friends

I have three here. THREE. (And one likely wouldn’t even qualify as a friend as we would make no effort to connect to each other if not for the shared activity of our children.) But then I haven’t gone out of my way to make them, and I’m not the sort anyway to collect them.  Even in graduate school, when almost every person there seemed similar enough to forge a friendship (aside from a few very brilliant and confident or strange ones), I only had a group of about twenty people I’d see on a regular basis outside of classes and work.  Here, especially, though, it seems harder for me.  I feel as I did in high school, that the people who surround me and who share life circumstances with me are fundamentally different. They have other things that define their lives besides motherhood, or they are more into collecting luxury goods, or their brand of Christianity defines them through and through, or they are not the sort to dwell on things or analyze each parenting decision, or they are a bit too boastful of their own children.

I talk to one grad school runner friend at least once a week, about everything, parenting, her divorce, her in-laws, her budding relationship, and I’m of course genuinely happy that she’s head-over-heels in love, but at the same time it leaves less for us to discuss. What can I say except that I’m happy for them beyond words? But then I guess I had the same feeling when she was in the early stages of separation with her husband. What was there to say except that things were terrible and would get better. She was in a similar position for me when I was on bed rest after losing Baby B, but she seemed to navigate that awkward position with more grace.

I email several from graduate school, but we’re all similar personality types; we want intimate conversations or nothing, so the thought of updating our lives in an intimate way becomes exhausting and time-consuming.

I don’t update my life on social media, I don’t post pictures of myself or my children or my house. It feels superficial, pandering, uncomfortable, and I found that it breeds more dissatisfaction for me than connection.

I send my parents several pictures and videos of the girls almost daily, text with my mother back and forth almost every night.

Beyond that, I live my life largely in isolation. My conversations during the day are with my children, some pleasantries with the teachers at Elena’s school, neighbors I happen to see, other children when we’re out and about, workers coming to clean the gutters or windows, and Ryan of course depending on when he gets home from work.

I try so hard to keep things humming along (floors and counters clear of crumbs, hands washed and hair combed, meals and snacks relatively healthy, naps on time and diapers dry, exercise and productive activities for all) that I sometimes miss out on the moments that all of this background preparatory work is only supposed to scaffold:  Elena and Lila laughing and playing together, Elena collapsing into my arms in giggles, Lila beaming to see her communication get through to me. These moments seem to make up like the slimmest sliver of the pie chart of my day even though everything else is white noise. And then, even less than that slimmest sliver, is the time that I devote to my friends.

I’m not sure what the point is here, except that I’m lonely when I think about it, but often I’m so busy that I don’t.

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pests, pumps

I can feel my depression returning, or rather can hear it walking with heavier steps through the hallways since it’s never really been gone.

Two days ago, in preparation for a home inspection, I piled all of my pump parts in a small bowl in my sink and removed the large stand where they typically dry.  Somehow it felt intimate to have the inspector photograph such things, although when the inspectors came the next day they accidentally walked in on me with my boob hanging out as I nursed Lila in her bedroom.

Slowly some things are returning to a pre-pregnancy state.  We have our bed back, after a pest infestation and various iterations of slob (mattress without headboard, mattress with metal frame, king bedframe with queen mattress, and now king bedframe with a loaner king mattress since our delivery continues to be delayed).

This pest infestation has unsettled me as it would any anxious person, but it’s preyed on my worst tendencies. When I read online that certain measures might be taken in a full-blown infestation (Ryan found only one bug, by the way), I began taking them in all of the rooms of our house.  Our washer and dryer were running for almost three days straight. I began to inspect every piece of fuzz, no matter how small — and still do. If I found a tiny curled up desiccated carcass I’d put it in my palm, turn it over, inspect it, take a picture to zoom enhance, try to count the legs, and eventually flush it away so I couldn’t return to examine it further later.

Ryan has just sent me a text that Lila is awake and I’m needed.  You get the point.  I was thinking today that Elena is very artistic, perhaps she’ll be an artist; and then I had a fleeting thought that I, too, wanted to be an artist when I was young, that I used to be able to put words together in a way that some told me was artistic. I would spend hours writing, notebooks upon notebooks, and then hours and hours at the computer. Now I’m lucky to get out fifteen minutes about a pest infestation. You see how I swung for the fences, slowly unspooling the narrative, unsuspecting that I’d have only this limited time to process this rather mundane moment from our lives that has nevertheless managed to unhinge me.

Add to this: worries that Elena isn’t social at school, Lila’s fitful sleeping, my dad’s kidney transplant…well, you get the point.

murder in the 21st century

It’s her boyfriend, that’s quite obvious. Here’s a link to his facebook page. You can tell he’s guilty by the way he looks.  He’s not crying enough, he’s not angry enough. He seems to have wounds on his face, or maybe those are just pimples.  I sent him an accusatory message two days ago and he hasn’t responded, not even to prove to me that it wasn’t him. He’s obviously guilty. Look at Scott Peterson. Look at Chris Watts. It’s always the boyfriend.

