Monday Miscellany

I don't have much today. Read yesterday's post. That's the exciting news.

So, we are all about weddings today, here at Mrs. Spit's.
  • I have to go to a wedding tonight. Now, I tend to believe that weddings form a sort of social contract. I agree to go, bring a gift, and dress nicely. I agree to tell the bride that she looks beautiful (haven't yet seen one that doesn't), and to put my best manners in my back pocket.
  • The bride and groom agree to feed me. A 12 course catered meal, a buffet, cookies and punch, merely wedding cake. Oh, the wedding is a potluck. Hmm.
  • So, I'm showing up with a nice dress, a gift, my good manners, and the main course. Right.
  • But that's not actually the worst invite I ever received. Nope, that one was a few years ago, from some of Mr. Spit's family. It was a western themed wedding. The RSVP card asked if I was ponying up to the ranch, or if I was going to be a low down varmint and not attend. I marvelled over the invite. I marvelled over the use of the word "potluck" as a verb. Yep, they were "potlucking" the wedding. Which left me wondering, did they think I was going to plug in my crock pot to the car, and drive down to the state of Montana with the spinach dip bubbling away in the back?
  • I couldn't bring myself to respond to their RSVP card. I hauled out the monogrammed stationary, and I wrote a nice response about how Mr. and Mrs. Spit had to decline the kind invitation of Mr. X and Miss Y. I sent a nice crystal vase. I know, I'm a closet snob.

So tell me, what's your worst wedding story?

Tomorrow is Always Fresh

It is one of those magical nights we get here on the prairies. Where, so far north of the equator the day lasts forever. We make up for our hours of darkness. We buried Gabriel on the shortest day of the year. And now, it is the longest day. It is that time of day, on this the longest day, that photographers call the magic hour. And I am sitting on my front porch. Thinking. Praying.

The ice cream truck is cruising our neighbourhood, and he has stopped to sell ice cream to a group of children and their parents. It is late, but school is out, and you can tell that these children have moved to a summer bedtime. They are gathered around the truck, and the truck music is playing Greensleeves. And I am mesmerized by their happiness and the sadness in the lyrics. I am struck by the laughter and joy of small children, and the sorrow of a man who wishes a woman would love him. I am held by the thoughts of a baby who should be asleep upstairs in his cradle. I am captivated by sorrow. I am remembering the last verse, in which he sets his love free.

Ah, Greensleeves, now farewell, adieu,
To God I pray to prosper thee,
For I am still thy lover true,
Come once again and love me.

And I look away, tears burning in my eyes, to the school, and I see the sunset instead. I see how the red brick has turned pink. I see the golden light from this magic hour, I see the trees that my neighbours' father planted in 1920, when he was a student there. I see the windows of the classrooms stripped bare of decorations, waiting for next year's children to decorate them. I see the silence of a building, waiting for the voices and the energy of children to fill it. And I see the loneliness of my own soul. The sadness for tiny Gabriel, who could not stay for long, who will always be our first son, bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh. And I see the hope for another child, one who can stay with us.

And in the golden light, with children laughing and picking out ice cream, I can see that tomorrow is another day. A fresh day. Golden sunset drawing to a close, and clouds are lightening, and dusk will be here, I can see that there is a future. I smell roses on my bush, I can see that we are resilient. Strong. Faithful. Hopeful. We will believe in hope, in joy, in beauty and in truth.

I take a deep breath, and I proclaim to myself, in a golden world, in a world that is filled to the brim with sorrow, and with joy, in a world that children laugh, in this world, in all of my worlds, I am ready.

I am ready to start again, to try again. To start with a conception at sunset, and to wait through the long and dark hours of the night, to pray for a baby's cry at sunrise.


Saturday's are For Quotes

Be faithful in small things,
because it is in them that your strength lies.

Mother Teresa.


Today is the flip side to yesterday's hopelessness. Fertilizer for the seeds I spoke of. As I battle with fear and sorrow, or rather these two solitudes battle themselves out inside of me: I am learning. When all hope is gone, all sense of normalcy, the expected has disappeared, when all is dark and lost and broken, it only takes a very small spark to illuminate the darkness.

It is easy to demand a promise from God that after loosing Gabriel, we will not have to loose another child. It would seem fair to demand such a promise. We, as Christians, so often like to think of God as some strange Santa Clause. If I endure this much pain, this many miscarriages, if I refuse medical intervention, insist on only watering, cultivating the seeds that most women get, rather than the seeds I have, then God will give me a baby. It is faithfulness, we think, to continue to undergo pain and call it 'waiting on God'.

We confuse what is normal for our world, with what is God's will. We say that if it is normal for women to become easily pregnant, and if it is normal for women to give birth to a living baby with ease, then that must be God's will. Any other way is deviant, is out of order, is not in line with God's will. So, we say that if we drop our head in prayer, and refuse to confront the reality of our specific, different circumstances, God will notice and reward us. Obedience, perseverance, patience, they become a cost benefit equation, designed to trick God into rewarding us.

And I have been searching the Bible as Mr. Spit and I try to decide what to do. Very closely. I read of Sarah, who waited 100 years for her baby. And Issac was a joy to behold. I think of Mary. Who received her baby in an unexpected way, at the worst of all times. I think of another mother, who held a son born to die. I read of other people too. Those who lived lifetimes of pain and sorrow. Whose sorrow was never mitigated. Nothing in their life appeared to be fair. Those who were faithful and patient, and were rewarded with more pain and more sorrow.

I think of Job- who lost it all. Whom God allowed to loose it all, in a bet with Satan. His property, his belongings, his servants, even his children. He was left with a nagging wife and three friends who told him he must have done something wrong. He got it all back, you see. His house, his belongings, but not, his children. Those were gone. Instead, Job was given more children.

I wonder though, did he ever think of that first set? Surely he must have. Surely on birthdays and anniversaries, at weddings and at funerals. At the going down of the sun, and at its rising, he would have remembered those children. But he would have remembered this: In the midst of sorrow and pain, when all was stripped away. As his wife said "curse God and die", he would have remembered his own words:

I know that my Redeemer lives. And that in the end He shall stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God. I myself will see him, with my own eyes. I and not another.

A tiny light of hope. Fertilizer for the seeds I spoke of yesterday. I turn these words over in my mind. Glossed over in my Christian life, until I choose them for my son's funeral. I hold on to these words, feeling them come off my tongue. I think of the promises, and of the sorrow. I think of the end for Job, all restored but his first children, who could not be so easily restored to him. It interests me to read that Job's friends restored much of his wealth to him. But no human could give him back his children, and God, who could have, gave him other children instead.

I have learned this about hope about faith, about the Christian life. There is no moral imperative to have another child. There is no verse in the Bible that says "Mr. and Mrs. Spit, have another baby". God does not require us to do this. He does not hand out medals for blind faithfulness in another pregnancy. He does not expect that we will ignore significant risk, frightening statistics and blindly become pregnant. He does not necessarily expect us to plant the seeds that could kill us. He expects us to do the best we can with the circumstances, the seeds, we have. He is the God of all circumstances, not just the normal ones. We won't get extra points for going through the terror and danger of a second pregnancy. Heaven will not be any more or any less assured for us. He does not require us to go through X amount of pain before he blesses us.

I talked yesterday about my tendency to see life as a series of projects. God is not about projects. He is about process. God does not say "I will promise you that you will have another baby." He does not say "I will tell you how a next pregnancy will turn out." He says "Do you believe I will stand upon the earth? Do you believe that there will be an end, and that I am the master of it? Do you believe that I am larger than your fear, your sorrow, your frailty, your statistics?"

The point is not in knowing the answer. He doesn't want me to know the answer, He wants me to say "amen." It is not in mindlessly suffering pain that we learn about God. We learn about Him when we search Him out. And when we find Him, where we find Him, that's where we say "amen". A word that means, quite literally: so be it Lord, what your will is Lord. The point is in proclaiming that God is still God, in the midst of my sorrow, my pain, my worry, my joy, my delight, my heartache.

