Posts Tagged 'parenting'

We Are Family

This is the first time I’ve blogged with headphones on. The screaming does bad, bad things to me, and since K had to leave for work, I am sitting in the farthest corner of the house from the crib and listening to They Might Be Giants. Every once in a while, I will pause and listen to hear if the wails have lessened to crabby babble or whining. This is a mid-nap cry fest. I think I made a mistake; my nerves are still raw from starting this process all over again (third time a charm?) and should have taken Josie out after her 28-minute nap.

We came back from our mega Midwest tour last Sunday (more on that in a minute), and we began working with the sleep coach in earnest this past Thursday. The first night, she cried for almost 3 hours when first put down to sleep. But by last night she cried for only a half hour and stayed in the crib all night (besides one nurse & change around 2 a.m.). I need to reemphasize that: ALL night! This girl of ours is amazing.

I, on the other hand, am a bit messy. After only one day of training, I was curled in a ball on our bed, crying for hours straight, and thinking all kinds of horrible things, like how Josie and K would be better off without me. When I finally came out of that anxiety hell, K reminded me that over 8 months of severe sleep deprivation can make a mommy mad, which is totally how I felt. Mad with a capital Insane.

The sleep coach wants us to start with night training and worry about naps later, but that doesn’t make sense to us or seem to work for Josie. We decided to let her cry it out when she wakes up in the night and if naps are too short. There can be a lot of unpleasant crying, and it’s much more manageable when K and I are together. That’s why I’m sitting here like bombs are falling all around my house, and Josie is still upstairs screaming her sweet little innocent she-didn’t-ask-to-be-born lungs out.

So, on to the travel report. (Hey, I guess this scream time frees me up to blog more. Way to look for the positive, Self!) We flew to Chicago first. I was sohoho nervous about the flight. I was afraid of the screaming and the looks. But besides needing the baby ImageHeimlich, Josie did really well. We were referred to baby-led feeding a while ago, and we’d been letting Josie handle all the food she eats. We thought the article we read said that the food should be bigger than her fist, and that she would just gnaw on the part that sticks out the top of her grip.

[Nap update: I’ve been freaking out that she’s been up there for over an hour now. I remembered that I am allowed to go comfort her, pat her butt, etc. as long as I don’t pick her up. So, I ran, I mean, I walked very calmly upstairs and tried to comfort her. She would not roll over. For K, she usually rolls on her side with her blanky in her arms and lets her pat her butt till she calms down or falls asleep. For me? No. She stiffens so I could not roll her and throws her arms up to be taken out. She turns up the scream so her face is beet red. So I’m back here, worse for the “comforting.”]

Josie chomped right down on the apple slice we gave her, breaking off a sizable chunk with her little bottom teeth and proceeded to choke. Thank god 1) K knows what to do in that situation and 2) I was in the lavatory, far from the trauma. I got back to our row right after the incident, and K was definitely ready for a sob. Josie was fine.

We rented a big Queen Victoria boat of a car and drove to K’s grandparents’ place outside of Chicago. Josie did some pretty decent sleeping while we were there, and she stepped up her solid food eating since there was a nifty highchair. She also got to enjoy carpeting for the first time. She kept petting it and moving her fingers through it. I realized then that if we had carpeting instead of hardwood floors, she would learn to crawl so fast. Josie met a lot of new family members on this leg of the trip, and she was definitely overwhelmed. People were disappointed that she would not go to them or even sit on their laps. I had huge guilt; here we were, at her great-grandparents’ for the first time, and she cried when they so much as touched her. The next part of the trip was short but sweet. We drove a couple of hours to the Quad Cities, Iowa, where half of my people are from. Josie slept for an hour in the car, which made it… nice! We went to see my mom’s brother and his partner, whom I haven’t seen since my grandma died 7 years ago and whom K had never met. They were so clearly happy to see us and didn’t need to hold Josie immediately. That made things so much more relaxed for Josie and for us. We were only in Iowa for a day, but Josie did some great sleeping there, and we got to see my cousin, his wife, and their youngest. What a treat. The next leg took us to Madison, WI (yes, that’s the third and last state of this 12-day jaunt). That is where K’s immediate family and old family friends live. Josie didn’t do so well with sleep there. But she did get to meet her week-old first cousin, who she got a big kick out of.

