Friday, June 30, 2006

The Mommy Track

I was going to work on my novel tonight. I was. But then I decided to visit the bloggers who've recently visited me, and what with one thing and another, I've got something on my mind.

Kailani told about her journey of miscarriage and heartbreak between her first and second daughters and how blessed she feels. Here, Interstellar Lass was pondering over her ability to get pregnant without even trying much and her subsequent tubal ligation after two children. Now in a happy (2nd) marriage with a childless man, she's wishing for more children, with him. It's a tough thing. I won't burden you with my thoughts on their situations; go read their posts.

As I read and responded to these posts, my train of thought zoomed down some well-worn tracks. The memories followed me as I did the dishes, my mind got tangled up in knots, and eventually I realized I had to get this out of my brain or I'd be paralyzed. So here goes.

First, I have to say that as I grew up, I always wanted to get married young (20-ish) and have kids, preferably several of them. It was just something you did. Just so you don't worry, I also wanted to be a glamorous international spy, a hard-nosed editor, and a writer of movies and books. I'm still working on the last one.

However, my plans for marriage and parenthood went awry. When I was 24, I married my college boyfriend and agreed to put off children for a couple of years. It's a darn good thing I did. Not that I thought of it as good at the time. Especially when my biological alarm clock went off. Once he did agree we could start "trying," the process was a constant source of misery to me (especially while my hormones weren't being regulated by lovely b.c. pills). It was made worse at the time by my ex's attitude, which can be summed up in these quotes:

"I don't want to have children until I've done something with my life!" (spoken in a wail, and prompting the inevitable response: "Well, when were you planning to start?" He was 26 at the time, and had been out of college for 3 years. He still didn't have a job.)

"You'd make a lousy mother. Even your plants die; how do you think you could keep a child alive?" (Idiot. And I was an idiot for even considering this idea seriously.)

"I read that masturbating at least once every 24 hours keeps the sperm count too low to fertilize an egg." (Apparently this was true. He thought I wouldn't catch on. Gack.)

Without knowing anything else, you can see why that relationship didn't last much longer. The rest of it wasn't any better. And I had wasted most of my 20s on it.

When I was 30, I married a sweet, wonderful, and intelligent man who was also a single father. #1 Son was 3 at the time, and The Man agreed that we ought to start trying for a baby right away, so that they'd be semi-close in age. Well, I got pregnant right off the honeymoon, and we were ecstatic. (I think I've blogged about this before.) Eleven weeks into the pregnancy, the doctors found a lethal birth defect, and at 17 weeks, the baby was born and died. Leaving the maternity ward with no baby to take home was much more painful than the 30 hours of labor that preceded it.

Trying again was nerve-wracking in a way I'd never experienced. Chucking my beloved career, leaving Hawaii, and taking a low-paying job in a place I'd never been, I could handle that. But taking the risk of losing another baby... ouch. It was scary. I had an emotional breakdown on the anniversary of my baby's death. I panicked when the doctors sent me for ultrasounds; knowing that the previous problem was a one-in-a-million fluke didn't help.

At seven months, I had to be hospitalized for a heart...well, problem. I described a similar episode here... Once they got my heart stopped and started again, they put me through a ton of tests, including an ultrasound scan of my heart. None of the good results did anything to convince me that this pregnancy was going to be any more successful than the previous one, despite having lasted longer. I couldn't shake the feeling that no matter how long I was pregnant, I was simply incapable of producing a viable offspring.

On my due date, I had a major panic attack while in the doctor's office. I was hospitalized again and sedated heavily. That Friday, they promised, they would induce labor if the baby hadn't come yet. Well, he didn't. (In fact, to this day, I've never spontaneously gone into labor, unless you count--- well, that will come later.) Early Sunday morning, my Pirate Boy was born by c-section after a LONG and excruciating labor. And do you know what? As I held him in the recovery room, he was all I could think about. He was my whole world.

That's one wonderful blessing that comes from having known the pain of losing a child: Any child you have in the future becomes more precious to you than you could have imagined. Especially the one that comes first. It was probably best that I was that devoted to this baby son, because I had to go through some stuff for him. But I would have given my life if necessary. And even though I knew what was involved, I felt that I'd like to have another baby.

We started trying when Pirate Boy turned 2, and I got pregnant right away, though I didn't have medical confirmation. In fact, it was just about the fourth week when I started to bleed, so I thought I'd been wrong. But no, I wasn't. I was on vacation, it was my anniversary, and I was having a miscarriage.

