Sunday, December 16, 2012

sandy hook

i saw the first bits of news on friday at my midwife appointment about Sandy Hook. it was a really strange setting - surrounded by women about to give birth - to see reports of so many dead children. not that there is an appropriate setting for that news, just that it felt especially wrong. especially surreal. more than sadness and horror (both of which i feel), there is this huge wall of denial in my mind. i don't want it to be real, because i don't know that i want to live in a world where it is real. perhaps because i'm about to give birth, because i'm steeped in so many extra mothering hormones, i have had a really hard time even thinking about the shooting. i've avoided facebook and the news, knowing that wallowing in the facts will tell me nothing true about what happened. knowing that no amount of anger or sadness that i express to the internet will do anything to bring those babies back. but knowing also that i have to do something, express something, deal with the horror somehow. i've really been struggling with how to live around this, how to shape myself in reaction.

the best i've come up with is that my first reaction to evil in my society must be repentance. not just on an abstract "god forgive us" level, but on a personal level. a level that recognizes my part in the society i live in. a level that recognizes that i play a roll in the numbness, isolation, voyeurism, callousness, hatred, division that leads lonely and disturbed people to a place of desperation and madness. that i play a part in the space that is left open for violent horror to be committed. i play a roll in making a society that fears and judges and isolates those who are hurting, ill, mentally unstable. i play a roll in a society that not only accepts, but fosters, disconnection by constantly coming up with new ways for us to spend less time knowing eachother's hearts and more time reading eachother's tweets. i play a roll in a society that has forgotten how to take care of itself, a community that no longer knows its members or meets their needs, or even cares what those needs are. i allow my elected officials to continually de-fund mental health programs. i participate in a society that requires parents to work the kind of schedule just to make ends meet that leaves not enough time to know their children. that fails to support families and individuals in need of counseling. that tells people who do need that they are wrong for needing. perhaps the denial i feel is in part because i know that if it is real, some of the responsibility is truly mine.

none of this is to excuse or justify what the shooter did. but he was part of a society that i am part of as well. and we are both influenced by and influencers of it. and for my participation in the wrongness, my heart breaks. god forgive me for my callousness, isolation, willful ignorance, judgment. god help me to know my neighbors, and to constantly expand my definition of who they are. god help me to fight the fear and distrust that well up in the wake of this tragedy by doing the opposite - by choosing to move closer to people rather than further away, to open my heart more rather than less, to seek out strangers rather than avoiding them. god help me to teach my children to do the same - to befriend the isolated and angry, to not just see hope for everyone but to actively cling to and fight for it. because i truly believe that there is hope for everyone, but that the good inside us cannot and will not win out on its own. we were not meant to live alone, and when we leave eachother alone we are all responsible for what happens. god forgive me.
that's all i've got really. but i think it is enough to go on for now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

fat and sassy: some thoughts on pregnancy and weight

i really dislike the recent obsession with "baby bumps" and celebrity pregnancies, and general fetishizing of pregnancy. i love pregnancy, and i love being pregnant, but being pregnant in a culture wild for celebrity babies is really disconcerting.
on one hand, every time my daughter kicks i am reminded of the awesome, mysterious, holy thing that pregnancy is. pregnancy, in my not-so-humble (and clearly biased) opinion, is about as close as a human can get to the divine. the closest a mortal can get to an act of pure love and creation. pregnancy doesnt just form a new human being (though that would be amazing enough), but also new parents and a new family unit. pregnancy is the beginning of every choice and action that the new little human will make in their lifetime. it's kindof a big deal.

so to reduce it to "celebrity bump watch!!!!!!" is grotesque.

what's worse is the whole "bump" terminology. it sounds cute and harmless, but when we obsess about "baby bumps" it is really just a different form of obsessing about weight and image, and judging women based solely on those things. it's a way for a society with a definition of beauty so narrow that it either ignores or openly scorns anyone over a size 6 to wrap its head around pregnancy. if we call pregnancy weight gain a "baby bump" rather than weight gain, then we don't have to be disgusted by pregnant women (because weight gain is so disgusting, right?).
but here's the thing - healthy pregnancies result in weight gain in all sorts of places. a woman who is getting adequate nutrition during pregnancy (which includes not only nourishing the baby but also building up fat deposits to carry her through the first few months of newborn parenting) doesn't just gain weight in a cute little belly bump. we also get thigh bumps, and ass bumps, and hip, and breast, and back-of-the-arm, and cheek bumps. and sometimes double chin bumps, and cankle bumps, and weird poofy vagina bumps. ignoring all but the belly bump doesn't make the other weight disappear. it just passive aggressively makes women feel bad about it, rather than the direct shaming that non pregnant women get if they have any fat in the aforementioned areas. the more we obsess about "baby bumps" the more we are sending the message that weight in any other area is so horrible it can't even be mentioned.
but the emperor has no clothes. or, in this case, has a giant pregnant ass.

i'm honestly to the point where it pisses me off when someone (who i know means well) tells me how "well" i'm carrying. which translates "you don't look as fat as you could". i happen to be 6'2", and there's a lot more room for a baby to grow in my torso than in the average woman's. and the same healthy amount of weight gain takes longer to show up on my frame. luck of the draw. and i don't think that someone looking bigger because they are 5'2" means they are carrying any less "well". it just means that a society terrified of body fat feels more uncomfortable looking at them.

