My Child Is A Brat

Yes. My child is a brat. A smart, loving, kind brat; but a brat nonetheless. And it is our fault.

We let her charm us. We engage in her humor. We allow her to ignore us until we have raised our voices. We let her talk us into the things she wants. We spend every weekend doing child-centered fun stuff regardless of how she has behaved during the week.

She’s essentially taken control since her sister arrived on scene and we are done.  We’ve gotten away from our Love and Logic ways and we need to get back to them.

Today she ordered a movie on Amazon. She is well aware which movies she may select (Prime) and she failed to ask for permission. Since we don’t do allowance, I told her she was going to pay for the movie with her paints. Once she earned them back by doing chores and helping me out, she may have them returned.

(I hope she earns them back quickly, I really want to do this project with her!)

When I explained the consequence for her choice, she laughed at me. She literally laughed, practically in my face.

“No…you’re not taking my paints!” Giggle. Giggle.

Oh, but I am.

And I did.

If having your child laugh at you is not a wake up call, I’m not sure what is.

So, I have on my mom warfare gear. I will only ask once and no more.

Don’t pick up your things?  They’re in the garbage.

Refuse to stay in our yard? You’re inside.

Hop on your scooter sans shoes? The scooter is now in the basement.

Don’t do as I ask? Good luck asking me for anything.

This is war. Grant me strength and perservience.

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New Beginnings

Prior to April of 2014, I was getting healthy. I was eating relatively well and I had worked myself up to running 5Ks. As a former anti-everything physical chick, this was huge for me.

I loved running.  I loved the way I could zone out and get into my head. I loved the way my body felt. I loved slipping into clothes I had pushed to the back of my closet.

Then I got pregnant. While I had planned on running throughout my pregnancy, my body and baby had other ideas.

Very early into my pregnancy, I developed a bleed between my placenta and uterus. I was basically on non-bed rest.

Then I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and was put on insulin.

Thirty-two weeks into the pregnancy, I had an emergency appendectomy followed by an infection requiring five subsequent surgeries and a wound vac. My core was destroyed and I now have a scar from my hip to my bikini area.

Once I got through that ordeal, I developed a hernia the size of a cantaloupe. I had this surgically repaired when the baby was a few months old, but it’s back. It’s still relatively small and it’s more uncomfortable than painful, but I’m likely facing another hernia repair down the road.

My body has had a rough road and it shows. I look back at photos from a year or two ago and I’m ashamed of where I am.

The weight isn’t dropping off as it has in the past. My plateau weight has crept up higher and higher. I’m embarrassed of how I look and how “blah” I feel. 

Thankfully, I’m finally in the state of mind to fix it. I’m finally done with here. I deserve better. I want something different.

I know it will take even more work to get my weight under control and lead a healthy lifestyle, but I want it more than I ever have.

I’m done being ashamed of how I look. I’m done being embarrassed about my unhealthy lifestyle and choices.

I’m taking steps to change my current situation and realizing how much I enjoy actual food. I’m proud of the changes I have made and I’m encouraged and excited about the path ahead.

I’m proud of my wife. She’s not only supported me in wanting to make these changes, but she’s making them with me. We’re leading by example so our children have a better understanding of healthy eating and an active lifestyle. Hopefully we can save them from the battles we have faced regarding our weight and health.

I know I will succeed, and likely fail, along the way. I know it won’t always be easy and enjoyable.

But I know I can do this. I have a dedication I’ve never felt before. I’m making changes because I want to, not because I feel I have to. I’m focused on being healthier and more active, not on what the scale says.

I’m doing this for me because I’m worth it and I deserve to feel as amazing as I possibly can.

I’m doing this.

Home

I have spent a vast majority of my life being somewhere I failed to fit.  The pile of my losses seemed to tower over those things I had managed to gain. I was a floater. There was nothing to hold me down.  There was no anchor. I had no home.

I spent a number of years unmarried, unfamilied and disconnected. I dreaded any questions regarding who I was or where I came from.

Do your parents live in the area? How many siblings do you have?  Where are you spending the holidays?

Floating.

Unanchored.

Homeless.

My past was nothing I cared to share. 

Why did your marriage fail?  Why do you not have contact with your parents?  What do you mean you lost a child?   What type of a person fails at life to that extent? Why don’t you have a home?

I spent a great deal of time trying to ask myself endless questions.  What was wrong with me?  How did I end up so alone, unsupported and lost?  Why was this my life? Why didn’t I have a real home?  How is it I have a place I came from, but nowhere I belong?

