Oh autumn! Oh teakettle! Oh Grace!

Well, somehow my goal to write more often turned into 3 months of dead air. I’m blaming it at least partially on the pseudo seasonal depression I get in the summer. I mean, it’s not seasonal depression in the traditional sense but it does hit me every summer like clockwork. I lose my motivation and it’s hard to find a lot of joy. I hate sweating and I feel bad about my body and having always been the type of kid who needed school to be socially fulfilled, I have deep memories of mostly being lonely.

But now it’s fall, and everything is better in the fall, especially in the Pacific Northwest, where it is actually fall-like for most of the season. In Colorado, it can be 85 degrees on one day in October and 40 and snowing a few days later and you know what? That is summer + winter, not fall. But here, it’s been in the low to mid 70’s for the last month-ish and now it’s dipping into the 60’s. We are starting to get rain, yes, but there are also lots of days that are sunny and crisp. And so I feel alive again.

But I missed some things, of course. The biggest is that ANGUS TURNED ONE! Which is, obviously, a pretty big deal, because it means we kept two children alive, stayed married and are even semi-sane while doing so after a full year. And it has been a year. I do think we are coming to a clearing, finally, but it’s been rough. And Gus is still a terrible sleeper and has awful separation anxiety that only L (and occasionally me) can soothe. But, he’s a solid healthy weight (20 lbs at his 1 year check and definitely bigger now) and is getting more independent (though he still loses his mind when you leave his sight) which means we have a little less to worry about, anyway. And the thing is, I imagine he may always been a little more ‘challenging’ in these respects than Ansel was/is. Ah, learning that your children are actually two very different people, a lesson that you seem to always need to re-learn . . .

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Angus isn’t walking quite yet, though he’s taken a handful of steps a bunch of times, and happily stands without support for minutes at a time. I think his inability is more lack of motivation/confidence. He gets around really fast with his scoot-crawl, so I don’t know that he sees the utility of walking quite yet. Still, we invested in some (adorable) boggs rain boots for him since he’ll undoubtedly need them at some point this season. Also: baby boots. He eats whatever you put in front of him and usually asks for more of whatever it is. Special love for strawberries, green beans, Juanita’s sweet-chili chips and chicken. May he always eat so well. He went from basically being unable to pick anything up to using his pincher grasp like a champ. Enjoying eating has definitely eased the concerns about weight. He’s also now drinking milk (cow and almond) in addition to nursing, which is much more affordable than the formula supplementing we were doing.

But OMG this kid can talk! He’s always been very vocal and made a lot of noise, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he’s picked up words easily. He says “hot dog” (thanks, Mickey Mouse), “Ansel,” “Dog”, “Mama/Mommy,” “more,” “apple” (which is what he calls all fruits), “bye” and “hi”, “all done” and . . .more! He’ll repeat so many things once, but these are his everyday vocab words. Dude has a lot to say.

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Ansel started outdoor preschool and is LOVING it. It’s 5 days/week from 8:30-12:30, different from last year which was only 2 days and only 1 hour 45 minutes a day.  We really needed him to have more interaction and just, you know, STUFF to do than L can provide as a stay at home parent with a clingy ass baby as well. It’s a very different feel from the co-op – I’ve only really talked to one of the other families, and that’s because I stalked everyone on FB and found the only other two mom family and basically made them be our friends. I’m sure the system of just dropping off and going, and utilizing the FB class group to mostly just look at cute pictures of your kid is pretty standard. But in the co-op, folks who weren’t working would just hang out, and we really created a community of people. I miss that AND I’m very glad Ansel is in his current school.

Ansel is also currently in both food therapy and speech therapy. The food therapy started in the summer and is focused on helping him expand his palette and try new things. It’s been pretty successful, though that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily eating all kind of exotic foods! We’ve added a few items to his list (including sunbutter, which was necessary for school lunch!) and he’s gotten more ok with trying new things. He’s still incredibly ‘picky’ and as likely to spit or vomit as not, but I am seeing things change. I’ll hope it continues. He also has days where he basically just shuts down because it’s just too hard for him to do.

Speech therapy is focused on articulation. Ansel has a LOT of words, and a lot of long and complex sentences. The problem is, not many people can understand him. L and I probably get 50-60%, strangers are much less. He gets so sad and frustrated when we can’t understand him, though he’s gotten very creative about explaining what he means using other words. (ex: he said “I want a sister!” but we couldn’t understand “sister” because his “s” is a mess. So he said, “you know, a baby girl!” ahhhh . . .of course! Also, what?!?!)  The therapist said he definitely needs some support and while he might get there with some of it eventually, it’s easier to work with now and just avoid there being a more complicated issue down the line. He seems to enjoy this much more, but he’s only been going a few weeks so it’s hard to tell if its making much difference.

