Thursday, June 28, 2012

38 at 38

I turn 38 today.

(And SCOTUS gave me a present! Thank you, Chief Justice Roberts! You really should have, though I did not at all expect it. :))

So I turn 38 today. It's a weird thing, somehow. I was not looking forward to this birthday at all. Partially because there was no way for me to know what the day would bring. We could've had a live baby by now. We could've had a dead baby by now. Hell, we can still have either today-- it's only 1pm here*.

I am also 38 weeks today. And have an induction date scheduled for next Thursday morning. Dr. Best, with a mischievous gleam in his eyes, tried to schedule us for the evening of the 4th, since most rooms on the L&D floor have an excellent view of the city's big fireworks. Sadly for him and JD, this plan was shut down by the scheduling powers that be. I am ok with it-- the 5th was always the date I had in the back of my mind as the longest we'd go, though given how my pregnancy with the Cub went, I really didn't think we'd get there (or even here, for that matter). When Nurse Kind said that she'd rather get the spot for the morning of the 5th before that one goes and we have to look at further dates, I felt myself starting to get panicky-- not so sure I could get my head to stay on even a day past the 39 weeks mark.

It is strange to be here, at 38 weeks. I did really well for a long time in this pregnancy not having assumptions or expectations. Or almost not having them. I sort of expected pre-term contractions. And those did start, and earlier than last time. At which point I sort of began expecting to have this pregnancy continue to follow the script of the Cub's, to include a high number of L&D visits, some amount of bed rest and, eventually, an early-ish delivery. So up until about two weeks ago I didn't think I would ever be this pregnant again. JD keeps commenting on how vast I look. But the truth is, I look good. I haven't looked this good or felt this good in pregnancies with either of my boys. Last time I was this pregnant, it was Monkey on the inside, and I was more than ten years younger. But that pregnancy included a few hospitalizations too and some amount of modified bed rest, for partial placenta previa. And, as I recall, some amount of foot swelling towards the end. This time? I keep shaking my head because at this point while I need to wear wrist supports to drive and I do get tired somewhat easily, and I am not getting much sleep, and I waddle, I feel good. I move, I get things done, and I don't even have stretch marks. I know-- shoot me.

Honestly, I like that I am feeling this good. (The only explanation I have is the workout program I did last summer. I mean I still have definition in the arms, so that's something. That, and I think we've gotten luckier with infections this time, in that I haven't had any.)  But it's a mindfuck. I told my doctor, the first time I saw him this go-round, that I wanted the world's most boring pregnancy. It hasn't been that, but it has been probably as close as I was going to get. And I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop. At the end of last week's appointment, after Nurse Kind booked our induction date, I went out to the reception area and booked the rest of my appointments up to then-- two remaining BPPs, two remaining NSTs, two remaining doctor visits. It was so very surreal to not only actually expect to still make every one of those, but also to know that if this baby lives, these will be my very last ones at this office ever, except for the 6 week follow up. My last BPP is tomorrow morning, and they will estimate her size again-- last time she dropped into the 30th percentile, you know, plus/minus a full pound, from the 50th where she'd resided since they'd started measuring her. Is that where the shoe is hiding? Probably not, since, you know, it's plus/minus a full pound on the estimate, but I am also not about to whistle a happy tune.

Even now it is easier for me to imagine something going wrong than everything going right. I used to have "getting to the labor floor with a live baby inside" as a sort of a finish line in mind. Not that I've never known things to go bad after that point, but it really was a sort of a testament to how my previous labors have gone, as well as to the faith I had in how my particular hospital does things in L&D. But last week a careless remark from someone who should really know better (ahem, husband) had me suddenly coming up with all kinds of scenarios where things go south. Because why the hell not, right?

Yesterday, walking to my sister's house, I was trying to figure out what it would mean if she died on my birthday or if she died the day before and was born on my birthday. It's a thing I've been doing for a while-- thinking through the what ifs of baby death occurring on other significant family dates. With the Cub, I was most worried about him possibly dying before or the day my sister was getting married. This time, we've already made it past JD's 40th, complete with a party shared with a friend, and the back-to-back anniversaries, my sister's and ours. In the longer-past event horizon, we made it past Monkey's tenth birthday (and A's due date the day after). What I figured out is that I tend to just hold my breath on these days and hope we make it through. It's not that it would be less horrible if my daughter died on a different day. It would just be less loaded of a day, and hey-- there's enough shit in grieving without having to take it as that specific kind of a cocktail, you know? After today, there's only one significant date between here and the induction-- my sister turns 30 on Tuesday (yes, my family really does pack it in there-- and you should see the rest of our July). Monkey, therefore, thinks it would be an excellent day for her sister to be born. When she says it, I mentally add "alive"-- it really would be a pretty good day for her to be born alive.

So I am 38. I turn the number in my head, and on my tongue. It's not doing anything new, really. Many friends have been turning 40 this year, and I think in my head I've been "almost 40" since that wave started up in earnest in the fall. I wonder whether that feeling might change over the next year, whether it might become important to me, perhaps around the time I turn 39, that I am in fact not yet dead 40. I guess we shall see. In the meantime, I am tip toeing through the day and the rest of this very weird time. If I walk quietly enough, maybe I can make it all the way to next Thursday.

