Archive by Author

Reflections on a Home

24 Jul

Three years.

I watched as the new kitchen was installed when I was 10 weeks pregnant with Nadav.

6 weeks later, I lay  in the bedroom hoping he would be ok.

6 weeks later, my water broke on the bathroom floor.

4 days later, I sat on the balcony. Empty. Crying and chain smoking.

I spent a lot of time on that balcony crying and chain smoking.

The room that sat empty, waiting to be filled by him ,became a guest room with paintings of flower vases on the walls.

Then we mourned. And we waited. And the gaping wounds became scars.

I cooked meals, fantasizing about what it would be like to cook those same meals for my child.

I took long baths. I listened to podcasts. I recorded some of my own. I painted. I watched a lot of TV.

We built our careers. We held our marriage together through unspeakable pain.

I spent six months making a dent in the same place on the couch. Working. Crying. Worrying. Counting kicks. Watching a lot of Dr. Who and Masterchef.

We brought our baby girl home, healthy.

I sat in the corner of the living room begging for sleep.

I sat in the corner of her room, the room that was once empty, the room that was now full of her joyous being, watching her sleep.

I cooked her first meal in the kitchen I built when I carried her big brother.

I showed her the trees from the balcony where I used to chain smoke and cry.

I watched her crawl for the first time on this floor not 10 feet away from where my water broke.

I watched her stand for the first time, leaning on the walls covered with paintings made in the service of healing.

I watched her dance for the first time, with the sunlight streaming through these windows that I looked through for all of those months that I sat here, keeping her safely inside me.

This place, which has known more joy and more grief than I ever thought any place could contain.

This place, where I laughed and cried and cooked and hugged my husband.

Where we planted a tree on his first birthday.

Where we danced around the living room with her more times than I can count.

This place, where we thought we would live for a very long time.

This place that has a magical power: It releases grief and retains joy and light.

This place, that can no longer be our home, because it’s time to move on.

This place, which I entered lost, I inhabited wounded, and I leave – found.

This place where I came into my own.

Where we came into our own.

Where we became a family.

Our first true home. Her first home.

Tomorrow it will be emptied, waiting for another family to inhabit it.

I hope it gives them as much as it has given us.

I hope his tree grows big and tall - watching over it.

I hope we find another home that will harbor us and protect us like this one has.

That will empty out grief and retain joy and light.

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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

20 Jul

Somebody tell me what the fuck I’m supposed to do.

I’ve lost people I love to terrorist attacks.

I’ve seen people around me lose husbands and sons to this conflict.

I’m afraid to voice my own beliefs on this blog for fear of getting attacked for them.

Because even though I’m a moderate I’ve been called a Nazi for even believing that I have a right to call Israel my home.

So I keep my views to myself because I know that this is an English language blog, that gets read by people in the United States. And Canada. And Europe.

And a host of other places where anti-semitism is on the upswing.

A host of places I admit I wish I could move to.

Because I don’t want my daughter to lose someone she loves to a terrorist attack. Or have to run into a bomb shelter in the middle of the night. Or have to watch her government take drastic action that she doesn’t agree with.

But tell me – what the fuck am I supposed to do?

I can’t leave. I’ve lived outside of this country before. I’ve been hated and cursed for being Jewish. For being Israeli.

Yes. I have. I have stories that would make your skin crawl.

But I don’t talk about that on this blog.

Because I know there’s some asshole out there who thinks that I don’t deserve to live because of the place where I was born and where I live.

And another asshole who would think I’m self-hating because I don’t support my government’s decisions blindly.

And another asshole who thinks that me thinking that I have a right to live in this country in peace makes me a bad person.

So tell me

What the fuck am I supposed to do?

I can’t up and leave. I can’t leave my family. Leave my friends. Leave my job. Leave a life I’ve worked so hard to build.

I can’t go anywhere else because anywhere else I’m different. Anywhere else I’m hated.

But how the fuck am I supposed to raise my child in this? How the fuck am I supposed to live in this reality?

Where my country is under siege by a group of monsters who use their women and children as human shields.

But that means that my country hurts those women and those children in the name of protecting us.

And as I sit here and type these words all I can think about is how every Israeli right wing fundamentalist will read this and curse me out for being a traitor, and every anti-Israel nut job will read this and say that I’m a criminal simply for living here. For having my child here. For building my home here. For belonging to this country.

But this is my home.

So tell me – what the fuck am I supposed to do?

Stay silent. Wrap myself and my child in a bubble of denial.

But she’ll be old enough one day to understand the things that are going on around her. She’ll be old enough one day to be afraid. To ask questions.

This never ending war. It’s been going on since before my parents were born. How long will it continue?

How long until EVERY HUMAN BEING in this region will feel safe in their own home?

How long until I can stop shedding tears for the grief, fear, and sense of insecurity that my daughter will one day inevitably feel?

But I can’t leave. Because this is my home. And I’m hated and shunned everywhere else.

Yet I’m hated and shunned here. And I’m hated and shunned for living here.

And I don’t see how my daughter’s fate will be any different.

So tell me – what the fuck am I supposed to do?

Bullets on Bunny – Holy Crap This is Overdue! Edition

11 Jul

*tap tap* is this thing on?

  • Things have been INSANE. I don’t even know where to start!
  • Meds: No sir, I did not like them. I was on them for 4 weeks and saw that the drawbacks outweighed the benefits completely. I’m officially off them as of yesterday. Going to try an extended release Xan.ax regimen and see how that goes.
  • London, baby! Shmerson and I survived 4 days away from Bunny – all in the service of seeing Monty Python’s first live show in about 30 years. Yep – we actually did that! It was AMAZING and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We were acutely aware of the fact that this was most likely our last time away as a couple for a long time to come, so we did our best to make the best of it. And I only lost my shit twice because I missed Bunny! Otherwise denial was my friend. As was an ungodly amount of shopping (clothes and toys for her, an irrational amount of Dr. Who merchandise for us). Bunny loves her new Dalek plush. He now kisses her goodnight during our bed time routine and tops it off with an EXTERMINATE! For good measure. It’s her favorite doll. Yes, we are dorks.

  •  Speaking of being away from Bunny – I will be going to Content Marketing World 2014 in Cleveland in September! I know a bunch of  you do the content thing for a living. If you’re planning on attending, drop me a line. We can network and/or find out together if there’s anything interesting to do in Cleveland in the evenings. Now I just need to figure out how to manage 6 days without her and Shmerson. YIPES!
  • And now for the biggest news (and the main reason for my chronic MIA status): We’re moving! We didn’t manage to sell our place (the real estate market here is currently just WEIRD). But the commute has been killing us (Shmerson is on the road 3-4 hours every day and always gets home long after Bunny is asleep, and I make the same commute twice a week), so we decided to rent out our place and rent a place closer to work. Today the agreement was signed and we’re moving in TWO WEEKS! We will be a 10 minute WALK from the office. This will do wonders for our quality of life. I cannot wait.
  • I’m sure some of you have been watching the news and see that the fit has hit the shan once again in the region. I NEVER talk politics on this blog, and I’m not about to start. I’ll just say we’re safe, but having to endure missile sirens and a fair amount of anxiety. Hoping the current crisis will pass soon.
  • And Bunny. Oh my flying spaghetti monster I cannot even begin to tell you how amazing she is. She’s babbling, standing (almost!) on her own, crawling around like a mad woman and waving “hello” to everyone and everything, which is the cutest thing ever. She’s also starting to show signs of similarity to her momma: an irrational love of carbs and a stubborn streak that is a force to be reckoned with. I am doing all I can to savor and enjoy every single moment with her. She is a ball of pure unadulterated joy.
  •  Alas, dear readers, now that Bunny is a bit older I’m afraid her father has become more paranoid about my posting her pictures in this space. So I will leave you instead with a blurry picture of the stage at the O2 theater in London, about 10 minutes before Monty Python stormed it with th energy of 5000 killer bunnies with big pointy teeth.

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  • So that’s the long and short of it! How are all  of you guys doing?

