Abortion and motherhood: a true story

Preliminary note: Two days ago, I tried to load my resume onto an online recruitment agency website and for some reasons (OK, I admit I am useless when it comes to the multi-touch trackpad options, too old for these tricks) I opened a document I wrote three years ago. It was my way of dealing with all sorts of emotions and guilt I felt when starting the process of getting pregnant.  The following is my most intimate and controversial post so far. Some of my closest friends will be shocked. I agonized about putting it out there but another tragic death  in Ireland due to anti abortion laws gave me the courage to come out: I had a pregnancy termination. Like many women I never talk about it. I felt shame considering that a decade after my abortion I went through fertility treatments but today I am thankful I found caring and understanding hospital staff  who did the procedure in a way that did not scar me for life.
Savita Halappanavar, your death is senseless and I hope this never happens again.
_____________________________________________
She is so pretty, has perfect hair, perfect skin, and a perfect smile.
Her immaculate blouse is blinding. Her interrogation is lethal though, I feel like a stripper being body searched.
‘Are you smoking?’ She will know if I lie so I say ‘yes one or two a day’ with a smug. She is not fazed. She is a pro.
‘How many years have you been smoking for? And how much was the most you have smoked?’‘Well I did quit for 4 years…’
She is so not having any of my crap; I thus give in: 13 years and for 3 years I was on 30 cigarettes a day… I think she’s just choked. Actually it was a slow scream between her pearly teeth. I know what is going follow and my brain starts wandering …my guts tell me get out of here pronto. I know better though. It took me five years to be where I am now. Five years to be now lectured by a perfectly nice and sense making woman who also smells very nice. It’s ok because I want to be here. I must admit that not having my goody two shoes husband sitting next to me smugly say that he’s always been an occasional smoker would help.
It’s ok because I expect to be vilified during my first appointment at a fertility clinic. I am not in my 20s and I am now struggling to get pregnant. What did I think was going to happen, right? But it gets worse…
– Have you ever been pregnant?
– Yes
– What has been the result of the pregnancy?

Thought response: I got it killed and removed from my body because no way I was being a mum.
Actual response: termination by surgical procedure
– Was it by your husband?
Thought response: I don t know
Actual response: 90 % per cent sure so a tiny risk that no … Can I say that we were not really together? (great, I am making things worse: she now thinks I am an addict and a slut).
Good doctor now talks about the 4 Ts (4 tests)
Are you ovulating?
Are your tubes ok?
Is the semen ok?
Are the eggs and sperm meeting somewhere down in the uterus?Yawn. I have been there twice and now must look very smug. But then out of nowhere Mr ‘I nod my head’ starts asking:
About tests my sperm motility was assessed and no issue there, so is there anything else that could be looked at in detail ?Good Doctor is impressed by Good Husband. He is not like most men; he actually wants to know more about what could be wrong with him. Good doctor starts to mumble something about DNA detraction or fragmentation and Good Husband nods. Hang on a second, now that’s enough to make me get out of my lethargy. These two are getting very serious; we are now talking hereditary diseases  (by the way do megalomania -my side- and depression- his side – count?). He is asking about STD and unprotected sex. Did we even agree that we were going to talk about this with Good Doctor – who by now must think that we are swingers, oh lord … They talk about being healthy to carry pregnancies. Now, I was not prepared for what has just happened.That s it G D and G H managed to do it. They did it together. They made it real. She talks about babies being inseminated not embryos (for the first time in 8 years I feel weird and sweaty about by my abortion-is that even fair?). They made it so real that I start touching my belly and I am now all freaked out. They made it so real that I can almost hear the screaming in the night, smell stains of rotten regurgitation, feel the little feet in my hand, see the wrinkly neck and touch the fine back hair. Bastards they did it: I am already a mom.

Holiday season: part One

DH and I absolutely love Thanksgiving. We don’t have it in France so when this holiday comes we relish it because basically it is all about food and wine and it is not Christmas yet. We thus still have time to:

– figure out what gift to buy. My dream toy for the children is big, colorful and has a ‘get the heck out of my living room and disappear in the Teletubbies’ land’ button.

– decide what to tell the kids about Santa. My parents told me nothing about it and for years I thought Santa was a racist pig and only visited white kids…

– agree what traditions our family will have for the holiday season, which are likely to be a mix between my family alcohol filled/seafood affair/dancing party on 24th and DH’s proper opening of the presents followed by a civilized bird focused Christmas lunch on 25th. In other words with 3 babies in tow we might very well end up like a lot of Americans and hit the movies.

