(If you don't like the music, scroll down and you can control it on the right side. But I like it, so there! )

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Evidence of Old Age

I left myslef signed onto a computer in our department at work while I went to treat a patient in the ER the other day at work, and one of the other therapists, who is ever the jokester, changed my screen saver under my login.

The scrolling marquee on Windows. And it says this:
"S-S-S-S. A-A-A-A. F-F-F-F. E-E-E-E. T.T.T.T. Y-Y-Y-Y. Safety. Dance."

Obviously, he is about my age. But the night shift therapists, as I have mentioned before, are very young. And I never changed it back. So last night, while at work, my computer switched over to my screen saver, and they all asked me what in the hell it was supposed to mean.

"It doesn't mean anything. It's a song? From the 80's. Haven't you guys ever heard that song????"

Blank stares all around. I have never felt so old.

Is This What It's Like?

....to be homeless? Nah, I'm being overly dramatic again. I have food and a way of cooking. I have hot water to take a shower. I have most all of my belongings. But still, this cureent state we are in is rather hellish.

I keep telling myself that I survived contractions so bad--basically was in an active labor pattern non-stop for 4 months--that there is no doubt in my mind that I can do this. I mean, really Andrea! C'Mon! Suck it up, right?

I am, of course, referring to the state of my house after I paid a crap-ton of money for the exterminators to treat it for cooties. (Incidentally, I am an ass and did not get them from my neighbors at all, and so I feel awful. By deductive reasoning, the exterminators hypothesized that I brought them home from a patient at work, which brings on a whole new scare factor!)

It was way worse than moving.When you move, you pack your stuff in boxes and move it until your old place is empty. What you don't have to do is treat everything before you pack it away, which was very labor-intensive. You can pack stuff neatly instead of sealing it in plastic bags. And you don't have to trip over the crap while you work your way through the house.

We went through over 250 black trash bags this past weekend. Somewhere after 250, I stopped keeping track. I just know I had to keep sending John back to the store for more. He finally had had enough on the last trip and brought home more than I asked for. I think fear motivated him. He had purchased those huge storage tubs,5 bottles of rubbing alcohol, a large bucket, 5 large boxes of garbage bags, and a ton of plastic sheeting with which to wrap the furniture, and he came home visibly perturbed. "Andrea! I am sure by now that the people at the store think I am trying to dispose of a body right about now, and I am not going back!" Poor John.

So now my basement is completely full of filled black garbage bags. We can't start putting it all away until the exterminator does our follow-up 2 weeks to make sure there is no more evidence of cootie-infestation in my house. And even then, as we unpack the stuff, we have to treat it all again. Bag by bag. Honestly? This sucks. In more ways than one.

First of all, I have this addiction to designer handbags. It is my crack/ heroin/ crystal meth. Seriously. I live for the 2 times per year where I go and buy a really expensive bag. But the drawback is that my closet had shelves where they were all lined up neatly like a little army. They had to be treated somehow and the only things that effectively kill any hidden cooties are alcohol (NOOOOOOO!) and heat. And so I had to do it. I had to fill my dryer full of handbags that were on average of $400 a piece. I swear you would have thought someone made me put my children in there. I cried and fretted and whined and bit my nails for the entire 35 miutes they were in there. And when the dryer buzzed to let me know it was finished, I ran down the stars to rescue them as if Jesus himself was trapped in my dryer. Thankfully they all emerged unscathed.

This experience has also taught John just how much crap I buy. Nothing reveals a shopaholic like having to go through the house, item by item, mentally taking stock of what all one owns. In other words: Shit, I got busted! Good thing I am the breadwinner or I would probably be divorced right now. Evidence of my excess: Zach has 16 fricken snowsuits. And after treating load upon load of scrubs, John started counting as we were folding and bagging them. Lets just say that, since I am only obligated to 3 days a week, I could go most of the year without having to wash uniforms if I wanted to. And gym shoes---I'm a fatty, and I work long hours on my feet, running around a hospital on concrete floors all night. I am constantly in the market for the miracle shoe that will reverse the effects of gravity that my fat arse exerts onto my poor fat feet. I have paid a ton for shoes, only to discard them a week later because they didn't do it for me. Mind you, these are perfectly good gym shoes, and are great for a trip to the mall or taking the kids to the park. Or running errands. Or even running on a treadmill. Just not for work. So I have to keep them, which translates to a closet full of gym shoes that have each been worn a week or so. So after raiding my closet, I don't think I am allowed to buy anymore shoes. Ever.

In the meantime, every square inch of my basement is covered with trash bags. My living room furniture is gone. John and I have been sleeping on the living room floor for days now. (We tried an air mattress, but as uncomfortable as the floor is, it's better than that air mattress, which felt like it would pop like a balloon every time you moved on it.) Zach is sleeping in his Pack&Play. About the only one of us unaffected is Evan--his bed had to be stripped and his dresser drawers removed so they could treat, and his stuff was also bagged up and treated, but he still has his bed because nothing was found downstairs. As a matter of fact, my computer has even been swathed in plastic for 2 days. Sucky.

So until November 10th, we have to live out of these bags. That's when the follow-up appointment is scheduled. Lucky us.

Succumbing to the Pressure

I did something comletely against my religion--if I really had a religion, that is.
Lemme explain!

Every year, I have made Ev a killer Halloween costume. It all started when he was a year old. There was a costume contest, and Ev was dressed in a store-bought costume as a little lion. Not original, I know. But so, so cute because he even learned to roar. And he was little--about the size Zach is now because Evan was such a scrawny baby. So for what we were lacking in originality, we made up for in cuteness. He got zilch! And I took it as a personal attack and vowed never again!

The following year, when Evan was just 2, it became my mission in life to win that stupid contest. What made it especially difficult was that everybody competed against each other for the big prizes-all ages, all costume types....And I had never so much as sewn a button on a shirt before. But, damnit, I was going to find a way to make THE costume to rule them all. And so I bought fabric, buttons, hair dye, face paint, and tights.

And I made Evan into the cutest Oompa Loompa ever. Strangers were asking to take his picture. I did so well And when it came time for the contest and John walked Evan up onto the stage, you could hear everyone saying, "Look at that little boy!" And when it came time to announce the winners, Evan didn't win a thing for his age group. But he did win for the entire thing, beating out other babies,bigger kids, teens and adults. The seed was planted, and I have been making his costumes ever since. We've done french fries, a dinosaur, a bus driver (complete with the bus), and more. And with each passing year, as Evan gets older, it gets more and more difficult to do this because his tastes and interests change. This year? He wanted to be a pilot. Have you ever tried to find pilot-looking clothes for a 9-year-old boy? So it was a no-go. And then we found ourselves beyond the Gates of Hell this week (see next post) and it never dawned on me that Halloween is just days away. And Evan doesn't have a costume. Gasp! At this point my Mommy License is in serious jeopardy of revocation. But I just figure I'll come up with something.

So tonight, we're at the grocery store, of all places, and Ev finds a rack of cheap Halloween costumes. Including an Ironman one. Oh, the horror! Other than the Oompa Loompa, I have this thing about characters. (Technically, the Oompa Loompa was first a literary character and thus exempt from this.) No characters. I just can't do it. My children have received shirts with characters on them as gifts, and I hate it. I have no idea where this came from with me. A perfect example is the shirt Evan got as a gift from John's sister when the movie Cars was all the rage. And it had Lightening McQueen on it. And I really would have been happier if I could toss it into the bin of clothes to be donated, but Evan insisted on wearing it, and I secretly longed for the day when he would outgrow it. I just find it too commercial, too unoriginal, too cheesy. So we steer away in every way, including clothes, toys, and even Halloween costumes.

