The Domino Effect


The domino effect is a chain reaction that occurs when a small change causes a similar change nearby, which then causes another similar change, and so on, in a linear sequence.  The term is best known as a mechanical effect, and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes (according to Wikipedia.)

I started writing this blog for multiple reasons.

First and foremost, after my son Finley died, after only being alive for 13 short hours, a chapter I still need to write in the context of this blog, I could not find any help, anywhere.  I read every book I could find in the spiritual or self help section of the bookstore or on-line, and every book that generous and thoughtful people, sometimes friends but mostly acquaintances, had sent my way.  I talked to others who had suffered loss.  I joined a chat room for fellow bereaved mothers.  I looked in nature, in my heart, and at the beautiful photo I have of that little boy who looked so much like his Dad.  And still, nowhere could I find the answer as to why things had happened; how that little person had come into our life and then we had been robbed, nay, raped of the opportunity to care for him.

And then after he died, and as my journey to become a parent to a living child became a march, a militant focus for which there would be no distractions, even though I knew others who had suffered from fertility challenges who had ended up on ‘the other side’, as I say, I still couldn’t find answers as to why some people had been blessed with children to parent, and that we had not.

I wanted to share my experiences so that any one else who had ever felt so alone, so deserted, upon finding my blog, might feel a little less sad, a little less alone, perhaps no longer suicidal or even homicidal.  (I do not suffer from either of those very serious emotional states currently, but without question I have been filled with so much hate and longing and pain that I suspect if I did not have a good husband, some very key supportive people in my life, the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and therapy, that if I were a different person, this could have been a solution for me during an earlier time; my darkest days.)

The second reason I wrote this is to write a love letter to my son.  His spirit is with me, and I know he knows how much I love and miss him, but being a parent to an angel, with my only tangible proof being an urn of ashes, one photograph, and a picture of the size of his little feet, I needed to do something more tangible so that others know that he was here. When people die, they are said to have left their legacy.  For most people, those who have not created memorable works of art or been parts of revolutions or done something important in medicine, that legacy is their children.  And I am not ready to die any time soon, but g-d damnit, Finley is my legacy, and while I am alive, it is my job as his mother to make sure that people speak his name, that they know how much he was loved and wanted by his parents.

The third reason I began this blog is to see if I could help my self at all; find my way; sift through the ashes of my emotional tumult and pain, to see if I could find answers as to why he came and left so quickly.  Moreover, perhaps I could find the answer as to why our next child has not come yet.

And in doing so, in writing this blog, in putting myself in such a raw state with no make-up, no fancy purse, no beautiful jewelry, no small talk, and no barriers, I have created a community of love and support around me that I could not have imagined.

The other day, at a work lunch, an associate sat next to me and started telling me about some pain that she’d been having in her uterus.  She bylined the small talk that is so common in my industry, and started talking about something important; her health, her wellbeing, and she did so because she knew that she could trust me with her truth.  I don’t know what the pain she was experiencing is associated to yet; she told me she is going to see another doctor to research this further, but I feel confident that she knows that I am here for her, if there is anything she wants to tell me.

Also the other day I took a work call from an associate, a woman I’ve known for just over 2-years, who I am convinced I knew from a past life.  She rattled off the work questions and then said, “Lorraine, I was thinking, after reading your last blog and since I know what your next steps are, that if I were a few years younger, if this were a few years ago, I would offer to be your surrogate.”

This is a woman who I sat across from at a holiday work party; I remember we were engrossed in talking about her grandmother and what a strong woman she was, and then I saw a twinkle in her eyes, and no, it was not from the eggnog.

This twinkle was likely something that nobody else would have noticed, but what I saw was a flash of her spirit that came through when she was speaking with love about her grandmother.  I remember freaking out a little bit, and telling her that I had just recognized her soul, and I could not continue chatting with her any more because it was just too intense for a holiday work party!

When she said those words to me, offering to be my surrogate if it were a few years earlier, I was stunned and speechless.

Our next steps don’t, in fact, include the need for a surrogate, but the fact that she would even utter that thought, that her heart had opened up so completely that she could even go there, is without question the most generous thing anyone has ever said to me.

These are two examples that immediately come to my mind of this domino effect that has had.  There are so many others, really – countless, but these personal experiences, these loving notes, these spiritual connections I have had with people are a tremendous benefit of wearing my heart on my sleeve, and sharing my loneliness, my desperation, my love letter, with you all.

