From our Broken Hearts

* I don’t normally find it necessary to make disclaimers for my posts. But this is regarding pregnancy loss and I know many friends who may find this upsetting.

It is from the depths of grief and sadness that I write this post. I thought waiting a couple of days would make it easier, but the pain is just as sharp.

I intended to post this Thursday for Thanksgiving how thankful we were for the blessing of our third child, safely into our 2nd trimester at 14 weeks.

Instead I come to you today, having lost our baby, who we have named Miles, this past Friday, November 21st.

This baby was so wanted. So loved. So celebrated. Dreamed of. And now he is gone.

It is fitting that the snow turned to rain as I suffered in the hospital for nearly 24 hours. My soul is full of tears that are pouring like the rain on these cloudy November days.

This pregnancy was so difficult from the very beginning. I felt nauseous from the second I saw a positive pregnancy test back in August. And tired. SO tired all day, every day. I thought it was a good thing. A sign how many awesome hormones were coursing through my body.

But then between 8 and 9 weeks I started bleeding. We spent a harrowing weekend resting and terrified of losing the baby until we went for an ultrasound and were told I had a subchorionic hemorrhage, which is essentially a blood clot between the uterine wall and placenta. I had just months before sat with my friend Jessi in the ER as she was diagnosed with the same problem, but she is well into her 2nd trimester, so I knew it could be ok. Plus we heard his heartbeat. Miles got his first and only picture.

So I took it as easy as I could with two active children to chase after. I scaled back on housework and socializing. I took a nap or rested every single afternoon. I was doing everything right.

Then last Thursday I started spotting again. Heavier. Darker. Scarier.

When our midwife, Audra, couldn’t find heart tones again I tried with all my might not to freak the fuck out. So we scheduled an ultrasound that I should be at right now. The bleeding stopped that afternoon. I felt normal. Thought that I felt the baby moving around.

We were having Nicole and Rola, two of my oldest and dearest friends, over for dinner, to see the house for the first time. We had just finished dessert and I felt a gush. I ran to the bathroom and blood.

So. Much. Blood.

I didn’t even think I could leave the toilet I was bleeding so much. I knew what was happening. I knew he was gone.

So we went to the ER at Sparrow. And after being shuffled around the hospital and being throughly disgusted by how I was treated by the L&D unit nurses, we were finally given an ER room and the most amazing nurse, Carmen.

How do you thank the woman that holds your hand and brings you warm blankets as you’re suffering such a tremendous loss? There aren’t adequate words. She was an angel. Even though she tried to hide it and stay professional, she cried with me.

What hurts the most is that our child wasn’t buried. He has no final resting place. He was lost somewhere between the shitty L&D unit and the ER unit bathrooms amongst the other tissue and blood I lost. And that pains me to no end. He deserved to be delivered, to be held, to be cherished.

The OB doctors performed an incredibly horrific and painful procedure on me without anesthesia or warning of how much it would hurt.

Then I lost so much blood that I passed out, went unconscious for a bit and had to have a blood transfusion.

All while my poor Michael had the scare of his life, with me every second, holding my hands and trying not to fall apart. He was so strong. He is my rock. I don’t know if I could have survived one second of this ordeal without his strength.

After spending 24 hours in the hospital, I was finally discharged and came home to my girls that I had missed terribly to tell them the news.

Cedella cried with me and told me so wanted our baby back and why was the baby sick. Isora seemed to take it easily and not quite understand. But now she sees me cry and says “Is it because the baby died?”

I know it seems harsh or somehow inappropriate to tell the kids the truth, but I don’t know any other way to talk to them. They deserve to know what happened. Why I’m sad. Why Dad is sad. Why we won’t be having a baby this spring. They have been a part of the pregnancy from the beginning and should be a part of its end. This was their baby too.

And now we have to figure out how to go on. How to get back to ‘normal’. How to grieve and process and try and make sense of this.

And even if I know this isn’t my fault I am so angry with my body. It did this to me. To us. Something went wrong in my body and that is the worst feeling ever.

I know we can try again. But that doesn’t make any of this any better or easier. Because I will never hold this child. I will never watch him grow. I will never kiss him or nurse him or hear him say ‘I love you’.

So while I certainly hope we will have another baby some day, it will never be this baby. And that just hurts.

Just as their aren’t adequate words for the nurses that helped me at the hospital, there aren’t enough words for those that have taken care of us in the past couple days.

To Nicole and Rola. I can’t thank you enough. For being my friends for nearly 20 years. For introducing me to Michael all those years ago. And for taking such good care of my girls while we were at the hospital. I can never repay you but will be eternally grateful for all you have given me.

