August: Dog Days of Summer

Friday, August 2, 2013


First: Hello again! I seem to have lost steam on the blog posts. I think I hit a wall when it came time to get to the "meat" of my story. I promise, I will get back to that story. I need to approach it in an easier way, rather than trying to piece the exact events back together from a mountain of notes and medical records. It was too daunting a task, and I panicked and fled.

One thing that has kept me very busy these months, has been Irish dancing. I did start lessons along with Sophie, in January. Alex has also joined in the fun- we're the Irish dancing Von-Trapp family performers! I have found that dance class has become a kind of therapy for me. I look forward to our weekly class all week, and leave after 2-3 hours of grueling hard work, absolutely on top of the world. It's seriously addictive. Sophie and I participated in our first feis (pronounced "fesh"), in February. Sophie got a second place for her light jig, as did I. The two of us also did a mother-daughter two hand jig, and tied for 3rd. It was so very gratifying. How often in life do we, as adults, get a chance to work hard at something and perform, much less compete? I mean, unless these are things you actually DO for a living. So we've been practicing hard, I started in hard shoes rather quickly, and now know all of my beginner solo dances. Alex decided he wanted to start dancing as well- and he loves it. But wait- here's the bummer. I have been battling terrible shin splints. Staying up on our toes is killer on the calves. While I was compensating for painful shins in my right leg, a toe on my left foot starting hurting. Which turned into my whole left foot hurting. Alot. To the point where I was having trouble even walking on it. I could tell something was not right, so I went to see the lovely Dr. Pacheco (yes, I do have a bit of a crush on him) yesterday, who showed me on the x-ray exactly how and where my stress fractures are located. Divine. So now I'm wearing the medieval torture device known as "the boot" for 6 weeks, and I'm not allowed to do any dancing. I go back for another x-ray in September. The upside is that we are on a break from dance class anyway until September. But I'm not allowed to practice in that time. Sad clown face, big time. Even walking/ jogging on the treadmill is out of the question. I guess I can do the bike machine? And now comes the serious watch-what-I-eat time, so I don't just gain back the 20+ pounds I've worked so hard to lose since December.

With this seriously careful about food thinking in the forefront of my mind, I went grocery shopping today. I planned out dinner for us tonight: I'd do a stir-fry with some leeks I already had in the fridge and a yellow pepper, carrots, broccoli, bok-choy, ginger, garlic, lemon grass paste, tamari and lemon. I'd also fry up some firm tofu, and put it all over brown rice. Total experiment to see if the kids would even touch this health-fest of a dinner. I filled my shopping cart with lots of fresh veggies, fruit, turkey sausages, organic brown eggs, organic milk, about 8 different packages of frozen wild-caught different types of fish, flash frozen fruits and veggies, hummus, canola oil cooking spray, gluten free crackers, spinach sandwich wraps, among other necessities. Now don't get me wrong: I also had microwave-able spaghetti and meatballs for kids lunches, pasta, juice boxes, turkey lunch meat, a box of fruit loops, frozen waffles, frozen chicken pot pies, frozen white castle cheeseburgers which the kids love but I think smell like dog food, corn chips...
The one most noticeable thing absent from my cart today? Bread. My love. This will be tough to cut out, but I'm willing to give it a go.
While I was walking around, (ok, hobbling around in my boot) I became hyper-aware of other people shopping, and the contents of their carts. It's a really interesting study in humanity to observe people in grocery stores. Now I don't normally grocery shop in our local co-op, or whole foods, or sprout markets. Only occasionally will I splurge on a few items at those stores. They're just too damned expensive. So I do our normal grocery shopping at our local Smith's. The average people's store. Where most everyone has the same daily struggles: income, employment (or lack-there-of), balancing work and family time, weight issues, pain, depression, etc. Most people there today, were trying to balance costs of their purchases with coupons, or food stamps.
