Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jumping Ship

Back during the holiday party frenzy of December a very dear friend of mine posted a picture somewhere in the social media universe of the Wordpress holiday party. I'd been considering making the move over to that platform for a while, but I had no earthly idea how to do it. And it hit me. I should ask him for help. He was at the party because he is a, well I'm going to be honest, I don't know what he is. Because I don't understand anything about anything when it comes to computers. But he was part of the team that made Quartz this fall, which is a really cool news site. So yes, he was part of a really big website launch this fall. He'd been working insane hours for months. His wife, who is one of my best friends in the universe, hadn't spent time with him in ages. I thought I'd be an all around super human and ask him to spend his precious free time helping me. Seriously, I am an asshole.

It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago that I actually contacted him about it. Not because I was trying to give him extra time to get acclimated to life now that Quartz was live. Remember? Asshole. It was because I'm lazy. Being he is a unfailingly kind person he totally hooked me up. And today the blog is up and running in its new location with its new domain name.

So now I'm going to be that jerk who asks you to do extra work in order to read my blog. And I hate that. The fact that anyone is reading my stuff continues to thrill and delight me. I know you are using your valuable time, I don't want to ask you for more when you are already showing up. But I'm not going to update here anymore. Will you please come join me at  I think that most of you guys who are kind enough to read come through the link I post on FB. So you won't have any trouble finding me. Am I in your RSS feed? Will you please update the address to Thanks. And if you aren't interested in sticking around to hear more about my scintillating bowel movements I totally get it. Thanks for staying as long as you did.

T. You know, standing on the heating register and making out with a corn chip.

Don't be fooled by his sweet little face...he really is so wonderful and cuddly and...Damn it! He fooled me again.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sick Grump

I'm an asshole who doesn't have patience for high maintenance gals who wear makeup, paint their nails, exercise, generally take pride in their appearance. I can't be bothered to make an effort because I really can't be bothered. But. That isn't the whole truth. I also can't be bothered because I'm scared if I try I still won't be....enough. Not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not fashionable enough. It's easier to hide behind superiority--smart girls don't worry about things like looks. Smart girls aren't high maintenance. Which is garbage. It's also cowardly. And if I think about it I adore a lot of women who wear makeup, paint their nails, exercise, and generally take pride in their appearance.

The truth is I am terribly high maintenance in a different way. If things don't go just so I freak out and pout and am horrible to be around. And when I'm sick I am a total princess. My worst days as a Stay At Home Mom aren't when the boys are being turds, but when I'm feel like crap and can't believe I still have to, you know, do my job.

So I've been having an extended pity party for myself all day. My ears are plugged up, my throat is sore, and I'm fucking exhausted because I nursed C 4 times last night-he is sick, too. My sweet little boy is sick and it is messing with his sleep and instead of being concerned about him I'm annoyed that I have to get up in the middle of the night when I don't feel well.

I'm pissed because I'm sick and am not getting rest and on top of it I'm pissed because I'm a shitty person for being worried about my comfort instead of remembering C is sick, too. Then the anxiety starts butting in to remind me that what all this means is I'm completely worthless. And speaking of butting in, who the fuck am I to write a blog post of ADVICE to my sisters-in-law? The hubris! That was a really stupid choice. And suddenly I'm sitting on the sofa, absolutely mortified that I exist.

But when I go to collect the mail I find this amongst the creditcard offers.

My father-in-law sent me a valentine. And damn it, it made me smile. It reminded me that so many people are kind. And that getting all wrapped up in myself is a supremely indulgent way to spend the day. There are a hell of a lot of wonderful people in my life who do lovely things for me all the time. My anxiety, who insists on pointing out my every flaw in excruciating detail, can kindly go fuck herself. 

On top of that I figured out how to remove my street address from the photo. Yes, you think, but that is something a 7 year old can do. That might be true, but for me it is like writing code.

This sort of sums up how I feel.  The un-glamor shot.

My reader.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Totally Unsolicited and Probably Annoying Advice

My amazing sister-in-law gave birth this week. The day and evening we knew she was laboring we thought about her non-stop. As the night crept on we just wanted to hear the birth had happened so she could be out of pain. Z turned to me at one point, "Aren't you happy you NEVER HAVE TO DO THAT AGAIN?" Um, as much as pictures of newborns make my ovaries ache the answer is yes. Although I asked him to remind me how much I didn't want to do it again after I held the baby. I know my resolve will crumble in that moment. Damn hormones.

So to E and K, two women who I love and respect and who I'm grateful are my family here is what I want to say to you as you embark on this insane and amazing and insane and life changing and INSANE event:

First of all, please, as with all advice when it comes to child rearing, take it or leave it. Who the hell am I? I've got a diagnosed mental illness and I regularly ask the internet for advice on how to raise my kids. I'm not rocking it over here. The other thing is this advice isn't just for you. It's for me as well. It's what I would do if I were a better Mom and better human. It's advice for all of us.

And I don't mean to seem all doom and gloom. I'm writing about the hard parts because the easy parts take care of themselves. The easy parts are also the most-of-the-time-parts. The amount of love and joy G will add to your life, man, just thinking about it makes me tear up. The good stuff is why we do this parenthood business, it is truly sublime and I wouldn't give it up if I could sleep in late a million times. Ok, maybe a million. But not a thousand for sure.

So the hard stuff. Well, there are going to be days when you wonder what the fuck you were thinking when you wanted kids. There are going to be hard times when you can't stand her, or yourselves, or each other. And I'm a hypocrite for giving you this advice because I don't to it myself. But. You need to forgive. Forgive yourselves, forgive each other, and forgive G.

