So, yes, still pregnant. Going on 36 1/2 weeks now. Last I left you, I was in my 24th week of this pregnancy and anxious as hell. Physically, this pregnancy has been going wonderfully. Psychologically and emotionally, as you might imagine, it’s been a bit tumultuous. Even with the reassurances from my doctors that all is well, I have been taking everything in with — well, cautious optimism, I guess you could say.

I saw a specialist a few months ago, and he was able to show me in an ultrasound, this baby’s cord insertion and its relation to the placenta. With my own eyes, I saw the umbilical cord and how it was planted (yes!) right in the middle of the placenta. With Sophie, her cord was inserted onto the edge of the placenta — a very precarious and vulnerable placement, as it turned out.

The specialist also told me that the placement of the placenta with this pregnancy is different too. With Sophie, the placenta was on the front wall of my uterus, which actually acted as a buffer between us. I couldn’t feel Sophie move the way I can feel this one move. Every turn, twist, kick and hiccup I feel much, much more with this baby.

Huh, I guess I’ve been doing a lot of that — comparing this pregnancy to my pregnancy with Sophie. To be expected, I guess.

Over the past few months, I have been doing everything I can to look at my fears and be with them. My therapist has been really helpful with doing just that. In addition, I have also started meditating…sitting, being able to see my thought stream without necessarily going along for the ride…that has been extraordinarily instrumental in keeping my sanity. That, and watching endless natural birthing videos on YouTube…I’ve been trying to convince myself that — yes, I too am capable of having LIVE babies. *Sigh* I cannot wait to hear this baby breathe, to hear her cry, to hold her in my arms.

I feel my body getting ready to deliver this one. These past two days, my tailbone has been very sore, which I take to mean that my bones are making room for her passage. Also, a few nights ago, I dreamt I was in labor. And everything in my dream was so beautifully, vibrantly colorful. The next night, I had another dream. In it, I saw a family in the distance, a mom, a dad and a little girl. The little girl then started walking towards me. As she got closer, something in my mind said: This is your baby. I picked her up and held her in my arms. I sniffed the top of her head and said, “You smell SO good.” Then she asked me: “Mommy, are you ready? I want to be here with you. What are we waiting for?”

I’m ready. Whenever you want to come, I’m ready for you.

Her “official” due date is the 29th of September. But I’ve been told, babies come when they come…I’ll keep you posted!

Dealing with all of the emotions surrounding Sophie’s 1st birthday a/k/a, the day she died…ugh, it’s been a tough week. My body feels heavy—like it’s been hit by a truck. Thank you everyone out there for the emails and messages. Thanks for reading this blog. It’s comforting to know someone’s listening.

I’ve been pulling out all of the tricks I know to help keep me grounded. Writing. Crying. Yoga. Seeing my therapist.

Today, my therapist had me talk to the new baby in my belly. With all the tumultuous emotions I’ve been going through, she thought it would be a good idea to explain the situation to the new little one — to let her know that I’m not upset because of her. But let me back up a moment. So, here’s my confession: I am actually quite a ways into this pregnancy. Let’s see…it’s the 24th week, which I believe means I’m now in the 6th month. And yes, I’m having another girl, which I’m thrilled about. (Of course had this baby turned out to be a boy, I would have been happy too. Let’s get real: a living baby. That’s the goal.)

To be expected, being pregnant after the loss of Sophie, I have been anxious a lot of the time. I analyze every gas bubble, muscle twinge, crampy feeling…is that normal? Is the new baby okay?

Over the past month, I have been feeling this baby move more and more each day. One of her signature moves is to stretch out her legs and stretch out her arms at the same time. I can feel her from one side of my belly clear to the other side. So amazing. But when she’s quiet, sleeping, not moving, I’ll start panicking…uh, how come she hasn’t kicked me? Is she okay? This will prompt me to drink juice or eat a peanut butter sandwich just to make her move, so I can check if she’s still alive.

A few weeks before you were born, I had this dream I was sleeping and then a violent earthquake woke me up. When I told a friend about this dream, she said to me: Well, that makes sense. Your entire world is about to change. You’re going to have a baby!

My world did change — but not in the way I expected.

