Saturday, September 15, 2012

"But there’s something beautiful about this too."

Sharing this article now because it just seems like the right time. A good friend (thank you Alisha) and Myers both found it and shared it with me a while back... and needless to say, I found it wonderful and fascinating. My heart already believed this but now science is supporting this beautiful reality. I love it when science and the heart align.

"Our Selves, Other Cells"

"Is it any solace to sentimental mothers that their babies will always be part of them?

I’m not talking about emotional bonds, which we can only hope will endure. I mean that for any woman that has ever been pregnant, some of her baby’s cells may circulate in her bloodstream for as long as she lives. Those cells often take residence in her lungs, spinal cord, skin, thyroid gland, liver, intestine, cervix, gallbladder, spleen, lymph nodes, and blood vessels. And, yes, the baby’s cells can also live a lifetime in her heart and mind.

Here’s what happens.

During pregnancy, cells sneak across the placenta in both directions. The fetus’s cells enter his mother, and the mother’s cells enter the fetus. A baby’s cells are detectable in his mother’s bloodstream as early as four weeks after conception, and a mother’s cells are detectable in her fetus by week 13. In the first trimester, one out of every fifty thousand cells in her body are from her baby-to-be (this is how some noninvasive prenatal tests check for genetic disorders). In the second and third trimesters, the count is up to one out of every thousand maternal cells. At the end of the pregnancy, up to 6 percent of the DNA in a pregnant woman’s blood plasma comes from the fetus. After birth, the mother’s fetal cell count plummets, but some stick around for the long haul. Those lingerers create their own lineages. Imagine colonies in the motherland.

Moms usually tolerate the invasion. This is why skin, organ, and bone marrow transplants between mother and child have a much higher success rate than between father and child.


How many people have left their DNA in us? Any baby we’ve ever conceived, even ones we’ve miscarried unknowingly. Sons leave their Y chromosome genes in their mothers. The fetal cells from each pregnancy, flowing in a mother’s bloodstream, can be passed on to her successive kids. If we have an older sibling, that older sibling’s cells may be in us. The baby in a large family may harbor the genes of many brothers and sisters. My mother’s cells are in my body, and so are my daughter’s cells, and half my daughter’s DNA comes from her dad. Some of those cells may be in my brain...

But there’s something beautiful about this too. Long post postpartum, we mothers continue to carry our children, at least in a sense. Our babies become part of us, just as we are a part of them. The barriers have broken down; the lines are no longer fixed. Moms must be many in one."

-Full article here-

Gwen is always with us in many ways. we know that - and now we know she is with us in a weird-special-way. She is with her baby-brother-on-the-way even as this little guy will never have crossed paths with her in his lifetime, nor her with him. So that's kinda sweet to think on - that she is with him and with us in this mysterious way.

We are setting up her little brothers blog (waiting for blogger to fix a problem) and just trying to wrap our brain around the new big change coming soon! Back to two kids again. Switching, if you will, from being parents of two little girls, to a boy and a girl (here with us, that is). And feeling as if we are holding our breath - because we don't know what tomorrow will bring - we stay safe in each day and are hopeful about what's next, but we know that we are not promised anything, that there is a bigger picture beyond our little world of wishes, dreams and wants and needs. It's not that we don't trust God - it's that we have no choice but to Trust - to trust what is behind us and ahead as all that will be worked for Goodness -that it already has been - and at the same time, to do what we can to that end while existing in our tiny moment here.

I'm trusting that beyond, beyond the weak and fearful, doubting and cynical aspect of my nature now that when I let my heart speak, even as it seems totally naive, that is when I'm letting Trust lead. "Faith like a child" and believe me, when you witness this in a child you really see what that means - I admit jealousy when I see Lil's complete trust in God, that Gwen, and "the list"...are all with Him. She spouts it out as if it is an innate part of who she is to Believe and Trust God. So, I'm an trusting, that in those moments, when I settle down and turn to what is God - which is Love, that's when truth is speaking to me... as I do believe that Love is beyond humanity, not natural, not our inclination but something we have to constantly work towards, anew everyday - elusive because we are not naturally able to host it - except for the grace of God (the gift of the Holy Spirit...).