L performed her 10 minute solo piece, created during her fellowship, in August and it was incredible. She’s scheduled to do two additional solo festival performances in October and November, and has been working on getting more of her script developed. It’s really a lovely show exploring gender and parenting and bodies, and I wish all of you could see it! That said, she’s likely to take it to some festivals around the country when it’s really done – Portland and Denver almost certainly – so I’ll keep y’all updated.

She’s also been continuing to look for work and had, for real, some of the shittiest luck ever. For example, she sent her resume and cover letter for a position with a small Arts non profit. The ED e-mailed her back the next day, asking for an interview the following week. Unfortunately, the next week we were going to be in Florida, so she replied and let the ED know she couldn’t do next week but was super excited and would love to come another time. And she just never heard back . . .even though the job description said interviews weren’t for another two weeks, even though she called and e-mailed to follow up . . .just, nothing. AYFKM? Other jobs sound great but the pay is barely enough to cover childcare. She had an interview for a job at Evergreen State College on Monday. It could be good and there’s an onsite daycare for $1200/month (a steal!) that Gus could maybe go to but it’s pretty far out and the daycare wouldn’t be an option for Ansel. So . . .who knows? I know she’s feeling frustrated and shitty about herself. It’s so hard not to let messages about how much money we make and our worth impact us, even when we don’t want them to.

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Last week I had a video EEG to try and, once again, discover WTH is happening when I randomly lose consciousness. I spent three nights and almost 4 days hooked up to a bunch of different monitors, unable to leave my bed without someone in the room (seriously, there was an alarm) and . . .nothing happened. The neurologist said that it is not epilepsy so . . .that’s good? But she thinks it’s “sleep attacks” and I am really sure that I am not falling asleep while walking to the bathroom at work, you know? Whatever. The search continues, I guess.

 

Our trip to Florida to visit L’s mom was . . .kind of boring. We both thought her mom would have more ideas about keeping the kids entertained (lord knows I don’t know anything about Cape Coral!) but mostly, we sat around a lot. The red tide kept us away from the beach, and lack of $$ kept us away from a lot of other stuff. So we sat and sweated and went to some parks and swimming but I was a little like . . .we travelled 8 hours in a flying tin can with two children for this? I always love seeing my MIL, though, and her new house is great. We just know now to 1) not come in the summer (oh god the sweating) and 2) plan ahead on our own a little more.

Because we want our annual travel plan to include Florida in the late winter/early spring, and Colorado in the fall (to avoid the Christmas drama), and we managed to do the exact opposite of that this year (went to CO in March), we decided to do a quick trip to visit my family in late October to get back on track. Hopefully my mom will continue to stay out of the hospital and it won’t be another trip where I leave feeling shitty about my family relationships.

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Finally . . .the day before we leave for Denver, we will finalize our second parent adoptions. Despite getting some really generous $$ from some friends (thanks, y’all know who you are), we were still unable to afford the process for both kids – namely, the social worker fees which were going to be a minimum of $1000 – though that wouldn’t include any lawyers fees and would mean doing everything pro se and hoping it all worked out. A few months ago, I happened to see that the local LGBTQ bar association was going to run a clinic allowing a small number of families to get the process done for significantly less, thanks to volunteer lawyers and social workers, allowing us to pay only incidentals and filing fees which we could, thanks to our friends again, afford. We’ve spent the last 6 weeks filling out invasive forms (sure, I’ll tell you all about my mental health and explain why I don’t have any stocks or bonds and also here’s the equity in my house . . .) but we’ve also had lovely, supportive people working with us. On October 26th, all of the families who worked with this clinic will have their adoption decrees finalized and all the anxiety about what the narcissist in chief might do next will, at least, be tempered with a modicum of security for our family.

 

And that’s where I’m gonna stop before I devolve into a political rage-cry mess. Maybe next time for that.

 

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Woof. (the dog days)

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing, but not doing a lot of it. I like to have a through-line here, to keep things updated – this has always been a foible of mine when journaling – and at the same time, I want to be real, thoughtful, deep energy into some topics. Usually, I get so caught up in the day-to-day that I end up running out of energy for the bigger stuff. It ends up being a tracker of sorts. That’s not without it’s benefits (this blog has been the best dramaturgical tool available for L’s show development) but it misses out on what I often enjoy the most.

