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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Daring Social Experiment

Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

It's taken me a few days to get the proverbial balls required to write this post, which is difficult to do, since I don't have balls. Somehow, I got 'em though. So ready or not, here I go. First, though, you get to slog through the necessary background information.

When I reluctantly started this blog last summer, I was fortunate to stumble into all kinds of e-friendships, "blogships," if you will, with the infertility fighters of the world. I was allowed inside of their sprawling community of brilliant, witty, brutally honest women who are childless-not-by-choice. Their situations weren't quite like mine, but still, I felt a connection was there. It's the palpable grief that brings us together, I think, the sinking sensation of realizing that you can't have a baby when you want one (and might, in fact, not EVER have a baby). In launching Exhale, my understanding of the TTC/infertility/otherwise-childless-not-by-choice perspective has grown even deeper, even in just these few short months. I have tremendous respect for the columnists that make Exhale the lovely thing that it is. And, as one who certainly doesn't get pregnant at the drop of a hat, I found solace in reading about others' infertility struggles. Perhaps that's awful of me, shamelessly finding joy in someone else's suffering.

Let me cut to the chase:

I'm knocked up for the third time, and due in September.

I don't know why this is so hard to announce. Never mind. Yes, I do. It's because in announcing this fact, by making this abrupt leap from the non-prego side of the line to the prego-side, I dread losing some of my favorite readers and "blogships" from the world of TTC. My persona will be different from this point forward in the eyes of the childless-not-by-choice community, for I will now be viewed as one of those women who get knocked up when you are not, leaving you behind to wish you could feel happy about this news the way that normal people would, and kind-of-sort-of-feeling happy, but kind of feeling like shit at the same time. The mere fact of my pregancy will be a source of hurt for some, and I don't blame them. Statistically speaking, after all, this does leave one less person on the non-prego side of the line, and adds one more person to the prego-side, supposedly not even looking back and remembering life on the non-prego side fondly, but now looking eagerly forward to that shiny day on the calendar, nine months ahead.

Right?

I hope I'm at least 60-70% right. I hope that my description of this composite TTC blog-o-woman isn't too far off the mark, for if it is, then I have vastly misinterpreted the hundreds of blog posts I've read, Exhale submissions I've reviewed, and phone calls I've had with my TTC friends. Besides, I've been there myself in my years (what now feels like decades) of KuKd status.

This is where my Social Experiment comes in. I suppose a better name might be "Social Challenge:" I want to know if it's possible, humanly and emotionally and logistically possible, for me to still find common ground with my TTC homegirls, and with my KuKd Strong Momma readers who have suffered very raw and recent losses and don't want to hear about other people's pregnancies. I want to know if it's possible to straddle both sides of the "prego line," without becoming invisible and irrelevant and hurtful to either world, a notion that's almost more than I can stomach. Can I still post empathetic remarks on others' blogs, and visa versa?

Can I manage to say the right things on this blog about my knocked-up status, things that will be as honest as I like to be, and yet sensitive to the TTC world? This will be my wholehearted effort, although I am sure to occasionally miss the mark.

If I complain, for instance, about the severe coffee-withdrawal-hangover I've been suffering for the past few weeks (worth a novel-length post of class-A bitching), you could rightfully say: "Well, at least you're pregnant. Quit whining about it."

You're right. Touche.

If I eagerly post pictures of the Ralph Lauren "Country Farm Hay Bale" yellow paint I've selected for the baby's room (no part of which will I EVER do), you may just click out of my blog in a fit of disgust.

I wouldn't blame you if you did.

Perhaps a good place to find common ground is for me to offer up some "assurances," if you could call it that, about what it actually MEANS to be pregnant for the third time in a series of previous failures. To put it bluntly, this is not a rainbow-happy-normal pregnancy brimming with optimistic thoughts of strollers and blankets and poop-filled diapers. It's not one for which I've already drawn a red heart in ball-point-pen around September 24th on the calendar, and begun researching baby names. It's not a pregnancy of which anybody should be jealous, not a pregnancy I would wish on anyone, except for maybe that school bully in 5th grade who stuck his bubblegum in my math textbook. I forget his name, but he was an asshole.


