Last week I saw Funny Girl on Broadway, which I HIGHLY recommend because despite the cringy plot (really quite bad), Lea Michele’s performance absolutely blew my mind to the extent that I’m able to earmuff the rumors that she’s a card-carrying mean girl/bully/everything I hate about people/society/the world. They’re only rumors, after all, and they’ve only been verified by every single person she’s ever worked with, so obviously filing it under fake news. *adjusts headphones of convenience*
Anyway, as I do whenever I see a Broadway musical, I’ve been obsessively playing the catchiest song over and over again in my car to a degree that is certainly diagnosable as a mental condition. (But seriously, other people do this blast-a-song-and-scream-the-lyrics-on-repeat-thing, sometimes actually acting out the words with dramatic hand and head motions, right? What’s that? Yes, but they’re 9? Kkkkk.)
This ritual of playing a Broadway song ad nauseum has pretty much been my MO since seeing Rent in middle school, and I’m always so excited when I get a new opportunity to be weirdly obsessive. It’s my (arguably sad) idea of fun.
But you know what ruins fun?
Especially Even the ones you birth!
It is rare that I am in the car without one of my half-pint humans nowadays, so my opportunity to blast a song and weird-out is limited. Sophie’s fun-ruining is more manageable. She’s only 1, so her idea of crashing the party is simply to scream at the top of her lungs until you start desperately searching the car for an eject button (to eject/kill MYSELF, guys, not the baby! Jesus.)
After 13 months of her car screaming I have developed some semi-useful coping mechanisms such as day dreaming that I am anywhere but here on Earth, tearless crying (also known as soul-crying, which is far less satisfying than classic, outward sob-crying, but gotta keep those eyeballs unobstructed because hello I’m driving a small child and SAFETY), and praying to a rotation of gods (I’ve now sampled all religions, and it turns out there is no god who will rapid-fire respond to an SOS emoji text).
But Sophie isn’t actually the problem, because her age/obliviousness and the above coping mechanisms allow me to at least semi-pretend it’s not happening. You think a 4-year-old is going to let you get away with that shit, though?
The fuck she’s not.
Me: (plays “Don’t Rain on my parade”)
Nora: “Mom, what’s this song about?”
Me: “A girl chasing after a man her dream!”
Nora: “Was this song in the start of the show or the middle or the end?”
Nora: “But why?”
Me: “Because that’s how the person who wrote the show wrote it.”
Nora: “Did the girl who’s singing write the show?”
Nora: “Then who did?”
Me: “I…don’t actually know. But I can look it up later.”
Nora: “But why don’t you know?”
Me: “Because I don’t know everything.”
Nora: “Does Dad know everything?”
Me (laughs): “Definitely not.”
Nora: “Why’d you say ‘definitely not?’ Why’d you say it like that?”
Well it took about 74 random password guesses (all incorrect, never should have deviated from my original AOL password, iluvfreddieprinze), at least 5 expletives (which felt great, because 4-year-old Nora doesn’t let me say the creatively coined “fuck word” anymore), banging on the laptop like a feral baboon and chanting a couple Hail Marys (I’m jewish, but I feel like Mary gets it?) to finally figure out how to log back into my blog site.
That tells me it’s probably been too long since I’ve written. Not great, since writing is my therapy, and the state of my mental faculties directly correlates with the frequency of my writing. Well, fuck. *pops Prozac, swallows with cold brew, simultaneously feels in control and on the verge of cardiac arrest*
But here’s the thing, guys, I’ve been realllllly busy.
Truth be told, since the last time I posted, I can honestly say I’ve never been less busy yet more overwhelmed. In this case, I’m defining “busyness” as having an actual, brain-stimulating existence– doing all the stuffs, working all the jobs, partaking in all the adventures, indulging in all the creative outlets.
Yes, I’ve been productive in some ways. For example, I made a human. Her name is Sophie. Eric helped make her, I suppose, so to be perfectly technical, I took what “we” made (a grain of sand– SOMEONE HAND ERIC A TROPHY) and turned it into an actual homosapien with limbs, internal organs, a brain and almost some hair (she’s now 13 months and still quite bald).