Anyway we invited over friends who did not get to go home: two Koreans, one Brit, three French and one Hungarian. We did add a little multicultural twist to the most American meal of the year. Asian devil eggs and sesame noodles as appetizers, no sausages but foie gras and apples for the stuffing, lots of cream in the mashed potatoes, a light but full flavored pumpkin tart from a great French bakery, Choc-O-Pain, forty years old Chrystal glasses and indeed, when only one gets broken despite seven wine bottles being emptied, you feel you have been bloody lucky.

Yes we love Thanksgiving and this year, the kids and their friend Thomas stayed up late to join our karaoke session destroying Dalida’s repertoire, one the most camp gay icon of the 80s in France. Needless to say that the four of them will need therapy.

Mood of the day: turkey ‘hunting’

I woke up with a major freak out – Thanksgiving was Thursday. I had been in a complete denial that I offered to, god knows why, host a Thanksgiving dinner. I started to panic about yams and stuffing and felt the need for an urban huntress vibe to face reality and finally collect the 13lbs turkey which had been waiting for me since Saturday at my local organic butcher (how BOHO of me).  I chose my favorite headpiece: bare buckram round with a vintage wooden bird brooch and brown feathers. I made it years ago when I did not know buckram was supposed to be covered in fabric…I left it like this anyway because I liked the rawness of it; which is why I also wore a lumberjack style top, worn out Italian leather gloves and my very warm and waterproof UGG winter boots to complete the outfit. I also took my little apprentice L, his acolyte Sophie La Giraffe for reinforcement and the best food cart ever: L’s stroller. Once I saw the size of turkey, I thought:

1- this bird is never gonna get into my oven
2- I need a drink
3- who is hosting Thanksgiving next year?

Fashion babbling: the challenge – episode 1

L is at the day care which means it is the day when I must get a shower before 11am and wear something else than sweatpants. It is not an option; it is key to the survival of ME as a self-loving woman. Once out of the shower I got on the weight scale and the verdict was: 120.8lbs (54.79kgs). Yeah!!! Only 15lbs (6.80kgs) to drop by the end of January 2013 so I do not lose a bet with my younger sister. We agreed to drop the same amount of weight. The little B***H is already there waiting to reap the trophy: a pair of Manolo Blanik or Louboutins. DH threatened me on the first day of the bet:’We are not getting your sister some designer shoes so you better get on the treadmill, love. I don’t care how you do it: chop your toes, donate a kidney…you are not losing because we are not paying.’  Yesterday evening as he was looking at  me pigging out on fatty chicken skin (I know, gross…) and a big glass of Cabernet Sauvignon DH suddenly said: ‘What shoe size is your sister? One of my colleagues is selling her Louboutin Leopard print pumps.’
Me: ‘Thanks for the vote of confidence!’
DH: ‘Let’s start being realistic here.’

Today was a good step. I thus dared to try on one of my GANT pre-pregnancy jeans:
ankles, no problem
legs, no problem
hips and bottom, a little squeezing there
tummy, I literally stopped breathing to button up but I did it. I closed my jeans!

However…

with the soft extra belly hanging out of the waistband, the linea negra that refuses to go away and the stretch marks that cover my whole tummy I realized with horror that my middle section looked like a Shar Pei. Great, just bloody great.

Pic from http://www.123rf.com

I am still in a great mood though because ladies, it is all about one small victory at a time, one small victory at a time.

Coffee with a headhunter: the rules not to break

It is not often than I get work connections through my family – mainly because they still don’t know what I was doing before having kids and more comprehensibly what it is I actually want to do now. My sister’s boyfriend once candidly asked: ‘I am confused…your sister has two Masters in Business and Management, worked in Market research, then studied a Masters in Development studies because she wanted to save the world and then took some accessories design classes at the Fashion Institute Technology …I am lost’. What is truly awful about this is that my career schizophrenia has been correctly articulated by a 21 year old boy. I don’t know what is going on but younger generations seem so much more together and so much more serious. Perhaps one of the many consequences of the economic recession: the youth is scared shitless of being unemployed for the rest of their lives. People in our 40s; let’s watch out  because our competition is ruthless. Mark my words: they will eat us alive.

