So Much Love, So Much Pain

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Life has been hectic, to say the least. My in-laws left on Saturday. Sunday was Easter, so there was all of that to deal with and navigate with a newborn. She has been feeding so frequently since Sunday, making the day even more stressful. We’ve gone hour after hour with no more than a ten minute break from feeding. I know she is establishing my supply and preparing for her two week growth spurt, which I remind myself while she eats away. Besides, I need to be forced to just sit sometimes. It’s a small stress that I need because it distracts from the other things going on.

Saturday night into Sunday, my step-dad was in a lot of pain. Hospice brought him morphine at 3:30 am. Monday morning, he was taken to a hospice home to get his pain management under control because it wasn’t quite working just right. We were hoping that he’d be home tomorrow, but it isn’t going that well just yet. It’s a beautiful, peaceful place and I am grateful that such places exist in communities for those that need it. I had 5 x 7′s printed of each of the kids so that he has them in his room.

Joey still doesn’t want to talk too much about it. I don’t know, really, how much he comprehends. Reality is setting in for me now. I finally actually, really, let myself cry yesterday. Ramona and I were home along all day, just Netflix and the Internet to keep me company in bed while I wasn’t staring at her. I made myself rest because I haven’t done it nearly enough. The emptiness and my mom saying he was going to a hospice home made me truly realize what is happening. With my dad, i sort of half-pretended he was away on a business trip for awhile. It was easier than believing that frail man was my father. Facing reality sooner may be better. Joey went to go see him yesterday. We drove away as my phone chose to play “All You Need is Love,” my step-dad is a huge Beatles fan. I cried as I sang along and tried to tell Joey that this is why people need their siblings. That when something like this happens, they become some of the most important people because only they can truly share and understand those memories. I explained to him that his Aunt Linny needs her brother, who is repairing his relationship with his father, and Uncle Chris and I. I said that went Grandpa Joe was sick, his aunts and uncle were so very important. On sad days, they still help. Today we went to visit while Joey was at school. The reality that he won’t be here as Joey grows up started to really sink in, as he spoke of a future that he won’t be there to witness, a teenager that he will never know.

On top of that, Chairman Meow, my husband’s cat, is going to be put down tomorrow. It appears as though his kidneys are failing. He’s an older cat and was found on the streets, declawed. People are horrible. He’s had a good life with my husband and then in our home together, where he really blossomed into a wonderful pet. We will miss him greatly. He’s the orange kitty.

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Ramona’s Birth Story!

She’s here! She arrived at 12:35 pm on April 9th, the day after John’s birthday. She was only 6 pounds, 12 ounces and 19 1/2 in, a welcome relief after she was estimated two weeks before to be around 8 pounds.

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I had been experiencing prodromal labor for two and a half weeks. Regular, even painful, contractions meant little to me, aside from a lack of sleep and discomfort. We had been in Labor & Delivery twice for them, only to be told that I hadn’t progressed at all and sent home. I was reaching new levels of exhaustion, which is pretty serious for someone who worked third shift full-time, raised a child on her own, and went to school full-time for years. I had a doctor’s appointment that morning and was planning on talking about when work would end because I didn’t think that I could keep it up any longer. I was going in, working a few hours, coming home, and finishing out my day from there, where I could be more comfortable and grab a nap.

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My appointments were all scheduled for around 8 am, so I would log in from home, work for an hour or so to work on items that need to be done by 9:30 am, go to the doctor, and then head to work. That morning started out like the rest. The doctor that I was supposed to see was sick and I was waiting for another one, since there are four doctors in the group. My contractions were definitely on the painful side and 6 minutes apart, but again, I didn’t get my hopes up. Finally, the doctor came in. I was 4-5 centimeters. Since I was at 39 weeks, she went to sweep my membranes and instead, my water broke. There was meconium in it, so she sent me right over to the hospital. I would not be finishing out my day this time. In retrospect, I am thankful it happened there. If it happened that easily, I wondered if it would have awkwardly broken at work later in the day.

