losing Georgia


     My daughters due date is getting closer and that's supposed to be a super neat feeling, like one hundred Christmas mornings! But it's not and instead it's just like waiting for a bomb to go off inside my chest. Georgia was supposed to be born on September 23rd, but instead she was born on May 20th. She was born at 21 weeks, splat in the grey area of development when she was just old enough to require a death certificate and just too young to have functioning lungs.

     I've been trying to figure out what the beginning was. Just like I am trying to figure out when the end will be. The most painful moments seem to blend in with the most normal days, maybe for years to come. Sometimes when I am washing dishes my mind finds itself back on her birthday and I turn the water on as hot as it will go so I can focus on the burning sensation in my hands. Sometimes I just force myself to feel something else. Either way, I suspect everything in my life has been divided. I know about before Georgia was born and I know about after Georgia was born. Losing a baby, any child, is the nightmare you live in the shadow of from the day you become a parent. I've spent 8 years now being a mom, everyday fighting back the gnawing fright that someone or something awful is coming to take away the only truly good thing I ever did, my Avery. I wasn't there yet, in the fear, with my daughter Georgia. Conceiving was easy as pie. I was healthy and strong in my pregnancy. We named her Georgia Rae and each syllable felt perfectly hers. We bought stuff. I was feeling her tumbles every day. I was having the idyllic planned pregnancy I had long suspected wasn't in the cards for me. I had settled in to the hormonal, restless days of pregnancy. And so, I was blindsided when everything went slowly, then with blistering speed, off-course.

     A really sad story is always punctuated by elements of the absurd. Like the undignified way I realized, on the toilet, that something was not right. Something was... coming out, for lack of a gentler description, and way too soon. My rational brain went into a panic-induced suspended animation and I did laps around my house for a few minutes, holding my crotch, trying to decide who to call in a situation like this. I got it together enough to dial up my friend Teal (who seemed like a compromise between my husband and 9-1-1, in the moment) and from there things got truly surreal. The ambulance is coming! I can't feel the THING coming out anymore! The emergency operator tells my friend to (brace yourself) LOOK IN ME to see if the baby is coming out (which a few awkward moments later we established-it's not!) then there are paramedics, and everything is fine! I'm not bleeding! There is nothing in the birth canal! There's no pain! My blood pressure is normal!

     Then I feel stricken as I realize I absolutely must be going crazy. I actually hallucinated that something was protruding from my vagina. I'm mentally unsound, that is the only explanation. The paramedics are probably trying not to patronize me, the crazy pregnant paranoid woman, as they ask me to hop onto the stretcher for my obligatory trip to the ER. My friend, no doubt sensing the leisurely calm of my rescue team, puts my purse on my lap and tells me to call her when I get to the hospital. I feel like a tool, sitting up on that thing, wheeled down the curb, knowing my neighbors are watching my crazy person walk (roll?) of shame. I spend most of the ambulance ride thinking about what kind of apology gift you send to someone who just had to look inside you for no reason. Flowers? A gift certificate to see a movie with her boyfriend? As we ride along I send texts, I call my husband, I listen to the nice man as he takes my blood pressure again and tells me these kind of scares are pretty typical. It's probably a low hanging placenta...

    At the hospital (in another splendid display of the tragic absurdity I mentioned before) two nurses and a doctor spend about 5 minutes all consulting their iphone due date apps. They were trying to figure out if I was really eligible to head upstairs to OBGYN (20 weeks or more) or if I had to get wheeled behind a curtain beside the dehydrated homeless guy in the ER (less than 20 weeks.) Once their phones reach a consensus, no thanks to me blankly repeating "21 weeks. I am 21 weeks. I am due September 23rd. I am 21 weeks pregnant," I get to go upstairs to a bed and a really sweet nurse. Sweet nurse puts the heartbeat monitor on my belly bump and that hypnotic da-thump da-thump da-thump rapid fire baby heartbeat fills up my mind and the room and my body releases all the muscles I've been clenching for an hour. "See..." she says "everything is fine, relax." My husband Dave finds me, to all my senses he is a lifeboat, and we hold hands and we are okay, for the last moment for a long time.

