It’s Saturday. Not since October 5th have I sighed in such a way. Each Saturday brought with it a smarting reminder of how far along I would have been.
One year ago today was my first Saturday, when I got my first and only BFP. A final domino placed at the beginning of a line of dominoes that had been waiting out of view since the moment of my conception.
After years of pragmatically waiting for, if not the best time, a better time to have a baby, I stared at those two pink lines in a mixture of joy and shock, with a dash of terror. But mostly joy.
The domino began to topple.
In an instant, my life had changed. Life wasn’t just about me anymore. I knew it then, but couldn’t have known what “for the rest of my life” would mean. A few weeks later, I had the beginnings of a tiny bump–invisible to anyone except DH and me. I took photos. My suggestion of a bump, of us looking so happy.
And then the domino struck the domino next to it.
It was like the hand of god ripped everything away from me. And then, just when I was beginning to recover, he dealt me two more cruel blows. Maybe it will all be worth it in the end. I don’t know now. But that’s why I write. And, recently, why I’ve been creating more art projects.
Today’s post is an art project about an art project.
My pregnancy didn’t end the way I thought it would, and I couldn’t bear to throw away my pregnancy tests. They sat in my desk drawer for a long time, evidence that I had been pregnant and was, yes, living a nightmare from which I wouldn’t wake up.
Then I learned about Jizo, the Buddhist bodhisattva who is the protector of travellers — meaning, people in a state of transition, like pregnant women, fetuses, children under the age of five. Mizuko Jizo, specifically, is the guardian of miscarried babies. Mizuko means ‘water child’ in Japanese, and Mizuko Kuyo is the memorial ceremony for such tiny babies. I began to amass a collection of treasures. Treasures for which I needed a memory box. I decided on a hollow book, but couldn’t find one I liked.
A search on Etsy for ‘water baby’ turned up a vintage book cover — the inside pages had been removed, but I didn’t mind too much. It was perfect. I’d just have to find a book without a cover that would fit. I went to my local library and found Annapurna, the “first conquest of an 8000-meter peak.” A book about a perilous journey risking life and limb? I loved the symbolism, and couldn’t have known that I would soon be facing my own uphill battle of mammoth proportions. I took the cover and the book to a local book-binder and they were bound together.
I picked up the finished book some time in May, but it wasn’t until September that I dared take a scalpel to it. By then, I’d decided to wait until my undue date to score the first page. At that point, we had learned about my genetic issues and were considering the possibility of egg donation. By the time the book had been hollowed and was ready to be filled, we had been matched with Nellie.
My hollow book, a memory box for the tangible proof of my Bean, stands on my bedside table next to the peace lily I buried him under. It is the first thing I see in the morning, and the last thing I see at night. I don’t mean to sound sentimental — I only just realised that as I wrote this.
♥ Mizuko Kuyo post ♥ Good luck charms, Buddhist prayer beads, and other gifts from friends who know loss ♥
♥ my treasures, with ultrasound (left) and without ♥
♥ the hollowed book ♥ pregnancy tests January 26th (14dpo), 27th (15dpo), 28th (16dpo), 2013 ♥ first ultrasound, February 26, 2013 ♥ second ultrasound, March 4, 2013 ♥ my D&C hospital bracelet ♥ two Guatemalan worry dolls I tied together to represent me hugging Bean ♥ a butterfly charm a friend sent me recently ♥ the lily flower that bloomed this summer ♥ WHO WAS ONE OF US excerpt from Annapurna dedication ♥ paper crane Christmas ornament ♥ THE ONLY CURE FOR ANYTHING IS SALT WATER: TEARS, SWEAT, OR THE SEA bottle cap ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
♥ haunting ♥ vivid ♥ horror ♥
LEFT: The Welsh Belle is a bell that belonged to my great-grandmother, Nanny. I loved playing with it as a child, but after she died I didn’t think to ask for it as an heirloom. I took it from my late grandmother’s flat in London and I hope one day it will grace my children’s nursery.
RIGHT: (Top) Lucky charms. (Bottom) A dog bead made by a young friend. A pretty pebble from my self-compassion class. A relic from my godmother, containing a piece of a St. Bernadette’s habit; the wallet says “Rien ici-bas n’approche de la Beauté que j’ai vu,” or “Nothing down here comes close to the beauty I’ve seen.” And a marzipan pig which I will never eat — a traditional New Year’s good luck symbol in Austria given to me by the lovely Sadie at My Invincible Spring.
My Jizo pebble that I slept with in my hand for months now sits in the earth in which I buried my Bean. As is customary, I offered him toys: a giraffe that represents the Sophie giraffe I hope to one day give my baby (or babies!); and two baby dolls, representing the children I hope to have — when I bought them, I thought they looked like twins but couldn’t have known then that IVF, much less DEIVF, and therefore twins would be a real possibility for us. There’s also a a penny from 2013, my second Jizo pendant, and a tinkling meditation ball.
One year on, I am haunted by so much that I need to let go of. I need to somehow say goodbye to all the genetic children I will never have, so I can make way for the ones I will have. I don’t know how, but preparing this post has come close. I wasn’t aware of the symbolism before now, but by hollowing out a book I am literally saying goodbye to one long chapter — closing a whole book, even — to begin a new one.