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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Something Ridiculous

I did something kind of ridiculous several months ago, and have been meaning to share. It's really not a big deal - rather trivial, actually - just kinda funny. The challenge is going to be explaining clearly. In fact, the mere thought of attempting to explain it was giving me so much anxiety that I kept putting it off, but I think I'm ready now. I've sufficiently done breathing exercises and prepared my brain. Are you paying attention? Here we go:

To start, look over to the right-hand side of this blog. You may have to scroll down a wee bit. See that square-shaped smattering of small thumbnail pictures labeled "Followers?" Well, supposedly those thumbnail pictures represent people who come in to read this blog from time to time (not cult worshipers, which is sort of what the word "Followers" might lead one to believe).

Not knowing anything about the term "follower" (other than it sounds like a scary term, worth actively avoiding), I never paid attention to the "follower" feature on my own blog. Hell, I was happy if even ONE person took a look at my blog. I still am that way. Just ONE! And those of you who are bloggers yourselves know, you have a choice of displaying those little thumbnail pictures of your purported "followers," or not.

Are you still with me? Good. Keep reading:

So one day, while I was tinkering with the format of my blog design behind the scenes (I'm talking about going behind the curtain, so to speak, into the deep dark bowels of the blog-o-sphere where only the bloggers themselves lurk, manipulating colors and fonts and props and gadgets so as to enhance the experiences of readers like you), I came across a square-shaped smattering of thumbnail pictures JUST LIKE THE ONE YOU SEE ON THE RIGHT-HAND SIDE OF THIS BLOG. Above it was a label that said something like: "Click here to show your followers on your blog."

I stared in pride and amazement at these pictures of these supposed followers of my blog, which I had never bothered to look at before: mostly fresh-skinned fraternity-looking boys with white teeth and tousled hair, with a few generically ethnic and African-American guys mixed in. Hardly any women - just one or two.

WOW! I thought to myself. Look at ALL THOSE MALE FOLLOWERS I HAVE! Not just male followers, but reasonably good-looking ones at that! Who knew! Here I was thinking all of my readers must be boring ol' white girls like me, but lo' and behold, I'm actually attracting lots and lots of GUYS! And look at the racial diversity of my readers - black to white to everything in between - all reading about dead babies with more than a passing interest. I'm famous!

So I clicked whatever button meant: "Heck yeah, I want to add this! Are you kidding? I want all of my viewers to know just how many cute guys are sitting around reading about stillbirth and miscarriage. Not just reading it, but FOLLOWING it."

And low and behold, BOOM - my list of followers and accompanying representative pictures DID appear on my blog.

Except, the ones that appeared weren't the same faces that I had just seen a few seconds ago. No, no. These faces were more like the people I expect to be reading my blog: women, mostly. A bit of ethnic and racial diversity here and there, but not enough to feel proud about.

Confused, I thought wait, these aren't my followers! What happened to all those cute boys! I went back "behind the scenes" into the blog editing mode, and realized what had happened: those pictures of all the cute boys weren't my REAL followers. They were just fake SAMPLE followers.

I kind of felt like a retard for thinking they were my REAL followers.

Now, this isn't to say that I'm not happy with my real followers. I love my real followers. Anyone who reads this blog is automatically a nice person, in my book. It's just that...well...my audience isn't the total young frat-boy sausage fest that I thought, for a brief instant, that it was.

Did you get the story? Dang, that was hard to explain. Glad I got it off my chest.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Rainy Thoughts

Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

Rain is coming down in big, gray droplets, and my throat is a tiny bit sore. I'm still in my fluorescent-lit office at 5:10pm, which, as those of you in academia know, is WAY too late to be at work. I ought to be home now, lounging around in K's prison-issued* sweats, which are big and baggy and comfy. And something about the fact that they're prison-issued makes them feel especially interesting.

* For of you who don't know, K teaches adult basic skills at a prison. A real prison, where prisoners live. Real prisoners, the kind who do bad things and therefore end up in prison. They also do crazy things, those prisoners. One of those very prisoners cut his penis off with a razor blade last week; it even made the local news. I tell K he should be thankful to work in a place where such riveting thing happen.

Anyway, I'm thinking of blighted ovums, Krispy Kreme donuts, tall lattes, and Kate Winslet in no particular order. I really should be grading papers or running out to catch my bus home. But the thought of going out into that cold, rain-droppy darkness is sooooo not appealing...

Does anyone else think about time in the shape of a tunnel? When you think about the past and the future, what do you see? I remember my linguistics professor explaining that there are people who think about time - whole years or days or stretches of time - in a pictoral sense, and people who don't. I'm one of the ones that do. There is a word for people like us; I forget what it is. It has to do with being this-brained or that-brained.

What I see when I think about time is a tunnel going in either direction before me and behind me, super-wide right in front of me, and getting narrow in the distance, divided into colored sections that mark either seasons or certain time periods in my life. The colors don't really match typical season-like colors, like gray-ish silver for winter or orange-red for fall. They're more like the colors I associate with what I was feeling during that particular time period.

The past two years of my past-time tunnel are filled with flecks of blue-gray and black. Those colors mark the first time in my life of loving, losing, learning. I know; doesn't that sound so Hallmark greeting card Midwestern? Loving, losing, learning. But that's really what it was. When you get pregnant, you love. When you lose it, you lose. And then you learn: holy shit, this is what real love feels like, and what it feels to lose something or someone. I had never lost anyone or anything before that time, not really.

But it's not all blue and black flecks. There are some warm reds and oranges swirled in, happy and satisfying times, changes in my work and personal life that took place and have been ultimately positive forces in my life. It's just that the colors in this section of tunnel seem more...grown up some how. Aged a little, swirled with wrinkles. Kind of Ralph Lauren's line of autumn paints.

The 4-5 year stretch before THAT - if I look waaaayyyy back down that tunnel into the past - is lit up in rainbow colored sections, like some kind of candy land. Just lights and carefree joys all around - lots of happy trips and sex and parties and booze. Invincibility.

The thing is, I can never tell what the color of my tunnel of time is in the place where I'm actually standing. I mean, I can look ahead and look back, but I just can't seem to ever place where I am. What I can say now, though, is that I'm in a light place - comfortable and happy colors - feeling strong and good and generally okay with my life. I feel as though I've emerged from the blue-gray flecked section of tunnel and landed somewhere else - I'm just not sure where that "else" is exactly.

By the way, I've asked K about how he thinks of time, and he basically pictures words on flat, white planes. Logical: like "this is summer. That was 1995. Those were the Peace Corps days." Isn't that weird? Totally different views of time. His is probably more logical than mine.