But here's what I found most disturbing: the uncanny abundance of severely obese people- people who ride on wheeled vehicles as walking has become too difficult. What I observed  with these people, most consistently, was the contents of their carts. Mostly all of them were filled with absolute crap: donuts, snack cakes, hot dogs, bread, beer... so much crap I had to stop looking. Sugar, processed foods, carbohydrates, fat, and more sugar. Almost no fruit or fresh vegetables or lean proteins, or even whole grains. Seriously horrifying. Sad, really. My thoughts were not as much judgemental, (who the hell am I to judge anyone), but perplexed. How is it that in a country where obesity and diabetes have reached epic proportions, is there seemingly so little education about the things we are filling our grocery carts with? Why are billions of dollars spent by the government getting health "reform" bills passed that government employees themselves don't want any part of, and no one is taking the time or making the effort to educate people about what to eat and not to eat? When did we become a country where billions of dollars are spent in the pursuit of "thin is beautiful" while those who are truly struggling with serious weight and health issues are not getting the support or education about the simplest of things: food. How many countless ailments are burdening our health care system due to the epidemic of obesity? Why are these people not making better choices? Again, don't get me wrong: I also struggle with my weight. Every day is a constant battle of choices and guilt. But I know what I SHOULD be eating and not eating. I know what I should be filling my shopping cart with. Why not others? Do they not know how make better choices? Do they simply not care? Is it less expensive to buy crap? (I refuse to believe this). Is it marketing?
I asked the gal at the check-out about it. Very diplomatically, she responded with, "I just try not to look. I've seen it all. Live and let live, to each their own I guess." Absolutely right.  Point well taken. Mind my own fucking business. But then she very quietly told me what she thought was the "real" problem. She told me that she sees so many people come into the store with thousands of dollars in welfare money- WIC checks, food stamps, etc. And they blow it all on crap. Serious crap.  She said she once saw a woman come through with a cart FILLED with candy. All paid for with government issued money. When she asked her if she was having some kind of party, the woman apparently responded with, "no- I'm sending it all to my mother in Mexico." Honestly, I didn't know what to say to that. Yes- who the hell am I to judge? But surely, we could be doing better than this!? There has to be better education about food and diet. There just has to be. But where to even begin?
BTW- the kids loved the dinner I made. Small triumphs.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Wow- this flu season hit our house hard. First it was Sophie- high fever, barfed a couple of times. The day she was fighting the fever, our thermometer was on the fritz (I found out later) so I was getting readings of 103.4, one hour after I had given her Tylenol. This is when I tossed both kids into the car - on New Year's Eve, mind you, and drove downtown to the Pediatric ER. They took her vitals right away and, voila! No fever. Of course. I don't look like the crazy paranoid mom, or anything, do I!? The nurse actually told me, "well, you can wait if you'd like, but if I were you, I'd go home." Which we did. By the next day, she was doing better, but was developing a nice juicy cough. Then Alex got hit. And he got hit hard. High fever again, and terrible cough. Sophie was well enough to be back at school, but Alex stayed home. Much to Sophie's chagrin. On the way home from picking her up, the first day back after winter break, Alex started coughing in the car and choking on whatever he was coughing up, he couldn't catch his breath and started turning blue. Luckily, we were turning right in front of  where an urgent care office was- I whisked him right in. He was able to catch his breath again, but not after causing me to completely freak. (Inside, of course. On the outside, I was all business so I didn't scare him or Sophie). The doctor there said, "It's the flu." And, "You're next." Right on both counts. I got hit the next day, complete with barfing. Because feeling like I had the worst sinus/ lung infection and fever wasn't fun enough. Barfing had to complete the picture. Oh yeah. Almost three weeks later, and I still have a bit of a residual cough. I guess having asthma just doesn't work well with this one. Of course, the cold temps here lately did not help matters one bit. But we're all on the mend! I got lectured about getting flu shots next year, but I must admit: I really think there's a lot to be said for having gotten sick and allowed our own bodies to form their own antibodies and fight it off on our own. When I was a kid, I remember getting sick quite a bit. You got sick, and stayed home for a few days from school. In bed, garbage can next to the bed for barf, lots of liquids and rest and that was it. There weren't flu shots back then, and I do not remember hearing about any deaths or weird strains of viruses no one could fight off on their own. I truly believe it's a bunch of hooey and hype from pharmaceutical companies in order to market and sell product. Those flu shots don't do shit for me. Every year I've gotten one, I've gotten sick anyway. In fact, every year I've gotten one, I've been plagued with one sinus infection after another. I did not get a flu shot this year, and I got the flu. Big deal. I got over it. But so far, not ONE sinus infection. Which is pretty miraculous for me. As for the kids- got them flu shots in the past, and they've both gotten sick anyway. No flu shot this year, and they were sick. And they got over it. On their own.