Back in the Saddle

15 Jun

So I know I’ve been away for a bit. Things are their usual insanity, but the truth is I’ve been going through some stuff.

I spoke about it here quite a bit lately – postpartum anxiety. I’ve been treating it with Xan.ax. But the truth is, like I wrote here in the past part of my way of dealing is taking care of Bunny with a bit of emotional detachment.

I wasn’t liking it. And it was starting to bleed into my other relationships. I was getting more detached for longer periods of time. Finally, Shmerson said that he thought it was time I check in with my therapist. So what if I don’t have the time. I need to MAKE the time.

So off I went, and it was truly a wake up call. I don’t want to go into it here, but the long and short of it is that 20 minutes into the session she said she thought it was time I get back on anti-depressants.

I credit cym.balta with saving my life. I also credit it with a huge chunk of my weight gain, and with obliterating my sex drive completely (though 3 miscarriages and a stillbirth obviously did their part to contribute).

But the fact is she was right. Sure I am super-functional right now. But overly so. I’m functioning so much I’m forgetting about living. I function to deal with things. I keep myself so busy I don’t have a moment to think or reflect.

And the moment I did – at my therapists office – I had my first panic attack in months.

Don’t get me wrong, things are truly very very good. It’s just in moments of quiet, anxiety sneaks in. When I’m alone with Bunny, if I’m 100% connected to her, I get overwhelmed and can’t deal.

That’s not good for me, and that’s not good for her.

It’s partly emotional, yes. But the truth is that when I step back and examine it, a lot of it is chemical.

I left my therapist’s office, called my psychiatrist to make an appointment, and called Shmerson to break the news that I most likely have to get back on my meds.

He was of course super supportive, but also a little sad. He was hoping we were past this. He was hoping things were good enough that I wouldn’t need meds.

In the week that followed, the realization that I had spent the last couple of months basically repressing everything brought a lot of things back up to the surface. I had more trouble sleeping. I felt more anxiety. My eating was back to being out of control.

At my psychiatrist’s I told him what was going on. He actually wasn’t incredibly concerned. He gave me two options: Go on a very low dose of cym.balta or just continue dealing with things on my own.

I was truly debating what to do. I hated the decreased sex drive and how hard it was to get off of these pills once you start taking them. I told him that my big concern was that cym.balta made me feel like the volume on my feelings was turned down very low. Like I was always not 100% present.

He answered: Well, that’s how you’re dealing now, isn’t it? You’re making yourself emotionally detached in order to deal with your anxiety. This will do the same, only in a more controlled way, and without you having to work so hard.

I asked him what he thought I should do. He said he could go either way. It was up to me.

So I thought of Bunny.

And I thought of the fact that 90% present is better than o% present.

And I realized that I’ve never taken meds when I wasn’t in crisis mode. That maybe- just maybe – they can help me get to contentment, and not just survive the latest trauma.

Maybe they would let me enjoy my daughter more. And free up the energy I’ve been using to try to control my anxiety to be used in healthier, happier ways.

And worst-case scenario: If I don’t like it, I can stop.

So I did it. I bit the bullet.

On Friday, I took the first pill.

Now it’s two weeks of fuzzy brain while I adjust to the pills again.

And we’ll see where we go from here. We’ll see if a chemical helping hand will be what it takes to tip the scales over to contentment.

Wish me luck.

 

It’s Just Like Paris

28 May

Wow, no posts for almost 2 weeks and then a flood. I guess consistency isn’t  my strong suit as of late. 

When Shmerson and I were together for about 2 years, a bit before we got engaged, we went to Paris.

At the time, I was the #2 person at a small startup company that was launching an international cable channel. My salary sucked. But I loved the job.

Shmerson and I went to the airport to go home, and realized we left our passports in our hotel room safe. We were out of cash. We made a couple of (expensive!) phone calls and a cab was on its way to the airport with our passports 20 minutes later. We had to pay a ridiculous ATM fee to get the cash to pay the driver. My bank account balance was painfully lighter after that debacle.

In line to check in, they announced that they were looking for people to give up their seats on the flight. They were willing to pay each person 400 (!) euros and cover a hotel for the night.

One more day in Paris, a free hotel, and 800 Euros if Shmerson and I stayed.

But there was this big meeting that I had to prep for at work. It was supposed to happen three days after. I was nervous about it. I had a presentation to put together.

So we said no.

800 Euros and an extra free night in Paris.

We. Said. No.

Even my boss at the time, when he heard the story, said it was a dumb move.

No shit. To this day I cannot for the life of me understand why that meeting felt so urgent at the time. But it did.

So we said no.

5 months later, the economic collapse happened and the company went bust.

I was unemployed.

And I had given up 800 Euros and a free night in Paris.

I can say I have a lot of regrets – but that – giving up that all for the sake of one meeting for a company that no longer exists – that is one of my biggest. To this day I facepalm each time I think about it.

Stupid, stupid move.

And I know – I know it’s not really the same. I know there are reasons. There are really good reasons why I work. And I’m not at some dinky 4-person startup. I have stability. We have stability. We need that.

But some days, when I sit in front of the computer, answering emails, knowing that Bunny is a 10 minute walk away being taken care of by someone else…

It’s Paris all over again.

4 Years

27 May

Anniversary number one was spent picking up the pieces of three losses.

Anniversary number two was spent seeking escapes, and searching for fragments of our two broken hearts.

Anniversary number three was spent at home, feeling fear, anxiety, and hoping beyond hope that 4 would be different…

Anniversary number four was spent laughing at our baby girl as she stood up in her crib, an hour past her bedtime, dancing around and looking very proud of herself. Finally getting her to sleep. Cuddling, while (finally!) watching “Breaking Bad”.

And thankful. So very thankful that despite heartbreak, loss and unending sadness, we made it to the other side.

Marriage can mean walking through hellfire and coming out the other side scarred and bruised, but still holding hands.

Happy anniversary to my rock. My love. My family. The father of my children. Those not with us, those to (hopefully) come, and the precious daughter that we fought so hard to bring into this world, together.

I love you Shmerson. More today than I even thought possible.

Leaning Sideways (Part 2)

26 May

Read Part 1 Here

So I’m totally sorry for leaving everyone hanging. Just… Life! Things are crazy. Bullets on Bunny soon with updates. I promise! Now, back to the regularly scheduled (but rather late!) post:

Up until January, I wasn’t technically a full-time employee at the company I work for. I was an outside contractor. Then some stuff happened, and everybody got on board with getting me hired.

Well – ok – not everybody. There was one person in upper management who was skeptical. But my boss made a compelling case. So I was hired. Understanding that I would work at home 3 days a week because hey – my hours are insane anyway. I work in Israel and most of my work is done facing the NY office. So I’m on EST time as it is.

Because I knew of this slight resistance in upper management, I was VERY determined to prove myself. Even more so because I only came into the office 2 days a week.

I bust my hump. I put in somewhere between 60-80 hours a week. A lot of that is late nights and weekends. On Saturdays, even when I’m out of the house, I check my inbox. Though my confidence in my position continues to grow, and I feel less insecure (by a little bit anyway), I still work my ass off.

I also do everything in my power to act as if I don’t have a child I need to tend to.

This is ridiculous. The company supports flexible hours so employees can be with their kids. My boss is a very involved father, and doesn’t hide it, despite the insane amount of hours he puts in (my guess is about double what I do). So why do I pretend that I don’t have a baby, or that having one doesn’t put certain constraints on my time?

(I am actually working on fixing that last one actively, but more on that later)

About a month into my full time status, my boss and my co-worker (a man, single) were at a meeting with a client. They came back from that meeting with a laundry list of things I needed to do. They then gave me NO CONTEXT about the meeting, and threw me in the water, expecting me to swim. I did ok – but there were a couple of awkward moments where I was talking to the client and realized I had NO CLUE what they were talking about.

In short – I should have been in on that meeting, but no one thought of inviting me.

I was PISSED.

But did I tell my boss or my co-worker?

