If you’re not into pity parties, this will not be something you want to read.
I am having a day. That’s not true, I’m having a year. We are having a year.
My husband chose to do this one year fellowship because he thought that a) he could get a job at this hospital (where he thought he might want to work long term), b) it’s a specialty he has always wanted to be in. It turns out that this is definitely absolutely not where he wants to work. Ever. He also feels concerned about moving ahead in this specialty for reasons that don’t need to be written. And well, it’s been a long six months and there are six to go.
Six more months of grunt work. Six more months of horrible hours. Six more months of sink or swim learning for less than minimum wage. Six more months of missing bedtime.
When we moved to our current apartment, we had a bunch of money in savings. We knew we’d need it (higher rent, higher loan payments, second baby) and we worked hard to build it up. We thought it would be sufficient. And we thought this apartment could hold four people for a year and we’d make do.
It’s been 8 months since we moved. We’re down to 1/10 of our initial savings, my husband’s stipend check is late and we literally can’t pay for Eli’s preschool until it comes in. There are piles upon piles all over our apartment because 1000 square feet is not enough square feet for 4 people, 2 cats and all our shit (not literal shit). My car’s air conditioning went out this week. My husband’s power steering went out last month. We have money to fix neither. Everything is feeling a bit out of control. To put it mildly.
I am just so frustrated. How did we get here? How am I 31 years old, living in this tiny apartment crammed with people? How do we have two doctorates and two great jobs but we can’t pay for preschool tuition? These are rhetorical questions. I know we chose expensive schools, I know I don’t work full time (may not be the case soon…). I know we have not always been wise with our money. But we have worked really hard the past few years.
I do not have long term ambitions of riches and piles of money. I have long term ambitions of financial stability. Of not worrying about how missing a day of work to care for my sick kids might mean we can’t pay for something we need.
This year was never likely to be an easy one. But I didn’t expect this. I’m hedging all my hopes on July 1, when we move somewhere bigger. On August 1, my husband’s first real paycheck. On the future in general. Because things are lean and ugly right now.
Somewhat coincidentally, in the past week I’ve been involved in several online discussions about being a working parent. Since I only work 3 days a week I don’t share the same burdens or experiences as full time working parents and I try to be really respectful of that. I am grateful for the arrangement that I have.
But this week, hell, this month, it has been hard to be a working parent. Even a part time working parent.
Some of the struggle has been because I’m an hourly employee and both boys were sick, necessitating days off for my husband and me. This is especially rough since both child care centers require us to pay for the full 3 days, regardless of whether they’re used.
But beyond the missed work and income, this month has been difficult because it was the first time that I ever really realized I missed something.
I was chatting with Will’s daycare teachers at drop off one morning this week and mentioned that given how rough the past month was on Will, it was no great surprise that he wasn’t rolling yet (he’s rolled belly to back exactly once at home). Both teachers looked confused. Finally one said, “he rolls all the time here!”
Today his form said that everytime they set him on his back he immediately rolled to his belly. I cannot tell you how much time Will spends on the floor. It’s a lot. More than Eli did. And not once has William ever rolled. Tonight I carefully moved all his toys in such a manner that he’d have to roll to see them and…nothing.
My child will not roll for me.
I think what bothers me the most isn’t that Will did something for the first time at daycare, it’s that I dont even know when the first time was. His daycare teachers didn’t realize he wasn’t rolling at home so they didn’t think to tell me. I didn’t just miss it, I didn’t even know about it. I have the date for all Eli’s firsts and I’m only 4 months in and I’m already missing things for William.
For the most part I really like working- my job and coworkers are awesome and I think both my kids benefit from time away from me. I’m lucky in that I can stay home 2 days each week (and weekends) with my boys, I know that. But that doesn’t make it any easier to know that I didn’t just miss the first roll. I missed the first 20. I can’t even put a date in his baby book because I wasn’t there. It’s probably not a big deal in the long run, but today it feels big.
It’s the 4th year I’ve done this and I know probably everyone else is over this kind of thing already, but I’m not. So I’m doing it again. I find it kind of fun to go back and read previous years and see what has, and mostly what hasn’t, changed.
