When You Chose Plastic Over Me

The first time I left you alone you were lying milk-drunk
against the soft flesh of my mother’s chest.
I had taken one of the samples from the changing table,
its color too bright yellow,
its compact shape too round,
its label screaming epitaphs,
“More DHA!”
“Better for brain development!”
“Easy on sensitive stomachs!”

I felt the pale mounds under my baggy, frumpy tee –
two sponges, ripe with nerves.
I showed my mother how to prepare the formula.
I thought briefly about staying.
I thought briefly about canceling my appointment.
I thought briefly about throwing my breast pump
and every failed attempt along with it
right out the broad bay window out front.
I focused instead on restraint.

And five hours later,
when my breasts roared with leonine intensity
and solitary arms ached to feel your weight in them,
I lifted you to me,
nuzzled you close,
and you turned

away.

© Laura A. Lord, September 2018


Thank you to MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie for their prompt.

Wishbone

There is a space right in the center of a woman’s breast,
stretching between her waiting arms,

that craves a baby. It aches to be filled with the
soft bounce of new flesh, the warmth of new life.

It was here that I felt the wishbone break and
suddenly Thanksgiving was over. Celebration was

tossed aside as I snapped apart and became empty.
The hollow of the marrow leaked a plague stain –

bright red between my thighs. The world was silent
noise, all scurrying and rushed, while whispers passed

and the nurse stepped back as I shattered on her table.
She said, “There is no heartbeat.” and I thought instantly

of a washing machine – the steady thwump, thwump, thwump,
and knew that someone had turned it off.

Someone had snapped the wishbone and I was all
hollow marrow and no heartbeat.

© Laura A. Lord, 2016


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Photo by Sarah Graybeal, Unsplash

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Birth

I came out like someone had dusted my skin with turmeric,
the bow of my mouth carved into a rigid scream,
my eyes – two angry slits,
with the thick purple cord pulsating around my neck.
It was as if the Moirai started out my journey with
the filament stretched between their wrinkled fingers,
ready to cut me out like a malignant lymph node, but…

untitled
Cary and Kacey Jordan, Flickr Creative Commons

They laid me into his hands, where he stroked my cheek
with tobacco stained fingers.
I was less than an hour old,
barely enough in this world to be an aftertaste:
the slick slide of emotion down the throat that catches
like it suddenly turned to concrete at the tonsils
and the adhesion becomes so strong you can’t just swallow it down,
you have to cough it up,
admonish yourself for the sentimental hang-ups
that come with the territory of fatherhood.

And someone let that shining filament go,
loosened their grip,
and let me live.

© Laura A. Lord, 2015


I don’t know why this collection of words from MindLoveMisery’sMenagerie made me think back to my birth story, but they did. Perhaps baby thoughts are just on my mind. I’ve been working towards becoming a surrogate mother and so I’ve certainly been thinking about babies and births lately. Either way, a big thank you to MindLoveMisery for the wordle prompt that inspired me this morning.

The 5 Stages of Co-Sleeping

I never tried co-sleeping with my older children. I was very scheduled, and so were they. I was terrified to let them in the bed with me. I don’t know what started it with my youngest, except I was clinging to every aspect of his infant stages knowing he was going to be my last. I’m not proclaiming that one way is right or better. All I know is that I’m on step four and I’m too exhausted to ponder the greater values of sleep systems for babies.

Excuse me while I drown my woes in coffee. . .

1. The first few weeks – Your boob is like. . .right there.

You’re nursing and he’s happily latching on every two hours on the dot. You, however, wake up every fifteen minutes to watch his chest and make sure he’s breathing, that there is nothing near his face, that he’s not too close to your pillow, that your husband hasn’t rolled over on top of him…You get zero sleep.

2. The next two months – Utter exhaustion.

Creative Commons: Lawrence Sinclair
Creative Commons: Lawrence Sinclair

You find that you’ve passed out for three hours at a time, only waking when he does to eat. Initial panic sets in and you feel around the bed to make sure he hasn’t magically disappeared. You check to make sure he’s breathing…while he’s screaming for a bottle. As you’re feeding him you think, Why the hell am I doing this? Then he falls asleep in your arms, and the crib seems so far away, and so you lay down for just a minute…

 3. Months three to six – Sharing sweat.

You wake every four hours with one side of your body drenched in sweat. He’s drenched in sweat. You change clothes, feed him, and lay down with your personal mini heater…which just plain sucks in June, July, and August.

