Thursday, January 31, 2008

I can quit you, and I will.

Today I made the decision that I'm firing my midwife practice. 

I've been feeling "off" for the last few days, and last night at the car dealership (a long story, but we didn't buy the car) I had four huge contractions while we were there, due largely to stress of the salesperson lying to us). So, I stayed home from work today as I was feeling crampy and generally icky.  I tried calling the midwife's office yesterday to make an appointment - but as it turns out, they're CLOSED on Wed. Every single Wed. And, they're not open on Saturday. Oh, and did I mention that they're only open until 2 p.m. one other day during the week? And they're 45 miles from my work, which means that due to the train schedule, unless I get an early morning appointment, I end up having to miss an entire day of work to see them? 

My original doctor was a pleasant Indian man, with a grandfatherly demeanor. He was nice, but when we moved out of the city, it wasn't practical for me to continue care with him. When we moved out to the suburbs, I decided to see about a midwife's practice here in the town that I live in. Big mistake.  The head of the practice was a warm, kind woman who was patient with my questions. Her partner? An icy bitch. 

When I went in for an emergency visit due to incredible swelling in my hands and feet she all but rolled her eyes at me and said that some women just have worse swelling than others. The woman who makes the appointment is a little too authority-happy. When I stared under their care, I requested my previous records FOUR TIMES from the first doctor's office, and for some reason they never received them. I tried. I signed a release and requested that my records be sent over. They bitch me out about not having the records every time I'm in there. I'm sorry - I've tried to get them. They have copies of everything else though, so aside from records from my first 12 weeks, there's nothing they have to worry about. And really - so many women don't even see a doctor until then, that seriously - they can do without them. 

Anyway, today was the kicker. Their office is closed on Wed. so I couldn't make an appointment yesterday. Today, when I called to make an appointment, they told me that they had to see me tomorrow at 11:45. Now, I work downtown, and with the train schedule the way that it is, there's no way that I can make it back here in time for the appointment. Just simply no way. I told her that I couldn't take that appointment and that I needed something for next week. She said that there wasn't anything. I asked about the week after. She said that wasn't allowable - that it was too many weeks between me seeing the CNM, and then said 

"You need to make sure you care as much about your baby as you do your job, and make your appointments here with the same vigilance that you make your appointments at the office" 

At this point, I flipped out. I work for a living. I don't have the luxury of staying at home. I have to be in the office the majority of the time. 

As soon as I hung up with her (after securing an appointment at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, where I will retrieve my records), I called an OBGYN that's close to the house for an appointment. The receptionist was pleasant, and said that a nurse would call me within a few minutes to follow up and set up an appointment that fit my schedule. 

After I have my records, I will be done with their office. I'm saddened, because I really wanted to try the midwife route, but not at the cost of this much stress. 

Monday, January 28, 2008

Biscuit feet

And lo, the swelling is bad. So bad, in fact that my once svelte ankles now have full-fledged rolls.

My lower legs, ankles and feet look like someone popped open a tube of Grands biscuits and the flesh (rather than the heart-clogging artery-restricting raw dough) is billowing up over the edges of my shoes.

Somehow, I have the distinct feeling that if I take my shoes off, they will make that same "pop" sound that the biscuit/cinnamon roll tube makes when you open it.

I've had my feet up all day, and been drinking copious amounts of water - but it's still not helping.

Oh. And I may be crowned a true suburbanite tonight. We're going to possibly purchase a new Saab 9-3 Aero Sport Wagon tonight. It's got a navigation system, XM radio, 2.8-liter 6-cylinder turbocharged engine with 250 hp and 258 lb. ft. of torque, 5-spoke alloy wheels, all-season tires aerodynamic headlamps, xenon projector beam, lowered sport-tuned chassis, a power moonroof, premium audio system with 300W and 10 speakers, 6-disc in-dash CD changer, metallic trim, leather-appointed sport seats, leather-trimmed Aero sport steering wheel with aluminum accents, 8-way power dual front seats, rear parking assist, touring package with Xenon headlights and rain sensing windshield wipers.

