Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thirty One:

So, one of our (Dave and I) long time couple friends had their first baby a few days ago. To explain our relationship with these people would take entirely to long, but they are the people our children are going to if Dave and I die in a murder/suicide. Anyway, a beautiful little girl. Considering what her father looks like, I think that her mother did most of the genetic work. L says she's our baby too and says she's his half sister.

I had planned to stay away a bit longer, though.

I am, however, going to make this about me because it is my blog. Deal with it. Being that we've known them as long as we've had, I'd ask the compulsory questions about how she was feeling during the pregnancy, about names- Standard fare. It's not that I wasn't interested or didn't care. By this time, we'd had three children, and they are the same age as us... It's that... Well...

Babies are a touchy subject for me. I say this as my last one crawls into my lap for the few minutes a day of contact I get with him. When most women get pregnant, it's a moment of joy, wonder, and hope for the future. You read the books, you daydream about what your future spawn will be like, about how you want your birth to go *Cough*, and imagine how your life will change for the better with this little piece of sciencey miracle in your lives. You imagine their future without any pain, difficulty, or hardship- Knowing that you will do whatever you can to take any and all of it away from them and bear that burden yourself. Die, if need be, so your children have a chance.

The last time I was going through that was 2 years and 9 months ago, almost exactly. I knew what I knew from G and L's pregnancies and infancies. I knew what I expected. I knew what to do. I knew what my pregnancy was going to be like. I had an idea of what our child was going to be like- Another boy? EASY!

And he was born. And he wasn't exactly like how L was like G. He was S. He was different. He needed almost constant stimulation. He wouldn't eat well. He struggled with certain things from almost the beginning. He's struggled with certain things, easy things, most of his life. He will continue to struggle with easy things for most of his life.

And it's heart wrenching. It kills me when I can't kiss my child. It breaks my heart that I can't hold him on my lap for a story or a tv show. I want to take away his pain of struggling through OT or Speech Therapy. I want to take his medical tests for him. I want to fix him... Or at least take him out of his struggles and pain.

Day dreaming about what he was going to be like or what his personality was going to be- I never day dreamed this. And it's a kick to the teeth to see a fresh from the vag baby of some of the best friends we've had, knowing what I know now... That not everything turns out perfect. That things can turn out scary. Things can be difficult. Things can be painful.

So, those of you who are having babies soon, my advice to you is this- Snuggle those babies close. Dream. make plans. Know that life is beautiful, but it's also a dirty business. Don't be scared that danger is lurking behind every corner, but don't allow yourself to be blindsided like I was.

I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thirty: It's Anniversary time...

Every time this year, I get amazed and filled with romantic wanderlust. More so in the last couple of years than the past.

Dave and I celebrate 2 anniversaries within a month of each other, and then S's birthday is 6 days after our wedding anniversary. In two days, Dave and I will have been married for 11 years. April 30th was 12 years together.

Now, I've already talked about my love/hate relationship with Dave. More often than not, I love him, and love him deeply. Some days, he's lucky I've not put his head through a wall. I'm probably lucky of the same, honestly. I know I am not the easiest person to know, much less be tied to legally and genetically for life. I'm a strait up pain in the ass that refuses to fold laundry most of the time.

G is almost 10. L is almost 8. S turns 2 in less than 2 weeks. I am 29 years old and I got married before I would have graduated high school. Short of the time spent pissing off my mother, I never had that experience of figuring out who I really am. Those 4-8 years where you make mistakes, learn from them, learn what you stand for and what you'll fall on. I went from being a strong teen to a strong teen Army Wife to a strong teen mom to a single teen mom (While Dave was deployed) in less than 2 years. L came along, and I thought my life was over. And when he was born, my life really was almost over...

But I've carried on. I've never made a serious decision that didn't involve figuring out the ramifications and impact on everyone in my family. I can safely say that I have never made a decision purely out selfish abandon. They are all heavily weighted against the benefits and risks to my children and what Dave's reaction is going to be... And the 1 time that I did say to Dave, "I don't care if you want to go do this, I do, it's important to me and we're going"... We ended up not going because we got into a earth shattering fight about his behavior when I went to wake him.

