Three years ago I went in for my yearly Well Woman exam and found out I was 10 and a half weeks pregnant. I was single and unemployed, with health insurance that was set to expire in two months. My ex-boyfriend, Kurt, half of the reason for the unexpected pregnancy, and I were still living together as I hadn't yet found a place of my own, but we had split up a month earlier. I called him. I called my sister. I called my therapist. I called my parents. And then I called Planned Parenthood. I had a little over a week to decide what I wanted to do. I made an appointment for an abortion in one week in case that was what I ended up going with.
It was a rough week. Kurt and I cried and fought. We yelled and made accusations. My sister offered whatever support I needed whether that was a ride to the clinic and care afterward or someone to raise the baby with. My parents were far more measured with their support, mostly offering up reasons why having the baby would be the wrong choice. I had my career to consider. I was just getting going again with an acting career I had put on hold for four years. I was booking work and things were looking hopeful. I was having more success than I had had for many years. A baby would certainly put a giant kink in that trajectory. And how would I afford the labor and the subsequent baby without insurance or a job? What about my mental health? Would I be able to continue my meds while pregnant and nursing?
I was raised pro-choice. I always believed abortion was a woman's decision. I believed a woman shouldn't be forced to put her own goals on hold because she happened to get pregnant. And I always assumed if I got pregnant before I was ready I would have an abortion. I was 33. I didn't want kids. My career was important to me.
And yet. There was this nugget of an idea that kept making its way to the front of my brain. What if you did have this baby? It was a radical idea. Crazy, And yet. The nugget got louder and louder. Seriously. What if you did have this baby? And I started to think about what if. And, of course, I had no idea what if. I didn't know what having a baby would really do to my life. I couldn't possibly know. It could be the worst thing that ever happened to me. On the other hand. What if I had the baby?
Kurt and I took a weekend apart to think (and so I could stop throwing shoes at him), and when we came back together that Sunday, we decided to go with the terrifying unknowable future of the what if. I canceled my appointment with Planned Parenthood.
Seven months later I gave birth to a boy I never thought I'd have. And he is perfect. I mean, for real, the kid is a perfect specimen, I won't bore you with the details of how perfect he is. If you want to know, read the rest of my blog. But I challenge you to talk to a person on this earth who has spent more than 10 seconds with him who won't back me up.
And yet. I suffered major postpartum depression. Six months after Monty was born I found myself laying on my apartment floor barely able to breathe. Our financial situation made it nearly impossible to hire any kind of help. The only respite I got was from friends who would offer a few hours here and there for "date nights". We made too much money to get any kind of assistance but not enough to afford any childcare. I was hardly able to produce milk anymore because of general anxiety and anxiety about losing "the baby weight" in order to be skinny enough to get work in my industry. Monty was the easiest, happiest little guy and yet there were days when I didn't know how I would possibly survive 'til Kurt got home. I was sure I was a failure. I strongly considered hospitalizing myself. I went back on my meds and switched Monty mostly to formula.
Once my meds were stabilized I was able to think a little more clearly. I was better able to distinguish reality from the lies my sick mind was still whispering to me. You're a failure. Okay, maybe, but not today.
I am so glad I didn't have that abortion.
A year and a half after Monty was born I found myself once again unexpectedly pregnant. Six weeks after a slip up and a prompt ingestion of the morning after pill, my chest started to break out for the second time in my life two weeks after I should have gotten my period. This time I was employed (temporarily) and still had no insurance. Before I took the test, Kurt and I talked about the possibilities. If I was pregnant, we decided, we would downgrade to a one-bedroom apartment to save money. We would move back to New York. My family would help. Yes, we would make it work. I stood in the doorway of our bathroom staring at the two little lines on the pregnancy test in my hand. I looked up at Kurt and literally couldn't find the words. He reached out for me and I laid down next to him. We lay there in silence for 15 minutes. And then I burst out laughing and Kurt burst into tears, How had we let this happen again? Did we not know how babies were made? Did we miss that day in Health class? What were people going to say?
I called Planned Parenthood and made an appointment in one week in case that was the way we decided to go.
It didn't take us a week to make the decision. We knew right away. We had already taken risks having Monty and those risks were paying off in spades. He made our lives infinitely better.
