Positive

This week I have been following through and doing things on the dreaded to-do list.  Part of my chronic anxiety is I am a world class procrastinator.  I dread seeing how little money we have in the checking account so I put off paying the bills.  I’m anxious about leaving the house so we don’t have any food and need to order take out.  Which doesn’t help the checking account balance.  And the circle continues and continues and continues. 
But just like anticipation of telling the swimming lesson lady I had a miscarriage was worse than the reality, so is doing stuff on the list.  Completing these tasks have not only made me feel great, but helped me to realize it actually is easier to just do them rather than spend all my energy dreading them.  I just hope I can remember this when I start to feel overwhelmed and shut down.  But either way I am doing it now and damn it, that is a positive thing.
I’m not good at recognizing the positive, and clearly I don’t write about it often.  But even with the pain of the miscarriage there is a lot of good going on around here.  I won’t bore you with the list.  So how about some pictures of T and Z from the other night when I actually enameled for the first time since we moved here.  It felt really good to do something creative and my boys were being particularly adorable that night.  So.  Short and sweet and positive today with a bunch of pictures…

I love how he clutches the sides of Z’s head.  Much better than grabbing the hair like he used to.

We put him near yummy drinks like Tung oil.  

And we only give him the safest toys like wooden mallets.

And we carefully seat him near the edge of tables.

I do love these two.

Stay At Home Mom

Back when I was in high school and I knew everything in the entire world I would look at my mother with pity for being a stay at home mom (SAHM).  My parents raised me and my sister to believe we could do absolutely anything we wanted to.  They were so clear about our endless opportunities that it was a long time before I understood that women weren’t so lucky historically or that many weren’t even lucky concurrently.  I wondered why my mom would stay at home when she could have done something constructive with her time.  She went to college and she taught before I was born.  I knew she was intelligent and had a lot to offer. 
When I remember how I felt back then I feel an enormous amount of shame.  I was such a little shit.   How could I not see that she worked as hard as my father?  Or that we were fortunate to have her undivided attention?  I’m not saying our upbringing or our mother was perfect, there were problems just like there are in every family, but we had it pretty damn good. 
My mother fought for me when it was time to choose a college.  Dad didn’t understand why I wanted to go to Sarah Lawrence.  SLC really puts the liberal in liberal arts and I think that is part of what freaked him out.  But my mom, who at the end of the day is more conservative than my dad, knew it was exactly what I wanted and she helped me convince him it was the right place for me.
I’m proud to be a Sarah Lawrence graduate.  It’s a school where you are taught to think for yourself, where grades and standardized tests aren’t important when it comes to measuring what you have learned but communicating through writing is.  Different was celebrated and everyone was accepted.  It was pretentious as hell, but if I’m honest so am I.  While I was at college I, and I’d hazard a guess that most of my female classmates didn’t aspire to be a SAHM.  So what happened?
For the three years we lived in Providence I supported us financially so Z could go to grad school and then have a year as a studio artist.  When I accidently got pregnant we suddenly had a lot of decisions to make.  I told Z I wasn’t comfortable being the bread winner as well as a first time mom.  With my history of mental illness I was worried about my increased chances of developing post partum depression.  If I became unable to both mother and provide for us I had no idea what would happen.  Z really stepped up and I am still amazed he was able to secure a great job in the midst of the financial crisis.  Unfortunately it necessitated a move that required me to quit my job, but that was the trade off. 
At first I thought I’d look for a job in Syracuse when T was a couple of months old because things are financially tight with just one of us working.  We have historically traded off financial responsibility in the relationship.  After freelancing for years I had a job I loved when we lived in NYC that paid nothing near a living wage and Z carried the financial burden.  It was my turn in Providence, and we are back to Z’s turn now.  Money is tight in our household with only one income, but to my surprise I don’t want to go back to work.  I love being with T all day.  Z sees that and he is happy for me.  The responsible choice would be for me to get a job, but Z and I have never been good at making responsible choices and we are willing to limp along financially for the time being. 
Yet I continue to feel embarrassed to be a SAHM.  This weekend a woman who doesn’t have kids heard me say I stayed at home with T.  “So what do you DO all day?” she asked (emphasis hers).  My mind went blank and I said, “Um, you know.  We hang out.”  I felt like such an idiot.   I am sure that she wasn’t trying to be unkind.  I think she really wanted to know.  Before I had a kid and became one I wasn’t sure what SAHMs did myself.  The reality is the minutia of raising a child isn’t interesting or easy to explain.  There aren’t a lot of short term quantifiable accomplishments in career mothering.
I am happy.  T is happy.  Z is happy.  The uncomfortable truth is I’m ashamed to be a stay at home mom. I’m a huge snob who thinks I’m somehow better than this job even though I want to be doing it.  There are women who would give anything to stay at home with their children yet can’t and I have the nerve to be ashamed to have this luxury?   Clearly I need to get over myself, apologize yet again to my mom, and enjoy the choices I’ve made.  


