When All That Is Left Is You

I had a terrible dream.  The kind that bothers you all day and forces your brain into overdrive to discover the hidden meaning in your psyche.

In the dream I had a baby, who was nothing but chubby cheeks, blonde hair, and big blue eyes, exactly how I would picture a baby of mine to look.  It was adorable, and instead of being a doting mother, my dream self was completely ambivalent over it.  My mom was doing most of the care-taking, and I would try, here and there, to spend time with my child and bond with him or her.  Yet, I felt very little connection to this tiny human, and I knew there was something wrong.  I would hold the baby, feel good about myself for doing so, feel somewhat emotionally connected, but then in due time I would be ready to hand him or her back to my mother.  I knew that this wasn’t right; that I should be feeling more than I was for my own child, but I kept coming up emotionally short.

When I woke up, I recalled the dream and felt very unsettled.  After my miscarriage in December, I still ache for the baby I will never hold.  So why was I so disconnected from the baby in my dream?  I have tried analyzing it, but still come up with nothing.  All I can say is that I hope this was not some kind of foreboding of my future attempts at motherhood.  Maybe there was no meaning to this dream, and I can just chalk it up to some misfiring neurons during my sleep.

Then again, the dream got me thinking about what we think we want versus what we actually want.  In the dream, I knew I should want this baby, and I would try to convince myself that I wanted it, but it wasn’t clicking the way it should.  The events of the past five months have taught me that hopes, dreams, and desires can take on a much different look when real life happens and you are forced to confront these things in a way that perhaps you never thought you would.  I always knew, in a very abstract way, that I wanted to have a family of my own.  When I came face to face with that desire, it was in an entirely different way than I had imagined.  I had to ask myself if that was what I really wanted, and then when I lost the baby, I realized how much my heart longed for those things.  I had to lose it all to understand how much I really wanted it all.

Just as the pregnancy loss and breakup forced me to confront the truth of my heart’s desires, recently I had to confront another desire of mine, which was to get back together with T.  For the past five months I have been trying to give him everything that (I thought) he needed.  This included a lot of space, encouragement, kindness, and love.  Even though the words I spoke aloud told the world I wasn’t waiting for him, deep down the truth was the opposite.  I thought that if I was patient and gave him what he needed, he would eventually see that I was the real deal- the “girl who didn’t know the meaning of quit” -and return to me.  What can I say?  I am a hopeless romantic and I wear my bleeding, broken heart on my sleeve for the world to see.

I held on to this silent conviction up until about two weeks ago.  The last few conversations I had with T forced me to confront some stark realities.  I began thinking about what it would look like if my desires came true and he returned to me, ready to start anew.  I thought about how it would make me feel, how we might repair the damage done, and what our life would look like.  When I began really examining the possibilities, my eyes were finally opened to the truth that I had so long been denying.

Yes, I wanted T to come back, but his words of late (which I will not post here) made me realize that what I want will never come to pass, at least not in the way it should.  Despite his protests, I have been trying to convince him that he wants to be a husband and father, that he has what it takes to make that happen, and with me by his side, we could make a good life together.  When I finally opened my eyes, I saw that he does not want to be a husband, nor does he want to be a father.  At least he does not want those things with me.  This revelation allowed me to come to terms with the fact that I cannot coerce or bully T into a life he does not want to live.  I cannot compel him to feel emotions he does not feel, or make choices he does not want to make.

And that is when I realized that if he did come back, I would always fear that I am not good enough for him.  Let me pause to make note that this is not a self-esteem issue.  I know what I am worth, and I know what I have to offer.  By good enough, I mean that I fear he would always be looking for greener grass.  That our relationship and the life we built together was not enough for him to be happy.   If T came back, I would be faced with the very real possibility that I would spend the rest of my life sleeping with one eye open in fear that he was sleeping with one foot ready to start his run out the door.

That is no way for anyone to live.  Not me, and not T.  So, I did the hardest thing I have had to do in some time.  I finally gave him exactly what he wanted: I set him free.  I told him I understood we do not want the same things, and I would no longer by trying to convince him otherwise.  I told him to be happy and enjoy life, and that he wouldn’t hear from me again.  That was two weeks ago, and while the truth of his feelings has not become any easier for my heart to bear, knowing that I did the right thing by walking away from a man who does not want to share a life with me is what allows me to keep moving forward.