Amen came for me, perhaps, when I realized that a second pregnancy was not a requirement, not something that was going to get me extra points. God does not expect me to subject myself to mindless pain, because I think it will buy me what I want - a living baby. Realizing that it was just bad theology to go through mindless pain for the sake of an attempt at buying points from God. When I realized that there was no requirement, I could not buy any points, this was not a project, but a process, I became more free. To think about what I wanted, what Mr. Spit wanted. And we still don't completely know. But we can begin to gather information, make a decision that is informed. And pray for direction. In the interim:

I know that my redeemer lives.

That's the sum total of all I need to know.

In this place, in all places, I am learning to say amen.

I'm just not feeling nice today.

So I saved up my editing projects.

And they are all landing on the editor's desk.

In about 10 minutes.

They are all a rush.

This shouldn't be making me smile so much.

But it does.

I can't help it.

I could tell you all sorts of horror stories about the editor, who doesn't know basic grammar.

But I won't.

I'll just smile some more.

I'm not a nice person today.

I'm going to have a cookie now. And smile.


I have been struggling in a world of sorrows and fears as of late. I think you may have noticed.

Perhaps I could use the language of gardening to explain my fears and my sorrows. I have always pictured very pregnant women as a rose on my front rose bush. This particular bush came with the house. I hack it back now and then, but it always blooms again in the spring. I throw water at it occasionally, I might fertilize it once a year, but I look at it this time of year, and I see it loaded with buds.

And suddenly one morning, I will leave the house, and it will be covered with blooms. Huge blooms with multiple petals, in a vibrant shade of pink, with fragrance pouring off. Blooms that are the size of my fist, large and vibrant and full of beauty and promise. And I get these blooms from neglect, this bush seems to thrive on my lack of care for it, thrive on being taken for granted. It requires no special care or tending. It blooms beautifully, as it is meant to do, with no interference from me.

When I look at the pictures of me pregnant, even those right before my delivery, I am nowhere near this place of splendour. I am nowhere near filled to life, almost to the bursting. I am small and compact, not even into my last trimester. A shade plant, creeping along quietly in the corner. "Maybe in August," you think, "Maybe then it will do something spectacular. Something to make up for its paltry presence."

It is not reasonable to expect a birth at home next time, even an 8 pound baby, a healthy, happy pregnancy. It is reasonable that I will birth a baby in a high risk hospital. I will pray for it to be a little bigger than 750 grams. It will be whisked off to NICU. It will stay there for several months. There will be one step forward, and two steps back. When other mothers are working on breast feeding, I will be working on hoping my baby keeps breathing, doesn't have a heart defect. I will be praying life into my child.

I have had to bury every seed I planted: expecting a dream pregnancy, of a happy 9 months, of feeling baby kick and move, of knowing wonder, of being excited at doctor's appointments, of blooming in late pregnancy, of being radiant of birthing at home, surrounded by those who love me, and love our child.

My new garden is not the same. I must plant and tend different seeds. Seeds that make me small, and filled with fear and concern. Seeds that allow me to live each day, one day at a time. Seeds that will allow me to be restricted, confined, frightened. These seeds do not seek out the sunshine, they do not bloom, they will help me lie very still, and pray that the shadow of pre-e does not find me.

I am a project person, in a process life. I look at life, at pregnancy as a project. Something that I can plan for, mitigate risk in, organize, schedule, budget. But life, it is not like this. A rose does not have a project plan, my shady garden plant does not have a risk register. I must stop being a project person, and move into a day to day life. A life where every day spent in the womb means an extra 3% chance of survival. A life filled with prayer and patience. A life in which I do not have the master answers.

I am looking for the seeds that will allow me to survive. To pray that the baby does too. And perhaps, that would be enough.

A princess story

So Mon Liege has purchased a device to bring peace and order and joy and happiness to the mythical realm of Spitdom. This device, a Kindle, will make an everlasting difference to Mon Liege's life. Indeed, Mon Liege has been tracking it obsessively, since it left the furthest southern environs of the great land of America, (the only place producing and selling such wonder devices) until it arrived here. When he lost track of it in Winnipeg, I truly feared that he was about to send out a national task force. Which would not find the Kindle, but would somehow find a way to blame all of Canada for all the Kindle's problems.

Said device, this mysterious Kindle, could not actually be purchased in the dominion of Canada, indeed Mon Liege had to engage in international skulduggery to get said device here to the mythical realm of Spitdom. Did you know that Mr. Spit had a brother named George Spit? Neither did I. Does seem to be something that should have come up. (And I wonder, would I like that Sister-In-Law better?). Said device was ordered and procured and set up by the wondrous and amazing Paige, who is a queen among women! She may also have broken state and federal laws, but surely I can grant her immunity in the realm of Spitdom.

But, really, this is a story about a princess.

So, the fairest princess in the mythical land of Spitdom (ok, the only princess around, but move on!) was sitting at her desk this morning. When she received a phone call that there was a package for her in the mail room. She went tripping down to the mail room.

No, really. She tripped over her own two feet on the way into the mail room. It was not her most princess-like moment of the day.

Our princess carried the box, held aloft, so that all might see it's electronic goodness and salivate. But not on the box please, that's gross! She prayed she would not get stuck in the elevator again, like last Thursday. Being stuck in the elevator necessitated a $75 emergency wool purchase, to bring the princess's heart rate down again. They used a crow bar to get us out. Honestly, a crow bar.

The princess carried the box back to the hamster farm cubicle of awe that she works in. She grabbed the tech guy she works with, preventing him from going to the loo, and said "you have to see this." She opened the box. Carefully. Trying not to stab herself with the scissors. (this is the princess who tripped over her own feet.) She pulled out the white box, carefully lettered "Kindle". She held it up. She bodily prevented the tech guy from touching it. (perhaps there was some blandishment of scissors. Nothing is to great to protect the instrument of wonder and delight for Mon Liege)

She decided that she would not attend the study group for her PMP exam that evening. Nay, she would ignore the pressing need to study for a 3 hour exam that causes lesser brains to sweat blood. No, she is a smart princess. Surely she can meander through the PMP with a flick of her wand. She'll merely show them her crown and carry on. Nay, she would arrange to deliver this package of electronic marvel to Mon Liege, who had a plasma appointment, and was heartbroken that he would not have the Kindle.

Nay, the princess drove home like, well, Fergie heading to a sale of half-priced pastries. She possibly exhibited the tiniest of un-princess like behaviour. She ignored the mail, changed into her royally appointed Kindle delivery wardrobe, and let the fairy gnomes err, dogs out. They looked really fetching in their tu-tu's and tiara's. (Pink goes so well with mastiff slobber. Such a nice contrast.)

The princess hopped back into her princess-mobile, and drove across town, through downtown in rush hour. Sigh, dear subjects, rush hour traffic does not even stop for princesses. She drove through town, to the Blood Services Centre, where her Liege was going to be be, doing his royal duty, donating plasma. She kept looking out the window at the storm clouds brewing, and listening to the radio, which was suggesting that there was a mere %30 chance of rain. "Not so", said the princess, as the rain drops began to fall on the windshield. "I'd say %100 now".

Possibly, before driving across town she also stopped at a Subway, to get some dinner. Where she left the Kindle in the car, not wanting to get any food detritus on it. So, she spent her time ordering, with her back to the clerk, watching the car obsessively, trying to decide if she would hit any culprits trying to bring harm to the wonder Kindle, by hitting them with her purse, or possibly her shoes. (She decided on the shoes, as the purse is really quite nice.) She reorganized the restaurant so that she could always see out the window, to the Kindle's resting place. She did not go to the loo, fearing to let the wonder kindle out of her sight. She also may have had two cookies, but we don't need to talk about that, now do we?

