Monday, May 28, 2007

Having Grace

Another page from my book.


Cynthia was back. I was in the office, mostly surfing the net and drinking coffee, when word spread that she was back. Constance came hurrying in the room, hauling her paperwork back in.
“She’s back from France. She could be here any minute,” she said frantically, trying to organize herself. Constance was always wearing a calf length black skirt. And the funny thing was that it didn’t matter if it was middle of winter or middle of summer. Always the same skirt. Some of them had a bit of a pattern on them. Some were just black. There were rumors in the office that she was a Mennonite. Nobody knew for sure though. It was hard to say because she was living with Diel, though they weren’t married. It seemed a very unmennonite thing to do, the whole issue of interracial dating aside, which also seemed very unmennonitish.
My other two office mates, Sheila and Nancy, begin quickly shuffling papers on their desks, madly stuffing documents in drawers. I could hear Nancy muttering expletives under her breath. Sheila, a petite woman who very much keeps to herself, made the sign of the cross. I wasn’t sure if it was because of the expletives or because of Cynthia’s impending arrival.
I exited out of my hotmail account and begin pulling up spreadsheets. They were of last quarter, but it didn’t matter.
And then we sat there, poised and ready. But she didn’t come. Not for another hour. We were all sitting there, so tense and anxious. Looking furtively at each other while trying to appear immersed in our work.
Suddenly, we head the clacking of her heels in the hallway. We all picked up our pace. She came into the office and stopped short as she approached my desk.
“Kristina, a word please,” she said, her eyes locked on the Starbucks coffee in my hand. I stood up and followed her out of the office. The others gave me a forced smile, but I could see the fear and the pity in their eyes.

Once in her office she lit up.
“I thought we had an understanding,” she said, closing her eyes as she inhaled.
“An understanding?”
“Why must I always repeat myself? An understanding,” she said, drawing the word out as if she were talking to a child. “You were supposed to be on bed rest.”
“Well, the doctor never mentioned…” I began hopelessly.
“You don’t take your orders from the doctor. You take them from me,” she said, closing her eyes again and rubbing her temples, as though the mere act of looking at me were taxing.
“I did stay on bed rest for a week or so. But then I just couldn’t handle it anymore. I had to get out. And it’s not like my job here is so physical. I’m still sitting all day. Think of it as… chair rest,” I offered with a terse smile.
“Chair rest? What is that, a joke? And what’s worse, I find you drinking coffee!” she said, her voice breaking. She spat out the word coffee as though it were Wild Turkey.
“Oh, well, I… didn’t think. We don’t know yet if… if the procedure was successful, so I didn’t see the harm in it.”
“Didn’t see the harm in it,” she said with a wry laugh. “You may work the rest of the week. I will allow that. But if I see you drinking coffee again, Kristina, I will reconsider the compensation you’re receiving.”
“Fine,” I respond. Fine. I guess I can live without coffee for forty weeks.
Forty weeks. That’s actually a long time. Almost a full year. God help me.
God help us all.
She stares at me, annoyed. “And you’re still standing here because…”
“Oh.” I said, standing up. I didn’t realize I had been dismissed. Stupid me.
“Just one more thing,” I begin. “Uh, about the blastocytes. There are four of them? Because I thought that we agreed on one,” I ask feebly.
“Must I explain everything to you?” she asked, butting out her slim rather aggressively. “We are simply implanting four with the hopes that one of them will implant. If they all implant, we will discuss reducing the pregnancy to a more reasonable number. But we’ll cross that bridge when we get there. All right? Did you catch that or do I need to repeat myself? Perhaps I should write it down.” Her voice was sugary and angry at the same time. She sounded like a kindergarten teacher strung out on coke.
Not that I’d ever had one. At least not to the best of my knowledge
“No. No you don’t need to repeat yourself. That’s fine,” I say, walking out of the room. An odd feeling spread through me. I can’t quite say what it is. Maybe fear or regret or despair, or a combination of all three. It was like cold gravy congealing at the bottom of my stomach. That’s the best way to describe it, though I know it’s a weird metaphor. Because I actually like gravy. But that’s beside the point.

My pet peeve

Today I was totally annoyed. It was only 8:44 am, and yet... my day was already ruined. I will thank C95 for that. Or should I call it C90-crap. I drove Payton to daycare, Gage to school and was nearly at work when I was yet to hear a song. It's not that I don't enjoy Rambling Dave's enlightening banter on bacon. Or not that I don't enjoy Lisa Rendall talk about LA Weight Loss (she's lost 23 pounds, you know. Hooray for you, but guess what?? Newsflash. Not too hard to drop a few pounds when you have CANCER!!!). But I mean, come on. Please. I just want to hear some freaking music on my way to work. And to make matters worse, as soon as I pull up to work they say "Up next- Paralyzer by Finger 11'-- which only happens to be my fave song. I was like 'thanks for playing it now, assholes'. It would have been better five minutes ago when I was actually in my vehicle. I am getting fed up with that radio station. And the truly terrible thing is that there seems to be no alternative. I swear to you that EVERY time I switch it to Rock 102 it's Trooper "Boy's in the big white sports car". And every time I tune in to "MAGIC" (Magic??) 93 it's Hewey Lewis and the News. I mean, can we not have some selection here??? Why must it all be crap????
Other than that not much news with me. Let me see. Yesterday I went to Wal Mart. Here is a list of items that I purchased:
-Panties for Payton (Winnie the Pooh)
-Vitamin E cream (I will thank my dog for eating all the stuff that I got at PicMan.)
-A neck massage thing
-Dora chapstick for Payton
-Hair dye for me
-A mermaid ball (also for Payton)
And I think that's about it. If I remember something else I will add it later. The mermaid ball is working out nice. Payton is enjoying it. So, I guess that's about it for me. Have a nice evening.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Here it is without further ado...