So back to the grocery store: Evan wants the Ironman costume, and I want to die. I'm trying to come up with arguments to counteract his. But he has some pretty damned good rationalizations as to why he needs this costume. These arguments include my role as Bad Mommy, that he still doesn't have a costume 2 days before Halloween,and there is no way, at this point, that I can make one. That it is the only one in his size. That it isn't tacky, cheesy plastic, but rather good quality. That it is on sale because no other respectable mom waits until 2 days before Halloween like we did. Ahhhhh, the drawbacks of having a smart kid--he could rival the most hardcore, cutthroat attorney out there!

I bought him the damned costume. It kills me. Trick-or-Treat this year is going to be a traumatic experience for me this year, because everywhere I turn, I will see a kid dressed exactly like mine. I imagine myself losing Evan in a sea of other Ironmans on the street. But on the bright side, this is a learning experince for me: never, ever wait until the last minute!

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's What I Do

One week out of the year, we celebrate my profession, and this is that week. National Respiratory Care Week. Not many people know what I do. Or understand it. I have been asked on several occasions if it requires college. Ummmm, yeah, it does. I have been asked, while delivering an inhaler to a patient, if that is all I do all day at work. Ummmm, nope. Even nurses get confused. So in honor of RC Week and my profession, I thought I would sum it up as best I can.

  • I have resuscitated patients anywhere from as young as 22 weeks gestation to 99 years old. The most difficult are always the ones I relate to my own life. The child Evan's age who decided to help his dad by getting his own medicine...and took the entire bottle. The 6-month-old drowning victim. The 34-year-old woman who died of breast cancer, and while we were breathing for her and doing chest compressions, while her body was still warm, her 8-year-old daughter and husband were brought into the room to say goodbye. I can still hear that one: the young husband wailing, while the little girl draped herself over her mother screaming "Mommy, don't go!" Fresh tears still spring to my eyes, years later.
  • The coolest moment for me was when I participated in a code of a patient fresh from open-heart surgery and I literally held his heart in my hand. This also had to be the scariest. Runner-Up? The day we delivered a baby in the ER parking lot in the backseat of a Chevy Equinox.
  • The most rewarding experience of my life was when, at a time I was having horrendous personal issues, I met a little blue-eyed, blond-headed 2-year-old boy and found out from his mother that I was the one who resuscitated him. Suddenly everything had a new meaning after that encounter.
  • My proudest moment? Evan had to sum up what I did for his class at school during a Career Day. He really didn't have the words, at such a young age, but wrapped it up to one sentence, according to his teacher: "My mommy saves lives."
  • Yes I give inhalers. I also give breathing treatments. And manage oxygen. And life support. When a family decides they have had enough, I am the one who has to "pull the plug". I have seen countless deaths, but I have also seen real life, in all of its glory.
  • My hands hold within them the rhythym of human breathing. I can take one look at a total stranger and determine immediately the size of their trachea and about what amount of air they need per breath.
  • I can intubate with the best of them.
  • I am horribly out of shape, but yet for some reason, when a code is announced, can manage to run from one end of the hospital to the other without getting winded in the slightest.
  • I'm the one who eventually sees you when you have done something remarkably stupid. Example: the 23-year-old who trashed his lungs and eventually died after being on a ventilator for a month--all because he tried to get high by putting Jagermeister in his baby sister's nebulizer and inhaling it.
  • When I ask you if you smoke and you tell me no, I already know if you're lying to me. I don't ask to be judgemental. I ask because I need to know how best to treat your lungs.
  • Seeing me walk into a room is never a good thing. My presence means someone is not breathing well. Or not at all. Or their heart isn't beating, or is at risk of stopping.
  • I have gotten hurt for the sake of my patients: the 500-lb. man who had me straining my back to help lift him to a chopper so the National Guard could transport him since he was too big for the ambulance, the ICU bed that was rolled over my foot because I couldn't move since I was breathing for the patient.

My job is beautiful and amazing. Heartbreaking and soul-crushing. It can boost you up and also wear you down. It is exciting at times and boring at other times. And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Learn From Me

Warning: Long post, but I need to vent, STAT!
I learned a heartbreaking lesson this week. It really can happen to anyone. I have thought long and hard about writing this post because of the embarrassment I feel over the topic, but I figure there may be someone out there who is helped by it.
Remember this post? Well, John and I spent the entire day satisfying my paranoia and probable OCD. And we saw no evidence of them in my house. No stains, eggs, casts. No bites on any of us. And I felt enormous relief, and John was about to cuss me for making him take the bedroom apart piece by piece. He went into the kitchen to get us each a drink as I collapsed in my relief on my pristine ivory mattress (sans bedding). And as John comes back in the room to hand me my Diet Coke, he gasps, "Andrea, what's that???????"

There it was. A tiny bug crawling across the mattress. And so we caught it in a piece of medical tape and put it in a jar, and called a pest control company. The poor exterminator who took my call probably didn't know what to think, as I was literally sobbing. And when we ended up taking it to him so he could look at it under a microscope, and he told me it was indeed a bed bug, I gagged. I mean I literally I'm-gonna-vomit gagged. And I told them that I didn't care what it took, to please get to my house ASAP and fix it! And I started to speculate where it came from. One of my patients? Or from something I bought in a store? Where?
So the next day, a man with a masters in entomology showed up at my house along with an exterminator and a trained dog that can sniff them out. And they looked. It only took them 10 minutes. This next part takes some explaining.

We rent. Long story as to why a 30-something professinal with an above-average salary, a ten-year marriage, and a couple of kids rents a house instead of owning like I should. Let me just say that up until I had Zach, the plan was for me to start med school this year. And with med school, you go where you are accepted. I could've been moving to fricken Guatemala or something. So I did not want to be strapped to a mortgage, and so we rent. And it is indeed a duplex made of parallel units instead of the one-up, one-down design. And we know I hate my neighbors because of their lack of taste. Now I have a whole other reason.

The pest control people found an egg in the joint of the wall and ceiling of my bedroom along the adjoining wall to the 2 units. And about a foot further, another one. And a little bit further from that, another one. And then they got to my bed. No evidence. And then they peeled the fabric batting off of the bottom of my boxspring. And found more. But so far out into my room, it stopped. We had caught it early, and they thought it was coming from the common wall I share with my neighbors. Fuckers. Sorry for the language, but it seems appropriate right now. Because thinking back, they mysteriously threw out their mattress in the middle of the night a few weeks ago. And when I told them I found one in my place, they had no reaction whatsoever. Not shock or disgust or surprise. And when the property owner suggested the exterminator take a look at their side to be safe, they came up with every excuse to get out of it, even though I was paying for it. My landlord had to strong-arm them into an inspection, which is taking place tomorrow at 10 AM.

And then they found the pattern in my house. And there is no doubt we got them from the neighbors, but have to go through the motions.

My brand new bed was thrown out. It was less than 6 months old. John bought it right before I had Zach because the old one was getting worn. And the entire treatment of the house, which is under way, was $1100.00. And the work! Just to be safe, we are treating the house like it is overrun with them. Everything--and I mean everything--has to be sealed in plastic and treated with heat. But the worst part? As I was stripping Zach's crib of his adorable, posh crib bedding, we found another bug. And I started sobbing again. Because the idea of one of them in the bed with my baby just kills me and makes me borderline homicidal. What nasty person has these and doesn't take the proper action to get rid of them? I know! My skanky neighbors!

