Wednesday, May 31, 2017

This Time, It Will (Not) Be Different

Last time, with Lis, I was sick. So sick. I threw up all nine months. Before I begged for medication, I was dehydrated, throwing up water and air. No food was touching my lips without being immediately rejected. Even with the medication, it just made it so I could eat, once in a while at least. I ate what I could—some bread, mostly chicken and spinach and eggs. I wasn’t rolling in glorious baked goods or fruit or ice cream or whatever. And yet, I ended up with gestational diabetes.

I stuck to the diet plan, even though it was through Thanksgiving and Christmas. There was no pie; there were no cookies. I ate chicken and spinach and eggs. I grew to hate them as I either choked them down or threw them up. I still ended up on insulin, because diet alone couldn’t control it.

Gestation diabetes with hyperemesis gravidarum is a rather cruel combination, don’t you think? It’s just a real life Catch-22.

For, oh, two years before I got pregnant, I was working out, eating healthy, generally being pretty fit. Things were good! So when I found out I was pregnant, I was all—This time will be different. It’s like every word my doctor and nurses said to me slipped out of my brain and I was firm in my illusion of control. Last time, they told me it was likely nothing I could control, it was just my body’s reaction to pregnancy. No, no. This time, I will MAKE it different.

It has been different. I’ve been nauseous, occasionally throwing up, but not like last time. I’ve been able to keep working out four or five times a week. Last time, I threw up if I walked too fast, so. Not so much on the exercise. This time, I’ve eaten! Consistently! Good foods! Salads, veggies, lean meats, fruits, and so on. Very limited sweets, if any, because I mostly don’t like them anymore.

I drank the stupid orange drink in the beginning of May. They called me the next day to tell me I failed, and I needed to do the three-hour test. My heart just sank. “How much did I fail it by?” “Uh….a lot.” And so, I got a free pass to skip the three-hour test and go straight to stabbing myself with needles four times a day to check my blood sugar.

I immediately began logging everything I ate and my exercise, so when I went for my gestational diabetes “orientation” appointment, I handed the nurse my log. “This looks amazing,” she said. “I have high hopes that it will be different this time for you. You failed, but not nearly as badly as last time. Maybe we can keep you off insulin.”

I had spent a few days crying and feeling defeated, but lo! Here was hope. It will be different this time.

I’m meticulously logging my meticulous diet (lots of vegetables, no carrots or corn or potatoes, chicken, some ham, some red meat, eggs, almost zero fruit, almost zero dairy, but you can take my half and half in my tea from my cold dead fingers). I’m logging, often angrily, the numbers that seem to keep climbing no matter what I do. It was going to be different this time! The most rage and tear inducing one is the fasting number. I am literally asleep for 8 hours. I cannot do a damn thing about that number, and yet it creeps higher and higher. I tried protein before bed, I tried exercising before bed. Creep. Creep. Creep. Just like last time.

This probably means insulin, another needle to jab myself with, except much larger. I am going to have holes everywhere in me, leaking out…something. Will to care and try, I guess.

Insulin means induction. If I am on insulin, they won’t let me go past my due date. I wanted to avoid gestational diabetes for all the extra health complications, both during pregnancy and after; I wanted to avoid insulin, for all the same reasons; I for damn sure wanted to avoid an induction because that was awful. It was all supposed to be different this time. It’s not.

I’m not going to lie—in the deep recesses of my lizard brain, I desperately needed this to not happen. It feels like it’s all unfolding like before, and if this happened, and if I have to have insulin, and I have to be induced, my lizard brain tells me over and over that he too will have craniosynostosis. My rational brain knows this isn’t true, and there’s no real correlation there. The panic feeling that I am walking around with every day, constantly, says otherwise. I have to breathe deep when I feel it growing, and remind myself that I know why the panic is there, and that’s it’s not true.

It’s an odd feeling, feeling like you’ve been betrayed by your body. I am fit and healthy. I will never be tall and willowy, like the magazines want you to be. I am built like a tank, built for extreme sports or crossfit or whatever. I thought, for sure, that my Irish peasant build, meant for hard labor, meant I would be able to “do pregnancy” the right way. It would be something my body was good at. It’s not, and I feel betrayed. What the hell are you good for, anyway?


This time, it was not different.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Musing: Work, Leave, Planning, Writing, Scheduling

One of the hard parts about nonprofit life and being pregnant is knowing that all your leave will be unpaid. One of the great part about nonprofit life and being pregnant is knowing that since your leave is unpaid, you can take whatever you want.*

*Disclaimer: Obviously true for me. I can’t speak for everyone.