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Once we arrived at the hospital, I was still only 4-5 and had waited for John to drop Joey off at school and drive the half an hour to the office and then another 15 minutes to the hospital. I was doing just fine. They began talking pitocin due to the meconium and I said if there was pitocin, I wanted an epidural. I experienced pitocin part way through labor with Joey without an epidural before I decided to go that route. I did not want to go through that again. I wasn’t dilated any further when they checked me again. Then, my contractions changed. They were more intense and closer together. I was begging John to take over for me for just a little bit, telling him that I wanted to go home. (Textbook irrational transition phrases here.)  I wanted an epidural in that moment. Fortunately, that never happened. Not long after they had checked me last, I had jumped to 8 1/2! They began prepping for delivery and left the room, telling me to hit the call button if I needed to push.

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They were gone for only 5minutes when I was like, I have to poop, how inconvenient of a time-wait! Baby! I have to push! I told John to press the button and tell them. The next contraction made the urge so overwhelming. They came in, my doctor not with them yet, just the hospital midwife. And just a few pushes later, before the doctor made it, the baby was out! They never had time to breakdown the bed for delivery. She was a natural. med-free birth, exactly what I needed after feeling a bit robbed with the pitocin and epidural I had with Joey. I’d do it again.

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John and I are over the moon and so incredibly in love with the tiny, perfect being we created. She’s amazing! She’s nursing wonderfully, gaining 13 oz in the week after our release from the hospital, entirely on my milk. I’m so happy.

Heavy, Heavy Stuff

Somewhere around 25 years ago, my mom began seeing a man. They’ve stuck together for all of these years, through all sorts of things. When I was in high school, they finally made it official and were married. You just assume that your parents are going to be around for awhile. When you are really young, you assume they arrived somewhere around the time dinosaurs were roaming the planet and will be around forever. I incorrectly assumed this with my dad and now am facing reality again, with my step-dad.

A couple of weeks ago he was admitted to the hospital with an infection in his intestines. It ended up being more than just that. It’s stage 4 colon cancer that has already spread. He, reasonably, sees chemo at this point as something that may or may not buy him a bit more time, but will just make him and everyone else a lot more miserable. He doesn’t want to know how long he has left. So now we wait.

Last night, once we knew what was going on for sure, I sat Joey down. Boppa, as he calls him, is one of his most favorite people and the “funniest guy he knows.” They have movie night together every weekend. He loves to listen to him talk. And now, at just eight, he’s about to lose that man. I am certain that it hasn’t sunk in. He doesn’t fully comprehend it at all right now. He was calm as I told him, not walking to talk, and answering me with just a “yeah” after each thing that I said. I would imagine that at some point soon he will have many questions for Boppa. Right now, he isn’t too interested in talking to us. But that was certainly one of my most difficult moments in parenting so far.

It’s scary how much cancer has touched his young life, taking his one grandfather before he was born and on its way to taking another, most likely before he ever reaches a double-digit age. The baby won’t ever remember him, never really knowing either of her two grandpas on my side. My step-dad worries about Joey not remembering him some day. But the two of them have created so many memories and Joey is plenty old enough. He still has a faded memory or two of my grandfather, who passed away when he was only two.

I am thankful that soon I will be starting three months away from work and am only four blocks away so that I can lend my support, but easily go back home when I need to. It’s going to be a difficult leave, but at least we all have this bright spot on her way in our lives.

Time Wasting Tuesday!

I’m still here. And still very pregnant. And very ready for this to be over. I’ve outgrown most of my maternity shirts, meaning if I don’t have a belly band or some over-the-belly pants, my belly hangs out of the bottom. Super-attractive. I’ve been wearing a lot of dresses and leggings and maxi skirts. (I am not going bare-legged to work. And tights just hurt my belly when under and won’t stay over.) And yoga pants and t-shirts when I am home and don’t care if the bottom of my belly happens to peek out.

Life has a lot of things going on right now and I’ve been pretty neglectful over here and for this, I apologize. I cannot promise, any longer, that this will necessarily change while I am on leave. Babies demand a lot of attention and some other things are rapidly changing my life in ways that I do not know how I will handle. More on that once we have definite answers this week.

But for now, I bring you some links!

Being Dad. As a mother of a child with a step-father who acts so much like a father to him, this made me cry. Add this to some other things in my life and being hormonal, I may not make it into work this morning.

I’m sure most people have heard about this by now, but maybe not. This woman is in jail for a job interview. While she did leave her children alone, which is certainly dangerous, it says something about the sorry state our world is in when this was her only viable option.

