Praying for a new promise


I am sitting on a plane back to LA from New York, where I’ve been working for almost two weeks. It was the first time I’ve done a job there since I was pregnant with Finley.  I was glad to stay away from the things that I think of when I think about that trip, that time in my life; I am so very separated now from who I was, where I was, and the promise of what lie ahead.

This time, I stayed in a hotel in Soho, not in an apartment in Chelsea.

This time, I didn’t breathe in the beauty of any museums. I sat in what we referred to as dungeon of a location in New Jersey, as a mega-star was being caught on film in the next room, and breathed in the mold from the walls because of the recent flood.

I ran to the 15-person passenger van with co-workers after a very long shoot day, as the cold January rain turned to sleet on my head.  Last time I got happily lost in Central park in the summer rain.

I wanted to write what happened next by now, but the work I’ve been preparing for – having started a new project on the anniversary of Finley’s death – and then being in New York City – has made me too busy to be emotionally present enough to step back into the experience of my second trimester, 2009.

And I am not ready to share it with you yet.  And I am scared to write it down, because I know how that story ends.

So I shall stay in the present, which is fine I suppose, as I am experiencing enough emotion here and now to merit this side bar.

Since losing Finley, I have separation anxiety when I leave Craig.  I experience it less if he goes away for a weekend with friends – though it is present, and then it actually causes me to connect more deeply, really more desperately with my son’s spirit – than I do when I am the one who goes away.  When I go away, I get very anxious not being near him.

When I am sad or anxious, when Craig hugs me or touches my arm or I touch his back or he rubs my feet – when we have any form of intimacy – I am calmed.  I am connected to him; our energy secures the circle of love we have for each other and for our son.

So when I am not with him, I am increasingly anxious.

I remember when I had my first work trip after Finley died.  It was less than 5 months after he had died.

I had just learned that my 1st IVF had failed, while I was working out of an ad agency in Irvine. I had been so confident it would work, and when my phone rang and I knew it was my doctor’s office, I ran to the bathroom, where I received the bad news.  Minutes later, literally, I was working with a client’s cost consultants, to make sure we were getting the best deal for a job in which we would ship a couple of cars across the world to Argentina to film a commercial. Add to that, I had to drive home from this office at the end of that workday – which was 55 miles on the infamous 405 freeway.

Tears flooded my face as I gasped and clutched the wheel for dear life. I really don’t know how I made it home that day.

I don’t know how I got on an airplane days later as I was so fragile. A career woman with a personality that outwardly demonstrates strength and confidence; in a job in which I have to be assertive every hour of the day – people with whom I worked had no idea what was really happening.  But I felt like if a person looked a little closer, he could see my insides, and I felt naked, exposed; I was the skeleton of who I had been.  I was a bereaved parent, who wanted desperately to have a child, and I had just learned that I was not pregnant.

I felt rejected.

And yet days later I was to get on a plane with co-workers to head to Buenos Aires, Argentina, the travel time of which is longer than my son lived.

The day before 2 co-workers and I were to leave, co-workers who didn’t know anything about my personal life, I was feeling very high strung. I was scared to leave Craig, the only person who knows truly what I go through, and I decided to open up to my co-workers.

I walked into a copywriter’s office and asked him to come over to the art director’s office with me.  We went into her office, and I sat down and looked at them and said that I had to tell them something about myself. I remember telling them in very simple terms that I had just lost my son, and that I would work my ass off as I had been already, but at the end of the day when they wanted to go out to dinners or dancing or drinking, that I wouldn’t join, that it was too much for me. I told them that I wasn’t telling them this for sympathy, but so that they could be prepared for possible vulnerabilities, moments when maybe my guard came down, so that they could understand why.

It’s not that I needed for them to do anything differently; I just needed them to know.  They were both kind and understanding, and it came as a huge relief to have said it, as it felt like I had been holding my breath.

Simplifying it, if people don’t know what happened to me, they don’t know anything about me.

I was leading, and I continue to lead, a double life.

Craig and I had gone to our favorite resort for a weekend get-away in Ojai before I had this work trip, and we had brought his picture, and continued there our ritual of lighting a candle by his image every night.

On this trip, I intended on doing the same. I shall elaborate on this time when I get there chronologically in the ‘story’, but I will share 3 things now:

We ended up staying in Argentina one week longer than we’d originally anticipated, as the cars we had shipped over did not make it in time for our shoot, and so my anxiety level was heightened significantly.

I was about 2 nights away from running out of the candles that completed the ritual that continues to be so important to me, and when I asked the hotel if they had any, they brought up a tray of several, and I was so grateful and relieved.