The first time, I took 12-ish weeks (okay, last minute daycare panic resulted in more like 13 weeks) off, then returned to work full time. I was a full-time litigator then, so I had to have a defined leave time so that we could hire a short term person to cover hearings, etc. This time? Imagine a gif right here of the Elmo Muppet shrug.

Here’s the thing: Baby 2.0 will be born in late July/early August. The book I am writing has a deadline of the beginning of December. So….leave will be hugely interfere with the completion of this book. There is no one we can hire to fix this. It has to be me and the co-author. She cannot do it alone. We have to do it together. There is no work around.

Which sucks, objectively. I definitely have to return to work much earlier than last time. Pretty much when I am healed and rested enough to focus for a few hours at a time, my ass will be in the office. First time mom Grace would have freaked out over this. Second time at this rodeo Grace is more like…Meh?

I suppose this is in part to not having any illusions about maternity leave. It will almost certainly be different this time—last time, it was January, and it snowed constantly until March, and we were trapped in the house, and I’ve never been so lonely, isolated, and miserable. I didn’t want to leave Lis but I hated maternity leave. I felt desperate in a way I haven’t felt since. No thank you. This time, it will be summer! Yay! Sunshine! I’ve also shed myself of any illusions of glorious maternity leave, and know it for what it is—a time to try to heal, get to know the kiddo, keep him alive, survive myself, and say to hell with it with cooking and cleaning.

I’m also kind of “meh” over the suckage because I am using this as a chance to work part time for a bit. I will go back at an unspecified earlier time, but only part time, and—I am bringing the baby. There is no daycare available to me before he turns 12 weeks; therefore, if I am needed in the office, he’s coming with me. Everyone has cleared it and is cool with it—another benefit of nonprofit life.

Since I will start working part time earlier than I should, I am going to continue working part time a bit longer. I think—baby personality willing—I am going to keep him with me and working part time until he’s four months old. That would mean a return to full time and a daycare start date of December. I like that idea. I like the idea of putting it off until January even more, so I am toying with that as well. If I do that, he would still start daycare in December, but I would increase my part time hours while he’s in daycare. So it would be a gradual daycare start for him and me, and a long gradual ease into work for me. Since I plan on having the book written by the time I have the baby, it would all be editing work, which I think (I *think*) is reasonable to get done, working several months on part time (I’m thinking October to December, working on nothing other than this book).

I also plan on bringing in some kind of portable bassinet, a blanket, a noise machine, toys as desired as he gets a bit older. I have multiple baby wearing options that I’ve acquired, and I think the best option for a chair will be my regular chair plus a large exercise ball. I’m trying to be realistic about the hours I can put in—a few in the office, maybe a few more at home. I do very much remember what it’s like with a tiny baby, but I also remember being trapped under a sleeping baby a lot, so if I can just wear him, I don’t see why I can’t read and edit…?

So, group input time!
1.     Is this insane?
2.     Okay, fine, it’s insane, but I am doing it anyway, so given that, is this insane?
3.     Does that sound like a reasonable plan to get work done? Part time over two months, instead of full time one month?
4.     Is there any reason for/against the idea of working part time until January and easing him into daycare?
5.     What supplies/specific products would be best to do this thing?



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Faked It Until I Made It

I'll never be a trial lawyer, I vowed. My face turns beat red when a professor calls on me, I freeze, I invert words, I am terrified. Stick me in an office and let me be a document rat.

Of course, I then litigated cases full time, as my only job, for five years. I can't stop those reactions. They are just a biological thing, and bodies gonna body. I learned to control them, and even use them to my advantage. Terrified = I over prepare, anticipate every objection and twist and turn, and as a result, I am almost always the most prepared person in the room. I know the evidence rule that deals with your objection. I have the case law cite that supports my argument. Freeze = gives me a chance to slow down my voice, pick a good cadence, gather my thoughts, take a breath.

There's not much I can do about the red face, but I did invest in some really good grownup makeup, so there's that at least.

I got good at it. I even enjoyed litigating. There's rhythm, a beginning and an end, but the middle is more like jazz music. You can get n groove and move along with it, but it's always somewhat on the fly, changing, shifting under your feet and fingers. Just dance along and listen, you'll be fine. I enjoyed it so much that I thought, yeah, I'll never be an office lawyer now. I like this.

Of course, I got a promotion into what would have originally been my dream job--writing a legal textbook, doing a ton of research and writing, some policy work, and, ugh, presenting at conference and training attorneys, judges, other professionals, and so on.

