Fight or Flight

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Remember how I said some things get fuzzy with Rebecca’s story? This is another one of those times.  I could go into tiny details about life with her but there is no need.  We just lived our lives like anyone else with a child and she started growing up.  We graduated from college with an Elmo cake at our party because someone was also turning two and that was far my important.  Two years of her in our lives and at this point she didn’t know who her real bio parents were because they had spent all this time in jail.  A week after graduation we moved from our dingy apartment to a brand new home.  To top it off my ex got the job that would change our lives and ultimately save us financially but would kill our marriage.  (My stomach lurches just writing that.)

At some point her bio mom got out of jail and decided it was time to try parenting again.  This thought apparently never occurred to my Ex and I or we were ignoring the inevitable. One of the two.  This is where we should have put our foot down.  Instead we gave her bio Mom the benefit of the doubt and tried to do what was fair.  Never did anything fair happen to us in return, let me tell you.  Her bio Mom only wanted to parent when it was once again convenient for her and then Rebecca was still with us the rest of the time.  Her bio Mom was still getting high and out partying with random guys.  The problem started when bio Mom wanted to make rules and here poor Rebecca just had no idea who she really was. Bio Mom would smother her and treat her like an infant because she just truly didn’t know what to do with her.  The child she had birthed was just a stranger to her and vice versa.  It also didn’t help that she was wacked out on her meds and stoned so what kid wants to be around that?  I can tell you one thing, kids aren’t stupid, they know when things aren’t right.

It got to the point where family members that never wanted to have an opinion started to have one.  Started piping their white trash mouths up because we started making noise.  We started to really freak out every time Rebecca was with her bio Mom.  Leaving Rebecca at a casino day care to go get drunk and gamble, taking her around strange men in strange homes, not keeping a schedule with her and ultimately not keeping her safe.  The stories were piling up and my Ex and I were freaking out. Then began her bio Mom began being shipped in and out of a psych wards and rehab.  Are you still with me in this tangled web?

This is the point where I wish I had my blog at that time.  I can’t recall all the horrific stories because I think I just choose not too.  They are tucked away in a large box with legal information in the closet.  Someone once read my old blog from front to back and said it was best when it was written at the time I was going through something not looking back on it.  That is how I feel writing Rebecca’s story now.  I don’t know how to dig down to get to the depth of sheer despair at each phase my Ex and I went through with her.  I don’t know how to convey the terror and fear. It was living in a horrible movie and not being able to get up and walk away. And not one single person understood.

One night does still stick me with me though.  It was like I knew something bad was happening even on the way there that night.

Bio Mom was staying at my Grandparents home in the basement and we went to drop Rebeeca off one night.  She was almost 3 by this point and all hell broke loose.  Rebecca would often cry when we dropped her off but this was a full on panic attack, screaming and kicking her bio Mom, yelling how she didn’t want to stay with her and she wanted to go home with “Mom & Dad.” All this little one knew was life was fine until this crazy person came along that we dropped her off with every now and then and it was a scary place.  I don’t know how I held it together as three adults attempted to hold her back while we had to walk out the door and I lost it in the front yard.  My Ex had to pick me up and put me in the truck with tears running down his own face.

I couldn’t do this anymore.  Neither of us could.  Technically the three of us couldn’t.  This was a fucking mess.  A big fucking mess and no one would look at the obvious.  While we had been in contact with CPS about what we could do it was the same song and dance.  They kept giving her another chance and there wasn’t enough proof of anything.  They needed to walk in to the child close to death to do something more.  They flat-out told me they just didn’t have the resources.

Three years of raising that baby and it was time to do something about it.  We had no rights and we didn’t want her to be the next baby to drown in the bathtub or tossed in a river by the mentally ill parent strung out on God knows what.

It was fight or flight time and we were fighting because she was all we had to give her a chance at life.

Where the Tables Began to Turn

Part One

Part Two

I always knew most of the problems that Rebecca’s biological Mom had but I didn’t know them all.  What I did know of, I don’t think I truly understood.  They were big mental health words that sounded like they belonged in a movie.  Unfortunately there were a lot of other things going on in that household that I didn’t know of.  Rebecca’s biological Mom was living with her biological Dad and one night when Rebecca was with us, their home was raided and both parents arrested.  Dealing drugs, using drugs, weapons in the home, gang activity…you name it, it was probably happening and off to prison they went.

Insert family drama.  More specifically, Rebecca’s Grandma who was receiving guardianship of her by default.  Trust me, not really the next best choice.  She had her own fair share of mental issues and a drinking problem.  Hell, she had let enough crazy men into her life to abuse her kids growing up but the child system let her go ahead and have guardianship anyways.  Easy for her though when she realized we would do it all.   Mainly because we had been doing it all.