 This is why overalls rock.

Swimming Lesson

Everyone knows you wait until you get through the first trimester before you tell folks you are pregnant.  It saves you a lot of explaining if things don’t work out.  The whole “things not working out” was a very abstract concept to me before September 3rd of this year.  Miscarriages were sad, but they were something that happened to other people.  And I told Z that if we did have a miscarriage we wouldn’t hide it, we would be in mourning.  So I was much more lax about keeping it a secret in my day to day life.  Which was stupid.  In most instances I was never going to see the people I told again.  The lady in the bakery of the grocery store wasn’t going to remember me.  But the mother of a boy in T’s swimming class at the Y certainly was.
His lessons are in 6 weeks sessions, with about a 6 week break between them.  At the last lesson of T’s first session I was there without Z.  We usually go together because we really enjoy it and it is easier to handle the locker room if I get changed while the boys are still in the pool, and then grab T to change him.  But Z was out of town at a wedding.  And my morning sickness had started.  The motion of the water was really getting to me, and during his lesson I almost threw up.  This other mother who we’d been friendly with throughout the session noticed I wasn’t looking too hot and asked if I was OK.  I told her I was pregnant. 
Last Saturday was the first lesson of the new session.  I was still bleeding, so Z was going to take T alone.  But our surprise trip to the ER foiled those plans.  On Friday I told Z I didn’t want to go to the lesson with them this week.  He pressed me for a reason and I finally told him that I was embarrassed.  I didn’t want to face that woman and tell her I had lost the baby.  When I thought about going my stomach cramped up.  I just needed another week before I faced it.  I was sort of expecting some sympathy, but he told me it was too much work to handle T alone and he needed me to go.  And he pointed out it would be good for me to rejoin society and get out of the damn house.  While I appreciate his honesty I was pretty resentful.
But I knew from experience it was a real pain in the ass to go alone.  And for the last few weeks I have left the house only a handful of times, which of course has made Z pretty tense.  We went out to eat at his request Friday night and though I ended up having a nice time I felt like my body was on fire as we drove to the restaurant.  I’ve had good reason to stick close to home lately, but if I’m complacent about leaving the house I can get into real trouble.  Physically I am right as rain now, so Z’s patience is wearing thin. 
On Saturday morning Z was smart enough not to press it by asking me to go to the farmer’s market with him and T before the lesson.  He let me sleep an extra hour instead.  And even though I was trying to come up with a believable excuse that would get me out of it until the minute we were in the car, I went along to the swim lesson.  We were late, which is really unlike us, so class had already started.  The woman I was dreading waved at us from across the pool. 
The lesson itself was great.  I forgot how wonderful it was to watch T enjoy being in the water.  We promised ourselves we would take him to the pool between sessions, but life got in the way and we didn’t make it to the Y even once.  Seeing his ridiculously huge grin and hearing his squeals of happiness made me regret that a lot.  I still resented Z for not being gentler with me, but at the same time I was grateful he bullied me into going.
Of course, at the end of the lesson the woman approached us to catch up.  And she asked me how the pregnancy was going.  Telling her I miscarried sucked for a moment, but then it was over.  As usual the anticipation was worse than the event.  And if I had skipped the lesson I would have had another week of dread.  Damn Zeke for being right.  
It was really hot on Friday, surely our last day near 90 this year.  I took advantage of the opportunity by letting T run around in a diaper for most of the day.  There’s nothing better than a naked baby.  I’m gonna miss it during our long winter.

