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Friday, January 30, 2009

Disturbing Behavior

Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

I know, that's just want you wanted to see when you innocently clicked over here: a toilet the size of Italy. The content of this post, "Disturbing Behavior," isn't as scintillating as its title would lead you to believe. No, it's not about some juicy, obsessive-compulsive habit that I've been watching my neighbor do through the window, or my own propensity to talk to myself at length while I'm driving to work. But it does have to do with toilets (or, one particular toilet, I should say).

Moreover, it has to do with my dog.

First, some background. Here's what Tebow likes to do: follow me into the bathroom, sit on the rug by my feet, and just stare up at me while I'm doing the act (he's only allowed in to witness number one, not number two). I suppose this should make me uncomfortable, but it really doesn't. Quite the opposite, it actually makes me feel good that my own act of peeing is interesting enough to generate an audience. (Kevin, on the other hand, feels that this is borderline inappropriate, and kicks Tebow out when he tries to nudge his way in through the doorway. Yes, it's probably bad manners, but Tebow fills such an enormous part of my heart that he can pretty much do anything he wants except poop in the house, and it won't bother me.)

I often wonder what thoughts might be going through Tebow's walnut-sized-brain-of-a-three-year-old:

"How does she make that sparkly, sprinkly, watery sound?"
"This rug feels warm and fuzzy on my bum."
"Mom kind of looks like the Thinking Man statue, sitting like that."
"Mommy, you're the best pee-er EVER!"
"I wonder if we get to go for a walk soon."
"Stop sitting around doing nothing. It's time for you to boil me a beef bone!"

Lately, after I flush, he's started getting all excited. I step back, and he stands up on his hind legs, front paws on the toilet seat, peering with apparent eagerness into the swirling, churning water (usually yellow-tinted, because I never drink those recommended eight classes of water a day), his tail wagging as the water rises and falls, my wad of toilet paper moving in lazy circles, finally making that glug-glug sound as it disappears into the dark, mysterious pit of Never-Never-Land-of-Human-Waste below. He watches for a moment longer, his tail ceasing to wag, and looks up at me and then back down at the now-still water, and then back up at me. Probably wondering what the heck just happened, and if it will happen again if he stares for long enough. But then I leave, and he follows me out and forgets about it - at least until the next time I pee.

I used to think this was amusing, until he did the unthinkable, the unprecedented, the - yes - I daresay, the disturbing:

Just as the swirling, yellow-tinted water reached its swirling peak of height, mere inches from his nose, he suddenly lowered his snout into the toilet and began to drink! Right there, right in front of me! DRINKING THE SWIRLING, PISS-TINGED TOILET WATER!

I gasped, instantly caught off guard, choking on air.

"TEBOW! NOOOOO!," I cried out, grabbing him by the collar and yanking him away, wondering what had gotten into him. He sat back down and looked up at me happily, not guiltily, his tail thumping the floor. Kind of like he'd just done something really awesome, and was proud that his owner had seen him do it. Totally unaware of how bizarre and gross it is to drink water from a used, unflushed (or currently flushing) toilet.

I spent the morning rambling to Kevin about it, psychoanalyzing it, feeling mildly disturbed by Tebow's disturbing behavior. What might have prompted him to stick his lapping tongue in that water this time? It's not like he's never been in that position before, his nose hovering just a short distance above the spinning water. Could the black hole at the bottom have evil hypnotic qualities, beckoning in the soothing voice of the witch with the poisonous apple in Snow White: drink, my dear. Drink from the magical golden water. It won't hurt youuuuuuu.....

I was trying to think of what this might equate to if Tebow were a child, say, if he were Zachary.

Eating his own boogers? Yes, that would probably make me say "ew" and "knock it off."

Picking up a half-eaten slice of pizza on the sidewalk in Manhattan and cramming it into his mouth?

Trying to eat his own corduroy pants from the Good Will, which - yes - I would certainly torture my son into wearing?

Then of course, I began wondering if perhaps I'm overreacting, being that germ-a-phobic, manners-obsessed mother that I people make fun of. Maybe a little pee-tinged water doesn't matter; perhaps it provides some naturopathic benefits to dogs, like some sort of healthy electrolytes that enhance the shininess of the fur.

And maybe, the temptation to drink from a churning bowl of pee-scented water isn't so outrageous after all. Maybe it's a normal canine urge, or perhaps even a human urge. Maybe there are people who do it, or have done it, and can attest that it really isn't all that bad.

All of this is good, I guess, for it gives me something to Google for the next few weeks. Until I get to the bottom of it, though, Tebow can still keep me company while I pee (honestly, I enjoy the company), but the lid is coming down with a "thud" when I'm done. No more tempting calls from the black toilet hole!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Full Circle

Greetings, Inquisitive Guests and KuKd/TTC Mommas!

