Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Odds & ends

  • If I have to endure one more of those sappy friggin' iPhone TV commercials ("You're going to be a dad!!"), I swear, I'm going to throw up....
  • In the "another one bites the dust" category: the wife of a coworker sent out announcements to the entire office today: they are adopting a two-year-old little girl through the local children's aid society. They were matched a few weeks ago, had some visits & she is coming home with them for good in a few days. I am very happy for them... but it was another one of those, "Et tu Brute?" moments. This guy is perhaps not quite as old as I am, but I think he's in his mid-40s & I assume his wife must be 40ish too. It's always a comfort to have someone else around (particularly someone who is closer to my own age)(i.e., not one of the young singles or newlyweds in the office) who doesn't have kids for whatever reason (& I have no idea what their story was).
  • Survived the annual get-together with dh's cousins last weekend with little incident. The only time I really flinched was when everyone was fussing over our hostess's 12-year-old son & exclaiming over how he will be starting Grade 7 -- junior high! He was born in April 1998 -- I was newly pregnant & "out" at his mom's shower. (Couldn't bring myself to go see him until his first birthday... I apologized to his mom for not coming sooner & she gave me a huge hug & told me she understood.) Katie was due in November 1998, and would also be starting Grade 7 next week. (Another cousin has a son born in April 1999. One six months older, one six months younger, & Katie would have been right in the middle. Can I say, & probably not for the first nor last time, how very glad I am that they are both boys???)
  • My new boss (who has two young boys) actually inserted the words "As a parent" into a speech for one of our executives (he was speaking about saving for children's education). Pamela, if you're reading this, I thought of you immediately!!
  • I was in a store the other day & heard a semi-familiar tune on the speakers. It was Cyndi Lauper's classic girl power anthem"Girls Just Want to Have Fun." Only THIS was a hiphop/rap style remake by a GUY. Whining, "you know you're still number one, but girl, I wanna have fun." I took it to mean he was trying to justify playing around on her. ARGGGGHHHHH.... talk about twisting the original meaning. I generally hate remakes of classic songs, but this one took the cake.
  • Somehow, the three fillings my dentist told me HAD to be replaced over two separate visits has turned into six or seven (!!) fillings/replacements over three visits (visit #3 coming up in a few weeks). My mouth is still recovering from visit #2 last week -- very sensitive to both heat & cold now. I'm brushing with Sensodyne, but I'm told it will take 2 weeks to do any good. All I can say is thank God for good dental plans. :p
  • I'm sure I had other stuff I was going to write about, but that's all I can come up with for now, lol. Vent over!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Steal this meme

I'm "stealing" this meme from Rebecca at A Long & Winding Road, who likewise "stole" it from another blogger. Feel free to do likewise, lol. ; )

1.) If you could live in any country but the United States, where would you live?

Well, I don't live in the United States, I live in Canada. ; ) I am a very proud Canadian, & I really can't envision living anywhere else, at least permanently. But I wouldn't mind spending some time in a few other places. England comes to mind -- so much history there, so many books I've read that were set there (& at least I speak the language, lol).

2.) Why did you title your blog “The Road Less Travelled”?

Because the road I am on -- living childless/free after loss & infertility -- is not one that gets written or talked about much (although I suspect it is a much more commonly travelled road than many people realize). Also, I love the Frost poem. ; ) Another title I gave serious consideration to was "Childless Mother."

3.) How many “in real life” people know about your blog?

My dh, and that's about it -- I think? (I hope??) ; )

4.) Why did you decide to start blogging?

I was fortunate to have found support on a couple of (mostly small & not that active) message boards for women in my situation, early on after we made our decision. They are still a huge source of support for me, but I was intrigued when I started reading loss & infertility blogs. I had been reading Stirrup Queens, & checking out the childless/free blogs on her blogroll. Aside from a few brilliant women such as Pamela Jeanne, there weren't that many women out there blogging about the childless/free option. I liked the idea of exploring loss, infertility & childless/free themes in a blog format. And I loved reading the book club posts. I was dying to add my own $.02 to some of the discussions and so, with some encouragement from Mel, I started this blog in October 2007. : ) This was nine years after our daughter's stillbirth, & six years after making the decision to stop infertility treatments, which may seem odd, as most blogs seem to begin shortly after a loss or as people are beginning IF treatment... but I found that I still had plenty that I wanted to say/write about on the subject!