Perhaps this is where we realized we were in the middle of a mess.  We had no legal rights but we did it all, bought it all.  We knew how to put this baby to sleep and knew what every fuss meant.  This baby knew us and cried when we handed her over to anyone else, including the Grandma.  One specific day I went to pick up her up to find her crawling under Grandmas kitchen table getting ready to chow down on some prescription pills that had been left spilled on the floor.  And the hits just kept coming, over and over. That is where I could write story after story.

I was young, we were young.  We were frustrated but what do you do?  Yes, I called CPS.  No, there was nothing they could do.  Was there proof? Was the baby physically abused? OBVIOUSLY we were over-reacting according to them.  For the next few years I would grow increasingly frustrated by CPS.  I would learn the horror that kids go through because the system is so absolutely fucked up.  But I was one of two people trying to fight a huge up hill battle and we were tangled in the mess.  There was no walking away.  The point you realize you are fucked is always too late.  All we could do was start documenting everything.

This right here is where people get lost in our story.  What do you mean no one would help?  Someone spanks their kid in a parking lot and the kid gets yanked out of the house for good.  No.  The system is very broken.  The system doesn’t work.  The system is not a system, it is a joke.  This is where kids don’t get the help and safety that they need because this system is over-run, out-dated and needs an overhaul.  These kids need help. 

So we did what we could.

Rebecca was one happy baby with us and the two days out of the week she wasn’t with us she would spend crying and upset. Which left me crying and upset. Which left my ex stressed out.  But damn we clung to one another like a raft.  Our families started really understanding what was going on and tried to be supportive but that was all they could do.  So we kept on.  School, baby, school, baby.  At this time we had no problem keeping her.  No one else cared to speak up and actually want to raise Rebecca. So we were it.  Throwing her first birthday party, watching her take her first steps, teaching her how to feed herself, listening to her say “da da” for the first time (to my ex), letting her scream on Santa’s lap at Christmas, and taking her for hay rack rides.

There we were on our own life raft just holding on.  Two college kids finishing school with a house full of bright plastic toys, extra diapers shoved in our back packs and empty sippy’s lost under the couch.  My ex and I didn’t know what else to do besides keep going forward and hoping someone would direct us at some point.  Hoping perhaps things would just work out on their own. But hoping was useless to be honest.  Whether you believe in God’s plan or not it fucking sucked.  We loved that kid more than our own lives by this point.

College Life, Meet Rebecca

To read the first part of Rebecca’s story, start here.

You know when something big happens and you think you will remember the details?  The details that keep you up every night while you are in the thick of it all but later you bury them away.  I labored over those details years later while a lawyer harped on me to remember them all.  Yet now I look back and it is all a bit fuzzy.  I’m sure it is fuzzy for a reason.

During my divorce I sat in my therapist’s office and she asked me about Rebecca.  The therapist made me share the story and looked at me dumbfounded.  Somehow I don’t think it was the professional thing to do but she pulled it together and asked if I ever talked to anyone about it, had some help coping?  I remember picking at the couch and quietly answering, Nope.

Silence.

She looked amazed I hadn’t slit my wrists or something.  Because really that is the look she had on her own face while she asked me,  How did you deal with it all?

I got up every day and I just did it.  There was no other option.  Life didn’t hand me any other option. I didn’t want to talk about it.  So we didn’t.

If I remember right, her biological Mom asked me to take her after the wedding. You know, just for the  weekend.  Would you like to help me out?  I could use a break.

How could I say no?

My ex-husband and I loaded her up and took her to college with us.  This is where things really get fuzzy.  The avalanche that happened.  One day we were college students and the next we were college students with a tiny baby in tow.  Rebecca would stay for longer and longer periods of time as her biological Mom “needed a break.”  The Mom that is bi-polar, manic-depressive, and everything else on the list.  The Mom that was selling drugs from her apartment, with Rebecca’s biological Dad, as that man kept an arsenal of loaded weapons in the place that would soon help land him in jail.

Days turned into weekends, that turned into long weekends.  It all ran together with her biological Mom hardly wanting to see her.  Both my ex and I worked at a day care, which worked out great during the day.  Then she would be tucked in her car seat while he worked nights at the radio station and we would go from staying in dorms to staying at a friend’s apartment.  Nights weren’t just spent studying but were spent walking the halls with an infant that was born with marijuana  in her system.  Which in turn means a very fussy baby that was constantly gassy and never kept a bottle down.

In those first weeks neither my ex or I questioned it. It just happened.  This baby in our lives and no, my ex NEVER questioned it.  It was like we knew this was just supposed to happen. I really cannot explain the slow cycle that this turned into.

