Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I *heart* Jeff Lewis

As much as I would LOVE to talk about how Thomas will eat and not spit up (but won’t sleep) or how I feel my engorged milk ducts feel like they are going to explode, I need a break from all this reality to talk about an alternative reality; the reality of Jeff Lewis.

For those who don’t know who Jeff Lewis is, he is the main character of Bravo TV’s reality show Flipping Out. He is so neurotic, bossy, and over the top interior designer who used to flip houses. I LOVE him! He’s the kind of person who needs all his cupboards organized in alphabetical order while being aesthetically pleasing. He hires these assistants that he can boss around. Sidebar: When I see these assistants, and those of Kathy Griffin on My Life on the D-List, I think, “Damn, I missed my calling. I would be such a good assistant. At least if I was an assistant, it would be clear where I would be on the food chain of commands, unlike when I was a teacher.” But I digress.

What I love about Jeff is that he is unapologetic for being himself. He acts like his crazy way to order a drink for lunch (12% Sprite, 73% lemonade, and 15% ice tea or something neurotic like that) is totally justified. Being on the receiving end of that would be totally annoying, but being Jeff would totally rock!

This past episode he commented on his personal growth. Jenni, his assistant who is now dating after a horrible divorce, was suppose to go on a blind date later to only find out that he was in a relationship ready to be engaged. Jeff said that maybe he saw Jenny’s picture and wasn’t interested. He said he had grown because he would never say that to her face as he may have done in the past. Way to go, Jeff!

Here are a few examples when I could have been a bit more Jeff Lewis:
When Harrington was running late bringing home the chicken to the christening party because his Dad’s wife made them go all the way home to let the dog out I could have said, “I need the chicken here now, Harrington’s Dad. There is a house full of people, and we need to eat our 53% breast, 41% thigh, 12% drumstick, and 2% wing order NOW DAMN IT!”

When Marie wants to watch her 10th hour of Imagination Movers and screeches, “I don’t wanna turn off the TV! I could say, “It’s a great day at Mommy on the Spot’s office, and we can’t have this negative attitude. Please turn it around or go home.”

When Thomas doesn’t want to nap longer than 20 minutes, I could say, “I have you scheduled for an hour and a half nap. I need you to go back to sleep, and I’ll have my assistant come pick you up when you are done.”

Not to mention what I wouldn’t do for Zoila, his housekeeper! Please, Zoila, if you are looking for another house to clean and organize, consider me!! And Jenni, if you are looking for a new friend, I love you and how you can put up with Jeff’s shit with a smile! Please teach me!

Well, enough day dreaming (actually night dreaming, but since I’m not sleeping, it’s still day dreaming). Now off to pour myself a nice glass of wine, put some fresh cabbage leaves in my sports bra, and read Healthy Sleep Habit, Healthy Child.

Good night!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Death by Fire or Water: Thoughts of a Worried Mom in the New Children’s Wing of Beaumont Hospital

Last Wednesday, I headed out to the new Emergency Room Children’s Wing of Beaumont Hospital. Right before “the incident” happened, I was just telling someone how well everything was going with Thomas. Then it was nap time, and he was a bit fussy, understandably. So I laid him in his crib because sometimes he just cries for five minutes and falls asleep. I was listening to the monitor, and all of a sudden I heard nothing. Then I heard thrashing and gasping. I ran in there and saw that he had vomit, not a little bit of spit up, but a whole tummy full of vomit all over. It was in his nose and mouth and he was pale as a ghost. Once he caught his breath, started to cry and then stopped crying, he was lifeless, despondent, and had a rattle in his chest. My doctor told me to go the ER since he may have aspirated on his vomit. I think my exact words after I hung up the phone were, “Holy fukc! I can’t believe it!” In my mind, I thought we had really turned a corner with the Dr. Brown’s bottles, the change back to Similac Early Advance Shield, and Mylocin gas drops. (And if any reps from these products would like to donate their products for free advertising, I would happily accept).

Thomas’s pulse oxygen levels were good, and he was eating fine. The doctor did not think he suffered a seizure (which freaked me out even more because that was not radar of things to worry about). As Harrington and I waited for his chest x-ray results, I cried. Not because I didn’t think Thomas wouldn’t be OK because my gut was saying he was going to be fine. But I cried because I felt sad that nothing about either one of my babe’s infancy has been easy. It has been death by water or fire.