And here I sit, at home.

“It’s not where you come from, it’s where you belong.” -The Fosters

It is not fancy or spacious. Our yard is small and the upstairs toilet is a the smallest bit sunk into the floor.  It really is unremarkable in almost every way. But, it gives us shelter and holds us together in one place.

It is my home.

We met at a coffee shop just down the street, but it is closed now.  We played ball for a few summers less than a mile away. We have a favorite ice cream place and a plethora of restaurants to choose from.

Our family is connected to those we love with weekend shenanigans, late nights at the drive-in and little (and not so little) girls navigating friendship.

Those we love are nearby and holiday travel takes mere minutes.  Our daughters have their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins close in proximity. 

This is my anchor.

My wife and I have built a life here and it is a damn good life. Our first date hill, the home we first called our own, the venue where we danced away our wedding night and the hospital where our girls were born. It’s all here.

Here is where I have put down my roots,  spread my wings and finally found my home.  It is not about where I came from or what was left behind.  It is about the life my wife and I have begun and the place where I finally belong.

Anchored.

Secured.

Home.

The Tides Turn

I have never been a morning person. I enjoy sleep way too much to appreciate having it end when the sun comes up.

Once I manage to pry myself out of bed, I prefer to sit with my cup of coffee and slowly wake my brain. This is a virtually impossible scenario with children, although I manage it on occasion.

Bug is the same way. She prefers to snuggle and wake slowly, ideally with hot chocolate or “kid coffee.”

Therefore, it was never even a thought as to when we would do formal sit-down homeschool work. Our sweet spot was after lunch, commonly referred to as “quiet time.”

We did her book work, reading, art, baking, cooking, writing and whatever else was on the lesson plan for the day.

It worked, for the most part. We skipped a few days here and there for fields trips and rare nap days. Of course, it meant I no longer had any quiet time. By the time we were done, it was late afternoon and I had house responsibilities to tend to, dinner to start, etc.

But it worked.

A few weeks ago, Bug asked to do school first thing in the morning. She ate cereal and wanted to get right at it. I was skeptical, but we try to honor our kids’ requests when they make them.

So, I got us coffee and we sat down. She blew through the material, asked for more and completed everything on the plan in less time than she usually did.

When quiet time rolled around, we actually had quiet time! I whipped up my second cup of coffee and we snuggled on the couch reading book after book. 

The next morning, she asked to do school again in the morning. “I really like school in the morning.”

Me too!

Not only do we get her work done, but we have an entire second window in our day for reading, cooking, baking or extra art projects. And she even asks to do work on the weekends now! It seriously rocks.

I don’t know how this happened, but I’m glad it did. We’re loving the new schedule and getting so much more fun, hands on learning done.

You won’t see me jumping out of bed prior to the kids getting up, but I can get used to mornings done this way…especially when our afternoons look like this!

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This Is It

I used to want to be a veterinarian because I could heal the sick animals of the world. But, euthinizaton.

After a few years, I realized it would be so much cooler to fix babies in the womb. (Perineonatology was in its embryonic stage at this point.) But, math.

In my college years, I settled on law. I’d spend my days arguing my client’s position in court.  But, did I want to be a prosecuting attorney or did I lean more towards defending people? I couldn’t decide.

So, I got a two year degree in child development because that was my current field of employment. I enjoyed it, for the most part. The parents could be frustrating, (Sure I will read your six week old son the New York Times every day.) but I lost myself in the writing of lesson plans and finding fun ways to teach kids through play.

Plus, I got to spend my days with my son while I supported us financially. After a few more years in childcare, I took a number of years off to be a stay at home mom.

I loved it. I spent my days with my favorite people, doing my favorite things. We had dance parties before lunch, marathon book reading before naps and I got to continue teaching through play while focusing on my kids’ various therapeutic needs.

After being forced back into traditional employment and then nanny and respite work, I brought my job home so I could raise my babies full time in our own environment.

And I love it.

I found me. I found my groove.

I spend my days coordinating activities, keeping my home in order and teaching my child.

Some would say it isn’t much. I’m too smart to stay home. I have too much potential to do “this.” It’s not medicine of any kind and it isn’t law (although I do get to play judge, jury and jailer on occasion) but I love it. My heart is one hundred percent in it, even on the hard days.

My four year old is learning and I’m the one teaching her. After months of falling to grasp the concept of rhyming, she got it! It clicked!  As we were driving, out of nowhere, she says, “Dress and rest sound the same because they rhyme. Just like bat and cat.”

She got it! She finally got it!

