ANDMom

And then there were four

So. Well then. Yes.

One night last month, our dog who had been in declining health for some time, fell down and was unable to get back up. We had been caring for him for so long – the potty accidents, the food scavenging, the constant licking – knowing he was at the end of his life, but not knowing, really, how or when it would end. And suddenly there it was.

We nursed him through the night, and loved on him all morning. And then we said goodbye, because there was nothing left to do.

It was one of the hardest days of my life. He had been my every day companion for 13 years. He got up with me in the morning, greeted me at the door every single time I had to go out, and went to bed with me at night. And suddenly, he was gone. The day before I was yelling at him for eating the entire loaf of bread, and I wished with all my heart I could just have him back to feed him all the steak and bread and food he wanted. So many regrets, and yet, I know we were doing the best we could with a very frustrating situation.

Coming home was hard with no wagging tail at the door. The bedroom felt empty. The house was no longer home.

It was clear, we are dog people, and dog people need a dog. Even if it’s the least logical and sane decision, we had to. And so the puppy hunt began.

We’ll just say, it made doing an IVF cycle seem like cake. You’d think when you want to adopt a mutt from a shelter you can just walk in and get one, yes? No. No no no.

Many of them required a fenced yard (which we do not have).

Others will not adopt to families with children under 10/8/5 (which we do have).

All of the require that if you are adopting a puppy, someone be home all day (not a problem).

Most of of them required an application detailing, among other things:

  • Your employment history and status.
  • How long the dog will be left alone during the day.
  • Where the dog will be when left alone.
  • Where the dog will get exercise.
  • What the dog will eat. (One required you feed only raw homemade diets.)
  • The full vaccination history of every other pet in your home, as well as the details of why any pets you had previously were no longer with you. (Did you surrender? What was the cause of death? Did you euthanize?)
  • 2 personal references.
  • Vet reference.
  • And a home visit.

Yes, a home visit. To adopt a dog. From an animal shelter. WTF?

And the icing on the cake is that MOST of them did not have dogs locally. You adopt the dog based on a picture and then they ship the dog to you. Right. That’s sane, sure.

I was like “let’s just have another baby, fuck.” So all these requirements narrowed us down to 2 shelters, because I’m not hoop jumping. One kept getting unappealing puppy shipments (isn’t this sounding HORRIBLE?) and the other had really nice looking dogs … but gave us shit about having kids. Oh no you can’t see PUPPIES until we’ve had them for at least 2 weeks to get to know them!

So. I wrote that shelter a long letter saying, basically, I have 30+ years experience with dogs, we know what we’re doing, how can you say you’re SAVING dogs when you’re forcing them to live in a shelter longer than necessary because YOU don’t think they’ll do well with my family whom you have never met. The. Hell. So but it worked and she was like “sure” and we loaded up the car and went to get us a dog.

And we did.

2016-04-21 15.58.26

He was older than we wanted. And he was bigger than we wanted – by a lot. And not even remotely what we were looking for. But. We were torn between two puppies and when it came down to it, I could not leave him there. The woman expected us to come back in a day or two to get him and I was like “nope, not walking away and leaving him here thinking he was rejected. He needs a home, and he needs a home tonight.”

And so. He came home with us.

It’s been an adjustment. We had our honeymoon phase, and now we’re in the “testing our limits” phase. My arms are covered with bites and scratches, and I am exhausted.

Honestly, it’s like having another child in so many ways.  So many people say you stop feeling that way once you’ve had kids, but I never felt like having our old dog was like having a child – having a puppy with small kids though does. The constant demands on my body and time. The discipline it takes to be precisely consistent.  Needing to arrange care for him for the next few months on days when I’ll be out for excessively long. The kids are all home this week on vacation, and I feel like I have 4 kids instead of 3.

It’s been good, but it’s been hard. I know it will get better, but it’s not better NOW. (It also does not help that we had to get a big tree taken down and they utterly destroyed our yard in the process, so we’re fairly cooped up.) There are parts of the day when I feel like this was a terrible decision. And there are parts of the day when I know we needed a dog and this is part of having a dog.

