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…


Everything Else Before Everything Changed, forever


Picking up after having received the good news after my 2nd amnio…


Everything began to look, taste, and even sound better.  The idea of researching a new bed with Craig on our Saturday, a mundane task by my previous definition, was truly exciting, as with the news that our little baby was fine after all that we’d been through in the past year to get pregnant and now being 20 weeks pregnant, I was overwhelmed by a sense of relief.

Craig was getting ready to go as I sat at my computer and played John Lennon’s “Watching the Wheels” for my son from my music library.  I rubbed my growing belly and sang along, and certainly smiled as I imagined myself at those Mommy & Me classes where I would sing with my baby; as I thought about how beautiful and powerful I felt as a woman, navigating through all of these obstacles to protect my child.  I updated my Facebook status with a couple of the lyrics, an effort to let people know how happy I was; I hadn’t posted that I was pregnant; typically a transparent person even before the advent of social media, we had gone through so many unknowns during this pregnancy that I had never felt safe enough to share with the digital landscape, and even at this point – out of the danger zone, I wanted to hold the pregnancy very close and safe, I suppose.

We went to to test out mattresses.  When climbing on certain ones I was careful as my belly was becoming more of an encumbrance and so it made it a bit harder for me to test all of the beds as quickly as Craig could.  The woman helping us asked if I was pregnant.  I could sense her trepidation, as I was an overweight pregnant woman, and so it was harder to be sure that underneath my stomach weight was my pregnant belly.  But it was, and I was, so I happily answered yes!  She said, “You never know if you should ask,” and I agreed, but was very happy that she had.

We went across the street to sit on more mattresses, our search acting as a metaphor for the home we were building together, for the commitment we had to each other, for the union we shared.

And then we went to an amazing Los Angeles local place called “Apple Pan” and I ate an amazing burger and fries without a single thought of ‘I ate fattening food’ guilt.

After that we went to my friend Robin’s and gathered lots of toys and clothes.  Her daughter was probably around 3, and she had a son who was almost 1-year, and she and her husband were generously giving us some really great hand-me-downs.

Our son had not been born, but that Saturday was by every definition a family day, and it was great.


By now I had his clothes for the 1st 9 months of his life, with promises of more hand me downs once the sons of Lisa, Dee, Jodi, Robin and Claire grew.  I had an infant car seat, multiple types of strollers, a bassinet, darling outfits and ones-ies and even some diapers.  My full time mission had turned into arranging to pick up these things, and then disinfecting or washing.  I went to buy the special detergent used on infant’s clothing, and so now our apartment smelled delicious like one where a newborn lived.  I went to Target and bought plastic containers and marked them clearly 0 – 3 months, 3 – 6 months, and so on.  I folded and separated and calculated what I should put on my registry, for the baby shower that my eldest sister, and my friends Dee, Jodi and Tammi were generously planning for me, to be held on January 30th, 2010.  I went to Babies R Us and took advantage of the “pregnant mother” parking spot closest to the entrance.  My sister met me there, and we went through aisle after aisle with the store gun that digitally captured the items I wanted and needed.  Toe-nail clippers, bedding, baby cups and more.  We looked at cribs, and I decided to come back with Craig to pick out the best one; we were hoping his Dad would get us the crib.


My eldest sister’s birthday was coming up, and she called me with the details, but I told her that of course I wasn’t going because I wasn’t speaking to my mother.  I guess she must have asked if I would re-consider if I got an apology, and I must have answered yes, as my mother called again.  I was now 21 weeks pregnant and she’d only called 2 other times during my pregnancy, after she uttered those hateful and unforgivable words.  This time, 9 weeks later, I did not hang up on her.  She stumbled through her apology, and asked me to remind her why I wasn’t speaking to her.

While it’s a pretty appalling thing to realize that my own mother was minimizing my feelings and shirking her responsibility of being a good mother, again, I had worked on this project regarding mental health, and I believed that she didn’t remember or realize what she had said.  I realize that she had blacked out when she had said what she had said.  I remember the look on her face that day, and she was feeling ignored because I got pregnant even though she hadn’t wanted that for me, so had turned into her other ‘self’ – a monster I’d seen appear many times throughout my life, someone who hadn’t developed good coping or communication skills; like a child who screams “I hate you” to her parents if they don’t let her eat another cookie, my own mother had limitations, and so I repeated to her what she had said.  “Really?” she responded.  “I don’t even remember saying that, and I didn’t mean it.  I’m really sorry.”  I justifiably ranted at her how hurtful it was, how disappointing it was that my own mother hadn’t even congratulated me on my pregnancy, how hard it had been without her approval….

And once I got through that, she said it was Cynthia’s birthday coming up, would Craig and I please join, as she’d like to see me.

I wanted my mother in my life, and so agreed to meet everyone that Saturday night to a Chinese restaurant in Santa Monica.  I wore a black maternity super casual dress with leggings and a jean jacket and a scarf, and Ugg boots.  I parked in the lot close to the restaurant and was the first to arrive, with my mother being the second – as my father dropped her off there before he went in search of a parking space.  She leaned in to hug me and I let her, and she handed me a card that congratulated Craig and I are on our pregnancy.  She asked how I was.  I was reserved and aloof, but I would be lying if I didn’t state that I was glad to see her.

My eldest sister arrived with her husband and beautiful little daughters, and I remember that my Dad came back – having parked his car illegally – stressed that he was going to get a ticket so after we all ordered our food, I walked out with him and got in his car to re-direct him into the parking lot that he had missed finding, in part because of his age and the stress of being in Santa Monica near the promenade with the traffic reflecting the approaching holidays approaching (it was just a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving), and in part because the sign of the structure was hard to see.

We returned to the table, me sitting as far away from my mother as possible.  When I got up to go to the bathroom, my 2 little nieces hurried behind me, asking me questions like “What is going to happen when you need to change him?  He’s going to be a boy in the girls’ bathroom?”  There were lots of giggles, and I was glad I had come out for this family dinner.


On the morning of Friday November 20th I got a weird cramp on the right side of my belly.  It made me catch my breath and later that day, when Craig returned home from work in the early afternoon, the pain returned, and Craig walked in to see me holding onto the new bedpost trying to ride out the pain.  He asked if I’d called the doctor, and I said no, I was seeing the doctor on Monday anyway, and theorized it could wait.  Craig encouraged me to call, and so I paged the on-call doctor.  Dr. C, my previous OBGYN with the fabulous Irish accent, called me back pretty quickly and asked me to describe what I was feeling.  I told her, and also said that maybe it was Braxton Hicks, something I had found on my Google search that day, which referred to contractions many women have way before they go into actual labor.  Dr. C assured me that what I was experiencing was fine and normal, to keep a log if it re-occurred, and to page her again if it continued.