The princess eventually made it across the bridge, all the way to the Whyte Ave district, in spite of the very best efforts of a troll driving a Buick Crown Victoria, who insisted on hogging both lanes of a very narrow bridge, while only driving 45 (28 mph for the American's!). She spent her time, and there was lots behind this troll, considering how to get the Kindle package of awe into the building, without it getting rained on. A variety of options were considered and summarily tossed, including the possibility of wrapping the Kindle in her shirt. (The princess realized this would leave nothing to wrap her, ahem, rather large rack princess-worthy chest in.)

Indeed, with nothing left for it, the princess decided that she would simply stick the device of wonder and glory under her shirt, and make a run for it. This was, perhaps more dangerous than one might have imagined, given the experience of the mail room. But truly, is there any sacrifice to great to protect the wonder and joy of a Kindle for Mon Liege?

Finally, the princess arrived at the front door. She straightened her tiara, found her royal orb, and brought forth the device of Kindle goodness, and gifted it to the receptionist who said

"What's that?".

Honestly, the things I do for Mon Liege.

Monday Miscellany (On Tuesday)

  • Sorry, yesterday was the wedding anniversary. Wanted to get that post up.
  • I am thinking of starting a knitting group in September. A chance to meet every couple of weeks and ooh and ahh over other's projects. We'll let the knitters, the quilters, the needle workers, and even the crocheters in (until they start with those horrible toilet paper covers, they are totally out of the group at that point!)
  • I am trying to understand how it is that Delta can remember the exact last location of a stuffed duck, to return to it, after she has been put in her kennel for the entire day; but she can't figure out what sit means. How is this? And in case you were wondering: no, Delta can't fit two ducks in her mouth. She can, however; fit one duck in her mouth, and hold the other one between her paws.
  • I knew I was in Prince George when two things happened: we pulled into the store parking lot, and the parking spaces were HUGE (everyone drives a pick up truck) and we pulled up to a traffic light, and there was our hostess going to pick up her munchkin from gymnastics. We had a conversation about where the house key was. Really, it's that small of a town.
  • Would someone please explain to me how a young woman who works in a corporate office could think it's appropriate for her to wear a skirt that is 4 inches above her knee and a see through top? And then there's the older woman who's wearing her speedo flip flops today. .
  • On the subject of young women, the two young girls who were my fairy princesses at my wedding (I didn't have flower girls, they wanted to be fairy princesses, so we had fairy princesses!) have turned into smart, articulate, beautiful, kind, responsible young women who were a delight to be with.
  • The eldest is having a bad go with acne, and I am sending her a care package with a the face soap I use from these guys. Not because there is anything wrong with her, but because I totally remember the horrible frustration that teenage acne caused. Heck, I remember it from this morning. I presently have Fred and George on my face. Can anyone else think of something that might make her feel better?

That's all for me today. What's interesting in your world today?


June 23, 2001

DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this company, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church:

It rained on the day of my wedding. She smiled, and said:

"It will rain during your marriage too."

This holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence and first miracle that he wrought in Cana of Galilee, and is commended of Saint Paul to be honour-able among all men: and therefore is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly;

Right before I got married, I asked a woman who had just celebrated her 60th year of marriage, how she did it. She paused. I was waiting for the big secret.
The bit of advice that would give me success.

And in the end, she looked at me, and said:

"You take the good with the bad".

But enter it reverently, dis-creetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God.

Seven years of marriage. 4 moves. 4 animals. 3 years of renovations. 7 jobs. 1 university graduation. 3 cars. 5 rooms painted and a hallway wallpapered at 2 am. 1 deck built. 1 elopement and 1 wedding. The birth and death of Gabriel. 2,557 days.

O ETERNAL God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of all spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life; Send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this man and this woman, whom we bless in thy Name; that they, living faithfully together, may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We are older, wiser, sadder and stronger now. We have known perfect love, and agonizing sorrow. We have known blessing, and it's deprivation. Choosing love, each day. Choosing to put yesterday to bed, to leave tomorrow to its self,
and to live in today.

I Cheryl, take thee Owen, to be my wedded Husband,
to have and to hold from this day forward,
for better for worse, for richer for poorer,
in sickness and in health,
to love and to cherish, till death us do part,
according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.

I think of these words.

With this ring I thee wed.
With my body I thee worship.
With all my worldly goods, I thee endow.
In the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Ghost, Amen.

This day, and every day. For as many days as I am given. I choose you.

Saturdays are for Quotes

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Hamlet Act 1, Scene V.
Not in town this weekend, see you all back on Monday.

By The Numbers

By the Numbers:

The weight a baby needs to be at the Royal Alex to have a
meaningful chance of survival: 750g.
Gabriel's weight: 520 grams

How many weeks gestation that is: around 26 weeks.
When did Gabriel stop developing: 23 weeks.

Likelihood that I will develop this disease again: 60 percent.

How long pre-eclampsia can be managed, on average: 2 weeks until delivery
How long my pre-eclampsia was managed: 8 days.

Likelihood of the "average' woman have a child die before delivery or within 28 days of birth (excluding the risk of miscarriage): 1 in 200, or approximately .50%
Likelihood that another child of mine will die in pregnancy: 30 percent.

How much more likely is this for me: 60 times more likely (don't stand next to me in a lightening storm)

Want a better representation of this? Pick the 10 people you like in the world, choose which 3 you think should die. Allow for another one to suffer a lifetime of debilitating illness and physical pain.

How often does a woman die of pre-eclampsia: 18% of US Maternal deaths are attributed to pre-eclampsia.
It's the third highest cause of maternal death.
A woman will die every 6 minutes in the developing world.

When will I have to quit work: 20 weeks
Likelihood I will be in the hospital after 24 weeks until I deliver: Very good.
Point at which I will the perinatologist will be pleased and will want to deliver the baby: 28 weeks.
How early is that again: 12 weeks.

What can pre-eclampsia cause:

  • Maternal Death

  • Fetal Death

  • Kidney failure

  • Liver failure

  • Stroke

  • Brain Death

  • Eye Damage

  • Chronic Hypertension

What's the cure for pre-eclampsia: Delivery of the placenta.
What causes pre-eclampsia:
Nobody knows
What can be done to prevent pre-eclampsia: Nothing.
What can be done to manage pre-eclampsia: Nothing, really.

I hate this disease. I hate it. How can we have a cure for impotence, and tell women faced with a life threatening disease to go and have a lie down? How?

The Discipline of a Million Points of Light

Way back, when Mr. Spit was still in the military, they had this rule when they were on parade - you didn't look down at your feet while you are walking. (On a positive note, Mr. Spit can always tell me how many stairs there are, he just knows. Odd, but more helpful than you can imagine when moving large items around the house!) "Why would you look at your feet?", they would say. You look where you are going. Where you look is where your feet will go.

And, I think we understand this as truth. This had been a brutally hard few weeks for Mr. Spit and I. Between the baby loss ceremony, which started it, and something that happened at the tree planting, that really broke our hearts, with the meeting with the peri and a miscarriage in the middle, it's been a rough go. There is just so much wrong right now, we aren't sure where to go next and what to do. And that's been hard. Support has been hard to come by. It's easy to get stuck in sadness.

And so I have been thinking about goodness and kindness and compassion. They say you find out who your friends are, when tragedy strikes. And this is true for us, but perhaps not in the way the statement is intended. We truly have found out who our friends are, as people. We have found those that have gone over and above and beyond the duty of care. Those who have astounded us with their generosity of spirit.

I have been thinking about where my focus is. It's easy to dwell on what hurts. That tends to be what captures our attention, what screams to be noticed. It is a discipline to look elsewhere. When I look elsewhere, I see a million tiny points of light. The evidence that God is in the universe, and that I am loved. The evidence that there is beauty and goodness and joy all around me, when I look for it.