maybe this all seems like an overreaction, but i really don't think it is. not when maternity wear is advertised on models ridiculously photoshopped to look like basketballs on sticks. or when women sigh with relief when they are pregnant enough to "look pregnant and not just fat". or when women, or their partners, feel too uncomfortable with their pregnant bodies to have sex. or when the most horrible thing you could possibly do is ask a woman how far along she is, only to find out that she isn't pregnant (how embarrassing! you almost congratulated someone you should have been shaming or refusing to look at!). or when it is an option when having an elective c-section to have lipo and a tummy tuck at the same time. or worst, when women have low birth weight babies, premature babies, or develop pre-eclampsia because they haven't gained enough weight.

so the obsession with baby bumps and celebrity pregnancy doesn't just obscure and marginalize the real beauty and wonder of pregnancy. it also directly attacks the beauty and wonder that is any woman's body, whether she is pregnant or not. it strips all women of their dignity and power and reduces them to the size of their bellies. marginalizing (by fetishizing) pregnancy is, at its core, about marginalizing women in general. there is nothing more uniquely female than pregnancy and birth (that's not at all to imply that a woman is any less woman if she never gives birth, just that a woman who does give birth is doing something and expressing a power that only a woman can do and express).
reducing pregnancy to baby bumps and celebrity maternity style is not about celebrating anything (as all the tabloids and maternity stores would like us to believe). it is, at its core, about limiting feminine power. it is about finding a new way to make women feel not good enough, dependent, and unsure. it is the opposite of what celebrating pregnancy should be about.

so that's my rant, and i'm not sure where to go from here. other than to the fridge.
i suppose all i can do is continue to not care how much weight i gain, and keep listening to my incredible husband when he tells me i'm beautiful, and do everything i can to model healthy body image for my daughter(soon to be daughters), and ignore the pregnancy hype and well-meant but backhanded compliments, and try to celebrate my pregnancy in real ways - by celebrating the awesome changes my body is making, and recognizing that they are signs of a power and beauty that has nothing to do with anyone else, especially not some celebrity.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

some pieces of thoughts that i might have if i was better rested

pregnancy has wrecked havok on my brain, rendering me incapable of writing more than one paragraph on any subject. hell, i'm happy if i can maintain a basic grasp of logic and remember to move the laundry to the dryer. it's much worse this time than last time. when i was pregnant with haven i could take naps, and after a nap i would have an hour or two of glorious, coherent thought. no such luck this time. there is too much to do with a toddler around to really allow for naps. all of three or four times in the past 8 months i've gotten the chance for a real nap, and without fail i've found myself unable to fall asleep. so i've resigned myself to the brief snatches of sanity that i'm able to hold onto.
all that to say that anything i post in the next 6 weeks (only 6 weeks till baby!!) is going to be pretty scattered. rather than fight it, i'm just going with it. so here are my current thoughts, in random order:

* as i type i am polishing off the last of the pecan pie i made last night. yes folks, i have eaten a whole pie in just under 24 hours. and i a'int ashamed of nuthin. it is/was some fucking amazing pie. i found a recipe on that didn't call for karo syrup, and added chocolate chips, and subbed rum for vanilla extract since i had no vanilla extract. best pecan pie i have ever tasted, let alone made. oh, and it took less than 10 minutes to make. i can't even describe how good it is. responsible pregnant women cook meals ahead of time and freeze them for when the baby comes. i am seriously considering baking and freezing a bunch of pies instead.

* i had no idea how really worried i was about the election until the results came in. once i breathed a huge sigh of relief, i realized i'm really tired. the kind of tired that is as emotional as physical. my little subconscious has been worrying for weeks. i'm just so relieved that i don't have to worry about losing our WIC, or about tony's parents losing medicaid, or my friends losing the right to get married, or myself losing the right to make my own choices about my pregnancy, or tony being sent to iran because of jackass foreign policy decisions. it is a huge weight off my mind. i know there are a lot of things wrong with the country. i don't really love a lot of obama's policies. but at least now i can go back to bitching about the state of the country from relative comfort and safety, rather than living in terror of not being able to take care of my family, and of losing my rights simply because i have ovaries.

* haven is a lot to handle, especially with tony gone. the farther she gets into being two the more really rough days there are, and i don't have tony coming home at the end of the day to give me a break. however, her amazing little personality is growing at least as quickly as her urge to drive me insane. i really love being the mama of a two year old. i love hearing her pronunciations of new words, and seeing her develop likes and dislikes, and having her come cuddle with me because she wants me rather than because she needs me, and taking walks together, and going up the stairs together on all fours because we are being cats. i love watching her try to stunt ride her rocking horse wearing nothing but a cape and a diaper, or do her impression of a cookoo clock. i love waking up to her sweet face saying "morning! c'mon mama. downstairs!". it is always earlier than i'd like, but there's no one i'd rather eat grits with at 8am. i have a pretty awesome daughter, and i'm really looking forward to having another.

