Mama Did it Better

The other day, my brother sent over a bunch of pictures from a trip my family took when I was three. These photos are all on slides (Remember those, boys and girls?) and as such have not been seen since that one time in 1984 when my dad rolled out the slide projector.

I don’t remember this trip at all. These photos did, however, serve two purposes.

1) Confirm that I was an adorable three year old. With the majority of the documented proof being on slides, this has often come up for debate.

2) Confirm that my mom looked amazing. When this picture was taken, my mom was 39 and the mother to three small children.

1234

I’m 37 with just one kid, and I look like an extra from The Walking Dead.

I wish I could call her and ask her what her secret was. Among so many other things.

 

I’m a Fighter! (Or Am I?)

Why, Universe?! Why must you keep punching me in the face?!

So daycare is quickly imploding. That’s happening.

About a week ago, I got a text saying that daycare would no longer be allowing our Early Intervention coordinator to visit Chick on site. Less than 24 hours before her scheduled weekly visit.

The reasons given were weird– a combination for “too many kids in the classroom” and “another kid is having anxiety issues.” Regardless, the results were the same. No Early Intervention. No way, no how.

On short notice, Chick and I were able to meet with the EI coordinator at my home, but I ended up being two hours late for work. Daycare was all “This was a great solution, let’s just keep doing this!”  I was all “My being two hours late for work isn’t a solution at all. Let’s find a way for him to meet on site!”

Still no dice.

The emails back and forth have been so frustrating. With each and every one, my daycare seems to be showing that they don’t understand the regulations that are laid out by the state. It’s a little unnerving. Not only is it illegal (yes! ILLEGAL!) to deny services to children with developmental delays, it’s downright shitty that they are prioritizing the needs of other children to the detriment mine. This part is a little bit selfish, but as Chick’s parent it is my job to be selfish.

Through these emails, they have also divulged information about other children and families that I’m not supposed to know about. I’m not a childcare professional, but damn it, I even know this.

Last night I got an email which basically says it would be totally okay for us to find care elsewhere. A nice way of saying “Take you and your needs out of my classroom.”

Today I met with the EI coordinator and her office’s child care advocate (basically the liaison to daycares.) They were helpful and supportive, reiterating that I’m in the right here.

The trouble is… I don’t know if right really matters.

I’m caught between doing what’s right and doing what’s right for Chick.

What’s “right” might be educate them on how children with developmental needs should be cared for and what is covered under the law. Perhaps even point out that they are in violation of the licensing board and force them to see Chick on site.

What’s “right for Chick” might be to remove him from this place entirely. Start over somewhere else that understands the value of Early Intervention. (That also has availability, extended hours, and is in my price range. Ahem…)

There is a part of me that just wants to take my toys and go home. This is bullshit and I don’t want to deal with it anymore. Another part of me wants to stand on principle and fight. Because this can’t be the only EI kid they will ever care for. Maybe next time, they’ll understand the level of care and flexibility that they are required to provide. (BY LAW. Did I mention that?)

Not to mention I really don’t want to find another daycare. This one was working so well, until… well, it didn’t work out at all.


A little Early Intervention PSA: These are programs supported by states that help children who are identified as having developmental challenges. Since Chick was so early, he qualified for the program fairly quickly as is the case with a lot of premature babies. Fortunately, he is meeting all his developmental goals despite his premie-ness. For this I am grateful. Still, most programs don’t recommend ending services until the child is walking and talking.

If you suspect your kid may have developmental delays, I would totally encourage seeking an evaluation. It breaks my heart when people don’t want to get their children evaluated because they think this means that their child isn’t “normal” or that they are “stupid.” Yes, your child may need different kinds of support, but this makes them no less perfect.

 

 

No In-Betweens

Here’s my realization on juggling parenting, working, and life-ing: When it works, it is awesome. When it doesn’t, it is a complete shit show. There are no in betweens.

On a good day– when Chick wakes up well, eats well, gets to daycare on time, and my day is only 50% meetings– I feel like this is all totally doable. Harried, but doable.

