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.

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when you run your url through this site it will not only rate your blog, it will tell you what terrible/wonderful things you did to earn your rating.

my sins? i wrote “death” five times, “dead” three times, and “bitch” once. i’m pretty sure i meant to say “bitch” more than once — god knows i’ve thought it more than once. and what about “whore”? “whore” seems to me to be a bad word. sure as hell isn’t angel, anyway. but it doesn’t even make it onto the list of naughty things i’ve said. maybe i’ve been wrong all along, and whore isn’t a worse word than either “death” or “bitch.” (i’m pretty sure that the little tool does not account for context, so i doubt that the censors excuse me just because i use the word when talking about a toddler’s shoe preferences.)

i’m fascinated by three different bits of the algorithm of grammar implied by this tool.

first: can’t these tools do more than simply count? back when i had only said “dead” 3 times i was pg-13. i am not lying. what good are all of our technological advances if they can’t even give us a good look at one of the tools that all of use every day just to stay alive? or at least to stay human. (or am i misremembering my fourth-grade science, that language is one of the things that sets us apart from other mammals, or at least from other mammals with opposable thumbs?) ok, what i really want to ask is “why are these tools so dumb?”

second: when you describe something terrible, as long as you use nice words, well, then what you’re saying must be nice, right? because we all know that meaning is always explicit and language is always transparent. and bad words live in the ether, or our minds, or our mouths, as bad words, and good words are always good words. no mixing and matching. no subtlety, for chrissakes.

third, and something that deadbabymommas everywhere know: death and dead are terribly bad words. they are scary. and people should be protected from them. and should shun women who use them too often, especially in public.

dead dead dead dead dead dead dead. two of my daughters are dead. their deaths sadden me. their deaths depress me. their deaths leave a pit in my stomach and make my breath catch in my throat. their deaths leave me with phantom-baby-sensations in my empty arms. their deaths terrify me and make me worry that the rest of my family will die and be dead and there is nothing i can do about it.

count that, f*cker.