I'm starting to realize that as I approach thirty, start college for the 2nd time with a goal that TERRIFIES me, I'm regretting more and more that I didn't have that time in my life to make stupid mistakes and have them blamed on the fact that I was a kid... Because during those formative years of my life- I didn't get to figure out anything, short of knowing that I love this man and want to spend the rest of my forever with him.

So, at the cusp of starting my life over, or again, depending how you look at it, I'm beginning to realize that the pieces of me that I am sure of don't fit with the pieces of me that I've been clinging to desperately.

My therapist thinks that I need to figure out the rest of me so I can deal with everything else more effectively. So I know what I stand for, and how far I'm willing to take that stand. What matters and what doesn't. How much I really can take instead of pretending that everything is going to be ok. It's with the goal that I won't miss those years as much as I have and currently do.

But what scares me more than anything... Is that even thought I know I love Dave. We've been through hell and back to stay together- What if I finally piece myself back together from where ever they are scattered across the universe- And it doesn't work for him anymore?

Can you ever be a whole person without having all the pieces of yourself? Will the person you depend on for everything still love you after you put yourself back together again? Is it worth the risk? Is my personal happiness of self exploration, fulfillment, and satisfaction worth even the lightest risk that my odds defying marriage might wither and die because he doesn't like the person that I've grown into?

Because it's almost died once previously... And it nearly killed both of us.

Clearly, on the eve of our 11 year anniversary, this is a love letter to my husband.

I love you. I have always loved you. I hope, with my whole heart, that you still love the person that I eventually piece together.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Twenty Eight:

Today, folks, we're going to deal with childhoods.

Was yours awesome? Nothing to complain about? A bit depressing? Abusive? Or somewhere in between one of those? Or maybe something else all together entirely?

Well, through my many years of therapy, mine has been described as abusive. Less so physically, but more mentally and emotionally. I tend to look at it like this, "Well, at least she wasn't beating the shit out of me every night.".

And yes, I said she. My mother... How so I begin to describe what my mother is without describing who she was? None of us have that kind of time. I'm also not really interested in reliving the emotional drama that came along with having her as a mother. I've moved past it. I'm mostly over it. I bear little grudge and/or chip on my shoulder.

I will touch on a few points, because friends, it all leads into a greater point. I believe she is undiagnosed Bipolar 1. When she would get angry she would do everything from break things to slap me. I would never know what mood she was going to wake up in. You get used to living in a constant game of "Watch What Happens Next". I spent a majority of my childhood grounded for extensive periods of time for infractions such as talking back. Which caused me to lie about things. Which caused me to get caught lying. Which caused more grounding, physical and emotional punishment. My mother would get in fights with my father about who's turn it was to buy groceries and weeks would go buy without anyone buying food- Which resulted in snacks of toast and ranch dressing. (For some reason, there was always plenty of both.) There would be stand offs about everything from who's going to mop the floor in the kitchen after someone spilled a pitcher of Koolaid (Eventually one of the kids did it after a week) to who was going to do the dishes after mom decided the best place to do the dishes was in the bathtub, had a manic crash and we took showers with plates, silverware, peas and scraps of steak for at least one evening.

About 16, I stopped giving a shit and just did what I wanted. I met Dave. He saved me from myself. He gave me something to care about instead of finding the next guy to sleep with or more ways to piss my mother off.

Now, from what I can gather after I was kicked/moved out at 18, my mom has been calmer, a bit more thought out, and had more proportional responses to perceived injustices by my father. (Again, a dynamic that would take to much time to cover fully. Let's just say, he makes more money than she does at Pizza Hut. He's a saver, she's a spender, and when he doesn't give her everything she wants, that makes Hulk Angry.) They will go months without speaking to each other, and then she'll calm down and they will be fine until something new happens that he doesn't take her side, he doesn't give her money or she gets 15k in liens against the home, and they stop speaking again. (Public Record, friends.)

Now, in total, she has 4 grand kids. G, L, my niece P, and S. P and S are almost a year apart.

I have gotten one apology out of my mother for the way she treated me when we were younger. It was right after S was born. Completely out of the blue and never to be repeated. "If I had known then what I know now, I would have taken my medication like I should have. I'm sorry.".

