Monday, February 27, 2012

Daycare Creeper

My Kiddo started going to a new daycare two weeks ago.  The old daycare kept trying to "bump her up" in levels before I felt she was entirely ready and I didn't particularly like the teacher that was coming up next.  So when my (and my daughter's) favorite teacher left to start her own branch of the daycare, I was all over it. 

The transition has gone pretty well.  Until today.  And it's not the Kiddo, it's me.  I arrived to pick her up.  We said goodbye to the teachers and headed out of the classroom into the main lobby area where the kids' cubbies and winter things are kept.  As I came back into the room with Kiddo, I noticed a strange man standing by the front door.  I didn't recognize him as another parent, but I busied myself gathering the kid paraphernalia.  I looked up again because the bell on the front door rang.  The man was gone.  

Kiddo and I exited the front door and walked to the car.  I see the man on the lawn of the daycare near the curb where the cars park.  He bent over and picked up an aluminum can.  Examined it for a moment, saw me staring at him, dropped the can and walked quickly away.  He walked around the corner and out of sight.  I was a little suspicious at this point.  I buckled up the Kiddo and we drove off.  As soon as my car turned the corner, I could see the man--peaking into the windows of someone's house.  

I immediately called the daycare and the police.  This absolutely terrifies me.  The man had the look of a creeper.  I could tell instantly that he didn't belong in the lobby of the daycare.  He was way too bundled up for the weather today; it was warm and he had a huge green parka and hood.  He didn't like me making eye contact with him.  He was muttering to himself outside the daycare and full-on jabbering to himself when he was peering in windows.  He was really thin and I just didn't like the vibe I got from him.  He reminded me uncomfortably of some of  the patients I saw at my state psychiatric hospital rotations last week.

Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but I don't think so.  The new daycare does not have a security system on the front door.  There is a string of bells hooked to the door, but people enter and leave the main lobby area without necessarily being noticed or acknowledged.  Immediately to the right of the front door lies the toddler room.  It has a baby gate up, but the little ones like to toddle up to it and peer out.  A person could grab one of those little cherubs and hit the door so fast no one would even get a look at him.  My daughter is in a larger room with several teachers that is further away from the front door.  But still...

As of right now, I'm keeping her out of daycare tomorrow and sending her to my mom until I can clarify with the director what protections are in place for these kids.  It really scared the shit out of me.  Looking into that man's eyes...I didn't like it any more than he did.  It's part of my job to read people, and on the forensic unit at the psych hospital I was frighteningly good at guessing the patients' crimes--pedophile, murderer, etc.  My friends were taking bets on how many I could guess correctly.  On the locked unit of a psych hospital?  Good times.  On the front steps of my daughter's daycare?  Not so much.  

Security wasn't really an issue at the last daycare so I never really placed a whole lot of thought into it. The front door had a keypad system, though it would often malfunction and during those times the door was left unlocked.  The layout of the building also forced visitors to walk by several offices with windows and doors looking into the hallway.  I can never remember feeling frightened by the security.  I was really glad to get out of the old daycare because of the teacher situation (we had been there for three years), but in light of the security scare I'm wondering if I made the right choice.  Should I move her again?  I really don't want to do that to her, but I need her to be safe.

I guess I'll see what the director has to say tomorrow.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Inevitable March to April's almost March.  Then April.  Fricking April.  I am so looking forward to being done with nursing school, but every year at this time, I start to feel...just bad.  I can't even really explain in any concrete way how bad it is.  I miss my little boy.  I don't want to add another year to the tally of years that he has been gone.  I can't stop my mind and my heart from seeing things as they might have been.  Seeing my daughter not growing up with the ghost of a big brother but with a real live big brother who teases her and plays with her and plots against the Mom-and-Dad-Regime with her.  Seeing Jerry and I as we once were--people who said things like "Everything will be ok" and actually believed what they were saying.  I don't know how I can walk around like a regular person.  I don't know how every person I meet can't see how wounded I am.  How completely shredded my insides are.  This April, he would be six years old.  It hurts to even type that.  On bad days, grief turns into this overbearing monster that systematically strips everything from me.  Takes it all.  On bad days, I live in fear.  Had a couple of bad days lately. 