We kept trying, and succeeded again right away. This time, my suspicions of pregnancy were confirmed by the fact that I had a small tachycardia every day starting in the fourth week. I spent most of my pregnancy having to lie down for a couple of hours every afternoon. My feet started swelling in the first trimester, and I felt like the entire pregnancy was a little touch-and-go. But the tests showed no problems, and when my red-haired punkin was born 8 days early by elective c-section, he was tall and strong and ready to play football.

As I lay on the table waiting to be stitched up, the doctor asked again whether I wanted her to tie my tubes while she was at it. I was sorely tempted. I decided against it at the time, although The Man and I had no plans for more children. Since then, I've second-, third-, and fourth- guessed my decision. Birth control is expensive, and I'm not close enough to menopause. That one small act would have saved a lot of money and worry.

However-- I didn't do it, and here's why: it's the "can't" syndrome. I have this problem in relation to treats and things, too. If there's chocolate (or ice cream, or whatever) in the house, I can take it or leave it, and I usually leave it. If I know I don't have any of the thing I want, it's all I think about. Hence, if I couldn't potentially have children, I'd want to, desperately. And that's not what I really want. If I can't be more mature, at least I can recognize it.

So where are we now? Well, we're out of birth control because I can't afford it anymore. But we will not be having any more children. If we did, it would be over my dead body.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Thursday Thirteen: Take it Easy

Thirteen of my Favorite Therapies
  1. Sleeping in.
  2. Reading mystery novels.
  3. Sitting by a stream and watching the light sparkle in the water.
  4. Reading Dave Barry or other humorists' work.
  5. Playing classical music on the piano.
  6. Writing, usually verse or short stories.
  7. Shopping (if I have any money).
  8. Taking naps.
  9. Talking to my mom.
  10. Eating chocolate.
  11. Playing Pirates!
  12. Snuggling my kids.
  13. Hanging out with my husband.

    Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Life Goes On

We now own two honkin' big stand mixers, courtesy of my mother-in-law. The Man's tuition has been paid, courtesy of my dad. And The Evil One has discovered the frustrations of parenting an adolescent. Naturally, she says it's all our fault. What. Ever.

My pirate boys are now a pirate Jedi (Captain Yoda--whose idea was it to make a Lego Star Wars game anyway?) and a pirate Sith Lord (Blackbeard Sidious). The curtain rod is seriously about to pull out of the wall, despite the solid bolting, because they won't stop swinging from the back of the couch to the center of the room.

I'm back working on my NaNo novel, which is good in places and really needs work in others. I suppose that's a good average. I may post another excerpt here in a bit. Let's see, what else is going on...?

Oh yes, I went to the doctor yesterday because of the neuropathy in my feet and the general feeling of constant excruciating pain. I'm getting tested for diabetes in a week or so; did you know that unexplained weight loss is a symptom of diabetes? It is. If the test comes back negative, the doc says the problem might be a B12 deficiency. What is up with that?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Overheard in Passing

Walking down the hall at church the other day, I was only vaguely aware of one woman complimenting another's dress. The "dress" woman caught my attention, though, with her response: "Thanks, I got this one for the Academy Awards a couple years back..." I grinned. A quick glance wasn't even necessary to confirm her identity; the door she was standing at gave it away. She's the nursery leader, and has been for a couple of years now. I love that. I love it that everybody just serves in our church in whatever way they're asked to, and they don't say, "I'm a vice president of HP, I'm not going to chaperone teenagers at camp!" or "I'm just a gas-station attendant, I can't be Sunday School president (or bishop)!" Or, "I'm dean of the Harvard Business School, and I don't want to move to Idaho..." They just do it. I love that.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Out of the Blue

I just wanted to share a cool thing that happened today. Around 10 a.m., I got a call; the voice was somewhat familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. Even when she said her name, it took me a moment, because it was the same as The Evil One's.

Then it hit me: My best friend-cousin! I've only seen her a handful of times in the last 15 years because we live thousands of miles apart, but we used to be like sisters. This morning, though, she said she was less than 75 miles away and heading in this direction; could she stop by? Could she?!

Well, I cleaned the house as best I could, cleaned myself up, and had things reasonably presentable by the time she arrived with her van full of kids (5 of them, from 8 months to 9 years I think--her oldest was staying with relatives for a bit). She is driving back across the country with them (but not her husband) after a family reunion west of the Rockies. Brave, brave woman.

And it's weird, because I'm not used to seeing her as a woman, but I did today. She was always this cute little girl with bright blue eyes and a blonde pixie haircut. Well, she's still got the eyes. But nobody would mistake her for a little girl now-- even without the kids around. Last year, she weathered all those hurricanes, but really, how hard is that when you've got a toddler, four other kids, and one on the way? When you can handle five little kids and a newborn and still send your husband off to work every day without crying? I can't even imagine it. Remind me of this when I complain how hard my life is.

