Wednesday, October 25, 2006

what's going on

What's going on? Well, my 31st birthday was yesterday, and while it wasn't a "hurrah!"-type of occasion, it was nice. Rich and I went to La Taquiza, a yummy hole-in-the-wall by USC, for dinner (their mulitas, described by LA food critic Jonathan Gold as "quesadillas on steroids," are to die for). I received several lovely emails, calls & cards from friends and family, letting me know that they hoped I had a great day, and an even better year to come. 30 certainly was not the year that I expected, but I've survived, and am looking forward to 31. I have many hopes for this year.

This has been a particularly tough couple of weeks for me. Eliza's due date came and went, but I don't think it really hit me until this weekend, at a friend's party. I don't know why my reaction was so delayed, but all of a sudden, the grief and disappointment and frustration hit me again like a ton of bricks. And I have to be honest that I really wasn't looking forward to my birthday -- it seemed so loaded with meaning. 30 was going to be the year we had a baby. We found out I was pregnant on Richard's 30th birthday. Eliza's birthday was supposed to be only a week before mine. And Halloween is just around the corner: my favorite holiday (I grew up always having costume birthday parties, and I dreamed about Eliza's). And this weekend, we are heading up to San Francisco for the Preeclampsia Foundation gala -- a positive event that I know will raise a lot of money to fund research, but also one that I know will make me cry.

But I also know that we are getting ready to start trying to get pregnant again. And I need to be ready to be happy. I want to be able to tell our future children that I was joyful, and not consumed with sadness, when we decided to create them.

On that note of positivity, I'd like everyone to send good thoughts to Allison, whose labor is being induced today. Allison & I announced that we were pregnant on the same day back in February. She & I bonded over the happy, and the uncomfortable, aspects of pregnancy. When we lost Eliza, she was incredibly supportive, and she even understood that I couldn't be comfortable with her in person, simply because of what we had shared. I hope her little (big) Mr. Roly Poly comes into the world happy and healthy. I already know that he has two great parents waiting for him.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

the science of sleep

I'm so tired. I remember being a teenager when sleep was so easy. Sleeping late on a Sunday was my favorite thing to do. It was comforting. My first experience with insomnia occurred about 4-5 years ago, at a time when I was really stressed about work. I've described it as if my brain was having a conversation with itself and it wouldn't shut up! It's a conundrum: I'm stressed and so I can't sleep, but because I can't sleep, it's stressing me out.

Ever since everything that happened this summer, I have had trouble sleeping well. I can sleep (eventually), but I'm just not getting a high-quality sleep. I have been taking a prescription sleep aid, but it's unfortunately not as effective as I would have hoped. I have to do so much just to ensure that I can get a good night's sleep -- exercise, not eat too late, take a sleeping pill, have a glass or two of wine, take a warm bath, and maybe even add a Tylenol PM on top. One silver lining: I really appreciate when I do get a good night's sleep. I just wish I could have more of them. At least Dr. Dave (my psychologist) understands, and encourages me to do whatever I need to do to sleep well, including the wine drinking. Gotta love when your doctor tells you to drink more wine.

Speaking of wine, I'm going to a friend's bachelorette party on Saturday. No Chippendales are expected (thank goodness), just lots of melty cheese (at the Melting Pot) and lots of wine. Here's another thing you just don't expect your doctor to tell you: "try to get a good hangover this weekend." Dr. Dave, I think I love you. Really, I think he wants me to enjoy the kind of stuff that I can't partake of when pregnant, like red wine and sushi, before we start trying again. So I'm working hard to get my fill of alcohol (have yet to go out to sushi, but that's on the agenda).

That wine drinking has impacted my knitting, and not for the better. I'm making a Christmas present, a sweater, and was working on the neckline last night, when I realized I had to rip the whole thing out because I had accidentally knit across the shoulder. This was after unknitting a couple of garter stitch rows that I thought were a mistake, and reknitting in reverse stockingnette, only to discover that it was supposed to be garter stitch afterall. Three glasses of rose does not lead to efficient finishing. Only after drinking a Coke Slurpee could I pull myself together enough to complete the neckline correctly. Pathetic.

