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Thursday, November 26, 2009

To the Newly Knocked Down

Ask a Dead-Baby-Momma: SPECIAL HOLIDAY COLUMN!

To my friends overseas: you may or may not know that today is Thanksgiving Day over here in les Etats Unis. Ahhh, Thanksgiving: day to gather around a large dead bird on a plate, carve off its flesh, and cram forkfuls of it into our mouths! A day of reconvening lovingly with family and friends, interspersed with hiding in a dark corner room and writing blog posts instead (although what kind of anti-social loser would do that?)! A day, in theory, to be consciously grateful for what we have (like each other) and don't have (like bubonic plague).

Yet for some, it's hard day too. There's something about these supposedly joyful and festive days that can be oddly depressing, particularly if the things you do have only serve as reminders of what you don't have. It sort of reminds me of that statistic that suicide rates in freezing-arse cold countries tend to skyrocket during the warm summer months. I wonder if it's because you think to yourself: The sun is shining and I'm supposed to be happy right now, dammit! But I'm not. So I suck. Has anyone seen my gun lately?

Family holidays: likewise.

This Thanksgiving (yes, even I should be helping my mother-in-law stir the pot of creamed onions right now, but as your Dead Baby Momma advice giver, I felt it my duty to sneak away for a moment), I sense this strange, cosmic presence of the Newly Knocked-Down Mommas out there, hovering nearby. Perhaps it's because lately, I've gotten an inordinate number e-mails and hellos from people with losses as recent as this year, or this month, or even this week. I don't know if KuKd is a seasonal disorder or what, but it sure feels that way as of late.

At any rate, I felt compelled to reach out to those mommas whose Thanksgiving days - or whose other holidays coming up - aren't as joyful as they could have been, or would have been, or should have been. If only that much-anticipated thing had happened, that particular human being were here and alive on earth as originally intended. Holidays would feel different this year, closer to how they look the Hallmark commercials.

Here we go.

* * *

Dear Newly Knocked Down Mommas and Daddas:

Which do you want first: the good news or the bad news?

Let's start with the bad: holidays like this one are going to just plain suck for a while. Somebody will be missing from the table - and that's a fact you can't avoid noticing, no matter how lovely the food and conversation otherwise is. You'll sense that missing person more acutely than others will, and that's not fun. It's sort of like Big Bird imagining his friend Snuffaluffagus - a friend that nobody else can see - except that in your case, you're imagining...a ghost, a lack, an absence.

Furthermore, it's unlikely that anyone will want to explicily mention the baby that isn't there, even if you happen to desperately want to talk about him or her. You may find yourself feeling hurt or frustrated by this fact.

Keep in mind that other people's trauma is beyond the conversational comfort zone of most people, especially on a supposedly joyful holiday occasion. Think about it: you've probably been on the flip side before, sidled up next to a person whose mother or father or grandparent or pet cat just died. How comfortable would you feel saying, "Can you pass the salt, please? Oh, and I'm sorry your grandmother died such a horrible and drawn-out death filled pain. The biscuits are delicious, by the way!" That said, most people - with occasional exceptions - are fully aware of that missing person at the table and saddened in their own way, because your loss is theirs too. Baby-death is a blow to the entire community. There just aren't any clear-cut rules for how to talk about it.


And now, the good news:

1) Escape'em or face'em: this year especially, you have a carte blanch to do whatever in fuck's name you feel like doing when it comes to the holidays. Never mind the traditions, never mind what others think is best for you, never mind what your family wants. They'll deal with whatever you decide to do. You're in survival mode right now, as you should be - so confer with your partner if you have one, and come up with a plan to do the least hurtful, most awesome thing this holiday season. You just got screwed beyond belief, so pamper yourself! You can do what this Dead-Baby-Momma did just four months after KuKdx2: cancel all the family holiday plans and take off to Ecuador with a hunk-o-husband and an overstuffed backpack. Or, if family is what you need, do it. Follow your gut instinct.

2) Things get better. They really do. Have faith in yourself to uncover coping mechanisms you never knew you had, to find your own ways to balance grieving with healing. News flash: they happen at the same time, without you even knowing it! So even as you sit at the holiday dinner table feeling like a big ball of shit, that shit-feeling is part of your healing journey. Aside from your own powerful psyche and soul, the simple passage of time is another one of nature's greatest healers. If you happen to be a Newly Knocked-Downer, you haven't much time under your belt to soothe the rawness and help scar tissue form. But as time goes by, your loss will get folded deeper inside of you, and next year's holidays will be easier than this year's. Just by being here on this blog, reading these words, you are in the presence of lots and lots of ladies - and gentlemen - who get it, and who can attest to the truth if these statements. Things will get better.