Accept that the three of you are going to fuck up regularly. It makes dusting yourself off and trying again a tiny bit easier. I remember seeing the advice left by someone on one of your FB pages to just make sensible choices when it comes to this parenting thing and you'll be ok. Fantastic advice. And you guys will have no problem doing it 95% of the time. Don't beat yourself up for the other 5%. I know you both are super duper over achievers. You are allowed to get frustrated when parenting gets hard. You are allowed to want to give up and totally lose your shit every once in a while. You are allowed to fail. You can't control a lot of what happens now (hello G, week and a half late, huh?), which sucks balls. But the sooner you accept it (by the way, I still haven't after three and a half years) the happier you will all be.

You guys know that parenting these days is done under a microscope. Did you see the adorable video going around the interwebs of the baby waking up and dancing to Gangnam Style? A couple of days later did you see the meme going around pointing out that the kids were strapped into their car seats incorrectly? So ok, they totally were. But heaven fucking forbid someone puts something adorable on the internet without someone else telling them they are doing it wrong. Z has a friend who is struggling to nurse her 5 month old. The pediatrician suggested starting rice cereal to supplement and she shared the info with a friend who isn't a parent yet. The friend sent her an email reminding her that the WTO suggests exclusively nursing until 6 months. Because that is what someone who feels shitty enough about low milk supply needs to hear. I know you two will be able to block out most of that terrible noise. But the constant second guessing takes a toll without you realizing that is what's going on. You start to give yourself a hard time.

Is it shitty that I'm being heavy? E and K, maybe you guys should just enjoy G for a while and read this in a few weeks. Totally enjoy the postnatal bliss that is filling your house. I guess all I'm trying to say is don't be too hard on yourselves. You know what? You guys probably don't need this post at all. You are awesome ladies and I bet you have it covered. It's, um, a pretty good reminder for me, though.

Ok, ok, one last piece of advice. My mom had this brilliant idea when T was new and it has saved me a ton of time. Go buy a couple of lingerie bags for the laundry (I didn't know what they were-small zip up mesh bags) and use them to collect and launder her socks. So you don't spend a million years tracking them down and sifting through the wash to find them. I stopped doing it for a while and a sock slipped down over the barrel and made our belt snap. A cool $150 later and I was back to using the lingerie bag every time. Seriously. Do it. Now I'm done. Love you guys. See you in less than two weeks!

We can't wait to cover you in hugs and kisses G! Photo by Kelsey Leonardsmith.

A new baby in the family is making me nostalgic for my boys as newborns. Sweet T when he was about 10 days old. Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith

And C with his lightning bolt birth mark when he was about the same age. Photo by Ellie Leonardsmith.

Holy shit this is making me want another baby. Which is insane. Clearly I need to go to bed. 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Super Dad Takes C to the Doc's

 C had an appointment with the Ear, Nose and Throat doc yesterday. The doctor visits tend to be my thing. Because when Z goes I expect him to have perfect recall when it comes to every word the doc has uttered. I expect him to ask specific questions and write down the answers. I expect him to intuit which follow up questions the answers would make me want to ask. For some reason he feels all that is a little too much pressure...I know, right? It's like he thinks I'm unreasonable! Um, yes. Take a moment to feel grateful you aren't my spouse.

Because this was a specialist doc visit we got a letter in the mail saying when they could see us. The timing didn't work out for a number of reasons so I called to reschedule. She gave me a date that was another month away, and the time still didn't work. I told her he'd be there for the original appointment. I was in class. The babysitter picked T up from school. And Z took C to the doctor's.

Do you guys remember when I was freaking out about missing Halloween with the boys last fall because my class fell on the evening of the 31st? This situation is bringing up the same feelings. A big part of me thinks I should have just skipped the class, that I'm a shit Mom for not taking him myself. Somehow I think as a Stay At Home Mom I need to be there for every single moment of their lives. Or perhaps more accurately, I think if I'm not there for every moment people with think I'm a lazy and awful SAHM because it is my job, after all.

My class meets twice a week this semester from 2-3:15pm. So twice a week a babysitter comes and I have a 20 minute walk alone both to and from campus. Twice a week Z picks T up from school. Twice a week I get to think about something other than being T and C's mom, I get to learn about a topic that I feel passionate about. Twice a week I get to miss the boys. Do you know how good that feels? Particularly after last fall when I felt so suffocated and needed a break desperately.

My patience for my guys has increased dramatically since the start of the semester. I don't yell as much, I can do a better job listening when T is frustrated. We are having more fun together. Yet I feel guilty about taking the time for class, I feel like I'm stealing their time. I need to remember that by taking some time away I'm able to give them quality in return. I also need to remember that no one in my life has accused me of being a shit Mom for taking a class. I'm bringing that to the party all on my own.

Z wasn't scheduled to teach during the visit to the doctor's office. He was able to take C without much of an impact to his work day. It made all the sense in the world for me to attend my class while Z handled the appointment. Z is C's parent. He is responsible for doctor office visits, too. I know all this in my head. Z knows it as well, the plan seemed completely reasonable to him. So why do I still feel so guilty? Why do I feel like I am a selfish person for asking Z to help me so I don't miss class? Why did I have my first full blown anxiety attack in almost two weeks last night after the class and visit?

I know a large part of it goes back to being unwell emotionally. It's the reason I apologize for everything. No matter how little space I try and take up in this world I constantly feel like I'm in someone else's way. No matter how small I make myself it is never small enough. I don't want to teach my sons to be small. I don't want them to feel like they are in the way. I don't want to teach them that I am small, I want them to respect the women in their lives and the space that they occupy. So I will try and remember that the class is making me a better Mom. I'll try and remember that Z was happy to do his part.