And so- I ask you: to flu shot, or not to flu shot? What's your opinion?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Russia, Russia, Russia!! (To be screeched in your best Jan Brady whining tone)
Today, I read on the PAIL Bloggers guest post that President Putin has officially banned all adoptions from Russia to the USA. Including any that are in process. Apparently, the new law "is part of larger legislation by Putin-allied lawmakers retaliating against a recently signed U.S. law that calls for sanctions against Russians deemed to be human rights violators," according to the story in the Huffington Post. I'm so saddened by this- and truly disgusted. I'm sickened that a twisted politician would "retaliate" in any way to another country in the first place (yes, I know this happens all the time) but to use innocent children as pawns in a spoiled brat reaction is really gross. Because, who is Putin really punishing? The USA? Adoptive families in the USA? Or the needy and family-less children in his own backyard? Is he going to personally insure that all of these children will be well taken care of? Well fed, clothed, kept warm, educated, loved? I seriously doubt it. I suspect he will simply turn his back on them-because, really, wasn't the whole point of this law just to "get back" at the U.S.? Who gives a shit about the children- "fuck those Americans and their adoptions, we're going to keep all our little Russian children here in their own country. THAT'LL show THEM." <raspberry>   Where they can spend the rest of their lives stuck in an institutional, bureaucratic system instead of in loving homes with families and parents.
Here's the response to the post that I wrote this afternoon...
Oh this saddens me so much!! My great friend and former roommate has adopted twice from Russia. Her girls are so beautiful and happy- they are a marvelous little family. When we were in the midst of our own IF drama, we briefly explored Russian adoption. We found that both the wait and the expense were going to be too much for us- particularly as we were already, by that time, considered “older” parents. I was so dismayed at the condition of some of the orphanages – babies with flattened backs of their heads, who were being put down in their cribs all day long on their backs with no changes or stimulation, delayed learning from lack of stimulation, potty training by being sat down on buckets or potties for hours on end. Really horrifying. I don’t know how much of these tales were factual and how much were exaggeration or even fabrication. What I did know, is that there were far too many children in need of good homes and not enough families in their own countries adopting. I also knew that the majority of these children were the products of drug addicted parents, and struggled with withdrawal symptoms, emotional issues or severe learning/ social drawbacks. All very challenging stuff for any family, made even more so by the added stresses of adoption, and international adoption at that. It broke my heart and I did not think we had the fortitude for such stresses. Selfish sounding, I know. But I knew our limitations. Obviously the woman who sent her child back on an airplane had underestimated her own limitations, which is tragic. I wonder how common that underestimation actually is? I know there are so many deserving families out there who desperately want children through adoption- and how many of them end up facing problems they never could have imagined? I also wonder if the sharp drop in international adoption rates coincides with a rise in infertility treatments and successes here? Could it be that all of those families who were historically adopting are now having greater success conceiving their own children? Has science made such great strides with infertility treatments that adoption itself is becoming a “thing of the past” for those who cannot find success with IF treatments? I really hope not. There must be many many families out there who choose adoption for the sake of wanting to adopt- period. I think of adoption as something truly beautiful and noble. I have often thought about our own decision against it, and for moving forward with a gestational carrier so we were able to have “our own” children. I have guilt about this. I sometimes still consider adopting- though by now we really are much older parents! (And really couldn’t afford it) If I were to pursue adoption now, it would definitely have been through Russia. It breaks my heart to know that petty, political backstabbing will hinder this process when so very many will suffer. And who will suffer most from this decision? Innocent children in need of loving homes. I hope Russia is prepared to find more (desperately needed) funding to support the ever growing (now even more so) population of these children, and to keep the orphanages already so underfunded, running, staffed, and stocked? If they won’t accept American parents, will they accept American dollars to at least try to provide better environments for the growing number of institutionalized minors? One can only hope.
Has anyone else noticed President Putin's name being the last part of RASPUTIN!? Hmmmm... makes me wonder....  Maybe he really DIDN'T ever die!? Evil fucker.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Let Go

I've been more than absent from this blog for the past couple of weeks. Holiday busyness, late nights and somewhat of a writer's block have kept me away from writing anything new here- and for this I apologize! Not just to you, dear reader, but to myself. I apologize for not being able to carve out even a few minutes of my days or nights, to write. I apologize for whatever lack of motivation has kept me away. Mostly, I think, I have simply felt shell-shocked. The Newtown school shootings and my subsequent harsh post, have left me reeling. How can my own small story, or daily rantings possibly be of any interest when families are suffering the loss of precious babies? Why does my own shock and sadness about it even matter? What can I possibly do to help change or improve such a complicated and huge issue as gun control, or mental illness? How could I help those grieving families cope with their losses? The truth: I can't. I hate that. I'm a "fixer." My natural inclination is to want to try to fix things for people- make something better, more tolerable, more pleasant, easier. Ease others' burdens in some way. It's very hard for me to think that I'm somehow powerless. This tragedy has left me feeling exactly that. And I don't like it at all.
