Tuesday, April 23, 2013


I just spent a good five minutes trying to type out a post asking for advice on my online birth community. And in trying to find my words, I found my answer on my own.

Redirection is a powerful, important skill to master. We'll call it the "bean dip" tool, thanks to said birth community. Say someone asks you a question or makes a suggestion, and it's really none of their business. You say something vague, then offer up the "bean dip"--the subject change. It can be literal, "Well, I hadn't heard of doing that before! Hm! *pause* Would you like some bean dip/a drink/a slice of pie?" or it can be the figurative discussion of the weather/current events/whatever shallow conversation happens to be your go-to.

My belief system (or lack thereof) is something that occasionally requires me to use my bean dip skills. Like many personal choices, religion is one of those things where it seems like people feel if you do something different, you are judging them for doing things their way.

I do not care in the slightest what other people do or don't believe in. But it can be really really important to some people to care about and try to influence what other people do or don't believe in. And it's exhausting.

I have a number of friends to whom their faith is extremely important. I have been very lucky in that the vast majority of my friends happen to not act like they pity me or fear for me or otherwise be condescending. I do not need people to "pray" for me (or if they do, I certainly don't need them to tell me about it), I do not feel as if I am missing anything. My life is complete and happy and meaningful without religion. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but I don't think I am, and I do not believe in hedging my bets, which is what so many would rather I do "just in case." If a wink and a nod and an apology surrounded by air quotations is all it takes to get into your heaven, then I think there are bigger problems than my refusal to participate.

But I wasn't meaning to get into a philosophical discussion here. My main point is that as with many things people can be "out" about, from child-rearing styles (more controversy there than you might think) to sexual preferences to political leanings, belief (or lack thereof) is sometimes a very difficult subject to broach with new people. You don't know where a new person stands on various issues, and just like with a new romantic relationship you don't want to hit the heavy topics right off the bat without making sure there's a foundation of some sort there. But sometimes it pops up right off the bat, and you have to make a decision.

This is the decision I was wanting to seek advice about in my birth community. How do you politely decline an invitation to a religiously-focused gathering? Whether a Bible study or church event, whether it's a casual or formal thing, it's difficult to say "No, but thanks for the invite!" It can turn into a question about whether it's a day/time/childcare issue, a one-time thing or a "ask me again later" thing, and just like with many other personal issues people feel like they have the right to ask about details. So you have to not only say no thanks, but also give a response that is specific enough to indicate that future invitations are not favorable but vague enough to not spur more questions.

What answer did I find on my own as I tried to organize my thoughts enough to put them into words asking for advice?

"What's the worst that can happen?" I will keep things light for as long as that answer is enough. "Thanks, but I'm not a Bible study/church event/whatever kind of person. Bean dip?" If that becomes not enough, I will be honest and respectful--as I always am. If the respect isn't reciprocated, then that is not a relationship I need to pursue anyway. If it's a dealbreaker for them, then I will gladly respect that as well. I am not a martyr, I am not a person who believes you should be forced to suffer any relationship that causes you pain or other negativity.

Not every new friendship is meant to last. Sometimes it's just that step you need to get to better places. Sometimes that new friendship becomes so solid it's like you have always known each other, even if you can count on one hand the number of times you've met in person and you are complete opposites on some major issues. Some friendships are meant to be light, airy, surface friendships; some are meant to reach straight into your soul. Both are important. So we'll see where this one ends up on that continuum.  

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


I was just thrown off by you today. It happened at the end of the day, too--right when I was getting ready for bed. I hope sleep still comes.

Really, though, it wasn't you, it was a family member of yours. He showed up in your daughter's life through the wonder that is Facebook. I'm not sure when that "add" happened, but it showed up via a comment on her status tonight, and I was sent reeling.

Because what do you do when someone pops back into your life, however tenuous the connection? You creep. You do the Facebook creep. You see their recent statuses, and pictures they have on their page (depending on their privacy settings, of course). But it's not enough. You wonder "Do you remember me? It was so long ago. My name is different now. We hardly saw you even then. Have you changed? Do you have the same problems you did then? The same interests? Are you happy? Is your life the way you want it to be?" Maybe these thoughts don't fully form, but when we do the Facebook creep, this is the information we seek. Of course every situation is different, but the last 5 questions pretty much always apply.

So in doing the Facebook creep, I'm reminded of other connections. Connections to a family I haven't had in years (which unfortunately reminds me of all the others as well). To a life I haven't had in years. To that place in time, where you were here, and we could see you if we wanted to. Talk to you if we wanted to. Maybe we wouldn't have, but the option was still available to us. It hasn't been for almost 14 years now. What would your own Facebook page look like today, I wonder?

I was going to wait to bring this up, but I'm feeling the push to do it now. It would have made for a helluva post in a few more months, but I think I'm wrong about that and it was meant to happen now.

