I did not grow up with comic books or graphic novels – any pop culture, really. Those frivolities are of little notice when you’re sure the world is going to end by the time you’re 13. So, in the last … Continue reading
I will confess, I am pretty new to feminism. As early as 5 years ago, it was kind of a dirty word, associated in my mind with man-haters, child-abandoners, complete with that good ole Christianese label, the “Jezebel spirit.” (She … Continue reading
8 weeks ago, I wrote a story about the journey our baby was taking us on, and how we were praying that my body would survive being pregnant just 7 more weeks to give him the best chance. So many of you responded in love and prayers and genuine care.
I truly believe it worked because my body proceeded to need a total of 3 amniotic fluid drains, plus a dramatic 3 night stay in the hospital because I was having very real contractions every 5 minutes…and then suddenly everything stopped. I went home. Life has resumed at an almost-usual routine for the last 4 weeks. Baby Button has grown big and strong, we have a safety-approved place for him to sleep and travel, and my mom made it here without complication.
So now? I need y’all to stop praying. I turned the corner on 38 weeks yesterday, and I am done.
I know every third-trimester mother says that, but I don’t think you understand.
I am “answering questionnaires for concerned psychiatrists/sense of humor completely gone/collapsing into tears for no reason at least once a day” done.
I have survived the Apocalypse. I have lived in fear of the government and deportation. I have moved houses at least as many times as I’ve had birthdays. I’ve seen a childhood friend die right in front of me. I have endured losing a relationship with my father 2 months after it began. I have gotten lost in Europe, lost a baby, lost jobs, and been one paycheck ahead of financial disaster for years.
But 9 months of pregnancy, one of life’s greatest mysteries that I was looking forward to the most, is the straw that broke this camel’s back.
I feel sad. I feel angry. I feel needy. I feel weak.
And so I feel lost. My identity is shifting. I’m the girl who writes about all the crazy shit that happens to her, and still manages to make people smile. I’m the Chandler Bing, I’m the Spartan who keeps on trucking, I’m the one who has heard time and again, “Wow. Looking at you, listening to you, I would never have guessed that you survived all THAT. You’re amazing, and you should probably write a book.”
My shit has always been a little messy, but it was my mess, and it made me stronger.
Now? After being pregnant and sick and worried and unprepared for 267 days in a row (including being displaced from home for 60+ days in a cramped house with 4 animals and 4 in-laws out of that)?
All I want is to go to sleep, and wake up in my own bed with a fresh mani/pedi, a killer haircut, a multi-ethnic buffet, and an impossibly adorable baby who never cries longer than 5 minutes or makes me question whether I am mentally and emotionally capable of becoming a mother in the first place.
I feel gross for even admitting it. Because I can see all you ladies who have been moms for years, who are laughing at my innocence and thinking, “Just you wait, honey, it gets worse.” I can see all you ladies who have been thinking they’d like to get pregnant, and now I’ve just ruined it for you. I can see all you ladies who had magical unicorn pregnancies with babies made from Jesus’ eyelashes, and are secretly judging me for being so dramatic and non-sacrificial.
And honestly, I’m going to play the Pregnant Bitch card and say up front: I don’t need to hear from you right now.
The only thing that keeps me typing so vulnerably is the off-chance that maybe some lady will read this and think, Thank GOD I’m not alone. Maybe I’ll wait one more day before checking myself in to the closest institution. Hi, Carly. I’m your new messy mama friend. Let’s keep talking.
13 days or less…
At this time last year, I wrote a letter to 2015. I asked the future if it could bring a little more understanding.
I had flowery hopes and dreams about achieving peace and love in our increasingly ignorant and violent planet – when, most of the time, I don’t even know how to keep peace in my own heart.
So, I learned to find beauty in the small victories.
For me, peace in 2015 was the day my husband’s 8-week chicken pox came to an end.
The day we both got full time jobs, after months of unemployment.
Peace in 2015 looked like America and Cuba bringing their 50-year standoff to an end.
And China changing their One-Child policy.
And Prime Minister Trudeau personally greeting Syrian refugees in the airport of their new homeland.
My best friend organizing and raising hundreds of dollars in less than 24 hours to help feed medical staff after a local mass shooting – that was peace and love.
In February, when our baby should have come, when I got a tattoo instead. Love all over the smoke filled parlor. Peace found in the familiar buzzing warmth of ink upon skin, letting me wear my scars on the outside.