4. Months six to twelve – Good luck, you brave, brave woman.

He can roll. He can crawl. He can use you as his personal jungle gym. You’ll find his preferred sleep position is draped across your body like the heaviest, sweatiest, drool-covered blanket ever. He will wake up long enough to burp in your face, kick you in the crotch, and then pass back out in a pile of the drool that’s collecting in your cleavage (or what’s left of your cleavage, because c’mon, darling, you nursed…we all know better). You look at the crib and realize somewhere over the last year it has transformed from that adorably decorated thing you posted all over Facebook to the world’s most expensive clothes hamper.

5. One year and up – Good God.

I’m sorry.

When Are You Evicting that Baby?

1509069_893607897324302_6571898719524823997_nI have no idea! But maybe you do?

It’s time for a new contest and at 30 weeks, what’s more fun than a round of Guess the Due Date!

So here’s all the stuff I’m sure you are going to ask about my pregnancy:

– The doc’s predict he will be here January 22nd.

– This is my third full term pregnancy.

– I have a history of going into labor a couple of weeks early.

Got your guess ready? Good, because the winners will get a free e-Book copy of the book, Loving in Shadow, by Ashlyn Kingsley (my pen name). One person will win the chance to receive a copy of my children’s book, The T-Rex That Ruined My Day.

How can you win?

The 5 closest guesses will win copies of Loving in Shadow.

The top (one) guess will receive the book, The T-Rex That Ruined My Day.

To leave your guess – just leave a comment with the date you choose! 

Ready?

Set?

Guess!

Mutant Babies and Free Stuff

Yesterday I had an appointment with the doctor for an ultrasound and blood work and all those wonderful things.

 

Yeah…it basically went like that.

babyBy the end of it though, we got to see baby and find out that everything looks good. Baby is healthy and active and looking just right for 12 weeks.

I showed the husband the pictures and he laughed and said it still looks like a mutant. I told him that he wouldn’t be very pretty stuck in water for that long either.

Silly man.

In his defense, the 3D images of the baby were relatively frightening (hence why I am not posting them). Baby will be beautiful…in a few more months when it gets here and we can dry it off and dress it and such things.

What?

You want me to be one of those women who “Ooo” and “Aahh” over little grey film of something I still need help deciphering as to what part is what of this amazingly ever-changing little being?

That’s not me.

I’m not even the happy pregnant type.

I’m the…give me my baby and let me get on with the mommy thing type.

It drives me nuts to keep saying “baby.”

I’m ready to say a name. And we’ve got names picked out. So let’s have some fun with this, since I can’t find out for six more weeks if this is a baby Lily or a baby Tommy.

I want you to guess!

Leave your guess in the comments below and in six more weeks all those who guessed right will win a free ebook copy of my newest book, Perjury.

p1

 

Empty Brain Syndrome

It’s been forever since I have really written anything. Maybe it’s the baby brain. We’re at 12 weeks and I can’t seem to make coherent thoughts on anything close enough to a regular basis to even consider posting. I’ve been doing alright with 140 characters though. Go figure.

 

I mean, I went to visit my mother-in-law.

Twice.

And took my car to the shop.

Oh and we celebrated the Fourth of July!

I hid a few things from my husband.

And ate a lot of food.

My son got me to watch cartoons with him.

Got a flash glimpse of what life will be like with my daughter as a pre-teen.

Oh, and I’m remembering all the wonderful things about pregnancy I tried to forget.

So I guess I say all that to say this…if you’re missing me come find me on Twitter! Right HERE!

She is Raging

Trigger Warning: This post makes reference to miscarriage, loss, pregnancy. 

RAO_web

I want to sit back and write something witty. I want to grab you on the first line and take you along some story’s path, so we can come out together at the end, holding hands and feeling quite proud of ourselves. I want to have words to give you, sprinkle around your mind like beautiful confetti.

