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from jen, at glow in the woods: We’ve all become much too aware of the fragility of life, regardless of what took our children from this world. I would like to hear how other babylost mamas who went on to have more children came to the decision to try again. How long did it take for hope to outweigh your fear?

i spent several days drafting an unsatisfying response to these questions, and then a few nights ago, between answering bitsy’s plaintive requests for lunch (at 3 am) and nursing boo (at 1 and 4 and 5:30), i realized this: my hope has never outweighed my fear. that perhaps hope has had virtually nothing to do with getting bitsy and boo here.

this isn’t entirely true, since once i was pregnant with them i was pretty damn hopeful that i would stay that way long enough to deliver them, breathing and healthy, into this world. but i don’t think i had hope when i wanted to conceive after losing effie and mae. i don’t think i had to get over my grief to start hoping. (i had to get over it to start ovulating, but that’s another post for another day). more, though — i don’t think i needed hope because i had, instead, something more like belief.

it wasn’t exactly belief that i would deliver a living child. certainly i would have been a fool to believe this after effie (since i did not yet have evidence to the contrary) and even still after mae (when i wondered if i had something worse than my medically-diagnosed “bad luck”). i think i believed something much less concrete — something like more children were coming. i don’t know why i believed this — i’m not generally the believing type — but somehow, for some reason, i believed. i believed that we would be able to conceive a viable child-to-be, and that that baby could live.

it wasn’t rational, this belief. it wasn’t spiritual, or even what you might call heart-felt. it was more like knowing something, oh, i don’t know…like the sun would rise, or winter would be cold. that very basic, maybe even primal knowledge: it was going to happen. whether i willed it, hoped for it, or fought it: it was going to happen.

many years ago mac and i bought our first car. new to us, she was an eleven-year-old brown beauty, sitting quietly on the dealer’s lot, outshone by her newer, snazzier car-lot companions. from the dealer’s office i looked out into the lot over to the section of used cars we could afford, saw this car, and told mac under my breath “that’s our car.” he gave me this look, a kind of “seriously,woman, what are you thinking?” look, but he agreed to take the car for a test drive. within a few minutes he knew it, too. this was our car. we took her home, and for years joked about my special powers. when i thought something was going to happen mac would smile at me and ask “like the car?” i could usually say yes or no. and if i said “yes,” i was almost always right.

the whole baby thing was a little like that. certainly not that i had special powers — god knows i would have used them to keep effie and mae with us — but that i just knew. more kids were coming. and now, here they are, my little bitsy & boo, and now that they are here? i am full of hope for their futures.


i complain a lot lately that i never get to be alone with my thoughts. so you’d think when i do get that chance i’d make the most of it, yes? no. in true scribblette fashion, i make the worst of it.

i first noticed this habit during my bout with grief therapy after effie died. i was supposed to be working on being mindful–and i suppose i was, for what i discovered is that when quiet, my mind goes to bleak places. its favorite pastime is to script imaginary conversations with women from whom, or toward whom, i feel something negative: resentment, judgment, jealousy, you name it. so i would find myself washing dishes, staring out the kitchen window, thinking about the wife of a friend and how hatefully condescending she is. or in the shower, hot water beating blissfully on my neck and back, conjuring a judgmental mother-in-law’s opinions on my housekeeping skills (never my strength) or my cooking (no longer such a joy) or my general demeanor (getting blacker by the minute).  it was nice to realize that i had a habit of imagining people and their personalities and that i could quit mistaking my imagination for fact; good, too, to realize that this habit might not be such a good one.

but then a lotta life happened and i found myself far too busy to be alone with my thoughts, since every waking moment was taken up with a new baby, or a big move, or a new job, or a new house, or a new pregnancy, or another new baby, or yet another new baby….and there was so much busy-ness in my brain that i couldn’t really take deep breaths (literal or figurative ones) and, as a result, things seemed kinda quiet. but only because i didn’t have psychological space for imaginary insults. (wow. i could get nostalgic over that one.)

unfortunately, lately i find myself back in that place. i am desperate for even 10 minutes to shower by myself, but then when i get those 10 minutes i spend them beating myself up. i expect the worst from everybody, i assume that innocuous or even genuinely curious questions are somehow veiled passive-aggression….and i don’t know why. i don’t know what i’m processing, but it’s obviously a doozy.