* * *

My confession: this Thanksgiving, for me, is filled with hope and...well...thankfulness. Let me admit that outright. I write this post from the hopefully-not-perceived-as-smug position of someone who's had time - two years and three months, to be exact - to get to a better, more psychologically sound place than were I was during the holiday season of 2007. I have my brooding, melancholy moments, of course; but at the same time, I'm thankful for so much. I could list the things I'm thankful for here, but they're just the usual cliche things that everybody else is thankful for. Stillbirth has changed all of us - me, Kevin, our families. Now there's a new ball of baby-hope growing in my torso, casting a sheen of glowing anticipation on everything us all. But even before that ball of baby-hope formed, I was already in an infinitely better place than I was a year ago, two years ago - simply due to the passage of time, and the human mental power to heal.

You can take that as a stomach-punch, which is precisely what I did for a year or so after Zach's death: screw you for being farther along that healing track than I am, for being in that more peaceful place that I can hardly even see through the fog of my own hellish misery!

Or you can take it as reassurance that, like I said, things get better.

* * *

In short, enjoy your holidays this year, or hate them. Both emotions are useful in their own way, and necessary parts of the grieving and living process. Your challenge is to be forgiving of others around you, forgiving of cruel facts you can't control, and faithful in yourself to do what's right for you. And if you can't make up your mind, ask that man of yours (or woman of yours) to take the lead and book you both tickets to a kick-arse spa retreat. Pack lots of Kleenex and baby memorabilia for your sad moments, sexy undies for your sex moments, a notebook for your thoughtful moments, and a cell phone for those moments when you're craving Mom or Dad's voice.

Hey all you KuKd veterans - c'mon, am I right or am I right? And any other Thanksgiving words of wisdom you can offer to our more recent forced-inductees into the warped world of baby death?

Monday, November 23, 2009

In Search of WOW!

Greetings, Folks!

First, the basic 411 for anyone who happens to be inquiring: the testicle-equipped fetus is alive and thriving, with a four-chamber heart that is pumping actively. Aliveness: that's all that I, my cautiously eager parents, and my even more cautiously eager husband can hope for. On the ultrasound screen today, which I peered at alongside my uber-smart-specialist-doctor-lady who essentially knows everything about everything, I saw his little fetal fists moving up and down as though he were doing the Mashed Potato or a frenzied ethnic dance. The doctor laughed, and I laughed too - hard enough to expel what my friend N calls a "pee pellet." Don't ask.


* * *

Moving on.

I walked home from my ultrasound appointment today in one of my belly-poppin' shirts. A young, fresh-faced guy waited beside me at the corner, and turned to ask how far along I was. Nearly six months, I told him in the normal, non-excited, matter-of-fact (even a little bit flippant about the whole thing?) voice that usually surfaces when I talk about such things. His eyes lit up and he extended his hand.

"I'm Taylor! My wife's six-months pregnant too! See her over there in the car across the street? Look, she's waving! Ours is a boy. What's yours?"

I glanced up and waved back, and then shook his hand. Ours was a boy too, I told him. This was their first pregnancy; I could tell by the sheen in his eyes and the number of white teeth showing in his youthful grin.

"WOW!" he said. "Both of us with boys!"

I know. Theoretically, yeah: it was a WOW! moment. We stood there a few seconds longer, shuffling our feet and talking small-talk, and it came up that they had just moved to Seattle. There was a distinct moment where I sensed him about to state the obvious: we should all hang out sometime. But I said something silly like "well, bye!" and turned to dash across the street before either of us could say it.

* * *

You know what I want? What I had for a fleeting moment on that street corner, my hand enclosed in that guy's warm palm with our breath showing in the chilly air, my eyes locking for a split second with his wife's in the car across the street?

I want that WOW!-feeling.

I've had it before, of course. You might have had it too: that first-time pregnancy high that overcomes you the minute that pink plus-sign shows up, like you've just inhaled happy-drugs off a smoking joint of joy. Give that pregnancy-high to someone like me, one of the most uber-social and extroverted people I know, and here's what I would normally do: ask this guy for his phone number, dammit, because dude - we should totally hang out, the four of us! Soon to be six of us! His wife and I could be friends! WOW! We should start scoping out baby-friendly bars together! Let's build a heady friendship, one in which we all deliver around the same date in March and send each other flowers. WOW!

But what prevails in the end is my own scrooge-like attitude: I can't relate to you, and you can't relate to me. Period. This makes for a very lonely pregnancy experience. I wonder sometimes if it's like this for all KuKd-prego gals: lonely. Things aren't as simple as they used to be.

I arrived home and found myself searching online for prego groups in Seattle, almost desperate to regain that sense of...what...belonging? That WOW! feeling that I had before, but that's now dried up? The "Urban Expecting Parent Group" that I started while pregnant with Zach is still there nearly three years later, burgeoning with so many hundreds of prego peeps that the site now says: "closed to new members." Fuck that noise! I could go back there, boasting about myself as the ORIGINAL FOUNDER, thank you very much, and they'd have to let me back in!

