Friday, December 29, 2006

Today's Installment of "Tales From the Couch"

Thanks, everyone, for all your encouraging comments. I really felt better about myself after reading them and knowing that others struggle and feel similarly. Many of you mentioned that I am too hard on myself...I think this is the way I "pay" for the things I regret doing. Not real healthy.

I had a "breakthrough" session with my therapist today. The essence of it is that I was raised in a family who yelled at each other regularly as a way of handling conflict. With my therapist's help, I realized that when my mother yelled at me as a child, I felt scared and unheard; I felt unsafe because I didn't know what would happen; and I felt it was out of proportion to the action that sparked it.

Now, I repeat the pattern I learned then. When I yell at J., it's because I don't want to be scared and unheard anymore. I've been operating, subconsciously, under the belief that if I yell and cry and get all dramatic--just like my mom--then J. (and Bubba) will listen to me, but in actuality, it makes them less likely to listen to me. It puts them in that scary, voiceless place that I was in when my Mom got so mad, and, in the case of Bubba for sure, it teaches him the same thing I learned from my mom....and starts him off in the direction of anger, like I've been going down.

My therapist said something that really struck a chord with me: "If you don't break the pattern with Bubba, and he learns to approach things from a perspective of anger, then he might end up breaking away from you like your brother broke away from your family." (My brother is the one in our family who carries the most anger of any of us--and he is basically estranged from everyone except my Mom and Dad, and their relationship is deeply strained.) It all made perfect sense to me then.

Other nuggets from my therapy session today are:
•When our spouses don't give us the responses our parents should have 30 years ago--which is what we really want--that escalates everything. We need to do our own work, so that we can come to our spouse from a place of greater clarity and calm, so that we can stop subconsciously wanting to hear the responses our parents should have given us and instead hear our spouse's real feelings.

•If you take responsibility for your part in an argument or conflict, then you also take some control over the situation. As long as I'm always the victim in the situation--the one who has been wronged--all I can do is have a tantrum. My therapist finally explained to me in a way I can understand the whole "first you have to work on yourself before you can communicate with others" thing.

•J. has needs too. Needs that are going unmet. Yes, this seems elementary, but trust me, it was kind of a revelation.

•One of the things I discussed with my therapist was that I get so sick of J. "prattling on" at inopportune moments--like shortly after one of my panic attacks or three seconds after I get up in the morning--about work stuff, cool stuff he's seen on TV that he wants to tell me about, customer stories, etc. Sometimes I actually tell him I can't listen to him about that stuff right then. Sometimes I do act bored (he goes on anyway). My therapist asked me what I'd rather have him talk to me about. "Deep stuff," I said. "Important stuff, like our relationship, like his feelings, like our kid's future..." Then she said, "If you can't listen to the superficial stuff, why would he trust you with the deeper stuff?" Good point, huh?

•Okay, this one's going to seem obvious, but to me, it seemed like someone finally illuminated something for me. My family is volatile. We argue, cry, yell...and then make up and go on, feeling that we've cleared the air. J.'s family was incredibly skilled at denial, and that's how they handled conflict. They just pretended it wasn't there. In fact, when we were engaged and his parents were dragging their feet on doing any of the few things they were responsible for, I asked his mother point blank if they had a problem with us getting married. She just got up, went to the stove, and started talking about the weather or something. So I asked again and same thing--she just started a completely different topic of conversation like I'd never asked the question. It was freaky.

Anyway, the point is...I'm a yeller and J.'s a denialist (is that a word?). Even when he engages in arguments with me, he often says "I don't know" or he denies simple facts like how much housework he does or whether or not he told me what time we were leaving...he tries to deflect the argument. He also often does housework and tries to move away from me physically.

While I was discussing this with my therapist, she said, "Well you two both found the perfect person to work out all your stuff now, didn't you?"

That got me know how sometimes you ask yourself "Why do I have the shitrock? Why am I so unlucky? Why do bad things always happen to me?" I thought of all the bad things that have happened to me and about the anger that's gone along with it and thought, "hmmm, maybe my 'lesson' here on Earth is to figure out how to deal with my anger." I'm not sure--I mean, are we ever sure? But it makes sense to me right now. The universe has thrown many, many situations at me that made me angry, made me feel the world was unfair, made me want revenge and made me almost unbearably angry. Maybe these situations are opportunities to figure out my stuff.

Basically my therapist is yanking me out of victimhood one session at a time and helping me see J. as a human being again. I'm excited and optimistic, right now at least, about trying to approach things with these new thoughts in mind.

Thursday, December 28, 2006


I have a long list of blogs that I look at quite frequently and others where I just pop in from time to time. All are by women, and most of them are women who have faced tragedy and/or exceptional challenges — women who have lost babies or children, have or have had cancer, have children with special needs. I go to these blogs to lend support if I can, to remind myself of what I've been through or what I could be going through, to learn about what other people are faced with.

Today I went to a blog of someone I don't quite know how to categorize: she and I worked at our college newspaper together for a year and chatted but weren't what I would call friends; later she ended up working for the same institution I do, doing the same thing but in a different, "sister" office. So every once in awhile we would have work interactions but not frequently.

In October 2004, she gave birth to a son at 24 weeks gestation due to preeclampsia. He lived for almost three months before finally succumbing to an infection. Today, they have another son who is almost a year old. She has a blog for him, too, and they look so incredibly happy.

I went back to the posts she and her husband put up shortly before and after their son's death. I thought about the memorial service I attended for him, and how I had pledged to her and to myself that I would be there for her--that I would check on her and see how she was doing. I called her a few times, and sent her a few emails, but that was about it. I don't know why I didn't do more. I wish I had. At the time, Bubba was four months old. I had what I thought was postpartum depression but now I wonder. I wonder because I often still feel the same way I did then, and Bubba is well over two years old now. I felt awkward because I had a new baby and she'd lost hers; I worried that Bubba would cry when I was on the phone with her and she'd hear it; I thought it might be more hurt than help to talk to someone who was "through it" already while she was just starting. And maybe all those things are true; I'll likely never know.

Reading her posts from almost two years ago brought back all the anguish I felt when I lost Hope. It feels like dark, heavy, stifling blanket of grief coming down on top of me all over again--but I do it because I need to remember. She feels so far away from me now.

This year I forgot to hang her little hat on the Christmas tree. I bought the present that we donate every year in her memory at the very last possible minute. Earlier this year, I moved her box with all of her little things in it from "the baby room," which had become Bubba's room, to my own room. Each month, each year, seems more removed from that time of my life. I barely remember being pregnant with her, and some details from my pregnancy with her and my pregnancy with Bubba blend together and I can't quite remember what happened when. I can hardly remember holding her, and my only real memory of her face is now found only in photographs.

The grief, the searing, horrific grief and pain of losing her remains easy to access if not express. I won't and can't break down at any moment thinking about it, but I can feel it, deep in the pit of my stomach, the ache of emptiness, the ache of too much quiet, the physical need to hold her and the knowledge that I never would again.

