November 29, 2010


It's not that I miss him tonight, exactly... But I miss having a lover, a partner, a champion; a friend. And I wonder when I will ever have that again, and with whom.

It seems the cruelest kind of irony that the very event that severed our connection permanently is the same one that ensured we would be bound to one another forever.


You would have loved your daddy, No-No. I am sure of that much, at least. And I think he would have loved you more than he ever even knew he could. Certainly more than he loved me; but I'm okay with that. Perhaps he does love you, still; perhaps he remembers you, thinks about you, even now. I wish I knew.

I wish I didn't feel so alone in missing you.


I saw the cutest onesies while I was out shopping today. One was black with a red and white electric guitar and said "Daddy's Little Rockstar," and the other was white, and said "I Love My Daddy." Those words pierced me, unexpectedly, and an entire life unlived flashed before my eyes in the space between one heartbeat and the next, leaving me breathless and dizzy and confused. I wandered the store for an additional hour, distracted, aimless.

I am distressed, still, by what has opened up inside of me. Wary of my emotions. Through all my grieving, here is a piece I've tried so hard to hold at arm's length. I don't want to think about Noah's daddy, don't want to think about what he lost. My son, yes -- but his son, too. Our son.


November 26, 2010

a few things

My thoughts are a bit disconnected this morning, tired and rebellious and refusing to be put down in prose; so I present them to you instead in list form. That'll show 'em.

1. Only four days left to enter my giveaway. You could win a free book.
2. Consider submitting an entry to Creme de la Creme; it's for everyone in the ALI (Adoption/Loss/Infertility) community. Even if you don't think your writing is very good, do it anyway. It could really help someone else out there to not feel so alone.
3. Your comments mean the world to me, no matter how brief. Don't be shy.
4. Tell me, if you would, about a holiday tradition that you started yourself. I am curious. Also, I might want to copy you.
5. I have a calendar page on my desk and I am marking down the days until I leave for my trip to Australia. Can't wait!! I am doing a Jillian Michaels workout 4-5 days a week until then, so that I won't be too self-conscious at the beach. Kicking. My. Butt.

So. I guess those are the main things I wanted to tell you. Oh and also, for the record: I hate Black Friday. I have to go to work soon, and I am dreading it. I will be there for at least 9-10 hours, ringing up cranky customers and then trying to put the store back together again after they are all gone. It's going to be awful. I plan to get through it 2 hours at a time. Wish me luck.

November 25, 2010

now and then

This day is so different from last year.

Last year I was invited to Seattle. Last year I sat at my best friend's house and waited for her other guests to arrive; people I'd never met before. People who didn't know that I should have had a firm, round belly that day, showing under my sweater; didn't know that my breasts used to be smaller, that my bras used to fit. Didn't know the me from before, the me who hardly ever cried, who didn't need to wear waterproof mascara every day.

"Did you warn them that I'm a little, um... unstable?" I asked, anxiously.

Last year, in true northwest style, we prepared salmon and arugula and root vegetables and apple-cherry pie for dinner. We drank wine in shades of red and white and rose until the candlelight and the conversation both sparkled with added brilliance, and everything was funnier than usual; and then suddenly, instead of funny, everything was just quiet and comfortable and warm.

Last year, to amuse myself, I threw together ingredients without any measuring involved to make a loaf of pumpkin bread for my hosts -- which turned out to be a thing of such glory that it truly stunned us all; and I can say with confidence that the taste and texture of it shall never be equaled nor accurately reproduced. But that's as it should be.

Last year, when I missed my baby, I pulled out his quilt and worked my pain into it, rather than cry in front of strangers. Though I suppose it was really just my own way of crying in front of strangers.

Last year, I sat and stared out the window at rain dripping slowly off of blood red leaves, and tried to think of something to be thankful for, which felt, at the time, like an exercise in futility. But then I slowly realized that I was sitting in the living room of a person who, for some reason beyond my understanding, really, really cared about me. Who actually wanted me around, despite my sporadic withdrawls and bouts of tears and my inability to see past this moment, then this one, then this.