And perhaps that was what my dream was really about: the realization that you cannot push a person into a feeling, life, or choice they do not want.  If we had reunited and became a family, there may have been times that T felt okay about his choice, and that he was doing the “right” thing, just as I did in my dream by trying to bond with my child.  However, eventually the ambivalence would return and he would long to be free of our life, in the same way that I would pass the baby back to my mother.  Love isn’t about chaining a person down, but rather giving them the freedom to make the choices that are right for them.  And sometimes those choices don’t include you.

I would have moved the moon and the stars for T, and I tried to many times.  I finally accepted that he does not want that from me, and so I became resolute, and turned around and walked away with the determination to instead move the moon and the stars for myself.  I said earlier that everything was taken away from me.  But the thing about life is that when everything has gone away, what is left is you.  Just you.  And that can be enough if you let it.

Until next time ~ B

 

 

 

 

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At The Intersection of Real Life and Dreams

“Dreams are lies.  A waste of precious thoughts.”

I read that recently.  I wish I could remember the source.   All I know is that I did not come up with it myself, so I give credit to the person who did.

That line has been on my mind quite often these days.  As I find myself at 31 years of age, single and childless, I am beginning to realize that I must come to terms with the reality that life has no guarantees.  This means that I need to start imagining a different kind of future.  One that does not involve a family.

Lest you think I have given up, dear reader, I will assure you that is not the case.  I have not given up on what I want.   Rather, I feel that it is disingenuous to go forth with the mindset that I will have the family I so dearly want someday.  The sad, unfortunate truth about the universe is that it owes us nothing.  The world does not stop turning when a heart breaks, or a child dies, or any other devastating event occurs.   Life swiftly marches forward, and if we don’t keep up, it will leave us in the dust.  It will do this no matter how desperately we want to grasp the clock and turn back the hands of time in an attempt to change the outcomes of our present.

I have been trying to imagine what my life could look like without a husband and children, and in doing so, I have had to ask myself the question of: “What makes me happy now, and what would make me happy in the future?”  I brought this up in counseling today, and my therapist agreed that I am doing the right thing by imaging different possibilities for my future.  She even straight up said: “Life has no guarantees.”

This brings me back to the opening line.   “Dreams are lies.  A waste of precious thoughts.”  The heartbroken cynic in me agrees with this 100%.  Why waste your brain space on dreams when the randomness of life will hit you with unpredictable events at a moment’s notice?  Why bother to plan for a future that may never come to pass?  It’s easy to dive into a sea of negativity and float out in its water like a sad, pale bitter melon.   Are dreams just lies we tell ourselves about the future to make the present seem more bearable?   When we think about future possibilities, are we just deluding ourselves into imaging a life that may never come to pass?  The only thing certain about life is its unpredictability, so perhaps dreams really are just a waste of precious thoughts.

Ugh.

The truth is, that is even too dark and depressing for me.  I may be a sad, pale bitter melon, but I want to hold on to whatever shred of hope remains in my psyche.  I want to hold on to the dream that someday, tacked onto my refrigerator, will be the picture of me, hubby, and  baby.

But in order for me to set a foundation for a healthy future, I cannot bank my entire life on that image.  I have to make room for other ideas of happiness.  Maybe I will never be a mom, but I could volunteer with kids.  I may never have a honeymoon, but I can travel to amazing places anyway.  I can try new things and surround myself with wonderful people and work towards making peace with that version of life.

Because when you are 31, single, childless, and female, you must make room for the possibility of a different kind of happiness.  Especially when you self-sabotage relationships.  I had to admit out loud today that I may end up alone, because if I don’t come to terms with that now, it will be all the more devastating to try and come to terms with that at 41, single, childless, and female.

Despite all of that, the deeper truth is that I am a fool for love, and will never stop looking or trying.  I may end up doing this my entire life, being a sort of Johnny Castaway of love, hanging out on my island alone, just waiting for that opportunity to come along.  I’ll dodge falling coconuts and hum loudly, and fall asleep just as the cruise ship sails by.