It was your birthday yesterday…you would have been a year old. But incredibly, your birthday is also your death anniversary, which still strikes me as rather dramatic. I have been flooded with very visceral memories of our time together these past few days. How I went into labor a month before your due date. The shock and disbelief upon hearing from the doctors that you had no heartbeat. (Now that I think about it, it was probably that shock, that initial inability to feel anything, that helped me get through labor). I remember getting to hold you, feeling the weight and the warmth of your body against mine. It looked as if you were just sleeping—that, at any moment, you might open your eyes.

I also remember how, while I was pregnant with you, I used to put my hand on my belly, and how you would kick right into my hand.  I remember thinking, “Are all babies this sensitive and aware?” I remember how Guillaume would cup his hands and say into my belly, “hello hello, ici papa” and then improvise a song for you before we went to bed. I remember wondering if strawberries and pancakes were going to be one of your favorite breakfasts, since I was craving them so much.

I miss you. I wish you were here with me now.

After you came and went, someone gave me pale pink peonies. I had never seen anything like them before. Somehow they remind me of you. Their delicateness, their fragile beauty, their sweet scent. How fast they bloom and fade. Whenever I’m really missing you, that’s the flower I get—it triggers my body’s sense memories of you.

Also in the weeks after your appearance/disappearance, I received these beautiful children’s drawings. I don’t think anything was said explicitly to these kids about what to draw. When I look at them, I see them as pictures of you. Maybe it was your way of telling me that you were okay.

I am grateful for the little time we got to be together. You have taught me so much about love and longing and having the courage to start again. But I tell you, it hasn’t been easy. Saying goodbye to you is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Happy birthday sweet Sophie. Your papa and I send you love and many many kisses. You are in our thoughts and will always be in our hearts.

J

Mary I, Queen of England in the mid 1500’s, had it on two occasions. She’s the Mary so named “Bloody Mary” due to the number of people she had burned at the stake for religious heresy. (A staunch Catholic, she persecuted all Protestants). She is also the Mary that was married to King Philip II of Spain, for whom Ferdinand Magellan “discovered” and named the Philippines.

But I digress.

What Mary experienced were two occasions of pseudocyesis, a/k/a false or hysterical pregnancy—that is, when a woman feels and looks pregnant, when in fact she is not.  I’m talking: missed periods, distended bellies, nausea, cravings, phantom kicking, and even uterine contractions. It is thought that these hysterical pregnancies are brought on by the extreme desire to have babies.

I, for one, admit to having an extreme desire to have a baby. Or rather…I should say, another baby. A baby that lives.

Recently, I had the same dream two nights in a row: I am driving around in a white truck (that looks like many of the gourmet food trucks I see around Los Angeles). The white truck is filled with babies and toddlers, and it is my job to deliver these little ones to families. In this dream, none of these babies are for me. Also in the dream, I get my period, which somehow further emphasizes that these babies are not meant for me.

Post Paris, I suppose as some sort of New Year’s resolution, Guillaume and I made a pact to get serious about this baby making thing. So we bought what I’ve been calling The Ovulator. It’s a pee-on-the-stick ovulation test that tells you when you are at your most fertile (by detecting a hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH)). When there’s an LH surge, the stick shows a smiley face (I’m not kidding), and you’re supposed to have sex within the next 48 hours.

Guillaume’s photographer friend and his girlfriend/partner in New York City recommended it to us. They’ve used The Ovulator for both of their babies. (She just recently had her second baby). Why not? we said. Can’t hurt to try.

* * *

Okay, you know where I’m going with this, right?

It’s as if I’ve been holding my breath for weeks now.  I’ve been carefully watching my body for three weeks now too. Distended belly, missing period, cramping, slightly sore boobs, cravings for tomatillo salsa and tahini sauce (uh, but not at the same time), achy back, nausea, extreme fatigue alternating with bouts of insomnia, Pavlovian salivating at the thought of food, weepiness watching episodes of “Glee” (I know, I know).

Could it be that I’m making all of this up? Yes, the home pregnancy tests both came back positive, but is this really happening? Mary, Queen of England…look at her. She convinced herself she was pregnant twice.

Last night Guillaume asked me, “What will you do if there is no heartbeat?”