And I was grateful then, for her and for the handful of other people who felt the same, who would do the same for me. It did not seem like quite enough; it seemed a pitifully small number, in fact, standing between me and a huge, violent, scary world... but I knew it was a start. And while I felt completely ambivalent about whether I lived or died on any given day, I knew that they did not. A year later, those same people continue to be the most important ones in my life.

However. I'm afraid I cannot say with any kind of conviction that I am really happy to still be alive. There are days when I think it hardly matters, one way or the other, and I wonder at times if perhaps my wounds will turn out to be fatal, after all. I must confess, if I died tomorrow, my final thought would be: At last, at last.

But do not worry, dear ones. And do not let your feelings be hurt by my despair; my pain runs deeper than you can ever know, and it is not your responsibility or your fault. I will speak of other things, now, for your sake. Because I love you, too.


Today I am alive, and since I am alive, it is good to be alive in California. It is good that the sun is shining today, despite the cold. It is good that I do not have to see or speak to anyone that I don't want to see or speak to. It is good that I have a place where I can express what I think and feel without fear of retaliation. It is good that later on I will be welcomed to a table, heavy-laden in the best sense of the word.

It is good.

I am thankful for the people who got me here, to this place and to this day. I am thankful for the people who still think it makes sense for me to wake up every morning, the people who believe my life really is worthwhile, despite all. You are brave, to believe such things. I am thankful for the people who read these words of mine, who open up their hearts and who leave a few words of their own in return. You are generous. You are kind.


It is quiet in my room. There is sunlight, stillness, peace. For now, in this moment, and this one, and this: I am thankful.

November 23, 2010


I am looking for pieces of them, for compelling evidence of their short lives, and I can't find what I'm looking for. There are times when I feel almost frantic; I want to do more, make more, give more, be more, ask more, love more. I look at what I've done and it just doesn't seem like enough. Because it isn't. It never will be.

Quilts and scrapbooks and little animal figures and drawings and carved initials and clothing and tattoos... I would have these things anyway, if my kids were here with me. Except that they're not.

Sometimes I wake up and I have to give myself a mental shake, deliver the cold reminder that I don't need to worry about rolling over and squashing Noah. He's not there to squash. So don't worry, don't worry.

He's not there.

November 22, 2010

a little pick-me-up

This might just be my favorite Glee number of all time. I've never actually wished I was someone else before, but this episode seriously made me want to be Gwyneth Paltrow. For reals.

"Let's go get some tacos!!"

November 21, 2010

failure and forced optimism

Well. I've decided to bow out of NaNoWriMo. You have no idea how difficult it is to say that, or what a failure I feel like. However, it is kicking my ass, and I am quickly running out of ass to be kicked. I have so many other things going on; I'm afraid I overcomitted. Again. Surprise!

My overcommittment is causing me to fail at other, more urgent things, so I've decided to cut my losses. I have written over 20,000 words, which is none too shabby; but it is less than half of the goal and I am not going to make the deadline at this point, so I am giving up. Much as it hurt to come to the decision to admit defeat, it actually feels really freeing now, to say that. I give up. I very much wanted the bragging rights that come with finishing this challenge, but it just didn't work out that way. Maybe next year, or the year after that. Or maybe never. It might never be the right fit for me, and I will have to forgive myself for that. *sigh*

Speaking of forgiving myself. I have so much sewing to do, which I can't start on because I got really overwhelmed at the fabric store last time I went, and then left in a rush, so I don't have all my materials yet. That means I have to find the time to go back and get the rest of the stuff I need, and it frustrates me to no end that I couldn't just get it done before. Also yesterday I probably should have gone in and picked up a few extra hours at work but I didn't, and this morning I handled a situation with my cousin badly. Or not badly, but not as well as I wish I could have. I feel like I'm failing left and right.

I am trying to convince myself that it's okay, that it just means I need to let some stuff go. That I can't do everything well at the same time, and no one expects me to (anymore) except for me. I am the only boss! And I need to lighten up.

A little reminder to be nice to myself today:

PS: ENTER MY GIVEAWAY! Winner will be announced November 30th.