Not surprising, for lately it's become apparent that my favorite males on earth are the logical kind who only say what needs to be said.

Okay, out into the rain...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Honest Scraps

Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests, from your Now Empty-Wombed, Fully Caffeinated, Slightly Hungover Blog-o-Bee-Yatch!

A bit of background, for those of you who aren't blog-o-sphere regulars (GAWD, I can't believe that word has become a part of my everyday vocabulary): every once in a while, bloggers get these things called "awards" from other bloggers. Flattering and exciting, yes, but it's kind of like someone giving you a surprise puppy for Christmas: it requires, ahem - work - to accept and maintain. When you receive an "award," you can't just kick back and go "yay me." Nuh-nuh-no. Usually you're supposed to do something more with it, like write about a certain something, link back to a certain somewhere, and nominate a a handful of other bloggers for said award.

As for me, I have established myself as one of those bad blog-award receivers who never, ever, ever does what I'm supposed to do with these blog-o-wards. I get them from time to time, and I like it when I get them, because it makes me feel like a worthy human being. Yet, knowing that I will never conjure up the energy to actually do what I'm supposed to do with it, I never bother to even announce that I received it. That would be akin to merely kicking back and going "yay me," which I've already said you're NOT supposed to do.

(Similarly, I've built my own reputation as someone who NEVER remembers friends' birthdays - maybe the general month or season at best - which has let me off the hook, I think, for sending birthday cards at all, even to the friends who always remember mine. Not that I don't feel kinda bad about that, but I do find some self-comfort in knowing that it's "just the way I am," and I hope my friends view it as such, too.)

ANYWAY...

I just got another one from an unsuspecting blogger who obviously is unaware of my bad-blog-award receiver-ness: the Honest Scraps Award. This one involves posting seven honest things, hereby referred to as "scraps," about yourself.

Initially, I ran from this award like a bat out of hell, I think because I've been emotionally scarred by that 25-interesting-things-about-yourself thing infiltrating Facebook for the past month or so. What in fuck's name would make anyone want to read seven - let alone twenty-freakin'-five "interesting things" about me, or anyone else for that matter? Twenty-five things, times the 20-or-so friends that I have on Facebook, equals - well - you do the math: a LOT of "interesting things" to read about a lot of people. Plus a lot of time writing those things, time that could be spent clipping my toenails and making/drinking lattes.

On the other hand, the Honest Scraps Award, the more I think about it, is something I can do. It's a nice baby step; seven is not the same as twenty-five. And I like that "scraps" is such a generic term, meaning they can be honest anythings - not necessarily deep or serious or emotional, or even interesting for that matter.

So here I go.

1) Not an honest thing about myself, but an honest question, one that's been weighing heavily on my heart and mind: is it a common thing to have a FAX MACHINE at home? Seriously, is it? Because in the past few months, I can't tell you how many times I've had someone want to fax me something, asking for my fax number as though it's a given that I have one. The plumbers, faxing an estimate. The remodeling guy (that's REmodeling, ladies, not MODeling) wanting to fax me a drawing. The dentist, wanting to fax me a bill. The editor, wanting to fax me a contract. Um...excuse me, but what gives them the idea that I have a fax machine? Is this something that most people have, and I don't? Should I have one?

What's more, when I tell them I don't have a fax machine, they often wait in silence for me to come up with an alternative fax number to which I have access, as if I have one on the top of my head, which I don't. I suppose there's Kinkos, if I feel like battling Seattle traffic to drive to the nearest one, which isn't very close, and pay a few dollars. I suppose there's my work fax machine, but I hardly think that receiving a plumbing estimate is appropriate use of an office fax machine (is it?) Anyway, this seemingly prevailing assumption that I own a fax machine baffles me to no end.

2) When I was in college, I traveled around France and Switzerland for a month by myself, stumbled across a remote Swiss sheep farm in the Jura Mountains, and demanded in broken French that they let me stay there and herd sheep for the summer. I don't know why; I just really wanted to do this. Remarkably, they told me yes, and I slept in the top of a barn on a dusty mattress on a bed of hay, sneezing and wheezing through the night because of my dust-and-fur allergies, and traipsing through the fields with sheep during the day. I ate breakfasts alone at a wooden table; the farm owner would bring me bread and butter and coffee from the main house. At night, we would all go drink some kind of potent, nasty-tasting fermented liquor with the bearded farmer a few fields away. After a few weeks, I was so tired of being allergic that I left, hitch-hiking back to Geneva with a strange man in a clunky old station wagon, his severely retarded and drooling son in the back seat beside me, staring at me and picking his nose.

It was a surreal experience, and I still found hay and dust and clumps of sheep wool in my luggage and underwear for months to come, the image of that man's drooly, mumbling, nose-picking son forever etched in my mind. It was an image that made me feel deeply afraid and sad about something I could never quite define (but I loved the sheep herding experience).

Okay, I'd better start making these shorter, or it's going to be a long morning.

3) I have a tendency to hugely, passionately love everyone when I first meet them (unless they ignore me, or are so quiet that I have to work too hard to fill the space with conversation), even if we have political differences or whatever. I believe there is always common ground to be found. Usually this is fine. The only time it's not fine is when I realize two or three months later that there is something about them that rubs me the wrong way, like a particular habit, mannerism, or attitude that I find to be bothersome. By that point, if I've already let them into my life and heart, I must then figure out a way to discreetly push away from them, which I'm horrible at doing. Luckily, this doesn't happen very often.

4) I've always wanted to find ways to be more tangibly spiritual, and have been consistently disappointed in organized religion as a way to achieve that, in part because preach-i-ness in any form gets on my nerves (and what is church, other than a place to be preached at?). Even Unitarian Church, which I try once a year or so, leaves me wondering why I wasted a perfectly good morning listening to someone tell me supposedly meaningful things that don't really carry much meaning (to me), instead of sitting at home on my ass eating fried eggs and sausage links and reading the Sunday paper. Maybe some day.


5) For some reason, this one is hard to say out loud. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's hard to frame it without sounding like I'm putting down the lives of my wonderful real-life-friends and blog-o-friends with children. Let me preface this by saying that this is just my own personal, tortured view of myself and my life, my twisted priorities, shaped by my past and my family and the environment I grew up in. It is this: that notion of having a child, although it inspires in me a sense of wonderment and longing, also terrifies me to no end - and always has.

