Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How We Do It: Part VII in a series

Making a wish on Sophie's first birthday

The picture was grainy, black and grey and white shapes, no movement other than the cursor, no sound other than the doctor's steady voice. The last time I had looked at such a screen, Oliver was floating around in my belly. There it is. There's her uterus, and there's the lining, she said as she rolled the wand over Sophie's stomach, glistening with gel. I bent over Sophie, one hand on her chest, the other on her forehead. I was holding her down. The doctor had turned out the lights in the room, and Sophie was fairly relaxed. When I looked into her eyes they were dilated, her pupils dark and as expressive as they ever are. I spoke matter of factly to the doctor, asking her questions and reassuring Sophie every few seconds or so. It's all right, Sophie; I know it's cold on your belly, but it's all right, I said, brushing the hair from her forehead. So, it's really hard to see anything, isn't it? I asked the doctor. I don't know how you do that. The last comment inane but I'm conversational, a social genius at best. When she was finished, I took the paper that lined the recliner and wiped the gel off Sophie's stomach. The doctor switched the machine off, and Sophie sat up.

Everything was fine. We went to the gynecologist to inquire about hormones, about puberty and its effect on her seizures. We talked about pheromones and Sophie's cycle linked to mine, her bad days making mine look like a carnival, a fun house. I learned that the uterine lining is very thin in Sophie, that the lining is as thin as a marathon runner's might be. I learned that the reason why she doesn't have periods is probably because of that and that everything else looks fine. I already knew that, though. Perfectly fine. We spoke a bit about estrogen and progesterone; the doctor wrote a prescription for progesterone. Let's try it for three months, she said, if it helps at all, you'll know by then. 

I put Sophie in her stroller and wheeled her out into the Santa Monica afternoon. We headed east on Olympic Boulevard, saw glimpses of the skyline, silver and clear against blue. We saw mountains behind it, their tops iced in early snow. The cars stopped and started; we sat in a gridlock for over an hour and then another hour went by when twenty minutes would have sufficed. Brake lights blinked and the voices on the radio suddenly infringed on me. I turned them off and sat in silence with Sophie, our car moving along, a buffer from sirens and horns and gesticulating drivers with appendages where ears might have been.

I have now seen my daughter's brain and her uterus, one functioning abysmally for no apparent reason, the other functioning perfectly, for no apparent reason.


  1. i love this photo of the two of you, so beautiful. i wish i could make everything perfect for you. i so wish that.

  2. Elizabeth....
    Believe it or not, I just had a conversation with Jessie which, at the core, had this very same thought.
    How women's bodies are meant so fiercely to conceive and protect while our minds are not that enlightened or prepared.
    You are The Mother.
    P.S.Verification word: myxistic

  3. Thank you for touching on this. This is a subject which is rarely broached. It's so hard to talk about and ask questions about. How do we as parents of a seizure-riddled daughter handle these issues? My husband and I are diligent & fierce protectors of our daughter's dignity within her disability (she is 6 1/2 & has seizures much like Sophie's). In trying to guard and respect her dignity (and that of others) we are often left feeling a little mute.

    I really admire your writing in general. Especially today, your love, tenderness & respect for your beloved girl really came thru. So, thank you.

  4. listening. u know i love how we do it.

  5. All those birthday wishes, Elizabeth for you and Sophie so long ago. This post is so sad given what follows. The way a brain can betray the rest of a body even as that body in other ways moves along.

  6. Is there any solid research on the effect of hormones on seizures? I do hope the progesterone provides some relief, or at the very least, no harm.

    The picture is lovely, absolutely lovely.

  7. You know, you're a beautiful human being. Sophie's so blessed to have you as her mother.

  8. Oh, Elizabeth. You have really shown us how your heart beats here. I am sitting at my desk at work (not working, reading my favorite writing blogs, of which yours is one), and tears are pooling in my freshly made-up eyes and I am just wishing I could have some answers for you. Sophie is such a gift. YOU are such a gift.

  9. We put Katie on the pill a few years ago to try and regulate her periods, not to prevent pregnancy. I can't imagine what Katie would do to an unprotected penis, should it come near to her but I doubt it would be pretty.

    The pill helps, somewhat. I feel bad for her, having periods and cramps with no understanding of what's going on inside her body. But I guess that's true about so much for her, gas pains, headaches, nausea, you name it. I am always amazed at her willingness to get up and face each day, with so much of the internal and external world a mystery to her. She's amazing.

    There, now I made myself cry.

    Love the photo of you and Sophie.

  10. This is so touching, Elizabeth, thank you for sharing it. Details that told the story--your period and Sophie's aligned.

    Hope your holidays are good.

    I had a lot of traveling & then a lot of writing (which I still need to finish) & couldn't seem to manage life & blogworld too but hope to be more regular online after the holidays.

  11. the photograph.
    my god, how it pierces my heart, your mother wish blown into the heart of all time. into the delicate roses, into the light, into all the days ahead for your dear girl. days which are now so raw and real with challenges and tears, and in this moment who could have known?
    your eyes sort curves of believing, your mouth caught in a perfect tiny circle of love and forever.

  12. This is an amazing and beautiful post. I don't know how you do it and yet, you do. I am in awe.

  13. Happiest of Thanksgivings, Elizabeth. This is stunning, as are you, as is Sophie, as is what you give continuously to the world.

  14. I'm glad the immediate news was good, despite the long-term challenges. I also like the fact that you were able to see the beauty of the mountains and skyline amid the hectic traffic. Definitely a life lesson in there!

  15. I am in awe of your navigation of these waters. At times a bog or a still lake or a crashing ocean. For some reason the image of you wiping off her belly is especially touching to me. I would have liked to offer you something more comforting than a paper liner.

  16. I don't know what to say, so I'll just send hugs to you through cyberspace.

  17. Lush language, mysterious and moving moments, cycles that take us nowhere, and everywhere. Beautiful

    Ps, love that Ms Moon included the word verification. I'm always tempted to write a poem using them all.

  18. what a beautiful photo of the two of you, so profoundly bonded together.



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