Speaking of Z, he did an awesome time at the docs. The upshot is C does need tubes. The practice is slammed so it looks like he won't get them until late March, although we'll get a firm date next week. I do not want my kid to be put under anesthesia. I really don't. But I also don't want him to be on antibiotics every few weeks. It scares the hell out of me. And his pediatrician is awesome, she won't put him on the meds unless he has a raging infection. But the thing is he always seems to have a raging infection. And beyond the worries of creating strains of infections that do not respond to treatment we also don't want him on drugs because they give him terrible diarrhea. While that totally makes him fit in at our house it also makes trying to put a little weight on him a terrible struggle. He was an extremely late walker. He also only says a few words. We are hoping the tubes help his balance and hearing.

We know several families who have gone through the procedure. And Z had them either 5 or 6 times when he was young. My nephew has benefited tremendously from them-no infections. And our neighbor's speech has exploded since his were put in. That is what I'm focusing on. He'll have a rough day, but we are helping him in the long run.

Z snapped this at the Doc's office. Z also picked out C's outfit. He felt like the skeleton shirt from Halloween was doctor office appropriate...

My Mom wanted the boys to have Valentine's Day decorations. The garland of felt hearts is pretty cool. T loves it. 
Z made this lovely little table for the boys. This week he learned it doesn't matter how much you reinforce handmade tables. Toddlers will find a way to break them. 

Post shave this morning. Yes, T shaves his belly with a toy razor every day while Daddy shaves. Is that weird?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

My Boo Boo

This morning T met me on the stairs after I'd showered and dressed. "Mom. What is on your lip?" he asked. "I've got a boo boo and that stuff is helping to fix it." I told him.

I do, in fact, have a boo boo.

The kind that you treat with Abreva. No filter, baby.

Z has gotten a few cold sores a year since long before I met him. And don't get me wrong, I've gotten lots of less than desirable things over the years myself-plantar warts, regular warts, anal fissures (go childbirth!), hell I have chronic irritable bowel syndrom. But, damn it, I haven't had cold sores. When he gets one I stay far away until it heals. 

In the last few years I've worried my luck has been drying up. June 14th marks 15 years since we started dating. How long could I really avoid the herpes simplex virus? Yesterday my lip started to tingle. And when I put some Abreva on it the area burned like mad. I also put some on the lower part of my lip to act as a control. There was no reaction whatsoever. It would appear I've got the virus.

My lip isn't that swollen. There doesn't appear to be a blister yet. Basically I can feel it, but there isn't much to see. I don't have anywhere to be today so I've been able to cover it with Abreva and let it do its thing. You know what? I've been dreading catching cold sores for almost a decade and a half. Well, it turns out it isn't the end of the world after all. What a fucking shocker. I could have spent all that time I obsessed about getting a damn cold sore actually doing something interesting. Oops.

These signs were on our seats at the basketball game so we brought them home for the boys. T declared his was a map. He is searching for the treasure.

Is it wrong that I'm already fantasizing about when he will use this?

Little man doesn't want anything to do with this when it is in the car, but put it in the house and it's his favorite toy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Z Awesomeness Day

As we were preparing for the drinks/dinner/award presentation/basketball game yesterday afternoon I started to get a migraine. Because duh. I was dressing up a bit, putting on lip gloss for the very first time this calendar year, and getting ready to socialize with strangers in public. I very carefully didn't think about what was actually going down on Monday night in the days leading up to it because I knew I'd freak out if I did.

I told myself I was not going to fuck this up for Z. I took my migraine meds which meant I might be a bit stupid and stoned at the dinner, but that was a hell of a lot better than being in horrific pain. The babysitter arrived, my folks were ready to go, Z came home and started hustling us out of the house.  It was a whirlwind, I didn't have time to have an anxiety attack. By the time we got to the venue for drinks and dinner I realized I forgot to take Imodium. And somehow I was fine. Yes folks, I did not shit my pants. We got there at 4:30 and got home at about 9:30. It was 5 hours of doing stuff that usually scares the hell out of me. And not only did I do it without embarrassing Z, I actually enjoyed myself. Pretty fucking neat.

So yes, there were drinks and pictures and a dinner.

Z with Gianfranco Zaccai who established the Continuum + Arthur Pulos Award.

Two deans, the former recipient of the award, Continuum employees who are also SU alums and the photographer snapping away!

And then we walked over to the Dome. Our seats were right down front, which was pretty cool. 

The Chancellor of SU strolled by and said hi to the gang as they were waiting to take the Court. She knows who Z is! How fucking cool it that?

Z accepting the award. He didn't drop it! 

Yup, we are watching a basketball game. Yup, the amount of orange really freaked me out. But! The chairs we sat on were blue. Major relief. 

I didn't manage to take a picture of my folks, but it was awesome that they came all the way from Georgia to celebrate with us. They are hella proud of Z as well. Listen, it was totally a weird night. But it was pretty cool as well. Watching your spouse being recognized for totally rocking at his job is pretty spectacular. He deserves to have people fuss over him. I am damn proud. 

And see? It was worn off by the time we got to the game, but the lipgloss did happen. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sorry to Bug You Smart Friends....But.....

Got a behavior question for you guys. T is sort of confounding me. Dude is able to express his feelings so clearly, but being able to express them and actually expressing them instead of acting out are two different things.

A perfect example is Friday afternoon. He is allowed to watch TV when he gets home from school. He is pooped by then, so it's a good time of day for him to veg a bit. He doesn't nap anymore, we call it his siesta. After a while I told him he needed to pee. I said he could wait until the commercial, but if he didn't pee I'd turn the TV off for the rest of the day. Dude hates to take the time to pee. He holds it until a tiny bit dribbles out and then he hightails it to the bathroom. So we've got to tell him to go. He clearly was annoyed that I was making him pee, but he stomped off to do it.