Can you guess what that's a picture of? Contrary to what you might think, it isn't a silhouette of a gynecologist peering up at Mother Virgin Mary's cervix. Nor is it a gigantic alien-transporting space-bubble. It's actually a random photo of a rare "full circle rainbow" in Malaysia, which caught my attention because it connects to today's posting topic.

This is a story of coming full circle. But you won't understand the full-circle-ness of it until you get to the end of this post. So settle in with a hot toddy, which I think is a somewhat nasty (but relaxing) booze-based beverage that elderly women sip next to fireplaces, enjoy the build-up.

* * *

Last night, I did a reading for a literary performance troupe called "Motherhood from Egg to Zine, And Everything In Between," with me falling into that mysterious "in between" category (I guess). Supposedly, I was one of the "founding organizers" of this wickedly whimsical display of dancing and creative writing mommas and in-between mommas, but that's a big, bold lie.

It really started with a very nice person named Corbin contacting me last autumn, casually suggesting that we "read some writing out loud together at some bookstores." I told her sure, why the heck not. Next thing I knew, there were a bunch of other fine lassies involved, a website and logo created, a press release listing me as one of the "founders," even though I'd had very little part in it.

(You're not at the full-circle part yet. Patience, my dear.)

Holy crapoly, I thought to myself. Caught in a tangled web of illusion! Not only was I a bit nervous about adding one more organizational responsibility to my growing list of creative projects, but I thought I might get anxious, being trapped in a room with limited exit routes with lots of real mommies with real kids*, reading about their motherhood trials and tribulations, pretending that I was one of them. Me? Non-kid*-having, booze-drinking, coffee chugging me? In a group that starts with "Motherhood?" Pretending to have helped organize it?

Still, curiosity and creative ambition got the better of me, and I couldn't help but go along for the ride, showing up at the showtime and location presented to me and taking credit where credit wasn't due. I can only hope that jesus will forgive me.

In the end, I enjoyed the experience to a surprising degree, standing up on a small stage with bright, hot lights in my face before a small-but-respectable crowd, and reading a few written pieces with as much humor and spunk as I could muster, given the grim subject of dead babies. I wore what I felt to be a somewhat literary outfit: a long, body-hugging silver sweater (which - if I keep my stomach sucked in ever-so-slightly - almost hides my beer gut) and a fuzzy blue scarf for color accent. One piece was about my personal crusade to save the dying goldfish in our backyard after my first miscarriage, and the other was about my imaginings of Zachary as a teenage boy, among other things. I didn't feel as out-of-place as I'd feared, nor did I break down and begin weeping like a crumpled, wailing madwoman in the midst of describing L'Event de Shit Ultimate.

(Okay, you're getting closer to the full-circle part.)

A very, very, very prego and teary-eyed gal found me in the back corner after the show, and put one hand on my arm and the other on her rotund belly. She had long blond hair pulled back off her face, and she looked about my age, if not younger.

"God, what happened to you is so sad and scary," she said, rubbing her tummy, her eyes wide. "I really hope it doesn't happen to me. What if it happens to me? Do you think it will? I can't imagine..."

This was a really weird and unprecedented position for me to be in. The poor girl had no idea who she was talking to, a subperfect human still struggling to keep my own shit together inside, failing at Grieving 101 with flying colors, hardly one to give advice or reassuring words. My, how I had fooled her with my on-stage confidence! I'm a teacher, I reminded myself. On stage every day.

I could have said something really sadistic like, "Yup, it just might happen to you, sweetheart. So start imagining it." or "You're never safe! Stillbirth can creep up on even the most innocent wide-eyed people like you! Beware!"

But I didn't, feeling oddly...shall we say...touched by her innocent concern, her approaching me not to comfort me, but to seek comfort of her own.

And there is where I realized that I had - you guessed it:


That is to say: I had before me an opportunity to take this brutal experience of my own, and - rather than continue to use it as a gigantic vacuum sucking up others' pity and resources and sorrowful thoughts (as is SOOOO easy to do) - use it to give back to the world instead. I mean, turn it around into something potentially helpful instead of hurtful, giving instead of taking, outer instead of inner. Integrate myself into this great fabric of humanity a tad bit more by making this frightened person, her belly nearly touching mine, perhaps less frightened.

"Don't worry," I heard myself say, feeling myself smiling, reaching out to touch her arm. My movements and words felt lightweight and mindless, as though I was a puppet, controlled by strings above. "It won't happen to you. The odds of stillbirth are one in two-hundred. I think you'll be one of the hundred-and-ninety-nine lucky ones, don't you?"

Her face visibly relaxed. "One in two hundred?"



That was it. Just a simple conversation, nothing over the top. And yet, I found myself thinking about it for the rest of the night, and again this morning. How oddly satisfying it was to say those things to her, and see her smile as a result! Yes, call me the seasoned wise one, the tribe elder who's been around the block, stillbirth statistics etched in my brain, ready to be shared with naive youngsters. What a strange, new, wondrous sensation!