Marie had been death by water. Because of her big head and low tone, we didn’t know if she was going to have cerebral palsy. We didn’t know if she would need leg braces and a walker. We didn’t know if she would need a shunt in her head for hydrocephaly. There were all these unknowns, and they weighed on me like someone had fit me for a pair of cement shoes and thrown me in a river. It was horrible and sickening and robbed me of almost any happiness that a baby brings. In the back of my mind, I couldn’t help but think I did something to cause this and she was going to suffer for the rest of her life because of me. It was hard to push through and take care of her and her special needs. I literally felt like I was drowning.

When Thomas was born, I knew how important it is to live in the moment since I lost a lot of happy times with Marie worrying about her. When he was born, I was sooo in love with him the moment I saw him. When he nursed successfully right way, I thought we were out of the woods with any feeding issues. At six weeks, he had his first nursing strike. It was so scary because he would not stop screaming for over an hour and refused to eat. Every few weeks things, he would go on these nursing strikes. Then when he would eat, he would bob on and off. He wouldn’t get enough to eat or take in too much air, and then he would cry for 2 hour stints. This went on for all of July and most of August. So we tried a bunch of different things to see if they would work. Sometimes they did, and sometimes they didn’t. But the crying felt like I was dying by fire; this was an immediate problem that needed to be fixed NOW! Not a let’s-see-how-things-progress sort of manner, but a fix-this-now-DAMN IT! kind of manner. Not to mention Marie was starting to get really annoyed with all this crying and attention he was getting.

I cried because it’s not fair that I haven’t had an easy time. I know, I know; life is not fair. I was just hoping for a break. I think I need to adjust the way I look at things. Life, especially one with babies, is all about moments. There were a lot of moments in waiting to see if my baby girl was going to be physically handicapped and there were a lot of moments in a two hour block of crying. But they are all moments, and they all passed. And somewhere amongst all those heart-stopping, gut-wrenching moments, there were some happy ones in there too. If I really looked hard through my tired and puffy eyes.
When that moment of crying in the ER passed, I had some other random thoughts:

-Wow, this new wing is very nice. It is definitely not the same ER I took Marie to when she wouldn’t stop vomiting. The underwater theme is very soothing.

- Shit, I forgot to order the chicken for the Thomas’s christening party!
Since that ER visit, Nathan has been doing better. I have not yet exhaled, though, because I am trying very hard to keep these good moments going. I ordered the chicken for the party which was three days after the ER visit. I don’t know how I did it, but the christening and the party with 25 of our closest relatives were a success. Go team!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Don’t You Know Who I Am?!?!

I love how celebrities use that line when they want something and think the person is just going to give them whatever they want because of who they are. They say it with such clout and fierce sense of self-entitlement. It’s so pompous and asinine. That’s why I think it’s funny, when Thomas had been crying for his second straight hour in the middle of the night, and I had the urge to yell over his screams, “Don’t you know who I am?!?!” Like he should care!

Let me back up first. Thomas created a nice, little schedule for himself when he was first born. He ate every three hours (which I thought was great for a breast-fed baby), and he slept through the night (11-5) around two months. And then he turned three months, and it’s like he said, “Yeah, this isn’t working for me anymore. I’m not getting enough face time around the hours of midnight and 5 am. So see you guys then.” Actually it’s a bit more complicated than that. He would go on these nursing strikes and arch his back and cry. My fast letdown was causing too much air intake. This would cause him not to eat enough, which would cause him not sleep, which would cause some pretty horrible crying fits. So I pumped and gave him a bottle, which turned into half breast milk and half Similac Advance, which turned into all formula. (The guilt I felt from that broke my heart on top of all this other drama, guilt that would be best shared in another post). And when that didn’t work, the doctor said he probably had acid reflux and put him on Prevacid and Mylanta Supreme. The Mylanta Supreme didn’t work, so the doctor said I had a fussy baby. I agree, but I don’t think he’s fussy because he likes to cry; I think there is a reason. So I changed to Dr. Brown’s bottles, Nestle Good Start Formula, and Mylocin drops. That day went so well! He didn’t cry when he ate, he napped pretty well, and smiled a lot. I thought I finally figured out all the pieces to his very complicated puzzle. Until 1:30am last night. He woke up cooing which quickly turned to crying. For two hours. I didn’t think he was hungry since he ate at 10:30 pm, but after two hours of trying everything, he ended up eating 3 ounces, fell asleep, and then was up again at 4:30 am for another fifteen minutes. But during that two hour jag, I felt like screaming, “Don’t you know who I am?!?! I used to be someone! I was a teacher, the head of the English Department! I have a Masters in the Art of Teaching! I have traveled the world! I am good at what I do!” However if you uncover all the layers of misdirected anger, it would really read, “What am I doing wrong? I want you to be happy! I don’t want you to be a miserable boy who ends up acting out, and then people say, that’s a boy for you. I want you to be understood and happy. I am usually successful at the things I do. I am trying so hard. I feel like I am failing you. And that makes me feel so guilty!” But at 3:00am, things come out a little angrier due to lack of sleep.

