Saturday, December 1, 2012

Talking a Walk

If this doesn't make you smile at least a little, you are dead inside. Charlotte is now walking the great majority of the time. She's been taking steps for well over a month, but up until this past week, still preferred to crawl. Suddenly walking is awesome, though. And Robbie loves it, too. Now he can show her the world. He'll hold her hand and lead her around the whole house. When she (inevitably) falls, he "falls" too. He'll say "okay! now we're falling down!" and she just cracks up laughing. I swear if I loved these kids any more, but heart would explode.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Small things

I tell ya, when you're having a shitty week, there is nothing like being a mommy to make everything alright. It really is the little things in life.

Tonight when I got home from work I snuck in to say hi to Robbie.

Robbie: Hi Mom! (seriously when did I become Mom instead of Mommy?)
Me: Hey baby.
Robbie: Can you give me a snuggle?
Me: Absolutely! :crawls into bed next to him:
Robbie: :poking at my collar: I like your shirt!
Me: Thank you!
Robbie: You're welcome.

I got word today that there's a good possibility I'm going to lose my job. (They are cutting two positions at work. I'm lowest in seniority, so that means me.) This comes after being so barfy-sick yesterday that today my abs hurt. Driving home, all I wanted to do was come in and have a good cry. My stomach hurt too bad to even consider a drink. But four sentences from my first-born and I feel like everything is really going to be alright.

It will be.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Apparently Charlotte's birthday gift to me was to sleep through the night!

David had been expressing some frustration about her lack of sleep. He asked me what my friends did to get their babies to sleep longer. I told him that most of my friend's husbands help at night and they had to do it. Since he's never done night duty at all, I was SHOCKED when he said that he'd try it this weekend. He'd taken Monday off for Charlotte's birthday, so he took all night wakings for the last 3 days.

Apparently it worked!

Last night she stirred a few times, but never fussed at all. I heard her get up and turn her mobile on a few times, but other than that, I wouldn't have even known she'd woken at all. It was pretty amazing.

She's woken a few times tonight, but David went in both times before he went to bed. Hoping she'll now make it until morning. Last night I got something like 5 hours of uninterupted sleep. I was ready to save the world today. I've always been a bit of an insomniac, so I can survive on less than the average person, but a year straight of no more than 3 hours at a time gets to a girl.

And with that.. I'm off to bed!



Monday, November 12, 2012

Birth Story

Clearly I'm a failure at this 30 posts in 30 days thing. My excuse is that it's Charlotte's birthday and I was throwing a party. And like any good mother, I show my love in spending way too much time and energy slaving over food and crafts that are destroyed in 1/10 of the time it took to make them. And then I'm happy anyway.

This time last year, I didn't know I was going to have a baby that day. I knew it was coming. My blood pressure was getting crankier and crankier. One doctor would say soon, another doctor would say maybe a little longer. I knew it wouldn't be long, but I didn't realize it would be quite as quick as it was.

Last pregnant picture. 35w 2d
I had been in the hospital on bedrest for about a week. I was feeling a little sorry for myself because I missed my son and my husband and my bed and my TV and my own "stuff." (not necessarily in that order.) But I was also getting used to the hospital a bit. I had made a few friends on the floor, and gotten friendly with a couple of nurses, so at least I wasn't quite as lonely. But I still wanted to go home. Then I'd feel guilty for wanting to go home because I knew I needed to be where I was. I knew going home meant having the baby and I knew we weren't ready for that yet.

It was a Saturday. David had planned to bring his mom and Robbie up to the hospital to visit for a while. Then his mom was going to take Robbie home and we were going to have a date night in the hospital. He'd bring food in and we'd watch a movie together. We had just talked and they were getting ready to head in. I was writing an email to my friend Amy when the high risk doctor came in. Right away he said today was the day. I was in shock. "but.. it goes back down." He gave me a caring but firm explanation that I was getting sicker faster than the baby was getting stronger and it was time. Amy was technically the first person to know because I sent her something to the effect of "oh shit, he says it's time.." and hit send before I even called my husband.

I called David and informed him that our date night would have to be rescheduled. And to get his butt in to the hospital very quickly. I called my dad. Sent a few texts. Made a few posts. And then I found myself wondering what to do with myself until it was time. I didn't know how long I had. It depended when they could schedule me for surgery. I took one last photo of myself pregnant. It's something we never thought to do with Robbie, and I was determined to do better this time. I had about 30 minutes of time by myself, just to think. I was mostly nervous, but also a little excited. I was going to meet my baby that day. I stopped to say a prayer for all of us, talked to the baby for a bit and then just waited.

Last photo as a family of 3
About the time that the family showed up, things got hectic. I needed to be moved from antepartum to labor and delivery. As I'd been living in the hospital for a while, I had a fair amount of stuff, which we quickly packed up so it could be moved. Then I was.

We went down to labor and delivery. We took one last photo of us as a family of three. Then I got my epidural and from that point on, I was pretty woozy.

It didn't take long for me to be wheeled into the operating room. My OB couldn't be there (she later told me that I happened to get scheduled for the one hour that day she couldn't be there. She was disappointed.) but her partner covered and took great care of me. The NICU team was standing by. I don't even remember them starting. I remember thinking it seemed to be taking a long time. Just as the thought passed my mind, the doctor told me they were just cleaning up some scar tissue from Robbie's birth and then they'd go on. It was all skin scarring. She said my uterus looked great.

They shortly told me that it was time to pull the baby out. They told David to get the camera ready and where to stand to get a picture. I remember being aware that the baby was out, but no one was saying anything. Finally, a nurse complained, "Tell us what she has!" and I thought "NO KIDDING!" the doctor laughed and said "It's a girl!" They held her up and David took her very first picture.
First photo

I was in shock. While I called her "she/her" the whole time, I had convinced myself she was a boy. She would have been Elliot James, but instead she was Charlotte Corrina. I breathlessly told David, "We have a daughter!"

Quickly, she was taken over to the NICU team where she was wiped up and suctioned. And then she cried. David and I looked at each other with ridiculous joy. It would be a week before we heard
Robbie cry. It really is the most amazing sound in the world. That was when I started to cry, too.
Upon hearing her cry...

NICU team
They told me she was doing great. They weighed her and wrapped her up and asked David if he wanted to bring her to meet her mommy. He did. I wish I'd have thought to have a nurse take a picture of that moment because it was amazing. Getting to see and touch my baby was a true gift. I got to welcome her to the world and tell her that I loved her and just stare at her while they stitched me up.
5 lbs 2 oz

It took a little while for them to do it. Later they told me that they had to do some extra work because I have (had?) unusually think fascia. They tell me it's genetic and to my benefit that they saw it because I would likely have needed more intense surgery later to hold my guts in. (They put it more delicately, but that's the gist.) At that point, I didn't care. I just wanted to stare at my baby.
On the scale
Finally it was time to go. I needed to spend 2 hours in recovery. Charlotte would go to the nursery for her newborn screenings and such and be brought back to me when I got back to my room. I was wheeled to recovery. I texted the entire world, smiled a lot and got my mag started.

Greedy for my baby girl

They took me back down to labor and delivery since I couldn't go to postpartum while on mag. I was in the smallest hospital room I'd ever seen in my entire life but mostly I didn't care. I had David called to find out when Charlotte could be brought to me and they said they'd be right down.

It was a grand total of about 3 hours after she was born before I got to hold her, but it seemed like nothing. I didn't get to hold Robbie for 5 days, and then only for 30 minutes while nurses hovered.
Holding her for the first time

I asked our families to take Robbie out for a few minutes while David and I spent a little time with Charlotte. As soon as I got her, I stripped her and held her to my chest and just watched her. She was the most beautiful thing I'd ever laid eyes on. I couldn't believe such an incredible baby had come out of me. I couldn't believe I had a daughter.

Robbie meeting Charlotte
Then Robbie came to meet her. Robbie was not terribly amused. He'd had a traumatic week with me gone and now this new person taking all the attention. He was well behaved, but did not want to be anywhere near the baby. It was okay, though. It didn't last long. And now he'll tell you she's his best friend. He's definitely hers.

Meeting Grandpa
Finally, our parents came to meet her. It was awesome to see them fall in love with her, too. I felt complete in a way I can't put into words. It was perhaps the happiest day of my life. Robbie's birth was too scary to be described that way. I have no small amount of guilt that his birth is marred by the circumstances, but it's a simple fact. Charlotte's wasn't. She was healthy and happy. She latched to my best immediately and sucked contentedly.
Meeting Grandma

The rest of the night is mostly a blur. I had a round of crazy contractions amplified by pitocin and some other contraction-inducing drugs (needed because of the mag) and a somewhat lackluster nurse, but nothing could take away from the joy of having my baby with me.

I didn't know what the following year would bring, but I knew I was blessed beyond all comparison in those moments. I was truly happy.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Let the terriversaries begin

A year ago today, I was admitted to the hospital. As paranoid and worried as I'd been throughout my pregnancy, I was oddly unworried when my OB sent me to the hospital with my blood pressure at 150/90. I knew I'd just had a meal and it would come back down. And I was right. As soon as I got to the hospital, I was down to 110/70.

They wanted to keep me overnight for observation. My doctor thought I could go home the next day as long as things stayed down. They were checking my blood pressure every 4 hours. At that next check, I was still fine. I knew I was going home that next day. But at the middle of the night check, it was up again, around 160/90. Well shit. Turned out I was there for the duration.