April is a potent month.  It contains both the birth of my son and his death fifteen days later.  His birthday...oh how I wish it was a joyful day.  I wish I could look back on it and say, "That was such a perfect day, the day he was born."  Instead it was like the three of us were ejected into this vortex of sheer chaos.  Chaos that swallowed us whole and spun us around until we couldn't see which way was out, and then spit us out in the middle of nowhere.  I look back on those days with him, and I can see him.  Just him, without all the tubing and machines.  But I can't feel just joy.  There is so much mixed in with it that it is never as simple as looking back and remembering a sweet moment. When people see Matthew's pictures, almost inevitably the first comment they make is about the tubes and wires and machines surrounding him.  I never see the tubes and wires.  I wish I could do that with my memories.  See through the bullshit and the painful things so that I could just see joy.  It has been 6 years.  And I have never completely gotten used to it.  I honestly don't think I ever will.  I don't think there will ever be a day when I feel like it's an old wound that doesn't really hurt anymore.  Apparently I've been laboring on all this time under false pretenses.  I mean, when I lost him I thought it would get better.  I would've thought that six years later, it would at least be reduced to a dull throb.  But my grief is still so sharp that sometimes I stop and examine it in sheer awe and disbelief.  

I actually logged on intending to talk about something completely different.  And this is what came out...whatever I guess.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Perpetual Nursing Student

I literally feel like nursing school is never going to end.  I feel like I am swimming in the murky depths somewhere in the middle, with no end in sight.  I am going to be perpetually playing continuous Disney movies for my daughter while I flail away at attempting to catch up.  And then just give up and watch the damn tv too. 

This could, of course, be directly related to the Winter Term Curse of previous years.  It hasn't been exceptionally bad or anything, but I feel like I am struggling in the clinical environment.  I can't muster much enthusiasm for the boring assignments and days spent rushing around trying to locate a real nurse to sign out meds with me.  I am feeling really irritated when a couple other students in my clinical group seem to get opportunities for procedures and extra rotations in departments I have barely been able to get to.  Frankly, there are several students that I am just plain sick of. 

And at home.  I just can't seem to get the house clean.  I can't seem to get the study time that I need in.  I can't get to the gym.  My daughter?  She doesn't get 1/4 of the quality time with me that she deserves.  Some nights I go to lay down "just for a second" and I am asleep before I can even summon the energy to get up and wash my make-up off.  Twice in the last week I have forgotten to feed the dogs dinner.

I haven't had the greatest overall "luck" in my life.  I feel like something is going to prevent me from actually graduating.  I feel like I will perpetually be in nursing school or, even worse, be kicked out of nursing school due to some as yet unforeseen complication or mistake.  Dear God, I just want to be finished.  With degree in hand. 

I have another paper to write today.  Literally have to write it out today because it is due Monday and I have several other classes and assignments that need to be done tomorrow.  Monday, it's class all day and Tuesday I leave for a rotation at the state mental hospital.  Where I plan to be very careful to act normal, lest I be mistaken for a patient.  I have to leave Kiddo with my mom for two nights, which doesn't really ever happen so I'm not thrilled to be leaving her.  And she started a new daycare on Friday, so I'm tense about how the transition is going to go for her. 

I know I haven't updated on the Financial Clean-Up in awhile.  Let's just say it is coming along much more slowly than I would have liked it to.  Yesterday, I went on an unnecessary shopping trip and spent money on unnecessary things.  Dave Ramsey would not have liked it.  Dave Ramsey probably doesn't understand the power of cute pink little girl toys.  Still, we are plugging along.  I am generally on track to have all bad debts paid off by September.  This will leave the student loan debt, housing, and saving for the down payment on a real house.  If you are familiar with the Financial Peace University, then I would tell you that the "Debt Snowball" concept is kind of difficult right now.  I am basically just throwing chunks of money at the debts right now whenever a little extra money shows up.  I haven't really started making regular payments on any of them.  I am currently working on a smaller debt that is actually newer than most of the ones we really need to work on.  These people are getting their money first because they are ruder, pushier, and scarier than the other debts.  So they are getting paid while the older, more polite debts continue to wait.  Still, I am aiming to have this one paid off by the end of the month so that I can start making regular payments on another one next month. 

