Sunday, March 14, 2010

Chet Wants a Big Quarter!!!!

I love my little man very much. Sometimes he has a one track mind. Right now his track is stuck on quarters. He wants them in the worst way. To Chet, quarters equal gumballs! Chet likes gumballs more than he likes quarters. He will happily trade a quarter for a gumball. He will trade anything for a quarter.

Today he really wanted to Save the World! He needed his sister's red crystal hairpin to do it. She bought it at a rummage sale last summer for a quarter. As much as he wanted to save the world and as much as he needed the red crystal hairpin to do it, he just couldn't see himself clear to give up the quarter he had to buy the world saving hairpin from his sister. "But I need this quarter for a gumball" he wailed.

After much explaining on my part about equity, fairness and reciprocity, Chet came up with an answer to the problem on his own. He ran to the kitchen, pulled a chair up to the counter, and found Daddy's change bowl. In a spirit of generosity, he fished out two quarters, and used them to pay his sister. With the red crystal hairpin in hand, he ran into the living room, and was back within seconds, declaring the world officially saved.

This is typical of wealth redistribution in our house. Chet has no qualms about helping himself, and it eventually filters down to Grace. Sometimes she is patient about the process, other times - not so much. The rule at our house is any change found on the floor is free for all - finders keepers. Any change I find on the floor I put in Joni's piggy bank. Grace and Chet put their found wealth in their own special hiding places. Chet uses his sock drawer and Grace has a re-purposed sour cream container.

Grace knows enough to realize that quarters are best, but pennies, dimes and nickels will do the trick in sufficient quantity. Chet, as he just rambled in to explain, only likes quarters. They equal gumballs. No matter how many dimes and nickels he has, they can't get him a gumball out of the machine at the grocery store. So there you have it - the economics of toddlerhood.

Now, one way to solve the obvious problems with our household economy would be to give the children allowances. Then Grace wouldn’t have to rely on Chet’s thievery to get money, and Chet could have the pleasure of buying his gumballs with his own carefully saved quarters. Ok – honestly Chet thinks procession is nine tenths of the law. The quarters he has, no matter how acquired, are his because he has them. So I think the lessons an allowance would teach might be lost on him, and it certainly wouldn’t be as fun for him as hunting and gathering is. But Grace would LOVE it, and some of her excitement will certainly rub off on Chet.

To be honest, Grace having become big enough for an allowance sort of snuck up on me. She is nearly NINE now!! When did that happen? Of course she wants to buy things. And she needs to learn how money works for sure. For most of the last three or four years we have been too broke to offer an allowance. In fact any birthday or Christmas money that came her way inevitably ended up buying groceries or gas – sad but true. I don’t feel too bad about it though. I’m the old fashioned type that believes children should contribute in any way they can to their family. If that means sharing birthday money – so be it.  (More on that later.)

Chet just came in and asked me to print a quarter out. Quarters are minted I explained. “Oh Mom, you got a printer, just print a quarter out.” Seems I have a lot of money training to do.

Friday, March 12, 2010

What did I lose?

Glow in the Woods is my favorite babylost blog.  In the open forum called "for one and all" a post-er brought up the issue of collateral losses - the things that slip away from us when our babies die.  In this instance, the discussion centered on those things that we've lost that we wish we hadn't.  There are many things that appropriately take a back burner in the face of such grief - priorities realigned.  But those things aren't what this discussion is about.  I responded with the following post.  I have been thinking about this issue for such a long time, and I was happy for the opportunity to frame it in this way.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I lost birth. I know that sounds trivial but birth was important to me before Noah died (stillborn at term due to a cord knot). I had trained as a doula and birthed my second baby at home. I was engaged, on the periphery at least, with the women – doulas, midwives, body workers, etc - who make up the birth community in our small city. I was (am I guess) one of those lucky women who believed in natural birth, was able to have it, and felt empowered by it. I have never had a great relationship with my over-sized body – but giving birth….it just made me so proud – so amazed at what MY body could do.

Noah’s was a planned hospital birth because our insurance would cover it 100% and would not cover a home-birth at all and we just did not have the money. However I went to great lengths to find a doctor and hospital that would support my desire to birth naturally. When we discovered at a regular appointment that Noah had died and I would need to be induced, I wanted an epidural for his delivery. In the end I didn’t need it. He left my body almost painlessly without the meds I thought I’d need.

My husband and I were blessed to receive another life just three months after Noah left us. I struggled the entire pregnancy to reconcile what I wanted to believe about birth with my new-found unwanted knowledge that babies sometimes die before they are born – that my body wasn’t the safe place for my babies that I thought it was. I didn’t want fear to win. I looked for mentors – babylost women who still trusted their bodies and birth. That is how I found “Glow”. I hoped I could find someone who could help me see a way to embrace, even revel in pregnancy and birth as I had before, but I never did.

I had every intention of having a stare down with Death in my pregnancy after Noah’s, but instead I scurried around hiding behind rocks, under beds and in closets, trying to keep the Grim Reaper from finding the daughter I carried. It didn’t help that her pregnancy was the most medically complicated of my four to make it out of the first trimester. On top of that I was 40. Forty, babylost and lots of bumps in the road to delivery day – NOT a good combination to inspire strong prenatal mental health.

