Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Heartbreaks

A good friend is 12 weeks pregnant and just went for her first ultrasound.

Everything looks good and she just posted the Ultrasound pic on Facebook.

It's all I can do to click 'like'.  Cos I DO like this.  I'm happy that she and her partner want to be pregnant and have a second child.  And pregnancy really does seem to agree with her.

Yet I also have to look away.

Those ultrasound pictures and stories get me every time.

Such a trigger.

I can't just look at them and be unreservedly happy for the prospective parent(s).

Because I have seen the same picture, the same heartbeat and know that it can disappear.

That first ultrasound seems like it might be some kind of guarantee.  Perhaps particularly for those of us who have lived with infertility and all that it entails.  You kind of feel like - Phew - we made it.  We've gotten ourselves pregnant and we see a live baby on the monitor!!

I just don't think that way any more.  And I know I never will.

That's one of those permanent changes, brought to you by infertility and pregnancy loss.

A heart can beat.  And a heart can stop beating.

A baby can be alive - developing safely inside you.

And the baby can die.

The bitter part of me (yes, it's still in there, rearing it's ugly head from time to time) wants to post a comment saying:  "Beware!  That's no guarantee.  I have a whole stack of those pictures and no baby to show for them.  I have heard a doctor say, more than once, 'I'm sorry - the baby died.'"

And I have looked at my useless pictures and felt my heart break into a million pieces.

But I won't write that.  That's my story.

And I hope her story has a completely different ending.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Meme I'd Consider

Hey All,
My friend Lori Beth over at Road Less Travelled did this meme and I kinda liked it.

I don't generally join in on these things and honestly the secular/Christian new year has never done much for me...I'm more inclined to committ myself to better ways during Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

And yet, here I am...I'm gonna do this thing because I look forward to the challenge it will bring me to think hard, dig deep and be honest.  Perfectly honest.

1. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I usually decide during Rosh Hashanah the things I will re-commit to in the next year.  I have committed to reducing the amount of 'lashan hora' in which I participated.  For me this mostly refers to gossiping and speaking ill of others, especially when not in their presence.  My workplace has become more challenging over the last few years with a manager who causes a lot of havoc amongst team members.  I was sliding down the slippery slope of 'venting' and 'problem solving' which led, inevitably towards 'gossip'.  And I have certainly put an end to that.  I still vent sometimes but I am more aware of what specifically I am venting about and what I plan to do to improve the situation.  And venting does not take the form of personal attacks on anybody but is more about situations.  It can still be a challenge since some of my colleagues still try to take things there and I have to be strong and re-commit to being the person I want to be.

2. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?

  • Together with my Sariel, we bought and moved into a condo!  And I can tell you that I was MADE for condo living!  We started 2012 in here and I'm sure we mention to each other at least 5 times per week how much we love living here!

  • We hosted family from the Netherlands - here and in our guest suite and threw them a big reunion party in our condo's party room.  Usually they stay with my parents and siblings in the Niagara Region and, being the youngest, this was the first time they stayed with me!  We had a blast and so enjoyed reconnecting with these members of my family - some of whom I hadn't seen in probably 35 years.  Strangely enough, I'd seen my Netherlands relatives more recently than most of my Canadian ones!

  • Took a plane trip with Sariel, our friend L and her 3 kids.  We only went to Miami for a few days but we've been talking about doing this for a while.  We all consider ourselves each other's family, have dinner together a few times per month and every year we go to a cottage or similar but this time we wanted to do a beach holiday - so we did!  It was fun flying with the kids - more fun than with Sariel who just goes to sleep as soon as he gets on the plane!!

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

  • I'd say.  By the time 2012 drew to a close I had 6 more grand nieces and nephews!
  • A good friend of ours also had a 2nd child early in the year.
It was tough.  We are, as usual, so happy each time a friend, family or other loved one has a baby and yet it kind of hurts too.  Inevitably I think about what our little family would look like if any of our pregnancies resulted in a live baby.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Thankfully, no.  But I felt the loss of David Rakoff very keenly this year.  I was and still am shocked at his passing and miss him very much.  Also Adam Yauch, from the Beastie Boys - I feel as though I grew up with him.  Finally, Isaiah Sheffer the creator and host of Selected Shorts - his passing shocked me and every time I hear his voice on a past episode I get chocked up thinking that we will never hear from him again.