And I am supremely grateful for this, and yet I am stunned and helpless right now as to how to help two other mothers I know who are suffering:

Someone in my industry just lost her child.  He was less than a year old, and had been diagnosed in January (I believe) of what was apparently a fatal disease. I saw a picture of him on Facebook, and the image is now engrained in my heart; I don’t actually know the woman, but since I learned her little boy died I have had a gulp in my throat that won’t go down; I can’t seem to swallow the fact that another set of parents is suffering the unspeakable pain right now, as I type, of the fact that their son is dead.  Makes me want to throw up, actually.  Eventually I will write her a note and tell her about all of the books that I read that did nothing for me; I’ll share my website info with her; I’ll tell her that her pain is my pain, but the fact is that these parents are without question inconsolable.

When I told Craig about this yesterday, he said “I can’t imagine…” and then stopped himself and said, “well I can, but I just can’t….” I think what he meant to communicate is that he can’t imagine being in that state again; in the early stages of shock and grief that your son, your flesh and blood, has died.

Even to those who have experienced the exact loss, the thought of losing their child is unimaginable.  That is how intense it is.

The other mother who is suffering is a woman I know who could not get pregnant (she does not ovulate regularly and had a failed IVF / surrogate effort), and so she and her husband moved forward with adoption. About 1.5 months ago I saw a picture on Facebook of their son, who had just been born, and they were fostering with the intent to move the foster parent relationship into adoption.  Every day for over a month there was a new photo up, showing her and her husband loving and caring for their son; showing me that dreams DO come true.

And then 2 weeks ago I learned that someone in the bureaucracy made a mistake, a serious mistake, in over-looking that this little boy actually had a grandmother who was now ready to take him into her care, her custody, permanently.  This couple I know fell in love with this little boy immediately (likely had fallen in love with him long before they met him), only to have him taken from them after 33 days in their care.

I cried when I learned this; it makes me question my faith, quite frankly, as how could and why would G-d and the universe be so cruel?  These parents who have waited so patiently, and been so diligent, nay, militant with their intent, now robbed of the opportunity to love this child, a little boy who they immediately took in as their own son.

And I wrote her a note, because that’s all I can do that is tangible.  But I was thinking that maybe we could put into effect that domino effect here:  Will you who have been so gracious with your prayers and positive energy for me now extend your prayers and strength to those parents, please?  I don’t know what else we can give them, but I know that your prayers and good energy has kept me warm and loved and I want to do anything we can for these others who are hurting.

Craig and I are in the midst of next steps. I am a mother to my next child already, it is written in the stars – I know – but the journey continues as to how that dream is fulfilled.

It is amazing, truly fascinating, the range of emotions I am feeling. I am still not going to share what it is in writing; I am not sharing yet because I am still processing the enormity of this decision.

But to put it in context: A few days ago I texted to my husband that I was in the process of writing the checks for our next steps.  I used an explanation point and he responded, “Okay!”.

Then, as I wrote in the subject line of that exact check that which had moments before brought me such joy and resolution and hope, I burst into tears.

It is surreal being me; living this life, or this nightmare, in this state of purgatory; not knowing from one minute to the next how I might feel.  But I am strong; my husband and I are resolute, and we are led by faith and surrounded by loving thoughts and energy from each of you wonderful people who take the time to go on this journey with me.

To be continued…


Family Secrets


I’ve been contemplating how much to write about what happened next, when I returned to LA from NY at the end of my 1st trimester.

I think of times I’ve said something disparaging about a family member to a close friend, perhaps revealed a family secret, and how when that friend repeats back to me something in that exact same context, how infuriated it has made me, as I am loyal to and protective of my family.

And then I think about all of the reasons I am writing this blog, including trying to help someone else.  I think of how alone I felt after Finley died; how alone I continue to feel on random days when the roller coaster of grief hits me; on holidays which highlight the hyper reality of the fact that my husband and I are parents, without a child to love on a daily basis; how painfully exhausting it is to still be going through fertility efforts.  I think about how as I have searched for answers as to why things happen and how to get through this, I have continuously felt alone, and how every now and then I’ve come across a phrase in a book or a person who maybe has said the right things to me on any particular occasion, whether it was after Finley died, or if it was sending me a text on Mother’s Day just last year to say I’m being thought of; I think of a woman I didn’t know very well being brave and generous enough to tell me how her family had failed her after she had to have a 2nd term abortion.

