Monday, October 26, 2015

Unwanted Membership

October 26, 2004. The absolute worst day of my life.

I remember it as if it just happened. No one talks about still born babies. No one. It is a secret until it happens to you and then you are a part of a club with unwanted membership.

It was a Sunday afternoon, one day shy of 29 weeks gestation. I was laying on our black leather couch watching TV when our baby kicked. Being acutely aware that my husband had only felt this a handful of times, I started to say his name and walk up the stairs. By the time I reached the upstairs, he had stopped. I thought, oh well- next time. I did not know there would be no next time.

We went to Target for more maternity clothes and dinner at my parents' house that night. I remember the yellow maternity shirt I was wearing. I remember not feeling the baby. I remember saying something to my husband. I remember him reminding me how a few weeks prior the baby had turned in a way that prevented me from feeling his kicks. I remember thinking wishful thinking.

We went to sleep that night deciding my husband should meet me at the doctor for my already scheduled appointment.
I remember praying. I remember crying myself to sleep.

The next morning I woke to no movement. Nothing.
My husband asked, I said nothing, he sad it'd be OK. It would not.

I went to work. I sat on the bench outside the 6th grade wing and monitored the hallways and performed my weekly morning duty. I remember a colleague, one of the 6th grade English teachers, asking me if I was alright. I remember telling her the baby had not moved. She told me how her daughter was a lazy baby during her pregnancy and not to worry, but her face said otherwise.

I taught 120+ students that day and kept busy. I drove myself to the OB/Gyn's office and cried the entire way. 
I remember signing in. I remember the silence as the nurse searched for the heartbeat. She searched three times. I cried. 
We moved to the ultrasound room. It was there we saw no movement. No noise. We saw a baby sleeping. I'm not sure who said he had died- the nurse? The doctor? That is the only thing I do not remember. 
I remember all the times I heard, "We are so sorry."

I remember my mom being there. She made phone calls to family and to my oncologist. I called one friend. I told her to call everyone else. I remember telling my husband I was sorry. I remember the doctor, with amazing bedside manner, telling us he would see us again and believe it or not, this happens a lot. 
We were never patients of his again.

They inserted a device into my cervix to start my labor and sent me home. There I was, at home, laying on that same black couch, but this time family was in my home. Whispering, comforting us, trying to help pass the time. 
Again, I cried myself to sleep.

We checked into the hospital early in the morning. We had to go talk to the insurance department. You still have to square away your deductible even if the baby you are delivering is dead. There is no bill me later for people who are in their darkest hour. I sat in a gray chair as my husband dealt with the bill. 
As I watched the clock, I began to get angry. Angry that my son was dead, angry that I had to deliver him, and angry that the deductible needed to be paid. The insurance lady assured me that this was the most annoying part of my day and wished us luck in our new journey of parenthood. 
I remember telling her with venom in my voice that our baby was dead. 
I remember walking out.

I remember the labor & delivery room. I remember getting an epidural. I remember getting so many other drugs because in the words of a delivery nurse "there was no need to feel anything."
I remember our aunt sitting to the right of my bed reading a newspaper as the day progressed. 
I remember my brother sitting on the floor across from my feet as the day progressed. 
I remember nurses telling my husband there was no way I should be awake with all the drugs they had given me.
But I was awake. I was awake and remembering. 
I remember telling my husband to get everyone out of the room. I remember crying and screaming to get them out now.

The baby was coming. I could feel our son. With my husband by my side, I delivered our still born son. There was no cry from him, just from us. There was nothing but silence. There were only our tears. There was no joy. There was nothing. 

Our Rabbi came later that day. We discussed a memorial service and burial procedures. I remember eating a cheeseburger while he was there and thinking, why bother keeping kosher and following G-d's law if this is how life turned out. I remember the Rabbi telling me my emotions were justified.

I was brought to the maternity ward. The only redeeming part of this entire ordeal was the mesh panties the hospital gives you when you have had a baby. 
That night other mothers nursed their babies. We watched TV. 
That night families came to join in joy in the surrounding rooms, our room was filled with mourning people. 
I was released the next day. I was wheeled out of the hospital with no baby in my arm, no car seat in the car, no nursery at home, nothing. We were left with nothing.

We performed an autopsy to make sure it was not my Leukemia that caused the baby's death.
It was not. 
It was a 'typical' umbilical cord accident.  We still have the autopsy report. 

Only our family came to the cemetery. A casket small enough to fit a baby is something no one should see. It was raining. We cried. The Rabbi cried. As we went to bury our son, our uncle jumped in the way and grabbed the casket from the cemetery workman's hands. I gasped and yelled through tears. 
It is a mitzvah to help bury the dead for it is a deed that cannot be repaid. My husband's two uncles then placed the casket into the ground. 