Feminist/Wife

I love the Twilight series.  And I am not ashamed.  OK, so I’m a little ashamed.  Alright, when I think back to waiting in line with the teeny boppers for the midnight showing of the first movie I’m more than a little ashamed, but then I remember I waited for opening day at a reasonable hour to see the second and third movies and a feel a smidge better.  Hmm, I’m not helping things here. 
Yes, I acknowledge the books contain some of the worst writing I have encountered in my entire life.  None the less, Stephanie Meyer is a genius.  She has captured the longing and desire for romantic love in almost every teenage girl’s heart perfectly.  As we all know being a teenager really sucks.  It is also completely amazing.  I’m guessing my feeling were pretty much in line with all of yours, and those feeling were larger than life and I was sure that no one had ever experienced anything like them before.  As someone who was completely uncool as a young woman (the term they used to describe us at our high school was “drama fag”.  Go Rams!) I was especially sure that the perfect cool kids would never be able to understand my depth of longing for…something, I don’t know love or acceptance or success or popularity.  But looking back on it now I’m pretty sure we all were feeling the same stuff.  Or at least the vast majority of us who weren’t popular.  
Meyer has tapped into that longing perfectly and created the ultimate fulfillment of it with her vampire boyfriend.  She then managed the impossible by creating another God among teens who also pined for my, um I mean Bella’s affections.  Bella really is an empty shell that we can project our own “unique” desires on to.  By adding the Edward vs. Jacob storyline Meyer was able to stretch the series to four books without losing a fraction of the excitement until half way through the last book when Jacob doesn’t want her anymore and she becomes Edward’s equal.  Writing that last sentence drives the feminist in me crazy, but it is true.  The story really drags from that point on.  But that is a whole other can of worms.  
The thing is, I’m a feminist.  It look a long time for me to be able to embrace that because feminist is such a dirty word especially now as the “girl power” of the 90s has somehow unraveled into the shocking sexualization of young girls.  Think I’m an alarmist?  Please, visit the girls Halloween costume section of Target.  Or take a gander at this which was sold just this past spring in the UK. 
In a dichotomy that I can’t reconcile I also long for someone to take care of me.  I try not to let that longing pop up to the surface much, but it is as strong as it was in 1994.  I want someone who recognizes how special I am and who’s life’s desire is to make me feel loved and to satisfy my every need.  You know what?  Forget about need, to satisfy my every whim.  Yes, I’m embarrassed to admit it, but it’s the truth.  There is a needy teenager who is praying she is someone special inside me.    
I want that need fulfilled and I want to be an independent woman who is in control of my own destiny and happiness.  I try and concentrate on the independent woman part of myself as much as possible, but my visceral reaction to Ms. Meyer’s work has made me aware that I haven’t left behind the other part of myself, even though I have a husband who I love more every day, as corny as that sounds.     
As uncomfortable as this realization is I’m also grateful for it.  Because now I understand my behavior in my marriage a little better.  Yesterday I told Z that my tires had spun out several times in the rain and I was worried they needed air because the treads still looked good.  And I asked him to fix it.  And he told me to fix it myself.  I am 33 and 3/4ths years old and I have never checked the air pressure in tires.  He was flabbergasted when I told him that.  He told me he’d show me and if I needed air I could go figure that out because I was a grown up.  And I brought up division of labor in our relationship and pointed out that I pay all the bills so I think he should be in charge of air pressure in tires.  That made him pretty angry.  Which made me pretty angry.  I believe I said something along the lines of, “It’s too bad you don’t care if the car that drives your son around is safe.”  Which wasn’t very helpful  You will not be surprised to hear that made him even more angry. 
Later we were able to talk about it a little and Z pointed out he has a lot on his plate right now and there is no reason I can’t learn how to take care of my tires.  In fact, it would be safer for everyone if I did know.  His argument was completely reasonable.  I couldn’t say to him, “But I want you to coddle me and take care of me.”  I wanted to, though.  That was the counter argument in my head.  And I was ashamed.  So I just said fine, and asked him to show me how to use the pressure gage tomorrow.  Then I told the teenage part of myself to grow the hell up.  I don’t think she listened.  She’s very stubborn and she still thinks no one has needed anything in the history of the world with the intensity that she does.  What a drama queen.  