Nope.

There is a really great woman in my department. We get along really well. She’s been with the company forever. I went and vented to her instead.

“Get used to it hon. This is what men do here. They take. They don’t ask. They run without running it by you. They don’t see that it’s wrong, or inconsiderate. They don’t care that they’re stepping on anyones toes. They take the ball and run.”

She wasn’t bitter about it. She said it in a very matter-of-fact tone.

Yet, my attitude didn’t change.

To this day, when I have an idea or a suggestion – I find myself APOLOGIZING for it, in case I step on anyone’s toes, because I don’t want to offend anyone. When I think something should be my responsibility, I gently nudge. I hint. I hardly ask.

And I certainly never take it without asking.

And there’s the rub. And here’s my point, finally after about 1500 words of exposition.

I think it’s because I’m a woman. But I don’t think it’s because I’m oppressed, or feel oppressed.

It’s because, like my husband said, I work emotionally.

Don’t get pissed, ok? I know I’m feeding into gender stereotypes here. My Women’s Studies minor is protesting. My feminist college professor is yelling at the top of her lungs in my head (don’t worry – she’s not there full time, so it’s not a psychosis).

Maybe it’s not because I’m a woman. Maybe it’s because I’m an emotional person in general. But I honestly think that at least partially, I apologize, and respect other people’s territory, responsibilities, and boundaries, because I’m a woman.

And the problem isn’t with me. The problem is with men who don’t do that.

See – Sandberg, in her book, (and my friends, and myself sometimes) says that as women, we have to stop being afraid to take. We have to stop apologizing.

But I keep thinking – WHY am I apologizing? Is it because I think I don’t deserve it? Certainly, that’s part of it. But that’s my insecurity – in my case, completely separate from my gender identity, more a part of my “artist” identity.

But there’s more to it. I apologize because I’m sensitive to other people’s feelings. So why wouldn’t I WANT to apologize?

I was thinking to myself – if I were in my boss’s shoes, how would I have handled last week’s yelling incident?

I would have made one very simple modification. If the roles were reversed, after the mistake was fixed, I would have simply emailed back “thanks for the quick turnaround on this. “

That’s it. Because I would have been acutely aware of the fact that I had yelled previously. Because I would have known that the person on the other end may be feeling a bit insecure because of that yelling. So I would have taken 30 seconds to acknowledge that person’s work.

And that’s not me being afraid, or insecure.

That’s part of what makes me a woman. I am sensitive to these things, more than most (though not all – there are always exceptions) men.

Let’s face it: There are always feelings. There are always bruised egos, and mess-ups, and people feeling territorial. Whether it’s admitted or not. It may not be in the text, but it sure as hell is in the subtext.

My boss is a freaking genius. No seriously – the man is brilliant. He is also ridiculously insecure. INSANELY insecure. I’ve seen him deal with failure. I read people well. I’ve seen his heart sink. It hurts him no less than it hurts me. And my other male co-worker? He is all bravado. He would never show vulnerability. But he’s not a machine. I know that he feels it.

So what am I supposed to do? Ignore that I see these things? Ignore the fact that after I get yelled at, I need a pat on the back, or a little “thank you” to make me feel better?

Play the game?

Or change the game?

Which brings me back to the other end of the equation. The part where I wonder why I work so hard to hide the fact that I’m a mother.

That’s the flip side of this coin. That’s me playing the game. That’s me going along with the corporate culture. Even though I think that part is wrong too. Even though THE COMPANY ITSELF doesn’t give me any indication that I need to play this part of the game.

Right now I’ve decided to start small. I’m no longer (poorly) hiding the fact that I’m a mom. There are hours these days that are blacked out on my calendar. No conference calls or meetings. That is Bunny Time.

I sometimes have no choice but to make an exception, but when I do – I also have no choice but to say – “Hey, I’m home, and the baby is fussy, so I may have to step away for a moment.”

I still feel awkward and sometimes even guilty about these things. The other day I had no choice but to take a very long conference call in the evening, and Bunny didn’t feel like napping, even though she was overdue. And she actually decided to violently gag on a piece of bread in the middle of the call and proceed to scream at the top of her lungs.

Now that totally made me feel like mother of the year. Really. Great work with that work/life balance right there.

Did I feel bad about it? Yes – on all ends. But they knew. The baby was awake. It’s how it goes.

So I’m going against the grain. I’m REALLY taking a stab at embracing the mom side.

Which at my company. Is completely acceptable. So no stretch there beyond my own insecurity and need to prove myself.

But what about the other side? The part that’s not acceptable? The part where I need to grimace, and take without asking in order to get ahead? The part where it makes no sense to have feelings? Maybe it’s that part that kind of drags the “motherhood shame” down along with it?

I honestly just don’t know what to do about that.

There is so much more left to be said about this. About how I’m the one who is responsible for picking Bunny up from day care, and Shmerson stays late in the office, and how that may be the “norm” and a bit chauvinist, but I don’t really care that it is because I WANT to be the person picking her up.

About how I wonder whether I should do more taking, and how that would make me feel, and how I would be perceived.

About how acutely aware I am of the fact that Bunny will grow up one day, and I will be a role model to her.

And the guilt – oh, so much guilt. About ALL THE THINGS.

But I’ll leave all of that for another post (or 1000 of them).

For now, I’ll just continue to ponder what it truly means to be not only a working mother, but a working WOMAN.

I’ll be honest – I don’t know if I’ll ever actually reach a conclusion.

Leaning Sideways (Part 1)

18 May

Another long one folks – so it’s a two parter again! 

Last week, my boss called me and yelled at me.

He’s not the yelling type – not even close. But there was a total FAIL with regards to something (partially my fault, partially others), and it needed to be fixed.

So he called me and he yelled.

I fixed it. I went on with my day. You see – I work at home 3 days a week, so that was my last interaction with him. This was the end of my week. So off I went into the weekend. I didn’t think much of it.

Then, setting up for this week, I checked my upcoming events. I remembered there was this office-wide presentation. I had moved around my week so I can be there. I wanted to RSVP that yes – I would be attending.

But then I saw that I was no longer on the invite list.

Cue panic.

Look – there were 100 – no – 100,000 different explanations about why I was no longer on the invite list. Most of them some combination of technical glitches.

But my boss yelled at me. That was the last exchange I had with him. Yes. I fixed the problem. I emailed him that the problem was resolved. I didn’t get an email back. This is generally normal – he’s ridiculously, superhumanly busy. But he yelled. He yelled and then he didn’t email.

I spent the rest of my weekend freaking the fuck out. Seriously.

Now I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not perfect at my job. I’m far from perfect.

But objectively speaking, I’m pretty damn good.

Yet for some inexplicable reason, all of this shame and self-doubt was bubbling up to the surface.

“My boss yelled at me. He yelled at me, and I haven’t heard from him since, and I’m now no longer on this invite list. Holy crap.”

I debated. Should I email him? Should I call him?

I asked Shmerson. He thought I was being ridiculous. But he kept saying the same thing over and over:

“You are thinking emotionally. This is not how these things work. He yelled. It was fixed. It’s over.”

“But maybe I should ask him that if he yells at me in the future, if he’s not really mad at me, then he should email…”

“No. Because that’s not how it works. You’re thinking emotionally. That’s a weird thing to ask. Let it go.”

Everything is harder when you work at home. It’s not that I saw him around the office for the rest of the day and knew everything was fine. I was in a bubble. I had no clue.

Then last night, I saw my boss at a wedding for someone at the company, he smiled, and asked how I was.

At that moment I breathed a sigh of relief.

Ok. He’s not mad. Everything is fine.