I don’t recall if it happened again that night or at all on Saturday.

Sunday morning came, November 22nd and it was a busy day, you know the kind when you don’t think it’s humanly possible to fit in everything you have planned?

First I went to Target and purchased birthday presents for my niece Eliza and for Robin’s son, as well as some maternity tank tops, t-shirts and sarongs for our imminent trip to Florida – where we were going for Thanksgiving to visit Craig’s father and stepmom.  In the parking lot, I wrapped Robin’s son’s gift, before I headed over to his first birthday party.

I was a little uncomfortable at the party, as it was mostly family, neighbors, along with just one other high school friend who was there with her husband and child.  It wasn’t that I was uncomfortable meeting new people, but I did spend some time wondering why I had made such an effort to be there when I had so many other things to do that day, and Robin and I weren’t close as we used to be.  Still, it was nice to sit outside and watch a few children play and to tell people that Craig and I were expecting.

When I went into get food, I put a tiny piece of lox on my plate, and Robin reminded me that I should be careful how much I eat of that, being pregnant and all.  I had the tiniest sliver of that smoked Nova Scotia Salmon on my toasted bagel with cream cheese, and it was delicious.

When I left Robin and her husband’s home, I had to go to pick up a few ingredients that we’d missed at the market, some more water, and the dry cleaning.  And when I returned to Venice, I was happy to have found parking on the street in front of our walk-street, so that I could keep the space open for Dee and her family, who were coming over for a celebratory dinner party.

She’d been told earlier that week that her cancer was in remission, pending another scan that would review her progress in January, and we were all of course thrilled with that news.  Craig was busy preparing the ingredients for the meal, so I lugged the 2.5 Gallon Sparklett’s water bottle, the dry cleaning, and a few light bags from Target down the walk-street and into our home – and as I was doing so, Dee called to say they were moments away, so I rushed downstairs to guide them into our reserved underground parking space.

As is common with any family with 2 little boys, and as expected with Dee and how she lugged every toy imaginable with her to our beach home when she visited, we had to hold the elevator and fill it up with all of their stuff and their children, all the while Dee and David – her husband – and I chattering away.  I remember that we had either asparagus or broccoli there specifically per Dee’s request, as those greens are known to battle cancer.  I remember that I had purchased a Diet Coke for her, but had hidden it in the refrigerator, hoping she wouldn’t ask for it.  She love love loved her Diet Coke, and had been sneaking them despite cola being horribly unhealthy.  She said she was going to walk to the store to get one, with that defiant twinkle in her eyes, and David shook his head, and I shrugged, and let her know that she could find one in the fridge.

After dinner, the cramps / contracts / pain occurred while I had been sitting at my desk doing something.  I sort of crawled to the floor, and tried to explain to Dee what I was feeling – in between the sharp jabs I was feeling on my lower right abdomen. With her being hard of hearing, I was trying to speak loudly, but it was a little hard to speak loudly as I was experiencing this pain.  David heard what I was saying, and asked when I was seeing the doctor. I told him my appointment was the next day, and he asked me to call him after, to let him know what the doctor said.

Dee and I continued to sit on the floor, with her youngest son, not yet 1, crawling around between us, and asked me if we had a name yet.  We had, and quite frankly, I don’t even remember if I’d ever heard it before outside of the name of the musician Finley Quaye, but both Craig and I just loved it.  The first letter was F, a partial tribute to my grandfather on my father’s side, Felix.  She had trouble understanding what I’d said, again, because she was hard of hearing, so I wrote it down for her.  “Finley?” she asked with her nose sort of scrunched up.  “Yes,” I responded with absolute certainty, “we love it.”

As we exchanged goodbyes and Craig helped them out with all of their things, David reminded me to call him after I’d seen the doctor.

I relaxed for the first time that day, and wondered if it was possible that the cramps had re-occurred at other times during the weekend and I hadn’t even noticed them as I’d been so busy.

Second trimester 2009: nesting & amnios


WEEKS 13 – 17

My best friend Dee had been diagnosed with cancer earlier that year in March, 2009. She was in fact the first person I had told I was pregnant (after Craig of course).  I like to think she had been my lucky charm in getting pregnant, as while we were waiting those 2 weeks post insemination, she had left her youngest son’s baby pillow at our apartment because she believe that it would bring me good luck.

For the next few weeks I spent time visiting Dee either at her home or meeting at a deli in the Valley or occasionally she and her family would come to Venice, and other times I’d have to visit her in the hospital.  She, despite having a serious cancer with a 50/50 chance, two sons, and being the earner of the house-hold, found time to help me nest.  We went through her baby’s clothing and blankets and sorted through what I would need.  She explained to me why she had the little baby gloves; she explained about how nails would grow and I’d have to clip them regularly so the baby wouldn’t hurt herself.

Yes, herself: I was convinced I was having a girl, and Craig and I were sort of agreed on naming her Scarlett, though it wasn’t officially official.  We didn’t refer to her by that name, though; Craig often asked how Ziggy was, the nickname he’d created from the term zygote, which simply refers to an embryo in early pregnancy.

I was feverish on nesting, and began gathering items not only from Dee but from Jodi, mother of two, and Lisa, mother of 3.  Nesting was a great time, a very special time, made particularly enjoyable for me since I had so many friends who were happy to hand things down to me, and since I am the personality type who just loves to prepare and anticipate (read: slight case of O.C.D.).

My mother called a couple of times and I hung up on her.  I didn’t have time for any negativity in my life, and was still in shock from her behavior from when I told her I was pregnant, and so I rejected her; she was too dangerous to my fragile condition, and I was protecting my family by keeping her away.


At around week 17, I underwent my 2nd trimester blood work, in which the plan was to gauge any possible genetic issues. The test results uttered to me by my Israeli gynecologist came back with a recommendation to seek genetic counseling, interestingly enough I found, paid for by the state of California.

I was very nervous, and gathered all of the information and experiences I could from the Internet and other couples.  Different people had approached it different ways.  I recalled a story of my college friend who for her 2nd pregnancy received the same type of blood work news, had an amniocentesis, complications from which ended the life of her unborn child, mid 2nd trimester in-vitro.

While we were still a single car household, I had rented a car that week (though I forget why) so was able to meet Craig at the doctor’s office during his lunch hour. He ate the lunch I had brought for him in the lobby, and then we met with a genetic counselor.  This woman, this genetic counselor, sat across from us outlining and educating us on the possibility of issues with the baby based upon my blood test.  The chances weren’t huge that we would have a baby with down or any other syndrome or issues, but they definitely existed, in part she presumed because of my age – I had conceived at 38 and was now 39 – and in part because of other statistics.