However, as I sit on my lonely island of one, I can’t help but wonder if maybe the question shouldn’t be “what else would make me happy” but rather “what is worth fighting for?”  At this point, I’m not sure what to fight for anymore.  I was recently in a relationship with a man who made me laugh every day, until things went to hell after I got pregnant.  At this point, I just wish he were around to make me laugh again.  Is that worth fighting for?

I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that despite planning on being a family, we didn’t know each other very well.  I heard that from him and from others.  “How could it have been love?  You didn’t know each other,” one person told me.

So, how do I reconcile the concept of us not knowing each other with the connection that I can’t seem to shake?  Is that just the silly, rom-com loving, hopeless romantic dreamer inside of me, lying to myself?  Do I just need to resign myself to the reality that I made that connection up in my mind, and let it go?  Is this the desperate, lonely, 31 single childless female inside of me that doesn’t want to end up alone?

Or, is it something worth fighting for?  Because the truth is, he is a good man.  If he reads this, I’m sure he is shaking his head back and forth in disagreement.  He stood by me during pregnancy, and only left when it all became too much- the grief, me pushing him away, his old demons… I know how overwhelming it was for me, so I can only imagine how overwhelming it was for him.  And so I stand by my assertion.  Nothing will ever convince me otherwise.   He is a good man, and he is someone worth fighting for.  It may not be me who does the fighting, but that won’t be because I didn’t want to, or because he doesn’t deserve it.  The reasons will be entirely different, and much like my behavior during pregnancy, will be all about me, and nothing to do with him.

Only time will tell what I end up fighting for, and what my happy ending will look like.  I do know this: I will continue to dream, and allow myself to utilize my precious thoughts on the idea of a happy future, no matter what comes to pass.  Life may have no guarantees, and the universe may be moving forward without care or compassion, but that doesn’t mean I have to give up hope.  It doesn’t mean I have to stop fighting, because I may not be fighting for love, but I will at least be fighting for myself.

Until next time ~ B

Bitterness And Avoidance: My Life After Miscarriage (M Word Part IV)

I am so, so bitter.  So bitter, in fact, that I cannot bring myself to share in the pregnancy joy of others.  I don’t want to hear about it, I don’t want to know about it, I want to pretend their pregnancies don’t exist.  I feel awful for admitting that out loud, but each time my friend brings her pregnancy up to me, it feels like any progress I’ve done to stich my heart back up is unraveled.  I know two pregnant women, and I had to block them from my FB newsfeed so I don’t have to read their updates and see their pictures. 

How long is miscarriage grief supposed to last?  When will I be able to see baby bumps and not feel a lump in my throat the size of an orange?   When will I walk past the baby section of a store and no longer fight back tears?  When will I see a young couple with a baby and no longer imagine what my family would have looked like?  When will I see a man holding a baby and not flash to the image of what it would have looked like with my ex holding our baby?

I do my best to compartmentalize my life so I can get through each day.  I spend one hour a week talking about my loss in therapy, and then the rest of the week I shove the pain into a box, only to be reopened at the following session.   While I think about my ex all the time, it’s somehow easy for me not to think about my miscarriage until I am triggered.  I don’t know why that is.  Perhaps it is because there is no bringing my baby back, but my ex is still walking around living his life.  Details on his life are just a social media click away.

I would have been four months pregnant on Saturday.  I told someone how sad that made me, and they said, “don’t be sad about that.  You just need to live your life and move forward.”  If healing my heart and moving forward was that easy, I would.  Believe me, I don’t like feeling this way.  I don’t like reaching milestones that will never be realized because the baby died and feel an ache reverberate through my body.  I have to choose my words carefully these days, because it’s like I can’t even be sad anymore.  People either say, “oh, don’t be sad, just move on,” or they say, “Oh, well, maybe you should go to counseling/talk about that in counseling.” No one wants to hear about what I’ve been through.   

Because no one wants to talk about dead babies and lost loves.

So, So bitter.  I just want to fast-forward to a time when this no longer breaks my heart over and over again.  I need something, anything, to go right. 

Fuck.

Until next time ~ Bitter B

Someday.

Someday…

…Other people’s pregnancy announcements will no longer sting.

…I will be able to see a pregnant woman and not feel jealous.

…I will be able to look at babies and not feel an ache in my chest. 

…Passing by the baby section at any store will not make me feel bitter.

…I will feel peace again. 

…I will meet someone new.

…That person will actually, legitimately, genuinely fall in love with me. 