So here are a my handmade items of the day (from yesterday, actually):
Necklace that I strung on Monday night while watching Horatio Hornblower DVDs -- goldstone, red tiger eye & agate drops

Yet another Teva Durham Ballet Tee sweater, done with two strands of merino wool (charcoal gray & light brown) from a long-ago Yarn Lady sale

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Just be yourself

Well, I'm still here. I survived. The day I had been dreading for the last 3 months, Eliza's due date, came and went. And I survived. It was sad, and we cried, but we got through it. I really thought that I would want to just burrow into my couch and knit, but I realized that I needed to get out and do something, anything. So we went out for tacos (our latest obsession is following the Great Taco Hunt) and then hit a couple of Goodwills. Rich picked up some old school Nintendo games and I found some fabulous amber-colored glasses and an avocado green pyrex casserole dish (for the ongoing 70s kitchen). It felt good. Not that we weren't thinking of Eliza, and her place in our lives, and what we lost when she died, but it felt right to just be ourselves.

So, we're still here. I took yesterday off just to have to myself and I had a really good day. I hit 7 thrift stores in one afternoon, and scored some vintage Mikasa dessert plates and a pottery wine decanter (?) and 4 matching cups. Not only are we hosting Friends Thanksgiving next month, but it looks like we're also hosting Christmas for the first time, so I'll actually get a chance to use my 70s kitchenware.

I also went to the plant nursery and came home with two hanging Wandering Jews. The apartment seemed to be missing that homey element that plants can bring. Now we just have to see if I can keep them alive.

I was fairly crafty over the weekend, starting a new Christmas present, stringing 3 necklaces, and sewing a new purse:
It's a dark teal green corduroy, and a perfect crap bag (you know, a purse so big you can fit all your crap in it, i.e., lunch, sweaters, small cat, etc.). Another stash-buster!

And here I am, in my handmade item of the day, the Cable-Eight sweater in Rowan Cork:
Also, I just sent off my mom's birthday present, so once she gets it, I can post pictures. Tonight, Rich & I are going to Cues 2 Choose, a Planned Parenthood Young Professionals fundraiser. Play pool for choice! So, all in all, I guess we're just trying to keep going -- being ourselves and doing what we do. I guess we can't do any more.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

under pressure

Yesterday was the day of a thousand doctors' appointments. or maybe it just seemed like that. Actually I had three -- 1) primary care doc to monitor my blood pressure; 2) psychiatrist to monitor my antidepressants; and 3) psychologist to keep from going crazy (and talking Richards ear off). Good news first, blood pressure is doing so well that my doc is cutting my meds dosage in half, with the ultimate goal of getting me off them entirely. Iffy (not bad) news next, antidepressants are being upped since I'm still not sleeping well. Eh. I haven't had any bad side effects yet, so I'm not too worried about the increase. We'll see.

Financial issues have been worrying, of late, adding to my anxiety levels. It just seemed like, all of a sudden, things were really tight, and I thought we were just being stupid, wasting money. And then I thought about all the doctor appointments Rich & I have had, and all the medications we're now on. We realized that we are spending about $500 a month just on office visit co-pays. Add in another $100 in medications, and it suddenly became clear why we're leaning a bit more on the credit cards lately. Well, I'd rather be well, physically and emotionally, than flush with cash, so it's worth it. But the realization did make us feel better that we aren't just being stupid with money -- there is a legitimate reason. So things are a bit tight, but we're hanging in there and taking care of ourselves.

Just because there is less available cash around, doesn't mean that I have let up on the knitting at all. I still have quite a stash going, and I'm doing my best to decrease it. So here is my latest creation, a sweater of my own design (although the lace pattern is from the table runners in Handknit Holidays). I used La Lana Wools (from our last trip to New Mexico), Forever Random Fines for the top and Dos Mujeres for the ribbed bottom.

Doyle is particularly interested in this sweater -- he wants to make it smell more like him.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Friends & food

It is officially autumn (well, technically, it's been autumn since September 23, but just go with me on this one). There is a slight chill in the air (even if there is a bit of an LA Story-ting going on -- "It got down to 58 degrees! What did you do?"), and I'm breaking out all the sweaters I knit this summer. As a way of celebrating fall, as well as our informal entrance back into the world, Richard & I invited our friends Catherine & Brian over for dinner (and to suck Catherine in to the world of Battlestar Galactica by forcing her to watch the original miniseries) on Sunday.

