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.

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.

s had a tough day on friday. he doesn’t work fridays, and he was home alone (unless you count the dogs and cats) from roughly 9-5. when m and i got home in the evening i found, much to my surprise, that the day’s dishes had accumulated in the kitchen, m’s toys from her post-breakfast play were still strewn about our living room, and our bed wasn’t made. very unlike the super-skilled SAHD i’d come to know and love…and rely on. without pointing out that something was obviously wrong because WHAT THE HELL HAD HE DONE ALL DAY???, i just asked s if he was doing ok. i dunno, he said. and the conversation was dropped.

later that evening, once dinner and bath and bedtime were over and we were settling in for a quiet evening of catching up on “the wire,” s came over and sat next to me on the couch. he put his arm around me and stared out the window, and said, very quietly, i can’t get excited about this pregnancy and i’m so sorry. i feel just awful. but i feel exactly like i did while you were on bedrest with ruby. i feel like i’m just waiting for our baby to die. he leaned his head on my shoulder and we cried, together.

he told me that he’d googled “deadbabymomma” and come up with a kajillion hits. then he googled “deadbabydaddy” and came up with nothing. NOTHING. where are the dads, he asked my soggy shoulder. where are the people like me?

where are they indeed? can anybody help my guy?

i want to share news of this pregnancy, and widely, but without imposing on anybody in unnecessary ways. i want to share pictures, and give psychological and emotional updates, but i don’t want to fill people’s e-boxes with my very own version of spam. how can i do this? why, by keeping a blog, of course.

so s and i have started a new blog, which you can find here. or at the bottom of my blogroll, in its very own category. it has only a few posts now, and is not (yet) super informative. i don’t plan on telling folks about it until we’re ready to share the news of the pregnancy, but i thought i’d start working on it now so that when we are ready to share it, whenever/ifever that is, there will be something to read. but i warn you: it will not be for the faint or delicate reader. there is a widget. there will be ultrasound photos. if we get anywhere with this pregnancy, there will be belly shots. there will be all kinds of things that there won’t be here, because i like my readers here and i don’t want to lose them because they don’t want to see pics. or hear regular/gooey/name-your-despised- adjective updates.

it is also going to be very public. it will be primarily for our friends and family, but now that includes you, too, so you can choose, as can they, whether you want to read it and how much you really want to know.

i will not discourage my readers here from reading there, but i will not tell my readers there about this blog, here. i need a place to talk without worrying. i need a safe place to vent, and to process, and to bitch, and to confess. so that’s the me you’ll get here.

as for the me you’ll get there? i’m not really sure. i don’t imagine i’ll be all happy-go-lucky. i guess we’ll learn who that person is, together. if you come over.

and if you don’t stop by? honestly, i can’t say that i blame you. i’m not sure i could, either.

no progesterone tested from tuesday’s blood draw. they’re all apparently still giddy over last week’s 51.6.

and my beta? 17,969. dr l likes it. i like it. the last time i had blood drawn around this time it was in the 14000s somewhere.

i’m still feeling a little emotionally flat, which has s worried. perhaps, however, it’s just off-setting my physically not-so-flat belly. which really, really, really wants some chocolate.

and my brain? it really, really really does not want to dig, although i truly do appreciate the suggestion, carlynn. for example: last fall i responded to a query for women to write up their stillbirth stories for a study. i tried. i hated what i wrote, decided to revise it and couldn’t, so decided to scrap the whole thing and gave up. then two weeks ago the lead researcher contacted me to say “hey, you know, if you didn’t send anything yet, you still can.” i said great! gimme a week and i’ll have something for you. i thought i was ready to give this another go. and every night i consider working on it. and every night i realize i can’t. so when she emailed this morning to politely ask where my materials are, i had to tell her: i can’t revisit this. i think i can and then i find out i’m wrong. i just can’t. (but everything’s fine, right?)

and while i write this i want to cry. so i guess i gotta go dig, like it or not. shit.

i had bloodwork done yesterday, and for some reason i was expecting beautiful, normal numbers when i got the report today. like maybe in the low 30s for my progesterone level, and somewhere in the teen-thousands for hcg. god knows where i got these expectations or what i was doing wasting my time with them.

my progesterone is a whopping 51.6. am i the only one to be scared by that number? i know the docs like the progesterone level to be over 15 — with ruby i think it was 31 or so — but this? i find this bizarre. and bizarre, well, these days bizarre alarms me.

my beta hcg, on the other hand, is a sorry 2257.

now, no matter the online charts i frantically refer to, this number falls in the normal range. sometimes it’s at the low end; other times, it’s square in the middle. and i know — I KNOW — that the number is not nearly as important as its rate of increase. I KNOW THIS AND I DON’T CARE. for some reason, the fact that it’s not higher has me petrified. even though dr l says it’s perfectly fine and he’s very happy with it and i should just come back next week as we initially planned.

anybody want to wager how many hpts i waste between now and then?

aaaaaaarrrrrrrrggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….