Nope, I won't be boasting about this pregnancy. Take these telling truths:


I'm cramping all the time, which people say is normal, but I don't believe anyone. Every time I pee, I check the toilet paper for blood, almost certain I'll see some. In sort, I'm practically waiting to miscarry. I expect it. I can't help it. I feel doomed. Put it this way: Extra-Strength Tums is a part of my daily diet. If this baby becomes a baby, my expectations will be sub-ground low. Just stay alive, get your high school diploma, and stay out of trouble with the law. That's all I ask.

*

Given my track record and relatively high (not high, but relatively high) probability of recurring failure, I enter into this pregnancy with a tremendous fear of growing attached to the tiny blob of fetal material in my pelvis. It's like I'm one of those adopted kids with attachment disorder, and cannot figure out how to love this entity that may or may not turn into a baby. I'd down a shot of strong tequilla to give myself some beer goggles - thereby perhaps helping with the love factor - but neither Jesus nor Kevin would forgive me if I did that. So scrap that idea.

*

If it's a boy, then there will supposedly be a 50% chance of him getting that god-damned-forsaken heart defect again. If I were religious, I'd pray that this was a girl. Of course, no amount of praying would help me now, since the gender has already been determined. So all I can do is kick back and wait. If it's a boy, I'll be stocking up on extra Tums and taking more meditation classes than are probably considered healthy.

*

I have an ultrasound next week to make sure the tiny entity is still alive, and I simply cannot bear the thought of going without Kevin, of ever going to another ultra sound EVER without him, potentially reliving the horror of last time. I hate to be this clingy and demanding, and hope I get over it soon. Let's call it a passing phase for now. I hope our civil rights-era grandmothers and mothers forgive me for ditching my feminist views, for now.

*

Being pregnant again is causing some old sadnesses about Zachary to surface, unresolved grief, I suppose. Not surprising, since I did only get about a C- in Grieving 101. I'm sure some social worker would have predicted this would happen. That's okay, I'll deal.

*

And finally, I'm not reading any pregnancy books or blogs or magazines. This will not become a WOO-HOO! CHECK OUT ME AND MY KNOCKED UP SELF! kind of blog, because my head and heart aren't there. And I'm not joining or starting any groups for knocked-up gals. To do any of this would be to freefall too quickly into eagerness and happiness, which would set myself up for rejection in the end, which is too frightful to bear. I imagine it being why, for example, people who have been married and divorced three times already don't have a huge, expensive wedding the fourth time. Just a quickie at a Las Vegas love chapel with maybe a friend or two in the audience. At some point, skepticism wins out, you know?

*

SO, I'm going at this floating through this in a sea of skepticism and fear of my own, trying to confront these feelings, not relating on this particular issue to my other pregnant friends, nor to friends who have never been pregnant before. That makes for a pretty slim sliver of the friend-population to choose from.

And yes, through the murky waters of all of this anxiety, I'm hoping as hard as I can hope, oftentimes with hot watery tears forming against the backs of my eyeballs but not coming out, that this little potential person inside me stays strong and viable, and makes it to the very end.

Make it, make it, make it.

Any thoughts on this Social Experiment, this joining of the prego- and wannabe-prego minds and souls? What will the results be? Can it be done?

I'm going to assume "yes" for now, and give it a shot.

29 comments:

Hope's Mama said...

Holy shit, congratulations! I for one wont be dropping by the way side, as I always like what you've got to say. For me, childless very much NOT by choice, after suffereing a full term stillbirth after a totally uncomplicated pregnancy in August, I take great joy out of reading about womem who go on to welcome subsequent children in to their lives. I wish nothing for you but happy endings, and I don't pray either, so I'll continue to HOPE for you, which as you can see is what I called my daughter.
And yes, stay the fuck away from What to Expect When You're Expecting. Oh the irony of that friggen book.
Oh, and my birthday is Sept 23, so I'll be rooting for the little squirt to arrive one day early.
Great news Monica, good on you. Hoping to join you on the other side very soon. I already know I'll have a lot of the same thoughts myself.....
Sally

Cristina said...

