Almost a Year…

I was apprehensive about the pregnancy from almost the beginning, but not enough so that it overshadowed my absolute joy to be having a child with the love of my life. For the first time, it felt as if I was in the healthy, loving and supportive relationship that I had always longed for. I was absolutely in love and we were building a family together. We had 3 amazing kids between us already from previous marriages and things were falling into place seamlessly.

The pregnancy was a gift we never thought we’d be blessed with. My partner had received some serious treatments for a life threatening illness 3 years prior and was told at that point that he’d be sterile. He was upfront about it from the beginning and I was fine with it. I’d had my son, who was a miracle in his own right (for other reasons), and I felt satisfied with my role as a Mother to him and now a Step Mother to 2 amazing kids.

Then one night, while he was at work and the kids were asleep, I began to experience the most piercing pain in my back and abdomen that I’d ever felt. Stubborn as I am, I knew it wasn’t something that should be taken lightly, so I called him, he rushed home and took me immediately to the hospital.

When I got in to see a Doctor, the first question that I was asked, as every woman of age knows, is whether there was a chance I was pregnant. Of course not! It wasn’t even possible with treatments my better half had years before. They did blood work, took x-rays, fed me IV fluids but they couldn’t find any sign of the kidney stones they suspected were causing the pain. Out of habit, the Doctor ordered a pregnancy test with my blood work. As he was discharging me and the words “it’s likely a stone that is traveling in an area we just can’t see at the moment” were coming from his mouth, his eyes darted over the results that had just come back and they began to widen.

“How long have you had your period for now?” He asked. I was menstruating at the time all this happened.

“Um…a few days.” I replied, a question in my tone.

“Well, it looks as if you were, in fact, pregnant, but that you are miscarrying. I’m sorry about that.”

That was all he said before walking out of the room. He didn’t even make eye contact. He didn’t even miss a step in his stride as he hurried out of the room. We were left there, stunned. How could that even be possible? We looked at one another, first a surprised smile at what was impossible suddenly being possible, followed by the sinking realization of that new possibility slipping away in front of us.

This was how we found out that my partner was in fact fertile. What followed were a wash of mixed feelings and confusion about what this all really meant for us. When we were finally able to put words to it, we both articulated how very much we wanted to create a little person together. It was something we had not previously entertained, but now that it was a wide open door, we wanted to walk through it.

A few months later, it happened. I was expecting. Our family was growing. We were going to share a child together. Just when we thought we couldn’t be happier, our happiness grew.

I did everything right. I ate right. I avoided things I was supposed to avoid. I took my vitamins. I drank copious amounts of water. I got my sleep. I rested when I should. I never missed an appointment. Her heartbeat was strong. Yes her. She was a busy girl, from what we saw on the ultrasound monitors. I could swear, even though it was early, I felt her wiggling around inside me. We aptly nicknamed her “Noodle”. She was ours. And we couldn’t wait to meet her.

We purchased everything we would need to welcome her, excitedly, even made sure that she had an abundance of clothes for the first 6 months of the life she would live. At 5 months, we went and had a check up with the Obstetrician. She could see on my face that I was worried. We had gone to get a non-medical ultrasound done and the tech was terrible. Not only did she shame me for my size but she scared the living daylights out of us. Though we’d been told on several occasions that the baby was doing well, she pulled my fiance aside and warned him that the heart rate was slow…which it wasn’t. It was on the low side of average but still average. It fed the nagging feeling I had. I scheduled an appointment with our Obstetrician the following day.

She let us listen to her heart, which was normal (and music to our ears). She even brought in an older ultrasound machine to show us that our Noodle was doing just fine. All of the blood work I had recently gotten done was exactly where it was supposed to be. This was a healthy and thriving pregnancy. Ours was a healthy baby.

Less than 12 hours later, I woke up in the middle of the night, a pain in my abdomen, blood underneath me, and the familiar feeling of contractions. I knew the baby wasn’t ready. I knew she wouldn’t survive. I shook my fiance awake, we gathered my son up into the cold winter night, and we sped toward the hospital.

When we got there, I stood to get out of the car and felt a gush of warmth flow down my legs. My pants were now covered in blood. I screamed for my partner, who was walking ahead with my son to get me a wheelchair. I yelled for my son to turn away. I didn’t want him to have that image of me burned in his memory. This wasn’t the association I wanted him to have of his sister, of the limited time she was around.

