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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bipolar Bikini

Greetings, Guests-n-Regulars!

Warning! This is a bipolar post. Rather, an Attention-Deficit-Disorder-Inducing post with two polar opposite subjects combined into one scroll of text. The first part consists of silly fluff - stuff that would be of utmost importance if we all lived...say...on the set of Sex and the City. The second part will bring us all back down to earth, where we'll shove our feet into the cool, damp mud together. Please, please, please read the whole thing. I really need you to get to Part 2 of this post, because it's actually more important than the first part.

Why am I cramming two polar different topics into one post? Well, I will be away from the entire godforsaken Internet (yipeeee!!!!) for a full week starting tomorrow, which means I've got to cram all of this week's thoughts into one chunk of language. Where am I disappearing to for a week? Why, thanks for asking! I was hoping you would. How to say this in a way that sufficiently explains why I am buzzing with fluttery excitement today?

In a nutshell, Kevin and I are going from here:

to here.

Need I say more? It's an island called Vieques off the coast of Puerto Rico. See that white tourist dude hangin' under the palm tree? That will soon be Kevin. And next to Kevin will be me, leisure pawing little pits in the sand and watching warm Carribean water swirl into those pits, reveling in the feeling of doing nothing at all.

And now, Part 1: The Fluff

Okay, let's all pretend we're girly characters on Sex and the City, like I said, and that the most important issue of our lives besides getting laid guessed it...FASHION. Okay, are we there? Good.

It was Kevin who first suggested that I purchase a bikini for our trip to Puerto Rico. I don't understand what he has against my stretched out, dark brown one piece swimsuit from the JC Penney sale rack - but his reaction to it has always been luke-warm at best. Perhaps it's that the material is now stretched to the point of hanging baggily on my boobs. At any rate, he saw me unwadding it from my gym bag, he politely mentioned that I should splurge on something new. Something a bit, maybe a bit more comfortable.

Now, let me start by saying I have never owned a bikini in my life. No, no, no. I'm a one-piece-swimsuit-with-constant-towel-covering-up-my-thighs kind of gal. Why put myself or anyone else through the anxiety of a bikini? Totally unnecessary, not to mention impractical. Still, I had this sudden sense that if I am ever going to get away with wearing a bikini, then now would be the time - what with my bulging belly stretching out the existing stomach flab, making the stomach flab look mercifully like a mere extension of my prego belly. I would fool the world into thinking that my WHOLE BELLY is comprised of innocent and womanly pregnant-ness, not sculpted from beer and nachos!

So I went to the mall - the same mall where I ventured to make my bold, recent first-time purchase of lingerie - and reluctantly bought TWO suits to try on at home. Gawd, is there anything worse than pulling a swimsuit over one's pasty, flabby body under the fluorescent lights of a Target dressing room, especially knowing you look nothing like the beanpole-thin 14-year-olds trying on skinny jeans around you? That, plus the thought of peeling off my several layers of woolen winter clothing only to have to put them back on five minutes later, was enough to compel me to buy both suits, try them on at home, and return the one I hated least.

I tried on my new purchases today to parade them self-consciously in front of Kevin and seek his opinion. He has a favorite, but I'll withhold that information. Perhaps you can take an unbiased look, and let me know which you hate least? It's imperative that I know tonight, because we leave early tomorrow morning, and one of these suits shall stay here! And if you hate them both, then GOOD. I'll tell Kevin I should just wear my brown one-piece as originally planned.

The first, obviously safer option is techically a two-piece, but a more conservative variety.

I sort of like the fact that it's not a total string-thing, but that the lower portion has a thicker panel of materal to hide the...I'm not sure...hip fat? And I think the plaid design has a particular...I don't know...1950s wholesome quality to it that I like.

The next one is much more of a traditional, scary bikini type of bikini - the kind that horny 8th-grade boys would try to yank the strings of and make your top come off at the water park. This one makes me nervous.