This is it... my tatoo. The color is perhaps still a little off- or maybe my screen is just dirty. Not sure. Anyways, I think it turned out OK.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Breaking Story

Today was an interesting day for me. I went for my consultation at PicMan. Now I know that many of you (two of you, in reality) suggested that I should go somewhere else, but I decided that I really don't care because the tatoo that I want is fairly simple and easy to draw, and also it doesn't matter to me so much exactly what it looks like but it's more the idea that it represents. So anyways. I was at a conference at the Bes., and I though on my way home, I thought, I should go to PicMan since I'm right down here anyways. So I went. At first I felt a little ill at ease, because the area is a bit scary. The KG is next door and it's in a bad state of disrepair, grafiti all over the walls. And I was like what am I doing? A professional woman- here at some run down place like this. I thought to myself that the average observer must have thought that I was a tax auditor or something as I went into the building, for most of their clientele seemed quite different. Everyone in the waiting room had several tats and body piercings. And they were also dressed quite a bit more casually than I was, having just come from a conference. But right when I went into the building I could see that it looked quite a bit better on the inside than it did on the outside. It was clean and bright and the staff was friendly. At first they didn't totally get my concept of footprints, but then one of the artists (Poky) drew me up a picture. It wasn't exactly what I was thinking because I had wanted three sets of tiny footprints, but they can't really go as small as I wanted, because the colors would all just blur together and it would't really look like anything at all. So they had to make them at least an inch big each, which would look stupid if I had all these footprints up my whole leg. So what we decided was three footprints, instead of three sets. And then they say "when do you want to get this done" and I said 'when's the next appointment?" thinking it would be a matter of weeks or maybe even months. But imagine my surprise when they said 'twenty minutes. I just need to go and have a quick smoke before we get started." I was like "really, that soon? Are you serious?" And they were serious let me tell you. So there I was, suddenly filling out forms and signing waivers. It was crazy.
And then it was time. I was crazy nervous when I sat down. My heart was hammering. But I wanted to get it over and done with right then and there. It was a bit painful at times, but I just focused on the conversation I was having with the artist, who was super nice. And it only took twenty minutes, which was good because I'm not too sure how much more I could have handled. It's a weird feeling. Poky said when he was trying to tell me what to expect that 'its a feeling like you've never felt before' and he was quite right about that. The best I can explain it, it was like when you're playing with your cat and then the cat gets carried away and scratches you a little too hard. But it was a really good feeling going out. All of the staff, who are big burly guys with a bazillion tats, were all high fiving me, saying "Welcome to the club, Randine'. So already the memory of pain is fading and I am remembering it as a fun experience.
I won't post a picture now because it doesn't look that great- there's a bit of bleeding and that. But it should be healed within 4-7 days and then I'll post a picture.
As for my husband, he was quite surprised. I had mentioned to him before that I wanted to get a tatoo, but I don't think that he really realized that I was actually serious. So imagine his surprise when I left this morning to go to a conference on Health Quality Council and came home with a tat. But I think he does like it. I suggested that maybe he should get one, but I don't think he's going to go for it.
Well that is it for now. Have a good weekend. I will post picture of tat later. TTFN.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Misadventures in Movie Going

