Saturday, March 18, 2006

st. patrick's day

St. Patrick's Day for me and for Rob will be forever remembered. Not for green beer. Not for 'shamrock shakes' from McDonald's, but for the daughters we fondly and wistfully think of every March 17 - from 1985 onwards -- the day of their stillbirth and the day of our first encounter with grief.

Today they would have been 21 and its only now that i've ceased working, running around, visiting with my daughters and grandkids, working out and walking the dog that its sunk in. This was the day they were 'born'. They were actually supposed to be born in July of that horrible year, but instead of things going smoothly like everyone hopes for, things went horribly wrong and no-one was the wiser until it was too late. We didn't even know we had twins until i got a phone call from the doctor, after being investigated for being large for dates and having 'knockout fights' within my innards every day, it was discovered and told to me like this: "Kathy, you are pregnant with twins and one of the babies is already dead." WHOMP -- first blow. I could heardly breathe. I kept asking him: "Are you serious? What??!!! Is this true?" It just caught me off balance. I asked him: "What am I going to do? what about the other baby?" He matter of factly informed me that I would have to carry the dead baby to term with the live one.. . which made me really uncomfortable thinking about that. .ugh. . . Second blow. . .had a hard time with this reality. I felt like it was all some ghastly nightmare and i would wake up at some point. I remember looking at my stomach and feeling so strange. They booked me for a specialized ultrasound, one long week later. I don't know if there was a longer week in my life prior to or since? I cried all the time. . my 3 year-old daughter didn't know why I had become like this. She would put her hand on my shoulder and say : "Don't cry, Mommy, its all right." It was hard to go to work, cook suppers, be there for my daughter. Rob felt helpless.

Ultrasound time. . .i'm on the table -- silent technician -- I knew. . . I waited for the doctor to review it with me, which he did. He asked me if i'd felt any movement. . . i didn't know. . . i guess? kinda rolling movement, maybe? I didn't like the look in his eyes. His mouth was tight. . .like my throat. "Mrs. Allan, I'm sorry to tell you that the viable twin has died." Third blow. I had to get out of that place, back to a place where there was still life, this was a bad place to be. . i wanted to go home. I don't remember the ride home. However I remember not wanting to go out in public the following week - for some reason they would not induce me for another week. I wasn't retaining much, they would tell me stuff, but it was just like I was hearing them underwater. . . I didn't want to see pregnant women, I didn't want to see babies. I didn't want people coming up to me and asking: "So, when are you due?"

Its hard to induce labour when its not time . After 8 hours of unproductive agony, i received a day off and then the date was set again. . St. Patrick's Day. . I got some green jello in the labour room. . i don't remember if i ate it? i don't think so. . . The labour started and i went through the whole thing. . . just like my first baby. . . only this was so pointless. A mother can go through all kinds of pain if she's going to be able to hear that first cry and hold that little squirmy darling. . but this? this was just indescribable. I wished that they would knock me out so that I could just wake up when it was over. They said they couldn't do that without performing surgery and i didn't want that Time came to go to the delivery room and Rob was beside me, thank God for him! They had me on laughing gas to help take the edge off. . . i was laughing my head off!!! which sort of put the tense medical staff at ease. . . we all laughed. . it was insane. . we knew it. The gas stopped, it was time and things grew quiet. The doctor delivered one, then the other. . in silence . . aside from my weeping and the nurses with their tears falling. All at once the mystery was solved -- our daughters were casualties of a double umbilical cord 'accident'. . . they were lying in the 'wrong' positions and this caused their lifelines to become tangled and knotted. Rob looked at their tiny forms. . .i couldn't do it. I was too afraid of how they would look, too afraid to bond -- the final blow. . . going back to a maternity ward with empty arms -- hearing the cries of newborns and the excited conversations of happy, joyous families. . . I had my own room - i was exhausted but sleepless -- my eyes would look at things but not see. The next day they sent me home. I was never so glad to see St. Patrick's Day end. Rob had to handle the final arrangements -- I couldn't deal with anything. He chose a pretty, white casket - my grandparents paid for the plot, we chose the stone and our twin daughters were laid to rest in the 'children's garden' of the cemetery.