I think that this gets at the very heart of infertility. It's something that I am powerless against. It's something I cannot fix, or make more pleasant for anyone, or control. (Hello- Type A personality!) That's a serious emotional challenge: letting go. With the advent of the New Year, my own personal challenge and a challenge for all, would be exactly that- Letting Go. Letting go of past pain and jealousy and anger. Letting go of my own feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, negativity. Letting go of my ideals about possible futures that will never happen and embracing the reality of the ones that can and will. Letting go of expectations- realistic and un. Letting go of fear. I have to say that again: LETTING GO OF FEAR!!
Here's to hoping that 2013 brings new opportunities for greatness and fearlessness. And here's to hoping that 2013 is the year I finally shed the weight (literally and figuratively) of infertility and LET GO.
Peace. Love. Out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Angels

I have not been able to write anything about last Friday's horrible tragic events in Newtown, CT. for many reasons. When I first heard about a young man walking into an elementary school and shooting a bunch of people, I just couldn't believe it. I followed the link that had been e-popped around our office at about 9:30 AM. Sure enough, there was CNN's "Breaking news" story- in the very beginnings of its own inevitable sisyphusian roll. I did not read too much, as I was immediately too shocked and upset to focus on what I knew I would hear and read more about later. I had too much work to get done, and too many other things to do that day. Friday was a super busy day for me, and I just couldn't stop mid-whirlwind or I would lose all momentum. And I needed my momentum. My BFF and I were taking our kids up to Colorado the next day, to ride on the Polar Express. Tickets we had gotten a year ago, and a trip we were supposed to have taken last year- right when my Grandmother died. The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Rail puts on the Polar Express extravaganza, and it really is magical. They were kind enough last year, to hold and honour our reservation for this year. Nothing was stopping me from making this trip happen for us all, and I had alot to get through on Friday. During the course of the day, I heard more and more soundbites of the events in CT and some more details. Eventually, I had heard enough to make me physically ill and I decided right then that I was not going to turn on any TV news, or go and read further gruesome details online. I knew all I needed to know about what happened and believe me, my own brain was filling in enough of the details on its own. By Friday evening, I was so devastated, I was shaking and ill and could not bring myself to go to sleep. All I could think about was the nightly routine. My nightly routine with my own kids, and the nightly routine of all the mommies on that night, in Connecticut. My brain started to voice (as it does so often these days) what would eventually become this post. I have not been anywhere near able to organize any of this inner monologue until today, when I began furiously jotting down notes as the thoughts started coming in full sentences. I got more terrible news this morning that a good friend from college has just passed away, this very morning, from complications from HIV induced pneumonia. Spence was the kind of person who was like a lighthouse. He was a bright focus, around which everyone wanted to gravitate. He was intelligent, funny, wry, and in your face. And he never gave up fighting his illness. He was a hero. Hearing of his death has wrenched me out of my stupor, to start writing all the stuff that's been floating around up there in the old grey matter for the past few days. This is for you, dear Spencer- my new protecting angel.
This is for all 26 of the angels newly created on Friday, December 14 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut.  As the media continues to saturate the world with Adam Lanza's name, I wish, tonight, to focus on the children and, because I'm the mother of two 6 year old kids, I cannot help but to be thinking about the moms. As I said, I have not read too much about this, or watched any news reports. What I have read, and what I have heard, and what I know are how this story has unfolded in my psyche. I cannot stop thinking about the kids. Were any of them conceived through IVF or other forms of ART? After years of struggling through infertility, did their parents finally welcome their precious and so wanted little ones into the world, only to lose them just a few short years later? Were any of them adopted? Were any of them a twin? Were any of them Jewish, in the midst of celebrating Chanukkah? How many of them played in bubbly filled bathtubs the night before? How many of them took showers that morning with either of their parents? Had any of them just passed a life milestone? Just lost a tooth? Just started to sleep at night without a pull-up? Just started to read, write, add, subtract? Whose snack day was it? Did that child bring in a favorite snuggly animal from their bed, or a model they built with their dad, or a family picture? Were any of them wearing a beloved hand-me-down sweater, or handmade one? Did any one of  them just learn how to tie their shoes, ride a bike, swim? Had any of them just gotten over a cold? Sore throat? How many of those kids had brought their own lunches, and who was going to buy a lunch that day? Who among them was dropped off from their car in the drop-off lanes, parents in a rush to get on with their own days? Who was walked into their classroom by one or more parents, maybe having arrived a bit late to school? Who had a tearful or anxious separation from their parent(s) that morning for one reason or another? Had any of them just had a fight with a parent, a sibling, a friend? How many of their parents had had a rough or rushed morning routine and become exasperated with their child for whatever reason? Who had forgotten to say "I love you" that morning?