I did all this growing-of-the-human by waking up every morning, puking into a toilet, sobbing, cursing, returning to bed with the drama of an Oregon trailer dying of Dysentery, and then promptly puking again. And again. And again. And again! For 20 weeks straight.
There was a lot of moaning (the bad kind), sweating (still the bad kind), waddling (not the cute kind) and fun complications like gestational diabetes, hypothyroidism, and throbbing dental pain (yup, that’s a thing!)
To say that my entire pregnancy felt like an internal battle with Satan might be a tad dramatic, but when the doctors finally managed to wrestle Sophie out of my body with what felt like a jagged crowbar and a Dirt Devil Pro, and she emerged with the tiniest puff of red-tinted hair, was I surprised?
I was not.
So I don’t know, guys. Life is weird right now. Not bad weird, just weird weird, and I think I’m still settling into this suburban mom-of-two-young-kids life and finding my way through the Westport, CT jungle (I know. I’ve been here almost 3 years. For a marathon runner, turns out I’m quite slow).
Sometimes it feels like everyone else has a meticulously detailed map, and I’m just plodding along with my 4-year-old’s cracked Magic 8 Ball, kind of making shit up as I go. This is unsurprising, I suppose, because it’s how I’ve always felt in life in general. I guess this is just the Suburban Mom chapter in the bumbling memoir hero’s journey that is my life’s tale.
And none of this is a complaint about Westport (or my kids!! I obviously love the shit out of my kids and am beyond grateful to have them, but also hate that I have to point that out when expressing any weird feelings I’m having about motherhood, but some of you are cray so I’ll go ahead and cover that base– MY KIDS ARE THE ABSOLUTE BEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO ME, EVEN WHEN THEY DO THINGS LIKE LICK THE PLUNGER AND THROW UP IN MY CLEAVAGE).
I actually really like it here in Westport– it’s a phenomenal place to live (my kids better appreciate the fuck out of it, which, I understand, they will not), and I have met really great people. I just think that between our abrupt NYC exit, living a couple years in bizarro COVID Isolationville, having a second child who is very much a good baby (because all babies are good, of course! Of courssssssse. Settle down Gentle Parenting mob) but perhaps not the EASIEST baby (very screamy. Not a fan of many things.), and putting my career on pause to care for my kids full-time, it’s been a LOT. A lot of good, yes. But also “a LOT” in the most mind-numbing, tedious, floating-in-the-abyss way imaginable. And it’s left me feeling, at times, a little lost.
And I know one solid way to work through it is to keep writing, but every time I catch a spare moment away from caring for my kids, I find myself wanting to do nothing but zone out– do crosswords, watch The Bachelor, fight the dog for Nora’s remaining grilled cheese scraps, scroll Instagram until my brain cells bleed from my eyes, drink wine(s).
This, of course, feels good in the moment, but does nothing helpful for me long term, which I’m acutely aware of in the rational part of my brain (I call this rational part Anna, named after my therapist, who is responsible for all thoughts contained within it.) So I’m going to start listening to Anna a bit more. She keeps whispering that I should write, and that I’ll feel better if my swirling, shitnadoes of thought are spewed out into the universe, even if they’re messy and at times incoherent and probably not all that interesting. At least they’re mine.
So I’m going to write more. I bought Sophie a nice cage with a water bottle and an automatic feeder, and honestly, she really seems to like it. I figure if I throw her in there with a chew toy and bully stick, I can get a couple hours a day of solid me time.
But in case that doesn’t work out long term, I hired a regular babysitter. Finally. She comes a few days a week in the mornings, and I already feel like a new person. I like her so much that I didn’t even fire her when we were out in public together and someone mistook her for my daughter. She’s twenty fucking four.
Anyway, I don’t have a creative, cohesive way to end this post because as you probably noticed, I didn’t have a creative, cohesive way to begin or middle it, either. This was a bonafide word-vomit, and for that I’m sorry I’m not sorry. It’s been 2 years and just far too many thoughts are wrangling for attention, that simply taking the first step of logging into WordPress and banging the keys felt something like finding myself.
