I found my old blog today—the one I started writing just after my miscarriage and kept writing through years of fertility treatments.
I thought it was gone forever…. but today I found myself on a friend’s blog, wanting to comment. I was already signed in as the author of my old blog. I clicked the link and there I was… my 2006 self in all my bitter, sarcastic glory.
I was way funnier back then. What Dostoyevsky said about how all happy families are the same but every unhappy family is dysfunctional in its own way—well, I think that applies to blogs too. Happiness is a bit boring. Struggles and the dark humour that ensues are far more interesting… and my old blog was full of that. It helped that in those days I had literally nothing to do all day, depressed as I was, so I had more time to make sure my writing was just right.
I don’t think I’ll be publishing or sharing it anytime soon—some of it is about my long months of fertility treatments, and there’s a lot of clinical TMI that was included because my readers were also in those trenches with me and appreciated what a 5mm follicle on CD12 meant. There’s also a lot of swearing, because that’s where my headspace was. But some of the later posts, about K’s first couple of years and N’s early infancy, are quite good, and those ones I’ll probably share if they’re relevant to our life today (and many of them are: their personalities were the same in infancy as they are ten and twelve years later.)
If my posts are a bit shorter than usual, or sparse in some way, forgive me. I’ll be holed up at my desk, reading about life from 2006 to 2011. And if you hear hilarious laughter, that’ll be me, because I used to be funny.
It’s a beautiful morning. Sure, it’s cold and cloudy, but I stand by my statement.
I’m writing this at 9:45 and this morning I’ve already enjoyed a dance party with E, a walk with my sweetheart, two cups of coffee, some snuggles, and a hot breakfast. In fact, all of those things happened before we started homeschool at 9:00.
We called the kids together for our morning stand-up meeting. As we waited, Mr. December commented, “Every school day should start like this.”
Yes. Yes, it should.
After my highly successful IKEA hack for cable management, I was feeling inspired; I spent an hour and a half yesterday clearing my desk and getting all the cables neatly tucked away. I finished the job and even did the unthinkable (for me): I cleaned up every last tool and speck of sawdust before I allowed myself to start something new.
“Is this some kind of ketone-fuelled cleaning spree?” Mr. December wanted to know (we recently started intermittent fasting again.) Maybe he’s right: maybe my fabulous mood and my productivity are the results of what I’m eating (or not eating) these days. Or maybe they’re just a function of the fact that right now, I’m living my best life; and right now that means working at a clean desk.
There’s definitely a part of me that feels a bit guilty about thriving right now; I know that many, many people—some of whom are people near and dear to me—have been doing worse and worse as the pandemic stretches on. And yet, as I learned when I was dealing with infertility and everybody else’s pregnancy was a dagger in my heart, happiness is not a zero sum game.
Something interesting is happening here: every weekday I wake up and get ready for the day, take a walk with Mr. December, and homeschool the kids. Many days, yesterday included, I’m working all day long, either teaching the kids or preparing materials for them, or sometimes doing things around the house. Mr. December and I usually try to go to bed right after we tuck the kids in. There’s not a whole lot of leisure time, and not much fun as most people would define it. I don’t take a lot of breaks.
You’d think this would be a recipe for burnout, right? I’d have thought so too. But I don’t feel burned out or run down. I feel energized. Focused. Productive.
The past year has just been so full of everything, good and bad, that it’s hard to know where to begin. I offer no excuses for my absence, and I would like to thank both of my loyal readers for sticking around.
Anyway, for those of you who are here because you like hearing about my life, here’s the update (in no particular order):
The children are now ages 6.5, 4, and almost 3. K (girl, 6.5) has lost four teeth and is currently sporting the adorable gap-toothed look. N is as sweet as ever. R just started potty training and has now gone 26 hours with no accidents.
Mr. December is pretty much the same, although this past year he started a very demanding volunteer position, which I’m tempted to blame for at least some of my blogging hiatus. For the record, I’m very proud of the work he’s done (even though I won’t be blogging about it.)
