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Monday, April 27, 2009

Ask a Dead Baby Momma: Column 2

Dear Dead Baby Momma:

I'm pretty sure that I'm going to be afflicted with a deadly illness. Any thoughts?

-Deathaphobic in Suburbia



Dear Deathaphobic in Suburbia,


Did you just ask me if I have any thoughts on deadly illnesses? Boy, do I ever. You've come to the right place, my friend.

There are two routes I can take in responding to your concern. One is the bad-friend route, and the other is the good-friend route. I'm going to take the good-friend route, because I could never live with myself if I didn't. But first, let me give you a glimpse of the bad-friend route, so you can see what that would have been like.

There used to be a controversial website floating around out there - it might even still exist - called Butterfly-Something or Something-Butterfly. The goal of this website was essentially to help anorexic women become better anorexics. Yes, you read that correctly. A clearinghouse for resources not meant to cure anorexia, but to augment it. Things like: recipes for soup made of water, cabbage, and air; tips for hiding one's protruding hipbones; methods for outsmarting scrutinizing doctors and mental health counselors. I read about it in the paper, and thought to myself: wowsers. Amazing! That's like angst-igating on steroids!

I bring this up as a way to illustrate the bad-friend route. If you ENJOY your deathaphobia - that is, if you take sadistic pleasure in it - you might like the bad-friend response to your request for my "thoughts." Such a response would go something like this:

YOU ARE RIGHT TO BE AFRAID!
You very well could be afflicted with a deadly illness anytime. In fact, it could be happening now. Better start doing something to analyze it, avoid it, legitimize it, feed it - BEFORE IT KILLS YOU!

Mathematically, the odds of a deadly illness are low, of course, unless you have a genetic history of deadly disease or have obvious increased risk factors (drinking, smoking, snorting crack, living above a nuclear waste dump). Any sane person with a medical degree would tell you so. But for someone like YOU, as a person who has likely experienced the improbable scenario of getting KuKdx1, 2, 3, or even more, the entire concept of "odds" goes out the window. "You're probably fine" loses its meaning after a while.

Which means that YES - that pelvic pain you're feeling? Your ovaries are probably rotting, cervical cancer cells colonizing your entire abdominal area. Go get checked out. Chest pains? Screw the antacids! That's a heart attack! Get thee to the emergency ward! That slight tremble in your fingertips? Parkinson's. Definitely Parkinson's. The fact that you aren't pregnant, although you've been trying for five months? Fatal fallopian blockage for sure. Go request immediate surgery before the blockage travels up to your lungs, impeding all air flow. The fact that a lot of people you know are suddenly coming down with the cancer bug? Yes, it's likely contagious in a cosmic sense (albeit not a medical sense), so go ask your doctor to test you for every kind of cancer on the market.

Oh, and to prevent modern-era-induced death, don't do ANY of the following: 1) eat food microwaved under plastic wrap; 2) use any soaps or lotions that aren't natural enough to eat directly out of the tube; 3) eat white foods; 4) touch anything not made of wood, stone, water, air, or fire. 5) eat anything other than organic vegetables from your grandma's garden.


BUT NO. Let Dead Baby Momma give you the good-friend response instead, the right response, the responsible response. As an advice columnist, this is my obligation. It goes like this:

Difficult as it may seem, there is one - and only one - way to confront your fears, not just of deadly illness, but of anything. Of infertility, of troubles at work or at home, of knocked-downage. That is: to let go of your bananas. Best put by this favorite prayer to whatever sadistic - but good at heart - asshole is controlling the gears up there:

Dear Sadistic - But Good At Heart - Asshole Controlling the Gears Up There:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.


Isn't it lovely in its concise brilliance, this one? Yes, whoever said this is right, and whoever can do this deserves full admiration, for it grates directly against human nature and tendencies more than any other thing. It's why frantically worried women marry people like Kevin, who are "wise enough to know the difference."

Disease: you can't control it. My suggestion would be to take a middle-of-the-road approach, hovering between good-friend and bad-friend. Be educated and proactive, yet not obsessive. Choose three obvious anti-deadly-disease habits to implement regularly, just to make yourself feel better, and give yourself a semblance of control. This might include not licking plastic, not smoking, and not inhaling gasoline, for instance. It will feel like being on a diet, and allowing yourself the occasional chocolate. It will feel good.