     I'm not mad at Sweet Nurse for being wrong. She made an educated assumption. Sweet nurse looked really sorry and authentically sad when she pulled what felt like her whole arm out of me to say that I was actually dilated 2-3cm and my fluid sac was leaking. That pesky, leaky fluid sac was actually the THING I felt coming out to begin with. It had flopped down, been exposed to bacteria, then sucked back up before I knew what was happening. Stupid, stupid fluid sac. It would have been nice to have had another instant of hopeful confusion before I knew. But something way back in my brain, where I keep fragmented bits of text from countless hours on the internet, extracted some pregnancy article on early labor and I knew that all those symptoms together are irreversible. I knew that I was going to give birth very soon, and that my baby girl was going to die.

    I don't know, I guess I've read things or watched movies or heard stories told about those terrible, tunnel-vision moments.  I wish I was a good writer who could describe it in a meaningful way.  I wish I was a terrible writer who never had this story to tell. I know the sobbing was instantaneous and the rage. I felt my body so acutely, lying heavy in that bed in a puddle, and I hated it (the first flash of a disdain for my own flesh that I'm still fighting today.) I saw my husband start to cry. I felt my baby moving, spurred into waking by the stress and the prodding. I felt like clawing my own skin off. After a few minutes someone had the sense to take the monitor off my belly and Georgia's heartbeat was gone. What I felt then and for weeks after, and for a few moments every day since, was total failure. I had one real responsibility, one job, to keep Georgia safely inside me. To nourish and protect and hold her inside until she was prepared to join our family. And I failed. Not actively and not on purpose. I failed arbitrarily, for no reason. No one to blame and no good reason to hate myself. Like anyone ever needed a good reason.

     I knew she was in there, stretching out, kicking around, with no way to know what was coming at her. I knew she trusted me and I wondered if she'd be scared when she broke out into the light with no lungs, no warmth, no womb.

     Then there is all this... mess, in between. The prolonged discussion about taking an ambulance or driving ourselves to the other hospital where my OBGYN was waiting, the bag of mega-pads and hospital panties I got as a parting gift, the surreal drive over and the more surreal waiting room where I sat, painlessly laboring, clutching my pad-bag, in the room with other expectant moms and swaddled infants. I remember feeling like they were all incredibly insensitive with their healthy babies and ripe belly bumps. My husband held my hand and kissed my shoulder as I got my second elbow deep examination in as many hours. I left a puddle of blood on the table, dripping onto the floor, when I left in a wheelchair to be admitted to the maternity ward. My room was the last room left and the biggest, right next to the wards expansion zone where a construction crew drilled and hammered so hard the nurses and I yelled back and forth all the necessary information. They taped a yellow flower to our door to let staff and visitors know who we were. Do not smile and say congratulations to the people in this room. A pretty corsage marking a sort of quarantine.

     If you add in the fact that labor probably started the night before I went to the hospital, I was in it for three days. That is three times as long as I labored with my Avery, 8 years ago. The answer is no, the cruel joke atmosphere of the whole weekend never stopped escalating. For the first 48 hours I felt nothing but the bubbly tickle of Georgia tossing and turning, each roll reminding me that she was fine in there, where she was and couldn't stay. No contractions at all while they gave me dose after dose of medicine to speed up the process. I remained firmly stuck in just enough labor to be devastating, but not enough to see an end to the torture. I remember feeling like maybe it was a mistake. I was obviously fine and maybe if they just let me lie there for six to eight more weeks with my legs crossed she'd build those robust lungs I knew she was working on and we'd be fine! But to their credit no one gave me any reason to be hopeful. So we chatted idly about the talking heads on VH1 and Dave kept me in crackers and juice while we waited. I was encouraged to get up and walk around the ward, which after one quick stroll we realized was a terrible idea. Have you ever been in a maternity ward? It's all black and white photos of newborns and families bringing giant bouquets to day one parents. Then there is that giant picture window you can stroll by to gawk at the brand new, living babies. It's emotional Fallujah out there. I stayed inside my room after that.