Ok back to the topic … For once I had a family connection, an ‘aunt’ with at least three degrees of separation and through marriage but it still counts. Can you feel how desperate my job search has become? My aunt thus hooked me up with a headhunter for a ‘please find me a well paid job’ coffee chat. After my one hour meeting, my first one since 2010 that did not involve talking about my eggs, measuring my hormonal levels, monitoring my fetuses’ growth or weighing my kids, I learnt a lot. A lot about what not to do at a first meeting after your maternity leave:
1- do not forget to ask people’s cell phone number. It is obvious but somehow two years with my head in dirty diapers made me forget this simple rule. It would have avoided the awkward search around in one of the busiest Starbucks coffee shops in town, which leads me to
2- even though you are not working you should have in mind business like places for meetings in business areas because people who work will NEVER come all the way up to Harlem for a coffee in your local quiet Senegalese bakery. And you want to look like you are in charge and know the cool places.
3- Do not start talking about your résumé while looking for a coffee place because they are not listening!!! It is cold, it is early in the morning, they have caffeine withdrawal so you should really shut up…in fact the next rule is probably the most important
4- you have missed conversation with another adult, especially one that makes you feel that you are more than a breeding cow or a living exercauser but it is not a reason to start sharing every single detail about your life. Repeat after me: A HEAD HUNTER IS NOT YOUR BFF (Best Friend Forever). They don’t care about you not sleeping because your little brats wanted to watch TV at 3am. They do not care!
Anyway despite my verbal diarrhea the headhunter managed to pep talk me: strong résumé and logical career moves (the key word here being logical my friends). He told me to write down the top 5 companies I wanted to work for and he would check if he had any connections. He seemed confounded that I could not answer straight away but I am sure he would have struggled with my spontaneous list: Alexander Wang, the Ford Foundation, any big Women’s rights organizations, President Obama and myself…

Not sure where this meeting would lead me but it was worth doing this exercise if only to wear grown up clothing and get the free coffee.

Mood of the day: I’m like a bird by Nelly Furtado

I knew I wanted to have some kind of hunting/pheasant feel for my 37th birthday outfit – the 18th I am celebrating with DH who was born on the exact same day. It is weird to think that we are like twins who have twins. Thank god for L’s arrival which disrupted our slightly freakish household dynamics. Anyway I had in my head these flamboyant dark feathers assembled behind a golden vintage brooch that I was going to pin on my one shoulder American Apparel but I had a last minute technical issue. Note: when you have three kids you should not attempt to design an accessory from scratch 30 minutes before you are out of the door because you are doomed to: 1- have a wardrobe meltdown 2- thus be late and get your DH pacing around you trying to be patient but really starting to sweat in his jacket and wishing he was married to a somewhat lower maintenance gal.

In the end I opted to show the world a headpiece I put together a year ago using an old belt and a red feather I stole from a dinner party at the Buddha/Ajna bar and add to the look a diamantes Roberto Cavalli belt and my favorite suede Tassel high heeled boots by YSL. Turns out  that although I loved the fierce look, with my post pregnancy belly that is still there (pfff), I felt more like a Turkey than a bird. Oh well, I had a hell of a party so felt not too shabby for a 37 year old mama.

Beb-election night: Congratulations President Obama

I woke up this morning utterly exhausted because G & L kept us awake all night. However beyond the exhaustion, I felt relief. Relief that America came to their senses to give Obama four more years. For me the choice was obvious because I am a non white gay hag woman who is not American and thus constitute the core support for Obama.

It was obvious because on one side we had a consistent man who had to release his birth certificate  to justify he was ‘good’ enough to run, on the other side another man who has presented the voters with more versions of himself than Apple released Iphone versions AND still dodges tax details releases.On one side, we had the Clintons and Biden, on the other side, Paul ‘I hate women’ Ryan. And if people were still not convinced, on one side you had Bob fucking Dylan and Bruce Springsteen and on the other side you had…Kid Rock. So yeah it seemed so obvious to me that I could not believe  how close the race was at the beginning of the evening. I kept checking live results updates on my phone while nursing L in the dark. Note: I have been lying to everyone about me weaning him off; I still breastfeed him because it is the ONLY to SHUT HIM UP. This boy is going to have mummy issues. For sure.

Around midnight – I think – while I was trying to put L to sleep by rocking him left to right and flexing my legs up and down (someone should come up with a name for this move) I got finally delivered: one more term. I slightly woke DH up and said: “Honey, all is right. We don’t have to leave the country.’ I here paraphrase part of an excellent NY Times article on Obama’s re-election:

‘[But] it was a strong endorsement of economic policies that stress job growth, health care reform, tax increases and balanced deficit reduction — and of moderate policies on immigration, abortion and same-sex marriage. It was a repudiation of Reagan-era bromides about tax-cutting and trickle-down economics, and of the politics of fear, intolerance and disinformation’.