I have mixed feelings about this day. Charlotte's doing so amazingly well, it's not fair to feel much sadness for that time. I've lived through enough prematurity complications with Robbie to know that Charlotte is practically a termie. But when I'm facing yet another terriversary, I can't help but have a few pangs of regret. I really would have liked more kids, but I remember quite well scrambling for childcare for the kid left at home. And how sick I ended up getting. We made the decision to be done for good reasons. Today I am reminded of them.

On the other hand, I also met a lot of amazing people while I was on bed rest. Some of the nurses were amazing. And the other moms on the floor that I got to know a little were awesome. We'd visit a little in a group room. We were a pretty cheerful group most of the time. We were all so glad to be out of our rooms even for an hour, that we were usually happy. But there was one day when my nurse tracked me down for my vitals and of course, my blood pressure was disgustingly high. It really killed the joy in the room. I can remember sobbing "I feel like such a failure." and all the other moms jumping right in to agree that they felt the same way and commiserate.

None of them tried to get me to focus on the positive or dismissed my feelings. No one promised me the baby would be fine when they couldn't possibly know that. They just accepted my feelings and passed me a Kleenex for my tears. Such a small thing, really, but it meant a lot to me. We all rooted for each other and asked after each other and prayed for each other. I wish we had all kept in touch, but sadly I got rushed out unexpectedly (to me!) w/o the opportunity to get their info. I just hope they're all having as good a first year with their babies as I am with Charlotte.

In the end, I don't know that I can sum up my feelings on today. And maybe I shouldn't try. Life is rarely all good or all bad. Sometimes it doesn't have closure or sensible conclusions. It's gray and brown and orange and mixed up. It's good and bad and happy and sad and ending and beginning all at the same time. I think it might just be enough to reflect on the day as a milestone. It was a day that changed our course. We went from hoping for a full term baby to preparing for a less than term one. It was a day we'd feared would come but hoped wouldn't. We got through it. Along the way, we smiled, we laughed, we raged and we cried. Let's face it, it was just a little glimpse of what parenting really is.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Outside myself

Tonight I'm going to ask for prayers for someone I don't know.
Apparently this mom used to be a member of a message board I'm on. A few days ago, doctors discovered a very large tumor in her daughter's brain.

Things have been rough at my house. Money is beyond tight, sleep is nearly non-existent, Robbie's decided his new favorite pastime is pushing his sister down, David and I are sniping at each other over stupid things. But then there are things that make it all fade away. If they foreclose on the house or we never sleep a full night again, it's not important. All I can think of right now is praying for this family. Please join me.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

One Year

Can you believe my baby girl is almost 1?
A year ago this week, I was headed to the hospital with high blood pressure. I was scared to death and praying for more time. This year I'm preparing for a low-key birthday party for my little lady bug.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Robbie doesn't sleep like a normal kid. (Apparently I can not birth children who sleep well.) He goes to bed at 9, but he's almost always still awake when I get home from work just after 10. Usually as soon as he hears me come in, he yells out "Mommy! I need a snuggle!" Who am I to decline such a sweet request? So I go crawl into bed with him for a few minutes. I always ask him how his day was. He never seems to know the answer, so I ask if it was good and he always says it was good. We talk about what he did and who he say and what he learned. Usually it ends with him telling me that his tummy is rumbly and he needs a snack. Always the same- Cheese and Penguin Crackers. He has a piece of cheese and a handful of crackers and then goes to sleep.

Well, tonight, we had the usual routine, but even after his snack, he was still awake for a while. Finally I heard him say "Mommy, I need another snuggle!" so I went in again and laid down next to him. I wasn't planning to say much, just try to soothe him to sleep, but when I laid down, he said "How was my day!?" Even though he doesn't usually answer the question, it still seems to be important that I ask. It really melted my heart tonight. I love that kid.


Friday, November 2, 2012


Okay, so it's November 1 and I'm trying to start my 30 in 30 challenge out right. I'm writing. Truthfully, the only thing on my mind tonight involves fictional characters.

Since Charlotte didn't sleep well (well, still doesn't) as a small baby, I spent a lot of time with her beside me either in the cosleeper or in my bed. She'd sleep okay so long as I was close by, still and quiet. That meant no TV, which is my usual vice. So, instead, I started reading. Last year I challenged myself to read 50 books. This year I set my goal at 30 thinking that with a new baby, I wouldn't have time. Well, I just finished my 64th book of the year. So how 'bout them apples?

The book I finished tonight was the second in a series. The first was Bared to You and the second Reflected In You, by Sylvia Day- The Crossfire Series. Holy crap I'm hooked. I read the every-popular and ever-controversial 50 Shades books earlier in the year. I enjoyed the story and the characters (well, Christian, mostly) but hated the writing (and Ana, a little.) A friend recommended Bared To You as a better option. Boy was she right!

It's one of those books that left me restless. I immediately went to look when the final book is going to be released (not until May :sob:) and then considered rereading the two books I already had. I opted to look into some other books by Sylvia Day so I started a new series tonight. The writing is still good, but I can already tell the story isn't going to be as mesmerizing as The Crossfire Series.

I think a lot of what sucked me into the story is that both of the main characters are abuse survivors. Their journey to each other is ugly and sordid and messy. Both have great flaws. I love that the female character isn't a simpering moron. She has an ugly past, and plenty of insecurities. She has her own career and money, too. You don't find that in a lot of romance novels.

I think that the way their relationship is portrayed, working through their pasts, though, is what is truly unique. Their love doesn't heal everything. But with enough work, they might be able to heal themselves. That speaks to me a lot. And you know, the SERIOUSLY steamy, MIND-BLOWING smut doesn't hurt either.

So, I hate that this turned into one big book review, but that's what's on my mind. I already miss Gideon and Eva. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to saving a vampiric fallen angel. Or something.


Monday, October 29, 2012


I am so out of the writing mode these days.
Life has been hectic, but that's really no excuse. Writing is a good outlet. I just need to get back in the habit. I think I'm going to challenge myself to 30 in 30 for November. Force myself to write SOMETHING every day. Even if it's "my apple at lunch today was a little mushy." Not riveting, but it's something, right?

As for what has been hectic, it's mostly the kids.

Robbie is doing great. He's Spiderman for Halloween and he loves his costume. (Store-bought, whatever. I don't sew.) He drug it into bed this morning as soon as he got up. "Mommy, put my mask on!" It's cute.

He's still mouthy and stubborn, but also sweet and adorable. And I think 4 is better than 3 was, so I'll take it. He still will not poop in the potty and I'm totally out of ideas to make it happen, so I mostly am just going with it.

Charlotte is blowing my mind every day. She'll be 1 in 2 weeks and I can't believe how fast the time has gone. She's so funny. She's not talking much (a few words- "cat" "momma" "dadda" "hi!") but the girl is everywhere. She is still a very hesitant walker, but she climbs You try to strap her into a high chair or cart and she figures out how to slide out of the belt and stands up anyway. Fortunately she's really tough and has to really hit hard to cry about falling.

She's starting to make a little progress on sleeping. Several nights this week I got a 5 hour stretch out of her once at night. I'm still a walking zombie but at least we're moving forward.

Money has been really tight. Like, REALLY tight. It's just been one of those years. I took a 6 month unpaid leave from work to stay home with Charlotte. And then the house has just been one thing after another. (Water heater, sump pump, drain, roof etc.) and our savings did not last as I'd hoped. We're in the process of trying to do a rate adjustment on the mortgage. We're not upside down, but we're probably about even. We'd love to move but the realty crash just isn't allowing that. So, ya know. We're broke. Not poor, just broke.

Marriage wise, I think we're doing okay. I think a baby is the hardest thing on a marriage and that was no exception for us this year. David misses me because I'm in mom mode so much. I resent him for not helping at night. We come together on most things, but there are always tense days that remind us of the "..or worse" part of our wedding vows.

Personally, I'm okay. My anxiety issues have been mostly controlled. I'm still struggling to lose the weight I gained when I started Paxil. And I feel really bad about myself having gotten SO fat again. And then I feel bad about feeling bad because I've never been one to have poor body image. I knew my lot in life, but I also didn't hate myself for it. Right now.. well.. I'm depressed about it.

I hope to wean Charlotte in the early spring and then really focus on dieting more. Right now every time I try to really cut my calories, my milk supply really wanes, so that's not so good for me. I do need to get more exercise, though. I'm really hoping losing some of the weight I gained will get my blood pressure back down again. It's controlled on the meds I'm on, but I'd love to not need them as well.

All in all, I think we're just living a pretty average American life. I know how lucky we are, even on the days when I want to pull my hair out. I wish I could take a snap-shot of my life right now and send it to myself around the time of miscarriage number 1. Or 2. Or even right after Robbie was born.
This would have looked like heaven. And it sort of is.


Monday, October 8, 2012


I feel like the days are speeding past me like a freight train. Charlotte is going to be a year old in a month and it seriously feels like she should be about 4 months old.

She's doing amazing. She's not walking, but she's at that point where I just keep waiting for it to happen. She does a lot of standing w/o support. She can even shake toys and stay up if she doesn't realize she's doing it. She climbs around like a monkey. Honestly, she's giving me gray hair. Robbie never, ever did the things she's doing. Yes, he couldn't do a lot of them (he was just started to sit up unassisted at this age) but it just never would have occured to him to climb out around the buckle on the highchair and dive across the table.