[Scream update: I’ve gone up twice now. I remember one nap when K had to take her out of the crib to change a poop; she stayed up after that. I ran up to see if maybe there was poop, but no such luck. I promised K I wouldn’t take her out of the crib, but she doesn’t get back for another 2 hours! My shoulders are now fused with my earlobes.]

The second-to-last day of our trip was a mini trip to a wedding near Milwaukee. K’s cousin was getting married in a church in the morning and having a reception at a park in the afternoon. Well, Josie didn’t take her morning nap (surprise!), so we decided to forgo the church and catch up with everyone at the reception. So, not only did Josie never take that nap, she didn’t sleep in the car and that was a long drive. She did fine at the party itself, and we somehow made it to Milwaukee that evening. We found a pizza place in a seedy part of town that made gluten-free and dairy-free pizza. Then we passed out in a hotel room. The flights home the next day were difficult. Josie didn’t sleep (should I bother writing that any more?), and I had a run-in with an evil man. The flight to Chicago featured a changing table in the back lavatory. As we boarded our first flight home, the flight attendant said it was in the front one this time. I quickly scanned the nearby seats for two empties so we could be close to the front. I saw two and we headed in with our million bags and whatnot. The old man in the aisle seat just looked at me and wouldn’t move at first. So, I said, “Can we please sit there?” He continued to stare me down but stood up. We needed to get in the seats and unpack our snacks from the carry-on that would eventually be stowed in the overhead compartment. This needed to be done with Josie and five other carry-on type items all juggled together. K stepped into another row with Josie while I scooted past the guy and started the organizing. I tried to smile and say graciously, “I’m sorry, but we have to sit close to the front since that’s where the changing table is.” He just glared his terrible icy blue old man glare and said, “No comment!” At that, I looked up at K and yelled, “Oh, we need to find somewhere else… now!” While I was pushing back past him, I noticed the man sitting in the row behind smiling a pleasant smile, and so I loudly praised him for looking like a nice gentleman who could teach other men how to be nice. I probably confused the hell out of this poor soul. When I caught up to K and Josie at a row farther back, my eyes were filled and I yelled, “What an a**hole!” It’s not like me to curse audibly in mixed and compact company, but I had lost it. And that was on Xanax, mind you.

One thing I think our big trip did for us was coalesce us as a little family in a way that walking around our neighborhood and seeing some friends hadn’t before. We were a nuclear family among extended families. We had to face new challenges together. Josie grew (literally) and, as a unit, we got a little bigger in our britches.

Now, if we can all just get some sleep.

[I promise a moment of FoG next time!]

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ch ch ch…

Josie is four months old. What?! I have a four-month-old daughter? Since when? Who is it? Is she related to the newborn I had?

There is a really tall baby that lives with K and I, and more often than not I find her sleeping in bed with us at night. She doesn’t sleep in the swing, and she doesn’t need all 500 Fleetwood Mac songs sung to her to get her there. Once in a while, I see a smile that I used to get my baby to make at the smallest provocation; this kid needs a lot more entertainment.

Unlike newborn sleepyhead, this Josie will not go quietly into a good nap. There is much crying, and often for little result. We can easily dance or swing her for over an hour just to get 10 minutes of unconsciousness out of her. The two ways we can get her to nap any longer than that is if K wears her in the Moby wrap and never stops moving, or if I lie down and nurse her to sleep.

She grows and changes, as does our hair. Mostly the result of many months away from a barber shop and lots of mother's milk.

She still cries at this, but once she’s asleep, I can keep her that way for almost two hours — as long as her arms are wrapped very possessively around the breast and I do not move one muscle the entire time. The whole operation’s awash if I adjust to relieve hip pain. I have spent 16 hours lying on my side some days. I would let her stay up all day and night if she’d be happy, but she kvetches all day when she’s tired.

I do not like to complain about her because it is clearly a parenting fault. Some of it is teething, too. Her breastfeeding issues largely cleared up after her frenotomy, but I don’t think there’s any minor surgery that makes a baby nap! We’ve bought the No Cry Sleep Solution, but of course we haven’t had time to read it. We’ve been told over and over that we have to make the call, and soon: either we let her cry it out a few nights in a row or we have a kid in our bed till 2020. We talk about it a lot, but neither of us are up for letting her cry for hours on end. I don’t know if it’s because of post-traumatic-birth syndrome or because we’re just wusses.

