Taking Care of No. 1

Hello, there, Internets. It’s been a while.  Nothing crazy going on, no hecticness about the weeks these days, just lots of things that need doing – like putting the kiddos’ laundry in the dryer before I retire for the evening lest Rex have no shorts to go to school tomorrow. While I’m sure he would love to show everyone his Cars underwear with Mater on his booty, I’m guessing it would be pretty distracting.  Before I did that, however, I wanted to stop in and say hello and let you know that I’m actually doing pretty ok, considering.

We’ve been in Louisiana now almost a full year and the ache of missing our friends and life in Texas has begun to fade.  Moving to our current house and neighborhood really helped with this because it is alot like our old neighborhood in Texas. Plenty of large, mature trees, a great neighborhood, and a house that we feel we can make our own.  The first neighborhood we moved into looked like post-apocalyptic Louisiana with scrubby palm trees and spindly pine trees.  Our current neighborhood is the Amazon forest in comparison.  We have a babysitter next door, a kid to mow our lawn lives down the street and Rex has two new little friends across the way. All I need is a Mah Jongg group, and I’ll be set! Speaking of sets, I also just bought a vintage 1940s Mah Jongg set with bakelite tiles and racks that I can’t wait to get my hands on to play with.

I still miss our Golden boy, but I’m knowing more and more that we did the right thing at the right time.  Still, I miss him something awful.

I’ve started in therapy again, after my last go round to address some basic non-infertility issues was rudely interrupted with my pregnancy with Little Miss and our move. My new person is also a mom. In my days of infertility therapy, I would have only accepted a therapist who was a mom if she had been through infertility. I wanted the tiger with the stripes. Now, I just want someone who has been close enough to the toddler and newborn years to remember them and offer constructive coping mechanisms for when Rex asks me to repeat something for the third time in 5 minutes.

She’s also helping me to be much more focused on marveling at Rex rather than losing my patience with him.  I’m still relatively new to the concept of coping with something by looking at it differently – rather than trying to change it.  It certainly makes accepting things as they are a lot easier. It also helps me appreciate what a wonderful little boy Rex is – even when he is driving me batshit insane.  Funny, his whining has seemed to decrease exponetially as well.

Finally, I’m listening to what my mind and body have been trying to tell me for a while: if I don’t have time to myself EACH AND EVERYDAY I will be a blubbering, patience-losing, physically and mentally drained person. Me time is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.  I don’t necessarily need to take more of it per day, I am focusing on really enjoying the amount that I have.  That means not using it to fold laundry, empty the dishwasher or tidy up.  It does mean sitting on the porch swing, reading a book or just listening to good music.

There you have it. I promise not to take two months before posting again.

The View Through The Soda Straw

Myopia is a neat word, but a terrible condition. I know because I had it for many years, starting in elementary school. I could only see objects very close in front of me and everything else was just a colorful blur.  Glasses helped, but the blur bled through on the sides where there was no glass resulting in myopically good vision only in front of me. Contacts were better but sticking stuff in my eyes daily – or worse, sleeping in the contacts – was not particularly fun.  Then, in 2004, I had Lasik.  Angels sang, the heavens parted, and I could see the trees and the forest and the individual leaves.

Via Creative Commons

Via Creative Commons

While I can see everything clearly now, myopia is still ruling my life, only this time its of the metaphorical variety.  I realized recently that for some time now, I have not been able to see my forest for the trees of Little Miss, Rex, Mr. X, work, and household management.  I feel like I’ve been on a Sisyphean treadmill of laundry, dishes and poop control (dog, baby, pre-schooler or cat) and It. Will. Never. End.  Rex will never be potty trained.  Little Miss will never sleep through the night.  I will always be telling Mr. X to continue to look in the fridge for the cheese because yes! it is there! I will never be able to relax when I get home from work and enjoy 5 minutes of peace.  I will always be catering to someone else’s needs.

Intellectually, I know that this is not the case. Time will march on, hopefully magically depositing Rex’s poop in the toilet with it and encouraging Little Miss to snooze for at least 6-7 hours straight.  But, I can’t see into the future. I can’t see the light at the end of these tunnels. I cannot predict when these magical events will take place.  On the other hand, I can predict the next time I will have to empty the dishwasher (tomorrow morning), change a diaper (later tonight), or fold laundry (again, probably tomorrow morning).  I can see the very myopic view of the future and it looks a lot like the past days.

I want to see the bigger picture, though, because it helps me to appreciate the tedium of today.  I worked really, really hard to get this family and I want to enjoy these days that will never be here again.  I’m trying very hard to get the long view, to love every minute of this time because it will disappear.  Except that there is not an insignificant part of me that asks, “Do you promise?”

