Monday, November 30, 2009

A tribute

On the anniversary of my dad's death I will reprint here for you the speech I gave at his 70th birthday and then again at his funeral. I hope it is somewhat funny and gives you some insight into why I miss him so much:

I know many of you knew my dad pretty well as a smart, serious and funny, wise and caring man who enjoyed life’s pleasures and knew how to manage a staff, a gaggle of crazy Russian visitors or a room full of graduate students. I want to share with you tonight the dad I knew and tell you a few things he taught me.

James Robert Millar, familiarly referred to as Jim Bob when in Texas, was born on July 7, 1936 to James and Virginia Millar of San Antonio, Texas. He grew up sandwiched between his older sister, Nancy, and his younger sister, Carolyn. It’s no easy being a middle child, but he knew he was destined for great things when he overheard his mother on the phone one day to a friend saying: “Nancy’s the smart one, Carolyn’s the pretty one, and Jim Bob delivers newspapers.” The very fact that he shared this story with me and can laugh at it is a testament to one of the lessons he taught me – never take yourself too seriously – always be able to laugh at yourself.

My dad did a stint in the ROTC and the Army Reserves. Now, you might not think of my dad as the army type, but it ran in the family and it helped pay for school. The funny thing is that the army probably had no idea what they had in their hands when Jim Bob arrived. Never taking things too seriously, as he knew this would not be his future career, he showed his loyalty to his troops when he located the officers cache of ice and delivered it to his enlisted men doing field maneuvers so they could have ice in their hidden stashes of scotch. He was such a brilliant leader that when the officers tried to stump him by handing him a troop of the biggest boneheadded, clutzy, two left footed, couldn’t see straight, tripping over themselves guys that no other company wanted, and then told him to attack the fortified base camp those same officers soon found grenades rolling into their tent while they played cards. I learned from my dad how to be a leader with humor and how to inspire loyalty in my own employees and coach the best out of them despite their weaknesses.

My dad sort of fell into his future. While going to graduate school at Cornell, he found a fellowship at Harvard to study Soviet Economics. The cold war had brought about a sudden demand for specialists in the Soviet arena. He wasn’t so certain, however, when he met an economics teacher who so frightened his students that they made a plan for each student to take turns answering one question a day, subjecting themselves to the ridicule that followed on an alternating basis. One thing my dad was great at was finding his footing anywhere. I learned by his example how to find a way through my uncertainty and fear when I’m in a new and intimidating situation.

My dad never stopped changing. He developed a talent for gourmet cooking when I was in high school, he learned Russian at 26 and how to ski at 30, and he grew to appreciate four star restaurants and walking along the C & O canal in the wee hours once he moved to D.C. Through all of this my dad taught me that you never have to stop bettering yourself.

One my dad’s greatest teachers was his own mother. A closet thespian herself, she coached him in speech and presentation. Her coaching can be seen in the lack of a Texas twang that accompanies most of his words. I could still catch him saying “Joo-ly” and “thee-ayter.” But it’s because of what he passed on to me that I stand before you giving this speech, hopefully without shuffling my feet and infusing my sentences with ‘uh’ and ‘you know.’

A few years ago I found myself in a job where I was underappreciated and unhappy. I felt that the place would fall down without me though and that I couldn’t leave. With a few simple words my dad gave me my most profound lesson to date. He just said to me one thing: “the graveyard is full of indispensable people.” Needless to say I’m not there anymore. I know he helped a lot of people step outside of themselves and see that they were not trapped in a life or future they did not desire. He was always supportive of his past students and employees when they chased their dreams too.

The man you knew the least and I knew the best was the guy who drove us to Michigan each summer playing Merle Haggard tapes and singing Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” The guy who would walk into Tower Records and asks an attendant to just pick some music out for him to try. The guy who took his daughter fishing at 6, married into a whole new culture, moved his family to Russia to write a book for a year and the guy who spent hours on the canal with binoculars spotting beaver, deer and all types of birds.

This is my dad, and for all that he has taught me and all he has shown me, I thank him today. I love you dad!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Crying jag

Being pregnant gives me free license to cry about anything I want to, right? And I do. I tell ya. I cry about the kids being sick, I cry about missing a few hours of sleep, I cry about daddy giving me a dirty look, I cry about having to crawl around on the floor cleaning up after dinner, heck I cry during dinner when the kids are told time and time again not to throw their food on the floor and then look at me innocently and do it again.