There are reasons I want to write but cannot. The biggest of those is that I haven’t felt so great about things emotionally for a while. I genuinely believe I have a sort of seasonal depression that comes around in the summer. Obviously, in my case it’s not linked to dropping vitamin D levels and missing the sun since there is plenty of that right now (quick, save it up!) I think it’s much more linked to the seasonal shift which, for most of my life, wasn’t great. My summer’s were usually lonely (I was much better socially at school and less so with interacting outside of that context), I don’t feel as good in my body when I’m sweaty and wearing shorts, things just feel stagnant.

But, I’m trying to break that spell. And to do it, I’m going to try and commit to writing what I’m thinking and feeling more than I write what I am doing and what has happened. From an audience perspective (which isn’t, and hasn’t ever been, the primary purpose of this blog) most of you who read this are also my friends on Facebook, and I’m pretty decent at updating there. And while I might miss some of those quotidien moments that I have appreciated being able to look back on, I often wonder what other things I’ve lost in needing to stick to a reporting of the facts.

For now . . .

  • L has been in her Emerging Artist Theater program for a few weeks now. the first week was 5 days/week from 10-6 (realistically this meant 8:30-7 when commute is factored in) and since then, it’s been T/Th/Sa. So I have had a small excursion into stay at home parenting (incredibly limited especially as compared to my long suffering spouse) and it has become incredibly clear that this is not something I want to do as my primary role. I am in awe of folks who do it on the regular because it is beyond exhausting, mentally trying, incredibly lonely and, in general, has made me doubt my ability to parent well.
  • I have been thinking a lot about the baby #3 question. For the record, we are still a year + out before there would be any real movement towards a third kid but, it’s been on my mind. The logistics, sure (getting embryos from CO to WA, or doing a FET in CO or . . .) and the timing (definitely not happening until Ansel is in school full time!) But also . . .the judgement people will have (we have only mentioned it in passing and it’s still intense), my vacillation on the issue entirely (it feels emotionally clear to me that our family should have 3 kids; it is also enturely true for me that two children has been grueling and that doesn’t seem likely to be so different with three); the inevitable question of money.
  • Bodies and mortality and aging. OH god. I can’t even do that right now. I’m just putting this here as a placeholder. I feel really old.
  • How deeply sad I am that my mom never seems to ask questions about my kids, or about me. How she is still insistent that we come to them because it’s “easier” even though OMFG it definitely isn’t. Just how much I want to have a really meaningful relationship with her and how it’s just really not going to happen. That lack, the loss of my belief it could be possible, the realization that it just won’t ever be what I want it to.

Clearing

It would appear that we are once again back to our normal – still exhausting, still often treading water, but able to breathe and even enjoy the water occasionally. Thank 7lb 5 oz baby Jesus!

  • Everyone is now (mostly) healthy! HFM has been vanquished! I have stopped hacking! L did manage to tweak her back on Wednesday but has been very slowly (with the help of acupuncture and muscle relaxers) been getting function back. I really really really hope that we stay relatively sickness free or, at the very least, manage to do some better turn taking with any future sickness.
  • My job got reclassified!!! I didn’t get word until exactly 4 weeks after the panel, and only after a little drama (the HR guy told me I’d hear no later than last Tuesday, then Tuesday came and went and when I e-mailed him he was on fucking vacation!! After a polite but firm e-mail and call to the department admin, someone sent it!) It’s a &5 an hour raise plus that same difference in back pay from Dec 1 to whenever it becomes official on payroll, which will be a solid chunk of money! Also, the resentment about being paid the same as folks with far less experience and being paid less than my colleague who is a total waste of space, seemed to practically dissipate as soon as I got the letter.
  • Angus is crawling. It’s still a weird one foot forward one foot back crawl, but he’s fast with it. We continue to try and get him to tuck the other leg but we can’t follow him around all the time, so when we aren’t there, he reverts back to his sit-crawl. He seems much happier now that he’s able to get around.
  • We celebrated good health and sunshine (though, gonna be real, it’s over 80 degrees here today and is predicted to stay that way for most of the week and I am not happy about it) by going strawberry picking this weekend. We picked SO MANY berries and ate a lot in the field too. We brought them home and I made 12 jars of strawberry jam and the most amazing strawberry ice cream, and of course we have tons left over as well. It was a very nice reminder of life beyond the quarantine house. (PS – doesn’t my wife look like a serious babe in that first picture? Such a stunner)

     

  • We did get out a little the week prior to visit Olympia pride. We arrived late thanks to a baby nap and discovered once we’d parked that Angus had a giant blowout and we’d brought 0 additional clothes for him, so we ended up having to buy a very expensive organic hand brushed harvested by angels cotton romper for him in downtown Oly. So we missed a lot of the parade, but it was still fun and we got these great pictures in front of a mural.
  • Also OMG Angus is 10 months old!! WUT?1528650310175

The Pits

 

The last few weeks have been only slightly short of miserable. Like, we are IN IT, y’all.