(wouldn't they?)

And even if they didn't, I could start a NEW group of my very own! BOO-YA!

But then I realized, just being with a bunch of first-time prego gals might not be the "tribe" for me, tribe-lover that I am. It might not actually bring back that first-time communal prego-high that I miss, and want. I'd probably taint their giddy atmosphere with my scrooge-like cynicism. In fact, I might hate it there altogether, being with those gals, pretending to be someone I'm not, hiding Zachary from them because there wouldn't be a place for him in the conversation. In the end, I decided maybe I'm looking up the wrong tree for my tribe.

Suddenly, I remembered the local "Pregnancy After Loss" support group that meets the last Tuesday of every month at Children's Hospital. That would be tomorrow - yipeee! Now if there were ever a tribe for me, it would be that, right there! Just imagine: a whole roomful of prego KuKd-gals who get it, who understand that weird, special variation of muted excitement that comes with pregnancy after a shitstorm of other pregnancies-gone-awry! That would be my WOW! moment - I just knew it!

But after a bit of quick research, I discovered the group no longer exists.
I could practically hear those horns of disappointment in my mind: wah-waaaahhhhh - like a stand-up comedian's joke had just flopped.

Ah well. It's not so bad. As I bumble through this one on my own, at least I know I've got my mother calling every day to check in, my husband keeping firm watch like a military guard, a blog to post on from time to time. And if I get REALLY desperate, I could always post an ad in the "Missed Connections" section of the newspaper, looking for that guy again and his six-month pregnant wife. I wonder if they'd remember me.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Planet 174 to Planet 41

Greetings, Guests-n-KuKd/TTC'ers!

Ahhhhh, the 174 and the 41. Everyone knows what I'm talking about, right? I'm talking, of course, about the #174 and #41 Seattle city busses. They look the same (like busses). They act the same (like busses). Yet, they may as well be vehicles from two separate planets, given the vast differences in their purposes, the clientel that they serve, and the sorts of daily adventures I have on them going to and from work.

The 41 - the first segment on my trip to work - is the express bus to downtown from the northern edge of the city. You step on that bus and ZOOM - off you go, straight down the interstate with no other stops. Five minutes later, you step into Seattle's thick downtown-scape of noise and skyscrapers and urban excitement. Everyone looks and acts proper on this bus, sitting quietly and reading the newspaper or typing on their laptops until arrival. Nobody talks or passes gas, or tries to sneak on board without paying. People get on and off quickly and seamlessly, whipping out their shiny bus passes furnished by their corporate or government jobs. And at the end of their 9-5 jobs, the calm and lovely 41 whisks them effortlessly back out of that urban grit, into moderately suburban serenity and the exurbs beyond.

And then there's the 174: the second part of my commute. Now the 174 is the salt-of-the-earth sort of bus where the REAL PEOPLE ride, baby! We keep it REAL on the 174! This bus runs up and down Pacific Highway, two and around the airport, past grungy strip malls into pseudo-urban and dilapidated suburban hell. Here, you've got more than just oh-so-environmentally-conscious commuters dipping one safe little toe into downtown life. Here, you've got real people who rely on the bus to get around. Mommas with three kids hauling grocery bags; crazies talking to themselves; immigrants dressed in a million different ethnic garbs; hoards of teenagers - mostly black and Hispanic - talking loudly (and profanely, even!) while blasting their boom boxes.

When you ride this bus, you better not have issues with personal space - because it's pretty much guaranteed: people are going to cuss in your ear, shout into their cell phones, body slam you when they sit down, and fart loudly. And this bus will always, ALWAYS be late - because nobody every has bus passes to quickly flash at the drive. People only have crumpled bills and coins, and usually not enough.

* * *

I've got so many stories from the past few years of cruising around on these two busses that I could write a full book of vignettes. But I'll start with one from last week, because it relates - kinda - to the subject of babies. And I've got another even juicier one, too - one from this very evening - which I'll save for later.

This one has to do with me in my white, puffy Michelin-Man-looking winter coat that my mom lent me. It's stuffed with fake feathers or something, and very, very, puffy-n-fluffy. Now, at nearly 6-months preggers, I'm already fairly rotund. With my mom's white coat on, snapped around my chin with a gigantic fur-ringed hood enveloping my face, I truly look like the Pilsbury Dough Boy crossed with Big Foot. And, I forgot to remind my mom that I + White Colors = Disaster, given my tendency to spill everything on myself.

So, I was wearing my coat on the 174 on my way to work one morning last week, innocently grading essays, when BAM - it happened: blood started pouring from my nose in rivulets. It happens a lot these days: random bloody noses. My whole body is just engorged with blood. It happens in class, it happens at night, it happens while I'm in the grocery store - so I should have known it would happen right then when I had no Kleenex or anything even similar to Kleenex, AND had my mom's gleaming puffy white coat snapped around my chin.