A few moments later he called for me. I assumed he pooped, he does still need help in that department. But nope. He had extravagantly emptied his very full bladder all over the floor. It had splashed onto both walls, the puddle completely surrounded the toilet. I was speechless. When I regained my composure I asked him what happened.

"Well," he said, "I tried to pee in the toilet and I missed." "Wow," I replied, "I don't believe you. If you tried to pee in the toilet and missed there might be a little pee on the floor. But there is zero pee in the toilet and all the pee on the floor. You did this on purpose. And you have to stay in here and help me clean it up and if you miss part of the TV show that is your problem. I've got to tell you Dude, I'm really very angry right now."

He cried as he sat on his little stool and begged to go back to the sofa. He really couldn't clean up the pee without getting it all over himself, so I just let him sit there as I sopped it up. I know you aren't supposed to ask why they did stuff at the age, but I couldn't help myself. He looked right at me and replied, "Mom, I was really frustrated at you for making me pee. So I peed on the floor." I told him I understood where he was coming from. He is allowed to be frustrated at me, I get frustrated at him all the time. But he needs to tell me, or he can bang on the floor or the sofa to get the anger out. He absolutely can't do stuff like pee on the floor.

Listen, I'm grateful he can tell me what is going on in his head. It rocks that he has the ability to express himself. But I sort of thought that if he was able to let us know how he felt he wouldn't act out by, you know, pissing all over the place in anger. He'd go ahead and tell us he was angry. Am I crazy? How to I encourage him to tell me he is frustrated BEFORE he takes punitive action aimed at me? I knew he was annoyed when he headed to the bathroom, but I had no idea of the level of frustration he was feeling, it wasn't a particularly contentious conversation.

Friends who have a background in early childhood development what the hell am I doing wrong here? How do I get to a place where we are less frustrated at each other? Or should I just start emptying my bladder on his bedroom floor to demonstrate that I'm angry at him? Just kidding. Sort of.

Post about T, pictures of C. Doesn't make sense to me either, but I don't have new pictures of T. Dude is still recovering from his sick and was taking it easy today, so there weren't a lot of kodak moments. C, on the other hand, was hamming it up. There is bacon above his head in this shot and he was begging like a puppy.

He figured out how to knock his Dad's hats off their hooks. He put this one one and started pushing the stroller around the house. He was responsible for the jaunty angle.

And then he traded for a cap.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

We Know How To Party on Friday Night

Last night I woke up before midnight because I heard crying. Being this happens every night (except for that one magic night this past week-he slept through the night for the first time in months and months!) I lurched out of bed and into C's room. Where I found him asleep. You know, until I woke him. I turned around and sprinted to T's room. He was sitting up in his bed absolutely wailing for me. He'd puked up his dinner. I hustled him into the bathroom where he could retch into the tub until I fetched the puke bucket when C started screaming. Z came out and took over with T so I could nurse C. I found T and Z on the sofa once C was settled. We decided I'd clean up the pukey bed and Z would stick with T for the night. The bed was cleaned and remade and the laundry doing its thing and I was back in my bed by 12:30. C was up twice more to nurse, but slept in until 7:30, which is unheard of for him. That's when I went downstairs and found out T had thrown up every hour until 3. He slept until 6 and puked again. While Z was explaining this T grabbed the bucket and started heaving. Z trudged upstairs to get a couple hours of sleep.

Later in the morning I said to him, "You know what is messed up about parenting? I cleaned up puke and did laundry and nursed a baby three times in the middle of the night. And I feel lucky. Compared to you my night was awesome."

T is a sick little guy today. Still can't really keep anything down, but the poor kid is hungry. He gets to watch all the TV he wants, hasn't left the sofa. Except for a bath to clean him off after he didn't make it to the bucket. Here's hoping he is on the mend soon. And that the one time C threw up today was some sort of wild coincidence that doesn't mean he is getting it, too.....

T seemed totally fine as he and his brother rode Z up the stairs on the way to the bath last night. 

Not so fine this afternoon. Our sweet astronaut was chomping on ice chips, puke bucket inches away from his head....

Friday, February 1, 2013

What Do Z and SU Basketball Have In Common?

"We have to have a serious discussion."
"Uh oh," I said, "About what."
"On Monday night we are going to a basketball game. It's a big game. There are going to be like 30,000 people there."
"Wait, you said 20,000. You just increased it by 50%. But it's ok. I'll bring a chill pill."
"Karen. They all are going to be wearing orange."
"Jesus christ. Am I going to have to touch any of them?"
"Well, you might bump up against some of them."
"Ok, ok. I'll deal. So what color is Notre Dame? You know, so I don't offend anyone by wearing their color."
"How the hell should I know?"
"We should google it."

Z and I are not sports fans. So why are we going to a basketball game on Monday night? Why are my folks flying in to town today to attend the game with us even though they hate the winter and swore they'd never visit in the snow? Ok, I'm going to brag about Z yet again. Sorry, can't help it. He's awesome.

Last year he was nominated for the Continuum + Arthur Pulos Award for innovation in interdisciplinary design education by the Dean of the School of Information Studies. And he got it. How cool is that? It was announced last fall, but the powers that be decided that there'd actually be a little ceremony right before the Syracuse vs. Notre Dame basketball game. There's also going to be a lunch on Monday. And cocktails. And a dinner. And then the presentation. And then the game itself.