The biggest contributing factor is that EVERYONE has been sick, with each of us at different places on the sickness to wellness spectrum at different points in time, but none of us actually achieving actual non-sick status for the last 3+ weeks. It started with Ansel crawling into our bed with a hacking cough and progressed into colds all around, bronchitis for L and I that is still working it’s way out, a stomach virus complete with awful cramps for the adults in the house, and now Hand Foot and Mouth disease – first in Angus and now in Ansel. L started getting a super sore throat yesterday and woke up this morning with spots so we’re up to 3/4 HFM Chez Gayby. I am scheduled to teach in sex ed classes every day for the next two weeks – this is NOT a time that I can take off, so I’ll take whatever magic you got that I don’t succumb too.

With illness comes clingy babies and grumpy toddlers and even more disrupted sleep than usual. It’s really not surprising that we haven’t been able to recover, since to do so would mean getting enough rest and being able to take care of ourselves or each other. But two sick kids means that idea is a pipe dream at best. And by the time the day is over, we are exhausted from caring for sick kids and working and not feeling well ourselves, so the usual house stuff isn’t really happening either.

It just feels like we are being kicked when we’re down, like we can’t quite escape the constant onslaught of sickness. Life with two kids feels relentless most times, but recently it’s felt more like treading water with more than the occasional bout of not quite being above the surface. Super contagious sickness means that we don’t even have the usual sources of support since those are the preschool parents who, understandably, want to keep their distance. This is one of those times when, despite the drama and exasperation my mom often causes me, I wish I lived closer to family. L said yesterday we’ve just got one nostril above the water, and that feels about right.

The sleep consultant won’t work with us until she feels like Gus’ ‘underlying issues’ are managed, which mostly means (I think) that the iron/anemia issue is resolved. We’ve been giving him liquid ferrous sulfate since the last test showed low iron and when it was rechecked last week, it had only increased a very small amount. Our pediatrician hasn’t returned our calls about what to do next (in fact, I’m on hold for them as I write this, and I’m annoyed about it. ) She also continues to be kind of weird about the dentist not clipping his tongue tie, only the lip tie. But I’m gonna be real that I trust the pediatric dentist on this more than the sleep consultant who’s only seen pictures and who doesn’t evaluate functionality anyway. The main point of this all is that we continue to get very, very little sleep. When Gus first came down with the HFM, he wouldn’t let us put him down to sleep at night like, at all. We ended up taking shifts holding him so we each could get a chunk of sleep, but four hours isn’t actually sustainable. But, for now we’re in a holding pattern.

L did not move forward with the charter school for a job, but she did get accepted into the emerging artist program! It’s a really incredible opportunity for her to get a bunch of training on things like fundraising to support her art, have time and resources to devote to developing a new solo show, and a reputable venue to promote and host the solo show. It’s not a paid gig, which is a bummer, but the pay off in exposure and skills will be well worth the time and energy. She continues to apply for stuff as it comes up, and we continue to really hope that the perfect job is coming, because the perfect job is not staying home with our (adorable, perfect, amazing) children.

Perhaps you recall my reclassification process which was denied in January . After talking to my union rep and my boss, I decided to appeal the decision. This time, armed with some additional information about how the process works and what I needed to make clear, I submitted an extensive document outlining my additional work and why it was more in line with the higher classification. The few weeks between the decision and deciding to submit the appeal were a bit tumultuous. I ended up talking to my bosses boss (who was my boss until about a year ago) didn’t support my reclassification, primarily because ‘everyone else who’s been reclassified has been here many years’ and so she felt it was ‘premature.’ Of course, that actually ought to have nothing to do with how my job is classified, but her opinion carries weight and may have been a primary factor in their decision. I smiled and nodded and thought mean names in my head. My union rep advised me to keep quiet and she did some investigation into potential next steps if the appeal doesn’t work. She heard from the division head that he would be open to creating a path to the new classification for me should the appeal not go through.

I had my reconsideration panel three weeks ago (can we all just admit than anything job related + panel = fucking terrifying?) I brought both the document I’d initially submitted as well as a chart comparing my current job classification duties as compared to the new duties as compared to the work I do. Only my (very very supportive) boss was there, and she had a document outlining my work and her support for the panel as well. Once again, it was a shockingly brief meeting with very few questions – which can either feel good (my work was clear!) or shitty (they have already decided!) but ultimately I ended up feeling good about it. They told me I’d hear in 2-4 weeks but “likely closer to two, as we like to close these as soon as possible and yours has been open for quite some time.”

