Saturday, June 14, 2014

Not Until You're Ready

Father’s Day is here again and this year, as you can imagine, is bittersweet for me.  On one hand, it’s my husband’s first Father’s Day since Cal was born (sadly, he’s not here to celebrate it with us…), and on the other hand, it’s my first Father’s Day since my Dad passed away.  I’ve been getting emails from retailers for weeks alerting me to the upcoming holiday, and every time I read the words “Father’s Day,” I cringe a little, mumble profanities, or throw my middle fingers up at my Gmail inbox, because, you know, that’s constructive.

I have thought of my Dad every day since he passed away.  I think of him mostly in the quiet moments when I first wake up and during those few hours between when I put Callum down and I go to bed, or sometimes while I’m sitting there rocking Cal to sleep, and things are dark and calm, my mind wanders over to dad, so thinking about him now that Father’s Day is looming is nothing new or unusual for me, but lately I’ve been thinking less of the last difficult months of his life, and more about good, happy moments I shared with him.

Mostly, my mind keeps going back to my wedding day (I'm not sure if my brother's impending nuptials just have my brain focused on weddings or what...) More specifically, to the few moments before my dad and I walked down the aisle. I was standing on the side of the Brooks Museum (we got married out in front), just out of sight of our guests, feeling like I was going to hyperventilate.  I was terrified, not because I was unsure about getting married, but because I was going to have to walk past ALL these people in these really uncomfortable shoes (that I loved dearly, but would kick off the minute I got back into the museum after saying our vows, and curse at them as I put on my pink Chuck Taylor’s), and I was afraid that I would fall, or make a fool of myself, or pass out from the anxiety.  I hate when people just stare at me, and I was about to have about 100 people doing just that for the next few minutes, and it made me want to crawl into a hole and hide…, to put it simply, I was having a mini nervous breakdown.  

I watched as my coordinator signaled to each bridesmaid to make her way down the aisle, and the moment for me to go inevitably came closer, I became more and more unhinged. The string quartet sounded in my head like a musical toy that had a battery running down - all creepy and slow motion-y -  I felt flushed and sweaty and overwhelmed (although much of the “sweaty” part could probably be attributed to the fact that it was an outdoor wedding in Memphis in June…) My dad turned to me and put his hands on my shoulders so that we were face to face and said “do you not want to do this?” - I looked up at him, almost insulted that he didn’t think I really wanted to get married,  and said “yes. I want to do this, but I’m terrified. All of this attention just makes me anxious”  at this point, my coordinator was motioning to me that I needed to get ready to go, and I kept trying - and failing - to catch my breath.  She said “Charlee, it’s almost time…” and my dad, still with his hands on my shoulders and his eyes locked with mine, said “not until you’re ready. you don’t have to do ANYTHING until YOU’RE ready”

“but everyone is waiting on me….” I said

“Exactly. They are waiting on YOU. They aren’t going anywhere. Let them sit there all night!”

This made me smile and calmed me down a little, and I shook my hands and arms out, took a deep breath and said something like “okay” - he looked at me again and said “are YOU ready?” and I nodded, and I looped my arm through his.  before we took those first steps that would symbolize the end of one chapter of my life and the beginning of a new one, I said to him “dad, don’t let me fall. please don’t let go” - and he said, sort of echoing his earlier sentiment, but this time with a little crack in his voice “I won’t let go until you’re ready”

I hadn’t fully realized until right then how big this moment was for HIM, and that as symbolic as that walk was for me, it was almost more “his” than mine. I think when you become a father to a daughter, this becomes the day you deeply look forward to and also dread. You hope someday your little girl will meet someone who loves her and will take care of her and makes her happy, but you don’t want her to completely lose her.  I think dads secretly love when their daughters are hundreds of miles away and still call them for advice, even when they have a husband 50 feet away (or, if I’m your daughter, I call you from another country to ask you how to fix my car that won’t go into gear…."it's just going "MMMMMMMRRRRP MMMMMMRRRRP MMMEEEEEP" Dad! WHAT DOES IT MEAN?!?!") Anyway, it surprised me a little that my dad - the man who had spent the entire time that mom and I were planning the wedding trying unsuccessfully to talk me into eloping, and spent most of 2009/2010 in a state of constant eye rolling, and literally making fun of everything we did/planned - became so emotional on that walk.  Maybe he didn’t realize how big it was until right then, either.  