I have regrets that haunt me. I have moved beyond the thoughts of "if only I'd gone to the hospital sooner" and forgiven myself for those kinds of regrets because I know I did the very best I possibly could with the information I had. But I regret not having a memorial service. I regret not having an obituary. I regret not calling in my entire family to see and hold her. I regret not taking more photos, not holding her longer. I regret not doing something, anything, beyond what I did to hold the hospital accountable. I understand now why a lawsuit probably would have caused more pain than vindication and probably would have been unsuccessful anyway; but why didn't I go back and see the bitch who is the head of the ob/gyn department and demand that she listen to me and answer my questions? Why didn't I write that letter to the CEO of the hospital? Why didn't I try to do something to make sure other people got better care, to make sure other people's babies might live while my daughter died?

Next June it will be four years since Hope was born and died. If I'd kept her in my uterus for just one and a half more weeks, she might be here now, and I'd have a three-year-old. When I had Bubba, my cervix started dilating at 3o weeks, with the cerclage still in. Once it fell out, I dilated to 8 cm and stayed that way for a week, and could probably have stayed that way a few days longer had I accepted the terbutaline shots they wanted to give me (I refused because I felt sure my baby was safer outside of me than in). What if I had refused to be induced with Hope? What if I had laid there still and waited for whatever outcome there might be? Why didn't I refuse it and insist, insist, that they give me some tocolytics to stop the contractions I started having? Why didn't they insist on that before chalking me and my baby up as a lost cause?

There are days when I feel that Hope's birth and death--her life--have enriched my life and taught me important lessons. There are other days, like today, when I feel that there was no greater purpose, no greater meaning. She was my baby and my baby alone, and she died, and it was tragic and painful, and I'm the only one who experienced the full force of that pain. It didn't make my subsequent pregnancy "a miracle" -- it made it heartwrenchingly frightening. It didn't make me a better mother -- it made me a bitter mother.

Last night I almost smacked my son. After a long and trying evening of Bubba's "challenging" behavior and my short-temper, we were trying to put him to bed, and the evening battle began. He completely overreacted and resisted every action involved in going to bed--putting the book away, rocking, laying down in the dark. He finally went into hysterics when I took away the dinosaur book that was distracting him from going to sleep. It was beyond my capabilities to deal with it. I would have left him in his room to cry but he wouldn't stay there, and we have no way to keep him in unless we lock the door, which I refuse to do. I yelled at him, ragefully. Then I left the room and told J. to take over, literally grabbing handfuls of my hair and holding my head in my hands. I sat on the couch and cried as J. calmed Bubba down, Mr. Patient Parent, SuperDad to the rescue again.

The fact is, Bubba wouldn't have let me hold him and comfort him. I've read things about how for the first year, a baby's whole world is his mother--but that wasn't the case for Bubba, because to a large degree, I didn't want to have anything to do with him. And last night, I didn't want to have anything to do with him, and the feeling was mutual. "Why on earth did we do this?" I asked J., and not in one of those exasperated-but-bemused ways but as a serious question. I could not think of one good reason to have a child. I still really can't, to tell you the truth.

Before J. took Bubba back into the bedroom, he said, "Go give your mama a hug and tell her you love her." And Bubba came over, hugged me, said "Luh you" and laid his head on my leg. And I couldn't even bring myself to say I love you back. I patted his head and sent him on his way with a goodnight.

I am a shitty mother. The universe was trying to tell me that when it showed me that I could not naturally conceive a child, when it took Hope away from me, when it proved to me that I could not naturally carry a child. I should have listened, but I was too busy trying, trying, trying to have a child. So focused on it that I never really thought about what it might be like. So sure that it would never happen for me that the only thoughts I was capable of were thoughts of envy and bitterness toward everyone who had managed to pop one out. I never got any further than that. I never got beyond the "having a baby" part to the "raising a child" part.

If it wasn't for the time in which I live, I would have had no choice but to listen to those signs from the universe. I don't understand why we were given Bubba and other people, like Tingle and her husband, who really would be good parents, still struggle.

I love the ghost of a child who will never be here, who will never require discipline, diaper changes, or effort of any sort, and I dread the work and pain and worry and frustration involved in raising my living child. How much more ungrateful can a person be? It frightens me to think about this, to admit this, because it's almost like an invitation to the universe to steal Bubba from me like it did Hope. And yet, I could hardly blame it if it did. Bubba doesn't deserve to have me as a mother--and I don't deserve to have a child.

Attention LilCherie!

Lil Cherie,
It has officially been more than a month since your last post. I know you've had the week off. What the fuck?

We need to know, LilCherie. We need to know about your "get healthy" efforts. We want to hear about your Christmas, your crazy family. We need to know about how your corn is doing.

I check you every day. Please, come back to us. And take a moment to comment here and at Itchy Tingle too, okay?

Don't let us down. I know you can do it.


By the way: this is my 69th post!! :-)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Part II: The case of the horny teenagers

This Christmas marked the first time we've had a "boyfriend" at Christmas since J. and I were dating. It was like the end of one era and the beginning of another. I was really looking forward to having some new energy in the house, and let me tell you, there was energy--the energy emitted by two teenagers who veritably smelled of horniness.

Now, I hate the word "horny" but there is no other way to describe it. They weren't overtly making out, and by that I mean their lips weren't touching and from what I saw, there was no hand-on-genital touching or anything like that. But throughout the day, they would periodically start "wrestling" on the floor, or be clamped together side by side watching TV, that kind of thing. At one point in the afternoon, my neice climbed on top of boyfriend, who was sitting on the couch, and straddled him. I was making fun of them and went over to J., who also was sitting on the couch, and made the move to sit on him as well in a good-natured attempt to embarrass/make my neice and Boyfriend at least mildly uncomfortable.

At this point, J. put his hand out and pushed me away. Never one to be deterred by one simple rebuff, I made two more attempts, which J. refused with increasingly strong shoves and the admonition that "We're too old." Defeated, I retreated to the armchair with the subtle yet unmistakable-to-those-who've-been-married-forever air of hurt feelings and disappointment.

I let this slide while J. and my other neice went to Giant Electronics Chain to use their gift certificates, and was in a good mood when they returned. We had leftovers (without any turkey), packed up the car and settled Bubba in his carseat, and were on the road for approximately 3.2 seconds before J. and I were arguing. When we'd gotten into the car, J. had handed me the new CD he bought me, and I wanted to play the second disc. J. maintained that the second disc was a DVD with only videos; however, I knew it contained music. J. didn't believe me and after several moments of back and forth he asked to see the CD to see if he was right or not. This just pissed me off, especially after the earlier incident on the couch, so I grabbed the CD, told him I didn't even want to listen to it anymore, told him I wasn't going to argue with him over this with Bubba in the car, and spent the rest of the ride home silently meditating on how much of a jerk J. was and how he didn't love me anymore, etc. I was crying by the time we got home and went to bed immediately. J. asked me why I was so upset and I alluded to the couch incident, at which point he told me he just felt it was "inappropriate." I told him I didn't want to be further humiliated and covered my ears and laid there in the dark after he left me in bed. Fleetingly, I thought about the Christmas stockings and presents that were all wrapped up and ready to go in the basement, but figured that surely J., who was still awake in the living room, would realize that Santa was supposed to come tonight and he'd bring the stuff up in preparation for the morning. Right?

