Triggers

When I went through my divorce 6 (6!) years ago, I fully dealt with it.  I can say that I look back now and I just don’t know that person.  I don’t know that wife, that person who signed divorce papers, the person that cried a lot of tears and went through a lot of ups and downs.  Not that I am embarrassed (well, a little) but I have completely changed, as we all do in general and my life is different.  I dealt with it heavily by writing about it, going to therapy, changing my life, changing my attitude, changing my perspective, learning and growing.

I’m proud of that.

However, there are times, when the past never seems far away.  A co-worker of mine has found herself in the midst of her own divorce.  A divorce she knew to be coming at some point as her and her husband have been living separately, two hours apart, for two years.  She finds herself at my desk, almost daily, venting her frustration.  I offer her words of encouragement, advice when she asks, and support. It quickly has taken a turn into the pity party zone though.  The heaviness she brings in each day is suffocating.  To make it worse, it is also affecting another co-worker of mine, a good friend, who still has issues she still hasn’t fully worked through from her divorce. She then starts rehashing from the beginning as well.

I remember clearly the amount of people who were there for me in my divorce days.  I have always returned the favor to each person I have come across in the same situation.  BUT you can’t live in pity party world.  I don’t know how to support you but when you are literally doing nothing for yourself, I just can’t.  Worse though, this is happening at work, not in my home with a glass of wine as friends do.  No, at my desk, while I’m trying to get shit done.

Rehashing the same divorce topics over and over, daily, for me is a trigger.  I suddenly remember these details like it was yesterday and it makes me sick to my stomach.  I fully understand where she is coming from when she talks about the unknown future for herself.  I fully hear her words and nod in agreement when she tears up.  I feel the pain.  But that is just it, I feel the pain come from that scar deep down in myself and I then carry it home. That weight I shed a long time ago is suddenly on my shoulders for no reason because it is hers to carry, not mine.

I went home last week and explained it to my husband.  I suddenly just wanted a date night with him.  I needed the safety net of him, which was stupid and I realized I had to put an end to helping a divorcee in need.

I felt horrible.

I couldn’t walk into work everyday and have two people needing to talk this all out.  With a fresh week, I have ignored the co-worker when she pushes her chair to my desk.  I chirp happily about other things, don’t offer advice, and don’t ask her how she is doing when she offers me the saddest face ever.  Call me horrible.  The other co-worker, my dear friend, we resumed that talk over normal wine drinking hours.  And she also resumed that conversation with her therapist because she is doing something about it.

I’ve been there.  I did my time.  Suffered my pain.  I have supported many friends but the line has to be drawn somewhere.

 

Halloween in the books

We can officially say we have another Halloween stuffed in the books! It was a whirlwind of a week celebrating because that is how we celebrate things, a full week at a time.  Plus, it is the best way to end my favorite month and we got to do so with unseasonably warm weather in the 80’s.  Score!

We have an annual costume party every year, adults only.  Full of boos, food and baseball on the TV.  This year was a Peter Pan theme which stems from the theme of Cora’s nursery.  Hubby was Captain Hook, I was Peter Pan, Cora was Tinkerbell, Fenway was the crocodile and my sister was a mermaid from the lagoon.  We pretty much nailed it if I do say so myself.  Now don’t go thinking I made those myself.  Nope, not that crafty.  But I can order online with the best of them!

I let Tinkerbell spend one day in her costume running around outside because it was 80 in the Midwest.  Bare feet, wand waving, dog chasing, fairy wings flapping and a big, fat, pumpkin bucket in the other hand.  I could not get enough of it.  She eventually plopped down in her favorite spot, in the mulch, and started digging.  Moments I just ate up.

Another day we took her to the city, downtown, to trick-or-treat amongst the businesses. This is where she managed to sneak her first sucker.  Once she figured out what was under the wrapper it was game on.  It was honestly a bit of a flop but we got out, walked around and made the best of it.

The next day she kept up with us during our party.  Happily turning in circles, in the middle of the living room, till she fell down.  She lasted until 9pm and crashed while we kept going till we were all having costume malfunctions.

