You Are The Everything.

Mike was popular. Girls giggled whenever he was around. And the boys did everything they could to try and impress him. He was that guy in the fourth grade. I am absolutely certain everyone knows a that guy.

I was 10. I was so not that guy. I was awkward looking—gangly. Pale as hell. I had impossibly frizzy hair. (I’m the one on the far right, dressed in blue. This shot was taken a year or so after fourth grade, but you get the picture.)

10500528_678886248858257_2274410697562116141_n

My family and I had just moved to North Carolina from Pennsylvania. Not only did I feel awkward and uncomfortable in my own preteen skin, but I was also an outsider. I had a strange accent (i.e. not a southern one). I knew not one person at my new school—not one.

In fact, since we’d moved to North Carolina that summer, only one kid had spoken a word to me. His name was Aaron. He lived on my block. He eventually became one of my closest friends. He made me feel OK. He had a way of making most people feel OK.

Other than Aaron, who did not ride my bus, I had no one to talk to. I did have a Walkman and a pair of headphones and they kept me company. Every day, to and from school, I would put on my headphones and disappear. I was really good at it. Escaping everything and everyone around me came easy, easier than actually talking to people. I would turn myself into a ghost by entering a fantasy world that ran adjacent to the one I was supposed to exist in. In my imaginary world, sometimes I was popular. Boys liked me and girls invited me to their slumber parties. Sometimes I was cool. I usually had straight hair. I wasn’t pale. My freckles were gone. Sometimes I could do flips off a diving board or tap dance. My fantasies changed daily, but my worlds always had a soundtrack. Sometimes soundtracks would change along with my internal discourse. It was George Michael sometimes. Then it would be Michael Jackson for a bit. Cyndi Lauper made several appearances. There was a ton of Prince. Sometimes Blondie. When I was really young, like 5 and 6, it was George Burns, Olivia Newton John, Sylvia, and Kenny Rogers.

I loved music.

I still love music. Music has been my confidant, my most trustworthy friend since as early as I have memory. It sticks by me no matter how awkward I am. It stood by me no matter how many times I thought I’d never survive a broken heart. It was there to see me through the deaths of several friends. Music has walked alongside me throughout my entire life. When I’m hurting, I listen to music. When I’m happy, I turn to music. Without music, I don’t think I would have survived, quite frankly. I know that sounds dramatic; and there’s no way to know if it’s indeed true. But I feel pretty comfortable saying that music has been the brightness during my darkest hours, the darkness when I needed more. Music allowed me to escape one minute and arrive the next. Music made me realize that pain was usually temporary, but also very real. When I felt lonely, which was all of the time back then, I knew that as long as music existed, I would never ever truly be alone.

So, back to the bus, Mike and George Michael.

At that time—the beginning of fourth grade—many of my fantasies were born from the song “Careless Whisper”. I loved that damn song. I listened to that song over and over and over again. I would finish it, rewind it, play it again. I did this so many times, I knew exactly how long to hold down the rewind button on my Walkman before hitting the end of the previous song. I was good.

In truth, I really wanted a boy to notice me. I thought that if a boy took notice of me, maybe girls would like me too. I wanted a boy to fall in love with me and write songs about me, maybe even play the guitar. And “Careless Whisper” helped me come up with some pretty remarkable, totally unbelievable fantasies. Sometimes, depending on my mood, my fantasy would become a comically dark one. One that would end with my dying in an enormous, very dramatic, fiery car crash and my imaginary boyfriend would be devastated upon hearing the news. “Careless Whisper” became the song that would remind him of me. And he would cry. And, somehow (I think because I liked the idea of ghosts) I was able to watch him mourn from another mysterious plane of existence. It felt good watching someone miss me that much.

In my fantasy world, nothing was off limits. Even unicorns.

Sometimes, my imaginary boyfriend would leave me for another girl only to realize that the new girl wasn’t nearly as cool and beautiful as me and so he’d leave her, try and come back to me, but I was long gone and in love another amazing boy. I made up fantasy after fantasy to the song “Careless Whisper”. I was really, really good at shapeshifting reality.

I feel so unsure
As I take your hand and lead you to the dance floor

One afternoon, returning home from school on the bus with my headphones on, I was listening to “Careless Whisper” fantasizing about my imaginary life with my super cute boyfriend, when Mike the popular guy walked up to me.