Yet on the inside, keep harvesting knowledge of what you can and can't control, for this is what allows you to move forward without fear. Write it down in a notebook. Two columns: "CAN CONTROL," and "CAN'T." Once you think about it, you'll see that disease - deadly and otherwise - ultimately fall into the "CAN'T" category. So does knocked down-age, for the record.

And then you can let it go, like an overripe banana, using all of that controlling energy for other, more productive life projects, like writing a column like this, or looking up cupcake recipes and trying them out, or going out to buy new sexy underwear and seducing your honey, or hosting a cocktail party, or taking a Calgon bath, or sitting at the park with a bag of cherries from the farmers market and spitting seeds on innocent pedestrians. All perfectly valid uses of that leftover energy.

In fact, Dead Baby Momma says: let's all make this our personal project, shall we? And report back on our progress? Go forth fearlessly, Deathaphobic in Suburbia! Thou shalt find your way!

Send your Dead Baby Momma questions to: monica at exhalezine dot com.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Knocktionary

Greetings, Guests and Mommas!

First, thanks for the great Knocked Down Hunk pics so far (see previous post) - keep'em coming! SOOO many cuties out there. We've got a lovely one of a man fixing a pipe underneath the kitchen sink. Now, if that's not hot, I don't know what is. Our Knocked Down Hunk gallery will be coming soon, and I'll be glowing with pride when it happens.

OK, I've been admittedly so busy going nuts with blog design that I forgot: on yeah! I'm actually supposed to POST on this blog! So here I go, posting again. It's a busy, relatively stable time these days. Thinking about babies, not thinking about babies. Thinking about my babies, not thinking about them. Wishing for a baby, not wishing for a baby. People are pregnant. Happy about it, weird about it.

There's just no way to define a knocked down momma.

I thought I'd do a vocabulary round-up to show off a year's worth of made-up words. These will go into our official Knocktionary. This is like, the lamest glossary EVER, because:

1) there really aren't that many words. When I say "a year's worth," it sounds like a lot, but it really isn't. Words come up once every few months or so, that's it. Don't worry, this list will grow. Linguistic revolutions take time.

2) It's not in alphabetical order. Truthfully, I'm at the tavern with Kevin on my second glass of white zinfandel right now, and simply haven't the mental stamina or wherewithal (god, does anyone except old ladies actually use that word anymore?) to alphabetize. If anybody feels like alphabetizing, let me know and we can work out a deal.

Oh, Kevin is sitting here beside me, beer in hand, and says "hi."


And now, the words:


Cancernoia - irrational fear of getting (and dying!) from cancer. Related to documented "fear of personal extinction" stemming from miscarriage, stillbirth, or neonatal death.

BOGS - acronym-ish acronym standing for Books, Grief Counselors, and Social Workers (oh my!). You know: the smart people who tell you what to do, how to act, and how to feel. They know best, so you'd better do what they say. Otherwise, they might write "FAILED GRIEVING 101" in red ink in your permanent file.

Googlinate (Googlination, Googlinator, Googlinatory): Google + procrastinate. Excellent for avoiding grading essays, doing house chores, and calling your mother.

Halluci-knock: Hallucinate + knocked. The act of being completely convinced that one is knocked up, even though one isn't. Halluciknock (v), halluciknocktion (n), halluciknocktional (adj

Angstigator
: Instigator of angst. That is, a person who tries to drag you down to their own level of sadness/dejectedness/anger, possibly in a subconscious attempt to make themselves feel better. Otherwise known as a gloomy groupie, a joy blocker, depresstigagor, a sadness starter (angstigational, angstigationatory, angstigate, angstigationally).

Melanrageous - The feeling that you feel when you're around happy pregnant women, and/or happy women with cherub-cheeked infants in tow. As coined by Pamela: "the combination of melancholgy, rage and nauseous -- not at them per se, but at the unfairness of why some women are denied the opportunity for the same joy."

The Ughlies - Another term, this one coined by Heather, for that feeling when you are around happy pregnant women or happy women with cherub-cheeked infants in tow.

Dirthday - Birth + Death. Same thing as stillbirth, basically. "Happy Dirthday, Zach."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Knocked-Down Hunk Contest!

UPDATE: The Knocked-Down Hunk Gallery is now available! Click here.

* * *

Greetings KuKd Homegirls/Boys and Inquisitive Guests!