Hi Monica, I came to the blog to tell you abou the article in this week Newskeek in the Health section about copying with stillbirth. You might have heard already about it. Then I found the news about the baby. I am sending you all the positive thoughts i can have. I've been there, like you everytime I went to pee I would so so fast bring forth the tissue to check for blood cause I was sure I would find some. I even ended up finding some, a lot actually, and cried myself to sleep that night only to find the next day that it was ok. This is how I learned that red is not bad after all. The first time it was pink , that is sometimes not so good , at least it was not in my case. I was on a list serve for molar pregancies and a lot of pregnant moms where still on the list serve, happily giving advice and supporting the moms that were still going through a long and painfull waiting. So I am sure a lot of the non-preg. will still follow everything you write, cause it's really good. Oh one more thing, what worked for me when i was so worried with the second preg. after having two not so good was keep telling " beat, beat, beat" that was my little chant and it was good. I said it a lot cause the worry thoughts were in like crazy. Take care, Cristina

Monica LeMoine said...

Hope's Mama: thank you so much for you kind, profanity-laden, supportive words. I needed that.

Cristina: I hadn't heard about the article, but I'm going right over there to check it out now that you mention it. I am still coping with stillbirth, that is for sure.

Kristen said...

It can be done. As a wish-I-were-prego friend who hopes with every fiber of my being that your third time is a charm, I can promise that it can be done.

I am SOOOOOOOO happy for you Mon. And I am ready to carry that happiness for you until you can let your guard down enough to hold on to a little bit on your own.

Hope's Mama said...

Sorry, comes from a few years working in the newsroom of a huge metropolitan daily newspaper. Busy editors like to say fuck a lot, and so do I. But I figure after all I have been through, I deserve to!! Sorry if my potty mouth offends anyone!!

Glenda said...

Reader, first comment.

Mazeltov. I'm also due September after 6 IVF's. Petrified. Have read too many blogs like yours (brilliant by the way)and have apparently absorbed all the crappy stories and ignored the happy ones. Go figure!
For me, the only blogs I read are the trying side of the line. As far as I'm concerned it hasn't worked till it comes out screaming.
(Serious aside, for me the prob is trying to envision the worst case and reconcile to it...I just can't...if it miscarries/still what does ne do? Mourn, start again...6 more times maybe, get pregnant and crap yourself the whole time...do it again! I am astounded by the strength of you/the women on some blogs...I can't comprehend it.)

So, for what its worth, this lurker will still be reading

~*~Bodhi~*~ said...

Holy shit! Congratulations Gorgeous!

Yes you're right, you will become one of THOSE women but you know what...you will always be one of US and thats all that matters!!

I am another who won't be abandoning your blog, I don't read your words of wisdom because of what you're going through or have gone through BUT rather because I like YOU and I like how you write...thats much more important!

So..keep those legs crossed, roll yourself in sticky babydust and make sure you make that womb of yours as luxurious as possible so it makes it hard for the lil jelly bean to leave!

And I, along with everyone else, can't wait to meet your lil jelly bean come September!

xxxx

'Murgdan' said...

Uh. Ahem. Excuse me? I would stop reading and you can't comment on my blog because you're knocked UP? What? That's just crazy talk, woman!

Congrats, whether you're woo-hooing or not I'll definitely be cheering you on....

...and with any luck I'll be joining you in May (but that's more crazy talk).

sharonvw said...

Congratulations Mon. Its going to be interesting to see what happens with your social experiment.

Anabelle said...

of course it can be done.

and i'll still be your friend lol

wanna hang out at recess?

*~*Lis*~* said...

It is a fine line - but I have a feeling you'll walk it well.

congratulations Monica, wonderful news!

Brenna said...

Sheesh, even when it's a HAPPY POST your blog leaves me crying. I don't mean that in a bad way, it's just that I can always relate so keenly to your words--and in this case I'm imaging the identical feelings I'm likely to have if/when we're able to get knocked up again. No pregnancy will ever be simple, carefree and filled with optimism--there will always be the fears about incompetent cervixes and the 10,000 other woes that could potentially bring things to a crashing end.

So, 1) I'm thrilled for you!
2) I understand what you're feeling, and
3) I most certainly WILL NOT stop reading, but will instead be rooting for you and your baby with all of my heart.

Cara said...

Holy Shit Mon!

I just can't believe this good news! I'm be cautiously excited until you give the go ahead for full on enthusiasm, but I've got to say the number of positive tests resulting from January, um - action- are astounding in the blogosphere right now.