So, basically since last Wednesday (the two week mark) I’ve been anxiously checking my work e-mail hoping to see a decision. I still haven’t heard and while I’m still within the window they gave me, the longer I have to wait, the greater the anxiety. Because our brains are hardwired to look for the worst possible evidence in the face of the unknown. Or, at least, mine is. I decided to send a very polite e-mail inquiring about things, even though we haven’t reached the deadline. I hope that wasn’t a bad idea – not that it could impact the decision directly (hello, union rules!) but just because I don’t like to annoy people. Still, my boss is out of town and I have this idea that the decision is waiting in her inbox and that makes me die a little inside too.

Anyway, if it works out, it’ll will be both a pretty solid pay increase (at least 5%, I believe) plus back pay from the time I submitted for the reclass (November.) It also gives me some job protection in the weird system we have (ask if you care but it’s really too complicated to get into) and most importantly its recognition for the work I’ve been doing for almost two fucking years. 

In some brief kid updates:

  • Ansel has started going to sleep on the floor in front of his door. This is weird but I guess ok? Not sure why he does it and for a while I was going in and transferring him to bed, but this usually involved the door hitting him on the head and that seemed counterproductive. This has coincided with him coming into our bed to sleep at around 3am as well. Although we used to be kind of strict about when he could come in, we’ve gotten lax. Now that he doesn’t demand to nurse when he climbs in (he still nurses a tiny bit when we actually wake up in the morning, just not from the moment he’s in our bed) he’s mostly just sweet and snuggly. And honestly, we are ok with whatever sleep we are getting, we’ve gotten less picky about what it looks like.
  • Angus is thisclose to crawling. He’s actually doing a kind of weird one leg back crawl, where he’s constantly poised to sit back on his butt, but it’s definitely slower and more awkward than a regular crawl. He’s waaaay more interested in pulling himself to stand. L feels very strongly about crawling being an important thing for reading, eyesight, etc and honestly I trust her knowledge on this. But convincing him might be a different story.

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  • Ansel has started telling jokes!
  • Ansel was evaluated for his eating stuff (gagging, vomiting, extremely limited variety of food) – which I realize I don’t think I’ve talked about much here. It took us a while to get a referral because his weight is good, which apparently is what the pediatricians of the world go on. But the daily gagging and spitting, the frequent vomiting, and the fact that he won’t try anything new – even ‘kid food’ – was concerning to us. They determined he does need some feeding therapy, and so he starts that in a few weeks. The assessment included doing a little bit of work and he ended up eating ‘apple sticks’ (just apple cut into long thin pieces) and has since eaten apples pretty frequently, which wasn’t happening before, so I have high hopes!

Send some light. We could use it.

9 months

First of course . . .

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Angus is NINE MONTHS OLD! (weird. Wasn’t Ansel just born?) At his 9 month appointment, he weighed in at 17lbs 9oz, putting him in the 10th percentile. Not too shabby, considering he was only in the 2nd at his 6 month appointment, and before that he wasn’t even on the regular charts. He’s in the 50th percentile for height too, confirming that he is kind of a long, skinny baby and explaining why the 6-9 month clothes fit perfectly length wise but are still pretty roomy around the middle.

As for sleep . . .it’s been hit or miss, though I think the overall trend has improved. He had a night with an 8 hour stretch (for him, not for us) which felt magical but . . .mostly he’s been in the 3ish hour mark, which is still better than it could be. He’s been waking for the day very early though, which is its own kind of stress. A week or so ago, we decided that because of this, I’d take on the night wake ups (usually 2 from when we go to bed at 10:30-11 until around 3-4 am, and then Laurie would get up with him. Since Ansel still crawls in bed to nurse and cuddle in the morning and is a beast when he has to get up early, this allows me to ‘sleep in’ (it’s all relative) with him while L gets up around 5am with Angus, and we both get at least one semi-solid chunk of sleep. We haven’t set up our follow up or any additional work with the sleep consultant yet since things seem to be improving and also she requires us to keep a log of 48 hours with an inordinate amount of detail and we just cannot seem to make that happen.

