it’s time, i think, to close down shop.

when i started this blog i intentionally chose not to be anonymous. partly, i figured, that my webworld and my real world, at least in this arena, would have few reasons to collide. and partly i had some vague but grandiose notions about integrity and honesty and not hiding. so i figured hiding in plain sight — not writing a totally anonymous blog, but not sharing the blog with people i didn’t necessarily want reading it — was a good compromise. and it has been. but it no longer is.

hiding in plain sight is more complicated, and not as easy, as i thought it would be. so i’m reconsidering my options. one is to keep this site and go totally password protected. another is to keep this site and simply password-protect those posts where it seems necessary or relevant, or that at least it will assuage my anxiety. and yet another is to rebuild, this time anonymously. i’m leaning toward the latter.

in the meantime — both while i figure out what i want to do, and then get around to actually doing it — i’ve not been posting or commenting elsewhere. (but notthemama, i have a few choice words for your dog-owning employers, most of which stem from my own awareness of class issues and my discomfort with people who feel like it’s ok to pay people to clean up their messes. in your case this is complicated because not only do they not pay you to clean up, they expect it and are graceless anyway. double-grrrr.) so i’m quiet on the ‘nets, but not because i’m not thinking about you all or keeping up with you.

please stop by to visit tash today. and if you can, send some love and sympathy her way at 4:45, the time of maddy’s birth.

since niobe has graciously tagged all her readers, and since i believe my readers are enough like me that they don’t want to hear about again, still, come on already carole write about something else, the vanishing twin, i figured i’d give it a whirl.

10 things i don’t get:

the replacements. sorry, s. but you can keep trying to change my musical tastes.

this new city i live in. it’s kinda the south, kinda the midwest, with a bit of eastern flair thrown in. it has an identity crisis and as best as i can tell, nobody who lives here loves living here. weird.

meddling. do you really think you’re so smart that everybody wants your input on everything — or frankly, anything? and if you were so smart, don’t you think your life would be way too interesting and busy and rich for you to be walking around giving everybody else advice? think about it for a minute. if you can.

pe.doph.ilia jokes. i know a woman whom i don’t consider a friend, although many of my friends do. she is short. she likes to tell these jokes. many of her friends laugh at them. wtf?

drivers who won’t move out of the merge lane, even though they don’t need to be in it. ok, i get that they are egocentric enough not to acknowledge that driving is a community effort and other people actually are on the road, and that we all need to work together to make this thing called “traffic” work. i just don’t get why they have that mindset.

a particular religious faith which shall go nameless for now. but i was raised in it and roughly half of my family are still believers. i don’t usually care much what people believe in, at least in the privacy of their own homes — it’s not my business, right? — but i gotta say, really? you really believe in something that has been historically documented as 19th-century science fiction? really?

enough time with my friends. especially since i was stupid enough to move away from all of them.

enough time with myself.

my own hang-ups. i have so many, and i’ve had them for so long, you’d think i’d have a clue by now. but no.

weird little-kid foods. see julie on this (scroll down to “i wish i were making this up”). why — why? — make the choice to teach kids unhealthy relationships with food?

for weeks i had been hoping to compose a brilliant and insightful and ever-so-slightly weepy post: the half-life of hope. the math is just so gorgeous: this is my eighth pregnancy. i’m hoping it brings my fourth delivery. and i’m hoping that delivery brings my second, fantastically living and breathing and healthy child.

i wanted to write about all the hope that comes with that math: my willingness to believe in good luck, at least for a few months; my willingness to believe that it’s time for my life — my family’s life — to swing back up after hitting rock-bottom; my willingness to trust my body to obey my mind, not whatever fucked-up chemical signals go on in my brain that cause my water to inexplicably break. i wanted to be a woman who was hopeful, to be a woman who was writing about being hopeful.

and i wanted to write about the sadness of hope actually having a half-life. about the way we want hope to spring eternal but then it doesn’t, although it comes back, doesn’t it, and when it comes back it carries our grief with it so that it’s never unadulterated, never pure, never joyful, even when it is at its absolute best.

but i don’t feel like i can write about that now because somehow the math is wrong. maybe not technically, but still, it really is: this is still my eighth pregnancy, and i still do hope it ends in my fourth (and final) delivery of a second living child. but i’m totally thrown by the equation eight pregnancies  eight embryos. i realize now that my eight pregnancies have produced nine embryos that i was somehow foolish enough to believe that a pregnancy equaled a baby. not necessarily a living baby, but a baby. one baby. even though i am surrounded by examples that teach me otherwise, i still, for whatever reason, had this completely unconscious belief.

which is ok, i suppose. it’s not like facing the reality that one pregnancy ≠ one embryo is that hard. it’s not like my worldview has been spun on its head. and it’s not even like a child of mine has died (although obviously another one has — it’s just so, so very different — and relatively, so freakishly easy — to have a first trimester miscarriage, which i can honestly say now that i think i’ve had four). but i want to know how the math works. how do i tally this? what are my new numbers?

and i’m upset that in my dr’s world, the math is no different. how do i count this pregnancy, i asked him. how does it fit into my history of pregnancies and miscarriages and losses?

his answer: it doesn’t.

that’s right, that’s what he says: it doesn’t. it doesn’t count as a miscarriage, and since kiddo#2 (wait, is that kiddo #9?) will just be reabsorbed either by me or by kiddo #8/kiddo #1, i probably won’t cramp or bleed or have any signs of a miscarriage. and my gravida-stats don’t change. he even said — his first mistake, in my opinion, as my caregiver — that all that matters is a positive outcome.