1. What did you do in 2014 that you’d never done before?
Not a whole lot, it really wasn’t a hugely groundbreaking year. Aside from becoming a mother of two kids. And I don’t want to harp on this much because it’s the kind of thing that would make me roll my eyes hard if I was reading it instead of writing it, but I also successfully nursed a baby, which is something that I didn’t know if (or how) I’d be able to do.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Nope and nope.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Well, I did. But beyond that, not a whole lot of people close to me. My boss did and several friends, but no one I am extra close to, either in terms of relationships or proximity.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes. In June I lost my beloved grandfather. It was the best outcome for the situation he was in at the time, but it continues to be extremely difficult to move on without him. I still often expect to see him at family functions and I know that especially during the holidays, his absence was very apparent and sad for not just me, but my whole family.
5. What countries did you visit?
None. I didn’t even visit anywhere outside like a 150 mile radius from our front door. I think it’s entirely possible that Bakersfield was our farthest trip, which is really sad.
6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
Sleep. Like 10 straight hours of it. Financial security. Stability of location. We are moving in 2015 and then hopefully not again for a LONG time. 8 moves in 11 years is too many moves.
7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
August 14th- the last day we were a family of 3.
August 15th- the day William was born and everything changed (in a great, great way).
November 27th- Thanksgiving and the 7th anniversary of my brain surgery.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Being really, genuinely happy. There were some not so great parts of this year (so much morning sickness, so much stress), but I have just been really, really ridiculously happy the whole way through. I asked for help when I needed it, I have taken time to care for myself and I am really enjoying my life.
9. What was your biggest failure?
Losing my patience with Eli. He is the most incredibly gifted button pusher and I am so easy for him to frustrated. I wish I could be a more zen-like parent for him.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Morning sickness for months. It was awful. Like, William is the easiest baby and I want a million more just like him, but it’s going to take a few years to forget what it was like to pull over my car and vomit on the way to work.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
The velcro swaddle sack William sleeps in. And his Zantac. And Disneyland year passes.
12. Where did most of your money go?
Daycare and preschool ($1500 a month. OMG.) Student loans, rent, groceries (read: junk food), giving Eli things.
13. What did you get really excited about?
Eli growing up into this real person who says things and does things so far beyond what I realized he could do. Watching him grow up is just such a huge privilege. I am so, so lucky to be his mom and so excited for 2015 and all it holds for him (and for William, obviously). I was also really really excited to not be pregnant anymore.
14. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Probably a tie between Let it Go and the theme songs to Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Dinosaur Train.
15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? 10,000,000 times happier.
– thinner or fatter? Fatter, by about 8 pounds.
– richer or poorer? This one is interesting, because we are actually making more money, but our bills are higher, so we are actually poorer, sadly.
16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Staying awake when I could’ve been sleeping. It might be worth mentioning that William is in a bit of a sleep regression right now, so my answers might be a bit skewed.
18. How did you spend Chanukah/Christmas?
We did Chanukah at home every night, except for one night with my in laws. It was wonderful and though Eli repeatedly shouted “NO SINGING” when we did the Chanukah prayer, he was otherwise super excited to light the candles and pick out a gift. Christmas was in Bakersfield with my family and lovely as usual.
19. What was your favorite TV program?
Gilmore Girls (Netflix!), Scandal, Orange is the New Black, New Girl, Bones.
20. What were your favorite books of the year?
Gone Girl, Divergent (those might be the only two I read)
21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Umm, Frozen soundtrack? Truthfully, I listened to very little music. I did just finish the Serial podcast and I was hooked.
22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Gone Girl, Big Hero 6, Silver Linings Play Book (not new, but we saw it this year and it was great)
23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
31 and truthfully, I have no idea. I think we just finished unpacking our house. Beyond that I have absolutely no memory. I know I bought new pots and pans with my birthday gifts and that was awesome. Maybe we did that on my birthday? Truly I have no idea.
24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Money. Though I would hesitate to say it would make it immeasurably more satisfying. More like, less stressful.
25. What kept you sane?
My family, friends and kids. And anti-depressants, if we’re being honest.
26. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
To let go. My theme has been to let go and let God. I don’t mean this in a terribly religious way because it’s not as much religion based as it sounds, but I’ve just come to realize that there are a trillion things I can’t control in this life. And instead of spending my time and energy worrying and trying to fix unfixable things, I need to let those things, and their associated worries, go and let someone else handle them.