Neither she nor the State of California were able to recommend an amnio for me, but me, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to rest for the duration of the pregnancy without knowing the health of this baby, needed to do the test.

The woman left the room to let Craig and I discuss it, but I had already made the decision, and Craig supported it.

An Amniocentesis is a procedure in which a long needle is stuck into the woman’s body, all the way into the uterus, from which a sample of the amniotic fluid is taken and then tested, to determine any chromosomal abnormalities.  Not only are there risks associated with puncturing the sac, meant to protect your baby from all of the germs and elements that your adult body carries, but there is also always risk that the puncture turns into a hole – which most certainly would cause a baby to die.

It felt very invasive; not to me personally, because by this time I was used to doctors poking inside of me, but I felt uncomfortable subjecting my little baby to this intrusion; a mother’s instinct happens very early on and mine was in full effect as I rubbed my belly and silently comforted my child.

Craig had to leave to go back to a meeting, as the consultation had taken way longer than we’d anticipated, and once he left, I was left alone in this room with an incredible 3D monitor with the doctor and the technician.

It was time I would find out my baby’s gender.

I was confident that I was carrying a girl.  I’d had a dream that I was holding my really beautiful baby, and in the dream knew she was my daughter.

And then there they were, telling me SHOWING ME I was carrying Craig’s son.

I don’t meant to be sexist, but it actually seemed too good to be true.  I felt a pride rush through me that I’d never before experienced.  Our first-born was to be a boy.  I was going to have a son.  I felt almost virile and alive and began racking my brain for our baby boy’s name.

I called Craig.  He may have almost crashed out of pure shock.  He was elated.  I had never heard Craig so happy.  Still in the doctor’s office, I then turned my attention to the amazing screen that was showing movies of my baby.  He was jumping up and down.  Literally jumping as if he was in one of those bouncies they have at little kids’ birthday parties.

There he was, bouncing away in my uterus, incredibly active, and at one point – and this is no exaggeration and I have the DVD to prove it – he looked at me and gave me a thumb’s up.

And I became less interested or worried about the results of the amnio, because now on top of the silent connection we had built, I had physical evidence of my relationship with my unborn child, my son, and I couldn’t be brought to imagine that anything would go wrong.  I had plenty of friends who’d had amnios and there had been no issues. My blood work wasn’t that alarming that an issue seemed highly likely, so I chose to be elated.

I would sit in bed for the next couple of days and tell my friends that I, who had been so confident that I was carrying a girl, now felt like a superior human being because I was carrying a boy.  I don’t mean superior like I thought I was better than anyone else, but rather, superior because I had this little baby boy inside of me and he was growing and would carry on Craig’s name and I never felt happier.  All of these emotions as I laid on bed-rest, following the doctor’s instructions exactly so as to reduce any and all issues post this high- risk procedure.

I went over our meeting with the genetic counselor in my head multiple times, in which she described different percentages of risks for chromosomal abnormalities in our baby.  She had been warm and sensitive in an ‘I-work-for-the-state-of-California’ sort of a way; while she was sensitive to decisions we may have to make, she was in no way actually warm and fuzzy and sensitive.

After we’d told her that we were going to proceed and opt for the amnio, she had defined the waiting period for the results and next steps.  “If when I call and I get your voice-mail and the news is good, I will say exactly that in the message.  If we need to speak, I will leave my phone number and ask you to call me back.”

Like any human being, I became increasingly nervous while I was awaiting the results of that invasive procedure.  10 days later, I missed her call, only to receive a dreaded voice-mail message from her asking me to call her back.  I panicked, and then called her, at which time this genetics counselor advised me, “The baby does not have down syndrome.  We took 32 colonies of cells, and out of the 32, 31 are normal, meaning that each has chromosomes of 46.  What this means is that either the baby is going to be fine, or he has an incredibly rare disease called Trisomy 18.”

I nearly had a heart attack.

She said that it was possible these findings were just an artifact from the culture, as it is a culture’s job to ‘expedite’ the growth of the cells, so instead of dividing and multiplying normally, there could have been a glitch there – in the lab, which would be a reflection of the test tube experiment, and not what’s actually in my body.

She said a lot of things, and I didn’t understand most of them, as how could my brain actually function when I had seemingly stopped breathing?

I spoke to every professional I could find. I asked whether typically a baby with Trisomy 18 might abort on its own, and nobody had any answers, as there weren’t enough case studies.

I asked if this chromosomal count was perhaps leftover from the invisible twin who we’d lost so early on, and the answer was no.

I talked to my mother-in-law.  I cried to Craig, to my friends Jodi and Tammi, to my eldest sister – to anyone who would listen.  I made a decision to have a 2nd amnio, because, as I explained to Craig through a combination of dread and tears – still without taking a breath since I had that conversation with the counselor, I wouldn’t be able to rest for the remaining 21-odd weeks until I knew about the baby’s health.

Either way.

So on October 29th I had my 2nd Amnio.  Their intention was to test 85 colonies instead of 32 as originally tested.  And in the meantime, I had asked multiple doctors to research the disease further; lest our baby, my son, did have the disease, we had to make an informed decision as to what to do.

But I don’t know if terminating was a real option. We were so desperately in love with the baby, with the knowledge we were having a son, with our son, and while the stress and emotional weight was overwhelming, I didn’t give myself too much time to explore: What if??

So I went back in, and Craig took me home, and I don’t remember exactly how I felt, other than stressed and scared and at the point when I had to remind myself to actually breathe, since it wasn’t happening naturally.

Craig and I increased our prayer patterns to praying together several times a week.  I don’t know that either of us could have increased our personal prayers, because we each already had a very strong relationship with G-d.  By this point, I was in constant dialogue with him.

A little less than 10-days later, as they had expedited the results, I got the call that baby was fine.

I called Craig and Craig’s mom and my eldest sister, and broke down, sobbing hysterically. I couldn’t believe the amount of stress I had been holding, that was now physically manifesting itself in my tears and gasps and general being.

My Jewish father had taught me many years earlier that we shouldn’t get on our knees to pray at any of my mother’s Christian family’s weddings or funerals, as Jews don’t kneel.  But on this Friday afternoon, on this occasion, I went to my bedroom, got on my knees with my hands clenched in prayer on our bed, and thanked God from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to carry my healthy son.

Punishing My Self


First off, thank you for the notes you have written, the positive energy you have sent, the prayers you have uttered; I have begun to sense in a very tangible way that my husband’s and my mission is surrounded by a circle of loving people, who expend their energy and time to wish us well. I even know one person who is putting in a prayer at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem this week, the very thought of which moves me to tears.

