Hope manifests itself in weird ways, sometimes.
take, for instance, a pile of fingernail clippings

As they were discharging me from the hospital two weeks ago, they gave me a lot of Very Firm Instructions about what sorts of activities I Could and Could Not Get Up To.  Long story short, between that, the miscarriage, and traveling, I have not been on a climbing wall in over a month.  The upside to this is that I have grown a truly lovely set of nails.  The downside to this is... a certain lack of inner peace.

I was supposed to have a doctor's appointment this past Friday, during which I hoped to be cleared for normal activities (ie, climbing and hiking and All Good Things), but they called the Wednesday before and rescheduled it to today.  So this morning I woke up, did my yoga, and then very hopefully trimmed all my lovely nails down to the near-quick.  Just in case.

Of course, it wasn't just climbing I was hopeful about.  I was also hoping I might get some Answers about the miscarriage.  Those (if they exist) are unfortunately still pending.

But I did get back on the wall.

It was bittersweet.  After a month away I have no endurance, no calluses, and very little strength.  And then some climbing acquaintances came in with their baby, which was painful in a very particular way.  But I did get to move and flow on the wall, and I know it will get better.

I hope it will get better.


Starting from Scratch

Our white picket fence is a travesty of mildew and decay.

Nathan aims to remedy that.


Things for Myself

I have decided that, in light of recent events, now is the time to very, very nice to myself.  As such, I made a list of Nice Things to Do For Myself Before August.  That list includes things like getting a massage, taking a seaweed bath, getting my legs waxed, and getting my hair refreshed.  You know, all that really nice stuff that we always tell ourselves is too expensive to justify.  Well I'm justifying it.

(I also have a Nice Things to Do For Myself Before November list, which includes getting a new tattoo.  Stay tuned.)

Aaaaanyway, this morning Nathan took me down to Portland to get my hair did (while he took the car to ferry the pig to the vet), and afterwards I took a walk about town.
seen on a walk

Whilst I was wandering (to REI and Lush, among other places), I saw a status update from some friends encouraging people to swing by and see them at the event they were volunteering at.  So once Nathan found me again we did so- and that is how we discovered Reverend Nat's Hard Cider.  They were celebrating the one-year anniversary of their tap room being open, so we loaded up on wooden nickles and then got loaded on tastings.  Well, I did, anyway, because I currently have the tolerance of an anemic hummingbird.

Nathan drove us home, and I sobered up just in time to meet a girlfriend down at a favorite bar and get drunk all over again.  Good times, good times!

(No for real.  When you don't drink for three months there is a lot of catching up to do.)


Draw My Insides Out

Had my blood drawn today, for my follow-up appointment on Monday.  I guess I'm still a little bruised from the IVs, because I was a little more sensitive about the needle than usual.

My arm tattoos always get a reaction from phlebotomists.  And then I always say, "I circled it for you!" and if they laugh I know we're going to get along okay.


Blank Canvas

This evening I went over to a friend's house, with the express purpose of drinking wine and painting shoes:
These shoes, specifically.

We did in fact drink wine (along with dinner), and I did in fact paint one shoe, although the other remains blank.  We'll still count it as Mission Accomplished, however.  I need to paint the other one, obviously, and then go over both of them with permanent marker to lay in line-work and shading.  I'll probably do a process blog once they're both finished.

It was really nice to sit in a shared creative space and get my (slightly inebriated) art on.  It took me back to a good place, a college-type place.  Makes me want to do it more often.


Fresh, for Now

Still plugging away at bibs for my passel of pregnant ladies.  I started this one while I was still pregnant- finished it, well, tonight.  I had to put it aside for quite some time, and honestly I sort of vacillated between resentment and tenderness as I worked on it (and the other one that bridged the now-you're-pregnant-now-you're-not spectrum).  I do, however, feel that they are weirdly therapeutic, and anyway I'm quite pleased with the end results, so that's all for the good.

Can't lie.