That’s it for 2014. Hope you and yours have a wonderful new year and that 2015 is the best year yet, for all of us.
Happy New Year!
It has been quite a month.
Just before Thanksgiving, the baby got a cold from daycare, his second in 3 weeks. He passed it along to me and I donated it generously to my husband, who got a horrible cough. Like, slept in the living room because he was waking everyone up all night long cough. Just as he was starting to turn a corner, he had to go to Seattle for a conference.
The day after he got back he called me from work, sounding extra
dramatic sick. He said he felt like the cold started over again and that he had a fever. I brushed him off because I’ve known him for over 10 years and in that time he has never once run a fever (but has claimed to be at least a dozen times). But it turns out he was actually sick and when I got home that night he really was running a fever. I am a jerk, it seems.
Two days later Eli spiked a high fever out of the blue and Will jumped on the bandwagon a few days later. It was ugly. Really, truly ugly.
Even before getting sick, Will had suddenly become a very fussy eater. He would go 4, 5, 6 hours, during the day, without eating. At daycare he wouldn’t drink more than an ounce out of a bottle, where before he was drinking 3-4 ounces without issue. And when I tried to feed him, either nursing or a bottle, he would scream hysterically. This ebbed and flowed a bit- some days it happened once, some days it happened at every feeding, but for a solid week, feeding was a struggle.
The Friday after everyone but me got sick, I took both boys to the pediatrician for what was originally a flu vaccine appointment for Eli (second dose) and Will’s 4 month well check, though neither of them really got those done. It turned out that Eli had a terrible sinus infection and fluid in both ears, and Will had fluid in one ear. Eli got antibiotics, Will got a wait and see but here’s a prescription just in case prescription. Over the weekend both boys improved, with the exception of Will’s eating, where things got worse until they reached an apex of awful.
On Sunday (the 21st), we had Chanukah at my SIL’s house and Will all but refused to eat for the six hours we were there. I chalked it up to the place being loud and unfamiliar and him being tired and assumed he’d nurse when we got home. But instead, when I went to nurse him, something scary and weird happened.
I put him on the nursing pillow and laid him on his side, and he all of a sudden arched his whole spine and stayed rigidly arched to the point where I could’ve practically balanced him on his head and toes. At the same time, his eyes looked upward and wouldn’t focus on anything no matter what I tried. And he screamed. It was an unfamiliar low pitched scream and it wouldn’t stop. For 3-4 minutes he was like this. I tried everything, my husband tried everything and nothing worked. I was nothing short of hysterical.
Thankfully it all took place in front of my husband, who just happens to be a neurologist with an interest in seizures and also the calmest person ever. After those longest 3-4 minutes, the screaming finally stopped. He relaxed and started to fall asleep. The same thing happened, to slightly less severe degrees at 2am and again at 6am. My husband assured me that it wasn’t a real seizure, but that it looked like something called Sandifer Syndrome. It’s a disorder associated with GERD where babies have pseudoseizures (events that look like seizures but are not neurologically driven) as a defense mechanism because eating is so painful for them. Which, while I was thrilled that he wasn’t having real seizures, just about knocked me down with how sad it was. Will had once been a comfort nurser, he would eat all day if I’d let him, but now it was causing him tremendous pain.
We went to the pediatrician again on Monday who said Will still had fluid in his ear and suggested we do the antibiotics just in case and also wrote us a prescription for Zantac. He got the first dose at around 7 on Monday night and went to sleep at 9 and slept until 5:30- his longest stretch of sleep ever. He hasn’t duplicated that effort since then (4 month sleep regression is going to be the death of me), but he has been a different baby. He drinks 3 ounces at daycare, he nurses happily. He still spits up all day long, but he’s not in obvious discomfort, which is an incredible relief. We do need to adjust his Zantac dosing since there seem to be gaps in it’s effectiveness in the late afternoon and early morning, but even still, it’s such a huge improvement that I cannot complain.
So that’s part of why the blog has been quiet. I’ve been caring for sick little boys and sad little boys and just trying to stay afloat. But! I have blogging plans. I do not expect this site to go quietly into the night. As soon as Will is past this sleep regression, I have hopes of him actually going to bed before 9pm and me having a few hours of quiet time at night once again. Or so I hope.