The next morning I awaken to Bubba's babbling coming from J.'s room (where Bubba sleeps every night now). I stumble out to the living room to find...the mess of J.'s headphones and PlayStation cords all over the place, an empty pop can and some dirty dishes, and of course, no presents of any sort. I yell to J. "KEEP HIM IN THERE!" and run downstairs to bring up the first load. By the time I get back upstairs, Bubba's screaming to be let out. "HOW MUCH LONGER?" J. screeches. "I'VE GOT TO GET ONE MORE LOAD," I yell with as much derision as I could muster. "I THOUGHT SOMEONE ELSE WOULD HAVE DONE THIS!" I bellow as I run down the stairs again. Throw the presents under the tree and finally let the wild Bubba out. "Look! Santa came!" I say to Bubba, realizing even at the moment that it's kinda funny how I am seething at J. but still have to put on the cheer for my kid. Bubba starts unwrapping one of the presents I'd bought for J., so I give it to him and begin softening a can you give someone a present while being completely angry at him? The disgust was reignited however, when J. got up while Bubba was opening presents to try to FIND what he'd gotten me for Christmas, dump out my stocking (which I had filled myself) and put in an unwrapped CD and a book he'd gotten me. Then he had me close my eyes while he placed the unwrapped haircare stuff I'd asked for into my hands. Gee, thanks for the thought. I mean, at least I got what I wanted (since I sent him an email with the info, complete with websites), but apparently it was too much to ask that he wrap it.

I went back to bed at 10:30 with a headache and stomachache and pretty much slept the rest of the day, waking up in a fog of depression and fatigue. Finally came out of it that night, when we decided to head out and see what restaurants would be open on Christmas night. We had sushi for supper and that was pretty much the end of the day. Yesterday, which I spent alone with Bubba while J. went back to work, was much better, and we were all back on track by last night. And, we were all up at 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. as Bubba has now come down with a croupy cough.

So....I guess I can sum up the weekend with a good old "oh well." At least I didn't have a Christmas Eve like Pioneer Girl's, whose slumber was interrupted by her husband's call from their son's bedroom: "We have a situation in here!" The situation was an 8-year-old, thought to have recovered from stomach flu but having one last go at it from the top bunk of his bunk beds, covered in diarrhea and vomit. Yikes. Someone always has it worse. Sorry, Pioneer Girl, that it had to be you this time!!!

Christmas Part I: The Turkey Debacle

I've had worse Yuletides, that's for sure, but nevertheless, Christmas 2006 had its own special flavor of stress and humor.
The weekend began on Friday with a fantastic Girls' Night with LilCherie and Pioneer Girl (formerly known here as "H.") Pioneer Girl handmade the lovely Elvis treeskirts for LilCherie and me...are those the best or what??? It made quite the impression when I wore it home to my parents' house for our family celebration. We got a hot-tub suite at a hotel in a nearby town, had a fabulous meal and a little shopping excursion in the quaint downtown area. We watched some video footage from one of our previous Girls' Nights, which was hilarious; took soaks in the hot tub; smoked a ton of cigarettes; and watched the movie "Evil Bong," which was terrible in a good way. Miraculously, the next day we returned to an empty house at LilCherie's and a happy J. in a good mood already on his way to pick me up.

Saturday was spent doing some last minute Christmas shopping and going to the grocery store for the ingredients for my annual holiday food contributions of butterhorns and pecan pie. Bubba, who didn't get a real nap during the day, fell asleep at roughly 4:30 p.m. J. went out at 5:30 to do some last minute Christmas shopping for me. At 6 p.m. I tried waking Bubba up and soon realized I didn't have the heart to do it. I changed his diaper and laid down with him in bed, rationalizing that maybe he'd just sleep through since he hadn't had a nap. Yeah, right. In the process of settling him in bed, I fell asleep as well. We both woke up at 10:30, at which point I made the startling realization that I still had to do the baking and wrap some presents. Bubba and J. were up until 1 a.m.; I was up until 3:30. We got up at 7:30 Sunday morning to head back to my parents' house.

Despite the lack of sleep, I rallied quite well and we made it to my parents' house by 9 a.m. or so (I'm sure the magical power of the treeskirt helped me out a bit, because I was so excited to wear it!) My sister, brother-in-law and my two neices arrived by 10:00. We decided to wait for my oldest neice's boyfriend to come in before we opened gifts. After he was half an hour late, my neice called him to find out his stepfather had, at the last minute, made him do chores so he didn't know when he would be in. Tears from my neice and comforting by the rest of the womenfolk ensued, then we decided to open stockings. Boyfriend arrived in an hour and Christmas went on as planned. Until.... mom, sister and dad went downstairs to the back-up basement oven to check the progress of the turkey. After 7 hours roasting, it was still cool and not brown at all. My mom had decided to use the new roasting pan my sister and I gave her for her birthday two weeks ago, and initially that was to blame for the turkey's poor performance. While Mom and sis were deciding what to do, Dad got disgusted because they were "just standing there with the oven open letting all the heat out." He came upstairs and sulked, my sister came upstairs and they exchanged some bitchy words, and I found Boyfriend playing some videogames with my husband and informed him that the annual "family hubbub" was beginning so if he wanted to witness a tradition he should get out to the living room (he didn't). Mom and sis decided to put the turkey in the good old roaster, crank up the heat and leave it alone for another two hours.

At 2:30 p.m., with a famished crowd staving off hypoglycemia with Christmas cookies, my Mom and Dad saw that the turkey had browned some, the meat thermometer was at a safe 190 degrees, and the little popper had popped. My mother practically danced a jig as my father hauled the bird upstairs. All was well for a great 5 minutes until Dad began carving and realized....the thing was still pink inside. There was talk about microwaving it in slices before the disgusted looks on my face and my sisters' killed that idea. The stuffing was salvaged and put into the microwave to make sure it wasn't laden with salmonella. My mother finally broke down, shrieked "This is a disaster!" and started crying as Dad took the turkey away. (Turns out, even after three or four more hours of cooking, it still looked pink. We think now perhaps it was dyed to look fresher in the meat case; we really don't know what happened.)

My mother, in tears at the counter as she prepared the last of the side dishes, told everyone who was trying to comfort her to go away and leave her alone. Of course I stayed and asked her "Mom, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a crisis is this?" She said "A ten!" in all seriousness. "Mom, this is a 2, tops," I told her. "But we won't have any meat or any gravy or anything for leftovers!" We assured her we had plenty of food and she started calming down. I finally pulled out the "We really should be grateful for all that we do have," card and that did the trick. I couldn't help but leave the room and laugh at my mom's overreaction about a stupid turkey. However, when I think about how many holiday turkeys my mom has roasted with nary a hitch (somewhere around 90 with Christmas and Thanksgiving) I guess I can see why this would be kinda traumatic for her.

This post is so long, I'm thinking I need to break it into two. So...join me at Part II at your leisure to read about the rest of my Christmas.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I got tagged! Ooooh, I'm so excited!

Thanks Meredith for tagging me! This is my first tagging! I'm so excited! I feel so popular or something!

The subject is "Five Things You Don't Know About Me."

Many of my readers will already know these things....but they know everything about me so there's not much I could do about that. So here goes!

1. When J. and I were dating, back in high school, there wasn't a whole lot to do in smalltown USA. My parents were gone and apparently we'd already exhausted the fondling/fellatio activities that we satisfied ourselves with since we weren't bold enough to be having sex yet. So one night, out of sheer boredom, I asked J. if he dared me to piss my pants. Of course he said yes so I went and got a towel from the bathroom, placed it on the foyer floor, and proceeded to piss myself in my gray sweatpants. J. was stunned that I actually did it, which made me kinda proud, and then I gathered myself up and went straight down to the washer and cleaned up the mess. Yep.