First, of course, I yanked off that coat, examining it briefly for blood stains - of which I saw just a small one near the bottom seam. Then, I tried sucking down my nosebleed for a while - making these deep, gutteral, disgusting snorting sounds in an effort to swallow all that metallic-y, bloody, snotty, spitty goodness. It sort of sounded like I was hawking a loogie, but a backwards one. And, being already closely surrounded by weird, old, bad-smelling men making similar phlegmy coughing sounds (and even spitting directly onto the floor of the bus, I might add), I didn't feel so bad about joining the chorus of 174-sounds.

But sucking down a bloody nose can only get you so far, as all you chronic nosebleed-havers can attest. I really, really, really needed a tissue.

There was a brief break in the blood flow, so I used that time to rummage frantically through my bag for an old napkin or a piece of cloth, an antique American flag, a Maxi-pad, a banana peel, an envelope, a magazine, SOMETHING I could use to catch blood from my nose. But there was nothing but pens, a jump drive, a tube of chapstick, and a bunch of keys on a key chain. Nothing that would do me much good. And with my newly cropped hair cut, I couldn't even use my dark brown tresses of hair as a makeshift hankerchief (ahhh, how I miss the days when I could use my hair as emergency dental floss!).

With a long while still to go on my trip, I had to resort to the one and only thing that could be used to scrape blood off my upper lip: my student essays, of course. I rifled through them and found one with just half a sentence or so on the last page, ripped it out of its staped position, crumpled it up, and there it was. My pointy, sharp, totally uncomfortable excuse for a Kleenex.

But hey, it worked. And I'm pretty sure that student didn't know what he was missing.

Oh, one of the coughing, stringy-haired men sidled up beside me did give me a couple of long stares - I could feel his eyes on me. But I didn't mind. I felt like one of them: part of the proud, gritty 174 crew!

* * *

Coming soon: tonight's completely and utterly different encounter on that OTHER bus, the 41.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Hot Soldier Stillbirth Dad

Greetings, KuKd/TTCers and Inquistive Guests!

This post is about me being a self-serving little bitch. Sort of.

But first, I was trying to find the perfect representative image of a man whose oft-knocked-down-wife is pregnant once again. Pregnancy! What was once a safe and happy cake-walk is now a landmine-filled endeavor fraught with hidden dangers that even the most intellectully keen, foresightful, specially trained elite army forces can't predict or control!

Man becomes military scout on the constant lookout for danger:



Or maybe this:



(I don't know about you, but I'm going with image number 2. That's him, my Hot Soldier Stillbirth Daddy-O! Notice his manly package, powerfully capable of producing mass quantites of offspring (ahem, non-viable offpsring - but we'll ignore that detail for now). So enormous that even the whatever-you-call-that-thing on a machine gun can hardly hide it!)

To this particular man of mine, even the most seemingly ordinary and obvious information - like "the fetus just kicked" or "the ultrasound showed that he's alive and has the appropriate number of eye sockets" - is reassuring. When I tell him those things, I feel like the colonel relaying good news to the general: "Sir, we've secured stability in that one random little dusty town in northern Iraq!"

These conversations give me some selfish satisfaction, not just because I like seeing my man happy, but because for some reason it always feels good to be extra-nice to a soldier. You want to...like...send him a care package with fresh-baked cookies and glossy porn mags or other happy-making fodder. You're so grateful for his protective and manly abilities, his sacrifices, that you want to protect him in return - in whatever lame-ass way that you can.

Part of that means protecting him from negative information. Does anyone else have memories of your parents or grandparents protecting you from bad news, particularly when it hasn't been verified yet? Like deaths and illnesses in the family - I mean real bad news? My mom does it, K's mom does it. Always have. To me, that's what it means to be a seasoned, mature handler of bad news. You could succumb to your own fear and emotion, immediately calling everyone on the planet to rope others into your pool of anxiety. Or, you could wait until you have all the facts before you jump to conclusions and freak out your loved ones (potentially unnecessarily).

* * *

I like to think of my KuKdx3 status, my ripe old age of 33, as an opportunity to be like my and K's mothers are, and have always been. To be a wise and seasoned handler of potentially scary news. But ya know what?

I'm failing miserably at it.

It came up a few days ago, when there was blood in the toilet, twice. It was one of those things where I looked down at the water and went FUCK, with little alarm bells going off loudly inside my head. K was at the gym playing b-ball and had a fun night planned with his guy-friends after that. So it was kind of like: do I call him or not? Do I chill the hell out until I have some facts straight, or succumb to the almost overpowering urge call him to babble about this possible deadly sign, knowing it will worry him to pieces?