*Clearly, it takes me forever to write a post. In my defense, it wasn't all in one sitting. Damned errands. And dinner. :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The scary puppy post (and scary long-- sorry)

You know the cute puppy from the previous post? This is the post about the Bad Thing (TM) that happened to him, how we got lucky, and how the whole thing messed me up. I am not sure that the last part was a necessary consequence of the first two put together, but in the context of my pre-existing crazies, it might not have been easily avoidable.

This magnet is prominently displayed on the filing cabinet at the emergency check in at the big veterinary hospital where the main act of the drama went down. It's funny, and, as it turns out, prescient. Which, I am sure, is the reason it is positioned in that very strategic location.

So let's rewind reality, about oh say... 11 weeks and three days. Monkey and JD are out of the country, attending a family wedding. The Cub is visiting my parents.  V the puppy and I are having a pretty good week. I am actually getting stuff crossed off the all-mighty list, I am getting work done. I am even hoping to get to blog (no, honest-- that too was on the list for the week, just never happened). And on Thursday night, V and I are off to puppy school. I'd never gone before-- the timing hadn't worked out, but I'd heard much about the characters from JD. So we manage a walk and a puppy dinner before getting into the car, and I am feeling mighty pleased with myself.

Half way to school I hear a funny sound, look and see a... um... pile of what was, going in, his dinner. While I pull over and call the school to see whether they think we should turn around and go straight to the vet (remember-- I'd never had a dog before), V thinks about it for a few, and-- look away if you are squeamish,-- eats the whole pile back up. Yum. And since the school is letting the answering machine pick up, I decide to keep going. When we get there, I ask about our little gross adventure, and the teacher tells me puppies do that kind of thing. Oh, ok then. I actually have a video from that night, of V being playfully chased by a much smaller, but very feisty French Bulldog. It was very, very cute. But knowing what must've been happening on the inside for V, I look at that video and wonder.

So the next day, after teaching my class and office hours, I still had a few things on tap-- namely submitting some stuff for work and, later, a haircut appointment. You know, because I actually had time to spend on myself. So I am working on the submission, minding my own business, when I see the puppy start to make the freakiest oval on the rug-- he'd throw up just a bit of the lunch he'd just consumed, then move over a bit and do it again. In the end, he'd made a shape'o'piles on the rug. Extremely appetizing. While I shoot an email to JD to say WTF? and also, do I take the puppy to the vet now?, and did I say WTF yet?, V starts to go around the piles and eating them back up. Capital W weird, no?  And then he goes to play outside.

Call the vet, who says we're open until 7-- go get your haircut if he's playing and call us if he's off when you are back. Sounds like a plan. Except as I am finishing the submission, the puppy walks into the house, lays down by the couch, and starts to whimper. For maybe 30 seconds. Then gets up and goes out to play again. But did I mention I'd never had a dog before? The whimpering? It freaks me out. So I call the stylist, who works out of her house and is a dog person, and tell her that I am worried about the puppy and could we push it because I will take him to the vet now. She's on board with it, and off to the vet we go.

Where, of course, V starts to act like his usual self. By which I mean wanting to play with every dog in the joint. Because? OMG!DIDYASEETHAT????IT'SAPUPPY,ANDSOAMI!!!!!!!LETME!!LETME!!LETME!!! It's crazy enough that I make a crack about how if my daughter paid the puppy off to pull this on me so that I miss my haircut, I will be very miffed (did I mention Monkey doesn't like me getting haircuts? She plays with my hair for fun, so if it gets too short for her after a haircut, she disapproves). Funny, no? Though I am fully aware, even in the moment, that the joke only works if it does, in fact, turn out to be nothing.

So finally we get to see the doctor. Who says the puppy's "acting appropriately." Though his belly is a bit tender, so maybe a bland diet for a few days. I must not look too relieved because then she says that the puppy doesn't need an X-ray, but that they can do one in abundance of caution. You know, to calm me down.

This is where we take a short diversion for a love letter/ode to Tash. Because way before we ever got the puppy, Tash had told me, early and often, to never ever get a pet without first getting pet insurance. I have ears (and eyes-- she's said it in chats too), and she has tales that demonstrate rather convincingly why that's the case, and so when we finally had the date for V's arrival, I got on JD's case to pretty please figure out the insurance thing but yesterday already. Turns out, things are a bit more complicated these days, since there is a whole new model of pet insurance out there, and we ended up going with that new model in the end-- it's cheaper out of pocket and covers all kinds of bad things. If you want to know more, I can explain in the comments-- I think the post is getting too long already. Short version is having pet insurance saved us thousands of dollars, literally. And I still owe Tash a beer or something stronger. Am daydreaming of when she will finally show up to collect.

Back to the story. I lurve the information age. Because see, while I was fairly sure our insurance was good to go by then, I wasn't sure sure. And the person who made it happen was not so very on the same continent at the time. But text messages, they cross oceans and all that. So I sent one, and JD called me a few minutes later. The reason I am telling you this long form is to underscore than the X-ray we got the puppy was universally believed to have been for the benefit of calming me down, since, as a first time dog owner (did I mention?) I seemed to have been a bit out of sorts still. That is, JD promptly told me that I didn't need our insurance's particulars, since it is a mail stuff in for reimbursement kind, but that since I still sounded nervous, he thought we should get the X-ray. So we did.