But for 48 hours I lost my shit over insecurities. And emotions. And apparently, in the corporate world, things “don’t work that way. “

I’m going to stop here and say that I L-O-V-E my job. Seriously. It’s awesome. It’s challenging, I learn new things all the time, I love the people at the company. I love the company. I see them sort of like family. Shmerson works there too (in a different department). They gave him his first foot in the door in his profession. He was supposed to start work there 2 days after Nadav died. They gave him more time. They supported him. A year later they took a chance on me even though I was about to go on bed rest, and they let me work from home exclusively for 6 months.  Both Shmerson and I are unreasonably loyal to this company. They held us up at our lowest moment. We will always be grateful for that. I’m so loyal to this place I actually emailed our head of HR and told her I’d be writing this post and made sure it was ok even though I have no plans of mentioning the company name here. I don’t even want to come close to even hinting that there’s something bad about where I work.

But it’s not about the company. It’s about the culture.

This job is my first “sorta-corporate” job. Before this job I was a freelancer. Before that I worked at tiny companies that were 2 or 4 man operations. Before that – I was in freaking film school.

So this is my first taste of corporate culture.

And to say that I’m finding it challenging is pretty much the understatement of the century.

First of all – I’m pretty much the only “artist” in a group of techies and salespeople. I’m the only writer the company employs, and I write in a bubble. No editors, sometimes no feedback at all. I’m not sure if this is a factor, but I know it sure doesn’t help.

Then, of course, there’s the fact that I’m a woman.

Yep. I said it.

When I was on maternity leave, I listened to “Lean In.” I was about 8 months late to the party. But found it fascinating. In case you haven’t read it, the long and short of it is that Sheryl Sandberg, the author, says that part of the reason that the glass ceiling exists is not only men’s fault – but also women’s. She makes a compelling case.

When I read it, I thought about how I could “Lean in” more. I made grand plans.

Then promptly made every single “mistake” that Sandberg mentions in her book.

Oh – I know I made them. I was (and am) acutely aware that I continue to make them.

And then my boss yelled at me.

(To be continued tomorrow). 

 

Hanging Out at the Station

6 May

Bunny turned 8 months old on Monday.

And all around me, people who have given birth around the same time as me, or perhaps a little before or after, are either discussing, working on, or already pregnant with baby number 2.

When it was starting to be clear that my pregnancy with Bunny was going to have a happy ending, Shmerson and I had a discussion. He was worried that I would want to jump directly to baby number 2 after Bunny was born. He was afraid that no time would pass and I would feel the pressure – and pressure him – to start trying again.

I was pretty sure that within months I would want to go again. As much as he didn’t trust me, I didn’t trust myself either. And logically we both knew that if nothing else, my body needed time to recover.

So we made a deal: No discussing baby number 2 until Bunny was 18 months old. That felt like a really long time for me. I thought for sure that even with that promise, I would never actually be willing to wait that long. I assumed that by the time Bunny would be about 6 months old I’d be hiding the condoms and peeing on sticks.

Now that everyone around me is back on the Baby Crazy Train, I thought for sure I would want to hop on board with both feet. I was waiting to have that itch to go again.

Monday night was Israel’s Independence Day. It’s holidays like these that make me look back and reflect, and also look ahead.  We went to my parents’ place to get a good view of the fireworks. Bunny was asleep in the guest bedroom, and Shmerson and I hugged on the balcony and watched.

This time last year, we hadn’t quite reached viability yet. I was going absolutely stir crazy and I was TERRIFIED. Looking at those fireworks, I couldn’t quite believe how far we’d come.

There are days I still feel like she’s not real. That I just look at her in awe. That I feel like my head is about to explode because holy crap – this amazing creature is mine to keep.

So on Monday night as we watched the fireworks, I looked ahead to next year and did the math: a year from now Bunny would be 20 months old. That’s two months past the 18 month “green light”. Will I be pregnant again?

Then, it hit me like a ton of bricks: Will I even WANT to be pregnant again?

The truth is that the answer is “maybe not”.

When we first got on the Baby Crazy Train I wanted three kids. There are days I still think that I want 3. But then I do the math. I’m almost 34. 35 is considered advanced maternal age and we already needed some medical intervention to conceive Bunny. So if we want 3, we can’t really take our time about it.

And getting pregnant for me is just the beginning of an ongoing nightmare. How many tries will we need to make another baby stick?

And say that baby sticks – that means another cerclage. Most likely bed rest at least for part of the pregnancy (even if it’s voluntary and just for my sanity). 9 months of anxiety again.

And this time we have Bunny to think about.

When I put that all together – I’m not quite sure I want 3 any more. I’m not quite sure how much more I can handle.

My body and my soul have been through the ringer. I NEVER want to go back there again. I will never again spend 3.5 years straight either pregnant or trying to get pregnant in pursuit of a baby.

I can’t do that ever again.

Yes – I want to bring Bunny a little brother or sister. Yes, perhaps 2 more would be nice.

But will we even be able to make it happen?

And even if we can…

I want to enjoy my baby girl. We have to move and get some more stability and cut down our commute. I want to continue to get my body back. I want to continue to get to know myself. I want to get back to enjoying my husband and my marriage. I’m working very hard on getting a life right now and I’d like to keep it for a while.

All of those things are important. All of those things would be pushed aside in pursuit of number 2.

So on Monday night, as I contemplated where we’d be a year from now, I literally felt dread at the thought of being pregnant.

Dread. This is how much I’m NOT ready to think about number 2.

And I don’t think I’ve ever surprised myself more.

Even with everyone around me working on it. Even with my dwindling fertility and the ever-ticking biological clock.

Maybe when we hit 18 months I’ll be ready. Heck – maybe I’ll even be hungry for it by then.

But for the first time in a long time  - I’ve taken myself out of the race. I don’t  feel the pressure. I don’t feel like I want to play catch-up with anybody.

I have chosen not to hop on this Baby Crazy Train.

For now, I’ll hang out at the station and play a game of peek-a-boo with Bunny.

And I’m just fine with that.

You may now pick your jaw up off the floor.

The Only Parenting Book I’ll Ever Read (Kind Of) – Part 2

5 May

Read part 1 here

During the first week of February, Shmerson and I were watching “The Colbert Report”. I admit – we generally skip the interviews, unless either of us finds the person intriguing. This time, we watched just because it was late and we weren’t quite ready to go to bed, but didn’t want to start another show.

Colbert interviewed an author named Jennifer Senior. If you’re in the US, you can watch the interview here.

Now, just for context, I’ve been watching Colbert since he premiered almost a decade ago. I’ve barely missed an episode. And there was a time that I did watch almost every interview as well. During all this time, there have only been two instances (out of what I assume are hundreds of interviews) where I was compelled to buy a book because of an interview on Colbert. The first was “Freakanomics“, the second was “Blink“.

The interview with Senior brought me to instance number 3.

It started when Senior said the words: “Joy is very hard to tolerate.” My ears perked up. I looked up from my game of Candy Crush (don’t judge me!). That felt true.

Then, she quoted a psychiatrist that she interviewed for her book. I later learned his name is George Valiant. The quote was: “Joy is grief inside out.”

When I heard that sentence I paused the show. I wrote it down. I swallowed it whole. I felt how poignant and true it was for me.

I even used it in a post a few days later, not yet knowing its attribution.

Then I went on Audible (no time to read, a long commute, and a problematic attention span has had me mostly in audio books over the last few years) and immediately bought Senior’s book: “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood”.

It took me a couple of months to get to it, but finally – a few of weeks ago – I finished it.

I finished it. I processed it.

Unlike the fake, temporary parting of the clouds that Mrs Whisperer’s book created, now having given myself some time to take it in, I can sincerely say that Senior’s book has profoundly changed me. It has changed the way I parent. Inside out.

But here’s the thing – it never once told me how I should raise Bunny. Not once.

What this book has done is made me change the way I understand parenting. Which has made me a profoundly different parent.

“All Joy and No Fun” is a book about context. It covers everything from newborns to older children leaving the nest, to losing a child. It covers these things by telling personal stories of real parents that are parenting today. How they’re parenting, why they make the choices they do.

Then it takes all of that information and puts it into a larger historical, sociological, and psychological context.

I’ll give away the twist, because Senior gives it away pretty early on herself:

Parenting as we know it has been around for less than a hundred years, and is trying to replace traditions and norms that were around for centuries.