Let's do something totally warped and wacky to temper the foul mood of a few posts ago, shall we? Yes, we shall!

Let me first say that if this idea is, in fact, completely warped and wacky, I take full responsibility for its warpedness and wackiness. For those of you who are new here, I'm sorry if I've given you the impression that I'm a normal person - frankly, I've forgotten what "normal" even means. But that's another post, or perhaps a suitable chapter in a Philosophy 101 textbook.

Here it is - are you ready? Are you sitting down? Is your mug of coffee firmly ensconced in your hands lest you drop it out of sheer surprise and delight? Are you firmly bracing yourself, both physically and mentally? Drum roll please:

It's the First International Knocked Down Hunk Contest! WOO-HOO! I know, I know. Isn't it astounding to think that a man whose penis produced sperm resulting in knocked-down offspring could POSSIBLY be sexy? No, not astounding at all. In fact, just like losing a baby/fetus automatically makes a woman much wiser and cooler than before, the same is true for oft-forgotten Knocked Down Hunks.

Here are the contest rules.

HOW IT WORKS: E-mail a photograph of the nominee, along with an optional 3-sentence explanation of why this particular Knocked Down Daddy-o should be voted for the Hunkiest Knocked Down Hunk in the World, to Monica, Contest Coordinator at monica@exhalezine.com by FRIDAY, MAY 1st. Put "Knocked Down Hunk Contest" in the subject line.

All entrants will be posted in a Knocked Down Hunk gallery - yes, eye candy galore - for everyone to vote on democratically. The winning HUNK will get something wonderful! I can't tell you what that wonderful thing is, because I haven't thought of it yet, but trust me - it's going to be wonderful!

You are welcome and encouraged to spread the word to your KuKd friends and show off your Knocked Down Hunkiness (or your man's knocked down hunkiness) by adding this image to your blog or website with a link back to this post:



WHO QUALIFIES: Any knocked down daddy qualifies to nominate himself, or be nominated by someone else. To qualify, you must have participated actively (sperm-shootingly) in the co-production of a baby-esque entity that got knocked down via anything. That includes blighted ovum, miscarriage, stillbirth, infant death, and anything else I'm forgetting. It doesn't matter how long ago it occurred, or how many children you do/don't have now, how "over it" you are or think you are, how many subsequent successful pregnancies you co-produced. If you EVER fathered a knocked down baby-esque entity, you qualify.

OTHER GENERAL GUIDELINES: Any kind of picture is fine, just no cock-shots, please! I do still have an ounce of class in me, people. It can be a picture of his cute face, or - if you're not comfortable posting his face proudly - a neck-down shot highlighting, perhaps, his lovely six-pack and white-toothed smile. It could be a representative shot, like a picture of those excellent scones he knows how to bake (although, just to warn you, I probably won't vote for him as Hottest Hunk Alive based on scones alone). WhatEVer. Be creative and convey his knocked-down hunkiness in words and pictures. Make us vote for him!

And remember: the deadline is FRIDAY, MAY 1st - so spread the word!

OMIGOD this is so exciting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Clouds already dissipated, replaced by fleeting imaginings of sunlight casting shadows on KuKd men's pectorals!

Oh, and let me just tag a few unsuspecting blog-o-folks now to follow through on this:

http://ellenmoore08.blogspot.com/
http://buildingheavenlybridges.blogspot.com/
http://bodhi-ekah.blogspot.com/
http://barbaraboucher.blogspot.com/
http://lunardreams.net/baby/
http://sharonvw.wordpress.com/
http://theunluckylottery.blogspot.com/
http://elmcitydad.wordpress.com/
http://lifewithoutmybaby.wordpress.com/
http://tuesdayshope.blogspot.com/
http://fulltimemumma.blogspot.com/
http://bottomsoffandonthetable.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Three Quick Things

1) Everyone start taking flattering pictures of your Knocked Down Baby-Daddy! That is: the male whose penis participated in the production of the sperm which participated in the production of a cell/ovum/zygote/embryo/fetus/baby that was eventually blighted/miscarried/stillborn. Or, if YOU are a Knocked Down Baby-Daddy and you're reading this, start taking sexy pictures of yourself, or ask your Knocked Down Baby-Momma counterpart to do so. I'll tell you why in my next post.

2) Bacon makes everything taste better. I mean that in all seriousness.