…That person will ask me to marry him. 

…That person and I will get married.

…I will be pregnant again.

…I will hold a baby in my arms.  

…I will have a family.

Someday.

 

The M Word, Part II

I’m here to talk a little more about the M Word.  The M Word that is miscarriage.

I don’t let myself think about it too often.  Usually just once a week in therapy, where I cry and admit out loud how sad I am, and how much I wanted this baby.  Someone told me that it was just a fetus, but to me, to me it was a baby.  A child I imagined holding in my arms, bathing, experiencing the first laugh, first crawl, first steps…

Yes, it was a baby.  If it was a girl, we were going to call her Sophia.

I recently deleted the list of baby names I had saved on my phone.  My mother returned the baby purchases she had made the day before I miscarried.  I deleted the pictures that the father had generated on what the baby would look like.  What our baby might have looked like.

I need to get over the idea of our baby.  We are not having a baby, and we won’t ever be having a baby.

One thing I have not deleted is my baby board I made on Pinterest.  It is a private board that only I can see.  It sits next to the wedding board that also only I can see.  I feel like those two boards just mock me.  As if I am just another 30-something cliche, mapping out my future on the internet, a future that gets farther and farther away from materializing.  A 31-year-old singleton who quotes Sex and the City, shops for men on the internet, and plans for a future that may never exist.

I saw the father last night, the first time since our relationship dissolved two weeks prior.  “How did we get here?” I asked.  Then I laughed a little.  “Well, I know how we got here.  But really… how did we get here?” 

Seeing him was good.  I tested the waters, bringing up the possibility of starting over, going on a date.  He declined.  He doesn’t think we are compatible.  I accept his decision.   There is a certain sense of situational irony in this scenario.  Two weeks ago he said he was serious about going on a date and starting over.  In an emotional huff, I rejected that idea, rejected him, and gave up on the relationship.  After some soul searching, I realize he was right, our relationship was broken, and moving forward in a kind of going-back-to-the-basics style would have been good.  I don’t known if we would have ended up together, but I thought it was worth another shot.  I still do.  Although I am disappointed, it will help the piece I am working on right now, which is chemistry versus compatibility in a relationship.  I’m still fleshing it out in my mind, but I will start working on it this afternoon.

It is hard to not only accept the loss of the child, but also accept the loss of that particular future I was building.  In a way, the miscarriage allows each of us to move forward and find a suitable partner to possibly build a family with, whatever and with whomever that looks like.  When I was pregnant, our relationship became extremely stressful, and I know I did not behave in the best manner.  I freaked out and took everything out on him.  I was really scared.  I pushed him away, he pushed me away, then we would pull back together, and just when we got to a point where things leveled out, I lost the baby.  It’s like a big cosmic joke.  The universe giving us the giant finger.  Mother Nature, the original honey badger, who truly does not give a shit.

Last night he said, “I felt like that was a snapshot on what our life was going to be like.”  I told him I disagreed.  I firmly believe that things would have been entirely different had our circumstances been different.  We weren’t ready to be parents together.  Not after four months.  We were still in the fun dating stage, and that was taken away from us.  Then everything got serious and scary.  I don’t think it’s fair to say that is how we would have been in the future.  If this had happened a couple of years down the road, married, or even not married, that relationship foundation would already have been built.  We both wanted to be a parents someday, but we wanted it when we were emotionally and financially prepared for it.  People said to me repeatedly, “Is there ever really a perfect time to have a baby?”  Perhaps the answer is no, but there are certainly better times to have a baby than others.

He would have been a great dad.  You can’t say that about every guy.  And I know someday he will get the chance to be that “kick-ass husband and father” he talked about when we first met.  He is always so worried about everything, but I know he is going to be okay.  I believe in him, even when he doesn’t believe in himself.

As for me?  Sigh.  Preparing to start over once again is a very depressing and scary thought, but I know in time I will be okay.  I have to believe that there is a family in my future.  The loss of this baby and this family will be with me forever, but it won’t feel so acute forever.  There will be moments where I think I’m doomed to be old and crazy and yell at the pigeons in the park, but I am going to hold out hope that my future will different.

New life plan:  I’ll continue to work on myself, work through these losses, and hopefully find someone that I can grow old with.  I know there is someone out there that I can grow old with.

