Her Bad Mother

Saturday, March 3, 2007

A Bellyful of Light

This is me, some 30+ hours before WonderBaby arrived in the open air of this fine world. I was in the beginning stages of labour; I thought (thought) that my water had broken (how one gets this wrong I still do not know) and had hied me hence to the hospital as instructed by my doctor (group B strep positive). It was complicated and frustrating and soon to get very, very painful, but I was - as I think the above picture demonstrates - pretty happy about the whole situation: free at last! free at last! Praise God Almighty I will be free at last!

Hence the big smile, the palpable air of ease. Note that I am cleaning my glasses. The most pressing bit of business in that moment was to clean my glasses. The better to appreciate the pending view between my legs, I suppose.

This was not my most challenging or uncomfortable pregnancy moment. This was my most challenging and uncomfortable pregnancy moment:

I am not quite four months pregnant in the above photo. The little bump that was the growing WonderBaby is barely visible. My ass is still tiny and I am still wearing size 4 H&M khakis. It was early days; early, early days.

But those were the hardest days.

I bled, off and on, from about 6 weeks of pregnancy through six months. Doctors could not explain it; they shrugged their shoulders, as doctors do, and patted me on the shoulder and warned me, with placid smiles, that I might very well lose this pregnancy. That lots of women 'lose' their pregnancies. That miscarriage is common. That there was nothing they could do, nothing I could do. Wait and see, they said. Wait and see.

When I passed the twelve-week mark, I was exultant: I'd passed the point of greatest danger. I had made it - we had made it! - to the second trimester. It would be, I thought, smooth sailing from that point on. After the first trimester, odds of miscarriage drop precipitously; all of the books said so. I seized on this fact like a life preserver: we need now only hang on, my bean. JUST HANG ON. But the bleeding didn't stop. At fifteen weeks and some days, after a week or two of respite, it renewed its assault on my undergarments and on my soul: I was, I was certain, having a miscarriage.

I was delivering a lecture when the worst of it hit; I excused myself, attended to things in a washroom just outside the lecture hall, and then called the hospital. The resident-on-call said, sounds like a miscarriage. There'll be nothing that we can do. You'd best go home and wait it out. I went back into the lecture hall, apologized for the disruption, and finished my lecture. Then I went home and asked my husband to take the picture that you see above. If this was the end, I thought, I at least wanted some record that I - that we - had made it this far.

It would, I thought, be the only non-medical record of a brief life. I spent that night curled up, tightly, under blankets, gripped by my sadness, bound by fear.

Sometime, in the night, the bleeding stopped. When we went to the hospital the next day, for an ultrasound, our bean - WonderBaby - was fine. We heard her heartbeat. We heard mine. Both were were strong.

The bleeding was never again quite so bad as it was that night. Somewhere around the six-month mark, it stopped completely. The doctors were never able to explain what had caused it. One of the many mysteries of pregnancy, they supposed. I spent the rest of the pregnancy in fear of those mysteries. I spent the rest of the pregnancy struggling with heartburn and backpain and swollen feet and fingers. I lost my wedding ring to the swollen fingers, and spend days crying over missing jewellry and outgrown shoes. Once, I got stuck in a closet, my fat ass and giant belly blocked by a box of baby crap that I'd pulled in behind me (pulling, not lifting, to be safe, of course). I sat there, crying, terrified and in pain, for a good ten minutes before the husband found me and pulled me out. There were a lot of moments of pain and fear and discomfort during that pregnancy. But not a one of those moments ever came close to those terrible days, and that terrible night, when I thought that the pregnancy - and the growing life that was the pregnancy's work - would be snatched from me by some inexplicable force of biology.

No matter how hard that pregnancy got, I never - not for one moment - wanted it to be taken from me. I would have suffered through a full ten months of blood and fear - ten months squared - and still clung to every one of those months with every ounce of spirit in me. I would bare my soul to ten times that darkness - ten times infinity - to reap the reward of the miracle that carries that darkness.