November 19, 2010


I didn't think Christmas was going to bother me much. I know some people have been dreading it for months already, while I was still feeling pretty okay. Christmas? Piece of cake. I have a lot to be excited about. But I am starting to feel a few new twinges of grief as well, and it kind of sucks.

I miss my babies, in the dull, aching way which I have learned precedes the hole-in-my-chest, can't-remember-how-to-breathe kind of way. When it happens, it is like stepping distractedly into the street, experiencing a sudden sense of unease, and then glancing up to find myself face to face with a city bus. I am not looking forward to this feeling, and am trying to figure out a way to prevent it, if I can. But I'm not really sure that I can.

I really want some kind of gift this year that acknowledges that I'm a mom, though I don't know if anyone will think to give me one. And I want to buy presents for my kiddos. I know it's crazy, but it is a kind of crazy that I'm okay with. I will buy them stuff if I want to. Even though they will never use it, I hope that someday, a child of mine will. I like to think of these items as hand-me-downs. It makes me happy to think that a little brother or little sister will have a few things that were passed down to them; that's how it should be, in a family. Things that were gathered with hope, and infused with love. Things with a little bit of history, even if not as much as I would have liked.

I wish I could wrap up the gifts though, and that they would be torn open on Christmas morning by eager little hands. Lissie would have been old enough to really get it this year, and I can just imagine her noisy excitement and her generous spirit and contagious joy. After it was all over, I would have put sticky red and green bows on Noah's fuzzy little head, and taken pictures of them together, still in their jammies, amongst the piles of shredded wrapping paper.

Oh. Oh, my heart.

November 16, 2010

bad dream

I had a dream the other morning, which set an unpleasant precedent for my day. I have been trying to avoid remembering the details, honestly, but I think now perhaps I will try to get them out... Even though doing so will likely steal most of my words away.

It started with me walking up to my grandparents' house on Glenning St. It was still painted red. I knew my mother and sister were inside, and I was coming to meet them and my grandma for some stupid girls only get-together; but I did not expect to see, outside in the driveway, the crocodile, covered in grease, working on an old car. My stomach dropped. He did not even look up, and I hurried past, into the house. Once inside, I was furious. I went up to the room where my sister and mother and grandmother were hanging out, and they acted like they were glad to see me for about 5 seconds, and then completely ignored me.

As I was sitting there, bored and resentful, I could hear the crocodile clanking around outside and I got so angry, finally I couldn't contain myself any longer. I went up to my grandma and said, "Why is he here? How can you still let him come around? Do I have to remind you that he is a child molester? A CHILD MOLESTER!! You know what he did. You know. So WHY is he HERE?"

As I was speaking, my voice rose and rose, in hopes that he would be able to hear me outside the window, and my grandmother's body became very tense. She was smiling so hard that it looked like a death-grimace, frozen on her face, and her eyes got very big and then crossed and then slid into eachother in a really disturbing way, and her hands were clasped so tightly in her lap that they began to melt and fuse into one another. When I finished my short tirade she said, in a reproachful voice, "What do you want me to do?"

"Don't let him come around!" I answered, exasperated.

"I can't do that," she said, frowning now, her hands still melted together.

"Then you won't see me anymore," I said. And I walked out of the room, and out of that house, forever.


I walked for a long time, until I was in some part of a city I didn't recognize. It was kind of post-apocolyptic. There were tumbled down buildings, great slabs of concrete sticking up at odd angles, patches of scraggly grass... and no people. I was very relieved to have found this place. It was as if I had been looking for it all along, and only knew it once I had arrived. I walked around a particular slab of jutting concrete and made my way up broken stairs and twisted paths to a sheltered place, high up. There I lay down what I had been carrying.

It was a body, a woman's body, in a long and flowy white dress. She was clean, and pretty -- and dead; or as good as dead. She was not overweight, but she was heavy, and my arms and back were very tired from carrying her. I was relieved when I was able to lay her there. I did not feel afraid, or even sad; I was just doing what I needed to do. I stood looking at her for a few minutes, as if to be sure she would be okay; then I turned around and climbed back down the way I had come, and walked all the way around the structure, and came to the steep incline of a huge dirt mound. I walked slowly and painstakingly up the mound, and arrived back where I had started, at the base of the concrete slab. I sighed.