OK, I admit wholeheartedly: there are bigger problems I should be brooding about, much more important things going on in the world that matter more than this particular issue. Still, a two-piece suit's a BIG DEAL in my book! It's like getting your first training bra, or kissing your first boy! OK, not THAT big a deal, but big nonetheless.

PS - no comments from perverted, dirty old men please. These are pregnant-lady pictures, not photo-ops from Playboy magazine, for fuck's sake!

* * *

Part 2: The Deep Stuff

Totally, utterly, irritatingly unrelated to the bikini bit, but here goes. Even as I prepare to write this, I'm getting choked up. It is soooo not about bikinis. I want to put this out here, because...well...I just think it's important. I think it's important to temper the bikini fluff - the prego belly popping out all frivolously - with the hard, earthy reality of life as a TTC/KuKd'er - and to do what I think blogs are really supposed to do: throw back into readers' faces what we already know deep down (with a new twist every now and then).

Ever since I announced my knocked-up-ness on this blog, I've gotten e-mails from readers expressing various states disarray over my pregnant state. I mean sure, public blog-etiquette dictates that the announcement of something fortunate - like a pregnancy - requires comments like, "I'm so happy for you!" and "Gee, that's great!" I like hearing those, of course - but all along I've known that there's a whole lot more going on than what those surface comments reveal. I'm talking about thoughts that aren't being said, because of this fragile social realm that we live in: fragile feelings, fragile people, fragile situations. I know, because I've been there.

The message I got most recently really shook me to tears, in part because I've been a certifiable see-saw of emotion lately, but also in part because of the sheer brilliance and honesty of it. What's extraordinary about this particular reader, however, is her courage to be really straightforward with how she's feeling. The best way to convey her meaning, I think, is to give you a brief abridged clip from her message. Here, give it a read.

And no skimming; give it the nice, thoughtful read it deserves - because it's brimming with little gems of truth.

Hey Monica; I feel kind of ridiculous writing to you with 'hey, monica', like we actually know each other, and this next line might freak you out but don't worry, I am going to pay you the ultimate compliment.

I sat and cried and cried this morning, blowing stupid snot bubbles into my husband's freshly washed and newly put on tee-shirt as he was trying to get ready for work. I blubbered on about your words, your experience, and how I felt so stunningly left behind. Usually your words provide a quite reprieve, your bitterness is somehow comforting, your honesty a place to be comfortably uncomfortable. I felt like... you understood. You understood more than me, you were beyond my own experiences, my own pain, my own sense of loss.

We've gone through a 9 week miscarriage and two early miscarriages and I know that's nothing compared to your journey. But we can't make it happen again. And it hurts. I have counted many women who have endured dead babies (of some stage or another) and gone on to have non-dead babies. In fact, I am the only one I know who is still amazingly, stunningly barren. Unexplained infertility. Except for those three wanted-to-be babies who never existed.

And now that you're pregnant, and for some stupid reason, I feel so fucking alone. And I don't even know you, yet I clung onto your fear, your pain, your loss and somehow my own was less intense because of it. I lost my misery mentor. I can't relate to what you write now... to being happy about pregnant friends and the spark of hope you have burrowing into your belly, kicking and squirming and living and growing. I depended on your stinging honesty, your fuck-you attitude and your pain and the raw expression of it to deal with not only the loss of our baby, but the loss of not having another.

It's kind of like being on a close-knit team of underdogs, always gamely fighting against the odds and never really making it... but cheering each other on, wrapping wounds and screaming encouragement when someone really bites it...... then one cool evening, you show up for the game under the bright lights... and slowly realize as you look around and you're the only one left and there is no team. Just you, on the field, alone, and everyone you knew has moved on to the majors. Somehow, in my warped little online world... you were not only the team captain, but the only other member left.

Monica, how selfish of me.... I was comforted knowing someone had been hurt more than me. Human I guess, but I hate to admit to that downfall of my personality. There are few people who I believe deserve the joy you are feeling, and you are pretty much in the top three on that list. Please just be flattered. I don't mean to be hurtful. You are an amazingly strong woman and your words are important, and they are real. A good author takes something right in front you and makes you see it in a whole new light. I wish you the absolute best and a wonderful, easy birth and freakishly healthy baby who goes to Harvard, marries the most beautiful woman in the world and gives you six grand babies (with not even the whisper of a miscarriage) who surround you every holiday with shouts of 'grandma!'.... I do wish that for you.