So as some of you may know, today was the premier of Shrek the Third. So naturally, seven o'clock found me waiting in an absurdly long line to pay an absurd amount of money to see a cartoon. And I could blame it on the kids, say that they nagged me and nagged me until I finally agreed to take them, but, truthfully, I have actually been waiting for this day myself. But the movie premier was one crappy experience after another.
I'm not saying that the movie was bad. Because, in fact, I didn't see the movie. I paid to see it, but that was about it. I made sure to get there a half hour early, because I knew it would be a zoo. So the first line up was the parking lot. You had to wait in line outside to take a ticket stub. So that took about fifteen minutes of standing outside in the cold with a two year old on my hip who was rather insistent that she wanted popcorn, which she knew was not forthcoming. Finally, we got our stupid ticket stub and proceeded inside. But then it was chaos. My kids took off and I was left standing in a ridiculous line up. It took about fifteen minutes to get to the front of the queue, and when I got to the front I was informed that the 7 & 7:15 were completely sold out. But there was some space in the 6:45, which had just started. So I said whatever, I'll just go to the 6:45. But then came the third line up. There was a huge lineup to get your ticket ripped. So I waited there for about five minutes. Finally we got into the theater. The only seats left were right smack dab front and center. And by front I mean front. We were in the very front row, our necks craned at an impossible angle to see the screen. So I said I would go get popcorn, because my two year old was still rather insisted that we needed it. I waited in line for about twenty minutes and had moved about a milimiter. The line in front of me was probably about fifteen feet. So I said screw it, I'll come back later. So I went back to the theater. Payton was insistent that she needed to go potty, so we went potty, which took a good fifteen minutes because she must wash her hands very thoroughly with the taps and the soap and the dryers, etc. So then we went back to the popcorn line. Waited about half an hour. Went back to the movie. Caught the last twenty minutes or so. The highlight was when Payton spilled ice cold pop all over my leg and crotch. As soon as the credits rolled we bolted from the place, my sweater tied around my waist like some 80's tennis club wannabe. And then, as if it couldn't get any better- a parking ticket on my windshield. Apparently, you have to have your stub prominently displayed on your windshield at all times. So I've spent $40 already. Owe $35 for the parking ticket. Saw about twenty minutes of movie. According to my calculations that's about three dollars and seventy five cents a minute. Next time there's a movie I want to see, I think I'll wait until it comes out on DVD.
That is about all I wanted to report. The only other thing is that last night I went to Superstore to get dog kibble, and there were two noteworthy occurences. The first is that they got new bags, which are really nice kind of purply with green and really sharp for spring. Too bad that they're going to pollute our landfills and take years to biodegrade and will, ultimately, likely ending up killing us all, but that didn't stop me from getting a few. The other thing was that the guy in front of me was wearing a shirt that said "SMELL MY BAG". I mean what is the world coming to when THAT is fashion??? I mean, I just couldn't believe it. Can you?? I had a good mind to report him to the store manager and have him removed for public indecency, but I guess these days anything goes. First it was pajama bottoms and now its this. Gone are the good old days of Chip and Hammer or whatever those shirts were called.
Well, that is it for now. Have a happy long weekend!!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Defending Frizza

I am writing this as a rebuttal to one miss Jody C, who has made some rather inappropriate comments regarding my choice in serving frozen pizza (which shall be hereby abbreviated to 'frizza' for the purposes of efficiency) to my fellow co workers (if you don't know what I'm referring to- check out the post 'Misadventures in Cooking' and subsequent comments). First of all, I would like to begin by saying that the idea of the lunch on Wed. is to be an informal gathering over a simple meal. Nobody goes to any great lengths, and generally the meals are very basic. People throw together any items that they have on hand, and as such, we have had some rather strange things. I have been introduced to moose stew on one occasion. My one coworker once made ham stew, which was a bit different, but edible nonetheless. The low point was 'fruit soup' which was, sadly, as it sounds... fruit salad heated up and served with some wierd spices. So frizza is acceptable in light of this tradition of preparing easy and economical meals. And secondly, I would like to say that if your only purpose in reading this blog is to be critical of my actions, then I would kindly ask you to find yourself another blog to read, or better yet, write your own freaking blog and I'll just go on there and heckle you. Here is a link to another blog that you may try, though you will have to ask the author for permission to go on it. But bear in mind that the content borders on soft porn. Sheesh. I haven't seen nipples like that since 'The 69th Sense' (which by the way, is NOT a very good show and is NOT the sequel to 'The 6th Sense'- no matter what your husband may try to tell you.) Kidding Lo. Take a pill. I love your belly cast- it is truly a wonderful keepsake.
So that is that. The other thing which I'm wanting to blogcast is that I'm 'sleeping single in a double bed' (To quote one Mr. Jamie Kennedy- a pure comic genius). My husband is out of town so I'm all alone. I'm thinking about starting an affair, but time is running short. He will be home early tomorrow, so I guess I'd better get going. I'm just not that sure about how to embark on an affair. I will say that my husband definately deserves any affair that I may or may not have within the next ten hours. Why does he deserve it?? Because let's recount mothers day. Oh, wait, Mothers Day?? Back up the bus here. Has that come and gone already?? Hmmm. Didn't know that because he didn't get me anything. Which is whatever, fine, I guess. But the thing is, is that even if you didn't have time to get a gift or whatever, then the least you could do would be to try to do something nice for me- even a little thing like give me a massage or make me an omelette for brunch, or even simply state the fact that you appreciate me. But apparently this did not cross his stupid mind, either. Anyhoo. we ended up getting into a big row on Sunday night. And I thought I would punish him by sleeping on the couch. But here's a newsflash for you: sleeping on the couch is no punishment to anyone but your OWN SORRY SELF. God. I had dogs jumping all over me. Stupid leather couch so I was stuck to it. And all the while- he's snoring his freaking head off and sprawled out in the bed. But he ended up buying me flowers on Monday, which was OK I guess but I don't see why I have to throw a CF (Caniption Fit for those not in the know) in order to get a freaking rose. Is it really too much to ask??? Don't get me started...
Anyways, that last line was from SNL on Sat. which Molly Shannon hosted which was hilarious. So... I've got to go now...I have thirteen baby kittens.... and I'm going to France next month for three weeks... so that's probably a lot longer than you'll ever be I'm probably a lot wealthier than you and have way more kittens, I guess that's all for now. (Just picture me twirling my hair),
And just in case you didn't know that last bit was also from SNL.
Anyways, that's all for tonight. Peace out.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Having Grace

Here is more of my book, which I hope to write more of tonight!!!!