And I know I am somebody. I’m a Mom (although I don’t like to be painted solely with that brush because I like to think I have an identity aside from that, but taking care of an infant and a three year old there is little time for anything else), and that’s a really important job. I have worked long enough as a junior high school teacher to see the products of horrible parenting. So maybe I’m projecting some of my fears, but hey, I haven’t slept a whole night on a consistent basis in almost a year. Sleep deprivation can do some crazy things to my perspective. I just want to be a good mom to my babes; and right now, that is the last thing I am feeling.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Put a Dress on and Show Up

Last Sunday, my DH and I celebrated our six year anniversary. I thought about the day of our wedding. I remember how much fun it was getting ready and how beautiful I felt, and six years and two kids later, how opposite I feel like that now. Tired eyes from no sleep and nursing boobs have a way of impacting my self image in a negative way, go figure. Anyway, all nostalgia aside, this was definitely a “for worse” year. As my Mom says, years like this build our history together as couple.

- Right before our five year anniversary, we found out I was pregnant with NT. We were so excited!! And then my Friday sickness kicked in, which is a lot like morning sickness, but way worse than the morning sickness I had all week. Literally, I was sick every Friday. And once I was really lucky to end up going to the hospital due to dehydration. (Hmm, that sounds so Hollywood, but it was actually really gross). The ER is no place for a sick pregnant lady, that’s for sure. But I survived, and DH came up with a great way to cheer me up: Take me to see Kathy Griffin for my birthday . . . yeaaa! (As you will see, this was one of the few high points).

- In attempt to make more room in our 1500 square foot house and convert our office into NT’s bedroom, we decided to finish the basement. Ourselves. And by ourselves, I mean my DH and my Dad with the occasional help from my FIL and BIL. My DH promised it would be done by January. But as everyone knows (even me who’s father seemed was always remodeling something while I growing up), it always takes twice as long and costs twice as much. It is just about done. . . . seven months later. It was sheer hell waiting for the basement to be done. I had some serious nesting urges that could not be squelched because the office stuff was in the soon-to-be nursery and could not be moved until the basement was done enough. *shudder* All I can say was that there were some primal screams from both parties. It should also be said no one should mess with a pregnant lady and her natural instincts. I felt like the declawed cat from Meet the Parents. He had the urge to pee, but couldn’t since he was potty trained, so he dug throughout all the house plants. I hope you get the picture.

- DH started a new job last summer under the pretense that he would be working from home. Then he got a new boss who wanted him to work at the office that was over an hour away. So now instead of having him home all the time, which was no good, he was never home, which was no good either. And when he was home, he was the crabbiest I had ever seen him. Ever. That was until he lost his job.

- DH lost his job six weeks after NT was born. I was dying inside thinking of no money, no health insurance. Losing a job in Michigan is NOT a good thing. We have friends that have been out of work for at least six months. NT has a surgery scheduled in September. GM is starting preschool in the fall. We were freaking out. He felt like he let us down as a provider. I felt like I could not be super supportive because I was only six weeks out of having a baby by C-section and an emotional wreck. This was a very dark time in our relationship with the basement being a very close second.

- Another upswing is that DH did end up getting three job offers and accepted a job super close to home. We also have awesome health care along with a huge cut back in his pay check. But he got a job, and I was damn proud of him!

- NT has been difficult since month three. I feel like I am loosing my mind, and my DH doesn’t always understand how tough it can be. Which is why I’m sure he decided to go away for four days on a golf outing with his friends. In the midst of trying to figure out why NT has trouble eating and sleeping, DH goes five hours away without his own car and no cell phone reception to play golf and drink with his college buddies. I almost begged him to come home if I wasn’t so mad I could barely look at him.

So that was our year. On our anniversary, I put on a dress, and we went out for dinner, and had dessert at our old Dairy Queen. To be honest, I was too exhausted to go out, but I just had to push through and show up. But marriage is like that. I have to forge ahead believing there will be “for better” years, too. I also believe that if I show up, it’s got to get better. And looking at the past few days, it has. So here’s to a “for better” year.