2. I must preface this by saying that anyone who knows me knows that I am an open-minded, accepting person who not only tolerates those of other cultures/races/religions but am quite interested in finding out more of them. But please understand, this was back when I was like 12, and it's haunted me ever since. I had a friend named Deanna. Her mother was white and her father was black. All were very nice. We had dance lessons together and her parents and mine took turns carpooling us around, and we got together for sleepovers now and then. One night Deanna was at my house and I was gushing over the latest magazine photo I'd found of Simon LeBon. In the photo, Simon looked...rather tan. So tan, in fact, that I had to comment on it to Deanna....and before I knew what happened, I had used the "n-word" in reference to his appearance. I was horrified, and unfortunately lacked the social skills to know what to do, so we had an awkward silence and then went on like nothing happened. We remained friends for some time after that, but I have felt so terrible about it ever since. I think she lives in Texas now, and at least 10 times a year I feel like I should try to find her and send her an apology. A horrible moment in my life, for sure. So horrible that I feel that by confessing it, at least I'm punishing myself for it in some small way. Okay. Let's move on.

3. I have an unhealthy obsession with serial killers. Their stories, the grisly details, everything. I believe it all started when I read "Helter Skelter" when I was about 11 (although technically, I think the Manson family would be called mass murderers rather than serial killers) and then moved on to read Ann Rule's "The Stranger Beside Me" about Ted Bundy at least 10 times. I think my fascination stems from my desire to know all I can about what I fear the most, thinking that I can somehow protect myself from it. This obsession troubled Tingle a bit, especially when J. and I showed her, within 15 minutes of their arrival for their first visit to our home, the antique meat cleaver we had hanging in the basement.

4. I was never and will never be athletic, so gym class was often traumatic for me. I was the last picked for everything, and when I was picked it was often accompanied by groans of displeasure from the jock-types. One day, in 4th grade gym class, we were playing kickball, and I was assigned to far left field or something that was assumed to have the least amount of responsibility possible. I was incredibly bored, so I turned my attention to grooming my fingernails. I was so intent on this activity that I didn't notice it when, of course, someone kicked the ball directly to my area. It slammed into my head. I was ridiculed. Now I think it's pretty funny, though, so it all worked out in the end.

5. The curse of the shit rock came early in my life. When I was a baby, I rolled off the counter during the nanosecond that my mother reached for the shampoo. I got a skull fracture so I had to stay in the hospital overnight. My mother ran home for a change of clothing as she would be spending the night with me. While she was hurriedly putting her things together, a chaplain knocked on the door, and when she opened it, he said "I'm so sorry your daughter has passed away." Obviously frantic, my mother raced back to the hospital to find me safe and sound. I had apparently been put on the "wrong list" by accident. And so began my life....

Okay, probably not the best I could do, but I have to get back to work! But not before I tag Tingle, LilCherie and Trish!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

If we aren't appreciative of what we've got, why should the universe give us more?

If you couldn't tell from the title, today was therapy day.

Last night, J. and I got home and we got Bubba settled in the living room with his cup of milk and the mandatory SpongeBob viewing for the day. We went out into the kitchen and J. put his arms on my shoulders, looked me in the eye, and said, "I love you. I really love you." Then he kissed me, a real kiss, not one of those obligatory pecks. "Do you love me enough to do some housework?" I asked. "Yes I do," he responded. I asked if he would be on board with a chore list and he enthusiastically agreed. The tension lifted. I felt a lot better. I do feel like I'm on a yo-yo, but for now, I'm giving myself a rest.

I visited with my therapist today and told her what had been going on. She tried to enlighten me to what J. might be feeling in our relationship, and I argued for a half an hour about why he didn't have a right to feel that way. Then we did our "energy work" -- just use your imagination here, I'm sure you'll be close -- and I started thinking about my dad, and how I pretty much see him as the best man ever, and how J. invariably fails to pass muster when compared to him, which I do sometimes consciously but probably many times subconsciously. Then I started thinking about what it would be like if the other major female figure in J.'s life--his mother--had been perfect in his eyes, and how I would never have measured up, and what that would feel like. I started thinking about what it must be like for J. to live under that kind of burden.

Then I thought about my parents as a couple, and how my father always seemed to be the one who held everything together, while my mother had her depression and her meltdowns and an incredibly critical view of herself. When my mother had these "freak-outs" as I used to call them, my father would sit with her in the dark, holding her hand, whispering words that I couldn't hear but that somehow calmed her down. As a young child, it was uncomfortable and scary and made me feel responsible for my mother's unhappiness. As I got older, I got angry, and looked at it as completely sick and unhealthy. And now, I see it happening in myself.

In therapy today, I realized that in a way, I'm trying to fill, all by myself, both of the roles my parents played in their relationship. I'm having the meltdowns and the depression and the self-criticism...and I'm trying to hold things together by making sure everything gets done "just the right way" even if that means I have to do it myself. I'm not saying J. couldn't take a more active role in our household or our relationship. But it does seem that in a way, I have shut him out of our relationship. I realized today that I'm not meeting my own expectations for myself--but I'm expecting J. to meet my expectations for him. Is that fair?

When I do my energy work with my therapist, I feel like I reach down deep and come up with amazing knowledge and gems that I didn't know were there, like compassion and forgiveness and optimism, and when I come out of it, I feel calm and optimistic. We discussed ways I might be able to use this to my advantage during challenging times with J. While it may sound funny, and we did laugh about it, I decided I'm going to put an actual physical "STOP" sign or something like that next to the sink, which is where most of my resentment toward J. seems to come up. I'm hoping it will remind me to STOP and put down the damn dishes, find a quiet spot, and take 10 minutes to look inside my heart and try to find those gems of calmness and compassion. And then take my issue to J.

I love therapy day. Everything seems so fucking possible. Just like on Girls' Night.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

And the winner is....

....Sex and the Silos, with two first-place votes.

As I contemplate "Sex and the Silos," I feel it should either be as true to its inspiration as possible, in which case I'd need to make rural life sound so great that everyone would be envious of us Midwesterners, or it should be entirely satirical to make fun of the original series. I don't know yet which way I'll go, and it might evolve over time. One promise: I will not make rural people...okay, more specifically, our rural heroines...into the stereotypical dumb hicks we so often see portrayed in the media.

I'm interested to know if anyone has any specific plot lines you'd like to see appear at some point in "Sex and the Silos." I'm always interested in ideas, so send 'em on, no matter how outlandish. We can use entertaining real-life personal experiences or fantastical ideas. Help me out...I need a distraction and this might prove to be perfect!

Big Discussion Thwarted By Exhaustion

Thanks, everyone, for your comments on my last post, and to H., Tingle and LilCherie for their calls of concern. I felt bad that I made people worry. I agreed with your comments and felt comforted by the concern you all showed me. Melissa, I've been thinking about this part of your comment all day:

"I have to say, though, I've been depressed and I grew up with a depressed mother, and I'm not sure the depression will go away just because J isn't there."