To my Tribe. My amazing, supportive, incredible friends here in Lansing and all the way from California to Illinois. They sent flowers to the hospital and sent Trisha to hand deliver chocolate to me. These women are the best support system through good and bad and how fortunate we are to have this group in our lives.

To Sudharshan who was the first at our door, despite his wife (my dear friend Maha) and son being in India, to bring comfort and see if we needed anything. He made me a specific healing food and brought food for the family as well. How thankful we are for a friend like him.

To my girls: Leslie, Nicole G, Meghan, Jessi, Nicole H, Ashley, Kristy, Katie and Annie. You talk to me nearly every day. You have supported me throughout this pregnancy. And your phone calls, texts, hugs and gifts have made this just a little more bearable. I know that you all will be there when this still hurts months from now. I know you won’t hesitate to sit with me and cry. For that, I love you.

To Angela, Robyn, Niki, Kristyn, Jen, Natalie and Lucy thank you for your texts and love and for understanding.

To Klisti, Angelica, Desiree and Jessie, who dropped off food, supplies, chocolate and love. You are such incredible friends. I honor you for taking the time to help my family.

But I could not be here, could not do anything without my family and their love. To Mom and Tracey who sat with me for an entire day in the hospital, watching bad TV and eating terrible hospital food. You two are my world.

To my incredible inlaws, my second father and mother, John and Hilda, thank you for taking such good care of the girls and for supporting me, crying with me and loving me as much as your own daughter.

To Kylara and Robbie who didn’t know what to say to make me feel better but called none the less, who cried with me and who suffer this loss with me, I love you guys.

To my mother-in-law Becky, Michael’s grandma Cecelia and my grandma Rose for sending their love and prayers.

To André and Merissa for your love and kind words and beautiful flowers.

And to Sabah and Talia and Diana, my loves, for sending their prayers and kind words and love.

We are so fortunate to have such a big and caring and supportive family. This baby was loved and wanted by each and every one of them. His loss is felt by each and every one of them. Their hearts break with our own.

There is nothing more I can say to you Michael beyond thank you. Thank you my love. Thank you for our life. Thank you for your love. Thank you for walking this road with me. Thank you.

So now we try to go on. Each day will hurt a little less. Some days will hurt more. Today is just one step forward.

Many have asked what they can do for us. The food and flowers and calls and texts are all so helpful in this moment. It is next week and next month and next May that we will need you the most. What I ask is that you not forget us. Don’t pretend this didn’t happen. Don’t hesitate to ask how we’re doing. Don’t forget our sweet baby Miles.

Much love to anyone I have failed to mention that has kept us in their hearts or prayers. Thank you for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Afternoon in Detroit

Or ‘What I Want My Kids to Know About Detroit’.

Because the thing is I NEED them to know about Detroit. To feel like Detroit is familiar and comfortable and holds good memories. Because that is what Detroit is to me. Detroit is my home.

And I know, I know, in all technicalities I was born and raised in Oak Park, a small city on just north of Detroit.

But I was raised on 10 Mile. 2 miles north of 8 Mile. And spent a good portion of my life either at Eppert Oil (my Grandparents company in the city), the museums in Midtown, Belle Isle and the East Side. And then as soon as humanly possible (at 21 yrs old) I moved to Hamtramck (the only city inside the city of Detroit, so like the Vatican City to Detroit’s Rome).

I guess what I’m saying is I feel I can claim Detroit for my own. I’m no poseur folks.

And it’s very important to me that my girls have the same fond memories and comfortable feeling in Detroit that I have. I want it to be theirs as much as Lansing is. I want them to know all the cultural and architectural gems. I want them to have a sense of urban connection and street smarts, as well as an appreciation for the city that may look a bit rough and lack a cosmopolitan edge but has more charm and heart than any other city in the country.

So whenever we get a chance to spend a full day roaming the city we do. And we found a really great excuse a couple of months ago to spend an entire day bouncing around and taking our own impromptu kiddo Detroit tour.

It was an absolutely beautiful day, sunny and warm but not muggy hot (Detroiters call anything above 40% humidity ‘muggy’), so we decided to find something outdoors.

First off we had to eat, and while we were thinking of hitting up something in Midtown or the oh-so-chic Corktown, we opted instead to take the kids to Eastern Market. While it wasn’t a market day it was still quite busy with produce and meat vendors accepting deliveries and all the popular eateries around the market busting at the seams.

