Friday, June 17, 2011

Finding Me - Part 4 of 4

August 2006 - June 2011
The Rest of the Story

I’ve found that the healing of an emotional wound is not so different than the healing of a physical one. As a teenager, I stepped into a hole and scraped a three-inch-long by half-inch-wide section of skin off the middle of my shinbone. The doctors were only able to stitch up the worst of it – a ¼ inch section at the top of the wound. The rest, they said, did not have enough skin left around it to stitch back together and would have to heal on its own. You can imagine the care that was needed as we nursed this open wound. Deep enough to see the bone, wide enough to stick your finger into, the risk of infection was great if we did not treat it properly. Likewise, my emotional wound needed gentle care at first, and I cleaned it out often by talking through my feelings with friends and family. As I scraped the edges of my wound the raw pain was severe but, once the bandages were carefully replaced, it felt a little better than it had before; a little cleaner.

But, of course, neither wound can heal back to what it was before, because scar tissue is not skin. If you run your finger up along my physical scar, you can feel how papery thin it is, and if you push gently you can feel the divot where my bone was chipped. The scar is tender, and it takes a surprisingly soft blow to break through. Similarly, I have been surprised at my tears after a seemingly soft bump to the scar in my emotions.

Another commonality is that initially, I was embarrassed by the scar on my leg but, over the years I have grown comfortable with it, and have even grown to love it. The feelings about my emotional scar seem to be following the same path; I am getting more comfortable with it, I appreciate it, accept it, and am even beginning to love the person it has made me into.

The difference is that it has always been very easy to see the borders of my physical scar, whereas my emotional scar is obviously much more abstract. I see now that there really are no borders to it at all. It's effect has permeated into all of me... Perhaps that's why it's taken so long to find myself again.


I find personalities to be a bit like jigsaw puzzles. I spend a lot of time staring at pieces from mine that seem to make no sense on their own, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of placing those pieces and seeing the bigger picture they are a part of. There are times when I feel I’ve just placed the very last piece, and as I step back to look at the complete picture, I feel good and calm and comfortable. I feel I know exactly who I am and feel confident in my skin. But, after a seemingly brief time of stability, something always happens to throw my puzzle up into the air and I watch as it crumbles back to the table in front of me in hundreds of pieces. It’s during this crumbling phase that I think the Lord throws in a handful of new pieces. New pieces that make it impossible to fit the puzzle back together the way it was before, but pieces that will make my completed puzzle look a little more like my Savior’s in the end.

I felt like a mountain of puzzle pieces was dumped into my lap when I lost Jess; so many that it took almost five years to piece back together the main images that make me me. Some of my personality traits are the same as they’ve always been: pensive, stubborn, analytical, quick to observe. Some of my personality traits are similar to what they were previously, only enriched with added colors and more pieces: faith in God, love for others, empathy, seeing the world with an eternal perspective.

But, some of my personality traits have changed completely. I spent the first five years waiting to ‘snap out of’ these traits. I’ve spent the last year learning to accept them. None of these changed traits are more noticeable than my hypersensitive (to me) ability to feel. As a college student, I sat in my little Honda Civic holding a graded test that I had not done very well on. Tears streamed down my face in response to the frustration I felt inside. I threw the test onto the passenger seat, wiped my tears and put the car in gear. As I drove out of the parking lot I wondered what I would ever cry about once school was over. There wasn’t much, other than a poor grade, that could make me cry.

This is not true anymore.

Little moments touch my heart deeply. Songs, commercials, quotes, and tender phrases often leave me with tearful eyes. Gratitude runs so deep it feels painful at times. Hurtful comments cut me like a knife. Frustrating days, overwhelming thoughts, sad stories; joyful reunions, sweet moments with my children, love for my husband. Through it all, I cry. This has brought a challenge with it, for I never really learned how to bridle my tears. Before Jess, if I felt like crying I would with no hesitation, and it has been difficult for me to learn how to stop the tears when I feel them coming. I realize now that I may always have to control my emotions and that I need to learn how to deal with this new part of me…this sensitive, vulnerable side.

Another change has been the subtle, but noticeable, shift into more of a realist and less of an optimist. Sometimes it’s hard for me to focus on the good in a given situation, where that was rarely the case previously.

I am also now much more reserved and thoughtful before I speak. This has been one of the most frustrating things to adjust to. I had enjoyed the ease of jumping into conversations and the comfort I felt when sharing my own opinions and thoughts. But now I find the opposite is true in that it is often hard for me to work my way into a conversation, and even when I’m involved in it, I often still don’t say much.

My puzzle is still so small and insignificant when I compare it to my Savior. But, even though I can’t quite see it yet, I think these pieces are all working together to get me a little closer to being like Him. And so I’ll take them. I’ll take the hard ones and the confusing ones; I’ll try to fit them in and I’ll exercise my faith in this hope that I am becoming more like Him.


Every day my feet have taken me a little further up on this mountain of healing. And, as I've climbed, an occasional lesson will make itself clear. These lessons are very meaningful to me, and seem to have a depth to them that convinces me that I would not have learned them without traveling through a difficult trial:

*It takes a long time to heal. And, sadly, you can’t really speed it up. People told me this in the very beginning, but my mistake was in not understanding their interpretation of what a long time is. One month, maybe two? By three months I felt there was something wrong with me and in a tearful conversation with my mom over the phone I said, “But it’s been three months, Mom! Why am I still crying all the time?” Her reply began with a gentle laugh, “Oh, Linds. Three months is not a long time.” I disagreed. Ninety days of sadness? I felt that qualified as ‘a long time’. Today my perspective is different.

*People are almost always acting through a good heart. It’s hard to know what to say to someone who is grieving. People want to help. They want to say something that will provide some healing or peace to the troubled heart. But, unfortunately, there is no magical thing to say because nothing you can say will take the pain away. This can make the situation awkward at times, and a well meaning comment can come off sounding hurtful. For example, after I explained to one sweet woman that Jess had died because he had a genetic disorder called Trisomy 9, she tried to cheer me up by telling me I should be grateful things ended the way they did because I might have had to raise a handicapped child. I was astronomically offended at this for a few days. I would have traded my situation in a heartbeat to hold that little boy again – handicapped or not. And, I still would. But there came a point in time where I saw the situation through her eyes and, though I still disagreed, I knew that she had shared her comment out of love for me. I have learned to take each comment or gesture, even if it hurt initially, with a generous grain of salt and try to remember, first and foremost, that the person sharing the comment cares about me. I don’t recall a single experience where a comment has been said about Jess with the intent to offend. In fact, a wrong word or gesture given from a good heart meant so much more to me than someone who offered no words or gestures at all.

