Monthly Archives: August 2012

Is Miscarriage Finally Becoming Less Taboo?

Ann Romney gave an interview two days ago talking about the fact that she has had several miscarriages. She described the impact of one in her forties in this clip here:

Ann Romney Talks About Her Miscarriage

It’s moving and sad. I am very, very glad to see that she has chosen to talk about this topic and the devastation it causes families, regardless of my political affiliation. This was brave of her and I’m happy she did it.

Unfortunately, the coverage of this clip has attracted negative headlines: “TMI?” says the Associated Press. “Oversharing?” asks The Washington Post. Worse, there is mention that this “oversharing” is a cynical attempt to win over women. I don’t think these articles are very different than this reprehensible MacLean’s piece.

Obviously, the Republican party’s stance on infertility in general and personhood in particular scares the heck out of me. But I am going to put that aside a minute to ask a question: Do you think that maybe the taboo on talking about miscarriage is lifting?

There is another development that I find cheering, and that is the the rise of this project, which has quickly gained public support and the endorsement of Nigella Lawson and Jools Oliver. (Wife of Jamie Oliver.)

What’s unique about Saying Goodbye is that they offer non-denominational services for anyone who has lost a child at any gestational age. In a way, it reminds me of the Japanese cultural of Mizuko.

I spoke with the leader of Saying Goodbye via Twitter today and she said that they will be launching their service internationally and in America soon.

I’ve had two miscarriages, one a “chemical pregnancy” (I HATE THAT TERM) during an IVF cycle and one from a spontaneous pregnancy in 2010 at 8 weeks. Both were devastating. To hear from Ann Romney, Nigella Lawson and Jools Oliver that I am not alone in very public ways is comforting to me, I must admit. And I hope that this is the beginning of a cultural acceptance of talking about loss.

Do you think it is?

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The Strange Case of the Backlash Against Women

Updated at the bottom!

Uber-parenting. Mom Enough. The “changing” definition of rape. I think this tweet says where many of us think the current cultural (counter-cultural?) movement is pushing us:

Then there was Ann Romney’s speech. I think Pamela did an excellent job of covering it.

There is a push “towards” (loving this word today after reading this from Mud Hut Mama) a different America than the America we live in. And I believe it started here. No, let me go back further.

The economy tanked in 2008 for real. But let’s go back even further.

On September 11, 2001 the world changed. The reaction to it was the following: we were told by many high officials that we needed to keep our life as normal as possible. “I ask your continued participation and confidence in the American economy,” Bush said in an address to the nation on Sept. 20, 2001. As a country, America spent a lot of money and went into debt over foreign wars after 2001.

Do you remember the fascination with nesting and buying homes and making homes beautiful from 2002-2007? The many HGTV shows about remodels and beautiful homes?

“Cultural experts have made much of Americans’ ‘nesting’ more since the terrorist attacks in 2001. Todd Gruenewald, president of the St. Louis Chapter of National Spa and Pool Institute, said he believes more people are staying home and putting their money into their houses. ‘We’re seeing this industry-wide,’ said Gruenewald, whose group is a nationwide trade organization for the pool industry. ‘Instead of spending $10,000 on a vacation, people are putting that money toward backyard entertainment – meaning a pool or spa.”

Post Dispatch, May, 2004

I think this was an understandable shared impulse: when life seems so out of control and scary, why not stay at home and nest and make it lovely? We had many businesses and financial products pop up to make the American dream of owning a home possible. And the Wall Street buccaneers who wheeled and dealed our way to financial ruin, based mostly on one platform: a shared cultural impulse to own homes. Then the housing boom bubbled and eventually bust.

During this time (and really since the 90s) male dominated professions like manufacturing and construction were being decimated. The housing bubble propped up the construction industry but when that bubble collapsed, it threw millions of men and women out of work, but in fact, three-quarters of the 8 million jobs lost were lost by men.* We’re still dealing with the repercussions today.