It was lovely. It was such a welcome respite to be able to concentrate on something fun and positive for a change. We cleaned (moving boxes are at least out of sight, if not actually out of the house) and I spent most of the weekend cooking. Martha moment: I actually made my own chicken stock. According to every celebrity chef with a cookbook to sell, homemade stock is the building block of everything good. So, setting aside 4-6 hours of my life on Saturday, I boiled down 6 pounds of chicken wings & livers, leeks, carrots, celery, onions & spices, all to get 2 quarts of precious stock.

Sunday's menu consisted of beef short-ribs braised in red wine (+ the all-important stock), garlic mashed potatoes and fennel & haricots vert (French for green beans, but it sounds prettier that way) salad with a mustard vinegrette. Everything turned out exactly as I could have hoped. The ribs were achingly tender -- no knife required. The salad was fresh and tangy. The potatoes were suitably garlicky (could have been creamier -- I'll use cream instead of milk next time). The only snag was in reducing the braising liquid into sauce, it separated very strangely, with all the winey goodness balling in the center and the oil on the oustide -- eww. So no sauce. But it was fab anyway. Catherine brought a wonderful pumpkin gingerbread and Brian brought two really good bottles of wine and some yummy Brie, crackers & bread. I was very excited that I finally got to show off some of my treasured 60s/70s kitchen wares -- smokey amber wine glasses, Bicentennial glasses, vintage Mikasa dessert plates.

It was a great night -- just sitting around the table, telling stories from college and drinking wine. It felt... normal. Something I haven't felt in a long time. And that's a feeling I want to hold on to. So Rich & I decided to host our annual Friends Thanksgiving, our annual tradition where a bunch of us from college get together from all over the west coast and cook too much food, drink too much wine, and generally have a good time.

This year, I've learned how important my friends are -- both old and new. There are the friends who were with us in the hospital, as everything came tumbling down. There are the friends who came to visit me at home, who tried to make me laugh and sometimes just let me cry on their shoulders. There are the friends who let me pour my heart out to them over the phone, the ones who knew that what I needed was someone who would listen to me. And there are the friends who sent me cards and flowers and emails, just to let me know that they were thinking of me, and Richard and Eliza. My friends, you all have helped me keep going. You have helped me get to the point where I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I will get pregnant again soon, and I will bring home a healthy baby. It won't be Eliza, but it will be her little brother or sister. And I'm looking forward to that. But until then, I know that I have great friends who will laugh with me, cry with me and eat with me.

And just so this post isn't completely maudlin, here's a pic of my handmade item of the day: my 2nd Matador sweater (love these things!):
knit in Classic Elite Gatsby (sadly, discontinued, but it can be found on ebay)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

think lovely thoughts

I'm trying really hard to be happy. I want to be happy. I've been sad now constantly for 3 months (as of yesterday), and it is exhausting. I want to feel happy, and I want positive things to look forward to. And yet, I don't want to minimize or gloss over what happened, or Eliza's place in my life. My therapist calls it survivor guilt (god, I'm becoming one of those pathetic people who only talks about what their therapist says). I know that Eliza, like any child, wouldn't want her mom to feel guilty about being happy. I know I have to give myself permission to be happy again, that being happy does not mean that Eliza doesn't still matter. But I can say these things, and know these things in my head, and still not feel them.

So, I try to at least appear happy, the thought being that if I can look happy, then maybe the feeling will start to seep in. I've put up my Halloween decorations in my office. I'm going back to my old habit of always wearing at least one thing that I've made. I made a list of the home improvement projects that I want to undertake (oh, say like actually finally getting all of the moving boxes out of the house). I've started making Christmas presents. We're
planning our annual Friends Thanksgiving get-together. And next month, I'm going to make an appointment with my OB for a preconception check-up. Getting pregnant again is going to bring up all kinds of emotions, I know, but they are ones that I can't even fathom right now. So I just have to leave that kind of worrying for when it happens, and for now, just think lovely thoughts.
My handmade item of the day is the matador bolero from the Spring/Summer 06 Knitscene (knit in Rio de la Plata carried with's Baby Cashmere)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Shopping helps ease anxiety