My initial decision to go off the pill, years ago, was itself fraught with reluctance and anxiety on the part of both me and Kevin. We simply didn't know if the obvious compromises involved with raising a child would be compromises either of us could make without becoming depressed. To this day, I am terrified of Motherhood becoming my life and sole identity, of myself becoming a Mother and nothing more. Again, not that being a Mother is nothing. It is something, and something wonderful and important, requiring utmost passion and talent and skill, perhaps more than I myself have. I admire my SAHM friends who pour their all into their children. Even so, I am fearful of my other ambitions and passions (of which I have many) being eclipsed by the responsibilities of parenthood.

Here's what I was fortunate to have grown up hearing from my family:

"Find your passions, Monica, and do something with them."

That is: I was pushed to do more than graduate, find a job, get married, have babies. From an early age, my parents pushed me to study abroad, join sports, do art, spend my high school summers doing volunteer work in the mountains of Idaho and Colorado, submit essays to contests, audition for plays, join the Peace Corps, find and develop my so-called talents, or at least my passions, go after the job I wanted, get published, whatever. It didn't matter what my passions were or how "good at them" I became; it only meant that I had some thing I loved, something I developed a talent in, and that I pursued it with gusto.

So I did, and here I am, passionate about things in my life that have nothing to do with producing babies. I'm an artist, and in fact, once had an art business, and might have one again someday. I'm a writer, and in fact, am striving to finish a book. I love traveling, and in fact, have made it a point to leave the country at least once a year. I'm a college faculty member, and in fact, I'm proud of myself for becoming one. I'm not rich by any means, but I make decent money, and I like bringing money into the household. I am proud of earning half our income, and enabling us to purchase a home. I like having parties, and in fact, I have lots of parties. These things ARE my life, and I can't bear the thought of losing them. And I have even more goals for myself in the future - creative goals, professional goals, life goals, traveling goals. And the thing is: none of them requires or involves a child.

Again, and I have to continue to emphasize this again and again, "being a mom" IS - I believe - an important or tremendously difficult task, one that does require inspiration and passion and skill. What's true is that when I eavesdrop on mommy-conversations at Starbucks at 3pm on a weekday, or conversations of baby-lifting exercise classes at Green Lake in the mornings, their conversations rarely inspire me, or make me wish I could partake. I think I'd be the mom half-listening, staring out the window, getting spring fever, wondering when I would get my break from Motherhood, from these Mothers, from these Motherly conversations. Wondering where on earth I had gone, and if and when I'd ever return.

Maybe these conversations would be interesting if I had a baby. Maybe my entire set of life priorities would happily and naturally shift, guided by the pure and undying love for my child, the pleasure of spending my days home alone with that child. As someone who carried a baby to term, I can say that I DID feel a seismic shift of some sort deep within my soul, a love I had never felt before. But what if I had a baby, and those conversations - that lifestyle - STILL wasn't interesting to me? Then what? Would I feel as alienated from my friends as I sometimes do now?

I realize I could totally be setting myself up for people to say hurtful things like: so, why do you even keep trying to get pregnant at all, you selfishly passionate and un-parentlike person? Or: You brought your losses upon yourself (god, please don't ever say or think that, or my heart will fracture). Or: Why are you putting down the thing that I'm trying so hard to get? I'm not putting it down. I'm just saying, it's complicated. Or: You must not really be sad about your losses, then. Wrong, wrong, wrong. I miss Zachary, especially him, and I deep down I know I would have figured out how to weave Motherhood into my life without losing my sense of self. For him.

(I have to add one more redundant footnote because I'm horribly insecure and sensitive. To avoid Jesus or anyone else coming down on me, I should add, again, that I love and respect all of my friends who chose to have a child and stay at home to raise that child. And to repeat: none of this makes losing a child any less sad or horrible for me, nor does it lessen the love that I felt and feel for my first and second lost ones, nor does it make me less achingly hopeful that my future pregnancies will work out. It only colors the way that I deal with my losses, and compounds the issue of whether to try again, whether to keep pursuing parenthood. And it is a scrap, a very honest scrap, which is the point of this award.)


6) I love meat, speaking of bacon scraps, but I also love animals, and get disgusted by the thought of eating their flesh. Pigs are especially hard for me. I love pigs, but I love bacon. To make myself feel better, whenever I eat meat, I push the fact that it came off an animal's bones out of my mind.

There are only six honest scraps. Since the fifth one was long enough to count for two, AT LEAST, I'm going to say that I wrote seven. Let me think some about who to pass this along to, and get back 'atcha with that.

Off to brunch - yes, involving bacon!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Marvelous Misoprostol!

Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

Thank you, again, for your brilliantly kind words.

One of my least favorite things about this was having to be faced with options. That is, being forced to THINK about something. It's not that I don't like thinking; it's just that in this case, what I really wanted to do was lie on the sofa, sip wine, let Kevin pull my toes apart (one of the strange things I take pleasure in, although it makes my friend KD cringe in horror), and pretend this whole thing never happened.

If only I lived in a forest tribe or a rural developing part of the world, where I wouldn't HAVE any options to choose from! I would have plodded happily along until one day - boom! - I'd start bleeding, and I'd know right away because that something was wrong, and it would all come out of me, and it would be over. There would be lots of elderly tribal women around to slather me with ancient wisdom about this occurrence, and boil me teas made from special leaves. In the end, I wouldn't be fretting and blogging and philosophizing over it; I would just go on with my life, accepting that there are things beyond my control, lugging buckets of water up from the river and milking cows, and doing other developing-rural-parts-of-the-world types of activities. I'd be kind of sad, but ultimately accepting of Mother Nature's plan and then we'd try again. Wouldn't I?


But not here. No, no, no. Things aren't so easy in the modern Western world. Why should they be easy, when we have Google and forums and websites and -yes- blogs, and fretful (not to mention oh-so-informed) mothers and friends and colleagues and neighbors who read those forums and websites and blogs, plus doctors and nurses and specialists of various sorts, all spewing forth options upon options upon options, reasons upon reasons, questions upon questions, advice upon advice, forcing us to think, and ultimately choose? Nope, there's no just hanging out in the back yard and picking daisies when something like this happens. There's no ignoring the force of the modern advice-and-reasons-and-questions-and-options complex.

My options were,in a nutshell:

1)The Good Person, Earth Loving, Organic Free-Range Method for People of Stellar Character, Astonishing Patience, and a Strong Connection to & Appreciation For the Natural World, Unlike Those Materialistic Orange County Bank CEO Wives Living in McMansions and Driving SUVS and Spending Five Hundred Bucks for Hair Highlights While Impoverished Inner-City Children Kill Each Other Method (sometimes known as the Too Lazy to Make a Decision Method): just let myself miscarry naturally.