I haven’t been able to write anything since my “Failure” posting, just because I could not put pen to paper (for lack of a better phrase).  I have begun composing thoughts and we are diving into next steps, but it’s been important and valuable for me to sit with my thoughts, as opposed to immediately sharing them.

A few days ago I took a walk around our new neighborhood.  I just needed to breathe some fresh air and find my self in a space reserved for just me; that time of the day when the rings and buzzes and dings from all of my devices are not in hyper mode, and I invite nature in to soothe me.

I missed living a stone’s throw (if you have a great arm) from the sand of Venice Beach. We’ve moved only 2 miles inland, and it is definitely a move up, and I am in LOVE with the energy and space of our new home, but I am not able to immediately step into nature as my back yard, as I had with our previous home. (I can easily change that by hopping on my bike instead of going on foot, and that way I’ll be at the breakwaters of the Marina within minutes so that I can connect to nature, which allows me to just feel more, well, me.  We got a bike pump this weekend, so I will try that next time.)

More importantly, I saw something that both bothered me and resonated with me during this walk:  We now live near a hospital, and I saw someone’s hospital bracelet ID crumpled up next to a crushed pack of empty cigarettes with a few cigarette butts on the side, littering the grass less than a block away from the hospital – a few blocks away from our home.

I intuit this to mean that someone got discharged, and then immediately polluted his / her body with cigarettes, when it is possible that the reason they were hospitalized in the first place was related to their cigarette smoking.

I haven’t taken up smoking again (or any of my other previous unhealthy vices, which would come in awfully handy right now if I was my old self), since learning over two weeks ago that the Frozen Embryo Transfer didn’t work, even though in these past weeks I have had to work more than 80 hours per week, move into a new home, talk to my doctor about next steps, keep social obligations, and experience the deep sadness that this latest disappointing news (an understatement, obviously) has brought.

But I do notice a trend that I treat myself differently after a loss of the dream, after the crushing of the hope, after the vicious words “Not Pregnant” appear on the expensive digital pregnancy tests.  I almost punish myself: I ate McDonald’s, twice.  I haven’t taken my pre natal pills every day.  I allow myself to get stressed about work (a bit hard to avoid on this current project, anyway).

What I should be doing is wrapping myself up emotionally in my equivalent of a warm blanket or scarf and Ugg boots, those things that I equate with comfort.

I should be drinking soup and taking the vitamins which replenish my body.

Do you notice how I say my body, as opposed to me?  This is something that we really explored in my therapy sessions in ’11, the fact that I can not actually separate my self from my body, that I am one and the same, but that when I get the bad news, and I know full well that it is nothing that I did or didn’t do perfectly, I tend to want to blame someone.

Blaming G-d is no good for me; I can be mad at him or the universe or whatever my faith is, but that does not make me feel better, so that’s not really an option.

I can’t blame the doctor, as he is doing the very best any doctor could.

So I have a tendency to blame my body, which in turn means I try to punish my body.  And so I don’t eat very well and I don’t take all of those great vitamins to prepare for our next efforts, and somehow that little bit of withholding of love, as it were, gives me the control I need back.

I have had no control over the outcome of all of these fertility efforts –obviously – so punishing myself has become a habit, a very bad habit.  I am aware when I am doing it; I knew that I was running out of those pre natal pills, and yet I waited for days to re-order.  I know that getting stressed about work instead of relying on the meditation and spiritual calm is not good for me mentally or physically.

But this punishing of my self is a mechanism that is familiar; I am sure it is deeply rooted in my childhood and times when I felt like I was being punished.

(When I used to cry as a baby, around 2-years old, my parents would put me in the laundry room in my high chair and shut the door, so that I did not disturb them, their dinner; the family. I don’t know why I was crying so hard, but I can tell you with certainty that when my child has fits like that, I will pick him or her up and hold him or her; I will not put my baby in a small room, alone, and punish him/her for crying.  I was 2; I did not have the ability to communicate with words yet, and crying was my only way of telling them something was wrong.)

Of course this behavior of punishing myself for feelings I had, for inadequacies I suffered, for failure, has spanned my entire life; I was a drug addict for years, starting as a teenager and into my 30s; I took drugs, actual poison when taken to the level that I did, to make the feelings go away, because I had been taught by observation that having feelings was wrong or bad.

So it’s not surprising that I wanted to punish myself for learning that I was not pregnant, again, or still.  But I can tell you that I recovered from this behavior more quickly than last time, and the last time, more quickly than the time before.  That is due to lots of work in therapy, an unwavering faith, and a plan.

Yes, A PLAN.  We know what we’re doing next, efforts are underway, and there is a great comfort in knowing that.  We had made a long term plan last October, and now that we are where we are, we are at the point where the plan goes into effect.

While my goal in writing this blog is for others who are struggling to feel less alone, and get the love and positive energy and validation that so many of you have been generous to provide along the way, I am going to shelve what exactly we’re doing next, for the moment.  What could be so personal that I wouldn’t share with you now? – you must wonder, considering how much I have opened up thus far.  Well, you will understand better later.  But for now, I shall get back to work, and continue earning the money that allows us the luxury to chase our dreams.

My next posting will be returning back to the Fall of ’09, when I was in my second trimester, so that you can learn more about love affair I developed for my sweet Finley while he was in vitro, and how he metamorphosed into Craig’s and my own beautiful butterfly.

Until next time.



I wish I were the type of person who could get angry instead of depressed.  Depression aches like a sharp dagger pointing at my heart.  It makes it hard to breathe.  It is impossible to get the tears to stop.

The confidence that we will be parents again is there.  That is unwavering.

But the disappointment that this is not our time, AGAIN, that this frozen embryo transfer did not work, despite all of the love and the prayers and the positive energy that each of you sent to me, to us, is baffling, overwhelming, and just plain painful.

I had to save this document right now under the title of this blog posting, and without a moment’s hesitation, I decided to name it, “Failure”.  That is really the best way to put it, isn’t it?

The problem is, when something fails, someone is accountable, and I refuse to be held accountable for this.  My husband and I did every fucking thing that is medically and spiritually possible to allow for this pregnancy.

We prayed, and we held hands, and we created the best energy possible to allow for the baby.

I have bruises and welts on my butt from the progesterone oil shots that Craig stuck me with every night.

I gained weight, I suffered insomnia, I had night sweats, and yet I still woke up every day and did my job so that we as a dual income house-hold could stay the course and deal with the incredible costs.

We have paid over $12,000 in fertility bills in ‘13.

We paid $58,390.89 in ’12.

(And I don’t feel like going through the other years at this moment.)

That sort of dedication SHOULD be rewarded. That sort of commitment to the idea of loving, protecting, nurturing, dancing with, playing with, tickling, and hugging a child SHOULD be achievable.  It’s not like I’m praying for a new car.