It’s her brothers, or her mom. Who doesn’t follow up when a child doesn’t appear for dinner? My brothers were mean to me, but her brothers crossed the line. One choked her, one made a joke about defecating on her dead body. Maybe he was just joking, but it isn’t funny. He strikes me as the sort of person who thinks he’s really funny but is really just a bully.  Her mother was laughing during an interview.  My question is, what’s so funny? She seems off. How is she even standing there? I wouldn’t be able to stand if this happened to me, and fortunately it hasn’t. They all seem strange except for the dad.

Her dad seems articulate and credible, but maybe too much so. He probably hid her away rather than engage in a lengthy custody battle with his ex. If you don’t like my theories, you can just leave, because that’s what this message board is for, sharing our theories.

Her Fitbit pinged to a hog farm? Good lord. We’ll never find her. What, do you think she’s disguised as a hog lol? No, hogs eat everything, all of it, there’s no trace. If she was dumped there we’ll never find the body.

Look at his picture from his work bio. It looks like the Delphi murderer, the same mole and everything. Plus the co-op security camera by her home happened to be down that night, and he’s head of the IT Department. His area code is just 30 minutes north of Delphi, as is his neighbor. They were in cahoots. Call the tip line.

His wife has multiple DUIs. Who cares if he’s on city council? That’s probably how he knew who to frame in the town. His wife kinda looks like her too; he probably accosted her because she reminded him of his wife, she rebuffed him, and he took things too far. From his Facebook page you can see that he was off of work that day, at his son’s baseball game, but that would still leave time for him to bludgeon her.

The FBI doesn’t know what they’re doing. You might want to send some of these tips to the FBI, perhaps they haven’t thought of these suspects yet.

Good God, can you imagine what she went through? It’s hard to imagine, but let’s do. He probably rammed her with his car, stabbed her with a knife, battered her with a nearby rock, strangled her with his bare hands, slit her throat. How long did it take her to die? Here are some different options and timelines. It’s morbid, I know, but fun to think about. There are thousands of ways he might have accosted her, and I’ll bet we can think of every one.

I’m afraid she was raped beforehand. I don’t like to think about it, but let’s do. Was it in the cornfield or his trailer or the car or an unidentified location? Will the body be too decomposed to recover semen?

Here’s a link to the different stages of a body in decomposition. Hers was likely in the last stage, unless he killed her recently, but I’m guessing it’s the last, plus it was originally waterlogged from the rain. Her dad probably identified her body by the dental record or an item of clothing. Can you imagine seeing her body just as it is in the last image on this page?

The autopsy says “multiple sharp force injuries.” What does that mean, exactly? “Sharp force injuries are characterized by a relatively well-defined traumatic separation of tissues, occurring when a sharp-edged or pointed object comes into contact with the skin and underlying tissues. Three specific subtypes of sharp force injuries exist, as follows: stab wounds, incised wounds, and chop wounds.”

“Chop wounds,” you say? was she dismembered?

I don’t know about dismembered, but she was naked and face up. I’m not sure why she was face up, but we can speculate. Seems obvious why she was naked.

It could also include any object you might have in your car, like a tire pressure gauge, screwdriver, pen, pencil, tire iron….just listing things in my personal vehicle. It doesn’t have to be a knife.

Personally I think she was sexually assaulted in the cornfield, just my intuition.

Fortunately when I run I carry mace and a small little pocket knife and I have my fingers always hovering above the emergency button of my phone. This could never happen to me. Women, be careful and you can prevent this from happening to you!!!!

He looks like evil incarnate, a sicko, a psycho, a POS. I would love to defecate on his corpse.

Her poor mother and brothers. I feel terrible that I suspected them. I hope they don’t get on here to read this.

He shouldn’t be here in the first place. Does he speak English?  He doesn’t seem smart enough or strong enough to do this. He must’ve had help, I’m guessing from his ex-girlfriend.

Every Monday should be dedicated to her memory. But we don’t know her well, only use her memory to reassure ourselves that we will never be a corpse in a cornfield. Let’s post safety information every Monday. Here’s an app you can download for a nominal fee that will track your every co-ordinate and send it to the cloud.

This whole thing is so horrible, but on the positive side I did meet a lot of online friends and genuinely nice people. Prayers and hugs to her family.