And what of the morning routine in the classrooms? Had the school just said the Pledge of Allegiance? Were the lunch counts being collected? Were the kids putting their folders away, having snack, sitting in circle, having free choice, starting a lesson?
Were there special Holiday events happening over the weekend that families had had planned (like I had)? How many Christmas cards had already been sent out with complete family pictures? How many of the children killed were only children, without brothers or sisters for their parents to re focus on?
How did the killings themselves go down? Did he simply walk into the room and start shooting at random like a turkey shoot? Were the kids running around the room screaming? Or did (as I've heard) the teacher shove all the kids into a corner and stand in front of them, trying to shield them before they were all shot in the same pile- more like fish in a barrel? How terrified were those children? Did they cry for their mommies? Did they try to run? One of the many many thoughts that plagues me is that they all died away from the arms of their mothers. They died in fear and terror and violence, apart from their families. I have heard that when someone dies suddenly, in a traumatic situation, their soul doesn't know its body has died, and it gets "stuck." These spirits stick around for a while, until they either realize it's time to move on, or they are helped to cross over. I wonder if any of these kids are hanging around their families? I hope none of them is stuck. I'd like to believe they were immediately made into angels, and the only "sticking around" they're doing is to wrap their new wings around their mothers. Because each of those mothers was denied the chance to wrap her arms around her little one as they died. It's common to say that "losing a child is the worst thing for a parent." Children, after they've grown, are supposed to bury their parents- not the other way around. I think it's even worse for mothers to lose their children. That's not to say that it isn't any less difficult for the dads, the grandparents, the sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, etc. But for a mother to lose her child- especially at the age of 6 or 7, is like having a large portion of your heart ripped from your body. I can't help but think of that horrible speech given by Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs when he talks about amputees feeling phantom pain long after a limb has been removed. And for a  mother, where does that pain reside? In her heart. By the time your babies are 6 or 7, you've had enough time to get to really know them. You've had time to know and witness the development of their personalities, their likes and dislikes, their predispositions, their tempers, their loves. They have grown intellectually to a point where reason and logic are beginning to allow them to formulate their own ideas about the world, and to react to situations in ways that border adult deductive reasoning. Having them yanked from the world at this age, is like chopping down a tree right when it begins to flower. It's like removing a too large section from an orange- disrupting its delicate and precarious balance as a whole, perfectly formed sphere. A mother's heart is like that orange. It's a delicately balanced whole. Removing too large a portion will surely endanger its precarious balance. Each of the mothers of the Newtown children had too large a portion of their hearts ripped from them when their children were killed. And my heart, some 2000 miles away, is in twisted pain just thinking about this. Because those children could just as easily have been my own.
I keep saying, "I cannot even imagine." But I can. That Friday night must have been a night from hell for those families. Only earlier that very morning, all of those children had been in their own beds. How many of them had made their beds that morning? How many of them had left their rooms in a mess- laundry on the floor, beds unmade, toys strewn about? How many of them had left things to do for that evening after they came home from school? Who would clean all of this up, and how? How were those mothers dealing with the night-time routine without their children? How were they going to bed, while their children's beds were empty? How were they trying to sleep, or weeping, or hysterical, or tranquilized? Knowing their children weren't  there. In their own warm beds. With their snuggly soft stuffed animals, or pets? Instead, they were all in body bags in a large freezer at the Medical Examiners office. All 20 of them. I am reminded of the line from Othello, "The tragic loading of this bed"... the tragic loading of that freezer.
I know more than most about State Medical Examiner's labs. I worked on the design of ours for almost two years. I learned more than you'd ever want to know about autopsies, body freezers, specimen storage, drain systems, poured epoxy floors in a light enough color to contrast blood for efficiency of cleaning. And family rooms. I had to design the two rooms in which families would come to view and/or identify the bodies of their loved ones, through a large window. My task was to make these rooms as comforting and calming as possible. All I could think about the entire time I worked on that project was, "what about children?" How can a mother sit in that room, and view her child's body through a pane of glass and not get to hold and cradle them in her arms? It haunted me and has ever since. I know that the Medical Examiner in CT didn't finish with the bodies until Sunday. I also know that none of the families was allowed to see their children until after they had been examined. Two, three days? I know, too, that each child had been hit from between 3 to 11 times with bullets. Think of how small a 6 year old is. Then think of the damage to a human body one single bullet is capable of inflicting. Then think of 11 bullets. In a 6 year old. It's hard to fathom. And it's too disturbing for anyone to contemplate. But think of the Medical Examiner. PTSD, anyone?