Make no mistake, this is a discipline. I don't always want to look up, to look out, to think about where I am headed. Most often, it just seems easier to look down, my nature is to draw my grief around me like a shroud, and to stay in one place. It takes a conscious effort in days when I am lost, hurting, bewildered and broken hearted, to look hard, extra hard. I must seek out joy, seek out opportunities to look up. It is hard to seek out those I know will be supportive, and to forgive those who aren't. It's hard to focus on the things that make me feel joy. It is hard to seek out tiny points of light when I am exhausted.

But in the last week, I have been forcing myself to. Forcing myself to accept invitations to dinner and to card making and to BBQ's. And I go, sometimes gritting my teeth, not wanting to be there. But after I arrive, I settle in. I find myself enjoying myself. I remember what it is to laugh, to smile, to tease. I feel a lightness settle on me. I am happier.

In thinking about my favourite things. In the taste of a freshly brewed latte on my lips, in the sound of a favourite song on my ipod, in looking at my garden to see what has bloomed, in hearing the voice of a friend. In thinking about these things, I am lifted past the sorrow of grief, into a more enjoyable world. Into a place where I am happy. Not the same happiness from my old life, but a happiness that still contains joy. And perhaps, the joy is more sweeter, having known sorrow. Perhaps I am more able to accept the joy as a respite from sorrow, from such great sadness.

And I remember, in the midst of grief and sorrow and darkness, there are always a million tiny points of light, when I look for them. Tiny points of light are all around us, waiting for us to find them. It is not that the tiny points of light somehow eliminate the sorrow, but rather they give it perspective. They are each a small light, but gather enough together, and there is light to lift the sorrow.

I am thankful.

When I lay Gabriel Down

I like talking about being pregnant. In spite of the miserable pregnancy I had, I loved being pregnant. In the midst of the constant vomiting, the forgetfulness, the inability to form complete sentences, I was aware that something quietly spectacular was taking place in my body. And I loved it. For once, especially amoung our friends, we were finally welcome. We finally fit into their nice easy world of pregnancy.

I loved the quiet time I had with Gabriel. Talking to him. I remember with such joy the first time he moved. In yoga class, during relaxation. It was the strangest little flutter. It was that first wave hello. And it meant more than the world to me. It was the true start to a relationship that was cut far too short.

But I wonder, as I talk about my pregnancy, should I? In the natural order of things, a pregnancy leads to a baby, who becomes a child, who becomes an adult. In the natural order of things, I would be telling you about Gabriel sitting up and smiling, and starting on solid food. In the natural order of things, we would be comparing toys and talking about BPA in bottles and wondering about what to do over the summer. In the natural order of things, morning sickness and childbirth memories are replaced by smiles and coo's and first words.

Now I lay him down to sleep

I have no memories of a living, robust baby, who rolls over and smiles and waves. Who has milestones like walking and talking to look forward too. There are no next steps for a dead baby, only anniversaries. Remembering conception. Remembering the first movement. Remembering his birth, and his death. Markers of a thing that is finished, whether I want it to be so or not. Memories of where our path together ended.

And so, I find myself struggling. Afraid if I don't speak about Gabriel, other's will forget. It does not seem enough that only Mr. Spit and I should talk about him. But, I can see the reactions of others, of our friends. "Would she just stop talking about him. Would she just leave him in the past. Would she just get on with her life. Would she just get pregnant again. Would she stop expecting us to care about Gabriel, he's gone, done with. Our lives are busy (so often with living children.) We are busy. And the stories, they are the same. And it's so easy to hurt her. And we are busy. "

And pray the Lord his soul to keep

I understand that I must move on. But I'm not sure what I move on too. Other mothers, they will move on to stories about their here babies. My son is in an urn. He sits there. I dust him occasionally. He's not doing anything new, exciting. You can't have a relationship, you can't create memories with an urn. I can't take him places and show him off to people.

I remember the line from an Amnesty International Report. About mothers in Africa whose babies have died. And they don't know what to do, so they carry these babies for days, afraid to put them down. When I lay Gabriel down, I have to rejoin the world of the living. Stifle my hurt and sorrow, and talk about a future. A future that is uncertain and not easy and without Gabriel. A future that I don't quite understand, a future that I can't see more than a step in. And I have to live in this future.
The Angels watch him through this night

Would somebody tell me, how do I do this? Honestly? Do I just not talk about him? Avoid mentioning being pregnant? Avoid mentioning his birth? Compel myself to suck it up and see children and go to baby showers? Hold new babies and close the part of my mind that protests it wants Gabriel? Smile, whether I want too or not? Give up on expecting care and concern from friends, because it has been six months? Live life with the children of others, like they so want me too, forgetting my own child, ignoring the pain that Gabe's death has caused me? Put the past behind me? How do I do that, exactly?
And keep him safe until the new world's light

The world, it has flown past me, and I'm not sure how to join it again. I'm not sure what my place is. We were never made to feel very welcome in the world of children, and now we are totally lost in the world of dead baby. And I need to rejoin this world.


My first introduction to fatherhood was my father. Who took me everywhere. I spent more time with him, than with anyone else. He was, in many ways, more involved in my life than my mother was. And I could talk about the unhealthy dynamic of my family, or I could just remember riding the LRT with him. I choose the second.

My second significant experience with fatherhood occurred when I was still pregnant. I was at a party one night, and a father was packing a diaper bag for his child. And the mother, in the middle of the party, with everyone watching, she took the time out to examine the diaper bag. To make sure that she thought everything that should be in there, was in there. A step by step inspection of his work. I honestly can't remember if it met her approval. But I remember being flabbergasted. I cringed at the humiliation. I remember thinking "This man is an educated, articulate, intelligent man. He's actually quite brilliant. The company he works for permits him to make significant decisions about its future. I'm pretty sure he can figure out what to put in the diaper bag. The child is not new. And if he forgets something, I'm pretty sure he can figure out what to do." This wasn't the friendly reminder of sleep deprived parents, no it was the implicit assumption that unless mum provides the childcare, it will be done wrong. Dad isn't an equal partner, he doesn't deserve equal say.

That was when I began to learn what was fashionable among mother's. To bash husbands, to bash fathers. To assume that only mum can nurture, to assume that Dad's are dangerous. To allow a child, even encourage a child to cling to mum, and to leave dad out. Dad, after all, doesn't matter. It's women who do the important work of bearing and raising children. Dad's are a semi useless appendage responsible for about 5 minutes of work.

We all know the stories, the sayings. The dad who can't change a diaper, the dad who was useless at housework. Mum's kisses make things better. Mum knows what to say. Mummy will fix it, get it, solve it. Mummies are naturals at childcare. Daddies are uncouth louts who muddle along as best they can.

I was struck by something as I looked at the pictures of Gabriel for last Tuesday's post. I was taken with how natural Mr. Spit looked picking up Gabriel. How he held him perfectly in the crook of his arm, as he made phone calls. How he carried him in his hands. How he revelled in Gabriel's perfection. How perfectly our son was made to fit in this daddy's arms. And how right and good and how natural Mr. Spit was. It isn't that he's held a lot of babies, but this wasn't a baby, this was his son.

I went looking for a father's day card last week. (Oddly enough, Hallmark has no cards for the father's of dead babies). All I found were cards that joked about wreaking the car, needing money, golf and farts. All I found were the same old tiresome stereotypes. And I thought of Gabriel who nestled so perfectly into his father's arms. Who felt safe enough there to leave for heaven. Who knew who daddy was, and that daddy loved him. Who felt his father's tears on his tiny face, and realized, that men can care and nurture too.

Mr. Spit will do things differently than I will. He will introduce danger and risk and exhilaration. And I will no doubt cringe. But I will take a deep breath, and I will remember our tiny, fragile son, held in his father's arms, exactly where he belonged.