 

summer

What can I say? Spring has given way to summer. Elena has started preschool in the mornings and she loves it and so do I. But my brain feels bulldozed. My days used to be spent thinking — about anything, everything…reading a novel per week, several articles per day, news on my phone and educational podcasts on my runs. And now…tumbleweed, cricket chirps, cobwebs. Most embarrassingly, I’ve lost all interest in news of the outside world aside from fluff pieces, or stories that tap into my deepest fears as a mother, like the Ride the Duck disaster where a mother lost her husband and three children, or the disappearance of the 20-year-old Mollie Tibbetts in small-town Iowa.  It feels so egotistical, so cloistered, to reject all else, but here I am redesigning a play room to be more in line with my altered philosophy of “play” and a child’s relationship to objects; here I am ordering a new quilt and re-thinking the layout of Elena’s room to make it more her own; all roads, even to the outside, simply lead back to Motherhood and the Domestic, all else is sanded down, stripped away, discarded.  The weather has been beautiful but we spend a large part of it inside, waiting for Elena to wake up from her afternoon nap.  Then it’s a rush of dinner, tired squawking from Lila, the Bedtime Routine. My life feels a bit aimless at the moment, although I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that.  But other interests — reading, running, cooking, socializing, writing, drinking, volunteering, photographing, hiking — all seem tabled until Lila begins preschool in a few years. I was going to go somewhere with this, but Elena is starting to wake up. I’m not complaining, just surprised, I suppose, at where my life has led me and where I’ve agreed to go.

a wasn’t

Numby is your imaginary friend. She’s a baby, a big girl, whatever you need at the moment. You’re pregnant with her, she swings next to you in an empty blue swing with yellow chains, she wears one rain boot and one fur-lined winter boot while you wear the matching pair. She cries with you and she laughs with you and she runs with you. When you feel alone, Numby is there. When you look to the stars, Numby is there in the sky and beside you at the same time.

Before your nap, we read your Dr. Seuss birthday book together and I keep my voice sing-song and lilting, sound over meaning: “If you’d never been born, well then what would you be?” A Numby, perhaps, or your twin Baby B.

“Why, you might be a WASN’T! A Wasn’t has no fun at all. No, he doesn’t. A Wasn’t just isn’t. He just isn’t present.”

We look at the picture of the towering birthday cake, the light-filled palace, the endless sparkling mountain pool, the bursting colorful flowers. “These are beautiful,” I say, intentionally, maybe even a bit robotically, because I worry that I don’t point out beauty to you enough, just dangers, germs, pokey prickly toxic things that can hurt even invisibly.

“But you…You ARE YOU! And, now isn’t that pleasant!”

I tell her to shout “I AM I!” after me, which she finds quite fun, but it doesn’t have the exorcistic effect I had been hoping for.

You AREN’T you. Not quite, but almost. We aren’t we, either. We’re a WASN’T.

The smell of freshly cut grass makes things seem better than they are when the distractions are taken away. I miss you, B. You would be turning three soon and shouting along too: “I AM I!”

i used to think

that i was my own worst critic, but now, quite the opposite, i find that in my retracted circle no one can say anything nice about anything that i do, which i suppose reinforces my belief that i’m not doing anything very well anyway. the dinner is never varied enough, healthy enough, tasty enough. ryan can’t help because apparently i’ve (once again) decided to make the baby dependent on the boob, as if this isn’t a pretty natural state of things for any baby who’s given access to boob 24/7.  i leave him alone with lila for 10 minutes so i can have one-on-one time with elena and i return to screams, both of them appearing shell shocked and accusatory. to my mother-in-law, we’re not visiting enough, i’m too lax with the children, i’m too skinny or i’ve let myself go, all positive traits of the children are due to their innate genetic superiority (deriving in a straight line from “her” side, of course) and the negative are due to the parenting decisions i’ve bulldozed ryan into accepting. i have no time to myself; even this blog post is written with lila mashing her face into my chest and a flickering realization that i shouldn’t think about things and should just eat some ice cream — dairy free, of course, for lila. i feel that i am nothing, nothing but a battery to be drained to keep two children functioning.

elena’s tantrums feel like a personal failure. whatever she’s doing, it never feels like enough when we go out and other parents show off their child’s latest tricks, their ABCs, their counting, their ability to dress themselves or toilet themselves, even though she’s doing all of it, all of it and more, there’s always something she’s not doing that makes me feel that maybe she’s falling behind because i’ve done something wrong. and her emotions are so fever pitched; she can’t be coaxed down from them, reasoned with. at home i barely notice the effort i put into making her feel heard, but then when i’m trying to socialize with adults and let her play with other children, she’s constantly intruding, urgently dependent. she’s always the one — and always has been the one, ever since she was three months old — ending the play date with her screams. maybe it was the pregnancy, i think. maybe my grief and volatility in the pregnancy made her this way. how could she not be this way when i was beside myself every day of that pregnancy? i’ve read enough about epigenetics to know that these things endure for generations and in ways you’d never expect.