     My nurses were a small team of efficient guardian angels. They were perfectly supportive, kind, and gentle women who stood quietly aside when I needed to cry uncontrollably on Dave, made sure I was prepared before each heartbreaking lurch forward in the process, and never let us feel abandoned in our grief. In a graceful confluence of events, each of my nurses shared that they had been through the same experience. One told me about her baby born at 19 weeks and the other shared that she had given birth to a stillborn child after a full-term pregnancy. Without them there I may not have known how okay it was to be bawling one moment, then watching Law and Order on our TV the next, sipping on a diet coke. I may not have known how vitally important it would be to hold my daughter when she was born and say goodbye. Without my angels I may not have thought to take pictures of my daughter that I keep with me all the time, taking them out to privately glow with pride because to me she is so, so beautiful. 
    I wouldn't want anyone I love to know about the quiet, no-fuss way you give birth to a baby who isn't going to make it. There is no team of nurses, no brightly lit machinery, no bustle. They didn't put me in stirrups like the first time around, and there was very little commotion or noise while I bared down. Just my husband holding my hand in the dimly lit room and the doctor/nurse team sitting gently on each side of the foot of my bed.  The only aspect reminiscent of my childbirth experience was the pain. Yeah, you'd think pushing out a fatally tiny infant would be a little... gentler? No such luck. Nicely played, Universe! Insult to injury and then some.

     There was the strangest time, seemingly endless, between when I felt her come out and when they put her in my arms. In that time I couldn't see her and my nurse told me she was beautiful, but... There is no reason to be precious about it so I'll just say that I had no idea what to expect and my teeth were chattering in terror while I waited to see what they were going to hand me. I didn't have any reason to know what a 21 week old baby would look like. I thought maybe she'd be blue and malformed. But then she was wrapped up in a blankie and placed in my arms and she was completely, outrageously, knife to the stomach perfect. She didn't look to me like anything but the little angel we'd been waiting for. I know it must be different, so much harder, for parents who lose children they raised and nurtured. But in the very second I held her, all the gaps were filled and I knew her. I knew her eyes, too young to open, and her exquisite fingernails and bulbous little knees. I could feel her and I knew she could feel me. I don't know how long exactly her heart beat for but I know she could hear me when I told her how sorry I was. I know she could hear me when I told her how much I loved her. I still know her now when I lie down at night and tell her I miss her. Or when I walk through the baby clothes at Target and tell her about all the onesies I like that I would have bought for her. Or when I pray and ask us to be patient because one day we'll see each other again.

The End but also a beginning.

* I'd like to give a shout out to the organization Luke Lives On for providing the hospital and myself with wonderful memory boxes to pay tribute to babies gone to soon. I think their mission to give the tenderness and respect to us parents and our lost children is amazing.


blah blah blah, etc.

 Please note that below you will find a winding, self-indulgent, photo-less blog-entry. I can only warn you and then perhaps, entice you to know that several more blog-entries are scheduled which are far more pointed, interesting, and photo-centric... while probably not less self-indulgent. Bear with me for I have been reading lots of self-help books and watching many episodes of the worlds most soulful show, the X-Files. Proceed*

See, the thing about it is, I have no idea what's going on. 

No, that's not entirely true. I know SOME things that are going on. I know it's apocalyptically hot in Austin, I know I am moving to a new house this very week, I know my daughter is in first grade (that means I can no longer spell out secrets), I know I have the world's kindest (and most patient) husband, and I know... wait, I just blanked. How bizarre is that? My level of certainty in this world today lasted four whole items in a row. It's unsettling if not sinister. 

The situation as it stand is that I am in a transitional mode, so to speak, in all areas of my life. I am racing towards that oh-so pivotal 30 years on the planet mark (still waiting on the reason that is such an important number, I hope it involves being inducted into a secret supernatural society! that would be neat.) Whether my age has anything to do with all the other chaos, I know not! But on the same horizon there is a litany of decisions to be made and each one comes with it's own crooked, possibly hand-painted, cryptic crossroads sign. Like you see in old movies or allegorical storybooks... picture the two roads headed east and west respectively, one sign points towards "scary possible land of enchantment" and the other towards "dreamland of perhaps fulfilled desires." It's like choosing between cerulean and sea-foam in a crayon box. The only difference between them is what you feel like after your picture is colored.