So, I’m busy and bitten and the rest of life still keeps going on, because that’s how it is. But every time that tail goes wild just because he catches sight of me, things just feel right again.

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Endometriosis Awareness Month

Apparently endometriosis gets a whole month of awareness.

Except, looking around, all I hear about this disease is crickets. No one talks about it. No one understands it. “Have a baby, that helps” or “go on birth control pills”. I’ve done both those things, and yet here I still am.

What I want to just tell everyone is this.

What Endometriosis Means to Me:

  • Never wearing real pants. Fitting waistbands dig right into the mass of scars. The pressure is unbearable. I bloat up 2 sizes when I eat, making very relaxed waistbands necessary. I’m so stylish. Endo makes me stylish.
  • Being tired all the time. I wake up, and immediately want to go back to bed. I get the kids to school and downright need a nap. I could nap 3 times a day and still be tired. It’s an all encompassing exhaustion.
  • Dealing with all manner of pain. My belly button hurts. Where my appendix used to be. My ovaries. Where the constriction on my lower colon is. Press any random area below my boobs and above my knees and it will hurt. It’s not even worth taking pain meds for it anymore.
  • Constant digestive issues. Every time I eat a meal, I need to lay down. If I don’t, I get severe bloating and cramping and misery. If I’m unlucky, it turns into a full-blown attack that can go on for hours. When we went on our road trip to Disney, I hit damned near every rest stop in Virginia. And then didn’t eat for most of our vacation to try to avoid another such incident.
  • Being fat despite my digestive issues. I retain fluid like nobody’s business. I don’t eat enough calories to weigh this much, but my metabolism has gone the way of the dinosaurs. I can’t “eat right” because fiber exacerbates my digestive issues (so, fruits, veggies, and whole grains are the enemy) and I can’t exercise (see aforementioned exhaustion and a variety of joint issues).
  • Being wildly infertile. My RE estimated, when I was 26, that my odds of becoming pregnant without IVF were somewhere under 5% … in my lifetime. If  I had perfectly timed sex every single cycle for 20 years, I would have less than a 5% chance of becoming pregnant, and even lower of it not being ectopic. Whee!
  • Not getting periods. Hey, every cloud has a silver lining. I haven’t had a period in 4.5 years. And the ones I had at that time were only because I was cycling. I haven’t regularly had periods in over 9 years. Letting estrogen levels in my body rise has been deemed too dangerous to let periods happen.
  • Hot flashes. Muscle spasms. Migraines. High blood pressure. All side effects of the meds, and nothing to do about it because …
  • Having seen over half a dozen surgeons, none of them will touch me. They assure me that the quality of life I’d have *after* the radical hysterectomy, bowel resection, and bladder reconstruction would NOT be better than what I have now. Different, but not better, and arguably worse.
  • Not having doctors understand. They don’t understand the disease, they don’t understand my med protocol. I’m on drugs I “shouldn’t” be on.
  • Taking antibiotics renders my meds less effective, and any slippage sends me into a downward spiral that it takes months to pull out of. So, I basically have to feel like death before I even consider that as an option ..
  • Which is complicated by having an immuno-deficient kiddo. Sacrifice myself to protect him or realize he’s already doomed by the other kids?

It’s not just painful periods. Yes, there were those. There were periods so painful that I wore those stick-on heating pads under my pants when I had to go to school, and popped ibuprofen and tylenol as often as possible. Periods so heavy that I would wear 2 pads to try to control it so I could get through a couple classes between bathroom breaks – and often it wasn’t enough. I used to think this was *normal* mind you. By the time I was out of college, I just quit trying. I had a cyst the size of a peach at that point, and the pain was simply unbearable. I took every drug available to me and spent a week passed out on the couch waiting for it to pass.

Endometriosis is so much more than people think it is. It has not only changed my life, but defined it. It is something that will never go away.

But still, people will fail to understand it.

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Childhood Nutrition

One of the topics near and dear to my heart (though I would rather it not be) is childhood nutrition. It’s rather unavoidable, seeing as how I spend large portions of every day, and week, and month, and year, honing the nutritional intake of a child. For everything that goes in D’s mouth, something must be subtracted from his tube food; for everything that does not go in D’s mouth, something must be added.