At any given time of the day when I reflect on these challenges, motivational slogans run through my head: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint!”, “The days are long, but the years are short!”, “It won’t always be this way!”  Frankly, they just make it worse.  I want someone to say something more like, “Hard things are hard.”  Four words that recognize that sometimes life sucks the very marrow out of you and it’s ok to be tired, to maybe whine a smidge about the hardness of it all. Sure, many people have it a helluva lot worse than I do, but these are my challenges. They belong to me and I’m the one who has to live with them.

Maybe recognizing that I have been missing the bigger picture is step enough for now.  Frankly, between all of the potty training histrionics, sleep training failures and daily living, I’d just as soon focus on a big glass of wine at the end of the day.


The Madness of March

I honestly don’t know or remember how I made it through the month of March.  These past few years, March has been either very good or very bad for us.  This year, March was just BATSHIT INSANE.  I can’t think of a more polite or accurate way of putting it.  It was a perfect confluence of events and (literal) shitstorms that made the 744 hours that called March home nothing short of tornadic.

It started with the business trip during which you would think I would have been able to get five nights of blissful restorative sleep except that the bed was about as comfortable as marble. It ended with the final cleaning out of our old house in which our prolific hanger collection clung for dear life to the goddamn wire shelves in our master closet almost sending me into Faye Dunaway-esque fits of wire rage.

In between,  there was every kind of drama, large and small imaginable. Some highlights:

Little Miss had her first illness, a lovely combination of sinus infection and bronchiolitis with possible pneumonia, culminating into a three hour epic doctor’s appointment complete with a chest x-ray, breathing treatments and antibiotic shot to the thigh.  My usually sweet smiley girl was a hot, feverish and snotty mess who made a full recovery within 24 hours, as little ones are so easily able to do.

We got into heated negotiations with the seller of our new house over some furniture he had that we were willing to take off of his hands. It came down to a difference of $140 at which point, he offered to include with the furniture things like … old bricks to the house, floor mats in the garage and the manuals for the appliances.  Really.  We ended up taking his offer only because it also included the original blueprints to the house which we knew would come in handy when we went to renovate the architectural travesty that is the front of the house that he designed. We think the look on his face when he sees the changes will be well worth the $140.

We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary with a beautiful dinner party for 20 of our closest friends at a gorgeous old restaurant in the French Quarter on a picturesquely beautiful New Orleans spring night. Except, Mr. X wasn’t there because he had come down with a terrible stomach bug the day before which he proceeded to give to me and his parents who were staying with us. May I never have to hear of my in-laws digestive troubles in such detail again.

The next – yes, the next – day, we celebrated Rex’s 3rd birthday with a windy race-car party of running 3 year olds and alcohol-wanting adults.  That night, I began to feel stomachly challenged and had to miss work the next day to lay on the couch while my in-laws begged for death in the guest bedroom and bathroom.  Oh, and the appraiser from the bank came around to do an appraisal on the house for the new buyer.

We packed, closed on the new house, moved, unpacked, cleaned the old house and closed on it in a space of 9 days.  NINE DAYS.

There were also the usual shenanigans of work, laundry, baby care, toddler wrangling, husband soothing, and kitty snorgling.  In other words, I never want to do this again.

Don’t Speak

I have one business trip that I take each year. BossMan and I go to a convention where a lot of our clients also go so that we can feed them and get more work.  I’ve gone for at least five years.  For the past three years, the final night of the trip has been reserved for BossMan and I to have drinks and fancy cheese to cap off the whirlwind of meetings and greetings.  It’s meant to be a wind down from the crazy schedule but each year, it turns into a pit of oversharing.

Every year, I feel like I drink too much (free, stress-relieving booze materializing at my fingertips without further effort on my part!), eat too much and say too much.  It only occurs to me after the second drink or so that I’m deeply uncomfortable discussing my daddy issues/post-partum depression/personal worries with my boss.  But I just keep talking.

The problem is that even when I am sober around him – which I am 99% of the time – I still feel this need to overshare with him.  He has that quality about him that triggers in me the intense need for approval (hello, daddy issue no. 1!) coupled with a very good ability to listen and offer sage wisdom which equals my need to tell him just about anything that comes out of my mouth or show him whatever shiny new toy I have.  I am like my 3 year old showing random old ladies in the grocery store his new shoes that light up when he walks.  No boundaries whatsoever.

