Saturday, March 31, 2007

"Seven Years Since the Blue Moon"

I got engaged and pregnant on the same day.

Even better, it was "Buck Night" at the local ball park, so I also got to drink a whole lot of cheap beer on a really humid July night while feigning interest in an All-American sport.

You might be trying to forge a connection between all that cheap beer and my getting knocked up. Damn your clever mind. Does it never rest?

Suffice it to say, though, that pretty much all of my days since then have been anticlimactic. They're all "go to work, read to the kids, sweat through a run, fold some laundry" and ever-so-rarely are they "get engaged, drink beer, get pregnant" kinds of days. I suppose, though, that a girl can only have so many such splendid Whopper Days; otherwise, I'd have a whole lot of husbands, hangovers, and kids. And frankly, one or two of each is about all I can handle. Ask both my husbands. They'll attest to my treating them with an air of benign neglect. Fortunately, they are a comfort to each other.

So, yes, from that sticky July day came good things. I still dote on my groom, and the issue of that pregnancy is just cresting seven years old (since I, personally, remember a lot from Age 7, this implies to me that I should start being nicer to Girl, now that her powers of recall are firmly in place).

It's all good now, but the growth and arrival of our Girl weren't as straightforward as her conception. In fact, Girl started out as two.

All I knew was that I was pregnant, and the hospital in our town would confirm that but would not have me see a doctor or midwife until the end of the first trimester. So I took some vitamins, ate a lot of Ben & Jerry's, exercised, and dreamed an entire life for the child inside of me.

Until one night--the last night of that first trimester--when I got off the couch after watching some bad reality tv and went to the bathroom. After pulling down my shorts, I discovered the pregnant woman's nightmare: blood. Lots of it. And when I sat down on the toilet, there was an explosion of more blood, along with many miscellaneous floating bits...of tissue.

My brain reeled, of course, and all I could think was, "This can't be good. I'm pregnant, so this should stop." At the time, Groom and I weren't yet married, and he lived almost six-hours away. I called him; he packed and hopped in his car; then I called a Best Girlfriend, and she was at my house in minutes.

We went to the emergency room, where I spent a long, long time with my feet in stirrups. I heard words like "she's dilated" and "tissue in the cervix" and "no heartbeat." My friend stood by my side, crying quietly into a Kleenex. My own tears just dripped onto the sheets below me.

After some time, I was told that it looked as though I'd miscarried. But, they told me, I was young, so future pregnancy could happen. And, they told me, a miscarriage is Nature's way of ending a nonviable pregnancy. It happened, they told me, all the time.

But here's the thing: it hadn't happened to me before, and so I was ill-equipped to handle the absolute, immediate grief of losing a life I had already planned. Sure, I'd heard of women having miscarriages, but no one had actually ever brought that experience alive for me; no one had shared their experience publicly--and if there's one thing I do, it's find ways to process the world by looking at the experiences of others. Yet miscarriage proved to be one of those last female taboos, one of the hidden subjects that no one acknowledged. So all I really knew was that I was in significant physical pain (I didn't even know enough to realize a miscarriage is actually a mini-labor, with a contracting uterus and everything) and even more profound emotional pain.

When, at 4 a.m., Groom finally got to me, we just cried. And the next day, and the day after that, we cried. A baby isn't real to the world until it's born, but it had become real to us from the minute that stick turned pink.

Some days later, we went to see the midwife at the hospital, to have her check my uterus to see if all the tissue had been expelled that night in the emergency room, or if I'd need to undergo a D & C, to "clean things up."

As I lay there, again on a table, she palpated my uterus, noting, "There's still a fair amount of tissue in here. If you don't mind, I'm going to roll over the mobile ultrasound machine to see how much we're dealing with."

I didn't want to see the remains of the babe, so I stared at the wall as she worked, not registering her words of, "Hmmm. I see a heartbeat here."

How cruel, I thought. Why is she taunting me?

But. Then. It. Sunk. In. A heartbeat?