Monday Miscellany

Today's interesting things:

- Mr. Spit bought the doggles three toys on Saturday. There was a skunk, a hedgehog and a duck. The duck was supposed to be for Maggie. Unfortunately the Mastiff has taken it over. The hedgehog is totally slimy, the skunk was left out in the rain, and the duck, well the duck wanders around in Delta's mouth, saying "Quack, quack, quack". Maggie looks positively desolate each time she hears it. We are going back to Costco tonight, to buy another duck. Because, surely, Delta can't fit two ducks into her mouth?

- I was sitting out on the porch yesterday morning, my hair askew from sleeping, in my fuzzy pink bathrobe, with Delta guarding the front steps from floating away, when this car drove by, looking at the new house down the street. I'm sorry dear family, we'd quite like you in the neighbourhood, you looked presentable and without a drug problem. Honestly, we don't all hang out on our porches in fuzzy pink bathrobes. You could wear a blue one if the colour suited you better. We wouldn't mind.

- As someone asked last week, the tree planting thing went well, we were pleased with the turn out, and mostly pleased with how things turned out, especially given we had nothing planned.

- The meeting with the chief of Perinatology at the Royal Alex did not go well, but I suppose we have some information to make decisions on. For those of you who are the praying type, Mr. spit and I would appreciate your prayers, as we try to decide where to go from here. It's not quite as simple as we had hoped.

- I am in them middle of writing my Gardening Diva column on wee, ickle bugs. The biggest problem is that I don't actually like bugs. Reading 2 books with pictures of bugs in them doesn't seem to be helping my fear and loathing of them, at all. If you have a good home remedy for ridding yourself of ants, would you post it?

- I find that when people demand to know why I started smoking "I picked up smoking the day I went to review my son's autopsy" to be a rather snappy little answer that ends sticky questions.

- Father's day was brutally difficult for Mr. Spit, and difficult for me, to watch him. There were reminders everywhere. He would have been a wonderful father, and he was so dearly looking forward to having a son. It's hard to watch someone you love so much mourn. It was hard that few of our friends called to offer him any support. (Although, it's not like any of them called for Mother's Day either!). I'm trying to focus on the people who do support Mr. Spit, but finding the lack of support from those too wrapped up in their own lives a bit hard to take.

Saturday's are For Quotes

Did you ever walk into a room and forget why you walked in?
I think that is how dogs spend their lives.
~Sue Murphy

Also, just in case you were thinking Mr. Spit and I were perfect, you can go and check out our bickering on his blog. Just for fun!

The Memory of Children

I was sitting on the grass, amidst the children, after the tree planting ceremony. Amidst the children who should have been Gabriel's friends, in his Sunday School class, who would have baby sat him in the years to come. Amidst families with children of their own, some who have experienced the inexplicableness of tragedy, and some who have not.

Skylar looked up at me with her terribly wise 3 year old face and she said "Where is Gabriel?". Her brother was on my lap, I had declined to hold him earlier, but someone else just handed him to me a few minutes later. His mother, who understood why I wasn't holding him, had looked at me with this look of terrible sorrow when he was plunked in my lap. I was marvelling in his solidness - how large and plump and content he was, how unlike my tiny, frail son, with translucent skin and hair so fine I could not feel it.

So, there was Skylar, waiting for an answer. And my throat had completely closed up. I had no words to say. I could tell Skylar that he was in heaven, but truly, if she asked why, I couldn't answer. I don't know. He's there, I'm here, and that's the way it is.

Skylar's mum looked at her. She dropped her head down, so that her face was in front of Skylar's. And she said "Gabriel is with Jesus in heaven." I looked up at Skylar, and said "Would you like to see his picture?" I had thought that I would go and get his album, to show her what he had looked at, how tiny he had been. I imagined that I could compare him to the doll she carried, he was about that size. I hoped there would be no difficult questions. I hoped that she wouldn't be frightened of a baby who was so unlike her solid and strong brother.

And she looked at me, and she said "I saw his picture earlier. I remember him".

And I thought yes, yes the memory of children. Gabriel, never seen, but remembered as the baby in heaven.

My Favourite Things

Mr. Spit drove 3 hours to see me yesterday, all the way home from Edson. ( I had a bit of a meltdown, yesterday was harder than I expected) He arrived at midnight, and he crawled out of our bed at 5:30 am this morning. To drive back to Edson.

That's love.

What wonderful thing has someone done for you this week?

The Insane Thing My Neighbour is Doing

As promised, forever ago.

My neighbour - her name is Laura. She and her partner Desmond live down the street. And I really like them for lots of reasons. They are gardeners, they are really nice people, they are friendly, they can identify plants that I can't. (Laura's other mission in life is the preservation of natural species, in between delivering Canada's mail, God and Queen bless her.)

Desmond and Laura canoe, a lot. And they bring Lupa the Love - who also canoe's, looking adorable and jaunty in her life jacket. (Lupa is a border collie. I know of no other way for them to look, other than adorable and jaunty.)

I was reminded of her insane thing, as I received a postcard. Sent care of Desmond, to Mr. and Mrs. Spit, 2 doors down. Which made me smile in a week that has been otherwise short of smiles.

So, my neighbour. She left on the 20th of May, and she and about 100 other people, they are re-tracing the canoe voyage of David Thompson. Who is not merely famous for having a highway named for him. David was an explorer, a fur trader, but perhaps more importantly, he was the greatest map maker in Canada. I'm not sure that we could say he discovered areas of North America, after all, the First Nations had already found them. But David gave them names. He told us how to get there.
So, my neighbour, she is retracing his footsteps. Through 4 provinces, three river systems (drainage's) and for over two months, my neighbour is a coureur des bois. And if that wasn't enough, you know, almost living in a canoe for about 90 days, she also sewed all the costumes for them to wear when they came into the host communities.

Here's Laura (not in costume):

And here's Laura's means of transportation. Yes, that's a very large canoe. No, it's just painted to look like birch bark.

I follow Laura on the satellite map. I think warm thoughts when it rains. I made her Hudson's Bay Bread. (I should have knit her an entire outfit of wool) I suggested that she will have arms of steel when she finally comes home.

I am in awe.

Memory As Close As Breath.

December 10, 2007
Gabriel's Song

Souls aren’t judged by the amount of time
they spend upon this earth.
But rather by the lives they touch
That really show their worth.

So let us talk of his short life,
And celebrate his song
For the little soul of Gabriel,
Who didn’t stop too long.

I speak now of his short life
And his passage in this place.
How well spent his minutes were
In his family’s loved embrace.

Guided from his mother’s womb,
As only midwives can.
Brought to safety in this world
By Cathy’s loving hand.

Mothers voice, sings your song
Of the bond you two have made.
And no matter where you are
Her love will never fade.

He rocks you softly in his arms
Daddy holds you tight.
His love for you will keep you warm
And guide you to the light.

Water gently baths you,
Arms that keep you near,
Let you know that Nanna,
Holds you very dear.

Baptized by your family priest,
Who acts for God this day
Angels call to Gabriel now
To lead him on his way.

I know your hearts are broken
They’re in pieces on the ground.
And your minds have spoken
Of never coming round.

But time will take those pieces,
Let you put them back in place.
And when your heart's together
There ‘ll be just a “little’ space

How to fill this spot you ask?
Why the answer is above.
Just fill it with this baby’s gift.
He left you all his love.

That little spot will fill right up
To stay there for all time,
In memory of a 1.2 lb soul
Who left his love behind.

Poem written for Gabriel by Aunt Deb, December 12, 2007.

Until heaven, and then forever.

Monday Miscellany Meme

I have been tagged, by a few people. Alrighty, I'm not that interesting. But surely this is more interesting than the random bits I can think of?

What Was I Doing 10 Years Ago:

Finishing my first year of university.

Saying goodbye to the little girl who was like my child. (It's a long story).

Trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Drinking too much beer.

Breaking up with the small town boy, who thought Montreal was too far away, but moved to Qatar to teach english.

5 Things I Need to do Today:

  1. Go to Fort Edmonton Park

  2. Talk to Cheryl from HEARTS about lunch on Tues. (Hello, Cheryl, call me?)

  3. Do some laundry.

  4. Go and get Marble Slab ice cream.

  5. Finish Anna's sock.
  6. Go to my support group.

Snacks I like:

  1. Ruffles all-dressed potato chips

  2. Marble Slab Ice Cream

  3. Lemon anything.

  4. Pita bread with tzatiki.

Places I have lived:

  1. Prince George, BC

  2. Warburg, AB

  3. Calgary, AB

  4. Edmonton, AB

(I get around a lot, can you tell?)

People I want to know more about:

  1. Mr. Spit

Dear Gabriel

We are planting your tree this afternoon. And I have been thinking of you. And wondering. And praying.

I pray that you feel the warmth of the sun your tiny face. I pray that there are toys and people to play with, that there is warm milk, and that you know the joy of flowers.

I pray that the women I know in heaven will rock you to sleep, and comfort you when you cry. I pray that when you can't sleep at night, that you know that I am awake too, and my arms ache to hold you, and my heart breaks that I can't.

I wonder who will teach you to walk, who will teach you to sing, to dance? I wonder if the tooth fairy comes in heaven, who will bake you a birthday cake, and I wonder who reads you the stories I wanted to read you?

I pray that there is music, and that Jesus sings you lullabies. I pray that someone teaches you to say your prayers.

And I pray that someone teaches you about us. Tells you that we loved you from the moment you were conceived. I pray that you know that we would have given anything to keep you here on earth.

I pray that you know, I am coming. I will be with you. Wait patiently my little boy. We are coming.

I pray that you know, that my love, your daddy's love, the love of your family, of your friends, I pray that you know that this love, it is a candle, and the flame, it is called memory. And it will never go out.

Until heaven, and then forever,

mummy and daddy.


I went to John School last Saturday, to teach (And C. I think I might have met your friend from EPS).

I taught my bit, and then sat and waited until the break. And then I decided to stay for the rest of the afternoon. From an honest but maudlin point of view, I didn't want to be alone, and there was no one around who seemed to want me - Mr. Spit was out of town, my best friend was out of town, other friends that I might have called were in another city. Woe is me.

There are only three things that happen after I speak. There is a video called Stolen Lives: Children in the Sex Trade. Then a survivor speaks about getting out of prostitution, and the sorts of horrible things that happened to her. (And trust me, they are horrible) Finally, two mums speak. And I have thought about those mothers in the last months. I thought about what their lives must be like. I asked a few, tentative, hesitant questions about life after the death of a child.

Both of the mothers say this - that their daughters became caught up in a world that they didn't understand. And they were powerless to get them out of. It was a world full of pain and sorrow and agony and drug addiction. Their daughters went from bright young women, to women who became old, long before their time. And these mums became old. Worn, tired, pinched, devastated at the lives their precious children were living. Unable to comprehend how this happened. Sure, we can have a debate about whether prostitution should be legalized. (And I'm happy to tell you why I think it shouldn't). But this, this life of horror, these young women weren't out their willingly. Please understand, they didn't choose this life.

Someone asked me how you could tell the prostitutes in my neighbourhood. And it isn't their clothes. These women don't dress like Julia Robert's in "Pretty Woman". I could give you a sarcastic answer, that someone who chose to do this wouldn't be out there on Christmas day, in a blizzard, at minus forty, in the pouring rain, covered with blood. I'll tell you how you know if she's a prostitute. It's not the drugs that mask their pain, the deadness seeps from their soul. when you look in their eyes you realize, that these girls, they are the walking dead.

The first mother, I'll call her Arete for her life's work, she speaks of the last photo she has of her daughter. It was on the front page of our local paper. It was the medical examiner's office, taking her out of a cold, lonely field in that terrible time in fall, when all is grey and brown. Taking her out of this field, where she had died at the hands of a serial killer, taking her out of that field, far from her family, in a white body bag.

The other mother, I'll call her Elos. She speaks at John School because she wants to talk about humanity. She wants to talk about who her daughter was, before she became, forever branded as a mere sex trade worker. I'll call her Elos, because she wants to look at these men who come to John School as human. Elos talks about her daughter, and how she came to be in the sex trade. She talks about addiction as a disease, and wonders what kind of a world that we live in, that these men at John School are old enough to be her daughter's father, but they didn't see her as a person. No one cared to say "Look you are sick. Where do you live, let me take you home. You belong with people who love you".

Elos doesn't know where her daughter is. And I heard her story, and I thought about where Gabriel is. I know. He's in heaven. His ashes are between an angel of courage, and an angel of remembrance. His tree is in my backyard. His photo is by the front door.

Elos doesn't know where her little girl is. Not if she's warm, not if she's safe, not if she knows she is loved. Not if she's still on this earth. She comes to remind us that everyone is loved by someone. Everyone belongs to someone. My little boy was held by family. He was sung too, cried over, prayed for. Loved by everyone who touched him.

It's raining tonight. It's wet, it's windy, and there is a child, who is not at home. And we don't know where she is. I needed to remember: I walk a hard road without Gabriel. Arete and Elos, they walk a much harder one. When I need to know about courage, about pain, about perspective, I will remember these women. Who live each day with sorrow and sadness that surpasses my understanding. Who out of their brokenness, teach others a better way. Who quietly stand up for truth and justice and mercy and compassion. Who see everyone as a person, with inalienable rights. Who turn on their porch lights every night, hoping their children find their way home.

My lesson for this week was this: courage is not a big bold act, it is not defying statistics, or living in spite of statistics, it is this: It is the hope that turns on the porch light - and waits. It is the act of saying "I love you means forever and always".

Weekend Are For Quotes

Faith is not, contrary to the usual ideas,
something that turns out to be right or wrong, like a gamblers bet,
it's an act, an intention, a project, something that makes you, in leaping into the future,
go so far, far, far ahead that you shoot clean out of time and right into eternity,
which is not the end of time or a whole lot of time or unending time,
but timelessness, that old external now.
Joanna Russ

Finished Project Friday

Ahh, finished the first Cara baby sweater. It's been to class, to lunch, to appointments, to the low altar of caffeine. Finally all done, including the seaming up. Dropping it off for the baby tomorrow.

(For the knitters, it's Bristol Gallery - 45% alpaca, 45% merino and 10% cashmere. Yes, it was heavenly to knit. Didn't halo as bad as you might think - bought it from WEBS for about $4 a skein - used 5 and a teeny bit skeins.)

Based on this lady's adaptation of a Cardigan for Arwen. Chopped down and tinkered with, because I am hopeless at just following a pattern. I have to add something. Its a thing with me. Some nice detailing of the cable. Held closed with toggles. Quite like the toggles. Adds to the hobbit-ish touch of the sweater.

And then there's hats. To fit micro preemies. I'll work on the blankets to match, this weekend. (Knit in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino. Again, heaven on earth to work with.) And I think I have found at least one more person to knit them. I think I'll do concentric hearts, or butterflies for the blankets. Any thoughts?

By in large, I only knit in natural fibre's. I know it's expensive, and babies do all manner of revolting things to them (Adults too!). And yes, it has broken my heart when I have seen items treated badly. Want to get a group of knitters going? Get them to talk about the things we've spent hours on, and then seen abused. Stories to break your heart.

What about you? What's the worst thing you've ever had done with a gift you've given?

Store Up Your Treasures in Heaven.

When we sent the email announcing Gabriel's birth, and his death, this verse was at the bottom. It had accompanied me through my labour, through the wracking sobs, through the quiet desperation. I chanted it in accompaniment to the beeps of the blood pressure monitor. I put my hands on Gabriel's legs, as he kicked me during induction, and I recited this verse. Christians often memorize scripture, and all I could say was that out of the bedrock of my faith, the bottom of my hopes, I remembered this verse. And heaven.