So there you have it. I am embarrassed. I am enraged. I hate them. HATE them! I used to think this only happened to dirty people. Nope. People here are getting them from travelling or simple shopping. People in affluent neighborhoods and housing projects alike. My family is a statistic.

Now for my PSA. Unless you live in a bubble, check your house. Be paranoid like me. I really didn't think we would find anything. I was so wrong.

The Results


I lovelovelove the Hippie Store. Love it!

We arrive in this store in downtown Cincinnati, and I am struck first by its boho charm. And they have a smallish section of the store specifically for natural parenting. I am sort of discouraged by this at first, because the area really is small. But as I start to browse, it is very, very crammed with anything you could need. On the shelf directly across from some adorable organic baby tees is my Mother's Milk tea. And Fenugreek. And Blessed Thistle. And another tea called Milkmaid Tea (which I bought just to try). And neat rows of organic, green baby lotions and soaps and oils. And eco-friendly diaper detergents. Supplies to make your own baby food. Green baby toys. Diaper bags. An entire rack of carriers (should've bought my Moby there as they have too many cute colors!). They had a bECO Butterfly 2 and a bECO Gemini on display and I tried both on. Both were comfortable, but the only Gemini patterns they had were very feminine, which just would not do, considering that I am mainly buying this so John can get in on the fun of babywearing also. The Butterfly 2 had some more patterns and colors that would work, and so I performed the ultimate test: getting Zach out of the carseat and trying it. And he screamed and screamed. His short little legs were just in too awkward a position. So I moved onto the Ergo. And it was comfortable for both John and I with minimal adjustment. So in goes Zach. And I love the way is positions him. Sitting instead of curled up like the Moby does. My only complaint is that it was too wide for his hips and so forward-facing didn't work so well. But as soon as we turned him to where he was facing me, all was right with his world and he leaned his head on my chest and looked around in amazement. We found a winner, and after perusing the cloth diapers, and picking up some teething pads to go on the Ergo straps, we were off to the checkout.

Of course this is where I made an ass of myself. Well, not really. John had picked out a camel color in the carrier, but thought it would show dirt too easily, so we picked up a chocolate brown one instead. Well, at the checkout, I noticed that the darker color was $40 more. Really?

"But this one's organic.", stressed Hippie Chick #1.
"Sooooooo worth it!" stressed Hippie Chick #2.

So this is where I blurted out to John, "Here, take this and get the cheaper non-organic one!"

Gasp! The horror!
Don't I care about Mother Earth? They looked at me like I had 2 heads. And when it came time to finish the transaction, they asked to put me on their mailing list, so I gave them the info. Later, in the car, John told me I shouldn't have. "They're gonna hunt you down because you didn't buy the organic one!" Ha!

So on the cloth diapering front: I am a tactile person. I hate shopping on line. I like to gaze and feel and compare. So the lookng at diapers that I have been doing online just hasn't done the trick. But there, at the Hippie Store, they have them all: Thirsties, BumGenius, Flip, GroBaby...Fitteds, prefolds, biodegradeable inserts, flushable inserts, fabric inserts. In organic and non-organic, bleached and unbleached. Gah! And the rainbow of cute colors and prints! Zach will forever be pants-less so I can show off his cute diapers!
I managed to talk John into this endeavor. But I explained All-in-Ones to him, which function closest to disposables, are the most user-friendly, but also the most expensive. I really think we are going to go with the BumGenius AIO's, because after such a huge investment (about $25 per diaper x 24 or so diapers if we wash every other day , plus sprayer, wetbags, pail, laundering supplies, cloth wipes and spray, inserts.....) I like that they will grow with Zach and will last him through toilet learning.

But we didn't buy any yet. (Insert bummed look here!)
We are going through a major hassle in our house, so I couldn't just thunk down that huge wad of cash just yet. (see next post!) Plus I got seriously confused. Soakers? Doublers? What the hell? It's like some secret language that I cannot decipher. And so I am going to schlep my happy arse to a cloth-diapering workshop that the Hippie Store puts on before I make such a huge investment. I'm already dreading it: my loafer-clad feet, designer jeans, and expensive handbag next to their birkies, broomskirts, and hemp totes. But oh well.

The 'Tots Survived

B said she could see a blog post coming on this and she was absolutely correct!

It all started at about 1 AM when John said he wanted a midnight snack. He decided to make some tater tots, of all things. Our deep fryer died some time ago, and with my husband's relatively new struggle with diabetes and hypertension, I was not about to replace it. A normal person would have baked them in the oven. But this is John. My love, my life, my soulmate, the father of my children. But living with him is kind of like what I imagine it to be like for the Man in the Big Yellow Hat to live with Curious George. Seriously.

So he fills a pot with canola oil and heats it up. I am in the bedroom, just around the corner from the kitchen, playing on Facebook, when I hear him ever-so-calmly ask, "Honey, do we have any baking soda?"

And I think to myself, "Why in the is he baking at 1 AM?" And so I ask him why he needs it. And I hear him say what I think is, "Oh, fire." Just like that. Casual, nonchalant. So I get up from my perch at the desk to investigate. Surely that isn't what he said.

And I peek around the corner into the kitchen...

Yep. That's what he said. Oh my God!
I just see 4 feet of flames shooting from my stove. What happened next is a bit of a blur. I thought we had a fire extinguisher under the sink. Guess what! We don't! And so I started randomly jerking open cabinet doors. (Like the one with drinking glasses in it...what in the hell was I thinking?) And John is screaming at me "Get me SOMETHING!!!!!!" I did't think about the flour that was in the cabinet right behind John, which would have worked with the grease fire in place of the baking soda. I couldn't think of anything other than the flames, which were getting higher and higher. And I yelled at John, "Should I call 9-1-1?????" And he shouted back "Ummmm, yeah Andrea. GOOD IDEA!!!!!" (Hey, I do not appreciate that sarcasm, Mister!) And so I reached for the cordless phone while simultaneously screaming to Evan in his downstairs bedroom. The poor kid ran up the stairs in his little boxers, looking all bleary-eyed and confused.

"Evan, baby, run downstairs and throw on clothes and go outside though the back door. Hurry, baby, please!
So he tries to come up through the kitchen, and I had to shout at him, "No Evan! FIRE! Get OUUUUUUUUT!" And bless his little heart, he did. In the meantime, the only thing nearby for John to grab was a neat little stack of Zach's receiving blankets that were folded on the kitchen table, waiting for the next morning to be put away once Zach awakened. So John is fanning the fire with, trying to smother it, but only making it worse. And there are huge chunks of burnt blanket wafting through the air. I dial 9-1-1, and as soon as the dispatcher answers, I shout "FIRE!" at her as well. I don't even remember the rest of that convo. I know she asked if everyone was out, and I told her I was working on it. I grab Zach and run outside to meet Evan and wait for emergency people to arrive. The local police are first, and just as I am teling them that my husband may be mildly retarded and started a grease fire by frying tater tots, John emerges from the house, arms full of charred baby blankets and breathing rather heavily, to tell us the fire is out. (Incidentally, this is the point where I think, "Shit! I haven't treated smoke inhalation in a long time---do I remember how?????)
Wthin the blink of an eye, the police officer is on the phone to let the fire people know it is out, yet within three minutes, there are 3 enormous fire engines lined up on the street in front of my house, sirens wailing. Zach is looking in awe at the lights, and I look over and saw Evan put on shorts and a huge parka--that's it! No shoes, no shirt, no long pants. Thankfully a neighbor brought over a blanket for him.
The fire people get a great laugh over the fact that my father-in-law is the Fire Chief in his town and John was a volunteer firefighter for years, yet we didn't have anything to put out a fire in my house.
So anyway, with the fire out and the family safe, we were still not permitted to re-enter the house because of the smoke. When the fire people opened my living room blinds and opened the window, I gasped. The smoke in the house was so thick you couldn't even see anything other than opaque white. With the fire department's industrial fans and my opened windows, it cleared relatively quickly, and we thanked the people who helped us and started to head inside. And then it happened.

