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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

KuKd Assvice: Perils and Responsibilities

Greetings KuKd'ers, TTC'ers and Inquisitive Guests!

Thank you, first, for indulging me in that last post. I'm talking about the one with the totally unscientific holiday assvice for the Newly Knocked Down. It was a weird and new endeavor for me, even a bit scary, trying to write that post. So I thank you wholeheartededly for playing along.

That post was kind of an experiment, really. Here's what writers and politicians and anyone else with a public persona seem to do: they use words, pictures, fashion, music, and other things to create an identify for themselves. It's like: if you walk the gangsta walk, you become a gangsta. If you talk the politican talk, you become a politican. Likewise, I thought if I said the precise right thing in the precise right way, I could become - literally - someone who knew what she was talking about. Imagine that! All I had to do was act the part, and BOOM - I'd be one of those wise, crusty old KuKd veterans with something marvelously insightful to say to my "younger" flock of fledgling dead-baby'ers.





I should say up front that when I wrote that post, it wasn't my intent to fool anyone. Those were honest things that I was thinking and feeling. They were things I wished I could go back in time and say to myself, frazzled and shellshocked person that I was 2.5 years ago. Things I would say to our future daughter-in-law, if we have a daughter-in-law, if she - by chance - got knocked down. They came to me from wherever it is in our hearts where newfound knowledge begins to form, and crytstalizes into something we're certain of.

But it got me wondering, with KuKd, is there...I mean....is there really and truly any advice, assvice, whatEVer, that is appropriate to give to the Newly Knocked Down or the chronically Trying-To-Conceive, both of which I percieve to be particularly vulnerable groups? And are there, in fact, some people who legitimately have more advice to give than others, simply by virture of their experience? And what makes me think I am, or could be, one of those people - any more than any other person of average intelligence out there?

During the lowest points of my KuKd days, there wasn't much that anyone could say to make me feel better, except for when my mom said: "you'll get through this." I believed her, and needed to hear that. But moreover, I remember going to a support group and leaving in a state of irritation, because the facilitator kept cutting everybody off to slather us with assvice. She had lost her baby son about twenty years earlier, so I suppose she had a right to tell us how everything would/should be, and what we should all be doing. But man, did that lady piss me off. I vowed right then to never be that person if I encountered a Newly Knocked Downer - the talking head that interrupts just hear my own obnoxious voice, pelting everyone compulsively with un-asked-for advice.

So in that last post, going back and reading it, I began to wonder: did I just break that vow? Crap. If I did, I'll be resting my embarassed head on Kevin's chest in front of our now-working fireplace tonight for comfort (actually no - the gigantic tumor-like appendage coming off my torso keeps me from lying in any kind of intimately girly pose with my husband, the poor guy).

It makes me wonder about my role in the public sphere, and how I might shape this blog into something more beneficial for the Newly Knocked-Down than merely, "check out this olive-oil bath I just took!" I wonder if I can give something back to the world that's truly useful, or if that would only come off as arrogant and irritating and saturated with unwanted assvice. Blegh.


* * *


There's also this, perhaps more pressing immediate issue.

This past week, I've been trying to write the final two pages of my book manuscript, and I keep hitting a brick wall of writers' block. This waiting-to-be-written section is essentially supposed to be a teensy-weensy, tongue-and-cheek advice section for pregnancy/infant loss. It's called, for now: "Appendix: Field Notes for the Newly Knocked Down."

Now, it's the worst feeling to sit in front of a blank Microsoft Word document, cursor blinking at me expectantly, and be literally unable think of a single solitary thing to say. Even after I go clip my toenails, pet my dog, eat a pickle, do some jumping-jacks, and pee a few inches of pee into the toilet, the words STILL don't come to me.

Which is why I wrote that last blog post. I felt the words were there in me, the advice-like things I wanted to say to the world - just a few of them. I just wanted to try out this particular persona and see if I could say such things in a serious way, without annoying myself to pieces. Could I write something that I myself would have looked at through fresh, tear-soaked eyes a few years ago and felt just a teensy bit better, not worse? Just writing it was a good exercise, because the very next day, the words started coming to me like a flood - and BANG - I began typing out that last section of my book manuscript like a keyboardist on speed. Ahhh, relief.

Maybe, just maybe (warning: I'm really pulling this part out of my ass, so bear with me), we all have a responsibility on our blogs, websites, books, cocktail party conversations, to give back to those "fledgling KuKd newbies" by telling them what we know in our hearts, in as non-intrusive and non-annoying way possible. I mean, those things that we ourselves wished we had known back in our lowest of low days. If there's a silver lining in all this, perhaps it's just that: when we go through traumatic shit, we learn. When we contribute what we learn to the general pool of knowledge, we help others. Some people, like Cara and Stirrup Queen - are at a point in their lives where they're ready to help others who are still just trying to survive the worst. Maybe my time for that is now.