Some favorite lyrics of mine read:

"The heart can see beyond the sun
Beyond the turning moon
And as we look the heart will teach us
All we need to learn ]
We have dreams, we hold them to the light like diamonds
Stones of the moon and splinters of the sun
Some we keep to light the dark nights on our journey
And shine beyond the days when we have won

The heart can see beyond our prayers
Beyond our fondest schemes
And tell us which are made for fools
And which are wise men's dreams

Trust your heart"

It is beautiful to think, that beyond our prayers, the heart can see... and I'm am Trusting in something science will never touch. But to live, we need beauty, not just science - and I find beauty - beauty even and especially in science (because it is there too), is what causes me to step back in awe and think, "God."  - I don't confess to know or understand more than that... and I also, really, truly don't have to - there is no time - because love is elusive and I'm human and "our days are as grass." 

Gwen, we think of you everyday. Everyday. As we welcome your new brother soon, you are no less a part of our family. You are ours to miss, here. Your life will always be a blessings - we are better for having known you... we have more love to give because of the way your tiny lifetime deepened our hearts - both by way of joy and sorrow - albeit not ever the way we wanted or dreamed - but I Trust that "my heart can see beyond"...and there is Beauty beyond, there is Beauty here now, even as I'm always aware of the empty place where you once lived - I claim your life as beautiful and I will always hold it dear...don't let the tears fool you. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Protecting the unprotectable..."the whole puzzle of being a parent"

May 14th post... I found this in my drafts. I guess I intended to sit on it and edit it or wait and see about posting it...anyway, I'm it is... my rambles from May 14th this year -- the anniversary of two sudden deaths.


I'm quieter here, on Gwen's blog...but not for lack of thoughts about all... all that's happened.  Most times I long to get back here... but I'm known for spreading myself too thin. I'm known for burn-out. I'm known for lack of balance and feeling ten-steps behind where I want to be in life. Why should it be different in grief? It's just another aspect of my life now.

And I know what it means to compartmentalize. It's survival, in loss of a loved one. You don't "get over" it. You compartmentalize it. But, it's always there. But your mind constructs a special place for your grief to live. It is accessible whenever you need to feel it. Sometimes the door falls open and you don't have much choice but to let it all fall on top of you. That's all "healing" is in grief. Compartmentalization. It's not something any more or less human than a simple coping mechanism. It's because time keeps on going, you just don't get a choice. Healing is only answered by the Hope of the Eternal. But for now, in human form, the ever-living anguish is set aside so you can breath, since to live, you must breath.

But I can say, I know now, about those paintings...the so called Vanitas paintings; the lemon, half-pealed, the candle wick with smoke curling up, or the vase over-flowing with flowers and a human skull sitting nearby. Transience.

Of course these paintings are not about missing people, but warnings to temper your soul and think on God. However, for me, they speak of lives I watched be here one moment and gone the next. They speak to me of what Joan Didion writes, "You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends"

She writes:

"confronted with sudden disaster, we all focus on how unremarkable the circumstances were in which the unthinkable occurred, the clear blue sky from which the plane fell, the routine errand that ended on the shoulder with the car in flames, the swings where the children were playing as usual when the rattlesnake struck from the ivy. 'He was on his way home from work - happy, successful, healthy - and then, gone,' "

So much this spring, I recalled sitting in our backyard, beside the hydrangea and peonies, with the one peachy-pink rose watching us from across the lawn, the sun beaming all around on an ordinary spring day in May and telling Lillian, because we had to tell her, that her sister....

Lil was a two, almost two and 1/2. I have no idea what we said. I just know what it felt like. It was the first moment we admitted to ourselves, one of many, that our baby was not with us here anymore.

We were supposed to be spared the news of Marie until I suppose, when the family arrived in town to tell us in person. But we learned of an "accident" via a voice-mail left by her deeply concerned grandmother who wasn't quite sure of the details. "I think she's dead," my husband quoted the message back to me. It was 7:30, our friends kitchen. The most ordinary place we could be. And Marie was dead.

I still feel gutted when I remember all this...