And it will be rewarded. I know that. Craig knows that. But for fuck’s sake, when?

We move into a new home this Friday. It is 3 bedrooms and 2.5 baths. We have been gathering our items to move, which includes all of Finley’s baby items, from the area in the closet that I typically refuse to acknowledge.  We have plenty of clothes and carriages and cute toys for Finley’s brother or sister, just waiting.  (Well if we have a girl, actually, I imagine we’ll have to get lots of different clothes.)

I have had to hold pre production meetings with corporate car clients while having a high fever and sweating the whole time. I have been on commercial film shoots with severe colds.  I have had conference calls during which I ran to the bathroom to throw up because of a crazy flu that made me hallucinate.  – You know the saying: The show must go on.

But today, the pain is so great, the depression so overwhelming, that I have to work from home. I had no choice, really: My typically blue eyes are blood shot.  My noise is swollen and red.  My complexion is puffy.  And my sadness is palpable; I imagine if anyone besides Craig saw me, they would not be able to focus on what I might be saying, because they would be sidetracked by the incredible depression I am both showing, and feeling.

We will be OK.  The baby will come.  There is more than one way to become a parent.  But for today, I am sad, and because you have all become a support group to me, and let me know that I am not alone, I wanted to share this.

To be continued.

The Waiting


I can’t help but think of the lyrics from the Tom Petty song “The Waiting is the hardest part.”

I mean it is not the hardest: holding my infant son as he took his last breath was the hardest.

Seeing the words “Not Pregnant” on the pregnancy tests I’ve taken almost every month for the past 3-years has been debilitating.

But the waiting in between embryo transfer and the day that I will know if I am pregnant is – while not the hardest thing I’ve endured – very, very hard.

As always, I read signs into every single feeling in my body. I have a friend who constantly tells me how in touch she is with her body, and I understand that to an uncomfortable and hyper degree.

I feel my blood going through my veins.  I imagine my arteries all around and leading into my uterus as a freeway with no traffic; like those pictures people would post on Facebook as the first cars to be driving on the infamous 405 after it was closed for construction on what we Los Angeleans referred to in that witty play off words as Carmegeddon.

When I have a successful bowel movement (pardon my graphicness), I practically congratulate my body for doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing.

I have felt sensations in my uterus; I haven’t felt the latching of the embryos like a pinch – but the last time I felt that pinch, I didn’t get pregnant; I didn’t feel it the two times that I was officially pregnant, so perhaps that pinching sensation I remember was the embryo detaching, because it wasn’t chromosomally normal? – which means that not having felt that pinching is a good thing.

I have other symptoms that could mean I’m pregnant, but since I am on Estrogen, Medrol, and Progesterone at this point, which are all supplements which are meant to help keep the pregnancy, it is impossible to know if the symptoms of fatigue or occasional awareness of my uterus or being highly emotional are because I am pregnant, because I am about to get my period, or actually caused by the medication.

I like to use a trick my friend Lisa taught me.  (Lisa also struggled with fertility and now has a full house of three little boys (one set of twins) – and she also used Dr. V and referred me to both my acupuncturist and my special $100/month pre natal pills.)

Lisa says, “I would tell myself I am pregnant, until I knew I wasn’t.”

So for all intents and purposes: making sure to eat well, to not carry anything heavy (10 pounds is the maximum I will carry right now, no small feat since I lug around a computer every day and am in the process of preparing to move to a new home), and trying to rest (even though it was 3 AM as I typed this, with less than 4 hours of consecutive sleep) – are highest on my list of priorities right now.

I take breathing breaks during the day, per the advice of both my therapist and acupuncturist.  Sometimes it means a 10-minute walk around the block; sometimes that means stepping outside for 3 minutes; sometimes it is as little as taking a little longer while in the bathroom to breathe in – to invite oxygen to flow through my body and make its way to the beautiful embryos who will have attached by now – 5 nights after the transfer.

Since we transferred 5 day embryos, who thawed at 95% capacity, which is the highest mark that Dr. V’s embryologist will ever give to thawed embryos, science theorized that the embryos could have latched onto to my uterus immediately, or within up to 48 hours of the procedure.

I was mandated to be on bed-rest directly after the transfer, which was a fantastic reason to be lying in bed and having a date with my DVR.  I had work to do that day, but taking valium as prescribed both before my transfer and as I lay in bed calmed my body down so that I did not get anxious or tense or do anything that would possibly expel what I hope will turn into a child.

I saw my spiritual healer the day after the transfer, for one of my favorite sessions with her ever.  I won’t use her name, and I will explain at another time how this woman has come to be in my life, serendipitous indeed, but I will say that she is definitely a beautiful angel who is gifted and able to shift energy fields and rely on her relationship with G-d and my own faith and guardian angels to invite my true spirit to enter my being.

Very immediately, upon her gently touching her hands to the bottoms of my feet, as I lay on what is equivalent to a massage table at her house, I felt energy rising up from my feet to my uterus.  There was warmth and tingling in particular areas, and in her very calm, gentle, loving voice, with a hint of true joy, she said, “There are both with you, just hanging out.  It is very strong.” She was referring to the spirits of the embryos.

My understanding is that the spirits hover over and make sure that they are ready and that their parents are ready, and sometimes they know you from a past life, and sometimes it is a spiritual contract, and that at this stage, they know who you are, or in this case, who me and my husband are, and that once they are born and brought into the physical world, they have no outward recognition of who that spirit is, unless of course they are enlightened individuals, which can certainly be the case.

She told me that she sensed a boy, and that he felt holy. She told me that the boy spirit said to tell me that used to be good friends with Craig and he couldn’t wait to see him again.

Me, with my head resting on the other end of the table and my spiritual healer at my feet, lifted my head quickly, “Perhaps it is his friend Tom who died almost two years ago?”

“Maybe, but more likely it is someone he knew in a past life.”

Now if you don’t subscribe to this sort of thing, you don’t subscribe to this sort of thing.  But like many people whose faith has increased due to things going wrong (why do you think there are chapels in hospitals?), I entirely accept that my healing experiences with this woman are real.  

I lay my head back down and cinched my eyes closed so that I could see the energy shifting through my body.  I felt blood flowing, I felt peace, and most importantly and uniquely, at the thought that she felt this presence of my spirit baby this strongly, I experienced joy.

She shifted positions after awhile, and came over to my right side where she put one hand underneath my chest and her other hand above my heart.  In her quiet whisper, she said, “Now I am working on healing the pain you felt when you were an embryo at the same stage.”  (She was referring to when I was an embryo in my mother, very early on – as early on as the embyros that are hopefully forming into my baby or babies as I type.)