By it, I mean the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard come from my husband in almost 10 years of marriage.

"Andrea, do you want some 'tots? I saved them for you!"

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Art of Coercion and the Hippie Store

Okay. I mean no offense to anyone by saying this. I am in no way a "crunchy mama". I'm spoiled by my creature comforts, and have never really given a damn. Until recently. I've blogged about the changes having Zach has made in my personality, so I won't go there. But I have had something on my mind for awhile, and last night, when I couldn't sleep, I started googling again in the name of research.

I want to cloth-diaper Zach. Yeah, I said it. You read correctly. John, on the other hand, has no interest. The seed was planted in my mind a while back, but I thought it to be me being my crazy self once again. And last night I was looking online for a store that sells the baby carrier I want somewhere in my area. Yeah, I could order it online, but I want to try it on before I spend the $140 for essentially just buckles and straps. This necessitates some searchng in my area.

And so I found the Hippie Store. No, that isn't it's real name, but names have been changed to protect the innocent. In reality, it's a type of general store near downtown Cincy that specializes in green alternatives. And they have an entire section on baby stuff, complete with 2 of the carriers I am interested in (bECO Butterfly or Gemini, and the Ergo carriers). And--gasp--they have an entire section on cloth diapering, including classes. Really the store seems kind of cool: it claims to be a mixup of nationally-recognized brands associated with being green, environmentally-conscious products from local vndors, and even some homemade wares. I soooooo want to go.

So when I have finally gotten sleepy and I crawl into bed at 5 AM, John stirs and looks at the clock. And asks me what I have been up to all night. Perfect opening!

Me: "I've been doing some research and thinking about stuff."
John: "What stuff?"
Me: "Oh, just....stuff." (Ha! see how I grabbed him by his curiousity!)
John: "Tell me!"
Me: "Well, I really want to cloth-diaper Zach."
John: "Seriously? Don't you think it would be kind of gross?"
Me: "Nope, he's perfect for it! He only poops once every 1 to 2 days, and that's the bad part. Plus, for 50 bucks, you can buy a sprayer that hooks to the toilet and sprays the poop away so it can be flushed."
John: "Well, it's your prerogative." (This had me singing the Bobby Brown song in my head.)

So today, I tell John I want to go somewhere on Thursday. Of course he wants to know where. We go everywhere together when I'm off or the kids are involved. He wants to go with. I tell him no. He insists, and I reluctantly tell him I want to go to a store. "What store?", he asks. I tell him the name. And he wants to know what it is. I explain, and he cracks up laughing. "It's a fricken HIPPIE STORE! No way! I'm going. I can't miss this! Are you going to buy a flute or carve your own out of a tree branch?" (By this, he is referring to a commercial where they were playing a wooden fife, which, for lack of a better term, he dubbed the "hippie flute".) "No John. No flutes. I want to look into buying my carrier I want, and they have it," I explain. Of course he sees through me. And points out that he knows I am going to lure him into cloth diapering.

Of course he's absolutely, 100% correct.
But he doesn't need to know this. Instead, I will browse and "stumble" upon the diapering section. And I will casually pick up the packages of the cute covers, looking kind of disappointed that I am not buying them. And he will tell me to go ahead and buy a few. And I will agree to do so, just to "try them out on Zach". And during the trial period, I will play to his caring daddy side and point out how they are so much better for Zach, with their lack of chemicals and breathability. And how can he say no if it is good for the bambino? And then I will go and buy the motherload of them. And we will say goodbye to disposables. And my baby's poopy diapers will no longer be to blame for clogging landfills for 100 years.

Of course this could all backfire with one massive blowout from Zach. Breastfed baby poop may not stink as bad, but it is definitely messier. Stay tuned for results....

Just Have a Seat

John and I have become addicted to a show that has disturbed me ever since I first viewed it, considering my role as Mom Extroadinaire. To Catch a Predator. Ewww.

Although NBC's Chris Hansen has to be the coolest cat ever. Faced with these men who have gone to great lengths to commit crimes against humanity and innocence, he never loses his grip, making him my new hero.

There is certainly nothing funny about the show, but it remains darkly humerous to us that these seemingly-normal men have gotten themselves busted in such a public manner. And it brings to light the harsh reality that there are sickos out there who would prey on our children in that way. I don't worry for Zach--not yet anyway. I worry for Evan. It scares me that he has such an innocence to him that he will blindly trust anyone who smiles at him. How do you teach him otherwise without cracking that innocence and trust in the goodness of others in such a way that it is unfixable? And as he grows and matures and tries to venture out from under our wings, that worry becomes less irrational and more justifiable. He's growing up. And as he does, he gets more difficult to protect.
This leaves me to think, in terror, of what I would do and how I would react if someone were to ever, well, mess with him. I think I would have to kill someone. Our entire world would fracture and splinter into a million pieces.


Let me start by saying this: Ewwwwwww. Gross. Disgusting. Nasty McNastiness.
Bed Bugs.

No, I do not have them. But I have patients come into the hospital with them with increasing frequency and each and every time, I will feel like something is crawling on me for days afterwards. Of course I know it is all psychological. And I get paranoid as heck. But in my defense, it is entirely possible for one to hitch a ride home with me on my scrubs. And around here, this topic is all over. People have gotten them from pretty respectable businesses like stores and hotels. Not to mention yard sales, consignment shops....Blech. Something other than financial ruin has finally made me afraid to shop. This is bad. Really, really bad.

So the other day at work, I had a patient come in with them. Again. This one hit me particularly hard because just a few days ago, they had found one of the cooties crawling in the nurses' station of one of the ICUs. They trapped it in a specimen cup, safely sealed beneath plastic, and showed us all what they look like. Now is the part where I tell you that my hospital is immaculate. This is pretty much just the inevitable when you have all kinds of patients from all walks of life come in, complete with their belongings from home, and stay a spell. But nevertheless, it creeped us all out. And so getting another patient with them just did me in.

So I come home, literally stripping as I come into the vestibule that separates our halves of the duplex, and throw my scrubs, shoes, socks, undies, and even my stethoscope cover, into the wash. I still feel gross, and so I jump into the hottest shower I can tolerate. Still feel creepy-crawly, but by now I realize it's my mind playing tricks on me. And I try to sleep a little. By midday, I'm okay.

Until last night.

Evan has a habit of leaving doors open. And this is about the only time of year my allergies allow me to have windows open to get some fresh air, despite the fact that just about every window in my house needs a screen replaced. So various little bugs will occasionally get in. I'm sure this was what this was. But as John and I were getting ready to go to bed, there on the corner of the night stand, was a creature. And so I abandoned the idea of sleep and started googling bed bugs. And this didn't look like one. And we have no other signs of a problem. I do not have cooties.