I would do it all over again, in a second. In a second.

I really would. I just might.

(In honour of the lovely Lindsay of Suburban Turmoil, who is counting down *her* moments. And in honour of all you other brave souls, who are living your moments - good and bad - with power and grace. Who are inspiration to me.)

(Did I miss anybody?)


Edited to add: please stop in at the Basement, whenever you get a chance. There's someone there who'd like an ear, and perhaps a warm shoulder, or many such shoulders, to lean on...

Thursday, March 1, 2007

We Are Not Alone

When WonderBaby was born, I was overcome with amazement at the miracle that I had performed. I was overwhelmed with joy. I was suffused with love.

I felt as though I had been hit by a truck.

It was (it remains) a complicated emotional experience. I was experiencing love as I had never experienced it before: I felt, at the moment of her birth, that I finally understood love, real love, the kind that makes you at once profoundly thankful for life and completely unafraid of death. But at the same time, I was experiencing pain as I had never felt it before. And fear, real fear. The kind of pain and fear that put you in terrified awe of life, and make you keenly aware of the ever-present shadow of death.

It was (it remains) an experience - a state of mind and heart - that is powerfully difficult to explain or describe. So it was that when anyone asked me how I was doing, immediately post-partum, I was at a loss for words. How am I? Fine. How was it? Hard, but fine. How are things? Fine.

Fine, I would say.

Amazingterrifyingheartwrenchingheartfillingheartfulhurtfulwow, I would think.

So it was - I thought - that no-one understood what I had gone through, what I had felt, what I was feeling. So it was that I didn't tell. So it was that I didn't tell one of my very, very best friends, who would experience it for herself a few short months later. I couldn't tell. I didn't have the words. And even if I had the words, I thought, I wouldn't be able to weave them into sense.

So I remained alone with my story, amazed at the aloneness. Gazillions of women give birth, have given birth, and I felt alone in my experience, like the lone witness to a UFO landing. You wouldn't believe me if I told you. But it changed my life.

WonderBaby phone home.

And then I found the blogosphere, and there you were. All the gazillions of you, mothers, who have lived, who do live, this experience, who have seen the universe open up in front of you and spill its mysteries, who have been pierced by beams of infinite light, who have been torn in two and lived to tell how amazingwonderfulhurtfulheartful it was. Is.

And you do tell. You do. You have found words. You have given me words.

Thank you, Tulip, for reminding me. A Perfect Post – February 2007

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

They Had Me At 'Scrotum'

News Flash: 'Scrotum' is a dirty word. You know, like dick, or weiner, or purple-headed trouser snake (which is, I know, four words, but still.)

You do not want your children to ever hear the word scrotum. Or read it. It will scar them, or, at the very least, prevent them from ever being able to appreciate Quality Literature, in which, I am told, no references to male genitalia ever appear.

(Ah, but wouldst thou have considered Shakespeare, who hath prick'd out many a character for our pleasure? For whom love might be no more than open-arse and poperin pear? Fie! Naughty Shakespeare!)

This may not be news to you. You, gentle reader, may already be well aware of the pernicious effects of the word 'scrotum' - even when used to very briefly describe the relevant part of the anatomy of male mammals - and so will have thrown your lot in with the good people who are calling for a ban in school libraries of this years' winner of the Newbery Medal for distinguished contribution to children's literature, >The Higher Power of Lucky.

If, however, you were not so aware - which is to say, if you are one of the ignorant masses who cling to the regressive and pernicious belief that the works of Shakespeare - or, for that matter, Aristophanes or Plautus or Machiavelli or (gods help us) Judy Blume - are more than common smut, you can consider yourselves hereby enlightened.

You're welcome.

Ignorant philistine that I am, I had not been aware of the distinction between Quality (Smut-Free) Literature, and Great (Smutty) Literature, until the ever-alert Mir revealed in her discussion of the excoriation of Lucky - which you can find in the den of iniquity that is the Sandbox at Maya's Mom - that there is an entire segment of the population that has known this all along. We should all look up to these people, no? They can show us the way out of ignorance.