A sidenote-- they bring the image to show you on a freaking iPad. Which is both way cool and a bit crazy. But hey, it was fast and it was easily available for me to see, so I am not complaining. The thing on the image, though? Thin and bright. Metal. A needle? Really? Even the doc couldn't believe it, so she ordered a second X-ray at a different angle to make sure it wasn't a thin piece of something. It wasn't. Second X-ray, same result. The puppy ate a frigging needle!

At this point they tell us we should go to the big veterinary hospital, and pronto. And I get that this is fairly urgent, but my brain is still protecting me-- I am not clear on either how urgent or how dangerous. The office gives us electronic copies of the X-rays and tells us to go straight to the hospital, but we stop by the house first to grab a few things. In my defense, the house is about a mile from the vet's and is almost on the way.

When we get to the hospital, things at first do not seem to be moving that fast. We check in, and we are supposed to wait in the special doggy ER waiting area. It is separated, you see, from the cat ER waiting area. No, not kidding. It is also to the other side of the big open central area from where non-emergency animals hang out. Which meant that V was being kept away from the dogs he knew were in the building by his mean owner. He barked early and often, presumably to explain to the dim-wit holding his leash that there were DOGS to sniff, and not more than a few seconds away. Eventually, he barfed a bit more, and shortly after an ER doc arrived. Who was funny and warm and clearly disappointed that the fresh haul didn't contain the needle from the X-ray. She then explained to me that they would try to get the darned thing by means of endoscopy, but she wanted me to know that if they fail, he'd have to have gastrotomy, which is a fancy term for opening the dog up and getting the thing straight out of his stomach.

So V got weighed and I had to sign off on being willing to spend many many dollars for the first procedure, and also that I am willing to spend more if that fails and they have to cut. A nice technician then led the puppy away, leaving me with his collar and leash. And I waited. Can't tell you how long-- I don't have a sense anymore. Finally the vet came out, sat at the table with me and told me that they'd tried to get the thing via endoscopy for good twenty minutes, but that there was so much grass and wood chips inside that they literally couldn't find the needle in that haystack.

This was the first time I sank. Not literally-- I was sitting after all. But you know what I mean-- my insides, all of me, just sank. Before this news I thought I was so fucking clever-- made sure to have insurance, made the catch on the behavior that neither my husband nor the vet made. I rocked, see? And suddenly I was the first time dog owner idiot who let her dog eat grass and gnaw on sticks (he was bringing those in over the last couple of days and making a thorough and quick job of them). The ER doc tried to talk me off of that particular ledge. She said that these things he was doing were his instinctual way of dealing with the foreign body. That's how he was trying to protect himself.

She told me to go home, since they would have to keep him at least overnight after the surgery. She promised to call as soon as they were done. I thought I'd calmed down by then. I drove home, I had dinner with my sister and her family. I waited for the call. But when three days later we still couldn't find the collar and leash that I was sure I remembered taking from the hospital to the car with me and then bringing into the house, and finally I'd called the hospital and they had it, well, that's when I knew I was not fine that Friday night. Managing to acquire tactile and visual memories of something that never happened? I was not fine.

Eventually the nice ER doc called. Surgery was a smashing success and the surgeon was happy they'd done it because, and I quote, he wasn't sure the grassy mess they took out would've made it out on its own. They weighed the mass-o-grass, and there was a full pound of it. They also found the needle, complete with a good length of black thread, yellowish and kinda rusting itself. I don't have any yellow needles. He did not eat OUR needle. He must've found it on a walk or, alternatively, under our deck, if the previous owners dropped it there accidentally however many moons ago. We were incredibly lucky-- he only had a small ulcer on the esophagus and he had no perforations of the stomach, and apparently no infection. He'd need to stay overnight, as promised, but we could get him the next day. We ended up leaving him an extra night and then having my sister and brother in law pick him up and take him to our house, since I had to fly to get the Cub back from my parents. The hospital they told me not to visit the day after the surgery-- V had already revealed his boisterous nature, and they were worried he'd need sedatives after if I come but then go and leave him there.

This is after. Sunday after the Friday. His tummy is shaven and he has scary looking staples in it. And his discharge instructions say, as point number one, to keep the puppy chilled and as inactive as possible for the next two weeks. Yup, a four and a half months old terrier puppy. That was going to be no problem. No problem at all.

It was relatively doable while he was taking drugs. It got a lot harder when he no longer was. It was particularly tough the night Monkey and JD got back from overseas. And he was not at all on board with the whole only going outside to do business and only on a leash plan. But in the end we managed, and all of us survived.

The next time I felt myself losing it was after everyone was back under the same roof, and things were on the mend. For some reason, driving back home one day I let myself really understand what the breeder told JD when he asked her how fast puppies recover from such surgeries, in her experience, that is. When he told me, days before, I didn't really process it. I mean I understood what the words were saying, but not what they meant. She'd said that most often needles are found on necropsies, but that if people know the needle is there, with no money for such surgeries and not many vets qualified to do them anyway, most often all an owner can do is feed the dog bread mixed with cotton balls, essentially to do what V did for himself by eating grass-- coat the foreign body and hope it comes out the other end. So driving home that day it suddenly hit me what it must feel like to be that human, sitting with your dog, knowing all you can do is feed the dog fucking cotton balls with bread. Knowing your dog would most likely die, and most likely from a raging infection. I thought I was going to throw up.