Ansel has recently seemed to emerge from the ‘parallel play’ phase and is now VERY interested in playing with others. This has been very sweet, but has also come with some rough edges (probably more for us than him, if I’m being honest.) He seems to have taken a special shine to one of the kids in his class, R. I’m always unsure if this is simply circumstantial – we went to R’s birthday party, and he had a couple of playdates with her recently – or if he really does just like her better, you know? In any case, last week at school R was holding hands with J (they do seem to have become a friendship couple, spending most of their time together at school – and this may be a part of the context too, that Ansel sees that and wants a buddy in a similar capacity) and Ansel approached them and asked to hold her other hand and she very forcefully pulled it away and told him no. He got really upset and ran off and didn’t want to talk about it. Later that day, R & J told him he couldn’t play with them and he left sad and tearful. The teacher intervened the second time since, for her, while it’s fine to not hold hands with someone (we all get to choose the physical contact we are ok with), and it’s ok to play alone and tell people you are playing alone, you can’t tell one person they can’t play if you are playing with someone else or a group (this makes sense to me for preschool.) L was a working parent that day, so she witnessed all of this. And, another mom who we’ve become friends with, told us it’s happened before. Both L and I felt totally heartbroken about the situation, though that same night Ansel was talking about his friend R like nothing had happened, so clearly we are holding on to it in a different way.

It got me thinking about how the challenges of parenting change over time. It segues from keeping them healthy and alive while they are virtually helpless to helping them weather the heartbreaks and complexities of being a human in relationship with other humans. It’s a difficult task, to teach a small person how to be a friend, help them understand that sometimes – no matter what you do – someone doesn’t want to be your friend, and hope they both keep their wonderful unique qualities and also understand that not everyone will like them for it. I, of course, can’t understand why someone wouldn’t adore Ansel like I do. But, I know not everyone will and he’ll get his tender heart hurt. This is just the first time of many.

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On a happier note, though, with the warming weather and longer days, I’ve started taking Ansel to the school down the street, which has a beautiful playground accessible to the community after school hours. There are often other kids there, and he has played with a few of them. On a few occasions, older kids (in the 6-9 range) have kind of taken him in, teaching him to play games or indulging him in his toddler versions. He talks about ‘his friends’ while we walk to the ‘big park’ and is disappointed when no one is there. Last night, he was very clear and direct that he didn’t want a hug from one of the older girls but that he did want to high-5 her, and that felt really lovely too. Lots of lessons about how to engage other people – the hard and the good, they always come together, right?

 

Speaking of hard lessons . . .last Thursday on my way home from work, I swerved to miss something in the road right as the road narrowed, and ended up skirting the guardrail. My car was drivable and not seriously mechanically or structurally damaged, and I was fine. But, there was definitely some pretty significant damage to the body, and the passenger side door wouldn’t open. I called the next day to file a claim with the insurance company and learned . . .we didn’t have collision coverage on the car? This seemed impossible to me since I would just never made that choice and we had full coverage on the other car. When I called my agent, she confirmed. And then I remembered that the employee at the agency who’d set us up when we purchased our house had also fucked up the homeowner’s policy, almost delaying the closing and costing us additional fees from the sellers. Now, apparently, he had also failed to give us collision coverage on the car (though there was other weird stuff on there) and because I’d done everything over the phone, there was no record that I’d ever asked for anything different. And, then, of course, I’d been dumb enough to not look at the policy closely before I signed it (I remember the day I did, too . . .I drove down to Tacoma from Seattle to do it and was frazzled and running late for work . . .an explanation but not an excuse.) So . . .we were on the hook for the full cost of whatever repairs needed to be made.

 

I’m lucky enough to be able to ask for a loan from my parents, since they both have the resources and are happy to share them with me. So, that’s what I did. We are getting second hand parts and the cost is actually less expensive than I anticipated it would be, but it still sucks. So, for now my car is in the shop and I’m in a rental, deeply grateful, a little bitter, and somewhat wiser. May my mistake encourage you to read everything you sign twice.

 

I also had the MRI on my ankle and a follow up with the doctor. The numbness in my foot is being caused by swelling in my ankle from general scar tissue and inflammation. He could do a tarsal tunnel release but doubts it would have much, if any, effect on the numbness because the issue is my ankle. This is just a symptom of more significant problems. My options for repairing the ankle are to fuse it, which he wouldn’t recommend since I already have arthritis in my sub talar joint and the fusion would exacerbate that, at which point the only option would be excrutiating pain in that joint or fusion of that joint, which would leave me with no functionality in my ankle at all – basically I’d be able to hobble but not much else. The other option is ankle replacement. It would restore function and eliminate pain . . .BUT . . .replacements don’t last a super long time. Right now, the technology is at about 10 years (significantly less than hip or knee replacements) and then you’d either need a new replacement or a fusion. And after the second replacement, you’d almost certainly need a fusion. But, with each subsequent surgery, you up the risk of infection or other complications and the worst case scenario of course, would be amputation. All of that is scary to think about.