We still live in our little house, although we’re slowly putting together plans for a second-storey addition. I’m getting to the point where I’d really like to have my own bathroom (separate from the kids, anyhow,) not to mention the fact that we’re going to run out of room sooner or later because:
I’m pregnant. Once again, I’ve lost all my infertility cred. Come January, God willing, we’ll have four children.
Depression still looms large in my life, though I’ve finally gotten the hang of treating it like any other chronic illness.
I still sew, but I’ve found that I have less and less time for it. You’d think that evenings (after kids’ bedtime) would be a good time, but I’m usually too tired to contemplate going downstairs and starting to sew. Instead I stay up way too late on Facebook, arguing for common sense in the face of hysterical helicopter parenting.
I still bike, although I haven’t done any really serious biking in almost a year, and it looks like I won’t be biking any significant distances until maybe March or April, or whenever the ice melts around here.
In short, life is good. I am well. And I plan to pick up blogging again, even though at times I am, as Elizabeth Bennet says in P&P, “unwilling to speak, unless [I] expect to say something that will amaze the whole room, and be handed down to posterity with all the eclat of a proverb.”
You guys know Horton, right? “A person’s a person, no matter how small”?
I think we all know where he ended up… in the Oklahoma state senate. Supporting the newly passed Oklahoma personhood bill.
The bill declares that unborn children (by this bill’s definition, any stage from newly fertilized ovum up to full-term fetus) are recognized as persons, with the same rights as any other person in Oklahoma. This, of course, opens up all kinds of potential abuses:
“But officer, Iam a high-occupancy vehicle! I’m a fertility doctor and I have three hundred test-tube embryos in this cooler!”
“I’d like to claim a dependent on my taxes… how old? um, six weeks gestational age.”
All joking aside, I’d like to explain to you why the abortion debate infuriates me:
It seems to me that there are a couple of straw men here, at least one for each side. The pro-life camp decries the use of abortions as a form of too-late birth control. They seem to feel that, left to our own devices, women would throw caution to the wind and have unprotected sex because “there’s always abortion!” Perhaps there are some women who operate that way, but I can’t imagine there are so many of them.
In the meantime, the pro-choice camp trots out the argument that no woman should be forced to carry to term a pregnancy that resulted from rape or incest (although I don’t really understand the “or” there; if it’s consensual incest, she could have forseen the possibility of pregnancy and it’s not the same thing as rape. If it’s forced incest, how is that different from rape?). Again, I’m sure that there are some women who have been assaulted, became pregnant as a result, and chose to terminate. But to use that example over and over again as the reason for keeping abortion legal is missing the point of a movement called “pro-choice“.
Because when you really get down to it, the legality of abortion affects all kinds of reproductive choices – it’s not just about terminating a pregnancy. If a fertilized ovum is a person, if a three-day-old blastocyst is a person, then any infertility doctor who creates more embryos than she intends to transfer back into the womb would be a murderer. So would any infertility patient who, after having frozen a number of surplus embryos, ends up getting a divorce and choosing to destroy the embryos rather than use them. These issues alone would be enough to make many fertility treatments unfeasible, thus restricting women’s right to choose to get pregnant.
Women who get pregnant the “good old-fashioned way” aren’t exempt here, either. If a pregnancy is discovered to have implanted outside the uterus (some figures put this as happening in 2% of all pregnancies) it generally must be terminated. Yes, must. An ectopic pregnancy can cause the rupture of the fallopian tubes or other organs, leading to hemorrhage, leading to death. It’s not even a question of the mother’s life or the baby’s life in those cases – it’s either the mother’s life, or nobody’s. Under the personhood law, a woman who is treated medically for an ectopic pregnancy could be found guilty of murder, although one presumes that she could plead self-defense.
And let’s not even get me started on the alarming idea (already a reality, albeit a rare one) of court-ordered caesarian sections on the basis that the mother may be endangering the life of the fetus (for example, a mother who wants to have a vaginal breech birth.)