Later, in another book where Joan Didion walks through her grief in the loss of her daughter (to circumstances eerily close to what happened to my brother in August, 2009 - when he fell suddenly and seriously ill to a random virus) she writes, of her daughters death;

"This was never supposed to happen to her"

And it's repeated throughout the book. I know exactly what she means including the repetition of that sentiment. I think everyone who lost someone, especially young, especially suddenly, and add to that, tragically... knows that sentiment.

And as I meandered around tonight online, I found another mom's blog, a mother missing her little girl lost Easter, 2010. I found her because she quoted a song, one I heard and sought the Internets find the lyrics. It led me to her site. There she quoted a movie, Benjamin Button. It says it all:

"You can be mad things went. You can swear and curse the fates. But when it comes to the end, you have to let go."


"Sometimes we're on a collision course and we just don't know it. Whether it's by accident or by design, there's not a thing we can do about it."

Put it together and you have reality. Reality, always staring us in the face, whether we like it or not. "You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends" and there's nothing you can do about it. There's not a thing you can do about it. It's compartmentalize/let-go or I don't think you survive.

Thankfully, thankfully, I believe you can harbor more ability to appreciate what it means to love, when you find a gaping hole in your life where a loved-one used to reside. In my case, I'm blessed with so much love in my life - I don't take it lightly that I live a "roses and wine life" now, now that the "dust" has settled and I have a healthy baby, so far as I know, on the way.

 I'm well aware of the reality-beast staring me in the face every-single-day; the one that taunts me about the transience of my life and every-single-person I know and love and can't live without. The word "ripped" comes to mind - at any point in time a loved one can be ripped right out, or I of theirs. I'd always rather I didn't know what it means to love, the way I know now and could just live in the bliss of it all and pretend that nasty beast isn't sitting right next to me.

Instead the hardest part, for me is the crystal-clarity of how human we are all, beyond the transience aspect, beyond our frailty and quick goneness - but just the day-to-day, how we fail at love, despite the glaringly obvious transience of our moment here. No matter how much we know of it, that we are supposed to love, we can only fail, we are not God. So it's a weird place of deepened appreciation and commendation. Of conviction.

That's all. Just weird. Complicated and yet so simple. Love, it is the the instruction regardless - and it is humbling - you realize, when you really focus on that instruction, how uncomplicated life is and yet how much we let ourselves junk it all up.

"Time passes.

Could it be that I never believed it?...

This was never supposed to happen to her, I remember thinking -  outraged, as if she and I had been promised a special exemption - in the third of those intensive care units....

When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children.

...what does it mean?

...when we talk about our children what are we saying? Are we saying what it meant to us to have them. What it meant to us not to have them? What it meant to let them go?

 Are we talking about the enigma of pledging ourselves to protect the unprotectable. About the whole puzzle of being a parent?"

       - J.Didion

Loosing a child is humbling. Let's just put it that way. And writing about loss, of a child and a not-yet 20-year-old girl (both of whom deserve so much more than such non-descript references, but for the sake of a blog-post the impersonal will have to do) - writing all this while a little baby-boy kicks inside me -it just leaves me noticing how weird life is and unexplainable - it is not a puzzle where the pieces fit together - and it will lead to insanity if you try. I'm just left, small-feeling. Humble. Tired.

And content enough. Content enough to try to do better tomorrow, on the things that I feel I can do better on, which is mostly about Lil and other people in my life. Content to keep trying to grow my garden - the one which Gwen is my muse. Content enough to always be ten-steps behind... knowing you can only do what you can do in the quick hours of the day...

Content in knowing, I just don't know the answers. Content with this exact moment, here where I am, with my imperfections eating at me, my daily little failures chewing on the fibers of my soul, knowing, it may be as good as it gets this week, this month, this year...and soaking it all in "as is." I'm hoping our worst-days-imaginable are behind us, while reality (that beast sitting near) has a good laugh at that daring act of bliss.

And the rain started again outside. How I love the gentle sound of the rain. It is soothing. Simple things. It's all we ever really have. Moments in time passing. If you can notice the moments, at least once in a while, you are doing okay.

I am doing okay.

(The baby-loss mama whose blog I found tonight).

Ten years loom and as always seems to be the case, I find myself struggling the most in the days ahead of the anniversary  - be it her birt...