Monday, December 31, 2001

A long December... the story of Geoff and 2001

"a long december and there's reason to believe
maybe this year will be better than the last.
i can't remember all the times i tried to tell myself
to hold on to these moments as they pass..."

As Adam sang, it's certainly been a long December. It's been a long, hard year.

I've had a lot of long Decembers in my life. The most memorable and painful is the year I was expecting Geoffrey. The song quoted here meant a lot to me at that time. Means a lot to me now.

I didn't intend to write this today. But... it's on my mind, so sure. Why not. I have no new years resolutions to bore you with and then whine about breaking. I'd intended to write about my take on the Fellowship of the Ring. But I'll save that for later when I am more in the mood to play Ebert and Roper (note, I left Siskel out. May he rest in peace).

A quick recap for those who don't know the story.

Flashback to December 1995, I'm sitting in a bar in Salem Massachusetts with Brian Doser (musician, and recording producer/mixer/super god) seeing our friend Jon Svekey's band "The Loomers" perform.

Brian leans over to me close and yellingly (cause it's kinda loud) asks me if I have any new years resolutions.

My answer -- have a baby before I turn 30, in 11 months. He laughs and says "Sorry, I can't help you with that but I wish you the best of luck with seeing that happen!!" We toast each other and have a good laugh.

I sit there remembering the past two Decembers, which had sucked for us. Long, dreary, depressing, full of misery.

December 22, 1993 we'd lost a baby, a miscarriage in my fourth month of pregnancy, which just doesn't happen too often. [sidebar note: My doctor was a bitch and shrugged it off as a kind of "shit happens" situation, but I suspected that there was more to it than she wanted to find out. 95% of all miscarriages happen before the 10 week mark, and I was almost 15 weeks pregnant. Statistically I had a better chance of being struck by lightning.

The following Christmas, 1994, our Landlord and Dear Friend Tony passed away suddenly. So here I was, getting through Christmas 1995 without the stench of death hanging around me, and feeling rather optimistic.

So right there on the spot when Doser asked me what my 1996 resolution was, I whipped that one out. Another baby.

I'd always wanted 2 kids, exactly 2 years apart. Seeing as the baby I lost in 1993 was DUE on Jessica's second birthday (no lie) I figured that wasn't the plan for me, there was another one lined up... and if I wanted that second kid before I was too old and crotchety, I'd better get on my bike, as it were.

In the spring we got pregnant... making Geoff's due date January 20th, 1997, right before Doug's birthday and 2 full months AFTER my 30th birthday.

Hey, I tried.

So there I was, expecting a baby, happy. Wanting this and ready to have an infant in the house again. I changed doctors after my bad experience in 1993, and the new practice I was going to put me on a watch to make sure I didn't have any preterm release (ie... labor or miscarriage) symptoms. I didn't. Things went well.

I joked around a lot with my doctor that I wanted to have Geoff by December 31 so I could write him off on that year's tax return, because we'd also bought a house and we'd get a humongous refund if the two of them were on the same return. He told me to be careful what I wished for. It was a great pregnancy, until the day after my 30th birthday.

In November, for my 30th birthday, I took myself out. I went to see the aforementioned Loomers in the same bar in Salem, MA., this time about 7 months pregnant. It was a riot. I sat and read a book, ate buffalo fingers, drank non-alcoholic beer, and enjoyed Jon, Everett and the boys greatly.

The next night I had a lot of tightening across the top of my belly, but didn't think anything of it. I thought they were Braxton-Hicks contractions. I had an appointment on that Friday to see the doctor. I'd ask him then.

Well, I asked him about the tightening, and mentioned that I thought I may have a yeast infection or something because I had a heavy, mucousy discharge. He decided to do a sample to test just as a precaution. He had me recline on the table so he could do his doctory thing (all women who have had a "sample" taken for yeast or a pap smear, you can cringe now) and told me NOT to move, breathe or sit up.

I was 5-6 centimeters dilated.

The amniotic fluid sack was presenting full and bulging and was about to break.

I still had 9 weeks to go in my pregnancy. He thought I was going to deliver right then and there. He called an ambulance, and rushed me to St. Elizabeth's hospital in Brighton MA. They hooked me up to IVs, injected me with medicine. They put me on a monitor and couldn't believe I wasn't feeling the contractions that were happening 1 1/2 minutes apart. I was in full blown labor.