Or, maybe there's no place for real advice in the land of KuKd and IF: perhaps it's all about how we find our own way, following our instincts and muddling through.

Oh, it all sounds so hippy-happy, doesn't it? Then again, 'tis the season to look for silver linings...or in the case below, aliens flying inside of silver linings (seriously, doesn't that one cloud look weird??)

18 comments:

everydayistheendoftheworld said...

I really enjoyed your last post. I think the difference is somone who's been knocked down giving their opinion, compared to the general public. Today would have been my due date and, to be frank, I've felt incredibly alone and shitty all day, and if I bring it up with anyone they just tell me how so many people have miscarriages - because of course, that makes it SO much better! Sorry, end of rant.
I think people can take or leave any advice, but when it comes from someone in said vulnerable group, it has a bit more weight.

angie said...

I actually really like the question/answer type advice. I wish someone would as me a damn question, but I think most people that read me know better than to ask my opinion on anything. The answer would indubitably involve gnomes. So I'm pretending you did. But I do think the difference between you and asshat counselor is that you are not going on the newly KuKd person's blog and commenting over and over again how things will get better and how they should accomplish that. You aren't cutting them off. You are offering it up to read or not read on your own site. Personally, in my early days, I searched blogs for permission to do stuff like skip holidays, bat mitzvahs, baby showers, hell, showering in general. Other blogs and people who had been through this helped me not feel so much like a freak for wanting to hole up in her fortress of solitude. I think the last few pages of your book sounds amazing. If anyone can do it with style, humor and compassion, it is you, lady. Don't forget to include the fact that having gnomes help with daily chores is a real lifesaver after being KuKd. xo

AnxiousMummyto3 said...

Hey Monica,
I have read so much of your blog although I haven't commented a lot. In saying that, I guess I feel like I know you a tiny bit-and I believe you wrote the last post with sensitivity and caring, not to blow your own trumpet or be pushy, a know-it-all. I think my favourite part of this post is when you say "If there's a silver lining in all this..... we help others." I agree with that so much and I felt like that was all you were trying to do. Also it's great to hear how your book is going and I hope that I will have access to it here in the little land of Oz. Take care,
Rosie

Amy said...

Thinking back to my dark days of 2007 after Liam was born/died, I can foggily remember NEEDING advice from another babylost mama. I searched for it in books but never really found that magical "how to" manual that I was desperate for. I read books about the stories that other babylost mama's wrote, and while they helped fill that need they were not what I was looking for. It seemed no one out there wanted to give advice, rather they said vague things that were not much help at all.

I don't think there is one manual or piece of advice that is right for everyone. Our experiences are all so personal that no one can possiblly write something to fit the need of all of us But an honest attempt with advice from the heart seems like a great idea.

If I had found a book that had suggested buying a punching bag to hit when the anger was too intense I would have nodded my head in agreement. I didn't find this advice but we did get a punching bag and hitting that thing saved me from the ravages of anger and grief many times.

Good luck and I hope you find the words.

Anonymous said...

this is emma from scotland again... i found your last post really helpful and am slowly working my way through your previous posts when I can form enough coherent thought to take them in. So far, everything has been helpful and non-sucky. just so you know x

Anonymous said...

I agree w/you. When you're Kuke'd one of the only good things that can come out of it is being able to be there for others who are going through it. I broke down at a party in front of someone I didn't know was Kukd and she took me out for breakfast the next week and shared her experience. Knowing that I wasn't alone, that she got through it and that my feelings were normal was really something to cling to. And, I kindof vowed that I would do the same for others b/c as you say it is the only positive to come out of that mess. Which is why I now talk pretty openly about my loss (even now 36 weeks pregnant with a (knock on wood) healthy baby who seems like she will be born alive soon). I don't care if it's weird to some people to acknowledge my loss last year (and the previous ones)...its more important that 4 or 5 women have come to me in confidence about their own struggles to talk b.c they knew they weren't alone...and what they have needed and I could give b/c I was open is way more important that the 5 minutes of discomfort of someone who was taken aback b/c I was "too open" for their taste. Screw em :)

To morph the ideas in your last 2 posts--its just about knowing you are part of a larger group moreso than the advice, I think, that is important...b/c everyone will have similar feelings but probably want and need to deal in a different way. But...the advice is good b/c it gives people ideas about how to cope and get through...and when there are multiple voices with that advice, it gives someone some sense of choice and control, which are 2 things I desperately needed after a stillbirth last year and 3 prior miscarriages.

KuKd Chick said...

Angie - I'm sorry. Did you say "gnomes?"

