Thursday, December 24, 2020

Light

It's Christmas Eve day and I am taking a break from work to pause and write here, how much love wrapped with anxiety is in my heart right now.

My girls are a literal source of light. Earlier this week Niblet and I kicked off our holiday season binging on terrible Rom-Coms and it's a fucking joy to experience her sarcasm and laughter during a plague. We baked sugar cookies together and I felt like I was in a fucking Hallmark movie.

Meanwhile, after hand-wringing, much research and a really helpful conversation with our pediatrician, Sammi is going to start pre-school in January, at a place that is doing as good a job as possible with safety precautions, for a few mornings a week.  Even our Nanny agrees that she needs the playtime with other kids close to her age, and this little group of 6 kids will effectively form her pod.  She is a dynamo, a ball of energy and so.many. words, and the way her face lights up when she sees other toddlers, I know she needs this. 

Another nurse I know just died from COVID. Two friends have recovered, but after weeks of pains, even with their "mild" cases. Our hatches have been battened down for months with only masked grocery runs and outdoor times on relatively empty playgrounds. Yeah, I'm just hoping for the best. We've been working hard to protect our Nanny - we wear masks indoors around her, so much of our decision making is related to keeping her safe. She is onboard with the plan (if she wasn't, we wouldn't do it). But the minute any sickness should come into the house we're prepared to enact our household quarantine measures (which includes keeping her home with pay for the duration of the quarantine).

I'm grateful for so much right now. All of our parents' good health. Our good health (fingers crossed). Our ability to buy toys for the kids and have a beautiful tree packed with presents. Our ability to telework indefinitely. The week off Viking and I are both able to take. The warmth of my house which used to be drafty and cold before we spent the money to insulate it. Our fridge packed full of food. I have a stack of unread books that I am desperate to read. 

Wow, this post is gushy and gooey and I wasn't expecting it to be this so when I opened up blogger to write it, but here we are.

To anyone who still reads my ramblings, I wish you so much love and light.




Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Feeling the suck of it all

Niblet had a breakdown last night. Between virtual-school, ballet class (which she now despises) and her period, it was a rough night.

"Sammi is lucky she won't remember any of this!" she cried.

I hugged her s tight as she would let me (that she let me tells you how bad she felt, have I mentioned she's now about my size?)

Because I advocate for health care workers I get the benefit of reading COVID stats every day. Our case positivity rates here in the basement of the northeast are not encouraging. It's gonna be a long winter. I've been trying to get her out weekly on a socially distanced play date with a friend, that helps a bit. I've also encouraged her to journal everything right now. And allowed her to watch So. Much. More. TV than I usually would.

She's such an amazing kid, and I hate that she's miserable. I tried putting her situation in perspective without being sanctimonious about it:

"This sucks. what you are experiencing completely sucks. There are people who are suffering worse than us right now and I'm trying to focus on that. Not to take away how much things suck for you, but to be thankful that we aren't sick. None of our family members have died from this. Your dad and I still have our jobs and can still employ C. I'm not saying any of this to take away your feeling bad. Things sucking is not a competition, you can feel terrible and while having it better than other people."

The other people I am referring to are the ones who are a paycheck away from eviction, lining up for food pantries and attending zoom funerals. 

I have one friend who lives in a well-off area of NJ where her kids were attending hybrid school set ups. Her household was just in complete upheaval. Her asymptomatic younger kid brought home COVID, passed it to the Dad. Dad had *mild* COVID. What this looked like was him being completely laid out on his ass for over a week, unable to even walk to the bathroom without help. They had a big enough house that he could quarantine in his den, and the kid could quarantine in her room. Mom and her older kid then rearranged life to keep the house functional (meals, laundry, cleaning etc).

Look, none of this was earth shattering. But who the fuck has time for even mild COVID in their lives, assuming they're lucky? 



Wednesday, November 11, 2020

When you have been built for the times

I've been thinking a lot these past few weeks about the very human need for closure. For a new chapter to begin, even when it's not clear at all the old one has ended.

I witnessed a flood of virtual postings of celebration and joy last Saturday, when it appeared as if we had definitively elected a new President. And yet, for many of those friends and acquaintances, the foreboding is creeping in.

For a lot of people, 2020 feels like the boiling frog experiment. A viral pandemic, economic hardship, what more can the year bring? 

I feel like some of my ability to not completely fall apart in the fear and unsettledness is based in my own journey through hell. The six years I spent conceiving and losing babies sometimes feels like a lifetime ago. Sometimes I worry about how disconnected I am to the grief of those losses, like, am I no longer honoring my babies since moving on? (the answer to that question is of fucking course, no, I'm just taking you through the roads of my brain).