I tried for a while to be the mature, level-headed, Zen-like wife. I tried to wait it out for a day or two before calling the doctor, even. Honestly, I tried. But after about an hour or so, I was like fuck Zen! and impulsively the consulting nurse, who of course ordered me to come in right away "to get monitored," as I knew she would. And once that happened: BAM! I simply HAD to call up K, left without any choice but to inform him of my whereabouts!

"Hey dude," I said. "EVERYTHING IS OKAY, but I'm heading into the hospital so they can take a look at my cervix. I'M SURE THAT EVERYTHING IS OKAY, so don't worry. SINCE EVERYTHING IS OKAY, don't bother coming over here - just go do your guys' night as planned."

That led to him calling every fifteen minutes to check in as I lay there with little suction-cup thingies all over my belly and a monitor showing peaks and valleys of fetal heartbeats, even in the midst of his guys' night out.

Now, here's the part that makes me a self-serving little bitch, REALLY unlike my mother, or K's mother, or any other normal mature female who puts others before herself and looks after her "brood" if you could call it that: I actually kinda liked that he was getting up and leaving his guy-friends every so often to call, that he was using this particular worried-man voice that makes my heart go pitter patter. It's this kind of taut, serious male voice with undertones of concern. Not flipping out and bawling into the phone or anything, just this checking-in voice. I find it awesomely sexy. Awesomely awesome, actually, to be paid attention to.

What I really learned that night is this: as seasoned and wise and mature I'd like to think my KuKd past has made me, really I'm just as much the attention-loving fiend as I always was. I wonder if I'll ever be able to keep my own anxieties in check, setting aside my needs for the sake of others.

Oh, and one more thing this made me ponder: maybe the only reason people REALLY ever send care-packages to soldiers overseas is to make ourselves feel better. ;-)

(For the record, everything was OK, fetas-wise anyway. I discovered this morning that the blood is in my stools, not coming from "that other canal." I ran into the kitchen to announce this groundbreaking news to K, just so that - yes - so that someone else on the planet could be mildly concerned right alongside me. He was concerned, as I knew and hoped he'd be, and immediately Googled "blood stools during second trimester." Seems like it could be nothing, so I'm keeping an eye on it for now. It felt good, nonetheless, to have someone Googling on my behalf. See? See how self-serving I am?)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Comfort Zones and Cock-Blockers

Greetings, KuKd/TTC'ers Tribespeople and Inquisitive Guests!

Sometimes on this blog, I find myself tripping over words, wondering if certain feelings are okay to talk about. Like the great big pink box with the word "YAY!" on my last post. It was how I felt: yay. Holy yay, batman. But was it cool to be so yay-ish and all in public? Was it obnoxious of me? There was a point in writing that post when I sort of paused and looked out the window at Seattle's slate-gray sky, and thought: I'm tired of this post already. So I did myself a favor, at the very least, and kept it short. Ish.

A couple of weeks ago, some friends and I were sitting around the dining room table. One guy started to tell about some event coming up next week, stopped after the third word, and said: "Never mind. I'm already tired of my own story."

There are several things that make me feel that exact way whenever I talk about them in mixed company, and numero uno is my knocked-up-ness. Just plain tired my own story, like my lips are moving but really I'm thinking about bacon-wrapped bacon. Which is why I can't bring myself to say much about it here (pregnancy, not bacon), unless something really noteworthy is going on, like last week's first big heart test.

Oh, of course there are a very few key people I can vomit out words to about it for hours on end. I'm talking people like parents, husband, and two or three best-est of best-est friends who deliberately ask and want to know about the current condition of my uterus. And prego-buddies and their accompanying sperm-producers, who want to talk shop about names-n-stuff. To them, I can gladly give a shameless earful. But pregnancy? Here on this blog? With 99% of people in my life?

Nah.

Here's my current theory as to why that's the case.

This past weekend I caught up on some much-neglected blog-o-reading. And let me tell you, not that you don't know this already: there is a lot of sad, painful stuff going on out there among this great big group of KuKd/TTC blog-o-peeps. Perfectly decent, wonderful, goregous, goodhearted and intelligent women miscarrying - people who want nothing more than the one thing that so many others produce so easily: a biological child. People's IVF treatments failing. People realizing that they might not ever get this thing they want. People grappling with huge issues that force them to really take stock of their lives, make hard decisions, and come to terms with loss in their own way.

Now, I simply can't read about...say...Shaz's or Parenthood for Me's stories, feel intensely sad about that - which I do - and then plop down on the sofa with a big smile on my face and crank out some story about: "WOO-HOO BABY! LOOK AT ME AND MY PREGNANT SELF! GOD, MY BOOBS ARE JUST ACHING AND ENGORGED WITH PRE-MILKY PLEASURE! MY VAGINA IS RIPE AND ACHING TO BE STRETCHED TO DIAMETER OF A SOCCER BALL!"