well, i think he’s wrong. i’m not usually a numbers-type of girl. but obviously these numbers — my gradvia-stats — have come to mean a lot to me.  i can tell you exactly what happened with each pregnancy — how each of the seven babies died, and how the one baby lived — and when things happened, and how. and the counting has mattered. the dates have mattered. the gestational age has mattered. my choices at different developmental stages have mattered. the stories i tell myself about my pregnancies are full of numbers that are deeply personal, deeply meaningful.

and now i have a loss — an early loss, a perfectly acceptable loss, probably even a beneficial loss — that i can’t count. and i just don’t know how to wrap my head around that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~edited to add~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

i can’t believe that in my frazzled, number-less state, i forgot: there are women suffering much more from the loss of a twin. if you haven’t already, please visit alexa and send her and simone your support.

i’ve been up all night composing and re-composing this post. every draft sucks. i have too much to say, no clear idea of how i want to say it, and right now, no time: i’m late to leave for a conference that will take me an hour to drive to, and we have flash floods predicted. but here goes.

s was right: twins.

and i was right: not.

we now get to add to our list of reproductive insanity a vanishing twin. only he’s not quite vanished: he’s still there in his own little sac filled with amniotic fluid, heart still beating. but like ruby (what is it with my kids and their damn strong hearts?) it was beating without pumping any blood. we watched the heart beat, oh-so-slowly, without making any sound. confirmation came when the ultrasound showed no blue and red splashes, indicating veins and arteries in action.

i’m not sad, which kind of surprises me. i’m very relieved. but i was also up all night thinking about this, so it’s obviously hit some emotional chord. i’ll be working this one out for a while, i think.

as for version 4.0: she looks great.

ruby and i should be in the hospital, either getting ready to meet each other or getting ready to come home. she should be snuggled up in the rose-colored blanket i knitted for her while i was on bedrest, wearing a matching knitted cap to keep her li’l fontanel warm. she should be gripping one of my fingers as she nurses at my breast, which may or may not be producing milk yet, but which would be providing some form of sustenance and, at the very least, some emotional comfort. she should be crying through the night and being swaddled and shooshed by her now-expert-at-all-things-karp daddy. she should be soiling diapers and spitting up on me and wrapped in a sling around my torso. her big sister should be practicing her gentle touches and throwing temper tantrums because she doesn’t want to share her mom and dad, and learning to share her bedroom (if not her stuff) with her little sister. her grandparents and aunt and uncle and baby cousin should be preparing meals to bring over so s doesn’t have to do everything on his own. her long-distance friends and family should be showering her with love and us with well-wishes.


instead she is dead. her ashes are on our mantlepiece, still in the pathetic white cardboard box we received them in from the funeral home because we can’t find a more appropriate container that we actually like. her hand-knitted blanket is folded up underneath the box of ashes. next to the blanket and the box is the picture of ruby that we took with us to the compassionate friends annual memorial service, which was a different sort of misery.  ruby’s newborn clothes — all inherited from her big sister m — are still in m’s bottom dresser drawer, exactly where i put them last august in a fit of what i thought was excellent advance planning. her premie-sized knitted cap is being worn by her good luck totem, shackleton the jellycat penguin. shackleton and slim piggins, her good luck pig from her aunt and uncle, are sitting in the cradle in m’s room. her handmade quilt, which matches the one i made for s and me, is folded up in the bottom of the cradle.

it’s all part of the big mess that has become our lives since may 2007, when we moved 700 miles, bought a new house, i started a new job, and we found out ruby was coming.  i’m sure i’m wrong about this — please let me be wrong — but nothing has been good since then. we are struggling to make sense of our new lives. we are struggling to settle into our new house, our new city. we miss our friends, our old routines, the comfort of familiarity. i miss being happy. i miss me.

but today, more than anything in the world, i miss my little daughter. i miss the baby i should be holding and nursing and and and. i miss ruby.

life at our house is a series of mundane activities that everybody moves through like automatons. and it’s more or less all my fault.

i am completely lifeless. i have been prescribed an antiemetic and an anti-nausea prenatal vitamin. i voluntarily went on the BRATT diet after staying home from work two days ago with a fever and the punies. last night i ate white rice and toast for dinner, and promptly threw it up. i’ve lost four pounds this week.

i don’t laugh at anything. i struggle to smile around m, even when she is giggling or sitting in my lap laughing. i can barely touch the dogs. i don’t find s’s jokes even remotely amusing (and sometimes they’re not, but i almost always laugh, at the very least, at his effort.)  i expend most of my energy trying not to vomit. what i have left, i spend trying not to pass out.

i’ve had morning sickness in each pregnancy that lasted longer than the first trimester, and it’s always been bad. it starts in the morning and gets progressively worse during the day. but i threw up only once with each of the girls, and each time it was very late in the first trimester; with ruby, it was in the second. i did not expect this, this time around. and i don’t know how to deal with it.

s is afraid it means we’re having twins. i’m afraid it’s going to kill me, or break us up, or destroy what little is left of my sanity. by the end of every day i have no idea how i’ll possibly make it through another 24 hours, let alone eight more weeks. even one day at a time seems completely unmanageable.

in my more dramatic moments i have thought it a good thing that we don’t keep guns in the house. in my less dramatic moments i hope to be medically diagnosed with dehydration so at least i can be hospitalized and s won’t be required to care for me while trying to feed and clothe and bathe and walk and play with the rest of the family.

but in my more sane moments i realize that this is it. i can’t possibly do this again. i am too old, too worn out, too emotionally wasted. a friend last fall told me she marveled at my ability to look despair in the face and say “fuck you.” these last few weeks, though, i’ve realized i don’t have that kind of fight left in me. despair, weariness, exhaustion: they have won. this is our last pregnancy. our last hurrah. our last stand. and i can barely begin to contemplate what that might mean.