These Barbies. Amazing. And amazing what people will pay for them.

When I was little, I watched Ghostbusters one night and went to bed. And then woke up crying about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man coming to get me. This is one of the couple of dreams from my early childhood that I still vividly remember. (The other was Lady and the Tramp-inspired, from the scene where Lady is in the alley and the mean dogs are coming after her.) Here are some chosen selections from one of the greatest Twitter accounts out there.

This girl has some crazy talent when it comes to actually listening to a language.

Baby Flips (Oh God She’s Breech)

On Tuesday I felt less movement that usual, I had a headache, and nothing felt quite right. I called my doctor who, of course, sent me to Labor & Delivery for monitoring. In spite of the large amounts of ice that I eat all day long massive amount of water that I drink, I was a bit dehydrated, explaining the dizziness and some of the off feeling, as well as the headache that started while I was there. But the less movement? It wasn’t fully a thing. She was moving plenty. I just wasn’t adjusted to it because she has suddenly decided, at 36 weeks, breech is better. After I got home, I began to fully process this. Joey was born at 37 weeks. This only gives one week or so for her to turn before I fully panic.

Of course, most likely, this means a c section if she doesn’t. Which terrifies me. And, while I recognize that things may deviate from how I want them, I don’t want my mental birth guideline (I didn’t type it up. And birth isn’t something you can fully plan. My birth wish list? I don’t know.) to be thrown out the window before I even get there. So I did some reading. It turns out, delivering breech with an experienced provider has about an equivalent risk level of a c section. So now, can I find one?

I worried so much about everything, that I literally made myself sick yesterday. That, and I still had a headache and plenty more water to drink and ice to eat. I stayed home in bed, napping, drinking water, and searching breech babies on the Internet.

Last month, The Birthing Center of Buffalo opened after quite a battle to get there. I heard about it before they were open, before I was pregnant. Once I was pregnant, they were still fighting that battle and I stayed with my doctor, not wanting to switch when there was no definitive date. Last month, I heard they were opening, but figured it’s too late in the game now to switch. Then I realized something, perhaps they could be my solution. As I took control, I began to feel better. She may not flip. My current doctor may very well want to schedule a c section after an attempt at rotating her. I sent an email off to the center. They sent one back asking me to call and I am waiting to hear back since the director was busy. Tomorrow I go in for my normally scheduled OB appointment, where I will find out what options they have for me.

And for now, I will just keep breathing.

36 Weeks

There has been a serious lack of posts lately. I have too much going on and can’t work up the energy for most of it right now. Today marks 36 weeks of pregnancy. One more week and she won’t be considered pre-term. But I can’t shake this feeling that she will be early. Will it be this week? I honestly don’t feel that it’s impossible to say it won’t be. I have no reason to believe it, but I feel like it may happen.

I’ve also reached a point where the woman at the grocery store was terrified of packing my bags too full. I was tempted to invite her home to do some laundry for me. And then there was the middle-aged couple who felt the need to cut me off and race to the check-out line after repeatedly standing in front of popular items, such as bread and milk, reading labels and not moving until someone said excuse me. I’m really irritable. Like exceptionally so right now.

My step-dad is in the hospital and we are hoping that he gets out on Wednesday, depending on a lot of different things. He most definitely has an intestinal infection, but could have some other terrifying things. he has also demanded that this baby does not arrive until he is home.

The nursery is mostly done. We have some things to clean-up and the some wall decals on the way. And my brother still hasn’t gotten the mirror for the dresser out of his closet so that I can sand, paint, and attach that. But, all in all, we are in a good place. She’s in our room at first anyways.

Now to drag myself into work, which is getting more and more difficult.

Pregnancy Updates (So Skip if You Hate Babies)

The end of this pregnancy is approaching rapidly. At least, in theory it’s approaching rapidly and the weeks are flying by, but the individual days and hours are dragging. Yesterday at work there were a few shake-ups and just a lot to keep me going, so that helped yesterday go by faster. I feel like I have so much to do both there and at home.