*When someone you love is going through a difficult time, pray for guidance. I have been grateful for many phone calls, visits, and e-mails from friends who have a loved one going through a similar situation, and their question to me is always the same: what can I do to help? My first and most important piece of advice is to pray for guidance. A grieving heart is a tricky thing to navigate and, in my own grieving, I had no idea what I needed. Sincere friends would ask me to let them know if there was anything they could do to help, but I never knew what to ask. I would spend a week ignoring my phone, and would then suddenly feel a surge of courage (or divine strength) one day as the third ring sang through the house. Twice, those answered phone calls turned out to be exactly what I needed. Thank heavens for the people who felt inspired to call at that moment. Sometimes a grieving heart needs your listening ear. Sometimes it needs to be left alone for a time. Sometimes it needs a kind note or e-mail. Sometimes it needs a milkshake. The surest way to help is by asking our Heavenly Father - He is, after all, the only one who sees clearly through the chaos.

*When someone you love is going through a difficult time, just do something. This is my second piece of advice. It generally doesn’t matter what is done; only that it is done. One of the most meaningful memories I have is of a chocolate cake a friend had made for her own family. Halfway through it they started thinking of us, wrapped up the leftovers, drove to our house, handed the half-eaten cake to Brian with a quick, ‘we’re thinking of you’ and drove away. That cake meant the world to me. I felt loved, cared about, thought of, and it was so comfortable to accept because it had caused the givers almost no extra trouble. I've learned that people often feel that they want to do something big to show how much they care, but no gesture is too small... in fact, they may appreciate the two line e-mail that doesn't need a response, or the small candy bar left anonymously in the mailbox that doesn't need a thank you, or the message on their machine saying you're thinking of them, or the gallon of milk from your fridge that has an expiration date approaching too soon. Chances are that knowing you are thinking about them will mean much more to them than whatever is done. Our family doesn’t even really like chocolate cake.

*Trust in the power of priesthood blessings. I often think back to that first blessing I received in the beginning of this journey. It has brought me so much peace because it has kept me focused on the big picture. Just as the blessing promised, I have been strengthened, I now know of God’s deep and personal love for me, and I have learned many invaluable lessons. In the blessing I was also told that this was planned from the beginning…this is a little harder to interpret because I’m not sure what the definition of ‘the beginning’ is, but the genetic counselors are sure that it was at least planned from the moment of conception. Perhaps it was planned long before.

*You can’t predict how you will feel in a given situation. And, what’s more is that you can’t choose how you’ll feel, either. You can only wait to see how you feel, and then choose how you will react to that feeling. I would have never predicted the healing process would be so long and complicated for me after delivering a stillborn baby. In fact, when I was about three months pregnant with McKenzie, I stood looking out of my living room window and wondered what the big deal with miscarriages was. I felt that if I lost the baby I was carrying that day, I wouldn’t be too devastated. After all, I thought, I’ve never even met this baby. I’m young; I’d just try again. This moment has played itself over and over again in my mind through the years. And though my experience with Jess was different than a miscarriage, I have to admit that I probably would have felt the same way had the hypothetical situation of a stillborn baby been presented. I have sometimes been embarrassed by my feelings and have wasted a lot of time trying to logically convince myself that it’s silly to let this affect me so deeply and for so long.

I’m getting better at accepting this idea that I can’t change the way I feel. It’s given me a new level of empathy, and helped me understand that it is not up to me to decide what circumstances should elicit sorrow from another. Sorrow is sorrow, and regardless of what stimulates the emotion, the feeling is the same. I still don’t have all the answers to why this has been such a life-changing experience for me. But it has. I can’t deny the beautiful, unique love glistening in my heart just for Jess, and no matter how many times I pretend that losing him was no big deal, it was. There is something about the bond between my soul and his that makes it so.


The tricky thing with writing this story is that it gives the illusion of completeness. As if once it’s written it can no longer be modified or added to. However, this is not the end of my story. There are more things to work through, harder things to learn.


I have found myself now. I have finally stopped waiting to return back to normal and accepted the fact that I am normal. I have learned a dozen lessons that have changed me, I have acknowledged the baggage that has come along with them as necessary parts of the trade, and I have accepted the idea that all these things together might make me a better person in the long run.

I think back to that lost girl of April 2006 who, nearly one year after Jess was born, wrote:

Do you think that an experience like one such as Jess has to change your entire life? I mean – like change your personality? I feel like I can’t get back to “the old me.” But maybe the old me doesn’t exist anymore.

I finally have an answer for her. Yes, it will. It will change your life, right down to your personality. But you know what? It'll be alright, because little by little you will piece yourself back together. The journey will be long, but you'll make it.

In the end you’ll find yourself again.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Finding Me - Part 3 of 4

Early Healing (continued)

My journal reminds me that I spent much of the first six months wondering why it was taking so long to heal. I was embarrassed that I was still in so much pain and surprised that I couldn't put it behind me. I see now that healing quickly was never part of God's plan for me, and I'm thankful for that today. These early months were colored with both pain and faith, and the result of their mixture was humility. It was in this humility that I learned many invaluable lessons that have since woven themselves into the foundation of my being:

*Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are not only real, but they love me, personally. There is a specific feeling that comes along with knowing you’re special. Think, for a moment, of the glow in a child’s face on her fifth birthday. She feels special even in the middle of a busy subway because, even if no one else around her knows it’s her birthday, she knows.

I felt that same excitement for a few days after the Spirit touched my heart and let me taste a bit of the love that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have for me. They do know who I am! And they care about what I’m going through. And that love they feel for me? Nephi was right when he said the knowledge of that love “is the most desirable above all things.” (1 Nephi 11:22) I found myself wanting to tell the world that God loves me. Because, guess what? He does. And if He loves me so much then I believe it when I hear that He loves all his children.