I was bummed to leave full time litigation behind--I still keep a small docket of cases, to keep my skills sharp, but it's much smaller--but damn if it wasn't easier with a small kid who was a tiny disease vector to be mostly in the office and not be at the court's whim and mercy. I've been there four years now--writing this book, researching and writing other things, reaching out to the statewide community to teach them, starting new clinics and initiatives, doing some policy stuff. It's fun.

I still freeze. I still turn red. I still over prepare. I'm still all those things, I am still me, and that's something I don't think I appreciated while I was trying to pick a career path. You're always going to find an aspect of your job that challenges an essential part of you that you really can't change. You have to find your work around.

Law school Grace would never, ever, NEVER EVER SO MUCH NOPE imagined me doing what I am doing now. Talking on radio shows with live call-in callers? Speaking to hundreds of people about the law in one sitting? Starting up legal clinics from scratch and working nights and weekends to reach communities that are terrified for their lives and their children? Still litigating? Yeah, no. Law school Grace would have dug the book and document writing, and that's about it.



I wonder where I'll go from here, and what new workarounds I will have to find.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fear And Hope And Boiled Water

Did you know that boiling water has a smell? A horrific, terrible smell. It's a smell that makes me throw up immediately. Of course, I am also pregnant, so that might have something to do with why I fervently believe that boiling water has a horrible, terrible smell.

Yes. I am she of "never again" and yet, here I am, by hook or by crook, by plan or happenstance, by charts or by gin.

Quite frankly, the memory of how terrible this was never dimmed. I never got fuzzy, rosy looks backward to pregnancy and early infant days.  People kept saying I would, and honestly, it made me really mad. People have said that to me already, and I've pointed out that I've forgotten exactly nothing about how horrible it was; would they like me to recount the many places I threw up, or the exact details of Lis's grotesque surgery and scar? I love Lis, but pregnancy and infancy blew. Sorry, kid. You're awesome.

I'm scared. The nausea started off manageable, but it's rapidly escalated into trowing up at boiling water or whenever someone opens the refrigerator. They're already treating me as high risk, and checking for gestational diabetes, no thanks to my family for my shitty genetics.

I'm so scared it's going to happen again. Not the HG or the GD, though, yeah, I'm afraid of that. No, I'm scared of the craniosynostosis. Our odds are better this time, since I have several of family history factors that seem to correlate with non-syndromic craniosynostosis.

Breathe. It's early days.

I hope things will be better. I've been working out a lot, and I am in really good shape, strength wise, and I have a great routine going for myself. I've made a conscious decision to not be scared by all the restrictions and doctor recommendations and what have you this time. I'm going to eat a damn ham sandwich if I want, and I'm lifting weights. For the other thing which shall not be named...well. We'll see. We'll take it as it comes. If it comes, it was not insurmountable.

It's so early, still. I wouldn't be talking about it so openly. but I am so damn sick, that it seems clear SOMETHING is gestating about in my body. So, here we are. Ready to go for this rodeo again.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

All For The Want Of Bookshelf Space

There once was a mouse; let’s call him Mouse.  Mouse is unhappy with the number of books in the office, so Mouse picks out some books to sell, and a few to take upstairs to the less used bookshelves. Mouse’s wife, hereinafter referred to as Grace I mean Schmrace, feels generous, and carries the books to the car, puts them in a box, and then carries the other books upstairs, and organizes them. When Schmrace comes back downstairs, Mouse hands her a color wheel and tells her to pick a new color for the office.

Schmrace browses colors, and picks a few, but is alarmed to discover that all the bookshelves and the books are suddenly in the hallway. As in, not in the office, where they belong. “We’re doing this now?” Schmrace asks. “We’re doing this now,” Mouse confirms. “Oh, and pick out colors for the upstairs bathroom and the laundry room,” Mouse tosses over his shoulder as he looks for his car keys.

All the furniture comes out of the office; the washer and dryer move to center of the laundry room; fixtures are removed from the bathroom. Painter’s tape is applied, and Lis I mean Little Mouse is allowed to paint the big areas of the walls. Little Mouse is covered in Dresden Blue, Rum Punch Red, and Silver Bells Gray paint. Eventually, the paint dries, all furniture, books, appliances, and fixtures are returned to their rightful places. Mouse declares himself satisfied.

Mouse decides to use the leftover paint to paint the dollhouse he wanted to build for Little Mouse. Mouse brings the paint into the office, and…spills the paint. A lot of paint. On the carpet. “Well,” Mouse says, looking around in dismay, “this is the original carpet, and it’s pretty nasty, so let’s go look at carpet.”