5.) What kind of clothes do you wear?

At home, you will mostly find me in jeans, shorts (in the summer) or yoga pants with a T-shirt. I'm fortunate that I can wear "business casual" to work. I can't remember the last time I wore a dress or skirt to work (actually, I do have a couple of sundresses I will wear when it gets REALLY hot & humid outside, paired with a cardigan for indoor office wear). I shop frequently at Reitmans & the Gap, and also frequent Cleo, Laura, Northern Reflections & Cotton Ginny (although the last two are getting harder to find these days!).

6.) What are you having for dinner tonight?

Shake & Bake chicken with brown rice & peas.

7.) Where do you “blog”?

On my laptop, usually sitting on our loveseat. Sometimes, if inspiration strikes me at the office, I will draft a post & e-mail it to my home address for further elaboration & publication later from home.

8.) Do you like to cook?

I don't mind it -- but I like to do it when I'm not rushed or tired & hungry, as I often am when we get home at night. :p Hence, dh does most of the cooking on weeknights! ; )

9.) What’s your beverage of choice at night?

If you mean alcohol, dh & I are not big drinkers. We drink a lot of water. I try not to keep pop in the house, unless we have company coming. The exception being Oscar night, when I will get a bottle of Coke to have with popcorn. ; ) I also love tea, but not at night, because of the caffeine.

10.) What would you most like to know about your fellow bloggers who read this?

Like Rebecca, I’d like to know how they found my blog, and what keeps them coming back. And what, if anything, they’d like to know more about me.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fall into the gap

So I was having a really stressful day at work today (actually, a stressful WEEK...) and what did I do on my lunch hour?

As the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough go... shopping, lol.

But in this case, the going just got tougher, because I went shopping at... Baby Gap. (Really smart, eh?) I realized it was Friday, we are seeing FIL & stepMIL tomorrow -- & stepMIL's grandson's 2nd birthday is next week. We are not invited to the party (not that I wanted to be...!) but I knew we should probably get him a little something. Not many toy stores in the vicinity of my office, & I have no idea what sorts of toys would appeal to a two-year-old boy (never mind one who already has a gazillion toys). And I was walking by Baby Gap and for some reason, went in. It seemed like an easy buy.

And I did walk out 20 minutes later with a cute fleece hoodie in a gift box in a Baby Gap bag (which is so cute & classic you don't even need to buy a separate gift bag, I think), 30% off. Unfortunately, I also walked out feeling even more battered than when I walked in. (Are you surprised?)

I used to LOVE Baby Gap. Shopped there all the time for baby presents for friends & relatives. Used to joke I should buy Gap stock, since I spent so much money there. (I didn't, but I did follow the stock in the pages of the newspaper for awhile.) Dreamed of the day that I would be shopping there for my own wee ones.

When I was pregnant, I saw an adorable little white cotton summer dress there. I fingered it wistfully, and thought about how cute our daughter would look in it. (By then, we knew we were having the little girl we had always dreamed about.) We knew we would be attending a wedding in July 1999, & would at least be bringing the baby to the church ceremony. I briefly considered buying it now, but there were already clouds hovering on the horizon of my pregnancy, & I knew I could probably find something similar closer to the time. So I never bought the dress, to my eternal regret.

(We attended the wedding with empty arms, & visited the cemetery between the church ceremony & the reception. Thinking about how differently we'd pictured the day. Three other women had been pregnant at the engagement party the previous year; they were all there with their babies, of course.)

I used to have to trek up to the Baby Gap store at the Eaton Centre on my lunch hour. And then, in the spring of 1998, when I was pregnant, a sign went up in a vacant storefront in the office tower across the street from mine (easily accessible via the underground PATH): COMING SOON: Baby Gap. Needless to say, I was thrilled!!