I went up the broken stairs again, checked on the body, climbed back down, walked around the building, and arrived at the dirt mound once more. This time, the dirt had some grass growing on it, here and there.

I did this loop over and over again. Each time I arrived at the hill, it had a little more vegetation on it. Eventually there were even tall flowers growing, and the only dirt left was the path I had worn as I walked up over and over. I had the sense of a lot of time passing, as if every time I came around that corner, I was pushing time forward ahead of me, and somehow causing the grass and flowers to grow through sheer force of will. It gave me energy, to think that, and each time I made the loop now, I got a little faster. But just when I was feeling comfortable in this pattern, feeling that I had figured it out, I got to the sheltered place and found that the body I had been keeping vigil with was gone. Gone. I stared at the empty place for awhile, and then staggered back down to finish the loop. Even though I knew deep in my heart that she was gone forever, I didn't know what else to do. When I arrived at the hill this time, other people had appeared, walking on the path and sitting among the flowers, talking and laughing even as sudden clouds roiled virulently overhead. When I got to the top of the hill, my mother was standing there, waiting. She had found me.

"You'll have to come with us, now," she said.


Then I was in a car with my mother and my sister. My sister was driving (but on the right-hand side of the car, which was odd), and my mom and I were in the back. And my mom would not shut up. Every word she said was causing me physical pain, like handfuls of rocks being flung at me. She kept talking and talking, and I kept interrupting her to say, "Could you please stop? Just stop. Just stop talking." But she would not take a hint. And after a while I finally screamed, almost crying, "SHUT UP! SHUT UP, SHUT UP, SHUT UP. STOP TALKING. PLEASE, PLEASE, STOP TALKING!"

And she looked all sad and pathetic, like I'd hurt her feelings; but it shut her up all right. Except my sister was staring at us now, instead of driving, and when I asked her to turn around and please watch the road, she just got defiant and did this slow-blink thing at me that she used to do when she was little and I had to take care of her all the time. It meant: I hear you, and you know it, but I'm still not going to do what you said. So I got pissed then and climbed into the front of the car, where there was a second steering wheel and pedals and everything. I thought, Fine, I'll drive. It's probably the only way I'm ever actually going to get home anyway.

We were coming up on an intersection, and I almost couldn't stop the car in time, but thankfully it was a deserted country road and there was no one else around anyway. "You have got to get these brakes checked," I said to my mom, even though I knew she wasn't listening, because she was too busy being offended. (Ironically, I remembered even in my dream that my parents' cars always had 'brake problems'.)

I took a minute to adjust the mirrors before I started driving again. The rearview mirror had been pointed squarely at my mother; it was grey and very dirty, but I still moved it so I could see out the back window as best I could. My side-mirror was fairly easy to fix. Then I tried to move the one on my sister's side (which was partly shattered), but it wouldn't go where I wanted it, and I thought she was touching it and getting in my way, so I yelled at her and she yelled back and then she put her hands in the air to prove she wasn't touching it. I tried again to adjust it but every time I got it in a place where I could see pretty well, it snapped right back to its original position. So I decided it was just broken, and not her fault after all, and I apologized and left it at that. Then I started driving again.

After putting on an air of injured innocence for quite awhile (which my sister and I simply ignored), my mom suddenly opened her door and jumped out of the car, in an attempt to get us to freak out and feel sorry for her. I could see her out the rearview mirror, sitting in the middle of the road, waiting expectantly for us to stop the car and and turn around and come back for her. We didn't, though.

My sister got kind of upset, but I just muttered "Good riddance," and kept on driving.

So. It wasn't graphic or anything (for me, anyway) but I woke up very unhappy and angry, for a lot of reasons, and my whole body hurt for the rest of the day. Since I don't often remember my dreams in such detail, I figured I better record it. So I did.

PS: Goodness, Karolyn... Have you ever heard anything like it?!