I recovered physically, but i was just so hollow. We received so many cards of sympathy, flowers. It was overwhelming. However, some people told me stuff like "God doesn't make mistakes, you know, its His will." I can't describe the fury those comments stirred in me. I'm sure they meant well, but those words felt like they branded my soul. . they stung and burned.

Sometimes I would have these nightmares in which I'd hear babies crying and I'd be frantically running and running, trying to find them and i never could. I had such a scary jealousy when I saw pregnant women, babies. . . and if i saw twins, or heard the word 'twins'. . . .oh i can't even say.

I was a zombie. . i felt so bad for my little girl. . . who wanted her Mom back. Thank God for her though, i was forced to eventually snap out of it. Rob had his own way of coping with all of this. . he became quiet. . and i could just not stop going over and over it all. . .countless time upon time. . I didn't understand him and he wasn't like me. . . Yes, thank God for our daughter! She helped us through the tunnel. We remember a touchingly bittersweet moment at the shopping mall a few months later. She had received 2 helium balloons from the cashier at Sears. When we got out to the car, Lindsay let go of her balloons and we all put our heads back to see them zoom up and up and up, until they were just little dots. She said: "These are for my baby sisters, to make them happy." Children are awesome.

You know, writing this took me right back . . . I didn't go to their grave today. It sounds callous, I suppose. But I know that they're not there. . and life has gone on. Now i imagine how they would have looked, what their voices would have sounded like, what kind of food would they have enjoyed? would they be musical? athletic? I wish that we could have had the privilege of knowing them. . and them knowing us. We loved them so much, the promise of them, the twinness of them, which blew us away! I got pregnant again a short while later. . but that baby never took a breath - i miscarried at the start of my 4th month, which just about finished me off. . Rob too. . I felt like i was losing my sanity by that point and I kept thinking that I was being punished by God. . i don't think that now. I don't know why any of that happened, but it did and its okay now. In July, 1986 we had our 5th and final child: another beautiful daughter!!! I can't even tell you what that joy felt like. . . it was like a beautiful tidal wave of emotion. . . it just rolled right over top of us and cleansed away all the cloying grief and made us feel new again. As we held our baby and looked closely at her, we saw a perfect red heart-shaped birthmark beside her right ear. A sign. . . . . of love, our love, God's love , everything was going to be all right.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


I've been thinking. . .

I've been thinking that most of my life has been spent longing for something or someone.

Nothing wrong with that, in fact its good.

I wonder if there are any memories or experiences that haven't been coloured with longing?

When I was little i longed for dumb little trinkets, candies, all the toys in the Sears Christmas Wish Book!!! My sisters and I would lay on the floor and pore over those enticing pages. I longed for warm fuzziness in my life, like being at my Nana's house and that 'house smell' i loved. I longed for any occasion to eat her delicious food, watch her cuckoo clock, visit my Bop's study, with its endless entertainment for us odd little girls who typed messages on the ancient typewriter and elected a 'runner' to take them upstairs to our grandparents and parents. The desk and chair, the book-lined walls - i loved them because I loved who they belonged to. I don't know which i preferred, the kitchen with Nana or Bop's study. I always longed to spend time in the rec room decorated with all the evidences of their world travels. . the Charles Dickens "Curiosity Shoppe" tapestry, the scratchy red brocade chesterfield, the crazy exercise device that looked like a springy lounge chair, on which we girls would lie supine, then arch backwards and let our hair hang down on the carpet, then snap upwards to touch our toes. Good thing we loved it, cuz Nana didn't use it!!! I longed to look at the photograph wall - on which was displayed everyone in our family -- distant cousins, all the aunts and uncles and greats, and great greats - I memorized the poses, their faces. When my Nana died their house became my Bop's hermitage, where he hid and pined for 10 years before he left us. I longed then for the old house with everyone in it and the way things used to be. It had always felt as though this little place was the magical lynchpin holding us all together. Now i long for it in my dreams. I dream of them often. . they're alive, they talk to me, they drive, they cook. . they are real for at least 1 REM cycle, maybe 2 . . .