When JD called the insurance company to ask how to file the claim (they were wonderful, btw), he also asked about how frequent claims like this were. And the nice lady told him that usually these claims come with serious courses of antibiotics for a profoundly raging infection as well as with removing damaged sections of the intestine.

So yes, I probably saved V's life, or at least his quality of life. And likely because I was so inexperienced with puppies that I worried enough about the smallest changes from his usual to take him in right away, whereas an experienced dog owner might've written those off as the weird things puppies do. And after I'd exhaled, after rationally speaking everything seemed to be improving, I realized that I was still on edge. The blowback, something I should've expected, but didn't, had me in a crazy hypervigilant overdrive about the pregnancy. Because see, I saved the dog. I noticed something nobody else did. I, therefore, might have the power to notice something similarly obscure that would jeopardize my baby's life. And what's worse, I was the only one with that power. The only one.

The day of the surgery I was 26 weeks 1 day. I didn't have an appointment scheduled until 27w5ds, and it wasn't until right about 27-1 or 27-2 that I even realized why I was as on edge as I was. So when I showed up for that appointment, I couldn't hold it anymore. I told Nurse Kind that I was losing it, that I had the worst time trying to be vigilant. She wanted me to tell Dr. Best the same thing, and I did. I thought I had to wait until about 32 for the thorough monitoring. Turns out, NSTs are best done starting then, but BPPs can be started as soon as 28 weeks. Which was coming up rapidly. And Dr. Best was not in the mood to be shy about those. We started BPPs that very Friday, at 28w1d.

That? That was not only incredibly validating, but also calming. Not right away, mind you, but when Friday rolled around, when the ultrasound goop hit my belly? Yes, yes it was. Because suddenly I was no longer the only one with the power to help my baby-- the doctors, and ultrasound technicians, and big machines, they all had my back. They all had her back. I knew then and I know now that a BPP passed with flying colors is no guarantee of live birth or even of survival for the next week, until the next BPP. And hey, the very day of my first BPP I also got the first run of my first real contractions for this pregnancy. So it's not like the clouds parted and I became a blissful pregnant woman, far from it. But it made me feel better, not to mention valued and respected, and I will forever count that as one of Dr. Best's greatest hits.

Finally, and blessedly, the end. Oh, wait-- PSA: If you are contemplating getting a new pet, please, please, please do yourself a favor and get pet insurance. All set. Now it's really the end.

Monday, June 18, 2012

They grow up so fast! (*sniff, sniff*)

The thing about falling off the wagon is that when you get back on, you feel like you must explain. Or at least I do. And my excuses? They are rarely anything but lame. This time is no exception. I fall asleep all.the.time. Truth be told, it's really more about I spend the day trying to be at least semi-productive, clearing items of various size off the to-do list (though don't ask about the big "apply for better jobs" one-- the experiences of doing that over the last couple of years leave me mostly depressed and wishing, in the rare instances when something appropriate pops up in the ads, to postpone doing of this as long as humanly possible) because I think I will be able to write a bit later in the evening. And then the evening rolls up on me, and I go clunk. Or click, like the light. See? Lame. Ok, switching gears, because really, I am bored with me and my sad tale of sleeping sickness.

So the title of the post. It is sooooo not talking about kids, mine or otherwise. But you knew that, right? This here is the long-promised fuzzy happy puppy post. Because the puppy? Is cute. Also, following JD's return suddenly a lot less crazy puppy-like in his behavior. An abrupt shift, really. Very strange and a bit disconcerting, though admittedly a lot easier to deal with.

This is one of his very first pictures this side of the pond. He flew in from the Old City, round about when he was 2.5 months old. Minutes out of the crate, and he's trying to make friends with Monkey. Right outside the cargo terminal at the airport. Monkey was a bit freaked, actually, as you might be able to tell from the awkward position of her hands. It passed, quickly, and these days she does a pretty good job bossing him around.

This next one is one of the first home shots, with a bonus glimpse of the Cub. See how tiny the dog used to be? The kid was sooooo excited for the puppy to come that when it finally happened, he was in the poor animal's face continuously, and eventually got a tiny bit nipped. He spent the next two weeks or so moving around the first floor mostly from couch to an adult and back again. Slowly, he began petting the puppy again, then playing nearby, then chasing. And now if you look up "a boy and his dog" in the great encyclopedia of cliches, you will undoubtedly see a picture of the two of them.

This is about a week later. Growing, gaining weight, taking a rare respite from getting into trouble.

About three more weeks later here. See how much more of a redhead (redbody?) he is?

The puppy is an Airedale Terrier, which, if you know anything about puppies, terriers in general, or Airedales in particular, should translate for you into plain English as "they be crazy." His name is a nerdy joke, stolen with absolutely no shame from the cartoon villain (not protagonist!) of "Despicable Me"-- his name starts with a V, and he is so named because we fully expected him to commit mischief with both direction and magnitude. (Get it? If not, congratulations, you are not a nerd! But do look up the movie and it will tell you the villain's name, and as a bonus there should be his picture in a bright orange jump suit.) If anything, V exceeded all our expectations in this area. Up until this week, that is.

