Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The family newsletter I didn't send.

I want so badly to write a funny post, about the family newsletter I didn't send. I'd recap 2008, including the births of Joseph and Frankencoochie - one adorable and wonderful, the other terrifying and still needing repair. I'd talk about anesthesia being the best (and feeling like the only) sleep I've gotten, and the stresses that can be added to a family by the birth of a baby, threat of the loss of that baby only 12 days later to bacterial pneumonia and my concurrent illness. His was 8 days in the hospital, mine was 8 months of antibiotics and two surgeries...with the after effects still ongoing. I want to make jokes, make light.....but the words get caught in my throat.

I want to write that post, but I can't.

Instead, I want to write about my son.

In less than three weeks, my son will be a year old. I'm not having an easy time with this. It was hard when Emily turned a year old, my baby having grown so fast.....but it is harder this time. This year seems to have gone so much faster than her first, and we've all been through so much more this time around.

My son is going to turn a year old, and it will mark the biggest miracle I've ever witnessed. He is on the verge of walking, he's saying some words (Mama, Dada, Hi, Wow, yes, Emmy, yeah, kitty) and he lights up every room he enters. He is such a flirt, shameless. He is healthy and vibrant and funny. He is HEALTHY.

So many times I prayed for his safe arrival, not knowing the worst of the danger would be after he was out. It's starting to get easier to forget (or at least not think about) how he looked with the oxygen tubes he wore for weeks. More days go by at a time without me remembering how he looked, tiny and small in a hospital bed, hooked up to so many monitors it was hard to hold him - but I did every chance I got.

He's going to be a year old, and sometimes it's hard not to feel cheated. Cheated by the time that passed while he was so sick and in the hospital - time that should have been spent nesting with my newborn. Hard not to feel cheated by the time I've spent ill, in surgery, recovering, then in surgery again. I want a rewind button so I can go back and enjoy some of those days, because he will never again be that little. So instead I try to hold onto these days.

Sometimes that means when he cries at night, even when I should let him settle himself, I still go in. Sometimes it means I go in to check on him when he's sleeping - to make sure he's warm enough, to look at his sleeping body and watch his chest rise and fall.

I'm not ready for him to be a year old, but I am more grateful than I can ever express that THIS is my problem, that THIS is what I'm grieving.

If I were to sum up the real message I'd send my friend and family,
"2008 was bad in so many ways, but it could have been so much worse, we have been incredibly lucky and we are grateful to have had friends and family that came through for us when we needed them most."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Just call me Kermit.

Green has always been a good color for me. With pale skin, dark hair and green eyes it usually worked well. This particular shade, however, does not suit me a bit.

My brother's girlfriend is pregnant.

I want to be happy for them. I want to think, "Yay! Another niece or nephew who will think I am super cool." I'm just not there, and I have only a few days to get it together before I have to fake it.

It might be easier if the relationship between the two of them were better, if the girlfriend didn't hold my niece (a few months younger than my own daughter) over my brother as the ultimate bargaining tool, if it weren't for the fact that my niece is the main reason the two of them are still together. It might be substantially easier if my brother hadn't been considering leaving her psycho ass anyway, despite her behavior with regard to their daughter, and now that has all changed. Not saying he should or shouldn't, just saying she is too much like my own mother to be good for anyone.

It might be easier if the girlfriend wasn't giggling over her oops, or making "he just gets near me" comments - according to my sister, who was the one to tell me. She didn't want everyone to show up at my house for Christmas and have it hit me like a load of bricks when I opened the door. Because she is teeny, and 2 months along, and showing.

It might be easier, but I doubt it, because despite my thoughts that I was getting over some of this infertility crap I'm apparently not over it. I'm ashamed to say that as soon as my sister told me, the tears were in my eyes and I felt like I'd been punched in the gut. WHY? My family is complete, there were never going to be more children for me beyond two even if I hadn't had the infection and subsequent hysterectomy. It's not like I was planning/hoping for more children and now it won't happen, and it's happening for someone else.

I'm embarassed to be this upset about it. I know part of it is their lack of regard for the miracle of life and her specific lack of appreciation for the daughter they have. It's only part though. In what feels like being petty, these emotions I'm feeling are mostly about me....and this isn't about me.

It isn't about me.

I keep telling myself and yet I'm the one having the big ass pity party as if it is. Maybe it's grief over the fact that I once deluded myself about having an ooops the second time around, or at least not trying for years.

I have tried to write this so many times, and no matter how I write it, I sound like an asshole. THe thing is, I don't have it in me to write it in a nicer way, and I don't have it in me to delete it again.

It's not easy being green.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I watched the sun rise this morning, from the gradual lessening of the darkness to full daylight. Kids, cats and husband were all asleep. It was me, the sun and God.

As I watched the changing sky, I finally let out some of the grief I've been holding in, let my gratitude overwhelm me and let the tears fall where they may. I talked to God, really talked, and laid it all out - realizing there have been so many things I've kept inside, things I never really had to carry alone.

I told Him the gratitude I feel has in some ways been as hard to carry as my grief, because they are connected and both feel so much bigger than me. Also because acknowledging some of the things I am grateful for has meant acknowledging what we've been through.

Looking back, thinking of my brother's murder, the loss of Eleanor, my pregnancy with Joseph, his birth, his illness and mine, my surgeries, the stresses on my marriage and family life, I took the time to recognize the good things that have come from all of that.

My relationship with my father is finally at the point of comfort and stability. I have two healthy children who stun me with their very presence, I am so lucky to have them, so lucky they are both ok that it takes my breath away. My marriage has been through some of the hardest tests a marriage can go through, and we're still standing together.

In the last year, I've been reminded of the beautiful, precious fragility of life. I have experienced love, true unconditional love, from my husband, children, family and friends. I have learned I am stronger than I ever thought possible and I have learned to ask for help. I have been reminded of the value of true friends, the kind that when it seemed my world was falling down around me showed up with duct tape and chocolate and helped me make it better. I have learned that what doesn't kill you actually can make you stronger, but not in the ways you'd think.

As I sat in our new home, allowing myself to be amazed by how much has happened and grateful for where it has led me, I took time to say thanks for the home itself. For the food in the pantry, the heat running through the pipes, the soft warm beds my family was sleeping in and the protection from the cold air outside.

I remembered those whose loved ones are far away or no longer with them. I thought of our military and their families, prayed for their safety, well-being and reunion. I thought of those who are cold, hungry, scared, abused, lonely or feeling forgotten.

I asked that God look over us all, and enjoyed the warmth of the sunshine and my blessings.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I don't know how I'm doing it.

In the last two weeks, we've sold a home, purchased a home, and completed a large portion of the remodeling on that home. I've had pneumonia, daily confirmation my broken foot has not healed correctly and gotten the wonderful news that I need surgery. Again.

Between the cold he just got over and the breakthrough of two new teeth, Joseph's nighttime sleep hasn't been the greatest though I'm so grateful for good naps during the day. Emily is holding her own, but I'm worried about the change of home and school for her knowing how much she loves her current school. I'm sure she'll do fine, but it's a stress for me.

I've been getting up early, approximately 5 hours after stopping work the previous day and not necessarily getting to sleep all of those hours. The bags under my eyes are almost big enough to save me a moving box and there's still so much for us to do before move in. Today I painted the kitchen (minus the cabinets - there's just not enough time to do that right now).

Tomorrow is shaping up to be insane with the following on the schedule:
-Get Emily off to school
-Buy more ceiling and trim paint, exchange a light fixture for one NOT missing several components
-Meet with the phone installer
-Take Joseph to his 9 month appointment (for those keeping track at home, he's 10 months on Monday. We're a bit behind)
-Go to Sam's for food for the moving crew
-Get electrician and gutter installer started on their projects
-Paint playroom/office (HUGE room)
-Wonder what I'm forgetting, because there is something else....

I've had a few people ask how I'm doing it. I think moving is the only thing keeping me from falling down out of simple exhaustion. I feel like I'm burning the candle at both ends as well as in the middle and running out of candle. I want desperately to sleep but my clock is ticking and I'm running out of time. We've had a lot of help but there's still a lot to do between now and the move. We pick up the moving truck Friday, our official move isn't until Saturday. I know my husband, though - if he has his way almost everything will be IN the truck Friday night. Everything but those things we can't lift together that is - my strength is not what it used to be and it's not going to get better between now and then.

In the midst of all this, focusing on the tasks at hand have been a good diversion in some ways. Physical labor has taken the place of overthinking in some instances. There have been a few cracks though, times when I'm not even thinking about how tired I am or how stressful things have been. Times I'm not thinking about what this year has been like or the fact that surgery looms once again, and yet suddenly I'll find myself with tears falling that I didn't even know had surfaced. I joke that after this is all over, I'm taking a mini vacation to the loony bin.

The thing is, the joke isn't even really that funny. Sometimes, a day or two in the psych ward sounds like a good idea.

With regard to the surgery - I have an appointment mid-December with a urologist. After an appointment with the surgeon who did my hysterectomy, it is thought I have the following going on:
-interstitial cystitis
-need for a bladder suspension
-possible need for reconstruction to my urethra
-"something else as well, perhaps."


I keep moving because I have to. I need to. But I also need to SLEEP.