Okay, I wouldn't really liken myself to a tribe elder. Forget I said that. Let's just say that I felt something get centered in me, a certain calmness settle in, a peacefulness with my KuKdX2 status, at least temporarily (and hopefully more than temporarily).

*When I say "kid" in the context of myself being a "non-kid-having person" or other women having "real kids," I'm talking about living, breathing children. The kind that poop frequently, occasionally scream for no reason, and have snot barbells coming out of their nostrils. I just know someone's going to come at me with, "but you DO have a kid! A STILLborn kid!" Yeah yeah yeah dude, I get that.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Where Have All the Hot Guys Gone...

Greetings, Inquisitive Guests and Various Shades of Momma!

Can we talk about fluff for a minute? The last two posts have been so...well...dramatic. It's time for something light to bolster the mood. Of course, I wouldn't exactly say the subject of HOT GUYS is "light." This is serious stuff, not "fluff" at all. So forget what I just said.

Normally, looking at "Cosmopolitan's Hottest Guys of Whatever Year" would be pure delight. And yet, I was dismayed to scroll through the TOP THIRTY in the official 2008 list this morning, only to find that NOT ONE DUDE'S FACE caught my eye. Seriously! Is there something wrong with me, or are guys just not that hot anymore? This never happens.

Let's begin with Robert Pattinson, a person I've never heard of before, listed in the number one hotness slot:

Really? To me, he looks like some kind of washed-out Duran Duran backup singer with too much hair product. The look on his face is one of either "bend over and let me spank you" or "I'm so hot, I'm going to wave my Duran-Duran drum stick and cast my spell of hotness over you."

Moving on.

Chace Crawford? Who IS this person, and why am I stuck looking at someone who really belongs on a glossy poster taped inside of a smitten schoolgirl's locker? Okay. He's not as scary as Robert Pattinson, but his face has a botoxy-surgical look to it, and his name is a bit too soap-opera-ish for my tastes.

Ding! Next.

I swear. If I see one more photo of Zac's boyish mug, I think I might hurl. Zac Efron: at least I've heard of the guy, I'll give him that. But by now, his purported hotness has become so cliche that - out of spite - I simply cannot bring myself to agree. It's the same reason why for the longest time I never saw Titanic: everyone and their grandma, shrink, and dog just loved it.

By the way, as an aside, if you imagine Zac Efron wearing a beehive blond hair-doo wig, doesn't he kind of look like a psychotic beauty salon customer? "Frost my hair right now, honey, or I'll shoot."

Ding! The search for True Hotness continues.

Newsflash: just because you're a Bond man, doesn't mean you're automatically hot. Honestly, is this guy hot? I've never quite thought so. He actually kind of looks to be "in character" in this picture, what with that sharp, sleek, spy-like look, as though he never slipped out of Bond mode. His pectorals are noteworthy, I'll concede to that, and I'd take him over that 8-year-old Zac Efron.

Moving down the line...

EVERYone knows who this guy is, right? It's the amazing, the spectacular, ED WESTWICK! Is it me, or does he kind of resemble a ferret or an alley cat, caught in a drain pipe with a flashlight in its eyes?

Let's get out of here and let him slink away into the darkness. Next on Cosmo's list is some purse-lipped man named Penn Badgley.

His supposed claim to fame? "Not even Gossip Girl costar and recent Cosmo cover girl Blake Lively could resist this man in (school) uniform."

God, I can't believe I didn't know that.

Again, I'm sorry, but he is simply not what I would consider a hot man. Even if he were in school uniform, I'm pretty sure I would resist him. I would put a wad of gum under his desk and stick out my tongue in his direction.

And finally:

Ah yes, of course: the infamous Jonas Brothers, whoever they are. Cosmo quotes: "This year, we couldn't have stopped talking about the Jonas Brothers if we tried." Why not? I don't understand. Did they cast their "spell of hotness" over you, Cosmo, like the first guy did? What's so incredibly great about them? I will concede that the kid on the far left - the one in the gray suit and gray tie - might be a looker when he gets older. But the middle one needs some help with his hair, and the one on the right has shoes that look like they're made of smashed Oreo cookies. What's more, they all look like high school seniors at a rich prep school, trying to act grown-up. Personally, I don't think that's very hot.

* * * * *
Maybe in my cranky, crotchety old state of marriedness, I've lost my taste for male hotness. Perhaps I'm morphing into a lesbian. Can that happen? Because it isn't hard to identify hot women.

But that's another post.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Zachary Said

...and I quote:

"Mom, get over yourself and your bad-ittude. That other blogger wasn't even TALKing about you. She's a perfectly decent human being, another babylost momma with an injured heart, and here you are slinging all this dirt in her direction just because you have issues with organized religion, and worry that people don't approve of your grieving methods."