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy,
and where thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy,
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

Someone asked me why this verse was on the email. It's not the typical verse about loss and death and pain. In fact, you might even argue that I'm taking the verse out of context. That the situation with Gabriel isn't what Jesus was talking about when he said this. All I can say was that out of the bedrock of my faith came this promise - that where my greatest treasure was - Gabriel - the greatest gift, the largest miracle of my life - where Gabriel was, there also was my heart. There is an implicit promise in this verse, one that I am just beginning to understand, the greatest gifts, the greatest miracles, we call them treasure. And we attach our heart's to them. And it is only in heaven that our treasure and our hearts are safe.

It is dangerous to have treasure. The bible refers to Satan, to evil, as a thief, as something that creeps around causing things to rot and corrupt and decay. I think of the old superstitions: How it is dangerous to know the name for something. How it is dangerous to admit that you are aware of the true nature of something. It is dangerous to admit something is precious to you. That your heart is connected to something. It is dangerous to admit that we want something. It is dangerous to love too much. Our instinct is to hold on to our treasure. To lock it away, to protect it, to pretend that it isn't treasure. To call it something else.

I am thinking of this today, as we go to see the perinatologist this morning. This last follow up, to review what happened. To understand the course of the disease, to put numbers and lab values and medical protocols to feelings and fear and forgotten moments. To put days of confusion and fear and hope and helplessness in some sort of logical sequence. To try and understand why we had to give him back.

And I must remember, the doctor's they will have no real answers to handle this disease of theories. They will have no guarantees, they will have no promises. Their protocols and their methods, they do the best they can. They make no promises, but they tell me what they will do. They cannot tell me what will be, what is. They cannot tell me why I had to give Gabriel back.

It is a discipline of sorts to remember this verse. Because it reminds me, that Gabriel was never mine, really. He was treasure given to me, from God. And it was my obligation to give him back. To keep him safe in heaven. To remember, my heart belongs in heaven. Which is why my treasure is there too: because our treasure and our heart, they follow one another.
My other treasure, Mr. Spit, is home for a few days. And I am finding it easier to catch my breath.

The Shadow Life

People so often tell me that I look as if I'm not sleeping, that I have shadows under my eyes.

Deadbaby mum's so often live shadow lives. We are shadow's of ourselves, we are shadowed by grief, our babies are shadowed memories.

Indeed, to many, my baby is a shadow - not recognized, not spoken of. We had a department meeting last, and they were talking about baby gifts - and I just wanted so badly to mention that I received none. I got an arrangement of flowers when I was admitted to the hospital. Nothing for Gabriel's birth. A few co-workers came to his funeral, but many have never acknowledged I was pregnant, said they were sorry.

The lady who gave me Noel, she sent a card congratulating us on the birth of our son. She knew he died, but more than his death, she knew he lived. And she wanted to say congratulations, because we had a baby. She's the only one who sent a baby card - everyone else sent sympathy cards. I am thankful for those who realize that Gabriel is more than his death, and that I am more than the mother of a dead baby.

I came into work yesterday, and expressed the usual morning pleasantries with the person who sits next to me. We talked about the weather, and she mentioned what she had done that weekend. She asked me if I was feeling better.

I'm thankful for a manager that was able to just say I was sick. But, what do I say? That another baby went home to heaven? That it might have been great timing, but it was still another loss? Do I tell her that I spent the weekend alone, with a child bleeding out of me, and Mr. Spit forced to be out of town, and friends too busy to care (Or, perhaps I have worn out my allotment of comfort?)

It seems almost easier to not mention Gabriel. I find, as time goes by, that I try not to mention Gabe to everyone. I have begun to realize that there are whole groups of people in my life that are not aware of Gabriel. I find it tiring at times, to be so sad, all the time. To be so discouraged, to be so lost. To have little things like the dentist's throw me so off my game. To have careless words wound me to my marrow. To be unable to cope with Gabriel's death and a miscarriage, but know that I have no choice.

It isn't that I spend each day crying, rather I am always aware of Gabe's absence. It is that great sorrow. I am tired of my inability to concentrate. My frustration and my forgetfulness. And on days like these, that have been difficult, in which my loss and pain are very acute, I am tired. And I want respite. Peace. A chance for a long, deep breath. A break from relentless sorrow and grief.

I have days when I don't want to be the mum of a dead baby. I don't want to talk about it, think about it. I don't want to look at parents screaming at their children, and wonder: if they met the family in our support group who lost their son suddenly, in an afternoon nap, would they still scream at their children?If they truly knew what it was like to be me, would they still complain about their children to me? Would they be so incessantly negative about their children? Would they truly complain about their children not sleeping if they understood what it was like to have your children no more?

I live in a shadow world. I must function in the other world, the 'real world', get up, do my job, go to meetings, garden, cook supper, buy clothes. But each of these things, they are a reminder that I am not in the world I want. I am not in the world of a mum with a new baby. I'm not on Maternity Leave, I garden without a baby to listen for, the play pen with its sunshade was never even taken out of the box. I cook supper, and do not to think of baby food or bottles or breast feeding. I buy clothes that are suitable for the life of a banker, not a stay at home mum.

No situation, no comment, no thought escapes with out the filter of my grief and sorrow. I remember: I live a shadow life. A life with the shadows of grief and loss and sorrow. A life that is a shadow of what it should have been. A life covered by the shadow of our missing son. A life with a shadow baby who is not here.

Really, are the shadows under my eyes any wonder?

Yes, Pregnant.

I went to the dentist's last Tuesday.

And look back at the medical form completed in September 07, filled out with a cheerful "Yes, Pregnant!" next to the line asking about changes in my medical status.

With an exclamation point.

I'm tired of being a patient, tired of being broken and lost. Tired of the sheer cruelty the world inflicts on the parents of dead babies. Tired of being ignored and forgotten and left behind.

I wondered: what would they say if I said: "Yes, heart broken and soul torn in two".

Should I use a question mark with that?

I am so tired in body and spirit today.

The Garden Diva in June

I'm sorry, I'm very tired, so I'm letting her take over. (The VBM and the OB's office warned me this might happen.)

Have a great day, see you back on Wednesday, hopefully with a finished baby sweater, for, you know, the baby that is already here.

The Garden Diva’s editor insists that she finish this column - in spite of the myriad of things TGD still needs to plant. In the midst of work that is TGD’s true calling, she is to sit and write about caring for your lawn! Bah, Dear Reader, Bah!

TGD’s solution is really quite simple – get rid of your lawn already! Really Dear Reader, don’t look so shocked. Lawns are expensive to maintain, they are ecological disasters, they are an enormous amount of work, and many grasses don’t grow all that well here. It’s the green, grass of Kentucky. Does it look like Kentucky around here?

About that environmental cost. Fertilizer contains phosphorous. Did you know, Dear Reader that the province of Manitoba has limited the amount of phosphorous in a fertilizer to 1 percent? When a gardener over fertilizes their yard, that extra phosphorus winds up in sloughs and ponds, where it turns into an algal bloom, and chokes out the wee, ickle fishies. Pesticides, dear reader, kill good bugs, including the wee tiny earth worms that are aerating your soil for you. 60-90 % of earth worms will die after an application of pesticides.

And the cost? Dear Reader, Americans spent $30 Million on lawn maintenance in 2002? Did you know that your old 4HP lawnmower creates as much smog producing particles in hour of use, as does driving your car 200 Miles (American Statistics, Dear Reader). And then Dear Reader, there are those of you that throw out your lawn clippings – 30 percent of landfill bound waste is yard waste. All of this mayhem, dear reader, for something that doesn’t flower, and you can’t eat it! Enough!

