Odds and Ends


Watching the penultimate episode of Downton Abbey, Edith, speaking to her sister Mary, tells Mary that in the end, they will be the only two left who share the memories of their parents, their late sister Sybil, and of growing up together. It put into words a feeling I’ve been trying to articulate since my brother died, a very particular facet of that loss. In the end, I will most likely be the sole keeper of those family memories.


Listening to Arthur congratulate his brother this week on the birth of wonderful twin niece and nephew, it’s decidedly bittersweet. I’m so excited to be an aunt to these babies. We are glad for a safe birth at 32 weeks and babies in good health for their prematurity. I’m so happy E has cousins, and I know both Arthur and his brother hope to keep our families close. I am grateful for E yet again and the extraordinary circumstances that meant we were able to take her home. We are glad that E will know this uncle and aunt and their little ones.

My brother was surprisingly good with small children, although he would have been the first to deny that. He always took them seriously, listened to what they had to say, and as that’s often a rare quality in adults, they would follow him around chattering, excited to have found someone that heard them. I wonder what E would have told him, this uncle she will never know except in photographs and stories.


It’s one of the things that’s a bit hard about this birth, it comes as my period starts after the first sort-of two-week-wait I’ve had in a while.  We said we weren’t going to do this, but when my cycles suddenly regulated out on their own, we couldn’t resist. No intervention or fertility treatment, no idea if I actually ovulate, no idea if my left tube is open, just a very long shot on a natural cycle figuring it has been a year since my c-section, I’m not getting any younger, and we’re not doing any more fresh IVF.

Even though I know better, even with plans for a much better shot with an FET in the fall, I found myself half-hoping and with that small disappointment, I find myself counting the losses again: my own sibling, whether or not E will have a sibling, the long five day wait with nothing to do except sit by E’s incubator, watching the monitors alarm, wondering if E’s brain ultrasound would show bleeding before we could even consider holding her, the scariness mingled with her first kangaroo sessions as her oxygen saturation dropped and it took two nurses to get her into position, the twins I lost after the first IVF, the ectopic after my FET. I wonder about those lost babies, if they would have looked like E or her cousins?

I wonder if E will be left as the lone memory keeper for our family.

And I hate that this is what suicide and infertility and extreme prematurity have cost me, at least for now: unadulterated joy and happiness without complexity.

This post is a part of Microblog Mondays.  If you want to read more or participate, please head over to Stirrup Queens to check it out. 


10 thoughts on “Odds and Ends

  1. So much to digest with this post. First and foremost, holding you in my heart. Individually, each of these thoughts would be huge. But together they bleed into a monster shape.

  2. Sending you lots of love. My own brother doesn’t have much interest in our family history or talking about anything family related. I will likely hold most of the family memories/treasures by default.

  3. Mali

    I’m also so sorry you’ve been through all this. I wonder though – how many people actually experience unadulterated joy and happiness without complexity? I know that the media (and that includes social media) portrays family events as full of joy and perfect, wonderful highs of emotion. But I suspect many if not most people have complex emotions around these things, but they’re hidden and not talked about. However, I do want to acknowledge that you have had much more than your fair share of these, and as Mel says, loss upon loss is cumulative, and so can be very painful.

    1. Thank you – and I really think this is a great reminder…it is very easy in an age where every day FB and the like send us the carefully crafted “perfect moments” to forget that reality that complexity is a huge part of many of those. I appreciate this so much!

  4. So many big things to ponder. I’m sorry about the loss of your beloved brother.

    That Downton Abbey scene got me, too. I think Edith was remarkably forgiving. Her storyline has been one of my favorites.

  5. Wishing I could reach through the computer to give you a hug. It’s clear how bittersweet the arrival of your niece and nephew are. So many memories are triggered by their arrival. And there’s the added knowledge that you are gearing up for more treatment. It’s hard to balance with just one of those things.

    I’m thinking of you during this period. Sending love as you process it all.

  6. Oh, so much raw pain in this post. So much that is hoped and turns out differently than imagined. I am thinking of you through all your losses. Moments like these magnify the pain of losses, the ones that compound over time. So much love your way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s