November 13, 2010


I have been feeling not-so-great today, and yesterday I had a killer headache, and thus I am two days behind on my NaNoWriMo word count. :( I will have to try to catch up on Monday, I guess.

In happier news, I got to the fabric store before my headache set in yesterday, and now have lots of material on hand to work with, so I will be able to get some Christmas projects done once I am feeling a bit better. Also -- I finished my 100th book this morning! Click on over to Vera's Bookshelf to find out what I'm doing to celebrate.

November 10, 2010

pardon me...

Haha! I enjoy this picture so much.

But seriously, can you help me out? I am trying to decide what to submit to this year's Creme de la Creme. And it's not that I am overcome by my own awesomeness or anything, but that I am not sure which post best captures the essence of my blog. So, if you feel so inclined, you might let me know of a favorite post you read here in 2010. Thanks! XO -- Vera

November 8, 2010


I have now offically signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), in which I will attempt to pound out an entire novel before the end of November. Go me! I waited all year for this, and then I almost missed actually signing up. Oops. Click the link above or the neat-o button on my sidebar, and check it out... You know you want to.

That being said, I'm not sure how much energy I'll have leftover for my blog, but we'll see. I also have a muchness of sewing to get done before Christmas, so all in all I will be a very busy bee these next couple of months. Wish me luck!

November 7, 2010


All right, my dears, it's time! Thank you all for your entries, I enjoyed reading them so very much.

Short story goes to:
Comment #4 -- Alana of Life After Benjamin. (Your sentence was glorious, by the way.)

Lap quilt goes to:
Comment #13 -- Rhiannon of For the Love of Harper.

I still wish I could make gifts for each and every one of you. Your support and comments really mean a lot to me. Thanks for reading! <3 Vera

*Winners, please see comments for further instructions on claiming your prize.

last chance!

I will be selecting and announcing the winners of the giveaway tonight, around 11:00pm.

November 5, 2010


When I have children who live, I am going to get irritated with them sometimes. I am going to need a break every so often. I am going to look at them from time to time and think: What exactly did I get myself into, here?! And that's okay. I will not be perfect -- and my kids won't be perfect either.

I think that's a trap we often find ourselves in, us babyloss mamas. We think of our babies and all we can imagine at first is their cute little faces and their happy gurgles and the bonding and the breastfeeding and the milestones and the motherly pride. We think we would trade anything; that we would wear spit-up and saggy breasts with a smile, that we wouldn't mind the stretch marks or the sleepless nights or the short-term memory loss, if only our baby was here. And to an extent, that's true. I really would rather have all of those things, than the sorrow that lives now in my heart, and always will.

It's easy to dwell solely on all the lost potential for good -- all the warm fuzzy feelings, every sweet thing we're missing out on -- and thus to feel desperately, endlessly sad. But I think it's important to remember that these babies were people; tiny little people who would have grown up to be as flawed as anyone. Babies who would have pooped on your hand, and broken your sunglasses, and lost the remote. Children who would have talked back, and gotten grass stains on every pair of their jeans, and left a trail of breadcrumbs and jam from the kitchen to the living room. And we would not have hesitated to complain about it, in the comiserating way of our culture.

If they had not died, if none of our babies died, we might still be those moms; the ones we can't stand now, the ones who say the dumbest things. The ones who gripe about being pregnant, or about how tired they are from being up all night with a newborn. We wouldn't think anything of it. We would take it all in stride, not even knowing what it would sound like to someone who longed to experience what was being described. And while perhaps it might make us uncomfortable, to imagine ourselves once again so ignorant and blase, there really is nothing unforgivable in it. It may not be the best attitude, but it is not the worst either; and oh, I wish we were still those moms.


In the early days of grief, I would miss Ailis most when I saw a mother and her baby girl, smiling into eachother's faces, enjoying a moment of bliss. I did not think of Ailis when I saw a little girl having a screaming fit in the grocery store. But you know what? Ailis might have had an occassional screaming fit in a grocery store!

If Ailis had lived, she might have refused to take baths, and we might have had to fight about it every. single. time. She might have hated having bows in her hair, and pulled them out no matter how earnestly I pleaded or bribed. She might have crept out of her bed and sat at the top of the stairs to watch TV over my shoulder late at night. As a teenager -- oh goodness! She might have done any number of naughty, rebellious things as a teenager.

