Dec 10, 2012

The Best Part...

You might think the best part of this photo is the kiddo on my back.  Monkeying his way onto my back has long been a favorite pastime of the Littler One, no matter what I'm doing at the time.  Watching TV? Need a monkey.  Loading the dishwasher?  Might need a monkey. Nursing a baby?  Must need a monkey.  Household chores?  Definitely need a monkey. 

You might think the best part is the look of intense concentration as I calmly, smoothly, steadily sweep the floor.  Mostly spruce needles and other Christmas tree debris, but other everyday crumbs and gunk too.

But the BEST part is when you look closely at the top of my head.  Zoom in if you have to (click the pic to see a bigger version).  See it there on the left side?  That would be the twigs and small bits of Christmas tree stuck in my hair, from when I crawled under said tree to water it that morning, that I won't even realize are there until several hours from this point.  I'll find a twig and go "Huh. I wonder how on earth I got a twig [singular] in my hair.  Way to go, Skerrib."  And an hour or two after that I'll find a green spruce needle and several other little bits, which will get me to wondering if I've truly lost my marbles until I remember about the watering the tree from earlier.  I will then comb through my hair thoroughly with my fingers on an intense hunt for any ticks that may have dropped in (and thankfully find none). 

I will then conclude that yes indeed, I have definitely lost my marbles... 

Nov 29, 2012

Freak-Out Thursdays...

The circumstances have varied over the years, but in an oddly-consistent fashion, I have maintained a nearly-weekly Thursday Freak-Out day. When I was teaching, by Thursday I was convinced that I would never catch up on grading papers, and all my kids were never going to get this math-stuff, and even the smartest ones would be forced to pursue nontechnical careers (not that there's anything wrong with that). In grad school it was my own homework that would never get finished in time, and while I could do differential equations like a crazy (nerdy) person, I probably wasn't actually cut out to be a real engineer. Then later at work (at my actual engineering job), I would not be able to figure out the test I was running, or the paper I was writing, or whatnot. And they were almost certainly preparing to fire me.

These days I am certain that early childhood is going to kill me. Afternoon kindergarten might do it singlehandedly, but if it doesn't succeed then there are myriad other small (non) catastrophes that will finish me off, and then the clutter monster will bury me at the base of Mount Laundry. Which in general will save expenses, so I guess there are bright spots in there.

These days I have the benefit of perspective, so I'm better at catching myself before I implode entirely. First off, I discovered during student teaching that treating myself to a little Jamba Juice (they trucked them in to the cafeteria--it was awesome) took the edge off just enough to get me thru to Friday, where I relaxed and wore jeans and magically checked 225 things off my to-do list, and all was reasonably well again.

And similarly the treat has varied over the years--these days it's a Coke--but if I find myself amid a classic freak-out Thursday, I try to work in a little treat and breathe deeply

Now, I really don't think there's anything magic about Coke or Jamba Juice, and I'm totally not advocating addiction or numbing as a way of coping with our problems. Easy to do; but not healthy. I do think, though, that what happens is I change things up just a little, and slow for a moment (even just in my mind), and talk to God a little bit, and it reminds me that Thursday is just a day, and it too shall pass, and hey maybe in the meantime I can just grade this one stack of papers, or work on this one problem, or look up that one specification, or mail the package so Baby Roots can wear her spiffy pink Chucks before she grows out of them.

Do you have Freak-Out Thursdays? Or an equivalent? How do you talk yourself down?

Nov 20, 2012

Imaginative Play With His Highness...

Me:  So what didja build with your Duplos?

His Highness:  A graveyard without the headstones.

Me: Oh, just grass?

HH:  No it's an underwater graveyard.

Me: Oh, an underwater graveyard. OK.

HH:  Yeah, when people die they don't bury them in the sand; they just leave them there and wait for sharks to come and eat them.

Me:  Well that's efficient.

HH:  Yeah...

Nov 18, 2012

It's Like Drinking an Avalanche From a Firehose...

...with a haboob thrown in for good measure.  And maybe a 10K. But not a real one, because I'm not up to 6 miles at a time yet in my running.

This is how my life feels over the past month.  Some snippets--

--My doc gave me antibiotics for my (probably? maybe? possibly?) Lyme Disease.  I took them for a month, and then they were done, and I got very nervous about what would happen next. All my blood work was negative, which sounds good, but with Lyme you just can never be sure with the bloodwork, so I took it with a grain of salt. At my recheck the doc reassured me, saying "You did a month of meds within 6 months of the initial tick bite. You're feeling better.  If anything changes or you get another tick bite, let me know, but for now we assume you're done."  And then over the following days when I got a weird itch or scared thought I repeated that to myself--"You're done, Skerrib."  And I kept up with my jogging, and chasing after my kids, and complaining about the other hard things in my life (most of which aren't that hard, but it does me good to be honest about my feelings in a healthy way, as opposed to stuffing and exploding, which makes no one happy)...and now it is several weeks later and I do believe I'm done.  Still neurotic about tick checks, but feeling good overall and not at all "punky" like I did pre-meds. 

--And then, wouldn't you know it, the Littler One got a tick bite.  I had the high privilege and abject horror of finding the tick and trying to remove it.  It came off in pieces, but I placed them on a cotton ball inside a baggie, and off it traveled with us the next day to see the doc.  She gave the Littler One a once-over and tested the tick, which came up negative for all things dangerous and/or gross.  And negative tick tests are more reliable than negative blood tests, so we are relieved and happy all around, and grateful to know to save the dang tick whenever you can, people.

--My dad's mom died about a month ago now.  She had had Alzheimer's Disease for some time, and things had been very difficult for a year or two, as the family had been dealing with finding the right care facility for her, among other things.  That's all to say it's a big relief now to know she is healed and whole again, and as my uncle put it, reunited with my grandpa after almost 20 years apart.  Tiny E and I traveled to Idaho for the memorial a couple weeks ago and had one of those experiences where you reconnect with family you never get to see, and have such a great time, except for wishing you weren't there for a funeral.  Tiny E and I stayed with my cousin and her family, along with Thomasina, and we had a great time doing mostly ordinary errands and home things.  Thomasina taught us how to make crepes, and my cousin has piles of frozen and canned goods from her garden that she grows herself, so we were all well-fed the entire time.  Plus I was incredibly popular because I had a baby with me, which was actually the case the last time we were in Idaho 3 years ago.  I told one of my aunts that showing up every few years with a baby was a habit I did not intend to maintain (but it was really fun to pass her around and see my family delight in my daughter as much as I do).

--Tiny E managed to roll off the bed in the middle of the night, and acted sore but OK until her shoulder swelled up while we were in ID, so we spent one morning at urgent care getting her x-rayed and determining that she broke her collarbone.  She was sore and favoring her 'bad' side, but everything was otherwise in good position and there was nothing to be done except let it heal.  At her re-check once we got home the doc said everything was looking good, and officially we should wait 4 weeks before manhandling her, but that really she was probably just fine already. So I'm still waiting before I start yanking her arms again, and both the Cat Daddy and I are extra watchful about the bed.

--After a really long and drawn-out process, I decided that I needed to surrender Max and Zoe to our local animal shelter, who can help them find new homes.  There were about 10,000 factors leading to this decision, and even now I get trapped thinking "What if I did such-and-such?" but all things considered it was the best decision for them as well as us.  I'm scatterbrained sometimes, and not always organized, but I've always cared deeply for our animals, and there's always been room in our home for all furry and non-furry family members, and I'm definitely not in the habit of getting rid of creatures, so it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.  I cried when I realized it had to be done. I cried in the days leading up to it.  I cried as I dropped them off.  I felt better after talking with the animal shelter staff and filling out the paperwork, and driving away dog-free until life circumstances allow otherwise.  And then I spent the week sadder than I thought I'd be, and overwhelmed still, and really there's no better word than to say I've been grieving.  I'm messy and my perspective is skewed. I've called in some support along the way, which has really helped (thank you Roots). Then today at church I began to feel a little more oriented, so I think I'm working thru it alright. 

--And by the way we've settled on a local church.  It's tiny (to us--under 100 people) and new (only a year old), but thus far the overall feel and personality fits us well.  We've strongarmed our way into the music crowd, and are excited to get involved there.  The Cat Daddy played bass in the service today, so we are off & running.  I would say more, but I still feel very new and don't really have the words yet.  Although today I sent E to the nursery and made it through my first complete sermon in many months, so there's that.