I just remember pieces from that beginning.  The swing we kept at the friend’s apartment that gave us reprieve as we studied for finals.   How we went from watching ER every Thursday night to crowding around the baby and entertaining her.  Late nights of switching on and off with the ex to get some sleep. Learning the cost of diapers and formula because there was never enough sent along in Rebecca’s bag.

Just like that our lives were nothing like what we knew.  You know when people tell first time parents how their lives will never be the same, well ours never were.  It sounds funny now but I think it actually made my ex and I stronger as a couple.  Perhaps though, deep down, this is the one thing we were good at together.

While my ex and I had been together for years before any of this, it was this path that was a turning point.  It was all of this that changed our relationship.  That baby was becoming the glue for my ex and I without us knowing.

Our First Meeting

“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” -Joseph Campbell

I can remember the first day I held her.  It was her Aunt’s wedding to some man I don’t even remember.  The wedding was in a VFW of sorts and there were streamers as decorations.  The kind you use for a 6 year old’s birthday party, not for a wedding.  The centerpieces were some sort of pop-up plastic wedding bells and the food was served on cheap plastic plates that fell through with any type of weight.

It was my cousin’s wedding.  A cousin I didn’t have a ton of association with but she asked me to grab my camera and take some pictures.  I felt like we should be on some prank hillbilly show on CMT, the whole thing was such a disaster.  I remember rolling my eyes at the keg in the middle of the room, the lack of soda and the balloons that bobbed around the doorway.

I walked from table to table, talking to family members I had slowly quit acknowledging over the years.  That was easy to do when you didn’t grow up close to them.  At some point she was plopped in my arms.  She was in a little white dress and a mere 6 weeks old.  Her mother, the bride’s sister, looked stoned and haggard.  She needed a cigarette and didn’t care who held the infant, just as long as it wasn’t her.

I caught myself fully entranced by her.  I had been around hundreds of babies in my life but somehow this one felt different.  She slept soundly and I stroked her sleek black hair and dark skin.  She felt infinitely light and looked like a doll.   My gut instantly told me something whether I knew it or not.

The music may have been fast but I rocked slowly back and forth and looked for her mother to come back but she didn’t.  Little did I know she was probably out the back door catching a high that she liked to keep while she was pregnant with the little one in my arms.

It was a peaceful first meeting.  Nothing like the life that would lay before us.  There are major flashes of that day stuck in my head, all meaningless, except for the one.  The one where I just looked at that sleeping baby for so long not realizing that my life changed for forever.  Nothing after that moment kept me in the norm.  Nothing after that moment was in my control.  God had a plan that was set into motion and it couldn’t be stopped.

I stood there rocking a baby Rebecca and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into or that I had already fallen in love with someone I didn’t know.

I would be lying if I would say I haven’t gone back to that moment in my head and wondered if I would change it.  If I would hand her back over, walk away and gone back to my college life.  The truth is we make a path for ourselves in this life to learn, to grow.  In the hardest of times I believe that is what we are meant for.  That tiny moment forever changed the course of my life and as much as I curse it sometimes, I wouldn’t change it.  It was the first day of my life with Rebecca.

To Tell Her Story, Is to Tell Mine

On my old blog I did a series of posts that explained just who Rebecca was and where exactly she came from.  On this blog, I don’t quite talk about her as often just in case someone we know IRL finds out about this site.  You could say I am a bit more cautious this time around because I don’t want to have to start over again.  The only major story I have ever really shared of her is here.  But she is my life and changed it the moment she came into it.  To know Rebecca’s story is to know mine.  Now that we know this new little one is safely on its way, I feel the need to share Rebecca’s story over here for those of you who didn’t know me in my pre-blog life.

For one, her real name is not Rebecca, but the name of her favorite American Girl Doll.  When I started my new blog I asked her what she wanted her name to be here and that is what she suggested.  At 12 years old, she understands the blog world and those friends that exist in it.  She has even had the chance to meet a few other bloggers and she is absolutely fascinated by it.

She is very aware of her story, our story, as we have never kept anything from her.  We are open to any and all questions she has had and will have as she gets older.  It is her life, her story, what has changed her.

As we tell people that we are pregnant, those that don’t know us well or of Rebecca, often ask if this is my first child.  I have to say I have a 12-year-old I have raised and this is my first successful pregnancy.  That is a loaded answer, I know, but the one way I feel most comfortable to answer.  Every family is different and on Monday I will start sharing our story.  It isn’t just about Rebecca, myself and my Husband.  It is also about my ex-husband a man who she considers her Dad, a man who has been there for her everyday and continues to be.  it is a story that leaves everyone with an opinion but we have grown past the point where we give a shit.  We do what we can everyday and hope it is what is right.  After all, isn’t that what any parent hopes for?

