Thursday, January 28, 2010


Anxiety has become such a regular part of the fabric of my existence - I don't remember what it was like not to feel it. But that doesn't mean I don't notice it anymore. It is nausea mixed with a chill of fear mixed with a knot in my stomach and a feeling of not having taken a breath in too long. Sometimes it's right up front - and big - sometimes stuffed way down and small - but there.

My sister, R, is pregnant with #7. She'll give birth at 42. Her due date is right around her son David's birthday. David died, lost to suicide, at age 15 a month after his birthday, in 2008, a little over a year ago. She does not want to give birth on David's birthday.

R is very thin. She is always tired. She has been drinking to excess in the year plus since David died (but has stopped with the news of her pregnancy, and I don't judge her for the drinking, she's suffered an indescribable loss.)

She has 5 other surviving children .. 20 years old - having trouble dealing with anger. 18 years old - dealing with OCD. 14 years old - holding steady. 5 years old - a delightful princess. 2 years old - very needy and still nursing (nothing wrong with that! I'm a big fan of extended breastfeeding. But perhaps not so much when mom's been drinking. I don't really know the extent of that - nor do I want to, frankly. And she's not drinking now.)

My other sister, L, has a 22 year old mentally ill son who is angry, mean, and verbally abusive to her and to her two daughters, his little sisters - 16 and 8. He spit at the 8 year old the other day - in public. She, my sister, has very little money to get by on. Her husband died 4 plus years ago of an accidental drug overdose. Her son has no insurance. He lives at home with them. He refuses any treatment or medication, and also refuses to try and get disability "welfare," he sneers. He is paranoid and riddled with anxiety. He lived with his grandparents for a while after a particularly ugly meltdown - but eventually moved back home. And so her girls grow up with a menacing adult male in the house -- and a mother who suffers from depression, ill equipped to deal with the very harsh cards life has dealt her. She loves her son - but has no idea what to do about him. I don't either. There are no easy answers. There may seem to be ... "she has to tell him to leave!" ... "she has to get him help!" ... sure. She has to do a lot of things. None of them "easy." (He has not gotten physical with her or the girls. But his words undoubtedly take a toll on his little sisters - as they struggle to grow up amidst a very chaotic, very messy (figuratively and literally), very unstable environment.

And then there's me. In love with my son ... struggling with my marriage (never having been in or exposed on any long term basis to a healthy marriage - I wouldn't know one if it landed in a flying saucer in my backyard. Sadly - my father was also abusive - verbally and physically. Certainly I know this is a large part of the reason for my sisters' dysfunction. And my own.) I want my son to be healthy ... happy ... loved.

I cannot live my sisters' lives. I tried to - before I had a child. I got people insurance ... healthcare ... assistance. I made (millions of) phone calls ... I made bold strides (or so I thought) ... I encouraged ... I applauded ... I purchased ... I saved pet's lives (well, one) ... I spent money I didn't have ... I cleaned (and cleaned and cleaned) ... I talked ... I listened.

But after so many years ... and with the arrival of my own child - who I want SO much for (and who I wanted so much) - I stopped. Literally. I just - stopped.

I am still available to my nieces. They know I am a phone call away and they come to my home and spend time with me. I do not go to their home, although it is just 10 minutes away. A fight with L a couple years ago, right before I got pregnant actually, over how dirty and chaotic it was and how unhealthy that was for her and the kids that resulted in her telling me not to come over anymore if it bothered me led to - exactly that. I don't go over there anymore.

And even after I "stopped" ... I reapplied for the girls free state supplied health insurance when my sister forgot to. I gave them a refrigerator when theirs broke(and broke my foot, whilst 7 months pregnant, in doing so. That too was a moment of clarity for me - as I fell out of the Uhaul van I rented and drove to my home that day because somehow L couldn't pick it up - but her giant pregnant sister (me) could - a moment of clarity that I needed to STOP ... as that day could have resulted in unspeakable tragedy had I landed differently after that fall. I was lucky to only end up with a broken foot - and not a broken soul that day.)

I did not attend my nephew David's funeral. I was in my 35th week of a high risk pregnancy - physically ill (sinus infection) - and was advised not to travel. So I didn't.

It is a stressful life. I am very lonely sometimes. My husband has a hard time dealing with my extended family's chaos. But he does the best he can, and when my 8 year old niece called the other day, feeling frightened of her brother, he raced over to their house and collected her and brought her to our home.