But I don’t have it today.

I’ve got nothing to give.

I think all in all I’ve been handling this well. I mean, by the definition of “well” that everyone around me uses.

“Oh, she’s good.”

“She’s fine.”

“You look well.”

She’s not good. She’s staring at her Facebook and seeing post after post of baby bumps and nurseries and baby showers and count downs and newborn photos. She’s not good, because she’s angry and she’s jealous. It’s not that she isn’t happy for them. It’s not that she doesn’t wish them the best. She just wishes she had what they do. She wants in on that little world again.

She’s not fine. She’s standing in the checkout and people keep opening their mouths.

“How far along are you now?”

“You’re barely even showing.”

“How’s baby doing?”

When are you do?”

And so she has to say that the baby is gone, again and again and again. The words stick in her throat and she’s choking on them, bending over to let them fall out of her mouth with a delicate thud. She’s not fine and she’s sick with speaking of it.

She looks well. She lost what weight she’d gained and she has more energy. The pregnancy had made her so sick. She looks healthy again. There is color in her cheeks and her hair has regained its bounce. She gets dressed a little more often. She paints her face. She crawls into bed with her husband, aching and needy and everything is back to the way it was and her world has settled into a muted thing, because she is well and so she is waiting. Waiting for her body and his to have that tiny moment of collision that will breathe new life into her womb and it terrifies her.

But she’s raging.

She wakes up and groggy eyed checks her email. Entirely too many messages, but it’s the morning routine. And she sees the words:

You haven’t purchased anything off your baby registry. Sign in now to get everything baby needs! 

So the company attached a coupon to ease the burn behind the idea that she is such a bad mother-to-be, she hasn’t even bought anything off her list. She has no crib, no carseat, no newborn diapers. She has no bouncing chairs, no teething rings, no footed pajamas. She has no formula, no Tylenol, no soft and fleecy blankets.

But she has rage at seeing it.

She has pain that sparks behind her eyes and they’d call them tears, but they burn hot streaks down her face and she thinks she could set the entire world on fire with her emotions overflowing.

She is raging.

And her husband comes home and kisses her on the head. He asks, “What’s wrong?” And she tells him, “Nothing.” 

And she pushes the rage back long enough to kiss him. To make him his breakfast. To prepare herself for getting the children up. It’s a matter of survival now and she can’t be the woman she’s supposed to be with everything snapping apart. She shoves it down, like a pill stuck in her throat. She buries it deep.

Congrats on the new baby! He’s beautiful.

The nursery looks wonderful. You all got a lot of work done.

Good luck at the hospital. You and baby are in my thoughts. 

Look at that bump! Any day now. . .

Click this button to unsubscribe from future BabiesRUs promotions. 

Click.

Herstory Lesson: “You are so brave and quiet I forget you are suffering.” – Ernest Hemingway

Weakened

I was asked awhile ago to write for Black Box Warnings. If you aren’t familiar with them, stop trying to look them up…they have since quietly faded out. Over the holidays the site went down, and so while I sit here with my thoughts on the wonderful people that ran that site, and hopes that things will get better for them and they can return soon, I decided to share the post with you from here. I hope you enjoy it, though enjoy might be the wrong word. I hope it let’s you in for a moment. I hope it makes you feel.

That’s what writing it for, right? To make us feel something.

So I wrote about feeling weak. I wrote about the moment when I noticed weakness in others around me.

I learned to cherish weakness, the humanity of that emotion.

huneliza-blackwhite-beauty-jensenax-pic-zbyszek-despair-black-and-white-tdtsad-mixed-sad-alone-women-lovelies-woman-beautifuls_large_large

Source

You tell yourself you shouldn’t say anything. It’s too early, and you’ve been here before. This isn’t a new ride for you, but you feel like you’ve been waiting in the line for it forever. Your body’s been craving this thing, this filling. You’ve been striving for it, every ounce of your DNA straining forward, as if it were just out of your reach. But you knew you’d get it, and you did, and now you hold the proof in the little plastic strip in your hand and the plus sign is bright and pink. It practically screams it’s a girl, but it’s too soon to know such things. It’s too early, and you’ve been here before. Besides, they used pink for boys in the past. It could be his son. It could be his boy.