Except that I am not 3 years old (nor do my shoes light up – I’m not a stripper). I am a 37 year old adult and he is my boss, not my dad or my psychiatrist.  Our relationship, while laced with friendship, is one of employer and subordinate.  We are not equals, either in age, experience or views.  This is probably why I feel rather skeevy talking with him in depth about sensitive issues.  I know he wouldn’t use the information against me, but it makes me feel vulnerable nonetheless.  Next year, I’ll remind myself of this before I order the second glass of wine.

Requiem for a Dog

Our beloved G has left us.  We said goodbye to him on Friday, after having been his family for over 4 years.  He saw us through two IVFs, two kids, postpartum depression, a new job and a move to a new state.  He kept his sweet yet stubborn disposition until the end even though he was having issues getting up due to degeneration of his back muscles and arthritis.  He began pooping in the house and it got progressively worse and worse until the point where he would poop while laying down and not even realize it.  He also seemed really tired all of the time and didn’t have the same get up that he had even a year ago.  We estimate his age to be about 12-13, certainly nos doggie spring chicken.

We really struggled with the question of when we should let him go.  Should we do what we could to give him an ok quality of life for another few months even though he wasn’t able to do the things he really loved?  Was it just putting off the inevitable? Should we put him through another move and before that more time when he would be home alone all day because I no longer work at home? We decided that we couldn’t. We wanted to give him rest while he could still enjoy his last car ride.

Mr. X took him in to the vet. I knew that it would be too hard for me. I assumed that since G was really my dog, Mr. X wouldn’t be as affected.  I was wrong. The only time in the 13 years we have been together that I have seen him cry was the day that he took G in for that final appointment.  Not even the birth of our children prompted him to cry, but saying goodbye to our old boy did.  I loved him even more because of that.

There is a hole in our home now where he used to fit. But, we also know that it was time and he was ready after having had a great life, at least with us. He brought a lot of joy to a lot of people and will be remembered for a very long time.

Crazy? Bring It.

I’m wondering if I’ve subconsciously decided that I need to have absolute crazy going on in my life which would explain why on top of rearing two children, working and husbanding along the husband, I am now involved in moving house. Again. In less than one year.

I would say that the arrival of Sweetpea showed us the glaring problems with our current living situation and spurred us on to move to the town that I currently work in and where Rex’s school is located.  Currently, Rex and I (and soon Sweetpea) travel 45 minutes in one direction door-to-door to get him to school and it is grating on us both.  While it means that Mr. X has a much longer commute, the kiddos and I will be minutes away from the places we all spend our days in.  Plus, we’ll be in arguably the best school district in the state from elementary all the way to high school.  Excellent free education is a definite necessity for us.

But, there is that little matter of packing, again. And moving, again. And unpacking, again. Plus, the house we’re buying is in great shape but has a really tragic front that will require some finessing to make it more palatable to our aesthetic snobbery.  So, while moving in will be a great leap forward, there will still be more drama down the line as we do some major renovation on the roof and outside.

Oh, and we’re of course going to be continuing to potty-train Rex and sleep-train Sweetpea (but not at the same time or in the same room, thank goodness).  And, we’ll continue to shepherd G through his golden years that have gradually included pooping accidents in the house.   I’m beginning to wonder what I will do with myself when there isn’t any drama going on.

Second Birth, Not the Same As the First

Sweetpea is 5 weeks old (!) which means it’s high time that I memorialize her birth story before it becomes any more blurry in the rear view mirror.  Here goes!

Like her brother, Sweetpea was induced.  Unlike her brother, she was not induced due to size.  Hers was a scheduling induction due to my maternity leave length and the time we had parental assistance scheduled to be around.  But, we did wait for her to be fully cooked at 40 weeks before pulling the trigger.  Still, it’s kind of bizarre picking your kid’s birthdate.

I had to show up the night before the induction at midnight for an insertion of cervadil with monitoring.  Mr. X came with me to get me settled and then I sent him home to get one last night of uninterrupted sleep in our bed.  My doctor thoughtfully prescribed me an Ambien so that despite being hooked up to machines and IVs and lord knows what else, I slept like a log.  I don’t remember when I woke up the next morning, but I called Mr. X and he showed up for the adventure of the day.

We had to wait until 1pm to let the cervadil do its thing after which my OB came to visit.  We discussed breaking my water or just starting pitocin.  I voted for just the pitocin since the water breakage with Rex was a nightmare.  So, pit was started and contractions came on, but not terribly fast or hard.  At some point, I heard a pop and felt a gush of fluid – my water broke on its own!  I was so thrilled not to have to deal with having it broken.  Of course, things started to get more intense after that.