What do you say to that? Find a therapist and a new set of medications, because clearly, you're still bat shit nuts? Stop taking your Prozac until it starts working and then stop because you think you're better and don't need it anymore? SHIT DOESN'T WORK LIKE THAT!!!

So now that all the pieces of this puzzle are in place, we had an event this weekend. My mother and my sister got into a fight. My mother was bad mouthing my father to her again because he didn't give her money. My sister told her to grow up and stop bad mouthing our father. My sister left. My mother broke dishware in and outside the house... And possibly her toe.

My father calls me? to ask me about S's birthday gift and then begins to tell me about the scene he came home to- "Nichole, it looked like someone had a snowball fight with coffee cups in the driveway and in the diningroom.". My father isn't one for hyperbole. He's also not one to call and tell me about my mother's latest fiasco. He's also not one to sit on the phone with me for 45 minutes, learning of things about my childhood that he never knew.

About how, when I was 9 and my mom was mad at my dad, my mother came into my bedroom and told me that the only reason that they got married was because she got pregnant with me and I was the reason her life was ruined. Or how she got mad at me because I wasn't cleaning my room fast enough and she cleared off my desk with one arm, then stepped on my glasses and refused to replace them- Making me absolutely blind for 5th grade. Or no, Dad, she really did throw my things out the window into the trashcan in the driveway and scream at me that I didn't live there anymore and to get out because when she asked me who I was talking to on my cell phone and I told her it was Dave. The cell phone I bought and paid for with my 2 full time jobs that I had to work because she refused to buy me things like... Shampoo and tampons.

Now, I know that my mother is stressed about her "kids leaving her" and my brother's custody battle to the death with his ex cunt...  But when do you draw the line and say, "Enough is enough. I have to protect my kids from what you did to me when I was a child?". Because, as smart, funny, and lovable as those boys are- They aren't me when it comes to emotional strength. They aren't their daddy. They've been taught that their feelings are ok, irregardless of what they are. They aren't forced to hide them until it almost eats them alive.

When does it become ok to tell your mother, your kids "loved" grandmother that she isn't going to see her grand kids again until she gets a mental health evaluation and is stable? Is it ok to tell her that you're afraid for your special needs toddler, simply because you have no idea how she's going to respond to him at any given day? Is it ok to outright tell your mother that you don't trust her with your children at the present moment?

I say loved, because at 7 and 9, L and G are very aware that Grandma isn't all there. That they are unsure of how to deal with her when they are there by themselves because they don't know what mood she is going to be in. About how she "mega yells" at them for things they didn't know they weren't supposed to do while Grandpa is gone, but is always very quick to apologize.

Is it ok now? Is it ok to unfurl this fireball of hell towards my father and siblings, simply because I live the farthest and can ignore it? Is it ok to do everything in my power to make sure that the fucked up dynamic that I survived, but just barely sometimes, doesn't affect my kids any more than it already has? That my children don't ever have to worry that Grandma is having a bad day and they need to hide out in the basement because mommy made the mistake of letting them spend the week at Grandma and Grandpa's house? Is it ok that even though I want them to be real, functioning people with common sense and a bit worldly, I don't want them to get it the same way I was forced to get it?

Or is it, like it's going to seem to the irrational mind, that I'm just holding her grand kids over head until she does what I want her to do?... Not that I want her to get help for ALL her 4 children and 4 grandchildren?

G said it best. "Mom. Why is it that I have to go to a therapist for my anger issues, but she doesn't? Why do you and Dad choose to go for your crazy problems, but your parents won't?".

Why is my desire to fix her so strong? After everything she's put me through, even now, why do I still desire some sort of functional relationship with her? I'm almost 30. I've had a functioning mom for less than half those years- I should be used to NOT having one...

But why is her denial of her mental health issues going to be the thing that shatters me... When I am so much stronger, smarter, and clearheaded than she'll ever be?

Why am I, as an adult, letting someone's medication use become my downfall?