For now, I’m going to learn to live with the numbness and the pain I experience, and hold off on anything until I feel like the pain is so bad I have to make a decision. Until then, I’ve sunk some money into two pairs of shoes – one athletic, the other dress – that are recommended for ankle arthritis and improve functionality of the joint. And I’m begrudgingly committed to wearing them. I have fucking huge, ugly feet and have always struggled to wear cute shoes, but now I’m really going to look frumpy. But, better frump than pain. This will be my mantra.

 

Finally, L had an interview with a charter school network last week. They said she should hear from the individual schools late this week or next to potentially schedule an in person interview. She’s also a semi-finalist for an Emerging Artists program that would allow her to get some intensive training and support for developing a one person show. She’s interested in exploring the intersections of being a non-normatively gendered pregnant person, how gender and parenting interact. I’m excited about both of these possibilities being fulfilling and engaging her great talent in a way that being a stay at home parent just hasn’t.

 

The latest in the sleep (no sleep) saga:

  • Angus does indeed have both a lip and tongue tie. The pediatric dentist revised the lip tie on Tuesday but determined that the lip tie wasn’t impacting his nursing (‘he’s doing what he’s supposed to with it’) and because of his age, didn’t want to revise. Poor L had to be a party to the lasering of his little mouth. We haven’t noticed any difference yet really, though we are both hopeful it will, at the very least, help with nursing.
  • Angus also has low iron. He’s been prescribed ferrous sulfate and we bought this lucky iron fish to use for water and cooking so he can get more iron in his body. That will also probably take a few days to resolve.
  • We decided that we’ll also probably continue working with the sleep consultant, unless the iron magically solves all sleep related issues.

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In other news . . .I screwed up and accidentally bought tickets to the demolition derby and not the monster truck show. I thought Ansel still might be into cars crashing but it started slow and really, what he’s into are monster trucks, so he was bummed. We ended up leaving pretty early at his request. Luckily, the show was at the Spring Fair, so we wandered around and saw animals and ate food and he got an inflatable princess hammer which he loves. So, it wasn’t a total loss.

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You may remember this asshole  orthopedic doctor I saw for the tingling in my foot, who did, after a lot of sending messages, agree to a nerve conduction study that showed – not surprisingly – nerve damage and atrophy causing the tingling. When I went to follow up with him he kind of shrugged and said it was probably a neuropathy caused by something in my spine or even diabetes (side note: I am not diabetic. I am not pre-diabetic. I am fat, but my metabolic panels are consistently excellent. so fuck you, dude) and he couldn’t help. Then he told me to lose weight again and come back and see him when I wanted that ankle fusion.

So I scheduled an appointment with the only other ortho practice my insurance covers in Tacoma. I saw him this morning and it was so much better. He listened to me, for starters. He also said that the tingling was very likely caused by some kind of impingement on the nerve from swelling, scar tissue, a cyst or a bone spur. He’d need an MRI to be sure. He also told me my subtalar joint (the joint below the ankle proper that controls side to side motion) is also compromised, which actually makes a simple ankle fusion not indicated, at least not without a lot of consideration. Because when the ankle is fused, the subtalar joint usually degrades very quickly. So it’s a process of evaluating pros and cons and figuring out the best way forward. Depending on what the MRI shows on the tarsal tunnel, he may want to do a release, but we won’t talk about any of that until he has the scans. He didn’t mention my weight at all. Let me be a reminder to all of you that doctors aren’t gods and they work for us. So if they are dicks, go find one who isn’t.

Also, the sun was out for almost a week and it was glorious. Today its cloudy and grey and cool again (after getting close to 80 yesterday!) but I feel like I can really appreciate it now after a sunny stretch. The sunny spring and absurdly beautiful summers out here make the rain worth it and lez be honest, I prefer a cool day to sweating buckets from April to September always.

