Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And See?

now I am fine.

See, I told you. I guess I am lucky in that I cannot sustain the Sad for longer than 24 or so hours. I just get sick of myself.

Thanks to A. for sharing an evening run. (did you see the autumn sky last night?) Thanks to M. for putting up with my slouchy, self-pitying self and pushing me out the door to run. And for reminding me that there are many, many people around us who love us and who get us and who will be here for us this season - they just aren't members of my immediate family (brother excluded. He tries hard.) And as I mentioned in the comments of the last post, this doesn't make them bad people. And it doesn't make me love them less. What it does mean is that I need to reconfigure my expectations, and not take for granted the overlapping circles of support that M and I both have around us.

And if any of you are in the area, you are more than welcome to stop by tomorrow afternoon to try out some chickpea gravy. I think its gonna rock.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Days and Days

....that I am behind in the whole MEME thing. I keep envisioning a lightning round where I just stuff you full of everything and anything you wanted to know about me in one fell swoop. Maybe that will happen.

Right now I am holding steady. Steady through the days.

Wondering who that delusional idiot was the other evening that said to her husband, you know, I think I'm going to be OK this holiday season. I think I may even be looking forward to it.

And I am - some pieces. Like our first vegan Thanksgiving feast. (hint: if you ever want to minimize your numbers for dinner, say the word "vegan") And the impromptu trip up north that we just might make to see friends and family. Getting a live tree. Seeing lights. Plotting trips down south to avoid Xmas day....All of that - that sounds nice.

The anxiety that crept up on me last night and hasn't left....the anger rising inside of me when people asking things of me, wanting me to function like I did yesterday or the day before when now my mind is squarely stuck on other moments (don't they know? can't they see? isn't it obvious that the eve of my daughters' deaths is soon upon us?)....the simple injustice of all of the "this time last year"s....Those things = Not So Nice.

And the answer to all of the previous questions is, of course, no. They don't know. They can't see. It isn't obvious. Why would it be? And even if it were, newsflash, we all have an ache to bear. This is something I keep trying to remind myself.

We all have an ache to bear.

I am not the only one with a gaping hole in my heart and a truth that makes me gasp if I allow myself to think about it. I am not the only person who walks into the holidays feeling anything but thankful. I am not the only one who is trying to get through.

And, as M put it so eloquently: even if you were, you will die holding your breath waiting for people to think about anything other than themselves.

Well, yeah. In some cases, yes. (in some cases, no. We'll get to that in a minute)

I guess I was just empowered, strengthened, encouraged by this great letter that My Infertility Woes wrote to her family and shared on her blog yesterday. I thought, oh my gosh, this is so gentle and so true and states so clearly what she and her husband could use to get them through the season. Wow. Wow.

And I thought, hmmm.....I wonder what would happen if I asked for some help, some understanding? Because as the sage M also pointed out last night when I was freaking out about an exam I will soon take, it is rarely evident when I need an extra hand. He was clueless that I was at panic point, and readily lent a hand (literally, to hold cue cards and quiz me) when he realized I needed help. He simply had no idea.

Along that line of logic and spurred on by the responses M.I.W. received from her letter, I tried the asking thing out this morning with a little text:
"Dear family: asking for your patience over the winter holidays. This is a hard, hard time of year for us. Thanks."
I thought that handful of words might minimize the fuss when M and I stop by to say hi but don't sit down or linger at the other Thanksgiving feast. Would alleviate the need to feign happiness and delight upon seeing my pregnant cousin's belly move. Would grant us at least a little repreive from faking our way through the holidays. Might help explain the unpredictability of us - honest to pete, 24 hours ago I was FINE. This morning, I had to brace myself and de-tear before a morning meeting around people that I do NOT want to appear teary around. Right now, a break in the clouds is appearing. I bet by evening I will be fully present again.

Still waiting for the full results from the morning text to come in. One has been disappointing but predictable. The other kind. A 50/50 split isn't terrible. But in the mood I am in right now at this moment, these words bring me up to a steady seethe:

I understand
beautiful lives and memories
a place far better and safer than this world
continue fighting
don't give up

I find comfort in none of this. None of these concepts work for me. And the fact that they were tossed out, one after the other, like sprinkling holy water, confirmed for me where I do NOT want to be for more than 5 minutes this Thursday.

