Thursday, July 31, 2008

This post brought to you by 4 Coronas

Is it wrong of me to hate Angelina Jolie? I mean, I should probably spend my time thinking about more important things, right? But I just can't bear it. Six kids! WTF?

I don't feel rage personally anymore. I'm actually mostly happy, most of the days. Lance and I still don't talk, but he's only home in the evenings, and the rest of the time it's just me and the kids. And I'm okay. I'm not depressed anymore, I don't cry anymore, everything is slowly getting back to normal.

But Brangelina. God, I hate them. I have transferred all my hurt and pain and anger onto them and I loathe them with every fiber of my being. Also, I want to steal all those babies, especially the twins. And did she really have to steal my name? Vivian? With the fancy snotty French spelling? UGH.

I will NEVER have what they have. I will never have another pregnancy, IVF or not. I will never adopt a baby, even though I would KILL to do that. It is not in the cards for me, SO WHY IS IT FOR THEM? Do they not have enough, what with the gazillions of dollars, the 6 healthy kids, the gallivanting all around the world, the adoring fans? Just where are MY adoring fans, that's what I'd like to know.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

5 items

I have been doing very well on my diet this summer, with the notable exception of alcohol. Still, I've lost 5-7 lbs and gained a bit of muscle and I'm starting to like the way I look again. To celebrate, today I made a pan of brownies with the kids and promptly ate 1/2 of it. I'm pretty sure I gained back 3 lbs just doing that.

Vacationing with friends is lots of fun, especially if you keep it short and sweet--say, a weekend at most. But differing parenting styles are never more apparent than when you are in an enclosed area for an extended period of time. Quick question: if your 5 year old cried like a baby over every. little. thing. and pouted and whined for an entire weekend, would you not be embarrassed? Would you not have something to say about it other than, "oh, honey, what's the matter?" Oy.

San Francisco is a beautiful, vibrant, hip city; I know, I lived there for 8 magical years. But man, there's just something fundamentally wrong with shivering in jeans and a Northface jacket in the middle of July. Seriously, the cold. I can't take it.

My husband is really cranky when he is tired. I completely hate it when he is cranky, which is funny (read: shameful), considering I've been cranky for the past year.

I don't think I'm supposed to admit this, but here it is: being a stay-at-home-mom is BORING. I mean, at first it wasn't. When the kids are little it's exhausting, and I think, a lot harder in many ways than being a working mom. But now that they are older? I have GOT to find something to do with myself. I have some feelers out there--there's a possibility I could be an aide in the kindergarten next year, except the budget cuts are holding that up, and my old job has expressed an interest--but it's really difficult to find a job with the hours I need (i.e. 8:30am to 11:30am) and that pays enough to be worth it. (Although at this point any money would be worth it.)

Want some photos with your blather? Okay:
(It was squinty. This was from our weekend to San Diego with the neighbors--warm but overcast)

From our trip to Colorado with Lance's parents:
(Ain't she cute?)

From our trip to the Outer Banks with my family:
Summer II
Now that looks like summer, doesn't it?

Monday, July 28, 2008


Upon picking up my daughter from a sleepover at my mother-in-law's house:

MIL: So, I just need to tell you something that Vivian said to me yesterday, out of nowhere."
Me: Oh, what?
MIL:She said, 'Mommy doesn't love Daddy'. And when I asked her why or what she meant, she said, 'Mommy always yells at Daddy'.
Me: Oh! Uh .. . . .
MIL: So I just told her that sometimes people get frustrated with each other and speak sharply to each other but they still love each other, like when Isaac made her mad, she might yell but she still loved him. That seemed to pacify her. But . . .
Me: Oh, that is terrible. That, uh . . .
MIL: So I just thought you should know. They pick up on that stuff. They know what's going on.
Me: Of course. Yes. Um, thank you for telling me. That is terrible.
MIL: And you know, Isaac said the same thing to me, about 6 months ago.
Me: . . .! . .

It makes me want to throw up, just reliving it now. But I need to. I need to put it here, where I can see it, where I can remind myself to grow up already and stop acting like an idiot. So I give it to you to hold and remember, to throw back in my face if I ever start getting high and mighty again.