And in more baby news, I am starting to drop a bit. I’ve had multiple people comment on this and I can breathe again, deeply even. My ribs don’t burn from the pressure of my massive uterus and short-self while I sit on the couch whimpering. The heartburn certainly still exists, but isn’t nearly as awful as it was a week or two ago. My bladder feels even more squished. And, lastly, there is definitely less space at the bottom of my uterus. It won’t even work to sit my stomach on my lap. It absolutely has to go between my legs, so I’ve been trying to watch what skirts and dresses I wear. And I am often forced to wear those because I literally have one pair of dress pants that still fit me and I still get sick regularly early in the morning, and that violence does no wonders for my bladder. This is a bit frightening since I’m only at 34 1/2 weeks and this isn’t my first baby, but sometimes people walk around like this for weeks.

This belly is around two weeks ago, when my heartburn was awful and my ribs made me cry. I just switched back to the iPhone from a Galaxy and stole it from my Instagram because I don’t have very many pictures right now.

Around 33 weeks pregnant

Oh gosh, and stairs. Walking up stairs makes me have Braxton-Hicks strong enough that they are noticeable and walking up a flight of stairs, particularly a work flight that is has way more steps than my home flight, just gets uncomfortable. I started taking the elevator to the second floor at work this week. I still walk down them, at least.

Last night we toured the hospital and I have no doubt that I picked a great place for this to happen. And Hubz is much more relaxed and less worried about the birth after seeing how wonderful the staff was and how much the nursery nurses loved on the babies. She brought one to the window and I wondered if my memory failed me or if Joey was really never that tiny. This one was a bit under 5 lbs. Definitely not my memory failing me after having my 8 lb 7 oz baby. And now here he is, in a rare moment when he is caught loving on his sister rather than complaining about having a sister. This one is about a month old, but too sweet not to share.

Joey snuggling with my belly

Tomorrow is my baby shower, making me just one more milestone closer to the end and marking the final days (for the rest of my life, even) of being pregnant. And next week we have one final ultrasound and then I am off to the doctor on a weekly basis.

Paring Down and Decluttering Life: Organizing

I’ve always been a self-described “messy, but organized” person. I know where things are 99.9% of the time and when they are organized, I am less likely to know where they are. Like my first pair of glasses that I got when I was 19. I lost them when I cleaned my dorm room. I had them up until then. It was after I did that thorough deep clean that they were never to be seen again. That stack of papers on the corner of my desk? I can tell you the contents. The ones neatly put away in that organizer? Heck if I know what’s in there. This trait makes it a whole lot harder to teach organization to your children because I know to most people, I don’t look particularly organized. I’m pretty sure Joey has no clue how secretly organized I am. Sometimes I fake it. Like at work, I have folders for this and that, I created tabs in my binders full of information, etc. (Just don’t open that top drawer. I keep things in there until I organize them every week or so. I should stop this so someone doesn’t need to deal with this when the move finally happens while I am on maternity leave.) I also love looking at office supplies, particularly that stuff meant for organization. It’s like I have dreams of it that will be forever unfulfilled.

Or, at least, until now were unfulfilled. Hubz and Joey are not particularly organized individuals either. And by not particularly, I would post pictures of all of our computer desks right now, but I would be mortified. Mine has craft supplies, tax papers, other papers, the box from my over-priced replacement MacBook Pro charger, and then all of my general desk “stuff.” I envy the minimalist desktops out there. Joey’s has unused paper plates (?!), Minecraft papercraft blocks, and miscellaneous toys. Hubz’s desk, well, yikes is all that I am going to say. I’m not sure what all is there.

So this morning I started in on the organization part. We now have a spreadsheet in Google Docs that Hubz and I can edit and Joey can view. It contains tabs with rules, expectations, consequences, all chores by the week, and a current to do list for each of us. It’s a massive work-in-progress right now, but it’s a start. I’d also like to start some better organizational things within our home, such as binders. I’ll have to organize my desk to clear my mind a bit better and create some printables that I will share. (Bonus: Both organizing my desk and creating printables can involve just sitting here, way better and more comfortable than getting up and doing the other items on my to do list.) But we are on our way there!

