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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Space, Cleaniness, and Human Feces

Greetings, Mommas-n-Daddas-n-Guests...

Those of you who have been floating around the KuKd/TTC blog-o-planet for a while know that every so often, we talking-blogheads occasionally get awarded certain...um...awards by one another. It's actually a cool and amazing honor to be recognized by a fellow blogger in this way, and kind of makes me feel all glowing inside like an elementary student who just got a shiny star sticker on her quiz. Even though I dig such awards, I'm a terrible award recipient, because - rather than being grateful and doing what I'm supposed to do with those awards - which primarily involves posting answers to a certain question - I sort of let the awards sit on my "to do" list until it's pretty much too late to do'em. Same with most things in my life.

A common theme of a lot of these awards is that you get to list random things about yourself. To pay homage to the dusty and neglected heap-o-awards sitting around on my computer, I thought I'd crank out a few of these random tidbits. Which is hard - trust me - because I'm not the most exciting person and don't have any more juicy random tidbits than anyone else out there. Still, for what they're worth, here's a short and not very exciting list.

1) Personal Spacebox = Zilch.

A while ago, Murgan posted something about the general discomfort and irritation she feels with random people coming up and touching her pregnant stomach. Well, that post - coupled with my own husband's recent stitches in the crook of his right arm (will explain in sec) - gave me the sudden epiphany a few weeks ago: I have zero sense of personal space. Which is to say, I'm the exact opposite of Murgan. Anyone - I mean any old whoever - can come up and touch my belly, play with my hair, give me a bear hug, grab my ass - whatEVer - and I couldn't care less (unless, of course, it's an obviously sleazy person like the stringy-haired, pee-scented dude who sometimes sidles up next to me at the bus stop on 240th street).

Kevin's arm stitches are a case in point. I keep forgetting that they're there, those still-raw-and-painful arm stitches, which means I tend to accost his right arm without thinking - even when he loudly shrieks FUUCKKK! every time. I should learn by now. But I have no concept of space between humans, so I don't. Ah well, he's used to it.

2) Clean Gene= Zilch.

You know that gene that humans have - or at least, I've decided based on wholly unscientific research that most normal humans have - that causes us to feel uncomfortable and disturbed when we are surrounded by dirtiness? That gene that compels us to clean the house? I don't have that gene.

Which is to say, our house can be in a state of total disarray - dishes piled up, trails of my clothing and belongings scattered everywhere and left in piles in the bathroom, dust gathering on the floors, spaghetti sauce stains on the walls near the stove - and it's practically invisible to me. Kevin shakes his head in disbelief when I tell him our house looks fine . Likewise, I react the same way - shaking my head in disbelief - whenever Kevin vacuums the floors or washes the sheets. Frankly, I don't see the point of doing such things - because I simply don't SEE any dirt on the sheets or floors. I could go months, even years, without washing sheets or vacumming floors.

I don't have that Clean Gene.

3) I was covered in human shit when my husband fell in love with me.

Well, not exactly but pretty darned close - and somehow the first two random tidbits above seem like a nice segue into this. You might know this story already, but in case you don't, here's the nutshell version:

Boy meets girl while teaching English in Uzbekistan ("Ickistan," as the foreign service workers called this drab post-Communist country). Boy and girl are still "just friends" when they get completely trashed on cheap Uzbek vodka one night with a group of fellow Americans. Girl is squatting over a pit toilet to pee, foot slips as she's standing up, and entire leg goes "SPLOMFFFF!!" right into the heap of Uzbek/American-mixed human feces (yes - Uzbek pit toilets are THAT FULL -to where as you squat, you know your butt is like 2 inches above the top of the waste heap).

"GAHHHHHHH!" screams drunk girl.

"I'll save you!" screams gallant knight-boy, who rushes to her side and pulls girl, covered in human shit from toe to hip, from the toilet. Within a few weeks, boy and girl have kissed (with tongue!), and soon they're dating. Girl knows long before boy does: they'll get married someday, as soon as he realizes she's the one for him. Afterall, where on earth will she find another guy willing to go out with her after such a "shitty incident," no pun intended? Eventually he does, and they do. :-)

That's all, folks.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pieces of Aliveness

Howdy, KuKd/TTC-ers and Inquisitive Guests...