So I know what you’re thinking- why am I reviewing a kids toy right after the holidays? and that’s a reasonable question. Part of it is because the company just sent it to me and asked me to review it now, and part of it is because I love the combination of after holiday sales and holiday gift cards. While it may seem boring, one of my favorite gifts for Eli to receive is a gift card because we love nothing more than taking him to Toys R Us or other stores and letting him pick a toy.
Once again, the picture fell on a night where Will isn’t feeling great, so I wasn’t super hopeful for anything spectacular. I mostly just wanted to get one of him not crying. We eked out a little smile, so I’m going to call that a success. Also, this baby is a tiny version of his dad. Those cheeks are 100% his.
Today you are 4 months old! How did you get so old already? It hasn’t really gone fast, it just sounds so old, so not new. And like so many things are on the horizon soon.
I probably said this last month, but this month you seemed to really wake up. You started noticing toys and people and the cats and you follow them and grab things and you’re just like a person now. Your hands don’t have minds of their own most of the time and you can be pretty precise with your reaching and grasping. I mean, you still hit yourself in the face on the regular, but now you can also very accurately hit me in the face when you want to. You also found your feet and you are very careful to make sure they are there every opportunity you get. It’s 2am and you’re only like 2% awake, but your hand is holding your foot anyway, just to be sure it hasn’t gone anywhere.
You are delightful. I mean truly, really delightful. You are joy personified, you are happiness in the form of a 14.5 pound boy. You coo and squeal and squeak happily all day long. You smile if anyone even kind of catches your eye and if we’re not looking at you, you’ll whimper, fake cough or squeak until someone looks so you can smile at them.
You found your voice this month and have taken to yelling at all of us a few times a day. Mostly it’s happy but I’ve gotten the angry what for a few times. I could listen to you do this all day long.
You continue to be an easy sleeper at home and a favorite baby at daycare. We went to visit the preschool at your daycare this month (which we’re moving your brother to January 1st) and one of the preschool teachers commented that you looked like William and I confirmed it was you and asked how she knew you since you’re in the infant room. She laughed and said, “everyone knows William. He’s the happiest baby.” My heart about exploded. I’m so happy you’re happy there and that so many people love you.
Your likes this month include: mom, dad, Eli, your feet, your blanket (well, any blanket, you’re not picky), the swing, the elephant on your floor gym, o balls, snuggles, baths and being lifted in the air.
Your dislikes this month include: the car when it’s not moving quickly, when daycare dares to serve you bottles that aren’t precisely 98.6 degrees, having your snot sucked out, having your nose wiped, boogers in general.
I have to tell you, I am really, really enjoying your babyhood. I don’t know if it’s because you’re a super easy baby or because I am in a good place emotionally and psychologically, or a combination therein, but oh I just have the best time every single day I spend with you. I still miss you so deeply when you’re at daycare and get practically giddy when I get out of work early and can come get you earlier than usual.
Last week you were sick and your dad was out of town so I got to stay home with you while your brother was at school. I had forgotten how much I loved our one-on-one time and even though you didn’t feel good, we had such a nice day together. We napped and snuggled and just had the best recovery day together. I miss our time together and I’d like to think you do too.
I can tell there are big things coming soon- rolling, sitting, eating, and I’m just so excited to see you do them. I’m so excited to watch you change and grow and become more yourself and less generic baby. I want to hear what you like and dislike. I want to see you bond with your brother and see who you really are, besides the sweetest little spirit in the world.
Happy four months William. We love you and can’t wait to see what next month brings.
Thanksgiving was last week and for the umpteenth year in a row I had planned to write something here but I didn’t. This year it was because I was busy in the best way- enjoying my life.
Seven years ago (it was 7 years on Thanksgiving Day), I had brain and spinal surgery.
My husband and I were talking about it on thursday and I think I didn’t realize what a big deal the surgery was at the time. I was so miserable with headaches, dizziness, nausea and weakness that the idea of something going wrong just didn’t have room in my mind. It had to work, had to make my life better because I had big plans. And thankfully, the surgery was a success.
