About lorraineckraus

I am launching this blog on what would have been the third birthday of my son Finley Mitchell Skrzypecki, who was born early and tragically only lived 13-hours. It is with deeply mixed feelings that I now embark on a a mission to share the intimate details of the most excruciating pain I have ever known, as a bereaved mother, and as a woman who has struggled with fertility for many years. I will approach this differently than a typical blog, in that my experiences will be shared via flashbacks or short stories, while my continuing fertility efforts and grieving will be shared in real time. I produce TV commercials for a living, am married to my husband Craig, am sober for almost 7 years, am a native of Los Angeles, and currently live in Venice, California. I have been a writer for as long as I can remember, with countless short stories about life, a novella about a fictionalized version of a younger me, and an unfinished autobiographical novel about my inevitable foray into drug addiction ~ all which have been gathering metaphorical dust on my computer for years. As a gift to my son, to my self, and to struggling or interested women, parents, and people out there, I have decided to wear my heart on my sleeve, and not hide behind the idea that “I’ll write a book about Finley one day”. Today is the day, and I start now. I appreciate your support. Lorraine C. Kraus

Return from India


I haven’t posted anything in my blog for almost 8 months. I just couldn’t. There were too many arrangements to be made, too many efforts that failed; there has been too much emotion and heartache to work through on a personal level, so the idea of writing about it and then sharing it felt like a burden on top of a burden.

And as I’ve written before, even Atlas shrugged.

At one point, maybe it was after the frozen embryos didn’t thaw well while I was in India or when the first, second, and third surrogate didn’t get pregnant in India, my husband told me he didn’t want anyone to know. He didn’t want us to have to live our disappointment out loud anymore.

While I have taken on a vocal stance about our struggles with fertility, not just so others don’t feel so alone but also so that I don’t feel so alone, and while this blog has created a community that has brought us incredible support, and even offers from one woman to be our surrogate and another to donate her own eggs, I needed to take a reprieve from sharing here.

Further, while writing can sometimes be cathartic, other times it is too painful.

And finally, I need to publish this story as a book eventually, so have to divide what I do write between being on here and being in another form and forum.

But for now, I would like to return to that week of when I returned from India…..

Ironically, my father was dying exactly where I had been hospitalized with my incompetent cervix in 2009.  He was in the same hospital where I had given birth, exactly.  He was in the same hospital where there had been that NICU, dimly lit from the peripheral vision of my right, as I was led (first time on a gurney and second and final time in a wheel chair) to the NICU Room, that had brighter lights than at a Pink Floyd show, where I held my infant son for the first and only time – 4 years earlier.

The same fucking hospital. And on the anniversaries of my son’s birth and death.

Sure, I was now in the cancer ward instead of maternity wing. (Interesting that the words that seemed natural for me to use were ‘ward’ – which has a sense of doom to it – and ‘wing’ – which denotes a light and airy feeling.)

I had been wheeled in and out of that exact same hospital from a different entrance than the one where I was now walking in and out of every day, including the day I got back from traveling from India; that Thanksgiving, when I took a cab home after over 30 hours of travel time, grabbed a 5 minute shower, and then raced to the hospital.

The same hospital. Directly across the street from my OBGYN who had brought my baby into the world, who every time I drove to for my annual Pap Smear for the 3 years since Finley’s death I swore I would change doctors, as the entire surroundings of where I would park or where that deli was or where the door was to where I was wheeled in and 2 weeks later out were landmines of traumatic memories.

I was in the same hospital where I was carted out from the maternity ward on a rainy Monday, empty handed, save for some sympathy orchids that some best friends had sent me and some miscellaneous stuff that Craig had brought to the hospital to make what turned into my 2-week stay comfortable (comfortable being a loose term, obviously), and the precious keepsake book that had Finley’s picture, foot prints, and some literature about what bereaved parents like us should do.

Those days – the 3rd and 4th of December, were sacred days, meant for me to feel the emotional tumult that inevitably poured out every year.  But this year I went to the hospital both days, what I know now was a true privilege, making sure the doctors never left the room before we had every answer they could give us; making sure my dad’s lips were not too crinkly from dehydration; playing him music; reciting him poems he’d written; holding his hands; praying.

The Friday after I got back from India my mom and sister and I were there, all 3 of us, together.  As the two of them left, my dad motioned for me to stay, even though there were nurses in the room, waiting to check his pulses and change his pillows.  This was unlike him; before this time, he would always interrupt any one of us in his family to learn what the staff needed to do; he seemed to respect their time, but something had shifted for him: perhaps he realized he had so little time left, and that it was indeed his to do with what he wanted.

“Do you have a name for your baby?” he asked me.  His blue eyes that I’d inherited as bright as they’d ever been.  “Yes,” I answered without a moment’s notice, “and one of them will start with an H.”  (In the Jewish religion, babies are not named after the deceased, but usually the first letter of someone’s name is used as a tribute, so to speak. Finley, in fact, was named for my grandfather Felix. My dad’s name was Herbert.)

He smiled, as it was the exact answer he’d wanted.  I told him our daughter’s name.  And then I told him our son’s name.  Those blue eyes and welled up and he smiled at me, with a gaze so strong I can visualize it now.  He nodded. “That’s beautiful.”

I couldn’t bear to tell him that we weren’t pregnant yet.  And further, that we hadn’t even been able to do the embryo transfer because our 2 embryos had thawed badly.

Two days later, that Sunday, now December 1st, he was having a rough day. They had wheeled him out of the hospital at the crack of dawn to go to Westwood UCLA, and then not been able to perform the procedure that they had planned to do, thus leaving the severe pain in his throat without any chance of relief.

He could no longer swallow and wasn’t allowed any fluids. He asked me that day to help him die.  He looked at me with the intensity you’d find in some old detective movie, where people plot and plan in closed quarters; wearing hats; smoking cigarettes.  “We’re smart. We can do this.  We’ve got to get me out of here.”  He remarked that in Oregon they have physician assisted dying.  “But we’re not in Oregon,” I remarked sadly – feeling defeated that I couldn’t help him; crushed that the conversation had turned so drastic; so inevitable.

There were some pictures of my nieces, his granddaughters, next to his phone, that my sister had brought.  “Do you want me to get some tape and put up these pictures?” I asked.  “NO.  NO, I don’t want to see their pictures. I don’t want to hear about India. I don’t want to hear about your baby.”  Then he stopped himself from this rant and turned to me, with tears in his eyes, “but I want you to know that baby is so important to me.  That baby is so important.  Your baby is going to be so important to everyone.”

FUCK.  Even as I type this I think of the look on his face, and how totally fucking awful it was to realize how much my dad already loved my future babies, his grandchildren, who he would never hold.

“Well you’re going to meet Finley when you go, you know.” I said.  “I don’t believe in that,” he responded.  “It doesn’t matter, Dad, because I know it to be true.”

We left it at that.

And then I returned December 2nd, and he was still lucid and he made funny jokes. That is the day they put him into hospice, the medical world’s way of throwing up their hands and saying there is nothing more to be done, but to make this man as “comfortable” as possible, as he dies.

So I was there that day. And the next, and the following.  To make sure that he was comfortable. To bring treats or a thank you to the staff.  To negotiate with the fucking idiotic hospice administrative lady who treated my father as if he was a file number in a fucking Amazon.com warehouse.

My eldest sister and I would trade shifts, often overlapping, always making sure we repeated every thing we’d heard to each other – perhaps thinking that in doing so we would solve this problem of our father dying – then to my mom, with one of us trying to keep our other sister in the loop.

All this without time to recover from jetlag, to honor Finley’s birthday and the anniversary of his death, and all of this with the devastating knowledge that I had no embryos left.

My father died, Friday, December 6th, 2013 – 4 years and 2 days after my own son had died, in the very same hospital.

I like to imagine that Finley’s soul returned to those same corridors, and led my father to peace.

And while it is now late July of the following year, and I have undergone 8 months of fertility related plotting, planning and failures, to get to the next step in our mission (which is imminent and gives me great hope), it seems like a good time to go back in time, so to speak, and pick up on December 3rd, 2009, the day that everything changed.

To be continued…

Chasing Butterflies with Finley in India Part 1: journal entry2


I’ve been back from India since Thanksgiving, but with everything that has happened, have been unable to complete this posting until now.  If the tenses change, forgive me, as much of it was written while there and then the rest once I got home….

Meeting the surrogate was surreal. I didn’t know what to expect, even though we’d already seen her picture. She was little, maybe 5″3’.  She was pretty, mostly because of her deep, wise, brown eyes.  She looked timid, like a deer caught in headlights, and sort of stared at me, the American woman gushing niceties to her, as she awaited the translation.

I wished her well and let her know we’d be praying for a pregnancy, and hoped that she felt well.

As she walked out of the room, at the polite dismissal of one of the many administrators at the Center, tears welled up in my eyes. The caring but not emotionally invested woman said, “It’s OK.  Lots of people cry.”  Little does she know I sometimes cry multiple times a day.  I explained that it wasn’t ‘just’ meeting the surrogate, whose name hadn’t etched into my memory, but the idea that this is the next step in my husband’s and my journey.

You see, it is one thing to apply for the process, prepare the paperwork, pay the fees at different stages in the process via wire transfer in a country that has what is called ‘slow pay’.

It took me sending 4 FedEx packages to the consulate in San Francisco because the paperwork confused me – even though I oversee million dollar estimates and contracts on a daily basis professionally.  I had 3 different sets of passport-size photos taken before I understood that I could not wear glasses and had to have my ear placed behind my ears.

I concocted a chart early on in the process to keep things organized, so that when I awoke (insomnia sure can come in handy) to return correspondence from the Center in India between 12 AM and 4 AM for many nights over many weeks – since they vary between 12.5 and 13.5 hours ahead of Los Angeles – I would be able to cross reference where we were in the process of our paperwork which entailed dozens of agreements to be approved; for the releasing and shipping embryos; for the surrogacy contract draft to be agreed upon; for recommendations on hotels; for 2 separate designated parties to agree to take care of the eventual baby/babies, in case something happened to us, and the list goes on and on and on.

It takes things to an entirely new level when being there, in India, and seeing the facilities and all of the women lining the halls on the benches who want to be surrogates or who are mid cycle and the Australian couple who without a beat’s hesitation got ‘it’ and the butterfly on the doctor’s desk, and EVERYthing…

And so the tears were earned, and I had nobody to comfort me.  While it was smart for Craig to stay in LA while I took this trip on my own, the intensity of all of this felt exponentially heightened because there I was, processing all of this, all by myself.

After this, all I wanted to do is crawl into a ball and cry, but of course food became the priority.  Even finding a place that I wanted to eat in this loud, over crowded, horn honking, poverty stricken but highly fascinating city was difficult, but my driver took me to an area called M Block – a nice semi-upscale area – and I searched and eventually found a restaurant who very fortunately understood the concept “to go”.

That night back at the hotel, only my second night in the city, I once again was comforted with Curb Your Enthusiasm DVDs, Skype calls with Craig (who had food poisoning or a touch of the flu) and Maybelline – and then eventually periods of sleep for about an hour at a time.

Tuesday was to be a huge sight seeing day, and now that I had accelerated my schedule with plans to leave at 3 AM Thursday instead of Friday, I intended to really maximize my time!

I had scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.  It took some arranging and waiting, but I washed that down with a luke warm Diet Coke.