So then what, exactly, was I anticipating? What did I WANT from that family missive?

I think I would like quiet. And an understanding for when we are quiet. I would like some room to breathe and grieve if those feelings come up on us as they seem to be. I would like the ability to be angry without someone rushing to comfort. I would like to be alone with my thoughts and not have someone else define them for me. I would like the ability to switch gears and not have to explain it. I would like a quiet acceptance of the idea that I can be sad in the morning and happy at night. And vice versa.

But, as I look at this wish list, I am thinking this is not mutually exclusive to the loss or infertility communities. This is what most of us want from our families, isn't it? And not just over the holidays.

Tell me, peeps: in a perfect world, how would YOUR family support you over the holiday season? What are the things you want/don't want?

Let's build our wish list together.

Monday, November 8, 2010

It is so rare

That someone writes thoughtfully about children with disabilities, the struggles of being a parent to someone with special needs, Peter Singer, academia, valuing intellect while still valuing people with intellectual disabilities....that I just have to share this:

There is so much I like about this article, but mostly I applaud its balance. And I especially appreciate when someone takes a sentiment that is familiar to me and makes it coherent and even poetic:
August's disability does not form a part of "God's plan" and does not serve as a tool for God to teach me or anyone else wisdom. What kind of a God would it be, anyway, to deprive my boy of speech and movement just to instruct me? A cruel and arbitrary God. August's disabilities are not a blessing; but neither are they a divine curse. To traffic in a cosmic economy of blessings and curses is to revert to an ancient prejudice. Indeed, even though August's disabilities offer ample opportunity for public interpretation, they do not mean anything at all in and of themselves—they have no intrinsic significance. They simply are what they are.
Some things simply are what they are.

Day 23 - Trust Me. It's Funny

Day 23 - a youtube video that makes you laugh.


Day 22 - Blog

Day 22 - a website that has been meaningful since your loss.

There can't be only one. That's just not fair.

The "L" part of the adoption/loss/infertility online community is one I tried to avoid before sliding into that category myself. There were blogs I would stumble upon, read, cry, and then say to myself, "I have to look away. That won't be me. That can't be me."

Pre and even during pregnancy I was hellbent on puppy dogs and rainbows and "thinking only positive thoughts" and I couldn't let the possibility of loss even enter my thoughts for more than a few moments.

But guess what, kids? Completely isolating yourself from anything remotely negative or painful and thinking only good thoughts while putting flowers in your hair and blowing kisses at the world - That doesn't always work. **

And for the longest time I blamed myself for our loss. I wasn't positive enough. I didn't want it bad enough. There was something I did (or didn't do) to make this happen. And you know you're being irrational and yet there is nothing anyone can say to make you not feel those thoughts.

And those thoughts are sucky enough. Believe me. It sucks even more to have them reaffirmed in allegedly feminist writing. In fact, that still makes me seethe. So much so, I won't reference the tome.

But once I found myself a part of the "L" I started scratching and clawing and hunting for all of the other loss blogs I could find. I forged bonds with those whose losses were still recent, like mine. I found strength from those who were a little further along the grief road. I realized I wasn't alone in my thoughts or my self-blame or any of the other crazed things that come out of your head when you are trying to comprehend an absolutely incomprehensible event.

And I will be forever grateful to those bloggers who reached out in my early days and said to me, kindly, softly, knowingly, "You will keep living. I promise. I did."

So this is a shout out to the entire ALI community. All three letters of it. I wouldn't feel right pointing to one blog over another. Because I would inevitably forget one. And, like life, I gravitate towards some on some days, others at other times. I am just so thankful there is a realm that exists where I can float among similar beings, each one unique, but connected.