The difficulty of decision making only filters down for me, the way my synapses fire (or to put it less kindly, the way I have debilitating anxiety). Thinking about whether or not to have another baby and effectively restart the long-haul to independence (by that I mean having a margarita at 6PM on a weekday cause I can and it's been SIX LONG YEARS) all over again somehow paralyzes my upper brain functions in such a way as to make other decisions (to shave my legs today or not? to buy a breakfast taco or make oatmeal at home?) nearly impossible. I see an infinite stream of possible events spider-veining out from the minutiae of my daily life. What if shaving makes me late and sets off a chain-reaction of hurrying and frazzlement which I will inevitably take out on my family later? What if that breakfast taco means I can't budget in an iced coffee later today? E-gad. The fact that I devote time and energy to WORRYING about such inanities makes me self-hatred spiral right out of decision making mode!!! So there I am thoroughly disgusted with myself, first thing in the morning, and I have neither been able to shower or eat breakfast. Sigh.  It's not awesome or super-fun but it's who I am, today. And I am constantly pursuing and working for the skills it takes to overcome that kind of anxiety. Writing about it helps, meditation, pilates, the occasional whiskey drink. My friends. My husbands world-championship hugging skills. My daughters total disregard for whatever may be bothering me because she is 6 and when you're 6 your mom isn't even a person. There is such strange comfort in that! On my worst,  most anxiety-filled days I just remind myself that I may have no idea who I am, but I know who Avery's mom is and I have identity eternal through her. See, now, that makes me want to have another baby! Go back to start.

All this pop-psychology is getting a little confusing and I do have a point. Blogging and keeping a personal journal are two steps on my (therapists) list of ways to occupy my brain and creative energy. Streamlined, you know... flowing smoothly and with purpose towards all of those chaos causing choices... The blogging publically is important because I am a "sharer." A person devoid of the ability to keep it in. Never a woman of mystery, my husband knew way too much about me after our first date (not like that, dirty bird), because try as I might (if I ever did try) I want people to know me. I fish for a connection, a flare up inside the eyes, sparks of recognition and relation to rain down on me. I want to know I am seen and felt and so I cast out my nets in the form of personal details, childhood stories, dramas, memories... and I wait for yessss me too moments. Nothing wrong with it, as far as I can tell. I'm not ashamed of those desires, like I have been in the past. I feel best when I put myself out there, whether what I attract back to myself is connection or criticism.

Soooooo after what I believe was subconsciously a "vacation from my life" this summer, in the form of being anywhere but here and doing anything but the things that usually make up my life for 6 weeks, I am back and clinging to the shiny, tiny gem of clarity I achieved. If I continue to work on myself, if I continue to be open, and if I continue to be self-aware, the paths to choose will reveal themselves. And when they don't, I will work harder. What to do about family? What to do about business? What to do about body, faith, money, interior design, breakfast, hair color, etc... Those aren't the questions to be answered because they are all answers themselves, to the question of who I am. It's so cliche, so painfully trite, you'd think I'd be more embarrassed to reveal that I just know figured that out. Funny enough, I am a lot of things but I am not easily embarrassed :)

*feel free to skip reading this because all it really says is that I am going to try blogging again.

old words. new day. no pictures.

"I love a good hometown song. I love a good hometown. I think everyone should pack their bags and leave though. Separate yourself from what makes you, from your identity. Leave the posters on the walls and your half empty bottles of shampoo in the shower. Disregard your magazine subscriptions and drive east for as many miles as you can in two and a half days. Stop for abandoned industrial complexes and etched marigolds and estate sales. Pull over for graveyards, abandoned cars, and church bake sales. Listen to the local radio, whatever comes in, through the entire desert stretch. flat yellow and subversive. This is not a road trip this is a growing pain. A groan and a baptism, trial by fire, by sun, by dust, by grip and smoke and dehydration. Eat in your car at night. Be invisible for the time being, be the mystery diner in a wasted town. Guess the secrets of patrons and passers by. Imagine them in bed, with their eyes closed and mouths open, gaping and gritting. Don’t keep a journal, it ruins the myth and desecrates the memories. The memories will forever be that cryptic silent laugh the instant before the drag the slant of your eye to the side the shuffling foot, the perfect kink in a steady character."

magical creatures, insidious creatures!