So you can imagine how I felt when I returned to work after Katie was stillborn -- & there it was, open already. I had almost forgotten about it, & seeing it there was like a sudden, unexpected slap in face.

Needless to say, it was a LONG time -- years -- before I could bring myself to enter a Baby Gap store again. And my visits have been far less frequent than they once were.

Sometimes, it hasn't been too bad. And then there are days like today, when I'm greeted by an adorable dress like THIS




hanging on a rack right near the door as I walked in, paired with a little black cardigan. (It looks dark pink right now on my screen, but it was red in the store.)

Absolutely adorable.

Absolutely perfect for Christmas, & Christmas/November birthday portraits.

Absolutely heartbreaking.

I don't know why something like that still has the power to bother me so much, 12 years later. For one thing, if Katie were here, I certainly wouldn't be shopping for her at Baby Gap. She'd be a big girl now -- almost 12 years old -- going into Grade 7 -- GRADE 7!!! Junior high!!!

But that's just the point. She's NOT here. She never will be.

She never got to wear adorable little dresses from Baby Gap (or fight with me over the skinny jeans I'm sure she'd be insisting on having to wear back to school this fall). She never got to have dh's cousins buy stuff for her, the way that I bought stuff for their kids. She never got to have people fuss over how adorable she looked, the way I fussed over their kids.

Baby Gap will never be just another store to me. It will always speak to me of another gap in my life -- of broken dreams and unfulfilled due dates and a little girl who never drew a breath.

And little white dresses, never bought.

(Like this one.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Article: "Coping with crises close to someone else's heart"

There was a fascinating article in today's New York Times on a subject that is near & dear and very familar to many infertiles/bereaved parents -- how the people around us cope -- or, perhaps more accurately, don't cope -- with the crises we must live with, every day.

In recent years, the author has coped with with the serious illnesses of both her daughters, and then the illness & death of her mother. She writes:
For the most part, we were blessed with support and love; friends ran errands for us, delivered meals, sat in hospital waiting rooms, walked, talked and cried with us.

But a couple of friends disappeared entirely. During the year we spent in eating-disorder hell, they called once or twice but otherwise behaved as though we had been transported to Mongolia with no telephones or e-mail.

At first, I barely noticed; I was overwhelmed with getting through each day. As the year wore on, though, and life settled in to a new if unpleasant version of normal, I began to wonder what had happened. Given our preoccupation with our daughter’s recovery and my husband’s mother’s illness, we were no doubt lousy company. Maybe we’d somehow offended our friends. Or maybe they were just sick of the disasters that now consumed our lives; just because we were stuck with them didn’t mean our friends had to go there, too.

Even if they were completely fed up with us, though, they had to know that my husband and I were going through the toughest year of our lives. I would have understood their defection if our friendship had been less close; as it was, I couldn’t stop wondering what had happened.

In the wake of 9/11, two wars and the seemingly ever-rising tide of natural disasters, we’ve come to understand the various ways in which people cope with crisis when it happens to them. But psychologists are just beginning to explore the ways we respond to other people’s traumas.

“We all live in some degree of terror of bad things happening to us,” said Barbara M. Sourkes, associate professor of pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine. “When you’re confronted by someone else’s horror, there’s a sense that it’s close to home."

After you've read the article, check out Tara Parker-Pope's Well blog for comments.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Aaaacckkk!!


The end of an era arrived for me this morning, when I heard, on CBS Sunday Morning, that Cathy Guisewite has announced the end of her comic strip, Cathy. The final strip will run on Oct. 3, after almost 34 years.

I was in high school when Cathy began running in the newspapers in the late 1970s. By the time I got to university, I was hooked. I had Cathy posters on my dorm room walls, a Cathy wall calendar & agenda book, & Cathy mugs (which I still have). My mother & I would trade Cathy clippings, especially those involving Cathy & her mother, whose relationship sometimes eerily mirrored our own.

I spent one summer living with one of my girlfriends, who was juggling several boyfriends at once. In one storyline that summer, Cathy had every man she ever dated show up in her living room at the same time. I would clip the cartoons & leave them on the table for my girlfriend to read, between dates. I remember both of us giggling over a classic Cathy line -- after listening to an unwanted suitor proclaim his undying love, Cathy mourned, "Why do the right words always come out of the wrong mouth??"