Monday found me back in the office. There was only so much Jeopardy a person can watch. I began to question my sanity when I started to pride myself on knowing obscure trivia such as Hungarian folk hymnals. I knew that Cynthia had wanted me ‘laying low’ for two weeks, but I simply couldn’t take it any more. And I figured, with her being out the country it didn’t really much matter one way or the other.
Constance looked stricken when I walk into the office. “Oh, my God. You’re back? Already? Are you sure that’s wise?”
I gave her a queer look as I turned on my computer. “I’m feeling fine.”
“Yeah, but, are you sure you’re not contagious anymore?”
“Contagious?” I asked, perplexed.
“Yeah. Cynthia said you had the Avian Flu. That’s bad isn’t it?” she asked, looking distinctly uncomfortable being in the same room with me. She backed slowly towards the door, as though she might make a run for it.
“I do not have the Avian Flu. They just thought that I might, you know how people get paranoid about these things. Turned out it was just the regular flu,” I replied, thinking on the spot. Why, of all things, would she say that I had the Avian Flu? Couldn’t she have come up with something a little more ordinary?
She still looked skeptical.
“I don’t know. You look a little flushed.”
Flushed? I ran to the bathroom, staring at myself in the mirror. Crap. I do look flushed, I thought. There was an uncharacteristic redness in the apples of my usually pale cheeks. I splashed my face with water, but it was still there. Maybe even a tad bit worse. I sat down on the toilet. I tried to tell myself to be calm. The whole bit about pregnant people ‘glowing’ was probably just an old wives tale. In fact, when I thought about it, my sister Erin was downright pale throughout her pregnancy. Everything is OK.
I realized then that I was actually really nervous. Nervous that I would be pregnant. Nervous that I wouldn’t be. I didn’t know what to hope for. But it was too late for second thoughts. Collecting myself, I walked out of the bathroom and went back into my office.
Constance regarded me warily. “Are you OK?” she asked tentatively.
“Oh, ya. Fine,” I said absently.
She gathered her things up from her desk. “I think I’m going to work out of the staff room today,” she said, a little apologetically. “Nothing against you or anything. It’s just that Diel’s on immunosuppressants right now, so it would be a really bad time for me to come down with anything.”
“Oh, OK,” I replied, realizing that she had misinterpreted my mad dash for the bathroom. She made a quick exit, flashing me a weak smile.
Good riddance, I thought.
And don’t forget your curry.

Final Mark Up- Contest Entry

I have made a few changes to the article. I think it is ready... let me know. It comes in at 3,900 words. 4,000 is the max, so it is just under the wire.