that's all the thought i can muster up tonight. i'm pretty sure there were some other thoughts bouncing around a few minutes ago, but they are gone now. haven was up at 5 this morning, so i'm more brain dead than usual tonight. i've had insomnia for weeks (really frustrating when i'm exhausted but not able to fall asleep before 12) but tonight i think i'm tired enough that i might manage actually getting to sleep at a decent hour and getting some real rest. wish me luck.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

california love

i miss writing. i have missed writing regularly for most of this year, but especially now that i have things to write about. so instead of wisely using this time while tony and haven nap to either take a nap myself or work on unpacking some more, i'm going to fritter my time away blogging. i'm not moved in enough yet for anything deep, but at least i can do newsy.

moving is no fun. i have moved more than 20 times in my life, and it has never gotten funner or easier. driving across country used to be fun, but is not so fun when pregnant and accompanied by a toddler.
but San Diego is really freaking super fun. i can't even describe how lovely it is here, and how excited i am to live here for the next few years. i liked it right away, but with each step of getting settled in i like it more. the house is beautiful - probably the nicest and definitely the newest place i've ever lived in - and the neighborhood is quiet and full of kids and walking distance to great sushi. we have a fenced in patio where haven can play without me worrying about her running into the road, and it is always (seriously, always) sunny and breezy.

and then there's being at a navy base rather than an airforce base, and actually getting to be in the loop about resources and activities.
and then there's the awesome birth center where i will be seen and give birth, rather than the crummy hospital i birthed haven in. with midwives rather than doctors, and free doulas, and birth tubs.
and then there's the wicked-cheap produce, and way better buying options with WIC here than with WIC in maryland.
and then there's tony being at a command where people actually care about each other and the command is actually interested in helping out the families. we stopped in today just to meet the folks he'll work with, and an hour later left with a long list of everyone's numbers in case i need to call for anything, and resources to look into, and offers of help and friendship, and invites to activities. more in an hour here than in 3 years in DC.
and did i mention in-and-out-burger? you poor east coast suckers who have never tasted its burgery goodness have my deep pity.

in spite of the welling panic i feel at the thought of trying to finish moving in by myself, and go through these last two months of pregnancy by myself (panic that will probably become a wordy and dramatic post in the near future), i still feel like i can breathe here in a way that i never felt in DC. life is slower here, and people are not less crazy but they are crazy in a way that i'm far more comfortable with. every time the panic starts to rise, all i have to do is step out to my patio and feel the breeze coming off the ocean, and look up at the hills, and remember that i get to live here for the next 3 years. getting settled in is not going to be easy on my own. i will probably be exhausted most of the time, and snap at haven, and cry hormonally, and miss tony like crazy, and miss my family. but i will do so in a place that already feels like home, and then i will walk to get sushi and feel much better.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

notes from the eye of the shit storm

i feel like every post starts with noting how long it's been since my last post. i'm starting to think such is grownup life. i just have a lot more life to live than i did a few years ago, and so a lot less blog. but this week i have time on my hands and fuzz in my head, which is a combination that begs to be blogged about.

i've been learning the past few weeks about how to be calm in a storm. unfortunately, that requires being in a storm. the cliche is that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but for me i feel like what hasn't killed me has made me realize how strong i already was. it's a weird feeling, recognizing my strength and the strength of my support system, and one that i don't think i would have been able to feel a few years ago. when the current shit storm began a few weeks ago, i totally freaked out and started to lose myself in the stress and worry. that's my usual response. but this time, as time has passed and the storm has not let up but i have not crumbled, i'm finding a strange sense of calm and...pride? defiance?'s almost like the worse things get the more badass i feel.
the storm is mostly over. the crisis is being fixed, and it is just a matter of waiting now as that happens and preparing for the cleanup operation. it's not fun, and i'm not looking forward to the next weeks. but i feel confident that i will be able to clean it up and keep going, mostly because i was able to go through the storm in the first place.
i'm also finding such a heightened sense of gratitude for my amazing husband (who is under all the same stress as me but also still having to go to work and manage all sorts of paperwork on his end), and the generosity of my in-laws. losing our financial safety net has highlighted how strong our relational safety net is. a big part of my being able to grow and find strength through the storm comes from knowing that i'm not alone in it.

my next month and a half is going to be maybe the busiest of my life. i'll be cleaning out the house and getting ready to move, and wading through paperwork and appointments with my OB, and WIC, and the movers, and the housing office, and then driving across country and moving into a new house/city/state. all while being mommy and wife, and 7 months pregnant, while tony has to spend extra time at work. i spent the first half of august with a growing sense of terror about how i would manage it all. but i've spent this second half of the month with a growing sense of confidence in myself because none of the coming stress will be worse than the past few weeks. if i can survive being stranded out of state for weeks with no car, a toddler, away from my husband, living out of a suitcase i packed for a 4 day trip, while all our finances disappear.... i'm pretty sure i can handle a move.

on a strictly happy note, i just hit 24 weeks pregnant. it's such a huge pregnancy milestone, especially after my worries about miscarriage, since now baby would be able to survive even if she was born super early. oh, by the way, the baby is a girl and her name is valencia grace. and in 4 months when she is born all this stress will be just a memory.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

letting go

i am so incredibly grateful and happy to be pregnant (oh, hey, for those of you who missed the facebook announcement, i'm pregnant), but this pregnancy has hit me much harder than when i was pregnant with haven. i've been sick, and exhausted, and she-hulk cranky, and was really not prepared for how different it would be to be pregnant with a toddler than when i was pregnant by myself all day. but every time i think about the little grape-sized person growing inside me, and how amazing it will be to add to our family, and how my heart feels full after feeling achy for many months, it is so worth it.