Then came the actual day of Halloween. The Husband didn’t have time to change into his costume and my sister could barely mange hers during our party so she opted for a simplified back-up of the devil. We loaded up the truck, with a game plan and headed out.  Obviously, going after the treats at this age is more for the adults than for the wee one.  I get it.  For us, it was fun to get her out and see her reaction.  We took her to places that did a couple of different things such as the fire stations, nursing homes and a few churches.  There was so much going on at each that we killed time, took pictures, ran into friends and didn’t have to get in and out of the car seat a million times.  She chased dogs, stared at costumes, screamed at strangers and climbed fire trucks.  Again, I ate up every moment.  We finished up our night at a bar to grab beers and grub.  Our costumes, tattered and stained, were happily tossed to the side when we got home.

This is what Halloween is now.  These memories.  What you make of it with your family, in your little town, on an extra warm October night.  Nothing spooky, just a lot of candy to over eat, more pictures than what may be necessary, a lot of laughter, and the comfort that we get to do it all over again next year.

 

 

 

Another Child?

I didn’t know this was a thing but when you your child turns 1, they are no longer a baby and the tides will turn.  Suddenly, just like the day you were married, your friends and family will take a new interest in your sex life and what might result from that…besides an orgasm. It goes something like this:

  •  You will run into a family member or friend or hell, they may corner you at the 1st birthday party itself!
  • The person will exclaim how quick your child’s first year of life has gone.
  • You will nod your head in agreement.
  • They will then give you that look.  You know that look.
  • Out falls the question, “So, when are you having another one?” or “Isn’t it about time for another one?” or for more options “Are you guys trying for that next one about now?”
  • I eye roll.
  • Fight the urge to say that we had sex on the kitchen counter last night but we were just trying to hurry before my sister came home.
  • My only answer is NO.  Firmly.
  • The person will pout.
  • Then there is this weird, almost attitude that pops out from some, “A lot harder than what you thought, huh?”
  • I bite my tongue so a “fuck you” doesn’t roll off of it and change the subject.

I didn’t know this is where people would really start in on us again.  Every single time the question makes me sick to my stomach.  I don’t want to think about starting from square one.  I don’t want to think about the possibilities and have the 9 months of waiting for something bad to happen.  I’m just not mentally there yet.  I may never be.  I have no idea.

Secondly, this child that I have, doesn’t sleep through the night yet.  We are patiently working our way towards table food.  You guys, we are still in a baby stage if you ask me.  There is still a crib she resides in, an infant carrier she still uses and a 1am bottle we are still fighting.  I have zero desire to add to that anytime soon.  We are at a 2-1 ratio so at least 80% of the time the hubby and I are the bosses.

Thirdly, I’m just enjoying where we are at.  I’m enjoying the stage we are at without having fears in the back of my head to create another one and safely bring it to this world.  I just don’t feel like I want to take anything away from where Cora and I are at right now.

I do have to say, I have people politely ask if the older Cora gets does it make us think about trying for another child soon or at all?  Is it the wording?  Maybe.  Is it their tone?  Probably.  I get the curiosity from people.  I really do.  But this is our lives and I’m really happy with where we are at. I don’t know how I will feel about it down the road or when/if I will want another.  Right now, we are happy and that should be all that matters.

Baby’s First Birthday Party

It was officially time for Cora’s first birthday party!

I learned people either believe first birthday parties are over done and too much or they are just like me and love a reason to celebrate.  Maybe I fall somewhere in the middle. Of course I didn’t over do it because my husband killed my bounce house idea:)  But I also realize I have one, maybe two years tops, of doing her party the way I want to do it before she has her own opinion.  So pumpkins and pink and gold glitter it was.  Just at our home surrounded by loads of friends and family.  We had cupcakes from the same bakery that made our wedding cake, baby shower cake, baptism cake, and all the birthday cakes in between.  We had food and we had booze.  We asked people to show up at 1pm but they showed up at 11am instead.  We had windows thrown open, people crammed in corners, laughter from all angles and the dog happily underfoot picking up the crumbs.