As the music dies, something in your eyes
Calls to mind the silver screen

He hands me a folded, red heart made out of construction paper. He blushes and returns to his seat.

And all its sad good-byes

I open the paper heart.

“You’re cute.”

You know how when you’re in a moving car with the window down and something like a receipt, or a dollar bill gets swept up into a swirling stream of air, and the pressure from the air outside the window sucks that thing right out into the universe before you can even figure out what the hell it it? That was my fantasy that day. Full swirl, then sucked right up and out the window, out to mingle with the humid North Carolina air.

Mike thinks I’m cute?

“Careless Whisper” became even more meaningful after that. I didn’t need to fantasize anymore about the popular boy because a popular boy in my REAL life thought I was cute. I could just listen to that song and relive that entire moment, over and over and over again. I did embellish it a bunch though. He would sometimes sit next to me. Sometimes, he’d hold my hand. My creativity went to shit whenever something remotely real made an appearance.

Anyway, I carried that construction paper heart everywhere I went. It was like a hot secret, burning holes through my paperbacks, my pockets, the bottom of my pillow at night. And for a week I waited for him to write more, say something—anything. I would have settled for a glance. Nothing.

So one day, a popular girl started talking to me. I have no idea why. This wasn’t normal. I’m guessing it was all part of the plan. But she started talking to me about boys and school and I figured maybe I could confide in her about the heart-shaped note. So I told her. I told her Mike had given me a note on the bus saying he thought I was cute.

She laughed. “Yeah. I know. We dared him to do that. I can’t believe he actually did!”

I’m never gonna dance again
Guilty feet have got no rhythm
Though it’s easy to pretend
I know you’re not a fool

While the song still held meaning and I continued to listen to it, I no longer fantasized about Mike and his careless paper heart. I no longer fantasized about anyone to that song. That song was put on a shelf and whenever I did listen to it, I did so simply to enjoy it. Which was perfectly acceptable if not normal for most people.

There are days where I’m amazed that I survived my youth. There are days where I worry about what my kids are going to experience. There are days where I wish I could tell everyone it’s gonna be OK and mean it. I want to say that you should find your friend, even if it’s music, and let that hold you. Because it will mostly be OK.

Mostly.

Time can never mend
The careless whispers of a good friend
To the heart and mind
Ignorance is kind
There’s no comfort in the truth
Pain is all you’ll find

Over the last 24 hours, I have watched messages scroll across my computer screen. Tweets, Facebook posts, articles—thousands of people mourning the loss of George Michael. Some people might call us silly because we didn’t know him. He didn’t know us. But I think many of us needed him. He, like countless other musicians, made us feel OK; they made us feel safe. They were our friends.

Please don’t judge a person for how they mourn or who they mourn for. Compassion grows out of real emotion, and if 2016 has taught me anything, it’s that we need more compassion.

I owe a great deal of thanks to so many musicians. George Michael. Olivia Newton John. Ted Leo. John Darnielle (of the Mountain Goats). Michael Stipe. Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia). Greenday. Quicksand. The Rolling Stones. Lou Reed. Kenny Rogers. Frightened Rabbit. Old 97s. George Burns. Sonic Youth. Built to Spill. Blondie. This list goes on and on, but these few stand out.

Thank you, musicians of the world. You are the everything. You save us all one beautiful note, one relatable lyric at a time.

You are the everything.

He Turned NINE Last Week.

Remember when he was born? I don’t usually get sentimental about these things. I don’t cry when my kids go to kindergarten or graduate from pre-K. Overall, I think aging is a glorious thing—growing up, adding years, growing wiser—there’s nothing sad about that. It should be celebrated. But my goodness it’s the time involved! How has it gone by so quickly? Nine years.

He’s a deeply emotional child. He’s exactly as he’s been since the day he was born. I can’t wait to watch him grow up.

13908942_1085045064909038_8789996676842638830_o.jpg

A Laboring Cow

I heard a podcast once about living in the moment verses letting your mind wander and how across to board when people allowed their minds to wander they reported feeling unhappy. They reported feeling most unhappy while commuting to and from their jobs because that’s when their minds wandered the most. It wasn’t the job making them feel miserable; it was the time spent getting to and from it.

I find this oddly funny.

This made me think of Sisyphus and his punishment of pushing an immense boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down again. He was sentenced to do this for eternity. But Sisyphus’s punishment wasn’t the intense physical part. His punishment was watching it roll back down each time. It was during the downtime, the time spent letting his mind wander, that’s when he felt his punishment the most. That’s when he felt his unhappiest.