When I hear about childhood obesity and all the things we can do to combat it, I want to scream.

Not because it’s not a problem we’ll ever have … but because it is. A staggering proportion of tube-fed children end up obese because the underlying problems that caused them to have a tube do not just go away when they learn to eat by mouth. D will never have true appetite control. He doesn’t feel hunger. He eats for pleasure. Our job isn’t simply to teach him to eat, but rather to teach him to eat appropriately. At the same time, we must use a variety of foods, textures, and flavors to stimulate his strength and interest. We must celebrate all food victories equally – eating a dish of marshmallows is equally as wonderful as eating a dish of strawberries.

That is our daily reality, as complicated as it is.

It makes me especially attuned to the judgement we attach to foods, and the judgement that comes across in “healthy eating” campaigns, especially in schools. No food is bad. There is no such thing as a bad food. “Good”, “bad”, “better” – these are all judgments, and they are ones I can’t afford for him to hear. I can’t have a teacher say that cookies are bad, fruit snacks are better, but a banana is best, because I want him to be able to eat all three.

We ran into these words very early on, in the office of a nutritionist. We were new to tube feeding. We were still pushing oral foods whenever possible. D had a love affair with Gerber cheese puffs. “Those are bad,” she told us. “He should be focusing on nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.”

“He hasn’t willingly put anything else into his mouth in a month. Isn’t oral eating the goal here, since his nutrition is all taken care of in formula?”

“You should focus on fruits and vegetables.”

“He spits out purees and vomits. He chokes on chunky food and vomits. He eats these!”

“No.” (We didn’t listen. We also melted Velveeta and sometimes peanut butter, and spoon-fed him those.)

It’s everywhere. Even letting them watch the Disney channel has been a problem because of one Sam Sandwich, who persists in telling my children that “if you eat too much, it will make you tired and lazy.” Lazy? That’s the message we want to send to young children? Eating too much food will make you *lazy*. Who is to say what’s “too much”? I have a certain young man (not D!) who believes that 3 bites of toast is too much in the morning. Should he be hearing that?

School has been especially trying, because adults find it very difficult to talk about food without our own issues coming into play. At school, the kids learned the word “fat” in relation to a body type. They learned how to apply it. That did not come from us; fat is not a word we use to describe a body. They are not allowed to have food-based celebrations, but for every holiday we are encouraged to send in a “special holiday snack” for our children including “something sweet and something healthy”.

I usually send marshmallows, and sometimes donuts. I use food markers to make them festive. Because I have to choose just one, and I want D to have some fun, too, even though I cannot understand why they can’t have fun with a dance party instead of food every time.

Last year, for the 100th day of school, the children were assigned to bring in a “100 piece lunch”, which they would use to count to 100. When I objected and said that this is not a fair assignment, I was told it’s fine because I always sent in food, so I could just send in more food, or cut it into smaller pieces. As though sending in 100 mini-marshmallows was realistic for a child who was eating 10 bites at any given sitting. Or as though cutting strawberries into 100 pieces wouldn’t be disgusting and ruin one of his favorite foods. It was wasteful, and insensitive to boot. (We ended up with paper food.)

Next week, the school is having a visiting chef come in to do food tastings. I (obviously?) objected. So far this year, my kids have come home telling me that “eating fat makes you fat” and “brown foods are better than white” among other nutrition “facts.” With such blatantly wrong and bad lessons, I’m really quite wary of a lesson that involves tasting foods. I’ve been told I can opt out, but then my kid(s) get LEFT out.

Yes, there is a rising amount of childhood obesity. Yes, we, as a society, are living rather unhealthy lifestyles. No, what they are teaching my kids about “healthy eating” is not even going to remotely make a dent in that, because it’s largely wrong, it’s full of judgement, and it’s completely unhelpful.

Kids aren’t stupid. Why can we not focus on teaching them actual nutrition concepts on a level they can understand?

