Sunday, March 30, 2008

Rose Warriors

Yay! After a frrrrrreeeeeeeeeeezing Easter weekend, complete with the first (and presumably last) snow man of the season, it is now warm and sunny. So, have I been drawing, as I said I would? Ha! To the bat-garden, Robin!

The downside of this is that I look like a human pincusion. Do you see this rose? Looks innocent, doesn't it? Well, don't let it fool you; it's a viscious, blogwriter eatting monster! It's also incredibly beautiful and fragrant... But. It gets BIG. Like, coming over the balcony and into the bedroom big. Like, no one's been on the westernmost 3 meters of balcony since last summer big. Like, we need to do something about it big.

But what? It's willowy, covered with barbed hooks and completely tangled. Troopers that we are, we clipped and snipped and suffered till it was free of the balcony railings, then pushed it into a nearby tree. It flopped back onto the balcony. More pushing, more lacerations, but it flops back again. Hmmmm.
Well, we're nothing if not inventive. Picture my man up a tree, a lot of string, and a metal weight. Picture us tieing the weight to the string, and throwing it at the tree. I said inventive, not coordinated. Also, a broom was involved.

Hey: the rose is off the balcony :)
I'll post a picture when it's in bloom.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Produce and Reproduce

It's Easter Monday. I am at loose ends. Being pregnant is usually pretty consuming for me. What I mean is, even if I can't think of anything else to do, it is enough to just be pregnant. I sit there, I think "I am not doing nothing. I am being pregnant." I am not the sort who can happily do nothing (this drives my husband insane sometimes, I think). I must produce! Whether baby, garden, writing, art.... I haven't managed another way of measuring my worth. I am worth what I produce. If I am producing nothing, then.... How stupid is that? From the neck up, I know this is stupid. I would never judge anyone else by those terms.


Being pregnant is my lazy way of producing? I shudder to think that, but it has occurred to me:
"Draw? No, haven't had time for that! I'm busy being pregnant!"

Could I draw and be pregnant at the same time? Of course. And paint, and write.... But I haven't written or drawn anything for a year now, and that is why this question keeps popping up.

Did I get pregnant so I could produce without risk? OK, there are risks, but different risks. My artistic self-confidence has plummeted. But this has happened before; long gaps in my drawing, painting, writing, and at the end of each gap, the question- can I still do it? Can I still produce things that meet my own standards? Each time, it is terrifying- which amazes me! Why? Because every single time, after every scary, desolate hiatus the answer is YES. I always do produce again, every time, and yet during every new dry spell I think 'Will this one be different? Will this be the one that creeps in to settle permanently?'

So now I have the question. (Which on top of everything else, makes me feel a fool- in retrospect it seems so obvious.) Did I 'accidentally' get pregnant (never mind my hyperfertility- we'll discuss that another time) as an excuse not to test my ability to produce art? There is only one possible way to answer that question to my own satisfaction. I must start drawing, now. We have decided that we will discuss babies again in September. I must produce a piece I love before that, in order to know my own motives. It's the only fair solution- to have a baby in spite of my art, not as a substitute for it. Don't misunderstand me; I would have loved that little boy- I do love him, with all my heart. I miss him every day. Especially at Easter, I suppose, when the entire northern hemisphere is pregnant.

Is unpregnant a word? It is now. I feel so unpregnant.


Here are some eggs, dyed the Swiss way, in all their glory:

Friday, March 21, 2008

Improbability Drive

I have been thinking a lot about fate, chance, and likelihood. What happened to my baby was a statistical long shot. Like winning the lottery. But my life has had a few of those.

I quit grad school to travel. I went to Ireland. I had never been anywhere, and Ireland had always been on the top of my list. At the same time, a lunatic Swiss man, to whom I am now married, also quit his job and traveled to Ireland. Throw in two German students (one with incredibly smelly socks. He had brought only his grandfather's old doctor's bag as luggage. There was no room for actual clothes in the bag; only the big fat textbook, which I never saw him open. He was supposed to be studying for his med school exam the following week. The other one was studying psychology. He watched us intently and took a lot of notes.), some burnt toast, a bicycle and an abandoned chicken wing in the bottom of an oven all did their magic to push us closer and closer together. Ok, there was a large pile of Swiss chocolate involved, too.

So there we were, together against all odds, working for small change in Ireland. The job was seasonal, though, and come October, we had no income, and no way to get back to Switzerland either. We were considering *gasp* borrowing money from his mom! So what to do, what to do? Hmmmm. Win the Lotto. No, I'm not kidding. We didn't win the jackpot, but we did win what was the largest fiver in history at that point- 1,304 Irish Pounds. Enough to get back to Switzerland.

And what are the odds of exactly the right sperm and exactly the right egg being released to make a certain child? Out of three hundred million sperm per ejaculation? And 400,000 eggs fighting for release? And we have the three most perfect girls. And then there's poor Douglas, dead at 49. What were the chances of that? Just before the sperm whale and the bowl of petunias hit the ground, the bowl thinks "oh, no. Not again."

And there it is. I must accept the long odds, just like the bowl of petunias, whether in my favour or not. I know Douglas Adams was an atheist; but I am going to indulge in the fantasy that my wishy-washy watered-down vaguely christian upbringing prompts. I am going to picture my little boy in heaven, making Douglas Adams laugh, and vice versa.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Ten days ago, I found out that the baby I was carrying was dead. I am 40 years old. I had all the non-invasive pre-natal tests, and everything looked good. I had passed the evil 3 month mark, I told my 3 girls (they were so excited!). I enjoyed.

So there I was, for my regular check-up, my gynecologist with his magic Doppler wand in hand, and he's saying the words "There's no heartbeat. I can't find a heartbeat." He ditched the Doppler, and switched on the ultrasound. "Sometimes they hide," He said. Baby wasn't hiding; he was just floating, dead.

I'm 40, I thought. It must be a trisomy problem. At my age, surely there was a trisomy problem that the tests didn't detect. I went later the same day with my husband for a second ultrasound just to make absolutely sure. Still no heartbeat. And I would have to bear the child; it was too late, the baby was too big for a d&c. I still wonder how I would have felt about a d&c, if it had been allowed. It just didn't seem right, after having seen the heart beat on the previous ultrasound, having felt movement...

And; we might never have discovered what the problem was. I was really not prepared to give birth to a perfect, dead baby. He (our first boy- such a teeny weeny weeny!) was perfect. But the silly little boy had the cord wrapped around his neck and tied in a knot. Too many somersaults. My gynecologist is not an ancient man, but he has been in practice for 15+ years, I would guess. He said "I've never seen the likes of this." He said it several times.

Now I am left with a question. What is the point of getting pregnant accidentally (my children are 11, 8 and 6, and we thought we were done), getting used to the idea, having all the tests come out very positive, telling the girls, being so happy, looking so much forward to the baby, only to have him born dead as the result of a freak accident? Since this is my first post no one out there knows me at all, so I'll tell you a problem I have; I am always trying to figure out what it is I'm supposed to be learning.

What is God (He, She or It) trying to tell me? How hard would it have been to let down a ghostly, all-powerful finger and unloop that cord? Why did that baby have to be conceived at all, only to die? Does God exist at all? I think there must be a lot of people asking these sorts of questions. I guess there always have been, and always will be.