Serving hot chocolate to elderly people whose cheeks are rosy after a city tour of the Christmas lights.
The last scene of the series finale of True Detective.
Skating together for the first time, on the lake where we got married.
Our music, our saving grace.
And yesterday, when I spent 3 hours with Tova. I helped her mum deliver her a year and a half ago, just before I realized I was having a miscarriage at the same time. I never wrote about Tova like I did for Eva, my first doula baby, because the memories were too painful.
But now, I can. Because she deserves some recognition.
This is our journey: the day she was born, one month later, and yesterday – when she discovered snow for the first time, and then promptly plopped herself down in my lap with Dr. Seuss.
She is a ray of light – full of smiles and hugs with no warning that steal my breath away. When the Russian alphabet song comes on, she immediately stops what she’s doing because she must wiggle and squeal and dance her butt off until it’s over.
When we bonked heads by accident, she said “sorry!” and rubbed my head multiple instances; kindness abounds.
I might not have been as ready to face 2016 if I’d not faced yesterday. I’d like to think Tova and my babe would have been friends too.
So, instead of making a list of all the high and lofty goals I expect for 2016, I’m just gonna let it be. Do its thing. And whatever happens, I will keep looking for the small victories. Because a bunch of tiny stars against the black sky will eventually take over the night.
I can wait for that.
For the last 8 years, my husband has owned and operated the biggest TV I’ve ever seen. It’s 46 inches, so I know I’m playing an amateur’s game, but it’s big to me, okay? And the other night, it refused … Continue reading
Please read this extremely important letter. My best friend wrote it so eloquently, and more and more people are catching her fire.
I don’t know about you, but I am not okay with hearing about another mass shooting in the US, or anywhere. These are preventable. Laurie’s letter comes from a simple blog, but even one voice can make a difference. The President can only do so much – it’s Congress and the voters who can make new gun laws a reality.
Rest in peace, Stephanie, Rachel, and countless others. We will fight for you.
Dear Congress – Sincerely, A Mass Shooting Survivor – http://wp.me/p2ftlr-UG
Today, a huge part of my childhood is being revealed over at Sisterwives Speak. It’s scary, shameful, but in the end, liberating. You should check out the link and send some love to me over there. 🙂
Starbucks. That one word. I have no bloody clue what it means, but it is a powerful word, full of meaning, different to everyone. Coffee. Money. Life-blood. Global domination. For the small town I live in, it’s one of the … Continue reading
This is Jessica.
She is Cayce’s older sister, who was one of my childhood friends & fellow classmates. She was 3 whole years older than me, but she didn’t seem to know that when it came to friendship.
She (and her glorious hair) became my object of worship. I loved that girl; she was second only to Ariel as the mermaid queen of my heart.
She was only 10 years old the day she died; I’m the only one who saw it happen.
August 18, 1995 — 19 years ago today. With Cayce’s permission, this is our story.*
Summer was drawing to a close in Whitefish, Montana. I was soaking up all the lake days with my friends that I could, but there was one particular, special, day that I was looking forward to.
Swimming Pool on the Mountain Day.
My mom was planning on attending a Big Adult Conference of some kind, along with Cayce & Jessica’s mom. The hotel (?) that was hosting the event was at the ski resort on Big Mountain, and had its own pool. It was one of the fanciest things I could think of, and Jessica was going to spend the whole afternoon swimming with me there. I don’t remember what Cayce’s plans were; I just remember being sad she couldn’t come.
The only thing I noticed when we entered the pool area: we were literally the only people there. No guests, no lifeguards. But we were strong swimmers, and having a whole pool AND hot tub to ourselves was the stuff of dreams.
We played and splashed and laughed for hours, alternating between the big pool and the hot tub. I never wanted the afternoon to end. I kept my eye on the clock, knowing how many minutes were cruelly creeping by until our moms picked us up.
Our skin was starting to wrinkle and I was getting cold.
“Let’s go in the hot tub one last time to warm up!” she said.
“Okay! Wanna play the hold-your-breath game?” I replied.
She smiled. It was a competition we’d been duelling at all afternoon. One turn at a time, dunking under, the other person watching the clock to count the seconds. We averaged between 30 and 40 seconds each time; one minute was the winner we’d never achieved.