I have only one more of these bad boys (the fifth) to turn out for 2014, and then one lined up for early 2015- but I won't have to worry about that one for many months.  In the meantime, I'm sure I'll find other, less sensitive projects to keep me busy...


The Volunteers

I am not the world's best gardener.  In fact, I am a pretty freaking lackadaisical gardener who hates working in the sun and has recently decided that if I'm going to do any yardwork at all it has to be in the rain.  My nonchalant attitude towards my garden pretty much proves that gardening is in no way a genetic trait, because my mother and both my grandmothers excel/ed at it.  They Know Things About Plants, whereas I am just mystified and generally operate on the, "It will probably grow back?" principle of gardening.

(Spoiler: this is not always the case.  Stupid mint.)

One thing my mother did manage to teach me (in spite of my varicolored thumbs) is that a weed is only a weed if you don't want it there.  As such, I (like she) am in the habit of "let's just see what it is"ing a lot of plants that randomly pop up in unexpected places.  We call them "volunteers", and it's how I got my gladiolas a few years back, and more recently how I got my lilies:
Gentle readers, I literally had no idea those were even there until I sat down on my back porch ten minutes ago and happened to glance at a large planter that has been barren for three years (this is how much attention my poor garden gets).  And there they were, smiling at me all cheerful and zesty-orangey.  Lilies.

I love lilies.

Thanks, Universe.


The Facts

I miscarried two weeks ago.  Hopefully this post will answer most of the common questions people might have about the whole experience.

I was 14 weeks, three days into my pregnancy (that's a little over three months, for those of you confused by the whole pregnancy-in-weeks thing) which means I was in the second trimester, which means what happened is termed a "late miscarriage".  It is not common.  We had a 2% chance of it happening.

We'd nick-named the fetus "the Koopa" due to its striking resemblance to such in an early ultrasound.

I had what is referred to as a "natural miscarriage", which means I essentially gave birth.  I did it at home. This was by far a better choice for me personally than going to the ER.  Your mileage may vary.

We were not expecting it.  We'd last seen the Koopa's heartbeat on an ultrasound that Friday morning.  I miscarried in the first dark hours of Sunday.  I didn't even fully understand/accept that it was happening until I was actively "giving birth", because I'd gone through similar contractions that Thursday night and again- everything appeared fine.  From start to finish the whole thing took perhaps three hours.

We went to the doctor the following Monday, and I gave the Koopa and parts of my placenta to pathology.  I appeared to be perfectly healthy, with no obvious reason for me to have miscarried.

As it turned out, unfortunately, I was not "perfectly healthy".  Less than a week later, on a Thursday night, I began hemorrhaging.  This resulted in a trip to the ER, an approximate 30% blood loss, and an emergency D&C, which revealed that I had a rather large portion of placenta still in my uterus.  Thanks to modern medicine, I came out the other side of things, and spent an additional five days recovering at home.

Since that nerve-wracking Thursday night we have gotten the pathology report back: the Koopa was in perfect physical condition, and there was no sign of infection, so again- no obvious reason to have miscarried.  Chromosomal results will take longer, and they may or may not have more answers for us.  I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor this week, which I expect will lead to further tests to try and discover "Why did this happen?"  But I am fully aware that sometimes the only answer is, "It just did."

We did not choose to bury Koopa.  In my imagination, after pathology was done with her she went on to help new doctors learn about miscarriage.  If you happen to know differently, I'd appreciate you letting me keep my illusions.  They're pretty and they give me comfort.

This was my second miscarriage, which increases my chances for miscarriage in the future to 18%.  Of course, we haven't decided yet if we're going to try again.  Only time will tell.

Nathan and I are doing reasonably well, all things considered.  We have been surrounded with love and support by our family and friends, and we know we will be okay in the long run.

If you would like to read about my first miscarriage, you can go here and follow the rabbit hole.

If you'd like to read a more visceral description of what happened two weeks ago, that's here.  But I totally get it if you don't.


This is a narrative about an unexpected, natural miscarriage in the second trimester.

It's graphic.