My thoughts on this method: well, if I knew it would take a day or two, or even a week, okay. But then you look at stories like this: what if that little innocent-seeming gestational sac grows to melon-sized proportions before your gullible old body figures out it's been had? Sorry dude, but this belly does not need and extra assistance in being...shall we say...rotund.

2) The Knife-Happy, Ultra-Invasive, Quick-n-Easy, Down-n-Dirty Method: the D&C. It's like the miscarriage version of planning a C-section "just because it feels better."

My thoughts on this method: I did think about it briefly, but when the doctor warned me that it could cause things like tearing or scarring or poking or bleeding or other undelightful things, I decided against it. So what if it's "rare" for such bad things to happen. The word "rare" doesn't mean much to me anymore. Stillbirth is "rare." KuKdX3 is "rare." So screw that word.

and finally...

3) The Middle Ground, a Little-Less-Scary-and-Invasive-Seeming-Yet-Not-Totally-
Hippy-Dippy-Natural Method: Marvelous Misoprostol!

Ahh, Misoprostol. Four happy, innocent little octagon-shaped pills with what looks like a Roman emperor's head engraved on the front of each one. All you do is take them in the prescribed method, which I won't divulge here, wait a while for it to kick in, load up on pain meds, and boom: mass exodus of that damn blighted ovum and its peripheral accessory gunk. Easy!

I chose this benign-seeming option, pleased to not be living in a forest tribe so that I actually HAD this option, and happy to have an excuse to stay home in my pajamas, watch movies all day, and be excused from doing any errands or chores. Sort of like having a wicked hangover on Saturday morning. It was even a bit of cold and drizzly day, perfect for cozying up in the TV room with some butter popcorn.

It wasn't until minutes AFTER I took the pills (of course) that I read the instructions packet, which I didn't think needed reading, since my doctor had told me (I thought) all I needed to know. It was then that I read that Misoprostol isn't so innocent after all. The warning packet said something to the effect of, and I'm paraphrasing here:

BY THE WAY, NOW THAT MISOPROSTOL IS INSIDE OF YOUR BODY AND BEING ABSORBED, YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT IT CAN CAUSE HORRIBLY NASTY INFECTIONS, EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA, PROJECTILE VOMITING, CRAMPS THAT FEEL LIKE DEREK JETER IS WHACKING YOUR PELVIS WITH AN ALUMINUM BASEBALL BAT, AND UTERINE RUPTURE THAT WILL MAKE YOUR INSIDES TO LEAK OUT BETWEEN YOUR LEGS AND PREVENT YOU FROM EVER HAVING CHILDREN EVER IN YOUR LIFE, EVER. IN FACT, YOU'RE AN IDIOT FOR EVEN TAKING THIS STUFF, BUT NOW THAT YOU'VE DONE IT, THERE'S NO GOING BACK. DAMN, I'M SURE GLAD I'M JUST A PAID TECHNICAL WRITER IN THE MEDICAL FIELD, WORKING OUT OF SOME DREARY OFFICE BUILDING IN NEW JERSEY, AND NOT YOU. I'D HATE TO BE YOU, STUCK TAKING MISOPROSTOL LIKE SOME HAPLESS FOOL. YOUR LIFE SUCKS. CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS.

As of today, everything has been "expelled" as planned, and none of the above has happened, that I know of. See - I told you the odds would swing back in my favor at some point. ;-)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Back and Breathing

Greetings, Guests and Mommas-of-All-Sorts!

Okay, I suppose I should be a big girl here, pull my frazzled head out from under the quilted covers, and reassure the world that I'm okay. Really, I'm okay. Disappointed and frustrated, still disbelieving, yes. But okay. Huge thanks to all of you who left strings of heartfelt, profanity-laden words of sympathy. I needed that, some affirmation that the situation sucks. It made me proud to have spurred what was perhaps the most prolific use of the word "fuck" in the history of blogging.

Several really wonderful things, aside from the aforementioned onslaught of brilliantly naughty language, happened these past few days as a direct result of my earning my KuKdX3 badge of honor. Let me pay tribute to those things first, since the fact that they stemmed from something bad makes them no less good:

First of all, Kevin, in an unprecedented move, scooped up our dog Tebow from the living room sofa, carried him into the bedroom where I was lying in bed and sullenly staring at the ceiling, and set him down on top of my chest. He then lay down next to me, and stroked Tebow's head as he licked my slightly-snotty nose (to clarify: the dog licked my nose, not the husband).

Now, it's important to note that Kevin NEVER lets Tebow into the bedroom. It would not only create the potential for muddy paw prints on the sheets, but it would mean that Tebow is potentially equal to Kevin in status, essentially doubling as another "manly master of the household," otherwise known as "He Who Gets To Sleep With the Woman." No, no. Tebow is a DOG, relegated to the living room, and Kevin is a MAN, with the manly right to the bedroom territory.

But not this time. It was a happy, perfect moment.

Second, at my urgent request, Kevin and Tebow and I walked to the tavern, OUR tavern. We hadn't been there in a while, for somehow the thought of being in a cozy bar and drinking a soda water instead of a beer makes me more than a little unmotivated to go. We tied the dog up outside, went in and each downed a chilled pint of Kiltlifter beer, which - for those you who aren't familiar with this brew - is amber in color (my favorite beer color) and contains twice the alcohol content of most beers. With that warm and buzzy feeling in our shoulders, we set down our empty glasses and continued along to sun-dappled Green Lake, walking around its 2.75-mile circumference with our fingers interlaced.

We don't usually walk with our fingers interlaced, but times like this - not to mention that Kiltlifter beer - bring our hands together, reminding us again that we have each other, and that we have a lovely lake within walking distance.

There were some other things too, but those were my favorites. Moving on to less savory subject material:

The most mind-boggling element of this whole thing (as if it isn't mind-boggling enough that a person can have such shitty godforsaken luck) is not unlike a riddle from the outside of a sugar cereal box: when is a woman pregnant and not pregnant at the same time?

The answer, OF COURSE - doesn't the whole world know this? - is an anembryonic pregnancy, otherwise known as a "blighted ovum." This is what's happened - and what is, in fact, STILL happening - to me.

Now, I'm not going to call it a "blighted ovum," because that sounds too much like either: a) something the a mean old schoolteacher would accuse you of doing or having, and rap your knuckles with a ruler as punishment; or b) some strange illness from the Middle Ages or the old colonial days, like "whooping cough" or "bubonic plague" or "crazy man's voice" (I made up that last one).

