The Week in Review

on 30 March 2015

We're 1 week into having 3 kids and so far so good.  Of course, I didn't get home until Thursday, and I'm in copious amounts of pain, so mostly we do a lot of this:






I need to tell you the story of Her Birth, it has some harrowing moments, but I'm really tired.  I was worried before she was born that I couldn't remember anything about taking care of a newborn, and now I know why.  Because you never get to sleep, so you can't remember anything once it's over.  I promise I'm getting there.

Introducing...

on 23 March 2015

Miss Margaret Alice.



She was born at 9:17 after a long toil on the part of the anesthesiologists.  It's a thrilling tale, but not for the faint of heart and so I shall skip it.  For now.

They let me hold her while they were...um...reassembling things.  I didn't get to do that with my Boy or Girl, so of course I laid there and cried and cried.  She's our tiniest daughter tipping the scales at only 7 pounds 9 ounces, and of course she lost close to a pound in the hospital before my milk came in and we came home.  So none of her clothes (or diapers for that matter) fit her.

But she is an absolute joy.  The Boy and the Girl are already in love with her.  And I can't stop mooning over her.  So please forgive me if it takes a while for me to share...


Growing a Miracle

on 20 March 2015

I've really struggled with this story.  I'm still not quite sure how to tell it, and maybe it's one of those things you only learn by doing, so I'll just try.  I'll probably hate it, but I'm going to try all the same.

Why try?  Because infertility is one of those things that is so deeply personal and painful that no one really talks about it, but strangely, the more others talk about it, the more reassuring it is for the people going through it.

Some background:

Chris and I have what is known as secondary infertility, which means that we were fine getting pregnant with the Boy, but something shifted after his birth which pushed us into Infertile Grounds.  It took us about 2 years to get pregnant with the Girl, and then more than 2 years to get pregnant with t'other Girl. 

During my Girl's delivery, the doctor made note of an excess of scar tissue all around my uterus and fallopian tubes, and it was significant enough that he mentioned it to us in recovery.  He recommended that we not wait for so long before seeking medical attention, there were tests that could be done and minimally invasive procedures that might help. 

So we concentrated on our two darling babes and tried not to worry too much about the future.

Time passed, about a year and a half, and I started to worry more because I'm not gettin' any younger over here.  So in the fall of 2013, I finally screwed up my courage to go to the doctor.  I started with my OB/GYN and she referred me to the Fertility Clinic (because they're the people with the necessary equipment to run the requisite tests etc. etc. etc.).

Then came January.  January of 2014 was when things started to fall apart.  My Grandma passed away on the 21st, and then 2 days later I had to go to the Fertility clinic for a decidedly unpleasant HsG. 

Let's not talk about the specifics of that particular procedure, but rather the results.  They got some lovely images of just how messed up I am on the inside.  It was a banner day for my self-esteem, let me just assure you of that.  And with those images, came rather concrete proof that statistically we weren't likely to ever have any more children.

And when we met with our physician, he expressed a considerable degree of surprise that we had ever conceived our Girl, which is nice.  We already saw her as a miracle, and to have that confirmed by a fertility specialist is nice.  But it's not very reassuring when you're hoping to have more children.  Chris and I stepped on to the elevator to leave the clinic and I cried and cried and cried.

We had consented to have a laproscopic procedure to "attempt" to "restore anatomy" (I revised it to "Fix or Evict") to my ineffective tubes in the hopes that they would indeed be able to make them functional again (or at least not painful).  It was scheduled for March 20th.  And because Chris is occasionally crazy, he used our credit card reward points to book us on a cruise the weekend BEFORE that charming procedure.

So we spent the weekend in the Caribbean, and then came home and I had that little surgery.   

After the surgery, the physician (whom I have come to think of as my own personal Dementor, because he sucked all the hope and happiness out of me) informed us that they were NOT able to restore anatomy, but rather had to remove the offending tube.  The other tube was in tact, but whether it was functional remained to be seen.  He was very honest about the likelihood that we would become pregnant without IVF or some such other intervention, but the odds were absolutely against us.

Now, Chris and I have no moral problem with IVF, or other treatments for infertility.  We just didn't feel like they were good choices for our family.  So we resigned ourselves to our small family, we tried to be grateful for the two amazing kids that we have, and we tried to let go.  I sank into a funk of fairly epic proportions, that wasn't helped by packing up our entire apartment and shifting it into a storage unit and then shuffling around to various locations all summer long.  But oddly, it was helped by Chris' decision to reapply to med school.  It gave us this Big Thing to work towards together.  It focused our attention and gave us a measurable goal to work towards.