--I got selected to be on a book launch team for Rachel Held Evans's new book, and promptly got bowled over by all of the above, so while I technically fulfilled the requirements of being on the team, I haven't yet done the book report and responses I wanted to post here.  I'm still really hoping to do those soon; maybe even before Christmastime so I can convince you all to give the book a read, because I did like it and I think many people would find it interesting, particularly if you like memoirs, women, Jesus, and/or think God thinks we're funny and maybe even laughs at us sometimes.  Lovingly, of course.

--The Most Interesting Cat in the World has been at it again, and there will be more stories coming, honest. In the meantime he has managed to get himself put on a curfew during school hours, because kitties are not allowed inside the school, and because the staff didn't want spray bottles to help dissuade him from entering the building, even though I offered to provide them. As if they were already busy enough teaching kids and running a school (!). The upside (?) is that the principal knows me now.  I have to say out of all the potential scenarios I had in my head going into this school year, getting a call from the principal about my cat was not included.  But I guess overall it's preferable to most problems.

And hey, at least I don't have tuberculosis...

Oct 30, 2012

Mr Nipples Goes to the Vet...

In the previous post I mentioned how we had put a fresh collar and tag on Nipples after his three-day jaunt.  It's not that we didn't keep a collar on him before; it's just that he had gone thru an entire arsenal of collars and tags, and the spare one I had for him had been sent with the movers, and on the day we moved into our house, we had neither gotten our stuff from the movers nor plunked down the money for a new collar and tag.  And come to think of it, had he lost his then-current collar and tag in the move, or had we for some reason decided that it would be not-risky-at-all to move him across the friggin' country without his identification information?  Because good grief, that was a dumb idea.

I digress...

Here's the thing: they make breakaway collars for cats for safety reasons.  I totally get that, and as one with a cat who spends most of his time outdoors, I'm all for safety mechanisms to prevent him from getting hung up on bushes and branches and such.  The thing is, I've also watched him deftly slip his little hind paw underneath the collar and snap it right off.  The next consideration, then, is a teeny dog collar (because you can't get non-breakaway ones for cats), which if you think about all the stray bushes and branches, is a potentially-massive safety hazard.  And if you believe all the marketing and advertisements for pet safety equipment, can really induce guilt in a nervous-type like myself. 

So for the time being, we put the new breakaway collar and tag on the cat.  And, true to form, within several weeks that collar disappeared as well.  I sighed and thought about the spare collar in the drawer, which I fully intended to put on him just as soon as I remembered it when he was actually in the house, blah blah blah...when suddenly he went missing again.

This time it wasn't quite so dramatic.  While walking the dogs one morning, he didn't come up meowing behind us as he normally does, and I thought about how I hadn't seen him since the day before.  So I filed it in the back of my mind for the time being and went about the day. But as is common when I haven't seen the cat in a while, I kept checking outside for him everytime I walked by a window, and thought about setting a deadline for myself to start posting on our neighborhood forums to see if anyone had seen him lately.

It was either that same day or the next that I got a call from my friend Fazzi, whom you may remember used to own Nipples, and she was letting me know that he was at the vet's office just down the road from us.  It turned out that a well-meaning neighbor from a half-mile or so away had found him and become concerned that he was lost. Since he didn't have any ID they couldn't call us to check up on him, so they took him to the vet, who read his microchip and called Fazzi, whose info was still on the microchip.  Then Fazzi called us with the vet info so that we could go spring him loose.  And despite my sometimes-curmudgeonly attitude about technology and such, this is why microchips, Facebook, and cell phones are good.

Well, after some finagling, and promising the vet that Nipples was current on all his things, and wrestling him into his much-maligned carrier, we brought him home again.  We had the talk with the vet's office about his collar and they recommended putting a dab of superglue on the breakaway mechanism. And we thought hey, that's worth a shot, but we only had Elmer's glue so it had to do the job.  Except Elmer's glue is definitely not superglue, so it worked for like three days before Nipples came sauntering home, collarless, and looking rather pleased that he had caused us to go through our entire collar supply yet again. 

The Cat Daddy then offered some perspective on the matter.  He pointed out that Pim had a non-breakaway collar for the entire time we had him, and was outside and in trees and woods, and never had a problem with getting hung up (wild animals eating him, yes; branches, no).  He pointed out that, despite the terrible thought of getting hung up on shrubberies and tree branches, we had never actually heard or read about such a thing actually happening to a cat, or whether breakaway collars were invented because of a true threat or because someone thought "Hey what if this happens," and then made collars to break on purpose and pocketed millions of dollars from people's fears (If you have read or know about a cat dying because its collar got hung up on a branch PLEASE DO NOT TELL ME because I'd rather not be informed in this case).  He reiterated that the breakaway collars were just not cutting the mustard in our case. He was right.

And when all was said and done the following things were true:

1) Nipples became the proud wearer of a 10" non-breakaway dog collar, which he has yet to lose or wriggle out of, and doesn't have a bell, which I think makes him happy. I used to cut the bells off his cat collars, so the dog collar even saved us a step.

2) We updated our info with the microchip company so if and when someone mistakes him for a lost cat and takes him to the vet they will be able to call us directly.

We sure learned a lot from Nipples' trip to the vet.  For his part, Nipples cussed us out a little and ate a second helping of dinner that night.  But as always, we were glad to have him home...

Oct 11, 2012

Mr Nipples Goes to Washington...


Look at how sweet he is.  Under his seemingly unassuming exterior lies a big case of bada$$ery.  He is the most interesting cat in the world (click here for the backstory to the backstory).

Our move has gone quite well by most any standard.  Other than the normal trauma of uprooting, relocating, and resettling, we have very little to complain about.  Situated several miles outside the beltway of DC, our little town is fairly new in the grand scheme of things, and is entirely suburban, green, and quiet.  Our little neighborhood within the town is into all things "natural," which in modern suburban terms means that we have nicely-groomed bits of nature scattered along our paved walkways (which I used to mock, but now that I'm better acquainted with Lyme Disease, I'm kind of in favor of paving paradise to put up a parking lot between me & the ticks), a nature center with small animals inside (including a corn snake) and fountained, algae-filled pond out front, clearly labeled with a "DO NOT TOUCH OR CONSUME THIS WATER" sign, and to their credit they did leave a good amount of woodlands in place when building in the area.  That, or they put in the woodlands when they were turning farms into subdivisions around 10 years ago.  Or some combination of both; I'm not really clear on the history of Ashburn yet. Anyway, on top of all that LOTS of the people are runners here.  Half of me fits in perfectly. The other half good-naturedly mocks our semi-green, natural-esque ways. 

My cat, however, has found his utopia with this move.

His first impression of Virginia was not good at all.  We stayed in an extended-stay hotel for our first several weeks here, where Nipples was kept inside and spent his days sullenly plotting his next escape attempt.  He destroyed one carrier, broke out of another one, and very-nearly forced us to buy a crate on the order of padlocked steel bars before we figured out how to keep him in his brand-new hard-sided carrier.  I became the cat-catcher, hunting him down and carrying him back to our room for the majority of the times he succeeded in leaving our room, and found myself preparing my story before going out in public--"No sir, it really was my cat who gave me these marks."

Eventually we arrived in our house and unwisely succumbed to cat-parent-guilt, letting him out the first day.  He promptly disappeared for three days, and we grew worried that he had:

a)  Ditched us to head back to Wyoming
b)  Met an untimely demise, similar to his predecessor
c)  Wandered too far too soon and gotten disoriented

So I called the local animal shelter and posted on our HOA forums.  Within a day we had a call that Nipples was in fact just a few streets over. Our neighborhood is arranged with great walking paths and greenways between the streets (perfect for wandering kitties and people), but not knowing how close he actually was, the Cat Daddy drove the long way to the area where he'd been sighted and found him sauntering down the sidewalk.  When called, Nipples walked right over for hello-pats and followed the Cat Daddy back to the car.  Upon entering the house he descended upon his food dish, devouring two helpings of kitty food and growling softly to make sure we didn't take it away.  We put a fresh collar on him with our new address, and all was well with the world. 

After that he was a little more tentative in his wanderings and did a much better job of orienting himself to his surroundings and finding his way back home to check in as he gradually increased his wandering radius.  He also realized that he had adoring neighbors, as well as ample small wildlife to hunt, right nearby. 

And that's when he decided to take the world--or at least our neighborhood--by storm... 

Oct 2, 2012

In This Moment...