She will eat or drink anything. Seriously, don't leave anything unattended, you'll lose it. She has 3 teeth, but she can take bite and chew and swallow surprising things. She's been off of baby food for a few months already. She's had a little bit of cow's milk just to get used to it (verdict: YUM.) though is still nursing as well. She really likes water. She's had just a little bit of watered down pear juice when she was a little constipated, but I hope not to get her started on juice at all, really. Oh, and she takes all of the above from a straw. I'm not even sure how she learned that. Just one day, she grabbed a straw and took a sip. Well, okay then.

On a micropreemie board I was once a member of, someone who had a termie after a 23 weeker once said "These termies practically raise themselves." I completely understand that sentiment. That's not to negate how much work termies are, but the fact that Charlotte learned to sit, stand, roll over, eat, drink, crawl, climb, say a few words, all without anyone actually trying to teach her those things is amazing. Robbie was having 4-5 therapy sessions a week at this point of his life. And between therapy sessions, we sat in the floor and showed him over and over and over again where to place his legs to roll, smeared food on his lips so he'd taste them and prayed he'd like something.

Tonight at dinner, I put one hand on Charlotte's head to keep her in her highchair so that I could take a bite with the other hand. The girl can not be contained.

She's starting to get a bit of attitude. When you tell her no, or take something away, she yells back. They aren't words, yet, but backtalk is universal.

she's still not sleeping for shit. Every 3 hours, like clockwork, she's up. Sometimes (like tonight) it's more often. I usually am good to get her back down in her crib until about 3am, then I'm so tired, I give up and she sleeps with me until morning. If I slept well with her next to me, I'd just co-bed full time. It really is so much easier when she's in bed with me. When she wants to nurse, I don't even have to really wake up, and neither does she.
But I just don't sleep well with her next to me. I can't move to get comfortable, I'm always waking to check and make sure she's not crawling off the bed (and sometimes she does!) or buried in the pillow or whatever. She's safest in her crib, I sleep better when she's in her crib but she's yet to spend a whole night there. She does genuinely seem to be hungry every 3 hours. 95% of the time, she wakes, eats very quickly and very well and goes straight back to sleep. I don't think (most of the time) she's trying to manipulate her way into my bed, but either way, that's where she ends up. And I'm at a loss about what to do about it. I just try to catch a nap where I can and rely heavily on caffeine in the morning.

Robbie's doing amazing. Having a nanny was the best decision we ever made. She comes with a curriculum every week and Robbie is learning SO much. He blows me away all the time. Lately he's been telling me he loves me a lot. I waited a long time to hear those words from him and they still make my heart grow every time he says them. He also adores his sister. He gets frustrated when she takes his toys or food or whatever, but mostly he is very patient with her and if he gets in trouble, it's usually for hugging her too much.

I would gush some more, but the aforementioned non-sleeper is awake again. This is why I can't write these days. Every time I sit down and try, someone cries. If this is the worst thing I have to complain about, I'm doing pretty well...


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Waiting to live again

One of the greatest things about having blogged for the last few years is having a running history of how things were. Sometimes it works against me. Last week, for example, when I went back looking at posts from around the time Robbie was born. Dredged up a lot of painful emotions.

But then tonight, I wondered how long it took for the Paxil to make me feel better when I started it back in January. I started it Jan 23 and on Feb 2, I had a post about not having anxiety when the sun set. So that's 10 days. Which is also how long it took to go without it before I felt like a crazy person again.

So, ten days. It's been 3 since I restarted the meds. So by this time next week, I'll be a real, live human being again, right? Right?



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

4 years

I took the full dose of Paxil this morning. It's been a little better, but not great. Tonight I have the oddest sensation that I'm forgetting to worry about something. I'll think "oh yeah, I forgot..." "oh now, wait.. I did that.." Like my brain really wants to be worried, but it can't quite figure out where to put that worry.

Hoping that a few more days of full dose Paxil put me back on the right side of sane.

In other news, today is the 4 year anniversary of Robbie's NICU homecoming. I do think that this milestone is contributing to my anxiety. It's a stupid thing to be anxious about, I know, but I think it just dredges up so many emotions and sets off some PTSD.

(I've been trying to do my PTSD exercises per my therapist, but so far they're not helping much. I contacted my therapist today, will have a session by week's end. Hopefully she can knock some sense into me.)

It's so odd to know that four years ago, Robbie felt like a visitor. I loved him and was even bonded to him a little, but I still kept waiting for someone to knock on the door and ask for their baby back. He was still tiny, under 4.5 pounds. It was a really profound life changing moment for us.

I wish I could have had a snapshot of him today on that day. I was so worried about everything, wondering what he'd be like. Would he be smart? Cute? Happy? Funny? Turns out, he's all of those things. He's also stubborn and bossy, but he's the best big brother in the world, and an amazing son. We've come a long way.

Monday, September 3, 2012

It's back.

Felt jittery all day. Full on anxiety wave tonight. Took some Paxil.
Even had a drink. Still not feeling great.

Fuck you, anxiety. Fuck you.



Okay, blogland- talk to me about withdrawal from Paxil.

I've been weaning off for about a month. Haven't had any since Friday before last (about 9 days.) Was doing okayish. A lot of dizziness and I'm sure it was contributing to my anger at my husband lately, but I was functioning.

Tonight I got hit by a massive panic episode. I can't really call it a panic attack because it lasts too long, but it hit me out of nowhere tonight and was pretty major. My whole body was shaking, skin tingling, heart racing, the whole bit. The worst of it lasted about an hour, but was getting waves for another few.

I am currently visiting my mother-in-law (who was great through the whole thing) and didn't even pack my Paxil. If I'd had it, I would have taken one. I was in pretty bad shape for a bit.

My reading says that the worst of the withdrawal lasts about 2 weeks. Am I going backward if I take one? Should I tough it out? Wean EVEN slower? I'd like to hear your stories.



Monday, August 27, 2012

Sneaking Out

Tonight I got off work early and didn't tell anyone. I left. I got gas, cleaned out the car, went to a restaurant and ate by myself, went shopping for nothing and then spent a solid hour at the bookstore. Alone. Two and a half hours where I didn't rush to get home or answer to anyone.

I eventually called my husband and told him I wasn't at work. He seemed confused but okay with it.

When I got home, Charlotte was wailing. David was trying to resettle her without success. I took over for a while, also without success. Then he took over again while I went to talk to Robbie a bit.

I don't even know what to say about Robbie. He's pee-trained but still not poop and lately he's been holding it for bedtime, pooping in his diaper and then taking the diaper off himself. Fortunately he's smart enough not to smear it everywhere but it's still not pleasant to walk into.

After cleaning Robbie up and resettling him, Charlotte still wailing in the other room the whole time, I pulled out one of my bookstore purchases on sleep. Before I could finish the chapter I needed, David came to tag out. And gave me a guilt trip about how he hasn't had a break in 16 hours. I refrained from commenting and just came back to take a turn. It's currently 11:30 and she's still going. I don't know what to do.

The lack of sleep in the house is affecting our marriage. David will help until he goes to bed around midnight, but after that, it's me. He's off duty until he gets home from work the next day. She still eats about every 3 hours all night long.

On Saturday I let David sleep until 10am and then asked if I could get 15 minute nap. He couldn't deal with the kids by himself for 15 minutes. After a long day of sniping at each other, he told he he's "always tired." I pretty much told him I had nothing left to to give. I take all night duty, all morning duty and all weekend duty. I simply couldn't do any more. He agreed that I'm doing a lot.
But then on nights like tonight, he purposely makes me feel guilty for going and doing something for myself, even though in the grand scheme of things, I was home almost an hour EARLIER than usual.

I know we're both tired and it makes everything seem more serious. I'm trying to remember to that we pretty much hated each other (or maybe I just hated him) for Robbie's first year and we eventually liked each other again. This too shall pass.

But right now, I'm tired and unhappy. And I'd really appreciate it if my baby would GO TO SLEEP.


Monday, August 20, 2012


It hasn't been the best week in parenting. I'm trying to wean off the Paxil and I'm edgy and a little depressed. Honestly, I drove home from work tonight planning to write a little bit about how depressed and unloved I'm feeling. Whether it's the drug weaning or sleep deprivation or maybe it really is that everyone around me has just gotten supremely annoying lately, I don't know. But it's not been my best week.

I got home from work wanting nothing more than some food and a little quiet time to read. (Reading "Gone Girl." HOOKED! no spoilers!) I came in and devoured some food while being equal parts amused and bemused that Robbie was still awake and talking to himself. I decided to go in and sneak a snuggle and try to get him to sleep before returning to my Kindle.

When I went in, he exclaimed, "Mommy!" like he hadn't seen me in a year. He sat right up and smiled at me. Then told me very seriously, "Mommy, I'm hungry." I didn't doubt that was true. He hadn't eaten much of a lunch and David said he didn't eat much at dinner either.

I suppose a good parent would have told him to live with it because he hadn't eaten his dinner. And we did talk about the fact that he was hungry because he hadn't eaten. But then we negotiated some crackers and cheese. Specifically, he wanted some Penguin crackers (One of Aldi's knock-off versions of Goldfish, which I happen to think are quiet delicious.) and some "yellow cheese." I retrieved both and we proceeded to have the most adorable 11pm picnic in history.