But then it's moments in the dark, in the insomnia and in the uncertainty and unknown of it all that I'm brought right back. Yessss, I know what this feels like. I know what social isolation without any tether to a human who isn't a screen name feel like. 2020 is oh so familiar because I have lived 2020. It's just that 2020 was six years.

Part of the horror of losing Celine was that *she* was supposed to live. If anyone had attempted to write the story of a woman who experienced a partial molar pregnancy, Asherman's, multiple additional miscarriages and was written off by a slew of REs, only to find herself with a genetically healthy baby, they would write this particular story to end with the birth of Celine. A beautiful baby, the living embodiment of one woman who beat the odds.

But that was not the story that was written. And for this reason, I feel deep empathy for my friends who look at this year as something that must automatically come to a closure with celebration, with renewal and hope. And I hold my tongue with my nagging fears, with the worry that there is actually no bottom to what bad things look like. We impose order and rationale to a world filled with chaos and by extension - injustice - because we have to in order to function and get through the day. 

We are all sort of feeling as if we're the frogs in the pot right now, aren't we?

Monday, October 19, 2020

Trigger season

It's been a few months of evolution.

One of the most prominent changes has been my willingness to share my TFMR story. Maybe it's the election and nomination of Amy Coney Barrett but my tribe is feeling pretty low these days. For me, it's felt like a moment in time where self-imposed isolation has resulted in even deeper feelings of grief and anger than before. I'm also so much farther out from my loss of Celine and the babies that could never be.  Time hasn't healed the wounds but time has made me capable of speaking about them in a way that no longer catches my throat.

Our family continues to try to adjust to this new normal of COVID stress. Niblet is still entirely on a virtual learning schedule - her underfunded 80% black student filled school district has kids who depend on public transit to get to schools across town from them. The schools have no heat or function HVAC. The windows don't open. There's no potable water because of aging lead pipes, and there was never soap in the buildings on a good day. Sammi is begging to go to school, just like Daniel Tiger.

We're financially ok, and so much better off than so many, but I feel the effects of this life in little ways that become more clear as I lay down to bed.  The achiness from working at a little ergonomically terrible antique secretary style desk far better suited to writing correspondence to a husband out on the Western Front than running spreadsheets on multiple devices. The clenched jaws that make me thankful for my parents helping to subsidize my needed invisalign trays. The constant headaches, which were partly the result of needing progressive lenses. The extra 5 pounds that came form never really having time for an exercise regimen. The wonky cycle - menopause or stress?

None of it is earth-shattering, but the sum of their parts sure are something.



Monday, August 24, 2020

Musings on writing

The other day I was thinking about my girls and this blog.

I'm not sure how, and I'm not sure when, but I feel the need to go public when Samantha is older, and has more agency.

On some days I feel incredibly removed from the experiences I catalogue in this diary. The literal pain of Asherman's. The anguish of losing Celine. The anxiety that comes with taking an enormous leap of faith to bring Sammi into the world.

On other days, I look at where I am now, and realize that getting here is in itself a story of enormous hope fulfilled. But I want to be careful. My happy ending wouldn't exist but for a well-timed home equity loan.

But as I get more comfortable with Sammi's origin story, and view it in the prism of my loss story, I realize that maybe we could share it more widely.

So a few nights ago, I realized in the shower (where all my best thinking happens), that this blog needs to be a book. As my ability to update here on this site dwindles to about monthly, I see now that I have a story arc. There is a beginning and there is an end.

I've attempted to write books before. And failed spectacularly because writing is a full-time job, and I already have two of those. But somehow, someday, I'm gonna take another crack at it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

rolling along on a random blerghsday

How is everyone?

My parents and I reached a common family style detente, where no politics or policy or even acknowledgement of the world on fire outside our windows exists. It's a strange way to live, and I know how privileged I sound to say that when for my entire life I've had friends live this way with their families/spouses. I'm navigating what it means to stand on your own beliefs and not need to convince anyone else around you why. Not a normal state of being for a lapsed lawyer and lifelong activist, but this is what I'm going to call growth.

I think I realized that I'm sort of in a state of grief about all of it, as if I've lost my parents to a weird conspiratorial universe where our country is a bastion of freedom and wealthy white Americans are victimized. A few years ago they were financially supporting Occupy protesters in Zuchotti Park. Today they're railing against people taking down statues of Columbus. It's been a whiplash filled ride in my brain.