Everything from that point seemed absolutely unreal. I think I numbed myself a little, in part to make it easier on my partner and son and in part because my heart was shattered. While my love and my boy sat outside the room, 2 of the kindest nurses I’ll never forget held my hand, wiped my tears, while a matter-of-fact but gentle Doctor helped me deliver my tiny daughter. The blood was everywhere. Sheets were changed twice. The floor was hurriedly mopped, but even then, there were still spots missed, or where the mop was too saturated to sop up any more of it. My pants were thrown out, having been drenched.

I sat up. Tears rolled down my cheeks silently. While one nurse entertained my son, even though her shift had ended 20 minutes before, the other held my hand in hers, and with tears in her own eyes, said, “It’s days like this I hate my job.” She asked if she could hug me. I think I nodded. As she squeezed me by the shoulders, I began to sob. I will never be more grateful for a hug from a stranger, I don’t think, than I was in that moment.

As she let go, I asked if I could hold my daughter. They had put her in a kidney shaped metal dish, roughly the width of an orange and the length of a banana. Yet as tiny as it was, it was still twice her size. She was wrapped in a hospital gown. I suppose because it was the first thing readily available to them as she came out of me so suddenly.

I pulled away the top layer of fabric, and there she was. So still. Her eyes shut. I counted her ten tiny fingers and ten tiny toes. As my wet eyes poured over her in examination, I could see she had her Daddy’s lips and my little nose. Her underdeveloped skin was waxy and pale, almost alarming, but I didn’t care. She was mine.

I pressed my lips on her forehead and gave her a warm kiss. I cried through the apology I made to her, for not being able to keep her safe, for not being able to give her the amazing life we had planned for her. For the brother who was so eager and anxious to meet her, who never would. And for her other two siblings who were going to find out that very weekend that she was going to be added to the family.

There she was. Perfectly formed, not ready to make her debut, a thread like cord around her neck, the very thing that was supposed to sustain her…I have never felt so betrayed by my own body.

When I looked up, my partner had been let into the room. A close friend had come to pick up my son and look after him a while for us. The first words I could muster were “I’m sorry.” We cried together. For a long time. He held our daughter and I watched his heart break. We decided to name her Amina, which means trustworthy, faithful. Qualities we wished for her. I was going to nickname her Mina. We had, in fact, just decided on it two days before. The same day we purchased a framed Shakespeare quote to put up in her room. It read; “Though she be but little, she is fierce.” And she was.

When the Doctor came in to check on the pain I was in, I admit, I embellished so that he would give me something strong enough to knock me out, to numb me, to drug me up so I wouldn’t have to feel anything. I was too full already with sorrow and grief. It was the first and last time I’ve ever done that and I feel no shame for it . I didn’t have it in me to feel the incredible pain and heaviness in my heart. I just couldn’t. And you know, it worked.

It’s almost been a year. I still can’t believe all of this happened, let alone everything in between then and now. I’ve had to take breaks from writing this piece because the streams of tears were too thick to see through, but I know I need to get it out. Because my girl was here. It may not have been for long, but she was. She was born. She was alive. Not for long, only for a few seconds, but she was. And I, as her Mother, could not save her. It is the most helpless I have ever felt in my life. I failed to fulfill the most basic duty as a Mother to her. Devastated doesn’t even begin to describe how this feels.

There are no words that make this better. No condolences that improve on the situation and certainly no consolations. It almost destroyed everything I love. My relationship, my family as I knew it, and they’re both fragile to this day, but they survived and they are getting stronger too.

I am not the same as I was before we lost Amina. We lost more than our baby in all of this. It feels so very raw some days that it’s as if it happened yesterday. Although I have isolated myself a great deal since and because of this, I know I’m not going through this alone. I have had my support system there, my love, who walks this journey along side me, an unfortunate ally. At times we are islands from each other, but we come back to one another with understanding and a deep love that I know cannot be easily severed.

That is what I take from this. That my tiny daughter, not ready for our world, showed her Daddy and I the depth of love we are capable of giving each other. For that, I am grateful every day. Though I may not have been able to give that love to her directly, it is there when I hold her Father’s hand, when I stroke his hair, when I am in his arms. This is her legacy, that I honour through our love. It’s almost been a year now, and I have come out the other side, without my Noodle, my girl, my Mina. I miss you, Amina, though I barely had you. Mommy loves you. Always.