In spite of the fussy sleepiness, Josie is quite an amazing, silly, fun, and delicious kid. We love playing call-and-response cooing with her. She loves making us jump in surprise by suddenly wiggling her entire body on the changing table. She cuddles us really sweetly right before bed — if I put my head over her torso, she’ll wrap her arms around it (and then proceed to pull my hair). There’s so much more to say about our patootie, but there may be only seconds left of this miracle nap K snuck her into.

From Where I Lie

I am lying on my right side, propped up on my elbow and reaching over a sleeping/nursing baby with my left hand to type on my laptop which sits precariously on the pillow buttressing said baby’s back. If K hadn’t brought me my laptop, I’d be doing what I now do 75% of my day: wish the baby was either sleeping or nursing, wonder when I’ll lose all feeling and function of my supporting arm, stare at the invariably messy room, daydream about the food I can’t access in spite of insane hunger, try to wiggle into a less uncomfortable position knowing full well I will not sleep, wonder how I’ll ever go back to working — even part time, and will myself to not pick at the baby’s cradle cap. I also take several long gazes upon the most magnificent thing I’ve ever made. So know that I am not complaining.

Who could give this baby shots??

Tomorrow is the dreaded day. J’s first round of immunization shots. I wish I was one of those conscientious parents who research the heck out of things regarding their kids, but at best I’m shaping up to be the kind of mom that puts her faith in the research of others and who looks at the health care provider over serious under-eye bags of sleep deprivation and says, “Please just tell us what to do when.” So we waited till 3 months and are doing 3 immunizations in 3 installments. I wasn’t able to be in the room when she had her frenotomy; poor K had to do that one solo. But there’s no getting out of this… there are just too damn many shots! I know J is going to do well; it’s me I’m worried for. I’m still so hormonal that I can’t even listen to K describe a dream she had about another kid hurting J. Driving by a billboard advertising child abuse awareness brings me to tears.

I suppose before I sign off, I should mention that after two sessions of intense internal hemorrhoid zapping, I am feeling a lot better. The process is crazy and one I wouldn’t recommend for a good time but totally┬ásuggest if you need it.

Adoptation

Week 22 update: Return of the Nausea, Now with Heartburn! Big and Getting Bigger! Thank G-d for the Snoogle!

Last week we went to our LGBT “family” lawyers office. I realized that it had been 2.5 years since we had our first appointment there—to set up our first known-donor contract. It put some perspective on the persistence we mustered to get where we are. The head honcho, whom we adore, was very happy to see the bump (yes, I realize I just said we adore a lawyer). But the reason for our visit kind of pisses me off every time I think about it. You see, even though we live in a lefty-liberal state where domestic partners are both automatically parents and on the birth certificate, K and I do not solely exist in this state. Sometimes we like to travel to visit family, or even drive 15 minutes across our northern border to see a movie. In these other states, K is not necessarily recognized as a parent. So, for the pittance of $1,350, we get to pay for K to adopt her own child! I mean, this state-by-state march toward our civil rights is really working! Can I get an “Amen”? (Please don’t get me started on how we have to file our taxes!)

I know I should be glad we live somewhere that gives the same rights and responsibilities to domestic partners as “married” couples. I should just shrug my shoulders and think: Well, we could live in one of those states where second-parent adoption isn’t even allowed for same-sex couples. Or in a state where we’d have to suffer humiliating home studies for our own friggin’ child. But as you can tell from my tone, I am not. I’m ticked. We don’t have money like that—especially after $IVF. And I don’t think that we should have to pay to be “safe” when at least our state’s laws are on our side. It all comes down to that unfortunate scene in which K travels with the baby, with or without me, and the baby needs to go to the hospital. She may not be allowed in!

We’re going to have to carry a copy of the adoption document with us wherever we go. Even here in our home state, we still need to carry it with us in the off chance that a hospital staff person who may have just moved here from another state is not familiar with our domestic partnership laws and gives us a hard time, slowing down the process of getting emergency care for our kid. It’s all fine and good to be able to say “Told you so!” after the crisis.