And for those reasons I will now share the truth about how my parents reacted when I told them I was pregnant, summer of ’09.

It was great to be reunited with Craig that late August after being in NY for one month for work.  Our relationship was far from perfect, but he and I had such a strong connection and such deep love, that returning to a hug from him grounded me in a place of peace and love.  Even as I re-read this, I can close my eyes and take a breath and know that foundation is built to last.  I was home.

And on top of that, I could now go check on our little growing baby by going to see the doctor!  I had my end of first trimester screening with my Israeli OBGYN, who took blood to make sure my levels were good and showed me how much our little baby had grown.  I cherished that picture even more than the earlier ones, and stopped the irrational though perhaps common fear that the baby was no longer inside me.  I had proof!

I talked to my Dad and told him I had some news to tell him and my Mother; that I wanted to do so in person, and gave him a couple of dates that could work. In a normal family, I’ll theorize that when a daughter who has wanted to get pregnant for so long, who is healthy, committed for 10-years with a great man, and employed, that her parents are happy.  That they jump at the good fortune.  But I don’t come from what I perceive as a normal family (uncommon as normal likely is), so for me, the drive to my parents’ home that Sunday morning to tell them I was over 12-weeks pregnant was one full of dread.  I don’t think I had any actual shame that I was pregnant (I have definitely spent time contemplating this in retrospect), but I felt emotionally pulled into the dysfunction of my family by anticipating what they would say.  Knowing from my eldest sister that my mother had guessed the news, and having not received a congratulatory call was only one indication that this was not going to go to well.  Another clue was the fact that my eldest sister had offered to go with me, to sort of buffer the situation.

And still other clues existed in my history of memories throughout my life with how my Mother, specifically, responded to situations.

I am sharing what happened next with great trepidation.  I have a relationship with my mother now, a woman I have come to accept entirely; who I love very much.  I don’t want to be disrespectful and air the family secrets, and I will censor this a bit so as to respect them, but at the same time, I am writing this honest memoir of my experience with my struggle to get pregnant, my pregnancy, my loss, and my current fertility struggles to help another; to form a sense of camaraderie in a community of women / parents / people who have had similar struggles.  I hope the risks I am taking, the vulnerability I am showing, will help someone else out there, and so I have made a choice to tell this part of my truth.

Just to give you a sense of my Mother:  When I was around 8 she yanked me out of a school mid-year because she didn’t like my teacher.  This was done to protect me, but when properly analyzed, I realize that she didn’t think of the disruption that caused me at the time.  When I was 14, she told me that she was planning a trip to Tunisia or Egypt or some other far away place, before she communicated this news to my father, with a copy of her itinerary on his breakfast placemat, the very morning she was leaving.  She once wore a very bright colorful outfit to my close friend’s funeral, while the other mothers wore navy or black suits (which horrified me at the time, and later that I think my friend Nicole would have loved).  And that’s just a paragraph’s worth of memories; the rest may eventually fill a different book.

So I walked in to their home, where I’d grown up, having not seen them in many weeks, ready to show them the latest commercial I produced, an incredibly powerful Public Service Announcement touting the importance of breaking the stigmatism attached to mentally ill people, and ready to tell them news that made my heart soar with happiness.  And I was leading up to my big news (again, I don’t think there was shame at being pregnant, but I was in a lot of fear obviously, in that I didn’t lead with the great news).

I told them about shooting with an Academy Award winning director and an Academy Award nominated actress at Grand Central. We sat in their living room, the place where lavish gifts were stored at Christmas time for my mother to give out to her daughters, her 2 grandchildren, and any stranger that was in her life at the moment; my mother was notorious for buying people gifts, as that was the way she best knew how to communicate love.

My parents were sitting opposite each other, and so I had to volley back and forth to make the small talk.  I noticed my mother had a crazy look I’d seen on her face before: the one when I can see her tongue clicking at her dental bridge, nervous, upset, distracted.  And she asked if I was pregnant.  And I smiled, and answered, “Yes,” and her eyes seemed to squint, while I volleyed over to my father’s first response, “Are you clean?”  It’s certainly not the response I would have dreamed of, and anyone who knew me, actually knew anything about me, knew that I was off cocaine, alcohol, cigarettes, sodas, and even coffee, lox, and sushi nowadays.  But, it was a reasonable question from my father who had once driven me to drug rehab so I could get help, over 3 years before, so I didn’t get upset, and I assured him that yes, I was sober.