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We decided on Russell Street Deli, and while it wasn’t the best Deli ever, it was decent and satisfying and fast. Though it made me long for corned beef at Bread Basket Deli or even (gasp!) Grandy’s in Hamtramck. But the girls had fun and as soon as we had full bellies we headed off to our next destination…Belle Isle!!

Perhaps if we hadn’t been so spontaneous in our plans we would have known the island had just hosted the Grand Prix races a day before we arrived on the island to special spots like the point you can see the best view of Detroit AND Canada, the Scott Fountain and the Casino were all inaccessible that day. So we decided to go to the playground, a spot we used to play when we were kids. And though the Super Slide, we spent many a summer day on, was closed for the day, the Playscape area was a vast improvement from what we used to play on when we were kids. Accept for one thing…it was filthy.

Recently, during the bankruptcy and ‘save our city’ process, the State of Michigan park service has taken over Belle Isle under the state parks system. Many were skeptical about this decision but most thought it was a great idea, particularly if state funding was used to get the park clean and maintained. I don’t know what we were expecting when we got to the island, but less filth and more amenities maybe?

While the playground is massive and well visited, it was covered in garbage. Covered. Much of the equipment was damaged and either covered in grass clippings or dead leaves or spilled food and drinks. The swings at this main play area were altogether gone. And while the kids certainly had a good time, and there were plenty of kids there to play, we were disappointed by how shabby it was.  I remember when this playground was new and we would take Kylara to play when she was my girl’s age. It was impressive and cool. Now it’s just thousands of dollars of equipment wasting away under garbage and compost.

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But do you think the kids noticed any of that? Nope. They had a ball. Once we were done playing we drove around the other end of the island for a bit, and headed for our final destination of the day…

The Heidelberg Project.

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If you haven’t heard of Heidelberg and artist Tyree Guyton please click on the link above and check it out. Essentially, one talented modern artist, Tyree, created an art gallery from his neighborhood in a down-on-its-luck east side Detroit neighborhood. He’s usually recognized for the colorful polka dots on abandoned and burned out homes all over the city, but his true masterpieces are the neighborhood homes where he uses found and discarded objects to create 3-D art installations and sculpture that remind us not only of the things we leave behind, but how they can be transformed into something new and interesting and powerful.

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When I was first starting out in the film business I worked on a local feature called ‘Detroit’ and we used Heidelberg St and the street behind it for a week long shoot. I remember talking to Tyree then and how hopeful and encouraged he was by the influx of people and energy in his hood. But now, 14 years later, the neighborhood and Project have been rocked by multiple arson fires, in an attempt to wipe this art from the planet. It is a shame but that’s not how Tyree sees it.

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It is not ‘art’ in a traditional museum sense. It isn’t classical painting. It is modern and raw and disturbing and thought provoking. There is a sense of loss and a sense of wonder but never a lack of visual interest. It always has been art in it’s most uninhibited and transformative state. And now it’s quite literally The Phoenix of Art. Rising from the ashes of those that don’t understand it or don’t care about it’s impact on the neighborhood and the city.

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We were SO fortunate that Tyree was out that day. Just hanging out on ‘Heidelberg TV’ as he called it.

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And I was fortunate enough to talk with him for about 20 minutes about the transformative quality of art. The Magic of art. How all things change and grow and become things we don’t recognize, but that change is life, change is art, art is Magic, life is Magic. I say Magic capitalized because that is how we spoke of it, as something real and tangible and experienced.

I talked about how bringing forth life and watching children grow was Magic, he talked about how watching his life’s work burn and then rebuilding it was Magic. He was not sad y’all, he was not angry at the arsonists. Disappointed? A little. But accepting of the fact that life goes on, terrible shit happens sometimes, and we rebuild. The Magic of life is in the constant forward movement.

The Magic of art is in it’s constant reinvention. And in that way Life = Art and Art = Life and it’s all Magic.

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God I love talking to artists.

The girls were absolutely enthralled by the ‘Heidelberg TV’ and the main house that has recently been recomposed after being burnt to the ground. Seeing toys and objects they recognized. Finding things in hidden corners. It was Magic to them.

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To me Heidelberg is something essential for my kids. As essential as the Detroit Institute of Arts, or the Field Museum in Chicago. Something we must see often. Something I can’t wait to take them back to. It’s important, not only for the city of Detroit, but for our children and future generations to see and imagine what is possible to make from things that we throw away. How things can be transformed. The Magic and interest of everyday objects and discarded things. The Magic of art. Because…

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I couldn’t agree more.