But I was still freaked out. Because it was in my bedroom. And it was a bug. And I had the patient. And the idea just creeps me out more than you could imagine. Seriously, if I got them, I think Iwould have to torch my own house as my family fled in their birthday suits to prevent bringing any stowaways. I am that freaked out. So what I really want to do is call Terminex. And the Orkin Man. And any other pest control company in Cincinnati and have them all check out my house simultaneously because you can never be too safe. John says I'm crazy. So instead, to appease me, he is going to help me strip down the bedroom in the morning to make extra extra extra extra sure. Because I am still creeped out. And a little OCD about this. In truth, he and I both know we're clear. I'm too much of a neat freak and clean and scrub too often to not have seen evidence of them if we did have them. I know he's just agreed to this to shut up.

Not Jumping Off A Rollercoaster Mid-Ride

I want to give up.
But I won't.
I'm almost halfway through my goal of one year. Halfway through the rollercoaster ride. Yeah, I'm talking about my boobs again. I was almost there. I had my production up. I'm back down to pumping less than 2 punces at a time. Again. A couple of busy days at work, and whoosh! There it goes. If milk production were solely based on effort, I would be able to feed the world. Damnit!

Right now, it is after 2 AM. I'm off work and my family is asleep, but I'm obviously not. Instead, I'm awake, fantasizing about throwing my pump out the window. If only it didn't cost so much, I probably would have by now. But no. I'm a slave to the stupid thing. I am in the midst of "cluster pumping" right now, heading into round 3. What the hell is "cluster pumping", you ask? Well, you pump every hour on the hour for 3 to 4 hours, twice a day. It has been proven to increase production. When I do this, I do it late at night/ in the wee hours of the morning, then I sleep for 4 hours and wake up to my normal pumping routine, only to do it again the following evening. I hate it but it has worked for me numerous times.

I hate this. I don't understand why I have had such a hard time. I'm sleep deprived because I never sleep more than 3 hours at a time. I might as well not sleep at all on the bad days. This time of night is particularly bad when I've had an off day. I sit and tally in my head how much I have pumped and if it is lower than the previous day, I worry and fret that this is it. My supply's drying up for good. So far, I have always bounced back, but each time could be the time. And so I do this to myself. Again.

I should note that today started as a good day. I slept in a little, only to have John wake me at 7AM because he was getting Evan ready for school and Zach had awakened and needed some attention in the form of a diaper change and, eventually, some form of breakfast. And so I changed him and made his bottle of my milk and waited a bit for cues that he was ready to eat, only to have him start nuzzling my chest and rooting. So I offered. And he nursed! The first time he had any interest in weeks. And he did again when it was time for his morning nap. I was so excited! And then the end of the day came.

I won't quit. I'm too stubborn for that. I will not jump off of the rollercoaster mid-ride.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Most Dangerous Person in Healthcare

I have always said that the most dangerous person in healthcare is the one who will not admit that they do not know everything. Plain and simple. We all have our dumbass moments. This goes for doctors, nurses, therapists, techs. None of us are immune. At some point in someone's career, they will encounter a new patient who is a bit more challenging or has a condition with which we have not had much experience, or will be exposed to a new type of procedure or a newly-developed better way of doing things. It is the nature of the work we do.

With that being said...

We all also have our moments of, well, cockiness. We know when we are right. The good doctor/ nurse/ therapist, when faced with these moments, will admit that they could possibly be incorrect, but they feel confident that they are correct, and they will assert themselves with the other members of the healthcare team. The beauty of this job is that there are almost always tests that can be done to confirm our hunches. One has to find that delicate balance of speaking up and advocating for the patient when they think they are correct, yet still be humble enough to know that the human body is design at its greatest and we will never understand every single miniscule thing.

And then there are new grads.

The newly degree-holding, newly licensed, newly credentialed beasts that they are. We all were new grads once. Yes, me too. But I don't ever recall a time where I had this sort of issue. I can reflect back on my time when my role switched from being a college student completing patient care under the licensure of my preceptors and instructors, to being a big girl with my own license and credentials. Yeah, I felt like a million bucks the first time I signed my name. Andrea, RRT, RCP. Those capital letters behind my last name to let people know I was qualified just seem to do something to people. For me? I was scared to death. And I made a career move that would later serve me well in my transition of roles: I took a position at a small hospital where there was only one therapist staffed at night---me. I didn't have the luxury of hanging back timidly while the more experienced took over. I was in the thick of it: full arrests coming into the ER, asthmatic kids, emphysematous grandparents, and neonates needing resuscitations. And so I got over my fear. And became confident in my skills and my education and my abilities while realizing that there is no way, in that tiny hospital, I encountered every curve ball the human body can throw our way. Stellar career move. The best thing I coud have done for myself starting from scratch, even though it wasn't intentional. Truthfully, I started out with a salary and benefits package that was pretty obscene for someone with such a lack of experience, and that is what drew me in. It was only later, when I discovered I belong in a big hospital and I am charged with more critical care that I made the realization that the first role I had made me a better therapist.

So back to other new grads...
Where in the blue Hell did they come from? And in case someone from my work comes across my blog, let me clarify that I am not speaking of one in particular, or even one discipline. It is a New Breed. Gone are the days when they bow to the more experienced like we did. And no field is exempt. Gone are the days where they emerged from college, looking scared and timid. When they valued the input of those who have been practicing for as long as they have been alive. Yes, we all sign our name with the same credentials, but in my department, we are blessed to have some pretty experienced therapists in our midst. And I will be the first to say that if any one of those ever have something to teach me, I am all ears. They have seen more than I have seen, done more than I have done. But the new grads of today? They don't have that humility, that attitude. And this goes for all: doctors, nurses, therapists, techs. I can remember when it was that time of year and the first-year residents showed up at the hospital. You could always spot them with their scared-to-death stare with eyes as wide as dinner plates. And they knew that, even with MD behind thir names, they still did not know as much as an ICU nurse or RT who had been in their field for years. They would humbly ask me to tutor them on ABG interpretation or help them intubate the tricky airway. Not anymore. A few weeks ago I had a code where the first-year tried and tried to intubate, causing trauma to the patient's airway and allowing the patient to get too hypoxic between attempts to where I finally had to yell at her to stop and let me deliver some breaths. And she looked at me, aghast, stating that she was a doctor. Yes, she was, but that was MY patient.

The sad thing is that I am exactly where you find these arrogant beasts these days--night shift. Day shift positions in hospitals are pretty coveted and snatched up by those with more seniority. The vacant positions are almost always on nights. And so I am stuck. Night shift is very, very young. And maybe it is that I have been doing this for enough years that I am starting to develop the salty crust of experience. Maybe it really is that new grad these days are arrogant SOB's. Whatever he cause, it is leaving me feeling old and weary and seasoned in a way I didn't feel before.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Five Months

Zach, five months ago today: The first time I held him after he was released to me from the NICU. He was about 5 hours old.
Zach now, at 5 months old.

Today, Zach is five months old. And he's still my angel.
He reaches for, and grabs anything and everything around him. And he now has enough coordination that everything makes its way to his mouth now. He gets frustrated when he drops a toy and will voice his displeasure until we retrieve it for him. And he gets seriously pissed if he cannot reach whatever has piqued his interest.

He rolls in both directions now, making tummy time nearly impossible. You can put him on a blanket with toys on the floor and he will roll and inch his way all around until he is somewhere else entirely.

He eats like a madman and takes about 6 6-ounce feedings a day. Of those, 2 are formula and the rest are breastmilk. In an effort to satisfy him more, we have tried cereal. Rice first. Mixed with water, mixed with formula, mixed with breastmilk---you name it--he has no interest. So we tried Barley and got the same result. Actually, the barley was worse: he actually shuddered at the taste.