My mother said, “Don’t expect any money from us,” a truly outrageous sentence to utter, as I made good money, and hadn’t asked them for any money in years.  But that was her way of controlling things, and also her way of removing her love; she had grown up poor, and daily spent my father’s means; she had married a father figure 12-years her senior; she herself grew up without a father.  I didn’t think of all of this then; I felt really stunned, but for obvious reasons yearned so desperately for their approval and proceeded to tell them about the pregnancy.

In retrospect, of course I should have gotten up, walked out, and returned home to the family I was creating, the one centered in love.  But having been raised under such dysfunction, like a dog doing tricks for some sort of approval, I continued to tell them details, like that I had initially been pregnant with twins but that I’d miscarried one early on, and that the baby inside of me was growing along well….

“You’ll probably lose this one, too,” I heard from my mother.

My head turned and my mouth dropped and I’m sure I had tears in my eyes but they were angry tears; tears of dismay that any human being, specifically my own Mother, would utter that thought.  At one point in her campaign to stop me from having a baby, she had said that she prayed I wouldn’t get pregnant.  I should have stopped speaking to her then and there, but I didn’t have enough strength and knowledge to break away at the time.

But when she said those words, “You’ll probably lose this one, too,” I first threw my plastic bottle of water at her, and then my father, typically timid to her tyranny, stood up and called her names and told her to leave the room…. And there was much more nastiness and far more emotion and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit how appalled and hurt I was by that 6 word sentence.

Today, years later, and on good terms with her, I think of that sentence and the power it had over me.

I know whether or not she prayed for me to get pregnant was irrelevant. But was it? Abraham Lincoln once wrote:  “I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me.  They have clung to me all my life.”  Did her prayers have any influence?

I know that her saying that sentence is not how or why my son eventually did die.  She was not G-d, but as William Makepeace Thackeray wrote: “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”

On a side note, there are many things I take issue with in how poorly equipped we Americans are when it comes to grief, and the common phrase of a person has ‘lost’ someone she loves is one that is outrageous to me. I sometimes lose my keys.  I often lose my remote control.  But I most certainly did not lose my son; I denote loss with a sense of carelessness, and if you know me at all personally, or have been reading along, it is obvious that I am not a careless person.  I didn’t lose my son, he was stolen from me by an act beyond my control; perhaps his fate; perhaps a pure product of  him not being strong enough since he was so very little when he was born; whatever the case:

I had never heard a meaner sentence uttered.

My Dad tried to assuage the situation, and brought out a photo album of his side of the family. He is a nostalgic man, my father, and his nostalgia often feels like a history lesson. I was in shock but appreciated that he was trying to distract me emotionally from the vicious, insensitive, and insane reaction of my mother.

As the days wore on, through conversations with my Craig and close friends and my sisters, I made a decision not to accept her behavior and violently rejected her premonition.  This incident began to allow me to change personal boundaries, something I remain confident will only help me be a better mother.

There is more to it, but this is not a story about the family from which I come, it is a story about the family that Craig and I were building, as our own family was well under-way, me being at this time now over 12-weeks pregnant and out of the woods from all of the fears associated with the 1st trimester.

Again: or so I thought.

When does life or love begin?


My last post left off in July, 2009, but I felt like switching gears for this posting….

I am a liberally minded woman.  I vote democratic, and I guess that’s relevant because of all of the right winged tea party nuts that hijacked that Grand Old Party, many of which have since uttered and tried to impose their archaic opinions about a problem that was already solved.

I am pro choice.  I have never had an abortion, but should I have needed to have one for any thoughtful reason, I likely would have.  I support any woman’s right to choose, although I do tend to judge a woman I know who professes to be a devout Catholic and has had two abortions. I mean, how can she support that church so completely and still abort?  Talk about making a choice.  Anyway….

I am struck by the question as to when life begins, something some politicians have recently tried to weigh in on, because as I type this, now 2 days after my 12th retrieval, I have 3 embryos that have 4 cells, the exact right amount.  By Monday, I will know how many blastocysts we have to freeze.  (Blastocysts refer to the level of cells and growth that an embryo should be by day 5 of its existence.)

There is a lot of discussion in the fertility world as to when the best time is to put embryos in, but I’ve heard 3 top doctors indicate if they don’t survive outside in the lab until day 5, then they’re not going to survive inside the woman’s uterus, and with these doctors’ guidance, I made the decision that we should grow them to day 5 before freezing, so we know what we’re legitimately working with come late January.  If they don’t all make it to day 5, then we will freeze less than 3.