And Noah. If Noah had lived, I feel quite certain that his temper tantrums would have been a sight to behold. He might have stolen cookies from the cupboard after I forbid him to have any more. He might have hidden seventeen frogs in the living room in one afternoon. He might have set fire (accidentally) to the storage shed. He might have clogged the toilets all the time.

They would have been real. They would have been flawed. And I would not have loved them any less for it. I will not love my future children any less when I get irritated with them, either. I do not expect that just because I wanted it so bad for so long, I am never going to get tired or frustrated or disillusioned by motherhood. I am extending this grace to myself. I am giving myself permission (and you too, if you need it) to one day look that beloved rainbow baby straight in the eye, and to take them in, in all their wonderful, gorgeous, unique, living glory, and think:

You, my dear, are driving me absolutely crazy.


Tell me, what are some things your child might have done, had they lived, that would have made you sooo mad?

November 4, 2010

a quick note

There are only a few days left to enter my giveaway, if you haven't already. (Remember, there are three ways to do so!)

Cheers -- V

PS: If you like books, check out my new blog...

November 3, 2010

take it back

Undo it, take it back, make every day the previous one until I am returned to the day before the one that made you gone. Or set me on an airplane travelling west, crossing the dateline again and again, losing this day, then that, until the day of loss is still ahead, and you are here, instead of sorrow.

Nessa Rapaport, A Woman's Book of Grieving

November 2, 2010


Lying in bed, I imagined I could feel Ailis lying with me, the warm weight of her body stretched down the length of my back, one little arm flung carelessly over my shoulder, her sticky-sweet hand hanging in my face; and I curled myself around the place where No-No should have been sprawled, with a faint frown on his face, sleeping the sleep of the just...

And I thought about the miracle of breath, moving in and out of lungs, of blood running swift and sure through veins. I thought about the rise and fall of a seven-month-old's round little belly, and of glossy curls brushed back from a two-and-a-half year old's smiling face. I thought about the work that was begun in me, but never finished, like a length of knitting that came undone. All of the vast potential that was present and waiting inside of them, needlessly and wastefully lost, like an acorn planted, rooted, and then too quickly dug back up. The potential for greatness, for annoying habits, for creativity. The potential for courage, and rebelliousness, and love.


As I thought these things about my children I held myself very still, so as not to disturb their imagined forms beside me. And for a long time I could not sleep. But it was a sacrifice, of sorts. It was discomfort for their sake. It was an opportunity to parent -- even if it was all in my head. And for this one night, it was enough.

November 1, 2010

all hallows

As I was driving home last night I saw rows of glowing jack-o-lanterns on neighbors' front porches, and lots of extra cars parked outside. It made me wonder, suddenly, what exactly was happening in those houses, what their Halloween parties might be like. (I've never actually been to one.) It also made me think, for the first time, that I might really like to host an annual Halloween party, when I have my own place and, later on, a family.

I could totally see it. It would be like an early New Year's Eve -- which for the most part is what the holiday originally was. I would decorate with pumpkins and plenty of candles, and I would invite everyone to come over with their kids in the evening, after they were done trick-or-treating. We could go through the loot together, and then eat lots of candy and cookies and caramel apples and popcorn. There would be mulled wine for the grownups, and hot cider for the kids. I would have an ofrenda set up for my babies, and each person or family could also honor, if they wished, someone dear to them who had died.

The children would fall asleep eventually, sprawled in front of "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" ...but we would be sure to stay up until midnight at least, playing games and talking, as the last day of October slid gently into November 1st -- Día de los Angelitos, Day of the Innocents, All Souls' Day. A day not for fear, but for remembrance, hope, and prayer.

I find it soothing just to imagine this, this blend of rituals and traditions, made personal and new. The thought of the fact of death being readily and gracefully accepted into the life I am building brings me an unexpected sense of peace.


I don't know that the veil is really thinner at this time of year, my loves;
but if it is, say you'll snuggle up close to me tonight?