Fueled by caffeine and lack of sleep and raw emotions that made me feel like naked, I headed off to the Red Fort, which is an architectural complex that was built hundreds of years ago.  My driver parked and in stilted English explained that I should have a rickshaw bicycle driver take me into this area of Old Delhi.

We chose one of many guys who approached the fan, who gave me a quote of 400 rupees, and so off we went.  He took me to the outside of the fort and we agreed to meet back there in a bit.  I entered on foot and was stared at by throngs of people. The uniformed school children seemed absolutely fascinated with me – and little boys would come up to me and say “HELLO!” while their friends would watch curiously. I would respond with a smile, “Hello.”  Girls looked at me and then whispered and then looked back and would whisper some more.

After walking through the Fort, which was the residence of a Mughal emporer, I returned to my rickshaw bicycle driver – thank G-d he shouted out to me through the crowds – and we continued on a journey. We went through the streets of Chanki Chowk, an area that is so congested that cars can’t drive here.  I giggled nervously as the bicyclist strongly pedaled and maneuvered, always keeping my left foot firmly placed as was suggested.

We went on to India’s largest mosque.  There were stairs to climb, at which point several people accosted me with what I must do to enter: Remove shoes and pay price for slippers.  Pay cost to enter.  Wear a praying ‘wrap’ or dress (even though I was pretty well covered already), of course for a cost.  I confirmed there was no separate cost to take pictures with my phone, though if I understood correctly, had I brought an actual camera, there would be a nominal fee.

Hard to feel spiritual after that sort of finagling, which kind of reminded me with the fees and merchandise in Vatican City, in retrospect, and on a way smaller scale, but I made my way into the mosque and watched how others were praying.  Many were kneeling in front of the walls, and others were touching the walls with their heads bowed in prayer.  Not much for kneeling, having been brought up half Jewish and told by my father early on not to, I opted to graze my hand upon the cool stone of the walls until I found a place to pray.  And quickly enough, I was connected to the moment, to myself, and stood in prayer at this wall, where hundreds of thousands of Indians and others (probably more) have prayed over the years.  I prayed for our babies to come.  I prayed for Finley’s well being. I prayed for my father’s health.

Then I took some pictures, got my tennis shoes back from the person (and then of course had to tip him even though I’d already paid his friend for the slippers), returned to my rickshaw, who brought me back to my driver – and off we went to continue our sight seeing.

Next we went to the zoo.  I paid for my driver to join me, and we found a little cart that likely could have fit 12 people – and negotiated that it would only be the driver of the cart, my driver and me – so that we could stop where we want and take the tour I had imagined.  We saw a lion, a giraffe, and some beautiful birds. I could not help but think of the tape I had watched with my father in his office days before I left, of his own trip to India several years ago, and the wild life journey he had taken on an elephant’s back into the jungle and the white tiger he had been so proud of seeing.

I had thought the zoo was a conservatory, which I suppose it was in some terms, but about half way through the 1-hour private tour, I saw an elephant that was bound with chains to his area.  Of course I understand that animals can’t run wild, but I guess I thought I was going to more of a ‘living desert’ type zoo, where the animals are all in their natural surroundings. I cut the tour short, and off we went to the Museum of Modern Art.

At the museum, there were no pictures allowed, and none of the paintings grabbed me as much as the saying on this one:
How can one perceive light without the shadow?
- painting by M Mamtani “Centrovision” 1980

I thought of all of the things I had experienced in order to get to this exact moment, in India, having met my surrogate the day before. I thought of the fact that the embryo transfer would be the next day.  How much pain and disappointment Craig and I had experienced on this journey, and how incredible the joy will eventually feel.  The painting spoke to me, as only art can, and showed me I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

And as exhausted as I was and as filthy as I felt from a day of down & dirty sight seeing, I told the driver that the final stop for the day would be the Baha’i Temple, The Lotus Temple, as that was recommended as a sunset visit.

We parked with seemingly hundreds of other people who were trying to get there on foot, via car, rickshaw, or who were coming out of the dozens of tour buses.  We walked for a while and then entered the gate, single-file, at which point I saw a plaque that described the religion of this temple. Here is the first half of what is on the plaque:

The Baha’i Faith recognizes the unity of God and of his prophets, upholds the principle of an unfettered search after truth, condemns all forms of superstition and prejudice, teaches that the fundamental purpose of religion is to promote concord and harmony, that it must go hand in hand with science, and that it constitutes the sole and ultimate basis of a peaceful, an ordered and progressive society.

I didn’t really know at that moment how exactly I believe in exactly that, but obviously my faith is combined with my reverence for science, and so I was very much, once again, exactly where I was supposed to be.

We took the long walk towards the lotus shaped temple.  There were so many people.  The driver dropped off our shoes – and nobody asked for a tip of any kind.  We continued on barefoot.  We made it up the stairs and I was mesmerized by the architecture.  A beautiful pond surrounded the bottom, but we kept our focus on getting into the temple, where everyone seemed to be heading.

Once outside first in Indian and then in English we were told to turn phones off, to not take any photos, and to not speak at all once inside.  A group exited, and we entered.

I looked up and all around and I don’t remember anything of the architecture or art, but I remember the feeling exactly.  It was calm.  Peaceful.  I felt a warm energy gush over me at the perfect temperature.  My driver sat in an aisle.  I sat in the aisle in front of him – took a deep breath, put my hands on the back of the aisle in front of me, looked up and closed my eyes.

I didn’t know at the time whether I had done this for 20 seconds or 10 minutes, before the most vivid image came to me.  It was me, standing with Craig, with our Finley, with our two little children (who we’ve yet to meet), and with our doctors, with our surrogate, our families, our friends, you, and what started as a small circle of just me, my husband, our son and our future babies, kept growing in a circular fashion. We were at the core, but this community of people from all over the world surrounded us, holding hands, keeping us safe; enveloped us.

I awoke or came to or completed the meditation or prayer or whatever it was, and there were tears streaming, no – gushing, down my face.   I rose and walked to the exit, at which point a young Indian man looked at me and said, “You’re crying!”  Not sad at all, I confirmed that yes, I was.

My driver joined me a few moments later and smiled at me, I suspect surprised at my wet face and likely radiant spirit.  It was an intoxicating experience, and I knew that out of everything I had seen so far, this was the one place I must return to when Craig and I returned next year.

Finally back at my hotel, I ordered their chicken curry.  It was surprisingly delicious – considering I thought I didn’t like curry.  I plotted out my next day, watched more Curb episodes, and waited to Skype with Craig.  I emailed my eldest sister reminding her to give me an update after that day’s chemo appointment.  It would be my father’s 2nd session and I had sent a list of questions for the doctor – who my Dad would be seeing prior to the chemo.

In the middle of the night – again, because of the 13.5 hour time difference, I connected with my sister, who explained that my father would not be able to have the chemo.  He was dehydrated, had lost more weight, and so they were hospitalizing him for a ‘re-charge’.  Nervous more than words can explain, and feeling so powerless as it was the first important appointment that I had not been at with him in these last seven weeks of appointments, I asked to speak with my Dad. He sounded weak and the conversation was short.  I did not sleep that night at all, in between giving Craig the news, checking in with my mother once she got home, and thinking about how scared my Dad must be.

The next morning sucked.  I was exhausted from lack of sleep and my emotions ran high, but I was committed to more sight seeing before I boarded another set of planes for 24+ hours of travel.  The driver picked me up and we went to Lodhi Gardens.  I walked around, enjoying the ancient architecture that appeared pretty randomly in this park, where there was a the lovely pond and lots of morning people doing their exercise.  I searched for the butterfly conservatory that I believed was there – but it turned out that the Internet posting about this conservatory, where butterflies were bred and caged, was years old.  I saw way too many stray and mangy looking dogs, and I made the mistake of using my ‘Maybelline voice’ on a group of dogs as I walked by, and one of them came towards me – as if he was going to attack.  How incredibly sad that the dogs there are not used to being acknowledged or treated with love by any humans that their first instinct is to attack.  It’s heart breaking.

After another round of chicken curry, a pretend nap at the hotel, and finishing up packing, the driver and I headed out to get me a henna tattoo, and then off to the Surrogacy Center to get my copy of the signed paperwork, which I would need to bring home, have Craig sign, and then immediately return to the Center.

I ran into my Australian couple friends at the Center, and wished them well.  I was told the doctor wanted to see me.  I assumed she would simply tell me how the donor’s lining was, and anticipated she might tell me that the 2nd embryo, the one that was Grade B, slightly deteriorated, may not have thawed well. I absolutely did not expect her and the embryologist to meet me, and tell me the following.

Neither of the embryos made the thawing process.  It was impossible to say what exactly had gone wrong, but there was no embryo to transfer.  No embryo to transfer into the surrogate meant no chances of pregnancy.  No embryo to transfer meant that I had to fly all the way back to Los Angeles with this info in mind.  No embryo to transfer and no husband to hold while crying.  No embryo to transfer which would mean that Finley’s birthday and anniversary of his death would come, and we would not be expecting good news, any news.  No embryo to transfer. Unfuckingbelievable.

And from there I had the driver take me to a park where I smoked a half clove half cigarette. It wasn’t strong enough to hurt my throat and distract me from the emotional pain.  And from there I had the driver take me to this stupid mall, as that was on my list of things to see / do.  It could not have been a more Americanized upscale mall. What the hell did I need to buy at Nike in India that I could not get 3 miles from home?  I saw a tattoo shop, and decided to get a real tattoo.  I had anticipated getting a tattoo while there (in fact had gotten a Hep B shot when I was getting the normal vaccinations just in case), but wasn’t sure until I saw this shop that I was going to do this, and what the image would be. Distraught, confused, exhausted, but committed to the memory of that visual meditation I had at the temple the day before, I had the artist create that image.  It hurt physically, which was a nice relief from the emotional pain and shock that I was experiencing.

I had the driver take me to the airport hours ahead of my 3 AM departure, as I wanted to get on Skype if possible and couldn’t fathom the thought of any more sight seeing. I sat there for about 6 hours, with my left wrist in crazy pain, as I wrote, listened to music, cried unabashedly, and waited for my flight.  I experienced Thanksgiving in 3 time zones, made it to Los Angeles, took a cab home, hugged Maybelline, took a shower, and drove to see my father in the hospital.

My nightmare was continuing, and it was escalating beyond my belief.

Chasing Butterflies with Finley in India Part 1: journal entry1


I am choosing to write the next couple of entries in a journal-like form….

After tearful goodbyes between Maybelline and myself, and a strong, great hug from my better (well maybe not better, but really, really good other) half Craig, I was left at the airport around 3:30 PM on Friday.

The moment after I entered the terminal, Craig called me to tell me that George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord” came on right as he pulled away.  For reasons I won’t explain now, it felt like a sign to both of us.

Security was easy.  Then there I was, attached to the outlet so that I could juice up my phone as much as possible, tracking a possible project lead, which turned into me referring other possible producer candidates, since I deemed I wasn’t the right fit for the job.

I spoke with Craig at least 4 times before my flight was to leave and texted a few times as well.

Once I was on the plane, and we were having our last call, I started crying into the phone to him.  A bad traveler anyway – coupled with the idea of missing my husband and doggie so much – layered with the desperate show of love that inspired this trip – heightened with my very ill father really, really put me over the edge.  ”You are doing this for us, for our family,” Craig reminded me.  ”And I’m doing this for our parents and all of our families and friends,” I added, stoic and determined to complete the mission that we have been unquestionably tasked with by the universe.