That's a really good point, and one that I probably haven't given enough thought to. I keep coming back to the fact that I feel worse about myself when I'm around J. than I do when I'm around anyone else, or when I'm by myself. Yet maybe I'm using J. as a dumping ground for my depression--or, more accurately, perhaps a trigger that allows me to "legitimately" wallow in my depression. And even if that is the case, is it healthy for me to stay with him? I'd like to try some kind of trial separation but have no idea how we could afford to arrange that. But anyway, Melissa, I appreciate this insight and I'm going to give it some thought and probably a go-round with my therapist (whom I see tomorrow, luckily).

So on to the update:
I fully intended to have a "big discussion" with J. last night, but we both fell asleep in front of the TV roughly ten minutes after we got Bubba to bed. This morning I awoke to Bubba giving me a kiss bye-bye. My entire conversation with J. today went like this:

D: [still in bed] Are you guys going already?
J: [walking down the hallway to the kitchen] Yeah, I have a lot to get done at work.
D: Don't forget to take Bubba's cot blanket and blankie to school!
J: What???? [bitchily, from the kitchen]
D: [Loudly and bitchily] DON'T FORGET TO TAKE BUBBA'S COT BLANKET AND BLANKIE TO SCHOOL!!!!! [I get up to follow them to the kitchen]
J: Jesus Christ, you didn't have to bellow at me like that!
D: Well, you didn't have to ask "what?" so bitchily.
J: Well my ear's plugged up and Bubba's talking and I couldn't hear you!
Then they left.

I got on the bus today and saw my bus-friend M. She's 55 years old, has two grown sons, and we've shared a lot about our frustrations with motherhood and marriage while riding to and from work. I hadn't seen her for a long time, so as we were catching up she casually mentioned that she and her husband had decided to get divorced. I stopped her there and told her I hadn't known that. I told her I was in the middle of trying to decide what to do right now. It was kind of helpful, in a way, to talk to someone who was going through similar stuff. She and her husband were high school sweethearts, just like J. and I were, and over the past several years things had just deteriorated. They're selling their house this spring in order to pay off debt and split whatever assets were left. She said, "Here I am, 55 years old, and I won't have a nickel to my name. But I'll have my job, and I'll be able to start over. A friend told me that this chapter in my life was ending and I just had to let it go, and I realize that she's right, even though it hurts like hell." It seemed odd that I met up with this friend today.

When I got to work, I found an email in my box, a response from J. to a message I'd sent yesterday about how we needed to talk. He responded that he agreed, that he "didn't like the tension in the house."

Then, just now, he calls me up just to "check in." He sounded all friendly. He told me he'd just visited with his therapist and had actually talked to her about us, rather than their usual discussions about movies and trivia. I told him I was feeling pretty much the same. A pause ensued. Then I explained that I didn't really want to start "the discussion" on the phone at work. So we said goodbye and that was that. I hate how he treats me like shit and then decides to be nice to me. It's confusing and makes everything murkier.

So I think we will probably talk tonight. If we can stay up later than Bubba, that is.

I'd be interested to know, from those reading here, what makes your relationships work (if they are working, that is) and whether or not you have been through times like this and if so, how you ended up dealing with it. In short, I want to learn from the good or bad stories you might have to share.

Monday, December 18, 2006

So you can see why I'm going crazy.

J: What's the matter?
D: I'm sick of doing housework.
J: What have you had to do today besides throw one load of laundry in?
D: I cleaned up the dishes when I got home; after I slept I cleaned the kitchen, then I made my own dinner and cleaned up after that, and then did the laundry.
J: What did you have to clean up this morning?
D: I washed dishes and emptied the dishwasher and straightened up the kitchen.
J: The kitchen was fine when you came home.
D: Well, then, why did I ask you if the dishes in the dishwasher were clean? Why was I unloading it if there weren't dirty dishes to put in it?
J: Then you yelled at me for running the dishwasher.
D: Yes, because you only had four dishes in it.
J: They were dirty and I wanted to clean up after myself.
D: There are other ways to wash dishes, you know, like in the sink, or you could leave them in the dishwasher until it's full.
J: So what else did you do?
D: I cleaned up the kitchen again after my nap and then again just now.
J: What was there to clean? We'd all been asleep.
D: I don't remember exactly what I cleaned but I know I just did dishes.
[We go into the kitchen to look. I can't point out exactly which dishes I washed because I don't remember specifically. Guess I wasn't paying that much attention to each individual dish I washed.]
J: I just don't think you've been too put-upon today.
D: I'm not just talking about today--I'm talking about all the rest of the time. You don't even notice what I do around here.
J: You don't notice what I do either.
D: What do you do? You don't do jack shit around here.
J: I straightened up the kitchen this morning and I do laundry...just forget it.
D: I feel like I'm just a slave around here. Every time I'm awake I'm doing housework. Even when I had my stent in last week, I was hauling laundry downstairs, washing it, bringing it up, folding it and putting it away, even though I had asked you to do it, which you didn't.
J: I carried all that laundry downstairs when you asked me to.
D: Well, I remember hauling dirty laundry downstairs because it was fucking painful. [Pause.] You seem to think that if Bubba is awake you can't do anything.
J: So I'm not supposed to have any free time?
D: You do have free time--you go sit at the computer for hours, play PlayStation, read your book...what free time do I get?
J: I don't get to just take off for a day every week like you do [referring to Girls' Night].
D: You get to do what you want to night with the guys, softball, guys' night, wallyball...
J: Yeah for THREE HOURS at a time, usually after Bubba's in bed. I don't get to just leave for a whole night.
D: So you'd be happier if my Girls' Nights were only three hours? You begrudge me the one fucking thing I enjoy in my life, the ONE NIGHT I get to do something for myself.
J: No, I'm just saying I don't get to just take off for a whole night.
D: Do you want to? Are you jealous or what?

[Somewhere around this point, J. mentioned that I slept all day that day, and that the previous Thursday, "you got to lay around and sleep all day." My response was: "Yeah--the day after I'd had general anesthesia."]

[A pause.]

D: Maybe we should just break up. I'm so sick of this fight.
J: If that's what you want to do, Depressionista, then go for it. I think you'll find that I'm not that bad of a guy.

[Another pause.]

D (crying): I don't know what I want. I'm just really unhappy.
J: I don't understand how things seem to be going fine and then boom, one night you just want to get divorced.
D: Things aren't "fine," J. Don't you see that?
J: Then divorce me. Find someone who can give you what you want or realize you made a mistake or whatever.
D: You're right. I'm probably just blaming you for all my problems.

At this point I go out to the porch to cry and smoke, spiraling down into the abyss of general depression. Thinking about how I am ugly and how J. and I are completely without intimacy with each other and how it's my fauult because I'm fat and uglyl and afraid to have sex because of my problems since my surgery in July. How I'm a shitty mother--this thought was sparked by earlier in the evening, when I was trying to wrestle Bubba to bed and he was really resisting it, and I was yelling at him and trying to physically get him back in his bed, and my fingernail accidentally nicked the side of his ear and he screamed and ran from me like he was scared.