The walk down my aisle was long.  It wasn't  just a normal straight shot from point A to point B - it was a spiraled aisle lined with chairs (so that I literally walked passed everyone, and not just the people in the center of the aisle, like they would in a church or a room - a very cute idea by my coordinators) that ended in the middle where the wedding party waited under a kind of fancy pergola that had been decorated with draped fabric and flowers.  I don’t remember anything Dad and I said to each other during that long walk, but I know we frequently exchanged glances, and we both went back and forth between crying and laughing, between locking arms and tightly holding hands, and by the time we reached the end of the walk, and he hugged me goodbye, I really WAS ready - and maybe he was, too. Ready to accept the change, but not ready to let go.  I don’t think he ever really let go.  And truthfully, neither did I. (We daughters don’t, do we?)

This memory plays over and over in my mind lately. I find great relief that it has kind of taken the place of the things my memory went to before - the bad things of the last few weeks of his life.  Next week, I may be back to dwelling on that, but it’s good to know that I have moments like this in my memory bank to dig out and remind me how lucky I was to share such an amazing moment with my Dad while he was still here.  So many people I know are robbed of this moment with their dads, and it really was, for me, one of the most precious moments I ever had with him. 

I’m still mourning (I’m starting to think that you can mourn someone eternally), but  continue to have issues with allowing myself to full-on grieve, but I’m working on it. I think with G being gone and me having Callum all alone 24/7, I feel like I don’t really have much time to fall apart, but it’s coming. I feel it creeping up and I fight it back.  I’ll get to it in my own way, in my own time. whenever I’m ready. cause according to my Dad, I don’t have to do anything until I’m ready…..

So for everyone who has a father who is still with them this Father's Day- call them, send them a card, invite them to dinner, shoot them an email, send them a text and if you’re geographically close enough, give them a hug and tell them about a moment you shared that meant a lot to you. Let them know how much you appreciate them, love them, and cherish them. 

and if your dad is gone, like mine, do something on Father’s Day in the spirit of your dad.  Drink his favorite beer while you eat his favorite meal….go play a round of golf or a game of his favorite sport….go fishing if that’s what he was into or mow the lawn in his honor….sit around with your family and go through old pictures and tell stories and have some laughs about the funny guy your dad was…..OR (and this is what I’ll be doing…) download a month’s worth of Days of Our Lives episodes, eat some popcorn, and pretend your sitting in the recliner next to him while he makes witty comments about the goings on in Salem.  

Celebrate them, remember them, miss them, love them, honor them - not just on Father's Day, but ALWAYS. 

 Dads like mine deserve more than just a day, really. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

insert clever title here

(DISCLAIMER:  I've been told before that people like reading my blogs because they make them laugh, and I've always enjoyed making people laugh, but I have some bad news -  For those of you who read or ever have read my blog for the sake of a good laugh and actually enjoyed it, that's probably all going to come to an end.  At least for a little while.  I should have had a lot to say with the birth of my kid and all, and normally,  I think I would have been all over this thing,  bragging and making you all sick with pictures and stupid, obnoxious stories about feedings and rolling over and poop textures or whatever moms talk about on their blogs, but just a couple of months after he was born (literally a week after my last post),  life took a kind of horrible turn, and my head has been somewhere else.  Of course, all of those fun baby things have happened, but my energy to do anything beyond posting a picture to Facebook has been pretty much diminished.  I'm emotionally drained,  and I'm working through a lot of shit in the wake of losing my dad and my grandfather.  So what I'm saying is, if you read this, and you usually do it to laugh, I'm sorry.  For a while, anything I write here will probably be pretty sad, but it's therapeutic for me, and I've found that when I try to write things by hand in an actual journal,  my brain outthinks the speed of my pen, and I end up frustrated and with a crampy hand.  I do eventually hope to go back to my normal self, but this is what's happening in my head right now.....So anyway, that's my disclaimer......)

  Months ago, when my father was still alive, but not really living, it occurred to me that grief and love are mutually exclusive. I stood at the side of his bed, while he was half asleep and pretty incoherent, pouring his medications into his feeding tube, and trying my best not to cry in front of him. (I found it funny then, and still find it funny now that I was so reluctant to cry in front of him in the last few weeks of his life.  Maybe I didn’t want him to know that I was scared. Maybe I didn’t want him to feel guilty or sad or worse than he already did….maybe I just didn’t want to disturb him) I was silently wondering to myself how this could be happening to him (and to us).  I thought how unfair it was for someone to suffer the way he was, and how I wasn’t prepared for a fatherless life.   I thought about grief, and how differently it affects everyone, and it dawned on me that love and grief come as a pair. If you are fortunate enough to love someone, at some point you will become separated somehow, be it from a breakup, or because of time or distance, or because of death, and because you loved them (and loving someone is a lucky thing), you will, in some form or fashion, grieve them.  It’s the unfortunate side effect of happiness that it should always be followed with pain and sadness. one can’t exist without the other, but, no matter how much it hurts, or how deeply it cuts you, it’s not worth giving up love to avoid the inevitable grief.  At least it’s not for me.

