Requiem for a Breakfast Sandwich

This weekend…

It was baaaaad, y’all.

I suppose you could say that it all started Friday afternoon. I’m fortunate enough to work on a team that has something called “Summer Fridays” where we leave around noon every Friday until the end of August. It’s lovely. In my previous non-baby days, I would get an iced coffee and stroll. Maybe get home by 3:00 and take a nap.

So far this summer I have spent them manically doing whatever it is that I can’t manage to accomplish during the week. These things include cooking, cleaning, putting away Chick’s old clothes, dropping things off at Goodwill… you get the picture. By the time dinner rolls around, I’m exhausted and twitchy.

This Friday was no different. I mopped the floors, sorted through some of Chick’s baby things to donate to a local family, and made dinner. Perhaps there is some lingering resentment because I remember how carefree these afternoons used to be. But I was not a happy ostrich by the end of the evening.

We put Chick down, and I read for about 20 minutes before falling asleep. At 4:15 am, Chick woke up crying. No, make that wailing. So I went in, reacquainted him with his pacifier and lovey, and went back to bed. This kid knows how to self-soothe. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, so I had no idea what his damage was. And yet, the crying continues. On and off for TWO HOURS. Either Mr. O or I checked on him periodically to make sure nothing horrible was happening. At 6:30 am, I said “Screw it.” and took him into bed with us where he thrashed around for another hour until we admitted defeat.

I was a zombie the whole morning. I bitched out the utility worker who asked me to move my car because he needed to do construction, and proceeded to bitch out every living creature I came into contact with. In a fit of frustration, I actually punched my breakfast sandwich. That happened.

On our list of to-dos that morning were going to the farmers market and opening a checking account for Chick– we needed somewhere  to officially put his birthday money, rather than just hiding it in our mattress.

The farmer’s market was hot and sticky. We got a late start, so missed the baby-friendly drumming circle at 10. Though I love our farmer’s market, I also sorta hate the process because I’m usually doing the actual shopping. Mr. O sits back with Chick in a stroller while I decide what we’re eating for the week and (wo)man-handle the produce.

After this, we go to the bank to open the account. I will spare you the gory details, only to say that this took an hour and a half to do. At first, I was pleasant with the banker since it was her first time setting up an account for a minor. Then Chick started to fuss. Then she kept trying to get me to sign up for ancillary services I didn’t need. Then Chick freaked the f*ck out. Then I became surly.

Once at home, we all ate lunch and then all took a much needed nap. (Aside: There are few things sweeter than napping with a baby.)

In the afternoon, we installed Chick’s new car seat and did a few other home-related stuff. I harrumphed a little because the day felt like such a let down. Mr. O felt it was a success because we “got shit done.”   

The next day was a little better. We went to a fellow one year old’s birthday, where there was a pool. Chick was the most adorable, loved playing in the water with a bright red ball. For that fleeting 30 minutes, I was light. Watching his little face light up when we tossed the ball toward him, or when he splashed in the water… I don’t know how to explain it other than to say I was grateful to that family for inviting us to their kid’s birthday so we could have a few minutes as a family just being happy.

Idyllic.

And then we went back to reality.

Folks, I’m just going to come out and say it. I’m not happy. I don’t get how other people do this. Why can’t I just hold on to that 30 minutes at the pool and build my life around that? Instead, I feel the collective weight of the dirty floors, the chores, the inept bank tellers, the meals that need to be made, the unending cycle of the STUFF that needs to be done or our little family can’t function.

Earlier, I picked a fight with Mr. O where I was nitpicking what he spends money on each week. It was a total dick move on my part. I don’t know where it came from, but it wasn’t a color that looked good on me. After we cooled down, I sat in the living room crying because I just don’t enjoy anything anymore.

I feel like I’m drowning. In the last few weeks, I’ve had trouble eating. I’ll be in the middle of a meal, and I’m all of a sudden just off my food. I kept thinking that this would go away once I was past Chick’s first birthday and a big project launch at work. But that was weeks ago, and I still feel like I’m on an hamster wheel.