If one tiny thing is off– say Chick pees and pukes all over the place, requiring two changes of clothes before 8:15 am– the rest of my day is off kilter. It’s like a domino effect of crap.

So when something big is off– say my daycare saying the our Early Intervention coordinator is no longer allowed to come for her weekly visits with Chick– it is like napalm has been dropped into my otherwise happy little existence.

I’m not going to go into details because this is an evolving thing– in fact, denying access to the EI coordinator could actually be illegal. I seriously doubt that this will end up in court, but you know… just in case.

I will say that on Tuesday I was given less than 24 hours notice, and found myself scrambling to make sure Chick could keep meeting with his EI coordinator. He has been making great progress, hitting all the major milestones, and I like to think that is in part because of the extra care and attention he is receiving. So imagine my surprise panic when the director told me that they wouldn’t be accommodating EI visits anymore.

The rest of the week has just been miserable. The emails back and forth, trying to understand what is going on with daycare, balancing this with work, all day trainings, presentations that I literally made up IN THE MEETING 5 minutes before I was about to go on, a job interview… On one hand, I give myself props for not completely dropping any one ball.

On the other hand, I’m tired. TIRED.

giphy (2)

This may have been me this week. Maybe.

Then I got an email about sippy cups which sent me over the edge. As if it weren’t enough that I’m barely keeping up at work and daycare is being remarkably inflexible and vague, I’m apparently supposed to be introducing sippy cups to Chick now? WTF? How did I miss the parenting memo on SIPPY CUPS?! I AM THE WORST PARENT EVER!

After some sobbing (which may or may not have been in the shower at 6:15 in the morning while I was also trying to wash my hair and brush my teeth,) I got my shit together and realized I am not the worst parent ever. I’m just like every other parent– trying their damnedest to keep up.

Infertility as Period Drama

WARNING: This could contain Downton Abbey spoilers.

I’m a Downton Abbey fan. Actually, I’m a most things Masterpiece fan. I was weened on PBS, and as a result I have a soft spot in my heart for period dramas.

Downton Abbey had me at hello. Gorgeous costumes, beautiful sets, Mary Crawley who reminds me of myself… if I had been born the daughter of an Earl in the 1900’s. The show is in its final season, and it has taken some truly absurd turns. Sometimes it feels like Dallas set in the English country side, but whatevs…

There is a plot line this season which hits a particular sore spot for me. One of the characters, the long suffering Anna, seems to be having repeat pregnancy loss. According to her count, she has had two– maybe three– miscarriages. This isn’t the first time infertility has been hinted at… My spirit animal, Mary Crawley, was having difficultly delivering an heir so she mysteriously went to a doctor who mysteriously fixed it all up. There is no explanation, just that everything is fiiiiine now. And a few scenes later, she’s pregnant.

giphy (1)

“Leave me so I can die barren and alone in a shanty.”

So… back to Long Suffering Anna… Anna is married to guy named Bates who’s sole purpose seems to be getting accused for murder. (But he is a sweet loving man, honest!) In the past few episodes, Anna has confessed her multiple miscarriages to Bates who is all “You can’t have a baby? NBD. I love you, girl.” Anna is all “I can’t give you what you want. We’ll be miserable and childless forever.” Note: this conversation always seems to happen in the boot room where they are cleaning other people’s shoes.

I’ve had a funny reaction to these boot room heart-to-hearts. On one hand, I feeeeeel this. Though I thankfully have never had a miscarriage, I have had the “Leave me so I can die childless and alone” conversation with Mr. O, as have most infertile people at some point in their journey. Thankfully both Anna and I are married to fundamentally decent people who think more of us than we do ourselves. (And thankfully this is where Mr. O’s similarities with Bates end.)

On another hand, I’m annoyed. Now that I can witness this with some distance, thanks to time and fiction, I just want Anna to stop whimpering. He says he loves you. You’re enough. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Yes, I know this sounds heartless coming from someone who spent YEARS feeling sorry for herself, this blog being exhibit A, B, and C. Still… I’m tired of all the crying in the boot room.