For two weeks I stayed on that black couch. I did not sleep. I did not go back to work. I just stayed there, not moving. I felt sorry for myself and my husband. I cried. I felt the heat from my breasts as my milk came in and then took over a week to dry out. Friends came over, but no one knows what to say. I went shopping for normal clothes and cried hysterically in the dressing room because a pregnant belly with no baby is just fat and that fat was a size 16. I yelled at the sales people in the mall. 
A friend that came in town had to apologize for me and tell them why I was so mad.

I was really mad.

Two and half weeks later, the day before I was supposed to return to work I hemorrhaged. Like a nightmare that would not end, my husband sped me to the doctor's office while I bled profusely in his car. I lost half my body's blood supply. I was in and out of consciousness with nurses telling me I would be home soon with my baby. 
I remember with barely enough strength to lift my head, I yelled "Read a fucking chart. My baby is dead."

My husband signed papers saying the doctor could perform a hysterectomy if necessary. It was not. The Dr. removed a piece of placenta that had been been stuck and caused the hemorrhaging. I remember that evening, my husband told the ICU nurses that he was not going home, that our baby was dead, that I almost died, that I had cancer, and he was in fact going to sleep in that damn chair in my ICU room. 
I remember family coming to visit, again. I remember thinking I was officially off the bad thing market. Bad things happen in three - cancer, dead baby, almost dying. I was officially done. 
I remember calling my aunt, who I worked with, asking her to go to my classroom the next morning and apologize to the parent and explain why I was missing our scheduled conference.

I remember the next morning. I remember telling the ICU nurses to wake up my doctor because I was finished. I was going home. I was trying to pull out my own IV when they finally believed me. The doctor came. I was discharged, again. 
And again, I left the hospital in a wheelchair with nothing.

We moved months later to a home in the suburbs. We left the city where we felt suffocated. We started our life over.
Now years later with all those terrible memories, I can tell you it all worked out in the end for us. 
Eli, our son, saved my life. My pregnancy had brought my Leukemia to light and after Eli died I was able to start treatment. I am alive because he is not.

I have two amazing daughters, both named in memory of their brother. My husband and I have a strong marriage as we made it through the most difficult time in our lives. 
The four of us get to laugh, sing, dance, and enjoy life. We embrace the fun. 
Because of my life being saved, we do not look back and think why us. We look back and think, thank G-d. 

Annually, we stand at Eli's grave and say thank you. Thank you for our life. Thank you for my life.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

When It Rains It Pours

Thursday morning started early....around midnight to be exact. E2 was awake off and on crying hysterically until 4 am. No rhyme, no reason. Up and down the stairs I went tending to her cries because not going up there is the kiss of death. She has never responded well to "cry it out." NEVER. And she hates the hubs after she has fallen asleep - it is the most bizarre thing I have seen.

E1 left for school, E2 woke up snotty - guess there was a reason for her waking up. She was getting sick. Thursday was snot filled and the day ended with a low grade fever.

Friday was snottier, the hubs left town for work, E1 was at school and E2 and I hung out with tissues and Sudafed. Friday afternoon, E1 had a wonderful play date with friends and the day ended with her exhausted and E2 sleeping beautifully with the help of Motrin and Benadryl. Yes, I administer drugs.

Saturday morning began bright and early at 3:30 am with E1 standing at my bed saying she puked and she was going to puke again. DO I LOOK LIKE THE TOILET??? WTF?!? Pukes again. On the tile floor. Good times.  She goes back to bed, pukes again at 5:30 in her own toilet in her own bathroom. She wakes at 8:30 am to find E2 happy, less snotty, watching TV. I give her some water and a cracker. One sip. One nibble, PUKE.

E1 gets quarantined to her room. She has a portable DVD player for movies and the iPad for games, but she went to sleep. No food, no water, she feels terrible, she is sleeping. I should mention that I am prepping for a major power outage and possible flooding due to heavy rain coming our way.

By the afternoon, E1 has slept on and off and watched a movie while E2 and I played games, watched TV, ate, chased the dog around the house - he needs exercise and it is raining outside. Whatever works.

4 pm, E1 has 102 fever. Damn it. Quarantine some more, gave her some soup, and turned on a movie for her.

7 pm, lights out for snot face - she only needed Benadryl tonight and E1 is back to sleep with no more puking. Whew! Made it through the day.

8:30 pm - it is raining a lot now, the media has made me crazy. I still  have power, but the worst is yet to come....Dog has to pee. Damn dog. I let him out back and why hello there, TWO baby snakes. SLAM door. Shit, did the kids wake up? No. Grab some poison, wasp spray to be exact and proceed to spray the shit out of these two snakes. Can empty. Snakes dead. Dog is now back inside.

