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Posts Tagged ‘Motherhood’

Last night, out of the clear, blue sky – as if there were such a thing – my daughter said to me, “So… your dad’s invisible, right?”  I wasn’t sure how to respond.  My dad died three years ago but for much of my life he was, essentially, invisible.  But she wasn’t speaking figuratively – She’s 4.  I told her that my dad is not alive anymore and that many believe that people who are not alive anymore go to a beautiful place called Heaven.  I said that those people could think about us and that we could think about them but that we could not see or speak with one another in the same way that she and I see and speak with one another.  I told her that we could still think about and love one another.  What I didn’t tell her is that I really don’t know what I believe happens to us after we die.  (How could I tell her that?)  She said that I should paint a picture of my dad and hang it on the wall so that I can see him while I’m thinking about him.  I told her that this was a fabulous idea.  And then she said, ‘Which one of us will be invisible first, me or you?”  I told her that it would probably be me.  I tried to make this sound, in some way, light and cheery.  She played along for a few seconds and then burst into tears.  She sobbed and sobbed and, between sobs, said, “I just feel like I need to cry about that!!”  While I held and rocked her (and tried not to lose my mind because of the sadness of it all) I remembered the first time I learned that my mom would, someday, die.  I remember feeling that I would never be able to carry on – that life could never again be normal.

I was a child who had a healthy fear of strangers (thanks in part to the man who tried to coax my sister and I off of a city bus and to his home) and an unhealthy fear of impending war (thanks in part to being born in 1975 and also in part to the song, “Russians.”  Thanks a lot, Sting.).  I was afraid of loud noises, unusual weather, darkness…  But mostly, I was afraid of being apart from my mom.  I knew that one day Averi would start to understand that living is not a permanent state, but I was hoping that I had a few more years before she would start to ask questions.   Who was I kidding?  Last month she was waiting for her new baby sister, her “Halloween Surprise.”  This month she’s saying that she’d really like to have a baby brother or sister…someday.

Fuck you, life.

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When you pee on the stick and see the second pink line develop, you begin a reworking of your life story.  The movie that is your life is getting a new character and everything from that day forward is going to be different.  I got my second line on February 9th and immediately packed up my summer clothes and soon after, all the rest of my non-maternity clothes.  I wouldn’t be needing those for awhile.  I pictured the scenes of my summer: The heat, the swollen feet, the huge belly, complaints about the heat, the swollen feet and the huge belly…  Fall, my favorite season, would bring the start of preschool for Averi.  I would need to plan her Halloween costume early because the baby would be here in the middle of October.  Thanksgiving and Christmas, people could come to us if they wanted to see us.  Nobody expects a family with a brand-new baby to travel.  I worried about who would be with Averi when I went to the hospital to deliver her new baby brother or sister, how she would react, if she would feel replaced.  I wondered how I could ever possibly love another child in the same way that I loved Averi.  I wrote countless scenes from their childhood together.  I imagined Averi coaching the little one along, through babyhood, through school, through life.

When your baby dies, or when you find out that you will not be bringing a baby home from the hospital, production on the movie of your life is halted.  It’s derailed.  It’s scrapped.  You need to edit the new character out of the script.  But the problem is that you don’t want to.  You liked the movie with the new character in it and it’s not quite as simple as you think it might be to revert back to the old script.  You know that things have indeed changed forever, and that you will not even be getting a live baby to show for it.

A few hours before I found out that something was wrong, I visited a new preschool that we were thinking of enrolling Averi in.  I loved it and knew right away that it was the perfect place for her.  I told the registrar that my husband would have to be the active parent come fall because I would have a brand-new baby on the way.  I told her that I would put a check in the mail for the deposit as soon as I got home.  I didn’t mail it for almost a week.  Every time it occurred to me to write the check, I thought to myself, “I don’t need to pay the deposit for preschool because we won’t be here in the fall.”  And then I would remind myself again that it was only the baby who would not be here in the fall.  I have to remind myself of this ridiculous fact several times a day.  It still doesn’t make any sense.