My children are safe and healthy. Niblet is one of those learners that I refuse to spend too much fretting about in the coming school year. She'll figure out whatever math she needs to learn online, she'll also retreat into her novels. My husband and I are both gainfully employed, and we're all retreating into a world mad up of the boundaries of our backyard. I think I've spent more money on inflatable pools, sports equipment and outdoor toys than I ever imagined possible.

But my state's COVID numbers are ticking up again. I'm worried about the workers my union represents. And our PPE supply.

And here at home, our circadian rhythms are completely jacked up. I've been a less than successful parent at getting the kids to bed at age appropriate times. I'm regularly up until 2am and then back up again at 7:30. Gray hairs are peeking through and Niblet is comically appalled at how vain I am about them. ("Who's going to see you Mom? It's the Coronacation. You swim a lot anyways, that would mess up any dye you use").

One bright spot is I have our nanny back for a few hours a day, a few days a week. She spends 2-3 hours outside with Sammi, allowing me some precious work time. It's been something of a game-changer.

Another bright spot is we have the money to take a trip to the middle of nowhere for a week. A cottage in a wooded neighborhood, five minutes from a quiet beach (sans boardwalk and restaurants). Wild ponies. Who doesn't want to imagine their 2 year old's face, squealing (hopefully in delight?) at the sight of ponies?

Monday, June 22, 2020

an off topic meltdown

So my parents are the loves of my life, imperfections and neuroses and all. The good and the bad shaped me into who I am and shaped my life accordingly.

I usually don't discuss this dynamic on my blog. It's not the space, it's certainly not what my readers visit here for. But it's a pickle and sorry folks, I have to write it out.

I've had difficulty putting into words at times the issues we've faced as a family of three. There have often been stretches where they stop speaking to me. They didn't like my boyfriend of many years, who later became my partner. That was one time. They freaked out on me when my wedding ceremony - an actually very light on the bible interfaith ceremony co-officiated by my husband's childhood pastor and a cantor - caused them to believe that I would have them "kneeling before a cross" at my wedding.

I am also the only child *and* the only family member that they speak to. I place no judgment on my mother's detaching from her remaining abusive toxic family members. My Dad from his (much less toxic to my untrained eye)? Sadness, but not judgment. They don't have a close circle of friends.  They have only each other. They had me until I left home for a city they hate. They had my older daughter until she turned around 7 and everyone realized wasn't demonstrative with affection, and snarky and didn't like to give hugs. They took solace in the snuggles of the baby, a natural cuddler if there ever was one. But they are both prone to depression, deep deep depressions.

Since college I have had a fairly good understanding of how difficult this relationship could be. What it meant to be the sole source of your parent's happiness... Gee, maybe this does fit into my blog. Because I've written before about wanting to not to put that weight on my own children. Not wanting either of them to feel the intensity of the emotional whiplash I sometimes feel with my own parents.

Over the years these freeze outs have gotten more frequent, the result of political divisions. They have become fierce believers in the American dream, followers of patriotic symbols and fearful of lawlessness. A total mind fuck because I was raised to believe that america was a place where everyone but the most wealthy was a paycheck or disaster away from homelessness. The politics that shaped me, through public school, law school and a career organizing workers into unions used to be something I shared with my parents. Explaining how they shifted to where they have shifted to is a whole other essay (one that I may write one day).

The a few days ago, I said something I regret. Here's what I said regarding the removal of statues of Christopher Columbus:

"Imagine how it would feel to view statues of Hitler or Geobbels."

Well, that was that.

I've been given the freeze. I apologized. Profusely. I texted promises to no longer send them data supporting positions I take that they disagree with. They accused me of accusing them of fascism. "How dare I."

Law school training gave me an unfortunate tick in the ways I make arguments to those never subjected to the Socratic method.  I'm way too keen on asking probing questions to try and detect logical fallacies. I know. I have to stop. I know it's intended to make me come off as the bigger person but to someone who disagrees with me I must be a twat.

On the other hand, conversations with my parents as of late also leave me forced to bite my tongue in silence at some of their beliefs.  There is no moral, statistical or experiential authority to appeal to them to reconsider their words. There is nothing to be done.

So I wrote a text of apology:

"I am so sorry. what I said was wrong. I believe that Columbus committed the same atrocities as Hitler. that's what I was trying to say, badly. You are not fascists and I was trying trying to say that night that it's in my opinion that everything I have in this world - including my children - is because f you. because you are my parents."

Right now I merely pray that the anger they're feeling towards me abates. I'll take all the rest of it if it eliminates the unsettled-ness, the world-off its-axis feeling when your parents shut you out.