About three more weeks. First doggy playdate. With a slightly older (and much bigger) Bernese Mountain dog.

And this is where we take a small break in photographic evidence and accompanying narration, to be filled in by the scary puppy post. *Cue ominous music.* On the plus side, that post is to include the cutest ever puppy-in-a-cone pic. It will also include a public service announcement and a love note to Tash
So here's the much shaggier, much bigger dog, more than a month later. This is post the incident, and post recovery therefrom. The puppy doesn't really seem worse for wear, does he? Wish I could say the same for this owner. On the other hand-- cute, no?
A dog's life's is so tough, isn't it? This is a couple more weeks and nearly the height of the shaggy-- he's about to get a haircut (hairpull, actually-- fancy Airedale grooming thing).
So grown up! Why do haircuts make cute little things look so much more grown? In my experience that happens with toddlers as well as with dogs.
Our vet called him a beautiful specimen. Not that I am biased or anything, but methinks that this pic makes it tough to argue with the assessment.
Altogether now: awwwwwwwwww!

And also? He thinks he's people.
Yesterday. Getting shaggier again. And bigger. Tough to believe, but he does still have some growing to do.

And that makes us up to date on the puppy front. If you are not a dog person, apologies for way too many pictures. If you are, I hope this was fun.

Scary puppy post coming up next. And a post on gingerly stepping back into certain elements of past lives. Also, in Mel's words, about giving a fuck. Happens to be one and the same post.

Meanwhile, today, incredible as it seems, I am at 36w 4d. That would be the same gestation as I was the evening before the night I actually gave birth to the Cub. If nothing funny happens until then, sometime tomorrow I will be more pregnant than I've been but once before. Kinda crazy. More on that later too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

HNAFU: Headspace Normal, All Effed Up

The thing about choices, catches, calls, and all things of the sort is that they come with consequences.  We are, of course, usually hoping for the good kind of those, but have to accept all comers, even the unforeseen kind. Which is why hindsight can be a bitch. And not only when what we see in the rearview mirror is a mistake. Uncertainty, as I found out, can be fairly profoundly haunting.

When the Cub was born, he spent a week in NICU, most of it because of an infection. Three weeks before he was born, I spent a weekend in the hospital on magnesium. I remember that when they put the loading bag of mag on, they said the dose would go down after the first bag. It didn't. I knew it was because the contractions didn't slow down yet-- I could read the monitors even if I couldn't feel them anymore. The thing is, though, that along with the IV fluids and the mag, they also gave me antibiotics, since I was presumed to be positive for group B strep-- it grew on the cultures from the amnio Dr. Best did after A died but before his membranes ruptured in the course of that induced labor. I could tell that when contractions didn't slow down soon after they started the mag, the thought was that we'd likely end up delivering that weekend, though it would be nice to make it past the 48 hours needed for steroids to take full effect. And so when contractions did slow down and eventually went pretty much to nil, I was more inclined to credit the antibiotics for presumably defeating the infection I presumed caused the PTL in the first place. We won't, of course, ever know for sure. But even Dr. Best says that my scenario is very possible, and is certainly no less possible than my contractions turning productive for no apparent reason that day.

Barely five days before that weekend at the hospital I wrote here about the crazy of being The Protector, the one person in the universe with the possibility of catching something that would save that baby's life. That weekend it really seemed like I might have. In the rearview mirror though? Things are a lot less clear when viewed from anywhere past point of Cub's delivery. Because see, the math goes fuzzy once the infection he was born in is included in the assessment. Now the assessment goes like this: I caught the PTL that started before 34 weeks, which helped to keep him cooking for those crucial weeks more, weeks he would've likely spent in NICU had he actually been born then. Yay for me! BUT what if he wasn't born when he was? What if the infection NICU ended up kicking in the balls was allowed to keep going on the inside? That could've ended a lot worse than a few weeks in NICU he was looking at had he been actually delivered when PTL hit. He could've died. He really could've died too.

This is the crazy-inducing what if game that I still can't wrap my mind around. This is really why I eventually agreed to see a shrink-- I knew we wanted another baby one day, and two things messed with my head when thinking about potentially trying again. First was that being The Protector was completely exhausting, but that because I did catch the PTL, it felt like I'd have to voluntarily sign up for precisely that level of crazy in any pregnancy that would follow. The other thing was that having made the catch on PTL, I may have set the Cub up for the danger of another infection later on in gestation. Some protector.

This is not resolved in my head to any satisfaction as yet. Though it helps that this has been a less eventful pregnancy in terms of the trips to L&D and happenings that precipitate those. Going into it I knew anxiety would come to stay, and I had to be sort of ok with it. Which I sort of am. But not enough to be zen or anything. And not enough that catching a life-threatening condition in our new puppy didn't then result in major anxiety blowback. Which is really why I am talking about this now-- I am going to tell the puppy story in the next day or two (provided I can stay awake enough to write, and the creek don't rise, of course), and I wanted to explain the headspace in which the crazy that fuels it all resides. The completely fucked up headspace, but the only headspace I've got.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Hanging on...