I watched “The Big Chill”, cause I am a glutton for sadness.  I took Valium and Melatonin to sleep, which brought me less than 3-hours worth.  I picked at some airplane food, ate a chocolate croissant, and then about 10-hours later de-boarded in London.

Tired, I mistakenly took the terminal bus to the wrong next terminal.  Then I got on a new bus, with an American kid who had also taken the wrong first bus.  He was apparently attempting to fly to De Gaulle.

Doctor visit - butterfly sign

– the only decorative item on the Indian doctor’s desk; a sign

Through customs I went, before I had hours in Heathrow’s Airport.  I Skyped with Craig a few times, which was great.  I read. I listened to music.  I mentally calculated what Duty Free Shops I may visit on my return.  And then after 6 hours, boarded the next flight.

British Airways has nicer airplanes than American’s.  A British guy sat next to me, and almost immediately we started chatting.  The thing is, I HATE chatting on airplanes, so after 30 minutes or so I really wanted to stop talking.  Somehow my very American transparent-like personality did not come through, because the chatting went on way longer than 30 minutes.  Sometimes I was at fault, like when I made what I deemed as a closing the conversation comment – which somehow was heard as a question requiring 10 more minutes of explanation from my new friend, Paul, plus the guy next to him, who had eves-dropped on the first half of the conversation before he joined on in.

Eventually we all  slept (perhaps I slept for 2 hours on this flight – in intermittent snippets), and then we landed, and there I was, in New Delhi, India.

It was 9:45 AM, 13.5 hours ahead of my home in Los Angeles.

First I went through customs.  I prayed that the Medical Visa that had been quite complicated to request and eventually receive – would be correctly received.  It was.

I exchanged $100 for Indian Rupees.  Did you know that the Indian government does not allow their currency to be sold in the US, at all?

Then I went to find my bag.  I hoped with desperation that my bag didn’t get lost, as wearing this particular black sweat outfit for any longer was not a good option.  And my bag arrived.

I found my way through the airport.  I saw a million young men holding signs for their fares.  A young man shook the cardboard that said LORRAINE KRAUS, and I smiled and waved like a lunatic.

He drove me to the hotel, and I looked around at the world around me.  Nobody drove in their lane.  I don’t even know if lanes are marked here.  People use horns 100 times more than they use them in a crowded place like Times Square, New York.  Maybe more.  The sides of the roads were littered with poor people in all ages.  At stop lights, young children selling junk would approach our window and tap vehemently 4, 5, 6 times before they acknowledged that I had waved my hand and said, “No.”

We arrived at the hotel, and I was shell shocked.  It was not as I’d imagined.  The foyer smelled of smoke.  The security guy was watching me so closely that he scared me more than anyone else there.  The all night cafe felt like it was straight out of a scene in that film Wes Anderson made about India.  And upon noting that, for a moment, I was comforted.

I went into my room to unpack and shower, and decide how much I could stay awake and what tourist sites I might see that late afternoon.  The WiFi was fast enough for me to quickly look up an alternate hotel, as I thought that might be more Westernized and more comfortable.  I debated whether I should unpack, as the smell of smoke in the hallway lingered in my nostrils and repulsed me.  (Ironically I have stated I would smoke a clove cigarette on this trip, for fun, even though I haven’t smoked in almost 7-years and the smell makes me gag.)  The shower was warm for 1 out of the 4 minutes, but I managed to scrub the travel grit away.

I knew I was going to change my flight to go home early within 3 hours of being at the hotel.  It wasn’t just the hotel, but the missing of those who hold my heart so dearly, and my mounting concern over my Dad, and also of course knowing that I’ll be back here sometime in 2014, to pick up our baby, so any attraction I don’t get to now I can get to, then.

I watched Curb Your Enthusiasm DVDs in bed and ate snacks I had brought.  Craig Skyped me at one point, and because of my settings, he was able to see me sleeping and say my name a couple of times before I awoke to seeing him.  He had just come home from Pearl Jam concert. I imagine I spoke in jet lagged jibberish, before telling him I needed to sleep more because the driver was coming back to get me in a few hours.

So while Craig went to sleep, I prepared for my first excursion in New Delhi, the same Sunday evening that I arrived.

I went to Raj Ghat.  All of the observers and those praying were required to have bare feet.  As the sun set and the incense burned, people gently chanted and prayed by the site where Gandhi’s ashes are kept.  I was the only person – upon going to the counter to retrieve the shoes I had voluntarily ( as required) dropped off before entering the sacred area who was asked for a fee for the service of entering.  Confused, and mildly annoyed, I gave them 30 Rupees, which is like .50 cents.  Everyone I walked by looked at me.  Little boys came up to me to ask me if I wanted my photo taken with their camera or my own.  I couldn’t help but think of the film “Slumdog Millionaire”, so I said, “No thank you!” to all and clutched my purse even tighter.

Then I went off to see the Gate of India, a central location that is a commemoration to those Indian soldiers who fought in World War 1. Beautiful flowers had been planted in the shape of India’s National Bird, the Peacock, which stands for happiness, in honor of an imminent anniversary. Throngs of people were there, celebrating the last moments of their Sunday, eating street food, cotton candy, looking at me, trying to sell me artwork or a henna tattoo.

On our (the driver’s and my) way back to the car we saw a Snake Charmer – who flicked his snake and kept motioning for me to get closer.  The photo I captured got me plenty close.  It felt like a gag and there was no fantastic sitar music playing, but it felt as the India I’d imagined.

I was driven to a Westernized market, where I bought water and cookies for the room, and was given some candy I didn’t want in lieu of them having the right, correct change.  Another American woman was in the store, who was buying a box-worth of necessities.  I wondered what she was doing there.  As I was being driven back to the hotel, I saw her lugging that box.  She is a different type of American than I, I thought, as the driver drove me to the front door of the hotel.

I had a night of intermittent sleep pleasantly interrupted with Skype chats, one with both husband and puppy – which warmed my heart.  I was very grateful for the Curb Your Enthusiasm DVDs I brought with me, as Larry David can make me laugh and also lull me to sleep.

Somewhere along the hours of the night or morning I called American Airlines and moved my flight up 1-full day, so that I will return on Thanksgiving.  This made me happy, so happy that I had bought that higher priced and changeable ticket.

I ordered America Breakfast on Monday for room service.  It came with orange juice (which upon looking at I chose not to drink as I feared they had added orange flavor to the undrinkable India water), scrambled eggs (which I ate with some suspicion), tea – which they forgot to send me, odd cornflake looking cereal with warm milk (which wasn’t quite the porridge I had thought I had ordered and so was left untouched), toast that came with jam, which I devoured without butter – for fear it didn’t have proper refrigeration.

I had another shower.  The water was piping hot.  I was warming up to this place.

After reading some more pages from the type of book in which a girl can escape without any great concentration (written by a friend from high school), and drinking a medium warm Diet Coke (I didn’t dare use the iced cubes), my driver came and we went off to explore the day.

We went to exchange money at Western Union, where conveniently they ‘forgot’ to give me 50 rupees (which is like .75 cents).  No matter; I caught the mistake and awaited those rupees.

Then I went to the Garden of 5 Senses.  There were a bunch of cows just sitting around in the parking lot. There were stray dogs everywhere I looked, some in heat, others obviously just having given birth to a litter; when I looked close enough, I saw sad eyes.  Perhaps it was my eyes mirrored in theirs?

The Garden of 5 Senses had a lily garden and fantastic trees and plants everywhere I looked and a random camel in the middle of the park and young lovers lurking in every corner.  I wasn’t permitted to take pictures inside, or I would have photographed this incredible art exhibit (so to speak) or dozens of baby boy figurines with their hands in prayer.  It was because my eyes followed a butterfly’s movement that I happened across this strange and surreal exhibit, an obvious sign from above, from the sweet spirit of Finley.

And now it was time to have my first meeting at The Surrogacy Center.  I had looked at the photos and taken the virtual tour, but nothing really prepared me for what I would next experience.

The Doctor was warm and welcoming and asked me to take a seat. She excused herself and I scanned the room, and saw one decorative item on her desk: a paper weight featuring a couple of beautiful butterflies.  Once again, Finley showing me his dedication to Craig’s and my purpose, and what a darling sense of humor he has.

The Doctor returned and took me with great detail through the process, both medically and administratively, including how the surrogates are chosen and cared for and what considerations are taken before the embryos are first thawed and then transferred. She gave me a tour and introduced me to the team of people with whom I’ve been communicating these past several weeks, in preparation for this incredible next step of using a surrogate, renting a womb, so to speak.

There were throngs of young women (not too young) lining the halls waiting to be screened or to get their pregnancy tests or check ups or have embryo transfers performed.

The Doctor and I spoke at length about the surrogates, and what motivates them to be the best vessels they can.  I questioned whether a 31-year old surrogate, which is the age of ours, is ideal, and she with great certainty explained how most Indian women get pregnant and have their two babies by the time they are 25.  Because my surrogate has already had her two children, and they are now 8 and 6 respectively, they can take care of themselves; she needn’t worry that they are not being perfectly cared for – by the family member who is watching over them (as they live with her and her husband) – during the G-D WILLING imminent pregnancy.

The requirements to be a surrogate include being married, having given birth vaginally successfully before, of course being tested for any diseases, and having a family member who can care for her child or children during her time as surrogate.

Our surrogate last gave birth 1-year ago, on behalf of a very lucky couple.

The Doctor said that when a surrogate does not get pregnant, she comes to the office and demands answers from the doctor as to what went wrong.  She wants to be pregnant with our baby as much as we want her to be pregnant with our baby.  The care she will be given is top class, but the money she is being paid will change the entire trajectory of her life. And looking around at the poverty and seeing some children have the privilege to go to school and most not, I see now what an incredible opportunity this is for a surrogate and her family, and that gives me peace and joy like nothing else.  (This peace and joy will obviously be exceeded when our child/children get here :)

The appointment over, it was time to do some shopping, so my driver took me to a fantastic store where I bought myself jewelry, art, and gathered some wonderful holiday gifts for those family members on our list. They were thrilled to have me there, and would push me with their sales tactics from the scarves area to the jewelry area to the art and beyond, in this one stop brilliant India special souvenir shop.

Then it was time to return to The Center again, this time to meet with the lawyer and the surrogate.

In the conference area, I resumed looking at the many thank you notes and pictures of babies that decorated the walls.  There were parents from America to Australia who bestowed their emotional gratitude to the Doctor and her staff, for bringing their baby or babies to them.  This, of course, made me happy.

An Australian couple entered the conference room, and immediately our conversation became intimate.  We talked about eggs and sperm and what they had gone through to get here, to India.  This is their second trip; they had to come to bring more supplies (which means eggs or sperm, in fertility speak).  They talked about the challenges in Australia for infertile couples, and told me they have been on this journey for 10-years.

As cathartic as it has been for me to be writing this blog for almost 1-year, the 15 minutes I spent with them talking about medical visas and pain and costs and hopes and dreams gave me the feeling of wearing comfortable pajamas and socks and being in front of the fireplace next to my husband with my puppy and a blanket in my lap.  By speaking to them, I knew I was home.

I met with the lawyer and signed the appropriate documents, and then it was time for me to meet our surrogate.