I know. That’s not real.

But.

I live in a suburban town in New Jersey, just outside of New York City. And I spend a lot of time letting my mind wander. Sometimes, I feel like the suburbs are my commute to and from life. Not that I know what life is, or what that even means. I know that I rarely have adult conversations anymore. I turn on WNYC and listen to other people talk about shit so as to not let my wander too much.

It helps.

I make dinner for the kids. I shorten the stems of flowers hoping to keep them around longer. I light candles. Sometimes I scratch Walter’s bug bites for him. I run a lot.

I pet my cats.

I count my kids’ fish every day because one time I stopped and then one disappeared and I know the other ones had to watch it decay.

I felt bad for the surviving fish even though they probably ate him.

I give baths and I do a lot of laundry.

When I was 23 I applied for a job at a dairy farm. It was in the middle of Pennsylvania. It was old school, not one of those big industrial factory farms where cows are treated like cogs in a milk machine. I’d spent my teens working in the food industry. I enjoyed waiting tables. But then I graduated with a college degree and did what one does with a degree: I got a job in an office with air conditioning and windows that don’t open. The kind of job that doesn’t require the punctuation of a hot shower.

The farm didn’t hire me. I was turned down because they wanted someone who had “physically reached into a laboring cow and helped deliver a calf.”

I do not have that on my resume. I didn’t have it on my resume at age 23. I still don’t at age 42. I will likely die not having that on my resume.

But I can’t imagine a mind wandering too much with both hands inside of a cow.

Because I Live In An Asylum.

This morning I called into The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss my Etsy shop. The segment was called Checking In On the Maker Economy. Etsy was brought up and how they’re going public. So I figured what the hell? I make things and sell them on Etsy. I have a unique product. I am a “Maker”. Let’s do this!

So I called. The line was busy for a while, but I kept trying. After several attempts, a woman answered. She asked me my name, where I was calling from. She asked me what it is I make. I answered. She put me on hold.

Today is another snow day. Which means all three kids are home with me and they are all also completely insane. They are always completely insane, but throw in some cabin fever, the excitement of being home instead of at school, and Walter’s recent round of vaccinations, and we’ve reached asylum levels of insanity. Come to think of it, there are moments where I feel like I live in an actual asylum. It’s perfect madness. I live in a house surrounded by perfect madness, the madness of children.

As I sat on hold I began looking around the room, taking it all in. Walter was crying and drooling from underneath my desk. The other two were riding wheeled office chairs around the living room, dueling like they were on horseback. What had I been thinking? Calling into a radio station to talk about “making stuff”. What had I been thinking? I can’t have a conversation about my business right now, not one with any order or decency. How was I going to hold an adult conversation with another adult while on the radio as countless others listened in?

What the hell is wrong with you, Michele?

And then it happened. Brian Lehrer introduced “Michele from _______” and BAM! I was on the air.

I swooped down, picked up Walter and made a mad dash to the other side of the house, in search of the most quiet corner I could find. And I think I began to talk. I can’t remember what happened actually because I live in an asylum. But I think I mentioned that I make lollipops. That they are unique—blah blah blah. There is one called “The First Trimester” made from lemon and fresh ginger—blah blah blah. I think I mentioned “Rise ‘n Shine” and maybe a wine or two. I can’t remember what I said, really, because I live in an asylum.

What had I been thinking?

I think I kept talking and so did Walter, fussing in the background, endlessly whining from my right hip, directly into the telephone.

What had I been thinking?

And then without missing a beat (which is incidentally why I listen to him every day) Brian Lehrer quips, “Sounds to me like you’re in the fifth or sixth trimester right now!”

I think I laughed, but I’m not sure. But that doesn’t matter because the best part about this? The part that surprised me the most? I GOT IT. I got his joke, like, immediately. I didn’t have one of those parent moments where you’re like, “Uuuuhhhhh duhhhhhh, whaaaaaa?” No. I GOT IT. There wasn’t a brain delay at all.

I got it.

And then it was over. Just like that. Probably because he didn’t want to hear Walter fuss into the phone, or listen to my other two children beat the shit out of one another while riding around on office chairs. And I can’t say I blame him; that doesn’t make for very good radio. But it does make for a good asylum.

