Friday, October 5, 2012


So people have been asking how we came up with the nickname Zuzu and it's a long story.

OK, not really.  But you know I'll blab on about it for a long time anyway.

The "story" is that I was watching season 1 of Parks and Recreation on Netflix.  I find that show both hilarious and brilliant, and one of my favorite characters is April Ludgate.

image from here
If you're not familiar with the show, April works for the parks department and she is a scowly girl who rolls her eyes a lot.  She has mastered the WTF look.

Anyway, in stark contrast to April's apathetic eye-rolling, her parents (featured in just one episode that I know of) are supremely cheerful and vivacious and super cheesy.  April rolls her eyes at them constantly.  And their nickname for her is... Zuzu!

So one day I'd just watched that episode and I was being super silly and trying to make Caroline smile, and she just gave me her WTF look.  It seemed clear she was my own little Zuzu.

WTF, Mom?
So when David got home from work, I was calling her Zuzu and he thought that was funny because of some movie called The Adventures of Ford Fairlane starring Andrew Dice Clay, which evidently features a character named Zuzu Petals.  I thought that was a really cute name.  David informed me she's like a crazy drug addict or something.

image from here
Not exactly a role model for our Zuzu.  But of course the nickname stuck.  Now we call Caroline Zuzu Petals.  Or sometimes just Petals.  And sometimes just Zuzu.

My mom asked if Zuzu was from the little girl in It's a Wonderful Life, which it wasn't, but at least that's a nicer association than Ford Fairlane.

image from here
And thinking about Zuzu on It's A Wonderful Life got me thinking about that whole movie.  You know, I was never super crazy about It's A Wonderful Life.  My family's traditional Christmas movie is National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  The angel story line kind of bugs me and George Bailey always seemed so whiny to me.

But now there's something about the message that his life made all the difference for his family and his town...  I like it.  I mean, I guess that's the point.  But I really like it.  It's kind of like the butterfly effect.  (Also the title of a lesser-known movie starring Ashton Kutcher, if I'm not mistaken.)  Both movies are predicated on the idea that if you change one small thing about the past, you change everything.  And that even if something seems like a terrible failure, good things can come of it.

Now don't get me wrong.  My life would be FAR MORE wonderful if Eliza were here.  Hands down, no question, no debate.  If I could have her and Caroline both, and I could somehow really know how lucky I was, I'd never want anything again.

But this isn't about the impossibility of having her alive and with us.  It's just that our Zuzu (and Zuzu from It's A Wonderful Life) has gotten me thinking about just how much it matters that Eliza was here at all.  After we lost her, I couldn't figure out why I had to have gotten pregnant at all if we were going to lose the baby before she was even born.  It seemed like it would have been easier if she had never existed.

Now I can see how much being pregnant with her changed everything.  Her death is the worst and saddest and most unjust thing that has ever happened to me.  I hate it and I rage against it and there is almost nothing I wouldn't do to get her back.

And still I can't deny that good things have come to me since then, because of her.  Her brief little life still matters.  It has influenced us to no end, and changed us and how it continues to shape me, and the relationships I have, and the kind of parent I am.  Not all these changes are good, but a lot of them are.

I was talking to a friend today about her frustrations with her four-month-old's bedtime routine.  She's working on being able to lay him down and have him fall asleep on his own.  It's a habit she established with her first son but her second little guy isn't going down as easily.

Before Eliza, I would have worried about that, too.  I would have been much more insistent on patterns and routines and habits and parenting by the book and not "spoiling" the baby.

But now I think about how fast these past three months have gone by, about how quickly Zuzu's babyhood will go, and (as I told my friend), I'll rock this baby to sleep every night for as long as she lets me.  I can't think of anything else I'd rather do.  I don't think I'm creating a night-time monster who will resist bedtime forever.  I think we (as a family) are establishing a nighttime routine we all like.  It's what's right for our family, even if it's not right for everyone.

And I think it's because of Eliza that I'm not worried about stuff like that.  She sleeps.  We sleep.  How we get there doesn't really matter as long as we're all happy and getting some sleep, right?

And it's because of Eliza that I'm savoring every single moment with Zuzu--even the ones when I'm frustrated and she's fussy.  I've been surprised by how relaxed I am--because if it's not fatal, it's really not a big deal.  We'll figure it out.

After all, there will come a day when she won't want to be rocked to sleep, when I won't get to spend the last hour of my day breathing in her baby smell and kissing her soft head and hearing her sigh as she relaxes against me.  So I'm going to soak it up while I can.

And that's just a tiny example of Eliza's butterfly effect.

So there you go.  I've gotten completely off topic.  But that's the story of our Zuzu and the three other Zuzus.  This one's my favorite:


  1. This was refreshing to read.

    Even though I'm my own schizo vat of emotions most days (and it shows as I blog jump and comment on a bunch within a 5 min time frame!!), I often get settled with "it is what it is, and I'm going to love my life to every last drop" and try to see how wonderfully everything can unfold *because of* or *in spite of* my first born tragically and enexpectedly dying. And at 7 months out, it's still such a g*ddamn mess. But it boils down to my mind set of "I'm game". And that's a good thing.

    I've seen every episode of P&R since its debut. Its freakin awesome. And it only gets better as you make your way through the seasons! I'm watching in real time, so I saw the latest last night. D and I LOL at every episode.

    You Zuzu is quite the character! Love her WTF looks. Priceless!