I am not entirely off the wagon, though obviously I am not entirely on it either. More like hanging on to the sides of said wagon, being dragged through the streets. A lovely sight, really. I blame the tired (I fall asleep way before I intend to what seems like every other day) and the busy. The busy is a lot more fun than the tired, and I plan on talking about at least the last three days worth of busy. I might even have a link to share... For historical reasons, the last three days of busy are also a decently-sized mindfuck, so I need to stew on it for a bit before spewing forth with it.

I also have a couple of puppy posts brewing. With JD away, I feel all the more acutely the charge of, in the words of the fox from The Little Prince, the responsibility for what we have tamed. (Though the degree to which this particular relative of the wolf can be considered tamed differs in my mind from day to day-- I am mostly joking here, and he is getting more and more well-behaved, but he does, still, like to check on whether maybe he can appoint himself to be in charge around here, what with the big dude not being around and all.)

See, I've never had a dog before. Which probably saved this puppy's life a couple of months ago, last time JD was away. And, with a short time delay, resulted in a major anxiety blowback for me. The story will be the topic of the puppy post that's not all cuteness. But given that as background, let me just tell you that I freaked right the fuck out when he started behaving unusually yesterday (including gifting me with the mighty smelly piles in the house-- this from the months-ago-housetrained dog). The vet's office accommodated my panicked phonecall, even though they fully expected him to need at most some meds for stomach/GI issues. And that's all he did end up needing. Well, that and a bland diet, which means that I cooked for the dog more than I cooked for the humans today. He was back to his old self by morning, and I am grateful, even though he's a much bigger handful this way. Actually, this is how you know he's feeling better.

This concludes my post of lame excuses and coming attractions. I, of course, use the term "attractions" loosely. Except for the post with all the puppy pics, of course.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Oh, how fun. I've never had this before, which is why it took me two days to figure out the strange feeling in my throat that seemed to show up out of the blue towards the evening is not the remnants of the Cub's virus. Seems I have myself a new symptom-- heartburn. Bad enough that the other day I ... how should a lady (don't laugh!) say this.... parted with the contents of my stomach in a way I am not too fond of and in a rather swift manner? Something like that, yes. And immediately ran back to the scene of the crime with paper towels lest the puppy get at the remnants of chocolate... because I didn't.. um... make it all the way to the bathroom when that... um...  came up. Sorry, oversharing. That's obviously also a symptom.

Also, because I am slow on the uptake, for the two days I was enjoying the symptoms before figuring out what's up I did not get much sleep. Hence, I crashed like a toddler after a sugar high yesterday. Bad enough that three separate attempts at kick counting all ended the same way-- with me clunked out after two kicks. For good 40 minutes to an hour. I finally got the message on the third go round and went to sleep for real.

Also, it was back, briefly, this afternoon. After I had tea. Which makes me think sad thoughts about the possibility of tea triggering it. So what am I about to do after I post this? If you said "make self a cup of tea," you win. And I am not claiming to be a genius here, though I prefer to think of this as looking for experimental confirmation rather than simply being a dumbass.  Because I am certainly not giving up this habit on the flimsy evidence collected so far. Or, you know, EVAH.

On a separate, unrelated, and much lovelier note, my friend Beruriah had her baby boy yesterday. On what Monkey gleefully pointed out was a mathematically fun 6.6.12 date. If you feel like it, please stop by and congratulate her.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ready and waiting

Lest you think that I lost what little remained of my marbles, let me reassure you-- the title of today's post does not in any way refer to me. It is all about my garden.

Did I tell you that my friend Sam rocks hard core? Well, she does. She is a woman of frightening competence and remarkable achievement. But also? Incredibly nice. And? She likes me enough to go along with many of my crazy schemes. Last year, when she came up here for our college reunion, she stayed a few days after, and, among other things, the two of us entirely redid Monkey's closet. In two days. Like took apart what was in there, caulked, painted, and hung up the new hardware. Oh, and there was much rejoicing.

This time she came out just to see me. And how do I repay her? By asking her to "help" with the garden, by which I mean do most of the physical labor of getting it cleaned up, organized and expanded. And she agreed.

Brief historical diversion. I am not very good at gardening. Two summers ago we put up our first raised beds. And (don't laugh) planted tomatoes in a shallow bed that was mostly in the shade. Predictably, pretty much a fail. Last year, in the new house, we planted tomatoes in a deep bed, though one that still spent a sizable portion of the day in the shade. Cucumbers went into a shallow bed. So did peas and green beans, but the damned bunny made quick work of those, twice. Cucumbers and tomatoes though? We had a lot of them. They were goooooooooooood. And they made me feel so accomplished. I know it was mostly photosynthesis, but hey, I managed to stay out of its way enough to let it do its thing. And I learned a few things along the way. Including that I probably overcrowded the tomato bed, and it might be a better idea to use deep pots for individual plants next time around.  

Back to present tense. It's been raining for days on end. Sam arrived Saturday, but not until today, the day she was leaving, did we get breaks in the rain long enough to reasonably expect to not get soaked while spending a decent amount of time outside. So we pulled all of the grass and random other plants that made their annoying way into last year's shallow bed. And then Sam moved some of the old dirt from the beds into the pots, nine in all. After which we started opening the nags of new soil, to add to and mix with the old, in both the pots and the beds. Altogether we used over 17 cubic feet of soil, most of nine large bags, and Sam lifted, tipped, and shook every single one of them. In her nice jeans. I was only allowed to scoop soil out of open bags to direct the flow.  And now my deep pots and my beds, shallow and deep, are ready and waiting for the seedlings that will be going in tomorrow. And I have one more cubic foot of soil to deal with the smaller pots my sister brought over for me to use-- I think those will end up being herbs.