After I hung up, and then after some time went by (because of course it did), it occurred to me that I completely failed to mention the name of my shop. Because…

Elliot Turns Four

Elliot turned four a couple of weeks ago. We decided to have a party for him and invited his entire class. Prior to this year, we’d only ever invited the immediate family.

Anyway, last year, he wanted an Emmet cake. And so my massively pregnant ass made him an Emmet cake. This year, he wanted a dinosaur cake. And a dinosaur cake he would have.

This is how it turned out.

IMG_0188

The party wasn’t great. I mean, I guess the kids had fun and the parents were gracious and kind. We used Fresh Direct to cater the party. They did awesome. I will definitely use them again. I opted for a “Pass The Parcel” game for the kids, where you wrap up a bunch of small gifts and every time the song pauses, whatever child has it on his or her lap unwraps one layer taking the gift inside. That went over REALLY well except that Elliot didn’t understand what was happening and thought we were giving away HIS birthday gifts. What a disaster. Needless to say, Elliot became overwhelmed and had a massive tantrum. I felt terrible. He’s growing up and he’s trying so very hard to be like his older brother, which is problematic to say the least. Anyway, we’re working on things every day and I have seen some progress. He’s got so much going on in there, so many emotions swirling about, emotions he’s not really sure how to communicate just yet.

What can I say? It’s been hard. Living with a three-year-old has been hard. But we’re hoping age four brings some calmer waters.

Sorry I haven’t updated in a while. It’s been a crazy couple of months and the weather isn’t helping. I’m not one to complain about winter, but it’s just been far, far too cold. I’m ready for spring.

Quick Passing Thought.

“In today’s economy, when having both parents in the workforce is an economic necessity for many families, we need affordable, high-quality childcare more than ever. It’s not a nice-to-have — it’s a must-have. It’s time we stop treating childcare as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us.”

How about instead of looking to create more “high-quality, affordable childcare” we work to make it so both parents don’t HAVE to work as an economic necessity. I know many, many people who would love to stay home and raise their kids but simply cannot afford to do so.

I gave up my job because we ran the numbers and at the end of the day, after paying someone to care for the kids, it meant I would bring home a profit of about $10,000 a year. Was that amount worth it? Not for us. Now, I’m lucky; Toby makes enough for me to stay home. So, why don’t more families have that option?

I’m all for having affordable, high-quality childcare. But I also think that in many cases if one parent could financially afford to stay home and raise their kids yet still make ends meet, they would.

Similarly, for those of us who do stay at home, we shouldn’t be penalized or tossed aside when we reenter the workforce and start applying for jobs. This is my latest fear. While I care for our kids (make lunches and dinners; draw baths; do the laundry; clean the house; schedule doctor appointments; juggle soccer practices, swim lessons, piano lessons and play dates) I also try and keep myself on top of what I was trained to do in the workforce. Yet, since I have years of “nothing” on my resume, I’m probably facing great difficulty no matter how much I know or how good I am at what I do. Couple that with my age and my gender, and I’m probably screwed.

It’s scary.

38-Week Wakeup Call

I’m supposed to have a baby in two weeks. And I had forgotten about this up until today. You see, I don’t hold my breath when it comes to these “due dates” everyone talks about when they talk about having babies. Both of my boys had to be evicted. Emory was kicked out 4 days past-due because I suddenly started having high blood pressure. That didn’t end up being the best birth story of all time. But I really don’t want to get myself too worked up about childbirth right now, so I’ll stop right there. If you wish to read that long-ass, boring birth story, you may do so here. (Chapters are linked from that post. That post was written last.)

With Elliot, things were a touch different. I went into that pregnancy with the intention of avoiding an induction and letting labor come “naturally”. (I have always loathed that word when it comes to describing childbirth, hence the quotes. There’s no such given definition, ladies. So stop suggesting otherwise. And stop acting smug about your choices and making others feel bad. Just stop.)

Anyway, Elliot’s due date came and went. And I mean I knew his due date. I knew his due date because I knew down to the minute when he was conceived. I have calendars and notebooks FULL of calculations, treatments and insane scribbles that went into trying to pregnant. And while he was a miracle baby—a complete surprise conceived naturally after a year and a half of fertility treatments from one of the best doctors in the United States—he was still scrutinized down to the very last ovulation predictor stick.

Oh, yes. I knew his due date.

Well, he too ended up being late. But since they started monitoring me at 40-weeks, I also knew he was safe the entire time. I became a regular in the ultrasound department at New York Presbyterian where they measured my amnionic fluid, his heartbeat and his size. Since everything was A-OK, I was told I could wait a bit longer.

