The Daily News

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My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I am feeling like a rickety blog writer; like a blogger who is wobbling over the words as if the training wheels were removed this morning. Writing a book requires a very different type of writing...I think? And it has been hard to make time for deep thoughts or simply more stories about my period with the final deadline for the book looming. I feel like after September, you're going to get me totally in your face saying, "have you thought of this?" or "have you noticed this?" or "can't we all just love each other." I'm going to start posting six times a day and chewing the ends of my braids (did you do that after the pool? Suck on the ends of your hair? Was that just me? Was that too much information from summer camp circa 1984?).

I think the other thing is that I have had emotional hypothermia. I guess that is the only way to describe it. At first I had told Josh that I was cocooning, but after watching a Wonder Pets episode (Save the Caterpillar!) where an inchworm's friend emerges from her pupa as a butterfly, I realized that I was not really cocooning at all. Cocooning is like going into sleep mode to emerge better and bigger. I am not going to emerge any different from how I entered. Hence the wrong analogy.

I think it's closer to entering hypothermia. That second stage of hypothermia where the blood vessels on the surface of the body constrict in order to shunt blood towards the vital organs. Emotional hypothermia is about boiling it down to where all non-essential emotions and thoughts are shutting down in order to best serve the existing necessary anxieties. Anything external and non-necessary quite literally feels as if it is constricting; as if I am constricting whenever someone throws out a new thing to deal with. Today, at CVS, I was charged an extra dollar for a package of diapers I didn't want to be buying anyway and I could literally feel my stomach churning and constricting while I dealt with the cashier who was sucking away minutes from my day.

There is the work deadline, an illness in our extended family, and a health scare we had with one of the twins. That in the end turned out to be turned out to be something but somethings feel like nothing when you hold them against what you had thought originally to be a something. I couldn't come down from that health scare. I cried in the car leaving the doctor, so relieved. But I wanted to cry like an animal. I wanted to do that cry where you are half crying and half screaming but the twins were in the backseat and I had to hold it together. And I didn't even think I could explain why I wanted to cry like that after dodging the bullet.

Josh said recently that a mother would do anything to give her child what she thought would make them happy and I disagree. I think a mother would take from her child anything she thought would make them unhappy. And there is a distinct difference. I do want my children to be happy--but I always want them to chart their own happiness. And if that means becoming a Catholic, meat-eating, business tycoon, then I would bask in the happiness of their carnivorous and money-making attendance at Mass. Truly, there are few things the kids could become or do that would upset me in any way. I think harming another person falls into that "disappointment" category. But I have such a vague notion of what would make me happy therefore I don't think I could ever make the assumption that I could help them with their happiness. I can only keep throwing out possibilities and see which ones they take and run with any ideas they throw out into mix as well (such as the ChickieNob's suggestion that we eat vegetarian bacon and green apples for dinner and that is just what we did on Monday night).

But I would do anything--including harming myself--to help my child because while I have difficulty guesstimating what could make another person happy, I think we all can point to certain things in life and say, "that would most likely make all of us profoundly unhappy." Being in pain, for example. Or having your heart stamped on. Or being on the receiving end of cruelty or fear or distress.

When we thought one of the twins had a health problem, I didn't know what to do with myself in that moment. I knew intellectually that I would come to a place of peace where it barely registered as an emotional point in my day-to-day life. We can become accustomed to anything. We can take jabbing our bellies with needles and make it commonplace. We can start with it being this huge mass in our life and then have it become so familiar that we can give ourselves an injection while we watch an episode of a television show and barely register the meaning behind our nightly routine.

But what I mean is that I moved into this state of having emotional hypothermia in order to deal with the thought of having my child in pain. Because I was simply waiting and breathing, not knowing how I could remove this thing from my child's life; take it on. There was nothing I could trade. I couldn't hurt myself and therefore not have my child hurt.

This wasn't the first time we had a doctor ask us to see a specialist to just "check out a concern." We have preemies--this is par for the course. But I don't learn. I don't take on new coping mechanisms or do it better next time. I simply slip into this hypothermic state, feel as if I am this tiny being trapped inside these huge pillars that are looming overhead, threatening to fall. And we walked away having dodged the bullet but I can't stop thinking about this: the hypothemic way I deal with stress, how little we can do.

I didn't mean for this post to go to this place. I was just thinking about how rickety I've been feeling as a blog post writer. How they've felt a little stunted, a little awkward. A little like that guy at the party that you really don't want to talk to but you know he's going to make a beeline for you. And how I'm going to this place this weekend that I absolutely hate and I hate that I hate it. I hate it because we ruined this perfectly lovely spot by going there to get away from things when we were in the middle of treatments the first time. And that spot is a location casualty. It simply reminds me too much of a time when I hated myself so deeply. I never thought we'd have to go back there, but now family has begun vacationing in this spot and if we want to see them, we need to deal with this location casualty too.

