Monthly Archives: July 2007

I forgot the calm

In the midst of yesterday’s drama I forgot the latter half of the previous title.

Somebody has been tickling me from the inside, a lot. Kind of distracting, but definitely nice.

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Invisible Omniscience and a Return to Calm

I’ve been complaining to Josh and a couple of friends about my grief groupie for a few weeks now but more about just the aggravation involved in deleting a barrage of emails from my inbox than any real awareness that it might be harassment. I assume she means well. The next few weeks will be the test I suppose. Will she disappear, or will the attempts to get my attention escalate? I stopped responding quite a while ago, but noticed last week that two “thinking of you” e-cards had made their way into my spam box. On my blog, I deleted a few comments I thought were really inappropriate, but within minutes they were reposted. I considered blocking her but I checked into it and it’s an unsurmountable problem because we connect to the internet using the same networks, and the addresses are always renewing. I could end up blocking myself. I can of course block her emails but at this point I want to know if she’s trying to pursue me.

But this post isn’t supposed to just be a continuing rant about her. It’s that, I didn’t even realize how profoundly she was affecting me until yesterday. I wanted to post a vague rant about my desire to end a long day with a margarita, but I thought, “Oh wait, she’s totally going to misunderstand that and will fill my inbox with warnings about FAS.” Then I thought I would post about how hopeful me looked at bassinets at a used baby stuff store the other day, and I got nervous that she’d start “shopping around” for me herself. And the next thing I knew, Josh simply asked why I was quiet and I started crying that I feel as if I’m living in a panopticon. As in a Benthamite one.

Panopticon

In the Benthamite prison – very few of which were ever built – the prison cells are arranged around a central observation deck or point. Observers, guards, can see them, but the prisoners themselves cannot tell if they are being observed. It seems that, in choosing to be so public with my grief, I put myself in a virtual panopticon. I didn’t mind, being observed in my grief. Not by strangers, anyway. Or by any reader or friend that’s at least willing to acknowledge that s/he is out there. The others, however, have made me feel that they’ve turned my grief into a spectacle.

Grief Groupie

Edited to add: Actually, hold off for a bit on linking to me. As Julia pointed out, I don’t know if she’ll go looking again. I’m hoping that if I just post that I’m not blogging anymore, she’ll just stop reading and leave me alone.

Tell me. If you knew a mom whose baby died at birth, and who was currently pregnant again, do you think she would want to receive daily emails from you about the results of your random Google searches, or the medical journals to which she obviously also has access? Would you email her about a panda who miscarried because of progesterone deficiency and suggest that she show it to her doctor? Would you send her 25 years worth of conflicting articles about the success of cerclages? Would you email an article positing that eating 300 mg of fish (or some number, I forget exactly since I don’t actually eat fish – don’t take any of this crap as advice) a day will prevent preterm labor, followed up immediately by an article that suggests eating that exact same amount of fish will cause autism? Would you see that she mentions her family’s history of neural tube defects and send her study after study about how she needs to be on 4mg of folic acid a day even after she tells you she’s been on folic acid for over 18 months? Would you then send her an article about parents who choose to terminate their fetuses with spina bifida? If she mentions the word depression on her blog, would you then load her up with articles about anti-depressants and pregnancy? Would you send her gifts, including vitamins not approved for use by her doctor?

And would you continue to do these things for months, long after the mom tells you she doesn’t need the help, and even after she stops responding or acknowledging you in any way? And would you do this 6, 7, 8 times a day? And would you have started to do them when you’re not a parent yourself and you’ve actually only ever spoken to that mom once in your life prior to her loss of her son? And how did you find her blog anyway?

So that’s the story. That and the feeling that some real life readers are doing so more as voyeurs than friends. I guess the mostly anonymous blog argument won.

What happened

At least three times today, and many times over the past few weeks, I have wanted to post something only to censor myself because of the response I will get from a real life reader. Obviously, if you’re one of the three people I know in my daily life that I’ve told about this new blog, it’s not you. I’ll bitch about it in a longer post shortly, but I’m already getting responses so I wanted to get this up quickly! Feel free to link to me at this new address, as Further Records though please. I don’t think they’ll find me.

If I know you outside of cyberspace, please don’t tell anyone else about my new blog. Just go a long with the idea that I stopped blogging.

Thanks so much for coming back to me.

