Friday, September 2, 2016

The Post Where Things Are Different-er

Today is September 2nd and things are completely different than the last time I blogged. 

I am 34 years old and live with my parents now.
First, we sold our condo in about 2 seconds. Many thanks to my wonderful realtor (a friend through my infertility support group - go busted uteruses!), the nutty Chicago real estate market and the recovering economy. Then we went to the owner of a house we had fallen in love with, then freaked out over it being too much rehab and walked away from. Thankfully, the owner was happy to renegotiate and we signed a contract. The house is old, in somewhat sad shape, has an amazing overgrown garden with a big raspberry bush, smells like cat pee and will be a wonderful cozy home for my little family following a little TLC. Also, it is 4 houses down from my sister's house. We are scheduled to close on that house at the end of September. All good news.

Here's where things get shitty. My new job, the one I left my stable if imperfect, well-paying gig for, turned fairly awful.* Obviously I was holding on, trying to make money, and just dealing with various shenanigans. Except then business slowed waaaaay down - after we had a signed contract on the house - and my boss effectively laid me off. That would be difficult but bearable if not for the fact that I have to show a pay stub in September that is roughly equivalent to my previous pay stubs in order to secure our loan. I'm trying to negotiate this with my boss but he is being difficult. (*See job turned "fairly awful.") At this point, I have no idea if we're completely fucked and not going to get our house or if he's going to be a decent person and help us out. Consider it severance. You may think we're insane to proceed with the purchase of a house while one of us is unemployed but here's our thinking:
A) J is still working. 
B) I have a strong resume, have a great network of people gunning for me and realistically expect to be employed again in the near future. 
C) J's parent's had already agreed to assist us with the rehab of our house. That money still exists and isn't going anywhere. We are lucky; they are incredible. 
D) The mortgage on our house, given the low interest rates, is actually less than we paid on our condo after monthly assessments. If we were to rent in the town we now live in, our rent would be more than a mortgage.
E) We're currently living with my parents and that cannot stand forever. I love them, we're doing well, but we are 6 people and 3 dogs in a 3 bedroom house with zero sound attenuation. 

Fuck. Anywho, I feel basically embarrassed and ashamed that I am unemployed. Not because it's a shameful thing but because I am me and am very good at harboring embarrassment and shame. Simultaneously, I am wildly hopeful. It's a funny thing.
I am sick over the fate of my house and my boss's fuckery. FFFFUUUUUUUCK.

In news that is more delightful, Eloise is 6 months old now and has reached that fabled stage where babies sit and play but do not crawl into danger. It is the best. She is smiley, thinks kisses are very funny and is hopelessly in love with Henry and our dogs. Henry is smitten with her as well and enjoys talking to her in a screechy, high voice that is apparently how one must speak to babies. "Elweeze, I make you laugh! Elweeze, you want to play trucks? Elweeze, you funny!" They are so cute. Thank God I have them right now as the rest of it is soooo stressful. I can't wait to write my update post and tell you all that everything worked out and that a stranger on the street offered me a flex-time job with full benefits that pays half a million dollars per year (let's be reasonable with our dreams) and provides 4 months of vacation time. The End.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Update Where Everything is Different

Basically everything is the same since I last posted to this blog back in February except for the following:

  • Eloise is no longer 1 week old. She is now 15 weeks old or something like that. Now she smiles, generally tolerates life's myriad of challenges (see "dog licking" and "tummy time" in sentence to follow), and enjoys snuggling and scratching her stubborn, flaky cradle cap. She does not enjoy having her head licked excessively by the dogs or tummy time. Unlike Henry, who refused and still refuses to go above 2% on the growth chart for weight, Eloise has delicious thigh rolls and her cheeks are giant, heavy apples. I love it. It's as though last time around I made skim milk and this time I'm serving up heavy cream. No one would call her a fat baby but she has significantly more chunkage than Henry ever did. She is a delight and I want to smush her.
  • I'm back at work. I am pumping. It is terrible just like last time. Unlike last time, I decided right off the bat that I would pump no more than 1-2 times per day and would supplement with formula as needed. That has worked really well for me and seemingly for Eloise, too. I tend to pump once a day, drop about 9 oz at daycare, and the rest is Baby's One Formula which my hippie granola sister-in-law told me to get and I blindly obeyed. At home its straight boob. So far, so good. She gets mostly breastmilk and I'm not a ball of stress over reaching some crazy milk quota.
  • When I say "back" at work I really mean that I'm working again but at a new job. My new job is in the same general field as before - I'm doing project management for construction projects but this time for a general contractor where as before I was an owner's representative. It's way less corporate and more independent. It's refreshing and terrifying. I'm being paid hourly at a rate comparable to my old salary but am working 4 days instead of 5 so that I can spend a little more time with my babies. This sounds great and feels great when I spend my Mondays at the zoo in the sunshine just loving on Henry but is feeling logistically and financially difficult right now. Part-time care for Henry (almost all daycares in the city require full-time for infants) was supposed to save us money and free us up to spend more time with him. Instead, it seems to be accomplishing the latter but instead of saving money, we're losing more by not working. We're only 3 weeks in and figuring things out. I'm completely certain (sometimes) that things will fall into place and all will be ok. I've worked 50+ hours a week for the past 10 years - on-call and traveling for the past 6 of those - and I want to take some time to slow done and enjoy my babies while they're little. I know that's the right decision for me but the whole money bleeding thing is killing me. Having 2 kids in the city is really expensive. Which brings me to my next bullet point...
  • We're listing our condo on the market next month and want to move back to my hometown, a lovely suburb that borders Chicago and has ample access to public transpo. Also the home of my sister and parents. 2 Adults + 2 kids + 2 dogs in a 2 bedroom apartment is feeling like, "cramped" isn't the right word for it... ah yes, like a hell hole. That's what I mean to say. It was no big deal to scoop Henry up in a carrier and walk the dogs back in the day. Now I have to leave Eloise strapped in her carseat while I run the dogs down to pee in 30 seconds, either balancing Henry on my hip or willing him to walk down the back stairs faster. This all came to a head earlier this week when J had to work late. I picked up the kids from daycare, parked, walked a block to our apartment, got in the door and Henry decided he wanted to go back outside. But he couldn't because we had to go let the dogs out, eat dinner, and generally continue on with life. Not fucking okay. He lost his mind in the biggest tantrum I've ever seen from him. I carried Eloise up the one flight of stairs to our landing, left her in the carseat, ran back down and picked H up while he screamed and flailed. I then let us into the apartment and fed the dogs who were losing their minds about being hungry and needing to pee. I tried to negotiate with my terrorist son about coming back outside with me to walk the dogs and while that fruitless discussion was happening, my dog Frank simply couldn't hold it any more and shit in front of me in the living room. While Henry was screaming. Shit + screaming + my old dog Ella was just barking incessantly to let me know she wanted to go out which I was already completely aware of. I cleaned up poop, got the dogs out, eventually calmed Henry down by turning on Bob the Builder (no judgement), and made dinner. When J got home after 8 pm, Henry was still eating dinner. I crawled into the fetal position with a glass of wine once J took over with Henry. A total winner of a night. The point of this whole story is that I desperately need a yard so that I can just let the dogs out and deal with my insane kid. Or, let Henry play in the yard so he can be outside like he wanted. I realize that I am hanging all my hopes and dreams on a backyard and that it will only go so far towards making life with a menagerie of dogs and children feel sane but it's all I got right now.
The most stressful things - aside from famine, natural disasters, homelessness, actual tragedies the likes of which I've never had to experience - are the birth of a child, the death of a loved one, changing careers, moving, divorce, and canine incontinence (made that one up). J and I have agreed not to get divorced because single parenting seems overly difficult. If someone dies now, I will kill them. Please let me focus on my new baby, changing my career and moving. I am this slightly manic mix of incredibly in love and happy with my family and stressed and stretched too thin. This is probably the state of my life for the next 15-20 years with fluctuations in the love : happiness : stress ratio.

When he is not throwing epic tantrums about outdoor access, Henry is SUCH A FUCKING DELIGHT. I know I described Eloise as a delight earlier but truly, they both are so wonderful. Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago is absolutely free which makes it a favorite destination of this cash-strapped mom. Last Monday we had a day there, just the two of us, where we rode the train, saw lions, flamingos, hippos and - HOLD THE PHONE - monkey doctors. Not just regular doctors but ones that take care of monkeys. Henry is very interested in his own pediatrician since his two-year checkup. At the Macaque Forest, we were able to watch researchers in lab coats working with the monkeys in some humane experiment where they were offered fruits and veggies constantly. I clearly didn't catch the details. I think the experiment was called, "Do Monkeys Like Food?" and the answer was "yes, yes they do." Anywho, Henry was completely enthralled and has been saying since then, "I be a money doctor. I take care of mama monkey, daddy monkey and baby monkey. Someday." He's starting to explore the concept of things happening in the past and the future. Not everything is right now. Though most things are. After seeing pictures of him meeting Eloise at the hospital, he now repeatedly asks, "Daddy, remember when Henry was born? Mama, remember when Eloise was born?" I vaguely remember those events. Yesterday I asked him what babies do. He replied, "Be born."