3) How can a small Westie-poodle mix have such enormous bowel movements? Just wondering.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fragments

The world likes you better when you're perpetually happy and optimistic, when you have a good life, when you like your life. I'd say that overall, honest-to-god, I fit that bill. Still, there are a few little things that get to me. I can handle them one at a time, a little thorn pricking my side here and there, like a single dark cloud way off to the side of the sky.

But once in a while the vectors of all of them come together at the exact same time, forming one gray mass over head, weighing me down. Yesterday and today, thoughts have come to me in fragments like this, forming a stress ball inside my stomach:

*

I dry-swallowed a Claritin pill on the bus this morning, and I swear I can still feel it lodged in my throat, way down deep before it hits my stomach. That was six hours ago. I hope it's not burrowing into my flesh down there.

*

I'm overly busy, overly tired, overly caffeinated. I do it to myself, and really ought to stop and just live. It feels sometimes like I'm scrambling to keep myself from thinking too hard about painful things.

*

Sometimes I feel the urge to get "Zachary" tattooed somewhere discreet, like on my left butt cheek. But what for? Just because I get there weird cravings for motherhood, longings for what used to be, and it's the only tangible thing I can think of to reinforce that mother/son connection that now seems so frail and tenuous? A tattoo seems like a dumb substitute. I wish there was another way.

*

I don't really cry anymore, and sometimes wish I could/would. I've sort of forgotten how.

*

Why are babies so much more welcome than dogs in this world? Why is it $150 each way to shove your small, half-sedated dog under the airplane seat in front of you, but free to bring a screaming baby on your lap? It makes me feel like the one outlet I have for channeling pent-up motherly energy is somehow inferior or invalid.

*

We bought our house at the peak of its value, thinking a baby was on the way, believing - of COURSE - that a cute house with a cute yard was an integral part of our baby-having life.

If Kevin loses his job, we're screwed.

*

My parents are perfectly set up to have grandchildren. It feels like the big unspoken thing that everyone is aware of: if a grandchild were here, Mom would retire, Dad would be rejuvenated, and family gatherings would have a new element of delight. Holidays make me feel responsible for facilitating that. I wish I had a sister to share in this self-imposed burden. In fact, I wish I had a sister to do ALL of the girly things my mom likes to do - like shop and get mani-pedicures at the mall and watch Sex and the City and play Bunko with the ladies. I've never enjoyed those things, and sometimes I feel like an old scrooge for not going along with them just to indulge my mother.

Oh, this fantasy sister of mine would also crank out babies, so I could relax a bit.

*

Baby announcements are pouring into our mailbox. Must be baby-making season. That's all I'm going to say about that.

*

I figured out where to get birth control pills, determined to start them this month. Then I panicked and started questioning myself. Putting that idea on hold until I have a sense of what I really want out of my 33-year-old life.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Certificate of Birth/Death/Whatever

Greetings, KuKd Mommas and Inquisitive Guests!

I don't like to get into politics here, but I'm just going to say this because it's bugging me. You've probably heard about the recent controversy surrounding birth certificates for knocked down babies - specifically, for stillborn.

And there's a somewhat heated debate going on here, for example.

Physicians for Life brings forth some recent stillbirth stories:

"The 'devastated' couple got some 'stunning" news.' 'We could get a death certificate, but no birth certificate. It was like something out of an absurd dream. How can you have a death without a birth?'

Another bereaved mother from Arizona phoned the Bureau of Vital Statistics to request a birth certificate but, 'The woman on the other end said, 'You didn't have a baby, you had a fetus.'

Pro-abortion organizations, while professing sympathy for such mothers (of stillborns), nevertheless oppose the issuing of such a birth certificate, for it might inadvertently lend support to the right to life lobby.

Another view:
"The concept of stillborn birth certificates are not new; it's only new as a government issued document. Certainly couples are free to memorialize their lost child any way they wish, but are people so fragile that they require emotional assistance from the government? If a stillborn baby can get a birth certificate, can an aborted fetus get a death certificate?"


I don't know. For whatever reason, I just haven't been very interested in this debate. I can't help but wonder if this is something that a lot of people honestly care about. Is it? Seriously, is it?

Is it something everyone feels angry and upset about now, and I've been somehow left out of the loop? Or am I just turning into an old, apathetic, quiet person who has lost all interest in politics?