Why do they do that? Do they have a death wish? They are playing with a heavily pregnant, tired, mostly insane woman here and they don't see the warning signs?

I tell ya, the radio silence you suddenly experienced shocked me. This week is a rough one for many reasons. Small ones like, no nannies on Thanksgiving and Friday, having to sleep with one child at grandma's house, and the kids all getting sick like dogs the day after we can possibly take them to the doctor's office to do any good resulting in the one day I had a nanny being sacrificed to the gods of urgent care just to be told there is nothing they can do for a cough that is keeping my child awake for hours every night. And large things like my dad.

A year ago, the day before Thanksgiving, my dad decided he was going to die. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in June and had been a terribly unhappy patient during the whole process but he was done. He was telling me weakly, in a very dramatic way, that he "just wanted to see the kid's faces one last time...." The very next day.

Yes, I was supposed to pack up my 9 month old triplets, take grandma away from her husband, whom she hadn't seen in 3 months as they were still trying to sell their place in Illinois, find a hotel, tickets and everything else, and get my kids to the hospital before he died. Which, according to him was imminent. Strangely, his oncologist said he had months left. As  long as he continued treatment.

Can I tell you what he objected to and what caused him to stop treatment? A blood transfusion. Now I was later told that for cancer patients it can be a more painful process, but I've had 2 blood transfusions myself and I don't understand how this can be too much compared to chemo. But who knows. The fact of the matter is that he decided to die Thanksgiving weekend. And it was a decision he made and I was to jump to it to accommodate him.

I don't know if I sound unfeeling, harsh, or selfish right now, but it seems to me he could have made a choice that helped both of us more. He might have had a chance in hell of seeing his grandchildren once more or at least me if he could have waited. Taken a few more days of treatment. But he insisted. He was done, he was going home to hospice care and no more of any life saving treatments for him. And it was put on me to say that I could not give him his dying wish. I could not force my mother in law to jump on a plane with me and 3 infants at the drop of a hat for a man who, in theory, didn't have to die right then. Truthfully, I could not force myself.

Dad was always a drama queen. I remember fondly him handing me the keys to the car with the tank on empty and saying 'I hope you make it' when I was 16. I learned later that empty doesn't really mean empty. I also know that he lived for creating drama. This dramatic death was just another moment in life. I could not submit to this emotional sabotage and abuse myself for him this one last time. I told him I'd be there Monday. That was the best I could do, so he knew how fast I could get there.

I bought a ticket for my aunt, his sister, to get out there asap. She arrived to assess the situation and said, yes, he really is dying. I needed to come. She agreed the kids didn't need to come because dad wasn't really aware. I bought the fastest ticket I could to arrive Monday morning. On Saturday night dad was told I'd be there Monday. He died Sunday morning at 6 am.

The anger of having someone play such a game with you is hard to explain to those who haven't been in a screwed up family quite like this one. A lot of people will think he had no choice, or I'm being too hard on him, or even that he spared me. No, he did what he did because he chose to make a point. He couldn't even wait for his only child to get there as fast as she could. It didn't matter that I had 3 infants at home who took precedence. It didn't matter about the impossibility of what he asked me to do. He made his decision and I know why he did it but it still makes me mad.

I'd have liked to say goodbye.

So Thanksgiving will be tainted for a while. And that's frustrating too. It seems the older you get the more days and months and holidays get screwed up by tragic deaths and events in the lives of people around you. Didn't help that a fantastic guy died before Thanksgiving and I had to go to his funeral Friday either. The world has lost enough great people in my opinion. I need a break.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I am grateful for what I have, it's just hard to see through the clouds this week. I'm sure next year will be much better.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Music to live by

My life definitely has a soundtrack. I'm one of those people for whom almost every song has a memory and most of the people in my life have been assigned a song at one point or another. I imagine I inherited this gene because I remember very clearly setting out each summer for our rental home in Michigan to the sound of Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again" which my dad had popped into the tape deck of the car. I loved things like that. Later, after my brother died and one of his friends used a Pink Floyd phrase to memorialize him ("Shine on you crazy diamond") my dad would lay in the living room with that album playing mourning the loss of his son deeply. So, clearly, here is where I came from.

