Wednesday, June 26, 2019

When it's too intense

Sometimes there will be a trigger that has no immediacy to pregnancy. A dying bear photographed wandering in Siberia. Dirty lonely children locked up in camps.

Last week I literally felt the cortisol rising in my bloodstream. So I said, ok mamma, let's exercise.  I put in a Zumba DVD and lo and behold, the DVD player was broken. My house's spotty internet connection made streaming a class through my instructor's license impossible.

So I had to go to the gym.  But couldn't find headphones.  I need music to get out of my head.  "Niblet, where are those earbuds I lent you?" "I don't know what you're talking about." We go back and forth.  Viking is getting annoyed because I am starting to lose my shit.  "Just go to the gym," he says, exasperated.  "But I don't have music," I respond, trying not to cry. "You don't need music to work out," he says, "This is getting annoying."

I walked over and got on the treadmill.

No music.  The gym overlooks a swimming pool, I tried to focus and breathe on the blue water.  It didn't help.  My head was exploding, flooded with what I'll just call intrusive thoughts. I barely made it through the next 40 minutes.

I texted him when I was done and switching to the bike:

I don't think you understand. I need music because I am having intrusive thoughts right now. I tried to walk them out. I can't stop them.

The other male in my life, Work Husband and I were just bickering about politics and human existence, as one does when you're me. He can't fathom living in my brain where existential crises and the potential collapse of civilization for millions of vulnerable people due to climate is imminent and cause for tears.  I can't fathom living in his, where because you're personally comfortable you just go on living your daily life and ignore the dumpster fire that is temporarily blocked from outside your house.

I know there are plenty of people in the world who don't have children who are plagued by anxiety.  I also know that having children has probably jacked mine up exponentially.

Holding my baby forces me to calm down, I have a life in my hands, can't drop them, right? But it's not a workable prescription for me.

Unplugging helps.  Particularly from social media.  Walking through the woods or along a beach or even a park will do.  Dancing and listening to music is my crack I guess, the fix that carries me through to the next disaster.

Friday, May 31, 2019


Today is the 10th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. George Tiller.  Dr. Tiller was the 8th abortion provider who was assassinated by fucking losers in the US.  Dr. Tiller provided abortions for women like me, women in their 2nd and 3rd trimesters who discovered their babies were devastatingly doomed. He was acting as a church usher when he was gunned down.

Obviously with the heartbeat bills and abortion bans across the US, Celine has been on my mind. With time, and the cuddles of two daughters who I frankly can't believe co-exist on the same earthly plain, I am getting closer to being able to speak publicly about Celine and the hell of losing her.  And the fortune I had to live in a state where I could say goodbye to her on my terms without the fear of incurring medical debt and the logistics of getting on an airplane.

Actually, all of my losses have been on my mind.  I imagine cops coming to my door in a hypothetical dystopian future where someone's questioned why I had five D&Cs in a row.

That abortion is healthcare is plain as day to any of us who've needed a doctor to surgically remove our miscarriage. That a 2nd trimester abortion is healthcare is plain as day to any one of us who sat with multiple teams of doctors and sonographers, and poured through medical journals and statistics after our babies' diagnoses. Every single goddamn step of my abortion was a fucking medical step.

That any of this is still being battled in state legislatures and ultimately the Supreme Court is sort of mind-boggling when you think of it. That I had a conversation with Viking a few years ago and said, "hey Viking, so you're on the same page, our house will be part of an underground railroad to safely haven and transport women to their abortions if the day ever comes" is off the chain surreal.

Monday, May 13, 2019

There's no such thing as too much love

The other morning Samantha reached out her arms and cried out for her nanny when she walked through the door.

For a moment, I was all "Oh shit, my baby is rejecting me."

My Dad always asks, "Aren't you worried that she will be confused who is her mother?" That stupid comment zipped into my brain.

And then I crushed the stupid comment. There's just no such thing as a baby feeling too much affection from the people around them.  Full stop.

Can I gush for a moment on how fortunate I am to have someone caring for my children who I trust? C is not merely competent.  She's warm and funny and loving.  And she tend to turn everything - all running commentary, instructions and questions - into song.  She's the closest thing my daughters will get to me while I'm gone, in many goofy ways.

On a day where so many were focused on the emotional energy of mothering I spent a lot of time ruminating on this woman who makes crazy a little less crazy.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

finding her roots

So has anyone seen that Henry Louis Gates show on PBS, Finding your Roots?  It's pretty engrossing (he uses a team of genealogists and DNA to track down the family histories of celebrities).

When I went on Ancestry, I hit a few understandable dead ends seeing as the holocaust decimated my family history.  My genetic roots are mostly Ashkenazi Jewish - which means that I can't pinpoint exactly what countries my family lived in because they basically lived in Jewish communities in those countries. I know we had some family living France, and many in Poland. but I can really only go back two generations.  There were some interesting curveballs in there (the Algerian/North African DNA which might explain why my dad is so dark), and some English in there too (which explains my mother's veddy English maiden name).

Viking's ancestry was also interesting.  His genetic makeup is hugely Eastern European (makes sense, his dad was a child of Hungarian immigrants), with a good dose Scandinavian thrown in for good measure. His
Mother liked to focus on their Swedish cultural traits but while he looks like he belongs in some dark movie set in Copenhagen, he's got other stuff going on in his DNA.  And lo and behold, there was a Jew in his woodpile too.