I'm going to send this because I think you might find it refreshingly insulting(?), raw(?) or just plain weird(?) and you seem to be a person who appreciates all that.

OK, breathe. Isn't this message just so...I don't know...brutally, awesomely truthful? Doesn't it make you want to light candles and blast Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve?

I do in fact find her message "refreshingly insulting AND raw" - not at all weird. She reminds me, and reminds us all, what I think is the hardest and most hurtful aspect of KuKd/TTC: the fact that the people we bond with oftentimes move on, leaving others behind. We move on to different places in our lives, mentally and emotionally, and we move on in more tangible ways - like having non-dead babies. You make friends in the IF/KuKd community and sometimes, yeah - you look around and realize that the people who were with you, right in step beside you, suddenly have leapt forward through time and space into a different place. I would liken it to losing a best friend in high school: you suddenly aren't having the deep talks you had in the past, sharing the same fuck-you attitudes about everything that you used to.

I've been there so many times in this KuKd journey, and in fact I'm still there in certain ways. There is nothing in this reader's message that didn't make me nod and go, yup. I get it. And nothing that didn't make me feel profoundly sad that this is how the world has to work.

I felt it important to put this message out here, now, in light of my "problem" of choosing the right bathing suit. It's a problem that many people, I realize, wish they had: how to look good on the beach insi de of a pregnant body. The fact is, by virtue of being pregnant, I've alienated some readers - and I've always known and felt deeply troubled by this inevitible fact. I've been on both sides of this weird line several times in my life: on the left-behind side, and the moving-ahead side.

I guess what I want to say, what I want to remind people of, is this: that neither side of that "line" is a happy and wonderful place, that the loneliness oozing forth in the message above goes both ways. Pregnancy - yes - will automatically set a woman apart from the very people she's counted on to connect with and share that fuck-you attitude. It's happened with me. It was hard for me to even keep this pregnancy, let alone announce it publicly. I knew - again, having been there lots of times before - that it would turn me into someone else, someone with a growing belly and a different outlook from that of many of my readers. I knew it would help me deal with others' babies. I knew it would propel me to some forward place - but that this moving forward would be a bittersweet journey, because it would effectively take me away from the very core thing that's helped me survive my own journey: the vastly supportive commuity I've found through the blog-o-sphere.

But I also think that - even despite the hurt caused by this difference - women in this IF/KuKd community share a special bond that really can't be broken even by pregnancy. The amazingly strong person who wrote this message: nope, she surely can't relate to pregnant bikini-shopping, or the mental embracing of my friend's new baby, or the optimism that comes with a burgeoning fetus in the belly. But I so want to believe that even the sudden, sharp difference created by pregnancy can't take away the supportive bonds formed in the IF/Kukd community. If that were the case, we'd all be royally screwed.

This pregnancy isn't easy for me, even as I slice up sugar-cookie dough and prance around in a bikini like nothing at all is awry. Of course, I'm optimistic; I can't pretend not to be. But it's a weird, lonely journey in its own way, and I've really not found other prego-friends who I can truly talk shit with about my everyday concerns. I keep up this blog because, frankly, the readers who have been through KuKd loss before are the real people I feel most connected to even still - not the clucking group of new mommies or prego-gals at Motherhood Maternity. What the fuck do THEY know about how hard, how important, how precarious this whole business really is?

The truth is, I'm really not a Misery Ring Leader (although I think that would be a cool thing to have on my resume) - I'm just as much of a needy and clueless follower as the rest of the class. So I don't want anyone to think the Misery Ring Leader has deserted the squad. I'm not in the clear, no way Jose. There are three months left to go on this pregnancy, and if/when this baby comes into the world, I'll STILL not be in the clear. So you can count on me for ongoing cynicism, if nothing else. I say my thoughts here, and hope a few people understand. And usually, at least one person gets it. And then I get to feel like a normal human being.