Me: "Honey, if mommy wants advice from baby heaven, she'll ask. Really, since when do our deceased children issue advice? This isn't a Stephen King novel. Where'd you pick up all that vocabulary, by the way?"

Zachary:"From watching C-Span. Mom?"

Me: "Yes?"

Zachary: "I mean it. You should say you're sorry. Dead baby mommas shouldn't be girl-fighting."

Me: Gulp. Peer at computer screen. Feel kind of like a shithead. Knowing my son is right. "Okay. I'm sorry."

* * *

He's right. I'm sorry. Children know things.

* * *

If he were here, I could be talking to him in a conventional manner. God, he would have been such a smart and beautiful boy. This is wholly, maddeningly, cruelly unsatisfying.

* * *

Feeling sad and sorry and just generally kind of heartburny, I washed down Tums with a cup of coffee and tinkered around with my blog design. Goodbye fluttery foliage-filled green, hello simple boyish blue. It was time. Every week or month, I'll rotate in a different picture at the top, and put the explanation of the new photograph at the top right-hand column of this blog. Go on up there and read about it if you're wondering who the hot dude with the surfboard is. Yes, it is a hot dude with a surfboard, someone I know quite well. No - it isn't a religious photo from a greeting card that says "May God bless you with long lasting teeth on your 85th birthday" in cursive font on the inside, even though it kinda looks like that.

* * *

Don't worry - despite the skitzo-autistic nature of this post, I'm fine. I just got kind of disturbed by the onslaught of supportive words I had purposely and knowingly elicited in my last post, as they started to feel like a ganging-up type of situation with me the Queen Bitch at the center. I don't want to ever be that person in my life, and my two kids if present wouldn't want me to be that person either. So I hereby step down.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Puppies and Jesus: A Rant

Greetings KuKd Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

A bunch of semi-bad-mood things piled up at once. You get to take the brunt of it here. I'm sorry.

The Obnoxious Red-Clad Aunt is on her way, I can sense her coming. Which sparked in me the the sudden urge to breed. Which prompted me to search for puppies online, since good old-fashioned breeding isn't quite working. Yes, another puppy to a add to our roost, and only apricot-colored westie-poodle mixes, which - in my completely biased mind - are the most beautiful and intelligent mixes on earth. Look how cute our Tebow is, and you'll see what I mean:


Of course, blah-blah-doodles are not to be found at the animal shelters, which means the only ones available are from sketchy-ass websites with Canadian post office boxes, shipped next day air for half-a-thousand dollars. Which - if I were to follow through on this - would make me a bad person who patronizes puppy mills, encouraging this purportedly despicable practice out of pure and greedy self-interest. So, I ex'ed out of all those websites before K caught me looking at them, and began catching up on my blog reading instead.

Which takes me to Part 2 of this post, surely the juicier part.

Now, let me preface this by saying: anyone who loses a baby to stillbirth deserves some serious sympathy, if not empathy. I respect and honor women who have lost a baby, and I respect and honor the babies they have lost.

Also, I believe that people can say whatever they want to on their blogs. If people don't like what you say, they shouldn't read your blog. If people go around hunting for controversial quotes on blogs, just to have something to argue about, well - it's their own waste of time.

Still, something on a blog-that-shall-not-be-named - authored by a woman who has had a stillborn child - caught my eye and started to bother me. Like an annoying gnat or a hangnail, it sat there in my brain, festering, until finally - now - I find myself utterly compelled to respond. Or perhaps to defend. Whatever.

Here is what it said:

I've been reading a lot of other blogs lately, mainly blogs about pregnancy loss and stillbirth. I've noticed a push for "sassy" blogs and blogs that bash religious affiliations, faith in God, and pro-life belief systems. I realize I'm opening myself up to criticism here. While I find myself in a fragile state these days, I'm still compelled to make a statement about such blogs: I can't relate.

I don't understand how women can want a child so badly, yet see no connection to God or the sanctity of life. We live in a society that does not value life. What I've learned is that many people reproduce simply to achieve their own goals. Selfish goals...

There was a bit more, but that was the heart of it. Of course, when I read it, I thought with great ego: by george, she must be talking about ME!! After all, in my twisted fantasy world, lots and lots of bored people sit around and talk about me all the time. How could she NOT be talking about me? I do, I would say, "sassily" bash "religious affilations, faith in God, and pro-life belief systems." Or I have at least once(much less than I do in real life, if that makes it better).

There are so many tangled ways in which I profoundly disagree this person's statements that I can hardly sort them out here. I suppose a good starting place is the suggestion that believing in God automatically equals valuing human life, and that lack thereof equals lack thereof. This is such a departure from rational thinking that all I can say in response is:

I hardly have to point out the most obvious case in point: a certain president of a certain country, anti-abortion and "good" Christian, yet quick to start lots of wars. Meaning lots and lots and lots and lots of deaths. Decidedly NOT valuing the sanctity human life, if you reduce this behavior to simplest terms. Unless, of course, you consider Iraqis and American soldiers as sub-humans. Dude, even I - as a non-follower-of-god-and-therefore-human-life-hater - can see the fucked-upness of that.

