Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Answer To A Question

As part of the Getting My Health Back campaign that I have been waging for (against) myself, I dragged myself to yet another doctor appointment on February 25. Once again, because I had let two years go by without going, I had re-fill out forms, health questionnaires, and so on.

Migraines? Rarely. Stroke? Nope. High Cholesterol? Nope. Ever been pregnant? Yep. Pregnancy complications? GD and HG. Heart disease? Nope. Cancer? Nope.

How long is your cycle? 25 days. When was your last period? Jan 15.

At least one person in the waiting room looked at me funny as I sucked in my breath, loudly. I was gasping for air. How could they not notice there was no air in the room? Why can’t I BREATHE?!?

I stopped filling out the form, and carefully laid the pen down on the clipboard. I just sat there, staring out the window at the traffic, the apartment buildings, the retaining pond, the ice frozen on the window. No. No, no, no. I managed to squeeze air into my lungs, and they called me back. When they got me situated, I told them they might want to have me take a pregnancy test. Just for giggles. The NP looked at me quizzically, and asked why. “Because,” I told her, “I filled out the forms about my cycle and the result of mental math is a big overdue fine in the period category.” I suppose that was mixing metaphors, but hey, I’m entitled.

I peed in the cup. I waited. I sat there and took stock of my thoughts.

It’s not like we’ve ruled out a second kid. Indeed, I would say that we are fifty-fifty on it, mainly because the idea of Lis not having a sibling makes me sad. But the conclusion of all those conversations is always that (1) Now is not the time; (2) I need to be healthy again; (3) Both of us need to get over the emotional rollercoaster of Lis’s first year and a half of life; and (4) We will talk about this again later. We actually have a set date to check in serious re-discuss the issue. It is not now.

Okay, I tell myself. Now is not ideal, but you didn’t rule it out. How do you feel?

I sat there and listened to my thoughts and my pulse hammering away. I found myself trying not to cry—not happy tears, but terror tears. Oh, I realize. That’s what this not breathing, heart pounding, dry mouth, almost crying is. This is not happiness. This is terror.

So I give myself the pep talk, about how I will adjust to being pregnant, how in about two weeks I will be excited for a new baby, how the pregnancy will be different this time, how the birth will be different this time, how there will be no craniosynostosis this time. I can’t know any of these for sure, but I am going to believe it. The tears back off, and I am somewhat calm.

The NP comes in and starts to take my blood pressure. I start laughing, and she stops. “I’m not sure you want to take that now, as I sit here waiting for pregnancy test to come back.” She smiles and admits that’s good point. She wanders out and comes back in with a paper.

No. No, I am not pregnant. Negative.

Have you been under stress lately? She asks. That can affect your cycle. Again, my somewhat hysterical sounding laugh appears. I’ve missed an entire week of work because of snow days, and I am a week behind in all y deadlines. I recently got a whole ton of work dumped on me because of various unbloggable reasons. I broke two toes and its made walking hard, and I can’t work out because it hurts to damn much. My mother in law fell last week, and shattered her arm and almost all of the bones in her face. She had surgery the same day as my appointment and she as another surgery in two days. She always took Lis on Fridays so that I could work and she could chill with Lis, so now I have no child care for Fridays, leaving me even more behind on work. Vor and I have been taking random bits of time off of work to take care of her. She’s had to basically move in with us. She’s (understandably) really sensitive and in pain, and is taking offensive to things I don’t even remember saying, but I probably did and didn’t mean it the way she took it. I’m agonizing over the fact I can’t be there for our friends who have a baby in the NICU.

So yes, I’m stressed. I’m not pregnant. I have stressed myself out of having a period. That’s pretty impressive, for me. I’m like clockwork.

This is the part where people say that although they were utterly relieved, the felt a small twinge of regret, right? A slight bit sad? Wistful? Surprised that they might have been okay with it?

No. No, I am not sad, regretful, wistful, surprised by any secret longing. I am only relieved. So I guess that’s the answer to my question that I keep asking myself.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2013 Garden Roundup (heh); 2014 Garden Plans

Round up. ROUNDUP. Get it? Like weed killer? Referencing a garden post? Oh, I slay myself.

In 2013, I planted 3 types of tomatoes, rosemary, basil, dill, pole beans, carrots, squash, and lettuce. I have two circular garden beds. One I carefully organized, planned, and planted. The other, I handed seeds to Lis and let her throw them in all hodgepodge, then covered them up with dirt.