Friday, May 18, 2012

Twenty Seven:

I've been in a reflective mood the past few days. It may be my bipolar 2 acting up. It may be that I almost died a few months ago. It may be that I am making some serious life changes in the next few months. It may be the stress over S. It may be financial pressure. Or any of the above combination.

I generally tend to believe that you can't live life full of regrets. That shit will tear you apart. I've done some serious and seriously painful things I should regret. In the very long run, in my deepest self, I don't. They were choices I made consciously, as an adult, with total regard for circumstance, setting, emotion and situation. They were things I tried miserably to fix that were much like that children's rhyme.

"All Cholie's effort and all Cholie's tears couldn't put Humpty together again.".

But I don't look upon any of it as something that I shouldn't have done. I don't even look upon any of it as something that I wouldn't do again, if given the same set of circumstances... Even if, at times, I left little pieces of myself in places that I will never be able to retrieve them. In places or situations or with people in which I will never have closure, even if I reapproached those things in search of them.

So, I find myself wondering, having left little pieces of myself scattered in various corners of other people- How do you ever become a whole person again?

I enrolled in the local community college yesterday, full time, after having been out of school for 12 years. LARGE step. Massive. Habitual procrastinator. (Most of the time, it takes me 20 minutes to get up after I realize I have to pee, because I figure if I wait longer, I will have more time before I have to do it again and get more time on my couch. No judgement, peanuts.)

My best friend and I were having the conversation of what the goal in it was- Because she had enough college credit at various universities in another state to have an Bachelors in Bullshit. (AKA Independent Studies) She said to me, "Because after all that, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.". I laughed, filled with irony. There we sat, two grown women, closer to thirty than 29, both with husbands that we've had in our lives for double digit years who have successful careers, and multiple children (G's much older than her oldest, though.)... And we both had the exact same thought.

When I'm a grown up...

But, can you be a grown up without being a whole person? Will I ever become a whole person again without those pieces of myself that I've left scattered across various parts of the universe? Or does a mental/therapy band-aid count as filling? Will I forever feel like that carnival ride that you KNOW is held together by rubber cement and adhesive strips? Enjoying the ups of life, hating the stomach turning downs, not regretting the things that required the rubber cement and adhesive strips, not wanting to get off, but wondering if I'll ever be enough to feel satisfied with myself?

Because the only thing I want to be right now is a grown up. A whole grown up.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Twenty Six:

I was talking to a long time friend today about his ability to sit on L and S this weekend when he said, "I read all your blog entries. You should do that shit more often.".

Needless to say, I was a little shocked. I tend to write for myself. I'm smart enough to know that when it's good, it's good. When I'm uninspired, it's terrible. Horrific. Bad enough to make you spork your eyes out. Or make you wonder what you see in me.

So, I went back over some of my first blog entries. This shit with Shane has hit me like a fucking baseball bat.It's been a slow build up, with emotionally breaking consequences. Fortunately, we have a few close friends for support- Even above said friend who will sit in a car with me for 3 hours to take the kids to "Grandma with the Stinkin' Dog's" house.

My family is serially unreliable because they have a grandchild close to them, no fault to P. They also fall under the category of "Head in the fucking sand". I can't even presume to know about Dave's family, because... It always seems that what I'm doing with my kids isn't the correct thing.

Honestly, since that manual didn't shoot out of my vagina after any of their births, especially after Shane's, I'm doing the best I can with what we've been dealt.

But reading over those earlier blogs, I realize how much in denial I was about what was going on with him... And how hopeful I was about him. Being happy about the fact that he wasn't crawling. His early speech, only to stop, his lack of interest in feeding himself... And the direct correlations to his late crawling, poor gross motor skills, late walking, swallowing and speech issues, and fragmented issues with fine motor control. My uncanny ability for hindsight is kicking me in the teeth right now.

It fucking hurts. The pain is raw and fresh again... And someone is squeezing lemons into it, laughing at me about fucking lemonade.

I love my children. (The rest of your children- Probably not so much.) I love them exactly the way they are... G's headstrong, silent way, his old soul. L's ability to have me on the floor laughing and wanting to knock the crap out of him at the same time for something he's done. And S... I love S because he doesn't even know what he's overcome thus far or what he's got to overcome in the near and distant future and he's still the happiest kid I have ever met. (A lot of you have told me the same thing about him.)...