My head whipped to look at the monitor, where I saw a most-contented-looking little figure, reclining in the tub of my belly, a strong and regular heartbeat emanating from its chest.

My memory of the next few minutes is the feeling of Groom's tears hitting my face, as he stood above me, and the midwife exiting the room, saying, "I'm just going to give you guys a few minutes."

So my grief had prayed for a miracle--for the miscarriage not to have been real, for that pregnancy to still be happening. Suddenly, it was. Gradually, we pieced together that I had been carrying twins, and one of them had not made it. This, according to one nurse, happens more frequently than we know, but it is still a "once in a blue moon" event.

For the rest of my pregnancy, we called the kid inside of me The Little Gripper; I pictured it hanging on to the walls of my uterus by its tiny, soft fingernails while its twin fell out of me. Assuredly, I will never stop missing The Kid Who Fell, but mostly I can only marvel at the child who hung in there.

Today, March 31st, it has been seven years since The Little Gripper became our Girl, seven years during which she has emerged as shy, smart, sweet, wry, amiable to a fault, Love Incarnate.


The Birth Day: Groom cries some more, as Girl greets the midwife. Under the white sheets, once again relegated to laying on a table, I wonder how long it will be before I can have a bowl of Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.




Girl Is One





And Then She Was Two


Same Dress at Age Three, But the Wheels Are New


Four is Fun





Five Becomes Her


She Grew to Six (Plus Two on the Lap)




And Today She Is Just Seven, Feeling Crafty


As the years tick by, I love her purity of character most of all. Get this:

Several nights ago, at bedtime, her overtired Brother Niblet cried in his bed, sobbing: "I don't want to go to sleep, ever. I wake up in the night, and I am alone. I'm always alone. I'm never going to close my eyes because sleep is too lonely."

We've already pushed the kids' beds next to each other, strung the room with lights, played music on a CD player through the night, and tried everything to get him to appreciate sleep as an opportunity, not a burden. But no matter what I suggested that night, he cried even harder.

Then an almost-seven-year-old hand snaked its way across his bed and extended itself onto his torso. With all the compassion of two souls, Girl said, "Here, buddy. Just hold my hand while we fall asleep. And when you're asleep, I'll just keep holding on to you. You know I won't ever leave you all alone."



Happy birthday, toots. Thank heavens for that blue moon.

58 comments:

Hammer said...

Very touching story.

I learn something every day.

Happy B day to the kiddo she is the same age as my daughter.

Fresh Hell said...

Your posts make me laugh, they make me cry. and that's what makes them great. You're a lucky lady to have such soulful kids.

my4kids said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog sorry to make your crave Starbucks at 10:45 pm....really.
Anyway Happy Bday to your little girl she is cute!
I had to comment on her conception coinsiding with your engagement. My hubbies sister was conceived on their parents honeymoon, mind you they were very conservative christian folk. She was born at 8 months and normal size. Can you imagine the horror..I think its funny.

JohnnyC said...

Hi kids.

Joce - I love your writing. Always do.

But that entry is the best I've read. I remember seeing, hearing, knowing the tale from a distance those seven plus years ago, but to read you tell it sends shivers through me.

You're a beauty. You and the whole Spammin' lot of ya...

Happy Birthday A!

To birthdays and blue moons everywhere.

-johnnyC

Infinitesimal said...

your girl is precious and wonderful to behold.

ex boyfriend use to say:
"I dunno who she is or where she comes from, but I dream about her all the time, and all i know is that she is my sister."

(he only had brothers)

they say, what, a 50% or more of us start out as twins...

just thanks for the story. I read it, I am glad we are blogfriends.

Princess Pointful said...

Very engaging and beautiful story. Made me want to tear up and smile at the same time. Your girl is beautiful... and compassionate!

Balou said...

That was beautiful. Made me cry. Your kiddos are very lucky to have a Mom like you.

AmyTree said...