I am now watching the media frenzy in regards to the rain, still a possible flood, still possible power outages, and have a bottle of Drano to pour on any snake the next time the dog decides he has to take a leak.

This is the glory of parenting.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


Dear Parent,
Did you see today's homework?!? What a joke. We need another worksheet like we need a damn hole in the head. Honestly, what is the point of this shit. All it does is create a stressful time of getting this out of the way so we can shlep our kid to activities. We also need to shlep the sibling to activities. We do not have time for this crap. And what about the creative poster thing we have to make? What the hell? Why do these teachers think we have all this arts & crafts lying around our house?? Now we need to go to Hobby Lobby and/or Michael's to buy stuff because we'll be damned if we let our child just use crayons. There is no way our kid's poster thing is going to look the worst. No way. What is this read for 15 minutes? We read every night. Sure sometimes we forget or don't have time or our kid reads on their own, but we do not need a reading log parenting us. The teachers need proof our kid read? Why they don't just call us a liar to our face? Homework fucking sucks. Let's ban together and send nasty emails to the teachers about how homework is ruining our lives and our child's life.  There is no point to the homework and we know we all spend countless hours bitching about it to each other.
A Parent

Dear Parent,
I know I have homework. I know I need to do it now. I know we have somewhere to go. I know I need to hurry. I also know I need some down time. I need to process my day. I need to use the bathroom. I need to unwind. Please stop telling me to hurry. Please stop telling me I cannot play with friends or siblings because I have not finished my homework fast enough. Also, will you please stop hovering over my shoulder and pointing out my mistakes? I know you think you are doing what's right, but you are making me nervous. I understood the material at school, but now that you are asking so many questions, hurrying me, and parenting my sibling all the while making dinner, I am getting confused. I need help, but not the answer. I need you to provide me a quiet area and time to complete my homework. My homework is important to me. My teacher has told me to complete it independently. I love my teacher. You raised me to respect my teacher and now you are complaining about her and this assignment. I know you think you are mumbling or whispering to a friend, but I heard you. Is my homework not something I should take pride in? I don't get why it is bad. Isn't homework my job as a student? I also like the reading log. It gives me time to read or if I am lucky, you will read to me. Please do not teach me homework is a nuisance. It will not pave the road for good study habits or a positive outlook on my education. Complaining about my homework, constantly monitoring my answers, and rushing me does not make me feel good.
Your Child

Dear Parent,
Yes, I know I assigned homework. Yes, I know it is annoying to you. Yes, I know your child has activities or stays late at school because you work. Yes, I know every excuse you are going to email me. Do you know homework is not my decision? I did not create that worksheet. I did not decide to start the reading log. I did not choose the creative assignment that has caused you so much angst. I have a grade level chair, a department chair, and administrators telling me what to do. I have state legislatures telling me what to do. I have curriculum to follow. I have a list of standards each child must learn by year's end, no exception. Yes, I know your child is gifted or has a learning disability. Every child has "something" they need. The homework is used for reinforcement. It is not new material. Please trust me and my years of experience over the miscommunication you hear. Please do not give the child the answer. Please just check for completion. As the teacher, I need to know which child needs to be retaught. If the child is struggling at home, take that as an indicator of to how they are doing in class. If the child is breezing through the homework, that too is an indicator of they are doing in class. I know if your child is struggling. I know if the work is too easy. I know because I am the teacher. Homework should not tear us apart. It should bring us together. Homework shows you what we are learning, shows you how the child is doing with this material, and gives an opportunity for the child to practice what has been taught. Again, this is the child's work. It is not your work. Homework also teaches responsibility and pride. Homework is not the evil you have made it out to be. Please do not send an email to me complaining about homework. Please do not send an email to my administrators complaining about my homework. These same administrators approved my lesson plans last week and approved the homework. Please remember I became a teacher because I believe in your child, all the children. I believe they can succeed. I want what is best for them, just like you.
The Teacher

Saturday, October 17, 2015


Dear Four,

I forgot how much fun you are! You are verbal, more independent, funny, sweet, caring, and a damn nightmare all rolled into five minutes. Sometimes I wonder about you, Four. Are you bi-polar? Do you have anger management issues? Will you ever communicate in a way that does not involve tears and screaming? Yes, I know my sweet Four that you will grow of it and thankfully this time around your meltdowns are not as dramatic, but holy hell you are unpredictable.

Just this past weekend you showed us how glorious Four is. Our neighborhood grocery store has mini carts for its teeniest shoppers. You were in heaven! Four, you were so helpful. You pushed groceries, you were patient, you were so happy. Then we checked out and you had to leave the mini cart. Four, you yelled so loudly the entire grocery store stopped in its tracks. The pitch of your scream literally pains my ears. Were you hurt? Was your arm broken? Did you get slashed with a knife and are bleeding to death? No. No, none of those things were happening. You had to put the damn cart away. For fucks sake, it is a cart and we have one at home!! "I WANT MY CART!!" was heard from the check out line until we walked out the store. On lookers stared at me while you screamed with tears and snot streaming down your face. I ignored you. I have seen this show before. I walked to the car, pushing the groceries, saying every few minutes, "We have a cart at home."

