Thursday, June 2, 2016

Car Shopping When You Don't Know How Many Seats You Need

I have a Nissan Maxima with 213,000 miles on it.  I love that car, its sunroof, its leather seats, its peppy engine.  Two weeks ago it started idling funny, as cars with lots of miles on them do.  The mechanic is starting to seem skeptical when I drop it off to fix it.  

The Oregon coast is one of my favorite places in the world.  In the summer, we pack the kids up and stay at various coastal spots all the way down to northern California.  We explore the beaches and the lighthouses and attempt to gain massive amounts of weight as we eat our way along.  Then I entertain my husband the whole way home with my petty and childish whining about wanting to live on said Oregon coast.  He's definitely lucky to have me.

Combined with the funny noises, the high mileage, and the impending road trip I would really hate to try to reschedule, we decided it was time to shop for a new vehicle.  New vehicle purchasing always seems to stress Jerry and I out.  This time it's worse.  This time it feels irritatingly fraught with tension as we attempt to answer the age-old question, "How many children are we going to have?"  

I think every couple goes through this to some degree.  Money, time, so many factors to consider when you are attempting to plan a pregnancy.  But we've been trying to get pregnant for a few months shy of two years.  We've seen the doctors, the specialists, the specimen cups, the blood draws.  Husband got a day surgery, and I got an HSG.  I've read research papers, printed them off and highlighted the sections that apply to me and my used-up, battle-scarred uterus.  I've cried in the bathroom at work when I had myself convinced I was pregnant, only to find out that the pregnancy was imaginary.  I'm trying not to do that anymore.  The crying or the imagining.  

We try to picture our lives with our two living children.  And it's not a bad picture.  One of each, and there are so many people who are forced to get along with less.  I'll have to be drunk to go through the bins of baby paraphernalia piled up in the basement and decide what to keep and what to get rid of.  But shouldn't everyone be slightly inebriated for that exercise?  I can take them on more vacations.  I love vacations.  I can be there for each of them without feeling spread too thin constantly. 

And... I can keep the two kids in a normal sedan car.  Unless, of course, I have another baby.  I think the uncertainty of it all gets to me sometimes.  There are so many life decisions that hinge on whether or not we have another baby.  Like whether I should go to nurse practitioner school, and when.  Or whether we should buy a car with 3rd row seating.  

"How many kids do you have?" the salesman asks us politely.  I feel the familiar clench of my insides as I answer "Two."  I never pictured myself in a minivan or an SUV.   Mostly I picture myself in something small and red with a manual transmission.  So I already feel like I am compromising.  If I knew I would have another child, the matter would be simple.  But it's never really simple, is it?  

I clamber into the back row of an SUV that costs more than my education did.  I picture where I would put the imaginary baby's car seat,  along with my son and daughter.  I test whether or not I could hand the imaginary baby a toy from the passenger seat as we drive along.  I can tell my husband is trying to picture what cargo room would be left after the imaginary baby's car seat is installed.  

I move on to the cheaper options.  No need to go deeply into debt and feel regret when all the seats aren't filled in a couple of years.  My husband maintains that the extra space would be useful, no matter who might or might not show up.  I nod and say nothing.  He loves cargo room so he doesn't really understand.  To him, it wouldn't be an empty seat, but for me there's a chance that extra seating would always be there, mocking me and my imaginary baby.  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Other Side of the Wall

Its 0433 on the morning of April 10, 2016.  Today is Matthew's 10th birthday.  Today, nearly to the minute, marks ten years since his brutal entrance into the world and my entrance into parenthood.  Ten years feels like such a long time.  It's long enough to move a few times.  Long enough to have more children.  Long enough to acquire new lines around my eyes.  

Yet, a scent or a thought can bring my reality screeching back to those moments ten years ago, and it's like no time has passed at all.  

One of the great ironies of my life these days is that I am a nurse in the hospital where Matthew was born.  I am literally sitting on the other side of the wall from the operating room.  Where he took his first breath.  Where my first c-section incision was hastily made.  Sometimes I can hear babies cry as they take their first lungfuls of air in that OR.  Thankfully, tonight it's quiet.  

It's not where I thought I'd end up working, but here I am.  There are times, like tonight, when the divide that separates me from that 22-year-old girl and her baby seems as thin as a veil.  Like it's a curtain I could sweep aside.  If I wanted to I could step across the last ten years and talk to them.  What would I even say to that girl?  Have I learned anything in the past years that she didn't already learn in the most tragic, brutal, bloody, horrible way on this night? 

I don't feel like crying tonight.  I'm not really sure how I feel.  I know that 22-year-old girl hoped that ten years down the road she wouldn't feel like a huge chunk was missing.  But she probably could've guessed that the missing chunks are permanent.   Actually I know what I would say to them.  I'd tell them both how much I miss them.  It never goes away.  I miss her.  I miss that stupid, ignorant, optimistic person.  I miss her un-scarred heart.  Frankly I miss her un-scarred uterus.  And him?  I miss him physically, every moment, always. 