Parenting equally between spouses (or the attempt to) has been around for even less time.

Which means that for the time being, we’re all pretty much flying by the seat of our pants. Where there once were rules, traditions and norms, now there are none. We are the pioneers. We are building new rules. And building new rules – especially in this day and age, when our world is evolving at the speed of light – is freaking hard.

Senior reminds us of that. Acknowledges how hard it really is.

At the same time, the stories that she tells and the research that she cites somehow managed to make me feel less alone. Less confused. Less like I’m walking through a dark tunnel full of landmines.

Senior talks about things that we refuse to say. She brings to light the darkest thoughts, the hardest feelings. Those things that parents (I think perhaps especially those parenting after infertility and loss) are afraid – even on these anonymous blogs – to say out loud.

Senior’s book – in short – is a parenting book about how to deal with being a parent.

With every chapter I found myself cheering, and crying, and nodding along.

And as I listened on I found that I was going through a profound transformation.

I was forgiving myself. I was forgiving Shmerson. I was becoming more understanding of why he is the father that he is, and why I am the mother that I am. I was becoming more tolerant of our differences.

And most importantly – I was becoming more tolerant of myself.

Because if Senior’s book has done anything – it’s made me understand what a shaky, scary, yet rewarding road I’m on. And that I’M the one on it. That parenting Bunny is just as much about me as it is about her. I deserve to feel it. I deserve to experience it.

I also deserve to build a life outside of it.

I think anyone who reads this book will most likely come away with something different. It may change you profoundly, it may give you a sense of belonging, or it may just give you some historical context. I don’t know.

But I do know that it’s worth your time. And I swear nobody is paying me to write this. I sincerely feel that every mother – whether she’s single, working, stay-at-home, married, divorced, young, or old – should read this book.

I will most likely never read another parenting book. I still think that my original thesis is right: Books that tell you how to parent are silly. Now that I understand how new and evolving our concept of parenting is, these books seem even more silly to me.

This, however, is a not a book about how to parent. This is a book that tells you WHY you parent.

And that makes all the difference in the world.

The Only Parenting Book I’ll Ever Read (Kind Of) – Part 1

4 May

This one’s a long one, so I’m splitting it up into two parts. Happy reading!

When I was pregnant with Bunny (and every pregnancy before her) I was terrified. I was way too terrified to read anything about parenting. I justified this by saying that I don’t want to stick to one doctrine and I’d rather learn by experience and through community and friends.

This did lead to a few embarrassing situations, since Bunny was born on a holiday. I didn’t even have the basic newborn care class they give to new moms at the hospital. The result? A diaper rash when Bunny was four days old was the way I learned that you need to use diaper cream every time you put on a diaper.

The discovery of a thick layer of dirt at two weeks old is how I learned that washing behind the ears is not just a cliche that 50′s moms told their kids.

But generally I muddled through, and really didn’t feel the need to get into a parenting book.

Then came the inevitable: I was going back to work, Bunny was moving to her own room, her daytime sleeping habits were terrible (even though she was sleeping 6 hour stretches at night) and we had NO SCHEDULE. So I caved.

When Bunny was about 3 months old I read “The Baby Whisperer”.

For about 3 days there I felt like the clouds had parted and I knew ALL THE THINGS. Here was the best way ever to solve every problem Bunny had and everything will be sunshine and unicorn farts because this woman knew EVERYTHING.

Sure – the book was slightly condescending. Sure – there were a few annoying things about her tone. But hey – she made SENSE! SHE EXPLAINED STUFF! SHE GAVE STRUCTURE! (Apparently she also made me type in all caps).

I picked out a couple of choice chapters on sleep and establishing habits and made Shmerson read those parts of the book too.

Then a week passed.

Then 2 weeks passed.

The truth is that around day four of trying the not-so-aptly-named “EASY” method I saw I was walking a precarious path. At the end of week one I started to realize that maybe said whisperer was not really whispering to me. By week two, my new mantra was “EASY my ass”.

When it comes down to it, here’s what I learned from the Baby Whisperer:

1) The best way to wrap a towel around your baby when you take him/her out of the bath is by sticking one corner of said towel in your mouth. I’m putting this tip first because honestly this most useful thing in the book. Towel-wrapping before I learned this trick was slippery, precarious, and frankly terrifying.

2) The stages of sleep for a baby. This was super-helpful in understanding why Bunny cried when she was tired, and also helped me understand that sometimes crying is just her way of falling asleep. Really awesome info. Though I could have found that by googling.

3) Dream feeding to sleep through the night. Worked like a charm and brought Bunny to 10 and 11-hour stretches. But again – google would have done the trick.

4) Establishing a bedtime routine helps get a baby to sleep more easily. Honestly – I already knew that – picked it up from a friend. So I guess she only gets credit for reminding me that I knew it already.

Here are a couple of other things I learned from the baby whisperer:

1) A baby is not a machine or a computer. There’s only so much “programming” they can take in, and some things are just a matter of temperament.

2) Bunny does not like to sleep during the day. Trying to shoehorn her into some sort of schedule, even if it’s a fluid one, will not work. She’s just a crappy nap-taker. It’s just how she is. I tried every trick in Mrs Whisperer’s playbook. Twice. Three times. I did EVERYTHING. And yet – Bunny continued to be a terrible napper. She’s been sleeping through the night since 3 months. But daytime – forgettuboutit. To this day the only time Bunny sleeps for more than 40 minutes during the day is when she’s snuggled up to me. Even then it doesn’t always work.

3) Parenting books are silly.

Yep. My original thesis – diaper-rash and crusty-ear inducing as it was – was right. I think parenting books are silly. I think that a child is a fluid, constantly changing being and there are no manuals that will teach me how to raise that being. I can do research – sure. But to think that any one book would change the way I parent completely, or would be the end-all be-all solution for everything – in my eyes at least – felt silly.

Then, sometime during the first week of February, I watched an episode of “The Colbert Report” and realized, yet again, that I was wrong.

[To Be Continued Tomorrow...]

PPA Part 6 – Here and Now

23 Apr

12:57am. I’ve been looking at pictures of Bunny and crying. I miss her. It’s like I’ve barely seen her in a week.

Bunny had an ear infection and a fever all last week. It was mostly up to me to take care of her.

It was a nice healthy dose of emotional detachment that got me through it.

Emotional detachment and Xan.ax.

Because otherwise I couldn’t have withstood it.

She’s been better for 4 days. But I’m not quite better yet. Her being sick made me sick.

I have moments that I’m attached again, looking at my beautiful girl, smiling, being her usual playful self after a week of unbearable pain.

And here she is, good as new, but I’m not.

I’m detached. I detached to deal with it all, and now I have to find my way back.

That happens a lot. These days, that’s what happens more than anything.

When things get hard I detach so I can be there for her.

She’s the one who is allowed to cry.

I’m not allowed to cry.

I cry – but I try not to do that with her. With her I’m strong. I do what I have to do. I take care of her. And hold her. And hug her. And rock her. And sing. And read stories.

But I can’t help but worry that she detects the hints of detachment in me. I can’t help but worry that my way of dealing sometimes puts a wall between us.

Because if I felt all of my feelings all of the time I would not be human.

There would be no work. There would be no sleep. No food. No showers. No conversation.

Just sinking completely into her.

Joy, grief, pain. Joy. Joy. Joy. Fear. Joy. Fear.

“They” say having a child is like putting your heart into someone else’s body.

I think “They” may be right.

I’ve always felt things more strongly than most. Feelings overwhelm me. I see things in black and white.

Which is why I taught myself to shut off feelings so I can function.

Or I’d sink into her, completely. I would disappear into the lovely, amazing, miraculous person that has taken my heart into her body.

It’s cheesy. It’s cheesy because it’s true.

My heart is in her. So when she’s not here it’s not here.

I go to the office. Or I stay at home and work while she’s at day care. And I sometimes forget she’s real.

Not really forget. That’s not really the word.