As a kid I used to compile 'depression tapes.' Oh yes, I called them depression tapes, growing up in a household with a mentally ill woman will give you a vocabulary of illness that others rarely use. I'd tape all the sad love songs I could find and then turn on the tape and get myself crying. I used to think of it as a sort of healthy therapy. I mean, nothing wrong with crying, right? And why not pick a specific convenient time to do so? I had a lot of sadness in my life, so I found plenty to cry about. That's sad in itself seeing as how I was 11, but whatever.

In high school, of course, every boy had a song. I religiously wrote down every song I slow danced to with my main crush, and any time any other boy asked me to dance I also wrote those down. At this point though, songs weren't really sticking as strongly as they did later. The transitory teenage mind I suppose. And the random choices of slow dance songs picked by high school djs also made it complicated because they just weren't right for the situation. But the 80s music as a whole can transport me right back there, Madonna's "Crazy for You" reminds me that I actually had the lyrics to that song taped up inside my locker door that year while I was pining away for that damned boy. Oh the hours I spent in angst over that silly boy who was just not interested in me. So much emotional energy!

When my brother died, the soundtrack that had defined him as an older brother would be my mourning tracks. Early on any of the music he used to listen to, which was a little more sophisticated than my taste since he was in college, would make me smile. Psychedelic Furs, Stray Cats, Adam Ant, and many others I'd seen him air guitaring to. Later, one in particular, "Melt With You" by Modern English, would show up in the oddest places right when I needed a little help, driving to have dinner with the parents or heading to the doctor with a scary lump in my breast. Seeing as how it's heyday had long past it became my song to know he was out there looking after me, because it was uncanny when it would come on the radio.

Nowadays the songs get less assigned but sometimes you're in a space in your life where you keep hearing a song and it just fits your feelings. For my mom, several years ago when I was struggling a little harder than average with relating to her, it was "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac. It was hard to even understand why the lyrics made me tear up, but they did. So it will always be about her and me.

When I was pregnant with the triplets I found a song about three babies by Sinead O'Connor of all people that made me bawl like nuts even though I have no idea what she intended it to be about. Might be three dead babies for all she meant, but for me it was a great tune to anticipate my future triplets. I listened to that sucker all day every day for weeks.

What I need to find now is a song for my dad. The anniversary of his death is fast approaching and I realize I have no song. I have a great soundtrack of Merle Haggard, Anne Muray, Crystal Gale and so on, but no song has stuck for his passing. Our relationship was complex, filled with lots of fun and interesting conversations, but also stressed by handling our individual relationships with my mom. He was definitely not always great, I struggled plenty dealing with his way of parenting, but he was a good friend in the end. So it's odd I haven't picked a song. I don't get a lot of radio time, true, but it only takes one song. Perhaps this weekend while I'm away scrapbooking and listening to all of my music it will hit me. Perhaps it's just too raw still. I need more distance before I can pick some lyrics to just mourn a bit while driving down the road. Because it's definitely hard to just mourn a bit yet. Still feels like a ton of bricks.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Thanksgiving to remember

I'm a romantic at heart. I believe in true love, princes, fairytale endings and dreams come true. It's a sickness, I know, and it leads to a lot of disappointment in life and the people around me, but it's just the way I am. In the same way I just knew there was some sort of God or spirit that powers the universe, I've always known that sometimes you can get that movie ending, if only for a little while.

Thanksgiving 2006 was one of those times. In the spring of 2006 I had a beautiful wedding that came off without (almost) any hitches. A fantastic honeymoon (actually we were greedy and took two) had followed in the spring and summer and I had convinced the somewhat reluctant husband to allow me to start trying for a baby. The payoff was instant for him of course, so the whining and wheedling didn't have to go on for too long. But he wasn't quite ready to be starting a family while I knew my time was running out somehow, so it was nice that I prevailed. Even though, by Thanksgiving, we had been trying for 5 months, it wasn't foremost on my mind and I hadn't given up yet.

So we approach our first Thanksgiving together as a married couple, in our new home that was perfect for family life. We had invited our friends over for the meal as I found I loved cooking for a crowd and had done so for the last couple of Thanksgivings already. That morning as I was prepping in my kitchen, chopping vegetables and cleaning potatoes while listening to my ipod, a certain song came on.