I tried to muster up some interest by looking up "birth" on dictionary.com, hoping to shed some light on whether stillbirth actually IS birth. That seems, to me, like a rational starting point for figuring out if stillborn babes should receive birth certificates. The unhelpful definition provided for "birth" was:

"the act of being born."

So I looked up "born," which was equally unhelpfully defined as:

"brought forth by birth."

Gee thanks, dictinary.com. Smug bastards.

If I were pressed to partake in this debate, that is if somebody cornered me and demanded that I issue an opinion on the matter, I'd have to say that I really can't imagine stillbirth being the same thing as birth. Can you? Really now. It's totally not the same. And if it's totally not the same, then a "birth certificate" seems hardly appropriate.

I suppose it's the same in that there's a roughly six-pound infant lookalike coming out of your body, and your boobs kick into dairy mode, and you bend over to look at your "down there" region in the mirror and wonder what the hell just happened to your vagina. It's the same in that your man stands by your side, holding your hand and looking at you with grave concern and intense love. It's the same in that you lose a lot of weight in a short period of time, but the belly flab stays cruelly in place.

But other than that, how is it the same?

This is precisely why I refer to my own son's stillbirth as his "dirth" (death + birth). It's seems more like death than birth to me. I could understand the argument of "how can you have a death without a birth," if it weren't for my own mental picture of what "birth" really means. Birth, to me, means more than the sperm and egg colliding and a clump of cells forming. It means more than a fetus growing into an unborn baby. It means: A LIVING BABY CREATURE COMING OUT OF THE MOTHER'S BODY, HATCHING FROM AN EGG, OR DROPPING FROM A STORK'S MOUTH.

I know that sounds like a simplistic view of things, but it's honestly what I think of when I think of the word "birth." And stillbirth is none of those three things.

The real point I'm getting at, though, is that I don't feel strongly enough about this issue to actually ARGUE about it, to write letters to the state of Washington to profess myself for against birth certifcates for stillborn babes. Heck - if a KuKd couple wants a birth certificate, sure - give 'em one.

In fact, I admire any KuKd mommy or daddy who has/had the energy and enthusiasm to pursue such a thing. It's the kind of I might have cared about more if this swirling controversy were happening closer to my son's DIRTHday, but nowadays I see this kind of story, read the first few lines, stifle a yawn, and meander off to sit on the edge of the bathtub and clip my toenails.

Even back in the throes of my knocked downage, I don't think I would have cared, because I was so fixated on surviving, on making sure Kevin survived, that I'm fairly sure I hadn't the brain power left to write a letter to my congressional representative. The baby was gone, and a little piece of paper with an official stamp certainly wasn't going to make it any better.

All of that said, I can tell you when I will start caring about this issue. I'll start caring if any anti-abortion groups try to obviously, obnoxiously, publicly spin the birth-certificate-for-stillborns concept into hateful anti-abortion rhetoric and use crumpled stillborn birth certificates to construct makeshift bombs parts for abortion clincs. THEN I'll start cranking out letters to congress.

But fortunately so far, those groups seem to have been on their best behavior, so I'll just keep being my cautiously apathetic self about this.

Easter, tomorrow! It's all about eating spiral-sliced, honey glazed ham at my parents' house. A nice reward for the hours I wasted messing with my blog design this week, when I should have been grading student essays and Windexing the glass coffee table.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ask a Dead Baby Momma: Debut Column!

April 9th, 2009

Dear Slightly Disgruntled Dead Baby Momma,

How much longer am I allowed to openly grieve for my dead baby among friends, family members, and other people in my life? I'm updating my Outlook calendar right now, and want to make sure I mark that grieving cut-off date with a red flag.

-Trying to Stay Organized in Seattle


Dear Trying to Stay Organized,

Ancient scholars have been studying this perplexing question since the very first human pregnancy loss in the world. The current, commonly accepted answer is perhaps best stated by Deborah Davis, author of Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: "there is no established length of time for the (grieving) process." This implies that it is socially acceptable to keep talking about your dead baby in public forever and ever.

Have you ever seen the cartoon movie Bambi? Remember the part where Bambi's mother is shot and killed, and Bambi runs away scared? And wasn't it depressing and disturbing to witness that scene as a young viewer? But then mother, or some other caring adult, probably told you something soothing like, "it's okay, honey. That wasn't a gunshot. That was a drumbeat of love from the happy fairy, and Bambi's mother didn't just fall to the ground bleeding, she collapsed in a fit of joy. The red stuff is, um, actually a pile of cherry Lifesavers that fell out of the Lifesaver delivery truck."