(Saturday I was supposed to get an update on the embryos, hopefully the news that they had now reached 8 cells, but either someone at the lab or my least favorite nurse at the doctor’s office dropped the administrative ball, and missed the window of getting the embryologists to send an update.  I got this voice-mail from the nurse, who I’ve had words with before, during which I had to remind her as to the sensitivity of her job, I mean, really, anyone who is in a fertility office is under duress and she should act accordingly – that I would have to wait until Monday for a report, and my shoulders immediately raised, as if I was ready for a fight.  Fortunately, I had gone to the spiritual healer that morning and was able to remind myself to breathe, that how these embryos were growing would in no way be altered by my knowledge; that I’d already done everything I could.)

(As mentioned in the last post, we opted to freeze because I have had grade A embryos in the past that haven’t attached, and we suspect that my body needs a break from the magical poison Follistim before the embryos will attach. Plus, I am on a highly demanding project right now, and have to create the right mental & physical space to be ready to accept these embryos.)

Anyway, what I want to express is how much I already love these embryos, and they don’t even have a heartbeat yet.  While their actual DNA doesn’t really take over until week 3, they were made with the DNA of my husband and me, and they are Finley’s brother or sister. They were made out of love, out of want, out of a desire to be parents so strong that we have done more than what over 99% of parents out there do, just in order to get them to be 4 cells.  But I already love them, speak to them, and we even have names picked out for our next children.

(Well – actually – we’re settled on the girl’s name; Craig has issues with the boy’s name that I love so much, but I know that I will eventually win the battle on this one or we will agree on an even better name.  Clearly, with these embryos still in a lab in Tarzana, there is no need for us to rush the baby naming.)

Even when I am doing the stimulation, when I am shooting myself up with 2 – 4 shots a night, I will rub low on my belly where my ovaries are, and speak to my ovaries with care. I will tell my ovaries that they’re doing a great job. I will encourage my follicles to grow.  I will close my eyes and wait for the pink or blue energy waves that sometimes come over me to visit so I know that my spirit babies are on their way.

Most people would suggest 4-cell embryos are not alive. And they’re right; it’s only the beginning of life, and without hearing a heartbeat (something we can hear with the most advanced technology at week 5), they’re not really even chemically alive.  More-over, they don’t have a chance at life until they’re inside a woman’s body, mine, in this case, at which point little by little they grow into babies, before they are born, and legitimately – alive.

In olden times, before people understood biology and human beginnings, people believed that babies just started out as miniature humans, and that they just they grew bigger and bigger over time. These were called homunculus.

Now we know of course that there are developmental stages. I, for instance, learned the hard way with my son Finley that the lungs don’t develop until after the 30th week.

I write all of this for two reasons.

First, it was on my mind.  I’ve thought about it and joked about it with people a lot.  If you’re trying to get pregnant, and you’re trying to get pregnant to the degree that I am, then you know every step of the way what is happening inside of you (or in the lab). And you end up loving the IDEA of the baby every step of the way, even before they are 4 cells.

Secondly, I had already known Friday morning that I was going to write this for my next post, and then a tragedy occurred in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.   A man walked into a school and killed 20 6 and 7 year old children, and 6 of the courageous adults who tried to protect the children.

I have wept multiple times thinking of those sweet little children, their voices small and their eyes big and their lives only just beginning, murdered.  It is brutal and makes me question my faith in humanity.

I also think of the parents.

Parents who filled those children’s lunch boxes that morning.

Parents who had Christmas and Hanukah gifts already wrapped; parents who were looking forward to watching Jessica or Jack or Olivia or Noah open up their train or doll or coloring book or football.

Parents who might have made their child go to school that morning, even if the child might have had the sniffles.

Parents who rushed to work that morning and didn’t wake up their child to hug him goodbye.

Those parents, whose arms will now ache for their children.  Who will wake up from their sleeping pill induced sleep wondering if it was a nightmare, before realizing that it really did happen.

And I ask, as a parent to a son I didn’t get to know very long, but who I knew so completely and loved so deeply, will these parents miss their children more than I miss Finley because they knew their children longer, and therefore loved them more?

Is it reasonable that I, a bereaved parent, sense that I know what they’re feeling?

Dreams are crushed, period.