My mother has high blood pressure and is pre-diabetic. She is a wonderful, loving, kind grandma to all of her daughters' children - especially my Jack - who she cares for 4 days a week while I'm at work. She regrets every day that our childhood - her daughters' - was difficult. And chaotic. And sad. She wishes she'd done better .. known better .. but she too had very few tools at her disposal. Her parents were not going to win any awards in that department either - between their alcoholism and neglect of her when she was a child - that which pushed her right into the arms of an abuser - my father.

I used to think that bad situations eventually turned out OK ... if you tried hard enough - if you just "believed." I don't anymore. Some bad situations do NOT turn out OK. And for those who think "everything happens for a reason" - I roll my eyes at you. And then roll them again. Tell THAT to the children in Haiti who survived the earthquake and are now wandering around starving and terrified - with no one to hug them or help them. Tell THAT to children who are being trafficked, right now, by sexual predators around the world. I don't think they'd appreciate being the means to an "end" - to a "reason."

I don't want to be jaded, and cynical. I miss believing that things eventually turn out OK. I miss faith. (And I have not abandoned a belief in God - it's just less comforting than it used to be.)

I try to be a good person. I like to help people. I love to help people, actually. (Nice people. Mean people can go eff themselves.)

But yes, I suffer from anxiety. I mull going back to therapy ... perhaps going on an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety med. I wonder what's next ... I wonder what my family will look like in 2 ... 5 ... 10 years. Will they be "OK?" Time will tell.

Life is hard. Life is difficult. But life is precious. My son is precious. I want so much for him. And I want to not pass on my anxiety. And my family's dysfunction. But J and I are struggling. I hope we can find our way back onto a better path. And be good parents. And good to each other.

What a horribly long maudlin post. But it feels better sometimes to put it "outside" ... to type it out ... and let even just a little bit of it - go.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

My almost 14 month old still drinks out of bottles. Yep, mm hmmm. Bottles.

And even though on some of the baby boards I frequent this news would elicit not only a raised eyebrow or two - it might even get a gasp...

I. don't. care.

So there.

OK, wait, here's a bit more detail.

Some people say bottles are bad for a baby's oral development. That's actually not true. Well, it might be if an older baby or toddler had a bottle stuck in its mouth, oh, 23 hours a day out of 24 - but beyond that - the occasional bottle here and there isn't enough to shake a stick at (or threaten with braces.) From what I've read - there isn't enough pressure from a bottle nipple to cause malformation of the teeth or hard palate. Although the sucking that a baby does with breastfeeding IS said to be beneficial down the road when it comes to orthodontia (another reason extended bf'ing is a good thing.) I'm not saying extended bottle feeding provides the same benefits - only that bottle doesn't equal braces. (My kid's going to need them anyway - J and I both had them - Jack's doomed. Hey, rite of teenage passage.)

There IS one potential health problem with toddler bottles. Once a baby gets teeth -if baby takes bottle to bed with them, and falls asleep with bottle, and a pool of milk or formula (or juice - gasp!) in their mouth as well - that can lead to decay.

Jack has never taken a bottle to bed, he doesn't even hold his own bottles, he still likes mama to! So we don't sweat it. We'll get rid of the bottles in time, just not a big rush at our house.

The best thing that ever happened to me as a new mom was realizing along that way that comparing milestones was an exercise in futility and the "you HAVE to do THIS" (whatever "this" was - putting baby down drowsy but awake, not rocking to sleep, pick your poison) was actually - not the case at all. I don't have to do THIS .. I can do ... THAT, instead. And I do rock Jack to sleep - every night - a practice that has literally resulted in some of the best, sweetest, most beautiful moments of my life (nothing, NOTHING, trumps drowsy, open mouth baby kisses. And the "singing" Jack does against my shoulder as he's falling asleep.) I also put him down totally asleep most nights - unless while very drowsy he practically flings himself out of my arms as if to say "Put me DOWN - your shoulder is bony and uncomfortable!" So I put him down in his crib. And later in the night he comes into bed with me and sleeps there. And I love it. I love sleeping with him, and I love waking up to his smiling, beautiful face, right next to mine. To me, there is nothing more natural in the world than sleeping with your baby next to you. Most adults don't like to sleep alone. So why should my baby?