  I was standing in the laundry room of my parents’ house with my mom just a week or so after dad had been brought home by ambulance for in home hospice care.  She said something like “….but your father and I knew this was coming, so we have been preparing for it….” and it took me by surprise. “what do you mean, you KNEW?” I asked, and she told me that when the doctors had discovered that dad’s cancer was back, they told them that he may only have a matter of months to live, even with treatment.

  I was shocked, because this “limited time” - this “expiration date” - well, it was complete news to me.  Of course, by that point, I knew that he was nearing the end of his life, but I’d had no idea that this was something that was known to be imminent.  For months before he ended up in the hospital, I had still thought there was hope for him to be “cured” - silly, naive little me and my optimism. I instantly felt angry (for being kept in the dark..of course, in the way parents do, they were just trying to protect me by not telling me. They were attempting to keep me from living in a constant state of anxiety, or from packing up my things, leaving my life here on hold, and coming home to hover over him....and I couldn't really be angry about that. It's what parents do. They protect us.), and simultaneously guilty.  I’d been so wrapped up in my own life - my pregnancy, Callum’s birth, being a new mother, Gene’s deployment - that I’d neglected to notice or pick up on the fact that my dad had just been given a death sentence.  I felt like the worst daughter in the world, for calling home to only talk about the baby and barely getting in a “how are you feeling?” before I’d have to quickly hang up to do a feeding or change a diaper, or for the times when I was too busy or too tired to answer the phone.  What kind of daughter was I that I didn’t feel some powerful nagging in my soul that something just wasn’t “right”?

... A terrible one. I was a terrible daughter. At least I felt like one.

  Even when I got the call that set into motion the trip home that would change my world forever, I remained naively optimistic.  On the flight, I just kept telling myself that by the time I landed, he would be awake, talking, and thoroughly annoyed that such a big fuss was made. “he’s going to demand I get right back on a plane back to England” I thought.  I really wish I’d been right.

  The moment everything changed for me - the moment that my naive optimism kind of shattered - was when I walked into the ICU shortly after he woke up, and looked into his eyes.  There were tears, and at the time I thought they were because he was happy to see me, but now, looking back, I think it’s because he knew that anytime he saw me from then on could be the last time.  I didn’t say much to him. I just held his hand, and told him about the trip and how much he had scared me, and how well his grandson behaved on the plane.  We could only be back there in shifts because Callum wasn’t allowed in the ICU, so someone had to stay with him in the waiting room, and I knew mom wanted to be around when the doctors came, so I kept it short and sweet and after about 15 minutes, headed out.  “Dad,” I said, “is there anything you need?” and he lifted his hand a tiny bit, as much as he could, really, because his hands had been restrained to keep him from tugging at the dozens of wires and tubes coming out of him,  and just pointed his finger at me.  I laughed, said “I love you,” and he gave me a tiny nod that I knew meant "I love you, too," and closed his eyes.

  For some reason, in that moment, my heart knew that this was the beginning of the end. I walked back to the waiting room holding back tears, and I feel like I’ve been holding them back ever since. I began mourning my dad right then and there.  Weeks before he passed away.  But the grief….the grief still hasn’t set in.

  My dad and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but we were always on each others team, so to speak.  I felt sometimes like we were more alike than I’d ever like to admit, and he often told me I was “more Crowley than anything,” and he was very proud of that fact.  When I was a teenager, he bugged me, embarrassed me, and tried way too hard to protect me sometimes (which obviously meant he was just doing his job as a dad), but as an adult, he became one of my closest confidants, my advisor, and one of my best friends.  After his first diagnosis, shortly after I moved to the UK, I felt overwhelming guilt for not being closer to home, but I cherished every call, text message, tacky forwarded email, visit home, and hug that I got during those visits. Every six months or so, when I’d go home for a visit, I spent more time sitting in the living room with him, watching tv and talking about random crap than I ever had in my life. Those were some of my favorite times during my visits (only second to shopping days with Mom). When I would feel down or homesick or sad, or if I was having a problem with someone or something, he would always say “Just remember who YOU are,” and any time in my life that I was about to step out of line, or maybe make a bad decision, I’d hear those words in my head, and pull myself back.  He was the first man I ever loved, and he’s been a tough act to follow for everyone I’ve ever loved since.  When he died, he took a giant piece of my heart with him to the grave, and it will remain with him always.  I loved him immensely, so much that I can feel a physical aching in my heart where he lives, not because there is a hole there now, but because it’s so full of love, that the grief resulting from it is almost unbearable. I’ve spent the last few months mourning him, but not grieving.  I’ve somehow kept the grief at bay, but just barely.  I’ve fought it because I have to.  I have Callum to raise and love and take care of, and up until a few days ago, I’ve been at my mother’s house, and the last thing she needs right now is to worry that her daughter is in the throws of some insane nervous breakdown.  Someday, I’ll let myself finally unleash the grief. Right now, I’m not ready, and honestly, I think that’s okay. Sometime soon, I WILL be ready. Until then, I’ll have my little moments - my little tiny emotional earthquakes when I’m alone - and I’ll just try to remind myself how lucky I was to have been his daughter.

