po’d


please stop by to visit tash today. and if you can, send some love and sympathy her way at 4:45, the time of maddy’s birth.

well, not really, but i can’t get the song out of my head. but it’s more like “last night i dreamt // that somebody cut me….”

last night i dreamt that my old ob, dr h, needed to operate on me. so he set up me on the operating table, got all the tools and machines and ready, and then — hey! — left the room. in his wake he left a giant 21st-century-medieval circular saw-pendulum type instrument with a blade the size and shininess of a new cd. i realized as it came swooping down from my right side that he’d forgotten to anesthetize me. so i started squirming and twisting — with my hands tied down i was unable to actually get off the table — and for the next few interminable dream-hours i was squirming and twisting to avoid being sliced open. my most righteous indignation was about the drugs — if you’re gonna cut me open, at least KNOCK ME OUT first! when the machine finally started to rise back toward the ceiling and i relaxed, the bonds around my wrists were magically released. i sat up breathing hard, and looked around only to realize i was in my basement surrounded by loads and loads of unwashed laundry. i thought “screw it, i’m beat up and angry and i’m not doing laundry right now” and went upstairs to find my mother helping s with m’s dinner.

i guess that’s the funny thing about needing to dig. wanting to do it, doing it or not, it gets itself done. i’m in my basement needing to save myself from physical pain and damage while i also need to wash up and avoid my mother? yeah, right. i know.

can’t top tash’s craptastic but can offer this gem of a x-mas card, seen two nights ago at target when i actually thought for a brief moment  (ha!) that i might get around to sending out holiday cards this year:

front: picture of cute little girl holding letter to santa and a puppy.

text:

jackie finally got the puppy she wanted. thank goodness santa didn’t screw up this year and bring her a baby brother.

 oooh, thank goodness.

the sad thing is if i’m left alone i think this is kinda funny, in a pathetic sorta way. but that feeling is fleeting, and i just get stuck on jackie’s good fortune, which should not be confused with the probably not-so-good fortune of her parents. and the real joke, the joke the writer likely did not even intend, the joke about the ease and simplicity of babies appearing.

neuroses exhaustion hormones grief:

today a colleague, walking down a set of stairs with me, said: “i bet i know a little girl who is about bursting with excitement at your house!”

now, i could have said “well, actually, she’s only 16 months old and she doesn’t really get it.”

or i could have lied said “oooh, she is! we are all feeling so festive and are counting the days ’til santa arrives!”

but no.

i told her that we don’t have a tree up. (even one in a cage.) or lights. (ok, s *did* hang one strand around our front window, which is quite lovely and i’m glad to have it up, but it isn’t the same as really decorating.) we have not shopped. there are no wrapped gifts anywhere in our house. i told her we are really grateful that m is so young because she doesn’t really know how seriously we are dropping the [hyped-consumerism] ball.

and she said, bless her heart, “oh, but you’ll make it a good day for her. i know you will.”

and i said “well, not really. none of us are very happy. we’re not looking forward to this holiday at all.”

the truths of the matter are this:

m will love simply being home with us for days on end. and she will enjoy spending time with her grandparents and her baby cousin e and her favorite aunt and uncle in the whole world. and she’s getting some great gifts from them, and they’ll create a festive atmosphere complete with the excitement of ripping open packages and gorging on holiday food and staying up late.

and we are very grateful that they are here and will do those things, because we can’t.

i should be big and fat and round and waddling and tired and hemorrhoidal and preparing to birth a beautiful baby who is supposed to come to us in the cold winter months and stay with us — living, breathing, playing, crying, pooping, biting, smiling — for a long, long time. instead, i am trying (and failing) to find a christmas ornament in her memory. because i don’t feel like i can commemorate her with a stupid decoration, i don’t want to decorate at all.  i am trying (and failing) not to be so, so angry at all the healthy living babies people around me people are gushing about. because i am angry i am tense and my head hurts and my mouth is dry and i want to curl in a ball and sleep until 2009 and i am afraid to talk to people because they want to show off pictures of their children and grandchildren with santa and it’s all i can do to say to them “hey, idiot, remember me? the woman whose infant daughter just died?”

i want to hold and treasure m, and i do: i spend every waking moment with her holding her in my lap or cuddling her. and she is ecstatic about this. but i do not want to celebrate. not a goddamned thing.