I’m new at this.  I only found out 27 days ago that there was something wrong.  14 days ago, my baby died.  10 days ago, my baby was born.  8 days ago, my baby was cremated.  I’m not one to speak on the subject of going through the stages of grief after losing a child to stillbirth.  I haven’t gone through any stages yet.  I’m still reminding myself that everything is changed.  I’ve hidden away my pregnancy books, which seems to me like a start.  Your Pregnancy Week By Week was still on my nightstand when I got home from delivering my baby.  I couldn’t bear to put it away sooner although I had stopped looking at it after I found out that something was wrong –  I knew that my baby was not doing what the baby in the book was doing that week.  I knew that my baby never would.

So please forgive me if you found my blog, thought it was funny and decided to stick around for more.  I know you didn’t sign on to read about a woman who loses her baby and then possibly just a bit of her sanity.  Like I said, this wasn’t a part of my original script.

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When you’re in the midst of something absolutely dreadful, a lot of people will tell you that God will not give you more than you can handle in a day.  I used to listen and nod, maybe even believing them on some level.  I’ve thought a lot about this theory over the past few years and I’ve come up with the following conclusion: BULLSHIT.  When, on May 14th 2006, I spent my first Mother’s Day alone with my 19-day old baby girl, it was more than I could handle.  Two days prior, my husband and I had gotten married.  Our new daughter, Averi, had worn a garland of baby roses as we exchanged vows and wedding bands.  Hours later, we were awoken by the news that my dad had been in a car accident and wasn’t expected to survive the night.  My husband had to leave to start his new job, three hours away.  My mom and my sister flew to be with my dad.  I was left with my brand new baby girl and a world of sorrow.  It was more than I could handle.  On June 9th 2010, I went to Swedish Hospital for a second opinion on my unborn baby’s condition.  I had hope, prayer and a Tarot card reading on my side.  I left three hours later with a cervical dilation underway, directions on how to check-in to the hospital in order to deliver my deceased baby, and a business card in my pocket for a “Perinatal Social Worker.”  It was more than I could handle.

Maybe it’s an issue of semantics.  If, by “handle,” you simply mean to say that we can physically survive the day and live to see another, well, I suppose I did alright.  If, by “handle,” you mean to say that we are able to take in what is being presented to us and carry on, unscathed, with a plan or even a clue?  Not so much.  Here’s what I think:  I think we’re given what we’re given.  When it’s too much, we handle the little bit that we can and the rest is broken up and put into a million tiny boxes, intended to be dealt with at our own convenience, at some point in the future.  The reality is that we never find the time, life gets in the way, and those tiny boxes start to break loose from the tight little corners in which we tucked them.  They come after us, pelting us in the head and in the heart at the most inopportune moments imaginable – when we’re speaking to an insurance agent or buying coffee.  People think that we’ve lost it; that we’re drunk or insane.  These people have been lucky; they’ve managed to outrun their tiny boxes.  Or maybe they just packed them better.

These people mean well.  They have faith.  They have hope that we, as civilized human beings, can cope with hardship and pain in a way that is both dignified and sane.  I have the same hope, but I’m starting to sleep with one eye open because I know how hastily I’ve packed those tiny boxes.

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{I was planning to write a brand-new Christmas post today but I couldn’t think of anything to say.  And then I decided to re-read this post, which I wrote a year and a day ago.  It still sums up my feelings about the season.  Watching the proverbial sugarplums dancing in my daughter’s head still makes my heart sing.  The year has been hard and there is a part of my family that is missing but the little girl who remains is purely delightful.  Happy Holidays!}

The Christmas season is upon us. And when I say “upon” I mean sitting on top of us and kicking us in the face with its big, sooty Santa boots. For the past 10 years or so, Christmas has seemed like something to get through. The magic of my youth, when I would wait for the Sears catalog to arrive and then circle, dog-ear and then highlight (just to be extra sure) the 978 toys that I wanted, faded long ago. The enjoyment of the lights and songs and spirit of the season gave way to feeling taxed and maxed out, not just mentally and physically but also from the perspective of the kind people at Mastercard. How many Christmas cookies can one person eat (a lot) and how many pairs of Dearfoam slippers does one person need (none, thanks)? In short, I started to be the Grinchy person who was dimming the lights and hiding in the bathroom when I saw the carolers coming.