Until next time ~B

Shhh… It’s The M Word

This blog is raw.  It is real.  It is not for the faint of heart.

Miscarriage, or spontaneous abortion, is estimated to occur in 25% of recognized pregnancies.  There are various reasons for this awful heartbreaking medical incident that no one talks about.  50-60% of miscarriages are chromosomal abnormalities of the fetus.  The rest is a mix of something wrong with the mother, or something happening to the mother while she is pregnant.   When I got pregnant, I was shocked to read the statistics of loss.  No ones talks about the shattered hopes and dreams of miscarriage, because who wants to talk about dead babies?  Who wants to talk about their loss?

Well, I want to talk about it.

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“There and Back Again” with Me and Paul Anka

“Do you think I should have an abortion?”

“When the kid turns 18 are you gonna tell him what I said?”

“No.”

“Then yes, I think you should have an abortion.”

[Paul:]
Havin’ my baby
What a lovely way of sayin’
How much you love me
Havin’ my baby
What a lovely way of sayin’
What you’re thinkin’ of me
I can see it, face is glowin’
I can see in your eyes
I’m happy you know it*

I think this is the moment my heart stopped beating, the world swirled around me, and the tears started.  The tears that take breaks, but continue to pour down 24 hours later.

The truth is, I cannot be angry at him.  His feelings are legitimate.  We have been together less than six months, and we are not financially stable.  How can I argue with either of those points?  Abortion is the rational decision.  His feelings are no less important or relevant than mine.

You’re the woman I love
And I love what it’s doin’ to ya

However, what has hit me like a ton of bricks after his admission is how much I want this baby.  In my last post I wrote about how conflicted I felt about this pregnancy.  It is scary and uncertain and I do not know how I am going to do this.  When he said he wanted me to terminate the pregnancy, I realized instantly that the thought of terminating this pregnancy is devastating.  I cannot do it.  I will not do it.

Something else became clear to me as well.  The reason I have been pulling away from him during the last five weeks is because I knew, deep down, that he does not want this baby.  I knew he was talking himself into it, and every time he would make a snarky comment, I would cringe inside and my heart would crack a little more.

Havin’ my baby
You’re a woman in love
And I love what’s goin’ through ya

The most recent incident was on a trip to Powell’s.  We were walking out of the store and passed a book on making moonshine at home.  He picked it up and said, “Oh cool.  This would be fun… since I’m going to be spending a lot of time at home now…” with a tone that implied how much he loathed the very thought.  I stood there and looked at him as he flipped through the pages.  “Wow, could you say that with a little less bitterness?” I replied.

He laughed.  “Since I’m going to be spending a lot of time at home!” he said, with a fake happy voice, and he put the book down.

The crack in my heart deepened.  I bit my lip.  “You don’t have to do to this at all,” I said in a very small voice.  He chose not to respond.

Finally, last night we got into a very deep discussion about the pregnancy, and I knew, more than ever, that we are heading in the same direction, but are not on the same page.  The more negativity that came out of his mouth, the more certain I was that he felt deep unhappiness. After going around and around in conversation for what now seems like an eternity, I mustered up the courage to ask the fatal question.

[Paul:]
The need inside you
I see it showin’
Whoa, the seed inside ya
Baby, do you feel it growin’
Are you happy you know it
That you’re
[Both:]
Havin’ my baby

I should note that this was not the first time I asked him.  One week after I found out I was pregnant, he made a bitter comment about how we are not going to have any more fun.  I flat out asked, “Do you want me to have an abortion?”

“God no!  No, not at all.  I don’t even like that word,” he responded vehemently.

[Odia:]
I’m a woman in love
And I love what it’s doin’ to me

[Both:]
Havin’ my baby

[Odia:]
I’m a woman in love
And I love what’s goin’ through me

I now know the power of his poker face, because I believed his emphatics and therefore took his falsehood at face value.  As the weeks went on, I was much less inclined to buy into this untruth, so last night when he responded to my abortion question affirmatively, it was not a surprise.

The fact that it was not a surprise does not make the truth any less heartbreaking.

