Archive for June, 2010


Tuesday jumble

June 29, 2010

I’m still wearing maternity jeans on occasion, even though they keep falling down.  My belly is still squishy.  My squishy belly is still most comfortable in elastic, though I try to wear pants that don’t fall down most days at work.

Dot was a very good sport about meeting my extended family this past weekend, but it bothers me when people call her a good baby.  I kept wanting to call people on this, but they meant it as a compliment (as if I have much control over it, but still) and I didn’t want to be all prickly when people were so glad to be happy for me.  Dot is in many ways an easy baby, and we feel pretty lucky that so far she is mostly good-natured unless she’s uncomfortable or tired, but we wouldn’t think of her as a bad baby if she were louder, cried more, or refused to let strangers hold her.  Easy doesn’t equal good, but if it did, then what was Teddy?  A very, very bad baby (huge medical needs, long-lasting emotional hurt for the parents) or a very, very good baby (no keeping us up with colic or even normal newborn hunger spells)?

My grandma is in the end stages of lung disease, and my mother talked to me about her worries about Grandma dying from lung failure – a long, slow, suffocation that must feel a lot like drowning.  All I could think about was Teddy, and if he felt like he was drowning when he died in my arms.  I hope not; he was very medicated and didn’t even open his eyes, but I wish lungs weren’t such fragile, necessary things.  I wish I could have focused more about caring for Mom and Grandma and not wonder how Mom could have no idea of the memories she was calling up when she talked to me.

N is still self-medicating and I can no longer act as though it doesn’t bother me.  His sister talked to me about it when she was visiting and suddenly I can’t turn a blind eye any more or hang onto my “hey, whatever you need to do to get through this” attitude.  I know it’s tied up with grief and with the anxiety he struggled with long before Teddy was born, and I also know that he loves Dot and me with crazy, big love, the kind of love I have for him.  I also know that now there’s a living child in the picture I can’t just think of him and me.  Hence the tremendous worry.  And since there is very little good counseling in our corner of the world, and especially after N’s encounter with Amazingly Bad Therapist, I worry that this option for help may not be available to us.  I don’t know what to do, but I’m painfully aware that doing nothing is also a choice, a choice that sometimes looks like giving up.

I think I’m still more damaged than I let on.  It shows up in little ways – I get paralyzed by the thought of making simple phone calls that are part of my job, I hide from things I should confront, I’m afraid to ask for help even when I need it, I have trouble, many days, focusing.  I drop more balls than I used to.  I intensely dislike this about myself.  I crave the escape of novels and sleep more than I usually do.  It’s partly just adjusting to parenting a living baby and partly the season and the memories rushing back, but it’s been almost two years.  I thought I’d be more myself by now – more of the self who was outgoing and energetic and responsible and willing to take on new things.  I don’t want to be tired and defeatist and sloppy.  I don’t want Dot to see me as this damaged self.  Also, the poor kid will never have a play date if I can’t manage to at least attempt being a little less introverted, a little more put-together.

I’ve been missing Teddy so much the past couple of weeks.  It’s like the summer has pulled the scab off of my grief and what used to be a mild though constant itch is open and oozing again.  I still look for him sometimes, half-expecting to find him waiting for me when I come home, or to see him peeking out at me from behind a tree, or to catch a glimpse of him around the next corner.  I wonder sometimes, where does all of this love I have for him go?  Does it reach him?  Is there a him for it to reach?  I want to say, yes, but when I am most honest with myself I have to admit that I don’t know.  There’s a howling void in the middle of that thought.

My feet are dry and yucky and rasp against the sheets at night.  Wrong as it is, right now I want a pedicure more than I want world peace.  This is just a phase and will pass, right?



June 21, 2010

It’s a chilly, gray Monday and I sit here wishing that June could, you know, act like June.  We had a really great week, full of visitors and activity, and while there’s something sweet about the chance to tidy the house a bit and catch a moment or two of quiet, I miss my Mom, my SIL, my nieces.  I miss the hubbub that kept my brain too busy to think much about the fact that it’s summer and that the two-year mark of Teddy’s loss is approaching.  So, if you’re passing through the eastern part of the Northwest, let me know.  Come stay at my house.  Bring some noise.

There are things I don’t write about when it comes to N.  He doesn’t read here, and I don’t want to tell his stories, but Saturday I held him and felt his shoulders shake with grief and tears.  His son is gone.  His chance at fathering his son is gone.  He is struggling with his relationship with his own dad and it’s especially hard sometimes, now that he’s lost Teddy, to see how his father could have left him. I, lucky child of two parents who still really like being together, am ill-equipped to help with these old scars and hurts.  I hold my partner, my husband, my favorite person in the world, and don’t understand why he’s had to bear so much hurt in his lifetime.  Of all the things I am angry about, this is the most enduring.

We see Teddy in Dot now, more and more often.  She looks like her brother around the eyes, around the chin.  She wears his tiny Cubs hat.  I’m happy and sad and about these glimpses of who he might have been.  I still worry, perhaps too much, over the pain and confusion he may have felt, but the bulk of the mourning now is for me and for N, for the games of catch, the walks in the park, the bedtime conversations, the moments of hilarity and frustration that will never be.

Our niece, who is three, is grappling with the limitations of words to describe thoughts and feelings and she’s fastened onto the word “complicated” when this happens.  She was fascinated (fascinated!) by an old barn we drove past last week.  “How did it get old?”  “When will they paint it red for the animals?”  And I think she was a bit saddened by it, too.  She wanted to see it, to take a photograph of it, to walk up to it and see why the roof was falling in.  But she couldn’t explain why.  What she said was, “I’m going to be a bit complicated about the old barn for a while.”  I feel a bit complicated about many things, myself, these days.

