Saturday, November 10, 2007

Nine Months

Julia had me thinking about the nine month marker, which I'll probably hit by the time I get around to posting this missive.

(And may I stop here and say holy hell, how do some of you find time to do this post-every-fucking-day-in-November-blog thang? I don't have time to shower every day! Can you even believe that Smitten is posting once a day? Smitten! Unbelievable. The world is chockablock with people who don't deserve to blog, and I think I'm one of them.)

Nine months is obviously the time one carries a child, although I must say to a former math-nut, the week/month thing always threw me for a loop. So, nine months of my life were essentially wasted (my current point of view) carrying a child that would die, and now I'm nine months out from "it." I thought I'd take a moment to list some changes I've noticed in my immediate surroundings during the last nine months. I'm not going to try and dissect these too awfully much, nor will I assign them into positive and negative columns because my brain would implode and you would probably get very tired of the redundancy. I'll skip the obvious stuff, like, you know, the fact that I don't have a second child anymore. So here, in a nutshell, are some things that have occurred since that wretched week in February:

* I'm off my antidepressants. The memory loss was making me more anxious than the grief. Not entirely sure that my short-term memory has returned though, leading me to believe that it was the grief. Shit.

* I've lost weight. But I still could stand to lose about 10-15 pounds.

* Bella is potty trained. Well, 99.8% potty trained. Enough that the occasional accident is confounding.

* We have a new Dog, Buddy. This is one of those "major life decisions you shouldn't do during the first year after losing a child" (and hey, is that an urban legend? Has anyone run across this advice in a professional setting, or is this one of those things they bandy about soap operas and it works it's way into popular culture?), but we couldn't resist. Neighbors were fostering a dog that had been in a horrible car accident (threw hip out, shattered leg) whose owner surrendered him at the emergency vet once he saw the bill. We had been thinking of another dog for our 8-year-old Max (saved from the DC animal shelter in '99), and in a state of numbness and "oh, what the hell," we took Buddy into our home in May. The dogs get along famously, Buddy loves Bella, and more importantly, Buddy woke me up and made me start noticing my other animals again. Suddenly, I started paying attention to Max and my two geriatric cats to make sure everyone knew there was enough love to go around. Hey, I have pets! They're pretty great! Even my daughter began playing with Max again, much to Max's dismay as he stares at me from under a blanket wearing a party hat. I can say in this instance, this significant change turned out to be a positive. Unless you count the fact that Buddy eats Bella's socks and has destroyed numerous members of the stuffed animal menagerie.

* Big things roll off my back like water off the hippo; the little things annoy the piss out of me and make me ballistic. Drunk driver runs into our fence at 2 a.m. and does thousands of dollars worth of damage? Hey, whatever. Shit happens. Good thing the dogs weren't out. Less than a year-old fruit-adorned laptop refuses to respect strong wireless internet connection on any browser? (Might I say, internet connection so strong that I'm considering blogging full of typos from my iPhone, and I'm pretty sure Bella updated her MySpace page using her toy oven.) My eyes start bugging out and the profanity starts flowing. Soiled Bella underpants and discovering I'm sans quarters at a parking meter can reduce me to tears lamenting my horrible luck and apparent former life as a serial killer; the fact that Buddy will need major hip surgery in the upcoming months or that our ancient house needs a new furnace is met with a nonchalant shrug. Big Bad Things now have a definite threshold. Little stuff could use some work.

* I finally cut my hair and waxed my brows.

* Bella is a pro at death. For a three-year old, she has it pretty much down, save for a few charming embellishments. I told her recently that my aunt had to put a horse down, and she met the news with a tragic face, a pitiful "ohhhh!", followed by, "we'll never see him again." No, we won't sweetie, we won't. (Profundity was followed by some stupid-ass remarks about bringing him back to life with a magic drum, which I think she picked up from a Diego episode? Curses, you, Dora. But really, I think she gets it.)

* I'm socializing again. Back in February I really thought I'd never speak to another human ever again, but here I am, attending my first book club meeting, looking forward to a neighborhood brunch on Sunday, already thinking about the annual neighborhood Christmas Party which, by tradition, takes place in our house (it was a contingent of the sale, little did we know). Well, socializing with everyone but those with babies. I haven't spoken to neighbor with baby since a week after Maddy's death (I believe my last words to her were "she died,") nor cousins who had baby this summer (last words to them were "Where's Bella?" as I walked into the house after returning from the hospital moments after Maddy died in our arms). For some reason the holidays are imposing this false deadline on me that maybe I should reestablish contact with them soon. Eh.