There's either a $5,500 rebate or a 0% interest for 5 years financing deal right now, and I crunched the numbers and the cash rebate will actually benefit us more than the 0% financing if we go through our own bank.

Granted, it will be Patrick's car - and not mine, as I flatly refused to drive a wagon... but part of me is immensely jealous that it's going to be his.

We're not sure if we're going to trade either of our cars (as my dad may be buying Patrick's Civic SI).

Freshly Showered

We flew down to Dallas this weekend for a baby shower that my sisters threw for us (family only - aside from my best friend since sixth grade Paula who surprised me by driving up from Austin) and were very, very thankful that we brought two large empty suitcases to haul stuff back with. There were a lot of family there that I honestly didn't even remember as it had been a good fifteen years or so since I'd seen some of them.

We were inundated by gifts, and as much as I hate being the center of attention, it was so nice to see all of my dad's family. Patrick's Aunt drove in from Arkansas, and his sister flew in from Phoneix.

Since we were flying back home the next day, some people sent gifts to our house or gift cards, to make the trip easier to handle. So - in addition to all of this, not pictured is a crib, all the nursery bedding (comforter, bumper, blankets, sheets, a mobile, curtains and valances for the nursery), a stroller, and other lovely gifts (a boppy, a baby bathtub, etc.)

We're so lucky to have such wonderful, loving people in our lives. And so lucky that baby clothes and blankets can be packed down so small - as we just (barely) made our luggage limit on the way home after taking the gifts out of every bit of packaging that we could.

We ended up with I think seventeen bibs, nearly thirty onesies, adorable hooded towels, teensy little footed sleepers, baby books, bouncers, tons of first aid stuff, a bumbo (with tray), about fifteen blankets, and tons of other cute stuff. (This is all on top of what we've already bought (it's an addiction - I can't help it! We snagged a bunch of onesies after xmas for about $.60 each and hit up the Old Navy clearance a time or two) and have been generously gifted by his lovely internet Auntie Helen (a beautiful stuffed french rabbit) and Auntie Jen (an ugly doll - of course - and adorable mismatched socks).

It's amazing to me that this is really happening, that he's going to be here soon. And he is going to be showered with love by so many people.

There's still quite a bit of stuff we need - like a sling, a mattress for the crib, a carseat, some diapers for right at first, etc. There's a lot of other things I would like to have (a changing pad, rattles, books, pacifiers, etc.) but I know if he comes now - there are very few things that we absolutely have to have. He'll be sleeping in the bassinet right at first anyway, so even if we wait a bit on the mattress it's not the end of the world.

I'll be writing a lot of thank you notes this week.

Friday, January 25, 2008

We got a long way to go, and a short time to get there...

We leave tonight from ORD-DFW to spend the weekend with friends and loved ones. Tomorrow my sisters are throwing a baby shower for us. I almost wish we'd done it under an assumed name as Patrick's psycho ex-girlfriend (who has been e-mailing and calling him for the better part of a year - with him repeatedly telling her that he didn't want anything to do with her and STOP CONTACTING HIM) found the registry and sent a long hateful e-mail after she apparently spent the afternoon trolling for it.

Her email said (comments from me sprinkled throughout in bold brackets)

Looked at your Target registry--[don't know how she found it - aside from her continuing pyschotic obsession with him, and her trolling through our flickr pictures. My guess is she spent hours looking through every possible online baby registry site, which is so utterly pathetic.] would have liked to have given you a gift. I do believe this is the first baby registry I have ever seen with the nursing paraphenalia on it--breast pads and the like. Normally that stuff doesn't make the cut as it is so affordable and well people get sort of squeamish thinking about it. Breast feeding is a beautiful, natural thing but people get uncomfortable considering the specifics. [Well, I'll be feeding my son this way (assuming it works for us, it may not) - and actually, some of the nursing things were the first things to be purchased off the registry. Just by putting them on the list doesn't mean that I expect them - it was merely something I'd like to receive. And I think it's important to register for things of varying prices to be able to let each person make a selection that they're comfortable with.] I mean who wants to attend a baby shower where people are oohing and ahhing over adorable onesies and be the one whose gift is breast shields!?! At that point you might as well add the menstral [For someone who was an English major and prides herself on her extensive vocabulary, it's a shame her grammar and spelling are so abhorrent] pads April will have to wear post-birth. Some gifts just aren't sexy. [Hmmm, yes. A picture of you, for instance]