Dear so and so long…

Dear so and so long…

It’s hardly been 2 days since

and

the thought of your face

buried between someone else’s thighs

Makes me cringe a little

To imagine your mouth

Sucking at someone else’s skin

Burns my insides raw

And turns my stomach

I can’t stand the thought

Of never

Really knowing who you are

You never gave me that chance

It was all too short

Not long enough for you to know

How to spell my last name

And whatever it was

It wasn’t

When it was cut off

Cut away and

I only have a handful of memories

Of an us that never was

You were never mine

You were never going to be

Because you never intended to

You never gave me yourself

Even a little at a time

You never wanted to

You were never open enough

To give me anything of you

But you gave me back a piece of myself

Though you didn’t mean to

You probably don’t even know that you did

You made me feel beautiful again

Desired again

Desireable

Your wanting hands

Full with my breasts

Your lips pressed against my lips

In promissory words

Unspoken

Your flesh for my flesh

We said

You pulled away from me 

So soon

I might have given you my heart

You might have taken it

Here

Still

I am

My heart is mine

My heart in hand

Battered a little

Beaten perhaps

But a bruised heart always heals

And so will my bruised ego

I will take from this

However brief

Entanglement

The good

The passion

The words you shouldn’t have spoken

The ones you said you did not mean

The ones that you took back

So here they are

My 339 words

Just 339

To stand-alone as

A record of whatever it was

That it wasn’t

We barely had

Because we barely had a chance

You may have stolen yourself away

But know that

What you gave me back

You cannot take away with your absence

Ever.

And I am thankful for that.

Wendy M. June 1/2010

Dear so and so

Dear so and so;

When you left

I wasted no time

and

I washed away the stains

and

with them

the scent of you

and

I threw out the used condoms

that lined the garbage pail

and

I washed up all the dishes

from

the dinner, the wine, the conversation

the nervousness, the subtle flirtation

and

the lack of eye contact.

It feels like

I’m ridding the imprint we left together

on time

brief

comforting

one evening spent

til the morning after

and the blaring insecurity

the scrutiny that comes after

that has me begging the question

Am I ready?

I am throwing away the empty bottles

that we drank so easily

like we drank each other in

like water…

and

I’m wiping clean the memory of you

in my bed

in my home

and in my mind.

When I think about it all

it’s further and further away

as if it never happened

though

it was only yesterday.

There is no evidence of you

save for the leftovers

a dinner for two

it’s as if it was someone else’s night

I watched it on T.V.

when at first sight

there you were

a handsome man

awkward

at my door

and I

had scarcely finished shaving my legs

in wishful anticipation

it’s as if it were

someone else

that watched you hold her

with a tattooed forearm

while you slid yourself inside

moved your body

as she writhed

and

I wish I hadn’t washed my sheets

at least

for the scent of you

because

you were barely here at all.

Happy Friday Music V

In spite of all the public drama that has transpired recently and feeling soured about the social sites (anti-social) on the net, I’m posting my Friday song. Why? Because I fucking love music and I love sharing it. It’s therapeutic and inspiring in the way that it accompanies emotion like a soundtrack. I can associate many a great song/album/artist to a period in my life. I record my own history to it.

This Friday’s song is from a Canadian songstress, Julie Doiron. She’s a Juno winning artist with a very laid back sound. Though I may use the term “laid back” I don’t mean to imply that her music sounds as if there was an ambivalent approach to it, in fact, quite the opposite. I say laid back meaning the sound itself, the soothing vocals, her breathiness, simple guitar and uncomplicated beat, has something casual about it, as if it knows it was made to be heard and it simply accepts that for what it is.

We’re talking pared down, basic musicianship here. There is a small cast in her line-up. Most of her stuff consists of a guitar, drums and vocals which is rare these days. Artists often dress up the music with complicated mixes of the usual guitar, drum, bass but add to it horns, strings etc, an endless list of possibilities really. Experimentation with sound combinations seems to be a fad in modern music, which is not a complaint, believe me, but it’s a nice break in all the commotion to hear distinct instruments, standing alone in a song. And doing it well.

I take nothing away from her manipulation of the basic instrumentation she employs. Though it stands bare boned as a three-piece most times, it is simplicity that is the most difficult kind of music to make. It’s no surprise she’s an award winner.

Hailing from Moncton New Brunswick, Julie came onto the music scene originally with an indie hero Eric’s Trip in the 1990’s. They broke up in 1996 but have reunited more recently to tour. The song I’m posting is not off of her newest album, “I can wonder what you did with your day” but it is the first song that made me fall in love with her music.