On the sleeping front, he goes to bed at about 7:30/ 8:00 and wakes at about 6:30. This hasn't changed. The only thing different is that he fights sleep more. He still has to be swaddled and have a pacifier to sleep. But once off to Dreamland, he pretty much stays there, except for when I am off. Then it is like he has some internal sensor that tells him I am here, in the house, and he wakes at about 5:00. I secretly love this time: John and Evan are still asleep and I get to cuddle and talk to him--just the two of us.

He still loves the Moby Wrap, but instead of the positions I used for him when he was a newborn, I have to use holds that allow him to observe the world around him. It still works, but I am thinking about purchasing another type of carrier to use in addition to it. One less complicated that perhaps John will use as well without being intimidated. He still refuses to use the Moby, saying the wraps look too complicated.

Zach's blue eyes are here to stay. They are actually getting lighter in color. He has lost all of his newborn hair except for a tiny patch at his neck in the back. His real hair is coming in and is just the same texture, and even stands up like his newborn hair did. Except this hair is actually a strawberry blonde color, which I find hilarious. His head is so soft and fuzzy that I cannot keep from rubbing my cheek against it when I am holding him. It's that irresistible.

He "talks" all of the time. "Gheeeeeeeee!" in varying octaves, decibels, and tones based on his mood. My favorite is when I return from work and he sees me. Then it is more of a soft, lilting sound that tells me that, despite my crazy hours at work, he knows I am his mother, he loves me, knows I love him, and is genuinely happy to see me. Incidentally, he doesn't do this with John, but instead is more excited, showing me that there is a different dynamic between mother-son and father-son relationships. Not better or worse. Just different, which is very interesting to me at such a young age.

He loves his big brother and his big brother loves him.

He's wearing anything from 3 months to 6-9 months size-wise. The different brands run so differently! Regardless, he is so different from Evan at this age. Evan was tiny and petite. Zach is chubby. Short, but chubby. At 15 lbs., he weighs more than Evan did at one year. Any evidence of his prematurity, both size-wise and development-wise, is long gone.

People say he looks like John and Evan. While there are some resemblances, I don't think he looks like either. Truthfully? He looks like my mom. I see more of her in him daily, which is slightly eery to me considering I found out his lungs were ready and my nightmare was ending on her birthday--May 12--and he was born the day after. My emerald baby. Nobody sees this but me because the people in my life came in after she passed away. I don't know what I believe, but either she sent him to me or he is her reincarnated.
2 days ago, he did the "Pick me up, Mommy" arm reach for the first time and it melted my heart.

I guess that's all. Next up: 6 months, or the halfway point in his first year. Where did the time go???

Call Him Carlos

So thanks to B, I have been wanting a new carrier aside from the Moby because the grown-up man in my life refuses to use the Moby wrap. Actually, he's scared sh*tless of the thing. I remember when I took it out of its box and unravelled it, and he looked at me and thought that I got a defective one. I mean, where are the buckles and straps and such??? And I was sort of scared at first, too. But I got used to it. He refuses to try. And he is the one home with Zachy-Poo while I'm off being Working Mother for 12 hours at a time. So I want to try a bEco, but they are sort of pricey. I wanted some sort of trial run first.
So I find an el cheapo soft-structured carrier that was given to me by a coworker when it was discovered that Zach was to be Zach and not Amelia (that was to be our girl name). And I was fooling with it,figuring out what strap goes where before I strap my child into it, when John ripped it out of my hands and donned it himself. And we put Zach in together. And Zach loved it just as much as the Moby. So much, in fact, that he fell asleep. So John had no choice but to keep him there. I mean, who wakes a sleeping baby???? So we go outside to watch Ev play, and there stands my husband, baby strapped to his front. And I thought immediately of this:

Ha! hahahaha. Because my husband is kind of chubby. And because we have watched this movie so many damned times and I laugh until it hurts each and every time. (Really not so funny when I was pregnant and contracting and had to pee all of the time!) And because I started picturing Zach's chubby little face in a pair of BluBlockers. And I thought of little Carlos.
So now I have to buy the bEco, I think.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

On Daffy Duck at Work and Being a Hypocrite

So I'm currently at work in a very slow ER. Well, obviously very slow because I am blogging and binging on fun-size Snickers I pilfered from the stash of Halloween candy I bought on my day off. Actually, I'm embarrassed for a couple of reasons. First of all, for the Snickers. We live in a more suburban area compared to the most-definitely urban area we did last year. So I expect a lot more trick-or-treaters. In fact, I expect to be overrun with them. So I bought 8 enormous bags of candy, and I have been fighting Evan ever since. No, Evan, you cannot have Fun Dip/ Blow Pop/ Snickers/ M&Ms/ Twizzlers.....That candy is for Halloween. Hmmmm. But that was before Mommy was assigned to this crappy, boring shift. And I know from experience that this type of night calls for chocolate and there is no cafeteria. Yep, I'm roughing it! And so I have become a hypocrite. And raided the stash. And now I feel like I have to hurry and finish the entire bag while Ev is at school tomorrow, lest he discover that Mommy opened the Halloween candy that was off limits.

But that's not all. An ER tech just walked by my desk and asked if I was okay because I am flushed. Nope. I'm dying....of embarrassment.

First of all, this is a freestanding ER, and there is no cushy lactation room. I told my supervisor when I returned from maternity leave that this may not be the best place for me until I wean Zach. But who was I to argue when she made special arrangements for me, finding me a room with a lock on the door and equipping it with a table and chair for me. She even ensured it had an outlet. So I can pump. Great. The only problem is that this room is within a large employee lounge that is equipped with a kitchen area, a dining area, lots of lockers, and staff restrooms. And any noise in the area echoes. And I am the only RT on for my 12 hours because it is just an ER. And while I can try to go at non-busy times when there are no patients waiting for my care and expertise, one does not always know from one second to the next when it is that I am going to be needed. Because the true emergencies that come through the door are the ones who need me (i.e. cardiopulmonary crisis) and are also the ones who cannot wait. Furthermore, this is a bad neighborhood and one of our therapists had her purse stolen here, so I get kind of skittish about bringing the pump. So instead, tonight I have opted to bring my little Freestyle. The only problem is that the Freestyle is a little noisier. And sounds, to be honest, a little like a duck. And had to be used in the room within the lounge where there is an echo. And other employees congregate. So what could make it just a little more embarrassing? Well, of course they need me to do a stat EKG as soon--and I mean as soon--as I get Daffy started up. They were nice about it. I heard a nurse (who was on her break) tell the secretary who came and got me that, "Hey, you can't interrupt her!!!!". And they told me not to worry, that they would cover it. And they did. But only after the entire ER staff knew what I was off doing.

I guess it could be worse. I could work amongst people who are not trained and credentialed healthcare providers. And primarily women. But still....

Monday, October 11, 2010

That Time Again, Folks

Yep, that time of year again. And in the event that I am the only Midwesterner you will ever encounter, I should start with an explanation.

Nothing--and I mean nothing--gets an Ohio native as fired up as Buckeye Football. We are crazy about it. We hold Jim Tressel and his trademark sweater vest to be sacred. We live for script Ohio done by the marching band, The Best Damned Band in the Land as they are called, at halftime. Woody Hayes, may he rest in peace, remains our idol. The Horseshoe is our Holy Land. We learn the words to "Across the Field" before we learn our ABC's and 123's. It is what we are all about. Surrounding Indiana and Kentucky have basketball. Because they know they just cannot do football like a Buckeye can. That's just how we roll.

