Her Bad Mother

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Oh, Hai, Person With The Childbirth Horror Videos? DO NOT SHOW ME THEM

I haven't even given birth to this child yet and I've already gotten my first flaming piece of assvice. Which, you know, would be totally poetic - seeing as this weekend is the weekend of a virtual assvicefest of a baby shower that is being held partly in my honor - if the nature of the assvice weren't so freaktastically disturbing.

Yesterday, I wrote a little post that was intended to thank my sweet friends for throwing this shower. I preambled with some babble about how miserable I've been and how badly I want this behemoth infant out of my body and included a few lines about an exchange that I'd had with my doctor that morning that went something along the lines of oh hai doctur pleez get this babee out of mah body and no srsly doctur I can haz C-section? Which - and I didn't think that this needed explaining - were tongue-in-cheek (mostly - more on this below) both in their original statement and in my recounting of them here, on this bad blog.

I did worry a little bit that I might offend someone - I know that some people have strong opinions about c-sections, and that some women who have had them experienced them as disempowering etc, etc, - and so I toyed with the idea of posting a little disclaimer to the effect that AM JOKING (mostly) PLEASE DON'T TAKE OFFENSE. But then I thought, a) if I had to apologize for every instance of black humor on this blog, it would be all apology, no blog, which kinda defeats the purpose, and b) I was also kinda not joking - to the extent that, yes, I am getting that desperate - and shouldn't have to apologize for my awkward attempts at expressing the extent of my current discomfort.

So I left it alone. I had closed comments anyway, so that people would follow the links that I provided rather than feel obligated to leave comments, so I figured that I wouldn't hear much about it. But then I opened my inbox in the middle of the night - have I mentioned? am not sleeping because there is no sleeping position known to womankind that can comfortably accommodate a belly with a 30-something inch girth - and clicked open a comment with a link to a video that seemed expressly designed to give me nightmares: full, unedited video of Anna Nicole Smith's C-section. The next comment, which would have preceded the comment with the link, said something to the effect of you must watch this... get as far away from your OB as you can... they are setting you up for a slaughter! (Those last few words? Not paraphrased.)

Which, you know? Not helpful advice for a woman who is 9 plus months pregnant with a gargantuan baby and who can't sleep even without the Sears-gone-Freddie-Krueger threats of doom and the explicit horror videos.

Look, I know that for some women, C-sections are almost as bad as female circumcision and forced sterilization in terms of disempowerment and violation of the female body, and I can totally see how if one felt that way, one might want to intervene to prevent others from undergoing such a procedure and that this person had all sorts of good intentions, BUT. How different is such intervention from, say, anti-abortion intervention, if imposed upon someone who has not asked for an opinion on the matter? I mean, sending me gory videos and telling me that I'm doomed for slaughter? Terrifying me isn't exactly the right way to engage me on the issue of C-sections, nor does it any way help me in any way to cope with the massive physical and psychological burden that this pregnancy has become (yes, I said it: burden. I am that f*cking miserable from pain and fatigue and the feeling of complete and utter broken-down uselessness). You're welcome to tell me that you disagree with C-sections (although, again, my request for a C-section was tongue-in-cheek, as are any and all statements to the effect that I plan on flushing this child out with castor-oil-and-vodka martinis) (maybe), but please do not tell me that I am 'not thinking' and that I am unappreciative of equal rights v.v. my body and puhleeze do not use scare tactics to make whatever point you're making.

I'm not planning a c-section, nor would my doctor even support giving me one for anything less than pressing medical reasons. Which, again, is not to say that I wouldn't joke that I can't see getting much bigger and incapacitated without being tempted to demand one or perform one on myself, and that it wouldn't be all the funnier for me because it's maybe a little bit true. Joking about it doesn't mean that I don't take this birth - or the means by which I will undergo the birth - very seriously. It does mean that I take choice very seriously - as I wrote at BlogHer just this week - and that I hold in very high value the fact that as a woman living in North America in the 21st century, I can choose whether to give birth at home or in a hospital, with drugs or without, and that if I need a c-section, I can have one.

And it also means that I am very attached the principle that what I do with those choices is nobody's f*cking business but my own. Which is to say, if anyone else out there is thinking of sending me gory childbirth videos starring doomed D-list celebrities, C-section or otherwise, don't.

Just don't.

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Friday, May 2, 2008

Joy, and Pain (Pump It Up Pump It Up)

I cannot even begin to tell you how crap I feel. Seriously. Between the ongoing false labor and the muscle-searing leg cramps, the chest-sucking heartburn and the debilitating backache, the no sleep and the no f*cking sleep, I'm this close to asking somebody to just club me in the head so that I can be unconscious for the rest of this pregnancy.

My doctor, today: Well, this baby seems to be over the 90th percentile for size, so it's not surprising that you're uncomfortable.

Me: How much bigger are you going to let him get before you get him out of me?

Doctor: (laughs)

Me: No, seriously.

Doctor: We like to let babies come out when they're ready.