But while dreams are equally crushed, there are more ‘things’ that these parents fell in love with:

The sleepy look in their son’s eyes when he tried to stay awake

The sound of her giggling

Their little voices as they sang the Happy Birthday song

And all of those unique, endearing, beloved qualities that made these children who they were; their DNA

I wonder this question aloud because I have on so many occasions battled with others who tried to compare their losses to mine, something I’ll get into in more detail, later, but to summarize – I used to believe that the person who miscarries at 8 weeks does not have the same sadness that I have at having met my son and held his hand, before he died.

But what if that mother struggled with fertility, too, and therefore fell in love with the idea of her baby even before she heard the heartbeat?  Does her pain hurt as much when she didn’t have as long to know her fetus?  Can I judge when I’m already in love with the likely now more than 8 cell organisms that are growing in petri dishes in Tarzana? Would a parent of one of those precious little children in Connecticut take issue with me relating to them as a fellow bereaved parent, when I never got to see my child’s eyes or hear my child’s laugh or watch him walk?  Are they luckier than me because they did get to experience all of those firsts, before losing them?

I think it is human nature to compare our-selves to others.  And even in the movie “The Rabbit Hole” – a movie about parents whose 6 year old son dies, and the aftermath of what this does to them as individuals and as a couple, Nicole Kidman’s character takes issue with her mother, who lost her son / Kidman’s character’s brother at about 30, due to a drug overdose, relating to her pain.

Is it fair that Dianne Wiest’s character tries to relate to her daughter, the bereaved mother of a 6-year old, as she herself is a bereaved mother of a 30-year old?

At this link below is a scene during which Kidman’s character talks to her mother, played by Wiest, about the pain of being a bereaved parent.

When life begins is one question. When love begins is another. Still – these are questions that can only be answered by the individuals faced with loss and painful decisions in which no politicians should play any part.

And as far as the parents in Connecticut whose hearts are broken, whose arms ache, and whose dreams are crushed, my wish is that eventually they might find a way to continue their relationships with their children on a spiritual level, whether with dolphins or butterflies or deer; that even though the most heinous act was inflicted on those poor and innocent children, that they might one day find a way to ‘crawl out from under (their pain) and carry (it) like a brick in (their) pocket’.

Where do I start?


I went to the doctor on Monday, November 23, 2009, thinking it was going to be a pretty normal 23.5 pregnancy week checkup, and while I was telling Dr. B about the trip we were taking to Florida to visit with Craig’s Dad and Step-mom for Thanksgiving – with plans to leave the next day, as clothes lay on our bed at home, waiting to be placed into our luggage, and our seats already claimed on the American Airlines flight – in his very thick, usually un-discernable Israeli accent, my OBGYN very clearly stated, “You are not going anywhere,” and checked me immediately into the hospital.

Over that next couple of days, I learned I had an incompetent cervix, which meant that the weight of the baby on my weakened or short cervix threatened early delivery; that I would be in the hospital for the rest of the term.  I learned of specific landmarks that I wanted to get to that would ensure the health of my still unborn son, who we had named Finley:

Once I got to week 24, I would get a steroid shot that would expedite the maturity of his not yet formed lungs.

Once I got to week 25, Finley’s chances of survival would rise from 15% to over 50%.

When I met week 28, the percentage that my baby would have Cerebral Palsy and other diseases would decrease significantly.

And so on.

We had a calendar placed in the room, and every day, right after a nurse opened my blinds as I lay in the bed with my head at the bottom of a 45 degree angle – in the Trendelenburg position, which was meant to encourage gravity to keep the baby inside, I would ask that day’s nurse to rip yesterday’s date off the calendar.  I had a sense of commitment regarding my task / mission / responsibility to keep Finley safe, and every day brought me a little closer.

For 11 days and 10 nights I stayed in that hospital with my legs practically in the air so that gravity could do its job and keep Finley in.  Friends and family brought black & white cookies from my favorite deli or my favorite lollipops, flowers, and celebrity tabloid magazines.  Pictures my nieces had painted for Finley were taped to the wall.  My husband, Craig slept there a few nights, and we’d hold hands or he would bring his computer and do work stuff there or we’d watch sitcoms and movies on that horribly small hospital TV, and he would rest his hand on my belly and talk to our baby.