*The sealing powers of the temple are real. Three months after I delivered Jess, Brian and I went to the temple to watch as a dear family was sealed together. It was so quiet, so peaceful, so clean. As the temple sealer was performing the ordinance, I noticed that Brian had tears in his eyes. He squeezed my leg and I felt an almost tangible bond between us…the same bond that will pull us into eternity together. I felt indebted to God for those personal sealing bonds, and when the temple workers brought in the children to be sealed to their newly sealed parents, my heart nearly burst in gratitude. It’s one thing to believe you are sealed to your children when they are right before your eyes; it’s an entirely different thing to believe when they are no longer with you. I laced my fingers through Brian’s as I listened to the Spirit warmly testifying of truth, and let the tears drip in my lap.

*My heart is capable of much more love than I originally thought. I was surprised to find that loving two children really does feel different than loving one. When we first found out I was pregnant with Jess I wondered, as many do, how I could possibly fit more love into my heart; McKenzie was already taking up the whole of it. I see now that it’s not a matter of sharing the limited space…it’s simply that the space itself grows.

I also found it interesting that the love I felt for those already in my life - my husband, my daughter, my parents – grew, too. It was deepened and strengthened to a point previously untouched. It does make me wonder about the limits of love… is there a limit? What must Heavenly Father, who has such a deep love for all of us, feel?

*I believe in my church. They say that every life has a purpose. Looking back on everything that has happened, I think Jess’s purpose was to solidify my conversion into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

*Not every child is normal and healthy. Of course I knew this before…but knowing it is quite a bit different than seeing it. I looked at McKenzie through new eyes and my appreciation for her normalness was overwhelming. I learned that a relationship can be greatly enriched by adding appreciation to love.

*Sometimes it’s important to filter your thoughts before you speak. And sometimes it’s necessary to guard a portion of yourself. This was a hard one for me to learn. In fact, I’m still learning it in many ways. Years ago my mother said to me, “You are an open book, Linds,” and in that she was right. In years past I had nothing to hide… no secrets to keep… no dark corners to conceal. I never thought much of filtering my thoughts; generally if it came into my head it wasn’t long before it came out of my mouth. I lived in a world in which my strengths and weaknesses were out in the open for others to see and judge as they would.

But it doesn’t work like this anymore. Not since Jess was born. I have learned that I can get stuck in awkward situations by sharing all of my thoughts. A lighthearted discussion about the woes of childbirth can unintentionally turn somber and heavy with one unguarded sentence.

For example, a few months after I had delivered Jess a group of friends and I were sitting at the park when the subject of childbirth came up. One of my friends had delivered her baby naturally and was talking about the pains of the contractions. Because I ended up delivering Jess without an epidural I added, “Oh, man! I know what you mean, those contractions are terrible!”
“I didn’t realize you delivered McKenzie naturally!” she said excitedly.
“No. I.... Uh….” Stuck. There was nothing to do at that point other than explain the situation – and it brought the mood down to an unrecoverable low.

After several similar instances I finally realized that Jess’s pregnancy and delivery were to be guarded. No matter how seemingly light my comment may seem to me, it still has strong potential to ruin a conversation. I started locking all experiences with him away behind safe walls in my heart and try to only let them out at appropriate times. I began to notice how often women actually talk about pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and my new filters took me out of many conversations. Out of conversations where people compared the differences between being pregnant with boys and girls, out of conversations about delivering at Our Hospital, out of conversations about being induced and, as illustrated in the example above, out of conversations that involved epidural absences or complications of any sort. It was strange to feel that, all of the sudden, I had a secret. And it added to my loneliness.


It's true that some of these lessons could have, and probably would have, been learned through easier ways. But I think back to the blessing I received at the beginning in which I was told, 'There are lessons you will learn through this that you will not learn any other way.' Because of this, I know that the experience with Jess was necessary to me... whether because of these lessons, or because of the lessons I learned later in the healing process. I have to trust this, and it brings me peace.


December 2005 – August 2006

Things changed drastically at the beginning of December. My journal reads:

“Well, I’m pregnant again
I guess I don’t really know how to punctuate that sentence. It’s what we wanted, so why not an exclamation point? Because I’m really scared. More scared than I thought I would be.”

The week we discovered my pregnancy, insomnia set in and I spent many nights carrying my pillow around the house, subconsciously trying to get away from my consciousness. For someone who unfailingly falls asleep within three minutes of touching her head to her pillow, this was quite significant. Each time I closed my eyes, my mind would ignite with memories of Jess. I would see his sweet face and spend time reliving the hospital visits, doctor appointments, and conversations. The memories replayed hundreds and thousands of times, night after night, until my days were tainted through soggy tears and my greatest desire was to get away from my own mind. Even when I slept, my dreams were vivid and frantic as I rushed through hospital halls with a sick son or unintentionally caused the death of one. I was never concerned about the well-being of my new, developing baby, for the genetic counselors we consulted with about Jess assured us that the genetic mishap with him was a "lightning strike" and the chances of the same thing happening again were almost nothing. But my heart bled and my mind ached with Jess’s memory. Guilt started seeping in, too. Was I somehow forgetting him now that I was continuing my family? Was I trying to replace him?

Morning sickness, afternoon sickness and evening sickness washed over me and I wept at the base of the toilet day after day. I stopped getting myself or McKenzie dressed in the mornings. I stopped answering my phone. I tried to walk the halls of church with my eyes down to discourage unwanted conversations. I was so preoccupied with trying to live through the next hour and then the next hour that I stopped reading my scriptures and eventually my prayers stopped, too. Brian seemed to be completely healed, and my jealousy was consuming. His work at the hospital intensified and he was working 80 or more hours a week. During those times I was alone with McKenzie (who could not hold anything more complicated than a two-year-old level conversation) and my thoughts. At some point in this, somewhere, I fell. It’s clear to me now, though I didn’t recognize it at the time, that I had sailed down into that deep, dark crater of depression. It’s interesting to me that, prior to slipping, I was so consciously aware of my closeness to it; but once I entered it, my mind became so fogged up with unhappiness that I could not separate myself from it to see the larger picture.

Things got worse as the pregnancy went on. My insomnia did not improve, and my pregnancy sickness lasted for five months. By the time the sickness subsided, my back was giving out on me, leaving me paralyzed with pain in a heap on my floor, sometimes for hours, and my sciatic nerve kept shooting pain down my leg. Through this all, Brian was not home much, and my loneliness was almost unbearable. My parents were asked to serve as mission presidents in Thailand, and even though they were already across the country, the thought of them living on the other side of the world left me feeling even more abandoned, and my heart broke further when I realized that they would leave six short weeks before my baby was due. I kept most of my feelings to myself and they festered inside me like an infected wound. Days passed slowly. Nights seemed frozen. Brian and I were not getting along, and I found myself often yelling at my two-year-old. It was a very dark time for our family. One that I care not to delve into further.