i’m not usually one to get emotional around the holidays. but now that i’m thinking about this, sure, my bleakness could be the result of the yo-yo that has been this holiday time in my recent past: in december 2004 i was pregnant. for most of december 2005 i was a grieving mother, and then on december 24th i found out i was pregnant with bitsy, making me a grieving, anxious, and hormonal mother. in december 2006 bitsy was here, and still new, and the world was a glorious place. in december 2007 we were in a new house in a new city in a new state and were mourning mae’s recent death. and now, in december 2008, boo is here.

huh. come to think of it, maybe that *is* enough to send a girl spinning.

spinning or not, i need to reclaim my mental space and adjust this bad habit, before i make everybody in what’s left of my world a miserable wreck — either in my imagination or worse, for real.

(what follows is not sanctioned medical advice, just the experience of one lone bfing mama):

this is me, joining the chorus of voices singing the praises of galactologues. since i started with the fenugreek i’ve continued to take it, even with the addition of domperidone. i’m taking 12-16 pills of 610 mg strength per day, i smell like a pile of pancakes (and so, occasionally, does boo)  and even before starting the domperidone i’d seen my milk increase. so huzzah and hurrah for fenugreek.

so, too, for domperidone. and my advice? if you order it without a prescrption, order it through InHouse Pharmacy rather than through 1DrugStoreOnline (both resources, and more, can be found here.) it may very well be the boojie in me, but i’ve ordered from both and am far more comfy with IHP. for starters, they’re not afraid to list what they’ve sold on your credit card bill: it shows up as “internet medicine.” not so with 1DSO, which lists one of several totally unrelated possibilities; mine was “media epay, Bangkok.” so that’s a little weird.

then there is the packaging. my media epay package was a brown envelope cushioned with miniature-bubble wrap and a postmark from thailand; the pills are in foil pouches inside of that, with the name of the medicine and the pharmacy printed on the foil. i didn’t think twice about that presentation, until i received the internet medicine package — in a box rather than an envelope, with smaller boxes of packaged medicine inside. now, i’m not quite loopy enough to believe that packaging is any kind of indicator of quality, especially since the (arguably unnecessary) smaller boxes of 100 pills (3 such boxes in my order) could also be conceived as simply a waste of green resources. still, i somehow felt better buying online meds from a pharmacy that sent boxes of meds that looked innocent enough to come off of any grocer’s shelves, and who, more than anything else, didn’t seem to be hiding anything.

lastly, the names. not of the online pharmacy, but of the drug and the pharmaceutical company that makes it. several resources list the pharmacy that makes the drug as “Jansenn Claag.” scary, then, when the pharmaceutical company’s name pops up as “Janssen-Cilag.” when i saw this at 1DSO i was certain that the typo was the fault of their own site, and worried (rightly so, i believe) that a company who won’t list its wares on your bill of sale and who misspells the name of the product’s maker were suspect. but then IHP also lists “Janssen-Cilag” and lo and behold the drugs themselves list “Janssen-Cilag.” turns out the breastfeeding sites — jack newman’s, breastfeeding online, etc. — are the mistaken ones here. (if i’m wrong, i’d love to be corrected — i’d love to make sure i have this information straight.) and if my cursory internet searches are to be trusted (itself a question, remember) then this JC group is reliable. sure, their presence is not strong in the u.s., but that can hardly be counted against them now, can it?

the question remains why i ordered “motilium (brand)” from 1DSO but received “motilium-m (generic)” instead. no matter; it didn’t seem to hurt. and i’ve now got the designer rather than generic pills, i’m taking the appropriate dose (3 pills, 3x/day), and my milk has increased above the levels achieved by mere fenugreek alone.

all of which is to say: obviously take the age-old advice to fix bf problems first: work on baby’s latch, nurse the baby long enough, etc etc. but when a girl and her babes need an extra boost, don’t be afraid of the supplements. in my experience (and highly unmedical opinion), they can be a family’s best friend.

one of my friends jokes that we are the type of academics our students most mock: those who sit around and actually think being smart is fun. and he’s right, really; he recently corrected my use of desultory, which led to a long conversation about how, and why, none of us can ever remember the correct meaning of “non-plussed.”  what a grand old time we had with that one. i learned what “peruse” means when i couldn’t figure out the answer to a clue in a nyt crossword: “to study deeply,” i announced to a room of phds, is not synonymous with “peruse.” ahem. apparently, it is. of all of us, mac actually took latin and so has a quick and facile (and usually accurate) brain for etymology. if language nerdiness had been a major, we all would have signed up. and taken extra credits.