But I do remember she’s real each time I see her again. Each time. I remember again.

Every morning that I wake up with her. Every time I go away and come back. Or she goes away and comes back. I remember.

She’s real. This is her.

This miraculous, beautiful, exquisite little person is mine.

And if I let myself feel that… Everything that comes with feeling that. The fear. The pain. The ecstasy….

If I let myself feel that all of the time there would be no me any more. I would melt completely into her.

So I throw myself into work. And at 4pm every day I sink into 3.5 hours of complete bliss that is my daughter.

But I always need a wall.

Or I would cry. I would do nothing but cry. Overwhelming tears of joy, of gratitude, of grief, of fear. Of every feeling that chases me each time I hear her laugh. Or hear her say mamamamamamama over and over again.

I know she’s not calling my name but I know that someday that will be her calling mamamamama. Mama.

And that’s me. And I have to be a whole person. For her.

So when I need to, I put up a wall. And hope against all hope that it’s a glass wall.

Transparent enough that she can see me, in all my undying love, devotion, fear, love, love, unconditional, unending, overwhelming love – for her.

On the other side.

bunnycrawling

PPA Part 5 – Day Care

18 Apr

She’s six months old. It’s time.

I packed her clothes and labelled them. I wrote her name on her bottles with a sharpie.

It’s time.

I can’t be with her during the day while I work any more. She’s getting more active. She’s more of a handful. I need to work.

Burning the candle at both ends is becoming unbearable. I haven’t slept properly in weeks.

It’s time.

8am. I stand in the middle of the day care center. She’s in the small crib they’ve designated for her. I stand there next to her. I can’t go.

I start crying.

Great. Now I’m the weird crazy lady in the middle of the day care center crying.

I can’t go.

Crying becomes sobbing.

I’ve  been here for half an hour. I really need to go.

I can’t go.

But I really need to go.

The day care worker gently suggests I leave.

I can’t go.

She suggests I take her and try again another day.

I really have to go. She needs to be here. I have to go.

I go.

The car is parked outside. 8:30am.

9am.

9:15am.

I’ve been sitting in the car for 45 minutes. I really need to go.

But she’s in there. She’s in there without me.

I need to go.

She’s alone.

She’s not alone – she’s there with a lot of other babies.

She’s so quiet, they won’t notice when she needs something.

They will. They’ll notice. She knows how to cry when she really needs something.

They don’t have movement sensors on their cribs.

Fuck. Holy fuck.

It’s getting hard to breathe. I need to go. If I don’t go now I’ll run back in there and take her away from this place.

But they don’t have sensors.

Horrible, awful, unbearable images run through my head.

More than horrible. More than awful. More than unbearable. There are no words for this.

The quiet cry I’ve had going for the last 30 minutes starts to devolve into hysterics.

I put the car in reverse.

I need to pull off the band aid. I need to go.

Luckily home is close.

I drive away from her. Hysterics devolve into screaming in terror.

I park outside our house.

I need to get out of the car and go in the house.

9:30am. I need to go in the house.

I try to calm my breathing. I take a Xan.ax.

Just don’t think about the sensor. Don’t think about the sensor. Go in the house.

10am.

I go in the house.

I got my domain back!!!!

15 Apr

We interrupt our regularly scheduled blog posts for some great news!

The troll who stole my domain name when I was a few days late renewing it has been defeated! (Ok – not really, he just listed the domain up for auction and I snapped it up. Better than the 500 bucks the a-hole was demanding last year).

ANYWAY

We’re back! Mommyodyssey.com is back!

Please update your readers accordingly.

Be back in a couple of days with even more depressing PPA posts!

Edited to add:

It may still not be working for everybody – but should be linked up at most within 24-48 hours.

Contact me if you’re having any issues…

Yay!

PPA Part 4 – Doctors

13 Apr

“Trust your gut.”

But how will I know if it’s something serious?

“Trust your gut. You know her best.”

(I know her best.)

(Of course I know her best.)

(I also know that I can’t trust my gut.)

So what are the warning signs?

“There aren’t any. Trust your gut.”

 

My gut tells me that doctors can’t be trusted.

My gut tells me that when doctors say “everything will be fine” nothing is fine and I lose my son.

My gut tells me to be afraid. Always be afraid. Always expect the worst. Always.

If I trusted my gut, I’d never take her to a doctor.

If I trusted my gut, I’d be at the doctor’s office twice a day.

Then there’s the history. She’s registered under my health care plan. Her medical history is my medical history.

5 pregnancies. One premature labor. High-risk pregnancy. No other living children.

So the pediatricians. They know. They know I’m scared. They know I’m anxious. So they don’t take me seriously.

But I’m trying to trust my gut. My baby’s not eating.

“Sometimes babies don’t eat.”

But she screams when she has a bottle in her mouth.

“Don’t overreact.”

I’m not overreacting.

“Here – try this formula”

It’s helping but it’s not enough.

“It is enough (stop being so anxious).”

It’s not enough. Should I take her to a specialist?

“Trust your gut.”

But how do I know that thee pediatricians aren’t right? That I’m not just being anxious?

“Trust your gut.”

But my gut is what makes me scared that it’s not just what I think it is – that it’s something 100 times worse. That even the specialist is wrong.

“The doctors say everything will be fine. The specialist gave her a prescription now. They say everything will be fine. “

Fuck doctors. Doctors are not gods. Doctors can be wrong.

Doctors have been wrong.

Doctors have been so fucking wrong.

“So trust your gut.”

But my gut is even more wrong.

My gut is scared shitless. My heart is scared shitless. My head is scared shitless.

I’m scared shitless.

I’m her mommy. I’m supposed to know. Where does the fear stop and the knowing begin?

PPA Part 3 – Dinner

9 Apr

Bunny is 3 days old. It’s our first night home. We are in pure bliss. The post-labor high hasn’t quite worn off yet. We give her a bath. We take the cutest pictures ever. I can’t stop smiling.

Bunny falls asleep and we order pizza.

Blessed pizza.

I’ve been waiting for pizza for 4 months. It was off limits because of the gestational diabetes. I’ve been wanting this pizza more than anything.

Ok – almost anything.

Blessed carbs.

I have a slice.

Something doesn’t feel right. I feel hot. I run to the bathroom. I bend over the toilet – gagging.

It’s nothing. It’s my hormones acting up. This is supposed to happen around three days postpartum. It’s my body not being used to the junk food. It’s me being tired.

It’s nothing.

Bunny is 4 days old. My milk has come in. The high has worn off. Happiness abounds, but the lack of sleep is starting to reach crisis point.

I make spaghetti.

A few bites in and I can’t stomach it. By the end of dinner I’m once again gagging.

Maybe it’s just too heavy for me.

 

 

Bunny is 5 days old.

Sushi. I waited 10 months for sushi.

Gag. Sputter. Gag.

 

When I was a teenager, my parents used to joke that they knew when I was anxious, because they would hear me cough.

That’s where I used to feel my panic attacks – in my throat. They used to start in my throat.

But not any more. That hasn’t happened for years and years. These days they’re supposed to start with my eyes. With my ears ringing. With a weird buzzing around my head.

 

Bunny is 6 days old.

I have started a very low dose of a an anti-anxiety med that is safe for breastfeeding. But it’s skittles compared to xan.ax. Does it do the job? Not really. But it helps. It took headphones on at full blast, bunny in another room,  and complete darkness – but I slept for two hours.

Chicken meatballs and rice.

Gag.

Without thinking – I grab a skittle pill.

 

Right. This is what this is. My body has decided. This is how I panic now. Again. It’s back in my throat.

The skittle helps and I finish dinner.

 

New Years Eve. Bunny is 3 months old. We have been to a good friend’s house. Eaten good food, drank good Lambrusco, had an amazing time. Bunny is asleep at her grandparents’ and we are walking distance from our beds.

Shmerson reflects on where we were last year. Announcing my pregnancy to the same people we just celebrated with. Two years ago – pregnant with Nadav, taking it easy. Three years ago – on a break from trying – at a restaurant with friends. Four years ago – planning our wedding – no idea what was to come.