T knows he is not supposed to be fooling with these rocks.  He throws them in our yard and it’s a pain in my ass to pick them out of the grass to put them back.  This is his “you caught me” look.  

No Resolution

One thing I’ve learned from this whole miscarriage situation is a heartbreaking number of my friends and acquaintances have gone through the same thing.  Writing about it has helped me process my feelings, and that is the main reason I’m doing it.  But there is another reason, one that is much more presumptuous and it’s the reason I’m blogging in the first place.  I am no expert on motherhood, or miscarriage, or much of anything beyond the Harry Potter Series (seriously, ask me anything).  But I am a mom, and I’ve now had a miscarriage.  The best advice I got when I was scared and pregnant wasn’t from books; it was from my friends who were moms themselves.  And the best comfort I got after the miscarriage was certainly from women close to me who’d had one themselves. 
I don’t think I have the best advice or the best comfort giving skills in the world, but I have pretty strong opinions on the whole business and damn it, I’m sharing them.  Because even with all the fantastic advice and support I’ve gotten things constantly happen that surprise the hell out of me, both in good and bad ways.  While they are fresh in my mind I’m writing them down in the hopes that maybe they will help you guys, my friends who are kind enough to read this, at some point in the future. 
My stuff is probably only going to be helpful to a small group of you because everyone’s experiences are so different.  I don’t know what it is like to go into labor naturally, but I can tell you a bit about preeclampsia and being induced.  I don’t know what it is like to spontaneously miscarry, but I can tell you how it feels to find out the embryo you have been carrying has been dead for the last month.  So if I’ve had an experience you are having and you have more in depth questions please email me at karencordano@gmail.com and ask away. 
Before I had a miscarriage I imagined having one would make me never want to try and get pregnant again.  I thought the risk of hurt would be too great, I would never want to open myself up to the chance of that pain again.  I was 100% wrong.  As soon as I found out about the miscarriage I was thinking about how soon I could get pregnant again.  I recently told one of my best friends that I feel like being pregnant is the only thing that is going to make me get over this.  I hope you all have someone like my friend in your life.  She always tells me what she thinks, no matter how hard it is to hear.  And she is basically always right.  She said I needed to deal with the loss and not just move on to the next pregnancy because if I do I will possibly have hang ups with both the pregnancy and the baby. 
I know she is right.  But I don’t know how to deal with it.  We were back at the doctor’s office on Wednesday and he said everything looked perfect; I shouldn’t have trouble conceiving or carrying a baby to term.  I just need to wait until I’ve had two periods to start trying.  And I felt terrific.  I felt better than I’ve felt since this whole thing happened.  But every time I remember that I am supposed to be pregnant right now, that we would have told people and we would be looking forward to finding out what sex it would be I fall apart.  Right now I’m using the idea of getting pregnant again as an emotional crutch and I’m not sure how to stop. 
The doctor’s visit wasn’t all smiles and roses.  The ultrasound showed that my uterus isn’t currently bleeding, which is great news.  But the unidentified thing which was discovered during our lovely trip to the ER on Saturday is still there.  The doc said it might be part of the landscape of my uterus, or it might be something that needs to get out. 
Was I the only one who thought doctors had all the answers?  The number of mights in this situation are really disconcerting.  I might pass this thing at any moment before my next period.  I might pass it with my next period.  I might never pass it.  I might bleed on and off until my next period.  I might not.  Usually you have a D&C and you stop bleeding within a week.  Sometimes you get an infection, or you have hemorrhaging.  And sometimes it isn’t so cut and dry.  You bleed more than you are supposed to, but not enough for there to be intervention.  Sometimes you have a clot the size of a cherry that scares the hell out of you, you end up in the ER where it is confirmed your uterus is bleeding, and you have to choose between another D&C and medicine.   And sometimes that medicine makes you feel dizzy and nauseous, your stomach gets upset, and even though it is supposed to help you get rid of whatever is in your uterus you stop bleeding completely.  Sometimes nothing is easy. 
Sometimes your miscarriage will just be unresolved for an unspecified amount of time.  You will be waiting for something to happen, be it heavy bleeding out of nowhere that will signal you have passed the unknown whatever, or your next period which is probably three weeks out. 
I don’t want to have to just wait and see for three weeks.  I want this over with now.  So yes, I’m holding on to the fact that my lady parts are looking OK.  I’m thinking about getting that first period in mid October and the second in November and I can’t wait to try and get pregnant right after that.  The present feels pretty awful.  And late November doesn’t feel that far away.  I want to feel happy again.  And I hope I can start to get there before I try and get pregnant.  Because my friend is right and relying on the next pregnancy to get over this is a foolish move. 