I punched a sandwich, for Christ sake. Not everyone resorts to abusing breakfast foods because they’ve got shit to do.

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There Ain’t No Easy Way Out (of the East Coast)

(Pardon my use of poor grammar. Blame Tom Petty.)

Blaaaaagh.

I’m being a total weirdo right now. But if you can’t be a weirdo on your own anonymous blog, where can you?

So.

If anything good has come out of my interviewing for the best job I will never have, it is the realization that I’m ready for something new. I’m fairly certain that something new is a drastic change in scenery. After 18 years as a Southerner and almost 20 as a Northerner, I’m ready to move West. This isn’t wholly arbitrary– Mr. O and I have visited various western cities over the last few years and really love it out there. Besides… why the hell not?

Now that Mr. O and I have pretty much agreed on a move being vaguely in our future… I agonize. Did you know that “West” is a pretty large portion of the country? We’ve narrowed it down to “Somewhere in California” and “Generally Seattle.” I start googling, feel nauseous, then google pictures of puppies in order to avoid any real decision making.

Because this is the only way I can tackle large problems, here is my list of criteria:

  1. Mid-sized city with a few larger employers. I tend to bounce every 3-5 years, so there has to be another game in town for me to rationalize moving there.
  2. Decent standard of living. I would like to be able to buy a modest house wherever I live next. No McMansions, just a nice lil’ bungalow with room outback for a smoker. (Cue my dream of smoking my own meats.)
  3. ~ 30 minutes commute time. I would rather spend time with my family than in traffic with thousands of my closest over-worked and over-tired friends.
  4. No hyper-conservative local governments. Look, I spent my entire childhood in a state that is currently under travel advisory by the UK because of its idiotic policies. I’m not subjecting myself or my family to that level of inanery.

Other considerations… I would like a good-ish school system, but I’m not above sending Chick to private school. I would love to send my kid to the public school system, but ultimately I’m okay with being bourgie if I have to be.

That makes it sound soooo easy, right? I want there to be some form on the interwebs where I can plop all this information and it will give me a list of the top 5 cities for me to focus on. But the best I can come up with are useless Buzzfeed quizzes that tell me my spirit animal is Wyoming or something else equally unhelpful.

Regardless, I need to come up with a plan to escape the east. Any thoughts, recommendations, or pictures of cute puppies welcome.

Bottles are for Suckers

About a week ago, Mr. O picked Chick up from daycare and they mentioned that he hardly took any bottle at all. At first they thought he is just going off breast milk. A weird idea to me, but one I welcomed since… well, I’m so over pumping. Nursing is fine, but this ‘round the clock business while I’m at work is cramping my style.

So we upped the formula and thought that would be the beginning of the end. It was, alright… the end of my SANITY.

You see, Chick hasn’t gone off breast milk. Au contraire, mon ami- Chick still loves boob time. What he has turned his back on is bottles. He will drink at most 6 oz over the course of the day from a bottle. Attempts to get him to drink more are futile unless he goes right to the source, i.e. me.

(Before you ask, yes I have tried to introduce sippy cups. #epicfail)

After some back and forth with Chick’s doctor, we’ve determined the best path forward is to make sure he is eating more solids, and more high calorie foods. So rather than preparing one lunch and two snacks for him every day, I’m making three god damn meals for him to take to daycare. This does not include breakfast and dinner which are served at home.

I’m making this little despot angel 5 meals a day. 5 MEALS!

I spent 4 hours chopping, steaming, mushing, and freezing food yesterday. Not only that, the added pressure of varying flavor combinations and textures. Butternut squash, apples and farro, butternut squash, golden beets and brown rice, golden beets, zucchini and pasta, zucchini and pear, sweet potatoes and black beans, avocado, black beans and quinoa… LENTILS! Lentils and pear and farro, lentils, apple and quinoa, lentils and sweet mother of pearl…

After hours in the kitchen making his meals for the week and then making our dinner for the night, I sat down with Mr. O and Chick. My one concession to this whole thing is that when Chick is at home, he is eating whatever we are (or some version thereof.) Last night, Mr. O and I were eating pork loin, lentil salad, and sauteed fiddleheads. Chick was eating some of the lentils, pork, and freshly prepped pears.