You know, there was a time when I really wrung my hands over all of this, as far as Samantha's future.  I imagined her watching this show or some future iteration of it.  Her wanting to do an Ancestry test.  Her DNA will show something completely foreign to us, right?  How will she feel about it?

Well, what if I reframe the whole scenario?  What if finding her roots when she's a teenager become a gift of many roots? So she has three family branches, two of which are genetic.  Is this grounds for handwringing or maybe can we shift our thinking as this being really interesting and maybe - just maybe - cool?

I can't run from her origin story.  Once she's of age to understand it, I won't be able to hide it.  I can't allow it to be shameful. I can't allow it to cause her hurt. So bear with me here (becsuse I'm not like a huge fan of the book), but what if I just LEANED IN to it? I know she's got English in there.  Belgian and Netherlandian too.

I'm a stickler these days for precise terminology.  I'm her biological mother, and I'll say it until I'm blue in the face. I carried her, I'm nursing her, and so much of what she is becoming is a result of what I'm giving her. My family history as a descendant of Holocaust survivors is written in my DNA but even with out the DNA that event is a huge part of my being.

What is written in her DNA remains a fundamental mystery to us. I know she will want to solve it.

The bottom line is I'm trying to turn this whole genetics thing on it's head. I'm trying to look at it as a really cool thing that shes going to be a part of, a future set of fun mysteries to solve.  But Man, don't let me kid you, it does take some serious ongoing emotional work for me to get there.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

She looks nothing like you

Ahhhh, if I had a nickel for every comment on how my Valkyrie child doesn’t resemble me. I am crazy grateful for the fact that Niblet doesn’t either. She herself said it last night, “wow mom, I look a little like you but Sammi doesn’t At. All.”  Oh kid. Just you wait.

Today I went to my PCP for the first time in ages. I’m overdue for a mammogram but I can’t get one because my baby won’t wean. I mean, I’m flattered, but it caused me no small amount of anxiety. Luckily my dr felt me up and decided that my risks were low because there’s no breast cancer in my family, breast feeding lowers risks, and I should just hang tight until we’re fully done with weaning.

I’m waiting on A1C results now too. God I truly hope I’m not back to being prediabetic. I was eating like a horse when I nursed 10x a day, but now, with just two nursing sessions and one pump a day, I’ve gotta get my act together. I haven’t been exercising and it’s not a good look.

Samantha is a surreal baby in so many ways. You’ve gotta trust me when I say that she is insanely fucking cute. Like, smiles at people in the shopping cart and makes angry underpaid Wholefoods workers smile.

But The vestiges of loss appear in ways that blindside me constantly. Like, I sometimes have terrible fears that she or her sister will develop a horrible illness. Or that my husband will die. Or that I maybe have breast cancer because my slacker boob that doesn’t produce much milk which Sammy rejected entirely is actually diseased. I know this isn’t rational. But it goes to show that. It isn’t always kittens and parties in my brain, unfortunately.

 I ran into my therapist in the supermarket, on a day where Sammi and I were both glowing with maternal baby joy. It was a rainy Sunday and we were just happy to get out of the house together. My therapist asked how I was doing and I said really well. This wasn’t a lie. I AM doing really well. But that also comes with me waiting for the bottom to fall out from under me.

Does everyone live like this?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The personal is political


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

I'm glad she asked

Last week I was checking in with my friend D, a Vice President at my organization who rocks, I love working with her.  She's smart, hella organized, works tirelessly for the nursing home workers she represents and just fucking kind.  She's also deeply, DEEPLY religious.

At the end of our meeting where we outlined some plans to save the world, she had a random question for me:

"My members have been talking about that new abortion law in NY.  It's a really hot topic and they just don't understand how the state could pass it. What am I missing? Do you know anything about it?"

"Funny you should ask that," I replied.

So I told her. I started with the miscarriages.  And then I got to Celine.  About how we were lucky to be able to see Celine's future pain on a 13 weeks scan and had a few weeks to talk to specialists. And how Samantha truly was a miracle for science and faith.  And then I explained exactly what the law was designed to cover, and shared with her these two articles:

This, Interview with a woman who had an abortion at 32 weeks,

And the follow-up to her story. (Spoiler: It has as happy an ending as anyone who suffers such trauma can claim).

I explained that this woman's advocacy (she lobbied HARD) led to the NY law's [assage.  And how sad it was that this was really HEALTHCARE legislation being dressed as morality. How no woman wants to say goodbye to their desperately loved baby, let alone have to fly to Colorado and spend tens of thousands of dollars to do it.

Well, D read both articles and thanked me for them.  She also printed them out for the workers she knew who were asking so many questions.

These past few months I have been pulling off of facebook.  This conversation was all the rage there too.

To say these past few weeks have been triggering and depressing have been an understatement.

But, they did one thing to firm my resolve: If we get to a point in this country where safe abortion services are as limited and non-existent as state houses across the country are trying to make them, well sign me up for the call to help.  I've got a spare room with a private bath (the nicest bathroom in our house).  Someone vulnerable needs a place to stay? My state has doctors who perform second trimester abortions.  I've got you covered.