Most of the time, I walk around feeling all groovy and gay and pregnant and welcome and safe. I am so grateful for that, I swear. After moving out of the hood last year, K and I haven’t been gay bashed once! As I adapt to the situation of having to pay for extra legal protections all along the way (that the vast majority of people get free for loving someone of the opposite sex), is it okay if I still want better for me and our family?

 

All You Need Is Moms

My mom recently came to town. She brought this picture of us, which I had never seen before. I think she brought it so that I could better focus on the new relationship forming inside me. (Ironic, isn’t it, that my baby face is so out of focus in the photo?)

K and I tried something new for the same effect yesterday. We went to a picnic organized by a local group of parenting and pregnant lesbians (PLOP for short… ew!). It was at a park, so the crew was mostly moms and toddlers. But we talked with a few moms who had infants, and that was a treat. When I see the really little ones, I’m reminded of what’s coming our way. I mean, on the one hand, I still totally don’t believe it (I am me, after all, who thinks something has to go wrong). Being surrounded by other moms, some of whom must have gone through similar struggles to get their babes, gave me another much more reassuring hand to consider.

My mom will be visiting for a week; an hour before her plane leaves, K’s mom arrives for her visit. The timing of all this makes me think Ma Universe signed us up for a summer course in Momming.

Body Shots

I’m not talking about regrettable Facebook photos. Nor am I speaking of the illustrious sucking of alcohol from another person’s body (why did I have to learn about this one from a boy in high school?!). When I refer to shots of any kind, ever again, it’ll be in reference to the Follistim, Menopur, Ganirelix Acetate, HCG, and Progesterone-in-Oil. It’ll be in reference to my stomach and my hips, which after the next few weeks (months if it works) will be pin cushions.

K and I had the pleasure of learning how to poke me (again, not Facebook related) today. The first shot we were shown was kind of fun; we got to assemble the syringe pen, set the dosage dial, draw out the drug, redo it to get rid of the bubble, and then stab it into a disc of boob-like foam (or rubber?). But after the next one, which was more complex, I began to feel a little overwhelmed. And then there was another. The last one we were shown how to do was the progesterone, which goes into the hip muscle instead of my belly flub. “Be sure not to hit the sciatic nerve!” was warning #1, followed by “You’ll need to draw up on the syringe a little each time to see if you’ve hit a blood vessel.” It was early in the morning of the first spring-forward weekday. I was tired, cranky, and now queasy.

I take my last birth control pill tomorrow night (yes, birth control pills are used to get infertile women pregnant—go figure), and then I get to have a period of sorts. We will shoot me up daily with all these shots for weeks. I’ll be going in to check on how things are progressing down there (ultrasounds and blood tests) every few days. I had to sign my life away by acknowledging all the bad things that can happen, including hyperstimulation of the ovaries, which is not a good thing. So, I’m glad I’ll be face-to-facing a doctor regularly, and they can tell me if I’m being hyperstimulated or just hyper.

In addition to the shot lessons, we got treated to some fine heterosexist paperwork. K pointed out to the needle nurse that now might be a good time to update their paperwork to reflect and not totally alienate their clientele. Something as simple as taking the word “male” out of the phrase “male partner’s signature” is what we were thinking. She told us she completely agreed with us, but proceeded to give us the excuses: well, we have to keep it this way for legal reasons; it’s because the male partner’s sperm is used so that’s why he signs everything too; it’s your eggs (pointing to me) and will be your baby so that’s why we just need your signature; and, finally, my favorite, things happen, and you two might split up (as if straight couples never split up). We explained that her first vague excuse (even though she totally agrees with us) is invalid because we’re registered domestic partners, which, in Oregon, means we have the same rights and responsibilities as married straight people. Her second excuse was bogus because the paperwork said zero about sperm, and, as K pointed out to her, we (as a couple) own E2’s sperm anyway. We explained to the nurse (who I would generally say doesn’t need to know everything about Oregon law, but if you’re gonna only make eye contact with me and then tell me and my wife whose baby we’re having, then know what the eff you’re talking about or shut the eff up) that we will both be legal parents in Oregon—printed right on the birth certificate at the hospital. By the last excuse (the typical gays don’t stay together condescension that no one ever gives to straight couples), K’s eyes were in lock down and her frozen smile in hungry tiger mode. I did what I do best in tense situations and made a funny. I turned to K and said, “Honey, why do you always gotta be cheating on me when I’m having your baby?”

