Oct 192012
 

Come on! How effin cool is rain?!

I sat down at my computer today with the full intention of writing something funny.  Something witty and clever and far, far, far away from the emotional and slightly sad tone my blog has taken as of late.  I starting typing a blog about losses and gains – about funny things that you gain and lose after having a baby.  Inconsequential things… like your mind.  However, the more I started thinking about losses, the more I started thinking about loss.  And, as so often happens when I am writing these blogs, my fingers began to take me somewhere that I didn’t know I wanted to go.  My husband says that he learns so much about me by reading my blog, and I have to say that in writing it, I learn so much about myself.  So screw funny.  It’s over-rated anyway.  (But stay tuned next week for the revival of my usual biting wit and thinly veiled sarcasm. Probably.)

I have had loss on my mind lately.  Last weekend my husband found out that one of his good friends’ wives passed away.  It was cancer.  It was quick.  It was devastating.  I personally had only met her once as they live in London, but she was a beautiful and kind woman.  She was also a wonderful mother to her two young children.  Her youngest is the same age as my daughter. When we heard the news over the weekend, my heart ached for my husband’s friend who was left without a wife and especially for those two young girls who were left without a mother.  But I also ached for this young, vibrant mother who will not get the chance to see her children grow up.

As I said before, I didn’t know her very well.  But in the short time we spent together, I was struck by how much she reminded me of me.  She was about my age.  She loved her family.  She loved to have fun.  She loved to laugh.  She loved life.  We were both pregnant when we met, although she already had one daughter.  She was wise and experienced and she graciously answered all of my (many, many) questions about babies and about motherhood.  Since then, I expect that the past year-and-a-half since her daughter was born was a lot like mine:  sleepless nights, blissful moments, more laughter than she ever thought possible.  I am sure that she spent many hours marveling at the perfection of her daughter’s face and imagining the possibilities of her daughter’s future, much the way that I have.

Then she woke up one day, just like any other day, but on this day she had a headache.  She woke up with plans and hopes and dreams, just like any other day, but she didn’t know that this particular day would be her last.  She didn’t know that she would never get to see her children grow up, get married, or have children of their own.  She didn’t know that she would never again get to marvel at the beauty of her daughter’s face or get the chance to discover who her daughters will become.

She reminded me a lot of me, and I think that’s why I felt the loss so greatly, even though I barely knew her.  If it could happen to someone like her, then it could certainly happen to someone like me.  None of us know which day will be our last.  And as sad as this thought makes me, it is also a reminder of how wonderfully precious life is.  A wise somebody once said that we should, “Live every day like it is our last.”  And while I do think this is sound advice, I also think it is a bit too sad for my taste.  It is hard to think of our last days without feeling a bit melancholy, and I don’t want to live every day like that.

Instead, I am going to try to live every day as if it is my first.  Like a child.  Full of the magic and wonder and true appreciation that comes from experiencing everything for the first time.  Without the fear and regret we learn as we get older and “wiser”, and without the ambivalence that often comes with age.   The world is full of amazing things and people and moments that, as adults, we often fail to recognize or even see.

My daughter’s new word is “Wow!”  A bird in the sky gets a heartfelt “Wow!”; fitting the right puzzle pieces together gets a “Wow!”; seeing a dog on the street gets a “Wow!”; even my stepping out of the shower naked got a “Wow!” (It’s been a while since that happened, but I will try not to let it go to my head.) A bite of cheesecake, a big splash in the bath, my funky neon green nails, a great song, a perfect hi-five… all of these are deemed “Wow!” worthy by my daughter.  And they are. Each and every day is full of these simple Wow! moments if we are young and wise enough to recognize them.

And while I hope that I have many, many (many, many, many, many) more Wow! moments left before my last day, I am going to try to live them all like they are my first.
photo credit: Frederic Mancosu via photopin cc

Oct 092012
 

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote a solid post, and to those of you who plan your life and all major decisions around my blog posts, I sincerely apologize. To the rest of you aka all of you, I apologize as well. As you may have gathered from my mostly short yet bitter posts over the past few weeks, I have had a bit going on. My daughter got Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, which was an agonizing week of high fevers and Contagion-style quarantine. She was recovered for approximately two days before she spent a night throwing up for reasons unknown, and then miraculously recovered again for about a week. She then got Erythema Multiforme related to the HFMD virus, which caused even higher fevers and horrible hive-like lesions and sores all over her little body, including the inside of her mouth. Fun for the whole family! After a week of that madness, she recovered for a day – just long enough for us to overconfidently decide to celebrate with a weekend getaway. On the first day of the vacation she got a nasty cold complete with, yes, a high fever.