Only you can decide if you're comfortable reading it.  If you'd rather have just the cold facts, go here.  If you don't want to know anything about it at all, that's okay, too.


The contractions start about half an hour before midnight.

I'm not pleased, obviously.  There shouldn't be any contractions at all, and I'm not in the mood for another sleepless night.  But it's not like there's anything I can do about it.

Well, there are a few things.  I take some acetaminophen, and I let myself express my displeasure (and pain) verbally, something I didn't do the other night while Nathan was sleeping.  Deep breaths, grunting out "Okay, okay, okay, okay," as the pain rises up to a peak, then slowly subsides.  Waves, waves... so much of a woman's life is tied to the ocean...

After about an hour of this I decide to get into the shower.  The pain isn't so bad as it was the other night- at their peak these contractions are hitting a 6 rather than an 8- but it's plenty bad enough that I know I have no chance of sleeping through them.  It's shower time.  Hot water helped last time, I'm sure it will help this time.  Another one hits me as I'm getting under the water, and I make unhappy noises with no real words involved- Nathan hears me from downstairs, and comes rushing in.

I don't want him to see me like this, to see me in pain and be unable to do anything, but at the same time it's a relief not to keep silent like I was before, to be able to yell "Fuck!" and hit the wall with my hand whenever I feel the need.  Which I do often.  The contractions are getting worse, and coming more frequently.  Whatever helps me through one is not guaranteed to help me through the next- in fact it's pretty much guaranteed not to.

I ask Nathan to look up how to breathe through contractions- he finds me a few tips, but they're written in such smug, calm voices that I cannot help but feel highly annoyed by them, and certain that the people who wrote those instructions have never actually experienced a contraction.

There's no thinking during contractions, not really.  There's no talking, beyond perhaps the word, "Fuck," or "Ow".  Plenty of inarticulate growls and grunts.  But in between contractions I can think, and what I keep thinking, as if on a loop, is,

"This is fucking bullshit.  Unfair, god damn bullshit."

At one point I say to Nathan, "Know what?  One baby is good.  One perfect baby.  No need to go through this again."

For real.  This is not what pregnancy is supposed to be like.

Another contractions hits, and I twist and howl and wish desperately to escape my body.  Maybe this would be easier, if I knew I would get a live baby at the end of it.  But I don't know that.  The best I can hope for is for it to just stop, to fade away like it did the other night.  But it doesn't stop.

I've told Nathan over and over that I don't want to go to the hospital- we went for the first miscarriage, and it was sheer misery.  They can't do anything to stop a miscarriage, all they can do is charge you a couple thousand bucks to ignore you for six hours.

"If I miscarry again," I've said, "I want to do it in the comfort and dignity of my own home."

But now Nathan is looking at me and he saying, "Baby I'm worried about you.  I'm afraid if we don't go then something will go wrong with you,"

"Pain can't... hurt me," I say, fully aware of the irony.  "Pain won't kill me.  The only danger I'm in is of bleeding out, and we'll keep an eye on it and I promise I'll let you take me to the hospital if it comes to that."

Shortly thereafter a contraction hits that blows right through my anger, and instead makes me whimper like an injured animal, and cry.  I am literally crying, tears leaking from my eyes, and that's when I know shit is real, because I have no choice about it.  Normally I can choose whether or not to "let" myself cry, but this?  This is happening because it is the only possible response to the pain that I'm in.  Even when the contraction passes I'm still curled in a ball in the tub, crying, bewildered, broken.

This is wrong.

Normally I don't like to be touched when I'm in pain, but for this I've let Nathan put his hand on me.  Suddenly, I have to go to the bathroom.

"Let me  up," I say, and I can hear the desperation in my voice.  He does, and I scramble to the toilet.  A very small, distant part of my brain knows what this is.

The desire to push feels exactly like the desire to poop,

More than one woman has told me that, but it's one thing to know something intellectually, and another thing to actually believe it.