The weeks, months and years after the surgery weren’t what I expected. The headaches came back, there were more MRIs than I can count, there were lumbar punctures and long discussions that all ended in puzzled and frustrated neurologists and neurosurgeons. We knew the problem, low intracranial pressure, but there was no cause and no treatment. While my family looks back upon my surgery as one of the scariest days, I look back on the years where my head hurt constantly and where no one could help me and those were far, far scarier than facing a scalpel.
The headaches improved dramatically when I got pregnant with Eli (increased blood volume and intra-abdominal pressure = increased intracranial pressure) and again with William, but when I’m not pregnant, the headaches are still an issue that I grapple with. The difference is that they don’t stop my life anymore. I’m not dizzy, I’m not nauseous (most of the time). I can work and care for my kids.
On the list of things I’m thankful for, my health is very near the top, if not the first item on the list. I am incredibly fortunate to be healthy, to be able to function just like everyone else in spite of my medical history. This surgery didn’t give me the immediate relief I’d hoped for, but it gave me back my life and gave me a future. It allowed me to have two beautiful boys and to be able to chase after them, lift them and play with them without pain. It allowed me to go to school and start a career that I deeply love.
This post may be a few days late, but I wanted to take the time to say that I am so very thankful for the life I have, for my incredible family who has stood by me through everything and for my future, which looks blindingly, beautifully bright.
Happy belated Thanksgiving, friends.
About three months ago, I sent Eli to preschool in pull ups and with a bag of pull ups because we’d gotten a note that we needed to send more diapers. I told the front office that this was entirely because our diaper shipment wasn’t coming for 2 more days and we were out of regular diapers and these were all we had, NOT because we were potty training (though we always told them it was fine to let him sit on the potty), but somehow the message didn’t trickle down to the afternoon teacher.
Since Eli was wearing pull ups, that afternoon when all the kids got up from nap and went potty she sent Eli with them. And somehow, my child who had asked to sit on potties a THOUSAND times and never produced any output, peed. He did it two more times that afternoon before I picked him up and twice more at home. I was totally shocked.
And ill prepared. I had a newborn and no desire to potty train. And so we waited. Eli continued to request to use the potty all the time and I obliged whenever possible. There were days where he would stay dry literally all day long completely of his own desire, without me asking him if he wanted to go at all. There was literally never a child more ready to be potty trained and never parents with less of a desire. But finally we had a free weekend and we decided it was time to do it. To actually potty train. To seize the moment and his interest and get it over with. His preschool teachers were thrilled, we were terrified.
And so, we potty trained.
The first thing I learned in this adventure was that anyone who says having two kids in diapers is harder than having one newly potty trained and one in diapers is a lying liar. Even a kid who is ready to be potty trained still requires very, very close monitoring all damn day. And when you don’t closely monitor them, sometimes they sit down and pee in the side storage compartment of the lego table. TWICE. And as I have learned from his hilarious attempts at independence, even seemingly simple potty tasks like putting on one’s own underwear require parental assistance.
It’s been almost two months and he’s doing fabulously. He literally has had 2 accidents at home in 8 weeks and has been accident free at preschool for 3 weeks now.
I think if anything, this experience showed me that Eli continues to be Eli. He has always been a kid on his own timeline. We tried to transition him to a crib in his own room when he was 6 months old and it was a 4 month long nightmare. When he was ready and when in a setting he liked (a mattress on the floor), he not only slept, but slept through the night for the first real time and never looked back. We tried to transition him off the bottle at a year and it was awful. Then shortly before 2, he requested a straw cup for milk and not a single bottle has been used since. Every time we try to pick an arbitrary deadline, we fail, but when we listen to Eli, that’s almost never the case.
Truly, Eli has been the perfect first child for us, because he has taught us how to be parents. He helped us understand that there is a time to push and a time to wait and listen for readiness. He doesn’t make the decisions (much to his great frustration), but his readiness is always a factor in our plans.
I always kind of imagined that we’d parent with lines in the sand. Ditch the bottle at 1 year, toddler bed at age two, potty train around 3. But we have quickly learned that picking our parenting style before knowing the child we will parent is ridiculous. I’m not sure who Will will be, but I finally understand that even if I don’t know exactly what to do as a parent, listening to my child will never be the wrong first step.