For Sale. The Whole Lot.

This has been another summer of grinding through thoughts and feelings. I do my best to share with friends and my spouse, but I honestly forget. Reaching out to stop reaching in. I hear daily from CH, “what are you thinking? Where are you?”

We are done. We are done trying to have another baby. It didn’t work out. Yes, we tried all of the options available to us that would potentially work. They didn’t. And we are done. Just, done.

My perfect family. The three of us. Maybe one day, via adoption or foster care, there will be more, but that is on hold as CH and I take a breath to just breathe. Enjoy the summer. Enjoy our daughter. Enjoy each other.

Camping

Those 18 boxes of baby clothes and toys in the basement? They’ve been haunting me for more than two years. And now, after The Decision, they will be sold and given away. That constant reminder of what wasn’t happening will slowly be dismantled over the next few months, leaving… what? That hole that won’t seem to go away. That emptiness.

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My best friend was in town last month and we spent a perfect day together. As she accompanied me to pick up even more fertility drugs that didn’t work, she told me something I replay in my head endlessly:

what you have is what so many people wish and dream for.

She’s right. With a husband and a healthy (knock on wood) daughter, I have what people pine for. And I am happy. I just need to learn to mend that part of my heart that longed for so long. I can be happy and sad at the same time –  we just don’t have words for it in English.

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My dear friend NVC also said something to me I bat in my brain in equal rotations from the comment above:

You need to live your life.

So simple, but in the mix of timings and complications and distractions, in many ways I was missing the living life while trying to make another one.

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I can’t predict the future, but I think I will always be sad about this. Please, let me be sad about this.

– MD

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That’s the Plan

Folks, here it is. The piece I wrote and read at Listen to Your Mother. It comes from two years of carrying a secret that I am just starting to share. The process has been scary for me. While I am an outgoing person and have a blog, I remain fairly private except with a handful of very close friends. Even then, they (and my family) will attest it can be like pulling teeth for me to share what’s on my mind or in my heart. I know, I know – the irony is that I help people communicate for a living and have a difficult time with it myself.

I would also like to credit Melanie Blodgett of You Are My Fave, who bravely wrote her piece, “Reality,” more than one year ago. It really stuck with me. It still does. I commented on her story and she actually sent me a message, and let me re-post her piece.

Since I shared this with hundreds of people on Mother’s Day and have promised it here for a while, here is my piece for LTYM:

3rd Annual LTYM: Madison Marquis, courtesy of Ann Imig

“That’s the Plan”

I’m sick of feeling pregnant. Because I’m not, and that’s making me sick. The cure for not being pregnant? Don’t tell me, because I’ve tried it all, including sickness-inducing fertility medicine. That? Yep, tried it. What about this? Uh-huh. But have you considered? Absolutely.

My medical diagnosis? Secondary infertility. My personal diagnosis: infertile mother. My personal and medical outlook: uncertain.

But let me back up. Because the “secondary” part of my diagnosis is because there’s a gorgeous three-year-old that runs around my house – she of red, curly hair, brown eyes, and a smile laced with dimples. For her my heart beats and all is well.

Yet, here I stand, unable to produce pink lines on a pregnancy test. Instead, all I get is red spots on my underpants, a reminder of my almost-but-not-quite attempt at curing my diagnosis. Two years have passed. Two years of no baby, no pregnancy to bitch about, no additional stretch marks, and no reason to open the 18 boxes of baby clothes and toys in the basement.

As each month passes, I vacillate between anger, disbelief and indifference. As each month passes, more calculating, calendar watching and hope comes into play.

What is often so maddening is that I thought I had the perfect prescription for becoming pregnant, as evidenced by my child: you go to South America for 10 days, eat random pig parts on a grill, drink Malbec and espresso until your toes curl, and come home pregnant. Simple enough, right? I attempted another vacation conception while in Japan, but the sake and seaweed, combined with that many time zones, didn’t motivate the magic to happen.

As each month passes, I lightly respond to my daughter’s request for a brother or sister. “We’re working on it.” As each month passes, more and more people ask “if we plan on having more kids.” I answer, “that’s the plan.” As each month passes, acquaintances who run into me look furtively at my already full figure, and briefly wonder, “is she yet?” The answer to that, we know, is “no.”

As each month passes, I struggle with living two realities: one, the mother so happy with her family trinity; the other, sad, rejected, and lost in a dream of baby sighs, baby smell, baby cuddles, and giving birth again with Stevie Wonder playing in the background.

So I ask you: when I mention my family of three, hoping for four, please look at me and say, “your family is perfect.”  When I mention that it may just be the three of us, please look at me and say, “your family is perfect.” When I seem hopeful or sad, please look at me and say, “your family is perfect.” When I evade your questions or overshare, please look at me and say, “I hear you.”