There are other cases I won’t go into here, but I think you get the picture. The abortion debate is about choice, and it’s not just about termination. I don’t usually hold with slippery slope arguments, but as soon as you erode one reproductive choice, you erode them all.
There is a magical line (somewhere around the 38-week mark) where that stops being a massive relief and starts being a bit annoying. Actually, I think that line appears sometime around the same time as people start calling you to say, “how are you guys?” but really mean, “had that baby yet?” I’ve even fielded a call from my in-laws tonight, who said that someone they know who knows me on facebook told them that I was in labour. Um, no. I am having contractions, but no labour. Twice in the past two weeks I’ve said to Mr. December, “I think you’ll end up having to call the midwives tonight.” Yet here I am, still pregnant.
And yes, I’m whining. My due date isn’t even ’til Wednesday.
In the spirit of serving this baby an eviction notice, I’ve tried many things. I even went to a massage therapist who only told me after I was naked and lying on the table that she felt it was unethical to massage the pressure points that can bring on labour. Um, thanks. Check, please!
I’ve been guzzling raspberry leaf tea, which so far has done nothing but make me pee a lot. I’ve tried plenty of “doing what got the kid in there in the first place” which is admittedly easier when you conceived spontaneously rather than through IVF (I highly doubt that the egg-retrieval equipment can handle anything as large as a newborn baby). I’ve tried lots of walking, bouncing on the exercise ball, lifting heavy objects (22-pound and 36-pound children, respectively), and self-administered accupressure. I’m getting contractions, but they kind of hang around and visit for awhile before deciding to leave. I need the kind that will bring along a U-haul and holler, “we’re moving in! where’s the fridge?”
Now, I firmly believe that the baby will be born when it’s ready. I believe that if the baby isn’t ready, there’s a reason and it’s probably better not to rush things. I think that if I let these piddly-ass contractions do their job, when labour finally happens it’ll be faster and smoother. But I also think it would be nice if my brothers (both of whom live far, far away and will be in town next weekend for three days) could meet their newest niece or nephew. Even better if they can attend the bris or naming, though at the time of typing this I only have another 18 hours or so before the bris would end up being the day after they leave.
I also believe that this kid is disturbing my sleep so much that he or she might as well be disturbing me from the outside. At least then I’ll be able to turn over in bed.
So there you have it. In principle, I’m against trying to induce labour (even naturally). In reality, I want to get this show on the road. Anybody know a good RMT with no scruples about hitting those labour-inducing pressure points?
My miscarriage changed a lot of things for me. Let me first explain that the pregnancy was hard-won (we were already dealing with fertility issues, although no specialists had been consulted yet) and that we saw a heartbeat and a perfectly-sized baby on an ultrasound at 7 weeks. Then at 9 weeks I began spotting, and at 10 weeks it was over. Just like that.
I was heartbroken, then angry. Was I angry at God? Yes, but that was just the beginning. My anger at God developed pretty quickly into anger at myself. After all, I was behaving like a spoilt child: “Okay, God, you took away something I really wanted. But I WANT IT! NOW! Fine, I’m just gonna ignore the world and sulk until you GIVE ME A BABY!”
This attitude made me take a long, hard look at my understanding of God. Did I really believe that good things happen to good people, and bad things happen to bad people? Did I believe that by loving God and doing the right thing I would ensure that no tragedy would ever befall me? Well, I kind of did, before the miscarriage shattered my illusion of a just world. And that new awareness, the knowledge of how childish my relationship with God was, was just another hole in my little canoe of self-assuredness.
I didn’t stop covering my head right away. But one day I didn’t put anything on my head, and once the pattern was broken it became easy to discard. And I gradually fell into major depression, which made it hard enough to care about anything. Sure, I put on clothes, but only because I had to wear something. I put no thought into it. In fact, having to decide what to wear every morning was enough to stop me in my tracks and make my cry for an hour or two. I just couldn’t handle anything.