It’s his first anyway. Just because you’ve done it before, doesn’t mean he has. No, he will be excited. He will be nervous and frightened, because he is a good husband, a good man, and a good father to the two mini-clones of his wife that run around the house in the early morning hours with an energy you both envy. He will be proud of you and touch your belly and hold you close for a few moments. He will smile and grab his phone and you won’t even think about it. It’s too early, and you’ve been here before.

His mother is calling you and you know he’s told them. He’s told them all. In his excitement he has leapt onto the digital rooftop and yelled out his news through the Facebook megaphone. You haven’t even been to the doctor yet, but you know, you know. Your body is changing, quickly it seems.

You are older now. Your body has grown soft. Your husband doesn’t complain. He likes the curves and the shape women call womanly, in that snarky tone of theirs. As if any one shape defines a woman. As if this is your definition: your broad hips that are soft on the sides, and the small pudge of a belly that never disappeared after your son had finished pushing the boundaries of your body and leaving the road map of faded white bolts across your skin.

You don’t remember how you told your father the first times. You should remember those sorts of things, but you think hard and cannot. Your father is a silent strength in your world. Words are scarce, but heavy. The memories you hold strongest are the ones where you saw him weakened. It seemed so odd, so out of place. It seemed so fake, that you stood there staring at that man and wondering who he had become, until you realized with a sort of bone-deep fear that he was the same man who held you when you fell apart and there you were, standing there frozen, while they told him his father was dying and you could hear him suck in a breath as if he were inhaling the world. It was a silence so deep before the break that caught in his throat and choked you. It sent you running from the room.

These things you remember, but not how you told him about his granddaughter. The little child he had to wear a mask to see the first time in the hospital. You don’t remember how you told him he would soon have a grandson, but you remember him in the room with you when you delivered. You remember saying, “I can’t do this” and him telling you, “You don’t have a choice.”

It’s that silent strength and you shouldn’t have said anything at all.

But you ran out, your feet scraping on the blacktop, bare in the cold frosty air that seemed to come earlier and earlier every fall. The leaves hadn’t even finished turning and the grass was still green, but there was a chill that seeped inside you and you knew it was too early. He was in his shed working and you said, “I have news” and he said, “You’re pregnant.” Just that, two words, and you both laughed. You smiled and he went back to work, smiling and silent.

You go to the doctor and you see the picture. It’s a peanut in black and grey. It’s a tiny little shape, like a croissant roll wrapped and fluffy. You see shades and a flicker that they point to and say, “Heartbeat”. Such a massive two syllable word. You look at your husband and he’s sitting there frozen, staring at the screen in some kind of wonder. He’s got no words and it’s that silent strength characteristic again and you feel at home and safe, even though it’s early. It’s so early.

You’ve been so sick. You’ve been living in sweatpants and your husband’s big t-shirts. You’ve had to battle with yourself and argue with the image in the mirror to make yourself want to shower, but everything smells bad and all you want to do is curl up and sleep. You are so tired. Your hair is a mess and you haven’t shaved your legs in so long, the husband laughs when he brushes against them. He drags you into the shower. He hands you a razor, like a silent plea to return to the woman he knew before. Something has changed in you, and you know it is different this time. You know it’s early.

His mother has invited you for dinner. It’s a holiday and special, so you shower and shave. He didn’t even have to ask. And you buy a new shirt and wear your new pants, because your body is soft and it’s changing so fast. You do up your make-up and slide in your earrings and your husband stares at this woman and wonders where she has been. You ride to his mother’s with his hand on your thigh, sliding closer and closer while the children are in the back and can’t see what he’s doing, or figure out why you are smiling like that. It’s a rekindling and it’s been so cold. You’ve both needed it for so long.