all this grief because of all this love….it’s a painful trade, but one worth making.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

2 months

I've managed to keep this little guy alive for two months.....unfortunately, he hates me now for shoving him into this costume, and I suspect he's contacted CPS to report me for tormenting him. This costume is cute, but the makers didn't really think the design all the way through, since getting (uh, shoving....) Cal into it took so much effort that I was actually sweating (and repeatedly saying "I'm sorry! I'm sorrrrrrrry!!!") by the end of it, and he hit a level of hysterics that I'd never seen from him before, but by the time it got that bad, there was no turning back... On top of it just being really hard to get him into, it involves him wearing something hat-like on his head, and this kid DOES NOT do hats.... I do appreciate that he allowed me this one non-screaming/flailing shot before he resumed going ape shit....

Mommy is sorry, little dude.

Friday, October 11, 2013

I'm a mom.

as I previously stated, my second trimester was glorious.  At that point in my pregnancy, I had every intention to update this blog situation on a pretty regular basis....and then, like a merciless demon bitch from hell, the third trimester hit.

there was a span of about 3 weeks when I could hardly move because my hips hurt so badly.  One day, I had to run into the town center to the bank, and on the walk from my car to the building, 3 different people asked me if I was okay, and one of them seriously thought I was going into labor.  The discomfort was seriously like nothing I've ever experienced before, and nothing that I took (and believe me, I tried everything that was "safe" for pregnancy) eased it, and no tried-and-true home remedies (warm bath, epsom salts, heating pads...) helped either.  I couldn't sleep because I couldn't get comfortable (and this is when my residence on our sofa began), and I was always in a bad mood because not only was I in pain, but I was also exhausted.  I was swelling so much that I stopped recognizing myself. seriously. my face was foreign to me, and the only shoes I could fit my feet in were flip flops, and even THAT had become a challenge. Then, about 3 weeks before my due date, I started to break out in this bizarre rash. It started just as a little patch on the inside of the elbow of my left arm.  It wasn't huge, but it itched like nothing I'd ever experienced before.  At first I thought I'd just been around or into something that I was sensitive to (it's not unheard of for me to have a mild allergy to....well.....everything on the planet that grows in nature, actually), but my usual methods of defense for such an issue (benadryl, anti-itch lotion) weren't helping at all.  It was around this time that I had a prenatal appointment, and I addressed the issue with the cuckoo bananas nurse practitioner, and she basically brushed it off as nothing, so I brushed it off, too, and figured it was just something that would go away eventually. It didn't.  In fact, it began to spread and pretty soon both my legs and my arms - from my elbows to my shoulders - were itching. I tried everything I knew for relief and even sat in a bathtub full of oatmeal to no avail. I was in hell.

on the 17th of August, Gene went to a beer festival in London.  With my due date still two weeks away, and no real reason to think I'd go into labor in the next 24 hours, I didn't see the harm in letting him go have one last weekend with his friends (at least for a while) - I, of course, was too bloated, itchy, painful, and miserable to go, so I sat at home on the couch trying not to scratch myself bloody, looking all pitiful with my bloated face and feet, and my hips supported by a strategically constructed mound of pillows that offered just enough cushion and support to make life bearable.  I started to notice that morning that my rash was spreading and had become angrier and itchier - by this point it was from my shoulders to my wrists, all over my abdomen, chest and neck, and down my legs.  I'd scratched myself so hard overnight during the short time I slept that I was covered in dried blood and pretty impressive scratch marks and scabs.  I was hot, and kind of nauseated, and I started to wonder if there was something else terrible going on.  I didn't want to be one of those crazy pregnant women who runs to the ER for every little thing, but around 5 that afternoon, I just couldn't take it anymore.  I called the nurse advice line who immediately told me to get to the emergency room.