On Friday, September 11, in the bullshit, hellfire year of 2020, I peed on a stick and it showed a positive result.
Sorry, I should clarify– I peed on a PREGNANCY TEST stick and it showed a positive result for PREGNANCY. (Just in case you thought I peed on a popsicle stick or a yard stick and that the stick, as a result, felt optimistic. As far as I’m aware, my pee does not have that power.)
One might view this as good news, and generally it is (obviously), but any excitement I felt about the positive result was quickly overridden by doubt and worry because 1) the line was VERY faint and 2) it took four days after my missed period to even show up on a test (My mother, quite the Fertile Myrtle* yet from the Jurassic Era of pregnancy, did not find this latter point suspicious in the least, but we all know that modern pregnancy tests can now detect pregnancy SUPER early, often BEFORE a missed period, and almost certainly on the DAY of the missed period. And by “we all know that,” I mean that’s what happened with my last pregnancy and therefore based on that one situation once, it is filed in my brain under “Facts We All Know.”)
So naturally, I immediately googled “faint line on a pregnancy test 4 days after missed period and I’m freaking out.” I got about 78923392893 explanations, and 78923392892 of them were some version of “Every woman is different. You’re fine, Karen.”
But naturally, I zeroed in on the one article that mentioned ectopic pregnancy as a possible reason for this late, faint-line scenario, and my anxiety disorder immediately perked up and declared “YES. I’LL TAKE ECTOPIC PREGNANCY FOR 500, ALEX!”
For those of you who don’t know what an ectopic pregnancy is and who enjoy getting your medical information from this blog (not advised), it is a complication of pregnancy in which the embryo attaches outside the uterus (don’t worry, I cut and pasted that from wikipedia a verified medical source so that you know it’s accurate). The uterus (again for those of you who skipped 5th grade health class because your parents are religious, or for those of you who are Mike Pence), is the only place in the body that can provide a “hospitable environment” for an embryo. If the embryo attaches outside the uterus, it cannot thrive and grow, and therefore has no chance of being a viable pregnancy.
Reading all this on The Google offset a series of back and forth with my OBGYN. I requested an earlier ultrasound, because the soonest appointment offered to me was 10/14, which would put me at 9 weeks 2 days pregnant. That seemed an absurdly long time to wait, especially considering that my “advanced maternal age” (cue flirty hair toss)
and previous C-section automatically put me in the category of “high risk.” The doctor agreed to do bloodwork to ensure my hormones were rising as they should, but wouldn’t budge on the ultrasound date.
Then I found blood in my underwear.
Finding blood in your underwear is never a sign that today is going to be a good day. Even when it’s the “good” blood (aka your period), it’s a huge fucking bummer. So when you find the “bad” blood, you can pretty much throw out your chances of mental sanity for the foreseeable future. (What you can also do is take pictures of it and send to your BFF, thus solidifying what you already knew was an in-the-trenches-together-for-life friendship. Thank you again to that friend, and I’m sorry if you still can’t eat.)
I called my doctor and she insisted that it was still too early for an ultrasound (at this point I was 5 weeks 3 days), but that we’d see what my blood results had to say. My results came back the next day and showed that the hormones were increasing as they should. And you know what’s great about your hormones increasing properly during early pregnancy? ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING IF IT’S AN ECTOPIC PREGNANCY. Because technically, you are pregnant (just in the wrong place), so your body continues to supply you with the hormones as it would for a properly-placed pregnancy. It doesn’t yet know the difference. So a blood test early on will reveal absolutely zero helpful information in terms of discovering an ectopic pregnancy.
You know what WILL reveal an ectopic pregnancy that early?
A MOTHERFUCKING ULTRASOUND.