I was permitted 1 shower during this entire time, and had to go to the bathroom in a toilet placed in the bedroom directly next to my bed, as part of the prescription to minimize my physical movement, even though the real bathroom was only 10 feet away.  I grew to hate the period of time that I had to wait for the nurse to come and empty this toilet of my body’s movements.

Every day, multiple times a day, the nurses would check my blood pressure and his heartbeat.  It felt like a new nurse each day, and each one would ask me his name.  “Finley,” I would respond, proudly.  I would show them where he was lying in my belly so that they could find his heartbeat easily; he tended to be in the same, low place.

I was prescribed two different kinds of stool softener so that my body didn’t have to strain too much.  I wasn’t on any special diet other than the usual pregnant woman diet, but I was guided to eat a lot of fruit so as to keep my body regular.

On the morning of December 3rd, 2009, a Thursday, while having a bowel movement, my water broke.  While nothing had prepared me for this, I knew that this was what had happened immediately, as I felt a release in pressure and then saw a strange clear ‘cap’ in the bottom of the makeshift toilet.  I immediately rang for the nurse.  She swiped some cotton swab on my inner thigh, a litmus test of sorts, which confirmed immediately that yes, my water had broken.  It was 9:35 in the morning.

And the panic set in, and who I was before that moment flushed away, as what happened next has entirely changed who I am.  What happened next broke my heart.  What happened next has dictated how I get through every minute, of every day.  It has defined my relationships with myself, with my husband, with my friends, my family and God.  It has changed my very beliefs about life and what my purpose is.  And for you to even try to understand that, I will now tell you a bit about the search for my son Finley.


I guess I first started thinking about him in late 2007, and then Craig and I started seriously chatting about him in early 2008.  So, I was over 2-years sober when we first began our efforts to get pregnant, in May 2008.

I didn’t know that I wanted a boy, and I certainly didn’t have his name in mind.  I just knew that I wanted to have a child with Craig.

Craig and I met in June, 1998.  I was 27.  He was 28.  I let him pick up on me at a great dive bar in Venice Beach called Hinano Cafe, where they serve burgers and beer, have a great jukebox and accept cash only.  It’s not the kind of place I expected to find the love of my life, so we embarked on what I presumed was a summer fling.  Over time, our lust turned into love.  And, despite the years I had spent spiraling into drug addiction – a story for another time, we formed what I like to believe was an enviable relationship.

I don’t remember the details of our first monthly efforts, but Craig and I had been together by this time for almost 10-years, and the romance in our lives had changed dramatically in that decade.  So, from the very first time we tried for our baby, there was a sense of pressure.

In June, we were heading to France for a work conference in Cannes, with plans to visit our favorite spots on the Italian coast afterwards, and as producing commercials was my profession, creating schedules came naturally.  I immediately put together a calendar of my important “woman days”.  I included when I got my period, how long it lasted, how long it had been since the previous one, and made guesstimates based upon the fine reading in those ovulation kits on when we should try.  While I’ll suppose my peers packing for Cannes that year were getting waxed and choosing their favorite bikinis, I was busy calculating how many tampons and ovulation tests I would need on the trip.

The day came on the calendar for us to try, when we were in Bordeghera, Italy, truly the most beautiful place we’d ever been. If this was in the first few years of our relationship, this would have been the perfect place to make love and conceive, but I was all about procreating, and was very, very sick with a bit of exhaustion and some sun stroke, and in between gulps of EmergenC with that oval shaped window in our room overlooking that boardwalk and sea, Craig and I had sex.

For many months in my life I was particularly grateful when I got my period, but the next time it came, I was sad and disappointed, and I decided to be more proactive in our efforts.  I was going to produce this pregnancy!  I went to my gynecologist and asked her what we should do.  She said the first thing was to test Craig’s sperm.  The tests came back that he had a lot of sperm, but there was some discussion about perhaps decreasing any baths or Jacuzzis, and it was suggested that we consider doing Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), also referred to as AI or Artificial Insemination, a process in which his sperm gets cleaned and then put inside me during ovulation – so that we have the best swimmers at work.

We tried again naturally with the guidance of the ovulation kit that August, and still, my period came.  So, we decided to move forward and try AI.

The thing about AI or any fertility effort is that it takes serious coordinating.  One can’t schedule meetings or social plans or vacations or anything having to do with life in advance, as the woman’s bodily functions dictate the plans.