I swear I can hear the gears spinning and cranks clicking while that boy thinks. He is always exploring, learning and trying to catch his language up to his whirring thoughts. It makes me so, so proud. I think I got two really good ones.

Theoretically, our condo goes on the market in the next 2-3 weeks. I'll have much more to report in life in the next several months and hopefully will be blogging about it a bit more often. Til then...

Friday, February 19, 2016

Postpartum Party

Eloise and I partied so hard last night. She was binge drinking and crying; I was trashing our room, throwing nursing pads, pacifiers and swaddle blankets around like I didn't even care where they landed. This morning after we'd slept it off a bit I was like, "E, that was great. I haven't raged like that since college." I kept thinking how bad I feel for housekeeping particularly considering that housekeeping is primarily me.

There was a reason for her complete insanity and, not surprisingly, I was complicit. During the pediatrics rounds at the hospital, the doctor noted that Eloise had a tongue tie. She recommended that we have it snipped to prevent potential breastfeeding and speech issues in the future. Reasoning that since we'd circumcised Henry that we should do something to similarly torture our daughter - female circumcision being fairly uniformly frowned upon in these parts - we decided to go for it. The ENT performing the procedure told us that some babies are unphased and others a bit fussy. We fell into Category C: hell hath no fury like a baby with her frenulum clipped. In her solid week of life, Eloise has been easy peasy with the exception of yesterday and last night. This morning she seems to be resting comfortably and as such, my guilt is subsiding.

Moving onto observations and witticisms...
1. You can love 2 children at the same time. A few of you may have mentioned something to this effect. It is ridiculously true. I fawn over her the way I gush over Henry. Crazy true love all over again. Plus, watching my husband cradle a newborn makes me just about die a sudden hormonal death each time so I'm triple in love.

2. It is not possible for a 22 month old to grasp the arrival of a new sibling, no matter how obese you might get. Thus, his world will be rocked. Henry splits his emotional time between adoring Eloise - asking to snuggle and hold her, showing us her nose, asking her to come play in his "tunnel" (play teepee) - and having complete nervous breakdowns over unspecified tragedies. The good news is that every day, the ratio of loving, playful Henry to clinically insane Henry slides to the former's favor. We are also gradually getting better at focusing solely on him rather than feeling like we're constantly in a game of kid triage. Newborns are pretty low maintenance. Typically they can stare at a ceiling fan while they wait for attention.

3. There is no easy way to extract a fully grown baby from one's body. Day 1 post c-section I was asking if the hospital had a post-natal kickboxing class I could join. Adrenaline for the win! Day 2, I was moaning and begging for illegal drugs. Subsequent days are better and better but I can say, equivocally, that recovering from a c-section is a motherfucker. But then I remember recovering from vaginal birth and that was a total bitch as well. Suffering is a woman's lot in life, or something like that. I would like there to be a c-section recovery forum somewhere where I can post things like "is this shit normal?" But I think I'll have to suck it up and discuss with the many women in my life who have been sliced and diced.

Photos were requested and so photos you shall have. Our hospital has a contract with a professional photography company that busts into your room and sells you charming photos of your new baby. Last time, they came the morning after I'd labored for 30 hours, pushed for 4 hours, and had a kid vacuumed out of me. Henry and I looked rough. No photos purchased. This time we had an extra day. There were showers involved and small amounts of sleep. We suckered up and bought those pics. Here are a few.

Friday, February 12, 2016

She's Here!

My beautiful Eloise arrived last night via c-section. She is a peanut, born at 37 weeks and 1 day, she weighed 5 lbs 9 oz and was 19.5" long. She has lots of dark blond hair and the sweetest little nose I've ever seen on a newborn baby.

Since it's 4 in the morning and I can't sleep, why not write out her birth story? 