Somehow, little by little, the baby grew; I got bigger and bigger and more and more uncomfortable. Yet, almost imperceptibly, towards the end of the pregnancy things started to improve in small ways. I wasn’t quite as sick. I had a little more energy. And, ever so slightly, I was a little happier.


Hot, tired, and eight months pregnant, I sat in sacrament meeting on the first Sunday in August. On the first Sunday of each month, after ward business is attended to and the sacrament is taken, the pulpit is open to anyone in the congregation who wants to get up and share their testimony. And, as the bishop turned the time over to the congregation that August Sunday, I felt my heart quicken. Uh-oh, I thought. Ever since I was a teenager, I have recognized a very specific set of feelings in my body when the Spirit starts prompting me to get up and share my testimony, and it always starts with a quickened heart. I ignored the feeling. My spirituality had been quite stagnant over the past eight months and my testimony felt indolent and dull. I was certainly in no spiritual state to share it.

Instead of going away, the feeling got stronger. Now my heart was not only beating quickly, but it was pounding in my ears as well. I hadn’t been reading my scriptures or saying my prayers for months! I had absolutely nothing to say. No, I said defiantly to Heavenly Father. I have nothing to say. I sat back in my bench and crossed my arms as a sort of signal of my feelings. I could not do it. After some time my palms started sweating and my heart felt as if it were burning. Not the same feeling as the comforting warmth I had felt previously, but a painful sting like when your hand gets a little too close to a candle’s flame. Still, I tried to ignore it while the minutes ticked on. When I felt about to explode, I bowed my head, closed my eyes and changed my stubbornness into pleading, I really don’t want to. I have nothing to say. The feeling persisted and it became clear that my own feelings were not going to change Heavenly Father’s. What? I asked, frustrated. What do you want me to say? The answer came almost as words being written in my mind.

Haven’t you been happier this past month?

My mind was led back to a conversation I had had with my mother just before she left for Thailand a month before. “The Lord has promised blessings to our family because we’ve been willing to serve,” she said.

Tears pricked my eyes; it was undeniably true…I had been a bit happier. But it was because of my parents’ missionary work? I had not, and probably never would have, drawn that conclusion on my own. It seems like a bit of a stretch, and left to my own interpretation of my feelings I would probably have just said that time had finally started to heal my heart. And that the timing of it happening alongside my parent’s departure was a coincidence (though a puzzling one – I missed them terribly, I was very emotional about them not being able to see the baby, and I was suffering through my last month of pregnancy during a miserable North Carolina summer). But, as it happened, I cannot say it was a coincidence – even a puzzling one, because I don’t believe that it was.

I don’t remember what I said as I bore my testimony that day. I’m sure it was short and cryptic and based on my tiny, brand new testimony of the blessings that come from service to the Lord. It was not well thought out, it was not exciting, I’m sure it was not very meaningful to an outside ear, but it was meaningful to me. Meaningful enough to be counted as one of the key experiences that has strengthened my testimony as a whole. God blesses us and our families when we are willing to serve, yes, but the greater lesson I learned that day was one on personal revelation. The Lord can speak with me; directly with me.


Nine days later I sat working on a baby quilt that was lying across my 38-week pregnant belly. I had turned the lamp on beside me, and McKenzie and Brian were wrestling on the floor at my feet. McKenzie’s bursts of giggles sent Brian and I bouncing with laughter ourselves. And as I laughed the thought came, Go. Be with your family. I put aside the quilt and sank to the floor with my husband and daughter. I was filled with so much peace that night and I thought to myself, I’m ready. The baby wasn’t due for 13 more days, but I started suspecting that he was ready, too. No physical changes had taken place and all I had to go off of was a ‘feeling’ so I kept my suspicions to myself. Brian looked at me with an eyebrow raised when he saw me lugging the crib sheets and all the tiny new onesies to the washing machine at 10:00pm that night. It was very uncharacteristic of me, and all I could say was, “What if the baby comes tonight? He has nothing to wear and no clean sheets to sleep on.”

So it didn’t surprise me when, 13 hours after the wash was complete, the doctor laid that tiny, squirming bundle on my belly.

I was surprised at how immediately the pain disappeared. The last contraction felt as if it was going to rip me apart and seemed to last forever, but the moment Carson was born, even before he took his first breath, the pain vanished. More surprising still was the emotional pain that vanished with it. As unlikely as it seems, my depression disappeared in that moment. As they put that healthy baby on my belly, I felt a physical weight of darkness lift from my shoulders as a million tiny strands of love shot from my heart and wrapped themselves tightly around his. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing as I held his face up to mine. My Carson. All it takes is one ray of light to extinguish darkness, and Carson was just that. I was happy that day – that moment. Happier than I had been in over a year and half, and the happiness stuck. I drank it in and for a while could notice little else. A real laugh! A happy thought! A genuine smile! They nourished my parched soul like water as I danced through the days.

After the initial phase of euphoria, however, I turned around to realize that there was still much, much healing to be done.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Finding Me - Part 2 of 4

Journal excerpt (in italics) from June 11, 2005

Well, after a long night and morning, I delivered our little Jess Samuel this morning at 9:43 AM. The appointment yesterday confirmed my suspicions that his heart had stopped beating, so they told me to come to the hospital at 8:00 that night to start the induction.

It was strange. I’ve felt so prepared for everything that has come up so far…even when Jess died, I felt prepared for it. We’ve thought extensively about how the funeral will go, we’ve arranged flights to and from Utah, we bought the plot of land, McKenzie is taken care of…I’ve just felt really prepared for everything. But somehow, I overlooked the labor portion of all of this.