After more pleading (because I was not satisfied with the bloodwork results alone), my doctor agreed to move up my ultrasound to 10/6 (when I would be 8 weeks 1 day). I still found this unacceptable. She continued to argue that it was too early for an ultrasound (FALSE– perhaps too early to detect a heartbeat, NOT too early to detect an ectopic pregnancy), and it wasn’t until I burst into tears with the secretary that she magically found a way to squeeze me in on 9/30, which would put me at 7 weeks 2 days. I still found this absurdly late for a first ultrasound given my age, the suspicious faint line, and the blood, but not wanting to harass them any further and come off as a complete crazy person (big mistake- I should have owned my title as I always have), I accepted that date.
On Monday, 9/28, two days before my scheduled ultrasound, I woke up to more blood.
And about an hour later, I began experiencing cramps on my right side, which quickly devolved into EXCRUCIATING pain. I could not move from the fetal position. Not that the fetal position was even helping. No matter how I contorted my body, the pain was sharp, intense, and relentless. It literally took my breath away, in the absolute least romantic interpretation of that phrase.
Eric called the doctor’s office. My OB was not in that day (OF COURSE), but the secretary told us to go to the emergency room. We drove straight to the nearest hospital in Norwalk.
Due to COVID, Eric was not allowed to stay with me. So I would now like to add “Scared and alone in the ER” to my “Things I Blame on Trump” list.
They took an ultrasound. Fun fact: the ultrasound technicians are not allowed to reveal to you what they are seeing. I don’t know if they take some kind of acting class in order to hone the skills required to stay completely fucking stone-faced while staring at a pregnant woman’s empty uterus, but I gotta say, the Oscar goes to technician Cindy in Ultrasound Room B.
Bitch didn’t bat an eye while gazing into what I would later learn was the hollow, unoccupied abyss of my uterus. She didn’t show the slightest hint of emotion when I asked her, through a cascade of tears, if she could hear a heartbeat. “I’m not allowed to discuss what I see,” replied Cyborg Cindy.
About 30 minutes after the ultrasound was completed, the ER doctor reported his findings. “There are no signs of pregnancy in your uterus. The ultrasound shows significant bleeding in your right ovary, and we believe we see an ectopic pregnancy in your right fallopian tube. The bleeding and pain is likely the result of the tube rupturing, but we will need your OB to come in to confirm.”
He was perfectly nice and sympathetic when he relayed this news, but it didn’t stop me from wanting to light his face on fire.
They called my OB’s office, only to be told the on-call OB was in the middle of performing a C-section. She would get back to us in an hour. I stared at the wall and choke-sobbed, creating a list of reasons (I love lists) why this was happening to me. In true depressive form, they were all my fault.
In a not-at-all-shocking turn of events, the on-call OB at my practice finally called back to say that their doctors are not licensed to practice at Norwalk Hospital, only at Greenwich, and therefore could not come to consult. I would need to be seen by the attending OB at Norwalk.
I jotted down this hour of wasted time in excruciating pain as the final point on my “Ways This Practice Has Ass Raped Me” list (looooove lists), and vowed to never return.
The one bright spot in the story is that the attending OB then stepped in, and she was a lovely angel sent from the heavens. She had the (wee) stature, coloring, and gentle, soothing manner of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and I immediately felt safe in her Jewish motherly presence (she probably wasn’t Jewish, but definitely had that “vibe,” which is a positive trait in exactly one kind of situation, and this was it). Ruth Dr. M was calm and comforting, but also knew her shit and wasn’t going to beat around the bush.
She immediately confirmed an ectopic pregnancy.
Obviously. Of all the “this-pregnancy-situation-aint-lookin-good” scenarios, Of COURSE this was an ectopic pregnancy. Because in no other body than mine would the egg and sperm go through all the trouble to meet and merge, only to then be TOO FUCKING LAZY TO MAKE THE 5 INCH** TRIP DOWN TO THEIR UTERUS HOME.
Sperm and egg were like “Hey, you wanna do this thing? Cool. So let’s just park it, crack open a can of hard seltzer (this embryo was VERY white) and netflix n’ chill here in the fallopian tube instead of, you know, doing all the stuff that requires energy.” Basically the story of my and Eric’s courtship.
And I’m obviously in favor of the whole “meet-and-immediately-settle-down” approach but in this scenario, putting in one more tiny modicum of effort turned out to be necessary for the success of the relationship. They were lazy and they blew it.