Today. Look at us today.

I realize that there is a baby waiting for us – five minutes away.

A baby. She’s ours. She’s mine.

Gag. Sputter.

I have to stop and catch my breath.

Gag. Retch. Gag.

People walking next to us are starting to stare.

Gag. Gag. Retch.

I lean on a tree. Bend over.

Gag.

I try to breath deep. I start rummaging through my purse, crying.

Gag.

Here it is.

Gag.

Good.

I build up the spit in my mouth between gags. Pop the pill and swallow.

Xan.ax.

Blessed Xan.ax.

 

PPA Part 2: Cognac

8 Apr

It’s 2am. I’m sitting in a rocking chair in the corner of our living room.

My shirt is pulled down, nursing bra exposed. I don’t really care at this point.

It’s Monday night. Bunny is 5 days old. Practically to the minute. She’s fast asleep in my lap. We just had another failed nursing session. She really likes to fall asleep while eating.

I’ve been doing everything to keep her awake. EVERYTHING. Nothing is helping.

I haven’t slept for 8 days.

8 days. Not a wink. Ok. One wink.

Not for lack of trying.

In the hospital I was riding the oxytocin high. I stared at her face for hours. I would just hold her endlessly. I didn’t care about sleep. Sleep meant she would go to the nursery. Sleep meant I would miss out on a moment with this miracle.

When day 4 came around the hormone crash kicked in.

The bliss was still there.

But reality had re-entered my radar like a mac truck.

I need some sleep.

When we go to bed for the night, I’m too afraid. Her bassinet is right next to me. Yes – the movement monitor is on. But it’s not enough. I stick my hand through the bars and put it on hers. I need to feel her movement. The monitor is not enough.

Shmerson takes her to the living room. Maybe if she’s not in the same room I can block out my constant need  to see her breathing.

I lay in bed, and my body begs to succomb to a few hours of blissful darkness. But as my eyelids droop – I jump up – startled.

Maybe it’s because I still hear her gurgling. The headphones come on. Once again – I drift. Only to jump up second later in a panic.

Something is not letting me sleep. It’s no longer in my control. It’s animalistic. It’s a never ending chemical loop.

I’ve managed to get half an hour total – between 4am and 4:30 am on Sunday night using the following configuration: Bunny is on one cushion on the couch. I’m curled up on the other. One hand on her chest to feel her breathing.

Half and hour of blissful sleep. Until she woke up, and my neck hurt.

Day 5. And it’s 2am. And I know I’m in an endless chemical loop and only one thing will save me: Xan.ax. But I can’t. I’m breastfeeding. Failing miserably. But breastfeeding. I’ll be a horrible mother if I can’t feed my child.

I’ll be a horrible mother.

I look at Shmerson and I burst into tears. Not the sad tears. The kind that are tinged with panic. That can spiral into terror at any moment.  He tries to help me gain control.

I just need to sleep. I need to sleep.

I need to sleep.

I go on twitter. He goes on google. We look desperately for a solution. Finally we hit on it – alcohol. I can breastfeed, have a drink, and by the time Bunny feeds again it won’t be a big deal. I’m a lightweight anyway.

I get excited. Yes! Alcohol will do it! Alcohol will make the panic loop stop!

I rouse bunny for another pathetic feeding session – filled with moist towels and foot tickling  - begging her to stay awake.

Back to sleep she goes. My glass of cognac awaits.

A blessed glass of cognac.

I hate cognac.

But this will make the loop stop.

I hand Bunny over to Shmerson and drink the entire glass in a minute flat. Then I head to bed.

My eyes droop – my body longs to succumb to the darkness.

And I jump up with a start.

The loop didn’t stop.

Maybe I’ll be able to get another half an hour on the couch.

If my neck can take it.

PPA Part 1: Empty

7 Apr

Thank you all for your support on my last post. “Coming out” so-to-speak has brought on a renewed barrage of inspiration. This is a first in a series of slightly more abstract posts that have come to me. I’ll get to the practicals later. I’m still in the process of writing these, and it is cathartic. I hope you stick around to read them. 

Empty

Bunny was born three hours ago. I barely held her. Barely registered her being and they took her to the nursery. That’s what they do. They need to monitor her. She’s a gestational diabetes baby. They need to monitor her.

The nurse that took her at 4am – I asked her to let Shmerson come too. She said he could come, but couldn’t stay. I was upset. I don’t remember how, but somehow someone told her about Nadav. I didn’t want to leave my baby alone. She promised she would hook her up to a heart monitor. Just so I could feel better leaving her without us.

Just so I know they’re making sure she’s breathing. But that’s my job. I need to make sure she’s breathing.

4:15am. Shmerson texts me a picture of this wonder – this miraculous creature who I only got to hold for a few minutes. She’s hooked up to a monitor. They did what I asked.

I send him home to sleep.

5am – I get wheeled into the ward.

“When will I see my baby?”

“Probably around 7am. You should get some sleep”

Yes. Sleep. It’s Thursday morning. I haven’t slept since  Sunday night.

“Ok.”

I get to my room.

6am – A nurse helps me out of bed so I can rinse off two days of induction and a hard-fought labor.

“When will I see my baby?”

“The doctor checks them between 6am and 7am – then there’s a shift change. They’ll probably bring her to you around 8am. Get some sleep.”

Ok.

In my room I stare up at a ceiling and close my eyes.

And I do what I’ve done 100 times before in the last four months – since I felt the first flutter.

I start to count. 10 in an hour. But usually with Bunny I get ten in 15 – 20 minutes. I wait for a kick.

A kick doesn’t come.

I start to panic. I put my hand on my stomach.

Where is she?

She’s here. She’s just not with you. But she’s here.

I start to cry. Is she really? Is she really here?

6;30am.

I jump out of bed. Barefoot. Wearing a half-open gown. Traces of the last 48 hours still all over my body.

I don’t care. I run to the nursery.

The door is locked. The doctor is checking them. The door is locked.

The panic rises. I start to cry. I start to pace back and forth, back and forth in front of the sliding doors. Waiting. Panic tickling my throat.

My hands are on my stomach.

I feel so empty. Where is she? I’m empty.

An eternity later the door opens. A nurse sees me. She sees my distress. Nobody is supposed to come in at this hour.

I cry. I beg. She lets me in. I walk up to the bassinet. Bunny. She’s here. She’s here and breathing and sleeping. She’s here. She’s breathing.

But the nurse says I have to go.

“Can’t I take her with me?”

“We’ll bring her to you at around 8:30.”

“No. I want her now.”

“We need to check her blood sugar again.”

I see the small bandage on the bottom of her foot where they drew her blood. Tears well up again.

“When will you check it?”

“Very soon.”

“Then will you bring her? Please. I can’t wait until 8:30. Please bring her to me.”

The nurse looks at me with pity. With exasperation. With something.

“Ok. Try to get some sleep.”

Sleep. I haven’t slept since Sunday.

I go to my room. 7am.

Sleep? Who can sleep?

7:30am – my amazing, miraculous, beautiful baby girl is wheeled into my room.

I sink into three days of blurry, sleepless, unadulterated bliss.

Clearing the Air

5 Apr

The truth is, dear readers, I have not been honest with you or with myself for the last couple of months.

I have been busy – no doubt. But the truth is that I’ve started at least 10 posts in the last month. And I haven’t been able to bring myself to publish a single one.

And the reason is because I let someone else take away my voice.

These days I have a lot of readers from different places. People find me when browsing through parenting blogs on wordpress, or by finding a couple of my satirical “miscarriages suck monkey balls” posts through google, or through a facebook share, or a tag search.

But the core of this blog started as a part of a small, niche blogging community of women living with infertility and pregnancy loss. Known affectionately as the ALI community (adoption, loss, infertility). I “cut official ties” to that community for my own sanity by no longer participating in blog rolls, link exchanges, awards, and the like. But I am still a loyal reader (and friend) to a lot of women who I found there, and I know that many of you found me through there.