Sweet boy with egg on his face, literally.

Working On Healing

At the beginning of this saga Z and I sort of marveled at how T was really acting like a champ.  Looking back on it I think that my mom being here really helped.  T is crazy about her, and I don’t think he noticed I wasn’t playing with him as much.  But he also started crying in the middle of the night, which he hasn’t done for a long time.  Then mom left last Tuesday and I started bleeding again, and my friend had him for a number of hours Wednesday and a babysitter was here on Friday.  I was gone for most of his day on Saturday at the ER, and when I got home I was in bed.
Late on Saturday afternoon a very good friend of ours stopped by with yummy stew her husband made and stayed for a few minutes to visit.  I hopped out of bed to chat.  She was holding T as she was getting ready to say goodbye and she started to pass him off to me.  He burst into tears and turned away from me to hold her tightly.  And my heart broke into a million pieces.  I mean, I get it, I get it.  He was really pissed because I haven’t been able to be there for him.  It was the first time he has flat out rejected me, and I know it won’t be the last.  But boy it sucked. 
Last night he cried again at two in the morning.  We look at him in the monitor and sort of evaluate if we need to go in or not.  Sometimes he will go back to sleep without us, but other times it is more like he is frightened from a nightmare.  In those instances even though seeing us wakes him up and gets him all excited we take turns getting up and rocking him for a bit.  He cries again when we put him down, but only for a minute or so and he is back asleep.  But last night was another first, he fell asleep in my arms and I rocked him for about fifteen minutes because it was just so amazing to hold his little sleeping body.   It did wonders for me.
The other thing that really has helped me get through this whole mess is nursing.  About a month ago T got sick and it looked like he was done with the boob, but it was just that he couldn’t breathe and nurse at the same time.  So he and I are still going four times a day. 
We moms are so damn self conscious about everything we do.  I remember a friend saying she felt defensive when she was pregnant with her third.  That she felt people were judging her because she already had a boy and a girl so why would she have another?  I remember thinking it wasn’t strange to have three kids and I wondered why she worried other people would.  I have friends that have used formula for their babies and have felt very defensive about that.  I have chronicled my own defensiveness about using CIO with T.  Well, now that T is more than a year I feel horribly self conscious about breast feeding.  I find myself saying, “You know, the World Health Organization recommends mothers breast feed for two years.” whenever the topic of me still nursing comes up.  I’m so scared people are going to think I’m a freak, or I’m scarring T for life by still nursing him. 
Deep down I know I’m being unreasonable and no one has said anything directly to me about the breastfeeding.  It is more stuff people I know have said around me.  I have a bunch of examples running in a loop through my head, like when someone I know said “Oh, that is too long” when we were discussing someone who breastfed until twenty months.   I wonder why I let myself be affected by the uninformed opinions of others.  I wonder what was said to my friend to make her worry about having a third child.  I wish we could cut ourselves some slack.  But feeling self conscious or not I am grateful I still have the source of comfort four times a day with my son. 
We did have a parenting victory this weekend.  When T learned to crawl up the stairs my mom advised us to pull him down the steps on his belly when it was time to go downstairs to teach him how to get back down safely.  We have been doing it for months.  It felt like he was never going to learn how to get down on his own.  This weekend, right out of the blue, he went down the whole flight of stairs on his belly.  All of those hundreds of times we pulled him down suddenly felt totally worth it.  And it gave me hope that the “No!  1-2-3” followed by me stopping his activity and holding him on my lap for a twenty second time out I’ve been doing nonstop for the last few days will get through his stubborn little skull.  The little successes…
He’s doing this all the time now.  Very odd, but it keeps us laughing.  And he is doing better now, which means even though the meds I’m on make me feel like shit I’m feeling better too.