Monday, November 10, 2008

10 days

Ten days ago we purchased our new home. When I left it this evening, I was stunned by the fact there's a lot left to do but we have made an amazing amount of progress in 10 days. Even though we've been working away that whole time, today was a turning point. Today, the house started to feel like it had turned into our future home.

We have spent many, many hours stripping wallpaper. So many that it is disheartening to think of what we could have accomplished in the same amount of hours and muscle aches. I have one finger that doesn't hurt and the rest of me is wrecked. Neck, head, back, shoulders, stomach (though that hurts from coughing), legs, butt - all of me. I swear to you if I get through this without dropping 20 pounds, I will be amazed. Oh, and the PCOS poster child.

We were supposed to have a family friend over to help with painting starting Saturday- and this person has a sprayer so it would presumably have made things go much faster. He forgot, went hunting instead, and we found ourselves doing everything by hand. We didn't even get to start anything other than taping until Sunday. We made up for lost time though!

As of when I left the house tonight the following had been done:

Paint - finished in the dining and living room areas, entry, hall, three bedrooms (master and children's rooms).

Flooring - walnut floor installed in dining room, living room, hallway. Sanded and will be stained tonight. Old carpet and pad removed and new carpet installed in three upstairs bedrooms (same rooms mentioned above). Old carpet removed and pad installed in remaining two bedrooms, hall and playroom. Old vinyl removed from all three bathrooms and laundry room, new subfloor installed.

Electrical - any switches that needed to be replaced were taken care of today, and we replaced the light fixtures in the dining and living rooms, cleaned up most of the vintage lights we were keeping and purchased materials to strip the paint off the bathroom light fixtures that were painted at some point. The "creative" wiring job for the garage door openers was also redone.

Tomorrow, we're scheduled to have the vinyl floor installed in the three bathrooms and laundry room. We'll also see the rest of the carpet go in. The hardwood floor will get another sanding and be sealed. We should also be able to complete painting of the kitchen, any touch up in the upstairs bedrooms and possibly even see the playroom painting completed.

After tomorrow, we won't be able to walk on the hardwood floor for three days, but we'll still be able to access the downstairs for more stripping of wallpaper adhesive. That needs to happen in one bedroom, the downstairs hall and the laundry room. Then we can paint those rooms.

Have I mentioned lately how much wallpaper SUCKS? The hours we've spent getting the layers of wallpaper down are ridiculous. There were three layers in some rooms, none of them attractive and all of them pasted like life depended upon the paper sticking to the wall.

We have been working our butts off at the house, but today we finally felt we were seeing progress. It's a good thing too - we move in Saturday!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A new beginning

Yesterday, we closed on the sale of our new house.

I'm excited, nervous about the extreme amount of work and hoping I can get over my pneumonia before moving day.

Mostly, though, I'm excited. We need a new start in a lot of ways. More to come!

Friday, October 24, 2008

I know I'm not alone in my love of fall, the glory of its color and the cool, crisp air that begins the day. The crunch of the leaves beneath my feet, the craving for apple cider and the chance to pull my sweaters out make me glad that fall is here. Simple pleasures for a time of year that feels anything but simple to me.

October is difficult. Halloween, especially.

I'm blessed to have had three grandfathers in my life, but the memory of the passing of two of them is triggered every year by Halloween decorations. My parents had spent the day decorating our house for Halloween on the day my first grandfather died. Dad picked me up at my after school job to tell me, and I came home to a plywood coffin on the porch. Two weeks later, my other grandfather died, and when we returned from both funerals the decorations were still there. When my dad pulled the decorations out the next year, I screamed at him.

October is when my Eleanor would have been due, she'd have been a year old this month. I can't imagine life without Joseph, but sometimes I imagine life with Eleanor. Would she have been serious, like Emily, as a baby or giggly like Joseph? My living children are blonde, but somehow I always picture Eleanor and Benjamin with dark hair like mine. I'll never know.

Benjamin was lost in the month of October, on Halloween night. It was the last time I wore a Halloween costume, though I'm sure that won't stay true forever. He'd be just over 4 now. The year before last, I "ghosted" the neighborhood with suprise treats of candy on their doorsteps in his honor. It seemed the kind of thing he'd have laughed over, sneaking around to leave treats in the dark of night.

I didn't do anything like that last year. After we took Emily trick or treating, we got her to bed and then I couldn't stop contracting. I spent the rest of Halloween night on monitors in labor and delivery and getting extra doses of terbutaline, hoping there wouldn't be another October loss.

This year, we're taking both kids to trick or treat after the closing the sale of the home we have lived in for the last 8 years. I'd like to think we're starting a new chapter, with excitement about halloween - less tinged with sadness.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

9 months (and a few days)

My son,
If only you knew how those two words get me at my very core. I'm not sure the day will ever come that I say those words and don't find myself a little suprised at them. They fall in the same category as the words "my daughter" and "my kids." Sometimes I find myself saying those words just to hear myself say them. Have I told you today how lucky I am to have you?

Enough about me, this is about you. (And me) Mostly about you.

Nine months is such a neat age, watching you in the magical in between space between infant and toddler. I want to press pause and keep you in this place a bit longer, where you still go down for your naps fairly easily and cuddle against me when you are tired instead of straining to get down and walk away. Of course, there are times you strain against my arms as if you expect to be put down so you can walk away - but you just aren't there yet, and for now I am glad.

Crawling all over the place, scooting, danger rolls, whatever it takes to get where you're going - you are all over it. Your focus shifts across the room to whomever is most active, whoever will make you giggle, whatever object strikes your fancy. Is it shameless bragging or mother love that makes me boast that for now I am your favorite? A little of both, I'm afraid...though I think I might be slipping in the ranks some days. I can make you giggle and smile, but your sister does it best. We've had strangers in the grocery store ask her to repeat the noise or gesture that cracked you up, because your laugh is like sunshine but loud and infectious at the same time. People beg to hear it over and over.

You've got your two bottom, middle teeth and the top two are rapidly approaching. You smile big, toothy grins that melt us all. You are truly our sunshine boy and it is often a competition to see who is going to get to you first after your nap. Notice I didn't say in the morning? That's because mama loves you best. Don't forget it. Oh, and something about nobody else wants to get up that early. Mostly it's that I love you best, though, I swear.

You're active and engaging, and you've learned that Mama, Dada and hi are words that will get you a smile immediately. Your sister has been trying to get you to say "Emily" for some time now, and she might just save her pennies to buy you a pony if you do it soon. She'd give just about anything to hear it, though she reminds us you can't say many things because you don't have all your teeth yet. I have to admit I'm a bit glad you don't have them all, as you're still going strong on nursing.

At 17 pounds, you're not a heavy guy, but if I ever remember to measure your length I'm sure we'll find you're fairly tall for your age. If you keep trying to pull up on things, it's only a matter of time before you're standing. From then on, we know nothing is safe, so we're hoping that holds off for just a bit longer. Maybe that's selfish, but we have an awful lot of packed boxes around this place right now.

You're healthy and perfect in every way, and we're so lucky to see you growing and thriving. Did I mention you eat like a teenage boy? Last night I literally lost track of everything I'd fed you until I looked at the samples of everything you'd dropped on the floor. We call you Joey Garbanzo because you can't get enough of garbanzo beans. Of all the things you eat, that's your favorite besides milk. Who knew?

I have more to say, but guess who just woke up?

No, really, I wrote every day.

Recently, we had a glitch with our internet connection that I still haven't figured out. I could get to a web page, but if I needed to click a link to read the rest of an article or post or heaven-forbid follow a link it was all over. Every time. Ditto for logging in anywhere, which made working, writing or generally browsing a nightmare. Not good timing when I'd committed to a blog post per day and had a few ideas for articles to submit to a magazine and needed to do some research.

So, I wrote about my sick daughter, my son's 9 month check-up, the stresses of moving and my tendency lately to avoid sleep as if it's something I hate instead of the thing I crave most. I wrote and wrote and then got frustrated because I couldn't post those things here, couldn't prove that I was actually making good on my promise to blog every day for a month.

My internet connection is back, but I'm in a funk over the whole thing. It should be easy to shake it off and realize that it just doesn't matter whether I made the commitment work, but I'm so frustrated at the fact I wrote every day but still didn't meet my goal because they items weren't posted.

Off to sulk.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Farty naughty

I logged onto the blog, Temperature started playing and my daughter started giggling. I thought maybe it was because I was moving my sons arms to make him dance to the music.

Then she said, "he said farty naughty."

It certainly sounds like she's right. What in the world IS he saying right there?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I will remember.

At 7pm local time, I'll place a lit candle on my front porch - adding to the many being lit across my town, state, country... to be part of a wave of light bringing recognition to those who are all too often grieved in silence, when noone is looking.

I'll light the candle for Benjamin, Eleanor, Mary Catherine, Rivi, Aimee and Dana, Ashley, Gabriel, Maya, Kylie and far too many others.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This is really happening.

Today I talked with the lender for our house to make arrangements to get the appraisal done and the mortgagee clause faxed so I can write the insurance on the home. As I hung up the phone it hit me that this is really happening, that buying this house isn't an if - it has become a when.