God. Am such an asshole.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

State of the Union, Part Deux

Where was I? Oh yes, the lovely 13 week miscarriage after months of debilitating morning sickness. Let's skip over the horrific part, the appointment with no heartbeat, the call from the genetic counselor days later cheerfully letting me know that my CVS results came back "perfect, everything looks great!", the D&C at the under-construction hospital that was delayed by 3 hours because my OB had an emergency difficult delivery, the waiting on a cot in a hospital gown and nothing else in what amounted to a hallway, staring at the other knee-replacement patients, the nurse who actually asked me if the surgery was elective--yes, skip all that. It sucked.

What was Lance doing during all this?, you might wonder. Actually, it is at this point that he finally took off the evil selfish passive-aggressive hat he'd been wearing and put on his knight in shining armour suit. He was very apologetic, he was very supportive, he took care of me, he tried to make me laugh, he cried with me, and he insisted that we try again. At first, I welcomed this. I needed someone to lean on, and it felt good to have him on my side again.

Our 9 year anniversary was October 3rd, and I remember our dinner out. We had a fabulous time, talking about everything, the miscarriage and when we might start trying again included. We laughed and drank too much wine and it felt very intimate and right.

But it didn't last, and I suppose that is mostly my fault. I didn't really trust him, and once I started feeling better, once I didn't need his support so much anymore, then the trust issues came up again. Also, resentment, for putting me through hell and for what? So I started pulling away a bit. We stopped talking about babies, we stopped talking about most things. I started gearing up for the holidays and I'd wake up feeling resentful but instead of talking about it I'd just let it smoulder all day. We were having sex, and that was still good, but we weren't talking about it, again. I wasn't paying much attention either, as I felt ambivalent about baby-making sex: I still wanted a baby, desperately, but I was also terrified.

Then, miraculously, December 23rd, I got a positive pregnancy test. I was in complete shock. It hadn't even occurred to me that I might be pregnant that cycle, I was sure we hadn't timed intercourse correctly. But there it was.

I wrapped up the test in Christmas paper and handed it to him that night after the kids were in bed.
"What's this?"
"What do you think?" I ask, smiling, thinking that surely he can guess from the shape of the package.
"I don't know."
"Well, open it."
Slowly, he tears off the paper, then says, "Jesus, you are incredible."He laughs a little, drily, so it sounds almost like a cough.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean, Jesus! I can't believe it." That dry laugh again.
"But it's good, right?"
"I guess. . . shit."
"Why are you swearing?"
"I don't know."
"I love you, babe."
"You know you can't drink at Christmas now, right?" He turns to look at me for the first time and he is not frowning, but not smiling either. His face looks tight and I can't decide if he is teasing me or being intentionally cruel.
"I know, don't worry." I decide it is just nervous excitement and kiss him on the cheek, escape up the stairs.

This pregnancy is easier than the last: I am not so sick that I can't sleep, I am able to perform simple tasks like boiling a hot dog without gagging. But I am exhausted, like never before. I nap every afternoon with Vivian, leaving Isaac to roam the house alone, playing hour after hour of video games on the computer that I do not have the strength to supervise and god knows what else. Once again, I escape up to my bed the moment Lance is home from work. I sleep easily 12 hours each night plus an hour or more nap during the day and still I feel tired, groggy, heavy, dull as I shuttle the kids to gymnastics or karate.

(You may notice here that pregnancy and I do not mix well. I freely admit that I fail spectacularly at pregnancy, and not just because I miscarry all the time. Also because I can barely function, I am completely undone physically by pregnancy. Some women breeze through it, glow and look beautiful and happy; I do not. I suffer, mightily, and I do not suffer alone. I make sure to drag everyone else along with me.)

Still, things are better. Lance and I are not talking a lot, but there are smiles, the occasional joke or kiss on the cheek. We still separate to our respective corners every day--me in the bed upstairs, Lance downstairs watching ESPN--but when he crawls into bed later he'll kiss me. When I stumble back into bed after my 5th trip to the bathroom and notice him there I drag my finger over his arm, or pat his back heavily before drifting back into deep slumber.