I feel like right now, in this moment, is the tricky part of moving.  The hardest work is over. We are reasonably settled in the house.  If you walked in you'd think "Gosh, not much on your walls, Skerrib" but overall it looks & feels lived-in.  His Highness is well-settled into school, learning and enjoying himself for the most part, except for the complaint that school is boring.  I would expect no less from a five-year-old boy.  We are meeting people, and I think I'm doing a particularly good job of reaching out socially, talking with people I meet, and even spontaneously walking over to hang out with the neighbors in their driveway (heavens!!).  We've visited five churches, and while nothing has offended us terribly, neither has anything jumped out and said, "This is your new church home."  It rarely does though, so that's OK.

The tricky part of moving, to me, is the element of time.  We are doing healthy and good things to get established, but we can't manufacture that home-y feeling.  I haven't lost my humors, which is huge, but I'm a little down at not knowing many people.  Still, to me that's not something to be forced.

To me this is the nuts & bolts that make up life.  I'm a little down now because it's still the beginning.  I miss sitting with my next-door neighbor while our kids destroy the place.  I miss walking with Roots through her Maynard neighborhood, and running across the street to my friend's house in Lompoc (though they are in Hawaii now, which if I were dropping in over there would be awesome). I miss our busy Phoenix neighborhood, running the bridle paths at 5:30 am, waving to neighbors out walking along the way.  My frame of reference is all the places I've lived before; the memories of social structure I had in those places, and the remaining pieces I still have with me in the form of friends and acquaintances (hello, Facebook. I'm glad you're here).

So I take small, daily, healthy steps. I will keep chatting with the other moms at kindergarten drop-off. We will help our friends move this weekend. I will get back onto a good exercise plan, now that my (maybe) Lyme is being treated. And by God, I am determined that I will succeed in leaving the children home with Daddy and have two hours by myself one day.  We may visit another church this week, or go back to the one whose regular pastor was on vacation when we were there. Or we might skip and take a day trip 'cuz of Columbus Day weekend (as the Cat Daddy said "Thank God he discovered some islands in the Caribbean"). A play date next week, and so on beyond that. 

Eventually these little things will add up to deeper connections. We won't necessarily notice it in the moment, but we will begin to find our favorite places and people.  We will begin to belong.  It has happened every time.  I have found God and friends in every place; I just have to remember that in this moment...

Sep 30, 2012

The Lyme Second Opinion...

So I got a second opinion on my potential Lyme Disease this past week. I visited a family practice that is also known for being Lyme Literate. Which is important when you think you could have Lyme Disease. I was cautiously optimistic going in, but still a little panicky under the surface (I think feeling unheard does that to a person).  And then the Nurse Practitioner walked in, and was way more cheerful than I usually am, which would normally make me suspicious but in this case it set me at ease, and I layed out the gist of my story of the past month or so, and she layed out the following for me. I'm not sure of her exact words, but here is my paraphrase:

"We treat aggressively for Lyme here. We believe you.  We are going to test and treat you, and then we are going to monitor you to see if you need more treatment, and we will keep watching you so we know you are better. And you are going to get better. Plus, you are smart, pretty, trustworthy, and a good mom & wife."

Fine, I threw that last sentence in myself. But that's what reassurance feels like. 

So here's the rundown...

I had a confirmed tick bite plus flu-like symptoms.  They were mild but they were persistent, they improved with the short run of antibiotics, and then they returned after I went off the meds.  So even though I had no bullseye rash, I still have good indications for the longer run of antibiotics.  The docs took my blood to test for all the major tick-borne illnesses, and put me on antibiotics for 30 days (Amoxicillin instead of Doxycycline because I'm nursing), as well as a yogurt regimen.  After that time they'll test me again and watch me for further/returning symptoms.  And so on for several months.  It's kind of a pain, but I am very, very fortunate that I had a definite date of the tick bite, and that even though I didn't know about things such as saving the tick and getting a single dose of meds within 2 days, I knew enough to watch myself for symptoms and to address them quickly. Plus, over the past several weeks I've heard from several people I already knew, who continue to deal with Lyme Disease. Their experiences gave me good questions to ask, so I could be more confident about the answers I got.  So thank you, people in my life who told me your stories.  You helped me immensely and I appreciate it.

The nurse practitioner said oftentimes they get people who have been sick for several years, and by that point it is a much longer road to healing, and they get into the more permanent, chronic, and/or disabling effects.  It's nasty, scary stuff, the Lyme Disease.

Therefore in the spirit of awareness and prevention, here are some sites for more information about Lyme Disease and tick-borne illness.  Remember, speed counts.  Don't adopt a laid-back approach of "wait & see," even if that is your normal style, like it is for me.  And if at all possible, get to a doc who has lots of experience dealing with Lyme and tick-borne illnesses.  There is conflicting and sometimes-controversial information out there. It can even get politicky at times, but the bottom line is this:  if you are aggressive early on, the chances of full recovery without lingering/chronic effects are excellent.




My doc doesn't know it yet, but I'm adopting her.  As my regular doc; not, like, into my family or anything. That would be creepy.

But maybe we could be BFFs or something...

Sep 25, 2012

The Lyme Saga...

The (stupidly indecisive) bottom line is that I may or may not have Lyme Disease.  Up until recently I was rationally and reasonably leaning toward "may not," but now I'm leaning toward "may."  Or rather, I'm leaning toward "may have some sort of tick borne illness."  One thing (among many) that stinks about Lyme Disease is that it can be really hard to say for sure whether you do or don't have it, or if you have had it, whether or not you are cured.  So I'm walking around going "I might have Lyme Disease," the Cat Daddy's going "You don't have Lyme Disease!" and as far as my doctor's concerned the jury is still out.

I'm actually kind of mad about it right now, because as time goes on and I'm not really getting worse, but definitely not getting better, it's hard to know what to believe or trust.  I tried detailing a timeline for your perusal and general enjoyment, but it made me want to poke out my eyeballs, and if I wanted to poke out my own eyeballs, there's no way you'd have wanted to sit through reading it.  Here's the short version:  based on all the reading I've done on the internet (allowing for extremes on both ends of the Lyme debate and trying to weave together a healthy balance of conservative Western medicine and alternative-medicine theories as well), I seem to be a good candidate for some antibiotics, particularly as time is going on and my vague and mild, yet persistent, symptoms are not going away.  I've been to two docs, had two negative blood tests (no surprise there--even people who do have Lyme disease often come up negative on the blood tests), been declared otherwise healthy as a horse, and still don't feel well.  My new doc here did a short run of antibiotics, which seemed to help while I was on them, but after stopping them I started feeling sick again.

I really, really want to trust in my doc's assessment, but now I'm to the point where she is still saying "wait & see, it might be a virus or sinus infection" and I'm all, "No really, I'm not getting better, and this is too long to feel sick, even if I'm not lying flat on the couch all the time, because I'd really rather it not get to that point." And she is kind and professional, but firm about waiting longer. 

When it gets to this point I start to feel nervous and unheard.  It happened 10 years ago, when I was still searching for the cause of what I now know is my stubborn sacrum (SI joint dysfunction).  Several doctors in succession said "No you're fine, here's some tylenol," but I knew (KNEW) in my gut that something wasn't right, and that continuing to wait, at best, would not be helpful.  In the end I was right, and eventually I found the right doc who found the problem, and while I deal with my stubborn sacrum to this day, it's not the big mysterious problem it was before I knew what it was.

Now, I don't want to be "that patient" who runs around to different doctors until she finds one who will tell her what she wants to hear...but I have yet to be convinced that I'm being heard, so there's that tricky balance of respecting the docs, being that they do have all that education and experience and so on, and being willing to self-advocate (even if it means being seen as a pain in the tookus) when I know that something is not quite right.

So I'm thinking it's time for a second opinion.  And here's where medicine, relationships, and my nervous-issues all collide without making any sense--a lady I hardly know sent me a list of docs in the area who deal with Lyme (because I went ahead and asked for info even though I get nervous about revealing too much to new people who don't know me well), and one of the docs on there takes my insurance (which many, many "Lyme Literate" docs don't), and can get me in for an appointment. Tomorrow. 

And while a big part of me is fairly nervous about hearing the same thing I've been getting for the past several weeks...a small but fierce part of me is very hopeful indeed.  I figure if I'm seeing a doc with lots of experience with Lyme, just maybe I'll be able to hear them out and trust what they tell me, even if it isn't what I'm hoping to hear.  So I cried tiny tears of relief after I made the appointment.  I took control where I could, and I have hope that I will be heard. 

And now you are, for all intents & purposes, up to speed on my own personal Lyme saga.  So if I joke about it from here on out, you'll know where on earth I got that idea. 

And don't give me any guff!  After all, I might have Lyme Disease...