And we hate--and I do mean HATE---Michigan. With a passion. With the fire of a thousand suns. And it really is a good thing I crossed the Ohio River to reside in Northern Kentucky, just outside of Cincinnati, because I did the unthinkable. I married a Wolverine.
Yep. John was born in Michigan. His whole family was, and for the most part, still is there. His parents relocated to Kentucky when he was a kid simply because of his dad's job. But they are all still Michiganders. And they hate--and I do mean HATE--Buckeyes. And to them, from the months of September through January, I will always be The Girl in the Scarlet and Gray. Because just like John's family is all Michigan, my family is all Columbus, Ohio. I was the only one born and raised in Cincinnati after my dad relocated for his job. So I was raised on the stuff just like John ws raised on Michigan football.

I should clarify that the mutual hatred between the states dates far back, and that it is based on this tremendous rivalry between the two teams. No joke--coaches have lost their jobs not based on how they performed all season long, but based on what their record is in the Ohio-Michigan saga. Seriously. And apparently it all started way back when over an argument about where the division of the states really should be.

So what does this mean? It means John and I will be fightng a lot. And at least once, we will swear we will be getting a divorce. No worries--we do this every year and have for the decade we have been together. And there will be lots of talkin' smack until that fateful day in November--always the last game of the regular season. Ohio State has a pretty good streak going on, and so John is primed and ready for a fight this year. And I am ready to gloat. A victory for my team earns me bragging rights for a entire year. And he has to shut up. Until next season. As for the kids? Well,he won't allow me to put anything Buckeye-related on them, and I am the same about Michigan stuff. So they are Switzerland.

I never request off of work, but I do for the Ohio State-Michigan game. Every year. Not for Christmas or my birthday. But just for that game.

So, on that note, let the War begin. And excuse the language in the following clip, knowing that all's fair right now.

(Incidentally, this video is a clip from a documentary done by HBO on The Rivalry. And yes, I do know the words to, and sing, the We Don't Give a Damn for the Whole State of Michigan song they sing in the clip. I am that hardcore. )


$75 and Its Aftermath

Despite what I have posted on this and my pregnancy blog, my family is not perfect. We are not the perfect parents. My children are not perfect. Well, let me rephrase that: they are perfectly imperfect.

This past week, on some random day, Evan was outside playing as I was getting ready for yet another seemingly endless shift at work. Evan has sort of befriended our neighbors on the one side. They have a dog he loves to play with, and they are a young, late-twenties, childless couple. Incidentally, they think Evan is the coolest kid ever. Evan, being as gifted as he is (not bragging, just sayin'!), gravitates more toward adults than children his own age. We have long-since given up on playdates because he would abandon his playmate to hang out with the parents. So I really found nothing extraordinary about the amount of time he spent in their adjacent backyard. And while I was on bedrest, he would spend time in my line of sight from my bedroom window helping them in their yard, or "dogsitting". No big deal.

So back to this week...
I am getting ready for work when Ev comes in and shows me what he has. "Mommy, look what they gave me!" And he has a wad of cash. I can tell there are several bills there, but the ones on the outside are ones, so I estimate about $10-$15. Then I look again. Turns out the ones are hiding some bigger bills, and there is $75 there! My first thought is that Evan stole it. I take the money from him and hand it to John, telling him to go and make sure while I finish up getting ready. He does and comes back and tells me that the guy who gave Evan the money was not outside but there were about 15 adults there who all insisted he really did give Ev the cash. But my question was why did he give Evan so much? What the hell was going on? And I was more than a little creeped out. So I threw on shoes and went over there myself.

The guy started telling how cool and helpful "E" was--that's what he called him, E. It was a friend of our neighbors'. I tried to give the money back,but he kept insisting. Apparently Evan had told him he needed a new wheel for his scooter, and so the guy gave him money for a new scooter altogether. He tried to be nice, but told Evan he had to spend it in a way his parents approved of. I had to go to work, so I left the money in John's posession, still weirded out by it. I got to work and talked to coworkers about it. In other words, people more experienced than me at this parenting-an-older-kid stuff. My coworkers flipped out and were even doing an internet search of sex offenders in my area. They thought what I was thinking, but was too polite to say: was this hush money? or something to lure Evan? What were the intentions of giving a kid so much cash? So I called John and told him not to do anything with the money, that we were going to make Evan give it back.

In the meantime, while I was at work, Evan was playing outside. John went out there and told him he had 30 minutes left, that it was a school night and he would need to get his shower and head to bed. This is when Evan asked John if he could go to the movies with the neighbors and their friends. John told him no, that it was a school night, that the neighbors had since been drinking, that there was no way a group of twenty-somethings would be watching a film appropriate for Evan, etc. Evan threw a bit of a tantrum, but John let him finish up his 30 more minutes of playtime. When John went back outside, he said the adults next door were all giving him dirty looks and whispering to each other when the guy who gave Evan the cash came up to John and asked for his money back. Of course John gave it to him, telling the guy that we were going to anyway when I got home in the morning. He brought Evan inside, and the nightly bedtime ritual went by without a hitch. It would be the next morning that would start all of the trouble.
Evan wanted a Mountain Dew for breakfast. Of course John told him no. We aren't perfect parents, but even we can see the counterproductiveness of allowing Evan to down his ADHD meds with Mountain Dew. Evan threw another fit and told his dad that it was okay because he had gotten even for the movies the night before. This is when he 'fessed up to John that he had told that guy that his dad had beaten him until he gave his dad the money. That is why the guy had asked for it back. And so John told me this as soon as I got out of work.
Oh. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod.

Evan has done stuff before. He has tried to punish his dad for enforcing rules by trying to convince me that his dad was abusing him. And he is so bright and can be so convincing that even knowing John, I still questioned it until Evan admitted to what he had done. And I was concerned. One year he had John's mother convinced he wouldn't be getting Christmas presents at home, making her spend tons of money on him beyond what she had already spent and causing her to get very upset with us until she discovered the truth. (That was the year Evan learned a valuable lesson to appreciate what he gets and unwrapped $1000 worth of toys only to help me donate all of them to charity.) One time, while visiting John's dad for a week, he had told his grandpa that we didn't allow him to eat breakfast at home in an effort to get John's dad to take him to McDnald's for breakfast every morning out of pity for the poor kid who isn't allowed to eat at home. He can be a manipulative little snake. But he had never taken it outside of our family. Until now.

So what did I do? Well, first of all I cried. What if the neighbors believed him? I immediately had visions of a social worker coming to take my children away until our names were cleared. And I thought of little Zach. And of my career in healthcare, where a false allegation like that could wreck my livelihood. And so instead of just dropping Evan off at school like normal, I went in and told the whole story to his principal. And got a referral for Evan to meet a school counselor weekly. And then made the call no parent wants to make: I made an appointment for him to meet with a psychologist.

No parent wants to admit their child is flawed in any way. And we take it as a statement of our fitness as parents when somethng like this goes on. What did I do wrong? How have I failed him? I am hoping some good will come from all of this: that Evan will learn that he cannot use any tactic necessary to get what he wants, that such actions could have grave consequences. But mostly I want to find out what it is that is going on in his small, though extremely gifted, little brain. And how we can fix it, how we can get him help.