I actually think if that baby had survived, if I was still pregnant right now, we'd both be happy, we'd be anticipating to his birth equally. But of course he didn't, and so now we are in a different place altogether.

Hmm. I'm getting bored of this story. Aren't you? Good thing there are so many Blogher posts to read instead. I'm almost finished though. We're already up to, say, February, 2008. I'll do the rest later . .

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Ugly is as ugly does

Originally I planned to write this from Lance's point of view. Or, at very least, I intended to show his side of the story. Obviously, it hasn't worked out that way so far. But I do want to be honest here, or as honest as I know how to be. I want to admit my own culpability, I want to own my part of the fallout. So here's a few things that may not be clear.

1. I am not a talker. I don't like to talk, especially about myself, especially about important things. My natural default is to claim everything is fine and change the subject. (Remember?) So, in the beginning, when Lance and I were "trying" to get pregnant, it was very easy for me to not discuss the elephant in the room. Yes, it was unfair for him to have repeated unsafe sex with me for months and then punish me when a pregnancy resulted, but also, I'm not an idiot. I knew what we were doing, and I knew he didn't really want a baby, I just decided to ignore that. I wanted the baby and I let the sex be his answer, instead of all the comments he was making about not wanting a third. So then it's not really fair of me to be surprised or hurt when he reacts exactly the way I knew he would.

2. Right about the same time all this was happening, we moved back into our house. We did an extensive remodel in 2006. Our mortgage doubles. Power and water bills go up by about 1/3. Lance works in sales for Cisco, and sometime that summer, they redid his compensation plan. His 'goal' is set much higher than it had been in 2006 and for the first time in a few years he is facing making less money than he did the year before. (As it turns out, he makes about 25% less in 2007. 2008 is worse.). The financial strain is great. I know this (I am the one who manages the money in our household), yet I refuse to consider its implications for our family. I refuse to accept that adding a third child will undoubtedly strain our budget to the extreme.

3. Remember how I said I'm not a talker? Well, after our Big Fight, I stopped talking altogether. I said nothing to him. Not good morning, not how was your day, not thanks for taking the kids, not wow, this morning sickness is kicking my butt. I went about my days, (spent mostly in bed) and absolutely ignored his presence. Some of that was unintentional, some of it was simply a result of feeling so sick that even talking took too much effort. Some of it was because I didn't want to hear anything he had to say. I didn't want to hear the word abortion again. But it was also intentional, it was also me punishing him for not being the husband I wanted him to be. And it got to be a habit. Ignoring him, feeling annoyed by him, wishing he were someone else. Then before I even realized what was happening I forgot how to be nice to him. I have not been nice.

If Lance were writing this story, he'd probably have about 10 more points here to add, times when I acted immaturely, where I shut down or shut him out, when I expected him to read my mind and punished him when he read it wrong. I am not the victim here. I am a fully invested participant and I want to make that clear to you--and to me. Lance may not be the husband I wanted, but I am certainly not the wife he envisioned either.

The one thing that has somehow remained constant: I still love him. He still loves me. Even when I was so busy hating him I couldn't even say his name without rolling my eyes, even then, I still loved him. I want to make this work, and he does too.

And so we keep keeping on.

I'll return to the story tomorrow maybe. I can't believe I'm only up to September 2007.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

State of the Union

So, Lance. I haven't written much about Lance, because it's been so . . . difficult. It's such a long story, and it's complicated, and I don't know where to start. Well, here:

Christmas 2006

We are at Lance's best friend's house for dinner when we get the news: the newly married couple (you may remember their wedding), are pregnant, due in August.

Later, Lance turns to me, whispers,"I feel kind of inspired, don't you? Maybe we should do that, too."

"You mean---What? Really? Yes! Totally! Absolutely! We have to!" I am positively giddy, and fresh tears of joy prick the back of my eyelids. Never in a thousand years did I imagine he would agree to try for three.

The next day I make the appointment to have my IUD removed, and by late February, it is done.

We are driving to Disneyland, following Lance's best friend and his pregnant wife, plus another couple with two kids whom we all know.