I have decided though to get you a gift that isn't on your registry. [Granted, she doesn't know where we live, so I doubt that this is possible - as we've been very carefully hiding our address from her in fear she'll show up a la SWF.] I'm going to get you a nice copy of Huckleberry Finn. [And if she did manage to find our address and send a gift (doubtful how she'd manage to afford that considering she doesn't work, unless she's mooching off her new beau the way she did Patrick, and pretty much every guy she dated before him) I would send it back. Possibly charred and shredded in tiny little pieces.] It is obviously way too old for an infant but I think it is nice to have books in the nursery. I grew up with shelves upon shelves of books. When i was old enough my parents read them to me and later I read them myself. I will most likely get an abridged version of Huck Finn something that your son won't have to wait till middle school to enjoy.

Julian is a hilarious name--LOVE IT! But, you aren't guaranteed to have a gay boy! [What kind of person picks on a child that isn't even born yet?] What if he is a guys guy and is saddled with the name Julian!?! Or worse he is a wimpy guy who doesn't have the confidence to carry it off. Spending time on the playground surviving taunts of "Julie". But, there is a dearth of compelling boys names. The ones that are at all decent have been overused to the point of being boring. The ones that are at all interesting tend to come off as effete like "Julian". I know when i thought i was having a boy I was stumped--every name I liked seemed vaguely British (or downright British) and I couldn't in good conscience saddle my son with a name like Conrad, Basil or Lytton. [And she's making fun of Julian as a choice?] Alex and I have decided if we have a son we are going to name him William. Of course that name is fraught as well--he'll most likely break my heart and call himself 'Bill".

Hopefully the solution will be I have a girl. Alex and I have decided that we only want one child--I will be 37 at the earliest [Never too late to get psychological help!] and Alex [this poor schmuck - he has no idea what a rabid psycho he has for a girlfriend. I suppose when a year passes, and the depth of her depravity finally is evident perhaps he'll wise up enough to leave her. As an aside, I know who he is - and where he works, and have been SORELY tempted to forward her e-mails to him to ask him to make her stop contacting Patrick, as everytime he blocks her, she e-mails again from another account.] 43 when we have our first child so having a second one just won't be possible. Well, physically it could happen but we don't want to be such aged parents (we'll be old enough as it is!). I absolutely do not want to become pregnant until aftert he wedding (although i am now ovulating!). [Oh MY GAWD - inappropriate, much?] I am too traditional. Not only are Alex and I still trying to sort out our own relationship but I know kids do the math and I absolutely want my child to know they weren't an "accident" that they were a decision. [Our child wasn't an accident. We knew, and hoped, there was a possibility (though slim) we could conceive naturally. And our son will be adored and loved.] Childhood is scary enough--I want to provide a real sense of security at home. That isn't a slam on you. I am sure your child will feel loved. I just couldn't go the route you've chosen. I want it to be abundantly clear that if I were to be a mother I'd want to do it properly. [Then for god sakes, please, do not have children. The thought of you as a mother makes me vomit in my mouth. The therapy bills that poor child would have as an adult.]

Also please don't think i am making fun of the name Julian. I do like it and I do admire your courage. it is a bold, fabulous choice.

You and April seem to be about going against the grain and I do in a way admire that sans snarkiness. You guys are who you are and that is a wonderful thing to pass along to your child. So don't fret about the name Julian, or the pregnancy before the wedding or the breast shields. Just keep being comfortable in your own skin. That is by far the most important gift to pass along to Julian. I am unabashedly jealous--I wish i could be as over-the-top. [I just wish you could be normal and MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE and quit obsessing over someone who wants nothing to do with you.] Again I don't mean that snarkily. I know that sometimes I am hemmed in by being conventional. Am always too worried about other people's opinions and that can be paralyzing. You and April seem genuinely happy [the only reason she can make this (while admittedly, true) assumption is that she stalks us via flickr] and maybe would be less so if you fretted about the stuff i fret about.