Oh what a beautiful story!!! Happy Birthday to Girl - 7 is a wonderful age. :-)

xx Amy T.

Pendullum said...

Happy Happy Birthday to The Gripper!!!

Em said...

Jocely, what a wonderful, wonderful story!

First of all, happy birthday to The Girl! What a beautiful daughter. I love the two-year-old pic! LOL

And you are just too funny. I love that your two husbands are a comfort to each other! :)

But then you ripped my heart out with the rest of your story. Very sad...turning into such a true celebration.

Thank you for sharing. Happy day to all three of you!!!

CSL said...

That's an incredible story. What a mix of grief and fear and joy in such a short time span. And, no, nothing prepares you for a miscarriage. You might relate to this.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. Congratulations for having a wonderful 7 year old reminder of a special blue moon. She's sweet and wonderful.

mist1 said...

Incredible. Look away, I don't want you to see me cry.

frannie said...

oh, the tears....

Glamourpuss said...

And you talk to me of opening lines?!

Jocelyn, I love the way you write; your wisdom, your humility, your wry humour.

And you damn well made me cry again.

Puss

oreneta said...

OK, I'm going to cry.

A very happy birthday to a wonderful little gripper.

I agree, that miscarriages are an untold story, and many people who have them are left lonely. A shame.

Undercover Angel said...

Happy birthday to your daughter! She is absolutely adorable, and I hope she has a fantastic day!

Claire said...

What a lovely (true) story. Your Girl sounds most compassionate and sweet. She's also very cute! I hope that helped her brother. 2 out of 3 of mine have a hard time going to sleep. Even now that Test Case is 21, he can hardly sit still...

lime said...

dangit, people really need to issue kleenex reports prior to posts like these!!!

thank you for sharing the miracle with such clarity and wonder. the girl is an amazing child. happy birthday to her!

and rudeness said...

I am glad your story had a fairy tale ending.

I cried. And I laughed.

Happy Birthday to your little miracle.

Logophile said...

aaaaaaaaaw, Im all verklempt now!
Simply a gorgeous child, inside and out.

yerdoingitwrong said...

What a beautiful story and what a gorgeous girl you have!!! Happy Bday Gripper. I think that has to be one of my very favorite posts ever. A similar thing happened to my girlfriend who is now the proud mama of a 5 week old boy.

xo.

Anonymous said...

This made me weep. iJim

Erin said...

As the tears stream down my face, I feel blessed to be related to you all.

Diana said...

Oh, damn you. Damn you and your beautiful writing. Thank goodness I have no make-up on or I'd look like Tammy Fay Bakker.

(And what the hell happens to them between the ages of 5 and 6? They seem to grow 5 years in the space of 1. Damn them. Don't they know how hard it is on their moms?)

Isn't she fabulous? Just like her mom.

Awesome Mom said...

Happy birthday to your lovely little girl. That was a very touching post.

velvet girl said...

Your stories are such a pleasure to read and your account of all you went through is exquisitly written, as always.

I'll happily admit that I was misty-eyed at the end. Sounds like your little gripper is an amazing girl... just like her mother. :)

Happy 7th Birthday to her!

velvet girl said...

I meant "exquisitely"... good thing that Blogger doesn't have a "red pencil" function for all you English professors. ;)

Lee said...

What an amazing story! And how funny we both wrote about labors in our posts. Your child is beautiful. So when she's 22, Hippie-son will be 28. Let's have them meet then! ;)

Jazz said...

Damn you Jocelyn, you know you're not supposed to make me cry on Monday mornings!!!!

furiousBall said...

Wow, what an amazing post. I totally didn't blubber like a child in the middle of my office I swear. Kids are such blessings. I'm going to go hug my babies when I get home, give my wife a kiss on her head and say thank you to everyone.

Happy Birthday to your little girl.

choochoo said...

once, when I was about seven, I thought I was pregnant. Turns out I just ate some bad chicken.

Dayngr said...