Chick hated it. All of it.

Now, maybe it was the hours of standing and cooking in the kitchen, which is exhausting under any circumstances. Maybe it was the indignity of having spent all that time making food only to have Chick reject it. After caving and giving him some stupid Happy Baby Organics packet usually reserved for emergencies, I asked Mr. O to take him for 10 minutes. I went to my bedroom and cried.

I have not been this frustrated since Chick was 2 months old, ironically also around food. It was the final nursing of the evening and Chick was still hungry. Mr. O was taking a bit longer than Chick would have liked heating up the bottle, and he just sat in my arms crying. So I cried. We both cried. It felt desperate, but also glorious in a weird way. There is something really liberating about admitting to misery.

It isn’t all bad, of course. While I was in the midst of my cooking marathon, Chick hung out in the kitchen with me playing with books, eating scraps, and banging on the floor with a pastry brush. I loved watching his face light up when he turned to the pages in his book, or when his faced turned after eating a raw piece of zucchini. But after this weekend, I’m going to seriously consider supplementing his lunch box with some store bought options… I’d rather spend my weekends with my baby than making food for him.

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.

 

 

There’s No Place like Not Home for the Holidays

It’s that time of year, friends. When Starbucks red cups abound, and people shriek in terror that we’re declaring a war on Christmas because they can’t find anything else better to do.

If you’re me, it’s also that time of year when impatient relatives start asking where you are spending the holidays, with the implicit expectation that you’ll be spending it with them. (Obviously.)

This year we have the added pressure of “Where are you spending Chick’s first Christmas?!”

Answer? Not with any of you motherf*ckers.

Strangely, my family has been pretty okay with this answer. Maybe it is because I’ve been living so far away from them for so long that they’ve gotten used to not seeing me around the Christmas table. Maybe it is because they pragmatically understand that I burned through every last second of vacation time while I was trying to make up for the 4 week gap between when my leave ended and daycare started. (One of the many complications of having your baby show up waaaaay ahead of schedule.)

No, no…this particular episode of crazy is brought to us by the following sponsors: Mr. O’s dad and Mr. O’s mom. (Seperately. Because let us remember that they dislike each other so much I’m sure they would be appalled I just lumped them into one sentence with nary a comma between them.)

Christmas was always difficult for Mr. O as a kid. In fact, he hated Christmas when I first met him. I couldn’t understand why. Christmas is filled with presents, singing, long lazy days in your pj’s by the fire! Not his. His were filled with being shuttled from one house to the next, waking up before dawn to spend hours in the car, typically culminating with a fight between his two parents.

After a few years of witnessing this first hand, I got it. Christmas as he knew it did suck. Does suck. Because it is December 25th or nothing. If we don’t spend December 25th with his mother or father, they both believe that it’s like we didn’t see them at all. If we manage to squeeze them both in? It’s a question of who we saw first. Or for the longest time. There is always a yardstick that we are not measuring up to.

As I’ve mentioned before, Mr. O is determined that this won’t happen to Chick. There will not be two Christmases or two Thanksgivings. We’ll have ONE, and if people want to come and act civil, that’s wonderful. But as I saw first hand in the Baby Shower Skirmish, civil is too much to ask for.

Feuding parents? Scarier than the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog!

Feuding parents? Scarier than the Killer Rabbit of Caerbannog!

So how do two grown ups deal with a situation like this? Run away! RUN AWAY!

If all goes well, we’ll be spending Christmas in a cabin on a farm. Just the three of us. I’m planning on naps, hot cocoa, and watching Chick play with wrapping paper.