  • You need protein, carbs, and, yes, fat, each day. In fact, fat should make up 30% of your diet, and maybe even a little more for kids. They each give you a different kind of energy, and help your body grow.
  • Energy is sometimes called calories. Your body needs a certain number each day to grow and play and learn. If you frequently eat too many or too few, it can make your body not do those things as well.
  • Every day you need to get vitamins and minerals. They help make your body strong and keep your body working well.
  • Cookies and candy don’t have many nutrients but a lot of calories, so we need to be careful how much we eat. We need to make sure we leave room for foods with the nutrition we need, and not eat more calories than our body can use in a day.

My kids know this. This is how we talk about food. We have room in our diets for salad, and we have room in our diets for cookies. Balance matters. Portions matter.

You can’t solve childhood obesity by giving all kids a warped view of food. Nutrition isn’t such a hard concept, and it *is* the foundation of learning to eat appropriately.

I’m frustrated and tired. It’s hard enough doing this every day without also having to deprogram what they’re taught at school. But at least I know at the end of the day, I’m doing all I can to give my kids a healthy relationship with food.

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Memory Lane

The boys have a project due for school, making a time line of their lives. As the projects have been rolling in, the schoolyard is filled with teachers and parents gushing about how much they *love* this project, students shyly showing off baby pictures, and exclamations of “that’s so cute!”.

Except me. I’m over in the corner, twitching. Our trip down memory lane is filled with landmines, memories carefully stowed away where they can’t hurt anyone.

All the timelines are, rather obviously, to start with the day they were born. Except the day the twins were born, I not only forgot my camera, but I wasn’t allowed even to hold them, to *touch* them, until they were nearly 8 hours old. By the time we could take pictures, they were gussied up with IVs and monitors, in the special care nursery.

Which is not to say that we didn’t take pictures, because they are our children and of course we did.

But are they pictures I want hanging up on the school walls for the entire community to see?

D especially was in rough shape. Though you can’t tell from pictures, his head was so boggy, we had to handle him so gingerly. His eyes were all messed up, leading to less than adorable photos – and he didn’t even close them when he slept. When I look at the pictures, all I can think of is not the day we took the pictures, but all the days that followed when we weren’t sure if he’d ever come home. When taking pictures never even crossed my mind.

The pictures remind me of how alone we were. How there are no pictures of doting grandparents, aunts, uncles, relatives. There were no visitors at all. Everyone was too busy hiding the fact that my mother was dying. Everyone was too busy with lies I can never forgive. It’s all tied up with their birth, with my memories.

It’s my issue, not his. But I have to come up with baby pictures that I can share. Pictures I can share without crying or throwing up. They don’t know all that went on, but I can never forget.

I have to ignore the gaping holes where we did nothing of interest because we were too busy just making it from one day to the next. It’s not about me, it’s about them.

And so I need to follow their lead down memory lane. They don’t remember the worst of things. I need to let them pick through their memories for the best, most meaningful times. I need to see it through their eyes.

Memory lane sure looks a lot prettier that way.

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Mods

Like so many other kids, my three are Minecraft fanatics. If they’re not playing it, they’re talking about it. If they’re not playing it OR talking about it, they’re asleep and dreaming about it.

As such, I’ve had to become at least semi-well-versed in the Minecraft lingo.

They started begging for mods about a year ago; in our attempts to download one to test it out, we gave one of the computers a virus that took hours upon hours to remove. As such, we said no mods.

But mods are just programs. And as a programmer by trade, even if I haven’t done it in 8 years, I couldn’t resist the challenge. I purchased a how-to video course geared towards kids, and A and I have spent 40 hours over the past 2 months watching all the videos.

This past weekend, we finished his very first mod, distributing it to friends and family. He immediately dove into his second one, while I drifted off into my own inspired by D.

I find myself creating a city of brick and stone, where faceless zombies in business suits wield cell phones as weapons and ideas are mined for money. I hope to add a peaceful biome where puppies and kittens roam freely never to age, food is plentiful, flowers grow at every turn, and it only rains to spawn rainbows that drop gold and candy.

There is something eminently satisfying about creating and controlling a world when the real one is so very far out of our control.

And maybe that is really the appeal of Minecraft to begin with.