And what of the children who weren't at school on Friday for some reason? Doctor's appointment? Dentist? Early Holiday vacation? Sick? Or of the teacher who had just gone on maternity leave the week previous? Survivor's guilt, anyone? Or the stories that are coming out about heroism? The substitute teacher who hid her kids in cupboards and closets, and told the shooter when he came in that her kids were in the gym, only to then be shot herself? Or the Principal who went out into the hallway to secure the situation, only to be gunned down?
I am the mother of 6 year old (6 next week) twins who are in kindergarten, in different classes. Their school is very like Sandy Hook. Small, rural, close-knit community. When I dropped off the kids this morning, I encountered locked classroom doors. When we were let in, I quietly asked if this was the new policy for safety. Alex's teacher looked up at me, over his glasses in a single expression that said simultaneously, "Yes."  "Doesn't it suck?"  "I'm sorry" and "What has the world come to?" And tears instantly burst into my eyes. I thanked him. I walked out to my car, and my Architect brain took over, planning the newly secured classroom of the future:
  • Main classroom doors with automatic closers and locks, panic push bars on the classroom side for emergency exit only.
  • Secondary exits from each room, whose view is shielded both visually and physically from the primary entrance. This exit preferably goes to the outside of the building or to a protected safety corridor.
  • Panic buttons in every classroom which, when activated, set off an alarm system that immediately notifies the police, fire, paramedics, and simultaneously closes and locks all doors from the outside, activates the public address system, and sends a text or voicemail message to every parents' cell phone to be on alert and meet at a pre-designated place for further information.
  • Bullet-proof, wired safety glass at all windows and doors.
  • Escape and emergency routines and drills in all classes carried out on a regular basis.
  • Rotating parent or police patrols of school grounds.
  • Lockable cabinets in classrooms with tazers, pepper spray, emergency cell phone, emergency medical kits, etc.
It's time to start taking protecting our schools seriously.
I heard one of the detectives, a 30 plus year veteran, talking about this tragedy. He was saying that the awful truth is that right now, there is someone else out there planning something else much worse. I believe this to be true. The media coverage of Adam Lanza only helps to propagate the celebrity of his heinous acts to someone like this. There has been alot of discussion about mental illness in the past few days. About Asperghers and Autism and Explosive mental disorders, and gun control. There was a very excellent article written by Liza Long and published on the Huffington Post website, entitled "I am Adam Lanza's Mother." here's a link:
In it, she describes the explosive and dangerous temperament of her own son, suffering from similar mental disorders to Adam Lanza. She describes having to take away and lock up all the knives in her house, after her son became so violent and threatening she got seriously worried he would harm her, himself, his siblings. She describes the lack of systematic assistance and treatment other than prison for these mentally ill people. She describes being so concerned for her son's own safety as well as hers, that she seeks having him committed. I heard today, that Adam Lanza's mother was also contemplating this very thing. Which is, theoretically, what may have set him off. My question is: If she knew he was so sick and prone to explosive outbursts, or potentially dangerous, why ON EARTH did she keep guns in the same house where she and HE were residing? And why IN THE WORLD were these guns not locked up tight? It may seem pointless to speculate on why or how after the tragic events, but I also have to question the ready availability of very violent video games. I have no idea if Adam Lanza was a "gamer," but I do know that these games simulate unbelievable scenarios of gun play, violence, shooting, and carnage. It's my opinion that kids who play these games on a consistent basis become de-sensitized to the reality of this level of violence. To them, these scenes just aren't real. And when you add mental illness into this cocktail, that separation from reality can become deadly. The shooting and death and bloodshed before them, becomes something from one of their games- where they are the hero and the death around them simply isn't real. Except that it was real. I can only think that the moment before Adam Lanza aimed the gun at himself and pulled the trigger, he had some kind of momentary lucidity in which he must have realized the shock of what he'd just done WAS real and could only then take his own life. I think these games need better and more closely guarded control.