Alright, I do believe I have run out of distractions.  Need to transfer this brilliance to an actual assignment now.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Time to Let Go

Have you ever been guilty of hanging on to someone that you should've let go of a long time ago?  It's time for me to let someone go.  There's this "friend."  I haven't wanted her around in, I don't know how long.  I've known she needs to go.  I've known she is nothing but a negative pull on my life.  Mistakenly, I've thought she could see past herself and be happy for another human being.  I don't know why I've been holding on.  A piece of my old self, I guess.  Someone who knew me before I lost a child.  As I've progressed through my grief journey I've learned that there are, unfortunately, people who have to be cut out or have chosen to cut themselves out.  And it's sad.  It's hard.  No one wants to feel like there are people out there who don't wish them well.  No one wants to "lose" an old friend.  But in this case, the truth is she's been gone for awhile.  I can't carry it around anymore.  I can't wish she could find it in her heart to be happy for me anymore.  And carrying around this sadness is hurting me.  I have enough to carry.  I have enough to survive.  I do have people who love me, care about me, hope that my family and I are happy and healthy.

I realize this post sounds a little strange and cryptic.  That's not the intention.  I just want to be free of a piece of sadness and hurt that's been weighing me down.  So today's the day.


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Since I'm Ranting....

Am I the only one who thinks it is absolutely ridiculous the way the media is crucifying the Duggar family's decision to hold a memorial for their daughter and pass out pictures taken by Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep?  I know.  They have 19 kids.  And counting.  To someone like me, having 19 kids is a crazy notion; it seems greedy to me in a way.  But seriously.  They lost a child.  Leave them be and let them grieve.  Let them honor their daughter the way they choose.  Why should the number of children they already have make the life of the child they lost less valuable?  The answer is:  it shouldn't.  I think the ongoing argument over whether they should continue to have children is another issue (and I fall on the "No" side of that, FYI).  They are still allowed to be saddened by their loss.  I just don't think it's valid to be like, "Hey, who cares?  You have 19 more at home."  At the end of the day, the way they choose to live is NONE OF OUR BUSINESS.

An example of how bizarrely my mind works:  if the Duggars were able to look at their successful pregnancy average they would come out looking pretty damn good.  19:20 pregnancies successfully completed.  That's a 95% average folks.  I'm running at 1:2 or 50% right now.  I'm pretty sure my uterus would just up and leave me if I even attempted to cram twenty occupants in over the years.  That would be a total of 180 months of pregnancy.  Crazy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Woman with Cigarettes in the Stroller

Awhile back, I was reading a post that someone wrote about infertility and some of the difficulties being experienced.  The post really affected me and I have been turning it over in my mind for a long time.  I am not linking to the post here, because although I disagree with what was posted, I understand that this woman is very obviously hurting and I do not wish to turn it into a big internet argument.  I just feel like I have to get something off my chest.

In the post, the woman was very angry and saw a woman with a baby in the doctor's office.  The woman with the baby had a pack of cigarettes in the stroller.  The author of the post proceeded to write several paragraphs about how unfair it is that "someone like that" gets a baby when she does not.  When I viewed the comments on the post, I found not one dissenting voice among them.  Every person who commented agreed with this woman.  They all said things that encouraged her to be angry or validated how she felt to an extreme.