And wait, I did. I went 15 days past my due date. That’s when my doctor did what OBGYN doctors should do in my opinion: she scheduled an induction. That induction went smoothly. And I had that booger out in 5 pushes.

All this to say, I am wildly cynical when it comes to due dates. And I know damn well not to assume this guy will actually come early. My boys just don’t do that sort of thing. And that belief was backed up last week when I visited my doctor and she informed me that my cervix was completely shut. Not even half a centimeter to work with. Nada.

On the other hand, people keep telling me that since this is is my third child he may just fall out of me. You may have heard about the woman who gave birth on a New York City sidewalk. That was her third baby. My younger brother (my mom’s third) came out quickly. And while the idea of getting a baby out quickly appeals to me, my plan is to have this baby at the same NYC hospital I had the other two. So, “falling out of me” isn’t really something I’m interested in especially since there’s a river, a shitload of potholes, traffic and a tunnel between myself and that hospital.

Still, the thought has never crossed my mind that he may actually come out on his own. Well, not until this morning.

I woke up at 6:30 in order to shower before the house explodes with the stressfulness that comes with getting everyone out the door on time. I don’t sleep for more than 3 hours at a time anymore thanks to having a bladder the size of a lima bean. Couple that with the battering of a watermelon-sized baby into said tiny bladder, and I’m always on the toilet. I’d been up an hour earlier to pee, so I was confused when I noticed something dripping down my inner thigh.

That’s when I had the following conversation:

“Are you peeing yourself?”

“Yes, I am peeing myself.”

“But you just peed an hour earlier!”

“Well, I don’t know what to tell you. I peed myself.”

“You’re so gross.”

“I know.”

So I sat down to pee and nothing came out.

“Well, that’s weird.”

It wasn’t until after I’d showered and gotten dressed did I begin to ponder the idea that my water had broke. You see, I’ve never actually experienced that before. That was always done for me. So I have no idea what it looks like, what it smells like, how much of it comes out, if it’s colored. I know nothing about such things.

Did my water break?

I googled and decided no. I’m just a disgusting pregnant woman with incontinence, another glorious side-effect of being 9 months pregnant. But peeing myself did give me the wakeup call I needed.

“You’re going to have a baby soon.”

And that’s not something I’d given much thought up until today. And I wish I were kidding. But it hasn’t occurred to me that we’re going to have another family member living with us in a few weeks. It hasn’t occurred to me that I need to buy pads, diapers, Mylicon, wipes, diaper rash cream. It hasn’t occurred to me that I need to find a local pediatrician for that immediate, post-birth checkup.  It hasn’t occurred to me that I need to make sure I can fit THREE children in the back of our RAV4. None of this occurred to me until this morning when I pissed myself while getting into the shower. And while that was slightly humiliating, I guess it’s the wakeup call I needed.

I am going to have a baby soon.

The Everyday Horrors of Parenting.

Elliot started school last week. He’s having a tough time adjusting, so we are taking it slow. The kid has been attached to me since the moment he was born. So I knew it would be a difficult transition for him. But since the new baby will take up a lot of my time come March, I figured it’s best to introduce Elliot to some independence ahead of time.

The new school is pretty great. They are very accommodating when it comes to potty training, which is important to both Toby and me. Without turning this into a debate, we are pretty adamant about not pressing the whole potty training situation. We let the kids figure it out on their own (with guidance, of course). When they are ready, they will use the potty. Before that, we don’t push them to do so. It’s just the way we do things.

So, yeah. Elliot is not yet potty trained. And I am pleased that this school is very flexible on this issue. They work with the kids, talk to them. But never do they introduce shame or force it upon the child. Instead, if the child goes to the bathroom or even tries to go to the bathroom, the child gets a high five, a hug; basically, the child gets praised. And that sits very well with us.

And wouldn’t you know, after 3 short days, Elliot is already making progress. (Being around other kids helps!) He is now letting me know when he has to go. And that’s a huge step. Before now, he would poop and then run away from me, hide in the corner, whatever he could to avoid EVER having that diaper changed. I’m all for not pressuring the kids to use the toilet, but sitting around in their own feces? Well, I have to draw the line somewhere. It’s been a bit of a struggle.

But that’s now changing, thankfully. Elliot is more vocal about it and no longer runs away when it’s time. He’s even letting us know beforehand, which is awesome.