* I'm blogging. I feel a bit about blogging like I do about writing poetry (or like Billy Joel apparently does about writing music): It's only good if life is absolute shit. Live babies, requited love, perfect flan, and terrific outfits do not good, honest, and intriguing blogging (or songmaking) make. (We'll just call it the "Uptown Girl Phenomenon.") I never really delved into the deadbaby blogs when I was on the other side, unless someone I happened to be reading (Cecily) wound up there more or less in front of my eyes. For a time after Maddy died, I couldn't bear to read them -- they just hurt too much. And then I wanted to know how on earth they got through it, so I went back through Cecily's and Tertia's archives. And just kept reading. And here I am. Still not sure how I'll get through it. But go we must, eh?

* There's a box on my shelf in my family room that holds what I'm guessing is a few teaspoons full of ash. I often look at it, or pause to say something to it. When we went on vacation this summer, I transported the box to my aunt's so it wouldn't be alone. I have no idea what I'm going to do with it. A year ago, I thought people who kept urns/remains in their homes were just the creepiest people. And here I am, CreepyMama. I'm not sure whether I want all that remains of my younger daughter with me, or scattered to the wind somewhere lovely where she can float amongst trees or waves or kids playing soccer. It's been a helluva nine months. At times it feels like 9 minutes, and others it feels like 9 years.


Julia said...

Oh, I so get the big stuff/little stuff thing!

Having kids who get death is so freaking sad. But it means this part we did well. I look at this as being an obligation-- given the crappy hand we were dealt, we had to make sure the living child got damaged as little as possible in the process. But it is also kinda like a bond we are creating between the siblings. The only one they will ever have, so better do it well, I guess.

I am glad you are socializing again. The babies are tough. No fair with the artificial deadlines. Boo! Hiss! I hope your family can understand if you need more time.

niobe said...

Much as it pains me to even slightly disagree with the oh-so-wise Julia, I'm not really big into creating a bond betwen a child and a dead baby. But (as I say all the time) that's just me and YMMV. So go with whatever works for you and your family.

I don't like these anniversaries -- one month, six months, nine months, so I've managed to pretty neatly circumvent them by conveniently forgetting the dates the twins died. When I read posts like this, I have to say that my refusal to remember seems an awful lot like a blessing.

Searching said...

I'm not sure what exactly to say on such anniversaries, other than I'm very sorry that you were cheated out of a wonderful life with your Maddy. None of it is fair. I think it's great that Bella has a good grasp of death and hasn't been turned into a futue psychopath. I see that as a huge accomplishment. You actually have quite a few huge accomplishments listed! I was surprised to see such a long list. That's pretty awesome, you must admit. If you manage to shower at least every few days and only live in PJ's 4 days of the week I would be impressed, so all of you deadbaby mommas have me bowled over. Kudos!

I'll be thinking of your family and saying a prayer for you and your sweet Maddy. If she were my NICU baby I would have to name her SweetTart. (Because daddies call their babies their sweet hearts). I just picture her as a sweet, perfect, silky haired, chubby enough little baby. Sweet for her disposition and Tart for the lot in life she had. Do you think that nickname would fit her?

In the midst of all this, thank you for taking the time to wish me well. It means a lot.

Beruriah said...

Tash you are a blogger who makes me feel like I don't deserve to blog!

Anniversaries are, uh, something. I'm not entirely conscious of them, but I find some months that I'm crabby or sad, and only upon reflection realize that it's the anniversary period.

Haircut and brow waxing? I could so use that right now.

Carole said...

I hear you on the big things/little things. It's something I've done since Joseph died, but I never thought about it.
Wishing you peace during this anniversary time.

meg said...

Tash, your writing and comments are an inspiration to me. I'm going to try and do a post on what's changed for me in the last 2 months since. I think it might help a great deal. A lot of what you write here I can relate to. Yes, not the dealing with the grief of the sibling...but a lot of the other stuff.

I'm glad you're socializing again. That's one of the hardest things for me, for sure.

As for Maddy's ashes...I don't know what I would want to do, as we ended up burying the girls. But, I'm sure you will think of somewhere nice to scatter them. Somewhere you and go and think of her. Then again, if that somewhere is to keep them with you...I think that's good too.

charmedgirl said...

we thought we'd find a place to scatter the ashes, and i'm shocked that i don't want to- i don't think i can. yet. maybe never. i don't know.

right now, every night as i lay down i see a gray plastic shopping bag on my nightstand and think, "my baby is in there." i can't get an urn, i can't let them go.

nine months- yeah.