My immediate reaction was sympathy for this woman and the pain she is going through.  Because I remember feeling like that.  Sometimes I still feel like that.  I have a family member that I would love to tell you about.  I am pretty sure I could convince 90% of the world population that this person is unworthy of having a child.  And yet, she has one.  And it is so hard for me to act in a supportive way sometimes when all I really want to do is call her out on it.  These people are family, so the story will most likely never be told on this blog (well, you never know, they could do something to really tick me off just as I am logging on some day).  I read a lot of infertile blogs even though I am not an infertile and I hang on their first beta numbers like they are my own.  To me, there are two types of mommies in the world:  the Ones That Have to Work for a Family and the The Ones That Don't.  Though I haven't had trouble getting pregnant in the past, I have had immeasurable difficulties carrying a pregnancy to term and getting to take a baby home from the hospital.  Therefore, I fall under the Ones That Have to Work for a Family.  That really sucks sometimes; I so fervently wish that it would have just come easily.  I wish Matthew were here with me.  I miss the family that was supposed to be every single day of my life.  I miss the person I was supposed to be.

But here's the thing.  The person I was supposed to be was actually incredibly ignorant, like the mom with the cigarettes in the stroller was perceived to be.  I started smoking at age 16.  By 19, I was a heavy smoker and sick of it.  But quitting was really hard.  When I found out I was pregnant at 22, I didn't know what to do, whether I could be a parent.  I smoked while I figured it out.  I was almost 14 weeks pregnant when I quit.  And I will have to live with that for the rest of my life.  I would never have knowingly hurt my child.  I was just ignorant and alone and scared and I didn't get it.  When you smoke, that is your coping mechanism for everything you are going through.  Stressed?  Smoke a cigarette.  It is an addiction, and a nasty one.  They say it is more addictive than heroin, and even today, cigarettes are still my heroin.  Whenever I get anxious or stressed, there is still a piece of my mind that says, "Go to the gas station and buy a pack of cigarettes."  If I didn't have my daughter and had never seen a premature baby, I can assure you I would still be a smoker today.  I was not motivated to quit solely for my own health.  Oh, and when my son died?  I went back to smoking for three months.  I quit when I quit the birth control pill so that we could try for my daughter.  And folks, my daughter was born a year to the day after I quit smoking.  

Even having struggled with the addiction myself, I judge mommies that smoke.  When I smell a cigarette on a mom with a baby in the NICU, I get angry.  I feel like shaking her and screaming and not letting her touch her baby.  I am proud to say that once I understood, once I really got what smoking can do, I quit.  As a 22 year old pregnant girl, I just couldn't visualize that what was happening to my body at 8 weeks pregnant was going to turn into a real live baby that could be damaged by my choices (and not just smoking.  all choices.).  When each of my children have been born, I have had a moment where I'm like, "Holy shit ya'll! A real person was just pulled out of me!  A real baby!"  When you can't visualize the consequences of your choice, it makes it more difficult to do the right thing.  Or perhaps these NICU moms have a medical diagnosis for their child's premature birth and are then able to shove their smoking into a different category so that they do not associate it with the 2 pound infant laying in front of them.  I just see red because, how can they NOT get it at this point in time?  Seriously.

But here's the thing again.  There are many, many women who smoke during pregnancy.  It is so sad, but it's true.  My grandmothers smoked through a collective 9 pregnancies and never had a single complication.  And today, most women that smoke don't experience a single pregnancy complication.  When nothing bad happens to them, they are able to continue assuming that everything will turn out alright if they choose to continue smoking.  It is ignorant.  It does make me angry.  The same way that it makes me angry when a woman who is 5 weeks pregnant practically takes out a billboard to announce her pregnancy because she just cannot conceive that anything would ever go wrong.  Yet, I do not think that these character flaws make her unworthy of having a child.   

