Friday, April 24, 2009

Random Pondering of the Day

1) Why is the Ford Escape the mall security vehicle of choice where I live? Are they just trying to egg on shoplifters?

2) My local utility district imposed water rationing during last year's drought. This year the drought abated, rationing lifted ... and rates went up by 15 percent. Why? Because revenues went down during water rationing.

3) Finally, why oh why must children learning to yo-yo practice standing over a toilet?

Monday, April 20, 2009

When Babies Attack

There is an interesting bunch of comments over at Niobe's regarding whether it is proper for a woman to bring live offspring to a walk of remembrance in honor of lost babies. The range of opinions is large, but can be very generally characterized as follows:

1) Babies? Oh, you mean those diaper-covered daggers with grenade handles. Remembrance marches should be adult-only events to protect the newly bereaved and anyone else who doesn't have a living child.

2) Babies do sort of suck. But ones born to parents who had a previous loss get grandfathered into my good graces. So ... bring your kid to the walk, if you really want to.

3) Babies represent hope. And kids who lost a sibling -- what are they, chopped liver? Let everyone whom the loss impacts walk together.

I am in the minority on this issue -- firmly ensconced in Group 3. I loooove babies. Babies were a much better soother for me than liquor or drugs or religion in my darkest days of loss. They were the best thing for me.

I should back up and say that in the first few weeks after my loss, seeing a baby was tantamount to a punch in the throat. I understand why some people recoil from kids in the wake of loss. I remember that stage well. But the lucky event that propelled me out of that place was the birth of my niece Scamp.

At first I couldn't believe how annoying, rude, and insulting the timing of that birth was. Scamp entered the world only six days after I said goodbye to my own daughter. I seethed at the unfairness of having to bind my stupid breasts to stop my milk while SIL geared up for a happy life at home with baby. I ground my teeth down to nubs listening to SIL complain about how hard it was to get up to feed the baby after a C section. I'd just gone through surgery and I was tired, too. But the reason I couldn't sleep was because of panic attacks due to complications from the loss. I yearned to tell SIL to suck it.

So when torrential rains flooded the roads between Oakland and Sonoma, I rejoiced at not having to go to the hospital to visit SIL and Scamp. Then once they went home, I perhaps exaggerated a wee bit about the whole family being deathly ill. "So sorry, we can't visit yet. Wouldn't want to give the new baby a cold, right?"

SIL, for her part, was lovely. She'd had a previous loss herself and understood. "Whenever you come is fine," she told me right after my termin.ation. "I realize it's hard. I won't be offended if you stay away for awhile."

All my instincts were screaming "Stay away forever!" But after about three weeks DH and I realized that like it or not, we had to go to Sonoma and see the baby. SIL and her family are the only relatives we have in the whole Pacific time zone. Staying away was weird.

Nobody asked if I wanted to hold the baby when we came. I couldn't decide if that was really kind or really mean. Finally, in an internal act of defiance, I thought, "Fuck it. Let's REALLY get this thing over with." I picked up Scamp and took a good look at her.

It was not what I expected. I didn't have the urge to drop her or start screaming at the loss of my own baby. In her nonchalant, unconscious way, she was utterly fascinating. Scamp settled into my arm and pursed her lips. They were the cutest little lips.

All I could think was, "Oh my God, she is adorable." And ... that was it. Nothing else. No spite or envy or bitterness. I was aware she wasn't my baby, but suddenly that didn't mean I had to dislike her out of loyalty to my own. In fact, I liked Scamp already. She and I were gong to get along -- I could tell it already. I patted her back gently and wished Scamp all the love and happiness on earth. Miraculously, I truly meant it.

It was the first moment since my loss where I didn't feel stunted and ruined by rage. It was also my very first moment of peace since I'd learned my baby might be sick. And all of those gifts came from a must-be-avoided-at-all costs baby. Go figure.

So that was when I decided that babies were no longer to be avoided. To this day I have a special bond with Scamp. She gave me so much, even though she is utterly unaware of all of it.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Summer Planning

I just finished my two weeks of fancy-schmancy, uber-expensive antibiotics and I would like to give them a standing O. After months of feeling crappy, suddenly I'm normal again. (Well, at least normal in that neck of the woods.) As someone whose life is a convoluted syndrome of complicated circumstances, I marvel when a simple solution works. I feel better. Drinks and leftover Easter eggs for everyone!

This is a month where most of what happens is preparation for other months. I'm doing activity research for the girls and trying to decide if/when we might go camping or otherwise travel, or just have the kids at activities, camps, preschool/daycare. Because by this summer I'll be back working more than I have been this winter, so I need dedicated blocks of time where my office is quiet. I could attempt to save money by working when they are home with me, but historically that's been dicey. Picture two girls running with scissors and wielding markers while I hide book manuscripts and page proof. Yeah, it was just like that, plus muddy fingerprints on the ctrl+alt+del buttons of my keyboard.

Thus far I've got Big A signed up for a week of art classes and another week of theater camp this summer. Big A also wants a week at horse camp, but I am leery. In theory she loves horses -- but her experience mostly involves waving at fields of them from the car, or clutching a shiny pink bejeweled neck of one on a carousel. With real animals, Big A tends towards skittish. She's fine at the zoo, where moats and barriers keep creatures away. But should a dog amble up and say hello to her on the bike path? Cue hysterics. So putting down a nonrefundable fee for horsie week is something I'm on the fence about.

Speaking of fences, today a new one gets installed at my house. It replaces a 50-year-old dilapidated trellis. While I adore the elderly couple who lives on that side of the yard, I did not love that they got to stare at my bathing-suited backside every time I took the kids in our pool last year. I'm soooo excited about the new privacy fence. We are also installing a more secure gate to keep the pool area separated from the rest of the backyard. We jerryrigged a system of homemade gates and fences that worked fine last year, but a couple weeks ago I saw the girls merrily scaling the old pool gate. Oh how they grow. So now my efforts to keep unsupervised kids out of the pool must grow as well.

Anyone else out there making summer plans now?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Helpful Hints from Wabi

Dear TG Associate,

It's great that you are now comfortable enough with your identity to begin taking concrete steps to transition from male to female in the general world. How exciting it must be to take the plunge. I'm so happy for you!

However, breaking the news to everyone the other day could have gone smoother. If you ever come out to people en masse again, I suggest ... actually coming out. You know, announcing the news. Because simply starting to send emails as some chick named Karen without ever mentioning "formerly went by Kraig" was very confusing.

Especially because you did it on April First.

Best Wishes,

Wabi, Queen of Helpful Hints