As we walked back to our car, a slow rolling minivan passed us. In years past it might have been a drug dealer or undercover cop. But it was a tour bus. Something called ‘Show Me Detroit’. And while Tracey and I chuckled to ourselves and thought it was completely absurd, particularly seeing as we were on our own sort of tour, it struck me much later. This is the city of Detroit at it’s finest. In the throes of bankruptcy, dwindling population and a lackluster economy but hosting tour groups and with the New York Times forseeing (years ago) that it was the next ‘Like Tribeca back in the day‘ and Fortune magazine calling it the ‘New Brooklyn’. It IS absurd. But that’s what makes Detroit such a fantastic and interesting place to be. And why I will ALWAYS call Detroit home.

So if you had one day in Detroit where would you go? If you’re not from Detroit, what would be on your ‘Must See’ list? Detroiters, any special places I should take the girls on our next day out?

How We Do Spring

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones then you know the words of House Stark: Winter is Coming. Well this year in Michigan Winter came. And kept coming. And felt like it was never going to leave. Feet upon feet of snow fell. Everything was covered in a thick crust of salty ice. The Cold had a tendency to creep right into your bones and take root, never really leaving, no amount of blankets or layers or pair of socks could break its hold.

And through this mind-numbing, bone-chilling, soul-sucking Winter, we were house hunting.

It’s almost ridiculous to think about now. Michael and I (and occasionally the girls too), trudging about on a Wednesday or Saturday afternoon. Walking precariously over unsalted walks in search of our Forever Home. Thinking about it now, we’re a bit crazy, aren’t we?

Slowly. Very slowly, the days began to lengthen. The sun began to melt the glaciers of ice on every curb and street corner. And suddenly it was 50 degrees and it felt like the Sun was a brand new thing. Something we had forgotten, that we had been missing for too long.

As soon as that first thaw took hold we broke out of our frozen ice palace and headed out to do all the things we couldn’t during the Winter That Almost Never Ended. It didn’t bother us if there was snow on the ground as long as we could wear cool hats, warm coats and the sun was shining.

Here’s some of the things we did to say goodbye to Winter and welcome to Spring..

1. Just got out and walked. Usually to visit Dad at Spartan Spirits.

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2. Even if it was still cold we joked around on Sandy the Pony at Meijer. Sometimes 2 or 3 rides at a time if there wasn’t anyone waiting.

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3. Birthday Parties (like this one for our friend Claire)!! Especially if there were crafts involved. A few hours at a birthday party made us forget that it wasn’t summer yet.

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4. Bike Riding on the Deck. At the old house we didn’t have a yard and with a pretty busy sidewalk and street out front, so we rode around on the deck a lot. Don’t forget your helmets folks! Can’t be too safe!

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5. We went to the Potter Park Zoo with our friend Kierce. And you know what? Apparently the lions were sick of Winter too and were super vocal in their complaints about it.

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6. We hung out at the library music and story time with our friends Nia, Mia and Imani.

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7. When in doubt and super bored. Go visit Dad at Spartan Spirits, build a beer case Castle and play!

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8. We got out to walk and play on the swings as soon as possible. Someone can never get enough of the swings!

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9. We visited the farm when all the baby lambs were born and got to feed them.

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10. One day the magnolia tree next door was blossoming and the next day the snow was falling. Didn’t matter. We played outside anyways.

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11. And when the weather cleared again, we blew bubbles and played for hours on TeTe’s stoop in Hamtramck.

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12. For weeks Izzie carried her Doc McStuffins bag around with her to give mobile checkups to all those in need.

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13. Take in a baseball game! Just don’t forget your blankets, it’s Michigan after all. My MIL Becky invited us to a Lansing Lugnuts baseball game. So BIL André and his lovely girlfriend Merissa came into town and joined us for a night out. So. Fun.

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14. Take the kids to see Sesame Street Live. Cause Elmo and Big Bird can pretty much make every day look like a sunny day and sweep all the clouds away. It was Izzie’s first show. She wasn’t nearly as enraptured as Ella and Anna though.

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15. Field Trips!! In the midst of all the packing, closing, cleaning and schlepping boxes to our new house Preschool helped keep Cedella busy and engaged. I couldn’t pass up a chance to go to the MSU Horse Farm. She absolutely loved it there. Even if the stalls were a bit stinky for her taste.

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Despite all the excitement we managed to sort, purge, bag, box, donate, transport, sell or move all of our worldly possessions to our new home.

And somewhere along the way Winter stayed gone. Now it’s nothing but blue skies, hot days and mosquitoes. But we’ll talk about those little buggers another day.

How’s your spring been going? Any big plans for summer? Family vacations around the corner? Tell me all about them in the comments!!