Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pretty Please With a Cherry on Top

There was a set of twin girls in my grade in elementary school. I secretly envied them, wishing I had a sister who would dress like me, who would play pranks on people by switching places, who would hold my hand on the first day of school when I was all alone. Thinking back about it now, I don't think that getting to do these twin acts per se was what I so desired, but rather the bond that forms as a result of going through life with such a close partner in crime.

As my infertility journey showed signs of a long haul and IVF became a necessity, so too did the possibility of having twins. My personal longing for an age mate turned to a desire for children who would share the connection that struck a chord in my heart back in elementary school. For all three of my IVF cycles, we transferred two embryos in hopes that both would stick. During my first IVF cycle, the night before my first ultrasound that would allow us to see if we had more than one baby, I prayed hard that there would be two. I feel a little kookie admitting it, but I felt as if someone, perhaps God himself, grabbed my face and said, "You will get your twins." The next day's ultrasound was a little disappointing, as there was only one baby, but that in itself was enough to cancel out my greediness for two. For our next two IVF cycles, I never forgot I had been told, very definitively in my mind, that someday I would have my two. When it didn't happen the second IVF cycle, the third time I believed my chances had to be good. Plus, using a young egg donor increases your likelihood for success, so I let myself be more confident that my babies were on their way. When my pregnancy results were in, my hCG levels were very high, a good sign that this was finally it. An ultrasound a month or so later confirmed--I was going to get my twins.

I recognize that hoping for twins isn't necessarily popular. There are the possible risks to babies and to mothers, and there are the financial obligations. But for me these are worth it; I not only have waited so long to have a baby in the first place, but I can't imagine anything more special than sharing a childhood with the person with whom you shared a womb. I want that desperately for our daughters. 

But today as I remain in this purgatory that lies between Baby B's life and death, I grieve the loss, not only of my baby, but of this bond between her and her sister. Although they are spending their first nine months together, upon their birth they will be connected merely in spirit. Baby A will reach milestones--first days of school, getting her driver's license, graduations--without Baby B beside her. Knowing that Baby B will die shatters me deeply, but what feels even more devastating is knowing that Baby A will not have her sister by her side on her life journey. For her loss I grieve even more deeply than I do my own.

This quote from A Midsummer Night's Dream in my painting is Helena's attempt to remind Hermia of the incredibly special bond they used to share. I think it captures perfectly the beautiful connection between twin girls.



Monday, November 19, 2012

My Boots Are Made for Keeping

A year ago I had a series of extremely vivid dreams related to coping with the loss of our second baby and making sense of the upcoming egg donor IVF cycle that lead to my current pregnancy. I had a lot to work out in my mind related to my grief over my miscarriage and figuring out how I felt about another woman giving my future babies life. I dreamed in brilliant metaphor. Here is an example: I was at an indoor swimming pool and I jumped off the diving board two times. On my third time up the ladder I was paralyzed with fear. I was shaking so badly that I could barely move. I realized that the diving board had turned into a high dive, whereas the first two times I dove off, it was a low dive. I don’t think I even jumped off of it the third time, but I remember having an intense desire to go to the top to get my shaving cream. I did make it to the top, but when I got there, I was disappointed to see that there was no shaving cream, but rather deodorant waiting for me. Interpretation: I believe that the first two diving boards represent my first two attempts at IVF. The high dive represents the third egg donor cycle. The shaving cream comes in because I had gone to Target a few days before the dream. I was in the shaving cream aisle and a dad and his little girl were there and he was telling her that he needed to call her mommy because he can never remember what kind of shaving cream she likes. I thought it was so cute and became very envious that my husband doesn't get to do that. I think the deodorant in the dream represents my fear that the high dive/egg donor cycle will ultimately lead to the disappointment of having something that comes close to shaving cream (deodorant/a baby that dies) rather than the real thing (my husband and kid shopping for me at Target). 