I was cleaning out the bedroom closet over the weekend, and came across a large paper grocery bag full of objects. It had "ZACHARY" written on it in big black marker, and was folded down at the top - I guess to keep dust from drifting into it. Or, maybe to give myself some sense of closing the lid on something, safekeeping something, protecting something.

I've known the bag was in there, underneath a pile of coats. Not purposefully underneath a pile of coats, just accidentally underneath a pile of coats because it seemed like a good place to toss coats. For the first time in...well...months, maybe? a year?...I pulled out some of the contents of this bag and examined them next to the natural light coming in through the window.

Mostly what's in here are "Zachary artifacts" that were placed into a decorative box, and then into a bigger bag, and given to us by the hospital staff. All you stillbirth mommas out there, you know what I'm talking about. Kevin and I called the whole package our consolation prize, as if we were losers on a game show.

We brought them home and spread them out on the bed, trying to figure out what we were supposed to do with them. Because, we all know dead-baby-land doesn't have any real rules or norms to follow. It's not like a wedding or a bar mitzvah, where all you have to do is type a few key words in Google and boom - out comes a bulleted list of social conventions. With stillbirth, you just kind of muddle along and make up shit to do.
It's not like the bag contained body parts or anything horrid. Just some locks of hair, some footprints, a charred and numbered disc of metal from the cremation service, a blanket, some other things.

I don't know. If he were a real live baby, we would have displayed them on the fireplace mantel (actually, never mind - we wouldn't have done that). But in this case, we just sort of looked at them up close - on the off-chance that they might make us feel better about the situation (which they didn't), then put them in a bag. In the closet. Which wound up under a pile of coats. Maybe to pull out later - ten or fifty years later, when some grandkid or nephew asks about "that one baby that didn't make it." Then we'd have something to show for this baby, preserved in a time capsule of sorts.

There were some other things in there, I discovered this weekend while reexamining the contents of this grocery bag full-o-sentimental goodies. There were some pages torn out of a spiral notebook with drawings I had scrawled, random things I wrote down, and for some reason felt compelled to save. One of those things was a list of what I called "Pieces of Aliveness," written on wrinkled lined paper and stained with a ring of coffee. So cliche, I know, but it was. The "Pieces of Aliveness" heading was in large block letters in black ballpoint pen, pressed hard on the page. This was a caffeinated little piece of prose, for sure. I swear, the handwriting almost looked wavey in parts, as though produced by a trembling and coffeed-up hand. Which it probably was.

ANYWAY. It was a list, which I recall writing in the middle of the night from our corner hospital room while Kevin snoozed on the floral sofa. We were waiting to deliver Zachary, who we knew was already gone. All those late-night informercials were only making me more depressed (there is something oddly alienating about watching grinning old people with their dentures, or hyperactive Asian dudes marketing their cooking knives at 3:00 in the morning), so I wrote my "Pieces of Aliveness" list in part to pass the time.

Basically, it was a list of ordinary little things that had always made me happy (well, at least since I was old enough to think about such things), and that I was hoping would contine to serve as sources of joy. Mostly I just wanted a reminder of these things that make me a living, normal human. I found it comforting to make a list of them.

Here's a abridged sampling of my Pieces of Aliveness:

"the satisfying 'stsssssss' of a cushiony toilet seat releasing air when you stand back up"



"the 'rrraaaarr' of sinking your teeth into a sugar, frostingy cupcake"



"the 'sheeeeoooop' of blue painters tape being ripped off after a paint job"



"the 'mmmmrrrrphhh' of a Q-Tip being swirled around in the inner ear canal, where it's not supposed to be"



"the strip of shaven skin left after a razor is dragged up the calf"



"the sizzle of an egg cooking to perfection"



"the 'thunk' and feel of a nail clipper on toenails"



"the 'yoosh-yoosh' of mascara being perfectly applied, and the way it looks afterward"



"the 'eeet! eeet! eeet!" of wiping Windex on glass, and the subsequent sparkle"

"the 'aaaahhhh' of a cute man playing with my feet"




"the euporic 'yaaaaaa' of immediately after a good puking session"



"the 'zing-bap-bow!' of purposely annoying the crap out of grumpy old men, and eventually winning their hearts'




* * *

I think I might stuff this list, and some of the other things from the Zachary bag, and bury them in the back yard as a time capsule. Or, I could just make it easy on myself and keep it in the closet. I'm pretty sure that all of these still apply, thankfully. The last one: well, of course I still love annoying old cranks. I don't think the dude in that picture would make the cut, though. To me, he looks a little bit creepy, like Lester the Molester.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Veggie Burritos and Scary Memos

Greetings, KuKd/TTC Mommas, Daddas and Guests!