I moved into the bedroom and cried for a long while, then realized that Bubba was crying and J., who was in the living room playing PlayStation, wasn't doing anything about it, so I arose from my meltdown and opened my door saying "Jesus Christ!" thinking that I don't even get to fucking fall apart without having to attend to Bubba. J. then jumps up and beats me to Bubba's door and picks him up and rocks him. I went back into my bedroom and continued the spiral, sobbing into my pillow, thinking about how I could kill myself and how appealing that thought was. Ruling out a gun because of the mess. I went out to the kitchen to look at my pills to see which ones would most likely work to do the job, but still kind of realizing that I didn't really have the guts to go through with it, and then Bubba started crying again. He wouldn't stop crying, and earlier he'd had a fever, so to I had to stop and get him Tylenol, which he screamed about taking. J. got him to sleep and came out and then Bubba woke up crying again. I said, "I wish I'd never had a kid. I hate it." Then J. went to Bubba and I went back to bed, crying, wishing Hope was here because I just knew she would have loved me whereas Bubba only wants J. Bubba kept crying, so I called to J. to bring him into my bed thinking that maybe Bubba would want to sleep in bed with me, and when he tried Bubba screamed bloody murder to J. had to take him out. I fell asleep crying.

The end.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Trump says...

In the spirit of the is the best bad Christmas letter I have ever received. It's from a high school friend, and is written from the perspective of her cat. Enjoy.

Envy and the Insomniac

Last night I was watching "Sex and the City" because it was the only thing on at midnight and also because I have a love-hate relationship with the show. I love it because I wish that was the life I led.
Wouldn't it be great to be thin, beautiful (or at least have people act like you are; I've never really seen the attraction of Sarah Jessica Parker), and have a cool job like writing a sex column where all you had to do was sit in your funky New York City apartment smoking and writing about your endlessly fascinating sex/love life on your cool laptop computer?

Wouldn't it be awesome to actually have an endlessly fascinating sex/love life?

Wouldn't it be cool to meet "the girls" for breakfast, lunch or dinner every day?

Wouldn't it be cool to somehow have enough money to buy the latest fashions AND be able to pull them off without looking ridiculous?

Wouldn't it be fabulous to have the perfect gay male friend, and to have endless invitations to go to Brazil or Paris to be some handsome, rich man's concubine?

Wouldn't it be fun to spend the evening bouncing from cool nightclub to fancy restaurant to handsome man's apartment?

I hate "Sex and the City" because....well, because it isn't the life I lead.
This morning I woke up, made breakfast for my toddler and gave him his nebulizer treatment, dressed him and then picked out my clothes for the day: a jean skirt I bought somewhere around 5 years ago that's about one size too small now, so I had to do the hands-in-the-waistband squat maneuver just to stretch it out enough to button; a Lane Bryant button-down shirt I've had for about...again, 5 years, I guess; and a new pair of blue tights that even at size "4" (read: huge) were almost unable to go past my thighs. In fact, in order to stretch them out, I stuffed two full-sized pillows in the waist and butt area of the tights and left them like that while I took my shower.

I am lucky that I get to see "the girls" -- or at least, "the girl" (LilCherie) -- almost every week. Getting my "girls" together would involve coordinating with LilCherie and H., as well as my friend Tingle hopping a plane or driving for 8 hours.

I write PR materials for health colleges. BORING.

I can't smoke inside my house because I have a child.

I can't sit around and write witty observations about my fascinating sex/love life because a) I don't have one, and b) there's too much laundry/childcare/food preparation/dishes/laundry/childcare/food preparation/dishes to have time for it.

I have a few gay male friends, but it's not like we "hang out" very much. We don't meet to go shopping on Saturdays or anything because we aren't that close and...

...I never have any money.

I've never been invited to Brazil or Paris to be some handsome, rich man's concubine. In fact, I've only been hit on perhaps five times in my entire life. A dork in high school (not the same one I married--he never even hit on me. I chased him.); a couple of drunk guys in college; an older, portly, drunk guy from Jordan who had a cockroach-infested apartment (and the only reason I know that is because I was drunk and stupid and frankly, desperate for some attention. It never went any further than a quick dance in his living room and then an even quicker exit); and LilCherie's ex-boyfriend (again, drunk as a skunk).
I don't want to hear any pablum about how much more rewarding my life is because I have real struggles and triumphs and Bubba and a committed relationship and the women portrayed on SATC are so shallow, blah blah blah. It's a fantasy, I know, but damn! It makes me feel like my life sucks. And yet, I can't look away.

I think they should do a kind of Sex and the City II more along the lines of my life and the lives of those I hang with. I have a few ideas for titles, depending on which way you want to go with it:

1. Coitus and the Country.
2. Sex and the Silos.
3. Celibacy and the Soybeans.
4. Sex and the Cornbelt.
5. Fridigidy and the Farmland.
6. Boredom and the Boondocks (or, if you prefer, "Boredom and the BuFu").
7. Doldrums and the Dairyland.

Maybe I'll come up with a serial here on the blog, going by whatever title wins by most votes. So c'mon, all you lurkers, all two of you that I KNOW are out there, cast your vote now for the next big hit!

More to come...

New band name: Funky Scar Tissue

Well, I can tell by the number of comments on my last post that people are holding their breath waiting for this update! A big shout out to Meredith who left me a note...thank you!

Everything went great with the surgery. Nothing but funky scar tissue in my ureter making x-rays look weird. So the stent is gone and I'm done. I took yesterday off as well and I think had some kind of delayed anesthesia effect because I slept from 8:30 a.m. to noon, went potty, and then slept until 5 p.m. I didn't even wake up to eat. I made up for it last night when I was up until 1:30 a.m., but I had enough in reserve that I feel refreshed today.

We've decided to take a break from the Bubba-sleeping-in-his-own-bed issue. Last night, J. had a migraine, so I took over Bubba duty and when he woke up at 1:30 a.m. he came into bed with me. It was quite nice. He snuggled in to the bed and then turned his sleepy face toward mine and said "green horse." "Are you dreaming about a green horse?" I asked him. "Yeah," he said. "Ma and Pa on green horse." That would be me and my dad, whom Bubba calls "Pa." Then he fell back asleep until 5:30, at which point we both got up and started the day.

My latest Bubba concern, other than the sleeping, is his speech. He is still largely unintelligible to people other than J., me, and my mother. Some examples would be: he says "waar" for "water"; "beesh" for "fish"; "puh-ee" for "puppy"; "kee" for "kitty"; "meh" for "milk"; "i kee ko" for "ice cream cone"; "meese" for "please" and "tenkoo" for "thank you." No matter how much we try to enunciate for him and have him try to repeat after us, he doesn't seem able to make the sounds correctly.

I asked my mom what she thought and she said "I think he's just going to do things on his own timetable." When I pressed her, she said that yes, in her experience, most two-year-olds are more intelligible than Bubba is. I wonder if I should just relax about it and see what happens over the next six months, or try to get him assessed right now. I don't want to be one of those neurotic mothers who sends her kid to a specialist every other week for something new; but I also don't want him to suffer or fall behind because I wasn't proactive enough. I have to admit that sometimes it bothers me that it seems to take Bubba a long time to master skills. I don't feel like he is slow; in fact, I feel like he is very intelligent in his own, eclectic way but that it doesn't often translate into the traditional "milestones" we all look for. It makes me concerned that he will have a hard time keeping up with his peers or succeeding in school.

It doesn't help that I work with The Bragger, and our sons go to the same daycare in our building. Her son, "Nigel," is two months older than Bubba. He's emotionally stunted, yes, but speaks like he just graduated from Oxford. I know it's true, because I've actually spoken to him. He says things like "We're going to go see Daddy. We're going to ride the bus across the river and see Daddy at work." I'm not kidding. And it's all completely intelligible.