when i first found out i was pregnant again i had mixed emotions. i was excited, but also gripped with terror that i would miscarry again. i didn't want to get my hopes up, or get my heart set on another baby, only to be crushed again. i spent a few weeks mentally wringing my hands, with my stomach in knots, expecting to lose the baby at any moment. but then it hit me that living in fear and worry wouldn't make this baby healthy, but could cause me to miss out on all the joy of pregnancy. i decided that this baby is worth all the hope and excitement and joy and pride in my heart, for as long as it lives...whether that is 80 years, or only a few weeks. this baby is my child, and deserves a mama who isn't afraid to fall totally in love with it.

it's not easy to let go of the worry. i have to remind myself daily to let go and love my baby with all that i am, for as long as it is my baby. i even feel a bit weird writing this post, because i'm still two weeks away from that magical, 12 week mark where the risk of miscarriage drops off. at the back of my mind is the fear that my next post could be about awful loss. but the truth i must try to remember is that it is no more risky to love this baby than to love anyone else. all love is a risk. any opening of oneself to someone else is inherently risky. it's just a little more clear and immediate of a risk in this situation. and maybe that's good.

i decided years ago that i would rather risk the pain of heartbreak than live with a heart too calloused and bitter to be broken. situations like this pregnancy are both a test and an affirmation of that. it's times like this where god challenges me to actually be the person i say i am. it's not about denying or ignoring or belittling my fears. it's about looking them in the eyes, and having compassion for the part of me that is afraid, and honoring that protective impulse, and then gently saying "but i will love anyways". it's a process that i know will continue for the rest of my life, and that i will need to go through over and over and over. because there will never be a way to love without risk, and i will never be the kind of person who is not afraid of risk. but i will also not be the kind of person who lets the fear choke out the love.

i am treasuring every nauseous, exhausted, grumpy, glorious, scary minute of this pregnancy. i'm choosing to let go of the worry, so that i can hold tightly to those i arms are long, but not long enough to hold onto both. and i'm hoping that i get to write many posts in the years to come about this new baby and our growing family. once i hit the "publish" button for this post, i will probably get a horrible sick feeling in my stomach, like i've tempted fate. but i think that's the only way i want to live.

Monday, April 23, 2012

feminism, marginalization, and blog has trendy words tonight

this post has been in my brain for months, and it may not win me friends but i need to say it. besides, i haven't been feisty on this blog in forever. if i don't soapbox once in a while i will totally lose my blog cred.

over the past few months i've noticed a trend where people throw around the term "privileged" in order to shut down others in a discussion. it is generally a discussion of poverty, gender, or marginalization of some sort, which makes it all the more gross.

when one says "your opinion doesn't count because you are ________ " it is dehumanizing and asinine. when one says it, one is basically saying either
A) "i know every experience you have had, and know that you cannot possibly relate to what we are talking about" which is presumptuous and ridiculous,
or (the worse) B) "although you may have been victimized and faced hardships in your life, your experiences don't count because you have X amount of money, education, support, skin pigmentation, etc." which is downright disgusting. it is especially so when it is used in conversations about marginalization and feminism. it is about as patriarchal of an attitude as exists.

it's like all of a sudden everyone heard the word "privilege" and though it sounded cool, and thought "hey, if i call people privileged i will look smart/PC/involved/whatever". it is a way of shutting down and dehumanizing people while looking like the good guy.

what bothers me most is how many "feminists" use it so readily, and against one another. honestly, it's part of why i am loathe to self-identify as a feminist, and why i think feminism has stalled and started to lose ground it gained decades ago. the "us vs. them" model is the very heart of patriarchy, and when feminists fall into it they lose credibility and effectiveness. bickering about who has the right to talk about feminism is beyond counterproductive. i think it's one of the reasons so many teen girls now roll their eyes at the term "feminism". it makes being a feminist inaccessible, because who, really, can join their voice to the discussion without fear of having their access to the internet used against them.

i understand that it is important to recognize the advantages one has in life, and that many people in the world don't have the same advantages. it is absolutely important to identify one's own privilege, and discuss from a place of gratitude and humility. but "privileged" is only something that one should self-identify, never something that one person should assume about another. the person i may judge as "privileged" may have been raped or abused, may have spent early life in poverty even though they have loads of money now, may have achieved their ivy league education in a desperate attempt to win love and acceptance from family, may suffer from mental illness or some other hidden physical disability. when i judge someone as "privileged" i am refusing to see them as a human being, refusing to believe that they could be anything deeper than my surface perception of them.

use of the term "privileged" as a pejorative separates people into two groups. there are the victims, and the privileged, the "have"s and the "have not"s. so when one uses it in a discussion of, say, poverty, one not only dehumanizes the "privileged" person, but also the "victim". when you say one person is privileged and one is not, you are saying that you know everything about the "not privileged" person as much as the "privileged" one, and know that they have never experienced any advantages or good things. as with any dehumanizing term, it dehumanizes everyone equally.