As I was sitting in the waiting room last night, waiting to be called, a nurse would come in every so often to update a waiting family on the status of the woman in labor. “Congratulations!” they’d say, “You have a baby sister!” “You have a grandson!” “Mom’s doing great.” “The baby weighs 9 pounds!” With each exclamation, I felt my heart rip over and over. I stared at my small belly and cried. And cried. And cried... I cried for the fact that no one was here, waiting in excitement to hear ‘congratulations’ for us; I cried as I thought about those healthy babies; and I cried, because for the first time, I remembered what labor was like. I remembered the smells, and the IV, and the epidural, and the painful contractions, and the pushing, and the bleeding, and the painful contractions, and the stretching, and the painful contractions… With McKenzie, all of those negative things were swallowed up with the fact that I was getting a beautiful daughter out of all of it. There was so much excitement with McKenzie…so much excitement that I didn’t mind the pain of the IV and I didn’t feel the pain of the epidural, and I didn’t mind the smells, or the pushing or the bleeding or the stretching…even the painful contractions were bearable.

But this one was different.

This one didn’t have that excitement with it. I had nothing to look forward to - - - nothing to smile about, or joke about, or laugh about.

I can’t count the number of times I said, “I don’t want to do this, Brian.” I was scared…more scared of pain than I ever have been in the past. My threshold for pain was incredibly low, because I didn’t want to be here, doing this, in the first place.

There I sat, in that emotionally charged waiting room for two hours. When the nurse finally called my name, a cloud of confusion crossed her face as Brian and I stood up. She knew her patient was here to be induced, but I obviously wasn’t nine months pregnant. In addition, I had no amniotic fluid so I was very small even for being six months along. She led us back into the delivery room, shut the door behind us and said, “I’m sorry, I haven’t heard anything. Can you tell me why you’re here?”

I felt a moment of free-falling before I stumbled to answer her question. “Yeah. Uh. Our baby, um, they can’t find a heartbeat, so, uh...” Is this not in my chart? I wanted to ask. I had been in and out of that hospital so many times I had to believe that something was written about it. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time I had been in an awkward situation because an important piece of my health information had slipped through the cracks. I suppose that’s the price you pay when you go to a teaching hospital – too much information passed through too many people. Something is bound to get lost.

She took good care of me through the night; mostly stayed out of the room. I slept a little, cried a lot, and prayed for my labor to go quickly. The nurse had said she had seen inductions last for three days when a woman’s body was so far away from being ready to deliver. I declined the epidural for the first eleven hours because I felt that being paralyzed for up to three days would have made the situation even more despairing. In addition, I was hoping that being only six months along would somehow translate into a milder labor. But this was not the case, and the contractions intensified. Eventually, my forehead broke into a sweat, followed by the rest of my body, and the contractions swallowed me whole. I no longer cared how long I would be hooked up to the epidural and when I asked for it, the nurse came in and predicted the baby would be delivered within the hour. It was too late then, and pain consumed me. Pain because I was in the last stages of labor, pain because I couldn't take my baby home, pain because I'd never hear his cry, pain because I didn't want to be there.


Forty five minutes later all was quiet. I sat on the hospital bed with my husband standing by my side and my newborn son lying still in my arms. The lights remained low. There was no excitement. No commotion. No laughter. The nurse looked over my shoulder, "Awwwww. What will you name him?" she asked. "Jess," I replied. "Jess Samuel."

The next two hours were some of the most precious hours of my life. Brian and I held Jess…and we got pictures of him. Such perfect little hands and feet. We made a little blanket together yesterday while McKenzie was sleeping – so we wrapped him in that and held him. One of the sweetest images I have in my mental archives is of Brian, holding his tiny son, with tears in his eyes. I wish I were a painter so that I could capture that image on canvas – it was so beautiful.
Jess weighs 14 oz. and is 13 inches long. Tall and skinny, just like his dad.

The next day, after the discharge papers had been signed, a hospital escort brought a wheelchair into my room. I knew that wheeling patients out to the curb was hospital policy, but I still pled for him to let me walk out on my own. I wanted to act as if I was not a patient, as if I had just been visiting a friend, so my empty arms wouldn’t be so painful. But policy was policy, I was told, and I sat.

“What did you name your baby?” he asked as he pushed the wheelchair down the hall. I panicked for a second as I realized we were headed towards the nursery. Does he think we need to stop to get my baby? I didn’t know what to say and felt my eyes fill with fresh tears at the thought of having to explain myself again. But a second later he turned down the hall to my right and I saw the elevators ahead. “Uh, Jess,” I said. “It means ‘gift from God.’”

The air seemed so cold as my wheelchair moved through the halls. It stung my eyes and made me shiver. At first I tried to hold my head high and not think too hard about how empty I felt, but I could offer no one a smile, I couldn't even look another person in the eye. I admitted defeat within the first minute and hung my head; my shoulders caved in and I cried. That journey from the hospital room to our car was one of the truly painful experiences of my life. I was broken, I was alone, and there was nothing left for me to do but to go home with empty arms.


June 14, 2005

He didn’t do it. He didn’t create a kidney for my baby, and He didn’t fix his heart like I had hoped He would. But, just as I had written in my journal before we knew the outcome, I believed there must be a reason… and because of that, one emotion I was saved from feeling was anger.

I wasn’t saved from sorrow, though. And, thanks to my friend in the hospital, I let it come. I let it drip from my heart. I let it seep from my eyes. I let it mix with my soul. I let it fill me entirely. The night my milk came in I wrapped myself tightly in ACE bandages to help soothe the pain, curled up into Brian’s arms, and told him how much I hurt – physically and emotionally – until my words could no longer compete with the tears. He stroked my hair and kissed my head as I let the sobs shake my body for half an hour.

I reached a new level of love for Brian that night. That he could see me in such a broken state and, feeling broken himself, still comfort me taught me a little about what unconditional love is about.


June 16, 2005

The funeral home encouraged us to take our time to think about what we wanted Jess’ headstone to look like. There is no rush, they said. Take a year if you need it. Such soothing words to hear when there were so many other important decisions to be made. Stressful decisions. Neither Brian nor I knew anything about the logistics of handling a death, but we stumbled through the process and learned as we went. We chose a beautiful cemetery in Utah and bought a plot of land, picked out a tiny baby blue casket, and selected a few little items to place inside with our baby. We learned that airlines often offer a bereavement discount which, disappointingly, ended up not being much of a discount at all. So the last minute plane tickets were bought and added to it was an additional fee for Jess. Feeling broken hearted, poor, and grateful for the help we were receiving, we put together a program for the graveside service, decided on a very small guest list and wrote down a few thoughts we wanted to share.