Paring Down and Decluttering Life: Calm

I don’t know if it’s the new baby on the way and some strange nesting tactic or what, but I’ve been wanting to make a lot of changes in our home lately. It could be the general need to get back to simplicity, knowing that we are taking on more in our lives. Either way, I’ve been doing a brief examination of different aspects of our lives, our household, and more and what I want to change. I feel that the chaos of life is getting to us all and sometimes I feel as though I am just treading water instead of moving forward in some areas. It’d be even better if I could just float on my back and enjoy the moment without worry. Actually, it’d be great if I could do that in reality right now because my body is sore and a pool sounds wonderful. In light of this, I would like to start a series on this blog on paring down and decluttering our lives. I’m sure that I can’t be the only one feeling this way. I’d like to say this will be weekly, but I am realistic. It’ll show up when it shows up. Perhaps as I remove some of the junk in other areas, it’ll be easier to keep up with it. I am by no means an expert. This is to help us through our own journey. I think that my game plan is to outline an area in need of work and report back later with progress. But this may evolve as this project evolves.

So first I would like to continue working on something that I have been working on for awhile. Staying calm. Decluttering the pointless anger and frustration. I’m not an expert. At all. But I’ve gotten better. Years ago, I was working, going to school, and raising Joey on my own. Hubz stepped into the picture and helped a little, I could sleep more and do homework with fewer interruptions. Prior to that, I would get angry easily. I am not proud of this at all. I was stressed. I was exhausted. These are obviously not good factors to have in life if I, or anyone else for that matter, wants to stay calm. I sleep a reasonable amount now. I don’t mind my job at all. I don’t have homework. These allow me to calmly speak to Joey when he is upset rather than becoming upset myself more often. But, sometimes, life gets the best of me, particularly right now with  these crazy hormones.

Hubz and Joey both are not calm either. Joey becomes very easily frustrated and reacts. Hubz then becomes angry with Joey for reacting. Joey’s anger lately scares me to the point where I am considering anger management right now. I’ve tried working with him and up until recently, every suggestion that I have given him is met with a stubborn “that won’t work.” Which then makes me need to take some extra deep breaths. The other night he became angry and broke one of his new toys, a rocket that he received for his birthday. I shooed an angry Hubz away and I sat Joey down on the couch next to me. I spoke in calm, even tones about how it makes him feel. (That’s another area of difficulty when dealing with Joey. He never is able to tell me how he feels, in spite of me giving him these words years ago.) He admitted, eventually, that it makes him scared and angry when he loses control. As I continued speaking to him, I felt him relax a bit more as he returned from that scary place. We went over the same old techniques, counting, deep breaths, a special place in his mind, and this time, for the first time ever, he wanted to try them! I really think that he is starting to worry himself a bit. I’ve planned on doing yoga regularly again once the baby comes and he wanted to join me, but I think that we need to find something in the meantime. Perhaps we can have regular meditation time.

But calm wins over anger. Rational brain sees this and sometimes wins the argument. I need to work on getting everyone on board with that. Hubz comes from a difficult place, entering the picture after Joey became an opinionated little boy. I can see how staying calm would be harder for him.

Slowly, we can all work through this and become a calmer, quieter household. It’ll certainly do our sanity some good while the baby is napping. I have a sneaking suspicion that either Hubz or Joey’s place exists in a video game somewhere. And I may need to find mine while driving. I tend to get a tiny bit angry sometimes.

Time-Wasting Tuesdays, Brightening Up Your Winter One Link At a Time

Hello there. I’m cleaning out a few older links of mine today, with some brand new stuff mixed in.

How any good feminist puts on her make-up on (entirely for herself, of course):

If you, or anyone you know, is in the Buffalo area and lacking Valentine’s reservations, the Black Market Food Truck’s Valentine’s special sounds amazing.

On moving forward

This car full of flowers is so beautiful and so springy and such a contrast to these days, exactly what I needed.

I was surprised once to learn that people who don’t live near the Erie Canal still know the song. Anyway, this guy wants a mule named Sal.

I’ve been feeling pretty uncool lately. I think it’s an age thing. Thank goodness there are children out there to help me out with this problem, well if I had homework.

I’ve been sick with a stomach bug since Sunday. Perhaps I should try mixing it up if I call in another day?

It’s never too early to start thinking about your garden. If you have planting to do, which I plan on doing this year, you need only to put in your last frost date, found here if you are in the US, and you can get a list of what you should plant when. Sadly, I’m about a month and a half away from even considering anything. (Which, might I add, coincides with the tail-end of my pregnancy, a time when bending down to plant will be highly unlikely. I may end up with a late start.)

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