when we’re not correcting each others’ usage we’re being “deep” about books.  we rarely have the “hey what’re you reading these days” kinda talk, either. instead we have the more heady (and to us, at least, more seductive) “you know, every time i teach pride & prejudice i try to get my students to help me understand why darcy is like he is,” or “anse bundren is the most evil character in all of literature” kinda talk. “hmmm,” one of us recently mused, “who among us is most like anse bundren?” now really: who sits around deciding which member of their group is most like the most evil character in all of literature? and has fun doing it?

all of which to say: aside from having post-preggo brain (“words are not my friends,” i frequently announce into the embarrassed silence when i can’t finish a sentence), i’m a little embarrassed that i’m not reading much these days. or that when i do read it’s not heady stuff.

it’s not that i couldn’t be that reader right now (at least this is what i tell myself). the summer after effie died i chose the strange distraction of reading some of the classics i had put off in graduate school, including those that had been on my reading or even exam lists, EVEN moby dick, which i have always been proud of NOT having read. ulysses. the inferno. all the faulkner in our house (which turned out to be quite a bit; i have since developed a twisted attraction to the f***ed up south, as i fondly call it). anyway: it was a great exercise in discipline and a fine way to recover some sense of an earlier, not-quite-so-sad version of myself. 

and a self that turned an unexpected corner, away from the nyt’s top-100 list (i can’t even begin to guess what will be on it for 2008) and toward my very own bookshelves, shelves that mac and i have blended and merged over more than a decade until they are about half-full of things i’ve never read. and should read. and so, now, do.

and this turn has taken into me into one of mac’s favorite genres: non-fiction. i loved loved loved “the professor and the madman,” so much so that i daily ponder the goings-on at ye olde OED and wonder, wistfully, if i’ll ever have my own tin shed in the backyard where i can sit all day and write. just a few nights ago i finally finished what has turned into my epic read of the fall: david simon and ed burns’s “the corner.” i am shocked at how much i loved this book — although perhaps i shouldn’t be, given how much it reads like a novel — and moreover, i am now convinced that i need to go to baltimore. more specifically, to baltimore’s ghettos. and even more specifically, to the drug corners.

i am hypnotized by this prospect. i have this half-baked notion that i could go to the fayette strip and would recognize folks from the book — ridiculous, given that some of them were junkies 10 years ago and are dead now, or that others have cleaned up and moved on out. mostly, i am enchanted by the belief that i could walk through the ‘hood — the shooting galleries, the open-air markets — and be emotionally engaged but physically unharmed. it’s a strange feeling, and i have to remind myself that that’s how stupid tourists get themselves killed.

much safer, then, to rent (or buy — ’tis the season for shopping, after all) hbo’s “the wire,” which is based on “the corner.”  the drama of the tv series is so large — stringer bell and avon barksdale are such lush, layered characters, and their dramas are the dramas of the kingpins — that it’s easy not to pay much attention to what’s happening on the street. in the background. it’s in the background, i think, that the life so richly detailed in “the corner” is visible: the daily life of mothers and sons and babies wandering to the corner, of touts shouting their wares, of slingers and stick-up boys. i want to see the underside of those stories in ways i wasn’t able to see them before.  i feel like i watched all of the wire and somehow missed that this was the story. 

i never thought that a book would send me to watch t.v. but there it is. sounds like a nice way to spend christmas vacation.

for years i have lusted after la canadienne boots. but they are pricey, and i have always felt that i couldn’t splurge in quite that way on myself.

now i find that i need to replace every. last. pair. of shoes i own. seems my feet have spread a bit, not enough to measure “wide,” but enough that the size i’ve worn for the last 20 years is now too small. and that is alotta shoes that gotta go.

one pair in, one pair out, mac suggests. and since it’s december, boots were the first in. my first la canadiennes. and can i just say? from the knees down, i look good.  damn.

December 2008
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Your Word is "Why"
You see life as complicated and intriguing. The only thing you know for sure is that you haven't figured it all out yet. You question everything and believe very little. And whatever you believe is likely to change. You are interested in theories, philosophies, and religions...even if you don't buy into any of them. You are also fascinated by how things work. You'd like to understand as much in the world as possible.

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