When we were kids, I was the big strong girl that my little cousin looked up to. Now, she is totally my hero, and I want to be like her when I grow up.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Mixed Nuts

I've lost count of how many mixers we've had in our house today, but it was far too many. Let's see, there was our old one with the missing blades. There was the neighbor's that TM broke the other day making donuts. There was the one we borrowed this week so we could make scones. (This one did not break; it's a lovely heavy-duty and incredibly old thing.)

And then three or four more arrived in the mail. Why? I don't know, really. One of them was supposed to replace the neighbor's broken one. OK. So, we broke a hand mixer, and ordered a hand mixer from Amazon. But then they decided they wanted a bigger mixer and were willing to pay the difference. They specified the basic type and color and sent TM out to conquer on e-Bay.

In this process, TM bid on like fifty bajillion mixers and actually won more than one. So today we had multiple deliveries from e-Bay, including one disguised as a delivery from Amazon... Oh, he was in heaven, let me tell you.

Now, where was I? (Australia.) Right. Well, there was supposed to be a delivery from Amazon, as I mentioned, but that didn't show up until later this afternoon. So now we had no less than seven mixers in the house, of which two now belonged to us but didn't work and the others belonged to our friends and neighbors, and worked fine.

At this point, I'm getting a little edgy. "Can we please get some of these out of here so that we have room to move?" I'm not even asking where the money for all this came from; now I understand why we can't pay the mortgage.

TM gets on the phone & has a chat with the neighbors. Turns out (no surprise) they want the nicest, biggest of the mixers and he's going to be taking it over to them. Fine, great. I try not to think about what we're going to do with the others. He comes back a little while later and says that they like it, it's just the right kind, but they don't want it after all. Huh? It's silver, not chrome. They wanted chrome. Mmm-hm. But, they wonder, maybe we can sell it on e-Bay?

Anybody want to buy a mixer? I have to tell you up front, it's not chrome.

American Lit

A bad memory isn't necessarily a bad thing. For instance, mine keeps me from worrying about the things I can't do anything about. Like not having enough money currently to pay TM's summer tuition AND the mortgage. Or any of the other bills. I feel like the dad in Vonnegut's "Harrison Bergeron"-- you remember, he was too intelligent, so he had to have his brain signals constantly interrupted in the name of making everyone equal. Well, I'm not too intelligent anymore... Sigh.

On the other hand, on those odd occasions when something has gone missing (like TM's paycheck from that one day), it would come in really useful to be able to actually recall ever having seen it, and possibly even where that was. Or to be able to remember that bills are due, before they're OVERdue. Things like that. I used to be the memory bank for this family. Now, I'm bankrupt.

Sometimes it's just little things that I forget, like that I might have wanted to do a "13" list for Thursday, after I had such fun with the one last week. Nah, it didn't even cross my mind yesterday. Not once. Might've been all that pain-- but that didn't stop Harrison Bergeron. No, a shotgun blast did.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Keeping You Posted

Just passing through to jot down some things that have been going on in the past few days:

Thursday evening: We incorporated. At least, we filed the paperwork. Waiting for confirmation that it's official. The motivation for this? I forget what gave us the idea originally, but this time it was for the purpose of applying for a small business loan to buy that game store. Oh sure, it could happen. And what if it did? Not going to go there right now. Moving on...

Friday: I heard from an employment agency that wanted to recommend me for a tech writer position in town. Good pay, full time, benefits of some sort, sounded good... but when I couldn't master the pain enough to drive 4 miles to fill out the application paperwork, I (finally) came to the realization: I'm not capable of working a full-time job anymore.

So I sat down with The Man (TM) and talked over the ramifications. Not only am I not going to be bringing home much bacon anymore (I did file for disability and am waiting to see how that turns out), but I'm not going to be able to spend 3+ hours driving people hither and yon every day. I might not be able to drive at all, depending on the medication situation. We were already facing a big conflict between TM's school schedule and the kids' schedule-- the kids were 7:45 to 2:45 and TM was more like 11 to 6.

We talked over the situation and I think I managed to get him to realize there was a problem. Unfortunately, we didn't get any closer to a solution. He swears he can't change any of his classes (so who was going to run the store?), and we can't just keep our kids home so that TM can go to college. Bother.