Totally oustide my comfort zone. The words don't come to me. Instead, what comes to me are things like: is it okay for me to feel this one thing? And write about it here? Or will I be throwing myself irrevocably off that tightrope-walk that us KuKd-prego-gals have to walk, that we all are faced with when our cervical mucus vaccums up sperm unexpectedly and suddenly - KABOOM - we have that "it" that others don't have, but want? How in the name of hellfucked hell does one pay homage to their own excitements and other people's non-excitements at the same time? And can I do it here?

Not that my comfort zone is the right zone or the wrong zone (more likely wrong, which I usually am). And not that I don't enjoy reading about others' pregnancy ups-n-downs and pregnancy ticker-like updates, living vicariously through them even.

It's just that for me, personally, to post on and on about my knocked-uppage would give me this icky, yucky feeling of having forgotten my roots, forgotten about the core group of people who read this blog regularly, who have supported me since day one and beyond even through their own continued ups and downs. It would be as though I've left my impoverished hometown and won the lottery, only to return in a brand new Escalade with all my fance schmancy jewelry and gadgets. That's how it would feel.

So I remain humble as I feel, keeping my feet planted in the firm, damp, root-filled earth:



rooted alongside the KuKd Tribe I had so much trouble finding in "real life," and - was lucky enough to discover here.

(By the way, just to hammer in this point again: please don't take that as this preachy-ass "would all you happy pregnant people stop talking about it, please?" sort of message. Dude, I'm the last person to give out messages about anything in particular. It's just like, this is my comfort zone. That's it. Just like eating bacon: in my comfort zone. Tofu-loaf: not.)

* * *

For the record, even if I WERE to post something prego-related, it would be something really superficial that nobody in their right mind wants to hear about, like how Kevin recently accused my pregnancy pillow (see image below) of being a cock-blocker.

A cock blocker!

Look, I really don't see how a gigantic Great-Wall-of-China-sized pillow, firmly enclosing my multiple-layers-of-flannel-clothing-over-Texas-sized-Hanes-bloomers-underwear body, preventing me and Kevin from coming within 15 inches of one another before, during, and after bedtime, would be considered a cock-blocker!

Seems a bit of an extreme accusation to make.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Feeling Big

Dear Mother Nature:



We're in the lead so far, bee-yatch! Us: one. You: zero. Despite your tetonic-plate forces shoving people's lives around, Fetus Causing my Torso to Swell (MFCTS) has thus far avoided your sneaky X-linked tricks (good job passing the first heart-test of your fetushood, MFCTS).

I feel big, bigger than this earth, bigger than the tsunami-hail-storm causing forces around me, bigger than my own huge belly. That's me: Big Fat Marge, Large and In-Charge. We humans are all the shit! We are all that and then some - in control of our destinies provided we eat our bran flakes, exercise for 30 minutes a day, brush our teeth, and occasionally do voluntary good works for society. Right? Right! Nothing can stop us from conquering the earth - not even you, Mother Nature! We are winning, you are losing!

* * *

Wait a minute. Isn't it you, Ma' Nature, that makes life in the first place? Aren't you the reason behind the MFCTS' current state of alive-n-thrivingness, thwarting your own tendency to randomly snuff out life? So...um...that must mean you're beating yourself! You're fighting yourself, and beating yourself! Ha ha! Joke's on you!

(?)

(thinking myself in circles)

* * *

Anyway. I'm happy. Kevin's happy. We had great sex today (the decadent rainy-afternoon kind) and now we're off to happy hour, if that's any indication. I'm ordering mozzerella sticks, too - deep fried-n-all. So there!

I don't want a KuKdx4 badge. Keep it, dude. KuKdx3 makes me a reproductive freak as it is. So x4, nuh nuh no. Beating Mother Nature so far makes me feel big, strong, arrogant, triumpant - more powerful than I know I really am. But I'm going to ignore that little bit of Debbie-Downer knowledge creeping in the back of my mind, and feel all artifically high on myself, high on that Fetus, surely a pro-football quarterback in the making. The fact that a Buddist scholar would tell me otherwise, remind me that WE HUMANS ARE PIDDLY LITTLE PAWNS AND NOT AS BIG-ASS BIG AS WE THINK WE ARE, well, I'm ignoring it for a sec. Because losing what you want makes you feel like a beaten down fool, so I'm reveling in the gloating for a minute.