A producer ends up having meetings with co-workers in her room; on every production in which there is travel, I end up with 2 – 5 co-workers in my hotel room, hovering around a computer or a speakerphone to talk about next steps.  In this case, we had to talk about implications of our hero product, these cars, not being there in time for shooting.  But the thing is – when I had returned to my hotel room that evening, the cars were supposedly on their way; it was only after I’d removed that day’s clothes and lit my candle – about to head in the shower – that I got a call that the cars were not on their way, which required an impromptu and urgent meeting in my room.  I thought about whether to move Finley’s picture, so that my co-workers wouldn’t see him and ask questions, but at the same time, I am so proud of that photo, this possession or memory which I pride above ALL else, and I left his beautifully framed picture out, next to the candle.  The creative director Robert came down to my room first. He was not one of the 2 people I had told.  As I was scrambling, working on Instant Message with the head of production who was back in LA, responding to emails, taking phone calls on both my own and my international phone, he saw the picture of Finley.  He went over to it and picked up the photo, looked at Finley, and with the frame still in his hands asked, “Who is this?”  I ignored the beeping computer and the ringing phone, and said, “That is my son Finley, who only lived one day.”  He looked at me closer, almost trying to see behind my eyes, where I hide the sadness and the pain and the truth.  “Wow.  I’m so sorry,” he said.  Robert was a good man, he was one of those guys who will ask how you are and actually wants to hear.  But more co-workers walked in, he put down the frame, and the moment was gone.  I caught him looking one more time over at my picture, as if he was trying to learn more.

I was vulnerable and exposed, but it gave me strength to speak the truth, to merge my double lives into one. For a moment anyway.

On this trip, the one I am flying home from now, I lit my candle next to his photo every night except last night – because I didn’t get to go to sleep last night, and on one of my earlier nights found great comfort in stroking the scar from the infection where my C-section was, as the candle lit up the room and shined on his beautiful little face.

The C-section scar is slight, but the infection I had, one that lasted for a couple of weeks and was gross and had a fever and was a constant reminder of the total fucking insanity that I had given birth, but had no baby to hold, caused a scar that is circular and about the size of a penny, with a very smooth texture.  Gently touching the scar connects me to the truth, that my son did come, that he was here; that this is not all a dream – even though it is a nightmare.

During one of this trip’s meetings, I had to plug in my computer to a shared screen for all to see some video clips, and a co-worker joked with me later that he had noticed that I had Googled “spiritual quotes” that morning.  We all had a good laugh about it, and I felt a little closer to not leading a double life with a couple of co-workers, as I then told them that I am searching for comfort and meaning in this life, and why.

And like all other work trips, I ended up having meetings in my room, so I had to think about what to do with his photo, once I knew that the Chairman of the agency for whom I am freelancing, was going to be in my room.

I take small and very careful steps towards merging my lives and becoming truly whole, and in this case, I chose to put Finley’s picture away, as I did not want to expose myself.

I silently spoke to Finley and let him know how proud I was, asserting that the reason I was putting his picture away was not because of my shame in not being able to protect him from his death, or any shame in the fact that he had little red marks on his face in this photo, because he had been so sick, so very deathly ill – in fact no longer living – by the time this photo was taken.

I told him I just didn’t want everyone to know about him yet, that I needed to protect him and myself.

Most mothers take every opportunity to show pictures of their sons.  I was raped of that.

And finally, the shoot was over, and I got back to my hotel room at about 4 AM for the second night in a row this morning, but this time I had to pack and shower for my 9 AM flight home.  I wore my Finley necklace in the shower. Have I mentioned this yet? I have a gold necklace I wear every single day that has my son’s name on it, as a badge of pride and honor, which often catches a light source and allows for a magical and beautiful light dance.  It is one of the ways my son visits me and my husband – this light dance – often through this oval reflection of the shape of the necklace, and sometimes there are flickers and magical light dances even when there is no light hitting it, or if it is under my blouse.  More on that later…

So I was out of the shower.  Tired, looking forward to going home, still wearing the necklace, with the bathroom all fogged up with the steam from the hot shower, and all of a sudden the light started dancing in the fogged up mirror in front of me.  First it was mild, and then the light got stronger and stronger.  And if you’re reading this, you’re already a good person, who is emotionally sensitive and generous, I propose, so I don’t mind telling you that my son visited me in this moment.  I felt his presence, strong, blue, overwhelming, as the reflection in the mirror seemed to dance with me, even when I wasn’t moving.