This week, we learned that Anna’s problem is… an incompetent cervix, easily fixed with few stitches. By golly, it is practically painless! She won’t even need to go to hospital! Hoorah, hooray!

And now is when I get annoyed again. At the writers for trying make this something you just solve with a few stitches. Because we don’t really get to see the toll this takes on Anna. We likely won’t see how Anna walks on eggshells during her pregnancy because she is vaguely terrified her baby will slip out of her vagina… likely in the boot room while she is polishing Lady Mary’s shoes.

It’s strange to see something so personal dramatized as entertainment or a plot twist. I wince a little every time.

A day in the life

Like many new parents, I get emails from companies trying to sell me shit. Or get me to sign up for shit. Or whatever. I’ve mostly ignored them, but there are a few I find helpful on occasion. One is Lucie’s List, which I’m a big fan of. Useful information with a dash of humor. I also like the ones from BabyCenter, because they recommend different development games you can play with your baby based on their age. A lot of the other stuff on their site is mindnumbingly idiotic, but there are a few gems.

So I was poking around the site this morning and came across something called “Baby Schedules.” I think “Huh? Baby schedules? Isn’t the whole point of babies that they say ‘F*CK YOU!’ to any and all plans?”  Needless to say, I was intrigued.

The article goes on to link to 8 different schedules, based on a whole bunch of variables.

Are you a stay at home mom?  Or are you a formula feeding working mom? How about a stay at home mom who is breastfeeding twins? We’ve got you covered!

Then I read these schedules and laughed my ass off. Of course, I picked the one that most closely resembles my sitch, only to realize whoever wrote this is a plan old liar. Okay, maybe not a liar, but leaving out all the good parts.

So ladies… here for your entertainment is my “Schedule” (Really. This happened yesterday.)

6:15 am: Wake up, stumble into the shower. My child is awesome and has slept through the night again. Hear Chick thrashing around in his crib the moment water hits my face. Realize I have about 10 minutes before he gets all diva on my ass.

6:25 am: Hop out of the shower to Chick getting his bossy on. Ask Mr. O to delay leaving for work by 5 minutes so I can dry off and put some product in my hair while he attends to The Supreme Leader.

6:30 am: Take Chick from Mr. O. Sing him his “Good Morning” song as I change his diaper and take him out of his pjs.

6:45 am: Heat up Chick’s bottle with his daily dose of vitamins while performing our morning “chores” which include turning down the heat, turning off his humidifier, and setting up my pump equipment.

7:00 am: Feed Chick. First we breastfeed, then he takes an oz or so from the the vitamin bottle. Chick has decided he would rather yell into my boob than eat from it. He also decides that smacking me in the face while nursing is a great way to test out his new motor skills.

7:30 am: Chick is finished eating. I lay him down in the middle of my bed so that I can get dressed while he laughs and plays. Then it’s time to get Chick dressed, which proves a little challenging because he has recently discovered that he has feet. “Look, Mom! I have FEET! Feet that can go in my mouth! What do you mean you need to put my pants on?”

7:45 am: Chick and I migrate to the living room where he hangs out in his exersaucer while I pump, ideally for 20 minutes. I’ve got a lot of milk let in them boobies, since Chick decided food time was actually fun time.

7:55 am: Chick develops a deeply complicated relationship with the starfish on his exersaucer. He laughs one minute, cries the next. Then laughs again. I apply makeup because no one needs to know what my face really looks like.

8:00 am: Chick and Starfish are no longer on speaking terms. From across the room, hooked up to my breast pump, I try to distract him from this painful break up with a basket of shiny toys. (We’ve all done that once or twice, amiright?)

8:05 am: I unhook myself from the pump, and attempt to get Chick’s bottles ready for the day. This requires that I’m in the kitchen, and Chick must have an audience AT ALL TIMES or there will be yelling. So I run back into the living room, take Chick out of the exersaucer and prepare all the bottles and his bag for daycare with one hand.