Of course, while all of this uncomfortableness played out, the only thought in my woozy head was, “Seriously?! An enema!” Because all those shots and the “orange” size ovaries and the nausea and pain and uncertainty isn’t enough…I have to do a fuckin’ enema 12 hours before the surgery (i.e., egg retrieval)—you know, to help avoid bowel perforation. ‘Cause that‘s now something I need to worry about!

I wonder why I have to keep reminding myself that no one is making me do this and that I’m purposefully taking it all on (yes, including the risk of ovarian cancer). Why would I feel the urge to scream when I also remind myself of the many many thousands of dollars we’re purposefully paying? I’m saying this now…I will not be doing this twice. If I don’t get pregnant, it’s K’s turn; if I get pregnant and miscarry, find me a pretty padded cell.

Well Trained, But No Bone

One of the weirdest parts of this whole process is seeing signs in everything. Not faces in toast, but “see, because of that, I must be pregnant.” It’s constant during the two waiting weeks of each cycle. This time the sign was brought to us by our dog… in her mouth.

Last weekend, we had an unusual weather day in the Northwest and decided to walk to our nearest dog park to let the pooch run and for us to enjoy the strange, warmth-giving orb in the sky. The park was filled, and our anti-social girl takes off to the tree-shaded area where she likes to hunt but never catch squirrels. We usually follow a pace or two behind to keep an eye so she doesn’t decide to run out of the park altogether. This one time, we were so D deprived that we decided as long as we could see her tail, we could stay way on the opposite hill and enjoy the sun. Well, after a minute or two, we see her tail making strange spazzy movements. K said it looked like she was doing the crouch-n’-pounce with a small dog; this seemed likely because, if she’s gonna deign to play with any dog, she’ll do so with small dogs. But then we decided to start walking toward her and see what was what. At the same time, she starts trotting toward us, in sight of all the dogs and people and god, lifting her legs like a show pony, proudly displaying the fattest squirrel I’ve ever seen hanging limply in her mouth. We were horrified (I have a strong aversion to rodents bordering on a phobia). We got her to drop it, and I grabbed a big stick to keep her away from it while we panicked about what to do. A very unhelpful male human informed us that we’d better get rid of the very fresh kill before other dogs start messing with it. Well, we only had the plastic newspaper sleeve we brought along for Killer’s poop, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to use my hand to lift that thing and try to shove it through the 6-inch diameter hole of the trash can. I asked a stranger to use her cell and called the Park dept., but of course they were closed. We had no choice but to suck it up, put the leash on, and take that park-length walk of shame in front of all the judging eyes — leaving the carcass right where it was. After getting home and calling around, we realized no one was going to clean that thing up but us. So we drove back this time, with a shovel, garbage bag, and no dog. Having to do a disgusting thing, having been horrified and humiliated by the action of our dog, I was sure that we passed some huge universe parenting test. I saw the big, furry, glassy-eyed sign that I had to be pregnant this time.

Alas.

A couple days ago, the PMS signs started rolling in. And as much as everyone tells me they are the same symptoms as pregnancy, I say that I have come to this point in so many cycles, in my own body, thank you very much, that I know what these signs were saying. I won’t go into them here, but once my temperature dropped, I knew. The negative pregnancy tests were just the verification I needed to stop taking the twice-a-day progesterone pills that have been fueling this latest loop of my hormone roller coaster.

With all my crying, poor K had to ask my mom, who was here a couple weeks ago, to come back and take care of her baby. I feel 12, but I have to say I am really looking forward to some more sympathy cuddles. In the meantime, I’ve decided that I’m emotionally and mentally nearing my limit. I want to move directly to IVF. If that doesn’t work, then I feel we’re done. I’m only 35 for fuck’s sake. And I’ll be done trying to have a baby?!

Is this really my life?

I’ve been seeing and hearing physicist Brian Greene making the NPR and Colbert Report rounds this week about his new book on parallel universes. I totally buy it, even if it’s just based on math at this point. Because somewhere along the way, my life switched with another “my life” that I am less familiar with. In that other life I’ve been leading, we are all at the park: me, K, our kid, and both my parents, and we are enjoying the sun while our dog chases squirrels from tree to tree — and, as always, failing to catch any.


(Disclaimer: No men were harmed in the making of this blog.)

The Family

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