Saturday: We were going to have Captain Kid's birthday party Saturday afternoon, but about a week ahead of time (just before we invited his friends), I discovered an invitation from one of them to his party, the very same time on the very same day, same general location and same invitees. And of course, he'd sent invitations earlier. So, we talked it over and Captain Kid decided that he'd like to go to his friend's party and get together with his best girl for ice cream sometime soon.

So he went to the party and had a good time. His best girl was there, as were some other friends from kindergarten. TM went and hung out with the other parents, where he discovered that our boy is at the center of a minor soap opera. Apparently, one of the other girls from his class had told little Abby to leave Captain Kid alone because she (a fiery redhead) wanted him. After some consideration, Abby decided to stand by her man. The redhead's going to have to look elsewhere for a boyfriend. Captain Kid, of course, was totally puzzled by the entire episode. I see interesting times ahead.

Sunday: Captain Kid's 6th birthday! We celebrated with boatloads of pirate loot again, another treasure island cake, pirate figures, plunder for him to share with the crew, and so forth. His great-grandma gave him the best present of all: a treasure chest with all sorts of good stuff in it, and he is just deliriously happy with that.

Sunday evening, we watched the broadcast commemorating the handcart pioneers. It was really neat, all the more so because we got to see the little pirates' aunt Dorothy and her beloved husband, His Worship, singing in the choir. I thought just for a moment or two I could hear her voice among the others-- but only because I know it so well, so don't worry, girl.

Later, my mom called to say Happy Birthday to Captain Kid, who babbled excitedly at her about all the great things that were part of his day. He had to tell her all the pirate nicknames of our family, during which his little brother corrected him on one point: "I'm not Blackbeard, I'm Marquis Montalban!" She was so tickled, she asked for pirate nicknames for her and my dad. After some consideration, the kids dubbed them Stede Bonnet and Jean Lafitte. Respectively.

Monday: TM started his second summer class today. I did a brief editing project for my friend Kelli the ice-cream queen. (She owns the shop down our street. I suspect she picked that spot just because she knows how much I love ice cream.) I spent a couple of hours semi-conscious from the pain and exhaustion when I was supposed to be taking care of the kids. (They oughta revoke my mothering license.) Fortunately, they were good most of the time, playing (pseudo) Lego pirates joyfully and energetically.

This afternoon, another shipment of loot arrived for the kids. Now Captain Kid has a singing sword and Marquis Montalban is plotting to steal it. I sense more adventures on the horizon...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Thursday 13: The Pirate Edition

Thirteen Fun Pirate Links

  1. The alpha and omega: the Pirates Web Ring
  2. Rogues' Gallery: Who's Who in Pyracy
  3. Who lives in The Pirate's Realm ?
  4. No Quarter: A magazine for pirates
  5. Dressed to kill: Pirate costumes
  6. Did you know? Pirate news
  7. Downloadable pirate music
  8. Words to a pirate song for kids
  9. Sing it with me: "Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate's life for me"
  10. Play a pirate game
  11. More pirate game stuff
  12. How to talk like a pirate
  13. And of course, the official Pirates of the Caribbean 2 site (1 month and counting!)

    Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ummmm, No....

But I have to admit, it does look a lot like me.

Your Inner Retro Girl Is

1970s Disco Diva

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Pieces of Eight

What was that sign of aging? Fading memory or something? Sheesh. I was so carried away yesterday talking about how great my husband is that I forgot to mention one of the major things we dealt with.

So it goes like this. I had been lying down a bit after getting ill from the pain, sometime after I'd fed the kids lunch and tried to get them to take naps. The Man (TM) had picked up the groceries and a fresh lot of meds for me, so that was good, but the meds weren't working, and I was just shaking. He came in from making these nacho-sopapilla hybrids in the deep fryer, shook his tongs and me, and ordered me to go to bed. Lovely man.

So, anyway, I was lying down. Took a little nap, apparently. The youngest pirate also took a nap, and people were kind of wandering in and out of my room every so often, so I was only slightly startled when TM came in, holding little Blackbeard. But then he got me back for this episode, which happened one year ago tonight. He said, "I hate to bother you, but his finger is turning purple--"

I didn't hear the rest. I sat bolt upright, muscles twanging and eyes wide open. "What's going on?" My punkin pirate had apparently stuck his middle finger through a wooden piece of a number puzzle while playing after he woke up from his nap. That thing was stuck solid. Again, my husband asked what I thought we should do next. "Ice," I suggested, handing him an ice pack while rummaging in the fridge for some butter and trying not to curse audibly.