First I would have to monitor how many days it had been since my period, then I would start using the over-the-counter (ovulation kit $35 – $41 depending upon if it was on sale), then I would make appointments with the sperm lab and my doctor to perform the procedure.  It would take 1-hour and $180 to clean Craig’s sperm at the Lab in West Los Angeles.  We would grab breakfast during that hour, after which Craig would return to the lab to retrieve the sperm, and we would rush to the doctor in Santa Monica (since sperm is only ‘good’ a limited time both outside and inside the body) with the sperm kept warm (the tube tucked safely in my bra), with the insemination charges at my doctor coming in at $140.  Then we would repeat all of those exact actions (and costs) the very next day.

And, to compliment those 2 medical efforts thereby truly maximizing our chances, Craig and I would also ‘get romantic’ after the 2nd AI.  I was busy producing all of the planning and definitely didn’t appreciate the stress it put Craig under to perform so exactly; there were windows of time and rules as to when the last ejaculation could be – and I dictated the information in a way that was by no means ‘romantic’.  When we’d finish, there wasn’t a lot of cuddling, but me telling him that he’d done a good job – like he had finished first in a track meet or something – as I immediately held my knees to my chest and asked for a pillow to be placed under me to elevate me at my hips, a physical position that invited his sperm to swim their way to my eggs.

All the while, I was working at a production company as the executive producer, which means I was bidding jobs, chasing leads for possible jobs, going to shoots, helping the directors with their creative treatments, traveling, and overseeing the sales staff and company’s personnel.  Adding this baby production into my daily schedule came naturally to me, but the amount of coordination and the lack of ability to EXACTLY plan stuff kept me busier than even usual.

When I didn’t get pregnant that time, my doctor said we should check my body to see how it was working.  She indicated that the first thing we should test were my fallopian tubes.

I’d been forewarned a bit about the procedure, which is called a Hysterosalpingogram, that it’s uncomfortable and there is cramping and so on, but nothing really prepared me for the very cold blue dye being rushed through my Fallopian tubes and on into my uterus via a tube, with my legs spread open, as they photographed and documented where the fluid is going, if it is moving, whether it is stopping, the shape of my uterine cavity – and so on.

I recall there being some discussion then and there, under the bright lights of the lab in which all flaws are pronounced, by the specialist – who suggested that there may be some sort of bend or intrusion or something on my uterus, but in good form for litigious and medical reasons, the technician wanted to wait to discuss with my doctor.

I was uncomfortable for a bit after the procedure, but had no choice but to switch gears and race to a music video shoot that one of my directors was shooting in Malibu, for a pop star you’ve definitely heard of named Lady so&so.

I started living a dual existence, which reminded me of my years as a drug addict, in that I had to segregate and balance two huge areas in my life; nobody in my professional life would have guessed that only an hour before I was having dye shot up my tubes with a suggestion to take it easy afterwards.

For my next visit, I switched over to a new OBGYN, who was my previous doctor’s business partner in the same practice; Dr. C, my wonderful female doctor with a fabulous Irish accent, thought Dr. B would advance my efforts in my need to find Finley.

Dr B had a very thick Israeli accent and his bedside manner wasn’t as comforting as my previous doctor.  But he would utter short phrases like “I like what I see” and “Perfect, perfect” with his hand pressed against my belly as he moved my ovaries to a place where he could see things better.  He was happy to find how my uterus looked and confirmed my tubes were operating fine, but he saw a cyst that he said needed to go away before we continued our efforts, so he put me on birth control pills for a month.  When I returned the next month, on day 3 of my period, he said the cyst was gone and we could try again, and recommended that I up the ante a bit and try a fertility drug named Clomid.  The Clomid cost was $40, and was meant to stimulate the follicles – which eventually turn into eggs that can be fertilized.  And I also was prescribed HCG, a medication that’s a ‘trigger’ shot, which induces the ovulation at an exact time that then makes the AI efforts even more timely.

On Thanksgiving morning 2008, I was on a conference call with Russia about an upcoming commercial that one of my directors was slated to direct concurrent to racing to see the on-call Irish doctor at their office in Santa Monica, to have her put the trigger shot in my ass.

Thanksgiving.  On a conference call.  Rushing to see the doctor.

And still, a couple of weeks later, my period returned, and the cyst had, too.

So after 7 months of trying in 2008, we had done 3 rounds of Artificial Insemination and still no progress.  And because attaching a monetary value to the efforts helps put into perspective the commitment needed, I will continue to outline the costs throughout this story.

Going into 2009, we’d spent over $3,000.