Wednesday, December 5, 2018

It's been difficult to write

Writing has been a challenge.  Ideas flow into my head on posts all the time.  Then the realities of my day to day intervene and suddenly it's December.  How did it get to be December?

I'm waiting for the day when I'm matter of fact about the fact that Samantha is woven into the fabric of my family.  I'm still not there. I am and I'm not.  We have this baby - this sick cute, hilarious, snuggly little baby in our home and she has her father's face and to a great extent her sisters face.  And she's obsessed with me.  OBSESSED, and I'm absolutely her favorite human and I'm starting to think it's not just the milk I still produce.

And sometimes when we're driving I share her origin story with her.  It's something that I think will improve with practice.  We want - no really *I* want for this story to be, well, a nothingburger in her life.  The matter of fact hand of her genetics, not some scandalous revelation, or the topic of a very very special episode of family conversation.  My eggs were damaged.  I was fortunate to be donated some good ones.  We made a baby.  A baby that is biologically mine, even if genetically she isn't.

Niblet has good days and bad days, though mostly good.  She is starting to allow herself to be charmed by this tiny blob with big blue eyes, rather than feel threatened by her. She's protective of her in ways that make our nanny both smile and sigh, but we are all generally still feeling the endorphin rush of "THIS BABY IS REALLY HERE"

But maybe it's the still not sleeping through the night, maybe it's the times we live in, maybe it's the climate report of doom, maybe it's the family stress where parents are getting sick while Viking in I are like gerbils running on a wheel.... I'm spent.  And I feel guilty for saying that, like survivor's guilt.

I watched the movie "Private Life" with Paul Giamatti and Katherine Hahn, and OMG I was a fucking wreck afterwards.  The pain of that infertile couple was too real, it all hit too close to home, and when I was done I realized just how lucky I was to have Samantha - and Niblet - in my life.

What have I done to be so fortunate?  How will I ever be able to give my due to the universe for doing me such a monumental solid?  I mean sure, raising empathic children who aren't sociopaths is a good start....

Monday, October 15, 2018

I see you

So the thing is, the little spirit that was haunting me for so many many years is with us now, I believe that.  I look at her big blue eyes and she looks back at me, and I truly believe that we both are just like, "gee, it's you.  I'm so glad to see that it's you."

But for the mamas out there who are still reading my words, who are still in the thick of their grief and their hell - because it is indeed hell - I see you.  I wear my eight stacking rings religiously these days, not because I am worried I will forget.... I will never forget.  But they are comforting in a way, a tactile reminder of that hell.  When I'm stressed and worried I fiddle with them - in staff meetings and other venues - and tell myself that I can breathe and put one foot in front of the other.  I can plaster a smile on my face and continue on.

Today the smile is real, because she is alive.  She made it to me. She is healthy and she is like pure light.  But the pain is merely dulled.  So many years lost.  So many babies. 

I see you out there. I am crying with you too.  I am holding you in the light with so much love and so much hope for you.


Friday, October 12, 2018


I recently commented on a BBC birth board, offering virtual hugs and hope to a woman who just miscarried.  She was blaming herself and I offered the 1 in 4 statistic. And yes, I noted that I refused to blame myself for my eight losses.

She replied and asked how I kept going.

I kept going because I truly believed that the spirit of the baby I was trying to have was haunting me.

I always worry that framing my perseverance this way makes me out to be a loon, but sometimes vocabulary fails us, and honestly, it's the most accurate way I can get my point across.

There's a movie out on Netflix now called "Private Life" and by all reports it's a horrifyingly accurate portrayal of a couple in their forties trying to have a baby, ultimately exploring donor eggs and adoption.  The reviews of it on various support boards have all been positive so....

I downloaded it last night and wanted to check out a few minutes of it.  The opening scene has Paul Giamatti stabbing Katherine Hahn in the ass with what is supposed to be a progesterone needle.  Everything about the staging, her position on the bed, his apology for hitting a nerve, the bad of frozen peas, every fucking thing about the first four minutes of this movie told me I need to get in the proper headspace to watch it.  It was TOO real.  Not that I watch much these days, because S is only sleeping in 3 hours stretches at night right now.

I'll try to watch it this weekend and post a review, but keep in mind my inlaws are staying over this weekend, so watching a movie from start to finish is sort of aspirational.  I gave Viking the heads up that he might want to see it with me, he loves Paul Giamatti.  But I am also worried about being a crying mess from it.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Future gymnast

Check out this picture of 8 month old Samantha and bear witness to the reason I needed an emergency C-Section.  According to Viking, this is exactly how she was positioned when I was laboring. 

Thursday, September 20, 2018

New Normal and Atonement

Hello world.  I'm an employer now, to a Nanny.  It's been three weeks and I am breathing a huge sigh of relief. She's great.  Both girls appear to love her, she's smart and compassionate and I am totally remembering now how I gravitated towards her during those foggy days of my maternity leave.

In short I got really fucking lucky that the universe placed her in my path and that I have the resources to make it work.

This week marked the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur, our day of atonement.

I've been thinking about presence.  How present are we in our day to day lives?  When I'm scrolling on my phone in the wee hours of the night while nursing Samantha, what does that say about my connectedness to her in those moments?