Fire & Ashes

Today is an important day in my life. A big, red X on the calendar marks it as such. It’s my due date, the day our third child was supposed to join our family. But nothing monumental transpires. A typical day rises and falls in a very ordinary fashion. I wake up, go to work, come home, eat supper, clean the kitchen, bath the kids and tuck them in. As night descends, I lie awake in bed, filled with a sense of longing and sadness. For though today is my due date, one crucial fact remains: I’m not pregnant. I reflect back to the dawning of a summer morning just eight months before. A sleepless night had passed, the question of whether or not I was pregnant weighing heavy on my mind. It seemed too good to be true. After all, we had only started trying a mere month before. But, a home test the previous evening had suggested the faintest impression of a positive result. So I woke early, intent on testing my morning urine, hoping for a stronger indication. Anxiously, I repeated the test, and this time it was clearly positive. When I emerged from the bathroom, I was filled with a sense of wonder and excitement. We were having another baby. The world was full of hope and possibility. I was naively unaware of the way my life was about to be profoundly and forever changed, not once, but twice.
Without warning, the pregnancy ended at seventeen weeks. Up to that point, things had been progressing normally, with no indication of impending disaster. No spotting. No cramping. Nothing. Okay, maybe in retrospect there was some warning. Suddenly I wasn’t nauseated anymore, a fact which I was elated about. And I had so much more energy. My pregnancy had taken a sudden turn for the better. Or so I had thought.
At the time I didn’t question the loss of the symptoms. At seventeen weeks, it seemed reasonable at that time that those symptoms would disappear.
So there was no obvious warning. I don’t know why that matters so much. If I had had warning, would I be happier now? I doubt it. I somehow don’t picture myself sitting here saying ‘oh, well, at least we had warning, I guess we can’t complain.’ I can’t figure out exactly how it matters that we had no warning, but yet, somehow, for some reason beyond my comprehension: it does.
It was just at a regular prenatal check. I remember sitting in the waiting room, flippantly reading this cheesy romancy novel. My mood was light, like the book I skimmed, and I waited patiently for my name to be called, not anxious or fearful in the least. After all, there was nothing to be fearful of. Just a routine check. Weight, blood pressure, and a quick listen to the baby’s heart.
But a quick listen to the baby’s heart took a lot longer than it should. For the first ten or twenty seconds I was not alarmed when the doctor struggled to find the rhythmic lub dub, a simple sound that conveyed so much. But as the seconds ticked by, a growing dread mounted. The doctor repositioned the Doppler several times, each time turning up nothing but the sound of my own heart beating and a bunch of static. After a few minutes, the doctor turned the Doppler off. She stated the obvious, that she was having a hard time finding the heart beat. But obvious though it was, hearing the words spoken out loud changed everything. It brought the gravity of the issue into startling focus. And though I tried to tell myself that these things happen, that fetal heart rates can be hard to find and it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, I couldn’t help but recall my previous appointment, where the heart beat was instantly audible. Within minutes, I was in another waiting room, more than slightly shaken. It wasn’t so much a room as a small antechamber with three folding chairs lined in a row. Two other people sat, awaiting ultrasound. They glanced surreptitiously at me now and then but said nothing. A part of me couldn’t wait for my name to be called. I needed to know. Another part of me wanted to give up my turn to someone else when my name was called. I didn’t want to know. My stomach flip flopped with my mind. I felt sick, I felt okay. My name was called. I found myself standing up and being led to a small exam room. It took but a moment for the ultrasound to simultaneously confirm my worst fears and obliterate my highest hopes. The baby was dead. I cried and cried. None of it seemed real. This couldn’t be happening.
After all, we’d had no warning.
They had to induce me into labor. It was a weird feeling, being in labor at seventeen weeks. I could feel my stomach hardening. I would put my hand on my stomach and feel my tiny baby. And I always felt this urge to try to protect this baby, this perfect person whom I had loved from the beginning. From the very moment that I saw the pink line begin to form across the home pregnancy test. I didn’t want my body to expel it, though I knew intellectually that it was dead no matter what. Dead if I expelled it, dead if I defied my body and kept it tucked away inside me. Anyways, it was a feeling I can’t quite explain. I wanted it to be over. I didn’t want it to be over. I just wanted to be back in that waiting room. Reading that dumb book, innocently unaware of everything that lay ahead.
It took a long time. Throughout the night the pains would come. I would wake up, shift around, fall back asleep. I didn’t try to time the contractions. It wasn’t a happy labor, like in the movies when the wife wakes up and nudges her husband “I think it’s time”. It wasn’t like that at all. I think I wanted to ignore the fact that I was having contractions. I just wanted to be asleep, adrift in some alternate reality where none of these things were really happening to me.
In the morning I woke up to go the bathroom, which brought with it a certain amount of dread. The nurse had put a hat in the toilet the night before “just in case”. The silent implication of that stared at me every time I went into the bathroom. But I told myself there was nothing I could do. It was going to be traumatic. Whether it happened in the hospital bed or in the toilet, the baby would come one way or another.
I went to the bathroom rather uneventfully, though I did notice some blood in the hat, which hadn’t happened before. I stood up to go back to bed. Water trickled out and formed a little pool on the bathroom floor. My water had broken. I shuffled back into bed, startled and scared. I woke up and told my husband, Geoff.
“That’s a relief,” he said.
“A relief?”
“Well, finally, things are starting to happen.”
We had been in the hospital now for about sixteen hours. I understood what he meant, but certainly I did not share in his relief. I sensed that things were about to get intense. Was I prepared for what lied ahead? Could one ever be prepared?
We had talked last night, Geoff and I. It would have been almost cozy, had the circumstances been different. His small cot was pulled up against my hospital bed, and together we lay, whispering to each other by the low light of the hospital hallways. I decided that I wanted to see the baby afterwards. Geoff decided emphatically that he didn’t. We respected each others choice. For Geoff it was like the less he knew about the baby the better. But I wanted to know everything that could be known. But now I was second guessing myself. Did I really want to see? And would I really be able to face it alone?
The pains got steadily worse. A resident examined me. Snapping her gloves off, which I couldn’t help but notice, were now heavily soiled with blood, she said that I was sufficiently dilated to deliver the baby, but the baby was still really high up. As soon as it came down a bit, it would be over with. In the meantime they offered me morphine. I waited for them to hook up the IV and the tears streamed down my face. I was crying because of the pain, first and foremost, but also because of the sadness. I was delivering my baby. What I had anticipated as such a happy moment in my life was near at hand. Except it wasn’t happy. I would leave the hospital with empty arms and a flat stomach.
It happened fast after that. The baby came quickly and quietly. Indeed, at the time I wasn’t even aware of it happening. A doctor came in to examine me again, a different doctor this time. I felt a kind of gush as he removed his hand. He informed me that the baby was passed. And with that it was over.
Later on, the nurse brought the baby to me. Though I was scared for this moment, I knew that I needed to say goodbye. And to know everything that I could know about the child that I had carried. The child that I had lost, who had once surely moved within me, little hands clenching and unclenching, little legs kicking. Perhaps he once sucked his thumb, lulled to sleep by the steady rhythm of my own heart beat. He was brought to me in a little wicker basket, which had been made up with yellow blankets. His whole body fit into a bootie, and only the little face peered out. What I can mostly remember was how he had his one hand curled into a fist and tucked neatly under the little chin. I remember him that way. Little fingers the size of spaghetti strands. And it gives me a good feeling. He didn’t look cute, objectively speaking. In fact he was down right alien looking. But he was posed in a cute way. And that is what my mind has chosen to remember. That tiny ball of a fist.
The decision to try again was a simple one. I had inside me an intense and almost primal urge to carry another child. My husband was a bit more reticent, in light of the physical and emotional blow we were still recovering from. But I was insistent that what had happened was a freak thing, and that certainly we would not have the misfortune of experiencing anything like that again. For me, the thought of seeing another positive pregnancy test was like the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. My healing from the loss of one pregnancy seemed contingent upon embarking on another. The time that elapsed between pregnancies was a blur of marking my cycle, counting days until I was fertile, and endless pregnancy tests. It took three months, but alas, finally, a positive result. I was elated. I wasn’t nervous in the least about the fate of the baby, as I held such a strong conviction that life could not be so cruel as to take from me once again the one thing that I wanted the most in the world.
But I was wrong.