Cora had a pumpkin onesie and pink and gold tutu with matching headband.  All carefully picked from Etsy.  She, amazingly, handled all the people quite well after a well-timed morning nap.  She had no problem figuring out how to open presents and happily showed each one to her little cousin.  She got 6 John Deere tractors, several cars and one dump truck.  (She loves anything with wheels!) She got a ton of wooden puzzles, touch and feel books, legos and balls.  She got one of the worst outfits I have ever seen and an outfit in a size 6?!  Our house is now overflowing with every gadget that has noise and lights.

We all gathered around her and lit her first candle while we sang happy birthday. She looked, wide-eyed, at the flame in front of her and continually tried to grab at it.  Eventually I blew it out for her.  It took her some time but she eventually dug in.  The mess that resulted required a rinse down in the sink and an outfit no longer fit for a party but we didn’t care by then.

Later she settled in for a nap and people settled in for more bottles of wine.  I looked around at all of my amazing friends and family.  You know, some people don’t understand a one year old’s birthday party because the baby will never remember.  I get it, I do.  But it wasn’t just about celebrating her first birthday. It was about my husband and I celebrating the survival of our first year of parenting a baby together.  Keeping her alive for the first year.  Making it through the 4 month sleep regression, the first teeth, the first baby flu, the never-ending first nights, and all the other firsts with her.  It was about celebrating with our friends, who stood by us, supported us, were patient with us, and love our child even though they don’t have to.

I have to say it was even a bit emotional as all these women and I gathered around Cora in her high chair to take a picture.  All these amazing, strong, women who she can look to for support and guidance as she grows older.  These women who each have their crazy own stories and journey’s.  My village.  My people.  My family.  Her village.  Her people.  Her family.

The last person left the party at 11pm that night.  Cora lasted till 9pm before crashing.  I sat on the couch with my husband, lingering over a glass of wine, talking about the party.  Talking about where we were at in our lives a year ago.  Two years ago.  Talking about how happy we were to just be there in that moment.

Tomorrow, on her actual birthday, just the Husband and I will take the day off.  We will take her to the Children’s Museum in the city and walk around downtown looking at the fall trees.  We will go home and carve pumpkins while watching Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin.  Again, she won’t know what the day means but we will because we will know that a year prior our lives were changing.  Then this weekend the hubby and I will go to dinner and celebrate our 4th anniversary.  Another day that changed our lives.  I can truly tell you, I don’t know where I would be without all of our Octobers.  I also can’t wait to see what the next year holds for us.

 

 

 

 

This is 11 months

Let the mimicking begin! I love this phase.  Cora is becoming more and more interactive by the day.  She repeats words and actions so we really have to watch our pirate mouths around her now.  She has her words she actually knows and then she has her own words for things such as Fenway.  I don’t know how she says it, but we know when she is yelling her own version of the word.  She will stand at the back door and yell for her to come in or come up the steps.  They are just the best of buds.

When she turned 11 months we started getting rid of bottles.  You can read about that here.

She is obsessed with wipes. If I turn my back she will find a wipe container or pull them out of her diaper bag.  She will then go around the house scrubbing everything from the floor to the counters.  I guess that is a good habit for her to pick up.  She also loves to have her own wipe when we change her diaper and she likes to wipe her own business.

She loves cars.  When she was about 9 months old she started making car noises, running her cars all over people and things.  Now it is full blown.  She especially loves to fill up her dump truck and push her important things around in it.  Sippy in back, binky in the cab. Apparently all the kids at day care are also into cars so they sit in a circle and push them back and forth to one another.  Also, it kinda helps daddy drives all these big trucks too!

Every day we go over where our belly button, nose, eyes and mouth are at.  Then one day as I was going over them she stayed one step ahead and pointed them all out to me.  It was a yea, I got this mom, we don’t have to keep talking about it moment.  Now when you ask her where a nose is, you should be prepared, she will aggressively point out your nose.

She has also spent some time perfecting her tantrum as well. I don’t particularly love this phase and I know it will only get worse.  Unfortunately I know she is mimicking the daycare provider’s daughter, who is two, and who has quite the attitude.  Sigh.  This includes throwing herself backwards or forwards onto the floor. Good times.  Picking up bad habits from her friends already.