All of that has changed this year. My usual black on black on black clothing ensembles have been accented by a red scarf and red Pumas, and eggnog lattes are on my mind just about 24/7. Why the change of heart? It is all the fault of a certain blonde-haired maniac in a Pull-Up and footie pajamas. My daughter is 3 1/2 this year and the spirit of the season is in her eyes, in her silly Christmas dances and on her tongue as she talks to Santa in her sleep.

Because I’m so progressive insane I feel a little bit strange about lying to my child about Santa (although I have no issue whatsoever telling her that I’m eating raisins when she catches me eating candy). It’s hard to imagine the crestfallen face that I will have to endure when she finds out the truth. Nonetheless, we did the big trek out to sit on the Man in Red’s lap and let me tell you, she was elated! She was practically bouncing off the ceiling for days, telling and retelling every detail, every moment of their time together. I never expected such a truly, genuinely giddy response. And then last week we were lying in bed, reading bedtime stories.  She had chosen Babar’s Rescue from the library. It is a tale of a camping trip gone awry. Babar is kidnapped by a pack of stripe-eared elephants and his daughter must save him. After the story I asked my daughter if she would like to rescue her daddy. She replied, “Yes! But I don’t know how to get there!!” She looked absolutely terrified and it was clear that she thought her daddy had been captured by the stripe-eared elephants and was being fed poisoned Watermelon Smoothies with Babar. After calming her down I realized something: Christmas is made for 3-year-olds. It’s not for 34-year-old curmudgeons like me. The imagination and the promise of hope and miracles are so alive in a preschooler. How could I deprive her of the full Christmas experience? In other words, my little Grinch heart grew three sizes that day.

So pass me an eggnog latte and hack off a slice of that Yule Log. I have lights to hang. I have cookies to bake. I have a 3-foot tall stocking to fill.

As for Santa laughing at her when she nervously told him that she wanted “a toy” for Christmas? I’ll deal with him on December 26th.

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Raffi

I’m confused.  How in the name of Greg/Sam, Anthony, Murray, and Jeff has my child been exposed to the likes of Raffi without my consent or knowledge?  Prior to this week I was vaguely aware of Raffi’s existence but did not know anything about him.  I had heard of the song, “Baby Beluga” but did not know the tune nor did I care to.  Imagine my surprise when my kid picks up a Raffi concert DVD at the library and says, “Let’s get this ‘Waffy’ movie, Mom!”.  I added it to our pile of goods and didn’t think much of it until last night when she asked to watch it.  I put the DVD on and went back to my magazine.  Sweet Jesus!  What the hell is going on here?  I can appreciate that the music is positive and soothing but all of the children in the crowd seem to be drugged and why in God’s name are they all wearing pinafores and/or suspenders?  Is this the 1980s or the 1880s?

I decided to do some research.  Okay fine, I Googled him while eating an english muffin…  He appears to be a doe-eyed Armenian man with a penchant for using a banana as a telephone.  And the kids eat it up with a spoon!  I had seen his picture before but I think I had mistaken him for the prop comic Gallagher.  Without the hair, there is a resemblance.  And I think they both wear black, pleated pants.  So in that way, he also resembles Paula Poundstone.  Which would be Strike Two for Raffi.  If anybody’s keeping track, the Banana Phone was Strike One.

So, I still don’t know how the hell my daughter knew about Raffi if I didn’t.  We spend all of our time together and she only started Preschool last week.  My sister suggested that there may have been some playground peer pressure at work and that Raffi is only the beginning.  That terrifies me.  If Raffi is the gateway drug to Hannah Montana, please bogart that Banana Phone.  If you see me or mine on the playground, don’t pass it over to us.  We don’t want a hit.

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Hide in the bathroom
The only peace to be found
Three-year olds are loud

Where did your pants go?
We can’t leave the house naked
Stop touching your butt

Sleep is for children
Mothers fold clothes and worry
Will sleep come again?

The preschool bully
Brown pigtails and shiny shoes
Her mom is mean too

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Laugh if you will but my daughter and I have matching bathrobes.  The fabric is soft, fluffy, and as cozy as can be on chilly mornings.  It also hugs every single bump, lump and curve of our respective bodies.  Somehow or another this looks quite a bit more charming and adorable on her than it does on me

Barefoot Dreams Bathrobe

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