So thanks, to that lovely person, for sharing those thoughts, for saying things that I was thinking and feeling just six short months ago, for tuning me into how this blog has helped and affected you, and for reminding me to walk the line as skillfully as I can. That is: being the Prego Me and the Knocked-Down me, and figuring out how to do both without having an identity crisis.

Maybe I should just stick to the one-piece stretched brown swimsuit. I'm starting to think the bikini itself might be cause for an identity crisis...


See yous in a week!


Anonymous said...

I say the skimpier bikini! With maybe a wrap or pullover to ward off self consciousness as necessary. Or at least a layer of sunscreen. Also, totally jealous that you can pull two swimsuits off the rack and have both fit! Nice work!

And to comment on the second half of your someone who had never been Ku or Kd (and not trying to get Ku'd until I've learned how to fake being a grown up a bit better), I hope that through your words, I have learned to be a better friend. Also, when I reach a trying-for-baby phase, I will be taking nothing for granted. I guess my point is that your words not only have helped those going through the shitty patches of life, but have helped to create some allies who have a little more insight than they would otherwise. So, thank you.

caitsmom said...

Awesome post. Love the bikini choices and glad that you have the choices to make!!! Also, the post from "misery comforted by misery" was powerful. How raw and wonderfully honest without ugly talk, blaming, and the like, but a difficult look within. (((hugs)))) to all. Peace.

Logical Libby said...

First of all, bikini #2. Rock that body.

And I am still surprised at the range of difficult emotions I encounter every day, with every interaction with people with kids/having kids/or not able to have kids. Just when I think I know what I will feel, my mind throws me for a loop. It's neverending. And it sucks.

Sara said...

Take the leap and go with #2!! You are the girl who did a naked by the lake - let her back out. I think you'll feel glad you did.

And you look fantastic in it. :-)

Sara said...

that was supposed to say "a naked photo shoot by the lake". . .sorry about that.

Hope's Mama said...

Amazing post. Not sure what else to say. Just left stunned by the whole thing. In a good way though!
And for what it's worth - bikini number two!

Rach said...

Go with which ever bikini you feel most comfortable in.

As for the second part, it could have been me writing that email to you. As I look at all my "regulars" of late who were in the trenches with me but now are speeding towards parenthood or have a babe in their arms, I feel spectacularly left behind. Even more so as I take that final step in never becoming a mother - BCP. And with so few blogs around about living childfree after giving up FTC it's hard to find anyone to relate to, to share your feelings which makes our little corner if the ALI blogosphere feel very isolated and lonely.

Have a fab holiday btw xxxx

Michelle said...

I like bikini number 2 and good for you!!!

Part 2 has me blubbering in tears right now. Not really able to complete a coherent thought because as I have been looking at my blog roll lately I have been telling my husband I need to find new ones to read. It seems the whole list is pregnant or had there baby. With you, though, and I say this honestly, you have approached it differently. I like the way you have presented yourself and kept true to who you are and all you are going through. Like we KUKDers/IFers always say " I am so happy for you but sad for myself at the same time". Those 2 emotions are sometimes very hard to deal with.

I haven't left those who have been successful because in the end it is what I cling to. It is the only real hope I have left. That people like you (like me) make it. I need you to because if you can then maybe just maybe I can. That does not mean it is easy to feel left behind. So, If I am having a bad day I don't read and I find others who are wallowing in there misery like I add to my blog roll.

I hope you have an amazing vacation and turn lots of heads because they can't believe how FANTASTIC you look...because you do!

Rae said...

Go with the brown plaid, not just because it's adorable on you, but because you seem more comfortable in it. But, you look just as cute in the skimpier one, so l say bring them both because after wearing the tankini a while l bet you'll feel confident and cool enough to reveal a little more!