No, "anembryonic pregnancy" has a modern and benign ring to it, and what I like is that it legitimizes the experiences as an actual pregnancy, even though - by www.dictionary.com standards - it's not.

What happens is this: the egg gets fertilized and a gestational fluid-filled sac develops around it, just like what's supposed to happen. The fertilized egg, though, never turns into anything more than a little dot, and gets absorbed back into the uterus. Your body doesn't know this, however, and releases a surge of pregnancy hormones and symptoms, hence the plus sign and morning sickness (and, I hope, the cravings - for if I was really just craving cheeseburgers because I'm a glutenous cheeseburger-loving lard-ass, then I'm really going to get depressed). Even the gestational sac keeps growing as though there is a fetus inside it.

But there isn't.

In other words, an anembryonic pregnancy is like nature's greatest trick: you've got this thing growing inside you and all the signs to show it, but there isn't a baby there, or anything that will ever BE a baby. Ha ha! Joke's on you!

Of course, my immediate thought when the doctor confirmed this plight, or "ovum blight," if we're going to use that term, was: why ME of all people? Dude, I (of all people) don't need this kind of mind-screw. But then again, I learned a long time ago not to question or spew forth hatred toward the person or thing controlling the gears up there, deciding who should get screwed over and who shouldn't.

As one of my wisest friends pointed out to me: we all get good fortune coming at us in one way or another. It might not be when or how we expect it, but it comes to us. And as Kevin reminds me time and time again, we've came through life relatively unscathed until July 2006, when we both learned, for the first time, that things don't/won't always go our way. I think we've aged about ten years in the past two, and this third blip etches another crows-feet line in the corner of my eye. This is our share of bad luck, but we've had lots of good to balance it out, and - hopefully - more to come.

GOD, this sounds so irritatingly, Polyanna positive, doesn't it? I'm sorry. A bit more gore to bring this post back down to earth: the absolutely IRRITATING part of this whole dang thing is that I now must somehow expel the fluid-filled, baby-less sac inside my womb, sure to be a bloody and crampy affair like most early miscarriages. So I'm debating making that happen with meds, although I'm sure I could gnaw on some special kind of twig and grass roots to make that happen naturally. Deep down, I'm still a Western-medicine kinda gal.

In a way, it's oddly (or perhaps not-so-oddly) relieving to know that there isn't really a fetus inside that sac. That would mean losing something more than just some non-living tissue, an entity that had potential to be a person. THAT person, the brown-haired-girl who was to be our daughter.

But the biological truth is, she never was, in any form. I was pregnant with her in my mind, but not in my body. Which does make it kind of hard to process this - what I've lost, what I'm sad about, why it still feels like crap. I think for now, I can chalk it up to disillusionment, and confirmation of my now well-rooted fear of radiologists - their offices, their lab-coat-clad assistants, their machines, their darkened rooms, the wands, their switches, their goopy KY jelly, their stoic expressions.

They are like bad-news robots, and I just might have to kick the ass of the next one to serve me a bad-news sundae. I think I could do it; I can almost hold my own with Kevin at mercy and arm-wrestling.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Baboon Balls

Gotta get this off my chest before I go to bed. It looks like an annoying pregnancy-bragging post, but it's not:

Out of bed at 5:30 this morning, awake and energetic. Ran hand instinctively over abdomen. No physical bump yet, just a notion of something in there. No more need for caffeine - totally over it. That's me: super strong coffee-less woman, unfettered by stimulatory vices. Yup, I had my shit together, for the baby.

In the dark morning hours while K slept, I buzzed around the kitchen and made huge Valentine's Day heart-shaped cookies with pink frosting and sprinkles, measuring shortening with Viktoria's "water displacement method." It worked, and I was pleased.

With flour on my hands, sank the silver cookie-cutter into rolled-out dough. Thought fleetingly of the rice grain inside my pelvis, who she would become: a girl, certainly, for it simply HAS to be a girl. A brown-haired girl with a name I already knew, emotional and obnoxious like me, yet sensible and strong like her father. We would make cookies together, and she would want to taste the raw dough. I would say okay, but just one bite, not because I haven't gorged myself time and time again on raw dough and not died as a result, but because you're not supposed to let kids chow down on cookie dough.

Passed those cookies around at work, and everybody smiled. I felt proud to be such a Betty Baker. It was an unusually sunny day for February in Seattle; sunlight soaked in the courtyard, and my students were in a chipper and chatty mood. Next week was to be my thirty-third birthday, with exciting plans to go to the Brazilian steak house and eat lots of bacon-wrapped steak. Protein for the baby.

Later, met K at the clinic, strolled down to radiology, holding hands. 8 week ultrasound, "just to confirm." One room over from where I was exactly 18 months ago, when beads of sweat forming on the balding radiologist's head gave it all away: something's wrong with your baby, from head to scrotum.

A different radio-tech this time, a young rookie with a southern accent. Casual smiles and "this won't take long, just relax." I was kinda relaxed, but kinda not.

Warm goopy gel on belly, machine flipped on. K sat off to the side in the darkness.

"We've lost two before," I said automatically. "As soon as you see it's alive, let me know."

Image popped up, fuzzy to sharp, then back to fuzzy.

"That's your bladder," she said.

"That big black thing the size of Canada?"

"Yes. Nice and full. And that's the gestational sac."

"That peanut-looking thing?"

"Yes."

And then: silence. No "yes it's alive," or "that's its heart beating." Beads of sweat again, not on my face, but on hers: the young radiology tech, ponytail bobbing, probably new at this job, knowing she's not supposed to give away any top secret information on the state of aliveness or deadness of a patient's fetus, yet not well trained on how to keep from spilling the beans. Trying to remember what the green box in her textbook said: "act like you're so involved in taking electronic measurements that you can't be bothered to actually CONVERSE with the patient."

She brushed a strand of hair from her face, glanced not at me but at K across the room, and then back at the screen.

"I'm going to go show these to the head radiologist."

And I knew with sinking certainty:

I got knocked down.

And I did. Which brings me into the KuKdx3 club, a card-carrying member, tossed back over that fragile line into the non-prego side of reality. I can have coffee now, which is good. I guess.

It's a complex thing that happened, more complex than that, and I'll blather on with more detail once I get out of this surreal state of disappointment and confusion and hurt, groping for humor, which is the only way to survive that I know of. Until then, I'll leave you with what my good friend George e-mailed to me upon hearing the news:

"Oh my god. This sucks baboon balls."