When I dig deep I realize that as much as I want another baby, another being, I want another chance at being a mother. My first attempt was so fraught with struggle at the beginning – an impossibly long labor and delivery, a baby who refused to nurse, a visit to the hospital when she was days old, and the deepest, darkest drop off a cliff, masked in the dulcet overtures of “the baby blues.”

I’m looking for a cure. I’m looking for ways outside of the longing, the expectation, the absolute loneliness of this diagnosis. But ultimately I want remission. I want to beat my sentence, come out triumphantly, baby in my arms, my heart and family complete.

Slam Dunk Mother’s Day

I had a fantastic Mother’s Day. One made possible by an awesome husband and great friends. There were waffles in the morning, a card, flowers and a project CH and Miss Red worked on. It was juicy and a lovely contrast to last year’s Mother’s Day.

My afternoon was filled with prepping and appearing in Listen to Your Mother. It was cathartic, funny, and meaningful, all rolled into one. It was what I needed and worth the weeks of jitters. It’s something I’ll always carry with me. I’ll post my piece here tomorrow, and will also post the video when it’s available. Thank you to my friends and mother-in-law for making time to see me. It meant so much.

I feel like I’m really part of spring now – the sunny weather, my recent yoga retreat, and LTYM, are breathing buoyancy into my step. Spring has sprung!

– MD

Blinky Palermo

Madison’s edition of Listen to Your Mother is this Sunday. I’m starting to get a wee bit nervous.

There’s been some great press on it, including an NBC 15 story. Check it out. I’m on camera around the 1:16 mark. Who knew I blinked so much?!

I’m Part of a Cast

The “meet the cast” post came up for Listen To Your Mother. Read all about us. Also, information on tickets here.

This is getting real.

 

About Listen to Your Mother…

Folks, remember when I auditioned for Listen to Your Mother? Well, I got an awesome email last week telling me that I made it as one of the 12 cast members for 2012 Madison show! The email came on the heels of a very difficult day for me, and the news could not have been more perfectly timed.

What does this mean? That I’ll be on stage this Mother’s Day sharing my story. I am excited and nervous. I hope you’ll join me!

– MD

Resolutions and New Calendars

I love the new year. I love looking back on the year past, I love thinking about and making resolutions for a better me. I love the new, crisp calendar that hangs on my wall. I love the idea of starting fresh.

Looking back.

2011 was a hard year. I recently called it my hardest year, though it has some tough competition from 2008. Everything changed. I found out I was pregnant mere days after I decided I would never be pregnant again. I faced my worst fears. I lost control – of my body during my pregnancy and of my home during a remodel. I left a job and coworkers I loved to stay at home with my daughter, which threw everything I thought I knew about myself into a tailspin. I walked a hard path with my mom as she struggled with her health, visited countless doctors, and went through two painful and serious surgeries. I gave birth to a beautiful and sweet baby girl, who was literally taken out of my arms and rushed to the NICU. I spent five long, scary, painful days in the hospital with her while recovering from my own surgery. I saw my sweet little dog’s health fail and eventually make his life too much of a hardship to bear. I said a sad goodbye to him two weeks after my daughter was born, when my life was in that newborn chaos of sleeplessness, love, and disarray. I saw my grandpa’s health decline so far and so fast that I barely got a chance to say goodbye. I watched my sweet toddler struggle with her new sister, with being two, with growing up.

Resolutions for a better me.

2010 was a year about me. I focused on myself – mind, body and soul – and ended that year feeling the best I’ve ever felt. 2011, on the other hand, saw me giving my body over to pregnancy again. I feel lost inside this me.

I will find myself again. I will emerge healthier, happier, and in control.

I can be quick to judge. Being critical is easy. It can make you feel like part of the in-crowd, it can make you feel superior by casting others as inferior. If you’re gossiping, it’s easy to think that maybe no one is gossiping about you…but in reality, the opposite is true. Open the door of judgement, and you will be judged. On the other hand, kindness begets kindness.

I will keep an open mind. I will give people the benefit of the doubt. I will be kind. I will take the high road, even if it’s the harder road.

Leaving my job meant leaving work I was good at and skills that were valued. I’ve struggled with my identity since being home. Who am I now? What am I good at? What are my skills? Changing diapers, making lunch, reading books – it can be hard to feel important and skilled when your life is the minutiae of parenting. It’s a struggle to maintain independence when my job is to be someone’s mom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I love and cherish my children with my whole soul, but I still want and strive to be an autonomous person.

I will take time for myself. I will learn new things and continue to enrich my life outside of my children, while still working to be the best mom I can be.

Starting fresh.

I am ready and excited for the year ahead. I can’t wait to see every member of my little family grow and learn and laugh. I know I will stumble, and occasionally fall. But I will pick up, brush off, and keep going.

I am looking forward to a 2012 that is better, brighter, and happier than ever.

For me. For my family.

And for you, too.