Here is another example, which I have been reflecting back to over the last few days: In this dream I was waiting to find out if I was pregnant. If I received a shoebox with a pair of boots in it, then I was pregnant, and if it was empty, I was not pregnant. Time was ticking and I was putting off doing the shoebox test. When I finally got up the nerve to hold the box in my hands, my heart fell because I could tell without even opening it that it was empty. However, when I did look inside, there was a note from Zappos saying that the boots were damaged during shipping and that I could use the enclosed gift card to purchase another pair. When the new box arrived and I held it, I could tell the boots were indeed inside this time. I excitedly opened the box but unfortunately, I was disappointed to find that the purple boots inside were almost exactly the same as the pair I already have. Interpretation: I have used buying Frye boots as a coping mechanism for making it through IVF and my miscarriages. I bought one pair in New York before embarking on my first IVF attempt. I bought a second pair of purple boots (the reference in this dream) as a reward for making it through the first out of two IVF cycles during our second attempt (you actually do two cycles when genetic testing is involved). I bought a third pair after losing our second baby. During the entire second attempt, I told myself that if I didn’t get the baby, I would get boots instead. I almost had a panic attack one day when I realized that the boots I had been pining over were no longer available in my size through the Frye website. I began to shake and tear up, but thankfully, I was able to find them on another website. I think that the dream represents my fear of getting pregnant again, only to face another loss.

Today, in some ways, I feel that this dream foreshadowed my current reality as I face the excitement of holding a full shoe box and the simultaneous disappointment that I've walked a mile in this pair of boots before (although this time they are even more uncomfortable and painful). With the impending loss of my Baby B, I fear that any day now I will open the shoebox, the one I was so overjoyed to receive, only to find it filled with both one new shoe and one old, with both joy and despair. But back to Zappos my box will not go. I hold on tightly, knowing that despite the heartache that looms under the lid, there lives more joy than I could ever imagine.

This painting of my purple boot serves as a reminder that I wouldn't trade my babies, despite my heartache, for anything. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pour Me Another Glass of Lemonade

Well it has been about three and a half months since my last post. A lot has transpired since then. I am overjoyed to report that I am 24 weeks pregnant with twins. I am unbelievably sad to report that one of our babies is going to die. At our 18 week appointment, our perinatologist confirmed that Baby A is a perfectly healthy baby girl. Unfortunately, he also found numerous cysts on Baby B's kidneys. Because her (at least that is the best guess for sex so far) kidneys are not functioning properly, she has very little amniotic fluid around her. Amniotic fluid is what makes lungs develop. Babies don't need lungs in the womb because the placenta does the work for them. However, as soon as they are born, the lungs need to do their thing. Since Baby B will barely have any lung development, she will not be able to breathe and therefore live. She may die in utero or make it to birth and die shortly afterward. Yes, it's shocking. If you know my story, you know that it doesn't seem fathomable that someone who has gone through so much is not only facing another loss, but the biggest one of her entire journey.

At the beginning of my pregnancy, I felt paralyzed in the sense that could not make myself work on my art. Part of it was that I had morning sickness day and night up until about 15 weeks and part of me didn't want to jinx anything by painting or blogging. I finally had an idea and was set to start painting when we got the news about our Baby B. I have so much to write, so much to paint. Just finally being pregnant in and of itself was an emotional roller coaster, but now as I straddle the world of the pregnant and the infertile, trying to celebrate the incredible life of Baby A and mourn the incredible loss that awaits us with Baby B, I again find myself paralyzed when it comes to knowing what my heart needs me to paint. I am trying to remind myself that I have a lifetime to get it all down on paper and that all of it cannot be explicated in one day. So I share my first painting after my long hiatus, hoping that anyone who sees it will understand that this is just one very tiny fleck of all that encompasses my joy and sorrow.

This painting represents one of the many gifts resulting from my pregnancy. As is evident from a few of my other posts (e.g., Human Reproduction, Bodily Forgiveness), I have been working hard on believing in my body after it has let me down numerous times in the past in regards to trying to get and stay pregnant. With each day my belly gets a little more ginormous and I become more and more confident that this time, even in spite of the upcoming loss of Baby B, my body is a strong body. My body is carrying two babies and it knows what it's doing. My body is mushy and rotund just like I've always wanted. My body has what it takes to do the most incredible thing humanly possible. I love it so much, finally. 