Nothing about the b word

Hard to believe, but such as the academic job market works we’re starting to get announcements for positions we could actually possibly take for the fall of 2008. Talk about external motivation. For the uninitiated, that means our letters of interest and other materials start coming due in October, and hopefully we’ll start having interviews in the winter. I’m hoping lots of places will start calling sometime after late December, but not before.

As things go, it’ll be difficult for Josh and I to find jobs in the same city on our first try. So imagine how excited we were to see that a university actually has two positions – one for an Amer.icanist and the other for a Russ.ianist. It’s in Hal.ifax, Nova Scotia and as we’ve been prematurely looking at the city, it’s starting to actually look like a fabulous place to live. I’ve always been a closet Canadaphile. In case any one who reads this would have a clue (or at least a better one than we can find in our online research), I thought I’d ask one of our more burning questions about the area: can you grow vegetables there? From online maps it seems like as decent of a place to have a garden as here. And actually, the weather seems much more pleasant.

What are you thinking?

All went well at the doctor’s office. Cervix still just as long. That absolutely amazes me.

It was the longest appointment, ever, most of it spent in the waiting room. I think it was a rough morning for the doctor – lots of women in the waiting room and for the first 20-25 minutes we were there no one got called back. Finally, a woman about as pregnant as I am and her husband came out looking pale and shocked, and the woman said to the receptionist: “We have to go to Labor & Delivery.” I wanted to shrink into the chair and I wanted all the other happy pregnant women who’d brought their children to shut up, too. My blood pressure was 130 something over 70 instead of its usual 90/60 when we finally got into a room – that look on expectant parents’ faces and those words have a profound effect on me, apparently. How I hope it’s a false alarm for them, but I’ll never know, of course.

The first couple to finally go back was this pair I can only describe as ornery teenagers. She was probably further a long than me so imagine my surprise when she left with the initial prenatal visit bag. The boy was wearing a t-shirt that read, “Recycle old girlfriends.” I suppose I should just stick my nose in a magazine and stop being so observant in the waiting room.

Secret

So I know it’s going to be a bad day here when tears start flowing over the lack of diverse breakfast foods in the house. But it doesn’t have to be. These are the kinds of mood-affecting events I can control.

We’re about 22 hours away from the next doctor’s appointment, and I seem to be doing okay. Some uterus tightening and infrequent aching around the pelvic bones, but nothing becomes rigid and the pain is negligible (according to my pain register anyway.) The ache makes me walk a little weird sometimes or have to turn over slowly in bed and I definitely need that body pillow. Occasionally, very occasionally, I get a sharp pain near (I think) to my cervix. But all of this feels like no big deal so I think this must be the normal pregnancy stuff I’ve been hearing about. I’m still anxious, however, although not nearly so much so as two weeks ago, about what we’ll find out at the appointment tomorrow. I suppose it’s too much to expect that I still have a 4.5 cm cervix, but I’m not prepared to hear it’s 2.5 or even in the low 3’s.

I think my best coping mechanism so far has been my complete ignorance of dates. I like for time to pass, and weeks to flow by, without my counting them, or even thinking daily, “how far a long am I?” That’s why you’ll see no tickers on this blog ever. I was considering a Harry Potter ticker a while back, but even that date passed before I got around to it. I know vaguely that we’re in the 20th week. I don’t even know why people ask me my due date. I’m not thinking that far ahead.

I don’t want to make any plans, or create any new events which didn’t happen to remember after they’ve fallen through. I need to consider how I’ll cope if this pregnancy goes bad. And while I want people to be excited about this baby, I cannot conceive of speaking of it (very often) as if it will arrive. I’m not fatalistic, just self-preservationist. Optimism will not bring this baby happily and healthily into the world, anymore than pessimism killed my son, or anyone else’s. It might help other people cope, but what helps me cope is recognizing my own needs and limits. I can determine somewhat my overall mood – moments are more difficult. This baby will not have a mom who cries every day or is plagued by constant bad thoughts. Calmness. That’s what s/he and I seem to be aiming for together, and need.

I’m not doing as well with directing my moods as I have at other times in my life, but losing my son pushed me to the brink. Getting up, functioning, engaging with other people took effort. I’m a cheerful person. That’s a trait I somehow acquired, rather than earned. I don’t know what it’s like to be clinically depressed because I’ve only had the most momentary glimpses of what it’s like not to be able to pull myself back.