Oh, and when I register for gifts please check out my list and have it be open season--mock me for my choices. It is exactly what I would deserve!!!!

I wish I could go into the backstory of this woman, and how utterly insane she truly is, but there's simply not enough time to do so today (or for the foreseeable future). Nonetheless, Patrick sent her another email that again reiterated that he did not want contact with her, that she needs to move on. We're talking to an attorney about what we need to do to get a restraining order against her por threaten other legal action. That e-mail was just one of three yesterday.

I just needed to vent about it.

And apologies for the randomness of the title. How Smoky and the Bandit got into my head, I have no clue.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The realization that we will no longer be just two.

Patrick and I had a hurried courtship, if one can call it that. We moved in together in early April. I was pregnant by August. In some ways, I'm jealous of the people that live with their significant other/spouse for years before having children. We will never have more than a few months of memories of "just us."

I am starting the third trimester (how did that happen so quickly? It seems like it was just yesterday (o.k. - August 20th) that I found out that I was pregnant). And yesterday, I wept when I realized we wouldn't have much time left for just the two of us. Truth be told, I cry a lot lately. I'm happy - I'm just a "touch" sensitive.

We've had so much happen in the small amount of time we've been together (a cross-country move, me starting a new job, taking the bar, buying a new house together, him starting a new job, getting married) aside from the pregnancy that we've had precious little time to "just be."

Honestly? I'm freaking out a bit. I know that having a child together necessarily changes everything. And... I'm scared. In so many ways we're virtual strangers - learning about each other as the days pass. I feel selfish in a way that I don't want this time to slip away... that I want to be able to stop it - to make the time we have together (sans baby) last indefinitely.

But the gentle kicking in my belly tells me that's not an option. In less than three months (give or take a week or two) we'll no longer be two, but three. And I'm excited about the baby - happy that he's coming, that we'll be a family. But... I'm also petrified.

I don't know the first thing about having a baby. In all the years of infertility treatment, I realized that I know all there is to know about IUIs and injectibles and IVF and PGD.

Shamefully, I have to admit that I don't even know how to change a diaper. I've only done it as an adult once, about seven years ago. Nevermind the fact that we're going to try to use cloth a lot at home and I really have no idea how to handle those. I'm going to give breastfeeding a go, but honestly? I have no idea how often a baby is supposed to be fed. I don't know the very basics of infant care.

And I feel so small and overwhelmed. As much as my family drives me batty at times, I hate that we don't have someone close that I can turn to.

How did those of you with children deal with this anxiety? Did making the transition from pregnancy to parents just happen naturally for you, or were there moments where you felt like this - that you have made a huge mistake in getting pregnant and that you're just not cut out for this parenting business?

What were the biggest mistakes you made at first that you wish you could do over?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

From Cold Spring to COLD

We spent the weekend up in Cold Spring, NY with a dear friend of ours and her husband. Had a great time, just traipsing around NY, and then drove into CT so we could say we'd been there (not realizing, of course, that we drove through it from the airport to her house) and to MA so he could say he's been there). We've got a personal mission to visit as many states as possible (and another, separate mission to do *cough*something*cough* in as many states as possible. No, I won't share the exact list, but in the last year we've managed 10 states, four countries and two federal districts ;)) Rest assured Jen, that the guest rooms sheets don't need to be burned...

So thus far, I've visited 39 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. Not bad, considering that before I was 20, I'd only hit 2 (Texas and Oklahoma).

So ones I haven't visited (11): Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Rhode Island.

Countries I've visited (in order of when I went there - with specific areas noted): Mexico (Monterrey and Mexico City), Canada (Montreal), The Netherlands (Amsterdam), France (Loire Valley and Paris), Germany (though only in the Frankfurt airport - so I'm not sure it counts, regardless of passport stamps), Sweden (Stockholm), United Kingdom (England and Northern Ireland), China (Shanghai), Ireland (basically the entire northern part of the country). Again, before 20, I'd only been to the U.S. and Mexico, so I'm slowly building this list.