I have had two full days off in the past 40-something days.   I did not have a lot of sleep obviously as our shoot days went way longer than we’d hoped.  I hadn’t felt the loving touch and amazing energy of my husband in 12 days.  And there I was, standing in the bathroom that felt like a steam-room, with the spirit of my son surrounding me, dancing with me, enveloping me.

And I began to cry.  Not tears that gently flow down my face, as they are in fact while I write this, but huge tears, so big that I almost could not see the magic that was happening in front of my eyes.  I stood in that room naked, emotionally and physically, and thanked my son for visiting me.  I told him how grateful I am that we have this relationship, not the relationship a mother dreams of having with her child, but a relationship nonetheless.

I told him I love him and I miss him.  And then I cried that it’s not enough.  And I pray to G-d that G-d was listening, and that those two little embryos on ice are warming up to the idea of coming to be my husband’s and my next child or children; I pray for a new promise.

Pregnancy ’09 – first trimester


Before I stepped into real time, to honor the holidays and share my thoughts on what they meant to me this year, I had left off in this story, this detailed account of my very personal experience, in July of 2009 when we found out I was pregnant.  Now, I shall continue with that.


The first week of knowing I was pregnant was really the 3rd week of pregnancy, because a pregnancy is calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period.  I started gathering literature from friends and via the Internet about what to expect, and it eventually became a weekly tradition for Craig and I to read about that week’s progress.

The 3rd week was full of sleeplessness and night sweats.  And I was in pre production on a commercial that would shoot in August in New York, and so would work from my apartment in Venice and sometimes steal time for afternoon naps.  I spotted that week, meaning there was a little blood on the toilet paper after I wiped, and I was concerned, but the next day’s scheduled blood test confirmed my levels were appropriately rising and I was fine!

Now into the 4th week I started bleeding; at first it was spotting, but then it turned into heavy bleeding and some clots.  And I was frightened and felt very helpless and sad.  I called the doctor’s office and spoke to a nurse who said the only thing to do was to take it easy; my first ultra sound appointment was scheduled for July 24th, and there would be nothing the doctor could see and therefore do until then.  Craig was leaving on a business trip that night, but the hysteria in my voice when I called him to tell him what was happening brought him home early from work to hug me a bit before he left.  I knew I was supposed to rest, but the idea of Craig getting on a plane and leaving me made me so anxious that I insisted it would be fine if I drove him to the airport.  So I did, and on the way back got a bunch of fried chicken at Kentucky Fried Chicken drive thru, and proceeded to go home and pig out on it.  It was salty and delicious and replaced the hugs that Craig couldn’t give me on this scary evening.  I remember very vividly that once his plane touched down that he had to drive into a lightening storm, and I couldn’t reach him for way longer than I had anticipated, which made things worse for me.  But, I survived through that night, wearing a pad to catch the blood.

The same day that the bleeding had started I’d had plans with my niece to go bike riding.  When my eldest sister called me and I was obviously crying, she asked what was wrong, and I told her I was miscarrying.  She didn’t even know I was pregnant at this time; only Craig, my friend Dee – who seemed to psychically know to call me the night of the positive pregnancy test, and the doctors did, but I poured out all of the information to her and she listened and calmly said to just do what the nurse had said; that bleeding could sometimes happen and that it didn’t necessary mean I was miscarrying.

And then through the course of Craig being gone on his business trip with me laid up in bed resting as much as possible that week while working from home, but of course anxious and needing to talk about how scared I was with someone, I called my friend Cheryl to learn of her pregnancy stories and scares.  She was my oldest friend; I’d known her since I was two-years young, and with 3 children of her own, I knew she’d be a comfort.  I told her the theory that Craig and I had developed:  That I was pregnant with twins, and that one of them was miscarrying.  I had no way of really knowing this; the Follistim stimulation had resulted in 2 or 3 eggs that cycle – so there was a possibility of multiples (term for more than one baby), and this story I’d concocted saved me from thinking I was losing the ‘whole’ pregnancy, and kept me as sane as any woman who wanted a baby this badly could be for the rest of that week.

By Friday morning Craig had returned, and he dropped me off at Dr. T’s office, where in fact, we saw 2 fetuses and heard 1 heartbeat.  I couldn’t believe it.  Being told that you’re pregnant because of a blood or urine test is one thing, but hearing the heartbeat is BEYOND amazing.  It was exactly as strong as it was supposed to be.  And as far as the fact that there were 2 fetus sacks and only 1 heartbeat, Dr. T proposed that either the other would develop, or that I was, as I’d theorized, in the process of losing the 2nd one.