It’s from the Polaris Prize short listed album “Woke Myself Up”. The song is called “No More” and is a fitting statement to end my High School-like drama filled week. It’s one of those songs that you want to sing along to. The lyrics are easy enough to learn, the message is relatable and the rhythm has bounce to it. The video is a rather cute encapsulation of the lyrics and only adds to her sweet irresistability. 

So bid a great big adieu to a shitty partner, a shitty day, a shitty week or a shitty situation with this one. Turn it up, give it a few listens if you want. You might need it. It’s a picture tearing, putting your foot down couple of minutes that you won’t regret taking. You’ll still want to be friends afterwards with this one. It’s too nice not to be.

No More” Julie Doiron

Happy Friday Music III

Yes, I realize that it’s technically early Saturday morning but, since I’ve yet to go to bed, I’m considering it on time for Friday. Don’t get all anal with me. I don’t want any messages about it being too late for a Friday submission. Tough shit. My blog, my rules and it’s still Friday to me. HA HA!

This is not a “happy” song perse, its slow, its simple, its mellow, but it’s beautiful and it’s a great spring usher for the grey rain clouds. After all, without them, we wouldn’t have all this lush green grass finally rising up and all the other botanical beauty poking it’s head out.

Patrick Watson is easily one of my favorite newer artists. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they’re also Canadian. He/They even won a Polaris Music Prize in 2007 for their album Close to Paradise. But don’t let the band name fool you. Though the man himself oozes creative genius, it is a 4 piece band that perform under the title “Patrick Watson”. It’s a name fitting of their simple yet  polished and dapper music style.

The songs themselves are beautifully crafted with a predominant melodic piano, flowing into ethereal sounds of experimentation. The notes have a way of moving their way through you, smooth, moody, lulling a sense of surreality. Add Patrick’s gently lilting vocals and you get something that conjures the era of silent films, bowler hats, white gloves, Louise Brooks and traveling by train.

This is one of those bands that, when you hear 1 song from them, you are instantly starving for more of their music. You will find yourself sucked into their intriguing and unique world which includes music videos that are startling-ly accurate companions to the music, a website that lends to a melancholic art-y feel and scruffy chic sleep-deprived looking musicians that will steal your romantic heart. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

“Fireweed”, Patrick Watson from the album “Wooden Arms“.

Happy Friday Music

It’s now going to be called HAPPY FRIDAY MUSIC because I just realized the other day that I ripped off “Music Friday” from a friend. Sorry Chris! I really only realized it a few days ago. Not that Chris said anything to me about it, easy-going as he is. Thanks for lending it to me just the same!

Today I’m throwing it back to 1993 with one of my favorite songs from The Breeders and their album “Last Splash”. The band was formed in 1988 by former bassist and back-up vocalist for The Pixies (which also happens to be my favorite band of all time) Kim Deal and Throwing Muses guitarist Tanya Donelly. Though the line-up has changed significantly over the years (Kim is the only founding member left) the band still continues to put out albums, even as recently as 2008. None as successful as “Last Splash”.

In contrast to her work with The Pixies, Kim’s group The Breeders are cheery and upbeat alternative rock. Having had the pleasure of seeing her in concert for The Pixies reunion tour I can safely say that she is a musician that gives 100% of herself on stage. In spite of being an enthusiastic performer, there is definitely a shy reservation to Kim that only lends to her intrigue. It’s still easy to see that she is one of the  “nice guys” of Rock and Roll.

I wanted to be Kim. She wasn’t all made up with make-up, she wasn’t over the top gorgeous and she wasn’t dainty and feminine like most of the celebrities out there at the time, well, even today. She was understated, she was different, she was Value Village, unkempt hair, no make-up confidence that I wanted so badly to also embody. She was ass-kicking, gruff sounding, grittiness yet still vibrant and smiling. What a faux pas back in the grunge era. SMILING. She showed me it was possible to reconcile happiness with strength of character without having to be angry. She did it with her music, which I listened to over and over on repeat with my Brother, but she did it with her presence too.

Every year when the weather starts to hit the high teens and twenties, Community Fairs start popping up like a new Starbucks. When I see the spinning ferris wheels and smell the mini doughnuts, I always think of the song and music video for “Saints”. It’s fun, upbeat, and like the song says “Summer is ready when you are.”

