Monday, October 21, 2019

HOME and moving forward

I returned from my jet-setting adventures through NY about 16 hours early, late Saturday night.

Viking had a cold.  A head cold sure, but I could tell, this put him out of his depth.  Based on looking at some red-nosed, glassy eyed pics sent to me of Samantha, she had one too. So while I was having a surprisingly good time walking down memory lane with classmates on Saturday, I skipped out on  the evening drinking portion of the reunion and hopped on a train back home that night.

When Sammi woke up on Sunday morning I assumed she would be happy to see me.  Yeah, she was, but....

This is also the week I chose to wean her. So she repeatedly cried "NA NA" while closing her hand in a fist (her sign for milk) and yeah, kid, that was rough.

I have to say, I have some very mixed emotions about weaning her.  See, I used to always joke that as soon as a kid could use words to request a specific food, that would be it, they're cut off.

The truth is that I loved the quiet time we spent every morning and night. She wasn't getting a whole lot out of me, yes, I was really functioning as a human pacifier. But I honestly never had an issue with it.

So why did I wean (besides being away for days and effectively killing my milk supply)?

I need a mammogram.  I can't get one.  No matter how hard I try through my doctors, I can't find anyone to give me one unless I'm no longer lactating for at least 3 months. And I have super dense breast-tissue, so I am already bracing for the hell of getting red flags on my mammograms.

I also currently know three women my age who have recently been in treatment for cancer. All of them I know through our kids.  There's a voice in my head that won't quiet.  Call it an intrusive thought, call it my general anxiety about always expecting the bottom to drop. But I have to get a mammogram and this is honestly the only way I will get approved for one.

My baby isn't taking to losing our nursing bond very well. There were some loud screams and big tears last night, and this morning.  It's a shock to her system in a way that it wasn't for her sister (Nibble was weaned around 14 months, and the best word for her reaction was ambivolent).

We'll get through it quickly I'm sure.  I now spend about 5 straight minutes just holding her and snuggling in those moments we used to nurse.  But yeah, the sense of loss is mutual kid.  It really is bittersweet.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Remembrance Day

October 15th has snuck up on me again. This miscarriage and infant loss Remembrance Day has a way of doing that.

I’m gonna be all up in my feelings because I am flying off to upstate NY today for a work conference. Then on Friday I fly into NYC for a school reunion.  Today is Tuesday. I won’t be home with my living babies and husband until Sunday afternoon. This is the first long trip I will have taken away from Samantha and Niblet since Samantha was born. Oh. Wow

I’ve been trying to focus on the positives. My kids are in good hands with their dad and our nanny. I will finally have the opportunity to wean the almost 2 year old. I might get some nice sleep and adult conversation.

But my heart actually aches for my kids, and I’m only en route to the airport. And I will be sharing a hotel room with a nice but chatty colleague who I will probably have to flee from repeatedly, especially at 7 pm this evening when I try to find a candle to light in my babies’ memories.

I am sending peace and solace to everyone who is finding themselves deep in thoughts about their babies tonight. So much love to everyone in this community of motherhood.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Happy New Year

In the Jewish Calendar it is now 5780, we are celebrating our New Year.

The Rabbi of our congregation gave us an exercise to ponder as we approach Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  For my non-Jewish readers, this is Easter Sunday for the tribe - meaning that those of us who never show up for services DO attend on this day.

I offer some of my off the cuff introspection below:

Something I regret from this past year:
I would say not calling my parents enough, and viewing it with grim trepidation when I do (which in case you're wondering, is roughly a few times a week).

Lately, we've had to have some carefully narrowed conversation to avoid arguing, it's exhausting when we're arguing. I should add, this isn't new. They also felt it's appropriate to freely criticize the Viking for the last decade.

(But I want to be clear, they will never say anything negative about him in front of our children, they've told me that and they honor it. Still their willingness to trash talk him to me has always been, sigh, exhausting).

Something I realized this past year:
People say that time heals - but I really think it's that we are given the opportunity to have love fill some of the broken places. A lot of grief is love that needs a place to go.

Something that brought me joy or gratification this past year:
This one's easy. My daughters and the way they interact with each other. Niblet calls her sister "Yammy" (like, uh, a sweet potato). Her sister calls her "DeeDee because she can't pronounce her name. They really do stare at each other with wonder sometimes.

L'Shana Tovah

Thursday, September 12, 2019

It's that time again

The election season is upon us.  People seeking votes are clarifying their stances on abortion.


I made the decision to terminate my pregnancy with Celine just shy of 5 years ago. The more I read about babies who either didn't survive or suffer with her condition, the more I settle into the decision. I'll never truly feel settled mind you, but I know deep deep in my soul that her gray diagnosis was going to be a potential death sentence for her at birth if she survived. That should I deliver her she would suffer for the likely short duration of her life.

But I think time not only served to heal me a bit, but time as allowed me the ability to settle into this experience being a fact of my life that I cannot separate out or wall off.  I am one of the women who has been in this situation and I am one of the women who is now in a place to speak about it publicly.

I dipped my toes into this on social media a bit. And I survived.  I know there are realistically plenty of people who believe I murdered my baby, though I'm appreciative that they haven't yet said this to my face. And if they ever do, I will survive those stings and arrows.