Are you still attached to your perfect lawn? Are you willing to consider other ground covers? Rock, paving stone, and bark chips will stand up to the toughest conditions. Indeed, they are the only things that stand up to TGD’s non-gardening dogs. Mulch is soft and ideal for running children. Creeping Thyme or Vinca will stand up to a moderate amount of foot traffic and require no mowing. All of these will cover ground, are nice to look at, and are much kinder to our planet.

If you must maintain your lawn: TGD does earnestly implore you to observe the following conditions:

- Plant grass that grows in Alberta – probably a Fescue variety. Leave Kentucky Blue Grass in Kentucky!
- Do all you can to make your lawn as healthy as possible, avoiding horrible pesticides and fertilizers (the fishes and the earth worms!).
- Rake your lawn each spring to remove the thatch and add a top dressing of 2 inches of compost.
- Use a newer mulching lawn mower and leave the clippings on your lawn to fertilize your lawn, reduce the amount of water your lawn needs, and keep those weeds down. Keep your lawn mower blade sharp cut only dry grass to a height of no less than 3 inches.
- Water your lawn about an inch a week, less if it rains. And for the love of lobelia, please don’t water the side walk! TGD assures you, Dear Reader, it will not grow!

TGD lives and gardens in Edmonton, with the trés wonderful gardening diva husband and the non-gardening dogs. She longs to get back to the days when she and the gardening mother could cut the grass in their backyard with a weed whacker. Next month she will talk more about wee ickle bugs.

Monday Miscellany

Things to tell you today:

  • When you are selecting a magazine for it's picture value, because the Opthamologist has put drops in your eyes to examine them and you can't read, it's best - truly - not to choose The Economist.
  • I have disabled anonymous comments. I got tired to stupid people on the blogs of others, and I figure if you are going to insult me, please at least do so with a name. Way back at the beginning I said we should behave as if we were in my living room. Still seems sensible to me.
  • Mr. Spit has an exciting blog series going. Drop over and see what he does for a living, and why he's never home, would you?

  • On the subject of Mr. Spit not being home. Here's what I had for dinner on the first night he was gone. (bbq chicken, rice and broccoli)
  • This was what I had for dinner tonight. Any guesses for tonight? (no, it won't be popcorn, that was dinner on Thursday Night)
  • Oh, and a very close to finished project - Baby Sweater for the Cara baby who arrived in the wee small hours of Friday. Keziah is here and her mum and dad and older brother are thrilled.

  • I have discovered that the wonderful Maximus doesn't eat dead wasps. I am, again, left wondering, why do I keep feeding this cat?

And finally, Mr. Spit and I had what looks to be an early miscarriage this weekend. By the time I read what my body was telling me (I knew there was a reason I couldn't eat the Calamari on Friday!), the wee one just starting had already left this world. I'm not sad. Really. We weren't trying to get pregnant. Quite the opposite - I'm on medication that is unsafe to be pregnant on. I'll say it again. We aren't sad. This isn't a big deal for us. I was all of 5 minutes pregnant. As the Very Blessed Midwife (VBM) said, sometimes things just aren't meant to be. If anything, we are pleased that for the very first time my body actually managed to get ovulate and get fertilized, without anyone's help. That's totally new for us. (And yes, I'm fine physically too).

I Don't Like Losing

I was at a women's luncheon on Thursday. The key note was a great speaker, a prominent Edmontonian. I left shrugging my shoulders. She's very much a "If you believe it, you can do it" kind of lady. She has, through her own drive and determination, taken a single hair salon in a very tiny town to a multi-million dollar chain in two provinces. She's worked hard, and she truly has made it happen, largely through her sheer force of will. She has made herself a success, and she deserves credit.

Last year, a friend asked me what the hardest part of infertility was. And I thought for a second and said: "I don't like losing." I don't often lose. I'm reasonably smart, I'm driven, used to success. I have a good job, a nice-ish house and a fantastic husband. I make good money, I'm articulate. But, there is nothing in the world I can do to make God give me a baby. There is nothing I can do to make sure my baby lives. Nothing I can do to reduce my chances of pre-eclampsia. I can't control life. I can't make anything truly important happen. I lose, because I can't win the fight by my sheer force of will.

Infertility taught me another of life's lessons: the biggest things in life, the best things in life; you can't make them happen. You can set the stage, you can pray, you can be open to things, but you can't make marriage, birth, love, conception, joy happen in your life. Humans are simply not that powerful. We control very little of our destiny. I wonder if we should keep teaching drive and determination and sheer force of will as good character traits, if we should keep prizing them so, given how very little we really can make happen, and how unimportant what we can make happen really is.

I look at people like the speaker, those who still believe in their own power to achieve big things, and I cock my head to the side and wonder "So, what will you do when you can't make something happen? When you discover that the sheer force of will that made you a millionaire, it can't keep the seasons from changing, it can't thwart tragedy, it can't add a single second to the life of a loved one? What will happen to you when you discover that the principals of grit and determination and hard work don't work?"

It was not sheer force of will that got me through the days after Gabriel's death. It was not drive or determination or grit that made me get out of bed, talk to people, plan a funeral, cook meals, pick up the pieces of my life. Sheer force of will fled, drive and determination meant nothing. Drive and determination for what? Another empty day without Gabriel, full only of longing and pain and sorrow?

I used to snowshoe. My final race was 40km, (25 miles), and the very end of it was a series of brutally steep hills. There are two ways to run up a hill. There is the sheer force of will method: Saying: "I will overcome, steamroll, kick and shove and use elbows in the corners. I will focus on the top of the hill, and I will get myself there."

The other method is far less glamorous, attracts less attention. You get up the hill by putting one foot in front of the other. You let everyone go past you if need be, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other. You don't focus on the top of the hill, you focus on the next step, and the next after that. This method, this is called endurance, patience.

You get up the hill either way. You get up more hills, using the second way.

You see, my drive and determination, they burn out. I get distracted, I decide if I can't win the race on my terms, I'll go play somewhere else. I get to the top of the hill, and I realize that life is just a succession of hills, and there is another, steeper one, for tomorrow. And I've already spent all my energy on the first hill. And if, perchance, I lose the race, it is a great crises of self.

Endurance is boring and mindless and repetitive. I suppose that's why we should call it another name, a name that is more indicative of what it really is. A name that speaks of patience and fortitude and stamina and hope.

Let's call it courage.

Dear American Thieves of Lord Stanley's Cup

Dear Emily America:

We didn't say much when you insisted the swill that you call "beer" was actually related the true, proud and noble drink that is actually worthy of the name. We just shook our heads when you bought Molson's. We hated to tell you that we only made that beer so you guys would have something to drink when you came up here.

We put up with the washroom's that you don't wash in. We put up with your hatred of "u"'s in colour and neighbour and labour.

We think it's enormously funny to watch you try to identify a tuque. We thought it was amusing when Rudy Guliani didn't know who our Prime Minister.

We only snickered a tiny bit at your Freedom Fries. We appreciate the comedic relief your politicians (on both sides of the aisle!) provide.

But this, this perfidy, this treachery, this malfeasance, this simply cannot be tolerated.

We will issue a sternly worded apology note of concern. We may even send a head of state to say "Fuddle Duddle". Possibly we shall say it in two official languages. (We are striking a Royal Commission to study the feasibility - it will travel across Canada to consult with everyone, but don't worry, they'll only listen to the Quebecois in the end)

But we are coming for our cup. When you hear this song, you'll know we're on our way.

(Only, if it wouldn't be too much trouble, would ever mind making sure that there's snow, it makes it sooooo much easier on the sled dogs - thanks!)

Sorry, you'll note the puck isn't coloured blue in the video, that's because, well you know, the ice is white and the puck is black. It's that whole contrast thing.

(Why no Emily, I'm not still resentful about the whole Stanley Cup thing, nope, not me!)