Through it, somehow, the world kept turning – Medical School still held classes that Brian had to attend, my car still ran low on gas, the grocery stores were still open and we still needed milk. As we struggled through the decisions, I found myself wanting to stop the world from turning just long enough for me to catch my breath.


June 18, 2005

I saw his eyes moisten and watched his hard swallow when I asked him for a father’s blessing. We had been heading for the door on our way to the cemetery when my heart sprang into my throat and my stomach felt like it shattered into a hundred shards of glass. Nerves, maybe. I wanted to collapse to the ground and sit for a minute, or an hour, or my lifetime. I felt physically and emotionally incapable of getting through the next two hours on my own and ached to hear some reassuring words from my Heavenly Father. “Of course,” my dad whispered.

“Yeah, me too,” Brian said as he turned to his own father. “Dad?”

Looking back at it today, I feel fortunate. How incredibly fortunate it is for me to have the power of God so close in my life. To have a father, and a husband, who live their lives close to God and who can, at a moment’s notice, harness a portion of His power through the priesthood. Sure enough, Heavenly Father spoke through my father directly to me and reminded me of His love. And in that love I found the strength to move.

I don’t remember much about the actual service. I have a few memories, mostly jogged by pictures, but it feels like a distant dream. I know I spoke, but I don’t remember anything I said. I know Brian spoke, but only recall a small portion when he tenderly revealed that Jess had come alive to him over the past few weeks. I know which songs we sang and who said the prayers. I know McKenzie looked so beautiful and healthy as she placed a white rose on her brother’s casket. But my memories go no deeper. I don’t know how I felt. I don’t know what I thought. I don’t even remember exactly who was there. I’ve thought about this throughout the years and can’t help but feel a little concern. Who bought all the flowers, and did I thank them? Who set up the pictures, and did they know how long I stared at them? Who fed us? Who hugged us? Who offered a kind word?

Most of my memories are so real that, not only can I still remember them, I can still feel them lingering on my heart. But, something in me shut down for that afternoon. Or, was it morning? Maybe I didn’t feel. Maybe I didn’t think. Maybe the Lord carried me through it and let me sleep on his shoulder.


Early Healing

Eventually the sympathy cards stopped coming. One day we ate the last serving from the meals that were brought in. In time even the people closest to me uttered their last words of sympathy and turned their heads back towards their own busy lives. Logically I understood, yet I felt it unjust that time would work his healing powers on all those around me and leave me to struggle still. I felt alone and found myself teetering on the brink of depression for half a year. I knew it even then. I felt my precarious position and those closest to me heard me say that I felt as if I were standing on the upturned palm of my Savior above a deep, dark crater of depression. Each time I would walk close to the edge of His hand, He would whisper words of encouragement and love which would gently guide me back to the middle.

I worked through those early days of healing in deep companionship with the Lord. My prayers had never been more consistent or heartfelt, and my testimony never stronger. The days were long and hard and the nights almost unbearable, but I knew God loved me, and that knowledge was the glue that held me together.

My emotions were volatile, and I spent much of these six months working through them in my journal as I waited to be healed.

June 15, 2005 Wednesday - *There are times where I honestly just don’t know if I’ll ever be able to get over this. *His sweet little face keeps flashing through my mind – and I physically ache to hold him again. *I can’t stop thinking about last weekend…the weekend I knew he was dying…

June 18, 2005 Saturday - *This whole experience has been so different for me. I’ve been surprised at how difficult it has been for me to think about this - - - and especially to analyze and understand my feelings. *I feel wiser…I feel older…

June 28, 2005 Tuesday - *I think, looking at all the pain and sorrow…all the joy and happiness I have felt through this all, that if I had it all to do over again, I would. Through my pain, I was humbled…and in that humility I prayed harder than I ever had in my life…and in that prayer, I felt the Love of the Savior and my Heavenly Father. I felt comforted…and I felt unique and special to the Lord.

July 18, 2005 Monday - *It’s so strange how my emotions change on a day to day basis. Most days I’m fine… but then something random will happen and send me spiraling into waves of tears. Pregnant women, for example – I hate seeing pregnant women. *I don’t want people to feel like they HAVE to say something. It just feels awkward and uncomfortable. *I should be having a baby - not a period.

August 4, 2005 Thursday - *And another hard day is coming to an end. *I keep having these strange dreams about him where he’s about 3-years-old…hair the same color as Brian’s, big blue eyes, fair skin, and totally 100% normal little boy. The dreams are sort of being seen from a home-video view, and Jess will run up to the camera and pull a cute little face with his mouth open and his eyes crossed…then he’ll run away laughing and flailing his arms at his sides - - - just like a normal little boy. The next thing I know, I’m frantically searching for him because he’s turned up missing. I can’t find him anywhere and adrenaline soars through my body. Then I wake up and feel just as frantic – I can’t believe I fell asleep when I didn’t know where my son was… But when I finally regain a little more consciousness, I realize what is going on, and relax a little. But I still feel the adrenaline surging. *Why can’t I get over this? It’s been 2 months now - - and I’m still a basket-case sometimes. I guess I expected to be ‘healed by time’ by now. *I wish time wouldn’t take so much time. I keep waiting for the explanation - - why did it happen this way? Where’s the pay off that makes it all better? *I SEE the good, I just can’t FOCUS on it.

September 24, 2005 Saturday - *I went to a baby shower last Thursday. That was a bad idea. *The Lord loves me. But that still doesn’t change the fact that I want my baby. *I can’t believe it’s been 3 ½ months – I guess I didn’t expect it to take so long to heal.

October 30, 2005 Sunday - *An interesting thing happened last week. I finally, consciously thought that I felt things were back to normal again for a moment. I was driving in my car and things felt good.

November 1, 2005 Tuesday - *It’s happened more than once where I’ve been walking out the door with McKenzie and I’ll turn around to get the baby.

December 5, 2005 Monday - *If I had to sum it all up in one sentence, my lesson this year is that GOD LOVES ME.

These were tender months. Months of tears and pain, yes, but also months of gratitude, happiness and love. Months I am glad to have been through but I could never welcome back.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Finding Me - Part 1 of 4

Finding Me

Do you think that an experience
like one such as Jess
has to change your entire life?
I mean - like change your personality?
I feel like I can't get back to "the old me."
But maybe the old me doesn't exist
-Journal excerpt from
April 13, 2006

June 18, 2005

It really was a beautiful day, as far as weather goes. The grass was thick and green, the sky clear and breathtakingly blue. The warm sun made my skin tingle until the soft breeze brushed it away. I suppose that's how most June days are in the valleys of Utah.