....and my husband was in London.  fucking great, right?

by this time, though, Gene was on his way back.  I figured I would go to the ER, they'd give me some magical cream to rid me of my demon rash, and send me on my merry little way, so I sent him a text telling him where I was going.  I didn't really see any need for him to come with me, but since he was almost back, and had to pick his car up at the base, we decided I'd just meet him there and we would go together.

Since I was 38 weeks pregnant, (and probably because I was the only one there at the time, but I like to think my pregnancy gave me some sort of priority), I was immediately taken back to the treatment area, where they asked the normal questions and gawked at my rash and took my vitals.  My blood pressure was reading pretty high, though I can't remember exactly what it was.  I didn't think much of it since I was in such a state of discomfort that I figured it was contributing to it being so high, but they took my pressure a few more times, and each time it was elevated.  they ran some labs, which all came back normal, and didn't address the blood pressure thing any further (though in the back of my head I was thinking "I'm swollen, my BP is through the roof, I'm pregnant....." and putting the pieces together, but figured since my doctor didn't seemed TOO concerned, that I was probably overreacting), gave me a giant tub of cream and sent me home.  I was relieved, but also a little concerned about the blood pressure thing, but who am I to second guess a medical professional, right?

we got in the car and stopped at the gas station on base to grab something to eat.  By this time, it was late (sometime around 10, I think), and I hadn't eaten since earlier that afternoon.  I was relieved to be going home, slathering up with this cream that I was just sure would work miracles, and getting some rest.  when we got back to the car, I had 5 missed calls on my phone from the hospital. I called them back and was told to immediately return and go to labor and delivery.  So we did.

We got on the floor and we were met at the door by a nurse who took us back and explained that this was just a precaution.  She said that the OBGYN on call had just happened to call the ER to discuss another case when the doctor I saw there told her about me. When she heard my symptoms, she couldn't understand why I was allowed to leave, and told them to get me back to the hospital ASAP.  They took me into a room and hooked me up to monitors, and said they'd keep an eye on me for the next half hour and probably send me home.  As the nurse was talking I looked up at her earrings, and when I saw their shape - elephants (the theme of Callum's nursery) - I knew we wouldn't be leaving (call me nuts, but I believe in little signs like that....).  30 minutes and numerous elevated BP readings later, I was told I'd be delivering a baby the next day, via C-Section, and was officially admitted to the Labor and Delivery floor with PUPPS (my gnarly rash, which aside from being a pain in the ass is mostly harmless) and Pre-eclampsia.

I was terrified, and not prepared - at all - I hadn't even packed my hospital bag.  I thought I had at least another week, if not two or three, and my brain literally couldn't wrap itself around the fact that I was going to have this baby in a matter of hours.  I was horrified that I could have not gone to the ER at all, and possibly unknowingly done harm to myself and Callum as a result, and I was also freaked out that I was even allowed to leave the ER at all considering where I was now. I was also a little sad, because it wasn't happening the way I wanted it to - call me insane, but I wanted the labor and the pushing and the water breaking.  I wanted the screaming and the struggle and the glory of delivering my child on my body's own terms.  I felt like it was my rite of passage, and it was being taken away from me. In my head, I was going to push him out, hold him up, and hear that song from Karate Kid playing over and over ("YOU'RE THE BEST AROUND! NOTHING'S GONNA EVER KEEP YOU DOWN....") - instead I was getting an emergency baby removal that I wouldn't feel or even be able to see.  It broke my heart in a way I can't even describe that I'd not have that magical moment of really giving birth to my son.  He would be extracted from me like a foreign object.  It didn't seem fair.  I spent the next 6 hours not resting, as I should have been, but mourning the loss of the moment I'd never have.....

When they came around to start my prep that morning, I was terrified.  I've never had a major surgery before, and none of my family was there, and even though I had Gene with me, I still desperately wanted my mother. I kept telling myself "you're and adult and you're going to be fine" - they took me in, jabbed me in my spine, and laid me back as the lower half of my body went completely numb.  There were a few scary moments when my blood pressure dropped (and by scary I mean me screaming "this is not NORMAL" while dry heaving and trying not to pass out), but once they got me leveled back out, it wasn't so bad. I didn't feel anything, of course - not even when they said I'd feel some pressure - I kept waiting for something to happen and nothing did....and I couldn't see anything either because of the damn drape.....I just sat there watching Gene, trying to gauge what was happening by his facial expressions, but I really couldn't tell anything.