i don’t recognize myself in the mirror; i’m a sagging sad soggy slobby remnant of myself, with unruly hair and parchment skin and joyless determined eyes. my mind is thinking of which counters need wiped, which food re-heated, which child put down for a nap, which carpets vacuumed. i came across a profile of a girl i went to graduate school with and she was writing floridly, with passion, of the political power of poetry, and it all felt as vacuous as my own preoccupation with counter crumbs, but i missed the self-delusion that i was doing something worth doing. i’m not quite in my pre-pregnancy clothes and too small for my maternity clothes so i walk around in ill-fitting purgatory, my maternity tops hanging emptily around my belly or my hips slopping over my waistband. i feel like weeping from the solitude, the sense of failure that clings to everything i do. is this just depression? post-partum something? it seems too late to blame it on that. is there some label that can make this feel more normal, less like a personal failure?

only my mother seems to accept us all without judgment, although even she tries to show off elena when i don’t, which makes me feel that even she thinks that elena is coming off in a negative light compared to bubbly and boisterous toddlers. it pains me to see my own traits reflected in elena: the intelligence unrecognized because of shyness, quirkiness, a refusal to self-advertise. i think of the times when i refused to answer a question in a class simply because it didn’t seem worth doing, simply because i didn’t feel like it and for no good reason really.

lila

now we’re approaching the dates when you were starting to exist last year, when the ice was thawing and the temperatures were rising, and the unthinkable had happened and i was pregnant again without any ado.

at 3.5 weeks, I felt physical repulsion to handling a raw chicken. two days later i took a test and it told me that you were there; your cells were dividing. ryan was in arizona for his uncle’s funeral. i texted him that night, something like “it looks like i’m pregnant. we’ll see if the line darkens.” if i’m being honest, deep down i thought that it would.

at 6 weeks we had an ultrasound and your heart was beating away just as it should. “what’s the implantation site?” i asked, and the tech said, “hmm…it’s hard to tell” which i knew was a lie. i asked the PA later and she looked at the scan for a bit and said, “umm…it’s on the left.” to me, this question was more important than the heartbeat, and it needed to be on the left, but i knew how easily images could seem inverted or rotated on a scan. i didn’t trust the PA, mostly because she seemed so hesitant herself. as i sat in an airport in omaha, waiting for my flight to san diego to celebrate ryan’s 40th birthday, i kept pulling your ultrasound picture out and scrutinizing it surreptitiously. i didn’t even want strangers to know that i was pregnant, much less that i was devoting so much attention to this rectangular proof that you were in there, for now.

in san diego i looked at ryan’s iPad and discovered that he had already told his mother about the pregnancy. i had barely missed my period. i was infuriated. i couldn’t bring myself to talk to him. i looked up the costs of earlier flights home. i’m sure his friends, who obviously didn’t know what had happened, thought that i was being “moody,” “flighty,” “emotionally manipulative,” but in truth i was so irate that he had broken my trust on my one request of him ever that i was contemplating divorce.

at 8 weeks a tech i trusted confirmed that you were on the left. the MFM doctor who saw me through elena’s pregnancy said it was the perfect spot, it couldn’t be any better. i bought a doppler and started checking for your heartbeat almost every night. i felt deep down that you would make it but my stomach always dropped when i got the wand out and i felt unsettled for the rest of the day if i couldn’t find your heartbeat.

at 13 weeks the mild nausea passed and at 16 weeks we found out that you were a girl and that everything looked as it should. they said your heart wasn’t large enough yet to get a good look at it but they were sure it was fine.

at 20 weeks everything looked fine with your heart. my cervix was long and closed and remained that way at subsequent check-ups. there wasn’t a single thing to worry about.

at 25 weeks I told my brothers that I was pregnant again. i told a few friends. i thought at any moment i might go into labor with you, although there was no medical reason to do so.

at 28 weeks we went to omaha for a family reunion, the only time i’d traveled the entire pregnancy aside from the san diego trip at 6 weeks, and on the morning of the reunion i had brown spotting. “it’s nothing,” ryan said. “don’t call about it.” i called anyway and happened to get nancy, my favorite nurse. “that’s very normal,” she said. “it’s nothing to worry about.” online i read that it could mean your cervix is thinning. during the reunion i went to the portapotty every hour at least to wipe and check. it seemed to be getting better, but while making small talk about a cousin’s trip to europe, i couldn’t help thinking in the back of my mind that maybe we would lose you.

the weeks ticked away. at 35 weeks i began hyperventilating about uterine rupture. the nights were unbearable. everything had been too easy, too easy, from conceiving you the first month tried to the clear scans at every single check up.

if i’m being honest, i tried not to think about you, not to plan for you, not to feel pregnant, not to think of anything except getting through the current day. and now that i’m certain you’re the last, i feel nostalgic for a joyful and easy pregnancy i feel like i barely experienced. with a different uterus, a different temperament, a different age, a different support system, we might have had another and another and another.