After taking time off from our formal curriculum (due to multiple surgeries, having a baby and a few more surgeries), we’re back on track. We will finish up her pre-school curriculum over the summer and we will move on to Kindergarten work this fall.

This is what I am.

I am a homemaker.

I am a homeschooler.

I am a full time mom.

I breastfeed. I babywear. I cloth diaper. I bedshare. I baby lead wean. I teach my child.

I’m raising an artist, a book reader, a baker and a learner…all rolled into one fantastic human being. I’m letting her be whatever it is she wants to be, so she can become a veterinarian or an accountant. She can choose a job in the field of law or in a classroom. She can put out fires or stay home and raise her babies while teaching them.

Whatever she chooses, I only hope she finds this magical a-ha place of finding herself grown and doing exactly what it takes to find her purpose.

Because I’m not a doctor or a lawyer, but I am loving my job(s) and rocking them enough to feel just as successful as anyone else in any profession they truly love.

This is it and I love it.

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Suck It, Mother’s Day

They started infiltrating my social media over a week ago. Mother’s Day gift guides, miracle stories and my favorite…the articles about motherless adult children who have buried their mom.

I’m sure Mother’s Day is hard when you’ve lost your mom.  I mean, your mom is the first person to love you. She’s there for every major milestone in your life. She’s your freakin’ mom. And if she has passed, it hurts…especially on Mother’s Day.

But my mom isn’t dead.

She is not here, but she’s not dead. She’s never met my youngest two children or my wife. To be frank, she has no idea who I am or what my life entails. Anything she does know about me, she hears second hand or sees on social media.

She’s not the type of mom one mourns. I can’t blame her choices or her absence in my life on any diagnosed mental illness, drug use or a propensity to hit the bottle.

My daughter knows my mother is not a very nice person and she has made some bad choices, so we don’t see her. When asked by an adult, I typically respond that it’s a long story and I haven’t seen or spoken to her in nearly ten years.

Why?

Because my mother isn’t in those articles. She isn’t supportive or unconditionally loving. Instead, she’s manipulative, deceitful and cruel. We have never had a healthy relationship and I don’t believe we ever could. Too much damage has been done. Too many lies have been told.

And don’t tell me, “But she’s your mom!” Don’t tell me you would give anything to see/hug/hold your mom just one more time. Your mom isn’t my mom. And if you’ve reconciled with your mom, great. Good for you. I don’t have that in me.

I have forgiven her for my own sake. I have learned not to base my own worth on her opinion of me. Please don’t insult me by suggesting I try again. Just don’t.

Thankfully, I married a great woman with a great mom who has taken me on as her own. But my mom? My mom doesn’t exist in my life or in any of those articles floating around.

So, if you’re like me, I’m sorry you’re hurting. I’m sorry you got dealt a shitty hand. I’m sorry Mother’s Day doesn’t fit you either.

Thankfully, there are 364 other days in a year and 364 other things to be grateful for.

Catching Up

Well, the baby arrived. She is perfect, healthy (for the most part) and deeply loved. Her birth was short, sweet and healing – something I desperately needed.

That being said, I am eternally grateful I will never be pregnant or give birth again. Ever.

However, I would almost take birthing a small human out my girly parts over a hernia repair recovery. That was pure hellish pain. I am just past three weeks post surgery and I am finally able to sleep in my bed,on my side, after another post-surgical week of sleeping on the couch – while sitting up. I can get off the couch easily and I am starting to live again.

I’m far from pain free, but I would classify things as uncomfortable, rather than painful. I’m just glad I no longer have a basket-ball sized lump on my hip. Interestingly enough, not only were my intestines pushed through my weakened abdominal wall, but so was one of my ovaries. This intrigues me, as do the pre and post repair photos my surgeon took of my insides and gave to me.

My surgeon was also kind enough to revise my appendectomy scar and removed quite a bit of extra skin which was stretched out by my hernia.

While I won’t be caught dead in a bikini any time soon (or ever) I no longer feel like a physically deformed freak. I kind of think my lovely seven inch scar gives me a bit more character.

I’m anxious to get approval to begin running again. I’m below my pre- pregnancy weight and excited to see what happens when I become active after so much stagnation. My body wants to move. My soul needs the solitude.

I need to feel more attractive. Human. Healthy.

The last four months have tested me physically, emotionally and psychologically. I not only had a child, but I endured numerous surgeries, a wound vac, insulin controlled diabetes and complete helplessness.

There wasn’t a single aspect of my life left untouched. I often hear “I don’t know how you did it.” But I just did. There was no other choice. It was ugly and painful. There were moments I was unrecognizable and weak. I hated so much of it.