Me: What about when I'm ready? I'm ready now. Seriously. Can't you just, like, give me a C-section or something? Today?

Doctor: (laughs)

Me: (kills doctor)

I'm just, you know, done. And of course you know, because what else do I do but bitch about it (when, that is, I'm not bitching about other anxieties and issues)?

So, this weekend? I am declaring a moratorium for myself on bitching about pregnancy and motherhood. I declare a moratorium on bitching, period. In part because I am getting just so tired of myself, and in larger part because some very, very dear friends have decided to remind me - and a coupla other knocked up ladies I know - that there's much to celebrate to about this time, and also, that no-one has a right to be so bitchy when they have such good friends. By throwing a virtual shower. Which has me so bursty in the heart and choked up in the throat that I just don't know what to say about it.

Go see for yourself. Participate - they've got prizes, really cool ones. And also, it's fun, and I am totally needing me some fun right now, so please get liquored up on my behalf and join in. It's on until Sunday night.


Another, much more sombre reason to not be a flaming bitch from hell, even though I feel that I am totally justified in my desire to give in to that urge: because I am so lucky to facing a healthy childbirth and - fingers crossed and prayers fervently whispered - a healthy child. I'm facing the greatest of happinesses. Some moms lose their happinesses. I only know this pain at a remove, but what I know of it is already too much. I don't know how they do it, but they're writing about it. Go see.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

White Flag

This is probably the last (intrauterine) picture of my boy:

It's not the best picture, not least because he's a bit squished up in there and he wouldn't hold still and so what might otherwise be a sweet sideways view of his wee face turned out to be a sweet sideways view of a wee face with two noses and four eyes. Which, you know, wouldn't stop us from loving him with all our hearts, but still. It doesn't matter, though, two eyes or four: it's a picture. It's him.

This picture was taken two days ago, when I was 36 weeks and 4 days pregnant. His estimated weight, at time of picture taking?

7 LBS 12 OZ.

With over three weeks to go until my supposed due date, he weighs 7 lbs and 12 oz. And he's been trying to punch and kick his way out for days now. No wonder my body has started advanced labor training already: I just might be facing childbirth on a par with the Battle of Thermopylae, where my nether regions are the pass at Thermopylae and this child is the Persians.

Whether I end up like Leonidas remains to be seen. At this point, I'm already conquered, so it doesn't really matter, does it? Take the pass, my fetal Xerxes, and just try not to break anything, please.


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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mommy Dearest

My child hates me.

Okay, maybe she doesn't hate me, but I am certainly not her Most Favorite Person Ever. That title goes to HBF, aka Daddy, who can do no wrong. (Last night, at bedtime: "I love Daddy" "Of course you do, sweetie. Do you love Mommy?" "Nope. I love Daddy. And medicine." Don't ask.)

Me, on the other hand - I'm persona non grata. On a good day, she tolerates my presence with a polite firmness that makes perfectly clear that she has boundaries and that I am to respect them (NO, Mommy, just me and Daddy gonna play outside. NOT YOU. THANK YOU.) On a bad day, she wants me as far away as possible, and tells me so in the fiercest of terms. (GO AWAY MOMMY. GO. A. WAAAAAY!) Sometimes, she pushes at me with her little fists and furrows her wee face into a scowl and issues her command that I retreat in a terrible little voice that is somehow at once deep-throated and high-pitched. More than once, she's thwacked me with her Toadstool (aka Phallic Lovey), as punctuation to her commands. More than once, she's thrown her entire little being into the effort of getting me away from her now. More than once, she's growled and scowled and faced me like an enemy.




And, you know, even though I know that toddlers go through these phases, and even though I know that her behavior is probably even more understandable now that I'm in the late stages of a pregnancy that has taken me away from her - in spirit if not in body - far more often than has been tolerable for me, even though I know that of course she still loves me, even though I know all of this, it hurts, and the pain of it cuts deep. She scowls at me and tells me to go, go, go away don't stay here go away I don't want you here BECUZ and throws her wee body against my legs in an effort to just get me away and it's like a million tiny knives cutting through my skin and into my bones and it takes every ounce of emotional energy that I have left to not burst into tears right in front of her.

Do you want to give Mommy a kiss?


Do you want to give Mommy a hug?


Can Mommy sit down next to you?


She's not like this all of the time, of course. She's been quite happy to go out for coffee with Mommy on occasion and go to the bakery with Mommy and go buy treats with Mommy (which, you getting the picture here? If Mommy shoves cookies or candy or mock lattes in her pockets, Wonderbaby is quite happy to have Mommy nearby. Otherwise, not so much). But these remain exceptions to the general rule, which is Mommy go away. And that breaks my heart.

It breaks my heart because now, more than ever, I want to just snuggle up with her and really revel in these last days of exclusive togetherness. I want her to be Mommy's girl for just a little while, so that when her baby brother comes (she now pats my tummy and refers to him by name, loving him, it seems, a lot more enthusiastically than she loves me) all I'll need to do is grab her hand and whisper Mommy's girl and she'll know that ours is a special love and that we'll always, always have it, just between us. But she doesn't want that right now. She wants her dad. And she wants Mommy - slow, belabored, distracted Mommy - out of her face.