The 2013 results: tomatoes grew very well. I have had success tomatoes since 2008, so I’m going to go ahead and call it, and say that I have a tomato green thumb. Same for rosemary and basil. Some kind of rot hit my squash this year, which was sad, since I had great yields in 2011 and 2012. The beans were going along great until the damn rabbit chewed through the fence and ate them all. I had fair success with lettuce. For three years running, I have had zero success with the following: dill, carrots, spinach.

The 2014 plans: 

Tomato varieties: two cherry tomatoes (Black Pearl and Italian Ice); one early, “normal” type tomato (Summer Girl); one One-pound tomato (Big Rainbow); then Burpee’s Heirloom Tomato Rainbow Blend. This includes Black Krim, Bonny Best, Brandywine Pink, Evergreen, and Golden Girl. I have always planted the Purple Cherokee tomatoes, since it is my absolute favorite tomato. However, I wanted to give Black Krim a try, and this is a lot of tomatoes. If I happen to see an already started Purple Cherokee plant somewhere, I’ll grab it, but I am going to leave it up to chance this year.

Lettuce: I think I know what I’ve been doing wrong with the lettuce. It is just too hot, too early here, so I ordered the heat resistant variety and I am planting it a month earlier than what I usually do. I am also hiding my lettuce under the tomato plants this year, so in the spring, they will be the starts, and then as summer comes, the tomato plants will offer shade.

Spinach: Although I have had terrible luck with spinach, I ordered a new, more heat resistant variety this year, and I am planting it in the same manner as the lettuce: earlier and with a hiding hole. We shall see.

Rosemary, basil: I stick these in wherever they will fit, usually near the tomatoes or in their own herb dedicated planter.

Garlic: planted this last fall, but I always plant some in spring because I love garlic shoots. Again, this goes wherever.

Leeks and scallions: I’ve had moderate success with these, so I want to see if I can actually pull it off. I ordered the variety that is basically titled “leeks and scallions for dummies.” They will be planted in their own 2 ft container, as well as in the ground near the tomatoes and lettuce.

Pole beans: Yep. Would have had an awesome crop if it wasn’t for the damn rabbit. Getting a wire fence this time.

Corn: I honestly could not care less if I get a single ear of corn. I don’t really eat it. But I live in Indiana, and I thought it might be fun to plant corn in the two massive planters on our front porch. It might look cool to have some corn stalks, gently swaying in the breeze! If it happens to work out, then Vor loves corn. I got a variety that is a dwarf corn, perfect for containers.

Blueberries: My evil master plan for our yard involves a row of blueberry bushes. So, this year, I ordered two blueberry plants. I am going to start them in large containers. If they do well, great; they may eventually make it into the blueberry hedge. If not, then I’m only out $40.

I have one thing I am really excited to try, and it involves the beans, the cherry tomatoes, sweet pea flowers, basil, and lettuce. I have a very tall hanging plant stand that holds 2 planters and anchors into the ground, very firmly. I am going to cut a hole in my 12” circumference grow bag, slide the pole through it, and then anchor it into the ground. In the bottom, in the grow bag, I will plant sweet pea and pole beans, and let them grow up the pole (maybe I will add a second pole). In the two hanging planters, I will plant the two cherry tomato varieties, basil, and lettuce.  The vision in my head is a beautiful sight. We will see if reality can actually meet up somewhere with it.

I’m planting marigolds in various locations around the gardens, because they’re pretty. Due to the rot problem, I am leaving out squash this year.

I want to turn the blank space along the side of our house into a wild flower garden, so I ordered a ton of flower seeds, and I am basically going to throw them in and cover them up, then whatever happens, happens. If I can find a cheap trellis somewhere, I will toss one in and add sweet pea.

So that's the dirt (HAHAHA) on my gardening plans.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Pen Is Mightier

I haven't been writing here, but I have been writing, quite a bit actually.

While we have been Sherlock and Babylon 5 marathon-ing, I have had my laptop out, and have been tightening up my sci-fi universe frame work, with Vor's help. I have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but before I can do the details, I need to work out technical problems. That's where Vor the engineer comes in handy, suggesting ship designs. Vor the nerd and scientist is also handy as we discuss distance between worlds and travel methods.

Vor the nerd, the scientist, the engineer, or the husband, is not so helpful when it comes to character development, dialogue, allusion, symbolism, etc. Fortunately, I was an English major and I've been writing things for many years, so I've got that part covered.