I have a newfound respect for diabetics and those with chronic pain or debilitating illnesses. It wears you down and changes your life. It has made me come to terms with my mortality…and that is terrifying.

Trying times truly leave you with a strong view of who people really are and I have new eyes. I’m grateful for so many things, both good and bad.

And now it is time to take stock and move forward. It is time to reevaluate and re-center. Life may not have waited for me, but I didn’t miss a whole lot.

Playing catch-up should be a breeze manageable over the next few weeks. I need to get this train back on track to our normalcy…likely just in time for more change.

Wish me luck!

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Knock On Wood

I have been trying to get myself mentally prepared for another hospital stay and all that goes along with having a baby. Slowly, I am adjusting to the fact that it’s going to happen. I can’t avoid it any more than I could my appendicitis or the subsequent surgeries/infection.

Had I not had these recent medical experiences, I wouldn’t even bat an eye at facing another labor and delivery. But the last six weeks has shaken me up in ways I never could have dreamed of.

Sometimes life hands you crap and you just have to deal with it. There are no shortcuts or easy ways out. That’s just how it is and I have to accept that.

Recent health aside, this baby is coming and I can be fearful and anxiety-ridden or I can be accepting and mentally prepared.

When my current youngest was born, I had few expectations regarding her delivery.  It had been fourteen years since I had given birth (at nineteen years old) and I didn’t recall a whole lot of that experience. This time, I had a “wish list”, but I was flexible and open to going with the flow.

Looking back, her labor and delivery weren’t horrible. The experience was far from ideal and I had my share of complications, but she arrived healthy and safe.

I don’t actively remember the parts I’m fearing with my current pregnancy, such as the IV, potentially having my water broken, a possible epidural, the lovely catheter and the act of actually pushing a child out of my body; but my recollection is clear enough to add in a bit of hesitation with it all.  Add in the fear of a cesarean section and I’m tempted to stay pregnant..forever.

But I’m getting there. I’m beginning to believe it will all be okay. Maybe the fog of the last six weeks is lifting. I no longer feel hopeless, helpless or lost. I feel stronger.

I’m physically healing and the more I get done around our home, the more settled I feel. I’m beginning to believe, once again, that I can do this.

Pain is temporary. It serves a purpose. My body was made for this. They call it “labor” for a reason and it’s not like this is my first rodeo.

Hopefully I can dodge any further curve balls and stay on my positive path of preparation. One way or another, this baby is coming and it’s up to me to choose how I’m going to frame my view of events.

After all, this a pretty good incentive:

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The December Of Hell

I wound up in the ER on December first. What I thought was out of whack blood sugar ended up being appendicitis.

After an inconclusive MRI, the surgeon went in and removed the buggar. Because I was 32 weeks pregnant, laprascopy was out of the question and I had a traditional appendectomy.  When I woke from surgery,  I was only interested in whether I was still pregnant (yes) if someone let my wife know I was out (yes) and if I actually had appendicitis (yes.)

When they wheeled me back to my room, they got the wheels of my bed stuck in the elevator door tracks and maintenance had to use a hydraulic lift to get me out. I would have laughed had it not hurt so badly to do so.

Surgery really pissed off my uterus and I went into preterm labor for twenty-four hours. I was contracting every 2-3 minutes and they started taking about lung developing medications. Thankfully, my uterus chilled out and the baby decided to stay put. They sent me home after a few nights.

One week later, my incision began leaking a God-awful smelling fluid when I got up to go to the bathroom. At first, I thought my water broke. My wife threw up in the garbage from the stench.

The nurse on call told us to cover the incision with a feminine hygiene pad and asked how quickly I could get to the ER.

After we arrived, I endured some poking, prodding and two IV’S (my potassium was seriously low)  before they sent me back into surgery.

When they wheeled me into the hallway outside the operating room, I freaked out. The appendectomy was my first surgery since my breast reduction in 1998. When he put me out, the anaesthesiologist literally choked me long enough for me to still be able to speak THREE sentences. He didn’t prepare me for the practice and it terrified me. I was anxious over it happening again.

I may have started crying.

I expressed my fear and they explained the practice, why it’s done, etc. I was also assured the new anaesthesiologist would talk me into dream land and wait longer to apply pressure to my trachea to prevent aspiration. This time, I was completely unaware when the procedure was done.  Both the surgeon and anaesthesiologist were amazing and it was a much more pleasant experience.