But let's not discuss politics or war or religion in a broad sense, for it isn't this blogger's political or religious views themselves that bother me. I do - believe it or not - have one or two religiously conservative friends. I'm totally fine with people being religious, and expressing those believes. I'm also fine with people not having abortions. More power to'em.

It is the author's self-proclaimed inability to understand "how women can want a child so badly, yet see no connection to God or the sanctity of life" that gets to me.

If I were to go out for coffee with this woman, here is what I would try to articulate in a calm manner. I would anchor all of my main points with the word "please" to make for a more sane and professional dialogue.

PLEASE DON'T: suggest a causal relationship between "sanctity of life" and "belief in god." Love doesn't always look the way you expect it to look. It comes in many forms, and that's one thing I've learned as a KuKd Momma. Do not suggest that I and my own parents and my many non-religious friends with kids (translate: ALL of them) do not value our/their children. Do not suggest or assume that I am not saddened and traumatized by my losses simply because I am a pro-choice voter and jesus-lover-basher, and because my public grief doesn't resemble yours.

To make such sweeping and unresearched (not to mention highly implausible) generalization makes me very afraid for the world. It is such flawed stereotyping and downright ignorance that leads to death and violence and hatred everywhere - suicide bombing, racial-related violence, you name it. People think: everyone who does X definitely also does Y. So let's bomb the shit out of them.

* * * * *

PLEASE DO: consider the purpose and audience of blogging in general, and of individual people's blogs. Don't presume that a blog reveals every aspect of the author's life and personality, or that a KuKd blogger will fill you in on every aspect of his or her personal grieving (unless, of course, you make what are essentially personal attacks on atheistic dead baby mommas, which you seem to be doing). Blogs are entirely one-sided and done for selfish reasons, usually just to hear ourselves blather about whatever. My blog is no exception. To vomit out and defend my emotions, to make sure that everyone knows I'm sufficiently sad, is neither the purpose of this blog, nor the business of the general public.

There is this thing called a "private life," which - fortunately - I've found that one is able to maintain despite entering the blogosphere. That means I get to do the teary-eyed stuff in the comfort of my own bedroom or car, and use my blog for the very cathartic and healing purpose of cracking myself up. And yes: that means sometimes making occasional fun of jesus-lovers, which - sorry- but a lot of them are pretty much asking for.

* * * * *

PLEASE DON'T: impose your sense of how people "should grieve" on other people, or think that losing a baby automatically turns you into a weepy, wailing jesus-lover. Why should it? Why would it? You come into a pregnancy with your own system of values, your own personality, and all of that colors the way that you deal with trauma. As a Murphy from a beer-drinking, belly-laughing Irish family, that is - of course - the same attitude I employ when dealing with getting knocked down. So stop worrying yourself over how I'm grieving. Trust me: I'm doing it in my own way. Go pour yourself some whiskey on the rocks and relax, my dear. Everything will be okay - it's the luck 'o the Irish.

* * * * *

PLEASE DO: realize that it probably isn't a good idea to bash stillbirth-and-miscarriage mommies, particularly about our grieving methods and loving methods and religious beliefs. We're a sensitive bunch; losing a baby is like constantly being on the rag. Hence the fact that I'm using up a perfectly good morning to crank out this post, for no reason other than to scrape some pissy feelings out of my system.

* * * * *

AS AN ASIDE: I wouldn't say this part at our coffee date unless we really got into shop-talk. But I'll add it here.

A bit of linguistic history about the term "pro-life:" it is a made-up word that's loaded with propaganda, and I wish that fewer people fell for this word and absorbed it into their repertoire of everyday vocabulary. Sometimes people make up words in order to change others' internal beliefs - this is a historic and linguistic fact. "Pro-life" has served that purpose brilliantly, coined by anti-abortion rights activists after the Supreme Court's 1973 decision to protect abortion rights for the purpose of portraying pro-choice people as anti-life. Which is a ridiculous-beyond-all-ridiculousness presumption. Who ISN'T pro-life, other than, say, serial killers and warmongers (not naming any names here)? I won't go deeper into this here, because - speaking of "purposes of blogs" - political ranting isn't the purpose of this one.

* * * * *

THAT'S ALL, I think. I don't know why; I really felt I needed to defend so many people and so many things, including the many women out there who dare to find humor - crass or otherwise - in the face of god-awful loss. Thanks for listening - I feel better already. Whew - I needed that.