Why did I care so much? My three kids are American. I never planned it this way but I feel strongly about their birth country not going back to the Dark Ages. Indeed besides Obama’s win other losses were quite telling. People have spoken and finally said FO to:

Todd Akin, Mr ‘From what I understand from doctors . . . if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.’

Richard Mourdock, Mr ‘pregnancy from rape was an act of God’. [I would like to make a special shout out to the ladies of Indiana. I have been told that my blog had quite a following there 🙂 You rock!]

If the news media were doing their democratic work instead of chasing controversies they would now send these  two back into oblivion. No more columns for these lunatics please. And while I am at it can someone send D. Trump somewhere in a galaxy far far away?

Hurricane Sandy aka Frankenstorm – part Two

When hurricane Irene came, DH and I argued about whether to duct tape our windows or not. Irene did affect our lives, though not by flooding our apartment in Harlem: we got bored, we drank and we probably conceived L then.
When hurricane Sandy came, half of Manhattan turned pitch black and was flooded. In our small apartment, a different type of storm was causing havoc.
Here is the tale of perhaps the longest week in my life.

Day 4 – Monday

I spent all day gauging the sky while DH was monitoring the weather situation online. I kept wondering whether we should risk going to the store to buy stuff we probably wouldn’t need (we are New Yorkers and when things are uncertain, we swipe our credit cards) or risk taking the kids for a walk despite the mist. Clouds were becoming really threatening but everyone we knew seemed to be high spirited. Facebook updates were about people getting booze, stacking up food, purchasing batteries. Everyone seemed jolly; it looked like we were all going to a bloody camp fire in the Catskills. As the day progressed, the kids were increasingly getting out of control: G was banging the garden door screaming ‘outside, outside’, P was slightly nervous and kept saying ‘A-peur’ (‘Scared’) and L was very unsettled. I was looking at L and it did scare me a little. Aren’t babies like dogs and they sense danger?

A ‘Wuthering Heights’ like wind was bending the bamboo plants on our terrace. We tried to calm down the kids as well as we could; meaning we let them watch ‘Barney’ (a show about an annoying Purple dinosaur with annoying white teeth), snack crap,  climb and run over high chairs as if they were a freaking gymnastics beam and  throw everything on the floor. We tried to get advice through Facebook. Among the best tips: mix formula with beer and insure our home contents for storm-induced rage. To make matters worse we absolutely had no wine to drink but Sake. Sake. We were so desperate that we did drink the Sake with ice cubes to go with Foie gras – BLASPHEMY.

After dinner, our bamboo plants were still bending but nothing more  and DH and I were seriously bored. And then suddenly something weird happened. My very socially networked friends suddenly stopped communicating: no more FB updates, no more text messages, no more Twitting.

Day 5 – Tuesday

After a ruined breakfast during which my homemade pancakes were thrown down on the floor, we decided to switch on the TV. That’s when we realized what some of our fellow New Yorkers and New Jersey neighbors went through: devastating winds, threatening flooding, Con Ed plant in flames, power outages. Neighbors hanging out with their wired kids in our building hallway were telling us about their friends from downtown staying over with their families. We have been the lucky ones. Somehow none of our friends accepted our invitation to crash on the couch. Looks like no power, no water, no heat  is still better than 3 screaming puking babies. Go figure.

When the kids started to run out of the apartment in their pajamas we decided to go for a family stroll in Morningside Park.

We then truly realized the extent of Sandy damages…This amazing New York Magazine cover says it all: we, New Yorkers never wanted to see it or think about it when we hop in yellow cabs, down martinis or queue for Broadway shows but The City does sleep…sometimes.

Hurricane Sandy aka Frankenstorm – part One

When hurricane Irene came, DH and I argued about whether to duct tape our windows or not. Irene did affect our lives, though not by flooding our apartment in Harlem: we got bored, we drank and we probably conceived L then.
When hurricane Sandy came, half of Manhattan turned pitch black and was flooded. In our small apartment, a different type of storm was causing havoc.
Here is the tale of perhaps the longest week in my life.