But all of that backfired today.

(Warning! Those who are annoyed by parents sharing too much, or those who are squeamish about feces should stop reading.)

I picked Elliot up from school at 12:30. Once home, he played with his trains. I love listening to Elliot play. I listened from the other room.

At about 1:45 he came up to me and said, “Mama! I pooped! Den I change mah dipah!”

“You did!” I said, proud of him even though he didn’t currently have a diaper on. Realizing that this meant there was a used diaper somewhere, I had to find out where the crime took place. “Elliot, where did this happen?”

“Ovah hee-ah!” He said, turning away from me, exposing his pooped-streaked legs.

Oh shit. I thought.

I followed him into the living room to discover the dog gleefully licking the carpet. A tiny pair of pants had been tossed aside, leaving a skid mark in their wake. And there was a clean diaper that had been used as toilet paper.

I was horrified, but I kept my cool. Poop doesn’t really bother me, but dogs eating poop? That bothers me. And poop all over my kid, the floor and the carpet when we have to leave in 15 minutes to fetch the other kid? Well, bad timing all around. This particular scenario sucked.

But Elliot was so proud! He felt he had taken a HUGE step and I could not let on otherwise.

“Wow!” I said, giving him my biggest fake smile. “You DID change your diaper!” I shooed away the shitty dog. “We have to clean you up now, OK? How about a quick bath?”

“But I don’t want a bath.”

“But you have poop all over you and I don’t think wipes are gonna work.”

“NO BATH.”

Ah! The impenetrable independence again. He refused to take a bath, kicking and screaming. Refused. And the clock was ticking. I had two choices: put him in the tub, kicking and screaming; or, bring him to Em’s school covered in feces.

Trying to negotiate with two and three-year-olds when you have all the time in the world is nearly impossible. Trying to negotiate with two and three-year-olds when you’ve been given a time limit? Forget it. They know. They know you have to leave the house in a few minutes so they become even more stubborn. So, I picked him up and put him in the tub. I let him stand, reassuring him that I wasn’t going to give him a bath, because, God forbid. I told him that instead I was just gonna hose him off.

“HOSE OFF? NO HOSE OFF!”

He moved to the back of the tub in protest as I delicately began hosing him off. Poop made its way down his legs and into the bottom of the tub. I looked at the clock. Five minutes. Crap.

To make matters even worse, the plumbing in our master bathroom is simply awful. The tub doesn’t drain well at all. (This is what you get when you buy an old house with a master bath that’s not been updated in 100 years. Yes. It’s true. We have a 100-year-old bathroom.) So the tub began to fill up.

Every now and again, there’s really only one thing left for a parent to do and that’s weep. So as the tub began to fill with brown liquid, I did just that. I wept. And weeping made me feel better.

Elliot screamed like the water was acid. And since it seemed like I was torturing him, I stopped with the hose and began to wipe him down instead. And as poop and tears made their way slowly out of our ancient tub, Elliot continued to scream.

I’m not sure how we made it out of the house in time, but we did. And I made sure to roll up the carpet before we left in hopes of keeping the dog from repulsing me even further, to the point of no return. (Civilized animals DO NOT willingly eat poop. This is why I was born a cat person and will die a cat person. Sorry dog.)

As we drove up the hill to fetch his brother, Elliot says to me in his sweet, soft voice, “Mama? Sorry I got poop on cahpet. But I change mah diapah!”

“Yes you did, baby. And I’m proud of you. But next time? Let me do the wiping, OK?”

“Otay!”

We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat.

We current drive a RAV4, which I love. However, Toby and I realized recently that come March it likely won’t fit all five of us. We don’t have a lot of money thanks to the moneypit of a house we purchased, but we need a bigger car.

And so, fine, Internet people, if you currently cart around 5 people, what do you drive? Are you happy with it? Do share any information you might have.

(Incidentally, I posted this question to Twitter, which was once super helpful for matters like this. And not to derail this update, but I am becoming increasingly more frustrated with how useless Twitter has become—at least for me. I once loved Twitter for its social interactions, which were plentiful and helpful, but now? Now it just seems like people are sending out messages without reading anyone else’s updates or responses. Less and less people seem to be replying. Less and less people seem to be reading. More and more people seem to be trying to sell me shit. I suppose that has to do with people following too many people and vice versa? I am not sure. And I can’t say it about everyone and I can’t say I’m not guilty of it as well at times. But it just seems to be… I don’t know… not what it once was. Or maybe I’m just a grumpy asshole today. And holy tangent.)

