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:
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 is...you 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 more...um...revealing, 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 is...well...it'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!
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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 of...um...emotional 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!