Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Is this better, dudes?

[NB!! This is a rewrite of an old blogpost from December. If you want to know why, click on the first link below.]

Some of you may be wondering why the author hasn't been writing more about progress on her letterpress project and her arts grant. That's because there has been no progress. Why?

Ok. Get comfortable. This has taken Duckie a few days to write, and she's going to break it down a bit.


The day that our protagonist got the envelope containing her good news about the grant, she also peed on a pregnancy test and got two blue lines. Don't you agree, it was right for her to cry. And oddly enough, not with joy.


It's not known whether the readers have read back over this blog's archives; &Duck has a bit of a history of reproductive problems. She gave a quick linkfest a couple of posts ago, on her wedding anniversary. This pregnancy is around the same timing as the last one, give or take a few weeks. This is the 9th week, whereas this time two years ago it was the 7th week.

Ampersand Duck is ambivalent about having another child. On the one hand, there's her lovely man, who would make such a fantastic father, and who is already a fantastic stepfather and uncle. On the other hand, she's 39, and she's just managed to get to a point in her life when the next 12 months will allow her to achieve something to be proud of professionally, rather than helping other people achieve their goals.

But hey? When nature calls, even at an inopportune time, it's probably best to accept what is happening and make the most of it. Especially when everyone around you gets so excited and happy for you.


For the first few weeks your hostess really had to fight off depression. She felt cranky that the only way her family could grow involved her body, her time and her energy. She kept wishing that Best Beloved could be the pregnant one (nice thought, but she would joke, in a classic female way, that if men ever worked out how to have babies she'd be first in line to protest about it). All she could think about was the lousy timing, and how she was poised to start printing, but then it all had to stop.

And everything HAD to stop; Duckie is really bad at pregnancy, and luckily had her name down with a specialist who started giving her blood tests every few days and hormone supplements. He told her not to travel more than 2 hours, which put the kybosh on going to Woodford, and advised against riding her bike and walking too much. Printing, with its physical demands and reliance on solvents for cleanup, is definitely OUT. Our heroine spent the last few weeks driving (oh, the petrol prices!) and sitting in front of the computer, sulking. Your blogs have kept her sane, truly.


Last week Ampersand Duck started coming to terms with the thought of being pregnant. She realised that she could use the grant money, buy all the materials and get the artists involved working on their images, make the polymer plates (it's a pretty harmless technology), and then have everything in place to print later next year. She felt sure the Arts Board wouldn't mind granting her a slight extension.

Duckie talked to her boss at the art school, who was very supportive about a change of plans for the BookStud next year. And she could always work on her bookbinding skills, which don't involve a lot of standing up.

Best Beloved and the Duck started talking about what to do about their tiny house: extend or move? they made an appointment with a nice real estate agent they'd bumped into to discuss how much their house would be worth, to help them decide. They knew it was early days, but they knew people who had their babies in amongst the builders' dust, or amidst packing boxes; it pays to plan ahead.

Actually, our mistress of the blog started to feel quite jolly. Morning sickness was kicking in, and her boobs felt like bursting, but that's just the fun of sprogging.


And then Ms Duck had an ultrasound last Friday, and encountered a familiar worried look on the face of the technician. Are you sure about your dates? is a question that makes your heart sink, especially when you've been there before. And yes, she was very sure of her dates.

From that moment everything went poo-shaped. It's amazing how fast a woman can go from feeling like you're doing something special with your body to feeling like your body is just a mutant visitor from Planet Defect. It took moments. Suddenly you're not a fertile goddess, you're a failure. There was the black blobby sac floating on the screen, tucked in a nice safe place between three ravenous fibroids, but there was nothing happening inside it. Well, there was, but it wasn't alive. In fact, it had stopped about three weeks before, but Duckie's body was convinced it was still pregnant. It still is. But instead of feeling nauseous in the morning and knowing that it's for a purpose, now she wakes up and feel nauseous and then feel nauseous about feeling nauseous. Just like last time.


Since Friday Duck has been pretty numb, apart from some pretty full-on crying in the car. She finds the car is the best place to be a watery tart, probably for the same reasons that men like to talk sideways about serious issues -- you know, while they're gardening, or washing up. She can sob but stay in control, and that feels valid. Until you stop at the traffic lights and look sideways and realise that the people next to you can see you with snot and tears all over you. And they are always looking, probably because this little black duck has a wildly-painted car. Bugger. Lying on a bed crying just feels like I'm indulging myself too much a lefty whinge. Go figure. It's not like we don't indulge ourselves in other ways.


Things done in the past few days to escape reality and feel better:

Videos: The Razor's Edge (1946 version, of course); the second series of Extras; Catching up on West Wing; Hairspray.
Music: Tim Buckley, new mashups by Arty Fufkin (great timing, thanks), Johnny Cash's American III.
Reading: Jasper Fforde, trash magazines, blogs, Anne Tyler.
Imbibing: wine, cider, chocolate, salami, soft cheese.

Has the writer ever told you how much she likes Anne Tyler's fiction? AT's books have a certain emotional space in them, and are peopled by characters who have been emotionally damaged in different ways; they tend to live quietly within themselves until she finds them a reason to come alive again. Each novel is a gentle lesson in internal survival and renewed hope. &Duck goes through phases of needing to read them. Now is one of those times. If you haven't read one, she recommends starting with either The Clock Winder or Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant. Or The Accidental Tourist, but read it before you see the movie version.