We're going with a "travel" theme to the baby's room, and while at an antiques store up in Cold Spring, I picked up a sage and cream colored hot air balloon to hang from the nursery ceiling. We're picking out paint today for his room - and it's starting to come together.

My sister is throwing a baby shower for us this coming weekend, and I'm nervous as all get out. I'm touched by the gesture, but HATE being the center of attention. Patrick is bailing on me and is going to spend the day with his dad, since his mom and sister (flying in from Phoenix) are coming out to the shower too.

And with that, I'm off to physical therapy - the wee babe is bearing down on my pinched nerve in my back and I am well, lame - in many senses of the word these days.

Oh! A heat wave - it's going to be a high of SIX degrees on Thursday. Sheesh.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Cast aside.

This morning I took an hour long train into the city, then rushed to my desk to draft up triplicate copies of a medical release. A brisk walk in the cold (it was lower than 20 degrees) to another train, then a longer walk through the snow on the north side to meet with a new client.

I typically represent large publicly traded multi-national companies, and design the compensation and benefit structures on behalf of these companies that affect literally millions of people. And I'm paid quite handsomely for the work. Far more, in fact, than I'm likely worth.

This morning was different though.

My client used to have a normal life, married - with two young sons. He developed late onset schizophrenia and his life slowly started unravelling. He's been homeless now for the better part of fifteen years. His ex-wife had him declared dead after he'd disappeared for over ten years and she was told he'd been beaten to death in a mugging.

He's alive. Though even that seems a bit of a stretch of things to say. His face bears the scars of multiple physical attacks. Part of his forehead is caved in from blunt force trauma. He shrugs, giving the explanation "a fight over a place to sleep."

A local agency is now paying for him to stay at a "hotel." The overwhelming majority of the hotel's guests rent rooms by the hour. Only a floor or two is for overnighters.

I met with a member of the agency in the lobby and we went up to his room. The hallway floors were bloodstained, the acrid stench of stale urine infiltrated the air - suffocating. I could feel Julian moving strongly within me, I guess picking up on the elevated stress hormones flooding my body.

Inside his room, the mattress was bare and heavily stained. No pillows, no towels. A thick black sludge covered the bottom of the shower. Roaches crawled all over the walls and across the bed. A chili can with a tarnished spoon sat precariously on the ledge of the stripped bed. He had to eat it cold as there wasn't a way for him to heat it.

I'd laid my purse on the floor, and watched silently as a roach crawled inside it.

We talked briefly about what I was going to do in order to try to establish his identity. He honestly is so far gone that I'm not sure he'll remember who I am when I have to meet with him again next week.

His family has been contacted. His parents and siblings want nothing to do with him. They've effectively disowned him. Cast him aside. His oldest son visited with his ex-wife. It's definitely him - though a shell of a man that they used to know and love. They can't relate to him now. They don't know what to say. He doesn't remember them. He doesn't remember who he was "before" his given name and birthdate are figments of someone else's imagination.

He has brief moments of clarity - then it's all muddled again.

Everyone's forgotten him, it seems. It's easier to - it doesn't pain the soul as much as if they were faced with standing here with him instead of half a country away.

His name is George. And I know that for the rest of my life, I will never forget him. And I know that they haven't either. How could you? He was someone's son. Someone's husband, someone's father. He was a neighbor, a co-worker. He was a stranger passing on the street, and now he's invisible.

I am so lucky to have the life that I have. I need to do more to help other people, to somehow assuage this overwhelming guilt.

My life could've easily ended up like his did. My mother was on the streets for awhile, when dealing with her substance abuse issues. We lived in run-down apartments that weren't much better than the hotel I visited today. I'm not a stranger to roaches, and have had them crawl over my skinny 10 year old legs in the shower.