We're making plans for painting, getting estimates on carpeting and our current house is about 65% packed. We're starting to reach the point where there are fewer items that can be packed without needing them later or running out of room to put the boxes. My husband's band practices in our garage and right now his drums are in their cases in anticipation of his gig tonight. Part of me wishes we could keep them that way until the move, as there would be a ton of room in the garage for clearing things out of the house for painting, etc. The guys will be practicing here until the end of the month, though, so that isn't an option. *sigh* that's good and bad - good because I'm going to miss my husband's practices being at our home. I enjoy the guys, enjoy the music and love having my husband home so quickly after practice. Now he's going to have a drive after each practice night and that stinks. Trade-offs.

This house is starting to look less and less like our home. I'm trying not to think too much about how sad I'll be to leave it, just how glad I'll be to enjoy the new home.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Use your words.

Words have an incredible amount of power. One of the reasons I struggle to write about what's happened with my health this past years is that I have wanted so badly to get the words right, to say things in just the right way. I've been almost desperate in my hope that what I went through will not be repeated in the lives of others. It's something I think about, obsess about and many times I've sat in front of the computer in a cold sweat trying to get out what I want so much to say.

Today I found a comment left by Emma that I'd missed because I'm having some spam issues with my email. She left it regarding the post below, where I talked about some of the warning signs for postpartum infection. (linked below) She's absolutely right that low grade fevers are still important - most of the time when I checked mine it was 99 degrees. It was only when I was deathly ill that it spiked high, and by then I was desperate for help. She's also correct about the bleeding. Even though I bled profusely on the delivery table, my postpartum bleeding stopped before I left the hospital. That should have been a huge warning sign to my care providers.

She wrote:

I want to tell you thank you for putting your story out there. I'd read your blog when I was pregnant, and when I started feeling Not Right after the birth, I remembered it. I got help pretty quickly, and I think I may be on the road to being okay -- I've got a ways to go yet, but at least I'm starting to improve, and we've got a Plan B in place. A couple things I want to add to your discussion of symptoms, if that's okay:

Bleeding too little can be a sign of trouble too, as surely as bleeding too much. I stopped bleeding two days after the birth, and didn't think anything of it. Turns out I was still bleeding, but it was all building up in my uterus instead of coming out -- not good.Even a low-grade fever can be a trouble sign when coupled with other symptoms. I thought I couldn't have an infection, because surely I'd have a higher fever instead of piddling around in the 99s. Again, wrong.Postpartum infections are serious and scary. Your story helped me get out of this one with my uterus and my sanity intact, and I thank you. I hope that's some comfort to you, that you've helped at least one woman.

When I read her comment, a dam broke within me. On one of my visits to the doctor, before my D & C, a doctor commented that she'd seen another woman the day before who was also fighting a persistent uterine infection. That woman haunts me in my sleep, as I can't shake the questions of whether she's ok, whether she finally got rid of the infection and if she still has her uterus. I have laid awake at night, wondering how many new moms are facing a danger they don't even realize, chalking their soreness and fatigue up to delivery and having a newborn.

My illness was costly, and has affected every aspect of my life in some way. My health, job, home, finances, marriage, relationship with my children, etc. have all been affected in some way and there has been a reminder of at least a portion of that every day. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel from a physical standpoint, though my immune system is shot from months of fighting illness, months of antibiotics and two surgeries. I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, though I know the hardest work is mental and emotional.

Emma, I am so relieved to know you are doing better and glad to know that you'll follow up until you're sure the infection is completely gone. I can't thank you enough for taking the time to let me know my story helped, that what I went through wasn't for nothing. It hasn't been easy to write about all of it, but I kept thinking that if I could help just one woman, if I could keep just one family from going through what we did, it was worth every second I spent sweating over what to say.

Most of us don't really get to find out if something we did made a difference. Thank you for telling me that I have - it's just the kind of salve this wounded spirit of mine needed today.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Blogger ate my post and I'm too tired to rewrite it. LOL

I suppose that's ok, it was a whine about being tired anyway.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Paint the light fixture?

There's a lot to do in the new house. We've picked the flooring in the dining room, living room and hall. It's a great walnut and will have a light/caramel stain, similar to this (minus the pears - we don't usually keep fruit on the floor).

However, the ability to do a great floor like this means that some things are going to have to wait a bit. That includes new light fixtures. Below is the dining room. There's a lot in there now because the seller hasn't removed everything yet. None of the furniture shown in this picture will remain in the room.

This room forms an L with the living room, which has two fixtures on the wall that coordinate with this one. Whether those will be removed altogether, replaced or painted to match this one has not been decided.
As a temporary change, I'm considering painting the brassy looking portion of this fixture with a textured black paint, similar in look to an iron. However, there are so many different kinds of textured paint that I've not yet decided if that one is the way to go. The walls in this space will be some sort of warm neutral, and the floor with be a lighter stained walnut with honey tones. Other options would be leaving it as is, painting it white (which doesn't really sing to me) or going with a nickel or pewter type paint.

If this was your house, what would you do? Assuming replacing the fixture is not an option for now.
Our table and chairs are oak, with a darker stain than the flooring. The molding will remain white, the walls likely painted in some warm/neutral color. That will be one of our next decisions.

Friday, October 10, 2008

This New (Old) House.

We haven't closed on our new house yet, though that's just over a month away. (Prayers and good thoughts all continues to move forward)

Today I talked with the seller, who I love dearly and suspect I'll keep in touch with long after we've signed on the dotted line. I made arrangements to stop by tomorrow with a flooring sample to test against the colors of the flagstone fireplace and we'll be talking about which carpet stays for now and which is going to go (she's going to steam clean the carpet that's staying).

We haven't done any work on the house yet - though they've already started the process of replacing the roof. I'm glad I have my before pictures already, or I'd have missed out on a piece of the transformation.

They're planning to have everything out of there soon, which means it won't be long before we start doing things like painting and ripping up carpet. Construction dust coming to this space very soon, complete with pictures.

In the meantime, I'm trying to figure out how I can manage to get several items from IKEA to my doorstep without paying hundreds of dollars in common carrier shipping fees. We have one coming in about 18 months, but I want playroom storage a bit sooner than that! LOL

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Moving men.

I struggle with organization and have to work hard to be organized. My husband, on the other hand, is one of the more organized people I know. His desk at work is always neat and orderly, his clothes in his closet are hung in sections (from left to right - tshirts, polos, work shirts, work pants) so he can always find what he wants when he wants it.

He sure shoves that notion out the window when it comes to packing. The man keeps trying to make up boxes and mark them miscellaneous and I swear he's about to find himself in one of those boxes he's thrown together. He'll find himself keeping company with two extension cords, a statue of a ceramic wolf, three books, a set of cookie cutters and the remove for the VCR just because he fit in the box with them.

The box will be labeled "Misc. stuff" and will probably sit in the garage because nobody knows where to put it until I've searched enough boxes that I find him again.

Men. Hmmph.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ride the white lightning.

I thought my days of riding the dildocam were over. In fact, that was one of the things I told myself when I was pregnant with Joseph - that there were things I was never going to do again, and I was okay with this type of ultrasound being one of them.

I don't know how many I've had since the one that diagnosed my PCOS, but it's too many. Yes, they are old hat to an extent and definitely not the worst thing I've been through. Not even the worst thing I've been through in the last year, or the last 6 months for that matter. I've never had one that I wasn't nervous about. Hoping for a cyst to go down, hoping for proof of ovulation, hoping to see a heartbeat - so many times I've gone in with fingers crossed.

While I'm feeling much better physically (with the exception of this lovely virus Joseph and I have) I have some concerns. While the rest of me is getting smaller, my lower abdomen is getting bigger. I have a fullness and discomfort there that doesn't make sense, and some issues I had before that had seemed to resolve after my last surgery are making a reappearance. Generally, my best description is that something feels wrong. Not very specific, I know, but a feeling I've learned to trust.

Thanks to my mom's lovely history of ovarian cancer at 26, my surgeon had already made a plan with me that I'd be needing annual ovarian ultrasounds and CA125 tests but those weren't scheduled to start until a year from now. He'd gotten a good look at my ovaries during my hysterectomy, but based upon how I'm feeling I'm opting not to wait until next year. It's probably just a simple cyst. I've had them before, they suck, but tend to resolve fairly quickly for me.

Here's hoping I get enough of an answer today that it's not one of those "hmmm, we're not sure" appointments, but not anything bad.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

My friend Cynthia would like you all to know that she gets the credit for seeing the writing on the wall before I did. WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY before I did, she wants me to add.

For months before anything actually happened between Tim and me, Cynthia had been accusing me of liking him. Accusing, I say, because he was not my type. Something I repeated over and over. He was (and is) older than me, by 8 years. He had long hair and played drums in a band. The guys I dated weren't anything like that description. Think fraternities. Think clean cut, not quite preppy type guys. They listened to music at parties and concerts, they didn't play it. Because we all know what musicians are like. ;)

I'd come home to the apartment I shared with Cynthia and her soon to be husband, tell her about my day and she'd squeal "you like him!" which somehow evolved into "you LIKE him" and then the inevitable "Oh my God, you're in LOVE WITH HIM!" Emphatically denied each time and each time followed with "he's not even my type."

One day she put her hands on her hips and said, "do we need to review where 'your type' has gotten you so far?" My only answer was of the "besides, he's not into me" variety.

Turns out I was wrong. All the way around, completely wrong.

I liked him, I loved him and he'd already fallen for me. Our jokes in the office had led us down a path we hadn't even seen and then suddenly there it was.