“Thanks,” I said (sardonically), ” but I already thought of that myself. And the answer is: I don’t know. We try again, right? We keep trying until we get a baby.”

My heart was pounding as I was sitting in the doctor’s office today, naked from the waist down, with a glorified giant paper napkin draped over my thighs. I craned my neck to get a good view of the ultrasound machine. Deep breath. Whatever happens happens, I told myself.

And there it was. A little bean shape. With a flickering beat. “There’s the baby, there’s the heartbeat,” my doctor said as he pointed at the screen. “Let’s see if we can hear anything.”

And then: ba-bump ba-bump ba-bump.

I couldn’t help myself—I cried. I’m crying now just thinking about it.

“That’s a good, strong heartbeat. Congratulations,” he said. ” You’re pregnant.”


Joyeux Noel (Merry Christmas). Guillaume and I are in Paris for the holidays. I know I haven’t written in awhile, and to be honest…I don’t know why. Avoiding my feelings around Sophie I’m guessing. That and not knowing what to say on this here blog…why did I decide to do this again?

So, more on the emotional weather report of late: since Thanksgiving, I’ve been feeling vaguely melancholic, sorta numb with brief waves of weepiness at sappy Christmas songs played on the radio or while shopping at the grocery store. They say that experiencing grief is different for everyone, but that the first year is usually the hardest, especially during the holidays. So for that reason, Guillaume and I both thought it would be a genius idea to get away from Los Angeles — especially considering that last year at this time, I was three months pregnant with Sophie.

I think for the most part, it’s working. Instead of obsessing over a Christmas that was apparently never meant to be (that being baby Sophie’s first Christmas), I am distracting myself with such things as:

1. Learning to order things by myself in French — It’s amazing how much courage it takes for me to pipe up and say: ‘Je voudrais un cafe creme et deux baguettes, sil vous plait…’ (translation: I would like a coffee with steamed milk and two baguettes, please.)

2. Drinking lots of red wine (favoring ones from the region of Borgogne for some reason).

3. Having psychedelic dreams from drinking said red wine. For example, last night I dreamt that I was planning Guillaume’s birthday. While in the bathroom, I discussed this with a slice of cheesecake that happened to be sitting on the water tank of the toilet. And the cheesecake telepathically agreed with everything I said.

4. Eating foie gras with baguettes. Mm.

5. Taking photos of Guillaume dancing (uh, don’t tell him I posted these…):

6. Taking photos of photos of Guillaume (maybe we shouldn’t tell him about this either):

yup, that would be my husband on the far left (clearly, circa 1985).

7. Battling insane crowds at the Louvre.

8. Marveling at pigeon footsteps in the snow.

Anyway, as I was saying, it’s with mild success that I’ve been able to distract myself in Paris. Friends and family (of Guillaume’s) here have NO idea what to say to us about losing the baby, so it never even really comes up in conversation — which as it turns out, is a good thing AND a bad thing. Good because that’s the whole reason we’re here — to get away from everything and forget a little. Bad because, well, I think there really is no “getting away” from the situation. Who am I kidding?

When this whole thing first happened, one of the physical symptoms of grief I experienced (and apparently what many other mothers in mourning experience) — was aching arms. They felt very heavy with slow waves of lactic acid — almost as if my arms were crying and looking for the baby to hold. I took to holding a small buckwheat pillow (about the size and weight of Sophie) when I fell asleep. I stopped doing this after a few months.

But the achiness in my arms is back again. Less so in intensity, but back nonetheless. Weird, huh?

*Sigh*

I guess when it comes down to it…I need to talk about Sophie, my dead baby, and how much I miss her.

Guillaume+Jo. Christmas, Paris 2010.

what is life? did you read about it in a magazine? silent lies never give you what you need. is there hope for a mother and an elf on speed?

kiss the sun hello, a child in the park. make your life a lovin’ thing. i’m so tired, you’re so wired. and i’m a poet without a poem. and you are my child. so serene. i read about us in a magazine. then why are we crying by the washing machine? let’s run away child and follow a dream. kiss the sun hello, child in the park. make your life a lovin’ thing. the park is late, the wind is strong, the trees have eyes. and you are my song. my lovely song

what is love? child, i am here to stand by you. and you will find your own hard way and true. and i’ll find mine ’cause i’m growin’ with you. kiss the sun hello. god and goddess. make his life a lovin’ thing. and if i smile as you reach above the climbin’ bars. to see the stars

you are my love

by laura nyro, a singer/songwriter from the 70s. listen here  —“to a child”


are you pregnant?