The hope, if any, I can render from this horrible tragedy, is this: that there are now 26 new angels out there watching over us. And their names are:

 - Charlotte Bacon, age 6
- Daniel Barden, age 7
 - Rachel Davino, age 39
 - Olivia Engel, age 6
 - Josephine Gay, age 7
- Ana M. Marquez-Greene, age 6
 - Dylan Hockley, age 6
 - Dawn Hochsprung, age 47
 - Madeleine F. Hsu, age 6
 - Catherine V. Hubbard, age 6
- Chase Kowalski, age 7
- Jesse Lewis, age 6
 - James Mattioli , age 6
 - Grace McDonnell, age 7
 - Anne Marie Murphy, age 52
- Emilie Parker, age 6
 - Jack Pinto, age 6
 - Noah Pozner, age 6
 - Caroline Previdi, age 6
 - Jessica Rekos, age 6
 - Avielle Richman, age 6
- Lauren Rousseau, age 40
 - Mary Sherlach, age 56
 - Victoria Soto, age 27
 - Benjamin Wheeler, age 6
- Allison N. Wyatt, age 6
And Spencer Cox, age 44

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Back Story

I must tell a bit of back story. Back story, in my opinion, is vital to knowing and understanding the entire picture. And I do have alot of back story to tell. I will be interjecting it from time to time, as you may have noticed with some previous posts (My story- parts 1 and 2) both being pregnancy related back stories. I also plan to infill with things from my childhood and how I was raised. If nothing else, it makes for an interesting read- and you'll get to know me so well. Don't think that this means you can just come over and put your feet up on my coffee table though. I do have some boundaries. Tonight's back story is my birth. My mother loved to tell the story of my birth, especially to embarrass my Dad.
Chicago, July 1968. Saturday.  I don’t know the exact reason, but my mother was going in to the hospital to be induced the next day. The hospital was Michael Reese, on the south side of the city. My mother, my father, my aunt, my grandmother and grandfather and both of my brothers had been born there. Because of the recent turmoil in the city, (Race riots, Democratic National convention, forthcoming elections, war protests, etc.) Chicago was a powder keg. There were National Guard soldiers posted all over the city, slinging rifles and machine guns. Imagine my mother, very sheltered, suburban housewife, VERY pregnant, very independent, driving herself from the very sheltered northern suburbs into the south side of the city, with a small suitcase beside her. It’s already an interesting scene. Now imagine that she pulls into the hospital parking lot, only to be stopped by two National Guard soldiers with their machine guns at the ready, poking their noses into the family wood-sided station wagon to see what appears to be a pregnant woman, with a small suitcase. I doubt either of these well-intentioned gentlemen was married, or the scene would have appeared entirely differently from how they perceived it. They made her get out of the car and PROVE that she was actually pregnant, and NOT, in fact, hiding a bomb under her dress. Now my mom, although she was an actress, was actually surprisingly shy. I bet she just loved this. (Not.) Well, obviously, the two guards were convinced, and probably extraordinarily embarrassed. Mom checked in, and presumably went right to sleep. A bit of back story here: in 1968, they were still using twilight sleep medications during many births. Twilight sleep is a basic term for any combination of medications that cause laboring moms to retain no memory of pain. It was not a pain blocker in any way, rather, a form of medicinally imposed amnesia. Women who were given twilight sleep often thought that they were the “modern” women who didn’t have to experience the pain, mess and discomfort of childbirth. Paradoxically, they actually DID experience all of these things- they just had no memory of it.  Consequently, these women often experienced side effects from the medications which caused their inhibitions to also be blocked. They were “wild” in their labors, kicking and screaming, and sometimes doing harm to themselves or to their helpers. More often than not, they had to be strapped to their beds. Straps lined with lamb’s wool was the norm, so as not to leave obvious bruising and alarm husbands. Sadly, these husbands were not allowed into birthing rooms as it was considered “inappropriate”, not to mention most husbands would probably have yanked their wives right out of there upon witnessing these barbaric practices. But this was how childbirth had gone in this country for a long time- beginning around the turn of the century, when these combinations of drugs were first used and found to be the “modern woman’s” alternative to painful home births. Birth moved from homes and away from midwives, into hospitals with doctors and nurses carefully administering pain-killing medications, and maintaining (the illusion of) completely sterile environments. Usually, these drugs were any combination of pain killers and amnesiacs. Commonly, the cocktail was a mixture of morphine and a drug called scopolamine. Morphine acted as a very strong analgesic, or pain reliever, and is actually (surprisingly) derived from poppies (ala opium.) Scopolamine is a drug that inhibits certain neuro transmitters; thus the loss of memory portion, and is derived from a plant called Deadly Nightshade (which can be poisonous.) Charming combination, don’t you think? Poison and Opium. Good times.  