The ice didn't work, and it made the punkin so angry that any benefit was quickly lost. Butter was also out of the question, and by this time, that tiny finger was looking really scary. Running to the garage to search for our smallest saw, I mentally calculated how long it would take to drive to the emergency room, and whether the local urgent care clinic (much cheaper) would be likely to have the equipment to cut the offending object off of my baby.

I hadn't even finished this line of thought when TM was on the phone to our wonderful neighbors. "Got a Swiss Army knife or something with a small sawblade?" he asked. "We'll see what we can do," was the response, and within a minute and a half (though it seemed like an eternity in Purgatory), the neighbor was at the door with an armload of tools that might be made to do the job.

The first tool or two didn't do much, so it was time to go for the power drill. Punkin was highly dubious but fortunately has the male gene that makes tools abundantly fascinating. The first side wasn't too bad, and we were able to break through the puzzle piece most of the way. The other side was a bit trickier, with several big hands holding the five little fingers away from the drill and several big people trying to calm one small one, who was by this time pretty upset.

Captain Kid (still very ill), lay on the couch and watched the proceedings languidly. Finally, the offending object was off, and I could breathe again. And so could the punkin's finger. The neighbor accepted our sincere gratitude and left the wooden bits with the punkin pirate, who got out his crayons and began tracing them contentedly. I'm not sure I've ever felt such relief.

Except possibly this morning when, after waking up every hour or so to cry pathetically because he was so miserable, Captain Kid was able to sit up and eat some toast for breakfast. I gave him some Tylenol Infant's Drops because it was all the children's medicine we had, and an hour or so later, his fever had disappeared. Hallelujah.

After all that, today was not as hard as I'd thought it would be. Whew.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Forewarned: Not Always Forearmed

Today was going to be hard, I knew it beforehand. After enjoying a couple weeks of "summer schedule" (i.e., sleeping in until the kids wake up at 7-ish, having a leisurely breakfast, and then letting The Man take the car to school around 8), we had to get up early this morning to get everyone ready so that I could have the car to pick up our groceries. This day was going to involve the old 80 miles of driving that was so bothering me during the kids' school year, plus carrying heavy boxes of food (not that I'm complaining, mind you! we have food, at least) all while keeping the kids from getting underfoot in a very real and painful way. No worries. I love my family and have a stubborn endurance that takes me pretty far.

Well, due to some laundry problems, The Man and I didn't get to bed last night until WAY too late. OK, fine, this is going to hurt bit more, but you do what you gotta do. That's what I thought.

Then I woke up with cramps in both legs, in addition to the usual pain. Ugh. Ouch. OK, I'll need help getting up, but maybe if I walk around and have a shower, I can handle it, I thought. No problem.

Then while I was in the shower, young Captain Kid threw up. Oh crud, I thought. The last thing he needs after that is to ride in the car for most of the morning. Poor sweet baby.

My willpower was starting to waver as I put on my shoes while formulating a plan for the possibility (nay, the strong likelihood) of my pirate boy getting sick again on the drive. And how was that going to make the food smell? Well, nevermind.

Then the littlest pirate climbed up on my lap and whimpered. As I stroked his head, I realized: "He's got a fever too!" Oh crud. At this point, it was time to leave, and I was running out of ideas. Oh crud on toast.

That's when my wonderful husband, who didn't take even an hour off classes on 9/11, looked over at my panic-stricken face and down at the two miserable punkins and said: "Looks like I need to stay home today."

Whew. Once again, what would I do without him?

It was a good thing, too. Captain Kid's temperature is now nearly 103, though thankfully he's stopped throwing up. Now he just lies there and shakes and cries. The kids have been up most of the night, off and on, and tomorrow The Man has 10 hours of paying work (plus 2 hours of driving) to do. We do need the money, but... tomorrow's going to be hard, I already know it.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Thursday 13: The Rich and Beautiful Edition

Thirteen of the Best Gifts The Man Has Given Me
  1. A giant pencil for the editor in me
  2. A hollow book for storing my spy stuff
  3. A silk aviator scarf for the diva I am inside
  4. A leather-bound diary for scribbling novel ideas
  5. The first and last seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation for the geek I am
  6. Indiana Jones's hat for my adventurous side
  7. A feather boa for when I'm feeling glamorous
  8. Aztec gold for me even before I was Henry Morgan
  9. Arwen's sword for combating pesky villains
  10. All the roses in Honolulu for his grieving sweetheart
  11. A tiara for the queen he sees me as
  12. My precious pirate boys, Captain Kid and Blackbeard
  13. Nearly 8 years of a truly wonderful marriage

I don't know what I'd do without him, but I know that my life would be considerably less rich and beautiful.

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!