Not everyone shares my love of "Cathy." Most guys I knew didn't like it ("Feminist stuff," sniffed a former (male) head of my department, upon seeing my Cathy calendar in my cubicle) & some women don't either, saying Cathy's constant battles with food, bathing suits, etc., were demeaning to women. At the same time, it's undeniable that the strip was groundbreaking for its time, & reflected the tension most women of Guisewite's (& my) generation felt between the feminist ideal & the reality of being female. Which, like it or not, often included (and still includes) struggles with weight, body image, relationships, parents...

One headline I found online read "Cathy Comic Strip Ends - Readers Reminded It Still Existed." Once carried in some 1,400 newspapers, it's now in just 700 or so. (I've actually been having it e-mailed to me every morning for the past several years, & have several printed out & thumbtacked to the walls of my cubicle.)

I can't blame Guisewite for deciding to throw in the towel -- after 34 years, it must be difficult to find something fresh to write & draw about the annual swimsuit shopping expedition (although I still find she manages to come up with some really great observations, & I still find myself sending strips to people -- most recently to my husband, when Cathy & Irving's very different approaches to packing for vacation had me cracking up over the obvious parallels). The strip probably "jumped the shark" when Cathy finally married her longtime on-again-off-again boyfriend, Irving, five years ago.

So how should the strip end? According to some Wall Street Journal readers, with a baby, of course (see the comments section). Apparently Guisewite, who adopted a baby 18 years ago, has said she has wavered over the years on the question of whether Cathy & Irving should have children.

Well, if marrying Irving was seen as a betrayal by some readers who looked to Cathy as an icon of single femaledom, you can imagine how THIS married but childless reader would feel about an ending like THAT. Cathy Guisewite, if you're reading this, please, I beg you -- DON'T DO IT.

But I'll miss you, Cathy, just the same. Thanks for the laughs & the memories, & may all your chocolate be calorie-free.

What's in a name?

I heard on Friday that Ben Mulroney & his wife of two years, Jessica, were the proud new parents of twin sons. The name is probably meaningless for those of you outside of Canada -- so let me explain that Ben is the second child & eldest son of our former prime minister (1984-1993), Brian Mulroney. Today, he is the host of an entertainment talk show called etalk (think a younger, more "gosh golly" version of John Tesh) & also of Canadian Idol (in the Ryan Seacrest role).

I supported Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative party (as for the current PM & decidedly NOT progressive Conservative Party, please don't get me started...) but, like many Canadians, did not particularly like the man. There was something just a little too slick about him that didn't seem quite trustworthy.

I met him (and his beautiful, much-younger wife Mila) once, in the spring of 1983, when he was campaigning for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative party. I was a member of the campus PC club at the time, & was invited to meet the candidate at a reception along with some of the other club members. Brian shook our hands, practically slapped us on the backs & made a joke. I think he might have even winked at us.

Later, over hamburgers & fries at McDonalds, we talked about the evening, & one of the guys asked me what I thought. Of Mila, I said, "She obviously doesn't buy HER clothes at Woolco," & of Brian, I said, "I'm impressed, but I'm not convinced." I still think I was right on both counts, lol.

Anyway, I didn't think much more about the twins until I read yesterday's Globe & Mail. Under a photo of a beaming Grandpa Brian holding both boys was the following story.

Even dh, after reading the story (particularly the last half), said "OK, Brian, you get points for that." (Ben & Jessica too.)

*** *** ***

Friday, August 13, 2010 2:41 PM

Brian Mulroney gets a first glimpse at his namesake

Jane Taber

The four Mulroney kids had a pact amongst themselves that Ben Mulroney’s first-born son would be named, Brian. That name was off limits for the other siblings.

On Thursday morning, the former Conservative prime minister’s son and his wife, Jessica Brownstein, named their son, Brian (he is the baby on the left) and their second, John.