So Monday is celebrate Z's awesomeness day. I don't give a shit if I have to be near people wearing orange. Ok, that's not totally true. It's going to make my skin crawl. Have I talked about the orange thing here before? I hate it. The color, the flavor, the everything. Z was doing freelance work for SU with the hope of parlaying it into a full time job when I was first pregnant with T and we lived in Providence. He actively hid the orange thing from me for months. When the job prospect started to look really good he sat me down one night and told me we needed to talk. I was hormonal his seriousness scared the shit out of me. That is when he told me SU's color was orange. I was so relieved that I told him I didn't care. He said that I didn't understand. The mascot was the Orangeman. Thankfully this all happened at a really vulnerable time for me--I wanted Z to get a job with benefits so I didn't have to worry about being a first time mom and the family breadwinner. So I just dealt with it. And it's a good thing I did. Syracuse rocks and Z has thrived here. So my chill pill and I will stoically deal with being surrounded by the color I despise.

He isn't crazy about this post. I'm embarrassing him a bit. And while I usually cool it if I'm writing about something that makes him uncomfortable I can't help it this time. I'm too proud of him. And the basketball game thing is just too weird. 

Every morning they guys do pre-work inside-the-jacket hugs.

Seriously, very proud. Very very proud.

Stacking blocks has become a favorite pastime. 

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Thank You, Laura

When I was pregnant with C I ran out of my Singulair one night. Total pregnancy brain moment, I never noticed I was close to being out, the prescription was supposed to be on auto-refill, I just spaced it. I realized I'd been taking the drug every day for years to control my very mild asthma and allergies and I also realized I couldn't remember the last time I'd had a problem with asthma. I decided I the prescription was totally needless. It was good I ran out because it made me come to my senses and gave me an opportunity to stop taking a drug every day.

Two nights later I woke up at about 2am gasping for breath. I frantically searched the house for my almost empty and definitely expired albuterol inhaler desperate for some relief. Remember, I was pregnant at the time and completely freaked that I was depriving the baby of oxygen. It didn't even occur to me what was going on until the next day. Seriously, pregnancy brain is a thing. So yeah, it was the Singulair, stupid. I immediately got it refilled. Within a couple of days I was fine.

That little story is the exact reason a lot of people go off their psych meds. I'm fine! I've been fine for years! I don't need this shit! It's how I felt in 2006. Talk therapy has always been effective for me. I'd become a functioning human being again. I wanted off the drugs. At that point I was only on Zoloft, taking 200 mg a day down from my all time high of 250 mg. The thing with SSRIs is you can't just stop one day. The withdrawal is brutal. Getting off the drugs took months.

Getting on the drugs takes months, too. You start with a tiny bit. See how you tolerate it. Increase it. Wait. Increase again. Increase again. And sometimes the drugs are misses-you get way more anxious. You need to stop taking it. You try another one that also may actually make your mental illness worse before it gets better. It's all a guessing game. Unfortunately the game didn't go in my favor the first few times I tried meds. In college I gave up altogether. A few years later I stuck with it until finally we figured out I could tolerate 200 mg Zoloft and I was on it for a long time. I also got fat and completely and totally lost my sex drive. The side effects of a larger dose are real and they can have a pretty big impact on one's daily life.

I know the Zoloft helped (after the Wellbutrin, Paxil, Luvox, Abilify, and others I can't even remember all failed spectacularly) despite the side effects. Getting there was tremendously painful. I have a very bad history with psychotropic drugs.

Last night, about an hour after I took my first dose of buspirone I started to feel a bit dizzy and lightheaded. I know that can be one of the side effects. I know that the dose I took is so small it is possible that I won't be able to feel side effects for days. The dosage for this drug is split up to either twice or three times a day. About an hour after taking it this morning I started to feel a bit dizzy and lightheaded again.

Is it the drug? Is it me? Am I unable to tolerate it? Is this a mistake? Will it be ok if I just give it a chance? Three times a day. Timed so it isn't near when I breastfeed. But what if C wants to nurse early? My mind will race with these questions three times a day plus all the other times I happen to remember I'm embarking on a big experiment that can go spectacularly wrong. Only this time I'm in charge of the safety of two other humans while I roll the dice.

I'm not supposed to think about the drug at first. My therapist told me I probably won't feel anything for weeks. "Just put it out of your mind" she said. Um, I have an anticipatory anxiety disorder. Worrying things until they are bloody and raw is my specialty. It's why we are in the drug place to begin with. How can I possibly not think about it a million times a day? How do I know if I'm feeling the drug or feeling the anxiety? How do I know if it's working? How do I shut the anxiety up so the pill has a chance?

Last night a former colleague and friend commented on yesterday's post over on facebook. "Anxiety=dementor...pill=patronus...use your patronus to save the lovely Karen from the dementor. xoxo"

It is one of my favorite comments ever. Thank you L, for speaking my language. You got through to me. And I'm going to give it a shot. Maybe I can get the dementor to shut up a bit, maybe I can give my patronus a chance to work. I always imagined my patronus would be a super nervous squirrel or mouse. But I guess a lozenge shaped pill can work just as well.

Expecto Patronum Motherfucker! 

T's hair is crazy long when it's wet. 

I'm not sure what this game is. I'm not sure I'm ok with it. But they are actually playing with each other these days which is pretty damn cool.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Prescription In Hand...

Sometimes people aren't ready to face needing psychotropic meds because they feel like their mental illness is an integral part of who they are. They fear that they wouldn't be themselves if they got better. Sometimes people aren't ready to face needing the drugs because they can't admit there is something that needs fixing. I've never been the first kind of person. Once acknowledged my illness felt like a cancer. It grows on who I am, suffocating the good parts of myself. I've been the second kind of person. When things were rock bottom, in the middle of my breakdown, I couldn't admit I had a problem. It's one of the most awful things about mental illness. Those who really need help often can't admit it.

I know I need to be on a daily medication. Honestly, there has been a significant easing of the anxiety in the last few weeks. I haven't felt as desperate or frightened. But it is still a problem. It's been a problem for quite a while now. I know I need to be on a daily medication.