Here's what is so great - as long as my child is happy and healthy and thriving - I don't have to follow anyone else's recommendations. Hooray! And so far, my child is a good sleeper (not great, but definitely good!) a good eater, guzzles milk out of sippies or bottles, gave up paci's on his own months ago with zero encouragement from us, just decided he was done - and is such a happy, sweet, pleasant baby.

I still get the occasional pangs of "am I doing THIS right?" but far less often than I used to! "Rules" be damned - it's bottle-palooza at our house. LOL!

(And here's an "expert" on whether saying bye-bye to the ba-ba is really all that big of a deal... just for some interesting additional reading!)


And here are some recent pics of my bottle drinkin' rebel baby :-)

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I love that baby!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Goodbye 2009

Another holiday season come and gone. A new year upon us. It's going so fast.

My resolutions ... write more. Yes, I've said so before - but this time I mean it. I am really struggling these days with being a working mom. I knew it would be a struggle - before I even had Jack. I didn't know exactly how it would feel - but I figured it would suck. It does. I am constantly whirling around in my mind - trying to figure out how to juggle finances and work less - while not totally fucking up our lives in the process. I have not reached a great answer yet. And have been feeling bad about myself in the process (mid-life crisis?) - wondering - why I'm not more successful (yes I've won some awards but recently had a semi-crappy review at work - it's not the crappy review, hello, it was bullshit, basically me getting blamed for not doing enough to help a HORRIBLE IDIOT who never should have been hired and was a complete lying FAILURE. So, not the review itself - but the fact that I was even BEING reviewed. By someone who can go eff herself, truly, for all I care. Someone who's opinion I do not respect, personally or professionally - yet have to pay attention to at least in some small part so as not to get, well, fired. Except that I want to get fired. Well, laid off. Not fired.) But I digress..

Back to being a working mom - it's tough. Not just for me, for millions of moms. I know there are some who love it - but on the baby boards that I frequent - I just cringe in sadness when I see yet another mom headed back to work after maternity leave, crying, hurting, hating to leave her baby. Such is life I suppose. And it can always be worse. But that it can be worse - doesn't make what it IS - better.

So I have always thought of myself as a talented writer ... although lately in my morass of feeling bad about myself I question - how talented? and even - talented at all? or - enough? I don't know. But letting fear hold one back is lame (unless fear is holding you back from doing something dangerous. In that case - not lame. Smart!)

This blog is going to change too. I haven't written a lot of what I've wanted to write here - because I think of it as my infertility and subsequently my baby blog. And it is that - but I see it becoming more of my "me" blog too. Not always baby related - except for the fact that truly, my life revolves around my baby, and so everything I do, every decision I make, is in some way related to his well being.

But it's about to get more raw here. More swear-ey. More real. More me. And I'm not even sure I HAVE any readers left - I never had the legions that some infertility blogs have anyway. But I have still found myself not writing certain things, certain opinions - about parenting or specifically attachment parenting for example - for fear that I will offend folks who may read this blog.

I'm not going to do that anymore. I am going to share my opinions, offensive though some of them may be to others. And I hope that those who disagree won't be (terribly) offended, or take anything I say personally. I have some strong beliefs that have developed over time, as I've grown into being a parent. And boy if there is one touchy subject for a mama - it's whether or not she's a good parent! But the opinions and beliefs I will share here in the coming year are mine - and I am not so closed minded to not know there is more than one way to skin a cat (GROSS AND HORRIBLE ANALOGY) or successfully raise a child. So we will have to agree to disagree sometimes. And really, as I don't think anyone reads this poor neglected blog anymore - who cares? Hello? Is this thing on?

So here I am as 2010 commences. At a personal and professional crossroads - in need of some sort of outlet. A place to bounce ideas around - even off of my own head. A place to find myself again - to figure out where I'm headed and if that's even a place I want to go.

I have felt sort of lost over the past several months. Unsure. What is the right decision? How will it affect my son? My marriage? Should I leave my job? And do ... what?

I hope to find answers - or even some good clues - in the coming months. So Happy New Year to me. One thing is certain, time will pass, no matter what. In a little less than a year, we'll all ring in 2011. If you ARE still with me - my hope for me - and you - is a good year. Of growth - and happiness. Good decisions. Peace. Love. Joy. Hey why not, right?