The four doctors in the new practice that I was going to had suspected after reading my files that I was perhaps victim of an incompetent cervix, and that's why I'd lost the last baby. This time, we'd managed to keep the kid in there for a long time, and had monthly peek ins to make sure everything looked right, but here we were, early. Way too early for him to come out.

So they stopped my labor.

They kept me in hospital for four weeks.

It was the longest December EVER. I felt very alone and depressed, and Doug was in school in Boston, and there was Jessica to think about. My inlaws dropped everything came up from Pittsburgh and brought Jessica home with them to keep her with family and allow Doug the space to get his studies done (he was in his first year of grad school) and go to work at night, and visit me. During those particular two weeks, I missed her so badly I'd cry myself to sleep at night. The one person who could make me feel joy by doing some interpretive dance at the foot of my bed, was in Pittsburgh.

Everyone was super helpful, beautiful and wonderful, but I felt just so lost and sad and devistated, and so dark. So empty.

The Counting Crows had recently released that song, and the video was full of haunting, sad visions of a forelorn Adam and sad wispy Courteney Cox. A long December, and everyone is sad...

"The smell of hospitals in winter
and the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters,
but no pearls..."

After two weeks at St. Elizabeths, they willingly transfered me up to Beverly where my doctors were based, and closer to home. This allowed for visitors to access me more readily (when I was in Boston, my Aunt Carole and cousin Debi came to see me, and my pastor, and Bonnie, and my boss. That was it).

In Beverly though, no one but Carrie came to visit... and Doug. Even though I was closer to home, no one came to see me. And Beverly doesn't have a lying in area apart from the regular maternity area, so I was trapped in a room, by myself, surrounded by zillions of women who were post-partum.

I would lie in my bed and hear the babies crying, and women complaining about their babies in the rooms around me. I spent days just staring at the wall, praying for the day to end so the next day would come and we'd be one more day closer to getting Geoff out safe and healthy, with good lungs and no long term impact on his body.

TBS ran "A Christmas Story," non stop for those 2 weeks.
I must have watched it 6 times a day for 2 whole weeks. THAT was the best part of being there in the hospital.

I didn't enjoy the overall experience.

They released me to go home on December 22, 1996 and told me they thought I'd be back there that night. I wasn't. We went through the rest of December, and with periodic check ups, my doctor marveled at my body, and told me I had an amniotic "sack of steel" or something because I was defying all the textbooks AND the laws of gravity by not breaking water.

We got to January 6th, and my doctor estimated Geoff would weigh over 9 lbs on that day, over 10lbs if I made it to my due date. He told me that it was safe for him to be born 2 full weeks before his due date and told me to come back the next day, he'd break the water, we'd have the baby.

So we did. And that's how Geoff came to be on January 7, 1997. In one hour, 45 minutes.

It was a long December, and a quick start to the new year, which indeed was better than the last.

I remember walking Geoffrey around in the middle of the night in our very cold livingroom (we had to put a new furnace in and hadn't gotten to it, and that January was bitter cold)... He was all bundled in sleepers and jammies and a blanket and was doing the usual baby crying in the middle of the night thing, and I'd sing "Long December" to him.

If he gets married some day, I'd like to dance with him at his wedding to that song. He'll be so tall, blonde, and beautiful, and I'll dance with my baby. And only a few people will know why we have that song as the mother/son dance at his wedding.


It's been a long December. There is a lot of pain in a lot of people's hearts with September 11th, job losses, war... and I ask myself if there really IS reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.

I can only hope, and tell myself to hold on to these moments as they pass...

Happy New Year to you all.


  1. I don't mist up over blog entries. I don't. It just never happens.

    But this one got some big fats tears dangling off the ends of my eyelashes.

    Thank you for sharing this, and for remembering it all so beautifully.

  2. thanks matthew... i cry reading it too. 2001 was a hard year.

  3. Anonymous4:18 PM

    Wow! I do remember reading this way back when. But reading it again gave me chills and brought me to tears. I guess we all have had our long Decembers. ((HUG))