Schmrace packs snacks for the trip to the store.

Mouse and Schmrace talk to the salesmouse about the carpet and pick out some carpet. They discuss the difficulty of having all one long piece of carpet upstairs, with the same carpet being on every inch of the floor. “Oh!” says the salesmouse, “I dealt with that breaking up the carpet with hardwood in the main areas.” Suddenly Schmrace and Mouse are selecting hardwood samples. Schmrace picks several samples that were close to the current downstairs hardwood; Mouse, on a whim, picks a gorgeous grayish brown hardwood. Just for fun.

The grayish hardwood wins. The story behind it is long and unimportant. The new carpet and new hardwood are installed, and lo! They are beautiful, even if the new hardwood does not at all match the bannisters or the downstairs hardwood. The Mouse Family will take care of that in time. Except the hardwood that was installed was defective, so it is torn out and replaced.

Little Mouse is delighted with the new carpet, and rolls around on it. She’s also delighted with the hardwood, and says “Look! I slide in my socks!” and goes flying down the hallway like she’s on skates. Mouse watches her thoughtfully, and asks, “How would you like a slide?” The answer is obvious and immediate.

A modest playset is selected, and built. Little Mouse learns to operate power tools. Eventually, the playset is built and lo, it is glorious. Much fun is had, and Mouse and Schmrace are able to sit and watch Little Mouse play.

As they sit there on their deck and watch her play, Mouse spots a weed.

Mouse pulls the weed, then another, then another. Mouse vanishes around the corner. Schmrace hears the sound of power tools, probably the electric trimmer. Schmrace offers to help, but Mouse tells her to stay there, and relax. Eventually, Schmrace hears “I’m done!” All the bushes are trimmed, and FOUR evergreen bushes are mysteriously missing, or if not missing, are in pieces all over the yard.

“We need to talk tree and bush removal,” Mouse says. Schmrace finds quotes for all of it. While Mouse is cleaning up, he finds a grainy substance. He looks suspiciously at the roof. “Let’s get an inspector out here to see if there’s any hail damage to the roof.” Probably a great idea, concedes Schmrace internally, since she’s been worried about the grainy substance, too.

There is hail damage. Lots of it. The Mouse family needs a new roof, and repairs, and new gutters, and downspouts, and screens. “Well! At least insurance is covering it!” says Schmrace.

The next day, the roof starts to leak—on the brand new hardwood floor. There are many buckets. “Well!” says Mouse, “at least we already know insurance is covering it! So, let’s paint the house.” Schmrace blinks at him.

Schmrace picks out colors for the outside of the house. “Since there’s damage to ceiling in our bedroom, we’ll have to paint,” says Mouse. “Paint the ceiling,” says Schmrace. “Yes, but if we have to move everything anyways, maybe we should paint the whole room. It’s still manufacturer’s tan.” Schmrace does hate the tan color, so she returns to her color wheel.

Schmrace is running out of color wheel options.

The water damage extends to the garage, so it will need to be re-plastered and repainted. This means ripping down the existing shelving in the garage. “It was not too sturdy anyways,” says Mouse. “Besides, we’ve been saving up for years for that gladiator shelving!” Which is true. But…exhausting, thinks Schmrace.

Schmrace and Mouse sit down on the back deck to pick out colors. It’s scorching hot outside. “Wouldn’t it be nice if this was a screened in porch? Or a sunroom? Or a three seasons room that’s sometimes a screened in porch, sometimes a sunroom?” “Yes,” says Schmrace, enthusiastically. “I always wanted that in a house,” she daydreams. “Well, get a quote. We’ll do it in 2018.” Schmrace stares at Mouse and drinks her gin.

Mouse goes on, “We could use the hardwood leftover from the upstairs in it somehow. Oh! As soon as the roof, the tree removal, and the interior and exterior painting are done, get quotes on the downstairs.” Schmrace says, “The downstairs?”

“Well, yes,” says Mouse. “If we ever needed to move, we need the hardwoods to match. Once we strip and refinish the hardwood, we’ll need to paint the cabinet. If we’re doing that, we might has well add another section of cabinets and extend the new countertops. By the way, let’s decide whether we want granite, quartz, recycled glass, or butcher block counter tops. Then we’ll need to refinish or repaint those bannisters.”

Mouse and Schmrace sit in silence, sipping their drinks. Schmrace reflects back to the end of spring, a young mouse blithely carrying off some extra books to make more bookshelf space.

Mouse says, “We can talk about landscaping next year. That reminds me though—we need to put in new mulch this fall.”