Now it's a glorious kid-free day: a greasy diner breakfast, followed by a hike up Mount Si with friend from out of town, husband, and Tebow. Then probably home to do more covert Google-searching for puppies. Yes, I will continue to call them Cheap Baby Substitutes.

Isn't that "sassy?"

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Exhale Issue #2 is Out!

Greetings KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

I will do a real post again soon, when I'm moderately awake. For now, let me just say that Exhale Issue #2 is here, so check it out if you are up for a good, juicy read.

Also, be sure to read about the:

It's neato-torpedo!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

12 Varieties of Tylenol = Stress!

"The desire to have it all, and the illusion that we can, is one of the principal sources of torture of modern affluent free and autonomous thinkers." (Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less (2003))

Greetings, Free and Autonomous Thinkers, KuKd and Otherwise!

Okay. I'm not normally so into deep quotes, I swear. There was a point when I felt I might throw up if I heard one more profound thought from Toni Morrison. But the one above caught my eye as I was frantically attempting to dig up some "food for thought" for my writing class to chew on, three minutes before start time.

Why do I love this quote? Because it's just plain true. Seriously, read it several times. Isn't it true? Barry Schwartz is a genius for putting out there what I think I've known deep down, but haven't been able to articulate. I know it from the mild, anxiety-induced tummy ache and dry mouth I get when I'm racing around the grocery story, trying to shop for munchies for a party that starts in an hour. Schwartz says:

"Scanning the shelves of my local supermarket recently, I found 85 different varieties and brands of crackers. As I read the packages, I discovered that some brands had sodium, others didn't. Some were fat-free, others weren't. They came in big boxes and small ones. They came in normal size and bite size. There were mundane saltines and exotic and expensive imports...A typical supermarket carries more than 30,000 items. That's a lot to choose from. And more than 20,000 new products hit the shelves every year, almost all of them doomed to failure.

Comparison shopping to get the best price adds still another dimension to the array of choices, so that if you were a truly careful shopper, you could spend the better part of a day just to select a box of crackers, as you worried about price, flavor, freshness, fat, sodium, and calories. But who has the time to do this? Who but a professor doing research would even stop to consider that there are almost 300 different cookie options to choose among?

Supermarkets are unusual as repositories for what are called "nondurable goods," goods that are quickly used and replenished. So buying the wrong brand of cookies doesn't have significant emotional or financial consequences. But in most other settings, people are out to buy things that cost more money, and that are meant to last. And here, as the number of options increases, the psychological stakes rise accordingly."

Yes. It's that last part that I love: "the psychological stakes rise accordingly."

The more I read and hear and see, the more apparent it becomes to me how embedded into TTC/KuKd culture this "desire to have it all, and illusion that we can" philosophy has become. Think about the dizzying array of potential options available to women who want children. To the tired TTCer out there, one can easily apply Schwartz's grocery shopping metaphor: those who have the cash, time, and energy to devote find themselves faced with shelves of products, from IVF varieties, to different versions of injections, to surrogacy, to adoption, and more. One goes back and forth, deliberating, stressing, pondering, pissed at having to be forced into this these dark and crowded shopping aisles in the first place ("it would be so much easier if I had a NORMAL repro system - like ordering online!"), uncertain if any of the products available will produce results.

Same with KuKd, and I'm talking - more specifically - about those of us who have experienced MULTIPLE losses. Because one loss doesn't equal a pattern - just bad luck. Once you get into the KuKdX2 and X2 and X4 arena (yes, there ARE X3 and X4 and XMORE-ers out there, which never ceases to amaze me), it starts to look less like luck and more like a pattern, which means - of course - there MUST BE A WAY TO BREAK IT! Break the pattern, I mean.

Which lead back to Schwartz's concept of "psychological stakes." Needless to say, choosing behaviors, services, and products that might prevent miscarriage or stillbirth is a high-stakes game, higher than - say - deciding which version of Cream of Wheat to pull off the shelf. In my case, there is gender selection - yes, the more money I cough up, the more I can increase my odds for girl-baby with a genetically favored heart muscle. Got $20,000 floating around for a 99% guarantee? SURE! That's why I became a teacher, afterall: to roll in the big bucks!

Of course, there are smaller-scale ways in which I could alter my behavior to enhance my odds of "getting what I want." I could stop drinking coffee, and up my steak consumption. I could stand on my head after intercourse, and pray at the same time. And if I ever DO get pregnant, I can avoid any surface that might have a germ on it. That could, maybe, possibly, prevent me from entering the dreaded KuKdx3 category.

Or, I could stop torturing myself, let go of this illusion that just a click on the computer screen, a pen to the checkbook, a tablet of fish oil, will enable me to have it all. Options, options, options. To add to Schwartz' excerpt above, and probably duplicate what he says later in his book, the very fact that so many millions of options are availabe to us makes for a rather stressful situation, limiting our ability - I think - to accept what is actually true: we cannot have it all.