** this, in no means is a diss on thinking positive. You know I loves me some Perfect Moment Mondays, and let's be honest, being bitter and negative 24/7 is totally draining. And gives you wrinkles. Positive thinking - it can do some amazing things. But there are times when the body is a tad more forceful in the mind/body connection. And that does not equate to a shortcoming in your mind, or your control over it. There are just some things you cannot control.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 21 - Recipe

I'm not trying to be a downer. Honest. I'm just following the MEME! But yes, it does seem that the blog's taken a bit of a somber turn of late. Here's how I'll make it up to you:

Day 21 - A Recipe

I can't really recall the original source for this recipe. I think it was actually the Frugal Gourmet - that guy on public TV that could be the doppelganger for my high school humanities teacher. I have added some elements from my mom/grandma's practices, but not a lot, because they are waaaaay too heavy on the butter and sour cream for me. And I've added some healthier and vegan options as well since we're toying with this lifestyle (and kind of digging it.) So, without further ado....


[note: if I'm going through the trouble of mixing, mashing, flouring up my counter tops, I want to make it worth our while. I usually double, triple or quadruple this recipe and freeze a batch to boil up later]


3 cups flour (I usually mix 1 c. whole wheat with 2 flour. I wouldn't recommend using all wheat flour - it's not as maleable when you need it to be)
1.5 tsp salt
1 egg (your favorite egg substitute works fine here. Or just increase the amount of vegetable oil you use by about a tablespoon)
3/4 cup water
4 tsp vegetable oil

1 tablespoon butter (or earth balance spread)
1/3 cup onion finely chopped
1 cup potatoes - cold, mashed
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or sauerkraut)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

For the dough:
Combine the flour with the salt. Beat together the egg (or egg sub), water and oil and stir into the flour mixture to make a soft, but not sticky dough, that holds together in a ball. If necessary, add 1 tbs more of water at a time, being careful not to make the dough sticky.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead about ten times or until smooth. Half the dough. Cover the halves with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and let rest for 20 minutes.

For the filling:
Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Cook the onions for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Transfer to a bowl and add the potatoes, cheese (or sauerkraut), salt and pepper.

Working with one portion of the dough at a time and keeping the remaining dough covered, roll out on to a lightly floured surface to 1/16" thickness. Using a 3" cutter (or the floured top of a drinking glass) cut the dough in rounds.

Place 1 tsp of filling (heck, shove all you can, I say) on each round. Lightly moisten the edge of 1/ the dough with water, pinch edges together to seal and crimp. Place on a cloth and cover with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out. Repeat with the remaining portions of the dough.

[now, you can choose to place the pierogi on a floured cookie sheet and freeze them - you can toss them into a freezer bag or container once they are frozen and you're sure they won't stick together. Or you can enjoy them right now. I usually do a combo of both]

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pierogi in batches for about 2 minutes or until they float to the top, stirring gently to prevent sticking. Remove to a collander to drain.

In a large heavy skillet (cast iron rocks here), or just reuse the one you used to fry the onions in the first place, melt some oil and butter over medium heat, cook a few slices of onions for about 5 minutes until golden. Add a few pierogi at a time and toss to coat and warm through. (I like to brown the outside of the pierogi just a little here. personal preference.)

This recipe makes about 30.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 20 - Hobby

Day 20 - a hobby of yours and how it changed since your loss.

Once upon a time, M, M's mom and I would meet every Thursday night at a local chain restaurant for "mom's night out." A tradition that began as a morale boost in bad times (that weren't even related to baby-making) and carried well into my pregnancy. A weekly event that lasted at least 3 years with seldom a skipped week.

We would order discounted beers, half-priced apps and beat the shit out of the entire bar playing NTN Trivia. You know, those little blue box things? Yeah, we kicked ass. Seriously. We would play individually and one of us could guarantee a top 10 spot on just about any game. I'm not trying to brag. But we were unstoppable. We won T-shirts, a weekend to Atlantic City. We ruled.

But the last time we were there, right after I finally confessed why I had been sipping on cranberry seltzers for months and months, I went into labor.

Only I didn't know it.

I remember calling the person on call and explaining my symptoms, being told to "just relax" and "go home and take a bath." Call in the am if it got worse. I remember M silent on the drive home, already freaking, already jumping to conclusions while I tried to convince myself and him that this was just braxton-hicks. All would be well. We called his mom and said I was taking a bath. We'll be fine. She was relieved.