This is a two-part "story" with an upbeat, bean-related ending. Got that?

First, how do you explain the relationship a woman has with her growing fetus? Intimate, strong, kindred, private? It's such a mother-fetus partnership, the immense job of growing a clump of cells into a living, breathing human. Doesn't matter who else is involved -husbands, parents, siblings, friends, doctors. At the end of the day, it's you and fetus hanging out together - and that's it.

Which means - for me - that things going on with the fetus are fodder for my most private anxieties, joys, and imaginings every day. This particular bugger is an active fetus for the most part, much more active than Zachary ever was. He bumbles around in there all day, doing whatever fetuses do. I don't question what he's up to, or spy on him with a home-ultrasound device to check for beer and bongs in his "room." I just trust that he's having an okay time.

Without even requesting it, I was given the job of raising and protecting this particular fetus. It came like a memo from Mother Nature, out of the blue: "This notice is to inform you that you have been tranferred from the Booze-Guzzling, Sex-Having Workaholic Department to the Responsible Baby-Growing Department, effective immediately. Please report to your new post starting today. And for fuck's sake, quit drinking so much coffee."

I feel like somethings just come to us that way: grim medical news, happy medical news. Things just hit us by surprise and boom, we're expected to deal with it. Now that it's my nature-imposed duty to keep watch over this fetus, I have no choice but to take my job seriously. Well, as seriously as a serious slacker like me can possibly take something.

There were several days in a row last week when I stopped feeling the fetus kickin' it in the womb. Oh, I could've gone in to the doctor for a fetal-aliveness check, but I'm trying so hard not to be the sort that goes in for aliveness-checks all the time. Instead, I decided to sit this one out before jumping to conclusions, which cast a film of dull, translucent fear on my mood - probably not unlike what it must feel like to work for a big company and then hear rumors of massive lay-offs. You just go through the motions of the day - in this case, the pregnancy, knock on wood and hope that everything isn't about to end. Even breakfast at Denny's didn't taste as splendid as it usually does, because usually, I can feel little fetal flips while I chewing on my prime-rib-n-eggs special. Somehow that makes the food taste extra-good.

I was missing those flips, man.

Then, this bizarre picture unfolded in my mind, a scene of myself getting yet another surprise memo from Mother Nature. A little, heavenly-white colored sheet of paper folded into a square, suddenly dropping out of the sky and fluttering directly into my hands. I saw myself unfolding the sheet of paper and reading its contents:

“Due to a company-wide reduction in force, you have been demoted from Baby-Grower to a lower-grade position, effective immediately.”

That “lower-grade” position was different every time I thought about this absurd scenario, but always something horrible that I’d never want to do. Something like telemarketing sub-prime loans, or soliciting Green Peace signatures on the street corner. And it never involved the enigmatic, fluttering little fetus I’ve been raising in my pelvis for the past 19 weeks.

Hey, knowing Mother Nature, I wouldn't put it past her to pull some shit like that.

* * *

Plot shift! Plot shift! Things returned to normal on Thursday, when BOOM - the fetus returned to his normal, ever-wiggling self. Who knows what accounted for that brief period of stillness. Anyway, I felt the world had been set right.

Which leads me to the promised bean-related ending. With fetus back in full swing and my fears of getting laid-off from the Baby-Growing department alleviated, I was able to relax and shift my attention to the cooking experiment I'd had lined up all week. I wasn't in the mood to try it earlier, because when I'm nervous, I lose all inspiration to cook - subsisting instead on bowls of cereal.

This particular cook-job had to do with a bag of Trader Joe's pre-sliced strips of sweet potato, which I'd bought on a whim but was suddenly clueless about what to do with them.



I'd decided to try high-fiber vegetarian burritos from scratch, not just to use up those sweet potatoes, but also to lend a helping hand to the Poop Elves in my colon. You may recall my earlier reference to Poop Elves, the little men who I imagine living inside everyone's colons, pushing waste out of your body with synchronized chants of "heave-ho!" They need help, sometimes - and there's nothing like a high-fiber meal to give them the support they need to do their bowel-moving job.