At least that's what I've found. Nothing releases stress like hunting for bargains. A lovely friend of mine asked me recently, "what are you stressed about, work?" I love this friend, but when she said this, I just looked at her blankly. Gee, I don't know, what could possibly be stressful in my life recently? Hmm, let's see, losing my daughter when I was 25 weeks pregnant? Having my hopes & dreams crushed? Almost dying myself? Trying to function at work and at home so I can keep getting a paycheck and keep a husband? Coming up on my due date, a day when I should have a healthy baby at home in her nursery, instead of an empty "guest" room and a crib packed away in the garage? Oooh, how about the fact that we are starting to think about trying to get pregnant again, and I'm wondering if I'm emotionally capable of doing this again? Are those enough things to be stressed about?

See, according to my therapist, the lovely & talented Dave, aka the man who keeps me sane, I'm entering the "irritated" phase of post-traumatic stress. Little things, like a co-worker's Valley-girl-esque voice, or another woman's insane cackle laughter, are driving me insane. I'm trying my best to hold it together, knowing that this month is going to be hard, and that once we get through this, it will hopefully get a bit easier.

To relax after a particularly trying hour at the Apple store on Friday (love how my iPod crashes 1 month after the warranty runs out! But somehow, it miraculaously fixed itself, so I'm not looking a gift horse in the mouth), we headed over the the "International" bar at the Farmer's market. We had some beer (Peroni was their daily special) and yummy pizza, and after only 2 drinks, I was a bit toasted (I'm a bit of a lightweight now, especially after not being able to drink for 6 months). For whatever reason, this "here's the beef" sign struck Rich & I as funny. Simple strokes for simple folks, I guess.

Saturday night we went to Cinespia to see "Dawn of the Dead" with Julia and some of her friends. It was the first time we'd been back to Cinespia since everything happened. I wasn't sure if being in a cemetary would feel weird, and for the most par, it didn't, but about half-way through the movie, I started to feel panicky. Maybe it was the anxiety of watching a scary movie, maybe it was watching the main female character be pregnant, getting bigger thoughout the film (but yet continuing to drink wine & smoke -- it was the 70s), I don't know.
I got a major headache, and just kept feeling like I did not want to be there. But we were in the middle of hundreds of people, in the dark, so I was not going to make Richard leave. I hung in there, and was able to calm down enough to enjoy myself by the end.

Sunday, we headed out to the Pasadena City Flea Market with Julia & Faith. I had never been, and what can I say but, wow! We barely scratched the surface, and I still left with more goodies than you could shake a stick at (what does that mean, exactly?). By the time we left, I carried off this booty:
1 (deleted in case he reads this) for my dad's birthday
1 1966 Stitchery & Crafts book by McCalls
1 fabulous vintage black curly lamb coat (in great shape, totally fits, for $5!)

6 vintage plastic belt buckles
2 vintage knitting pattern magazines (Spinnerin -- which has the best photography -- and Bernat)
Multiple skeins of vintage yarn -- 7 of Pingouin Astrakhan in beige and 6 skein of a fluffy Bernat extra bulky mohair/wool blend in mocha
and (drum roll, please...)
a new chair!
Yes, Doyle has already claimed it as his own. It's a very mod-looking orange sherbet-colored vinyl chair that is super comfy. The vinyl is in good shape (and the cats have new Soft Paws on, to keep it in good shape), and it just needs some Mr. Clean Magic Eraser-ing to get it tip top. It's perfect for our living room, with our yellow tropical brocade couch and seafoam green recliner. And it was only $35! How can you beat that?

After successful shopping eased my anxiety levels, we headed out to a late brunch at the Green St. Cafe with Julia, Faith & Brantlea. It's been so good to see friends lately. It's really helped me come back out of my shell. I'm hoping I can get back to Stitch n Bitch soon, and really feel like I'm resuming my life.

Just to leave this post on a good note, this is the most recent press conference from the Awesome Helicopter Ninjas, Richard's kickball team: For other AHN videos, go here. Always good for a laugh.