because i have white skin and am well educated, i have often been labeled as "privileged" by people who have no idea that i experienced homelessness as a child, have been sexually assaulted, have battled mental illness, cannot feed my child without public assistance programs, and fought a learning disability for the education i received. yes, i have had access to education. i have a home, food to eat, and this blog itself is a privilege which most people in the world (especially women) don't have. i have always had a supportive family on which to rely, and yes, the color of my skin has been more benefit to me than harm, i am certain. does any of that negate my past experiences? does any of that mean i don't deserve to have a voice?

at what point exactly do the scales tip? if one has never lived below the poverty line, is any opinion on poverty meaningless? how many years does one have to have had money to no longer be allowed to talk about poverty? does one have to be raped before being allowed to discus rape? does being male exclude a person from being able to care about and have opinions on feminism? does being straight mean one can't discuss LGBT rights issues? where are the lines, and who gets to draw them?

i think what bothers me most is that it is such an accepted label, and that no one seems to bat an eye when it is used to marginalize someone. it is not entirely honest to say that i dislike self-identifying as a feminist. i really do consider myself one. but it is an uncomfortable association for me, because i have felt just as marginalized by "feminists" as i have by patriarchy. and sadly, i don't see that changing any time soon. as long as so many feminists are set on relating to patriarchy on its own, adversarial terms, feminism will remain inaccessible and irrelevant to anyone but women's studies and social justice majors.
if "good people" can only prosper at the expense of "bad people", no one will truly prosper. if it is ok to exclude and devalue people because they are "privileged", it is ok to exclude and devalue people for any other reason. and there's the rub.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

back in black

i've taken a long rest from blogging. i've taken a rest from a lot of things, and it has been good. the many, many stresses of last year/early this year caught up with me, and it took some time to detangle my head and heart. but things are looking decidedly up now, and i'm hankering to get back into the swing of blogging. for the sake of catching up, here are the highlights of the past month-ish.

* zoloft. zo-loft. for reals. after several bad guinea-pig type experiences with depression meds in my late teens, i was skeptical to say the least. but so far it has been amazing. three weeks in, on the very lowest dose, and i feel like myself again after months and months and months of feeling off. and it's safe while breastfeeding, and safe if i get pregnant again. i'm so glad i went to the doctor. i realized, once the zoloft kicked in, that i have been depressed for a lot longer than i thought. i think it's been since late in tony's deployment (late last summer), and recently it just got worse and became harder to function. my seemingly overwhelming to-do list has been disappearing at a grand pace, because it turns out the list wasn't overwhelming, rather life itself was overwhelming when i was depressed. it is so nice to not be overwhelmed by everything anymore.

* i found a mom's group on base, and have finally found some friends here. haven and i have been having playdates at least once a week, and i've gone on a couple of girl's nights with other moms. it's been the first time haven has been with a babysitter, and she has done really well. it's great to get a night off every few weeks to go have fun. haven is loving getting to play with other kids, and i am loving getting to play with other mommies.

* looks like we are moving to san diego in october. it's not set in stone (because nothing with the military is ever set in stone...last time they switched orders/bases on us a few weeks before we were supposed to move), but pretty certain. i'm excited, because i love san diego. i will love being by the beach, and the amazing weather, and all the stuff to do, and the great mexican food and sushi. i'm also nervous because it will be way too far to drive to visit family, and flying is expensive, so we will not be able to visit home nearly as often. but i'm ready to be a california girl, i think.

* pinterest. ohmygod, pinterest. that is all i can say about it. if i am still lax about blogging now, it will be because i am spending hours browsing pins.

it's good to be back to the blog. it's good to be back to my life.
now that we're caught up i've got some blogs rolling around in my head, so hopefully i'll avoid pinterest long enough to write some of them in the next few days.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


you almost never were, and now you're not
but you were mine
for those few weeks before you failed to thrive
i miss your face that will never be a face
and the fingers you would have by now
i miss the labor pains that never came
replaced now by a deeper, lasting ache
that they promise fades in time

you almost never were, and now you're not
but in my dreams you still grow up
and i grow old and hold your babies in my arms
the way i will never hold you in my arms
in my dreams all things empty are still full
and i shake my head and smile
at the false alarm

you almost never were, and now you're not
absent now for longer than you were present
time did not stop when you stopped
and my heart keeps pumping blood that should have been pumped
for the both of us
who will not be an "us", only a "once"
the irony is not lost that you lived inside of me
but we will never touch

you almost never were, and now you're not
i called you Arlo in my head when i read the test
because i knew right then you were a "he" and not an "it", who should have a name
and now it can't be said
not even a headstone to carve it in
just my heart - the only place you ever lived
where you live still
where you will always rest

Monday, February 20, 2012

one leg at a time

i want to write about all of the craziness of life in the past few weeks - haven's broken arm, tony's eye surgery, etc. i want to write about finding pinterest yesterday and becoming instantly and deeply addicted. i want to write about the stuff i've been sewing, and how i finally found a vegan brownie recipe that actually tastes like brownies.