Friday – Day 1: motherhood spleen

Rosalie, our nanny, took a day off for the Tabaski holiday (African term for the Muslin Eid holiday) so I had to fend off my very petulant twins while L was at our emergency day care center. Obviously they did not get their morning bath and the TV was on for a good two hours in the morning. I did wake up with very good intentions though: I was not going to lose my temper, I was going to enjoy every minute of it, I was going to take them to the museum, I was not going to hog my iPhone all day etc. Then it turned to hell. I cannot even remember how, when, why. But I do remember thinking: ‘Boy, I, really, really suck at this whole mum thing’ while checking my Facebook status. Meanwhile DH left a voice message on my phone: ‘Darling, I want to warn you about a tragic murder in Upper West Side (few blocks from us). An horrific story about a nanny killing the kids she was taking care of and then trying to kill herself… I know it is going to freak you out so I wanted to warn you before you read about it’. So I read a NY times article and it did shake me to the chore. I felt empty for the family. And then I started to read the comments: some mothers called it a ‘9/11 for families’ while others called selfish, mums who have to hire strangers to take care of their own children. I felt angry. However the more I was reading the more I was feeling hurt. I was disgusted by these people blaming yet again women and mothers and planting (momentarily) in my head some seeds of doubt about my lifeline, our nanny. Yes I was pissed off big time. That’s when I heard for the first time about a Hurricane moving towards New York. They called it Frankenstorm.

I was so getting plastered…

Day 2: Why karaoke is not for the kids

I woke up with pain in my wrist. I have a feeling that this pain occurred when I was singing the Phantom of the Opera with DH at 3am, with our kids as audience. The kids woke up minutes before we got home from a bar crawl with Thor. Sensible parents would have put them back to bed. But we were all ‘Let’s have a blast!’ and danced and sang to show tunes, queer approved songs and Michael Jackson essentials. G was spinning, jumping, shouting at the top of his lungs holding a pretend play wooden spatula. L was sitting on the couch jamming on a tambourine and for a 6 month old baby he was sounding pretty good. He did look scary; in fact he looked like a Chucky doll stabbing someone. As for P, she was rather unimpressed by our demented performances but tagged along. She understood that you don’t get to choose your family. DH and I thought that an impromptu slumber party would help the kids wake up later…Stupid idea, wrong planning. Instead, they woke up chirpier than usual. The pain in my wrist thus became the least of my concern; my head kept spinning all day because of the screaming, the tantrums, the ‘TV please’, ‘TV please’, ‘TV please’… And in between heart palpitations and pain killers, I learnt the name for the hurricane: Sandy. I could not help thinking about Grease. A Hurricane named like a Olivia Newton-John character cannot be scary, can it?

Day 3: A-peur Ha-ween

This year’s Halloween was supposed to be great: the twins were old enough to enjoy the festivities, I was not pregnant so I could finally wear something else than a parachute or a pregnant nun outfit .This was last year’s costume bought by DH which I refused to wear. I am not religious but it was too disrespectful, plus we do live in America and I was completely paranoid that religious conservatives would stab into what they thought was a fake pregnant belly…Yikes. Anyway this year P and I were going to be the White Swan/Black Swan duo. But she refused for hours to wear her tutu until she realized that G was proud to be my understudy Swan, doing spins like a little ballerina. Note: Thor and Archibald always said that G could never be gay because he was throwing balls too well and was playing too rough. However he does love to wear tutus, he is obsessed with Glee and he keeps asking me to tell him he is pretty. Interesting.
The building Halloween party was fun despite the fact that P got completely freaked out by some older kids. I must admit that the kid wearing a mask with fake blood streaming down his forehead while carrying around a bloody knife was unsettling. For about 3 days after that P kept saying: ‘A-peur Ha-ween’ ( ‘Scared of Halloween’). Cute to start with, super annoying after the 50th time…Meanwhile you could feel the weather turning and I was starting to feel jittery. DH’s laid backness was getting annoying too:
Me: ‘Should we go and buy non perishable food?

DH:‘Don’t we have tins left over from Irene?

Me: I should probably fill the bath tub with water, right?

DH: If you want.
Arrrrgggggghhhh. To be continued.

Mood of the day: rain warrior

Last thursday, New Yorkers were drenched by heavy rain and with this, rain boots inundated the streets and museums: classic Hunter, foldable rain boots by Redfoot, equestrian D&G, comfy Threton…As for me, I wore my MK logo rain boots by Michael Kors for my very first visit (I am slightly embarrassed to admit this) of the Metropolitan Museum. This place is one of a kind. Unbelievable. Below an inspiration board I made, Fall(en) soldier.

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