You’re on the porch later, when dinner is over, the phone clutched in white knuckles. You’ve never seen your father-in-law move so fast. He’s throwing your children’s toys into their bag, while your husband stuffs them in coats, and you are dancing in the cold while your mother-in-law packs turkey in a bag. You don’t even like turkey. And grandma is hugging you and telling you, “You’ll be okay”. Last year you told this woman you loved her, and she said, “You don’t even know me”. You felt sorry for someone who couldn’t accept a little love. Now you are here and you don’t want her to touch you. You don’t want anyone to touch you. You have to protect it and everyone is a danger, because something is wrong, and it’s so early.

If there is something invasive they can do, they do it. You have so many hands on you, inside you, machines that are beeping and blood being drawn. You have a negative blood type, so you have to get a shot. You know this. You know without it, your body will attack the life inside it, like a parasite it is trying to rid itself of. Always so quick to grow, in a body that wants to destroy. You start thinking, what did I do wrong? Why won’t it stop?

This woman, with her short hair comes in and you know, because her poker face is terrible. And she knows it, and blurts it out.

“There’s no heartbeat.”

You know it is real, because your husband can’t move. You are breaking into a million little pieces on their gurney. There is blood on your thighs and that thick, sticky gel on your stomach. There’s an IV in your arm, but it’s hooked up to nothing, and a bruise on your hip that will be there for weeks where they gave you a shot so you wouldn’t kill a baby that was already dead. You’re leaking out and he isn’t moving. Your husband. He’s sitting there and he can’t get up and you know it is real. You know he would come to you, but he’s having his moment. You are seeing him weakened and it frightens you, but you can’t run away and you can’t even go to him, because there isn’t enough of you left to stand up.

You are home and your father walks down the hallway. You’re in the living room, trying to find some channel on the TV that will occupy your children long enough to keep them away so you can save them the fear of seeing their parent snapping apart like a collection of wishbones. Your father, that silent strength. That man of few words. The one who once sucked up the world into his lungs and taught you how to crack. He’s there and he doesn’t touch you. He stands a few feet away and you are very aware that he doesn’t look you in the eye. You are very aware that you have switched places, and he is where you were as a child watching him mourn.

“I’m sorry about the baby.”

Ups and Downs

Today sucked. I mean, in most aspects…it completely sucked.

After a trip to the doctor’s, we found out that the natural route we opted for has not finished and we are not yet over the physical part with the miscarriage.

So…when I believed at least the pain was behind me, I realize it hasn’t even truly begun. It’s like walking around with a time bomb ticking away inside me and having to wait and see.

Will it happen today?

Tonight?

Will the husband be home or will I be alone?

I can’t go to the store. What if it happens while I am there?

Here, let me move that couch. Maybe heavy lifting will get it started tonight?

I should sit down. I don’t want it to start now.

So, it is ups and downs as I feel like Mother Nature is winging me around on her own personal yo-yo. It’s a pathetic Miley Cyrus on the wrecking ball imitation and I needed something to shift this pendulum in a new direction.

The dress. Not me in the dress...but this chic in the dress I now own.
The dress. Not me in the dress…but this chic in the dress I now own.

The dress came in. It looks this good in person. Better even, because it didn’t fit.

I ordered the same size, from the same company that I got my wedding dress back in June.

And this dress was a full size too big. I admit. Part of me was extremely happy to push it back into the plastic bag and prepare to ship it off for an exchange from Amazon. Oh pendulum push.

Mine.
Mine.

And then these came. It was like package heaven here.

And they fit.

And I smiled as I handed them to the husband and told him he could wrap them and stick them under the tree.

Because tomorrow there will be no party for me to go to. I will stay home for the hours, the days, the weeks this may take.

I will bake cookies.

I will wrap presents.

I will cook dinner for my children.

I will pack lunch for my husband.

I will fold laundry and do dishes.

And in a few weeks I will open a package with a kick ass pair of shoes in it and I will wear them for my husband.

And I will love him.

And everything will go up and down, because that’s how it goes.

So, I’ll lift my chin, square my shoulders and give the pendulum a little push with my gold toned stilettos.

I Love You Reason Number Six Thousand Four Seven Eighty Nine Nine

My son has a fascination with numbers. He hasn’t quite figured out how they work yet, but I’m hoping that this inclination towards math continues for him. It’s never been my strong suit, and I dread the years coming when he asks for help with his homework and I realize it is a math I couldn’t pass in college.