Sep 1, 2012

The Upside...

The upside to all this upheaval is finding little gifts in the newness.  I wonder if because I'm in everything-is-new mode, that I more naturally try new things.  Either that, or I'm hitting that point where I'm delving into the things I'd put off "until the move."  In the past two weeks I've tried no fewer than three new recipes (WAY more than I normally brave), done a bunch of research on doctors, churches, and child care (out of necessity), and even snuck in some new music via a friend.

You should click here and give it a listen.  The whole song is nice, but see if you like the instrumental in the final minute as much as I did...

Aug 31, 2012

Serenity Now. Maybe...

I just want you all to know that I don't blog nearly as often as I would like.  Part of me wants to apologize "HI! Sorry I haven't written in forever..." but I tend to get annoyed when folks do that.  People run blogs; blogs don't run people, so if they haven't written in forever what's it to everyone else (unless they get paid, in which case they need to get their butts to the computer and write, already)?? And beyond that, when reading other blogs I tend to skim past the apology anyway, cuz I want to get down to whatever the person is writing about.

So now that I've spent an entire paragraph not-apologizing, and also not writing about what I intended to say, I can get down to business and give an update on how moving to a new place blends in with one's neuroses.  And really it boils down to just a few things--

--Change is hard for me.  And I keep having to do it. I talk to people every so often who love (or think they would love) moving around every few years.  They love the adventure of new places and people.  They start to get restless after too long in one place.  And they certainly have a point.  I look back over 5 military moves and get all stuck in wonderment about how much I have enjoyed each of our places.  I am compiling a massive list of wonderful acquaintances, and my smaller list of deep, likely lifelong friends contains people from all corners.  Once I get settled it is a wonderful thing.  The settling is hard though.  I grieve the old and get impatient as I fret my way through the new, worrying that this or that may not materialize and I'll be stuck with a void in some significant (to me) area for this round of life.  I am getting better at not panicking, but I stubbornly (and rightfully, I believe) refuse to pretend that it isn't hard anymore.  For some folks it really isn't as difficult, and that's OK.  For me it is, and that's OK to admit.

--Control is a tricky thing.  I'm a big fan of the Serenity Prayer: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference..."  So much of growing in God's grace involves relinquishing control of things I've desperately tried to hold onto in this life.  I need and desire healthy relationships, but trying to get them through control is counterproductive.  So I have to let God and a trusted few teach me how to be a friend.  I need and desire my social structure and support system, but it keeps changing every few years, and to try to keep things exactly the same, when all other parts of my life are changing significantly, is futile.  So I have to trust that God cares deeply for me, and knows my particular, quirky needs, and will meet them every time.  Even if it looks different than before. But at the same time, there are steps I can take; freedoms God gives me to let my preference be known and to free my heart from random stupid things that weigh it down. 

Case in point: I have been growing more frustrated with my military medical experience in recent years.  At our first two duty stations I was fortunate--I felt comfortable with and trusted my doctors.  Since then, not so much.  It may have more to do with the system than with the doctors themselves.  Or it may be that there are more than a few less-than-desirable docs out there and I'd just been really lucky not to encounter them until my 30's.  Who knows. I'd been flirting with Tricare's Standard option, where you get to pick your doctors and don't have to mess with referrals.  They try to discourage you from doing the Standard option because you have to pay part of your costs out of pocket, and don't get priority at military treatment facilities, and then you're locked out of the "Prime" option for a year.  Which, considering my experiences in recent years, provide less & less incentive to stick with Prime. Well, to make a long story short, our circumstances here led me to petitioning for some exceptions to policy, and those petitions being denied (or "disapproved," as they so judgmentally put it), leaving me with the option to drive over 30 minutes every time I or the kiddos need to see a doctor, or to switch to Standard and having the freedom to choose our own docs closer to home.  So I chose the latter. I don't think Tricare really cares what I do as long as I pay my bills and stay within the regs--accept the things I cannot change--but to me it felt like a big victory, to take action on this issue that had actually been bugging me for some time.  To have the courage to change something I could. 

--I really do have a lot happening at once.  So I've been very deliberately remaining in the moment, concentrating on what I need to get thru that hour, or day, or week.  And slowly, I am checking things off my list.  I've been working on weeding through our stuff because it makes me crazy and I really do want to get rid of most of it.  Except I have a family who like to wear clothes, and sleep in beds, so there are negotiations to be had as to what stays and what goes.  And THEN in my mailbox yesterday, a flyer letting me know that so-and-so organization will be in my neighborhood in a week or so, and would I like to donate clothing and household items.  And a weight was lifted--there is a place for my stuff to go!  All I have to do is get it out to my curb on such-and-such date!

And just these little victories did so much for my morale.  Even though the Cat Daddy was out of town for a few days, and the Littler One spilled printer ink on the white-ish carpet, and I may not get to start P90X until my baby sleeps for longer spurts in the evenings.  Taking control where I could made it a little easier to endure the things I have little control over.  Not in a "Great, I'm fixed now!" way; more of an "OK, I can live with that. Bring on the carpet cleaner. Again." sort of deal. 

I found an index card where I had written two verses.  I don't know when, but it must have been ages ago, because they were written in fancy colored gel pen ink, so I'm thinking maybe 10 years ago or more because that's when I last had fancy colored gel pens (and a little notebook of black paper. Cuz I'm hip that way).  And I don't know why I wrote them, or what the objective was that day, but they are as true of me now as ever.  The first verse is from Psalms (I think); it says something like "Search me and know my anxious thoughts." And the second verse is from Job and talks about how no plans of God's can be thwarted.  So now that card is on my fridge. And between eating and cooking and cleaning and taking care of dogs (who are penned there until they stop peeing on the carpet!), I spend a lot of time in my kitchen, so I glance at that card a lot.  And then God gets several reminders per day that I'm a nervous type, and then I get several reminders per day that He remembers that, and even my nerves can't thwart Him 'cuz he is BIG.

All to say that things are moving along.  And I have many varied and brilliant posts in my head.  You could read them if you were psychic.  Too bad...

Jul 28, 2012

Coming Up to Speed...

-The movers were with us the week of July 4, packing and loading all our stuff. On July 6 the big truck pulled away, carrying most of our worldly possessions. At 2 pm on July 9 we left Cheyenne. We made our way across the country, arriving in Herndon Virginia on July 13.

-Grandma & Grandpa (my parents) flew in from Phoenix and were waiting to meet us when we arrived. They like the Cat Daddy & me, but they REALLY like the boys, and they REALLY helped us by taking care of them while we looked for houses.

-We looked at several rental houses in the greater-suburban-DC area (I think the locals call it Northern Virginia, or NOVA), and settled upon a lovely place in lovely Ashburn. It is quite an area--very affluent, very pretty, and currently very hot & muggy--but that's another post. More importantly we will be five minutes away from friends of ours, which we are pretty dang excited about.

-But the lease doesn't take effect until August 1. Grandpa & Grandma were with us just over a week at the extended-stay hotel, and then thankfully we were able to extend our reservation until we move in.

-The extended stay place is pretty nice. We have two bedrooms, a little living room, and most of a kitchen. They say it's a full kitchen, but there's no oven so I'm inclined to disagree on that count. Still, other than the oven thing, it's pretty well-equipped so we can eat in a fair amount of the time. Plus, the hotel provides breakfast every day and dinner three nights per week, and they even have fruits & vegetables so we don't get scurvy, or rickets, or something. I feel good about that.

-The hotel takes pets, but charges a pet fee for each one, which gets expensive quickly. Our friends in Ashburn have gone above & beyond in dog sitting for us. Max and Zoe have good hearts, but are not the best behaved dogs ever, and our friends have taken the neediness, neuroses, and doggie-pee in stride for over two weeks now. Did I mention how grateful we are? Cuz we are.

-Nipples has been with us, but is not having the best time ever. We have kept him inside so as not to induce confusion about where "home" is. Honestly he'd probably do just fine since he is as sharp as he is fierce. We are being extra-cautious though, so inside he is, until after we get to the new house.

-As a result, he has adopted a life's mission of escaping at all costs. Thru trial and error, and a series of angry-kitty rescues, we devised a system for keeping him contained as we come and go from our little suite, so he just has to be in his carrier when housekeeping comes. He then destroyed the clasp on his original carrier, busted through the zipper on Zoe's soft-sided carrier, and even managed to break out of his brand-new hard-sided carrier before we found two clips we hadn't fastened properly. Now he is safely contained.

-The kids are doing well overall. Hotel pools are brilliant.