We counted the penguins. We talked about their body parts. He was very amused that penguins don't have lips,  they have beaks. We compared penguin bellies to Robbie's belly. Then he informed me that my belly is "underneath Mommy's boobies." I laughed and laugh. He told me that a piece of my straw hair looked like an elephant trunk. We talked about the letters and numbers on the bag of penguins, and on his sheets.

At one point, I dropped a cracker and he picked it up automatically. I laughed and asked if he'd just stolen my cracker. He froze, looked very serious and shoved the cracker in my mouth. He's no thief!

Eventually he finished his snack and I asked if he wanted me to sing him a song before he went to bed. He asked for a song I don't know (I can't even remember the title now!) and seemed truly befuddled that I didn't know it. I gave him a list of choices and eventually he decided on Ants Go Marching In. He got a big kick out of helping with the "boom boom boom!" part. When it was done, he shouted "hooray! NOW WE CAN SNUGGLE!" and threw himself into the snuggle position.

I snuggled up to him and kissed his soft cheeks. I smelled his sweet (cheesy) breath and told him I loved him. We practiced the first verse of Ants Go Marching so he could learn the lyrics. Somehow we talked about shadows which lead to making shadow puppets until I finally said we both had to go night-night. I turned on the music in room and told him goodnight.

I haven't stopped smiling since. This may not have been the best week in parenting, but it's amazing what a half hour dimly-lit impromptu picnic can do for the soul. Suddenly I'm not so depressed after all.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back and Forth

How does she know? Seriously, can she smell me across the house?
I come in from work after a less-than-stellar day and David is looking blissful. The kids are quiet. Robbie's still awake, but mellowed out and quiet. Charlotte's actually sleeping.
And then she wasn't.
I'd gone in to snuggle Robbie for a minute and it's like she knew she wasn't getting equal treatment. The wailing began. I went in to soothe her a bit, she nodded back off. And then I put her down. And she wailed some more. I tried to soothe her w/o picking her up. Not happening. I got to the point I was literally leaned over the cosleeper nursing her hoping she'd nod off while already laying down and then we'd be golden. No luck.

Finally something in me snapped and I walked out. She was wailing that super sad cry, but I couldn't take it. David got what I call the oh-shit-eyes. He could see I was over the line. I started ranting about how I'd just love for one of my kids to JUST. FUCKING. SLEEP. How I'd LOVE to have a warm meal. He quietly asks if he should go rock her. My very reasoned reply was "I don't fucking care. I'm going to eat my cold dinner now." Sign me up for mother of the year.

He did rock her. She still didn't sleep, but at least I got to eat my cold meal. And then I took back over again. I nursed her a little more, she slept. It was that half sleep where she'd open her eyes just a crack just to make sure I hadn't dared to actually put her down. I watched her sleep a little bit. I kissed her cheeks and stroked her crazy red hair. I wondered how I could ever be so frustrated while such a little treasure. She sighed and snuggled against me. I pressed my cheek to hers and inhaled her scent. I love her so much.

Eventually I was able to sneak out of my bed and fold a load of laundry. And eventually even put her in her own bed. She woke again and nursed a little more, but went back to her own bed w/o too much fuss this time.

I wish I knew that right thing to do. I need her to sleep. I need to sleep. But I also know these moments are fleeting. Some day I'll sit in a mostly empty house and wish I had a baby to press my cheek against. I really do treasure these days. But crap, I'm tired.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Do you ever feel like you'll never, ever feel rested again?

I know that someday I will miss these days, but right now I'd sell a kidney for the opportunity to sleep for 12 hours uninterupted.

Suffice it to say that Charlotte still isn't sleeping through the night. If I get a 4 hour stretch, it's been a decent night. Once a month or so, she has one 5 hour stretch. Man, those nights are great.

I feel like a walking zombie. I fell asleep sitting up at my desk at work the other day. I had given up caffeine completely but I'm back on the sauce again. It was that or get fired.

Charlotte's cosleeping a lot just because I put her on the boob and go back to sleep. I wake up a lot of mornings with her stretched out across my body, using my boob as a pillow. Last week I woke up and found myself covered in hickeys. Apparently she couldn't find the nipple? It was funny but also a little scary because I slept completely through it.

Robbie's apparently a 4 year old insomniac. It doesn't matter if he naps or doesn't, or for how long, he is awake until at least 11:00 every night. Some nights it's 1am. And then still up by 8:30. He had a phase of getting out of bed and getting toys. I thought David was going to lose it. We seem to have broken him of that again but still tonight, he was laying in there giggling, talking, rolling around, telling himself stories until 11:30. I went in to try to settle him down a bit and he talked a mile a minute. I might have promised him orange ice cream in a fishy cup with a green straw if he would just got to sleep. Now I have to find a damned fishy cup.

They seem to be doing well otherwise. Robbie's adorable and chatty and loving the nanny. I need to get a video of him singing some songs. He's so funny.

Charlotte's awesome. She started pulling up today. She's crawling all over the place, eating anything she can get her hands on, babbling all the time. I think she'll be walking soon. That girl wants to move. She gets on her feet and just giggles. I can feel my hair going gray.

They're both awesome kids, but they DO. NOT. SLEEP.

I'd complain some more, but it's 2:24 am and Charlotte's waking up for what must be the 8th time tonight. Why did wet-nurses ever go out of fashion?



Monday, July 16, 2012


Ever have a week where you're convinced you've been cursed? Make you ready to burn some sage? That was last week.

There has been drama at work, including several coworkers complaining about my being allowed to pump at work (don't even get me started) and about me having been allowed to take a leave of absence (which is corporate policy for all new parents at my company.)

David found a large, hard lump in his mouth. Being me, I assumed it was cancer immediately. Turns out to be a bone over-growth and doesn't even require treatment.

The daycare is giving my new nanny hell because they say she's breaking her non-compete to work for me. (She quit before we ever spoke and the way that the non-compete is worded, she's not allowed to work for another business. Which I am not.) That culminated on Saturday with them saying they are going to sue her. She's a 21 year old student that they were paying minimum wage. To say I'm angry is the understatement of the decade.

But the real highlight of the week was Thursday night spent in the E.R.

After Charlotte was born, I had a lot of trouble with my blood pressure and was on medicine for a while. Fortunately, eventually, I was able to wean off and do just fine. I had been on lebetalol during that time and had all sort of cruddy side effects. I also suspected it was at least contributing to my anxiety issues, so I was glad to get off of it.

Well, Thursday morning I had a doctor's appointment for some ankle pain I've been having. It had suddenly gotten much worse and I was limping most of the time. (I told you it was a crappy week.) While I was there, my blood pressure was up. It was 150/90. After we talked about my ankle (brace, anti-inflammatories) she asked that I monitor my blood pressure a few times and call with the log in a week so she could see if I was going to need some meds again. No problem.

I had taken the kids to the (hated) daycare for the day, and I was off. I decided to take advantage of the free time and take a bath. When I got out, I felt funny. I thought maybe I got too hot, so I laid down across my bed. And felt worse. And worse. And worse. I took my blood pressure- 160/90. Well, hell.

So I meditated a bit, drank some water. 170/90. Shit.

David got home (that was the day he found out he didn't have oral cancer) and we decided to pick the kids up from daycare together and then we'd get some dinner. Halfway there, I asked if he minded if we didn't go to dinner. I REALLY didn't feel well.

Came back home, laid back down again. My heart felt like it was about to beat out of my chest. I couldn't quite catch my breath. I tried to meditate a little bit again, but I was so anxious, I couldn't focus. Took my blood pressure again- 181/111. Well, son of a bitch. That's the line you don't want to cross.

So I went out, told David I needed to go to the hospital, called my dad to come stay with the kids and off we went to the nearest E.R.

I hadn't been to an E.R. for myself since I was probably 19. I hope to go at least as many years before I see one again.

I went in, told the receptionist I was having chest pain and my blood pressure was up. They took me straight back and gave me an EKG. And then another. I was treated very well by the medical professionals. Unfortunately the hospital itself is a bit odd. Every time I'd have a test, I'd have to undress at least part-way. Then re-dress and go wait in the waiting room. And then they'd call me for another test, and I'd undress again. And then re-dress and go to the waiting room. Not so much fun for someone having trouble calming down.

Before it was all said and done, I had 3 EKGs, 3 round of blood work and a chest x-ray. I did eventually make it back to a room where I didn't have to get up and down a bunch of times. The nursing staff was lovely. The doctor was just so-so.

He came in a few times and looked at my readings (I got as high as 180/113 while there) and would say "well, it's certainly high..." But no one really did anything about it. I guess they had to rule out a heart attack before doing anything else? I don't know.

I kept breaking out into a sweat and then it would pass again. I felt horrible.

When the doctor finally decided I hadn't had a heart attack (yay!) and just needed some BP medicine, I reminded him that I was a nursing mother. His response was "Well, THAT certainly complicates things." Apparently I'm just a total pain in the ass.

I had specifically asked NOT to be put on Labetalol because of the weird side effects from before, but of course, he came back and said that was the "best" one for a nursing mother and that's all he'd give me. If I wanted something else, I'd have to follow up with my primary care doctor. Thanks, buddy.