Couldn't have said it any better myself: sucks baboon balls.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Search for Hotness Continues

Greetings, KuKd/TTC Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

There is something to be said for seeking male hotness, even in the face of traumatic loss. Losing a baby can be so...dehumanizing. At least, I distinctly recall feeling like some sort of freakish subhuman, an embarrassment to the people around me, even the nurses shuffling in and out of my hospital room as I waited for labor to kick in. They didn't quite know what to say to me, and I couldn't blame them. I felt like some kind of otherly, oddly inferior being. Even a few of my friends shied away, probably wondering, what IS she?

For today's post, I am returning to the oh-so-riveting quest for hot men, our earlier conversation having left me with a sour, melancholy sense that there may NOT BE - in fact - any truly beautiful males left anymore. Nonsense! Now it's time to turn it around, to seek and collect hotness, despite Cosmo's dismal 2008 list, and end this discussion once and for all, on a more upbeat note.

In my proactive search for hotness, I had to dig far into the recesses of my brain, asking myself again and again, "WHO'S HOT?" Amazingly, I had trouble thinking of anyone in particular. There aren't any default faces that come to mind, other than old deceased movie stars. What's difficult, I suppose, is that the older I get, the more a person's character seems to become integrated into their physical appearance. I suppose the reason why Cosmo's men don't look so smashing to me is that they all have rather vapid, self-centered, look-at-me-I'm-gorgeous looks in their eyes. Which, ironically, cancels out their decent looks (for the record, I did scroll the Cosmo slide show once more, searching in earnest for someone worth staring at, but came up empty).

I did manage to come up with a few ones here, a rather odd and jumbled collection. And I've added a couple of women, too, to level out the gender playing field, and convince myself that I really can still see beauty where it is.

First, and this is SOOO cliche, but I have to admit that Leonardo DiCaprio is on my A-list. In my defense, it really wasn't until I saw him in a handful of post-Titanic films (including my favorite, "The Departed") that his beauty sank in. It wasn't his boyish Titanic charm that got to me; it was his later showing himself to be a skilled actor. Also, it was the pathetic, sexy character he played in "The Departed" that made my heart melt just a bit. Who WOULDN'T jump into save him and his tortured soul?



Moving on: it's not possible to leave Paul Newman out of the hotness category. I have no idea if this man is alive or dead. I do know that he aged gracefully, and makes decent salad dressing and puppy chow. It's the classically perfect face that I love, and that mouth...



Okay. This guy I KNOW is alive, because I just saw him play a bad, bad man in a bad, bad movie called "In Bruge." The moment I saw Ralph Fiennes, I was head over heels for that face, those smoldering eyes, the perpetual serious look. This guy doesn't smile much, but that's okay. Being a smiley person is not a prerequisite to being hot, as we all know. Remember him in "The English Patient?" I remember thinking, Kristen Scott Thomas, you lucky bee-yatch! Even in the role of King A-Hole Nazi in "Schindler's List," the most depressing of the depressing films, I recall thinking with squeamish, shameful discomfort that he still looked a tad bit hot.



Next, ahhhhh, River Phoenix. Remember him? Now THIS guy was the teen heartthrob of my era. He was the one taped to the inside of my locker, the one I fantasized about bumping into on the street, hoping that when I did, my hair would be flipped in JUST the right way to make me look my prettiest. River's cuteness began when he was just a young'un in "Stand By Me." Later, his hair grew out (um, a little TOO much), and his face remained pristine and perfect. He died of something stupid, drugs or booze or swallowed-up-into-his-own-handsomeness, and I was marginally upset when it happened. It was a superficial feeling of upsetness, for really, what had River ever done for me. Nothing, except grace the inside of my middle school locker. Still, I missed him, and sometimes still do. Zachary, is he up there with you?



Another wistful one would be the Brokeback Mountain guys, Heath Ledger and whatever-the-other-guy's-name-is. Okay, I loved them both the minute I saw them leaning sexily against a pick-up truck, the minute I knew that their characters were gay, and therefore untouchable. That whole movie made me wish I were a gay man, just so I could try to flirt with one or both of these outrageously good-looking, emotionally sensitive, yet rough-n-tough cowboyish specimens. This occurs frequently, this "untouchable" phenomenon, whereby you want something because you cannot have it. And when Heath passed away, it REALLY became untouchable(for the record, I think the brown-haired guy is a tad bit hotter, I must say, but I'm partial to darker looks).



Moving away from the Y and over toward X, I had to add a couple of women in here, because thinking of beautiful women was nowhere NEAR as hard as thinking of beautiful men. Just two, a short sampling. Sadly, though, in both cases the fact of their good looks seems to have gone to their heads, turning them into somewhat make-up laden, self-centered, boob-augmented, Botox-injected types. I have no proof of this; it's just the sense that I get from their paparazzi shots. Which means that they aren't women I would ever want to meet in person; just admire their jaw-dropping prettiness from afar:

First, Catherine Zeta-Jones, who - to me - is about as gorgeous as they come:



Next, I'm sorry to say: Jennifer Lopez, who has about zero talent in the acting and singing departments, but is achingly pretty. I'll give her that:



Finally, going back over to the male side for a moment (and I'll admit being slightly biased here), I have to give props to my main man, K. Again, it's the complete package here: the stellar inside, seeping out into the outside. You'd never know from this photograph what a good and beautiful heart he has, how truly "manly" he is in terms of stepping up to take responsibility for things that I refuse to be responsible for (like dragging the garbage bin out to the curb and balancing the checkbook). He has been by my side through everything scary in my life, and - to me - has that classic Irish look of Irishness.



So there you have it, Monica's humanizing list of hotties. Any others to add? I feel better already, somehow normalized, and ready to get on with my day.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I Love Being Called a Bitch!

Greetings, KuKd/TTC Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

First of all, thanks - I guess - the many readers who assured me that yes, I will be able to walk the prego/non-prego line. I say "I guess" because now that I'm actually HERE, sitting reluctantly before my laptop with a bowl of milk-soaked Flax Flakes in my lap, after having made all those lofty campaign promises, I find myself wondering with great nervousness what I should actually write about today. Blogging is supposed to be a cathartic and joyful experience (isn't it?), and yet this somehow feels like what Obama must be going through right now: I said I'd fix this wacked-out country, but where on earth to I begin? I think I'll just put the U.S. economy on hold for a while, put my feet up on this ancient presidential desk, and order a whiskey on the rocks from the White House servants.

That's what I'd do, anyway (too bad Flax Flakes are nowhere near as exciting as whiskey on the rocks).