Some day, maybe I'll figure this out for real, take this surface observation and actually intertwine it into my everyday mode of thinking and operating. If I ever get knocked up again, I pray to the trees and sky that I am able to keep Schwartz's concept in mind, and that I remember what I'm telling myself today: Monica, relax, free and autonomous thinker. Be pleased with the life that you have, for you have a wonderful life.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I Resolve To...

Hello, Mommas and Guests!

Happy 2009! I realized I haven't done an official "New Year Post." New Years is actually my absolute least favorite holiday. For me, it's always been under-whelming. Lots and lots of build-up, with huge expectations for the greatest party EVer, and then it never turns out to be the greatest party ever. This New Years, I have to say, was the most fun I've had at any New Years celebration in years. Nothing fancy - just a simple house party with good friends and family, whiskey shots, a pot of chili, and lots of beer.

New Year's resolutions are, in my mind, just as bogus as New Year's itself. Why do we need something like a change in year in order to alter our behaviors for the better? And what are the odds of actually keeping those so-called promises that we make?

Still, I make them from time to time, just for kicks. This time, I'm serious.

I resolve to:

1) Make more of a concerted effort to help keep the house clean. Kevin usually does most of the dirty work, while I'll pitch in with washing a dish or two. Yesterday, I started making good on my resolution by cleaning up Tebow's vomit on the living room, and not even asking for recognition.

2) Stop spending so much time on the computer. I know it's hard when I'm working on a book, blog, and literary magazine - but still. I think I can do it if I set some boundaries. Like, wrapping this post up in five minutes and making myself a latte instead.

3) Try to get K as addicted to coffee as I am, so that I don't feel like such a bad and weak person. I'm the one that got him into morning coffee, a fact of which I am rightfully proud. Next is to make him a hardcore afternoon drinker like me - a REAL bean head. What would you call that, dragging someone down to your level of addiction? It's kind of like ANGST-I-GATING but not quite. Maybe, addict-stigating?

4) Come to terms, somehow, with the fact that I might not ever have a baby, and be okay with that. I think I could come to terms with it. I'm just not sure my mother could. I'll keep working on her, though. Getting a dog has helped; she certainly spoils her "favorite granddog" (her only granddog, actually) - hence the fact that our vet just told us Tebow is two pounds overweight. Which is a lot for a small dog. Gak! My kid is the fat kid!

5) Get my "pelvic witch" checked out, which I'm doing in a month or so. You know, the mysterious entity clamping down on my uterus with a metal vice, even as I sit here and write. Soon, very soon, a tiny camera-thingy will go into my belly button and down there in the dark depths of my womanhood to search for the witch herself. And nothing is found, then I'm hallucinating, which will really make me depressed.

6) Make it a point to swab my face with witch hazel for clear skin every day, not just some days.

7) Stop being the obnoxious, overprotective, overemotional, over-personifying puppy mother. Really, I know I'm over-the-top. I know I think my dog is the best, and I hear myself groveling for compliments about him. reminder to self: HE'S A DOG.

8) And finally: make it a point to facilitate more father-daughter activities with my dad. He's not the type to switch into social-organizing mode often, so it's got to be me that does it. I'm going to try to do it more often.

There are more, but I won't bore you with the rest.

And off we go, into 2009!

Sexy You

Only when you're ready: some starting points for coming back in touch with your own hot bod.

This Is Who I Am
A very bad-ass book that will inspire you to re-love your reproductively wacked and/or knocked-down body. Compelling photographs and essays on women, body image, and compassion - with an accompanying blog by author/photographer Rosanne Olson.

Butterflied Portraits: Paintings for Jona
Get painted, gorgeous! Artist and fellow KuKd strong momma Samantha Bennett does brilliant portraits representing families and women affected by infant loss or miscarriage. Contact Samantha via her website if you're interested in being a part of her Butterflied Portrait series. She does paintings like these because he's talented and goodhearted - that's all.

Victoria's Secret
I know: you may have forgotten what it's like to have totally spontaneous, un-timed, genuinely enthusiastic sex for the sake But that doesn't mean you can't indulge in a pair of black, frivolously lacey panties. You can, and you should.

Running Wild Spirit
A knocked-down body has been through a lot, and therefore deserves a fine lather. Here's where to get handmade bath and body goodies, all of it 100% natural and made of things like wheat germ and olive oil and tree sap. OK, maybe not tree sap, but you get the picture.

Priceline Hotel Deals
When you're ready to connect with the pre-KuKd/IF-you, here's a start: go to Priceline right now and put in a low bid for a night at a 3- or 4-star fancy hotel downtown. Then pack your lacy black panties, grab that man (or woman) of yours, check into your fancy digs and share a bottle of wine in bed, hit a decadent restaurant for dinner, head back to your hotel, Scrabble. Or do something else. ;-)

Massage Envy
Yes, it's a chain store, usually located inside a dreary mall. Yes, it's only in Les Etats-Unis (so Ameri-centric!). But a massage is sometimes what's needed to make you feel whole, melty, and human.