I have one hastily taken video of Matthew in the NICU.  In it I am narrating and joking, talking to him the entire time about someday when he is bigger.  I watch it once every couple of years.  I listen to myself babbling.  "Be quiet," I think to myself.  "Just be quiet and watch him."  Then I hit the mute button so I can't hear my falsely cheerful voice and the beeping of the machines that are keeping him alive.  It's the only way I can really see him. 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Let's Blame the Holidays, Shall We?

I think the potent swirling vortex of stressors in my life is eating at me lately.  It seems like all the negativity is stacking up around me and I'm having trouble finding my way out.  This is a time of year when we are supposed to be full of Holiday gratitude and cheer, able to bounce from one silly gathering to another.  I mostly just want to sleep.

We are pushing 18 months of TTC.  I have made absolutely zero appointments to attempt to decipher why the timeline is so off this time.  A year ago, Jer was diagnosed with a varicocele.  We had been trying for a few months, but didn't overthink the urologist's casual statements about potential infertility.  Because we've gotten pregnant a few times before this.  So we likely know what is happening here.  But I'm terrified.  And resentful of the plethora of 24-year old nurses at work with un-scarred uteri who robustly debate when the "perfect" time to have a baby is at 3 in the morning when I can't escape.  I mean, "We don't know if we should redecorate our house or backpack through Europe before we become parents."  But I digress.  So we probably know what is happening here.  And it could be reversible.  Or it could be me.  It's not like 3 previous csections is a good warm-up for a fourth pregnancy.  I'm terrified that a doctor will look at us and tell us to stop trying.  I'm jealous of my infertile sister-in-law who has options and a fresh uterus.  Oh, and doesn't work so will probably be a better parent right out of the gate.  I'm angry.  I've always had trouble staying pregnant.  It just feels so unfair that now we have trouble getting pregnant. 

Work certainly isn't helping.  The commute is dragging on me.  I hate the constant juggle of work schedules and childcare.  I feel like I'm always there instead of at home with my kiddos.  I'm tired of night shifts.  And there's been a particularly depressing batch of patients lately.  Suicides.  Murders.  Horrifying terminal diagnoses.  It weighs on you to sit with a patient for hours who doesn't know her husband is dead.  It weighs on you to care for a 34 year old woman and her husband while they wait to find out if she has a brain tumor.  I have a job that weighs on me, and sometimes I can't leave those things behind when I clock out at the end of the shift.  The other day I saw a job listing on the bulletin board at the post office for a post office desk clerk.  Part time, flexible hours, good benefits.  The job paid 4 dollars an hour less than my current wage.  I mean...I deal with very sad and disgusting things for a living.  If I didn't have student loan debt, I'd be tempted to trade jobs.  

We have been house-hunting and I really want to buy.  We are in great financial shape to buy, which is such a victory for us.  But.  We live in a tiny, isolated town that is 100% dependent on a non-renewable resource that is currently under great political debate.  If the jobs go, the entire town dies.  The job my husband has could not be replaced with anything within probably 500 to 1000 miles of the area we live in now.  If it could be replaced at all.  It's intimidating to be trying to buy a house for the first time, when the town may be gone in 5 years.  Or less.  I have barely gotten used to small-town living so I think the odds of us wanting to live in a ghost town are pretty low.  Not to mention the homes in the area would be worth nothing so we couldn't sell if we tried.  So...we wait and see what happens over the next few months.  

My grown-up way of coping with this?  Besides over-eating and worrying, of course.  I booked a trip to Vegas.  Jerry and I have never taken a trip together without the kiddos.  I may need medicated to actually get on the plane, but whatever it takes, right?  Kiddos are staying with grandparents.  And I'm told Vegas has alcohol.  We leave in three weeks.  

I have six days off for Christmas.  After the flurry of ballet recitals, Christmas programs, holiday shopping and (often unnecessary) gatherings, I am really looking forward to cozying up with my little family.  In my natural element, I'm a bit of a grinch who probably wouldn't bother with most of the holiday decorating and baking and wrapping.  But the kiddos...they are so excited.  And at 8, Roo loves the repetition of the holiday traditions we've started.  T-Bug just loves all the Christmas stuff that's going on right now.  I'm so blessed to have them.  I'm so blessed to be happily married.

I hope you all have a lovely Holiday season, where the joys triumph over the struggles.  

Monday, August 24, 2015

Testing, Testing

Is there an Internet record for unintended hiatus time?  I've got to be in the top 10 by now at least.  Life gets so busy and I mostly read blogs from my mobile app, which is annoying to comment from.  I end up never commenting, even when I intend to log on from my computer and comment later.  I never comment, but I promise I read.