While I was waiting for my therapist to photocopy the prescription for buspirone today I said this day was a long time coming. She agreed. "You finally wore me down." I joked. She laughed, although it clearly made her uncomfortable. Making people uncomfortable is my specialty.

She has been bringing up daily drugs for several years now. Breastfeeding, the pregnancy I lost, and C's pregnancy have all been convenient excuses to avoid the drugs. But now C is 17 months old. I'm nursing less frequently. My excuses have dried up. My anxiety isn't getting more manageable. I know I need to be on a daily medication.

But I don't want to.

When I take my first dose tonight I will feel like a complete and total failure. I wanted to beat the anxiety. I wanted to fight that stupid bitch on my own, pound her nasty face into the pavement, I wanted to fucking kill her. By myself. With no outside help. I wanted to win. I wanted to kill her and move on with my life and never worry about anxiety again. I wanted to be strong and powerful and successful for once.

Mental illness stole my 20s. I feel like a loser who hasn't ever had a real career. Who is 36 and doesn't have a direction in life. Who was given and given and given every advantage in this world and squandered it all. The only thing I haven't fucked up yet is my relationship with Z. I look at him and my peers and I'm jealous. They have laundry lists of accomplishments  they have established careers. What have I done with my life?

When I look back on what a waste my adulthood has been I am so ashamed. What can I do to salvage it? I could beat the mental illness on my own. That is why I don't want to start taking the drugs that my therapist thinks I'll be on for the rest of my life. Because the anxiety wins yet another round. I'll be a slave to a pill in order to control her. And I fucking hate it.

I know I need to be on a daily medication. I will do the right thing. I will avail myself of help in order to get better for my boys. But it is a fucking bitter pill to swallow.

My handsome little man.
You ready for some awesome news? It's not going to sound awesome at first. Little man woke up with a fever of 102. But the doc was able to see him first thing and he doesn't have an ear infection, which is terrific. Even more terrific is the fact that he weighs 20lbs 12 oz. In less than a month he has put on 1lb 12 oz. He's back to being in the 5% for weight.  I told his doc we were putting in a feeding tube at bedtime which made her laugh. If you told me two months ago that I'd be cheering if he was in the 5% I'd have rolled my eyes. But there you have it. I'm thrilled that he's in a place where only 95% of his peers are bigger than him. His doc could tell how happy I was. "You should go home and have cake!" she said to me, "Seriously, give him some cake."

And yes, I'm having a pretty elaborate pity party for myself right now. But we manage to have fun around here despite all that. The picture above captures T's very favorite moment of the entire day. I don't know what possessed Z to start wrapping T in a blanket and wilding spinning him around. And I must admit, I'm really not crazy about it. But T adores it. Begs for it. Kids are weird. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Trash Night

After dinner we let the boys sit in front of the TV while we gathered the trash and recycling. We were continuing a conversation from earlier. Me, "You know what? I wouldn't mind going to rehab." Z, "Huh. No kids for 2 weeks or so." Me, "All the sleep you want. And lots of therapy." Z, "And art projects! And probably TV and internet!" Me, "Actually, rehab sounds awesome!"

I know, I know, rehab is serious business. Addiction is nothing to laugh at-hell I swore I wasn't addicted to smoking for years until I tried to quite. I was quitting for about four more years. Addiction sucks ass. But as I've mentioned we are exhausted. To the point where rehab sounds pretty swell. I mean, I hear they make all your meals in there as well.

While we were working away I realized I couldn't find my phone. Thought I left it out in the car. Z offered to call it from his before I put on my boots and stomped out to the driveway. I heard it ringing somewhere in the kitchen. I stepped towards the sound and Z grabbed me in a bear hug from behind and wouldn't let me go. I laughed and thrashed around and yelled and he only released me when it stopped ringing.

I looked for it, couldn't find it, and asked him to call it again. He did and then lunged for me and dragged me out of the kitchen and fell onto the sofa with me on top of him. I was laughing so hard I was crying as I yelled at him to cut it out.

He agreed to stop. Called again, and goddammit he did it again. Grabbed me and wouldn't let go until the ringing stopped. I was weak from the giggles. Had the sense not to ask him again and finally found it on my own. The asshole had spotted it and knew where it was the whole time.

Would you believe it was the most fun I had all day? I couldn't believe he could manhandle me like that. I outweigh him by at least 10lbs. Nothing makes you feel like a beautiful and delicate flower like outweighing your spouse. For every single fucking day of the almost 15 years you've been together. Including day one when you were barely 120lbs. Yup, he was about 115 back then. It's my own fault for loving the skinny boys...

My baby is now a boy. 

These boys got a nap yesterday. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Weekend Can Suck It

You want to hear a secret? I sort of hate the weekend. That sounds really shitty and ungrateful, I know. Let me backup a bit.

The fall that C joined our family was astonishingly manageable. When dude was a few weeks old he started sleeping through the night. At first we thought something was wrong because babies are not supposed to sleep through the night. Based on our previous experience we thought babies actually weren't able to sleep at all. But C loved to sleep. He loved to sleep when we loved to sleep. On top of that he was incredibly chill during the day. T was two that fall and needed a lot of attention. C was happy to watch T from the comfort of his bouncy seat. He was relaxed about hopping in the car to take T to school. He loved cuddling with me in his Ergo. He was so easy we couldn't believe he was real. He was so easy we immediately thought we wanted to have a third. Z and I loved being a family of four, having another kid made us love the first one so much more, made us love each other more as well. If more kids meant more love we thought we'd be crazy not to have another.