8:15 am: Take Chick into his room to get his winter gear. As if sensing I might want to leave the house soon, Chick pukes all over himself. My catlike reflexes successfully keep most of the puke off me and his clothes, but not the floor. SPLAT. And so I find myself cleaning puke from the floor with a baby on my hip.

[I would like to point out that I have now been awake for over 2 hours.]

8:25 am: I wrestle Chick into his bunting and car seat. Little known fact: This is apparently an act of torture as outlined by the Geneva Convention.

8:35 am: I waddle out to the car with a baby, my laptop, pump equipment for the day, and Chick’s daycare bag. Get in the car, and get on the road.

8:45 am: Get to daycare, hoist Chick out of the car. Carry him and all his crap up the very steep driveway that leads to daycare. Drop him off.

8:55 am: Arrive at work and get an amazing parking spot. SCORE.

9:05 am: I’ve settled into my desk with a cup of coffee, only to realize something smells like… what is that smell? Is that…?  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I missed a puke spot.

9:15 am: Run to the bathroom to clean up said puke and readjust scarf to cover it up.

10:00 am: Skype meeting with colleague in London.

10:35 am: Said meeting runs over, so I am 5 minutes late to my pump session. Run over the Mothers Room and attach vacuum suction to my boobs. I’ve given up on the idea I can concentrate on anything while pumping and watch “Ms. Fisher’s Murder Mysteries” in 20 minute installments.

12:00 pm: Eat lunch at my desk to prepare slides for a meeting the next day. I wade through spreadsheets like a shipwrecked cast away.

1:30 pm: Pump session #2. Finally find out who is responsible for poisoning the old lady in “Mozzarella and MURDER.”

2:00 pm: Run to another meeting with someone who makes my brain itch. Try very hard not to think “I put my baby in daycare for this shit?!”

3:00 pm: Weekly status meeting. I say smart things. Mr. O texts me to say that he forgot he has a haircut appointment after work, so could I do pick up? Please?

4:25 pm: Last office pump session of the day. I get started a little early so I can maybe leave a little early since I now have to do daycare pick up.

4:55 pm: Just about to leave when my boss wants to catch up the presentation for tomorrow’s meeting. I walk through it a few times. We’re all set.

5:35 pm: Make it to daycare. Chick just fell asleep, and I’m the meanie who wakes him up for his most favorite thing: bunting and car seat time! Yelling!

5:55 pm: Home. Chick sits in his car seat peacefully for about 5 minutes before the grunting and whining begins.

6:05 pm: I realize Mr. O never told me when he was coming home. Realize I will have to make dinner and hold Chick at the same time. I put him in his Becco, and chop vegetables while dancing him around to Shakira. (Yes, my baby likes Shakira. His hips don’t lie…)

6:45 pm: Mr. O still isn’t home yet, and Chick and I are both getting hungry. I make dinner while bouncing Chick on my hip.

7:15 pm: Mr. O gets home just as I finish cooking. I would sass him at his inability to let me know when he would be home, but I’m too hungry to give a shit.

7:30 pm: Food is on the table. Mine, Chick’s, Mr. O’s. Because Chick is all about the solids, he gets excited by the avocado just inches from his face, so I put down my fork and feed him. After about 10 minutes, Mr. O offers to feed Chick so I can eat. I say “Thank you” out loud and things that aren’t so nice in my head.

7:45 pm: Mr. O (who normally does all the dishes and bottles) offers me one of two options. I can a) play with Chick while he does the dishes or b) I can do the dishes while he has some Chick time. I opt for dishes because though I love my kid, I need some alone time right about now.

8:00 pm: Finish the dishes and the bottles. Wonder how it takes Mr. O twice as long when he does them. (Ahem. SERIOUSLY.)

8:30 pm: Start socializing the idea of bedtime. Change Chick into his pjs, sing him his pajama song, and get his room ready for the night.

8:45 pm: Nurse Chick. He struggles for about 5 minutes, then gives in. I hand him over to Mr. O who gives him a bottle and then puts him to bed.