We are still here, plugging along, the four of us.  Roo starts 2nd grade in a couple of days and Tanner is 2.  They both rock and I can't get enough of them. 

I suppose I should throw in that we are TTC.  It's not big news, trust me.  We've been TTC for a year.  Cycle 12.  Or, as I tell my friends or friendly coworkers when they ask, "a few months."  I hate talking about it with anyone.  I already feel like an uneducated idiot every time I think about it without some well-meaning person asking me how many csections I've had.   By the time I recount my complicated obstetrical history I can tell the person on the other end is convinced I'm an idiot.  Worse, a greedy idiot.  With two living children.  Recently I was asked, "Would it really be the worst thing if you ended up with just the two kids?"  And yes.  Believe me we've done our best to convince ourselves that two kids is a fine number. And we know how many people never get to have 2 children, and it isn't often that we forget to be grateful for them. But we just don't feel done yet.  We certainly know we are taking a risk.  Thank you, random question-asker.  

Jerry and I got married 6 months ago.  This July was 10 years together for us, and since we got engaged a year in we were definitely overdue.  I think it took me a few years to figure out that there was never going to be a convenient time to have a wedding.  After Matthew died, we had Roo with no time in between for a non-pregnant, emotionally stable wedding.  Then I wanted to finish nursing school, and Tanner came along right after graduation.  My parents also had a gory divorce when Roo was a few months old, and I found myself not believing much in marriage for awhile.    I have called him my husband to others for so long, I never realized how many people didn't know that we weren't married.  So yeah.  We took the kiddos, our families, and a few friends and went to Las Vegas.  I had a fun little wedding weekend topped off with a white dress, and a 20-minute ceremony.  It was a great time (although if I had it to do over again, I would have left at least 50% of my extended family members at home), and we are happy.  And no, we don't feel any different.  We've been married for a very long time.  We just never got around to celebrating it.  

Other than that, I don't know what else to include in this catch-up post.  We live in the same townhouse (currently house shopping).   I have the same job on the Med/Surg floor, and I just quit my weekend ER job a few weeks ago.  I lasted two years there, and I cannot for the life of me figure out how.  It was my first job out of nursing school and it was really terrible.  Then when I added my Med/Surg job in, I just kept going back to my old job one weekend a month.  The extra money was nice, the extra time away from my family was not.  I mostly love the job I'm at now, but I sometimes resent the commute.  I am also transitioning from part-time to full-time  so I've been feeling stressed and overwhelmed.  

As always, I would really like to post more often.  I miss blogging.  I miss the way it helps me unravel the tangle of thoughts that accumulate in my head sometimes.  Hopefully, now that I've actually logged in and "broken the ice" again, I will increase with both blogging and commenting.

Friday, April 25, 2014

8 Years

8 years ago, in the early morning hours of April 25, 2006, my life changed irrevocably with the words, "There's nothing more we can do."  I had watched them working on my son, praying for a miracle that I believed would come.  Jerry understood before I did, and tears began to stream down his face.  I grabbed his hand and shook my head.  I started to shake uncontrollably.  I said, "No. Not yet.  Hold on."  I don't know who I was talking to.  Jerry?  Myself?  My son?  The God that I believed was just and good up until that defining moment?  It doesn't matter because no one could save him.

Statistics vary, but the survival rate for 27 weekers that are 2 weeks old is something like 95%.  We are the 5%.  We are the worst-case scenario.  The truth is I will never truly know how many miracles I have been given in my life.  My two beautiful living, breathing children.  My husband.  But beyond that--I'll never know how many car accidents were averted by delaying us for five minutes.  How many potential hazards in our bodies have healed themselves. How many times God has intervened on our behalves. I believe in miracles, and I know I've been given at least a few in my life so far.  Hopefully, I will live to see a few more.

Today, I can't help but dwell on the miracle we didn't get.  Today, the life we should have had plays on an endless reel in my head.   There is no stopping it.  After 8 years I don't even try to stop it anymore.  