I responded not intellectually or even emotionally, but sort of as if I was in an altered state, since during these healing sessions I am conscious yet not in a linear way.  “My mother didn’t know what she was doing.  She was overwhelmed by the idea of having three kids.”

Now I don’t know this to be true from my mother directly, though I need only think of everything I know about my family and how she was a young mother caring for three little children while my father was busy working very hard in his career to support us, but when I responded that way, it was almost as if I was responding from a place of forgiveness for what I must have felt spiritually, when I was in vitro.

There are many studies that indicate that when babies are forming in the womb they sense what their mother is feeling.  In my case, a baby forming inside me would feel love, be reminded constantly that he or she is wanted, and be told daily that any stress I feel has nothing to do with them; that they must not take on any of the stress my body and mental state has from my work, from fertility efforts, from marriage; from anything in my life. I am constantly telling them that their only job is to grow strong, and stay.

In many cases with women who are not in touch with them selves, these embryos at an early stage could begin to inherit the DNA of the stress the mother feels while they are in the womb.


In my mother’s case, according to this healing session, when I entered her womb at this early stage, because my mother was not connected to her self, because she was perhaps so overwhelmed with motherhood; with her life, I was not comforted, I was not reminded that her stress was not to be mine, and thus, I felt abandonment and inherited that into my DNA.

(Interestingly, I have inherited much of my father’s emotional DNA as well over the years, as a young child and way into adulthood.  And of vital importance, neither of these theories is being communicated with any sense of blame on them.)

At the end of my session, I opened my eyes, and as always, I could see her hands raised over my body doing the last of the cleansing for the morning.  We locked eyes, “I’ll be right back,” she said.

Always when these sessions are over, she leaves the room for a couple of minutes, to let me re-group.

Immediately and always after these sessions, I stretch and get up and walk over to the mirror to look at my self.  My eyes are never more clear and my spirit never more obvious and my face never more beautiful than when I am done with these sessions.  I have a very nervous energy on any given day, and yet the moments after these sessions, I feel serenity, and inklings of joy.

My healer returned to the room to have what I think of as our ‘spiritual debrief’.  “Tell me everything,” I said.

She told me that the last part we worked on was some pain of abandonment that I felt early on in the womb; that typically this is work that she does with a person much earlier on (we had been working together for over 13 months by now), but that we had to clear out other paths and issues from early childhood before we could get to this.

She said that she watched my angels wrap me in a cocoon to protect me, which was made of gossamer – which usually means something light and delicate. She noted that she thought it was particularly sweet of them to wrap me in a cocoon, because of my affinity for and relationship with butterflies.

I later looked gossamer up, to learn that Lycaenidae are the second largest family of butterflies in the world, whose members are called gossamer-winged butterflies.  I have confirmed with my healer that she didn’t know this association.  Magical.

I asked her more about the spirits of the embryos. She said there was a boy who was very strong, and that later a girl came.  She said that she didn’t know if she was supposed to tell me about the boy knowing Craig from a past life, but that the spirit prodded, “Tell her!”

We hugged and I thanked her and we locked eyes and I asked her the question that only G-d and time can answer:  “Is this going to take?”  She said right now they are very strong, but anything can happen, but she is hoping this is it, too.

That was last Sunday, one full week ago now, and the day after the transfer.

This morning I saw her again, anxious and full of fear and palatable nervousness about the pregnancy test I will be taking soon.  The session went great.  She did more work on the healing that I needed help on from when I was an embryo, and when we had our spiritual debrief, she told me she felt a little girl snuggling into the left side of my uterus. The left side of my uterus, I must tell you, throughout this hour long session, was tingling and heated and very active.

I don’t know what will happen when I take this test. I do know that no matter what, Craig and I will be fine; we will be parents to our next child or children soon – it is just a matter of when.

To be continued.

Putting my eggs into one basket


My faith

My faith

Despite the famous saying not to do just this, this morning I am putting all of my eggs into one basket.

The basket is my beautiful, warm and cozy, nurturing, nourishing, capable, and quite competent uterus.

The eggs are my embryos, which are comprised of my beautiful eggs and my husband Craig’s winning sperm.  (Even as a writer who loves words, I don’t know how much I can romanticize sperm.)

I’ve done everything I could, things I’ve detailed in the past as far as taking my medication on time, incorporating the treks to the valley for doctor visits in the early morning hours of my work days or on weekends; I’ve prayed to God and I’ve prayed to my spirit babies; I’ve even – for out of 11 days – dieted strictly for 8, with 3 days still being highly conscientious about what I eat, though not as disciplined.

I had acupuncture first thing Thursday morning.  Am I his only patient who walks in while on the phone with a client and tells him to cut the session short so I can accommodate another one of this client’s last minute fire drill (pain in the ass) requests?  No matter; I have a trick that allows me to quiet myself when my mind is appropriately spinning for solutions and options while metaphorical balls of production hover up in the air:

I invite me, Lorraine Kraus, to enter my body. I know that sounds crazy (even as I write it, I am trying to think of a better way to explain it).  I have been guided (by my spiritual healer) that I have to enter my self:

So much of the time I am acting as the woman at the grocery store trying to act civilized even when the person behind me is an item counter and I’m in the 15-items or less line, with 16 items.  I am Craig’s wife at an engagement party of his friends, making small talk with relatives of people I don’t even know.  I am my parents’ daughter, or my nieces’ aunt.  Most of the time I play the role of a commercial producer on the latest in a series of impossible projects, with clients relying on me, vendors reporting to me, and me reporting to my associates. Much of the time I am the woman in the waiting room at the fertility office, judging all of the women that are there – sizing up who is there for her first time; what level of fertility efforts she and her husband are at; wondering how they are affording these exorbitant costs; sometimes annoyed that this other patient has brought her first child with her – often proof that the efforts work – but annoying to me nonetheless.

So I invite my true self to enter my body, with my eyes closed, often my arms at my side and my legs uncrossed so I can make sure to unburden my spirit of any physical roadblocks, and I take deep breaths and wait for my self to come back in. Sometimes I see energy shifting behind my closed eyes; the colors change throughout this meditation, and there are often shapes that go with the colors; I often see a lot of blue and a lot of dark pink.  Sometimes, on rare and my favorite occasions, I have seen a light baby blue color, which I am confident is Finley. It’s a blue so pretty that you’ve never actually seen it; I have looked in art and nature, and I have never seen the exact hue, but when my eyes are closed and I am inviting the true essence of me to enter, my son’s spirit sometimes visits.