5. What countries did you visit?

I stayed in North America this year, visiting New York City a couple of times and Florida once.  I also saw parts of Ontario for work and pleasure.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?

Less stress.  Or perhaps better tools for coping with stress.  I think at times I let stressful situations get the best of me and it had a very detrimental effect on my physical and mental health.

The flip side, I guess, is to have better health, consistently.  That would be great!

7. What date(s) from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
28 July 2012 is the date.  It was the day our WHOLE FAMILY (50+ members) were together in one spot to celebrate my parents' 60th Anniversary.  Everybody was able to make it, the weather was perfect, sunny but not too hot.  There were lots of new babies on hand and my parents were both, thankfully, in very good health that day!  My parents' actually anniversary is 3 August but that didn't really make a difference.  It was a beautiful day that I will never forget! 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Hmmmmm.....I'm inclined to say 'surviving'.  But it's more than that.  I have worked very hard to deal with the various ailments I've suffered over the past year (and longer).  I have worked hard to make peace with my body, to listen to what my body needs and to not be bullied into making decisions that are not good for me by a boss who is quite unreasonable when it comes to self care.  I've learned to stand up for myself and advocate for myself in this area - a big achievement for me!  This is something I very much continue to struggle with but I have made good progress and feel good that I will continue to grow in 2013.
9. What was your biggest failure?

See above.  I had some major illnesses and injuries in 2010 and 2011.  I thought I'd learned my lesson, but I clearly hadn't.  I continued to ignore my body, put my work over my health and push myself instead of giving my body what it needed.  I can't get that time back but I am more committed than ever to do the right thing for myself.  To prioritize self care above all.  Because, and I KNOW it's a cliche, but I am no good to anybody if I don't take better care of myself.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

I continued to struggle with a weak immune system in 2012 and, in addition to that, I discovered in July that the previous January I had ruptured a disc and had two herniated discs.  This was not welcome news.  I have yet to get this back pain under any kind of regular control and I continue to see various specialist and try various measures.  I am also working with my doctor to better understand why I get sick so often and why I get as sick as I do each time.  The journey continues in 2013.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

I guess I've already mentioned the condo, eh?  

If we don't count that, then it's a toss up between a very cool, vintage contour lounge chair that reclines, heats up and vibrates!!!  

OR the trips we took - these are not things but experiences:  a week at a vocal camp that was transformative for both of us and a week in NYC during which we had absolutely nothing planned and just hung out, saw whatever music appealed to us, checked out some new restaurants and generally just absorbed the city in a very laid back way.  To name a couple of our experiences!

12. Whose behaviour merited celebration?

My friends and their kids.  They have 2 teen agers and one pre-teen.  Life in their house can be a little hectic and sometimes very tense.  Relationships have been strained.  But my friend and her partner really committed to working together and, ultimately, the kids did too.  They made so much progress in their relationships and I'm really, really proud of each of them!

13. Whose behaviour made you appalled and depressed? 

Ugh.  I don't want to give my boss any more air time.   So I won't.
I'd have to say the Prime Minister of Canada by selling away our natural resources and removing key environmental protections.  And also, some of the Republican and Tea Party candidates and supporters.  They are pushing women's rights so far back that it's actually frightening.  Some things I never thought would be up for debate were given serious air time?!  As women and as citizens of this planet I can see we need to be more determined and work harder than ever to save ourselves and our planet.

Sadly, I have to add a friend's partner to this list.  He has shut himself off from my friend completely and to a frightening extent.  Their marriage will likely not survive and they will have to help their two young daughters cope with all of this.  I feel so, so sad for my friend and what she's going through.  It is extremely painful and, while I'm not living it, I find it almost inconceivable that my friend's partner cannot step up and give of himself.  Ugh.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Mostly child support and travel for Sariel's daughter (to come here for custody visits) and our own travel.  We are suckers for travel.  Also, we still spent a fair amount on eating out, especially when we first moved to the new neighbourhood and discovered all of these fantastic restaurants (and their great wine lists!!) within walking distance.  But in the past 6 months we've been more focused and reigned it in much more!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 

I'm really, really, really excited about the one woman show I'm going to perform next week.  This has it's roots in 2012 cos that's when I signed up for the group/course.  We've been working together with our amazing coach since October and it's been challenging, scary and above all exciting!  Who knows where this will lead in 2013?

