part where it could be a disfiguring sledgehammer blow to the side of my head.

I’ve grown short-tempered with the culture surrounding birth and pregnancy in my sphere of life.   There is too much talk of the beauty and not enough acknowledgements of the ravages.   There is mindset that somehow, through shear willpower and determination, pregnancy and birth can be controlled and mastered.  They can be enlightening experiences through dedication and mindfulness.  I’m pretty sure that no amount of mindfulness, meditation, or breathing exercises could have ever made giving birth to my son only to watch him die twenty odd minutes later a more enlightening experience.  It is a luxury that we live in a culture where the outcome of a living baby is taken so much for granted that things such as birth plans and birthing methods have become of such import.  

Perhaps I’ve also grown too cynical over the last four years.  I know several people in my life that would probably agree with that statement.  Most pregnancies, at least in the world I am fortunate enough to live in, are beautiful.  Few suffer through the ravages that so much of the rest of the world commonly does.  I can’t help but think that if there was more balance given to the two in our cultural mindset that for those times when the sledgehammer swings those of us in its path would not be left feeling quite as surprised by the blow. 


What do you think about the pregnancy and birth culture surrounding you?  Birth plans, birth methods… Do you feel that there is a lack of education about the negative aspects of pregnancy and birth (and I am not referring to morning sickness and hip pain here)?  Do you feel silenced by a birth culture that seemingly puts a greater emphasis on the process of pregnancy and birth rather than the outcome? 

the view from out here (on Planet My-Baby-Died)

I don’t get close to these women at prenatal yoga. I stay on the periphery of conversations, my mat in the corner of the room. I am so far from all of them. Looking down at the marble of the Earth from this planet I inhabit now. I see the beautiful blues and greens of that world. I remember living there, once.

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Blank stares, crickets and tumbleweeds

Recently a friend of mine posted news announcing her third pregnancy on that social media site I sometimes wonder why I joined.  It was a witty, read-between-the-lines kind of announcement that is commonplace in the land of non-baby loss folk.  It is not announcement any of us who have ever had to make the other, darker kind of pregnancy announcement (The baby died.  I’m not pregnant anymore) are apt to make anymore for a subsequent pregnancy.  With my daughter I did not clue anyone into the fact that I was pregnant until I was about 18 weeks along.  There was no formal announcement I just sort of stopped denying what people already had suspected for awhile.  I waited that long not because I was afraid that she was going to die like her brother, although in fact I was pretty sure that was exactly what was going to happen.  Rather it was because I did not have the emotional capacity to deal with the proclamations of “This time everything is going to be fine,” or “Try not to worry, it isn’t good for the baby,” by well-meaning people.  Turns out I got them anyway so it ended up not really accomplishing anything. 


Had George been born with a healthy heart and not three months early he would roughly be the same age as that of my newly thrice-pregnant friend’s eldest child.  As much as I would love to say that after three years of navigating the world of baby-loss I’ve risen above comparing my life to others I can’t.  It is just not possible for me to look at this friend’s life and not draw comparisons to my own.  She has a three year old doing those things that three-year olds tend to do.  I have a baby; dead for three years, not doing those things three year olds tend to do.  She has a second baby and a third on the way.  I am struggling to get pregnant and stay that way long enough to bring home a second living baby.   I think about her and imagine that my life could have looked very similar to hers if only fate had favored me in the same way it had favored her.  I think about her and envy the relative confidence she likely possess that her current pregnancy will have the same result as her previous two did.  I don’t have any confidence that any future pregnancy I may or may not have will result in a living baby. 


A year ago I was in a place where her announcement wouldn’t have been much more than a tiny blip on my radar.  Back then it was fairly easy to have a conversation about pregnancy without white knuckling through the entire thing.  I had also mostly stopped mentally reprimanding pregnant women for complaining about trivial things like swollen ankles and nighttime trips to the bathroom.  If a friend wanted to tell me about her birth plan I was mostly fine with it.  Sure!  Let's do it!  Let's talk about playlists and birthing balls and the evils of medical intervention.  I was a champion!  I was a fortress! I was a pillar of support!  