As for the second part, what can l say? I guess l am KuKd but it was a blessing at the time, because l was 16 and terribly ignorant, but l have never felt that mothering urge so much in my life as l do now. Partly because l am an RN working on a Labor & Delivery unit. l know how you feel about RN's, social workers, etc. giving assvice to the newly KuKd, and that is precisely the reason l read your entire blog, from the very beginning; to find out what women in this state really need/want to hear from professionals. So, so not to blabber further, do YOU think l, as a professional, should refer the amateur KuKd'ers to your blog? And suggest that they read from the beginning? Obviously there are those new dead baby mamas l might refrain from referring (like the recent severely religious couple who would only allow baptised Catholic RN's in their room), but as a whole, and in your experience, has your blog been helpful for the nitty-gritty newbies?

I also ask because l know l would be soothed by this blog. I think your writing is wonderful, provocative, deep, and true. Keep it coming!

angie said...

I urge you to take both of them. Some days you may feel string and the other days you may feel a bit brown plaid. And you look amazing in both of them. (Vieques is awesome and it is a perfect time of year for visiting her.)

As to the second part, I have never gone through infertility, though I have had a 38 week stillbirth. Yes, the email was raw and honest and it is amazing to receive something so eloquent and trusting. I also think, like you, that it is refreshingly insulting, except perhaps not that refreshing. I just think it is kind of unfair to put that kind of responsibility on you. It sounds like what she is saying is: "I wish it were me and not you, because I can't relate to you now." But as I say, I do not understand these impulses, and perhaps that is because I do not deal with infertility. But I do think this is the just the way of the universe. Our friends change, our communities morph, our lives grow away from others, and closer to new people depending on our personal trials and tribulations. Though for me, despite the differences in all of our circumstances, I find myself drawn to people who are amazing writers, who can show me a new way of looking at the world. I have never read you as a Misery Mentor, or someone who ever had it worse than anyone else. You have an amazing ability to find humor in the darkest of places, show me something new in a busride, or remind me of the hilarity of doing it with your husband. Have fun in Vieques swimming amongst the florescent algae. You need to put some in your mouth and spit it. It freaks everyone out.

AnxiousMummyto3 said...

Hey Monica
Loved the title of this post-I looked at my sidebar and went 'huh? she's really lost it this time....' but you did not disappoint! I like bikini # 2 the best, but also have to agree that it is probably safest to take both. Thanks for posting this email and giving us all some food for thought. This issue is on my mind a lot and I have to agree when you first announced your pregnancy I was like 'crap, my fave blogger is going to change...' as yours was one of about only 3 I read to begin with. But I still feel there is a lot in your blog that I can identify with. I also applaud the email writer for her honesty-that took some guts to write. Thanks for taking the time to show me yet another side of what KuKd does to your life.

Brenna said...

First I'd like to respond to Rae, in case she's checking on responses to her response. Rae, I started reading Monica's blog right after I lost our babies, and I loved it. It was so refreshing, so brutal and real and yet also capable of making me (dare I say it--laugh?!) at the most unexpected moments. The balance of gut-wrenching grief and ironic humor here has always captured me, even in the gritty awful earliest days of my grieving. I wouldn't hesitate to point someone over here--they'll know for themselves quickly enough whether Monica's style fits their emotional space.

I like the plaid tankini...but I like plaid, and tankinis. And I'm personally afraid of baring the amount of skin revealed in the second choice, so I'm being biased and going with the one I would wear, which isn't necessarily what YOU would/should wear 'cause you're much more daring than I am! (Hello, naked photos on the Internets!!!)

The note is beautifully written and expresses thoughts I'm guessing many of us have shared over the years. It's tough to balance a KuKd blog with a pregnancy, and you do it so skillfully that it leaves me envious. I know some women who've chosen to separate their blogs completely (one for mourning a loss, another for celebrating living children) and I can't seem to do that--it's all me, you know? But neither do I walk that line quite as successfully as you do. Thanks for reminding me of the need to pay attention to that delicate balance!

the misfit said...