Whether or not that beautiful soul comes to visit, often during these meditations I am almost jarred out of the calm as I sense the physicality of the experience through happy tears or a smile forming around my mouth.  It is almost like when I am truly in my self, centered in what is real in the universe, as opposed to my living realities of going to the market or parties or work or to the doctor; living in this state of purgatory, I have a confidence that I am on the right path, which brings true serenity.

Anyway, I was able to do that for short stints of the 30-minute session with my acupuncturist on Thursday, and it definitely helped.

Friday, March 1st, I awoke very happy despite March being a dreaded month for me; March has contained emotional land mines for me since 1990, when my friend Nicole died.

Nicole had turned 20 on March 18th.  On March 21, while she was driving back from Spring Break in LA where we all lived to Tucson, where we went to school, she got in a car accident. While her best friends were picking up a cake and getting ready for her birthday party, reservations with a party of around 12 girls for later that evening, Nicole died.  And every year since, until December 2009 that is, her death and that loss was the worst pain I had experienced.

And Finley’s due date was March 18th.  When I had first heard that was his due date, as you may recall from an earlier posting, I was confident that Finley was my son; that nothing would get in the way of him making it to me; that he was, as they say, meant to be.  While G-d re-wrote that storyline, I created an alternate truth that perhaps he was a gift to her in heaven.  Early on I would ask her in my prayers to make sure he’s OK, that he’s warm, has enough to eat, that he is happy.  Regardless of how it all works “up there”, I know they are together.  When March 18th came in 2010, the day that he was supposed to be born, it was one of pain and dread.  But over time, over these 3+ years since he was actually born and then died, the date has lost most of its pain to me, though I still am very aware of it (and of course aware of how it must feel for Nicole’s dad this time of year, with whom I’ve sadly lost touch over the years, since I as a fellow bereaved parent relate to him more than I ever wanted).

Also in March is my sobriety date: March 5th I will have been sober 7-years, no small feat indeed. (I mentioned in my last posting, when I commit to something, I really commit J)  And while that is a happy anniversary of which I am truly proud, I remember the days leading up to the decision to let my Dad drive me to drug rehab – something my family and friends had been begging for me to do for months by this time.  My laundry was dirty; my car was filthy and I had driven to their house with my gas tank on red; I was a lost soul slowly killing myself in an effort to kill the pain (I was soul sick, something that I will describe in another book, one day perhaps).  So I can’t help but think of where I was 7 years ago now, with my laser sharp memory remembering details about those days immediately prior to me admitting that I had hit, when I had fallen flat on my ass; reached my bottom.

And then most recently adding to the reasons why March is hard for me is the fact that 2-years ago tomorrow, the original, the special, the hilarious, the complicated, and the absolutely fantastic soul of one of my best friends – Dee – left her body, after her long and painful balls out (pardon me) fight with cancer.  I found out just after 8 in the morning March 3rd 2011 as I was in my taxman’s office. Can you imagine?  Insult to injury to the ninth.  Our friendship that spanned 20-years is part of my DNA, and I miss her.

So I started my March madness on the morning of March 1st very cognizant of the landmines that are in this month.  I took a walk to the Venice Pier. I chatted with Dee’s husband to hear how he is and how he and the boys will honor our beloved Dee this weekend.  I saw a dolphin. I breathed in the air.  I sat in my secret garden and hoped for a butterfly sighting; I didn’t see one, but as I was sitting there I played the Kenny Loggin’s song “This is It” over and over, to remind the universe that THIS is my time.  Do you know the one?

“You say that maybe it’s over.  Not if you don’t want it to be.  For once in your life, here’s your miracle.  Stand up and fight.  This is it.”

Yes, I shall admit it: I love that song.

It is scary to write as my hope has become a liability, but I must embrace my hope with open arms:  Next March I want to look back on this March as the month I learned I was pregnant again.

I am currently the insomniac doing some writing, with only the glow of the computer (and some electronics) lighting up my office area, with now less than 2 hours to go before I am lying on a table with acupuncture guiding my blood flow, on a valium to relax my body and ibuprofen to guard against the pain, with a full bladder so that shortly Dr. V can see the outline of my uterus as clearly as possible before he sticks a catheter in me to test the plan of where he is going to place the embryos, just before the Asian female embryologist, who I don’t speak much to, but I like a lot, comes in the room where my legs will be wide open and placed into stirrups, with my husband at my side holding my hand and praying with me, and asks me my name, to confirm that those embryos, those beautiful embryos who I so desperately want to turn into my child or children, are mine, before Dr. V does the real procedure, by slowly placing the catheter, now with the embryos in it, back into my vagina, where he finds the perfect resting point – not near a scar that I have in my uterus which is likely from having a pre term C-section; when he puts all of my eggs into my basket.

Thanks for your love and support.

IVF #13


It’s almost the end of February, 2013, and I recently had my 13th egg retrieval.  I had gone in on day 3 of my period thinking that we would proceed and ready my body for the transfer of my two frozen embryos, who are still waiting for us patiently, on ice, in a state-of-the-art refrigerator in Tarzana – wrapped warm, I like to think, in the blanket of our love for them, but when the doctor saw that I had 6 follicles on day 3, we decided that we should stimulate my ovaries instead of transferring the embryos we already have.

The progress was fine along the way; there were the moments of concern that my estrogen was too low at first, and then it rose appropriately.  If the growth of the follicles wasn’t impressive, the estrogen comforted my doctor with the knowledge that yes, my follicles were growing appropriately. There were cysts, as there always were, but they weren’t growing that much, and so would not interfere by polluting my estrogen count with false hope.

- my belly after several days of medication

– my belly after several days of medication

I ended up on the medication for 11 days.  I think that is my new personal best.  By the end of the cycle, my belly was bloated to the max; it was bruised, terribly and grotesquely bruised from the daily shots of two to three medications.  My senses were heightened in the most uncomfortable way; the side effects always made me irritable or sweaty or increase my insomnia, but after 11 days, the anxiety I was feeling was irritating, and painful.  But I have gone through enough that I am able to separate normal anxiety from that which the medication causes.  I can feel the pain and anxiety, and close my eyes and remind myself how powerful the medication is, that this feeling will not last forever.

There was one round of a screaming match between Craig and me during the cycle.  This was not unusual; in fact, it was downright predictable.  My senses were heightened and I was feeling the pressure and he said the wrong thing, at the wrong time, and since I was feeling overwhelmed by the 3-times a week doctor visits to the valley in the middle of an insanely high pressured post-production and the invasion of my vagina and the drawing of the blood and the scrutiny that I fell under as a woman as I was measured and judged in terms of follicle size and estrogen amount, coupled of course with the deep and soulful longing to hold my child, I had a breakdown.