A year ago things started to change a bit. C stopped sleeping through the night, he started needing more attention during the day. Well, that was perfectly fine. Things were still pretty manageable. And he'd been so easy during the fall he totally deserved to have a little bit of a rough time. I remember talking to one of my very smartest of smart friends, one of my favorite people of all time, during that period. Her youngest is in between my boys, her eldest is a year older than T. And she was struggling big time. She had nothing left, at that point she was home with the kids and they were unrelenting in their constant and simultaneous need. She said the first year with two was so much easier than the second year.

It scared me, but I was still firmly in the comfortable first year bubble. And she wasn't telling me to scare me. She needed to talk, I am her friend. But she has told me so many true things since she has become a mom that I listened. I absorbed the knowledge that year two was going to be harder. Well, it's nice that I knew so I wouldn't think I was going bat shit insane when it happened, but knowing something is gong to be tough doesn't necessarily prepare you for how tough things are going to be. I'm in it now. And it fucking sucks. It is unrelenting. They fucking need us all the time. They can't entertain themselves well on their own, and if they are entertaining themselves we need to worry about them maiming each other. My sister, who has two boys nearly the same age, explained it like this: the boys play beautifully side by side for an indeterminate amount of time, then out of the blue they attack each other like feral dogs. You never know when it's coming.

So they are exhausting during the day and now C wakes anywhere between 2 and 5 times a night. I know, I know this is as temporary as the lovely fall after C was born. I know we probably have another year, maybe two of the extremely physically grueling part of parenting. I know when they are able to occupy themselves safely and when we have more time to ourselves that the demands will be no less difficult, just different. Z and I also know that there is no way in fucking hell we are having another. We are tapped out.

But knowing that stuff doesn't matter much when I am at the end of my rope. I look forward to the weekend all week long. I look forward to spending time with Z and to getting a break. Um, there is little time with Z, certainly no time with just the two of us. We are juggling the boys, juggling housework and homework for me. We are exhausted and frustrated and short with each other. Don't get me wrong, he takes the boys to help me. Yesterday morning he let me sleep in. I woke up on my own at 8:15 and it was amazing. But the shitty part is a couple extra hours of sleep does not restore me. And I feel terrible about it. Z tries to do nice things to make my life better and it's not enough? I'm not grateful? What kind of asshole am I? The reality is my job is the boys and on the weekend my job doesn't go away. And if I did have a job outside the home? Z loves his job. Like actually wants to go to work. But he is spent by the time Friday rolls around. He needs a break as well. If he goes and gets a couple of drinks with some friends on a Saturday night after the boys go down he still needs to be up at 6am, hungover or not. Forget up at 6am, he needs to deal with T being up at 4am while I'm dealing with C.

So on FB I read about friends who doen't have kids, or who have older kids doing awesome stuff on the weekends. And I love facebook, really I do, but for once I am jealous as hell. I might be most jealous of the people who do absolutely nothing during a weekend day. Who just hang out and nap and only have to worry about themselves. So during the week I get overwhelmed and frustrated and I need a fucking break. To get through I tell myself, just make it till the weekend. Everything will be better during the weekend. I lie to myself every week. And even though I really know what is going to happen I am surprised and frustrated every damn weekend.

Are the people who don't have kids asking why the fuck would they ever do it? Remember the part about the kids increasing your capacity to love everyone in your life more? The love makes it all worth it. I know. Doesn't make any sense to me, either. But it is true.

My little man was trying to keep warm this chilly morning. Thankfully the heating register is bigger than he is. 

Rough morning all around. 

A little unfiltered honestly uncomfortable action. This is what Sunday morning looks like. Unbathed. Hair full of coconut oil from last night. Forehead wrinkles that are getting bigger every week. Tired as fuck. Also, my kid just threw cheese at me.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Gun Play

This morning after my shower I found my three guys hanging out in Z and my bedroom while Z ironed his shirts (What? Did you think I iron them? I don't iron my own clothing. Why the fuck would I iron his?). A couple of years ago Z gave me a 12" vintage Boba Fett toy for my birthday. Mine isn't in perfect condition and it better not have cost anywhere near $400. And yes, the gift was like me getting him a massage gift certificate...for myself. We talked about it.

So, T had my Boba Fett in his hands and he was playing with the gun the action figure came with and asking me all sorts of questions about it. T "Mom, what is this part?" Me, "Um, I think it's the handle." T, "No. THIS is the handle. What is this part?" Me, "I don't know. I don't really want to know.  I don't like guns, T. I don't want to touch them or talk about them or be near them. Guns hurt people." T, "Well, I like guns." Me, "Ok, that makes me pretty sad. Guns hurt good people." T, "No they don't, Mom! Guns just kill bad guys." Me, "Oh T. That just isn't true. Guns kill good people all the time. They are very dangerous." T, "But Mom! Luke and Leia use guns! They are good!"

Oh boy. Luke and Leia do use guns. And they are good. Z and I are not hunters, and I don't believe we ever will be. We don't shoot recreationally. In all honesty, I've never touched a real firearm in my life. And I don't want to. Guns scare the hell out of me. And that is my prerogative  just like it is someone else's prerogative to be a gun enthusiast. Free country and all that jazz. But Z and I made a decision to introduce a movie with adult themes to our kid. Star Wars has been on in the background since he was an infant. It's too familiar to be scary, but now that he is older we need to deal with the repercussions of him being exposed to guns. A dear friend of mine called Star Wars our religion. She is an observant Jew and is raising her kids in the faith and compared their learning about the bloodier aspects of religious history to our kids watching A New Hope. It was incredibly generous of her. But the bottom line is Luke and Leia shoot guns. And policemen have guns. And soldiers have guns. And he is going to be hearing about guns for the rest of his life. He is too little to understand the nuance of gun use. He thinks they can only hurt bad people like storm troopers. It's important for him to know that people with guns can protect other people. But it's also important that he learns people use guns to hurt others.