Then I heard what I knew to mean that he was here.  Not a cry from his little mouth, but the doctor saying "7:37" - I knew that calling the time meant that he was here.  He was out.  He was born.

after a few minutes they brought him over to me, and every bad feeling I had about how he was being born or about being robbed of my natural birth just went away.  He was this amazingly perfect little person, and I knew that the way things happened were how they were meant to be.  It wasn't a perfect pregnancy or the delivery I'd planned in my head for the last 38 weeks, but it was OUR journey together, and this was how we were supposed to end it in order to get this new journey underway.  He was ready to be born, and I think my body was done carrying him, and fate did what it had to do (by giving me the most horrific rash EVER - I never thought I'd say a rash was a blessing, but in this may have saved both of our lives....) to get us where we were.

I'm 7 weeks into (post-pregnancy) motherhood, and I can't believe I ever even considered never having a child.  If you'd told me 3 years ago that I'd be where I am now, I would have seriously doubted it.  Now I sit here and can't believe that I could ever love another person so much - it trumps every love I've ever known or felt in my entire life, and I'm such a better person just because he's here.  It's not easy, and it's not always fun or exciting, but literally every thing he does is magical and amazing, and my heart is constantly on the verge of exploding from happiness.  It's crazy how I can be so exhausted and overwhelmed, and yet I feel healthier and happier than I have in years.  I used to always say I didn't understand women who seemed to live completely for their children, but now? Now I get it.

Holy crap, I'm a mom.

Monday, April 8, 2013

second trimester update

So I'm halfway through my second trimester of pregnancy, and I've gotta say, looking back on how I felt during the first trimester, it's been a breeze.  I've got a little bit of energy back (most days, anyway), my food aversions seem to have faded away (The week my chicken aversion went away, I seriously ate a "greatest hits" style menu of my favorite chicken dishes every meal for the entire week - and bless my husband's heart for cooking them all, from scratch, per my grandmother's & mother's recipes), and of course, the bump is growing a little every day. I still haven't felt the baby move, which makes me a little anxious, but apparently it's not something to get worked up about yet (according to my doctor).  I read somewhere that babies in the womb are sometimes most active when the mom is resting or asleep because the movements of our normal activities kind of lull them to sleep throughout the day, so I figure with my luck, the mini me is breakdancing in there for the 7 or 8 hours a night that I sleep, totally exhausting itself, then sleeping throughout the day. kick me, already.

Now that I'm feeling a little better, I've had some time to focus on the giant stack of reading material they gave me at OBGYN Orientation (it's a Tricare thing....), and I'm just finding myself a little overwhelmed.  All this time I've thought that actually pushing the baby out of me was going to be the hardest part, but there's all this other crap to wade through between now and then - there's about half a dozen classes they encourage you to sign up for, a list of facebook groups, meeting groups, play groups, website links to follow.....I feel like someone who slept through the first half of a semester of college and has to play catch up before finals week.

Don't get me wrong - I appreciate all the information and all the assistance to help get people as prepared for their child as possible, but who really has time for all that? The classes seem cool and helpful, but they all take place ONCE a month, in the middle of a day in the middle of the week, and, unfortunately, I happen to have a job, and I don't think using a day of leave to learn how to diaper a baby is really going to fit into my schedule.....And will I really get THAT much out of them? All of my relatives and friends back home who have babies didn't have these classes, and their kids seem perfectly fine......

Another thing I also didn't know? That breast milk vs formula could turn into a debate that so ugly that it put all gay marriage and gun control arguments I've witnessed lately to shame.  Is there seriously a need to fight or ostracize each other over this? SERIOUSLY? I've sort of stalked some of these facebook groups and some of these women are just absolutely vicious to each other over something that is so personal and private and silly to fight over.  It's like being in high school, but everyone is lactating.

The biggest pro to the second trimester so far (aside from feeling better, obviously) is the ever growing bump.  I love my bump, and I'm not afraid to show it. seriously. I literally think it's the most incredible, adorable thing I've ever had.  I like touching it, talking to it, tapping on it....I LOVE MY BUMP. The bump is even consulted on multiple decisions through my day - "are you thirsty, bump?" or "what do you want for lunch, bump?" are just a couple of examples - I know there are plenty of women who have a really hard time embracing their bumps at first, and I can absolutely understand how it can affect everyone so differently, but I didn't feel that way at all.  I just felt super excited, like that moment in junior high when you realize your boobs are big enough to require that you buy something more substantial than just a training bra.  I remember when it was just a teeny thing, but it was big enough that it made wearing my regular scrub tops really uncomfortable.  At first, I was bummed to have to transition to maternity scrubs so soon (I was just around 4 months), but then I slipped the pants on, and it was like angels sang.  I've seriously never been in a pair of pants MORE comfortable than maternity scrub pants....until I got my first pair of maternity jeans.  I'm talking full belly panel, no real waistband, fake button, fake zipper mama-in-the-making pants.  It's like wearing pajamas ALL DAY LONG.  I couldn't believe how comfortable they were, and still can't believe the frequency with which I WANT to wear pants now (those of you who know me well know that I'm pretty much just a dress girl).  so comfy.

