Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I beg the forbearance of my long-time readers with this post, as it's a re-run (albeit updated) from three years ago. However, because it's a personal favorite, I hope you'll hang in there for a re-read...or perhaps for a first-time through.
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"Ten 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 eleventy dollars of watery beer on a humid July evening 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 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 ten years old (since I, personally, remember a lot from Age 10, this implies to me that I should start being nicer to Girl, now that the threat of recall is 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 and 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 lurched out the door and into 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 ran down my cheeks into my ears.

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 non-viable 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 touching 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 in 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.  Even more, the promise of a life we'd made together confirmed our rightness of being.

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 resolutely onto 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 ten years since The Little Gripper became our Girl, ten 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 Was One

And Then She Was Two


Same Dress at Age Three, But the Wheels Were New

Four Was Fun

Five Became Her
She Grew to Six (Plus Two on the Lap)


 Then She Was Seven, Feeling Crafty


Eight Flowed Easily

Nine Popped with Color


Ten Promises Drama


As the years tick by, I love her purity of character above all else.

Even she was six, a wee first grader, her unalloyed caliber was evident. One night, at bedtime, her overtired Brother Wee Niblet (now Paco) 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 had 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. Every single day for ten years now, I have thanked the sky above me for that blue moon.

31 comments:

Becky Cazares said...

Wow, ten looks so different! The young woman is emerging, there, just beneath the surface. Beautiful! This is my favorite post, too, even though I haven't been reading your blog all that long. If I was ten again, I'd want Girl to be my best friend. Ever.

Deborah said...

I didn't think you could make me teary too, Jocelyn.
What a beautiful story - in its intimacy, in the telling of it, in its outcome. Your Girl has a lovely regard full of intelligence and questioning wonder and I feel pretty safe in assuming that she must be a lot like her mother.

Happy Birthday to her. Happy Mother's Day to you. Thank you for sharing this - I would have missed out on something rather special if you hadn't posted it again. Powerful, personal writing of the very best kind.

(PS The rather odd thing is that in the novel I am (not lately) writing, the backstory concerns a pregnancy like yours.)

Jazz said...

This one always makes me bawl...

furiousBall said...

very sweet. although when you said rerun, i was expecting this...

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_HZJReAhBfcA/RyUpeSEzs2I/AAAAAAAAAQs/Hpt8RxNBp0I/s400/rerun.jpg

Jeni said...

Love this story! The bit about her reaching across for her brother's hand to comfort him though, now that's really priceless. Every now and then (kind of a once in a blue moon type thing too) Maya will actually reach out to Kurtis and be nice to him instead of doing her normal thing which usually is to either push him to the floor or hit him over the head with whatever she has available to use as a weapon. Those moments are so wonderful to observe!
And I too agree with the change in Girl's appearance -quite drastic how much more grown-up looking she has become between the ages of 9 and 10.
And even after almost 43 years now, I think back on life with my oldest and am so thankful that she arrived and is still around -near me. Those children never cease to do that to us, do they?

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I think this might be the most beautiful birthday post ever.

That is a lovely girl you have there-on the inside and outside both.

Logophile said...

Dammit, I am such a sap!
I cried over it AGAIN.
I did it last time, I knew what was coming, and I did it AGAIN.

Sheesh

Happy birthday, kid, find me some stinking Kleenex.
:p

Middle Aged Woman said...

Look how beautiful! The story and the girl. Not to mention Mom.

kmkat said...

Tearing up here, too -- Girl has a rare heart. But we all know it didn't just happen; she learned it somewhere -- Mom? Dad? Oh, yeah.

I had a near miscarriage with #1 son -- got out of the car after work and felt like, Oh, I just got my period. Wait, I'm 2 months pregnant, I'm not supposed to HAVE a period. But after an ultrasound and few days of bed rest, all was well. (He's 25 now and finishing his 2nd year of med school.) Then I had a real miscarriage between #1 and #2 son. Sad, but life went on.