Just for a minute anyway, until the next test comes around. ;-)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Feeling Small

Dear Male Fetus Causing my Torso to Swell (MFCTS):

This week, you will go on a field trip to the Fetal Medicine department to have exotic machines pressed up against the roof of your current dwelling. We will get to watch colored waves of whatever move toward and away from our your heart in green, red and blue spurts of tiny dots. Those green, red and blue spurts of dots will get transferred to a moving line on monitor, which we will stare at dumbly alongside a bunch of people who are WAAAAYYYY smarter than you and me combined. And from that monitor, a bunch of crazy numbers will be generated, which will be charted and reviewed by even SMARTER people, if you can imagine. And then, someone will call us into a fluorsecent-lit room and tell us you're either okay, or you're not.

Why go through all of this? Well, look downward. See that tiny clump of appendages? Those are called your penis-n-balls, otherwise known as your Package, otherwise known as your Family Jewels. Cherish them, because they could end up getting you lots of girls in the future and possibly even a starring role in a porn flick. On the other hand, feel free to hate them, because they are what makes you a Male Fetus. And because you are a Male Fetus, you have high odds of being the keeper of an X-linked genetic heart problem. X-linked means it came from me, a fact about which you can give me flak for later (just know that for every bit of flak that you give, I'll put one dollar less in your college savings fund).

So, the machine pressed against the top roof of your current dwelling is simply something that the smarter-than-us people said we need to do, to check to see how the waves of whatever are going in and out of your heart. We'll do it now, and several times in the future - so get used to it.

Goodness, how terribly I, and everyone in our cautious family, want the news to be: everything is okay. If it's not, the contingency plan is to ditch work for a week, fly to wherever, and try to imagine life without you. Right now, as hard as I'm trying to be cautious about your existence, you're a part of my life - and I hope you stay.

Feeling small, like a tiny, teensy part of a huge world with tetonic plates and other natural forces that move beyond my control. Hopefully they won't push my family over again, swallow us up.

Arright, MFCTS! Machine coming to the roof of your house very soon - get ready! ;-)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Ode to the Baby Makers

Greetings, KuKd Strong'Uns and Inquisitive Guests!

This post is about our perceptions, about how we view our baby-making friends. It's a post in honor of both ourselves and those friends who successfully make babies, and whose mere babies - mere milk-spurting boobs and casual comments about daycare or sleepless nights - cause many of us go ouch. It's an ouch moment because KuKd/TTC hurts women so awfully that it turns us into into alien lifeforms who don't feel the same joy around babies as normal people do (or as we ourselves used to do). For a while, anyway. We become like the ones who didn't get selected for the school drill team with all the popular girls, and we're forced - as mature adults - to do as our mothers would have told us to do back when we were awkward pre-teens: suck it up and be a good sport.

Now, just roll with me on this image here: picture that ONE blond, popular girl - the head of the drill team, so easy to hate because of all the things she has, all the parties you just know she gets invited to, how pretty she is, how she can do a full split in the air and land on her feet. You want to just shrivel up and just hate her to pieces because she's perfect, and she has it all:



The one in the middle. Yeah, that one.

And then, low and behold, she does the unthinkable: she comes up and acts nice to you, treating you like a human being, like a friend - almost unaware, it seems, of the many things she has that you don't, of how treacherous it is to talk to you, of how easily she could say something that would hurt your feelings. It's like, her pure goodness and niceness transcend the fact that she got it, whatever that "it" might be, and you didn't. And then you feel like an insecure shmuck for hating her in the first place.

So, you might already see where I'm going with this analogy (for the record, I was never ever ever brave enough - or even remotely able to imagine myself cool enough - to try out for the middle school drill team), and what the hell that pretty middle girl has to do with *DEAD BABIES!*DEAD BABIES!* (topic of this blog; please picture that phrase in flashing neon lights).

I'll get there, I swear. But first, brief diversion -the kind that people with mild to moderate attention deficit disorder despise. Some necessary background, and then back to the show.

* * *

The past month, I've been bedgrudgingly delving back into my book manuscript. For those of you who are kinda new here: about 4 months after Zach's dirth, I was sitting by myself on a stone ledge in Eduador's teeming capital of Quito feeling like a fat, dead-baby loser with an unnecessarily stretched vagina. It was here, in a small soggy notebook, that I started writing a memoir-ish thing. Not to publish, not because I viewed myself as a *real writer* - just something to write and read and keep and show my grandkids later. If I ever had grandkids. Which I probably wouldn't because my uterus was cursed and the thought of sex made me cringe. Fucker.

Anyway, when you start doing something like that, your mom - who is conditioned to love everything you do, even if it's crapola - goes, "Honey, this is great! You should try to publish it!" So you half-believe her and keep writing, having fun as you do it because it feel so damned good to get these stories out of your system. Next thing you know, a small press says, "Hey, this looks arright. I'll take it." Good timing, because by this point the therapeutic value of writing the story has long dried up, and you're now about so sick of your manuscript that you start calling it a "fuckyouscript" and toy with the idea of lighting it on fire.