I want to begin my journey along the tightrope by sending a shout-out over to Chicket, who called me a bitch, and is therefore a PERFECT infertility-fighting candidate to meet me halfway along that tightrope.

A bit of background, and then you'll understand how beautiful and perfect her bitch-calling move was. Chicklet is one of those true TTC warriors who has been through the reproductive ringer, so to speak. Or non-reproductive, to put it more accurately. Check out her list of battles, or battle wounds, or failed battle tactics, which I personally think she ought to wear like medals of honor, or tattoo to her forearms:

"01-02/2009: IVF#3 (Menopur) cancelled and converted to IUI#4... still TBD if it's BFN or BFP. 12/2008: Hysteroscopy. 08/2008: FET#1 (Estrace). 04-05/2008: IVF#2 (Repronex & Gonal-F). 11-12/2007: IVF#1 (Bravelle & Repronex). 09/2007: Clomid + IUI#3. 08/2007: Clomid + IUI#2. 07/2007: Clomid + IUI#1. 05/2007: Switch RE's. 04/2007: Clomid#4. 03/2007: Clomid#3. 02/2007: Clomid#2. 01/2007: Clomid#1. 11/2006: Laparoscopy. 10/2006: First (of many) Blood Tests. 09/2006: HSG & Sperm Analysis. 05/2006: Started becoming certifiable. 11/2005: Pulled the Goalie."


All of this, and still no kid. I don't know what half this stuff means (and I'm not saying this in a "lucky me" kind of way), but I do know enough to sense the badness and frustration of it all, the emotional and financial expense. At times, the urgent anger and disappointment in her blog is palpable, which isn't a surprise.

What IS a surprise is how - even in the face of her own reproductive woes, Chicklet manages to maintain a wicked sense of humor, as evidenced in her response to my knocked-up news:

*I will continue to read your blog, "regardless how annoyingly whiny you become:-) Congrats. Really. You bitch;-)"

When I read her remarks, a great epiphany sank down into my brain like a the cloudy top of a lemon meringue pie: THAT'S IT! Right there, what Chicklet just said and the precise tone that she used, is EXACTLY how pregnant women and wannabe pregnant women should talk to one another! Affectionate, yet not sugar-coated. Kinda-sorta-happy. And yet, with cutting edge sarcasm that indicates a deeper closeness and mutual respect, clearly conveying truth of which both parties are painfully aware, not denying it for a second:

You're pregnant and I'm not, bee-yatch.

I only have one potentially similar experience to compare this to. It was when N (who, for those of you who haven't been on this blog since the beginning, was my best-prego-buddy-due-the-same-week-that-Zach-was-due-but-went-on-to-have-her-baby-and-left-me-behind, that-lucky-ass-bitch), announced to me that she was pregnant AGAIN. This announcement came during a weak moment when I myself was semi-attempting, without success, to get knocked up. Not knowing what to say, I sent her an e-mail that read something like this:

"Congrats, I guess. Still two to zero, for now. Don't let it get to your head, dude - I'll catch up eventually!"

This isn't as profoundly cool as Chicklet's remark, though. Absolutely, positively perfect.

Chicklet, you have taught all of us a bit more about the value of humor and profanity when there simply isn't anything else to say.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Daring Social Experiment

Greetings, KuKd Strong Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

It's taken me a few days to get the proverbial balls required to write this post, which is difficult to do, since I don't have balls. Somehow, I got 'em though. So ready or not, here I go. First, though, you get to slog through the necessary background information.

When I reluctantly started this blog last summer, I was fortunate to stumble into all kinds of e-friendships, "blogships," if you will, with the infertility fighters of the world. I was allowed inside of their sprawling community of brilliant, witty, brutally honest women who are childless-not-by-choice. Their situations weren't quite like mine, but still, I felt a connection was there. It's the palpable grief that brings us together, I think, the sinking sensation of realizing that you can't have a baby when you want one (and might, in fact, not EVER have a baby). In launching Exhale, my understanding of the TTC/infertility/otherwise-childless-not-by-choice perspective has grown even deeper, even in just these few short months. I have tremendous respect for the columnists that make Exhale the lovely thing that it is. And, as one who certainly doesn't get pregnant at the drop of a hat, I found solace in reading about others' infertility struggles. Perhaps that's awful of me, shamelessly finding joy in someone else's suffering.

Let me cut to the chase:

I'm knocked up for the third time, and due in September.

I don't know why this is so hard to announce. Never mind. Yes, I do. It's because in announcing this fact, by making this abrupt leap from the non-prego side of the line to the prego-side, I dread losing some of my favorite readers and "blogships" from the world of TTC. My persona will be different from this point forward in the eyes of the childless-not-by-choice community, for I will now be viewed as one of those women who get knocked up when you are not, leaving you behind to wish you could feel happy about this news the way that normal people would, and kind-of-sort-of-feeling happy, but kind of feeling like shit at the same time. The mere fact of my pregancy will be a source of hurt for some, and I don't blame them. Statistically speaking, after all, this does leave one less person on the non-prego side of the line, and adds one more person to the prego-side, supposedly not even looking back and remembering life on the non-prego side fondly, but now looking eagerly forward to that shiny day on the calendar, nine months ahead.

Right?

I hope I'm at least 60-70% right. I hope that my description of this composite TTC blog-o-woman isn't too far off the mark, for if it is, then I have vastly misinterpreted the hundreds of blog posts I've read, Exhale submissions I've reviewed, and phone calls I've had with my TTC friends. Besides, I've been there myself in my years (what now feels like decades) of KuKd status.

This is where my Social Experiment comes in. I suppose a better name might be "Social Challenge:" I want to know if it's possible, humanly and emotionally and logistically possible, for me to still find common ground with my TTC homegirls, and with my KuKd Strong Momma readers who have suffered very raw and recent losses and don't want to hear about other people's pregnancies. I want to know if it's possible to straddle both sides of the "prego line," without becoming invisible and irrelevant and hurtful to either world, a notion that's almost more than I can stomach. Can I still post empathetic remarks on others' blogs, and visa versa?

Can I manage to say the right things on this blog about my knocked-up status, things that will be as honest as I like to be, and yet sensitive to the TTC world? This will be my wholehearted effort, although I am sure to occasionally miss the mark.

If I complain, for instance, about the severe coffee-withdrawal-hangover I've been suffering for the past few weeks (worth a novel-length post of class-A bitching), you could rightfully say: "Well, at least you're pregnant. Quit whining about it."

You're right. Touche.