So I had immediate emergency surgery.
The embryo had been growing in my right fallopian tube, and because it had grown to a size that exceeded the diameter of the tube, the tube had ruptured. In case you’re wondering what it feels like when an organ ruptures inside your body, stop wondering. You don’t want to know.
They put me under general anesthesia. They preformed the surgery laparoscopically, and removed my ruptured fallopian tube. The internal bleeding and inflammation was so bad at that point, the doctor told me I was extremely lucky that I came in when I did. I took that to mean I very possibly could have died, but I didn’t ask her to clarify. Even I, the masochist, didn’t want to know.
When I awoke from surgery, which took about 2 hours, I was delighted to see Ruth Bader Ginsburg– the ACTUAL Ruth Bader Ginsburg– stroking my hand and telling me I did a great job. She was super proud of me. I thanked her, then asked, “Did you come back from the dead, Ruth? I can call you Ruth, right? That’s ok? Or are you a ghost? You know what, it doesn’t matter. I’m just so glad you’re here.” At which point Ruth lovingly assured me that I was on lots and lots of drugs, and that I should stop saying words.
I stayed quiet after that, but only after asking her to please sign my water bottle.
Idk she must not have heard me.
I am now home recovering, and have been getting plenty of rest and lots of love. My mother-in-law arrived the day of surgery and took care of Nora for the following 3 days. My parents then took over on Wednesday night. They arrived with a full bottle of Grey Goose, 5 bottles of wine, and their own coffee machine. None of it was for us. Those are apparently the supplies they require in order to make it through a 48 hour stay in our home.
My respect for them runs deep.
How am I feeling? I appreciate you asking (you didn’t). I’m pretty much all over the fucking place (hence the choice to start writing. It helps.) Here’s a sample of some of the things going through my mind. Don’t worry, it’s just a pu pu platter. I won’t torture you with the full menu, as I haven’t even worked through that myself.
I’m angry with my OB for not giving me an earlier ultrasound, and angry with myself for not pushing harder. I recognize she could not have prevented the ectopic pregnancy, but she could have discovered it sooner and treated it with medication, thereby saving me from this hell parade of an experience and the loss of my tube. While I know you only need one tube to get pregnant, it’s sure as shit easier with two. Plus no one likes to lose an organ if they don’t have to. Not to sound like my terrible-2 toddler, but that was MY tube, godammit. MINE! I grew it myself!
I’m sad. While I never fully committed to the idea of this baby due to the anxious circumstances surrounding it from the beginning, and therefore can’t really say I feel a true sense of mourning (as I know many women do feel after a miscarriage, no matter what stage of pregnancy, and that feeling of loss and grief is always completely valid), I had still let myself get excited. I was thrilled about the idea of Nora getting a sibling– that she’d have someone to talk to, even though there is no one she’d rather talk to than herself. She’s so ready to be a big sister, and I want that for her. Badly.
I’m anxious. About the future, and what this means for the family we were hoping to grow. The fact that this happened to me once means there is an increased risk of it happening again. I’ll be 39 soon. I’m down a tube. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the odds are bad– but they’re certainly decreasing.
I’m annoyed. On a purely logistical level, this was a perfectly timed pregnancy for a myriad of reasons. That feels silly to even put in writing, but it’s part of the feelings shitnado, so there you have it. I’m pissed that it didn’t work out, that my meticulously planned timing has blown up in my face, and I’m overwhelmed by the idea of starting from scratch.
I’m hopeful. Somehow, I’m able to wade through this shitswamp and take solace in the fact that whatever is meant to be is going to be. I often hate when people say that, but I do truly believe it in this circumstance. In many ways, I feel strong. And I agree with Ruth– I’m proud of myself for getting through this (this part, at least. I know I’m not done). I feel a new, even deeper appreciation for the one amazing, beautiful, dynamic, hilarious child I DO have. I feel once again validated in my amazing choice of partner (not that it ever needs validation– I just enjoy being right), because as always he has stepped up in every way possible. And I have not-new-but-always-growing gratitude for my incredible friends and family, who have always been there for me, this moment being no exception.