More on this, and other experiences in New Delhi, to follow…..

Chasing Butterflies with Finley in India, part 1


Today I am flying to London, where I will arrive during their Saturday, at which time I will get on another flight, that will take me to New Delhi, India, where I shall arrive Sunday morning.

A driver will await me. Having been warned by my mother that in order to anticipate India, I should imagine the most crowded place I’ve ever been, and then multiply it exponentially, and being that I’ve opted not to have my cell phone on while there, because Jesus Christ do I need to unplug right now and my phone carrier doesn’t service India – anyway, I told the person who arranged the driver to look for an overweight American woman, wearing all black sweat outfit, looking incredibly happy to be there.

I am not happy at this moment, as I am scared to leave home.  I hate leaving Craig.  We’ve always been super codependent, but after losing Finley, time and again the idea of being apart makes me have to remind myself to breathe.

And leaving Maybelline is going to be hideous, because having her in my life is the first joy and happiness I have felt since I was pregnant with Finley.  She is not just my puppy.  She is my best friend.  My little daughter.  My heart.  My baby.  My Maybe. (And so I am bringing a stuffed animal to hug at night instead of her.  Yes, seriously.)

I am also scared that my father will not be alive when I get back.  I have had the privilege of the most beautiful and important conversations with him these past several months, and while the doctor has given us no warning that things could happen that quickly, I am with him regularly, and just plain scared of the unthinkable.

But when I get to India, darn it, I will be the person I described for the driver to find. I will be happy, because we have our surrogate. We saw a picture of her just this morning.  She and several other women vied for the position of being our surrogate, but as of this morning, her uterine lining looked perfect for her to start her Progesterone medication, to prepare for the Transfer of our two beautiful, glorious, loved and wanted embryos – next Wednesday.  One is Grade A, the other one is Grade B, slightly deteriorated.  They were shipped from Encino to New Delhi, and will be thawed the morning of the transfer.  I pray that they thaw well!

I didn’t have some warm and fuzzy feeling when I saw our surrogate’s photo, but I know that once I am at the Surrogacy Center in India and I’ve met with the doctor and all of her associates with whom I’ve been emailing and speaking these past several weeks, and once I meet with the lawyer, and once I am surrounded by people whose business it is to make OTHER people parents, I imagine I will feel overwhelmed with gratitude.

I will also be conflicted. Not because I have not come to terms with this need; I am a producer for a living, and live in a solutions based world.  A goal has been set, and since directions A, B and C (1 through 13) didn’t work, it is time to move on to direction D, so to speak.

I had the intimate experience of knowing Finley while he was growing inside of me, and it almost makes him EVEN more special that he will have been the only son to whom I gave birth, before his life was ripped from our clutching hands.

I will be conflicted because the same day that I will be meeting the doctor and the associates and touring the clinic and (likely) meeting my surrogate, is the same day 4-years ago that I was hospitalized ‘to term’.  I was 23.5 weeks pregnant, with clothes on my bed at home strewn and waiting to be packed away for our next day’s trip to Florida for Thanksgiving to visit Craig’s Dad and Stepmom, and within the simple sentence uttered by my Israeli gynecologist, “You’re not going anywhere”, mine and my husband’s entire lives shifted.

And the days prior to that, including today, 4 years ago exactly (the Friday before Thanksgiving that is), when I was keeled over with what I thought were Braxton Hicks cramps (which they weren’t), preparing menu ideas for the celebration dinner for my best friend who was in remission for cancer (who died 15 months later), have actual sound design to them:  Tick.  Tock. Tick.  Tock.  My heart beats in tune with the sadness that comes over me when I think about what was about to happen, and how that all felt.

But it is 4-years later.  I’ve accepted Finley’s death.  I’ve no fault in the death of our infant son.  I did everything I could then, and have honored him since, by talking about him, and by acknowledging the hurt that I have experienced.

I see people on Facebook comment on the lack of quiet time they get because of their children.  Others post articles about how their social lives have changed.  Or that they don’t get to sleep more than 2-hours at a time.

And it is not envy I feel, but a conclusive feeling that they will never, ever get how lucky they are.  They will never understand what it is like to have aching arms, a hole in their hearts, and be climbing uphill on a marathon for every single day, for almost 4 years.

Are they lucky?  Well, yeah, of course, but I have to believe that the journey that I am on with the best husband I could imagine and the most loving community I could hope for is going to bring us the riches we deserve.

I have finished packing.  The framed photo of Finley is safely tucked away, so that I can light up his beautiful face every night with the candles I have brought.  I am wearing 4 pieces of jewelry only, including the necklace that states Finley.

And now I am off, with my husband’s support and blessings, to go chase butterflies with Finley, in India.


Thank you for wishing us well.



I’ve been monitoring my period every single month since the middle of 2008 – save for my shortened pregnancy with the tragic outcome, which was so complicated and riddled with issues that I feared it coming pretty regularly – which makes it coming early this month and me having no next steps that rely on my body make me feel very powerless.

I mean, I’ve always been powerless over trying to get pregnant; that much I’ve learned by now:  Reading spiritual meditations daily didn’t effect the outcome.  Taking my extraordinarily strong and expensive medications perfectly and always arriving at my doctor’s office on time didn’t do it. My constant dialogue, prayers, pleading with G-d hasn’t brought our next child here.  Becoming as educated on my body’s reproductive system as a fertility specialist or the herbs or the acupuncture or the healing sessions or the special combination of vitamins with the fancy and special pre natal vitamins and the rituals and the food cleanses or the multiple uterine scrapings or the hysteroscopy, or the entire combination of the above, has not introduced us physically to our next child or children.

And yet I know our daughter and / or son is coming.

And my daily schedule that monitors which day of my cycle it is no longer dictates my next appointment, but it still brings us one day closer to becoming parents again.

Sometimes I think people must think I’m crazy to be as confident and determined as I am to keep going.  I know so many people that gave up along the way, or switched gears, and after 13 IVFs, roughly 13 embryo transfers, innumerable IUIs, and trying naturally multiple times at the right time every month since 2008 – again, save for my pregnancy, I have stopped pretending that my body can carry a pregnancy.

For the roughly 11-days that I wait in between an embryo transfer and a pregnancy test, I can barely breathe.  I am scared that putting a spoon in the dishwasher or picking up my puppy Maybelline’s toys or leaning over to put on shoes will result in miscarrying the pretend pregnancy, the pregnancy that will fulfill mine and my husband’s dreams and what I perceive as our purpose; of being parents to Finley’s brother or sister (or both).

So after the last failure, which was confirmed on September 30th, and subsequent to the last conversation with my doctor, October 3rd, and after my last blog post, I went into producing mode – and we now have a solution as to how our baby or babies will get to us.  I know it will work; will it be the first transfer into a SURROGATE late this month?  Will it be a 2nd or 3rd embryo transfer next year?  No matter: I have released the burden, the huge, painful, disappointing, and serious burden of carrying a pregnancy – from myself.

Now, to be fair, I didn’t actually have a choice as to whether I’d carry a pregnancy.  I haven’t gotten pregnant since my miscarriage (the chemical pregnancy) in late 2010.  But what I realize is that the waiting period of those 11 days that I hope and pray without pause that this time it works is an indication of how stressful the pregnancy, had it happened, would have been: I already know that I would file for disability around week 10 and get a handicap placard so I didn’t have to walk far, that I would get a Cervical cerclage and have the best high risk specialist in town sew that incompetent cervix of mine up around week 12, after we’d confirmed that the baby or babies were genetically healthy, that I would not be able to do my job – my highly stressful mentally, emotionally, and often even physically exerting job that sometimes includes travel or chasing people down at any given location – and that my pregnancy would be high risk, therefore putting me on some form of bed rest early on.

I already know how hard it is for me not to put the wash into the dryer during that 11-day waiting period, because I am compulsive and always like stuff done the way I want when I want.

So it has come as a huge relief to ACCEPT that I can not get pregnant again, that my body is not to be the vessel that brings our baby into the world, AND that there is a less expensive (though still more tens of thousands of dollars) option that really embraces some perfect qualities – even more so than an American surrogate.

(I’ll update you with that information soon.)

And with all that written, the truth is, I am mourning the fact that I will not be pregnant again. That I will not develop a relationship with my next child the way I did with Finley – since I knew him so well as he grew from a being the size of a bean to a very small baby, who loved John Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels”; craved bagels and cream cheese; typically rested low, at the bottom of my uterus; was a tremendous kicker (as evidenced by the movie taken at my first amniocentesis); whose spirit was so incredibly strong that our relationship has grown significantly, even though he is dead.

I am mourning the fact that I will never breast feed; that I will never be pregnant, surrounded by loving friends and family at a baby shower where our baby is celebrated.  (Separately, praying that my friends plan a baby shower for after we bring our baby back, G-d willing, in 2014!).

I am left feeling barren. Which I am.  And it is a feeling that disconnects me from G-d.  I trust the universe, and feel nature propelling me forward, but I won’t read any of the morning meditations I used to read; I won’t praise G-d – not because I don’t believe in him anymore, because I still do actually pray to him – but because he’s a total jerk for having my husband and me tackle another significant hurdle before giving us the blessing we know is coming.

On my daily calendar on my phone, I used to have every single day of my cycle.  It would state:  Day — (– day cycle)

And every day after I would complete taking all of my pills – the 6 Pre Natal pills which had to be refrigerated and taken 2 at a time, at meals – plus the CoQ10, the 2 DHEA, the Folic Acid, the Calcium, the Baby Aspirin – that I had arranged in a bag that I would dig into every morning and evening – before I would change the number of the ‘day’ and move this ‘appointment’ on my calendar onto the next day.

This appointment, so to speak, would remind me if I should be starting my ovulation tests, or if I should prepare for my period, if it was time to start thinking of taking a pregnancy test, when to schedule my next doctor’s appointment, etc.

Now I have it listed just so I know when my period is coming, since I I can’t bear to remove this entirely from my schedule – though I have removed it as a daily appointment, since I can’t bear to think about what this has meant to me since we began trying and I began monitoring my cycle, in the middle of 2008.

I have an extra $100 bottle of Pre Natal pills in our cupboard. I will keep them there – you know, in case….

That time of year is upon me, where I begin the countdown to the day I was hospitalized, before everything changed, before I went into labor December 3rd, 2009.  The air, the color of the leaves, the long sleeves I wear, and my heart tell me this; I don’t even need a calendar.

And my father is sick, very, very sick, and I am overwhelmed with a sense of responsibility to help him through this time, because it is a privilege to help someone.

But it is an emotional teeter totter I am on: On one side I know that I owe Finley, you, and myself the part of the story that happened on and after December 3rd, 2009 – how I reacted, what it was like, who held me up and who let me down.  I must prepare for December 3rd and 4th, and decide how I will honor him this year, the year that marks the 4th anniversary of his birth and subsequent death.

Close to that highly emotional side, I am my father’s medical advocate, the one person he relies on to be the voice and his mind during his many doctor’s appointments – which is time consuming and very exhausting.  But I am the only one who is capable of that, and so I must continue.

And on the other side, I have cause for real celebration: my husband and I have a solution to the fact that I can not get pregnant, and we are very fortunate that we can afford this solution – of me traveling to another country (!) to hire a surrogate whose generosity of her time and body will help the trajectory of our lives, and whose compensation will help the trajectory of hers.

