Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I've been wanting to post something, ANYTHING, for a while now, but honestly I just haven't had the heart for it. I'm excited about Picadilly (the name we've given our new fetus until further naming occurs [ Jules was the Wookie and Joel was Princess Steamboat...yeah, we were way off on that last one]) but I'd be a complete liar if I acted like that most excellent of news didn't rip the scab off of my not-so-healed wounds. More on that when I 1) feel like reflecting on my recent emo-ness and 2) I have more time to sit and write more self-analyzing, self-deprecating drivel.

Speaking of not having time: I really don't mind teaching, some days I even enjoy it, it's just everything that goes with teaching that I can't stand. I have to take grad classes to keep my certificate, so I figure why not put those credits towards an actual degree. The problem with that is that the only degrees I can really work that with (other than a Masters in Literature too much work) are degrees in the education field. ...and you realize in graduate courses they make you do things that actually resemble work, right? I mean, I spent 6 long years bullshitting my way to a college degree. Now I spend 40+ hours a week bullshitting 97 students and then bullshitting my way through parenthood and husbandry. Do I have time to act like I care about how to properly build a curriculum? Well, okay, maybe I do, but not for a pre-school class, which is for some reason what one of my classes is about (don't ask, because I don't know) I actually do care about middle school and high school curriculum because I figure if the people that make those decisions ever get their shit together, it might actually make it easier for me to bullshit my 97 students and I can cut that 40+ into just plain 40. :) (God I hope President Obama isn't reading this... at least my principals will think I'm being sarcastic)

Anyway....to the things that I'm honestly not dealing with, but actually do take up my "mental time": corporate bullshit. Admittedly, I am a financial moron and I'm bad with paperwork (ask my principals), fortunately my wife loooves paperwork. The unfortunate side of that is she ends up dealing with just about every issue we have with any company, this includes dealing with any and all financial/business fallout from Joel's death: insurance, hospital billing, lawyers, credit card companies, and I'm sure the list goes on. Me, I just feel like a useless douchebag as my wife relives the days surrounding Joel's death time and time again by having to explain paying for an autopsy and trying to submit it to insurance, and somehow having to explain all of this time and time again.

The interesting thing, however, comes as a result of my wife's blog garnering quite a bit of attention from the online community and even locally after she was interviewed about Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day (October 15th) by our local news channel. We're both nerdy and nosey and use stat-trackers on our blogs. In the same way that it lets me see that 99% of my average 6 hits per day come from my own house, it has also let my wife see her ever increasing number of hits from the large, local hospital that we've had so many complaints about. The hits come from email links, Google searches, and even bookmarks.

Clearly these are people with offices and time on their hands, so it certainly can't be the hard-working nurses and residents that have been so good to us, but perhaps the office workers, receptionists and administrators that have always been such a pain in the ass? Except Jennifer in Patient Relations; she was very sincere. And these people must really have some time on their hands, because they aren't just readoing my wife's blog, they're also checking in on our Canadian friend's blog.

I can't help but to think that ifthese folks weren't spending so much time checking into their PR, they might be able to spend some time actually helping to improve patient care. We're awfully glad you're taking the time to read blogs about complaints we've already sent you, but why not take the time to do your real job?

People that should be focused on providing the most basic of care to the community are instead having to think in terms of sales and marketing, worrying about Public Relations over individual patient relations. Corporate Health Hulk, why don't you quit reading blogs and do something to help my student that comes to school in pain and nausea because the specialist at your hospital won't return calls and tells him his pain is in his head? Why don't you do something to help the student that comes to my classroom and lays her head down in pain because her family can't afford to get her tooth pulled by a dentist?

CHH is a hospital full of good workers, nurses and doctors and I certainly don't mean to insult those fine people that work their asses off each day while I bullshit my way into a paycheck. But marketing and PR healthcare -- when dealing with the hospital is like calling customer service at the cable company -- something is wrong with the system. I mean, I've admitted to bullshitting through my schooling and my job, but at least when I'm at work I'm helping people as best I can, as opposed to sitting on my ass reading a blog. sheesh.

**oh, but last I checked, even they weren't reading my blog. Go figure.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Odd timing (The Quest part 8)

So this upcoming week, October 15th to be exact, is the Awareness week/day/month for our "club": for all of us who have lost an infant, be it a stillbirth, miscarriage, or any other infant death. If you didn't click on the link above, go ahead and do it now, or plan to later. My wife put together quite the statement/blog about it. I had actually planned to just re-post it over here, but as it would happen, a strange thing happened on my way to get my back shaved.