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?

Definitely the Honour Quodlibet that we learned from Dr. Ysaye Barnwell at Worldsongs Vocal Camp this year!  Check it out! 

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?

a.) happier; b.) about the same?  c.) maybe a touch poorer

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? 

Getting out in nature:  walking, hiking, skating.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Been sick and housebound.

20. How did you spend Christmas?

Sick with the flu in my lovely contour lounge chair watching films with Sariel. 

21. Did you fall in love in 2012? 

I fall in love with Sariel pretty much every day.  And there were a few more people I realized I love over the course of this year.

22. What was your favorite TV program?

I must confess that I am a geek and don't watch TV.  

I'm a huge radio fan and I have lots of favourite radio programs such as Selected Shorts, This American Life, The Moth, Snap Judgement, A Prairie Home Companion, Fresh Air, etc.  I also like Weekend Edition and Will Shorts the Puzzle Master.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you did not hate this time last year? 

Hate is so tiring.  I have had fleeting feelings of hatred toward a number of politicians.  I could probably conjour up some hatred for some of them right now if I had to.  But I can't sustain hatred for very long.

24. What was the best book you read?

I'm a voracious reader so this is TOUGH!!!  But I'll say The American Way of Eating by Tracie McMillan. The author goes undercover for 3 months each working in the fields, working in a grocery store and working in a restaurant.  She talks about her experiences in the food industry, the lives of others who work in the industries and the story of the food we eat.  Riveting.  I'm a big fan.  And this from somebody who reads more fiction than non-fictrion.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Well, I know she's been around for a long time, but I've got to say Diana Krall and her new album 'Glad Rag Doll'.  

Here's the confession:  Initially I wasn't a huge fan of hers when she first came on the scene - nothing really about her but I was into other kinds of music.  Thenshe hooked up with Elvis Costello, for whom I had been carrying a flame for oh so many years!  On top of that she had kids with him.  That was it, I couldn't stand mention of her or hearing her voice.  Petty, I know.  

Then I heard her interviewed on some NPR show this year and I thought she was kind of cool.  They played a few tracks off the album, and I was hooked.  So there you go, in 2012 my greatest musical discovery was Diana Krall!
26. What did you want and get?
Love, friendship, travel.
27. What did you want and not get?

  • To be out of debt.
  • To see Loretta Lynn (had to give the tix away cos I was sick)
  • To see kd lang (ditto)
  • To have a long period of good health.

28. What was your favourite film of this year? 

Sleepwalk with Me.  But I was predisposed to like this because I am a fan of Mike Bribiglia, had heard his piece about this story and I'm an even bigger fan of Ira Glass who helped produce the film and had a small cameo role.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

This year I turned 46 and I went to work (I don't always).  Something very significant happened for the children of our province as this year a motion was put forward in our Legislature to call May 14 the Day of Children in Care.  Now everybody where I work talks about May 14.  And I sometimes quiz them about the other important event of that day.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

Better health.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?

Tunics, layers, drapey.  And clothes that fit.
32. What kept you sane?

Sariel.  My shrink.  My meds.  Red wine.  Good friends. The return of my family   doctor from maternity leave.  Vacations.  Wise colleagues.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

I've got a thing for Doug Pettibone.  Don't worry - Sariel is well aware of it.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?

The Canadian Government's omnibus bill in which we lost protection for so many of our natural resources and the Idle No More Movement in response, which has global support.  The most oppressed people in our nation are showing themselves to be, by far, the most courageous!
35. Who did you miss?

David Rakoff.  I can't explain.  I just miss him.

36. Who was the best new person you met?

Tracey Erin Smith, my new guru and the woman behind SoulOTheatre.  She is a beautiful inside and out, talented, inspiring, butt kicking, amazing woman and I am so grateful to know her and to have had a chance to work with her!

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012. 