Two miscarriages later and I’m not feeling so enthusiastic about being a champion or a fortress or a pillar of support anymore.   All I’ve been able to muster in words of encouragement for my friend on her most recent pregnancy is a simple “congrats” to add to the multitude of other congratulatory responses she’s received.   I wish her the best, I really do, I just don’t want to talk about or otherwise be around it, that’s all.   So should she ever want to talk to me about birth plans and swollen ankles and nighttime trips to the bathroom, for now it’s going to be nothing but blank stares, crickets and tumbleweeds. 


How do you feel about your friends' pregnancies?  Has your opinion about thier pregnancies and/or your comfort level with them changed over time?  Do you feel guilty about the way they make you feel?  Have you been made to feel guilty about the way they make you feel?  

What It Feels Like To Almost Have A Child After Losing A Child

Two weeks from today, on May 7, around 12:30pm in Los Angeles, we are scheduled to meet our third child, a boy, who if anything like his older sisters, will be long and thick and blue eyed and full of hair.

We have a name picked out for him. We have a few things ready for his arrival; an old car seat, some hand me down articles of clothing, an aqua colored swaddle blanket and a scattering of other necessities, like baby soap and a sealed bottle of whiskey. Barring any unforeseen calamity or early entrance, he will come into the world after spending thirty-eight and a half weeks inside his Mother, the same amount of time his sister spent in utero before dying.

Seventy-five weeks of pregnancy has come down to this.


We are dancing more and more these days. My three year old and I run around the house singing wildly off key to the vibrations of Florence + The Machine, cranking the volume during the “loud parts,” as Stella refers to them, and pumping our fists and spinning in circles and group dancing with Momma, which involves an awkward three person and one belly swaying hug.

We have been doing this sort of tribal dance ever since Margot died. It was always a brief respite from the agonizing grief, a tangible way for us to contrast the sadness surrounding Stella’s life with some joy. But something feels different now. As the song ends and we throw ourselves onto the couch in exhaustion, the sadness that once lingered after the dancing is now replaced with anticipation, the light at the end of another long pregnancy tunnel, the hopeful gift of a son, out of the ashes of his sister.


I have been growing a beard since we entered the third trimester because I don’t know what else to do for my son in utero, because it’s the only outward sign of hope I can think of, because the simple act of not shaving feels like something I have control over. It is thick and black and surprisingly vigorous after two months. And it’s mostly awful looking, something my partner says “doesn’t look bad or good.” But it’s there, growing simultaneously with my son, exuding love and hope every time I pick food out of my mustache or my daughter yanks at it in laughter or I itch it at work or gently pull at it while I’m thinking or reading.


Thirteen months and one day ago, as my partner bled and bled with no clots in sight, we were twenty minutes away from a hysterectomy.

Thirty-six and a half weeks ago we got lucky, damn lucky, that the cells of a tiny egg and a tiny sperm entered into a union that has, up to this point, stayed the course. There is gratefulness in abundance.

Mostly though, there is this inescapable feeling like our lives are hanging in the balance, like we’re standing on the edge of a cliff, overlooking a rugged coastline, waiting to be pulled back or kicked off the ledge.

I don’t know how we could go through this again.

I really, really, don’t know how we could go through this again.  

It’s damn near impossible to keep myself from looking over the cliff, from imagining the free fall should this little boy not make it. The fear, which introduced itself early on in the pregnancy, as if on cue, has successfully set up iron gates around my hopeful heart, holding me in a perpetual state of doubt, my gaze nearly fixed on the rocky coastline below. The emergency run to labor and delivery at thirty weeks didn’t help. Nor have the poor non-stress numbers, the abnormal blood work, or the two dozen times we had to get the doppler out to see if he was still alive. The only relief from the fear and worry is that it’s persistence has become commonplace.

And then there is the hope. Hope that this baby will live, and keep living. Hope that I will hold him in my arms and look into his eyes and tell him that he is my favorite boy in all the world. Hope that I will get to introduce my three year old to her live sibling, to see the two of them together, a dream of such vivid beauty I can hardly even think about it.

Hope that in two weeks time, we will pick up what’s left of ourselves, step back from the cliff, turn around and walk back towards home.


If you have had a subsequent pregnancy, what was your experience like? If you haven’t had a subsequent pregnancy, how does it feel to read about other members of the baby loss community who are pregnant? Is it hopeful? Diffiicult?