(Yes, I have unfortunately developed the back hair that I have often mocked...now I tease it...with a pick)

We'd just spent a marvelous weekend at the George Washington Hotel in Winchester, Virginia, a beautiful and cozy colonial town, where we enjoyed our friends' wedding as well as some horseback riding. ( If that sentence sounds a bit pompous, it should, but it was that fun AND classy of a weekend) In many ways, we had looked forward to this weekend away from home as a reprieve: a chance to stop and not think so much on our troubles, and just enjoy ourselves a bit. Just a week or two ago, we had been very focused on our Quest and had faced some hard truths about just how much I'd recovered from the reversal. According to my own microscopic examination, as well as that of a local lab, I was completely spermless (only so many sperm metaphors I can go through...).

After 400 miles on the road, there was a great need for bathroom utilization. On a whim, my wife decided to use one of the test strips she had bought (in bulk). I got in the shower, where she had finally conceded to help me out with that damned back hair, and as I lathered up she started freaking out. I assumed there was a spider or something...

nope, just a line. a faint, but very obvious line -- and trust me, we've seen enough negative tests to know what a line doesn't look like.

(15 minutes later)

Yep...still lines...

(...another 35)

Tried two more: more lines.

(...one hour and a half...)
Yeah, so we're still in shock and I don't even know what to post here.


Now I know it's early, and TRUST ME I know we have plenty to worry about...but this is really great. :)

Now, back to the "odd timing". First, today is October 11th, my father's birthday. Wait, don't say "awwww". I mean, if you've read this whole blog, you know things aren't cool there. But somehow I still take it to mean something that we found out on his birthday. I mean, he made it pretty clear through his absence of inquiry that he didn't care about Joel, so quite honestly, we have no interest in giving him the opportunity to care for this pregnancy. So we found out on his birthday, AND went horseback riding... I guess take it as an extra "fuck you" to him (not that I like to associate hateful terms with birthdays, pregnancies, or horses, but he brought this on himself)

Another coincidence of time that occurred to me is that this is also the week of my truly best friend's son's birthday (he'll be a great big ONE this week. very awesome!) He and his wife also experienced a loss before this little cutie came along, which I suppose makes the date all the more meaningful (and coincidental). Now I don't know what they think of all this, and I'm certaionly not wanting to put anything on them, so to speak, and its their perogative to deal with those ideas and feelings as they wish. But what I can say for sure is this: I'm very happy and honored to have received this most exciting news in the same week as their son's birthday.

So it would appear that The Quest will now take on a new form (I'm tired of talking about sperm anyway...) as we keep a very close eye on this pregnancy.

oh, and there are STILL lines.

and I never got my back shaved...

Friday, October 9, 2009


When "real" writers (ie: the ones who get paid to do it) give advice, it almost always comes down to this: write, and write often; just do it; or (my favorite) don't get it right, get it written. It doesn't necessarily matter what it is you're writing either, just that you are practicing with the written word. It's just simple practice, like lifting weights in order to go out and...uh...open pickle jars or embarrass fat people or whatever else it is people that work out do.

Naturally this results in catalogs of unpublished works, at least for the dedicated writer, which means I have about 10 pages (not counting the plethora of created, but discarded, smartass work emails)

In regard to ye ole blog, I have a few things I've sat on for a while. Blogs that went unfinished, or ideas I started with but never polished. I honestly think of this whole blog as a mid-process window: I don't consider much of anything I post to be "finished", I just write it and post it (a longer process than it sounds, trust me) without much revision. Of course, knowing myself, I would edit out the emotion in favor of (more) lame jokes and sarcastic banter, because that's how I operate.

SO: Here are a few nuggets that I didn't want to post alone, but couldn't find a perfect fit elsewhere. Forgive my "short sentences double-spaced" (or freeverse poetry)


Ever so sweetly, a girl in one of my classes asked me, "What does your bracelet say?"

I paused as I was erasing my whiteboard and thought, "Bracelet...?" I looked down at my wrist, at the black band that keeps a nice, constant pressure on me. "Oh, my wristband" (because apparently even in grief gender stereotypes persist)

So I shared, not much, but I shared. It wasn't the first time I had told this new group of students about Joel -- some of them knew from being around last year and, of course, in introducing myself to them on the first day, I wasn't going to mention one son and not the other -- but there was an odd feeling about it. It wasn't so much wanting to avoid being a "downer" to my students, or even to avoid distracting from class with our story; I felt like I was protecting them.


What a strange #@$%ing day.

(I censor because it is supposed to be both visually appealing and more comical...although I've always been curious if there was a key for replacing the letters in curse words. I mean, $#!% ( or shit) is pretty easy, but I', just @!$$!*& in the dark when it comes to replacing f-u-c-k. Ah, #@$% it)

All the love of a lifetime poured into one day.

I had felt your kick,

Saw you make your mommy squirm and shout

I listened to your heart a dozen times:

Every time, there is a moment,
time stands still and the world is silent
waiting for you
waiting to hear your only sound
the beat of a heart not yet exposed to the world
Every time there is a moment of excitement and fear
anticipation and dread
The emotional spectrum exposed
while the universe waits to hear your beat.