All in all, I was only there about 4 hours, which really isn't bad, in my opinion. And after they gave me the IV of Labetalol, I felt MUCH better. I was very relieved I didn't have to stay and could go back home to my kids.

The unfortunate thing is that I'm now quite positive that the Labetalol was a large source of the anxiety I was having before. Because it's back. It gets close to sundown and it feels like the world is caving in on me. Eventually (hours later) it passes, but while it's going on, I just feel numb and distracted and joyless. It sucks.

I can't get into my regular doctor again until Tuesday. And they wouldn't change my med until they see me. So I'm stuck being on a medicine that keeps me alive but makes me feel dead. I just keep telling myself it's only a few days.

Hopefully this coming week will be better. No law suits, no hospitals, no anxiety. Someone get the sage!


Thursday, July 5, 2012


When I wrote my last post, I wasn't sure if I should. It had been several days of media blitz about the trial verdict and it was really swirling in my head a lot. It brought up a lot of bad memories. There were some nightmares, some I remembered, so I just woke up with that ghost-of-skeeve feeling. Finally I decided that I needed to do something to cleanse my mind. For me, the best thing I can do is to write it out. I write it on on paper (or computer) and write it out of my head. I wasn't sure what I was going to say. If it would even make any sense. Some posts, I sit down knowing what I'm going to say. Some posts, I just stare at the screen and watch what my fingers type as though they are a separate entity. That post was one of the latter.

Even after I had written it, I wasn't sure I would publish it. I rarely write blog posts and keep them to myself. I'm just not a terribly private person and if I take the time to write something, I'm usually prepared to share it. I don't write to be a professional mom-blogger or writer or to gain celebrity. (As I'm sure is evidenced by my multitudes of rambling contentless posts!) I rarely even re-read before I hit publish. I'll hit spell-check and fix those, but that's about as far as it goes. Basically I write for myself and if it helps or interests anyone else along the way, all the better.

This one, though, I did re-read it. The words really just flowed from me almost without thought. They were clearly the words of grief that had been swirling in my head since the media picked up the Sandusky case. Obviously they had longed to be free even more than I realized. After I reread it, I thought about deleting it. Or saving it just for myself. Or just sharing it privately with a few trusted friends and my therapist. But ultimately I thought to myself "you know, the one thing I've always tried to do is to be honest and transparent. No matter how ugly it is, I've shared it. I'm not going to stop now." and I hit "publish." Then I took a few deep breaths.

I shared with friends that I'd written and published it and was nervous about it. If someone had said something awful, I'm not sure I could have handled it. I'm pretty thick-skinned (HEY, NO FAT JOKES!) most of the time, but this is a would that is still very raw. Fortunately everyone was wonderful and caring and supportive. I got a few texts of support on top of the comments. It was touching.

And then...I got an email. From an editor at BlogHer. She would like to syndicate this post and pay me for my trouble. Would I accept that?


So I did. It took me a few days to fill out the paperwork (I went back to work in the mean time. Chaos! More on that later!) but it's now up. I was so touched and honored that something I wrote spoke to anyone, especially someone who actually know what they're doing. It was definitely some lemonade made out of the lemons of my emotions.

So, without further ado, I give you the link:

Thanks for reading and thanks for the support. Truly.


Monday, June 25, 2012


Jerry Sandusky.
The trial is over and he's been found guilty of atrocities that I don't have the stomach to list. All reasonable people are shocked and disgusted by his actions and saddened for his victims. While he will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, that is only a small drop of justice in a flood of evil. The sparks a lot of emotions in our country these days. I know it does for me. I am also a survivor of sexual abuse.

I honestly can't remember if I've talked about it on this blog before, but I'm going to talk about it now. I know that this isn't a topic that makes people comfortable. Or a topic that people expect to find on an infertility/parenting blog. But this space is for me and about me, and right now, it's what's on my mind.

The man who abused me was my grandmother's third husband. He and my grandmother married when I was 3 months old, so he was the only grandfather I ever knew. His name was CH (That is his real name.) but I always called him grandpa.

I don't know when it started. Before my memory, that is all I can tell you. I can remember being somewhere around 3 or 4 and learning in church that those kind of touches were only for married people and telling him he had to stop because it was a sin. He told me God was okay with it because we loved each other. I would later learn that he was an Atheist.

When I was about 8 or 9, I was playing, hiding behind a built in laundry hamper at their house when I found some papers. Of course, I read them. They were court transcripts. My grandma and CH had foster children for a while. He had molested two of the girls they had. They reported it. And here were the transcripts of most of the interviews. He denied it, of course. They had been removed from their home because their dad was molesting them. He told the interviewer that they must have been having flashbacks.

My grandma swore it wasn't possible. They'd never been alone, whatever.

I asked him about it one day and he told me "they wanted [him] to." I asked him what he would do if I ever told. He said "I would deal with it because I love you that much." I took that to mean that nothing would change. There was no point in telling.

As I got older, things escalated. I would stay with them in the summers sometimes, or long weekends. If I wanted money to go to the pool or something, I had to perform for it. Every moment alone, I tried to cover my developing body because it attracted too much attention. But I went along with it, too. I pleased him because that's the way it had always been. In the same way that a child does the dishes or mows the lawn to please her parents, I performed sexual acts.

For a few years we lived several states away and I was safe. It was a relief, but at the same time, I missed them. Despite the abuse, he was my grandpa and I loved him. (Gosh, those words hurt me more to type than all the rest of it.) When I was 14, my dad decided to go back to college, so we moved back to Illinois and in with them. The abuse started up again immediately.

One day, a friend at school told me that she had been abused and been to counseling. I told her that I was being touched, too. She told her mom, who called the school, who called the state, who called my dad. That friend probably saved my life.

The telling was hell. The school counselor called me in and asked me if it was true. I told her that it was, but tried to lessen it by saying it had only happened twice. In my mind, I didn't want to say I had been lying to my friend, and I knew that it only happening once wasn't believable, but somehow I thought it happening twice was. (Magical thinking of a child, here.) As there is (was?) no statue of limitations on sexual abuse in my state, it still had to be reported, despite my pleas not to tell my dad.
She said she would talk to the state and see what had to happen.

When I showed up for the meeting with the state interviewer, my dad was in the room already. No one had told me he would be there. I had a whole letter written explaining why they shouldn't tell him. I burned it later. When I saw him sitting in the small office, I turned to run away.

I don't know where I was going, I just needed to go away. The school counselor grabbed me and physically pushed me back into the office. My dad stood and just hugged me for a long time. I just sobbed.

Then the interview started. I couldn't look anyone in the eye. I was 14 years old. I couldn't even say the word "tampon" in front of my dad yet and the counselor wanted me to now answer if CH inserted his fingers or penis into my vagina. I couldn't answer through the sobs. My school counselor had been warned not to speak during the interview, but she broke decorum to ask if perhaps this would be easier if my dad wasn't there. I just nodded.  My dad immediately stood and left.

After the interview was over, I had to go back to class. As it happened, it was lunch time. I walked in and the school bully started making rude comments to me (as usual) and before I could decide what else to do, I dumped my carton of chocolate milk over his head, getting me sent to the Principal's office where I had to apologize. The best part of that whole day was my principal telling me I ought not to do that because by the end of the day, the bully was going to smell bad. I hope he did.

That night, my dad picked me up from school and asked me if I wanted to prosecute. I did, but instead of saying so, I asked him what he thought. He said he thought that CH was a sick man and that a trial wouldn't do anyone any good. I just wanted my life to go back to normal, so I said I agreed. I have regretted that moment for the last 21 years.

The next day, the state called and said that they didn't have enough evidence to prosecute on their own, but that the accusations were founded. If we didn't immediately move out of my grandparents' house, the state would remove me from my father's care and put me into the foster system.

My dad came to me and told me that he was going to have to tell my grandma. Did I want to be there when he told her? No. I didn't. He went to the basement where she was watching TV. I went to my room and closed the door. CH was at work. I don't even think I cried while I listened to my grandmother wail. Even then, I knew she should have protected me.

The next day we moved into a motel. We ran out of money a week later. We lived another week or so in a homeless shelter. That was where I lived during Thanksgiving 1990. My dad applied for state aid and we found a crappy apartment to live in while my dad finished college and worked as much as he could. We still ate dinner with my grandparents every night. In convincing everyone that it really had happened only twice, my dad thought I was safe now.

A few times after that, CH tried to touch me again. I told him I would scream. Finally I had a voice.

My grandmother occasionally asked me to detail what had happened. I guess she also wanted to know if he had inserted his fingers or penis into my vagina. I refused to discuss it. She assured me that I had certainly misconstrued a pat on the butt. I assured her that I hadn't.

When I was 17 or so, she again begged me to tell her what happened. Pleaded, "WHY won't you tell me?" So I did. In excruciating detail, I told her every single thing. She sobbed and I seethed. Why did either of us need to think about it? Why couldn't she just believe me? They still stayed married.

When I was 19, she decided she would move back to her hometown of Indianapolis. She told CH that he could move with her, or they could get divorced. He didn't want to move, so they got divorced. I was relieved.

And then Thanksgiving came, and she invited him to have dinner with us again. My dad broke it to me gently and asked if I'd rather not go. We had dinner at a local restaurant that year. It was weird. I decided then that I would go to family dinners as usual. I didn't want him to keep me out of my traditions. So for a few more years, I continued to have holiday meals with him.