I cannot remember being this emotionally conflicted, ever, and yet I am calm, because I know that there is nothing more to do than what I can do, which is put one foot in front of the other, and stay the course.

I can’t wait to tell you where our embryos already are and where I am going to meet my surrogate… over Thanksgiving!  Clue: it is a spiritual mecca and was on my bucket list!  Next post – coming soon.

Thanks as always for taking the time to read, for your prayers, and for your continued support!



I did a 3 day cleanse prior to transfer to release any toxins from any chocolate or soda or processed food.

I saw my spiritual healer on the morning of the transfer, following days of curating medical appointments and conversations and emails for my 83-year old father, who is sick – so that I could release stress and responsibility for others who were relying on me so heavily and focus only on myself.

I entered the frozen embryo transfer appointment at roughly 11 am, already having taken the 2 ibuprofen to counteract cramping and the 1.5 valium to relax all muscles, to meet with Dr. V – and find out that the grade A blastocyst (perfect when frozen at day 5) had thawed at 90%, which is great (the highest they’ll ever give for thawing is 95%), and that the 2nd, previously a very early blastocyst, had actually upon thawing immediately grown into a blastocyst quality A – with a 95% survival.  Craig and I were joyful, and full of hope.

Dr V. expertly placed both embryos past the curve of my uterus, and away from the Adenomyosis – the muscle that as of now, wasn’t flexing.  He recited his prayer in Hebrew as he held my hand and I held Craig’s.

I was only told to stay on bedrest for 1 day, since it was already a 5-day transfer, but I stayed in bed an extra day and cancelled plans with my girlfriends for Mastro’s.

I ate pineapple, which is supposed to help embryos stick.

I prayed.  Endlessly.  I have literally created a meditation that centers on me connecting with G-d and our future babies, or talking to Finley and repeatedly releasing that grief to the universe, since I understand now that he could not stay; that he was only meant to come for that short time – which has taught me a lifetime of love and lessons.

I listened to positive music – like Barbra Streisand or George Harrison.

I did not pick up Maybelline once, per doctor’s instructions even though holding her is one of my favorite things to do and is one of the very few ways I feel actually happy.

I ate healthy, making morning smoothies and juices with beets or a day’s worth of greens every day.

I took my estradiol, methylprednisolone, baby aspirin, folic acid, calcium, CoQ10, and pre natals as instructed.

Every night Craig would find a new place to shoot me with 2 CCs of oil based progesterone in my butt – which turned lumpy because of the oil and bruised because of the puncturing of the needles.

I worked very few non-stressful hours on a light project I am doing.  I kept my family at arm’s length, being there for them, visiting my father multiple times, but making sure to protect myself with deep breaths and an invisible shield I imagined that would protect me from over extending myself.

Every night I drank a wellness pregnancy tea, and did not over eat Lindt chocolate or graham crackers, or anything else.

I did not wear perfume starting from the morning of my transfer, as scented lotions and perfumes are thought to be bad for the embryos.

I didn’t sleep well at night, nothing new really, but always but was able to make up for that with daytime movie or TV naps with Maybelline.

And still, on Sunday morning at 2 AM when I awoke – I took the Home Pregnant Test and it read: Not Pregnant.  It might as well have been in all caps, with a shrill sound attached that screamed YOU ARE A FAILURE.

I awoke Craig teary eyed, but we both agreed that I could have taken it too early, and I should take one again a bit later in the day.  By the time the real morning had struck, he and I agreed to wait to test again until Monday morning, which was the day I was to have my blood drawn which would offer a conclusive answer.

In the meantime, I scoured the internet for sites with strings of women who had transferred this quality embryo and succeeded, even when after they’d received negative results on the pee stick.  Inevitably I came across internet threads of other women who had received negative results on the stick, followed by negative blood.

I awoke Monday and took a test.  Once again, NOT PREGNANT appeared on that fucking digital stick.

Instead of commuting almost 2 hours to Tarzana to simply have my blood drawn, I had pre arranged having it done nearby.  Some guy in the lab was screaming at a technician, and I sat there, un-phased; numb; listless – I suppose – as I already instinctually knew that the blood test would confirm what the Home Test had indicated.

I called the doctor’s office around 4 to find out the status of the test, and was told that a nurse would call me back within 30 minutes.  I liked the idea of that, because every single time I had received a negative result, a doctor had called me.

Unfortunately, the receptionist had simply miscommunicated, because a bit after 5 PM, Dr. K called me – with the same exact cadence in his voice as I had heard too many times.  “Lorraine….”  And it doesn’t matter what else he said, because he should have simply been speechless, as I was.

It’s nearly impossible to explain how it feels, to fail at something that is based upon such a pure desire.  My husband and I want a child to love.  We don’t want a bigger home.  We don’t care about fancy cars.  We just want a child on whom to lavish the love that lives in our hearts, in our souls, for which our beings actually yearn.

So I am left to wonder:  Did leaning over and cleaning up after Maybelline stop the embryos from sticking?  Are the baby or babies not ready to come?  Am I being punished for something from a different lifetime?  Are there more lessons to learn?  Should I have slept on a different side? Stayed in bed even longer after the transfer?  Did any of the stress I have tried so hard not to own from my father’s illness seep into my protective lair and cause this?  Did G-d not want us to have children? Does G-d even exist?

I have 2 embryos left.  One is grade A.  One is grade B, with slight deterioration.  We spoke with Dr. V today, and talked about doing another hysteroscopy inside my uterus, and about adding a couple of different medications for the next round – not because they are needed, per se, but out of a pure form of desperation.  Dr. V will waive the costs for the next transfer, which is a very gracious courtesy.  (Of course there will still be lab and medication costs, plus out of pocket surgery costs.)

And we said that if that doesn’t work, that I have to think of a surrogate.  Do you know how much a surrogate costs?  Somewhere in the $80k range.  And we’ve already spent $45k this year.  The thing is, if we get a surrogate, then an enormous amount of stress is removed from me, and I would be able to work throughout that time. Because as of now, once I do (or at this point, IF I ever do) get a positive pregnancy result, the pregnancy will be so incredibly high risk, because of my cervix and now because of my increasing age.  So I am not against a surrogate.  (I would welcome suggestions, as a matter of fact, if you know anyone who would be a great candidate for me.)

I am already mourning and dreading the holidays that are now coming upon us, starting with Thanksgiving, that holiday during which I was hospitalized with Finley in 2009.

I am wondering if by not having written completely about what exactly happened on and after the morning I went into labor if I have not released my grief entirely, yet.  I will rectify that, when I can stomach the pain I must endure to recount those excruciating details.

I made an appointment with a Korean doctor on Saturday. I don’t even know his name, but while I wait to have a hysteroscopy sometime next week, I may as well see if any new herbs can do anything.  A $50 appointment is certainly easier to stomach than an $80k surrogacy.

A lot of you have reached out to me personally, on Facebook, through my blog, and I want you to know that I am beyond touched with the generosity of your spirit and prayers.

I remain in purgatory now, but will just keep walking in the right direction, until I find hope again.

My Mission, continued


I’ve just re-read the last post from over 3 months ago, for the first time in 3 months, and now I’m writing through tears.

I get in this Lorraine-mode after a failure – or a set-back – or a “no, not now” note from the universe, in which I have complete tunnel vision. I will do right what is in front of me for as long as necessary, before I then release my shoulders, circle my head, breathe in deeply, and become centered in the fact that this next time it will work.

When I saw the two doctors back in June, they concurred that there MAY be Adenomysis, a condition characterized by the presence of ectopic glandular tissue found in muscle.  Maybe this “muscle” is somehow connected by a thin thread to my Cesarean scar, that could cause a pulling – which then may expel any embryos, thereby negating the chance of pregnancy.

It’s possible that this has nothing to do with the failures.  But maybe this is the reason – and in order to combat this, I was prescribed 1-shot of Lupron in a 3-month dosage to my butt – that cost $1,000 – to be taken immediately.  I was to come back and see them in 2-months, to see if this possible muscle tissue had gotten smaller.

The goal of this $1,000 magical shot was to force me into early menopause, so likely my period would not come for months.

This Adenomysis is found together with endometriosis – which it is confirmed I do have a severe case of outside of my uterus – thus making natural pregnancy like an impossible pinball game for any sperm trying to reach my ovulated egg – in 10% of cases.

I’ve always tried to be in the top 10%, but not when it comes to road blocks on the way to my dream, which I have re-phrased as my mission.

But there I was, with that $1,000 shot, hoping to G-d that Craig and I had mixed it up properly, as he was ready to shoot me in the ass with it.  I didn’t even bother closing the French doors that look out on our patio and onto the shared courtyard of our town house building.

Real life is not for the weak, and I will not be bothered with anyone’s prudish or naïve denial that every now and then, a girl needs a shot in the ass.

I had 2 months and 1 day before my next scheduled visit, and it would be a few weeks after that (ostensibly) before we could put our beautiful embryos in, so I chose to use my time wisely:

I was offered a gig to produce a handful of cute TV spots for an agency for which I hadn’t worked. I was thrilled to embark on a light comedy campaign that was so much less stress than my other projects, as it has gotten to the point that if I’m not working on the most famous brand with one of the most famous celebrities, a project looks easy to me.  Of course I was wrong, it wasn’t easy – but it was well within my wheel house to then take another meeting at a separate agency – where they asked me to help out on a couple of TV spots for them.  The 2nd agency’s work was a different set of demanding; sure there were celebrities – and I’m used to that, but this project introduced a new set of dysfunction, somewhat reminiscent of other projects, that felt familiar and like a challenge and something that I could really sink my teeth into – as I collected 2 day rates each day that I worked on both projects for sometimes 20 hours a day – and contributed towards the nest egg that gives me the comfort that Craig and I can stay on our mission.

I planned it perfectly, so that while my work was done on 1, the other was in final stages.  I met some new people who are smart and that I respect a lot.  I met a couple of other people who should be better at their jobs, or much less confident.  So, nothing new on the work front – and on August 19th, which happens to be my husband’s birthday – I headed 15 miles over the hill to Tarzana, to consult with Dr. V and Dr. K, and see if this muscle had deteriorated at all.

It was hard to say for sure, but perhaps the uterine lining was more clear, and my period still had not come – it had been 67 days since the first day of my last cycle, which made me confident that the drug WAS working! – so I was prescribed birth control for 2 weeks, to invite my period to come, at which point we would prepare my lovely, accepting, nurturing, perfect uterus – my future baby or babies home – for their arrival.

In this time period my middle sister got married, an event which had been on the schedule for half a year, and one that I was confident I would not be able to attend, as it was out of town, and of course I was supposed to be pregnant by early September.  It was a devastating realization that I was not going to be pregnant by then – I mean, I had already passed my birthday in August and nothing screams louder than that ticking clock than the passing of a calendar year of my life – but once I accepted it, I made plans to go.

I spent quality time with my family.  I was able to be of service to both of my parents, both of whom are struggling with different health issues, and be a great daughter.  But fucking A, when I dropped my parents off that evening – after a round of brilliant (insert sarcasm font here) back seat driving from my father for the 36th hour – before parking the car further down, in an area which would have been too hard for mother to walk from – I lost it.

I cried for the fact that my father and I had spent time on the Puget Sound that morning, just him and me, talking about life and his health.  I cried for the fact that I missed my little Maybelline, as she even without arms gives the best hugs I know, and this was the longest I’d been without her.  I cried because one of my family members picked a fight with me with the wedding, due to her incredible insensitivity  – really ignorance – to the hurt of my struggle with fertility.