In other news, I just had a delightful visit from my neice, A., who stopped by my office. She just finished her first semester of college here in the town where we live. It has been so nice having her here. She parks her car at our place, so during the week and some weekends I have the luxury of driving it around to do errands or get to work when I'm too lazy to take the bus. I brought it to work today and she came by to pick it up. She comes over for laundry or dinner and has been a really great resource for babysitting. She's going to be back in our hometown for a whole month! I'm going to miss her. I can't believe she is in college. I remember helping potty-train her when she was Bubba's age, and now she's so grown up. She is so beautiful, and even better, humorous, funny, intelligent, self-effacing, polite and kind. I love her so much.

So...that's my Friday so far. Stop by and say hi, don't be shy!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

I'd like to be comfortably numb, please

In my ongoing effort to be a better blogger, I'm posting here without really having much to say. Tomorrow I will be going in for my ureteroscopy and hopefully getting this fucking stent out of my innards. As previously mentioned, I've had so many surgeries that I don't get too excited about it anymore. I know that I have to take my Prevacid the morning of the surgery to make sure my stomach acid doesn't reflux; I know when to stop eating and drinking; I know to tell the anesthesiologist that I get nauseous afterwards but it is easily thwarted if they give me some antiemetics in the OR, and that I am a heavy coffee drinker so if they can give me a shot of caffeine while I'm in there it will help mitigate the after-anesthesia splitting headache. I pack a Tupperware and some paper towels in the car in case I throw up on the way home. I'm kind of a professional patient.

The best part and the scariest part for me is the general anesthesia. Best because I love that momentary feeling of surrender and utter relaxation after they push the juice in; scary because well, you know, you can die. But I figure I've made it through the process like 10 times now so I'll probably keep making it through. And, if I don't, it's not a bad way to go. You wouldn't even know what was happening.

One of the things that annoys me is that whenever I'm having a surgery, J. is usually not really there emotionally for me. I mean, he is helpful and accommodating, but the time spent in the waiting room or the exam room waiting for the surgery usually finds J. reading a book or, more likely, sleeping.

There is something about hospitals that immediately puts J. to sleep. Last time I had surgery, in July, he fell asleep for almost the whole time I was waiting in the exam room. He slept through the IV placement and everything. I had to wake him up when they started wheeling me away so that I could say goodbye. Then, he told me later, he slept in the waiting room all through my surgery and the surgeon had to wake him up to explain what she did to me and how I was. Therefore, he couldn't really provide me with any of the details from the surgery that he was supposed to pass on because he was so groggy from sleeping. I always say I'm going to have a friend take me "next time" but whenever next time comes, I don't want to be that big of a burden on anyone, so I just drag him along.

J. and I have discussed this but by now I know that there's no stopping it--it's almost like he doesn't have control over it. He's kind of the professional spouse of the patient. Doesn't get too worked up anymore. Although he did recently tell me that after I lost Hope, when I started hemmorhaging two weeks later and had to have an emergency D&C, he almost passed out when they took me to the OR because he was so afraid I was going to die. He said, "They never do anything quickly at the University of WKWKYKBYSOUM Hospitals and Clinics, so to see them rushing around to get you into surgery terrified me." That was sweet.

So anyway, I will probably sleep okay tonight, and do pretty well until the drive up to the hospital, at which point I will get a little fluttery feeling in my stomach which will go away during the interminable wait betweent the initial examination/gowning/temperature-taking at the beginning and the IV placement/wheeling down to the OR at the end. Then I'll have that sweet moment of bliss, get knocked out, wake up feeling like shit and begin the recovery process. Wish me luck!

Monday, December 11, 2006

This Domestic Goddess needs your help (plea appears at bottom of post!)

So Guys' Night went swimmingly! I made chili cheese dip, got some Fritos, tortilla chips and Chex Mix, made some chocolate chip cookies (just the refrigerated dough you buy at the store) and had it all set out for the guys when they returned from seeing "Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny" (by the way, a hilarious movie--we saw it with LilCherie and her hubby about a week ago, so it was the second time for J. and R. They said it was still hilarious even on second viewing).

You would have thought I'd spent the whole day slaving over a stove the way the guys reacted when they got home. They were so excited just to have a few snacks! J. was very appreciative and thanked me many times that night and the next day. I played one round of Guitar Hero II with the guys, then went into the bedroom and read magazines in order to give the guys some time to be just guys. I was kind of amazed to listen to them as they interacted "in the wild" with each other. It was weird because a lot of their communication is really just sounds. A lot of gutteral "Ho!"s in response to something exciting happening on the video game, a lot of laughing, a lot of sounds of dismay when something bad happened on the video game, some other miscellaneous noises that must have had some kind of context but I wasn't aware of what it was since I was in the other room. It was an interesting observation, really. Anyway, everything went well until about midnight, when Bubba woke up crying and would only allow J. to comfort him; in the end, Bubba and I ended up sleeping together. But I tried to handle it and I know J. realized that.

The next morning, I continued in my Domestic Goddess role by starting the day with a bath for Bubba and then actually doing some enriching activities with Bubba while J. worked until noon. We painted pictures and sprinkled salt over them for the tactile experience as well as the cool effect once it dried, and then we cut out some cookies, sprinkled colored sugar over them and popped them in the oven, and then ate some of our creations. He had a great time with the salt and the sugar. At one point, when I wasn't looking, he dumped out all the green sugar and stuffed a huge handful in his mouth. He was green from his nose to his neck and his hands were just a mess. I have to say it was pretty cute to see him smiling at me, saying "Yum!!" with green all around his mouth and in his teeth.

So....that night was Girls' Night at my house. Unfortunately, our friend H. couldn't make it, so it was just LilCherie and me. We had a great time, however, and got started making some inventory to eventually sell on I didn't notice a huge behavior change in J.--he was still somewhat sullen. Or at least it seemed that way to me. Maybe that's just how he is when he's trying to entertain himself, who knows. But he wasn't outright irritable, and he did do the lion's share of Bubba duties so that LilCherie and I could cut loose. We both ended up trying to deal with Bubba at 3:30 a.m.--I was still up, J. had been asleep for a couple hours or so. All in all, a very good night.

Sunday was also a really nice, relaxed day. We started the day with cinnamon rolls, coffee and LilCherie's company. After she left, we packed up and went to Target and the mall, where we got a good chunk of Christmas shopping done as well as some general household items we needed. Bubba got to ride on the carousel, so he was happy. Unfortunately, he fell asleep on the way home--a 20-minute ride--and then would not take a nap for the rest of the day. In general, though, he was good natured for most of the day. J. and Bubba and I spend the afternoon playing WITHOUT THE TV ON. This is a major step for J., and hugely relaxing for me. Then J. took a long nap (while I did the laundry that J. said he would do since I still have this stent in...the pain meds must be mellowing me out because I was only mildly annoyed at this) and I watched Bubba for awhile, tried to put him to bed and then woke J. up to deal with it when Bubba got hysterical.

So that leads us to an issue I wanted to bring up with my vast legions of readers. We are having some major sleeping issues with Bubba. He is in a toddler bed and has been since summer. For the first month or two, he went down like a champ and slept great all night. Lately, over the past month or so, his sleeping has swiftly degenerated to the point where he once again screams, cries, and escapes his bed multiple times before he finally goes to sleep, sometimes just exhausted after crying, sometimes requiring rocking or a backrub until he drifts off.