  2. Thank you for writing this today. I needed to read it. It's the 15-month anniversary of delivering my dead babies and I'm sitting here waiting for another IVF monitoring appointment, sad and lamenting that I should be home with my nearly 9-month old twins, considering when and if we might try for a third, instead of agonizing about whether this will work and finally bring us out take-home baby. Sometimes it feels like my babies mattered to no one but me (and my BLM blog friends), and that's hard. But I know that my husband and I, too, will relish every chance to love on even the fussiest, most sleep-depriving child *because* we know what we've lost.

    (I love P&R, too, and Caroline's nickname! She's a beautiful baby!)

  3. I got thank you for this wonderful post. While I have been struggling to get 10 good kicks from this LO since morning, your post did something and the baby started kicking as every other day - loud and proud!

  4. She is of course adorableness defined. I love the background story, and that it embraces the attitude.

    I have to admit the same, while it's hard to think of good coming from my babies dying, it has happened. I'm trying my best to be all buddhist and appreciate what was, mourn what wasn't, and look forward to what will be. It's a work in progress.

    I still rock G to sleep and she's 3. I don't feel resentful that she won't go down without it, that I have a kitchen to clean and laundry to fold, so much to do but here I sit with my kid that's half my size who used to fit on my chest trying to curl up on my lap. I freaking adore it to my very toes. I tell people too. You still rock her to sleep? Hells to the yes I do. That whole meditation thing I'm supposed to be doing? That's the closest I get to it. And, weirdly enough whenever my husband or her granny put her to sleep she asks to be put to bed with no cuddles. Occasionally she asks me to put her down without them too, and I absolutely do, it's her choice.

    We try to be the strong parents, in control and in charge. But my girl knows her mama needs her, and I am grateful.

  5. I could not be happier for you and David. I hope you don't mind I've kept up with your stories. Your adventures in Baby Town remind me of the time when Hayden was little. Images of my baby boy grinning and wiggling are burned in my brain for eternity. Challenges are always inevitable, but when you get to hold your baby every day, life is good. Please kiss that baby girl, kiss that rascal David, and remember how good you feel more often than not.

    Jared Wilkinson

  6. Not really spelt 'zuzu., but as 'zoozoo', these animated characters are quite popular in india ( and is quite a hit baby name as well.

  7. Not really spelt 'zuzu., but as 'zoozoo', these animated characters are quite popular in india ( and is quite a hit baby name as well.

  8. "It's what's right for our family, even if it's not right for everyone."

    This is the motto that I have lived by for the past 6 years, 8 months and 16 days...pretty much verbatim. On the day that I delivered M, I also laid on an operating table, making a deal with God that if he let me live to see my baby girl again, I would be the best mom I could be. And at that moment I knew that I would always make decisions based on what my heart felt, not what a book, family, friends, sometimes my pediatrician, and sometimes even my husband, told me to do.

    So, I have NEVER used a crib a day in either of my children's lives. I let my baby girls sleep with me, because if felt right, and natural. I too rocked my babies as long as they would let me, and when I am lucky, they still do. I breastfed my second daughter until she was 20 months and 20 days old, because I knew that there would never be another, and it still felt right. I took and entire year off of work and spent the most crazy year with my little girls because I couldn't bear the thought of them being sick any more that year. (I realized half way through the year that I was NOT meant to be a stay at home mom, but it was the healthiest year they have ever had!!) When M was ready to go to Kindergarten, I believed in every ounce of my heart that I could not send her to an elementary school that was NOT the one I was working in, so I followed my heart and completely uprooted my family to live it a tiny apartment for 7 LONG months so that she could come to Kindergarten with me. Although it really was a crazy effed up decision, my mama heart made it, and in that 7 months, we grew so much as a family, and I realized that this mama bear does NOT belong in the same district as her girls. (So, we moved home!!)

    I guess what I am trying to say is that most people did not support, understand, or agree with many of the decisions that my mama heart made. But, I would not change even one of the decisions, and I truly believe that amazing good came from each and every one of the decisions. I could write all day about the benefits of each one, but this isn't my blog!!! :)

    Stay true to your mama heart, and always do what feels right for you, David, Eliza, Caroline, and any other babies that you may be blessed with. You are truly the only people in the world who know what is best for you.

    (Sorry, I REALLY strayed away from the post... I DO love the nickname ZuZu!!)

  9. I never though about, but love, the whole butterfly effect concept ... And damn, so true.

    Love that sweet Zuzu of yours.

  10. Love your meditation on "It's a Wonderful Life," which is one of my favourite movies. I first heard about it at university -- one of the film studies profs thought it was the best movie ever made & he would show it annually on campus at Christmastime (with a projector & film reels -- pre-VCR era, if you can believe it...!). I eventually saw it myself & have seen it multiple times since then, of course... and it becomes more meaningful as the years go by. I never fail to start bawling from the moment George sobs, "I want to live again!" right through to the last strains of Auld Lang Syne.

  11. I always read your posts and sit there thinking of something clever to write. I've got nothing. ha. :)

    I love that you have a cute name that suits your girl just right. I love that she's bringing so much happiness to your lives, and the butterfly effect Eliza has had on life. It's a lovely way to think of it.

    I often just sit here with Grace on my chest and breathe her in. Because I didn't do that enough with Jack, and also a little bit because I worry I'll regret it if I don't do it with Grace and something were to happen... BAH