On Oct 6, 1997 I was getting ready for an out of state trip to my cousin's wedding, so I stayed late at work. He stayed too, and before he left he hugged me. The next day, more work to do before leaving, I stayed again. He stayed too.

I was standing at the filing cabinets, putting away a monster stack of files. He had been sitting at his desk, but then got up and walked over to me. As he leaned in, I started to panic a bit but the kiss erased all rational thought from my brain. My knees, previously unshaken when it came to kisses (and there had been some good ones prior to him) turned to jello.

When the kiss was over, I walked over to my desk, sat down and tried to collect myself. When I could walk again, I walked over to him (not knowing he was freaking out) and kissed him within an inch of his life.

There was no first date, no "will you go to dinner with me" but a conversation about how we'd see each other outside of work, etc. We skipped right into the relationship, except that the next day I had to leave for another state and would be gone a WEEK. The agony!

I came back from that trip, and we've been together ever since.

On this day...

Eleven years ago, I started dating my husband. We'd been working together for several months, friends for most of that, flirting for some of that.

On this day, eleven years ago, we were alone in the office and he kissed me in front of the filing cabinets. (We had filing cabinets! LOL)

I still get weak in the knees when he kisses me.

Happy Anniversary, sweetie.

Monday, October 6, 2008

I was bound to drop something.

In the dream, I was riding a bicycle. An older 10 speed type, with the curved handle bars, and it was too tall for me. I wobbled as I tried to ride it, a package tucked under each arm and something in my right hand. It didn't help that the gears kept missing as I tried to get into one th at would allow me to make forward progress. I knew, the way you know in dreams, I was headed toward the same place as my husband (work) but we were taking different routes. Then, as I tried to make a turn, putting my right foot down slightly to steady myself, one of the packages slipped out from under my arm.....

And I dropped my sick, sleeping son on the floor.

For the last week, his sleep has been awful and so mine has too. Saturday night I realized my throat was starting to hurt and by Sunday it was awful. I realized chances were good that my son might have been feeling sick all this time too, and when I looked in his mouth it made total sense. We're going to the doctor as soon as we can get an appt today, but in the meantime Sunday was rough.

We were in the rocking chair in his room, having both finally fallen into a deep sleep for the first time in what felt like forever, despite it being almost midnight. It was only about 30 minutes ago that he fell out of my arms.

I feel awful. He cried, but only briefly, then settled back down with no signs of major injury though of course I'll be checking on him and for signs of concussion, etc throughout the morning now. Even if we had turned a corner on sleep, that's over now, but that's my fault. Typically, I lay him down awake, and I should have tried harder not to fall asleep in the chair. Typically, I use the boppy so there would have been something between him and a fall. Tonight I was too tired to grab it. :(

I can't help thinking about the dream. It makes so much sense, it's practically transparent. Between that, how awful I feel physically, how much worse I feel about dropping him, I just can't stop crying.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


My husband is trying to be helpful, but his version of being helpful is asking me over and over and over, "can we pack this now? Can I help you pack that? What about this?" when I've said I need a BREAK.

I finally had to spell it out for him, "No. Thank you. I don't want to sit on the couch while you bring me things to pack. I need to STOP for at least an hour. I feel like crap, I think I have strep and I have not had more than a few hours of sleep each of the last seven nights."

I love that he wants to help, but right now I just want him to take over with the kids and leave me be for a bit. Is that SO hard?

Saturday, October 4, 2008


I don't know what it is about fall that appeals to me on such a deep level. Yes, I love the colors of changing leaves and the use of apples and cinnamon in abundance. But there's more to it than that.

I love adding an extra blanket to the bed, bundling my children in an extra layer of soft clothing and having an extra excuse to scoot closer to my husband. I'm glad to trade lemonade for hot tea and ice cream for apple pie. Maybe it's the nesting type instinct it brings out it me.

No matter what it is, today looks and smells like fall. The temperature is cooler, there's a bit of rain falling and my yard is covered with the first leaves to drop from the trees.

This will be my last fall in this house. The one that greeted us after our wedding, unchanged but feeling different. It was this house that saw us bring our babies home.

I think today I'm going to stop packing long enough to get cozy for a while.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ninja Funny

"They" are full of advice, and at some point my husband started referring to that advice in terms of "you know what they say downtown.." Why he thinks they reside downtown I can't say, but around here it's as good as the truth. Even our daughter has started saying it.

One of the things they say downtown is that you should marry someone who makes you laugh. It's true that looks fade, health can deteriorate, hair falls out and wrinkles appear but a sense of humor keeps you going.

It's been a stressful time around here for what feels like forever. I seize up every time I try to make the list my counselor asked for months ago, the one where I list out everything that's happened in the last year. Partly because the list keeps getting longer, mostly because I just don't want to think about it. Laughter, however, is what is keeping us going. There are times when we'll be in the middle of a conversation and my husband will say something so funny that we laugh until we're crying, until our stomachs hurt and we just can't stop.

It's in those moments that I see the light at the end of the tunnel and I feel in my heart we're going to come through this ok. Despite the days we don't communicate well, days when the stress of the past and the present feel weighty and oppressive, days when the other side feels a million miles away. We make each other laugh and in those moments, all is right.

Sometimes those moments sneak up on us. It's happened that we're in the middle of a heated argument,even, and one of us says something funny and the argument fades away. Ninja funny - it sneaks up on you. For that, I am grateful.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

What I'm doing to make it better

I'm trying to continue to focus on work, not worry and translate that to as many aspects of life as possible. As a mom, I look at the world around me and wonder what it will be like for my kids as they get older. I have a lot of hope for them, their peers and the world in general. I know it's hard to escape feelings of doom and gloom when it seems every media outlet is focused on what is going wrong.

So, for today, here's what I'm doing to make it better in terms of the environment.

I've stopped using a lot of harsh chemical cleaners, and found that the simpler ingredients work just as well, if not better. For example, I get my laundry detergent recipe here (I use the powdered one) http://www.thefrugalshopper.com/articles/detergent.shtml, made at home with ingredients I can find easily at my grocery store. I've started making my own detergent for the dishwasher as well - 1 TBSP washing soda (NOT BAKING SODA) to 1 TBSP Borax. It works better than any I've ever bought. I fill my rinse aid dispenser with vinegar. My laundry is cleaner and softer, my dishes cleaner and free of spots.

I try to combine my trips and map them out in such a way that I can combine errands whenever possible. I use my cruise control on long stretches of my drive and pay attention to areas in town where I don't actually need my foot on the gas pedal to maintain momentum. I was surprised to find how many areas where I have been keeping my foot on the gas when I didn't need to. I've improved my gas mileage (and credit card charges for gas) substantially - and the less gas I use, the better for my wallet and the environment.

We already recycle as much as possible through our city's recycling program, and whenever possible I try to avoid excess packaging. Another bonus of making my own detergents - less waste of packaging.

As the kids outgrow clothing, I'm finding people who will need them and are willing to pay a bit for them (but less than a second hand store would charge) so I know they'll have more life after they leave our home. In our son's case, we've received a lot of hand me downs from a friend, so we're doubly lucky.

We're trying to buy toys that are less likely to break quickly, creating more junk. We're also not buying many toys to begin with. As my daughter has outgrown certain toys and baby items, we've passed them on to my nephew and they are now making their way back to my son. Being more environmentally aware (I'm the last to claim I'm perfect at this) is definitely having an economic impact as well. We've cut back on our spending by a lot.

This time next year, I'd like to be able to say that I spent the summer growing a good portion of our own vegetables and was able to can and freeze many that we'd need for the winter. I also have set a goal of a compost bin to help with that. I hate to see food go in the trash.

It's all little stuff, but hopefully it just keeps adding up.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Mama Trauma Drama - Part 4


I liked my OB, really really liked him as a person, but one of my irritations with him had been that throughout all of the excitement of my pregnancy he seemed so calm, so unfazed by what was happening. He cared, but his lack of intensity about it sort of pissed me off.In that moment, I realized that seeing him worry meant something was very wrong. I saw a bead of sweat roll down his cheek and realized I was shaking and cold.

He finally answered tha the others were working on him, and I watched my husband stand there, one hand on my son, eyes going back and forth between the two of us. A nurse answered my original question by saying "They're just trying to pink him up a bit."

I assumed the placenta was already out, so I was surprised when I heard him murmur to another nurse that it wouldn't deliver. I barely registered the two shots of pitocin they gave me to try to get it out, and I'm not sure what I thought was happening when the blood was rushing out, but I suppose I just assumed it was fluid from the pregnancy. I remember hearing what I thought was water hit the floor and wondering how their could have been any water left in the bag.

The next thing I knew, the doctor was instructing the nurse on how to press on my abdomen, and I realized his fist was inside and he was pressing from inside and out. It is a blessing in some ways that I was worried about my son, because I didn't scream until later when the numbing medicine was injected to take care of my torn urethra. That was a moment when I regretted not having any pain medication, and it would be the last time for a while that I didn't.

There are things I didn't find out until later, and there is a blessing to not knowing even if the later realization hits hard enough as is. The short version is, my son tore me up and down on his way out, but the speed of his delivery saved his life. The hemorrage after, my placenta that didn't want to deliver and my state of shock endangered my life. I didn't know until much later that the transfusion team had been called and was almost to the door when they finally got my bleeding to stop. I wouldn't know until later that Joseph's initial breathing issues were most likely because of the brewing infection he'd been living with, and that my failure to contract to deliver the placenta and the bleeding were all classic signs of infection.