And yet. We were barely getting by. I was still mostly unemployed. Turns out the nearly yearlong break my pregnancy demanded of my career made it harder to get back in. We managed to feed Monty well but at the expense of our own down time. We still had no child care help. We never got a break. Our situation wasn't quite dire, but it wouldn't take much to put it there. And people kept telling me every baby is born with a loaf of bread under its arm. But a loaf of bread doesn't pay the rent. And we all know where a loaf of bread landed Jean Val Jean.
And there was my mental health. We considered ourselves lucky that I had made it through my postpartum situation relatively unscathed. We didn't know if we'd be so lucky again. I honestly didn't think I could handle a second baby. What if it was colicky? What if it was sick? What if it was one of those babies that has no personality?
A second child would mean a significant downgrade in our quality of life, such as it was. Unless we came across some kind of financial windfall, we didn't see how having a second child at that point would be fair to us or to Monty or to it. We just didn't have the financial or emotional resources to spare.
So, we kept our appointment with Planned Parenthood. We went in on July 5th, 2014. We got there before the clinic opened. The only protester there was a small guy with a graphic poster, speaking in spanish. But Kurt got called a coward and a murderer on his way out by a woman who had decided that she understood his life better than he did. The three other women in the waiting room were all mothers, too. They seemed fine with their decisions. We all felt fine with our decisions. And yet. We found ourselves defending our choice to each other as though we had anything to defend. We didn't. We were four loving mothers who were making the best decision for themselves and their families. The nurses and doctors who cared for me were extremely compassionate and kind. The doctor told me my last name means "good" in Hungarian. Or Polish. Or some language. And then I woke up in the recovery room and it was over and I felt relief.
I am so glad I had that abortion. It was absolutely the right choice for myself and my family. I have never once regretted it. I have never felt sad or mourned for "the baby that never was." Instead I have loved the baby that is. And all of our lives are infinitely better for it.
I've been thinking a lot about wheat. (It's a fascinating party in my head all the time). Remember the food pyramid we grew up with? I would post an image of it but the new Weebly app has this neat feature where it crashes anytime you try to add a picture to a blog. Anyway, in the 90s the entire bottom level of the pyramid was wheat and grains, in other words, the bulk of our caloric intake was supposed to be that straight carbs. 6-11 servings a day. They were all, "Eat all the cereal, rice, and bread you possibly can! It's great! It turns right into sugar in your system!" And we were all, "Duuuuuuuuuuh okay!" Then, at some point recentlyish they decided fruit and vegetables should be at the bottom of the pyramid and wheat was moved up a scootch to the second tier. So now it's 4-8 servings, which is sort of less then 6-11?
So, I have this small human I'm trying to, you know, keep alive and make smart and stuff, right? At breakfast it's oatmeal or Cheerios and fruit. So, there's one serving. At lunch it's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or pasta or whatever the hell we happened to have remembered to stock our pantry with. That's got to be at least a serving and a half. Then there's crackers or whatever for a snack. Now we're up to, what, 3 and a half at least? And then dinner? Jesus. Pasta? Rice? Some sort of grain? I already give myself and Kurt kudos for giving him homemade food three meals a day almost everyday (You should see the pile of dirty dishes.) and largely organic and blah blah blah. So, I can't really get on my own case for not being Paleo or Macro or whatever gluten-free, grain free thing the kids are into these days. But it does feel like I'm dumping a bunch of empty calories into him for a couple hours of non-hungeryness. And it is only a couple of hours. Feed the kid oatmeal and an hour later he's asking for a "Peabudder samwich!" And I know we're still within the guidelines, but in five minutes they're going to say no wheat or grains EVER AT ALL EVEN FOR YOU NORMAL-EATING PEOPLE! And then I'm the asshole feeding my kid quinoabread.
Fucking wheat, man. And don't even get me started on sugar...
I wanted to go to the doctor today to get an official diagnosis for the mild case of dying I have. There's nowhere up here that takes my insurance. So I figured I would pay out of pocket at the local urgent care facility. But you can't just walk in to local urgent care facility. You have to have a primary care doctor at the local urgent care facility. So, I spent a half an hour on the phone with someone at the local urgent care facility making two appointments, one for the mild case of dying and one for "meet and greet" with my new primary care doctor whom I would pick from a list of names. To say I was making these appointments is not entirely accurate. She was asking me all the questions one normally answers on intake forms (why I couldn't just fill out intake forms when I got there is beyond me). At the end of that process she looked for an available appointment and offered Thursday. She could have saved us both the hassle and looked for an appointment before we started the mountains of paperwork. That way I would have known they weren't going to be able to see me until Thursday and we wouldn't have wasted all that time. Also, chances are that in the time it took us to do the fucking paperwork, the available appointments for today were being taken. It's Tuesday and I'm sick now. Obviously if I stay in bed and rest I'll get better eventually. The point is, I want to go to the doctor now and be better by Thursday, not stay in bed being useless til Thursday while Kurt runs around doing laundry and raising out child, and then be better by, like, Sunday.