and NO, I still don't know the sex of my child, and it's driving me insane.  Because of my insurance and going to an on-base clinic, I only get two ultrasounds, so my sexing ultrasound, which in the real world would have been done a couple of weeks ago, will not happen for another 2 weeks. The suspense is killing me.  It would be nice to be able to fully identify with what I'm growing in there, and also to be better able to plan for him/her as far as purchasing stuff goes.  I can't even figure out which way to jump with the nursery until I know what kind of genitalia this little person is packing. I guess I'll just have to deal with a couple more weeks of suspense.  until then, I'll just focus on and obsess over other things, like why my child isn't making moves I can feel yet.....

seriously, baby. KICK ME.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hey, baby.

Sometime during the beginning of Fall, we had the "baby" discussion.  A conscious decision was made to start trying for one, but I just assumed, with all the time I've been on birth control, that it would take my body a while to get back to it's regular routine (if it even remembered what it's "regular routine" was...).  I was prepared for lots of months, maybe a year of trying,  and I was comfortable with that idea, so imagine my surprise when my uterus had other plans.

Just a mere month and a half into being birth control free, weird things started happening.  I'll spare you the details of most of them, but the one that stood out to me the most - in fact, the one thing that made me go home and immediately take a test (okay, I took 3 tests), was when I was standing in an exam room at work, smelled a drop of blood on the other side of the room, and gagged.  My boss jokingly looked up and said "oh, you're pregnant...." - a few hours later, I found out he was right.

The 28 minute drive from work to home has never seemed longer.  I sat there behind the wheel of my car silently freaking out. How on earth could I ALREADY be pregnant? I told myself there was no way there could be a person growing inside me already, and that all these little things I'd noticed were just weird side effects of coming off birth control and ovulating for the first time in who knows when.......It was blowing my mind that my uterus could just bounce back like that - I mean,  I know I couldn't get something right on the first try after years and years of NOT doing it....

I came home and, took a test, and sat through what felt like the longest 3 minutes of my life.  It's amazing how many questions you can ask yourself in 3 minutes.  By the time the word "pregnant" popped up on the screen, I'd already worked myself into a frenzy over where to send the kid to school (British or American school on base?), combed over all the things I'd done since I could have gotten pregnant that could have been "bad" for baby (those 3 glasses of wine at the Christmas party, lifting weights), and almost hyperventilated over the thought of paying for college (maybe they will get a bunch of scholarships?!?!?), AM I READY FOR THIS? (of course you're ready for this....aren't you? yes, you are....wait, ARE you?).  I couldn't believe it when I saw the result. I mean, obviously I'm not an idiot and knew it was perfectly possible, but I just couldn't believe it was happening so quickly.  I walked into the living room where Gene was sitting in a chair in front of the t.v., playing soccer on the XBox, and I just said "you're not going to believe this....."

over the course of the next few hours, I took two more tests. Of course, they both confirmed the results of the first one. (Later, when I talked to the nurse who eventually confirmed the pregnancy, she asked "why on earth did you take that many tests? False positives don't really happen....") Once the panic went away, I felt this weird rush of giddiness and amazement that this little thing was living and growing inside me, and I laughed when I thought to myself how impatient this kid must already be, showing up so soon.....just like it's mom, really.

Of course, I knew my pregnancy wasn't "official" until I had it confirmed by a doctor.  I went the next morning to try to get a test, only to find the office to be closed (super frustrating, but seriously typical for how my life goes).  The day after that, which happened to be my birthday, I got to take the test, and a few hours later, a nurse called me at work, sang Happy Birthday to me, and then told me I was going to be a mom.  And I cried. like an idiot. A silly, hormonal idiot.

I'm just a couple of days shy of 13 weeks now, which is heading into the second trimester.  It's been an exciting time so far - I've had a car wreck during some snow/ice during which I thought to myself "way to go Chuck! you've gone and broken the baby already!" (we were both fine, obviously, and a bonus was getting to hear the heartbeat in the ER - not exactly the ideal scenario for getting to hear your little one's heart for the first time, but it sure eased my mind), random bouts of morning sickness (I seriously carry my toothbrush around with me most of the time, because it just sneaks up on me - nothing like being mid-sentence in a conversation with a coworker and just going "sorry, I have to go puke"), lots of fun hip pain (which I've read is normal, but walking around like a grandma who just had a hip replaced isn't very cool), and all sorts of weird stuff with food, the worst being a serious aversion to chicken.  I crave taco bell at least twice a week, and although I'm trying to be careful with my caffeine intake, I've never wanted soda so badly in my life.  And beer. I'd love to have a beer right now.