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Mom Un-friendly

Two things came up in the past day regarding the so-called “Baby-Friendly” initiatives in hospitals, and while I am so beyond childbearing, I can’t help but be pissed off by them.

The first was a friend posting an article about the move towards eliminating well-baby nurseries from local hospitals. This is to promote (read: force) rooming-in, which in turn is supposed to help breastfeeding rates. In short, there IS no nursery to which to send your (healthy) baby. Period. Your baby stays with you. End of discussion. If you get a “nice” nurse who “breaks the rules”, she’ll maybe take your baby to the nurses station for a little while.

On the post, her friends were all “why would you ever send your baby to a nursery. Baby NEEDS to be with mom!” and “wah, poor women who need a break an hour after giving birth”.

I maybe snapped a little.

I couldn’t care for N after he was born. Flat-out not my choice, could not happen. I had just had major surgery, which is reason enough. But then because I had placenta acreta (borderline increta – I don’t know how I even still have a uterus), it was a complicated surgery, with some post-partum hemorrhage to boot. There were two kids at home to be taken care of too, so there was no one to stay with me overnight. Without a well-baby nursery, what would have happened?

Well, I wouldn’t have gotten those few hours of rest that allowed my body to start recovering. I would have had to listen to my baby cry while I waited for a nurse to come, because I couldn’t get out of bed until about 18 hours after he was born.

The nurses knew I could not. The nurses took him to the nursery each night after my husband left. They gave me those 3 nights of rest so that when I got home I COULD do it. They treated me like I mattered too. They treated us as a pair, looking out for our mutual health and safety – I was not left alone with him *at all* until I proved I was strong enough to care for him.

Without a nursery, the most a helpful nurse can do is take them to the non-secure nurses station, where they may be exposed to all manner of germs. How is that a good solution?

Yes, rooming in is great when it’s what the parents want to do. But can we all recognize that childbirth is a widely variable situation? It’s a physical trauma. Some women have been awake over 24 hours. Some are on pain killers. Some just had surgery. Everyone is going to react differently.

If a woman was at home, with a husband or mother or friend, she can be sent off to sleep and shower while someone else kept an eye on the baby. Why in a hospital if you ask for someone else to keep an eye on your child for a couple of hours are you branded a bad mother now?

Oh right, because the end-all and be-all is now breastfeeding, and if you don’t room in, you might not respond to every whimper with your boob. Which, breastfeeding is great and all but ..

Then comes the other incident. My cousin just had a baby. Breastfeeding is going poorly. She has post-partum depression going on already, but the L&D and maternity nurses as well as the lactation consultants made her PROMISE not to give up on breastfeeding. So she feels guilty for thinking about stopping. Guilty for supplementing, even though the child’s doctor says he needs more than she can provide. Like a failure because if she just worked hard enough ..

Why do we do this to women? What end is this serving? She had risk factors for breastfeeding not working going INTO it, why ever feed her the information that it’s normal and natural and everyone can do it if they try hard enough?

Why is it so hard to have an honest fucking discussion? “Look, if you want to try, we will support you in every way we can. But it may not work – sometimes it doesn’t, and you have XYZ signs that it may not. You may need to reframe your goals to partial feeding, or you may decide at some point to go fully to formula. Whatever your goals are, we are here to help you.” Is that too hard to say? Or just not meeting some agenda?

We had a nice talk, which by some camps is bound to be construed as anti-breastfeeding. But it’s not. It’s just saying you know, you matter too. Parenting – life, really – is about deciding which battles to fight, because you can’t fight them all. Keep it in perspective and know that there is no shame or guilt in recognizing your personal limits. Make sure what you’re doing is worth it to you.

I hope she heard me, because god knows someone needed to say it.

Why does “baby friendly” seem to mean mom unfriendly?

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On Intimacy

I had one of the most traumatic doctor’s appointments yesterday, which is saying something for an infertile woman that has had her cervix in the spiked grips of the tenaculum without anesthesia.