Long and really fascinating story short, she put in a note with the triage nurses that I need to see someone sooner rather than later so I should be getting a call today.
(Update from today (the next day): I never got a call. I called them back this morning. The reason I never got a call is that she was supposed to schedule the "meet and greet" first. The triage nurse couldn't call me until I was an established patient. So, that's awesome.)
At any rate, here is a video of me and Monty (Don't try to correct my grammar. Look it up. It's already correct.) singing one line from Pompeii by Bastille over and over. In case you can't understand us (Which you most certainly can not because it's basically gibberish), the line is, "Grey clouds roll over the hills bringing darkness from above," however, Monty has shortened it to "Grey cloutrabdha!" He's basically a genius.
Weebly is seriously killing me. They updated their app, so now, when I try to add a picture to my blog the entire app shuts down. It's a really neat new feature.
I am sick with a mild case of dying. Kurt and Monty and my father have been out apple picking in beautiful fall weather and I'm stuck in bed not being able to swallow.
I dreamt I gave birth to a baby that was still in it's amniotic sac. I was carrying it around in the sac, looking for a doctor and It started to cry, so at least I knew it was alive, but I knew I needed to find a doctor to actually deliver it. Or figure out how to get it out of its own bag. Monty keeps watching Youtube videos of people opening little plastic eggs with toys in them. Maybe that's where that was coming from?
Anyway, here are some pictures. I gave Monty a terrible haircut. I'm really sorry, guys.Also, remember I said that I'm always the one ending up playing with whatever toys we take out to keep Monty occupied with? Here's my Caribbean beach scene made out of Play Doh.
Member that time yesterday when I posted a blog called "30 In 3o: Day Twelve. Part One?" That was actually an homage to Mel Brooks', "History of the World Part One". There never was supposed to be a second one. Joke's on you.
Maybe there was supposed to be a second part, but The Silence of the Lambs on TV and two glasses of wine thwarted my intentions. (P.S. I can quote that entire movie. Even after two glasses of wine.). But you know what they say, "The Road to Hell is Paved with Lazt Blog Writing."
There is something about being at the house upstate that makes me want to bake bread and make scones and milk cows. Tonight I made cookies, which is, like, kind of all those things combined. I mean, it's not at all, except I put chocolate chips, reese's pieces, AND mini marshmallows in them, so it's almost as if I made bread and scones and milked cows. I also made a tiny margherita pizza out of play-doh and built a bad-ass fire in the wood-burning stove thingy. So, I'm pretty much an olde time farm wife. Minus the wife part.
Jesus Christ. We're watching the Omen and I swear to god, Damien looks like a brown-haired, brown-eyed Monty.
Turns out the good thing about sending your agent writing at the end of the day on a Friday is that when you don't hear from her all weekend you can assume it's because it's the weekend. If you send her something on Monday and two days go by with no word you can be like, "Uh, yeah. She's dropping me." This way, you get to just be kind of uneasy all weekend.
I gave Monty a haircut and he looks like he belongs in one of those hospitals for the forgotten. YOU know what I mean. It's a good thing Hitler isn't around anymore because he for sure would be like, "ZAT child! Ze one with ze hair of an idiot! Put him in ze showers!" There is something definitely wrong with me.
I missed yesterday. I feel just awful about it. I'm so ashamed of myself. I don't even know how to live with myself anymore.
Although technically I'm calling it 30 in 30, so I don't have to post every day, I just have to post 30 blogs in 30 days... Ha ha!I have beaten myself at my own game!
Kurt is very close to getting a job that would be very, very good for us. He had a third interview today. I sent my agent some version of what she was asking for. I'm pretty sure she's going to drop me when she reads it. Either that or she'll be like, "This is incredible! You don't even have to write the actual book!" And she'll sell it for 8 million dollars. That's the going rate these days, right? That seems like a completely reasonable expectation.