I made it until about 3:30 and 5cm before asking for the epidural. It took another hour for the doc to arrive to administer it.  Unfortunately, they sent Mr. X out of the room so I had to hug on the surly OB nurse all the while my supposed best friend did his thing.  Epidurals are naturally uncomfortable to begin with but this one was particularly so because I had to pee badly and the contractions were continuing with their thing.  Sitting still so as not to be paralyzed was supremely difficult.

Once it was in, Mr. X was allowed back in, Surly Nurse catheterized me (ouch!) and the bladder pressure eased a bit.  But, while I started getting that super warm tingly feeling in the lower extremities, the actual discomfort of the contractions didn’t get any better.   In fact, it got worse, like very strong pressure on my pelvis.  This coincided with Sweetpea’s heartrate decelerating with each contraction.  Surly Nurse began moving me from side to side and I was given oxygen to help Sweetpea.  Neither of us was doing well at that point.  I knew something wasn’t right, almost like she was being pushed into my pelvis with each contraction.  My OB appeared at that moment having been alerted to Sweetpea’s distress and told me that it could be a number of things including her cord wrapped around limbs or worse her neck.  I was pretty certain this was not the case, but I still knew that Sweetpea wasn’t going to handle a vaginal delivery well.   I told my OB that I didn’t want to chance it and to go ahead with a c-section.

Flurry of activity at that point once the decision was made.  I lost track of Mr. X briefly but he reappeared in the operating room in time for the main event.  Since I already had the epidural, there wasn’t much to do before my doctor started slicing and dicing.  If I never experience someone manipulating my innards while awake, it will be too soon.   Mr. X could probably have lived a very long and pleasant life without seeing my innards manipulated.  But, he did get to see Sweetpea enter the world.  I have vague recollections of her crying and then hearing the nurses laughing because she was peeing and peeing all over them as they were doing her Apgar scores.

I spent a little longer on the operating table because I elected to have my tubes tied.  Why not have it done while I’m already open?  If having your innards manipulated wasn’t weird enough having doctors discussing mundane topics while operating on you while you are awake is just plain bizarre.  My doctor, though, was nice and efficient and I was in recovery in a matter of minutes.  There were some issues with pain control as the morphine just wasn’t doing the trick.  The nurse finally gave me liquid ibuprofen which did the trick.

Sweetpea was brought in to me and I got to finally get a good look at her and saw how absolutely beautiful she was!  She had wispy hair with frosted white tips, just like mine when I was born.  She also latched on like a champ and got some good colostrum before conking out.  I don’t remember how long it took to get me in the post-partum room, but we were all pretty exhausted at that point.  We sent her to the nursery so all of us could sleep but she was brought in to nurse.  And nurse. And nurse. And nurse. It seemed everytime I had just fallen asleep, there was the knock at the door and the sound of the bassinet being wheeled in for another feeding.

I had to remain in bed for 24 hours after the c-section so I was captive to the nurses and anyone else who came in.  Apparently this hospital is also a teaching one because student nurses from the local community college came in All. Day. Long. to check my fundus, ask about my gas (is it passing? yes), look at my incision and take my blood pressure.  Thank goodness I was on pain medication otherwise I would have not been as humoring.  I appreciate they have to learn, but I wish I had been given a choice about whether they would learn on me.  Luckily, the next day they weren’t around and I could recuperate in peace… except for the demolition work going on down the hall.  The joys of an older hospital!

We were all released on three days later and Rex finally got to meet his little sister.  Asking a 2 and almost 3/4 year old his impression of his new sibling is not going to yield a useful answer so I didn’t bother, but I could tell that he was freaked out by her.  He’d seen babies before, but not ones that were now going to live in his house 24/7.  Luckily, we had grandparents around to help him stay grounded and he went to daycare as usual for more normality.

Five weeks on and we’re all settling into the new new routine.  He’s still doing a great job being gentle around his sister and enjoys giving her kisses on her downy little head.  He also likes keeping an eye on her while we change diapers.  He asked to hold her the other day and when I started to put her in his arms, he told me that she was too heavy and ran off to play.

I can’t believe I have two kids.

Tunnel Vision

In law school, grades were determined by attendance and your final exam.  Miss too many classes and you weren’t allowed to even sit for the final exam.  That little gem has caused countless nightmares for me over the years and I’ve been out of school for ten years now.  Knowing that the entire success of the semester depended upon my performance on a three hour test made me a little nervous.  Given how important the final was, the period after Thanksgiving and up through final exams and again after spring break through finals became known as The Tunnel.

Tunnels exist for you to go through to some other location, but in going you have to travel the dark, rather scary interior that is not very well lit and full of hazards if you dare go too fast.  The promise of course, is that you will emerge on the other side in the light and will have traveled to some new location that you were seeking.  In law school, this meant the end of constant studying, worrying, and the chance to be a normal person again who wasn’t expected to process a semester’s worth of information and knowledge on a three page exam.