Did you ever see that movie “Clerks”, when a guy covers a shift for his friend at a convenience store and someone dies and there is a crime and just one bad thing after the other happens, and the guy who is covering the shift keeps saying “I’m not supposed to even be here!”

I cried because I was NOT supposed to be at this wedding; in my parallel universe I believed I was holding my baby and making sure he or she got what she needed.  In reality, I was at an airport hotel in Seattle, Washington, not pregnant, on my last day of birth control, waiting for my period now to come; looking forward to flying home the next morning to my Craig and Maybelline; I cried because I was longing for my ship to come in.

I get emotionally tricked every time I return home, into thinking that my baby Finley will meet me there. It is something that happens whether I am gone for 2 days or 3 weeks, when I am without Craig, and that was enough to have tears gushing down my face during that 2+ hour flight back to LA, where Maybelline and Craig picked me up from the airport.

My period came later that week, exactly on schedule; it had been 82 days since I received my period, and I was thrilled to have it.  I made the appointment to see Dr. V, and we began all of the appropriate medications to make sure that my uterus had thick, gorgeous lining, and that my body was ready to accept the embryos.

I did a 3-day cleanse prior to the procedure; I am not stupid enough to think that I can lose the weight of 3.5 years of fertility medication and grief or stress eating in 3-days, but I want to make sure that any soda or chocolate toxins are out of my system, so that my blood is flowing beautifully to my uterus.

I opted not to have my acupuncturist the days before the transfer or even on the transfer; the idea of seeing him again and repeating that part of the same action brings more trauma to me than it does relax me; it is an association that I have with writing the check, having the same conversation that THIS is it, carving time out in my day to relax, breathe – that in fact makes me un-relaxed – that made me decide not to work with him this time.  I asked my doctor if he was OK with it, and he said the last thing we need is to increase my stress – so if I don’t want to do acupuncture, I should not.  (Statistically, embryo transfers have shown success rates with acupuncture, but since mine have not, I will stick to my instincts.)

I have my morning perfectly planned out:  After I fall asleep again (it now being 3:30 AM), I shall awake and play with, feed, and walk our puppy.  I shall see my spiritual healer at 8:45 AM – a woman who moved things around in her schedule to allow that I see her, and be as relaxed and at peace as possible before the procedure.

I will get a green smoothie, meet Craig at home, drop Maybelline off at daycare, and head to our appointment.  I will take the ibuprofen as prescribed, and a little higher dosage of the valium so as to increase my body’s relaxed mode – and I will meet Dr. V at Assisted Reproductive Technologies – where my husband, my uterus and I will meet our beautiful 2 embryos.

We have names for our twins already.  We speak to them regularly. I know the girl very well, the boy I am getting to know better.  They are already loved and incredibly wanted.  Really makes you think about when life begins, right?

I think this is transfer number 12 – but as I live in my world of purgatory of 14 IVFs, innumerable AI attempts, some cancelled IVF cycles, and trying to get pregnant again after the loss of my infant in December 2009 – every single month since that fateful day, I can’t be sure.  (Well I could go through my copious notes and calendars, but being that I haven’t written a blog posting for a couple of months, figured it best to do a little free form thoughts on this next procedure and everything building up to it.)

To you incredible people who have followed along, shared your stories with me, been my cheerleaders and friends, offered your prayers and sent your positive energy – keep up the good work.

My mission is to become a mother again, to a child that I can raise with my husband, with love as the foundation – guided by dance parties and sing-alongs and exposure to art and teaching them right from wrong and hugs & kisses smothering sessions and an introduction to nature and travel and compassion for humanity.  And this mission is my reason for existing, and so I shall take another step towards it, right now.

Bad News: IVF #14


– best embryo quality possible after 5 days in the lab

It’s gotten to the point that when I get bad news I tell myself to wake up.  Even though I am beyond accustomed to seeing the words “Not Pregnant” on those cruel and annoying urine tests, I am so confident and steadfast that Craig and I are to be parents again, that it shocks me and I need to shake my head to see if I can snap out of this recurring nightmare.

We had a 70% chance of our latest efforts working. All signs pointed to success along the way.

We had placed 2 of the best embryos ever inside my uterus (picture shown of one of them), both of which had made it to day 5, the magical day by which many embryos have died, deteriorated, or shown fragmentation.

Statistics were on our side.

A psychic who read my Tarot cards at a work party said she was 90% sure that I would become pregnant in June.

My spiritual healer said she felt a strong female presence.

I had pinching sensations in my uterus, an indicator that an embryo is attaching.  (I chose to ignore the fact that this same feeling could mean early miscarriage or signs of my period coming.)

I felt calm and peaceful and confident in our success.

But then on Sunday I took the test, and it said Not Pregnant. I had just chugged a huge amount of water, so I simply decided that the results were not accurate.  I was sad not to be elated with good news, the emotion I’ve been anticipating for.ever. But I was not defeated.

I didn’t feel any responsibility; like, I didn’t question whether I had done everything that was in my control right.  I knew I had done everything I could that was within my control, again, right.  I was confused and startled and deeply, deeply sad.

I drove to the doctor’s office with my little puppy Maybelline riding shotgun.  Maybelline, a puppy that has created so much joy in Craig’s and my life that I can’t even put it into words.  Thank G-d for Maybelline, as without her sitting next to me, with her turquoise little harness, on her green car blanket, with her beautifully deep and brown little eyes and her mushy forehead with the most beautiful Beagle-like brown and beige and black lines you’ve ever seen, it would have been a total deja vu.  Without her, I would have once again been driving on 3 freeways in rush hour Los Angeles traffic to have my skin punctured, my blood drawn, only to have the bad news from that pee stick confirmed.

With her, it didn’t exactly repeat everything I’ve experienced in the past; with her; I have proven what a wonderful mommy I am to her and will be to my next living child; with her and because of her, Craig and I have both been able to give and receive love that we have been aching to give to another for so very long.

It ain’t the same, but it helps.

Lily, the receptionist, took me back and started giving me instructions to go to the bathroom to provide a urine sample. I looked at her with Maybelline in my arms and even through my sunglasses she could see my eyes brimming up with tears.  I shook my head, “No, just need blood taken.”  We made our way to the nurses’ station, where both nurses looked at me, and I shook my head, sad, defeated, forlorn, confused; defeated.

I asked Giselle how often she has seen negative urine tests and positive blood. “Not often, but it can happen. Some women never register in their urine.  Maybe 20%?”  I liked that statistic, and remembered that my friend Lisa had gotten negative urine test and yet been pregnant with twins, only proven by her blood test.  As she took my blood, I went through other facts, knowing both times I’ve been pregnant, the urine test registered the day before.

The female doctor poked her head in, hearing me cry, and the words I spoke to Giselle.  She shook her head sadly; she was speechless.

Maybelline and I headed out, and the woman at the front desk said she needed to collect the $20, the fee for the blood being drawn.  I shook my head definitively, “No, the doctor has waived those costs.

I called my mother on the way home.  She, who is going through her own health issues right now, heard the fear or sadness in my voice immediately; I’m stoic when I have to be, which is more often than I’d prefer, being that I’ve had to go from appointments to procedures to bad news to work way more often than is fair or reasonable; when given the opportunity to just be, well, me, I take it.  I told her the probability of bad news, and I could hear the sadness in her voice.  “I just don’t understand it,” she said.  “You were so confident this time. I know how much you want a baby, and I just want what you want.”

Hearing those words was as good as a hug, and so I held on tight.

I still hadn’t gotten the blood test results that afternoon by 4, so I called the office.  The lab test results were running behind, I was told, so I hung up the phone, prepared to take a valium any minute, and waited.

Dr. K called about 30 minutes later.  I recognized his voice immediately.  “Oh Lorraine, I’m sorry to let you know that the blood results confirmed your urine results.”  Tears welled, and I began sobbing.  “Why?” was the theme behind the barrage of questions I asked.  There were no real answers.  He told me that I’d earned a couple of glasses of wine.  Unfortunately, a recovering alcoholic, that was not a real option

So I popped a valium (non habit forming or mind altering).  And then another half of a valium. And then took a shower in which I cried as I clutched the wall of the shower.  I tried to wake myself up from the nightmare.  No luck.

I climbed back into bed and brought Maybelline up there with me.  It was only the second time she’d been allowed into our bed, the first time being the night before, after I’d gotten those results.  (I maintain that it is important that she is allowed on the bed not because she was crying, but because I was.)

I wrote on Facebook that God and the Universe should get a fucking hearing aid.  I didn’t need to write anymore than that, for a dozen people to send loving messages my way.  I was at the point when I need only allude to bad news for people to know exactly what had happened.

I got a note from a woman I know who had also struggled with fertility, who now has a son who is more than one-year old, who asked me if I’d ever had the NK assay test. I told her I couldn’t remember. She told me I’d likely remember, since it was such an expensive test.  I told her that wasn’t necessarily the reason I’d remember; I’d been poked and prodded and pricked so many times, and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by this point, that a test that she intonated was expensive was just another blip on the map of my living purgatory.

I called Giselle and I asked her if I’d had that test. She confirmed that yes, I had; it was the killer blood test, that assured us that once embryos were implanted I had no killer blood cells that were attacking the embryos thereby reducing their chance at survival.

I told Giselle the following:  I want you to tell Dr. V to scour my records.  All of them.  And then he should call me and let me know if there is anything else we should do, anything we’ve missed; whether we should go ahead and transfer the next 2 immediately, or if there is something else we should try first.

(We currently have 4 cryopreserved (frozen) embryos in the state of the art laboratory in Tarzana.  There are 2 A quality embryos, and 2 a little less than A but still great quality embryos.)

I expected Dr. V to call me on Thursday and tell me that I was just unlucky, again; that I had merely fallen in the 30% and that we should go ahead.  He called; I could hear the devastation in his voice.  He told me that he and his two associates, Dr. K and the female Dr. W, had sat in his office for over an hour and scoured my files.  My file, by the way, is without question among the thickest there is in the world of fertility struggles.  A forest of paper comprises the details of the now 14 IVFs and the innumerable Artificial Inseminations that have all followed the death of my beloved little spirit son, Finley.

He started talking about the shape of my uterus, something we had taken for granted was sort of unusually shaped, he thought, because of the C-section I had in ’09; because Finley was so scared after my water had broken, he climbed up the top part of my uterus; since the moment I could really feel him inside me, he was hanging out and living down low, by my cervix, but on that day – on December 3rd, 2009, he climbed up and tried to latch on to me as tightly as he could, as the water left the sac, thereby making him unsafe.  So when they did the C-section, they had to cut up higher than they do in traditional C-sections that happen at term.  This had caused a scar, which of course all C-sections cause, which in turn Dr. V had thought had made the shape of my uterus different.

But now he was uttering a different thought; was it possible that below my uterus there was a fibroid or some endometriosis that was protruding up, causing this shift in shape, and prohibiting the embryos from attaching?

I almost threw up, nauseous and disgusted and frightened at the idea that we have had all of these failed IVFs because of something that could maybe be dealt with via a surgery or a few months of medication.

“So you don’t think I’m just unlucky, again?”

“Maybe. But I’m not in the practice of presuming anything, and each time we try, we learn more about you, and we have to explore this before we go again.”