You are not alone. Not going anyhere. You're my editor for crying out loud - btw - did you get the revised piece and the new one I sent you?

Hang in...coffee withdrawl sucks!

amylynn said...

I will not stop reading and I know you will walk that line with grace and dignity and maybe a few cuss words for fun. I'm excited for your new knocked up status.

Viktoria said...

Oh. My. Fucking. God. CONGRATULATIONS to you and Kevin! You know I'm not going anywhere, Sister. oxoxoxoxox

Barbara said...

Congratulations! Hopes, hugs and hang on vibes.

I don't read because you lost your sons, although that shared experience is what started me reading, I read because of what you have to say.

I'm delighted at your news and every other KuKd mother who gets another chance. It gives me hope!

I shall also be looking to your blog for handy hints and tips on how to cope when I get my next terrifying chance!

xxx

rachel said...

Hi there-
I came across your story in a zine I picked up randomly and have been following the blog ever since. I'm not a religious person either; but through my pregnancy and even now, as a mom to a healthy son, I say prayers and offer wishes of hope to whomever is listening. I guess I believe the universe is a good place and I'll be forgiven for casting a wide spiritual net, as it were. I am hoping and praying for and your family. Best wishes.

chicklet said...

First off, I'm totally happy for you regardless how annoyingly whiny you become:-). I may not comment as often, cuz there'll be things I can't relate to, but I'll read, and I'll be there, because good or bad, you still need support. All the bloggers bailing out post-positive-pee-stick annoy me. I don't think it's right. I don't think this blogosphere is all about the negative and drama, it's also about the positive. And I think a lot of others see it that way too, so they'll keep on being here too. Congrats. Really. You bitch;-)

Anna said...

Congratulations! I wish you peace and good luck.

jillkitchen said...

That's wonderful news, Monica. You will be in my thoughts. A friend of mine is Quaker, and she says something often that I really find comforting and beautiful. "I will hold you in the light." And I will...

T said...

Dont forget-- your pregnancy can also be welcomed as a reminder by those of us TTC who are muddling through IF and/or loss (in my case both) that good things are possible. Congrats!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I regularly read your blog because you have such a down-to-earth style. I am unable to have children (unexplained infertility) and after many years, am finally to the point where I am genuinely happy for those who get pregnant. Of course I still get a little twinge here and there when I can't quite relate to something but wish I could. I think the vast majority of your readers will definitely stay with you regardless of the pregnancy and will only have wonderful thoughts and wishes for you...as I do. Because you have stated so well in your blog how you feel as a "childless not by choice" person, you will remember the feelings of all those women who also are "childness not by choice." You have a real compassion for those of us not pregnant and I really appreciate it. One last thing. I'm thinking there has to be a way for small milestones to make there way into your pregnancy. While I realize your fear and reluctance to jump wholeheartedly into the excitement of it all, I hope you find ways to celebrate.

Dalene said...

I've been reading for a little while and want to congratulate you. I will gladly tag along on your journey--I have not experienced IF, but my firstborn died in labor in April after 40 weeks and 6 days of pregnancy. I'm now due in July and feeling tentative, terrified, and hopeful all at the same time. This pregnancy is so different from my first unabashedly joyful 9 months.

eggorchicken said...

Congratulations Mon, I wish all the best for you and your little one - I so hope that all will continue to go well.

And I'm crossing everything your social experiment will work too :)

x

Anonymous said...

I just want to ditto T's comment. You bring us hope!

Stuart's Library said...

We love you Monica!

Em said...

Congratulations Monica! I am so very happy to read your news and I will keep you in my thoughts. I survived a pregnancy after loss, and can very much relate to many of the emotions you are feeling.
September is a great month, btw -
my DD2 and I share a birthday then.
As a KuKd Mama (early loss of a twin 2/05 and fullterm stillbirth in 6/07) I often read your blog, which I find so full of truth, but have only commented once before.

Natalie said...

Oh wow, congratulations! I may or may not be able to continue reading, but you probably knew that. I take each day as it comes.

Pamela Jeanne said...

Just as so many here have said (Chicklet in particular took a few words right out of my mouth and head)...it's not easy to be in a place that requires reconciling a set of conflicting emotions and experiences. You are definitely someone who has empathy, kindness and good humor to do it. Congrats, Monica!