That wouldn't be so bad, but he is also waking up two, three, four times a night. It starts around midnight. He wakes up crying, stumbles out into the hallway and tries to get in bed with J. For awhile, J. was letting him do that, and Bubba would then sleep all night with J. For about two weeks, however, we've been trying to break this cycle and make Bubba sleep in his own bed. He wakes up crying, we put him back in his bed and try to soothe him to sleep. One of two things happens: he gets hysterical to the point where we have to put him in our bed or even let him come out into the living room for awhile; or he will fall back asleep and wake up a half an hour later and we go through the same thing. We've been trying to be firm about putting him back in his bed no matter how many times he awakens, thinking that eventually he will learn that if he gets up and cries he still ends up in his bed. But after we've placed him back in bed at least 12 times and he's crying so hard he is about to throw up, we cave in. We just cannot take it.

There have been no major changes in his routine or in our lives. The cat died, but Bubba didn't even notice for two weeks, then asked about him once and after I said he had died Bubba never brought it up again--plus, the sleeping issues began before Lorenzo passed away.

We are wondering: Does Bubba just want to be with Daddy? Is there something scaring Bubba in his own room? Does he want a "real" bed instead of the toddler bed? How do we get him to go to sleep and stay asleep? How do we handle it when he wakes up crying and demanding to get in bed with Daddy without making Bubba so hysterical that he can't calm down? In short--help!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Guys' Night at the Depressionista Ranchero

Thanks to a change in my pain medication, I'm feeling much better today and have actually managed to get some stuff done at work. Therefore, I now feel justified in blogging. Lately I've been wishing that I was a more regular blogger, but I never really know what to say....I envy people like Meredith who seem to be able to post regularly without being boring!

Tonight my husband is hosting "Guys Night" at our house. The group, including LilCherie's hubby, is going to a movie and then coming over to our house to play video games. A great idea hatched via email with Tingle today, which is for me to be the complete antithesis of J. during Girl's Night. That means having a cheerful disposition and, as Tingle says, being all "wifey" and providing snacks and whatnot. I'm even going to use the air popper to make them popcorn!!! The credit for that idea has to go to's perfect!

I plan to make chili-cheese dip, popcorn and some Pillsbury premade cookie dough cookies, and also get Chex Mix and some frozen pizzas in case they are hungry. I'm going to serve it on my retro glass snack trays that J. got me a few weeks ago. It's going to be so hilarious! But the main point is to kind of show J. what a dud he is when I have Girl's Night. He probably won't even make the connection but even if he doesn't, I can use it against him during our next "J. sucking the joy out of everything" argument. :-) (I put the smiley face there but really, I'm kinda serious. Sad, isn't it?)

So anyway, my evening will be filled with domestic duties like grocery shopping, making snacks for my man, and taking care of our offspring. Then tomorrow, after J. gets done with work at noon, I'm taking some time off!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Opportunities to love

Right now I am at home recovering from my latest medical issue. In 1994 and 1996, I had surgeries to remove a polyp from my ureter (the tube between your bladder and your kidney). I did fine after that until last month when I got a weird bladder infection, so I went to the urologist to have it checked out. A contrast IVP x-ray showed there was some scar tissue there, and the doctor wanted to check it out more thoroughly, so yesterday I had a cystoscopy and retrograde x-ray, where they put a scope in your bladder, look around, and then shoot dye up into the kidney and take images to see if everything is flowing properly. He found a flap of something in my ureter, so he put a stent (a small tube) in it to stretch the ureter out, and in two weeks I'll go under general anesthesia and he'll look in there with a ureteroscope. Until then, I have to live my life with a tube hanging out between my bladder and my kidney. Anyone who has had a kidney stone will know the kind of pain I was in yesterday and last night, in spite of generous administrations of pain medication. Today, I'm feeling a little better, but still at home because it pretty much hurts to move around.

I don't understand why I have had so many health problems. J. says he thinks I'm paying off some kind of karmic debt. I sometimes think that I'm cursed in some way; other times, I just think I'm unlucky. I think my boss and my coworkers are probably starting to think I'm a hypochondriac, but the difference here is that almost always, there really IS something wrong with me, so it's not all in my head.

It's really disheartening when I have to give my health history to the nurse in preparation for surgery. Even to myself, I sound like a freak. Here's the rundown of everything "major" that has happened to me healthwise. I'm not counting pneumonia, bladder infections, pyloric stenosis or broken bones as a child.

1991: Pilonidal cyst on my tailbone
1994: Polyp in ureter
1996: Polyp in ureter and kidney stone
1998-2004: Infertility/polycystic ovarian syndrome
2001: Two surgeries for abscess on vulva
2002: Two more surgeries for said abscess on vulva
2003: Lost my daughter due to incompetent cervix, D&C two weeks later for hemmorrhaging related to retained placenta
2004: Pregnant with Bubba--cervical cerclage at 12 weeks, bedrest for three weeks, Bubba born six weeks early
2004: Five weeks after Bubba's birth, incision and drainage of abscess on buttcheek
2004-2005: Postpartum depression
2006: Yet another surgery for abscess on vulva
2006: Recurrent sinus infections, CT reveals nasal polyps and deviated septum
2006: Bladder infection/cystoscopy/ureteroscopy

In addition to all that, I always have to tell the hospital about my irregular heartbeat that I had to have checked out with a Holter monitor (it's okay, they say, but I'm still not 100 percent convinced) and my gastroesophageal reflux.

I know I don't take care of myself the way I should, but I also don't feel like my health habits are that much worse than a lot of people who don't have problems like this. I'm overweight and I smoke, those are the biggies. I rarely exercise. But I eat a fairly healthy diet, I get plenty of rest, I get things checked out immediately and don't let health problems fester. So what's the deal?

Today I did manage to get to my therapy appointment, and had a great session about how I feel that I'm a burden to others because of all my health issues. I sometimes feel that I let people down or make other people sad because I'm always sick with something. I especially feel like a burden on J. at times, because he always has to take me to appointments when I'm being sedated and he had to tend to my needs and listen to me moaning in pain when the procedure is over.

My wonderful therapist helped me explore those feelings today, and I feel like I made some interesting discoveries. I realized that if these things were going on with J. or one of my good friends, I wouldn't feel let down or burdened; instead, I'd welcome the opportunity to try to help in some way. That led me to the thought that "crises" such as my health problems can be seen as an opportunity for a deeper love between people who care about each other. Getting through these things with my loved ones by my side deepens and strengthens our relationships to one another and adds some kind of richness to my life that wouldn't be there otherwise. I had never really thought of that possibility until today.

My therapist and I are working on compassion and forgiveness--toward myself, toward J., and toward others who have hurt me in the past, and it's really freeing. It is so easy to tell myself how terrible I am or how much of a failure I am, and much harder to treat myself as I would treat a friend or lover. I'm learning to do that now, and it's really an awesome feeling. I leave her office feeling light as air, and I'm finding that even without trying, little changes in my life are bubbling to the surface.

So that's where I'm at today. I hope anyone reading this will take a minute to look inside themselves and give themselves some compassion and love. Realize that you are only human and that nobody is perfect. Realize that you do the best you can with the tools you have, and that you are worthy of the same love you give so selflessly to your loved ones.