-The Cat Daddy has had some time off, due to waiting for security paperwork. Incredibly helpful. The Littler One had what we're pretty sure was Hand Foot & Mouth disease, and I had a random fever/sore throat/headache for a day or two. I made the Cat Daddy check my scalp for a bullseye rash to (sort of) rule out Lyme Disease, and he was all "You should never shave your head," and I was all "Thanks for that, but is there a rash?" And there wasn't, so I felt better about probably not having Lyme disease. It is worth noting that I most likely didn't even have a tick bite, but the whole story is long & boring, so let's assume that with my neuroses it was worth checking. And I recovered quickly anyway, so we're good now.

-I'm more & more "anti-stuff" lately, or more accurately "selective stuff." I packed lightly but wisely for our stint in extended-stay and while there are a few things I learned for the next time, overall I'm very pleased and most importantly don't feel overrun by stuff. That said, I am looking forward to getting into what will be our own space for the next two years, with our own stuff. Even if I want to get rid of half of it.

-Speaking of which, our stuff will arrive on August 6, exactly one month after it left on the big truck. The movers will unpack us over the 6th & 7th, during which time Mrs Z and her crew will be with us for practical help and overall moral support, so I am hopeful I will not implode from the pressure of figuring out where everything goes RIGHT NOW (we've never had them unpack us completely before, so it is a new endeavor for me).

-This is the most time I've gotten to spend on a blog post in a while, and I can only assume that I've just jinxed myself and bedlam & mutiny are about to ensue, so I'd better quit while I'm up to speed.

Stay classy, Ashburn...

Jun 30, 2012

Case In Point...

This week alone I have started about five new blog posts, but haven't been able to finish them, mostly because it's hard to get a complete thought in edgewise.

Jun 18, 2012

Yes, We Are A Dedicated Family...

His Highness was dedicated (similar to, but not exactly the same as, a baptism or christening) when he was about 7 months old.  Our church was having a lake day at a YMCA camp, and there were a bunch of baptisms, so to throw in a baby-dedication while we were all dressed in swimsuits and casual clothes was right up our alley.  We were proud first-time parents, and all was calm and awesome as we passed His Highness from person to person and joyfully dedicated him and our family to God.

After the Littler One was born I would occasionally think about having him dedicated, usually during the dedications of other babies in our church. I'd mention it to the Cat Daddy, and he'd say something like, "Whenever you want," or some such code for "I'm fine with this, but please don't put me in charge of making it happen."  So then Tiny E (yes, this is the one; the Cat Daddy decreed it) was born and I thought, enough is enough, these un-dedicated kids are piling up here.  And it's not that I thought anything bad would happen if we never did it, or anything like that.  It's just something I wanted to do, and I have really loved our church here, so I thought it was fitting to have them dedicated here.  And so this Sunday we did what our church calls a Parent/Child Dedication for both the Littler One and Tiny E. 

It was a nice day for it, too. Sunny and warm, and neither the Cat Daddy nor I was on the music team for the morning, so we got to get ready for church as a family, and go to church as a family, and so on.  Which, of course, meant that while getting ready for church as a family, there would be full-scale mutiny on the brushing of teeth and combing of hair, and a full-scale tantrum on the part of the Littler One, and just a tough morning all around as a family. Also, I forgot the camera.

But we made it to church in time, with the boys dressed matchy-matchy, no less, and with Tiny E in a cute little tiny dress (I also forgot her headband/bow combo).  Thankfully in this age of technology I was able to beg a friend to take pictures with my phone, and while the Otter Box hampers the photo quality, I'm still glad he could capture the occasion, because I thought he captured it well...

Here are the first moments. Pastor R is saying something witty (and likely random). Our boys are dressed alike, and I am groomed and wearing a skirt (which by this point has been spit up on twice).  We are quality individuals. 

Pastor R. is telling about the whys, wherefores, and so on of Parent/Child Dedication. His Highness is incredibly bored from having to stand in one place for more than ten seconds.  I am whispering to the Littler One, "No boobies." He is not listening.

Pastor R. is going thru the statements and such, where the congregation is promising to stand with our family, pray for us (yes please), and so on.  His Highness has slithered down the steps, head-first, on his back.  Tiny E is chillin' like a villain, and the Littler One says he wants Daddy to hold him.

Pastor R. is going thru the statements where we as parents are committing to live by and pass on our faith, and those types of things.  His Highness is (sort of) back for the moment. The Cat Daddy and I have traded children.  The Littler One is now saying he wants Mommy to hold him.  Tiny E is calmly, steadily, warmly filling her diaper, and I'm silently hoping everything stays contained. We answer "By God's grace, we do," and dear God we mean it.

I think Pastor R. has started praying.  His Highness, of course, has begun rolling around on the stage.

Pastor R. holds Tiny E while he prays for her. I'm not really strangling His Highness, just preventing him from escalating to noisy antics.  The Littler One is feeling shy and therefore taking refuge behind my butt.

Amen!  Pastor R. hands the baby back, and he is unscathed.  I am glad I've been in attendance for other babies' dedications, because otherwise I'd have no idea what I just committed to.  His Highness prances around, amusing himself extensively.  The Littler One is still safe behind my butt.  Now that it's time to sit down it takes, like, 17 hours to get the boys off the stage.  We are awesome.

Thankfully, our church is made up of the types of folks who don't bat an eye at such childish antics.  I mean, they are children after all, and moreso they are my children, so they are bound to get a little goofy every so often (or all the time), particularly when you stick them in front of people.  And being among people who understand and sometimes even celebrate us for this trait is precisely why I love this place so much. 

After church I thanked Pastor R profusely, and told him how close he came to needing a fresh shirt, or at least a good arm-scrubbing, and we were both thankful that things turned out as well as they did, all things considered.

And I felt very dedicated, indeed...

Jun 10, 2012

Homebirth-A-Go-Go 2012--Part V...

Part I     Part II     Part III     Part IV

So the biggest moment had past.  The baby was here, and all was well, but there was still significant business to attend to before the big thing all of us were looking forward to (sleep).

Being the one who had just given birth--in my dining area--I had the privilege of more or less hanging out and holding a baby while the others bustled around me.  In this moment I did have a fleeting thought of "why didn't I give birth in the bed?" but it's one of those retrospect things.  I couldn't ask for a re-do, and it seems that everything worked out OK anyway so again, it was what it was.  I was reclined fairly comfortably against some pillows, and was covered with warm towels from the dryer, and was generally cozy amid the bustling.

Before too long I delivered the placenta, and it was in good shape; always a good thing. Now, placentas have never been my favorite thing.  When I have paid attention I have found them somewhat fascinating; I mean, they really have a big job there in the womb, getting nutrients and stuff to the baby. But I've always been content to trust the docs'/midwives' assessment and get on with things.  Carol later said she and Marte felt it was a beautiful placenta, and this is an area where I chose to trust them, and say "thank you" and be honored that I had a beautiful placenta. 

Carol sat (or maybe knelt?), observing, and probably poking at my belly, and at one point said, "You're about to earn yourself a shot of pitocin," (to make my uterus contract and help slow down bleeding) to which I replied "I will think non-bleeding thoughts," and in the end I didn't need a shot of pitocin.  Whether it was just fortunate timing, or my thoughts actually did affect things we can never know for sure, but I am glad to take credit for it anyway.  Good job, Skerrib, for mentally talking yourself out of a pitocin shot. 

After all of this we decided it was time to get me into bed, which I thought was a fabulous idea.  Carol was very concerned that I not get dizzy or pass out.  Her advice was, "If at any point you feel dizzy, you just sit/lie down because once the dizziness starts it doesn't get any better from there." I thought that was good advice.  I've been fortunate to not have dizziness after any of my births, although I have to be conscious about taking in a full breath.  I don't know all that much beyond high school anatomy, but I imagine it's something relating to my diaphragm, and readjusting to not having a baby taking up all that interior space anymore, or something.  But I'm totally guessing on that, so who knows. The point is, I remembered to breathe, and we all went back to the bedroom, and I gladly climbed into bed without any troubles.  Which is good, because had I gotten dizzy it would've been awkward with all of us squeezed into the hallway and me lying on the floor trying to think non-dizzy thoughts.

Next we set up to do the cord burning.  "What's that, Skerrib? What on earth is cord burning and, seriously, are you some kind of hippie??"  My rough summary of cord burning history and philosophy is that it goes back to some of the Eastern (Asian, I think) practices, with the body's Chi (energy) and stuff like that.  Burning the cord instead of clamping it is good for the baby's Chi, and helps him/her get a good start.  I'm not too sure what to make of the Chi...I think there's an element of mystery to be appreciated about the Chi, and in general there are things about the human body that we don't fully understand, and I'm certainly all for good Chi, but beyond that it gets a little freaky-deaky for me, so I don't delve too far into it.