He told me that he and Dr. K needed to both be present for my next ultra sound, which should fall on the tail end of my next period.  He suspected my period would come that day, Thursday, or the next.

I now have an appointment to see them on Tuesday together. I respect, no, revere, the fact that my doctor took his associates into his office with him to review my folder.  “He owes us that,” Craig said.  He is right.

I appreciate the fact that when I cried, “This isn’t over,” to my doctor, he confirmed, “No, it is not over. We will get you pregnant.  And this is waaaay beyond doctor / patient relationship; you are family.  We will get through this.”

I am mad at G-d right now, and am not able to pray.

But I have my period now, which means my body is working, and for that I am grateful.

And even though this is technically my 14th failed IVF, since we tried something so different this time (again, something so personal that I don’t want to get into it now), it is really only the 1st failed one.

And we’ve got those 4 beauties frozen in Tarzana.  And I have my loving husband and my fantastic puppy.  And today, I dragged myself out of bed, though I would have liked to stay there curled up for days, and drove to my favorite hike in Malibu, where I walked amongst butterflies and had a dolphin sighting.

And I remembered that all I can do is take one step at a time; and trust in the universe.

Thank you all for your continued support.


Hospitalized to Term



At one point later that Tuesday, my Israeli OBGYN Dr. B returned to me with an update: He had consulted with a high risk specialist, Dr. K. T. (the very same doctor both friends had recommended), who had indicated that because of how dilated I was, I should not have a cerclage; there was a risk that the suture would puncture the amniotic sac because of how low it was, thereby putting my baby in absolute harm’s way.

My eyes grew wide.  I was confused.  The frightening solution that I had grown to accept over the past day was now being presented as dangerous?!  Dr. B indicated that my only course of action was that I was to stay in the hospital in that position on bed-rest for the rest of my term.

It was November 24th, 2009, and I was 2 days shy of being 24 weeks pregnant.

I emailed everyone with an update.  I don’t know if I cried.  I may have been too scared to cry; after all, every bodily movement I had seemed to have some consequence on the actual life of my child.

I stayed in my control mode and may have wondered about getting credit on the American Airline tickets we hadn’t used, about disability that we would need to get filed on my behalf, and what other things I needed Craig to bring me in the hospital.

So long as I could think of things I could do, I would fool myself into believing I was in control of the situation.

When multiple members of the staff from the N.I.C.U. unit walked in that day, they calmly indicated they were there to inform me of my options, should my baby be born prematurely.  I don’t know if they had literature under their arms, but they looked like a bunch of fucking used car or door-to-door salesmen to me and I rejected their presence, as it was preparing for something that I couldn’t bear to have happen.  I told them to get out of my room immediately.  I was loud, assertive, and know that when they left, I was short of breath, and as I typed these words now, tears came to my eyes and a sadness rushed over me causing me to need a valium ~ at the memory of me shouting to them that my baby was not going to be born early, that I didn’t need to be informed of their (fucking) statistics.

Later my doctor would come in and tell me that he’d heard I yelled at them; he didn’t do it to reprimand me; he knew I was tough, and I guess wanted to communicate that is how I’d come across.  Perhaps it was motivation for me to be even tougher than usual.

My parents came that day or the next, or maybe both.  My mother said that instead of she and my father going to my sister’s, that they would order food in and eat there with Craig and I for Thanksgiving.  I guess I said OK, but when I repeated the plan to Craig, he said otherwise.  “It’s too small in this room and would be too crowded and I don’t need you around any stress.”  His voice was firm and his statement matter of fact; in the past, he would sort of tiptoe around the craziness of my family, namely my mother, whose behavior you’ll recall from earlier postings, but in this case, I almost saw his posture change.  I called my parents and conveyed the final decision.

On Thanksgiving Day Craig picked up pretty hefty turkey dinners for us from Izzy’s Deli, which was a couple blocks away.  We marveled at how much food they were able to fit into the container.  Moreover, we celebrated the fact that this was our son Finley’s 24th gestational week, and just this morning I had received 1 of 2 shots I would receive to accelerate his lung capacity.

I had learned so much about Finley on a physical level in those incredibly long 96-odd hours since being hospitalized: he was fully formed except for his lungs wouldn’t come along until around week 30, so we had to do everything we could to prepare him for life should he come early.  “I am a very strict mother and I told him he’s got to stay put,” I joked with whomever it was who had given me the steroid injection that morning in my butt.  There was no need to laugh at my joke, which I said with Craig at my side, squeezing or stroking my right hand had become his number one job; I just needed to keep repeating the fact that Finley wasn’t going to come out early, and however I was able to convey that to others, to myself, to my fully formed son inside me except for his lungs but including his little ears – his beautiful, very little, yet fully formed ears – I would take the opportunity.

In addition to learning about his gestational development, my son and I became very close. I suspect most pregnant moms don’t bond as much with their babies at this stage, because they are not so violently forced into the condition of his absolutely survival depending upon how she lies down, how little movement she should make; most women aren’t forced into a physical position with constant reminders that your baby’s very safety is at risk; most mothers don’t have nurses coming in twice a day specifically to check on their babies, with a visit from their doctor every.single.day.

Obviously any great mother has already been eating healthy foods and avoiding that which would put baby at danger, but this forced condition both caused and allowed me to spend a lot of time with him, speaking to him all.day.long. – I would tell him to stay in, how much we loved him; I rubbed his little body in my lower belly a lot – as that is where he was living, and we played music for him regularly.

In the Jewish religion (or is it just amongst my friends?), it is bad luck to tell people the name of the baby before he’s born.  Craig had been the first to tell his family our son would be named Finley, and I followed by telling my sister and nieces (who told my parents – which is such a bullshit move, by the way; the lesson is don’t tell a 5 and 8 year old a secret!), and of course Dee.

Now, whenever a new nurse entered the room, one for the day shift, and one for the night, he / she would ask if we had a name, while gently searching for his heart beat with a sonogram device over my belly.

I never for one second considered not telling them.  The more I spoke of him by name, the more certain I was he would know how much he was loved; how clear it was that he existed; people would refer to him by name.  It was as if I was re-writing the Descartes quote of “I think therefore I am” to be “I have a name and therefore I am or will be”.  If I could leave the room and go to a mountaintop, I would have screamed, “Finley” for the world to hear.  But as it was, not only could I not leave my room, I couldn’t even leave my bed.

In addition to me being confined to the bed in the Trendelenburg position, with my feet 15 – 30 degrees higher than my head, I had to wear medical stockings to keep the blood flowing in my legs.  They were AWFUL!  They were itchy and cumbersome. They were placed on me by nurses, and then latched to the bottom of the bed, and hooked up to some device that had them massaging my calves so that they wouldn’t go into a state of atrophy.  Oh the nightmare of getting those off before I slid over to that makeshift toilet, directly adjacent to my bed.

The nurses were always different those first several days; perhaps because it was the week of Thanksgiving, there was a trade off of time shifts or something.  Accordingly, I had to instruct every morning nurse the same instructions I’d uttered the day before.  After they opened the blinds, unless Craig was sleeping there, as he did on the Thanksgiving weekend a couple of nights, I would ask them to rip off the day on the calendar.  In the right hand corner, to the right of the bathroom that I had not even entered as it was considered too far away from my bed for me to use, there was a sizeable daily calendar, and every new day brought me the satisfaction of knowing he had grown a little bit more, that he was bigger and stronger than the day before, that the steroid shot we had given him for his lungs was surely working and accelerating the growth of those vital organs.

Then after they would do those tasks it was time to take some pills, my Emergen C, for me to go to the bathroom, and then clean up a little before I would change dressing gowns and then the nurse would return to change my sheets.

By this time I had a huge pink plastic container that held my toiletries.  My mother had contributed quite a few, and of course Craig had brought what I needed from home.  I would brush my teeth and use mouthwash, while sitting on the edge of my hospital bed upright.  I would soak my washcloth into the soapy (Dove) water container the nurse would have prepared, and clean under arms and privates.  I would apply deodorant, maybe a little perfume so that I could feel civilized, and my Aveeno lotion.  This not being able to shave every day was wreaking havoc on my Excema, an annoying skin condition that was heightened by my nerves, so it was important that I at least used this lotion.  I would spray this weird hospital dry shampoo into my hair, and then brush it out.  I would fool myself into thinking that I felt clean, as I buzzed for the nurse so she could come change my bedding, and then put on a new dressing gown; I had been told that it was fine if I wore my own clothes, but the dressing gown just seemed so easy and as my mother had said, in this case, the hospital would do my laundry for me.

Craig had brought my green down comforter as well as a pillow, but during the day I didn’t want the comforter, so I had to instruct that day’s nurse to fold it and put it in the corner by my window.  Also by my window was my purse, which I didn’t have a lot of need for, several books, DVDs, and whatever bananas and apples Craig had brought that didn’t fit above the small frig that was below the TV, just to the left of the bathroom door of that bathroom that alluded me.

In addition to the 2 types of stool softener that I would take daily, as constipation is common for pregnant women and my lack of ability to move could interfere with my previously regular movement, I was eating a lot of fruit, per my doctor’s suggestions. Craig had just gone to Ralphs and gotten a fruit tray, since I complained that the hospital fruit tray tasted a little too frozen.

Directly to the right of my bed was a 3-drawer bureau.  On top was the hospital phone, whatever I was reading, my cell phone that was plugged into my phone charger, and my glasses, when I wasn’t wearing them.  In the top drawer was my computer, typically plugged into the outlet.  Leaning to the right of the computer was a lap desk so that when I used my computer, it wouldn’t harm the precious baby inside my uterus.  In the second drawer I had a fancy lotion my mother had brought by L’Occitane and some other toiletries that I didn’t need regularly, like my make-up, tweezers, nail polish / file / polish remover.  And in the bottom was my junk drawer, which was filling up nicely from the visitors I’d had.  There was a bunch of candy and some cookies and I tried to limit the amount I’d eat daily by moving what I’d allocated to the top of the drawer, but without fail, during the evening, I’d decide I was allowed to have one more fill-in-the-blank.  I liked candy and cookies before I got pregnant, but being pregnant had increased my habit, and then being hospitalized seemed to give me a pass to eat however much candy I wanted.


Over that first week or so, lots of people visited.  I had my hands full scheduling them so that they didn’t arrive at the same time, and also was trying to spread them out as I knew I would be there for awhile.

Claire and Poodle came with some flowers.  I had been friends with Poodle – a nickname for Jon – for years; I had even been out drinking with him and Dee the night I met Craig.  His wife Claire was British and the two had come from getting their nails done to visit me. They brought me flowers.

Our good friends Leila and Pete brought me a bunch of magazines, and I remember telling Leila not to kiss me hello or goodbye as she smelled and looked so pretty and clean and showered, and I, a woman who prided herself on smelling good – just felt stale and itchy and not clean!

Jodi, a best friend since high school, came and brought me two Black & White cookies from Izzy’s, per my request.  I remember she was wearing a blue headband.

Kristie – who had been rooting for us to become pregnant and was over the moon once she learned we were – came and brought me M&M’s.  She was in early pregnancy, and had both made and taken the time – already with 2 little ones at home – to visit me after her doctor’s appointment on the Westside, having traveled all the way from Palos Verdes.  I remember that she told me that her husband had said to her, “Wow, she’s going to be in there for awhile,” to which she responded, “YES, let’s hope so!”