#1: like the top, not the bottom as much. #2: generally I'm the modesty queen (yes, even with swimsuits), but I make exceptions for things bought for the dh's benefit that mostly/only he is going to see. And suit #2 is more flattering. Also, they're from Target - why can't you have two? One might be drying, and you'll want to wear the other one.

(Amusing to me: word verification is "epantee." That's sort of what this post is, yes?)

Emerging Butterfly said...

I think you look great in both....the bottom teeny bikini will be super cozy because you will just absorb all that sunshine...sounds yummy as I look out the window at the mounds of snow outside.

For part two...There are always...ALWAYS...ebbs and flows in life. I have children. five of them. I've had 3 early miscarriages, and a stillbirth in which I lost my twin sons last Spring. It ruined me. Broke my heart. Yes, I have why am I crying???

There is no why. There is no more or less deserving of grief. We grieve. We loose. We gain...and maybe we loose again. It is life, and it is horrible and awesome.

So many people were openly rude about my last pregnancy. People who knew nothing about my loving home judged that I was having "more". Now they are gone.

It's a loss that I'm not even "allowed" by society to heal. I can't "justify" more children though were I to try I could have more I am sure. I get to end my baby story with death.

There is no baby after death for me....only death and memories of that for my children. There is no warm happy baby memory for them. Only a grave.

We are all entitled to our different brands of pain. You are moving on...but you will always remember holding your son in your will never be the Monica you might have been without that experience. You will always be the sassy writer with heart scars.

That is why we read. That is why we continue to read even after your arms are filled with baby-ness.

You understand something that doesn't go away just because your life has changed.

and just perfect.

Amy said...

The entire post touched me. First, I like the takini best.

so much of what the reader posted rings true in my heart. With each bloggy friend that announces her pregnancy I feel a little betrayed like my partner in misery is leaving me behind. And this is happening more and more these days. But isn't that exactly what I am hoping to do too? To become the next one to magically become a preggo and not a TTCer/ infertile? Damn conundrum is what this is. We need the comfort of each others misery but all the while hoping to escape the misery ourselves.

I do eventually find compassion and love in my heart after the initial envy and sense of betrayal wears off. I am eventually happy for all the TTCers who become preggers and have a living child. And I always wish it were me. And often cry when it is not. And around the emotions go.

Thank you for posting her words for all of us to read. Thank you for your honest reply.

Frustrated Fairy said...

I vote second bikini :D

Frank & MB said...

rock that shit! #2!

KuKd Chick said...

Lovin' these comments. At an airport hotel at the San Juan airport, Puerto Rico and can't write much, but I will say:

1) I brought both bathing suits, but will likely "rock" #2.

2) I have not taken a shit in 2 days - despite eating lots of prunes today. Mama mia!

3) I repeat - loving all of your thought and love. :-)

Karen said...

I'm way late reading and posting but I like the first suit - but - I'd cut off the two bows that adorn the bottoms on that one. The second one is fun, too, and I'm glad to read you took both.

I'm glad you balanced this post with the fluffy bathing suit part because I'm weeping for the woman who wrote to you. I feel so badly for her and I admire that she could be so honest and that you responded with such love and understanding. I love Emerging Butterfly's comment.

Have fun in Puerto Rico. Maybe apricots will help???? They work better than prunes in our house.... Then remember, "Donde es el bano?" when the time comes!!

Andrea said...

You really look awesome in both bikinis, really. But if I had to choose I'd vote for #1, I'm just more of a tankini fan. And it looked like there was an open back, love it. :) Have a great holiday, it looks beautiful!

Also, thanks for the second half of your post. It was very moving and so honest.

Kells said...

Monica-- incredible post. I've just started reading your blog and it's amazing. I do not come from the community that has been reading you for a long time so I'm learning the lingo and letters of things but figuring things out and so appreciate your honesty as well as the woman sho wrote to you. I thought she put it very well. Anyway just to let you know how far your thoughts and words reach out.

As for the bathing suits, buy both bc it's always good to have more than one. But if you have to choose, take #2. The more modest on can be annoying when it's wet on your stomach.

Take care, Kelli

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