Wednesday was the date of my cancelled scheduled c-section. Since my OB, Dr. L, had detected some movement of my placenta at 34 weeks, he wanted to repeat an ultrasound at 38 weeks in the off chance that there had been enough movement away from my cervix and I could deliver vaginally. I had mistakenly thought that my placenta previa was marginal at that ultrasound; in fact, it was still complete but had still made some movement. So Wednessay came and went without any fuss. I felt annoyed that I was still at work but glad that Miss E was still cooking, growing bigger and stronger. Thursday morning I got up and had coffee and snuggles with Henry and J as usual and then headed into work. Around noon, following a long meeting, I noticed that my back pain (a constant pal in this pregnancy) had migrated south and felt different. It radiated and was followed by mild contractions. I got up, made myself a sandwich, walked around, but it continued. I advised J and my mom to keep their phones on but that it was likely the pre-labor symptoms that many women have on and off for days or weeks. I went off to another meeting thinking the sensations would subside but they didn't. Still, the pain was very mild and left me more uncomfortable than anything. I called my OB's office and they advised me to hydrate and call back in an hour to report if there were any changes. An hour and lots of water later, the back pain and mild contractions remained. At 5, they advised me to come in to be monitored and checked out. I told Joel I expected to be sent home in an hour or so. The hospital is a whopping block and a half from my office. I walked over, got hooked up to monitors and read my kindle. Then got an ultrasound and they confirmed my previa was still complete. As I had had no bleeding, I still expected them to send me home and advise me to take it easy. Nope. The resident walked in and said that as my contractions were very regular and my previa was complete, my OB didn't want to risk a massive bleed at home and would be delivering my baby that night. I believe she asked me to "get my person here as soon as possible." In total shock, I called my mom and J and arranged for them to hand over Henry and our dogs at the hospital. The docs waited for J to arrive and once he did, everything happened pretty quickly. 

The worst part of the c-section was honestly the prep. The anesthesiologist had to try a couple locations before he administered the spinal block. I found the numbness really disconcerting. I was nervous and couldn't banter with the docs and nurses. I felt much better when J came in. Once he came in, things started immediately and within a few minutes, Eloise was out! After grinning and breathing a sigh of relief, my totally candid thought was "that was so much easier than a vaginal birth!" Obvious thoughts by yours truly. Wait til recovery, genius. 

She was immediately pink and wailing and sounded like an angry bird. Eloise scored a 9/9 on her apgar despite her tiny, though gestationally appropriate, size. She was brought to my cheek so I could kiss and marvel at her. J held her next to me while they put Humpty Dumpty back together again. And then we were wheeled out and it was over.

She's a champion breastfeeder and is impossibly tiny. That's all I know about her so far. I can't wait for the sun to come up and to spend the day staring and getting to know my daughter. Henry will meet her today as well. I can't wait. 

My daughter and my son. Two after nothing at all and so much struggle. And somehow it feels nothing but right and destined to be. I wish I could send my 2012-13 self a note reassuring that all would be so much more than ok. What tremendous luck, love, and miracles of modern medicine.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

36 Weeks - A Love Letter

Dear Henry,

As I know you've noticed, something is up in our house. We are on the brink of change. You ask to see and touch my giant belly frequently and last night pointed to it and said your little sister's name. We say that name all the time in reference to my belly so I'm not sure what you understand and what you're simply repeating. I don't think that at 22 months you could possibly comprehend that I'm growing a whole other person inside of me. At 33 years, I can't quite wrap my head around it and I've done it before. The past 8 months have been kind of a non-event for you though you have keenly observed my ballooning midsection and hilariously referred to my protruding bellybutton as a "mama penis." You are far more aware of babies both out in the wild and at daycare. This week you started telling us that babies say "ga-ga-ga." At daycare, babies are mysterious, free-floating entities that belong to other grownups. I doubt you anticipate one moving into our house in the next few weeks. You are uninterested in the "big brother, new baby" genre of literature in which I've invested. I don't understand why Richard Scarry never wrote and illustrated a definitive guide to siblings and banana-mobiles. As much as I've tried, I can't possibly prepare you.

At your age, I don't know that you really need that much preparation. If we brought home a new puppy, you'd be simply delighted. No prep necessary. Can I continue make the dog-baby analogy? Will that work? Your Abu tells me that when your Titi came home from the hospital, I just loved her to bits right away. I did, however, announce that my legs had stopped working and that I would need to be carried like her. I hope that your legs continue working and that you adore your sister from the get go.

I'm glad that at 22 months, you can't read, don't check my blog, and therefor don't know my anxiety over building our little family. Of all people, I should have the least anxiety. I am ridiculously close to my sister and, while we had our ups and downs, I know just how insanely fun it is to have a built-in partner in crime. I want nothing more than that for you. My memories of growing up with my sister includes countless episodes of breathlessly laughing, tears streaming down our faces, utter nonsense. It doesn't get any better than that. I'm trying to give you that. You're welcome.

When I hold you at night and kiss your cheeks too many times, I'm trying to impress upon you just how much I love you, that your sister can never replace you. As the clock ticks down I have absolutely no idea how I'm going to love your sister even a fraction as much as I love you (though I've been told a thousand times that I will). You were the dream that almost didn't come true. I stare at you and can't believe how beautiful, smart and funny you are. Your dad and I are the luckiest people on earth all because of you. You made us a family. Your sister will add to that, build upon that luck and love in ways that will undoubtedly astound me in the very near future.