All - yes, I think this is part of where it comes from, this looking back at my own worst-of-worst times, and wanting connection (even advice, but the right kind from the right person) and coming up empty. Stillbirth and miscarriage both felt very lonely to me. Which doesn't make sense, given how many of us there are out here in the wild.

therootofallevel said...

i think the only thing any of us knocked downers want to know is 'why us?' and we search and search for even a hint of the answers. something to comfort the blow of what happened to us and how we didn't deserve it.

your blog is great because you don't get into the 'my baby is in heaven playing with all the other dead babies.' for me, that really doesn't answer any of my questions. maybe there is a heaven, and if there is, i certainly hope my son is there, but i'm pissed off at this "God" figure and think he made a huge mistake in my life…

but WORDS comfort me. the way you get through day to day life is what helps me. how to survive your first thanksgiving after a loss – now that is VALUABLE SHIT! sadly, i didn't read your post until after the fact, but it still made me feel better. it really, really did.

…because i'm not alone. i've got you, and everyone else in our db club.

and we thank you!

salute.

namastemom said...

Wow, you can still do jumpjacks, even with the appendage?

KuKd Chick said...

Jumping jacks: yeah, a really slow and sluggish version. You don't even wanna see it.

Kristen said...

Mon, I thought your last post was one of your best. People seek out advice from people who have been there and made it through. And those same people are good at taking things with a grain of salt and only heeding the advice that's meaningful to them. You know how important I think your book and blog are. Don't worry so much about how people will take your advice -- it's your advice that they're coming to your blog (and soon your book!) for. That's nothing at all like interrupting or patronizing or sugar coating in an in-person conversation. The mediums (media?) you've chosen for getting your message out are appropriate for the take-it-or-leave-it advice that you dish out and that so many women crave.

And yes, that one cloud definitely has an alien in it.

Sharon said...

I think the fact you're even considering all of this shows your sensitivity Mon. I mean, lets be honest, when dealing with the broken hearts of the newly KuKd or Infertile, there is a fine line between offering comfort and coming across as an insensitive know it all!
(((hugs)))

Brenna said...

I have certain blog posts from KuKd mammas saved because I refer back to them again and again for comfort or inspiration or support when I feel like I need it. There are some amazing writers in this sphere of experience (you should definitely count yourself among them!) and I love finding those posts to which my heart can totally and absolutely relate.

I should have commented on your last post. It had your usual from-the-heart, straight-talking, humor-laced sincerity to it. I always enjoy reading your writing and your thoughts on anything KuKd-related are more than welcome! I'm obviously not the only one who feels that way. :)

Molly said...

I happen to know that your blog is a great resource for the newly KUKD because I was one of them nearly a year ago and reading your point of view helped me. I feel that you and others are like a scouting party that's ridden ahead yet sends back messages telling me what it's like a ways down the road. In that sense I think you're speaking to the newbies amongst us even when you're not trying to. But trying to specifically make things better for others, that's a tough thing because what one person will find so helpful might rub another the wrong way. I don't say that to stop you from giving advice but just to commiserate that trying to hit the right tone for the audience could sometimes feel forced. No wonder you had writer's block!

Karen said...

I like your tone in the last piece, Monica. You don't preach, you tell what you found to be true in your case. You kind of put it out there for consideration and offer different ideas - like a buffet for a newbie to pick over according to need or preference. You don't talk down, you don't gloss over, you acknowledge. And you have a sense of humour even in the darkest moments. For that reason I've kept reading your blog ever since I found it after George died in May and I was up sleepless and trying to cope. Have you read Ami McKay's The Birth House? Visiting your blog is how I imagine the women she writes about having tea with mitts.

Sissy said...

Monica,
As I have already said, that last post meant a lot to me. As a person who is chronically ttc and kukdx1 I need all the advice I can get. I turn to the blogs of people who have been there, people who get it when I need solace. I don't need answers as much as I need the reassurance that I am not alone.

Rivalen said...

As an English teacher, a quasi book nerd, and KuKd (So I was the "knock upper", not the "knocked up", but certainly got knocked down... it's only been 6 months) I think the title "Appendix: Field Notes for the Newly Knocked Down." followed by a completely blank page sounds perfectly appropriate.

At the same time, I REALLY like your advice (We did Vegas).

I think its just best that we don't ignore our loss or our pain. Take it and examine it, let yourself feel it and don't try to shut it down. I don't mean wallow and become a pariah of some sort, just find a way to, as you said it, let the healing/grieving process work through us.

Being emotionally open like that is frowned upon sometimes for men out there, so that can be tough. But I think you put it in just the right, semi-cynical way to hit home for all of us out here in db-land without being self-righteous.

KuKd Chick said...

Good points, Rivalen. Yes - I think that openly "feeling" the bad stuff is frowned upon in certain circles. Everyone works thru it in their own way. I had my own weird way of dealing with stuff too. I look back and think: why didn't anyone tell me anything useful back in my lowest-of-low days? And then I think: there probably wasn't anything useful that anyone coulda said. Ultimately, we navigate thru this on our own, I guess. Sucks!!