You felt better when she told you that. The world seemed okay.

That's what Deborah Davis is doing: telling you that to sooth your soul. What she's not telling you is the unspoken secret: there is a cut-off point. That is, not a time line for your actual internal grieving, but a rough period of time after which other people in your life will expect you to have internalized and moved on. They won't ever tell you this outright; that's why we call it the unspoken secret of our society. It is safe to say that if you push the boundaries of these cultural and societal expectations, people will think you're a self-pitying, unstable, self-centered ball of yuck. I know that seems harsh and unfair, and it is.

The good news is that there's an easy way to calculate your own PGCU-Date (Public Grieving Cut-Off Date)!

Simply follow the steps below.

First, ask yourself: did I have what others perceive as a miscarriage, or what others perceive as a stillbirth? Then, look at list below. "Miscarriage" answers will be first, "stillbirth" will be second:

LEVEL 4 PEOPLE (acquaintances, distant Facebook buddies, the man behind the counter at the deli, colleagues who hardly know you): 1 Week / 2 Weeks. Note: longer is possible, with risk of having people suddenly, mysteriously drop you from their Facebook friends list, tired of reading your depressing status updates.

LEVEL 3 PEOPLE (guys in general; friends who you hang out with regularly but rarely discuss emotions; close-but-not-too-close family members like in-law and cousins, the 1-2 colleagues who know some detail about your personal life): 3 Weeks / 2 Months. Note: longer is possible, with a risk of a sudden decrease in invitations to cocktail parties.

LEVEL 2 PEOPLE (Really, really good friends that you see every day; people who you vent and emote to on a regular basis; most likely to be female; closer family members, like parents and siblings): 2 months/6 months. Note: longer is possible, with risk being given a pep talk, a loving plea to move on with your life, a subtle push to find out if you're suicidal, a gentle prod to find out if/when you're planning to try again, because it might be a good idea.

LEVEL 1 PERSON (your spouse or boy/girlfriend, also known as the Other Person Who Helped Make This Baby): 6 1-2 Years. Note: longer is possible, with risk of possible relationship erosion and loss of libido, so be careful.

LEVEL 0 PEOPLE(women who have gone through your exact situation, or men who have gone through your exact situation, more or less the same amount of time ago; that one best, best, best friend who still lets you vent about it and asks how you are; your mother; your dog; maybe even your spouse): Eternity. Note: longer is not possible, because there is no such thing as longer than eternity. Not even in the cartoon movie Bambi.

My recommendation is that you print this handy guide, Scotch tape it to your refrigerator with your own PGCU-Date highlighted in yellow. This way, you can always refer back to it.

Thank you for your question, Trying to Stay Organized in Seattle! I am pleased to open up my fountain of knowledge on your behalf, and hope I've cleared things up for you.

Stay tuned for next week's column!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Brief Rant on Fetus-Holding and Other Things

Greetings, Inquisitive Guests and KuKd/TTCers!

I'm pushing my debut Ask a Disgruntled Dead Baby Momma column back a bit (yes, notice the subtle title change) to get this other thing off my chest first.

The inspiration for today's musing - a rant, actually - comes from The Dude (who, I'm pleased to report, has now amassed an even GREATER tribe of hens to cluck and coo about his Dead Baby Daddy woes and related drama!).

For those of you who don't worship The Dude like I do and therefore might not be aware of his KuKd background, allow me to enlighten you: his wife delivered their fetus/baby/something-in-between at four months gestation. Ah, the familiar and perplexing horror of the late miscarriage, sometimes called (bizarrely) a "spontaneous abortion."

There was one thing the Dude said a while ago that really stuck with me. Here is a slightly shortened version:

"Why in the hell were we put into the same wing as all of the other mothers that just gave birth. I understand for the delivery but not once we were transferred to another room for the night. All night I stared ad posters of babies on the wall and heard babies crying in other rooms. It was torture.

The part about it that's the hardest is when they put the baby in my arms before I was sure if I was ready for that. The image of a dead body that is so underdeveloped is more disturbing than I can describe. That image will be locked in my head till I die. In case I ever did forget, they gave us pictures as a reminder."