I also know that Samantha, the literal ray of light in our family is the very specific baby the universe decided I should mother.

To experience her personality is to experience the closest thing you will ever match to liquid sunshine. Her sister is intense, introspective, fiery at times.

Anyone who has ever met or had the pleasure to hold Samantha knows that she is in fact a marshmallow wrapped in a rainbow dappled with magic, all bound together in the softest, peach fuzziest human skin.  The love that she bestows upon ever living creature she meets, well, you have to experience it first hand to believe it. Her hugs and snuggles and warmth is jaw-dropping.

This is why I now speak my truth to the world:

Through the miracles allowable in reproductive science I was given the opportunity to bring a second extraordinary human into the world. As I was for her sister Celine before her, I am her fiercest protector. I understand the gift of life, the true blessing of children, better than anyone can imagine.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

more validation

So, my parents are loving and kind. They've given us all of the financial support we could ever hope for.

But they're a little cray. And with a significant portion of their generation of Baby Boomers, they have a Boomer world view that isn't quite adapting to our changing culture and planet. They are easily susceptible to idiotic memes and youtube rabbit holes. I will confess, I've done more than a little handwringing about some of their politics (which, 1) are completely counter to tolerant and accepting people I grew up with and 2) completely counter to my current worldviews).

For much of my adult life my Dad has worried about talking about politics on the phone, convinced "they're listening to him" Who? The NSA? The CIA? Fuck if I know.  (The comedy in all of this is that we do have an invasive electronic web listening to us - but I think "they" could care less about our politics, and a whole lot about our purchasing power. Ever say something in your car and find a targeted ad for it on your facebook page? Ever think about Alexa and Amazon Echo? THAT's the spy state as it exists now).

But I digress.

Nibble spent a week with her grandparents.  And came home... well, puzzled and grappling and a more than a little frustrated with some of the things that came out of their mouths.

Much as I used to grapple with my grandparents in years past and my parents today.

Where I got really calm, is how maturely she handled them -a lot of eye rolling behind their backs but she stayed away from arguments.  "Mom, it makes no sense to argue with them. I actually tried to debate something they said and they just refused to listen to me and ignored the points I was making. I decided it was a waste of time and changed the subject. it was exhausting."

At nearly 11, her worldview is so on its way to formation just by being a person who lives on the planet. She happens to attend a majority black school in an economically divided city, and has her own experiences with navigating complicated race relations. She attends Jewish Sunday school and has immigrant and Muslim friends. She questions whether she believes in God and has personal fears about climate change along with opinions about how to address it.

While she was sharing some her stories about comments my parents made in her presence, the lightbulb went off.  She could unpack their love from some of their crazy. She could separate some of the politics they espoused that are 180 degrees from what she's been exposed to, and just shrug her shoulders.  Our nanny joked that I didn't have to do any "de-programming" because she's already an independent little person who chooses to read about 20 books a week in her spare time. Yes, she lives in this lefty household helmed by a former union organizer and a labor union healthcare policy analyst, and she could have an entire future "awakening" to lord knows what, should she head of to college.... but I know from watching her interact in spaces that she will do the *most* important thing: Listen.

The kids are alright.

Monday, August 26, 2019


I may have mentioned before, I come from a family that has this weird ideological opposition to therapy. Like it's going on your record for the rest of your life and somehow someone (the government? Schools? Your neighbors?) will use it against you.

Nibble has some anxiety issues (hey apple, meet the tree you fell from), and they're resulting in some behavior that's occasionally less than stellar.  My parents witnessed one of these outbursts.  Viking and I believe that maybe talking to a therapist would be helpful to her. We were quietly talking about it at my parents' house.

My dad called earlier today...

"You shouldn't take her to a therapist, that will go on her record,"

"Wait, WHA?????"

"It will be part of her medical record."

"I'm so confused.  What's wrong with talking to someone who's neutral about her emotions? If she's having problem with outbursts and getting angry, maybe talking to someone about coping mechanisms will help her."

"No, She shouldn't need that her parents should be able to help her."


"Dad, you DO know I saw a therapist for many years."

"When? Why?"

"Um, because eight of my babies died."

"Oh, that. Fine. Never mind.  You don't want to listen to me."

"No, you're making my point for me.  Your response is *exactly* why I had to seek therapy..."

"[now he's cutting me off] Yeah, we're terrible parents so you needed a therapist. You did talk to me about your pregnancies."

"[Deep breath] You're great parents.  But you couldn't help me cope when I wanted to rush under a table every time someone on TV called me a murderer.  Everytime I felt like my heart was racing out of my chest. And you couldn't say things that would make me feel better when I was in the depths of grief. So I saw a therapist.  And my only regret is that I didn't go sooner.  I needed to speak to someone to give me the tools to function. That doesn't make you bad parents.  Just like it doesn't make me or V bad parents because we aren't the best people to give Niblet the tools she needs to cope better when she's worked up. The whole point is that we're NOT therapists."

SIGH. that was exhausting. And there were parts of that interchange where my heart felt like it was racing out of my chest. Luckily I have a fucking champ of a therapist and I walked away from that conversation without any yelling and with my basic wits about me.