So many times I heard it; every time, a sigh of relief
But not this day,

This day, the cosmos stay still.

I knew you,
your personality,
rambunctious and lively,
a monkey in mother's belly.

I felt you,
she felt you,
your kick,
your moves,
your life

Our son was real.
His life has consequence.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

He's not breathing

I heard the thump and turned in my seat as my wife stood up, "honey..." I dove onto my knees at my son's side as his little body lay there shaking, his eyes distant.

I looked to the baseboard next to where his head lay for signs that he had hit it. I felt his head for a bump, for blood, for something; all the while talking to him and trying to keep my voice calm for him, and just trying to get him to respond.

Having not seen him fall, I didn't know if he had been standing or fell in some other way; if he'd hit his head on anything more than carpet; I didn't know if the seizure made him fall or if the fall made him seize; I was clueless and helpless.

My wife, frantic on the phone with the 911 operator, trying to explain our situation.

I tried my best to keep his position still, to avoid any possible neck injury, but I had to keep him turned a bit to his side to try and avoid choking. It didn't work.

I saw the bit of foam at his lip. I swiped his mouth; nothing there. I saw his lips grow a shade of blue as his eyes... his eyes started to go dim.

I lived and died a thousand times in that moment; in the time it took me to breathe, and for him to not. I screamed to my wife. I cried for my sons and called to Jules, searching deep into those sweet, little eyes for a sign of what I saw slipping away. Holding his head in one hand, and his limp hand in another, I felt the sun dying, and knew how it felt for God to turn his back.

It blasted through my head like a comet, bringing light back to my world, and I could see, I could assess, I could take care of my son. I began CPR, silencing the panic in my heart when it felt like the air wouldn't go. I felt the air go in and I continued, finally feeling him breathe, and (Thank God) seeing his eyes light back up and give some recognition. Still, he had no control of his body, he couldn't move and for a moment, couldn't even move his eyes.

As the paramedics rushed in, he finally started to grasp my finger with his left hand and my heart lifted a bit more. I let the EMTs take over and just tried not to be in the way.

My wife, who had been on the phone with 911, and kept watch for the EMTs, and took care of getting Jules' information, later explained to me that what I had felt like was an eternity had been but a few moments (only 4 minutes for the EMTs to arrive).

Once we were in the ambulance, I'd never been so happy to hear my son scream and cry, and finally, fight. He had been very slow to regain control of his body, but now, finally, he was at least confirming for me that he wasn't somehow paralyzed. Perhaps an irrational fear, but again, not knowing how he might have hit his head, I was concerned.

We had been eating dinner and Jules didn't eat much, and had been a bit fussy earlier, and instead wanted to watch Elmo (not an unusual occurrence with a 20-month old). My wife and I stayed at the dining room table, less than 5 feet away from where he sat to watch tv. My back was to him, and I would occasionally look over my shoulder at him; my wife sat with Jules in her peripheral. She had seen that he was sitting when he fell over.

Knowing he didn't have a fever earlier, I was shocked when we arrived at the hospital and his temperature measured over 102 degrees. The EMTs had not detected a temperature either (at least it was nothing I ever heard them say).

As it turned out, our son had experienced a febrile seizure (a fever induced seizure), which it turns out is sometimes the first sign a child has a fever. Our fear that we had ignored a fever or illness was put to rest two days later when his fever broke and a rash broke out on his back and chest: roseola. First the child develops a fever, then when the fever breaks, the rash shows up. A simple and non-threatening ailment. Just not for us, but then again, what ever is?

I know losing both my sons would've been more than I could bear. I also know there are parents out there that have had it happen, and they've survived. To them, I give my deepest sympathy, because as much as I've been told, " I can't imagine what it must be like..." I can only begin to imagine what these parents have been through, and I know I could not withstand it.

It is a moment that made me thankful for every experience I've had in my life, especially some of the crazier ones; the ones that in some way prepared me to be of some kind of use during this. Maybe, just maybe, there is some kind of order to all this chaos.

This was two weeks ago this past Thursday. I still get a very weird feeling looking at the doorway to my dining room, where I kneeled in the floor with my son. My son, however, has no such issue. He was right back to running around and keeping us busy with his toddler antics. He's been having a fine time ever since, considering we've spoiled him even more than usual ever since this. It started, however, with popsicles at the ER (which we've already received a bill for...)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Glow in the woods

I've only recently found this multi-authored blog, but I already enjoy it quite a bit. Clearly a more well-written approach than my 'online ramblings'.

I particularly enjoyed the post I am linking to. While I'm not Jewish, it's still pretty relevant. I like to think this is what I was going for here (although gal does a much better job)

Glow in the Woods