I didn't know that 10 days later I'd make a call to my OB's office to tell them I was running fevers and not get a call back, or that 12 days later we'd be rushing my son to the ER, blue and limp, because he was skipping breaths. Didn't know that the infection in my cervix and uterus was also in his lungs, stealing his oxygen and was about to kill him until it almost did.

I didn't know how many times I would wonder just how much a pair of sterile gloves costs, and wonder why they couldn't have just used those when doing all those preterm labor checks.

What you don't know really can kill you.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Your best interests.

Some people see a pregnant woman on the street and resist the urge (or not) to rub her belly. I want to run over and hand her a thermometer.

I want to tell her that I know the nurses coming in to take her temperature after the birth of the baby may seem an annoyance when they wake you up, may not tell you why they are doing this, but it is important. It is of life and death importance, as a matter of fact. I want to tell her that she should continue taking her temperature every afternoon until at least her 6 week checkup, even though the last thing she has time for is "one more thing."

Many women don't realize, and I definitely didn't, that postpartum infection is still a common cause of death for women. Some assume the temporary rise in temp due to engorgement is the issue, but any fever is important even if there are no other obvious symptoms. Infection can become seated in the breast, uterus, cervix, vagina, vulva, and urinary tract. C-sections can make you more likely to develop infection, but a vaginal birth does not put you in the clear.

Be aware of the following symptoms, but don't discount your fever if they are not present:


-bad smelling discharge (can be a sign of endometritis, the most common postpartum infection)

-Changes or difficulty urinating

-lower abdominal pain

-pain that increases during your recovery time

-Tenderness, discharge, redness or swelling at your c-section incision, episiotomy or laceration

-signs of mastitis such as chills,muscle aches, fatigue, soreness or hard area of the breast

Sweats and hot flashes are common after giving birth, but can also be signs of fighting infection. If you find yourself running hot and cold, take your temperature at BOTH times. I missed most of my temperature spikes while temping when I felt hot. When I tested during a cold chill I realized I was running a fever of almost 104.

Some symptoms can seem less obvious:


-sore throat

-fast pulse (over 100 beats per minute)

-vomiting and diarrhea

-headache and generally feeling unwell

Whether it is called postpartum infection, childbed fever, endometritis or purperal fever doesn't matter. What matters is that it is avoidable, treatable and women don't have to die from it every year.

But they do. I almost did.

I want to write about exactly what happened, the chain of events that took me from happy new mama to begging for someone to help me. I will, that's one of my goals this month. The thing is, it's hard. Even now, writing this, my chest starts heaving with the importance of what I'm saying. I want so desperately for others to avoid what I went through, that I fear failing to get this message across clearly enough.

I want women to read this for their own information, and pass it along to their friends, sisters, cousins, coworkers. Caught early, postpartum infections can be an annoyance, treated with antibiotics that can take care of them completely and permanently.

I was passed along, ignored, doubted, given the wrong antibiotics and told not to say my cervix hurts but to wait until they did the exam and could find out where the problem was.

It did hurt. It's where the infection started while I was pregnant and where it was allowed to grow more severe daily.I'm still trying to wrap my mind and my words around the fact that my son and I are both very lucky to have survived this. Still trying to cope with the fact that medical incompetence, negligence and a faulty system cost me thousands of dollars, major trauma and my uterus.

It shouldn't matter that I didn't plan on more children. I should have had my womb available to me, regardless. That's another story, for another day.

In the meantime, I just want to say that if you or someone you know has unexplained contractions they need to ask their doctor about the possibility of infection. If, after the baby is born, they start showing signs of fever or illness they need to call the dr right away and insist on being seen. Don't give up, keep pushing.

And use those thermometers.

Who says a Gemini can't commit?

Monday, September 29, 2008


In quiet moments without witness,

I bring out the memories of you from their hiding places.

Unwrap them slowly, stingily, looking over my shoulder.

No pictures or proof, nothing to hold

Nothing to prove you were mine, carried only for a moment.

Tests and lab slips in a drawer I can't bring myself to empty.

Secret treasures, my hopes unfulfilled

I know your stories, the dates, how old you would be when, if, how...

I've kept you to myself, scared of those who would not understand.

This lump in my throat is choking me.

I need to say you were here, you mattered, I miss you so much

I have two lovely children but there would have, could have, been four.

There was the knowing and the knowing

Had I paid less attention I might have missed you completely

Might have missed the miracles I held for far too short a time.

You deserve recognition, and names

Not just whispered when I am alone, but by dad, and others.

They should be written, announced, set in stone and immortalized.

To my littles, babies I never held, never saw, and until now rarely acknowledged; We are going to bring you to the light, share you with others.

A bench is being made with a plaque that will declare your names for others to see, recognize, and know you were here and you did change us, you did and do make a difference.

You matter.

Announcing, for the first time, Benjamin Matthew and Eleanor Claire.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Work, not worry.

One of my biggest character flaws is the tendency to worry about a problem, letting it get to the point of being overwhelming, when simple steps in the right direction would typically get me to the result I want. I focus so much on the big picture, that I avoid working on the little details that would chip away at the iceberg.

I do it with my weight. Instead of thinking of it terms of one brisk walk at a time, one less carb serving, one more flight of stairs I think about the number of pounds and sizes I want to lose. When I focus on how bad I feel for not being at a weight I'd consider healthy, I just end up staying overweight.

I've done it with work, too. Letting what I have to do feel overwhelming to me, when just one hour a day of working toward the things I need to accomplish would have me 7 hours closer to done at the end of the week instead of looking at a Saturday night and feeling I need to pull an all-nighter to make progress. By then, the mere thought has me exhausted - I've already spent at least that much time and mental energy WORRYING about the problem instead of working on it. I beat myself up about it, vow to do better, but still find myself overwhelmed.

I used to be the worst "great-student" you can imagine. I was a great student in that I could learn the material quickly, easily and make awesome grades. Unfortunately, I did it with some of the worst study habits imaginable. I'd start a semester with awesome notes, color coded sometimes to help my memory, rewritten neatly for ease of studying. Often the mere act of rewriting the information would cement it in my brain. Then, inevitably, at some point I would get behind. Illness, absence or something similar would momentarily interrupt that flow. I'd have two days worth of notes to rewrite. Or three. Suddenly it was a week. Two weeks. Then the test was there and I'd not have studied or rewritten, and oh crap - there's a paper due too. Typically I pulled it out of the spin, but not without a lot of stress, a lot of missed sleep and the self-admonition that I would never do this again.

I don't understand what it is about me that gets overwhelmed so easily once I reach that point. It's something I'm actually pretty embarassed about, though for the first time I'm working really hard to get it so that everything is above water (whereas there is usually SOMETHING for me that falls in the drowning category). It's a lot easier to row when the boat isn't full of water. If I can maintain, it will work better and I have spent enough time recently learning the "ask for help" lesson that I think it has finally saturated me to my very core.

I've made a new goal for myself. Instead of sitting and worrying about all the things I need to do, I'm going to focus on channeling that worry into actually WORKING on the thing I'm stressing about. It seems simple, embarassingly obvious, but I guess improving this at 30 is a hell of a lot better than waiting until 40.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My husband can be kind, loving, generous, funny, understanding and so much more. Most of the time he is. There are times, unfortunately, that he gets angry and when he gets angry he has a tendency to say things that hit the mark every time when intended to hurt. It's not that I don't have this ability to say things that can be hurtful, but because of his upbringing he's especially talented at it. Add in a reluctance to actually say the words "I'm sorry" when apologizing for such statements, and it can be hard for us to make up after arguments.

Generally we can go a long time in between them, but lately the stress of trying to figure out if we can get this new house and whether that means selling or renting out our current home has really gotten to both of us. On one hand, I've lost over 20 pounds in a really short time. On the other, I'm a stressed out mess and I hate that. A lot of our recent issues have been tied to the house/move/financing thing and mistakes that were made in the past being drug up again as a result. It's a hard time in our household, made harder by lack of sleep, the events of the last year and his tendency to fire first and not want to say "I didn't mean that."

I'm trying hard to focus on what is going right, because there is a lot of it. At the end of the day, I'm still thankful that we're all here, safe and sound, and where we are (this house, the other, whatever) doesn't really matter.

Last night my husband was calmer, more relaxed, and apologetic (even if all the words weren't there) for statements of the previous days. I'm hoping that lasts.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I have this friend....

Before I get too far away from when it happened, I'm dying to post about our vacation in August and what it meant. To me, my husband, our family as a whole. The thing is, words and time keep getting in the way and then another day/week passes and here I am....still no post about it and worried that words won't do it justice.

Typically when you come back from a vacation, people want to know where you went, what you did, what happened that you couldn't do at home, what happened that was out of the ordinary. The thing is, this trip was not about what we did (though we had a fantastic time in Seattle, at Ikea, the beach, etc.) it was about who we were with. The things we did were so very normal and that's what made the trip extraordinary. Our first day there, we talked with my friend and her husband as our children played together and even though we'd not seen each other in person until that very morning, it felt like the most normal thing on the planet. It felt like seeing my long lost sister, minus the awkwardness.

After a year of medical scares, medications and complications I found myself sitting next to my friend and suddenly very aware that my face hurt. From talking, from laughing, from smiling more in a few days time than I had in the previous year. I found myself watching my husband bond with hers over movies, meat and video games and feeling completely guiltless about our gabfests.