This painting was inspired by the brilliant mother of all midwives, Ina May Gaskin, and a quote from her book Ina May's Guide to Childbirth. "Remember this, for it is as true as true gets: Your body is not a lemon. You are not a machine. The Creator is not a careless mechanic. Human female bodies have the same potential to give birth as aardvarks, lions, rhinoceri, elephants, moose, and water buffalo. Even if it has not been your habit throughout life so far, I recommend you learn to think positively about your body."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Giving the Eggstraordinary Part II

This IVF cycle has proved to be full of times of celebration, drama, and unease. Things moved along beautifully for the first couple of weeks. Our egg donor made it through the follicle stimulation with no trouble and it felt so good to be able to breathe easily at every update on her progress. My body also has been holding up its end of the deal, building up a nice thick uterine lining. I also finally figured out what else to give the donor in addition to the painting I did for her. One of the reasons why we picked her in addition to her medical history, proven success in previous cycles, age, etc. was because her favorite book growing up was To Kill a Mockingbird. This is also my favorite book and so I took this as a sign that she is the one. So I got her a 50th anniversary edition copy of the book and another one that includes interviews of people who talk about how the book has impacted their lives. I also found the perfect card and thought of the perfect things to say. As I mentioned in my previous post, this gift meant so much to me and I was so relieved that I was at peace with it. I indeed had found THE gift. Or so I thought.

As seems to always happen at some point during IVF treatment, my hope and optimism came to a crashing halt. I had an appointment to check in on my uterine lining. Although it continued to look good, the ultrasound technician found a hydrosalpinx (fluid pocket) in the remaining piece of my right fallopian tube (I had it removed it 2009). This was a Saturday so we waited all day to hear from the doctor who was on call about what this might mean. After a day of overwhelming anxiety, she called and said that my doctor wanted to look at it himself and that worst case scenario I would need to have the remaining piece of tube removed or blocked before moving forward with IVF. If the fluid from the hydrosalpinx makes it into the uterus, it can impact embryo implantation. This would mean freezing the embryos and me starting all over again with a new cycle. Of course this happened on a Saturday and so we had a long wait until Monday when we were scheduled to meet with my doctor.

In the meantime, the following day was egg retrieval day. My husband went in to give his sample (in the navy room as he likes to call it ;)) and despite the news of the previous day, we were feeling excited that this was the day the embryos would begin their journey. However, again our hopefulness was bitch slapped. We got a call from one of the embryologists that they were only able to get six eggs, four of which were mature. Now, this may seem like a good number and it is if you are a typical infertility patient. However, for a donor this is a horrible number. During our donor's last cycle with another couple she had 18 mature eggs! She admitted that she had taken her trigger shot (the one that tells the follicles to release the eggs) almost three hours early the night before. They have this timed perfectly so that by retrieval time, the eggs are ready to be "harvested." Since she took the shot so early, she ovulated out most of the eggs by the time they went in to retrieve them. We were speechless. The ridiculousness of it all seemed so unfathomable.

After making it through yet another intense day, Monday came and we had our appointment with our doctor. We prepared ourselves for the worst, but surprisingly he determined that the hydrosalpinx is in such a place that there is not a threat of it making it to my uterus. We were clear for transfer on Friday. In the meantime, we prayed that we would have embryos left to transfer. With so few we were unsure if the transfer would happen despite the good news on Monday. Thankfully, we ended up with two perfect embryos and transferred those. The other two did not make it so we have none to freeze. We are in the two-week wait currently and will find out if we are pregnant next week.