What amazes me about you, Four, is you do not remember I do not negotiate with terrorists. Two days later at Target, I needed to pick something up at customer service. I ordered it on line and clicked in store pick up. Happily you walked into the store, you love Target. I walked passed the carts toward customer service. You and your sister stopped. You wanted to ride in the "fun cart."  I explained I was picking something up, it would take two minutes, and we did not need a cart. "I WANT A CART" was screamed, and cried, and filled with gasps of air as you snotted your way from the cart corral to customer service. I walked to customer service, ignoring you. I picked up my item while you screamed. Your sister tried to reason with you while I laughed internally. There is no reasoning with Four. None.  Then you stopped and asked, "Next time?" As we left, the Target employees and other parents commented how cute you were and I rolled my eyes.  Tantrums are not cute.

Four, you screamed and cried and snotted when your lollipop fell, when your bike made a noise, when the Halloween inflatables were not blown up, when your sister's bus was late, when your snack fell, when your doll's glasses fell off, when you finished your waffle, when you wanted a different snack, when your shoes that were too small were returned, when the hill was too muddy, when you wanted to wear a jacket in 80 degrees, when you are told no, when there is not enough time to watch Team Umizoomi, this list goes on and on and on and turn that smile into a tantrum in 60 seconds or less with no warning.

Each tantrum you get no response from me. I have learned. I wait for the storm to be over. There is no point in telling you to stop, there is no point in trying to make you understand. You, Four, are a child incapable of rational thoughts. I breathe deeply, ignore you, and continue what I am doing. Some days the tantrum is 30 seconds, sometimes it is 2 minutes, sometimes 10 minutes.

Four, you will learn. I know this. All you want is to be heard and I understand. One day soon you will not scream, you will not cry, and you will not snot when you are mad.

Until that day I say, "FUCK YOU, FOUR."

Monday, October 5, 2015

In Love

I have been hesitant to blog about this because I did not want to curse our good fortune or have anyone think I am bashing last year's school (which I am not),  but I am throwing caution to the wind and saying it loud and proud, E1 is an entirely new child (and for the better).

I credit our switching schools for this marvelous change. 6 months ago, I was heavily considering homeschooling E1 due to what can only be described as terrible social anxiety. My warm, tender-heart of a child was lonely in school, constantly looking for friends, wanting desperately to belong and it never happened. To watch your child crumble each week as she tells you a school story is heart wrenching.

With much trepidation, we enrolled our so called introvert into public school. She would go from 20 children in the grade to 20 children in her class and a grade with seven classrooms. That's a shit ton of kids.

E1, the introvert, the child I thought had social anxiety does not exist. Do not get me wrong, I think on some level she will always be an introvert, but now - wow, she has learned to navigate her world in just 6 weeks.

In our parent teacher conference, E1 was described as confident, a leader, friendly, someone the students like to be around....Excuse me??? MY kid? She has a huge group of friends - girls and boys, is never alone on the playground, has good conflict resolution skills, and in the words of her teacher, "she is doing great."

E1 rides the school bus and loves it. She enjoys finding people to sit with, sitting in the middle, sitting on the end, sitting with a new friend, etc. The bus causes so much angst for some that I laugh hearing E1 say it is the one of the best parts of her day.

E1 rides her bike to friends' homes. Friends that live in our neighborhood, that are in her class, or just some other first grader she met on the playground.

E1 meets her friends at the bus stop to exchange homework sheets and/or books if someone forgot theirs at school.

E1 makes play dates with people while on the bus, in class, or at lunch.

E1 waves hi to people at the grocery store. E1 waves hi to people at gymnastics, at tennis, at dance. No matter where we are, the child that shied away is now out there talking to people, making friends, being confident.

I do not know if it is just public school or if it is the combination of her finally being a part of community, but whatever "it" is, IT has done wonders for my child.

I look back on last year and literally cry remembering how she said she was happy and did not want to leave the school. Fast forward to this past weekend when out of no where she gave me a huge hug and thanked me for switching her school.

Her exact words, "Mom, thanks for sending me to (school's name). I get it now. I understand. I have friends. I am happy."

I am in love with our new normal. I love that we, as her parents, did not pigeon hole her and tried something new.

I am the MOST IN LOVE with the brave seven year old who trusted us to make the right decision for her and jumped into a new situation with her warm heart and big smile and finally got what she was looking for: acceptance.