Brian and I went up to the cemetery a little before the rest of our families to meet the hearse. We drove up and I saw folding chairs covered in a soft, green, velvet fabric facing the tiny plot of land we had purchased days before…a green mat lay over a small hole dug from the earth…a few beautiful flower arrangements lent a sweet fragrance to the air. It felt a little like a dream; a terrible, twisted nightmare in a confusingly beautiful setting.

I folded my arms gently across my aching chest. My tender breasts, swollen with milk that would never be expressed, covered my broken heart. This is for us, I thought.

My heart had felt sorrow before. Just as an unstretched balloon feels tension at the lips of a child. I wonder if that balloon knows of its potential, if only a stronger pair of lungs stood behind it. And, once the balloon expands past that threshold for the first time, does it fear it’s going to burst with each new breath? Does it realize, too, that once it’s been stretched to capacity it can never entirely go back to the way it was before?

It’s been six years since that day. Six years of remolding my personality to fit around that single experience. I knew at the time that something was changing inside of me…it was the permanence of that change that took me by surprise.


May 20, 2005

The relationship I have with God has always been a strong one. Of course, it ebbs and flows along with most other things in my life, but I’ve never questioned His existence, or His desire to direct me in my life. Perhaps that’s why I wanted a priesthood blessing so desperately the night we first learned that all was not well with the baby. It was much too early to understand the severity of the situation, but I still knew that there was peace to be found through the keys of the priesthood.

“The Lord’s will will be done, and I bless you with strength as you come to learn to accept what that will is…

…He wants you to know of His deep and personal love for you…

…This was planned from the beginning…

…There are lessons you will learn through this that you will not learn any other way.”

That night I wrote in my journal that the blessing had been ‘unnervingly comforting’. It was a feeling quite different than what I had been looking for, for I was looking for a reassurance that all would be well. Yet the blessing still brought undeniable peace; if not in that moment, most assuredly in the weeks and years to come. I began to recognize the Savior as my ally. And as my baby’s health deteriorated and my trial slowly isolated me from the understanding of everyone around me, He became my Everything.


May 25, 2005

My feet were tucked underneath the heavy blankets at the foot of my hospital bed. It was warm in the room, yet they still felt cold and clammy. My fingers traced the small bulge in my abdomen; I couldn’t help but fixate on the movement that was going on in there. He seems so strong, I thought to myself. The reality of the situation weighed heavily on my shoulders. The previous week I had been laughing with a friend at how small I was for being six months along. That was before I found out my small size was because there was no amniotic fluid. I didn’t know, I silently explained again. I didn’t know you were sick.

A knock at the door barely broke my trance. I knew the nurse couldn’t hear me very well from the noisy hallway unless I yelled, and I didn’t feel like yelling, so I stayed silent and figured she’d come in anyway. Just as I suspected, the door cracked open; but instead of a nurse, a familiar face peeked in. “Lindsay?”

A little surprised, I said, “Hey,” and sat up more in the bed, “Come in.” It was a friend from church. She sat down in the chair across from my bed and asked how I was doing. After chatting for a bit, she told me that she had lost a baby, full-term, many years earlier. She told me her story, some of the feelings she had been through, and gave me some experienced advice. At the time, I still had strong hopes that my baby would survive…and months later, I wished I had listened a little more closely that day. Even so, I did remember one piece of advice, and it turned out to be the best piece of advice I received: allow yourself to grieve.

That night I sat alone in the dark room and stared at the same spot on the wall for over an hour. I thought about the baby, about my husband and daughter, about my mom and dad, about my Savior. The thoughts tumbled and tumbled around in my head until they all jammed together and froze my mind into an aching numbness. I didn’t know how I felt. I didn’t know what I thought. It had been a terrible day full of tests, more tests, ultrasounds, and more unsettling answers. I could hear the noises of a hospital that never sleeps just outside my door, but I felt strangely isolated. Alone. Hollow. And utterly discouraged. My baby was sick. His left kidney was missing, and his right one wasn’t functioning properly. His heart had a hole in the wall separating the left and right ventricles, causing it to work harder than it should. His skeletal muscles were small, his heart muscle big, and his lungs underdeveloped.

Somewhere, I found the strength to turn over and pull my knees up underneath me. I clasped my hands together and closed my eyes. But words wouldn’t come. How do you ask for something when you don’t know what you need? I don’t know how long I knelt there, silently willing my mind to pray, but after a time I succumbed to my lack of words, opened my heart, and whispered one pleading word to the heavens: help.

The answer was immediate, unmistakable, and beautiful. It felt as if the Savior had entered into my soul to cradle my broken heart with his own hands. I cried as hard as a child that night as I felt the love of my Father encompass me so completely. When there were no tears left, I lay back down on the bed and hummed primary songs to my baby. Just before sleeping, I opened my journal and wrote:

“Realistically, things aren’t looking too good for the baby. But there is still hope… As far as Brian and I go, we’re doing alright. Yes, there have been many tears from both Brian and me – but I still laugh more than I cry. The only time I truly cry is when I’m by myself pleading with the Lord and I’ve done a lot of that lately. I know that this was planned from the very beginning. I know that I’m being taken care of and that this little baby is in the Lord’s hands right now. My faith has doubled, and then tripled, and then quadrupled over the course of these five days. I KNOW this baby will live if it doesn’t interfere with the Lord’s eternal plan. No matter how serious the problems are, I know the Lord can create a kidney, or fix a heart, or both.

If he doesn’t do it, then there’s a reason.”


June 3, 2005

“Best case scenario,” the doctor explained a couple weeks later, “is that we get you to 33 weeks and then deliver the baby. His lungs aren’t maturing very fast without the fluid, so it could take even longer than that before he could survive outside the womb. If the delivery goes well, we’ll try to keep him alive using modern medicine until we can find a kidney transplant for him.” He looked into my eyes and lowered his voice a little. “Do I think that will happen?” he asked, “No. I think that over the course of the next one to three weeks, you’ll start to feel his movements weaken until you’ll come in for your weekly ultrasound and we won’t be able to find a heartbeat. I’ve learned in my profession never to say never…but, I’m really not sure there’s even a small percentage of a chance…” His words trailed off, but his meaning was clear. I felt the gentle pressure of Brian’s hand squeeze my own.