I spent a lot of time before the appointment hating myself for some of the thoughts and fears I was having and how impotent I felt in fixing a potential problem. And it's so close to the same--the hate I felt for my own body, its inability to carry a child. It seemed particularly bizarre that we were heading back to this same spot. I pulled into a gas station crying a few weeks ago and I didn't know if I was crying about my child or crying about that time before they came into our life.

Thank you for letting me unwrap this. I really didn't know this was where the post would go. It feels like one of those therapy sessions when you walk slowly to your car. And jot down a few notes on a post-it pad before driving. Just because you want to understand these thoughts later. But I truly do feel better after writing this.


chicklet said...

If you felt rickety, you shouldn't now, that was expressed perfectly. What you've been going through, it's awful, just awful, and I do the same when I get the good news that it's not as bad as I thought - I cry in relief, but I cry a little not knowing how to let go of how bad it could've been.

Amy said...

I have nothing profound to say, but I am here with you, and I am listening.

kate said...

Just coming out of the closet as another post-swimming-hair-sucker...

And to say that sometimes, those numb-feelings can be good. There's something resucitative in those moments of hypothermia, even if we come out exactly the same on the other side.

I'm hoping your wobbliness eases soon. I'll be thinking of you as you confront your location-casualty.

luna said...

oh mel, I hope unfolding these thoughts and feelings helped them find a place. your writing is clear and beautiful and filled with love for the twins, and I hope yourself for helping shape them into the wonderful little people they are becoming. there was so much more to this post, but I'll just say thanks for writing it.

Lori said...

Rickety is just the shadow side of Strong. You need to experience both to be Whole.

My arms are around the whole you.

Feliz Dianne Flutter said...

Oh Mel. I'm glad that the health scare was something less sacrey. Truly glad you got that out. And I don't think you could be rickety when it comes to writing. You seem to have the right words to explain anything!

Nic said...

You expressed some of what I have been feeling, on and off, the past few weeks.

Sudden crying jags, not knowing really what it is about, reliving the infertility nightmare....strange how it keeps coming back to bite you in the oddest ways.

I truly think we NEVER recover from the emotional trauma we went through to get where we are now. And I think our minds have some fairly deep grooves embedded of what version of autopilot to go onto to start 'coping' when the going gets rough. Every cough, cold and fever for me has that background resonance of 'here it comes, it was too good to be true, as always'

Your blog is far from rickety, but maybe you're under lots of pressure and your mind is doing some (cold!) freewheeling.

Hugs xxx

annacyclopedia said...

I just left you a long and beautiful and heartfelt comment and Blogger ate it. The short version is as follows: be gentle with yourself. You're hurting and it's complicated and whatever you have to go through to work through it all is just fine. Ricketiness, hypothermia - you're coping just beautifully and you don't need to learn a new way. Just cause it hurts doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong in all this.

Keeping you in my prayers as always, but especially this weekend as you face the location. Take it easy on yourself, hon.

loribeth said...

Glad that writing that out helped you to feel better. And sorry you had to deal with it all in the first place. (((hugs)))

nancy said...

I'm glad you feel better.

I can somewhat relate (but i have no real details of your story) because my daughter was sent to a specialist for a heart problem. It happened at birth and a year later. At birth, I was discharged but was told the baby won't be, as she has something "wrong" with her heart. I remember pushing the little baby cart with my precious newborn, not knowing what to do. I just cried and cried down that hallway. Then, after we thought we were past it, a year later, off to another specialist to have a second look. Ugh. And there is just ~nothing~ we can do.

Julia said...

Mostly, I am just here, listening.

One thing I was going to nitpick, though, is about removing unhappy for your kid. I may be odd (I am odd, I know), but I think there are some flavors of unhappy I wouldn't rush to remove. The self-imposed kind, the kind that comes from bad decisions she needs to process and learn from. I would, of course, help her work through them, yes, but not exactly remove. Like I said, small nitpick. Mostly, I am just listening. And wishing you peace, even when face to face with that location casualty.

BethH6703 said...

emotional hypothermia - rings so true for me. my best IRL friend calls it "cave dwelling". its my time to just step back from anything unnecessary, and do what I need to to wrap my thoughts and emotions around whatever the current crisis may be. This misery isn't loving your company, but it IS nice to know that someone else out there has a similar defense/coping mechanism.

My thoughts are with you guys, thru the vacation @ the location casualty, and for whatever you face with the twins. Hugs sweetie!