So I still don't know what the summer will bring. But at least, barring some major fuckups, there will be tomatoes. And cucumbers. And, hopefully, brussel sprouts. And maybe I will try those peas and green beans again-- maybe the bunny won't show up this year with the new puppy's scent all over the back yard.

Also, Sam rocks. No?

Monday, June 4, 2012

34 weeks 4 days

I've been exactly this pregnant four times. Given the time of night though, only three of these have been with a live baby. After tomorrow, which is the gestation at which A was delivered, and provided nothing exciting happens between now and then, it heads downhill. I remember sitting in the doctor's waiting room at my first several appointments of this pregnancy and thinking that it doesn't actually compute that (a) I would get as large as the women there, and (b) if that happened, that it would be for the fourth time.

I'd said for years that I wanted three children. It turned out that what I actually meant is that I'd wanted to raise three children. Not exactly a semantic difference, as it turns out. In the months after A died, one thing that I kept returning to was that I used to think that when it came to the number of children in a family, four seemed like a qualitative jump from three. And suddenly if we still hoped to get to raise three, we were going to end up being parents of at least four. Seemed crazy, as an idea.

So, how do you eat an elephant? Piece by piece, as it turns out. I am this big. And this is my fourth child.

Monkey has this teammate. They were on the team together the first year they were competing. The family left the gym at the end of that season, but they just returned last week. In the middle of a group conversation in the observation room, the mom asked me what number this one is. For the briefest of split seconds I considered a long form answer, but dismissed it in favor of a matter-of-fact "fourth." I am sure at some point she will count those present and be confused. And if she asks, I will tell her.

I expected to be much more of a mess in the last day or so than I've been. Paradoxically, I think it helped to have had an actual concern to deal with today. Yesterday, the Cub woke up with some strange stuff on his skin. We thought it was a mark he left by playing with the dog's leash. But in the afternoon it was clearly a rash, disorganized, irregular, and pretty well all over the place. So off to Children's we went, where they determined the rash to be hives, most likely viral. And since there is one virus that can cause hives and could also cause trouble in the final trimester, they told me to call my practice and report the developments. The Cub got Benadryl and his skin was was clear as day by morning, though something was starting up again tonight, so he's now medicated again.

And I called the practice today and discussed the situation with a triage nurse. She explained exactly how long the wait for test results would be (about five days) and what they would do during the wait (monitor, duh). She also said I could come in today, but because of how long the test takes, she thought it would be fine to wait until my appointment on Tuesday morning. Wanting to cover my bases and because today is, you know, 34w4d, I asked if she'd mind checking with my doctor on whether he approves of the plan. She said sure, and promised to call either way. When she did, a couple of hours later, she sounded really pleased with herself. The word from Dr. Best was that he thought waiting until tomorrow would be fine, though he was surprised that I hadn't been tested for the immunity to the virus before.

And so this nurse went back through my records "all the way back to 2007," as she put it, to find that Dr. Best did test me for it (as part of the post-stillbirth search for clues, I surmise), and that I am, in fact, immune. When I got off the phone with her I was just happy and grateful to be with this doctor and in this practice. I felt supported and cared for. I still would've rather the Cub didn't get sick, but if he was going to, in a weird way, this was pretty good timing for it-- even though JD was on the plane flying across an ocean while we had our little ER adventure, a very good friend was visiting, and she stayed home with Monkey and her playdate. This very same friend also kept me sane today just by being here. And the confidence-building interaction with the practice helped a lot. I was also hoping to garden today, but the drizzle made that not so very attractive. Well, I guess you can't always get what you want. 

Yesterday was the gestational equivalent of the last good day-- the last full day when A was alive, the last day when I was just a pregnant woman with a history of some obstetric complications. Most likely, his fate was already sealed sometime that day. But we didn't know. And so I might've expected a curve ball from yesterday, by which I mean I wouldn't have been surprised to have had my ass kicked by yesterday. I don't think I did. (The Cub's preschool, same one Monkey went to, same one A would've gone to, had an end of the year celebration in the morning. I started crying as soon as they turned on the first song-- a tune I remember from Monkey's time at the preschool,-- and the curtain opened on the row of graduates at the front of the stage. I wasn't picturing him in that row. I think it was the music, actually.) Though the day did manage to make me clunk out without writing last night. Which makes yesterday the one out of seven days that I take off from blogging. Better publish this then, or it will be two in a row...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Known unknowns

This hasn't been an easy pregnancy. Early on it was physically more challenging than the previous ones, except for the nausea, which was better than with either of the boys. But as time went on, physically it has become less hard than the last time around. Not in every aspect (carpal tunnel is definitely worse, for example), but on aggregate I am fairly confident that this is the case. I also feel more compact, move easier, and, to be completely honest, look better than last time. I think most of that can be attributed to the Insanity thing I did last summer. As evidence I proffer my upper arms-- there's actually still some definition there, all these months later. Most importantly, I've only had two visits to L&D so far, and no hospitalizations. With the Cub, at the dates I am now I was newly back from a weekend of mag sulfate and steroids at the hospital.