Both of my brothers had been born while my mother was in twilight sleep, and she fully intended to do the same with me. To her and everyone else’s surprise, I had other plans. I was very small (weighed in at 5lbs 3oz.), and I was also mom’s third baby. When she was given an enema very early the next morning, she went right into active labor. She bypassed first stage labor, and went immediately into active dilation. It took her a total of 3 hours to fully dilate, during which time (reason unknown) no drugs were administered. When it came time to push, she asked for Trilline- an inhaled narcotic pain blocker. I came literally flying out of her so fast, presumably with her very first push, that she said they almost didn’t catch me and I nearly went flying off of the delivery table. The attending OB/GYN wrote in my baby book himself that they only used 65cents worth of Trilline on my mom- barely enough for a single breath, which I’m sure she didn’t even get in all the excitement. Like it or not Mom, I was born au-natural! I love that part of the story. A bit more back story: Mom and Dad had already had two boys. In 1968, they were not doing routine ultrasounds (or even had the technology to do them at all?) to foretell a baby’s sex. Mom spent her entire pregnancy with me hoping for a girl, and my Dad too. When I was born, the doctor (who was also a family friend and knew of this wish by both of my parents), decided to play a practical joke on my Dad; He wrapped me in a towel right away (without so much as a sponge-off) and brought me out of the delivery room into the “Dad’s waiting room” and presented me, all bloody and covered with vernix, genitals first, to my shocked father and declared, “It’s another boy!” I guess my Dad was so shocked that he didn’t even notice the lack of a penis and just sort of went, “uuhhh….ooohhhhh” I’m not sure how long it did take him before he knew he had a daughter, but I can only assume it wasn’t too long.
Twilight sleep- we've come a long way, baby.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I have been delinquent in my posts... here's why: I am completely overwhelmingly intimidated by the ACTUAL writing of my story. I know how that sounds. Especially because the whole impetus behind this blog, was to format a way to write out my story- my entire story. Writing out my whole story is a daunting task, to say the least. I've gotten to the point where I am ready and willing to begin attacking the heart of it- starting with when Pete and I began dating and got married. But am I actually able? I had hoped to rely on notes and files and date books, and journals to help me with this. I pulled out all this stuff tonight, in an attempt to begin to organize it and start writing about our very first attempts to get pregnant. And then I saw it all sitting on the coffee table in front of me. Here's how it looked:

None of it is in any kind of order. It's a completely chaotic pile. Not to mention an emotional one. I'll attack it a bit at a time. First, I will try to put it all into chronological order. Then I'll separate the medical files from my own research and other writing. The date books already are in order, so I will try to match the files with events recorded in the date books. Then I'll begin writing.
Spaulding Gray made a great film of one of his best monologues called Monster in a Box. If you're unfamiliar with it, see it. He was brilliant. The premise, and hence the title, address his difficulty in getting started writing his novel- which was an autobiographical story about his mother and her suicide. He did eventually write it (Impossible Vacation) but not without many adventures and mishaps and intimidation from the "monster" of paper. I can identify. I'm standing on a precipice.
I will call my files the Monster.
This past weekend was very emotional. It was the one year anniversary of my Grandmother's death, the first night of Chanukah, Sophie's first public Irish dance performance. One really great thing befell me on Friday- I discovered that we now have a Lush store! Albuquerque has "arrived!" If you haven't discovered the pleasures of Lush products, I implore you to RUN to your nearest location, or find them on the web and order one thing. Doesn't matter which one- they are all equally incredible. Beautiful, natural products never tested on animals, proceeds of sales donated to various charities, products so pure and natural they are all actually edible. Scrum-dilly-ishous. Lush saved my butt this weekend. I stocked up. I bought a bath melt that I have previously ordered and received melted. The sales clerk said to me, "it will never be melted again." This, after I literally jumped and ran and did a happy dance ALL THE WAY AROUND THE STORE. I kid you not. They must have thought there was genuinely something wrong with me. The bath melt was everything I knew it would be. And it soothed my soul. Here are some gratuitous pictures of the products, in our very own Lush store:

Mmmm... just look at all those lovely candy scented re-usable bubble wands, fizzy-lifting bath water tinting bath bombs, and fair trade shampoos made with honey (which I used on the kids' hair today).
My advice for facing your monsters? Indulge in some products from Lush. Soak. Rinse. Repeat.