"We'll have to get a new car", I say casually, glancing back at the kids in our Lexus SUV. "I don't think we can fit an infant car seat between their two." I am testing him, waiting to see if he is serious.

"The lease is up in a year I think, plus I need to sell my car. We'll figure it out."

I don't meet his eyes, afraid he will see the excitement in my eyes, afraid to scare him out of it. But I still can't quite believe it, so I add, "Wow, three. I don't know, I always thought two or four was better. Three was tough for me growing up. Should we have four?" Here I giggle, to let him know I am joking, to give him an out.

He doesn't answer, so I press on. "But I'm so old already, I just turned 37. God, I'd be 40 by then!"

And he says, "We could always adopt the fourth". I sneak a glance at him, sure that he is joking, but he is looking straight ahead, he is not smiling, he seems to be serious.

May 2007
We have been 'trying' for a few months. I put trying in quotes because it is unlike the trying we did before we conceived Isaac. We don't talk about it. I don't tell him my fertile times or give any indication that I hope the sex we are having might end in a baby. It seems very one-sided; the trying is all on my side. His side is just enjoying the sex. I don't want to rock the boat, I'm still terrified that the wrong move on my part will halt our efforts in their tracks, so I just go along, quietly.

Occasionally he makes comments that puzzle me: We clean out the garage, and he piles the old strollers together saying, "We should give this stuff to Alex." I don't answer, afraid of what he is saying, but that night we make love as usual and he doesn't pull out.

At dinner when my parents are in town I spill the beans that my best friend is recently pregnant with her 3rd. My parents are thrilled for her and my dad asks, "What about you two, would you ever consider a third?"
"No way", Lance says, emphatically. I reach over, rub my hands through his hair and smile, then say, "Well, you never know. Right, babe?" He doesn't answer.

June 2007
Earlier in the day Lance has again commented something to the effect of wanting only two kids. And yet here we are, in the evening, about to make love--about to make a baby. I stop what I'm doing, sit up.
"What are we doing? What is this? I don't understand you."
"Why do you say things about not wanting a baby and then come home and have sex with me?"
"What else am I supposed to do?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you are giving me no choice. Either we have this baby or you resent me forever, right?"
"But I thought you wanted a baby."
"I never wanted another baby!"
This quickly degenerates into a shouting match with nothing resolved. A week later, we have sex again. No mention is made of babies or contraceptives.

July 2007
I am in Delaware with the kids, visiting my family. Lance is in California. I have a feeling that I am pregnant, but I have had this feeling for at least 3 months before and I have been wrong. And now I am terrified--if I am pregnant, Lance will freak out. That is a given. I try to avoid alcohol in the off chance that I am, but I'm with my family--we are a family that enjoys cocktail hour--and it is impossible to decline. My period is two days late. Finally I break down and buy a pregnancy test. I have to know, I have to stop drinking if it is true.
Two lines. My heart beats rapidly in my chest, I feel light-headed. I sit on the bathroom floor, holding the test in my hand, not sure what to think. I am ecstatic. I am terrified. I can't breathe. Quietly, quickly I run out to the hall and grab the phone, sneak back to the bathroom. I dial my best friend, the one who is also pregnant with #3.
"Susanna!" I am whispering because I don't want anyone in my parents' house to hear, but also because my voice is not working properly.
"I'm pregnant."
"What? Amy? Are you okay? I can't hear you."
"I'm pregnant"
She screams in joy and laughs, "Oh my god! I'm so glad! Yay! Oh my god! I can't talk I'm so happy!"
I smile for the first time and laugh, too, nervously. But she is so full of hope I can feel the terror subsiding and I start to consider the baby. The baby that I have been wanting so much. A baby! Those teeny tiny toes! And gummy grins! And sweet sweet smelling heads!

I make it through dinner with my family somehow, put the kids to bed, retire to my room. Now I am terrified again because I have to call Lance. I know his reaction will not be what I want. But surely once he gets over the shock he will be alright. He had to know this was going to happen eventually.