You will always be my first baby, my love, my magical boy. I can't wait to see you rise to the occasion of being a magnificent big brother. Don't forget that my arms are always open to scoop you up and snuggle you. Nothing can ever change that. I will not always be this emotional and sappy, but I will always love you fiercely, wildly, completely.

Your lucky, hormonal Mama

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

35 Weeks - Change in Plans

As of today I am 35 weeks exactly. I have a horrible sinus AND ear infection (have you even heard of an adult having an ear infection?) and generally spend my nights writhing in the agony of face pain and congestion. I have not been to work in 2 days and am not necessarily been upset about that. It's good practice for my coworkers. I think I might be ready for maternity leave.
I understand WHY but why does your immune system have to shut down so entirely in order to cook a baby? I just want a little bit of it back so I can stop breathing through my gaping mouth and limit my audible groaning. This whole tremendous illness of the face thing was brought on by my own little Typhoid Mary (a poor choice of nicknames as Mary was simply an incubator and never suffered symptoms). A week and a half ago, I took Henry to see my grandma so that he could spread unmitigated joy through the halls of her assisted living community. My pregnant sister Juice, her daughter and my dad joined us. Not an hour after we left, he spiked a crazy fever and remained a coughing ball of feverish phlegm for the remainder of the week. Here's who stayed healthy after their contact with Patient Zero: my dad and niece. Here's who did not: the immuno-suppressed, ie. the elderly and 2 pregnant mamas. My grandma developed a nasty cold. Mostly congested. She is ok. By Friday, Juice was riddled with fever and generally dying. I felt crappy over the weekend and then my eustachian tubes and sinuses exploded on Monday.  As of Wednesday, we all think we might live but just barely. Ok, enough complaining about that.

Who wants to hear about my placenta? Everyone!?! Well, ok then!
At 34 weeks, I was pretty psyched thinking that I was 3 weeks to D-Day. My belly is enormous, my back is killing me, I'm fatigued and having a very difficult time faking the whole "caring" thing at the office. Good thing I had my medically necessary c-section scheduled for Wednesday, 2/10 at 37 weeks per the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendation for placenta previa! But nooooooo. Last Wednesday following my ultrasound, I learned that my uterus and placenta, in their infinite wisdom, decided 34 weeks was about the right time to start budging away from my cervix. I still have placenta previa but it's no longer complete. THIS IS GOOD NEWS. I know it is. My OB cancelled my c-section and said he'd do a repeat ultrasound at 38 weeks to see if it's moved sufficiently out of the way of my cervix. If it has, then I wait to go into labor like a normal person. If it has not, then I have a c-section at 39 weeks. Despite the fact that I now have a chance at a normal, healthy vaginal birth, I perhaps behaved a bit like a child when I was told that bit of excellent news. Or, at least my face did. I have terrible RBF (resting bitch face) and even worse ABF (active bitch face).* Apparently, as opposed to the wonderful, best-for-baby-and-mom news that was actually delivered, my face reacted to this: "Ma'am, your flight to Aruba has been delayed by 5 hours. Also, you've been bumped to coach." But you said I got to arrive at the hospital wearing a monogrammed cashmere robe and gold moccasins! And no agonizing contractions!

I had 14 weeks to wrap my head around a scheduled c-section. I did a really good job at it. I filed my granola card away and began to really look forward to the orderly nature of the whole affair. Plus, at that time, with complete placenta previa and suspected accreta, it was the only safe way for me to give birth. Made that pill real easy to swallow. Now things are a bit more up in the air. The accreta is no longer suspected but cannot be completely ruled out and my placenta is gliding up as it should. Once again, I am mentally shifting my birth plan. I've just had a week to make the switch but I'm very steadily getting there. I do hope that I get an uncomplicated vaginal birth. I want to hold my daughter on my chest right away and not wait while I'm stitched back together. I'd love to avoid healing from abdominal surgery. (Vaginal healing is a whole other delightful affair. Perhaps we can just Harry Potter disapperate this baby out?) We shall see. Back up in the air. What I really need to remind myself of is the fact that there will come a time, most likely in the next 5 weeks, where I am no longer pregnant. They all come out. They all come out. They all come out.

*By the way, I think the term RBF, while hilariously accurate, is completely misogynistic. Not to get too into it but I'm pretty sure that the male equivalent of RBF is "stoic."