As far as the technical aspects--Carol had a baby-sized heat shield (cardboard wrapped in foil) that we placed in front of the baby (who was snuggled next to me).  The heat shield had a little opening for the cord to come thru, and then the cord was placed over a little metal bowl.  Carol then used a candle to burn the cord, which as a result was cauterized, sealed, sterilized, and so on, leaving a cord stump about 3-inches long.  It wasn't really any more cumbersome than a clamped-cord stump and in our case it fell off much sooner than average, within about 3 days.  Some families choose to do a prayer or song or something during the 5 minutes or so that the cord burning takes; others don't.  Being generally very practical about most things, we were content to simply watch and be part of the process.

After this there was the weighing and measuring, and final once-overs and such, and soon it was time for the ladies to slip out and leave us to sleeping.  Which the Cat Daddy and baby did plenty of, but I only did sporadically because, you know, I'd just had a baby and all.

The boyz came back home after they woke up the next morning to greet their new sister. 

Carol (and sometimes Marte) came back several times over the next several days for checks & rechecks and such.  Carol shot me in the butt on Easter (I'm Rh-negative), because really, what better time to be shot in the butt than on the day we celebrate the Resurrection??  And just like that, we were off & running, our brand-new family of 5.

And really, that pretty much sums up the story.  I keep stalling in my mind a bit.  I mean, how do I make sure to capture it all, this practical, and maybe even a little bit hurried, telling of such a sacred, heady event?  There's no way to get it all. But I think I got the best and most important parts.

I've had a couple of motivations for sharing the whole story.  I know home birth is different than the norm for most people, so I hope I've taken out some of the mystery of it.  It's certainly not for everyone, but for me it has been a wonderful thing (and I'm always glad to talk people's ears off about it, so if you have any questions or curiosities, please feel free to comment or email).

My personal goal, however, was to at least get the facts down--gory details and everything--knowing that as time passes and I come back and read them, my memories and feelings will be triggered, and I'll remember the experience and be so grateful that I got the privilege of it all.

Thanks for joining me...

May 31, 2012

They Interrupt...

The Cat Daddy is smart; he locks the door every time.  Then the boys knock and ask him what he's doing, because they want details every time.  I don't need details, so I generally leave him alone.  Every so often I'll knock, but generally only if I have a good reason or want to throw him off his game a little. 

I rarely lock the door, especially if I'm the only grown-up present. Sometimes I do, but usually it's an extra step for which I just don't take time.  Heck, I usually don't even take the time to shut the door completely.  While in the shower, I'll hear the door creak open, and I'll sing-song, "Who's there?" and peek around the curtain. And just as often as not, it'll be Zoe or Max:

"Hey Mom, just taking inventory.  I found everyone else, but you left for like two minutes and I had to make sure you were still on the premises.  I'll go now, and leave the door open so all this warm steam can get out and you can cool off."

"Thanks for nothing, Zoe."

So then earlier today, I stole a moment away to, um, take care of some business.  Little E (Yes, I'm thinking that fits nicely. Maybe.) came with me, because at her age she goes with me everywhere about 98% of the time.  It's just not a good idea to leave an almost-8-week-old unguarded in the presence of her extremely well meaning, extremely affectionate, extremely ambitious, and somewhat clumsy brothers.  So she was on the floor, lounging against the Boppy.  This is how we roll.

Obviously, then, within seven seconds the door cracked open and two little eyes peered through, right about the height of a small-ish three year old.

"I'm peeting, Mommy!"


"PEETING! I'm peeting at you!"

"OH! I see you peeking at me. I'm going potty. Can I have some privacy?"


"I'm not surprised."

And then the Cat Daddy called.  And did I answer?  Yes I did.  I don't every time, but in this particular moment the timing worked out, and no one was screaming.

"Hang on, Littler One, lemme talk to Daddy for a minute."

"Daddy's on the phone??  LemME talk to him!"

"No. Hang on kiddo."

Then I talked to the Cat Daddy for long enough to commiserate with him about the cost of our car maintenance this time around (timing belt, etc...'The Big One,' as he calls it), before he was summoned back to work-ish things.  So we hung up, and I got myself together and so on.

"Mommy really likes privacy sometimes.  I might start locking the door."

"Otay, Mommy."

And then of course the Littler One shut the door completely--with me, him, and his little sister still inside--and helpfully locked the door.

"Thanks, buddy"...

May 24, 2012

Homebirth-A-Go-Go 2012--Part IV...

Part I     Part II     Part III     Part V

Well, let's get down to brass tacks. Or is it brass tax? As I was leaning on a chair during a contraction I started to feel pressure down low, as in my butt-region. In short, I felt like I needed to poop. It is estimated that about 30% of women do in fact poo in labor, and if you are familiar at all with my history, then you know it's a "gift" of mine. I poo, and then out comes a baby. Gross, but reassuring if you think about it. Because as I got that sensation part of me thought "Eh, it might just be poop," but most of me thought, "Alright, almost there!!"

But having the (neurotic) desire to remain cool & calm all the time, I said something like, "Carol I'm feeling pressure down low. I might have to go poop." And we talked it over & came to the conclusion that I would sit on the toilet for a little bit and see what happened, with strict instructions not to strain or push. And oh-by-the-way, to give a yell if a baby came out. It was a good plan.

Well, I sat on the toilet through a couple of contractions, but the results were, um, miniscule at best. It was so disappointing. But soon another contraction came, producing a higher quantity of mucus than before, simultaneously grossing out and encouraging me. As I was coming out of the contraction the Cat Daddy knocked to see how I was doing, and I told him to hold on a minute, that I was in the middle of a contraction and would talk to him when it was over. Except in way fewer words. I left out the part about the mucus, because he is squeamish about a lot of things, and talk of mucus right then might have put him over the edge.

Now by this point I knew birth was imminent. Things were moving along nicely. And what did my brain choose to obsess over? Whether or not to put my underwear and jammy-pants back on. I mulled it over for probably a few seconds, but it felt like ten minutes. Seriously, I couldn't decide and then I was all "Who cares, Skerrib, you're in labor for heaven's sake!" So finally I kind of settled in the middle, walking out with my pants draped over my shoulder and explaining myself: "So, I think my pants are staying off, but I still have my underpants on for now." And I told Carol about the mucus.  I can only imagine the things that Carol & Marte hear in the course of the labors they attend. I mean, to me it's mildly outlandish, discussing the state of my pants/underwear and the quantity and hue of my mucus, but it has to be something they deal with all the time, which might explain why they took it all calmly in stride. That, or they are great at pretending to take it all in stride and then giggle about it later on the way home.

So as I was walking out of my bathroom, through the dining room, toward the living room, the next contraction came on. I stopped and grabbed a chair, and within my brain there occurred great chaos, as I could feel everything happening at once. The baby was dropping suddenly, and was going to come out shortly, and the reason I knew this is that the real poop was coming out, and I swear I wasn't consciously pushing, but there my body was, making it all happen. What I consciously thought was, "The baby's coming out." And I think in my desire to be overly-precise and not mislead Carol into believing the baby was coming out at that exact moment, I actually said, "Something's happening."

Over in the living room the Cat Daddy sprung into action, recruiting Marte to help him get the plastic sheet down on the rug. To an extent this made sense, as I gave birth to the Littler One in there. However, in my mind I said, "I'm not making it over there; the baby is coming out here." I don't know how the poop got removed, but I know that it came out into my underwear, and I know that I did not do the removing. I'm not sure exactly what I said, but I know in my mind I was thinking about how to tell Carol that she was going to have to remove my underwear for me, and somehow they ended up about halfway down, right around my knees.

This might seem incredibly gratuitous and unnecessary, but there's a reason to remember it; I promise.

As far as I can tell, Carol put down a chux (?) pad and some towels on the wood floor where we were standing. And then began the yell. With the last birth it snuck up on me, but this time around I was ready. The baby was coming out, and somehow a little yell gives me the oomph to get the baby out as well as the patience not to push too eagerly. I think so, anyway; you'd actually have to ask Carol because she said she didn't remember me yelling too loud, but to me it seemed pretty loud, so it's one of those things that is just whatever it was. And with the yell came the ring of fire, and feeling increasing relief as, still standing in my dining room with my underpants down around my knees, I felt the baby's head come out, and then her shoulders, and then there was one last hangup--I think she had her arm up against her chest or something--and then she was out. Carol might have said "The baby's out," but I don't know. I do know that I thought in my head "I know she's out, because I feel so much better."