i was caught off guard. i said, uh…well, i know i look about three months pregnant, but…it’s not what you think. i mean, i don’t know if i’m pregnant, but i hope to be. i mean, i had a baby, but she died, and we’re trying again. so the weight you see is from the last pregnancy. so no, i’m not pregnant. but i hope i might be soon…

yeah. it was definitely waaaay too much information for this poor woman. but hey, that’s the risk you take if you dare to ask me a loaded question like “are you pregnant?”

so, to the question, am i pregnant?  the answer is no. i had my fingers crossed, but no. my period came yesterday.

i tried to be really cool about it this month after last month’s craziness. but i couldn’t help but be excited the night before day 28. (i’m lucky in the sense that before and after sophie, my period has been a by-the-book 28-day cycle. when it comes to dates, there are no guessing games for me when it comes to ovulation, an expected period, or a hopeful pregnancy).

so, as i was saying, i was trying to play it cool. but, truth be told,  i was up at 5 in the morning, peeing on that stick. and when only one line (“not pregnant”) appeared instead of two (“pregnant”), my heart sank. i felt disappointed. then, i immediately remembered what dr. d said to me last month:

“with couples who are trying to conceive, only 50% of those couples who have sex get pregnant. and of those 50% who conceive, 20 to 30 percent of those pregnancies end in miscarriage. so actually, it’s not that easy to get pregnant. so be patient. have fun. try not to think about it too much.”

yeah, easier said than done. well, having fun is not the problem. it’s the over analysis of everything else. a sample of my pre-ovulation thought stream: “okay. so, if i’m ovulating on the 10th…let’s see…sperm can live up to 48 hours inside a woman’s body, so, just to be safe, we should be having sex at least once a day from the 7th until the 10th.” and post-ovulation? something more like: “well, they say that implantation occurs roughly 7 to 10 days after the sperm fertilizes the egg. and some women actually feel implantation occurring. do i feel anything? am i spotting? sometimes they say implantation causes a little bleeding. hmm. does anything else feel different? do my breasts feel heavier? am i just bloated or is my body re-inhabiting its pregnant self?” etc etc.

and of course, underlying all of this — just the sheer desire to be pregnant again after what happened with sophie. “try not to think about it too much” — that’s a tough one. all i can do is think about it.

* * *

last night, guillaume and i went out to jones cafe with our friend ted and some of his friends. i was reluctant to go. it had been raining all day. plus, i had just gotten my period, so i was feeling, you know… *meh*. but in the end, guillaume convinced me that it would be nice to get out of the house. dinner was delicious; pizzas all around. and afterward, ted playfully started teasing the woman sitting next to him saying: “nice pizza bump you have there.”

and she says, “oh, well, actually…i’m pregnant.”

“excuse me, what did you just say?” i ask.

“i’m three and a half months pregnant,” she says.

i was bubbling with excitement for her. “oh wow. congratulations! is it your first? have you guys been trying for awhile?” and at the same time, inside, i was sinking into self-pity: why, why, why — tonight of all nights, do i have to be with someone who’s pregnant?!

and then she asks, “oh, do you two have children?”

guillaume and i lock eyes for a moment. then, slowly, i say, “yes…we do…have a baby. [awkward silence]. well, we did, anyway. she…died.” and guillaume: “yes, we lost our baby…not that long ago. you see, we can’t say we don’t have any children…because we do. she’s a cosmic baby. but…we’re trying again. [more awkward silence].”

* * *

it’s 11:02pm as i’m writing this. the house is quiet. i can hear guillaume brushing his teeth, getting ready for bed. and outside, a new thing we’ve been noticing the past few nights…

i can hear the hoo-hoo-hoo of an owl —

right now, this is it. this is all i have —

a plaintive call into the night sky.

dog v dog (by g)

bunny v bunnyman (by g)

captive goose v angry duck (by jo)

bird v bird (by jo)

moods where you pour over old photos. this photo i took on one of my hikes in griffith park. sometime, earlier in the summer, there had been a devastating fire in the park (caused by a cigarette—terrible). and then these beautiful, heavy storms came. i remember guillaume was in new york for work. god, when was this exactly? last year? the year before? in any case, it was definitely before i was pregnant. (funny, everything now seems to fall into two categories: “before sophie” and “after sophie”).