The doctor passed a box of tissues into my hand when he saw my eyes fill. “Okay,” I whispered. “Thank you for you honesty.”

It’s what I had wanted for two weeks. Honesty. It was obvious that the doctors had been talking to one another about us…we just didn’t know what they were saying. It hurt somewhat to have my mind fill in all the blanks and imagine the doctors staring at the ultrasounds with discouraged faces, shaking their heads in hopelessness.

The doctor stood up to leave the room and I raised my eyes to the resident who had been silently observing in the corner. Her face was contorted in concern, her eyes rimmed in red. She moved to follow the doctor out of the room and as she passed by me, she placed her hand on my knee. “I’m so sorry,” she said. Her eyes held tears. Weeks later, it was in remembering her raw emotions that I found the permission I strangely needed to begin grieving.


Just when does a spirit enter a body?

It had never bothered me before – this unanswerable question – for the only place I heard it discussed was when abortion was being debated. Since abortion doesn’t feel good to me at any phase, I chose not to stew over the question whose answer didn’t seem to matter.

But now it bothered me. It consumed me, actually. In my mind, the question chased itself in circles during the quietest hours of the night. Throughout my life, my religion taught me of a loving God who would make all things right in the end. It also whispered comforting words about the connection that can be felt among spirits, offering reason to the ache and loneliness I felt when I imagined life without my unborn son. But my background in biology and embryology reminded me that sometimes two cells that are designed to become a human body simply don’t divide correctly and, instead, become a mass of confused, jumbled up cells. Was this the case with my baby? And, if so, would the Lord still grant him a spirit? It became the central topic of my endless prayers.

I did not want to name a spiritless body.

I did not want to bury a body that would not rise in the resurrection.



June 5, 2005

I cried all the way through sacrament meeting that first Sunday in June. The baby hadn’t moved all day and, now that he was moving again, my heart pleaded for his kicks to come harder. But they remained soft. So soft. Too soft. My mothering instincts pulled inside me, wishing me to rock him, to stroke his tiny head, to sing to him. Help him! they screamed. Help him get through this. Instead, I could only stroke the skin of my own arms, rock my own body, and pray to God that my little boy wouldn’t feel alone.


June 7, 2005

My heart smiled every time I heard her laugh. McKenzie chased a giant balloon around the room, her little 16-month-old legs barely keeping up with its flight. Every time she touched it, the balloon went soaring back into the air and a new rush of giggles escaped. She was my sunshine. She awoke me at the same time each morning, needing food, attention and love. She needed me to be myself, and so I was. Even so, she knew there was heaviness in the air, and somehow she felt she could lighten it. She pulled silly faces; kissed my cheeks; sang her favorite songs; and even tripped on purpose once, just to make me laugh. I felt mostly normal when she was awake, and because of it, I declined most offers from friends to take her for the afternoon.

The balloon bounced off of my head and I pulled a funny face for her. My smile was real in response to her delighted laughter, but there was no ignoring the painful undercurrent of worry that had occupied me since I felt the baby move last. It had been almost 24 hours.

As McKenzie ran, chasing the balloon, an unexpected, strange and beautiful feeling started in my belly. In just a few seconds, the feeling had spread to my heart, filled the rest of my body, and spilled out across the room. I turned my head and almost expected to see another child with me, for the feeling gave me an unmistakable assurance that I was the mother of two children. Though I saw nothing with my eyes, something in me felt him. The feeling was not fleeting. It lasted for five full minutes and by the end my heart had been stretched to make room for the love that poured in for my new child. I had been given an incredible gift. It was the answer to my prayer, and we named the baby Jess Samuel, meaning ‘a gift from God.’

I never did feel him move again. I like to believe that beautiful feeling was the moment he passed on, and Heavenly Father allowed his spirit to linger for a few minutes to speak with mine before he left.

Just hours later, the phone rang and an apologetic doctor gave the final diagnosis. Jess had a disorder called Trisomy 9. He had three copies of the ninth chromosome in his cells, opposed to the normal two. “I’m so sorry,” the doctor said in a quiet voice, “I hate delivering bad news… I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay,” I responded.
“This disorder…it’s not compatible with life.”
As I processed his words, a faint sense of relief and calmness messed with my otherwise distressed soul. The strong branch of hope I had been holding on to for three weeks had been slowly whittled away until it was not much thicker around than a strand of hair…and no stronger either. As I released that tiny, remaining strand of hope, I felt my weary heart relax.
“It’s okay.” And I was surprised to find that I meant it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Finding Me - Prologue

So, here we are.

Yesterday marked six years since Brian and I sat in a hospital room and held our precious, stillborn son. The lights remained low. There was no excitement or commotion. Just us, a nurse to check my vitals, and our new baby boy lying still in my arms. The nurse looked over my shoulder, "Awwwww. What will you name him?" she asked. "Jess," I replied. "Jess Samuel."

Every year I have dealt with this date in a different way. The first year I hid all calendars at the beginning of June and refused to let myself know the exact day; one year I wrote a song about my emotions; one year I tried to keep myself busy all day just to fall apart and sob all night.

This year I wrote. I wrote about him, but mostly I wrote about me. I pondered the lessons I've learned, and I explained in my best words, the landscape that my own path of healing has been through. It's been mostly uphill for the last six years, and at some points it has been cold, steep and rocky as I've tried to rediscover who I am. But I recently reached a sort of plateau, and I felt it important to recount my journey thus far.

I feel I've finished writing... though there seems to always be more I could do... and feel stirred to share it. So this coming week, in memory of him and to honor his influence in my life, I will. The length of it necessitates breaking it into segments, and I will post them here over the next few days.

Writing my story has been healing. I made it through the day yesterday with only a single tear and a couple dozen smiles. Today it's raining, and I miss him a bit more as I watch the raindrops splash in the puddles outside my window. But I feel peace.

I don't know how long I'll be able to enjoy this plateau before it's time to move on, but my weary muscles are enjoying the rest, and my tired eyes are drinking in the view. It is here that I've written my story. Here above the haze and looking down over where I've been. I'm sure there will come a time where I'm no longer comfortable here, and my curiosity about what lies over the next mountain will compel me forward.

But until then, I'll sit.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...

...on a Friday because I've had no internet all week. Curse Time Warner Cable!