Thursday, December 24, 2020


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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Ripping the band aid off

Niblet and I have been watching The Office.  Hundreds of episodes. I somehow forgot about the Michael Scott's loony girlfriend Jan had  baby via sperm donor storyline? Well, only in my brain would watching this unfold signal "what a great way to discuss your baby conceived via egg donor" - no follow me here, I have never wanted this conversation to be a memorable event where we all sit at the dinner table and discuss. It honestly seemed as good a time as any.  I have been talking to S about the knd lady who donated an egg so we could have her. She's actually somewhat interested in the story, and I mean, fuck, it does sound like a sort of cool story when you really break it down...
So, yes, I finally shared with my crazy smart, too precocious 11 year old that we used DE to conceive her sister. She knows everything there is to know about reproduction we've been reading books since she was 4. Why not use this sitcom to discuss in a very matter of fact way that many of us needed help to conceive babies?

"So, I need to tell you, using a donor to make a baby is really common, not just for sperm. You know how we needed to use IVF to conceive your sister? well, I needed a donor egg to make that happen." 
Let me say that at first it this went TERRIBLY. 
So terribly I thought I made the biggest mistake in the world. Niblet said some stuff to me that sounded horrible, stung really badly. "Oh so she's only my half sister, I'm not related to her at all... you're not her real mom, you're her step mom...I wish I never knew this..." She even at one point questioned whether her sister was even Jewish, asking me if the donor was (whew chile). I used all the strength I had to stay calm about it, and also remind myself that she, my own egg daughter, is always pretty dramatic to begin with.
So, forcing myself to allow her space to feel everything she needed to feel,  I explained that 
1) In my most humble opinion we should never keep secrets, 
2) I have no intention of keeping this secret from her sister, 
3) I am absolutely her sister's mom, in fact I'm her biological mom, a donor provided the puzzle piece we needed to conceive her, 
4) this isn't actually as huge deal as she's making it out to be, it is waaay more common than she realizes, and 
5) it would feel MUCH much worse if I never talking about it with her until she was an adult. In fact I know her well enough to know she would feel very angry, betrayed even.
She sat quietly and stewed with the information for about 5 minutes, saying she didn't want to talk about it. I said absolutely, okay, and let her know that she should come to me with any questions at all that she might have. 
Then she sat next to me on the floor and we finished watching the aforementioned Office episode, watched three more and then bonded over how I was going to introduce her to the X-Files next because she loves Stranger Things. And we made a plan to have a girls day the following day, one where we work on redecorating her room.
And that was that. It has been a week. She has alternatively snuggled and then yelled at her tiny terror of a sister, as she does.  She has not mentioned any of this conversation to me. 
Perhaps one day she will raise more questions? Or she may never bring it up at all? Who knows? She's 11 and in puberty and already erratic and coping with a pandemic where she's in social isolation. She's going to be reading books about DE with her sister, she had to learn about this sometime. Part of me wonders whether this ripping off of the bandaid was appropriate, while another part of me is relieved that she finally knows.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

A writing spurt

I am sitting down to write at nearly midnight. 

I have been up since 6:30am, teleworking/supervising homeschool/wrangling a toddler since around 9.

My health is good I suppose. I force us all to go on daily walks for our vitamin D and fresh air. We drive to a fancy nearby neighborhood and walk around and ogle other people's houses and yards (while I excel at keeping children and cats alive, plant life not so much).

My life is as structured as I can make it, with many standing meetings and calls and work obligations.  Representing healthcare workers who are literally begging for PPE and hazard pay at hospitals and nursing homes really shakes some life into your job-related urgency.

Samantha is on what s basically a functional nap and sleep schedule.  I gave up on potty training while teleworking on Day 1. Like, I looked down from my laptop and said, oh hell no, I am not doing this too.  And that was that.  More diapers on the list? Check.

I do most of the cooking and cleaning too. The division of labor is not so neatly divided, but Viking is also in the thick of his work right now. In a few weeks his schedule lets up a bit and he's gonna be responsible for more meals.

Niblet is over zoom classes.  So over them. Her type-A personality will not allow her to skip her assignments, but this kind of learning is sucking the life out of her.  Mostly I order her books and she retreats to her room or a tree swing in our yard to read them.  Watching her swing every day puts a pang in my heart like nothing I could ever imagine. "Mom," she said, "this summer I imagine I will be a lot like Anne of Green Gables, wandering around a daydreaming." Jesus Christ Kid.

If anyone out there is reading my midnight ramblings, PLEASE comment below on how you're holding up.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

what is time

The weeks between my last post and this one feel like a cavernous gap in time.

Today I have technically been sheltering place with my kids since March 18. 