Brian arrived at 8:09 a.m. and his brother followed one minute later; they both weighed four pounds, four ounces (1.92 kilograms). And the grandmothers, Mila Mulroney and Veronica Brownstein, were in the room at Toronto’s Mount Sinai hospital when the babies were born.

The elder Brian Mulroney, 71, arrived from Montreal later on. Arthur Milnes, a friend who was the researcher on Mr. Mulroney’s memoirs, says the former prime minister could not be happier.

Indeed, Mr. Mulroney noted to Mr. Milnes that Ben and Jessica’s babies are the first Mulroney children to be born since Nicolas, (the youngest of the Mulroney siblings) was born on Sept. 4, 1985 – the first anniversary of Mr. Mulroney’s first majority government. They are the fifth and sixth grandchildren for Mr. Mulroney and his wife, Mila (who took the picture above). Caroline, their eldest, and her husband have four children with her husband Andrew Lapham.

As touched as he is with having a namesake, Mr. Mulroney was also moved by the choice of John for the name of the twin.

John, he recalled to Mr. Milnes, was the name of his eldest brother, the so-called “mystery” Mulroney, who passed away within hours of being born.

The story was vaguely known around the Mulroney household but no one was really certain what had happened. And by the time Mr. Mulroney had worked up the nerve to ask his mother about the baby and where he was buried, she was elderly and her memories had faded.

Mr. Mulroney knows the baby is buried somewhere in Buckingham, Que., where his parents had lived. The former prime minister wrote about it in his biography.

“This small but important mystery has troubled my siblings and me for decades,” Mr. Mulroney recounted in his memoirs. “We have tried to reconstruct events, to interview people who might shed light and search the entire area for records, all without success.

“We wanted John to know that he has never been forgotten, that we love the brother we never knew. We do know that somewhere in Buckingham, Que. in June of 1935, John Mulroney was buried with neither a trace nor a memory. I often reflected on the sadness of the story and my complete powerlessness, even in the highest office in the land, to make it right in any way.”

Ben and Jessica had read the book. They, too, were moved by the story.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mommyblogger me (??!!)

In my heart of hearts, I know I am a mother. It's just hard sometimes to remember that or to feel that way sometimes, when the rest of the world -- even when they know my story -- doesn't seem to see it that way.

That's why I'm always so grateful when other people acknowledge that, yes, I am a mother too, even if you don't see me pushing a stroller or sitting on the sidelines of my daughter's soccer game or chaperoning a school field trip.

And that's one reason why Melissa totally rocks -- because she understands, & because she's made it her mission to get more people whose lives might not have been directly touched by pregnancy loss &/or infertility to understand too.

Melissa e-mailed me last night -- as Katie's "anniversary" weekend was ending -- to tell me that she'd nominated me for Parenting.com's list of "Must-Read Moms," which was released at the BlogHer convention in New York last weekend. Not only was I nominated, "The Road Less Travelled" was named to the supplementary list of "More Must Reads." On page 15, to be exact.

To say I was flattered would be an understatement. Flabbergasted is more like it, lol. I'm always thrilled whenever one of my posts makes Melissa's Friday roundup. Recognition from your peers (in the ALI blogging community) is so incredibly special. But to be recognized outside that community -- to have the opportunity to open some minds & perhaps get people to consider a different perspective -- to be recognized by non-deadbabymamas as a mother -- well, that's pretty special too.

It was even better when I clicked through the list today & saw the wonderful company I was in -- some familiar names included Lori (who made the top 10!), Calliope, Angie, Ali Edwards (a scrapbooker I greatly admire) & even the great Dooce. In fact, we saw a story about her on PBS's Need to Know earlier in the day. I had to dissuade dh from the notion that this means I will be earning $40,000 a month from blogging now like she does, lol.

Lots of new blogs to explore, too. One thing that struck me as I clicked through the list was how great some of these blogs LOOK, before I ever even read a word. (Needless to say, I'm glad I recently switched my template from Basic Blogger to something with a touch more pizzazz, lol.)

Thank you, Mel. Thank you thank you thank you.

Thank you, Parenting.com, and thank you, BlogHer.