Ok, now to the point of this post. Geesh. Last week was a really hard time for me regarding what happened with the donor. We took such care to choose her, each of us ranking numerous donors on our own and then coming together to discuss our top choices. I put so much care into choosing the perfect gift for her. Despite this she let us down. She took away any chance to have future siblings that share a genetic connection with one another even if they don't share one with me. She took away the beautiful story I had intended to tell my children about what an amazing person she is to have given them life. I fumed. I wanted to ask for the painting I made for her back. After a couple of days though, I decided that I could not keep up such anger, such bitterness and regret. So I decided to give her one last gift: I chose to forgive her. For the sake of my health and the babies that are hopefully rocking it out inside me, I let go. Like me and like all of us have done, she is a good person who has made a big mistake. If there is one thing that I have learned over the last year, it is that I am not perfect and that I don't need to be. As I learn to be gentler on myself, I learn to do the same for others. I was lying in bed thinking all of this through last week and as soon as I came to this decision a palpable feeling washed over me. I felt a sense of relief and I felt like a mother. What an even more beautiful story to tell our children than the one I had originally planned--another invaluable gift she is giving to all of us.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Giving the Eggstraordinary

In January when we had our initial consultation with our egg donor nurse where we found out all about how the egg donation process works, we found out one detail that has had me worried for the last five months: The nurses recommend that recipient couples give their donors a thank-you gift (apart from the money they receive for donating). Our nurse explained that giving a gift is nice because it allows both parties to feel a sense of connection and closure. Closure isn't exactly the right word, but she explained that some sort of gift helps the donor feel like going through such a difficult experience is worth it. Although some might think that donors shouldn't expect anything in return given they are paid, I tend to agree that it would probably feel somewhat violating to simply have a big wad of cash thrown at you after an invading procedure such as the egg retrieval.

The nurse told us that some couples will buy the donor a purse or gift card or a Christmas ornament. As soon as I heard these examples, I knew that they simply will not do for our donor. Although, I have considered getting her a Zappos gift card so she can buy herself some expensive shoes. Over our past IVF cycles and losses, I have used the purchase of Frye boots to mend my broken heart. Since I am hoping that I will not need such a purchase this time, I thought the shoes maybe should go to the donor.

So I have been fretting over this issue for months. What do you give to someone who is going to help give you the biggest gift you could possibly receive? No, a purse and not even shoes are enough. What makes the gift even trickier is that this is THE one chance at communication with her. The process is anonymous so there will be no other opportunities. How can one gift express that all the years of tears, heartache, grief, and pain were possibly worth it? How can one gift thank someone for giving my baby a life? The answer is that one gift cannot possibly do all that. So for now, I have painted her this picture. I'm not sure if I'll throw in a day at the spa or something that doesn't make her feel like her recipient is a cheap ass--"I got my eggs plucked out of me and all I got was this lousy painting!" At the least, I hope that our donor sees the painting and knows that we thank her like we have never thanked someone before.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

New Art Journal and First Entry

My good friend and kindred spirit in art making turned me on to the idea of doing an art journal. I loved the idea because one of the things I really enjoy is having a space where I can organize my artwork in order to tell the story of my experiences (one of the reasons I started this blog). Although I have an art room at home with an art line upon which I can hang my paintings, to me part of my processing of all that I have gone through involves having a place to chronologically makes sense of what I am feeling. So last weekend when my friend came to visit, I decided that I would start an art journal that will document our upcoming egg donor IVF cycle and hopefully the pregnancy and birth that are to follow. There is a lot to process, as this cycle is much different than those we have been through before. Although I believe that I have grieved the loss of having a biological child, there is much work that remains in regards to processing this new adventure. In addition to working this out in my journal, I also am looking forward to doing some more positively-focused pieces as a way to put myself in a good space for our upcoming cycle.

Along these lines, my first journal entry is my attempt at such positive framing. Last week I had a doppler ultrasound as a precursor to our upcoming cycle. I had never had this done in the past. It is a special type of ultrasound that measures blood flow to the uterus. Having the ultrasound is a little unnerving, especially for someone who has both heard the sound of their baby's heartbeat and the sound of silence when their baby has died. Because I could hear the sound of my own heartbeat and blood flow during the ultrasound, I couldn't help but be taken back to both of those times. Thankfully, I was distracted by the difficulty that is apparently inherent in conducting one of these ultrasounds. After much maneuvering and two nurses trying to get an accurate read, I faced a new problem with my body--I have abnormal/restricted blood flow to my uterus.