"At loooove...has come along...."

You know the one. "My lonely days are over and life is like a song" and all that. (and if you're truly clueless, go listen here, it's a classic)

A great song. A fantastic song for a sappy romantic spending her first Thanksgiving married and possibly pregnant (because when you're trying aren't you always possibly pregnant?) in a beautiful home with the prospect of friends coming from miles around to eat a great meal I prepared like a mommy already taking care of her family. Oh I was a mess. I played that song about 15 times, singing at the top of my lungs while tears trickled down my cheeks with happiness.

Disgusting, no?

On that day nothing could go wrong, even though half the guests didn't show (for apparently valid reasons later) and I think I had some other issues with cat hair being all over the outfit I had picked out to change into for the meal so I didn't feel all perfect homemaker like I'd dreamed. But overall? The best Thanksgiving ever. This romantic idealist had it all for a moment in time.

Sometimes, fairytales do come true, even if just for a little while.

This post prompted by Mama Kat's weekly assignment. Go check out everyone else's!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Everyone has fantasies. It's part of being human to imagine better things than one has, or just imagine things working out the way you want them to. It's just natural, although I'm sure some people fantasize more than others, we all know men too well to not know that.

My mom, growing up as an orphan, fantasized about what having a mother would be like. She imagined a best friend relationship between mother and daughter. And because she had a mom until she was 7 she had memories of the good times. I stood no chance in hell of living up to her fantasies. Even if I wasn't a stubborn, independent American kid, I could never be her best friend. Most kids aren't and shouldn't be their parent's best friends. She didn't hold my brother to that standard so she and he had a better relationship. I knew I was a failure in her eyes, or at least a disappointment, from early on.

She now has a fantasy that her new living place will be the place she belongs. Already, however, she is disillusioned. Already she is complaining about the food, the move, the people. Whatever.

My current fantasy is about childbirth. After my hellish c-section I mourned a positive birthing situation. I thought I had missed my only chance to have such a thing, I was stuck with this horrible memory and no breast feeding to boot. But then I got knocked up again magically. Here's my chance. I have been cleared for a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) and so there's nothing to prevent a fresh new positive birthing experience.

But am I expecting too much? I am hoping to go all natural, but I will have restrictions. Because of the possibility of complications I am not allowed to labor at home at all. I will be monitored continuously, and if the kid doesn't come out by 42 weeks, its over, c-section is necessary, because they can't or wont stimulate labor for a VBAC. Too much risk of uterine rupture. (TMI I know, sorry.) So there is a possibility I wont get to do this my way. There will be some fighting I have to do to maintain control and keep the worriers at bay until I really need medical intervention, but I'm up for that.

But otherwise, if the kid comes on time, I'm free to do what I want. No meds? I'm crazy enough to hope for that. You hear all this positive about the euphoria of the natural hormones that get released when you do it without an epidural. And my last epidural was no walk in the park anyway, so I'd love to avoid that sucker. So I dream that I might be one of those strong people who can mentally tough it out through labor and find that dream like ending where you hold the baby in your arms and feel incredible and powerful and connected and so on and so forth. Am I fantasizing outside of the realm of possibility?

Am I setting myself up for disappointment? Maybe these stories of euphoria are from crazy ladies who do yoga and breathing exercises for a living and only eat organic whole raw foods and live green and compost in their back yards and raise worms in their garages and stuff? Do I stand a chance when I don't have a spare minute to even do the yoga part? And I am so not raising worms people. Don't care if I could save the world.

I haven't got my ego riding on not getting an epidural, but I've read it's better for the kid. I do have my ego riding on how tough I am though. I worry that I'll crack immediately under the pain. I worry that I'll break and then regret it later realizing I could have made it. I wish I could have some sort of birthing coach but that's a tough area. My hospital has banned doulas because they were interfering by giving medical advice. And I'm also insecure that once I get a birthing coach she may push me too hard to stay natural when I've decided I'm over it. How do I get one who is fine if I change my mind and chicken out? How do I get one that is allowed in by the hospital? Is it really necessary to have this person or can I just make my husband give me what I need?