Sometimes, for those of us who've really had to work for it, it is difficult to remember that there is not a limited amount of fertility to be handed out.  There is not a limited number of babies in the world.  I did not lose my son so that some drug-addicted mother could keep hers.  It seems like it works like that sometimes, but it doesn't.  Last year during my first year of nursing school there were two girls who got pregnant and managed to glide through the year and deliver perfect babies right after finals.  I was reminded of my own unsuccessful attempt at nursing school and pregnancy and it hurt.  I left without a degree and without a baby.  Even now, trying to time my next pregnancy so that I can still graduate this spring is a subject that produces a lot of anxiety, anxiety that those two girls could never understand.  

No one gets through life with a free ride, never ever experiencing any difficulties.  Sooner or later, we all have difficulties.  For those of us that have had them sooner, it can be hard to look at other people who get seemingly free rides and are being ignorant.  Yet, I wholeheartedly believe that the woman with the cigarettes in the stroller does not deserve our condemnation sight unseen.  I do not know what she has been through.  I do know that quitting smoking is very hard, and it can produce mood swings that are so violent you feel as though you are going insane.  Insane.  Perhaps she chooses to smoke simply because she just doesn't get it and because she can't cope without the cigarettes.  As long as I don't catch her smoking in the car with her baby, I can leave her be.

I do believe that the Ones That Have to Work For It are, as a group, better parents.  I know I am a better parent than I would've been otherwise, just not a perfect parent.  But sometimes we are all guilty of "not getting" what another person is going through.  I'm sure I have posted things here that other people don't get.  I just hope that I am always somehow able to see around my own emotions and biases. And guess what?  None of the Ones That Have to Work for It are going to end up being perfect parents either.  Even if you are smart enough to be a non-smoker.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Is It Time?

AF showed up yesterday, day 35! of my cycle.  I was a little disappointed.  Okay, really really disappointed.  I called Jer (because you know, the workings of my menstrual cycle are big news in this household).  I tried to sound casual because we are not officially TTC anyway, but he sounded so disappointed it almost broke my heart.  I have only minimal experience with this stuff since Matthew was an accident and the Kiddo happened almost instantaneously after dropping the pill, but...shouldn't I be pregnant by now?  Allow me to bore you with the following psychotic timeline.

May 2011:  have an obsession with the negative risks associated with
                 The Pill. Stop taking The Pill and agree to just "be careful" for
                 a few months. "Careful" with us is not that careful.

July 2011:  Jerry starts new job and the long-distance relationship begins.
                All precautionary measures cease to exist, but we refuse to
                admit we are actively trying to make anything happen.

January 2012:  Not freaking pregnant.

Jerry and I agreed that a pregnancy would be best timed if I did not have to worry about being bed-rested during a very physically demanding period of nursing school.  So we reasoned that as long as I didn't hit 20 weeks before graduation (because I am a MANDATORY 20 weeks-bedrest girl) we would be safe.  Since I have the option of continuing schooling next year through a combination of online and occasional classroom learning, we have determined that this would be an ideal time to have another baby.

As of January, I was still in a place where I figured waiting until graduation would be just fine.  And then.  We had a weekend together during which I knew I was in the "danger zone" but proceeded to disregard this.  Had the pregnancy dream.  Proceeded to start having psychosomatic pregnancy symptoms:  sensitivity to smell, headache, vague nausea, tired.  My body obliged me in this fantasy by running several days late during which time I obsessively blew through probably ten pregnancy tests.  Yesterday I reasoned that because the tests I was using expired last year (I compulsively hoard tests), I should run out and buy new fresh ones.  That also came up negative.  And then It started.  

I guess, more than anything else, I am just kinda bowled over by how disappointed I/we were about this.  In my head, I know I am already way overbooked.  I am not getting adequate study time.  I am barely keeping up with handling the Kiddo all by myself.  I am exhausted.  I have a serious addiction to sugar-free Red Bull that needs to be addressed.  I haven't been to the gym in weeks.  My house is a wreck.  I am several assignments behind in one of my classrooms, just barely survived the last two weeks of Midterm Hell, and have yet another paper to write.  And yet.  I was already rearranging things in my head to accommodate this imaginary pregnancy.  So...we are trying to calmly and rationally discuss whether we should be trying this month.  Ugh.