It embarasses me even now to talk about it. My sixth grade math teacher, Ms. Brundage bought me clothes. A church in town delivered food to us because we were too poor to even buy gasoline to get to the store to use our food stamps. But through others generosity I've always had a roof over my head. I've always believed I could get out of poverty.

I cried on the train ride back to the office. I'm not the type that cries often, it's not my nature. Since I've been pregnant, things resonate so much stronger with me. I cried for George, for his neighbors in the hotel. But I also cried for my son, who I've not met yet. I cried - hoping that he would never have to know that want - that desperation.

I know we all struggle with daily inconveniences, but tonight - as you lay your head down to sleep. Please, be thankful.

It could be so much worse.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I just saw Paula Dean making out with a butter sculpture of herself.

This evening I was going through some old pictures from my childhood, and I was struck with the realization that there is an actual PERSON separate from myself growing within me. Someone who will be here in just a few short months, and I'm so anxious to meet him. I wonder so much what he'll look like. We both have blue eyes (though Patrick's take on a rather greenish tint at times) and both of us had red hair as a child.

Me at a little shy of two years old, and a picture of Patrick and his father at about the same age.

We spent part of yesterday assembling the glider and ottoman for the nursery as well as the bassinet. I lost a bolt to the bassinet, so I'll have to get a replacement before we can finish it out. We also hit up Old Navy for their super gigantic clearance, and cleaned up on baby boy clothes for next winter. The kid already has so many clothes it's unreal - and that's just from us.

I'm so ready to meet him.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A long week, and it's not nearly over.

Sorry for not updating sooner. I'm doing o.k. - contractions have diminished a small amount, and never reached the threshold for mandatory visits to the hospital, so I've waited it out.

I went to a neurologist on Tuesday to discuss the seizure issue. He said it sounded to him as if I'm having "complex partial" seizures, though I have no idea what those are. He wants me to schedule an EEG and we'll make treatment decisions (if any are necessary) from that point. Thankfully he did say that most anti-convulsive medications are now safe to take in pregnancy (especially given that I'm beyond the first trimester).

I have an appointment with the perinatologist (no idea if that's spelled correctly, sorry) and my follow up ultrasound Wed. We're also having the kitties fixed that day. Poor babies, they're going to hate me. We were contemplating getting them declawed as well but decided to forego that after reading some horror stories about it - and instead have put Softpaws on them. They aren't staying on very well, but hopefully it will address our problem of the furniture and carpeting being destroyed.

Somehow in the last week, I managed to tweak my back a bit and when I walk I occasionally get shooting pains down my left leg. I previously was diagnosed with a ruptured L4 vertebrae, and my L3 and L5 are bulging so the doctor said that whatever I've done is going to just get worse as the baby gets bigger. I also have to now find time for physical therapy. Fun.

And apparently - it seems I have some sort of infection in my right breast. It's hot to touch and is red and splotchy. And honestly, it feels like someone is shoving needless through my nipple into the underlying tissue and the pain is radiating toward my armpit. Is it possible to develop mastitis during pregnancy?

Last night we went to the Stars/Blawkhawks game and I got us tickets directly on the ice. Patrick was in heaven, as we ended up sitting directly next to the press photographers. We had a great time out - and the realization struck me as we were leaving the arena that we don't have much time left like this - with just the two of us.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Yesterday evening I spent four hours laying on the couch balled up in pain timing my contractions. They were stronger and more painful than any Braxton-Hicks contractions I'd ever had before.

We were out running errands during the day (including getting a new washer and dryer, picking paint colors for the kitchen, etc.) and as we walked into Lowe's a contraction hit that stole my breath and made me stop in my tracks in the middle of the parking lot. It hurt so badly I couldn't talk or walk or move. By about five o'clock, I'd had about another 2-3 per hour so I called the midwives office.

She suggested that I lay on my left side for an hour and drink a few glasses of water. At some point, I nodded off and Patrick finally woke me to go to sleep around 11.

As much as I dislike being pregnant at times, as a practical matter it's simply not time for him to be here yet. I'm just now starting my 25th week.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

A little concerned.