But part of me wonders how much of that is his issues and how much of that is his personality? And, crowd forgive me for asking, but if he wasn't developmentally challenged, what would our lives be like? What would he be like? What would the "Happiest baby that I've ever seen" but won't let me touch him, kiss him, hug him, cuddle him, or love him most of the time be like in my alternate universe?

And if I knew the answer to that question and had the ability to change the realities, would I? Would I change my beautiful, challenged boy into something else so he fit into my hindsight picture?

Would you?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Twenty Five:

I realize I go through ups and downs with my need to write. Currently, I'm sitting in bed, in the dark at 3 am, listening to Andrea Bocelli,  trying to figure out what I need to get out.

It's funny, that catharsis you feel when you finally let go of what's been bothering you for months and just put it out there in the world. It's also funny the feeling of "Oh. Fuck. What did I just do?" that comes over you the minute you hit publish... Then let people know you hit publish.

I guess I should back up- I'm a member of a very large and generally supportive playgroup here in Lexington. My older boys have had some great times playing with kids of all ages at events, and S gets to socialize with kids his own age that have developed normally. I've gotten some great advice on S's issues but people generally think I'm a bitch because I'm very straight forward. It can be clique-y, you find different parenting styles that you may or may not agree with, friendships are made that you will be excluded from due to common interests, gossip spread, and you're not going to like everyone or everything everyone says, but you have the opportunity to make some amazing and supportive friends... But when you have 100+ families involved, these things comes as part of being a grown up. Learning how to be in the same space who doesn't share your value on Red Dye #40 is something that you should have learned in your formative years. You just don't talk about it.

I had some wonderful ladies over for lunch today from the playgroup. One is someone I consider my best friend- But for me, that title is really location based. I'm horrible about long distance friendships. The only ones that I have kept in touch with irregardless of the distance are my Army Wife friends. Anyway, J lives 2 minutes away. Convenience is something I look for in a friendship. ROFL. K is a new friend, but someone I like a lot and someone I can see drinking heavily with. And L... L's really hard to describe, but I like her. I'm really glad she made it over today. G and L had a good time with her son, too.

Anyway, back to lunch and catharsis. When you have people over that you feel that aren't going to judge you when you talk about how much stress you're feeling from the toddler, how much duct tape it would take to attach a 7 year old to a ceiling fan, would the fan be worth replacing, how you could survive on an island if 6 palates of Duct Tape washed up on shore with you, the Shades of Grey trilogy, how you might kill your husband while he's on disability from spinal surgery if he acts like a whiny bitch and everything in between- And when there is REAL reciprocity in that conversation, be if from your best friend or someone that you're just getting to know, it's an amazing feeling... Because no matter how alone or out there by yourself you're feeling, there's someone to take your mind off everything for a bit.

And I thought for the longest time that I didn't need that in life. I'd been burnt by to many "bitches be crazy, yo" situations in life. But when you have more going on than you can handle, it's great to be able to send someone, ANYONE that genuinely gives a damn about you a text that basically says, "Help. I'm drowning today. Tell me something hysterical."

Most everyone needs that in life. Most everyone deserves that in life. No matter how weird or socially awkward you feel, as long as you can control your deepest crazy (Either medication or otherwise. LOL), there is going to be someone out there for you to spill your guts to when you need to... Someone to help you hide a body, no questions asked.

So, my goal for the rest of the year, while I go through my health challenges, the changes those bring, the strong possibility of Dave having spinal fusion, and dealing with S's issues- I am going to try to be a better friend to people that are like minded or people I like, assuming that there's reciprocity in the relationship.

Selfish sounding, maybe. But I don't think it's selfish to want to try to surround yourself and avail yourself of people with whom you enjoy spending time.

And if you really know me, you know how hard of a goal this is for me- Because personal relationships are the last things that I nurture... The last things that I worry about.

So, here's to being a better friend. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Twenty Four:

S's second birthday is bearing down on us like one of the freight trains that pass our house so frequently. I find myself staring at him sometimes, in absolute disbelief, that he's going to be 2 in two weeks.