Sometimes in life i would long to go back, other times i would long to jump ahead. .but it was always dogging me - that restlessness. When transition came i wanted to regress back and go to comfort. Yet once I got used to it, i began to long for more. . . it was never enough. . i couldn't just be. I couldn't just enjoy 'now' without wishing and longing for days from now or months or years. . . Longing is such a restless, demanding thing. Its always pushing for more. I longed for stupid things on the way to being a grownup. . I vacillated backwards and forwards, wanting the past, wanting the future - never settling in the present. When my hair naturally darkened from blonde to brown, i longed for it to go back the way i knew it! I longed to have blue eyes, instead of the golden brown ones i had been 'unfairly' issued. When i outgrew my favourite clothes and had to pass them to my sister i longed to keep them!!! I remember wearing a ridiculously short dress, with my long legs miles underneath it, rather than see it on my sister!
I went to school with cute, little Cindy Brady-looking girls, so i longed to be cute and little. I felt so awkward, taller, larger. I longed to be like everyone else. When I became even older i longed for a boyfriend. I practiced kissing my pillow, which was really just dumb, but oh well!!! maybe it helped?!! When I had one boyfriend I longed for a nicer, better one and so on and so on. . and then finally i found THE one!!! and i longed to be with him always and not living in different cities, and i longed to wear an engagement ring. . then i longed to be a bride and plan a wedding, and I stocked my hope chest and practiced writing my new last name before it even was mine!!!

You'd think that longing would give me a rest. . but i began to discover that no matter what happened to me i didn't stop, i couldn't. The longings morphed into adult things . . Longing for a job to be able to make money to live on. . . of course years down the road, i now find myself longing for retirement!!! I longed to carry a child and carried several. . wonderful, marvellous, loved being pregnant - but towards the end i was longing to get them outta there so i could sleep again!!! Like THAT was going to happen, as i then began longing for them to stop crying, and then for them to eat normal food, and then for them to speak and walk and read and on and on. . Then came the longing for our own house. . . and when that came to pass, i longed for the money to be able to fix our fixer upper! Then i started longing to be free of our mortage.

No matter what was going on, there was always that yearny, longy feeling and i started to clue in sometime in my early 30s that all the things I had wanted and sought just never seemed to do the trick for me; which was when i had this epiphanous, light bulb moment where I realized that my longing was not necessarily for all these many, many things or people or goals or whatevers, no matter how wonderful they were. . . it was all for Him.

Okay, so I mean to say that I'm convinced that I am meant to long. Yes. I am. It makes sense to me, that's why its always there, that's why it drives me and never lets me be. I just didn't understand what to do with that and now I do. I long for spirit connection - I long for God. Have you ever felt that? when everything else and everyone else is there and still you feel it? You've ticked off this and that and the other from your Life's Accomplishment List and it gnaws at you. . .or maybe you don't have as many tick marks are you think you should, so you go and you do and you try and you seek and you accomplish. . nah, those didn't quite do it. . The swirl of it all can be quite exhilerating, the fun, the challenge, the risk. Its only in my quietest moments that I would feel the lack, and you know how it is -- quiet moments are at a premium.

So began my life with longing to know God and i'm living with that longing. Now its almost like i'm glad for it, because like anything else i've pined for or desired - its like I'm starting to get that when you embark on a relationship with someone you love, you can never know enough about them, you can never not want to be closer. This seemed to come naturally to me with people, but it was quite a revelation to me that I could feel this way about someone i couldn't even see!!! I feel now as if i have, in God, a focus for all my restless energy, and its cool how as i focus on him, nothing and no one else is neglected, because it seems that that he refracts that beam and it just illuminates everything so that I can see it the way it should be. So many years i bounced that beam everywhere, up and down and sideways, like it was a searchlight and then i found the target, thank God. I could breathe. I felt like i finally got it. . you know?

Monday, March 06, 2006

more like 'slackie mcgee'!!

I promise I will post something new soon!!! I'm a bad blogger. . bad!!!

How are you? Did you have a good day today? Mine wasn't bad for a Monday. Dancing in a couple of hours!!!! YAY!!!! need an energy snack. . some protein does the trick. Last time i went to class i have a bit of tuna and cottage cheese about 1 - 1.5 hours before class. . . talk about ENERGY!!!

Anyway, i think i hear Rob in the driveway! Bye for now!!!