She dunked, and then I did. She dunked again, and then I did. She was determined to beat me the third time. I counted the seconds on the clock. When she passed 35 seconds, I knew she would win. 40…45…was she going to seize the one-minute winner-takes-all goal?
People often say, when a life-changing trauma occurs, that “everything happened so fast.” For me, it was the exact opposite. The seconds crawled by like snails, and she was still under the bubbles. Despite a pit in my stomach that said something was wrong, I laughed and said, “Okay, okay, you win! You can come up now.”
Maybe she didn’t hear me. Almost two minutes. I reached into the water to tap on her head.
I grabbed her shoulder and started shaking her.
She was stuck.
“Jessica! JESSICA!” I started screaming and glancing around. As had been the case all afternoon, no one was there.
Suddenly, her body bobbed to the surface, but her head was still down in the water, and I couldn’t. pull. her. out.
I don’t understand. What is happening. Why won’t she come back?
I fled the hot tub, determined to find help. I reached the door, opened it and stopped in my tracks.
Carpet. Nice, clean, fancy carpet. And there I was dripping wet, remembering that someone had told me to never step on anyone’s carpet when I was wet. Mold would grow underneath, and the carpet would be ruined.
This thought kept me from running any further. So I stood at the doorway, calling out over and over, even though I could see no one.
In desperation, I ran back into the hot tub, and tried with all my strength to remove Jessica from it. Screams echoed off the tiles.
It felt like hours. It felt like being abandoned. It felt like all my fault. But there was a tiny part of me that was sure she was going to pop out of the water like a fish any second now with a smile on her face, declaring herself the winner of the game for all time.
SLAM! The door burst open, and a man ran in, like a guardian angel who’d gotten caught in traffic.
“What happened?” He had dark hair and a strong build, but even he strained to free her.
I froze, my words pouring out slowly. “We were playing…a game…she was holding her breath…and…she never came up.” Would this angel blame me?
“Okay, honey. I’m gonna go get some help. Are you okay here for a minute?”
I nodded. What was one more minute?
I never left her side. I had started to shake. I thought I was cold, but now I know it was probably something else.
The door opened again, this time with 6 big, too-late guardian angels to help me. I sat on the edge of the hot tub, curled up with my arms wrapped around my knees as they suctioned to the bodice of my swimsuit.
I had no concept of the time anymore.
It took all 6 of them to finally bring her limp body out of the water. Her princess hair covered her face, and as they laid her down on the concrete, one of them began CPR, sweeping the hair away. She was a light blue.
That’s when I started to cry.
Every time I recall that day, it feels like a dream. I’m certain that I blocked some memories in self-preservation; what 7 year old wouldn’t? I remember the helicopter that took her away, the gravel that bit my wrinkled feet as I walked across the parking lot, covered in a blanket.
Later, at the hospital, they wouldn’t let me see her, just told me what I already knew. Her hair, that I’d wanted so badly, had gotten sucked into a filter at the bottom of the tub. We’d never seen it coming.
Nobody asked me what happened. Not the hospital, not my mom, not a pastor or a therapist. I was never asked, so I never said anything. I just tried to forget, and kept my hair short, avoiding hot tubs at all costs.**
I didn’t see Cayce much*** after that; I was pulled out of school to begin homeschooling less than a year later.
But this I do know: Jessica was a piece of goodness and kindness and gentleness that the absolute senselessness of Life elected to take out before she could spread her beauty beyond her corner of the world.
I hate that, and I hate the part that I played in it. That will never be taken away from me, from her family. This is a scar we will always share, as though she had been the blood and bone joining us together until we were ripped apart.
But I have absolutely no doubt that we will see her again one day.
I can picture her now, swimming towards me, laughing and splashing, saying, “THERE you are! I’ve been swimming all day waiting for you, silly! Hey, did you know we can be mermaids here if we want? Come on, I’ll show you!”
And when I jump in the water, all the pain and fear and confusion of that day will be washed away in the waves. The sun will never set, and skin will never wrinkle from swimming too long; lungs will be more than lungs and we will be more than girls. Finally. Forever.
* Some location and timeline details may have changed due to my faulty memory. Apologies.
** I can say that I love hot tubs again, and that, this year, I’ve let my hair grow the longest it’s ever been.
*** We are now reconnected through the lovely Internet, and all has been restored, thank God.