And then at the end of July, I was trying to organize everything for our mortgage, and trying to keep my kids from making my sister and her kids crazy, and I was weird.  Grouchy, depressed, tired, anxious and just...weird.  My sister asked me one morning, "Are you pregnant?"  And I scoffed and snorted and said, "Not likely."  But then realized that my period was 4 days late, and I'm never late.  But I chalked it up to stress and took the kids hiking in the hopes that fresh air and dirt and rocks and trees would clear my head.

Two days later I bought a test because...well, I needed to know.  I didn't feel particularly pregnant.  I knew that statistically, it wasn't likely, but also not strictly impossible.  We were taking care of Hogan, so I got up early one morning and took it, and then couldn't decide whether to laugh or cry that it was positive.

***

I know that everyone believes different things, but this is my blog, and my story and so I'm going to do something that I don't often do.  I'm going to tell you outright that there is no other word for this particular pregnancy, than a Miracle.  I know there are people who don't believe in God, or if they do, they don't believe that He works miracles any more.  And to those people, I say, I have some lovely pictures of what my insides look like and the testimony of people who have gone to school for 15 years to study pregnancy and childbirth and they say this Baby wouldn't couldn't shouldn't happen.  And yet.  She did.   We've known from the very beginning that she is a miracle.

***

This pregnancy has been a strange burden to carry.  We moved a week after we found out that we were pregnant, and I've never moved pregnant before.  Sherry kept bossing me around and telling me not to lift anything, not to carry anything, to sit down, to take it easy.  And she could tell you, women in my family don't take it easy gracefully.  So I had some issues early on and we worried that we were miscarrying, but then things got better. 

And 12 weeks later we heard her heartbeat.

And a couple of weeks after that, they told us we were having another daughter.

I kept waiting for the anxiety to dissipate, to feel confident that everything would be fine, but I never have.  I have been more anxious and fearful through this pregnancy than I was in either of the others (and that's saying something because I'm a rather anxious person).  The only explanation I can think of, is that we're so aware that her existence is a miracle, I feel this weight of responsibility to NOT screw this up.

It is a strange thing to be so aware that you're carrying a miracle under your own skin.  And believe me, we know enough about the fragility of human reproduction to believe that all of our kids are miracles, but with cold, hard photographs of what we're working with, she's just different. 

I find it strange that she's due the week after the year mark of that sad, little surgery.  It's been such a strange year, such a strange journey that we've been on.  In some ways I feel like this Girl has already made our family a stronger and more unified force, which is strange since she isn't technically HERE yet.

I fully expected Chris to be distant and uninvolved in this pregnancy (he was absolutely convinced with the Girl that something or everything would go wrong and we would lose her.  To the extent that it wasn't until the delivery room that he said, "Holy cow!  We're going to have TWO kids!"), but he hasn't been.  He's thoroughly enjoyed talking to her and feeling her move.  He loves to come home at night and poke and prod her to wake her up and get her moving and then he laughs at her acrobatics.  Acrobatics that are becoming increasingly painful for the Mama since space is limited in there.  He loves to tease the kids and throw out these truly strange names and ask them if that's what we should name their baby sister.  And they laugh and say, "NO!"

The kids are so excited you would think that Christmas has come all over again.  The Girl shouts (at least once a day), "MY BABY SISTER IS ALMOST HERE!"  She loves to remind me of all the things she's excited to share with her sister, her stuffies and lollypops and cookies and blackberries.  (I try to gently remind her that it will be a while before her sister will need ANY of those things.) And my Boy tells me all the things he's going to do for her, things he's going to teach her and ways he's going to look out for her.  It really is the sweetest thing.

I'm still worried.  As painful as her acrobatics are, I'm grateful for them because I know it means she's still alive and ok.  I want to see her.  I want to hold her and watch her breathing in and out.  I want to know that she's ok.  I want to know that we'll get to take her home and watch her grow up.  And I think part of what makes me so anxious is that, I can't know those things.  Love is a gamble.  It's always a gamble.  Sometimes it works out beautifully and it transforms who we are and the life we lead and the choices we make.  And sometimes it destroys everything in its wake, it breaks hearts and bones and lives and homes. 

For now, I'm trying to breathe deeply and have faith.