Despite this news, I was not incredibly devastated. What is one more issue with my body in addition to all the others? Thankfully, my doctor is not highly concerned either. With my previous IVF cycles, I have maintained nice thick uterine linings and high estrogen levels (two things typically impacted by abnormal blood flow to the uterus). I will continue to do acupuncture (which I absolutely love) given its benefits for aiding blood flow AND my doctor will add a new drug to my protocol. This drug is...drum roll please...Vaginal Viagra! Ta Da! I think this is fabulous. Apparently vaginal viagra does the same thing for uteruses as it does for penises in regards to increasing blood flow. Unfortunately, side effects do NOT include spontaneous orgasm. From what I've read, VV is highly effective even for those who have problems building up strong uterine linings, so I think it's great I will have one more thing in my corner that could contribute to a healthy pregnancy.

So below are a few pictures. The first two are the cover of my art journal that I made. I love the quote, as I think it captures beautifully what art can do that words cannot. The other pictures are my first entry--my attempt at visualizing my arteries moving and grooving (despite their clinical restriction) and getting ready for my sweet baby to join the party.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

In Mourning There Will Be Life

I am now blogging in the present, as I have finally finished uploading all my previous paintings and poems!

This painting is probably one of the most meaningful for me that I have done to date. I drew it after our second miscarriage. In total across all of our in vitro treatments, we have had 15 embryos, none of which have survived. The most likely culprits are my eggs. The rest of my body functions fine when it is pregnant and my husband has been tested and is in great shape. At the time I drew this, I wanted to capture my grief over losing my baby but also my grief over realizing that 0/15 basically equals a loss of my fertility.

I was frustrated with the drawing because my husband said the robin looked like a baby bird. I didn't want it to look like a baby bird. I wanted it to look like a mother who came home to discover that her 15 baby eggs were shattered! I let the drawing sit for months. I couldn't bring myself to work on it. Plus, it's a lot bigger than most of the paintings I've done, which made it feel more intimidating.

During the time when this painting sat stewing, we began to look into egg donation as an option for having a baby. We decided that this will be our new path and we will embark on an egg donor cycle this summer. Over the last few months, in addition to working on becoming a more mentally healthy person in general, I have worked hard to mend my heart and head after all of the losses we have suffered. In order to begin to prepare myself for our upcoming journey, my psychologist suggested doing some artwork that will help put me in a positive space. Given none of my artwork to date is very positive, this seemed so foreign to me. But I really wanted to start to do some more positively-framed pieces (in addition to my dark ones :)). Despite wanting to do this, I still had the mother robin masquerading as the baby bird with the smashed eggs lurking on my easel. I felt like I had to finish the painting before I could make a transition to a new kind of art.

So a couple of weeks ago it dawned on me. The robin is both grieving mother and baby bird. She represents both my heartache over my 15 embryos that will never be and the new possibilities that potentially will emerge from my shattered eggs. In this way, the painting represents where I have been and all that awaits me. Once I realized this, I finished the painting pretty quickly, understanding that in the mourning there will be life.

Earth Is a Place on Heaven

I made this painting for my friend when her step-mom died. Although this was particularly traumatic for my friend and her family, I was really emotional about the loss as well, despite never having met her step-mom. My friend has been one of my strongest, most loving supports through all that we have been through on our infertility journey. When her step-mom died, I felt incredibly comforted knowing that a piece of my friend, and therefore and piece of me, would now be in heaven with my babies. Come to find out, my friend's step-mom also had lost babies and was very much looking forward to being with them in heaven. So this painting is my vision of her meeting my babies and her own upon her arrival in heaven.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Let It Be

For Christmas I made this painting for my friend who had her fourth miscarriage a few months earlier. My husband and I had just been to a holiday memorial service at our church and they played John Lennon and Paul McCartney's "Let It Be." I think it's a perfect song for trying to come to grips with both the life and loss of babies. Here are the lyrics, as they are difficult to see in the painting.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree,
There will be an answer, let it be.

For though they may be parted there is
Still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Yeah there will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy,
There is still a light that shines on me,
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be.