I was able to hug in person the woman who has held me up when I was ready to let go, the one who was able to answer the phone with a smile and reassuring words no matter how many times I called, no matter how late it was, no matter how hard I cried as I said "I'm on the way to the hospital again," or "I have a fever, again." The one who said more times than we can count, "you're not crazy," and she believed it.

We teared up at the realization that two women with PCOS and years of fertility treatments were watching their four children play. We cheered when we pulled off a trip to the grocery store without any of them. We finished each other's sentences and never ran out of anything to say. We ate the best hamburgers, salmon and steaks in the world and I am forever ruined on them, so I HOPE they will be coming to visit me soon so we can at least revisit the steaks and hamburgers.

There is still healing to be done, physically and emotionally, after this last year. There's no doubting that, but during the trip it felt like we turned the page, as a couple, as a family, and with the help of some freaking incredible friends.

Thank you, C, D, D and G. For welcoming us to your home, into your hearts, cooking us amazing food and just being the incredible people that you are. We missed you the moment we got on the plane, and that's not about to change any time soon.

We need to get this house so you can visit us as soon as possible.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Packing it away

Do I want to bring this with me?

I have asked myself that question many times over the last few days, in the process of packing the contents of our home. Viewing each item with a critical eye, I look at books, trinkets, dishes, toys and more books. It seems I deem my cookbook collection still worthy, despite the fact it fills more than three paper boxes will hold.

I look at pictures, paperwork and presents and try to decide whether it is important, meaningful, something I actually use or love.

Is this still serving a purpose?

Maybe there are people who can pack their belongings quickly, methodically, without regard for where they came from or where they are going. I can do that with some things, but with many things my packing is slowed by the memories that get in the way. Who I was when this item showed up, who I am now and whether those two images match.

What if I let this one go?

I'm trying not to pack things that I'll regret moving, unpacking and trying to find a place for. We're moving to a bigger house, a better home, a change that feels strangely like a new start, a second chance, a step toward better in so many ways. There's so much to be excited about, and my tears over leaving behind this home are tempered by the thought of turning the new house into home.

I fill the boxes and try to designate where they will go....playroom, dining room, the closet under the stairs. I alternate between flashbacks of this house...bringing my daughter home, her first birthday party, my son's first days home, the breakfast we hosted here the day after our wedding.....with imaginings of our life in the new house. I picture birthday parties where we aren't crammed together like sardines, imagine the kids chasing each other in the back yard, my husband and I sitting on the balcony outside our bedroom on a warm summer night.

I sort through things and wonder why I still have material for so many projects, why I have two copies of certain books and more canning jars than my own grandmother did.

I wish I had taken more pictures.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Underweight" child.

When my daughter was 6 months old, things started going haywire with her growth chart. By haywire, I mean she wasn't gaining weight the way they like to see it happen with kids her age.
By not gaining weight the way they like, I mean her growth curve plateaued. Flatlined. Freaking STOPPED. It's almost impossible not to panic in that situation.

The worry was compounded by the night, referenced in the previous post, when she had what we later found out was an absance seizure. There were no more until 7 months, when she had several more of them. She was hospitalized, an EKG and EEG were run. There were blood tests and the fear in our house was a fog as thick as pea soup. We were absolutely terrified.

The tests were all normal, and there's not been another seizure since shortly after that hospital visit at 7 months. Ultimately, after a lot of research and connecting of the dots, when we saw a recurrence of the rashes that appeared when she had seizures, we found out that she is extremely intolerant of foods that are high in salicylates. What started out as a major orange juice craving for me turned out to be dangerous for her - but it saved us the scare of her first introduction to orange juice being straight out of the cup at around a year, when it might have been incredibly dangerous for her.

Back to the weight thing.

We could not understand why she wasn't gaining weight, blood tests had ruled out any genetic or metabolic reason, and we were all just perplexed. On paper, she fit the definition of failure to thrive. However, we knew that couldn't be right. She was ahead on every possible milestone and doing extremely well. In fact, if we had never laid eyes on a growth chart we'd know she was petite but never would have thought something was wrong with her. Even with the people who asked "don't you feed her?" At one point we were having weekly weight checks. I'd get excited, knowing she'd eaten really well in the previous week, only to be devastated by a growth of an ounce or two...sometimes none. I'd just know she'd grown, her clothes fit differently.

Then we realized during one two month period, she'd gained only a few ounces but she'd grown two inches in height. Further talk with the pediatrician pointed to the knowledge that calories go first to their growing brains, then their heights, THEN weight. She had two out of three, and we decided unless there were other reasons to worry, we were going to STOP freaking out about this.

It was hard to let go of the worry about why she wasn't gaining, especially having heard that kids grow really fast the first year and slow down the second. My daughter was the complete opposite, and when she hit 18 months she really started gaining faster. She's still petite, but you'd never look at her and think she was underweight. She's tall and thin and has a quick metabolism. She eats until she is full and stops, something many of us just don't know how to do.

Last night I talked with a friend who was worried. Her son, 20 months old, hasn't gained much weight in recent months and her pedi has her worried. I've seen him very recently and petite isn't a word ANYONE would use, but because he's in less than the 10th percentile for weight (he's TALL!!!!) they are concerned. She was asking me what we did with Em and food.

I told her the things my friends told me when I was worried about my own baby. To keep offering healthy foods, including good fats, but don't force food. To avoid making eating a power struggle and look at the baby, not the growth chart. To remember that if someone is in the 90th percentile, SOMEONE has to be in the 7th and that doesn't mean there's something wrong with them. That it's okay to rule out any problems, but assuming all comes back well it's ok to just acknowledge this may be his body type and that's ok. I reminded her of her brother - tall and lanky his entire life. I told her if the tests come back ok, and I'm confident they will, then to go with her instincts. If she wouldn't have worried BEFORE looking at the growth chart, it's ok not to worry after.

I realize the system of weight checks and growth charts is intended to track a child's progress, to catch problems before they get out of hand, but this system is not perfect. Just as there are children who achieve developmental milestones on their own time, they aren't all going to grow at the same rate or on a nice little curve.

And for the record - if you look at Em's growth chart now, and cover the plateau with your fingers, she's right back on her original curve. My son is now at the age where she started plateauing. I've introduced foods in the same order (Though I'm not drinking OJ while nursing!), and he has gained in a completely different manner. He eats more, gains more and weighs what she did at over a year. More than ever I realize she grew and is growing the way she is meant to, and so is he.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reach out, reach out and...oh. wait.

When Emily was a newborn, I was amazed by so many aspects of motherhood. The reality can be so different from the imagination at times, but I'd never even really thought about how her cries would affect me. Yes, I thought I would pick her up and comfort her. I knew I would try to calm her with loving noises or songs or rocking motions.

I didn't realize the effect of a baby's cry on her mother would be so physical, so instinctive that I would react before I'd consciously acknowledged the cry. I lost count of how many times my body tensed, my arms moved and my breasts leaked. It amazed me there were nights she would cry and I would find myself by her side before I was even fully awake.

The night she had her first seizure, she was 6 months old. I was up late, trying to get some work done, and I heard a cry from her room that was different than anything I'd ever heard from her. It wasn't a diaper, hunger or discomfort. Something was WRONG.

I had her door open, light on and had her in my arms before the cry itself was even finished. It was an instinctive, gut reaction and while I don't know exactly what I'd have done if the boogey man had been in her room, I can tell you he'd have been very, very sorry he was.

As someone I once knew used to say - I told you that so I could tell you this:

I have tried to understand my mother, and it is just never going to happen.

So many times in so many ways she has let me down and I've been the walking definition of insanity, expecting one day things would be different. I've felt deep down that somewhere in there she has the capacity of being empathetic or at least understanding, but I'm finally acknowledging I was wrong.

I've tried picturing her as a young girl, as a teen, as a young woman with a family. When I think of her in this way I fully recognize that she never set out to be the way she is, didn't intentionally decide she was going to cause the hurt she has. It makes it a bit easier to think of her that way, but it doesn't erase the way she was and is. Doesn't make it easier to swallow when she lets me down, yet again.

My mom works in a profession where she is bolstered by the notion of being needed, and more times than I can count she has put the people she works with ahead of her family. Treating them better, being there for them when she is not for us, constantly reminding us that they need her, that they are like her children. Except she treats them better than she has treated/treats us, so the last one is hard to swallow.

I understand having needs outside your family, I get it. But when one of the people she works with had a medical issue recently, she called me in a panic and worried. She kept saying that losing him would be like losing one of us. Only, she's treated the medical issues I've dealt with in the last year as an inconvenience. Mostly I hear from her if she has a problem and wants me to help her with it. Financial or otherwise.

When she called about this medical issue, I was torn. I knew the person she was worried about and I prayed for his well-being (he's fine now) but I also knew that when I was having surgery, she really couldn't be bothered. She moved heaven and earth to take care of this person and even my dad took several days off. There was nothing like that with any of my medical issues. When I was put on modified bedrest and told not to travel more than 30 minutes from the hospital with the level III NICU, she didn't even come to see us for Christmas. They didn't see my son until he was a month old. They live 45 minutes away. She did offer to come when he was hospitalized for pneumonia, but didn't. She didn't offer when we went back to the hospital because he almost bled to death after his circ. She didn't come for my daughter's 3rd birthday. She did come for my son's baptism, last month (5 months after the last time they'd been here) but left early, in a huff, because I didn't stop cooking immediately when she wanted to show me something, even though I was just trying to get food on the table for everyone. But I digress!