Needless to say, it has been a tough month.  Definitely the toughest month since my daughter was born.  And it feels like maybe the toughest month since I was born.  I have had some hard times in my life, though admittedly not as hard as many.  I have had my fair share of illnesses, surgeries and hospital stays.  Somehow though, it seems more difficult to take when it is happening to my daughter rather than directly to me.

Of course, it hasn’t been all bad.  There have been some great moments when she is feeling better and all seems right in the world.  I have learned a lot of lessons.  I have gained a bit (ok, a teeny, tiny bit) of patience.  I have discovered that I can be stronger than I ever thought I could be.  However, I have been working so hard to be a good mom that I haven’t had much time to be a good… anything else.

I haven’t had much time to be a good friend. Many a phone call, text and email has gone unreturned in the past month.  And when I do manage to find the time to chat with my friends, it’s mostly just to vent.  I end up talking so much about what’s going on in my life, that I rarely ask what’s going on in theirs.  Jerk!

I haven’t been a good worker.  I have turned down a lot of work simply because I just can’t take care of my daughter and take care of work too.  I had a choice to make, and as a freelancer, I was in the position to make it, so I chose my daughter.  I wouldn’t change those decisions, but it doesn’t exactly make me the most reliable person to hire.

I haven’t been a good homemaker.  Not that I usually excel in this arena, but my usually feeble attempts at cooking, cleaning and hosting have gotten beyond pathetic – we’re talking frozen dinners/baby stuff covering every surface of the house/turning my underwear inside out so I don’t have to do laundry – pathetic.

I most definitely haven’t been a good wife.  When I am stressed, sad and angry at life, or even when I am frustrated with my daughter, I have to take it out on someone.  I obviously can’t take it out on my daughter and I don’t have life’s email or phone number, so the back-up choice has been my husband.  Fortunately I picked a partner who doesn’t usually feel the need to take his frustrations out on anyone, but who understands me enough to know that I do.  And so he lets me.  Usually.

And out of everyone, the person I have treated the worst is myself.  I have stopped exercising, managed to take stress-eating to whole new level of disgusting, and some days have decided to forgo even the most basic levels of general hygiene (I guess I should apologize to my husband for that one too.)  And as a general warning to anyone who encounters me on the street, I am prone to break down in tears for no reason, and just as likely to start muttering to myself in a scream-whisper.  Oh yeah, and there’s a strong chance that I will be wearing a dirty bathrobe.  At first I thought I might be pregnant.  Now, I realize that I have slowly been losing my mind.

I am a half step away from ribbon roll earrings and rollers in public. Next stop: Eating my own hair.

But things are looking up.  My daughter is finally recovering from the latest installment of Outbreak 2012, hopefully this time for longer than a day or two.  So, there will be no more excuses.  No more of the selfish friend who only talks about herself.  No more of the wife whose husband is slightly afraid he will wake up in the middle of the night to find her standing over him with a butter knife.  No more main-lining red wine/coffee/entire sleeves of Oreos.  No more half-assed work.  No more depressing blogs (for now). No more messy house…Ok, ok. Who I am kidding? I have a toddler.  The house will always be messy.  Deal with it… or you may wake up to find me standing over you with a butter knife.

Oct 082012
 

I swear that being a parent is the craziest roller coaster in the world.

My daughter is sick yet again, for the third week out of four weeks. This time with a nasty cold and again with a fever hitting above 104. She was up at midnight night crying inconsolably. Probably because she was tired but couldn’t sleep, scared because she couldn’t breathe, and angry because Mama couldn’t fix it. She was screaming and crying, and I was crying because I couldn’t help her. And I was tired because I haven’t once slept through the night in the past month.  And it was midnight. And I was thinking, “I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”

Then, morning came. And the sun was shining. And my daughter woke up feeling a bit better. And she hugged me tight and said “Lub you” in her little, hoarse, stuffy-nosed voice. And I thought, “I don’t know what I ever did before this.”


photo credit: Hamed Saber via photopin cc

Oct 012012
 

My daughter is sick, yet again.  Fever spiked up to 105.7 last night.  Hives covering her entire body including her face, and it makes me want to weep every time I look at her.  No sleep for many nights due to fever and hives.  One car with a busted transmission even though it only has 60,000 miles.  The other car I used to sideswipe a parked car in the street in front of the doctor’s office today.  Hey, my sick daughter was crying in the back and did I mention I am tired.