The craziness and noise of three children in the house is, it turns out, something I can get used to.  By the third day N and I were taking it more in stride.  By the third day, I was thinking, “I could have done this.  It would have been hard, but I could’ve.”

Damn it.

I hope it’s sunnier and more pleasant wherever you are today.


One, two

June 17, 2010

My sister-in-law is visiting with our nieces.  The oldest is three and the other is eight months, and they are absolutely beautiful little girls.  I’ve been water color painting and reading stories and dancing (which involves picking my 3-yr-old niece up and spinning in circles till I’m dizzy, then resting for a few seconds and doing it again).  The ducks have taken over the bathroom, and the decibel level of our generally quiet house has grown exponentially, all the more so because Dot has decided that this would be a good time to discover what fun it can be to shriek like a baby pterodactyl for sustained periods of time.

The Armada

All we need is an elephant and we could call ourselves a circus and charge admission.

The cats slink and skitter around with shell-shocked expressions, and as wonderful as the chaos of three little girls is, there are times when I wish I could go hide in the basement, too.  Last night I wrapped my arms around Nathan and said, “One is nice.”


I’m filling out the weighty packet of forms for Dot’s day care come the Fall semester, and keep getting stuck on the line that asks me to list her siblings, if any.  It’s the “if any” that really sticks in my craw somehow.  If any, if only.  I have to write his name in, so that I don’t kick myself for negating him later, even though I don’t think they need to know.  And I watch my beautiful sister-in-law wrangle and cuddle her two girls and think to myself that it has to be intensely difficult to give enough time to each, and I think that she’s doing a brilliant job but wonder if I could have done half as well if my almost-two-year-old were running around adding to the noise levels.

We may not have another child – pregnancy doesn’t turn out to be something I’m especially good at and right now it feels good to concentrate our attention on Dot – but I”ll never have one.  My family is now only measured in imaginary numbers.  I have two children, but only one with me.  I have one crazy-loud and amazing baby pterodactyl baby who may grow up to be an opera singer or a human vuvuzela, but I also have one who won’t grow up at all.

And if I had an almost-two-year-old chances are slim to none that we’d have Dot, and it feels like she’s meant to be here somehow.  So if Teddy were here, running around and reading stories with his cousin and N in the tent in our back yard, Dot would be the imaginary number.  This is the part where my head feels explode-y.

What number are you, Teddy?  What number are we? There are three of us: me, N, Dot.  And there are also four of us.

I’ve never been good at math, but today I find myself wishing I could write an equation that would show me how to have two, how to be four.


And now for something completely different

June 11, 2010

Because it’s Friday and I’ve been thinking about this lately, and for no other reason that I can think of, here’s a brief list of things I learned growing up in  Montana:

  1. Rain is a good thing.  Seriously.  Every time it rains, I think, “Oh, good. Rain.”  I may sympathize with you because of missed or ruined events, I may be sad for my own missed or ruined events, but in my secret deathly-afraid-of-drought heart, I will always welcome the rain.
  2. You know those cooking shows where the chef runs to her amazing local market, picks up American caviar, squash blossoms, and puff pastry, and then assures you dear viewer that these things are all available at your local grocery store?  They aren’t.  Not even the puff pastry.
  3. If you’re going to have guns around, it’s good to know how to use them.  I’m not joining the NRA any time soon (or ever), and N and I have decided not to have guns of any kind, including water pistols (and we’ll see how that works out) in our home.  But I know what to do with a rifle, and I wish that, if people were going to carry guns, they all had to go through a program like Hunter Education.
  4. If you talk to the winds, sometimes they’ll tell you stories.
  5. F**k can be used as a noun, a verb, an adjective, and an adverb.  Especially when something is really wrong with the tractor your father and grandfather are trying to get to work again.
  6. People who refer derogatorily to other people as hicks or rednecks show a profound ignorance of the skills, knowledge and heart that go into agricultural labor.   Also, they tend to be close-minded snobs.
  7. If you have a good library, you never need to be bored.  Even in a town where the most exciting activity known to high school students is driving up and down Main Street looking at other high school students who are driving up and down Main Street.
  8. Don’t run away from bears.  Don’t feed bears.  Don’t surprise bears.  Don’t taunt bears.  Don’t get between a mama bear and her cub.  Don’t walk up to a bear with your camera.  Let the bears be.
  9. If you find yourself being asked questions along the lines of, “Are there escalators in Montana?” the best thing to do is to just give in to the urge to spin a tall tale.  Tell about how the first escalator in the state was just installed five years ago and people came from all around to see this wonder of modern technology, and how this started a state-wide three-day-long escalator festival, and how your mom’s gopher stew took the blue ribbon at the festival last year.  The secret ingredient was rattlesnake.
  10. Plants and trees have names and stories.  Some smell like vanilla.

What did where you grew up teach you?


Please explain

June 7, 2010

how, after almost two years out,  after a fun and happy weekend, I can be having a good morning filled with checking things off my to-do list and a pleasant conversation with a friendly colleague who brought a book by for Dot, how I can be hooked up to the breastpump in my office, going through emails from the weekend (delete, delete, delete, read, delete) and all of a sudden miss Teddy so much I can’t stop crying.

I’m lucky, damn it.  I have a beautiful daughter and a husband who’s also my best friend, and a job I like, and I can finally fit into my non-maternity pants again.  What’s wrong with me?

It may be the beginnings of summer, or the fact that I realized I was happy, or maybe I can blame oxytocin?  But it suddenly feels raw again and I’m reduced to the tired old wail of I want you back.  I want you back.

And I’m out of tissues.

Damn it.

Miss you, my huckleberry.  Sending love out to wherever you are.