Monty is watching a phenomenal amount of television. Between being sick and the disgusting weather we're experiencing, it's been a shit ton of Cat in the Hat, Thomas and Friends, Curious George, and Sesame Street. I'm surprised Child Protection Services hasn't come for him. I can hear his brain cells fizzling away. I keep buying him toys at flea markets and thrift shops, but they only seem to hold his attention for a few minutes. And I haven't quite figured out how to do arts and crafts without everything getting literally all over the place. The weather isn't conducive to painting outside and I'm pretty sure my parents would disown us if we got paint and glitter and glue all over their house. So, I'm at a loss. I'm sure all the other kids his age are building skyscrapers out of blocks and reading entire books on their own. Most of the time if Monty does get into a toy he's interested for five minutes and then I'm the one who ends up playing with it while he runs around singing Pompeii by Bastille. I've put together more Frozen puzzles in the last two months...
You guys, parenting is haaaaaaaaard.
(Due to technical issues with Weebly's mobile app, I wasn't able to publish this last night. Weebly, get your shit together, PLEASE.)
I accidentally took a sleeping pill last night. I didn't realize it til halfway through dinner when I began to wonder why the walls were starting to bend. Incidentally, I had a great night's sleep.
Kurt seems poised to get a job soon. That will be a welcome relief on any fronts. As for Monty and school, I guess I'll just keep reading him the Sesame Street Dictionary Letters O through P that I got at a local thrift shop and just kind of hope it's intellectually stimulating enough to earn him a spot at Harvard or whatever I'm supposed to be striving for. I read in the "papers" today that the pope said he agrees with Kim Davis and feels for the priests who raped children. So, I'm guessing the big sociopolitical apocalypse is just around the corner and once that happens pre-school will be the least of our worries.
Before the world falls apart be sure to buy your tickets for
Daisy and Jordan: Rejected Bond Girls
on November 15th at 9:30 pm at Feinstein's/54 Below. So far the line up includes Eric Anderson, Cady Huffman, Beth Malone, The Skivvies, and a super special surprise guest were not allowed to advertise...
If you haven't already, be sure to sign up for my newsletter (which I rarely put out). I will be sending out a special discount code to my newsletter readers in the next few days! Don't miss it.
I've been thinking about this kid I went to elementary school with. I don't remember his name. He was super smart. The kind of kid who knew how to spell the word "people" way before anyone else. Nerd. So, one year on our last day of after-school we were going around the circle saying what we were going to do over the summer. We were all saying reasonable things for a bunch of 8-year-olds, like, "I'm going to summer camp." or "I'm going to eat Popsicles til my insides freeze." or "I'll be spending most of my days rubbing elbows with the heroin addicts of Coney Island while my father runs a dark ride there." You know. The usual. But this kid said, "I plan on reading all of Webster's Dictionary." Seriously. That's what he said. Come on. That's not a thing ANYONE does. Let alone an 8-year-old. Just knock it off, Whatsyername.
About seven years later I ran into him at Washington Square Park during the pot parade or whatever it's called. I hated smoking pot because it made my brain end up in a foetal position inside itself. Within a few minutes of smoking pot no matter where I am or who I'm with I'm convinced that I'll end up homeless in the gutter by the end of the day. But all my friends smoked and I was so desperate for friendship that I would have jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge if they did. Or, even if they had just told me to. It wasn't a time I look back on with any fondness. So, there I was in Washington Square Park, stoned out of my mind, trying to make it look like I didn't feel like my body was covered in ants, and Mr. Dictionary points at my shoes and says, "Haha. You double-knot your laces." I said, "Yeah," because I did. It was an accurate observation. I generally find double-knotting my shoelaces preferable to having to re-tie them all the time. It was less a fashion choice and more a decision of convenience and efficiency. I had missed the memo about shoelaces. Apparently the less they are tied the cooler you are. Mr. Dictionary had deduced that I was a nerd because I didn't want to deal with the annoyance of repeatedly re-tying my shoelaces. Like I said, he was SUPER smart.
For years I was embarrassed that I had double-knotted my laces that day. I just wanted to be cool. I could never get it right. And here was this really cool guy calling me out. I mean, he didnt look cool or anything but he knew the exact definition of the word, so he must have been cool. He read the dictionary. Even if he didn't make it all the way through, it's likely he at least got to "cool".
So, that's something about me. I let a kid whose summer activity when he was eight was reading a dictionary make me feel like a nerd because of an arbitrary fashion preference. I think about it almost every time I tie my shoes.