Shortly after that phone conversation, my sister came to stay with us so my husband and I could go to an event. My mom called when we were getting ready to leave and said, "I've been thinking about our conversation the other day..." For a brief, stupid moment I thought maybe she was going to say something about likening her clients to us kids, about how that might have come out wrong or maybe say something about how she'd been worried about me too at some point in all this.

There was nothing like that, however. She has some health issues of her own, and she was calling about the pain medication I was given by mistake that I can't take. It was yet another example of me thinking that maybe, just maybe she might come through and kicking myself in the butt for having that hope.

She called last night, a few weeks now after the incident above. Not to talk to me. Not to find out how I am or even tell me how she is. To ask me to ask some billing questions of a company she deals with, when she had all the information to do so in her hand. I mistakenly decided to tell her I'm overwhelmed, I'm frustrated, I'm trying to recover from all the medical crap and not getting enough rest or relief. She really didn't sound interested, and the conversation ended pretty quickly.

I found myself wondering, how could she not recognize that cry? How is it that I can be so in tune with my children and want to do anything I can to keep them safe and comforted, and have a mom who alternates between clueless and uncaring? How is it that she's motherly when she has an audience, but not when I need her? What happened? Why? How is it that she gets so caught up in how much these other people need her that she doesn't hear her own children when they do?

Why can't she be there for me, if only to say something soothing?

More importantly, how do I stop reaching out for the mom that just isn't going to be there?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Let's pretend aka WWYD?

Say you were a month out from major surgery, getting there but still sore and easily fatigued. And you had two broken bones in your foot.

Add in a 7 month old and a 3 1/2 year old.

Now, say your husband in an attempt to do something nice and fun for the family bought tickets to a Major League Baseball game.

The game is a one hour drive from your house, takes place two hours before your 3 year old's bedtime, and will be at least an hour and a half drive from your home.

And while he did get 4 seats, they are tiny and in the full sun.

Would you suck it up and go, hoping for the best but knowing at best you'll have a good time and be thoroughly exhausted at the end ? Or would you try to encourage him to go and take the three year old, and maybe the thirteen year old nephew and BIL?

Just wondering.

Friday, August 15, 2008


My nephew is going to be ok. By late last evening they'd been able to turn his oxygen down half way, he was breathing a bit better and they were hoping to have him completely off oxygen by late this afternoon. My SIL is hoping he'll be able to go home then,and I am too, though I know there's a possibility they'll want him for one more night. She did say he's now (lunchtime today) down to a third of the oxygen they were giving him, and he'll need to be off of it for 4 hours AND keep his saturation up before they let him go home.

We're grateful for all prayers and good thoughts, and hope he'll be home soon. They've decided it's something viral, that he must be more succeptible to this stuff, and they'll prescribe some medications and a nebulizer for home use for a while until he hopefully outgrows this tendency.

Several times I've started to write something about what happened last night, after the kids were asleep and my husband was off helping a friend. I tried to write how yesterday brought about memories and flashbacks more severe than the ones I'd been having already. I sat on the living room floor and cried, open mouthed and loud, until my eyes were puffy and I had the hiccups. Until my shoulders were heaving and the cats were looking at me like a creature from the lagoon.

I tried to write about how and why that meltdown happened, and my hopes that it was the beginning of getting over some of this. Nothing came out right, though.

Today I feel like a raw nerve, yet again. On the verge of tears from the moment I woke, I'm trying not to worry that means there's been a setback (I know realistically it's just an emotional hangover). I'm tired from little sleep, thanks especially to my own congested little man, and I must have overdone it yesterday because I am sore hysterectomy wise again. (post about that coming soon).

Thursday, August 14, 2008

We'd appreciate your prayers.

My nephew, just under 18 months old, is at the hospital right now. He's on oxygen, struggling to breathe, and we don't yet know if this is RSV, pneumonia or asthma.

Please pray for my nephew, for my SIL and her hubby. This is really scary stuff. He had a problem in June with breathing troubles while they were out of the country, and we'd hoped for no recurrence.

I'll update when I can.

Update from shortly before lunch - they've ruled out RSV, but still really aren't sure what's going on. He's still on oxygen, was going to be getting another dose of prednisone around lunchtime, and was sleeping but still breathing quite heavily.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Who says it can't be real AND fun?

When I first started this blog, I had plans for it to be fun. FUN!

Yeah, another thing that didn't happen quite as I planned in the last year. It's been honest, which I would like to think counts for something.

Recently I've been thinking about what I'd ultimately like my site to look like. I'm picturing a real website, banners, different pages, the whole deal. I'm picturing some fun aspects to the site, including reviews of some great books and awesome products and companies I've come across, and I'm hoping eventually I'll even be able to incorporate some contests with real life giveaways. I want to talk about food, marriage, kids and writing. Especially the writing.

I don't know how soon this will happen, but I'm working on it. There are many reasons, but a big one is all about bringing some of the fun back.

In the meantime, here's a bit of trivia about me. I love hitting a farmer's market with $20 and a canvas shopping bag, leaving it with more fresh produce than I can easily carry. It makes me feel as if I've conquered something and I love having enough veggies in the house I have to find excuses to put them in everything, including breakfast. (Made a fantastic zucchini, squash, red onion, egg scramble this weekend)

Now excuse me, I'm off to try to blanch 4000 green beans.

Monday, August 11, 2008

We don't HAVE to tell my mother.

We've had some behavior issues with my daughter recently. Nothing we can't get around, but she's cranky and prone to meltdowns. We've adjusted nap and bed times accordingly and that helped a bit, but there was still something nagging as well as the feeling she just wasn't getting enough rest.

I think we've found part of the answer.

My dear, sweet girl has been getting out of her bed at nap time, grabbing books off her shelves and spending the majority of her nap time looking at the books instead of sleeping. Further, she's figured out that if she turns on the extra nightlight in her room at night, I can't tell from outside the room she's done it and she can look at her books for a while at night too.

I was notorious for reading by nightlight, flashlight and even opening my bedroom door after my parents were asleep to read by the light that came down the hall from the bathroom nightlight. One of my most vivid childhood memories is of being told it was time for bed and asking permission to finish the chapter I was reading in a Nancy Drew mystery. Mom agreed and I kept reading until she finally stopped me....a full two chapters later, as I was a fast reader and just had to push that limit. She finally made me go to bed, but I'll bet you can guess the first thing I did when I woke the next morning. I finished that book before breakfast when I'd only borrowed it the afternoon before.

She comes by it naturally.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Not the End.

Yesterday, I wrote:

The magnet on my fridge declares for all to read:

"Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."

I'm exhausted, frustrated, spent and at my limit in almost every regard. I have hope things will get better, but better seems so far away right now. I haven't had a full day of rest since my hysterectomy, despite that being what I'm supposed to do. There hasn't been a day, including the day of my surgery, I haven't done something directly contradictory to doctor's orders for recuperation.

It's not that I'm being stubborn or willfully ignoring them, I just don't know what else to do. "

Then my son woke, smiled, cooed and babbled while I changed his diaper. I decided to put in some music while I fed him, and sang louder when I discovered my singing was making him laugh. When he was done eating, we danced. Despite my pain, regardless of how tired I was, I decided I was not going to let another day go by without dancing with my son.

An hour after that dance, I found out my foot is broken in two places, contrary to what I'd been told before. It wasn't just a torn ligament, and the suspected damage to the tendons is in fact there too. (Did I even mention this, that I stepped down shortly before my surgery and hurt myself? I don't remember) I go back in a month, I'm still wearing the same lovely boot I've been wearing for weeks, and if all goes well I will not need surgery. The bones are already trying to knit back together.

Several hours after the dance, I learned the cuff from my surgery is healing fairly well but showing signs of potentially being infected. (Pain, extreme tenderness, etc). So, once again, I find myself on antibiotics. At least I'm finding this out NOW. It's quite possible with as long as everything else went on, this is just the last little bit of ick left over.

I started my day frustrated, in a lot of pain, looking for a break and didn't mean in my foot.

By the end of the day, though I didn't feel I'd crossed anything off of my to-do list, I felt like a success. I danced with my son. I laughed with my daughter when she came home from school until our stomachs hurt. I did the "made of state" puzzle with her three times in a row, and marveled at her memory of the states, who lives where, where she's been.

I booked a flight for our family to go see my dear friend, at the end of this month, and I am over the moon.

So, while it isn't over, I'm healing. It's about freaking time.

Monday, August 4, 2008

What a crock.

Moved Heaven, Earth and way more weight than I was supposed to in order to get to my post-op appt only to find out my surgeon's nurse had cancelled my appointment. The receptionist didn't think I was supposed to be there, then saw it had been cancelled. They called the nurse up and she must have been having a bad day, as she acted as if I was an idiot for not knowing the surgeon schedules postops for a month after on hysterectomies.

I suspect this got messed up when they changed me from a laparoscopy to hysterectomy, but regardless of the reason I put a lot of effort into getting there and now I'm frustrated and in pain.

Oh, and having to wait until August 25th to get the rest of my answers.

I'll be back, after these short messages.