– ALW

Cheesecake Tote Giveaway, Courtesy of Summer Pierre

UPDATE: THIS IS NOW CLOSED – MD

Is anyone else out there ready to cry now that it is completely dark at 4:45 p.m.? This happens each year, and the turning of the tables on this time thing will change soon, but goodness gracious, hold me.

Thanks for those who played along with the upcycled knit baby hat giveaway. Using random.org the two winners were selected. Congratulations to Nina and Joeli! I will be in touch about your hats. Hope your girls wear them in health and warmth! Thanks again to Ellen!

Are you ready for my final giveaway? It’s pretty rad, and as I mentioned earlier, it comes all the way from New York City. For us Midwesterners, that’s a mighty big deal. Well, maybe not as much, according to this article. I can also throw some attitude, because I lived there, yo, when I was little.

Our final giveaway is a cheesecake tote. Not a tote made out of cheesecake, but a tote with a depiction of a cheesecake on it. Behold:

Cheesecake tote by Summer Pierre

Artist, musician, poet and mama Summer Pierre is kind enough to offer this. Summer and I met at a Lynda Barry writing workshop years ago at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY. I remember seeing a woman smiling and doodling on the chartered bus we took from downtown NYC to the Omega campus, and lo and behold, that fantastic woman was in my class. There was very much a camp-like feel to the process, but somehow we ended up sitting next to one another during meals, chatted, and have stayed in touch every since. It’s like real-life sleep-away camp and the friends you make from it FOR EVER.

Summer is the real deal, folks. She has made and sold CDs, run a successful Etsy shop, and published two books, The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week, and Great Gals: Inspired Ideas for Living a Kick-Ass Life, along with her Forgive Me zines, volumes 1-4. She does all of this, and more. Thank you, Summer, for offering this giveaway.

Here’s how you can enter:
1. Visit summerpierre.com and poke around.
2. Subscribe to her blog.
3. Visit her Etsy store, and add her to your favorites circle if you are a member.
4. If you are on Twitter, follow her feed @summerpierre.
5. Comment below on what you would tote around in your cheesecake tote.

The giveaway closes Wednesday, December 7 at 8 a.m. CST. One entry per e-mail address is permitted. One winner will be selected using random.org and announced on Wednesday evening.

Good luck!

– MD

My Best Friend Had a Baby

My best friend had a baby. It’s her second, a boy. A boy! Her first child, a daughter, came within a year of Miss Red. We shared stories of pregnancy, infancy and everything in between.

My best friend had a baby, and we are hundreds of miles apart. We work diligently to see one another at least twice a year, but at this moment my heart aches to be with her, sitting in the hospital, holding her new son and laughing at the ridiculousness a body goes through after labor and delivery.

{The video above was taken when Miss Red was about a year and a half. I had her parrot my best friend’s family’s names.}

My best friend had a baby, and for some reason her having a son makes her seem much older, more grown up, more mature. She has a family of four now, a girl and a boy, and her family seems so complete. She’s a mother to more than one child, and to me, that seems different than having one child. I can’t explain it, but I am in awe of her.

My best friend had a baby, and we’ve done our best to catch one another as we can, texting and leaving messages. The text messages we sent to one another leading up to her labor were priceless and for our eyes only – snippets of jokes about body parts and humiliating occurrences.

My best friend had a baby, and I can’t wait to hold him, to hug her daughter, and to laugh and cry with her in person.

– MD

Parts of Me

Part two of my awesome car trip with EC and RC was the drive home, where we dove into meatier topics. Not on purpose, but as part of a flow of good friends in a car for more than three hours and the conversations that emerge. We talked openly about our parents and how our experiences as children, combined with our parents’ parenting has molded our parenting and the anxieties or habits we work with.

I confided that I spend a good amount of time being concerned that Miss Red will hate me – I know, it drives my husband crazy – but I do. I fear that she’ll never want to be a part of my life, never want to see me again and just turn her back on me. Why? I don’t know.

While sharing this, EC asked me something I had never considered: Think of the good she’ll take from you, and how she’ll love those parts of you.

I had never considered that there might be parts of me my daughter would love. Maybe I’m so caught up in my entire love for her, that I had an “all or nothing” mentality about this emotion – that she would either love me or hate me, and not, what is probably true, that she’ll love parts of me and hate (maybe not) parts of me, too.

Can I share what a relief that was? That that sentence, in the moment, and in retrospect, washed away layers of anxiety? Again, why? I myself have no issues with love. I love myself, I know I’m lovable, I have loving relationships. It’s this seed, this stick, this root, this essence, this unnamed that drives me to the brink of tears when thinking of my daughter.

Hush, little baby.

Honestly, what it comes down to is that I haven’t quite learned to be in the moment with my daughter. I can be present, but if I’m honest, there is that part of me, that clinging, hopeful, needy part that is wrapped up in real and imagined interactions, that cries softly please love me.

– MD

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