I know his fascination is developmentally appropriate. We talked to his preschool teacher about it and she agreed it is normal. It's a hard topic, but we have the responsibility to address it as his parents. We do not want to be around guns, but after he grows up and is able to be responsible if he wants to hunt or join the rifle team in high school (is that still a thing?) we will let him make his own decisions. We need to explain to him that guns are dangerous and that he is not allowed to ever touch one while he is a child. We also need to explain to him that different people have different attitudes about guns. A lot of people incorporate guns into their life responsibly. A lot of people are irresponsible with guns and the consequences are horrifying.

I think I can handle the hard stuff when it comes to teaching our kids about guns, but here is where I'm worried. I keep reading crazy articles about kindergartners being suspended for pretending to shoot an imaginary gun. This behavior is developmentally normal in kids. Should it be corrected? Hell, yes. It's cool to let a kid know they are behaving in a way that is not going to be accepted. But draconian disciplinary measures that will be on their record for the rest of time? What the fuck? They are five or six. They can't understand what they are doing. Isn't it our job to explain it to them?

I don't have the answers. I'm still not sure what to say to T. Maybe I said the wrong thing this morning. Maybe we royally fucked up by showing him Star Wars. But I'll keep on trying to figure it out. I just hope our local school is also figuring it out and can handle little kids playing like little kids. I hope they have a system in place that helps them learn to be better people, not that harshly punishes them for behavior they can't understand.

My fun little man and his Daddy are making a fish tank filled with aquatic life this fine afternoon.  

Last night the "fish tank" was a robot head for my little guy. 

My big guy and I are just trying to figure out how to do right by our boys. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hey Smart Friends, Need a Little More Help Over Here

Friends. Smart, smart friends. I'm bugging you again because I need help. Clearly I can't to this parenting thing without a ton of backup. So can we talk about pacifiers?

T wasn't a pacifier guy. From day one he showed little interest. When C was an infant he didn't use them either. Then one day last spring he was fussy while our lovely babysitter was over. She found a pacifier somewhere in the living room-it came home from the hospital with us when T was born. I know, gross. I should have thrown it out, you know, several years ago. But the damn thing shut C up.

I know people have strong feelings about the use of pacifiers. I am not one of those people. T didn't like them, so I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about them. C was very late to using them, they provided a lot of comfort for him so I really didn't give a shit. An added bonus was when he went through that stick-every-fucking-thing-you-touch-in-your-mouth phase the pacifier blocked him. It was hilarious to watch and he didn't get dirt and grass and stuff he could choke on in his mouth.

A while ago our pediatrician told us she was totally cool with pacifiers, but she warned us that kids start to really get addicted to them at 18 months and the habit becomes difficult to break. He is 18 months at the end of February. We decided we'd "wean" him from the pacifier when we got back from our trip down south. But when we got home he was still a sick little boy. Also, you know, breaking him of the habit is really hard. I think the addiction boat sailed a little early with our guy.

He has the pacifier in and out of his mouth all day. But at night he needs it to sleep. And when it falls out he freaks and cries. And he really won't go back to sleep unless I nurse him. There have been nights where I've nursed him 5 times, although the average is 2. He is going on 17 months old. It's fucking ridiculous. And not to be completely selfish, ok who am I kidding, I'm always completely selfish. So yes, to be completely selfish, I fucking want to sleep through the night. I'm tired. C's tired. Z's tired. T is fine, totally well rested. Z and I resent the shit out of him.

So what do I do? How to we get him off the pacifier? Do we just pull the bandaid off? Do we take it away during the day and let him have it at night for a while? Do we put him down without it and give it to him when he wakes? Should we just give him to gypsies? What did you do with your pacifier addicted child? Did you send him/her to rehab? Was it expensive? Did the quite in your house while s/he was gone heal you and make you into a functioning human again? Can we send both of them to rehab? Please? HELP ME!

Yes, he also climbs inside the cabinets. I think that is a separate post.

Daddy and C doing a little early morning facebooking. Oh, guess what? He's walking almost all of the time now. Guess I just should have written about it months ago....

And and old one of this guy. He is going to be serious trouble when he gets older. I just hope he doesn't figure out how damn good looking he is. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Before 9 This Morning:

T's old training potty is still in his room because I'm lazy. He was upstairs playing while I was in the kitchen when he decided to pull it off the shelf and take a big shit in it. Drives me nuts when he does this every month or so. Because it is gross to clean up. And yet I keep forgetting to remove it. Of course the shit turned into diarrhea half way through. While I was dealing with that the little guy took advantage of the open bathroom door and the fact that my hands were full and pushed the lid to the toilet up and stuck his arm inside. I found him that way when I hustled back to the bathroom with a bowl full of shit in my hand. We have a "if it's yellow let it mellow" policy in our upstairs bathroom and the toilet hadn't been flushed in quite a while. I used my defcon 6 yell in order to try and scare him away. He just looked at me and kept fishing. We got all the piss and shit and dirty kids cleaned up and went downstairs. A few minutes later the little guy took a crap. At first I thought it was the big guy. Me, "Are you farting some more? Is your stomach ok?" I mean the kid did just have diarrhea. T, "Um.....I don't think so." I figured out it was C, took him to the changing table and he managed to thrust his hand into the shit and wipe it on the sock he was holding.

People, poop cracks me up, but this is quite enough mess for one day. I am done, DONE. If these kids want to messily create and play in bodily fluids someone else can clean it up. Man, I wish a poop fairy lived in our house.

This is what happens when you deny C popcorn. Forget the multiple hospitalizations  my cruelty was clearly the worst thing that had ever happened in his life. Do you see the tears?

T and Daddy made an awesome monster mask.

Trying to figure out chopsticks the last time I made stir fry.