This afternoon I'll meet with my surgeon for my post-operative visit. He'll go over the details of the pathology, the pictures of the parts I can no longer call my own, go over what his nurse told me and those details he wanted to discuss with me personally.

I've already heard the word benign, several times. Gratitude is too small a word for hearing that term, but I didn't expect malignancy to be a worry. Now I just need the rest of the story.

It is my greatest hope this is the beginning of a new chapter, a return to the old normal....though I do not think I could have possibly come through this year unchanged. I just hope when the dust settles, the changes are mostly for the better.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A watched pot...boils over.

For more days than I care to tally, my emotions have been under scrutiny. Friends, family, doctors, acquaintances, my hairdresser, my counselor....all have watched, most have commented. I've made more jokes about the breakdown I was going to have "when all this is over" than can possibly be funny. Most have said I'm holding it together well, they are surprised I'm still standing, they wouldn't blame me for cracking just a little.

All the while, everything has been simmering just under the surface. Like a pot of water in the moments before the boiling point is reached, there has been a current underneath my daily thoughts and emotions. Some steam escaped, there were times I freaked out, choked up and broke down. Some came in the form of a good cry, an argument with my husband or a panic attack. A notable one occurred after I made the mistake of watching a video of a vaginal hysterectomy to satisfy my need to know what it involved. (It was not nearly as easy a video to handle as the one of a laparoscopic assisted supracervical hysterectomy....that one didn't leave me wanting to rock in the corner). I know it's likely not normal to want to watch those videos at all, but I needed to know. I panicked, and almost cancelled the surgery. Mostly, though, I've tried to hold it together by focusing on other things.

As it turns out, while I'm still in a considerable amount of pain and it's clear my recovery is going to take time, having the surgery was definitely needed. While I feel very rough right now, I can tell there is going to be improvement. After talking with the surgeon the morning they released me from the surgery center, I understand better what I was dealing with.

The pathology isn't back yet. We may or may not get more information from the study of my uterus, but what the surgeon was able to tell me was pretty amazing. To me, at least.

He said there was not a thing about my uterus that looked healthy. In fact, he described it as boggy, shriveled, lacking proper color and sick looking. He referred to our conversations where he asked me if I was sure I was done having children, sure I would not change my mind, and said based upon how my uterus looked it is unlikely I'd ever have conceived again. Even more unlikely I'd see another live birth, if I did conceive. We are extremely lucky to have our children.

The first bubble broke the surface of the water in that moment. The grief I have been fighting, denying, pushing down and trying to keep a lid on finally boiled over. All at once, the sadness of infertility, trying to conceive, the loss of two babies I have yet to properly acknowledge, my brother's murder, my pregnancy with my son, his birth, his illness after, my illness and the fear I'd have a surgery only to be told they couldn't find anything wrong just boiled over. I fear I may have scared the hell out of that poor man when I just started sobbing.

I tried to explain my relief at the notion this could all be over and the fears I'd had about the surgery, told him I'd been worried he'd come in and say something along the lines of "well, I took it out but I didn't really see any obvious problem. Maybe there will still be some pain relief, but I'm not sure."

He reassured me that it was very clear my uterus was quite sick, very obvious that I had to have been in a lot of pain and feeling awful with it looking that way and certain that had I not had it removed I'd have continued to hurt and feel sick. That was a validation for which I had not dared to hope.

It's not clear without the pathology whether it was just the infection that caused this damage, if my D & C earlier this year played a role or if there is something more. He mentioned the possibility of Adenomyosis, a condition where endometrial tissue penetrates and grows into the uterine muscle causing several symptoms - including chronic pain. I'm anxious to get the results back from the lab. It can be treated, but from what I've read it can't be completely resolved until menopause or with a hysterectomy.

I realize it was not entirely logical to worry there would be no obvious signs of a medical problem when the surgeon looked. I know in my heart that I was feeling pain, fatigue and a level of sickness I couldn't explain....but it seemed so strange there were times I worried I was losing it, or that others would think I was. Knowing something and knowing can be two different things.

I have a bit of extra time on my hands right now. Time where I'm not allowed to work, to busy my body with running around or taking on new tasks. I have to be still and in that stillness, the grief is bubbling to the surface. Bit by bit, I'm working on it.

Our church home, the church I was not able to attend for so long as it was outside of the radius allowed while I was experiencing preterm labor, is rebuilding its outdoor worship area. An elder has been handmaking benches, and all of them are done except one. The one my husband will help him make that will bear the names of our two babies that have yet to be fully acknowledged. This week we will call the elder with the first and middle names of the children whose feet never touched the ground, whose hands we never held. We will say their names out loud to another person who will literally set them in stone.

I watched the pot so carefully, afraid it would boil over when I wasn't looking, afraid I'd be trying to deal with this at a time when I simply could not. His timing, of course, is perfect. With an abundance of boiling water, time that cannot be spent on activity and a prescription for rest and hot tea it seems the perfect time to sort through all of this. If that were not irony enough, I actually received a written prescription for a device that would me take slow, deep breaths.

Someone is making sure I take care of myself now, and reminding me you can't really get cooking until the water boils anyway.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Surgery complete.

I'm updating on behalf of my dear friend and am happy to say that her surgery went well today. She didn't have many details when I spoke with her (and yes, I actually did get to talk to her in person, not just her husband, which was a happy surprise). I'm sure when she's ready, she'll post the details; when we talked she didn't know much other than the surgeon referred to her uterus as "shriveled." Not a nice word when you're talking about an internal organ. She was also able to keep her ovaries, which is great news, considering the last thing she needs is to have the major hormonal upheaval that losing those would entail.

When I talked to her, she sounded surprisingly good. The must be giving her the good drugs.

Thanks to everyone who has kept her in your thoughts and prayers. Please continue to pray that this finally does the trick and her poor body can heal. Healing and peace are something she and her family desperately need.

This Woman's Work.

I've talked about myself a lot. What this has been like for me, how I feel about it, blah blah blah me me me blah blah blah blah me me me blah (extra points for the movie reference). In reality, though, I've thought a lot about the effect of all of this on my family. Especially my husband.

He's held me up and held my hand. Done the dishes, laundry, bedtime routines, vacuumed, gone to work and repeated that cycle over and over while doing his best to make me occasionally put my feet up. If it weren't for him, I'd probably not take the time to take care of myself at all. I still don't do it enough, but that's not his fault.

We had an argument, shortly before our wedding. I was not yet diagnosed with PCOS. We both knew something was wrong, both knew whatever was going on was getting worse, and the stress of not knowing and preparing for our wedding was starting to get to us. I don't remember the catalyst for the fight, what ultimately made it happen but I am sure my hormones and the wedding did not help. Worrying that there might be something really wrong with me had me scared. I remember shouting at him "are you in this for better or worse? What about the part about in sickness and in health? Can I count on you to be there for me, no matter what? If not, you need to say so NOW."

His diabetes diagnosis had come years earlier, when we'd only been together a year, and I think I was a bit resentful that I'd really tried to see him through it...and here I was scared about my own health issue and worried he didn't get it. I realize now he cared, very very much, and I wasn't taking the time to see it.

We waited until after the wedding to do the ultrasound and bloodwork that would confirm what was wrong. I didn't want anything to damper the honeymoon, and he said he wanted to marry me no matter the outcome. It was hard, learning about pcos, hearing the infertility statistics and worrying about the other complications. Infertility itself was harder. The last year, my pregnancy, complications, illness, our son's illness, surgery, etc...it's been the hardest year of my life. I've never, ever, been so stressed, so emotional and so on the edge.

Through it all, he's been there. I've soaked every shirt he owns with tears. I've been emotional, hormonal, scatterbrained, unreliable, short tempered and in many ways not the woman he fell in love with. Not once has he thrown his arms up in the air and said "You're so not worth this."

There have been moments when he's been just as tired, just as stressed, just as ready for this crazy cloud of medical scares to blow over. He's been short tempered and short on sleep at times too. He's stood by me through all of it, keeping his vows in every way. Better, worse, rich, poor, sickness, health....and even more sickness.

When he can he makes me laugh. When he can't, he lets me cry.

We've been together almost 11 years, and he still surprises me with how sweet, funny and loving he can be. I have to remind myself that sometimes he gets scared too. We've stayed up late the last several nights talking, a bit about what's coming, a lot about where we've been, and a bit about things completely unrelated. It's been nice to have those talks. There have been a few moments where he's confessed how hard it's been on him, and a few where he's admitted he's worried about today too. Sometimes in my selfishness I've failed to notice that. I've worried so much about my fears that I didn't address his.

Today, while I'm having surgery, I get to sleep through it. Yes, my body gets to go through the wringer but I won't be aware of it at the time. I don't have to be the one sitting, waiting, worrying. He's held my hand through all of this, but for the really crappy portion of today's events he's got nobody to hold his. I feel terrible for not considering that until today.

Throughout all of this, there's been a lot of "that really sucked....but we were SO lucky" moments. So many events that could have turned out dramatically worse than they did, so many times when we were all too aware of the thin line between bad and tragic. Several people have commented on my bad luck in the last year, and honestly, I feel like I've had an awful lot of good luck. My children are here, healthy, thriving and I have had my husband to see us through all of this. Never wavering, never faltering, getting up every morning and doing what he has to do to take care of all of us.

I am so lucky to have him. There will never, ever be enough days with him.