This time we fought about my weight, and the fact that the only thing, very truly, the only thing I haven’t done “perfectly” in regards to my efforts, was lose it.  Of course I have multiple excuses why I should not have to diet:

I have asked multiple specialists if being overweight could interfere at all with my fertility efforts. The answer was no.

I am sober for coming up on 7-years.  My remaining vice is food.

I have more pressure on me than any one person should have, between professional stresses and being responsible to help achieve my husband’s and my personal dreams.  Adding restrictions on food requires great intent, and that to me feels like another full time job.

Oh, and overweight women get pregnant all.the.time.

Still, he is right; that is the one health area that I have not perfected, and of course an area I am highly sensitive about, so I broke into tears and we screamed at each other for a bit.

And then the next day I had my egg retrieval, and they got out 3 eggs.  I was thrilled.  And then the next day only 1 of them had fertilized.  I was disappointed that more hadn’t fertilized, but happy nonetheless. And then the next day I learned that instead of being at 4 cells, my embryo was only 1 cell.  I was concerned; that was not good news.  On Thursday it was still at 1 cell, and so we knew that we would have nothing new to transfer.

11 days of medication.  About $10,000 in medical costs on this round alone.  And no egg to add to my basket, my lovely, frozen embryos basket of two.

Devastated, but not defeated, I made an appointment to chat with the doctor.  We spoke, and he was very clear that just because I had a bad cycle, didn’t mean that this was the sign of bad things to come; it was not as if I was going into pre menopause; I just had a bad cycle. Hell, only 2 months before I had produced eggs that upon meeting Craig’s sperm became strong enough to create 1 Blastocyst and 1 Morula that made it to the freezer.  (Blastocyst is an embryo at 5 days of development; a Morula is where the embryo should be at 4 days, which means that this one was either just a little behind, or would not make it once thawed.)

Dr. V, my Israeli fertility specialist, among the top 3 in Los Angeles – high praise indeed, whose expertise and knowledge I trust academically, and who is very committed to Craig and I emotionally, and I came up with the plan: wait for my period and prepare my body for the frozen embryo transfer (FET). We went over all of the details of how this time is different: I’ve never transferred embryos that have been frozen. I have always done transfers right after the magic poison courses through my body, which some scientists theorize is a reason that frozen embryo transfers are often more successful.  We did poor man’s genetic testing, in the sense that we let the embryos grow to day 5, as if they hadn’t made it, we would not have frozen them.  (Many doctors believe that if an embryo doesn’t last until 5 days in the laboratory, it won’t last in the woman’s uterus.)

We had a plan.

But still, the nagging thought came into my mind what Craig said: What if losing some weight could change things? What if my love for Lindt chocolate is interfering with the embryos attaching?  What if?

I contacted a peer who I knew had experience with cleanses, and was put in touch with a woman who would help me.

The task:  reduce the inflammation.  I couldn’t lose significant weight in two weeks, but at the very least, I could reduce the inflammation, which is the number one side effect of Follistim, that magical poison that has been stimulating my ovaries every other month for about 3-years.

The solution: have a woman prepare all of my meals for 4 days, done 2 days at a time so the organic ingredients remain fresh.

The cost: $360

My period came like clockwork, something I do not take for granted, and so I made my appointment to see the doctor on a Saturday morning.  I hiked first, which required me to wake up at 7ish on a Saturday to head to Malibu from Venice, before I drove from Malibu over Topanga Canyon to Tarzana for my 9:30 appointment.  The lovely female specialist at my doctor’s practice confirmed my uterine lining was exactly where it should be.  I let her know that it had to be perfect, absolutely, in order for us to proceed, and put me on estradiol, which I was prescribed to make sure that my estrogen would be regulated for the next several days; to encourage my uterine lining to develop.

I had never had issues with uterine lining development in the past, but needed the assurance that we were operating under optimal physical conditions to proceed. I’ve gone through too much, lost too much, to keep on taking such enormous risks, and I’m not even referring to the measurable risks.

My own hope has become a risk.

Once assured that everything was exactly as it should be, I proceeded to start the estradiol, twice a day.  Already an emotional woman, I was now taking tiny blue pills that made me even more emotional.

I did a 4-day food cleanse. The thing about me is that once I commit to something, I really commit, and so even while working in post production, with people seemingly dedicated to bringing me lattes or juices or sushi or cookies or anything I could dream of at multiple junctures of the day, while I am glued to my computer or to conference calls or to watching special effects done on the best television monitors imaginable (which often feels like watching paint dry), I stuck to the menu provided.  There were delicious smoothies, and there were juices that made me gag because there was too much of some healthy, weird ingredient that was unfamiliar to me and unfriendly to my taste buds.

On the 4th day of my cleanse, I returned to the doctor’s office, to see my specialist who I sometimes refer to as the wizard, to confirm that everything was developing exactly as it should. We talked about the perfect day to do the transfer, and I let him know that if at all possible – without risking an ounce of the probability of this working, I would prefer to do this on a weekend.  He thought about it for a moment, and then said yes, we could do it in a week, on Saturday, March 2nd.  “Seriously, if by doing it Saturday this decreases my chances like point 1 percent, we can’t do it.  I just don’t want to be stressed with work and want to create the best environment for myself.”  “The only issue is that now I have to work on Saturday,” my doctor responded.  “Do you mind, Dr. V?” I asked; “If we do it Friday and I have to take work emails and this doesn’t work I will wonder if that’s why….”  He interrupted, “I would not do it for anyone else, but I will do it for you.”

There are not a lot of benefits to being a repeat customer in the fertility realm, but him knowing me and being willing to change his personal schedule to accommodate me is definitely one of them.

I drove to the specialty pharmacy in Westwood to pick up about $350 in additional medication, progesterone oil, which helps keep pregnancies safe.

I kept thinking of the percentage of chance Dr. V had uttered to me in a previous conversation: A Grade A embryo like mine allowed a 35 – 40% chance of resulting in pregnancy.  But women get pregnant all of the time with less than Grade A, too.  I would just have to stay calm and outstretch my arms and pray.

I decided not to continue the cleanse officially, but to take that learning from those 4 days and apply it best I can, so I went to the market and bought some of the teas and a few other fresh ingredients, and have committed this week to keeping the chocolate down to 1 square a day, at the most, not eating pasta even if my husband is eating chicken parmesan right next to me; to just do the best I can to decrease the inflammation.  Shortly I’ll be having some sashimi and seaweed salad and having a green juice as my snack later, with salmon in the fridge for dinner, so I think I’m doing pretty well!

And more than all of the ‘actionable’ things that I am doing, I close my eyes, and invite those beautiful little spirits who I KNOW are out there waiting to be my child or children, yes, children, and take the biggest risk of all:  I hope.

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.

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.