First, I sauteed some onions in a great big pan with olive oil.



Next, I added the sweet potato strips, plus some cut-up zucchini for some extra je-ne-sais-quoi, sauteeing everyting together.



Of course, beans had a starring role reserved in this dish, just for them! No high-fiber burrito is complete without a heaping helping of "fart-causers," as Kevin affectionately calls them.



I decided to throw in the rest of this bag of sweet roasted corn, which had been lurning in my freezer for an unknown number of months (or years?).



All of that got tossed in the great sautee, along with the juice of a full fresh lemon, cut-up tomatoes, a bit of frozen spinach, plus vast quantities of cumin, chili powder, and garlic salt.



After all this fibery goodness had been sufficiently sauteed, I had mine over a bed of rice with sour cream and guacamole on the side, and fresh cilantro sprinkled on top. Even Kevin, the ultimate skeptic of all-veggie dinners, enjoyed this one - opting to eat his like a real burrito, stuffed into a great big tortilla. I decided not to tell him about the high fiber content. Best he (and his Pool Elves) figure that one out on his own, which I'm sure would happen during his next run to the bathroom.



* * *

And now: Poop Elves happy, fetus happy, Monica happy. And no unexpected memos from Mother Nature. How simple is that? :-)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lightening Up

Greetings, Guests-n-Mommas!

Lately, I've been in the mood to lighten up.

That mood creeps up on me with inordinate frequency, an inexplicable urge to giggle at something otherwise terrible or disgusting. I'm not sure if it's an Irish thing or just some weird, psychological inability to deal with trauma in a normal way. I do know that even on the very day when shit went down with little Zachary, I was wandering around the radiology floor on Kevin's arm, laughing at something silly. (For the record, Kevin was laughing too, and he's my barometer for what behavior is within the limits of social and societal normalcy, I figured it was okay. If a Catholic-bred son of a Marine Corps colonel can do it, I can do it.)

Anyway, this particular recent urge to "lighten up" has been related more to my physical appearance and my house than to my actual mood (although I suppose "mood" is probably intertwined with that somehow).

Let's start with the hair. Mine has been about this length for year and years, give or take a few inches:



Heavy, boring, blah. Guys like to brush it off your face, and kids like to touch it with their snotty swine-flu-infested fingers, but otherwise it's pretty useless. The past few weeks, I was in the mood to lighten up that part of myself. Low and behold, the perfect opportunity came up over the weekend, when I was invited to a "haircut brunch" at a friend's house. I was skeptical at first, because it sounded like one of those things that housewives do, like hosting a Tupperware party or a jewelry exchange. Not that there's anything wrong with either of those events - just not my cup of tea.

But I sucked it up and went because I knew the people there would be cool, and because - after all- this was a chance to lighten up.

A "haircut brunch" goes like this, in case you aren't sure:

Some peeps get together for brunch, and one of the gals at the brunch is supposedly a professional hair cutter, and you don't have any proof of this but you take her word for it, and you sit in a chair while scarfing down pieces of fried bacon, and she goes snip-snip-snip directly onto your dry (and in my case, several-days-unwashed) hair, and lots and lots of your hair falls straight onto the living room floor, and everybody laughs and says you look great, and you nervously ask for more bacon and pray that you aren't going to walk out of that house looking like Sinead O'Connor.

But you don't end up looking like that. You end up looking like this:




And you walk out of there feeling all layered and choppy and sassy, with the cool autumn breeze on the nape of your neck and a bellyful of bacon, and your husband touches it right away and tells you how good you look. And then you beam proudly - because in the end it's still those immediate reactions that matter most - and give him a kiss, flip your head upside-down and flip it back up just to give it some extra volume, and say a quick "thanks" to the Great Being Above that you live in a contemporary society in which women can get haircuts like this at their every whim and not be viewed as some kind of rebel-prostitute-freak.

* * *

Next, lightening up of the house. There's only so much you can do with a tiny house in the city. And one of those things is: paint.

Sometime while biking through Eastern Europe last summer with all those drab post-Communist buildings whizzing by, I felt suddenly inspired to paint everything in the house a dark marigold-yellow color. I want bold, exotic, international, exciting! I told Kevin over a dinner of hot beef gristle and 9% alcohol beer. Bright, goldspun yellow the color of an Indian spice market! He had his doubts, but - that being...oh, about a year after Zach's death - I found myself still position to legitimately pull the dead-baby-momma-gets-whatever-dead-baby-momma-wants card.