As someone whose experience almost precisely mirrors what The Dude is describing (except that we dodged the fetus-holding after lots of pleading and bribing the doctor with promises of beer after this ordeal was finished), his words produced a rather visceral reaction, almost making me spew my morning coffee across the living room in a milky-brown stream.

Man-oh-man, was I pissed.

Here's what I've come to believe about the medical and social work community, particularly the religion-infused medical and social work community: they all think they know what's best, and they like to plow blindly ahead and adhere to what they "know," without pausing to consider if it's really the right thing for the patient. Of course, they probably DO know more than we do, what with their advanced degrees and, in some cases, apparently frequent consultations with Jesus on how to handle sensitive matters such as KuKd.

Sometimes I feel like facilitating an informational conference call for doctors, nurses, and social workers involved with KuKd situations. Here are some things I would say:

1) Please don't assume that just because I got knocked down five minutes ago, I automatically turn into a hysterical retard without any thinking capabilities or opinions of my own. This is a confusing and horrible time in my and my husband's lives, but trust me, we'll get through it. You may be calmer than we are, but that doesn't make you smarter or more morally correct. If you have any suggested coping strategies, you are welcome to gently and objectively put them out there as possibilities, but if we say "no," which we probably will, deal with it.

*

2) As an example: do not set my 16-week fetus into my arms just because you believe it's the right thing to do, or because that's what normal mommies and daddies do when normal babies are born. THIS IS NOT A NORMAL, LIVING-BABY-DELIVERING SITUATION, in case you didn't get the memo. Not only does holding the fetus not help everyone, it actually HURTS some people, like The Dude (NOBODY messes with The Dude without talking to me first. Ka-peesh?).

I'm not saying that there aren't some KuKders who WANT to hold the fetus, or that there's anything wrong with holding the fetus. Some might want to, but some might not. Neither way is better than the other. I'm simply saying that KuKders should get temporary elevated status, simply for being suddenly up a shit's creek with no paddle, and not pressured to do things that make us uncomfortable. I almost couldn't beLIEVE that amount of pressure we got to hold the fetus.

I wanted to ask the nurses and doctors: do you see anyone throwing confetti on us and handing out foil-wrapped chocolate cigars in blue or pink pastel color, or hoards of friends and relatives showing up to congratulate us? No, you don't. You're thinking of something else, an entirely different scenario. I do not want to hold the fetus. So sue me.

(I know, I know. If I don't hold the fetus, I'll regret it for the rest of my life, and possibly even roast on a stick in hell after I die. As I said, I'm not stupid. So, you're allowed to ask me one time, but be willing to accept "no" for an answer without further discussion. In your world, it might seem like I'm rejecting my baby. But in my world, it's not my baby. It's a fetus who never became a baby. And even if he/she DID become a baby, what's left is merely the under-developed SHELL of that baby - an empty symbol that means nothing to me.

So quit insisting that your view of reality trumps mine. This is a situation where I get to be right. I'm the star of the pity-show here, not you. BOO-YA.)

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3)On a similar note, do not sequester me and my husband in the regular labor/delivery ward for a week, ostensibly because we are *real parents* who just delivered a *real baby* (unless you have asked very politely and gotten permission). What the hell is UP with that! Whoever thought of that idea is clearly on crack. It's like sending the world's poorest man to the Emerald Palace with fifty-dollar bills hanging down from the ceiling. You can look, but don't touch!

As I said, I think you're confusing us with somebody else. Sarah Palin's daughter, perhaps? She just a baby right? Yeah. Nope - that's not me. Stop doing NY Times crossword puzzles at the triage desk and pay attention!

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4) Please stock up on orange Popsicles for patient consumption. You always seem to have plenty of the not-tart-enough grape and cherry, but a shortage of tart-n-tangy orange. And get rid of green and blue altogether; people don't really go for those after age twelve or so. Oh, and a better DVD selection would also be nice - Shaun of the Dead, Team America, Raising Arizona and the entire season of the British Office would all be welcome titles for this KuKd momma.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Some FAQS-n-Things

Boy oh boy, Readers!


Wait 'till my next post - I cooked up a lovely idea during my sopping wet bike ride to downtown. I'm dying to tell you about it now, but I'll control myself and let it be a surprise.