Over the holidays, I got a message from a perinatologist's office regarding setting up an appointment to discuss my seizures. Those of you who have known me from my previous blog have likely heard about them before. The midwife was concerned that it may not be safe to let me labor naturally, so I wasn't terribly surprised that I had a call from the perinatologists office. I don't really want to have a major seizure in the middle of labor. No sense in potentially endangering myself or Julian.

So I was a little surprised when the woman said that they were calling to schedule a Level II ultrasound. Apparently Julian's cerebellum is in the top 95% size-wise for estimated gestational age (utilizing early ultrasound dating - using my LMP it's perfectly normal). I'm a nervous wreck at the moment, worried about him. And worried about me. I had a mild seizure this morning on the train on the way to work, and I'm having to face the fact that I can't continue to do this alone - pretending that I'm fine when I'm not.

For those of you who don't know the backstory - here it is, in greatly summarized form.

In my last year of law school, I was driving to grab a bite to eat when I had a seizure - and blacked out. I hit my head against the steering wheel, and thankfully during the 'fit' I managed to slam the gear shift into park and halfway jumped a curb. Somehow during the madness, I bit my tongue rather forcefully - almost straight through it - and my mouth quickly filled with blood. Thankfully I was on a side street and I managed to coast slowly into a gas station where I promptly fainted. I got a nice sized bump on the head from the fainting spell, but was otherwise o.k. When I finally made my way back to school, I walked into my ex-husband's office and told him what happened. He wanted to go to the hospital immediately, but I begged him not to take me. We went home instead, and I promptly fell asleep for about fifteen straight hours. I went to a cardiologist the next day - and was immediately whisked from specialist to specialist. The next few days were a blur of EKGs, EEGs, x-rays, MRIs, and a great deal of bloodletting to check on blood sugar imbalances, hormones, etc.

During the doctor's visits I realized that I've always had these little "spells." Growing up, my great-grandmother said someone was walking over my grave when I did it. Sometimes I could feel them coming on, but not always. When I did, they were preceded by a tightness and pain in my chest and back - and a feeling of pressure as if I was being crushed. My vision always tunneled immediately before it happened and the sounds of life around me grew strangely quiet. I also had a completely indescribable feeling of great anxiety that something bad about to happen, but I could never place what it was, and words can't really do it justice.

Afterward, there was always a peculiar metal taste in my mouth - like sucking on a spoon - and an overwhelming desire to immediately go to sleep. Sometimes - when they are really bad - my arms flail out (sometimes one, sometimes both) and I will involuntarily strike out at someone. It can be quite embarrassing at times - sort of a physical Tourettes. My back clenches up and people who have seen it say that it looks like I think I'm falling and am trying to instinctively brace myself. Milder versions cause me to just space out a little. I can hear people talking around me - but their voices sound very far away - like the muffled conversations of people living in the next apartment drifting through air vents when I was in college.

As I have had previous brain surgery (when I was two months old) to remove a cyst/tumor, the doctors thought it may be either a recurring tumor or possibly scarring of the brain tissue. During one of the trips to the neurologist, after yet another brain scan, the doctor told us that in all likelihood that it was epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. I sobbed. It was the one - and only time that I've ever seen my ex cry. No swimming, no bathing or showering without the door open and someone in the bathroom with me, no driving, no cooking, no being alone - period - under any circumstances for nearly four and a half months. I couldn't do anything.

I was poked and prodded and sent to every specialist they could find. They ruled out epilepsy and we rejoiced. They ruled out m.s. and we cried with joy. But they never found out what the problem is. Stress, exhaustion and alcohol seemed to exacerbate the problem. Of course, since I was studying for the bar at the time, two of the three were a little difficult to control (and in fact I had a 'medium' seizure during the middle of the exam). I have never had another grand mal seizure like the one that finally spurned me to go to the doctor. I have had hundreds of other - small ones - but have accepted it as part of who I am. They seem to cluster at a time - and it's been a while since I've had one. I was told that I could slowly start incorporating my "regular" life back into my schedule.