Nothing’s Easy or Why My Middle Name Should Be "Pain In the Ass" Rather Than Jane

In order for me to start to get over this miscarriage emotionally I’m going to need a little more cooperation from my body.  We had to head to the ER at seven this morning due to heavy bleeding eight days after the D&C.  Clearly my uterus sucks.  It held on to a piece of the placenta after T’s birth, it held on to a dead embryo for 5 weeks until I got the D&C, and now it won’t stop bleeding.  That is three strikes.  Can I get a new one?  One that won’t jerk me around and will let me get on with the business of healing? 
While I am grateful that I have a lot of say over what happens with my body I was presented with a situation today where I just wanted the doctor to tell me what to do.  My case was not cut and dry.  Although I was diagnosed with “abnormal vaginal bleeding” (Seriously, that is what my discharge papers said along with a number of other hilarious things.  I did a dramatic reading for Z on the way to the car.) the bleeding wasn’t heavy enough to clearly necessitate another D&C.  The other option was a drug that would cause my uterus to contract and hopefully expel the pesky little thing (blood clot? “left behind material of conception”? who the hell knows!) seen in the ultrasound that is still hanging around in my uterus.  So the doctor was in contact with my OB-GYN and told me that they were both comfortable with going either way, they would do what I want and I needed to make the call. 
Yes, but you see I am not a doctor.  I wanted them to tell me what would help me; I didn’t want to make the call myself.  Don’t you need years of education to make decisions about treatment?  I finally twisted the nice doctor’s arm enough for her to tell me what she would do in the same situation.  And I just went with that. 
Z came home with the prescription and there was a big orange sticker on it that said DON’T USE IF YOU ARE PREGNANT, MAY BE PREGNANT, OR ARE BREASTFEEDING.  I have a thing with orange.  I hate it.  The color, the taste, everything.  If it comes into contact with my skin I have to wipe it off.  I threw an orange toy of T’s under his crib so he couldn’t play with it anymore because I hate it so much.  Yes, I am a really selfish mom.  In my defense he has a ton of toys and I’m sure he doesn’t miss it.  But back to the prescription, if the sign was in orange it must really be serious.
Thankfully my dad-in-law is an ER doctor so I called him and told him about the sticker.  Then I told him that I clearly told the doc today that I breastfed 4 times a day, and later she mentioned to me that even though the breastfeeding would help my uterus contract this drug would help even more.  I asked if I had to call the afterhours OB-GYN number before I took the pill or if because she absolutely knew I was breastfeeding it was cool to go ahead.  When he said go ahead I was so relieved. 
I feel like a complete and total pain in the ass when I use that damn number.  I’ve had to use it twice since the D&C, my doc was actually at the hospital delivering a baby when I was there and he was in contact with the doc who saw me the whole time so I was also bugging him then.   The last thing I want to do is call and said “Hey, it’s Karen.   AGAIN.  Did you guys really know what you were doing when you prescribed this drug?”  I have always felt like an inconvenience to doctors.  Is that normal?  Do you feel like you are wasting doctor’s time even when something is legitimately wrong?  Do you dread having to call the afterhours number?  Or am I being a paranoid crazy person yet again?
One last semi-amusing thing.  I tried a joke with the ultrasound technician that I thought was pretty funny, but clearly made him uncomfortable.  These situations do tend to bring out the inappropriate in me.  I was asking a lot of questions about what he was seeing and he told me if he found anything he would immediately tell me.  I replied, “It would really rock if you found a developing baby in there.”  He knew I had recently miscarried.  Long awkward silence.  And I felt like a humongous dick.
And one last not at all amusing thing.  If you are friends with me you run the risk of inappropriately early Saturday morning phone calls in which I ask you to watch my child so I can go to the hospital.  Keep that in mind if we are friend dating, because when it bites you in the ass I don’t want it to be a surprise.  I managed to not only inconvenience my friend, but her husband and soccer game bound children as well.  While I don’t wish any of them ill, if they do need to make an ER trip I hope I’m the first phone call.  I owe them.  
Z has been doing this a lot at hospitals and doctor’s offices lately.  I think he is ready to stop.
Unwashed Karen “Pain in the Ass” Cordano