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Monday, December 7, 2009

Normalcy, Interrupted

Greetings, KuKd/TTC'ers and Inquisitive Guests!

Forget those last few posts about advice-giving. Advice-giving my ass! Who am I to give it? I'm certainly not homefree in all this or above anyone else on the KuKd healing front, let me tell you. I was reminded just yesterday about its presence in there: that murky and tangled ball of messy emotion, buried farther each year. It rose up suddenly to the surface to interrupt otherwise normal holiday cheer. Perhaps it was Zachary hitting me with a reminder from the Stillborn Babe Penthouse up above: HEY MOM! Hellooooooo, rosy-cheeked lady wtih the fake-wine sloshing in a glass! Remember me? That other baby boy from a two-and-a-half years ago? The ORIGINAL numero uno that came waaay before that other little growing half-baby in your belly, the one you now think about dreamily all the time. I was here first, and don't you forget it!

* * *

The week began normally.

First, a brand new camera. As a pre-Christmas gift to myself, I went in for the $99 Fuji on sale, but they sold me on the $279 dealio with promises of better close-up shots, a cash rebate, AND a gift card for a fancy seafood restaurant where Kevin and I could go on a date some day! A real date! Which I'm certain we'll do as soon as I stop lying on my side and groaning like a beached pregnant whale. How could I resist? So I came home, sheepishly telling Kevin I spent "a tad bit more" than the original intended amount. He knew better than to ask "how much more." Some things are best left to the imagination.

Next, the holiday baking spree. Still just normal behavior, no bleak KuKd relics rising up like bile in the mouth. My good friend M, makes the baddest-ass sugar cookies on the planet when he isn't reviewing Seattle-area restaurants: chewy, sweet but not too sweet, and ever-so-slightly salty. His talk about sugar cookies reminded me that as long as I can remember, my mom and I have made that very thing each Christmas. Good'ol sugar cookies, rolled and cut into shapes and then frosted. I usually make them on my own now, with the occasional venturing into something else. This year, I started with that "something else," which - despite being openly frowned upon by sugar-cookie guru and traditionalist M himself, were these chewy molassas spice cookies.

(And of course, I took the opportunity to try some close-up shots with my new Fuji camera . I'm not getting paid to drop product names into my blog - although a million bucks per mentioning would certainly be welcome, Fuji executives!)

First, the butter, sugar, and molasses:

Then came everything else, mixed-n-formed into little dough blobs and rolled in sugar, as Tebow watched with great interest:

...and into the oven they went. Pure holiday pleasure! Meanwhile, it was time to make sugar-cookie dough. I realized, though, I'm sick of rolling and cutting sugar cookies into cheezy dork-wad shapes like Santas and gingermen and stars. So I decided to venture out and shape my cookie dough into a rectangular log-shape.

Sliced it into squares:

...And baked'em. Eight minutes at 375 degrees, taking them out still slightly undercooked as M recommends, allowing them to finish baking outside the oven and remain moist on the inside. As you can see, Tebow approved wholeheartedly.

My fresh-baked cookie squares got stacked next to their chewy molasses counterparts to be photographed by my eager, now butter-fingerprint-covered Fuji camera.

And then, frosted-n-decorated (and re-photographed, of course):

So I rode this wave of holiday-high for most of the week, reveling in the joys of my new camera and baking adventures.

* * *

Here's where Zachary's spirit dropped down on this bungi-cord thingy from up above, and reminded me - I guess - that despite the frilly joys of consumerism and photography and mixing sweet goodness in glass bowls, one can never take away one's KuKd status. Which is to say that he - that boy who never became a boy - will always be there in some form or another.

It hit me when a couple of old baby-lady buddies came over to visit - N and C, the originals. By "originals" I'm talking, of course, about those two kindred-spirit friends who were prego alongside me back in the day, their babies due at the same time as Zachary. We stood around in the living room and chatted amicably, eating cookies (of course), co-marveling at my now eye-popping belly size, all of us laughing at raunchy things with our heads tossed back as usual.

This time, however, the conversation veered into what used to be forbidden territory, as dictated by an unspoken rule: baby talk. I mean, breastfeeding and backaches and sleeping patterns and daycare and all those baby-talk things that mommies and almost-mommies talk about. It was cool for the most part; I got into it. If you look closely at this blurred shot, you might even see the glories of my double laughing-chin:

But there was one moment when it wasn't cool, just a fleeting moment.

It was like this sudden, acute sense of two universes intersecting. The old one, where we used to talk about this stuff all the time - except as mutually eager and inexperienced innocents. Not talking about what it was like to have your nipples chaffed by a gnawing infant, but what it was going to be like - because none of us had ever done this before. Now, enter new universe: in this one, N and C have been on a two-year odessy of new parenthood together, so our positions are different. It's me as eager and clueless learner/listener, and them as seasoned knowers and tellers.

How can I not recognize this shift? And once I think about that, how can I not begin to consciously remember what caused this shift, the big dark event that I always think is safely ensconced in some hidden place in my heart where it won't resurface at inopportune times? How can I have this conversation with N and C and not fleetingly re-feel old feelings, yet again coming to terms with what's been the hardest, harshest form of social exclusion I've ever dealt with: my friends continued down that motherhood path without me?