And that hurts. It really, really, hurts.

I almost didn't write about this - because, in part, I've been something of a cranky-assed downer of late, and am getting sick of my own bitching, but more so because I feared hearing anything, from anyone, that might suggest that this is not normal, that I must be doing something wrong, something to make her justifiably angry with me, something to make her want to keep her distance. Something beyond just being pregnant and distracted (which, if it is the pregnancy? Is bad enough, because whither our mother-daughter relationship when the baby comes, and I'm even more distracted?) Something wrong with me, something bad about me, her bad mother. And I just didn't think that I was up for hearing that, even as the gentlest suggestion.

But if it is me, I need to hear it, because I need to change it. And if it's not me - if lots of children go through this - then I need to hear that even more. Because I need some peace.

Mommy fought the Law but the Law won.

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Fear And Loving In The Mother 'Hood

I don't know about you, but I've never in my life felt more more fearful, more anxious, less brave, than I have as a mother. From the moment that the lines on that stick turned pink the first time around, I've been afraid. My pregnancy with Wonderbaby, Wonderbaby's birth, Wonderbaby's life thus far, the second set of lines on the second stick... I have lived and continue to live through these with the sharpest sense of fear, of awareness that there is so much to lose now, of myself, of all that I love, of all that I live for. I carry my heart around outside my body now - soon I will carry its beating, bloody weight times two - and because of that I am vulnerable in ways that I never thought possible. Because of that, I am afraid.

I do not mind this fear.

Not so much, anyway. Because the trade-off - for love, for love, for love and for so much heart-bursting, belly-aching joy, more than seems possible or even bearable - is worth it. But it's hard to explain, this schizophrenic state of mind and heart and soul wherein the greatest of all loves and joys is accompanied, always, by the deepest of all fears. Wherein the greatest confidence is coupled with the deepest anxiety; the greatest pride, coupled with the deepest humility; the greatest bravado and ambition, coupled with the deepest insecurity. A condition of ongoing paradox - of heroic paradox, but paradox nonetheless - which is, as I said, so difficult to explain.

But Rebecca explains it. Rebecca, who most of you know as Girl's Gone Child (and who I know as much-beloved, much-admired, oh-so-proud-to-call-her-friend FRIEND) (that was a disclaimer, by the way, to let anyone who reads this know that yes, I am entirely biased when it comes to Rebecca Woolf, but that that bias is based not only upon my deep affection for and shrieking fangirl devotion to her, but also upon my critical esteem for her as a writer) (where was I? oh, right...) Rebecca explains this paradox beautifully, perfectly in her book Rockabye, in the most beautiful narrative prose that traces her journey from unexpectedly pregnant wild child to wild child with child with heart-scraping honesty. Heart-scraping honesty that lays bare the kind of deep-seeded fear and anxiety that accompanies nearly every moment of pregnancy and motherhood while making perfectly clear the fierce hope and love that accompanies that fear. Heart-scraping honesty that allows for a vivid and visceral expression of the exhilaration of motherhood, of the feeling - both terrifying and thrilling - of being flung into the abyss with no bungee cord, only the hope of soft landing, or flight.

I can't do it justice, of course. She writes the experience of exhilarated fear and fearsomely fierce love and hope ("There's no such thing as messing up if you go with your heart") through the story of her own unexpected pregnancy and unexpected motherhood and all the unexpected moments in between and beyond. It's what's called momoir, I suppose, but it's so much more than that. It's more like Fear and Loving In Los Angeles: A Savage Journey To The Heart Of The Maternal Dream, which is to say, it's more like a great wave-speech ode to motherhood, a beat-epic-meets-gonzo-storytelling-meets-The-Confessions-subverted, all wrapped in love and hope. Which is probably the only medium though which such a story, the true fear-and-love-addled story, of motherhood can effectively be told.

And I admire her telling of it so much that there's no space in my heart for the even slightest smidge of envy - which there should be - because if anything, her work here is just the best possible evidence that this kind of storytelling - our kind of storytelling - is amazing and heroic and that the world needs so much more of it.

XOXO Becs. Thank you for this.

Fear is just a four-letter word for BRING IT ON.

(You can find more reviews here this week, and you can purchase her book - which, really, you must, and you know that I would never, ever say that in this space if it weren't 110% TRUE - here. You can also read the first chapter here, at Smith Mag. Which, you totally should. Then buy it.)

(I'm really sorry that I keep closing comments. I'm just super emotionally and physically exhausted and kinda not up for dialogue. Which isn't fair to you guys, I know, but it just is. I just want to close my computer and sleep more.) (You could always go visit Rebecca's blog and talk about turning fear into awesome writing there. Or, again - shameless charity plug - check out the muscular dystrophy links that I included in my last post. Every little bit helps, yanno?

I'll be back to my happy chatty self soon, I promise. xo)

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