but the feeling i had in january of being stalled/blocked, combined with the grief over the miscarriage and the havoc it wreaked on my hormones, has turned into full blown depression. it's a familiar feeling, because i felt it on and off for almost a decade, but it's strange too because i haven't felt it in several years. i'd almost forgotten what it is like.
i am a stronger and wiser person than i was the last time it hit, and i am better able to sense it coming and cope in healthy ways, but it still sucks the life out of me. it's a lot like hypothermia - i slowly start to get tired, and it gets hard to concentrate or move, and i start to lose feeling. i'm not miserably unhappy, i'm just not ever happy. that's what clued me in. i'd be in the midst of something that should make me really happy, but the happy just wasn't there. it's like that fuse is just flipped. just explaining it feels exhausting.

on one hand it is a relief to have figured out the reason why i'm not happy (and that it is not that i'm not in love with tony anymore, or a bad mother, or a naturally bitter and dissatisfied person). on the other hand, admitting it makes it really real, and makes it one more thing i have to deal with. it's one more thing to worry about, when worrying too much about everything is my problem in the first place.

so now i'm trying to figure out what to do about it. medication would lift the fog pretty quickly, but i dislike it on principle (and from experience) and since tony and i are still trying to have a baby i don't want to risk the complications it can bring to pregnancy. i'm so terrified now of anything that could hurt a pregnancy. there is a counseling center on base, but it is going to be tricky setting up appointments around tony's constantly changing schedule. i think that's my best bet though.

when i'm depressed, my natural response is to want to retreat into myself and wait for someone to rescue me without being asked to. unfortunately, my natural response is heinously counterproductive. meaning i now have to not only force myself out of bed, but also make sure i put my biggirl pants on and choose to fight my own fight, and keep doing the laundry, and not snap at haven, and give her lots of attention even when i feel spaced out, and keep talking to tony even when i feel too numb to talk.
the biggirl pants are awfully big pants to have to wear. a few years ago i couldn't put them on. every time i felt like this i would get totally lost in it and spiral into self-destruction. but the truth is that i have worked really hard on learning to cope with sub-par brain chemistry, and to communicate and take charge of my own life. i am a biggirl now. maybe they aren't biggirl pants, they are just my pants. that feels a bit more manageable...god bless semantics.

tomorrow morning i will call my doctor for an appointment, so that she can refer me to a therapist. in the meantime, i will wistfully think of all the blogs i'd like to write if anything mattered.

imagine now, dear reader, that you are hearing me utter a deep, melancholic sigh. and also the rustle of feet slipping into fabric.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

that post i've been meaning to get to

i have always found immense comfort in a good list. i need a plan of action, and clear goals, especially during times of emotional vulnerability. there is something so bracing and reassuring about having a list that i can check things off of - proof that i am moving forward. and i love planning and discussing lists even more than i love making them. it's almost sick how much i love it.

i meant to write this post at the start of the month, but then life got in the way (though i love lists so very much, i realize that living in the moment and rolling with life's punches is antithetical to staying on the list. but i accept the paradox that while i need lists to feel like i'm making progress, that progress happens in ways i rarely thought to put on my list). so here it is almost february and i am only now starting to think about my lists/plan/goals for the year.
last summer while tony was deployed i got into a rhythm that was really working for me. i figured out a schedule that worked for haven and i, and i got the house cleaned and organized. i knew what i needed to do each day, week, and month to keep everything running smoothly. it felt really good, and a clear home somehow led to a clear head, and i wrote glowingly optimistic blogs about it.
since tony came home i have really struggled to keep any sort of housekeeping routine, and the house has suffered and the family has suffered. it starts because i want to spend time with tony rather than cleaning (especially when he works nights and our time together is brief and sleepy). but the more i put off the cleaning the more stressful it is to live in a dirty house and the less quality our time together becomes. when he was deployed, i would clean for an hour or so when haven went to sleep at night, and then the rest of the evening was mine for creative projects. now when haven goes to bed i try to spend some time with tony before he leaves for work, and then rush to get at least a few dishes clean for the next day before it's time for bed. cleaning during the day is pretty much a no-go. i can get the laundry done, and maybe unload the dishwasher, but anything beyond that requires more of my time and focus than haven will stand for. it's also pretty useless to clean when a toddler is awake. i vacuumed this morning, and by lunch the floor looked like it had before vacuuming. demotivating, to say the least.

i feel like as soon as i get a grasp on one area of life, i start losing everything else through the cracks. if i'm being an attentive mom or wife, the house goes to shit. if i'm keeping the house livable i'm losing myself because i have no time for creativity or even a shower without haven attached to me. not to mention that it all feels ten times more chaotic when i'm dealing with emotional blows, like i have been of late. the bottom line is that i am in desperate need of a firm schedule and to-do list.

over the summer when we were a family of two, my to-do list only needed what tasks i had for the day. but i think as a family of three the list needs an actual time schedule for when each task will be accomplished. i know that i waste oodles of time during the day, and working within a time schedule will help me find out where i'm wasting the time and help stay on that maybe, just maybe, by the end of the day i will have 30 or 40 minutes to spend with myself. i think i also need to get back on a long-term schedule for housework. it's not enough to have a daily list of what most desperately has to be cleaned to avoid contracting diseases. i need to have a rotation for all the things that only need to be cleaned once every week or two and get forgotten when i'm just trying to catch up the dishes so we can eat dinner. over the summer i had that schedule figured out but, again, it's different now with three. things get dirty one third quicker, roughly, and i need a new chore rotation.