I don't know that I will ever do anything with it, but it is a hell of a lot of fun to play with this universe. Vor and I often refer to it when we are discussion difficult moral/ethical issues that deal with cutting edge technology. We refer to something similar we created in our little universe and play the legal/moral/ethical issue into it to see how it would advance in the future that we created, and it possible outcomes, good and bad.

This makes us sound like ridiculously pompous intelligentsia divas, so let me also remind you that we spend a good deal of our time singing Sesame Street songs and changing (disposable) diapers.

I've also been toying with a murder/mystery/fantasy idea I've had for some time. It's actually starting to take shape, but I am not sure what that shape is yet.

Oh. And my work publication, full of child abuse, neglect, child molesting, termination of parental rights, and BLUE BOOK CITATIONS OH GOD KILL ME NOW.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


1.       Innumerable snow days. I have not had a full week of work since before Christmas because of snow and stellar temperatures. I mean, I’m from Buffalo, the land of snow and ice, but even I have to admit that an actual temp of -17 and a wind chill of -40 is pretty damn cold. So, that means I’ve lost almost a week of work, and I am scrambling to keep up, working nights after Lis goes to bed.

2.       My docket. It got quiet, then it exploded with all kinds of nastiness, the exact kind of nastiness that you have in your worst nightmares about your kids. It’s been awful, and its resulted in several full day emergency hearings, one of which lasted until 9:30 pm, and I had to have a sheriff escort me to my car because there were threatening figures waiting for us outside.

3.       Our publication. It’s taken the back burner because of all the insanity on my caseload, but I’ve been working feverishly.

4.       Presentations. I’ve had a lot of them, and more are coming up. They take a ridiculous amount of prep time.

5.       Lis. She’s suddenly a major trouble maker, mischievous, into everything, sometimes adorable, sometimes a mess of tempers and tantrums. She’s also suddenly speaking in sentences, and it’s hilarious. She’s a ham, she dances, she acts, she screeches no. Even when I am my most frustrated with her, she is hilarious and fascinating. I was worried about her speech development, but her 2 year well child visit took care of that worry. Her doctor is pleased and not seeing any delays relating to her surgery. Lis’s coordination is… well, every parent thinks they have a special snowflake, but now that I’ve had professionals comment on it, and I’m going to call it. Her coordination is off the charts. She has been running since 11 months, one foot in front of the other; she’s been jumping with both feet since 18 months; since 20 months, she stands on one foot, with the other leg raised behind her or in front of her; and since probably 18 months, she has been able to climb any type of ladder at a playground, even ladders that twist and turn around on themselves. She is really, really fast, which I suppose makes sense, because Vor is really fast (he can actually outrun our dog, at least for a time). She throws a ball clear across our house, and she throws it correctly—not the girly/baby push throw, but actually cocks her arm back and shifts her body, then follows through. I am…somewhat alarmed by all this coordination. It makes her a handful.

6.       Travels. We went to Buffalo to visit family, which was fun and freezing. Lis handled the car ride pretty well, with the help of some advice of the MILPs. I have a trip scheduled to go to see my brother’s family while is still deployed, so that’s April. In May we have my SIL’s bachelorette party, so Vor and I are tentatively planning on that. Then we have her wedding in August, which is going to be our big vacation this year—a week in Seattle! We are still tentatively planning a big vacation for 2015, though depending on how Lis does with traveling long distances/time changes/Vor’s partnership vote (late 2015!) we might be willing to delay that until 2016. I’ll do another travel option post later, as some have been eliminated and some have been added.

7.       House. We are painting a huge portion of our house. We’re picking out the bright/bold color for the kitchen, and then making the rest of the house work around it. I am vying for this gorgeous gray-purple color, while Vor is pushing for these pretty pumpkin/copper colors. We have really light cabinets, so we’re trying to see what will work best with those. I am not good at this, this color matching/contrasting/complimenting thing. I just want someone to come in and tell me what to do.

8.       Craftiness. I have a sewing machine. I am trying to learn how to use it. I am failing miserably. All I want to do is hem my pants and do a few things, like make a pillow or turn Lis’s jumpers into shirts or whatever, damnit. It is impossible to figure out. I really am at a loss on how to figure this thing out.