See, I originally started writing this post in October of 2011 and I couldn't force myself to finish it. It was right before we moved and the subject matter was tearing my heart out. You know that something isn't right with your child. It doesn't matter how many times his original pediatrician told me to wait and eventually he'd crawl or walk, I knew something was wrong. I still know something is wrong.

My 23 month old son, my beautiful baby has/had a huge gross motor developmental delay. When he was tested at 14 months, he was testing in the 6 to 9 month skill range. He never crawled. He hopped around the house on one hand and one leg, like those kids you see on "Feed the Children" commercials who have no legs. He didn't walk until almost 19 months.

When he finally started, there was no stopping him. His favorite thing to do now is to yell "JUMPING! JUMPING!" and jump on my legs. Or down the hallway. Or on the couch. Or anywhere he can. You should see my legs. It looks like Dave and I are into some kinky shit. lol

 He started running shortly after and his PT discharged him... But he was given an OT and a speech therapist. His fine motor skills are fragmented between 6 months and 3 years. (You should see this kid hold a crayon. Coloring with it is an entirely different story.) He also has two speeds- Excessively high and sleeping. There's no middle ground. He also is either seeking sensory input or avoiding it at all costs. Again, no middle ground. The kid will bang his head against our metal front door for 20 minutes, but Tebow help us if we try to get him to go down a slide. Sensory processing disorders, I think, is where we are at.

He stopped eating in December, lost over a pound, and is now being treated by the feeding team at Cincinnati Children's. They aren't really sure what to do with him either, because he knows how to eat. He just doesn't like to do it. He still gets bottles at night. In fact, he's bitching for one right now. He was doing strictly mocking and repetitive speech until about 2 weeks ago. Dave and I both came to the same realization on the same day- That he was finally starting to sound like a normal kid. A normal 14 month old. 

His pediatrician is recommending that he be sent to a developmental pediatrician after his 2 year well baby. What the hell is a developmental pediatrician? I realize, at this point, that we're staring down the A word or at least a spectrum disorder... And I don't like the idea of labeling a toddler.

Which leads to two main issues... Our insurance doesn't cover anything that has to do with Autism. Not that it's covering any of his therapy now. (Thank you state of Kentucky for believing in early intervention.)

The 2nd issue- and I've been struggling with this one for a while... I doubt my abilities to parent this child properly. I am so used to children that hit developmental milestones early. Kids who answer the question, "How many words do you think he knows?" with "All of them." at 22 months.

Shane is completely different. He's hysterical and full of surprises every day. He started calling me Mommy the other day, and it melts my heart (But doesn't always make me open my bedroom door when I've locked myself in there to escape)... But he won't let me hug him unless it's on his terms. I can't kiss him with out getting yelled at 90% of the time. I can't comfort him when he's upset because that involves touching him. He pinches, bites, slaps, kicks, jumps on people, and head butts and thinks all of it is hysterical. He thinks it's hysterical when you do it back to him. The word no doesn't begin to register most of the time with him. He just does what he's going to do. He does what feels good to an extreme.


So my question is this, friends... How do I find the balance between my parenting style and meeting S's needs when we don't even know what they are yet? How do I stop pouring so much energy into my toddler that I feel like a horrible parent to my other two boys? How do I find time to eat dinner before 9pm? How do I handle the comments from my family members who continue to tell me that he looks perfectly normal when he's with them (Because they are constantly on the move, giving him the sensory input he craves), and ignore me when I try to explain to them WHY he's fine when he's with them... Or get over the knife in my chest feeling when my father hears S in one of his sensory melt downs and asks me why I'm not doing anything to stop it and that if that's how he behaved at their house, he would be less welcome to come visit without Mom and Dad.

Because I can't stop it, Dad. I'm helpless to stop it. I can only distract him or put him in his crib to decompress. My toddler won't let me help him. But thanks for being so supportive.

So friends... How do I stop feeling like this is my fault since he was induced early for my health? How do I stop feeling terrible when he wears me out and I lock myself in my bathroom for 15 minutes while he's watching Gabba?  How do I get over my feelings of total failure? 

 (Final four photos courtesy of HUEit Productions.