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