It's not that I think the husband is incapable, but it's his first birth too. An experienced voice in the room who can tell me I'm doing well, where I am in the process, help me focus and reassure me that I'm making the right choices when faced by problems, seems like a good idea.

Anyway, I digress. I am most concerned that I'm setting myself up for disappointment again. The first few months of motherhood as a rule contain lots of "you're not perfect" moments already. I don't need to feel like my birthing process itself was a failure again. I want to give this kid the experience the first three didn't get. I want that good story. How do I keep my expectations grounded in reality rather than lost in fantasy? Anyone got a good book for me to read about that?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Slacker Sunday photo

There's funny pictures and there's cute ones. This one is just cute. This is my J with his winning smile. Not devious, just happy. Love him.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

A Rose by any other name...

Dear Roseola,

Wow, Roseola, you are a special virus aren't you? Only attacking young children, scaring the crap out of their mothers, and pretty much benign but a pain in the ass. What a great way to be. Lets see how you like to entertain us, shall we?

First, we wake at 2 am and find a burning ember of a child in bed. Now, admittedly, we have been extra lucky in that we have maybe once before had a child with a high fever in this house. Truly remarkable considering we raised three simultaneously and most infants have random fevers now and then. But, unfortunately, because of my lack of experience with random night fevers, we had to call the nurse hotline to find out what to do when your kid is seemingly normal in every way other than the fact that he is being welded to your body where his iron hot skin touches yours.

So then the next day proceeds and we are lulled into a sense of security because no other symptoms appear. True, after nap we have three feverish children instead of one, but otherwise, they seem ok. After talking to the doctor, who mentions stomach bugs as a possibility (thanks doc!), I do get a little panicky thinking about three barfing toddlers all night long but you're too smart to go the blunt route. We actually get a pretty good night's sleep, fevers and all. So just when we thought it was all over, reality hits.

We have crabby, cranky, irritable children on hunger strike with random rashes sprouting all over their bodies.

And the 3rd night? No sleep at all. Somehow the 'irritability' mentioned on all website searches of symptoms of Roseola doesn't quite adequately describe the night we just survived. Every 15 minutes someone screaming or yelling in some sort of private agony that can not be translated into a solvable symptom? Oh yeah. That's lovely. Not letting pregnant mommy sleep until 3am and then waking her again at 6 with sobbing and whining and moaning and whimpering? Oh that is just touching.

So glad you cared to send the very best.

And this sneaky business of sending symptoms one at a time and far enough apart to confuse and distract? Why you should be in the CIA or something. The frying pan in the face that hits you right when you think you're through the last of it was a brilliant finale.

Hating you Roseola. Thank god for you and me that it's a once in a childhood thing, because if I ever see you again? (And that means the fourth kid better get a mild-ass case of it mister) I will be a lot less tolerant of you. Whatever that means.

Stupid virus.

Yours in exhaustion,

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Problem Solved?

Well the doctor called me today and said I'm anemic. Half of me thinks this is the solution to all of my problems, as if an iron pill a day will make me not exhausted when I'm pregnant, caring for triplet toddlers, dealing with my mom's crap and moving through the anniversary of my dad's death from cancer last year.

Yep, a pill ought to do it!

I do truly hope that taking an iron pill will give me a bit more energy, and mom's move is over after today, in theory (not to tempt the gods to make it last a third day), and I'm not one to pick a time of year to get depressed about something bad that happened, so perhaps I will be feeling better soon, physically and mentally. But I also know I'm depressed. Life feels very hard right now because every day is the same thing. Get up, care for the kids, slog through whatever mom throws at me, count the minutes to kid bedtime and try to cram in a couple of hours of things I like to do before I go to bed for what may or may not be a restful night, depending on the kids' and my pregnant body's cooperation.

I think I need a challenge. I feel like if I were struggling more, say, had no mornings a week with a nanny, had a disabled child, or something that made it truly impossible to make it through the day, I'd feel happier. Crazy no? But I'd be challenged. There was nothing I liked better about my previous jobs than days where I had to be so efficient that people's head spun as I went by. That's why I loved animal rehab with its 400 baby birds needing feeding while the phone rang and people dropped off new injured animals and cages needed cleaning. I loved retail during the Christmas season because there was always too much to do. I loved even just being an administrative person at a medical office because there was more to do in the day than could be accomplished.