I wake up to the sound of music
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be.
Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be,
Let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be,
Let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

Bodily Forgiveness

After going through IVF a second time and having another miscarriage, I started needing to work on my issues with my body. I had become so angry at it for letting me down in so many ways. My therapist gave me an assignment to "get mad at my body" so that I could begin to make peace with it. I started out by writing it a letter, but the right words just wouldn't come to me. So I decided to paint a picture instead. I started out with the idea of putting my naked body in the corner wearing a dunce hat. My original idea was to have the hands shoving all the let downs at the body as if to say, "Look at everything you've done to me!" But when I drew the hands, they didn't look angry at all. They looked welcoming, empathic, loving, and most importantly, forgiving. So instead of putting the let downs in the hands, I had the idea to put them on the chalkboard, as if the body was writing out it's punishment for all it has done to us. I added the flag, not only to add to the classroom feel, but because of the freedom I felt as a result of going through the process of making this painting.

I'm sorry...1. Our eggs are bad. 2. Our fallopian tube was taken without our permission. 3. We had to wear a patch that burned our skin. 4. That we've had our baby scraped out of us. 5. That we grow cysts. 6. That we don't ovulate. 7. That we have irregular periods. 8. That we have to be so skinny instead of big and fat. 9. So many people have seen us naked. 10. We feel so afraid of functioning correctly even though it's the thing we want the most. 11. We fear we might never give birth. 12. We are infertile. 13. We have to bear so many of our friends' pregnancies and births. 14. We cost so much money. 15. We have scars. 16. Our 15 embryos could not stay. 17. We have to answer when people ask if we have kids. 18. That people have stopped talking to us. 19. That we might never have a baby. 20. That our babies are dead.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

My Angel

Before embarking on our second round of IVF, I made this painting of our first baby and me to remind me I was never alone.

Rabbit Hole Card

I made this card for my dear friend's baby boy's birthday/anniversary of his death. She turned me on to the movie The Rabbit Hole, which is a movie featuring Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. Their characters are grieving the loss of their son. The movie is absolutely brilliant, as it captures honestly the pain of losing a child. I took a conversation between Nicole Kidman's character, Becca, and her mom, Nat (played by Dianne Wiest), from the movie to make the card. Nat lost an older son years ago and in the scene Becca asks Nat's advice.

Birthing Grief

This poem and painting were inspired by making it through our first baby's birth date.

When your body left mine
An impostor entered in and implanted deeply

With each passing week I sickened from its gripping growth
I tired from its developing digits
My heart bought stock in broken and despair 

The spring of D-day arrived
After a long fought winter

I begged it to stay
I pleaded for it to go
It ripped me
It drained me

But after countless hours
I birthed it
For you.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Our Heart's Desire

Given our first miscarriage was the result of trisomy 15 (the baby had an extra #15 chromosome), for our second round of IVF we decided to do preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), which is a screening process that tests embryos' genetic make-up before being transferred. We had three "genetically normal" embryos, all of whom were boys. Since I got the call earlier than we were expecting, this is the painting I did to tell my husband the news. In case you aren't sure what embryos look like, the three blue things are them!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Human Reproduction

Over the last four years, my body and mind have endured numerous treatments. I was on Clomid three times to no avail. I participated in a clinical study for a HCG patch that was supposed to make me ovulate. All it did was severely burn my skin to the point of having welts all over my arms and stomach. I've had a laparoscopy to remove a para-ovarian cyst and woken up to find that my fallopian tube also had been removed. I've endured three IVF cycles (doing PGD involves doing two), including hundreds of injections being stabbed into my stomach, legs, and butt. I've had a baby scraped out of me for a D&C. And the list goes on. When I did these drawings, I was having a difficult time seeing myself as anything but infertile. I refer to them as "reproductive system me(s)." They represent different stages of my infertility journey and the emotions I felt during those times.


White Sheets

This poem is inspired by the artist Frida Kahlo and her painting "The Flying Bed". Frida and her painting both inspired me to want to do my own birth art.

I had always wanted white sheets. One day my husband and I decided that it was time to go for the glory of their clean crispness. Not any white wonders would do of course. No. We opted for an extremely over-priced pair from Restoration Hardware. The immaculate bed display featuring layers upon layers of perfectly placed pure ivory heaven whispered our names.