Flash forward three weeks later and I find myself poised at the pharmacy counter, slightly nervous at the prospect of buying Tylenol #1’s. I made a concerted effort to keep my eyes on the level. Avoiding eye contact could make me seem suspicious. The urge to spew forth an explanation was almost overwhelming. I practiced it in my mind’s eye. “I don’t normally take these things. But I’m having a miscarriage and I’m worried about the pain, so that’s why I need them. I’m not a crazed drug addict or anything like that. You could call my doctor, name’s Shanna and I now know the phone number off by heart. It’s all legit. Too legit to quit, in fact.” Okay, so that last bit was unnecessary, I reprimanded myself inwardly. But she nary batted an eye as she handed over the bottle of 50 codeine pills. Feeling triumphant, I left the store, intent on beginning my next, and perhaps less exciting mission.
Necessity does the work of courage, or so I had once heard. And I do believe this to be fundamentally true. We do what we have to do when we have to do it, simply because we have to do it, not because we are noble or great or otherwise of above average virtue. Even at the tender age of six, my younger brother alluded to this, commenting “sometimes a mans got to do what a mans got to do’ when facing the rather grim task of removing our dead rabbit from its’ hutch, its’ cold and lifeless body solid from rigor.
And sometimes a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do, I thought sardonically, brining myself forward to the present.
I’m not sure what was more daunting: the fact that I had to insert the medication my doctor had given me into my vagina “as far up as they will go”, or the knowledge that once in there they will set to work immediately at forcing the contents of my uterus out. And though neither notion particularly appealed to me, I nonetheless found myself inserting the tabs with the same detachment and aloofness one might expect when applying bug repellent or taking a cold pill, simply because I had to do it. And then, all that was left was do was wait.
It had already been a full week of waiting, so I was intimately familiar with the concept. I had my first ultrasound ten days previously. It was intended only to reassure me, because of what happened last time. But reassuring it was not.
Immediately it seemed that there was a problem. The radiologist pointed out the gestational sac, and even my untrained eye could see that it was lacking a rather crucial element- the embryo. But that was that. The radiologist suggested another scan in a week or so to see if anything would grow, which he said was possible because at such an early stage things could change drastically even from one day to the next.
The next five days passed too slowly. Part of the time I was optimistic. But most of the time I was inclined to think the worst. It just didn’t seem possible that I could be losing another pregnancy. And yet, it was difficult to convince myself otherwise. The day of the scan arrived. I prepared myself for the worst, but had a brief moment of elation when there was a little squiggle of a person visible in the sac. The unthinkable had happened. The baby had begun to form. But in the radiologists’ next breath, my hope was stolen back. He didn’t like the look of the heart beat. He zoomed in and it became clear that the heart was beating, only very slowly. Too slowly, in fact. The heart rate was 85. It should have been 120-160. It was not a good sign. The uncertainty that I had been living with had made a rather unwelcome comeback.
It didn’t take too long to learn from the internet that a fetal heart rate of less than ninety on a six to eight week scan is a dire finding, usually resulting in imminent fetal demise. Though no one had straight out given me any odds, I estimated them to be at less than ten percent. But, even as bleak as that was, I refused to give up hope. Even any chance was better than no chance, after all. I had my blood taken every 48 hours to check my hormone levels. If they were going up, that was a good sign. But if they started going down, it meant that the baby was gone. It was a long and difficult wait for the news to come, though in reality it only spanned three days. At one point, I was so desperate for an answer that I contemplated presenting in the ER with vague abdominal complaints so they would have to perform an ultrasound. What dissuaded me was the fact that vague abdominal complaints would, in all likelihood, only result in a seven to fifteen hour wait in any ER. At times I doubled up on my Materna, rationalizing to myself that this would make my baby stronger, though I knew this intellectually to be pure superstition. I told myself that all I wanted was an answer. Whichever way it went, I would deal with it. But the waiting was more agonizing than any bad news I might (hypothetically) receive. Or so I had once, (naively) believed.
“I’m afraid I don’t have good news for you,” began my doctor once the results were in. I felt as though I had somehow inadvertently walked onto the set of some twisted reality show. “Randine Sorowski, please join me at center stage. The results are in. Was your HCG in the top three or the bottom three?”, the host would say as harsh, purple light blind me before a rapt audience. Except that there was so much more at stake than a mere recording contract or monetary prize. This was life, delicate, precious life that hung in the balance. I cannot recall the exact substance of the conversation, because I felt rather than heard her words. They came at me like a physical assault. And though I knew that this was happening; knew that I had this date from that first, ill fated, ultrasound; it came as a horrible shock somehow still.
The following day found me in a busy OBGYN office downtown. If there’s anything worse than being in the throws of a miscarriage, it’s being in the throws of a miscarriage and sitting amidst a crowd of obscenely pregnant women. Everything that I had lost seemed to be staring me in the face as they patted their swollen bellies, too smugly, it seemed to me. Angrily, I swiped tears away, while erstwhile trying to appear immersed in Today’s Parent. I began to worry that my tearfulness and obviously unpregnant abdomen would peg me as an abortion seeker, which in a sense I was, though certainly not through my own choosing. This was the same office that I had sat in five months earlier. Sitting in that room again made my stomach swirl with familiar emotions, not forgotten but merely stowed away. It was like bad deja vu. Except it wasn’t deja vu. This was really happening.
That was the first time that I really felt a deep loss of personal control. We plan our lives to happen a certain way. Stop taking the pill, monitor your cycle, take the folic acid, controlling things every step of the way. But it was all an illusion. We control none of it. The fertilization of an egg is a chance occurrence. It’s very survival is a chance occurrence, despite our best laid plans. And in fact, aren't we all dying since the day that we're born? Or perhaps, more accurately, since before we're born? In a way, we are all just rabbits in the hutch, our destinies far beyond our own control, just waiting passively for our time expire. I felt that loss of control in a broad, cosmic sense, as well as in smaller, more minute, ways. Sit here, wait her, sign this, stand up, sit down, wear this gown, put your feet here, etc, etc. I was being prodded along like a beast of burden. These things were happening to my body, and I had absolutely no control over any of it. I was merely a silent witness to what was happening inside of me. That realization was both madly infuriating as well as deftly saddening.
It was at that appointment where I received the pills which were to cause the miscarriage to happen. But the pills did not work as they were supposed to. Every day that passed without bleeding, I felt strangely relieved, though I knew intellectually that the baby was not viable whether I bled a lot, and just as non viable if I bled none at all. They say that denial is the first stage of grieving, and perhaps it was all too easy to deny the loss when there were no outward signs of anything happening. I could almost convince myself for a second that ‘maybe the lab just made a mistake’, or ‘maybe the radiologist simply looked away and didn’t quite catch the heart beat.’ But in my heart of hearts, I did understand the finality of the situation. It was in being able to accept it that I struggled.
The following week, they performed a D&C to remove the ‘products of conception’ from my uterus. And though it was a difficult time for me, I could not help but feel a sense of relief that it was all over and done with. I have few reminders left of that pregnancy. One ultrasound picture, a hospital band and a single appointment card with the obstetrician. It is all the concrete proof I have that, indeed, I really was pregnant for a time.
And now here I sit, asking myself unanswerable questions at a time when I should be rejoicing in new life, but am instead grieving for it once again. I guess it is at this point where I’m supposed to conclude with something profound about what I have learned or how I have grown. And though I’m sure that these experiences have changed me as a person just as certainly as I know they’ve changed the course of my life, I’m at a loss as to how to accurately and concisely convey this on paper to you, my reader. Is my heart broken? Yes. But as Celine taught us, the heart does go on. The fire that I had within me to have another baby is now extinguished, the ashes merely smoldering. Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Or say they say at funerals. Except there will be no funeral to lay my broken dreams to rest. And yet, I know that the hope and potential that I sensed in the world eight months ago still exists. It is simply of a different nature now, rather than gone altogether. I see that hope and potential every day in the lives of the two children that we already have, and I draw pleasure out of the simple moments with them. The feel of my daughters’ small hand entwined in mine, or the adoring gaze I sometimes catch her giving her big brother. The sound of their laughter. Blowing bubbles in the sunlight. These small moments, these idle moments, are so stark in their simplicity and yet, so brilliant in their power to uplift. They are precious, delicate, though, as they are too easily taken for granted.
Life is precious.
And I guess, this is the lesson I have learned.
Now I need but to live it.