Matthew...Your family loves you and we think of you always. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy New Year--4 Months Late

Hello again friends!  Life has been so busy, I've been reduced to reading blogs on my phone, which doesn't encourage commenting or adding posts of my own.  This is my first post in 2014; I just discarded the New Year's post I had languishing in my drafts folder.  I think we're past that now.  Things have been crazy, of course.  The more time that passes, the harder it becomes to log in and do a quick update.  The updates aren't that quick after a couple of months fly by, and I honestly have no idea where to start or what to cover.  Still, I'll do my best. 
  • How is everyone?  I've been reading, but not commenting much.  I've come to the conclusion that something really gets taken away from the whole blogging experience when the interaction is lost.  I miss commenting!  Hopefully after I finally get this post up and running, I'll have time to drop by a few places and say hello.
  • ...It's April.  I hate April.  I don't know why it insists on coming around every single year.  I wish I could say I'm better at it than I used to be.  I'm not.  I wish I was able to celebrate his birthday, at least.  Instead, over the last few years we have been reduced to just surviving the month.  Just getting through the days.  Around this time of year, I am just surviving.  Not really living.  Not really enjoying my life.  
  • Our little guy turned 1 on March 18th!  No infants around here any more!  I like to squeeze him until he laughs and say, "Baby refill!" but technically I can't say that now.  My little dude has never spent a single second of life considering himself a baby.  He is a force of nature.  He is everywhere.  I think I say this about every stage, but I am particularly loving this one.  The same can likely not be said for Roo...he is constantly up in her grill.  He follows her endlessly and is starting to really get in the way when it comes to her elaborate games.  She will be trying to create a game using every doll and stuffed animal and trinket she owns.  He will lurch in like a drunken sailor and demolish everything in his path.  It must be frustrating for her, but I continue to be amazed at her tolerance.  She adores him and makes him laugh louder than anyone.  It is such an unexpected gift to watch the sibling love between them. 
  • Roo is finishing up her last quarter of Kindergarten.  I am definitely ready for summer!  She seems to like school most of the time.  She is a little perfectionist and sometimes needs extra support when it comes to her schoolwork.  She gets frustrated when she doesn't get something perfect the first time and needs to be reminded not to be hard on herself.  I'm told she gets this from me.  Uh-oh. 
  • Speaking of "Baby refills" I am in full-on worry-mode when it comes to the subject of the Imaginary Future Baby.  My heart hurts so much when it comes to this topic, you guys.  I cannot begin to cover it in a bullet-pointed post, but I am really struggling over this right now.  It hurts when you have a child missing from your family.  It hurts when you know your body isn't going to produce the babies you wish it would.  It hurts to feel like you aren't done having kids, but you are terrified to try again.  Ugh.  To be continued.  If there's anything I blab about consistently here, it is babies.  
  • I made a job switch.  Well, added a job anyway.  The Option B hospital hired me to the Medical/Surgical floor.  I am just finishing up my second week of orientation, and I'm getting my butt kicked.  There is so much to learn, the commute is awful, I'm exhausted, and I miss my kiddos.  I think I could love the job eventually, but it's hard to tell from here.  Between living in the middle-of-nowhere, my family-building challenges, and my struggles to build a career I feel really overwhelmed some days.  I actually kept my old job in the tiny rural ER 2.5 hours away and have switched to a per diem position.  I'm planning on continuing to do one weekend a month down there in the hopes that I will acquire the experience between my two jobs to get the job I really want close to home in a few years.

  • Did I mention that the Option B hospital is also the hospital where Matthew was born 8 years ago?  Nope, I see that I didn't bring that up in my last whiny job post.  Well...I am now employed in the hospital where my firstborn's premature birth left an indelible mark on my heart.  My first night of work, I floated over to the OB unit to watch a couple of babies whose mamas needed rest.  I stayed away from the delivery rooms.  One of the nurses I recognized from both Matthew's birth and T's premature labor scare last year was on shift.  She stared at me for a minute as though she was trying to place me.  Then she said, "Are you from here?"  I said "No" and left it at that.  I know I'll probably have to fess up eventually, but for the moment, it's April and I just want to get through.  I knew that conversation was beyond what I could handle for the moment.  The nurse continues to be friendly when I see her, but I know she is trying to place where she knows me from still.  When I walked back into that hospital last year, she knew who I was immediately from my basic verbal history over the phone.  She and I talked a lot that night about what happened all those years ago.  Every nurse, doctor, health care worker inevitably has cases and patients who mark them for life.  Situations that you never forget.  It was clear to me that I was one of those cases for her.  The only reason she cannot place me is because she is seeing me as a nurse and not a patient now.  Such a small, crazy world.  There was a time I left that hospital and never thought I'd return.  Now I work there.  I don't always know how I feel about that.  
  • I'm still taking classes towards my BSN.  I've slowed the schedule down so much that I'll likely finish about 2025, but it still feels pretty busy to me.  Right now I have 3 weeks left of class before I take my summer vacation.  I really didn't want to be bogged down with school work when it's Roo's first official summer break.  We have some serious summer plans in the works and I don't know which of us is more excited.  
  • I hope everyone had a great Easter!  Jerry, the kiddos, and I drove 500 miles to spend the holiday back in our hometown.  It was lovely to see people and catch-up with old friends.  We still miss living there so much.  Life can take some crazy twists and turns so it's good to sort of touch base with people who knew you when you were an awkward 14 year old.