Somewhere along the way, I told my dad the truth about how long it had really gone on. That didn't go so well either. He didn't want to think about it. Kept asking me why I was telling him. I guess he felt about that the way I felt about my grandmother's questions. At the time I told him I just wanted him to know the truth. Now I realize that I wanted him to hate CH as much as I did. It hurt me that he didn't.

I got counseling for a little while. Not long, but enough to do me some good.

CH died last year. He left me a small amount of money. My dad asked if I wanted it, thinking maybe I didn't. I told him that no amount of money could undo what was done, but the money would be put to good use. I guess it was a small amount of justice in a pool of evil.

Most of the time, I'm okay. I have my moments. The right sound can set me off. For a long time, the smell of Head and Shoulders shampoo would make me gag. I started using it on purpose to disassociate the scent from CH.

Mostly, it's made me sensitive to the fragility of children. Everyone thought CH was "just the greatest guy." Everyone just loved him. Those are the guys you have to look out for. The ones who can charm the kids. When I met David, I was relieved that he was so uncomfortable around children. He would stare blankly at a child who talked to him. That's not a guy who is talking a kid into doing things she didn't want to.

When stories like the Sandusky story come up, I have trouble, though. I know the pain of those boys. I read about the boys still going to the football camps even though they knew what else came with it. I think about asking for money for ice cream even though I knew what it would cost me. The guilt and shame come back with a vengeance. Intellectually I know that he was the adult with power, but I can't help but think "if only..." sometimes.

I look at Dottie Sandusky and see my grandmother. Willful ignorance, to be sure. It must be nice to have the luxury not to think about things one doesn't want to see. Jerry's victims, CH's victims, all the victims of predators out there, we don't have a choice.

I share this story because it's truth. Because Jerry Sandusky is not the only one. Because this blog is about parenting and about hope. I hope that children are safer now because Jerry Sandusky is in jail. CH is dead. Maybe Jerry will join him in hell soon.


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Up all night

Thank you for everyone's thoughts on the sleep situation. It's improved a little. She has gone 4ish hours between wakings quite a few times. That may not sound like much, but it's a vast improvement over 2 hour wakings.
Last night she actually sent to bed at 8, slept 4 hour increments all the way until NOON today. Of course, I'm pretty sure she's fighting off a bug. Robbie had hand, foot and mouth last weekend. Charlotte never got the fever, but she got the sores.

And tonight, I'm paying for it. She went to sleep at 8 just fine and dandy but at 10:30, I made the mistake of opening an envelope and it woke her up. It's now 2am and she's STILL up. I rocked her for an hour, then made David rock her for an hour, and now it's been another 90 minutes and she's wide awake. It's triply bad because I think I'M fighting off the bug (I have a low grade fever and feel awful) AND am having an anxiety spike (brought on by the bug? I don't know.)

I finally just gave up and brought her out to the living room to play for a bit. Trying to "reset" her for bedtime. She's DEFINITELY not hungry (seriously, my nipples are sore from trying to nurse her to sleep for hours...) I think she's just overtired and can't wind down. I've tried all my usual tricks, rocking, singing, white noise, skin to skin, co-sleeping, letting her cry a bit and then rescuing her.. no luck.

She's currently in the floor taking advantage of playing with Robbie's toys while he's not around to be upset about it.

Speaking of Robbie- tonight I got to experience my first sibling "argument." Sort of. Robbie tripped over his own feet, then turned around to yell at Charlotte (who was nowhere near him) "Baby Charlotte! Stop it! That's not nice!" I managed to stifle the giggle and tell him Charlotte hadn't caused him to trip. He's been quite a handful lately, but I'll discuss that another time.

Charlotte has now laid herself down and is attempting to roll herself over. She's on a blanket that is slippery on the wood floor, so she's having trouble. Hoping that will wear her out.

The anxiety flair is annoying. I honestly had been doing so well that I had started to space out my doses of Paxil a bit. I've gained a TON of weight and I know the Paxil is just making it worse, so I'd like to come off of it when I can. I had gotten to where I was only taking it ever 2nd day. But today has made me rethink that plan. It sucks. I mean, it's great that the Paxil works, but I don't want to rely on it forever. 

In any case, I'm getting through it. It's still not as bad as it was during what I think of as The Dark Time, and since I've come out to the living room, turned on all the lights and am writing a bit, it is abating a bit. I'm managing. But I don't like it one bit. A good night's sleep would do me a world of good, but apparently that isn't to be.

Hmm, Charlotte has now given up rolling over and is laying her head on the floor. Maybe she's finally ready to sleep.

P.S. If you're having an anxiety flair and not feeling well, don't Google. I'm pretty much convinced that every symptom known to man can mean cancer.

Friday, June 8, 2012


I am now the mother of a 4 year old and an almost 7 month old. Both were premature. One profoundly so with lasting issues. We've been through surgeries, therapies, specialists, and experts of all kinds. And if you ask me what the hardest part of parenthood is, this is what I'll tell you- the lack of sleep.

Robbie was a horrific sleeper. Awful. I know, I know, "but he had a lot going on." Everyone tells me that. Let me tell you, that doesn't help at 5 in the morning when you've had 2 hours of sleep in the last 36. Reason goes out the window at that point. Yes, he was in pain, yes he was hungry, yes he refused to eat. I totally got that. But I needed sleep. He did, too. After a certain point, your brain stops functioning well. I can remember being home alone with Robbie one afternoon and going to the kitchen. The refrigerator door was open. I don't mean "not closed all the way." I mean WIDE open. There was no one to blame but myself. I was so tired I forgot to close it. And then didn't notice.

Things didn't get better until he got his feeding tube and we did some sleep training. We did a sort of modified Ferber method. Once he got his feeding tube, he slept pretty well once you got him there. But every single night was at least 2 hours to get him down. I tried all the strategies and it was not to be. But 2 nights of Ferber and he went down w/o a fuss. He's been a fantastic sleeper ever since.

Charlotte started off as a great sleeper. Since she was early and very small, I wasn't allowed to let her sleep more than 3 hours for a while. I had to set an alarm because she wanted. When she started gaining weight a little better, the doctor said we could go 5 hours at one stretch, but 3 the rest. I still had to set an alarm. Occasionally I would sleep through it and she'd go 6 on her own. When she started gaining weight like crazy, I let her sleep as much as she wanted. She would regularly go 8-10 hours at a stretch.

Her naps weren't great, usually only around 45 minutes or so, but since we were getting 12-14 at night (total) it was no big deal.

But then that stopped. It was around the time I moved her out of the rock-n-play and into the co-sleeper. I thought it was that. But even going back to the rock-n-play didn't help. So we're back to the co-sleeper.
She goes to sleep great. You can't keep her eyes open past about 8:30. Really about 8:00, she shows the signs of readiness for sleep. I nurse her one last time, she passes out while nursing, I lay her down and she's out. For about an hour. MAYBE 2. What comes next is anyone's guess.

She might wake up and eat every hour until midnight and then sleep a 2 or 3 hour stretch from midnight to 3, then until 6. Or she might wake up at 10:00 and be awake and perky and playing until 2am. Those nights are the worst. She's cute about midnight, but by 1am, she's getting the stern mommy voice, "Charlotte Corrina! GO TO SLEEP." She gets overtired and will not settle down. I've done music, rocking, stroking, white noise, dark room, light room, singing, and on and on. When she gets like that, all you can do is wait it out.

For a while, the every 2 or 3 hour thing was okay. But after a while, your body just needs a good long (4 hours? 5? anything!) stretch of sleep. What usually ends up happening is that about 5am, I nurse her and put her back to bed and she cries. and I soothe her and she sleeps for 10 minutes and then cries. And I soothe her and she sleeps for 10 minutes and then cries. After 4 or 5 times of that, I am so exhausted I just bring her to bed with me. And she sleeps. Sometimes until 8, but sometimes until 10. This morning she woke up at 6:30, went back to sleep at 8:30 and slept until noon. She always seems to do better in the early morning hours than at night.

I honestly don't know what to do. I've tried not picking her up and she just gets hysterical. Because we have a co-sleeper, I can literally lay my upper body and head in it with her. She's not alone or cold. But she wants to be wrapped in my arms. And I get that, I do. But I worry about SIDS. Our bed is pretty cushy, we have too many pillows, and while I'm a very light sleeper, David is not. Co-bedding is not something I really want to do. But I don't know what to do.

I'm beyond tired. And I go back to work full time in 3 weeks. I'm going to have to be able to get some sleep at some point. Tell me, readers, what would you do? What have you done? I'm open to suggestion here.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012


This is the time of year that always brings a lot of emotions with it.

Friday was the 10th anniversary of my first date with David. I can't believe it's been a decade! It's funny how it can feel so recent but at the same time feel like he was always here.

Saturday was a big one- one year since Robbie has his g-tube removed. A full year of eating and drinking on his own. Tonight we came in the door from visiting my dad and he said "I'm hungry! I need a snack!" I think it's the first time he's ever said the words "I'm hungry." (Though he does tell me his "tummy is rumbly" on occasion.) Of course, his stoma (tube-site) is still leaking, so I'm expecting surgery in the coming weeks to have to sew it up. Can't say I'm loving that, but I really would like to truly leave these days behind.