(or should I call you Ms. VonSnatch? wink)

Kristin said... are amazing. If circumstances have come together and made you feel rickety, you are allowed. I am so glad the health scare proved to be nothing. Remember that we are here and listening.

bleu said...

I am so relieved on so many levels. So relieved that the huge scare was not what was feared. Relieved you were able to get this out and how it must help some and I think you so needed to be able to post this.

For me I hermit, but I see it like an animal retreating until it is safe to come out again. I hide in my cave and tend to my family until such a time that venturing out is ok and necessary.

The body hate/self hate for stuff thing is interesting for me. My body carried Bliss so I love it, even though it has been failing me now which causes issues I still have that so it is this love hate thing.

I think you wrote beautifully and expressed your feelings wonderfully. Thank you for sharing it.

Jess said...

Oh yeah, the hair sucking. That's pretty gross, actually, looking back. Ew!

I know what you mean about the location casualty. If we didn't force ourselves to go back to Hilton Head, which is a favorite, it might have become the same after the bad-blood-draw/crying in the bathtub incident of 2006. But we have now made happy memories there, and you can do the same in your location casualty and it'll be a sad place no more.

I'm sorry for the stressors lately. You deserve a break, Mel. You really do.

Tara said...

You always seem to be able to express yourself so clearly and elequently. And in a way that almost anyone reading can understand and put themselves in your shoes.

Sometimes when I want to write about something and put it into a blog post, I realize afterwards that I've been unable to clearly express exactly what I wanted to, how I wanted to. I wonder if I was able to write in the beautiful way that you do, if I would feel more satisfied afterwards.

I also wanted to say that I think it's very cool that you had vegetarian bacon and green apples for dinner, upon the ChickieNob's suggestion. That's awesome.

Ally said...

Oh, Mel, that was the complete opposite of a hypothermic, rickety post. It expressed your thoughts beautifully and clearly. I wish I had more to offer, but all I can say is this: you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Stacie said...

What you wrote touched me deeply. I still have a few tears in my eyes. I have felt/feel that way, so I can relate and maybe understand a little of what you are going through. And like you, the crying hits me at unexpected times (usually when I can't just stop and let them come).

Sending love and hugs your way as you cope with the location, the vacation, and whatever you are facing with the health of the twins.

Topcat said...

I used to chew and suck my plaits after a swim in our swimming pool, then dip them back in the water went they went dry. Sometimes I would chomp down on them so hard, pieces of hair would get stuck in my molars.

I loved your Rickety Rickshaw post. Actually, it wasn't even rickety at all. Just heartfelt, and honest, and true. I heard you.


niobe said...

Emotional hypothermia, huh? Now you've got me started on a whole new set of analogies. Perhaps I suffer from, shall we say, emotional anorexia? emotional Reynaud's syndrome? emotional dermatomyositis?

Kate said...

I'm sorry you are feeling rickety. I hope everything turns out to be ok.

TeamWinks said...

You do have a lot going on in that mind of yours Mel. We're all here to listen...

Pamela Jeanne said...

Glad the post allowed you to get some things off your chest. You also coined some great new terms -- my fave being "location casualty" ... makes me think I could write a freaking guidebook of such places.

As for your comment about turning into a Catholic, meat-eating, business tycoon...well, that's sort of me. (I'm a recovering Catholic and not a tycoon per se, but I hang with them every day and if you're judged by the company you keep ... and I love my steaks and pork chops.) Anyway, just made me laugh. I guess we're polar opposites.

Jen said...

I didn't suck my hair, I twirled it and all the time.

I always cry after everything is over too- especially if everything is okay. That's when I can finally release everything I've been keeping in.

Io said...

You know how with you I am. I wish I could just give you a big hug an laugh-cry while your kids weren't there to see you lose it.
You are such a beautiful writer - I should just take this post and make copies and hand it out to people the next time I am feeling rickety.

InfertileMadWoman said...

Aww sweeite, I am sooo glad that the twins are ok...

I totaly get the crying thing, esp this week!!



Barb said...

Lots of hugs and support Mel. Life is a bitch a lot of times. That's why your ability to overcome is so amazing.

Tash said...

I missed a lot last week, apparently. Sigh. Sometimes now, after "the bad thing" has happened, relief hits me harder than concern or anticipation. My mother once told me about the day my brother cracked his head open on the coffee table -- I was there, and yet I can't remember any of it. She apparently, methodically, gathered towels, made phone calls, got dad from work, drove to the pediatric office, held my brother down while they put stitches in his forehead. Drove home, put the towels in the laundry, said goodbye to the both of us as we went off to the circus with friends, and then broke down and sobbed for hours.

Adrenaline is also an amazing thing. Hang in there.