9:15 pm: Last pump session of the day. To make this less tedious, I reward myself with a bowl of ice cream. Not sure why I bother because I get an ounce at most. Put all my pump equipment in the wash. Brush my teeth. Get ready for bed.

9:45 pm: Finally in bed. Read for 10 minutes until I pass out.

Then we wake up and do it all over again.

 

6 Months FTW!

First, I’m sucking at blogging right now. Sorry it has been awhile. I have three posts I’ve been incrementally working on but never fully satisfied with. Someday, I may even publish them.

I’m sucking less at life, however, and this strikes me as more important. On the good news front:

  • Chick went to his 6 month check up and was a dream (More on that later.)
  • Grumpy Cat is using litter once more, after a lot of intervention. It’s a mess, but at least it is a mess in a box.
  • We finally agreed on who to make Chick’s guardian should tragedy strike– and said person accepted. Now we just need to make that final and legal and shit. 

So, yes… I’ve been busy. But now on to the stuff you’re actually interested in.

We took Chick to his 6 month checkup yesterday and by all accounts he is doing wonderfully. From the tiny peanut who arrived in July, he is now in the 64% for head circumference, 50% for height, and 26% for weight. This last one is a huge improvement– he was just at 10% at his last checkup in November. As his pediatrician flipped him on his belly, Chick struck the “perfect 6 month pose”, holding his head up with a big, drooly grin.

He had his vaccinations, which I’m no fan of. Scratch that- I’m fine with vaccinations, I’m just a complete wimp when my child gets them. I’m not sure who cries more. He was mostly okay with them this time around, except he had a huge, fussy, crying fit going to bed. The only thing that calmed him was a snuggle and some booby time. Then he passed out from sheer exhaustion.

Chick is an amazing little being. He is rolling over, standing (assisted, mind you) and just starting to sit up on his own. He is even learning to turn pages of books, proving that he is actually my child even if he doesn’t look like me one bit.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been reintroducing milk and soy to my diet to fantastic results. No bloody stool. No puking. So I’m mowing down chocolate and butter like it’s 1999.

I think we’ll start solids this week. I was getting all “To Baby Led Wean or not to Baby Led Wean,” when Chick’s pedi told me to calm down and do whatever I wanted. In her mind, now is about introducing flavors and textures. Don’t over think it. And so I’m not going to BLW. Long story, but since Chick tends to be a smidge delayed (thanks to his premie-ness) I’d rather feed him ourselves.

6 months is also a milestone for me. I’m still breastfeeding like a boss! What people don’t tell you is that breastfeeding is a huge ass commitment. I’ve calculated that it takes 2.5 hours out of my day every day (on the days he is at daycare.) Not to mention I have to make sure I’m eating and drinking enough, taking my prenatals, blah, blah, blah… When will the world realize that feeding a human being is a lot of motherf*cking work! So breaking it into 3 month increments felt less daunting. I’ve decided to re-up until he is 9 months, and see how I feel from there.

As every parent has said at one point, I can’t believe how quickly these months have passed. I’ve loved watching Chick learn, helping him grow, and seeing the world new through his eyes.

It’s some trippy shit, I tell ya…

The Year of the Crucible

The end of another year. The chance to sit back and reflect on what has happened and what is yet to come.

If it were possible, I would literally set fire to 2015. Burn it down like a viking burial. Of course, knowing my luck, any fires set would turn into full on conflagrations. So I leave the matches where they are.

For a long time I thought that having a baby would erase every terrible thing. It was, after all, what I wanted more than I have ever wanted anything. It didn’t. I don’t mean to down play how much I love my son. Looking back on it, it was a little naive to think any one thing could get rid of all the other heartache. He is a darling, but it is unfair to saddle him with that kind of emotional responsibility. So instead, I will let him be what he is– my sweet, cuddly, fierce son.

New Years, like new babies, hold the promise of starting fresh. Of hitting the reset button. But perhaps this is a disingenuous way to start anything. You can’t leave it all behind. You have to take some of it with you.

So rather than pretend like 2015 didn’t happen, I will honor it for what it was. A crucible in which who I am and am becoming was forged.