On Thursday, Robbie will be 4. Honestly, I feel like I'm typing that wrong. FOUR years? I know it's cliche, but where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday we were in the NICU fighting for his life. Just today I was going through some videos and watched one of him in the NICU. It's still fresh in my mind. I can still tell you where I was sitting when I took the video, what I was feeling, what I was thinking. And here we are, 4 years later.

Of course, with that one comes the memories of the days leading up to his birth. The day I was admitted to the hospital, for example. That's today, the 29th. It feels surreal to know that 4 years ago at this time, I was laying in bed at home with the worst stomach ache of my life, but didn't yet know that stomach ache was about to change the course of that life so dramatically.

This year (so far) has been easier than some. It helps that we've been incredibly busy, so I can't focus on it too much. And it helps that Charlotte is here now. She re-opened some of those wounds, but healed a lot of them as well. And Robbie is doing amazingly well. That helps, too.

I know his teacher seems to think he's a pain in the ass, and you know, he IS 3, sometimes he is, but he's also an incredibly bright, adorable, funny, giggly little monster.

At 4, he knows all of his ABC's and the sounds they make and even some of the words they start. He knows his numbers up to 20 and some other numbers sporadically. He knows all of his colors, and he knows shapes even I have to stop and think about sometimes. (Trapezoid? Heptagon? Seriously?) He is absolutely fascinated by clocks. He tells me about every one he sees. When we go shopping, he has to stop at the clock section and touch them, spin the dials, read the numbers, and describe them. 

He is the same way about air conditioners lately. He can tell you the air conditioners blow cold air and heaters blow hot air. And he knows all about vents and air "preturns" and how the fans spin.

He'll tell you that his favorite breakfast is bacon, but his favorite food is chocolate. He loves trucks, especially if they are red. Pretty much anything that has wheels is pretty awesome, too, but if it's red, it's that much better. His grandma has a new car and he tells us all the time about "grandmas red new car!"

He adores his little sister. Today he walked in the room where she was and said "Baby Charlotte, you're so handsome!" And he hugs her and kisses her a hundred times a day. He gets told all day long to be gentle, but not because he's mean, but because his affections are sometimes a bit aggressive.

He loves to be tickled more than life itself and lately has taken to tickling me. When something makes him laugh, he says through is laughter "that's SO funny!" I guess to make sure I know.

My little boy who spent 2 years in physical therapy loves to jump to the point of exhaustion. He told me the other day he didn't want a birthday party (sorry kid, the invitations have gone out!) He just wants "a bouncing house and to find Olivia and Mason." (The children of one of my best friends in the world.) I'm not sure if Olivia and Mason are lost, but he definitely said we needed to find them.

At 4, he still isn't potty trained, but did pee in the real toilet for the first time tonight, so there is hope yet. His social skills aren't quite up to the same stage as his peers, but he likes kids. When he went back to daycare after Charlotte's quarantine, he said "YAY YAY! We're going to the kids' house!"

He's definitely not perfect, but I still think he's an amazing kid. I wish that I could have had a snapshot of today 4 years ago. If I could have just seen his smiling face, I would have known everything was going to be okay. Because it is. The emotions are strong, but as many scary, troubling memories as I have, I have 4 times as many happy, satisfying ones.

Robbie got his G-tube because of a diagnosis of failure-to-thrive, caused (at least in-part) by his prematurity. I wasn't sure we'd ever survive either of those. But we have. We are all thriving.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Catching up

Where does the time go? I swear I just wrote a blog post yesterday but it's really been nearly 3 weeks. I feel very neglectful. I need to do a blog-a-day challenge or something. Though I think I'd need a list of topics so I don't sit staring at the white square all night.

Anyway, onto an actual topic.

Today sucked. Part of it was my own fault because I forgot to take my Paxil 2 days in a row. Bad, bad, bad idea. By this afternoon my head was spinning. Definitely not a drug to stop taking cold turkey. I always take it first thing in the morning and the last two mornings were very hectic and I forgot. I need to set a remind on my phone.

However, the rest of it was not really my fault. Charlotte is trying to kill me and Robbie...well.. Robbie's just 3.

Charlotte is now sitting up quite well. You can't just sit her down and wander off because if she gets too excited, she will topple, but for the most part, she's a sitter. At her 6 month check up last week (YES. SIX MONTHS.) her doctor said she was advanced in gross motor skills. Holy shit. That's a new experience. But because she is sitting well, she could no longer sleep in the rock-n-play. It's angled just enough that sometimes she can sit herself up in it. That's not safe. So, I've been transitioning her to the cosleeper. Yeah, that's not going so well.

She went from sleeping from 8am-10pm eating maybe 3-4 times total to going to be at 8 and then being up 6-8 times before 7. And most nights one of those times is up for HOURS. Last night she went to bed at 8 and slept until 11. I thought maybe we would have a good night. But then she was up at 11 until after 2am. And again at 5 and at 6 and up for the day at 7:30. I am one tired momma.

Then I had Robbie's parent teacher conference this morning. That was not fun, either. The short version is that Robbie is a pain the ass with delayed writing skills. It was seriously an hour about how stubborn and willful he is. At various points during the meeting, I had to assure her that 1) He does not have a hearing impairment 2) He is not having absence seizures 3) He does not have O.D.D. and 4) he does not have autism. Yes, he's been tested for most of those, and ODD (oppositional defiance disorder) is way out of line. Even she agreed that he doesn't disobey to be hateful. He just tunes out things he doesn't want to hear.

If you call him for dinner and he's playing and doesn't want to come, he will stare off into space like he doesn't hear you. You can go right up to him and talk and it's like he sees through you. You can wave your hand, snap your fingers and get nothing. I worried about absence seizures, too. But.. if you say a magic word, he's right with you. You say "want some chocolate?" and suddenly he can hear JUST FINE. He's just that stubborn and convincing.

Apparently he also doesn't like to participate in group activities. He prefers to play alone a lot of the times. If he's in the right mood, he will play with the others, but still tends to parallel play rather than play along with his classmates. He is also bossy. If she tells the class to quiet down, he turns around and starts yelling "Everyone needs to be quiet!"

He doesn't stay on tasks he doesn't like. He doesn't like to write, so she has to stay on him to spend time in the writing center. He can't really draw an R, so she's concerned about his fine motor skills. We talked about a few things to help with that. (scissors, play-doh, etc.)

The only good thing she had to say is that he is very smart. He knows all his letters, numbers, letter sounds, shapes, colors etc. Of course, that came with the caveat that he's starting to refuse to answer her questions when she asks him to prove that. (refusing to count, etc.) So even that wasn't ALL good. All in all, it was a crappy meeting. I got in the car and cried.

I declined her offer to have an OT evaluate him. I have no interest in starting therapy again. I really don't think he would qualify anyway, and even if he did, it would likely be a very short amount of time each week and not worth the trouble. And frankly, therapy sucked. Hell, I purposely didn't ask for a copy of today's meeting notes because I don't want to see it all in writing.

I think Robbie is amazing. Yes, he is stubborn. And sure, we see some of that at home. But he responds well to a time-out, and is overall a happy, energetic, intelligent, affectionate kid. He does great in one-on-one situations, or maybe one-on-two. He just doesn't do well in groups. I think he's an introvert. (Which I told her and she said "Hold on, I want to write that down." like it was some sort of amazing thing I came up.) It hurts when someone clearly doesn't like your kid very much.

So, I spent most of the afternoon moping and feeling sorry for both myself and Robbie. Of course, by the afternoon, I had worked myself out of sadness and into anger. I honestly think she's being too harsh. After speaking with some people with more experience in his age range and going through some developmental milestones, I think she was being overly critical. And it was unneccesssary.

I'm not sure how I plan to handle it. I don't want to be one of those parents who thinks their little angel can do no wrong. I KNOW she is right about some of it. He IS stubborn and obstinate. Sometimes I want to throttle him, too. But he's not mean. He doesn't hit, he doesn't bite, he doesn't scratch. He'll occasionally defend himself by pushing instead of using words, but it's not even like he just goes over to push someone for the pure joy of it. And he's well liked. One of the other teachers told me that the kids fight over who gets to play with him. When I brought that up she said "well, kids are forgiving." That was just mean.

He is only with this teacher for 2 hours a day, fortunately. But she's the only preschool teacher there, so if I want him to have preschool, it's with this teacher. Period.

I'm still mulling over my options. Feel free to weigh in.

The afternoon was okay but hectic. A little shopping with Charlotte and then getting Robbie from school.
He didn't nap today and decided to live up to his teacher's expectations and was terrible tonight. There were tears at dinner because apparently I gave him the wrong butter for his bread. I finally figured out (after taking him to the fridge and demanding he show me) that he wanted one of those Papa Johns dipping sauces. Which was fine, and he took but after about 2 bites, again insisted he had the wrong butter.

I ended up giving him a bath and putting him to bed early. He wasn't happy about it but we got through it. And then just before I put him down, the stoma (the hole in his stomach) exploded. I don't even know how else to say it. A ball of infection came out. It smells horrible and was just plain disgusting. Robbie insisted that nothing hurts. He has to fever or anything, so I don't know. But it's 2 days until it's been out for a year (!) and now this happens? That's not so good.

So of course, more things to worry about.