* * *

today i went to work. and for lunch, i went to gram and papa’s. it’s this organic salad and sandwich shop in downtown l.a. run by these two brothers who moved here from new york. i used to go there ALL the time when i was pregnant with sophie. i NEEDED that sirloin burger with cheddar cheese, AND the homemade potato chips, AND the large homemade pickle, AND that brownie for dessert. as my pregnancy became more and more evident, one of the brothers started asking me about the baby: “is it your first? do you know if it’s a girl or boy?” everytime i would come in, we’d always chat. as it turned out, his wife recently gave birth to their firstborn.

i remember one time where he ended our conversation saying: “just wait. this is going to be one of the most incredible experiences of your life. you’re gonna know love like you’ve never known love.” and the way he said it, he really meant it.

so. it was really busy when i went to the sandwich place today. i had already steeled myself up just in case i saw the guy and he remembered me. i had already rehearsed in my mind what i would say if he asked about the baby. well, actually, i gave myself a few phrases to choose from. so when i walked in, the grill guy saw me and waved. but the guy i used to talk to all the time…super busy. super distracted.

i stood in line, and i thought: wow, am i going to be disappointed if he doesn’t remember me? no, maybe it’s a relief. this way, i don’t have to say anything after all. he’s too busy anyway. i’ll just talk to him next time…

then, just when i thought: oh forget it. you don’t have to worry about it today. you can just get your sandwich and go. he says, heyyyy. how are you? how old is your little one now?

i looked at him and said, hi. how are you? how’s your little one?

him: she’s not so little anymore. and you, how are you? how’s your baby?

me: i…um…lost her. [tears welling up in my eyes. i can't help it.]

him: what? [stops everything he's doing. puts down the pen and the receipt he was writing and just looks at me].

me: i went into labor, and when i got to the hospital…they couldn’t find her heartbeat.

him: i…am…so sorry. [long pause] well, it’s not our world. it’s God’s world. [pause] i’m sorry. i’m really sorry.

* * *

and it’s really hard to convey here, but he didn’t say “God” the way i hear (or think i hear) a lot of other people say “God.” as a former catholic (side note: for a variety of reasons that i may explain later, i consider myself spiritual but not religious), i cringe when other people say “she’s in heaven now. she’s in God’s hands.” or when finding out that sophie died, i cringe when people ask: “do you pray? do you believe in…GOD?” i have no interest. and i know people mean well, but it just rubs me the wrong way. this is in large part why i haven’t joined any “support” group for bereaved parents. i can’t deal with the God people. [btw, apologies to anyone i may offend. it is not my intention].

but when all is said and done, i do believe there is a force bigger than me. bigger than all of us. and that sophie not being here with me today as a baby in my arms —well, i’m not happy about it, but i know it’s not for me to decide. it is what it is, and i have to deal with things as they really are. i am completely humbled by what Life, Chance, Universe, God has thrown me.

so, anyway. as i was saying, i’ve been pouring through old photos.

when i look at this photo now, i see myself actually. i see scars and marks of something terrible. but i also see the beginnings of something new.

in little tokyo, we came across this little monument…and decided that it might be a good middle name for a baby. i was not yet pregnant, but g and i were thinking, talking out loud about the possibility of making a baby.

in fact, i remember when g and i first started dating…we went on a hike in griffith park. he started the conversation by saying: so, i’m know we’re just getting to know one another. but i have to ask you two questions. one, do you want to get married? and two, do you see yourself having kids? i laughed and said, wow, you are very direct! i take it you’re asking these questions as a general what-is-your-philosophy-on-coupling kind of thing. well, i said, i don’t necessarily see myself as getting married. i would ideally want to be in an exclusive one-on-one relationship with the right guy—but no, marriage is not a prerequisite. but i have to say…i do want kids. i’ve always imagined that i would have a baby. it’s just one of those things, you know? i just would not consider my life complete…

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