If you haven’t already heard the song or don’t quite remember it, be ready to bob your head to the chunky guitar. Happy Friday everyone! Try not to get this song stuck in your head when you’re outside enjoying the beautiful weather! I will be out of town, causing a mad, fine ruckus with my girl’s out for our annual Wild Women’s Weekend. Who knows? We may even put on the Breeders.

Swearing *may contain swearing*

Yes, on occasion, I have been subversive for the sake of being subversive. Call me “rebel without a cause”. The longer I am an adult it seems though, the more mild-mannered I become. I am less roused by the things that used to elicit rabid anger. I even find myself, on occasion, in the position of pacifier in situations where I’d previously been infuriated.

Years ago, while still in my teens, I even said that when I had children I would deliberately teach them swear words to use in their class rooms. My “logic” was that there were far more hateful things to say than fuck or shit or bitch and so on. (I still feel that way but I understand the offensive principle of using such words indiscriminately in public places).

I maintained that when my hypothetical child’s teacher called me to come for a meeting, sat me down somberly to break the news that my child had in fact, been swearing (GASP)! My, (again hypothetical) reaction would be to laugh and say proudly;

“Well of course little Johnny said fuck, I told him to.”

I even pictured in my mind how the meeting would unfold down to my body language. I would sit back in one of those tiny elementary school chairs, arms folded across my chest defiantly and smirk. She would be mortified. It’s then that I would explain;

“You see, my son could be saying far worse things that are completely acceptable in our society. Things like “loser” or “out-cast” or “cheater” and “failure” that have far worse meanings than FUCK. Fuck, in fact, is really an acronym; For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, is what it stands for. I have no problem with my child saying Fuck but saying something like “moron” is unkind and for me, intolerable in comparison.” 

I would be resolute, impossible to reason with. After a long exchange, she would agree fervently but, near tears, plead with me, afraid for her job. I would concede and be sure, for her sake, little Johnny never swore in class again.

I know you’re thinking, THAT would be EXACTLY how it would go. No, Child and Family Services would NOT be contacted because little Johnny’s Mother is apparently vaguely unstable. There would NOT be several future visits from a Social Worker to ensure I was maintaining a safe and positive environment. Sure. That’s what I’M thinking. 😉 But I’ve grown up. I know better. I’m not the little shit I was in High School.

One thing that I have yet to shake is my sailor’s mouth. I swear like there’s no tomorrow and I say disgusting, vile things. I don’t apologize for it, in fact, I’m sort of proud of it. Well, okay, I am respectful and do watch my mouth with people I don’t know and in more formal situations. But if I know you well enough, I say what is on my mind and I don’t filter it. There was a study released in 2009 with research showing swearing was in fact good for you. Physically, chemically and mentally. Validation at last!

I do it so much that I’ve been dubbed “Dirty Wendy”. I wear the title proudly. I just won’t be intentionally grooming my child to use profanity. These days, when my out-going, friendly little boy proudly says (loudly), the word “clock” (pronounced with a silent L) I am as mortified as any Mother would be. It doesn’t stop his Grandma from gleefully having him repeat it constantly. Thanks Mom.

Still, censoring myself in front of my son took some adjustment. Even now, at 16 months, I have to take care to choose my words carefully in front of him-I don’t succeed 100% of the time, but, I do most of the time. I’m especially careful these days though, as it seems my son is saying many new words every day and repeating after us with ease.

I’ve taken flack from my family about it and am reminded that “one day Liam is going to repeat after you” every time a foul word comes out of my mouth. I’ve taken a lot of chiding that I would be the person he’d learn a bad word from first. Even I thought this to be true, in spite of my best efforts.

Which brings us to what transpired this past weekend. When trying to secure Liam in his car seat, while fighting with the harness latches, my Mother (the person I take the most heat from about swearing), without thinking exclaimed in frustration, “JESUS!” I didn’t hear my son repeat after her, what I heard was my frantic Mother pleading with my toddler;

“Liam NO! DON’T say that. It’s NOT a nice word.”

Again, I couldn’t hear his reply, but I knew instantly what it was when I heard my Mother’s reaction.

“NO Liam! Please DON’T say that. It’s NOT a nice word.” followed by;

“Liam, that’s caca, yuck. Don’t say that.”

I laughed and laughed, actually, I’m still laughing. So, in conclusion, SUCK IT friends and family, he didn’t hear it from me! 😛