Thursday, January 26, 2012

6 months 1 day

Yesterday was Nathaniel's six month birthday. It was the first thing that I thought as soon as I woke up.

Six months old. Six months not old. Six months lost. Six months gone.

I missed him. Fiercely. But not in the way that I was howling. I had howled the day before.

Yesterday, and today, I missed him from a place of love, which is easier to bear. I just love him so much, and I can feel the openess of the love and belonging. Today, I even felt happy, simply because I was not in excruciating pain.

We bought a farm. The 25th of January, six months after Nathaniel was born and died, was the first day that we owned it. It's a small farm on an island. We went out there today and I just cried. It's all about Nathaniel.

I cried while I was out there and wished that I had my baby strapped onto me in some way - in a sling or backpack. Some way to hold him and feel his little body and warmth. I wish I had a collection of little hats for his head.

I think about everything I want to show Nathaniel on the farm.

I wish I could teach Nathaniel about chickens and rabbits. We could start seeds togethers and grow a tremendous garden of flowers and vegetables. Raise a goat or a lamb or a horse.

It's all about him. It's all about Nathaniel. The farm is all about finding ways to keep him near.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Eleven days shy of six months.

Before Nathaniel, when I needed some advice that I wasn't getting from other people, I would try to access my inner 50 year-old: the person who I imagine I will be when I'm 50. There have been many times when I have imagined sitting down with her in the garden and asking her for advice and direction.

I cannot access my inner 50 year old now. After Nathaniel, I have no idea who I will be when I'm 50, or if I'll even get there. Grief has changed all of that.

I can't imagine the future right now. I'm just moving forward, sometimes minute by minute. Sometimes hour by hour. I'm trying to get some volunteer opportunities going. I think that if I do some volunteer work I can become something more than I was before.

I wonder if I need a better attitude, or to try to have a more optimistic outlook. I have an aversion to sentences that start with "my therapist says. . ." but here's one anyway: my therapist says that it's too soon, and that I don't have to worry about trying to be optimistic or having a good attitude. My baby just died, and that is tragic.

So I go through the day hollow. I take a yoga class and I breathe into the hollowness of my soul, and try to find the clearest truths I can. I react inappropriately in situations, and then isolate myself because I'm afraid of reacting inappropriately.

I guess that I'm impatient with the grief. I'd like to have some peace.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


In ancient Greece, people believed that babies came from the wind. They thought that when the wind blew in a certain way, a woman would become pregnant. 

Shortly after Nathaniel died, one of the wiser women in my life told me this. I don't know if the history is accurate or not. But it makes sense to me that babies could come from the wind. I've never personally seen a sperm cell swim.

That's a tongue twister: sperm cell swim sperm cell swim sperm cell swim.

I'm not trying to conceive. 

My grandmother told me that babies just happen. That has certainly been my personal experience, and what I've witnessed to be true for other people. All the science and math in the world can't give some people babies for no reason that doctors can explain, and other people seem to conceive and carry and birth effortlessly. I've never tried to get pregnant. I've been pregnant twice. I've had two babies. One died.

In the process of finding out about Nathaniel's condition, and trying to uncover why he had his rare chromosomal abnormality, the specialists took a blood sample from me for genetic testing. As it turns out, I'm a "carrier." Nathaniel got his condition from me.

Nathaniel's chromosomes look something like this:
47, XY, +der(22),t(11;22)(q23.3q11.2), mat

What this means for me is that I have a 5 - 6% chance of having another baby with Nathaniel's chromosomal abnormality, and about a 50% chance of having a viable pregnancy as a "carrier."

I'm 38 years old. I'll be 39 in three months. I don't know the exact statistics, but I'm pretty sure my  age also knocks down my chance of a viable pregnancy.  

One of my sisters is a known carrier. She has had multiple miscarriages. I don't even know how many. She has two children.

Being lost without my baby means that I'm a bit guano loco. Consciously, fully stepping into "trying to get pregnant" and having a baby scares me. What if I try and fail because of age, or chromosomes, or lack of wind? What if I try and succeed, and then carry my baby knowing that my baby could die at any time? I've learned that babies die for all kinds of reasons. 

guano. loco.

I do feel some pressure that, if we're going to have a baby, we should get on it because of my age, and frankly, because of my husband's age, too. He's going to be 50 in March.

At this point, I don't think that I can try to conceive. I think that maybe, in another 6 or 7 months, I could open myself to the possibility, remember that babies just happen, keep my sails in healthy condition, and see if there are favorable winds.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012


On Christmas morning, when I went outside to check on the chickens, there was a bluejay standing on the patio, about ten feet away from me. I was surprised by the sweet bird, and felt that wonder of whether it had something to do with Nathaniel. Standing in the backyard in my bathrobe I started to cry, only in part because I was sad, but more because I was hopeful for that glimmer of connection with my son.

I believe that it's possible that birds relay messages between worlds.

So I watched the bird. He was an unusual kind of bluejay -- his head was fuller, the feathers standing away, ruffled. His body was fuller, too, like he was a bigger jay, but younger somehow. His breast was grey. He only hopped around the yard; I never saw him take flight. I wondered if he's a different breed of bird altogether.

There was a second bluejay in the yard Christmas morning, so I was able to compare their bodies more closely.  The second blue jay was much more familiar, like the common jays I see regularly. He had a much sleeker body - its feathers lay flatter against his head and breast, and he hopped around but also took flight easily, moving between the air and earth effortlessly. But both of the birds were blue all over except for the breast, which was grey. They just had very different shapes and behaviors.

I watched the first bird that I saw for as long as I could. I even took a picture of him, but the picture didn't properly capture his presence or his uniqueness. It was like he was a different kind of bluejay, the way Nathaniel was a different kind of human. Nathaniel's DNA was fundamentally different from the DNA of people who thrive on this planet. He had extra genetic material, which made basic survival -- breath, food, water -- an insurmountable challenge.

For a short while, it seemed like the bird wanted my attention, and he got it. But after about 10 minutes, he didn't want my attention anymore, and he hopped around to the side of the house and tried to hide from me. So I left him alone.

A few days later David found the sweet bird dead in the front yard, underneath the windows of his office.  I don't know how long he had been there. It looked like the same bird with the fluffy feathers around the head and body. Seeing him dead made the hole in my soul whistle and moan for Nathaniel. And I don't know what to make of it. It definitely seems like some kind of sign or symbol, but I don't know what.

A reminder that all things die? That the material world and all things living are just here temporarily? Thanks, but that's a life truth that is very clear right now. That Nathaniel is not far away? Maybe that wishful thinking. I don't know how to interpret this experience, or if it's one of those things that exists only in the realm of symbol, and is not for me to solve or make sense of.

But I would really like to understand.