"Okay," he said, "but that's all you."

So in a caffeine-induced frenzy, the walls got painted soon after our return:






Well, over the past two weeks I began to feel weighed down by that bold marigold-yellow. I know, I know; I only threw that paint up there a year ago, and really it should have a chance to sit there on the walls, fester a bit longer and enjoy itself. But once I got it in my head that I was sick of the color, there was no stopping me. In fact, it wasn't just the yellow I was tired of: I was done with colored walls of any sort. Time to return to something more...um...virginal.

"Let's switch over to white," I told Kevin. Plain old, ho-hum white trim with slightly off-white walls. We need to lighten the whole house up."

I wanted to feel like I was floating up into a cloud of lightness inside this house. Kevin did cast me the glance of "here we go again," but refrained from making some typically rational comment about how we "can't keep repainting every wall year after year" as I half expected he would. I think that's because this new painting endeavor happened to coincide perfectly with an existing plan, which was to:

1) "lighten up" our hardwood floors by getting them refinished
2) "lighten up" our furnishings by replacing old/clunky with new/slim
3) get rid of our kitchen table and replace it with a small bistro set

So, adding a bit of painting to all that didn't seem like such a big deal, I guess. Yippeee! So, within a few weeks, our house got as light as my new hair-do:







I know, it's so...um....white! So Ikea! So metrosexual condominium! But having that marigold yellow gone like five inches of heavy brown hair is, in fact, like a great superficial weight off my shoulders.

Ahhhhhhhhh.

Phase two in Operation Lighten Up: the paunch belly and rapidly increasing thigh-diameter. That's a whole new beast of a phase, though. If only I didn't love food so very, very, very much...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Relapsing

Greetings, KuKd/TTCers and Guests Alike!

There's something else that inward-sucking "hee-yoop" sound is, other than the insane suckosity of my cervix and the roar of an airplane toilet:




It's the sound of...drumroll please...taking a drag off some big'ol joint of negativity, sucking up that juicy awfulness until you're high. High on pain, that is.


Anyone can be a Pain-a-Holic. Just take any condition, any stressful event: diabetes. Food allergies. Death in the family. Loss of a job. Depression. Weight problems. Marriage problems. Money problems. Infertility. Baby loss. Now, think of someone you know who wears that condition like a comfy bathrobe: it comes up in every conversation. It colors everything they say or do or think. It prevents them from risking this or that, from feeling happy about whatever. It's like a friend to them, this ailment or event or condition, and anchors them to some rut in the ground, keeping them from drifting upward. They could let it go, but that's a scary prospect; think of the withdrawal symptoms that would invoke! No wonder they keep it around like an old annoying-but-loved friend.


Take it from me: once you get that first taste of aching awful pain, it's a hard habit to kick. After the stillbirth, I got used to that particular "condition" of being a dead-baby momma. It hung around, that smoky pain-smell saturating my clothes and hair and skin, and I clung to it like a raggity old comfy bathrobe. It protected me from a lot of things, giving me a gloriously rightful reason to burst into tears at odd times, and provided a safe excuse for avoiding dangerous situations. Six months, a year later: of course I couldn't be around babies, around pregnant women. Of course, of course, of course.


Then I started feeling insecure about my grief at one point, maybe a year or so after the Event, as though the real down-n-dirty shock and sadness had passed, and what was left was some kind of drugged-out, candy-coated, corrupt form of leftover backwash grief. Almost this fake, high-feeling, grief-like sensation that wasn't really grief, more just like I'd sniffed gasoline and was doing crazy things as a result. Like breaking down suddenly or snapping at Kevin and blaming it on the stillbirth. Always the stillbirth's fault. I was a classic Pain-a-holic.

In early spring this year, I started feeling...freed somehow, as though this vague weight was being lifted gradually off my shoulders. I began to notice that I wasn't really talking about dead babies anymore, or thinking about Zachary every hour like I used to. With a few exceptions, being around babies and knocked-up ladies didn't bother me anymore, for the most part.

(For the record, I credit this "recovery," I guess, to the simple passage of time, for it certainly had nothing to do with anything I was doing. I was never one to actually work on healing or recovering, or even grieving properly. I just took hits blindly and emoted haphazzardly, skipped the support groups and books and yoga and what-nots, drank a shit-ton of coffee and beer, and hoped for the best.)