a friend of tony's stopped by the other day, and it was embarrassing. i've been wanting to invite a neighbor over for a play date but there is no way that could happen right now. i hate that. i want a home that is always ready and welcoming to guests, rather than one that makes them and me uncomfortable. i think that's as close to a new year's resolution as i've got this year. god willing it won't take me the entire year to get there.

deep breaths

and then life picks up where it left off and just goes on. not as if nothing has happened, but as if the pain is not the only thing that has happened. as if other things are happening, and will continue to happen. part of me wants to be angry at the cliche of it, and the insensitive pragmatism of it. but part of me is just relieved. it is simultaneously a blow to the pride and a salve to the heart to know that the world doesn't actually end when i feel like it has.

i will always miss my baby who would never be. but my heart and hands are so full of my laughing, growing, troublemaking, playing, very alive daughter that it is hard to be sad for long. at least, it's hard to wallow. for a few days i felt like all i was was sad, as if sad might eat me up and define me. but my beautiful girl constantly reminds me that each day is something new. and my husband makes me smile even after i thought i might not be able to anymore. i still feel sad, but i also feel hopeful and loved and grateful for the family that i do have, and the people who have been there for us this past week.

i don't know how long i will feel a twinge of guilt when i catch myself laughing, or how long i will feel jealous and lost when i see a pregnant woman. but i think i will be ok. i think i am ready for life to go on. i think i am ready to go on.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

the sanctity of things that wil never be

sometimes the bitter irony of life is almost enough to choke on completely. today is "sanctity of life sunday" (a day of action for those who are "pro-life"). today i am miscarrying my baby.

i have never been strongly in either the "pro life" or "pro choice" camp. they both seem poorly named, to me. neither side seems to even see, let alone grasp, the complexities of the issues. i've always believed something along the lines of life beginning when the pregnancy stops being called an "embryo" and starts being called a "fetus". and i don't believe that terminating a pregnancy is always wrong, but i think it sometimes is. beyond that, i'm not sure.

what i am sure of is that even though my pregnancy was only in the embryo stage, even though there was no heartbeat yet (technically it wasn't even an embryo because the cells were faulty...just a tiny clump of tissue that couldn't become anything more), even though i can only refer to it as an it, it was still my baby. i only knew it existed for a week, and i was so immensely in love with it for that week. i know that it was something precious and beautiful, perhaps sacred. i know that i miss it. i miss the possibility of it, and the hope, and the excitement, and the plans. i miss what we could have been as a family of four.

knowing the depths of the ache that is in my heart today makes me feel for women who are in the position to make an impossible choice. it is so very hard to lose a baby randomly to miscarriage. i think it would be harder still to have to choose to lose it.

losing the dream that was my baby today doesn't really change my views about abortion. if anything, it further complicates things. i try to console myself with the science of it, and the fact that it was only a few hundred cells - which my head truly does believe. but my heart yells "but it was a few hundred cells that i loved, and that i would have jumped in front of a train for". so maybe the "choice" camp is medically right, and it's not a baby at all, but maybe god's heart still hurts like this every time. and maybe the "life" camp would get further in talking about the sanctity of life if they mourned with the mothers who choose to end pregnancies, rather than calling them monsters and denying their grief.

because maybe a tiny clump of tissue is sacred whether it will become a baby or not, is alive or not, simply because it is part of the beautiful and complicated world that we are all a part of and connected to. maybe we all should be more concerned with the sanctity of life on the grand scale, not just with its tiny complexities. maybe instead of sermons and rallies about the sanctity of one facet of life, we should spend a lot more time thinking and talking about, and acting in accord with, the sanctity of god...which might mean loving mothers who make hard choices as much as we love bundles of cells or fetuses or babies.

a lot of the "sanctity of life" posts i've seen today have only made the loss of my baby feel cheap. like the dream of life that i lost is being coopted by a cause. no one else gets to say if my baby was alive or not, real or not, sacred or not, because no one else carried it and loved it. and if i feel that way, having lost my baby in an "acceptable" way, i know that it must be much worse for those mothers who have lost their babies in "unacceptable" ways. it seems counterintuitive that i would feel more solidarity with them than with those who believe that life starts at conception. i think i simply feel close now to anyone who has lost a baby, no matter how or why. do the how's and why's really matter to grief? i think anyone who truly valued the sanctity of life would grieve with all of us equally.

it feels good to write. i have gone back and forth over whether to post this...because not a lot of people even knew i was pregnant, and because it is a level of intimacy that i usually reserve for my real/non-blog life, and because my heart is so raw that it is hard to breathe. but i'm going to post this because i believe so strongly in the sanctity of life on the whole, and that grief must be spoken and honored. and mostly because i do not want anyone else or any cause or side to speak for my baby and my loss. i'm the only voice it will ever have, and it deserved to be known and talked about, even though - and because - it was only a few hundred cells that will never be.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

the buddha got nothing on me

after i wrote that last post, i had a really good day yesterday. no toddler meltdowns and no mommy meltdowns. i had an unexpected burst of energy and got some cleaning done that i'd been putting off, and even cooked a real dinner. as the evening came on, i was feeling unblocked and optimistic, and looking forward to a night of peaceful blogging and hubby time. i thought "how wonderful that just writing about my frustration made it go away!".