The next time we talked to her was to tell her our daughters, her grandchildren, were dead.

She went back to the chain restaurant a few weeks later to let our favorite staff and regulars know.

We've never been back.

Day 19 - Talent

Day 19 - a talent of yours


Day 18 - Wedding

Day 18 - My Wedding

Our wedding was small. Somewhat by design. Mostly by laziness.

Once upon a time, I wanted to be a Foreign Service Officer. You know, one of those folks that get to sit in embassies and dream of being appointed an ambassador someday or worse-case scenario at least pushing papers in a semi-exotic or interesting location. Well, back when I was serious about it, I studied and studied and took the exam and holy shit got an invitation to sit through the next steps down in the Belly of the Beast (aka DC).

So I studied some more and filled out the piles of paperwork, realized I had lived (at that point) in over a dozen separate addresses (and do I have a reference for each?) Among the rules and regs and orientation packets it said that yes, the U.S. Govt was a strong supporter of families and would do everything possible to make the relocation of you and your spouse as seamless as possible. Spouse. Not soulmate. Not best friend. Not fiance. Not boyfriend. Spouse.

So that's when we decided to get married. A couple of months before my big exam so my name would be officially changed when I took it.

We talked about eloping. We talked about going down to Mexico and inviting everyone to meet us there. But then realized we would be semi-pissed if someone threw that invite to us with less than a month to plan. So, scratch that.

We decided upon a pretty awesome (and free) park very close to our apartment at the time. With rose gardens and a reflective pool. We would have the reception catered at our apartment which we dug almost as much as the one we have now and then family and a few select friends would feast down the road at a swanky restaurant. My dress was not a wedding dress per se, but looked close enough to one. Think lacy, flapper-y, whitish. I tried the gown shops and would just about break into hives everytime the cadre of made-up clerks would dash towards me with forms to complete (free mailing lists!) and harnesses and corsets to take with me into the dressing rooms. Every time I would head towards the discount racks or simpler styles at least a few would nod knowingly,

Oh this is your second wedding.....

No bitches! Step off! You don't know me!

So one evening, M's dad (master shopper) and I went to a plain old dress store and found something we thought would work just fine. M was fitted for a suit. And we were good to go.

The guest list went from tiny to big to small to big again to wait a minute, we don't really know that many people around here, do we? We had just moved back to our hometown from Chile and most of our friends were scattered - teaching and living abroard or just settling back themselves in various parts of the states. We felt a tad hypocritical sending invites off to cousins and aunties and other family folk who's own weddings and important events we had missed because of our travels. And well, we just didn't have our heads screwed on very tight those days either.

If I had to do it again, I would be far more inclusive. Far more far reaching (and timely) in our invites and welcoming of people to celebrate with us. I would have planned for folks to have something to do once they arrived after the "rehearsal dinner" and would have realized that weddings are really not about the bride and groom. I was just so hung up on giving my mom as minimal a role as possible and controlling all aspects of this tiny little party so that it would be "ours" that I am certain I hurt feelings unnecessarily. And caused a still-unrepaired rift with one of my former friends but that is not a story for today.

All in all, the party went pretty well. It was 90+ degrees. So the elaborate speech the minister had prepared turned into a "you?" yeah. "you cool with this too?" yep. And that was it. My mom clapped at the wrong time. My aunt got the great idea to bring my grandmother out of the nursing home for the day and she freaked the F out - that nearly sidetracked some things. My mom got my husband's name wrong (she claims she was joking. He claims she was heavily medicated). The food was awesome. People are still talking about the cake. The bill was astoundingly affordable.

And then we were off for three weeks to Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Complete with a journey via golf cart to the place where they filmed the first season of Temptation Island.

So romantic, us.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 17 - Art

Day 17 - an art piece (drawing, sculpture, painting, etc) that moves you.

Oh, this one is easy.

Angie painted this.

When I saw this on her blog, I realized that I was not the only one who cringed at the thought of my children as winged seraphs flitting from cloud to cloud or as my mom put it one day, "like two little bumblebees or butterflies sitting on flowers giggling and and looking over us."