So yeah, time was what it took. I felt I had sobered up.


* * *


These past few weeks, I've felt like I'm relapsing. It's coming back, creepy crawly stillbirth-momma-condition clinging to me, like an old drug buddy just offered me a bong hit "just for the fun of it" and I said what the hell. Now it's back - that pain-high. It's the pregnancy that does it, I'm pretty sure, for that's the only variable that's really changed as of late.

Here was my first clue: a buddy at work whose wife is 12 weeks pregnant e-mailed to see if Kev and I had talked about baby names yet. I could've just said "no" like a normal, sober, clear-minded human being. But I just had to gussy up my reply with more dramatic than that, something like this:

"No, we haven't started thinking about names, since this is our fourth pregnancy. There's a 50% chance this won't work out anyway since it's a boy, so we're just keeping our fingers crossed and hoping a living baby will come out of it. Then we'll name him."


Immediately after hitting "send," I felt bad. I wished I could have taken it back. It was like this old-me coming through all of a sudden, the gloom-n-doom me who was high on pain for a year-and-a-half, dredging it up and wearing it boldly, daring anyone to challenge it.

Why couldn't I give this guy just a simple, friendly response without bringing up that whole bitter truth? Why not just let him have his innocent and happy little e-mail exchange with a fellow expecting parent? What was I hoping for - some kind of sympathetic response? I felt like one of those people I've always been afraid to become: putting it out there all the time - I'M A DEAD-BABY MOMMA AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT! - to the point where the world grows tired of the subject, and, even worse, to the point where I'm really just clinging to this pain-crutch as an excuse to not engage in normal discourse with another human.

Here's where I was hoping all of that old emotion would go, once I started feeling something toward this current pregnancy other than "oh fuck:"




Yup, shed to the floor like a snake skin. What I want to be is this: an innocent, perky, fresh-faced, fresh-minded knocked-up gal whose eyes light up at Motherhood Maternity, who can in fact indulge the pesky cashier with personal information and due dates without becoming a hypersensitive bitch from hell, who can eagerly engage in e-mail conversations with other expecting parents about car seats and slings other baby-related crap. I was that preggo person once, way back when.

But now, the old sludge follows me around and I can't seem to shake it: a darkened arc of anxiety rising up sometimes, eclipsing the turquoise arc of happy hopefulness that comes when I feel little fetal feet fluttering against my insides. There IS that 50% risk thing for this boy fetus, too dreadful and incomprensible for my own mind to process, and best saved for another post when I'm really on a pain-high.

For now, I'm going to focus on being a normal, sober person with a naked, hopeful heart.

And cheeseburgers. I'm focusing on cheeseburgers.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Laughing Through the Pissed-ness

Howdy KuKd/TTCers and Inquisitive Guests,

Boy, am I pissed! And boy, am I smiling through the pissedness!

But before I dive into smiling-rant-mode, let me start with the warm-n-fuzzy: thanks - of course - for the outpouring of support and congrats and all the wonderful things that I was hoping I'd manage to milk from the crowd. I love that stuff. I inhaled it like a cocaine-dusted cappucino cupcake. And thanks for not thinking of me as a completely insane freak, or - if you did think of me as such - withholding that information for now. I like knowing that other people have their fingers crossed for this maybe-baby. It makes me feel less alone inside my head.


You are now hoping this will now become a pregnancy-ticker kind of blog, aren't you? Complete with dancing infant-cherub graphics circling in loops around the text, and a flashing time-counter displaying the precise number of days and minutes until the due date? You want weekly (or daily!) ultrasound images displayed, specifically those 3-D kind that make a fetus resemble a Claymation alien, with genetalia enthusiastically circled in white marker. After my last post, you ran off to tell your friends and neighbors: GUESS WHAT! This blogger named Monica is this thing called 'pregnant' - it's a really unique and exotic condition that, nobody else on earth ever experiences! I hope she narrates every living second of it in great detail!

Right?

Well, sorry to be the breaker of bad news, but this isn't going to be a pregnancy-ticker kind of blog. Hell, you might not even hear a single solitary peep out of me about this "Normal Male" (direct quote from the laboratory) until he/it emerges from my pelvis in one form or another - not unless something extraordinarily interesting or hilarious happens. Not because I'm specifically avoiding the topic, but because what's there to say, really?