Cosmo's Hot Guys Without Their Shirts
What?? IF and/or knocked-downage turn every woman into a prudish piece of plywood? No way, dude. We KuKd/IF mommas need our eye candy just like everybody else, and leave it to Cosmo to provide that.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

Some of you may recall me mentioning N, one of my best prego buddies. I had two, really, and she was one of them. We were all due the same week in October. From the second I met N, I knew we were going to be not just friends, but really really really good friends. Here's why:

1) She had a loud and low voice. Most of my friends have loud, low voices like me. Teacher voices, bitchy voices, theatre-major voices.

2) She liked beer, steak, and bacon - which automatically raise a person's level of blue-collar coolness.

3) She laughed at what I said, which made me feel funnier than I really am.

4) We would go out together with other people, and then she would call me on the phone an hour later to "debrief." That's it. Not to say anything absolutely necessary, not to convey important information. Just to hash over what had just happened, what it all meant, what was UP with that chick's outfit, did I pick up on the rude undertones of so-and-so's comment, etc.

5) She was kind of paranoid about her pregnancy, which made me feel okay being paranoid. We were paranoid together.

6) She was pretty, but in a make-up-free, earthy way. Much prettier than me. It's rare to meet a pretty person who isn't obnoxiously full of their own prettiness.

7) Out of desperation, she had pooped behind a tree in an upscale neigborhood. Yet another thing to add to her likability factor.

8) And finally, of course, the number one reason: our kids were going to be born on about the same day. A notion loaded potential, with dreams of the future, with will-be's and can't-wait-to-be's.

Can't you see why I would become instant friends with N?

Now, of course, those will-be's and can't-wait-to-be's have turned into could-have-been's. There's a chasm that formed between us, and it is still the one thing - nearly a year-and-a-half after losing the baby, that frustrates and baffles and saddens me to no end. I don't know when it started happening, when I began realizing the cruel inevitible: that I would have to distance myself from N, that I wasn't as thick-skinned as I'd thought, and that distancing myself from her would give her a cue to step back. Which I did, and which she did.

And she's knocked up again now, which makes for an even wider chasm.

I want to reign it in, reenact the friendship we once had, reconstruct the reality that once was my bubble world, but how? I want to be there for her, but if I can't stir up conversations and questions about the ONE THING dominating her life right now - new parenthood and another baby on the way - how is a real close friendship even possible? How do you maintain a close friendship with someone when neither of you can relate (at ALL) to each others' life-altering predicaments, and when the main commonality that brought you together is such a source of pain?

Oh, we both still try, grasping fleetingly for friendship. A Christmas card here, a package sent there, an invitation to a dance party, a "what's up" e-mail. We try, and we always belly laugh and skillfully dodge any kind of touchy subject matter, like some kind of conversational snake-dance. It makes me wistful in the end, reminding me still of the could-have-beens, kind of like hanging out with an ex-boyfriend.

I'm waiting for the day when I can open my heart back up to how it used to be, and let her and her beautiful son inside. I hope that day comes soon.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Nun Bowling, Strong Drinks, and Other Kidfree Joys

Greetings KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

Christmas for me wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Just lots of family time in Phoenix, walking around outside in the sun with arms and legs exposed, in hopes of sucking up some much-needed, Vitamin-D-pushing, cancer-preventing rays of sun. What was out of the ordinary - (or I should say, IS ordinary) - is that I was in a state of kidlessness.

Which makes this the perfect time to boast:

look what i did without a kid!

Chicklet, Pamela, and Michelle, and Shaz: as a non-tagging type, I tag you to do the same.

Let me start with one of the holiday highlights, certainly not something I could have done with a screaming toddler running around picking up random objects off the floor and eating them:


The rules were simple: two people played five frames, the loser of each frame having to drink a specified number of LARGE mouthfuls of beer. And not just any old beer, but 7.5% alcohol beer from a "Winter Brew Selection" that someone got us for Christmas (those Europeans know how to make beer, let me tell you!). I won't go into the mathematical formula for determining how many swigs of beer the loser had to chug - it's complicated and involves way too much algebra for my pre-coffee morning brain. But suffice it to say it was enough for me to get over-excited when I beat K's brother B, and over-disappointed when I subsequently lost to both of them.

Tebow the Baby Substitute got into the holiday spirit too:

And of course, there was further, very unmotherly booze consumption under the twinkly lights:

And, rewinding back to before we left for Arizona, the All-Girls Wine & Cookie Festival. If you've never done it, you totally should. There's nothing like the conversation that emerges when you get a group of estrogen factories together with lots of wine, sugar cookies and frosting. If you look closely enough, you'll find the one I made for ma' man.

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