Were You Depressed During Pregnancy?

I’ve been hesitant to write about this because writing about it seems unfair, ungrateful and careless. It’s unfair to my unborn son and to all those who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant. It’s careless because certain thoughts don’t belong online. I know this. I am so aware of this. But I’m going against my better judgment here. And I’m going to write.

For the first several weeks of this pregnancy, I spent hours (and I mean hours!) googling phrases like: “depressed during pregnancy”, “morning sickness and depression”, “pregnant all I want to do sleep all day and night”, and “pregnant can’t take care of my kids”. I found a few personal (and therefore reassuring) stories. But not all that many. I found a great deal of articles about postpartum depression, but not all that many about depression during pregnancy. That’s probably because most women don’t discuss it online (or elsewhere) because it’s not kosher to complain about something that’s supposed to be one of the most joyous times of a woman’s life.

I want to chock it up to hormones, because it just doesn’t make sense otherwise. And this next bit is going to come off sounding crass and ignorant to all those dealing with chemical depression. I understand what chemical depression is, but very rarely have I experienced it firsthand. Most of the time, whenever I’m feeling depressed, I can shake it off. There have only been a couple of times in my life where things have become unmanageable—something I couldn’t work through, shake off, or wait out. And each time I knew this to be the case because whenever I searched for joy, I came up empty. I can almost always find joy.

I assume my funk has a great deal to do with being sick all day long, every day, for weeks on end. I assume that it was made worse because I was taking Unisom for nausea, and Unisom is known to cause depression. I assume it’s also because this pregnancy was unplanned and that I’m terrified of having three kids. (What does one do with three of kids when two kids run them into the ground every day?) I’m going to be 40 in a few months. I will spend my 40th birthday fat, sick, bloated and cranky.

I was supposed to run a marathon this year—my first one! And I can’t even run a mile right now. I had to give up my spot. And every Saturday, whenever I glance at the family calendar in the kitchen, the one where I planned my mileage all the way up until November, I feel sad. And I know that’s entirely selfish, but it eats me up. I should be training for a marathon, not becoming fat and immobile. I see runners out on their long-distance, weekend runs and I feel nothing but jealousy and envy toward them. (Much like the jealousy I had toward pregnant bellies not three years ago.) I am sincerely jealous of joggers! What the hell is wrong with me? Who have I become? I’m not proud of this person. I am not even sure I like her.

Guys, I’m sad. And I’m not supposed to be and that’s making me even sadder. And I’m having a great deal of trouble digging for joy. I keep trying! Every day, I get up and I try. And I see glimpses of it here and there. I experience glimpses of joy lighting candles at dusk, or buying flowers at Trader Joe’s. I see it occasionally while reading to my kids, when I’m not winded from getting the words out. I feel a bit of joy knowing Homeland starts again tonight.

But I don’t bake anymore, and I love baking. I keep buying the ingredients to bake amazing things, things I once LOVED to share with people. But now I don’t see the point because eating makes me feel terribly sick. I have a nonstop case of metal mouth, which is exasperated by even the tiniest amount of food in my stomach, sugar and carbs being the worst of all. Eating is a chore I have to do to stay alive. Who wants to bake and eat a slice of pumpkin pie if that slice of pie is going to make them sick? What’s the point?

I keep reading that some women start to feel better at 20 weeks. And I’m hoping that since week 14 didn’t bring me much in the way of relief, week 20 will. And maybe by then I’ll start to see joy again. Maybe I’m just exhausted and sick of being sick. I don’t know. But I want to feel normal, not that I’m sure what normal is anymore. It’s been that long.

After I miscarried and went through months and months of fertility treatments, I spent a great deal of time searching for stories like my own. But I did so silently. And I have regretted that ever since. Because I think if I wrote about it many of you could have made me feel better. At the very least, I think you would have made me feel less alone.

So, I’m going to publish my thoughts today, even though I am truly aware of how selfish and careless it is to do so. I need to know that this is temporary and that one day I will be myself again. I used to have so much energy! I spent a great deal of my time creating things. Now? I get tired thinking about it. I am so lazy. I don’t see the point to doing most things I once enjoyed. And that’s so unlike me.

“I’m blue, like Pantone 292.”

I just want to feel normal again.