Tag Archives: miscarriage

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

girl runningIt’s been one year since I started this here blog, and a lot has gone down since December of 2013. There have been some tragedies, including a second miscarriage and the death of my cousin, but there have also been some triumphs like…you know…admitting to making pasta with hot dogs and…wow, I really can’t think of anything else.

I swore 2014 was going to be a better year than 2013, and on paper, it certainly wasn’t. But I had something this year that I didn’t have last year—all of you. Sharing the madness inside my head and finding out that most of you are just as fucked up as I am has made weathering some of these devastating events much more tolerable.

I’m no longer holed up in the storm shelter talking to myself about my morbid fantasies or why the ant problem in my house has given me a permanent tic. Now I’ve got you guys huddled together with me, patting me on the head and, at the very least, feeling a smug superiority that you’ve got your shit together more than me.

But mostly you’ve all been amazing.

Thank you to people who’ve commented and shared their stories. Thank you to those who’ve emailed me with messages of sympathy and empathy. Thank you to friends and family who’ve told me that this blog made them laugh out loud. That’s all I wanted, really. What I ended up getting was much, much more.

Whether things looked bleak or promising, I knew I could always come here and spill, and none of you have judged me for it. Thank you for making this a safe place to bark at the moon, laugh at the devil, and continue making off-color commentary about my crazy Italian and Mexican families. Here’s to another year—and I won’t jinx it by claiming it’s going to be amazing. I’m just going to ask, can it please not suck? And if it does, well…

…you guys know where you can find me.

A Week of Anniversaries: A Wedding, a Miscarriage, and 9/11

This week is a tricky one for me. On the one hand, it marks the six-year anniversary of my wedding to Alex—one of the happiest moments of my life, next to the birth of my son and the 2004 Red Sox World Series win. (Not even kidding about that Red Sox business. No sports fan could ask for a more epic win.) I know Alex is not a fan of the gushing public declarations of love, so I will only say this: expect a totally gushy blog later in the week. Sorry not sorry.

weddingpic

On the other hand, it represents the one-year anniversary of my first miscarriage. I’m not sure what else I can say about it that I haven’t already said in this xoJane piece about speaking up after dealing with loss. As much as I have moved on, and as much as I am growing more and more fond of our tight little family unit of three, I’m always going to think about it every year at this time. Someone recently told me that grieving is a lifelong process. You never truly get over a loss, you just find a way to deal with it.

Which brings me to my third anniversary of the week: 9/11. No matter how many years pass and how much I feel I might have grown immune to the event, I always get sucked into the media sensationalism, and I always find myself frozen in a sadomasochistic cycle of reliving the trauma. I do it to myself, I can’t even lie.

I’m told by some that the healthy thing to do is to avoid thinking about it at all costs. Others find talking about it cathartic. Just as I felt that I needed to talk about miscarriage after my second pregnancy failed, I feel like I need to watch the footage, I need to reach out to my New York friends and remind them how much I love them. And I need to tell you all my story.

I wrote this on the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It’s every bit as true today as it was then.

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Every year around early September, I become an insufferable grump. I’m irritable, angry, and a bit oversensitive. While usually a social person, I withdraw into myself, preferring the company of wine or TV. Every year I wonder what the heck is going on—until the inevitable documentaries start running on National Geographic. And then it snaps into place.

Oh right, it’s 9/11. And I still can’t believe I was there.

Even just admitting that makes me feel ashamed. I shouldn’t be this affected by it, I tell myself. I survived. Everyone I knew survived. I wasn’t inside the building, like my cousin was. I wasn’t left homeless like many of my college friends were. I just watched it out my window. I was safe in the confines of my lower Manhattan dorm room, and I watched, helpless, as the towers burned and collapsed upon themselves. I viewed it all through this strangely detached lens…one eyeball on the TV, with frenzied journalists attempting the play-by-play, one eyeball out my 14th floor window.

Bits and pieces of the day stand out like the jagged remains of the WTC infrastructure, poking up from a smoldering pile of my memories. But I push them down because I feel unworthy of this level of horror. Like I’m not allowed to feel it. But it happened, regardless of the shame.

The strange part is I’ve told my story probably a hundred times, but if I’m to be completely honest, I can’t even recall if the details are the absolute truth or if they’re just what I’ve told myself is true. Entire chunks of time are missing, and in hearing other people’s stories, those who were with me at the time, I’ve attempted to fill in the blanks.

Why can’t I truly remember on my own? Maybe my brain is trying to protect itself. Whatever it’s attempting to do, it’s not working. Because as each year passes by, I only feel the fear and shame more pronounced. Because I can’t remember. Because I should have reacted with more strength of character. Because I wasn’t a hero, like so many New Yorkers were. Because I didn’t suffer enough.

A week before 9/11, my NYU roommates and I rejoiced in our luck. We had drawn the number one spot for our entire dorm, which meant we could pick any room we wanted. We zoomed up to the top floor and headed to a corner suite. When we opened the door, we smiled and said, “This is the one!” Our view was of the lower part of 3rd Avenue, punctuated by the two largest buildings in Manhattan.