I've never been medicated for them. After contrast MRIs, brain scans, EKGs, EEGs, etc. the neurologist that I was seeing couldn't figure out what was causing them. He intimated that perhaps I was just making them up. I was so defeated that I honestly started worrying that I was - somehow unconsciously manifesting these symptoms without a legitimate cause. I refused to go back to see the doctor, saying that I was obviously fine since they couldn't figure out what was wrong.

I have a neurologist appointment at one of the best research hospitals in the country next Tuesday. It's amazing how easy it is to get in to see a doctor when you say "seizure" and "pregnancy" in the same sentence. I have the Level II ultrasound a week and a day later.

I'm just trying to cross my fingers and hope everything's going to be o.k.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

No one likes it...

Over the holiday break, when visiting with my dad's family my sister said that everyone had decided that they were going to call the baby "J.R." I bristled, and said "his name will be Julian, not J.R." My stepmother chimed in and said "well, it's not a very 'Texan' name." My sister retorted "well, everyone in the family has been talking about it and no one likes it." That stung. Badly. Granted, my sister is only 17 - but she should have more tact than that. And I think what upset me the most was that I believed her that everyone had been talking about it behind my back and had passed judgment on our choice.

Tears started welling up in my eyes and I angrily blurted out "well, Patrick and I do, and that's all that matters."

My son will not be named Cody or Hunter or Trayson or any of the names of my sisters friends children (and no offense to you if your son or someone you love is named any of those names. They're all lovely - but they're not our style and not what we've picked).

Now, my sisters have somewhat unusual names. I don't think Julian is a particularly odd choice. A little uncommon but not anything that is outlandish. They intimated that it was too feminine sounding... too "girly."

Add to that at Christmas my sister's close friend who has two little girls under two have taken to calling my parents grandma and grandpa. She's a sweet girl, and has been around the family a lot - but um, those children are not my parents grandchildren. They're family friends. It's different. I said something about how exciting it will be next year to have the first grandbaby in the family and my stepmother chimed in - and said - oh the first grandson at least. We already have the other two...

Perhaps it's just pregnancy hormones that have me all riled up. Perhaps I should just suck it up, but it's been over a week later and I'm still reeling from the comments. Am I out of line being hurt by this? Please be honest with me. For those of you with children - did you ever deal with family members who blurted out such hurtful comments?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A new year.

Last New Years Eve, Patrick and I walked in the freezing cold and ate sushi at Hama Matsu in Andersonville. Then we traipsed home in the blustery wind and had french martinis and played scrabble until I fell asleep around 10:30 when he carried me to bed. If I remember correctly - the next day, I was headed back to Kansas City and neither of us wanted to particularly face the morning.

This was right before we left his apartment for dinner last year.

This year, I fell asleep even earlier - though in my defense we've both been fighting a horrific cold. Patrick made dinner (delicious spicy burritos) and we watched the snow fall from the windows in our new home. I could feel our son kicking inside me, and I fell asleep in his arms as his wife. [We'll ignore for the moment the fact that he had to go sleep on the couch at about 4 a.m. because he couldn't make me stop snoring. Pregnancy has some rather unattractive symptoms for me - what can I say?] I woke up this morning to the yard dusted with a few inches of gorgeous snow. The cats curled up at my feet, and Patrick sleepily stumbled up the stairs to go back to sleep beside me for a few more hours.

The view of snow covered trees last night from our second floor back deck taken with Patrick's new fancy-pants Nikon D3.

Granted, there was no champagne and fireworks - no glittering party dresses and caviar to ring in the new year. But honestly, this was the best beginning that I could have ever hoped for. I certainly wouldn't have believed that this would be my life a year ago. But I am so thankful that it is... er, minus this ridiculous cold at least.

I'm also very thankful that many of you have followed me here from my previous blogging experience and are able to share this new chapter of my life with me. If you're a lurker, welcome too - I hope you'll feel free to join in and let us get to know you.

Whatever it is you're wishing for this year, I hope you find it. May your homes and lives be blessed with love, laughter, health and good fortune in the coming year.

(Links to our complete photostreams are in the right menu bar)