I have spent the last five weeks looking for signs he was coming around, and occasionally he would show signs of it: the pregnancy book for dads that he purchased on his own; the times he would rub my belly and smile; the text message that read, “love you both.”  But these were just fleeting moments in his otherwise apprehension towards the pregnancy.  I wanted to believe him when he said, “I didn’t want to be an old dad, and now I won’t be.”  I wanted to believe him when he said we would be okay, that he was excited for our impending family, and that he wanted to be a dad.  I even thought about asking him if he thought we should get engaged before the baby came, that way even though we were not married, the commitment would be there, and that baby would come into the world with two parents not only devoted to him or her, but also devoted to each other.

[Paul:]
Didn’t have to keep it
Wouldn’t put ya through it
You could have swept it from your life
But you wouldn’t do it
No, you wouldn’t do it

But, for better or worse, I am an excellent reader of between-the-lines.  It was written all over his face so many times.  Once we were out with my friends, and one of them was like, “Oh wow, you’re having a baby!”  And he replied with a half smile, half grimace, “Yeah, she sure is.”  All I could do was look away and pretend to my friend that everything was okay.

With the difference in our feelings becoming increasingly obvious,  my anxiety began to spin wildly; I became anxious and depressed, worrying about anything and everything, pushing him away for the smallest of things, because this is my defense mechanism.  Then came the night that my cat was sick and I had to take her to the emergency vet at 9:00 pm.  I texted him the situation.  He responded, “Okay, drive safe.”  I then barely heard from him the rest of the evening.  I was so hurt by this lack of any concern or empathy for me, and knew at that moment that he cared more for going out and being with his friends than he did about being a partner.  When we discussed the situation, he claimed this was untrue, that I should have known he cared, but that he was unable to help so he just did not say anything at all.  I took little consolation from this, but wanted to put the situation behind us and move forward to make the relationship work.

[Both:]
And you’re havin’ my baby
[Odia:]
I’m a woman in love
And I love what it’s doin’ to me
[Both:]
Havin’ my baby

That was a week ago.  Now I find myself at a crossroads.  I feel like Tom Hanks at the end of Castaway, standing at the dusty Midwestern NoWheresVille, wondering which direction to take.  I know I want to be a mom.  I am scared and uncertain of how I will do this, with whom I will do this, and how well I will do this.  But I know this: I will give it everything I have, and at 31, I know enough about poverty and single parenthood and the difficulties of upward mobility to make sure my child will not end up in the same situation.  It takes a village to raise a child, and I have a village.  A wonderful supportive village that will not let me fall.

[Odia:]
I’m a woman in love
And I love what’s goin’ through me

I want to take this journey with a partner, and not just any partner, but one who is ready for fatherhood and commitment.  I want a partner with whom I can share my joy without worrying about upsetting him or hearing snide comments.  I want to talk about baby stuff and feel excited and the good kind of anxious.  The harsh light of the day has revealed to me that I do not have this, and that it seems all but impossible to sustain a partnership with someone who does not want this baby.  He has said so many times he wants to be a dad; I guess this is not a good enough time for him.  I wish I could change his mind, but I cannot control the feelings of others.  I cannot make him want to be a dad to this baby.  To my baby.  For the past five weeks he has said, “This is YOUR decision. This is YOUR choice.  YOU know the risks of having a baby.”

It has rarely ever been “we” or “our.”  Your your your. 

So that is the reality.  This is MY baby.

[Paul:]
Havin’ my baby (havin’ my baby)
What a lovely way of sayin’
How much you love me

[Paul:]
Havin’ my baby
(havin’ my baby)

I am pulling out everything I am capable of in order to stay strong right now, but I cannot deny the most painful truth: My heart is broken beyond any short term repair.  I have a life growing inside of me that is half me, half him.  I know eventually my heart will be whole again.  Still, I am not angry or hateful towards the father.  The timing, the finances, the lack of readiness- he is entitled to worry and feel that this is not the right time.  I am entitled to continue moving forward with the pregnancy, and that is exactly what I intend to do.

I do not know what this journey is going to look like, but do not all great journeys begin that way?  This is my own There and Back Again.  Me, the baby, and a little light 70s am radio.

[Odia:]
I’m a woman in love
And I love what’s goin’ through me
[Paul:]
Yes, you’re havin’ my baby

Until next time, I’ll be here, with the immortal Paul Anka:

Image

~B and little B

*Paul Anka (You’re) Having My Baby (featuring Odia Coates)