A friend at work had a miscarriage of an unexpected and not necessarily welcome pregnancy; her other children from a previous marriage, twin girls, were about 15 at the time, and her husband's children from a previous marriage were even older. When she came home from the doctor to tell her husband about the miscarriage, he said something like, "Well, at least you aren't pregnant any more," to which she tearfully replied, "But I am!" Just like yours, hers was a twin pregnancy that converted to a singleton. And that little boy has been a joy to them ever since.

Erin said...

A story well worth repeating!

jess said...

Oh... *sniffle* ... you can post that one as many times as you want.

cathy said...

I think you're allowed to tell the same story over when it has such a huge and significant impact on your life.

Happy Birthday to Little Gripper:)

secret agent woman said...

That's a wonderful story. I was told my first pregnancy was abnormal and would likely spontaneously abort, and yet, he was absolutely fine. And I also had two miscarriages. There's little easy about pregnancy.

ds said...

Beautiful story, beautiful Girl. Thank you for sharing it; it has touched me more than you can imagine.

phd in yogurtry said...

Wow! What a wonderful story. I've never known someone who miscarried a twin. I've understood it to be very rare, that the remaining baby survives. Very lucky indeed, all of you. Thanks for repeating. I'm one of your loyal readers who wasn't around when this was first posted.

geewits said...

That really is beautiful and you should re-run it with updates every year on her birthday.

lime said...

well goshdarnit, i remember welling up when i read it the first time even as i dab my eyes now. she is a gripper of the finest kind. that tenacious tenderness she gave paco is such a beautiful example of how the quiet fight that kept her within you remains in her to keep others together too.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Aw geez, you made me cry, Jocelyn.
Many happy returns to your lovely gal--Little Gripper indeed--with tenacity and a heart like hers, the world better watch out!

actonbell said...

Gorgeous post and pictures! What a happy family.
Happy (belated) birthday to your beautiful daughter.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Deja vu or something. Didn't you post this last year, when Girl turned nine? So happy to see all the beautiful pictures again - such a perfectly lovely child you have. Congratulations to her for attaining another year of coolth, and to you and Groom for whatever doubtless small part you played in it all. (I have daughters. It's a humbling experience.)

Pam said...

She's beautiful. So are you.

chelle said...

ahh what a crazy beginning!!

10 YEARS! WOW!

Many birthday wishes.

So glad she hung on ... you hung on and that it all worked out just right,

christopher said...

First time through that story for me. She is a gem, a miracle and beautiful! Well worth repeating.

I don't know how women do it quite frankly. I can get cavities filled without Novocain. But a pregnancy?...nine months?...I think I'd be the one who wouldn't make it.

My mother endured a severe case of the German measles during her pregnancy with me and against all the odds of the doctors and their frightening stories gave birth to me uneventfully (or quite eventfully) in the hallway outside the delivery room.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

What a great story. Your sadness, elation conveyed so well. Can't imagine the emotion. A beautiful piece.

And, I'm jealous. A girl. Never knew how to make those.

monica said...

awww - all teared up now over her comforting words to her brother... and she looks more and more like her mother - amazing:o) beautiful AND adorable - how lucky can you get!

happy belated birthday to Girl!

Patois said...

I always appreciate a nice, cleansing weepfest. Thank you.

Dory said...

Damn, my allergies are acting up really bad right now. Am I allergic to this post?!

Dory at Can't Remember Diddly

Jim Berg said...

One of my favorite posts, as you know. Go Girl! And go Joce!

Virginia said...

dear teachermamabaeb, good thing i have switched from kleenex to puffs extra strength as i needed two of them just reading your blog of march 31. i will remain forever touched to have been called on when the miscarriage occurred and honored to be present at the birth of splendid girl. xxooxoxcb

Maggie May said...

I absolutely loved reading this. I had a miscarriage at 12 weeks last June and wrote quite a bit about it on my blog and was shocked how many women responded so gratefully to hear it talked about out loud. I didn't realize it was something we didn't talk about, I had never had one and never thought much about it.
Happy Birthday to your girl :)

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

I just loved this! Such a gem of writing about your little girl and what a story! I'm so glad she made it! *sniff* I'm seriously going to bawl like a baby now...