Finally: Ansel’s first school picture makes me feel a little misty eyed and also like #IMadeDat

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Light at the edge

 

First, a few updates:

 

  • A pre-school mom friend recommended a sleep consultant to us and after hearing from others how helpful this has been, we decided to at least call for the free 15 minute consultation. The lady was *amazing* and gave us a few things to look into medically before we attempt anything behaviorally. Accordingly, we made an appointment to get his iron tested next week, since the way we described his restlessness (plus his prematurity + being breastfed) makes her think he is likely low on iron stores. (sidenote: it was a particularly shockingly uphill battle to get the pediatrician to ‘allow’ us to get this blood test prior to his 9 month appointment, which is weird because the appointment is only three weeks away which feels insignificant in terms of well child appointment time, though it is an impossibly long time when you’re not sleeping and this could be the solution. We also made an appointment with a pediatric dentist to have him assessed for a tongue and lip tie. I feel 85% sure he has a lip tie and the consultant, based on pictures of him with his mouth open, feels pretty confident he’s tongue tied as well. Given his poor latch and the struggles L has had nursing, I have long thought this might be the case. The ped agreed with the lip tie but kind of dismissed it needing to be revised because he was gaining weight. (sidenote: we aren’t exactly in love with our pediatrician.) So, there is hope. We bought the magic sleep suit and the first night it improved his sleep quite a bit, but since then it’s been hit or miss . . .
  • Ansel is definitely pee potty trained. He hasn’t had a pee accident in over a week, and he wakes up from naps and night dry about 75% of the time. Poop continues to elude us though he does seem to mostly poop in the pull up so . . .that’s better than scraping it out of underoos. Of course, he closest we’ve come to pooping in the potty ended with him dropping a deuce in the middle of the living room but . . .progress not perfection, right?

The sun has also come out – probably not to stay, yet, but it has been here for a few days and is predicted to stay a few more. When you don’t see the sun for a long time, when you finally do it’s like a drug. I’ve spent as much time as my cubicle dwelling life allows soaking up the vitamin D and doing outdoor things. I took Tuesday off (more partly cloudy than sunny, but whatever) and took Ansel to the zoo with some friends, and yesterday we sat in the yard blowing bubbles. It’s so magical here in the spring when it’s sunny – things so green and fresh and alive. Ansel said yesterday that the ‘sun hurts’ and wanted it to go away so . . .clearly he is a fully NW kid now. We told him we liked the sun to stay and that we’d get him some sunglasses!

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Other than not sleeping, Angus is really quite amazing. He’s up to 16 lbs + (4X his birth weight), is sitting up confidently and beginning to do the reach that precedes crawling. His smile is amazing and so freely given. It’s a very genuine and kind smile – Ansel’s has always had a little more mischief behind it – and he loves sitting in L’s lap and beaming at me. He also adores his brother, and Ansel can make Gus belly laugh for long, lovely stretches. He babbles loudly and constantly, and is beginning to punctuate everything with those hard Ds and Bs. He eats with abandon and hasn’t met a food he doesn’t like. Still no teeth though he certainly seems to be showing some signs of their impending arrival. He is a really lovely baby, even in the midst of being more challenging in many ways, and I really can’t wait to see him begin to emerge as an independent being more fully.

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Tonight, L and I celebrate 6 years since we had our “GLEE” (gay love extravaganza event)/wedding. It was actually last Saturday, but L got tickets to see Taylor Mac tonight, so we are getting dressed up, going to dinner, and seeing a show! Our friends M + T  are watching the babies for us (M is maybe Ansel’s most favorite person though, this morning when we told him they were coming to hang out with him he said his friend from school, Ruby, is his favorite person so . . .) and we get to go pretend to be human beings, despite our lack of sleep and general exhaustion. 6 years (8.5 since we started dating) both feels like a really long time and also like nothing at all. It’s about 4 times longer than my next longest relationship, but I also feel like I’m still getting to know who L is and how she works and I think I could keep doing that for a long while still. It’s nice to feel that way about my partner, even in the midst of things being pretty fucking hard.

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Thanks to audio books from the library, the amazing Overdrive app, and my otherwise shitty commute, I’ve ‘read’ SO MANY BOOKS so far this year! I just finished two that I LOVED and thought I’d recommend The Hate U Give and Sing, Unburied, Sing both of which are definitely not ‘light’ or ‘fun’ per se, but also SO GOOD. Sing, Unburied, Sing was some of the most beautiful prose I’ve read (heard?) in a very, very long time. I just started Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and am pretty smitten with it so far, too. I’m embarassed to admit that, despite many recommendations over the years, this is my first experience with Neil Gaiman. If you love him, what else should I read? I have been feeling very sad that my reading has been so bad since becoming a parent and this is 100% the best solution for me, even if sometimes I think it’s not ‘the same’ (read: as noble) but, what the fuck ever, you know? It’s better than doing neither!

 

I hope to be back in a few weeks with reports of a well rested household, so continue to keep us in mind for those T&Ps!

 

PS- Taking Ansel to the Monster Truck Rally at the Spring Fair on Sunday and I’m so excited!!