My daughter was born on the 13th anniversary of your death. When I went in to my regular checkup two days before and they decided to test for pre-eclampsia, I knew I'd be having her on that anniversary. It was just right. I made all the proper noises ("I'm sure everything's fine, blah blah blah") but I knew what was meant to happen and I began mentally preparing for it. Still, I cried walking out of my followup appointment two days later on the 9th, because they told me I needed to go to the hospital to be induced immediately. I didn't cry out of fear, or sadness, or worry. I cried because finally something good would come of that day. The anniversary of your death would now be shared with the celebration of my daughter's birth. What has been a bad day since 1999 is now a happy, if slightly bittersweet, day.

And I mean it when I say it has been a bad day since then. Not every year, but most years since I have been in a funk around that time. Of course that's natural around anniversaries of this sort. Sometimes specific, negative events occur on that day in particular, for no apparent reason. That day in 2010 sparked a chain of events that led to me leaving a job that I loved, and ending up in a job that I don't even know how to describe on the love/hate scale. But I know that I felt unfulfilled, and like I was opting out of making an effort. I felt like I was giving up a little (a lot) on life.

Then on that day last year, November 9 2012, I gave birth to a wonderful, perfect little girl. She is my life. I wish you could meet her. Maybe it would take you back to when your own wonderful, perfect little girl was born, a bright spot in your own life (and ours as well). But maybe this was your way of saying you're still influencing our universe a little, that you're paying attention. I don't believe in any god, but I do believe in energy. I believe in love. I believe you had a hand in making that day into a positive experience for me, for our family. We have a physical reminder that yes, there is sadness and loss in our lives, but there is also life, and beauty, and love, and hope. They all thrive in the same dark places.

I don't figure tonight's "event" will lead to any sort of reconnection beyond a shared acknowledgement of a Facebook status. Was I wrong to not push? To not say "Hey, long time no see!" in a way that acknowledges a shared past? I wouldn't turn down an outreach, but I'm not ready to do the reaching out myself.  Maybe we both just think "Nah, they don't remember."

But I do remember. And it all comes crashing back to me.    

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Eat it, self-doubt!

It's definitely been an interesting couple weeks since I last posted. More on that later.

When I took my little love in for her 4-month appointment (she rocked at getting her shots, by the way!), based on their scale she hadn't gained any weight since her 2-month appointment. She had grown in length and head circumference, but apparently was still 12.5-ish pounds. The doctor didn't seem concerned; it wasn't like she had fallen off the charts altogether, and she has doubled her birth weight. But I was a little thrown off my game, so I did a stupid thing and opened my big mouth about it. We agreed that the fact that Little Bit is teething and had been pooping constantly for a while most likely led to her losing a little. But the doc suggested I start her on rice cereal (which I have been against using for SOOO many reasons) just for the extra calories, and to bring her back in 2 weeks for a weight check.

As soon as I walked out of the appointment my internal debate began. Deep down, I really did not believe anything was wrong with her. I felt like the pediatrician made the suggestions he did more to appease a first-time mom rather than out of a sense of concern for Baby G's health. Which I have issues with anyway, because I don't feel like I need to be coddled, and for the most part I am NOT an alarmist or paranoid parent who is terrified by every cough or sniffle. I have a background in child development, and I have spent the better part of three years monitoring debates and trends and doing a hell of a lot of research regarding raising children. I knew then and I know now that all the studying in the world can't truly prepare you for a baby, so I didn't go into this with unreasonable expectations. (Unless you count my expectation that a high-needs demon child would inevitably be what my husband and I released upon the world... I was totally wrong there. This kid is absolutely amazing.) My point is, I am not an idiot, I am not uneducated. I don't do things just because others are doing it or because I think it would be neat or fun, I do things because I have done my research and feel like it is best for my child and our family.

But while all this was running through my head, I was still trying to fight my concern over a number. Her weight. I thought it "couldn't hurt" to start her on cereal, JUST so she would put on some weight. Even though everything in me was screaming that she was okay, I was beginning to doubt myself for the first time. So I bought some organic rice cereal, and a bunch of spoons and bowls. I had been wanting to get those anyway, just to have around for when we do get started. When we got home I mixed up some of the cereal and tried to give her a few bites. She wouldn't/couldn't take it. Her tongue-thrust reflex was still pushing the spoon out. She was NOT ready. I didn't want that for her. We were done.

So we just carried on about our merry little way, and I continued following her lead regarding feedings. She ate as much or as little as she needed, as often as she needed. At that point she would typically eat around 30 ounces a day. As we were coming up on the followup appointment, Baby G developed a nice little case of pink eye. It was Easter Sunday (naturally), and I went ahead and took her into Urgent Care so we could get it treated ASAP. Of course, they weighed her... over 15 pounds!!!

My thoughts: somebody's scale was wrong. There is just no way this kid gained 3 pounds in 2 weeks. My scale at home had had her around 14-15 pounds prior to that 4-month appointment, which is why I was so damn surprised when they said she was just 12 pounds and some change. I called to cancel the followup appointment and explain the situation, since the purpose was to check her weight, which had been done, and I didn't want to bring pink eye into a well clinic. (The urgent care clinic is a feature of her regular clinic.) The lesson I learned from all this? My mama instincts rawk. I will try my hardest not to doubt them again.