"I have some news".
"I'm pregnant."
"I'm pregnant."
(Long Pause)
"Are you there?"
"Lance? Hello?"
"Yes. Yes, I'm here."
"Um, what do you think?"
"What do I think? Hmm, well, I think this is the biggest mistake of my life."
"Come on, babe, it's not that bad. It will be fun. You love babies, too, remember? And it will be easy this time, we know what to do!"
"I have to go, I have to hang up."
he hangs up the phone.

August 2007
I am sick. So sick I can barely raise my head off my pillow. Food is disgusting, yet it is the only thing that makes me feel better. I stuff chips into my mouth constantly, chips and cookies and processed foods. I carry heated frozen pizzas to my bedroom and eat them while lying down. Every time I get up, I gag. I wake in the night, the nausea so bad I feel like I am on a sailboat. I eat bowls of cereal throughout the night, and I feel slightly better, enough to fall asleep for another hour. In the morning, I cannot look at Lance or the children. Their smell makes me gag. I am green and drawn, I need to eat something but everything sounds foul. There is a metallic taste in my mouth that will not go away. Twice, I forget to feed the kids breakfast before taking them to school. But I don't care. I just need to lie down. I drop them off, stop at McDonald's for french fries, come home to my bed.
It is the worst morning sickness of my life. This is my 6th pregnancy.

Because I am so sick, Lance and I barely talk. We have said maybe 100 words to each other since I announced my pregnancy. But I don't care. I am just trying to survive. Weekends and evenings, he takes the kids, without any prompting from me, to the beach, to the park, to his parents' house. Anywhere, away from the house, where I lie in bed, stuffing my craw with nachos and Popsicles.
"He's okay", I tell my friend Susanna, "he keeps taking the kids for me, I don't even have to ask him, it's actually kind of sweet".
Except it's not sweet, not really. Because he can barely look at me, and I know, on some level, he is taking the kids not to give me a break, not because he knows how terrible I feel, but because he needs to get out of the house too. My illness makes it impossible for him to pretend this isn't happening. He hates me.

Finally, one morning. He is working from home for some reason. The kids are in school. I come down to the kitchen to forage for some chocolate chips or macaroni and cheese. I don't remember how it starts, but it does. The biggest argument fight of our marriage. I am moody and irritable, I feel like shit and I spew: what is the matter with him, why can't he be happy, why is he acting like this is so terrible? He is not the one who feels like shit, he is not the one who can't sleep, what is his fucking excuse?
It is during this argument that the word abortion is thrown around, (though he completely denies it now) and I remember saying shouting "Well you better decide if you want to abort this baby now because I'm not doing it after 10 weeks!" "Thank you", he answers quietly, "thank you for considering that option."
I am 8-1/2 weeks pregnant. I call him all kinds of bad names, stalk back upstairs, cry on the bed for hours. Then stop, because I feel too terrible to concentrate on him and what he is thinking. I can only concentrate on feeling better.
For the next few weeks, again, we hardly speak. I don't care.

September 2007
We are in Canada, vacationing with my family. I am feeling slightly better, though I still have days where the effort of speaking to anyone seems impossible. Nothing tastes good, but at least I do not feel like I have to be in bed all the time. My family is annoyed, slightly, that I am not my usual self--they don't get to see me very often, and they want to have fun with me. But I am not drinking, I go to bed early, I take naps, I don't smile that much. I am annoying to be around. I can't water ski, I can't jump off Whiskey Rock, I can't participate as much as I'd like to, or as much as they'd like me to.
I can't help it. I do my best. I remind myself and everyone else that in April there will be a baby to show for it all. (I am due April Fool's Day, a sign if I ever knew one.) Lance and I don't talk much. I read a lot. The kids have a ball with their cousins, and I am grateful that they at least, are having fun. I am sure things will turn around for Lance and I once I feel better, once the baby comes, once he gets used to the idea. In the meantime, I shut him out, afraid of what he will say if we do talk. I wait until it gets better.

September 20th, 2007
We are back in L.A. I am 13 weeks pregnant, I am feeling much better. I had a CVS the week before and should have the results in a few days. I go in for my monthly OB appt.

No heartbeat.

Okay, I'll tell the rest later. Now you can see why I put off writing this for so long. It takes forever! And it is not a happy story. Actually, I'm not sure if this is making me feel better or worse. But thanks for listening, regardless.