All I can say is that life is being a real dick right now. So if I don’t return phone calls or clean my house, or if I polish off an entire bags of chips in one sitting (hypothetically of course) or yell at inanimate objects (also hypothetically)… don’t blame me, blame life.

Sep 182012
 

I just wanted to let you all know that Lyla is recovered and seems to be back to normal…well,  as normal as a one-year-old can be.  Mostly I wanted to thank you all for your concern, well-wishes, thoughts and messages, as well as the sharing of your own personal stories, experiences and worries.  It meant a lot and reading them helped me get through a LONG week.

But Lyla is recovered and back to confusing and terrifying me in new ways and I am done stressing about this illness… and on to stressing about everything else.

Thank You!

Sep 132012
 

On the crazy up-and-down, round-and-round carousal that is parenthood, of course a fun and laughter-filled weekend with friends and family would be followed by illness.  I found out yesterday that my daughter has Hand, Foot and Mouth disease.  Huh?  Although many people, me included, would I argue that I have a perpetual case of Foot-in-Mouth Disease, I had never heard of HFMD until yesterday.  It sounds pretty damn gross, but it actually sounds much worse than it is. It is a viral illness with the primary symptoms being blister-like sores all over the body but concentrated around the hands, feet and mouth… ok that is pretty gross… and a high fever.  And when I say high, I am talking Snoop Dogg hotboxing with Willie Nelson high – my daughter hit 104.5 last night.  The good news is that the fever does come down with medicine, as well as scream-and-cry inducing cool baths; the bad news is that it doesn’t seem like good news at 3 am when her fever has shot back through the roof.

There is nothing worse than when your child is sick.  It is not just how horrible you feel for them, but how totally helpless it makes you feel.   You can have a medicine cabinet stocked full of anything your child might need, you can have your doctor on speed-dial, you can read books, websites, medical-journals, mommy blogs, and doctor advice sites.  You can prepare for the worst, but nothing can prepare you for IT – for that feeling that nothing is really in your hands.  Not even your child’s life.  And nothing can prepare you for how insignificant that makes you feel.

I wonder if it ever goes away –  the worry, the heartache, the pain of watching your children suffer without being able to do anything. I think not.  I guess I hope not… I wonder what it would mean if it did.

Jul 202012
 

Back in the day, when I was a young college student and “boot-and-rallying” was a badge of honor, the name “Vomitfest 2012” would have implied a crazy night involving numerous shots of dubious quality, dancing on the bar 100% convinced that I looked fabulous, possibly an ill-informed bar-makeout session, and ending most definitely by kneeling before the porcelain goddess before hitting up Denny’s for pancakes, french fries and cheesesticks.  Now that I am a mom, the word vomit doesn’t conjure up nearly such grand images.

Vomitfest 2012 started as my nights rarely do with a dinner out with girlfriends. My husband was home with my daughter, and I was a carefree woman on the loose, free to enjoy a great restaurant with a wide variety of delicious dishes, which I would greatly regret later, and many drinks. Later that night, as my husband and I were going to bed, I started to get a raging headache and a fluttery stomach.  I joked, “Is it bad that I am ALREADY hung over?”  This might be the first time that I have ever said this, but oh, how I wish I was hung over.

By 2 am I was puking my soul.  After 10 minutes of vomiting so hard that I expected my head to spin around, Linda Blair style, I returned to bed, chilled and sweating.  I heard my daughter making a little noise and coughing a bit, so I looked on the monitor to see her calmly sitting her crib.  I repeat “calmly sitting her crib.” At 2 am.  Not crying (which is scary at 2 am because you know it’s going to be a long night,) not playing (even scarier as this usually equals an even longer night,) but calmly sitting up in the corner of her crib, hardly moving a muscle (the scariest thing I have ever seen, akin to Paranormal Activity.) My husband goes to check on her and after 10 minutes I hear him call my name.  I rush to her nursery and discover what looks like a horrific crime scene… an explosion of purple-black vomit (the result of some unfortunate blueberries for lunch) covering every surface of my daughter’s crib and my daughter herself as she lay on the floor, staring sightlessly into space.  My husband says, “Can you watch her?  I’m going to be sick.” as he rushes out of the room, and I am left with my filthy, sick daughter, wishing that I had something left to throw up.