9.       Husband. He’s been working hard at developing clients, and is in the process of trying to land a huge one, which we be awesome for partnership. I can’t believe he’s been there long enough already that we are talking about the p-word. I’m surprising him with symphony tickets for Valentine’s Day and a (not so romantic) dinner (in his office! Ha! Because its right next to the symphony!). We’ve been doing yoga together, which has been weirdly awesome. We’re working our way through Babylon 5, and we’ve watched all of Sherlock.

10.   Me. I’ve been at the gym a lot, doing yoga, and doing quick barre online workouts in the office to get myself limber during the day. It’s made a difference. I would really love to try a yoga class, but I just don’t see where I could fit it into my schedule or my budget right now. If Vor and I stick with doing to yoga DVDs together, maybe for a present for Christmas or something I will get us a set of classes. In the meantime, any suggestions on good DVDs would be awesome.

Friday, February 14, 2014

When We Were Young And Foolish

Vor met MG and DG when DG started working with him at the engineering company back in Buffalo. I met MG when I started working with her at a pool supply store. Vor and I met through them, and we have all been friends for years now.

They got married months before we started dating; we were in their wedding party, and they were in ours. We went on dates together; we made plans; we talked about buying house, changing jobs, losing family members, moving to different states, having families. We did all those things.

We started talking about getting pregnant right around the same time, and lo! Baby G was due just three months after Lis.

On Valentine's Day 2012, I sat in the dark, in my living room, staring at the small, sleeping Lis in her Moses basket. I felt overwhelmed, sad, depressed, and alone. How was this best, most perfect gift also such a burden and a curse? My life had been wonderful before; now I never wanted to get up in the morning and face the day. How could I love her so much and be so afraid of her existence?

Vor came home, talking on the phone and immediately retreated to the office, not even saying hello. I know this is a bad sign--a conversation that cannot be stopped, and it's usually an invitation for me to come listen in. It was DG. MG had just given birth to a stillborn baby girl. She was almost 8 months pregnant. Happy Valentine's Day.

Something about that snapped me out of my funk. Not that it was gone, because it came back in full force after Lis was diagnosed with craniosynostosis. But I was almost always able to see beyond the fog after that. I hurt so badly for MG and DG, and in a (OBVIOUSLY) lesser way for Lis and Vor and I. We already loved their baby, too. Lis would never get to know the playmate we were all so excited for her to meet. We all had such plans! If Baby G was a girl, they would be best friend. If Baby G was a boy, well, then, there was an arranged marriage on the horizon.

They miscarried twice more after that before finally getting a diagnosis: MG had a clotting disorder that only showed up when she was pregnant. I felt furious on their behalf--how do those crazy OB high risk doctors MISS something like that? but since they were relieved and ready to move on, we cheered them on.

They came to visit us in September 2013. During the 8 hour car ride to our house, MG decided to go pee on a stick in a gas station, and lo! PREGNANT. We all did the happy dance when they told us, and celebrated accordingly. We sent chocolate covered strawberries when we found out they were expecting twins. TWINS! I don't think I'd seen them look so light in spirit and heart since their first baby's stillbirth. It was almost like a healing had taken place with the news of twins.

It never lasts, does it? How were we all so foolish when we younger, to think that sex makes babies, and easily. How stupid were we when we thought we had it figured out, then SOMETIMES (usually) sex makes babies, and babies are born healthy. Oh, God, if there is a lesson I wish I could unlearn with with all my heart, it is this: Sex doesn't always make babies; babies aren't always born healthy, or even always born.

MG and DG called us, shaken, to learn to that Baby A had a terminal genetic defect. Baby A would likely pass away in the womb, and then it was a 50/50 chance on Baby B surviving. Baby A's heart stopped in December 2013.

I know this was MG's nightmare--to once more have a dead baby that she longed for inside her. I picked out her birthday present in January, and I wanted to get her a charm that said "Mother" but I couldn't. I know MG too well, and I just knew how it would hurt. I'll save it for later.

Almost three weeks ago, MG and DG texted us--MG was in labor; Baby A's water had broken. They stalled the labor, but MG was at high risk for infection, given how long Baby A had been dead, and that the water had broken. For two and a half weeks, MG stayed in a hospital bed, fighting off infection and boredom and fear.

Baby AG was born yesterday, after only 25.5 weeks of pregnancy, one day short of Valentine's Day, almost exactly two years after they lost their first baby. If you are the praying kind, please do it. If you're not, I think good thoughts in the universe count for a lot.