and then haven wouldn't go to bed, or stay asleep if i got her to bed. i would nurse her and rock her like usual, and she would fall asleep in my arms like usual, and then every time i tried to lay her down in the crib her little eyes would pop right open. it felt personal. obviously, she heard my thoughts about wanting a quiet night of mom time, and she was trying to screw things up (i should note that a certain impending time of the month might possibly be influencing my attitude). all of the frustration came rushing back.
and then she started to spike a fever, and the frustration morphed into guilt. of course she couldn't sleep when she felt bad. what kind of mother resents a sick baby?

so my peaceful evening of blogging and hanging out one-on-one with my husband turned into a long night of administering motrin (let me just tell you how much my girl hates taking medicine), cool baths, and rectal temperature taking (which makes medicine taking look like a party). somehow we had managed to skate by for 18 whole months without taking a rectal temperature, but the oral thermometer was broken and it had to be done. we debated the emergency room. we called the mother-in-law who is a nurse, at 1:30am. and all the while i wallowed in mommy-guilt and swallowed my frustration.

and then something magic happened, as it sometimes does.
that zen thing kicked in.

somewhere between the rectal temperature taking and the next attempt at sleep, i just accepted it. i just accepted that it was a shitty night for all involved, and that there was nothing i could actually do about it so might as well give in. i accepted that i was frustrated and tired and disappointed. i accepted that i felt helpless to make haven feel better. i accepted that she might stay sick for days and we might spend more nights like this, and that's just the way it is. i let go of what i thought i deserved, and how i wanted things to work, and decided to take life how it comes rather than being angry that it doesn't come the way i planned.

baby girl is still sick, which means tonight's long-needed dinner out with friends is probably off. she is watching mind-numbing children's shows on netflix while i blog (there goes any hope left of a world's greatest mom award). there are no clean dishes, but i will likely only wash enough to eat lunch on and leave the rest. i still haven't had mom time or hubby time in days. the floor is covered in balls that have been dropped - in fact, i don't think i have any in the air at all.

and it's ok. because that's just how it is.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

stalled at the start

writing the first blog post of the new year has been on my to-do list since it became the new year. it's a bit daunting, actually. there are a lot of things i want to write about - intentions for the new year, the terror of raising a daughter in a deeply sexist culture, political musings - all sorts of things. but i've been stuck. not writers block, per se, more like life block? is that a real thing?

haven is now 18 months old and i realized that i've been physically attached to another person 18 hours a day for a year and a half. that is a lot just in itself. and life has been more than usually hectic of late, and hubby is working nights again which puts a strain on everything, and i'm always restless in the winter, and it all leaves me feeling weird and blocked. makes it hard to write those pithy blogs (i hate when real life gets in the way of blogging!).

i know in my rational mind, and in my core, that being a full-time homemaker and mom is what i really want. i know that it is what is truly important to me. i know that if i went back to school right now or found a job i would deeply regret it and feel like i was missing out on what is truly meaningful in my life. i know that i chose this life, and chose it for good reasons which i still absolutely believe. but.... but i am still restless.
knowing that this job of mothering is the best one i could have does not make it easier. knowing that i will have time when haven is older to make art and learn to can and finally read books again and go on dates with my husband does not make it easier right now to not do all those things. and there is so much useless, irrational guilt wrapped up in feeling so blocked and dissatisfied right now. as if admitting how hard it is to devote everything to being a mom makes me a bad mom. it's ridiculous, but that doesn't mean i don't feel it. i have chosen the hardest job i could possibly choose, and it is just hard sometimes.

i want to be a great mom, and have a spotless house, and challenge myself creatively, and be an attentive and supportive spouse, and write fabulous and thought provoking blogs. and i can't do all of those things at once. it is a constant juggling act, where more than one ball is always being dropped and i have to choose on a sometimes hourly basis which one to let hit the ground first. and that gets frustrating, and tiring. it leaves me feeling blocked.

i wanted to start 2012 with a post about my resolutions for the coming year, but right now it takes all of my resolve to just keep doing everything that needs to be done. today, i resolve to change diapers, and load the dishwasher, and make dinner. i'm starting to realize the very grown-up truth that just because i am doing what is important, and even what i love, does not mean i will always be happy doing it. isn't that just a bitch?

maybe this does touch on my intentions for the year, because i want to be more honest, and more understanding with myself. i want to cut myself some slack this year, and let myself feel whatever i feel for as long as i feel it. there are moments when i do that, when i reach a weird kind of zen in the midst of the chaos and just accept life as it comes to me. right now i feel like giving up, but i know that there is a fine line between giving up and zen-like acceptance. admitting that i want to give up is actually the first step in getting to the acceptance. it feels good to acknowledge it, but that doesn't mean i'm there yet.

there is a time for everything, and a season for every purpose under heaven. and some seasons are just crap.
so i'm going to work on accepting that i am not, and will not be, perfect. fuck. i really hate not being perfect.

happy new year.