Numbers like six thousand four seven eighty nine nine and five two hundred ninety seven five three are the normal way of describing things around my house.

The alligator was ninety eleven thousand pounds old.

I weigh seventy nine two and three years.

It’s two thousand million six ways that way.

So tonight we had this…

Dude:   Can you get a new baby tomorrow?

Me:   No. Not tomorrow. Daddy and I are going to wait for a little bit before we try to make another baby.

Dude:   Like eleven seventy-five bits.

Me:   Like sixty to ninety bits.

Dude:   That’s like next this week.

And since we live in a home where everything always happened “yesterday” and everything is happening “tomorrow”, I realized for him, next week is forever. So I didn’t argue the point, or try to explain days and weeks and months. I didn’t mess with his little realm of reality and the small ‘bits’ of it he gets right now. I’m glad he asks me questions. I’m glad he knows he can.

Maybe he got it from the husband. I have to say, as bad as things got yesterday for me, the husband was his normal, dependable self…though inquisitive, to say the least.

I started having contractions yesterday, so we knew what the doctor referred to as the “big event” (terrible choice of words, doc) was on its way, and we hoped to soon be finished with the physical aspects of this loss so we could go back to dealing with the emotional parts of it.

Before I continue, the husband and I share an amazing quality: we laugh.

We laugh about everything.

We laugh about nothing.

We laugh about inappropriate things.

We laugh to deal with the crap around us.

We laugh to deal with each other.

We laugh when we are angry, or sad, or frustrated.

We laugh when we are in pain.

We laugh, because that’s how we deal and that’s who we are.

So yesterday, while I was curled up in the bed in the middle of increasingly intense contractions, I looked over and saw…basically this:

Once I was done yelling curses into my fluffy pillow, I began to laugh. I had forgotten that this would have been the husband’s first baby…It was the first pregnancy he’d been through.

He’d never seen a woman in labor.

So seeing me, having contractions and crying out in pain was not a good moment for him. He was literally pulling the blanket over his head every time a wave rolled around and would only peek over the edge when I got quiet again.

Which meant every time a contraction passed, I would fall onto the bed laughing helplessly at the big, strong man hiding and looking about as helpless as a kitten.

Eventually, the laughter stopped though. The contractions got worse, I was told to go to the E.R., I began hemorrhaging…The husband became less the frightened man and more the man growling in the waiting room every time someone’s name was called besides mine. He became the frightening man in the triage department when he found out there were no beds available for me, and they were going to have to give me morphine in some back room in a chair.

And twenty minutes later I’m in an actual bed, high as a kite, and fighting with the finger/pulse monitor thing they had on me, while he continued to get frustrated with me and say multiple times:

Put your hand down. Leave it alone. Stop it before you break it! Leave it alone!

And I laughed at him.

Because that’s what we do.

And as the night progressed and the doctor gave us a clean bill of health, and I was feeling better, safer, saner…I realized just one more reason to add to that long list of reasons I love the husband.

REASON NUMBER SIX THOUSAND FOUR SEVEN EIGHTY NINE NINE

The husband isn’t afraid to ask me questions. And so when he asked me to explain exactly what had been happening to my body and to the baby, I did. I walked him through the entire process, of what we thought could have happened to the baby, about how the body takes care of these things.

And there’s something almost comforting in that…in the breaking it down. I knew what had happened to my body, and while we’ll never know exactly what happened to our baby, talking it through was like lifting a weight. It let me step back for a second. It let me take the fear out of the situation (and made me wish I’d talked to him before the process had begun). It made me feel closer to him in those moments, when he wasn’t afraid to ask me questions.

And maybe he won’t want to talk about it any more, and that’s okay. I don’t much want to talk about it either. And maybe we’ll both laugh and poke fun at me high on morphine, or his hiding under the blanket technique. Hell, that’s not even a maybe. We will.

Because that’s what we do.

And that’s who we are.

And it’s just reason number six thousand four seven eighty nine nine why I love him.