Sitting outside in a muggy thunderstorm listening to the rain on the porch roof seems like the right time to embrace your inner mystic and believe in those creatures we fear and hunt and desire. Those creatures we don't even know we believe in until we hear something behind us in the dark, hear our name called but not with our ears, feel ourselves pulled in a direction without a path. xo Sarah

The Huldra or Skosgra of Scandinavian Folklore


Seen from the front she is a stunningly beautiful, naked female being with long hair; from behind she is hollow like an old tree trunk. In Norway she has a cow's tail, and in Sweden she may have that of a cow or a fox. In Norway she has often been described as a typical dairymaid, wearing the clothes of a regular farm-girl, although somewhat more dazzling than most girls. 

The huldra lures men into the forest to have sex with her, rewarding those who satisfy her and often killing those who don't. She often steals human infants and replaces them with her own ugly huldrebarn (changeling Huldre children). She has long been associated with hunting; she might blow down the barrel of a huntsman's rifle, causing it never thereafter to miss a shot. Some are not so lucky, or perhaps skilled, and escape her only after surrendering their sanity.


Huldra would also sometimes try to marry human men, keeping their identity secret until marriage; only that blessing could rid them of their tails. If mistreated, a huldra would visit terrible vengeance upon her husband. 


A boy in Tiveden went fishing, but he had no luck. Then he met a beautiful lady, and she was so stunning that he felt he had to catch his breath. But, then he realized who she was, because he could see a fox's tail sticking out below the skirt. As he knew that it was forbidden to comment on the tail to the lady of the forest, if it was not done in the most polite manner, he bowed deeply and said with his softest voice: Milady, I see that your petticoat shows below your skirt. The lady thanked him gracefully and hid her tail under her skirt, telling the boy to fish on the other side of the lake. That day, the boy had great luck with his fishing and he caught a fish every time he threw out the line. This was the Huldra's recognition of his politeness. (text source)

sxsw was all about MFV. no, really.

I have just now, Friday, found the strength to think about and thus address the Magnolia Family Vintage South By Southwest experience. 5 marathon days of boothing, drinking, dust, sun, not sleeping, live music and yelling as a result of all the live music left me stranded in a haze. I was a zombie for a few days. Luckily with a steady regimen of napping, kombucha, urban detox, and Grey's Anatomy on Netflix, I have come back to the light.

Last week was definitely an amazing, magical experience and we couldn't be more grateful to Cheer Up Charlies where we set up all week, or to our friends who set up with us. Check out We Are Tribe on ebay, our girls from Kansas City, and keep your eyes peeled for Stray Cat Vintage, coming soon, which is the brainchild of Mama Tara right here in Austin. As a group we worked our asses off and I can tell you with all the authenticity in my heart, we are Hustlaaaaas! I feel like we made a kajillion new friends and I was so moved by how many of our already friends showed up and gave us their support over the week. I am still compelled to just spew thank yous over and over. I can't stop. I am a gratitude monster. I will consume you with joyful appreciation. It's just how I feeeeeeeel guys!!

We opened it up and we shut it down. We were all things to all party goers. Not to diminish the roles of the people who, you know, actually WORKED at the venue or PERFORMED music... just saying, someone had to point to the stage and the bar when weary sxsw'ers crawled in needing sustenance! and if you got cold because you were dressed for noon and it somehow turned into night? WE HAD SWEATERS! Maybe you got dressed at 8AM and your skinny jeans were melting your crotch off? WE HAD CUTOFFS! Maybe you're that one girl who lost her shoes in the dead milkmen pit. WE HAD SHOOOOOOES! I never, ever like to be dramatic. But I think we saved lives. Or at least inappropriately dressed people.

I will show you pictures! Taken between Wednesday morning and Sunday night...



















































I hope you enjoy!

Seacrest OUT.