(I love Mir, not least because she took a very flattering photograph of my breasts at last year's BlogHer.)

(I also love Maya's Mom, which is kinda like a chill-out room within the bigger party that is the momosphere's bustling salon. You should check it out.)

(Oh, and? If you do join Maya's Mom? You must ask me to be your friend. I promise to neither show you my breasts, nor shout the word scrotum at you, if those things offend you. If, however, you like that sort of thing, well, we'll see what we can do.)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Her Bad Hair

Because I've nothing to add to all of the post-Oscar commentary that is circulating the Internet (except, perhaps, this: what was up with all those puke tones? Mint green? Coral? SALMON? Almost made it possible to overlook the hideous bow on Nicole Kidman's mercifully non-puke-toned dress. Almost.)

And, because any discussion that I might offer about this today would rapidly deteriorate into cursing. (Not least, because it makes this joke now seem profoundly unfunny.)

And, because I am sick and snotty and cranky and - consequently - in the mood for a little self-flagellatory humiliation.

And - last but not least - because this fine lady threw down the gauntlet, and who am I to resist a good gauntlet?

For all of these reasons, and, possibly, a great many more that will only occur to me after I have swilled some more Nyquil, I offer you HER BAD HAIR, BANGS EDITION:

Late Eighties Goth Bangs. Hair dyed a distinctly unflattering shade of black; eyebrows carefully pencilled in with black pastel crayon smuggled out of art class because killjoy mother would not let me wear cosmetics beyond lip gloss (which, I needn't add, represented a serious hindrance to my goth aspirations.) Note teasing of bangs at crown: lower part of the bang is brushed down across forehead; upper part is brushed upward in spiky faux pompadour. Art.

Late, Late Eighties Bangs Of Desperation. Somebody saw Risky Business, seven years too late. So. Sad.

Early Nineties Bangs Of Despair. Short, heavy, blunt bangs never go with long hair. Which is likely why I look so miserable. That, or the hideous green dress. Or both. (Note, too, that this picture provides incontrovertible evidence that Bad Bangs compromise one's ability to appreciate things of beauty and/or adorableness. Possibly because they pull too forcefully and unevenly upon the frontal lobe, but that's just a guess.)

Mid-Nineties Bangs Of Ambiguity. AKA Her Bad Bob, First Prototype (Version Red). Early effort to work out the precise proportional relationship between length and heaviness of bang and length and degree of layering in bob, while taking into consideration variations on colour (experimenting with taking strawberry blonde into the deeper, more burnished reds) and angle of cut (angle forward along chin line).

Her Bad Bangs, 2007. Or, the iBob. Bangs now an artfully layered fringe that hangs neatly at point of eyebrow, thanks to skilled (and expensive) hairstylist and ceramic flat-iron technology. This will last until next hair-washing, at which point bangs will flip sideways and tidy bob layers will flip into strange Betty Boop-like wave, and I will resort to periodically pulling bangs and sides back with WonderBaby's toy tiara to keep them from flopping into my face while I am hunched over my laptop.

And no, you will not see a picture of that. I have my dignity.


On a more serious note, support is needed in the Basement. Please, when you have a sec, pay a visit...


Oh, and? Many, many thanks to OTJ, Mom-NOS and Kyla for the awesometasticness that is nominating (naming?) me for a Thinking Blogger Award. Which, well... me? Thinking? REALLY?

It's supposed to be a meme-ish kind of award, so I'm going to have to give some thought to how I'll pay this forward. Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dads Can Be Lactivists, Too!

Overheard at the Bunch Family Salon, as WonderBaby raced in circles with a giant bottle purloined from the Lorraine Kimsa Theatre Props Corner:

Dad #1: Do you suppose that's formula or expressed breastmilk in that bottle?
Dad #2: If that's breastmilk, I'd sure like to meet the mother.