It was meant to be an annual physical with my PCP. Check my blood pressure (which has been high of late), talk about my thyroid and inability to find an endocrinologist who’s worth anything. Why I’m freezing, exhausted, and aching all the time. I’m pretty sure at 35 you’re not supposed to groan and moan every time you need to stand up. It turned ugly, and none of these things were discussed.

She discovered that I hadn’t been to the gyn in 3 years. Before anyone thinks I’m neglecting my nether regions, my PCP has done breast exams, while the RE does pelvic u/s 1-2 times a year, and every pap smear ever has been fine, putting me in the low risk repeat every 3-5 years category. So. It simply hasn’t been necessary. But she said I HAD to have a pap done because … what, I don’t know. She kept pushing and bullying and … I gave in.

Never give in, it only leads to bad places.

So, there I am, mostly naked and feet in stirrups once again. And she tried to get started and I basically screamed and scuttled away, because fuck it hurt. Because that’s how my body is. 4 surgeries, and 18 years of aggressively active endo later, it fucking hurts. I can’t be touched beneath the belly button without wincing. I can’t wear fitted-waist pants. And it hurts for someone to stick something large into my vagina, especially when they fail to acknowledge it’s going to hurt and just kind of have at.

So anyways, it finally gets done and the swab comes out absolutely dripping in blood. I am streaming blood. She asks about my sex life and says “this isn’t your endo, you’re just too tense. You need to relax.” Blows me off about omg why the fuck am I bleeding like that – because it was not a couple spots, it was an active flow, to continue lecturing me about the importance of sex to men and marriage, so I need to “get over it”, whether that entails popping some xanax pre-sex or undergoing behavioral therapy. “Maybe you’ve had some bad experience that makes you fear it and you need to talk about it.” Otherwise, my marriage is doomed, as my husband will leave me for a woman who will put out without all this drama.

Contrast this with my RE, who, while also obsessed with my sex life, does so out of concern for *me*, not my husband. How can he help make it ok for *me*. Me, his patient. Me, the one who is biting her hand crying during an exam. Acknowledging that it may never be ok. Telling my husband to be gentle, because it is *not my fault*.

My PCP thinks it’s not the aggressive endo that is on my ovaries, tubes, outer surface of my uterus, bowl walls, rectum, presumably my bladder, and suspected in my cervix and vaginal walls. It’s a pervasive bitch of a disease. She did something so awful that I bled for upwards of 12 hours – me, with the cervix of steel that will not yield under any amount of pressure. She told me, it’s all in my head.

I drove home, on the verge of tears, and limped over to the couch clutching my cramping uterus. I fell into my husband’s arms and told him the whole story. “She thinks you’re going to leave me.”

“I’m not going to leave you. I’m going to go get you some ibuprofen and then make you lunch.”

Because that is intimacy. Being able to tell a whole sordid tale while someone strokes your head and lovingly takes care of you.

Being hugely pregnant and having someone wash your hair and help you bathe, because you physically cannot reach anymore.

Being post-op and being propped with pillows all around, the remote in reach.

Moaning in the grips of an endless stomach ache and having them come physically in to rub your back and bring you warm packs and water and whatever else you need, because there is absolutely no experience you cannot share.

Writing random notes and texts midday just to say you love them.

Bringing them home a small gift from the store – even just their favorite candy, or funny boxer shorts.

Finishing each other’s sentences – and sandwiches.

Communicating with only your eyes, both sure in your understanding of the other.

Marriage, and intimacy, are so much more than sex. If sex is the cornerstone of your marriage, your marriage is doomed to fail. Yes, it can be nice, and it can be enjoyable, and when it is, people enjoy it and good for them. But if you rely on it? Can’t survive without it? Would expect your partner to “suck it up” and go along with it all the time just because *you* “need” it? What kind of marriage is that?

Yesterday, I was angry at her. Today, I am sad for her. I am sad that she believes it is the woman’s job to “get over it” in order to “please her man”. My feelings matter. My body matters. I am important. HE believes I am important, and I matter. We will continue moving forward in this amazing partnership with respect and love, finding what works for us.

And I will be finding a new PCP.