The Hero of the Day

on 09 March 2015

We've been taking care of Hogan lately.  The kids really love him, and after such a long winter, they're happy to get outside and run around in the afternoons.  It's just me that's really tired.

We have access to the house via a garage door opener that I keep in my car.  Now, usually, when we go in the afternoon, I get the kids out of the car, lock the car (because I leave my wallet and cell phone in the car) and then put my keys in my pocket.  But last Thursday, for some reason, I set my keys down on the table, while I went to get some food for Hogan and tried to expedite the process so as not to give the kids a chance to trash Ned and Ginny's house.

Hogan was dancing and wanting to walk, so I grabbed his leash and shepherded everyone out through the garage, hitting the button on my way out.  Once the door was down, I patted down my pockets only to discover (to my HORROR) that my keys were NOT in my pockets. 

I ran (well, as best as a 9 months pregnant girl can run) to the car, hoping I had left them in the door (I've done that before).  But no keys, and all doors locked up tight. 

The kids were running around picking up sticks and rocks, meanwhile I was totally and completely FREAKING OUT. 

I stared at the house, almost certain that I had left my keys on the kitchen table, but wondering what on EARTH I was going to do, and how I would get them back.  Chris has a spare key, but Chris was at work and my phone (with his work number in it) was locked in my CAR.  We have a spare key for the car, but it was 5 miles east back in our house, and I had no house key to get IN to my house.  And so I stood for a moment utterly lost in panic.

Then I remembered something.

In less dignified moments, when Chris has found himself taking care of Hogan and locked out of the house, he has...per necessity, crawled into the house through the doggie door.  It's a tight squeeze, but he can manage it.

I am 9 months pregnant, I'm pretty sure I CAN'T manage it.

But I know a 6 year old boy who would fit just PERFECTLY.

So I called the kids back to me and herded everyone into the back yard (fortunately there's a gate), and talked the Boy through crawling through the doggie door and where to find my keys, and to please, please, please listen to Mommy and do exactly what I say to do.  The Boy tried to insist that he would NOT fit through the doggie door, so I told him that DADDY has crawled through the doggie door and Daddy is a lot bigger than You and so I assure you, YOU WILL FIT.

My sweet boy obediently hunkered down and crawled through the doggie door, walked over to the table, found my keys and brought them back to me.  I then opened the garage door and let him out and when I had hugged and kissed on him to within an inch of his life, we all went to walk Hogan. 

I declared him the Hero of the Day and promised to make him whatever he wanted for dinner that night.  This Boy, this boy who cracks me up and breaks my heart and saves the day asked for Macaroni and Cheese.  I teased and cajoled and begged him to let me add some chicken or some broccoli or some hot sauce, but No.  He wanted it PLAIN.

The sweet thing?  He held my hand through the whole walk and periodically stopped to wrap his arms around me and assure me that everything was ok. 

At least once I day, I wonder who is the teacher and who is the student in our household.  I feel fine teaching him grammar and reading and history and some days I feel fine teaching him math, but most days he's the one teaching me about life and love and how to take care of people and what to do when you accidentally lock yourself out of someone else's house.

What is Wrong with Me?

on 05 March 2015

 So when Chris and I bought our townhouse, we grudgingly accepted the fact that we would have to belong to an HOA.  We really didn't want an HOA, but we convinced ourselves that maybe it would be a good thing.  If Chris was going to med school, then maybe it would be easier for me to have a 3rd party to fix things like the roof and the gutters.  And so I have paid my dues, not cheerfully, but in the hopes that it would be worth it in the end.

And then I had to battle with the HOA about our roof.  They were fine paying for the roof repair, but they adamantly refused to do anything about the ceiling, even though the ceiling wouldn't have been damaged if not for the leaking roof.  But that is (sort of) beside the point.  Last night was the first HOA meeting since Chris and I have moved in.  I vaguely wanted to go because I believe that one should Know Thy Enemy, but with Chris at work, I didn't really want to fight the kids to sit through, what promised to be, an incredibly boring meeting.  So I wasn't planning to go.  Then I got this bullying email from the HOA saying that if we couldn't attend we had to submit a signed piece of paper giving the board permission to act on our behalf.  Well, of course I hadn't signed the piece of paper, so after feeding and walking Hogan, the kids and I ate cereal for dinner and headed over to the HOA meeting.