Carol had caught the baby from behind me and sort of fed her thru so I could pick her up from the front, but my gifted baby delayed things slightly because she reached out and grabbed onto my underpants on the way! I think this is rather resourceful; I mean, for all she knew she was falling, and when you're falling you save yourself by grabbing onto whatever you can find. She had no idea that she wasn't falling, so it's understandable. But I'm trying to pick her up, and thinking (saying?) "Let go of the underpants so I can hold you!" and I pried her tiny hand open, and then I had to sort of maneuver the cord around her leg a bit (giving me a chance to verify that she was in fact a girl), and then I know I told her "I am so glad you're here!!"

The others rigged up some pillows and towels and such so I could sit down/lie back for a bit. In the dining room. The Cat Daddy took a couple quick photos with his phone, and Carol and Marte did their thing. I know there was observing and charting out the wazoo. There may or may not have been Apgar scores; I don't remember. I might have babbled like a brook or just sat there taking it all in. The things I remember vividly, as with all my babies' births, are the intense relief and gratitude to be not only not pregnant anymore, but also holding a healthy and perfect little kiddo...

Part I  Part II   Part III   Part V

Homebirth-A-Go-Go 2012--Part III...

Part I     Part II     Part IV     Part V

So the midwife and her assistant (Carol & Marte) arrived around 8:45 pm.  I was to the point in labor that I was still wearing pants, and I had to stop and concentrate thru contractions, but otherwise I was all, "Come on in, would you like a drink?" as if we were getting together just for fun.  I don't know why I do that. 

Actually, I know exactly why I do that.  Here's my deal with labor--it is hard work.  I don't ever want to minimize the work of it and tell someone "Oh, it's no big deal," so please kick me in the shin if you hear that come out of my mouth with regard to labor and birthing.  At the same time, while I am entering in and respecting the process and all of that, I don't want to feel completely consumed by it, or I will freak out. The part of me with control issues needs to control something. If I can stay present enough to say things like "please," "thank you," and so on, then I feel like--while it is big and important--it is manageable enough that it will not overcome me, and I will indeed make it through to the other side.  So there's that.

Anyway, if you've been in my living room, you've seen the big rug, the 2 rocking chairs, and the blue & khaki couches.  Really the khaki couch is just tan, but somehow when His Highness started learning colors we started calling it khaki.  And why not?  Khaki sounds so much more interesting than boring old tan.  So picture two very nice ladies sitting on the khaki couch, the Cat Daddy on the old rocker, and me sitting cross-legged on the floor next to a white fitness ball except during contractions, when I draped myself face-down over the ball.  We all sat & chatted.  The Cat Daddy regaled us all with tales of a co-worker who shattered his ankle in an avalanche while ice climbing.  I shook my head in amusement at first, and then a little later I was getting a little annoyed, mostly because labor was moving right along and contractions were getting harder to breathe thru, so I was beginning to hum through them. 

Also during the process I was having a hard time deciding whether I was hot or cold.  When the ladies arrived I had the windows open and they were all, "Gosh, are you feeling warm?" And I was for a while, but then I got cooler and shut the windows, and eventually started shivering a little bit, which I suspect was at least part due to nerves, but when I put on socks & a sweatshirt I stopped shivering, so there's that.  But then I got warm and took the sweatshirt off...and started shivering again before long.  So my clothing was variable.

During all this Carol had listened to the baby's heartbeat a few times.  I liked how she approached it--she didn't seem to have a particular time schedule, but she listened under different circumstances.  For example she listened once in between contractions, once as I was coming out of a contraction, and I forget what the third one was; maybe as I was going through a contraction?  But the cool thing for me is that she could tell me the overall pattern or whatever she was listening for.  And thankfully, the baby was following the normal patterns, giving all indications that she was doing well and was indeed getting ready to come out.

And let's not forget Marte.  From what I can tell, Marte is a champion of charting.  It is most definitely not the only thing she does in the birthing process, but it is one thing that she does prolifically.  I don't even know what all she wrote down, but I'm pretty sure there are lots of things they are watching for during labor in both mom & baby. 

The Cat Daddy finally switched the iPad from YouTube videos of his ice climbing co-worker to the Simon & Garfunkel station on Pandora, and I was grateful.  By this time it was somewhere around 10:30 or 11pm, I believe.  I'd moved over to the blue chair-and-a-half and had stretched out on it and the ottoman.  The dang contractions were getting more annoying though, which really put a damper on my desire to nap.  I can remember starting to complain a little bit by this time, saying I knew I had to get thru this to be done, but that I really didn't like this part of things. 

It's a tricky thing sometimes with labor.  By this point it was past my bedtime, so I was tired and wanted to rest in between contractions.  And not knowing exactly how long labor would go, it is reasonable to want to rest, especially around bedtime.  However for me, it was not the best choice.  The contractions didn't go away, but neither did they pick up or get stronger or anything like that.  So after a time Carol & Marte gently suggested I get up and walk around a bit.  I was good-naturedly-annoyed (is that even possible?), meaning I really did want to take a nap, but I also agreed that getting up would be the best thing to get thru labor and be done so we could all go to sleep for real. 

Awesome thing number 597 about home birthing:  I decided I wanted an English muffin.  So I walked myself over to my toaster, toasted an English muffin, chose to spread apricot jam and butter (olive oil spread, actually) on it, and ate part of it.  Entirely possible in a hospital, yes.  But not nearly as simple a process.

And guess what? The contractions did in fact speed up and even got a little harder, so we all agreed I was staying up and putzing around for a while.  Mostly I just paced around my living/dining room area, taking an occasional bite of English muffin, leaning on my dining chairs during contractions, and complaining that they were getting harder and I was super annoyed by them.  Carol said after the fact that she didn't remember me being all that complain-y, but I sure felt it. 

This is another thing about labor--it is sometimes difficult to remember what you actually said, and what you thought in your head.  There were a few things where I really thought I said them and neither Carol nor Marte remembered me saying them.  It's the ultimate case of "Did I just say that out loud?" except it's entirely possible that the answer is no...

Part I   Part II    Part IV    Part V

We Interrupt...

I soooooo want to finish up the birth story, I promise, but in the meantime I need to get a few throughts out of my head.  They're starting to pile up, and my head is getting full, and that's just...crowded.

--Moving time is creeping up on us a day, a week at a time.  Except that time is traveling at crazy speeds these days so while we're moving on July 9, it turns out that July 9 will be here, like, tomorrow.

--I'm a little Ecclesiastical these days.  I don't know if "Ecclesiastical" has a real definition, but what I mean by it is that I'm looking around in my world, seeing a lot of the same old things.  Cycles such as seasons (in the weather/climate sense)...moving (duh)...babies and kids growing and developing (and for some inexplicable reason wearing one boot and one Croc)...hearing people rant about politics, and baby/child care, and reality TV.  All these things are bombarding me, and I'm thinking "Nothing is new under the sun."  Which is both alarming and reassuring.  So I spent a little time in Ecclesiastes one evening, and I was all "Geez Solomon, you need a cookie, man" but at the same time going "It's so sad but he's dead-on."  And I wanted to skip to the end but I made myself stick with his moaning and groaning and I was still thinking "Cut it out, Solomon!" And when I got to the end...well, there aren't really any neat & tidy answers, except for God, who rarely seems to tie up our loose ends on this side of things.  Which is at once alarming and reassuring.  But I think more reassuring.  It helped me a little bit to calm down and wonder less what/if I needed to do differently to feel better.  My life is in a mildly chaotic place right now, but we are healthy and reasonably there's not much to do at this moment except keep doing what I'm doing (and trust that I'm doing plenty), and hang on for the ride.

--I love (LOVE) humor and sarcasm, but at my deepest, soft chewy core I am a Tenderheart.  Sometimes these things seem in competition, but I decided they are just aspects that come out at different times.  These days I'm a little fragile, so I lean toward Tenderheart.  It's not that things aren't funny, it's just that the fragile is a little more at the forefront than the funny. 

--I'm also what one of the major women's magazines calls a Ruminator.  Which basically means I think a lot, to the point that sometimes I need to shut it down a bit and go banter with someone. And maybe more often. But maybe not. 

--I did a great job keeping the house super-neat for, like, almost four weeks.  Then I let down for a bit and felt about 70% more relaxed.  Thereby proving that chores are the cause of so many evils in this world. Now I'm ramping up again til we sell the dang house...evil chores.