All in all, it was not Robbie's day. I don't really know what to think about the teacher situation. I don't want to be the parent that thinks the teacher is out to get him and my kid does not wrong. (Believe me, I know he can be a pain.) But I also felt like it was unneccessarily negative. Fortunately there's only a week of school left and then he's free for the summer with teacher who seem to enjoy him (or at least, they fake it a lot better.) But then there's preschool next year, too. Same teacher.

I don't know. My head is all jumbled and parenting is damned difficult.


Friday, May 4, 2012

They're just boobs.

This weekend, someone I met commented that when you have children, whatever age those children are, it's the most interesting age. I thought that was rather astute. I certainly tend to tune into news stories or blog posts about things involving children around 4 years old or around 5 months old. (Sometimes this is bad. I don't even want to get started on some of the news stories.) Tonight I was thinking that maybe this is why the breast vs bottle war continues among mothers. There are always women having babies and babies usually eat (you know, except Robbie...) so that's the most interesting thing in our lives just then.

Obviously my experiences with both kids has been dramatically different. There were similarities. Robbie's first time at the breast went surprisingly well, as did Charlotte's. Both of them hate(d) bottles. But in the long run, drastically different. Robbie hated food. He'd cry because he was hungry, eat 1/2 oz and then scream because he was in pain from eating. It didn't mater whether that was from the boob, the bottle or eventually a tube. Charlotte? Well, she loves to eat. She doesn't want any manufactured nipple, but she's never met a boobie she didn't like.
This monkey's nose looks like a nipple.
She keeps trying to eat it.

When Robbie was still eating by mouth, we were in quarantine, so we never really had to deal with people's comments in public. I don't know if anyone would have said anything about his bottles or not. By the time we were allowed to take him out, he was 100% tube-fed. Rarely did anything about it, but we definitely got some strange looks. I couldn't fault any one for it. It's not every day you see a toddler with a feeding bag attached to him. I didn't like the stares, but I understood them. We would occasionally get a question about the tube in his stomach- always by kids. I didn't mind that at all. They would ask what it was, I would explain as simply as I could and they'd either accept that and move on, or look confused, but still move on.

Pumping was another matter altogether. I went back to work for a few weeks while Robbie was still in the NICU. I wanted to save my leave time for when he came home. That meant having to pump at work. To say it was a pain is an understatement.

Firstly, my boss acted like I was asking for a corner office with a view when I needed a place to go. It didn't matter that there were 2 completely unused offices in our space at that time. I was told I had to submit a request for a job accommodation with our disability department to be allowed to pump at work. When I called to do just that, they had no idea what I was talking about. I spent a couple of weeks jockeying between HR and management to figure out who would officially give me permission to do something that I was legally allowed to do (it was protected by Illinois state law at that time.)
My boss repeatedly made comments about my "special" privilege and frequently passed along complaints from my coworkers. Apparently they felt it was unfair that I "got" to lug my hospital grade pump into a room and spend every second of my break time hooked up to a vacuum.

One day I replied to yet another email from my boss with a complaint from a coworker about my "special treatment" with a copy of the state law permitting me to pump at work. I also advised that if I had to make another call concerning the matter, it would be to a lawyer to uphold my rights. I was finally granted one of the empty offices to pump in.

But that didn't stop my coworkers. There was one who always seemed to need something from the office I was pumping in when I was in there. Nevermind that sign on the door, the blanket hung on the window, or the fact that the light was on in an unoccupied office. I'd think maybe she just really wanted to see my boobs, except that she was the same one who liked to make snide comments, too.

Once when I was walking out of the office with my bottles in hand, she stopped, sneered and said "that's ALL you got? That's not worth it." In my mind, I knew it was worth it. With all of Robbie's digestive issues, breast milk was the only thing he could even sort of tolerate. But outwardly, it really did hurt my feelings and I had to fight the urge to cry. Fortunately a coworker who pumped for her premature twins heard her and stepped in and assured me I was doing a good job.

The supportive comments came, too. They were always so appreciated. It's funny the difference a tone can make. "You're still pumping?" could mean "Wow, you're hard core! Good job!" or it could mean "You freak! I can't believe you're still doing that!"

Now that I'm nursing Charlotte, it's different but the same. You really will never please all of the people all of the time. Again, no one has said anything out-rightly rude to me, but there are plenty of strange looks.

Last month I needed to feed Charlotte while out shopping with my mother-in-law. We were at a Target that I wasn't familiar with so I just looked for the first place I could sit down. That was their snack area. I chose a corner table and turned towards the wall. I draped a blanket over me and fed Charlotte. I was the only person in the area at that time, but at one point I saw a worker come out from the back and look at me. She looked puzzled, mostly. Then she went to the back again. A minute later, she came back with another worker. Both of them stared at me for a long minute. They had a conversation, looking back and forth from each other to me. Neither looked very happy.

I was on the other side of the area and couldn't hear them. Maybe they were discussing what a treasure it was that I was nursing my baby. Maybe they were wishing I'd get the hell out of their area so they could go home. But it sure looked like they were saying "oh my gosh, look at that lady with the audacity to feed her child in public!" It was the first time I'd felt like I shouldn't be doing what I was doing.

There were lots of times when I got an uncomfortable reaction. People obviously avoiding eye contact with me, willing themselves not to notice what was happening. People exclaiming about leaving the room while I did that. It was usually said as though they were leaving for my benefit, though it never really bothered me.

I cover as much as possible. It's not as easy as it looks. Charlotte hates a blanket over her head and will tear it down in a second. It's difficult to keep the blanket out of her hands and the boob in her mouth at the same time, especially in public where I'm often balancing on a chair w/o arms or anything to rest Charlotte's body on. But I try. I almost always end up scolding Charlotte and holding a blanket with my teeth for at least a minute while I get situated.

At home, I usually ask my female guests if they mind, and if anyone does or we have male guests I cover or take her to my bedroom. It doesn't make me uncomfortable but I don't want other people to be so, either. I'm not looking to make a statement. I just want to feed my baby.

This last weekend, I actually had my first positive, public reaction. I was on a bench at the mall, covered, feeding Charlotte. The bench was perpendicular to the walkway, so I wasn't completely in everyone's sight, but I wasn't hidden either. Most people walked by completely oblivious. Two twenty-something boys at a table nearby seemed amused, but I couldn't tell you if they were amused by the feet sticking out of the blanket or that there was a boob just one layer of fabric away from being seen.

And then two women came around a corner and caught my eye. One of them smiled and nodded approvingly. Honestly, she may as well have hugged me. It shouldn't matter, really. I tell myself not to worry about what the naysayers think, so why should the opposite matter, either? But it did feel good. I don't know if she was nodding at the breastfeeding or just at a baby in general. But either way, I enjoyed it. Again, not trying to make a statement- I just want to feed my baby.

Of course, then there are moments that I wonder if I should be making a statement. One day when I picked Robbie up from school this week, the teacher who will be Charlotte's came over to coo at her a little. We were chatting a little and I mentioned that I was having trouble getting her to take a bottle. The teacher looked shocked. "Oh.. are you uh.. " she patted her chest, "... feeding her.. from... there.."
I raised an eyebrow. "Yes, I'm nursing."
She said "oh, um, I can't say that word.. you know.. around the kids."
I said "You can say nursing. Nursing. Yes, I'm nursing her, still."
She said "oh yes, I can say that word. Just not the other word."

I was genuinely dumbfounded. I mean, first, yes, I'm still nursing at 5 months. It's not like she's 5 years old. Five months seems like a reasonable amount of time. And then.. she can't say breast? Really? That is what they are called, right? What if the children have chicken breasts for lunch one day. I was stunned that a grown, educated woman was so uncomfortable with the word breast.

I couldn't help but think of a day not long ago (I was pregnant with Charlotte at the time) when I was sitting on the floor putting Robbie's shoes on to take him home. One of his classmates came up to me, patted my chest and declared "These are your boobies!"  The teachers in the room froze, waiting for reaction. I couldn't help but chuckle inwardly. To the girl, I just shrugged and agreed. "Yep, they are. Go play, you." It's funny that a 3 year old is smarter than a grown up.

I guess what really gets me is that we spend so much time thinking about it. Everyone seems to have an opinion. And more importantly, everyone seems to think their opinion should be shared by everyone else. Breast is best! Formula is great! 

Yes, I have chosen to feed both of my children breast milk. Robbie got formula mixed with his (once we found one he could take.) I had hoped to combo-feed Charlotte, but Miss Picky Pants won't even take breast milk out of a bottle, so she's a boob girl. That's what worked for me and my circumstances.

Because this has worked for me, I sometimes have to feed my baby in public. And there are more opinions. Take that to the bathroom where it belongs! At least cover up! You can't infringe on my rights!

When I'm trying to feed Charlotte w/o flashing everyone, not because I am uncomfortable, but because I don't want to make others uncomfortable, I can't help but wonder why it matters. Why do people feel so strongly about this? What makes someone tell a woman to cover or leave? What makes someone tell a mother that they're feeding their baby poison in a bottle? What gives people the audacity to boss people around that way? I don't think I'll ever understand the rudeness.

I think we take an interest because we like babies. (Not all of us. I know!) And the majority of people have a baby at some point or another, which makes them interesting. It's familiar. I just wish we could all accept each other's feeding choices and support each other instead of trying to drag each other down. A smile goes a long way. Next time you see a mom feeding a baby- either by breast or by bottle, don't be a boob- offer some encouragement.