I’m not going to chronicle my depression here, or talk too much about my changing understanding of God. Maybe one day I’ll re-post some of those entries from my infertility blog, if there’s interest. But this post is about the headcovering, so moving on…
Once I had stopped covering my head, I noticed that people were treating me differently. Nobody made assumptions about me. Frum women in the grocery store didn’t automatically smile and say “good shabbos” anymore. Our friends once again became comfortable telling “dirty” jokes around me, and people on the street would make pop culture references without immediately apologizing and trying to explain.
Part of me missed, and still misses, wearing long skirts and scarves. But another part just isn’t willing to do it again. The baggage is heavy – I’m not willing to be anyone’s example of what a frum woman is (mostly because I’m not frum). I’m not willing to be treated like I have half a brain, which is pretty much what I got from anyone outside the religious world. And I’m not sure how I feel about on-again-off-again headcovering and modest dress, and yet it would be a necessity for me. No, I’m not going to do my woodworking and work with power tools in a flowing skirt and headscarf. When I go to the beach, I will wear a bathing suit that allows me to actually swim. You can see where I’m going with this.
The other issue, and it’s a serious one that I feel I may never resolve, is about choice in religious observance. I’m well aware of the problem with observing only those mitzvot that make you “feel good” – when they stop feeling good, you stop observing them. It’s kind of hypocritical, isn’t it? On one hand – God commanded us to do certain things. On the other – “this one doesn’t make any sense. What’s the point in doing it?” I don’t have an answer, but the problem is frequently a nagging voice in the back of my mind.
So for now, I only enjoy my skirts and scarves on shabbat, and they give me the feeling of holiness I remember. I still have a drawer overflowing with beautiful scarves, hats, and even snoods. Sometimes I look at them and realize that I really should give them to women who will use them. But somehow, I can’t part with the scarves. I don’t know if I’ll ever wear them again the way I once did, but I just can’t let go.
Gee, it’s Wednesday already? I’d hardly have known, what with the oozing eyes and the coughing and the general ick that has descended on our house. Did any of you guys put a pox on my house? ‘Cause seriously, this pox sucks. Maybe next time just leave a flaming comment, ok?
Time marches on, and fortunately I managed to finish last week’s WIP pretty early in the week. Was I the only productive one? I felt so lonely as the only WIP Wednesday participant… please join me this week. Misery procrastination hates company!
If you do want to participate, leave me a comment with a link to your own blog. In your blog post, try to include the following:
What you want to accomplish this week.
A “before” picture, if possible.
A link back to this post, so people can find other WIP Wednesday projects.
And then next week, you get to post “after” pictures and brag about your productivity!
Completed: Play Mat!
As I mentioned last week, I wanted to put down our pretty playmats, but K was too fond of taking them apart. Paths of polka dots were strewn everywhere. I finally got smart and applied the stereotypical Canadian solution: duct tape!
Here’s a pic of the taped-together edges and seams:
And here’s a pic of the play area now:
The duct tape worked beautifully! The mats aren’t coming apart when we walk on them, or when N squirms a lot. K doesn’t try taking out the dots anymore since they don’t come easily. And my living room now has a soft, pretty place to play that doesn’t clash with the decor.
FYI – if you need duct tape for a decor or craft project, check the big-box craft store for Duck Tape. It comes in a bajillion colours.
Work in Progress: To Maternity and Beyond!
I’m going to out myself now. I’m pregnant. Apparently a history of infertility, poor IVF fertilization rates, and exclusive breastfeeding do NOT combine to form an effective contraceptive strategy. Who knew?
As a result, I need some maternity jeans. Not satisfied with the fit of the jeans from the maternity stores, I converted a pair of Bluenotes with the help of a couple of internettutorials. The results looked awesome. I wore those jeans so frequently that I wore them out! So here I am with a new pair of fabulous jeans and some t-shirt material, ready to convert another pair of jeans.
No before picture this time, but imagine me in a pair of regular jeans with the zip unzipped and the button being held to the button hole with a hair elastic. Classy, no?
To recap: Duck Tape good. Retail maternity jeans bad. You need to choose a project for this week, post it on your blog, and join WIP Wednesdays!