But you can't move on yet, even if you're ready , because the publisher comes back and goes: "But wait! Fix these things, and then it'll be ready to go." So you sigh and whine to your husband, feeling like a college student trying to revise a great big project due next week when you'd rather get drunk and go cow-tipping. But finally you do it because you know you'd be screwing yourself if you didn't.

You go back to the beginning of your own story, back to the moment of "miscarriage" first becomes something other than a vague, bad thing that happens only to other people, or back when it first dawned on you that making a baby wasn't going to be as easy as your Catholic nun-teachers made it out to be.

And you start re-feeling those things that you felt at the time.


* * *

OK, back to the real post. Attention deficit disorder people, you can now turn off the cartoons and start listening again.

Right now, as I go back into past moments of my "fuckyouscript," I'm re-feeling old things, remembering what my (warped) perceptions were at the time. It's kind of trippy to do this, to jump out of my current mindset of here, back to a former mindset of there. It's not unlike reading an old handwritten journal from ten or twenty years ago, marveling at the things you thought and felt, how wrong you were in some ways, how insightful you were in others, how ridiculous you sounded in some regards.

I remember feeling like that kid who didn't make the drill team after miscarriage numero uno. Four months to have a miscarriage seemed wholly, stupidly wrong - and everyone else who made it past that 4-month gestation mark suddenly seemed reproductively better and luckier than me. Just out of spite, I wanted to start a KuKd goth club with other gals who "got it" - all of us wear black t-shirts that said something like "Screw You World! We Didn't Want Kids Anyway!" We would pierce our labia and wear black eyeliner and hang out at Denny's with angst-filled, pissed-off expressions on our faces. It would've been cool. I had it all planned out.

But the only friend I knew to invite into my club was J. I knew she'd had a miscarriage somewhere along the line. But it turned out she was hugely pregnant again- which automatically disqualified her from joining my now one-woman club. Dang it.

Later, when pregnant with Zachary, I met other amazing friends - N and C - who of course went on to have their babies (ie: made it to the school drill team!!) after Zach died. Classic story, right? J eventually had another baby, too. So my KuKd goth club remained a one-woman, lonesome affair, with me as president, treasurer, and secretary.

But here's what amazing, what I didn't understand back in during the time when my manuscript takes place, but what I now know through pure hindsight. They all stuck around fearlessly, fiercely, sweetly, confidently, and continued to view me as a friend and human being. Which is to say: they trusted themselves - even in this strange, foreign new reality that was filled with potential land-mines for all of us - to just be there. They were, in fact, like that pretty blond head of the drill team that still comes up and talks to you, even when you slink away with a bit L sign on your forehead.

Just think for a second about much courage it must take for a woman with kids or a kid-in-utero to come up and talk to a KuKd or even TTC woman, to be there for that person as a real friend, even knowing she has something that other person wants so desperately. Imagine how awkward and treacherous it must be for her, and how much easier it would be to run away and hide in Babyland forever. Think of how many opportunities there are to colassally fuck up and say something hurtful without even meaning to (does anyone EVER mean to say hurtful things?), something that will cause that KuKd/TTC woman to post a big'ol rant on her blog about "you'll never guess what insensitive thing so-and-so said to me!"

And why not rant about it? Losing a baby, not getting the baby you want to create, hurts like hell. Totally, undeniably valid feeling. I felt it myself. And I mean, god. All N had to do was like...look at me in a certain way, or mention her son's name once, and I'd go off into a depressed funk for the rest of the day. One offhanded comment from C about baby food or breastfeeding, and BOOM - hurt. I was like this hypersensitive sad person who you could touch with a light index finger and create this huge bruise for days, even weeks.

In hindsight, who in their right minds wants to be around someone like that?

* * *

Good, brave friends. That's who. So my point is this. I look back at my fuckyouscript and see this tug-of-war that was going on in my head back then: needed my baby-maker friends, but at the same time couldn't bear to be near them. For me, now, I need to give utmost credit to N, J and C who - although couldn't be a part of my doomed KuKd goth club, had the pure goodness of heart, courage, comfort in their own skins to not back away from me and Kevin, but keep being our absurdly supportive friends. They had the trust in me to someday return to a relatively normal mental state, one in which I could reciprocate the friendship and support them in return. And, although I'm sure they knew that some things they said - the kids they had - were hurtful to me just because of the way things were, they had faith in me as a human being to someday, one day, see beyond those little unavoidable thorns and embrace, accept the very real friendship lying beneath.

So yeah. I retreated for a bit, but held on. And looking back now, I was nowhere near the baby-supportive friend that they, in turn, needed in these huge moments of their own lives. But they all give me space and time to do that, forgiving me for sinking into my own mind-spaces and uber-neediness for a year-and-a-half or so. THANK GOD, too, because now we have dinner plans coming up - and I get to catch up with my amazing, brave, baby-making friends.

So, Ode to the Baby Maker friends who stick by.