Greetings, KuKd'ers and Inquisitive Guests!
Sunday morning: today is a bound to be decent day. The plan (see? making plans again!) is brunch with friends followed by a bike ride along a closed-off section of road near Lake Washington. It's a Pacific Northwest thing: you eat something organicky like free-range bacon from pigs that were hugged at least once a day, and then you do something outdoorsy. Then you come home and take a well-deserved nap.
And then if you're lucky, you get to have a post-nap bout of sex in the bedroom while your mother leaves a lengthy message on the answering machine about the new futon she just bought from Dania. You ignore her sing-songy voice and bite your lower lip, attempting to concentrate on that latest sexual fantasy instead, hoping you're not a bad person for not frantincally disentangling yourself from your partner and running naked into the other room to pick up the phone. It's your own mother, for god's sake! You can have intercourse any old time, but your parents are getting OLD! They might be dead soon! And then, you'll look back and wish you'd taken every opportunity to talk to them in person....
Anyway. Don't ask me where THAT tangent came from. I really am going breakfast-eating and bike-riding with friends today, but sort of made up the sex-and-mother-on-phone bit. I think my brain is on overdrive this morning.
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Moving on to the pre-point point of this post (not the real point):
As a handful of you might vaguely recall, about four months after Zachary's dirth, Kevin and I went to Ecuador to "reconnect with our backpacking, beer-drinking, foreign-travelling" selves (you should see my updated passport photo, which was taken a mere six-weeks after The Death: I look like one of those "after" pictures from Faces of Meth. One of these days I'll scan it and show it to you for laughs).
As all you bloggers out there know, writing is one of the best, most cathartically awesome activities that a person can possibly do when hit with something traumatic. Am I right or am I right? So while in Ecuador, I started keeping a journal-like thingy on a scrap of lined paper. Over the next year, I drank a shit-ton of coffee and wrote more and more. That scrap of paper turned into lots of scraps of paper, which turned into a gigantic Microsoft Word document, which somehow morphed into a full-fledged memoir about dead-baby-motherhood. Astoundingly, somebody thought it was decent, and last week I signed a contract to have it published through Catalyst Press, small publisher in San Fransisco.
The thing with the memoir is, honestly I don't even care if it sells. Well, that's not totally true: if I can make up my cost of replacing laser ink cartridges and bring in enough to take myself and Kevin out to dinner at a fancy restaurant to celebrate - that would be nice. But I didn't write it for money. I wrote it because it felt good to write, and because I needed to generate some raunchy humor about the whole mess before I died of sadness. When the book comes out in 2010, I think I'll like having some closure to that year of highly caffeinated writing, and something to hand over to my parents, who are going to be proud of me.
And ya know, even as we all creep into our 30s and 40s and beyond, isn't making our parents proud of us STILL about the grandest feelings on earth? For me it is.
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Now, here's the REAL point:
I've already got aNOTHER cool book concept up my sleeve (thanks, caffeine!), and I'm going to be tapping your brains about it from time to time. Truthfully, it's not something I can even attempt to do without input from other dead-baby mommas (can I just say DBM from now on?). So it's really going to be more of a collaborative effort, the way I see it. And hey: if you articulate an idea brilliantly, I might even quote you directly in the book, which I can't imagine you not enjoying.
Essentially, my next book idea is a slim, down-and-dirty KuKd survival manual written in a tone and style that "speaks" to a young(ish), smart/savvy/cynical/pissed/saddened audience of women and men (ok fine, mostly women) who have just undergone miscarriage or stillbirth.
Right now, Empty Cradle, Broken Heart is about the closest thing there is these days to a KuKd survival guide. I'm picturing something about half that size, written in a younger, more girl-talky, gritty tone, with a military girl-scout cover like something you'd carry around if you were lost in the woods. Its a book that will require lots of research, and I picture it having some similar sections as Empty Cradle - things like "you may be feeling _______" with various survival tips scattered throughout.
I don't have a catchy title yet, but for now I'm just going to lamely and boringly refer to it as "The KuKd Survival Manual." As I said, you'll likely get tapped for ideas here from time to time. I'm going to need other seasoned, wise DBM's like you to gather quotes for the book and help me sure that what we tell the audience of this book (our poor friends who are JUST NOW going through what we've gone through) isn't completely off the wall.
And guess what: that starts right here, this very Sunday morning! Here we go.
DBMs, put your thinking caps on and help me out: Do you think it's beneficial to expose yourself to sad, even baby-laden situations sometimes during the year or so after KuKd, for the purpose of deliberately opening the crying/feeling floodgates?
As in, is that something you'd ever recommend to a friend who just lost her baby? I know I know I know. It seems like a completely out-there and sadistic idea. But before you scream out NOOOOOO, read on -and then you can still scream out NOOOOO if you want to:
Recently, somebody wrote to me with an Ask a Dead Baby Momma question: "What are some tips for avoiding baby showers?" A perfectly valid question. Why would you ever want to expose yourself to something that's going to be upsetting? As queen of baby-shower avoidance back in the day, I know that feeling well.
Even more recently, fellow blogger Tina pointed out this blurb from Empty Cradle:
"There is research showing that tears are a biologically necessary way of relieving stress-there is evidence that tears remove stress-induced toxins from the body. Holding back tears can induce stress, resulting in a variety of psychological and physical symptoms, including exacerbation of preexisting conditions ..."
So true, isn't it? Crying is good. It's healthy. It feels right. There just isn't anything but a good, hard cry. The problem is - for me at least - there are times when you know you should be crying because you're still sad, but the tears just don't come. One of my DBM friends in Seattle was just lamenting to me about this peculiar condition - when that post-KuKd numb sensation takes over and you just can't seem to...well...feel. It's frustrating to know there's something in there, a great big scary ball of grief, and yet you can't seem to access it in a productive and helpful way.
It made me think of the times when, about eight months after Zachary's dirth, I did - in fact- start reluctantly going to stuff: baby b-day parties, gatherings with babies. Not all the time, just once in a while. Nothing triggered me to feel quite like those events. The drives home from those were always soaked in tears, with me having to pull over to blow my nose on my hair. For all of the obvious reasons, they made me sad. The reminded me of what was lost, what could have been, what wasn't.
But somehow, deep down, I also remember enjoying releasing that floodgate of emotion so easily, that visceral sense of being reminded, poked and prodded, as though Zachary was with me at that moment saying: "Remember me? I was here, and now I'm not."
So I'm wondering, could it be GOOD to expose yourself to shit like that? Four months, eight months, a year after you lose your own child? I mean, not right away, but months later? Or is that so potentially harmful that it isn't worth it? Is it best to skillfully avoid hurtful situations to keep yourself in-tact, or is it OK to let yourself fall apart from time to time?
OK, I'm thinking so hard in circles right now that I need to take a break. Off to change into my biking attire; looking forward to thoughts from the peanut gallery!