Despite my dreams of snuggling up on creamy heavenry, I hated the sheets from the beginning. As soon as I washed them, they were a wrinkled, wadded-up mess. Apparently, $300 will get you a feeling of hoit and toit, but not a wrinkle-free thread count. Plus, white sheets don't stay white. No matter how often you wash them, sleeping bodies make for yellowing sheets. Disgusting.

This poem highlights my equivocation with the sheets after a spot of blood got on them following my D&C.

We bought white sheets
In hopes that their crisp stiffness
Would cradle our bodies 
In the dreamland only money can buy.

But snickering below us
They yellowed and wrinkled.
In their expensive sarcasm
They uglied and haunted.
I wanted to bleach out their badness.

But after you were snapped from inside
Your soul leaked
Your heart poured out onto 
Our sullied-looking sheets.

I again felt betrayed by them
As they got to swaddle 
Your only remains.

But as your stain fades like a bruise
From dark to yellow
I must beg the sheets not to fade
Back to white.

Father's Day Card

I made this card for my husband for Father's Day. The idea came from this poem, which I wrote one day because I was so sad that we have everything we could ever need and want--except for a baby. I also was feeling like a zombie; I felt like every time I looked around babies were everywhere--being strolled around the neighborhood, haunting me on Facebook, declaring themselves in my text messages, and cooing at me at the grocery store.

The three of us sit staring
Holding hands over mounds of our gold-rimmed treasures
We are zombies
Confused by the multiplicity of what appears to be happening outside our window--
Cherubs by the thousands
Being pushed around by their smug-dipped masters.
We look to one another for comfort
Arms still horizontal
Though we can't stop hoping
One will see us through the two-way mirror.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


The year after losing our first baby, four of my best friends got pregnant. The rejection I feel as a result of not getting to be a part of their (and the countless others who have given birth since we began our infertility journey) group never really gets easier to bear.

This poem is a bit gross but given how much I absolutely abhor scab picking, it helped me capture the feeling of finding out over and over again that another one was leaving me behind.

Step right up and take your turns
Nibble at my scab
Pick at its unsettled borders
Make my bloody center incurably deep.

Rip it off slowly
For the smooth of my skin
Is growing impatient.

This one captures my longing for a body unlike my own.

Her body ebbs and flows
Liquid with round anticipation.
Her middle gushing and mushing
To the sound of unyielding dub dips.

My body bristles and clanks 
Solidified with flat disappointment.
My middle begging and pleading 

To the sound of silence.

This painting was my attempt to capture this poem. This was my second painting and I had not yet figured out how to make flesh color or how to paint faces! When I completely ruined the painting with their heads, I decided to cut them off. I love my friends despite their ability to get pregnant so I don't mean for their headlessness to imply any type of symbolic violence! Although my husband encouraged me to repaint it because the original drawing's heads were pretty good, I decided to leave it. This way the focus is more on the bellies in comparison to my own.


When I wrote this poem, I was having a horrible time. I was in the very darkest depths of my grieving the loss of our first baby. The poem captures my anger with someone who hurt me deeply during this time.

You smacked your shit
Across my face
Despite the gaping wound
That oozed across my soul

And now you want to stand
Ready with your gauze
Prepared for additional seepage

When all I want to do is
Make you
Smell my cheek.


After my first miscarriage, I began writing poetry to capture my heartache, but I really felt like I couldn't express everything I felt with words. So this is when I realized I wanted to paint. As a kid I always enjoyed art, but after high school I never did anything with it. I think I thought that since I was never a brilliant artist that it wasn't worth doing. I have since learned through my grieving process that art isn't something brilliant I have to make, but rather it is something brilliant that can make me.

What's funny is that last Christmas I was at my parent's house looking through old school things from when I was young. I came across a list I made right before graduating from 6th grade. We were to write down what occupations we thought our classmates would have as adults. The occupation I listed for myself: Artist.

This is my first painting that started my new love affair with art. This poem got me going.

You are the sound of sweet water filling my glass
When my center has gone dry
And my head has gone weak.
But you drip
Out of my heart
Before I've had the chance
To press you to my lips.