Today Sammi will continue to watch way too much Sesame Street episodes.

Today Niblet and I will try to make the best of homeschool and virtual learning.

Today I used a day of personal leave so I can cook some matzo ball soup for Passover. We won't be doing our own seder, we will be zooming into a friend's family seder which would be infinitely more true to tradition than mine anyways.

Today Viking is in the attic, where he stays and works from about 7am to 5pm. He emerges to help when I plea for it, but I'll be honest, there's a lot of single parenting going on here. I tend to try to do most of my work after the tiny one goes to bed around 7:30pm.

Today I will get Sammi out for one of our daily walks where I have to physically restrain her from running over to people.

Today the cat will lie for hours on the old laptop I've given to Niblet.

Today I will thank my lucky stars that we are all still healthy.

Today I will continue to have nagging worries about my parents, who are in NYC in a Bronx apartment building with a bunch of COVID 19 cases.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Justonemore Rona edition

EVERYONE. Everyone.

How are you all my lovelies?

We are holed up in casa de justonemore taking pandemic life day by day. We have food. We have a house with a cozy finished attic. We have a backyard with a giant tire swing. Things could be so so much worse.

Viking and I are both working from home (in said attic) doing zoom meetings with visits from Princess the cat, while our Nanny comes to keep our girls alive each day.  Niblet is baking cakes and taking walks (practicing social distancing) and doing some really boring worksheets. I've been trying to set her up with some online classes and video chats with her friends.  She's also watched the 5 hour Colin Firth Pride and Prejudice DVD set a few times (that's my girl all right).

Sammi is being a lunatic 2 year old with all of the screaming, running and sleep regressions she can muster. I'm kinda happy that no one really sees what I'm looking like these days, though I've been reallu keen on showering and getting dressed each day.

Our cousins who live ten minutes away down the road just brought their newborn daughter home from the hospital two weeks ago. We had hoped to be snuggling a newborn these days but oh well.

Honestly I am shockingly calm about the potential long-term lockdown.  Being an anxiety-ridden PTSD survivor my brain has been training for this for years. Like, this isn't as bad as the terrible thing my brain has conjured up for so many decades.

That said I do have some worries. I worry that our nanny will get sick because she has some pre-existing conditions (we're being as careful as possible but). If anyone gets a fever she's not coming here - for HER protection. I'm prepared to pay her regardless of whether she's here or not because I still have a job. Nevertheless, this is pretty uncharted territory for all of us.

I finally took an online ballet class which felt great (well, technically it felt painful), but it was good for my brain.

Feel free to comment on anything that strikes your fancy.  I am also sending a special shout-out to any mommas out there who may be expecting. Sending you all the strength and love in the world right now.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

New year new anxiety

Ahh it was bound to happen. The past two years have been, all in all, bliss. Good health, happy healthy babies.  Things were bound to veer a bit, right?

Abnormal mammogram results in left breast. Could be nothing. Reasonable brain says, hey that was the milking work-horse. It's only been three months, maybe the milk ducts are still visible and causing a wonky image.

Or not. Sigh.

Meanwhile, I have some work stress - nothing do or die, nothing that will lead to any kind of housing or health catastrophe. But I'm currently doing my job plus another (our policy analyst resigned) and well, it's a lot.

Add this to the general fuckery of daily living (who else out there has like 10K in credit card debt hat they're trying to bring down, that wasn't the result of a new car or fancy vacation but racked up on things like their children's ballet lessons?)

All of this shall pass.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

If I could do it all over again

Samantha is turning two.  SAMANTHA IS TURNING TWO.

Her sister just turned eleven.  ELEVEN.

If I could do it all again, if I knew then what I know now.... I would have started earlier.

Now, functionally, I'm not sure what this would look like.  Viking and I were together for 5 years before our marriage. Making it legal was inevitable, but maybe I would have pressed harder. I was 33 when we married, 34 when Niblet was born.

My mom and I have talked about how I should have ignored my job worries and started trying for a second baby immediately after Niblet was born. Yeah, I lost a year or two there. Who knows. And that's leaving aside the five straight years of  pregnancies and loss.

Please don't misunderstand, I wake up every day unbelievably grateful for my daughters.  Daughters with an S! But the reality is I might be one of those crazy women who had more, if given the chance. Sure, maybe the environmentalist in me would stop at two. But god help me I love babies, and it seems, I crave babies. And if the eleven year old is any indication, I still like them when they become old and snarky and indignant of your very existence.

"Gonna try for another?" my vice president asked me the other day. My jaw dropped.  "Do you realize how old I am?" I responded.

But in a different universe, in an alternative reality, the honest truth is yes.  Yes. I would.