Craig was the first phone call I made.  Then my sister Cynthia. Then Cheryl.  I made these calls as I walked a creative way to the bus stop – meaning a way I hadn’t walked before; I had a sort of skip in my step even though I ended up walking a really long couple of blocks only to realize I needed to go a different route to get to Pico near Westgate.  When I got on the bus, I opened my backpack that held all of the things I was carrying around with me, including a couple of magazines for my reading pleasure during the bus ride.  I had carefully placed my sonogram picture safely within the pages, and took it out and peaked at it, sort of looking around to see if anyone knew what I was doing.  I felt cautious but proud and as I write this now struggle to find a better word to capture just how happy I was:

There was a sense of accomplishment along with a deep sense of understanding my body so well, considering that I had exactly predicted that I had two and was perhaps losing one.  I wasn’t happy about the idea of losing one of them, not even close.  But as I knew my body so well, as I was so aligned with myself, I was ethereal, floating a margin above where happy people dwell.

That Saturday we went out for our regular date night to a great seafood place in Santa Monica, and I felt myself bleeding during the meal, so I had to rush to the bathroom and put in one of the pads I had taken from Dr. T.’s office’s bathroom.  I was still concerned, but eventually the bleeding stopped and during next week’s 6-week check up, it was confirmed that one fetus was growing strong, but that the other had disappeared.

I would learn that what had happened is called Vanishing Twin Syndrome.  It means that one of the fetuses in a twin pregnancy spontaneously aborts, usually during the first trimester; in scientific terms: the fetal tissue is absorbed by the other twin; the placenta; or the mother; thus giving the appearance that the twin “vanished.”

The medical description aside, I was losing the possibility of a baby at this time. Since I am writing this after having lost my actual very beautiful and very real son, the fetus from July ‘09 whose heartbeat was growing stronger and stronger, it is very hard for me to sympathize with what it felt like to be me at that time. As previously mentioned, when I lost Finley, it changed who I am forever, so much so that I don’t remember who I was then.  But I think it’s important to state that I felt lucky that I had one growing, and definitely recognize how sad and difficult it is for people, specifically women, to have the loss of the dream of their baby categorized as simply as “Vanishing Twin Syndrome”.  This vanishing twin could have eventually been Henry or Harry or Sally or Adele, and the science of it all seems to underwhelm the emotional chord that exists, yes, even that early, between a parent and a growing fetus.

The next two weeks I was in pre production on what would be my most interesting production, to date.  I was working on a Public Service Announcement for an organization that our work would launch, with an Academy Award Winning Director and an Academy Award Nominated Actress.  The logistics of what we were filming and where we were filming were quite impressive, and I was happy to work hard from home, often peaking at the incredible and latest sonogram of our baby-to-be.

The next appointment would be at 8-weeks of pregnancy, just before I was to leave for my project that would take me to NYC for about 4-weeks.  I remember I was balancing way too many things that morning, such was my personality:

I took Craig to pick up a few of his friends at our friend Jerry’s house and then dropped them off at the airport; they were going to Colorado for our friends’ wedding.

I met with an attorney at a Starbucks to discuss a lawsuit I was filing against my former employer, who had breached my contract.

Then the plan was to go get the perfect travel sweat outfit, followed by an appointment with Dr. T, and then I would have to race to get my hair cut all the way in Silver Lake.

I was to travel to NY in a couple of days, and was in heavy pre production, so it was no surprise that I got a call while in the Doctor’s office that I needed to add a conference call to the morning’s activities.

All of these metaphorical balls balanced in the air, and still the moments after Dr. T confirmed the fetus was growing healthy, when Rishona told me the expected due date, stands still in time for me.

Rishona was one of my nurses, and she had a very soft voice; she tended to be a low-talker, meaning that I often had to strain to hear what she was saying.  Per my request she was putting together information onto a prescription, in the event that I needed to see a doctor when I was in NYC.  It was an unlikely need but a smart precaution to take, being that I would be 3,000 miles away from home.  On the form she was writing my birth-date, the doctor’s office’s information, and then the baby’s due date.  “Has anyone told you the due date yet?” she asked.  I shook my head.  “It’s March 18th,” she said.  “What?!” I asked, incredulous as well as uncertain as to whether I heard her correctly, since she did speak in a whisper.  “March 18th,” she repeated.

I started rambling, “That was one of my best friend’s birthdays and she died years ago and did you say March 18th?”  She nodded her head, and handed me the prescription, which clearly read the date that my dear friend Nicole would have been 40-years old, had she lived more than 3-days after her 20th birthday, so many years ago.