Barf. Barf. Fucking barf.

Because that pretties things up, doesn't it? Removes the horrific imagery of your babies dying in your helpless arms. And sanitizes the truly awful things I wish upon the people I think failed them. Failed us.

I don't want pretty little angels. I want two little girls tearing my house apart, giving me sleepless nights, filling my heart with worry and love. I don't want angels. I want the mess, the chaos, the mischief that is life. I'll take life over angels any day.

And for the longest time, I thought I was the only one.

So when I saw this beautiful painting, I immediate wrote to the artist, who then became my friend, who then made me one of my very own paintings. All of this I cherish.

This is the art that moves me. The art that speaks to me and tells me I am not alone.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 16 - More Crying? Songs and Such

The official month of remembrance and awareness is over. But life without goes on. And on. That's my rationale for dragging out the 30 day MEME that will most likely span 40+ days for me. How's about a lightning round today? Ah, we'll see. Let's take it one meme-day at a time...

Day 16 - a song that makes you cry (or nearly)

Flash back to Day 1 for some sobs all of those slay me. I want to approach today's theme a little differently.

Have you ever found yourself listening to a song and have your eyes well up for no reason? Not because it makes you sad, not because you even particularly resonate with the lyrics, it just makes you feel Alive with happy AND sad and sometimes all at once. Alive with remembering some hurt and reveling in getting over it (or not). Remembering certain times and scents and people and equally thankful they are not in your life right now, but that your life has been indelibly stamped by them. Gah, I love that feeling. That feeling of remembering what it is to be ME, not just a childless mother, not just a wife, or a businesswoman or whatever, but me.

Here are just a few songs that make me feel this way:

My Curse, Afghan Whigs - if I ever sing in a punk rock back, this shall be my encore. I promise. I had a secret hope that Greg Dulli just might pull this one out (even though he doesn't sing on the original) last week. But he didn't. Probably for the best. This is one of my secret beloved songs.

Jennifer She Said, Lloyd Cole - Aww, forever she said, yeah forever she said, yeah for EHH EHHH EEEHHH ever. Ba ba DAH da da da. Ba ba DAH da da da.... This song will always be me playing hooky, driving in a vintage convertible, with someone I once loved, singing at the top of our lungs. Fearless.

The Bends, Radiohead - Chills the first time I heard the opening chords of this song. I think I had forgotten music could do that.

Best of You, Foo Fighters - M thinks the Foo Fighters are pure pop. I am really ok with that. And I love this song. Aside: A few years ago, Prince was the half time Super Bowl show and he played his ass off in the rainy muck. Doo rag and all. He pulled out a Foo Fighters song and killed it. M. says as payback for them covering Darling Nicki at one of their live shows. Whatever. I swooned. I can't even remember what teams were playing. All I remember is Prince reminding everyone that he can take any song and make it his own. Somehow, when I hear this song in my ears, I dream of Prince singing it. And making it even hotter. Hey purple one, can you make that happen?

Polar Bear, Ride - Actually, just take any song off this album and put it here. Ethereal. Shoe gazing at its BEST. I am STILL kicking myself for not seeing them my very first day in London. My provincial brain just could not grasp the fact that they were actually playing down the road from my dorm. Silly, silly little girl.

She’s not Dead, Suede - Another one from the London days. Overwrought. Angsty. Sometimes that feels like me on a good day. And I need someone to sing with.

And as of Oct. 24th, add this one to the list:

Hyperballad, Bjork, covered by Greg Dulli - picture this: 3rd encore. Way past midnight. Rabid crowd. Can't get enough of this pudgy, cleft-chin dude on stage who somehow has managed to sing over his adorers who have known every word of every Whigs song he has shared. Soft, soft drums, first words....some puzzlement. Wait a minute. I know this song. I know these words. Is it....OMG its Bjork. Greg Dulli is softly singing Bjork, the Bjork that I no longer listen to because its on the album that utters one of my beloved's names and breaks my heart. But this, oh wait, the cresendo...

I go through all this, before I wake up, so I can feel happy and to be safe again...

Tears. Tears! But not necessarily sad. And I've been singing it ever since. And feeling alive.