My parents visited together and also visited separately.  My dad brought me a box of See’s lollypops with all different flavors (even though I’d specifically requested chocolate).  My mother returned the next time with chocolate only.  She also came once dressed up after a holiday luncheon and looking and smelling very glamorous, like a movie star, with a holiday plant, a white Poinsettia.

My eldest sister had come with her mother in law Lynne, the nurse, the day after I was hospitalized, and the next time she came, she was there to pick up the birthday gift I got for youngest niece that Sunday before I was hospitalized (which Craig had brought from home).  I remember thinking it was stupid and insensitive of her to say that she couldn’t stay long because of how busy she was.  I mean really.

Our friend Jerry, Craig’s friend who he was with the night we’d met, came and visited, too.  He and Craig left my side to go have some beers at a local sports club. I was happy he was able to vent, as even Atlas can shrug under too much weight.

Dee, who I had considered my best friend, the one for whom we held a celebratory dinner party because we thought she was in remission the day before I was hospitalized, told me she was coming and asked what I wanted her to bring me. I ordered a bagel sandwich from her, and looked forward to seeing her on the appointed day.  That morning, I called her to find out her timing, and she told me she couldn’t come. I was disappointed, as of course these visits were the highlight of my days, but understood; things happen.  We re-scheduled, and I told her to get me that same bagel sandwich.  She flaked again.  I was sad and really mad that she hadn’t made me a priority, when I had prioritized her sickness by driving to the valley for breakfast or renting a car to go and babysit her youngest or throwing her a dinner party, etc. – for all of the months prior to my hospitalization.

And she wasn’t the only one to disappoint me; I really learned a lot about people’s character in this short time period; people who are the busiest always seem to make the time to fit another commitment in, and others – even a friend who was single with no children, worked only 40 hours a week, and lived only 20 minutes away from the hospital – didn’t make the effort to visit me.  But I didn’t have time or energy to focus on people who I now shelved or dismissed as petty and incapable friends; my number one focus was my son, and I relied on the love of the people who were besides me to help me stay calm and resolute.

That Monday in November, 2009


I haven’t written in awhile, not because I’ve been too busy – necessarily – but more because I haven’t been ready to re-visit the horrors I began to live starting next, that fateful Monday in November, 2009.  I haven’t wanted to feel this sad; I haven’t been prepared to write and therefore re-live what it was like to change forever, really three times, within that eleven night period.  But since we’re super immersed in our next current fertility steps, and I’m all shot up with extra estrogen, taking two tablets a day and even having an extra patch on my right ovary that is literally feeding estrogen into my blood stream, I am extra emotional right now, and awoke with a little insomnia at 3 AM and decided it was time to rip off the band-aid.  Here I go…..


I spent the morning laying out items that we’d be packing for our trip the next day to visit Craig’s dad and stepmother in the Florida Keys on our bed.  I checked in online and printed out our American Airlines tickets.  Then, in accordance with the bus schedule, since we were still a one-car household, I headed out to take the 2-bus ride to my doctor’s office.  While I waited at the transfer bus stop at Venice and Windward Circle, I got a phone call from a sales rep.  He wanted to know what I was up to in work and life.  I told him I didn’t have any current projects, other than the fact that I was pregnant.  He said whatever niceties people say when they learn someone is pregnant, at the level at which we knew each other, and we chatted a bit more, before the call ended, and I resumed reading whatever book I was reading.  (I wish I remembered what book it was!)  I boarded the second bus and walked the 1.5 or so blocks to my doctor’s office, checked in, and waited.  I don’t remember my blood pressure being taken and being weighed, but I’m sure I was before I was sent to room number-whatever, where I removed my pants without being reminded, and placed the paper, large-napkin-sized blanket that doctors use – over my privates.

Dr. B entered the room and as I sat there with my legs spread out in their respective holsters, he started the ultra sound. When he asked how I was, I told him of the pains I’d been feeling, which I was sure were Braxton Hicks.  He looked up at me, him with his white hair and glasses, when I described the amount of pain, where it had been, and when it occurred.  He resumed prodding inside me, and I nervously began my small talk, telling him how we were going to go to Florida the next day to see Craig’s family for Thanksgiving.  And then I heard my doctor, the fantastic doctor with the very thick usually un-discernable Israeli accent, utter the terrifying sentence with absolute clarity, “You’re not going anywhere.”

The next hour was startling, shocking, and beyond scary.  I couldn’t understand exactly what he was saying as he was saying it, but I soon became to gather that the baby was poking through my amniotic sac, and that I needed to be hospitalized immediately.  The pretty nurse, the one who typically really annoyed me, kindly helped me into a wheelchair, and carted me through my doctor’s office, and as she awaited the written instructions from the doctor to accompany me to the hospital, I started crying.  There was a waiting room full of women, some with their men, some visibly pregnant, others not, who I could almost see through my hysteria.  I was crying so hard that snot poured out of my nose, I was hiccupping, and I couldn’t actually breathe.

The pretty nurse wheeled me out of the office, to the elevator, downstairs, across the street, and up a ramp to the UCLA Hospital in Santa Monica.  Somebody had obviously called just moments ahead and so after she maneuvered me through the maze of hallways that I will never forget but don’t really remember, we arrived at the ward where nurses were there to greet me and to transfer me from the wheelchair to the bed.

I had called Craig in hysterics before they’d even put me in the wheelchair to repeat what my doctor had said, and I called him again as I was being hooked up to all sorts of machinery, telling him where to go once he’d arrived.  By this time, he had already left his office in Hollywood and was on his way to me.


My pulse was taken, the baby’s heart rate was checked; the tubes were connected to the monitors that allowed the staff to monitor both from their station and by my bedside.  Dr. B came in the room, and asked the staff if the Trendelenburg bed could be tilted any further.

In the Trendelenburg position the body is laid flat on the back (supine position) with the feet higher than the head by 15-30 degrees. This is a standard position used in abdominal and gynecological surgery. It allows better access to the pelvic organs as gravity pulls the intestines away from the pelvis. It was named after the German surgeon Friedrich Trendelenburg.  (Wikipedia)

He explained to me that we needed gravity to force the baby back into my uterus, that I had what’s called an Incompetent Cervix.

Incompetent Cervix is a medical condition in which a pregnant woman’s cervix begins to dilate (widen) and efface (thin) before her pregnancy has reached term. Internal  opening more than 1 cm is abnormal and cervical length less than 2 cm is considered diagnostic. Cervical incompetence may cause miscarriage or preterm birth during the second and third trimesters.  In a woman with cervical incompetence, dilation and effacement of the cervix may occur without pain or uterine contractions. In a normal pregnancy, dilation and effacement occurs in response to uterine contractions. Cervical incompetence occurs because of weakness of the cervix, which is made to open by the growing pressure in the uterus as pregnancy progresses. If the responses are not halted, rupture of the membranes and birth of a premature baby can result.  According to statistics provided by the Mayo Clinic, cervical incompetence is relatively rare in the United States, occurring in only 1—2% of all pregnancies, but it is thought to cause as many as 20—25% of miscarriages in the second trimester.  (Wikipedia)

He went on to say that we could sew my weakened cervix up, in a procedure called a Cervical cerclage.  The treatment consists of a strong suture being inserted into and around the cervix.  (Wikipedia)

By the time my doctor had verbalized this plan, Craig had arrived, and we were now under the informed assumption that the cerclage would be performed the next day, with a couple of days to follow in the hospital.

Craig held my hand and looked me firmly in the eyes and told me it would be OK.  Then we got into business mode.  He had a flight to cancel, to inform his father that we weren’t flying to Florida, and to retrieve some key things for me at home.

I reluctantly let go of my firm grip of Craig’s hand to allow him to leave and do these things, and got into my survival mode, this space where I just keep doing stuff so that I don’t have to think too hard about the circumstances.  I called my parents and told them what was happening.  I called my eldest sister and explained things to her.  She happened to have been with her mother-in-law ~ a nurse, on speaker phone from her car, and it was comforting and calming to get such an informed reaction from her, as to the commonality of a cerclage.  I called or left messages for other close friends Dee and Jodi.

Craig came back that evening with some things for me, like my reading glasses, phone charger, and some basic toiletries – even though I was confined to the bed and wasn’t allowed to shower.  Actually, I wasn’t even allowed to get up and walk the 10 feet to my hospital room bathroom.  They brought in a mobile toilet and placed it only inches away from the bottom of the bed, with a roll of toilet paper nearby, and I was instructed to go there and then return immediately to bed – and call on the nurse to empty the toilet for me.  It was pretty severe a sentence, I thought, but I did as instructed.

I was paralyzed by shock and fear to question that directive, or any of the others.

Dr. B returned and spouted orders to the staff about the angle of the bed.  “Can it be more of an angle?  I want her head 45 degrees from her feet.”  “This is as far as the bed will go back,” the nurse responded.  “Can we get bricks or something to put her feet up higher?” he asked.  I think the nurse thought he was kidding, but I don’t believe he was.  No bricks arrived, but his reactions made it very clear to me how much I needed to rely on gravity to keep my son safe.

I can’t remember if Craig stayed there that night, but the next day, since he had previously gotten Tuesday off as we had been scheduled to fly that day to Florida, he opted to consider it a work day, and so sat next to me while I watched TV from my angled bed, with his computer in his lap.  I distinctly remember that was the day that he got a Request For Proposal from a major ad agency for the one of the biggest accounts there is. We took it as a lucky omen that he was on the ground – meaning not flying, as otherwise there would have been an automated response re-directing that request to another co-worker, and with so much potential for commission on such a size-able account, we took it as the cup being half full that he’d gotten the email.

My sister and her mother-in-law visited me that day.  I don’t remember where Craig had gone, but they sat in my room and Lynne supported what the doctor had told me, that the cerclage scheduled now for Wednesday was a great idea, that it was a simple procedure, and would alleviate the problem of my incompetent / weakened / shortened cervix.

Over the next hours, I wracked my brain with wondering who else I knew that had experienced this.

I remembered that Robin – who I had seen only 2 days before at her son’s first birthday party, had been hospitalized late in her first pregnancy with her daughter for a similar thing.  I spoke to her and it turns out it was the exact same thing.  She asked me for some vitals, like where I was and who my doctor was.  She was happy that I was at that UCLA SM hospital, as she claimed it had the best N.I.C.U. unit in the state.  She gave me the name of her high-risk doctor, who performed her surgery.  I held tightly to her strong recommendation in the hospital, and sort of shelved the information she gave me about the N.I.C.U. – which stands for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, as I had confidence in the cerclage that would be done thereby allowing me to leave this hospital in a few days, eventually delivering at St. John’s, as we had planned.

I emailed my friend Kathy and asked her for her older sister’s phone number, recalling that she was on bed-rest for most of her pregnancy. I spoke to her, who explained that she had been on bed-rest from around week 8 all the way through week 29, only in the actual (and same) hospital around week 23 until she delivered early.  She hadn’t had the same diagnosis or circumstance, and had given birth to a very premature son, but she also reported great things about the hospital, their N.I.C.U. unit, and the same high-risk specialist that Robin had mentioned.

I had been taught by my father that intelligence is strength, and felt comfortable being in full producer mode, doing my research, gathering information, and arming myself with intelligence so that when the doctor spouted next steps at us, Craig and I would be informed and thus prepared.

If only….