If I eagerly post pictures of the Ralph Lauren "Country Farm Hay Bale" yellow paint I've selected for the baby's room (no part of which will I EVER do), you may just click out of my blog in a fit of disgust.

I wouldn't blame you if you did.

Perhaps a good place to find common ground is for me to offer up some "assurances," if you could call it that, about what it actually MEANS to be pregnant for the third time in a series of previous failures. To put it bluntly, this is not a rainbow-happy-normal pregnancy brimming with optimistic thoughts of strollers and blankets and poop-filled diapers. It's not one for which I've already drawn a red heart in ball-point-pen around September 24th on the calendar, and begun researching baby names. It's not a pregnancy of which anybody should be jealous, not a pregnancy I would wish on anyone, except for maybe that school bully in 5th grade who stuck his bubblegum in my math textbook. I forget his name, but he was an asshole.


Nope, I won't be boasting about this pregnancy. Take these telling truths:


I'm cramping all the time, which people say is normal, but I don't believe anyone. Every time I pee, I check the toilet paper for blood, almost certain I'll see some. In sort, I'm practically waiting to miscarry. I expect it. I can't help it. I feel doomed. Put it this way: Extra-Strength Tums is a part of my daily diet. If this baby becomes a baby, my expectations will be sub-ground low. Just stay alive, get your high school diploma, and stay out of trouble with the law. That's all I ask.

*

Given my track record and relatively high (not high, but relatively high) probability of recurring failure, I enter into this pregnancy with a tremendous fear of growing attached to the tiny blob of fetal material in my pelvis. It's like I'm one of those adopted kids with attachment disorder, and cannot figure out how to love this entity that may or may not turn into a baby. I'd down a shot of strong tequilla to give myself some beer goggles - thereby perhaps helping with the love factor - but neither Jesus nor Kevin would forgive me if I did that. So scrap that idea.

*

If it's a boy, then there will supposedly be a 50% chance of him getting that god-damned-forsaken heart defect again. If I were religious, I'd pray that this was a girl. Of course, no amount of praying would help me now, since the gender has already been determined. So all I can do is kick back and wait. If it's a boy, I'll be stocking up on extra Tums and taking more meditation classes than are probably considered healthy.

*

I have an ultrasound next week to make sure the tiny entity is still alive, and I simply cannot bear the thought of going without Kevin, of ever going to another ultra sound EVER without him, potentially reliving the horror of last time. I hate to be this clingy and demanding, and hope I get over it soon. Let's call it a passing phase for now. I hope our civil rights-era grandmothers and mothers forgive me for ditching my feminist views, for now.

*

Being pregnant again is causing some old sadnesses about Zachary to surface, unresolved grief, I suppose. Not surprising, since I did only get about a C- in Grieving 101. I'm sure some social worker would have predicted this would happen. That's okay, I'll deal.

*

And finally, I'm not reading any pregnancy books or blogs or magazines. This will not become a WOO-HOO! CHECK OUT ME AND MY KNOCKED UP SELF! kind of blog, because my head and heart aren't there. And I'm not joining or starting any groups for knocked-up gals. To do any of this would be to freefall too quickly into eagerness and happiness, which would set myself up for rejection in the end, which is too frightful to bear. I imagine it being why, for example, people who have been married and divorced three times already don't have a huge, expensive wedding the fourth time. Just a quickie at a Las Vegas love chapel with maybe a friend or two in the audience. At some point, skepticism wins out, you know?

*

SO, I'm going at this floating through this in a sea of skepticism and fear of my own, trying to confront these feelings, not relating on this particular issue to my other pregnant friends, nor to friends who have never been pregnant before. That makes for a pretty slim sliver of the friend-population to choose from.

And yes, through the murky waters of all of this anxiety, I'm hoping as hard as I can hope, oftentimes with hot watery tears forming against the backs of my eyeballs but not coming out, that this little potential person inside me stays strong and viable, and makes it to the very end.

Make it, make it, make it.

Any thoughts on this Social Experiment, this joining of the prego- and wannabe-prego minds and souls? What will the results be? Can it be done?

I'm going to assume "yes" for now, and give it a shot.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

I Really Don't Like It When...

1) I'm trying to toss a salad in a bowl that's too small. When I toss a salad, I like to do it with gusto, scraping the bottom the bowl to get all of the chopped goodies sufficiently coated in dressing. There's nothing like oil-and-vinegar-coated leaves of lettuce hopping over the sides of the bowl and getting stuck to the counter and floor, ignored by the dog, who doesn't do lettuce.

2) I tell a KuKd sister that I sometimes wish I were a mom, and they insist on assuring me that I AM a mom. It makes me feel pressured to go along with the shenanigans and say the right thing, like: "Oh yes, thanks for reminding me. I'm a mom. Now I feel better." It's not that I never feel like a mom. As I've said before, sometimes I feel like one and sometimes I don't. Being a stillbirth mom so defies our normal cultural definition of "motherhood," that I have trouble jumping on that train without any reservation. It's kind of like living in a wooden shack, and somebody telling me I live in a mansion. These sorts of mental shifts take time.

3) People try to force me to smile when they take my picture. I seriously don't like that. My mom does that all the time - "Smile, honey! Come on, smile!" - and I end up with a wholly unattractive, brittle smile with undertones of irritation. My friend KD has a beautiful, natural smile and perfect teeth. She is smiling in every picture I've ever seen of her, so she must be good at smiling on command. I'm not. My favorite pictures of myself are ones where somebody took the shot while I was already naturally laughing at something.

4) I bite into a mealy apple or nectarine, especially one that I've paid a bunch for at Pike Place Market or Whole Foods. Gross! Who likes mealy fruit? Anyone on this over-populated earth?

5) Measuring out Crisco - vegetable shortening, for those international readers who might not have Crisco - for recipes. What a gloopy, gloppy pain. And so hard to wash measuring cups with Crisco residue, what with the sponge turning into a Crisco-coated rectangle of uselessness.

6) Flipping through the radio stations on my 30-minute drive home from work, and coming across nothing - literally, astoundingly NOTHING - worth listening to. Just some tired classic rock (and not even songs I can get into), a bit of jazz (not the good kind, but the porn-movie background kind with lots of cheezy saxophone), obnoxious talk shows, a Miley Cyrus song here and there, and - on NPR - the Tuesday gardening show. What gives? This happened to me last week.

7) People having too many babies. I won't go into the octuplet thing again - it's a bit over-talked already - but COME ON, PEOPLE!

Any others to add?

Coming soon - the Steel Worker Boyfriend and more.