When I woke up, they had removed a lot of dead tissue from my abdomen and extending into my back.

Thankfully, my uterus behaved.

I was now sporting a lovely wound vac to heal my incision from the inside out. This vac would also pull out the infection and promote healthy tissue growth. My incision was approximately seven inches long, two inches wide and five or six inches deep.
The very next day, I had a second surgery to remove more dead tissue and replace the wound vac bandages. My infection wasn’t reacting to my antibiotic, so they changed it.

Forty-eight hours later, I had a third surgery which began under conscious sedation. They needed to make sure all the infected tissue was removed as well as change the bandages on/in my wound. When I began hitting the nurse who was monitoring the baby, they put me under general anesthetics. I was completely unaware any of this happened until I was told after the fact.

With a wound vac, the bandage change procedure needs to be repeated three times each week. The goal was to get me healed enough to do the changes in the clinic instead of having to be put under. My fourth change was done under conscious sedation, but I was completely unaware of anything going on.

They sent me home after nearly a week. The next bandage change was done in the operating room and I was aware and felt every horrifying move. They removed the tape, pulled out the “sponge” they pack the wound with and then put in a new sponge, vac and tape.

It was hell, but it was my last operating room change.

However, even with oral pain meds and topical numbing medication, the next two weeks of changes (in the clinic) were the stuff nightmares are made of. I started crying the night before each change and cried through the entire process a time or two.

I was miserable.

My four year old often told me, “I miss my old Mommy. I don’t like your cut.” She even came to me, crying, carrying a photo of her Mama and I.  “Will you ever be THIS Mommy again?”

It shattered my damn heart.

I was broke. I was depressed. I felt hopeless. I was scared I would lose the baby. I faced my own mortality and what that would mean for my wife and my children. I felt completely alone, useless and lost.

I couldn’t work, clean, homeschool or cook. Hell, I couldn’t even wipe myself and I often peed my pants.

I lost my shit.

Slowly, things began to get better. I could get up with less pain, I could get some basic household chores done and my clinic appointments began to hurt less and less.

Today, five weeks later, they removed my wound vac. To add some more spice, I have a suspected hernia, which I was warned was a possibility after major abdominal surgery…especially with a quickly expanding baby belly.

The surgeon doesn’t feel it will impede my labor/delivery, but we will see what my OB thinks. I’m terrified of having to have a cesarean section, much less a hernia repair (which also has a “difficult” recovery, but not as rough as what I have already experienced.) I’m essentially terrified of giving birth and enduring more pain, even if I do get a baby out of it all.

I’m scared. As hard as it is to admit that, I am. I doubt my ability to get through it, even though this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m sure this comes from the trauma of the events in the last six weeks.

I just never want to be back in the hospital.

This isn’t how I wanted to look forward to birthing my last child. This isn’t how I wanted to think or feel about what’s to come. This isn’t the way I wanted things to be.

I’m stressed by all we still have to get done to welcome this baby in less than three weeks. I’m still healing. I’m still slow. I’m still sore. Then there’s the normal third trimester exhaustion.

So, yeah. December has not been kind and January is full of fear and anxiety.

I will be happy when this is all far, far behind us and I can be happy, healthy and pain free. For now, I take it day by day. I do what I can. I try to be kind to myself. I hold it together as well as I can. Some days I succeed better than others.

I keep telling myself there is another side to this and I will get there…eventually.

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My lovely wound vac.

Now With Gestational Diabetes

As far as gestating is concerned, I’m old. I get it. I mean, I’m not ancient, but I have the lovely “advanced maternal age” thing going against me.

Ironically, I’ve felt better and gained less weight than I did with my pregnancy four years ago. Therefore, I was surprised when I failed my one hour glucose test. A few days later, I was pissed when I failed the three hour one as well.

A week ago, they diagnosed me with gestational diabetes and put me on a carb counting eating plan. I began eating better and checking my blood sugar four times a day. It wasn’t exactly my idea of a good time, but it wasn’t horrible. I took it as an opportunity to eat healthier.

I was pretty optimistic until I started checking my blood sugar. I was almost NEVER in the range they wanted, even though I was eating the low end of my allotted carbs.

I had my follow up appointment today. The good news is, I lost two pounds and she said I ate very well…but my numbers suck. And not borderline suck, but suck suck.

I am now on two different types of insulin, so I get to jab myself four times a day in addition to checking my blood sugar.

In short, my pancreas is an asshole and I’m pouting.

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*A few days after I wrote this post, I had my appendix removed. My increasing numbers were the result of an infection no one could have possibly known about.