Misadventures in cooking

Many of you (translation: two of you) have been complaining about my lack of entry for the week. So I hope you have your reading goggles on because you are in for not a double, but a triple, feature. I shall first post some highlights of my week, and then post my final markup of the article I'm going to submit to Glamour, and THEN post a new entry from my book.
So the week was interesting. Acually, it wasn't interesting. It was just a typical week, really. Work, kids, etc. The only highlight was actually a low light, as it was a rather humiliating experience for me, but we're all friends here so what the heck. We take turns at work making lunch for each other on Wednesdays. So Wednesday was my turn to make lunch for my fellow coworkers. I was lazy so I just picked up some frozen pizzas, thinking this would be a simple solution. But things went awry. It ended up being a three ring circus which culminated in the arrival of the fire department. I put the pizzas in the oven, following the directions on the box, and then went back to work. When I returned to the kitchen about fifteen minutes later (per instructions) the room was full of smoke. I didn't know what to do. I went and grabbed one of my coworkers and she came to help me, but only too late. The smoke alarms started going off. So we got the situation under control by turning off the oven and fanning the place. I felt terrible, but my coworkers reassured me that it wasn't my fault- that the stove was dirty and that was what caused all the smoke. I was starting to feel a little better, but then all of a sudden firefighters swarm the place. The doctor laughed when he emerged from his office. He was like "Randines on lunch and the fire department was dispatched??" It was terrible. So I vowed that next time it was sandwiches for everyone. Never again will I cook in my place of employment.
Other than the arson attempt, the week was pretty swell. Geoff is working quite hard right now, so I have more or less been immersed into single parenthood, which is no picnic.
I have finished working on my article, and plan on submitting it this week. I'm excited, but the winner doesn't get picked until December. So that is all. Have a nice weekend and happy mothers day!!