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when you run your url through this site it will not only rate your blog, it will tell you what terrible/wonderful things you did to earn your rating.

my sins? i wrote “death” five times, “dead” three times, and “bitch” once. i’m pretty sure i meant to say “bitch” more than once — god knows i’ve thought it more than once. and what about “whore”? “whore” seems to me to be a bad word. sure as hell isn’t angel, anyway. but it doesn’t even make it onto the list of naughty things i’ve said. maybe i’ve been wrong all along, and whore isn’t a worse word than either “death” or “bitch.” (i’m pretty sure that the little tool does not account for context, so i doubt that the censors excuse me just because i use the word when talking about a toddler’s shoe preferences.)

i’m fascinated by three different bits of the algorithm of grammar implied by this tool.

first: can’t these tools do more than simply count? back when i had only said “dead” 3 times i was pg-13. i am not lying. what good are all of our technological advances if they can’t even give us a good look at one of the tools that all of use every day just to stay alive? or at least to stay human. (or am i misremembering my fourth-grade science, that language is one of the things that sets us apart from other mammals, or at least from other mammals with opposable thumbs?) ok, what i really want to ask is “why are these tools so dumb?”

second: when you describe something terrible, as long as you use nice words, well, then what you’re saying must be nice, right? because we all know that meaning is always explicit and language is always transparent. and bad words live in the ether, or our minds, or our mouths, as bad words, and good words are always good words. no mixing and matching. no subtlety, for chrissakes.

third, and something that deadbabymommas everywhere know: death and dead are terribly bad words. they are scary. and people should be protected from them. and should shun women who use them too often, especially in public.

dead dead dead dead dead dead dead. two of my daughters are dead. their deaths sadden me. their deaths depress me. their deaths leave a pit in my stomach and make my breath catch in my throat. their deaths leave me with phantom-baby-sensations in my empty arms. their deaths terrify me and make me worry that the rest of my family will die and be dead and there is nothing i can do about it.

count that, f*cker.

comments from my coworkers, in ascending order of inanity:

from my secretary, a woman who just took two weeks off to spend with her two-week old grandson, when i asked her how her holidays were:

oh great, just great. i mean, the baby is sooooo cute. he’s 13 pounds already! but he had an infection and had to spend two days in the hospital. gosh, that was really hard. but everything’s great now. how are you? are you feeling great too?

from the president, whose first grandchild was born about two weeks before ruby died, and who saw me yesterday carrying m in the late afternoon:

oh, well, look at her! she is just adorable. now, is this the big…[awkward silence]…one?

and from another colleague who saw me with m (s had a job “interview” on campus yesterday, so i was on mommy-duty for an hour or so), and who knew i had been pregnant, who had seen me very visibly pregnant, who even talked to me about being pregnant:

oh, she’s beautiful. just beautiful. she must be the light of your life. is she your only child?

i was actually so fed up by that point that i looked her in the eye and said “only if you don’t count the dead ones.”

i’ve heard lots of women talk about the kind of person grieving mothers become, at least for a period of time when their grief is raw. i like cecily’s description — because i fit it:

That is what grief does to you; it makes you alternately gracious and kind, and also small and mean.

a bit of me, especially (and unfortunately) at work, is in small and mean mode.  maybe i should try being small and mean with my mouth closed.

thanksgiving 2005 — 9 months after earl died — i stayed home by myself and ate a pumpkin pie.

we usually give thanks with a large group of friends that all make an effort to see each other twice a year: once for a summer trip to the beach, and again for thanksgiving. these are the two most important events of my year. i love love love these people. but that year i couldn’t go.

a week before the big day a friend had mentioned that a certain, kinda-extra couple would be there. i like these people a lot, and i think my friend meant to cheer me by telling me they’d be spending thanksgiving with us. but…he said something (i can no longer remember exactly what) about them bringing their son, who was about 15 months old. and while even though i can’t remember what he said i remember perfectly clearly the thought i had after he said it: “don’t offer me a substitute baby!” whatever he had actually said, i had heard him say that even though my baby wouldn’t be there, this other baby would. i’m pretty sure he didn’t mean even to say that.

i didn’t break down until after i got off the phone. then i sank into the couch and wept.

i haven’t thought about that day for a while. it has been much easier and so much more pleasant to remember thanksgiving 2006, when 3-month-old mairin responded to the noise and chaos of the food-and-friend-filled weekend by nursing nonstop — straight through, even, our outing to see casino royale. she was the hit of the weekend. she made mothering look so easy.

but i’m thinking about that day now because tomorrow i’ll be eating turkey with a thoughtless woman who once referred to earl as “the miscarriage baby.”

i don’t want to see her.

i don’t want to have to talk to her.

i don’t want anybody to mention ruby in front of her.

i’ve been obsessing about this for two weeks, since i learned the very disappointing news that she’d be joining us. (i don’t usually feel this way toward people, but this woman is a very special case.) i’ve been imagining all the terrible things she might say to me, or in front of me, or within ear shot, and i’ve been trying to think of snappy comebacks. nada. everything i think of is just bitchy right back in return. and long-winded. i mean, if i’m going to be an evil bitch from hell, i should at least be a quick-witted evil bitch from hell.

gotta love the holidays.