Listen to your body.
Listen to your self.
I have a story to tell - many in fact - that others would want to hear.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

"We've all got to have a place that we come from, the place that we come from is called home.  We set out on our travels, we do the best we can, we travel this great earth that we roam.  Even though you may love this place that's on the map, it's ain't where you from, it's where you at."  (Mos Def, Habitat from the album Black on Both Sides)
Hey y'all!
Hope you had yourself some great holidays.  If not great, then good.  If not good, then tolerable.  And if not tolerable - I hope they passed quickly and things are better now.

As you know, those holidays aren't the ones we celebrate but they are usually a time to relax, watch movies, get together with friends we haven't seen for a while.

Unfortunately this year, I caught some sort of wicked, tenacious flu bug that lasted well over 2 weeks!  Happy to report I've been recovering in the past week and hope to be restored to good health by the weekend....maybe?

In the meantime, as alluded to in earlier posts, here's a piece of writing for this theatre class I'm taking.  I tried to work this piece or at least this character into my one woman show but it just wasn't working.  Keep in mind this is only a 10 minute piece....I am thinking of challenging myself to tackle a full length show.  Stay tuned.

In the meantime, my 'home play' (stream of consciousness writing on a given topic) from 23 November 2012.


TOPIC:  A teacher who was a problem.

"I am in grade 6 and I am as mouthy and clever as they come.  My four older siblings have made sure that I’ve grown up fast and been independent.

I’m practically an adult since birth.  And my quick, sarcastic wit is strong enough to keep up with the masters:  my Mom and my older siblings.

So the first day of Grade 6 arrives and after a summer of less socializing then I’d like, I’m excited to be back at school with my peers.

The hormones are raging, my boobs have sprouted and I know I am fucking hilarious - having honed my humour during a summer of adults and more adults.

I get Mr. Pilon for a teacher and I’m not sure what to expect.  His wife is also a teacher in the school and she seems okay.  I know nobody can compare to my Grade 5 teacher, Mrs. Koole, who ‘got me’ and appreciates my quick humour and wit.

From the moment Pilon opens his mouth I sense a challenge – and I’m ready for the game!

This guy is married?  No way?  His wife is more butch than he is and he has that ummmmmm…. extremely ‘effeminate’ voice.

He tries to charm us – at turns acting as our ‘friend’ and then suddenly being ‘tough’ and teacherly.  Before first recess I am in a verbal sparring match with this guy and instead of bowing down to my supreme wit and intelligence – he puts me in the corner.

I am in Grade 6.  I am an Aunt.  Two of my siblings are married and I have boobs.

And you put me in the corner?

No, no, no, no, no.  This won’t do.  The gauntlet has been thrown and as far as I’m concerned, war has been declared.

Who does this fucker think he is and how am I going to handle him for the rest of the year?  I have no power but the power of my tongue.  And I will win.

Because I am in Grade 6.  I am an Aunt and I’ve been in two weddings.  And I have boobs.

Pilon – you.  Are going.  Down.

Grade 6 is a year marked by trouble with a capital T for Shlomit.  Boobs or no boobs, I have to follow this guy’s direction and there are no adults willing to back me up.

At every chance, I humiliate.  I mean, it’s so easy.  He’s asking for it.

Like the time he asks me to stand at the front of the classroom and do a recorder solo.  He thinks I’m fooling around and not paying attention.  He underestimates me.  I get in front of the class and play, from memory, a very difficult solo I’ve taught myself.  And I’m playing the recorder through my nose!

Point for Team Shlomit.

Or the time when he tells the class a ‘joke’.  It is long, involved, building up to what he things is an hilarious punch line.

Cue the smart ass.  

Pilon delivers the punch line; polite twittering from kiss ass classmates ensues.  I wait for it to die down and then “Yeah. So.  What’s the joke?”


His face flames red; he sends me in the hall and even calls my parents!  I get the familiar “respect the teacher” lecture but I can tell that my parents are choking back smiles and maybe just a little pride.

Point for Shlomit.

Because I am Shlomit.  I am 12 years old. I’ve got a niece.  I’ve been in two weddings.  My parents leave me home alone.

And I. have. Boobs."