Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving 2010

As I revisit this long neglected blog - I am grateful for this past week's Thanksgiving celebration. My husband, my mom, Jack and I drove down to Virginia to be with my sister R and her family. R has seven children - her newest, baby Brian, is 3 months old. Her oldest son is 21. A little over 2 years ago, her 15 year old son David died of suicide. Baby Brian has David's eyes, he is so beautiful and such a balm for my sister's soul. She seemed happy.

My other sister, L, made it to Virginia as well with her 3 children. Her oldest son is 23 and suffers from significant and severe mental illness - bipolar and it appears schizophrenia as well. Our family has struggled with this for years, and my sister - widowed 5 years ago when her husband died suddenly and shockingly on a November night from an accidental drug overdose - well - she suffers from chronic depression and between her husband's death - really bad financial problems (drug addicts rarely leave a big inheritance behind when they die, they more typically leave a mountain of debt and her husband was no exception..) -- and her son's mental illness - it's tough. VERY tough. She lost her house this past summer and is now renting a duplex from her (former) in-laws and they are their own brand of kooky and do not like my sister ... her car is a wreck (literally - all banged up) - and that same car nearly kept her from joining us all in Virginia much to my much beleaguered mom's dismay. HOWEVER .. the spirits (literally?) intervened - my sister got her car patched up enough to make the 5 hour drive - and she and her kids made it too. Her son is now on risperdal and it's helping, a little. But right now, a little is good enough, we'll take it!

It was a nice visit. And a nice Thanksgiving. My mom and I both remarked on how it reminded us of how Thanksgiving "used to be" - before my brother-in-law died ... before my nephew committed suicide ... before we all became more jaded and quick to laugh at foolish cliches like "everything happens for a reason" (nope, some things are just random and awful and there is NO "reason" behind it, certainly no reason good enough to make it "make sense" as so many people are desperate to have happen in the wake of something truly awful) and "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" (no, I don't think He does, because I don't think he hands out bad things any more than he hands out "treats" to people are really really good and pray really really hard! What kind of God would "give" a mother a dead son, or let someone's entire family be tortured and killed while they were in hearing distance (like that doctor in Connecticut?) A really creepy one, like, from a horror movie maybe. But in my opinion, it's life that's hard, not God. And life sometimes DOES give you more than you can handle.)

But this Thanksgiving - all life gave my family was a pleasant couple of days, turkey and some fun. No fighting, no craziness - it really was the way Thanksgiving used to be. We even took a photo of all of us outside my sister's house - last time we did that was 2004 - when my brother-in-law and my nephew David were still with us.

And my now two year old? Is wonderful. Sweet, and funny, and sassy, and TALKING more and more. So smart. Such a blessing, I love him more everyday. We are talking about another one ... it's probably just talk, as I am 39 and J is 41 and Jack wasn't easy to come by. We will not be pursuing any additional fertility treatments, and truth be told, the only thing we're currently pursuing is couples counseling... but, it's going well. For the moment, we're feeling happier, both of us - and a few months ago we were NOT feeling very happy.

It was a nice Thanksgiving. And for that I am thankful, grateful and happy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hang in there little ones...

There are babies in the rhododendron bush outside my front window.

Baby robins of course (did you think there were human babies in the bush outside my house?)

And I am obsessed. And worried. They hatched today and I CRIED - because it is really cold here, we're in the middle of a 2 day cold snap - went down to 34 last night and will be 38 tonight. I have been watching this nest and mama robin for over a week now (when I first saw the nest and the tiny blue eggs inside of it!!!) and I thought they'd hatch this weekend but nope - they must have been there for a few days before I discoved them. I saw mama with her beak in the nest today and thought she was just moving the eggs around but when she left I saw a tiny sliver of very still pink ... so got a chair and climbed up and stuck my head out of the top of my front window so I could peer down into the bush and into nest - and saw 2 very small pink embryo type little birdie babies - and they looked so still my heart stopped - but then they squirmed a bit.

Called J sobbing though, sure they were going to die and so worried because it stayed very cool today.