It's a fetus. It's a pregnancy. It's a condition that - just by being what it is - stings to hear about if you're a TTC/infertility-fighting sister. I realize that. It's a pregnancy just like any other of the godzillions of pregnancies that occur all over the world. It resulted from two people boinking like bunnies. It might result in a baby. It might not. I hope it does. I fear it won't. I'm getting fat. I eat lots of red meat and pickles. I still drink coffee, just about 1/200th of what I used to. I had a few deliciously naughty sips of Kevin's Curveball Ale in bed the other afternoon, where we were lying in a naked state after some deliciously naughty (if not slightly cumbersome) sex. I sleep during the day, and wake up fretfully at night. I get nosebleeds throughout the day. I feel flutters that could be fetal twig-limbs, or just gas from prune-overdose. That's it.


See how boring that is? There's SO much more riveting stuff to talk about, such as the fact that:

I'M PISSED!


* * *


Did I mention that I'm pissed? Did I say that at the beginning of this post, or did I forget? In case I forget, let me repeat:

I'M PISSED!

It it has to do with a corporate chain store, specifically this one hulking bitch called Motherhood Maternity, which preys on excited pregnant ladies ready to spend their cash. I went there yesterday, braving the Saturday afternoon mall-crowds, despite my better judgment, despite the knowledge that the employees there are ravenously sales-oriented, fake-perky, relentless about soliciting personal contact information and baby due dates so they can "keep track" of such things and send you lots of crap in the mail forever. At least they did back when I shopped there a few times in 2007, a fact about which I was grimly reminded for about 1.5 years after Zach's death with monthly formula samples and "your child just turned one! here's a 50%-off coupon for blah-blah-blah!" (I did call to stop these mailings, but was ignored - so I began using them as toilet paper and snot-scrapers).

I had a goal when I went back to Motherhood Maternity yesterday: to buy one simple item, an elastic band that you wear around the top of your regular pants when you start looking like this, and can no longer button your jeans:



Muffin top, muffin top.
Lovely beautiful muffin top.
I know it's the burgers, not being knocked up.
But eating is great, and I shall not stop!

ANYWAY.


I brought my elastic tummy-band to the counter and handed over my credit card. Predictably, the perky cashier asked when my due date was so she could put it "in the system."


Now, most pregnant girls, I realize, would eagerly and excitedly squeal something like: MARCH 15th! It's a boy! His name is going to be Snuffy! We're so excited! Thanks so much for asking, for wondering, for CARING about me! You must really care about your customers! I LOVE this store! You guys are like my best friend! I'll be back here LOTS of times! With my money! So we can talk about my due date again and you can help me by cute clothes!!!!

"Um, I actually don't like giving out that kind of information, " I said.

She sort of blinked at me and then narrowed her eyes a bit, probably thinking by now: ah. One of THOSE tight-assed, tight-walleted, tight-lipped customers. Not the type of gushing, bubbling shopper we like and expect in here.

"Well, I'll just pick a random date for you, then," she said, "just so we have something in the system. Have you been here before, so I can look you up?"

"No," I lied. Really, it was in the best interest of everyone to withhold the truth: her interest, my interest, and the interest of the growing line of silent women forming directly behind me. No need to bring up my prior shopping experiences there, that little reminder of a past...era, you could call it.

"Really? You haven't been here before?" She was eyeing me suspiciously. "What's your phone number?"

"I'd rather not say," I said. For in saying my phone number, she might in fact find me in the system, which would give away my bold-faced lie.

"Address, then?"

"We've moved around a lot, and we're moving again soon. So I don't, um, really have an address."

This was beginning to feel like a police interrogation session, not a shopping experience at the mall. You know, the big goof-up that interrogated criminals always make in movies is that they say too much, and then they end up saying something that contradicts something they said earlier, getting themselves deeper and deeper into a web of lies. I should have known that, but instead, I muttered: "Last time I did that, you guys sent me junk mail and baby formula samples for like...a year and a half. Anyway, what's the total? I'm kind of in a hurry."

"So you HAVE been here before!" she said. "I knew it!"

She ran credit card through the little machine, and I heard a little affirmative beeping sound, cringing at the sound of it.

"See? You're right here! Monica LeMoine. You came in here...let's see....2007 with a baby due in October. So this is your second child! Your other one must be...what...just two years old now? How exciting is that!!!"