What has been hard is the uncertainty. Hard isn't even the exact right word here. Exhausting is probably more apt. And by this I don't mean the the global kind of anxiety, the will she or won't she make it kind. That kind I try not to even allow myself to entertain, though I know it's always there. The way I know is that it jumps out of whatever fold dark corner it hides in to grab me by the throat with its cold clammy hand every time I am not sure I've felt enough activity in the last X amount of time. But here I mean more the pedestrian kind of anxiety, where every plan is by default soft and subject to however the hell the day will unfold.

Real contractions started a week earlier than with the Cub, at 28 weeks and one day. That happened to be the day of my first BPP, and Dr. Best was there for it. I joke that I get to call the contractions stupid because they are not doing anything to the cervix. Which, of course, if I am to have contractions, is the way I'd prefer them, thankyouverymuch. And since they are non-productive,  their effect is to annoy me, and to occasionally royally mess up my immediate plans by either causing me to surrender to the couch or to actually send me to L&D.

Each individual episode of sustained contractions is not what is actually exhausting. Sometimes they are, if they impact my ability to sleep. But most of the time it's rather the possibility that a day may include such an episode, or that the amount of activity might decrease enough to cause concern that messes with my head. I get up in the morning with some idea of what I absolutely need to accomplish that day and what would be nice to accomplish. But all of that is against the background of knowing that even absolutely need to is more like hopefully will be able to.

Those absolutely need to items are about immediate and essential needs-- food, transportation, clean dishes. The would be nice to accomplish items are things that make life feel less out of control-- excavate the bedroom, for example (almost finished now; and please don't ask me how long it'd been since we let things begin to pile up in that corner and on that surface and also over there-- it's actually embarrassing), or plant this year's garden (not done, but hopefully Monday), or do all the laundry as opposed to just the most critical load or two, or clear up the sewing/mending pile. I've been making slow, but steady progress through that list since the semester ended. But it's not done, and, realistically, done is well more than a day away.

I think that if I could clear this list, I would feel less anxious in general. I mean checking things off a list is always gratifying, but here especially getting things off the list means they won't need to be done after, however after turns out. But maybe I am kidding myself. Maybe this is just the level of crazy that a pregnancy inspires in me now, and if I solved this bit, I would find that the hum of my inner monitors would pick up to compensate. There's only one way to find out, though, and that is to clear the list and see what happens. If I manage to get that done, I guess we'll find out.   

Friday, June 1, 2012

Department of gripes and observations

Damn, ladies. You sure know how to make a girl feel special. It's really nice to know you haven't kicked my silent ass out of your readers yet. I am firing up my own tomorrow, and will start to catch up with everyone then. Let's see if I still remember how to leave a comment... :)

Meanwhile, I (re)discovered that falling off the blog writing wagon is extremely easy. For example, I nearly rolled off of it in my sleep just now when the little 45-50 minute nap I was allowing myself to take expanded and almost claimed me for the night. (That would've been embarrassing, given my lofty posting goal for the month.) But as they say in the movies and bad sitcomes, I am up, I am up.  Though not enough to get especially thoughtful. So I guess today's post will be brought to you by the gods of small chuckles and unfortunate choices.

Starting with the chuckle. I gave myself one with the juxtaposition of the two books I picked up while shopping last weekend. So I got this

... and also this: 

Um... guess which one's for a book club?

I got them at Costco, along with an assortment of other items, random and not so much. It probably just goes to show that I am easily amused, but the bit that served to amuse me was imagining buying the same two books together online, thereby causing a number of very confused double takes from the hypothetical future customers looking at either of these and seeing the other pop up under "customers who bought this book also bought..."

Transitioning ever-so-gracefully to the unfortunate choices part now. So maybe I am not altogether easily amused because Fifty Shades? It mostly annoyed me. It was picked as the inaugural book for the fledgling book club a friend is starting because it is what "all the girls" are reading now. For the record, that email exchange, where the book club was proposed and the book picked, was the very first time I heard about it at all. Yes, I live under a rock. Why do you ask? (But at least when SNL did a parody commercial featuring the book literally days later I already knew what they were talking about.)

My problem with the book is that it's so very poorly written. It features a narrator who's graduating college with a degree in English Literature. So then why is her language so barren? Why is her vocabulary so limited, why does she utilize the same damned turn of phrase every other page and why, why, why does she repeat words in subsequent sentences or even within the same sentence? Here's the one that made me groan out loud, and I swear I am not making this up. My voice is quiet, unable to hide the anxiety in my voice. No, really, this is in a book. Sold by a major publishing house. A book that made about gazzilion dollars, my $9.99 among them. 

Which is really what burns me-- I paid actual money for this. And, apparently, I am supposed to read the other two books from the trilogy before we meet in two weeks. I am soooooo not paying one red cent more. I am going to be a good sport and read them, but I am planning on borrowing the remaining books. To be fair, email exchanges between the characters are a decent read. But anything that involves even a touch of narration? Teeth-numbing. Too bad I don't have a tooth ache that needs taking care of. (In stark contrast, I started Drift the other day, and ahhhhh... my brain exhaled and said "thank you.")

So spill the beans-- have you read the Shades? Whatdayathink? Either way, see the SNL skit, just not at work.