People stopped in just to marvel at the smooth, rectangular behemoths. We toasted to what we thought would be an amazing senior year.

My first class was at 11am, so the plan was to sleep in. But, a little before 9am, I heard a scream and I ran out into our common room. Deep black smoke billowed out from the World Trade Centers. We didn’t know what had happened. Was it a fire in one building or was it two? Wait…there was a plane crash?!

How does a plane crash into a building in New York? One of my roommates had just gotten out of the shower. She had a towel twisted around her hair and she stood next to me watching. Neither of us moved for quite some time.

Despite the thick black smoke, my roommates still left to go to class. I think, at the time, we believed it was just a terrible accident. Did I see the second plane fly into the building? I always remember it that way, though a part of my brain also says no, both buildings were already in flames. All I know is, to this day, when planes fly low near my office (since we are right next to an airport, lucky me), I have intense body-seizing episodes of fear. The angles are too familiar. The sound is too…

The next thing I remember is scrambling. Scrambling to find my friends. Were they in class? Were they in their dorms? So many of my friends lived only a block or two away from the Twin Towers. A couple of them worked in or right next to them. Were they at the office that morning?

Many people started gathering in my room, the room with the view. Our phones were all out, but somehow word go out that girls from my dance team—my best friends—were making their way to us from downtown, attempting to convene at my place.

I remember one friend told us she was instructed to stay inside one of the buildings of the World Trade Center. She said she had a terrible feeling and ran past the guards who were trying to herd the crowds back into the lobby. She got on one of the last subways to leave the financial district and made her way up to us.

Security at the dorms was starting to tighten. They wouldn’t let anyone who wasn’t a resident into the complex. We begged and pleaded and eventually snuck in the girls who had no place to go.

Things started to calm down a bit. Some people went back to their rooms. One roommate came back from class and said that a bunch of people were just standing around in the streets looking up. We did the same, though our view was straight ahead. We just watched and waited.

Through all of this, I felt a strange calm, as though expecting to wake up from a dream. Panic didn’t set in, for some reason, until I heard the terrorists had flown a plane into the Pentagon. Then it was real. Then we were under attack. What building would come next?

As my anxiety built to a fever pitch, I noticed the slightest of shifts in the South Tower building and thought oh no, not possible but before the thought could even fully form, down came the building, pancaking upon itself and taking with it thousands of souls. At that point in time, I knew that my cousin was in the building. Many of our downtown friends had still not been located. Our friend Andy had called only minutes before to say he had been taking pictures. In a flash I thought: they’re all dead.

More time passed. Another building came down. I finally got through to my parents to let them know I was alright. I don’t remember what I said to them, or what they said to me. I have no idea what happened between the hours of 11am and 5pm.

I do know that in the early evening, we realized we had accounted for most of our friends. As each one came up into the room, tears came down our faces. The tears said, You are alive. I can stop mourning you now. But there were still a few more people we couldn’t find. As time wore on, we believed the likelihood of them being alive was pretty slim.

Then…a glimmer of hope.

Word came down (Where the hell did this word come from? With the WTC cell tower down, no one had service. And land lines were clogged.) that a make-shift shelter was being set up at our gym in SoHo for displaced downtown students. So out the door we flew. We ran the mile there in a blink, rushing against the exodus from downtown, breathing in the smoke and the ash, praying, praying that our friends Betsy and Andy were there. I wondered, too, about my ex-boyfriend, whom I last heard had to evacuate his dorm in his pajamas. He brought with him only his keys and his wallet.

We found them. We found them all. Covered in ash. Covered in blood (some not their own). Safe but shaken, severely shaken. My last memory of the day is running across the gym to hug my ex, who was volunteering to help distribute blankets and pillows to students. It may have been 6 or 7pm at that time.

What happened to the rest of the day? Couldn’t say. All I know is I somehow ended up back at my dorm, but this time, I refused to go back to my room with the view. I “slept” in a room with 15 other girls and guys in a huddle of blankets. Someone kicked the remote off the bed and it landed with a crack. We all woke up and cried. Young women and men in their early 20s—we cried when a TV remote hit the floor.

So that’s what I think about on the anniversary of 9/11. In the weeks and months that followed, I lived in a world of missing persons posters, tanks, the constant smell of fire, and a stubborn black dust that always covered my computer screen. If someone mentions 9/11 today, I’ll nod and listen to their story. Then, when they find out I was there, they lean in, expecting drama.

I have none to offer them, and I almost feel sorry. That’s when the shame takes over. I bore witness to a singular event in history, and not only do I feel sorry for, what, not being dead?—I can’t even properly remember it. Instead, I shoved it way down deep in my psyche so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. And now, every year, it rears its head up at me regardless.