He called our state Wildlife Center and they told him that when she is sitting in the nest - underneath her it's 106 degrees!!! That made me feel better - and I did see her feeding them a couple times today with little necks craned up to eat so they do appear to be alive. There also appeared to still be at least one egg when I looked earlier today so another may have hatched, we may be up to 3 .. not sure.

Wildlife Center also said you just have to let nature take its course, let mama do her thing, sometimes first broods of the season don't make it, but if she's there and sitting on them and feeding them - they have a good shot - and she is - so I'm hoping and trying not to obsess over them.

Oh - and this was awful - a strange orange CAT was in my driveway today and then walked up my front stairs TOWARD THE RHODODENDRON - I know he sensed them and prob smelled them too - I opened the door and chased him away but now that's another worry - her nest isn't high enough up. It's a very large rhododendron but still, not as high as a tree. Ugh!!! Nothing I can do though. Except hope for the best.

Send some T & P to my robin mama and her babies! I know I'm crazy! But I want them to make it. I've adopted them.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

I hope your Easter was better than mine...

I really didn't think we could top Christmas (J's brother threatening to punch him in the face) - but - we did! I am not sure how the family that travels 6 - 8 hours with a toddler is somehow always in the wrong - but - we are!

This trip got exciting when MIL lectured us about co-sleeping with Jack, how "it's wrong!" (said several times) and we "can do whatever we want with our child" (ya don't say) but she "says what she THINKS!"

I took deep breaths .. and blew it off. Oh, and this was after she threw a mini-tantrum because we went and got a pizza Saturday night because THERE WAS NO FOOD AND WE WERE STARVING ... a pizza that we brought back for everybody (along with a meatball hoagie that I cut up for Jack who, um, also needed to eat because he's a TODDLER.) We found out she was mad because she had wanted to cook a roast. Or so she told DH's brother. Except ... there was no roast. Hmmmm....

We had Easter brunch Sunday (instead of Easter dinner) and J's brother texted him that we were totally selfish and "that's EFFED!" that we changed the plans to brunch from dinner and he wasn't coming!

Except we didn't change the plans. We were informed of the change by MIL Friday night when we arrived in town. We could have cared LESS when or where we ate on Easter. But ... we're the villains, so it musta been our evil doing.

Earlier Easter morning MIL stormed out of the kitchen with a bowl of Kashi and locked herself in her bedroom for 3 hours because of something DH said, I can't even remember what.

Monday morning (MIL's birthday .... oops) she started on Jack. First she said it was FINE for him to play with the table pad "go ahead" in sugary fake voice and then "OK .. no. NO. NO!!" and then "OK ... go ahead." When I (nicely) said, "if you tell him no, don't then tell him yes, it will confuse him," I got:

"You have to tell him no sometimes!"

"Yes, that's fine, but if you tell him no, then yes, you'll confuse him and make him cry."

"Well sometimes he's gonna cry!"

"Right, but we don't need to MAKE him cry by confusing him."

"Well, OK, that's right, that's a good way to get back at me (huh?) but I only told him to go ahead because of that LOOK on your face!"

Funny ... she hadn't even looked up at me so I'm not sure how she saw my face.

Well ... that was it. I was shaking mad ... went in the bedroom and packed ... took Jack outside and then told FIL I didn't feel well (true) and wasn't going to eat breakfast (that she was making) and we were going to take a walk.

When I got back - she was gone, and never came back to say goodbye.

And the kicker!!!!! J ..... is mad ..... at ME!


(Qualifiers: MIL is old. And batty. I could've been the bigger person and ignored her. And sat and ate breakfast. Especially given that it was her birthday. But I had a human reaction and got angry. This is not new behavior on her part but I have ignored it in the past. But when it got personal with my baby... I got really ticked. I did not say anything rude. I just took a walk to cool off and blew off the scrambled eggs because I could not sit at the table with her at that point. But in acknowledging her nastiness AT ALL (you're not allowed to do that) I am very, very evil.)

Ugh. I don't ever want to go back. I really don't.

Monday, February 8, 2010

This is resonating with me right now.

Something I just read on an internet board I frequent.

Feeling heard, feeling safe, feeling loved, feeling free.

Just had to write it down.

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?