Everything changed for me then.  I called Craig to let him know, but he was on the plane to Colorado, so I couldn’t get a hold of him.  I had a million things on my mind, with a million things on my to do list over the next coming days, and yet the only thing that mattered to me was the enormous peace I had in knowing that my baby was to be born on Nicole’s birth-date.  I had been so nervous after experiencing the loss of the ‘invisible twin’ as to whether I would have any more problems.  But with this sign, with this obvious message and gift from my spiritual universe, I knew now that this baby was meant to be.  And I went on my way with this knowledge that seemed to propel me as if I was walking on air.

New York was amazing.  Being pregnant in New York, despite all of the madness and the August filth and heat, I felt unshakeable and unbreakable.  By this time, I had told my other sister, a couple of close friends, and a bunch of virtual strangers with whom I was working, as being in the midst of a huge and exciting production often accelerates a friendship.

We filmed at Grand Central.  There were over 100 extras and I was managing 3 shoots at once.  I went straight into post-production.  I could swear I was Super Woman.  I craved soups and bagels with cream cheese and lox, but stayed away from the lox, for obvious reasons.  First came 9 weeks, then I turned 10 weeks pregnant, while renting this amazing apartment in Chelsea and developing a routine of dry cleaning and take-out like a true New Yorker.  One day I walked all the way to the MOMA, and then from there got lost on my way through Central Park to get these cookies my sister, who at one point lived in NY, loves.  I visited with my dad’s sister and her family out in Long Island, and even embraced getting caught in the summer rain while walking to the train station.

Other than the cravings, on occasion the morning sickness was so overwhelming I’d have to grab the wall, the couch, a chair, whatever was near me, to stabilize myself while I regained my balance.  Also, I had become so accustomed to the regular doctor visits, something that is only for woman in assisted reproduction since most women don’t even know they are pregnant until sometimes 1 or 2 missed periods, that after I went to the bathroom and wiped myself, I would look at the toiler paper to make sure there was no blood.  I think I was less fearing a miscarriage, as after all, my baby would share the birth-date of my dear and dead friend Nicole’s thereby being a signal that the baby was going to be fine, than sometimes wondering if my period would come back.

Other times my imagination would make me wonder if the baby was even still inside me.

Craig would read me the weekly development of the fetus from our book over the phone to me from our apartment in Venice.  I missed him tremendously, and when we spoke felt calm and secure.

11 weeks along, and still in New York, I hadn’t told my parents I was pregnant.  For many that’s normal, as the first trimester is of course a highly vulnerable time, with 80% of miscarriages happening during this time. But that’s not why I hadn’t told them.  My parents, who I love dearly and respect a lot, weren’t normal parents ~ that’s why I hadn’t told them.  Was it their age difference?  Their cultural differences?  The fact that my mother didn’t have a father growing up?  Was it because they didn’t accept my relationship of 10-years with Craig because they liked to blame him for my eventual drug addiction – even though I started abusing drugs when I was only 15-years old living under their roof, long before I met him (and even though I’d been sober for years at this point)?

My mother had actually made a point of telling me I didn’t know how hard it was to be a parent.  Earlier that year, she had coerced me into a lunch with my sister and made efforts to sabotage my desire for motherhood.  She wasn’t clear at all why she didn’t want me to have a child.  She just ranted stuff at me.  She even made a point of having my Dad come over to my apartment and go on a walk with me, while he uttered the same thing.  Was it because I wasn’t married to Craig, that we didn’t have the legal paperwork that showed how committed we were to one another?

I didn’t know, and I really didn’t care if they thought I shouldn’t have a child, as I knew I was going to be a great mother.

Almost 12-weeks pregnant, I flew back to Los Angeles, cognizant of where the seatbelt rested on my pregnant belly in flight, and the fact that walking around the airplane was recommended to keep my blood flowing.  I hadn’t gained too much weight, but I was starting to celebrate my existing belly, which had absolutely nothing to do with the pregnancy; I didn’t care that the belly I wasn’t trying to hide wasn’t the result of being pregnant, as I was so happy with myself and my body over-all for being the vessel for my little growing baby.

Back in Los Angeles, since I’d missed Craig’s 40th birthday, I threw him a small surprise gathering that included Japanese noodles and Karaoke.

I saw my OBGYN, as now I was far enough along in the pregnancy to transfer over to him, and of course was thrilled to be entering my second trimester, when the percentage of medical issues or miscarriage decrease significantly.  Or so I thought.