The truth is women are looking at a much rosier financial future than men: the professions that are growing favor women almost exclusively. “Women now earn 60 percent of master’s degrees, about half of all law and medical degrees, and 42 percent of all M.B.A.s. Most important, women earn almost 60 percent of all bachelor’s degrees — the minimum requirement, in most cases, for an affluent life.”*

I approach this development from a very odd position indeed: I am a SAHM. And lately, I really really like it. (Although I’ve had my ups and downs with the position.)

But I rankle to think that a woman’s choice to, well anything, is being threatened. I think it’s safe to say that one thing the Mommy Wars have done is put a premium on and really put SAHMs on a pedestal, especially ones who do extending breastfeeding, grow organic vegetables and fruits and raise chicken. I’m into that too! But maybe, could it be that we are into elevating such a thing into being aspirational because so many families can’t afford to have a mom stay-at-home?

I used to feel shunned at some social gatherings for being a SAHM. NOT LATELY! I find men, particularly, have been very interested in what I do. I’ve gotten a few “Good for yous!” lately and “Your husband is a lucky guy.” This is a drastic turnaround.

Because I am a worrier, I worry about the repercussions of a world where “rape is a form of conception” as VP candidate Ryan noted. I worry about the choices of women: to choose their careers, their lifestyle.

It seems that women hold most of the cards in this current economic climate, but another climate is booming. One that aims to belittle women for making choices and pitting one against the other. When in reality, shouldn’t we be talking about why men are having such a hard time adapting to schoolwork and college and why they are not interested in pursuing growing professions even if they are dominated by women? The odd peer pressure other guys give each other over being “lame” if you study?*

The End of Men is good for no one. But neither is the Mom Enough movement.

What say you? And Mel makes a good point: do you find that moms in general, SAHMs or WOHMs have been promoted to an ideal in your area? I’m sure that she’s right and there is a geographical component to the opinions…

*The End of Men by The Atlantic, 2010

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New Infertility Podcast!

So, you guys probably already know the hilarious, legendary Mo from Mommy Odyssey. You haven’t heard of her? Get thee to her blog page now. And read this.

So after my anihilation humiliation er, personal challenge at BlogHer, Mo had this brilliant idea. Why isn’t there a podcast for people who are going through adoption/loss/infertility? So many women and men are dealing with this stuff, and not all of them (not even most of them) blog about it or go on the infertility boards.

Enter “The Bitter Infertiles!”

Featured players:

Mo: who hosts, and does all of the technical wizardry.
Shelley: writes the blog Tales From The Waiting Room.
Cristy: writes the blog Searching for Our Silver Lining.
And, me 😉

We all come from different experiences: Mo’s had three miscarriages, one stillbirth at 22 weeks, and a whole lot of surgeries. Shelley is dealing with a diagnosis of unexplained infertility and is preparing for an FET after her first round of IVF failed. Cristy has dealt with 3 failed IUIs, 3 failed rounds of IVF/FET and two early miscarriages, and zero explanation for their infertility other than it’s a case of “bad luck.” And I’m the parenting after infertility perspective.

ALSO: we do a weekly Faces of ALI segment. This week we interviewed Kristin, from Dragondreamer’s Lair, who talked about dealing with RPL, parenting her three boys and also told us some hilarious tales. I am so inspired by her sense of humor, which has remained intact throughout all of her experiences. (Aside: The hardest I laughed at BlogHer was when Kristin told me the story that is included in this podcast.)

I hope you enjoy it. I am so proud of Shelley, Cristy and Kristin and Mo, who had the vision and expertise to make this happen.

Go LISTEN!!

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Perfect Moment Monday: Embracing the Truth?