Ampersand Duck is not telling this tale to get your sympathy, because she's getting weary of casting herself as a person needing pity. She's really starting to understand (although really, universe, she got the lesson at least 20 years ago. RLY.) that there is no quota for painful experiences. She knows, as many people do, that there are many women out there who go through this, and go through it over and over in their quest for children. Our heroine saw many of them at the fertility clinic she was visiting for my blood tests, and she felt so sorry for them, with their looks of quiet, dignified and painful optimism. One day &Duck went in and the place was full to standing-room only, and that air of suspense was palpable. When she asked about the crowd, she was told it was 'embryo implantation day'. Sigh. Poor girls.

We all know that women go through miscarriages all the time. And they keep trying, which is admirable. Or they stop, which should have everyone's utter understanding. Ampersand Duck will not try again.


Actually, Duckie is telling this tale at this point in time because tomorrow morning at 10am she's going under the knife to get Wellsley Giblet (see, they'd nicknamed it already!) scraped out.* And she's scared. She wants lots of blog-reading good vibes to steady that surgeon's hand and keep her safe. Last time a stupid doctor perforated her three times, and she bled for two months. This is a different hospital, a more experienced doctor, but the same soft mutant fibroid-filled womb. It should only be a day-visit, and she should feel better in a day or two. If all goes well.

Wish her luck.

She is the twin cats' mother. She likes writing using the first person. Now you can see why. It's a bit dry, no?


*Actually, there's a tale here as well. This is the perfect situation for a drug like RU-486, when an abortion is needed and there's no live baby to kill. BUT. Because it was not available last time, &Duck was D&C'd, roughly, and thus was perforated. It still isn't available now, but even if it was, she wouldn't be able to use it because the strong crampings might reopen the perforations from last time. GAH! Thanks, Mr Abbott. It's all your fault Duckie is going under the knife again. Put that in your pipe and stick it where the sun don't shine.


Anonymous said...

Well, at least it doesn't read like a vain little diary item this time, although I don't see why people should think I'm I turd who isn't allowed to criticise you for breaking my rules because a black void of malice inhabits the place normally occupied by a heart.

Amanda said...

Heh. Classy dame that A. Duck.

Amanda said...

Heh. Classy dame that A. Duck.

M-H said...

Sorry to read this. Hope all goes well with strong, controlled hand of surgeon working skilfully and efficiently.

Ampersand Duck said...

Oh THANK YOU m-h. It was a tough day, but all ended well enough, considering.

I'm sorry, I should have written a warning at the start that this all happened in December and that this is a rewrite. I've done that now, so hopefully we can have a bit more fun in this thread.

It's a very interesting thread over at LP, but I didn't feel able to join in. Igave up LP for Lent last year; it raises my blood pressure too much, although I do peek when people give me a tip-off.

Anonymous said...

... and i, i, i, i prolly should have put my url on so you'd know who was commenting but I blame the insomia (and posting a comment at 4:53 has to justify that claim!)

I spent another half an hour after that fuming at the same point Amanda made at LP - that it is your mention of an arts grant, rather than your use of the personal pronoun, which was the dog whistle slur.

Amanda said...

Didn't mean to make it worse for you with my comment Duckie, just seems obvious to me Blair's "felicitous composition" thing is, to say the very least, extremely disingenuous.

Amanda said...

Disingenuous, in addition to being completely nonsensical as others have pointed out.

cristy said...

Heh. Nice.

It was a blatantly ridiculous and mean-spirited criticism to begin with, but I think that this rewrite really serves to drive that point home.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

Golden egg, Duck. Lovely great big golden egg. Pavlov's Cat thinks this is very very clevah.


Ampersand Duck said...

Pwrowr! I consider myself stroked the right way. Thanks PC.

Anonymous said...

Ducky, if you weren't already married, and you weren't a girl, I'd totally propose to you right now.

lauren said...

sending blog-reading good vibes your way &D. thanks for your bravity (?), braveness(?)..thank you for being brave and writing so frankly about your experience. she may be the twin cats' mother, but she is often given a break from the intensity of the situ by writing in the third person. here's to good surgeons and well-behaved uteri xx

lauren said...

so i followed the link to LP after the fact and realised what the the whole 'i' vs 'she' thing was... eep!
over at she sees red, we actually discussed and thought about this a while back too. conclusion: seeing as centuries worth of art criticism and debate was written 'objectively' [insert literary debate and performance analysis here too], 'she' decided to go with being the anti-critic, keep it charmingly subjective and stick with the 'i'. so there. two cents, done and done.

Ampersand Duck said...

Thanks, Lauren! Subjectivity is the new black. Let's all embrace it.

Kate, I'll hold that clse to my heart ;)

TimT said...

Heh. Nice stuff. Keep it up, Ms Duck.

Mel said...

What has happened to you makes me very sad and angry. All of it. Wishing you the very best.

genevieve said...

Twin cats mother - hehe.
Clever duck. Hang in there, I am sad to see the other post gone though, it was very powerful stuff.

Ampersand Duck said...

It's still there, somewhere, Genevieve! Just disappeared into the archives, I guess.