I had my first ultrasound, and was so surprised to see that this little thing inside me already looked so much like a person - it danced around like a maniac (wonder where it got THAT from?) and I just absolutely fell in love.  From that moment, I've felt such an amazing connection to this little person, and it literally consumes my life.  I'm trying to read the books, do the research, sign up for the classes....anything I can do to be better prepared. Every weird pain or abnormal feeling I get sends me running to message boards and books trying to make sure all is normal with this baby. It's overwhelming and little bit terrifying, if I'm honest.  It's easy to forget that there was a time when google didn't exist, and What To Expect When You're Expecting hadn't been published.....I suppose all this is normal, especially in the first pregnancy.

Mini Chuck, Y'all!!!!

I don't know if this is socially acceptable, but I'm far away from home, and most of you who read this are people I'd show this to if I saw you in person, so here is a little snippet of my ultrasound.  The midwife was nice enough to let us video the whole thing, which was about 6 or 7 minutes, but this part is one of my favorite bits. The snorting, squeaking, and squealing woman in the background is me - I was somewhere in between laughing and crying the whole time, so every noise I make is me trying to suppress something so I wouldn't mess up the ultrasound, since every time I laughed too much or cried a little, baby seemed to disappear.  I think he or she is going to be a really good dancer.....Anyway, it was shot on an iPhone, so It's not the BEST quality, but IF you're interested, here it is....

more updates soon, I promise....and I mean it this time, y'all!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hot Child in the City, er, village.....

I grew up in the Delta. The-scorching-hot-summers-with-the-kind-of-humidity-that-makes-you-want-to-shave-your-head-just-so-you-don't-have-to-deal-with-the-nightmarish-frizziness-and-looks-of-pity part of the South.  From spring until mid-fall, the heat is almost suffocating, and if I could have lived the entire span of my residence in Arkansas indoors during every month aside from that nice, cool span between December and February, I probably would have. I'm NOT an "outside" person.  I don't like to sweat unless it's on purpose.  I don't like the feeling that I need a bath just because I walked from my house to the car in 90%  humidity.  But you learn to deal with it. You start to accept it. You give in and you go out anyway, and you try to pretend that you're just going for a "curly" look that day, and try to make yourself believe that you aren't "sweating," but just "glistening" (cause that's what southern ladies do...amIright???)

When we got the news we were moving to England, I had lots of emotions, but one really, really positive thing I thought was "I CAN HAVE NORMAL HAIR IN THE SUMMER" - true, my hair is totally fine in this weather (hardly any humidity, WOOP WOOP!), but as with most stuff, every positive has a negative.

America may have screwed up on SOME things (I'm talking to you, ready made sandwiches from gas stations - take a note from the british and class it up a bit, y'all), but they did get ONE thing correct as HELL:


Why, for the sake of everything holy, do these people not think air conditioning is a necessity? As I type this, I'm in my living room, sweating my hypothetical balls off, counting the outlets just to see how many fans I can cram in here. I realize that opening windows is a seemingly easy solution to this, but guess what? I live in ENGLAND where, for the last 4 days, it's rained almost constantly, therefore making it a potential mess to keep our windows open.  Also, much of the time opening the windows doesn't even help THAT much. Right now, I should be asleep, but I dread the thought of laying down in that stuffy room, in a puddle of chuck sweat.  I'm one of those weirdos who can't sleep without at least a sheet over me, and since I'm currently living in a sweat lodge, it makes even the sheet unbearable, and I just lay there for hours wondering why on earth the house here don't have AC. The kicker? IT'S NOT EVEN THAT HOT HERE. right now, it's 60 degrees, but this house has to be well into the mid-upper 70's, and it's STUFFY. There's not even air conditioning at WORK, which means I spend all day sweating during exams/surgeries, etc. - (though lately, clients opening and closing the door up front does make it much cooler up front).  I feel like I'm stuck in a sauna that I can't get out of.

I'm going home to the sticky, hot, humid-as-all-get-out Delta in two weeks, and I've heard a lot about how hot it is there,but I don't care. Hair be damned, y'all!  but honestly, all I can think about (aside from hugging my family) is running up the stairs to my bedroom and cranking up the AC

get ready for a constant 68 degrees blowing through your house, mom and dad. I suggest you find your Snuggies....