This month we also had our first code brown situation in the bath tub.  My sister was giving her a bath when we heard the screams for help.  Apparently a side lift happened, she looked right at her aunt and then…floaters.  She was quickly whisked away, dumped in my arms, while the husband was left to Clorox.  Auntie has yet to give another bath.

We have finally moved her into 12 month clothing and I think she has almost hit 19 lbs.  We will find out at her 1 year appointment.  As I finish writing this we are just two days away from her 1st birthday.  These past few weeks have been full of remembering just where we were at last year at this time.  The waiting, the preparation, the bouncing on that damn exercise ball.  And more waiting….amazing how quickly a year flies by versus those 9 months of pregnancy.

 

Family Dynamics

It is amazing how having a baby changes a family’s dynamic.  Suddenly some family becomes closer to you and your new or growing family.  Sometimes it pushes some family further away.  And then there are other times it just brings out the true colors in the rest.  While we are busy preparing for Cora’s first birthday party this weekend, I am looking back on her first year with all of this family and seeing what she has done for us all.

I have watched my Husband’s parents struggle with their relationship with our daughter.  I think there are several factors that go into this, that with time will get easier.  These are factors though, that I don’t think my Husband or I thought would play such a big part.

Then there are my husbands siblings.  They have more important things to attend to than her baptism, birth or birthday.  They have only seen her very few times, have no relationship with her and don’t know anything about her unless it is posted on Facebook.

On the other hand, I have watched how Cora has brought my siblings and I closer.  My brother called today, as he stood in the toy aisle at Walmart, he was overwhelmed by all the options for a perfect birthday gift.  He didn’t want to screw it up.  Him, his wife, and my nephew drive out more often and join us for more adventures with the kids than they ever did before.

My sister lives with us, so that is a given.

Cora has given my Mom more hope and happiness as we continue to deal with my Dad and his declining Alzheimer’s.

Then there is even more extended family on both sides.  They haven’t made a move to come meet her and for that matter we haven’t made a move to go to them.  Others we have seen more in the past year than we have in the past 5 years combined! It isn’t just about meeting up for the obligatory Christmas dinner anymore because there is a baby to be held on a random day in May!

And then there are the friends we consider family.  The ones that aren’t hesitating giving up their Saturday to attend a 1 years olds birthday party.  (I promised wine though!) These are the ones that Cora also has a relationship with. The ones that lay on the floor with her while she plays whack-a-mole on their heads.  The ones that keep tabs on her.  The ones that ask for more pictures on social media.  (I post too much, I think.)  The ones that are near and far that love her very much and enjoy seeing her grow. The ones that could have distanced themselves from me because they enjoy a kid free life and lets face it, those with babies, can kill a social life.

I’m not pitting this as one family against the other or one friend against the other. I remember when I was pregnant, the hubby and I would talk about the relationships some may have with our child.  You dream about those first meetings after her birth, the holiday get-togethers, the birthday parties.  We eventually had to let all those preconceived notions fly out the window.  They were wrong.  What we have today is a lot of love surrounding us in a way we never could have imagined.  At the end of the day, isn’t that all that matters?

This is where we are at today

We haven’t seen Rebecca since the last week of May.  This week things that have been spiraling out of control with her and have hit an all time low. I fear they will go lower though.  There is so much going on that I can’t write about it, I don’t know how to explain it and quite honestly I don’t want to.  How do you start from the beginning?

It plagues my mind at all hours, I fear my worst nightmares are coming true.  I have no control.

7:30pm- I walked, on the treadmill, at a fierce incline, while I spoke on the phone, getting the latest updates.  Hearing how, once again, people seem to have their own story of what happened years ago.  They still blame me.  Whatever happens today, they blame me.  Even though I was not given that control.

Sweat it out. Keep climbing that hill, huffing and puffing into the phone. Chugged water.

I spent a lot in therapy for this.  Well, this and my divorce.  It was worth it, right?

Later I spent an hour sobbing on the phone with my ex-husband. He reassured me.  He gave me a pep talk.  He reiterated how we fought hard in court when she was younger.  We can fight again.  We will fight again.  We will go day by day.  He reminded me how we knew this was going to happen and that time has come.  He is literally the only one who knows exactly how I feel in this moment.