I love the photos showing how she's grown. What a great idea! I bet it was hard to pick just one for each year.

BlogWhore said...

man, oh, man. that was a good post.

steve said...

This has certainly touched a nerve! Or a tender spot! I wasn't aware of this part of the "origin" story. Fun to see the pics of Girl, too. Dang cute, though even in the pictures she recoils from my slightly...

Anonymous said...

Brian shares the same bday. We slept on the couch all day with Ben while boys were galavanting about with Auntie. Another day, another year.
I also wish miscarriage was shared more openly as it happens far more frequently then most realize. Too bad the common response is "you can always have another." Being around lots of folks with infertility issues that luckily ended up with twins, has led me to be extremely thankfull of my own fertility.
Crying along with your writing: that's a given in the past few weeks.
Julie

That Chick Over There said...

Oh...you must stop making me cry.

BeachMama said...

What a beautiful story. I shed tears for your miscarriage and the beautiful girl you brought home. She sounds like a perfect big Sister. Hope she had a wonderful birthday. What a great introduction to your blog.

ldbug said...

Awww, happy birthday Girl!! I'm so glad she held on, she sounds like a gem:-)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Beautiful post. Beautiful child. Beautiful you.

I'm all teared up so if my comment looks like chicken scratch, that's why.

I'm sure your little girl got a double dose of everything as she represents both herself and her twin, who lives through her.

I truly love your writing, Jocelyn. You are so very talented, and reading your blog is one of the better things I do for myself.

Diesel said...

Geez. That is amazing. You're a fantastic writer as well. And blast you, the last part gave me a lump in my throat. Wonderful.

urban-urchin said...

Your little girl is amazing. I know another seven year old I'd like her to be friends with please.

Happy Birthday sweet girl!

Now I have to go find tissue as I wasn't expecting a cry.

Dorky Dad said...

Wow. Your kid has a pretty cool mom for a tribute like that. Well done!

Mother of Invention said...

What a fabulous and truly marvelous story. She is just a precious and caring kid! May be she carries two souls? Hmmm..that would be fitting and makes some sense to me.

Happy B-day to her!

lushgurl said...

Yeah I have enveloped the myriad of emotions reading this post has brought to me! I love watching "gurl" grow up, she eminates beauty and wisdom!
Interesting to see the two dolls on her lap!
HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY GURL- I wish you twice the joy, twice the love and twice the gifties!!!

Tracey said...

That is the most endearing post I've ever EVER read. Going to get my tissues now...

Anne said...

Hi, thanks for stopping by my place earlier.
Nice blog you have here.
Oh, and happy birthday to the daughter. :)

Stepping Over the Junk said...

OH-MY-GOSH. I just re-read this three times. You write this wonderfully...thank you for sharing this both miraculous and heartwrenching story! And she's a beauty!

actonbell said...

Your daughter is beautiful! And that story is absolutely surprising and wonderful. You write very well:)

WanderingGirl said...

Beautiful! Beautiful! Beautiful!

jen said...

this is SO beautiful. and I cracked up at Buck Night...i could forge the connection there, for sure.

what a lovely story.

Top cat said...

Thank you for sharing your story, it's beautiful.
Your little miracle child is also beautiful.
Thanks again.
tc

Dan said...

Wonderful post Jocelyn. Thanks for sharing.

And Happy Easter!

Katie said...

I randomly stumbled across your blog and oh my goodness I am so glad I did. That post was so touching, it left tears in my eyes. When I read the part where the midwife told you there was a heart beat, my heart literally skipped for you. What an amazing experience - so sad for the little one who didn't survive, but then to be told there was a second, and she was alive, oh my goodness, I am speechless.

August said...

I'm too moved for words.

Dammit Jocelyn, if I didn't have a headache before, I have one now. I never thought I could laugh & cry so much.

August

Chantal said...

Again with the tears!

Jamie said...

Just beautiful.

jess said...

I'm so glad she hung in there. What would her brother have done without a sister like that to look out for him?