I love my oldest child with a fierceness that is unparalleled. I had the same trouble bringing him into this world as I had with baby Zach. And I have since done anything and everything to protect him. When I was in school to be a therapist, we were dirt poor and a $3 Happy Meal was a big deal to us, but I made sure Evan never knew it. When I wasn't earning as much, I would go without such things as medications I needed or glasses and more just to be able to get him the latest toy he wanted. And when I finished my degree and my earnings quadrupled, Evan was the first one to benefit from it. I would literally do anything for him. I just hope the rest of th world sees that before he does something to ruin us all.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Snob's Worst Nightmare

I am a snob when it comes to holiday decorations. If the person I am about to describe sounds like you, I apologize in advance. Know that I am talking of the people who take it to the extreme. Every year, John and I do this thing. We will pick a day that has been particularly stressful or otherwise difficult, and we will go on our annual Tacky Plastic Christmas Parade.

Let me give you the history of this. Just a few years after my mom's death, I was still having a difficult time with the holidays. I had befriended a girl who ended up being the one who introduced me to John, and one day I was feeling rather down.
"I know what you need, Andi," she said. "You need to go on a Tacky Plastic Christmas Parade!"
We all loaded into her small pickup truck, and cruised the neighborhoods of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky and laughed our asses off. I think I may have even peed a little bit. Laughing, of course, at the people who fill their lawns with the most amount of the tackiest Christmas statues and decorations one could imagine. Mismatched lights thrown haphazardly over bushes. And a few years later, the enormous inflatables. One or two of these is fine. This is something different altogether. But when you live in a run-down trailer, there is probably something better upon which to spend your money than an inflatable that is indeed bigger than your home.
So how do I decorate for Christmas? A tasteful wreath on the door. Maybe some candles inside on windowsills. Possibly a Christmas tree in the front window. Garland on the front porch railing. If I put up any lights, they are always white, placed precisely, and both are put up and taken down in a timely manner. Tasteful.

Of course th phenomenon of tacky holiday decoration has not stopped at Christmas. Nooooo. They do it for all sorts of holidays. And since I live in a duplex, I fall victim to the tastes of others.

So I wake up from my nap today after working a 12 last night to find my neighbors coating the front lawn--the shared front lawn---with that fake spider web shit. And they had the nerve to ask me if they could put my patio furniture--tasteful wrought iron patio furniture--in the back yard so they could put some tacky ghost he whittled out of wood in the front. And they are rigging up a fake dead body to the tree. And have a giant plastic fake spider they are putting on the house as I am typing ths. I cannot take it. I am going to die. And I have a feeling our house is going to be on the Tacky Plastic Christmas Parade this year.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Bottle-Feeding in Public

Several factors contributed to my low-supply. When I tried to get Zach off of formula supplements, I really needed to nurse more. But I was so busy and too self-conscious to nurse in public, regardless of how discreet I could be. Bottle feeding was always more acceptable socially. Fine. So be it. So I was amazed at what happened today. Oh, the irony!

We were at the mall. I had been in a hurry to leave the house and get there before they closed, so instead of making a bottle like I would normally do, I just grabbed a clean bottle and a bag of breastmilk from the fridge and off we went. Well we all got hungry, including Zach, so we sat at a table in the food court. John went to Sbarro to order for us and I stayed behind with the kiddos and poured the breastmilk into the bottle in order to feed Zach. Of course it was obvious that it was my milk. And some people were looking. But some lady 2 tables over kept clucking her tongue and making disgusted looks at us, and even was heard remarking to her husband on how gross it was. Seriously. I guess I just can't win.

How Could I?

So the breastfeeding plot thickened this week. It started out okay. I was still sore as could be from the debaucle last week when I headed into work Sunday night. No more and no less than before. I went to pump for the first time that night, and....OMG! There, on the side of Righty, was the blackest bruise I have ever seen. It was about the size of a golf ball and surrounded by an area of gray that was the size of a grapefruit, which was obviously more bruise waiting to come to the surface. By the next day, it had. I was going to try to post a tasteful picture, but it is now so large that I couldn't do it justice without exposing my entire right boob on this blog. I ended up making a trip to labor and delivery in the middle of the night, and they were so concerned that they actually called the LC in the middle of the night. It turned out that it is bruised from within. Not from using the wrong breastshields, but from the suction of my pump being set too high when I was trying to fix the plugged duct. I had to follow up with lactation today to ensure it was getting better, which it is. Still there, but the pain has gone away. But today she and I talked about the state of affairs with Zach's breastfeeding and she made me feel really, really good for once.
She basically found out that after all of this time, Zach is pretty much exclusively bottle-fed, but that I have managed to get it to where he is almost exclusively getting breastmilk. And she asked me, the woman who has produced as lttle as a half an ounce at a time, how in the hell I have done it. And I teared up as I told her. I pump every 2 hours while at home. I pump when I'm tired, when I'm too busy, when I would rather be doing anything else. Even when I have worked like a dog all night, I still wake up and pump. Even when I am so tired that my resolve is weakened and it takes John 3 or more attempts to wake me up. I pump. And I pump. And I pump. And I hate it. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done. Breastfeeding was easy compared to this. I got to bond and cuddle with my baby and not a machine. And she told me of all of the women who have tried and given up, and wanted to know how I pull myself up by the bootstraps and do it. Simple.
I told her about Evan as a baby. And then I told her about Zach. Zach is the most content baby I have ever known. He sleeps through the night. He is all smiles while awake. Perfect in every way. And there is nothing that can convince me that it does not have everything to do with what he eats. And so I can. I pump and pump and pump. But having her say this and marvel at my dedication made me feel really great, as if I have accomplished some major feat.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Sick Mommy

As in I actually called in to work tonight.Well, not really called in. I cashed in on a favor that was owed me by a coworker and got him to cover my shift so it doesn't count as an absence. Despite all of the time I have had to be off of work, I actually have never had an "absence". If I'm off, it's a doozy. The Pregnancy from Hell is an example. The other time was when I had pneumonia bad enough to cause the lower lobe of my left lung to completely collapse. And both of these involved hospitalizations and FMLA, and thus no occurrences. So...
Mommy and Zach have been cuddled up all day. It's a miracle Zach isn't sick. All I can say on that is that breastmilk is goooooood stuff. And I'm actually feeling a little better, though I still feel like shit. But I am working 4 nights in a row starting Saturday, then am off for 2 days and go back for another 2. OT again. So I figured it would be wise to take the rest of tonight off, hoping that my immune system can kick this cold's arse by tomorrow evening when I start my Hell Week. Incidentally, did you know nursing moms can take jack crap by way of OTC cold meds? I use a small pharmacy located in my hospital, so the pharmacist knows I am nursing. So I go in looking and sounding like death, and I hold up various meds for him to see. Nyquil: "Can I have this?" I ask. Nope. Tylenol Cold? Nope. Motrin Cold? Nope. H finally tells me that if it is good and will work, it's a no-no for me. They all have antihistamines in them, and a baby's liver cannot handle those until at least 6 months of age. I can take Sudafed if I want to chance it dropping my supply even more. No Thank You! So I had to settle for a generic cough syrup that I can only use sparingly. That and a cup of hot tea and I am knocked on my arse for hours. The only thing I can compar it to was when I was preggers and in pain and they finally got me to take pain meds and I would take half the dose they prescribed and be in a 12-hour-long coma.Anyway...
So what is the picture above, you ask? This is Zachy after napping with Mommy this afternoon. He stares at me with those big eyes, and acts like he's either A) completely amazed by me or B) thinking "What is it???". But regardless, he's my angel. And he loves me even when I have vaseline coating my poor chapped nose, and my eyes are red and watery, and my hair is sticking straight up.....That is the joy of motherhood. The unconditional-ness of it all. (On a seperate note, notice how much hair he has lost, and that his hair/ eyebrows are coming back in in that reddish brown hue? He gets that from John's dad.)