At each of these jobs I left at the end of the day knowing I was probably the best employee because I don't lose my head in a crisis, I love the challenge of getting too much done in too little time, and I still did it well with a smile on my face.

Technically I do have too much to do in too little time, but some of it is easy to ignore. Say taking the garbage out or sweeping the floor. Just not really important when compared to keeping animals alive. How about folding laundry or de-cluttering my house? It can wait, right?

So how to feel motivated and challenged when caring for children (and mom) 24/7? I should be crafting xmas presents or something, but it works better when there's an urgency to what I'm doing. Christmas presents can wait too. I know so many women who do so much during nap time it puts me to shame.

And lethargy breeds lethargy. I promise. Half of my tiredness is boredom. I need a kick in the pants. I need a deadline. I need a boss breathing down my neck. I am an achiever of goals, not a creator of goals to achieve. I need a boss. Or a wife. I'll take either. Any takers?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Not old hat to this girl

It's funny because most people would assume that since I've been through a triplet pregnancy, this singleton pregnancy would be all 'old hat' to me. Uh no people. I might as well be pregnant for the first time.

Because, you see, it's all different. First off, I had a great group of triplet moms I communed with at least three times a day on baby center dot com and so when I had some strange sensation I ran right over there and heard from 3 other people that they felt that once or yesterday too. This was fantastic. I dream that we will all get together in Vegas some year when the triplets are old enough to be abandoned by mommy as well as we are all done paying for 100 diapers a day. They are like my long lost sisters, these ladies, and we still support each other through the trials and tribulations of triplet toddlers that NO ONE else could possibly understand.

Also, my life was a wee tad different back when I was pregnant the first time. Strange twinge? I lay down. Abnormal pressure feeling in uterus? Lay down. Not to mention that I was being seen by a doctor of some sort at the very least every other week and that cervix of mine never had so many viewings in all its previous years.

When you're pregnant with one kid no one wants to look at your cervix until a head is sticking through. And laying down? Not an option with triplet toddlers.

So here I sit, with no doctors wanting to check my cervix and no pictures of healthy babies every other week via ultrasound and decidedly different sensations. You might think I'd be all casual this time around but I can guarantee you that when I was pregnant with triplets it NEVER felt like one of them was dangling their little foot down outside of my cervix and kicking me right in the coochie.

Oh yes. Almost like I'm being kicked from the outside, thats how low this kid is hanging out.

The poor triplets probably didn't have room to dangle, much less aim their little limbs all crammed into that tiny space. This kid is drifting about in a pre-stretched uterus and what a low slung hammock it seems to be this time. The dr said today that it very well could be that I'm funneling and the kid's foot is reaching pretty far down. I have a mind to retaliate a bit (DH is now thinking how easily he could help with that.)

So I spend a lot of time analyzing the various pressures and twinges and aches and agues that I am suffering because it all feels different. I'm less scared this time around but I don't feel like I know enough to be all worry free. And it is definitely strange to not have doctors wanting to poke and prod me regularly throughout this process. I never realized how reassuring it was to see those kids waving and jumping around on ultrasound all the time. This kid is just going to have to hang in there and give me some obvious signs if something goes wrong.

But I do not like feeling like a novice at a game like this. I suppose this is what children are for though, because the likelihood is that when this one comes out I will still be a novice. The chance that anything I've learned from raising the first three will pay off with the fourth? Not high. That would be too easy. I suspect a whole new game will be afoot then too. Got to keep momma one step behind don't they?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Beginning to look a lot like.....

I used to rock the Christmas season. I had presents early, ideas for presents for everybody and resources to find those presents too. Those were the days.

When I lived in the glorious state of Maryland, which I miss every day, I used to visit every craft fair for miles. I knew each one, half of the artisans who worked them, and I loved every minute of it, even if I didn't buy anything. Mostly I bought stuff for myself, but when the holidays started rolling around I had a veritable festival of gift ideas handed to me by one of the most popular craft fair regions around.

Lest you think I gave everyone crocheted potholders just you hold on right there.

These were artisans. Beautiful framed photos of almost every kind of subject, hand painted ceramics, hand carved wooden toys, thick, luxurious blankets. This stuff was good. And I always overspent. And then half of the things I bought for other people? I gave to myself in the end.