Well, fuck. ExACTly what I was afraid of, that it would lead to this awkward and staticky moment, the women
behind me silently waiting and overhearing our every word, not even any background music to talk beneath. Didn't I call it? So what do ya do? You have four options.

1) Grin and lie, just to save everybody face. "Yeah! The kid is fine! Just turned two! This is my second kid I'm pregnant with now! You're so right! It's like, so exciting I'm about to shit my motherfucking pants! WOO-HOO BABY!"


2) Get a steely look and hit her with the truth: the hardcore, sludgy, emotional, gloppity-gloop truth. Just put it right out there for everybody to feel awkard about. She sort of deserved to have that particular mudpie thrown in her face, wouldn't you say?

3) Pretend to have a seizure and suddenly collapse on the floor so the mall security has to come and cart you away. That way, you get to avoid answering her question. You don't get your muffin-top stopper, but no big deal - they have them at Target.


4) Change the subject abruptly to something completely random. "Oh, by the way, do you have any advice for excessive vaginal discharge? I mean, I know you're a sales associate and not a doctor, but I thought that...since...you're like my best friend all of a sudden, you might be able to give me some girlfriend-wisdom."

* * *

I went with option two. I hindsight, I wished I'd had the ingenuity and/or calmness of spirit to go with 1, 3, or 4. But two was the one that happened.

"Um, that kid was stillborn. Which is why I don't like giving out my mailing address - because you kept sending me stuff for a like eighteen months afterward even though I called to have that stopped."

And ya know what? She reacted the way I guess any old schmuck might have:

SHE LAUGHED!!! Kind of a smirky chuckle, rather, and said: "Noooo."

It was the sort of "noooo" you say when someone tells you something and you can't tell if they're being sarcastic, or you flat-out think they're pulling the wool over your eyes. As if you're listening to someone who lies and jokes about stuff all the time, lying as I'd lied just now, so you don't trust them to tell the truth. Or, perhaps it was it just too much for her little pea-brain to handle, the brutal notion that something *bad* might happen (gasp!), even in the midst of the happy bouncy fluorescent retail lighting and the happy bouncy maternity clothes and posters of happy bouncy pregnant women gracing the walls! Even in happy bouncy Motherhood Maternity land, where EVERYone yammers about due dates and stocks up on clothes and is just thrilled to be a part of this awesome world!

"I'm serious. He died."

The quiet line of ladies behind me suddenly got quieter, and somebody coughed. The lipsticked cashier kind of looked at me in this strange way, as if seriously debating whether to believe me or not - I could see this little mental machine behind her narrowed eyes, ticking away.

"Well, okay then. That'll be $16.99, please." (overpriced, yes, but a necessary accessory)

And it was all business from there on out. Print receipt, sign, simple nod of "thanks," and then "NEXT PLEASE!"

As I was scurrying out of there clutching my bag, I hear her ask perkily and with great hopes for a return to normalcy: "So! When's YOUR due date?"

* * *

It was one of those experiences that felt like I'd been sucked up into an alternate universe, forced to engage in awkward discourse with a stranger who spoke a totally different language, and then spit back out into the mall parking lot. I guess she had a right to laugh disbelievingly, for I was being a bit of a pill, after all, what with all my cranky withholding of personal information AND straight-up lying to her face. I cranked up the hip-hop station and jammed to Jay-Z on my drive home, and it wasn't until I pulled up in front of our house and turned off the engine that it came, as it sometimes does: an awareness.

Awareness, suddenly, of something not being there. Hollow shell of a child, invisible yet with a glassy outline like Wonder Woman's cartoon airplane, toodling around my feet and cramming Cheerios into his mouth. A two-year-old, not there. You'd think you wouldn't notice somebody not being there any more, two years later. I mean, it's not like I still miss my Smashing Pumpkins Gish CD years years after I accidentally tossed it into the garbage pile when we left Arkansas. But I guess CDs are babies are different. Who knew.

Fortunately - happy ending, happy ending! - my muffin-top is now happily contained, and last night I hit a night club with my brother and a gaggle of friends. We shook our booties to a hip-hop DJ, and - the best part - even Kevin made it out to the dance floor. After a few shots of tequilla, that is.

Who said mommies of invisible glass-outlined kids who aren't really there can't dance! :-)