(During this aforementioned bike ride, by the way, my white socks got utterly drenched AND this nasty gash on my big toe got overly jostled and started bleeding again, which I didn't realize until I got to work to peel off my drenched, now massively bloodstained socks. I hung up my drenched and massively bloodstained socks on my file cabinet handle to air-dry before class, since those were the only socks I had to get me through the work day. Forgot they were hanging there, of course, as a group of innocent students came in to talk to me. I only remembered when I caught them staring wide-eyed right past me at that file cabinet, at my bloody dripping socks, which looked like used Maxi-pads, judging by the shape and color combination. Which means my students must have thought for a fleeting moment that I, their esteemed professor, was a bloody Maxi-pad hanging freak.)


ANYWAY.

Never mind, I can't hold it in any longer. Here's my idea:

I'm going to try my hand at being an advice columnist, with the pen name of Dead Baby Momma. The column will be called Dear Dead Baby Momma. I'll do it every week or every other week, whenever Dead Baby Momma gets inspired. Might be just a one-time deal, might last longer. In preparation for my first one, you are welcome and encouraged to e-mail me your questions to: monica at exhalezine dot com.

They can be KuKd-related or not, funny or serious, general or specific, whatever. Just know that your answer will be filtered through the wacked-out mind of Dead Baby Momma. No question is too small or big, too relevant or irrelevant, too ridiculous or non-ridiculous. This is just something I've always thought would be interesting, and since I was so troubled by my drenched and bloody bike ride, I was glad to have a happy-making idea emerge from the dreariness of my mind. I reserve the right to make questions up, of course, but nobody has to know that.

In the meantime, I thought I'd spout off a few FAQs about this blog, for the sake of any newbies making their way over here. Someday, I'll be bold and put up a "FAQS" page. But until then, this will have to suffice. This will also give me some practice in answering questions for my Dear Dead Baby Momma column (OMIGOD I'M SO EXCITED!!!). Here I go:


What's KuKd?

KuKd stands for Knocked Up, Knocked Down. It is used an adjective to describe the experience of losing a pregnancy, a pregnancy-like thing, a baby-like cell, a mass of baby-like cells, a zygote (what IS a "zygote," anyhow?), an embryo, a fetus, a baby. I pronounce it by simply stating the letters: kay-you-kay-dee. Others say "kooked," but if they said that in my presence, I probably wouldn't know what they were talking about (not that the Kukd experience doesn't leave your brain a little kooked-out).


Where did the term KuKd come from?

My own twisted brain, during one of those pinnacle-of-creativity moments when your brain is on both coffee and booze simultaneously. Yeah, like an Irish coffee. Just like that.


Why do you bother doing this blog? What makes you think anyone gives a rat's arse about you or your life or your ideas? Blogging is stupid.


I oftentimes ask myself that very string of questions. I started this blog for me, not for anyone else, about ten months after Zach's dirth. I had some lingering dead-baby-related thoughts that I needed to express, and blogging provided a space to do that. Then, I realized that through this blog, I was gathering a little community of supporters - readers, listeners, people who "get it." Or might not "get it" personally, but don't mind hearing me blather about it. Blathering is fun. Being listened to is fun. It makes me feel more normal during the alienating and insanity-producing experience of losing a baby. It still does.

I'm sorry. Did you just say "dirth?"

Yes. Dirth = death+birth. Dirth, dirthday, dirthing ceremony.


Not that anybody cares, but what do you do besides blog? Anything? Anything at all?

Well, I do have a real job. I teach writing at a community college. I go to lots of meetings in jeans and sweaters. I spend too much time Google-imaging pictures of cupcakes, perusing Facebook, and chatting online with one person in particular. I'm a happy-hour fiend, and spend lots of time schmoozing and boozing. I drink too much coffee and not enough water. I go for long walks with my husband and dog, and oftentimes like with my feet in his lap and a glass of wine in my hand. He makes me laugh, and he's fun to French kiss. I fantasize about being a real writer someday, living in a cabin in the mountains, or on a dairy farm. To that end, I spend lots of time thinking of books to write, and starting to write those books, and then getting distracted and forgetting about them. The one I'm working on now, though, I really am going to finish, I swear. If I don't, my friends and family are going to give me a lot of shit.


Are you religious?


Nope.


Got kids?

Nope.


Want kids?

Nope. Not at the moment. Don't ask me why not, because I have no fucking idea.


Why did the Google search terms "bloody nose during fellatio" bring me to this blog?

That's for me to know, and you to find out.