--The relationship of moving and relationships--don't even get me started.

These are the things on my mind lately.  Also these things: His Highness is trolling for food, the Littler One is going down the stairs in the pop-up tunnel, and the Wee One (eh, probably not) needs to eat. 

And chores...

May 6, 2012

Homebirth-A-Go-Go 2012--Part II...

Part I     Part III     Part IV     Part V

So then things were boring for a while.  More paperwork, more writing down start times for contractions...and dang it if they didn't start getting closer together.  And I thought, "Well, maybe something really is happening. I'd better get this paperwork done just in case." 

Unfortunately though, the paperwork was just too involved to finish right then.  It was a really long and really boring form requiring things like old addresses, people who "knew me when," alternate names for the color beige, and so on.  Things I would have to dig around a bit to find. And my 'puter was forcing me offline so it could do some updates for work.  Plus by now it was in the 5's, and the natives were getting hungry, and I thought, "If something really is happening I should probably feed my children."  So there was that. And then there were the early-labor tasks, like making up the bed (good sheets on bottom, plastic layer, and old sheets on top), and prepping the egg-bake for the after-the-birth meal, and so on. All to say, I put away the work stuff and got down to business on home stuff.

The interesting thing to me about the next few hours--except for the fact that I was fairly convinced I was finally in labor--is how ordinary was the course of events. The Cat Daddy came home at his regular time, having not even looked at my texts until I told him about them, thereby rendering all of them moot. I gave Carol a call just before dinner to check in, and based on my descriptions she said it sounded pretty labor-ish (my words), and to call again in an hour (or sooner if it all hit the fan--my words again).  Then there was dinner, and bathtime, and pulling the Littler One out of a mailbox a couple times (which wasn't nearly as bizarre as it sounds), though not in that order.  Then the Cat Daddy ushered the boyz to their slumber party and ran a coupla quick errands while I called Carol back.  She determined that, while it was still likely a little early in the process, she and her assistant (Marte, pronounced like Marta) would pack up their gear and head my way. For the most part I felt calm and happy and not-competitive, but there was that one part of me that went "YES!!" 

**I feel the need to clarify the nature and reason behind the "YES!!"  With the homebirthing, things can get hairy if two or more moms go into labor at the same time.  But not that hairy--quite simply, lots of midwives work back-up for each other.  So if the first-time mom's labor had progressed quickly and Carol headed over there, then the back-up midwife (a lovely and fantastic lady who was the primary midwife for a friend of mine, so I felt pretty comfortable about her even thought I'd never met her) would have come to me, and we all would have been quite content and well-cared-for.  While this is a fantastic and effective system of contingency plans, I was grateful for Plan A.  Hence the "YES!!"  And as it turned out, the first-time mom did not go into full labor that night, so no one had to "beat" anyone to anything, which made me feel good because I like it when things turn out nice & neat that way. End digression.** 

By this point it was 7:30ish and the ladies were shooting to arrive around 9ish (packing time plus a 45-min drive).  Also by this point, the house was as clean as it was gonna get, so we finished the early-labor tasks.  Then we were all "What do we do now?" and decided to put the office back together.  See, we had painted it a couple weeks prior, and the stuff was still out in our family/play room, so we figured we might as well do what we could before things got really intense, what with a baby coming out and all.  I did leave the bulk of the lifting to the Cat Daddy--my main tasks were running cables to the modem and so on so they would be nice & neat.  There were contractions every few minutes in there, during which I would stop & sit & breathe thru them. After that it was 8:30, and there were some ticky-tack-type tasks to do (filing, anyone??) but I got about 5 minutes into those before deciding I didn't really want to do that anymore.  I told the Cat Daddy, "I'm gonna go upstairs & hang out while I wait for Carol & Marte."  He teased me about bailing on him, and I made snide remarks that were equal parts "I love you" and "Tread lightly, Buster Brown."

See?  Boring...

Part I    Part III    Part IV   Part V

Apr 21, 2012

Homebirth-A-Go-Go 2012--Part I...

Part II     Part III     Part IV     Part V

I should probably get this down, while it's fairly fresh, and before the true hectic-ness (Hectic-ment? Hecticity??) of 3 kids sets in for reals. The Youngest--she doesn't have an official bloggy-name yet, but I'll start with The Youngest and go from there--made her entrance about as early as one can on a given day, 1203 AM on Friday, April 6.

The plan this time was, again, a homebirth. I was so pleased with how things went with The Littler One that, barring any complications or issues, it was a no-brainer for me to choose the homebirth route again. My midwife from before doesn't travel all the way from Denver to Cheyenne anymore. She said she would for me (because she is just that fantastic), but it turned out a colleague of hers in Fort Collins was starting a new homebirth practice, and I thought "Hey, Fort Collins is that much closer than Denver, if she's a good fit for us this could be good too." The new (to us) midwife is also a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife, as opposed to a CPM--Certified Professional Midwife--who are credentialed differently and not covered by Tricare, so the CNM-part was kind of important to me), and has been practicing in hospital settings for years but recently made the switch to homebirths.  So we set up a meeting, and got acquainted, and long story short, we went with the new midwife in Ft Collins.

Now, the last time I did such a good job of anticipating a not-early baby that it nearly shocked me when The Littler One came at 39 weeks and in just over 5 hours from start to finish.  This time I did such a terrible job of anticipating a not-early baby that it threw me for a loop when I sped not-so-swiftly past 39 weeks...and then 40.  I began alternating grumpy days and OK-days, and tried to keep up with the tidying and grocery shopping and so on, and finally convinced myself that she had decided to just stay put forever and was never coming out.  Once I determined this, things didn't exactly get cheerful, but they did get more bearable.  When friends/relatives/foreign ambassadors from small republics pulled the old "So, anything yet???"  I could explain that, in fact, there would never be anything because my daughter was just going to stay put, because apparently my womb is quite comfortable and sufficient for long-term sustenance.  Then they were all, "Oh, ha ha Skerrib!" and I felt good about not burning any bridges with overly-snarky responses, because I had some serious snark available had the situation called for it, but I knew that people were just being nice, so I didn't really want to, um, alienate anyone or anything.

By this time it was Thursday April 5--40 weeks and 4 days.  Two other friends due right around the same time had had their babies, and in a deep and secret corner of my brain I thought, "If she were to decide to come out, she would round out the group of 3 quite nicely," followed quickly by "but she's staying in forever. Too bad."

Then I got a call from work.  It turned out I needed to fill out some security paperwork (because I'm very important and official) and I thought "Good, something to keep me occupied," and I figured I should get started on it, just in case she decided to come out, even though she probably never would.  I joked with my boss that maybe having a task to accomplish would start labor, and then realized that just by hoping to start labor I was dooming myself further to perma-pregnancy, and I assured my boss that I should be able to get the paperwork filled out in the next day or two.  So I fed the boyz lunch and got to it.

It's an interesting thing, the subconscious.  I'd been having Braxton-Hicks contractions for months in the afternoons.  They are the laid-back "practice" contractions that don't usually mean much.  In my case it has always been very distinct when actual labor contractions started, so I don't generally pay a whole lot of attention to the BH's.  But you know, by this point I did know that I had them mostly in the afternoon/evenings, that they were never closer than 10 minutes apart, and that by reclining and drinking water they would pretty much subside.  I don't know that I ever consciously told myself or anyone else all of this...but as I was filling out my paperwork I noticed that they kept coming every 10 minutes or so, even though I was drinking water, and they were starting to resemble more of a "wave" pattern, where they would gradually get more intense and then subside.  Suddenly they were different than before.

"Maybe I'll just start keeping track of these," I told myself, "even though she's never coming out."  So starting at 1:41 pm, in between tracking down past residences and references and such, just for grins & giggles, I wrote down start times, and pulled up an online stopwatch.

After an hour or so I texted a few folks.  I told the Cat Daddy "Don't come home yet, but I might be having a few contractions." I told our fabulous neighbors, who had 8 family members--including 5 children--staying with them "I'm not sure yet, but I may be sending the boys over for their slumber party tonite.  And may I please have your middle name and email address for my work paperwork?"  I told Carol (the midwife), "Just so you know, I might be having some contractions.  I'll let you know if things get interesting."  And Carol texted back, "Hmmm, my first-time-mom client might be showing signs of early labor too."

And suddenly I switched mental tactics and thought, "I have GOT to beat the first-time-mom!" (Geez Skerrib, competitive much?!) and I allowed myself to think, "She just might come out after all..."

Part II    Part III    Part IV    Part V