I had forgotten from Rex’s newborn phase that this fourth trimester is yet another Tunnel.  I’m hunkered down, plowing through Sweetpea’s newborn days as best as I can waiting for the sunlight (a social smile perhaps? maybe a coo?) at the end of the journey.  We planned a little better for this tunnel, though.  We have more help – both of the family and hired kind – and we also know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will get better, lighter and easier.  All I have to do is look at Rex and remember that he too was a squwaking infant not all that long ago and now he’s telling us about his day at pre-school and who was put in time out and then sleeping through the night.

To her credit, Sweetpea is a real treat of a baby.  I never had those snuggly feelings with Rex thanks in part to the whack job of PPD and in part because he was never a snuggly infant.  He was a bruiser of a child even when he was born and not very compact.  Sweetpea, though, is tiny in comparison to her brother in his infant days and is like a feather to carry.  She fits perfectly in the crook of the neck and has extremely kissable cheeks.  Getting to dress her in onesies with kittens is just icing on the cake.

She even has done us the favor of waking up to feed only twice in a night already.  She’s also having more periods of awake time, watching her brother’s antics and following our movements.  Most importantly to me and my anal retentive heart, she’s being rather receptive to getting into somewhat of a routine, as much as a newborn can have a routine.  It was the disruption of the routine with addition of newborn Rex that really threw me for a loop and I recognized the same feelings coming back once we got Sweetpea back home.  But, again, I know this time that a routine will be established, one that has a place for all of the creatures in the house and even some time for Mr. X and I to enjoy each others company over an episode of Game of Thrones.

Rex, for his part, is doing better with the newest addition. We’ve been very proactive in making certain he knows that he’s still important and loved and part of our home.  He loves to supervise sister’s diaper changes from his stool that he keeps by her changing table and is very good at picking out outfits for her to wear when she needs a change.  He likes to kiss her fuzzy little head and then go back to watching Backyardigans.  He still goes to daycare and gets a good deal of structure and stimulation there so he’s not completely wound up at home.  Weekends are still a challenge, trying to figure out how to work everything that we need to do into the day with Sweetpea’s napping needs and Rex’s playing needs.  But I know that it will come.

Just like in law school where the calendar showed the last day of finals and the end of The Tunnel, I can see the end of the transition and can take a lot of comfort in knowing that while difficult and painful, we are not in a permanent state of flux.

38w4d: Plans

Still here, blogosphere, and still pregnant!  I would be a liar if I said I’m not the least bit uncomfortable.  It seems this child is much more fond of breakdancing on delicate lady parts than Rex who preferred to kick ribs and things of that nature around this time.  Neither are particularly fun.

We’re much better prepared this time around than we were with Rex.  Part of that is knowing what to expect and part is not letting the fear of Bad Things take over the planning aspect of things.  We’ve bought lots of clothes. We’ve put up pictures on the wall in the nursery.  We even – gasp! – set up a registry.  We’ve scheduled parental visitations to help out with Rex and the new baby for the first few weeks and I’ve been doing a lot of cooking and freezing to have meals ready for all of us when no one feels like cooking.  In other words, we’re actually treating this an event that will happen.

As for a birth plan, well, I have none except to have a healthy baby in the least dramatic way possible.  I had the exact same plan with Rex and due to my complete lack of expectations about the whole process, I had a very positive birth experience.  Hell, I progressed from 2 to 10 cm in an hour with my epidural and pitocin while playing Cash Cab with Mr. X. That to me is just about as close to heaven as you can get.

Like last time, I have no desire to have an unmedicated, watered, or home-based birth. I don’t care about being hooked up, monitored, or stuck in the bed due to an epidural.  Whatever it takes to get this child out in one, healthy piece is what I’ll do even if that means a C-section. This isn’t about my experience – it’s about getting her here as safely as possible.

Some might say I have an inflated trust in the medical profession.  At my core, I’m a deeply practical person.  I don’t pretend to have medical knowledge beyond that which Dr. Google has shared with me.  I’d like to think that I have picked doctors who share my basic practical philosophy and won’t bullshit me about my options.  I trust their knowledge and experience and  expect them to trust that I have am making informed decisions about my care.  It also helps that I am not prone to high risk complications which necessarily escalate possible intervention nor am I adamantly against medical intervention.

Whatever the case may be, this is perhaps the only area of my life that I am willing, even happy, to cede control to someone else to ensure the best possible outcome. Just as long as I get my epidural, we will all get along just fine.