It was just a colossal waste of TIME.  First of all, in NONE of the emails did they say that in order to object to anything you had to have 51% of the owners in attendance, and because there were only 6 owners there, everything is automatically ratified.  So what IS the point?!  If no one is going to come and object to anything or change anything, what's the point of the bullying emails?!  In the HOUR that I wasted there we talked about the budget (that we couldn't change because there were only 6 of us present), we talked about the overflowing dumpster problem, my roof was mentioned (in less than 5 minutes), and then they talked about the Dog Poop Problem.

First of all, there aren't that many of us owners that are actual residents.  Most of the townhouses in our community have been rented out to graduate students, med students or residents.  Most of whom are absent, busy, or don't care.  And most of whom have dogs.  Off the top of my head I can think of probably 15 dogs that live in the neighborhood, and there are probably fewer than 5 that I've seen picking up their dog's poop.  As one of those owners that doesn't pick up her dog's poop (we take Molly down into the game lands or to an abandoned lot to do her business because we don't want to pick up her poop).  I confess myself completely mystified by people's obsession with poop.  Dog poop will BIODEGRADE!  What is people's problem with POOP?!   The guy who owns 2 and doesn't live here, he suggested the DNA sampling thing, and I nixed that one right off the bat as EXTREME, surely there's a middle ground to be had.  And the Control Freak's complaint was that there are people who live across the street and who walk their dogs into our areas to do their business and then the HOA is out the money for that test since none of those people will have registered their dogs.  It was just SO RIDICULOUS.  But it's in the covenants, that all common spaces must be kept sanitary, how one is expected to keep GRASS and DIRT sanitary, I don't fully understand, but that's what the LAW says.  (In order to appreciate the absurdity of this situation you should know that there are NO picnic tables, benches, play ground equipment or even PATHS through any of the meager green spaces in our community.  It's literally just a STRIP of GRASS that we're talking about preserving as SANITARY.)  At every turn I wanted to smart off to them that there are REAL problems in this world and some of us have bigger things to think about than where our dog POOPS.

 More time was spent talking about the dog poop problem than the TRASH problem and to my mind the trash problem is a far bigger deal!  The dumpster is always full to overflowing and there are never enough recycling bins for everything that people want to put in them, and then you add to that the fact that the recycling bins are all mis-labeled, it makes the whole trash disposal area...well...a  mess.

Anyway.  The Control Freak was vaguely defensive when they mentioned my roof problem and The Inept Manager mentioned our roof problem and that she suspected there would be other units with the same problem and the Girl burst out with "There was water coming in EVERYWHERE in my ROOM!"  It was pretty funny because Control Freak shifted around and mumbled something about how it's never been the business of the HOA to fix internal damage and I just glared at him and the Inept Manager because heaven FORBID our communities be invested in doing the RIGHT thing, let's do the CHEAP thing.  He kept coming back to this point that these are people's HOMES and they OWN their HOMES so they should fix things themselves.  Which, I agree with, people should fix things themselves, but then that would render the HOA totally irrelevant, so let's vote to disband that and stop paying dues all together then.  That way, Chris and I can save that money and fix our property how we want.  (We have homeowners insurance, a home warranty AND an HOA...that seems like a LOT of bureaucracy for one medium sized townhouse.  I'd be happy to do away with the resentful, irrelevant and useless one in favor of the two that will actually HELP me.)

It was evident fairly early on that I was not well rested enough to be civilized, so I kept myself largely silent until I got the kids in the car and then I ranted a little bit about 1rst world problems and people not having enough to do with their time if they can CARE this much about POOP.

So my question is this:  What is wrong with me?  I have to work incredibly hard to be a nice person.  To be polite and gracious and to keep a civil tongue in my head.  I stood through that meeting, literally biting my tongue to keep from saying all of the spiteful, mean, vindictive things that kept coming to my mind.  I tried really hard to watch the kids and think Christian thoughts, but I'm telling you, it took every ounce of control I had not to open up a napalm can of MOCK YOU NOW on those people.  And these are my neighbors!  I had to leave early because if I held in those zingers any longer I was just going to EXPLODE.  As it is I came home, put the kids to bed and called my Mom to vent and relieve the pressure!  I'm inclined to think that I was just born to be mean-spirited and that if God made me this way, then maybe He has a use for mean-spirited people and instead of stifling my true nature, I should just let that Mean Girl be free. 

I got up this morning to feed and walk Hogan and then go to my last doctor's appointment before my Girl is born, and discovered that I was STILL mad.  Poor Chris had to listen to me MOCK them all over again because it is ABSURD that ADULTS care this much about dog POOP.