Seeing my normally active-bordering-on-manic daughter laying on the floor barely blinking was probably the scariest experience yet in my short career as a mom, and I instantly forgot my own illness and snapped into Mommy Mode.  I swept my daughter up and began to hum while initiating the Mommy Mode Cleaning Cycle (when you don’t know what to do, clean!) opening windows and stripping off pjs and sheets. Somewhere during this time frame I was vaguely aware of the fact that my husband had returned with the news that he was also throwing up and, after briefly passing out in the bathroom, had called 911.  Even armed with that news, I was still quite surprised when halfway into my Mommy Mode Cleaning Cycle, 6 giant men stormed into my house.

Now I realize that my husband had told me that he called 911, but for some reason I thought that he had called a fictitious 911 advice line, where they had given him some sage advice and then hung up.  Apparently this does not exist.  And if you have never called 911 before, let me tell you a little secret:  when you call, they come… 6 big men and a fire truck and an ambulance.  I know this because I said, “Wow.  There are a lot of you guys.  So, this is what happens when you call 911?  I wish I would have known this when I was single.”   In my defense, I make really bad jokes when I am nervous and right then I was scared as hell.

Ignoring me, the six giant medic-firemen continued to storm around the house testing for carbon monoxide, while taking our blood pressure and asking all kinds of questions like, “What did you eat for dinner? Could this be food poisoning?” (We all ate separately. No.) “Could you be pregnant?” (Recoil in horror. No.) “Do you use recreational drugs?” (After this experience I am considering it, but… No.) “Do you have any known enemies who would want to harm you?” (um. swallow… run through a fairly long list of people I have offended in my head and decide that there is no one who would want to actually kill me…No.) “You go to Lake Powell?” (Yes. No. What…Huh?)  “I saw your photo there at Lake Powell.  We all go every year. It’s pretty cool.” (Now, I know that I’m not a trained firefighter or medical professional, but how is looking at my family photos helping anyone?  Just… No.)

Anyway, after of all this, they deemed our house free of carbon monoxide and determined that we had most likely all gotten a stomach flu at exactly the same time.  They did suggest that we take Lyla to the ER because she is so small and susceptible to dehydration.  We declined the fancy $1500-a-pop 5 minute ambulance ride and decided to drive our daughter to the ER ourselves.  So, armed with a plastic bag for me and a waterproof bib for Lyla, we headed to the closest ER.  After a brief detour so I could throw up in the parking lot, we made it inside and proceeded to wait… and wait… and wait.  My daughter, of course, didn’t get the memo that we were waiting and continued to throw up continuously.  I guess you truly know that you are a mom when you let your daughter throw up on your neck because you can tell by her frightened eyes that loosening her death grip on you is not an option.

After what seemed like an puke-soaked eternity, they finally brought us in.  They checked out Lyla and said that she was going to be just fine.  They gave her an anti-nausea medicine and some Pedialyte, and after a while they let us go.  On the car ride home she was already returning to her normal self, singing and playing with her toys.  By this time it was 6 am and after a 3 hour nap she was as good as new.  Her parents, however,were another story.  I have never been so relieved to see her tearing around the house, causing her usual chaos and destruction.  But as thrilled as I was that she was doing better, when I looked at the clock and saw that it was only 10 am and realized that we still had to get through the entire day… if I wasn’t already throwing up, I would have thrown up.  That’s when I came to harsh realization that parenthood is the only job that truly has no sick days. My husband and I had to take care of our daughter.  But who was going to take care of us?

Somehow we managed to tag team our way through a long, long (long, long) day with a little help from Sesame Street (for 5 minutes) Etch-a-sketch (6 minutes) and Goodnight Moon (11 times and counting).  Finally at 9 Pm, we put Lyla down for the night, slapped each other a pathetic high-five and passed out.  Lyla let us sleep for a blissful 11 hours and I woke up feeling… well maybe not 100% physically (or even close really), but in some ways even better than 100%. There’s something about that first day back after being really sick that makes you appreciate everything a bit more. I appreciate the energy and life in my sweet, wonderful, crazy daughter; I appreciate that I have a husband with whom I am sure that together we can face any obstacle (even when the obstacles are coming out of both ends); and I appreciate how damn good it feels to just feel normal.

Now I’m going to go celebrate life, love and health… by drinking till I feel like crap.