I said I don’t know if I have it in me all over again.  Maybe I should start going back to my therapist.

]I thanked God for an ex-husband who I do not hate.  A man who is a good man.  I thanked God he married a woman, who may struggle with this situation, but wants to support our decisions.

I poured a glass of wine.

I cried to my husband. I thanked God for a husband who lets me sit and sob in the phone to my ex-husband and then lets me cry on his shoulder.   A man who supports us in our decisions as well and loves that little girl.

I checked the baby monitor.  Thanked God for a safe, sleeping baby in the next room.  I packed the diaper bag for the next day.  No matter what she does as a teenager, it won’t hit this level so I have that going for me.

I poured another glass of wine and took it to the bathroom with me, to take a shower. I blasted the hot water and stepped in, closing my eyes, feeling the exhaustion come over me as it does every night.  The quicker the shower, the quicker I can fall asleep.  Why haven’t they made a way to just sleep in the shower because seriously, I could fall asleep here.

I mentally run through my check list for the next day.  My brain goes right back to Rebecca.  Horrible scenarios creep back in.  I need to remember to order Cora’s 1st birthday cupcakes.  What if Rebecca fails 8th grade? What will the lawyer say when I call him after all these years?  What will I say?  Do we need to do that yet?  I need tights for under Cora’s birthday tutu.  I wonder if I can run to Target at lunch tomorrow?  The old me, pre-second marriage, pre-baby, would be pounding away into my computer, blogging my frustration.  All I can do is write this in my head.

I click off the shower.  I sit on the edge of the bathtub, in my towel and breathe.  I take a sip of wine.  And breathe.  I need to remember to breathe.  Why am I hungry?  Did I finish my dinner?  No, Cora was crying at my feet.  I put her to bed. I forgot about my plate of food.  I should grab a quick snack.  First I need pajamas.

I fall into bed with no snack.  My mind runs.  I swear the only thing that baby wakes to is my head hitting the pillow.  I watch, on the monitor, as she rolls around whining on and off for 30 minutes.  I fight the urge to go in there with a bottle.  I fight the urge to fall asleep because I know I’ll give in.  I wonder ways to break the middle of the night bottle while I wonder how to get through to the 14 year old falling apart at the seams.  I wonder when I should call the nurse back on the diaper rash and I wonder what to text the teenager the next day.  I thank God we have made it till she is 14. I don’t know how we have.  The next 4 years could kill me though.

Tears slide down my face.  I don’t know if I can do it all again.  I worry it will take away from Cora.  I feel the weight of it all.  How did this become my life?  This thing that no one seems to understand.  The few that do understand shake their heads at me, I feel their sympathy because they too know how fucked up the system is for kids.  They don’t have the answers either.  None of my friends have asked how Rebecca is.  They haven’t asked where she has been.  We are an island. At least I’m not on it completely alone.

I give in, get a bottle, and go get Cora out of her crib.  The sooner she gets back to sleep the sooner I can go to sleep.  We snuggle up in the rocking chair and I breathe her in.  I think about all of the things parents worry about with their babies.  When they walk, what they eat, what diapers are the best, formula vs the breast, when to start preschool, the best developmental toys and oh yes, this damn middle of the night bottle we can’t get rid of.   All those things, sometimes make me shake my head.  Do you know how much harder it gets?  How much harder it could be.

I stop and make myself breathe in this quiet moment in her room.  Her sleepy body, curled up against mine.  But then she breaks that moment by screaming as she has emptied that 2oz bottle quicker than what she wanted.  I give her the binky, she throws it across the room, throws herself backwards, screams at the top of her lungs and I just move her back to the crib.  By the time I’m back to my room she has rolled over and fell asleep.

We can always try again tomorrow night with that bottle situation.  Tomorrow is another day.  Maybe it will be better.  Maybe it will be worse.  Where was I at in my checklist?  I’m still hungry.  I should take tomorrow off.  No, I’ll get up in 3 1/2 hours and do it all over again.  Because that is where we are at right now.  1:34am.

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