The thing is I know that this decision will not go over well. And you know what? I kinda don’t care. No, wait… I ACTUALLY DON’T CARE.

Mr. O is all about fleeing for the holidays. In fact, he wants this to be our tradition– we always go some place else. Maybe it is a way for him to separate our family from the clear dysfunction of his. We’ll be our own unit, with our own traditions. In theory, I’m okay with this. I really don’t like Christmas with his family because there is so much tension and so little joy. Where this solution starts to break down is when I think back on my family Christmases. I remember the excitement of being the first person up in the morning so I could open the advent calendar my mom made by hand. I have such great memories of listening to Bing on the turntable and singing “Mele Kalikimaka” loudly (and poorly.) And later, I love the tradition my parents introduced of letting the grandchildren pick one ornament off their tree for the kids to take home for keeps.

But, as Mr. O points out, it’s hard to sell his family on not being home for the holidays when that really means pointedly not being with his parents. It almost would make the matter worse.

This year, we’re sticking to our guns and running for the hills. Next year? Not quite sure how that’s going to shake out. Maybe by that time, everyone will have stopped talking to us. One can only hope!

L&D. Without the D

It has been a completely chaotic, exhausting past few days. I can’t even. But you know… this is a blog, so I’ll give it a whirl.

Day Three of bed rest felt pretty uneventful. Sure, I was going a little squirrely, but this is what happens when you barricade yourself in your house for days. And I’m very much a social animal, so hanging out with just me, my cat, and Chick for hours a day was pretty ridiculous. I was reeaallly looking forward to getting the all clear on Saturday.

I was optimistic. I’d had no real spotting, I’d been taking it easy. I was so optimistic, I was so bold as to have PLANS for the afternoon.

You know where is this going, don’t you? We all know what happens when I think I can have plans…

I got to the office, and they hooked up to the monitoring machine. For no reason, I can just sense that something isn’t right. Chick’s heart beat sound erratic. It has never been erratic, so I’m sure the nurse who has hooked me up has done it wrong. I was, it turns out, correct. After a replacement of the paddle, Chick’s heart rate was just fine. My uterus, however, was not. I was having tiny contractions– that I couldn’t feel– that were pretty steady.

Me no likey.

So after about 45 minutes of monitoring, my midwife does a manual exam. My cervix had the audacity to shorten even more. And because it feels like being even more of an asshole, it decided to get its dilation on. Not a lot, but it is a change. Change at this stage of the game isn’t a good thing.

So I won myself a weekend in Labor & Delivery. Before anyone freaks out… I had labor, but thankfully no delivery. Chick is still hanging out in my uterus. I am now, however, a bigger shit show than I was before all this started. Which was considerable in the first place. But where was I…

Ah, yes… When my midwife told me I need to go to the hospital for monitoring, I burst into tears. Look, I have been in bed since SUNDAY (remember, before the bed rest was a head cold.) I was really looking forward to getting on with my life. Not to mention, I didn’t want to have a baby right at that moment. Nothing personal, Chick. I’m looking forward to meeting you and everything, but you need to cook a little bit longer. So STAY IN MY BELLY.

Mr. O drove me to the hospital, and I bawled the whole time. You see, along with not wanting to have a baby that day, I’ve developed a genuine fear of hospitals. This is what happens when your mom spends a year in the ICU after a terrible medical accident. You develop a pathological fear of hospitals, IVs, nursing gowns, etc. (Yes, I realize I’m going to have to deal with this pretty fucking soon. But today I just need to write this blog and take a goddamn nap.)

Crying in public, as we’ve previously discussed, has become a specialty of mine. So I proceeded to cry at every single human being I encountered. The parking attendant. The receptionist. The lady at the check in desk. The multiple nurses who came in and out of my room. I had to ask for a refill on the weak ass tissues they gave me.

Though I was weeping like a maniac, I was also a very charming patient. Again, after spending a year visiting my mom in the hospital, I know the right combination of polite and pathetic that gets you in with the nurses. Fortunately (?) for me, nothing is more pathetic than a pregnant crying lady. And the lingering residue of my southern upbringing has given me excellent manners.