The pain comes to a crescendo and thank the gods Nathan is still holding me because I'm not just crying, it's like the sobs are being ripped from my body in great gasping sorrowful shrieks because I do push, and I feel my body passing something, and I know what that something is.  And I'm afraid of it, afraid afraid afraid...

The pain subsides almost immediately.

"It's okay," I say to Nathan, strangely calm through my tears.  "It's over now.  It's over."

And then he understands, and we cry together, his rage boiling up and over and serving to make me calmer and calmer.  Now I have to pass the placenta.  I have to collect the samples.  I have to be very cold, and logical about this.  I don't have time to break down.  I can do that later.

I send Nathan away so I can collect the fetus.  At first I don't want to.  I'd give anything not to look and see the premature horror I've birthed.  But more than that, I don't want Nathan to have to see.  So I send him away, because I know that I have seen worse things in my life, and I will probably see things worse still in the future.

I send up a silent prayer that I never have to see anything worse.

But then I look and... it's not terrible.  It's not terrible at all.  There she is, perfectly formed, so perfect perfect perfect in her unbroken sack.  Fourteen weeks, three days.  I saw her heartbeat less than 48 hours ago.  I scoop her up, and I don't feel disgust, or horror- just sorrow.  And relief.  She is not a monster.  She just... is.


A Passing Fancy

Seen on my walk to Crystal's house:


The Patient

Isis went in for double knee surgery yesterday, and we got her back today.
She is very pitiful.
 We're at the beginning of a long, tedious recovery- she has to be confined to a small space for the next two months, followed by an additional two months of slowly increased activity.  At the end of it, however, she'll be good as new- better even- with a high quality of life for years and years to come.



An Embarrassment of Riches

rubies, emeralds, sapphires, citrines


Tiny Memories

A few years back, after my grandmother died, I helped my aunt go through some of her stuff to take mementos for my brother and myself.  One of the things I took was this little jade seal.

The ironic thing is, I'm pretty sure my grandmother bought it during one of her visits to see us in Alaska.

You know, as a memento.


The End of a Vacation

Nothing much to report today, except that the flight out of Reno was much easier than the one in.

The cats were initially pretty pissed with us, but, you know... then we fed them.
All is forgiven.


Shelter in the Stone

We got up relatively early this morning in an attempt to take a (much-enthused-over) gondola ride, but apparently those don't start up until the 13th of this month.  Lame.  So instead we just ventured back over to Emerald Bay (now we've driven all the way around the rim!  Hooray!) to do a hike that Bridge's dad highly recommended.

And boy was he right to recommend it!
Niiiiiice trail surface.  Goooooood trail surface!
The hike was up to Cascade Falls, only about two miles round-trip, without much in the way of elevation change.  The only thing that made it at all challenging was the relentless sun, which wasn't even all that bad so long as there was wind going.  At one point Nathan stopped to take some shots of Cascade Lake, and I found a convenient stone to snuggle up to.  Here's what I jotted down at the time:

I love how I can be almost too cool here in the shade of this rock.  I feel sheltered, safe from the too-harsh sun.  I always knew I was a water-girl, but it took me until my thirties to realize that I am a stone girl, as well.

We reached the top and I had a lovely time splashing about in the stream, and scrambling over more rocks to the edge of the waterfall.  Nathan was dubious about me doing these things until I coaxed him close enough to see that it was basically broad, flat stair-steps all the way: nothing precarious about it!

Plus, like I said- I'm a stone girl, as well.


The Day of Recovery

It's been a Recovering sort of day.

We slept in as long as we could, then drove slowly (more slowly than we'd have liked, thanks to a combination of road work and a seemingly unending bike race) down to South Lake Tahoe, where we proceeded to nap for a few hours.

Then I went out walking, to explore the area, and spent some time down at the "beach".
(I will never never never accept "beach" as an acceptable synonym for "lake shore".  QUOTATION MARKS FOREVER.)

It was a nice start to the sunset, but I hustled my way back up to the hotel because Game of Thrones was coming on, and for the first time in four years we're staying in a place with HBO on Sunday night.

(Good night, sweet prince!  And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!)