I can't. As a living, thinking human being, I can't stay robotically and emotionally neutral as our society seems most comfortable with. It wasn't a break-into-tears-and-run-into-the-bathroom-while-everyone-shuffles-awkwardly-out-of-the-house kind of moment, but rather a private and subltle little swirl of emotion that swept over me like a cold chill, even as I nodded and laughed at N's penis-joke. Zachary, tapping me on the shoulder from his bungi-cord, reminding me. The feeling vanished quickly as I got distracted by more cookies and picture-taking opportunities, then came back later after everyone had left. And by morning time as I munched on my muesli cereal, it was gone. Pretty soon I was all holiday-smiles again, playfully bumping bellies with my friend G:

And the fine-ness has managed to stick around.

Isn't it weird, how unpredictable and actually long-term grief really is, how it's here one minute and gone the next? Making cookies, feeling in a funk all of a sudden, then POOF - funk is just gone into thin air. I think I'll ride this thin-air wave while I can, go eat some frosted cookie-squares and watch a few episodes of 30 Rock. :-)


Sharon said...

Grief is a funny thing, I'm not sure it ever fully leaves us. Just gets better at hiding as time passes.

everydayistheendoftheworld said...

I often think that that fleeting-ness is a sign of healing, that things that would have knocked you out all day now cause only a few moments private pain. Thank god really, because it's much easier this way!

myskytimes said...

Lovely post with very yummy looking cookies. Makes me wanna whip out my baking-recipes and start the cookie-madness.

Yeah, grief is a bitch. It'll come and hit us in the head when we least expect it. Hope you're enjoying the cookies and your new camera (that was my last years christmas treat to myself, so I can totally understand all about spending "a tad" more)... :)

Being Me said...

30 Rock: awesome for sweeping out the dark corners.

Tebow: was probably imagining himself rolling in that sugary goodness, you can see it on those chops.

That cavernous divide: I never EVER thought it would, but it does kind of close up a little as the years go on (the distance between me and my friends who were pg around same time as me, the first time, and continued on when I stopped in my tracks).

Again, you capture the essence of it all intriguingly. Even for me, a relative old-timer to it. Thank you for the reminder of where I have been. The deep wound of grief in this manner doesn't really ever heal even if the scar isn't so raw anymore.

Rach said...

I want to say something meaningful, deep, awe inspiring but I got nothing, sorry.

Enjoy your last Chrissie with just the two of you.


AnxiousMummyto3 said...

Hey Monica,
I really liked how you described your whole week and put your moment of grief tapping you on the shoulder into context. I agree with you that it isn't something you will ever be free of, but am glad that it was only a temporary funk, rather than a descent into the pit. If you know what I mean! I want to make those same cookies-if I can ever get organised! Also looks like your new camera takes some good quality shots!!! (((HUGS)))

Frustratedfairy said...

Another wonderfully written post.
Oh, and dammit those cookies look good...there goes my diet, thanks!

angie said...

That moment. Whew. As they become less frequent, they also must come as more of a surprise. As Petra says, grief is a bitch. xo.

ps, those cookies are GORGEOUS.

Me said...

I bring you some sugar cookies today. You can bring me a spice cookie if you want. I'll politely accept it and appreciate it for the love and skill that went into making it. =)

If you want to keep it for yourself, that's fine too.

Michelle said...

The cookies look yummy!

I think, unfortunately, grief will never fully leave. It is always there hiding in the shadows waiting for the moment to jump out and take your breath away. does not stay for too long. Just long enough, as you said, to remind you that you are not like everyone else. In some ways it is good because I don't think you take things for granted. You truly enjoy. What is it they say? "Without sadness, you can never truly know happiness".

I think you are looking Beautiful!

Brenna said...

Well hello gorgeous cookie-makin' mama! I've experienced much the same thing, grief-wise. I'll be chugging right along decking the halls to Dominic the Italian Christmas Donkey, then suddenly I'm crying while I hang a sentimental ornament on the tree, then I'm okay again in a few minutes. Probably everydayistheendoftheworld is right and the fleetingness of grief these days is a sign of healing. Your cookies are KILLING ME. This is so SO not the time of year to have freakin' gestational diabetes! I'll live vicariously through you--so snork some of those bad boys down in my honor. They look delish!

Karen said...

I picture grief like a stalker, waiting to ambush my joy sometimes. Glad you had the cookies and good friends (and then 30 Rock) around you.

KuKd Chick said...

Brenna - yes, cookes are nice eye-candy for poor GD gals like yourself.

All - yes, grief is like a stalker - I think Karen said it nicely. I mean honestly, how can it not follow you around to some extent. KuKd is some big, bad shit to go through! If it just disappeared, we'd almost human. So in a way it's kind of relieving and humanizing to know that moments like this one still occur. :-)

Lani said...

holy shit, those cookies are awesome!

i have those fleeting moments a bunch. and its those times when i'm with the people who went on to have their stupid baby while I continue to grieve and miss my little boy.
I can talk to my friends about their kids, but only for a bit and then i get that feeling and i have to walk away from it or change the channel.
but i'm not pregnant so i'm still in that left behind waving mode. i'm not even on the radar yet. which obviously makes all this harder.

30 rock & the office have saved me more then once.

and you look really cute with that belly! and really happy. xo

namastemom said...

I get that. It usually helps me to acknowledge my baby's presence/reminder. Lower my eyes so people do not see the mistiness, and then acknowledge her privately.