The nurses hooked me up to an IV and got me started on Nifedipine to slow down the contractions. They also hooked me up to the NTS monitor for hours to see how treatment was working.

Interestingly, Nifedipine is a blood pressure medication. As such, it help get your blood moving around which helps ease contractions. It also gave me the most unbearable headache I’ve ever had– a searing pain from the center of my forehead all the way to the base of my neck. A connoisseur of headaches and migraines, I’ve never experienced something like this in my life. And no, tylenol didn’t knock it out though did take some of the edge off.

With every shift, a new set of doctors and nurses would have to be educated on why I was there. I got pretty good at repeating my story: I went in for a check up on my cervix, the midwife noticed I was having contractions I couldn’t feel, and TA DAH! Every doctor– I mean every single one– said “You couldn’t feel them? Well, that’s great news.” Really? Not being able to tell if you’re going into labor is good news? I suppose it means that the contractions weren’t that strong or serious, but still… It’s a little disconcerting to have someone tell you that you may be going into labor and have NO IDEA that it is happening. This strikes me as shitastic news.

The real good news is that it worked. After about 6 hours, my contractions had gone, my dehydration was gone, and Chick was still completely unbothered by all the external drama. (I may just be having the most chill baby on the planet.)

Still, the doctors wanted to keep me on another 24 observation period, so I was transferred from triage to Labor and Delivery.

The observation period was fairly uneventful. NST after NST after ultrasound, everything was fine. The on-call doctor did a cervical check and said I’ve even gained ground on my cervix a little. So I got discharged and went home.

This is part in the story where I lose my mind completely. Prepare yourself.

When Mr. O and I get home, I headed straight to bed. tired, sulky, hadn’t showered… I was just exhausted by what’s happened. Strange how sitting around doing nothing wipes you out, doesn’t it?

I also became completely convinced I couldn’t trust my body. I thought I’d been drinking enough fluids. I couldn’t feel any of those fucking contractions. How was I supposed to know if I was going into labor?

What I could (and can) feel are the Braxton Hicks contractions. So I started counting them, which proved to be the worst idea ever. All this did was make me more anxious and tense. I couldn’t sleep. Mr. O tried to calm me down. Rationally, he explained that they wouldn’t have released me if they thought I was going to give birth that day. What? What is this logic of which you speak? I will have none of it! Instead I will cry some more, and work myself up into a frenzy of anxiety and hyperventilating! Because this helps, I swear! (Note the sarcasm, please.)

At around 2:00, I decided to move to the couch because I was kidding myself if I thought I was actually going to get any sleep.

And weirdly, this is where I found a smidgen of peace. I realized that if this baby was coming, there wasn’t a lot I was going to do about it. Mr. O and I have done what we can do to keep Chick on the inside, but the outcome of all this is largely out of my control. So I as a finally drifted off to sleep, I had my first real heart to heart with my kid.

I know you’re excited to meet everyone, but you can’t come out right now. I’m your mom, and I’ve known you since you were 4 cells old. I know you. You need to be stronger, and that’s what I’m here for. The longer we’re together, the stronger you will be. Every day we’re together, the stronger you become.

Quick Update: All the Drugs are All Mine

It’s official. You are magic. I don’t normally go in for that sunshine and unicorns crap, but all your positive thoughts and support have resulted in an actual miracle.

What is this miracle? My insurance company has stopped acting like a jerk face! Folks, I have an authorization for my meds.

I will spare you the tactical play-by-play because it is boring and involves almost two hours of hold music. Over that last two days, I have talked to six different people at three different organizations. (Yes, I count things. It gives me the illusion of control.) Whatevs- I got my drugs.

Even better, the pharmacy will simply deduct my adjusted payment from my balance, and credit my bank account with the rest. So no claims forms to file.

Now I can get back to the task at hand… you know, making a baby…

Thanks for all your support, ladies!