But I digress. The truth is I was always prepared for Christmas present giving long in advance and I always had great ideas of what to give people. Well, perhaps they just never let on that I sucked, but I'm pretty sure I didn't. These days though? I can't even think of one thing for one person on my list. There are no craft fairs around that I am familiar with, even if I had time to hit one, I don't have spare money to experiment on crafty gifts, and inspiration? Gone.

I don't have the brain power for inspiration. I am exhausted, overwhelmed, fried mentally and emotionally, where am I going to find spare brain cells for inspiration?

Oh, woe are those who exchange presents with me. You'd better make a good list if you want anything. Otherwise? I might just whip out my own crocheting needles. It might get ugly.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

slacker Sunday photo

I already know I'm screwed with this kid because he knows that smiling when mommy's yelling at him gets him out of trouble. But when I see pictures that show how well he knows how cute he is I am doubly certain I'm screwed. I am so screwed.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fear not

Fear is hard to overcome. When your fear is only 2 years old it's impossible.

When I gave birth almost 2 years ago (although giving birth is altogether too benign a way to describe the horrors of my c-section with the triplets) I suffered through some awful complications. I could go on about the surgery itself, the recovery from the surgery, the blood transfusions and so on, but the worst part started before that. The two nights before I had my children I couldn't breathe.

I lay in bed that Sunday night in February coaching myself through the feeling of suffocation. You'd think I'd have awakened my husband, called a doctor, or something, but I guess I thought it was just those crazy kids smothering me with their fat little bodies all pressed up against my lungs and diaphragm. It's pretty normal to be short of breath when you're pregnant.

But it wasn't that. It apparently was that my blood pressure was sky high. I was heading into pre-eclampsia, that delightful unhealthy space where your body is giving up the battle to support other life forms within you. And mine was giving up quick. Apparently high blood pressure makes it hard to breathe but the doctors were afraid my lungs were filling up with fluid as the heart was giving out. Pulmonary edema you know. Not a good problem to have. So to the hospital I headed. They tried to stabilize me and I had what the doctors would probably call a 'good night' but for me it was a living hell.

I still couldn't breathe. I also suffered from extreme hot and cold, had to sleep with three belts with cold metal monitoring devices strapped to them wrapped around my body. It was terrible.

I'd like to say I was strong and determined to make it to 36 weeks, full term for triplets, but 2 nights of not breathing crippled me mentally. I was just at 32 weeks and like hell I was suffocating for 4 more. I gave up. I told the doctor my resolve was gone and to get those damned kids out of me. We had already gotten steroid shots, so the babies were in great shape to come out, albeit early. There was nothing left to do but stop mom from dying slowly mentally and physically.

The problem was that the high blood pressure takes weeks to get down. Sure, they put me on drugs after the birth and monitored me closely, but I was still having incredibly high numbers. 150s over 100s. And I could not sleep in any position except sitting up. A week later, when I went home I had to sleep in the recliner downstairs sitting up. And still I suffocated. When all the lights were out and it got too dark? Suffocation.

I had to have DH create a soundtrack of soothing music to play on loop all night so that when I was awake I had something to hold onto reality. For a week I slept in the living room with a soundtrack. (The babies didn't come home for weeks after me so no problems there.) I finally made it up to my own bed but had to sleep with a hundred pillows like I had while pregnant. Two weeks into recovery I visited my OB. I explained that I couldn't lay down because I couldn't breathe and he urged me to try while telling my mother in law it was all in my head. Nice.

I'll tell you what, my head sure was convincing.

Somehow I got through this and eventually lay down again and life went on, but when I lay down to take a nap today? Couldn't breathe. Panic set in. Am I already succumbing to pre-eclampsia? Am I going to go through this all again? It doesn't take much to remember the incredible fear and feelings that went along with feeling like I was suffocating. My attempts to rationalize what happened today don't help. I have some serious fear to overcome in the next 2 months before I give birth. Because this is only going to get worse, and while I may not get that sick, I had better get through whatever is handed to me and I had better not get any more fears along the way!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A theory of relativity

It's all relative isn't it? Parenting I mean. From day to day, how you react to x, y or z is all relative.