To Our New Normal

After having a positive ultrasound yesterday we feel like we are able to relax into this pregnancy a bit and finally get excited!  We spent last night calling and texting close friends and family before we take it to social media.  I realized a few things amongst all the phone calls.

*I am very grateful I have Grandparents to call and share the news with.  Their questions and comments are so very different and humorous compared to everyone else’s.  One Grandma questioned why I needed to quit drinking wine because she drank and smoked through all 7 of her pregnancies.  The other spent 5 minutes trying to find a pen and paper to write down the news with the due date so she didn’t forget the next day.

*A baby, in general, makes everyone a little nutty but in a fun way.

*People have no boundary lines with their questions and are all set with instant advice.

*I became the dinner topic in a few houses where the people felt the need to recall me to say just how excited everyone was.

*I was much more excited to make individual calls to my friends and family.  I didn’t want them to find out via social media instead of us.  My Husband, not so much.  He also doesn’t have as close of a relationship with his family so apparently they are getting the social media announcement.

*The hardest phone call was to my cousin who has had years of infertility problems and just last week switched to my doctor.

While everyone had a million questions, I didn’t have many answers.  No, we don’t know what it is, yes we will find out May 27th, no we won’t tell you what names we have picked out, no I don’t know how I’m decorating the nursery, sure you can send us baby stuff you have already purchased (how weird, you hoarders) and yes, I feel fine.  Otherwise our lives are going on as normal.  We have a basement to finish and a rental house we almost have sold. (God willing that damn thing will be gone May 12 and I will celebrate.)  My sister moves in with us in less than two months, I will become a Godmother this weekend, once the house sells then we will be purchasing a boat, we have a few mini vacations to plan for this summer, and you know, summer.  I think we can manage to entertain ourselves till this baby makes an appearance next fall.

 

 

12 Weeks- A Healthy Baby

It was the high risk office, not the same as before.  It was a different tech, a student nurse in the corner, more questions than last time and the goal of everyone in the room was to make sure this time around, there was a heartbeat. My anxiety was through the roof, I had to pee, and I tried some deep breathing while I waited for the screen to pop up.  Immediately the tech said “We have a heartbeat.”

And then my Husband grabbed my hand and we all loudly exhaled while a few relief tears slid down my face.

I seriously cannot explain the relief that we felt in that moment.  Like the biggest weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

From there the tech got down to business.  Baby had no intention of sitting still and it could have possibly had something to do with my one cup of coffee I allow myself a day.  Baby was rolling, turning, waving hands and alternating thumbs in the mouth.  The tech was doing everything possible to click and measure at just the right time before baby was moving again.  Finally, once baby stuck both thumbs in her/his mouth, the tech felt like she was getting somewhere.

The main purpose of this ultrasound was for genetic testing of down syndrome.  They take measurements and look at specific things, along with some blood work that won’t come back for a week.  Our high risk perintologist, who fell out of Grey’s Anatomy looking damn hot, came in and went back over everything the nurse talked with us about.  He said so far nothing seemed out of normal.  All baby pieces were growing as they should be and were all there.  A few things we are going to keep an eye on though are babies growth and heart.  I have cardiac problems and I am on a beta blocker medication.  That medicine is fine to take while pregnant but can slow the growth of baby, therefore we will have a second anatomy scan at 30 weeks.  Also, baby will have its own EKG at around 24 weeks due to the family cardiac and heart murmur issues.  It is more of a proactive approach with both that I am perfectly fine with.

After some lab work I happily took a walk down to my OB’s office without having to take the back way as we did last time.  I’ll remain high risk for the time being and she once again mentioned that if I am feeling any anxiety about baby to just call and I can come in and have an ultrasound with her to ease my mind.  Just knowing that is an option really helps.

Secondly, we discussed my workout regimen. I needed reassurance as I have been getting some flack from some friends that have known about my pregnancy.  These friends all seem to have advice that lines up with them not knowing shit but making me feel like a bad parent.  The doc reassured me that I am doing nothing wrong.  In fact, I should NOT quit my normal yoga routine (which includes Piyo and Ashtanga yoga) and drop down to prenatal yoga because that could actually be worse for my body.  She asked me to make her life easier and keep up my workouts.  By doing so I lower the chances of a c-section, will have an easier labor and will be less likely to push as long.  She has had countless marathon runners, personal trainers, crossfit fanatics, yoga and the like people who all continue working out till the day they go into labor as long as baby and Mom are happy and safe.

I walked out feeling in control of this pregnancy for the first time.  I feel like we have a future, like we can plan, like we can finally get excited.  I feel like I have more of a connection to this baby and can sleep better at night knowing we are going to end up okay.  I finally feel like I have a grip on everything and can doing that crazy thing called breathing easier.  I know we have 6 months to go but it feels like we are on the downhill of what has been a long journey.