I cut ties because the fact is that that the ALI blogosphere- though an often beautiful community that has saved me more times than I can count, can sometimes be cruel and judgemental. And I no longer wanted to conform to what was “expected of me” through it.

I have once actually quit this blog because of those expectations. I am very happy that I came back, and also very happy that I made the conscious decision to stop conforming to one small circle’s expectations.

That being said – a month and a half ago, I was once again exposed to the cruel and judgemental side of the community, and as a result, I have found myself silenced once again in this space.

And though I was considering doing it again, I don’t want to abandon ship.

This blog has too many loyal followers who I don’t want to abandon. This blog tells a complete story. That story is not over. Not even close. So there’s no reason to end it now. I like it here. I’d like to stay.

So I have decided that rather than keep my silence – I will hit “detonate” on a bridge  that I never wanted burned. So I can clear the air and reclaim my voice.

I don’t like airing dirty laundry in this forum. In fact – I hate it. But in this case, if I want to keep this space safe for me, I have no other choice.

This is about me reclaiming something I was labelled, so I can talk about it and address it without the petty bullshit. This is about me admitting something so I can take this space back.

So I’m going to recount a story here. And unlike the woman I am talking about, I will keep any details that may reveal her identity a secret. Because this is about me, not her. The only way you will know who I am talking about is if you happen to read both of our blogs, and put two and two (and two) together.

I am not mentioning names. I do not want this to become a war. I hate this petty bullshit. If you happen to read us both, and you figure out who I’m talking about, good for you. But please keep it to yourself.

I had a friend. I met her through the blogs. I never met her face to face but after Nadav died, I don’t know how, I don’t know why – she became my wailing wall. She was there for me in a way that nobody else in my life could have been. We talked every day, sometimes twice or three times. I would cry to her over skype at 2am. Often. She was a huge reason that I survived the year following his loss.

When I got pregnant with Bunny I emotionally detached from the world. I didn’t talk to anyone. I couldn’t. I was literally in moment-to-moment survival mode. I explained this to her, and at the same time felt like a crappy friend. Especially since she got pregnant shortly after me. But as I slowly got out of the fog, our friendship was slowly rekindled.

This woman and I had our babies at around the same time, through very different paths. We shared experiences and pictures when we could, then one day – we had a fight.

We were both tired. We were both dealing with our own shit. We fell victim to the mommy wars.

I stepped away, giving her space, but clearly leaving the door open for her to come back. Some time had passed but to be perfectly honest – I kind of figured we would both get in the whole parenting groove and then talk it out when we were good and ready. That’s how I usually handle this type of stuff. There are few fights I’ve had that have been deal breakers. Apparently, this woman felt differently.

Then – TWO DAYS after Nadav’s birthday, (TWO DAYS!) this woman published a blog post. In that post, she doesn’t name me. But any person with half a brain who read us both could figure out in a minute who she was talking about. She didn’t go to great lengths to disguise my identity.

I even received several private messages about the post, asking for my side of the story. In fact – that was the way I found out she had posted. I hadn’t opened my blog reader in ages.

My readership is much broader than hers – but we have plenty of the same readers who are a part of the ALI community.

In her post – this woman published one-sided lies about the fight we had. She put words in my mouth which I never said. She claimed I “walked away from the friendship” when she in fact was the one who was abandoning ship by publishing the post. She said things about me that weren’t true and were incredibly hurtful.

But I don’t care about those lies.I didn’t feel the need to address them – especially not here.

What I did – and still do – care about was that this woman betrayed a confidence of mine. Something that I only slightly alluded to on this blog soon after Bunny’s birth, but was not ready to fully share with the world yet, as I was still working through it.

Something that I told her in confidence, which in her blog post she passed on as her own “observation”.

She said it in a condescending, holier-than-thou tone which took away the power of it. She used it as a “reason” that I said all those things she claims I said but were never said (in reality they were perceived and inferred).

In writing out her own agenda, she took away my right to tell you about it myself. Yes – there are a hundreds of you who have never come across her blog. But there are enough of you who have. That know enough to know she was talking about me. That made what she wrote a betrayal of confidence.

And she did it less than two days after Nadav’s birthday.

Exactly at the moment that I was getting ready to share it with you.

I had been planning a long post about it. It was sitting in my drafts, waiting for one last pass before publishing. Instead, I deleted it.

I was so afraid of confirming the link between me and this woman’s post. I didn’t publish because I was afraid it would eventually lead to me having to write something like what I’m writing right now. Instead of that post – the post I needed to publish – I wrote another post in a deliberate attempt to distance myself from the situation. And I have barely written a lick since.

She took away the power of what I wanted to say. And she did it at a time when I was finally ready to “come out” so-to-speak, and unpack my experience here.

She took it away by making it her “observation”, rather than something I admitted to her in confidence. She took it away from me, by not letting me tell you myself.

And now I’m taking it back:

Before Bunny was born, I was scared of postpartum depression. I luckily dodged that bullet.

Instead, I was hit with the train that is postpartum anxiety.

I have been living with it, dealing with it, and trying to come to terms with what that means since Bunny was 4 days old and I had my first panic attack.

It colors all of my decisions. It makes me question myself as a mother. It makes some things a million times harder than they should be.

Postpartum anxiety sucks.

And I have it.

And it was MY RIGHT to keep that information to myself until I was ready to share it and process it. And unpack it. Because this is the space where it should be unpacked. Nowhere else.

And it’s been waiting in a suitcase in a corner because I let somebody take away my voice.

I have no anger toward this woman any more. I already said what I had to say to her in an email, and I have nothing else to say to her.

I’m saddened because of the way she chooses to deal with the people in her life who love her. I am not the first in the line of abandoned friends in her wake. I hope I’m the last, but I doubt it. I truly hope she finds peace and happiness in her life. I told her as much.

I am saddened because she was a friend to me at a time when being a friend to me was an almost insurmountable task. For that I will always be grateful. And I profoundly feel the loss of her friendship. Though now I no longer desire it.

But I refuse to let this drama stop me from expressing myself here. I am not abandoning ship. I am reclaiming my space right here and right now.

So now it’s out in the open air. Please respect my wishes and if you understand who I’m talking about – keep it to yourself.

And let’s move on from this. The air is clear.

I am Mo, and I have postpartum anxiety.

Let’s talk about it, shall we?

Bullets on Bunny – Obvious Costume Edition

22 Mar
  • Thanks everyone for your support on the last post. Basically Bunny’s reflux meds pooped out, and it was a terrible week. We FINALLY got her new meds today and already the difference is palpable. She’s actually eating without any pain. That’s a huge win right now.
  • In general it’s been a week of Murphy’s Law haunting me. From missing trains, to being LATE ALL THE TIME, to making absolutely stupid mistakes out of sheer exhaustion. I get in the car when I’m short on time, it needs gas, I get to a gas station, the pump doesn’t work, I get to where I need to go, I can’t find parking… On and on. ALL WEEK.
  • It was Purim this week (AKA the Jewish Halloween) and Squish said that it made sense that this week was upside-down, considering the costumes Shmerson and I wore on Sunday. She’s probably right:

IMG_1218

  • I guess when you start the week as Alice things remain a bit crooked for a while.
  • Bunny being sick brought out ALL THE ANXIETY. Seriously bad. I have a lot to write about this. But not at 2am on a Friday night. I promise to post properly soon. Things have just been nuts.
  • I also somehow managed to fit in apartment hunting this week. Sleep will be welcome this weekend. Alas – we have not found anything yet. But that’s yet another post.
  • So that’s basically it. Alice and the Mad Hatter, reflux getting sorted out (hopefully!), Murphy being a douchenozzle, and no sleep. I just wanted to pop in and give a quick update, and most importantly – share with you the third participant in our family costume:

bunny as bunny

 

You can tell she’s not feeling her best. But she still played along. It’s her first Purim. Something would have been wrong had I NOT dressed her as a bunny.

Hope you all have an awesome weekend!

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