Friday, May 4, 2007

News & Reviews

Review first, news later. I don't care what the title says, we do things MY way. The review is of the Rosthern High production of The Jungle Book, which took place last night in the Rosthern High gymnasium and was extremely well attended. Among the attendees: myself, my mother, my dear sister in law and loving aunt. The anticipation was high as we waited for the show to begin. Before the show we were treated to a five star meal at the Rosthern Esso. It was absolutely divine, but one must be relatively comfortable with the idea of eating in the middle of a gas station. It seemes as though things couldn't get any better, but alas they did. The show was really something and it left us all humming the tune "I want to walk like you- ou- ou" long into the evening. It was obvious that the play was the result of countless hours of work and rehearsal. Everything gleamed, from the hardwood floors that were polished to a high sheen to the spot on performances. We were left wanting more, more, MORE and are now crossing off the days on our calendars until next years play.

And now for the news. It has been a while since I've posted anything, so naturally there is quite a bit to report. First of all, I have been successfully reintegrated back into the work force as of Monday. It was a bit difficult to go back, and I still sometimes have terrible pangs of... something... when I do certain things, such as do prenatal check ups or weigh new baby's, etc. I guess its sadness or something like it. But then I just try to remind myself of the simple fact that I think I have this overly glorified fantasy of pregnancy. I forget about the vomiting, the profound fatigue, the hours of labor, the late nights, the lack of sleep, the sore nipples, the screaming fits, the bazillion diapers every day (but it's GOOD, Lorrie, SO GOOD). Not to mention the fact that any future pregnancies of mine would be riddled with anxiety and fear. So then I think 'so long, SUCKER' and go about my day. And perhaps jab the next person a little extra hard for their Depo shot, just because.

And the other news is that everything is OK "down there" once again and I am now officially 'back in business' as of Wednesday night, if you can catch my drift. Now, I don't know if it's true what they say- that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but what I can tell you is that it does make the sex hotter. Anyways, I will not continue in that vein (or is it vain??) but suffice it to say (a word of warning to my mom and aunty Gail- you may want to skip forward to the next paragraph at this point) that there was nothing "G" rated about it, though it was "G" something (wink wink, nudge, nudge). And I will leave you to reflect on that. And if you're still reading mom or Gail, don't say I didn't warn you and hopefully you will be able to burn that info from your mind sooner or later. I would recommend scotch on the rocks. It works in the movies.

Lastly, I guess I will mention that today is my "undue" date, as I call it. Work was a bit rocky at times, but now the day is done and is time for a little pampering, and when I say pampering what I mean is drinking. But I've got to give props to my fantastic SIL Flo and bro Trent and my 'rents for thier thoughtfulness in giving me a very indulgent gift of Papaya bubble bath, Tsatsuma body butter and Strawberry lip gloss. I'm going to smell great (Finally)!! And, I'd like to let ya'll know that I've seen the price tags at Body Shop and let me tell you, that stuff is worth more than a few dollars. Way more. So anyways, back to the 'undue' date. I was going to mark the date by going to Woodlawn (as Reid is there in some kind of a mass grave or something) or by going to the river or something with the kids to release balloons into the air, but my sheer laziness has gotten the better of me (and besides- I always find the graveyard such a buzzkill. Do they have to make them so damn gloomy?? I mean what is with all the headstone and epitath stuff?? It's downright freaking morbid. Would there be something wrong with clowns and circus animals??) So now I have a new plan, which I believe to be totally brilliant. I'm going to get a tatoo on my left ankle (because the heart is on the left, though it isn't in the ankle, precisely) of three little, tiny, baby footprints. Two blue and one pink- obviously it is a total guess as to their genders but I can do whatever I want, right? And that way, I'll have a memorial to my babies with me all the time and I won't have to bother with the depressing graveyard or blowing up balloons (my fingers always turn purple when I try to tie them, which is a bit of a buzzkill as well). So that will be good. And later on down the line I plan on getting two butterflies on my lower back for Gage and Payton- because they represent 'wings' or the fact that my babies are growing up and learning to fly. Sort of. Anyways, I already phoned PicMan, and I have to say that I felt totally uncool as I did so. I was all like "I'm wanting to inquire about the process of getting a tatoo" and the guy was just like 'yeah, come on in, we'll totally hook you up"- just real laid back like that. So I have to go first for a consultation because he doesn't totally grasp my concept of footprints. But whatever. It will turn out nice.
So that is that in Randinoland. This weekend is the annual Montgomery garage sales, which I plan on attending. Those people at the school better fire up the grill because look out, I'm hungry and I just got paid. Two thou in the bank can buy a LOT of burgers, baby. Also, I hope to go by PicMan at some point. So I shall let you know how that goes. Thanks for reading. Peace out.