But none of this is linear. I’m deeply humbled one moment and back to angry and sad the next. Then back again. The only constant is the steadfast eating of feelings. I would like to thank “snacks” for sponsoring this miscarriage.
My body still hurts. I am still expelling remnants of a pregnancy that once carried endless possibilities, and is now just a visual reminder of hopes dashed. I know I’ll get through it, but I’m still in it.
And it’s pretty dark in here.
So thanks to those of you who have provided some light.
Especially you, Ruth.
*”She got pregnant if I even looked at her funny!” – My Dad. 🤢
Me: “Oh, man. I’m sorry to hear that. But you know what? I think everyone’s hanging on by a thread these days. I know I certainly am. It’s just becoming too much, you know? Waking up every morning and every day is pretty much the same, with very little to do to get our minds off the problems in the world right now. It certainly creates feelings of anxiety, wondering when and if any of this is ever going to get better. But just know you’re not alone in those feelings.”
Kid: “Wait what? I said I’m hanging out with Fred. My cat, Fred.”
“Hey, so,” (clears throat, clearly nervous) “I was thinking…and I know this is a little audacious of me to ask, but– would you please consider getting pregnant again? Like, immediately? It’s just– the last time you were pregnant, well, those 9 months were pretty great for me. I finally got to relax and kick my feet up for a bit, you know? Rejuvenate. Catch my breath. Felt like my normal, healthy self again. But I’ve just really been working on overdrive since then. And now with the pandemic and your anxiety and everything…I’m just struggling to keep my head above water here. So you’ll consider it? Pregnancy? It’s really my only opportunity for a break. I know you need me to keep working hard, but I can’t keep going like this without some kind of respite. I’m not a wizard. And, um, I don’t mean for this to sound condescending but– you know you, like, NEED me in order to survive, right? Like I know you understand that in theory but it seems you don’t really follow through with it in daily practice. Ok ok sorry, my bad, I see I’m getting you worked up. I won’t get ahead of myself here. We don’t need to make any permanent life changes. I know that’s hard for you. Let’s just focus on my short-term, 9-month vacation for now, and maybe then down the line we can work on some longer-term goals. Cool?”
Friend: “So what’s your plan if school doesn’t open in the fall?”
Me: “Oh, don’t worry, we have like a million back-up plans for Nora’s schooling because yeah, the school we signed her up for already said it might not open. And they sent us a list of all these possible scenarios if they DO open, most of which involve distance learning, which would be pretty useless for her age. So we’ve totally thought this through and researched all these other schools so that we’re prepared and don’t end up getting screwed. We really like [School #2] and they seem ready to open safely. And [School #3] will definitely have spots open should we wait until the last minute, because we’re hesitant to put a deposit down now for something that might become distance learning. And there’s this other school, [School #4], that’s smaller and lesser-known but actually seems pretty great so bottom line she’ll have lots of options, and we’ll be fine with wherever she goes, plus she’s at the age where we’re not worried about if she’s in like a top program or anything like that, you know? So regardless it’ll be fine, and I know she’ll love wherever she is because she’s super social and energetic so she’ll just be happy to finally get out of the house and be around other kids and added bonus I REALLY need the break!”
Friend: “No, that’s not what I meant. I meant what’s your plan if NO schools open in the fall?”
Me: “She’s good! She’s a very busy lady, running around everywhere, excited about everything. But also very headstrong. Like today at the kid gym she just lost it. She ended up accidentally kicking a little girl in the face because she was throwing so much of a fit, just totally losing her shit, screaming and crying.”
Therapist: “Is she ok?”
Me: “Yeah, yeah. She’s fine. She was over it in 10 seconds. She was just upset that she had to wait her turn to go on the swing. She really doesn’t get that concept of turn taking, and she just gets herself really worked up. But she’s totally fine, it’s all normal toddler stuff. Thank you for asking, though.”
Therapist: “I meant the kid she kicked in the face.”
Therapist: “The little girl Nora kicked in the face– is she ok?”