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Perspectives

In the past several months, my vision had really started to bother me. The blurriness, the headaches. Combined with my sudden onset of insanely high blood pressure, it seemed prudent to face one of my bigger fears and get my eyes checked. Naturally I walked away with a prescription for glasses (because at almost 36, my vision wasn’t going to be perfect), but oddly, it was largely for astigmatism which you’re not really supposed to develop as an adult.

I picked up my glasses yesterday, and the entire world looks like it’s being viewed through a fun-house mirror. I feel about 2 feet tall, and the ground slopes alarmingly. It’s an odd perspective on the world, everything different than it was before.

New Years is rather like that, throwing the past year into the stark relief of highs and lows. What is it about a change in calendar that makes us mesh the previous 365 days, as if the artificial construct of the calendar truly defines anything?

In any case, 2015 was a year. That’s all. There was good, and there was bad, and I think, if pressed, I’d give the win to the good with our Disney trip and my writing job. Things don’t seem as heavy, somehow, this year.

I hope to walk into 2016 with a new perspective (and not the fun-house mirror style, egads is this normal?). I want to be able to look at the past knowing it turned out ok, and walk into the future not feeling as though if I let my guard down for a second it will all fall apart. I want to breathe more. And I want to take care of me.

That last bit may be the hardest of all because I’m so in the habit of coming last. Why am I always last, when this family cannot function without me? The kids aren’t babies anymore, and only by shifting my perspective will they start to realize that I matter, too. I haven’t worked it all out yet, but I’m going to. I want to feel better. I want to stop putting up with things that bother me just because it’s easier.

So, goodbye 2015, and thank you. Hello 2016, please be kind.

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Never Easier

D caught a stomach virus last week, ended up in the hospital. In total, he went 5 full days with 0 caloric intake (well, less than 50, in any case), with his first real calories coming today. We may even hit 300 today.

It never gets easier. It never gets easier to hold him through his fears. It never gets easier to not be able to do anything to take away his pain. It never gets easier to know more than the doctors.

We’re fast approaching all the anniversaries.

The bittersweet NICU memories, culminating in two sweet babies under the Christmas tree just as the sun set on Christmas Eve.

The day some doctor had the gall to accuse me of neglecting my son.

His tubeiversary.

The missed Christmas, with the picture of Santa in full contact precautions.

Eight years. I have been doing this for eight years.

And it is never easier.

 

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Shared

Every Monday at school, the class gathers around and shares what happened that weekend, or something they’re looking forward to in the week ahead.

Every Monday morning, I watch my twins negotiate the delicate path of separating their overlapping lives. “I’ll say we went apple picking, you tell them about the pie.” “I didn’t really like that movie, so you can talk about that, and I’ll talk about playing in the leaves.” It doesn’t always go smoothly, but most often they are able to divide topics among this imaginary line. This is yours/this is mine, even though both are really ours.

In this world, we’re so constantly pressed to share. Our photos, our memories, our deep thoughts, and our mundane tasks get put up for public or semi-public consumption. I constantly struggle with knowing what is mine to share and what is more rightfully someone else’s. Even if it is their story, are my thoughts and feelings about it mine to share? Where is the line?

I try to set boundaries and stay within them. No pictures of my children that they may someday find embarrassing – no nudity, no pictures of them sick or in the hospital, no pictures of them crying or in trouble. No public discussions of potty training, circumcision, or anything regarding the private areas of their bodies. No stories that may embarrass someone else. No discussions of my marriage or sex life.

Still, I struggle. Our lives are so intertwined that teasing out what is specifically mine is so often too complicated, and I end up walking away without having said anything at all.

It’s interesting watching them navigate it so easily. Is this the effect of growing up in an over-shared society? Much like their innate ability to manipulate a touchscreen and pick up on the finer points of Minecraft, will they grow up having this instinctive knowledge of how to extract their individual story from the larger mesh?

I’m glad to see it, proud to see it. So many people share indiscriminately and thoughtlessly, unconcerned about how the other person may feel. Instead, they carefully discuss and agree before any information is shared, so no feelings are hurt. It’s curious and heartwarming to see them so concerned about respecting the boundaries of others. I can only hope they continue along this path, thinking before sharing.

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