Last night, while A was crying in her 'night before I get really sick' way I had no sympathy. I got up once, made sure she wasn't currently sick, wet or missing a stuffed animal or blanket and never again. Two weeks ago?  I got up 4 or 5 times. I felt sorry for her. I knew she probably had a sore throat. She never lets me give her meds in the middle of the night though, so what can I do for a sore throat? Is it better to lay in bed listening to her cry, knowing she would stop if I went in every time, but then would be back on in an hour or so?

Well last night it was. Which mom is right? The sympathetic one? Or the sleepy one?

Today, perhaps I have no patience, because I am tired. Disputes get settled with both kids getting yelled at. Yesterday, perhaps, I was better able to distinguish between aggressor and victim. Did it make a difference? Not really. They fought again 5 minutes later. Did the victim feel vindicated or understood? I  doubt it at 21 months.

But perhaps this is the balance. Some days I'm more or too sympathetic. Some days I'm a beeyotch. If it's 50/50, maybe this is balance? Because no human can be balanced every day. And too much sympathy is bad too, perhaps not as bad as too little?

It's all relative. And lately I have been relatively unhappy, so they have probably suffered in my parenting that way. Now I guess I have to manufacture a couple of weeks of happy parenting and it should all even out. Any hints on how to do that other than offing some annoying people in my life?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Da Pitts

Oh I'm there again. The deep black hole that is so easy to fall into where you feel all alone and abused and unappreciated. Call it hormones, bad confluence of events, whatever, but there I am, spending half of yesterday crying and the other half on the verge of it.

You know the problem with being human is that all of your friends and loved ones are human too. Therefore fallible. They will let you down. They will continue to do the things that they do that drive you crazy. They will make efforts to change but not really change. They have the best of intentions and yet, they are who they are. And you have built your life with them in it. And without excommunicating everyone, there you are.

I'm not about airing dirty laundry here, other than about my mom, who can't read blogs due to a developmental delay in the area of machinery (also known as fear of all objects with buttons.) But thankfully, I can complain about her as she is at the root of this big slide I just rode. My mom is bipolar. Diagnosed after 40 years of ineffective psychological intervention and still not really under control.

Or at least I see that now. For the last couple of months I had fallen for it. "It" being her good days that seemed like finally a doctor had found the right cocktail of drugs for her. I now see why my dad fell for it. Although after the 80th time you might think he'd have gotten a clue. I sure have one now. She gets so 'well.' She's still annoying as hell, but she's all there. The brain is clicking away, she's independent, finds things to do, gets physically more healthy and so on.

She seems 'normal' for a crazy lady.

And then it comes. I saw the warning signs. I even tried to warn her current doctor. You all can bet when you see three postings on my blog about mom after months with none that the storm is coming. The doctor just said she thought it meant more signs of mom's health. She didn't listen to me. Even when mom decided my daughter was turning against her. My 20 month old daughter without an evil bone in her body. The doctor didn't listen.

So then mom comes and visits and says that she's having her phantom pains again. And she's been medicating herself. For those of you unfamiliar, my mom is in an assisted living facility specifically because she is not allowed to medicate herself. She has intentionally overdosed herself multiple times, so no, she should not even possess medications, much less be administering them to herself. And the medicine of the moment?


Or for those of you in the know, the most addictive damned pain med ever. Mom, the shaky handed 75 year old woman, managed to sneak pills into hiding. When I pay people specifically to watch her take each and every pill each and every day.

Addicts are smart you know. And generally very charismatic.

People trust them.

So, long story short, her doctor went and talked to her and supposedly mom gave her all her extra pills. Surprise, surprise, when a director from the assisted living facility searched mom's room the next day? Still 4 more pills were found. Does the doctor now listen to me? She doesn't return my calls all of a sudden. Does she now see that mom's unstable again? No, she goes ahead and gives her review of mom's mental state to the new facility mom wants to move into and apparently it's good enough that they still want her.

Um, yeah people. Go ahead. Because one way or another it seems mom's going to get what she wants. And it is abundantly clear now that I am not going to be able to control it, convince people to heed my warnings or avoid the drama altogether. And that is disappointing as hell. Mom has convinced another round of people to listen to her, the drug addict manic depressive, over the well therapized, mostly stable grown daughter who has seen it all a hundred times.

Who would you believe? Thats what I thought. But somehow, the people I should be able to trust and lean on? They let me down every time.