I am deeply, deeply honoured.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

My baby was stillborn 12 years ago today, & all I got was this lousy visit from AF

Last night, we went to a family gathering where I was the only adult married woman without a child.

I sat and listened to all the moms talk about their kids (& grandkids).

I held the newest baby in the family (she was cute, & I didn't mind a bit).

I congratulated one of dh's cousins who just announced her pregnancy (her third).

I thought about the little girl who should have been there, but wasn't.

I came home & found an e-mail from a good friend -- whose birthday is also today (mentioned in last year's post, here) -- telling me she was thinking of us today -- and especially because her stepson & his wife recently lost their third baby at 24 weeks. She was with them at the hospital & wrote, "I now understand what an incredibly emotional time the two of you went through." Even before she wrote those words, I would say she was probably the one friend who always remembered, listened and sympathized with me more than any other. (And she doesn't have any children of her own.)

As I wrote last year, and true again this year, this day sort of snuck up on me -- we got back from a busy vacation, & boom! it was already the first week of August. Maybe that's a good thing. The misery of AF aside :p I am doing OK. So far anyway. I knew AF was due for a visit, & as the week dragged on, I thought, "it will be the 7th, of course," and of course I was right. :p

Tonight we will take pink roses to the cemetery and think about what was, and what might have been.

We love you, little girl.

11 years later

Remembering this day, 10 years later

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A butterfly flaps its wings

I can't believe I only blogged twice in July (& that the last time was nearly a month ago). Needless to say, with a new immediate boss coming on board at work (after 16 years with my former boss, who retired at the end of April), our 25th wedding anniversary, & vacation -- which included my parents' 50th (party for 100 people) & family reunion -- among other distractions -- I have had little time or energy to write, and am also sadly behind on my blog reading & commenting. I'm back at home & at work this week, & while I generally had a good time, I am physically, mentally & emotionally exhausted.

But while I enjoyed being at "home" & seeing my immediate & extended family & friends, & while the party & reunion were fun overall, they also came with a lot of work & stress attached. And while I don't want to get into the details here, let's just say that dh & I were not seeing eye to eye at times.

At several key points during our vacation -- the good stuff -- my dad's birthday party, the afternoon of the anniversary party, etc. -- we saw a monarch butterfly, which of course reminded us of Katie & always made us smile at each other, like we had a special secret between us.

But all was not sunshine & roses & butterflies. At the worst point, we were taking a walk & having a somewhat heated conversation.

And there on the curb was a dead monarch. I thought my heart was going to break. And it sounds funny to write this now, but it actually flashed into my mind that I had just written such glowing things about my marriage & my 25th wedding anniversary on my blog -- & if this was a sign, man, I was going to seem like such a hypocrite if & when I had to write a very different post down the road. :p

I think it WAS a sign, but maybe not the one I had initially feared. The sight gave both of us pause, I think. We went back to our room & talked & called a truce, and things improved, for the most part, from that point on. If it wasn't a bad omen, it most certainly was a wake up call, reminding us what was really important -- Katie, & each other -- & how even the best & closest marriages have rough spots & need work now & then.

Thanks, little girl.

*** *** ***

Parents' significant anniversaries & family reunions can be minefields for bereaved & infertile couples. But I have to say that I got through it all right & didn't think too much about the grandchild(ren) that should be here. We didn't invite any of my cousins' children to the anniversary party, because the hall only held 110 people comfortably & there simply wasn't room. The youngest person there was Parents' Neighbours' Daughter, who is 26 (!). And of the 40 people at our family reunion, there were two people in their 20s, two teenagers & two toddlers (the children of the couple in their 20s). Everyone else was in their mid-40s or older. Many of the cousins in my extended family are single or married later in life & do not have children, so I was far from alone in being childless. I suppose that might have seemed odd to some people, but to me, it's just my family. It was nice not to have to think about it too much, actually.

*** *** ***

I can't believe it is already August. And that those two significant dates on my calendar are here again, later this week. Not sure how I feel about it this year. I haven't really had much time to think about it (& maybe that's a good thing). I guess I'll find out shortly.

12 years. Wow.