I’m starting to think that quite possibly the best trait to possess as a human being is not beauty or wit or talent of any kind but instead: resilience. I’m not a fan of that twerpy word, indicative of rubber bands and girls in galoshes jumping over muddy puddles. But what is life but a series of often ugly and uglier pools of ick and goop, with glimpses of grey-blue skies and rainbows periodically flashing amongst us to keep our spirits high? The great moments of joy and wonder are so often far and few between and how do we make them last or at least keep us from getting dragged back into the great muck of bitterness?

If it seems as if I am swimming in an overabundance of watery metaphors, well, it’s because our plumbing has failed us, again. Our basement was already completely ruined in February, in round one of our clogged arteries. Those arteries of our home were made of the cheap sub-standard scrap metal that became the pipes material of choice, during and then after WWII, until better legislation was enacted to protect hapless homeowners.

When I was growing up, I lived in an old Victorian house. It was filled with quirky details and beautiful craftsmanship but one thing that gracious old home did not possess was decent plumbing. Nor could my parents afford to replace and overhaul the pipes. So I took showers that did not have full power (and mostly took baths in our gorgeous claw foot tub: so charming!) and we all lived in fear of the shower’s thin stream of moisture completely conking out, throwing us into ruin, I was afraid?

Well, we have received the quote for the basement on Thursday and it would actually ruin us, financially, to pay the pipers and purveyers. So of course, we needed to have another plumbing crisis on top of all of this, so we can have a lovely view facing our own financial ruin.

I exaggerate. Sort of. I’m a writer. What does that mean, even? I called myself a writer on my new Twitter profile, I was even named a top Infertility writer by AllParenting last week. Being called a writer by someone else made me happy. Most significantly, I announced the news that I had been called a writer to my real Facebook friends and family. To a bunch of side-eyes and yawns, I am sure. But a few kind souls commented.

What creates resilience? Is it faith? Often, yes. I envy those who can embrace their beliefs in those lonely and awful and bone-weary moments. Is it a folly, a cock-eyed optimism that blinds people to the reality of the muck, the puddles, the deep ruts in the earth? For those lucky to be in the folly, the deep ruts filled with brown water somehow mirror the sky, so that when things are full of cannon fire and thunder crashing they can still see the sky, the clouds moving about, the jet streams from the airliners billowing curlicues so high above.

But for me, the thing that makes me resilient is seeking the truth. To shine a light on a truth, in the hopes that even one person would see how things really are.

Today, someone asked my daughter what she thought of the poorly prepared and undercooked chicken that had been served for dinner.

“It was…not so good,” she clearly stated. In that moment, I realized that she had inherited my husband’s gift for correctly seeing the way things are, with no filters. And I had hope that, like him, she will one day try to make the things that she sees are wrong, right.

And that, that was my perfect moment.

For more perfect moments, please go visit Lori here:

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Untapped Potential

Our Very Own Wilderness

There is this small swath of relatively flat, open land on our otherwise very steep hill.

More Greens?

For the longest time, I gazed upon it, feeling overwhelmed with the possibilities.

A Dahlia Garden?

There are so many opportunities for that space: we could grow crops up there. Corn, blueberries, more strawberries, more tomatoes, more greens, grapes. We could raise chickens. We could build a swimming pool. Or most stereotypically, we could install a hot tub up yonder. I would want to put one of the old cool redwood tubs in. The ones so many of my friends had, growing up.

A Tree House?

Each of these projects would cost money and time. Each is a big commitment. Each would exclude the others. The only concept I ever really understood in Econ 101 was opportunity cost. That idea has haunted me ever since. I WAS GOING TO MISS OUT ON SOMETHING IF I CHOSE SOMETHING ELSE! Scary thought, indeed.

So for a long time, I was stumped with what to do there. This is totally a metaphor for my life after my second miscarriage, by the way. (Yeah, I knew you were with me. But sometimes I get a bit Captain Obvious.)

Now, I’m just excited to pursue the project we’ve chosen.

Stay tuned.

Do you have any untapped projects you’ve been intimidated by? What are they, and why?

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