I was thinking about the many times - like most parents - that I am scrolling on Twitter or FB or IG when sitting with my children.  The moments I am missing and the behavior I am modeling. 

And so when I asked for forgiveness in prayer, and set out my resolutions for the new year, they largely centered around my phone addiction.  There was some other stuff too (like no longer angrily criticizing the Viking for his piss-poor cleaning habits in front of Niblet).... but honestly, thinking about the zombies we are becoming as a human race is more than a little frightening.

Also frightening is the bombardment of imagery and information and triggers.  I scrolled past pictures of babies killed in Yemen the other night.  WHILE I WAS NURSING. 

I am here, alive and ostensibly healthy, with a beautiful home and a hot husband and my daughters  stare up at me with their big beautiful eyes and I need to be present.  In the moment.  Either fully invested in the beauty around me or grappling with whatever they bring me - whether it's hunger cries, the need to be worn like a baby kangaroo, or help with Common Core math (which blows, btw). 

So I asked for forgiveness for those days and night staring at a tiny rectangle that generally causes my cortisol levels to rise.  I need to be present.  I want and need to be connected to the people in front of me. The people I love so much, who I went to hell and back for.

(I came across this video on one of these late nights.  It's utterly terrifying, and left me gutted, so seriously, you can choose to not watch it, hell in some ways I wish I never saw it.  But I used to love MOBY, and the song is an earworm, and I think it kinda captures where my head was at this Yom Kippur). 

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The great clean

Man, this summer is flying by.  I got a week at the ocean, which let me tell ya, is a little less restorative when you're still not sleeping.  But beautiful, nonetheless.

This weekend, the last weekend before school starts, I will be cleaning.  And then cleaning some more.

Our new nanny, C, starts on Tuesday.  All of the tax filings are in, the paperwork is signed and the payroll is set up.  I'm an employer now, and hopefully will be a good one?

Samantha has done so well at our local daycare center, of course I am second-guessing my decision to pull her out.  She's honestly such a chill baby though, that I have to believe that she will thrive with C.  I know that Niblet will fare far better with someone who pick her up from school, get her to finish her homework, feed her and then chauffer her to her myriad of after-school lessons. 

But before any of this starts, I have to clean.  Here is just a sampling of the things lined up in and crammed into the hallways and corners of my house that people are currently bumping into, sitting on or tripping over:
 - Two sleeping bags, unfolded
 - A trash bag filled with Niblet's shoes (collected from all over the downstairs, to be put away in her room)
 - An empty giant cardboard box that Princess is no longer into
 - A door that needs to be hung
 - A box of Tools that would be ostensibly used to hang the door
 - Viking's dirty socks
 - A bag of extra linens that we took to our beach rental
 - target bags filled with school supplies
 - books
 - unused mason jars
 - Dust balls


Monday, August 13, 2018

Intrusive thoughts

I was tempted to hit up my therapist the other day.  It's been maybe four months since I last saw her, and while I had my shaky days, I thought I was ultimately handling life pretty well.

And then I read about the Orca. The grieving Orca, who carried her dead calf for a thousand miles, nearly starving herself in the process.  And I felt fucking gutted.  Just completely numb with sad.

Today I read that she has let her calf go, and is back to what appears to be "normal" behavior.

The Orca story captured so much.  The enormous pain of losing Celine, and grief for letting her go.  The no-longer existential ecological threat we're living under (the Orca population is endangered because we have obliterated their primary salmon source).  Climate inaction and maternal grief in one click.

Tack on to this the horrific child casualties in the middle east, and the trauma endured by immigrant and refugee children in the US and abroad.  All just scrolling and scrolling while nursing to the light of one's phone at 3am.

I don't really think your particular political persuasion matters - the pain of innocents is sometimes too much to bear. 

I wonder whether as a species we were built to absorb the quantities of information we're absorbing. But make no mistake about it, we're hooked, it's an addiction.

"Just stay off of twitter and facebook," I could hear my therapist saying.  Maybe just stick to Instagram, right?

The thing is I can *feel* the cortisol levels rising in my bloodstream every night.  And yet I can't quit.  I removed the apps from my phones, but short of throwing them away I feel stuck.  And occasionally hopeless.

I work to improve wages and benefits for low-wage health care workers. I like to think that I am helping democratize the workplace, and as a result, providing a more stable economic life for families in my very VERY poor city.  I also do a lot of research on population health outcomes as related to workforce training.  But at the end of the day I feel utterly useless. 

The only thing that seems to sustain me these days are the three humans I live with, who happen to share the same face (I'm the "one of these things is not like the other in my family").  Viking, Niblet and Nutmeg are my tether to sanity.

That's a very heavy burden for them. I know, because most of my life I've played the same role for my own depressed parents.

Unlike my parents, I don't actually spend a lot of time in that dark place.  People who know me IRL know I laugh a lot.  I entertain friends constantly.  I surround myself with children and feed on their silliness.  I hug my husband and get him to give me nightly backrubs.  I dance.  I move.  I endorphin the fuck out of my life.

But it all comes to a head at 2 or 3am.  How will I keep my girls safe?  How do I raise them with optimism and strength?