It says, here’s a memory: Remember the time you saw people jump 100 stories to their death? Oh, you don’t remember that? Okay, well maybe you really didn’t see it. Maybe you only watched it on TV.

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I wrote that account so I could try to retain what memories I had. Re-reading it, I know I couldn’t have told it in such detail if I tried to write it today, only three years later. Our brains are incredible, mystical organs. Sometimes they shine in moments of brilliance. Other times they utterly fail you.

Every year, in this week of anniversaries, I will honor 9/11 by allowing myself to feel the complex emotions it and the other milestones represent. After all, anniversaries are not just about celebration. They are about weathering the storm. And I wouldn’t be who I am today without all three of them.

Picking Up the Pieces

So life carries on. So on and so forth. A tragedy happens (again) and rocks your world and for a while you watch it go by on the sidelines. You sit behind a haze of grief and pain and you marvel at people putting one foot in front of another, cleaning their houses and paying their bills and caring for their babes. You think…huh. I wonder when I’ll have to start doing that again. And then soon, all too soon, you are supposed to dust yourself off and join them.

So I have.

I’m back at work this week. I’m writing stuff. I’m paying bills. I’m caring for (and hugging just a little bit tighter) my child. I’m brushing my hair and showering and getting dressed. I’m putting one foot in front of the other. But it still feels like I’m not quite back in the world. Like I’m miming through life, going through the actions but not experiencing them, not really. This is my impression of a woman moving on.

I can feel that with each day that passes, with each pretend action, I am putting more space between myself and That Thing That Happened. And with the space comes some air, a bit more clarity, a bit less haze. But I can’t seem to jump back into the world with everyone. I feel like I’m running alongside it, or that some shadow version of me is there, going through the motions, while the real me is still raw with pain, floating on the outside of it all. That me is a me I can’t confront. I need to trap her out there and keep going through the motions in here. Because I fear if I pop this bubble, the facade will come down and the grief, the tremendous weight of it, will crush me and I won’t even be able to pretend anymore.

So bear with me while I go through the motions. As long as we keep it light and breezy, I think I can stay in here for a bit longer. Maybe someday I’ll really show up. But for now, shadow me will have to do.

No Day But Today

lonelytreeI seem to recall thinking that 2014 was going to be a good year. Last year was a financially frustrating year for our family, punctuated by a miscarriage. I banged out this sanctimonious blog about how our luck was going to change, and how I was going to resolve to make 2014 a glorious year. Then I kept on doing the same things I did in 2013 and expected something to change.

It didn’t.

Not 15 days into the new year, I lost my cousin. Then a couple months later, my high school boyfriend and first love passed away. And now, a second miscarriage. I know there’s nothing I did to make these things happen. But they did, because life can be incredibly unfair. It is for my Auntie Claudia, who lost her son. It is for my high school boyfriend’s family, who lost their brother. It is for my mom and dad, who lost three babies after me. And it would be easy for me to say that it is for me and Alex, who so looked forward to giving Lucas a little brother or sister.

But then I had a thought. Very few good things that have happened in my life have been the result of luck. One was Alex. It was pure dumb luck that I met my future husband and father of my child in Las Vegas. The second was Lucas. It was pure dumb luck that we made this baby about five seconds after we decided to have children, and that he turned out to be such a beautiful, bright, happy boy. For those two lucky things, the two most important things, I am and will always be grateful. For everything else, I have had to work and work hard. So why did I think that I could rely on luck to make 2014 a good year?

I know this: it would be very easy for me to shrug and chalk this year up to another shitty year. There are so many moments when I want to just give up. But then I remember how I harped on the word “resolve” when I talked about making 2014 a good year, and I realize there is no such thing as luck—good or bad. There’s what life gives to you and what you make of it. So what has life given me? A wonderful husband and a gorgeous son. A loving family and a small but precious set of amazing friends. I already have those things, the things that so many other people would kill for.

So what should I make of it? I should step back and appreciate these gifts. When Lucas remembers the lyrics to “Sweet Caroline,” belting out “So good! So good! So good!”, I should take that nugget and burrow it into my heart. When he looks at me with his lash-covered almond eyes and cracks open his wide grin, I should let that image burn its way into my brain. When Alex queues up an episode of Dr. Who and laughs in all the same places I laugh, and his laugh makes me laugh harder, and his smile still gives me the butterflies, the beautiful kind, then I should savor it and let that warmth spread into my belly and remember it 40 years from now when we’re sitting on our front porch yelling at the neighborhood kids for stepping on our lawn.

And when it seems like the universe is piling it on, I shouldn’t let the weight of these events accumulate and bury me. I can’t think about the “what ifs” or “could haves.” I can just wake up today and breathe in and out. Today is the only day there is. It might not be a great day, but I can make the most out of it by taking a good look around and realizing just how fortunate I am.

I don’t know if 2014 is going to be a good year or not. I can’t think in those terms anymore. I can just do my best to make today a day worth living for. And then I’ll wake up tomorrow and breathe again.