In the end I delivered our daughter in the same hospital where I delivered Noah, under the care of the same family practice doctor. I was induced at 37w4d because Joni repeatedly failed her bio-physical profiles. My doula/midwife could not be there, but she sent her back-up and she was lovely. I birthed as naturally as one could while dragging around an iv pole and hooked to machines. It was an honest day’s work, but it was not the triumphant, healing experience I had hoped for. Our daughter – skinny but healthy, strong, gorgeous and simply amazing – has tempered my ache for her brother. But her birth did not heal the hole left in my heart when birth and death renewed their acquaintance in my womb.

I have been around here long enough to know that this particular brand of crazy talk really irritates some. I hope I’ve conveyed the distinction that I make in my mind between the baby and the birth. I would have done ANYTHING to get my babies here alive. I believed pregnancy and birth with minimal medical interventions was the best way to do it. Beyond that, the acts of growing a life inside of me and delivering her safely into the world are about my relationship with my body and my own sense of power – a perk separate from the real prize, but important to me none the less.

Now, almost 19 months since Noah was born, and 8 months since Joni arrived, I have little contact with my birth community acquaintances. I went to a natural birth and baby expo last night, under the pretext of buying a new sling, but really so I could show off Joni. I saw many people I hadn’t seen since Noah’s funeral. There were smiles, congratulations, warm hugs. It wasn’t the place to touch on hidden grief, but I could tell just by looking in eyes who realized it was still there and avoided it, and who assumed it had been replaced by the babe in my arms. If they only knew how I grieve still - for my son and for the shared faith that used to make me part of their sisterhood.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

International Women's Day

Yesterday was International Women's Day.  Some of my favorite blogs marked the day with commentary.  I marked it by changing my Face Book profile picture to one of a painting of a beautiful strong woman nursing her baby.  I have been reading lots of blog commentary on the baby feeding wars.  It makes me sad.  I'll write about that more later.  For now I'll just share some images that I find beautiful.

Pablo Picasso

Artist unknown to me.  It is my current FB profile image.  If you know the artist, please let me know.

Fiery Breastfeeding, Artist Unknown,

Mother and Child, Renoir

Yashoda Breastfeeding, Mysore Traditional Art Krishna

Madonna and Child, Leonardo da Vinci

The Divine Mother (closeup), Michelle Levy

 Tender Hands, Diana Moses Botkin

Young Mother Feeding Her Baby, Lepicier

 Mother Jeanne Nursing Her Baby, Mary Cassatt

Joninah Louise, Seven Months

Monday, March 8, 2010

Long winded

In the last three weeks my beloved has spent nearly $500 and at least 4 precious work days trying to get a snowmobile going so he can get around in the woods to finish the acres necessary to meet his deadline.......and the snow will be gone by the end of the week. So it will cost a few more hundred, and more worth-their-weight-in-gold work days (ok not really gold - they are just really really precious), to get the three wheeler going - which will almost certainly leave him stranded in the woods anyway........ :*0(

I tried to post this as my status on FaceBook this morning. It was error-ed out - too many characters. That is why I have this blog that no one reads - because I just can't say things in a quick blurb of a few words. My FB posts are often like this - too long. And too grumpy.

In my FB world - everybody is happy. Unless someone has died, and then condolences are quickly offered, and everyone goes back to happy. Even if they are unhappy, and they dare to post about it, they try very hard to make light of their unhappiness. I did. Notice the "emoticon" at the end? Silly little thing, right? Well actually I am on the verge of tears.

Less than $1000 spent on necessary business equipment doesn't seem like much, but for us, it is. And I can not even begin to explain the cost of missing all these days of work. It is unseemly to talk about money and angst in public - but man I think I am reaching the end of my rope.

Ok, not really. All things in my life are now sifted through the filter of babyloss. So I get angry sometimes, and frustrated, and I often feel overwhelmed. But for me, burying Noah was the end of my rope. Anxiously wondering if the money to keep our heads above water - the money sitting there waiting to be earned - will find its way into our checking account...... well that is definitely middle of the rope stuff. It's all relative.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Human Mother

My son died and I have been transformed by the experience. I am better and worse for having carried our son, to have been the source of his life, to have given birth to death. I love my children more. It is difficult to imagine the mother-love that is intensified by death - but it is. Ordinary mother-love is more than enough to nurture a child. Baby-lost mother-love is the ordinary variety on crack. I'm not saying that's all good, and certainly not worth the cost to find. And yet I know now that I didn't really know the depth of my love for my children before Noah died.

And as I mentioned before, I feel shell-shocked. I don't feel like life is as safe as I did before. I feel less capable of protecting my children. I don't feel that our hard work and the force of our convictions can always keep us afloat or safe. I feel the pull of forces completely out of my control, conspiring with my own exhaustion to drag me under. Perpetually treading water, waiting for the sharks...... Of course Noah’s death was only one of the bombs that found our family.

So I am different, but I am still a human mother. I love my children beyond reason. My mind sees in technicolor what intuition only hinted at before - that I would give my life in a second for all three of my living children. I would do it gladly if asked.  But I am still a human mother and my kids bug me sometimes. They dump toys and refuse to pick them up. They fight with each other. They scream and have tantrums sometimes. They tell fibs and help themselves to quarters out of my wallet that I've told them 20 times to leave alone. Potty training has taken well over a year.  And I'm tired. So sometimes I feel frustrated. Sometimes - perhaps even most of the time - I feel overwhelmed.  And sometimes I raise my voice. And sometimes I complain about the beloved children I would die for.

Losing a child has trasformed me - but not into a saint. I am still a human mother.